Monday, August 21, 2017

Early Review of The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare

Title: The Duchess Deal
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Meets Duke
Format: Hardcover; 288 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 22, 2017)
ISBN-10: 006269720X
ISBN-13: 978-0062697202
Author's Website:
Notes: I received a copy of the ARC at the annual RWA conference in Orlando.

Once upon a time a young seamstress, down-on-her-luck, decided to take matters into her own hands. She put on the wedding dress that had been ordered but never paid for, marched into her client's ex-fiance's house, and demanded payment. Little did she know the man, a Duke, would make her a  proposition--one she'd find she couldn't refuse...

 "Here is your choice, Miss Gladstone. I can pay you the two pounds, three shillings." (...) "Or," he said, "I can make you a duchess."
This is an example of Tessa Dare at her finest.The Duke of Ashbury, was injured during the war. He bears most of his battle scars on his face and many have trouble meeting his gaze as they are unable to see past his scars. Since returning from the war he's lost his fiance, become a recluse, and moonlights in the evening as a vigilante earning himself the moniker 'the Monster of Mayfair'. He knows a love match is not in his future so when Emily Gladstone barges into his study and doesn't cower, isn't appalled by his appearance, appears to be of genteel background, and is rather pretty, even in the horrendously gaudy gown his former fiance chose, he decides she's the one that he wants.

Emily is a strong young woman and a talented seamstress. For six years she's had to fend for herself and has done rather well considering her circumstances. When the duke makes his offer she doesn't immediately accept thinking it to be some kind of ruse to make her his mistress. When he persists in his pursuit, she finally takes him seriously, but timid she is not. She gives as good as she gets and doesn't let him get away with bullying her. She challenges him every step of the way and slowly coaxes and lures him out of his self imposed isolation and back into the land of the living.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a deliciously sweet and sexy romance that had elements reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast. It's a book about seeing beyond the facade one presents to the world and seeing into the heart and soul of the individual who lurks beneath. I loved the way Emily handled Ash and the way she gently teased and coaxed the beast right out of him. While he tried not to show it, Ash had a lot of pent up anger and emotions he needed to work through. In some ways he mourned the loss of who he used to be. It took Emily to show him that he still had much to live for and while his outside appearance might have changed he was still the same man on the inside. I absolutely adored this one. On the Lisarenee Romance Reading Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I very much enjoyed this one.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Early Review of Disorderly Conduct (Academy #1) by Tessa Bailey

Title: Disorderly Conduct
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 29, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062467085
ISBN-13: 978-0062467089
Author's Website:
Notes:  All quotes need to be checked against final copy as they are subject to change. I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Ever Carmichael has been told from little on that you can have anything you want in this world, but don't you dare believe a man when he says he can give it to you. You see, Ever comes from a long line of mistresses. Unlike her predecessors, however, she has scruples. She doesn't go for married men only those married to their jobs. When she spies Charlie at a bar he appears to holds all the right signs of being married to his law enforcement career. So she puts him through a series of questions to find out if he fits her criteria. He answers all of them correctly save one...

"Which part of the movie Titanic did you cry over?"(...)
"When the old people are holding each other in the bed..all the water rushing around them. I might have gotten a little misty."

Charlie Burns is not like the other men she's known. Is he a relationship guy disguised a s a casual fling? She just can't figure him out. When she decides to throw caution to the wind and give in to the attraction she'll get more than she ever bargained.
This was a traditional romance disguised as an erotic read. Thankfully, Charlie and Ever introduced themselves (yes, my friends have laughed at me for complaining about this not being the case in an erotic read) before going at it like rabbits. I found myself in equal measures laughing and shaking my head at this couple. Charlie is a bit full of himself at the start and Ever manages to keep him on his toes and, surprisingly, makes him prove he's worthy of her love. He's never too sure of his standing with her and she kind of likes it that way.

Ever is convinced that after a month she'll drop Charlie like a brick and never look back. Charlie has other ideas. There is a lot of fun wrapped up in this small story, and some of the things Charlie does to win Ever over are hilarious. I couldn't help but come away from this story with a huge grin on my face.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. Usually I don't go above 4 with erotic reads, but I loved these two as a couple enough to forgo that rule. The only thing that slightly annoyed me was his nickname of 'cutie' for Ever. It kind of rubbed me kind of the wrong way--think nails on chalkboard--although for the life of me I have no idea why. I guess it's just one of those unexplainable things. While the speed dating episode could have come off a little creepy I found it rather charming, if a little devious. The image it conjured in my head left me laughing all day. On the Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning--make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. This was a truly enjoyable read. lol

Monday, August 14, 2017

Early Review of Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Title: Invictus
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 031650307X
ISBN-13: 978-0316503075
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.

Once upon a time a boy was born out of time. His mother was a time traveler from 2354 AD sent to accurately record history when it happened as it happened. His father was a gladiator hailing from ancient Rome in the year 95 AD. There are rules about such liaisons, but one can't always choose whom one will fall in love with. The transgression alone did not cause reason for alarm. What did, however, was that while traveling between times Far's mother, Empra, gave birth. At first things appeared to be just fine, but then strange and unexplainable things began to happen...

This is Farway 'Far' Gaius McCarthy's story.

Out of the night that covers me, 
 Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
 My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
   How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
I am the captain of my soul. 


Far is about to graduate from the Academy. He's top in his class and doesn't make mistakes only calculated risks. When he takes his final exam, however, something goes amiss. He's convinced someone sabotaged his examination simulation program, but no one will believe him. They say that's just not possible and "final exams are final." The result is him not graduating and instead of becoming a cadet who travels through time, he's grounded with no possibility of the decision ever being reversed. So instead of earning a spot of the coveted Central Time Machine as he'd hoped, he's offered the illegal, yet much more lucrative position of commander of his own ship. He'll lead a crew of essentially time bandits and they'll travel through time rescuing historical artifacts, documents, books, etc. before they're destroyed forever by the ravages of war, natural disasters, fire and time. Did his potential future employer or someone else sabotage his Sim module or is something much more nefarious underfoot? He'll eventually get to the bottom of things. It'll just take some time. Luckily, he appears to have all the time in the world.*smirk*

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was a fun story that dealt with time traveling and multiverses. It also deals with the butterfly affect and how one seemingly small and insignificant change can bring about large unforeseeable consequences. Additionally, it inspires one to question what things could go wrong if people could time travel, and if you could change one decision in your life how would your life be different? Surrounded by a crew of his best friends I enjoyed watching this merry band of traveling companions travel through time and uncover a few treasures and mysteries along the way. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Driver by Hart Hanson

Title: The Driver: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages
Publisher: Dutton (August 8, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1101986360
ISBN-13: 978-1101986363
Author's Website: n/a
Notes: I received an eARC from the publisher through Netgalley. Thank you.

Michael Skellig is a highly decorated war veteran. When he left the military he pursued a career in politics hoping to make a difference that would benefit injured and returning veterans. When he learned it would be years before anyone would reap the benefits of what he was doing, he quit politics, opened a limo service, and employed veterans who needed a hand up and not a hand out. To date he has three employees two of which are veterans. One is nicknamed Tinkertoy who is dealing with psychological issues among them PTSD and the other is Ripple, a double amputee dealing with the loss of his limbs and, subsequently, his wife. The third employee is an illegal immigrant whom Michael somehow managed to smuggled into the country from Afghanistan. All three depend on him and together have formed an unlikely bond for better or worse.

At first running a limo service seemed fairly simple and straightforward until one day, while waiting for a client, he heard trouble (literally and figuratively) whispering on the wind. When he goes to make sure his latest job isn't cut short by a killing, he stops an assassination attempt and, in doing so, gets caught in the middle of one deadly game. This is that story.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this one. A skateboarder hip-hop mogul? A limo driver? It seemed like a strange mix. Michael Skellig did not impress me all that much at first, but he sort of grew on me as the story progressed. He's a man who does what needs to be done and, unlike many, takes everything into account before acting.  He's also haunted by the ghosts of those he's killed so while he may have no regrets over what he's done, he's not totally unaffected either.

Bismarck Avila reminded me of a black rough and tough street punk version of Tony Hawk. I would have liked him to have had a little more depth to his character because I felt it would have enhanced and solidified the story more. He was portrayed as the stereotypical jerk who has more money than he knows what to do with who 'wants what he wants' and will do everything in his power to manipulate those around him to get it. While he held a major role in what was happening, he felt a little one dimensional to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and gave it 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was loaded with plenty of twists, turns, suspense, and drama. The main character was flawed but very likeable with his heart in the right place. The secondary characters were interesting and I look forward to getting to know them better and seeing them grow as the series--I'm assuming and hoping this is the first in a series--progresses. I have to confess, however, I would have liked to have seen this limo company be used as a sort of undercover capacity. Perhaps used to take down corrupt individuals/groups throughout the city? Possibly hired in a consultant type of manner to spy on subjects of interest? Since the employees are all former military with Michael having been part of a Special Ops unit I'm thinking he could have some mad skills in that area? I have a feeling, however, the author will make him into a hero/vigilante reminiscent of  the character Windsor Horne Lockwood III, aka "Win", from Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series. I guess we'll have to wait and see where this author will take this motley crew. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Early Review of Hate to Want You (Forbidden Hearts #1) by Alisha Rai

Title: Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Forbidden Hearts (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Reissue edition (July 25, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062566733
ISBN-13: 978-0062566737
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler were high-school sweethearts when tragedy struck. Her father and his mother both died in a car accident. Neither parent was where they were supposed to be and the rumor mill had it that the two were having an affair. While the truth may never be revealed, Nicholas' father did take advantage of Livvy's mother's grief when he offered to buy her portion of their families' joint owned company, C&O, paying only a fraction of what the shares were worth. Then came the break-up, with Livvy shortly thereafter moving away. There was a catch, however, Nicholas and Livvy agreed to hook up once a year, in secret, on Livvy's birthday until they'd worked each other out of their systems. They'd done this for the past nine years, but last year Livvy never texted a location and the hook up never happened. Now Nicholas has heard Livvy's back in town and he wants answers. The question is will he like what he hears?
First, let me just clarify this review by saying I'm not a huge fan of erotica. It's just not my type of romance. so this book will get a lower rating than if if was one of my go-to romance sub genres. I hate doing this, but it is what it is, and erotica is just not my cup of tea. That being said, the highest rating this one could get is a 4. Is the story hot and steamy? Yes. Are these two going at it like rabbits? Uh-huh. Now, the big question--Is there any depth to the actual story? Surprisingly, there is. Unfortunately, I hadn't a clue about this until the big reveal close to the end when all my questions were finally answered. For the majority of the book I felt like asking these two characters to take a seat on a chaise lounge while I put on a pair of wired rimmed spectacles, got out my pen and notebook, and psychoanalyzed these two. I kept thinking, "What the heck? This relationship is truly messed up." It was obvious the two really liked each other and I just couldn't figure out how they'd ended up in such an unhealthy and potentially damaging relationship--and it wasn't just them. Both their family dynamics were messed up at well.

I'm giving this one 3 out 5 roses. I kept finding myself putting the book down, reading something else, and then returning to it. The characters were multidimensional and had more depth then I first imagined. The ending is what made the book because prior to that I didn't think these two had any chance of coming out of things as a couple. The story turned out to be more emotionally complex and a heavy than it initially appeared. While I didn't like the initial dynamics of the relationship, the lower rating is more a reflection of me and my tastes than of the author's writing. Had the writing not been any good I would have simply never picked the book up again and been done with it. On the Lisarenee Romance rating scale, this one earned a  STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Early Review of Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews

Title: Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Hidden Legacy (Book 3)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Avon (July 25, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062697447
ISBN-13: 978-0062697448
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
A century and a half ago, the Osiris serum was discovered by scientists which unlocked a person's magical abilities. The serum was given to soldiers so that wars could be won, but scientists didn't comprehend what they'd truly done until much later and by then it was too late. The serum was locked away, but the damage had been done because it was soon found that magical talents could be passed from parent to child. The world as we knew it was changed forever as a restructuring of power occurred. Money no longer guaranteed power, influence, and prestige in this magically oriented new world, rather, one's magical abilities did. For from the power of magic, one could acquire the rest.

Talents varied among people, but each person showed potential toward one specific type of magic. Among the varying types of magics, ranges of talent were soon noted and magic users were categorized into five different ranks: Minor, Average, Notable, Significant, and Prime. The highest and strongest being Prime. Soon magical dynasties, as the most powerful of magical families came to be called, were broken into houses and attempted to manipulate and enhance their family's magical potential by arranging marriages which would bring about the most gifted and talented of offspring.

Nevada Baylor is a private eye working for the family business--Baylor Investigative Agency. The firm specializes in small-time investigations. She's just been asked by Rynda Charles to investigate the disappearance of her husband, Brian. Three days ago Rynda's husband went to work and never made it home, and isn't answering his phone. He's a Prime of  House Sherwood, but his House is convinced he's taking a break from his marriage and refuses to look for him.

Grandma Frida is against Nevada taking the case stating Rynda Charles is a "man magnet." She's young, rich, beautiful, helpless, and looking for someone to save her--all things men eat up. If that isn't bad enough she's also Rogan's ex-fiance. Nevada argues that if Rynda can steal Rogan's attentions away with a few tears then the relationship never stood a chance to begin with, and its better to find out now. Additionally, Nevada, who has a talent for knowing when someone is telling the truth, argues Rynda is not lying about her husband's disappearance. While she too questions the motives of the daughter of the woman Nevada recently killed, she finds she can't refuse her plea for help. Only time will tell if she made the right decision in taking the case.

This is the third book of the Hidden Legacy series, and I can't seem to get enough. The books build upon each other so I highly recommend you read them in order and from the beginning. They contain a whole lot of magic, a mesmerizing collection of powers and abilities all neatly wrapped in drama galore with a steamy romance unraveling smack dab in the middle of it all. If you're looking for your next urban fantasy fix, you really ought to consider checking this series out. It will totally leave you wanting more. Luckily, there are presently three books out in the series.

Nevada is a surprising individual. With all that's happened to her and her family you'd expect her to be much more hardened by life, but somehow she's managed to keep her humanity. She has a supportive family which I believe is the key that keeps this tougher-than-nails detective grounded and kindhearted. She's smart, loyal, and oh so talented both magically and otherwise.

At first glance, Rogan seems the very opposite of Nevada. With monikers like Mad Rogan, the Butcher of Merida, and Huracan he is most known for using his magical skills to single handedly kill thousands in the war against Mexico which helped bring about a favorable end to the fighting. No one knows the extent of his powers, but the overall consensus is the man is scary as hell and not someone you want to mess with. At second glance, you start to see there is much more to him than meets the eye, and its society (the very people whom he helped save) whose made him into the villain. He is the way he is because he needs to be, but Nevada helps him to remember who he really is because she sees him for who he truly is--not a monster but a man--someone who is not all that different from herself. He's a misunderstood hero with some dangerously scary mad skills. In case you haven't caught on ladies, this guy is seriously swoon worthy. *sigh* You've been warned. lol

I truly can't say enough about this series and all of it is good. I couldn't help but give this one 5 out 5 roses. It's got action, romance, suspense, drama, magic, and a whole lot of other goodies just waiting for you to uncover. I'd say more but I wouldn't want to enter into spoiler territory. One thing I can say is Nevada's paternal grandmother makes a huge splash in this one, and Nevada and her family need to decide how to handle the situation. They either need to petition to become a House or find another way to keep their grandmother at bay. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I highly recommend this book and series. Its definitely going on my keeper shelf.

Order of the Hidden Legacy series:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Early Review of The Library of Light and Shadow (Daughters of La Lune #3) by M.J. Rose

Title: The Library of Light and Shadow
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: Daughters of La Lune
Format: Hardcover; 368 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (July 18, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1476778124
ISBN-13: 978-1476778129
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.

The La Lune sisters are descended from witches. Each is said to have only once change at love. Each possesses a magical power that can be considered either a gift or a curse. Each has their own mantra said to encapsulate their power.

Delphine possesses the ability to see into the shadow's of one's soul and glimpse the dirty little secrets that reside therein. Some are innocent, though most are not. She studies her subjects for mere minutes then, blindfolded, paints them on canvas. Some of her "shadow portraits" are met with delight while others she's asked to destroy. One will reveal something that will ruin lives, ultimately leading to her leaving New York and returning to her home in France. It's there she'll be commissioned to paint not a portrait of a person, but of a house in the hopes of finding the Library of Light and Shadow said to hold an ancient text containing the secret to eternal life...
This was a beautifully written book containing magic, mystery, and a dash of romance. It's the third installment of the Daughters of La Lune series, and while I wish I'd read the two previous books prior to this one, I didn't feel lost. The book starts off with Delphine living in New York, and we slowly get a feel for the type of person she is and a front row view of what her life is like. She's a sweet, emotionally charged, and haunted individual. She's at a crossroads in her life where she's trying to escape fate by bending it to her will and it's not working out all that well.

In the book, Delphine needs to comes to terms with her power and life. She can see an individual's deepest, darkest, most hidden secrets--mainly events of the past but occasionally of the future--with her gift. Her mother has warned her never to do a portrait of herself or attempt to look into her own future (for a canvas isn't always necessary for what she does) on the off chance she'll misinterpret the meaning of what she sees. She's held fast to that rule, but sometimes the secrets of those in her life and her own can be intermingled, and once something is seen it can't be unseen. This creates quite the conundrum and complicates her life beyond reason.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. This was a fun, magical, and engaging read. The beginning immediately sucked me in, but somewhere in the middle the pace slowed as did the action. Once we got to the castle, however, things quickly picked up, got interesting, and never slowed down. I enjoyed how the author infused the story with historical characters and events. The characters were three dimensional and easy to relate to. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a BLUSH--at the beginning stages of romance where something is just starting to be stirred. I look forward to reading the first two books in the series. I enjoyed this one.

Order of the Daughters of La Lune series:
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