Monday, February 4, 2019

Stray Moon (Strays #2) by Kelly Meding


Title: Stray Moon: A Strays Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Fantasy
Series: A Strays Novel (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (February 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062847708
ISBN-13: 978-0062847706
Author's Website: http://www.kellymeding.com/home.html
Notes:  I received an eARC loan of the book for review purposes.


Eighty years ago, after World War II, the world learned that werewolves were real. They returned from the War among other revered heroes. Many myths were dispelled about them during that time, while others were proven to be true. Most could handle people who turned into wolves once a month and lived with their Pack, secluded from the bulk of society. When vampires came out ten years later, however, things got ugly. Many people couldn’t seem to handle the idea of bloodsuckers living next door, buying blood from willing donors, and generally proving that yes, some things really do go bump in the night. Not even the knowledge of how much control Masters had over their lines, or the care taken in choosing and turning new vampires seemed to assuage the bulk of folks—especially the religious ones.

Six years ago the Paranormal Investigation Units were officially formed—thanks to Julius Almeida and a few well-placed friends—on the argument that unique abilities were needed to handle other unique abilities. Shiloh Harrison is a Federal Marshal in one of the two existing Paranormal Investigations Units. For six years, the units were a force unto themselves with practically no oversight from the Department of Justice. As long as they do what is expected of them and keep the peace, they are left alone.

Two days ago, Shiloh and her team prevented a madman from creating a vampire army. They subsequently uncovered the deadly plot which revealed that the two men who had been in charge of the Paranormal Investigation Units were corrupt with hidden agendas. Two other members of the teams had been found to be double agents bringing all agents into question. Shiloh and her remaining teammates have been suspended for the past two days as their stories were collaborated, and their parts in the incident investigated. Things were complicated by the fact that Shiloh's memories were tampered with due to a deal she made with one of a sidhe. In exchange for information, she traded the memories of the person she loved the most. That person ended up being one of her teammates, Jaxon. For that reason, her story varied from the rest of her team where Jaxon was involved. For the next seven days they'll be on mandatory leave, and the future of the Para Marshals remains in question.

When Shiloh and her unit managed to expose the evil machinations of their superiors, they found something significantly absent--the missing werewolves. When they are approached by one of the Para Marshal from the other unit, and are asked to help locate the missing werewolves, they decide to forge ahead. Unsure if they'll ever be given permission to pursue any leads, but knowing time is of the essence they start investigating. All the while the memory of the threat that Weller and his cohort's made, that war is coming, looms in the background...
This is the second book of the Strays series, and if Kelly continues on the course she's so far plotted for this series, I believe I may have just found one of my next favorite paranormal fantasy series. Pardon me while I do a little happy dance. *grin* I recommend you read Stray Magic before starting this novel. It lays the foundation for the series, and if you don't read it first, you'll kick yourself later.

This novel reminded me a bit of Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series. Perhaps it's the fact that werewolves are involved, or maybe it's a little of the situation that plays out. All I know is that I'm loving the story and the intricacies that are involved in solving the cases.

Just when we think we know all there was to know about Shiloh (minus a few backstories), the author pulls something out of her sleeve and boom. We find out we don't know the half of it. I rather liked that. Shiloh makes some poor choices in this one, but she's a passionate individual who seems to always put others first. Plus, she doesn't really know who to trust. If her bosses were corrupt who else could be? After all, the Paranormal Investigation Units were the brain child of Julius, Shiloh's former boss, and some of his friends, and that makes everything so very interesting. I'm very intrigued as to where this series will go.    

At the beginning of Stray Moon, 14 mated pairs of werewolves are missing from their packs. The only other common links among them is that none of them have any children and they all seemingly vanished without a word to anyone. When Shiloh and her team start to investigate, they meet with some resistance from the pack's Alpha, but as they explain why they are there they're given leave to investigate.

Chandra Goodfellow is a Moon witch and a Para Marshal from the other Paranormal Investigations Unit that exists. She's got a personal stake in two of the werewolves that went missing. She helped the pair give birth to three healthy children. They are the only pair among the missing that have ever had children, but their children died under suspicious circumstances. Since Packs don't allow modern medicine, the true reason that they died may be forever lost. As Shiloh and crew investigate, they uncover a disturbing fact--the number of children being born to werewolves over the years has diminished significantly. Whether this is a natural occurrence, or whether something far more nefarious is going on remains a mystery. It's all part of the puzzle Shiloh and her team will need to figure out.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I'm loving the dynamics between the characters, the creativeness of how the team maneuvers situations, and even the cliffhangers at the end. The series has so many hints of things to come scattered throughout that it sparks one's neurons and makes you wonder where things will go next. I love when a series does that. I'm again foregoing a romance rating as this one is sorely lacking in that department. There is a hint of a whisper that one is on the horizon, but it's just not in the cards, or dare I say pages, yet. *grin*    

Order of Strays series:

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Stray Magic (Strays, #1) by Kelly Meding

Title: Stray Magic
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Fantasy
Series: A Strays Novel (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (July 24, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062847686
ISBN-13: 978-0062847683
Author's Website: http://www.kellymeding.com/home.html
Notes: I bought this one.



Eighty years ago, after World War II, the world learned that werewolves were real. They returned from the War among other revered heroes. Many myths were dispelled about them during that time, while others were proven to be true. In the golden post-War years, few seemed to mind them, at least not publicly. Most could handle people who turned into wolves once a month and lived with their Pack, secluded from the bulk of society. When vampires came out ten years later, however, things got ugly. Many people couldn’t seem to handle the idea of bloodsuckers living next door, buying blood from willing donors, and generally proving that, yes, some things really do go bump in the night. Not even the knowledge of how much control Masters had over their lines, or the care taken in choosing and turning new vampires seemed to assuage the bulk of folks—especially the religious ones.

Six years ago the Paranormal Investigation Units were officially formed—thanks to Julius  Almeida and a few well-placed friends—on the argument that unique abilities were needed to handle other unique abilities. Shiloh Harrison is a Federal Marshal in one of the two existing Paranormal Investigations Units. The units are a force unto themselves with practically no oversight from the Department of Justice. As long as they do what is expected of them and keep the peace, they are left alone.

When Shiloh receives a call from headquarters about a case, she figures it will be business as usual. She quickly realizes, however, that is far from the truth. Things go from bad to worse at an alarming rate. Vampires have taken over a trailer park and are holding the people who live there hostage. They're demanding someone look into why an alarming number vampires and werewolves have gone missing in the past six months. When Shiloh's boss Julius, the only human on their team, turns up missing she finds herself leading the team. As second in command, she's the logical choice to takeover the investigation. While she's run smaller ops before, she finds the scale of this situation to be a bit daunting. She'll need her whole team to help her get down to the bottom of what's going on.
This is the first book of the Strays series. I'm torn between calling this one Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Fantasy. The series has all the grittiness of an Urban Fantasy, but it takes place all around the US as opposed to around one or multiple big cities. For that reason, I don't think it can technically be considered Urban Fantasy by the traditional definition, but I can't seem to make myself go all in in calling it Paranormal Fantasy.

Shiloh is a kick-@ss heroine who reminds me a little of Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs' series of the same name. Like Mercy, Shiloh is a bit of an underdog in the supernatural realm, but somehow manages to surround herself with an excellent group of friends and acquaintances. She tends to inspire loyalty in others through her own actions. She's half human, half Earth djinn and, yes, she can grant wishes. For that reason she keeps her djinn half a secret. In the wrong hands her powers could be used for bad, however, in the right, those powers could prove to be the ultimate weapon. There are some limits as to what she can grant, but the range of what she can do is still impressive.

Shiloh's coworkers consists of a group of misfit supernaturals, hence the name Strays for the series, with unique abilities. Kathleen is a dhampire (half human, half vampire conceived during father's transition) who is stronger than she looks. Jaxon is a skin-walker who can change into his spirit animal's form. Novak is a fallen incubus who has retained many of his previous powers. Alone their skills may not be all that impressive, but together they're a formidable group.

There are some backstories that are hinted at, but not revealed that I'd love to know more about. I also feel like Shiloh is beginning to come into her own right before our eyes. She makes some mistakes along the way, seems a bit naive at times, but learns and adapts as she goes. Plus, she's got a good heart.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The series has some serious potential. Ultimately,  I enjoyed the story. There was a 'situation' that I could have done without, or at the very least would have preferred it to have been toned down, but that's just me.  I'm foregoing my romance rating for this one because there truly wasn't any real romance to speak of. A couple of sparks, yes, but true romance, no. That being said, in my humble opinion, this one should be bumped up to the erotic category. The  aforementioned 'situation' I talked of was of an erotic nature. I have no doubt that eventually a romance will develop, but for now I patiently await that time. This one kept a nice pace and kept me in its thrall. I definitely recommend it.
Funny after note:  Have you ever wished you could read the first book of one of your favorite series over again for the first time? Well, ironically, my wish may have been granted. Let me explain. I remember getting notifications that this book was coming out but wasn't in a position to read it or any other book at the time. I was fairly sick throughout 2018 having spent most of the year in doctor's offices, hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and recovering from all that transpired. Sometime in June and July I read a handful of books, but am still unsure of all the ones I read. Last month I went to buy this one and found I'd already purchased it. I literally had no recollection of doing so. If that wasn't strange enough, when I went to read it, I found I'd already highlighted passages which meant I must have read it, right? As I began reading, I'd remember situations which happened as I read. This was truly a strange experience for me. I had a sense of déjà vu the entire time I read, yet could never remember what happened next until I got to that part.

After reading the book, I couldn't seem to stop myself from continuing on to the next book, as I managed to snare an eARC loan from the publisher. This series is quickly becoming one of my favorites so, if you're thinking 'Yeah, that must of been some book if you can't remember', bite your tongue. I could so sympathize with Shiloh when in the next book she loses some of her memories, but still feels the residual familiarity that comes from knowing you should recall some memory that you can't quite seem to latch on to. Dare I say this book cast a spell on me? More than likely it was the result of the multiple doses of anesthesia given to me throughout last year. I was put under a whopping six times with my longest stay in the hospital lasting around 7 or 8 days. Yeah, I can't quite remember the exact number of days my stay was. Go figure.

Order of Strays series:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Giveaway, sneak peek, and Review of Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7) by Jill Shalvis

 Playing for Keeps
A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
by Jill Shalvis

If you’re planning on falling in love… 

When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.

you’d better be sure… 

Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.

… someone is there to catch you. 

Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk. 



“Sadie.”

She shook her head.

“Look at me. Please?”

It was the damn please that had her opening her eyes. He’d closed the gap so that if she so much as took a breath, they’d be touching.

So she did just that. She took a deep breath, and then their bodies were up against each other, his warm and hard. Everywhere. “What’s happening?” she whispered.

“I believe you’re deciding between kicking me in the nuts and kissing me.” One side of his mouth curved very slightly as he lifted their still joined hands above her head, against the wall.

“But that last part might just be in my dreams.”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“Yes, it’s just in my dreams?”

She meant to say yes again, she really did.

She even opened her mouth to say it, because this was insane, this incredible . . . craving she had for him. It made no sense. Less than no sense, and yet . . .

She went up on tiptoe and touched her mouth to his.


Jill Shalvis
Connect with her on:
Facebook: @JillShalvis
Twitter: @JillShalvis

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.


Title: Playing for Keeps
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay (Book 7)
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (January 22, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062741888
ISBN-13: 978-0062741882
Author's Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes.



For the past year Caleb Parker and Sadie Lane have performed a slow and careful dance around each other. Caleb has been trying to get Sadie's attention, but the complicated, fiercely independent, and private beautiful young woman seems impervious to his charm. She's a puzzle he can't seem to figure out and that intrigues him to no end.

The sparks between the two are strong and obvious to everyone but them. Will a three legged dog who decides to adopt the pair finally be the catalyst that ignites those sparks into flames? If Caleb gets his wish it will because he's already all in, and he's playing for keeps.
This is the seventh book in the Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis, and it can be read as a standalone and/or out of order. The series takes place in San Francisco and centers around a group of young people who slowly become a very tight-knit group. As the series progresses, the relationships slowly weave those individuals into the fabric of each other's lives, turning strangers into family. At the center of it all is a fountain rumored to grant wishes for love when wished with a true heart. If you haven't read one of these delightful novels yet, you're in for a real treat. If you've never read one of Ms. Shalvis' books, be prepared to meet one of your new favorite romance authors. Be forewarned, however, Jill's novels are somewhat addictive. It's hard to stop at just one. They tend to be sweet and oh, so steamy all while bringing a smile to your face and warmth to your heart. This one is no exception.

Caleb ("Suits" as Sadie refers to him) is a genius who is a tech savvy inventor and entrepreneur who has made a small fortune selling his wares. He is close with his family and employs three of his sisters. He's charming, fun, and flirty--all traits Sadie's finds highly suspicious, and are characteristics of people she's learned to be cautious around. What she doesn't realize is Caleb is a genuinely nice guy. Of course she's heard that about people before, and it hadn't proven true, so seeing is going to be the only way she'll believe it. Caleb is used to having women chase after him, and the challenge that Sadie presents does not detour him. He's used to seeing what other's don't, and what he sees in Sadie is definitely worth waiting for.

Sadie Lane works as both a tattoo and a permanent makeup artist. She has trust issues, for good reasons, and is currently on a 3 year hiatus from men. She's built up walls around her heart because, in the past, when she's let down her guard people have tended to disappoint her in big ways. The pain that brought has left her a little emotionally scarred. She's wary about forming relationships of any kind, and tends to shield herself in sarcasm. That has served her well. Somehow, though, Caleb has managed to see through the rough and  prickly facade Sadie's erected, and what he see's he likes. He's willing to be patient and do whatever he needs to to gain her trust and eventually her heart.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I just love how a small sweet dog named lollipop, who was desperately in need of some love, brought these two together. Lollipop made Sadie see Caleb in a new light which gave her the courage to take another chance on love. I just adored seeing these two come together in a way that just seemed to make sense. The chemistry between them practically scorched the pages. 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 loved it! This one is definitely a keeper.

Order of the Heartbreaker Bay series:

(One Snowy Night and Holiday Wishes are Novellas)



Win a copy of: 
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester

Title:  The Paris Seamstress
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Forever (September 18, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538714779
ISBN-13: 978-1538714775
Author's Website:  https://www.natashalester.com.au/
Notes:  I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.




The year is 1940, and Paris is poised for invasion. Estella Bissette is a seamstress with aspirations of one day becoming a name brand designer. When she comes across her employer on the verge of death, he asks for her help and that one simple request will change the course of her life...

“Take these,” he whispered, passing Estella a small bundle, “to the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Please. For Paris. Find l’engoulevent—the nightjar. You can trust him.”

When she tells her mother what happened she sends Estella packing and puts her on the last boat out of Paris to America. It appears Estella got herself caught in the middle of something dangerous, and secrets appear to be rampant in Paris. Estella's mother never told her that she, Estella, was born in America, but she has the papers to prove it. And Monsieur Aumont? He was part of a spy network that Estella has unknowingly gotten mixed up in.

Alone and in America, Estella's future is uncertain. Will she ever see her mother again? Will she ever find out where her roots lie? Will she ever feel safe again? Only time will tell...
This book is a standalone novel. It toggles between the past and the present, between a grandmother's point of view (Estella's) and granddaughter's (Fabienne's). The primary goal of each, in the end, is to discover who they are and where their roots lie. This journey brings up the question should a person's lineage ever be withheld from them?  Are there certain circumstances in which it may be for the best? Here's some food for thought, the mother of a friend of mine never knew who her father was. Her mother, my friend's grandmother, refused to tell her. At one point she was told he was a famous baseball player, and that she was the result of a one night stand or short lived relationship (I can't quite remember which) with him. Back then there were no DNA tests so it would have been hard to prove, so it was a plausible story. After my friend's mom got the baseball player to agree to be tested she found out he wasn't her father. This led to more questions. I kept racking my brain as to why someone would withhold the information. My thoughts went a little something like this.."What if he's someone no one would want for a father or in their family tree? What if he was married? What if her mother wasn't the result of a willing liaison? What if the truth would be worse than not knowing?" It truly does make one wonder, and that is what added a touch of mystery to the whole experience,

My first thought after finishing this novel was, "Wow." My mind was reeling from all there was to take in, and I found the story very thought provoking. This would make for a good book club read. It is not a book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy after reading. It's a story filled with situations and people that will make you feel uneasy, shake your head, and perhaps question how things could have been handled differently. On the flip side, there are also characters that show you strength, perseverance, and give you hope. It shows we have the power, to some extent, over our own destiny. It shows how a seemingly innocent act can have dire consequences. It shows while the sins of our fathers can at times stain or taint us, they do not define us, and are not our own. We have the power to rise above them or let them bring us down. It shows us how until we've walked in another's shoes, we really can't judge them. We don't know what they've been through or why they act as they do. This novel also emphasizes how bad things happen to good people and how bad people sometimes don't get what they deserve. Unfortunately, life just isn't always fair. You have the power to determine how you respond to others, and how you will let their actions influence and shape you. It also illustrates how sometimes you have to be your own hero.

Some of my favorite quotes:
- "He always said it wasn't love if you wouldn't give up everything for the other. Otherwise it was just a flame, not worth the candle it was lit upon."

- "Loving can hurt spectacularly, but it can also heal."

- "Love is like toile," Estella said, "The pattern on which one's whole life is shaped. But nobody see the toile, or knows it ever existed. Nobody understands that, without it, nothing can be fashioned."

- "Young people are so arrogant about time. You seem to think there's an infinite amount, an excess, that age will never come for you. It will." 

- "The prospect of death changed everything, made all the ordinary rules of restraint and politeness fall away, made beautiful moments into precious keepsakes, made the future, once taken for granted, seem extraordinary."

- "Why don't you start dating again?" Estella asked suddenly.(...)
  "I'm married, remember," Janie said.
  "I mean dating your husband," Estella said, sitting back on her heels, removing the pins from her mouth and sticking them into the cushion on her wrist. "Fall in love with him. Make him fall in love with you. Go out. Seduce one another. Learn everything there is to know."

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was an intricate story with parallels and juxtapositions woven throughout that stirred many emotions. I liked how the backdrop of WWII which emphasized part of what was happening in the story. I enjoyed the clever use of sisters to show how the actions of one can shape and alter the lives of others--sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I also liked seeing how you can forge your own path, and come out of a bad situation being true to yourself while turning things around. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.  I definitely recommend this one just be warned there are some situations which are discussed that are violent to women.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Black Khan (The Khorasan Archives #2) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Title: The Black Khan: Book Two of the Khorasan Archives
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Khorasan Archives (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 496 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (October 16, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9780062459206
ISBN-13: 978-0062459206
ASIN: 0062459201
Author's Website: http://www.ausmazehanatkhan.com/
Notes: I received a copy of the ARC from the publisher.

The land of Khorasan is slowly being overtaken piece by piece by a powerful and volatile group known as the Talisman. They are led by a man known as the One-Eyed Preacher. Arian has been tasked with finding the Bloodprint so she and the other Companions of Hira can protect themselves and the people of Khorasan from the deadly intentions of the Talisman.

Rumor has it that verses from the Bloodprint, the oldest written compilation of the Claim, are being sold letter by letter. The Claim is a magical text written in an ancient language whose verses, when spoken, have the power to make things happen. It's from the Claim that the Companions of Hira gain their power. The search to find the Bloodprint, however, has cost Arian and her friends greatly. Arian now finds herself at the mercy of the Authoritan, the ruler of North Khorasan, and each of her friends have found themselves captives of the Ahdath, the suicide warriors of the Wall, at one time or another. Betrayal, lies, and deceit all play a role in this intricate game for power and survival. To survive, Arian and her friends will need to save themselves, and then maneuver a precarious power struggle where the lines between friend and foe are often times blurred.
This book picks up where the last novel, 'The Bloodprint', left off. If you haven't read 'The Bloodprint.' then I HIGHLY recommend that you do. You'll be lost if you go into this one without the knowledge you'll pick up in the previous novel. There is quite a lot going on in this series.

'The Black Khan' is a very dark story with most of the violence in it geared towards women. This novel centers on the Black Khan, the current ruler of West Khorasan. My opinion of him was not all that high going into 'The Black Khan'. I personally felt there were no redeemable qualities to this ruler especially after what he did to Arian in the last book. Suffice to say, I intensely disliked the man and would never trust him. My opinion, after reading this book has not changed. Besides being a ruler he is also the Dark Mage, but it appears he hasn't fully come into his powers or at least doesn't know how to use them. He is desperate to save his kingdom and prove himself which seems to impair his judgment. The bits revealed about his backstory were interesting, but I can't help but wonder if the book had been told from his point of view, and we'd been able to get inside his head if that opinion would have changed? Additionally, I wonder how exactly the Mages gain their powers. It appears there may be a familial link involved, but I'm not altogether sure about that. I wish the author would have explored this a little more in the novel.

Arian is still my favorite character. I have to admit I kept wondering why Arian gave her trust so easily. I kept wanting to ask her why she would trust someone who has betrayed her, and it happened time and time again. It was painful to watch her being taken down so low in this novel, but it made the moment when she reclaimed her power all the more sweet. I would love to know more about how the Claim works. There just isn't a lot revealed about this ancient language. I'd love to know where it came from and why it died out.

Overall. I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I love the overall story, but there was just so much violence and the treatment of women was deplorable. It was hard to get through the first couple hundred pages or so of the book because of it. I could see why Arian would be so passionate in her crusade to stop the Talisman, but I believe the Talisman are not the only ones who need to be stopped. I'm beginning to believe something a little more drastic is in order such as a restructuring of the government or an overthrow of the present monarchies. I look forward to seeing how all this plays out because Arian and crew have their work cut out for them.

Order of The Khorasan Archives:
   


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cowboy Honor (Longhorn Canyon #2) by Carolyn Brown

Title: Cowboy Honor (Longhorn Canyon)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Cowboy
Series: Longhorn Canyon (Book 2)
Format: Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Forever (September 25, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1538744880
ISBN-13: 978-1538744888
Author's Website: https://www.carolynbrownbooks.com/
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Claire Mason and her niece, Zaylie, got caught in a unexpected blizzard in Texas. Their car is totaled and not being able to use her cell phone, they decide to take shelter in a cabin they find not far from where their car crashed. The cabin is unlocked, has some food supplies, blankets, and beds. When the owner's foreman shows up the next day, she's not sure if he's friend or foe, so she greets the tall, handsome cowboy in a most unwelcoming way...

Levi Jackson is the foreman of the Longhorn Canyon Ranch and handles himself well in a crisis. That talent comes in mighty handy when he decides to take refuge in one of the ranch's cabins after his truck runs out of gas in the middle of a snowstorm. As he walks in the door, he's finds himself looking down the barrel of a loaded gun pointed straight at him. After calming the young woman at the end of it down, he finds himself intrigued by the feisty beautiful young woman. Levi's never been one to do relationships, but there's something about this woman that calls to him.

They say things happen for a reason. Could this be the start of something that was meant to be? Only time will tell.
If I had to sum this book up in one word it would have to be sweet. It was a sugary sweet romance  with an extra cherry on top. The extra cherry being the bonus story by Katie Lane (which I'll review at a later time). 'Cowboy Honor' is the second book of the Longhorn Canyon series, and you can definitely read it as a standalone. Not a lot is revealed about 'Cowboy Bold,' the first book in the series, other than the obvious--that Retta and Cade fall in love. I have to admit, however, after reading 'Cowboy Honor', I may need to get my hands on the first.

Claire is an independent woman who tends to put other's needs in front of her own. She cares for her young niece, Zaylie, when her brother is deployed or on a mission. Her sister-in-law died when Zaylie was only one,  making things difficult for her brother. Luckily, Claire is self employed which makes it easy for her to help out. Claire has an Etsy business where she sells quilts, and now makes more money than she did on her teacher's salary.

Levi was adopted at an early age by his parents. He pretty much grew up on the ranch with Cade and Justin Maguire. They inherited the Longhorn Canyon Ranch from their parents. The three of them are as close as brothers. Levi's father used to be the ranch's foreman and now Levi's inherited the position. Levi loves animals and, in another life, he might have been a vet, but for now he tends to the ranch and its animals taking in the occasional stray and/or hurt animal now and then. He's never been in a long term relationship, but something about Claire makes him think maybe it's time he settled down.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. This was a very sweet romance. Levi and Claire made a cute couple, and I loved how insecure Levi felt at times when he was in her presence. The opening scene was truly fun and was a great start for the book. Zaylie, Claire's niece, tended to steal the show a little from these two, but she was adorable and I enjoyed it nonetheless. I would have liked a hurdle or two to have popped up in their way because I tend to like a little more drama and tension between the two main characters in a romance, but it was still a lovely story. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. 

Order of the Longhorn Canyon series:

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Giveaway. Excerpt, and Review of Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay, #6) by Jill Shalvis

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis


Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

 Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.


It took Lucas Knight longer than it should have to realize he had a woman in his bed, but to be fair, he had a bitch of a hangover. Even worse than that, last night was a blur, prompting him to take quick stock. One, there was a bundle of sweet, soft curves against him. Two, his head was currently threatening to secede from the United States Of Lucas. And three, his side hurt like … well, like he’d been shot.

It’d been two weeks since he’d gotten caught in some crossfire on the job and he hadn’t yet been cleared for more than light duty – something he’d obviously managed to ignore last night given that he was palming a nice, warm, feminine ass.

Think, man.

Straining his brain, he remembered taking a pain med before going to O’Riley’s Pub to meet up with some friends. A client had been there, someone he’d recently helped save from a multi-million dollar corporate espionage. The guy had ordered shots to toast to Lucas and … shit. Knowing better than to mix pain meds and alcohol, he’d hesitated, but everyone had been waiting on him, glasses hoisted in the air. Thinking just one shot couldn’t hurt anything, he’d knocked back the drink.

Clearly, he’d been wrong and it’d been enough to mess him up big time, something he hadn’t been in years, not since his brother Josh had been killed. Shoving that away for another time – or never -- Lucas cracked open one eye, but when his retina was stabbed by a streak of sunlight glaring in through the window, he immediately slammed it shut it again. Taking a deep breath, he told himself to suck it up and opened both eyes this time, learning two additional facts.

He was naked and completely uncovered.

And the woman snugged up at his side was rolled up in his comforter like a burrito.

What. The. Hell.



Jill Shalvis

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

You can connect with Jill at the following:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillShalvis/
Twitter: @JillShalvis



Title: Hot Winter Nights: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 25, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062741837
ISBN-13: 978-0062741837
Author's Website: http://jillshalvis.com/
Notes: I received and eARC loan in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes used will need to be checked against the final version as ARCs are subject to change.


Two weeks ago Lucas Knight was shot on the job. He's doing better, but is still on painkillers. When he goes to the local bar and has a drink with a client he soon realizes mixing his meds with alcohol is a tremendous mistake. He doesn't remember a thing beyond having the drink, and wakes up to find himself in bed with the one person who has always been off limits to him--his best friend's little sister, Molly.

He is so dead.

Molly Malone and Lucas have always gotten along, and while there's always been chemistry between them neither has ever acted upon it. Molly's not looking for a relationship, but there's something about Lucas that makes her mind occasionally wander in that direction, if only for a night. When she accompanies him home after a late night at the bar, she can't help but tease him the next morning even though nothing really happened...

"I'm not going to rate your performance last night."

"That's not--" He paused, his eyes sharpened.  "Wait, what does that mean?"

"Nothing."

"So you're saying I did suck." 

She had to laugh. "Well, if you can't remember it, how good could it really have been, right?"

She is going to milk this one for all it's worth.
If you've never read a Jill Shalvis novel you are in for a real treat. Her stories are filled with plenty of  humor, lightheartedness. chemistry, sexy scenes, and characters you'll wish were real so you could befriend them. Her books always make me smile, and if you need a little pick-me-up, her stories tend to deliver. This is the sixth book of the Heartbreaker Bay series, but it can be read as a standalone. Be forewarned, however, her novels are a bit addictive, and it's hard to stop at just one.

I don't know where Ms. Shalvis gets her ideas, but this one was devilishly delicious. I devoured it in one sitting and it left me eagerly awaiting the next book. I couldn't help but like Molly, and sympathize with her desire to get out from beneath her brother's protective thumb and prove herself. She's smart, resourceful, and able to take care of herself despite her brother's beliefs to the contrary. I loved watching as Lucas really begins to see her for who she is--an excellent investigator. He stands fully behind her never doubting she is up for the challenge their undercover operations require. He doesn't try to takeover when she takes on a case against her brother's wishes. He just lets her know he's got her back if she needs it--and backup is something every good undercover investigator (whether male or female) needs. 

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a fun, humorous, sexy, and highly enjoyable read. I adored Lucas, and the way he treated and handled Molly. The chemistry between these two was scorchingly hot. I loved how these two managed to knock down the barriers each had erected around their hearts, put their very different fears aside, and take a chance on love. As more and more stories are added to this series, you get the sense of a real community coming together. While the books don't build upon one another, if you read all them you'll see the bonds and connections between the characters begin to build and grow.  I rather enjoy that. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a 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 definitely recommend this one. 

Order of the Heartbreaker Bay series:



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Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis.

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Buy Hot Winter Nights at the following book retailers:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2OEgags
IndieBound: https://bit.ly/2NVDppc
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2NCSGs5
Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2NothpS
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