ORDER A COPY:
Publisher: Forever Yours
Publishing Date: April 1, 2014
Paperback: 240 pages
Rating: 4 stars
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, civilization no longer exists, and only the strongest survive. The few remaining humans must band together with supernatural beings to battle unspeakable evil—or all hope will be lost.
Kimber Treat is an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift: she can raise the dead. As a necromancer who works with the police, she communicates with murder victims to bring their killers to justice. But after a normal session goes horribly wrong, Kimber realizes she’s summoned something dark and sinister. She’s unwittingly unleashed the apocalypse, and everyone blames her . . . except Duncan MacDonnough, the devastatingly handsome vampire she can’t stop fantasizing about.
As society shuts down and flesh-eating hordes close in, Duncan vows to protect Kimber. He can keep her safe from others—but not from the insatiable carnal hunger he feels for her. Now racing to reverse the chaos she’s unleashed, Kimber can’t afford any distractions. But even as she succumbs to Duncan’s seduction, she fears that he has a hidden agenda. And with the line between life and death starting to blur, his secrets might kill her-or worse.
In Cynthia Garner’s new Awakening series, the police use necromancers in their murder investigations to question the deceased. Kimberly Treat has been brought in to see who murdered Richard Whitcomb. This time when she taps into the magic of the Unseen, something dark takes a ride with Whitcomb’s soul. Before she returns his energy to the Unseen, Whitcomb bites the M.E. and begins an outbreak of a zombie virus which takes over the world.
Our story fast forwards to six months later where Kimber, her friend Natalie, are hold up in an apartment building with Duncan and his fey friend Aodhán. Supplies are running low and Duncan’s vampire Queen will offer safety to Kimber and her friends in exchange for Kimber raising her murdered vampire lover from the dead. Kimber has no desire to live in a nest of vampires, even if it is more secure and lush than her current space. Especially not after Maddalene sent her vampires to kill Kimber’s parents.
Even if Kimber wanted to help the Queen, the Unseen hasn’t acted right since that fateful day six months ago. Kimber has tried again and again to pull the zombie virus from the infected and each time she feels the pull of something dark and evil when she touches the Unseen.
When Madeline threatens the life of her friends unless Kimber comes to her compound, Kimber might just be stuck between a zombie hoard and a hungry vampire army.
This was a quick story that draws you in and before you are ready, it’s over. Worse, when you think about it you still have questions. The good thing is that there is a Book 2, Vampire Thirst, coming out next month.
I also realized once we got to the end that there was probably as much sex as there were zombies in the story. When Kimber and the gang stayed in their apartment and kept quiet with the windows covered, they didn’t seem to be bothered by the zombies. We never saw them scouting for supplies, only traveling between the vampire compound and their apartment. There were a few zombie fights, but I never felt tension of any real danger.
There was also the added interest in blending vampires, fey, magic and zombies (but so far no sign of werewolves). Kimber and Duncan were interesting characters and we get a hint of sexual interest and snarkiness between Natalie and Aodhán.
It was a light read and I am interested enough to see where Book 2 takes us.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
And that was the other thing that had changed. The two-bedroom apartment where she used to live with Natalie now housed four people from time to time—two humans, one fey warrior and a vampire who was thankfully absent for the moment. With only half a cup of coffee she wasn’t sure she’d be able to put up with bossy-pants Duncan MacDonnough.
Even if his bossiness made her want to roll over and do whatever he wanted.
She’d thought about suggesting they all get a place of their own. It wasn’t as if there weren’t plenty of empty apartments available. And she’d sure as hell thought plenty about telling Duncan to stay at his own place at Maddalene’s complex. But while having people living with her was aggravating at times, she could still recognize there was safety in numbers. If for no other reason, she and Natalie could sleep while Aodhán or Duncan kept watch, and vice versa.
From where he sat on the sofa, Aodhán said, “I know I don’t need to remind you to keep your voices down.” The lovely Irish lilt did nothing to mask the slight ring of condescension in his deep voice.
“No, you don’t,” Kimber muttered. She finished her coffee and placed the mug on the table. “Although it does sound quite lovely when you don’t remind us.”
He turned his head and looked at her. She only knew it because the light from the candles on the table glinted in his eyes.
“Oh, for crying out loud.” She picked up one of the candles and carried it carefully into the living room. She set it on the coffee table and sat down on the other end of the sofa. “I can’t even see you from in there.” Curling her legs beneath her, she rested her head against the back of the sofa and stared at him. He picked up a soft cloth and stroked it along the sword blade. She frowned. “You cleaned that thing yesterday, and you haven’t used it since.”
“A sharp, clean sword is a warrior’s best friend.” He lifted a brow. “It also makes it much easier to lop off heads. Or, if you’d prefer, I can let it get dirty and dull and then hack away at the hordes when we face them. Take five minutes to do a job that should only take a few seconds.”
“Are you sure that’s it?” Natalie asked as she walked over to them. “Or do you just like fondling your sword?”
Kimber pressed her lips together, her gaze going from Natalie to Aodhán. These two had struck sparks from the moment they’d met, and it had only gotten worse with their close living quarters. She wasn’t sure if she should fix some popcorn or take cover.
“Oh, I’m like any other man, lass,” he rejoined with a smirk. “I’m not averse to fondling my mighty sword. Of course, I’m also highly inclined to allow those of the feminine persuasion the opportunity to wrap their hands around it, to stroke along the hard shaft all the way to the tip.” He gave a lecherous waggle of his brows.
Natalie rolled her eyes and shook her head. Kimber snorted back a laugh.
Without taking his gaze off Natalie, he asked, “Do you have something against fondling a man’s sword, then?” He stretched his long legs out under the coffee table.
“I like fondling plenty. With the right weapon,” Natalie added without missing a beat. “But that’s something you’ll only find out in your dreams, fairy boy.”
Rather than be incensed by her derogatory name calling, Aodhán grinned, his teeth flashing white in the dim room.
ORDER A COPY: Bite Me (The Pride Series)
Publishing Date: March 25, 2014
Paperback: 382 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.
That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge.
Livy Kowalski is petite, shapely, vicious and all Honey Badger in Shelly Laurenston’s latest book in the Pride series.
Livy’s family is disappointed by her. From the cradle she has been taught by her family how to steal, how to pick locks, how to appraise valuables and instead of stealing art, Livy wants to waste her time creating it. Her art is everything to Livy but with a big show coming up, and she feels like her art has dried up and if a dry spell isn’t bad enough, somehow she has been dragged in to shoot the wedding of Bo Novikov and Blayne Thorpe. Artist to wedding photographer, could things get any worse.
Oh, but they can. Someone let her cousin Melly out of prison a few months early. It seems you can get good behavior even if you fake your own kidnapping to get more attention from your boyfriend. And now Melly has decided to move into Livy’s place for now. So going home is not an option.
And that’s why Vic has found Livy hiding up in his kitchen cabinet eating the rest of his honey. He wouldn’t mind so much if she used the key he gave her, but she keeps digging holes into the side of his house and the shifter-contractors are starting the jack the price up for fixing them.
Vic is more like his laid back bear father than his tiger mother, and like most hybrids, he has a few quirks of his own. But it’s his laid back nature that makes him able to roll with Livy’s volatile and usually violent nature. She’s not one for sharing anything–emotions, feelings, thoughts…honey, yet Vic is always there when she needs him.
Vic has been sent to find Frankie Whitlan, the man who has been organizing shifter hunts. He asks Livy to use her B&E skills to break into Allison Whitlan’s apartment to see if her father has contacted her. Livy finds something in that apartment that has her seeking out the family that she usually avoids, but Vic can’t get her to open up.
After weekend trip to the bear town of Honeyville (yeah, they know it’s quaint) to gorge on some gourmet honey and do a little jousting (yes, I said jousting), Livy finally confesses what she found in that apartment and it is enough to anger every shifter so that they agree to work with the honey badgers to bring in Whitlan to finally face shifter justice.
What I love best about Shelly Laurenston’s shifter series is how true to the animal nature she keeps the characters. The bears are either laid back or loners or aggressive, depending on the type of bear. The cats are sultry and protective. The wolves stick with packs. The honey badgers are all petite and aggressive and nothing says party like a backyard full of poisonous snakes.
I love the introduction of Vic’s new partner, Shen, who is very laid back and always snacking on bamboo.
This book could be read as a stand alone, but there are many past characters who show up in this story that you won’t understand the relationships if this is your first Pride book. We even get a surprise Smith showing up. And it is more fun when you understand that the Smith’s are the hillbilly/moonshine running wolf pack vs. the rich and powerful Van Holtz wolf pack vs. the prodigy-filled jackal family.
There is a lot of wit mixed in this paranormal series and the pack, pride or clan being featured has a lot to do with how the story goes.
Shelly Laurenston offers a lot of fun for anyone looking for a lighthearted paranormal series.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
(Livy and Vic attend a Renaissance Faire in the bear town of Honeyville, and Livy decides to work out some of her aggression by jousting.)
Livy stared up at the horse one of the faire employees held for her. She glanced over and said, “You can’t be serious.”
“These are horses bred for two things. Handling the weight of big guys in armor…and not panicking at the scent of shifters. Helping some tiny feminist trying to prove something was not on our list of things to accomplish during the breeding process,” he finished.
Livy looked under the horse and asked, “Huh. What’s this? It looks bad.”
The faire employee bent down to see what Livy was looking at and that’s when she rammed the pummel of her sword into the employee’s tibia. She heard something snap, and he went down with a roar onto one knee. Before he could fall back, Livy climbed onto his shoulders and mounted the horse that was way too big for her.
She looked down at the now-sobbing bear. “Thanks for the help.”
Vic walked into the prep area and stopped when he saw her.
“Have you ever ridden a horse before?” he asked.
“No. There were horses at the private school I went to. Riding lessons were mandatory and were part of our gym grade, but every time I got close to them, the horses tried to stomp me into the ground. Eventually, I had to be excused.”
“But now you’re going to ride one that’s too big for you so you can…joust?”
“That’s the plan.” Someone put a lance in her hand. It was heavy and too long, but livy held on to it. “How do I look?” she asked again.
“If you’re going to be negative…”
Livy moved around in the saddle.
“What?” Vic asked.
“I wish I didn’t have to wear this armor. It’s making my skin itch.”
“Take that armor off, female, and still try to joust, and I’ll beat you to death myself.”
Livy nodded. “Subtle.”
“I’m not subtle. Never said I was subtle. Worried you’re about to do something stupid? Yes. That is accurate.”
“Honey Badger’s up!” someone called out.
“I’m up.” Livy stared at the back of the horse’s head. “You can go now,” she told the beast.
Vic dropped his head into his hands.
Chuckling, she tapped the sides of the horse’s flanks with her heels and rode to the field. True, she might not have ridden the horses at her fancy private school, but that didn’t mean the gym teacher wasn’t a bitch who hated Livy so much she made the fourteen-year-old sit and watch the others for the entire period. At the time, Livy hated Mrs. Webb, but at the moment, she’d discovered a new found appreciation.
Once Livy was led into position, she looked around at the crowd. The faire was surprisingly big and had a lot of attendees. Even the cats from the town next door came to the Honeyville Annual Renaissance Faire.
And apparently the joust was the most popular attraction; the makeshift arena was already packed, with the audience continuing to grow.
A seven-foot older grizzly stood next to her, his face obscured by an enormous beard and long brown and gray hair. Another hippie, she was guessing. Like Rita.
Livy took the offered honey stick, bit off the tip, and sucked out the honey inside while the grizzly studied her a moment before asking, “I know you honey badgers are tough and all, but you do know that we’re going to crush your tiny little body into the dirt, don’t ya?”
“Yeah. I know that.”
“You don’t mind?”
“Not as much as I probably should.” She shrugged. “Trying to work out some issues.”
“Ahhh. I see.” The grizzly leaned in. “Well, me and the guys had a thought. You see, the reason we have this first night of jousting is because we always have to work through the cats from next door before we can get to a good rousing joust with the rest of us. The felines bring a lot of money to this faire, so we put up with ‘em. But it gets a bit boring.”
Livy again looked around at the audience, which was still growing…with bears.
“You want me to take out the cats…don’t you?” Livy asked.
“Cat humiliation and bear entertainment all rolled in one. Think you can do that?”
“What do I get out of it?” Because at the end of the day, Livy was still her mother’s daughter.
“Year’s supply of your favorite honey from Rita’s story?”
Livy immediately thought of the cinnamon-infused honey and she sort of shuddered. A good shudder, though. A delicious, honey-filled shudder.
The grizzly patted her leg. “Have fun, sweetie.”
Livy planned to…
ORDER A COPY: Rising Assets (Entangled Brazen)
Publishing Date: March 31, 2014
ebook: 250 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Melanie Jacoby is in trouble. With three jobs—including running her ranch—and dwindling funds, she’s exhausted. Not to mention desperately trying to hide a secret. Unfortunately, her best friend Colton Freeze knows all too well that’s something is going on, and he won’t give up until he knows exactly what he needs to fix.
Then Colton learns the truth—that Melanie’s future happiness rests in the fickle hands of fate, and her chances for having a family are shrinking with every passing day. Her only comfort is Colton, but when a heated argument between them turns into an even hotter kiss, the boundaries of their friendship are erased, leaving only a scorching-hot hunger for more.
Every kiss—every touch—is a stolen pleasure. But will their new friends-with-sexy-benefits arrangement bring them closer together, or destroy everything they once shared?
Colton Freeze has just returned to Mineral Lake after obtaining his degree. He is going to take over running the family business. When he get home, he finds that one of his best friends, Melanie Jacoby, has been working herself to death working two jobs in addition to running her ranch. Melanie has been one of his closest friends almost a part of the family, since they were kids. If she was having financial problems, she should have come to him.
Melanie isn’t looking for a hand-out from Colton or his family. What Melanie needs money for is a private matter. Melanie body is working against her and is she doesn’t hurry, she will never have a child of her own. The cost of freezing her eggs is expensive but would be worth it if she has a chance to have a baby of her own when she gets married. When that doesn’t work, Melanie goes for Option 2, a trip to the sperm bank. If she tries to conceive now, she might still be able to have her own child.
Colton is shocked to find out what is happening to Melanie and upset that she didn’t turn to him for support. Having a baby is part of Colton’s grand plan after falling in love and getting married. You know, far off in the future plans. But the idea of Melanie carrying someone stranger’s baby is enough to make Colton rethink his future to-do list.
While Colton and Melanie are unsure about the changes that their friendship face if they become lovers, it seems that the whole town has been betting for quite awhile now on how long it would take for Colton and Melanie to get together.
This was a cute romance. Colton and Melanie were likable characters. There was a strong attachment between the two and they were the only ones concerned about how attempting to have a baby would effect their relationship. But it is Colton who is giving off the appearance of wanting to help Melanie, so you can understand Melanie’s concern that at what point, if she doesn’t get pregnant, do they walk away before she feels she traps Colton and keeps him from having a future.
The only thing that bothered me and made me want to smack Colton upside the head is when he didn’t want Melanie carrying anyone else’s baby but his, but then he couldn’t image being able to be there for them long term. He can’t imagine her having someone else’s baby, but for a smart and educated man he doesn’t take that thought further that he would be okay with another man taking over his role in Melanie’s life and raising his kid? If not being the father made him crazy, he didn’t seem the type to walk away and let someone else step in to be the husband and father. That part definitely went against his character.
The town bet added fun to the story. Little old ladies offering up inappropriate dates to push Melanie and Colton together in a timely fashion to meet their bet deadlines. And there is everyone’s refusal to admit who is the bet taker in Town.
I am a big fan of Rebecca’s Dark Protectors series and her Sin Brothers series, but this story lacks the excitement of the other two series. I haven’t had a chance to read the first two of the Maverick Montana series but this one seems more in the category of a sweet romance with a background of strong rancher family. This is a series to enjoy for the strong family bonds.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Colton.” Mrs. Hudson emerged from the coffee shop, her gray wool coat swallowing her, and a bright pink knit scarf wrapped around her neck several times. “Do you have a minute?”
He hustled toward the elderly lady. “Yes, ma’am. What can I do for you?” Last night he’d already apologized for the mix-up with Melanie.
Mrs. Hudson slipped her bony arm through his. “We can chat while you escort me toward my car.” Her worn boots matched her scarf, and he made a mental note to make sure she got some new boots before snow arrived again. From the chill in the air, it wouldn’t be long.
“I’d love to escort you.” He angled his body to protect her better from the wind. The woman lived at the end of Main Street and had driven three blocks instead of walking. Rain or snow, the woman always walked, probably so she didn’t miss anything on the way. “I noticed you drove instead of walked today. Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes, I felt like a drive today. Pus, it’s going to sleet, and I didn’t want to get caught.” She twittered and patted his arm. “You’re such a fine young man. My niece, Beatrix, is visiting at the end of the week, and I was hoping you’d take her out and show her the town.”
The woman had always been a matchmaker. He smiled. “That’s kind of you, and I appreciate your thinking of me, but I have plans.”
Mrs. Hudson slowed down. “Well, she’ll only be here two weeks, and I have to admit, she’s quite easy.”
He coughed out air and glanced down at tight, gray curls. “Excuse me?”
She looked up and squinted faded blue eyes. “Beatrix. She gets around, a lot.” Mrs. Hudson shrugged. “I thought you two might have some fun for a couple of weeks before she leaves. Just two weeks.”
Colton stopped. What in the world? Realization smacked him in the face stronger than the wild wind. “Mrs. Hudson. You wouldn’t have entered a bet regarding Melanie Jacoby and me, would you have?”
Mrs. Hudson brushed invisible lint off her coat. “Of course not.”
Colton bit back a laugh. “Tell me the truth, or I’ll go propose to Mel right now.”
Mrs. Hudson gasped, her head shooting up so she could meet his gaze. “You wouldn’t.”
“Oh, I would.”
“Fine.” Mrs. Hudson sighed. “I have St. Paddy’s day as my date, and I sure could use the money, Colton Freeze. If you’d just declare your love that day, I’d really appreciate it.”
He couldn’t believe she’d tried to bribe him with a slutty niece. Mrs. Hudson was a pimp. He laughed. “I will certainly keep your date in mind. Who’s taking he bets and keeping the money, anyway?”
“Can’t tell you,” she said sadly. “When you make the bet, you have to swear not to tell, or your forfeit your money.”
When he found out the bet taker, he was going to kick some ass.
This giveway winner was: Angela C.
After life as a cop in Denver leaves him burned-out, Lucas Ridgeway returns to Walkers Ford, South Dakota, to serve as their chief of police. He’s hoping to start over with a clean slate and avoid any emotional entanglements—even after his next-door neighbor kisses him senseless. Alana is passionate, dedicated, and most importantly leaving town soon. So why not have some fun?
Alana Wentworth comes from a larger-than-life political family, yet all she wanted was to be a librarian. Then after an embarrassing marriage proposal from Mr. Not-For-Her, she jumps at the chance to live her dream for a few months. She wasn’t supposed to get involved with the community—or sexy, troubled Lucas. But when the time comes for Alana to put Walkers Ford behind her, she’s not ready. And Lucas may not be ready for her to go .
ORDER A COPY: Board Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries)
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publishing Date: March 4, 2013
Paperback: 368 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Sorenson, Wisconsin’s deputy coroner Mattie Winston is back on the job. . .in a nursing home examining the body of Bernie Chase–the now former president of the Twilight Home’s board of directors–who is covered in a powder used to turn liquids to solids. The home’s residents are certain Bernie was offing the patients who cost him too much. . .and the patient that found him can’t remember a thing.
Mattie Winston has returned to her job as the Deputy coroner. Mattie had quit to fan the flames of a relationship with her investigative partner, Det. Steve Hurley a few months ago, but after they finally got to create a bonfire, the flames were doused when Hurley’s ex-wife—wife—soon-to-be ex-wife…whatever, showed up with a fifteen-year-old kid which she claimed was Hurley’s. Thankfully, Mattie’s replacement at the coroner’s office turned out to be allergic to formaldehyde allowing Mattie to return to work while Hurley figures out how to handle his new fatherhood.
But returning to the job means, Mattie is available to be dragged by Irene Keller over to the Twilight Retirement Home to check out the suddenly dead body of the owner, Bernard Chase. Nothing about the body screams accidental death and Mattie has a whole building full of suspects. Rumor has it that Bernie was killing off the bedridden clients once their care started becoming too costly so none of the residents are too sad to see Bernie kick off.
As if the list of those wanting to see Bernie go bye-bye isn’t long enough, there is a soon to be ex-wife and a secret mistress, as well as an unknown silent partner to find and add to the list of suspects.
Meanwhile, Mattie is getting dragged into her sister’s marital problems when her inappropriate and annoying brother-in-law is tossed out of the house after he made bad investments and lost all the family’s money without mentioning it to Mattie’s sister. So he pleads with Mattie to help get his family back, all without making one boob reference. He must be desperate.
Hurley and Mattie might have cooled things off for now “officially” due to Mattie returning as Hurley’s partner, but it seems no one informed their hormones and they find themselves squeezing in quickies whenever an opportunity or two or three presents itself.
Mattie needs to catch the killer while not getting caught with her pants down by her boss and friend, Izzy, or she’ll risk losing her job permanently this time.
THOUGHTS (w/ spoilers of previous books):
I like the humor mixed with the mystery which is presented in these Mattie Winston stories. You can’t help by like Mattie who is your average, everyday woman. She needs to get to the gym and lose weight but her addiction to all things calorically challenged gets in her way. Although she is not perfect, Hurley still very much in love/lust with Mattie.
The first few books teased about the sexual tension between Mattie and Hurley and an almost adolescent Mattie is constantly give us the “does he or doesn’t he like me.” At the end of book 4, Mattie gives up her job and finally jumps in bed with the very happy Hurley. Except, once the deed was done, there is a knock on the door and Steve’s wife (who he thought was his ex-wife but she never filed the papers) shows up with a daughter who she claimed was Steve’s and told him they had no place to live and could they stay with him for now. At that point I despaired that the next book would be all back and forth with Hurley and what to do about the wife, and Mattie and what to do about her job, anything to keep the two apart, and ending with Hurley ready to commit just as Mattie gets her job back. I was pleasantly surprised that Annelise Ryan didn’t torment us with such a bad plotline.
In Board Stiff, Mattie has just returned to her job while Steve sorts out his life. This is her first case back and she hasn’t seen Steve for a few months. She keeps indicating to Hurley that they need to keep their relationship professionally — although she keeps doing this while putting her clothes back on. So between quickies which are keeping us all entertained, we get an interesting investigation into the murder at the retirement home.
The Mattie Winston Mysteries are fun, lighthearted and not overly complicated murder plots, but they will keep you guessing and investigating. There are more changes in the future for Mattie and Hurley at the end of this story, and it will be interesting to see where they go in the next story.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I venture over toward the group and ask Hurley if I can speak to him a moment. This earns me several looks of contempt, and one of the women goes so far as to voice her objection.
“Hey, wait your turn, missy!” she says. The woman is well built and attractive for her age with carefully coiffed, snow-white hair, hooker-red fingernails, and a carefully made up face. She is dressed in tight black slacks, a low-cut red blouse, and shiny red pumps, which strike me as inappropriate for a women her age until I see that she is sitting in a motorized wheelchair. Hell, the woman could wear six-inch stilettos if she wanted to because she doesn’t have to walk anywhere in them.
“I’ll give him back to you,” I say. “We work together and I just need to speak to him for a minute.”
Clearly she is not satisfied with my answer because she motors toward me, grabs my arm, and pulls me aside. “You need to make it quick, darling, because I’m working my best magic on this guy and right now he’s the only man in this facility who looks like he’s capable of sustaining a stiffy for any length of time. Hell, half these guys can’t even get a stiff, much less maintain one. I once tried to talk Bernie Chase into salting the food with Viagra, arguing that it would help with is safety record because it would keep some of these old fools from rolling out of bed. But he wouldn’t go for it and now I’m stuck with a bunch of limp noodles. Don’t let this wheelchair fool you. I’m not dead in that part of my body yet, and while I’m not saying it’s been a longtime since I last had sex, I do vaguely recall seeing a T-Rex thunder by during my post-coital haze, so I’m in need here, understand?”
“And you think you can score with the detective?” I say, barely suppressing a smile.
She then does something so shocking it makes me back up a step. First, she turns her wheelchair away from the others so that only I can see her face. She contorts her lips and pops both an upper and lower denture loose, letting them stick part way out of her mouth for a second before she sucks them back in. Then she leans in closer to me and wiggles her carefully drawn eyebrows. “Play a skin flute once without the teeth and you got ‘em for life,” she whispers.
It takes a lot to shock me. If you work as a nurse in an ER for any length of time you see and hear things that would mortify most people. Despite that, Snow White’s comment makes me gasp and clamp a hand over my mouth.
Hurley hears it and looks over at us. “Did Gwen just confess?” he asks with half a grin.
“Not to murder,” I say.
Gwen gives me a smug smile and motors back over to Hurley. “I’ll share everything I know with you,” she says, stroking his arm. “You come back and find me when you’re done talking to the big-boned blonde.”
I see Hurley’s mouth twitch and know he’s trying to suppress a smile.
Today I am celebrating a momumental achievement (for me :) ). I have published 100 posts over at HeroesandHeartbreakers.com. I am still amazed that they haven’t contacted lawyers and serve a Cease and Desist Order on me each time I submit a suggestion or an article to them.
To celebrate the fact that they have actually accepted and published 100 First Looks and articles from me, I will be giving away a $10.00 gift certificate from your choice of Amazon or Barnes & Nobles.
Our giveaway winner was Mary Jo. Congratulations and thank you all for your support.
For those who pop over on my sidelink to H&H, thank you for your support!
ORDER A COPY: Midnight Pursuits: A Killer Instincts Novel
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: April 1, 2014
Paperback: 368 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Soldier-for-hire Ethan Hayes is the youngest member of an elite mercenary team. While he may be affectionately nicknamed the rookie, the skills Ethan honed as a Marine make him seriously dangerous. But when a sudden distress call puts him in close quarters with a rival, he finds more than his field skills being put to the test.
Juliet Mason stands out as the master thief in a covert group of assassins and spies. Her latest mission is personal—and it’s gone horribly wrong. Juliet may prefer to work alone, but when the rookie comes to her aid in snowy Eastern Europe, she can’t deny they make a good team. But even up against a powerful enemy, their most challenging task yet may be fighting the passion between them.
Ethan was just starting his mandatory down time, when he intercepted a phone call on Isabel’s phone. Isabel had left it behind as she left for her honeymoon, and even though he saw from the caller I.D. that it was Juliet Mason, he knew he needed to answer. Ethan met Juliet (one of Noelle’s thief/assassins) last year when she helped out Ethan’s team, but he isn’t sure what makes him more angry, her sarcastic tongue and merciless teasing or the fact that he can’t get thoughts of her dark eyes and perfect body out of his head. It is one thing to be teased about his age by his teammates, as they call him the rookie, but having the beautiful and dangerous Juliet mocking him was frustrating.
Ethan can tell when he answers that Juliet is hurt, badly. With Isabel on her honeymoon and the rest of his team on assignment, Ethan knows that even half a world away, he is the only hope that Juliet has and he has to act fast or he may be too late.
After patching up a bullet hole in Juliet’s side and sitting on her until she begins to recover, Ethan finally forces out of her what happened. Juliet’s brother is shot when he returned home early to take care of his sick girlfriend. What Henry manages to tell Juliet confirms that Zoya was killed by a very expensive contract killer, the Siberian Wolf. Henry works for the Red Cross and Zoya is a school teacher. Who would hire a high priced assassin to kill off a school teacher?
Juliet manages to get–or torture–the information out of the Wolf before she kills him and she won’t stop until she kills the man who hired the hit. She also learned that Zoya wasn’t the only target on his list and there are still three living targets. Ethan won’t leave Juliet to face such a dangerous man by herself, especially wounded, but he wants to bring in some of his team to protect the other targets.
Juliet likes to work alone, but if she is going to be followed around by Morgan’s rookie and give in to his boy scout good deeds, she will only agree to protect the others as long as Ethan doesn’t get in her way of extracting her revenge.
If you like Maya Bank’s KGI series like I do, you will really enjoy this story. This is my first of the series (I didn’t realize it was the 4th book) and when I mentioned how much I was enjoying Ethan and Juliet, I was gifted with copies of the first three books in the series. (Thank you, Penguin!)
I don’t know about the other books yet, but if you were going to start a book in the middle of the series, you can’t help but love Juliet and Ethan. You do meet some others in the series, but I didn’t feel lost for not knowing everyone’s deep background. They worked together when it was needed even though this series includes the two separate teams belonging to Morgan and Noelle, who both have different purposes and styles.
Juliet is a tough-as-nails heroine. Juliet is dangerous and she knows it. Her one weakness is her feeling for Henry. She was a orphan who went from one bad foster family to another and her “brother” Henry was another foster kid and they took care of each other. When she loses Henry, she loses the only person who truly loves her and who would cared if she died. Herein we see the soft heart of the dangerous assassin that she tries to keep hidden from the others.
Although Juliet considers herself a bad person since she does kill people for a living, you see her giving in to not only her attraction to the younger Ethan, but also softening up to his Captain America view of the world. He wants to protect the other people because that’s how he is wired, and you see how the jaded Juliet wants to be better and worthy in his eyes.
This was a thrilling action story and a moving love story as well. I am going to see what I can do to squeeze in the first three. There is some deep history between Morgan and Noelle (the leaders of the two separate teams) and you get a tiny glimpse through their arguing that once they were deeply in love but they both appear to feel betrayed by the other. So there is going to be one explosive book when those two get thrown back together.
This will definitely make my ‘I’m gonna follow the series’ list. But if you just want to give this a try, it can work as a stand alone as well.
Bonus – Elle Kennedy has a breakdown of the characters of the Killer Instinct Series on her website
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“She was the best mother in the world, but she wasn’t always sweet.” A laugh sprang to his lips. “This one time, she got into a fistfight at one of my hockey games.”
Juliet burst out laughing. “Seriously? Why?”
“One of the other moms was trash-talking a kid, a player on the opposing team. She was being really nasty, booing the poor kid, yelling at the ref to toss him out of the game when he body checked her son.” Ethan grinned. “My mother asked her very politely to stop, which led to the woman turning her nastiness on Mom, and, well, nobody gets away with talking to Debbie Hayes like that. All us kids were on the ice–the game was stopped so the refs could deal with the fight in the bleachers–and we were just standing there, gaping at them.”
“What happened afterward?” Juliet asked curiously.
“They were both ordered to leave the arena and never return. So for the rest of the season, my dad was the only one allowed to come to my games.”
She snorted. “Sounds like my kind of woman.”
Ethan swallowed the lump obstructing his throat. “I think you would’ve like her.” He paused. “And she definitely would’ve like you.”
“I highly doubt that. She would have taken one look at me and told me I was completely unsuitable for her son.”
He was about to argue, but she didn’t give him the opportunity. She abruptly rose from the bench, and indefinable expression on her face. “I’ll be back. I just want to check something out.”
She was gone in the blink of an eye, leaving Ethan sitting there in frustration. He was tempted to hurry after her, but he didn’t want to draw any attention to himself, and sprinting down the sidewalk in pursuit of Juliet was guaranteed to do just that.
What the hell had he said to send her running like that? It wasn’t like he’d asked her to come with him to meet his folks; both his parents were gone.
So what? Did the idea that his dead mother might have approved of her terrify Juliet that much?
He gritted his teeth, impatience coursing through him as he waited for her to return. It was always one step forward, two steps back with the woman, and he was getting damn tired of it. Just once he wanted her to admit that she enjoyed spending time with him. That she cared about him. But it seemed like she was determined to keep her distance, no matter how hard he tried to bridge it.
She was gone for nearly forty minutes, and as each minute ticked by, Ethan grew more and more tense. He was about to abandon his post and go looking for her when he spotted her dark hair in the crowd of pedestrians. His shoulders relaxed but his features remained hard, even when Juliet settled next to him on the bench again.
“What the hell was that?” he demanded.
She shrugged, and he noticed that her cheeks were redder than before, as if she’d just finished doing something strenuous. “I told you, I had to check something out.”
He scowled at her. “Are you going to elaborate?”
Sighing, Juliet reached into the inner pocket of her coat and pulled out a rumpled brown bag. “Before, when we were cruising the area, I noticed a little bakery a few blocks east of here.” Her face burned brighter. “I popped in to see if they had any chocolate-chip cookies.”
He jaw fell open, and he had to wonder if he’d misheard her. “Chocolate-chip cookies,” he echoed.
“But the bakery was closed,” she hurried on, “so I had to break in and–”
“I broke in,” she repeated. “Don’t worry. Nobody saw me. Anyway…” She held out the paper bag, embarrassment filled her gaze. “The bastards didn’t have chocolate chip, so you’ll have to be satisfied with good old gingerbread.”
Dumbfounded, Ethan stared at the bag before meeting her dark eyes. “You broke into a bakery to steal cookies for me?”
She shifted awkwardly on the bench. “Yeah. You know, ’cause what you said about your mother, and the hot chocolate and…” She trailed off, then shoved the bag into his lap, a defensive edge creeping into her voice. “Let me guess, you’re pissed off that I compromised our surveillance.”
He just gaped at her.
“Fuck, fine. It was a stupid idea, I guess. Toss the bag in the trash if you–”
He cut her off with a kiss. A firm, fleeting kiss, over before it even began, but it conveyed all the emotion he couldn’t seem to put into words.
“Thank you,” he said gruffly. “That was really nice of you, sweetheart.”
He saw her pulse jump in her throat. “You’re welcome,” she said after a beat.
ORDER A COPY: Shadow Spell: Book Two of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: March 25, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars
With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…
A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.
Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.
Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves.
When we finished Dark Witch, the three O’Dwyer cousins, Branna, Connor and Iona along with their friends, Meara, Boyle and Fin, had cause the evil Cabhan a great deal of pain, but they were not successful in killing him.
A few months have past and Cabhan is back and wielding a shadow spell which keeps him lurking and protected in the shadows and where he has started making sneak attacks on our witches in an attempt to destroy their circle. When he almost succeeds in dealing a death blow to Connor, Meara and Connor realized that they have stronger feelings toward each other which have been lurking beneath the surface for some time. As Connor’s interest in Meara grows, Cabhan takes more a notice of her as both a weaker target of attack (since Meara has no magic) and also as a way to destroy Connor.
After several attacks are directed at Meara, the group decide that they need to stop waiting around to defend against Cabhan’s attacks and prepare their own offensive. After they manage to wound Cabhan in one of his shadow attacks, they have his blood to use against him in a spell of their own. But will it finally be enough to destroy the evil which gives Cabhan his power?
This was of course my favorite type of story – friends to lovers. Can’t help it. Love them! There no shocker that since this is book 2 of a trilogy, we will not defeat Cabhan in this book, and although I am interested to see how they defeat him (and I believe there is a strong hint how they will ultimately succeed), what I am really, really dying to find out the story behind Branna and Fin.
We have had hints that they fell in love as teenagers and many hints that they still hold strong feelings for each other (especially poor Fin) but that once Branna learned that Fin was a blood descendant of Cabhan, she turned him away. She is still resentful of the fact that they became lovers before Fin allowed her to see the mark on his body showing his was Cabhan’s descendant. So she felt deceived and she has been slightly untrusting of him and allowing him to participate in their circle. I think Fin was just hoping that if Branna loved him enough, she wouldn’t turn on him once he told her, but it didn’t work out for poor Fin. Personally, I can’t wait to see the sparks fly between them in Book 3.
If you are reading this series, come back when you are done and we’ll talk about the possibilities of how to defeat Cabhan.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“And what are you going to do about Alice?”
“Alice Keenan, who’s signaling her churning lust across the pub like one of those flag people.” She waved her arms to demonstrate.
“A pretty face, for certain. But not for me.”
Meara put on a look of amazement, sent it around the table. “Are you hearing that? Connor O’Dwyer saying a pretty face isn’t for him.”
“Wants a ring on her finger, does she then?” Finn asked, amused.
“That she does, and as that’s more than I can give, she’s not for me to play with. But it is a pretty face.”
He leaned toward Meara. “Now, if you were to snuggle up here, and give me a kiss, she’d think, ah, well he’s taken, and stop pining for me.”
“She’ll have to pine, as other foolish women do.” She scooped up more chicken. “My mouth’s occupied at the moment.”
“You put it on mine once.”
“Really?” Iona pushed her plate aside, leaned in. “Tell all.”
“I was but twelve.”
“Just shy of thirteen.”
“Just shy of thirteen is twelve.” she feigned stabbing him with her fork. “And I was curious.”
“It was nice.”
“How could I tell?” Meara countered. “It was my first kiss.”
“Aw.” Iona drew in a sighing breath. “You never forget your first.”
“It wasn’t his.”
Connor laughed, gave Meara’s braid a tug. “It wasn’t, no, but I haven’t forgotten it, have I?”
“I was eleven. Precocious,” Iona claimed. “His name was Jessie Lattimer. It was sweet. I decided we’d get married one day, live on a farm, and I’d ride horses all day.”
“And what happened to this Jessie Lattimer?” Boyle wanted to know.
“He kissed someone else, broke my heart. Then his family moved to Tuscon, or Toledo. Something with a T. Now I’m going to marry an Irishman.” She angled over, kissed Boyle. “And ride horses all day.”
Her eyes sparkled when Boyle linked his fingers with hers.
“Who as your first, Branna?”
The minute the words were out, the sparkle changed to regret. She knew. Of course she knew even before Branna flicked a glance a Fin.
“I was twelve as well. I couldn’t let my best friend get ahead of me, could I? And like Connor for Meara, Fin was handy.”
“That he was,” Connor agreed cheerfully, “for he made sure he was where you were ever possible waking minute.”
“Not every, because it wasn’t wasn’t his first kiss.”
“I practiced a bit.” Fin tipped back in his chair with his pint. “As I wanted your first to be memorable. In the shadows of the woods,” he murmured, “on a soft summer day. With the air smelling of the rain and the river. And of you.”
She didn’t look at him now, nor he at her. “Then the lightning struck, a bolt from the sky straight into the ground.” She remembered. Oh, she remembered. “The air shook with it, and the thunder that followed. We should have known.”
“We were children”
“Not for long.”
Congratulations to our giveaway winner – Joanne B.
Kylie sees the way Jensen looks at her. The dark promise in his eyes. That rough edge of dominance she knows he possesses. But dominance is the one thing that frightens her above all else. She and her brother barely survived a childhood steeped in violence and abuse. She could never give up total control and submit to a man. Especially a man like Jensen. Could she?
Jensen sees the shadows in Kylie’s eyes. Knows he has to tread very carefully or risk losing any chance he has with her. All he wants is the opportunity to show her that dominance doesn’t equal pain, bondage or discipline. That emotional surrender is the most powerful of all, and that to submit—fully to him—will fulfill the aching void in her heart in a way nothing else ever will.