Book Review: The Immortal

cover-the immortalTitle: The Immortal [Rise of the Warlords 2]

Author: Gena Showalter

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Halo Phaninon, assassin of gods, is as cold and merciless as a machine. For victory, he will cross any line. When tasked to kill twelve of mythology’s fiercest monsters in twenty-four hours, Halo eagerly accepts. Except, each morning he awakens to the same day, forced to relive it over and over again. Only one other person retains their memory—the beauty who threatens his iron control.

Ophelia the Flunk Out hates her disaster of a life. She’s the family disappointment, a harpy warrior without a kill and powerless—or is she? Every night she’s doomed to repeat her own murder, but every morning she rises to spar with Halo, a ruthless warlord increasingly determined to save her…and lure her to his bed.

Halo’s insatiable desire for the stubborn Ophelia drives him wild…and he only craves more. If he remains in the time loop, they stay together. But if he escapes, they lose each other forever.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like this book – I usually enjoy Gena Showalter’s novels, but this one just wasn’t for me. Part of the problem is that it isn’t a stand-alone, not really. There’s a lot of lore and world-building involved, and it’s all sort of dumped on the reader very quickly.

To make matters worse, I tend to prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven stories, and whatever this was, it definitely wasn’t character-driven. After several chapters, I still had no idea what the driving force was behind the characters, other than superficial reasons. One wanted to be a general. The other wanted to complete a set of tasks. Why were these important to them? What defined who they were? Don’t get me wrong, the plot was certainly interesting in concept, but plot alone doesn’t carry a book.

On the technical side of things… well I think this was the biggest issue for me. There was a lot of “explaining” going on, and not a lot of “describing”. It felt like the author was trying hard to set up the world-building quickly, so a lot of back-story for the characters and the world was being handed out, without letting it just organically come into play. I grew bored quickly because the story wasn’t sucking me in. I didn’t empathize with the characters, and a lot was going on lore-wise that just made it feel confusing and chaotic.

Overall, I didn’t like the book. I’m sure if I’d read the first book in the series before this, it might have been easier to follow and get pulled into the story, but as a standalone… I’m going to pass on this one.

Book Review: Electric Idol

cover-electric idolTitle: Electric Idol [Dark Olympus 2]

Author: Katee Robert

Genre: Fantasy, Urban, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

He was the most beautiful man alive.

And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros’s life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was so thrilled to get a chance to pick up this book before its release – I’d read the previous book in the series, Neon Gods, and loved it, so I had high hopes for this one. I wasn’t disappointed. The author did a fantastic job of putting a dark, urban edge to a familiar myth. The story was full of political machinations, danger, and sultry romance.

The characters in this book really shone – I loved the clever Psyche and dangerous Eros, they made the perfect pair in an unexpectedly heartwarming way. It was nice to see a plus-sized character that didn’t carry a depressed “woe-is-me” attitude as her sole personality trait. Psyche was caring, but also deceptively intelligent in a way that surprised most of the other characters – including Eros. I do wish Eros hadn’t taken as much of a backseat to Psyche, though. He was described as cold and deadly, but most of the book was spent in his headspace where he constantly thought about his love for Psyche. That isn’t a bad thing, but I feel like we didn’t get to see enough of his dark and dangerous side to get a real feel for who he was before he fell in love with Psyche.

The book itself was incredibly well-written. The story flowed effortlessly and was easy to sink into. I was reading an ARC copy, so I did run into quite a few typographical errors, but I’m sure those will be ironed out by release. This is perhaps the best series I’ve tackled in the past year as a reader, and if you liked the first book, but found it perhaps a little too risque, this might be the perfect read for you. It’s sexy without pushing the envelope too far, and I think a lot of readers will find it a little easier to enjoy. Overall, I’d highly recommend this one. The world-building and political intrigue were stunning, and the romance was on-point. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Book Review: Barbarian Alien

cover-barbarian alienTitle: Barbarian Alien [Ice Planet Barbarians 2]

Author: Ruby Dixon

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Twelve humans are left stranded on a wintry alien planet. I’m one of them. Yay, me.

In order to survive, we have to take on a symbiont that wants to rewire our bodies to live in this brutal place. I like to call it a cootie. And my cootie’s a jerk, because it also thinks I’m the mate to the biggest, surliest alien of the group.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It feels weird to admit I like this series thus far, but I do. The writing is clean and easy to read, the book was fast-paced, and for the most part, I liked the characters. The romance between the two main characters was steamy and just this side of being problematic, which made it racey at times.

The book isn’t perfect, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of problematic undertones to this story if you want to examine it too closely – but the author does a fairly good job of wheeling the story back out of trouble when it gets a little too close to not-okay. Because this IS fiction, it’s a little easier to let some of the more barbaric aspects of the character’s actions slide a little. This is supposed to be fun, dirty, and a little tongue and cheek, and I’m okay with letting it be what it is.

I will say, though, that of the characters I’ve met so far in this series, Liz is probably my least favorite – mostly because of how crass and loud-mouthed she is. I like her stubbornness, and even her gall at times – she’s sassy and opinionated – but she pushes it a little too far for my tastes at times, and I just wish there was a little more grace to her character.

That aside, I enjoyed the book. It’s not epic literature, but it’s a fun, erotic-leaning read, and if you enjoy that, then I can recommend it to you. If you prefer cleaner romance, you might find this one a little too intense.

Book Review: The Duchess Hunt

cover-the duchess huntTitle: The Duchess Hunt [Once Upon A Dukedom 2]

Author: Lorraine Heath

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Hugh Brinsley-Norton, the Duke of Kingsland, is in need of a duchess. However, restoring the dukedom—left in ruins by his father—to its former glory demands all his time, with little room for sentiment. He places an advert encouraging the single ladies of the ton to write why they should be the one chosen, and leaves it to his efficient secretary to select his future wife.

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was such a gem of a historical romance. I loved the characters and the unique plot. The romance was deliciously unrequited at the start and slowly gained momentum into something more steamy as the story wound on.

I found the writing to be fluid and effortless with an even pace, and the scandalous pasts of the two lead characters led to an imaginatively different sort of love story.

loved every moment of this book and read it in one sitting. If you love historical romances as I do, I’d highly recommend this one as a fun twist on the usual Duke plotline.

Book Review: Burning Desire

review-burning desireTitle: Burning Desire [Turn Up The Heat 2]

Author: Marie Harte

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Firefighter Tex McGovern struck out with Bree Gilchrist the first time. And the second. And the third… He should probably just stay away. After all, Bree’s father is his boss, and pursuing her goes against the firefighter brotherhood. No matter how much he desires her, Bree is off limits. Period. But as things start to heat up between them, Tex decides some codes are meant to be broken…

Bree distrusts Tex. The displaced cowboy-turned-rescue-worker is too wild and wicked for his own good. Then she sees him helping people with no thought to himself, and she can’t help wondering what could be if she were suddenly his. But her father will not have his daughter dating a firefighter, and he can break Tex’s career. That’s a heavy burden to place on anyone, and Tex and Bree are forced to decide if the sparks between them are enough to risk the fallout to them both.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t think it was possible for a formulaic contemporary romance to go so terribly wrong, but here we are. I honestly can’t imagine what the author was thinking when she chose to start the book not only after the lead couple had already met but after two failed dates as well. Where was the romance? The sparks of desire? Off-screen. That’s where. It was an awful way to sequence events and completely demolished any build-up for what should have been the main theme of the book. You know, actual romance.

To make matters worse, I didn’t like the main male lead. His macho boy’s club banter with his coworkers and friends wasn’t appealing. It felt very cliché, including the dialogue. You may ask, what about the main female lead? If you see her, let me know. Several chapters into the book, and other than a brief run-in, there was very little to be seen of the characters outside of the male lead’s pining for her. I honestly can’t tell you anything about her personality at all beyond the fact she wore demon’s horns to a bachelorette party.

At 6% into the book, I gave up. I wasn’t engaged, I didn’t get to know the characters, and there was no romance to be seen. I don’t know where this went wrong, but it felt like the book still needed some heavy content editing. Although the narrative was clear and easy to follow, I think the overall writing just missed the mark.

Book Review: The Viscount Made Me Do It

review-the viscount made me do itTitle: The Viscount Made Me Do It [Clandestine Affairs 2]

Author: Diana Quincy

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A seduction that could ruin everything…

Hanna Zaydan has fought to become London’s finest bonesetter, but her darkly appealing new patient threatens to destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. With each appointment, the daughter of foreign merchants is slowly seduced by the mysterious former soldier. She’s smart enough to know Griff is after more than he’ll reveal, but whatever it is, the bonesetter’s growing desire for the man just might tempt her to give it to him.

An attraction that cannot be denied…

Rumors that he killed his own parents have followed Thomas Ellis, Viscount Griffin, practically since he was a boy. More than a decade after the tragedy, Griff receives a tip about his parents’ killer… one that takes him straight to a beautiful bonesetter. Griff is convinced Hanna is a fraud, but she stirs genuine feelings in him that he thought had perished along with his family.

Hanna has a gift for fixing fractured people, but can she also mend a broken heart? More importantly, will Griff let her?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I debated with myself for a bit on what to rate this book – it wasn’t an easy answer. I read an early review copy, so there were a few rather unremarkable editing errors – but nothing too obtrusive. For the most part, the writing was easy to follow and flowed well. I liked the characters and the overall plot, and the romance was steamy.

So why 4 stars rather than 5?

There were some bits to this story that were written… oddly, I guess that is the way to put it. It’s rather hard to explain, but one example would be how the 26-year-old main female lead had no idea what sex entailed or what orgasms were. I mean, I understand that she was an untouched spinster at that point… but she was also a medical professional… and let’s be honest, at 26, you know things, even if you have no first-hand experience. It was weird how the author showcased this.

In addition to this, the romance between the two main characters waffled quite a bit. One second they hated each other, then they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.. Then they were denying their passion, then they were all over each other again – which is all well and good, except the switches sometimes seemed to come out of nowhere.

Overall, I liked the book. I enjoyed reading it, and I think if you like Historical Romance, this is a pretty good one.

Book Review: Avoiding Alpha

review-avoiding alphaTitle: Avoiding Alpha [Alpha Girl 2]

Author: Aileen Erin

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Tessa McCaide has come a long way since her abrupt entrance into the world of werewolves, but she still has just as far to go before she’s comfortable with turning full wolf. In the meantime, she’s avoiding the topic of shifting to four legs any way she can. Thankfully her mate, Dastien Laurent, is quite the distraction.

When she finds her best friend, Meredith, getting sick in the bathroom, Tessa knows something’s majorly wrong. Meredith was cursed years ago, and the dark magic kept her wolf dormant—only now the wolf is awake, and that same spell is killing her.

Tessa has no intention of sitting around while Meredith wastes away. Even if it means playing with magic she doesn’t understand, she’ll do anything to save Meredith’s life. Including bargaining with the local coven of witches and its crazed leader, whose only goal is getting Tessa to join the witchy ranks.

Can Tessa save her friend without losing herself?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed this continuation of Tess and Dastien’s story. Like the first book in the series, this book was well written – the narrative flowed easily, it was engaging, and there weren’t any obvious technical errors. I loved the characters just as much as the first book, and they seemed more at ease with each other. I particularly liked the inclusion of more of the Bruja side of Tessa’s lineage.

So why 4 stars instead of 5?

The book felt significantly shorter than the first. I sped through it so quickly that by chapter 8 I was more than halfway through. It almost felt like an episode of a TV show – there was one main story arc, which they solved pretty quickly, and then the story was done. I think it would have benefited the book to have a few more subplots woven in.

That aside, the book was great. It’s definitely an easy read, meant for Young Adults, but it didn’t feel as angsty as the first book.

Book Review: Daughter of Lies & Ruin

reviewcover-daughter of lies and ruinTitle: Daughter of Lies & Ruin [Tales of the Blackbone Witches 2]

Author: Jo Spurrier

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Synopsis/Description:

There’s something strange brewing in this tinder-dry forest – a girl with a sword and a secret, a troupe of vicious bandits vanished without a trace, beasts that don’t belong and a witch with a macabre plan.

Elodie hasn’t been learning witchcraft for long, but she knows enough to be worried, and the fact that her mentor Aleida wants to pack up and leave in short order isn’t helping to settle her nerves.

Elodie just hopes to get everyone out of this mess unharmed, but it’s looking more unlikely with every passing hour. And when the strange witch’s ire falls on her, Aleida’s wrath sparks a fire that threatens to scorch the earth itself …

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I love this series, and this book so much. I can’t tell you how excited I was to pick up the second book in the Tales of the Blackbone Witches series, especially so close to reading the first one, and it certainly did not disappoint. Like the first book in the series, Daughter of Lies & Ruin was extremely well-written, filled with colorful characters, magical hijinks, and amazing world-building.

Elodie and Aleida create such an interesting dynamic between them – the somewhat cold, more experienced witch, and the meek scullery maid with more heart than common sense. They make a strange contrast to one another that works well, and balance each other out.

If you liked the first book in the series, or are a fan of YA Fantasy in general, you’re going to like this book – it’s a really solid series that is beautifully written. Personally, I can’t wait to read more and see where Elodie’s powers lead her. I feel there are some magnificent magical battles on the horizon for her and Aleida, and I’m excited to see this series continue.

Book Review: The Dane Law

reviewcover-the dane lawTitle: The Dane Law [The Atheling Chronicles 2]

Author: Garth Pettersen

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

After a peaceful year running their Frisian estate, Harald and Selia are called to Engla-lond.

Their return is marked by violence and intrigue. The king has vowed to Queen Emma that their son, Harthacnute, will inherit the throne, but the atheling is cruel and reckless. Many view Harald as the better choice, which makes him a target for the unseen supporters of his half-brother. King Cnute urges Harald to be prepared to assume the throne should Harthacnute prove inadequate. Harald resists being swept up by forces beyond his control, but doubts he will survive the reign of King Hartha.

And what of his older brother, Sweyn?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

If you are a fan of historical tales full of romance, intrigue, and action, The Dane Law by Garth Pettersen will be right up your alley.

The book is wonderfully well-written, full of beautiful historical detail and vibrant atmosphere. The narrative is well-paced and sucks you into the time period effortlessly.

I truly enjoyed the characters and the little bits of humor thrown in especially. It is a bit of a heavy read, but well worth it.

Book Review: Night Demon

reviewcover-nightdemonTitle: Night Demon [Night 2]

Author: Lisa Kessler

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Gretchen Finch’s job would be much easier if she weren’t alone in the jungle with a brilliant recluse whose every glance sets her on fire. But the more she focuses on her work, the closer she gets to unlocking the mysteries of a terrible creature – the Night Demon – that threatens the world as she knows it. Though her scientific mind tells her it’s impossible, she’s beginning to believe the ancient Mayan tales as the sinister jungle comes alive around her.

Lukas Smith has spent hundreds of years searching for answers to his immortal Night Walker nature. As a series of ancient glyphs become clear, he’s about to find out more than he’d ever hoped, but the more he learns, the more his fate intertwines with the Night Demon, and the harder it becomes to hide his immortal secret from the beautiful, intelligent Gretchen.

Together, they must find a way to stop the inexplicable violence and mass destruction surging across the earth before the Night Demon destroys more than just mankind.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about Night Demon by Lisa Kessler. Overall, it’s a decent read. I liked the location the majority of the book took place in. I liked the characters, the romance, and the writing style. The world-building was a bit vaguer than I would have liked, but still substantial enough to carry the story. I enjoyed the overall plot and the sequence of events. 
 
What I didn’t like, was how large the cast of the book was, and how much time was spent hopping between the different characters. I don’t feel like hopping between the points of view of the guardian, or the gods who created him was necessary to the plot, and in some ways, it detracted from the narrative by pulling the reader’s attention away from the two main characters. It felt too much like the author was revisiting characters from elsewhere in the series, rather than letting them go so the focus could stay on the romance plot of this book. It was distracting.
 
Did I hate the book? No. As I said, for the most part, I enjoyed the book. If you like paranormal romance reads, this one wasn’t bad – I just think it could have been better. I gave this book 3 stars because it’s a mixed bag. Not great, not terrible. It’s worth reading, but I wouldn’t keep a copy on my bookshelf.