Book Review: Hers, Unleashed

reviewcover-hers unleashedTitle: Hers, Unleashed [Hers 3]

Author: Anna Adler

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Silenian security guard Kaitlyn Bennett has won the proverbial lottery. A male hybrid matching all her fantasies has chosen her from thousands of other women. For three months, he will be her personal sex toy—a dream come true made possible by the planet’s new legislation.

Roth is in desperate need of a hideout, and becoming a sex pet on Silenia is the perfect way to disappear. All he has to do is entertain his beautiful human Mistress until his enemies give up the search—and be paid for the pleasure. What could go wrong?

As it turns out, a lot. The Traditionalists on Silenia have had enough of the new order, and Kaitlyn and Roth end up fighting side-by-side against the rising crime. Roth discovers he enjoys his new role, almost as much as he enjoys being the object of Kaitlyn’s desires…

But as Roth’s time on Silenia comes to an end he has to decide which he wants more: his money or the woman of his dreams. And when disaster strikes, is the bond between Kaitlyn and Roth strong enough to save Silenia, or will his secret be the end of them all…?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I always feel conflicted after reading Anna Adler’s work, and Hers, Unleashed was no exception. The whole infrastructure of treating sentient beings as pets doesn’t sit well with me even though they are being treated well. The similarities to slavery and the potential for abuse leaves me feeling skeeved out.

I do understand, however, that for some, this sort of thing is tied into a submissive/dominant fetishism and power dynamic fantasies, and I can respect that. Because this is erotic fiction and not real life, I am willing to look past it and try to enjoy the story for what it is.

I like that the overwhelmingly unethical practices of the world were changed for this installment of the series. It was nice to see change being enacted.

Despite the afore-mentioned misgivings, the book was well-written. It flowed well and I didn’t run into any major typos or grammatical errors. The characters were interesting, and the sexual-tension between Roth and Kaitlyn was searing. Overall, I enjoyed the book… but I will caution that it isn’t going to appeal to every reader. It’s hard to get past the pet system, but if you can, it’s a fun read.

Book Review: Nothing Compares To The Duke

cover-nothing compares to the dukeTitle: Nothing Compares To The Duke [The Duke’s Den 3]

Author: Christy Carlyle

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

His Only Regret…
Rhys Forester, the new Duke of Claremont, lives his life by four words: Enjoy All, Regret Nothing. He’s devoted to the pleasure of his wild soirees, reckless behavior, and shocking the ton with his interests in trade. The debts that come with his title don’t fit the carefree lifestyle he’s created, and when he’s forced to return to his family’s estate, he’s also forced to confront his one and only regret: the beautiful girl he left behind.

May Be Falling in Love…
Arabella Prescott has been the belle of more balls than she cares to remember. After three seasons and five rejected proposals, she’s done with the marriage mart. Bella’s hopes to live a comfortable life, alone, come crashing down when her parents demand she marry. But her salvation may come in the form of the man she hates the most.

Bella has never forgiven Rhys for what he did to her, but desperate times call for fake engagements. With a few dozen rules, their scheme begins, but it’s not long before the former enemies find themselves breaking every single rule, including the most important of them all: don’t fall in love…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Nothing Compares To the Duke by Christy Carlyle is not your usual historical romance. The heroine is extraordinarily clever, determined, and hard-headed, and the hero is a bit of a lost soul. Had the two never been childhood friends, this story may have gone an entirely different way, but there was something sweet about how close they were, despite being very different people.

The book overall was well-written and well-paced. The characters had depth, and there were just enough hijinks to keep things going. My only real qualm with the story was the last chapter before the epilogue. There was something off about it – perhaps the desperation of the hero in the way he momentarily returned to his old ways… it just didn’t sit quite right with me.

That aside, the rest of the book was fantastic, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who loves historical romances.

Book Review: The Matchmaker’s Match

cover-the matchmaker's matchTitle: The Matchmaker’s Match [Man’s Best Friend 3]

Author: Nicole Flockton

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The last person Meredith Turner expects to see at her best friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner is the guy she had a one night stand with. What’s worse, Lincoln Forrest is the best man and as maid of honor, her partner. To add insult to injury, she has to leave the rehearsal dinner early, and Lincoln is the one to help her with a deeply personal problem. The aftermath of that night brings big changes for them both.

Lincoln Forrest has helped his best friend meet the woman of his dreams, but recently he’s made a series of bad decisions, the biggest being leaving his career with the Army. Now the former K-9 handler is looking for a new career and trying to get his life back on track. Helping Meredith in her time of need connects her to him more than he expected. On a mission to right the wrong he created, Linc will do whatever is needed. But when the attraction that first drew them together flares to life again, will the obstacles between them be too much to overcome? Or has the matchmaker met his match?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored The Match Maker’s Match by Nicole Flockton. The only true qualm I had with it, is that it simply wasn’t long enough for my tastes. I wanted more.

The romance between Lincoln and Meredith was hopeful with a twist of sweet seduction. They made a great couple, even with all the baggage they brought with them.
 
I loved the theme of dogs throughout the book and series, and the writing was both clear, easy to read, and flowed well. I have nothing to complain about. If you like contemporary romance with HEA’s, this book is for you.

Book Review: Opal

cover-opalTitle: Opal [Lux 3]

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well… There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger… and they know it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout was an engaging read from start to finish. The book was well-written and grabbed my attention right away. the characters, both new and old to the series, had depth and purpose.

My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that some of the author’s plot hints were rather obvious. it wasn’t a surprise when Simon or Will returned. Did it change how I felt about the book? Not really.

I had fun. The author is good at drawing out tension and using conflict dynamics to drive the story and the character’s relationships. If you enjoy YA science Fiction Romances, this book is going to be right up your alley. I can’t wait to continue on with the series!

Book Review: A Warrior’s Nightmare

review-cover-a warrior's nightmareTitle: A Warrior’s Nightmare [Immortal Warriors 3]

Author: Denna Holm

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, New Adult

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Jessica is excited about starting college in the fall, already enrolled at the University of Oregon. Every year for as long as she can remember, she has enjoyed spending a week camping with her father before school started, but this year is special because her best friends are coming with them. She has no way to know they will all be walking into a nightmare straight out of a horror movie.

Eighteen years before, Jessica’s mother died under mysterious circumstances right after giving birth to her. Her dad refuses to speak about it, though his eyes grow haunted every time the subject comes up. All Jessica knows is that it was a violent death. Her answers will come from a stranger, one who knows far more than he should.

Nethaniel is a Lycaeonian from the planet Laizahlia, a wolf shapeshifter. He is taking his first trip off world with his father when he runs across Jessica fly fishing at the lake. Though it shouldn’t be possible, he recognizes her immediately as his fated mate. Unfortunately, Nethaniel’s father has enemies, and three have followed them to Earth, vengeance on their minds. Jessica and her friends are considered little more than collateral damage.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

A Warrior’s Nightmare by Denna Holm was a fresh twist on the usual werewolf/vampire genres that I’m used to, but not one I’m entirely sure I’m on board with. I actually wish that the author had departed even more from the traditional monster roles. There was an overly comfortable familiarity in the way the lore was put together that made it feel as if there was little effort put into separating the world-building from everything we’ve seen before. That being said, it wasn’t a bad story per se.

Other than a few mishaps with repeated phrases and some bad grammar, the story was well written. I liked most of the characters, even if they lacked some fleshing out. The plot was intriguing, I really enjoyed the descriptions of what it was like for the characters to be wolves… and overall, I just genuinely liked the story.

There were a few issues though. Perhaps because the characters lacked fleshing out, it very quickly became apparent that the antagonist of the story was your typical bad guy. He was evil and sadistic, and thought way more of himself than was reasonable… he wasn’t terribly compelling or interesting really, and he spent a lot of time monologuing as a narrator. I dare say that the first few chapters of the book were incredibly slow because the narration was bogged down by a lot of needless description about things like how to fly-fish, and chipmunks… that just weren’t relevant to the story. The antagonist even came complete with two henchmen – though it was never really explained why they were with him, nor why they listened to him.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad book, I liked it, but I think a lot of the author’s time was spent working on things that didn’t really matter in the grand context of the story, rather than taking that time to further develop the structure of the story, the relevant world-building, and the characters.

Book Review: Twisted Palace

review-cover-twisted palaceTitle: Twisted Palace [The Royals 3]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

From mortal enemies to unexpected allies, two teenagers try to protect everything that matters most.
Ella Harper has met every challenge that life has thrown her way. She’s tough, resilient, and willing to do whatever it takes to defend the people she loves, but the challenge of a long-lost father and a boyfriend whose life is on the line might be too much for even Ella to overcome.

Reed Royal has a quick temper and even faster fists. But his tendency to meet every obstacle with violence has finally caught up with him. If he wants to save himself and the girl he loves, he’ll need to rise above his tortured past and tarnished reputation.

No one believes Ella can survive the Royals. Everyone is sure Reed will destroy them all.

They may be right.

With everything and everyone conspiring to keep them apart, Ella and Reed must find a way to beat the law, save their families, and unravel all the secrets in their Twisted Palace.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thought I had mixed feelings about the first two books in this series—and then I read the third book. At this point, I’m not sure why I spent money on these books. The drama in this book was so ridiculously overblown to the point of absurdity. The series took a sharp left turn by re-introducing Ella’s father when he was firmly dead in the first two books of the series. He wasn’t a likable character, but instead, overbearing, aggressive, and cruel.

The one redeeming point of this book was that there was an actual plotline, and the murder mystery aspect of it was both well-plotted and interesting. The technical aspects of the story, once again, were well-done. That being said, I’m not sure they made up for the characters and their motivations. This whole series has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m exhausted by the cruelty and narcissism of the characters and the banality of the social drama in their lives. This book, in particular, felt like a left-over storyline, introduced in an attempt to contrive more drama in the quickly fizzling plotline of the first two books.

I sincerely have to caution you if you choose to pick up this series: this isn’t for teen readers. This series is full of sex, drugs, sexual assault/attempted rape, murder, and cruelty by 98% of the characters. It isn’t a fuzzy romance despite the sparkly covers, and despite the luke-warm ratings I’ve given the series, I can’t honestly say that I’d recommend it to most readers.

Book Review: The Gates of Dawn

review-copy-the gates of dawnTitle: The Gates of Dawn [The Never Dawn 3]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Banished to the surface, Noah and his team struggle to survive in the harsh climate and forced to make a difficult decision. In their quest to see the first dawn, they make a shocking discovery about their past that could help Noah bring Mother’s cruel regime to an end.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I’ve enjoyed The Never Dawn series by R.E. Palmer, or this latest addition to it. These books came across my desk from a relatively unknown author—and it was by sheer whim that I decided to pick them up for review. I am so glad that I did.

I adored this book. It was such a fantastic conclusion to one of the best YA Science Fiction Dystopian series I may have ever read. Though a bit darker than the two books that came before it, The Gates of Dawn by R.E. Palmer sucked me into the story right away and didn’t let up until the last page. I was saddened to put this book, and this series, down when the last sentence was read. I’ve grown to love and care for the many characters within its pages. I cheered when they triumphed, and gasped, disheartened when they were thwarted. There were many aspects of the story that surprised me and left me scrambling to read on to discover what would happen next. The ending, in particular, wasn’t one I saw coming—but at the same time, I’m not upset by it. Although it wasn’t the ending I expected or even wanted, it seemed fitting for Noah’s story. I read this book aloud with my daughter, and she fought tears the entire last chapter and epilogue of the story.

It broke our hearts, and I think we both agree that this series is one of the best series we’ve read between us. If you enjoy YA Science Fiction, or Dystopias, you need to pick up this book, and this series. It is so well crafted and well voiced—trust me when I say that you will not regret it.

Book Review: Depths of Lake

review-cover-depths of lakeTitle: Depths of Lake [The McCain Saga #3]

Author: Keary Taylor

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It was another day at the ranch, training horses and working fifteen hour days. And then the last person I ever expected showed up. Lake McCain: a Marine, tall, ripped—and the best friend of my dead fiancé. Cal died to save Lake, and now Lake claims that he carries a debt to me that he can never repay.

I wanted to brush him off. But then my mom, the manager of the ranch, went and hired him. We spend hours working together with the horses. Lake doesn’t say much. He’s layered and dark and he tries to seem shallow and simple. But he isn’t. There are things under his surface that matter. He works, quiet and strong, and never once lets me down.

Until he confesses that he may be falling in love with me. I can’t deny that there is something between us. But a relationship? I just can’t. I’ve used up all my chances at love. My past relationships have ended in death or disaster, and now I have to live with all of that.

I’m Riley James, and there are depths to Lake—depths to myself—that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Although this was an endearing, sweet romance, the style in which it was written made it a less than engaging read for me.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. It was grammatically correct, well punctuated, and with the exception of one glaring typo where a word was omitted, it was generally well edited overall. The problem for me lay in the flow of the narrative.

Riley’s voice was written in a very detached, often abruptly structured way that felt almost robotic at times. She lacked warmth and it made it hard to follow her point of view at times. I didn’t have a problem with her personality—on the contrary, I quite liked her—but still, it wasn’t always easy to follow her narrative, especially near the beginning and ending of the book.

Despite this flaw, I enjoyed the book for the most part. The characters, though not overly deep, were sweet and likeable. The setting was strong, and the romance seemed natural. I liked it. It wasn’t perfect—it lacked some of the engaging quality I’d expected, but it wasn’t a bad book. I’d recommend it as a light weekend read for anyone who might enjoy a contemporary romance between two broken protagonists.

Book Review: The Raven’s Wish

cover-review-the raven's wishTitle: The Raven’s Wish [Scottish Clans 3]

Author: Susan King

Genre: Romance, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When Elspeth Fraser, a beautiful Highland seer, has a sudden vision of a handsome stranger’s death, she is stunned to see that same man ride into her life soon after. Duncan Macrae is not only the queen’s lawyer–he has been sent north to stop the feud between Elspeth’s wild Highland cousins and a neighboring clan. Determined to send him away to save his life, Elspeth soon resists a strong attraction to the queen’s handsome, mysterious lawyer. Duncan ignores her warnings, intent on finishing his mission for the queen, yet he never expects to feel such passion for this stormy, vibrant Highland lass. When a dangerous enemy threatens all they hold dear, they must face their shared destiny–for if the prediction holds true, they will lose all… including the powerful love that could save them both.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Raven’s Wish by Susan King, though not for the reasons I enjoy most formulaic historical romances.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well written. Though there were a handful of small typos, including missing spaces, missing words, and a mistake in tense, most of them were small and easily navigated around. I never felt bogged down or confused with what I was reading—they were only small hiccups. The pace, though slow at times due to the language the characters were forced to use (historical books often have flowery, drawn out language), most of the time I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the beautiful and often clever descriptions in the narrative. The only time it became a problem was during the sex scenes, where the flowery language and vague language sucked the steam right out of the bedroom and seemed to make the sex drag on for ages. It was pretty—but didn’t convey the amount of lust/steam I was expecting. Most of the time, I opted to skim over the sex scenes.

The characters themselves were a delight—I loved Elspeth and Duncan, both as individual people and as a couple, though Elspeth was definitely my favorite of the two. I love characters with a spark of stubborn defiance and joy in them. That isn’t to say that the characters were perfect, however. Other than Elspeth and Duncan, the characters honestly didn’t seem that fleshed out. Despite having 80 or so ‘cousins’, a lot of time wasn’t spent on the other characters in the book outside the main character, and most of them could have been used interchangeably. I wish they had been more complex, that there had been more depth… but I also recognize that this is a romance book, and it’s pretty par for the course to keep the focus on the main couple (as it should be), and that often means that the minor characters aren’t as well fleshed out.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. For a romance, it was better written for most—the language and the descriptions were beautiful, but again, it was a formulaic romance. The book didn’t break any molds, and it was fairly predictable. Still, I liked it, and I’m glad to have read it. If you’re looking for a strong, well written historical romance full of beautiful descriptions and fun characters, I’d suggest you give this a try. If you aren’t a fan of formulaic romance with happy endings, this may not be for you.

Book Review: Love Beyond Hope

cover-review-love beyond hopeTitle: Love Beyond Hope [Morna’s Legacy 3]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Baodan McMillan values many things in life: friendship, loyalty, kindness, but certainly not love. After the tragic death of his wife many years ago, he hardened himself to the idea of giving his heart to another. There is but one lass who can thaw his chilly heart, a lass he’s never met nor knows of, a lass whose birth won’t occur until centuries after his death…

Mitsy Fredrickson is in serious need of a distraction. With the ink still drying on her divorce papers, she flies to Scotland determined to forget about her own problems by helping her best friend re-enter reality. She knows Bri’s claims that she is able to travel back in time and is currently living in the year 1647 are a lie but, instead of locating her friend, Mitsy falls prey to the same magic and is quickly forced to believe the impossible.

Modern and sassy, Mitsy finds few who know how to take her fiery personality in the seventeenth century, but she finds her match in Baodan, laird of McMillan Castle. He is her opposite in every way, yet she feels balanced in his presence. The more time she spends with him, the harder she falls. She suspects he feels the same way, but something is holding him back — a dark secret from his past that even Baodan doesn’t fully understand. Mitsy works to uncover what is hidden in the hopes that with resolution Baodan will be free to love her. But the truth is darker than she expects, and it threatens to destroy them both.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored this book—much more so than the second in the series. Mitsy was one hell of an intelligent, spitfire of a heroine, and I loved every moment spent with her.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. Other than one misused word (Shuttered should not be the equivalent of Shuddered), the writing was practically flawless. I didn’t run into any typos, awkward sentences, incorrect grammar, or improper punctuation. The writing was clear and fluid and moved at a good pace. I was sucked into the story from the very beginning and didn’t stop until the book was over.

I felt the characters were well characterized, and I especially loved Mitsy, Baodan, and E-o (it’s okay Mitsy, I can’t pronounce or spell his name either). Though Niall was a little too black-hat for my tastes (what I wouldn’t give for a cleverly characterized villain who is neither good nor evil, but a delightful shade of gray), he served his purpose… though I still don’t entirely understand what his motives were.

My only true complaint, once again, is that the romance moved a little too quickly for me to be comfortable. I understand that Mitsy and Baodan fell in lust at first sight. The guy was hot, and she was a quirky redhead. Who wouldn’t love her? But, in what seemed like a few short days, they were ready to tie the knot. There was never any tension between them, no obstacles in their way to drive them together or apart as the book wore on. Their relationship was easy, and never in question. I only wish there’d been more drama between them.

I like the series so far, but I will admit that it seems to be a running theme that the characters all get pretty easy happily ever after’s. For whatever reason, the complications thrown in their way are almost always solved almost before they even cause a problem for the characters, and just about every character is suddenly falling madly in love despite years of not being interested. It doesn’t ring as genuine.  For hardcore romance readers who enjoy formulaic romance, this isn’t going to be a problem… but if you’re more of a fantasy reader who enjoys romance as a subplot, you may find it a little hard to believe—as I do.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I’d recommend it for someone looking for a heartwarming romance with a sassy heroine.