Saturday, December 16, 2017

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Title: Keepsake
Author: Sarina Bowen
My Rating: A
Narrator: Erin Spencer and Teddy Hamilton

Genre: New Adult Romance 
Series: True North #3
Main Characters: Lark and Zach
Release Date: January 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he's good for much more than farm labor.
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.25
Story: 4.75


Okay, I'll admit it. I'm pretty much in love with this entire series. And this one was so good. It was an interesting dichotomy between these two characters. Zach has seen so little of the world, while Lark has seen too much of it. 

Lark is on the Shipley farm to heal. After being kidnapped in Guatemala, she's in a place mentally that isn't good, but she can't stand her parents hovering anymore...so she runs to her best friend May...one of the Shipley siblings. She's there to work and forget, but her nights are filled with nightmares. That's where Zach comes in. He begins sleeping with Lark simply to comfort her. His presence in her bed helps to make her feel safe...something she never has in the middle of the night.

Zach has also found healing here. Four years before he was kicked out of the cult where he'd been raised. In that cult, there are too many men, so when they reach a certain age, they are discarded. That's what happened to Zach after an unfortunate incident. But up until that point, he led a completely sheltered existence. He's been exposed to very little. So, sharing a bed with Lark is most definitely an exercise in self-control. He's a virgin. He's never been this close to a woman before. 

So, yeah, these two are pretty hot together...and I loved the scene where things happened. The reaction in the bunkhouse was EPIC. I was truly laughing out loud. So much fun. 

I enjoyed this one. Poor Zach...and poor Lark. She's been through so much trauma, she can't work through it all. It makes for an emotional, but really satisfying read. I really liked it. 

You can read any of these books in this series as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend them all. They're all fantastic!

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Gryphon King's Consort by Jenn Burke

Title: The Gryphon King's Consort
Author: Jenn Burke
My Rating: A

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series
Main Characters: Luca and Eirian
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Love takes flight.

The sudden death of the Gryphon King throws the kingdom of Mythos into uncertainty, and Crown Prince Luca rushes both his coronation and an arranged marriage to a man he’s never met. Eirian is young and idealistic, and while they both want what’s best for their people, their philosophies couldn’t be more different. While Luca believes in honoring tradition, Eirian is determined to infuse modern values into their kingdom of magical creatures. When given the choice between loyalty to his husband and his own crusade, Eirian makes a decision that might doom their marriage.

Still, Luca is committed to making their union work, and that means forgiving his brash consort. But when Eirian becomes the target of a deadly conspiracy, Luca must act fast—or forever lose the chance to explore their burgeoning love.
 

My Review:
I wasn't sure about this book going into it just because I'm not huge into paranormal, but I do love Jenn Burke's writing, so I gave it a try. I'm so happy that I did. I really enjoyed this one...and even shed a few tears...which almost always gets a book a 5 star rating from me (if an author can move me to tears, I'm obviously heavily invested in the story and characters).

So, this story...these two guys have known for a while that they would be married. It's a political arrangement, but they both thought they'd have a few more years before it became a reality. They've never even met one another. But when the residing king suddenly dies, Luca must step up and part of that is taking a consort. They meet one day, get married the next. There's no time to adjust. 

So, things are certainly not easy between the two men. Luckily, they are both very attracted to the other, but there is still a lot of tension to work out between them. And that's before the whole balance of the kingdom rests on the two of them being able to work it out.

I liked this one a lot. Eirian is worried about losing himself to just being the king's consort...an idea that he hates. He's still his own person with his own ideas and belief system. One of the reasons he was chosen as consort was to help bring different ideas to the leadership of the kingdom. (Note: I love the political aspects of this book. It was so easy to draw parallels between what this kingdom is going through and the heavily divided political world we live with here in the US. I wish we could work it out like it was in this book.)

I enjoyed this one a lot. And was pleasantly surprised to even find some intrigue and suspense to the story. I definitely recommend this one! (And yes, I totally cried at one point at the end where things weren't looking so good.)

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dirty Money by Jessica Clare (audiobook)

Title:  Dirty Money
Author: Jessica Clare
My Rating: A
Narrator: Rebecca Estrella and Rudy Sanda

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Roughneck Billionaires #1
Main Characters: Boone and Ivy
Release Date:  January 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Boone Price and his brothers know oil; at least, the dirty, backbreaking side of working an oil rig. But when their scrubby, worthless hunting land turns out to be sitting on top of one of the biggest oil wells in North America, they go from the rig to the boardroom and end up billionaires practically overnight. Now with enough money to do whatever he wants, Boone is developing a taste for fine things. And the finest thing he's ever seen is Ivy Smithfield, local realtor. Boone's determined to win her affection and show the world that he's more than just a dirty fool with a bit of money. Ivy's classy and beautiful-she'll make the perfect trophy wife. The fact that she's sexy and funny is just a bonus. There's one tiny problem-Ivy's as dirt poor as Boone was. Her carefully crafted veneer of luxury? All an act to promote her business. What's Boone going to do when he finds out the woman he's falling for is, well, in his league?
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.5

I had to read this book after reading book #2. I had to know Boone's story and how this family of billionaire roughnecks happened. I was not disappointed, but wow, I never would have guessed that Boone was such an ornery cuss...LOL.

Boone is the working man's billionaire having to make his way in the middle of the snooty wealthy. He doesn't handle the strife and attitudes among his peers very well. In fact when they snub him, he tends to throw his money around and then take to burning businesses down. It's actually pretty funny. But Boone is certainly not your typical billionaire hero...and I liked that. 

Ivy is not what she appears to be either. I love that she is working as hard as she can to make a better life for her and her sister, despite the constant setbacks. I love that Boone fell for her, because this girl deserves to be spoiled. 

I liked the two of them together, and everything about this book worked for me. I just thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was entertaining and kept me laughing at Boone's hijinks. I definitely recommend it and am looking forward to the rest of the series.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price (audiobook)

Title:  Hemovore
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
My Rating: B
Narrator: Joel Leslie

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series
Main Characters: Mark and Jonathan
Release Date: September 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: JCP Books
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Listening Length: 10 hours and 25 minutes

Mark Hansen thought working as artist’s assistant would be glamorous, especially if that artist was a vampire. Black tie events, witty repartee, gracing the pages of the local style section…. Didn’t happen. Not even once.

Jonathan Varga is an enigma. True, he’s quiet, generous, and scrupulously polite. But he has zero social life, refuses to be interviewed or photographed, and insists he can only consume feline blood.

Why supermarket blood won't suffice, Mark hasn’t asked. He’s rarely at a loss for words—he can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick as you can say “Miss Thang.” But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.

So he endures the perpetual grind of their routine: Jonathan hiding in his studio, swiping black paint onto black canvases. Mark hurling insults while he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes. Each of them avoiding the other in a careful choreography…until a blurb in Art in America unleashes a chain of harrowing events.

As secrets from Jonathan’s past are brought to light, it becomes clear that all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.

Second expanded edition includes bonus novelette Sweet

My Review:
Overall: 3.75
Performance: 4.0

Story: 3.5

This story is so incredibly creative. In this world, vampires have come about from a highly contagious virus. No one is more aware of that virus's potential than Mark, who works as a personal assistant to Jonathan, a vampire artist. Mark is fastidious in his cleaning to make sure that nothing is ever left with germs from Jonathan. He's very OCD.

This entire book is told from Mark's pov. He's had a crush on Jonathan for years, but can't risk the virus, so it's a crush from afar. But when life changes very drastically for the two men, all those feelings that they've both been denying come to the forefront...just as a result of all the stress. 

This is a story where the romantic relationship doesn't happen for a long, long time. It was a VERY slow build. It's also really hard to get to know Jonathan because the story is only told inside Mark's pov. Overall, it worked, because the story is incredibly interesting. I need a dual pov though. The single kept the story from being as satisfying for me without it.

But I do recommend the audiobook. Joel Leslie always does a good job and his accents in this one were spot-on delicious! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How to Blow It With a Billionaire by Alexis Hall

Title: How To Blow It with a Billionaire
Author: Alexis Hall
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Arden St. Ives #2
Main Characters: Arden and Caspian
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: erotic


Story Overview:
Be careful what you wish for . . .

Once upon a time there was a totally ordinary boy who fell for a cold, beautiful prince. Only it's not a fairy tale, it's my life. The prince is a billionaire called Caspian Hart. And we're trying super hard to live happily ever after.

He's everything I want, need, and can't resist: a man who looks like a god and bangs like the devil. Except he's still got his rules and he's still got his secrets . . .

But if there's one thing Caspian's taught me it's that you should never settle for less than you're worth. And I'm worth his trust. I have to show him that I see him. That I'm not afraid of his passion, or his power, or his past. And that I won't settle for less than everything.

My Review:
This is the second book in what's going to be at least a three-book series. These books need to be read together to get the full impact of the story line. And as far as this book goes, that title gives you the really vital information that you need going into this book. Prepare yourself. This is not the type of book that most romance readers will be satisfied with....BUT there's more to come.

2nd BUT...the levels of romance and just pure 'awww' factor in this book go way, way up from where they were in the first installment of the series. There's still a ton of questions about what exactly is going on with Caspian.  (The entire series is told from Arden's point of view.) But I did LOVE the little glimpses of emotion and vulnerability he showed in this book when it came to how much he cared for Arden...something that he just doesn't let happen. 

This is an erotic BDSM story, but I'd consider it VERY LIGHT BDSM...although just like I said in the first book, I think that is going to systematically ramp up deeper and deeper as the series goes along. There's no doubt Arden is ready for more. Caspian just has to work through his barriers. 

There are also several side plots/stories happening throughout the series with Caspian's sister and Arden's best friend. I loved how both of those played out in this book, although my heart completely broke over Nick.

Now I'm just waiting on pins and needles for the next book. I need more and I'm really hoping that eventually all will be revealed about Caspian and these two will finally find their HEA. I think they're eventually going to be phenomenal together. 

So far, I'm loving the series and highly recommend it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Absolved by Marnee Blake

Title: Absolved
Author: Marnee Blake
My Rating: B

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Altered #3
Main Characters: Luke and Beth
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: Entangled
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Story Overview:
Since a brain-altering drug killed most of Luke Kincaid’s town—including his father—and left him telekinetic, he’s determined to stop the fanatic who stole the drug to create his own super-powered army. That means working with scientist Dr. Beth Jenkins, whose graphic tees and beautiful smile are some of Luke’s biggest distractions.

A science prodigy, Beth works with the FBI and solves the toughest crimes, but she can’t figure out what caused her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The drug that ravaged Luke’s town is volatile, and the mortality rate is still high, yet Beth is convinced it holds the key to saving her mother, even if sexy and tortured Luke doesn’t believe it should be adapted for commercial use. 

When bodies start to pile up, though, the two loners must decide if the goals that tie them together are greater the fears that would tear them apart.

My Review:
This is a series I've followed ever since it came out. It's a cross between a dystopian story (which is what the first book felt like) and paranormal/superhero story (which is how this book felt as the world and these characters have evolved).

The town of Glory was the scene of an experiment gone wrong. The entire town was affected by Solvomine...a drug that killed most, but those that didn't die developed various super-powers. The series has been about how those few people who lived have gone on with this new reality. 

That would be enough for everyone to deal with, but the evil that is the root of this drug is still out there. There are people who want the drug for their own (usually evil) purposes. Luke is one of the soldiers trying desperately to prevent that from happening...oh, and he also was part of that original Glory group. 

Beth is a brilliant scientist. She's in the midst of trying to track Solvomine for the government, but she also thinks that there are important medical discoveries to be made through the drug. On the surface Luke and Beth are on the same side. They work for the same team and in conjunction with one another, but Luke thinks all of the drug should be destroyed, something Beth would never agree to. Oh, and yeah...they're also both really attracted to the other.

When Luke underwent this change, his reality changed in a drastic, traumatic way. He hasn't yet adjusted his mentality to accept all those changes. As a result, he works really hard to shut himself off emotionally. I liked how the story developed because of where it took Beth so she could see what was really going on with Luke. I loved that and the honesty that developed between the two of them even when it was really difficult...something that I don't think would have ever happened otherwise. 

I'm not sure, but I think this may be the last book in the series. Like I said, I've thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's been very different from pretty much everything out there. Each book features a different couple from the original Glory survivors, so they all work as stand-alones, but to get the full effect and enjoyment from the series, I recommend reading all three books. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Operation Green Card by G.B. Gordon

Title: Operation Green Card
Author: G. B. Gordon
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Bluewater Bay #21
Main Characters: Arkady and Jason
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Arkady Izmaylov is a family man. He’s also gay. In Russia. His sister Natalya has been telling him to get out for years, but it’s only after an attack in the street that he finally concedes and says yes to her desperate plan of him marrying a stranger for a green card.

Jason Cooley was taught from birth that he’s no good to anyone. Then the military taught him he was good enough to save other lives, but that purpose got amputated along with his leg. He’s now working security at Wolf’s Landing and sending monthly checks to his ex for their daughter’s education. When Natalya asks him to marry her brother, Jason knows right away he’ll do it more for the mission than the money she’s offering. But when he actually meets Arkady, his mission turns complicated.

Jason quickly discovers he’s not as straight as he thought. He’s also the man of Arkady’s dreams. Arkady must convince Jason that he’s worth loving, and that Arkady won’t disappear from his life like everyone else. Because Arkady has always wanted a family of his own, and he’s not letting go of this one.

My Review: 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Jason is not gay. He does need money though and that's where this fake marriage comes from. 

Jason is an interesting character. His entire identity was wrapped up in his ability to do his job in the military. Then he lost his leg and took the physical determining whether he could stay active duty before he was ready. So, now he's working a minimum wage security job where all he does is monitor video feeds all day, although he's worked to the point that no one can even tell he has a prosthetic. But the main thing leftover from all of this is that his self worth is in the toilet. 

Jason has no issues with homophobia. He messed around with guys a bit on deployments, but never considered it more than the need to get off. But when Arkady comes into his life, he's suddenly questioning all of this. He never thought bisexuality was a thing. He was under the impression that it was a word for guys who didn't want to admit they were really gay. So, you can imagine his surprise that he actually falls under this label...because he wants Arkady...desperately.

Arkady doesn't realize Jason has all these self-worth issues at first. It's hard to get a real read off of the stoic Jason, so Arkady assumes the emotions behind his attraction are his alone, and that Jason just likes sleeping with him.

I liked this book. To Jason, this is all pretty new. For Arkady, he's in a fairly desperate situation...if he goes back to Russia, he will eventually be killed. But below the surface of all that are these two men who find love where they really, really need it. The story was sweet and romantic and everything I love in my romance. I really enjoyed it...a lot.

I definitely recommend this one!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.