SFR Galaxy Awards

Eight lovers of Science Fiction Romance sat down for a drink in Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. We talked so long that we were still going strong when the place morphed into The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. We totally missed the part where it briefly turned into Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille.

We had a lot to palaver about, but deciding to award the first ever SFR Galaxy Awards was pretty easy. We all agreed that Science Fiction Romance needs more recognition. And well, awards bring recognition. We just decided to make them fun.

And SF, especially SFR, isn’t SFR without a bit of banter. Sometimes a lot of banter. So when we chose the books that we each thought were the best of the year, the titles we each picked tell you exactly what they are the best at.


So there’s no “Best in Show” award. There is, however, a “Best Romantic Moment” award. And a “Best Alien Hero” award. One of my personal favorites, because I awarded it (go me!) is for the “Cutest Android”. No, in this case he’s not cute like the romance object, he’s cute like little-boy cute. He’s a child android. (Hint!)

One of the judges awarded a “Dale Carnegie Prize for Novel or Series Most Likely to Win Friends and Influence People.” We were nothing if not creative. Actually, we were a lot of things, including creative.

We had fun. But what we really wanted to do was highlight some terrific books from 2012 that happen to be both great science fiction and awesome romance. Marvelous worldbuilding and an HEA. A combination that is truly difficult to get right.

To find out which books won this year’s SFR Galaxy Awards all you have to do is follow the awards today at the SFR Galaxy Awards site. If you want more info about the awards or just about the love and glory of SFR in general, be sure to jet over to The Galaxy Express and Spacefreighter’s Lounge.

As Captain Picard said too many times to count, “Engage!”

ARC Review: Savage Angel by Stacy Gail

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance, Fantasy romance
Series: Earth Angels #2
Length: 138 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: February 4, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Feel nothing. Sara Savitch’s personal mantra has been hard to live by ever since her torrid one-night stand with army doctor Gideon Mandeville. Descended from the Seraphim, angels known as heaven’s soldiers, Sara may be an expert fighter, but she’s an amateur when it comes to relationships.

Physically unharmed, but still battle-scarred, Gideon has returned to Dallas in the hopes of regaining his faith in humanity—and in himself. Instead he’s walked into a nightmare. His father is on a serial killer’s hit list, and has hired a personal bodyguard—the very woman who has haunted Gideon’s dreams for a year.

As Sara works to build an impenetrable fortress around her client, she yearns to tear down the one around Gideon’s heart. With his bitter rejection of warriors, will he ever be able to accept her true nature? Sara must find a way to trust Gideon with her secret as the killer closes in….

My Review:

Although I enjoyed Savage Angel, the second book in Stacy Gail’s Earth Angels series, there were a couple of things that niggled at me just a bit.

Sara Savitch is leading the security team for Noah Mandeville, one of her security firm’s oldest and most loyal clients. Noah is recovering from a heart transplant, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that someone is targeting every single recipient of organs from the same donor that provided Noah’s new heart, and Noah’s next on his hit list.

The complication is that Noah’s son Gideon stole Sara’s heart right before he left on a tour of Afghanistan. He’s returned to help deal with the threat to his father’s life, but he’s been unwilling, or unable, to deal with what happened between himself and Sara at his going away party.

What happened was an absolutely incendiary one-night (actually one-afternoon) stand against a wall. One that neither of them has ever forgotten.

But Sara has no experience with relationships. None at all. She doesn’t understand Gideon’s complete lack of communication. His response to her message that his father had survived his transplant was was beyond terse.

Gideon returns from Afghanistan suffering from an extreme case of PTSD. Even though he served as a doctor, he saw combat. And came back shattered down to his soul.

Because Gideon is so screwed up, he tries to push Sara away and off his father’s security team. He has no idea who or what he is pushing around, and his treatment of her is not merely Neanderthal, but frankly unforgiveable.

Then he finds out what he’s really dealing with. Unfortunately, Sara finds out who their real enemies are. The world is nothing like Gideon thought it was. There are much greater evils abroad than he could possibly have imagined.

There are also angels. Gideon is just lucky that one of them loves him in spite of everything he’s done.

Escape Rating B-: The first third of this story made me want to smack someone, possibly Gideon. It may be because I just finished the first book in the series, Nobody’s Angel (see review), but the title Savage Angel is also a dead giveaway. I knew Sara was an angel, but the story kept trying to be coy about what she was.

Gideon might not have known what Sara was, but the readers do. That was so not the big reveal. It was just annoying.

Gideon starts out as more than an arsehole. I know it was the PTSD talking. And he is trying to push Sara away. Considering that he accused her of having gotten the job of leading his father’s security team by providing sexual favors to his father while the man was recovering from a heart transplant, Sara forgave him WAY too fast. With her skills, she should have kneed him in the family jewels for that remark, and made him grovel for a few days. At least a few days.

On the good side of the equation, once the story picked up steam, it really got cracking. I could see where this tale feeds into a larger story arc. There’s obviously a bigger bad operating behind the scenes, and the tension just got ratcheted up.

More, more!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Lycan Unleashed by Tiffany Allee

LycanUnleashed-500-200x300Format Read: ebook received from the publisher
Number of Pages: 115 pages
Release Date: January 13, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Detective Astrid Holmes is a sensitive, a human capable of feeling the energy of otherworlders. When she is dispatched to the horrific murder scene of a local vampire, she expects it to be just another day on the job. But when evidence is stolen on her watch, she is removed—not only from the investigation, but from her job as a member of the Chicago police department’s paranormal unit.

Astrid’s only hope of reinstatement lies with her ex co-worker and almost-lover, Lycan Mason Sanderson. But convincing the OWEA agent to let her assist with the investigation isn’t nearly as difficult as staying alive when the murderer realizes that Astrid may hold the key to unlocking his identity.

Fighting to take down a killer could have deadly consequences for Astrid and Mason, but working together puts their already fragile relationship in jeopardy.

My Thoughts:

Now that we’re three books into the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency, the “world” it operates in is already established. This is excellent, as this series is made up of novellas rather than full-length novels, and each one ends up being just a bit short. Prior background is good.

The heroine of Lycan Unleashed is Astrid Holmes, and she’s someone we’ve met before. Astrid is the “sensitive” who’s been called on in previous cases. Astrid can, well, “sense” what type of paranormal committed a crime, and what kind of energy surrounds a crime scene.

She’s usually an office worker, because her sense is acute. She senses paranormal energy all the time. From every paranormal or Otherworlder (OW) around her. Every aura they exude. For example, vamps smell like old cigarettes and are surrounded by a miasma of fear. The scene where Astrid describes what it’s like to be her is truly awesome.

But speaking of aromas, lycans smell like the forest. Mason Sanderson particularly. Astrid thought that they might have the possibility of a relationship, but one kiss, one year ago, and after that, he can’t seem to stand to be in the same room with her. Not even when they have to work together on a case for the OWEA.

Still, when Astrid’s current case goes totally pear-shaped, she has nowhere else to turn. Her vampire partner Claude is away for one of his mysterious disappearances. A vampire is killed in a particularly nasty way (even for vamps) just to send a message to the Magister of the City. And then a critical piece of evidence goes missing while she is handling it.

Astrid is taken off the case and put on administrative leave. Of course she is. Cops do what cops do, even when they’re otherworlder cops.

To save her badge, and to redeem her name, Astrid needs to stay on the case. For that, she goes to Mason. And once they are back in each other’s close orbit again, she discovers that his regret over their one kiss last year wasn’t because he was sorry that he kissed her.

It was because he was sorry that he didn’t think it was a good idea to keep right on kissing her, and a whole lot more. Forever.

It’s just too bad that they’re trying to resolve their misunderstanding while people, and others, are trying to kill them.

Verdict: I like the world that Allee has created in this series. The more of it I learn, the more I want to know. In general, the books are too short.

In specific, this one was definitely too short.

Both Mason and Astrid are not on speaking terms with their birth families. Clearly, something terrible happened in both their pasts that is messing with their heads. It’s a factor in why Mason pushed Astrid away the previous year. But we don’t find out nearly enough details about what the heck happened with either of their families. We get some info, but it’s not enough.

The lack of closure or healing left me feeling a bit shortchanged regarding the love story. On the one hand, it wasn’t insta-love. On the other hand, I wasn’t quite sure why Mason finally gave in to his emotions. He didn’t really resolve any of his issues. He just stopped resisting.

There’s a lot in this story that’s about family. The crime that’s being investigated is a family crime. For those details, you need to read the story.

banshee-charmer-500-200x300I enjoyed this particular “File” from the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency, but it didn’t quite live up to the previous entries. Banshee Charmer (review here) did a better job with the cop shop aspects of the story and Succubus Lost (review at Reading Reality) hit the high points of the romance higher. But the series as a whole is pure paranormal romance/urban fantasy fun and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

And Astrid’s partner Claude definitely needs his own story. Where does that vamp keep disappearing to?


I give Lycan Unleashed by Tiffany Allee 3 and 1/2 wolfish stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Binding Vows by Catherine Bybee

Format read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Time Travel Romance
Series: MacCoinnich Time Travel Trilogy #1
Length: 292 pages
Publisher: Catherine Bybee
Date Released: January 13, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Duncan MacCoinnich’s task… Travel to the twenty-first century Renaissance Faire, deflower the Druid virgins, and go home. Only his job is not so easily accomplished with the virgin in question, Tara McAllister. Time is running out. The evil is closing in on them both. Tara finds Duncan irresistible after what was supposed to be a mock Hand-fasting binds them. When Duncan whisks her to his home in Scotland she could accept that. But, can she forgive him for taking away her modern life when she finds herself in the sixteenth century? And is it love they feel? Or something else?

Time travel romances are always much more interesting when they gloss over the means by which the time travel happens and skip straight to the part where the characters deal with the effects of the time travel.

Time travel generally strains the willing suspension of disbelief. The more an author tries to explain something that is inexplicable, the more it generally takes me out of the story. Time travel is magic, or close enough. I want to move on and read about people dealing with the result.

Renaissance Faires are also magic, admittedly of a much more mundane kind. The 16th century, or thereabouts, with all the beautiful costumes but without all the horrible smells and diseases. And with flush toilets, or at least Port-a-potties. (Forget what I said about no horrible smells!)

So, Binding Vows is a time travel romance that doesn’t get into all the gory details about how the time-travel gets accomplished. Excellent! In fact, our time-traveling heroes don’t initially reveal that they are time-travelers. The Ren Faire gives them the perfect opportunity to blend in with the locals.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones blending in. Duncan and Fin are at the Faire because they’re keeping an eye on an evil sorceress named Graina. She’s pretending to be a Gypsy fortune-teller.

But then, they’re pretending to be 21st century dudes who just happen to like dressing up as knights.

Instead, they’re all Druids. Graina, calling herself Gwen, is on the lookout for a virgin with Druid bloodlines who can restore her powers. Let’s just say that the sacrifice required of the virgin will not be a willing one.

Duncan and Fin come to the Ren Fair every year to make sure that there aren’t any virgins available. On the rare occasion that they do manage to find a 21st century virgin, any sacrifices that they make to the cause are very willing indeed. And lots more fun.

Until Duncan meets Tara McAllister, a 25-year old virgin who resists his seduction, but calls to his heart. Tara wants more than a one-night stand, she’s looking for someone who will stand by her. Someone different from the boy-man who abandoned her sister when she became pregnant, and different from the father who threw them both out.

But Duncan knows he has to return to his own time when the Faire is over, and he can’t rip Tara from her own century, her own life. But once Graina sets her evil eye on Tara, he realizes he has no choice. And that he wants none. He wants Tara for himself.

It’s only after he carries Tara to his home in the 16th century, barely one step ahead of the evil witch, that he understands that the woman he has come to admire, and maybe even love, may never forgive him for ripping her out of time.

And he learns that the evil his family has fought for centuries has followed them home.

Escape Rating B+: The time travel parts of the story were terrific! When Tara is carried back in time, I really felt for her confusion, her anger and her grief. Her old life is dead, and she has to start over. Even if she accepts why it happened, she’s lost everyone she ever loved. She needed to mourn.

The relationship between Tara and Duncan takes time to develop. There’s attraction, but it needs time to grow into something more. What I found a bit unrealistic was just how, well, unrealistic Tara was about the position of women in the 16th century. However equal Duncan treated her in private, in public the expectations would be different. The world wasn’t going to change just because she was from another century, especially if that had to be hidden.

Duncan’s family is a joy. It was great to see Tara develop a loving relationship with other people in his family, especially his mother and his sisters. After reading a lot of stories where all the characters come from dysfunctional families, it was fantastic to see a totally functional one!

As a side note, if you liked the idea of magic at a Ren Faire, Emma Bull’s classic urban fantasy, War for the Oaks, also hinges on the magic of a Ren Faire. If you’ve never read it, indulge yourself. You’ll thank me. Really.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Real Men Don’t Break Hearts by Coleen Kwan

Format read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Real Men #1
Length: 235 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: December 10, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Ally Griffin is horrified to learn her new landlord is none other than the infuriating playboy Nate Hardy—the man whose wiles she just knows got her jilted at the altar six years ago. Add to it that her ex-fiancé Seth is showing up in her hometown of Burronga, Australia, to marry his beautiful new bride…for real this time. But the kicker? Everybody’s treating Ally as though she’s still heartbroken. She’s just fine, thank you very much, but could The Jilter have the decency not to hire her sister as his florist?

Nate Hardy is tired of his high-flying city career and bachelor lifestyle and is looking for something more real. The last thing he needs is to find himself undeniably attracted to Ally, the woman with whom he never saw eye-to-eye. But is he even capable of what Ally wants and deserves?

As Ally tries to pull her life out of the rut it’s fallen in, she doesn’t count on Nate stirring up her emotions. A short-term fling with the resident bad boy is practically irresistible, but only if she can guard her heart…

My Review:

Real Men Don’t Break Hearts by Coleen Kwan is simply a light and fun contemporary romance from Down Under.

It’s never a good day when you discover that your ex-fiance is coming home to get married. Especially when he’s coming home to marry someone rich and famous.

Not that Ally wants him back. Not marrying Seth was probably the best thing that happened to her. It’s just that, well, the rent on her gift shop is two months behind. And when Seth left her at the altar, her dreams of a future pretty much got left at the altar as well.

Six years later, she still hasn’t found any new dreams. The gift shop isn’t even her idea. When her Nana’s health started to fail, Ally was the one who was available to take over the shop. It might be in her name, but it’s still really Nana’s shop.

Ally wanted to open a coffee shop. Or go to University. Instead her life is on hold.

Then it all blows up. Her elderly landlord sells the building housing her shop and her apartment to Nate Hardy, the town’s former bad boy. Her ex-fiance’s best friend. The man who had to deliver the bad news to her that her wedding was off.

Ally’s sure that Nate never liked her. That he’s the one who convinced Seth to dump her. That he was happy when Seth left her. And now he’s back in town, and she’s sure he must be thrilled that his buddy can rub salt into her supposed wounds. No one knows that those wounds aren’t quite the ones that everyone thinks they are.

She throws soap at him. She throws him out of her shop. Ally now is nothing like the little goody-two-shoes Nate remembers.

And he can’t get her out of his mind.

Nate isn’t the bad boy that Ally remembers, either. He’s not a boy any more. He’s also not bad. He’s come back to town to re-open his brother’s landscaping business. To make up for a lot of past mistakes. To make a fresh start.

And she can’t get him out of her mind.

Maybe they can both finally leave the past behind them. Maybe they can make a fresh start…with each other.

Escape Rating B+: This is a lovely contemporary romance that will put a smile on your face when you finish. You might have a couple of tissues by your side, but that’s okay. They won’t be too damp.

Nate is a former bad boy who grows up and comes home to find out what he wants to do with his life and who he wants to be now that he’s grown up.

Ally has been wounded and her family has been protecting her for too long. She needs to take charge of her own life and decide what she wants to do instead of just drifting. The wounds were very deep, even more so because she’s kept them secret for so long.

They find each other at the right time. Their relationship starts out as “friends with benefits”, then they go through a certain amount of misunderstandammits as they start negotiating towards more.

Their reasons for their caution with each other are well-done. They have history but six years is long enough to put it behind them, if they work at it. Which they do.

Read Real Men Don’t Break Hearts for a sweet and well-earned happy ending.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 1-27-13

Right this minute, what’s probably on my actual nightstand is my feet. Aching. Trying to secede from the union with the rest of me. Sending messages in expletive deleted wanting to know why I’m torturing them in ways that must be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

The American Library Association Midwinter Conference is in Seattle this weekend. I’ve never been certain about the thrill of victory, but by Sunday afternoon (the conference officially starts on Friday), I’m all too aware of the agony of the feet. Or at least my feet.

Possibly also my back. I can pick up all the ARCs I want. Not just because I’m a librarian, and I’m who they are here for, but also because I don’t have a problem shipping them home. I am home!

But books, as we are all too aware, are damn heavy. Especially when you are carting them around with you all day like a turtle with its house on its back. (This is part of the reason why I’ve gone for ebooks in such a big way. My iPad weighs exactly the same, no matter how many books are in it!)

I’m going to try really hard to only pick up print ARCs for stuff I truly want to read. The galley guide that came out this week showed that a lot more publishers were planning to have NetGalley widgets available, so I’m hopeful. We’ll see.

By the time you read this, the Happy Endings Blog Hop will have ended. I’ll announce the winner next week.

There are other giveaways that still have plenty of time left! Lacy Danes is giving away a Favorite Things Prize Pack and a Kindle Fire on her tour introducing her Dragon’s Fate series.

Stacy Gail is awarding a $25 Amazon Giftcard to a random commenter on her tour for the first book in her Earth Angels series, Nobody’s Angel.

And finally, you can win a copy of Stacey Kennedy’s new book, The Cat’s Meow, by entering the giveaway here. This cat is definitely worth meowing over!

Now that I’ve teased you, here’s the complete list of last week’s posts:

A Review: Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
B Review: Waterfall by Lacy Danes
Author Interview with Lacy Danes + Giveaway
B Review: Nobody’s Angel by Stacy Gail
Guest Post: Stacy Gail is Making Heroes + Giveaway!
A- Review: The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy
Guest Post: This or That with Stacey Kennedy + Giveaway
A- Review: The Hunter by Theresa Meyers
Stacking the Shelves (31)

There is life after conference, even if my poor feets disagree. So what’s happening this week?

The big event will be the SFR Galaxy Awards. On Thursday, I think all the judges (except Jo Jones, she’s on an around the world cruise!) will be talking and blogging and tweeting about these absolutely fantastic awards for books we loved in science fiction romance in 2012. For the complete details on how the SFR Galaxy Awards came to be, head on over to The Galaxy Express and Spacefreighter’s Lounge. These ladies were inspired by Ursula K. LeGuin, and I ask you, who better?

Stacking the Shelves (31)

I think I’m mostly going to let this issue of Stacking the Shelves speak for its overwhelmingly massive shelf. I mean self. OMG.

This is two weeks’ worth of shelfing. Not a misspelling. Shelving is where you put them in order. I think what I have here is definitely shelfing. Where you accumulate them lovingly for future reading pleasure.

As you contemplate this abundance, think of me. I will be at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference this weekend. It is being held in Seattle, and the Convention Center is the Exhibit Hall.

Among other things, guess what will be there? More ARCs!

I don’t even have to worry about shipping the ARCs home this time. I live here.

OMG indeed.

For Review: (all ebooks)
An Affair to Dismember (The Matchmaker #1) by Elise Sax
All He Ever Dreamed (Kowalski Family #6) by Shannon Stacey
Beer and Groping in Las Vegas by Angela Quarles
The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) by Kristan Higgins
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
Binding Vows (MacCoinnich Time Travel #1) by Catherine Bybee
Blood and Magick (Deacon Chalk Occult Bounty Hunter #3) by James R. Tuck
Captain Durant’s Countess (The London List #2) by Maggie Robinson
Falling For Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen
Firebrand (Rebel Angels #1) by Gillian Philip
Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach (Rachel Aaron)
Game for Marriage (Game for It #1) by Karen Erickson
Going Under (Bound by Magick #3) by Lauren Dane
Holding Out for a Hero by Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Nico Rosso, Tamara Morgan, Adrien-Luc Sanders
Lycan Unleashed (From the Files of the Otherworlder Enforcement Agency #3) by Tiffany Allee
Midshipman’s Hope (Seafort Saga #1) by David Feintuch
One for the Wicked (Dark Mission #5) by Karina Cooper
The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance (Blud #2.1) by Delilah S. Dawson
Redeeming Vows (MacCoinnich Time Travel #3) by Catherine Bybee
Ruby’s Ghost by Shona Husk
Silent Vows (MacCoinnich Time Travel #2) by Catherine Bybee
Thrill Ride (Black Knights Inc. #4) by Julie Ann Walker
Treacherous Temptations by Victoria Vane
The Wanderer (Thunder Point #1) by Robyn Carr
What’s a Witch to Do? (Midnight Magic Mystery #1) by Jennifer Harlow

Purchased: (all ebooks)
The Human Division #1: The B-Team by John Scalzi
The Human Division #2: Walk the Plank by John Scalzi

Borrowed from the Library: (all print)
Lord Gray’s List (The London List #1) by Maggie Robinson
The Truth of All Things (Archie Lean #1) by Kieran Shields

Review: The Hunter by Theresa Meyers

Format read: ebook checked out from the library
Formats available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Genre: Steampunk romance
Series: The Legend Chronicles #1
Length: 335 pages
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Date Released: November 1, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

The start of an exciting new steampunk paranormal romance trilogy, which follows three brothers as they battle to find and protect their father’s piece of the missing Book of Legend, while falling in love with the paranormal heroines along the way. Original.

They’re the Chosen—Winchester, Remington and Colt—brothers trained to hunt down supernatural beings using the latest steam-powered gadgetry. It’s a hard legacy to shoulder, and it’s about to get a lot more dangerous…

A Devil Of A Job

Colt Jackson has gotten his name on many a wanted poster with success in the family business: hunting supernaturals across the frontier. Lately, though, there’s a sulfur stink in the wind and the Darkin population is exploding. A rift in the worlds is appearing. To close it, Colt will have to do the unthinkable and work with a demon to pass arcane boundaries no human alone can cross.

Except when he summons his demon, he doesn’t get some horned monstrosity: he gets a curvy redheaded succubus named Lilly, who’s willing to make a bargain to become human again. He also gets Lilly’s secret expertise on the machinations on the dark side of the rift. And her charm and cleverness help to get them out of what his silver-loaded pistol and mechanical horse can’t. Of course, when all hell breaks loose, he might have to sacrifice his soul. But what’s adventure without a little risk?

My Review:

Theresa Meyers’ The Hunter reads kind of like one of those dime-novels that used to tell tales of adventures in the Wild, Wild West. Except that Meyers’ version would be more like the Weird, Weird West, complete with demons and mechanical horses.

There are three brothers, just like on the TV Western Bonanza. Except these brothers are named for guns. And they’re way more dangerous than any six-shooter–or rifle.

The story reminds me of Indiana Jones‘ adventures, complete with treasure hunt. Only the treasure that Colt Jackson is hunting is supposed to put demons back in their place, not just sit in a museum.

Although there was that incident with the Ark of the Covenant…

The Jackson brothers were born to a long line of hereditary Hunters, who sound a bit like the Knights Templar. Hunters hunt the supernatural; demons, vampires, shape-shifters. All the weird creatures that came out to “play” when the Gates of Nyx opened. (I want to know a LOT more about how that happened!)

The “Chosen” are prophesied to be be able to close those Gates, if they can re-unite the mysterious (and legendary) Book of Legend.

The Archdemon Rathe just wants to punish Colt Jackson for killing one of his demonic daughters. He sends the succubus Lilith to do his bidding.

Lilith wants to be human again. She’s studied the Jackson brothers incessantly, hoping against hope that they are the Chosen. If they fulfill the prophecy, she’ll be free. Or she’ll be finally dead. Either way, her torment will be over. If she can trust Colt Jackson’s promise, she can help him find the first part of the Book.

Colt has been obsessed with restoring the Book of Legend all his adult life. He’s certain that demonic infestations are on the upswing. He thinks it’s only a matter of time, and not much time at that, before the demons rule the human world. Then there will be no hope at all.

He needs to re-unite that Book. For that, he needs to get both of his brothers back into the hunt, even though they have both given up the family trade.

And he needs to trust a demon.

Escape Rating A-: This adventure/romance/steampunk was terrifically great fun. Indiana Jones set in the weird west. Or steampunk with a side-helping of demons for spice. Whichever way you slice it, it’s a gloriously good romp.

The steam in this steampunk romance (and it is steamy!) comes from the unresolved-until-the-end sexual tension between Colt and the succubus Lilith. They have fantastic chemistry that they absolutely shouldn’t explore! Talk about opposites attracting. He’s never sure whether what he feels is real (she is a succubus, after all) and she’s not sure she still knows how to feel. Then she’s certain that if they do give in, she’ll steal his soul whether she wants to or not. Talk about tense!

I kind of wish she hadn’t been named Lilith. The name is just a bit obvious.

The stakes in the adventure are appropriately high–as in high enough to make both the hunter and the demon re-think everything they believe in. And more than enough to keep you turning pages as fast as you can.

If you love weird west stories, get this one now! If you like  Moira Rogers’ Bloodhound series or Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso’s Ether Chronicles, you’ll love The Hunter. I can’t wait to read Winn’s (Winchester) and Remy’s (Remington, of course) stories, so I’m glad they’re already out and I don’t have to bite my nails waiting for them!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Guest Post: This or That with Stacey Kennedy + Giveaway

I’m so happy to welcome Stacey Kennedy back to Reading Reality! Since Stacey has been here before, this time she’s doing something just a bit different. And that’s so appropriate, since Stacey’s paranormal romances are also just a bit different, but in a totally fun way. See today’s review of The Cat’s Meow to find out just how much fun her latest one is!

But her guest post is also just for fun. It’s a “This or That” list. Take a look and you’ll see whether Stacey likes this…or that.

Marlene: Coke or Pepsi?

Stacey: Pepsi over ice…YUM!

Marlene: Coffee or Tea?

Stacey: I have no hesitation in admitting that I am 100% addicted to coffee.

Marlene: Now that I’ve gotten the important drinks questions out of the way…Morning person or Night owl?

Stacey: Night Owl. It’s honestly a problem. My body seriously hates to go to sleep early and my kids wake up at 6 a.m.—you can see the problem, right?

Marlene: Plotter or Pantser?

Stacey: Panster for the win! Even if I try to plot, I never follow it, so it’s pointless. But sometimes on those longer novels, I outline just to keep everything organized.

Marlene: Do ahead or procrastinate?

Stacey: Oh, I would totally be a procrastinator, but I know better. If I dared to be lazy, I would get swallowed whole by my workload. I have to always keep moving forward or life would get a wee bit crazy. Or crazier than it already is, I should say.

Marlene: Oscar or Felix? (The Odd Couple, are you a slob or do you clean up

Stacey: I’m a total Felix, but maybe have a little Oscar in me, too. I like things neat and tidy, but if that means tossing whatever in a closet so I don’t have to look at it, that’s okay, too.

Marlene: Homebody or Adventurer?

Stacey: Total homebody! I love my family and friends, and I love spending all my time with them. Plus, I’m a total chicken when it comes to adventurous things.

Marlene: Print books or ebooks?

Stacey: I used to be a print book kinda gal, but then I ran out of room to store them. So now, I love my ebooks! I keep the print buying for when I go to conferences and can have my favorite authors sign the books.

Marlene: Heroes or Anti-heroes?

Stacey: I’m a sucker for a sexy hero!

Marlene: Cats or Dogs?

Stacey: Dogs. Just don’t tell my 3 cats that!

I hate to tell you this, Stacey, but they probably already know. Cats rule, dogs drool. And cats have sneaky ways of reminding you at every opportunity. At least mine do.

The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy
Witch’s Brew Book One

A good witch always has a kick-ass back-up plan.

Libby is an Enchantress—a witch gifted by the Goddess to conjure spells. When a magical presence is detected around a recent string of feline slayings, Libby takes the case to uncover the reasons behind the odd deaths. Much to her displeasure, the coven also sends a sexy warlock, Kale, to assist her.

While having the muscle around proves to be useful, fighting the attraction between them is worse than a hex, especially considering Kale is keeping secrets. But soon, Libby has bigger problems than the elusive warlock when her spells turn up clues that point to something far more sinister than slaughtered cats.

Now Libby has landed herself in the midst of an uprising. She trusts no one and isn’t safe—not from the warlocks stirring up trouble. Not from the worrisome rebellion she can’t escape. And certainly not from Kale, who is weaving a very dangerous spell over her heart.

Read an Excerpt HERE

BUY at : Entangled Publishing | Amazon | B&N | Books on Board | iTunes

About Stacey:
Stacey Kennedy’s novels are lighthearted fantasy with heart-squeezing, thigh-clenching romance, and even give a good chuckle every now and again. But within the stories you’ll also find fast-paced action, life-threatening moments, and a big bad villain who needs to be destroyed. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband and two children. If she’s not plugging away at a new story—which is rare because her muse is annoying—you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Sons of Anarchy, Games of Thrones, Supernatural and Dexter.Stacey welcomes comments from readers. You can find her at:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dual ARC Review: Hot Ticket by Olivia Cunning

hotticket-236x360Format Read: ARC provided by Publisher courtesy of Netgalley for Review
Length: 400 Pages
Series: Sinners On Tour, Book 4
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Formats Available: eBook, Kindle, Nook, Trade Paperback
Purchasing Info: Publisher, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Powell’s, The Book Depository, Kindle, Nook

Book Blurb:

He needs her to mask his pain…

When Jace walked through the doors of Aggie’s dungeon, the last thing he expected was to find self-forgiveness and the love of a remarkable woman. But when a terrible accident sidelines Jace during the band’s tour, the burdensome chains of his past wrap ferociously around his heart.

She needs him to forgive himself…

Determined to crack through Jace’s armored shell, Aggie must go beyond her usual methods to mend his heart to love again.

Our Thoughts:

Marlene: If you have been following Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour, when you read the opening of Hot Ticket, you might have the feeling that you’ve been here before.

And you’d be right.

Lea: The timeline of this one was a deja vu situation and I liked it in some ways because it refreshed my memory after such a long break since the release of Rock Hard. On the other hand there were times when it all seemed “more of the same” from a different character’s perspective. Also with reading Double Time late last year, we knew a lot of what was coming.

Marlene: The opening of Hot Ticket is the same scene as the opening of Rock Hard, just from a different perspective. Instead of Jessica going on stage at the strip club and being hauled off by Sed, we have Aggie going on stage and being mentally stripped by Jace.

At least Jace has a bit more self-control. He doesn’t start the barroom brawl. He only finishes it.

But then, control is one of Jace’s issues. And Aggie’s. Because Aggie uses her dancing at the club to find clients for her real business, being dominatrix Madame V. It’s Madame V. that Jace needs. Jace thinks that he needs to be hurt, that he deserves it. He’s long past the point where he’s mixed up pleasure and pain.

Being a domme is Aggie’s business. Helping Jace, finding a way for Jace to work through his real pain, becomes her mission.

Lea: Well put Marlene. Initially at least, I found Aggie challenged to the point of mental derangement because she cannot get Jace to submit to her domination. And, it isn’t for lack of trying, she beats him with every implement imaginable and he asks for more. Maybe it’s my nurturing instincts, but I found Jace’s heartrending emotional pain enticing. I just wanted to hug the poor guy and sooth his tortured soul.

When I first started this book and Aggie was wielding her bullwhip in the club, playing her tough dominatrix role, I nearly dropped my Kindle on the floor, I’m not good at all with brutal sadism. I was glad I persevered and thought Cunning did a good job of making Aggie’s sadistic tendencies palatable to readers by characterizing this tormented man who needed physical pain to lessen the emotional. Aggie gives him what he needs and eventually helps him to work through his insecurities and very low self esteem which was actually quite moving, to a point.

Marlene: Jace needs the release that Aggie gives him to keep the demons at bay. But Aggie sees that sweet, tortured Jace is deserving of all the love, and all the respect, in the world. If only he would ever let himself believe it.


I’ll admit that I had a lot of mixed feelings about this story. Surprisingly not about the BDSM aspects. While they exist, they did not seem to be as huge an element of the plot as the blurb makes you expect.

Jace has confused pleasure and pain because he is hurt on the inside. That’s the part that is really painful. And because he can’t admit to himself that he enjoys the pain. He’s decided he deserves it for reasons that are part of the story. He’s a walled up emotional mess.

He can’t believe he deserves anything good in his life. His need for pain is just part of that. And we do find out why in the story.

Lea: I agree regarding your analysis of what the author was trying to relate to readers regarding Jace and his inner turmoil. He certainly learned to suppress his pain as a defense mechanism. Jace also doesn’t believe he is worthy of love, which was heart breaking.

I too had great difficulty rating this story, I loved Jace to the point of swooning (and I never swoon) but I was also conflicted with regard to Aggie. It wasn’t the pleasure/pain part of their relationship, it was her whole amateur psychologist gig. I just didn’t buy that she would be so insightful and able to heal all of this guy’s horrific emotional wounds. I got there was a great love developing between them, and they both fed each others fetishes but thought was rather unrealistic. While I know, it’s to be expected (it is the Sinners’ modus operandi after all) but there was so much exhibitionism, voyeurism and sexual excess going on, on that tour bus I became desensitized at times. Which brings me to Eric, this guy is the ultimate voyeur, and the scenes with him, Jace and Aggie made my eyes bug.

I did like that once Aggie and Jace were together they stayed together, there was plenty of conflict but it was satisfying to see them work through their mega issues without the ultimate relationship break-up, then getting back together. I felt there was an overabundance of sentimentality with Aggie, she is supposed to be this bad-ass dominatrix but turns over the top mushy with Jace. As well, her meddling bothered me.

Marlene: What we don’t find out, and it does bug me, is why Aggie is so unwilling to commit. We do find out why she became a dominatrix, but I didn’t get enough of why she spends so much of the book completely unwilling to commit. Not just to Jace, but to anyone. It’s a pattern that’s not explored.

She also has a terrible relationship with her mother, who comes off as a stereotypical bad mother. This entire series has a parade of bad parents, and absent parents. Did no one have a good childhood?

Lea: Yep Marlene, there is that. lol Not one of them seems to have any sort of foundation of parental normalcy which is why they are such a bizarre, dysfunctional bunch. There has been a strong sense of loyalty established within the Sinners ‘family’, and it’s good to see how they support each other. I liked seeing more of Sed’s leadership strengths and despite his arrogance, he lends support to his fellow band-mates.

Marlene: Another big issue for me was that the out of order release impacts the story. A chunk of the beginning of this story is Rock Hard re-hashed from Aggie and Jace’s perspective. We know what’s going to happen because we know how that story ended. On top of that, we know how this story ends because Double Time was released out of sequence. We already know about the bus crash and its aftermath because that’s in the past in Double Time. And we know that Aggie and Jace are together in the future.

That’s not the author’s fault, but it makes reading Hot Ticket, well, not as hot as it might have been.

Lea: Again, I agree.

The thing I’ve so enjoyed about this series is the humor, Cunning always makes me hoot with laughter! The Sinners are so irreverent and crazy and you never know what is going to come out of these guys mouths. I am curious to see what will happen with Eric, we met the woman he is matched with in Double Time but it will be interesting to see how Cunning will manage his voyeuristic tendencies and I will give his book tentatively entitled Snared a try when it’s released this fall. I’m wondering if there will be a spin off series featuring the Exodus End band?

Marlene gives Hot Ticket 3 1/2 roped and tied Stars

Lee gives Hot Ticket 3 1/2 Stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.