Review: A Captain and a Corset by Mary Wine

A Captain and a Corset by Mary WineFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Series: Steam Guardians, #2
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Number of pages: 317 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads |Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Publisher’s Website

For Sophia Stevenson, there’s no going back to the life she knew. She never asked for the powers that make her a precious commodity to the secret society of Illuminists—and their archenemies.

Captain Bion Donkova would give anything to possess the powers that have fallen in Sophia’s lap. If only the beautiful, infuriating woman could stay out of trouble, he wouldn’t have to keep coming to her rescue…

Bion and Sophia have friction to spare—and nothing fuels a forbidden passion better than danger…

My Thoughts:

I liked A Captain and a Corset a whole lot better than the first book in the series, A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious (reviewed at Reading Reality). Admittedly, that’s a damn low bar to get over.

The characters in Captain were way more interesting than in Curious. Whatever we might think of all the Victorian rules regarding female behavior, having the heroine be a woman who believed in those rules and had been jerked out of her place against her will made Sophia Stevenson more interesting, especially since one of the rules of the Illuminist society she had perforce become part of at the end of Curious was that she couldn’t contact her father for a year! Unlike the heroine of Curious, Sophia’s father was a genuinely nice man, and a widower who both loved and depended on Sophia. She missed him and felt terrible that he had to think she was dead. Topping off this horrible situation, he lived across the bloody street!!!!

Sophia does obey the rules laid out for her. She may not like or agree with them, but she does participate in what she’s supposed to do (unlike the heroine of Curious). Sophia gets kidnapped by the bad guys from her very own room while under guard.

Again, we do learn more about the evil dudes.  The Helikeians are basically Slytherins, if you’ll pardon the Harry Potter cross-over reference. They believe that only the pure-blooded should be in charge. Everyone else should be ground under their aristocratic boot heels. And they despise the Illuminists because the Illuminists have this terribly egalitarian streak and accept anyone of talent. Of course, that same egalitarian streak is what makes Victorian society in general reject the Illuminists.

Then we have our hero, Bion Donkova. He’s a bit of an enigma, but in a good way. Seemingly the tall, dark and dangerous type, but he’s kind of a lone wolf. What makes him interesting is that we see that he’s raised himself up through the Illuminist ranks by talent and willpower. He definitely started with nothing and has never forgotten it.

Lady Can Never Be Too Curious by Mary WineHe and Sophia strike sparks from each other from the minute they meet in A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious, and the dynamic between them is one that is guaranteed to cause friction. Sophia accidentally received the talent that Bion has waited all of his life for. She absorbed the power of an exploding crystal rootball and has become an airship navigator. Her old life is over, but she can’t go back, her eyes have permanently changed. She may not appreciate what’s happened to her but she’s stuck.

And Bion Donkova has made himself her trainer. Sophia can’t tell whether he’s so hard on her because that’s how much he resents her, or whether he’s just always that mean.

Then she gets kidnapped by sky pirates, and Sophia discovers that Bion didn’t prepare her nearly well enough. But when he gets himself shanghaied in order to rescue her, she realizes what all those sparks between them really meant. And she doesn’t resist any more.

The best thing is that in this story, they rescue each other. Unfortunately it takes them a couple of tries to get it right!

Verdict: If you enjoy steampunk, A Captain and A Corset is much more fun than A Lady Can Never Be Too Curious, and I don’t think you need to read that one first. I kind of hope you don’t.

Sophia and Bion were better rounded characters than the hero and heroine in the first book. In this story, they kept making assumptions about each other, and were constantly surprised by how wrong they both were. They grew towards each other, especially as Sophia let go of her Victorian restrictions.

Bion assumes that because Sophia is a “lady” that she can’t take care of herself. Sophia assumes that because Bion is cold to her that he doesn’t like her, and that he doesn’t have any manners at all. They learn a LOT about each other when they are forced to rely only on each other. And that’s when the romance in this steampunk romance really builds up a head of steam!


I give  A Captain and A Corset by Mary Wine 4 crystal 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: Losing Control by Nina Croft

Losing Control by Nina CroftFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Series: Babysitting a Billionaire, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Aug. 12, 2013
Number of pages: 250 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

Four years after escaping her abusive ex-husband, Kim finally believes she’s in control of her life and her emotions and she’s determined to never risk either again with a man. She has a great home, a job as a security specialist which she loves, and Jake for a best friend. But things are a tad lonely in the sex department, so she decides to embark on a no-strings-affair with one of her hot co-workers. And who better to help her remember how to lure a man than her best friend?

Jake has wanted Kim from the moment he first saw her, but four years ago, she was too young and too damaged. So he kept her close and he kept her safe, offering her a job in his security company and the training to feel safe again, and he bided his time. But now, after the long wait, if she imagines he’s going to stand by while she seduces some other guy… Never going to happen

My Thoughts:

I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. Nina Croft’s Blood Hunter series is awesome science fiction romance. I mean totally awesome, she made vampires and werewolves in space completely work.

But Losing Control is a contemporary, and it didn’t just make my willing suspension of disbelief meter go flying out the window, it’s making me put ranty pants on for this review.

Because the story is about a woman who was nearly suicidal while married to an abusive, control freak man and who has spent the last four years pulling herself together. It is, and it should be, a long and scary journey.

Kim works for a security company because she needed to feel more secure about her own damn self. She’s taken all the self-defense courses, she wants to be an agent. She needed to grab control of her own life.

Four years after the end of her marriage, she’s finally starting to feel like sex might be worth trying again. But none of the guys she works with are interested in her. And her husband was only interested in belittling her and hurting her. She’s starting the think that she’s the problem.

No, the problem is that her best friend, her boss Jake, has told all the guys at the job that she’s off limits. He’s saving her for himself. And since he owns the company, and they all like their paychecks, the guys all paid attention to what the boss said.

Kim has no clue. Of course, she had no clue that her ex was gay, either. At least she had the excuse of being 18 for that. But still. Oh, did I mention that her apartment is subsidized by her job? Meaning her protective boss? The one who won’t let her out into the field as an agent because he can’t stand the thought of her being in danger, not that she isn’t qualified.

Kim’s spent the last four years putting herself in charge of her life, getting new friends, taking new risks. But Jake has been making sure she’s safe, checking up on her friends, not necessarily trusting all of her decisions.

Then when she decides that she’s finally interested in getting intimate with someone, he drops the bombshell that he’s been waiting for her all along, and there’s no way he’ll let anyone else into her life. Yes, he makes it sound more romantic than that, but he does control her life.

He’s been her best friend for four years, he’s her boss and his company subsidizes her rent. The first half of the book, was a lot of him ignoring or riding roughshod over all of her attempts to set any ground rules for their new relationship. He always knew better than any objections she might have.

Kim had a LOT of damage that prevented her from having a healthy relationship with someone. She did need to get over it. Her mother died when she was young, her father was cold and distant. She married an abuser because she was easy prey for someone who pretended to love her. (I didn’t hear any mention of therapy, and did she ever need it!)

None of that gets cured by a quick f*ck, no matter how long the guy has loved her, particularly when there’s no protection involved. And yes, that comes back to haunt in the too easy happy ever after.

The fact that she continued to let him walk all over her boundaries made me decide that she still had way too many doormat tendencies left in her.

And after all the come-here/go-away games the two of them play, we get a very fast, tie-up the loose ends happy ending where Kim decides that because Jake lets her tie him up in bed that he isn’t as big a control freak as she thought so marrying him will be okay after all.

Besides she goes to punch her ex’s lights out and she has a lovely reconciliation with her daddy who says that he loves her and no, her mommy didn’t kill herself so everything is sunshine and lollipops. And she’s pregnant.

Verdict: There are people who are going to love this book. I’m just not one of them. My rant-o-meter wouldn’t come down after the first 150 pages where Jake repeatedly blows past Kim’s boundaries and ignores everything she says. He is controlling her, and he has been controlling her. That he’s been nice about it doesn’t matter.

For this story to have had a chance at working, Kim needed to be truly on her own and discover if she could make it without training wheels. She should have been wondering how much of her recovery was really her own doing. Or at least she would have if she had been as kick-ass as the book’s description made her out to be.

Instead she turned out to be a damsel in distress wearing a heroine’s costume, waiting for her Prince to sweep her off her feet and get her knocked up.


I give  Losing Control by Nina Croft 1 disappointed star.

***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: Die On Your Feet by S.G. Wong

Die On Your Feet by S.G. WongFormat Read:ebook provided by the author
Number of Pages:215 pages
Release Date:May 27, 2013
Publisher:Carina Press
Genre:Paranormal, Noir, Mystery
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s website | Publisher’s website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Crescent City, 1934

In Crescent City, the dead are always close.

At the point of death, people can choose to become Ghosts, tethered to the living. They can remain with their loved ones as invisible companions—or in the case of Crescent City’s ghostly mayor, remain in office forever.

Being a P.I. in Crescent City isn’t easy or glamorous. Luckily Lola Starke has an edge: her Ghost, Aubrey, who can gather valuable clues from other Ghosts in the Ether. When they accept a simple missing-persons case, they’re drawn into a complicated web of lies and double-crosses that involves the most powerful people in the City—including Lola’s own mother, Grace McCall, a famous film star and the mayor’s former lover.

As Lola races to untangle the deceit ensnaring her, she discovers an old enemy at its center carefully orchestrating the perfect moment to betray Lola and destroy Aubrey forever; unless Lola and Aubrey can stop them first.

My Thoughts:

I was never quite sure whether the “Crescent City” setting of Die on your Feet was meant to be merely a paranormal analog for Hollywood in the 1940’s, or whether we’d moved to a completely parallel world or other dimension. I wish the author had been a bit less coy about the setting.

It seemed that Crescent City was more than a noir-type 1940’s Hollywood, but it definitely was that. Lola Starke, our heroine, is a private investigator who carried at “gat” rather than a gun. She also talked as tough as any private dick out of the Sam Spade or Raymond Chandler tradition.

But the difference in S.G. Wong’s Crescent City is that many citizens have their own personal “Ghost” accompanying them. Aubrey haunts Lola day and night. The questions abound. Why does he? Why did she agree to this? What does he get out of it?

Aubrey used to be her mother’s dresser. Not the furniture, a person. There’s the Hollywood touch. Lola’s mother, Grace McCall, is a famous Hollywood actress. Her late father, Butch, was a Crescent City cop. And her mother’s lover was Mayor Matteo Esperanza. Except that now he’s just known as Mayor. Not the Mayor. Just Mayor. He’s the one and only ghost in Crescent City so powerful that he doesn’t need a person to haunt.

Lola starts the story by taking a missing persons case. A man wants to find his best friend. Sounds simple, right? Except his friend is a former heroin addict and the guy who hires her is so obviously lying through his teeth.

Then a former school mate who Lola hated (with good reason, the woman was so obviously one of the mean girls) and clearly vice versa, has Lola kidnapped and forces her to take a case. Forces how? Threatens Lola’s family. Her former school “chum” is now a seedy and greedy public official.

So we go from a lying client to a strong-arming client. And things get even more complicated from there. It has to do with the ghosts. And politics. And ghostly politics!

Did I mention that Lola does NOT have a very good relationship with her mother? Throw family politics into the mix. Definitely. And murder.

Verdict: There were a lot of very cool concepts in this story, but maybe one too many. The ghosts were interesting, but it’s clear at the end that having a ghost is a double-edged sword. They can be friend or jailor.

The history of Crescent City took a definite turn from our own history. Crescent City came to be Chinese-dominated instead of gwai, but the author didn’t explain enough to keep the reader from being confused, or at least this reader. Most of the obvious effects seem to have been in who controlled gambling, the nature of the gaming, and that it was legal. But there was probably a lot more that I just missed.

Lola was a hot mess. She seems to hate and distrust everyone from beginning to end, including her ghost. We don’t know why their relationship is so bad, except that she’s never forgiven her mother for leaving her father. Things don’t get much better during the course of the story, either. Lola solves the mystery in the story, but we don’t learn a lot about her.

The case gets more and more complicated as things go on. Missing persons to bureaucrat-on-the-take to political power play to sorcery. It might have been one turn too many. The villain was obvious from the minute she came onstage. Her motivations seemed a bit out there, even for this alternate world.


I give Die On Your Feet by S.G. Wong 3 smoking 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: Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens

Heart Fortune by Robin D. OwensFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Series: Celta’s Heartmates, #12
Genre: Futuristic Romance, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance
Release Date: Aug. 6, 2013
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Publisher’s Website

Jace Bayrum has always been a loner. Concerned more with getting an adrenaline fix and making money to live on his own, Jace cares little for family ties or matters of the heart. On the other hand Glyssa Licorice, Jace’s former fling and true mate, is both loving and loyal. She is determined to track down her HeartMate and have him claim her.

After hearing that Jace has been involved in an accident, Glyssa sets out to find him, departing for the excavation site of the lost starship Lugh’s Spear. Though her goal is to help Jace and finesse him into recognizing her as his mate, the excavation itself draws her in…

Thrust by fate into working side-by-side, Jace and Glyssa’s electric connection from years before sparks once more. She intrigues him, and Jace begins to realize that a HeartMate can make a difference. And one as magnetic as Glyssa could be exactly what he has been searching for…

My Thoughts:

Three things make Robin D. Owens’ Celta series compulsively readable for me: 1) she’s found a way to make the fated mate trope have romantic tension and make logical sense, 2) the worldbuilding behind Celta is not only multi-layered and totally awesome, but it seems eminently livable, and 3) the fams, the fams, the fams, who rock this particular entry in the series.

The Celta series is a futuristic lost colony series. So they are part of the Pern tradition without the dragon-induced rape. (I’m including that bit for Draconismoi). But what I mean is that the Celtans also escaped Earth because they had a major difference of opinion with the powers that be and decided to go their own way. In the case of Celta, the difference was that all the colonists had some kind of psychic talent.

Why does the fated mate trope work in the Celta series, at least for me? Because even though someone might have a mate, that doesn’t mean things automatically work out. And Owens has done stories in the series where people either don’t have fated mates, or make real relationships after the fated mate relationship fails. In the case of this particular story, the participants come really close to screwing things up.

In other words, just because they know who their partner is supposed to be, it doesn’t mean they are required to accept the partnership. Either or both of them can reject it. The worldbuilding is well-developed here, there are laws in place so that neither one can be forced.

In this story, we see why Jace has some darn good reasons that he doesn’t believe in any kind of love. Not between partners, and not between parents and children. No experience whatsoever.

On the other hand, his prospective mate does believe in love, because she’s grown up as the child of a HeartMate marriage. One of her best friends found her mate after a very rocky courtship, so she knows that the heartache can bring joy.

Jace has never seen love work, but then he’s made sure that he never has to. He’s lived his life on the surface of emotions. His own, and other people’s. He may be the first person in his family to have enough of the psychic power the Celtans call Flair to experience the power passages that make it possible for him to even have a HeartMate, which is pretty damn ironic.

The story takes place at an archaeological expedition, which is pretty cool. The Celtans have never forgotten where they came from, or how they got there. The dig is at the site of Lugh’s Spear, one of the two ships that brought them from Earth to Celta. The site has recently been re-discovered, so there are artifacts to discover and mysteries to solve.

Glyssa, being a librarian (yay!) has come to record the discovery. It’s an excuse to be near Jace again, to hopefully get him to acknowledge their bond. That attempt very nearly backfires, but Glyssa’s work achieves her final degree of advancement in her profession. Go Glyssa!

The structure of the society of Celta has been built up through many layers of stories. It feels solid. Each new person has a place. They know some people that we’ve met before, but also introduce us to new ones. I also find it interesting that for a somewhat fantasy-type society, rank has some mutability. Families rise to GrandLord and GreatLord status based on Flair testing. They can also fall based on that testing.

Heart Mate by Robin D. OwensThen there are the fam animals. Fams are companion animals with enough Flair to communicate telepathically with their people. They can be seemingly any species, and all of them seem to have personality to spare, from Zanth the FamCat in the very first book, HeartMate, to Lepid the young and excitable FamFox and Zem the FamHawkcel in Heart Fortune. Lepid and Zem steal the show in this story. At many points they are more likable, and certainly more clear thinking, than their humans.

Verdict: As with many of the Celta stories, there is both a romance and a mystery going on in this book, although the biggest mystery is either whether Jace will get his head out of his ass or whether Glyssa will stop being a doormat and force him to. She can’t force him to be her HeartMate, but she can certainly stop letting him have his own way on everything. It takes her a long time before she realizes that standing up for herself is the only way forward for both of them.

Of course, they nearly get killed in the other mystery along the way. And I did not catch who that perp was, but then, I wasn’t looking. I was too busy watching the antics of the Fams. Lepid, the very young and very inquisitive FoxFam is probably the cutest character ever, and Zem possibly has the most heart.


I give  Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens 4 feathered stars (for Zem)!

***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: Moonlight by Lisa Kessler

Moonlight by Lisa KesslerFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Series: Moon, #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: July 15, 2013
Number of pages: 265 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Edge
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

Rancher Adam Sloan is more than meets the eye. As the heir to his Pack, the sexy werewolf’s biggest challenge is keeping his kin’s true nature under wraps. But a group of jaguar shifters threatens to reveal the pack, blasting into town killing humans in plain sight. And when he smells one at the local diner, his standing orders are to take her out.

Lana Turpin doesn’t realize she’s a moving target. Raised in the foster system, she only knows that she blacks out during the new moon and wakes up without remembering a thing. But now she’s being tracked by some strange organization that wants her back–even though she’s never stepped foot inside their compound. And the stranger across the diner is watching her like an enemy.

It should be a simple mission for Adam, but when he touches the frustratingly beautiful Lana, his inner wolf howls…mate. Now, the two must find and stop the people who hunt her…and Adam must keep his own family from killing the only woman he will ever love.

My Thoughts:

X FilesThis should have been a total visit to troperville. Fated mates, genetic experiments and military conspiracies. (Did I mention I’m watching the X-Files for the first time?) Parts of Moonlight would make a great X-file.

But Moonlight totally worked for me. The question would be what made it work?

On the one side, we have werewolves. One werewolf in particular, Adam Sloan. He’s not quite the leader of the pack in Reno, but he is the Alpha’s oldest son. Interesting twist on this particular shapeshifting world, all the werewolves are born as twins. Also, only the males are born wolves; mates start human and have to be converted. Of course, to make things more interesting, not all survive.

Yes, we are dealing with the fated mate trope. It works in this particular story because Adam does have to court his mate. He knows she’s the one, but she doesn’t know. For her, he’s just this hot guy she met and plans to leave after some mind-blowing sex.

Lana can’t afford to let herself get close to anyone, she’s running from the men in the white coats. Really. She has blackouts and these scary dudes are chasing her across the country to lock her up in the name of the so-called “Nero Organization”. She has no clue who they are but she knows they mean her no good.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s a jaguar shifter. She really, really doesn’t know. Lana was abandoned as a baby, she has memory of who her parents were. She doesn’t remember what happens when she blacks out every month during the new moon.

Of course, the jaguars are the enemies of the werewolves. They fight like cats and dogs. Figures, doesn’t it?

The jaguars want Lana back. Except Lana doesn’t know that there is a “back”, because she’s never been “there” to go back to. And that’s where the genetic experiment and conspiracy part of the plot comes in.

Along with an interesting side plot of the old “the enemy of my enemy” might be my ally, at least temporarily. Because one of the jaguars is not too happy at being played for a sucker, particularly not by what he thought was his own side.

Verdict: The story hinges on Lana accepting who and what she is. It’s a long and dangerous journey; she starts out not knowing that shifters exist, from there she has to accept that she is one, that she is being hunted because of it. The story is her search for identity, and that search isn’t completely over when the story ends; but she’s accepted herself and what she is even though she doesn’t know the whole story. And can’t yet (see conspiracy angle)

Adam has to accept responsibility, that’s his arc. He has a position but doesn’t take the responsibility at the beginning of the story, by the end he’s shouldered all the burdens. His is also a big transformation.

But because Lana is not a wolf, even though she’s his mate, she doesn’t know and because Adam’s been quite a player, no one else believes him. Especially since the jaguars are enemies. He has to convince everyone that this relationship is real. Including himself.

The military/government conspiracy angle was just plain fun. (Yes, it did remind me of the X-Files, and more than one shifter series, but it was well done in Moonlight, just the right touch of impersonal, bureaucratic evil). Someone is playing with shifter genetics, and they’re not benign. They never are. I think this is going to be the big arc. But if we see Cigarette-Smoking Man I’m going to laugh myself silly.


I give  Moonlight by Lisa Kessler four claw-tipped 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: To the Fifth Power by Shirin Dubbin

To the Fifth Power by Shirin DubbinFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Series: Powers, #1
Genre: Superhero Romance
Release Date: July 29, 2013
Number of pages: 87 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Ever After
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

Three years ago, Zola Noite’s nemesis killed her sidekick and forced her to watch. The guilt drove her to hang up her cape. Zola knows one thing for certain. She will never be a superhero again.

Psychologist Dr. Arturo “Fort” Forte specializes in super-powered mental health. He’s the only reason Zola can once again call herself sane—although, truth be told, the heat between them is slowly driving her back to mad.

When three mega-villains escape the prison Fort oversees, all Zola’s best laid plans go up in flames. Fort asks her for help, and she can’t turn down the man she’s secretly come to love. As battles ensue and clues add up, the one thing Zola trusts is called into question: Fort’s true agenda and which side he’s on.

My Thoughts:

I’m not too sure about the costume, or her pose on the cover, but I really liked the story. Then again, I love a good superhero romance. Actually, I kind of enjoy a good supervillain romance too, but that’s not what this is.

One of the neat things about the worldbuilding in this one is that everyone knows that there are both superheroes and supervillains in the world. Some of the heroes hide their secret identity, and some don’t, but the general populace knows that big evil is out there, and that there are people who protect them.

Batman wouldn’t get arrested for protecting the Gotham City from the Joker in this universe. It would be his choice if he hid behind Bruce Wayne, or not.

Zola Noite, the heroine of this story, is a bit like Batman. Her power as The Watcher is in her ability to assess and strategize. It’s not that she’s not strong, but she out-thinks her opponents long before she comes to fight them.

At least she used to. The story is that she’s an ex-superhero, or she’s trying to be. It seems to be a gig that you can’t really retire from. Three years ago a supervillain named Charlatan forced her to watch as he killed her sidekick. After years of therapy, Zola is still only partially functional.

And she’s fallen in serious lust with her gorgeous psychiatrist, Dr. Forté, otherwise known as Fort.

However cured Zola is, it has to be enough. Three of her enemies have banded together and broken out of the superhero psychiatric institute and are coming after her. They’ve made it their personal, pet, mega-villain project to make her relive every failure in her life, just so they can break her down and take her out.

Even if they have to destroy the city to do it.

Fort needs Zola to get better, because he’s been in love with his patient since the first time they met. But he can’t step over that professional line until she’s out of his care. So he’s hoping that a lot of tough love will put The Watcher back together.

No matter how many rules he had to break to make it happen.

Verdict: Check your logic at the door and hang onto your seat. To the Fifth Power is one hell of a fun ride.

Zola and Fort have sizzling hot chemistry from the very beginning, the BAM! and POW! come from watching them negotiate how they’re going to have a relationship when the power situation starts out unequal, not because she’s a superhero but because he’s her shrink and knows way too much, where he’s been the king of secrets. There’s sexual attraction but not a lot of trust. It takes a chunk of story before they negotiate that minefield, and it should. Then ZOWEE!

The reader can guess how the supervillains got loose, but it took awhile for me to figure out who they were. I’ll admit that it was a cool idea.

I loved the concept of the Society of Superheroes. They were all really tight, and they seemed like the best of friends. An awesome case of the “family you make” as opposed to the “family you’re born to” who in Zola’s backstory sucked major rocks. The S.O.S. were her brothers and sisters.

I also adored her best friend Keiki. The concept that there were “meta-naturals”–people who had an extra something but were not at the level of the supers–helped make things make sense, too.

Read this one for the pure fun of it.


I give  To the Fifth Power by Shirin Dubbin 4 purple stars! (read the story and you’ll understand)

***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: On the Scent by Angela Campbell

On the Scent by Angela CampbellFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: July 25, 2013
Number of pages: 263 pages
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

Hannah Dawson has a big problem: she’s just become the unexpected owner of a snarky cat, a loveable but not-so-bright dog… and their $10 million fortune!

Which would be awesome if it hadn’t made her the target of every wacko in the metro Atlanta area. Now Hannah and her famous pets need protecting and there’s only one man who can help them…

Enter Zachary Collins: ex-TV star of ‘The Psychic Detective’ and street-wise private investigator – all 6 foot blue-eyed gorgeousness!

Only Zach’s got secrets of his own – not least that he finds his new client irresistibly hot. The more time he spends keeping Hannah out of harm’s way, the more he’s tempted to give in to the attraction… even if it means breaking all his own rules.

My Thoughts:

Simon Baker as Patric JaneZachary Collins kept making me think of a dark-haired version of The Mentalist, without quite so much of Patrick Jane’s angsty backstory. This isn’t by any means a bad thing, Simon Baker is a charmingly handsome devil, with equal emphasis on all three parts of that description. Patrick Jane also started out his detective work as a psychic con man with a TV show. The difference is that Jane always knew he was a psychic but didn’t originally work as a detective.

Zach Collins is the other way around; he started as a detective but didn’t believe for a second he was psychic. He just thought he was good at seeing things that other people missed.

Hannah Dawson was not one of the things he missed. He investigated her quite thoroughly when old Ellie Parham hired her as a nurse. He didn’t just investigate, he totally checked her out, and not in any professional way.

But the only action he took on those very non-professional thoughts was to punch her fiance’s lights out when he paid the jackass off three years ago. Paying the moron off was the job Ellie paid him for, after the investigation found out the guy was cheating and was only after Hannah for her steady paycheck.

Ellie made sweet, beautiful Hannah her heir, to the tune of $10 million, in return for taking care of a snarky cat and an adorable doofus of a dog, named after the stars of Ellie’s favorite classic films; Abbott and Costello.

Ellie also left instructions for Hannah to hire Zach’s private investigations firm if she was ever in trouble. When someone tries to kidnap “the boys”, she decides that trouble has come knocking. But once she meets the TV-star handsome investigator she thinks she might be in way over her head.

After all, the only man she’s ever thought she loved (at least so far) left her at the altar with a mountain of expensive wedding bills. She’s not so sure about her judgment where men are concerned.

But the track record for Zach’s security firm is first rate. And Ellie did leave that message. Hannah doesn’t just feel responsible for “the boys”, she loves those two animals and can’t bear the thought that someone might harm them.

So we have a meet-very-cute. Zach knows Hannah, she doesn’t know him. He believes it’s wrong to get involved with her case, but his private investigations company is going broke, and he needs the business. Also, he already knows she’s beautiful and a sweet human being. He likes her and is interested.

But it’s unprofessional for him to get involved with a client, no matter how irresistible she is. Especially one who doesn’t know the whole truth about his previous involvement in her life. Not to mention the added little difficulty that she hires him believing that he is a psychic, and he’s not. Or at least, not at the time.

Then he gets whacked in the head with a baseball bat, and starts hearing voices. One particularly snarky voice wants tuna treats. It’s the cat. (I adore Abbott, he sounds just like one of my cats.)

But Abbott knows things that only someone who lived with Ellie Parham would know. He dispenses clues like, well, treats. And clues are definitely necessary, because there was much more to Ellie Parham than anyone ever suspected. Including her identity.

Verdict: On the Scent is romantic suspense with a light touch that just kept me giggling. Once Zach starts being able to hear Abbott and Costello, it’s hard to stop snickering.

The suspense part of the plot has a bunch of twists and turns. First it looks like someone is out to kidnap “the boys” in order to get the money. Then it turns out that Ellie Parham turns out to be quite the mysterious person, and the real reason for all the skullduggery hinges on her past. I wish we could have met her!

Then there’s the romance. The backstory between Hannah and Zach made for a more interesting than usual misunderstandammit. Both in his choice not to reveal that he was or wasn’t psychic, but also that he had investigated her for Ellie and was partially responsible for the breakup of her engagement. They had more past than Hannah knew about, and the revelations broke a lot of the trust that had started to develop.

I liked Zach and Hannah, and watching them resist their attraction to each other, only to eventually fall, was terrific! And fun. And sometimes very funny. Occasionally steamy followed by laughter (pet owners will understand).


I give  On the Scent by Angela Campbell 4 fur-covered 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.

ARC Review: Love, Technically by Lynne Silver

Love Technically by Lynne SilverFormat Read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Number of Pages: 127 pages
Release Date: July 29, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Billionaire CEO and computer whiz Noah Frellish is a king among geeks. Women are attracted to his money, but he’d love to meet someone who’s actually interested in him. When he helps the sweet and sexy Michelle Kolson with a printing problem, she confuses him for a help desk technician. Noah knows he should clear up this case of mistaken identity, but would she still like him if she knew he was the boss?

Michelle thinks life in Chicago is perfect, as is the whirlwind romance with her smoking-hot coworker. When she unexpectedly finds her job on the chopping block and the man she fell headfirst into bed with running the company, will she abandon her dreams?

Noah must convince the small-town girl to stay in the big city—and that he really is the man she fell for.

My Thoughts:

I picked Love, Technically because it sounded like it was going to be a geek romance. I love geek romances for reasons that are pretty darn obvious to anyone who knows me.

As per usual, I digress.

But Love, Technically isn’t quite a geek romance. It almost read like an anti-geek romance. It also tripped over my willing-suspension-of-disbelief meter.

Explanation follows…

Michelle seems to be a complete patsy at the beginning. She’s working late because she’s totally clueless about what makes sense in the workplace. She’s scanning and printing timesheets in a not merely leading-edge, but downright bleeding-edge software company because her low-level supervisor is a tinpot dictator. She’s also not tech-savvy enough to know that she should check which printer she’s print to. The whole scenario doesn’t add up.

Mark ZuckerbergThen the uber-famous inventor of the company walks in and rescues her printer problem. She doesn’t recognize him and thinks he’s in tech support. This would be like someone working for Facebook not recognizing Mark Zuckerberg back in the early years (pre 2008ish)

In other words, I had a really hard time believing in the meet cute.

I understand Noah’s dilemma. He started the company because he wanted to do really neat things. Lots of programmers get into it because they want to do cool stuff. He still wants to do cool stuff, not corporate crap. He’d rather be “Sark” the geek in tech support that Michelle thinks he is, than play big business shenanigans.

Except when he starts pulling strings so she can get a better job than the one that gets outsourced out from under her. While he still hasn’t exactly confessed that he owns the company or that he’s stage-managing things so that she has a better shot at a new job.

And they do fall in love. Even though there is this huge misunderstanding hanging in the air. He thinks she knows who he is, and she thinks she knows who he is, but of course, they don’t mean the same thing. He never does talk about the details of his work, he thinks because he doesn’t want to emphasize the gap between them, but it seems contrived. If he thought he’d really explained things, it wouldn’t have mattered, would it? But of course, it does. It really, really does.

Verdict: The meet-cute was both too cute and too unrealistic. Michelle should have figured out who Noah was a whole hell of a lot sooner. There would still have been a story, just a different one. Her continuing not to know, when every single person around her did, made her seem like a fool, and she was no fool in any other way. In some ways, she had her head on straighter than Noah, even though he was more outwardly successful.

Michelle walks away when she realizes that she’s been made a fool out of. Her whole story has been to figure out what her real dream is, and she finally figures out that it isn’t an administrative assistant’s job in Chicago. Her dream is to finally go to college. So she starts.

It takes Michelle kicking him to the curb for Noah to realize that the company he’s ended up with isn’t his dream. Programming neat stuff is his dream, so he walks away from the company he created and took public to start something new. But that’s not his only dream. The other part of that dream is building something new with Michelle, if he can get her back. She makes him grovel this time.

The ending worked for me. It was the beginning that didn’t quite.


I give Love, Technically by Lynne Silver 3 micro-chipped 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: Playing the Part by Robin Covington

Playing the Part by Robin CovingtonFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2013
Number of pages: 175 pages
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

The harder they play . . . the harder they fall.

After publicly self-destructing over a heartbreak a year ago, bestselling romance writer Piper James is now making nice with her publisher by agreeing to teach Hollywood’s favorite action star how to act like he’s in love. Only playboy Mick Blackwell has no clue what love looks like.

When a seductive heat ignites between Piper and Mick, she jumps at the chance for a bit of fun between the sheets, but with two stipulations: she’s kept out of the public eye and things end when she returns to New York. Only Mick keeps changing the rules on her. Tempted by America’s favorite bad boy, Piper is wondering how far she’s willing to bend…

My Thoughts:

First of all, this was the third book in a row I read where the heroine wasn’t a tall size two, and I really want to see this trend continue! I want more heroines for the rest of us! More curvy women need to get the hunky guys!

Back to our regularly scheduled review…

Playing the Part was a whole lot of fun. For one thing, we have the Hollywood tinseltown fantasy of an actor who needs the writer to figure out how to play the character from the book. I think I’ve read that they send the author of the book a check and hope never to see them again, so we’re already into fantasyland, but it’s a nice fantasy.

And we have a sex-into-romance story, with a very bad boy of the love-em-and leave-em type, and a woman who is not supposed to get her name into the tabloids again. This last bit sort of tripped my willing-suspension-of-disbelief meter a bit. No one recognizes authors on sight enough to get them in the tabloids.

Although in this particular case she did have a breakup and public meltdown from a scumbag actor just before the wedding. Of course, he cheated. While filming a movie of one of her books. With his co-star and her best friend. Former best friend.

Dragging myself back from digression.

In Playing the Part, star Mick Blackwood is fine in the action scenes of Regan’s Gift, but his acting in the love scenes is terrible. He’s never been in love and has zero experience to draw on. Piper James, the author of the romance novel, is brought in to coach him on the emotional side of the story. The problem is that she hasn’t been in touch with those emotions since she broke up with the scumbag.

Of course they fall for each other. The fun and the amazingly hot love scenes are in watching the way they fall for each other. This book is scorching!

Then it gets to the sweet and gooey center, because the course of true love never does run smooth, especially between two people are aren’t willing to call it what it is. When pictures of their fling get plastered all over those tabloids, Piper loses whatever trust she has, not only in Mick, but also in herself.

Mick has a betrayal to investigate, as well as the depths of the heart he didn’t think he had. Then he has to figure out how to win Piper back–if that’s even possible.

Romancing the StoneVerdict: A story with a romance writer hasn’t been quite this much fun since Romancing the Stone, and that was a long time ago. Although I’ll confess that this one had me when Mick described Piper as a sexy librarian because of her glasses. It may be a stereotype, but it’s still one of my personal favorites!

Mick and Piper have smoking hot chemistry that practically steams off the pages (or electronics). Piper loves bad boys and that’s exactly what Mick is. They start flirting from the second they meet and it never lets up. This is not insta-love, but it is very much instant sexing. She knows she probably shouldn’t, but he’s just too tempting. The love comes after a 10-day vacation in Hawaii.

The one thing I didn’t quite buy was Piper not understanding, or not expecting, that dating a Hollywood star meant a loss of privacy. Not the first time and not the second. She loved the attention when it was positive and was surprised when it turned on her after it went negative, even though she was the one who had the public meltdown. Um, not realistic. While it’s hateful, it doesn’t seem like something you could have both ways. My 2 cents.

But I loved this story and hope there are more in the series. Mick shared a house with a soulful rock musician named Linc who is just begging for an HEA of his own.


I give  Playing the Part by Robin Covington 4 glittering 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: Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford

black dog blues by rhys fordFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Series: Kai Gracen, #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: June 22, 2013
Number of pages: 277 pages
Publisher: Coffee Squirrel Press
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.

There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

My Thoughts:

Black Dog Blues is the first book (I truly hope there are more) in a rather gritty urban fantasy series. Notice I said urban fantasy series? One of the hallmarks of urban fantasy, as opposed to paranormal romance, is that the protagonist of an urban fantasy series generally has a pretty lousy love life.

I’ve always thought that Harry Dresden was the poster boy for urban fantasy, not that Kai Gracen bears ANY resemblance to Harry. But my point is that if anyone is reading Black Dog Blues looking for Kai to get within a continent’s length of a happy ending with anyone of any gender (or species), they’re in the wrong genre. It says so right there on the label.

It’s going to be several books before Kai gets within spitting distance of accepting himself enough to be relationship material for anyone else. I have high hopes for those books.

Also, possibly as a legacy from the TV shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time, there’s been a recent spate of stories portraying the fey (elves, fey, faeries, elfin, a rose by any other name, etc.) as dangerous. Shona Husk’s Outcast Prince (review here) is part of the trend. Black Dog Blues is part of the wave, and oh goodie. The elfin in Bad Dog Blues are immortal, and they have their own agendas. They’re dangerous. Not necessarily evil, although some are, but not automatically good just because they’re elfin. They’re other. As they should be.

The world is futuristic and seems post-apocalyptic. Something happened, some event we don’t know, and “Underhill”, the place of the sidhe and the unsidhe, merged with our world, with very dangerous results. Like dragons mating over the Mojave desert.

Kai is a licensed Stalker. He kills monsters for bounty, among other dangerous things. He’s also an elfin who lives in the mostly human underclass, and that’s where he wants to be. The slow reveal of his backstory is gut-wrenching and incredibly well done.

At first, you think the story of this elfin child being sold over a lost poker game to an old Stalker sounds incredibly cruel. Then you realize that piece of neglect was possibly the best thing that could have happened to Kai.

Now that they’ve found him again, the abuse he suffered as a child picks right back up where it left off. But he’s not a child anymore. Whatever he is.

Verdict: Black Dog Blues is very dark, very gritty, and very well done. The story dives right in to Kai’s world as it is, there’s no history lesson about how things got to be. Kai deals with his life as it is, so the reader does too. It works.

Kai trusts no one, and he’s right not to. Everybody lies, everybody double-deals. On the human side, almost everyone reflexively hates the elfin, but it’s not personal. For him, that’s better than the way his own people treat him.

Being coerced into elfin politics is the last thing he wants, but it’s the job he has to do to keep his license and his living. He knows he’s being set up, but he’s stuck. He endures. Kai is someone who faces into his pain and keeps on going. It’s the only thing he knows.

I didn’t need a love story to make Black Dog Blues work for me. YMMV. I actually didn’t want one because Kai doesn’t like himself enough for him to be a good bet for anyone else. This series is going to be his journey, and it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a ride.


I give  Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford 4 and ½ 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.