Review: Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims

wanted wild thing by jessica simsFormat read: paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Midnight Liaisons, #4
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date Released: August 26, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Ryder is hiding a dark secret from her coworkers at Midnight Liaisons. Every time she’s sexually attracted to a man, her dragon side breaks through. Not exactly man-bait! But she needs to lose her virginity before her twenty-fifth birthday, or she’ll become a dragon forever.

Her solution? Big, hunky Hugh, the appointed guardian of her chastity. He’s clearly hot for her, but he has powerful reasons to resist Ryder. Can temptation—and love—possibly find a way?

My Review:

This is kind of a “fish out of water” story. Actually there are multiple fishies out of multiple waters by the time this story (and the series?) is wrapped. As wild and crazy as the universe of Midnight Liaisons is, it turns out there are plenty of creatures and problems that they still have to discover.

beauty dates the beastBeauty Dates the Beast introduced Midnight Liaisons, a dating agency for supernaturals. It turns out that the things that go bump in the night really do exist, and they have just as much trouble finding someone to bump in the night with as us normals.

The crew at Midnight Liaisons started out as human, while the clientele they serve is anything but. However, by this point in the series, we’ve watched as human Bathsheba became the mate of an alpha were-cougar; her sister Sara is discovered to be a forceably turned werewolf, and assistant Savannah is a werewolf who exposed the dark side of the gender imbalance between males and females in the werewolf and other supernatural populations.

We always guessed that Ryder was something other than human, but Ryder has done an excellent job of concealing her true nature, partly because she isn’t sure of it herself. All she knows is that whatever she turns into is nasty, messy and ugly, and it comes out every time a guy touches her with lustful intent. Which makes Ryder a 24 year old virgin with a huge problem–if she doesn’t lose her virginity by her 25th birthday, she thinks she’ll be stuck as her ugly self forever.

Everything Ryder knows about herself is wrong. The truth is mostly worse.The story is in the path Ryder takes as she fumbles her way into finding a future for herself that she wants, in spite of her “issues”.

Ryder is a changeling, which throws the Fae into this story in a big way. Changelings are bred, like pets, in the Fae realm. But the Fae realm is pretty lethal to anything not Fae, so Changelings are farmed out to human families who are none the wiser that their child has been substituted.

Ryder thinks she’s a human who changes into an ugly gargoyle. In fact, the change is her natural form, and the closer she gets to her 25th birthday, the more beautiful her supposedly ugly (and slightly draconic) form gets. Except she’s too convinced that she’s ugly to see the changes.

The Fae responsible for her origin comes to claim her, and she finally discovers bits of the truth about herself. The Fae is planning to take her back to his realm and breed her like a poodle, but he has to wait until her 25th birthday for her transformation to be complete.

She needs to lose her virginity before that same 25th birthday, or the Fae will take her away. With threats, blackmail or magic, whatever works. Her Fae “master” leaves a guard with her to make sure she stays virgin until the appointed day.

Of course she falls for the bodyguard, and vice-versa. But the Fae are blackmailing him, too, and with a prize that she can’t compete with; but only if the Fae are telling the truth. Do they ever?

Escape Rating B: I enjoyed this story, even though there were more than a few times I wanted to slap Ryder upside the head and tell her to get a clue. And to hit Hugh upside the head with a clue-by-four while she was at it.

Ryder’s human parents died when she was young, so she doesn’t know whether she got whatever she’s got from them or not. She feels she has a horrible ugly secret, and she’s been keeping it completely secret from everyone since her first period.

Because she thinks her secret is so ugly, she spends her life and her very considerable energy in complete denial. Everything she has or does is overly cute to make up for the ugliness she hides.

She’s also a sucker for anyone who will give her a scrap of information, even if it’s mostly a lie. But as a sucker, she’s in good company with her unwilling bodyguard, Hugh.

She thinks he’s a shifter. While she’s correct, he doesn’t shift into any animal that’s been seen in the wild since before the last Ice Age. He and his people have been kept isolated from the rest of the universe(s) by Fae magic, and only brought out to do Fae dirty work.

That he and his people have also been lied to by the Fae is obvious to the reader fairly early on.

Once you get past their belief in the lies, the reaction of Hugh and his people to 21st century life on Earth is often hilarious. His confusion about the way the world works is something that Ryder is able to exploit to the fullest extent.

These are two innocents, wandering lost together trying to find a way forward that eliminates the threat to their independence and happiness. It’s almost surprisingly that they actually manage to find it.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Must Love Fangs by Jessica Sims

Must Love Fangs by Jessica SimsFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Midnight Liaisons, #3
Length: 369 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date Released: August 27, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

From the supernatural dating capital of the world, it’s the Midnight Liaisons Dating Game!

Let’s meet our eligible bachelors . . .

“Cold hands, warm heart” applies to Bachelor #1. He believes that nighttime is the right time. Welcome, Bert the vampire!

Bachelor #2 is an old soul—four hundred years old, to be exact. If you want someone to spend eternity with, choose Andre the vampire!

Dying to snuggle up with a strong, sexy were-cougar? Bachelor #3 is a real cat(ch) who will tail the woman of his dreams until his irresistible charm melts her heart. He’s Joshua Russell!

Who’s our lucky bachelorette?

Professional matchmaker Marie Bellavance has hooked up hundreds of were-things, harpies, faeries, and vamps. Now it’s her turn. This alluring human’s not afraid to break the rules. But when nature takes over, a forbidden romance could be her only chance to live a full, healthy life. If there’s a trick to getting turned, she needs to find it . . . fast.

My Review:

I picked this one up for pure fun. The whole concept of the supernatural dating agency was explored to marvelously snarky effect in Beauty Dates the Beast (reviewed here), and I keep following the series to see where it goes. The second book, Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter was still good, but didn’t quite match the sparkling banter of the first book. While there were story reasons why that happened, I missed the banter.

Midnight Liaisons is a dating agency for supernaturals. Since the shifters and the vamps haven’t come out of the coffin (or whatever) yet, everything about the agency is super secret. It was intended to be staffed by humans, but first the owner gets mated to a were-cougar, and her supposedly human sister turns out to secretly be a werewolf.

Marie-Pierre Bellavance may be human, but she’s a dying human, and no one knows about it. Marie suffers from Fatal Familial Insomnia, which really does exist, no matter how crazy it sounds. The short version is that the sufferer is incapable of sleeping, which eventually leads to panic attacks, hallucinations, dementia and death in just a couple of years. It’s also hereditary, but usually doesn’t strike until middle age, so Marie’s mother didn’t find out that she was a carrier until she herself was struck down, well into Marie’s teens.

Marie’s extreme anxiety seems to be bringing it on early, but Marie has a plan. She works at Midnight Liaisons, and it finally dawns on her that neither vampires nor shifters get diseases. All she has to do is convince one of the supes to turn her, and she’ll be cured.

Unfortunately, there’s a big scandal in the shifter community because some young idiot broke secrecy and turned his girlfriend against her will. Then he fell out of love with her, and she threatened to go to the newspapers. (As I said, he was a young idiot)

Marie starts secretly looking for a vampire. This is a problem. Vampires are secretive and dangerous, and Marie can’t afford to be picky. Even more troubling, Marie’s nemesis, the serial dater Josh Russell, keeps showing up at the agency and trying to get her to go out with him. Or treat him as anything other than an annoying brother. Or simply notice him in a positive way (other than checking out his gorgeous ass).

Josh is clearly panting after Marie for more than just possibly sex. No matter how much the two of them snark at each other, there’s real caring under the surface. So much real caring that when Marie finally confesses the reasons for her vampire pursuit, Josh helps her anyway. Even though the only thing he wants to do with Marie is take her for his mate.

And even though successfully turning her could result in a one-way exile to Greenland–for both of them. Josh has his work cut out for him to convince Marie to trust him; before she dies or is beyond his reach.

Escape Rating B-: This story felt like it had a slow middle. It starts out strong, with the sharp-tongued banter between Josh and Marie, but after Marie’s illness is revealed, it wallows in her increasing symptoms and incredibly desperate attempts to find someone to turn her a bit too long.

It isn’t obvious at the beginning that Josh really has a heart of gold under his playboy exterior. He dates tons of women, but only once. When he starts showing Marie that his playfulness hides a major white knight complex. the reader still ends up wondering about the hordes he’s run through on his way to true love. (I’d seriously doubt him too)

After Josh introduces Marie to just some of the people that he helps, most of them older women who enjoy his bad-boy charm, it’s still not 100% certain whether Josh is falling for her or just feels the need to save her, too. Some vamps are extremely shady characters, even (or especially) with each other. Marie definitely needs saving, or at least a bodyguard once she sets herself out as vampire bait.

In the last quarter of the book, when Josh has to rescue Marie from the inevitable vampire trap she falls into, the action moves fast and furious. Not just because they finally manage to admit that they love each other, but because Marie finally breaks the rules she should have all along, and then they have to deal with the messy fallout.

I see big changes for the shifter community on the horizon. I hope we have more fun along the way.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Sing for the Dead by P J Schnyder

sing for the dead by pj schnyderFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Series: London Undead #2
Length: 95 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: November 4, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Kayden, a lone were-leopard allied with the London werewolf pack to keep the zombie infestation in check, is used to working solo—until he discovers a beautiful fae woman surrounded by the aftermath of battle. He’s immediately drawn to Sorcha, but quickly discovers she’s much more than a pretty face.

Half Bean Sidhe and half berserker, Sorcha trained over centuries to become the perfect warrior. She agrees to work with local weres to investigate a new type of zombie capable of coordinated attacks—and is partnered with Kayden. He’s strong, darkly handsome and completely unafraid of her. And his kiss fills her with insatiable desire instead of bloodlust.

As Kayden and Sorcha work together, their attraction grows and their deepest scars are bared to each other. But with the force behind the deadly new zombies poised to overwhelm the city, Sorcha can only pray that the next time her bloodlust strikes, Kayden isn’t among the fallen…

My Review:

bite me by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is the second book in PJ Schnyder’s London Undead trilogy, and reading it right after I finished Bite Me (see review) was terrific! I feel like I’m getting more answers to how this world got so messed up, wrapped inside a very interesting love story and edge of the seat action/adventure

London is going to hell in a handcart. The zombies roaming the city looking for food and fresh “converts” continue to grow in numbers, but even worse, there seems to be a new breed that is less brainless.

I’m not sure whether smart zombies are scarier than totally mindless zombies, but I wouldn’t want to find out. Organized zombies, run for your life!

We’ve met hero Kayden before; he is a were-leopard who is helping to patrol the post-zombie London with the werewolf pack we met in Bite Me. Leopards and were-leopards don’t normally make packs of their own, but the human part of Kayden understands the value of having people at your back that you can trust; while his were-side appreciates the value of banding together to fight the common enemy.

Even the best warrior in the world has to let down his guard sometimes.

Speaking of warriors, the heroine of Sing for the Dead is something different, Sorcha is half baen-sidhe and half berserker, which makes her all warrior almost all the time. Except when she collapses after her berserker side comes out to play.

Bean-sidhe, or banshees as they are more commonly known, have been considered omens of death. They keen for the recently deceased. But in this mythology, it’s only one part of what they do; they also comfort the injured and ease the soul’s passage to the next life. It’s a healing magic that Sorcha can’t share, because of her berserker side.

(For another take on banshees, or a particular half-banshee, try the terrifically fun Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee.)

Sorcha has come to London to investigate reports of fae deaths at the hands of the zombies. Not that everyone isn’t dying, but the deaths of the immortal fae are particularly ominous, especially when it is discovered that feeding the zombies fae blood makes the damn things intelligent.

Just what this post-apocalypse doesn’t need, smart running dead, instead of stupid walking dead!

But Kayden and Sorcha discover that they need each other; both as warrior allies and to light each other’s way in this very dark world. They both face demons from their pasts, but it takes a long while before they figure out that they are stronger standing together than they each are alone.

Escape Rating B+: It was great to find out more about the world that Schnyder has created; the deeper we get into it the more interesting it is. I hope that we find out how things got started, but the glimpses into the origin of the plague really make the overall story deeper.

Based on events in this story, it doesn’t seem like things have been bad a terribly long time. But the road to hell in the handcart has obviously gone downhill fast. It also seems like there is a wider world outside the London hellzone, and not just among the fae. The idea that there are human idiots coming to “big game hunt” the zombies is all too realistic, but I wonder about the conditions in the part of the world they are coming from.

Sorcha and Kayden’s romance starts out hotter than the romance in Bite Me, and it works. They are both experienced warriors who are used to fighting on their own and don’t expect any sweetness or softness in their lives. So their relationship starts out as sexual release, and moves slowly into love. Neither of them is used to relying on anyone else, and trust takes a while to build. This is a story where insta-lust morphs over time into love, and it’s the right thing for this pair.

survive to dawn by pj schnyderSing for the Dead is an action-packed adventure with a love story about two fighters who fight each other first, and for each other second. If you want to check out the third book in the series, Survive to Dawn, take a look at today’s review at The Book Pushers.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Chenoire by Susannah Sandlin + Giveaway

chenoire by susannah sandlinFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal
Length: 48 pages
Publisher: StoryFront
Date Released: December 18, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

When Faith Garrity’s twin sister died, she lost a part of herself. Unable to move past the pain, the once-driven ornithologist is at risk of losing her career as well. To save her job, she heads to the oil-ravaged wetlands of Louisiana. There, in the bayou community of Chenoire, she encounters the handsome but guarded Zackary Préjean, still suffering from a great loss of his own.

She’s drawn to Zack, but soon finds that the Préjean family isn’t what it seems… They have dangerous secrets—and deadly enemies. Caught up in a feud that threatens the area’s uneasy truce, Faith and Zack must learn to trust each other. Survival will require enormous sacrifice, but it just might also give them both a way to move on.

My Review:

Susannah Sandlin, whether she is writing as Sandlin or as Suzanne Johnson, always does a fantastic job of painting extremely clear pictures in her readers’ minds of both New Orleans and the less familiar but much creepier Louisiana bayou country.

Chenoire also brings us back to the devastation caused by the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill , and the reminder that the damage was not just confined to shores frequented by tourists. The spill continued for months, and the effects are still being felt in coastal wetlands today.

It’s the aftermath of the disaster that sets up this story. Faith Garrity is an ornithologist who plans to study the effects of “storm-shock” on the avian population of the bayou. She believes that the oil invading the birds’ habitats changed their coloring.

Well, Faith has sort of a plan. What she really has is a concept that she hopes will get her academic career back on track, and a lot of desperation. She shows up during “gator season”, and can’t get a boat or a guide to take her where she needs to go.

She’s desperate because she lost her twin sister to an auto accident, and hasn’t managed to recover from her own personal disaster.

Faith gets sent where she needs to go, to make a bond with someone else who is alone. In the middle of absolutely nowhere, there’s supposed to be someone who might rent her a boat. Faith is sent to Chenoire, a very small town with a very big secret.

In Chenoire Faith finds herself in the middle of the Préjean family, and the dynamics between grown-up sons who can’t get over their father’s remarriage, and the woman who gave up her city life to marry into a place she can never be part of and where she’s resented at every turn.

All the Préjean sons are twins, except for Zack. Faith lost her twin. They have a common place from which to start at least a friendship, maybe more. Until Faith is caught in the middle of the Préjean family feud, and Faith learns way more than she bargained for; about Zack, about Chenoire, and about herself.

Escape Rating B: Chenoire is a short story, and I wish it were longer. I adore everything Susannah/Suzanne writes, but the tale hints at a deep backstory that I’d love to have seen.

Admittedly, I always want more backstory.

It isn’t difficult to guess the nature of the secret of Chenoire. Figuring out that the Préjean family, and their enemies, are all shapeshifters, is not hard. The story is in Faith realizing that it’s not just okay for her to be alive, but that it’s okay to be happy to be alive after losing her twin, combined with Zack figuring out that having at least a civil relationship with his stepmother does not mean that he doesn’t still mourn his mother’s loss.

We see the beginning of Faith’s relationship with Zack. This isn’t a romance, and what they have isn’t insta-love. Thank goodness. They have a connection and the beginnings of both friendship and trust, which is a fine start for any relationship. We see the start of their healing, but not the end. We leave the story with hope that they get there.

Chenoire reminds me a lot of the author’s other recent backcountry story, Christmas in Dogtown. The story isn’t quite the same, but the settings are similar; both Chenoire and Dogtown are lost towns with deep roots in the misty past of legend. They both contain legends that still live in the present, but must be kept secret. And they both conclude with that hope of a happy ending, combined with the sense that there are still magical places in the world.

Chenoire Button 300 x 225


Susannah is giving away the following prizes:

1 $25 Amazon gift card
2 $10 Amazon gift cards
2 Author swag packs- open to US Shipping (books, swag)

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***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Hunter’s Moon by Lisa Kessler + Giveaway

hunters moon by lisa kesslerFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Moon #2
Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Entangled Edge
Date Released: October 21, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Sasha’s future was stolen from her the moment she was bitten. Now she’s on the run from the Nero Organization that transformed her from a human detective into a shape shifting jaguar assassin.

When a rogue bounty hunter threatens her younger sister, she’ll be forced to fight, and with nowhere else to turn, Sasha will need to trust the one man who has every reason to want her dead.

Aren is a werewolf with a secret. While protecting his twin brother and Alpha of the Pack, he found his one mate for life. Sadly she’s also the jaguar assassin who tried to kill them both. Now Aren is struggling between his animal nature to love and protect her, and his loyalty to the Pack.

My Review:

moonlight by lisa kesslerHunter’s Moon is a more than worthy successor to the first book in Kessler’s Moon series, Moonlight (reviewed at Book Lovers Inc.). In fact, any author who is thinking about using the fated-mate trope should check out this series for an example of using that otherwise tired trope in a way that is definitely NOT a short cut to romance and is still filled with both loads of romantic and suspenseful tension.

The story of Hunter’s Moon picks up a few months after Moonlight, and is a bit dependent on some knowledge of the previous story. It took me a bit to remember “where we left our heroes” but I think there was more depth to the family relationships in the story because I did remember. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

In Moonlight, Sasha tried to kill Adam and Aren and capture Lana in order to get the mysterious Nero Organization to give her a cure for the unfortunate case of jaguar shifter that she had been infected with.

Several problems in that scenario. First, there ain’t no cure. Second, Nero is so damn evil, they wouldn’t give it to her if there was. And third and fourth, well, third and fourth turn out to be the point of the story in Hunter’s Moon.

In the big brawl that ended Moonlight, Sasha head-butted Aren. While this does not sound like the beginnings of even a beautiful friendship, it was skin-on-skin contact, even if it did make Aren see stars. It was enough for wolf-shifter Aren to recognize Sasha as his mate.

Yes, we have fated mate trope again. Aren-the-person doesn’t even have to start out liking the person his wolf wants. He’s still stuck. And for life, at that.

But Sasha doesn’t know, doesn’t care, and even when informed (much, much later), doesn’t have to acknowledge that such a thing exists. She’s a jaguar shifter, and jaguars do NOT mate for life. This is his problem, not her problem.

Aren not only has to win her over in some version of the old-fashioned way, he has to do it in spite of the fact that they have really bad history together, and that his entire Pack has really bad history with her.

In Moonlight, this problem existed but it was impersonal. Wolves didn’t like jaguars in general, not necessarily Lana in particular. With Sasha, it’s very personal. She really did bad acts against the Pack.

Sasha can’t figure out how or why Aren is able to put it behind him. She’s certain that the rest of the Pack never will. But she needs their help, because the Nero Organization has sent a rogue werewolf to hunt her down and kill her.

And he’s planning to use her little sister as bait. Or a snack.

Escape Rating B+: The story in Hunter’s Moon is a bit darker than the one in Moonlight. The stakes seem higher and the dastardly plots seem that much more nefarious, even though the Nero Organization is less obvious in this story than they were in the first book.

There’s an awful lot of sub-plot in this one about family, and family has a way of twisting people up more than almost anything else. The pack is “family you make” and they are a tight knit bunch. Adding Lana and Sasha into the mix, along with the strain of the constant attacks because of them, creates a lot of stress that some members are handling less well than others. There are lots of explosions waiting to happen.

Adam and Aren’s long-lost uncle shows up, and turns out to be working for the other side. Well, one of the other sides. Maybe.

But the whole thing hinges on Adam’s need to protect his wife and children, set against Aren’s desire to protect the woman who is the only chance he’ll ever have at a wife. While Sasha believes that the only way that she can protect herself and her sister is to never depend on anyone but herself.

There’s even more major tension in this story related to family, including revelations about the Nero Organization.

One of the things about evil organizations that never ceases to amaze me, they always go the supersoldier route, and it never ends well. Not for the soldiers and not for the organization, but they keep making the same mistake.

But the different ways they screw it up are what make books about them so compelling.

[photo of Lisa Kessler]Lisa Kessler is an award winning author of dark paranormal fiction. Her debut novel, Night Walker, won a San Diego Book Award for Best Published Fantasy-Sci-fi-Horror as well as the Romance Through the Ages Award for Best Paranormal and Best First Book.Her short stories have been published in print anthologies and magazines, and her vampire story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award.When she’s not writing, Lisa is a professional vocalist, performing with the San Diego Opera as well as other musical theater companies in San Diego.

To learn more about Lisa, look for her at

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***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Stacking the Shelves (53)

Stacking the Shelves

I have a short stack this week (ooh, yum, sounds like pancakes!) but there’s one book on here that I couldn’t resist pre-ordering. Can you guess what it is?

Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens new cover
New Cover
Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens original cover
Original cheesy cover

It’s Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens. There’s something about her Celta series that just pulls me in, every time. Well, not quite every time. I don’t think that the first book in the series, Heart Mate, actually grabbed me the first time I read it. And the original cover was pretty cheesy. But I picked it up a second time, and discovered the recommenders were right. If you love futuristic romance, Celta is a world worth visiting. Especially if you like telepathic animal companions. I want a fam companion animal of my own. I bet you will too.

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality August 3 2013

For Review:
The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Covet by Tracy Garvis-Graves
Die On Your Feet by S.G. Wong
Medium Rare (Ramos Family #2) by Meg Benjamin
Moonlight (Moon #1) by Lisa Kessler

Carved in Stone (Art of Love #1) by Donna McDonald
Heart Fortune (Celta’s Heartmates #12) by Robin D. Owens
Rise (Lantern City #1) by Matthew James Daley

Borrowed from the Library:
Crystal Gardens (Ladies of Lantern Street #1) by Amanda Quick

Review: Troll-y Yours by Sheri Fredricks

Troll-y Yours by Sheri FredricksFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Paranormal romance, Fantasy romance
Series: The Centaurs, #2
Length: 266 pages
Publisher: Temple Publishing
Date Released: May 17, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble


Determined to forge a better life, Ella launches her new business with high hopes—until a sexy Centaur bumps into her and throws her life off course forever. Voted “Most Eligible Bachelor in Boronda”, Aleksander shakes up her world and tilts her in more ways than one.


Years of warfare and countless bedroom encounters have stolen Kempor Aleksander’s luster for life. He never expects to rediscover his zeal in the small, redheaded form of Ella the Troll, who fires his blood hotter than the deepest caverns in the forest.


But as trouble lingers in their midst—and edges ever closer—Alek and Ella spiral into troubled terrain. Turning to each other, the pair face down dangers that run impenetrably deep in their mythological world. But will the two lovers discover a passion that runs even deeper?

My Review:

remedy maker goodreadsTroll-y Yours is the second book in Sheri Fredricks’ Centaurs series. The first book is Remedy Maker (reviewed here) In order to understand what is going on in Troll-y Yours it helps a lot to have read Remedy Maker. A whole lot.

The idea that that there are mythical creatures living in the Boronda Forest in Pennsylvania, mostly hidden from us humans, is kind of cool. Some of the humans that have found the mythics hunt them for big bucks, and I don’t mean antlers. The hunters tend to be asshats, mercenaries, sadists, or all of the above.

Not the point of this story, although the hint dropped at the end leads me to believe that the author might get there.

Like Remedy Maker, this is an interspecies romance. It’s also a romance between two people who are at different levels in the social/species pecking order and between a male who most people would think is gorgeous and a woman most people would think is less so. Of course, he thinks she’s beautiful. Ella really is a troll, but that’s her actual species. Only her abusive parents keep telling her that it also reflects her appearance.

Trolls are considered one of the lowest species in the Boronda social order. Centaurs are the highest species, and the queen is a centaur. So are many of the members of her guards, including Kempor Aleksander, the head of the guards.

Ella has picked up an idea from the humans. We do have a few good ones. She’s started a speed dating service, Troll-y Yours, for mythics with busy lives to find mates. She wants to earn enough money to move out of her parents’ house. Which is under a rock. They are trolls, after all!

At the first speed dating session, she mistakes Alek for one of her clients. He thinks she’s about the cutest thing he’s ever seen. Because she thinks he’s gorgeous, she mouths off. Then she’s attacked and he comes to the rescue, after her brother spectacularly fails to help her, which is one of the stories of her life.

While Alek and Ella find themselves drawing closer together, Alek still has a job to do. The rebels are still attacking the kingdom, and the queen he is sworn to protect. What it nearly takes him forever to realize is that protecting Ella has become the most important thing in his entire world.

Escape Rating C+: Troll-y Yours just wasn’t as much fun as Remedy Maker, in spite of Remedy Maker dealing with a number of more serious themes along with the romance. For this reader, the sub-plot of the rebel alliance against the kingdom just wasn’t explained enough to make whatever was going on make sense. It’s too important for the long story arc to be that confusing, especially since a major plot point with Ella’s brother hinges on it.

Too much is left unexplained on the personal side as well. Alek starts out the story as a total man-whore. He seems to regard having lots of sex as his duty to the females of his species. Ella has serious self-esteem issues as a result of a lifetime of parental verbal abuse. While it’s great that they find each other, I’m not totally sold on the relationship based on the story.

The mythic world that they live in begs to be explored a whole lot 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.

Stacking the Shelves (52)

Stacking the Shelves

It’s summer. It’s kind of hot out, even here in temperate Seattle, to the point where we’re debating between more fans and just breaking down and getting an air conditioner for the bedroom.

But I’m seeing (and getting) not just winter review books from NetGalley and Edelweiss, but books for next Spring! The Revenant of Thraxton Hall has a publication date of March, 2014. I’ll admit to being puzzled. If it’s complete enough for even an eARC, why wait nearly 8 months to publish?

Sometimes, ours is really not to reason why. Just to read and review.

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality July 27 2013

For Review:
Blind Justice (William Monk #19) by Anne Perry
The Boleyn Deceit (Boleyn Trilogy #2) by Laura Andersen
Choose Your Shot (Long Shots #5) by Christine D’Abo
Dangerous Seduction (Nemesis Unlimited #2) by Zoë Archer
Deadshifted (Edie Spence #4) by Cassie Alexander
Dreams of the Golden Age (Golden Age #2) by Carrie Vaughn
Getting Rowdy (Love Undercover #3) by Lori Foster
Heaven and Hellsbane (Hellsbane #2) by Paige Cuccaro
I Only Have Eyes for You (Sullivans #4) by Bela Andre
Lord of Snow and Ice by Heather Massey
Never Deal with Dragons (DRACIM #1) by Lorenda Christensen
The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle
Shadow’s Curse (Imnada Brotherhood #2) by Alexa Egan
Soul of Fire (Portals #2) by Laura Anne Gilman

Checked Out from the Library:
Baskerville by John O’Connell

Stacking the Shelves (37)

Stacking the ShelvesI don’t say this nearly often enough, but Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share the books that you are adding to your shelves, whether that add is physical or virtual.

This seems to have been a week when I added way too many of both types! Every book I picked or got sent seemed to be part of a series. So, instead of “just saying no”, I borrowed the earlier (or later) books in the series from the library. Working in a library seems to make me even more susceptible to the siren song of “read me, read me”.

At least I didn’t compound the problem further by buying some, too. (That’ll probably be next week’s sin)

Reading Reality stacking the shelves March 9 2013

For Review: (all ebooks)
Bone Quill (Hollow Earth #2) by John and Carole E. Barrowman
Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings #1) by Lindsey Piper
Dark Wolf (Spirit Wild #1) by Kate Douglas
Death Takes a Holiday (F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation #3) by Jennifer Harlow
Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, Volume 1 by David Gaider and others
I Kissed a Dog (Werewolves of the West #1) by Carol Van Atta
Lucky Like Us (Hunted #2) by Jennifer Ryan
Mindlink by Kat Cantrell
Saved by the Rancher (Hunted #1) by Jennifer Ryan
A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
Stealing Home (Diamonds and Dugouts #1) by Jennifer Seasons
Wool by Hugh Howey

Borrowed from the Library: (all print)
Enchanting the Beast (Relics of Merlin #3) by Kathryne Kennedy
Immortally Embraced (Monster M*A*S*H #2) by Angie Fox
Mind Over Monsters (F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation #1) by Jennifer Harlow
Quincannon (John Quincannon #1) by Bill Pronzini
Quincannon’s Game (John Quincannon #3) by Bill Pronzini
To Catch a Vampire (F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation #2) by Jennifer Harlow

Guest Review: Naked Tails by Eden Winters

NakedTailsFormats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: Shapeshifters
Length: 234 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date Released: December 17, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, All Romance eBooks, Kobo

Seth McDaniel wasn’t raised among a shifter passel and has no idea what it’s like to turn furry once a month. An orphan, torn from his father’s family at an early age, he scarcely remembers Great-aunt Irene. Now her passing brings him back to Possum Kingdom, Georgia, to take up a legacy he doesn’t understand and reconnect with a friend he’s never forgotten.

As Irene’s second-in-command, Dustin Livingston has two choices: assume control of the passel or select another replacement. Unfortunately, the other candidates are either heartless or clueless. Dustin’s best hope to dodge the responsibility is to deliver a crash course in leadership to his childhood pal Seth, a man he hasn’t seen in twenty years. However, while Dustin’s mind is set on his task, his heart is set on his old friend.

Seth’s quest for answers yields more questions instead. What’s with the tiny gray hairs littering his aunt’s house? Why do the townsfolk call each other “Jack” and “Jill”? Do Dustin’s attentions come with ulterior motives? And why is Seth suddenly craving crickets?

Guest Review by Cryselle

That smarty-pants possum on the cover tells you right away that this is no ordinary shapeshifter story. No wolves, no big cats, and most importantly for me, no insta-luv based on “finding your one true mate.” These fellas have to work to find their HEA.

And Seth has to work to find his spine. He’s the heir apparent to a band of shapeshifters he has no clue about, and he’s ill-equipped for the task. People run roughshod over him, and it isn’t until he returns to Possum Kingdom, Georgia to discover all he missed in the way of family, friends, and moonlit nights that he starts to stand up for himself.

Seth’s torn between his grandmother, who seems to care about appearances more than Seth’s well-being (although she does raise a small boy by herself when it’s pretty clear this is a major imposition) and his Aunt Irene, who has to balance Seth’s well-being against her passel’s when she decides how hard to fight for a child who’s not in danger of anything worse than living in a city. There are no easy choices, and while the grandmother is not precisely three dimensional, she’s certainly not evil or cruel as much as terrified that the passel will cost her another family member. Irene is a much more loving figure, but she’s cut off from Seth when he’s eight years old.

So twenty years later, when Seth can decide what he wants without his grandmother’s opinions coming first, he’s got to cope with a town of strangers who are all behaving rather peculiarly and his best friend from way back when, who’s never stopped missing him. Dustin’s grown up to be the town doctor and Irene’s second in command become temporary leader, a position he doesn’t want. He can either step up to the pump or find a suitable replacement, and hope he survives the experience either way.

The story spends a lot of time with the possums in their animal form, which is often quite humorous, occasionally dangerous, and sometimes political, and always told in a way that moves the story forward. Seth also needs to learn to be part of the passel, a role he’s thrust into rather more firmly than Dustin could have imagined. Seth hasn’t been shapeshifting all along, but finds he enjoys it once it’s inevitable. “I am the Crickinator!” he exults after a chirpy snack.

In two-leg form, Seth grows hugely as a person, blossoming with the responsibilities that are thrust upon him, but Dustin’s not sure this will be enough to make him a leader. These qualities do lurk within him as dormant as his shapeshifting, but with a little coaching on method, he seems to have a talent for it. Between Dustin and Monica, Dustin’s current second in command, Seth will get whupped into shape one way or another.

The secondary characters are drawn vividly: Monica, Irene, and even the hapless Tiffany have clear personalities. The grandmother’s characterization is heavily tinted by being seen as the adult tyrant through children’s eyes, and it probably isn’t possible for her to be portrayed sympathetically after taking everything important away from young children, no matter what her reasoning. Monica is formidable and not easily won over—she’s a hoot, and I don’t ever want her plotting against me. Seth finds her advice valuable precisely because she doesn’t like him.

The relationship between Seth and Dustin is hugely complicated by the leadership issues, doubts about each other’s motives and sincerity, and the occasional foot planted firmly in mouth. It moves in fits and starts around these other issues. It’s never as simple as “childhood buddies destined to be lovers.” Dustin had to part with his long term lover over shifter politics, which he still regrets, and Seth has an ex who can mess with his mind. Both Seth and Dustin have to learn to see each other as men as much as long ago pals, long term disappointments, and solutions to a problem. No fated-mate handwaving here: it’s a real relationship that has to be built in the current day.

This story is charming for its characters, offbeat shifters, and the author’s clear understanding of small Southern towns, which all come together into a well-balanced read. A couple secondary characters deliver their messages with a slightly heavy hand and a running gag got one repeat past the funny, but that doesn’t keep this story from being a lovely afternoon’s entertainment.

Escape rating: A-

Cryselle can regularly be found blogging and reviewing at Cryselle’s Bookshelf.

***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.