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review 2017-12-14 02:20
ARC Review: Hooch & Cake by Heidi Cullinan
Hooch and Cake (Special Delivery) - Heidi Cullinan

I read this once before, a long while back, shortly after I read Special Delivery and Double Blind, because Mitch & Sam finally get their wedding in this novella. 

There's some angst, because at the time when this story takes place, Iowa had marriage equality but lots of people in Sam's home town are still not on board with two men getting married and Mitch's heart breaks when he sees Sam get less and less enthusiastic about their wedding, and there's a lot of really kinky sex, which is ever so deliciously filthy, because Mitch still likes to watch, and Sam still likes the shame of being so very slutty for Mitch. 

And there's Randy, possibly the best friend anyone could ever have, because despite his smooth and snarky exterior, Randy has a heart of gold and would do anything for his friends, and he needs Mitch and Sam more than they could ever know.

Or do they? 

I adored this. It's full of Heidi's special kind of magic, because no matter how kinky the fucking gets, it is always, ALWAYS clear that the emotions between these men are strong enough to withstand anything and everything. 


** I received a free copy of this book for review as part of the re-release for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-12-14 02:01
Book Review: Barbed Wire Cowboy by Renee Stevens
Barbed Wire Cowboy - Renee Stevens

Barbed Wire Cowboy is at once a gritty tale of living and working on a cattle ranch and a love story between two men who suck at communicating honestly and openly.

After coming out to his rancher father, Marc Poulson found himself kicked out, stripped of his family and alone, but in the years since found a place as foreman of the Double R Ranch. If it weren't for his feud with his ex-friend Casey, foreman at the neighboring Del Rio Ranch, life would be nearly perfect. 

Marc doesn't understand why Casey would rather punch him than continue to be his friend - the reason for this change in status is not immediately clear to the reader, as neither Marc nor Casey provide any insight - but their continued fighting has now landed both of them in a jail cell.

Bailed out by their respective bosses, Marc and Casey are given an ultimatum - shape up or ship out. And learn to work together again. 

Marc is happy to call a truce between them, but Casey isn't on board. When Marc saves Casey's ass from a rampant bull, the event proves to be somewhat of a turning point. 

Except Casey continues to blow hot and cold, and refuses to tell Marc what demons are still haunting him. He makes mistake after mistake, driven by the terror of his past, until Marc has enough, and when provided with an unforeseen option, Marc is done with Casey's bullshit and leaves.

The author really brought the grittiness, long hours and hard work of the cattle ranches across, and the huge amount of physical labor that's involved. She also did a fine job with the characters - they are complex and complicated, and rough around the edges, like you'd expect cowboys to be - but also gave them individual pasts that continue to shape their actions and derail what might be. Neither knows how to really talk about their feelings, and Casey hiding a huge secret from his past that he refuses to address and would rather forget has a lot to do with his behavior - their actions and reactions made sense to me. 

This is a rollercoaster ride as Marc and Casey go from enemies to lovers to heartbreak, full of anger and fear and hiding, with an overriding sense that love may not always be enough to keep a couple together unless they're willing to confront their differences and their pasts head-on to have a future.

Whether Casey and Marc overcome the odds - well, find out by reading this for yourself. 


** I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-12-14 01:13
Book Review: A Viking For Yule by Jamie Fessenden
A Viking for Yule - Jamie Fessenden

As the blurb will tell you, this book is sort of a continuation of A Cop For Christmas, but focuses on Sam. It can be read as a standalone - I had no issues not having read the first one. The author did a fine job weaving in the important background information as to why Sam is terrified of snowstorms.

Sam still lives with his grandfather on their farm, but has taken a trip around the world with Aunt Jackie (I want one just like her, please), and their last stop is Iceland, where Jackie's good friend lives with her son, Arnar. Iceland. In the winter, a week before Christmas. Iceland. Apparently, Aunt Jackie didn't get the memo about Sam panicking in snow storms. 

Sam is looking forward to getting back home - he misses his Grampy, and he's worried, though he knows Mason and Steve are taking good care of him.

Arnar, who's about Sam's age, is initially not impressed upon meeting Sam, though attraction for them both is pretty much instant. But Arnar just got out of a relationship, he's still nursing a bit of a broken heart, and who would want to get involved with a tourist who's going to leave in a few short days, amirite?

So, Arnar is a bit grumpy and standoffish. 

I loved how descriptive the author was when talking about the scenery and the historical sites in Iceland as Sam and Arnar, thrown together by Aunt Jackie's scheming, make their way around the island. Vivid and rich descriptions of lava fields covered in snow, the rugged landscape - I felt as if I was right there with Sam and Arnar. We also get a bit of a culture lesson, which really made the people on this island come to life for me. 

This is a sweet, easy read, with just a bit of relationship angst - what with Sam going home to New Hampshire, and Arnar presumably staying in Iceland - so they both realize, reluctantly, that what they'll have will be nothing more than a holiday fling. Even if the emotions they both have for the other could and might have become so much more. Their occasional squabbles were relatable, and the two men felt real to me. I thought that the author did a really fine job developing both characters and give them distinct personalities with some obvious and some not so obvious traits. Arnar is not a morning person, not by a long shot, but Sam quickly figured out how to work that, and Arnar caught on how to anticipate and work around Sam's fear of snow storms. 

Hot-tubbing, hair-braiding, mud baths, sharing a double bed, language barriers, and ignorant tourists all play a role in their adventures. 

I would definitely recommend this book, even if you, like me, haven't read the first one. We get a big surprise at the end, and a lovely epilogue that leaves them both in a really good place. 


** I was given a free copy of this book by its author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-12-14 00:08
Awoke (The Want #1) by K. T. Conte
Awoke: The Want Series (Book 1) - K T Co... Awoke: The Want Series (Book 1) - K T Conte

Katya has spent a long time struggling with her visions and ability to see things others cannot - but she has managed to carve out a normal life and put that behind her. It’s not perfect, her boyfriend is certainly far from it - but it is a life with normal problems.

 

In as much as anyone has normal problems in a world which seems ever more pressured, with growing earthquakes and horrors.


Until she meets Gregor, Kyrios, supernatural agent charged with making sure the dead cross over - and the monsters that haunt her and prey on humanity are dispatched. Those monsters are becoming ever bolder and more dangerous - and Katya with her unique ability and power may be the key to saving the world

 

We have an intriguing world setting here - one that takes the concept of demons and does something quite original with it. The Want, these beings driven to feed on human life energy and doing whatever they can to increase the number of vulnerable dead people to feast on. It all establishes a very frightening and overtly awful antagonist with enough variations to make for a varied enemy while not overloading the plot.

 

But the origin of the Want works well - without spoiling because it would be a shame, it adds a level of complexity and even tragedy beyond the atrocities they inflict. And this is further complicated by the Kyrios’s role: both as shepherds and warriors and how they actually come to be created.

 

I like that - I like how we’ve balanced a relatively simplistic thread of an antagonist but then included enough complexities to prevent a simple good & evil reading of the world. Which works well with Katya’s own growth because, as an outsider to this she does arrive with a narrow viewpoint which in turn makes it difficult to fully integrate her with the Kyrios

 

I also like that this, the first book, has been smart enough to include some more hooks to the world building - specifically nodding towards angels - while resisting the temptation to stuff all the things into the first book

 

Other than the romance, which I’ll get to, I generally like the plot - it moves well but does have a pacing issue in the middle. We’re told about the terribad awful things the Want are doing in the living world and how essential Katya’s help would be but she doesn’t seem to be spending a huge amount of time training or, well, doing anything about it.

 

 

 

 

I do like Katya’s working with the Kyrios - there are times when I thought we were going to see some signs of Keillie Independence and Spunky Agency. But Katya doesn’t run off on her own or decide to ignore the input of others. When she acts emotionally and angrily towards the Kyrios hierarchy it fits: it’s not necessarily how I’d act, but I can see her firmly drawing her lines. She isn’t a member, she isn’t a servant, she’ll be polite but expects the same back, it works really well

 

On top of this interesting story and world we then decide that our ancient immortal warrior will fall in love with our teenaged, high-school attending protagonist

 

 

Read More

 

 

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/12/awoke-want-1-by-k-t-conte.html
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review 2017-12-14 00:06
Spirit Witch (The Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic #3) by Helen Harper
Spirit Witch (The Lazy Girl's Guide To M... Spirit Witch (The Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic Book 3) - Helen Harper

After her brush with Necromancy in Scotland Ivy has been suffering some side effects - she’s not sure of the full implications, but it seems she can see ghosts

 

Ghosts are noisy and annoying and don’t respect a woman’s wish to bond with her duvet on her sofa all day

 

Some of these ghosts are not exactly thrilled to have the less-than-motivated Ivy as the one woman who can see them, but you work with what you can since she may be the key to freeing them from their purgatory - and with a serial killer on the loose targetting witches, their ghostly insight can certainly help the Order investigation.

 

This book ended and apparently this amazing series is a trilogy which means thi is the last book. No-one consulted me on this. I did not agree to this. I do not approve. This is my disapproving face.

 

But as it has ended, one thing I really liked is that Ivy is still very recognisable as the character who started this series. She’s still the Slouch Witch. She’s still lazy. She still avoids effort.

 

I’m not saying I’m against character growth or that Ivy hasn’t grown or changed. She has changed and she has grown, she has got involved. She will whine but she will get out there and help when she has to. She would just rather not do it first thing in the morning. Her talent and skill are clear as well as well as her moral compass and even willingness to sacrifice. But so many books would have taken Ivy, had her had a revelation, maybe a training montage and then have her spending late nights reading books or getting up at dawn to go to the gym. Her heroics haven’t turned her into a new person. Even her new powers haven’t driven her to embrace her new purpose in life. She’s still Ivy, laziest witch and I like that because everything that made her so unique is still there and it wasn’t treated as something to remove from the character. Again, I’m not against that kind of character growth, but I like that we kept the very essence of what makes Ivy Ivy

 

And I do love Ivy. I love that Ivy is such a perfect, ordinary person even if she does have extraordinary powers. Yes she’s fighting evil, yes she’s involved in a dangerous investigation but that core of such normality, that foundation of duvet loving, laziness makes her so relatable and real. And I just love how her talking cat fits into that - I can’t even begin to spoil it even if it isn’t especially plot relevant, it’s just too awesome.

 



 

I also like how Raphael has grown over the series - I think he still needs a little more than being the hyper-competent guy who loves Ivy. but in some ways him being this picture-perfect awesome guy he emphasises Ivy’s realness - while not overshadowing her because she can go toe-to-toe with her. I think it’s even intentional because a number of the more side characters have elements which I appreciate: from the simple dedication of the Ipissimus to even designated-rival-bad-guy actually being useful and helpful even while Ivy seethes over it. I like that, I like that even the caricature of awful is still not all bad - and that Ivy isn’t the bigger person to let this go

 

I’m also loving a depiction of ghosts as annoying pushing nuisances - as well as the whole extremely original concept of how ghosts are created.

 

 

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Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/12/spirit-witch-lazy-girls-guide-to-magic.html
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