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review 2014-09-03 01:53
Early Review: My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts
My Highland Spy - Victoria Roberts

My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts

Series: Highland Spies #1

Genre: Historical Romance

Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 2, 2014

Format: eARC Pages: 320

Source: NetGalley

Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble


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


My first Victoria Roberts’ historical romance novel, but it definitely won’t be my last…Ruairi and Ravenna had me hooked from the first page to the last!


MY HIGHLAND SPY is a story filled with intrigue, adventure, a sweet romance and my favorite…highlanders! Ravenna Walsingham is not your average English lady, she works with her uncle as an accomplished spy for the Crown and her latest assignment has brought her to the home of Laird Ruairi Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, a suspected threat to the Crown. Posing as a governess to Laird Sutherland’s son Torquil, Ravenna plans to uncover any conspiracy but soon realizes the only danger lurking is the possibility losing herself to the handsome and charming Highland laird and compromising her assignment.


Everyone that reads my reviews knows my favorite kind of heroine is a strong, independent one with a smart mouth and Ravenna fits this description perfectly. This type of leading lady isn’t so prevalent in historical romance so I knew Ms. Robert’s story would be a real page turner. Ravenna is a smart, kind and determined woman who is extremely protective of her family and loyal to those she cares for, despite being a spy for the King. She has some preconceived prejudices against highlanders so it was great to see her guarded interactions with everyone when she arrives at Ruairi’s home. I really enjoyed her character and love how organically she fit into Ruairi’s world, as if she were always meant to be there. Ravenna held her ground with the smexy alpha and it was a great surprise to see a real heroine in this book, not a damsel in distress, which is common in this genre.


If there’s an alpha hero I can’t resist it’s a highlander and Laird Ruairi Sutherland is as swoon worthy as they come! Territorial alpha males are welcomed but not mandatory in my books and Ruairi is a real fresh breath of air in this story. Like Ravenna, he’s devoted to protecting his family (son) and clan, Ruairi is a great leader who doesn’t mind sacrificing himself for the greater good. His determination to keep his son by his side after his wife’s untimely death and not send him off to the English, tugged at my heart strings. He isn’t the usual brooding male, he has a great sense of humor and his flirty banter with Ravenna are some of the most enjoyable moments in MY HIGHLAND SPY. The romance between Ruairi and Ravenna develops over time, even with their intense chemistry which made it all worthwhile..there was no drama between them. I was relieved to learn that Ravenna is an experienced woman and not a virgin which means these two could heat up the pages without a proposal or marriage, it was great to see two grown adults give into their passion with no expectations. These two are perfectly matched despite their cultural differences and bring out the best in each other. I couldn’t get enough of them!


Another character I must mention in this review is Ruairi’s best friend and right hand man, Fagan. He stole the show from Ruairi a few times with his wit and charm. His friendship with Ruairi is really sweet and I hope that Ms. Robert’s considers him as a possible love match for Ravenna’s younger sister Grace. The small glimpse of the interaction between them left me wanting their story!


MY HIGHLAND SPY was a fantastic introduction to Victoria Robert’s captivating romance and larger than life characters. There’s enough adventure and tension to keep you intrigued, with a steady pace that doesn’t feel too rushed and allows you to really connect with the characters. New and old readers of historical romance are sure to find this a delightful reading experience. I mean, who doesn’t love a sexy Highlander who speaks Gaelic and wears a kilt, right?




Source: romancingthedarkside.com/2014/09/early-review-my-highland-spy-by-victoria-roberts.html
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review 2014-09-03 01:41
{Blog Tour} Review: An American Girl in Italy
An American Girl in Italy: HarperImpulse Contemporary Romance - Aubrie Dionne

An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: HarperImpulse on May 29, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 182
Source: Author

Purchase: Amazon • Barnes & Noble


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


A fun and flirty romance abroad!


AN AMERICAN GIRL IN ITALY is the story of a young woman and her journey of self discovery and love. Carly Davis is devoted to her career as an oboist for the East Hampton Civic Symphony and has no time to focus on a social life. Her job has brought her to Italy for a series of concerts where she meets the tall, dark and handsome Michaelangelo. In danger of losing his family’s estate and winery, Michaelangelo pretends to be a tour host and lands a gig hosting Carly’s orchestra during their stay in Italy in order to make the money he needs to save his family’s legacy. As Carly and Michaelangelo spend time together during her stay in Italy, it becomes apparent to both of them that fate has brought them together for a chance at love.


I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book and while I’ll be the first to admit I’m not exactly a big fan of super sweet romance but this was a fun change of pace for me. There are no big hurdles to overcome in this story. Simply put girl visits Italy, meets boy and falls in love over the course of two weeks and decides to follow her heart. This is a cute, feel good story that takes you on a mini vacation to Italy!

Carly is very relate-able, she’s a career driven young woman (I honestly can’t remember her age right now or if it was mentioned) who is a bit of an introvert and has some geek girl qualities I find endearing. I thought her inner monologue was ridiculously funny, especially her reactions to Michaelangelo. My only tiff with her is that it takes a while for her to warm up to Michaelangelo, relax and enjoy her time in Italy. There isn’t a lot of back story on her life before she joined the symphony orchestra, I feel we learn more about the leading man in this story, but I still find her character well developed.


The male protagonist, Michaelangelo is the quintessential Italian man in appearance but has some swoon-worthy qualities. He’s smart, loyal, charming and is the perfect gentleman. His flirty banter and charm eventually win Carly over, as much as she tries to avoid it. I really enjoyed his character, but I’ll venture to say he is almost too perfect for me. I thought we might get a dark past or something that would give him a bit of an edge (that’s the bad boy lover in me talking) but I was left wanting…he’s just an all around sweet good guy, but I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.


Michaelangelo and Carly’s romance is a little fast paced but I didn’t mind due to the circumstances, it’s not insta-love, they actually get to know one another before anything happens. Carly learns that there might be more than just music when she meets Michaelangelo and he sees a chance at finally settling down. His “open book” approach with Carly really won me over, I enjoyed reading about his family’s vineyards and the sacrifices he was willing to make to preserve his heritage. Despite the cultural differences, Michaelangelo and Carly have plenty in common which makes their relationship organic, they really bring out the best in each other. That being said, if you’re looking for a scorching romance you won’t find it here, the smexiness between Carly and Michaelangelo is very PG-13, the sex was done in a tasteful manner leaving everything to the imagination which is not how I like my romance but I definitely won’t knock a book for just that.


Aubrie Dionne really captures the essence of the music world and scenery of Italy with her vivid writing style, you can’t help but get swept up by this tale. A charming couple, an exotic backdrop and a great array of secondary characters will engage contemporary romance readers or those looking for a quick, light-hearted romance. AN AMERICAN GIRL IN ITALY is a delightful read with humor and an easy breezy, uncomplicated romance that is perfect for a summer beach read. I will definitely be adding this author’s future books to my reading list!



Source: romancingthedarkside.com/2014/08/blog-tour-review-an-american-girl-in-italy-by-aubrie-dionne-giveaway.html
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review 2014-07-24 02:15
{Blog Tour} Review: Indigo Dawn (The Josie Hawk Chronicles #1) by Elle J Rossi
Indigo Dawn (The Josie Hawk Chronicles, Volume 3) - Elle J Rossi

Indigo Dawn by Elle J Rossi
Series: The Josie Hawk Chronicles #1 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Published by: Moon Rose Publishing on March 24, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 150
Source: Author 
Amazon • Barnes & Noble


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


Vampires, witches and pixie dust…Oh My!


I can’t get enough of Josie and Keller and INDIGO DAWN finally gave me what I was craving…a full length story with these two. Just when I think things can’t get any crazier for Josie, Elle J Rossi surprises me with a new adventure for the snarky Huntress. Adding some pixies to the mix definitely made for an intriguing tale!


The Josie Hawk Chronicles continues with Josie doing what she does best, kicking some supernatural tail! I was thankful that her relationship with Keller is established and they’re finally a real couple working together in this book. Being with Keller has made Josie more open to let others in (which I like), but she hasn’t lost her fiestiness and protective nature. She’s now part of a team, working alongside Keller and his Crimson Beat band-mates not only at her bar Wolfie’s, but while hunting nasties on the streets of Nashville. Life is never boring for this gang and this time proves no different when Josie discovers some mischievous little pixies are distributing some psychedelic pixie dust in her city.


INDIGO DAWN wastes no time and jumps right into the action with Josie, Keller and their newly formed Assembly team. Each member of Crimson Beat brings their own set of skills and charming personalities to the table, I love that they all treat Josie as an equal and aren’t too alpha with her. Grant, Lucian, Alex and Matthew have great chemistry and definitely leave their mark, I wouldn’t mind a novella with just these four sexy vamps (I’m talking to you Ms. Rossi!).


Demons, vampires and shifters are some of the usual supes explore in this series so I thought the introduction of the witches and pixies just added to this fascinating world. Keller continues to make me swoon with his sexy Irish accent and passion…Josie is one lucky girl, that’s all I’ll say! We see a little more smexiness between them in this book and they certainly do a fantastic job of heating up the pages.


This book alternates between Josie’s first person POV and Keller’s third person POV, but I actually enjoy this style to the series, it allows me to connect with both protagonists. I love that Elle reveals the meaning behind the title INDIGO DAWN in the story, giving it a special connection to the characters. Josie and Keller are a breath of fresh air in this genre that can sometimes be a bit dark, I love their love and can’t wait to read what comes next for sexy couple, after all, you know what they say, the couple that slays together…




Source: romancingthedarkside.com/2014/07/blog-tour-review-indigo-dawn-by-elle-j-rossi.html
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review 2014-07-23 01:08
{Blog Tour} Mini Review: Crimson Beat (The Josie Hawk Chronicles) by Elle J Rossi
Crimson Beat - Spring Equinox (The Celtic Tapestry Collection, Book 1) - Elle J Rossi

Crimson Beat by Elle J Rossi
Series: The Josie Hawk Chronicles #0.6 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Published by: Author on December 30, 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 31
Source: Author
Amazon Barnes & Noble 


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

Another action packed installment to the adventures of Huntress Josie Hawk!


CRIMSON BEAT picks off shortly after the events of Alabaster Nights with our heroine Josie and her struggles to resist the sexy Irish vampire Keller O’Leary while keeping the city of Nashville safe from dangerous predators. The Spring Equinox known as Ostara, is one of two times a year when supernaturals are free to walk among the humans for a 24 hour period. Protecting the residents and tourists of Nashville while helping her best friend Sage run their bar Wolfie’s keeps Josie busier than ever and on edge. To keep the peace in her city, Josie is willing to sign a treaty with her greatest enemy, the ancient vampire Cross with or without the Assembly’s approval. What she wasn’t expecting was her on again/off again vampire lover Keller O’Leary showing up in town with his new band Crimson Beat. Can this be a mere coincidence? Josie doesn’t think so.


I really enjoyed this short but sexy addition to the series. Josie is her larger than life self. I love her inner monologue and snarkiness but it can sometimes get her into trouble. This story explores her relationship with Keller futher, including her insecurities when it comes to him. As a Huntress Josie’s number one priority is to keep her city safe from any supernatural predators, making her a bad ass fighter and kick ass heroine. Keller’s good looks and sexy Irish lilt are enough to distract anyone with eyes and ears, so I totally get Josie’s intense attraction to him, even when she tries to resist it. Their flirty banter is always a treat and watching Josie finally own up to her feelings for Keller really made this story worth the read.


CRIMSON BEAT gets you reacquainted with the series charismatic character and introduces us to some new ones that are just as entertaining. It was a blast catching up with Josie and Keller through her POV this time around. This novella has just enough action and romance to keep you turning the pages and anxiously awaiting the full length novel!




About Elle J Rossi


Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places.


After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She’d found a new love. She’d found her escape.


Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she’s creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and a cat that rules the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn’t get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn’t have it any other way.



Source: romancingthedarkside.com/2014/07/blog-tour-mini-review-crimson-beat-by-elle-j-rossi.html
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review 2014-07-18 18:53
Review: Black Rook (Cornerstone Run Trilogy #1) by Kelly Meade
Black Rook - Kelly Meade,Kelly Meding

Black Rook by Kelly Meade
Series: Cornerstone Run Trilogy #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Published by: InterMix on July 15, 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 330
Source: NetGalley

Amazon • Barnes & Noble


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


Kelly Meade has solidified my love of werewolves with her refreshing new alphas of Cornerstone, the McQueens are beyond SWOON-WORTHY!


Kelly Meade has definitely changed the game with her new world of werewolves. I’ve read plenty of books with werewolves, they’re my second favorite supe, but I haven’t come across anything like this fascinating world of loup garou and magic Meade’s created. World building can sometimes overpower a “first in a series” book, but I found myself devouring every detail shared about Cornerstone, its politics, inhabitants and history.


First and foremost I have to say how much I love the play on names for the McQueen Brothers: Knight, Bishop and Rook. I thought this was so clever and tied into the plot perfectly, like a strategic game of chess where each character has an important role. The usual werewolf myths do not apply in this world, I definitely feel Meade’s loup garou are in a class all their own.


A loup garou’s social standing and strengths are almost predetermined by their wolf’s color, each group has its own pros and cons; color can even play a role in mating and reproduction. For instance, all firstborns of families are alphas by default, their position can only be preempted by a black wolf, who supersede all other wolves when pertaining to alpha status. White wolves are intuitive and rare, therefore very special in the loup garou community which is referred to as a run and not a pack, I thought that was a cool new term. The white wolf’s mythology is the most intriguing to me but I’ll have to wait until White Knight is released to learn more. There are also no destined mates among the loup garou, only potential mates, which I found refreshing. While I love that I was immersed in this world of loup garou, I like that there is a good mix of supes with the vampires and Magi which adds diversity to the story. Each supernatural being has a distinctive scent to the loup garou which makes it easy for them to distinguish their enemies.


As the second daughter of Archimedes Atwood, a powerful Magus, Brynn Atwood is pretty much the black sheep of the community due to her lack of power and precognitive powers. When Brynn sees her father murdered at the hands of a loup garou in one of her visions, she travels to Cornerstone in order to find and stop the killer before he carries out his plan. What she finds instead is Rook McQueen, the son of Cornerstone’s Alpha, who stirs up all kinds of feelings and a sense of family for Brynn that she’s never felt among her own people. As they work together to find the real killer, Brynn and Rook uncover a dangerous enemy that threatens both their worlds and are faced with making a difficult choice for the greater good.


I wouldn’t call Brynn a bad ass heroine but she does have some kick ass qualities, if that makes any sense. She’s compassionate, courageous and loyal, even when it comes to her father who sees her as a disappointment. Brynn comes off as a naive and impulsive young woman, but her true strengths are shown as the story progresses. She’s like a fish out of water when she arrives at Cornerstone and it was great to see her hold her own among the loup garou, mainly the McQueens…she’s a tough cookie! There are a few secrets revealed about her origin I was suspicious about, but I was not expecting some of the things I learned. I’ll admit I wasn’t blown away by Brynn but she grew on me halfway through the book.


Rook was an unexpected surprise for an alpha, he’s assertive but not over the top. He’s a reformed “bad boy” rock star and struggles with who he wants to be and what is expected of him as a black wolf. He’s the youngest McQueen brother but as a black wolf has the choice of becoming Alpha or relinquishing that title to his older brother Bishop, who has been training for the position his entire life. I love how he does have all the qualities of a good Alpha but wears his heart on his sleeve, Rook is devoted to his family and will sacrifice himself for the ones he loves..if that’s not a hero I don’t know what is. The McQueen brothers’ bond is heartwarming, they have very different personalities but equally love each other unconditionally. I was expecting a little sibling rivalry between them but they were thick as thieves with no real drama among them.


The romance between Brynn and Rook is fun and flirty but minimal. The chemistry is there and I thought the sexual tension was going to make for a great couple of epic smexy scenes between these two, but I was left wanting, the romance took a backseat to the action and suspense. Normally I would be furious with the lack of sex in a book like this but I have to be honest and say that I was so engaged with the story and characters that I didn’t mind (this might be a first people!). I like the pairing of Brynn and Rook, they compliment each other very well and are really sweet together. I thought she also had a little chemistry with Knight before Rook came into the picture but that was obviously not going to happen. Those McQueen brothers really know how to steal the show from each other!


I would say BLACK ROOK has more characteristics of an Urban Fantasy with a dash of Paranormal Romance, just because there is more character development and world building and less smexiness between the characters, but that’s just my opinion. Kelly Meade has a gift for story telling that’s enviable, I couldn’t get enough of this paranormal world and its characters! Meade allows the reader to connect with each character, hero or villain, which is not an easy feat. I also feel the supporting characters in this story are just as engrossing and shine as much as the hero and heroine, I loved equally. Filled with mystery, action and a HEA, BLACK ROOK is a phenomenal series debut that will leave you hungry for more! The McQueen brothers are officially my new book boyfriends!



Source: romancingthedarkside.com/2014/07/review-black-rook-by-kelly-meade.html
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