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review 2017-10-31 00:00
Review: Cain (Out of the Cage Novel, #1) by Lane Hart
Cain (An Out of the Cage Novel) (Volume 1) - Lane Hart

Lane Hart does it again! It was a gripping story full of angst, drama, nail-biting moments, sweet yet passionate scenes, sexy and funny men. In short, all I could ever ask for in a story like this. 

I loved the friendship and banter among the three main males. Cain, Knox, and Ivan grew up together in a sort of “foster home” for homeless kids. The downside? They have to surrender their lives to a mafia mob leader as soon as they come of age. Their relationship was easygoing and relatable; each of them was true to their character from start to finish and as the reader I could understand their dilemmas and way of thinking. Gabby, the only woman of the group, may have sounded too innocent at times but that was completely understandable; she didn’t really have much life experience as she joined the men at a very young age. The fact that they all had each other’s back without even saying it out loud gave the story that feeling of tenderness and warmth. 

My only cavil (blame it on my pickiness and personal preferences) is that it was kind of hard to get past the idea that the two main characters were of a certain age and there was no fumbling, no silly experiencing, no funny or imperfect loving scenes. However, their romance was both raw and honest and if I'm being honest with myself (and when I was able to overlook what I mentioned earlier) then it all made for a phenomenal read. 

 

** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is my honest opinion and it was not influenced in any way by the publisher or the author. ** 

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review 2017-10-19 21:41
At the Christmas Wedding by Caroline Linden, Maya Rodale, and Katharine Ashe
At the Christmas Wedding - Caroline Linden,Maya Rodale,Katharine Ashe

Review for Snowy Night with a Duke by Katharine Ashe. ~ I will review for the other two as I finish them ~ 
Such a sweet tale! Horace and Charlotte haven’t seen each other in over two years. She knew her love for him wasn’t a good thing so she decided to run away to America. Now that’s she’s returned and is snowbound in a country inn with the man she’s tried to avoid for as long as she can remember, sparks start flying and romance is no longer denied. 
I loved the dialogue between the two. At times they argued like children but at the same time they sounded like a couple of old friends reacquainting themselves with each other. 
When the story started I couldn’t understand the reason Horace acted the way he did but as the story progressed and everything was explained I was able to sympathize with his predicaments. I also loved that Charlotte was sort of different in a way that I’ve never read before and in a way that was cleverly adapted to the romance aspect of the story. The ending had me having all the feels and I think it was the most endearing part of the book. If you’re looking for a charming, sweet, yet passionate and steamy story with a Christmas theme then this is the book for you. 

** This is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher. **

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review 2017-10-03 20:10
ARC review: SEDUCED BY FIRE by ERIN KELLISON
Seduced by Fire - Erin Kellison

Third installment in the Dragons of Bloodfire series. It’s supposed to be read as a standalone but I truly think you need to read the series in order to thoroughly enjoy this book although that’s not completely necessary. 


As great as life may be for any Bloodkin (dragon) that has amassed a great fortune over the years, the fact that they are still different from any other human being makes for a very complicated life. Shifters, werewolves, vampires and other creatures are out and humans are not very accepting of them so they tend to stay hidden as much as possible. There are some evil creatures that actually want to take over the world and Aura becomes involved in one of their evil schemes. 

Mack is a very powerful and ancient dragon shifter that’s left his dragon life behind in exchange for a more calm and confined “normal” life as a college professor. It might not be as luxurious as it could have been if he lived as any other Bloodkin but his love for books and antiquities has made him more accommodating over the years. He and Bloodkin Aura were friends less than a century ago but circumstances separated them and now she is back in his life, asking for his help and rekindling old romantic flames. 

I think I’m a little biased when it comes to this author because whenever I start reading any of her books I’m already thinking I’m going to like it. Her narrative depicts quite a unique imagery; she’s got such a gift for creating the most fantastic worlds capable of transporting me to whatever place she’s decided to create. And although her dragon shifters are not the “sexiest” I’ve ever read, they are by far the most intriguing, interesting, and complex beings– when I say sexiest I mean they are not out looking to mate and claiming to be the best lovers ever, thank goodness- They even behave like true dragons, with hoards and all and with a folklore all of their own. 

Aura and Mack set out to retrieve some sort of artifact that according to myth it could empower any normal human and enslave the rest of humanity. Aura needed that artifact to ensnare something –or someone- that had escaped her a long time ago and trap it again. She was keeping her own agenda secret but whatever it was Mack was sure she’d confide in him with the right incentive. He wasn’t exactly in love with her but had had feelings for her since the day she met her. 
I don’t think this one is the most romantic story of the series however what I liked the most here was the honesty between Aura and Mack when it came to their feelings and the quest all the characters set out to find the artifact. One thing I didn’t like much was that the ending felt somewhat contrived and too lenient for the main villain of the story.

It’s always a pleasure to return to this world and will be looking forward for the next installment. 

I voluntarily read this book and my opinion here is my own

 

Purchase your copy now:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vo6zEl
B&N: http://bit.ly/2wh7e80
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fhHzs9
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2uaWsyU

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review 2017-10-02 07:03
Is that a bunch of tropes in your pocket or are you happy to see me?
Unshakeable Faith - Lisa Worrall
FOUR HEARTS--Come along with me won't you? Join me in the tropey goodness of Unshakable Faith.

Because I'm still huffing the fumes of this OTT treat. If I had to quickly describe this book (or should say experience), it's like a sexier Dreamspun Desires title on meth.


*stares at the fumes*

This was an experience of tomfoolery, unrealistic actions, hot sex, door slamming, jealousy, pounding, almost cheating, shattered hearts, a punch that saves all ills and the sweet cracky fluff.
And did I mention the sex?



Because the trip to Poundtown was so fruitful, it cured all woes.




Not mad at it all.

If you're looking for escapism, look no further. Not my first Lisa Worrall, so I knew ahead of time to expect some over the top-ness. Not disappointed.

It all starts on a fateful day in a San Antonio bar owned by secret rich boy (and humble) Brody Tyler. He's a gentle giant, 6'4" with a soft heart for those in need. Enter the most beautiful man with green eyes, Nash. Nash doesn't remember who he is, only knows he was attacked three months ago and his body is riddled with scars and a nurse named him Paul. But it doesn't feel right. What should the sweet bartender do? Why offer him a job and a room in his home, of course.


I see the eye rolls from here. ;P

Not Paul renames himself Nash. Amnesia Nash is so sweet. He is grateful for the help and befriends the bar workers including Wyatt, Brody's best friend and the best goddamned secondary character in this novel. (I'll get to Wyatt's awesomeness later). Brody is obviously attracted to Nash but tries to be a friend. It's Nash who makes a move after a few weeks in a hot possessive glory.

I was getting Calmesian feels at that point, all systems are a go.

What more could happen to mess with that fluff bubble?

A killer plot! Someone knows who Nash really is and wants him dead!



And the killer is sloppy (obviously since the first go round didn't work) and sloppily attempts to get Nash again.

So now Nash is in the hospital for a second time and now he remembers everything before the first incident but not the last six months.

And the real Nash? He's an asshole. I cursed not having the ability to reach through the book (I read along and listened to the audiobook) and smack the ever living shit out of Nash. Nash is a wealthy businessman with a heart made of coal. And he enjoyed himself.



I wondered how the author was going to pull these two men together with Nash not having any memory of being booed up and now having the jerk quality about him. Enter tropey plot device a la: bodyguard/ward twist. Brody haphazardly ends up being Nash's bodyguard (yes without having any experience or training) You just have to leave reality with me for this one.

Here, have a hot dog.


Have a few.

Asshole Nash + Fake Bodyguard Brody + Sloppy As Hell Murder Plot + Secrets = DRAMA!

There was enough drama for me, you and the entire world. Between the narrator's over-acting and this crazy ass plot, I was HIGHLY entertained!



I'm going to have to disagree, Tim Gunn. Yes, do that! Do that please!

It was like reading about teens at times. What with the emotions, tears, door slamming (seriously what was up with all the slamming of the doors?), brushes with death (so many...) and the weaksauce reason behind all the attempted murder, this book could go either way.

But it worked? Well for me anyway.

This was my first time listening to Sean Lenhart. The story is set in Texas and the narrator is clearly not from the South. I heard all East Coast even though he tried. It got to be distracting at first, then after reading the story while listening, I noticed there was an OTT-ness to it all. And Lenhart definitely did the thing with that. His crying, dramatic gasping and high emotion scenes sounded the same like the sex scenes. I laughed for all the wrong reasons. His Brody was great. His Nash? LOL wow. No, that accent was so bad it was good in a way. Overall, it fit the theme in a weird way. I rate the narration 3.75 Hearts. I'd give another book narrated by Lenhart a try.

Unshakeable Faith with all the crazy and cracky fluff, it got the job done. I looked forward to listening to the story. It was like a soap opera with all that it had going on. Is the story perfect? Far from it. There are plot holes scattered throughout, reality just doesn't exist here.

And then I reflect on the great moments: the mens' first time, the moment one of their heart shattered, the best punch scene that could've never happened... but I didn't know I needed until it happened.

Wyatt, Brody's BFF, does what I'm sure many readers of this book wanted to do. He's what a BFF stands for. He was Brody's conscience, always had his back and told it like it needed to be told.

I was here for Wyatt.

I am here for Brody and Nash. If this six year old book was a soap opera, I'd still be watching it to this minute.




Recommended if you don't mind fluff, cracky plots, sweetness, fluff and crazy.
Leave reality at the door.



A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-10-02 06:58
1 1/2 out of 3 ain't bad?
Primal Need: A Sexy Male/Male Shifter Anthology: Wolf in King's ClothingThe Alpha's ClaimDark Water - Holley Trent,Parker Foye
THREE HEARTS--For a shifter anthology, this didn't deliver as expected. (avg. doesn't include the 2nd story)

Wolf in King's Clothing by Parker Foye - 3.5-3.75 Hearts

They call him "Prince".

A half breed, small assassin that has had the worst life ended up being my favorite of the anthology, go figure?



The unlikely hero who has been shat on, exiled and doesn't speak due to lacking social manners? My toes couldn't stop curling. Set in alternate Victorian period where werewolves are known, "Prince" aka Kent doesn't really know his true name. He's been collared and kept as a witch's assassin as an adult. He's been bartered over and kept like trash, exiled from wolf packs, he has no kind to call his own. His owner tasks him to do one more retrieval and he will have his freedom, Kent agreed before she even finished her sentence. Kent goes to the highlands to rescue an alpha who isn't like any alpha Kent's met.

But he doesn't care for the alpha, Hadrian's peculiar nature, he just needs to make sure he brings Hadrian back in one piece to his master. The road trip back to York is eventful, as the rival pack that kept Hadrian wants him back. The reasons why Hadrian needed to be retrieved are a little murky.

However personable Hadrian who has his own magical secret was a good choice as a foil to Kent's surly silence. The chip is mega wide on Kent's shoulder and Hadrian's steady persistence to at first befriend Kent was fun to read. The camaraderie, bodyguard/ward relationship takes a romantic turn. And it's subtle, which worked one hand and didn't on the other. The romance is pretty subtle, too subtle in the primal need department. Hadrian is alpha? He read like a beta which I can be down with. But when push comes to shove, he didn't claim his mate.

Kent still has to go through trials during this novella. And it endeared me to him. The story has a nice action/suspense twist and the reader gets to slowly learn about Kent's past and why he's so special.

I thought the reason why Kent is badass was cool. I haven't read about his type much in urban fantasy I've read.

The sex? One scene and no penetration for the smutsters keeping score. The story is interesting and evenly paced. I enjoyed the world building, pretty close to Victorian period with magical/paranormal exceptions.

Out of all the stories, this was the one that showed the most promise. If it's ever re-edited and lengthened, I'm there. Definitely would read more from this author!

The Alpha's Claim by Holley Trent - DNF Delight

A lot of anthologies have a stink bomb or two in their arsenal... this is Primal Need's



The writing style leaves a lot to be desired. Telling, shallow and none of the characters have substance. Then the setting bungle. It's supposed to be set in New York but the setting seemed like it was an internet search and find deal.

If a customer stiffs you repeatedly from tips for weeks... you end up in his bed to get the money you earned?

For what I've read, it's definitely stink face inducing.



Shifter fail. Plot fail.

NOPE.

Save yourself the time.

Dark Water by K.L. White - 2.5 Hearts

If you read the anthology, after the reading the previous stink bomb, Dark Water might read as manna from heaven.

Kelpie shifter lead is definitely on the unusual side of go to shifters.




Being as I didn't suffer through that, I read this without fume-weary eyes. This story is from a debut author... and it reads like it's from a new author. Not a bad thing, I love newbie authors. But the story, while more unusual due to the kelpie shifter mythology brought to the table, the execution has some hits and misses.

Benjamin is on the brink. He's a former naval officer in Maryland who leaves the hospital to kill himself. Trigger warning: attempted suicide. He's blind, has no friends or family other than a racist dementia diagnosed father who wouldn't recognize Benjamin on a good day. He best friend Rez was killed in front of him while trying to save his fellow officers. It's one of the last images in Benjamin's mind. He goes to the beloved beach to die.

At that beach, a kelpie marks him for sacrifice. The kelpie turns out to be Rez, Benjamin's best friend thought to have died on that deadly mission. The mark means Benjamin must die but Rez can't do it. And tries to save his friend. This mission of saving Benjamin gets buried under repetition, different threads to a plot that would've be best kept simple and an underwhelming chemistry.

The length could have been longer to tackle the heavy topics such as a veteran battling depression suicidal thoughts, a new permanent disability, PTSD. The items are touched on, but those are weighty topics that deserved more meat.

And to add more issues: sexuality. Benajimn identifies as heterosexual and never had any sexual feelings toward his friend. Being savd, learning his friend is actually alive and hearing his friend kiss another man helps him discover a part of sexuality he's never questioned?




Benjamin loved Rez as a friend, and while they'd kissed and touched, he didn't know if he was seeking comfort in blindness.


I'm leaning toward that camp of questioning Benjamin's motives as Rez seemed like he wasn't attracted then he was, then he kissed another man even tough he shot the persistent guy down. And now he wants to mate for life to Benjamin.

The kelpie population is dying and the men are charged to mate and make new kelpie foals with female kelpies. Another factor that makes me question the entire relationship factor as Rez wants to do his duty but needs to save his friend more.

And when they have sex, it was "I'm not attracted to males" vs. "but I have to sleep with you to save your life". I'm not liking the way the chips are stacked. It read forced and not sexy. Rough sex for an anal virgin? The possessive streak is usually my go to hot factor but I wasn't feeling it in this context. And the suicidal thoughts were still there close to the end.  I get why the need to mate was needed to keep Benjamin alive but I'm not liking the reasons.

And then way everything is neatly tied up? Uh-uh. Right. Sure.

The ideas are good. The execution is questionable. The story would have been better for me both men had an inkling of shared passion prior to meeting, the suicide and killing didn't happen and the plot remained simple.

My rating is for the kelpie folklore mostly and the premise.

The title of this anthology is Primal Need and not one story addressed that factor. So if you're a reader looking for primal shifters, look somewhere else. The good thing about this anthology is the stories are also sold separately. I'd read samples before getting any of the titles.

So, 1 1/2 out of 3?



A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.
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