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review 2019-01-16 05:09
Shocking
Now or Never (San Francisco Thunder #4) - Victoria Denault

This is book #4, in the San Francisco Thunder series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this series in order.

 

Winnie has known Holden most of her life.  He made her feel bad in her youth.  Now he is more of a white knight.  Can she forgive him about the past?

 

Holden is trying to gain the trust of those he has wronged in his youth.  He has grown up and past the angst that plagued him back then.  Now, he is hoping most for the trust of one specific woman.  The one he has always wanted.

 

I really enjoyed reading this story.  I had wondered and waited for this book about Winnie.  It had more of punch than I expected, but it also felt very real.  The feelings were strong, the heat was sizzling, and the couple is just right.  These characters are so fun to read.  I give this a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by Netgalley and its publishers.

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url 2019-01-15 16:16
Release Day Blitz: THE LEOPARD WHO CLAIMED A WOLF by Sarah Mäkelä with Giveaway


I am so excited that THE LEOPARD WHO CLAIMED A WOLF by Sarah Mäkelä is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Sarah Mäkelä, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $5 Amazon Gift Card and 2 eBooks, International, courtesy of Sarah and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
 
Mandatory post info:
About the Book:
Author: Sarah Mäkelä
Pub. Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Kissa Press LLC
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 179
 
When a wolf loves a leopard…
 
He’s her protector...
Caitlyn Fraser, a wereleopard who has always hated cruel werewolves, is the former prisoner turned mate of Dougal Sterling, Alpha of the Scottish pack. She’s courting jeopardy with her determination to attend the funeral of her brother’s father, since the Pack blames her for Alistair’s death. But still Dougal protects her from his wolves.
 
Her defender...
Short of allies, Dougal struggles to balance loyalty and attention between the Pack and Caitlyn. When the Pack’s stability crumbles, he’s faced with the return of his older brother, the rightful Alpha, who shirked his duty after their father’s death. However, Ewan’s challenge will be a battle to the death. Sheltering Caitlyn can only lose Dougal more friends, but he knows she’s the mate he’s longed for.
 
But survival takes two...
Menace lurks in every corner of the Highlands; Alistair and Ewan’s supporters and haters of shapeshifters abound. Caitlyn and Dougal must stick together, pushing back fiercely when they are attacked. Even if that puts them in mortal danger…
 
Excerpt:
Chapter One
 
Caitlyn
The driveway leading up to the Scottish Pack’s massive headquarters stretched almost half a mile. I rested my chin on my arms and stared out of the Alpha’s window on the second story, overlooking the circular section of the drive. The Pack’s castle came complete with its very own dungeon, but at least they weren’t keeping me in there anymore. The memory of Alistair’s craggy face haunted my dreams each time I closed my eyes. His brutal fists hammered away against my face, ribs, and stomach, until I could no longer sleep.
 
Tension radiated through my shoulders, and I balled my hands into fists. No, Alistair—Colin’s father—was dead. Dougal had protected me, and my brother, from that monster when I didn’t have the strength to fight back.
 
Not that it mattered.
 
Two days had passed since my brother’s sudden departure. Now Colin was on his own with no one to watch his back. How could he leave without saying anything to me? I flexed my fists again, welcoming the anger as it bubbled up in my chest and replaced my sadness.
 
The heavy weight of a man’s hand descended on my back. I twisted around, my knuckles connecting with a solid jaw lined with dark, coarse stubble. A familiar jaw. Shite.
 
Dougal stumbled back half a step, but then he planted his feet like a tree with strong roots, not budging any further. Sharp power flared outward from him before he squelched it, stretching the muscles in his jaw. A frown tugged at his lips, and the corners of his eyes creased, either in pain or displeasure.
 
“Dougal! I’m so sorry.” The sudden movement of punching him had shot a searing ache through my battered ribs again. The pain stole my breath away, but I tried to force it down. How could I have been so careless? If he’d been anyone else in the Pack, I would’ve caused World War III.
 
“Dinnae fash. The punch bloody well hurt, though. I didn’t realize you were so strong.” Dougal’s frown melted away as he pulled me closer and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “Seems like you’re recovering your strength.” His gaze drifted past me to the long gravel driveway of the estate. “How are you doing, love?”
 
The emotions I’d been stomping down now bubbled to the surface again. “I cannae believe Colin left me. He left before I even regained consciousness. How could he?”
With anyone else, I wouldn’t show weakness, but I rested my forehead against Dougal’s chest, needing his touch and savoring his warmth. “I barely had time to talk with him, and when I did, it wasn’t a good time to ask how he was doing after the months he’d spent in that bloody research facility—or even to ask where he would go to heal…”
 
Tears welled in my eyes, but I held them back, refusing to cry. “I gave up so much—my job, my flat, my life—while trying to track him and bring him home. What if my sacrifices were all for naught?”
 
“Nae, they weren’t for naught, love.” Dougal kissed the top of my head. “I know you’re hurting. You have plenty of reasons to be, but the man who came back wasn’t the same one who left for the United States.” He lifted my chin, forcing me to see the sincerity in his clear blue eyes. “Whatever those scientists did affected him in ways neither of us will probably ever know. Waiting at the window won’t make him return any sooner.” He wrapped his arms around me and gently pulled me against his chest again. “Let me draw you a bath. Remember, I’m here if you need to talk.”
 
He was right, even if I didn’t want to admit it. Waiting for Colin’s return wouldn’t help, but what else could I do? “I know, but that doesn’t make this any easier for me. He’s my younger brother. I feel helpless that I cannae be there for him…again.” A heavy ache settled on my heart, and I pulled away hating the awkward emotions crushing me.
“Sorry.”
 
Dougal turned away from me and stared out of the window again. His jaw clenched and unclenched, as if he were trying hard to hold in his words. A lot was going on in his life too, and yet he was making a strong effort to support me through my problems. Things had become increasingly strained between him and his Pack since my arrival and Duncan and Alistair’s subsequent deaths. He didn’t talk about what he faced, and I didn’t want to pressure him.
 
After a few moments of silence, he released a sigh and turned back toward me. “You’ve done what you could for him, lass.” The ghost of a grin spread across his lips. “Do you still want the bath?”
 
I couldn’t help but nod. When I’d awakened from unconsciousness, Dougal had been there for me. We’d made love, and he brought me to new heights of pleasure. We also became intimately acquainted with the fancy Jacuzzi bathtub that could easily fit three or four humans…or one big, scary werewolf. The perks of being mated to the Alpha of the Scottish Pack.
 
“Aye, a bath sounds delish.” I wrapped my arms around his waist, bringing him back to me and drawing in his musky lupine scent. “Thanks for the talk. I wish I could’ve spoken with him before he took off. It would’ve made me feel better about him going.”
 
“Love, I talked with him.” He trailed his fingertips over my back in light, soothing strokes. “If I weren’t confident that he presented no danger to others, I wouldn’t have let him go. He would’ve stayed here whether he favored the idea or not.” The muscles in his lower back tensed beneath my touch, and his hand paused over my spine.
 
Something didn’t feel right. I lifted my gaze to meet Dougal’s. Was he not telling me something? We hadn’t known each other for long, but my sharp, feline instincts knew when someone spoke an untruth. He wasn’t outright lying, but he was holding something back. What could it be?
 
I bit my lower lip, regretting it as my teeth sank into one of the nearly healed spots where Alistair had punched me in the face. Instead of confronting Dougal, I turned my attention toward the window. “You would tell me if he was dangerous to himself, wouldn’t you?”
 
“Aye, I would.” His tone of voice wasn’t as convincing as I’d wanted. He leaned away, putting me at arm’s length. “Enough of that, I suppose. I’ll draw the bath for you.”
Without another word, he strode to the en-suite bathroom. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides all the way. The door snapped shut behind him, and he started the water running a few moments later.
 
Nausea churned inside me, and I held my stomach. Should I believe Dougal? Something about his words didn’t feel right. The Jacuzzi tub would take a few minutes to fill, and I needed to get out of this bloody bedroom and away from him. The strain of standing there and trying to keep myself calm was becoming too much.
 
My stomach growled, and I glanced up at the round wrought-iron clock on the wall. It was almost one o’clock in the afternoon.
 
Many of the werewolves didn’t like that their Alpha was mating with a wereleopard, so I usually skipped the mealtime rushes to keep my distance. It wasn’t easy, because several of the wolves lived here in this honest-to-God castle full time. Apparently, that was how many Packs operated. The thought boggled my mind. How did they stand to be around one another all the time? How would I survive being the sole feline in this house full of wolves?
 
Every urge for solitude within me roared to run as fast and as far away from this place as I could. Too much held me here, though. Besides, if Colin returned from his trip, I wanted to be around to greet him. Maybe throttle him, too, but it’d be a greeting nonetheless…
 
I slid my leather jacket on over the white tank top, not wanting to reveal too much bruised skin, then headed for the kitchen to grab leftovers. Dougal had tried to convince me to eat with him and everyone else. He wanted me to get to know the wolves and socialize. Getting friendly with the Pack might be a nice idea, but I couldn’t do it. Not with how his Pack watched me when they thought I wasn’t looking. Even Dougal’s second-in-command wasn’t a fan of mine. The sentiment was mutual. For as long as I could remember, I’d hated werewolves. One of my main reasons would soon rest six feet underground. Their hatred of me for Alistair’s death just added to my reluctance to get friendly with them.
 
Shaking away those thoughts, I turned the corner to enter the kitchen. If my sharp feline reflexes hadn’t kicked in, I would’ve run straight into a towering werewolf. I leapt back at the last minute to prevent Kerr from spilling his plate of food. The already agonizing ache in my side intensified from moving so fast, but I kept my arms at my sides and my face neutral.
 
“Afternoon, lass. Ye look like yer recoverin’ well.” Kerr nodded, looking curiously at me.
 
“Thanks, Kerr. I’m trying.” I flashed him an uncomfortable smile, then edged past the broad, barrel-chested man into the kitchen. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as the others, but I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling that he disagreed with Dougal’s decision to mate with me.
 
Kerr placed a heavy hand on my shoulder. My spine stiffened, and I gripped the sleeves of my jacket to keep from swinging on him too. “Keep tryin’, then.” His deep voice rumbled through the kitchen. I glanced pointedly at his hand, but he didn’t move it.
“Sooner or later ye need to overcome yer fear, hatred, or whatever it is ye feel toward my kind. If ye cannae, ye won’t last long here, lass.” With that, he walked down the corridor toward the massive grand hall where the wolves held their meetings and ate.
 
My shoulders slumped. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so hungry, but my leopard still needed to eat. We couldn’t skip any more meals. It hindered our healing process and weakened us too much. Right now, I couldn’t afford weakness, not while I was amongst a pack of wolves.
 
If only I weren’t continually looking over my shoulder with the Pack, but such was life for now.
 
Shite. I didn’t have much time before Dougal noticed I’d left the bedroom.
 
The leftovers were neatly arranged on the clean countertop. There wasn’t much food left, but I grabbed a bag of crisps and one of the last club sandwiches. A female wolf—Mairi, I think—ran a catering company, so she always brought by food to keep the Pack well fed. She was one of the nicer wolves.
 
Instead of following Kerr toward the dining room, where I would probably find the rowdy werewolves laughing and talking, I remained in the kitchen. I sat on the counter farthest away from the entrance, hidden from anyone who might walk past.
 
As I finished my sandwich, footsteps in the hall became louder as someone approached the kitchen. The sound of soft sniffing tensed every muscle in my body, then Dougal stepped into the room. His gaze slid over me, and desire darkened his eyes.
 
“Your bath is ready. If I’d known you were hungry, I would’ve brought something earlier when I ate.”
 
I shrugged a shoulder. “It’s all right. I’m eating now.”
 
“Aye, so you are.” He looked down the hallway as if checking to make sure no one else was near. When he turned back, he wore a frown that creased the corners of his lips and eyes. “You shouldn’t be in here all alone, love. Things within the Pack are tense right now. Let’s go back to the bedroom.”
 
I tilted my chin up, not in the mood to be bossed around again. “I’m not alone. You’re here.” I opened the bag of crisps and munched on one.
 
His nostrils flared, and he crossed his arms over his broad chest. The move might’ve been scary as hell if it wasn’t him doing it. “That’s not the point. Come on.”
 
Bloody hell.
 
First, I’d been his prisoner in the cage, and now I’d become a prisoner in his bedroom. Not in a fun way, either. Why was this happening?
 
I clenched my fists, crushing a few of my crisps as tears burned in my eyes, but I refused to let them show. The flood of emotions I’d experienced over the past week was becoming too much to all push down at once. As soon as I dealt with certain fears or emotions, others popped up to take their place, like some horrible version of whack-a-mole.
 
Life just wasn’t fair. All I’d wanted to do was return to Scotland and be here for my brother. In that time, I’d been reintroduced to a childhood nightmare, imprisoned in a dungeon, and now I was the prisoner/mate of a werewolf Alpha. When would the roller coaster end?
 
Dougal crossed the space between us in a few long strides. He pulled me from the counter into his arms.
 
A feline hiss ripped from my throat, sounding every bit as feral as I felt. Once again, anger rescued me from my moodiness. “Set me down this minute!”
 
 
About Sarah:

New York Times Bestselling Author, Sarah Mäkelä, has received her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She has been inspired to read and write since reading a collection of her mother’s poetry as a child. Her real passion for writing began after receiving an Excellence in Writing award for a children’s story her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to enter for a school contest. Her love of romance novels became evident after picking up her first Harlequin, Chateau of Flowers by Margaret Rome, shortly thereafter.
 
She lives in North Carolina with her husband and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, computer and console games, and traveling all over the world. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapters.
 
 
 
Giveaway Details:
 
1 winner will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, International.
2 winners will win an eBook of THE LEOPARD WHO CLAIMED A WOLF, International.
 
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review 2019-01-15 07:10
Release Blitz - Game On

Game On by Kelly Jamieson is AVAILABLE NOW!
 
 
 
When the stakes are this high, it’s game on. . . . “Kelly Jamieson is an auto-buy for me.”—New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips
 
Cam Brickley and his pro hockey teammates bet on everything: who can win five faceoffs in a row, who can do forty pushups in less than a minute, who can eat a ghost pepper without puking. But when his buddies bet him he can’t date the same woman—like, say, the hot blonde over at the bar—for two months and not fall in love, he’ll take that bet all day. Then he’ll laugh all the way to the hockey arena, where they’ll be washing his jock straps for the rest of the season, because Cam’s never giving up his bachelor lifestyle. Olivia Lockwood, heiress to the Lockwood Industries fortune, is used to people using her for her money and family connections.
 
When Cam Brickley hits on her in a club, Olivia’s first instinct is to brush him off. But he couldn’t be using her for her money, since he has more than enough of his own. Cam’s gorgeous and built, and it would be no hardship to go out with him . . . besides, he’d be the perfect spokesperson for the children’s charity she works with. Maybe it’s time for her to start using people. Cam and Olivia are both in it for something. What they don’t know yet is that they’re playing for keeps.
 
 
 
 
 

Game On (Aces Hockey, #8)Game On by Kelly Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book #8, in the Aces Hockey series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader understanding and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this series in order.

Cam bets his teammates he can get a date with the hot girl. She seems to not be interested in him, but there is something that just gives him hope. Then when they try to go on a date, the mishaps begin.

Olivia has no idea how to approach Cam about helping her out on a professional level. They start trying to date and it seems to be almost a wedge between them. Then she gets to know him. It changes everything.

This series is just so good! I was laughing my way through this book. The characters are such a joy to read. There is heat, humor and heart. Great combination.



***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

 
 
 
 
 
 
About Kelly Jamieson:
 
Kelly Jamieson is a USA Today bestselling author of over 40 romance novels and novellas. Her writing has been described as “emotionally complex”, “sweet and satisfying” and “blisteringly sexy”. She likes black coffee, white wine and high heels…and of course cheering on her Winnipeg Jets during hockey season!
 
Connect with Kelly:
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2019-01-14 22:55
THE QUEST FOR THE TRUTH BEGINS - epic fantasy

 

 

THE QUEST: Book two of Illusional Reality 
Karina Kantas
Series: Illusional Reality (Book 2)
Paperback: 239 pages
Publisher: Asteri Press (December 31, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1912996049
ISBN-13: 978-1912996049
 
 
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

While it first appeared in 2016, it was only last fall when I read Illusional Reality, volume one of Karina Kantas’s then in progress “duology.” Now, volume two, The Quest, is here and I’m more on target in terms of timing.

First, I freely admit I liked The Quest much more than its predecessor. It carries on the story of Princess Thya of the magical land called Tsinia. Like book one, the story opens with the princess living on our earth using the name Haty. This time around, she knows prophecy says her people will reach out for her again, asking her to return to their realm as their defender and protector.  Now, Thya thinks her main sacrifice may be leaving Alex, her son back on earth and taking the reluctant throne of her people without him.

After this setup, the story is very different from the plot of Illusional Reality. Thya remains a stubborn, willful, strong-minded—often to the extreme—heroine who sets out with a small company of companions to take on the dark forces of evil. Sound a bit like Tolkein’s Ring series? Part of their journey takes the party through a harsh desert populated by sandworms. Sound a bit like Frank Herbert’s Arrakis? Well, only for a few passages. 

Thya and her companions encounter a series of vividly described obstacles, monsters, alien species, and Thya’s strange, double-edged powers that seem to wax and wane as she tries to control a dark side to them. In short, there’s a lot going on in the journey to save Thya’s people, a populace currently living in caves after being chased from their homes while their Princess lived peacefully in England.

Fortunately, readers don’t need to have read Illusional Reality to jump into and fully understand what’s going on in The Quest. In the first chapters of the fast-paced yarn, Kantas fully lays out what happened in her first book for new readers. More fantasy than sci-fi—by miles—The Quest should appeal to readers who like their settings and characters vividly described with well-developed flaws and motivations. 

Readers who like strong female protagonist should especially like meeting the complex and often conflicted Princess Thya. In addition, The Quest seems a perfect YA novel as I often found myself thinking back to the L. Sprague De Camp and Andre Norton adventures I enjoyed when I was YA myself.
Nothing profound here, nothing preachy. Lots of the fantasy tropes young readers enjoy these days with a nice layer of romance to boot.


This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Jan. 12, 2019:
https://waa.ai/ox0X


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