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text 2017-01-20 17:34
Cat's Best Romance Reads of 2016
Moonshadow - Thea Harrison
First Step Forward (The Grand Valley Series Book 1) - Liora Blake
Her Naughty Holiday (Men at Work) - Tiffany Reisz
Beard Science (Winston Brothers Book 3) (Volume 3) - Penny Reid
Bittersweet (True North Book 1) - Sarina Bowen
Dark Deeds (Class 5 Series Book 2) - Michelle Diener
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me - Mariana Zapata
The Bird and the Sword - Amy Harmon
A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet
Fall (Hold Book 3) - Claire Kent

I had a great reading year with so many 5 Star reads.  And I needed it with so much going wrong. Here is a little sweet to ease the sour of this day. 

 

Here are my best Romance Reads of 2016 (published in 2016) in no particular order.. 

 

1. Dark Deeds by Michelle Diener Excellent Science Fiction Romance. 

 

Rescue might just be the death of her.

Far from home . . .
Fiona Russell has been snatched from Earth, imprisoned and used as slave labor, but nothing about her abduction makes sense. When she's rescued by the Grih, she realizes there's a much bigger game in play than she could ever have imagined, and she's right in the middle of it.

Far from safe . . .
Battleship captain Hal Vakeri is chasing down pirates when he stumbles across a woman abducted from Earth. She's the second one the Grih have found in two months, and her presence is potentially explosive in the Grih's ongoing negotiations with their enemies, the Tecran. The Tecran and the Grih are on the cusp of war, and Fiona might just tip the balance.

Far from done . . .
Fiona has had to bide her time while she's been a prisoner, pretending to be less than she is, but when the chance comes for her to forge her own destiny in the new world she's found herself in, she grabs it with both hands. After all, actions speak louder than words.

 

2. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata Watching them fall in love is the best slow burn. 

 

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

 

3.The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon Excellent magic world building. 

 

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.


The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.


But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

 

4. A Promise of Fire  by Amanda Bouchet A great adventure romance with magic! 

 

Catalia "Cat" Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

 

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin's fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone

 

5. Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole  Perfect. Loved every moment. 5 Stars.

 

Sofronia Wallis knows that proper Black women don’t court trouble by upending the status quo, but it’s 1961 and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing. Sofie’s spent half her life being prim, proper, and reserved—as if that could bring her mother back—but the nonviolent protests happening across the South bring out her inner agitator.

Ivan Friedman has devoted his life to boxing, loving the finesse of a well-delivered punch and the penance of receiving one. His family escaped from Europe before the horrors of WWII, and Ivan decides to help fight injustice in their new country, even if it goes against all his instincts as a fighter.

When Ivan and Sofie meet, they realize that their pasts are intertwined and—with the sparks that fly between them—perhaps their futures will be too. With everything in their society lined up against them, will Sofie and Ivan be able to beat the odds? Or will their chance at love be destroyed by the tumultuous times they live in?

 

6. Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen A great second chance romance.  5 Stars.

 

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

 
 

 

7. Beard Science by Penny Reid A delight in every way. I would marry Cletus. No joke but I love Jennifer. 5 Stars!

 

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

 

8. Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz The perfect morsel of a book. 5 Stars.

 

Clover Greene would sooner crawl into her oven than host family for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet another annual ritual of too much food, served with a side of criticism over "Clover's Bad Life Choices." This year, she needs to distract them all—with a handsome fake boyfriend. And she has the perfect guy in mind. 

 

Contractor Erick Fields is the poster boy for sexy single dads, and Clover has been secretly crushing on him for ages. She certainly wasn't expecting Erick to agree to her insane charade…or to add lots of hot, wicked sex to the deal. If they can pull it off, the worst Thanksgiving ever might give them something to be really thankful for!

 
 


9. First Step Forward by Liora Blake Opposites Attract doesn't get better than this. 5 Stars. 

 

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

 

10. Moonshadow by Thea Harrison An amazing heroine! 5 Stars! 

 

Her past is a blank, her future uncertain….

Recovering from a shooting, LAPD witch consultant Sophie Ross leaves her job and travels to the U.K. to search for answers about her childhood. When she encounters a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, she becomes entangled in an ancient hatred between two arcane forces.

He has given his body and soul to fight for his people….

Barred from his homeland along with his surviving brother knights, Nikolas Sevigny is embroiled in a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear. Only by uniting his people’s resources can they hope to prevail against Isabeau, the deadly Queen of the Light Court. He will do anything and use anyone to return home to Lyonesse.

When Nikolas encounters Sophie, he sees a tool to be used. The insouciant witch might be the key to unlocking every passageway that has been barred to the knights of the Dark Court, even as a fascination for her takes root in what’s left of his soul.

Sophie has no intention of becoming anyone’s pawn, yet the fierce Nikolas is so compelling, she can’t deny the temptation that endangers her guarded heart.

As magic threatens Lyonesse, Queen Isabeau unleashes her merciless Hounds, and Nikolas and Sophie become embroiled in a race for survival. Meanwhile, the passion that ignites between them burns too hot to be denied and quickly turns into obsession.

Thank goodness they both know better than to fall in love…

 

 

Honorable Mentions! 

 

1. Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

2. Hail Mary by Nicola Rendell

3. Fall by Claire Kent

4. Hold Me by Courtney Milan

5. Mercy by Catherine Miller

 

What were your favorite reads of the year? 

 

 

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text 2017-01-19 17:08
Best Paranormal Romances of 2016
The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood Series) - J.R. Ward
Moonshadow - Thea Harrison
The Pages of the Mind (The Uncharted Realms) - Jeffe Kennedy
The Leopard King (Ars Numina) (Volume 1) - Ann Aguirre
Wild Embrace: A Psy-Changeling (A Psy/Changeling Novel) - Nalini Singh
The Undoing (Call Of Crows) by Shelly Laurenston (2016-03-29) - Shelly Laurenston
A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet
The Bird and the Sword - Amy Harmon
Defying Eternity (An Obscure Magic) (Volume 5) - Viola Grace
Horse (Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club Book 6) - Candace Blevins

I am slow this year but I am getting my Best of List done.

 

I read less Paranormal this year but what I read was very good! Fantasy Romance is making a come back which is wonderful.

 

Here is my list of the best Paranormal Romance published in 2016 in no particular order. 

 

1. The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward 

 

Wonderful to spend time with my favorite BDB couple, Rhage and Mary. A must read for fans of the series.

 

2. Horse  by Candace Blevins

 

A bear shifter and a rabbit shifter with a great mythos system and a good address of different kinds of sexuality. Loving and tender as well. 

 

3. Moonshadow by Thea Harrison

 

A great start to a new series with a clever witch heroine who takes no guff. 

 

4. The Pages of the Mind  by Jeffe Kennedy

 

A new to me series with a book loving heroine and a language barrier. A really fun fantasy romance. 

 

5. The Leopard King  by Ann Aguirre

 

A tortured hero meets his match in a heroine who never gives up. Sexy and a great start to a new series. 

 

6. Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh

 

A really nice collection of stories in the Psy-Changling World with my favorite being the love of a beta hero for an alpha heroine. So good!

 

7. The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston

 

A great heroine that gets her own back in this great entry into the Crow world. Great hero too. 

 

8.  Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

 

Everyone is raving about this book for a reason. A super action packed fully realized world of magic fun with serious heat between the hero and heroine. 

 

9. The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

 

Lyrical with great fantasy world building I loved this book with the heroine taking the lead as a favorite character this year. 

 

10.  Defying Eternity by Viola Grace

 

Kick Ass Heroine and a Vampire King. Such a blast! 

 

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review 2017-01-11 21:46
Moonshadow (Moonshadow #1) by Thea Harrison
Moonshadow - Thea Harrison

Thea Harrison’s MOONSHADOW is a thrilling start to the new series of the same name.  LAPD witch consultant Sophie Ross is given the opportunity to travel to England to discover information about her childhood.  She becomes involved with Nikolas Sevigny and his band of Daoine Sidhe knights of the Dark Court to try to overcome Isabeau, Queen of the Light Court. 

 

MOONSHADOW has a compelling plot that was exciting from start to finish.  It was full of creativity and excitement.  I like how Thea Harrison included characters from classic mythology, like Robin.  I thought it was interesting how Sophie and Nikolas initially encounter one another.  I love the concept behind the house and inheritance. 

 

Sophie is a likeable character.  She is strong and likes to help those in need.  I like how Sophie’s magic benefits the knights.  My heart went out to the Knights, and how long they have been fighting to get back home.  They are determined and powerful.  It is understandable why Nikolas is cautious about outsiders.  I like how Sophie’s and Nikolas’ relationship evolves throughout the story.

 

Thea Harrison does a great job with both her character development and plot.  There are numerous twists that make the story exciting. There are deceit and comradery.  The story keeps you on your toes  I like how MOONSHADOW ended.  I look forward to the next book in the series.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

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review 2016-12-27 00:00
Moonshadow (Moonshadow Book 1)
Moonshadow (Moonshadow Book 1) - Thea Harrison *It has been brought to my attention that this is NOT a British author, however please see my comment in the comment section.*

One (of many) objections I have with this book is that a UK author should never try to write an American character if they aren't going to do some research into the American language (slang) first.

When in doubt ask at an American site before committing to your book.
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review 2016-12-26 00:55
#CBR8 Book 121: Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
Storm's Heart - Thea Harrison

I read this TWO months ago, and need to get through this ever-increasing review backlog, hence resorting to the blurb once more:

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle found sanctary among the Wyr in New York. Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle's death, there are those who don't want to see her ascend to the throne. 

Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Thiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power makes him one of the Wyr's best weapons. And he's sent to protect Tricks when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.

Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them - a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds. 

Last year, I read and really enjoyed Dragon Bound, the first of Thea Harrison's Elder Races paranormal romance series. This book, which features some of the supporting characters of the first book, Tricks, the petite and outgoing fae PR representative for Dragos, the super-Alpha dragon shifter whose the hero in book one, and Thiago, one of his main security guys, who happens to be a Thunderbird shifter and immensely powerful and so on and so forth. In Dragon Bound, there is a conflict with the ruler of the Dark Fae that ends in his death. Once he's killed, it is revealed that Tricks is in fact his long lost niece, the only surviving member of the original royal family, who were murdered when her evil uncle usurped the throne. She's been hiding with Dragos and the other Wyr shapeshifters in New York under her assumed identity. Now a delegation of Dark Fae are asking her to return and take up her rightful place as queen.

Others are less enthusiastic, and video where Tricks cuts down her would-be attackers in an alley in Chicago goes viral, while Tricks is nowhere to be found. Dragos sends his best tracker, Thiago, to locate and protect her. While the two seem not to have spent all that much time together in the past two centuries while they've been working for the same dragon, apparently taking up bodyguard duty, shielding her from new dangers and spending a lot more time in close confines for the reluctant Tricks makes Thiago realise that she is his fated mate. The various Elder Races have their own territories, and are not supposed to intermarry. The Dark Fae will not accept a queen mated to a Wyr, and Thiago becoming Tricks' consort could be seen as a dangerous power bid. Of course, all of these complications will be irrelevant if they don't figure out who is trying to assassinate Tricks before she can even make it to her home territory to take up her title.

This book was moderately entertaining while I read it, but I can now barely remember any of the details and mainly the bits that annoyed me, at that. Harrison makes no great attempt at actually establishing why Tricks and Thiago may suddenly be falling for one another, she basically just tells us that it's so. Fated mate storylines rarely work for me, because they just seem a bit lazy. Why bother showing us the characters getting to know one another and falling for each other when you can just make them meant to be? They have no control over their choices or actions, they are just destined to be compatible because...reasons? Also, this being a romance, the whole "oh noes, my people will never accept our union" seemed a bit contrived, as they are obviously going to stay together. Finally, it was painfully obvious to me who the person scheming to kill Tricks was from the moment said character was introduced. There was very little tension there.

Add to that the fact that it seems like for at least a quarter of the book, Harrison was mostly busy establishing the two characters who currently have an antagonistic relationship but are clearly fated to be together, neither of whom I was particularly excited about, and this book was a big disappointment compared to the first one. I'm hoping later books are better, but based on their introductions in this book, I may skip the next one too. I don't know if I care about the inscrutable vampire queen and the next of Dragos' many security officers.

Judging a book by its cover: Well, your eyes are certainly drawn to the abs, aren't they? Unlike the cover model for the last book, this one doesn't actually get a face, to leave more to the reader's imagination? I don't exactly think this cover is very exciting, but then the contents were pretty underwhelming too, so at least it's not trying to oversell the story? I've got nothing.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-121-storms-heart-by-thea.html
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