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review 2018-10-23 02:37
ARC Review: Adder And Willow (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #6) by Sam Burns
Adder And Willow - Sam Burns

This series just keeps getting better, with every new book the author releases.

Adder And Willow is the 6th book in the series, and the third book of the 2nd trilogy, in which we catch up with Fletcher and Conner, whose relationship is still growing.

Now Conner's mother and step-father are coming to visit, and Fletcher is dreading meeting them. Not because he doesn't want to meet his boyfriend's parents, but because he's a terrible liar, and he knows that he's no good at keeping secrets. And the supernatural parts of himself and Rowan Harbor must be kept secret from outsiders.

Fletcher is also having meetings with Oak, the Dryad, who have been working with Fletcher to continue the training his mother couldn't. It is during one of these meetings that Fletcher finds out something he may have already sort of known, but that might put his future with Conner in danger.

And, as if that isn't enough on his plate, he also stumbles across two strangers in a stranded car, a mother and son, who are intrinsically linked to Rowan Harbor.

I just adore this series. The characters are complex and fully fleshed out, and each one is so different. There is never any confusing one character with another, because they all have different personalities. Fletcher may be one of my favorites, because while he's timid to some extent, and not assertive, he has much more steel in his backbone than he realizes. 

Conner is still growing into his new powers (you'll have to read the previous book to find out about that), and he's going to be tested here.

What also stands out about the characters is how they're all connected - not only because of their supernatural powers, but also because they feel like family, and they treat each other that way. They stick together, they stick up for each other, and they work together for the common good. 

The book is alternately humorous and serious. There is action, there is danger, and there are sweet moments between Fletcher and Conner that really cement their relationship. 

This series cannot be read out of order - each subsequent book builds on its predecessor - however, each book does end in a satisfying way. There are no cliffhangers. 

The writing style of this author really works for me, and I flew through the pages. 

Recommended! 



** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost Promotions as part of this review tour, in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-10-01 00:50
ARC Review: Midnight In Berlin by JL Merrow
Midnight in Berlin - J.L. Merrow

I loved Leon's irreverent narrative - he was my favorite person in the book.

In a case of mistaken identity, a werewolf bites a human. Oops.

Christoph, a lawyer of sorts, and Lycan, driving through Berlin in his Porsche very late at night, spots Leon, a student/drifter, who's hitchhiking his way back to this hostel. Leon is covered in feather, after a pillow fight at a concert and some rain, and Christoph thinks Leon is Lycan too and has just killed a large bird. So he stops, offers him a rider, and takes him to his pack house in one of the Berlin 'burbs. Because wolves aren't supposed to run around arousing suspicion, and Christoph chides Leon for potentially revealing the secret.

Leon has no idea what the guy with the Porsche is babbling about, but he's not liking it. And never mind the guy's face growing fangs and sprouting hair. When the car stops, Leon bolts just as soon as Christoph realizes his mistake.

Long story short, Leon wakes up Lycan (oops) after Christoph bit him. Christoph is nowhere to be found, and nobody living in the house where Christoph took him is telling him anything useful.

The pack is led by a horrible man named Schreiber. He's brutal, he treats his pack members like crap, and he's not happy that Leon is now a wolf.

Leon discovers where Christoph is being caged for punishment (that was hard to read, OMG), and together with Schreiber's daughter, they flee the house. 

The rest of the story is basically telling us about their escape and their movements through Berlin, trying to find out what they can about the experiment Schreiber appears to be running. There's a side story with another pack, this one full wolves.

The plot is fast-moving and the action scenes were fascinating, but the romance was rather bland. Outside of some sort of mating bond, I didn't really feel it at all. 

Leon's character stood out for me - the rest of them all were more or less one-dimensional. Christoph was okay, once he let go of his guilt a bit, and we do get a HEA. The descriptions of Berlin felt accurate, and most of the dialogue rang organic and realistic for the characters. 

Not one of my favorites by this author, but I enjoyed it. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-08-15 02:03
ARC Review: Camwolf by JL Merrow
Camwolf - J.L. Merrow

This was an interesting take on the shapeshifter sub-genre, and a much darker tale than what I'm used to from this author.

Dr. Nick Sewell is a professor at Cambridge university. He's also a werewolf, bitten and turned by an ex-boyfriend, and still struggling a bit with the wolfy parts of him.

Julian, a new student from Germany, causes an immediate reaction in Nick, even more so when Nick realizes the younger man is also a wolf. Nick is all alpha-wolf, which works well since Julian is more submissive in nature. 

Nick is still angry with the ex-boyfriend - he didn't ask to be bitten and turned, and the ex disappeared on him, more or less, so Nick has had to figure out pretty much on his own how to deal with the pull of the moon and the change. And now he's all growly and jealous and finds that he has this urge to be near the new student as much as possible, even though that creeps him out and he knows he sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Julian's backstory comes out slowly, and there were moments when what I found out made me so. fucking. mad! 

The author did a fine job with her characters - both are complex and flawed, polar opposites at first glance, but in many instances more alike deep down than they realize. The book is told from Nick's POV, switching with Julian's friend Tiffany's POV, which I found unusual and somewhat unfitting, since I really didn't have much interest in Tiffany, but the more I thought about her narrative, the more I realized that she actually brought some depth to Julian's character that may not have been as clear if we'd only heard from Nick. 

The thing that bothered me the most was how the situation with Julian's father's Beta turned out - and how his father seemed unapologetic for what he put his child through. Julian's mother seemed very weak, but we only saw her through Nick's eyes, and those were a bit biased. What didn't help was that there was a distinct lack of world-building - the werewolf lore used wasn't really explained, for one, and while Nick learns a bit more about changing into a wolf, he didn't really delve any deeper than what Julian told him. 

And it raised additional questions - like, is Crack fully human? And will he get his own book?

It's a rather dark novel, much darker than I expected, but I enjoyed reading it. I am German by birth, and most of the German used in this book was accurate. A few things were, while spelled properly, not exactly how a German would express themselves (at least not one from where I grew up).


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-07-07 00:38
ARC Review: Stag And The Ash (The Rowan Harbor Cycle #5) by Sam Burns
Stag And The Ash - Sam Burns

This is the 2nd book for Jesse and Sean, continuing shortly after where Hawk and the Rowan ended. Jesse still struggles with his place on the town council, with being the Alpha wolf, with having to be in charge of things, and he's finding it equally difficult to help Sean grieving the loss of his mother and finding his stride in dealing with his powers as a succubus.

There were some humorous moments to lighten the mood, which is mostly somber throughout the book, which was to be expected after the events of book 4, as well as considering what we find out in this book.

At around 30% or so, I had an inkling on how this would unfold, after finding out who sent the troll that killed Sean's mother, and the three young wolves showed up in town. 

The book is told entirely from Jesse's POV, and he's a somewhat unreliable narrator, as his perception of how people feel about him isn't entirely accurate, something that he's starting to learn. His guilt stemming from mistakes made in the past, and how they are affecting the present, is obviously not helping him see himself clearly, and he continues to feel as if he's not good enough and can never measure up. 

I would have liked to find out more about what makes Sean ticks, but perhaps that's still to come. I wish Jesse could see himself as others do, and it seems that by the end of this book, he's starting to get there. Their relationship gets a chance to grow in this book also, as Sean towards the end forces some honest conversations with Jesse instead of both of them fumbling with what needs to be said. 

As the focus of this book is mostly on the new wolves in town, and Jesse struggling with his guilt and his keeping secrets from Sean and others about the true reason for the troll attack, we don't see a whole lot of the townsfolk in this book, at least not as much as we did in previous ones. Of course, all the main players make an appearance, and everyone contributes to the plot unfolding, but this book felt to some extent as a transition, a bridge, a set up for the next one. It also felt shorter than the previous ones, but certainly covered what it needed to cover. 

Of course, the writing is as awesome as always, engaging and entertaining, and I continue to be fascinated with this series. Fletcher's 2nd book is next, and if the first chapter is any indication, it'll be a wild ride. I can hardly wait!

Please note: These cannot be read as standalone books and must be read in order. 


** I received a free copy of this book from Signal Boost promotions as part of this tour in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-07-04 03:08
ARC Review: Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin
Inside Darkness - Hudson Lin

There were some really good themes in this book, and there were some things that weren't so good.

Let's talk about the good stuff first.

The author does a fine job exploring the impact and effects of PTSD that Cameron experiences, and how it shapes his interactions with the world around him, even when (and perhaps especially when) the traumatic events leading to the PTSD have passed. The darkness to which Cameron escapes is a place of safety to which he retreats when he's under extreme pressure or fear. An international aid worker for many years, Cameron has seen more than his fair share of human suffering, violence, and death, and there's not much left of the idealistic, out and proud gay man he was 10 years or so ago, the one who wanted to help others and jumped into aid work with both feet. Being gay is a crime in many African countries still, and Cameron knows only too well what might happen to someone who's found out to be gay. He has hidden that part of himself behind a cynical and gruff exterior because it's safer that way. 

Tyler is very much an opposite to Cameron. Somewhat self-centered and career oriented, he struggles with his ethnicity (born in America of Chinese heritage) and having clawed his way to success out of growing up in foster care. He's extremely sensitive to perceived slights, and he's unhappy at his job because he feels that he's being marginalized for his race and heritage, and not given any real assignments other than covering the happenings in Chinatown. At first, I didn't like Tyler very much. He was angry, perhaps understandably so, but also standoffish. He grew on me, especially as the author peeled back the layers of his personality, and Tyler became Cam's main support system.

While sex happens early, intimacy and romance does not, and the slow burn inside needed to be, since Cameron's PTSD makes for a difficult companion, and Tyler doesn't initially know how to help the other man, helplessly watching Cam sink deeper and deeper into the darkness. 

Love, as it happens between them, happens slowly, almost as a side product of their struggles to overcome the obstacles in their respective lives. 

It is only when they are separated again, by choice to some extent, that both men realize how much they need the other, just when it's nearly too late. The darkness threatens to swallow Cameron whole, and there's no Tyler to pull him back when he needs it the most. The climax of this book did have me at the edge of my seat, even if the ending felt a bit rushed.

Now for the not so good. This was my first book by this author, and the writing style didn't really work for me. It was oftentimes more tell than show, which is a shame, really, because the story itself was well done. But show me what makes your characters tick - don't tell me. 

There was also some slut-shaming inside, which I thought a bit odd, and while I don't know much about UN Aid workers and how things are run there, I was left to wonder if someone diagnosed with severe PTSD, under the supervision of a therapist, would then be sent back to another hellhole with the expectation of performing the job as if the PTSD didn't exist. 

This is a heavy, angsty read, and not the kind of book you take with you for a sunny day on the beach. There's a lot of darkness inside, and both Cameron and Tyler have to fight their way into the light. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. If you like romances that are slow to develop, with a lot of angst, this might be a book for you.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **

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