This is book #2, in the Kiss And Make Up series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader enjoyment, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading this series in order.
Cecelia & Matthew met under less than ideal circumstances. Now, with the tension between them obvious to anyone nearby, Cecelia is basically outnumbered. She just needs to lean to trust him and maybe there is something there.
Matthew has found Cecelia a hot woman since they met. He has done everything to basically get her attention - both good and bad. He wants a real future, so now he is giving it his all.
This was such a great addition to the series! I loved and devoured each page. Is a really great series with characters that are fun to read about. Their stories are very humorous and heartfelt. I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!
***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.
If I had bothered to read a few reviews of this book before I got it things would have ended better. So for that, I will admit fault. This book features a love triangle, which I haven't been a fan of for a few years now. It didn't help how small the universe the author created felt. The lore and the wolves self-inflicted seclusion from the rest of the town was a bit weird.
Mina wasn't the brightest crayon in the box. There were times when I started questioning her common sense and self-preservation instincts.
**Spoiler** The hardest pill to swallow was when she knew, for a fact, that a few of Alec's friends were up to no good and that it involved endangering werewolves and she still made it a point to be around them.**End Of Spoiler**
Another thing I found weird was her overprotectiveness towards her sister. It would come up out of nowhere with no justification for it and would never lead to anything. Her inner monologue was, at times, too descriptive and detailed for me.
Alec was an average guy with an average life. I didn't feel the chemistry between him and Mina. The worst part of him were his friends, which seemed to only be around to make him look better in comparison. They felt very stereotypical and one dimensional.
Eli was mysterious and warmed up to me throughout the story. Though, I didn't understand why he insisted on giving alcohol to a minor. I also didn't see what he saw in Mina. There was never any real spark between them unless they coincidentally happened to be alone somewhere.
The ending felt off. There were a few major problems presented in this novel, but the only one that got solved was the obvious one that you can deduce from the cover and length of this still growing series alone. Overall, this felt like half a story and I'm not sure I'm invested enough to want to read the next book in this series.
The Audio Book:
The audio narration isn't great. It's slow and full of longer than needed pauses. This is the second book I read sped up because I couldn't stand the pauses. The narrator has maybe 2 voice intonations for women and 2 for men. There's not much distinction when there are more than 3 people having a conversation. Overall, the narrator didn't help with my apprehension of the story after I figured out that it featured a love triangle.
"Blood Kissed" follows Lizzie Grace, a psychic descended from witches who runs a café in small-town Australia. There's a nasty vampire on the loose, a werewolf cop who doesn't trust witches, and Belle, Lizzie's peppy familiar (unusually, a human and Lizzie's BFF). A lawyer employs Lizzie to find her missing daughter, who, as is revealed in the first chapter, ran off with the vampire.
I read through this book fairly rapidly – it's not very long – and though it wasn't terrible, I wasn't thrilled, either. The author sets up a fair bit of world-building for the series in large chunks in the first few chapters. There's differences between psychics and witches, wild magic, and some particular noble witch families. But for all the talk about Lizzie's potential for witch power, said witches don't make much of an appearance. Because her familiar Belle is a witch, Lizzie can channel plenty of witch magic through her throughout the book, and she can ultimately tap into wild magic, rendering her I'm-only-a-psychic protestations of the first few chapters a distinction without a difference. (To be fair, fans of the book say there are witches coming to town in the sequel, so all the world-building may pay off there.)
The Australian setting had me excited, since I haven't seen an urban fantasy set there before, but the scenery is barely mentioned, and the characters' turns of phrase sound as if they could come straight from the modern USA. In my head, I tried adding Steve Irwin's accent to all the dialogue, which made the experience better, but one would expect at least a few colloquialisms unique to the area. I was hoping the setting would inform the magic and the feel of the place, like Mexico City in Silvia Moreno-Garcia's "Certain Dark Things," but alas, no. (Again, I am told the sequels improve upon this.)
The chapter style tired me out a little; they're long, and moments where the protagonist gets some sleep or otherwise jumps forward in time is no guarantee that a new chapter will start. As such, I found myself getting irritated that the protagonist just kept going, selling brownies at her café or working on enchantments when I wanted to finish a chapter. It made me want to skip paragraphs even when the writing was interesting.
As for the mystery (don't all urban fantasies require one?) and the villain, I didn't find it memorable. The villain's motivation sounds like a creature of great power seriously angered by a pretty banal evil. Yes, evil often is, but I was waiting for the psychic protagonist to have some visceral flashback to that time, making us feel the horror and injustice that started its path down a dark road, but I don't recall reading that scene. It made me expect a villainous monologue, but I don't remember getting one of those, either. What I did get was lots of descriptions of magic, with only a few of them evoking fear or wonder. Most of them are caught up in explaining why someone or something is an exception to the rules, because there's a lot of exceptions (protagonist, sidekick, antagonist, spell, power source, etc.).
Well, that's plenty of complaints, but all this is not to say the book is terrible. Lizzie and Belle are charming and easy to relate to. Their telepathy is a useful narrative device that provides constant insight into their characters. (Who hasn't had the thought of "Hey, nice butt," when you should be listening to the words coming out of someone's mouth, yet you'd never admit it to someone who wasn't reading your thoughts?) The action is reasonably convincing, as is the threat from the villain. The protagonists and villains aren't stupid. Sure, some side characters are, but when the main ones walk into traps, it's because they don't have a lot of better options.
I'm giving this one 2.5 stars out of 5 using the Goodreads rating system. That's where 2 stars is "It was okay," and 3 stars is a definitive "I liked it." I picked it up on Kindle at a pretty low price and was satisfied for what it was. It's competent and plenty of my urban fantasy fan friends are more positive about the book than I am, so of course your mileage may vary. I just wanted this kiss to have a little more teeth.
Isabel "Stan" Stanley is a 30-something author of children's books that has tried her best to avoid romantic entanglements all her adult life. They tend to complicate things too much. Add to that her strict Baptist upbringing and her mother who sees it as her duty to marry Stan off, and regards one of her necessary chores to play matchmaker for Stan and men who Stan has nothing in common with. On the way home from choir practice one evening, while driving through a hail of gunfire, a mysterious stranger comes through her sunroof who evidently has been shot. He passes out and she has to take him to her vet to get medical attention because the guilty gunmen seem to be waiting for their victim at the hospital. This new, mysterious stranger is very handsome and just does not fit the profile of a bad guy, even though Kelvin Kapone (with a K) has just dove through a plate glass window being shot at and is now bleeding all over the inside of her car.
As each day goes by, she can't quite figure him out-- is he a good guy she should be interested in or a bad one to avoid?-- because, ever since that first extraordinary meeting diving into her car, every day someone has tried to kill her, and he must be somehow connected. A mysterious plot unravels, that seems to involve people in the community she knows that have connections she would have never guessed, and seems to involve espionage, terrorism, the CIA and ex-in-laws.
I laughed out loud many times in the book-- author Pauline Baird Jones' sense of humor and style of writing is very enjoyable. I would recommend this book to any who enjoy romantic comedies and romantic suspense as well as a fun mystery. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review-- thank you!