Review: Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend

The Particulars:  Paranormal Romance, Samhain Publishing, available in Print  and as e-book.
The Source: Purchased at All romance. 
The Grade: B+
The blurb: 
Talk about getting your signals crossed…
Robyn Maxwell doesn’t care that her brother has to cancel out on their backcountry ski trip. She can do it alone. The fact she’s deaf doesn’t make her survival skills any weaker. The chance to get away from it all and relax in the Yukon wilderness is just what she’s been craving.
Meeting wilderness guide Keil at the cabin starts cravings of another kind. Keil’s one hot hunk of ripped, tasty male. Now she has to deal with raging hormones as well as strange questions about wolves and mates and challenges to the death. Keil was trying for a nice reflective retreat before challenging for the Alpha position of his Alaskan pack. He wasn’t planning on meeting the woman destined to be his mate, or finding out she’s not aware she has the genes of a wolf.
Between dealing with his accident-prone younger brother, a deaf mate with an attitude and an impending duel to the death, his week—and his bed—is suddenly full.
Far from the relaxing getaway any of them had in mind…
Warning: Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘talking with your hands.’ Includes dangerous use of sarcasm and hot nookie in a remote wilderness sauna.

The review:

I love Vivian Arend’s Granite Wolves series, and  I have been intending to review them for awhile.
It was a delight to re-visit the pack again.  

The setting in wilderness at the border between Alaska and Yukon felt believable.  I could almost feel the cold air, hear the sound of skis flying over the snow covered lake.  And it felt utterly logical that there was a werewolf pack in the area.  

Normally, I don’t like instant love, but Ms Arend managed to make Robyn and Keil’s romance feel very believable. Part of the reason was that she allowed them to get to know each other before making love.  Another part was that she gave Robyn time to adjust to the fact that werewolves existed.

I loved the banter between Keil and TJ, although Keil wished TJ wasn’t there occassionally.  

I just wish it had been a bit longer, but that’s the greedy reader in me. LOL!

Friday Bargains: Free and cheap

 Redwall by Brian Jacques is available for  0.99 at Amazon and BN. This is a classic YA book. I re-read Mossflower ( I think) recently, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The Claybourne brides by Julie Garwood is available for 0.99 at all the major stores.  ( I have read mixed reviews about this one. Some loves the books, some doesn’t.)

Dana Marie Bell’s amazing Blood of the Maple is discounted to 2.99 at Amazon   ( And other stores, but I am lazy.)

A hint of frost by Hailey Edwards is still free at Amazon, BN, and Samhain.

ARC Review: Blood Winter by Diana Pharaoh Francis:

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Pocket, available in print and e-book
The Source: ARC from the author.
The Grade: B-

The Blurb:

Max always does her job, no matter how brutal and bloody. That’s how it’s been ever since she was enslaved by a witch, turned into a supernatural warrior, and assigned to protect the coven of Horngate. But her job just got harder. . . .
Waves of wild magic have returned much of the world to a time when fairy tales were real and danger now lurks behind every tree and bush. As winter descends and food, heat, and water are harder to come by, many have turned to Benjamin Sterling for protection. Leader of the Earth’s Last Stand cult, Sterling claims to be the Hand of God, but his power and charisma secretly come from a dark and terrible source. With devout followers eager to do his sadistic bidding, he has his eyes on Horngate and its magical inhabitants. To save those she loves, Max will knowingly walk into a trap. But when the cult strips Max’s soul bare for all to see, will even Alexander—her lover and her strength—remain? And if she were to lose him, what does it matter if she gains the whole world. . . .

The Review:
This review is a bit late, since Diana Pharoah Francis was kind enough to ship the book from the States. It was well worth the wait. This is the latest book in the Horngate series, and while it stands reasonably alone, I though think you will get more out of it if you have read the first three books beforehand.
The world was believable in the way it described the new normal. Both for Horngate, and how the Sunspears and the Shadowblades need for calories strained their limits. I admired the ingenious ways they had created to main the infrastructure in the Covenstead, from heat sources to water sources. This was a contrast from the way people outside the Covenstead lived. They were scrambling for resources, and to survive the winter. In many ways, this shows how vulnerable our society is and how much we depend on oil.
The plot was gripping. I kept on reading, wondering when Max would break beneath the strain of responsibility and losing friends. But she didn’t, she kept soldiering on struggling to figure out how to defeat Sterling, and how to wake up the angels. Despite all the bleakness in the book, it ends with a feeling of hope. That things might be tough, but they will survive. And, if this is the last book in the series, it feels like all the loose threads are wrapped up.
 I enjoyed the banter between Max and Tyler, but also the more serious discussions between Thor and Alexander. That said, I had some trouble connecting with the characters.  Part of the reason was the feeling that all the non magical inhabitants behaved like spoiled children, not seeing the danger they put themselves and Horngate in.  

ARC Review: Haunted Sanctuary by Moira Rogers

The Particulars: Paranormal Romance, Samhain publishing, available as e-book

The Source: ARC from the Author
The Grade: B+
The Blurb:
 Eden Green can’t remember a time she didn’t believe in monsters—her cousin was born one. Her family’s dark past casts a long shadow, making it hard to make friends and harder to commit to a lover. She lives a quiet life in small-town Clover, Tennessee, but she’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Tired of the city packs’ corruption, yet too alpha to be a subordinate in a sanctuary town, Jay Ancheta satisfies his need to protect by serving as Clover’s Chief of Police. As much as he’s drawn to Eden, he can’t offer forever to a woman who doesn’t know what he is—or trust himself to let her go after one taste.
When Eden’s cousin and his battered pack stagger into town, their tormentors hard on their heels, Eden is bitten in the chaos. Now Jay not only has a traumatized pack to deal with, but a newly turned wolf with enough hungry alpha power to consume them both.
With their combined strength, they can create a new sanctuary—if their passion can survive the ghosts of the Green family’s legacy.
Warning: Contains a newly turned werewolf heroine who enjoys a little rough dominance in bed and a badass alpha wolf hero who’ll fight bad guys, ghosts and even the past to protect what’s his. Be prepared for violence, death and heartbreak on the way to a happily ever after.
The Review:
I loved Moira Rogers Red Rock Pass series, so when Moira Rogers offered ARCs for this one, I requested it on the spot. And I am glad I did.
This was a sizzling, yet heart wrenching paranormal romance, set in small rural town that felt believable. I enjoyed the nuances in small town life, which made it feel believable. One factor that I liked was the historic feel of the farm were the pack settled. There were also hint of other things,more darker events, through the book which was a touch that I appreciated .
While the focus on this book was Jay and Eden, their romance was heavily intertwined with the apperance of Zach and his werewolf friends. The pack brought with them a lot of problems, which felt logical. But, I liked how they were determinded to create a better life, and everyone pitched in.
Eden and Jay had been attracted to each other for a long time, and I liked how their allowed their casual friendship develop into something more, despite the chaos their life turn into.The plot gripped me from the start, and the feeling of danger kept creeping higher and higher until it reached the breaking plot.  I loved how the pack dealed with the final confrontation with their enemies.  It was the perfect, and logical, sollution.   
The problem with all that tension was that it overshadowed Jay and Eden’s relationship at the end of the book. Not much, but enough for me to notice it.

Ten Days of Yule Review:Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes

The Particulars: Historical Romance, Sourcebooks, available in print and as e-book
The Source: Discover a new love
The Grade: C+
The Blurb:
No one would ever guess that Lady Louisa, the most reserved of the Duke of Moreland’s daughters, had published a book of racy poems under a pseydonym on a dare. Before she can buy and destroy all of the copies, a dastardly fortune hunter seeks to compromise her reputation by revealing her secret identity at a holiday ball.

Before she can be publicly ruined, close family friend Sir Joseph Carrington saves the day by offering to marry Louisa. As he recites poetry to her, waltzes with her by starlight, and showers her with lovely kisses, they both begin to discover that their match may be the best Christmas gift either has ever received..

The Review:
Grace Burrowes are one of my favorite authors, so when this was one of the picks at Discover a New Love I snapped it up.
This was a sweet romance. Both Joseph and Louisa felt very believable, and down to earth.
Both of them felt slightly out of place at the balls and the soarees that the rest of the Ton felt at home with. The descriptions of felt believable, from the way some males prefered the billiard room, to the polite chatter that could hide so many things. As the story went on, their romance developed. It was a slow romance, but I enjoyed it. They showed their feelings in a thousand different ways.
Both of them had secrets, and I enjoyed as the secrets were gradually revealed, as both of them seperately, started to get an inkling of that something was wrong. It was touching, when their relationship reached the point that they trusted each other to reveal their secrets.
The biggest part I had with this book was that it lacked… tension. Oh, the sexual tension was there, but considering the blackmail threat, I missed the feeling of a suspense regarding to who it was, and what would happen.

On my to be read list: December

Mikaela’s bookshelf: to-read

0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

Angels of Darkness
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

0 of 5 stars true
tagged: library-books and to-read

0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

Blood Winter
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

The Night Circus
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

Steel's Edge
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

Goddess with a Blade
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

Wicked Games
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

Mr. Real
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

The Lion of Cairo
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read

The Queen's Bastard
0 of 5 stars true
tagged: to-read
Share book reviews and ratings with Mikaela, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

ARC review:Rocky Mountain Angel by Vivian Arend

The Particulars: Contemporary Romance, Samhain Publishing, available as e-book.
The Source: ARC from the authour
The Grade: B
The Blurb:

Allison Parker needs a convincing excuse to come home to Rocky Mountain House. A hopelessly romantic reason that won’t let her mother suspect the truth—that Allison has discovered Mom is keeping a terrible secret from the family.
Gabe Coleman is struggling with two of the roughest parts of ranching: dealing with his bull-headed mule of a father, and making enough to pay the bills. When his old friend Allison offers to help him develop his ideas for organic ranching—in trade for pretending to be her fiancé—it sounds like the perfect set-up.
Yet the deception leads them in an unexpected direction, where their shared daily hells are erased by nights of heavenly distraction. It’s not supposed to be real, but once the gates are opened, there’s no denying they’ve found in each other a little bit of Paradise.
To break free of the past and face the future, though, will take more than temporary pleasures. It’ll take putting their hearts on the line.
Warning: Tortured hero with a guardian-angel complex, grief-stricken heroine willing to sacrifice everything for family. Break out the tissues, this trip to the ranch is a heartbreaker on the way to the HEA.

The Review:
I have wanted to read this ever since Vivian Arend posted a snippet at her blog, so when she offered ARCs, I requested one. And I am glad I did.
This was a touching and heart warming story. I liked how Allison and Gabe let things take time, and didn’t rush anything. But while they took their time, they were always there for each other when they had had a rough day. And there was plenty of those.
But most of all, I loved how their relationship with their families were depicted. Both the good and bad sides. And it was touching to follow Allison’s struggle with her mother’s decline. Yet, the love she felt for her mother shone through.
Like all Vivian Arend’s books the setting play a big role. In this case it was evident the characters love for the outdoors are evident. But I also liked that it was that farming is hard, and that it often is a struggle to make ends meet. 
While I liked this book a lot, it had some issues that keeps me from give it an A. The biggest issue for me was that the spark between Allison and Gabe kept flickering. Sometimes I felt it, sometimes I didn’t. I also wished that some of Gabe’s decisions and struggles had been shown more clearly, instead of being mentioned off hand.

Review: Ten Ruby Trick by Julia Knight

Ten Ruby Trick by Julia Knight:

The Particulars: Fantasy Romance, Carina Press, available as e-book
The Grade: B+
The Source: Kobo.
The Blurb:
Privateer Van Gast thrills in capturing treasure; delights in pulling off elaborate scams; and has an outrageous reputation with the ladies. But there is only one woman for him: fellow privateer Josie—seductive, brave and unpredictable. He’s hoping to make their relationship permanent, until he raids the wrong ship. Now slavers are stalking him, his crew is verging on mutiny and Josie has disappeared.
When she reappears with a new mark wanting Van Gast’s help running the ten ruby trick con, he senses trouble. It seems like Josie has joined up with mage-bound slavers to turn him over to their Master. Van Gast is about to take he biggest risk of all— and find out the true meaning of trust and betrayal.

The Review:

This book languished unread, until Carina Press offered the sequel at a discount this summer. And I decided to read this one first. I am glad I read it, and yes, I snapped up the sequel as well.

 The world was detailed, and felt very believable. I loved the nuances in this book. From the Pirates, and their sense of honor, to the crystal covered mages and the harsh hands of their rule.

The characters were both strong, yet at the same time they were deliciously flawed. I loved Josie for her courage, and Van Gast for his determination to figure out what was wrong. The other pirates were charming, but they weren’t perfect. They had temper, and they showed it.
The plot was fast paced, and filled with twists. What I liked was that the twists were the result of Van Gast’s actions. And while the Mages gave me the creeps, I loved the fact that the villain’s motivation made sense.
The only thing I wished was different, was that I missed Josie’s POV. The whole story was told for Van Gast’s or Holden’s POV which was both refreshing, and felt a bit odd.

Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Ace, available in print and as e-book

 The Source: The Bookshelf
The Grade: B+ 
The blurb:

Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

The Review:
I was a bit hesitant to re-read this book, since I have had a bit of bad luck when it comes to re-reads recently. In the end, I am glad I re-read it.

What I like with Patricia Briggs novels is the detailed worldbuilding, and how she can take something and give it a fresh twist. This book, and the rest of the Mercy Thompson series, are no exception. This book focused on the werewolves, but I liked how she introduced the other factions in the world, both vampires and fae. I liked how the werewolves in the US were ruled by the Marrok, and how he kept a firm but benevolent grip on the reins. It felt right, somehow.

Despite the fact that I vaguely remembered what happened, I couldn’t stop reading. I held my breath, from the moment Mercy met Mac, to her search for Jessie and Adam. The plot moved at break neck pace, and I loved how the stakes gradually increased as Mercy and her friends they tried to figure out who was behind this. I’ll admit that there was times when I wondered if they would figure out who the villain was in time. 

Meeting the characters again felt like meeting old friends. I liked that Mercy a lot. She had a core of strength and confidence. And while she defied Adam a lot, she also knew how to handle werewolves, and when to keep quiet. I also liked her loyalty to her friends, and how she was prepared to do anything for them. 

I couldn’t find anything bad, the only thing that keeps it from getting an A is that I felt it lacked that something.

* The blurb is from the UK edition, since I couldn’t find a proper blurb for the US edition online. Which drove me nuts. I hate when all I can find is a three line blurb.

Out of Print reviews: Alien Taste by Wen Spencer

The Particulars: Science Fiction, Roc, out of print but available as e-book
The Source: The Book shelf
The Grade: B
The Blurb:
Ukiah Oregon and his senior partner, Max Bennett, are summoned by the police to the home of four college students. Three of the coeds have been hacked to pieces and the fourth is missing, presumed kidnapped into the nearby Schenley Park. Wired for sight, sound and global position, Ukiah starts the desperate search for the missing woman. Deep in the dark rainy woods, he finds her – insane, armed and deadly. His fight for his life marks his entry into a secret war between aliens.

The Review:

I picked uo this on a whim, since I was in the mood for something that wasn’t romance or fantasy. And this fit the bill.

The science fiction element in this one starts small, but it grows as the stakes rises. It was fascinating to follow how Ukiah gradually discovers his own past and his father’s people. I really liked how the Pack clung on to their humanity, while the Ontogard didn’t even try.  The Pittsburgh was so believable that it sometimes elt like I was in Pittsburgh, walking next to Ukiah as he tracked down the missing woman.

The plot was fast paced, and filled with action. I really liked that when you started to think that Ukiah couldn’t get in more danger something else happened that increased the danger. It was interesting to follow how he reacted to the increased danger. I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have been as calm as he was.  I also really liked that he paid a price when he got injured.   

Another interesting aspect was how Ukiah interacted with his friends and family in the book.  I loved how Ukiah showed his love to his mothers and sister. It wasn’t that he spoke the words, but he worried about their safety, and made sure he was there for them. Then there was Max and the history they shared, and how that had cemented their friendship.
I also appreciated that Ukiah looked through Indigo’s hard outer shell, and appreciated her ability to focus.
That said, I felt that the romance between Ukiah and Indigo happened too fast.They met, and 10 hours later they made love to each other for the first time. Their romance is sweet, but it would have been nice if they moved a bit slower.