Review: Opposite Forces by Adrienne Giordano

The Particulars: Romantic Suspense, Carina Press, available as e-book.

The Grade: C+

The Source: Purchased at Kobo
The Blurb:

Jackson Lynx always has a plan. He wouldn’t be Vice President at Taylor Security if he wasn’t steady, smart and reliable. But as capable as he is, he’s not perfect. Approaching the one-year anniversary of kicking his prescription-drug habit, the last thing Lynx needs is temptation. Celibacy is part of his recovery plan. But then Jillian Murdoch asks for his help…

Jillian loves her job–managing pharmaceutical distribution–and she’s suspicious when an unscheduled delivery shows up late on a Friday night. Then someone breaks into her home and, terrified, she asks Lynx to install a security system. Grateful for his help, she’s wary of her attraction to him… She recognizes the Serenity Prayer on his mirror and can’t get involved with an addict.

But when they uncover dangerous secrets they’ll have to trust one another. Their lives, and their hearts, depend on it.

The review:

The two Adrienne Giordano novels I have read so far, have been a hit and miss for me. I loved Relentless Pursuit, and struggled with Man Law, but when Carina Press offered this for 2.99 I decided to buy it. And even if not everything in the book worked for me, I am glad I did.

Lynx and Jillian were both down to earth persons. I liked that their journey from casual friends to something more showed both their internal struggle and why they struggled. I liked that Lynx was determinded to not fall of the wagon, even if he struggled every day with his addiction. Jillian on the other hand knew the dangers of living with an addicted person. I’ll admit that there were times when I wondered if they would end up together or not.

The suspense part was what kept me reading, long into the night. The stakes gradually increased, as they figured out what was going on. As they tried to figure out what happened, the bad guys became more and more desperate to stop them. One thing I liked, was that both Jillian and Lynx played an important part in discovering what was going on. Sometimes when I read Romantic Suspense, it feels like that the heroine’s sole purpose in the book is to be pretty. Not in this book. Jillian was stubborn, and refused to let the bad guys win. And I cheered her on for that decision.

The biggest problem I had with this book was that while I liked the characters, I didn’t feel any romantic spark between them. To be fair, this isn’t necessarily the book’s fault but something I often struggle with when it comes to Romantic Suspense.

ARC Review: Throne of Oak by Dana Marie Bell

The Particulars: Paranormal Romance, Carina Press, available as e-book

The Source: Net Galley
The Grade: C+
The Blurb:
Vampire Dragos Ibanescu, Mayor of Maggie’s Grove, is about to lose his mind. His mate, the dryad queen Mina Chainey, refuses to have anything to do with him after her ordeal at the hands of an evil witch. If he doesn’t mate with her soon, he may lose control of the beast within him—a force far more dangerous than anyone in town knows…

Mina’s nightmares of her time with the witch haunt her. The Queen of the Forest can’t muster the strength needed to fight her terror. Unable to leave the Throne, she vows she will not accept Dragos until she can stand at his side as an equal. But the nightmares are only growing in strength, and soon she realizes that there’s more to her pain than simple fear.

Dark forces are converging on Maggie’s Grove, and a horde of hunters stalk supernaturals from the shadows. Only by uniting in body and mind will Mina and Dragos find the strength to defend their home.

The Review:
I have been waiting for this book ever since I read Blood of the Maple, so when I saw the galley at Netgalley I requested it on the spot. I must admit that I have mixed feelings after reading it, though. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as good as her other novels and novellas.
It was nice to revisit Maggie’s Grove. I liked how Ms Bell revealed more and more of Dragos background through the novel. It was also intresting to find out how the Dryad rulers lived and what a dryad could do.
The main characters was intresting. It was fascinating to get know them, and to find out how the past had scarred them. I liked that both of them were strong leaders, but they weren’t invincible.
It was also intresting to see the interaction between Dragos and the other leaders of Maggies Grove. I was amazed at how patient Dragos could be sometimes. Sure, he had a temper, and he let it loose when it was needed. But he showed a lot of restraint.
The big weakness for me was the plot. Or rather the first quarter or so. It felt very… jumpy. It jumped in time. One week here, one week there. And as a result, I struggled with  feeling the romance between Dragos and Mina. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them a lot and I apprecitated that both of them had their own problems to face that propelled the plot forward. But when it came to romance I was more intrested in the romance between Eddy and his mate.

ARC Review:Pooka in my pantry by RL Naquin

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Carina Press, available as e-book
The Source:  Review copy, courtesy of the author
The Grade: B-
The Blurb:
Zoey Donovan—empath, wedding planner, go-to girl for monsters with personal problems—has been marked twice for pickup by Death. On both occasions, Riley the smoking-hot reaper has refused to follow through. For his breach of protocol, Riley is now on probation. For her refusal to die on schedule, Zoey’s right to live is challenged. She will have to undergo a life-or-death trial, but she won’t know when or where it will happen…
Staying alive might not be so difficult if the Leprechaun Mafia hadn’t strolled into town. Now every business owner with the slightest connection to the supernatural community is being threatened with the most appalling bad luck if they don’t pay up. Mirrors are smashed, bodies are dropping, and Zoey’s still got clients waiting for fabric samples.

With a little luck, she might be able to save everyone and still have time for a second attempt at a decent first date with her favorite reaper.

The review:
I read and liked the first book in the series, so when I got the chance to read an arc, I took it.

In this book, the author took the world she introduced in Monster in my closet to another layer. I liked how she deftly revealed the existence of both Mafia and the governing system. Both elements made sense, since no society is without crime.

Zoe was her normal cheery, helpful self in this book. I loved reading about her adventures as she faced down the Leprachaun Mafia ( I loved that idea, an refreshing twist) as they caused havoc in the city and adjusted to the fact that she was an Aegis. I also liked how her empathy gift was tied into something that she had no idea existed.

I also liked seeing Zoe taking tentiative steps with her relationship with Riley. Their dates were charming, but not with out their troubles.

The plot was filled with unexpected twists, that took me by surprise. Yet they made sense once they had occurred. The different subplots were interconnected, and helped making Zoe’s life much harder. In fact, a couple of times I wondered if Zoe would survive.

That said, the thing that I missed in this book was a feeling of increased tension, that the scenes were building towards a confrontation with the bad guys.

Review: Man Law by Adrienne Giordano

The Particulars: Romantic Suspense, Carina Press, available as e-book
The Source: Books on Board
The Grade: C-
The Blurb:
Security Consultant Vic Andrews lives by his Man Laws:

Never mess with your best friend’s sister
Never get caught
Never get attached
 But he can’t deny his irresistible attraction to Gina Delgado, a young widow with three kids and plenty of strings attached. Even so, having a physical relationship doesn’t mean they’re “in a relationship.”

Gina lost her husband to tragedy; she is not getting emotionally involved with another man in a dangerous profession. Sleeping with Vic is just stress relief.
Until one of Vic’s assignments goes wrong and the target selects Gina and her kids for revenge. There’s nothing Vic won’t do to protect Gina and the children–the family he realizes, too late, he wants. He’ll accomplish his mission but will he have lost his only chance at true love?

The Review:
Ever since I read and loved Relentless Pursuit last summer, I have wanted to read more books by Adrienne Giordano. I was in the mood for action packed romantic suspense, so I decided to buy this book.
The Chicago setting was believable, from the Taylor security offices, to the house were Gina lived. The other settings also felt believable.
The plot was fast paced, and filled with action. It was interesting to follow Vic as he worked through his worries and fear that Sirhan would find him. It was interesting following how Vic and his friends searched for Sirhan, and how they reacted to the threat.
In the middle of this, Vic and Gina also worked through their issues, and their friends opinions. Gina’s reluctance to start a relationship, especially with someone that was in the military consultant business, made sense to me. I enjoyed following the developement of Gina’s and Vic’s relationship, and how it gradually developed from a fling into a real relationship.
The biggest problem I had with this, was connecting with the characters. I cannot pin point why, exactly. Maybe it was because despite the threats, it never felt as if anything was at stake. Not really.

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.

Book Recommendation: Rogue’s Pawn by Jeffe Kennedy

Haunted by nightmares of a black dog, sick to death of my mind-numbing career and heart-numbing fiancé, I impulsively walked out of my life—and fell into Faerie. Terrified, fascinated, I discover I possess a power I can’t control: my wishes come true. After an all-too-real attack by the animal from my dreams, I wake to find myself the captive of the seductive and ruthless fae lord Rogue. In return for my rescue, he demands an extravagant price—my firstborn child, which he intends to sire himself…

With no hope of escaping this world, I must learn to harness my magic and build a new life despite the perils—including my own inexplicable and debilitating desire for Rogue. I swear I will never submit to his demands, no matter what erotic torment he subjects me to…

This cover piqued my interest on Carina Press webpage, and the blurb is intriguing enough to make me want to read it. 

Review: One More Summer by Liz Flaherty

The Particulars: Contemporary Romance, Carina Press, ebook.

The Particulars: Contemporary Romance, available as e-book

The source: Purchased at Books on board
The Grade: A
The blurb:
Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father’s prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.
But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants: Promise, Grace’s best friend since kindergarten, who’s fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn’t lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet, gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.
And Dillon, Grace’s brother’s best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace’s guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts—but first, he’ll have to convince Grace that she’s worth loving.

The review:

This book… I am not sure how to describe it.  According to Carina Press, it is a contemporary romance. Which is true, there are romance, several in fact, but there are so much more in it.
There are the old hurts between Dillon and Gwen.  There are the on and off again relationship between Promise and Stephen. There are the mature love between Jonah and Maxie.   The relationships are shadowed by old hurts,  guilt, and secrets.

I’ll admit it. I went teary eyed  several times when I read this book.   
My heart went soft when Dillon and Gwen started to rebuild their relationship.  I wept when the secrets were revealed, all of them. But most of all, I cheered when Gwen started to regain her confidence, and believe that maybe, just maybe, her father had been wrong. 
I understood Dillon’s fury. I wanted to strangle her father too, for being a cruel insensitive bastard. Yet, during the book it was explained why he hated Gwen so much.

The novel takes place in a small town. The sense of community were a red thread through the book, both through happy and sad times.  I loved the story telling times, especially the Magpie stories.  Just.. aw.  Sometimes, the setting felt so real that I could feel the sweltering summer of Tennessee.  I  could almost see the Elliot House in front of me.

I cannot find anything to pick on when it comes to this book. Except for one thing. I regret that this book is published by Carina Press since it deserve to be read  a wide audience, no matter if they read e-books or not.  I am crossing my fingers that I’ll read a similar announcement for this book, as the one I read for Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski series.

Review: The Sergant’s Lady by Susanna Fraser

The Sergeant's LadyThe Sergeant’s Lady by Susanna Fraser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Particulars: Historical Romance, Carina Press, e-book.

The Review:
The blurb:

Highborn Anna Arrington has been “following the drum,” obeying the wishes of her cold, controlling cavalry officer husband. When he dies, all she wants is to leave life with Wellington’s army in Spain behind her and go home to her family’s castle in Scotland.

Sergeant Will Atkins ran away from home to join the army in a fit of boyish enthusiasm. He is a natural born soldier, popular with officers and men alike, uncommonly brave and chivalrous, and educated and well-read despite his common birth.

As Anna journeys home with a convoy of wounded soldiers, she forms an unlikely friendship with Will. When the convoy is ambushed and their fellow soldiers captured, they become fugitives—together. The attraction between them is strong—but even if they can escape the threat of death at the hands of the French, is love strong enough to bridge the gap between a viscount’s daughter and an innkeeper’s son?

My impressions:
I picked up this last year, when Kobo had offered selected Carina Press titles for 0.99. For a number of reasons, I didn’t get around to read it until now. This book is on many levels a complex story about survival and second changes. The characters suffers through the whole novel. Even when they are in camp, there is some sort of trouble. The plot is gripping, and with unexpected plottwists. But what I really loved with this book is the settings. I love how the setting is described in a blunt honest way. The dangers with being on the trail, in enemy land, isn’t hidden. But, despite the plotting, and setting which is good I felt that the characters were lacking. Oh, they weren’t bad. They were flawed, but I didn’t feel that they grew. Or maybe it was there and I didn’t discover it.

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Free e-books from Carina Press

This week, Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital first arm, is having a campaign this week.  They issue a coupon, valid for one day, $0 at checkout. The good thing is that the e-books are DRM free .

Mon 6/20
The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady

Tues 6/21
Demon’s Fall by Karalynn Lee
Coupon code: DEMONFREE

Wed 6/22
The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell
Coupon code: TWISTEDFREE

Thurs 6/23
Blue Galaxy by Diane Dooley
Coupon code: GALAXYFREE

Fri 6/24
Friendly Fire by Megan Hart

Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

Steam & SorcerySteam & Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Book: Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

The Particulars: Steampunk, Carina Press, available as e-book

Why was it in my TBR? I got this one from Netgalley. The cover caught my attention

The Review:

The blurb:
Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess. Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met—and out of reach for a mere governess. When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…

My impressions:
I must admit, I am weak for romance novels were a strong woman meets a man with orphaned children. Toss in steampunk and magic, and I has too read it. This was one of the first ARCs I requested from NetGalley. And I am glad I did. Cindy Spencer Pape have created a fascinating world, that houses magic, tech and monsters. I liked that the world was nuanced, and that she didn’t hesitate to show the uglier sides. The uglier sides have affected the characters, and that also affect the plot. The steampunk elements were light, but important to the plot.
I fell in love with the characters. All of them, even Edwin Berry. The children were depicted as children and not mini adults. I liked the way Caroline handled them. But I especially liked the growing romance between Merrick and Caroline. Both of them are aware of their attraction, but determined to fight it.
The plot was fast paced, and sucked me in. The combination of plot, world and characters was good enough to make me ignore some of the less than subtle hints. But, it is a well written story, in a fascinating world. I am looking forward to the next book in the Series.

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