vrijdag 31 mei 2013

Elle Kennedy – Midnight Rescue

The first book in the Killer Instincts series, published May 1, 2012.
Genre: romantic suspense
Cover: strong

Midnight Rescue photo n389978_zps7c1f3d43.jpg

Dangerous. Ruthless. Savage. And she's the good guy.

Abby Sinclair had a desperate childhood until she was rescued and adopted by a retired army ranger who molded her into a master of self-defense. Now, she's a cunning and fearless assassin thrust into assignment after dangerous assignment, using everything she has-nerve, resilience, strength, sex-to come out on top. Her only rule: trust no one.
Abby's latest assignment is in Columbia. She needs to go undercover and snuff out a dangerous arms dealer active in the underground sex trade. But when Abby purposely blows her cover in a last-ditch attempt to free the helpless victims, deadly mercenary Kane Woodland is recruited as back-up. His mission: get Abby out of that hell hole.
The last thing Kane expects is to feel a primal attraction for Abby. But when she convinces him to join her on her perilous mission, their newfound passion could put the lives of their whole team at risk.

Abby Sinclair has a mission: get close to Columbian crime lord Blanco and kill him. She is a highly trained assassin and chameleon, and has no trouble getting Blanco’s attention and becoming his new mistress. But when she finds out he is selling young girls as sex slaves, she has to postpone the job in order as she wants to safe the girls. And for that, she has to blow her cover. Getting tortured is nothing new to Abby, as she has had a really bad childhood. Until Jeremy saved her from the foster“father” who abused her for years. He trained her to defend herself, and Abby became an expert in the martial arts.
Still, Blanco’s pet psychopath Devlin can’t break her, no matter what he does to her. And when he finally tries to subdue her through rape, she gouges out his eye. Shortly after that, she is rescued, broken and bloody, by Kane Woodland and his team or private trouble shooters. Her boss, Noelle, was worried when she did not check in as scheduled, and hired Jim Morgan and his men to rescue her. As Morgan only hired the best men from each branch of the service after they “retired”, they are the best at what they do.

But Abby does not want to be rescued, not without the girls! Still, there is nothing she can do about it, but convince her rescuers to go back for the girls. And it takes a lot of convincing them to do that. They have lost the element of surprise already, and Blanco will for sure have doubled his security at the least. And Abby herself cannot be part of the mission, as she is a liability with her broken wrist and hurt ribs. This means they need to bring in Isabel, another collegue and friend of Abby’s and Trevor, one of Kane’s teammembers. They both have solid aliases and will have to act as buyers. They should have no problem to work together, if not Trevor has a deathwish, ever since his fiancée died in a burglary of their Aspen condo. And being attracted to Isabel, makes him feel even more guilty.

Abby is safe and recuperating at Morgan’s hidden compound in Mexico, and doing her best to get in on the action. If she cannot join in the rescue, she will for sure help with the planning, and make sure every team member knows it all by heart. Not every team member likes her presence in the house though, D certainly doesn’t trust her. But Kane is the boss when Morgan is gone for business, and he wants her to stay put. And in his bed if possible. He wants to teach her what sex can be, when two adults are attracted to each other. Abby never has had sex because of desire, for her it is just part of the job, she doesn’t feel anything. Kane is not the kind of man who wants a relationship, but there is something about Abby. Even beneath all the wounds and bruises she is a beautiful woman, and he wants her.

And then Devlin figures out who stole Abby out of his prison, and he starts calling her. Threatening her therapist if she doesn’t take his calls. Devlin sure knows how to poke her emotional wounds, and he takes great pleasure into doing so. Kane hates it that Abby won’t just disconnect the calls, but he can’t do anything about it. Abby will have to defeat Devlin on her own terms, and she is totally capable of doing so.

I have to admit, I did not really like this book. I have been on the verge of DNF’íng it a few times. The suspense part of the book was not a very original plot, but that often doesn’t bother me. It is the execution of the action that makes a book good. But in this case I just did not like it. At first, I liked Abby as a kick ass assassin, but her interaction with Kane made her weak. He keeps pushing her for sex, even after he knows about her past and her bad experiences. And I really, really dislike that. He could have handled it more easygoing, giving her more time to get used to feelings. He gets angry when she says no, and that is not a hero thing in my eyes. Why would she trust him, she doesn’t know him!
And then when Kane goes after Abby, which should have been totally unnecessary. I was hoping for a really different outcome of the encounter. Kane was a real jerk.
And then the second sort of romance story between Isabel and Trevor. I liked Isabel, she is great at what she does, she saves Trevor’s bacon a few times by her actions, and he is just a big boar. Still grieving, feeling guilty for not being there but on a mission, and he really does want to die. He won’t take his own life because of his mother and sister, but he thinks it is allright if the bad guys kill him? Feeling guilty for feeling something for Isabel, that I can understand, but getting angry at her about it? Grow a pair and get over it.

So, I did like some parts of the books, but are totally unimpressed with most of it. There were no surprises at all for me. A standard rescue plot, no suspense or thrill at all, and characters I really dislike. Lots of violence and sexscenes.
But, this is my personal opinion of course. This does not mean the book is not well written, as it is. It is nicely paced, but this voice is just not for me. I want a bit more suspense, and less sex scenes. I want to be surprised by even a minor twist, and I do have to like the main characters. Preferably even fall for the hero because of his character and his actions. And for me, Kane is no hero.

5 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 30 mei 2013

Shelly Laurenston – The mane squeeze

The fourth book in the Pride series, published October 27, 2009.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: Paul Marron I presume?

The Mane Squeeze photo n312485_zps61db2d6c.jpg

In Shelly Laurenston's laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously sexy novel, a shape-shifting Grizzly and a single dangerous feline collide - and discover untamed, unstoppable attraction...

Growing up on the tough Philly streets, Gwen O'Neill has learned how to fend for herself. But what is she supposed to do with a nice, suburban Jersey boy in the form of a massive Grizzly shifter? Especially one with a rather unhealthy fetish for honey, moose, and...uh...well, her. Yet despite his menacing ursine growl and four-inch claws, Gwen finds Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie cute and really sweet. He actually watches out for her, protects her, and unlike the rest of her out-of-control family manages not to morbidly embarrass her. Too bad cats don't believe in forever.
At nearly seven feet tall, Lock is used to people responding to him in two ways: screaming and running away. Gwen - half lioness, half tigress, all kick-ass - does neither. She's sexy beyond belief and smart as hell, but she's a born protector. Watching out for the family and friends closest to her but missing the fact that she's being stalked by a murderous enemy who doesn't like hybrids...and absolutely hates Gwen. Lock probably shouldn't get involved, but he will. Why? Because this is Gwen - and no matter what the hissing, roaring, drape destroying feline says about not being ready to settle down, Lock knows he can't simply walk away. Not when she's come to mean absolutely everything to him.

I know, I know, another Shelly Laurenston review already. But those books are perfect for when I am tired. You don’t have to concentrate or think, just read and have fun. I really have to give her G.A. Aiken books another try someday.

And this book I really loved. I liked Gwen from the start, she is half lion, half tiger, also called a tigon. She is Mitch’s little sister (the hero from the previous book) and at the wedding of Jess and Smitty, she meets Lock, a grizzly bear shifter. Hybrids are not really welcome in shifter society, a lot of shifters want to keep the bloodlines pure. And the mixes often look really strange when shifter. Like Blayne, Gwen’s best friend, who is a wolf-dog. For the most part she looks like a wolf, but she has dog ears and feet. And I am dreading to read her story, as she is obnoxiously perky and happy and always smiling. I did meet her briefly in the latest book, Wolf with Benefits, and did not really like her in that one either. She is a major secondary character in this book, as Gwen and Blayne get into business together, as plumbers in New York City. Which means they will have to stay at Brendon Shaw’s hotel, at least until they find a place to live on their own, on which their family has approved.
I absolutely disliked Mitch even more in this book, as he never approves of anything his “little sister” does; he wants her back home at Philly and in their mother’s Pride. He can’t understand that as a tigon, she has never been accepted into the Pride, even though she is a member of the family.

Then there is our hero, Lock. I loved him from the first page. A grizzly bear shifter, huge in human form, enormous in his bear shape. He sure loves his salmon and honey, and he thinks about things, before acting on something. Which is totally new for someone like Gwen, who often jumps to conclusions. I love it when he just take hold of her, when she wants to run off when she misunderstands him. He explains himself to Gwen, and I just love Lock.
His family is strange but nice, and Gwen’s family is just weird and not-nice. And well, bear shifters are exemplary lovers thanks to their versatile lips …
Lock has his future all planned out, just a few more years of making money with software, thanks to Jess, and then he can retire and start woodworking fulltime. For now, it is just a hobby, a passion. But when Gwen finds out, she starts selling his stuff for him, calling him an artist, as he makes the most gorgeous wooden furniture. I enjoyed how she just takes control of Lock and looks after him.

There is a little plot about the bias against hybrids, and bad guys who abduct them for some sort of cage fighting. And what I loved especially, is that it brings Dee Ann Smith back into the thick of things. I enjoy her character, and can’t wait for her book, as Ric Van Holtz is totally in love with her already.

9 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 28 mei 2013

New additions to my addiction

Stapel boeken

Here is a list of the books and bookrelated goodies I received in the last few weeks, some have been read already:

From Bookdepository:
Johanna Lindsey – Let love find you
Sara Humphreys – Undone
Leann Sweeney – The cat, the mill and the murder
Duffy Brown – Killer in Crinolines
J.J. Cook – That old flame of mine
Lynn Viehl – Nightbound
Alyssa Day – The Cursed
Laura Kaye – South of Surrender
Karen Hawkins – How to pursue a Princess
Heather Webber – Absolutely, positively
Heather Webber – Deeply, desperately
Heather Webber – Truly, madly
Heather Webber – Trouble in Bloom
Heather Webber – Weeding out trouble

Signed and dedicated books from some of the authors at LLC2013:
Cherry Adair – Wie ein reissender sog
Annie Burrows – Captain Corcoran’s Hoyden Bride
Annie Burrows – An Earl’s Choice
Annie Burrows – The captain’s convenient wife…
Michelle Styles – His unsuitable Viscountess
Erin McCarthy – The coming dark
Vivian Arend – Black Gold

Secondhand books:
Diane Mott Davidson – Dark Tort
Clive Cussler – Deep Six
Clive Cussler – Black Wind
Clive Cussler – The sea hunters
Amy Myers – Murder at plum’s
Alexander McCall Smith – In the company of Cheerful Ladies
Alexander McCall Smith – Tears of the Giraffe
Georgia Bing - Molly Moon stops the World
Tad Williams - Otherland

For review:
Sara Ramsey – The Marquess who Loved me.

A gift from Melliane:
Seanan McGuire – Rosemary and Rue

Gifts from Sullivan McPig:
Dakota Cassidy – The accidental werewolf
Kerry Schafer – Between

Thank you so much ladies, I really love getting books as presents.

Books I’ve won:
ARC Sabrina Jeffries – What the Duke Desires, from Smexy Books blog
Grace Burrowes – Darius, from Bookgirl of Mur-y-Castell blog, or Blodeuedd.
Jesse Petersen – Married with zombies, signed! From Between Dreams and Reality blog.

From Liz Lipperman, a nice signed bookmark for her new book, Murder for the Halibut.

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 27 mei 2013

Shelly Laurenston – The mane attraction

The third book in the Pride series, published October 28, 2008.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: nice, but as he is a lion shifter, he should have had more hair.

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Even the king of the beasts can find himself unexpectedly tamed by the right woman...
Weddings have the strangest effect on people, how else to explain the fact that Sissy Mae Smith woke up in Mitch Shaw's bed the morning after her brother Bobby Ray tied the knot? Or that gunmen are trying to kill Mitch, and Sissy Mae now has to escort a bleeding, stubborn, yet still incredibly sexy lion shifter to her Tennessee Pack's turf to keep him safe? It doesn’t help that Mitch's appraising gaze makes her feel like the most desirable creature on earth, or that the ultimate stray cat is suddenly acting all kinds of possessive...
Mitch is an undercover cop who’s about to testify against some dangerous ex-associates. Even more worrisome, he's harboring hot, X-rated fantasies about one fast-talking little canine--and he has to deal with every male in Sissy Mae's Pack sniffing around her in a way that makes his hackles rise. Mitch has his pride, and he intends to show Sissy Mae that when a lion sets out to make you his mate, the only thing to do is purr, roll over, and enjoy one hell of a ride...

Hmm how to write a review about this book, that is not a repeat of the other books I have read so far in this series? I did not really like Sissy Mae in the previous books, and now she is the heroine. Sissy Mae and Mitch have been friends for a while now, but Mitch wants more, he wants her as a lover.
I do like her strength, but I also think she gives in too much to this lion. And I really, really dislike Mitch. Mitch is a lion shifter, and he thinks he is entitled to everything he wants. He eats enormous amounts of food, literally eats everything in the house, multiple times, and it is never enough. He doesn’t appreciate Sissy Mae, even though he professes to be in love with her. And he wants to be part of her life, even though he fully intends to go into witness protection after the trial, and leave her and his family behind forever.
Mitch beats up male wolves, because they are talking to Sissy Mae, even though she is more than capable of doing it herself if she wants to. Just because he is jealous. And totally without reason. He even plays ball with the brothers who loathe her, and call her a whore, because he loves to be able to play without holding back for the first time in his life.
Sissy Mae loves to race cars, and Mitch is terrified of that, and of her. I hate that he wants to keep her from doing that. I loved the scene with the shifter version of NASCAR. That was so awesome.

So, there were a lot of fun scenes in this book, and I grew to admire Sissy Mae, though she still has to stand up against her mother. But I also really dislike Mitch, which I realized once I finished the book. He has no redeeming qualities at all in my opinion. And those are not the kind of shifters with fated mates, so Sissy Mae has no choice but falling for him.

But yes, I will read the other books in this series soon, so I can give them back to Maia.

7 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 26 mei 2013

Leann Sweeney – The Cat, the Mill and the Murder

The fifth book in the Cats in Trouble Mystery series, published May 7, 2013.
Genre: cozy mystery with a paranormal twist
Cover: nice

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When cat lover and quilter Jillian Hart volunteers to help a local animal shelter relocate a large colony of feral cats living in an abandoned textile mill, she never expects to find a woman living there as well. Jeannie went missing from Mercy, South Carolina, a decade ago, after her own daughter's disappearance. Folks believed she’d left in search of her runaway daughter, but she’s been hiding in the mill all this time.
Jeannie refuses to leave the mill or abandon her cat, Boots - who died years ago. After all, her job is to protect the premises from “creepers" who come in the night. After Jeannie is taken out on a stretcher following an accident, a body is found concealed in the mill’s old fireplace. As the wheels start turning in Jillian’s mind, she is aided in unearthing a long-kept dark secret by a mysterious new feline friend.

The local textile mill in Mercy, South Carolina, has been abandoned for many years now, and is slowly falling apart. And now, suddenly, two different investor groups have plans for the refurbishing of the old place, and the Mercy Council will have to decide which plan has the most benefit for the town. To find that out, they have hired a young architect to study the mill, and recommend what is needed to convert the old place in condo’s or a mill museum with shops. But first, they will have to relocate the colony of feral cats living in the place.

And so Dustin Gray, the architect, is taking Shawn Cuddahee, the owner of the local animal shelter and Jillian Hart on a tour through the mill. They need to find out how many cats are living in the old place, and how best to distribute the cages to catch them. Shawn is really no people person, so he has asked Jillian to help out. As she loves cats, and helps out as a volunteer at the animal shelter more often, Jillian has agreed. Plus, as she has a degree in textile arts, she is very curious about the inside of the old mill.

But they don’t find just some feral cats inside, they find an old homeless woman in one of the offices, and she refuses to leave. She has to protect the holy place. Jillian does feel a connection to the woman, and the woman does answer her questions, while ignoring the men. Jillian is determined to find out more about this woman, Jeannie, who seems to have been living in the mill for many years now, and to find her a real home. And so she asks Candace, her best friend and a local deputy, some questions. She will also ask her relations if they have a place for Jeannie. And when she finds out Jeannie’s story, it really is a sad one. Jeannie her parents worked in the mill, and as Jeannie was not so bright, she did some easy jobs there as well. And one day she got pregnant, and got a sweet bright baby girl, everyone loved. But when Kay Ellen disappeared one day, every one though she had just run away. And deputy Morris, who was in charge of the case back then, though so as well. He did little to find out what really happened, as he never got any answers or clues that might point to something else, more sinister. So when Jeannie one day stopped harassing him, and disappeared as well, case closed. After all, adults are free to leave as they please, and there was no one left to file a missing person’s form.

The next day, Jillian revisits the old mill with Candace, to ask some more questions of Jeannie, and to persuade her to leave this place. But when they find Jeannie with a broken hip, there is no choice for Jeannie but to go to the hospital. But she only agrees when Jillian helps explaining her what will happen to her, and promises to be there for her. But when they find the remains of a body, hidden in the room where Jeannie was living, everything changes. The old mill becomes a crime scene, and the two groups of investors are getting upset. They want to know what is happening inside, and why they suddenly can’t go on a tour of the mill.

Jillian and Candace are determined to find help for Jeannie, as she needs to have some therapy after her hip surgery, and are very glad to find Jeannie’s old minister and his wife willing to take her in. They are appalled that they never suspected she was living in the old mill, so close to the parish. Then a new murder finds place, and Jeannie’s old case is becoming less important. After all, the Mercy PD is not big enough to handle two murder cases at the same time. And so Jillian, with the help of her stepdaughter Kara, and her boyfriend Tom, start investigating some leads on their own, determined to find out the truth. And Jillian gets some help from an unsuspected source as well, which creeps her out at first, but is also a big help and a comfort when needed.

Wow, this sure is an emotional cozy mystery. It is not as light-hearted and fun as most, and I was really feeling for Jeannie. The murderer was not so difficult to figure out, but that is perhaps because I read so many of them. Still, the why was very intriguing, all the twists in this story kept me second guessing a few times.

Morris sure is feeling bad that he handled the case of Kay Ellen so badly; especially when it comes to light she might have had a boyfriend after all. And he really tries to make it up, and asks Jillian to help him question some new leads. There is a real gap between the “mill village people” and the people living in the town of Mercy itself, and that is a cultural thing I as a not US citizen cannot understand at all. Sort of living on the wrong side of the tracks. But it is explained very well, and feels real and important.

There are plenty of suspects in this book, and it really is a case of feeling entitled and arrogance. Not caring about any one else (who are beneath you anyway) but yourself and what you want.

As usual, I do love the updates to Jillian’s private life. Her boyfriend Tom, and their growing relationship. Then there is Kara, her stepdaughter, who is settling into her life in Mercy well, and of course Candace. Candace who wants to do her job by the book, handling things scientifically, always careful of the evidence. She tends to be blunt and direct, and Jillian has a mellowing effect on her. And of course the three cats (or four this time?) are great secondary characters as well, comforting Jillian when necessary, but also scolding her if she has too little time for them.

Leann Sweeney has a very nice writing style. The story is very well paced, with some action, and then a moment of rest for Jillian, doing her quilting thing, and spending time with her cats. It reads very easily, and I do love all her main characters. Reading a cozy mystery series is like visiting good friends, and catching up on their lives of the last few months. And Leann is a master in that, without having to rehash everything that happened before, you are never lost.

I am looking forward to the next book in this series, especially after the last sentence of this book … which is a fun sort of cliffhanger.

10 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 25 mei 2013

Michelle Styles – To marry a matchmaker

A novel, published November 30, 2011.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: I like the color

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Lady Henrietta Thorndike hides her lonely heart behind playing cupid - some might accuse her of interfering, but she prefers to think of it as improving other people's lives! But Robert Montemorcy knows it has to stop - his ward has just fled from a compromising situation in London, and the last thing she needs is to be embroiled in Henri’s compulsive matchmaking! He bets Henri that she won’t be able to resist meddling… only to lose his own heart into the bargain!

Lady Henrietta Thorndike really enjoys helping people. She has completely organized the social life of the small village she is living in with her aunt, and is very smug about the wedding that has just taken place. After all, she saw that those two lonely people were right for each other, and contrived for them to have some time together, to get to know each other, even though they have been neighbours for many years. She has managed every tiny detail of the ceremony and celebrations, as no one else is qualified to do so.
Henri is 26 years old, but has been a widow for 10 years. She truly loved her late husband, and thinks their marriage was perfection, and has no intention of ever marrying again. Who can compete with her Edward? Also, her mother thought her that other peoples needs were always more important than her own, and so she keeps busy on behalf of her neighbours.

But Robert Montemorcy dislikes her meddling into other peoples lives intensely. He has been burned by women before, as has his father, so he has no intention of marrying himself. His young ward, the daughter of his best friend, is coming to live with him for a while, as she has almost been seduced by a fortune hunter. Who also happens to be Henri’s no-good cousin Sebastian. Robert knows that Henri wants to believe in the good in Sebastian, but he knows that there is nothing there. Sebastian is a gambler and a womanizer, and only interested in his Sophie for her fortune. Sebastian’s mother, Henri’s aunt, also can’t see her son as he truly is, and he won’t have Henri matchmaking for his ward.

And so Robert proposes a wager to Henri, something she cannot refuse at all. If she can cease her meddling ways for a month, he will let her aunt do some archaeological excavations on the land he bought from them (to pay for Sebastian’s debts). And he will dance with her at the ball next month … but if Henri fails, her forfeit will cost her and her reputation dearly.

But the next day, Henri, on her way to call on Robert’s ward and her stepmother, as a good neighbour should do to welcome them to the village, is attacked by a dog. Henri is terrified by dogs, so she just lies there until Robert comes to her rescue. She cannot possibly walk home as her ankle is severely bruised, and her leg needs tending. And so Henri ends up under Robert’s roof for the next few weeks. She can’t help but notice how attractive Robert is, and she grows to like Sophie a lot. She even wants to prevent a match between Sophie and Sebastian as she can see they are totally unfit as a couple. Robert even takes some of her advice to heart!

But what can become of two people determined never to marry (again), and Henri who doesn’t want to ruin her pristine reputation?

Well, this sure is a different and refreshing kind of historical romance. If you are bored by debutants and ton parties and intrigue, try one of Michelle Styles’ historical romances.

I have to admit, I did have some difficulties with Henri. She really switches her thinking and actions around very quickly. Being stubborn one moment, and giving in to Robert the next. Still, she is a good person, and her upbringing really did damage her inside, as in not caring for herself first even when necessary. She does see things clearly, and does give some good advice to Sophie on how to handle her cousin Sebastian. And I absolutely loved the fact that Sophie listened and brought the frying pan with her … and used it!

Robert comes across as strict and unbending, he wants things done logically and scientifically, he really does not believe in feminine instincts. He does want Henri in his bed, but he won’t seduce her when she says no, but he also doesn’t give up easily. And when he finally realises her wants to marry her, it is not easy to persuade her to say yes.

I have to admit to really disliking Sebastian, who is a real cad and totally amoral selfish person, who doesn’t care whom he hurts, as long as he gets what he wants and feels entitles too. After all, he is a Lord!

Michelle Styles has such a nice writing style, it flows nicely, and it has a subtle humor I appreciate. I do recommend her books, especially if you need to relax after some heavier books.

8 stars.

I received this signed book from the author for review. And while you are reading this, I am at the Love Letter Convention 2013 in Berlin, Germany, and chatting with Michelle Styles.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 24 mei 2013

Shelly Laurenston – The beast in him

The second book in the Pride series published April 1, 2008
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: slowly getting better

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In The Mane Event, Shelly Laurenston introduced a whole new breed of heroes - sexy, shape-shifting hunks who redefine the term Alpha male. Now, in THE BEAST IN HIM, one gorgeous lone wolf is about to meet his match...
Some things are so worth waiting for. Like the moment when Jessica Ward "accidentally" bumps into Bobby Ray Smith and shows him just how far she's come since high school. Back then, Jess's gangly limbs and bruised heart turned to jelly any time Smitty's "all the better to ravish you with" body came near her. So, some things haven't changed. Except now Jess is a success on her own terms. And she can enjoy a romp - or twenty - with a big, bad wolf and walk away. Easy.
The sexy, polished CEO who hires Smitty's security firm might be a million miles from the lovable geek he knew, but her kiss, her touch, is every bit as hot as he imagined. Jess was never the kind to ask for help, and she doesn't want it now, not even with someone targeting her Pack. But Smitty's not going to turn tail and run. Not before proving that their sheet-scorching animal lust is only the start of something even wilder...

I was tired last week, so I just grabbed another Shelly Laurenston book to relax with. These books are just a lot of fun and a lot of sex, and a little story. And when I am in the mood for something simple, I really enjoy these.
A new breed is introduced in this book, the wild dogs. And they are certainly very different from a pack of wolves. Especially as this pack exists mainly of a bunch of geeks with their own software company and lots of money. Like our heroine Jessica Ward, most of them grew up lonely, and she made them into a pack, with her as the Alpha female. Jessica, or as Smitty keeps calling her, Jessy Ann, is really protective of her pack. They work and live together, and raise their precious pups together, as well as an abandoned wolf pup (who is now 17).

Jessica grew up with the Smith pack in Tennessee, and she was tortured for many years by the she-wolves. Smitty tried to protect her as much as he could, especially from his sister, but he did leave to join the army when he turned 18, leaving Jessy behind. Jessy had to defend herself after that, and when she really hurt her biggest enemy, she left Smithtown. Now she has made a good life for herself and for her pack. She knew when she hired the new shifter security agency to do security on her annual event, that she would be meeting Smitty again. Of course she did extensive research on this new company!
But Smitty was totally flabbergasted when he saw his childhood friend again, and he wanted her. No other woman could tempt him, and when a wolf wants something, he will make sure he gets it.

Jessica really holds her own against her old nemesis, to Smitty’s surprise. But she is Alpha of her own pack, and she will not give in to a bunch of she-wolves trespassing on her land. I liked that in her, and those arrogant wolves deserved what they got, and then some. I just think she should have made Smitty work harder to get her. Of course, her own pack members think Smitty is just what she needs in her non-existent love life, as they are not happy with the male dogs who are sniffing after Jessica.

I loved geeky Jessica and her geeky pack members. Those dogs sure love their dark chocolate! They were fun to read about, and I loved how Jessie even got Smitty to play, which is so beneath a wolf’s status. Smitty’s parents are truly frightening though, and I love how they stand up for her.

A fun read, and yes, it can easily be read as a stand alone.

8 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 23 mei 2013

Kim Harrison – Once Dead, Twice Shy

The first book in the Madison Avery series, published June 1, 2009.
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Cover: nice

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My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

Madison's prom was killer - literally. Now, thanks to a mysterious amulet, she’s stuck on Earth: dead, but not gone. She has no idea why the dark reaper who did her in was after her, but she’s not about to just sit around and let fate take its course. With a little skilled light bending, the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys … maybe), her cute crush, and o yeah, her guardian angel, Madison’s ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.
Well, if she believed in that stuff.

I love Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, so when I found out she was writing a YA series; I just had to try them too. I don’t read all that many YA, but when one of my favourite authors tries her hand at it, I want to read it. And I am very glad that I am not disappointed, as I really enjoyed this book. So I am happy that I have the next two on my shelves already.

Madison should be enjoying her summer vacation, but some weeks ago she died. Or rather, her body died, but thanks to a strange amulet she pulled from her killer’s neck, her soul survived. And the amulet provides it with something just like her body. No one knows what has really happened, as this is not something that has happened before. So now Barnabas, the guy who should have prevented the dark reaper from killing her, is training her to be a light reaper, protecting souls from being killed by dark reapers because they will be, or might possibly, be changing history in a bad way somewhere in the future. Barnabas was late, as Madison was killed just a few minutes after her 17th birthday, when she left the prom with a gorgeous stranger.
But so far, her training is useless, she cannot seem to learn to talk with Barnabas in her thoughts alone. And that is one of the basic powers a reaper should have. Barnabas is getting impatient, but the time keeper has ordered him to stay with her. So when Barnabas gets a new assignment to protect someone, Madison has to go with him, or Barnabas will have to fail in his mission, again.
The dark wings are gathering, but it is still not clear who the target is. A group of young people are heading to the docks for some waterskiing, and they invite Barnabas and Madison along, as they need spotters. They divide up over two boats, boys in one and girls in the other one. Barnabas thinks he knows who the target will be, and at first it seems he is right, but then Madison has to prevent the dark slayer from killing one of the girls in her boat. And while she succeeds, and the dark slayer escapes, things are not going as planned. Barnabas will have to alter some memories, but that does not always work as it should. They just saw too much.

And what’s more, the dark reaper, Nakita, recognized the amulet Madison is wearing as belonging to Kairos. Kairos is not an ordinary dark reaper either; he is the dark time keeper. So why would he reap a soul himself? It is not his job to do that.

After reporting everything to Ron, the light time keeper, he promises to talk to the seraphs and arranges for Madison to have a guardian angel, who will keep her safe from Kairos.

While walking her bike back home, as it has a flat tire, Madison comes upon Josh, the boy she went to the prom with. She really likes him, but as the date has been arranged by their fathers, it was doomed from the start. But Josh offers her a lift to the bike repair shop, and Madison accepts. Kairos knows who Josh is, and he will use him to track down Madison to get his amulet back, and to finish the kill. Of course Josh doesn’t believe anything Madison tells him, even if she explains that the nightmares he is having about her, are no dreams, but what really happened to her. But when the dark wings go after Josh (looking to normal people like crows), and Kairos shows up, Josh has no choice but to believe Madison. So how is she going to keep them both safe? Her guardian angel can only protect one of them at the time, so they will have to stay close together, while Madison learns how to use her amulet’s powers.

The more answers they get, the more questions arise, and nothing is as it seems anymore.

It did take me a while to understand what was going on, as you are just “dumped” into Madison’s life, or death. The book starts with some action, and bit by bit you learn about what happened to Madison, and why.

I liked Madison, she doesn’t whine about what happened to her, although she really wants to be alive again and live a normal teenage life. But she doesn’t give up, and fights when necessary. It is not easy for her to deceive her father, but it is necessary. Madison does grow, and she also accepts that she has to get over the things that made her mother ship her to her father, and made her act out so much. She has a new life now, a new purpose.

I am looking very much forward to the next book, and how Madison and her new friends will cope with life at Highschool, and saving people. It is very hard to tell if light or dark is evil or good in this book, and I like that.

8,5 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 22 mei 2013

Debbie Macomber – The marriage risk

The second book in the Midnight Sons series, published in 1995.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: blah

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The mostly male population of Hard Luck, Alaska, is about the swell – because the O’Halloran brothers, who run a bush-plane charter service called Midnight Sons, have launched a campaign to bring women to their hometown.

Charles O’Halloran falls hard for Lanni Caldwell. Though he’s not the marrying kind, she might just convince him to risk taking the leap. Then he discovers she’s the granddaughter of the woman who destroyed his parent’s marriage.

After I enjoyed the first book, Brides for Brothers, I was really looking forward to reading Charles’ story. And I did not even have to search for the book, as I have the duology with both stories in it.

Sawyer O’Halloran has finally caved, and asked Catherine Fletcher’s daughter if he could rent Catherine’s house. Catherine is not aging well, and is living in a home now in Anchorage. She will probably never return to Hard Luck. So Lanni Caldwell has come to Hard Luck to clear out her grandmother’s house. She has a few weeks to spare, as she will start her internship at the Anchorage news paper in a few weeks. Lanni has fond memories about visiting her grandmother at Hard Luck. And she doesn’t mind helping out at Midnight Sons now Sawyer is busy planning his wedding, and their new receptionist/assistant has been delayed. What she does not count on, is to fall hard for a total stranger, Charles O’Halloran.

Charles doesn’t know what hits him, the moment he lays eyes on Lanni Caldwell, he is smitten. He has never been in love before, and he really does not recognize the feeling. But the feeling of jealousy against the man who is accompanying her, is instantaneous. He wants to be the one walking besides her! Charles just thinks she is his brothers’ assistant, and asks her out into the wilderness with him. There is such an instant connection and attraction between them.
But when Catherine’s secret comes out, at his brother’s wedding, and Charles sees how hurt his mother is by this, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with Lanni anymore. Yes, he did tell her he loved her, but his mother’s happiness is more important to him, than his own. Lanni is hurt very much by this, and she doesn’t want to accept it is over between them, but Charles leaves her no choice.

Both Lanni and Charles are hurting, and even Lanni’s brother tries to bring them back together. But only his mother can mend the rift between them, as she is the only one who knows what really happened, and why David married her, instead of the girl who was waiting for him back home in Alaska during WWII.

I enjoyed this book a lot, the emotions between all the characters just feel so real, it was like witnessing it firsthand. Lanni is 10 years younger than Charles, and he has some trouble with that, but Lanni really has not. When she finally founds out everything about the “feud” between her grandmother and the O’Hallorans she feels that her grandmother is the wronged party, and not the O’Hallorans. So why can’t Charles get over it? They are not their parents or grandparents!
Charles is in love for the first time. Thanks to the example of his parents’ disastrous marriage, he never was interested in finding a wife of his own. So when he fell for Lanni, he fell hard and fast. But he loves his mother, and he wants her to be happy, so he thinks he has to give up Lanni, or she will keep reminding his mother of those bad years. Yes, he sure is stubborn.

I am looking forward to reading more Debbie Macomber books (I do have dozens!) as they are just sweet contemporary romances that make you happy. This story is easy to read and well written, and you just have to fall for the scenery and the characters. Of course there is some catching up with the first couple, as their wedding is celebrated in this book, and I enjoyed that very much.

8 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 21 mei 2013

Maya Banks – Never love a Highlander

The third book in the Highlander series, published October 25, 2011.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: good

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Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of erotic romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance, has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. In Never Love a Highlander, the youngest McCabe brother uses sword and seduction to save his clan - and seal his heart.

Caelen McCabe's young, reckless heart nearly destroyed his clan. Now, putting family loyalty above all else, he steps up to marry his older brother's jilted bride and salvage the uneasy alliance between two clans. While beautiful Rionna McDonald is a fit wife for any man, Caelen trusts no woman, especially not this sweet temptress who torments him with white-hot longing.
As the sacrificial lamb in her father's power game, Rionna will do her duty but vows to protect her heart and her pride from humiliation. Despite everything, though, the heat in Caelen's touch melts her defences, and she craves the sensual delights of a husband who guards his emotions as fiercely as his clan. But when the ultimate battle for the McCabe legacy is upon them, Rionna's true warrior spirit emerges. She will risk the wrath of her father, the fury of her enemies, and her life to prove to Caelen that his wife's love is too precious to lose.

Finally the day is there for Rionna to be married. Not to Ewan McCabe, who fell in love with Mairin, and not to Alaric, who fell in love with her best friend and cousin Keeley, but to the youngest brother and the fiercest warrior: Caelen. It is not a love match, but necessary to unite the McCabe clan and the McDonalds to their mutual enemy Duncan Cameron. The King approves of the match, and Rionna’s worthless father is dismissed as Laird of the McDonalds, with Caelen taking over.
Of course her father won’t take that lying down; all he ever cared for was his own pleasure and comfort, not the wellbeing of his clan. And in the middle of the night after Rionna is married, he sneaks out of McCabe Keep, taking many of his men with him. Men Caelen can’t miss if he is to defend the McDonald clan and Keep sufficiently. They are a lazy lot, and it will take a lot to teach and train them. But come spring, the three McCabe brothers and their neighbours and allies will wage ware on Duncan Cameron.

Rionna is not a typical lass; to be safe from her father’s lecherous ways, she disguised her feminity, and learned how to fight like a warrior. And truth be told, she is better than most of her father’s warriors. But Caelen does not want her to fight, she will be his wife, and she will learn how to be a good wife and do her wifely duties. But while Caelen is out hunting with some of the warriors, Rionna is attacked by Duncan Cameron’s men, and beaten severely. As a warning to her husband. If only she had been armed, she could have defended herself! Caelen reluctantly agrees, and he will train her himself. And he will not go easy on her! The clan still does not really accept Caelen as their new laird, it was a decision from the King, and they were not there when it happened, they had no say in it. Sure, their old laird was a bad one, he has ruined the clan to the point of poverty, but Caelen is not a McDonald. Caelen will get the warriors under his control, or he won’t be able to trust them in the coming war. Even if he has to fight all of them single handedly …

But when the battle is upon them, it is Rionna who saves the day …

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and read it in 4 hours. Maya Banks is such a great storyteller. Her characters are so alive and likable, and of course the lovescenes are smoking. Still, there is no instalove in this book, it takes a while for Rionna and Caelen to trust and fall in love with each other. Rionna is a virgin; she has never been kissed before, and has no idea what to do in the marriage bed. She is also afraid of Caelen, as she was of his brothers.
And Caelen has been married before, but his wife betrayed him and his clan, causing the destruction of the McCabe Keep, and the death of his father and many clansmen. So he is determined never again to entrust a woman with his heart.
I really liked Rionna, she has no choice to marry a McCabe to ensure the safety of her clan, and she is willing to do her duty. And when Caelen forbids her to fight or dress like a men, she is upset and angry at first, but she is also realistic and willing to give it a try. She makes Caelen rethink what he really wants in his wife.
Caelen is strong and protective, and determined to do his duty to his clan and family, they need this treaty. He never expected to be laird to a clan himself, being the third brother. He is a fierce warrior, but a fair man. Their story is not easy, but they are just meant for each other.

9 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 20 mei 2013

Amanda Bonilla – Crave the Darkness

The third book in the Shaede Assassin series, published March 5, 2013.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: great.

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Nothing comes easy for Darian. Her heightened powers make her indispensable to the Shaede Nation, but dangerous missions have driven her lover, Tyler, to his breaking point. Darian must salvage their bond, but a new assignment to protect Anya - a fellow Shaede and the first of their kind to become pregnant in centuries - stands in the way.
It doesn't help that the two Shaedes are longtime rivals and share nothing besides mutual hatred. But when it becomes clear that someone - or something - is bent on destroying the expectant mother and her unborn child, Darian must put her feelings aside and track down Anya's would-be assassin.
As she probes into Anya's past, Darian digs up long-buried secrets - and a startling connection between Tyler and the mission that could destroy everything between them....

Tyler has been gone from Darian’s life for over 3 months, and she is still a wreck, grieving and missing him like crazy. Her flat is a mess, she doesn’t eat, she seeks solace in a bottle of bourbon, and there is dirty laundry and food boxes everywhere. Raif thinks it is time for an intervention, and he sneakily sends his brother, Xander, the Shaede King, to get Darian back on her feet. Xander cajoles her into getting up and dressed, as he has an assignment for her.

When she gets to Xander’s residence an hour later, she is appalled at the assignment. She is to guard Anya? Doesn’t he know they loath each other? Surely there is someone else who can do this? And moving into his home seems inevitable for the assignment, which might be a good idea for the moment. Getting rid of all the painful reminders of Tyler, that are still in her apartment. Raif tells her she has to choose a securityteam, as the threat against the pregnant Anya is very real. Someone shot at her lost week, and Anya refuses to stay imprisoned in the house for the full year of her pregnancy. Anya claims not to have a clue who is after her, but she is clearly lying. She does ask Darian to protect her husband Dimitri instead.

When the bad guy keeps finding them when they are escorting Anya, Darian knows she will have to get Anya to talk, before there are more casualties. He clearly doesn’t care about innocent bystanders. But he also is not in a hurry to kill Anya, he could have done so easily if he wanted to. No, he wants to torment Anya first. When Raif cannot find the answers, Darian turns to her trusted informants again. And when she also gets an assignment through Tyler’s minion, she is devastated. Why did he not contact her himself? After lots of thinking, she decides to visit him, and her heart breaks again when the door is answered by the most beautiful woman she has ever laid eyes on. Apparently Tyler has moved on …

Xander immediately tries to take advantage of her week moments, to get her into his bed. And in her weekend state, Darian is so very close to giving in to him. It should be a good feeling to get back at Tyler, right? Luckily, Raif interrupts just in time, and Darian has to rush out.

When she finally finds out more about the threat to Anya, the race begins on how to fight him, and how to safe Tyler’s friend in the process. Darian also has trouble with some members of her team, who don’t seem to like her orders very much. There is just no time for her to get a grip on her feelings and emotions.

A great third book in this series, I really enjoyed reading it. I only stopped and went to bed when Darian was on the verge of making the biggest mistake in her life. I really did not want to read that scene. Yes, I confess, I absolutely hate Xander. He might be very handsome and charming and the Shaede King, but he is an asshole. Spoiled and determined to get what ever he wants, and that is Darian in his bed, and how she gets there is not important. He claims to love her, to need her, to want her. Well, only the want part is true in my opinion.
I am totally irritated with Anya, for expecting Darian to fall at Xander’s feet and worship him, and be happy that he wants her in his bed. With an attitude like that, it is no wonder Xander is such a spoiled ass, thinking he is entitled to everything he wants. I hope that Darian keeps standing up to him and his manipulative ways.

I did like the fact that Darian and Anya got a little bit closer together, more understanding between them. But really, she needs to open her eyes to her King’s real character. I think Raif would be a much better person to be King. Okay, done with my ranting now.

The plot was great, the powers of the enemy amazing, and that last battle really had some gross things in it. I do hope that Darian starts listening to Tyler though, and not jumping to conclusions. That Jinn is totally in love with her, and she needs to believe herself worthy of that love. Of course she has made mistakes, but well, he could have told her some things straight on. There was plenty of action in this book, and I do love the interaction between Raif and Darian. One almost love scene, and some very tense moments. Yes, love hurts.

I am looking forward to the next book in this series, and recommend it to all lovers of Urban Fantasy.

9 stars.

A blogger made me buy itAutobuy author

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 19 mei 2013

Kari Lee Townsend – Trouble in the Tarot

The third book in the Fortune Teller Mystery series, published March 5, 2013.
Genre: psychic cozy mystery
Cover: love it.

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For psychic Sunshine Meadows, sometimes fortunes can be deceiving . . .

Lately Sunny has been experiencing a period of big opportunity: her business in Divinity, New York, is thriving, and Detective Mitch Stone has finally agreed to take Sunny on a date. But thanks to her clairvoyant abilities, Sunny knows better than anyone that life deals out bad cards along with the good.
When Sunny agrees to read tarot cards at the annual Summer Solstice Carnival, she meets her Granny Gert's "arch nemesis" Fiona Atwater, and is overcome by a vision of Fiona in a violent argument. Sunny knows trouble is brewing when Granny and Fiona start having squabbles all over town. But the fighting comes to a head when a local baker gets run over by a big white Cadillac - and Granny and Fiona are found at the crime scene.
Sunny knows she should step aside and let Mitch handle the investigating, but she's not about to ignore her visions and leave her granny's life in fate's hands . . .

Sunny has agreed to be the fortune teller at the Summer Solstice Carnival, a weeklong event for charity, organised by the local Sewing Sisters. Sunny’s Granny Gert is a member of the Sewing Sisters, so how could she refuse the request? So instead of doing the readings in her own Victorian house she called Vicky, she is doing tarot readings in the park’s gazebo. With her cat Morty as moral encouragement.

Her first customer of the day is a very vibrant older lady, about her Granny’s age, but she could not be more different. Granny Gert dresses very oldfashioned, she makes her own aprons out of flower sacks, as she lived through the depression. Even though she has more than enough money, she still turns every penny around. Nothing is wasted when Granny Gert is around. But this lady, Fiona Atwater, dresses like a modern woman, with a nice hairdo. She wants to have an adventure and asks Sunny if that is in the cards for her. But Sunny does not see a lot of positive things in the cards in the future for Fiona; she appears to have an enemy who really has it in for her. Envision her surprise when Granny Gert happens to be that person! Apparently they once were great friends, until they both fell in love with the same man, and Frank chose Gert. Ever since, they have been rivals. And now the Sewing Sisters are about to engage in battle with Fiona and her Knitting Nana’s!

Whose crafts bring the highest price, and especially, who can bake the most delicious goods! And when Fiona sees that Gert has a soft spot for Captain Walker, the battle is on. They have to fight and make a scene where ever they meet, and in a small village, that is way too often. Sunny is totally done with it; she doesn’t even recognize her sweet Granny anymore.

And when both Fiona and Gert are the prime suspects in the murder of their main competitor for the bakery contest and for Captain Walker’s attentions, Sunny really is done with them. She needs to call her mother, who is one of the best defense lawyers in the country, to come and get her own mother out of jail. And to her horror, both Gert and Fiona are sentenced to house arrest in her house! They even get ankle bracelets! The bickering doesn’t stop for 5 minutes and Sunny is fed up with so. So even though she is not supposed to get involved in the murder investigation, she wants this over, and fast! So when her prospective boyfriend and police detective doesn’t want to share with her, she will start investigating on her own.

This is a real funny cozy mystery series, with a paranormal twist, especially in the form of Morty, Sunny’s cat. I really want to find out more about Morty, and I am very happy that he had a bigger part in this book.
I like Sunny, she knows what she wants, and she goes after it. Although she is a bit insecure about Mitch, as their dates keep getting interrupted, she seriously wants to give it their relationship a try. Mitch, or as she calls him, Grumpy Pants, has a lot to learn about women and relationships, as he keeps offending Sunny and her psychic powers. But I think this time Morty does convince him there is more going on.

The mystery plot was a convoluted one, with multiple criminal things going on. One involving an animal shelter, the chosen charity for the fair, and I am very happy with how that issue was resolved.

This is a fun cozy mystery series, the main characters sure are unique and quirky and lovable. Except for Sunny’s parents, I really don’t like them. I am very much looking forward to the next book in this series.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian