Dec 15, 2014

Taking a Break

While I haven't had time to write full reviews for a bit, I have still been reading plenty of books and will continue to post my ratings to Goodreads! Check out my page to see what new books I've enjoyed.

A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell (Sons of Sin #2)

A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell 
Genre: Historical Romance
Bottom Line: A much lighter romance than some of Campbell's other works. This witty and sensual story is my favorite of her books so far.

Sons of Sin
1.   Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed
1.5 Days of Rakes and Roses
2.   A Rake's Midnight Kiss
3.   What a Duke Dares


Synopsis (Goodreads):


It Takes A Lady

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett knows how to keep a secret. Her identity as the author of her father's academic articles has always been her greatest deception—until a charming housebreaker tries to steal the mysterious Harmsworth Jewel from her. She doesn't reveal that she recognizes her father's devastatingly handsome new student as the thief himself. For Genevieve, this will be the most seductive secret of all...

To Catch A Thief

Sir Richard Harmsworth has been living a lie, maintaining a rakish fa├žade to show society that he doesn't care about his status as a bastard. Yet long haunted by his unknown father's identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will confirm his claim as the rightful heir. But when Richard sets out to seduce the bookworm who possesses the stone, he instead falls for its beautiful owner. But even as she steals Richard's heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure.


My Thoughts:

All of Campbell's books I've read so far have been quite dark and angsty, but this one was definitely on the lighter side. And I really enjoyed it. The characters were still tortured by their place in society, with Robert bearing the name of a bastard and Genevieve struggling to make a name for herself in academia. Of course there was still evil afoot, but overall, I actually felt really happy after reading this one! This was not the most original plot...a witty bluestocking, a misunderstood rake, lies and deception. We've seen it all before, but I think with Campbell's mixture of seriousness and sensuality that she adds to her plots, this was a pretty captivating story.

I loved the interplay between Genevieve and Robert. Genevieve was a strong, independent woman who would never give in to a man's seduction...except Robert had a ridiculous amount of charm. I mean honestly, Genevieve didn't stand a chance, and she knew it from the start. Instead of being unbelievable, I found their early interactions pretty humorous. While Robert did have to coax Genevieve to accept the connection between them, their passion was pretty darn steamy as I've come to expect from Campbell's romances. I especially enjoyed seeing how the love between Genevieve and Robert became more important to both than their need to prove themselves to society. It was truly a beautifully written romance.

This story is probably my favorite of Campbell's (so far, at least). It still has that hint of darkness with her deplorable villains, but the romance was just so uplifting. The characters were fun and witty and helped to balance out the darker parts, and I found myself smiling more often than not throughout this book.   

Rating: 9

Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads Anna Campbell

The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #2)

The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Bottom Line: A good continuation of the first book, but lacked an exciting plot of its own.

The Elemental Trilogy
1.  The Burning Sky
2.  The Perilous Sea


Synopsis (Goodreads):

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.



My Thoughts:

The first thing I thought when I started this book was "did I miss a book or something?" Thomas starts this story off with Iola and Titus in the middle of the Sahara desert with no recollection of each other or how they got there. The book then continues on alternating between Iola and Titus making their way through Atlantis' traps in the desert, and the events at Eton leading up to the desert. I am definitely not a huge fan of timeline hopping stories, and it was definitely a shock after the first book which followed a logical time sequence. But while it was a bit too much for my tired mind to comprehend at first (I think it was 2 AM when I started this), I don't think the skipping was too detrimental to the story.

This story was, as expected, a continuation of Titus and Iola's adventures from the previous story. Unfortunately, it wasn't much more than a continuation, as there was no real separate plot for this book. Now don't misunderstand...there were a lot of important things that happened in this story. Titus' prophesies nearly ruin everything, Atlantis continues to make moves against Titus and Iola, and some surprising allies reveal themselves. But overall, this story seemed to be just a link between the last story and the final book (which is expected in about a YEAR by the way... I am not patient enough for this). Overall, this had a lot of the merits of the first book, but I had to wait for the last 10% or so of the story for most of the action.

Rating: 7


Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads Sherry Thomas

Nov 6, 2014

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #1)

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Bottom Line: This story has a well developed magic system with some very strong characters and a very sweet romance. 

The Elemental Trilogy
1.  The Burning Sky
2.  The Perilous Sea


Synopsis (Goodreads):

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.



My Thoughts:

I'm ashamed to say it, but sometimes I forget how great a book can be without dirty, passionate romance. This book was absolutely wonderful. As the first YA book I've read in several months, I must say I really enjoyed the innocence of this story.  The romance (while certainly not the main plot) was really adorable, and the action was exciting and a little whimsical.

I thought the magic system in this story was well thought out while still being fairly original. The magic realm was separate from the human realm, but overlapping in some locations, allowing mages to travel between both realms. There are magical creatures, instant teleportation spells (super handy), and some really useful enchanted training books. If some aspects of this magic system are a bit too convenient, I'm willing to let it slide, because I feel that everything worked well with Thomas' plot.

Prince Titus and Iolanthe were brought together by Titus' mother's prophesies, and the plot is primarily driven by these prophesies. While it was a little annoying how strongly Titus held too his mother's visions, I think it was a necessary character flaw. It was interesting to consider whether Titus would give up the prophesies as his trust in Iolanthe grew. The relationship between Titus and Iola was fun and sweet. Titus generally played the part of the lovesick puppy, while Iola was all business, but it actually didn't get overly obnoxious. Their developing relationship fit in nicely with the much more important saving-the-world parts of the story.




Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads | Sherry Thomas

Nov 3, 2014

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath (Lost Lords of Pembrook #3)

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath
Genre: Historical Romance
Bottom Line: A perfect conclusion to the trilogy. The relationship between Rafe and Evelyn was developed beautifully. 

Lost Lords of Pembrook
1.   She Tempts the Duke
2.   Lord of Temptation
2.5 Deck the Halls with Love
3.   Lord of Wicked Intentions


Synopsis (Goodreads):


Only one woman can break through his heart of stone...

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright...

Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taught him to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he sets his eyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, and earl's illegitimate daughter, he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress.

After her father's death, Evelyn Chambers never imagined she would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstances give her little choice except to accept the lord's indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldness belies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his, Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrook is hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroy them both until unexpected love guides the last lost lord home.



My Thoughts:

This was the ending to the series I had been hoping for. Rafe was by far the most emotionally damaged of the "Lost Lords" after spending his childhood abandoned by his family in a workhouse, working in the mines, and falling into the brutal business of surviving in the streets of London. On top of this, Rafe never forgave his brothers for leaving him. I happened to read Courtney Milan's Unraveled (which I also recommend) the week before this book, and while they are certainly different stories, the plots share some similarities, so I had to struggle to keep the plots from jumbling together in my mind.

Evelyn was honestly the perfect woman for Rafe. I am so happy Heath paired these two together in this story. Evelyn was an illegitimate daughter of an Earl, and while her father always sheltered her from the scrutiny of society, she learns after his death that life for an illegitimate child is not as easy without a protector. Evelyn's step brother (who is truly the scum of the earth) is tasked with looking out for her future, which he resentfully interprets as selling her (literally) to the nastiest man he can find. Seriously, her brother is horrible. I can't get over it. Luckily, Rafe steps in and takes Evelyn as his own mistress...ok it doesn't sound that romantic, but it was. These two have some serious chemistry.

The story proceeds much as you would expect a romance between a damaged rake and sweet, innocent girl to go, but again I give Heath props for really making this story memorable. Rafe tries very hard to remind himself that he is a bad person and doesn't deserve any happiness, but everything he does is just adorable sweetness wrapped up in a prickly package. Evelyn is strong enough to deal with his outward gruffness and to confront him when he believes he doesn't deserve happiness. She's the perfect person to help him accept love and reconcile with his family. This book resolved all the unsolved problems throughout the series, and I think I enjoyed the series as a whole even more after reading this third book.
   

Rating: 9


Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads Lorraine Heath     

Oct 21, 2014

Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath (Lost Lords of Pembrook #2)

Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath
Genre: Historical Romance
Bottom Line: The characters were much more lovable in this story than the first, though Tristan's whole "the sea is my only mistress" junk got old pretty quick.

Lost Lords of Pembrook
1.   She Tempts the Duke
2.   Lord of Temptation
2.5 Deck the Halls with Love
3.   Lord of Wicked Intentions


Synopsis (Goodreads):

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.

Once upon a time, he was Lord Tristan Easton—now he is Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none, whose only mistress is the sea. But all that will change when exquisite Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection on a trip into danger and seduction. . .

Desperation brought Anne to the bronzed, blue-eyed buccaneer. But after the Captain demands a kiss as his payment, desire will keep her at his side. She has never known temptation like this—but to protect her heart, she knows she must leave him behind. Yet Tristan cannot easily forget the beauty—and when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows he won't lose her a second time, as fiery passion reignited takes them into uncharted waters that could lead the second lost lord home. . .



My Thoughts:

I read the first book in this series a few months ago, and while I wasn't super impressed with it, I figured it was time to give the second book a shot. This series follows three brothers who had to separate as young boys and flee from their uncle who wanted them dead so he could inherit the Dukedom. While the conflict with their uncle was resolved in She Tempts the Duke, each brother was left with scars (both physical and emotional) from their unusual upbringing. Tristan, the Duke's twin brother, was sent off to sea at the age of 14. While he had a rough start, Tristan eventually grew to love the sea and found he wanted nothing more than to captain his ship. After Lady Anne hires him out for a short journey at sea, he finds himself unable to forget her.

Tristan and Anne were both lovable characters. Anne was strong, loyal, and honest with herself and others. Tristan...ok we love him because he is a scoundrel. He really did just ooze seduction. I enjoyed how Anne was able to hold her own against him, but I enjoyed it even more how she accepted the passion between them. After Tristan and Anne's adventure at sea is over, Anne returns to London society where she accepts her life with her overbearing brothers and a very sweet (yet decidedly less swoon-worthy ) suitor. But Tristan refuses to let Anne forget the connection they formed on their journey.

My major issue with this story arose with Tristan. While Anne was very forthcoming with her need to marry, Tristan continued to attempt to seduce her away from society...which I was ok with (he'd certainly be able to protect her). But the whole time he sabotaged her place in society and her relationship with her suitor, he openly refused to consider marrying her himself. It was basically an "I don't want you, but I don't want anyone else to have you either" situation. Which is cruel. He kept claiming that his heart belonged to the sea, which was total BS and ranks as one of the worst reasons for not marrying I have ever read. Admittedly, it all worked out in the end, but I just could not get over how lame of an excuse this was for Tristan denying his own love for Anne, as well as Anne's place in society.

Rating: 7

Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads Lorraine Heath     

Oct 20, 2014

Demons by K.F. Breene (Darkness #4)

Demons by K.F. Breene
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Bottom Line: The plot dragged out a bit too much with no real resolution. This was a tough one for me to get in to.

Darkness Series
1.  Into the Darkness
2.  Braving the Elements
3.  On a Razor's Edge
4.  Demons
5. The Council (Oct 30, 2014)


Synopsis (Goodreads):

It’s been a long road, but Sasha has finally claimed her role as the least knowledge mage in history. She’s also acquired a new, incredibly grumpy bodyguard, and a spunky new BFF. With her team by her side, she learns the ropes of this new profession. 

Her experience level is about to be fast-tracked, however. 

On a routine trip to check out a perimeter breach, she encounters a hideous demon called by an experienced magic worker. It is this terrifying discovery that unlocks a deeper problem: Stefan’s troubled past and the reason he gravely mistrusts the Mata. 

While Sasha struggles to fight the physical demons, Stefan struggles to fight the demons of his past. If he fails, his future in Sasha will be lost.



My Thoughts:

After being very pleasantly surprised by the first few books in this series, I was shocked how tough it was for me to get through this novella. I honestly don't know what happened, but I had to push myself to stay interested in this story. The plot begins with a demon summoned by some mysterious, powerful mage. The demon, conveniently, provides a mystery for Sasha to solve with her awesome black magic powers as well as a way for her to prove her abilities to lead her people. Additionally, this demon brings up Stefan's inner demons (ooo double meaning), and we get to see Sasha help our sensitive stud through some tough times. I know, I sound bitter. Honestly, I usually eat this kind of sensitive-tough-guy stuff up, but it was just too forced in this story.  In my opinion, even the sex was forced...there was hardly even a purpose for it. And when I'm clamoring for a purpose for some naughty scenes in a romance, you know there's a problem.

Now I still enjoyed the magic aspects of this story, and the final battle was exciting enough, but the one thing that still eats at me is that there was no POINT to the demon. Even after we discover who summoned the demon (and believe me, it was no real shocker), it seemed like it was just summoned because the mage wanted to see if it could be done. Congrats! You can summon a demon. Story over.




Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads K.F. Breene

Oct 19, 2014

On a Razor's Edge by K.F. Breene (Darkness #3)

On a Razor's Edge by K.F. Breene
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Bottom Line: Quite an exciting story, but fairly reminiscent of the plot from the second book.

Darkness Series
1.  Into the Darkness
2.  Braving the Elements
3.  On a Razor's Edge
4.  Demons
5. The Council (Oct 30, 2014)


Synopsis (Goodreads):

If Sasha thought life would slow down after being captured, she was dead wrong. 

Having an extremely high level of magic, but not knowing how to use it, has become more than a little problematic. Struggling to get her power under control has everyone on their toes, waiting for something to blow up. And then there is the issue of loving Stefan, but not being able to mate him because she hadn't a clue how to lead, which is necessary if she wants to rule by his side.

No, things have not gotten any easier.

With the incoming visit of the Regional and his white mage, the pressure turns way up for both Sasha and Stefan. So many issues are riding on the balance, and one word from the authoritative pair could have Sasha back in her old life, still in danger, and without the resources to carry on.

Sasha has to learn to battle while walking on a razor's edge.



My Thoughts:

This was an enjoyable addition to the Darkness Series. I think the plots are getting more developed as we get further into this series, and I enjoy how Breene is devoting less time to vampire orgies and more time to awesome magic powers. Weird, I know. As the Regional and his mage come to visit Stefan and check in on the oddity that is Sasha, the plot develops into a sort of magic training montage. And it was enjoyable. We get to see what Sasha is capable of, though half of the time she proves only that she has a ton of power and no clue how to use it. But hey, it was entertaining.

The relationship between Stefan and Sasha was put to the test a bit here, as Stefan is required to mate with someone who can stand by his side in a position of leadership. Their interactions were still very romantic, and pretty steamy, but I think the romance aspects of this book were secondary to the action.

While I did enjoy the third book in this series, I did find myself noting many similarities between this plot and that of the second book. It seemed to follow the same formula of Sasha struggling with magic lessons, Sasha getting into trouble, Sasha throwing herself into epic battles...Stefan being his sexy, overprotective self...it was all very familiar, but still quite exciting.


Rating: 8


Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads K.F. Breene

Sep 19, 2014

Braving the Elements by K.F. Breene (Darkness #2)

Braving the Elements by K.F. Breene
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Bottom Line: If the dirtiness of the first novella scared you off, consider giving this series a second chance. You really can't go wrong with a magical sword-wielding alpha male. 

Darkness Series
1.  Into the Darkness
2.  Braving the Elements
3.  On a Razor's Edge
4.  Demons


Synopsis (Goodreads):

Sasha has always known she was different, but now she also knows that the shadow men she’s seen all her life, are real. 
With a life goal of fitting in, Sasha hopes her strange abilities will finally make true friendship a possibility. Unfortunately, her magic doesn’t function like everyone else’s. What she thought would make her belong, sets her apart now more than ever.

Stefan, all but promised to a different woman, has tried to keep his mind on his duties instead of the irresistible and free-spirited human. But when she is threatened, he can’t keep his distance anymore. He realizes he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe, and more importantly, make her his. 

Just when one thing clicks into place, another spirals out of control. Stefan’s clan isn’t the only group that would benefit from an extremely rare type of magic. And their enemies will stop at nothing to get what they want.



My Thoughts:

This was a marvelous continuation of the Darkness Series. Sasha and a very unhappy Charles start attending classes to hone Sasha's magical skills. All the while, Sasha and Stefan struggle with the connection that is constantly pulling them together. Sasha has to deal with a bunch of super-humans who view her as nothing more than a pet with a few magical tricks. Stefan has to balance his attraction to Sasha with his duty to the clan, all while protecting his people from the imminent battles with the Eastern Territories.

If you read the first book and were bothered by the "distasteful sexual situations," the non-consensual sex is absent in this story. Now the crude language and sex warnings still stand, though it was toned down a bit. While mature subject matter is sprinkled throughout the book, I promise you the actual plot dominates...this story is not all sex.

Practically all of my issues with the first novella in this series were resolved in this story. I actually learned to like Sasha. I thought she was weak and purposefully played dumb in the first book, but after learning a bit more about her, I feel a little bad for my hasty judgement. I'll admit, she isn't the strongest heroine I've ever read, but it's not a crime for the heroine to get a little down when life gets rough. At least she has some badass skills she finally gets to show off in battle.

Stefan is definitely one of my favorite heroes. I mean he's just really perfect...can I have one please? Why don't I ever find hot men with magical swordsmanship skills and a killer protective instinct? I feel like that's not too much to ask... All right, so he's the typical alpha male tamed only by the heroine, but I still love it. Their attraction to each other was very steamy, and turns out Stefan is quite the romantic under all that muscle. I was happy that Charles ended up being the comic relief in this story instead of just a despicable sex-addict. My biggest disappointment is that these are so short!


Rating: 9


Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads K.F. Breene

Sep 18, 2014

Into the Darkness by K.F. Breene (Darkness #1)

Into the Darkness by K.F. Breene
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Bottom Line: If you are up for A LOT of naughtiness and crude language, this story actually has a very interesting plot.

Darkness Series
1.  Into the Darkness
2.  Braving the Elements
3.  On a Razor's Edge
4.  Demons


Synopsis (Goodreads):

Sasha has grown up with one surety: she’s not normal. 

She sees things in the darkness that no one else can see. Mysterious men cloaked in shadow, moving through the night. The problem is, pointing out invisible people is a fast track to a padded cell. Orphaned at age five, Sasha quickly learns an important survival tip: keep her mouth shut and stay out of the spotlight.

Until one night, everything changes. She and her boyfriend, Jared, find themselves stranded on the wrong side of town. Suddenly, the men she was convinced were hallucinations, are very real. And very dangerous.

As a new world opens up around her, she meets him. The Boss. An alpha leader who entrances her mind and tugs on her body. Primal and sexual, his people have a different set of rules. And they don’t always play nice.

As danger rises up around her, her differences may be the only thing that saves her life. She must embrace what she’s tried so hard to hide, while resisting the person her body craves most. Sasha has finally found her shadow men, and they will change her life forever.



My Thoughts:

There were a lot of warnings for this novella about the tastelessness of some of the sexual situations (i.e. non-consensual), but I'm going to be honest with you--I really didn't think it was that bad. I suppose from someone who reads paranormal romances, it's not that uncommon to see magical beings luring humans into sexual situations that they would not otherwise be ok with. Maybe my moral fiber is fraying...but I would say not to let that warning stop you from enjoying this book if you are ok with books pushing the boundaries a teensy bit. Now the "adult situations" warning you can heed. The language in this book is crude and the sex is abundant and a little graphic (ok, VERY graphic). So prepare yourself to either embrace the naughtiness or put up with it and just enjoy the plot.

That being said, I am glad I finally read this novella. It was free on Amazon (and still is I believe), so I just bought it and let it chill on my kindle for a few months. This story introduces Sasha, a seemingly normal human girl who has always had this odd feeling that something is a little different about her. After a run in with a group of not-quite-human men, Sasha and her boyfriend, Jason, are thrown into the world of the "shadow men."

I'll be honest. I'm not a huge fan of Sasha's. She is a little immature and she seems to revel in the fact that she isn't smart, which is a bit of a heroine pet-peeve of mine. But I am a huge fan of the power Sasha discovers she has. The "shadow men" are characterized as a sort of vampiric race, but I'm not convinced that I see them as vampires. I always thought vampires should be undead...I guess they enjoy the sharing of blood, lots of sex, and they're all ridiculously hot, so maybe that's close enough? But the important part is that they have some very neat skills, and they are currently dealing with a vampire turf war.

Overall, this novella was funny, raunchy, and had a surprisingly exciting plot. As I always do, I failed to notice that this was a series of novellas, so I was very disappointed when the story just stopped 200 pages in. So be prepared to pick up the next book in the series right away!  

Rating: 8

Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads K.F. Breene