Tag Archives: great series

ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL by Elle Kennedy

An ex-fighter turned nightclub owner struggles against his attraction to his best friend’s ex.

One Night of Scandal (After Hours, #2)

One Night of Scandal

When I read the first book in the After Hours series ONE NIGHT OF SIN I fell for Elle Kennedy’s well-developed characters and wildly effective scene setting. ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL delivers the same excitement. Reed Miller and Darcy Grant have a lot of chemistry. Reed is a grump and emotionally shackled by his bad-boy past. Darcy is pretty wholesome, even if she does enjoy the occasional walk on the wild side.

The relationship develops against the backstory of a possible drug problem at the club. This plot line starts in book one and carries on through all three of the After Hours books. At this point, the club is in definite danger of being raided, so Reed is preoccupied with finding the dealer before the whole business goes under.

Darcy and Reed’s relationship has a great balance of romance and drama. The misunderstanding at the end is a little too engineered. There are enough real issues between the characters that complicate matters, so it was a little disappointing that Kennedy got so melodramatic at the end.

On the whole an entertaining experience.

ROAD TO VICTORY by Piper Davenport

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review

The troubled daughter of a wealthy family fights for love and for her future when old secrets bring brand new heartache.

Road to Victory (Dogs of Fire Book 5)

Road to Victory

Kimberly Church has struggled for years to create a stable life after a nightmarish childhood. Every so often her demons rise and she spirals out of control and into hard drinking and promiscuity. Luckily, she has plenty of friends to catch her when she crashes. Now that her best friend is married to a leader of the powerful Dogs of Fire Motorcycle Club, sometimes poor Kimmi has more eyes looking out for her than is comfortable. One set belongs to Aidan “Knight” Quinn. He’s lost from the moment he sees her, but she does everything she can to keep him away.

Aidan is determined to get to the truth behind Kimmi’s outrageous behavior. A shared love of horses offers a bridge and, slowly, they cross it. It seems like Kimmi’s personal life–and her riding–are about to reach new levels of fabulous. Then her ugly past turns into a terrifying present as someone threatens Kimmi and her beloved horse.

I’ve read all of Piper Davenport’s Dogs of Fire books. This is a good one. Kimmi’s character arc is a big one. She transforms from all hard edges and erratic emotion, into a grown woman prepared to face the terrible facts of her “privileged” childhood. Along the way, she puts Aidan through hell. There were times I found it hard to believe he’d stick with her, but Davenport is an expert at creating honorable yet believable heroes.

I did have two issues with the book. First, the pacing lags near the end of the middle when Kimmi and Aidan’s horse interests take them on an international journey. I can’t say more without ruining the plot for you. This section goes on a bit too long and the tension, so wonderful until then, suffers. Things pick up again once the couple returns home. Second, the climax, which should be pretty scary, falls flat. Just when Kimmi should be in maximum danger, she’s left on the sidelines. Kimmi needed to be the star in that final “bring the creep in” scene and it should have been from HER point of view, since this guy has tormented her for decades.

On the whole, though, ROAD TO VICTORY is exciting and entertaining.

Jackson & Washington’s DIAL L FOR LYNDA

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review.

Best friends turn detectives when one is arrested for the murder of her boss.

Dial L for Lynda (Linda & Lynda Detective Agency Book 1)

Dial L for Lynda

Having read a lot of Tracey Jane Jackson’s work, I was excited to learn that she was collaborating with Amanda Washington and branching into a new genre. DIAL L FOR LYNDA is a funny, sexy, well-plotted mystery. It might seem surprising to find wealthy, stylish Addison Allen’s best friend since childhood is a financially-strapped girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Harley James has been a hard worker from an early age and earned herself a scholarship to a pricey private school, which is where she met Addison and her twin brother Asher. They’ve been close ever since, though not as close as Asher would like. Harley keeps him at arm’s length as she tries to build a career that makes her feel more on his social/financial level. It’s her job that becomes the problem when she’d fired by her lecherous boss and then he ends up dead outside her apartment.

Jackson and Washington give us amusing, well developed characters who manage to get into all sorts of oddball scrapes as they try to find the real killer. Asher, a serious, sensible lawyer is a great foil for his emotionally overwrought sister. Whereas Asher tries to help Harley by becoming her legal advocate, Addie actually tries to get herself arrested so she can keep Harley company in jail over the weekend until a Monday bond hearing. And that’s just a taste of the lengths this wacky blonde will go to in order to protect her bestie. Though it doesn’t hurt that the lead detective is a tasty morsel who inspires all sorts of fantasies.

The comedy, mystery and romance are kept in fine balance. Jackson and Washington do a great job leading us through the tangled motives of the real killer, who came as a surprise to me, but is completely believable. Two small issues. The first was with Addie and Asher’s parents. They are a little too cliche “rich and snooty.” I would’ve liked more nuanced characterizations. Also the Linda/Lynda link seems a little forced. Even the authors can’t really explain the logic behind it. Harley’s middle name is Linn, and Lynda is the name Addie and Asher give to their GPS systems. Addie also uses it for a special phone line to throw off unwanted suitors.

Name confusion aside, DIAL L FOR LYNDA had me laughing out loud and reading way past my bedtime. Can’t wait for the next one.

A DANGEROUS HUNGER by J.S. Scott

When a reclusive academic’s work on demons lands her in danger, she must accept the protection of a sentinel demon with an appetite for food and romance.

A Dangerous Hunger (The Sentinel Demons, #2)

A Dangerous Hunger

This was my least favorite of J.S. Scott’s The Sentinel Demon series. The chemistry between Dr. Talia Maris and Drew Winston never quite gets going. The book starts out with some excitement as Drew plots to capture his elusive charge. It’s kind of cute how he finally manages to lure her into his clutches. But the relationship never really takes off. Drew is the least smoldering of the three heroes in the series. There’s nothing particularly unique about him. Talia is a more fully developed character–and she has a great cat.

The underworld introduced in A DANGEROUS BARGAIN is explored and it’s pretty scary. But the bad demons (the “Evils”) aren’t as big a threat as in the first book, where they caused all sorts of trouble.

The book entertains but it doesn’t sweep you away.

A DANGEROUS BARGAIN by J.S. Scott

A sentinel demon must protect his soul mate from his enemies.

A Dangerous Bargain (The Sentinel Demons, #1)

A Dangerous Bargain

There’s a lot of sexual tension between Zach Winston and Kat Larsen. The premise of Scott’s fictional universe–that sentinel demons were created to protect humankind after the gods of Mt. Olympus retired to the Elysian Fields and left people unprotected from the evil demons who desire to prey on them–is interesting and well thought out. So is the concept of “Radiants”–the fated mates that are the keepers of the sentinels’ souls.

The fast pace and a carefully placed twists kept me reading. Also, for once, the bad guys (“Evils”) of the series are actually pretty scary. I get a little tired of amazing heroes fighting powerful foes who turn out not to be so powerful after all. Scott’s baddies turn up when you least expect it and cause lots of chaos.

Zach’s brother demons are interesting–especially Hunter. When I finished this book, I immediately downloaded the other two. In fact, last week I posted my review of A Dangerous Fury, Hunter’s book. It’s the third in the series and my favorite, so it jumped to the head of the review line.

Excellent paranormal romance.

Review: THICKER THAN WATER

A young woman’s hard-won future with her new husband is threatened by an enemy from her past.
Thicker than Water (Book 3 of The Grayson Trilogy)
Thicker than Water

All of the characters we’ve come to love from The Grayson Trilogy are back as author Georgia Rose sets them off on new paths and also resolves longstanding mysteries. Rose gives us a meaty plot set firmly in Emma’s point of view, which allows us to experience events as if we’re there living through them. Departing from past installments, though, THICKER THAN WATER features a secondary POV, one which pops up at the most unexpected times and offers a tantalizing hint of rough waters ahead for our friends at the manor. I love how ambiguous this personality is at first. There’s a darkness surrounding him, sure, but his intentions are not quite clear. When he does step into the light, not only does the game between Emma and her enemies turn on its head, but a slew of questions dangling from the previous novels are suddenly answered. Yet even these filled-in blanks don’t lead to closure for Emma. Instead they free a deluge of pent-up emotions that are almost as big an obstacle to her happiness as the gang of Russian criminals out to kill her.

The other side of the close focus on Emma’s POV is that we can get caught up in her day-to-day activities to the point that the pacing of the narrative slows. I think it took a little too long for the suspense/danger element of this episode to come into play, but in return we do get plenty of deep character development. Plot vs. character is always a difficult battle. Throughout The Grayson Trilogy Georgia Rose shows a knack for this balancing act.

THICKER THAN WATER delivers the romance, suspense and, especially, the final satisfaction readers of this series pine for.

Review: BLOOD FEST–CURSING FATE

* A review of the first book in Pepper O’Neal’s Blood Fest series, Chasing Destiny, appeared HERE ¬†yesterday. Also, to enjoy my interview with the author, which took place a few months back, click HERE.

Blood Fest: Cursing Fate

Blood Fest: Cursing Fate

A young tiger shifter escapes from a Lithuanian brothel only to risk her hard-won freedom (and her life) when she returns to put an end to the operation.

I received a print copy of the first book in this series, BLOOD FEST: CHASING DESTINY, from the author and loved it so much I immediately downloaded CURSING FATE and read it straight through the night. Almost everything works in this book. From page one, we care intensely about Tabby and the three youngsters she takes with her when she breaks out of sexual bondage and travels across Europe to the safety of England. She heads there because it’s the home of her only living relative. Chase Alcott–now Fernwood–is the heroine of CHASING DESTINY.

Before she can meet Chase, Tabby must face the leader of the local Weretiger pride. Drake Gatos and Gray, his second in command, were in book one, and it’s great to see them play a more central part in the action. The romantic tension between Tabby and Drake is palpable. The erotic aspect builds more slowly. This is good call by author Pepper O’Neal, as it aligns with the horrific nature of Tabby’s background. Total trust between the pair takes even more work. Tabby has a plan to destroy the brothel once and for all, and she knows overprotective (and kind of overbearing) Drake will try to leave her out of the mission.

Drake is a little thick-headed about things. For me, the only rough spot in the book was watching his missteps with Tabby. I know it was all in the service of telling an exciting story. But he’s such a dolt at one point, that it wasn’t only Gray who wanted to beat the stuffing out him.

It’s a testament to O’Neal’s skill at creating believable characters that the INSANE secret plan Tabby and Chase come up to destroy the brothel seems reasonable. Of course, the operation doesn’t go quite as they imagined, which means lots of action and suspense for readers. It also provides a chance to meet up with Danyer, head of the Los Angeles pride. He’s a favorite of mine from book one, and I hope he eventually gets to star in a Blood Fest book.

The climax is a nail biter. Even better, we’re left with a brand new mystery. Why does Echo, one of the female weres Tabby saved, beg the others not to contact her family now that she’s free?

Book three, where are you?????

Review: BLOOD FEST–CHASING DESTINY

*I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
** A video version of this review was posted on Amazon. You can view it HERE.

I’ve been fortunate enough to feature Pepper O’Neal’s work before, and scored a meaty interview with the author about her writing process and upcoming projects. Catch it¬†HERE.

Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny

Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny

A female PI travels from L.A. to England on a case unaware of her unique heritage or the danger it places her in.

Chase Alcott has no idea that she’s not human. Or that her Weretiger nature is about to burst out full force. Roman Fernwood is a werewolf-vampire hybrid who wants to discover the truth behind a recent death at his estate. His father hires Chase and her partner to investigate. Roman knows at once that she’s going to bring him nothing but trouble once the local Weres discover her existence, yet he can’t help being attracted to her. What follows is a paranormal romance full of action, mystery, and plenty of passion.

Three different Weretiger Prides lay claim to Chase, the one near Roman’s estate, one in Los Angeles, and one in Lithuania. This last one is a nightmare. It’s also the one she was born into, and the leader has good reason to want her back.

Chase is funny and full of sharp edges that hide a loss buried so deeply, even she is unaware of it until the trip to England. She gets a nice match in Roman. He’s less annoying than most alpha heroes. He also doesn’t try very hard to avoid falling for her.

Pepper O’Neal puts Chase into some tight spots. There’s a section toward the end when she’s imprisoned by the villain that had me on edge. The settings are all well done. Whether L.A., Roman’s estate, or the moors of Scotland, I felt transported there. The whole book provides a truly immersive experience.

Roman takes too long to figure out who the villain is. We readers learn the “who” if not the “why” before he does. But the book has a killer climax. And there’s so much more to appreciate about the story than I can cover here. Such as Drake Gatos, head of the local Weretiger pride, and his number two, Gray. Great characters. Also, Chase’s partner. David is so funny and full of life.

BLOOD FEST: CHASING DESTINY had me so worked up by the end, that I rushed to download the second book in the series CURSING FATE. Not a free gift from the author, by the way. And well worth the price. I cannot wait for the third book.

Review: SULTRY GROOVE

I love Eden Summers’s Reckless Beat rock romances. SULTRY GROOVE is number four. Here’s a list of the other books in the series. Click on the title to read my reviews:

BLIND ATTRACTION (#1 Mitch and Alana)
PASSIONATE ADDICTION (#2 Blake and Gabi)
RECKLESS WEEKEND (# 2.5 novella)
UNDESIRED LUST (#3 Mason and Sydney)

Sultry Groove (Reckless Beat, #4)

Sultry Groove
Nursing a passion for his best friend’s girl, Reckless Beat drummer Sean Taiden needs a distraction and makes a play for a choreographer, but Melody Jenkins has secrets of her own.

It sure is nice to be back with the Reckless Beat gang. In SULTRY GROOVE, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of the Mason-Sydney-Sean scandal explored in UNDESIRED LUST. Sean, odd man out now that Sydney and Mason have found each other, is in a bad frame of mind. He harbors lingering feelings for Sydney and a general envy of the romantic relationships his bandmates now enjoy. This is coupled with a growing dissatisfaction with his lack of professional and public recognition. He’s the least popular guy in the band, but he also does very little to put himself out there and gain public attention. This is about to change. Sean will have a star turn–literally–in the band’s latest music video.

Melody Jenkins is the choreographer hired to craft a special dance number. A year ago, she was at the top of her career, a sought-after professional working with some of the biggest names in the music industry. That all changed one afternoon (can’t go into detail or it’ll ruin the suspense). Melody is not the dancer she once was…or at least that’s what she believes. This epic change also transformed her personal life, turning a once confident and sexually adventurous woman into a virtual hermit.

When Sean starts his brash campaign to seduce Melody, she’s conflicted. She knows he’s a player. The old Melody wouldn’t care, since she was an even bigger player her. This Melody, though, is unsure of herself and afraid to get hurt.

SULTRY GROOVE is a sensual book. Summers puts Sean and Melody through a lot of angst and soul searching. Melody has it harder than Sean. His biggest issue is deciding what he really wants out of life…especially when increasing public notice proves to be more annoying than it is exciting. Melody’s problem runs deeper, though I think it gets dragged out a bit too far. Still, the feelings are genuine and there’s no quick or easy resolution. I like that Melody isn’t “fixed” by the end.

Of course, one of the best parts of a Reckless Beat book is catching up with all the characters from earlier installments. Ryan’s marital problems, a subplot throughout the series, come to a head and the fallout causes a shocking upset in band dynamics. This is good for us readers…I figure Ryan and Leah’s story is in the works. Can’t wait!

UNDESIRED LUST is still my favorite book in the series, but SULTRY GROOVE is a lot of fun.

Review: DISCOVERING DELILAH

*Author provided an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

A young woman struggles with her sexuality while fearing she was a disappointment to her recently deceased parents.

Discovering Delilah (Harborside Nights, #2)

Discovering Delilah

We met Delilah Armstrong in the first Harborside Nights novel–Catching Cassidy. The hero in that book was Wyatt Armstrong, Delilah’s his twin. On the night of their college graduation, their parents died in a car accident. Delilah and Wyatt moved back to Harborside, a Massachusetts beach community, to take over their parent’s bar & grill. Two months on, Delilah has started to settle into her new professional role helping to run the business, but her personal life is in turmoil. Her grief over her parents’ death is compounded because of the shock she gave them when she came out to them that fateful night. Deep down she believes she may have caused the accident.

At the same time, Delilah struggles with growing feelings for her best friend Ashley. She’s afraid to act on them. First, because she isn’t sure Ashley would welcome them. Second, because she isn’t sure SHE herself will enjoy being intimate with a woman. Third, even if it turns out to be a resounding YES to the first and the second questions, she’s terrified of people around her finding out her secret. It’s this final issue–Delilah’s reluctance to go public when she and Ashley become an item–that proves the biggest obstacle to their relationship. Ashley was someone’s dirty little secret once before and ended up with a broken heart. She’s not willing to go through that again. Only, because of her feelings for Delilah, that’s exactly where she’s headed.

Melissa Foster presents Delilah’s struggle with honesty and sensitivity. At times this teeters a bit over the edge. We spend A LOT of time in Delilah’s head. All that internal angst slows the pacing at times, especially toward the end, when Delilah returns to her childhood home in Connecticut to clear out her parents’ belongings. I also found the resolution to her conflict over her parents a bit too convenient. I think Foster may have succumbed to the path of least resistance here in the interest of providing her character with complete closure. I would’ve preferred more ambiguity—allowing Delilah to CHOOSE to move on in strength, even with lingering doubts about her parents real feelings.

Still, Discovering Delilah is a touching romance that balances the spark between the couple with plenty of character development. There’s a nice supporting cast and, as always in a Melissa Foster novel, the setting is beautifully rendered.

A highly satisfying reading experience.