Review: Silver/Steel by Belinda McBride

 When dream hunter Dylan Ryve spots a beautiful shapeshifter raising hell in a bar, he knows he wants the wild young man. But Travis Feris is more to Dylan than a few hot minutes outside in the snow; he's the assassin's ticket into the magical town of Arcada. He didn't plan to rescue the kid, but when he found the shifter being attacked, the opportunity to play hero was too good to pass up.

Through the solitude of a long winter night, Dylan walks in Travis's fevered dreams, learning about Arcada and the pack, and showing the shifter the man he'd been so very long ago. When morning comes, both men know their lives will be forever entwined.

From Dylan, Travis learns that he is a strong, valued member of the pack. The dreamwalker sees his own worth reflected back at him in the dark blue eyes of the wolf. Yet when Dylan has the chance to free himself from centuries of enslavement, can he betray the man he has come to love.


Travis Feris is a shapeshifter with a brilliant intellect and some incredible artistic talent whose self-esteem is in the toilet. He feels he truly has no place in his pack and also feels that he can contribute nothing to anything cuz he’s just not worthy. He soothes himself by getting adrenaline highs by heading to bars and causing trouble. One night when he’s out making mischief he gets himself into a boatload of trouble – more than he can handle. Some men who are pissed at him roofie his drink and then plan on taking advantage of him. Luckily for Travis Dylan is in the bar and ends up saving his ass – literally.

Dylan tries to take Travis home but Travis lives in Arcada and the town, which is a magical place, won’t let Dylan in. Dylan takes Travis to his motel room and manages to contact Travis’s family. Unfortunately they can’t come to get the man because of a snow storm. Dylan wants into Arcada and he thinks that Travis might be his way in. Dylan doesn’t plan on falling for the shifter and having his life change.

Dylan is Fae and under a geas. He has one more job to do for his Master. Is that the right word? More like Evil Overlord. Anyway, he was contracted to take or capture 1000 lives. He has one more life to either capture or kill and he’ll be free. The life he needs, however is in Arcada. Eventually he gets into the town but he is closely watched. While he’s there his feelings for Travis grow stronger and he has to decide how the rest of his life will go.

This is the second book in the Arcada series and I liked this one just as much as the first, I must say. I didn’t care for Travis at all in book 1 so when I started reading and realized that he was one of the main characters in this book I hesitated. I’m glad I kept reading because we were shown a side of him we didn’t get to see in the previous book. What we saw then and for the first part of this book was his posturing and assholedness that he showed the rest of the world but was not who he was. He really wasn’t sure who he was but after meeting Dylan he started to blossom – they both did.

Dylan seemed like a pretty unlikable character after the prologue but the man had hidden depths that he didn’t even know about.

The story was really great and so heart-wrenching I actually cried at one point as I was so caught up in the emotions that were flowing between the men. I would definitely recommend this story as well as book 1 and hope that we get another book set in Arcada very soon.

Ok, now let’s talk about the cover. I can’t say I care for it at all. I think the dark-haired man who is supposed to be Travis is the one that bothers me the most. Travis is muscular but not incredibly buff. He’s described as beautiful with fae-like features. The cover has the guy looking like Matthew Broderick in Lady Hawk and while very cute (I love that movie!) he was not beautiful, imho.

I went online and got a couple of pictures that I think represent Travis better…and while I was at it I got some that I thought represented Dylan a bit more. This is completely my opinion so…take it for what it’s worth.

Travis:


I imagine him without scruff but it does look good, doesn't it? :)

Dylan: (Obviously Dylan would have much longer hair)



Anyway, just my two cents.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Belinda McBride

Review: Blacque/Bleu by Belinda McBride

Lukas Blacque is a deeply closeted werewolf, and almost more than anything in life, he desires his neighbor, Oliver Bleu. Oliver is a vampire who is slowly dying from insomnia. More than anything, he needs Lukas Blacque and the rich blood that flows through his veins.

In Blacque's world, vampires and werewolves make uneasy bedfellows, and a gay werewolf is an impossibility. In Bleu's world, all living creatures are little more than vessels for food and sex. But in the mysterious and magical town of Arcada, the unexpected is always waiting right around the corner. Now Blacque and Bleu just need to survive long enough for Arcada's magic to work for them.


Lukas Blacque and Oliver Bleu have been lusting after each other for years. They finally get together and it’s more than explosive. Blacque seems to calm something in Bleu that can’t be explained and Bleu is finally sleeping through the day, something he’s not done for quite a while. They find a sort of peace with each other that they’ve not felt before and after a weekend together – all that Blacque would give Bleu – they don’t want to be apart.

Blacque is the Alpha’s son and has committed to a couple of things he never thought he ever would – one is breeding which tears him up. How can he breed when he doesn’t even like women? The second is to be named heir – not that Blacque’s dad is unhealthy or going anywhere but it was something that needed to be announced and Blacque agreed. Blacque and Bleu go their separate ways but neither are willing to give up on their relationship entirely. When push comes to shove and Blacque finds out that Bleu could be in trouble he makes several announcements that shake up the pack and his life.

I’ve read Belinda McBride books before so I knew that I would get a great read when I picked this up. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of emotion that she brought out in me while reading about these two men being torn apart by duty. They had obviously connected quickly but that didn’t make their feelings any less powerful than had they known each other longer.

Between learning the pack hierarchy and Bleu’s thoughts on his maker the story was woven to really drag the reader in. I was honestly completely sucked in so was a bit disappointed when the final few scenes proved to be not quite as strong as the rest of the story. They were still pretty potent just not as much so as the previous chapters.

Overall it was really good and I enjoyed it immensely. So much so that I started the second book in this series immediately and that’s not something I do all that often. If you like paranormal m/m then I think you’ll really like this one.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Belinda McBride

What I Read Last Week

Another Happy Monday to you!

I wish I could say that my life is incredibly exciting and relate all that happened recently to you but yeah, my life isn’t that exciting. It seems like we’ve been homebodies lately and haven’t really done much. I love my home so I love being there so that’s a good thing.

We did see a few movies that were good – Warm Bodies, The Impossible and the Franco Zefirelli version of Romeo and Juliet. My oldest just finished reading Romeo and Juliet in her 9th grade English class (do ALL 9th grade English classes read that? I know mine did) and the teacher had only shown bits and pieces of the movie to the kids. My oldest wanted to see the whole thing and was a blubbering mess by the end. That used to be my favorite movie when I was in high school and watched it about a thousand times (I had a huge crush on Leonard Whiting) so it made me smile to see her enjoy it so much.

We finally got the date for my youngest’s black belt test and it’s March 30th. She’s very excited and has been working hard on her form and techniques. She also has to learn some Korean and learn the Korean national anthem which I think is pretty cool but not all that easy. lol

Ok, on to what I read this week:


I started off the week with Wicked Lies by Karina Cooper. This is an in-between story in the Dark Mission series. I haven’t read any of the other books but this one intrigued me. The story is about tech guy Jonas who helps save Danny after he’s captured and beaten. He manages to get him out of the holding facility and while he’s escaping they talk. The pair become attracted to each other and when they meet they have a hard time keeping their hands off of each other. The story is set in a world that I wasn’t familiar with and frankly while I really liked the story between the two men I think it might have been even better had I read the rest of the series. I’ll post my review for this one next week. 3.5 out of 5   

Next up was Alien Overnight by Robin L. Rotham. My friend gave me a bag of books that she didn’t want any longer. When I pulled this one out I kind of rolled my eyes at the cover but the back blurb made me laugh so I read it. The story is about alien’s who are on earth to try and gather women to take back to their planet to bear their children as their species is dying out. One alien realizes that one of the women is a half human/half Garathan and wants to make her his mate. The story is about Monica’s transformation into this being and her dealings with her two mates, Kellen and Shauss. The story wasn’t as ridiculous as I first believed it would be which was nice and parts of it were enjoyable. I DIDN’T enjoy the forced seductions but of course the heroine ended up LOVING them. Ug. lol 2.5 out of 5  

A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn Macnamara was my next read. This story was about 2 sisters, their parents (especially their mother) who want them married to titles and the many different men. There’s the man that 1 sister is in love with but he wants to marry the other. There’s the 2nd sisters best friend who wants her, an Earl that gets married to sister 1 through compromise and then there’s the villain in all of that. If you want the full story you can read my review here. 3.5 out of 5 

From Here to Eternity by Paige Cuccaro is a story that kind of has a fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal/futuristic feel to it. I’m obviously not sure how to label it but it was good. Rachel wakes up to find her obituary in the newspaper and a man who calls her his wife but she can’t remember. The story involves automatons and deals with the question of what exactly makes us…us. It was a good one I just wish it had been longer. 3.75 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge) 

Fool’s Gold by Cassandra Dean is a western historical about a couple who have secretly lusted after each other but have a contentious relationship. They get stuck in a blizzard together and truly discover who the other person is – in and out of bed. The story was cute but very short. 3 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge) 

Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh is an anthology that has 4 stories and includes 2 stories that were previously printed in anthologies and 2 brand new stories. The 2 stories that I had previously read were wonderful, as they were the first time I read them (Beat of Temptation with Nate & Tamsyn and Stroke of Enticement with Annie and Zach) and I loved revisiting them. The two new stories, Declaration of Courtship & Texture of Intimacy, were really good as well and definitely worth reading. 4.5 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge) 

Seeing is Believing by Erin McCarthy is the 3rd book in the Ohio’s Most Haunted Town series. It’s been 6 years since the last full novel but it was great to be back in Cuttersville. This story is about Piper who in the previous book was only 8 years old. Now she’s grown and is teaching kindergarten. She’s still seeing ghosts and trying to ignore that fact. When her childhood fantasy comes back to Cuttersville in the form of Brady Stritmeyer Piper goes for the gold. They start an affair but soon things get series and neither is sure what to do. I really liked this book. I loved Piper and Brady together and loved seeing the characters from previous books. 4.25 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge) 

Last for the week was Spider Sense by Charlie Richards. This was a really good story about Haben who is a tarantula shifter who finds his mate while helping out a friend. Lou is the parent of his dead partners son and the son has shifted into a lion. Haben is asked by a friend to go and help them all understand what’s going on but finds that Lou is his mate. Lou is freaked when he sees Haben in spider form and almost blows it. Then when Lou’s son gets kidnapped they need to find and save him. It was the best story I’ve read in this story so far and hopefully the next few in the series will be just as good. 4 out of 5 


My Book Binge reviews that posted last week: 
A Rainbow for Christmas by Mary Montague Sikes 
The Devil’s Triangle by Toni de Palma 
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands

Happy Reading!

Review: The Duke Diaries by Sophia Nash

After a wild, scandalous night, Rory Lennox, the Duke of Abshire, finds himself in the bed of his sworn enemy’s wholesome sister, Verity Fitzroy. To protect her honor and keep the peace, he agrees to marriage, but it’s an engagement neither is happy about—until unimaginable occurrences make them view the other in a new, passionate light.

Verity Fitzroy is sent home to Derbyshire after she is found in bed with the Duke of Abshire, her brother's former best friend, Rory. It doesn't matter that they're both fully dressed and so very hungover that they couldn't have done anything even if they'd wanted to, Verity is ruined. Verity's brother wants Rory and Verity to marry before any word of the scandal is heard but soon they have other things to worry about. Some diaries cataloging scandalous events perpetrated by the Royal Entourage have been found and they are now being published twice a week! 


Verity is determined NOT to marry Rory. She doesn't want to marry him even though she's been in love with him since she was 13. She feels that there's so much about her that's unmarriageable and when Rory finds out that SHE is the author of those diaries all hell will break loose. 

Verity and Rory get closer as they spend more time together and Rory starts to fall in love. He sees Verity though as not many people do and he knows that she will try to save her family from scandal and the diaries by throwing herself on the martyr pyre so that others, including Rory are not blamed. 

I had only read a couple of books by Nash before this one – neither, I might add, in this Royal Entourage series – and really liked them. Both Verity's brother and Rory are part of the Royal Entourage and their cohorts have been running amok for years. All this time Verity has been on the sidelines looking and listening and had documented the happenings of these aristocrats. Verity has no idea how the diaries were stolen, who knew about them enough to actually steal them and how they got into the hands of the newspaper – and she never does find out. She just knows that she must come clean about their author as they are starting to say that Rory was the one that wrote them. Her martyrish attitude really didn't do a whole lot for me even though I did like Verity for the most part. 

Rory was a strange ball of wax. He was supposedly this horrible rake, and I'm sure he had his share of women over the years but he wasn't rakish in the least. He was apparently this spy for the crown as well but we only get to hear tidbits about that. The more I think about it we really didn't get to know all that much about Rory during the book except for a couple of incidents in his life. I liked him but I didn't really know him.

The romance between the hero and heroine was nice but nothing extraordinary, imho. They were good together and they did nice things for each other. This is something I expect from a romance. Unfortunately there just wasn't that extra umph to it all that would have made it a great read. 

There was also a part of the story that had to do with Verity's abigail that was confusing. Verity HAD to go to London to help her out in some way but we're never told what that is. It's all very mysterious and even at the end of the book we don't figure out what the issue was. It was so obviously sequel or series baiting and I personally found it a bit frustrating. 

In the end I found it to be a good read but not without its issues. I did like getting to know that characters and might have to pick up the next in this series as I had really liked Nash's books that I had read previously. I have to find out what happened with the abigail, right? :)

Rating: 3 out of 5


Sophia Nash

Saturday Song

Here's a Saturday edition run by my 10 year old. She insisted (and when insists she's so cute so how can I refuse?) that this week's song should be Gold by Britt Nicole. The words are great and pretty uplifting. I told my youngest, "Ya done good, chick." :)

 

Review: What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston

Lady Georgette Thorold has always been wary of marriage, so when she wakes up next to an attractive Scotsman with a wedding ring on her finger, it’s easy to understand why she panics and flees. Convinced that Georgette is a thief, her may-be husband, James McKenzie, searches for her. As both try to recall what happened that fateful night, they begin to realize that their attraction and desire for each other is undeniable. But is it enough?

Georgette wakes up and finds herself in bed with a man. Since she’s a widow and has no current bed partner she’s a bit confused about what’s happening. She discovers not only a bedroom that’s practically been torn apart (what the heck happened?) but also the Scot in the bed calling her wife! She answers his call to get back in bed with a crack over his head with the chamber pot. Since she’s just visiting the town she has no idea who this man is so she runs.

Her cousin Randolph finds her on the street and as he’s looked for her all night long he’s not pleased when he finds her. He takes her back to his cottage and is even angrier when he finds out she’s married. But is she? Randolph takes off to find the groom and Georgette finds one surprise after another. It seems that she had a great time the night before but she can remember none of it. It seems each townsperson knows a little bit of what happened and as things come to light Georgette finds herself almost more confused than when she was completely in the dark.

James might have remembered Georgette when he first woke but after the crash in the head he finds himself forgetting what happened as well. He finds his money missing and goes to the magistrate to get a summons for Georgette as he’s sure that she took it. He is recalling a wedding done by the magistrate in the bar but he’s not sure if it’s real or not.

With Georgette investigating her night and James investigating his it was inevitable that they eventually meet. While the money issue is worked out and the summons dismissed, there are still a lot of questions unanswered. As they spend the day together they find themselves falling in love with each other but there are many obstacles in their way. Her desire not to be married ever again, his trust issues and of course the person who’s trying to kill James. Not an auspicious way to start a marriage – if it is one.


I have to admit to being pretty drunk a time or two in my life (in my younger days, of course ;)) but never drunk enough to not remember what happened the night before. Now in this story Georgette has a little help with her memory loss (something that’s discovered later) but for a buttoned up Lady who doesn’t even like nudity in herself much less others I can’t imagine how she would feel when she found out all she did in this book. She’s such a…I don’t want to say prude but she’s definitely someone who’s always worried about what other people think. To be told that she was sitting on the laps of strange men and flirting shamelessly would have definitely sent her into a tailspin. As the day wears on (as the book all takes place in one day) she kind of finds herself, which I liked. She got to see a side of herself that she didn’t know existed and let some emotions that she didn’t know she had come out to play. Even when she was upset at James she still was his fierce defender and I had to admire her for that.

Now James, while being an upstanding citizen, really rubbed me the wrong way at times. He assumed the worst about Georgette without knowing the full story and that didn’t set well with me. While he was easily swayed in her favor initially, that didn’t stop him from being distrustful of her later on in the story. His seesawing back and forth was a bit annoying. I did like that he and his father, who hadn’t talked for 11 years, got to kiss and make up so to speak. That showed a side of him that was admirable and that was a definite plus in his direction.

Overall the book was fun. While I usually like the h/h to know each other longer than a day there was so much going on in the story it probably felt more like a couple of weeks for them – at least. :) I liked McQuiston writing style and will look for more from her in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Jennifer McQuiston

Review: A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn Macnamara

After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.

Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…

…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.


Benedict Revelstoke is in London to buy a broodmare. He has no intention of attending balls or even seeing his childhood best friend, Julia. He’s at his club though and sees that a man named William Ludlowe has placed a bet having to do with Julia and he heads off to warn her. He does manage to warn her but doesn’t tell her about the bet.

Julia and her sister Sophia have been out for several seasons and have had offers of marriage that they have both turned down, much to their mothers dismay. Julia has no plans to marry, ever, and Sophia has been in love with William Ludlowe (the bet maker) for five years and plans to marry no one but him. Unfortunately William shows no signs of ever paying Sophia any attention and her heart is breaking. When Sophia faints after seeing William with another woman at a ball she is saved by the Earl of Highgate. Unfortunately it compromises Sophia and the two end up engaged. Sophia plans on crying off before the marriage, and Highgate knows it, but the longer Highgate is with Sophia the more he truly wants her for his bride.

Benedict has been in love with Julia since he was a young teen but Julia wants nothing but to be his friend. That changes however when Julia’s engagement to William Ludlowe, now the Earl of Clivesden, is announced - an engagement that was arranged without Julia’s knowledge or consent. Besides the fact that she doesn’t even like Clivesden she doesn’t want to marry him for another reason – her sisters love for him. Julia doesn’t want to betray her sister and heads off to find Benedict. Julia asks Benedict to compromise her so that she won’t have to marry Clivesden and while he first refuses he soon realizes that he can’t let Julia go.

I know that it all seems very confusing with the two different sisters and their men and then Clivesden, but I have to say that despite there being a ton of characters in this book the author did a good job of weaving the story and not making the reader feel overwhelmed.

When I started the book I thought that it was just a love story between Benedict and Julia but really the book has 2 love stories going on – that between Benedict and Julia and also Sophia and Highgate. While I liked both stories I have to say that I felt that neither of the love stories were given their complete due because of sharing a book. I would have loved to read about Julia’s and Sophia’s romances separately as each seemed a bit rushed. I think I actually ended up liking Sophia’s romance better than Julia’s!

Benedict was a second son and a fine man. He wanted to court Julia but she’d have none of it. If it hadn’t been for her parents making arrangements behind her back I don’t think the two would have ever gotten together because of Julia’s thoughts on love and marriage. I was quite happy when she finally got her head together and saw the light. :)

Sophia and Highgate great together. Highgate had lived through one marriage where his wife cheated on him and didn’t care for him at all. He understood that Sophia was going to need time to get over her feelings for Clivesden before they could really move ahead with their relationship. He tried to be patient and he was for the most part but I’m happy to say that he did his best to move her in his direction. He wasn’t your typical romance hero as far as stature as he wasn’t tall and strapping - he was actually shorter and scarred - but Macnamara really made him seem so much bigger because of his personality and I loved that.

Overall it was a good read. I liked the writing enough to definitely pick up another of her books when it releases.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Ashlyn Macnamara

What I Read Last Week

Happy President's Day to you all! It's George Washington's birthday and while I'm happy to celebrate I like this day more because I've got the day off. Woohoo! Lol I know, it's all about me, right? 

Sorry that I've neglected the blog this past week. I mentioned last week that my youngest was sick and it continued throughout the week. She was find Tuesday and Wednesday and then got sick again Wednesday night (all night) and then on Thursday and Friday too. The rest of the weekend has been recovery...for all of us. Wow – I've never seen anything like that in the years I've been a mom. Crazy. She's better now though so...yay! 

Reading: between doctor and bathroom visits I managed to read. I was a little disappointed this week in some of the books that I read that I liked but yet expected to be better. I hate it when that happens!


I started off the week with The Devil's Triangle by Toni De Palma. This is a YA book that I read for The Book Binge and frankly while it sounded good I wasn't quite sure what to expect. It's not that long of a read so I was skeptical. OMG was I wrong. This is the start of a series and I honestly can't wait to read the next book. The story is about a guy who dies and is sent back to earth for a girl named Grace. He's given a month but he's not sure what he's supposed to do about Grace. What he finds in this town in New Jersey is so much more than he expected. He found...another life he'd been living and a girl he loves but was torn from by the Devil. It's just this totally crazy, far-fetched story and it worked really well. My review will post over there on Wednesday if you want more info. :) 4.5 out of 5 

Next up was a re-read – Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger. I had lent this to my mom to read and when she gave me a bag of books back before she left this one was in there. I just kept looking at it as it was calling me to read it again. Lol It was just as good the second time as it was the first. If you haven't read this wonderful story you really should. It's about 2 guys, Travis and Craig, falling in love in high school and then 20 years later Travis decides he NEEDS to find Craig because he's the only man he'll ever love. There are some issues though (like Craig having a long term boyfriend) but I thought Kluger did a great job of working it all out. 5 out of 5 

Next up was What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston. The first novel by this author and it was good. The story is about a couple who wakes up next to each other, supposedly married, and have to piece the previous night together to figure out many things – mainly if they truly are married. It's a cute tale and I'm looking forward to reading more from McQuiston in the future. 3.75 out of 5 

Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands is book 18 in the Argeneau series. The story centers around Anders and his life mate Valerie, who was kidnapped by a vampire and used for blood. She obviously thinks the kidnapper was a nutjob so Anders isn't quite sure how he'll tell her that he's an Immortal and yes, has to drink blood to live. The story was good but not as exciting as past books have been. I really liked Anders and Valerie together which was good and we got to see some characters from previous books. 3.5 out of 5 

I know, I know, Love Irresistibly by Julie James doesn't come out until April but I couldn't resist diving into the story as I love her books so much. Unfortunately while a liked this one I just couldn't get into these characters as much as I have the others in previous books. I still laughed many times and parts were quite touching so that was a good thing. I'll post my review when it gets closer to the release date. 3.5 out of 5 

The Duke Diaries by Sophia Nash was my last read for the week. This is book 3 in the Royal Entourage series. I didn't read the first two books but that wasn't a problem. This pretty much stood alone. The story is about Verity who is the sister of one of the Duke's in the Royal Entourage. She has listened at doors and such since she was 13 and has written all the stories down. Someone steals a couple of those diaries and starts to publish them in the paper. Then there's Rory who is one of the Duke's and after a night of escapades wakes to find himself in bed with Verity. They must marry and Rory does his best to convince her but Verity is absolute in her belief that she will not marry – as well as the thought that Rory will not WANT to marry her after she tells everyone she's the author of the diaries. The story is good and I really liked Rory a lot but Verity was a hard sell for me. She was strong but did everything for everyone else and never herself. She pretty much turned martyr toward the end of the book never sits well with me. I'll post more in my review later. 3 out of 5 

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week: 
Big Bad Bite by Jessie Lane 
The Dark Lady by Maire Claremont 


Happy Reading!

Mini-Review: Anything for You by Jessica Scott

Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison has spent a year recovering from his combat injuries. A year spent in the arms of the woman of his dreams. But loving Jen comes with a price: every time he touches her, he faces the uncertain fear that loving her might mean losing her forever.

Jen is a breast cancer survivor and with Shane, she’s found a man who loves her despite her scars. But her scars may be too much for their love to survive.

As their love grows, so does the risk to Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.


Shane loves Jen and he’s concerned for her. I get that, I really do, but when he makes an appointment to get a vasectomy without even telling her – for her own good – that’s just an asshat move in my book. I get that he doesn’t want her cancer to come back, and he certainly doesn’t want to have her choose between her own life and the baby’s life if the breast cancer comes back while she’s pregnant, but doing something that HUGE without consulting it effects directly doesn’t sit well with me.

Shane can’t lose Jen, he just can’t but like any man he’s too afraid to just sit down wither and tell her how he feels about them having kids together. Jen is an intelligent woman and though she may not like it she would have gladly sat and talked to Shane about his concerns. Instead he goes behind her back and when Jen finds the paperwork before the surgery is done she’s royally pissed – and hurt – that he never said anything.

The story is a good one. I didn’t care for Shane as much in this book as I did in Because of You because of his actions. To me his actions screamed that he felt Jen wasn’t emotionally strong enough to handle the conversation with him and that was just so wrong. It certainly made me doubt, for a time, whether these two people should be together at all. That being said things worked out in the end. Jen saw Shane’s point of view (we can adopt as many kids as you want, Jen, that way you’ll be safe) and they worked it out. I still have my reservations about the couple but the story was good and it was nice to see a kind of “day in the life” of a couple we had already gotten to know.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Jessica Scott

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy V-Day to all my awesome friends.  Whether you're going on a romantic date with a new person, a person you've been with for a long time, or staying at home and curling up with a good book (which is always a good idea) I hope you have a wonderful day!

Here's a couple of great V-Day cards I found and just had to shared:


This one is especially fitting for me. lol
Have a good one!

Guest Author (+ a Giveaway!): Jessica Scott - Favorite Short, Perfect Reads

Thanks so much for having me today! I'm talking about my favorite short, perfect reads. Short stories are a tough sell for me because a lot of times, they feel rushed or incomplete. But there are a couple that really stuck with me long after I read them!

Nalini Singh is someone who I will buy anything she writes in her guild hunters world. Galen and Jessamy's story ANGEL’S DANCE is just beautiful.

Another auto buy author is Ruthie Knox. She's got a new novella out HOW TO MISBEHAVE and it's one of my favorite stories I've read recently. I mean, seriously, Tony has arms and I’m a sucker for sexy arms. I’m not sure what it is but I notice a man’s hands and his forearms. Plus, I can totally relate to Amber (at least my younger self can). It's funny and sexy all in one. A perfect read. I've read it three times already.

I pick up anything by Shawntelle Madison. Any author who can make me laugh out loud stays on my auto buy list. Her novella BITTEN BY DECEIT is outside of her world started in Coveted but it's got her characteristic humor, pack dynamics and intrigue and sexy werewolves. Because I'm sorry, rough and rugged gets me any day of the week, lol! Plus, you can check out an excerpt of Shawntelle’s novella in the back of ANYTHING FOR YOU.

I’m giving away a digital copy of ANYTHING FOR YOU as well as Shane & Jen’s first story BECAUSE OF YOU to one lucky commenter!

From the author of Because of You comes an all new Coming Home short story.  


Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison has spent a year recovering from his combat injuries. A year spent in the arms of the woman of his dreams. But loving Jen comes with a price: every time he touches her, he faces the uncertain fear that loving her might mean losing her forever.

Jen is a breast cancer survivor and with Shane, she’s found a man who loves her despite her scars. But her scars may be too much for their love to survive.

As their love grows, so does the risk to Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.

You can buy ANYTHING FOR YOUat the following ebookstores

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

*The links for iBooks & others should be live soon!*

Below is the official excerpt!


Fort Hood, late 2008 

“Jen is going to kill you. You know that, right?” Vic Carponti took a long pull off his ever-present Dr Pepper. “I think she has first dibs on your balls. You don’t have exclusive use over them any more.” 

Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison glanced over at Carponti and fought the urge to use the physical therapy ropes to strangle the younger sergeant. No matter how much time they’d spent together training Army privates at Benning or blowing shit up downrange, Carponti still managed to push all the right buttons. 

“You’re not helping, you know.” Shane was already having a hard enough time trying to find the nerve to talk to his fiancée about his desire for a vasectomy.

“Jen wants kids.”

“I know that,” Shane growled. He leaned down to stretch, barely suppressing a groan as the muscles in his thighs protested the daily pain his physical therapist insisted on. He’d have thought that six months after being blown up in Iraq, physical therapy would stop being a morning torture session. Guess not.

“Why are you so adamant about this?” Carponti held up his hand at Shane’s fierce look. “I’m an expert in amputations, not women and babies, okay?”

“She had breast cancer. A really aggressive version. If she gets pregnant and the cancer comes back, the choice comes down to her life or the baby’s life…and I don’t want to have to make that choice with her. I don’t want her to have to make that choice. Granted, it might all be fine. She might never get sick again, or the hormones from pregnancy might not do anything to her.” Shane walked over to the free weights. His legs protested each step, so his next words came out slowly, one with each step. “I can’t risk it. No matter how much I might want a kid with her, I’m not going to risk her life for some selfish need to feel my baby growing inside her.”

“I realize that,” Carponti said, “but why on earth are you looking at this without talking to her first?”

“I’m going to talk to her.” Shane sighed hard. “I just haven’t yet.” He didn’t want to admit he was afraid. Not to Carponti. He’d never hear the end of it.

“Did you ever think you’re overreacting?” Carponti asked, following him.

“No,” Shane snapped. “Because I’m not.”

“You just said there’s no rule that if a woman gets pregnant after cancer, she’s going to die.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve also talked to the brigade surgeon. There’s a higher risk of the cancer coming back for younger women like Jen who had aggressive cancers. There’s a higher risk that if she does get pregnant and the cancer comes back, it could come back even more aggressive.” Shane looked at Carponti seriously. “I want kids with her. I just don’t want to kill her.”

“So you’re going to get unmanned and tell her later?”

“This isn’t funny.”

“Vasectomies are always funny. Especially watching a big guy like you squirm over the fact.”

“It is my balls we’re talking about,” Shane snapped, grabbing the fifty-pound dumbbells. It was one of those times he’d rather not have Carponti chirping in his ear.

“If a vasectomy is such a big deal, then why do it?” Carponti placed the bottle in his prosthetic hand. “There’s other ways of preventing pregnancy, you know.”

“We’ve talked about all of those. She had a bad reaction to an IUD. Anything hormone-based is out. And condoms scare the shit out of me.”

“Did we have a bad experience with a condom?”

Shane groaned, wishing he hadn’t said anything. “When I was seventeen, I had a condom break on me. The girl and I spent the rest of the month terrified she was pregnant.” He glanced at Carponti. “So while I appreciate that you think me getting my balls clipped is amusing, this isn’t all that funny.”

“Maybe not, but watching you freak out about it certainly is.”

“You’re so good for morale.”

“You can bitch all you want, but I still don't see why there aren’t other options.”

Why? Shane ground his teeth and counted as he curled the weights. He’d read the literature about Jen’s specific cancer. Everything he read created a little more fear that he could lose her. Shane did not do well with fear. If the only thing he could control in the equation was his sperm, he was doing that.

Sometimes, at night, when the nightmares came, it was no longer his soldiers who’d died in the war haunting his sleep. Sometimes, it was Jen, bleeding out in his arms. He didn’t tell her that. Every time he tried, the emotion got jammed up halfway between his throat and his mouth.

Jen wasn’t a random number in a study. She was his heart and soul, and while she was determined to live a normal life and not let the cancer define her, every time they made love, he was aware of the risk.

The worst part about it all? He wanted kids with her, too. But the risk was too great.

“Hello? Candyass who’s stressing about getting his balls chopped off? Why is a vasectomy the only option for you not to get her pregnant?”

Shane finished his set. “Because it’s the smart thing to do. Condoms break. Birth control fails.” Carponti was probably about to accuse him of writing country songs again. “This is the only one-hundred-percent sure option.”

“You could always be in a celibate marriage with her,” Carponti said dryly.

“Yeah, and then she bangs the FedEx guy when I’m in the field.”

Carponti snorted and coughed. “That’s just wrong.”

Shane dropped the weights, the muscles in his left arm screaming. He was nearly back to his previous strength in his upper body, but sometimes his bones liked to remind him that no, he was never going to be as good as he’d been before.

It frustrated him that there were more aches and pains now. More stiffness just getting out of bed in the morning. But he was determined to heal, so he could get back to leading soldiers.

Because that’s what he did.

Beside him, Carponti finished not choking on his drink. “You’re serious about this. You’re really going to let a doctor near your nutsack with a scalpel?”

“Will you just drop it? I shouldn’t have said anything to you, damn it.”

“What? I just want to be sure you’re making the best, most informed decision.” Carponti grinned. “You’re going to let me see the cut, right?”

Shane just shot him a baleful glare and Carponti held up both hands, the soda in one. Funny, Shane was used to the prosthetic now. It no longer caught his eye like it once had. Carponti was just...Carponti. The missing hand didn’t really matter.

“Hey, so have you heard what’s going on back at battalion?” Carponti asked.

Shane picked up his water bottle and flipped open the cap. “I haven’t been in to see Sarn’t Major in a while. I’ve got a meeting with him later today. Why?”

“There’s a ton of bad shit going on. Iaconelli got in a bunch of trouble up in Colorado on a mission.”

“That’s nothing new. Ike’s always in trouble.” Shane and Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli had never really gotten along, which was a shame, because Ike was a damn fine infantryman.

“Yeah, well, apparently there’s a whole bunch of crap going on down there. Maybe that’s why Sarn’t Major wants to see you. See how much longer before you’re back at work?”

“Maybe.” Sarn’t Major would no doubt fill him in when he saw him later. Shane wanted to get back to work. Badly. But if Ike was screwing up again, Shane damn sure didn’t want to get back just to clean up after him.

Carponti grinned. “So, back to the more pressing matters, are you going to gift wrap your nuts and put a little bow on them and say, ‘Here baby, for Valentine’s Day, I’ve sacrificed my manhood’?”

Shane shook his head and tried not to laugh. “There’s something the matter with you. You know that, right?”

“Sure. My traumatic brain injury is acting up again.” Carponti turned toward the door as it opened. “Speaking of nuts, here’s my wife. I need to get mine out of her purse.”

Shane turned to see Nicole Carponti walking onto the physical therapy floor, looking polished and perfect. No one ever looked at her and thought she was a cop. It made her a perfect investigator.

It also made everyone wonder what the hell she was doing with a scruffy, red-headed sergeant like Vic Carponti, but hey, she’d stuck with him after he’d gotten blown up. And worse, through his incessant bad tricks with his prosthetic. Shane watched as Carponti kissed his wife on the cheek, then slung his good arm around her shoulders as they walked out. Shane was reasonably certain Carponti tried to pinch Nicole’s ass with his prosthetic.

Life was never dull around Carponti, that was for damn sure.

Shane finished his therapy in blessed silence and headed to the locker room to change back into his duty uniform. He took a deep breath, running his hand over his jaw. Last week, Jen had slipped her body over his, her slick heat caressing his bare erection, and Shane had almost died from the pleasure of skin on skin. No barriers. He didn’t know which one of them wanted it more—the desire painting her features had been beautiful. And she’d gotten bolder since then, driving him toward a little death each time he touched her. No matter how much he was tempted to make love to her without a goddamned condom, he would not risk her life for a few moments of pleasure.

He loved Jen. More than life itself. The vasectomy was a very real discussion he was going to have with her very soon. 


About Jess 

Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

Oprah has called her. True story.

Her debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU launched Loveswept, the first Random House digital imprint.

She's written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.

Most recently, she's been featured as one of Esquire Magazine's Americans of the Year for 2012.

Connect with Jessica at

Website: http://www.jessicascott.net
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jessicascott09
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessicascottauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5131118.Jessica_Scott

What I Read Last Week

Ack! I’m a day behind but with good reason. My youngest woke up yesterday with all the symptoms of a bladder infection and a horribly upset stomach. We ended up at the doctors and she did indeed have a raging UTI and was throwing up continually because of it. Oh the joys of motherhood. lol Why are we supposed to be all stoic when we’re dealing with vomit? I just don’t get it. lol

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t want to hear about that. You want to hear about my reading week from last week so here goes:


I started off the week with a historical short called Love is Blind by Elizabeth Cole. This adorable story is about Olivia who is blind and while at a ball a cruel man decides to pull a prank on her. Luckily Adrian, also a rake, is there to save her as he dislikes rake #1 and wants to thwart his antics. Adrian sees in Olivia a different woman than he’s known before and sets out to court her. Her family, however, wants her to have nothing to do with him which makes the courting a little difficult but not impossible. SUCH a cute story. I really enjoyed reading this one as it made me smile and laugh and sigh and all that good stuff that I love in a romance. 4 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)


Next up was Going Under by Lauren Dane. This is book 3 in the Bound by Magick series and shows up Gage who is the head security guy/hunter for Clan Owen. He is guarding Molly who is the PR person for Clan Owen and is a woman who is trying to bring all “Others” together to try and work out how they will deal with all being outed. It’s a story that was very interesting because of what the Others needed to deal with but the romance in this one fell short a bit, at least for me. It was good, but not as good as books 1 and 2, imho. 3.5 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)


Saved by the Rancher by Jennifer Ryan is a contemporary romantic suspense story about Jenna who is on the run from her ex-husband. He’s an abuser of the worst sort and he constantly finds her and messes her up. Her friend and lawyer Ben finally sends her to his buddy, Jack, who owns a ranch near Denver. When Jenna arrives she’s incredibly sick from an infection caused by her ex’s latest rampage and she’s exhausted. Jack takes care of her and they fall in love. The story was really great in some parts and then a bit much (as in over the top) in others. Without those over the top moments I think the story could have really rocked. 3.5 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

The Dark Lady by Maire Claremont is a dark gothic historical that started off really good and then petered out for me. The story is about a man who returns from India to find one of his best friends in an asylum. He vows to get her out and he does but she’s riddled with guilt about the death of her son and he’s riddled with guilt about the death of her husband and frankly it was a bit too much guilt for me. After the initial 40 percent I found the story a bit dull and it didn’t really hold my attention all that well. I read the reviews on Goodreads and it looks like I’m in the minority on this one so I think you’ll need to read it for yourself to decide what you think. 2.5 out of 5

Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks is book 2 in the Montgomerys and Armstrongs series. This book continues where book 1 left off and has Graeme’s brother Bowen heading to the McHugh keep to take over as Laird. He is taken with Genevieve who he finds out was Ian McHugh’s whore. Well there was a lot more to the story than that. They fall in love but when Bowen and the other Montgomery’s find out that Genevieve played a part in Eveline’s kidnapping from book 1 tensions are high and Bowen’s not sure Genevieve can be accepted. Another good Scottish historical from Maya Banks. I have really liked the historicals I’ve read of her so far and I have no doubt I will continue to like them. The story has its moments but overall I enjoyed the book immensely. 4 out of 5 (releases 3/19/13)

Swimming With Penguins by Charlie Richards is book 6 in Kontra’s Menagerie. In this story Yuma is swimming when he is shot. The man who shot him thought he was something else and takes Yuma home to be patched yup by the shooters son, Hunter. When Yuma turns back to a human he realizes that Hunter is his mate. Hunter is pretty messed up after his ex-boyfriend and his friends attacked Hunter with not only their fists but with bats. Needless to say Hunter and Yuma fall in love and Yuma’s friends help save Hunter from any more problems with his ex. It was a cute book and made me laugh. 3 out of 5 (FYI – when my oldest daughter saw the guy on the cover of this book I swear she practically swooned. She actually took a picture of him with her phone so she could have it to look at. lol)

Next up was Catlin’s Appaloosa by Charlie Richards which is book 2 in the series (yes, I’m jumping all over the place and not going in reading order). This story was about Catlin who is a police detective in charge of finding out about the John Doe that was brought into the hospital. Gallo (pronounced Guy-o) has lost his memory but he soons gets it back – especially after he turns in an Appaloosa in front of Catlin. Catlin takes him to his house and the pair fall in love. Catlin is happy that Gallo is a submissive but for me Gallo was a definite contradiction. He was submissive but turn into a horse when he thought his mate was in trouble. That’s great but it just, for me, didn’t fit with the rest of his characters action. 2 out of 5

Anything for You by Jessica Scott is a novella that’s kind of a continuation story of Shane and Jen from Because of You. This has Shane being an ass as he makes an appointment to get a vasectomy without telling Jen even though he knows she wants kids. You’ll have to find out more on Friday when I post my review. :) And don't miss her guest post tomorrow 2/13 where she'll be giving away a copy of the book!

Last for the week was Medium Well by Meg Benjamin. This is the story of a real estate agent, Danny, who is asked to sell a carriage house in historic San Antonio. He discovers that the place is haunted and it’s pretty gruesome for him to actually even go into the place as he sees ghost blood everywhere. He gets help from his mother, who he finds out comes from a long line of mediums and his assistant Biddy who he falls in love with. It’s a cute book that started off slowly but got better as it went on. 3.25 out of 5 (read for The Book Binge)

 


My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
*crickets*

Happy Reading!

Saturday Song

A friend of mine died recently and I had to attend her funeral today.  It was sad but some of the things Mary's family said about her made me smile and laugh.  She was a great lady and she will be missed.

On my way home this song came to mind which is weird since it's from an album that came out in 1991! lol  Anyway, it's an old song but one I really like - Calling You by Richard Marx.






I had a dream that you stood right in front of me
And called to me in black and white
Though I could see you, I couldn't reach you
You faded into the light


And when the sun turns a dream to reality
I'm left with such an empty space
I feel your spirit, know that I'm near it
I swear I can see your face


Hear me calling you
Calling you
But you just don't seem to answer anymore


Am I supposed to pretend I don't feel the pain
Like it happened only yesterday
No use in trying, to stop the crying
I can't make it go away


Hear me calling you
Calling you
But you just don't seem to answer anymore


I'm calling you
Calling you
And I'm afraid you won't answer anymore


Where is the healing you promised me
Maybe this feeling will burn in me forever


Hear me calling you
Calling you
But you just don't seem to answer anymore


I'm calling you
Calling you
And I'm afraid that you won't answer anymore


Calling you 
And I'm afraid that you won't answer anymore


Review: Dojo Boys: The Italian Connection by Alex A. Akira

Volume I finds Philip settling in Connecticut in disguise as he doesn't want to draw too much attention to his true line of work. Despite his caution, he meets and befriends a local rock musician Tommy Sear, who despairs of ever having his band make it.

Quickly smitten by the dark haired, shy Asian male that is Philip, Tommy seeks to make the young man his, but Philip doesn't believe in love, besides he has a very real problem, he can't seem to get the victim of his last burglary, green eyed, virile Italian male... out of his mind. 


With Philip's encouragement, Tommy renews his efforts to get his band Sear a record deal. He makes a demo and shortly after a scout contacts him, from Italy no less.

The Italian scout is coming to America hear them play in the hopes of signing Sear to the much sought after label Romano Studios. But Tommy has a secret and he's afraid that without Philip's help, they may not get the deal.


Our book opens with a thief sneaking into a house with the sole purpose of, well, doing what thieves do – steal stuff. The thief is shocked to find a beautiful man asleep on a couch in the room where the house safe is because he was told that the occupants were away. The thief takes time to admire the sleeping man and wishes that they had met at another time. Unfortunately for the thief the sleeping man awakes and there is a tense bit where we think that it’s all over for the thief. Instead the thief, who Sleeping Man thinks is a woman, (which he’s NEVER been attracted to) kisses Sleeping Man and knocks his socks off - especially when Sleeping Man feels the erection pressing into his leg.

Sleeping Man turns out to be Julian Romano. He’s been in Europe for the past 7 months trying to recover from a broken relationship – one that had lasted four years and one he thought would last a lifetime. The ex, Justin, was a cheater and when Julian finally saw Justin for who he really was, they slip. Julian was in a tailspin but since the thief kissed him he’s not been interested in anyone else, even going so far as to try to track the thief down. Julian decided to concentrate on the music business that he and his twin, Gregori, run and in doing so finds the band, Sear. Julian heads home to Connecticut to see Sear in person.

Philip is the thief. Philip is a platinum-haired blue-eyed man who’s half French and half Japanese. He’s had mega troubles in the past and is currently working for a dance company that is really an espionage organization. In a strange twist Philip ends up renting Julian’s carriage house without knowing it belongs to him. Even when Julian returns to America they never meet even though they live on the same property. Philip befriends a guy who works at a local coffee shop, Tommy, who also has a band, Sear. You can see where this is going, right? In a strange twist of events Philip and Julian meet again when Julian is scouting Sear but it seems that everything stands in their way, can they be together the way they both want or will they have to part?

Where to start in my review…? I guess I’ll start with the story which I liked, to a point. There are some parts I really liked and others…not so much. I didn’t realize when I agreed to review the book that it was part 1 of 2 and the 2 parts made up a full novel. That was a bit frustrating as there was so much that was left unfinished by the end of part one. I very much enjoyed the way Akira was slowly bringing our two main characters together. It was definitely in a roundabout way but I enjoyed the journey. Now that being said there were parts that I was confused about. Like…why there was a scene with Philip’s “bosses” in the story that led us to believe that their computers were being hacked? Besides the pseudo love scene between the men I couldn’t figure out why that was put in there. What purpose did it serve? There was also information about both Philip’s and Julian’s ex’s that we were told about but never got more information on. I realize, again, that this is book one but at least some explanation would have been appreciated. The story was also told in large part by memories and flashbacks and as it jumped to and fro I found myself frustrated.

Julian and Philip were, to me, polar opposites. Julian was confident and smooth – a man who had it together. Philip could be smooth and confident but I’m pretty sure that was an act. Part of the book Philip was shy but that too was an act. When Philip was honest about his past with Julian I believe we saw more of the true Philip than we had before. I think in order to truly “see” the man I’ll have to read part 2. My biggest issue with Julian and Philip was Julian. For him it was love at first sight and none other would do. He wasn’t afraid to come out and tell Philip this either and though Julian had known OF Philip he truly didn’t know him. After the heart ache that Justin provided for Julian I would have expected him to be more discerning.

In the end I thought it was a fun read. While frustrating at times I found it held my interest and I do find myself wondering what happens in the next portion of the book. If you plan on reading this then I recommend having part 2 handy so you can continue with the story.

Rating: 3 out of 5 


Alex A. Akira

Review: All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey

(This review contains spoilers but I have clearly identified that section so you can avoid it if you'd like.)
 
Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort—better known as the Northern Star Lodge—while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.

As the daughter of the lodge's longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she's always been "one of the guys", her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it's clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.

Katie's been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she's afraid it's too late. Giving her heart to a man who can't wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave—could it be that everything he's ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?


Josh and his siblings were all raised at Northern Star Lodge. His siblings went off to college or work – just got on with their lives one by one. When their dad died Josh was the only one left living in the lodge and the siblings just kind of left him there assuming he’d take over and run the lodge. He did, but he was incredibly resentful for many years about the fact that it was assumed he’d stay and work when he might have had dreams of his own that didn’t include staying in his hometown of Whitford for the rest of his life.

In the previous book Josh finally spoke up to his siblings about his feelings and while they felt bad about it they still had their own lives and businesses. They did agree to try to build up business so that they might get a manager for the lodge in the future…or sell it.

While Josh is going about his every day life with Rosie, his housekeeper and pseudo mother, his best friend Katie, Rosie’s daughter, is in love with him. She doesn’t let on that she’s loved him for years and to him she’s just one of the guys but she still has hope in her heart that one day he’ll see her for the girl she is. Well, he does. Katie’s staying at the lodge and goes to the kitchen for a midnight snack. When Josh see’s her in her boxer shorts and small tank he suddenly realizes she’s hot. They eventually start being friends with benefits but Katie wants more. She doesn’t want to hold Josh down though and if he gets the chance to leave it will break her heart but she’ll let him go.

I’ve been looking forward to Josh’s story and it was a good one. Josh, of course is not in top form in this book because he’s pretty angry and bitter, but I thought Stacey did a great job of showing how Katie could bring him out of his doldrums and see the bright side of life.

Katie is amazing in this story. She’s just an average girl (that loves sports, of course) and I loved that about her. She could dress up and be girly or lay on the couch and watch football with the guys and in both instances be completely herself. She was really good for Josh in so many different ways and she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. She kept Josh grounded which was exactly what he needed.

Josh, the poor guy, was so confused about what he wanted in life. He feels trapped but it’s not because he hates taking care of the lodge. He likes it (though he also resents it) – and is very good at it – but he was never given the choice of whether to stay or go that his brothers and sister had. I think I’d probably feel the same way if I had plans and they were thwarted with no hope of that being changed in sight. As I said, Katie was good for him and he needed the love and support that she gave him. Except near the end of the book when he was an idiot, he treated her very well and I liked them together.

Now the issues that I had with the story were twofold. The first part was the romance. As much as I liked them both and liked them together I just didn’t feel the sense of melding together that I’ve felt in the previous books. In those books there was always a part that had me nodding my head and saying yep, that clinches it. A part that despite the fact that they were two individuals the two were becoming a single unit, does that make sense? I didn’t feel that with Josh and Katie as much as in previous books and it was a little disappointing.

(This part has spoilers)


The second was Josh’s homecoming. I guess this is a spoiler as you now know he left but he went off and tried to find what he felt was missing in his life. We learned that while he was having fun he was missing Katie and not really feeling the satisfaction he thought he would. I know he returned for Katie, obviously, but we weren’t in his head and I would have loved to have gone through the thought process with him. He went from being gone to suddenly deciding to go home and stay there. After such a long time of being stuck as it were, I think it was just too sudden for me and didn’t make as much sense as I would have liked it to. /end spoiler

That being said I really did like the book and it was great seeing the characters from previous books in this one. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the Kowalski’s and I hope it’s about Liz!
 

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Shannon Stacey

Review: The Better to See You by Kate SeRine

Once upon a time, a spell went awry and Make Believe characters were cast into the ordinary world. And the results aren’t always happily ever after…

Everyone thinks fairy godmothers can do no wrong. But if not for a certain spell mis-cast by Lavender Seelie, Cinderella’s former fairy godmother, the Tales would not be stuck in the Here and Now. Fortunately for Lavender, she’s about to get a second chance at a happy ending…

The Refuge, a sanctuary for wayward Tales, seems like the perfect place for Lavender to start a new life—especially when she discovers an unexpected ally in Seth, the brooding werewolf who’s been typecast as a villain ever since his run in with Little Red Riding Hood. But when humans from nearby towns start turning up dead, their bodies mutilated with archaic Tale symbols, Lavender wonders if Seth’s deep sensuality has blinded her to the truth. And that distraction could put innocent lives in danger. Including her own…


Lavender is a fairy and has been having a hard time with the Charming’s for years. She was Cinderella's fairy godmother but Cindy has turned into a snob and someone Lavender once thought of as a friend has betrayed her. Then there’s ye ole prince, James Charming, who’s smarmy and gross and she’s not real upset that she shrunk his love stick. James is pissed, however, when Lavender accidentally sets their house on fire. Tess, otherwise known as Red (as in Little Red Riding Hood) sends Lavender off to The Refuge to hide from James and try to start a life anew. The Refuge is a town of Tales (characters that used to live in Make Believe) and Lavender is looking forward to being an independent woman.

The person that Tess actually sends Lavender to is the Big Bad Wolf aka Seth Wolf, who is Tess’s ex-boyfriend. Seth isn’t thrilled with Lavender as she’s a magical being and he’s not a fan of magical beings. He does end up liking Lavender once he gets to know her a bit and they stick together when people start disappearing in The Refuge and Ordinaries (humans) start dying in a ritualistic way. Lavender recognizes the magic that is being used in the rituals and she’s determined to find out who’s behind it.

This book was a total surprise for me. Yes, the blurb caught my eye but when I started reading it I found I was completely taken with the whole premise of the book. Meeting the characters in the book that were actually people from Make Believe (fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters) was fun and interesting. We met Tom, Tom the Piper’s son, Little Bo Peep, Puck from A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Hansel and Gretel and many more. It was a very different approach but was very well done.

I really liked Lavender’s character in this book. I loved that she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind as well as show her vulnerability. She was a pretty tough cookie as she’d been though quite a bit but she didn’t let that get her completely down. She made me laugh on more than one occasion and that's always a plus in my book.  Seth was a hunk a burnin’ love. lol He was kind, smart, fun, funny and a wonderful hunk of a wolf. He was kind and loving toward Lavender and I really liked the two of them together.

The story was pure fantasy but fast-paced and engrossing. Yes, there’s definitely a suspension of belief here but if you can manage that it’s well worth it. There was love, sex, intrigue, murder and much more. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Kate SeRine