Review Archive

Review: PENT UP by Damon Suede

Posted December 4, 2015 By Jennifer

PentUpLGAuthor: Damon Suede

Title: Pent Up

Release Date: November 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62798-050-0

Pages: 290

Formats: paperback, ebook

 

PENT UP: Mix business with pleasure and take cover.

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold-running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bullet catcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford, and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.

Purchase Links: Dreamspinner     All Romance Ebooks     Amazon     iBooks     Barnes & Noble

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Before writing a review I prefer to check out other reviews for the book to avoid repeating what everyone else says, and I have to admit being completely confused about the response to Pent Up.

Most of the reviews I’ve seen focus on the romance. I agree, the romance was awesome. Lots of tension, lots of build up. And lots of heat when they finally figured everything out. I liked that their dynamic was a little wonky and unbalanced. Smooth, they were not. Made their journey more real. Many reviewers mention not warming up to one or more of the leads, which is unfortunate. However, I didn’t have that problem. I loved the complexity of the characters. They were flawed, they didn’t always do what I wanted them to do, yet I found them incredibly interesting anyway. I had no idea what to expect because there was no template to follow. Reuben was a recovering alcoholic hanging on by the skin of his teeth and Andy was a little shit sometimes. So what? They fit.

But what I liked even more was that the romance was only a fraction of this book. Pent Up has so many layers that it is hard to know where to begin. There’s a real sense of danger. That’s rare to find. Is Andy a good guy or a bad guy? For once, the blurb doesn’t spoil it. Reuben doesn’t know. We don’t know. You may think you know what’s going on, but I assure you, you don’t. The truth is so much better.

The mystery itself starts out slow, allowing the characters to breath a little and get to know each other. They have a lot to unpack. Reuben specifically didn’t take Andy seriously, so there was a greater sense of urgency to catch-up when things turned pear-shaped. Andy was being cagey, Reuben didn’t know what he was doing, and anything could happen. What could be better?

I admit that I don’t know much about venture capitalism so some of the specifics of the business went over my head. Because of that, some of the dialogue exchanges were confusing, almost like a different language. Considering that this was a solo POV novel, the fact that Reuben didn’t understand what was going on, there was no way for him to explain it to us. I’m fine with that. The important bits took care of themselves. The twist at the end was both expected and odd at the same time. I loved the unconventional resolution. Again, not knowing the money market, I didn’t really understand the logistics, but Suede sold it, leaving me, Reuben, and Andy very happy.

Overall, if you are looking for a romance for the sake of a romance, this may not be the book for you. If you want a romance that is all that and more, then I suggest giving Pent-Up a go. Personally, I think it’s Suede’s best yet.

 

*review originally posted HERE*

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2940011487101_p0_v3_s260x420Author: Vivi Anna
Series: Billionaires After Dark, #1
Release Date: December 4, 2014
Pages: 52
Reviewed by: Sheri
FCC Notice: All books reviewed on this site are purchased by the reviewer, or supplied by the author or publisher for the purpose of sharing honest opinion. This site, and it’s reviewers, receive no other additional compensation, and reviews are not influenced by any outside entity.

 

The Werewolf Liaison: part one – After a terrible accident in the ambulance, EMT Olivia Jordan didn’t expect to wake up chained to a bed. The tall dark sexy man holding her prisoner is not what she expected either. But Garrick Blackthorn’s not your everyday kidnapper, no, there’s something extraordinary about him. Something that attracts Olivia. Something dark and secret.

(originally published as Bad to the Bone: Blackthorn Wolves, #1, 2005, 2011)

 

After reading the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to get started. I enjoy a good paranormal romance, and who doesn’t like being chained to a bed by a tall, dark sexy man? Having read and loved many of Vivi Anna’s stories from Harlequin’s Nocturne series, I was looking forward to the first novella in her Blackthorn Wolves Series. Unfortunately, the two main characters never had a chance to grow in such a short story. Olivia and Garrick were likeable, but there wasn’t enough development for me to really connect to them.

The opening scene was at a McDonald’s restaurant. There was a reference to Olivia’s bad eating habits and her pants … which I didn’t get. Maybe it was an attempt at a joke. I’m unsure why it was referred to in the first place.

Then, faster than the blink of an eye, Olivia’s world turned upside down. She’s taken against her will, woke up chained to a wall in a basement, presumably by a psycho-killer, yet in the next paragraph she’s all hot and bothered for him. Really??? This story was labeled romance, not erotica, so Olivia’s nonchalant response to her dire situation didn’t seem like a reasonable reaction.

But then they have a heart to heart talk, where Garrick confesses that he is a Werewolf. She accepts this unknown world, and everything that he says, way too easily. Less than 24 hours and she is prepared to make life-changing decisions and become a werewolf. Ugh…. Maybe it would have been more believable if there was some kind of mating magnetism that drew them together, some world building or long-forgotten paranormal memories so that the puzzle pieces fell into place. As it was, her extreme acceptance without any real thought to the consequences shocked me, especially after her age is revealed. Having Garrick read Olivia’s full date of birth from her driver’s licenses wasn’t necessary. Not only did it age the character, making the book no longer timeless, but also at forty-nine years old, one might think Olivia would be more levelheaded. I pictured a much younger person based on her behavior and the way she talked.

In terms of expectations, this one didn’t match up. I was continually pulled out of the story, wondering why and what was going on or looking back to confirm I didn’t miss any vital information. Then the blurb said she was chained to a bed when in reality she was chained to a wall. The interactions between them felt forced at times and not believable, so I never saw them as a real couple. Which is good since the ending includes an awkward cliffhanger, one that leaves Garrick craving the taste of her blood again, yet not once did he bite her anywhere in the text of this story.

Too much was missing to make this first installment a solid start to The Werewolf Liaison series. Literally, it was just way too quick to make it realistic. She was kidnapped, she was turned on, they had sex, another wolf attacked her, and then Garrick made her go away … the end.

Would I read the next book in the series?  Yes, but only if it is longer. It ended so abruptly, and I hate not knowing what happens next. Vivi Anna is a talented full-length novel writer and tells a wonderful story, but in my opinion her gift falls short in novellas.

Review: SPRUNG (Witchbound, #2) by Kelbian Noel

Posted September 3, 2014 By hmccubbin

FinalSPRUNG_coverSMAuthor: Kelbian Noel
Release Date: April 4, 2013
Pages: 336
ISBN #: 9781484044629
FTC Disclaimer: Book was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Blurb (from author website)

…Follow the Wind

Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson’s life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.

What happens when the one with all the power makes the biggest mistakes? Welcome to my life.

Four months ago, I couldn’t have been happier. When my parents got divorced, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Especially when Mom married a guy half her age. But then I found out I wasn’t the average Joana. Discovering magic existed and, best of all, I could use it, made everything easier to deal with. That is until I got a little too spell happy. But what girl wouldn’t defend her best friend against a world-class creep? Now I’m stuck in a nightmare, forced to make life and death decisions I never dreamed I’d face.

Love the magic, hate the responsibility.

 

 

Review **spoilers**

Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson’s life is almost perfect. When Skye’s parents got divorced, she wasn’t exactly thrilled. Especially when her mother married a guy half her age. However, Skye discovering magic existed and figuring out she could use it, made everything easier to deal with. That is until she got a little too spell happy. Now she is stuck in a nightmare, forced to make life and death decisions.

This is the second in the Witchbound series, where we were first introduced to teen girls and boys who have the capability of very powerful magic. I was excited to read this story after reading the first one, but from page one I was very confused. Where were Baltimore and Brooklyn from the first story? This was an entirely different character, in an entirely different area of the country with an entirely different life. At first, I thought I may have missed a book in between these two but only when I got to the last quarter of “Sprung” did I realize this was a story that would eventually weave Baltimore and her brother, Brooklyn, in from “Roots”.

Throughout most of “Sprung” I felt like the rug was jerked out from under me. In the first book, I was thrown deep into Baltimore’s life. All of a sudden, here is Skye and her friends and family. Her Grandmother (known as Nan) is in a nursing home. Skye has been lead to believe it is because Nan is senile. However, Nan is ultimately Skye’s teacher in magic and helps her fine tune her power. Skye’s father eventually comes into play and explains a bit about why Nan is in this home.

I kept wondering when the characters from “Roots” would make their appearance. When one of them did (Ramon finally made an appearance who was a major character in the first book) it felt like the series was finally coming together, but it took awhile to get to this point. This book did not delve deep into Skye’s life; it showed how she misuses her power (she accidentally kills a boy then brings him back to life all because she was defending her friend) and plants a seed of doubt about her stepfather. I did like how she defended her friend and thus shows the reader the power of friendship.

From the way “Sprung” ended, I expected Baltimore to be put on a different journey in “Roots”. I think this second book would have been better served if written from Baltimore’s point of view introducing the reader to Skye that way. We could see how they ‘spy’ on her/protect her and still get a great view of what is going on with Skye and her family.

The storyline is unique and I can see where the author is going. Given what I have read so far, I expect Book 3 & 4 (if there is one) to have a different character and in the end all the Elementals come together to fight whatever evil threatens their existence. I’m looking forward to finding out. If you like magical realism, a bit of mystery, and enjoyed “Roots”, then give this book a try!

 

HeatherBanner

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Review: ROOTS (Witchbound, #1) by Kelbian Noel

Posted September 1, 2014 By hmccubbin

Author: Kelbian Noel
Release Date: March 15, 2013
Pages: 288
ISBN #: 9781484044629
FTC Disclaimer: Book was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Blurb (from author website)

Earth is Solid…

I don’t consider myself a witch, that’s my parents’ thing. I’ve never really believed in magic either. Sure, I tried it a few times. Fell for the whole “magic happens” thing. But it didn’t happen to me. No amount of rhyming stopped my parents from moving me halfway across the country. Not one spell stopped me from being labeled the town freak.

And worst of all, no matter how many times I begged the Universe to bring my twin back, I was ignored. Until now.

He’s back all right. And in a magical bind of his own. Not the magic-won’t-work-for-me kind either. In fact, it’s working a little too well. Too dark. Too deep.

It turns out our entire family’s magical roots run just as deep and my brother didn’t end up where he is by accident. So I’m going to help him. But magic isn’t really on my side. Nope. Once I finally get the craft under control, I’m expected to abandon the one person in the world who’s closest to me, just to save myself.

 

 

Review **spoilers**

The summary caught my eye making me wonder how the main character, Baltimore, would get caught up in the magic she knew she had for wont of a more normal life. Shunning something we know is a part of us never seems to work so I knew she’d have to use it to save someone or something.

Baltimore did not keep it a secret her family practiced magic (they are Wiccan) but she never really tried to conjure anything until her twin brother, Brooklyn, left home severing his ties with their parents. After Baltimore contacts him and hatches a secret plan to visit she finds out he has moved in with a group of people and has a girlfriend (Joslin) who uses Brooklyn to try and kill Baltimore. I never saw this twist coming, and it definitely kept me reading. Thus, the beginning of “Witchbound-Book 1” takes you on a roller coaster ride into the magic of Baltimore’s family and new Wiccan friends.

I loved that the story did not star the typical girl looking for love and finding magic on the way. Baltimore missed her twin brother, but since he was not on good terms with her parents, she had to be creative about visiting him. Once she arrives at his house, her life is turned upside down and the reader can empathize with how much of a struggle it is for Brooklyn to embrace her magic and figure out how to use it. She finds out from her Grandfather that her brother is under such a strong spell by Joslin no one can break it. She is determined to prove him wrong.

However, once Baltimore (with help from her new friends in the Mystic Circle) was able to save him I felt the story lost it’s momentum. Her brother was written off as unsaveable because no one had ever found a way to break this kind of binding spell. Even Baltimore’s grandfather wrote off his own grandson. Somehow, in a few pages, Baltimore was able to save her brother and bring him back to reality. With ¾ of the story talking about how hard/impossible this would be I felt the rescue was too easy. On the flipside, throughout the book, all the characters are relatable and it didn’t take long for the author to set up what seems like a ‘love triangle’.

There wasn’t much that interrupted the flow of the story except for a few editing mistakes like “your/you’re” and “there/their”. Also, a few formatting errors came across my Kindle, which may just be the way it is via the ebook.

This book has numerous layers of research supporting the story. The myths/stories/spells are deep and convincing for this genre. The romance is light, believable and definitely leaves room for romantic relationships to grow over the next two books. However, the ending of this book was sudden; the transitions between some scenes were awkward so I didn’t feel like there was much of a cliffhanger at the end making me scramble to find the second book.

Overall, Witchbound –Roots is a unique take on good vs bad. You will become invested in Baltimore and her family and you want to know if they’ll be able to defeat the evil that is trying to harness Baltimore’s powers. So, if you enjoy Magic Realism, Action or Supernatural-like stories then this series is definitely up your alley.

 

HeatherBanner

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Review: BLOOD & THUNDER by Charlie Cochet

Posted August 25, 2014 By mantasticfiction

BloodThunder200Author: Charlie Cochet
Release Date: August 4th, 2014
Pages: 240
ISBN #: 9781632161772
FTC Disclaimer: Book was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

 

LYNN:

I’ve read this author before and loved her writing. I was totally unprepared for this. It was fantastic. Blood & Thunder is the second book in the THIRDS series, and I highly recommend reading them in order.

 

This book starts right where Hell & High Water left off, and once again we are getting the story through Sloane and Dex’s POV, which is something I loved about the first book. Their relationship has definitely intensified, along with their feelings for each other. I loved seeing the power struggle between these two. With Sloane having to be the team leader, he’s got to make some tough decisions. And Dex being, well Dex, is certainly pushing Sloane’s buttons, in a good and bad way.

 

I really liked how the author showed the softer side to both men too. We see Sloane beating himself up over his past and doubting that Dex will stick around after he learns the truth. I loved seeing that side of Sloane. Meanwhile, we see Dex being his usual funny self, but also feeling heartbroken by Sloane’s mental and physical distance. Now while I hate when characters I love are put through the wringer like this, I believe it makes them stronger – individually and as a couple. This is true for Sloane and Dex. I loved being there and watching their journey to find happiness with each other. I look forward to seeing them again in the next book.

 

TINA:

 

I totally agree Lynn. In the second book we get to know the characters more. They become three dimensional – more depth, emotions, and investment in each other and the team. One of the things I loved about this second book was the knowledge gained about Sloane’s inner struggle with his decisions to pursue Dex. His choices manifest through his dreams. I feel the author uses these instances to further speak to Sloane’s strength of character, leadership, and depth of emotions. He is a very strong character and the new revelations do not detract from that image at all.

 

The author reveals even more about Dex’s character as well. Labelled by me as a jokester in book one, we get to see that extend towards the entire team. It allows them to deal with whatever the emotional crisis is at the moment. Dex is really a selfless person. His heart is not only with Sloane, but with the rest of the team and that is brought more to light.

 

Speaking of the other characters, we are invited to look deeper into who they are. Nothing like a good book with strong supporting characters. The author has put together a good team that I would like to defend me anytime. Additionally, they have each been given enough drama in their lives to reestablish the strong family unit.

 

The one thing that I did not like as much was the beginning. Wait…let me explain why. Hell & High Water and Blood & Thunder gives the impression of being written as a 600+ page book that was split into two installments. That would have been fine if I had just put down the first book. However, in my case, since I read H&HW several weeks ago, I spent more time than I would have liked trying to remember events and people from the first book. I would have preferred a few reminders to bring me up to speed at the beginning of B&T.

 

All that said, by the time chapter three began, I was soooooooooooo enthralled with this book that I could not put it down. I experienced many emotions. I even found myself laughing out loud, talking out loud, and at a couple of points, struggling not to cry out loud. I am glad no one was home when I was reading this. Blood & Thunder gets a 5-stars rating from me. I am eagerly awaiting the next release of this series.

 

DOLORIANNE:

 

I agree 100% with Lynn and Tina about the characterization of Sloane and Dex; great characters made better by the added complexity from Blood & Thunder. The first story was heavily Dex-centric so I liked that this one focused on Sloane. Past and present shame made him question his own leadership, and sometimes his sanity, which created an interesting dynamic. In addition, the roles of the other team members became clearer, allowing for many fun and endearing moments. Especially in relation to Dex, who is arguably the least complicated character. Even without their POV’s, there is no doubt that the team approves of the new guy. I look forward to hearing directly from them in their projected books.

 

I loved the human, therian, and romance elements of Blood & Thunder. I had problems with the action/mystery elements. The pacing was a bit frustrating because the reader knows Sloane is struggling but isn’t given much insight above the obvious until the very end. The same can be said for the clues the team acted on. I did not expect a lot of investigative-type events because it clearly states that Destructive Delta is not an investigative team. However, the clues provided were infrequent and required the reader to take huge leaps to follow. The ending had a great hook, yet lost impact because it felt rushed and unsupported, a major surprise after the balanced perfection of Hell & High Water. I wouldn’t want to lose any of the character building from this book, but I believe adding a few more pages/scenes/events devoted to the crisis would have connected more of the dots.

 

There are two other observations that readers may or may not like. The first issue: there has been minimal shifting. Personally, I am loving the shifter origins of the THIRDS series so I am not concerned about the amount of time spent in shifted form. The second issue: everyone and their brother, literally, is gay. The set-up for the core group makes sense, so does the bonus couple added in B&T. But as more characters are introduced, it would be easy to slip into convenient/soap opera territory. I hope that doesn’t happen.

 

OVERALL:

 

We all agree that the characters drive this second installment of the THIRDS series. The war is complicated and ongoing and will unfold in due time, though we disagree on how slow or fast that will be. Nothing about this series is typical so expect the unexpected. We love that the shifter aspect is unique and fresh, so even readers who don’t generally like shifter stories will find enjoyment in these books. And the humor … so good.

 
 

EmoRating4_ThumbsUp

 
 

You can see the group chat review of book one in the THIRDS series, HELL & HIGH WATER, on this week’s “Rec My Weekend” post.

 

Also, check out Charlie’s musical inspiration for the series, and BLOOD & THUNDER, on this week’s “Words & Music Monday” post.

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