Review: Spiral of Need by Suzanne Wright #ParanormalRomanticSuspense

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Spiral of Need (The Mercury Pack, #1)“Nothing like being accused of attempted murder to complete a girl’s Friday evening.” What a great opening line to a new series by a favorite author!

I have been a fan of Suzanne Wright for quite some time – since I first found her “Phoenix Pack” series. The stories are well written, have great backstory and, within a paranormal romance setup, speaks to issues we all face today. Prejudice, hatred, all the nasty habits of humanity. But her works speak of the good as well – love, duty, honor. All the things that, if we would only concentrate on those instead of hating one another, we could become better, stronger, and more worthy of our presence on this beautiful planet.

Now, Ms. Wright has a spin-off that melds the Phoenix Pack with the newly created Mercury Pack. Led by Nick Axton and his mate, Shaya Critchley, a previous member of the Phoenix Pack, this first book is just as strongly written, and just as filled with wonderful characters and situations as the Phoenix series.

We first met Derren, the unwilling Beta of the Mercury Pack, in “Carnal Secrets,” book three of the Phoenix series. Broken and bitter from years imprisoned as a 14-year-old for a crime he didn’t commit, Derren is tough, introverted, and brutal. And the one thing he hates, more than anything else, is a Seer. But when Cain Holt calls, Derren can’t say no. He owes Cain, another shifter juvie prisoner, a favor. And he can’t turn down Cain’s request to rescue, and protect, Alyssa “Ally” Marshall from an intolerable situation in her present pack. Of course, Derren has every reason to hate Seers. Not only was he betrayed by a Seer, whose son committed the rape Derren was accused and sent to prison for. His Alpha and best friend, Nick, and his enforcers Marcus and Roni were also betrayed by Seers. Yep. Having a Seer in your pack can be a wonderful thing – but a bad Seer can be as bad as a bad Alpha – deadly and destructive.

Suzanne continues her wonderful world-building and character building, her story telling strong and well designed as usual. Betrayal, hatred, back-stabbing and murder are all part of the story – and yet the strong bindings of family and pack are intertwined, pulling the story forward and drawing me into Suzanne’s world once again. Suzanne, like Eve Langlais, is a strong writer of paranormal romance without the ridiculousness of so many other paranormals. Her female characters, both the good and the bad, are truly strong characters, whether you love them or hate them – and some of them you really, really hate! My ‘go-to’ authors for nights when I need to read strong women, complex plots and a great world so close to our own.

I received “Spiral of Need” from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. The only thing I would change is the title – in my opinion it doesn’t really ‘fit’ the book, but otherwise, I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes strong characters and well written storylines. I would call it more “Romantic Paranormal Suspense” than simple “Paranormal Romance.” It is stronger than simple PR.

Publishing TODAY!

Review: Proving Ground by Stanalei Fletcher #RomanticSuspense

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Proving GroundCaitlin Malone is one tough cookie. Oh, she doesn’t realize it yet. Not when her first assignment as a Northstar Security agent winds up getting her partner shot. Just a simply tracking job, but Caitlin’s inability to follow orders, and her impulsiveness, nearly gets Sloan dead. Disgraced, she is sent back to Oregon by her boss to talk to her father, a former Northstar partner, and to get her head on straight. But arriving at her father’s house in Oregon she finds he isn’t there. When her old flame and long-time friend, John MacAlistair, walks in the door she meets him with a shotgun, while he greets her with the news that her father is in the hospital. The bullet in his back that was too dangerous to remove when he was shot has moved.

Shocked, Caitlin is forced to accept that she may lose her father. Their strained relationship over the years after she lost her mother at seven years old, and her father lost his wife, was exacerbated by her father’s inability to understand his young daughter resulting in him dropping her in a small town in Oregon and extending his business trips over longer and longer periods until she saw him only rarely. It finally reached the breaking point when they fought, two years ago, over her taking a job at Northstar and moving to DC. Harsh words flowed, and Caitlin walked out the door. Of course, it was all made worse when John’s grandmother, who had been like a mother to Caitlin, dies and John took her to bed for her first time the night of the funeral – and then walked out the door and didn’t return.

Betrayals. First from an icy and distant father who taught her to be a hardass then pitched a fit when she followed in his footsteps, cutting her out of his life. And then her best friend John takes her and then leaves her. What else was she to do?

When a bike rally leads to Caitlin’s attempted murder and a massive forest fire set as a distraction so terrorists could rob a biotech lab for deadly pathogens, Caitlin has to drag her badly injured body across the mountains to reach safety. When John, a forest ranger, hears from his uncle that Caitlin is missing in the fire he has himself dropped into the fire zone to find her. What follows shows that, while Caitlin may not always be centered and focused, she is, as previously stated, one tough cookie.

Terrorists, a fire that has blown up out of control, and a mad rush across rugged territory makes this a fast moving, exciting tale. The characters are well written and believable. Besides the high-tension suspense we also watch as Caitlin learns to tear down the walls around herself and push back at a father who she wants desperately to love, but simply doesn’t know how. I can’t say that I completely agreed with the author’s take on the relationship and how the blame for the relationship issues between her and her father and her and John were handled, but I am sure there are those out there who don’t have such a brittle relationship with the concepts of love and family who will find it quite rewarding. Caitlin is immature in certain ways, but that immaturity is understandable and made me like her more.

I received “Proving Ground” from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Review: Catalina and the Winter Texan by Hebby Roman #RomanceOver40

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Catalina And The Winter Texan“Stop this attitude that older people ain’t any good anymore! We’re as good as we ever were – if we ever were any good.” – Dolly Parton

I’m going to tell you a secret. Young people don’t get it, I know, but just because you are older, that doesn’t mean you can’t fall in love. It just means you have a lot of history behind you – and sometimes working out the details can be a real pain in the backside.

Catalina and Manny both have histories. Some good, like their grown children, and Manny’s grandchildren. And they both have a lot of pain in their backgrounds, as well as all the good stuff. Both are widowed, both have been alone for quite some time. But when Manny shows up on Catalina’s doorstep, literally, to rent a space in her run-down RV Park on the beach on Padre Island, they soon find that finding someone again can be sweet. But it can also be harder than either expect.

Catalina and Manny are great characters. Both over forty, “Why did young people think everyone over forty had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel?” both with families, his in Chicago, hers in Houston, they both have their own lives, far from one another. Neither think they should explore the instant attraction. But when Catalina is being harassed on all sides, by quadrupled taxes, storm damage, and a development company who wants to take her little piece of heaven, her dream, away from her, Manny steps in to help.

The story is realistic in ways I completely understand. Trust is difficult. And with both their families extremely important to them, can they find a way to be together? Do they even want to try?

I got a huge kick out of this book. It was lovely not only reading about people who are older than twenty, it was also interesting to watch two Hispanic people as they fight their own cultural biases about family, dreams, and what it means to be together. Very happy making for me.

I received Catalina and the Winter Texan from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

About this author

Hebby RomanSince the young age of ten years old, Hebby Roman has known that her true calling is literature. Although her desire was evident, she took a slightly roundabout route of achieving those childhood goals. Raised on the border between Texas and Mexico, Hebby graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas in Austin with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She applied her skills as a financial analyst in industries as diverse as television, national airlines, and oil and gas companies. The success Hebby found in this field resulted in her selection for inclusion in the first edition of Who’s Who in American Women.

Thankfully for romance readers, Hebby eventually turned her attention back to writing. Strongly influenced by the culture of her hometown, her novels centered around Latino characters. After she met and married her husband Luis, a native of Puerto Rico, her interest in Latino heritage expanded to include the rich mosaic of Hispanic tradition in the Caribbean. Her books, such as Midnight Promise, have enjoyed great success and Hebby was awarded Romantic Times Magazine “Texas Author” award. When Hebby finds spare time, she enjoys having romantic dinners with her husband, travelling, reading, playing duplicate bridge, and being a baseball mom. She is also a member of the national organization, Romance Writers of America, as well as two local author’s organizations. Arlington, Texas is where Hebby makes her home with Luis and their two sons.

 

Review: Power Shift by Calinda B and Tina Winograd #ReadingAlley

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Power Shift“Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

Chia Petit wants, desperately, to keep her little corner of Alaska safe – for both shifters and humans alike. She has worked hard over the last three years to make sure that happens, setting up rules and regulations for what you can and cannot do in Charming, Alaska. So far, it is working, and most everyone loves the Charming Queen of Rules. Of course, not everyone likes that Chia has set up a safe place for shifters. And politics being politics, well, people love you, but humans are incredibly fickle . . . and that very fickle nature means that Chia’s life has suddenly turned to garbage in the last 24-hours. And it all centers around that jerk-off Hung Durand. Bounty hunter, total ass, and massive pain in Chia’s backside. She wants him dead. But first? First, she wants to do him.

There are a lot of things to like about “Power Shift.” There are lions and tigers and bears (oh, my), and a wonderful group of characters and personalities. Chia’s roommate is a very old vampire, and the two of them are hysterical with their practical jokes and interactions. Cecil Carpenter, Husky Shifter, town drifter and barhopper, is probably my favorite character. He is loyal and courageous (even though he is terrified at the things he must do to keep Chia safe when the world starts coming apart around their ears.) Dick Nighthawk (real name “White” but you can’t take advantage of the Alaskan Natives without them thinking you are one of them) and Red Mountainbear (ditto) are bad guys you love to hate. And the idea of ghosts that haunt you, literally, because you fail to face the bad things you have done in your life, was quite interesting. Overall, I would normally really enjoy this book. However, Chia herself brought down my enjoyment of the story. She has a lot of good qualities, but her obsession with sex soon became tiresome, then caused me to lose respect. The world is burning around you, you need to focus and save people’s lives, and yet all she can think of is sex – so she misses signs, misses opportunities – and gets people killed. It was both distracting and irritating, and finally dropped my rating by two full stars.

If you can overlook Chia’s irritating personality and obsession with sex, the rest of it is really good. I started skipping over the parts with Chia thinking – anything. It detracted from the book – which is a shame, because the rest of the book, without the obsessions, was quite good.
I received this book from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. Oh, and I really like the cover!

Review: Threads of Evidence by Lea Wait #CozyMystery #NeedleworkSamplers

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18938930“Cleaning Woolwork: If the woolwork is not much soiled, stretch it in a frame and wash it over with a quart of water into which a tablespoon of ox gall has been dropped. If much soiled, wash with gin and soft soap, in the proportions of a quarter of a pound of soap to half a pint of gin. – The Dictionary of Needlework: An Encyclopaedia of Artistic, Plain, and Fancy Needlework, London, 1882”

The members of Mainely Needlework understand the importance, and the history, of those pieces meticulously stitched by hand and folded gently into a girl’s trousseau. Saving the old, and creating new to carry on the tradition. Now that Angie Curtis is back in Haven Harbor (well, at least for six-months. Really. Just six months, then she is back to Arizona.) she is managing her grandmother’s business, though she really knows nothing about needlework. But she is good with business and she is able to help with her grandmother’s wedding to Reverend Tom, so life is good on the Maine Coast. And when Angie and her friend Sarah are asked to appraise the contents of the old Victorian known as Aurora, a house with a dark history, things are looking up for Mainely Needlework and Angie. Sold to a famous actress, Skye West, the decrepit house is slated to be brought back to its former glory. But things aren’t quite as they seem. Skye has another agenda. Back in 1970, Jasmine Gardener, daughter of the Gardeners who owned Aurora, died. And Skye is determined to find out who murdered her.

The only problem? Angie, as a former private investigator’s assistant, is comingclose to the answer.  But someone is determined to assure that Skye doesn’t find out what happened to Jasmine. And if arsenic doesn’t work, fire might. The answers may be in the unlikeliest place – the needlework samplers stitched by Jasmine’s mother after her death and being restored by the Mainely Needlework stitchers.

This is the second in the Mainely Needlework series, but you can comfortably read it (though the first one sounds really good!)

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Lea WaitMaine author Lea Wait writes the NYT-praised 7-book Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, the latest of which is SHADWS ON A MAINE CHRISTMAS, and the Mainely Needlepoint series which debuted with TWISTED THREADS in January, 2015, and is followed by THREADS OF EVIDENCE in August, 2015, and THREAD AND GONE, in December, 215. Wait also writes acclaimed historical novels for ages 8 and up set in 19th century Maine, the latest of which, UNCERTAIN GLORY, takes place in a small northern town during the first two weeks of the Civil War. Lea’s LIVING AND WRITING ON THE COAST OF MAINE, about being an author and living year ’round in Maine with a husband who’s an artist also includes writing tips. Lea did her undergraduate work at Chatham College (now University) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her graduate work at New York University. While she was raising the four daughters she adopted as a single parent she worked as a manager for AT&T. Now she writes full time and speaks at schools and libraries. She loves rowing, visiting historical sites, and, of course, reading and writing. See her website, www.leawait.com, and the blog she writes with other Maine Mystery writers, http://www.mainecrimewriters.com, and friend her on FB and Goodreads.

 

Check This Out – Sitting Pretty In Pink Ribbon by Gigi Lopez #BreastCancer

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For FREE at eBooksHabit.com Sitting Pretty In Pink Ribbon
by Gigi Lopez

Get This Book for FREE

(The book is free on Amazon, but if you find it funny, touching, and uplifting, won’t you make a donation to breast cancer research?)

Sitting Pretty In Pink Ribbon is a funny and honest chronicle of a young woman’s battle with a breast cancer diagnosis at just 29. Her endless search for love, stability, and balance make for an inspiringly hilarious and heartbreaking story of a confused survivor trying to make sense of the world and her place in it. Written like an unapologetic heart-to-heart session with your best girlfriend, Gigi will have you both feeling for her and laughing with her.

100% of the proceeds from this book go to breast cancer research and organizations that provide treatment to BC patients and survivors that cannot afford them.

Review: Promise Me by Tara Fox Hall #HystericalTropism #BadRomanceNovel #SparklyVampires

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“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. — Marcus Tullius Cicero

What must it be like, to be born in 1601, a destitute dirt farmer, desperately trying to feed a wife and child? Completely illiterate, superstitious, held under the thumb of the rich, little more than a slave. Then, to find oneself suddenly immortal, seen as a demon, unclean, a monster in god’s eyes and those of your family. To make connections, fall in love, only to see the object of your affections wither and die time after time. To exist the next 200 years in the same crushing poverty and ignorance, until the world begins to turn, and opportunity begins to appear. And four hundred seventy five years later, to exist in a world completely at odds with the one you knew for so long. A world of cars and planes and space exploration. A world where intelligent, educated women are not inclined to take any crap from the men who used to rule their worlds completely?

“With some bitterness, he wondered why he was fighting so hard to survive. His life had been pointless for the last half century. Modern books and novels talked about how fun it was being a creature of the night’ so romantic and glamorous. What a crock of s**t.”

Four hundred seventy five years. Only to wind up poisoned, sprawled on the side of an isolated quarry road, alone. Well, until Sarelle comes along, with her front end loader, and her two dogs, Ghost and Darkness, to load him up and carry him to her basement. Well, she thought he was just a human . . . until she saw his teeth the next morning. Hum. A real live vampire. Sar is a kind woman, the type of woman who rescues animals off the side of the road at her own peril. So, she feeds him. But she swears she won’t be like all the silly little girls out there. She is, after all, a grown woman, over thirty and a widow. She will feed him, give him a place to stay, then send this vampire, whose truck is loaded down with silenced handguns and sniper rifles, on his way. She won’t be some stupid fan girl, fainting and squea­­ling at the thought of a sexy vampire.

Until she is.

Part way through the story began to lose coherence. From a good start, the author begins to throw in unnecessary plot points willy-nilly, as if she had lots of ideas she suddenly decided she wanted to explore. Humor disappears and histrionics ensue. There were flashes of story line that appeared, and then just as suddenly disappeared, like a shark flashing by under the surface of the water. It became somewhat of an overwrought mess of genre-specific tropes, with no real point at all. Contiguous to the breakdown of the story line, character personalities began to devolve, and distressing mannerisms and dissociative personality disorders began to appear where there were previously none. Sar goes from being a strong, capable woman, maybe not willing, but fully capable of blowing away an intruder with her own handgun, to a fluttery mess, standing around twisting her hands while her lover fights off a demon, intent on murdering them both, all the while said lover is screaming for her to run. “You might need me!” Yeah. Not so much, when all you can do is stand there and hop from foot to foot and whimper. Pft. Of course, in a lot of ways, Danial isn’t any better – just saying, “Watch out for other vampires at the party,” not, “If my brother the King of the Vampires demands to kiss you, turn him down because . . .” is just plain stupid. Secrets and lies. Lies and secrets. So, don’t get mad at her when you don’t give any real guidance, just vague generalities! Again, pft.

There are some really well-written parts, especially as we learn more about Danial’s history, from a poor peasant in rural Spain to well-off security company owner in modern day America. But the rest of the story broke down for me, for all the reasons listed above and more. I don’t normally read vampire novels, but the thought of a human woman who could stand up to the supernatural world and be strong was appealing – though the whiny, schizoid mess that began to appear two days later put paid to those expectations. It wound up being typical ‘sparkly vampire’ tropism. I checked into the others in the series, and the whole hysterical, overwrought mess turns into every bad romance novel stupid trope in the book. Bah. Not recommended. There are MUCH better series out there!

I received this book from ReadingAlley.com in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. All thoughts are my own.

What I Have On My September List

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Wow. Lots of books for September! If I post them, maybe I will keep up – save embarrassment that way. ;-) You will be expecting the reviews (grin).

A wide variety of works – from Native American Poetry to how to make soap, I am looking forward to reading these.  Some are Netgalley.com, some are ReadingAlley.com. Check out both sources for more information on each!

Just added another! Won an Audible edition of:

These Boots Are Made for Butt Kickin' | [Kalan Chapman Lloyd]

Fun!

Promise MeProving GroundCatalina And The Winter TexanDead Men Don't Talk

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