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Review: Bloodrunner Dragon (Harper’s Mountains Book 1) by

Bloodrunner Dragon (Harper's Mountains, #1)The last we knew of Harper, Weston, Ryder, Wyatt and Aaron, they were children, barely more than babies. Much beloved by all the Shifters of Damon’s Mountain, they were raised together with all the care and love any child could want.

Now, they are all in their mid to late twenties, all much different than we last knew them. Harper, the Bloodrunner Dragon daughter of Bruiser the Bear and Diem, daughter of Damon Daye, the Last Immortal Dragon, claimed Wyatt for her own as a child. Yet, when disaster happened, instead of hanging around and holding things together, Wyatt left. Left Harper alone to face life without him. Left her to face The Unrest – the time of sickness leading up to her death. But when Wyatt drunk texts Harper ten years later, she pulls together their old gang and flies to his rescue. But will it cost Harper, the last Bloodrunner Dragon, her life even sooner than the Unrest?

This is a whole new time, a time where all shifters have rights – but it also means that vampires have rights as well. Something that they believe gives them the right to take and drink from whomever they wish. It is a tough fight, but with their friends at their backs, will Harper and Wyatt be able to save Harper’s life, and start afresh on Harper’s Mountains? And what of their friends, the children of Damon’s Mountain?

It’s a pleasure, coming back to the Damon’s Mountain world, set in a new place and with the grown children. We only get a short phone conversation with Bash and Bruiser, but I look forward to seeing if the old gang comes to visit as the series goes forward.

Spoilery Stuff Ahead! Stop here if you haven’t read the book!

 

 

 

Someone griped about how angsty they all were, where I didn’t see that at all. Yes, they are pissed at Wyatt – they deserve to be. He left and took their love for him, and Harper’s, and left Harper dying without him. Yes, there is drama. It would be boring as hell without it. But these kids have every reason in the world to be pissed at Wyatt. That doesn’t make them “angsty” that makes them real. We aren’t really shown who they are at this time, what time has made them. We will, in the upcoming stories, and I look forward to that. As for your comment that “mates don’t have physical relationships with other people?” The whole “undying mate” thing is MUCH more unrealistic than the fact that these are written as real people with real issues and real heartbreak. Harper did her best to find another treasure in order to stay alive. Denigrating that with some silly notion demeans the reality (within a supernatural world) of Ms. Joyce writing real stories with real human emotions. And really – did you expect her to lay back on a fainting couch with the back of her hand across her forehead, weeping into a tissue as she dies a painful death instead of gutting up and getting out there and trying to find a way to stop her own death? Now that is patently ridiculous! Real women save their own lives in any way possible without lying around like some wimpy historical romance wimp! If you want that, well, don’t read books with strong, vital female characters!

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t really care for Wyatt’s character. I found him weak – not in her writing, but inside himself, and I give Ms. Joyce huge Kudos for writing ‘alpha’ characters who aren’t all brawny, brainy, perfect. Her Damon’s Mountain characters definitely weren’t perfect – and I greatly doubt the kids will be either. Heck – look who their parents are!

I wouldn’t choose him for myself. But Harper’s dragon did. She saw the good – even thought I pretty much wanted to throw him over a cliff! He was an idiot, but he is her idiot. But then, aren’t so many men out there real, actual idiots that women have to teach to pull up their lives by their bootstraps? Sometimes it requires a light touch. Sometimes they have to whack the bastards over the head with a 2×4 in order to get their attention. She simply had to pull out a semi trailer and bop this dumbass alpha over the head! 😉

 

Review: Vidalia: A ‘Not-Quite’ Vampire Love Story by Julia Mills

27232419“And what? Accidentally cuts off three fingers postmortem? ‘Oops, oh, no, my girlfriend just died! Clumsy me, in trying to perform CPR, I chopped off some fingers! Guess I’ll just take them with me…. Oh, darn, where did that middle finger go?” ― Barry Lyga, I Hunt Killers

(OK, Fine, FINE! The quote has nothing to do with the story line. But hey, it’s funny, right? Right? Oh well. It must just be me. Snort.)

After spending last night (and let’s face it – all morning as well before I fell over and finally slept) with a book filled with tension I wanted to

read something ‘light and fluffy’ to come down off the ‘high’ of having my eyes glued to the page all night. Julia Mills’ Vidalia: A ‘Not-Quite’ Vampire Love Story seemed right up my alley for a light read. I added the books to my tablet the other day after receiving a note from her that the books were now on KU to be read for free. Of course, ‘book’ is a bit too strong. This is a 13,000 word short, just right to read over my tea and bagel out on the porch (hooray… no snow today!)

Vidalia is the heiress to the Vidalia onion fortune, but she isn’t like any heiress I have had the pleasure to read before. A medical examiner in Buckhead Georgia, Vidalia is a true ‘Southern Lady’ through and through. Well, except for the fact that she is ‘not-quite’ a vampire. You see, her granddaddy was a philanderer, just like so many “Southern Gentlemen.” (Cough.) Of course, he should have kept it in his pants instead of sticking it into a thousand year old gypsy/vampire saloon dancer. Oops. Being cursed as a vampire (who can’t grow fangs, hence the ‘not-quite’ in the title) is rather embarrassing for a genteel Southern lady, but hey, she is living with it quite nicely overall, especially with her handsome cop (vampire) boyfriend hanging around. Until the bodies start dropping (literally) from high-rises, drained of blood and with their throats slit.

The story is quick, often humorous, and I truly liked Vidalia. A quick, relaxing, fun read that was just the ticket over breakfast!

 

Paranormal Protection Agency Volume 2 by Mina Carter

Paranormal Protection Agency by Mina CarterThe first Paranormal Protection Agency volume wasn’t all that. More of an erotica, the platform of a Federal Paranormal agency was used mostly as just that. A platform, with very minor agency business carried out. It was more “bow chicka bow bow” than the solid Paranormal Romance/Suspense that I had expected from Ms. Mina. It was OK, but just that.

The second volume was much better to my way of thinking. The stories revolve around the Dragon twins, Duke and Baron. Abandoned only days after their birth, the boys grew up knowing nothing of who and what they really were other than that they were dragons. Research as they grew taught them they were Shadow Dragons, able to take the form of the very shadows themselves. But much searching gave little information, and no others of their kind appeared.

Hired by the PPA, they work as a team, but always as part of a larger group. Well, you can’t really blame Illiona, their boss, when ‘one’ of the twins (no, no saying which one!) has a tendency to snack on the clients pets – especially their very expensive horses . . . just sayin’. Then, they get their first solo job, guarding the daughter of a very wealthy client. Once who the police are sure is running illegal paranormal fight clubs around the city.

And here is where Dragons Honor and Dragons Chase differ from the original books. Both are strong entries in the Paranormal Romance/Suspense genre. The agency storyline comes into full bloom, the characters are more well rounded, and the world building more well defined. I completely enjoyed these two stories. Where the originals (in volume 1) has potential that was never reached, these two stories were actual stories that contained a few sex scenes while the first books were sex scenes searching for stories.

Overall, these two stories gave me confidence that I will read more Mina Carter. Not all her writing is going to appeal to me, that is a given at this point, but she wrote a couple of readable works here that I actually enjoyed quite a bit.

Review: The FPU Series by Milly Taiden – Two Good and a Hard Skip

fpuI have enjoyed the works of Milly Taiden for quite a while. As a Paranormal Romance reader, I have been often discouraged that authors are more focused on the sex scenes than having anything more than a wisp of story line as a vehicle for stringing together instances of raunchy rollicking. Hey, I love me some hot and nasty, but I want a story to go with it. And, mostly, Milly doesn’t let me down in the boxed Federal Paranormal Unit set. I had read the first in the box, Wolf Protector, some time ago, then wandered away (as usual) before checking out the next two, Dangerous Protector and Unwanted Protector. Having the whole series as a boxed set on Kindle Unlimited was a real treat, as my budget right now is so tight it squeaks!  So what to do but write a review in thanks?

The first, Wolf, is the story I had read previously and enjoyed. Erica Villa is a Profiler for the Federal Paranormal Unit, and one strong cookie. Her particular skills are hidden from the others on her team, other than their boss, Brock. He is the one who has always stayed with her, allowing her to exercise her skills in private, without the others knowing just what makes her different, and so exceptional at her job. But now, Brock has to leave her in the hands of her team members.  Buchanan and Ramirez are shifters, and ‘man whores par excellance’ swooping in on every woman who crosses their path. Jane is their computer maven, brilliant, sensitive, and very private. Of course, Buchanan has been sniffing up Erica’s tail for the ten years they have worked together as a team, though Erica will be damned before she allows a Casanova like him to make her just another conquest. Yes, some women really ‘don’t’ fall all over themselves like idiots over the “Bad Boy” which made her refreshing. But when she is thrown into his care, and he see exactly what she suffers while doing her job, his constant longing for the woman he has always wanted, but who went out of her way to stay away from him, leaves him determined to protect her at all costs. Of course the HEA is there, but the story keeps it interesting.

Dangerous, the second in the FPU series, introduces us to two new characters to the team. Martin Galvez, the uptight FBI department head who is determined to take over the FPU at all costs, even though, as Cynthia Vega, the new head of the FPU, puts it, he never will head the group, “Because you’re not special.”  And Cynthia herself, who was put in place by Galvez to be his eyes and ears, pushing out Brock for top spot in the team. The only thing is, Cynthia has no intentions of telling Galvez anything. Take that, overblown politician ego!

When Cynthia finds herself in the position of being the boss of her ex-lover things are hard enough. Especially with his feelings over her walking out on their engagement ten years ago without a word. But when she gets a call from back home, a place she hoped never to return to again, Brock is determined to go with her to find what has happened to her niece who disappeared. What they find there opens up old wounds, and could very well lead to Cynthia’s death. Another good entry to the series.

Then? Then we get to Unwanted . . . and the whole freakin’ thing blows up, falls apart, and well, just Eww. I would swear that someone else other than Milly wrote Unwanted and she simply added it to her series without even reading it first. The dialog is stilted, the story line unbelievable, there was no logic to the story, and the tone was over-the-top preachy and unbearably ridiculous. Hey, I totally agree with the basic ‘save the environment’ sentiment, but this was just, just, Ugh. The whole thing reeked. I made myself flip through it, but I couldn’t like the book at all. While the other two are a solid 4 as paranormal romance, I can’t give this one more than a one, and a grudging one at that. There were a lot of signs that Milly didn’t write this (or she did it on drugs), from the lack of contraction use to the awful dialog and stilted writing style.

Overall, read the first two, but give the third a hard skip. It left a bad taste in my mouth after enjoying the first two.

Review: Tangle of Thornes by Lorel Clayton

27231426“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“She had to learn that the day granted hope and happiness, but I stole it. She had to face that the night hid evil and darkness, but my soul was blacker.” ― Pepper Winters, Debt Inheritance

Eva Thorne was born to be a monster, in a country of monsters. The Solhans are a “whole different category of human. One that most other races tended to hate.” Well, you can’t really blame them. Solhans glory in cruelty, dark magic, and buckets and buckets of blood – as long as it isn’t their own. Then, well, the Solhans opened a bit of dark magic that brought back their Dead God. And as a group that worships cruelty and death, their Dead God shouldn’t have been a surprise when he started slaughtering the very Solhans who worshiped him – along with half the rest of the world.

So, they became refugees, fleeing to other countries to escape the very God they were so gleeful to have brought back. Eva’s own family, the rich and massively powerful Thornes, found themselves in the Avian/Elf/Gnome controlled city of Highcrowne, the most ‘civilized’ place in the known world. Well, except for the fact that humans, like Eva, are pushed into the Outskirts, the dark garbage heap at the foot of the fabled city on the hill. Oh, and don’t forget that humans are also the slave labor that keeps Highcrowne’s very SteamPunk society running. Magic and machines, machines and magic. I loved it.

Eva’s family brought its power and dark magic with them when they came. They now rule over the Outskirts, wallowing in power, their hands in every evil, and yes, profitable, industry ripe for the picking. But Eva is determined, from a very young age, not to become what her family is – what her identical twin so easily became. So, she walks away, working in a café and living in a tiny apartment. She may not be rich, she may not be powerful, but above all? Eva is determined to keep her soul as her own.

Then her brother, the one ‘good’ person in her life, is murdered, his heart ripped out and taken away. Soul magic. And unless Eva can find his killer, and hopefully find his heart, Viktor’s soul will forever be captured and used for unknown, but certainly purely evil, purposes. Surrounded by family, who want to turn her to their Solhan ways (well, except for her twin, who just wants her to suffer greatly before slaughtering her), and a variety of human, gnomish, and ‘other’ people hanging around her and offering to ‘help’ for reasons of their own, Eva’s story is harsh, brutal, and obsessively readable. Finding her brother’s killer is going to be hard enough. But keeping her soul intact? That may be impossible.

I picked Tangle of Thornes up for free on May first and sat down this afternoon after wearing myself out with gardening (it was warm today, Yea!!). It is midnight now and I just finished the book. I hadn’t read the description (see what a good cover can do? It caught my eye and I opened it on my eReader) but I also wanted something by an author I hadn’t read before that had a female lead, and I picked it up. The first paragraph caught my attention, then I was all in.

“I’ve read a few of those hard-boiled detective novels. You know, The Maltese Griffin, Murder on the Troll Road … the classics. But none of them ever mentioned the smell. Mr. Hylar, my last hope, smelled like old sweat mixed with fermented stomach contents, some of which stained his shirt collar. City elves were like their country cousins: filthy.”

OK, THIS I can get behind! No tall, willowy Elves with long, shiny locks blowing in a magical breeze? Something Different! Whoot!

The second book in the series is A Thorne for a Crown. 28280519I won’t read the description of this one either, I will just wade right in. I don’t watch the “what’s happening next” at the end of a show I am watching either – I would rather watch it than have it described to me, so I will do the same here. I had to slap my own hand to keep myself from punching the “Read For Free” button when it popped up at the end, but I will wait or I will be up the rest of the night and into the morning!

Review: Boarlander Cursed Bear by T.S. Joyce

29751085“They say that abandonment is a wound that never heals. I say only that an abandoned child never forgets.” — Mario Balotelli

Clinton Fuller isn’t right in the head, not in any way, shape or form. Pushed from one lumberjack crew to the next on Damon’s Mountain, he has been a pain-in-the-ass for each of the crews. And the Boarlander Crew is his last stop before he spirals too far and the Crew Alpha, Harrison Lang, has to put him down for the safety of all the shifters on Damon’s Mountain. This is his story, and for all I have bitched and moaned about his presence throughout all the Damon’s Mountain stories, I have also gotten bits and pieces of his story all along, and have begun to feel a mite sorry for him, though I never really came to know him. But now, we all get to learn what made Clinton the way he is.

And you know what? I not only understand Clinton now, but my heart is totally (well, maybe not “totally” totally, but still) softened to his story. All of his acting-out makes sense, and I am so glad I got to know him. Of course, Clinton’s story isn’t the only story told in Boarlander Cursed Bear. The political story of ‘Humans vs. Shifters’ comes to a head as the Damon’s Mountain Crew (and all the shifters in the US, though the story doesn’t reach that far) wait for the vote that will decide whether the shifter population retains their right to live, love, and mate as they choose.

This is a terrific end to a wonderful series of books, and I recommend them highly to lovers of Urban Fantasy Romance who want a bit more than just “wham-bam-we-mate-for-life” in their books. These are deeper than that. The reading order, from T. S. Joyce’s website is below.

As always, my disclaimer: I have received books from T.S. Joyce in the past in exchange for a realistic review. I am not sure if I received this one for free, so I will just say that I have received books in the past in exchange for a realistic review and this one may or may not be one of those, but how I received the books has no impact on any of my reviews. If you haven’t read Joyce’s Damon’s Mountain Series, I highly recommend you read them in order. They are so much fun, yet running parallel to the same hatreds and prejudice we see in the world today that they are more than the sum of their parts. Enjoy!

Reading Order for Damon’s Mountains:

Lumberjack Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 1)

Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 2)

Timberman Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 3)

Sawman Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 4)

Bear My Soul (Fire Bears, Book 1)

Axman Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 5)

Bear the Burn (Fire Bears, Book 2)

Bear the Heat (Fire Bears, Book 3)

Woodsman Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 6)

Lumberman Werebear (Saw Bears, Book 7)

Gray Back Bad Bear (Gray Back Bears, Book 1)

Gray Back Alpha Bear (Gray Back Bears, Book 2)

Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears, Book 3)

Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears, Book 4)

Lowlander Silverback (Gray Back Bears, Book 5)

Last Immortal Dragon (Gray Back Bears, Book 6)

A Very Beastly Christmas (Gray Back Bears, Book 7)

Boarlander Boss Bear (Boarlander Bears, Book 1)

Boarlander Bash Bear (Boarlander Bears, Book 2)

Boarlander Silverback (Boarlander Bears, Book 3)

Boarlander Beast Boar (Boarlander Bears, Book 4)

Boarlander Cursed Bear (Boarlander Bears, Book 5)

 

 

Review: Boarlander Beast Boar by T.S. Joyce

29535458“Tales of power and ambition and intrigue and betrayal and desire – when you’re telling those in a big way, you automatically want to go to Shakespeare.” — Beau Willimon

Mason Croy is a real boar. No, not ‘bore’ are in boring, but Boar, as in big-ass, brutal, brawling Razorback Hog. Brought in to replace yet another bear Clinton the Beast ran off from the Boarlander Mobile Home Park, where the C-Team of the Damon’s Mountain lumberjack bears live, Mason is a badly damaged boar shifter, brawling to hide the pain he carries inside. And his brawling is causing a real problem for Rebecca ‘Beck’ Anderson who has been brought in by Damon Daye, the Last Immortal Dragon and owner of Damon’s Mountain. Beck’s job is to improve public relations between shifters and humans, her driver, Mason, isn’t making it easy. And it isn’t as if Beck’s own life is all lavender and fuzzy bunnies either. Her divorce has left her crippled, emotionally and financially, and she is determined to succeed in her job, even if it means taking on a brawling boar like Mason. Because she has a lot more to save than just herself.

The political story continues strong through Boarlander Beast Boar. But there is more than that, as Mason’s backstory is much more deadly than the Boarlanders understand. And it is moving onto Damon’s Mountain in a wave of brutality and death.  This time, it isn’t only the humans who are a danger to the Shifters of Damon’s Mountain. And there may not be a “happily ever after” for Mason and Beck – or any of the shifters of the US. Of all her books set on the mountain I loved Bash’s story the best. . . But now that I have read Mason’s I have to say I love it just as much, though for much different reasons.

I have received books from T.S. Joyce in the past in exchange for a realistic review. I am not sure if I received this one for free, so I will just say that I have received books in the past in exchange for a realistic review and this one may or may not be one of those, but how I received the books has no impact on any of my reviews. If you haven’t read Joyce’s Damon’s Mountain Series, I highly recommend you read them in order. They are so much fun, yet running parallel to the same hatreds and prejudice we see in the world today that they are more than the sum of their parts. Enjoy!

 

Review: Boarlander Silverback (Boarlander Book 3) by T.S. Joyce

29351627“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Kirk Slater is a rip-roaring, chest-beating, musclebound gorilla shifter, plunked down in the middle of the Boarlander Mobile Home Park, filling in for the C-Team’s rapidly diminishing bear lumberjack population. As personal guard for Kong, (Lowlander Silverback (Gray Back Bears Book 5)) Kirk knew his place in the world. But that was all turned upside down when Kong stepped outside the role he was destined to play and left Kirk on his own to face an entirely different life than the one he expected.

The world of Damon’s mountain is changing as well, as political pressures, prejudice and race hatred are restricting the rights of shifters in the US in a quickly tightening noose. And part of that noose is Officer Alison Holman, one of a team of two undercover police officers sent to restrict access to and from Damon’s Mountain. Unknown to her partner, a rabid shifter hater, Alison quickly learned that the stories she has heard about the viciousness and animalistic behavior of shifters is untrue, and she has been helping the shifters of the mountain. And when Kirk moves to Boarlander, she discovers that this particular Silverback Gorilla is appealing on a whole different level. And Kirk? After what he did to Kong, he knew he would be allowed a family group. But just maybe Kong had the right idea after all. One woman to love seems freakish and unnatural – until he meets Alison.

Again, the Boarlander stories are shifter romance tales, that is a given. But they are richer than simple bear shifter (or in this case, gorilla shifter) meets his mate tales. The stories are building into a situation where the shifters are watching more and more of their rights being stripped away by the human populations fear, hatred and prejudice. Something is going to have to give, and the shifters are banding together, going toe-to-toe with the humans in their own arena. Can they rescue their rights by gaining the hearts and minds of the human population of the US?

I have received books from T.S. Joyce in the past in exchange for a realistic review. I am not sure if I received this one for free, so I will just say that I have received books in the past in exchange for a realistic review and this one may or may not be one of those, but how I received the books has no impact on any of my reviews. If you haven’t read Joyce’s Damon’s Mountain Series, I highly recommend you read them in order. They are so much fun, yet running parallel to the same hatreds and prejudice we see in the world today that they are more than the sum of their parts. Enjoy!

A New Hebby Roman! Esmeralda and the Second-Hand Suitor (Snowbirds Book 2)

I am Adelina Amouteru, the phantoms whispered to my father, speaking my most frightening thoughts in a chorus of voices, dripping with hatred. My hatred. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.” ― Marie Lu, The Young Elites

Three years. That’s how long Esmeralda has before she loses half her worldly goods. But time is growing short on fulfilling the humiliating codicil in her father’s will, that Esmeralda find a husband or hand over half of her family’s grapefruit orchard to her drunken, and yes, male, cousin. The ‘son’ her father never had. Forty and single, shy and, yes, a 40-year-old virgin, Esmeralda was surrounded by gossips and grasping divorcées living on the farm, so she picked up stakes and moved to Brownsville, hoping to find a man to marry so she doesn’t have to give up her home. A man who will love her for her instead of her orchard and the natural gas wells on the property.

Determined to help, Esme’s neighbor sends her off to the local senior recreation center to meet the people there. And Esme does meet someone. Hank, a two-time divorcée from Wisconsin who lives in a Jayco at the beach. Older than Esme would have preferred, his lackluster approach to a work ethic and double divorce status makes him the antithesis of what Esme was looking for. But there is just something about him that draws her, no matter the work ethic her father pounded into her head and her Catholic upbringing that says anyone who is divorced twice is a two-time loser.

Esmeralda and the Second-Hand Suitor is the second book I have read by Hebby Roman. The first, Catalina and the Winter Texan charmed me, gifting a lightness to my heart I hadn’t known in a long time. Ms. Roman’s characters are of the over-40 set, with histories and years of baggage trailing behind them as they embark on new journeys to late-in-life love. It isn’t easy, not by any means. Blended families, histories often filled with pain, loss and betrayal, all these things make us who we are. Finding a way to fit those jagged edges together isn’t easy, and watching Esmeralda and Hank was both painful and uplifting. Esmeralda is filled with guilt over a childhood accident her father never forgave her for. Hank too wears guilt like a shroud from failures that both are, and are not, his fault. Watching their story made me laugh – and yes, cry – and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Hebby Roman is one of my ‘heroine authors’ – an author who writes the truth in such a way that anyone, young or old, can grow and learn from her stories of life, loss and love. If you haven’t read her, you should.

I received Ms. Roman’s book from her in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. Love ya, Hebby!

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