Heart On Fire- Amanda Bouchet

I am a huge fan of fantasy and paranormal romance, but for some reason, I hadn’t gotten around to Amanda Bouchet’s amazing series until recently. The first two books sat on my kindle, mocking me with their gorgeous Gene Mollica covers for months. And then, I got the chance to read the final book in the series and decided to get to work on these books that I had heard so many good things about… I devoured the first book in a day and told every reader I knew about it. I breathlessly raced through book 2 with its speedy pace and some of the best fighting scenes I’ve ever read. And then, I took a big breath and prepared myself for the end to this glorious story.

The Story-
You must read the other two books first, but just so you know, we are following adventures of mythological proportions of Cat and Griffin. Cat is bad-ass and Griffin is her perfect complement. This is a world with Greek gods, but it isn’t Earth. It is epic.

My Thoughts-
From the first book, I felt so connected to Cat. She is perfectly flawed: over-confident, rash, hot-tempered, loyal to a fault. I love that falling in love didn’t dilute Cat. Sure, Griffin helps to check her here and there, but mostly, he absolutely supports her and who she is. All of these characters, even secondary ones, are so fleshed-out that I was emotionally locked to every battle scene. Some people have had issues with certain parts of this book because of those emotional connections etc. As an English teacher and lover of literature, I felt that the death(s) and other dark scenes were perfectly placed and necessary to the story. Bouchet clearly knows the Hero’s Journey and follows that path in a new and interesting way. And yet, she still provides that HEA we all need at the end of this epic saga.
Do I hope that, at some point, we get a continuation or spin-off of this world featuring a certain someone? Sure. Will I survive if we don’t because this was such an amazing series that was so smartly written that it satisfied both my romance-reader side and my English-teacher side? You bet. Will I read absolutely everything that Bouchet writes in the future? Duh.

The Bottom Line-
Read the series. Let her take you on this journey. Sigh when it’s over. 5 stars

The White Lily- Juliette Cross


The imaginative Vampire Blood series has just gotten better. This clever Snow White retelling is (so far) my favorite book of the series. Brenna and Friedrich are so hot together, and there are twists you will definitely not see coming.


The Story-

Brennalyn Snow is a school-teacher and has adopted 7 children. She is also a secret supporter of the underground “Black Lily” movement. While trying to gain information about the local vampire duke’s loyalties, she unknowingly stumbles into his weekly selection of women who wish to be bleeders for the duke. Friedrich was intrigued by Brennalyn from the moment he met her, but her secrets make him want to know the woman behind the teacher facade in a way that surprises even him.


My Thoughts-

This story does an excellent job on building on the background from the previous books, but also deepening the world so that we have a greater grasp of the ramifications of the evil we’ve been introduced to. Again, the fairytale component is dealt with a light hand, never on the nose or what you’d expect. Cross is exceptionally good at adding the appropriate level of darkness and danger to her plots. Although you know it has to have a HEA, it is, at times, very difficult to figure out how exactly that will happen.

As someone who has struggled with infertility, I connected with Brennalyn and loved the emphasis on her personhood as a woman and how it is not inherently connected to being a natural mother. And, can we talk a minute about Friedrich? His character brings Cross’s sexy level to a new stratosphere. But, it is totally appropriate to the story and doesn’t feel forced or shoehorned in.


The Bottom Line-

If you like paranormal, historical, or fairytale retellings, I wholeheartedly recommend this series. It continues to get better, more dangerous, and more suspenseful, book by book. I cannot wait to read the final book in the series, but will be sad when it is over. 5 stars


The Deepest Well- Juliette Cross


Re-releasing today for .99! This book is a prequel to the upcoming Dominion series from Juliette Cross which also takes place in the same world she introduced in the Vessel series (starts with Forged in Fire). You can read this as a stand-alone or read the Vessel series first. The benefit of starting with the Vessel series is that you know the outcome, so seeing how the characters get to the outcome you already know is lots of fun. That being said, you will be able to follow completely if you are new to this world of angels and demons.

The Story-
Lady Katherine is going through the motions of her life. When she meets a handsome stranger on the same night that she realizes what a sham her marriage is, her life changes forever.

My Thoughts-
Y’all, this goes dark. It is not fun and flirty. The characters go through hell before they can find their HEA, but that makes it even more satisfying when they do. This is such a beautiful journey, and Cross will rip your heart out along the way. I love everything about this book. I can almost guarantee that it won’t be what you expect: it is so much more. Cross’s prose is beautiful with wonderful imagery and lovingly-crafted characters that you immediately connect with.

The Bottom Line-
This book is paranormal historical, perfect for fans of Karen Marie Moning, Bec Mc Master or high-concept dark romance. An RT top pick, this is an excellent book that didn’t have the release it deserved because of Samhain Publishing’s collapse. This is such a great opportunity for new readers to discover an amazing author and two fabulous series. 5 stars

Buy it Now! Amazon

Drakon’s Prey- N.J. Walters


Second books in paranormal series can be difficult. The first book often has all of this interesting world-building and the introduction of the “big bad” to make it exciting. That was certainly the case with this series. I loved the first book, and I feel that it is absolutely necessary to enjoying this one at all. I’ll explain:

The Story-
Picking up where we left off in book 1, Valeriya, the sister of the big bad, has pocketed a secret address to the hideaway of a drakon (dragon-shifter). She heads there, of course being tracked by sis’s men, then gets kidnapped/stowed away by Tarrant, a drakon we met in the first book. He keeps her. They have insta-sex. Bad guys try to find her.

My Thoughts-
If I didn’t love this author’s characters and world so much, this one would have been difficult to get through. But, I do want to know what happens to the drakons and how they will eventually defeat the bad guys. My biggest issue was that the plot didn’t feel like it moved forward overall. It felt more like a chess move: Valeriya to the drakon’s side of the board. The sex was hot, and Tarrant is a true Alpha-male that keeps it interesting. But, nothing happens! It’s like a snowed-in trope without the witty banter and self-revealing that usually comes before the sex and love.

The Bottom Line:
I will read the third book in this series and hope that the action picks back up. If you read the first book, this is a natural progression, and you will probably enjoy it enough to give it a read to continue the series. If you want to read a “stuck-together so they have sex and fall in love” book with heat, this one will also fit that bill. 3 stars

Best of 2016

2016 was a big year for my romance reading hobby.  I signed up for Kindle Unlimited, downloaded Overdrive for library books, and of course, started this blog which led to even more books.  So, without further ado, here are my favorite books that I read in 2016. (Not all books were released in 2016, but all were read by me in 2016.)


Best Closed-Door Romance

Although I usually read romance that is very open-door, sometimes I enjoy a sweet story that doesn’t need to give me salacious details in order to be a very good romance.  My favorite romance in this category this year was “Her Unexpected Engagement” by Kyra Jacobs. It’s a very uplifting come-back story that left me feeling like no matter how bad things can get, there is still hope.


Best Erotica

I also don’t tend to read erotica, and although I’m not sure this is technically classified as such, it should be. Friends, this is everything they said that 50 Shades was, but with much, much better writing. Why, oh why was this book not made into an international sensation and movie? I would watch that movie. This book is crazy-pants, that’s for sure, with the Russian mafia, sweat lodge bdsm, and some other insanity that I don’t want to ruin. A roller-coaster ride of a book that is totally worth it and impossible to put down.


Best New-Fave Genre Book

Before this year, I had never read steampunk, and oh boy, did Bec McMaster provide an amazing introduction to this romance sub-genre for me with “Kiss of Steel”. McMaster is the “master” of the anti-hero, and this one is a doozy.  For literally like the first quarter of the book or so, I was like, “who is going to be the hero because, surely it can’t be this guy?” But it was. And it was so, so good. I loved this book and its sequel, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series and start the next series and so on and so forth. McMaster has a fan for life. If you like paranormal or historical, try the steampunk genre. I think you may just love it as much as I do.


Best Medieval Romance

It’s no secret that I love historical romance. In fact, I love it so much and read so much of it, that I had to create some sub-categories to include more of my historic faves. Sarah Hegger’s “Conquering William” was definitely my favorite medieval romance of the year.  Her world-building is so solid, which is not normal for medievals, and her characters are compelling- flaws and all. This was such a fast read with a plot that never let up and kept me engaged to the very end.



Best Regency/Victorian Romance

Oh my goodness, I had so much trouble selecting my favorite for this category. I was between this one and Tessa Dare’s “Any Duchess Will Do”, but gave the tie to this book because it was actually released in 2016.  I love a good house party story, and this one with an identity swap and chocolate and bosoms accidentally spilling out at dinner had me in stitches, while still providing the heat.  Bell’s focus on character and comedy made me an immediate fan, and just writing this snippet has me wanting to revisit this one.

Best Fantasy Romance


Juliette Cross is one of my favorite authors, and her Vessel series would be my best paranormal if I had read it this year, but I also love this fantasy series with hot half-dragons called Morgons.  Her first book with a Morgon heroine was wonderfully fresh and is a great continuation to this captivating series. Her world-building is second to none, and her continual reveal and tease of secrets and deeper plots is addicting. I recommend reading “Waking the Dragon” first, and you are in luck because I have decided to give away 5 copies of this book. Enter the giveaway by clicking on this link.



Best Paranormal Romance

Rhenna Morgon who, by the way is also my favorite new author of the year, hits it out of the park with the finale to her Eden series.  Morgon writes alpha males like no other, but just when you think she’s gonna zig and have this alpha save our broken heroine, she zags and totally surprises the reader in delicious ways. Yes, it is the 4th in a series, so if you want to catch up on all her amazing world-building, you need to read “Unexpected Eden” first, but I think this one can also stand on its own.  Hot, hot, hot sex and such wonderful characters will keep you coming back for more with Ms. Morgon. Speaking of…


Most Anticipated of 2017

Ok, I’ve already read this one, but you should be anticipating it. Hard. This book is everything, and I can’t wait for you all to read it so we can fangirl together. Jace is one of the most drool-worthy alphas I’ve ever read, and Vivienne is so relatable that you will just want to let your hair down right along with her and cozy up to the Haven Brotherhood for as long as possible.  More books are coming in this series in 2017, and I cannot wait!

So that’s my list of 2016’s best. How many have you read? I am super-excited for 2017 and all the romance I’ll read along the way. I’d love to hear all of your suggestions in the comments below. Happy Reading!

Here’s another link for the Waking the Dragon Giveaway in case you missed it above!



Unexpected Eden- Rhenna Morgan


“Unexpected Eden” is the first book in the Eden series by Rhenna Morgan.  I had heard good things about Morgan, but hadn’t jumped to read this for a sort of silly reason: the cover. I am just not big on enormous burly man chest as a representation of a novel.  I will always make accommodations if said burly chest is accompanied by a kilt or if the book in question is by an author I already trust.  That being said, I’m glad I finally started this series, and I have to admit that I learned a little lesson in judging a book by its cover.

The Story- Lexi is a stressed-out bartender who, in the opening scene, is being ogled by a guy who could pass for a Greek god.  Why would he want her? Turns out, he’s been looking for her for a long time since she is literally the girl of his dreams.

My Thoughts- The world-building is simply amazing.   I kept reading these crazy words, but I knew exactly what they meant even though the author didn’t spend pages explaining.  She is that good.  The transition into this other world with its different customs is wonderful, and I felt like I was learning along with Lexi.  The sex scenes are HOT.  No weird wording or uncomfortable phrases, just hot. The secondary characters are interesting and serve the plot, as well as foreshadow romances to come.

The Bottom Line- If you are reading this review, you should read this book. If you like fantasy and different worlds, you should read this book. If you are looking for a new author with a great start to a series (that I plan on finishing ASAP), you should read this book. 5 stars!

Dragons Among Them- Kyra Jacobs


“Dragons Among Them” is the first installment in Kyra Jacobs’ series, The Kingdoms of Ice and Fire.  As a person with eyes, I was completely drawn in by the cover, (isn’t it gorgeous?) and was really looking forward to reading this book.  I had read and enjoyed Jacobs’ introduction to the contemporary Checkerberry Inn series, but it was so different from this that I was definitely curious if she could pull off fantasy and dragons.

The Story– Adelaide (love the name) is a photographer who falls through time and space into another world where she encounters Prince Zaine, who also happens to be a dragon shifter.  She is immediately in danger, and he is driven to protect her, even if it means threatening an alliance-driven engagement.

My Thoughts– I had a little trouble getting into this book, even though I was excited about it. I actually read the first quarter or so, then put it down for a couple months.  I’m not sure what made it difficult to connect with in the beginning, but I am so glad that I picked it back up.  As soon as I got past an unexpected twist of a sort, it was smooth sailing and I devoured the rest.

The Good– I love time travel/trapped in another world books.  There is something about finding someone in a place that you never expected that I really enjoy.  Adelaide is a fun character, and her reactions to her new world are just right.  I loved the wizard and his interactions with just about everyone. He is a great character that I hope to see more of in upcoming books.  The setting and world-building was interesting, but I hope for more of that in the future as well. Each bit of lore or backstory added to the current story immensely.  The dragon element was fun without being forced and raises some questions about how the dragons fit into this world. Are new shifter dragons being born?

The Bottom Line– This is a nice start to a series, but does leave some unanswered questions that I look forward to being resolved. It is definitely worth the read. I give Dragons Among Them 4 stars due to the slow start and desire for answers to world-building questions. Ms. Jacobs can absolutely pull off fantasy and dragons.

Dragon In the Blood- Juliette Cross


Dragon in the Blood is the second book in the Vale of Stars Series by Juliette Cross, but is the 5th book which is set in the world of Morgons (part dragons). It continues a mystery built in the last book, but stands alone as a great romance story.

The Story- Valla and Conn are members of the Morgon Guard who have been tasked with tracking down the Blood King and his followers. As they traverse the dangerous terrain of the Aria region, they become closer which brings about a different kind of danger.

The Good- I feel like this book really delves into the Morgon world, giving mythology, new regions, new creatures, and more details than any set in this world to this point. I liked the different perspective of two Morgons mating because it introduces us to the mind and nature of a Morgon woman. Independent without being sassy and over-confident, Valla is a wonderful heroine. I also especially enjoyed the new character of the Priestess; her POV chapters were some of my favorite in the book. I cannot wait to see what she will do in the future. I also love the variety of locations and the map in the back to help me track the journey. I almost wish for a list of the Morgon “clans” with their special powers and region just so I can get a better handle on this world. It is so immersive, and Cross has created a vast world to write from.

The Bottom Line-While this is a very good love story in its own right, I think you should definitely read Waking the Dragon first in order to set up the over-arching mystery. The three novellas in this world are great companion pieces, but not required. I give this book 4 1/2 stars.