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

The Black Lily- Juliette Cross

My two favorite genres are historical and paranormal.  Imagine my delight when one of my favorite authors, Juliette Cross, decided to write a series of fairytale retellings with vampires.  The first book in the series, “The Black Lily” is Arabelle’s (Cinderella) story and beautifully sets the stage for the books to come. You see, this isn’t a normal YA-style fairytale retelling… this one is full of the dark edge I’ve come to expect from Juliette (side note: You must read her Vessel Trilogy if you haven’t).

The Story-

Arabelle is going to the ball, which is actually a chance for the Prince to select his new blood concubine.  But, she doesn’t isn’t there to win Prince Marius’s heart: she wants to pierce it with a gold dagger.  Arabelle, aka The Black Lily, is the leader of a resistance organization of the same name.  She is a badass woman, entirely in control of her own sexuality and agenda.  Marius goes through the motions, but is beginning to sense that something is not right in his kingdom.  An attempt on his life sets him on a path he never expected to find a woman he never should have wanted.

My Thoughts-

World-building has always been a strength of Cross, and this is no exception.  I completely understood the vampire monarchy and the “rules” within this society almost immediately.  While these vampires are legally limited from killing humans, these are no sparkling, animal-eating creatures.  There is true danger here, and Arabelle’s strength and intelligence in fighting that threat drive the book as well as the undeniable chemistry between her and Marius.  Can we talk about that chemistry for a minute?  From almost the first meeting, there is this spark that is completely believable between the two, and I was actually surprised by the outcome of that meeting.  Throw in a late-night lake bath that gets interrupted and a surprise visit to her cottage, and you have some very hot moments. But, even more than the sexual tension, what comes across through the snappy dialogue is that these characters really “get” each other.  Even with the fast-paced plot, the secondary characters are true people that we get to know and root for and cry for.  I can’t wait to see some of them again! Finally, the twists and reveals are wonderful. I love when everything is not as it seems.

The Bottom Line-

This is an excellent introduction to a series that I cannot wait to devour.  These vampires feel fresh, and the fairytale premise is less of a restrictive plot device than it is a creative frame in which the author flourishes.  If you love the dark edge of paranormal AND the transporting world of historical, this book is a must-read.  5 stars

Amazon: The Black Lily

Drakon’s Promise- N.J. Walters

“Drakon’s Promise” is the first book in the Blood of the Drakon Series by N.J. Walters, and was my first book by the author as well. (Searching through her back list now…) It is a great beginning to a series AND it was my first paranormal/fantasy in a little while, so I really enjoyed being swept away to a different world with mystery and intrigue.

The Story-

Sarah is a research librarian in a new job that happens to be an introvert’s dream: poring over old books, alone, for hours on end. Can that be my second job when I retire from teaching? She also has a unique gift with items, especially books, which enables her to envision their past.  When she stumbles onto a mysterious conversation that threatens a man and finds an evil book which holds secrets that could destroy this man, an intense chase is on. Darius Varkas is the man in question, and when Sarah shows up to warn him, his protective instinct kicks in like never before. 

My Thoughts-

This was an exceptionally quick read for me: I was immediately sucked in and along for the ride.  This book does what I enjoy best about paranormal/fantasies; it transports me to another world by great characters with high stakes and high interest. Darius is an intense alpha-male and a no-nonsense attitude that gets straight to business. Sexy business.  Sarah was easy for me to identify with, and I liked her immensely. She is one of those heroines that you can easily put yourself in the shoes of, instead of going “what are you thinking, girl?!” or “quit the second-guessing!” She is refreshingly real and likeable, even in crazy situations

The Bottom Line-

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this is a dragon-shifter book, and the mythology and handling of that feature is seamless. If you like your paranormals or fantasies with an edge of danger, high intensity, and a sexy alpha, this is a great pick. It honestly read a little like one of Nora Roberts’s paranormals (and I love those). I will be reading the rest in the series, especially since I can’t wait to read more about Darius’s brothers. (Didn’t I mention his hot brothers?) 5 stars

Unmasking Miss Appleby- Emily Larkin


“Unmasking Miss Appleby” is the first book in Emily Larkin’s Baleful Godmother Series, and let me tell you- if the other books in this series are anything like this one, I am IN!  Larkin is a new author to me, and, to be honest, the book description is what particularly caught me with this one.  Read on…

The Story-

Charlotte, in a very Cinderella-type set up, has been mistreated ever since the death of her father. On her 25th birthday, Charlotte is visited by a fairy “godmother” of sorts, and is offered one magical wish.  She chooses metamorphosis, which means that she can change into any living creature at will for the rest of her life.  Charlotte decides to use this new gift to live as a man so that she can be employed as a secretary to a prominent man.  So much craziness ensues.

My Thoughts-

I could not put this book down.  I expected it to be interesting, based on the description, but I didn’t expect to be completely captivated by the story.  The writing is very good, and the pacing is just right.  There is a great side mystery which helps the plot to click along, as well as allowing for character development along the way.  I especially enjoyed the reactions of Charlotte as a guy, being exposed to things that a woman of that time-period normally wouldn’t be exposed to.  I thought the author handled the whole “woman in a man’s body” well with realistic reactions.  I wish that the intimate scenes had been from Charlotte’s perspective so that we could have a better understanding of the effect they had on her and future decisions.

The Good-

Marcus is a great character, especially because he is a very real man.  There are acknowledged flaws and weaknesses, as well as goodness and kindness, sweat and tears.  He came alive on the page for me, and I wanted nothing more than for him to end up with our heroine.  I also liked how Charlotte was not a great beauty; she’s just an ordinary girl with some ambition and creativity.  She’s so easy to identify with, and allows any woman who reads this book to picture what it would be like to peek behind those “male only” doors.

The Bottom Line-

While not perfect, this book was so enjoyable and intriguing that it will stay with me for a long time. I will be waiting for the rest of the series with anticipation. This was such a nice departure from typical historical romances: just a dash of fantasy thrown in to make it interesting. 5 stars

Dragon Heartstring – Juliette Cross

Juliette Cross is one of my favorite authors, so I am very excited to be a part of her blog tour for this new release!

Dragon Heartstring is a long novella set between the Soulfire novellas and Cross’s full-length series which begins with, “Waking the Dragon.” These books are all set in the world of Morgons, a half-human, half-dragon race which is only just beginning to be fully assimilated with humans.  Since I first read “Soulfire”, I have been captivated by these Morgon men who have a dragon “lurking” within which chooses their mate.  This is the first of the Morgon books to feature a human man, and let me tell you, it was not a disappointment. 

The Story-

Demetrious Cade is a powerful man whose sister, against their father’s wishes, fell in love with and married a Morgon.  For a long time, he shared his father’s reticence about the race, but his nephew and a new acquaintance have begun to make him question these long-held beliefs. Shakara Icewing is a healer, both to humans and Morgons, who does not expect to be swept off her feet, especially by a human man.

My Thoughts- 

Cross has done such an amazing job of world-building that each time I pick up a Morgon book, I know exactly where I am and fall back into the pace of that world. Demetrious is one of the characters that has always been around, but I never quite figured out how his drastic change occurred.  This book answered every question, and more.  I love the parallels and social tone of this book that Cross brings in without being political or offensive–only thought-provoking.  Demetrious is every bit as intriguing as the Morgon men, if not more, because he is starting a new life with a new way of thinking because of this woman. Isn’t that the ultimate fantasy: for a man to change his whole world for you? 

The Good- 

The plot is fast paced, while not being rushed.  Demetrious is oh-so-yummy, and while we get more character development for Demetrious than Shakara, she is still a wonderful heroine that is easy to identify with. The new tidbits of world- building only make me desperate for the next full-length book in the “Waking the Dragon” series.  I’ve always loved Cross’s writing, and she doesn’t let me down here. This is excellent fantasy that is deeper than it seems at first, but is equally a fun, steamy read.  I particularly loved the bonding of this new couple- you have to read it to know what I am talking about.

The Bottom Line-

If you haven’t read the other Morgon books first, I suggest starting with “Soulfire” because it gives a great base for this one. Then, after you read this one, you will be hooked and you can move on to the others and be dying for the next full-length book like I am. 5 stars

Buy it now on Amazon!


Edens Deliverance- Rhenna Morgon

Eden’s Deliverance is the last book in Rhenna Morgan’s paranormal/fantasy Eden series.  I read the first book in the series a few weeks ago in preparation for this release, and I will definitely be going back to finish the two middle books very soon. The Story-

The prophecy about Eden is coming to a head, and a threat still looms large.  A human, Brenna, may be the key to Eden’s entire existence, and after everything she’s been through at the hands of Myren’s, she could certainly hold a grudge if she wanted.  Ludan has always been a protector, but his protection instincts are through the roof where Brenna is concerned.  The question seems like it will be: can she trust him even though she has been hurt, and can he give himself to her completely?

My Thoughts- 

Notice how I said “the question seems to be”? Yeah, this book is NOTHING like I thought it would be.  And that is a good thing. It’s not like it would have been a bad book if it had gone the way you’d figure, but Morgan turned everything on its head and gave us what we didn’t even know we needed.  What is it with me lately and reading about strong, silent heroes that are simmering under the surface so tightly that you just can’t wait to see them let go?  Ludan embodies those things, and to see the tables turn and have Brenna saving him instead of being the damsel in distress is so refreshing and rewarding.  

The Good-

OMG, Morgan can write a sex scene.  I keep thinking that if she had written 50 shades instead of James, kindles would have spontaneously combusted from the heat instead of everyone wondering what an “inner goddess” was. I digress.  I don’t really read erotica, but if Rhenna Morgan wrote it, I would read it.  And it isn’t that the scenes are super explicit: they are just so smartly crafted with amazing sexual tension that is released in interesting and different ways.  Hot, hot, hot!!! Her characters are amazing; you can tell that she creates them first, then follows where they lead instead of forcing them into a prescribed story.  

The Bottom Line-

Read the first book in the series first to get an introduction to what Eden is and who the players are.  While there were a few things I missed by not yet reading the in-between books, it didn’t keep me from following this story at all. Last books in a series can be tough because of the wrap-up and let-down. Not this one.  You almost forget it is the last in the series until the last couple of chapters when you are like “oh, no! I won’t have any more Eden books to read!” I will be surprised if another in this series passes this one up in my esteem, but I cannot wait to find out. 5 stars

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!