Heart of Iron- Bec McMaster

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Heart of Iron is the second book in Bec Mc Master’s London Steampunk series.  I’ll admit: I had to actively hold off on reading this book after finishing the first one in the series in order to read other books for review.  But after a couple of weeks, I had to give in, and I am glad I did.  The focus in this book has switched from vampires/blue bloods to werewolves/verwulfen, and while it wasn’t what I expected, I enjoyed it immensely.

The Story

Will has always been a bit of a lone wolf.  Despite his loyalty to Blade, he has never had strong connections to anyone else.  New threats in London cause unlikely alliances to forge, and Will is called upon to help.  Lena is doing her best to fit into the world of the blue bloods, but something keeps holding her back.  When she is called upon to prepare Will for his new role, old feelings resurface and both face danger.

My Thoughts

McMaster did such a thorough job of creating her world in the first book, that I really thought the second book would be a continuation of that story.  Little did I know, Ms. McMaster had way more in store for this world than I expected.  The romance is a very hot slow burn that pays off in very satisfying ways, but every little step along the way is smoldering.  There was one scene in particular where I could actually feel myself blushing and started looking around to see if anyone noticed, and it wasn’t because it was explicit, it was just pure heat.  The conflict(s) involve so many players and facets that I am even more eager to complete the series.  The steampunk is expanded in this book with more fun creations and details. I loved the addition of the new characters, and even though there were quite a few, I felt like they were fully developed.

The Good

The hero is very appealing in a simmering-below-the-surface kind of way: the kind that you can’t wait to see what happens when he finally lets go.  He’s also a virgin which adds to the intrigue.  The verwulfen backstory and lore are wonderful.  This is honestly one of my favorite kinds of love stories where it is pretty much impossible for the hero and heroine to be together, and I loved the unexpected surprises of the plot.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoyed the first book, this is a no-brainer.  This is one of those series where you really should read the preceding books to understand all the wonderful plot developments and characters.  And you should read the preceding book, as well as this one, if you like paranormal or steampunk or historical or if you are just willing to take a chance on a great series and author.  Maybe it is my catnip: both paranormal and historical at the same time, but I also recognize great writing when I see it, and this is great writing. 5 stars

Stars of Fortune- Nora Roberts

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I love Nora Roberts.  I’ve read every single one of her trilogies and usually buy the new one as soon as it is available.  This one caught up to me as I’ve found so many other amazing authors to read.  Nonetheless, I knew that I would have to make time for Ms. Roberts’ newest trilogy, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Story-

This one does have paranormal aspects in the form of “gods” which seem to come from the idea of Greek gods.  Since this takes place in Corfu, it works just fine.  This is the intro book for the series, so we meet all of the characters as well as the big bad, and are introduced to the problem/mythology surrounding our main 6 which will form our 3 couples.  This is Sasha and Bran’s story.  Sasha is a seer and artist who knows something is coming and follows her visions and intuition. Bran is an Irish sorcerer/witch who will fall for her.  Of course, everyone must meet, give background info, and come together for the first big fight/victory of the series.

My Thoughts-

I tend to like Nora’s first books in a series a great deal because I love seeing how she sets up the relationships and setting.  Her heroines always have jobs that most women would die for, and Sasha is no exception.  Who wouldn’t want to be an artist in the mountains?  This book had the added element of a foreign country with mythological origins, which adds some depth to the background.  I’ve been to Corfu, and there is something to Greece and its people which feels ancient and magical.  I wish that one of the six had a Greek background; I think it would have added to the mystique.  The second half of the novel didn’t go quite as fast for me as the first did, but I don’t get into the dark battles as much as the romance. (Which is why I tend to stick with her trilogies) That being said, I read the first half in the space of one slowly cooling bath…

The Bottom Line-

If you like Nora, reading this will feel like welcoming an old friend to dinner.  It is by no means one of my least favorite of the trilogies, but I don’t think it will rank up there with the Born In, Chesapeake Shores, Three Sisters, or Irish Trilogies for me. 4 stars

Kiss of Steel- Bec McMaster

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“Kiss of Steel” is the first book in Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk Series, which she has recently expanded to a spin-off series with “Mission: Improper”.  This was my first steampunk read, and while some “true steampunk” readers have critiqued this for not being representative of the genre, it was an excellent introduction to steampunk for me since I already love romance and paranormal. Oh yeah, did I mention that this book has a great paranormal storyline? Let’s dig in!
The Story- Honoria is struggling to keep her family fed after the death of her father and their escape from the cultured world of the Echelon.  When she is summoned to the rogue who dared to rebel against high society, she fears that her safe seclusion is at an end.  Oh, and there are vampires, robot arms, werewolves, and mechanical soldiers.

My Thoughts- I always have trouble writing a story synopsis for books I really enjoy because I hate giving anything away that the reader would have a much better time reading in the book itself.  I had no idea what to expect coming into this book, and I liked it that way.  I had trouble putting this book down.  It was one of those captivating books where you want to read really fast to find out what happens next, but you know that if you read too fast, you’ll miss some great writing and details.  Like a plate of cheese fries you want to devour, but you have to remind yourself to breathe. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I loved this world, I really enjoyed the characters, and the story clicked along just right.

The Good- World-building: each layer is revealed like an onion, and the reader is like “oh! That’s what’s happening.”  The author also has an amazing vocabulary, which is often lacking in these books, and her attention to detail and description is masterful.

The Bottom Line- I had so much fun reading this book.  The author swept me up in her world, and I felt like I was along for the ride.  If you are open to steampunk and paranormal, I highly recommend this book, and I intend to finish the series. (So many books; so little time!) For me, this is 5 stars for pure enjoyment.

Wild Irish Heart- Tricia O’Malley

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“Wild Irish Heart” is the first book in the Mystic Cove Series by Tricia O’Malley.  In this story, she brings us to Ireland and introduces us to an ancient magic which binds the women of Grace’s Cove to each other and to the amazing landscape.

The Story-  A mysterious book stating “it is time” forces Keelin to face her past and accept a new future in Ireland.  Seriously, Keelin has the set-up with a cottage that has a view of the ocean and a glorious cove to explore.  The townspeople are suspicious, due to her family’s heritage, but she meets a hot guy within the first couple of minutes.  Flynn just happens to be rich, beautiful, and there to rescue Keelin again and again.

My Thoughts- Despite some overused tropes (girl and guy don’t like each other initially), I was drawn into this world and story very quickly.  I wanted to be Keelin, starting a new life in Ireland, making new friends at the local pub, and, of course, hanging out with the hottie. Some conflicts were resolved too quickly with an easy, “I’m sorry”, but the pacing and interest of the story never let up.

The Bottom Line- I intend to continue with this series as I am interested in what happens to Keelin and the other women of Grace’s Cove.  There was just enough supernatural mixed in with wonderful descriptions of Ireland to keep me happy.  This was a short, easy, fun read that brought a nice little bright spot to my week. 4 stars

Unexpected Eden- Rhenna Morgan

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“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!