Thursday, November 24, 2022

Review: The Choice by Nora Roberts

The Choice by Nora Roberts
Series: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 3
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fantasy Romance 
The Choice cover
ISBN: 9781250272720
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Talamh is a land of green hills, high mountains, deep forests, and seas, where magicks thrive. But portals allow for passage in and out—and ultimately, each must choose their place, and choose between good and evil, war and peace, life and death…

Breen Siobhan Kelly grew up in the world of Man and was once unaware of her true nature. Now she is in Talamh, trying to heal after a terrible battle and heartbreaking losses. Her grandfather, the dark god Odran, has been defeated in his attempt to rule over Talamh, and over Breen—for now.

With the enemy cast out and the portal sealed, this is a time to rest and to prepare. Breen spreads her wings and realizes a power she’s never experienced before. It’s also a time for celebrations—of her first Christmas in both Talamh and Ireland, of solstice and weddings and births—and daring to find joy again in the wake of sorrow. She rededicates herself to writing her stories, and when his duties as taoiseach permit, she is together with Keegan, who has trained her as a warrior and whom she has grown to love.

It’s Keegan who’s at her side when the enemy’s witches, traitorous and power-mad, appear to her in her sleep, practicing black magick, sacrificing the innocent, and plotting a brutal destruction for Breen. And soon, united with him and with all of Talamh, she will seek out those in desperate need of rescue, and confront the darkness with every weapon she has: her sword, her magicks—and her courage…

The time has come for the final battle of good versus evil and Breen Siobhan Kelly is the key to victory. Breen’s powers have awoken, she has become the protector of light she was destined to be, and now it’s up to her to choose her fate. The Choice is the final book in The Dragon Heart Legacy trilogy and Nora Roberts brings the world of Fey and man to life in vivid color. The Ireland of Roberts’s writing is as dreamy as ever and the world of Talamh is filled with fantasy and wonder. I loved watching Breen travel back and forth between the two as she and her best friend, Marco, find the balance in between both worlds that fits them and the men they love.

The Choice follows Breen as she continues to develop her innate talent for magick and writing and to strengthen her weak points. We follow her life, her romance with Keegan that comes more to the forefront in this final tale, and see happy moments for all the characters we’ve come to love. And in the background is the threat of Breen’s grandfather, the dark god Odran, who would see all the worlds bloody and burned.

A lot of this book is building the anticipation of the battle and for a final battle of good against such dark evil, there’s surprisingly less action that you’d might expect. Whether or not this is satisfying is reader preference. I didn’t mind following a mostly pleasant journey with Breen and company, but I did perhaps expect a bit more energy and to feel the stakes that were laid out a bit more. There are dark moments and even a couple that brought tears to my eyes as Breen and all she loves have to fight to protect what’s good in every world. The conclusion of the story is satisfying and it wraps up all the main characters’ journeys in a satisfying way. All in all, I enjoyed The Choice; Nora Roberts’s writing drew me in and in the absence of Odran, Breen’s two worlds are ones I found cozy, warm, and engaging.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Review: Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd

Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd
Series: Murder in Alaska, Book 1
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Suspense 
Wrong Alibi cover
ISBN: 9781335201997
EBook Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Christina Dodd Reading Order

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie's escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family…

As a teenager, Evelyn Jones ran into trouble that landed her in juvie. At eighteen, she’s out and has a chance at making a future for herself. She has a job in Rockin, Alaska with a mysterious man who ends up disappearing and framing her for murder and embezzlement. Convicted for a horrible crime she didn’t commit, an accident frees Evie and sends her on the run. It’s been a decade and Evie’s isolation is about to end. Donald White, the murderer who set her up, has surfaced again and this time Evie is determined to be the hunter, not the hunted. Except someone else is on her tail, someone with vengeance on their mind.

Wrong Alibi is a twisty suspense with a heroine who is easy to root for. Evie has made bad mistakes in the past, yes, but the hand life deals her over and over again sucks and you want to see something good finally come her way. Author Christina Dodd makes her work for it. I have mixed feelings about this story. There are parts that drew me in, but it took a while to get there. I’m a longtime Dodd fan but this story lacked the pull her books usually have for me. It took me about a third of the way in for me to stop putting the book down for months at a time and it wasn’t until halfway through that the story picked up.

Evie is a survivor. She has strength and determination that is easy to admire. She’s haunted by the deaths of the mother and child Donald White killed. She also misses her mother and sister desperately but knows she cannot come out of the small fishing camp where she’s been hiding out for a decade. Until Donald resurfaces and threatens what she holds dear. Evie is determined to see Donald brought to justice, but it isn’t easy.

Zone Jameson is haunted by the death of his wife and son. He’s been isolated for the past decade but now he’s aware that the woman who murdered them – Evelyn Jones – is alive. He’s determined to get his revenge and is on Evie’s tail. What happens next I’ll leave readers to discover but it’s not very surprising.

The quest to bring Donald White to justice and clear Evie’s name is at the center of Wrong Alibi and it works fairly well. It takes a while for things to get going, which was a pity. Once it does, I was engaged. But there are other plot threads that appear at the end of the book and the number of points of view gets a bit crowded. At least one of the minor plots could have been eliminated because it strains credulity even for fiction. I don’t want to spoil the story by going into more detail. Suffice it to say that Wrong Alibi wasn’t quite my cup of tea. It’s slow in beginning, then speeds through character and relationship development in the end. There are a lot of things skipped that could have been built on to make the characters, overall story, and burgeoning romance feel stronger.



FTC Disclosure: I purchased the audiobook and received the EBook for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Review: Some Dukes Have All the Luck by Christina Britton

Some Dukes Have All the Luck by Christina Britton
Series: Synneful Spinsters, Book 1
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance 
Some Dukes Have All the Luck cover
ISBN: 9781538710401
Release Date: November 8, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Ash Hawkins, Duke of Buckley, no more wants to marry than he wants a stick in his eye. As the owner of a gaming hell, he is all too aware the odds of a happy marriage are against him. But raising his three rebellious wards alone is proving more than he can handle. He needs to find someone who stands to benefit from a marriage of convenience as much as he does. Someone logical, clinical, and rational. And in a stroke of luck, he quite literally stumbles over just such a woman.

After years of ridicule for being more interested in bugs than boys, Bronwyn has accepted that she’ll never marry for love. Her parents, however, are threatening to find her a husband. Bronwyn doesn’t need any scientific research to show her Ash has secrets. But his proposal would give her the freedom to continue her entomology research and perhaps finally get published. Just as long as she can keep her mind on her work and off his piercing eyes, broad shoulders, and wicked, wicked tongue.

A marriage of convenience between two strangers quickly becomes something more in Some Dukes Have All the Luck. Christina Britton whisks readers back to the Isle of Synne for the Synneful Spinsters series and I, for one, could not be more delighted.

Bronwyn is an entomologist who grew up with parents who only saw her as a pawn to increase their social standing. She’s been beaten down but not broken and her quiet strength was on full display. She broke my heart more than once, thinking that she was unworthy of love. I yearned for her to see how worthy she was just on her own and cheered as she found her confidence. Chance brings her into the path of the Duke of Buckley. Ash is at loose ends. His three wards run off all their governesses and though he tries to keep himself separate from them in order to protect them, he loves them dearly. He wants to find a wife to care for and guide them and Bronwyn seems perfect. Ash may be misguided in his thinking, but he’s as easy to adore as Bronwyn. He cares deeply for his family and I loved that he immediately supported Bronwyn’s interests and work. Ash carries guilt and scars he thinks means he needs to be an island, but it’s clear from the start that he’s meant to be on Synne with Bronwyn, Regina, Nelly, and Eliza.

The romance between Ash and Bronwyn is sweet and sensual. The two of them are well-matched from the start and I liked how they supported one another. Britton made it easy to fall into their romance and the pages of Some Dukes Have All the Luck practically flew by. I adored this story and I hope to see Bronwyn’s friends and fellow Oddments find happily ever afters of their own in future Synneful Spinsters books.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Review: Archangel’s Resurrection by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Resurrection by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 15
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy 
Archangels Resurrection cover
ISBN: 9780593198162
Release Date: October 25, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

For thousands of years, the passion between Alexander, Archangel of Persia, and Zanaya, Queen of the Nile, burned furious and bright, seemingly without end. But to be an archangel is to be bound to power violent and demanding. Driven by its primal energy, Alexander and Zanaya fought as fiercely as they loved, locked in an endless cycle of devotion and heartbreak. It is only Zanaya’s decision to Sleep that ends their love story.

Eons later, the Cascade of Death wakens them both. The passion between them a flame that yet burns, Alexander and Zanaya stand together in one last battle against the ultimate darkness. But even a warrior archangel cannot win every war. Alexander’s scream shatters the world as Zanaya falls, broken and silent . . . only to rise again in a miracle that may be a devastating curse. For is it truly the Queen of the Nile who has been resurrected?

Only one thing is clear: This is the last beat of their passionate, angry dance. The final song for Alexander and his Zani…

What happens when love isn’t enough to keep two angels together? That’s the question in Archangel’s Resurrection. Archangels Alexander and Zanaya have loved each other for millennia, their passion as furious as their breakups. It’s an endless cycle of love and heartbreak until Zanaya Sleeps, leaving Alexander alone. Now a Cascade unlike any other wakes Zanaya and Alexander is there. That eons have passed makes no difference in their love, but they can’t continue on like they have always done. For this time is their last chance to get it right.

Nalini Singh delivers a love story of two stubborn souls who have to learn from their past in order to make a relationship work. I absolutely loved seeing Alexander and Zanaya from youth to present. They are Ancients and their history is vast and complicated. It was a delight seeing Alexander as a young angel; how he learned, formed friendships that lasted through time (including that with Caliane). Zanaya, though centuries younger than her love, has just as long and storied a history. I was delighted by the first half of the book, getting to see their pasts and just the sheer history of their lives. They are millennia older than the angels we’ve come to know and love and I was fascinated by the worldbuilding Singh did. Both Zanaya and Alexander have a different perspective from the other angels we’ve seen so far.

Whether their love can survive is never a question for Alexander and Zanaya. It’s if they can live with each other. The natural repellant that comes from two archangels being in such close quarters is not their only problem. They clash as fiercely as they love and now, in the present, after Zanaya is deeply wounded in battle it has come to the final chance for the lovers. They have to work at their relationship; sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not. No matter how stubborn they both are, I liked that they worked for their happily ever after. They own up to their faults and learn to grow. And through it all is a core of love that shines bright.

There’s a darkness lingering in the background thanks to the aftermath of Lijuan’s reign of terror, but that comes second to the love story. I won’t spoil the overarching plot except to say it’s OK but not incredibly exciting if you’ve been reading the series. For me personally, I’ve had about as much of Lijuan as can hold my interest and I’m more than ready to move toward something new. I was far more interested in the new characters we meet who are near and dear to Alexander and Zanaya. And I definitely enjoyed getting a different take on the archangels and their nature from the perspective of two Ancients. I finished Archangel’s Resurrection a well-satisfied reader and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where Singh takes the Guild Hunter series next.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Review: Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai

Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense 
Partners in Crime cover
ISBN: 9780063119468
Release Date: October 18, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Mira Patel’s got a solid accounting career, good friends, and a whole lot of distance between her and her dysfunctional family. All that’s missing is a stable romantic relationship. Armed with a spreadsheet and professional help, she sets out to find her partner in only legal activities, but much to her matchmaker’s dismay, no one is quite right.

Including Naveen Desai, the very first match she unceremoniously rejected.

Lately Naveen’s been too focused on keeping his sick grandfather’s law firm afloat to think about love, and he’s stunned when Mira walks back into his life to settle her aunt’s affairs. He’s determined to keep things professional…though it’s impossible not to be intrigued by all of the secrets piling up around Mira.

If getting back together with an ex is a bad idea, getting kidnapped with one is even worse.

Suddenly, Naveen and Mira find themselves in a mad dash through Las Vegas to escape jewel thieves, evade crime bosses, and follow the clues to untangle the mess her family left behind. As her past comes back to haunt her, Mira despairs of ever finding someone who might understand her…but maybe, over the course of one wild night, she’ll find that he’s right by her side.

What should have been a simple matter of settling family affairs becomes complicated when Mira’s ex turns out to be her late aunt’s lawyer…and that’s before the not-so-tiny complication of them being kidnapped and taken to Vegas. It’s just your average reunion with the ex-boyfriend you never stopped having feelings for…plus stolen jewels, hackers, crime bosses, and a mad dash through Sin City. Part rom-com, part romantic suspense, Partners in Crime is fast-paced and fun with energy to spare.

Mira is the kind of heroine I love. She’s smart, successful, and confident, but she has a vulnerable center she lets few see. Mira also happens to be angering her matchmaker by not making the staid and stable match she wants. Enter her ex, Naveen. The handsome lawyer is just as irresistible as she remembers, but the thought of getting close to him again makes Mira anxious. When they’re kidnapped together, however, the way the two of them click is just too apparent to ignore. Naveen is charming and smart, but like Mira he has ghosts in his past he doesn’t want to talk about. If Naveen and Mira want to make their second chance at happily ever after work, they’re going to have to open up, trust each other, and work for a future together…if they can survive the criminals hot on their tails, that is.

The action tends to overtake the romance in Partners in Crime, which is a bit of a pity because Mira and Naveen are such an engaging couple that I wish a slight bit more focus had been on the love story. Both of them have complicated relationships with their siblings I enjoyed learning more about and pasts neither is quick to open up about. Every time we got to the emotional center of these characters the story shone, more so than when the focus was on the danger and action. Their Vegas escapade is entertaining though, and author Alisha Rai keeps the story moving at a quick clip. Things did get a little overblown for my taste at the climax of the story, but whether or not readers agree will depend on personal preference in crime capers. Overall, I had a good time reading Partners in Crime. Alisha Rai’s writing is as entertaining as always, the characters are engaging, and the plot is flashy and fun.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Review: Season of Love by Helena Greer

Season of Love by Helena Greer
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Female/Female Contemporary Romance 
Season of Love cover
ISBN: 9781538706534
Release Date: October 11, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Thanks to her thriving art career, Miriam Blum finally has her decoupaged glitter ducks in a row—until devastating news forces her to a very unwanted family reunion. Her beloved great-aunt Cass has passed and left Miriam part-owner of Carrigan’s, her (ironically) Jewish-run Christmas tree farm.

But Miriam’s plans to sit shiva, avoid her parents, then put Carrigan’s in her rearview mirror are spoiled when she learns the business is at risk of going under. To have any chance at turning things around, she’ll need to work with the farm’s grumpy manager—as long as the attraction sparking between them doesn’t set all their trees on fire first.

Noelle Northwood wants Miriam Blum gone—even if her ingenious ideas and sensitive soul keep showing Noelle there’s more to Cass’s niece than meets the eye. But saving Carrigan’s requires trust, love, and risking it all—for the chance to make their wildest dreams come true.

Season of Love is a heartwarming story of love, loss, and the family you make. Helena Greer’s debut novel manages to give off a good amount of holiday sparkle while having its characters deal with grief.

After the death of her great-aunt, Miriam Blum returns to Carrigan’s (her aunt’s Jewish-run Christmas tree farm) to sit shiva and come to terms with her loss. It’s been ten years since she left Carrigan’s and though her beloved cousin now runs the place, there’s also a new face: Noelle Northwood, the farm’s manager who clearly doesn’t want her there. Noelle can’t understand why Miriam would ever have turned her back on Carrigan’s, nor why she cut herself off from her aunt and cousin. Carrigan’s is Noelle’s home and some fancy artist flying in to reopen old wounds for her beloved made family is not something she wants to put up with. But Miriam isn’t at all what she expected and her reasons for staying away come from a place of trauma. When the will is read and Miriam is named one of the new owners of Carrigan’s, she and Noelle have to find a way to work together.

Noelle is big, butch, and loyal to her loved ones. She’s a recovering alcoholic who has put dating on hold while she tries to protect all that she holds dear. Carrigan’s is in danger of going under and that has to be her top priority, not some gorgeous artist who is a flight risk. Miriam grew up with an abusive father who nearly broke her. She separated herself from her past and has built a life in Charleston that is safe. She doesn’t want to deal with her trauma, but her aunt’s death has forced her to come to terms with the past. Miriam is bright, talented, and smart. She’s determined to save Carrigan’s and that means she has to go toe-to-toe sometimes with her cousin, Hannah, and Noelle. Miriam and Noelle both have lessons to learn and it was great seeing them come into their own. Noelle is slow to trust and wary of being hurt. Miriam has to come into her own and stop hiding from the parts of her that need to heal.

The romance between Miriam and Noelle is often fun and flirty. The attraction is delightful and their interactions when they’re flirting are charming. There is a lot of push-pull for reasons I’ll leave readers to find out. Greer made every bump in the road worth it, however, for a happily ever after that is sweet.

There’s a lot to love about Season of Love. It made me smile that a Jewish family ran a Christmas tree farm and I loved that Greer authentically incorporated Judaism into this story. The supporting cast is also well worth talking about. Everyone at Carrigan’s is interesting and well-drawn, endearing and flawed at the same time. The only downside of this story is that it does move rather slowly, especially the first half of it. The pacing did make it easy for me to put this book down but aside from that I really enjoyed Miriam and Noelle’s story. The ending of Season of Love is warm and satisfying and I’m very much looking forward to Hannah and Blue’s book.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Review: Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Series: London Steampunk, Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Steampunk Romance 
Kiss of Steel cover
ISBN: 9781402270277
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Honoria Todd has more secrets than most people and she's hiding them in Whitechapel. Blade is the master of the rookeries and agrees to protect her, but at what price?

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven as she hides from the Blue Blood aristocracy that rules London through power and fear.

Blade rules the rookeries-no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel-or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.

Kiss of Steel is a luscious, dark, evocative romance. Bec McMaster’s alternate universe steampunk London is fascinating and the characters are unique and well-drawn. I was sucked into Honoria and Blade’s story from the first page and by the time I was done I was craving more of this world.

Honoria Todd was raised on the edge of Echelon society, where blue bloods rule. Six months after the murder of her father, Honoria is barely scraping by trying to keep herself and her siblings alive. Their home now is in the dangerous rookeries of Whitechapel, where rogue blue blood Blade is king. Dark and dangerous, Blade is no fool and he knows Honoria is hiding something from him. No one lives in the rookeries without his protection, and she has it – but the cost may be more than either are willing to pay.

Honoria is stubborn, smart, and willing to do almost anything to save her brother and sister. She doesn’t want to accept Blade’s help, but she has no choice. Blade was born in the gutter and infected with the craving against his will. He’s a rogue blue blood the Echelon would love to see stamped out. The two of them should have nothing in common, but they click from the start. There’s serious chemistry between Blade and Honoria that heated up the page and I loved the tension between them. All Blade wants to do is protect his people and live his life with the family he’s made, but there is no peace in this version of London. Blade is dangerous, near the edge of a violence he can’t control, but he’s got a good heart and cares deeply for people. I loved peeling back the layers of his character. Honoria has secrets of her own that have put a target on her back and I liked seeing her learn that she could count on Blade. She learns to accept help but that doesn’t mean she isn’t ready to stand and fight. They have powerful enemies hunting them and I liked that McMaster kept me guessing as to how things would work out.

Kiss of Steel is the first book in McMaster’s London Steampunk series and it definitely made me eager to read the rest of the series. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because part of the joy for me in reading was in the discovery. The world Honoria and Blade live in is dark, bloody, and they have to fight to survive. It’s also a world of tight bonds that melted my heart. Interwoven through it all is the world McMaster created which was interesting and unique. I loved learning about the craving, blue bloods, thralls, and more. I thoroughly enjoyed Honoria and Blade’s book; the romance was steamy and satisfying, the action intense, and the world engaging.



FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.