Review: The Undying Legion by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Undying Legion by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Series: Crown & Key, Book 2
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy/Steampunk The Undying Legion Cover
ISBN: 9780345540485
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

With a flood of dark magic about to engulf Victorian London, can a handful of heroes vanquish a legion of the undead?

When monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane comes across the gruesome aftermath of a ritual murder in a London church, he enlists the help of magician-scribe Simon Archer and alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther. Studying the macabre scene, they struggle to understand obscure clues in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics carved into the victim’s heart—as well as bizarre mystical allusions to the romantic poetry of William Blake. One thing is clear: Some very potent black magic is at work.

But this human sacrifice is only the first in a series of ritualized slayings. Desperate to save lives while there is still time, Simon, Kate, and Malcolm—along with gadget geek Penny Carter and Charlotte, an adolescent werewolf—track down a necromancer who is reanimating the deceased. As the team battles an unrelenting army of undead, a powerful Egyptian mummy, and serpentine demons, the necromancer proves an elusive quarry. And when the true purpose of the ritual is revealed, the gifted allies must confront a destructive force that is positively apocalyptic.

The Undying Legion is monstrously entertaining…with extra emphasis on the monsters. The second Crown & Key story is an intriguing puzzle; each piece is its own supernatural entity, but it all comes together to create one cohesive, delightful story.

I admit, I had my reservations about The Undying Legion, as the first Crown & Key book was hit and miss for me. I’m glad to say that the continued adventures of Simon, Kate, and Malcolm is just as exciting as The Shadow Revolution, but far less choppy. Authors Susan and Clay Griffith delve deeper into both their characters and the world they have created, making you care about the heroes and their motley crew of endearing secondary characters. The mystery this time around contains just as many threads but the web is a logical one. When Malcolm busts into a church and sees the aftermath of a ritual murder, he calls upon Simon and Kate to help him decipher the clues left at the scene. But every answer only leads to more questions. Soon our heroes are on a quest to uncover a necromancer who’s raising the dead, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Racing alongside Simon, Kate, and Malcolm as they try to solve the mystery and prevent more murders is what makes The Undying Legion so much fun, so I’ll avoid any more plot details for fear of spoiling it.

There’s a little bit of every kind of magic in The Undying Legion, but it all works together well. Malcolm, Kate, and Simon don’t just react to what’s going on around them, they become personally invested in it for a multitude of reasons, which gives the story depth. Though the characters still don’t truly fit their Victorian-era setting, it wasn’t too hard for me to suspend disbelief and simply enjoy. The action and character building was well balanced, and I loved learning more about each character. The ending of The Undying Legion left me eager to dive into the final Crown & Key story, The Conquering Dark. I can’t wait to see what happens to Kate, Simon, and Malcolm as they face their biggest challenge yet!


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.

Review: Simply Irresistible by Kate Pearce

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Simply Irresistible by Kate Pearce
Series: House of Pleasure, Book 2.5
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance with M/M and MénageSimply Irresistible Cover
ISBN: 9781617736971
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Kate Pearce Reading Order

IMPOSSIBLE
No one can deny the passion Abigail Beecham feels for Peter Howard. Not Peter, not Abigail, and, unfortunately, not Abigail’s husband James, a man with no interest in his wife or the society he long ago left behind. But despite longing for Peter, Abby cannot continue their illicit affair—not when her young son’s future hangs in the balance.

INSATIABLE
Peter knows well that many things are sweeter when protracted, but what he wants from Abby goes beyond ordinary desire. He wants her to himself, to devote his entire being to making her wildest dreams come true. And so he turns to his oldest friend, Lord Valentin Sokorvsky, and Val’s wife Sara, to abet his cause. Now these wanton friends are banded together for love, for pleasure, and for happily, wickedly, ever after…

Kate Pearce writes some of the best and hottest erotic historical romance and I absolutely love the House of Pleasure series. I’ve come to expect no-holds-barred passion and eroticism that blows past society’s rules the minute the doors are closed from this series and Ms. Pearce definitely delivered. Yet while the sex scenes are red hot, it has always been the House of Pleasure characters themselves that made the books truly memorable. That’s why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Simply Irresistible.

At the end of Simply Sinful, the second House of Pleasure novel, I had lingering questions about how Abby and Peter’s arrangement would work in the long term. Simply Irresistible provides the answers, but of course not without some drama. For me, it was a pleasure to see Abby and Peter get the happy ending they deserve, and it was also nice to see Peter find his footing as his own man, without Abby and Val around. However, the story was not without its flaws. For much of the book, Peter and Abby are passive participants in their own life. If not for the outlandish machinations of others, I doubt they would have made it as a couple, which troubles me. And Abby, who I adored in Simply Sinful, has turned into a martyr who also decides she knows what’s best for Peter, something that grated on my nerves.

I wanted to love Simply Irresistible, and it was by no means a bad book – it simply wasn’t all that I had hoped for. The things that I loved about the book often had nothing to do with Abby and Peter as a couple. The passion between them is lacking at times, something I’d never have expected. The runaway star of the show is also not our hero or heroine, but Val, Peter’s best friend and lover. The passion between Val and Peter is insanely hot and Ms. Pearce does a great job of balancing their love for one another with their obvious love and devotion to Sara and Abby. I only wish Abby and Peter’s relationship had felt as solid as Peter and Val’s.

Simply Irresistible contains twists and turns, drama and desire. The end result is a satisfying story, one that ties up loose ends from Simply Sinful (a book I highly recommend reading before diving into this novella). Though I was left feeling a bit let down by Abby, seeing Peter and Val’s relationship come into its own made Simply Irresistible an enjoyable read.


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.

Review: Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton
Series: Lizzy and Diesel, Book 3
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Paranormal Mystery Wicked Charms Cover
ISBN: 9780553392715
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Murdered and mummified nearly a century ago, notorious bootlegger Collier “Peg Leg” Dazzle discovered and re-hid a famous pirate’s treasure somewhere along the coast of New England. A vast collection of gold and silver coins and precious gems, the bounty also contains the Stone of Avarice—the very item reluctant treasure seeker Lizzy Tucker and her partner, Diesel, have been enlisted to find. While Lizzy would just like to live a quiet, semi-normal life, Diesel is all about the hunt. And this hunt is going to require a genuine treasure map and a ship worthy of sailing the seven seas…or at least getting them from Salem Harbor to Maine.

Greed is eternal and insatiable, and Lizzy and Diesel aren’t the only ones searching for the lost pirate’s chest. People who have dedicated their entire lives to finding it are willing to commit murder or make a deal with the devil just to hold the fortune in their hands. One of those people may even be Wulf, Diesel’s deceptively charming and enigmatic cousin. Wulf desires the Stone of Avarice. He also desires Lizzy. It’s hard to say how far he’s willing to go to gain either one.

Wicked Charms is a swashbuckling adventure full of raiders, monkeys, minions, and mayhem. Lizzy and Diesel are going to have to do everything they can to keep their heads above water and hope they’re living a charmed life.

Wicked Charms is a madcap paranormal thrill ride, the likes of which only Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton could write. In their third outing, Lizzy and Diesel face more villains, more danger, and more frosting mishaps than ever before, and the result is a zany adventure that’s impossible to put down.

Clues leading to another SALIGIA stone (one of seven stones that have the power of the seven deadly sins) have surfaced, so it’s up to Lizzy and her particular brand of “Unmentionable” skills to uncover it before it falls into the wrong hands. The Stone of Avarice is now in play, and this time it’s not just Diesel’s evil cousin Wulf who Lizzy and Diesel have to outwit. The search for the stone involves pirates, corpses, buried treasure, mayhem, cupcakes, and, of course, greed. I will admit that at certain points in the story there seemed to be too many players and the story went a bit too over the top, even by kooky mystery standards. That being said, I still enjoyed Lizzy and Diesel’s treasure hunt so much that I devoured Wicked Charms in one day.

While the search for the Stone of Avarice takes center stage, that doesn’t mean that Lizzy and Diesel themselves are neglected. The chemistry between these two is absolutely fantastic and I loved how things have started to heat up, even though Lizzy and Diesel are courting disaster (aka one of them potentially losing their magic powers) by falling for each other. Lizzy and Diesel are what takes Wicked Charms to the next level, adding heart to the frothy fun. And speaking of fun, all of Lizzy’s friends, a couple of clever animals, and one or two not-quite-inanimate objects bring laughs to the story and make you wish you were part of Lizzy’s crew.

Wicked Charms is the third book in the Lizzy and Diesel series, and though it hits the ground running, there is enough information in the story for those who haven’t read Wicked Appetite or Wicked Business to follow along. The only downside to the book was that it stoked the fires of reader greed – I want to dive into the next Lizzy and Diesel adventure as soon as possible. I absolutely adored Wicked Charms – it’s the perfect summer read!


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.

Review: Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Monday, June 15, 2015

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge, Book 1
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance Second Chance Summer Cover
ISBN: 9781455586738
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile…

The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance…

Get ready to fall in love with the Kincaid family! Jill Shalvis’s Second Chance Summer is sensual, fun, and will leave you salivating for the next Cedar Ridge story.

Aidan is a firefighter, works Search and Rescue, and also helps manage his family’s resort. The man is sexy as hell and a rescuer through and through. He’s also completely head-over-heels for Lily, and has been for years. She’s the one woman he could never forget and now that she’s back in town, he’s not about to let her slip through his fingers a second time. Lily is far more gun-shy than Aidan. Tragedy made her flee Cedar Ridge years ago and she only plans to come back until she can find a job elsewhere. Falling for Aidan – again – is not something she wants, but it’s inevitable. The two of them have fantastic chemistry and it’s easy to see that they’re made for each other. Their love story has all the heat, humor, and heart I’ve come to expect from Ms. Shalvis’s romances and I can’t count the number of times Lily and Aidan made me smile. Their pasts have done a number on them, but watching them heal as they fall in love is part of what makes Second Chance Summer so engaging.

Romance aside, the entire Kincaid crew will grab your heart and make you want to move to Cedar Ridge. Aidan and his siblings bicker and tease, and their hijinks are sure to make readers laugh. But most importantly, every single one of them has the others’ backs, and the love they all have for each other is one of the highlights of Second Chance Summer. There’s a lot to love about Ms. Shalvis’s new world of Cedar Ridge, and I know I’ll be revisiting Aidan and Lily multiple times as I await Hudson Kincaid's book, My Kind of Wonderful.


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.

Review: The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith
Series: Crown & Key, Book 1
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy/Steampunk The Shadow Revolution Cover
ISBN: 9780345539502
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

The Shadow Revolution is imaginative and exciting, a story with tons of action and endless possibilities. Clay and Susan Griffith’s first installment of the Crown & Key trilogy has a lot to recommend it, though often the ideas are better than the execution. Werewolves, sadistic villains, and human-automata hybridization experiments are a lot to tackle in one book, and when you add in the introduction of a handful of strong personalities, the result is an intriguing, if somewhat choppy story. Simon, Kate, Malcom, Nick, and Penny are all interesting characters, none of whom quite get the attention they deserve because there is so much going on. I hope the second and third Crown & Key books delve more into their characters, for there’s a lot to unpack. Simon is a scribe, a powerful magician with a rare ability. He’s also a weary playboy who keeps his true nature hidden, until a werewolf attacks and he’s thrown in the path of Kate Anstruther and Malcolm MacFarlane. Malcom is a sometimes-brooding werewolf hunter with neat weapons and a backstory we don’t really get into (I assume that will change in future stories). Kate, in turn, is an alchemist and an unusual female (for the era) who’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone. The three form an alliance to defeat the werewolf threat, only to discover that werewolves are the least of their problems. Supernatural creatures unlike any the world has seen threaten London, and it’s up to our heroes and their allies to uncover the conspiracy and save the day.

The action doesn’t stop in The Shadow Revolution, which makes it a fast-paced read. As I mentioned before, the frantic pace doesn’t leave too much time for depth or character development, but that doesn’t mean the story isn’t enjoyable. Mr. and Ms. Griffith aren’t afraid to make things dark and gory, and the overall tone of the book draws you in. The Victorian-era London setting adds to the ambiance, though the characters don’t really act like they’re in the nineteenth century.

The Shadow Revolution has its ups and downs, but I do think the series has a lot of potential. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for Simon, Kate, and Malcolm in the next Crown & Key book, The Undying Legion.


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.

Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Fantasy Alias Hook Cover
ISBN: 9781250042156
Source: Publisher
Blue Ribbon Rating: 3 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link

Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan. The boy who won’t grow up defeats the villainous Captain Hook, saving the day and making children everywhere squeal with glee.

This is not that story.

This is Hook's tale. The man who would become Captain Hook was once a dashing privateer, before he landed in Neverland to become the villain and a victim of a never-ending war. Hook is sure that Neverland will never change, but he's proven wrong when a mysterious woman dreams her way to Neverland. Stella Parrish is a smart, determined woman who will stop at nothing to redeem the cursed Captain Hook. Their adventure will take them through Mermaid Lagoon to the land of the fairies and beyond. But will Stella's love be enough to save Hook's soul when the powerful Pan is equally determined to hold onto him forever?

Enter a Neverland where magic is as sinuous as a snake and twice as deadly. In ALIAS HOOK author Lisa Jensen puts her own twist on J. M. Barrie’s PETER AND WENDY and the result is an imaginative, dark ride through a fascinating, purgatory-like landscape. Our guide through Ms. Jensen’s Neverland is Captain James Benjamin Hookbridge, the man who comes to be Hook, the foil to Neverland’s boy ruler. Hook is a Restoration-era privateer who is vain, proud and not wholly likeable. Ms. Jensen gives us his backstory, showing the man before the myth, and though this part of the book is long and not exactly captivating, it does show readers how and why Hook came to Neverland and became the number one villain in Pan’s personal game. And once Pan sets his sights on Hook, the boy, who is a dark and twisted version of the beloved character, will not let the pirate go. Pan’s will and Hook’s own reticence to see that he needs to change and grow keep the two locked in a never-ending battle that Hook will always lose.

Hook’s one last shot at salvation comes in the form of Stella Parrish, a woman whose mere arrival in Neverland is a shock to all who live there. Stella is the catalyst for Hook’s change and watching him grow from the morose, frustrated pirate to the man he is meant to be is interesting. Hook and Stella’s journey takes them through Neverland and this is where ALIAS HOOK truly comes to life. Ms. Jensen’s insight into the world of magic, the relationship of male and female, and the true nature of boys who run free without ever seeing the real consequences of their actions is marvelous. This isn’t a light book, but it does become fascinating. I loved seeing the ins and outs of Neverland and by the end of the story I could not put ALIAS HOOK down. The story has many ups and downs, but in the end I’d say that ALIAS HOOK is a complex, interesting adult fairytale.


Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here with permission from Romance Junkies.

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.

Waiting on Wednesday: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

I've got less than 50 pages left in A Game of Thrones and I'm already buying up the rest of the series. I know I'm late to jump on the George R.R. Martin train, but better late than never, right? His writing is compelling, the ASoIaF world imaginative, and I'm dying to catch up. Even with just the information provided in book 1, I'm excited to read the prequel novellas and given the extras, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is one of those books I'll have to own in hardcover.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Cover Title: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire, Prequel
Author: George R. R. Martin
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: October 6, 2015

Book Description (from Amazon):

Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.

Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name (hidden from all he and Dunk encounter) is Aegon Targaryen. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two . . . as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.

Featuring more than 160 all-new illustrations by Gary Gianni, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead—yet.
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