Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Review: One Thing Leads to a Lover by Susanna Craig

One Thing Leads to a Lover by Susanna Craig
Series: Love and Let Spy, Book 2
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance 
One Thing Leads to a Lover cover
ISBN: 9781516110605
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Amanda Bartlett, widowed Countess of Kingston, is a woman beyond reproach. Married at nineteen, she dutifully provided the Earl with an heir and a spare before his death three years ago. Since then, Amanda has lived a simple, quiet life. A life that, if she were honest, has become more than a trifle dull. So when an adventure literally drops into her lap, in the shape of a mysterious book, she intends to make the most of it—especially if it brings her closer to a charismatic stranger…

Major Langley Stanhope, an intelligence officer and master mimic known as the Magpie, needs to retrieve the code book that has fallen into Amanda’s hands. The mistaken delivery has put them both in grave danger and in a desperate race to unearth a traitor. It’s also stirred an intense, reckless attraction. Langley believes the life he leads is not suitable for a delicate widow, but it seems he may have underestimated the lady’s daring…and the depths of their mutual desire…

A widowed countess’s dull life gets a lot more exciting in One Thing Leads to a Lover. Amanda Bartlett, Countess of Kingston, has always done her duty, acted the perfect lady, and never put one toe out of line. Then a mysterious French cookbook winds up in her possession instead of the geometry book she had purchased and her life is upended. For the book in question is a codebook both the French and the English would kill to get their hands on. Enter Major Langley Stanhope, known by his fellow spies as the Magpie. Langley needs to get his hands on the book, but what should have been a simple exchange gets a lot more complicated. Langley fears Amanda and family are now in danger, but if he expects the well-bred lady to simply idly stand by, he’s in for a shock.

One Thing Leads to a Lover is a fun and engaging read, thanks to author Susanna Craig’s delightful storytelling. Amanda and Langley are both incredibly likeable characters who are at a crossroads in their lives. Amanda loves her sons and her mother, but her life is beginning to feel suffocating. She takes charge of her life and I loved watching her break out of the rut she’s in. She’s a kind and caring person; definitely the kind of character you’d like to be friends with, were she real. Langley is a master mimic, but only Amanda sees the true man. An orphan taken in from the streets and raised to be a gifted spy, Langley has an interesting backstory that I loved diving into. He also is haunted by a mistake he made and I definitely wanted him to find peace. Langley fits right into Amanda’s family and I adored watching him with her sons. Separately and together, Amanda and Langley are endearing and I was rooting for them every step of the way. Their chemistry is fantastic and their romance made me smile. They made an excellent team as they worked together to catch a traitor and get the codebook before it could fall into enemy hands. I felt like the pages of this book flew by and I hated whenever I had to put it down.

One Thing Leads to a Lover is the second book in the Love and Let Spy series but it can easily be read as a standalone. The series is tied together by the matchmaking General Scott who is determined to help his agents find love. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both books in this series so far and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next Love and Let Spy novel!

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.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Review: Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book 6
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Wild Sign cover
ISBN: 9780440001584
Release Date: March 16, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It's as if the people picked up and left their possessions behind. With a mystery on their hands and no jurisdiction on private property, the FBI dumps the whole problem in the lap of the land owner, Aspen Creek, Inc.--aka the business organization of the Marrok's pack.

Somehow, the pack of the Wolf Who Rules is connected to a group of vanished people. Werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham are tasked with investigating, and soon find that a deserted town is the least of the challenges they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous--and it has met werewolves before.

Hidden in the mountains of Northern California lies an insidious evil. And when an entire town goes missing on land in that area that is owned by Charles’s family, the FBI calls on the Marrok’s pack for help. Charles, Anna, and Tag are determined to find out how the small town could simply vanish but when they arrive in Wild Sign they find more than they bargained for. A powerful evil is waiting for them and this time all the skills, power, strength, and magic our beloved werewolves possess may not be enough to defeat it.

Wild Sign is an interesting, eerie blend of supernatural mystery and horror. Anna and Charles have faced many evils before but this one, with the way it burrows into the mind, is something I found particularly creepy. This book is the kind that you cannot talk about the plot much without spoiling the story so forgive me for being vague. When you deal with a force that can mess with your mind, that means our heroes’ investigation is harder than one would expect. I loved watching them put the pieces together and Patricia Briggs definitely had me worried for our beloved protagonists at some points. For the most part the action in this story wasn’t explosive but that didn’t make it any less compelling because the stakes were so high. I stayed up way too late finishing Wild Sign because by the end I couldn’t put it down.

Anna and Charles are at the heart of this story and I always love spending time with them. Their love for each other is so strong and beautifully displayed. I enjoyed seeing more of Charles’s magical abilities in this story but really what keeps me sucked into this series is his and Anna’s relationship. They complement one another perfectly and their dynamic is one that makes me fall into their stories each time. I was also thrilled that Wild Sign delves deeper into the character of Leah, Charles’s stepmother. After Charles and Anna, Leah has always been the most intriguing character to me in the Alpha & Omega series and what we learn about her surpassed all my expectations. Again, I can’t say much without spoiling it but I will say I really hope Briggs continues to dive into Leah’s character and her relationship with Bran because it’s fascinating and I definitely wanted more by the time I was done.

Wild Sign is the sixth book in the Alpha & Omega series and I recommend being familiar with the world before diving into this story. The Alpha & Omega books are set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson series with overlapping characters. Having not yet read Mercy’s stories I can safely say you won’t be lost reading this book if you skipped the other series. That being said, the plots of Alpha & Omega are becoming increasingly entwined with those of the Mercy Thompson series so I think before Charles and Anna’s next outing I should catch up. The epilogue felt rushed and unexpected but I believe (though I cannot say for certain) if I had read the Mercy Thompson books I wouldn’t feel that way. Still, even with that I really enjoyed Wild Sign. Any outing with Charles and Anna is time well spent and I loved the eerie mystery that lurked in the woods.

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, March 7, 2021

Review: Earth Bound by Christine Feehan

Earth Bound by Christine Feehan
Series: Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart, Book 4
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Earth Bound cover
ISBN: 9780515155570
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

On the shores of Sea Haven, six women touched by great loss have come together in a sisterhood strengthened by the elements—a bond each will need as new love and danger enter their lives…

After escaping from a cult, Lexi found refuge with her sisters on the farm that more than sustained her body—it nurtured her soul as well. But she never forgot the terror she left behind or the always present fear that the cult would find her again, and claim her. Then her nightmare came true.

Lexi was discovered and threatened—only to be suddenly saved by a stranger. He is Gavriil Prakenskii, and he’s awestruck by the woman he’s rescued. She is destined for him. He can feel it in his soul. But how can Lexi find happiness with a man steeped in secrets and shadows, one intimately acquainted with violence, and whose very love could be the death of them?

Two scarred and wounded souls find healing, hope, and love in Earth Bound. Lexi’s book was the one I was waiting for most in the Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart series and Christine Feehan did not disappoint.

At eight years old Lexi was kidnapped and taken to a cult by a sadistic pedophile who imprisoned, raped, and abused her. When she escaped at seventeen, her entire family was murdered. Years later Lexi has found some semblance of peace on the farm she and her “sisters of the heart” – five other women who also lost loved ones to violence – own. Lexi carries both visible and invisible wounds from the past and it all comes flooding back when members of the cult find her. She’s saved by the most deadly man she’s ever met: Gavriil Prakenskii. In Gavriil Lexi sees another wounded soul, one she can help. Their bond is instantaneous, knocking them both for a loop.

The Prakenskii fated mates bond (for lack of a better term) kicks in immediately for Lexi and Gavriil, but that doesn’t mean the road to happily ever after is an easy one. Lexi is a survivor and I loved her quiet strength and caring heart. But she’s also incredibly wounded and suffers from PTSD. Having both the cult members after her and this new and frightening attraction to Gavriil come at the same time increases her panic attacks and I so desperately wanted to see her find peace and happiness. Gavriil is her perfect match. He’s terrifying even to his hardened brothers but there is so much love in him that no one but Lexi can see. He’s lethal, yes, and definitely protective, but he shows Lexi patience and understanding right off the bat. He’s open about falling for her but he doesn’t ever pressure her and makes it clear that he never will about any aspect of their relationship. Gavriil helps Lexi continue her healing journey but she helps him as well. He’s so alone and he’s deadly because he has to be but she sees him as a person. She sees his humorous side, his caring, and she is as protective of him as he is of her. I absolutely loved them as individuals and as a couple. Their love story is one of healing, understanding, and unconditional support.

Earth Bound is the fourth book in the Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart series but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, the most exciting moments for me outside of Lexi and Gavriil’s relationship were those with Gavriil and his brothers. The seven Prakenskii brothers were taken as children and raised to be weapons. Gavriil is the second oldest and he’s incredibly protective of his younger brothers, especially Ilya. I loved seeing all five brothers who are currently in Sea Haven unite in this one and it added another level of emotion to this story. And I cannot write about this book without mentioning Lexi’s sisters. Their bond and love for one another is vital to this series and it was a joy to watch them all together. I’ve read Earth Bound twice and was enchanted by it both times. I cannot wait to see what Feehan has in store for Lissa, the fire element who is more than she seems, in Fire Bound.

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 Devil in Her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne

The Devil in Her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know, Book 3
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance 
The Devil in Her Bed cover
ISBN: 9781250318886
Release Date: March 9, 2021
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

He lives in secret service to the Crown—a man of duty, deception, and an undeniable attraction to a woman who threatens to tear his whole world apart.

They call him the Devil of Dorset. He stands alone, a man of undeniable power. Moving in and out of shadows, back alleys and ballrooms, he is unstoppable and one of the Crown’s most dangerous weapons. However, when he sets his sights on the undeniably beautiful Countess of Mont Claire, Francesca Cavendish, he doesn’t realize that he has met a match like no other.


Francesca is a countess by day and stalks her prey—those responsible for the death of her family—by night. What she does not expect is to be thrown into the path of the devil himself, the Earl of Devlin. She has secrets of her own and he seems determined to lay them bare. Can her heart survive finding the love of her life and losing him when all is revealed?

I’m a big fan of Kerrigan Byrne’s work so it pains me to say I didn’t enjoy The Devil in Her Bed. The final book in the Devil You Know trilogy is as dramatic as the first two, but in ways that just didn’t work for me.

Francesca is on a quest for vengeance. Her family and closest friends were murdered by the Crimson Council when she was a child and she’s determined to discover who caused their deaths and why. But she’s not the only one targeting the mysterious Council. The Devil of Dorset wears many guises and he too seeks to destroy the Council. He’s also after Francesca, who he believes to be an imposter…and he’s right. Francesca took the name of her friend after her murder, using her title and the power that comes with it to help her on her quest. Sparks fly immediately between Francesca and the Devil of Dorset and they seem like the perfect match. But what will happen when all their secrets are revealed?

Francesca is a bold and brave heroine with a short temper and a grudge. She’s not for everyone but I didn’t mind that she wasn’t perfectly likeable – what she’s been through makes her actions understandable. She hates society’s rules, particularly those that are meant to shame and bring down women. Francesca lives in many ways in the past which again, makes sense. She’s tied up in knots on her mission to avenge her loved ones and she’s so close to her goal that nothing will stop her. She’s laser-focused which can sometimes hinder her but I was impressed by her dedication and creativity.

As for Chandler… he’s where I had the most trouble with The Devil in Her Bed. The Devil of Dorset is tied up in the past to an unhealthy degree. He is in love with a memory so powerful that even had the girl he loved survived there is no way she would live up to what he imagines her to be. He lusts for Francesca, sure, and he makes no bones about it. But his heart and mind is caught up in a fantasy. The romance absolutely didn’t work for me because of this. Francesca practically prostrates herself at his feet and yet up to the end he believes her to be someone else and is so in love with his memory there doesn’t seem to be any room in his heart for the woman right in front of him. There is some retconning at the end of the story to make the happily ever after happen and it just doesn’t work. Perhaps if we had seen more flashbacks or scenes from the past in Chandler’s point of view, or if the truth had come out earlier in the book, it might have worked. But as it stands, the romance was completely unsatisfying for me.

The Crimson Council has been the series big bad and in The Devil in Her Bed we finally get to the heart of it. As far as villains go, the Council and its head aren’t as interesting as I had hoped. The majority of their actions in this book seem to be outrageous for shock value rather than something more meaty to give the book depth. There’s also a reveal about the main villain that seemed like it was going to be important and then ultimately wasn’t and I questioned why it was in there.

The Devil in Her Bed is the first book of Byrne’s that was a miss for me but I will say it’s not wholly disappointing. Byrne’s writing still sucks me in and Francesca’s friendship with the Red Rogues, Alexandra and Cecilia, warmed my heart. I also adored the respect and support Francesca gets from Cecilia’s fiancé, Ramsay. Visiting the past heroes and heroines of the Devil You Know series was my favorite part of the story. All in all, Francesca and Chandler’s book wasn’t for me. That being said, I still recommend the first two books in the series and I cannot wait to see what Kerrigan Byrne writes 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.