Posted in book review

Burn for Me

bfmA Hidden Legacy Book #1
Ilona Andrews
Avon, Oct 2014
Nook ed., 400 pages, also in paperback, audio CD & audible
Genre(s) dystopian fantasy romance
Source Author’s newsletter

Other books in this series: White Hot #2, Wildfire #3

Synopsis:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launched a brand-new Hidden Legacy series (in 2014), in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire . . .

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

About the Authors:

ilauth“Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

They have co-authored several NYT and USAT bestselling series. They are currently working on the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels, the paranormal romance of Hidden Legacy, and their independently published series, Innkeeper Chronicles.

You can read more about their work on their website: http://www.ilona-andrews.com

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s newsletter. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭⭑
I’ve had this book for awhile, and I’m pretty sure I read it several years ago in paperback. But I no longer have paperbacks around, so I can’t check that. And I didn’t enter it in my GoodReads list, so I can’t check it there. But, I have read some of the Kate Daniels series and I’m pretty sure I read this when it came out. But I read it again last week. Reading anything by this author is never a waste of time. It’s always going to be a good read.

I was not disappointed. The world they built for this trilogy is amazing! It’s a dystopian world based in Houston, TX. The magic system is quite wide ranging as far as what people are capable of doing. And people can have more than one type of magic. It seems like there are an awful lot of not very nice people around in these days.

Nevada Baylor and her assorted family members are quite quirky. Her grandmother modifies large vehicles, like armored trucks and tanks. Her mother is an army veteran, a sniper who spends a lot of time trying to keep her various children from causing trouble. Nevada has two teenaged sisters who just need to survive being teenagers and let their magic settle to be human. She has two cousins living with her as well. One whose magic keeps him busy with their computers and one who doesn’t seem to think he has any magic. They live in a warehouse and run the private investigations business out of there as well.

Connor Rogan is one heck of a power. The army made him into the perfect weapon with no off switch. Now he’s home from war and on his own as head of his house. He chooses his own battles. He’s decided Nevada would make a good weapon in his latest battle, so he tries to acquire her in his forthright way. Or would that be forceful way? And Nevada doesn’t respond to force very well.

But she looks into his eyes and sees what others have missed. She looks at him and sees things she likes and decides to be acquired in her own way. She finds his off switch and they leave most of Houston still standing. Once she and Rogan start working together towards the same goal, things get fun. They shoot sparks and steam and all sorts of things. Everyone loves to stand around and watch it happen, too. So read this book and then you’ll do the same thing I did. You will immediately need book two, White Hot.

Keep reading…

whWhite Hot
Book #2
Ilona Andrews
Avon, May 2017
Nook ed., 389 pages, also in paperback, audio CD & audible
Genre(s) dystopian fantasy romance
Source purchased for full price

Synopsis:
The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

My Disclaimer:
I purchased this book for full price at BN.com. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
I couldn’t resist buying the second book, and it was worth every penny I spent on it. The first book stopped at a place that just begged for the next one. Not exactly a cliffhanger, but pretty darn close. So, since book 2 came out in May, I was able to buy it and get busy reading.

In this one, Nevada hasn’t heard from Rogan since the ending of the last case when they first met. She has a new client. Cornelius wants Nevada to find out who killed his wife. He knows he’s been lied to about what happened and he wants the truth.

Rogan, of course, gets involved as Nevada stumbles through the intricate society that makes up their magic world. She’s too new to the social swirl to know when she has or is about to make a mistake. Rogan and her new client try to help her pick her way through the dance that seems to be the rules of their high society, but Nevada isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, especially in a fight. She goes to one high society event in a lovely dress with brutal markings around her neck showing where someone tried to kill her. She always makes an impression.

The relationship is gaining momentum in this book and getting steamier. They are both aware of their feelings for each other and open about them. People close around them definitely see them as a couple and their society is becoming aware of them as a pair as well. Some are delighted and some are ready to kill them. Literally. There seems to be a conspiracy afoot and Rogan and Nevada seem to keep getting in its way of starting a New Rome and putting their own Ceasar at its head.

For a bonus from this case, Nevada gets a large blue cat-like creature and a non-aggressive Grizzly bear, named Teddy to add to her family. She also gets her first non-family employee and House support. Other than House Rogan, that is.

And I needed the third book when I was done with this one, of course. You will, too.

So, keep reading…

wWildfire
Book #3
Ilona Andrews
Avon, Jul 2017
Nook ed., 391 pages, also in paperback, audio CD & audible
Genre(s) dystopian fantasy romance
Source bought for full price

Synopsis:
From Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author, the thrilling conclusion to her Hidden Legacy series, as Nevada and Rogan grapple with a power beyond even their imagination…

Nevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?

My Disclaimer:
I purchased this book for full price at BN.com. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭✭
This was the best of the three books! So varied and so many things going on all coming together here. Is this the end of a trilogy or the breather before all hell breaks loose?

This is when Nevada’s sisters’ magic is really useful. This is when people recognize the danger and take sides. She meets her other grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, in this book. The one that’s sort of been a bogey man up until now. Nevada finds out the whole truth about her lineage and even Rogan is startled by it.

The four children, Nevada, her two sisters, and her cousin, test before the Council to see if they will become a House. Of remain a family. It’s here that she has to announce publicly any affiliations or ties to other Houses. And she surprises them all.

In this book, the couple solidifies their relationship and looks ahead. Nevada finally gets to meet Rogan’s mother. They build a big house. And I would have thought that would be the end if not for the last bit.

The last conversation of Victoria Tremaine as she walks among the roses talking with someone who says that it’s not over. That New Rome will come and there will be a Ceasar. Is there more to come or not? After waiting three years for the second and third books, and getting them within months of each other, what does this mean? I am not sure. Read these three books and tell me what you think it means.

Posted in book review

Close to the Skin

cttsRELEASE DATE: AUG 18, 2017

The Skin Quartet #2
Zara West
The Wild Rose Press, 2017
Kindle ed, 264 pages
Genre(s) Contemporary romance, Ink, and Bad Boy Romance
Source Author’s rep

Other books in this series: Beneath the Skin #1

Synopsis:
Head of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise, Vernon Newell doesn’t let family ties or misplaced sympathy get in his way. But there is one chink in his armor—Bella Bell, a prospering tattoo artist in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Despite her attraction to the fabulously sexy man, Bella wants nothing to do with a hard-headed, ruthless criminal. But when threatening messages start arriving, and Vernon disappears, Bella must choose to abandon the man she loves or risk her life to save him.

This not the typical military or spy romantic suspense. It is a gritty, urban thriller about criminals and tattoo artists, where the hero and heroine would rather not have anything to do with the law, and who eventually get their happy ending, but only after facing down incredible odds to do so. WINNER of the 2016 Pages of the Heart contest.

About the Author:

zwAward-winning author Zara West loves all things dark, scary, and heart-stopping as long as they lead to true love. Zara spends winters in New York City where the streets hum with life, summers at the shore where the sea can be cruel, and the rest of the year anywhere inspiration for tales of suspense, mystery, and romance are plentiful.

An accomplished artist by training and passion, she brings a love of art to every book she writes. A fan of handcrafted and ethically produced clothing, Zara’s original clothing designs and artistic creations have been sold in numerous venues including Bloomingdales, Putumayo, and the Museum of American Folk Art.

In a life full of misadventures, she has had sunstroke on the top of a Greek mountain while doing ethnographic research with shepherds, been stranded on the banks of the Rhine with no money and one chocolate bar, and while she has never been kidnapped, she has been abandoned on an uninhabited island in the middle of the wilderness for longer than she wants to remember.

In her spare time, when not writing award-winning books, magazine articles, and flash fiction stories, Zara tends her organic herb garden and whips up ethnic dishes for friends and family.

A member of RWA, Zara is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies, and she has received awards from Women on Writing, Stone Thread Publishing, Tryst Literary Magazine, and Winning Writers. Her novels have placed first in the Pages from the Heart, Romance Through the Ages, second in the Touch of Love, and long listed for the Mslexia Award.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰
This was a great story to follow the first book. The pacing was a bit uneven and I found my attention wandering a bit in parts with all the description of dark alleys. But this answers the questions I had from the first book about the other couple, Sirena/Bella and Vernon.

Remember the first book was Ari the former Olympian and Melissa. Sirena is Ari’s sister and best friends with Melissa. The older couple has gone back to the island they own and living their peaceful life. Sirena’s life is far from peaceful.

Sirena is desperately trying to build up her tattoo business and take care of her colony of feral alley cats. Her drawings for the big job get stolen and she loses the chance there. Her cats are attacked. She’s attacked. Her shop is vandalized. She ends up teaming up and sleeping rough with some street kids. Actually, they are Ari’s team of street kids.

But the love of her life is trying to go straight during all of this. He was a total thug and crime boss. Now he’s an “ex”. He’s also her ex, but he wants her back. He’s trying to go straight, but he’s a bit naive about it. His stepmother and half-brother aren’t being helpful at all because they want what he has and could continue to provide. It gets messy and a bit confusing with everyone running around in the dark. That’s when it drags a bit, I think.

There are scary parts and sweet parts in this second book. The absolute sweetest thing is when Vernon brings Sirena three tiny kittens to care for. He couldn’t have done anything more right if he’d brought her the moon or a million dollars! This might not be quite as good as the first book, but it is certainly a good read. The relationship between these two is funny and sweet and on-and-off. You just have to read it!

I’ve been unable to find a release date, yet, for Under the Skin Book #3.

Posted in book review

Wild Game

wgWilding Pack Wolves #1
Alisa Woods
Sworn Secrets Publishing, Dec 2015
Kindle, 267 pages, also in paperback
Genre(s) paranormal romance, gaming element
Source Author’s newsletter

Other books in this series: #2 Wild Love, #3 Wild Heat, #4 Wild One, #5 Wild Fire, #6 Wild Magic

Synopsis:
Her pack is being hunted.
He’s a bodyguard with a secret.

The Wolf Hunter is targeting them both.
GAME ON.

Owen Harding hasn’t shifted since he was in Agent Smith’s experimental cages—the only thing this ex-Army Texas boy is afraid of is what kind of beast he’s become. But with a hate group issuing more threats against the Wilding pack than you can shake a stick at, Owen’s doing what he can as a personal bodyguard. If only the Wilding girl he’s tasked with keeping alive wasn’t so damn sexy… and completely off limits.

Nova Wilding’s father was assassinated, leaving her a gaming company to run, a new game to release, and a pack full of wolves who want her for a mate… including a beta who’s determined to have Nova and her company. Choosing someone outside the pack will tear it apart, but Nova can’t stop watching the hot shifter who’s keeping watch over her.

When Nova barely escapes an attempt on her life, she finds herself in Owen’s arms… but her sexy new bodyguard is absolutely the wrong man at the wrong time. While Nova fights to keep her father’s business afloat, and Owen fights to keep her alive, the Wolf Hunter is playing a dangerous new game that might destroy them both.

WILD GAME is a complete novel with HEA, the first in the Wilding Pack Wolves series. All stories are standalone, but for maximum reader enjoyment, start with the River Pack Wolves trilogy.

Contains scorching hot shifters, alpha military heroes, and sexy female gamers. Only readers over 18 should dive into the dangerously hot world of the Wilding Pack Wolves.

About the Author:
GET A FREE STORY: http://smarturl.it/AlisaNewsletter

Alisa Woods lives in the Midwest with her husband and family, but her heart will always belong to the beaches and mountains where she grew up. She writes sexy paranormal romances about alpha men and the women who love them. She enjoys exploring the struggles we all have, where we resist–and succumb to–our most tempting vices as well as our greatest desires. She firmly believes that love triumphs over all.

Alisa’s web site: http://www.AlisaWoodsAuthor.com

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book from the author’s newsletter. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰
This was fast paced and hot! Between their always being in a crisis situation for one reason or another and their volatile relationship, there was always something going on in this book.

Owen was a black wolf, but since the experiments on him, he’s not sure what creature lives inside him and he’s afraid to let it out. But Nova makes his creature want out badly.

Nova’s trying to figure out how to step into her father’s shoes in the gaming company he left her when he was murdered. The pack is pressuring her to mate and the Beta wants that mate to be him. Her wolf wants Owen. But she doesn’t want to! She just wants to do things neat and tidy. She keeps trying to do what she THINKS she SHOULD do, but life keeps getting messy and the SHOULD doesn’t appeal.

This is a series, and the Wolf Hunter is part of the overarching story of the series. So he will continue to appear throughout. What fun…he’s a bit creepy. Each book can be a standalone, but reading a series is so much more fun! There is no cliffhanger ending. The book ended where the story nicely comes to an end. But you can certainly see how the series can continue from there.

The main characters are well done and have some really great interaction. The storyline is great and I loved the gaming aspect. That should be very popular. The violence is bloody, but it’s shifters so that’s to be expected. And the sex is steamy hot, also to be expected with shifters. I really didn’t expect too much from this when I picked it up to be honest, but it was a very pleasant 4-star surprise. I’m hoping the rest of the series is as good as this first book. The author is quite prolific and has other series going. I reviewed a book from one of her other series a couple of weeks ago, Jaxson from her River Pack series. That was also a great read. Check her out and see what else she has that you might like.

Posted in book review

The Bridge Club

tbcPatricia Sands
Self-pub, Oct 2011
Kindle ed, 398 pages, also hardcover, paperback, audible
Genre(s) women’s lit
Source Amazon

Other books by this author: Dreams of Tuscany, Love in Provence series, Soga’s Second Chance, Cooking with Our Characters, Drawing Lessons

Synopsis:
How far would you go to help a close friend? Is there a place where you might draw the line and simply have to say no?

Eight women. Four decades of friendship. One unimaginable request.

Where can you find a story about friendship, laughter and the good things in life that also touches on alcoholism, infidelity, porn addiction, illness, and grief? For many women, it’s often within their own circle of friends. Whether your BFFs are in their twenties or are seniors, everyone has a story.

The Bridge Club reminds us of the complexities of women’s friendships through an entertaining and often moving tale of eight women whose lives intersect once a month initially to play the game of bridge. What began as one night turns into four decades that span the segments of a woman’s journey from youthful optimism to embracing the challenges and opportunities presented in life’s later years.

Based loosely on the author’s own bridge club, the story weaves the reader through a maze of life’s inevitable scenarios.

This is a novel for anyone who values friendship. Not simply the “Hi, how are you?” type of friendship but rather the kind that weathers all sorts of storms, unselfishly celebrates triumphs, and hums along year after year with never an unkind word. It does exist.

If you have such a friendship in your life you will relate to the women in The Bridge Club. If you don’t, perhaps the story will inspire you to search for it.

Throughout the story, each of the characters faces challenges and change in her life. The Bridge Club emphasizes how honest and loyal friendship helped to enable these changes and how these women empowered and learned from each other in the process.

Through laughter, tears, and everything in between the story meets life head on and affirms that building a strong foundation of friendship is a priceless asset.

About the Author:

psauthPatricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France.

Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010 and her second novel, The Promise of Provence was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, a USA Best Book 2013 Finalist and a 2013 Finalist in Literary Fiction, National Indie Excellence Awards. In 2015, eLit Books Silver Award (Literary Fiction) ~ and ~ eLit Books Gold Award (Travel Fiction).

Due to tremendous reader response, The Promise of Provence became Book #1 in the Love In Provence series. Promises To Keep ~ Book #2 was released in Summer 2014. I Promise You This ~ Book #3 was released on May 17, 2016. The series explores a mid-life coming of age and allows readers to lose themselves in the beauty of the south of France without leaving home. Patricia was invited to join the Lake Union imprint (Women’s Fiction) of Amazon Publishing in January 2015.

Celebrating the rewarding friendships and bonds women share, her stories examine the challenges life often throws in our paths. Location features prominently in all of her novels.

Her philosophy is that it’s never too late to begin something new, to seize each day and be a possibilitarian! As the saying goes, just do it! Hearing from readers (both men and women, from ages 20 to 84) is her greatest reward.

My Disclaimer:
I purchased this book at full price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✰✰✰✰✰
As soon as I finished this book, I went back and reread the first chapter to see if I had missed something. No, I hadn’t missed it, I simply hadn’t realized how important it was when I read it. The scene is set right there in the very beginning for the ending, and by allowing that to slip my mind, I had let the ending sneak up on me totally unprepared.

This book has definitely gone to my favorites list. I will have to read it several more times in my life. It has a lot to say. These eight women come together in a group to play bridge. Well, they do play bridge, but the group is so much more than that. The women support each other and socialize together over forty years. They know things about each other that no one else knows.

Each of them has a crisis in their life and the book tells how the group helps each woman through the time when it happens. For each of them, it is something different. One of them discovers she is gay, another loses her husband. One woman needs to find her way in a traditional world when she is not a traditional person. Another has to face alcoholism. And still another a husband with an internet porn addiction. Then, in the end, they all come together to help one of their number deal with the ultimate crisis.

How this group of eight women deals with each other and each of these situations is amazing. Some of them have made connections with professionals in their careers that are helpful, one has very strong faith, and they are all there for each other with respect and love.

This book definitely takes a box of tissues and some tea to read. And it must be done in one sitting because you can’t put it down once you start it. I would recommend this as a fabulous book club choice as well. It would be great for discussion in a group. I highly recommend this to women’s lit readers or to any women who like to read about women facing life and the changes or passages of life. No wonder this book got so many award nominations.

 

This review is dedicated to Kathy, Lesley, and Maria with love, respect, and sadness.

Posted in book review

Sawbones

smlA Laura Elliston Novel #1
Melissa Lenhardt
Red Hook Book Apr 2017
Kindle ed, 421 pages, also in paperback and Audible
Genre(s) Historical Romance
Source Author’s rep

Other books in this series: #2 Blood Oath, #3 Badlands

Synopsis:
Wrongfully accused of murder, Dr. Catherine Bennett is destined to hang… unless she can disappear.

With the untamed territory of Colorado as her most likely refuge, she packs her physician’s kit and heads West. But even with a new life and name, a female doctor with a bounty on her head can hide for only so long.

About the Author:
mlMelissa Lenhardt is the author of the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
At Antietam, she’s dressed as a male orderly and assisting her father in the medical tents. An officer with his face brutally sliced open listens to her exhausted chatter while she stitches his face for him since no doctors were available. Nine years later, she meets a man with a facial scar on a different sort of battlefield. He remembers her talk about Aunt Emily and her embroidery lessons. Their recognition is instantaneous. Their rapport is not. But again she is called upon to use her medical skills to save his life as she races to care for him ahead of a coming storm.

That is the first 20% of the book. Captain Kindle spends the next 30% of the book recuperating at the fort under her care while she goes about causing trouble just being herself and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She tries to clean up the place and runs into dishonest people right and left. She causes ruffled feathers with the women of the fort because she’s an attractive woman and she’s interacting with the men, especially with Captain Kindle. She crosses the officer-in-charge’s sister, Harriet MacKenzie, but in the end, they understand each other very well and find common cause.

When Catherine/Laura is kidnapped by a man bent on vengeance, the Captain rises from his sick bed to go after her and save her life. This brings the Army down on them with all its authority. He has deserted his post without authority to do so, and the Army doesn’t take desertion lightly. Even when your post is a sick bed and love is involved.

I really liked this book, but it did have its problems. The situation at the fort was really strange and I would have liked it explained better so that I could have “seen” it better. I felt like I was bumbling around half blind most of the time. I know description isn’t popular these days, but a bit more of it would have helped me. It was frustrating, and it didn’t add to the story for me. Believe me, Laura had enough frustration of her own to deal with.

I felt the characters were well written. They had some great personalities. The people in the wagon train were well-done, especially Catherine’s companion. Harriet MacKenzie was wonderful with her presentation of the typical spinster type and her disapproval of Laura, particularly the way things worked out later on. The wagon train portion was richly portrayed, but the fort part was rather sparse. More details so that it could have been a clearer picture would have helped.

But, like all good romances, it has its HEA. I definitely enjoyed this book. The story of a historical feminist is fun! If I get a chance, I’ll certainly try another in this series. I suggest you try this one and see how it fits onto your reading shelf.

Posted in book review

Carve Me A Melody

cmamMusic Box Romance, Book 2
Rachelle J. Christensen
Peachwood Press, May 2017
Kindle ed, 431 pages, also in paperback
Genre(s) Historical Romance, WWII, Faith
Source Purchased

Other books in this series: The Soldier’s Bride #1

Synopsis:
World War II has ended but the scars of the war have carved deep grooves in Sophie Wright’s heart. Now a widow with two young children, she returns home to Aspen Falls and meets Leland Halverson, a handsome carpenter who appears interested in her, but afraid of a relationship. Leland wishes he was worthy of the beautiful Sophie, and he adores her two children, but his past still haunts him. Sophie knows that Leland fell apart after his little girl died and his wife left him, but she doesn’t know the real reason why.
Meanwhile, David Alexander, a decorated bomber pilot has returned to Aspen Falls, and Sophie catches his eye. Confused by the two vastly different choices of men, Sophie searches for answers from a heart that has betrayed her before.

When Sophie discovers a message inside a music box that Leland once owned, the pieces start to fit together. The enchanting melody urges her to share the secrets of her heart so that she can understand his. Leland knows the tune from the music box well and if he can find the courage, he’ll carve a melody for Sophie from the solid wood surrounding his heart.

About the Author:
rjcRachelle J. Christensen is a mother of five who writes mystery/suspense and solves the mystery of the missing shoe on a daily basis. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology and a music minor. She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and of course reading.

Rachelle’s first novel, Wrong Number was awarded Outstanding Book of the Year from the League of Utah Writers and was also a 2010 Whitney Finalist. She is also the author of Caller ID and the Rone Award-winning novella with a Timeless Romance Anthology, Fall Collection. Her latest novel kicks off a new wedding planner mystery series, Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things.

Rachelle’s new nonfiction book, What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know: 10 Secrets to Connect Moms & Daughters is co-authored by Connie Sokol. Learn more about this new series at http://www.coachmom.org

Visit http://www.rachellechristensen.com to learn more about upcoming books.

My Disclaimer:
I purchased this book on sale. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
The second book in the Music Box Series, this had a similar feel as the first book. The music box makes its appearance again and works its magic with music and its messages. And some of the names are familiar from the first book, though they are seen from a totally different angle this time. This is a definite romance. Sophie Wright is a war widow. Her husband had died in Pearl Harbor. And she carries a dark secret. Does she dare leave herself open to another love?

Two very different men have their sights on Sophie, but only one of them understands her. And one knows her dark secret. Who will win her heart and her hand?

This story was really good, but it dragged in some places. Sophie agonized over her dark secret a bit too much. The characters were really well done. They had great depth to them and wonderful personalities. Even the children were more than just placeholders. And they had a real role to play in the story and were actually a key element of the story.

The pacing was pretty good for most of the book. Just when Sophie kept obsessing about her dark secret, before we knew what it was, caused the timing to get off. It didn’t add to the suspense after awhile it got to be irritating. Other than that, it was really good. Surprises came when you needed them. Explanations came when you had questions. Laughs when you needed a lift. This is a heartwarming story about life and how it really happens. How people are affected by what others do and say. I highly recommend this book to those of you who love romance and women’s lit, books about real life.

Posted in book review

Ignited

ignitedWhiskey Nights #2
Suzannah Daniels
Self-pub, Dec 2014
Kindle ed, 285 pages, also in paperback
Genre(s) Contemporary Romance
Source Author’s newsletter

Other books in this series: #1 Wasted, #3 Deceived, #4 Betrayed, #5 Seduced

Synopsis:
James “Hawk” Hawkins always knew he’d be a firefighter. At twenty-four years of age, he’s dedicated his entire adulthood to the perilous job of saving lives and extinguishing flames. After a chance encounter, he carries a young woman to safety, but it’s unlike any rescue he’s ever performed. She touches something deep inside of him, not because he finds her attractive, which he does, but because she doesn’t want to be saved. For the first time in his life, he doesn’t need to put out a fire…he needs to start one.

Twenty-year-old Amber Lawson escaped to the small town of Creekview, Tennessee. She was running…fleeing from a tragedy that left her heartbroken and shrouded in despair. Struggling with the desolation that has engulfed her, she tries to start anew, hoping that if she evades the reminders of her past, she can slowly begin to heal.

Hawk is determined to rekindle her passion for life. Along the way, he realizes that’s not the only passion he wants to ignite. With his heart on the line, it could be his most hazardous rescue yet.

About the Author:

sdignitedSuzannah Daniels has had an affinity for words for as long as she can remember. She grew up in North Georgia with four brothers, so she learned at an early age to admire snakes and motorcycles. When she wasn’t pestering her brothers, she could usually be found reading or writing. She is the author of Viking’s Embrace, a historical romance, Perfectly Able, a new adult contemporary romance, the Dangerous Trilogy, a mature young adult contemporary romance trilogy, and Ghostly Encounter, Book One of the Ghostly series, a young adult paranormal romance/adventure. Currently, she lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband and her college-aged daughter. Her son lives nearby. The family pets include a Lab mix, a Basset Hound, a Shih Tzu, and a sweet, little kitty.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s newsletter. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
Imagine you are engaged to a nice guy but his mother doesn’t like you. He’s in a car accident, you’re told he’s dead, and don’t come to the funeral; Mama doesn’t want you there. But she wants you to return your engagement ring because it’s a family heirloom. It’s the only thing you have of him. Everyone is telling you that you need to get over it and get on with your life. This is what Amber had in her head when she and Seren were in an accident.

Hawk and Cade were the first responders. The two guys are firefighters in town and were close by when it happened. Hawk can’t figure out why Amber would say she didn’t want to be saved while he was pulling her out of the wreck.

Hawk tries to help Amber as a friend, but she’s not very open to him. But each time she needs something, he’s there for her with his helping hand and shoulder to lean on. And he’s, of course, one hot-looking fireman. Romance writers don’t write about ugly men very often. So, Amber finds herself being drawn to him and having to fight herself to keep her distance. But you know how well women keep their distance from hot men in romances. So, Amber decides to take him home to her Mom’s for Thanksgiving dinner. As a guest, not a menu item. But there’s a surprise guest at dinner this Thanksgiving and there may not be room at the table for everyone.

This was a good book, but it was a bit depressing to me when Amber would get down and start going on about having to be alone. She wouldn’t take the help that was right there with no strings attached, and it was frustrating to see happen over and over.

It was quite well written. The characters weren’t just run-of-the-mill, they were individuals. Yet, somehow it was all just a bit off for me. Then you had a major jolt near the end and weren’t sure where you were going.

So, romance readers, I recommend this book to you to see how you like it and if you find the same things I did. Perhaps you will understand Amber’s need to stay away from people. And perhaps you will like the turnabout towards the end. Maybe you will see it as a challenge or a test. If you read it or have read it, do let me know what your thoughts are.

Posted in book review

The Razvak Hunter

trhThe Razvak series #1
Arel B. Grant
BZN Writing House, Feb 2016
Kindle ed, 292 pages, also in paperback
Genre(s) Fantasy
Source Author

Other books in this series: Not yet published.

Synopsis:
Before…
Aelwyd has worked hard to become strong. As the Fairest One of Vallenthar, her power is formidable. Years of battle honed her into a fearsome warrior who never falters in front of an enemy.
However, there are shadows that when they come, they can swallow you whole.

After a hundred years of praying against it, the minute she walks into the chilling scene of death in front of her, she knows her personal nightmare is back.
He nearly destroyed her once, but she isn’t a victim anymore. This time, she will stop him, or she will die trying.

Now…
Dalbran knows nothing of friends, joy, or mischief. The orphaned ward of a ruthless warrior woman, she’s never showed him love or affection. Instead, she fills his days with learning the art of battle, savage teachings of how to survive in their harsh world. Days are filled with pain and exhaustion, but nighttime used to be his own. Even that is now lost, though, for something lurks in the shadows of sleep, clawing at him the moment his eyes close. He tells himself it’s okay, that he can handle it. However daunting the voices may be, however cold the hand that chokes him in the darkness, as long as it stays within the nightmare, everything will be all right.

As long as it stays within the nightmare…

About the Author:
abgArel hails from the sunny land of Florida, USA. She struggles with the heat and the social life and washes off the frustrations of it with large (likely unhealthy) doses of J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Anne McCaffrey, T. A. Barrons, and whatever other books she can get her greedy hands in.

She’s been writing since she was a little girl, and proudly declares herself a mythology junkie. She loves Fantasy, Romance, and History and is a big fan of comic books, especially Japanese manga (that’s right, you heard her!). Things would be far easier for Arel if she was not a writer, but hey, who doesn’t like a challenge, right?

You can contact her through her email: abgwriter@gmail.com
Or website: http://www.abgwrites.com

She will answer you (most likely) as soon as she can.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
This is amazing for a debut novel. It is so complex and detailed. The characters are well thought out and interesting. The world is well done and the magic makes sense in it.

There is the confusion of the “then” and “now” that the author uses to tell the story. Switching back and forth can be very effective when telling this type of story and it can be confusing. It can also be both. This time it’s a double header. It really works well to tell the two aspects of the story this way, but initially, it is very confusing. It took me several switches to get comfortable with it. And figuring out who was the common character took me almost three-quarters of the book.

We start out with Rodan, the elf king’s brother and head of the White Knights, and Aelwyd also called Fairest One, who wears the Rose of Vallenthar, a blood ruby which holds great power and is hers for life. We meet a horrid monster who kills all he comes in contact with. And we end up with Dalbran Darod Thord, a strong warrior, and Naviri, the last unicorn.

This is the beginning of an epic fantasy series, I think. The author has set it up so that there are monsters aplenty to conquer. And a whole wide world to see for Dalbran and Naviri.

trhad

Posted in book review

Knights of Stone: Mason

kosmHighland Gargoyles #1
Lisa Carlisle
Self-pub, Jan 2016
Kindle ed, 155 pages, paperback also
Genre(s) urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Source Author’s newsletter

Other books in this series: #2 KOS: Lachlan, #3 KOS: Bryce, #4 Seth, #5 KOS: Calum

Synopsis:
Gargoyles, tree witches, and wolf shifters have divided the Isle of Stone after a great battle twenty-five years ago. When Kayla, a tree witch, hears about the unconventional rock concerts in the gargoyle’s territory, she sneaks from her coven and into their territory to see for herself. Night after night, she returns to see one in particular shift into human form and play guitar at these unconventional shows.

For several nights, Mason has kept watch for the pixie-like female. He plans to seduce her, thinking she’s a visitor from another island. When he discovers she’s one of the tree witches, he retreats, attempting to keep his distance. The temptation is strong but forbidden.

Kayla and Mason attempt to meet in secret, but other elements on the isle command their attention. A magical cloak created by the three clans on the island is thinning, leading to repercussions for all the clans. Kayla and Mason are caught in the middle of it, and their actions may change the fate for all.

This novella was originally released as part of the Highland Shifters paranormal romance boxed set.
18+ due to adult content.

About the Author:
lcUSA Today bestselling author Lisa Carlisle loves stories with dark, brooding heroes and independent heroines. She’s honored to be a multi-published author writing in different genres since she’s wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade. For much of her professional career, she’s written non-fiction — but she’s discovered writing romance is the most fun. Her romances have been named Top Picks at Night Owl Reviews and All Romance Ebooks.

When she was younger, she worked in a variety of jobs, moving to various countries. She backpacked alone through Europe and lived in Paris before returning to the U.S. She owned a bookstore for a few years as she loves to read. She’s now married to a fantastic man, and they have two kids, a cat, and many fish.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book from the author’s newsletter. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
This was a fun read and I’m betting the rest of them are as well. The whole concept is such that it could either be really bloody or really fun. Since this one was fun, that’s what I’m thinking the rest will be. The setting is an island. The magic system seems a bit all encompassing with the three races. The characters develop well, but you really only have these two main ones and some peripherals that come and go.

Kayla was born and raised on the island these magical races call home. There are magical boundaries to keep them apart, but these aren’t too hard to get around for a bored witch. On stage, these huge stone gargoyles come to life for a rock concert and play long into the night. Not ugly little Disney gargoyles, but tall, ripped, gorgeous guys and Mason has caught her eye – five nights in a row. He’s noticed her as well. So what’s a smart, ancient, magical creature do when presented with another magical creature that it’s dangerous to be near? He gets out of there fast, right?

Ha, ha. Yeah. No, not Mason. She petite and pretty and he’s curious. To Kayla, once she gets past how great looking Mason is, the best thing about him is that he’s been off the island and can tell her about what’s out there in the wide world. Do they sit and chit chat all night? Yeah, right. No, they don’t. They do kiss, a little. At first, it’s just a little. Then, of course, they get carried away. This is a paranormal romance here, folks. Should I mention that it’s steamy hot? Yeah, I should.

But they have a serious situation to resolve here, too. Their magical shield over the island is deteriorating and the outside world will find them. The other magical race on the island needs the help of these two races, gargoyles and witches, just to survive. They must get the barriers between races down and help each other. Can these two fight the Witches Council and their friends to bring peace back to their home? Well, pick up the book and find out who loses some friends and who gets turned into a toad!

Posted in book review

One Love, Two Hearts, Three Stories

1l2h3s.jpgA Pride and Prejudice Anthology
J. Dawn King
Quiet Mountain Press, May 2015
Kindle ed, 287 pages, paperback and audible also
Genre(s) historical romance, Jane Austen re-tale
Source Author’s rep

Synopsis:
This is a collection of two novella length stories and one full-length novel.

The Library
What happens when Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are alone in the library at Netherfield Park and they decide to talk instead of ignoring each other? In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the half hour passes without either our hero or our heroine speaking one word to each other. This sweet variation has them breaking their silence. What follows is a conversation filled with confrontation, clarification, and love.

Married!
Fitzwilliam Darcy needs a wife! Elizabeth Bennet needs a husband! What results when two strong-minded, kind-hearted strangers unite in this most sacred state? Will love grow? In this full-length novel, Darcy and Elizabeth are faced with frustrations and blossoming feelings of tenderness. Our favorite couple finally reaches their happily ever after. Or, do they?

Ramsgate
When Miss Georgiana Darcy stumbles upon her beloved George Wickham willingly wrapped in a passionate embrace with someone else, the elopement is off. Running to her new friend, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she involves her in a plan to get help from her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and bring Wickham to justice.

In this novella length story, does Darcy marry Elizabeth? Does Colonel Fitzwilliam find the woman of his dreams? And, what happens to the nefarious Mr. Wickham? Enjoy this alternate path to our favorite couple’s happily ever after.

About the Author:
Joy Dawn King fell in love with Jane Austen’s writings in 2012 and discovered the world of fan fiction shortly after. Intrigued by the many possibilities, she began developing her own story for Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

jdkAt the time she wrote her first novel, “A Father’s Sins”, she was living high in the Andes Mountains of South America. Joy loved to take an occasional break from the Latin culture and bury herself in reading English literature about her favorite English characters. Joy and her husband of 35 years lived next door to their only child, Jennifer, her husband, and twin grandchildren and is a native Oregonian.

In late 2014 the Kings relocated to Oregon where other stories popped into her head. She is typing as fast as she can to keep up.

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a free copy of this book by the author’s representative. I am providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review: ✭✭✭✭
A book with three Jane Austen re-tales in it should keep you busy on a damp and dreary afternoon. Well, it kept me well occupied. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The story lines varied widely from what JA might have written had she thought of these ideas. But the style of the stories was much in her line. I could close my eyes and picture the ladies dressed just the same as every other Elizabeth Bennet I’ve ever seen. And Mr. Darcy was just as starchy and correct. Tea was the solution for every ill and social faux pas. Mr. Bingley still as convivial and in love with the beauteous Jane. The settings and the characters were just as JA had written them. And in each one, Miss Elizabeth Bennet marries her Mr. Darcy.

The first story in the book, The Library, was my favorite of the three. I loved their conversation, the depth and detail in it were much more like a JA. It was fun, lighthearted. And it has stayed with me, while the other two have not. Though the other two were enjoyable, that first story was the one that stuck and plays back in my mind from time to time. Bits of the conversation and the way I picture them there in that room. Her finger stuck in the book to hold her place. And the footman’s complicity at the door.

Yes, this is a good rainy day book you should have on your shelf. By all means, don’t miss The Library.