#Review: Lovelines by S. Walden

 Lovelines (Wilmington Saga #1)

Author: S. Walden
Publisher: Self-published
Date of Publication: March 25, 2014
Description:

LoveLines finalArrive at work at 7:58 A.M. sharp. Check. Count forty-seven steps to cubicle. Check. Arrange pens in their red-blue-black-green-purple order of importance. Check. Apply hand sanitizer before opening email. Double check.

And that’s just the first few minutes of her work day.

Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.

Enter 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm. He’s more than willing to cope. He finds her habits cute and quirky . . . for now. Reece gets the girl, and life coasts along for them until Bailey experiences a devastating blow. Tragedy exacerbates her OCD, and Reece realizes her tics aren’t so cute and quirky anymore. Just like all the others, he has the choice to leave.

But Reece isn’t like all the others.

In the interest of full disclosure, I share a literary agency with Ms. Walden, but my opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by that fact (other than I most likely wouldn’t have read the book without that connection, and that would have been sad for me).

I liked the book overall. It’s not entirely my style, being a contemporary romance, but I was intrigued by the notion of a character who truly has obsessive compulsive disorder, yet functions somewhat well in the normal world. Bailey was a sweetheart and trying very hard to function in a world when she’s definitely got some wiring wrong in her head. She knows she’s got the problem and she’s doing everything she can to still function. It’s not easy, but she manages.

Reece is intrigued and actually enjoys the way Bailey has her tics. He hurts for her struggles, but wants only to be there for her, not wanting to cure her or even love her in spite of her tics. He’s an incredibly patient man and he needs it to be able to have a life with Bailey.

There were a lot of secondary characters and plot threads. I enjoyed Bailey’s relationship with her fellow OCD sufferer, her father. The mother/Bailey and sister/Bailey relationships were sometimes heart wrenching to read. Bailey’s best friend Erica was a hoot, and I loved the spray-tan business.

Now – few things I didn’t like. I felt that, in the end, Bailey’s practically shrugged off her OCD tendencies. Maybe that’s not what the author intended, for the reader to think she was magically cured, but that’s how I read it. I also didn’t get the point of the secret marriage of a secondary character, and why we needed to read about it. I get introducing a second book in a series, but it just seemed like such a strange disconnect for me.

The book is written in a combination of first person (Bailey), third person (Reece) and omniscient. The omniscient thing really didn’t work for me. I felt like it was head-hopping and I think the author’s going to get slammed for it. I know I would have knocked it, but I actually asked Ms. Walden about it when I came across the first section. Most readers/reviewers aren’t going to do that. Her choice to meander through everybody’s heads was deliberate. I don’t get it, I didn’t like it, but thankfully the section was limited. It in no way ruined my opinion of the book, it just totally yanked me out of the story the few times it happens. It’s just not my cup of tea.

So, in the end, I liked this book and give a 3.5 stars. It probably would have been 4, but I just had too many hesitations about that jarring omniscient POV.

Check out the book. It’s out today!

Book provided by author in exchange for an honest review.

#Review – Savage Secrets by Cristin Harber

Savage Secrets (Titan #4)

Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Date of Publication: February 27, 2014
Description:

SavageWhen the past is impossible to ignore, love may be the only
way to survive.

Caterina Cruz has no home. No loyalties. No objection to exacting torturous revenge. Her life’s mission is to destroy the terrorist who murdered her family. Then she steps into an elaborate game of charades alongside a Titan Group operative posing as an arms dealer—and her newlywed husband. The sexy distraction may be more than she can handle.

Attacked with a psychedelic drug weeks before, Rocco Savage is plagued with hallucinations that threaten his new rank as Titan’s second-in-command. No one knows and he wants to keep it that way. Throwing him further off his game, he now has a wife with her own secrets he can’t crack and an agenda he can’t control.

Their mission—an elaborate deception of heated glances and passionate kisses—spins out of control. With Rocco’s mind already compromised, can he keep his secret and his distance? And with Caterina’s tragic past controlling her every move, can she keep the con up long enough to secure her revenge? Or will both go down in flames?

My Thoughts:

First – anyone who reads this needs to be aware of a trigger event in there. Some might consider this a spoiler, I’m sorry, but I think anyone who wants to read this should be aware that there is a rape in this book played out on the pages in vivid, horrifying color. It fits the story, but it’s there and some people might react to it. I didn’t have a problem reading the scene overall, but I was stunned as I read the brutality. I’m not used to authors being that brave. A big kudos to Ms. Harber for what she puts on the page.

Now, that said, on to the review. I gave this book 5 stars and love it just like I did the other books in the Titan series (I haven’t read the novellas and I think I’ve missed one book). I can’t get enough of this series.

The heroine Caterina has had some pretty bad things happen to her and they have formed the core of who she’s chosen to become. I like that she doesn’t shy away from the fact that she is an interrogator (read here tortures people for information) and isn’t ashamed of what she does/has done. It’s in the name of ultimately avenging her family’s death, and cleaning the blood she feels is on her hands for that death. I like the scars that she carries (not that she has them, mind, but how she deals with them).

Rocco – He’s just as badly damaged in his own way and, again, is not ashamed of what he does for a living. I like his absolute love of Cat’s accent and how just hearing it is enough to turn him on. This is strangely a case where the insta-lust thing didn’t bother me. These two are hot for one another from the first time they meet even though it takes them a bit (not too long) to actually given in to the passion.

These guys are after the terrorist The Dog Killer (the guy comes by the nickname honestly – he was crossed and killed everybody in the family, right down to the family dog) before he can pull of a huge coup and attack Big Ben (or so they think for much of the book). This leads Cat and Rocco to pose as a married couple, where the husband is an influential arms dealer to get close to The Dog Killer (yes, I like the name, heh).

I simply couldn’t put this book down and had to gulp it down as fast as I could turn the pages on my Kindle app. Ms. Harber is superb when it comes to her pacing and her passion. Nor does she shy away from potentially sensitive material (the aforementioned rape), and she allows the rape victim to be severely scarred emotionally by it throughout the rest of the book. There is no instant healing of the victim.

Seriously people, buy this book. It’s worth it (and, for what it’s worth, it pretty much stands on its own even though it’s part of the Titan series).

5 stars without a moment’s hesitation.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Release Day Blast – Summer Walden’s Lovelines!

WaldenToday I’m doing something different – I’m helping a fellow client of Corvisiero Literary with their release day. I have read the book and while it’s not generally my style (no explosions, not historical, and no other-worldly characters), I enjoyed the read. So, let’s learn more about Summer Walden and Lovelines!

Summer Walden

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. She is the USA Today bestselling author of Going Under. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about it.

She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. You can email her at  swaldenauthor@hotmail.com and/or visit her website at  for up-to-date information on her current and upcoming projects.

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Lovelines

LoveLines final

Arrive at work at 7:58 A.M. sharp. Check. Count forty-seven steps to cubicle. Check. Arrange pens in their red-blue-black-green-purple order of importance. Check. Apply hand sanitizer before opening email. Double check.

And that’s just the first few minutes of her work day.

Thirty-one-year-old proofreader Bailey Mitchell is a slave to her tics. She inherited Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder from her father, and it’s done nothing but inhibit her love life. She’s run the gamut of boyfriends—none of them willing or able to cope with her condition.

Enter 32-year-old Reece Powell, her new coworker at Beach Elite Marketing Firm. He’s more than willing to cope. He finds her habits cute and quirky . . . for now. Reece gets the girl, and life coasts along for them until Bailey experiences a devastating blow. Tragedy exacerbates her OCD, and Reece realizes her tics aren’t so cute and quirky anymore. Just like all the others, he has the choice to leave.

But Reece isn’t like all the others.

Teaser

“I think I may have a mild crush on someone in my office,” I confessed to Erica as we climbed into the back of the cab. “And I’ve only had one conversation with him. How ridiculous am I?”

“Oh, really?” she asked, fixing her garish gold earring.

“Well, he’s cute. And personable,” I said. “His name’s Reece.”

“Like the candy?” she asked.

I rolled my eyes. “I can’t believe I said that, too.”

“To him?” she asked, laughing, then muttered, “Sounds like something you’d do.”

“Hey now!”

Erica patted my knee. “You know you can’t date your coworker.”

“I know.”

“You can, however, date one of the many cute college boys we’re about to meet,” she said.

I grunted. “I’ve no desire to date a man ten years younger than I am.”

“Okay. Let me rephrase that: You can sleep with one of the many cute college boys we’re about to meet.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because they’re ten years younger than I am,” I explained. I twisted a strand of hair around my finger and looked out the window.

“We’re just talking sex here, Bailey. We’re not talking about commitment. I know 21-year-old men are stupid. But they can make fun boy toys.”

“Gross. Will you just stop?” I glanced at the cab driver who ignored us.

“How long has it been?” Erica asked softly.

“What?”

“You know . . .” She gave me that look. The raised brows. The pity. The fearful anticipation of a really embarrassing answer.

“I’m not telling you. I don’t need your judgment,” I said.

“Judgment? When have I ever judged you? I fed my kids fish sticks four times this week, okay? No judgment.”

I cracked a smile.

“Go on,” Erica encouraged.

“Aside from that random dude we met three months ago at The Blue Post, there hasn’t been anyone.” I watched Erica’s face carefully. She sat back in her seat and exhaled a long, judgment-filled sigh.

“You’ve had sex once in the last six months?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Once.”

“Once,” I repeated.

“One time. One time in half a year?”

“Yes, Erica.”

“Okay, honey? That’s what married people do who don’t like each other.”

Pre-Order Links:

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#Review – More Than She Expected by Karen Templeton

More than She Expected (Jersey Boys series)

Author: Karen Templeton
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Date of Publication: March 18, 2014
Description:

MoreNeighbor, handyman and… husband? One woman finds her heart’s desire right in her own backyard in award-winning author Karen Templeton’s newest addition to her popular miniseries Jersey Boys!

He’s just a friend! is the mantra pregnant Laurel Kent lives by while pretending not to stare at sexy Tyler Noble, the gorgeous neighbor who’s been all-too-kindly playing Mr. Fix-It in her house. After all, she needs the help more than she cares to admit: her sharp-tongued grandmother is her only family. But it’s getting nearly impossible to ignore the sparks and butterflies she feels in her tummy every time he smiles at her… and that’s not the baby talking!

It’s ironic to Tyler that he’s repairing the fence separating his yard from Laurel’s when all he wants is zero barriers between them! Sure, she’s pregnant, and no, she insists she’s not looking for Husband #2. But he knows if she’d give him a chance, he could prove that he’s the missing piece needed to complete her new family….

My Thoughts:

This will be short. I liked the book. It’s nice to have just a contemporary romance without lots of villains, blood, guts, the occasional fang, and/or animal involved. Laurel was a sweetheart and admittedly gunshy when it came to getting involved with Tyler. I like that he didn’t let her ultimately push him away when things abruptly got tough. I remember the sleepless nights right after baby comes and that is the WORST time for feeling like you’ve got your stuff together.

I didn’t think this was a spectacular book, but for a good beach book or while taking a bath, I think it’s good. Check it out. You probably won’t regret it.

3.5 stars and a note to myself to keep an eye out for others in this series.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#Review: Sex and the Single Vamp by Robin Covington

Sex and the Single Vamp

Author: Robin Covington
Publisher: Entangled/Covet
Date of Publication: March 24, 2014
Description:

VampCici Trent, vampire and media darling, spends her days finding true love for humans and supernaturals (the “Others”) at her dating agency. But someone is trying to sabotage her business and she needs help. Unfortunately, the best man for the job is the one who broke her still-beating heart two hundred fifty-four years ago.

Deacon is a patient vampire. He’s only loved one woman in over three hundred years— CiCi— and she chose another. So when she shows up in his office asking for help, he finally has the chance to lay that demon to rest. He’ll help her, but for a price—a night in his bed.

Adrenaline, mischief, and a little late-night B&E light the passion that even a couple of lifetimes couldn’t put out. But Deacon has a secret and when Cici is suddenly mortal, his deception might be the only way restore her immortality. Can love bridge the gap between a heartbeat and forever?

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book (what a shock, given it’s an Entangled/Covet book, I know…:P So sue me, they write awesome books). I liked seeing the supernatural community out of the closet (again, what a surprise, given my Dream-Walker series), and the interplay between the various species.

Cici and Deacon were explosive together. Deacon’s certainly blunt in what he wants, and he’s wanted it for 2+ centuries. I loved that it was vamp/vamp, not buff ancient vamp/innocent human girl. It’s even better that they have a long-standing relationship of sorts (acquaintances, broken promises, etc.) that’s never quite landed them in the sack until this book. When they do…well worth the wait.

In a book this length sometimes you lose plotline because you have to get the romance in there. I’m happy to report the plot was great. I like the sinister organization out to kill/destroy all non-humans, and I like how it tied into both Cici’s conversion originally and into the modern plotline. There were definitely twists and turns I didn’t see coming which is always refreshing.

There were several secondary characters that I could easily see getting their own books, including Cici’s right-hand person, the Grand Fey Mya. I enjoyed Mya and the easy shapeshifting for her, and that she was absolutely comfortable walking (and interacting) as either a woman or a man.

Given that I clearly enjoyed this book, why am I only giving it 4.5 stars instead of 5? Because I felt that the resolution of something dire that happens at the end (no, I can’t go into more detail than that), is far too close to being a deus ex machina solution. Yes, there were hints as to powers available to one of the secondary character, but I really didn’t like that a potentially devastating incident could (and was) just poofed into being fixed. It just smacked of convenience to me. But others could find it not at all that way. It’s just my feeling.

So – 4.5 stars for me. Enjoyable and I look forward to reading more by Robin Covington in the future.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#Review – The Bridge by Carol Ericson (#bookreview)

The Bridge (Brody Law #1)

Author: Carol Ericson
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Date of PublBridgeication: March 18, 2014
Description:

His past is coming back to haunt him, and only one woman can bring this detective the redemption he needs in Carol Ericson’s new miniseries, Brody Law.

Under the Golden Gate, Elise Duran refused to be a serial killer’s next victim. She was the first of the abducted to survive. And Detective Sean Brody was there to make sure a second chance wouldn’t be necessary.

As the elusive murderer sends them messages, both personal and gruesome, the point becomes clear: no one can escape death. But Sean’s presence can’t be any stronger as he shadows Elise while on the job, proving she couldn’t have asked for a better protector. Though beneath his cool exterior Sean hides a troublesome secret. One that’s absolutely to die.

My Thoughts:

I’m from California originally and I loved day trips down to San Francisco, so I was delighted to see that this book was set in the City by the Bay. Ms. Ericson didn’t disappoint with a thrilling ride from beginning to end.

Elise – she just can’t catch a break, I swear. She narrowly saves herself (and kudos for having a heroine who might’ve gotten kidnapped, but who when push came to shove got herself out of it). The killer of course keeps her firmly in his sights, taunting her non-stop, showing he can get to her, even as he goes on to kill other not-so-fortunate women who don’t manage to save themselves.

Sean – I had to feel bad for the man. He’s determined to live down the image of his father, who’s believed to have been a killer (and a cop to boot), having made it into SFPD, the homicide division. And then the killer in this book targets him, taunting him with little messages, his method of killing eerily similar to the methods used by the killer believed to have been Sean’s father (who was subsequently killed many years earlier).

Sean understandably is very sensitive on the subject of his father and tries to keep the truth of the similarity between the current killings and the old ones quiet, but of course that gets out, as does his relationship to that earlier killer. THat gives Elise some pause, but not for long. The flames flew high and fast between these two and even though they were in pursuit of a killer, I didn’t feel the romance was forced at all, which can be tricky in a category-length romance novel.

I suspect that the Brody Law miniseries will focus on eventually clearing Sean’s father’s name, but I could be wrong on that. Sean of course doesn’t believe his father was capable of the deeds attributed to him, and there’s a lot of evidence which comes to light in the current book to indicate that. However, he’s not cleared, so that’s a lingering plotline that I can’t wait to see more of!

Anyway, check out this book. It’s great for environment – I really felt the San Francisco setting (who can beat the bridges in that city?), and the villain of the book I didn’t see coming. I really enjoy any author that can do that to me!

5 stars!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tory’s Friday Ramblings (3/21/14)

Happy Friday everyone! It’s been a pretty decent week, although once again I’ve been reminded why my husband should never ever be allowed to take days off from work (he’s getting our rental house ready to be shown by the owner who wants to sell it since we’ve handed in our lease notice). It’s EXPENSIVE! He’s had to get paint, a weed-whacker (granted, we needed it for our new house), a ladder (again, something we’ve needed for a long time), and a video game (new MMORPG called Wildstar). Granted, the video game is one he’s been waiting for for like two years, so I can sort of forgive him, it’s just been really expensive this week.

The House

OMG! We have carpets, screens, and glass shower enclosures! I don’t have pictures unfortunately because we’re locked out (that’s good on the one hand, but sucky considering I wanted to photo-document the entire house process). The electricity is on and the a/c is running (according to our future next-door neighbor). The chandelier in the formal dining area is on and it looks purty.

The Kids

Ummm……they’re cute (all three of them)? Hehe – the twins turn 3 tomorrow. I seriously have trouble believing it’s been three years since I relocated the twin bowling balls from tummy to the real world. Here the Shrimpettes are at about 6 or 7 months (maybe even younger than that) followed by pictures of them from this week:

IMG_0007 IMG_0008

Jackie

Sammie

20140315_182836 20140315_182832Sammie

Jackie

Talk about my babies growing up! We’re not doing much for their birthday given they won’t really remember this age anyway and they have enough stuff. I’ve got the makings for a chocolate cake and a candle with a 3 on it.

The Shrimp (aka Garrett) is home on Spring Break this week. He’s really excited about his impending birthday party. At the moment I know of 3 kids that are coming. Hopefully there end up being more than that.

On Writing

Well – I can still say Carved in Stone is moving forward. That’s better than it was. It isn’t going fantabulously, buuuut I’ll take what I can get. I just want to finish Sarah’s book and move on to something/someone else’s story.

On Life

Umm, I don’t have much of a life. Kids, looking forward to the house, and writing. That’s pretty much all I am. Oh, and work. And oddly enough, work and writing crossed paths this week. One of my boss’s clients called her asking for advice on what she needed to do from a legal standpoint (did she need to create an limited liability company to handle the publishing thing, etc). My boss wants no part in that sort of law, so she asked me if I knew of anyone who might be able to advise her client. And of course, my awesome agent Marisa (hehe, I still like saying “my agent”) is a lawyer as well as agent, and I was able to hook my boss up!

Sometimes life is cool.

Conclusion

I’m off to the beginning of my birthday bonanzas! (Shrimpettes this weekend, Shrimp next, hubby the following week – and my mother-in-law was last weekend, but she doesn’t require more than a phone call).

What’s on your schedule for the weekend?

#Review – Dancing with Dragons by Lorenda Christensen (#bookreview)

Dancing with Dragons (DRACIM #2)

Author: Lorenda Christensen
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: March 17, 2014
Description:

DragonIf Carol Jenski knows anything, it’s fashion—and it’s not in fashion to consort with dragons, even though they’ve coexisted with humans since World War III. Still, she would never have agreed to take part in a plot against them. Now a dragon lord has called for her head, her boyfriend is MIA and she’s been abandoned in a foreign country.

Only reporter Daniel Wallent is on Carol’s side…sort of. He offers his assistance if she helps him investigate his latest story. He’ll need Carol’s language skills to infiltrate an organization run by one of the most dangerous and secretive dragons in the world.

Escaping one sociopathic dragon’s claws only to walk into another’s is an insane risk—and so is falling for Daniel. Posing as his blushing—and very affectionate—new bride as cover soon leads to an all-too-real attraction. But fighting off dragons and her desire for Daniel may be more of a challenge than Carol can handle…

My Thoughts:

I reviewed the first book in this series on another blog (under a different name). This woman won a Golden Heart in 2012 with Never Deal With Dragons and I thoroughly agree with the fact that she deserved the Golden Heart. There is fantastic world-building to be found in Ms. Christensen’s books, an interesting explanation for how dragons came to be, and a completely transformed world in the fact of the birth of the dragon race.

This book takes place overlapping the very end of Never Deal. I read that book more than a year ago, so my memory of it is very fuzzy, though as it turned out not quite as fuzzy as I’d thought once I got into reading this book. The book starts out with Caroline in the hospital in the aftermath of an attack which (as it turned out) was one of the climactic final events in the first book, and she’s being looked after by Richard Green (who, SPOILER ALERT!!!, was identified as the major villain from the first book). I was confused, given I remembered Richard being the villain, but as the book continued, his presence here made sense.

Daniel – I was thoroughly prepared to dislike him and was initially expecting him to be the villain (no, I rarely actually remember reading the blurbs before hand or I would have known he was the hero) after his first appearance in the hospital at Carol’s bedside. In the end though, he turned out to be a great guy and really loyal to those he’s working for. Carol definitely gets a good one when she lands him in the end.

This book starts out in Hungary, but the bulk of it is spent in India, which made for a nice break in the American settings of so many of the books I read. Ms. Christensen gave an expansive description of the female dress of Indian women and given how much I love this saris and salwar kameez, it was fantastic to finally get an idea of how intricate the clothes really are.

The dragon lords make for some formidable foes, but Ms. Christensen also shows their very human (pardon the expression) emotions and side with the Indian dragon lord Savitra and the dragon’s fierce loyalty to her mate. That (so to speak) humanizing of the dragons just made me fall in love that much more with this world and its dragons and humans trying to rebuild the world after the human/dragon wars (aka World War III in a form no one ever saw coming).

I dearly hope there will be more books in this series and look forward to finding more by Ms. Christensen in the future (whether or not they’re dragon books). Five thrilled dragon stars for this book!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#Review – Circle of Death by Keri Arthur

Circle of Death (Damask Circle #2)

Author: Keri Arthur
Publisher: Dell
Date of Publication: February 25, 2014 (republished)
Description:

DeathIn one vicious night, Kirby Brown’s world is torn apart. Her best friend is dead, killed by a madman who is now after Kirby, and she has no idea why. When the police prove incapable of protecting Kirby, she has no choice but to trust a mysterious stranger. And while she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him, she fears the strange abilities he wields.

An investigator for the Damask Circle, Doyle Fitzgerald, has come to Melbourne, Australia, to hunt down a killer. What he doesn’t expect to find is a cadre of witches capable of controlling the elements, a sorceress determined to take that power for herself, and a broken woman who is more than she seems. Doyle is certain that the reason behind the bloodshed lies in Kirby’s past—a past she has no wish to remember. Because Doyle isn’t the only one with magic in his soul: Kirby’s special gifts have the strength to destroy the world.

My Thoughts:

 When I started this series, I fully expected it to be very similar to the one that proceeded it (Nikki & Michael) because it featured the Damask Circle again. However, I couldn’t have been more delightfully wrong. This series has new hero/heroines in each book and the plots are very different. While there are connections (through the Damask Circle), those connections are tenuous at most and that opens the series up to go in whatever direction Ms. Arthur wants to take it (or rather wanted to take it since this is a republished series).

Kirby came home to find her long-time best friend and said friend’s significant other brutally murdered. She’s looked at as a potential suspect but also as a potential future victim (assuming she’s not the killer in the first place), but when the police take her to what should be protective housing, one of the cops on duty turns out to be far more than he seemed and only thanks to gut instinct on her part does Kirby escape yet again the gruesome fate in front of her.

Doyle has been sent by the Circle to investigate a series of murders forseen by their seers. They came up with a list of names. Kirby wasn’t originally on that list, but they quickly come to realize that she’s at the very center of the mess he’s investigating.

I have to say I really didn’t know where this book was going to end up, nor many of the secrets that ended up coming to light. I thoroughly enjoyed that fact. I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. Man, oh man, was there a ride here. The relationship between Kirby and Doyle was rocky from the get-go, though as time passed and they hunted for her friend’s killer, they of course grew closer to one another.

I enjoyed the fact that while there was a vampire (Doyle’s fellow Circle investigator), vampires themselves didn’t play a huge role in this book. It makes a nice break from the vampires that have featured so prominent in other works by Ms. Arthur. Doyle is a were and Kirby is a witch (much stronger than she knew up until the beginning of the book).

This is a fantastic book that stands alone, though it does clearly belong in the Damask Circle series. I’m glad I read it and need to get to the third book in the series soon. 4.5 stars!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#Review – Loving Lord Ash by Sally MacKenzie

Loving Lord Ash (Duchess of Love #3)

Author: Sally MacKenzie
Publisher: Zebra
Date of Publication: March 4, 2014
Description:

AshKit, the Marquis of Ashton, is in a sticky wicket. He married young and for love—how naïve. He discovered his mistake the very day of his wedding, but he is saddled now with a wife he’s reluctant to trust. And however much evidence he gathers against faithless Jess, he can’t seem to prove her guilt to the final judge—his foolish heart.

Jessica knows she’s bobbled her marriage, however innocently. A fairytale wedding makes no difference if she hasn’t got the marquis charmed to show for it. Well, she’s had enough of accidental encounters with naked gentlemen and near misses explaining things to her husband. It’s time to buck up and go win her man back—even if she has to fight very dirty indeed.

My Thoughts:

 Sally Mackenzie’s books just make me feel good when I read them. In this series, with the little pieces showing the Duchess of Love with her beloved Drew, it’s like coming home and being wrapped in a nice, warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate. That’s how lovely I find these books.

Loving Lord Ash is no exception to that. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and finding out more about Jess and Kit and how/why they were estranged.

Jess was discovered in a very bad position with a rival/enemy of Kit’s on the day they (she and Kit) got married. This of course left him with very bitter feelings toward her and she never really had the opportunity to clear it up. To make things worse, the keep where he dumps her is run entirely by men (except her maid), and the town has speculated that it’s filled with all her lovers. The truth is decidedly different from the appearance.

I liked how Ms. Mackenzie handled the idea of gay men in this period, given the highly unaccepted viewpoint of that lifestyle that reigned supreme in this era. I also liked that even though they might be that way, the gay men that showed up were in no way “flaming queer” as we might think of them today (my apologies if that phrase is offensive – I don’t know how else to sum the gay-type I’m thinking of), but rather fully fleshed out men who have found themselves attracted to other men.

Without the gay men in her life, Jess might never have found a way (or gotten the push) to reconcile with Kit when he came out to demand (or at least let her know his intentions of getting) a divorce. These two clearly had problems that needed to be worked out and I’m glad they finally found their way back to each other.

The ultimate person responsible for the misunderstanding is handled in a great way. I always enjoy seeing someone get what they deserve.

The only thing dragging this book down for me is the fact that it took eight years before Kit and Jess actually talked to one another about the scene he walked in on. While I acknowledge the characters were very young, I was frustrated at how long it took them to talk, even when they were thrown in together once more. I know it’s a common device to use, the big misunderstanding, but really…I felt this one was an extreme.

That little issue aside, this was a fantastic book and I’m quite looking forward to whatever Ms. Mackenzie comes out with next. Four stars!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.