Review – The Crystal Slipper by Selena Fulton (#review, #bookreview)

The Crystal SlipperThe Crystal Slipper by Selena Fulton

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

Disclaimer: I’m a friend and former chapter-mate of Ms. Fulton. That in no way influenced my review (other than being my initial reason for picking up the book).

This was a wonderful modern twist on Cinderella, with mixes of Sleeping Beauty in there for color.

Celinda – Classic schlumpy girl turns beautiful, but it wasn’t a change brought about by the hero. In fact, the hero gets slapped down when he abruptly notices her after her physical transformation to the beauty she always has been. Kudos also for letting her be a librarian to boot. hehe.

Preston – Jerk of a guy for ignoring/blowing Celinda off when she’s dressed down and then getting hot and heavy, but kudos to him for realizing it (ultimately). I wasn’t completely enamoured of him even by the end, but he’s a decent man who truly is trying to do his best after having phenomenally screwed up when it came to the affections of his local witch.

Secondary characters – There’s a nice secondary cast to this book including the introduction of the hero/heroine for the second book in Ms. Fulton’s debut series with Entangled. I liked the “wicked” stepmother, though she really wasn’t wicked in the traditional sense. She simply was vain and uninterested in learning about Celinda.

The story was great, with the premise of the hunt for the crystal slipper to break the curse on Preston’s sister. How Celinda got it was cute (a white elephant gift exchange) and I believed the magic as it happened. There really was just a hint of magic in this book, not hot and dramatic vampires or anything else. Just very low key, generally contemporary romance…with a dash of magic to make it paranormal. Exactly what Covet brands itself for being.

As a whole, this was a charming book and I look forward to reading more by Ms. Fulton in the future.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Deconstructing Lila by Shannon Leigh (#review, #bookreview)

Deconstructing LilaDeconstructing Lila by Shannon Leigh

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

This book was another great example of Entangled’s contemporary romance strength.

Lila – great character. I loved that she was into preserving buildings and that she wasn’t going to let someone bully her into not buying/restoring the whorehouse in town. I also really enjoyed the mystery behind just who sent her her ancestor madam’s journal to draw her BACK to her home town after she’d left it so long ago. She also wasn’t going to just pretend her ex didn’t exist. After all, that’s half the reason she comes back to town (not a spoiler because it’s admitted early on).

Jake – Jake, for me was probably a BIT of a weak spot. I think he was something of a jerk for his reason for pushing Lila away. She was still a teenager and he didn’t give her credit, or even a fair chance, to really adjust to the reality that he had to accept while they were together (deliberately being a bit obscure). Still, he’d clearly never gotten over her and it was lovely to see these two finally find their way back into the depths of love.

The secondary story about the brothel madam filled this book out nicely and I liked the mix of modern and journal entries for the past. The villain…well, let’s just say I liked the villain because their motivations were pretty cut and dried, and they were pretty out in the open about the fact that they were trying to interfere in the restoration of the saloon/brothel.

So, anyway, total win for me. Hope to read more set in/around this town soon!
Book came directly from Entangled and I’m sooooo glad to have read it. Five big ol’ gargoyles from me!

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Review – Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

The Vault of DreamersThe Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 gargoyles

I didn’t know what to expect when I read this book, but then as I got into it I sort of have split feelings on it. The story itself was different and despite the lack of in-depth explanations, I somehow knew we were in a futuristic setting. There’s only one place in the entire book where this is confirmed when it gives a date (2060 or so), nor how society got to where it is, but I don’t think an explanation is really necessary.

Some of the strengths I found: despite the danger, Rosie wanted to keep pressing forward to figure out what was going on with the school. For a fifteen year old, that takes guts. Then again, that’s what we expect of our heroines. I liked the idea of dream mining and dream seeding, and the potential for healing that it offered. Some of the explanations of how the seeding could help heal broken minds was wonderful. And the ending…yeah, it’s clearly leading to a second book, but…gaaaah. Gave me the major heebie-jeebies because it would be one of my worst nightmares. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter. I enjoyed the major potential love interest Linus for the most part, though I preferred her school mate (who’s name escapes me) as a potential match for her.

Weaknesses: There’s not a lot of character development. Secondary characters came off a bit flat and uninteresting. The main villain, in the gloating scene, I practically expected him to twirl a mustache and cackle maniacally. And the ending…yes, I said this was a strength, but it’s also a weakness. I like some sense of resolution generally (if not for the series plot, at least for the story plot) and this book definitely didn’t have that. I feel like we are cut off at the half-way point, and that’s not how a book should end (in my opinion).
So – I’d read it, but be aware it may leave you hanging in a not-good way. 3 gargoyles for me!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Once Haunted, Twice Shy by H.P. Mallory (#bookreview, #review)

Once Haunted, Twice Shy (Peyton Clark, #2)Once Haunted, Twice Shy by H.P. Mallory

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

This book had everything that I felt was missing from the first book in the series. The ending, while still a bit abrupt, had much more of a resolution feel to it AND it had a couple of pages post climactic end to wind down. I didn’t feel dumped off a cliff.

Story – it was great. Peyton’s really got her work cut out for her, sharing her body with a ghost while making googly eyes at her general contractor (who doesn’t initially know she’s got a companion with her in her head, which makes for some….interesting conversations).

Romance – Yup, it’s there, both from Drake (the ghost) and Ryan. Of course you know things can’t go forward with Drake, but I found myself actually hoping she could find a way. Of course, I like her with Ryan too.

There was some great information/story revolving around voodoo and I liked the inclusion of Baron Samedi as an actual character in the book. He’s creepy, to say the least. I definitely don’t trust the voodoo priestess that’s introduced and I suspect will have a place in future books.

So, definitely, read this book. You don’t ‘have’ to have read the first, but it will REALLY help you understand how Peyton got herself saddled with a ghostly passenger.

So glad I read this despite not caring for the end of the first book.
Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Mine to Have by Cynthia Eden (#bookreview, #review)

Mine to Have (Mine, #5)Mine to Have by Cynthia Eden

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

Hot hot hot, that’s the best thing to say about Cynthia Eden’s work. I loved these two.

Saxon wants out of the FBI undercover routine he’s been in and has been making plans to do just that, with the help of his “brother”. Unfortunately he has just one more mission, and that goes to heck when Elizabeth Warren is almost killed and he has to take her into protective custody.

Elizabeth’s parents were killed in a car wreck two years ago and she’s never fully gotten over it. She’s trying to move on with her life, but just as she thinks she is, she’s dragged into a bar and learns there’s a hit out on her. The tattooed thug who rescues her isn’t at all the type of man she thought he was, when she learns he’s actual an undercover agent.

To protect herself, she’s put into the witness protection plan and, thanks to Saxon’s brother, she’s shunted to the same location where Saxon has set up his new life so he can protect her. Of course danger follows them and Saxon and Elizabeth have their adrenaline firing on all cylinders (which of course ramps up the sexual heat between them).

This exciting book has all sorts of twists and turns, back-stabbing, and double agents all over the place. The truth of Elizabeth’s past is revealed in an unexpected way and the resolution is completely satisfying. The bad guys deserve everything they get and more, and Elizabeth/Saxon get their highly satisfactory HEA.

I loved the book and highly recommend it. 5 gargoyles! (to see other reviews I’ve done, please visit www.torymichaels.com/blogpage)

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Brushing off the Boss by Annie Seaton (#review, #bookreview)

Brushing Off the Boss (Half Moon Bay #2)Brushing Off the Boss by Annie Seaton

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This was another sweet book from Ms. Seaton. I enjoyed getting to see the hero/heroine from the first Half-Moon Bay book in passing to confirm that they’re still happy with each other.

I think, for me, the most enjoyable part of the book was the complementary artistic styles that Sienna and Jack had, though it took some time for them (or at least her) to realize it. And Jack’s grand gesture at the end…wow. Love the man.

Sienna – she’s had some hard slaps at her handed in her life, but none like what she experiences in this book. From losing her chance to buy the gallery (thanks to Jack) to having to face the mother who’s never done more than ask for money from her…she keeps getting more and more thrust at her. Yet, like a truly strong (without having to be kick-butt) woman, she rises above it and keeps focusing on her goal (her art exhibit), Yes, she’s drawn (and annoyed) by Jack, but she never stops chasing her dream even when she gets temporarily distracted by the bomb her mother lays on her.

Jack – he’s never wanted to be a business man, but he’s good at it for when he’s needed to be. Now, though, he wants to focus on his art and as he tries, he runs into Sienna and learns he can be both business man and artist. She’s incredibly good for him and him for her.

Definitely a lovely read and highly recommendable.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Double Jeopardy by Linda Wisdom (#review, #bookreview)

Double JeopardyDouble Jeopardy by Linda Randall Wisdom

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This was a great book. I did guess who the ultimate villain was, but her reasoning wasn’t what I’d thought it was, so that was awesome.

First – I really REALLY enjoyed the fact that it was the hero that had a stalker, rather than it being the heroine as so often happens. He’s frustrated, getting a little uneasy as the stalker ramps up their obsession, and determined not to just ignore it/hope it goes away.

Ahh, Lauren. Moved to the middle of nowhere to get away from a bad reputation (completely undeserved, thanks to her jerk of an ex) and because she notices Josh, abruptly she’s in the cross-hairs of Josh’s stalker. Still, she doesn’t let that stop her and in fact she throws herself into helping him find the stalker (of course that’s because she doesn’t really want to die and wants Josh).

The romance between these two grows nicely and we have some angst over whether they SHOULD get involved because of the looming stalker issue.

The resolution was completely satisfactory for me and I was rooting for them all the way. The secondary cast of characters was nice and hopefully we’ll see more of them in future books from Ms. Wisdom.

Glad I read it. Four out of five gargoyles for me!

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – The Texan’s Twins by Pamela Britton (#bookreview, review)

The Texan's Twins (Texas Rodeo Barons, #3)The Texan’s Twins by Pamela Britton

My rating: 3 of 5 gargoyles

This had the potential to be a charming little book and I’m always a fan of books where there are twins involved, being a twin mommy myself. However, this one fell a little flat for me.

Part of it was the predictability of the plot. I knew one of the twins was going to end up sick (though kudos to the author for the disease/illness that it ended up being, rather than the one I THOUGHT it was).

I liked Jet’s alternate thoughts regarding Jasmine and her kids. It showed real growth on his part over the course of the book when he came to accept that he was in love with a woman with kids when he’d always shied away from any romances where there were any signs of potential emotional commitment.

Cool to see a female in Jasmine’s line of work.

I wish I could have liked the book more because there were certainly a plethora of great characters, but unfortunately I just didn’t fully fall into the world. I had no trouble walking away from it (both during and after the reading itself). The author’s talented, just not my cup of tea in this case.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – Light Up the Night by M.L. Buchman (#review, #bookreview)

Light Up the Night (The Night Stalkers, #5)Light Up the Night by M.L. Buchman

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

After the last book in the series, I seriously thought the series was at an end, what with Major Beale being pregnant and looking to leave (though thankfully she shows up in the Fire series now out), but with the publication of Light Up The Night, I was happy to discover that was not the case.

First – I’m in awe of the technical knowledge Mr. Buchman has regarding SOAR and the people/equipment that serve in our military. These books pay tribute to the serious responsibilities they have (in this case fighting Somali pirate) and acknowledges that our soldiers are people too.

Now, onto the book itself. Trish, as one of only a very small handful of female SOAR pilots feels like she has a lot to prove, not just to the military, but herself. She lives in eternal awe of Emily Beale. Unfortunately, that leads her to be a little reckless at times and she does get appropriately warned by her SOAR commander and given time to think about whether or not she’s willing to play by SOAR’s rules.

SEAL Bill has spent a long time digging into the Somali pirates but is rescued by Trish when his cover is pretty much blown and he’s about to get killed through some bad intel. He’s not happy about the rescue and lets Trish have it once they land on the carrier even after he realizes she’s a woman and expects to get some flack because he chewed out a woman.

These two both have issues that have to be dealt with and I really respect Bill for his dealing with his mother for so long and then Trish coming along to help him sort out the tragedy of losing his mom.

The romance between these two progresses fairly naturally and with the understandable caution given they are in different branches of the military and likely to be separated for long periods of time should they actually get together. Still, in the end, love finds a way and I’m happy to say these two got the HEA they truly deserved.

Glad to have read it.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review – The Laird by Grace Burrowes (#bookreview, #review)

The Laird (Captive Hearts, #3)The Laird by Grace Burrowes

My rating: 4.5 of 5 gargoyles

As always, I stand in awe of Ms. Burrowes and her talent for coming up with unique and exquisitely delicate ways of dealing with some of the harshest of realities.

This is the third book in the series and it deals with Michael, who served as “the Traitor’s” assistant while he was in France doing what he was doing. Michael hasn’t been home in ten years and he left a wife behind when he fled (in part because he didn’t know how to be a husband). He comes back and finds a strong woman in place of the little girl he wed.

Brenna has suffered hideous fates over her years. Not only was she abandoned by her husband the day after they wed, but the monster who abused her was left to watch over her and Michaels’ keep.

The subplot to this story is learning the true depths of horror that not only Brenna, but many other little children (boys primarily) have suffered at the hands of the monster. For me, there was no more heart-breaking scene, or freeze-frame moment, than when one of Brenna’s brothers follows the monster into a Scottish village and sees toy soldiers abandoned by the doorstep of a house because their owner (a little boy presumably) has been summoned inside…..and the reader is left to draw their own (heart-wrenching) conclusions.

Brenna and MIchael learn about each other as they might have had he not gone away to war and gradually he finds a way to help her heal from the wrongs done her (not just the abuse as a child, but mistreatment/misjudgment as an adult as she tried to tend to Michael’s people in his absence).

The final scene, or rather probably the ultimate in heart-pulling in this book once again comes when dealing with the monster just before his story is resolved. He acknowledges that he’s a monster and seems genuinely to abhor what he does and the fact that he’s not strong enough to stop.

So in short, if you want a book that’s going to tug on all your emotions, this is definitely the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will continue reading Ms. Burrowes’ work with great delight for years to come.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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