Review – The Queen’s Dance by Jamie Schmidt (@entangledpub, @jamiekswriter)

The Queen's Dance (The Emerging Queens #3)The Queen’s Dance by Jamie K. Schmidt

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This is the third book in the Emerging Queens series and when I looked at the back after finishing it, I was delighted to see that there are definitely several more in the process of coming out. Couldn’t get more than minimal details from Ms. Schmidt (i.e., just got confirmation that they were indeed coming out at some point), but there are like 5-10 more. Can I say SCORE?!

In case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really like the overall premise of the series to begin with (for centuries queens weren’t being born to the dragons, and then in the first book the curse is broken and all the pent-up queens are finally shifting for the first time), and of course there’s chaos as the balance of power begins to dramatically shift.

That isn’t about to change with the most recent entry into the series. This book picks up where the last one ended, with the new queen discovered by Viola being rescued by Remy (son of the Loch Ness, er, dragon). Remy is by nature by and large a loner – he’s a water dragon and has long been looked down on (metaphorically and literally) because he can’t fly. But man, can he swim (it comes in handy in this book).

Margery is sick, or at least badly weakened for much of the book because of the experiences she suffered in the prior book, being locked away from the sun. She clings to Remy to some degree for protection, even naming him as her protector (and of course later calling him a consort to help fend off a certain overly amorous rock singing dragon). The mystery into the creation and distribution of the Smooshie (love the name) dolls which were carrying drugs in the last book. We learn more about that and just why and how Margery was captured.

Margery is a crack reporter, which I really liked about her. Viola and the original heroine weren’t really that prominent in the world. They had good lives, don’t get me wrong, but Margery was definitely a mover and shaker with her investigation (which is what initially got her captured, because she stumbled over the Smooshie thing, and then kept because she turned out to be a Queen). She also isn’t about to let Remy and the other dragons keep her from her chosen calling as a reporter, and even uses that facet of her life multiple times to move the book along, which was great.

Remy – such a sweetheart and man, I loved it when he and Margery finally moved to the next stage and got it on. After a lifetime (and for him that’s centuries) of being disdained just because he can’t fly, he finally shines and lets everyone know that sea dragons are powerful too.

There is so much I want to say about this book but because I don’t want to let loose any spoilers, I can’t! We do get to meet the Loch Ness dragon, which was awesome, along with some secrets that Nessie has in fact been harboring.

The growing world Ms. Schmidt has set up continues to expand, yet she doesn’t abandon earlier characters. Viola and the Book Wyrm make prominent appearances, making it very clear that they might be queens, but the boys certainly aren’t going to keep them from being involved in the world, no matter it might be risky for them to go out and about (darn those pesky horny dragons who want hatchlings of their own).

Now – obviously I liked the book. Why then, you might ask, did I only give this book 4 stars? It’s simple – I feel like the book ended far too abruptly. Maybe it’s a personal taste, but I feel like we get all the information dumped on us (Nessie’s truths, among other things), and then BLAM. No real processing of the information, just Remy and Margery are together and that’s all there is to it. I really wish there had been more, but it was still a fantastic book.

I hope Entangled moves the books of this series forward quickly because I can’t wait to read more!

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Review – A Friendly Flirtation by Christine Warner (@christineswords, @entangledpub)

A Friendly Flirtation (Friends First, #3)A Friendly Flirtation by Christine Warner

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

My goodness, I certainly seem to be running into the ugly duckling trope lately. Either it’s just a fluke or there was a whole slew of them published at around the same time. However, I still enjoyed most of this book.

Allison – Totally and completely a geek with very limited knowledge of how to any of the traditional “make me girly looking” procedures. I totally heart her for that. If my mother hadn’t been a Mary Kay consultant who left me with some lingering memories of how to do things properly, I’d probably be in a similar place as Allison. I liked how she turned to her brother’s friend and asked for his help and even after he turned her down, ultimately accepted his help when he saw how badly she needed it. The only thing I really had a problem with was just how absolutely over the top Nick was when he found out about the growing relationship between the two of them. Still, Allison worked through the issue in an innovative fashion.

Jared – he’s more or less a good guy. He’s understandably concerned about the fallout (rightfully so) given his best friend is also his business partner and Allison’s over-protective older brother. Still, he can’t, won’t, and doesn’t when Allison’s first attempt at a makeover bombs so spectacularly. I really give the man props for stepping in the way he did to help her overcome her makeup challenges.

These two had to figure things out for themselves and I think they both grew nicely as individuals, along with growing into a couple, over the course of the book.

I enjoyed myself thoroughly, which isn’t unusual at all for an Entangled book. They’ve come to be my go-to publisher for both contemporary and paranormal. Hope you enjoy.

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Review – The Millionaire Makeover by Naima Simone (@naima_simone, @entangledpub)

The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction, #2)The Millionaire Makeover by Naima Simone

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

I’m a fan of Ms. Simone’s work and this was a nice entry to her collection. The story takes the popular “ugly duckling” and “best friend’s little sister” tropes and does lovely things with them.

Khloe – I don’t get the impression she was truly ever an “ugly duckling”. I think her head was just buried under a lot of old feelings, including being all but throw out by the first man she ever had sex with. So, understandably she’s not overly thrilled when her very rich best friend buys the very same man for her at a bachelor’s auction, just as she’s hoping to find a way to make her (believed) intended husband notice her finally.

For years, Niall has believed he did the wrong thing by accepting Khloe’s offer in the aftermath of her brother’s death and sleeping with her. When fate (and Khloe’s best friend) meddles, he is finally forced to deal with both his lingering attraction and his guilt over the fate of his friend.

I liked the way these two and their internal hang-ups meshed together over the course of the story. The secondary characters definitely filled out the story and I’d love to see a story with Miss Richy-Rich best friend getting a chance to get her man.

For me, my favorite moment actually came in the form of Khloe’s brother and how he plays a part in the two of them getting together. He might be dead for the entire book, but his presence is felt both in the guilty/loss feelings of those he left behind, but in the love he held for both of them before his passing.

If you haven’t checked out Ms. Simone’s work before, this would be a great place to start.

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Review – A SEAL’s Touch by Tawny Weber (@tawnyweber, @harlequinblaze)

A SEAL's TouchA SEAL’s Touch by Tawny Weber

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

Mmm, one of Tawny Weber’s SEALs and the ugly duckling trope. What could be better?

Answer – not much. I adore Ms. Weber’s SEAL novels and this was definitely no exception. IMO, regardless of accuracies or inaccuracies (which I wouldn’t recognize if one stood up and bit me), she does a great job honoring the brave men and women who serve in our military.

As in most of her Uniformly Hot series, we get to see some familiar faces along with new ones, and it was awesome to see the newly involved SEALs’ women try to hook up The Wizard, whether he wants to be hooked up or not. And of course that’s where Cat comes from – his desperate attempt to avoid being match-made.

Of course it doesn’t go like he expects because Cat has a few surprise of her own, including a smokin’ body and the fact that she cleans up REALLY well. Doesn’t hurt either that she’s crushed on Taylor most of her life. She’s a handywoman who very much wants to take over her father’s (long dead) business, but is having trouble wresting control from her uncle. I like how Ms. Weber resolves this issue in the course of the book.

I like these kind of books. They may involve the military, at least the service men and/or women, but they don’t have a lot of booms and shootings. Taylor is a good man and not an idiot, even if he tries to dodge the fact (like most romance heroes) that he’s actually falling for the girl until he has no choice but to grab her or lose out for all time.

I can’t wait to read more of Ms. Weber’s books, and hope you’ll give it a shot too.

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Review – Bulletproof Badge by Angi Morgan (@angimorganauthr, @hqintrigue)

Bulletproof Badge (Texas Rangers: Elite Troop, #1)Bulletproof Badge by Angi Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

It’s no secret, I like the Harlequin Intrigues. I’ve been reading them since I was 12 years old and the 43 Light Street series was the hottest commodity they had. Angi Morgan’s books blow those old books away.

Good lord, Garrison. Just…stop and think about the implied sexiness – Texas/southern boy, a Ranger, and undercover cop. I needed a fan just from the description of him, and then his actions while in the course of duty, as he fought against the temptation (losing of course) to sleep with his only witness (and for a while suspect), just made me fall in love with him. He’s a truly good man and he literally is willing to sacrifice his life in the end to keep Kenderly alive.

Poor Kenderly. All she’d been trying to do was keep a couple of friends in touch, and then do their hair for a big party, and what happens? She witnesses the execution of the women she’d come to consider as friends, and barely avoids her own execution, only to be dragged onto the run by a man she’s not initially certain is any better than the assassins who killed her friends.

Of course Garrison and Kenderly work through that all the while figuring out just why the women were killed to begin with. This case involved corruption in law enforcement, killers who want to clean up all the loose ends (aka Kenderly), and of course an entire squad of Texas Rangers who refuse to turn on one of their own.

I couldn’t stop reading this book – I even (shhhh) read a few pages occasionally while I was working. Not my proudest moment, but I just had to know how this turned out.

It was oh. So. WORTH IT!

If you’ve never read Angi Morgan, but you like romantic suspense, then you need to read this. If you’re a fan, why HAVEN’T you read this already? What are you waiting for, buy this book! It’s awesome!

Way to go, Ms. Morgan!

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Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire by Sara Humphreys (@authorsara, @sourcebookscasa)

The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire (Dead in the City, #4)The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire by Sara Humphreys

My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

I know I’ve read other books in this series, but I don’t remember enjoying them as much as I did this one.

One of my favorite aspects of this was definitely Trixie – she’s not an ancient, able to do anything and everything, vampire. She’s only been one for 20 or so years, but she’s still tough and ready to rumble with the big boys.

And let’s not leave out hunkalicious Dakota. OMG – the man with his good ol’ boy drawl just about left me needing a fan every time the man opened his mouth.

These two had an interesting problem they needed to solve with respect to a slight overlap with Trixie’s human life. I enjoyed seeing the wider vampire (and other supernatural) world in this book, with the assorted royalty of the different species. And of course, there’s no surprise that I’d absolutely LOVE the species that was introduced in this book – GARGOYLES! I definitely hope the gargoyles get brought in more in subsequent books.

So – definitely check this out.. It’s a worthwhile entry in this series.

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Review – Betting the Bad Boy by Sugar Jamison (@sugarjamison)

Betting the Bad Boy (Destiny, #2)Betting the Bad Boy by Sugar Jamison
My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

Despite the fact that it’s not marked on Goodreads, I do distinctly remember reading the first book in this series, The Bad Boy CEO. I enjoyed the premise, a trio of brothers dragged to their home town which shunned them in their teen years when the closest thing to a parent they have falls ill in the hospital. Even with that book, it was clear three stories were taking place at one time. Bad Boy CEO covered one brother and was good. This one was great and focuses on the oldest brother, Duke.

Duke King is a former jailbird. He was sent there because everyone assumed the worst about him and he’d nearly pounded a fellow teen into the dirt. Said teen was well connected and was also assaulting Duke’s just-recently-broken-up-with girlfriend, Grace (daughter of the local judge). Since getting out of jail, he’s fixed his life up and become the genius artist behind the car design (erm…detailing? not sure of the word here) business.

Grace was devastated ten years ago when Duke dumped her – not understanding it was because he felt it was for her own good (he thought she’d throw her life away for him). What neither knew at that point was that she was pregnant. And now Duke’s come back into her life and has a son he’s never met.

Grace to her credit HAD tried to let Duke know about his son but of course her rotten father (who again was not shown as a very nice guy – see the first book for more issues with this man) had made sure said notices never made it to Duke. But rather than letting her father continue to control her (she didn’t know he’d intercepted the messages), she forged her own life, giving up a lot of material comfort so that she could raise her boy.

I found Duke to be an enjoyable lead – he’s understandably upset to find out he’s got a son he’s never known about. The one aspect to Duke I didn’t enjoy was that it took so very long for him to understand that Grace did not want to just walk away from everything she worked her butt off to accomplish. Yes, he could make it easier on her, and yes he had an obligation to do so. However, it just dragged on for too long (for me) until he figured out why she was fighting him on accepting things from him.

Grace – stubborn but an incredibly strong woman to walk away from an easy life (her father would have paid for college, etc. if she’d just given up the baby). Instead, she’s worked to put herself through nursing school instead of going to be a doctor. She’s raised a (mostly) good son who turns out to be a genius (inherited from Daddy Duke) even though she’d thought he was slow – turns out he was bored in school.

These two souls really needed each other and it takes them a while to figure out how much they really need (and love) the other. I enjoyed seeing Grace’s father get stood up to, and how Duke helped his son develop into a less moody/rebellious young man-in-training.

The other brothers are present, along with alternate points of view on a few scenes that came through in an earlier book, along with hints of what the third brother’s story will be like. I’m looking forward to that in the months to come.

So – yes, this is a bit muddy, but I did really like the book and won’t hesitate to pick up the next.

4 of 5 gargoyles!

Review – Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey (@mstessabailey, @entangledpub)

Boiling Point (Crossing the Line, #3)Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This was a great book, probably my favorite in the Crossing the Line series from Ms. Bailey.

Austin – wow, he’s a gorgeous man who definitely throws himself into his work. I loved the whole “he was a con man redeeming himself” (basically) idea. He’s using his talents for disguises and doing good with it now.

Polly – sweet, driven girl who’s definitely broken some rules, but I get why she became the way she is, and I loved that she’s a female hacker. I mean, c’mon. Ultimate geek (for me), if you put aside the whole “breaking the law” thing.

The growing romance between the two of them went at a very nice pace. I liked how Polly was so drawn to Austin, even when she didn’t recognize him through his disguises…and then once she knew he was likely to be following her in disguise, the ease of picking up on his current outfit was great.

Favorite scene definitely came toward the end of the book when Polly goes home to visit one of her dads and Austin’s dressed as a priest. The imagery of the women flocking around him was great, even though he was dressed as a man of the cloth.

So – all in all, I liked the book and found it refreshing. It didn’t drag and the bad guy got what he deserved (of course). So…check it out! Worth your time, definitely.

Review – Carrying the King’s Pride by Jennifer Hayward (@jenhayward_ #harlequinpresents)

Carrying The King's Pride (Kingdoms & Crowns #1)Carrying The King’s Pride by Jennifer Hayward
My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This was yet another great book from Ms. Hayward.

I loved Sofia. She was strong and dedicated to making her career work, both before she got pregnant and after. She was driven and Ms. Hayward definitely made it clear just why she was so determined to succeed in her life. I liked her chosen career as a designer and how it worked into the life she tried making it after Nik drags her off to his island kingdom.

Nik – a bit of a jerk, but what self-respecting HP hero isn’t? Add in he’s a prince (king), and yeah – there’s a recipe for arrogance right there. I enjoyed watching him grow over the course of the book. I didn’t hold his suspicion against Sofia against him at all. He had very good reason for believing what he did and in the same situation (yeah, I wish), I’d probably have had the same situation, which plays into my reason (below) for not giving this book 5 stars.

There was no super bad-guy, just an ongoing feud with a neighboring island, and that worked for me. Yeah, there was some conflict from it, buuuut hey, it gave Nik the room he needed to grow, so yay conflict!

Overall, a solid entry by Ms. Hayward and I look forward to reading other books in this mini-series. See below for my spoiler-ish issue with the book.

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Review – By Break of Day by ML Buchman (@sourcebookscasa, @mlbuchman)

By Break of Day (The Night Stalkers, #7)By Break of Day by M.L. Buchman
My rating: 5 of 5 gargoyles

I shall, as I all too often do, admit I am a ‘major’ ML Buchman fan. I have been since I read my first SOAR novel (which was, sadly, not the first one in the series – I had to go find that one on my own). I like all of those books, including this one, because there is a certain familiarity to it. The rhythm doesn’t change from book to book. You get to see old familiar faces, get deeper stories on newer faces, and so on. The wonderful insight into military life and technology is simply icing on the cake.

Let’s look at this book (duh). In the past few books, there have been multiple references to the drones SOAR (and the firefighting company that Emily and her man went off to run). This book features Kara Moretti, the actual drone pilot for SOAR. She’s not in a helicopter, but she’s right there along with the helicopters in spirit and vision. Without her drones, their missions don’t go nearly as smoothly, and I LOVED seeing that. I loved that she was blunt and honest. I adored her slow fall for Justin. She didn’t want to be in love with him, wanted to sleep with him sure, but she was just so…New Yorky…I loved seeing the mix of Big City Girl (and Italian to boot) with Big Sky Cowboy.

Justin, a helicopter pilot of the Chinook, not the DAPs we’re so familiar with from other books, was just about as good ol’ boy as you could get. I loved the way Buchman characterized him with his words. I could just hear the country-boy ooze out of him (in my head) as I read.

As I intimated above, there’s a certain rhythm. Hero/heroine dance around getting together, start on it, then at approximately 60-75% through, you have the emergency mission crisis. This book was no different. I knew the crisis was coming, but wow, when it did…I just couldn’t read through it fast enough. It was heartbreaking when Kara had to make a very specific decision and live with the aftermath of it.

Of course everything works out (it’s not a romance if it doesn’t), and Justin and Kara get their HEA. But I wouldn’t trade a single minute reading this book for a more “traditionally” (read here sex, hot and heavy fun and games) flowing romance. ML Buchman is (to me) a god among romance authors.

Please – check this book out. You won’t regret it.

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