Dark Illusion (Dark #29)

43193138._SY475_

At any other time, Julija Brennan would find solace in the quiet of the Sierra Mountains, but now the mage is in the race of her life. Having broken free from her controlling family, Julija’s attempts to warn the Carpathians of the coming threat has failed and put a target on her back—and those who hunt her are close behind…

After centuries locked away in a monastery in the Carpathian Mountains, Isai Florea can’t believe he’s finally found his lifemate—the missing half of his soul. The second he sees Julija his world blazes with color. But despite their explosive connection Julija rebels against what she sees as Isai’s intent to control her and rejects the bond that would prevent him from becoming a monster.

As their unfulfilled bond continues to call to them both, Julija and Isai aim to complete the task that brought them together. They are used to facing danger alone, but now the mage and the ancient warrior must learn how to rely on each other in order to stop a plot that threatens all Carpathians…

—                         —                         —

Dark Illusion is a traditional romance novel that has the slightest elements of BDSM in it. The book is very mainstream, but there are two short spanking scenes in the beginning of the book, while the ancient Carpathian hero and the modern mage heroine are feeling each other out.

One aspect of this romance that I loved is that even though the characters are in insta-lust with each other (destiny and all that), they don’t bond immediately, leading both to feel that the souls were mismatched or damaged. Their hesitancies drew me into the story, made the romance easier to relate to and definitely led to certain humourous moments.

There is quite a bit of conversation regarding lifemates, and whether or not it is fair to expect the women to give up her life when she is claimed, or fair to the Carpathian to allow him to turn vampire or suicide, so that the woman does not need to sacrifice herself. I think this conversation was long overdue and I am glad that Julija had it with several characters, working through her problems with Isai’s expectations. I enjoy a little supernatural romance but for me, it always needs to be grounded with some level of magical realism, and normal human emotions and behaviour.

The remaining sections of the book are devoted to the epic struggle between Carpathian and vampires and evil mages. Battles are fought, betrayals uncovered and through it all Isai and Julija enjoy some sheet-ripping good sex.

I enjoyed the book, although the Carpathian series is the one I like least from this author. Dark Illusion hinted at Elisabeta and Ferro’s upcoming story, and I am very excited to read that one.

Overall, fans of the Carpathian series should enjoy reading Dark Illusion. It should be read in order, as much of the plot will not make sense otherwise.

* * * *

xx

Advertisements

Leah on the Offbeat

k

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

—                          —                          —

Leah on the Offbeat is set in the same universe as award winning book, Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda. It takes place roughly a year following the conclusion of Simon and is told from the perspective of Leah.

Leah and gang are in the twelfth grade and trying to navigate the transition to university, relationship drama and changing friendships.

This book is very high school. I stopped reading it around 15% in, because I couldn’t stand the teenage drama and hysterics. For fans of YA it might be great, but there was so much more drama than in Simon Vs. The Homosapien Agenda, which was already at my limit.

I did not enjoy this book but you may love it if you can overlook juvenile protagonists, maybe it will be a hit for you.

DNF

xx

 

I Will Not Beg (Mountain Masters and Dark Haven #9)

sir ethan

She signed away her freedom…

Starved for affection, young Piper Delaney surrenders her life to a Master. But there is no love—only abuse. She’s told she can’t leave; she signed the slave contract. Years later, beaten and starving, she hears an English Dom say the contract’s illegal. Unenforceable. And she runs.

She reclaims her life and rises above the nightmare that was her past.

But her enslavement left scars. She longs for love, but the only men who truly attract her also terrify her–Dominants. Hoping to conquer her fears, she visits Dark Haven, but the sounds of the club are too much.

When a submissive panics, Sir Ethan steps in.

The powerful English Dom recognizes the shivering submissive in his lap. Years before, he’d corrected her Master’s deceit about a contract. She’s come a long way since then. Cynical at being pursued for his wealth, he finds Piper’s honesty compelling. She’s intelligent, brave…and she needs him. What Dom could resist?

He’s the Dom she’d dreamed about—perceptive, firm, and utterly self-confident.

His voice pulls her from panic attacks. His arms enclose her in safety. He treats her like a person, not something to mistreat. As he helps Piper overcome her fears, she starts to fall in love.

Then her past finds her and destroys…everything.

—                         —                         —

While reading I Will Not Beg, I kept trying to delay the story because I didn’t want the book to end. I guess that is just as much a mark of a good book as one you can’t put down!

Piper and Ethan have a slow burn romance compared to many of the couples in Ms. Sinclair’s books, which was necessary due to the heroine’s backstory. There is no sex until about halfway through the book. Ethan is extremely patient and forgiving, more so even than many of the previous Doms Ms. Sinclair has written about. I swear he is a saint. Just a saint with a penchant for kinky sex.

Piper is very brave to have come so far from where she was in the prologue, especially without any family or close friends in her support network and after just five years. She started her own successful business, overcame so much of the abuse, and worked her way out of a homeless shelter.

I loved regular updates on Dixon and Stan through I Will Not Beg. This couple didn’t get their own book, and Stan in particular was a bit of a question mark. If the author ever changes her mind and writes their M/m book, I would read it in a heartbeat.

* * * *

xx

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

simon.jpg

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

—                         —                         —

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a YA book that I have been hearing a lot about the past few years. Last year there was a movie released based off of this bestseller, re-titled Love, Simon. I didn’t realize when I checked out the audiobook that I was reading a book about an LGBTQ character during PRIDE month, but that makes it an extremely timely review to post.

During the course of the book, I became extremely invested in the lives of these characters, including both Simon and his friends. I was constantly guessing as to who “Blue” was. There were a few times I rolled my eyes at some of the more teenager behaviour and drama, but the pace of the book is quick enough that the plot doesn’t become embroiled in high school.

The relationship between Simon and Blue unfolds over the course of half a year. It was sweet to watch friendship and then romance develop, based completely on personality and not looks, cliques, or popularity.

The audiobook is slightly less than 7 hours, awesome for getting through quickly. I was able to listen to the book in two days. The narrator’s voice is smooth and easy to listen to.

I plan to pick up the sequel, Leah on the Offbeat soon, and listening to it as well.

* * * * *

xx

Dark Wolf (Dark #22)

dark wold

In Dark Lycan, Christine Feehan journeyed into the heart of the Carpathians, and into the souls of two lifemates stirred by the flush of passion and the threat of annihilation. In Dark Wolf, the breathtaking story continues as the bonds of family are imperiled, and the fate of two lovers lies hidden in the seductive shadows between life and death.

Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognized the miracle that was Dimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nights. But she was human. Vulnerable. He was Carpathian. Nearly immortal. She was nineteen. He was an ancient. Yet she held half his soul, the light to his darkness. Without her, he would not survive. Caught between the two warring species, Dimitri has spent centuries hunting the undead to keep his people free, and humans safe. He had survived honorably when others had chosen to give up their souls. But now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri found himself alone, and fearing for his life. But salvation was coming…

No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to dare mount a secret rescue operation. A teenage girl. A human of untested abilities. But she had something no one else had. She was predestined for Dimitri—as he was for her. And there was nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true. Whatever the risk.

—                         —                         —

I have been reading the Dark / Carpathian series since I was in the seventh grade. Well over a decade at this point. And I still read it, although its place as number one in my heart has been usurped. Normally I try not to review series out of order on this website. It doesn’t really matter but my OCD disagrees.

Nonetheless, I am way too far into this series to start at the beginning right now, so we are going with #22 instead.

Dark Wolf was a looooong awaited book. It tells the story of Skyler Daratrazanoff, who was introduced as a young teenager much earlier in the series.

I was rooting for Skyler from day one. She is tenacious, brave, resilient and someone you can’t help but cheer on as a fan. Her lifemate, Dimitri is absolutely worthy of her and they are fierce in their defence of each other.

This book takes place in the Carpathian Mountains, at a time when their people – normally isolated and far-spread – have come together. As someone who has read every book in this series, it was a welcome chance to revisit some previous couples that haven’t been seen in awhile.

I love how imaginative this author is. She can create a detailed and multifaceted world in a few short paragraphs. Lycans had already been introduced in the series, but in a very limited capacity. Ms. Feehan made the world so much more vibrant, exploring the world of Lycan politics, military tactics and history, without ever taking away from Skyler and Dimitri’s story.

I definitely recommend Dark Wolf, which is one of those books that stands out for me in a fantastic series. If you are willing to start this series from the beginning with Dark Prince, you will get more out of it, but it isn’t completely necessary.

* * * *

xx

Shadow Warrior (Shadow #4)

shadow

Vittorio Ferraro is a man whose family loyalty knows no bounds. He would die for his siblings and the people they love, but what he really wants is to start a family of his own. Deep down, Vittorio has always known finding a woman who could ride shadows would be nearly impossible—let alone one who could accept his particular needs—and he never expected to find her in the middle of a kidnapping.
Grace Murphy has always been drawn to Vittorio Ferraro—or at least to the billionaire’s public bad-boy persona. Now that she’s under his protection and the sole focus of his intense caring, she can’t help wanting to get as close to him as possible. But Grace knows her presence is putting the entire Ferraro family in danger. Her monster of a brother will never let her go, but Vittorio has no intention of losing the woman whose shadow matches his own.

—                         —                         —

Shadow Warrior is the fourth book in the Shadow Rider series from Christine Feehan. I am a fan of Ms. Feehan so most of her books are auto-buys for me.

Grace and Vittorio have a longer amount of time to build a relationship with each other than any other couple in this world. Grace’s severe injuries and the threatened violence from their enemies lead to most of the romance taking place in an insulated world, behind gated walls. This also means that the physical aspect of their relationship is a bit delayed, and there is no sex until about halfway through the book.

I liked Shadow Warrior but it is my least favourite in the series so far. One of the aspects I like about these books is the sense of community and family that are instilled in them. I found these aspects lacking in Warrior and got pretty bored. IMHO, the pace of the story was much slower. There is also a lot of dialogue between Grace and Vittorio.

Throughout the last book and this one, it is made clear that Vittorio and Grace would be engaged in a Dominant/submissive lifestyle. I was concerned that the author would gloss over this. She doesn’t in their discussions, but their bedroom time is pretty vanilla. I figure Ms. Feehan did this because she writes for a traditional publisher and has many longtime fans who would be disappointed if her books transitioned from romance to erotica. But that in turn disappoints fans like me who want to see characters live up to their reputations.

I would recommend Shadow Warrior for anyone who is interested in supernatural romance or romantic suspense, but I was a little disappointed in this instalment. Hopefully the last two books will be more my style.

* * *

xx

Exquisite Sin (Iron Horse MC #6)

Sin

Lyric
I thought once I finally fled the strict confines of my old church I’d be free. Safe from the demons masquerading as holy men. Unfortunately, there is just as much evil in the real world as my former home, and the demons that want to destroy me are still on the hunt. My hero comes from the most unlikely of places, a knight in black leather who is ready to lay down his life for my own. My church may have called him a sinner who was leading me into damnation, but to me he is my salvation.

Hustler
I’ve spent my life alone, my heart and soul claimed long ago by the Iron Horse MC. My loyalty to them was unquestionable before a certain freckled angel entered my life. Now my devotion to my club is torn between doing what my President wants, and what my woman needs. It kills me that I’m forced to leave her side when she needs me the most, but if I stay with her much longer I’m going to get her killed. Except my absence doesn’t make her any safer. By the time I figure out the true threat comes from within, it’s too late to do anything but pray to a God who turned his back on me long ago for a miracle I don’t deserve.

—                         —                         —

Exquisite Sin is the sixth book in the Iron Horse MC series, and the second of a two part arc featuring Hustler and Lyric.

There was a looong wait for this book! The previous one was released nearly two years ago and fans have been waiting since then for the conclusion to Hustler and Lyric’s love story.

Although the wait was painful (and to my mind unnecessary), Exquisite Sin was well worth it, IMHO.

To begin with, this is a series that should absolutely be read in order.

I loved Exquisite Sin; it is quite possibly my favourite book in this series. There is a good balance of action, love, sex, and world building – although Swan annoyed the heck out of me.

The biggest drawback was the ending of this book. It is very sudden and the book ends with the climactic action scenes. There is almost no let down after this drama. It also means that as a reader, you don’t get to ever see Hustler and Lyric together outside of a crisis situation.

(I strongly believe that the 15 years later epilogue at the end doesn’t count).

One of my favourite quotes came from a new background character, who is lending a shoulder to a heroine in need:

The thought of discussing my relationship concerns with this big, intimidating man had me nervously looking away. “I’m okay.”

“I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all fuckin’ okay, until we’re not okay. Am I right?”

I slumped back against the couch then threw my hands in the air. “I’m fine!”

“Little girl, I got three grown daughters and a wife I’ve been lucky enough to be married to for over twenty-five years. I know when a woman says she’s fine like you just did, it means she’s anything but.”

Mayburn, Ann. Exquisite Sin (Iron Horse MC Book 6) . Honey Mountain Publishing. Kindle Edition.

With the release of this novel, author Ann Mayburn announced that it would conclude the Iron Horse MC series. Talk about disappointing, considering she has introduced us to awesome background characters that deserve their own HEAs! Luckily, she has also teased that we will revisit her MC world with different chapters of the Iron Horse MC, so hopefully those characters we love like Sledge and Hulk will just migrate over there.

I guess this means if you prefer your romance to be fully completed, it is an awesome time to start reading this series though! If it is new to you, pick up Exquisite Trouble first.

* * * *

xx

 

Eli’s Triumph (Reapers MC #6.7)

43208916

Peaches Taylor spent the last seven years slinging drinks and dodging drunks at the Starkwood Saloon. Some might call it a dead end job, but to her it was an investment—another six months, and she’d have enough money to buy the place.

Life would’ve been perfect if Eli hadn’t come home.

Eli King is ready to settle down. He stood by his brothers when they needed him, paying the price for their freedom with his own. Now it’s time to claim his reward—the Starkwood Saloon. He’s got the cash to buy the bar, the skills to run it, and just one person standing between him and his dream: Peaches Taylor.

She’s been driving him crazy since they were kids, and not in the good way. When she was six, she shoved a spider down his pants. When he was ten, he locked her in a closet overnight. Then she hot-wired his car at seventeen, and things got ugly…

They’re adults now, and the Starkwood isn’t a toy to fight over—it’s the hill they’ll die on. No prisoners. No compromises. No mercy.

Peaches Taylor and Eli King are going to war.

—                         —                         —

I read this book in a day. And that was a 14 hour workday for me.

It is amazing!

Unfortunately, it is also short seeing as it is a novella, but the romance feels natural and fulfilled. Peaches and Eli have known each other since childhood and sparks have always flown, their personalities just sort of got in the way.

Eli’s Triumph is a quick and romantic read, and I was surprised by several funny scenes in it. Reading a novella by Joanna Wylde always reminds me how good a writer she really is, since I normally do no like this style.

You do not have to have read the other books in the Reapers MC series to enjoy this story.

I only wish that the author would release a full length novel – it has been years – and get back to the Silver Bastards and Devil’s Jacks MC series as well.

* * * * *

xx

Forever Mine (Tormentor Mine #4)

forever

I fought against fate, and I won. I made a deal with the devil to keep her.

It was supposed to be over. We were meant to be happy.

Too bad my enemies had other plans.

Note: This is the conclusion of Peter & Sara’s story. It is strongly recommended that you read Twist Me and Capture Me trilogies before embarking on this book, as there will be major spoilers for those series.

—                         —                         —

Forever Mine is the fourth book from Peter and Sara’s points of view, and it concludes their story. It begins immediately following the end of book three and it is necessary for you to read those books before this one. It definitely isn’t a series you could pick up and read out of order.

This book picks up the day after Sarah and Peter’s wedding, and sees them settling into married life. It is interesting to see Peter attempting to live a normal civilian life, something he has really never tried before, even as a child.

Of course, nothing can ever be that simple so you know something is going to go wrong.

It does in spectacular fashion.

I was supposed to review this book a couple of weeks ago. I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. But as I mentioned previously, I’ve been in a bit of a stress-induced slump lately, and I felt like the beginning of this book was really slow, so it took me a little while to get through it.

Once things go wrong for Sarah and Peter though, there is sex and explosions and gunshots galore to keep you at the edge of your seat.

Overall, I enjoyed this book but the series lost its momentum as it progressed. IMHO, the first book was amazing, the second great, and the third and fourth pretty good, but they paled in comparison to number one. I think three and four could have easily been combined to make one amazing action-packed story, with some of the slower bits cut out. As it was, I felt that the conclusion to this series was slightly anti-climatic.

It did however tease a tantalizing glimpse of a future character pairing who will be set in this universe. Lord knows I am going to read those books too!

My favourite aspect of Forever Mine is that many fan favourite characters reappeared from previous series. It was a bit of a reunion story. I loved catching up with old friends and boyfriends …. uh… I mean, characters.

* * * *

xx

Twisted Pride (The Camorra Chronicles #3)

42141696

Remo Falcone is beyond redemption. As Capo of the Camorra he rules with a brutal hand over his territory – a territory the Chicago Outfit breached. 

Now Remo is out for retribution.

A wedding is sacred, stealing a bride sacrilegious.

Serafina is the niece of the Boss of the Outfit, and her hand has been promised in marriage for years, but kidnapped in her wedding dress on her way to church by Remo, Serafina quickly realizes that she can’t hope for saving. Yet, even in the hands of the cruelest man she knows, she is determined to cling to her pride, and Remo soon understands that the woman at his mercy might not be as easy to break as he thought.

A ruthless man on a quest to destroy the Outfit by breaking someone they are supposed to protect. A woman intent on bringing a monster to his knees. Two families that will never be the same.

—                         —                         —

This. Book.

I had such a difficult time waiting for it to be released. I ended up reading nonfiction for awhile because every romance left me unsatisfied, and I realized it was because I only wanted to read Twisted Pride.

Thankfully, the book mostly lived up to my expectations : )

It certainly wasn’t how I played out Remo and Fina’s relationship in my head. Fina is dang feisty and I liked how important her relationships were to her. She is brave and proud and extremely loyal.

It was lovely to more intimately know Remo. He has been a secondary character in several books, but he is a difficult character to get a read on. Learning more about him made me admire him more. He may be crazy and capable of great evil, but he is also a family man and amazing with babies. He is an incredibly loyal fucker so long as you never cross him.

Even though I fell in love with both of these characters, I had a difficult time relating to them. Maybe I will feel differently on my second read – this has been known to happen with highly anticipated books – but I felt like some of the heart was missing from Twisted Pride.

It is possible the timeline is why I had trouble relating. The tale takes place over 18 months and nearly all of that time the couple are confrontational, even while falling in love.

The previous book, Twisted Emotions, is going to remain my favourite for a long time I think, but I would still recommend Twisted Pride. It will make far more sense when the series is read in order.

* * *

xx