Leopard’s Blood by Christine Feehan

leopard

#1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan cuts straight to the heart of a man who stalks the shadows in an intoxicating Leopard novel.

Though born into a leopard’s lair in the bayou, Joshua Tregre’s fighting skills were honed in the rainforests of Borneo. Sleek and deadly, he’s the perfect man to take over a crime syndicate back home in Louisiana’s lush swamplands. His razor sharp instincts give him an edge in the violent underworld he knows so well, but even the watchful leopard inside him isn’t prepared for the danger that comes from the girl next door…

She is a woman who can create beauty out of thin air—and out of the ruins of her own life. The games that dangerous men play have taken their toll on her, but she is bent, not broken. And it’s her fierce spirit that’s like a lure to Joshua, a temptation he can’t resist—even if it means bringing his true nature into the light…

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Leopard’s Blood starts with a bang!

The couple meet straight off when Sonia’s leopard goes into heat for the first time, and she calls to her mate, Shadow. This is a change from many of the other books in the Leopard series where the heroine doesn’t shift forms until the latter part of the book. One of the aspects of this series that I really like is seeing the interaction between the two leopards, and the leopards and their respective human partners so it provided more opportunity for this to happen.

Joshua is much more patient and understanding than most of the other Leopard men we have met, which makes sense because he has a reputation as one of the more level-headed guys. He might actually be my favourite hero! Although paranoid about his mate’s security, he is happy to work with her and support her career, rather than trying to get her to stay at home. He also doesn’t mind her having male friends, secure in her commitment to him emotionally, even when she is still on the fence. This is a welcome change from previous couples – not that I dislike the he-man routine, but it helps keep the series from becoming repetitive and one-dimensional.

Throughout my reading of Leopard’s Blood, I was going to give the book a five star review for most of the story, but I decided to drop it down to four. Without giving away too many plot details, a serious altercation occurs which results in Sonia and Joshua’s leopards being furious with each other and although the humans resolve it, the leopards never really appear again, except in fight sequences. It felt like the story was unresolved and a moment I was really looking forward to didn’t happen.

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Beyond the Horizon – a Sons of Templar novel

beyond-the-horizon

From Goodreads: 

Life is counted in tiny breaths, ones that measure the length of your existence. Life stole the ability to make those breaths easy when Lily was nine years old. Turned her quiet. Made her curl into herself, and shut out a world that threatened to bury her under its weight.

The end of her world is what brings him back—her biker. His chocolate eyes pierce her soul while his club tempts her with a life that she didn’t know she could ever have. Especially not when she was clutching the tattered remains of her existence, and with a weight bearing down on her which makes her unfit for the role of Old Lady. Asher changes that. He wants to set about repairing it, repairing her and her broken world. The problem is, even his strong shoulders can’t carry the burden of her sorrow.

Asher doesn’t take no for an answer. She may have given him her heart three years ago, but never in her wildest dreams would she imagine she had possessed his for the same amount of time.

Just when it seems like she may be able to ride off into the horizon, the world isn’t quite finished trying to rob her of breath. Of life.

—                         —                         —

This review was really hard to write. I’ve been sitting on it for months and months. Because Beyond the Horizon was really hard for me to read. Straight up trigger warning here.

The book opens with the heroine on the day of her mother’s funeral. She died from cancer. I don’t think there are many people out there who haven’t had cancer touch their lives in some way. I have lost several family members to cancer and didn’t last five pages before I was bawling my eyes out.

The book in large part comprises Lily’s grief and attempts to get on with life. There are also numerous flashbacks to the years where she is her mother’s primary caregiver. Beyond the Horizon has more heart and is much more of a tear-jerker than any other Sons of Templar MC novel. The story is great but it was so difficult to read that it will probably only ever be a book I can skim in future, rather than properly re-reading.

So if you don’t want to read about cancer or a daughter overcoming her mother’s death, skip ahead to Dauntless. If it is a topic you can handle, read on because you are in for a great story.

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Sweetest Obsession by Ann Mayburn

sweetest

This is a STANDALONE insta-obsession erotic romance set in the Cordova Empire series (no cheating-HEA-no cliffhanger).

Ramon
In my family, there’s an old story going back generations about love at first sight. I used to think it was a fairytale, until I met my sweet Joy. The more I got to know her, the more I wanted her. But the world of the cartels is a dangerous place, so I watched her from afar, wishing things were different and I could claim her for my own. Despite my best efforts to keep her safe, evil found Joy. After she endured a savage beating at the hands of a rival cartel, I vowed to do everything in my power to make her mine and win her heart. I can only pray that when she finds out the truth about me, and the things I’ve done to bind her to me forever, that she’ll be able to love the monster I really am.

Joy
Without a doubt, Ramon Cordova is one of the biggest jerks I’ve ever met. He’s egotistical, bossy, and seems to know how to push all my buttons. Too bad he’s also sinfully handsome, utterly charming when he wants to be, and is the only man I feel safe with. After the attack, I’ve become afraid of the world outside of my home—afraid of crowds, afraid of loud noises, afraid of everything. When I’m in Ramon’s strong arms, those fears melt away. I know there’s a darkness inside of him that he tries to hide, and I’m afraid that when I finally find out the secrets he’s been keeping, he’ll destroy what’s left of my battered heart.

—                         —                         —

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Sweetest Obsession is the second book in the Cordova Empire series. It is an erotic romantic suspense novel that has some dark moments but is not – in my opinion – a dark romance. You can read my review of the first book here.

Oh man, I wish this book was longer! I know I said that with the first as well, so it seems like these books are just going to be shorter than the other series written by Ms. Mayburn, but I love the characters and am a greedy reader so I will probably still say on book three that I want more!

The Cordova Empire books are character-driven, and feature dark, dangerous, honourable men who balance the evil they encounter at work by worshipping their chosen woman. Roman is a freak in the bedroom and a bit of a stalker for the woman he has fallen in love with. Sweet Joy is torn between the role that she wants to assume in life – that of a mother, wife and homemaker – and one that she has been shaped from childhood to assume, one of a professional in the workplace.

Through Joy’s journey, the author explores the meaning of feminism and how it should really stand for a women living the life she dreams for herself, and not assuming certain roles simply because previous generations of women have won the right for her to fill them.

Joy is an extremely forgiving, kind and caring individual who fits right into the Cordova Family. I hope in the next book, the word count will be expanded and also that we will see that heroine interact even more with her new family than our first two heroines have. Each of the characters, especially Roman’s parents and brothers, add new perspectives and depth and I would love to see these relationships expanded upon.

If you are familiar with the author, you will notice that there is a lot less detail regarding the running of the “family business” in this series than in some of her others. For some this will be great, others may see it as a detriment. I don’t particularly care either way, as I just see these books as unfolding of the characters rather that being driven by complex plot points and political intrigue.

D128, the mind control drug that was so key to the plot in book 1 is barely a factor in Sweetest Obsession, so if that turned you off of the first book, I would recommend you still give this one a chance.

Sweetest Obsession is another five star book that whets the appetite for more to come in the Cordova Empire.

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Bound Together by Christine Feehan

bound

The Sea Haven series comes to a climactic end as the mysterious man from Blythe Daniels’ past re-enters her life.

For five years, Viktor Prakenskii has put his life on hold in order to take down the world’s most feared motorcycle club from the inside. But carrying out the insane violence and seeing the club’s exploitation of the innocent has brought his traumatic past roaring back. And there’s only one cure: to see the wife he left behind…

Blythe Daniels thought she’d never see Viktor again after he murdered her stepfather and left without a word. She rebuilt her life without him, becoming a personal trainer and physical therapist…becoming strong enough for others to lean on. But when Viktor comes back to Sea Haven, he’ll make Blythe question everything she thought she knew about good and evil—and the dark desires of the heart…

—                         —                         —

Bound Together is the final chapter of the Sisters of the Heart series as well as the prequel to the Torpedo Ink series that will debut in 2018. It felt like a reunion novel in many ways; so many threads and characters were brought back from previous books in this series, and also from the Drake Sisters series.

There were a TON of expectations for Bound Together. And I think overall that the author did a pretty good job of bringing everything “together”, a task that I can only imagine seemed insurmountable at the start. There were lots of points that I loved in this novel, but there were also a few things that I found myself to be very skeptical of or opposed to. One thing that I’m not even going to touch on further is that there were a few continuity issues between BT and the previous books in the two series, and that the plot line was fairly predictable for anyone familiar with Feehan’s work.

This review is going to have major spoilers, which is one of the reasons I have waited a month to write it. Fair warning…

Ms. Feehan was able to impressively weave together the old characters from the Drake Family and the farm (about 25 people) with Viktor and his MC (another 9 characters on page), plus children they’ve rescued, background peeps from the village and a horde of bad guys. That is a lot of people who need “page time” and distinct voices! No wonder the author was hard-pressed to wrap everything up in one book.

Now, before I sound too critical of her efforts, I want to point out that I think Ms. Feehan did the best anyone could have done considering the massive amount of material to be covered in a minimal number of pages. That being said, I believe that it was more suited to two tomes released back to back as many romance authors have been doing lately (looking at you Ann Mayburn!) or working with the publisher to write a book that is much longer than the others in the series.

Now as much as I wanted to meet the MC members who are a part of Torpedo Ink, they should have been left behind to show up in the first book in the next series instead. As it is Ms. Feehan only introduced half and left the others off-page. Their inclusion led me to feel that some of the others didn’t have their stories finished. Lexi in particular, I wanted to catch up with and see her adjustment to Gavriil’s announcement that he wanted to join the outlaw MC!

There is almost no interaction between Viktor and the other Sisters of the Heart throughout all of Bound Together, and there is no interaction between him and their children. Many of those “sisters” are only mentioned in a couple of chapters but Blythe was a strong supporting character in each of their backstories.  I also was desperately anticipating the meeting between (a very pregnant) Joley and the Prakenskii brothers but this is not included in Bound Together which made me feel cheated as a reader.

I don’t want this review to reiterate the entire background of the Torpedo Ink members, but suffice it to say that they have no idea how to interact in society nor do they realize the limits of normal relationships. Fair enough, considering how they were raised, but Blythe fits in a little too easily with them. I understand that forgiveness, compassion and acceptance are her dominant personality traits but she accepted Viktor and co a little too easily in my opinion. She seems to go from literally physically struggling to get away from Viktor to solidly having his back in all situations, and reflecting his exhibitionist tendencies.

Ms. Feehan has continually painted each new hero in her books as the “baddest of the bad”. Well, at some point you reach the ceiling and there is nowhere else to go. She asks the reader to suspend their belief, and accept that each new group is that much more skilled. And I’m not buying it anymore.

In Bound Together, the Torpedo Ink members are described as being more dangerous than any of the other survivors of the program our earlier heroes emerged from. I think Torpedo Ink can be slightly more dangerous in that they don’t even want to try to live within the constraints of normal society, to “fit in”, and that they are totally willing to kill innocent people to protect themselves from perceived danger, a step that none of the others has taken thus far. Perhaps their only redeeming qualities are that children are off limits and that these actions are done out of an all-consuming fear. Fear that one of their own will die or otherwise be taken from them.

But I heartily dispute the idea that these men and two women have skills that far exceed the other Prakenskii brothers (and Aleksandr). They were all “trained” in the same schools. In fact, the point is continually made that the T. Ink crew weren’t trained so much as incarcerated and tortured all their lives, and that they didn’t start running missions until their twenties, compared to the others who had the best training in the world and started running missions as teens.

Who do you really think is going to be more effective? More skilled? More experienced?

Ya, not the new boys on the block.

I also don’t think they would have easily taken to playing with the children, and caring for them, as happens in the end of the book. These are men and women who never had a childhood. They don’t know how to play, or even how to laugh, points that are made repeatedly throughout the story. They are not well-suited to immediately adapt to parental roles, and certainly wouldn’t know how to entertain and play with children of different ages, or know what is age appropriate for each. Viktor is the only one of them who I believe would have a chance, and that is because of his experience with Blythe and that he was the oldest when he was taken, rather than a baby or a toddler.

So these are all the main points that I dispute or had issue with while reading Bound Together. Each is relatively minor overall, but stayed with me after finishing the story, especially when taken together.

That said, I did enjoy the book, and it met many of my expectations, but for the author to expect that one regular-length book could culminate in a thorough and fan-friendly reunion story for 12 previous books and introduce a new cast of characters for the next series is far-fetched and laughable. For what it was, it was good, but I wish the author and publisher had been more flexible, and willing to think outside the box to make Blythe and Viktor’s story fantastic.

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Power Game by Christine Feehan

Power Game is the 13th novel in the Ghostwalker series by Christine Feehan.

Ghostwalkers are physically and psychically enhanced military personnel with some truly amazing powers. This book is about a man from the fourth GW team and the woman of his dreams.

power-game

When members of a United Nations joint security force are taken hostage by radical terrorists in Indonesia, Captain Ezekiel Fortunes is called to lead the rescue team. Part of a classified government experiment, Zeke is a supersoldier with enhanced abilities. He can see better and run faster than the enemy, disappear when necessary and hunt along any terrain. There are those in the world willing to do anything for power like that…

A formidable spy genetically engineered to hide in plain sight, Bellisia rarely meets a man who doesn’t want to control her or kill her. But Zeke is different. His gaze, his touch—they awaken feelings inside her that she never thought possible. He’s the kind of man she could settle down with—if she can keep him alive…

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I feel so lucky to have read this book already! It just came out yesterday and I was able to get it from the library on release day. Thankfully I had today off because I stayed up until 4:30 am reading it! Whoops …

Zeke and Bellisia are super cute together and I love their instant connection. Normally I find it difficult to suspend my disbelief when two characters fall insta-in-love with one another, but part of the idea behind the Ghostwalker program is that each person was “paired” with one another by the same mad scientist (Whitney) who experimented on them. He messed with their pheromones so that they are chemically addicted to the smell of their partner. Add in the other universal gifts such as a superior sense of hearing, and it is no wonder that each couple has fallen in love at first sight … or in this case, first scent.

Power Game felt a little different than the other recent game books. It had the usual military action scenes and political intrigue, but it felt like Ezekiel and Bellisia had a deeper connection than other couples.

There is a moment right after they meet for the first time that she is convinced Ezekiel has betrayed her and is sending her back to the evil scientist who has held her as a captive science experiment her whole life. She is fighting to escape from Ezekiel and his teammates but cannot force herself to kill anyone in order to escape, and specifically cannot bring herself to harm Ezekiel. On that instinctual level, they both knew that they were destined to be together and even knowing that Whitney had paired them together, they didn’t fight the connection.

I loved that this couple had that deep connection right away, and that their relationship started out emotionally, rather than physically. We have been through the normal concerns of a couple who doubt their emotional connection to one another – believing it is just a chemical result of the experiments Whitney conducted – and while that is a completely valid concern, I don’t want to go through that whole thought process with every couple as they fall in love.

I think it would have been better if the author expanded upon the chapter where Bellesia was taken captive by Ezekiel’s team. This was a major point in the book and has happened very rarely in the series, but I felt like it was only brushed over instead of being given the attention it was due. Especially since Ezekiel himself was not the one “locking her down”, but his teammates, and given that they were providing emergency medical treatment to Ezekiel at the same time, there was a lot going on!

***** Spoiler Ahead *****

 

 

Also, FINALLY, Violet got hers. Anyone who reads the Ghostwalker series should remember Violet as the GW who betrayed her sisters and sold them out. She is evil and power hungry and I am so glad she was finally killed.

I loved the newest book in the Ghostwalker series and would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction, military action or romantic suspense.

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