Taken by the Warriors by Marlee Wray

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First she was taken. Now she will be shared.

After the princess she serves is given as a mate to a powerful Ketturan warrior, Falise soon ends up as an unwilling passenger on a spacecraft headed for a far-off world. More disturbing still, she quickly discovers that as far as her captors are concerned, her body no longer belongs to her.

As the princess is stripped bare and claimed roughly by the ship’s captain, four of his companions set their eyes on Falise. The brutishly handsome barbarians plan to share her and use her in every manner possible, but first they must train her. She will learn to obey without question and take everything they give her or she will be punished in ways more shameful than she could have ever imagined. But when the journey is over, will she still want to return home?

Publisher’s Note: Taken by the Warriors is a stand-alone book which is the second entry in the Owned and Shared series. It includes spankings and sexual scenes.

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This book is much kinkier and more hardcore than the previous book in this “series”, Owning Their Pet. I was surprised by the very different vibe. The author introduces a second alien race, different from the one introduced in Owning. A Princess is forced to marry their leader as part of a trade agreement, and she is abducted by them before the marriage takes place.

The book follows the trials of the Princess and her handmaid, Falise, and is told from both their points of view, as well as two male points of view. There are scenes of dubious consent and vaginal and anal “trains”.

I hate to refer to erotica as “book porn”. I hate that term but it fits this story, IMHO. Taken by the Warriors didn’t have a love story – at least for me – and was such raunchy scene after raunchy scene. The plot barely served to explain the move from one sexcapade to another.

I found it difficult to keep track of the varying characters and the constant changes in the POV character. Overall, it almost felt like a completely different author than the one I had just read.

I will read the third announced book, but I am hoping that it is much more similar to Owning Their Pet, or I doubt I will continue with this author. This book was not for me.

*Please note that while I am referring to these two books as being part of a series, they are only loosely connected.

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The Krinar Informant by Charmaine Pauls

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Zavir is a guardian. He’s the best the Krinar has. His assigned vocation is to uncover the Resistance movements popping up around the earth, and eliminate them. New information about a fast-growing Resistance camp sends him to Costa Rica, home of the largest Krinar Centre. His informant is a human girl. She wants to make a deal–her traitorous family’s lives in exchange for information–but Zavir doesn’t make deals, and he takes no prisoners. When the time comes to wipe out the secret organization, his pretty, innocent little mole will learn the truth. She made a deal with the devil, and the price is something far more tantalizing than information.

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I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second Krinar novel I have read by Charmaine Pauls. I am so grateful to have received an ARC because I loved this book just as much as I did the first one.

Zivar feels a little darker and more removed from humankind than his alien kin we have met in earlier novels. He and Liv don’t exactly engage in purposeful BDSM play, but he is definitely dominant and expects Liv to be submissive to him. He also firmly believes in punishments when she breaks his rules.

Liv is a fierce heroine who I enjoyed getting to know and would love to read more about in the future. She is kind, brave, loving and protective of her loved ones. This is one couple I would love to read more about one day.

This book definitely belongs in the romance section, but there is also enough science fiction and intrigue to draw in readers from other genres. I would definitely recommend this book to others who don’t mind a little kink with their love story!

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Shadow Keeper (Shadow Riders #3)

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One family brings its own brand of justice to the streets of Chicago’s shadowy underworld as #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan returns to a series hot enough to burn…

The paparazzi can’t get enough of infamous bad boy Giovanni Ferraro. But unknown to them–and the women he beds–he’s just playing a role. Keeping the spotlight on himself keeps it off the family business. And if this lethal shadow rider can’t hunt in the dark, he’ll find his pleasure elsewhere…

Sasha Provis grew up on a Wyoming ranch and thought she knew how to protect herself from predators. But in the nightclub where she works, she’s fair game–until one of the owners steps in to protect her. Giovanni is gorgeous. He’s dangerous. And his every touch takes her breath away.

The devil at her heels may have finally met its match…

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Boy oh boy, does Giovanni ever mess up at the beginning of this book! I understand why he makes up the little game that he does. It would be incredibly hard to trust anyone who wasn’t family, with the position that he is in, and the work Shadow Riders do requires them to keep a public persona to distract from the family’s true work.

But it does not do him any favours with Sasha!

There is a lot of heart in Shadow Keeper. Both Sasha and Gee make sacrifices for each other, which I thought was heart-warming and a true example of how good relationships work. Sasha is facing the loss of her last remaining family remember due to illness, and there were scenes between them that brought me to tears.

This plot was very suspenseful but I found that it was also a tad predictable. I knew who the villain was long before the hero/ine figured it out, which was annoying … not only because I had to wait for the plot to catch up, but also because the premise of the Ferraro family is that they are world class investigators.

Overall, I enjoyed Shadow Keeper quite a bit but so far, nothing in this series has lived up to book one, Shadow Rider. I did find that the tidbits we got about Emme/Valentino, Vittorio, and Taviano/Nicoletta really served to get me incredibly excited about their books coming up.  Right now, the Shadow Rider and Torpedo Ink series are tied for my two favourite series and I wish there wasn’t such a long wait before new releases in each one!

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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.

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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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Star Wars: the force awakens – a review

Warning: This post does contain spoilers from the movie.

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I have mixed feelings about this film. I loved, loved, loved the first half to three quarters. The Force Awakens is fast-paced but I could feel a connection to the characters. It has a very old-school feel; it is styled after the first trilogy which is pretty much universally recognized as better.

In some ways, it almost felt like a reboot of the original movies. Fiftyish years on, the story is the same but the costumes and special effects are incalculably better. In The Force Awakens, I didn’t come out of the movie-verse to think on the special effects as characters go hurtling through space because in the moment, I forgot that wasn’t real. That a camera-man wasn’t hanging out in a spacesuit picking it up. Those are some good special effects.

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The issues with the movie, in my opinion, were very small. Certainly The Force Awakens is a successful return to a series that is much beloved. It is awesome that whole new generations are being brought into this universe and Disney did a great job with a project that came along with so many expectations. So did the actors. Both new and known to Star Wars.

** Here is where the spoilers really start. **

My problem is that I knew who the new Dark Lord was the whole time. Pretty much. Okay, so I know that in the book/comic book world, Luke Skywalker struggles with the balance between the Light and the Dark. I also know that Leia and Luke’s son does cross over the Dark side. So the whole time, I was expecting it to be one of those two characters.

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Luke has a very dark intensity. I’d believe his turn to the Dark side

I have to admit, I was hoping for it to be Luke. And it made sense with the plot-line, because the bad guys were trying so hard to prevent the Rebel Alliance from getting the map that lead to Luke. There was no clear admittance that they needed the map to find him themselves, just that the rebels couldn’t get a hold of it. Clearly Luke could tell from the Force that bad things were happening, and several planet systems had been incinerated. But he didn’t return.

These circumstances made me hope that the new Dark One was Luke and that he was desperately trying to control the map so no one followed it to him, before he was ready to declare himself.

Alas, I was mistaken.

My second choice was accurate. But I didn’t love him as the bad guy. Throughout the movie, his loyalties waver as he struggles with the call of the Light. You see it in his prayers to his Grandfather, Darth Vader, and in his relatively gentle treatment towards Rey. He seems to have a crush on her and is trying to persuade her to join him, much as Anakin felt towards Padme in the end.

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*Minor interlude. In the end Darth Vader returned to the Light. He died saving his children and the universe from the Sith Lord. Surely Kylo Ren knows the true story of his Grandfather’s end. So it didn’t make any sense to me that he prayed to him to give him the strength of the Dark, no matter what else Vader had done.

 

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Ok, back to what I was saying.

The problem is, I just didn’t buy Kylo Ren as a such a major character. I would have preferred that he had rare shining moments of good intermittent in his overwhelmingly evil activities. But the only true evil he committed was killing his father, Han Solo. (I was temporarily inconsolable by the way). Instead he was written as more of a middle-ground character.

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If you are a regular reader of Mackenzie’s Mountain, then you know I love it when the writer takes a character who is seemingly past the point of redemption and then has him/her do something that stops the viewer from writing him/her off completely. Like a truly despicable Dark Lord who falls in love with an enemy aligned with the Alliance. But I didn’t get those goosebump-inducing feels.

I also expected him to be over-overwhelmingly handsome, when that mask was finally removed. Fantasy has largely moved past the trope that good guys are handsome and bad guys are not. Look at the Lannisters. However, Star Wars seems to have not, which disappointed.

Another problem I had with The Force Awakens was the power that Rey held. It felt too similar to the Anakin story that has already played out.

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I would have preferred that Rey lost her battles with Kylo Ren, that he let her live for his own purposes, much as he does in the forest when he uses the Force to knock her out and carry her onto the ship. The idea that a completely untrained person could go up and win against such a formidable opponent is a little too unbelievable. It is a one in a billion chance, and one that the Star Wars universe has already done. Not to mention her inauspicious beginnings replicate Anakin’s, right down to living on a desert planet, destitute and more or less a slave to scrappers. It made this movie seem more like a reboot. In less of a ‘yes this is an awesome return to the glory days’ way, and more like they were retelling the same story.

Overall, I loved the first half or so of the movie, as I said. I sat in my seat and giggled because I loved it so much. But all these little plot points and character reveals turned the tide in the second half, and unfortunately, that disappointment is the impression that I was left with when the film ended.

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