Awakened by Sin (Crime Lord #4)

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Carmen Pyre had it all until her husband was murdered by a madman who threatened everyone she loved. Now that her husband has been avenged, it’s time to move on… she just doesn’t know how.

Two men who fill her husband’s former roles offer to help her move forward with her life. Should she choose the dangerous new crime lord who will feed her dark cravings or the man who will anchor her and give her the deepest desires of her heart?

WARNING: Dark themes, cliffhanger, books must be read in succession!

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THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!

The first three books of the Crime Lord series were about Lyla and Gavin and this is the first book that is told from Carmen’s POV (her story will be continued in the next book). But hands down, Awakened by Sin is my favourite book in this series by far.

It is different from most romance novels in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the leading lady has two suitors who are vying for her attention, and she is attracted to both (although much more serious about the one). This is not a book with cheating in it, and the relationship(s) are not the focus of the story.

Carmen’s is pretty much the only POV character in the story and she is still grieving the loss of her husband, Vincent. Although it has been nearly three years since he was murdered, Carmen still suffers overwhelming grief and guilt over it and bounces from one obsession to the next, trying to keep her mind occupied. Despite these efforts, she still enters periods of depression and self-destructive behaviour on a regular basis, seeming to display manic-depressive behaviour.

As I mentioned before, the romantic relationship forming between Carmen and her man is not the focus of Awakened by Sin. Of course, it will develop in the next book(s) because it IS a romance, but expect a slower burn with few emotional entanglements at first.

Ms. Knight excels at making her reader feel compassion and empathy for her characters. Carmen is the most relatable so far; her emotions are so honest and human, that it is impossible not to connect to her feeling of loss, even though her life is so far removed from normality.

I read this book in a day and I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on the next. I seriously pray the author will have it available by the end of summer at the latest!

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xx

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Shield (Greenstone Security #2)

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My name’s Rosie and I come from a dynasty of sorts… the Sons of Templar, maybe you’ve heard of them.

I just happen to be the daughter of one of the founding members and am the sister of the current president.

The fact I’m a woman means I don’t wear the patch, but it’ll never change the fact that I’m a Templar by blood.

We’re known as royalty in the outlaw world. Though, the dynasty is dancing on the right side of the law these days.

That doesn’t mean that the law and those who enforce it are friends.
It will remain the one constant in my tumultuous life. The one rule in our law-free existence.

Befriending the law and those that enforce it is a betrayal.

Which means me being one half of a doomed love is that much more comical when he’s a cop.

Or was.

Before I went and ruined it all.

Before he shattered that shield he wore to protect society in order to protect me.

He saved me and I damned him.

I damned myself too, but to be honest, I was damned long before that.

—                         —                         —

This book was NOT for me. I feel like it is a complete departure from the Rosie character that we have known for years. She is essentially a serial killer, even if she only goes after bad guys. She is more than a little crazy – seriously off the rails. I also hate that Luke seemingly gave up everything that he was working to become in order to be with Rosie. It seemed like he was sacrificing his character and morals and also like previous depictions of him are disingenuous.

The author’s writing style in this book is extremely wordy, which is a trend I have complained about in my other reviews of her recent books. I went back and re-read her first book Making the Cut to see if she always wrote like this or if I am becoming more sensitive to it, but I still enjoy her earlier works, so I definitely feel like her writing style has just evolved in a direction I don’t enjoy.

I may or may not be checking out future books from this author, but it won’t be in this series that is for sure. I think I will wait for her books to be available on Kindle Unlimited in the future.

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xx

Judgement Road (Torpedo Ink #1) – Christine Feehan

I was lucky enough to receive an arc from the publisher for Judgement Road, in return for an honest review. This book will be released on January 30th, 2018 and I highly recommend it!

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An outlaw motorcycle club sets up shop next door to Sea Haven in the dangerously sexy new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.

As the enforcer of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club, Reaper lives for riding and fighting. He’s a stone-cold killer who turns his wrath on those who deserve it. Feelings are a weakness he can’t afford–until a gorgeous bartender gets under his skin…

Near Sea Haven, the small town of Caspar has given Anya Rafferty a new lease on life. And she’s desperate to hold on to her job at the biker bar, even if the scariest member of the club seems to have it out for her. But Reaper’s imposing presence and smoldering looks just ratchet up the heat.

Anya’s touch is everything Reaper doesn’t want–and it brands him to the bone. But when her secrets catch up to her, Reaper will have to choose between Anya and his club–his heart and his soul.

—                         —                         —

Judgement Road is the first official book in the Torpedo Ink MC series by Christine Feehan. It builds on the world first introduced in the Sea Haven novels (Drake Sisters and the Sisters of the Heart), but could be read as a standalone if you are not familiar with those series.

Judgement Road is everything Feehanistas have come to expect from the Queen of paranormal romance. There is a wonderful balance of main couple / background characters, action, sex, intrigue and sexy alpha bad boys.

The paranormal aspect of this book was toned way down in comparison to the Drakes and Sisters of the heart, to my surprise. This isn’t a criticism, I just expected more knowing that all of the MC members have “extra gifts”. There is some, but the book reads much more like romantic suspense novel than paranormal romance.

Other reviewers have pointed out that Reaper does something really stupid … like REALLY stupid … and that Anya forgives him too easily. I partially agree. I definitely would have liked for him to have to work harder to earn forgiveness. Ms. Feehan has a habit of letting her tortured heroes reveal their sob-story when they are in deep doodoo with the heroine, playing on her emotions to get themselves out of trouble which borders on emotional abuse in some situations. It definitely isn’t playing fair.

However, one of the strongest attributes these heroines share is their compassion and ability to forgive. If those personality traits weren’t at the forefront of their characters, these women could never take on such a damaged hero in the first place, so I am completely willing to let this point go for now, as long as it doesn’t reoccur in every book going forward.

The sex in this book isn’t overly explicit IMHO. There is definitely steam but I felt that the heat was solidly romance-level rather than erotica.

For Feehan aficionados, I am happy to report that the first chapter of Covert Game (her next book) is in the end of Judgement Road!

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xx

Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands Book 1)

Cherise Sinclair has been my favourite author for the last year or two, especially lately. I stumbled upon Club Shadowlands when she only had four published novels, and burned through those in a week. Ever since, it seems I have been anxiously waiting for the next book. Cherise Sinclair, the Queen of Tease 😉

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Her car disabled during a tropical storm, Jessica Randall discovers the isolated house where she’s sheltering is a private bondage club. At first shocked, she soon becomes aroused watching the interactions between the Doms and their subs. But she’s a professional woman–an accountant–and surely isn’t a submissive…is she?

Master Z hasn’t been so attracted to a woman in years. But the little sub who has wandered into his club intrigues him. She’s intelligent. Reserved. Conservative. After he discovers her interest in BDSM, he can’t resist tying her up and unleashing the passion she hides within.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, strong BDSM theme and content (including/not limited to bondage, caning, restraints, spanking, etc), exhibitionism, voyeurism.

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Club Shadowlands is a fantastic introductory story for someone who is new to erotica, and especially for those who are new to BDSM. I adore Sinclair’s writing style, steamy sex scenes and well thought out plot lines. Things rarely feel contrived or forced in a Cherise Sinclair novel.

Another reason why she is my go-to recommendation for those dipping their toe in to the kink pond is that Sinclair’s books contain informative explanations about bdsm, with healthy relationships that are based on consensual scenes. I asked her once about this on social media and she explained that she tries to introduce a new kink in every book, so I really feel like these books serve as stepping stones into the bdsm community. If you are a newbie, like I was when I discovered Club Shadowlands, you will get a great introduction to different kinks and relationship types, without feeling like you are reading something educational.

Early on in Club Shadowlands, the heroine makes a comparison to her adventure into the club, likening it to a kinky Alice in Wonderland experience which is both hilarious and apt. There are sprinkles of humour throughout although I wouldn’t describe this as a funny book, but I love Jessica’s matter of fact way of looking at the world and her clear, unmuddled emotions.

Club Shadowlands is novella length, but you get updates on the couple throughout the series so it doesn’t feel like they have been short changed at all. Indeed, several of the books in the beginning of this series are shorter, and as the author became more comfortable (and as readers demanded longer tales), they gradually grew in length.

“Z”, the hero of the story and the owner of the bdsm club Jessica stumbles into is a mind-reader, military vet and current psychologist. I adore him and his mind-reading ability is more of a quirky plus in the series, rather than a lead-in two a whole new range of paranormal.

Club Shadowlands is Free on amazon so try it out! There are lots of books out in this series if you decide you love it as much as I do, which I can pretty much guarantee if you like the majority of other books that I blog about.

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xx

 

Exquisite Innocence (Iron Horse MC #5)

Lyric

I’ve spent my entire life on my parent’s isolated religious compound, sheltered and cut off from the rest of the world. It left me ill prepared to face the evil that invaded my home, and after a horrific encounter with demons masquerading as men, I fled. Some might say that my refuge is even worse than the prison I grew up in, but the men and women of the Iron Horse MC have been better to me than my own family. Unfortunately, the trouble I thought I left behind is still hunting me for reasons I don’t understand. Hustler has been assigned to be my guardian, but to my foolish heart he may be the biggest threat of all. Everything inside of me tells me we belong together, that I’ve been put on this earth to be his, but he insists we’ll never be anything more than friends.

Hustler

For as long as I can remember the Iron Horse MC has been my family. I’ve fought, bled, and sacrificed a piece of my soul for my brothers, but I’ve been set up, labeled a traitor by those I trusted most. My only hope comes in the form of a naive young girl I’ve been tasked with protecting, a woman who’s haunted both my heart and dreams. She’s everything good and beautiful in this world, and while I’ll never allow her to tarnish herself by loving me, I’ll do everything I can to make sure she survives.

(This unconventional MC series is one that SHOULD be read in order, starting with Exquisite Trouble).

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Exquisite Innocence is the fifth book in the Iron Horse MC series by Ann Mayburn. Iron Horse is my second favourite MC series and each of the couples in it has a two book arc. Which means that this book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger and the conclusion to Lyric and Hustler’s story will be released at the end of 2017, according to the author’s social media accounts.

This series is multi-faceted. It covers the outlaw MC world, the mafia world, and brings in the world of religious cults in this novel as well. It occurs in the same universe as the Submissive’s Wish series by Mayburn and there is cross-over between the two, something I happen to love.

Lyric and Hustler are super easy to fall in love with, both as individuals and as a couple. They fit well together and come alive on the page. There was a preview to this in the final scenes of the previous books so the character pairing isn’t a surprise, but I like how to the author expanded upon Lyric’s backstory, and showed Hustler’s more serious and dangerous side, which was previously hidden.

You knew it had to exist because he was an Enforcer for an outlaw motorcycle club, but he seems so goofy, chatty and sex-oriented that you forgot to be afraid, or at least that little bit on guard.

There are two main complaints that I had about Exquisite Innocence: that it wasn’t long enough (this is a short novel at about 55,000 words) which is significantly shorter than the other books in this series. And, it has been painfully obvious to me since book one who the “baddie” is, undermining and betraying his club brothers and trying to kidnap the heroines left right and centre. The author confirms in this book but I was greatly hoping that this “suspense” arc would have resolved by now!

Mayburn’s other main series (that I read at least) is the Submissive’s Wish series about Russian Bratva Doms and their beloved subs, and I feel like that series is much more complicated, well-thought out and fulfilling as a reader. I feel like not as much time went into establishing the series arcing plot points in Iron Horse, because let’s be honest. I’m not THAT perceptive and the majority of readers shouldn’t have been able to figure it out so easily.

EI would have been much more enjoyable if I didn’t feel that the author was stringing the reader along, trying to perpetuate the “Chief betrayal storyline” for several books longer than enjoyable. It also annoyed me when I downloaded my pre-order to find that the book was so short. As I mentioned above, it is significantly shorter than previous books in the same series and publication was delayed by a month. It makes me suspicious that the author had to split the book into two last minute (posting the update this summer on her social media accounts) rather than publishing one complete story. Most romance novels I read are more than 100 000 words, most actually push 130 000, so the length of the first half definitely does not necessitate splitting this book into two for me.

Unfortunately these issues took an otherwise great story and dropped it down to three stars, IMHO. Hopefully the next book makes up for it because Lyric and Hustler are a great couple and I want to see them have their time in the sun. I am also intrigued by several other characters and hope to read romance stories for Hulk, Sledge/Marley, and Tom Sokolov before the series concludes!

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xx

Crossfire – Sylvia Day

The Crossfire series by Sylvia Day is a fast-paced, well written, dramatic romance series set in modern day New York City. It will greatly appeal to fans of Fifty Shades, but is considerably more entertaining and better written in my opinion.

The heroine is named Eva and she was raised by her mother and a series of extremely wealthy stepfathers. Her best friend / roommate is Cary, a charming and rising male top-model who is currently dating both a girlfriend and a boyfriend. Eva has serious trust issues, and a tendency to run away from relationship problems and commitments because she was sexually abused for years as a child by an older step-brother.

The hero is billionaire businessman Gideon Cross. He can understand and relate to Eva’s problems because he has a few of his own, after witnessing his father’s suicide as a child, and then being abused by his therapist as a teen. Gideon is ruthless, dominant

Bared to you is the first story in the Crossfire series, followed by reflected in you, and entwined with you, captivated by you, and finally, one with you. This series has been completed and the other does not intend to write anymore about Gideon an hour according to her social media posts so this is a great series to check out if you are tired of constantly waiting for the next book.

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This series has a lot of sex in it,  and a lot of drama between two people used to fucking up their relationships. But despite this, G & E have a soulmate type connection and their love for each other is never in doubt. Day’s writing reminded me of the tale of Odysseus in some ways because Ewa and Gideon have so many trials they must overcome in order to just have each other’s company. Friends, family, and numerous witchy exes all try to keep them apart.

One of the most important aspects of a series for me is the world that is created, and secondary characters are huge factor in this. I love that I quickly grew to care about many of the friends of Gideon and Eva. I cared for Steven and Mark and Trey and Cary and Megumi and Arash and all the rest. I actually hope that a couple of Gideon’s friends have their own books or series one day, particularly Arnoldo or Arash.

I think anyone who has read Crossfire or 50 Shades will inevitably make comparisons between the two series. Both feature a character or two who has been abused as a youth in a sexual manner. Both male heroes are a rich businessmen who are aloof, and difficult to emotionally connect to, though they are highly sexual in nature as well. The heroines are athletics built, smart and educated, new graduates starting out their careers in the field of their choice. But this is where the comparison ends.

Eva is not the wishy-washy, virgin lead that you find in Anastasia. Eva loves sex just as much as Gideon and initiated it as often. The romantic scenes in the Crossfire series are not as kinky. There are no whips, no red room of pain, no sexual contacts. But there is a lot more sex to go with your story. Something I also loved about Eva and Gideon is that there issues don’t magically work themselves out. They go to counselling individually and as a couple because they know they have issues to work through and care enough to do the work so that they will have a stable relationship that will last.

The last book in the series is one with you. I thought that the author was working on another novel until I finished reading it so the series end came as a bit of a surprise to me, even though I mostly feel like it’s a timely end. I feel like today has finished on a strong note and there wasn’t much more to say. That being said, in the last third of this book there is a surprise twist that is very sad and it left me bawling my eyes out into my pillow. I didn’t feel like there was enough time for the reader or the main characters to recover from this plot twist and get over it. At the end of the day this is a romance novel and I like my romances to and happily. I thought this plot twist would have been more appropriate at the beginning of the book or in the previous one. I don’t resent that it happened, but I don’t think it was handled well.

Otherwise, I highly recommend this novel and the whole series to anyone who likes romance. It’s less kinky than my usual fare but still a fantastic read with lots of sex. 

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Xx

Bound Together by Christine Feehan

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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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xx

Reaper’s Stand by Joanna Wylde

Reaper’s Stand is the fourth novel in the Reapers MC novel. Finally the CDA President of the Reapers MC gets a second chance at love ❤

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As Reapers Motorcycle Club president, Reese “Picnic” Hayes has given his entire life to the club. After losing his wife, he knew he’d never love another woman. And with two daughters to raise and a club to manage, that was just fine with him. These days, Reese keeps his relationships free and easy—he definitely doesn’t want to waste his time on a glorified cleaning lady like London Armstrong.

Too bad he’s completely obsessed with her.

Besides running her own business, London’s got her junkie cousin’s daughter to look after—a more reckless than average eighteen-year-old. Sure she’s attracted to the Reapers’ president, but she’s not stupid. Reese Hayes is a criminal and a thug. But when her young cousin gets caught up with a ruthless drug cartel, Reese might be the only man who can help her. Now London has to make the hardest decision of her life—how far will she go to save her family?

—                         —                         —

I loved reading Picnic and London’s story. Although I have loved every book in this series so it was to be expected. Every time I go back and reread this series, I get a little bit more out of it. The first time around, I remember feeling that Mellie’s character was redundant and that all the drama with Jess was annoying and a distraction from the love arc. But the addition of all these young new secondary characters sets up future stories. It also separates this book from the others in the series and keeps things from becoming repetitive.

Pic and London are both a little older than previous couples, although at 38 and 43, they aren’t exactly geriatrics. This life experience – added to the fact they are both parents of adult children – provides each with more perspective, wisdom and ability to overcome the little things … and ahem *not so little things*. Like attempted murder.

Also, Pic is hot for an older guy! I’d definitely date him if I were fortunate enough to take London’s place.

Reaper’s Stand definitely has some unexpected sad parts. I’ll admit that I have been a teensy weensy bit emotional lately, but hearing Picnic talk to his dead wife Heather, and make peace with taking a new old lady, had me in tears multiple times.

Although Heather and London share some characteristics, the comparisons are minimal which kept the book from going into the creepy-zone. However, they both were super feisty ladies. Sorta a necessity when dating the President of your local outlaw motorcycle club!

Case in point… this is from London’s POV.

Thirty minutes later the roast was in the oven and I was setting out frozen rolls to rise. I’d had a second, strictly medicinal shot of vodka, and while I wasn’t exactly buzzed, I was feeling a little more balanced about things. Of course, dumping yellow food colouring in the back of the downstairs toilet tank and pouring vinegar in his milk helped restore that balance . . . I also loosened the lid on the salt shaker. Why did I do these things? Probably best not to examine that too closely.

Wylde, Joanna. Reaper’s Stand (Reapers Motorcycle Club Book 4) (Kindle Locations 1823-1827). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Parts of Reaper’s Stand get pretty dark, especially around chapter 14. Personally, I like “dark” in my stories so it was a fun extension of the story for me, but could push triggers for some readers. Thankfully, all of Wylde’s stories end with a good love story so push through to reach your happy ending.

Bonus:

There were essentially three epilogues at the end of RS and fans get a mighty big update on Hunter and Em’s arc which was glorious!

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xx

 

Fatal Harmony by Anne Malcom

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I may be the villain of the story, but at least I get a leading role.
Evil is a term thrown around history and literature as if it’s something so easily definable. A concept to fight against.
Evil doesn’t exist.
Neither does ‘good.’
Vampires do, though.
I just happen to be one.
I’ve cruised through the centuries managing to avoid all the wars, supernatural and human, but still going to all the best parties.
I would say I avoided bloodshed, but it’s kind of part of the whole ‘vampire’ thing.
I’ve lived on the fringes of a society that considered cruelty and sadism favorable character traits for almost five hundred years. Now I’m in the middle of a war that might just put my nonbeating heart in a lot of danger.
Battles, I can handle.
The impossible attraction between me and the vampire slayer, not to mention the penetrating gaze of the king of our race, on the other hand?
I might not get out undead.

—                    —                     —

Fatal Harmony is the first book in a brand new series by Anne Malcom, who is one of my favourite authors. She normally writes biker romance set in California, so a contemporary fantasy series about vampires, witches, werewolves, demons and slayers is quite the departure. I try to trust authors I’ve been following for a while though, and I always want to support them, so I had this pre-ordered on Amazon as soon as the link went live and read it the day it downloaded to my kindle.

I am so glad I made this decision. Not so glad about the one to stay up reading until 3 am just so I could finish book. Facepalm! I really need to start campaigning my work to provide paid “book days” to staff. I do work in a library after all. It is an expectation that we read and often. Let’s just call them professional development days, shall we?!

First off, Fatal Harmony is FUNNY! I love Isla. She could be my best friend. She always has a quip or a quick one-liner and is heavily influenced by the entertainment industry, one of the things that makes her so different from the rest of the vampire race. She is fashionable, a self-made billionaire and hard-working CEO who is incredibly sarcastic but not in an unkind way. Isla is unassuming. She is one of the best-connected and powerful of all vampires, due to her genealogical lineage and friendships with other otherworldly beings, but spurns the aristocracy and politics of her own race.

Malcom provides a fresh perspective on vampire literature. I am so sick of reading vampires but I love her take on them. They don’t sparkle. And they aren’t “turned” humans.

Vampires are their own race created by the gods in the dawn of time, just like witches and werewolves. And humans. Baby vamps are born to vampire parents and grow up remarkably human-like, until they reach the age of sexual maturity and undergo a transformation into vampirism … much like a second stage of puberty. Every few hundred years, vampire women experience an “awakening” for one year, in which their body basically wakes up and is able to procreate.

Malcom’s world is well thought out. All of her otherwordly explanations make sense to me which is incredibly important because I have a difficult time suspending disbelief while reading. I need to feel that the relationships and rules of a society are “believable” even in fantasy.

Along with the POV character Isla, we also meet a wide range of other characters. Her best friend is a bad-A witch with coven problems and her “not a side-kick” second-class vampire friend (vamp mom, human dad) has hidden depth. The King of the vamps is seriously scary and completely intrigued by our dear Isla, which is even scarier. He is one sexy and powerful potential relationship. I cannot wait to learn more about him in the sequel.

Finally, vampires’ mortal enemies Slayers, are back in town and one in particular has some pretty big secrets. And sex appeal to spare.

Life is gonna be interesting.

Fatal Harmony is the first book in the Vein Chronicles. The second is in progress but no word yet on a release date. Sounds like 2017 though!

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xx

Echoes of Silence – Anne Malcom

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People make love seem complicated. Intricate. Novels try to capture its intensity; music tries to rein in its soul.
I’ve read every novel I could. I’ve lived and breathed every song that I could listen to. The sounds fill my unquiet mind.
Then he came.
Killian.
He brought with him the beauty of silence that echoes through my soul and showed me love isn’t complicated. It’s simple. Beautiful.
Some say love at first sight doesn’t exist, that you can’t find your soul mate at sixteen years old. Those are people rooted in reality, chained to the confines of life that dictates how you are meant to think. Killian broke those chains. He broke everything, shattered it so I can see that reality is overrated, that daydreams can somehow come to life.
My life tumbled into darkness in the time after I met him, so dark I’m not sure I’ll ever see the light again. But he is always at my side. His life means he knows how to navigate the dark and he can lead me out.
I wade through the darkness with him at my side.
We’ll be together forever; I’m certain of that.
Until I’m not.

—                —                   —

Officially, this book is the first in the Unquiet Minds series, but Echoes of Silence is the spin-off to the Sons of Templar MC series, written by Anne Malcom. I’m going to just talk about it as if it is all the same, because it’s just easier, and hey, this is my blog. Malcom wrote this story as a YA novel, which tells the sweet romance between 16yo Lexie and bad boy Killian.

If you are familiar with the Sons of Templar series, Lexie is the daughter of Mia, who was featured in the third novel. She and Killian were so enchanting as secondary characters that they have sparked their own novels. Although I would recommend reading the series in its entirety, Echoes could be read as a stand-alone.

Surprisingly, Echoes of Silence was my favourite novel so far by Malcom! I didn’t expect this because I usually read dark romances (so not YA!) and worried that there would be too much re-telling from Out of the Ashes.

The witty banter that I loved in the mother’s book was still present, but few scenes were retold from a different perspective. Reading Echoes made me realize how much was missed from her story before, and Killian in particular I got to know so much better. He is the son of a deceased club member and has been largely raised by the club since childhood due to maternal neglect.

Another favourite aspect is to see the relationship develop between bubbly, positive Lexie and her step-dad Bull, who barely speaks unless with her. I love seeing new relationships develop in a healthy manner instead of the typical “step family” tropes. Who doesn’t want one big happily, Brady-style family?!

There was one unique aspect that set this book aside from the Sons of Templar series, besides the sexual content: the music.

Lexie’s musicality and her band feature heavily throughout and it a key defining tone of the book, particularly in the conclusion. I love that after the story, the author included a “playlist” because I was trying to mentally keep track while reading to go back and listen to the songs that made such an impact to the characters.

Here is a screenshot of Lexie’s (Malcom’s) play list … and hopefully it isn’t a problem I just copied and pasted this one in.

playlist

I recognize many of the artists on the list, but not all and learned a bunch of great new songs.

Echoes of Silence is the first in a two-part special featuring Killian and Lexie. It does not end happily, but the upside is we get two full novels devoted to an amazing couple! Malcom isn’t making us wait too long either; the follow-up – Skeletons of Us – should be released September 2nd, 2016. She even has the first chapter available on her website.

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xx