Review: Blood Deep (Blackthorn, Book 4) by Lindsay J. Pryor

blood deepReviewed by Sharon S.

Blurb: Blood Deep (Blackthorn #4) by Lindsay J. Pryor

Bad can feel good, Jessie. Bad can feel as good as it can get.

The tattoos covering Eden Reece’s arm tell the tale of a con with an appetite for danger. Even so, arriving at The Circus – the criminal heart of Blackthorn – and demanding an audience with the notorious Pummel, is the sign of a death wish.

Jessie knows that Eden is trouble. Serious trouble. Held captive by Pummel, despite her powers, she also knows how dangerous a game Eden is playing. Yet she can’t ignore a connection far deeper than the physical spark between them – because Jessie has seen Eden before…

Jessie is the only one who can help Eden save those he loves. But as he uncovers her secrets one by one, he can’t ignore the emotions she stirs in him – feelings neither of them dare face. He risks death. If she trusts him, she risks a fate far worse.

As Pummel’s twisted plans become clear, there’s no doubt all hell risks breaking out in Blackthorn. With time running out, together Jessie and Eden might be the only ones that can stop it.

In a thrillingly sensual novel, the stakes in the dark world of Blackthorn just got higher.

I picked this series up at book #3 and was surprised by the emotional intensity and sexual tension, along with some fabulous world building set in a dark world. I was expecting the same type of read with book four Blood Deep. I was disappointed to find the first ¾ of the book was only about the romance between Jessie and Eden. I like a good PNR with a sexy alpha, but it went a little overboard with the back and forth internal lamenting about how they shouldn’t get involved. The last ¼ of the book was exactly what I was looking for, with all the world building and series story arc progress. I was glued to this part.

This book would have been a 4 star read for me if the series story arc had been evenly distributed throughout the whole book instead of crammed into the end. The romance would have been more tolerable for me if it was diluted out a bit. I liked Jessie’s character and the fact her species of “other” was unknown to the reader and hero until near the end. Her presence adds a whole new twist to the world Pryor has created.

I’m torn about how to rate this book because my problem with it was distribution of the story elements. If you are following this series then you will want to read this book for the great story twists. If you love heavy romance in your urban fantasy then you will also enjoy this. I’m going to give this a solid 3 because the ending was strong.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Blood Deep (Blackthorn Book 4)

Review: Blood Torn (Blackthorn, Book 3) by Lindsay J. Pryor

blood tornReviewed by Sharon S.

‘Vampires might bite, honey, but lycans tear.’

Jask Tao, lycan leader, rules his pack with absolute dedication and demands the same loyalty in return. In the world of Blackthorn, where respect is a rare commodity, Jask has earned his – few dare to cross him, and fewer survive to tell the tale.

When he captures Sophia, a rare serryn witch – whose blood is lethal to vampires – Jask knows just how valuable she can be. Despite her fiery nature, he also can’t shake the feelings that she rouses in him – feelings that he thought died along with Ellen, his mate.

Sophia knows she has to escape from Jask’s lycan compound – and fast. Inheriting her sister’s serryn powers can only mean one thing – that her family is at risk. She’ll have to get past the dangerously attractive Jask first but, scarred by memories of her mother’s murder, Sophia won’t ever give up.

Sparks fly between Jask and Sophia but, as both her family and the pack come under threat, they might just need each other if they, and their loved ones, are going to stay alive…

In this thrillingly sensual novel, Lindsay J. Pryor returns to the shadowy dystopian world of Blackthorn, where tensions are rising, the risks are high, and the most powerful loves are formed in the face of great danger.

This is the third book in the sexy action filled series Blackthorn. I am surprised I hadn’t heard of it since it has every thing I love. It is one of those fun series that blends the world building and grittiness of urban fantasy with the sexy love story found in paranormal romances. Even though this is book three I was able to understand and enjoy Jask and Sophia’s love story, but I felt a little lost with the series arc. Only because there were so many other characters involved from the first two books. I will be checking out the other books so I can find out what happened with those couples.

I am pretty hard to impress in the paranormal romance department. I need some meat to my story (heehee, that kind too) and strong over bearing personalities. Blood Torn contained my two favorite romance tropes, forbidden love and enemy to lovers. Jask is a tortured werewolf alpha in the best possible way (swoon). The mythos Pryor created for the werewolves in her world is full of danger and heartbreak. Turning isn’t something they want to do and this fact is being used against them. Sophia is a witch, but still human, and has a destiny forced on her that she didn’t know about. They are both alphas and broken on the inside. I loved watching them one up each other even cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Even though I couldn’t get enough of them, the author went over the top occasionally.

It is the dark world Pryor created that really draws me to the series as a whole. You could even call it a dystopian. Vampires decided to make their presence known to humans 80 years prior and they brought the werewolves with them against their will. The “others” have been segregated into an inner city by a scared human race. How close to the inner city a human lives in dependent on their money and social status. The elite living gated off in the suburbs.

Definitely a series I will be following and one urban fantasy fans and paranormal fans can enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Blood Torn (Blackthorn)

Review: Kick Start (Dangerous Ground, Book 5) by Josh Lanyon

kick startReviewed by Sharon S.

Will is finally braced to bring Taylor home to meet the folks. Unfortunately, not every member of the Brandt clan loves Taylor the way Will does. Then again, not everyone loves the Brandts. In fact, someone has a score to settle — and too bad for any former DS agents who get in the way when the bullets start to fly.

Let me just say Josh Lanyon writes great thrillers that combine fast action, emotionally engaging characters and passionate romances. I adore his Adrien English mystery series, but I haven’t had the chance to read his Dangerous Ground series about two Diplomatic Security Agents who seem to find trouble where ever they go. Their friendship is strong, but one of them, Taylor McAllister, is secretly in love with the other. Unrequited love anyone? Yes, please!

Kick Start is book #5 in the series so if you like to read in order to avoid spoiling you don’t want to start here like I did. This is definitely a transition book. The first four books close out the main story arc and a new one is beginning for the two guys. And it starts with meeting the parents!

(If you don’t want relationship spoilers for the series now is the time to stop reading and pick up book #1 Dangerous Ground…shoo!)

Will and Taylor’s new business adventure isn’t going well and the guys are still adjusting to living together when Will needs to go home and see his brother. It is time for Will to come out to his family and introduce them to the man he is going to spend the rest of his life with. Who takes the news well and who doesn’t? Not going to tell, you have to read to find out. And it wouldn’t be an action story without bad guys trying to hurt the people Will and Taylor love. There are touching moments between all the characters and lots of humor with Cousin Denis.

This is a novella, but it read way too fast for me. It was over before I knew it! I did have a hard time picturing the guys and keeping their names straight at first because I wasn’t familiar with them, and it is written with the assumption you’ve read the first 4. But I soon picked it up and was able to picture them in my head. I loved the characters Will and Taylor and can’t wait to start this one at the beginning of the series.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Kick Start (Dangerous Ground 5)

Review: Lord of the Hunt (Court of Annwyn, Book 2) by Shona Husk

lord of the huntReviewed by Sharon S.

She Wasn’t Cut Out for His World…

The realm of the fairies might be unbelievably beautiful, but its people are notoriously treacherous. Raised among mortals, Taryn hoped to avoid her fairy heritage her whole life. But now she must cross over to Annwyn and appeal to the King to pardon her exiled parents, or they’re sure to die. And to get to the King, she’ll first have to face the Lord of the Hunt…

He Can’t Imagine Life Without Her…

Verden, Lord of the Hunt, is sworn to serve to King. But the moment he sees Taryn, the attraction is instant and devastating. How can he not help the beautiful, brave young woman who refuses to bend to the will of the court? Yet the power in Annwyn is shifting, its magic failing. No matter how much he may love Taryn, the Hunter knows that abandoning his duty could bring down the mortal world forever.

I have reviewed all three books in Shona’s Goblin series and both books in her Court of Annwyn series. I am not a big paranormal romance reader, but I love Shona’s writing and stories. I have never been disappointed by her books. I was so excited when she decided to write a series about the Fae. They are my favorite supernatural characters. Lord of the Hunt is Verden’s story. We briefly met Verden in book 1 Outcast Prince. He was cold and ridged in his ways, but I knew there was more to him. This book can be read as a stand-alone.

Verden has only lived in Annwyn, traveling into the human realm only when his job as the Hunter required it. He never mixed with humans. He has spent his whole life playing the games of the court, lying and gambling to reach the highest status the King could bestow. His loyalty to the King has been unwavering until now. Taryn is fairy, but was raised in the human world because her father was banished before her birth, and her mother followed because she loved him more than her loyalty to the King and his court. Taryn has also had to pretend and lie about who she was so she could fit in with the humans, but it was nothing compared to the games she would have to play in Annwyn.

Annwyn is dying because the King and Queen’s relationship is failing and full of nothing but hate and resentment. Their son and heir Prince Felan hasn’t found a human wife yet, therefore the power can’t seamlessly shift to him and bring Annwyn back in balance. The failing of Annwyn also has dire consequences for the human realm. Taryn goes to Annwyn to get the King to lift her father’s banishment so her family can come back to Annwyn and not die in the power shift that is coming. Taryn is a fish out of water in fairy and must quickly learn how to play the court games and politics. Failure would most certainly result in her death there. Taryn’s innocence touches a forgotten part of Verden that had been buried by the numbness of life at Court. He struggles with his loyalty to the King and the life he fought so hard for and the unknown of love and freedom with Taryn.

I love the world Husk has created in this series. There is enough world building complexity to satisfy the urban fantasy lover in me as well as feed the addiction for my favorite romance troupe, forbidden love. The sexual tension built between Verden and Taryn while they had to hide their feelings for each other at Court made those moments when they could be together much more intense. They pain they both go through breaks your heart. Yes, I shed some tears. This book also set up the next one about Prince Felan and his quest to win back the only woman he has ever loved.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Lord of the Hunt (Annwyn)

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Review: Immortally Ever After (Monster M*A*S*H, Book 3) by Angie Fox

Immortally Ever AfterReviewed by Sharon S.

In The Heat Of Battle

The hard-won cease-fire between the battling immortals doesn’t last long. In the blink of an eye, human surgeon Dr. Petra Robichaud is back on the frontlines, and starring in yet another of the oracle’s prophesies. As the only healer who can talk to the dead, Petra doesn’t have much choice about her role—even when her breathtaking ex-lover shows up at exactly the wrong time…

Two Hearts Fight To Survive

Petra may have moved on when Commander Galen left her, but she never forgot him—and the passionate moments they shared. Seeing him again is a distraction she really doesn’t need with both armies honing new weapons, and wounded all over her M*A*S*H unit. But how can she resist him? It’s now or never for the demi-god Galen to become Petra’s mate…but with the fate of humanity at stake, will their desire be worth the cost?

I have been waiting for this last installment of Angie Fox’s paranormal romance trilogy Monster M.A.S.H. The beauty of a trilogy is it is like one very long story, but usually you can’t read them out of order or you risk spoiling important reveals. I suggest you start this series with Immortally Yours (book #1). I promise you won’t regret it.

Angie Fox is known for the humorous light tone you find in her PNR series Demon Slayer. Monster M.A.S.H. has a darker tone to it. It is about a war between the mythological old gods and the new, and Angie doesn’t shy away from the horrors of working in a M.A.S.H. unit. But it is tempered with some of the silly and witty writing she is known for. You can call it a dramedy.

I can’t give away too many details about the plot because this is the final installment. I can tell you it was the most action packed of the three. At first I was worried because it started out focusing on Petra’s love life instead of the story like in the first two books. It got a little too PNR for me. It did eventually change the focus back to the Petra’s role in the war and it was page turning action from then on. I really liked learning about the dragon shifters. After years of being enslaved by the old gods and used as weapons, they are ready for some payback. The female dragon shifter Leta was my favorite secondary character in this book. I was able to feel her helplessness and then empowerment as she grew strong and unleashed her furry. Gave me goosebumps!

There are so many fabulous characters in the series. Medusa (yes, that one) and Jeffe (a sphinx) add a lot of humor. Galen is our hero and he is the swoon worthy demi god you would expect him to be. The story is told in the first person POV of Petra. In the beginning of the series she already jaded by the war and has serious trust issues. Over the course of the three books she slowly and hesitantly starts to let her heart open to those around her.

If you are looking for a great balance of urban fantasy and paranormal romance with humor, mythology and unique world building, give this one a try.

Immortally Ever After Rating: ★★★★☆
Monster M.A.S.H. series: Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Immortally Ever After (Monster MASH)

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Movie Review: The Perfect Wedding (2012)

the-perfect-wedding-posterReviewed by Sharon S.

Title: The Perfect Wedding (2012)
Run time: 82 min
Genre: Comedy
Director: Scott Gabriel
Writers: Suzanne Brockmann, Ed Gaffney, Jason T. Gaffney

Line-Up:
Paul Fowler – Eric Aragon
Gavin Greene – Jason T. Gaffney
Alana Fowler – Apolonia Davalos
Kirk Corbett – Brendan Griffin
Vicki Carabella- Annie Kerins
Zack Gastineau – Sal Rendino
Roy Madigan – Roger Stewart
Meryl Fowler – Kristine Sutherland
Richard Fowler – James Rebhorn

The Perfect Wedding is the story of Paul Fowler (Eric Aragon) and Gavin Greene (Jason T. Gaffney), two young gay men who meet and fall in love over the Christmas holidays.

Charismatic, handsome Paul is a recovering alcoholic, eighteen months sober, but still picking up the pieces of the destruction he’d wrought while drinking. He lives at home with his parents, Richard (James Rebhorn) and Meryl (Kristine Sutherland), and with their support and the help of his AA sponsor Zach (Sal Rendino), Paul is learning how to live one day at a time.

But Christmas is approaching, and Paul’s adopted sister Alana (Apolonia Davalos) is coming home for the holidays. This won’t be just a regular family celebration — she’s recently engaged and the weekend will be spent planning her June wedding. She’s bringing her best friends Roy (Roger K. Stewart) and Vicki (Annie Kerins) home with her, to help with the task.

Problem is, Roy is Paul’s ex-boyfriend, and their relationship was a casualty to Paul’s drinking. In fact, the two young men haven’t seen each other since their very messy breakup. Nervous about seeing his ex again, Roy talks his good friend Gavin into joining him for the weekend, and pretending to be his new boyfriend.

When Paul and Gavin meet, sparks of attraction fly — but Gavin thinks Roy’s still hung up on Paul. And of course, the last thing Paul wants to do is hurt his ex all over again.

Meanwhile, like all families, the Fowlers must deal with bad news as well as good, and we discover that patriarch Richard has been recently diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. He is essentially symptom-free, but Meryl is terrified of what the future holds and throws herself into planning a lavish wedding for their daughter, Alana. Even though Meryl knows it’s foolish, she wants to create a wedding so big and so beautiful that no one — not even Richard — will ever forget it.

When Paul realizes that his sister’s wedding plans are getting steamrolled by their mom, he gets involved and convinces Alana’s fiancé Kirk (Brendan Griffin) to re-propose to her, asking her to marry him that very day, in a small ceremony at sunset near the water, with only close friends and family attending, just as Alana has always imagined. And with Paul’s help, Richard also confronts Meryl and convinces her to join him in the present instead of living burdened with the uncertainties of the future.

The proposal, the intimate wedding, and Paul and Gavin’s ultimate connection are touching scenes in a warm and funny story about a very real, modern American family.

Review: The above summary pretty much details the entire movie so no sense talking about that. I enjoyed the film despite the over used romantic comedy plot devices. It seemed they tried to include every social issue in the family dynamic. You have adoption, Alzheimer’s, alcoholism, and mixed marriage. The only thing it didn’t do was make an issue of being gay, which was the point of the movie. The creators wanted to make a romantic comedy. It just so happens the two lead characters were men. This story would have worked just as well with a man and woman. The plot is a formula romantic comedy with no twists or turns, and the humor is generic.

Despite all the things I knock the film for I wanted to see Gavin and Paul’s happy ever after. I liked both characters and the actors did a fine job with them. The acting skills for the cast as a whole, wasn’t stellar, with the exception of Kristine Sutherland who played Meryl Fowler (Paul’s mom). She was the most convincing.

This is a nice indie film that will leave you with a smile on your face.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Perfect Wedding

Review: Stripped Clean by Ellis Carrington

stripped cleanReviewed by Sharon S.

Carlos O’Shea is stuck. He knocked up a girl in college after a night of too much drinking and then married her to be honorable. With little money, fewer options, and no degree, he winds up cleaning the floors in a small town gentlemen’s club and thinking desperate thoughts about the handsome owner that’ll lead to nothing but trouble.

Greg Moorehouse only invested in a nudie bar to help his best buddy out of a financial crisis. Now his drug-dealing ex-boyfriend, his reverend father, and a parade of surgically-enhanced DDs are driving him insane. But what’s really stripped him of all good sense is his growing obsession with his married employee, Carlos.

They circle each other in a push-pull of misunderstandings and growing attraction. Carlos needs to get his boss out of his head, and Greg can’t abide cheaters and married men. So what are a strip club owner and the guy who cleans going to do with their undeniable desires?

Please note: This is an adult gay romance, for mature readers only. Contains explicit love-making between two hot-blooded men, angsty dark moments, and cupcake-baking exotic dancers.

This is about two guys with so many obstacles between them you wonder if they will ever be able to work through them. Stripped Clean has a HEA so you know they do, but the journey there is what this book is about. You can read the book blub to get a rundown of all the baggage they have to deal with.

What I think the author does best is convey that feeling of falling in love with all the awkwardness, double guessing what the other person is thinking and worrying if you are reading things into it. I was able to remember those butterflies in the stomach as you waited for that first kiss from your crush. Gives you all kinds of warm and fuzzies.

Greg does well for his self financially, is comfortable with his sexuality and experienced. His last relationship ended badly because of his partner’s drug use. And to make matters worse his ex-lover is the brother of Greg’s best friend. Greg also has serious anger and trust issues when it comes to his father and it has affected his relationships. But he is a good guy trying to do the best he can and help others. Carlos fell in love with a boy as a teenager, but never got to truly explore his sexuality. Then he ended up in a sexless and loveless marriage and has ignored his needs because he wouldn’t ever cheat on his wife. He is also a good, honest man struggling to do the best he can and it is heartbreaking how he denies his own happiness in order to do right by others.

Both men are drawn to one another from the moment they meet, but unaware that the other is also attracted to them. I enjoyed how they dance around each other for a good part of the book. There are so many reasons for them not to act on their feelings, least of which is the whole employer/employee relationship. When they finally do it is hot! It isn’t happy ever after for them just yet. There are some angsty moments as they try to navigate their feelings for each other and their own emotional baggage.

These are two real life characters overcoming self-doubt and learning to trust and love again.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Stripped Clean (The Escapade)

Review: The Outcast Prince (Court of Annwyn, Book 1) by Shona Husk

outcast princeCaspian Mort can feel the history in anything he touches, a gift he inherited from his father, the Crown Prince of Annwyn. Devastated over his ex-wife’s infidelity, Caspian has withdrawn from human contact except when working as an antiques dealer.

While assessing the contents of the historic Callaway House he encounters the beautiful Lydia Callaway and senses that her home is haunted by a banished fairy. But what does the dangerous exile want? Unbeknownst to Lydia, she’s the owner of the last remaining portal to Annwyn—a mirror hidden somewhere in the house. To keep Lydia safe, Caspian will have to divulge the secrets of his heritage, and risk losing his heart again.

Husk has taken one of my favorite mythologies and put her own twist on it. I love everything about the Fae; from their arrogance and contempt for humans to their militant need to uphold tradition and the politics of the court. I especially like the idea that fairies are dark and dangerous creatures and want nothing more than to trick you out of your soul. You will get all this and more in The Outcast Prince.

I read Husk’s Goblin series and instantly fell in love with her dark storytelling style. I was happy to see she continued this in The Outcast Prince. The heart of the story is the romance between Caspian and Lydia. They may be from different worlds, but their struggles with family secrets and heartbreak connect them on an emotional level. You will enjoy the romance of two people willing to take one last chance at love even though it could break them completely. I really appreciate the fact that Lydia is the sexual aggressor in the beginning instead of the clichéd human enchanted by fae magic. And Caspian’s psychometric ability adds a unique complication to their relationship.

If this was nothing more than a romance I wouldn’t have been satisfied. There are many secondary storylines and intriguing characters we are teased with. They have bearing on Lydia and Caspian’s situation, but also have you wanting to go deeper and discover their secrets. The next book in this series will be about Verden, the Hunter of Annwyn. We only get a taste of him, but I can’t wait to take a bigger bite. Unlike Caspian who is half fae, and therefore has a soul and a moral compass, Verden is full fairy and in Annwyn he is to be feared. I can’t wait to see his icy exterior melted.

There are enough urban fantasy world building elements to make me happy, but not so much it will turn off the die-hard PNR fans. There is a lot of sexual tension and only a couple of sex scenes. The only complaints I have are in the romance part of the story. During their first sexual encounter things were “butterflies in my stomach” sexy and then an erotic term was used and it jarred me right out of the moment. But that is just me. I don’t like erotica terminology. There is a formula feel to the romance trope, but the uniqueness of Husk’s spin on Fae mythology more than made up for it with me.

If you love PNR this book is for you. If you are like me and prefer urban fantasy, here is a chance to expand your romantic horizons a little.

Favorite quotes:

It would be very easy to fall and not think about the landing. Too easy. And he knew how destructive and devastating the impact of loss could be.

and

Caspian’s eyelids flew open. Lydia stood in the doorway looking like a beautiful thundercloud.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Outcast Prince (Annwyn)

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