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: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

reluctant elfHeroine: Lottie and her daughter, Mabel, are planning to visit Aunt Kate this Christmas because Aunt Kate is starting a bed and breakfast (B&B) business. When Kate is hospitalized, Lottie and Mabel leave a day early for their Christmas vacation. The B&B is in dire straights, so are Aunt Kate’s finances, and the help just absconded for a break to recuperate. Everything hinges on getting a good rating from the reviewer. But Lottie hasn’t the foggiest clue what to do to run a successful B&B.

Hero: Danny, the taxi driver, is an unlikely but most definitely needed hero. When Lottie offers him enough money to fund a trip to see his young daughter in America, he agrees to aid her in anyway he can. He helps paint, fix, repair, clean, and cook. And along the way the two find they have an affinity for each other.

Review: The B&B reviewer and his family are seriously dysfunctional. I am very glad that the creepy brother/in-law doesn’t barge in on Lottie in the bath. He was a very ignorant self-absorbed cad. His wife was a hypochondriac and couldn’t stand her children. The two kids were terrors. I’d be afraid for Mabel to hang out with them. The only one sane was the reviewer. Are you up for some crazy hijinks involving scolding plumbing, falling down ceilings, holes patched with toothpaste? Then you’re in for a treat with this wifi-less Victorian-themed holiday chick-lit. Happy ending for all. There’s definitely room for continuation.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Reluctant Elf

Audio Review: A Passionate Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

passionate affairSummary: Charley Lambert wants the perfect life and thinks she has the perfect career. Which is great for her because she is a workaholic who lusts for her boss. He’s hot, they click, and he’s a damn good flirt. But it’s been seven years! So when she breaks her leg, finds out her boss is getting married, and must take time off from perfect job – Charley searches for something to fill the void. Her friends guide her to the perfect hobby – providing online dating help to the luckless women out on the web. She does their flirting for them and they get to meet the guys they think are great. Charley’s friend and roommate, Sam is an actor wannabe who loves women and junk food. They’ve friend-zoned each other long before the story starts. He helps her with her get her business started. It’s fun and smooth-sailing until Charley falls for a guy she’s helping another woman snag.

Review (with spoilers): So it was clear to me from the start of the sequence for the online-dating that Sam was going to be perfect for Charley. They both just didn’t know it. I never liked Charley’s boss (what kind of guy claims to like a woman for seven years and never ask her out and what kind of woman waits seven years to be asked out?) – and his behavior and general smarmy attitude just didn’t work for me. Sam was very immature at the start and grows into a better guy through a series of events in the novel. My favorite sequence was Charley falling in love with Sam and Sam with Charley but both thinking they were falling for a stranger on the internet and ghost-writing for a client. Loved it.

Narrator: Cathleen McCarron’s voice is very distinct and so is the Scottish accent. On one hand she was a great narrator lending Charley some maturity when needed and levity when needed. On the other hand Cathleen was sometimes difficult to listen to as it seemed like she read slower in certain parts.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger

Review: Only the Brave Try Ballet by Stefanie London

braveballetHero: Grant Farley injured his hamstring on the field and must regain his flexibility quickly in order to play. He signs up for ballet lessons because he’s desperate for a “quick fix.” What he doesn’t expect is to find himself very attracted to his private tutor. Tweaking her tutu is just the kind of fun he likes.

Heroine: Jasmine Bell is a prim and proper ballerina. Or at least she was until she hurt herself. Now she can’t dance the way she loves. Pointe is completely out of the question and so is Grant Farley… he’s just like her last boyfriend. He wants a pretty thing on his arm and when she can’t be everything he wants, he’ll move onto the next model type. Grant’s determined to change her mind about him and ballet.

Review: If the hero and heroine hadn’t been injured they would never have met. It was a great premise. I liked Grant a lot as a hero. His bar fight that gets alluded to often is something he’s already taken care of, but he doesn’t want to screw up again and it gets to him. Most of his troubles feel like they are in his head. The same for the heroine. I had trouble caring about Jasmine’s fears of trying again to do proper ballet, especially once we learn that the doctor thinks its psychosomatic. So that didn’t work for me. However, Stefanie nails it on flirting and sexual chemistry. Oh la la!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Only the Brave Try Ballet

Review: The Sherbrooke Bride (Bride Series, Book 1) by Catherine Coulter

sherbrooke brideHero: Douglas Sherbrooke, Earl of Northcliffe, needs an heir and a bride. He secures the beautiful Melissande’s hand in marriage. Before they can wed he’s called away to attend delicate matters and sends his cousin to marry for him by proxy. Bad idea! When he returns he finds his cousin stole his bride and married him to the wrong sister.

Heroine: Alexandra Chambers, youngest daughter of the Duke of Beresford, is not beautiful like her sister Melissande. But she has loved Douglas since she was fifteen. When Douglas’s cousin proposes the scheme she is eager to do it. because she knows she will make Douglas a better wife than her high-strung sister. Now she must convince him of it too.

Review: Douglas is furious at the turn of events and takes it out on Alexandra and his cousin Tony. He’s one of those brawny alpha males who does many a pigheaded thing until he gives in and confesses his heart. You either love him or loathe him. Tony was a great side character who for some unknown reason liked an empty-headed vain woman with mush for brains. Melli was very annoying. What’s weird and disturbing is that Tony is training her like a dog to be a better person. Ick. I like Alex as a heroine and the writing was engrossing despite the story’s flaws. On a personal note, the Virgin Bride ghost was an unnecessary supernatural element that detracted more than aided the writing.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Sherbrooke Bride (Bride Series)

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Review: How to Marry a Marquis (Agents of the Crown, Book 2) by Julia Quinn

how to marry a marquisHero: James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, and agent to the crown, is good at uncovering secrets and finding bad guys. When his aunt informs him of a blackmailer, he is quick to ride to her rescue for she is like a mother to him. At her behest he arrives in disguise as the new estate manager and immediately has suspicions about his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth Hotchkiss.

Heroine: Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of four, is trying with few successes to raise her siblings. The lack of money is a constant worry for her as she’s trying to figure out how to keep the family together and pay for her brother to go to school. In Lady Danbury’s library she finds a silly book about how to marry a marquis. Reading it, she and her sister decide she must practice on a live subject… and the new estate manager would be perfect!

Review: I love when characters become the butt of their own schemes. When James offers to help Elizabeth find herself a husband, little does he know he will want her for his very own. Lady Agatha Danbury is a crafty old woman who shouldn’t be underestimated. She will make you laugh. A couple of characters are introduced, who are probably from the first book in the series, and didn’t add much for me. Overall, an easy read with a fluffy center.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: How to Marry a Marquis (Avon Romantic Treasure)

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Review: The Trouble with Honor (Cabot Sisters, Book 1) by Julia London

9780373778454_prdHeroine: Honor Cabot, a favorite of the ton, knows she is in a pickle. Their stepbrother’s social-climbing fiancée is Honor’s once-friend turned nemesis. Honor doesn’t know who would make her an acceptable husband so she makes a bargain with a rogue in order to gain the time she needs. If he can successfully seduce the Monica so that her stepbrother’s wedding is stalled or canceled, she will have a chance to secure her ailing mother and younger sisters.

Hero: George Easton is the illegitimate son of a duke who is now dead. Like his father, his half-brother also refuses to acknowledge him. He might be reluctant to play charming seducer, but Honor knows his price. First things first though… he’s not considered acceptable. Somehow he’s got to be invited into polite society. The more time he spends with Honor the less he wishes to woo the fiancée.

Review: Honor is a mischievous devil-may-care young lady with an impeccable reputation she doesn’t deserve. She first meets George when she convinces her young male admirers to bring her and a few other young ladies to a gaming club. She sits down at George’s gaming table and challenges him to play… and ends up winning all his money before he knew what hit him. I quite liked her feistiness. I’m glad the George calls Honor on her horrible plan and labels it selfish and cruel to both parties… if only he could afford not to play along with it. His efforts are thankfully, minimal. On a personal level, I could have done without Honor’s mother steadily loosing her mind. There is one thing, I do question though… How come the earl’s death leads to Honor’s scheme in the first place? How can a loving stepfather/husband be unwilling or incapable of securing enough sums for his soon-to-be widow and stepdaughters? Especially if he didn’t fully trust his besotted son/fiancée?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Trouble with Honor

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Review: The Pretender to the Throne (Call of Duty, Book 3) by Maisey Yates

pretender to the throneHero: Xander Drakos is the rebel wastrel prince of Kyrnos. He left the country after his mother’s death. He blamed himself for her death as much as his father and brother did. He pushed his feelings away and drowned his sorrows in all the wrong places, never healing. Now he’s back in the country to finally do his duty as heir-apparent and take over the throne from his ailing father. Just one problem… nobody particularly wants him back.

Heroine: Layna Xenakos was permanently disfigured by acid in the unrest that occurred when Xander left the country. She’s hid herself in a nunnery, believing the lack of vanity makes her a better humanitarian. But, she does care deeply about her appearances—she just buries her feelings and locks them away. That is, until Xander walks back into her quiet life asking her to pick up their relationship as if he never left… to help him win the people over again. Well good luck, he’s going to have to win her over first.

Review: This was a different romance than your usual fare, because it is the heroine that is scarred and not the hero. Layna in a nunnery reminded me of Sound of Music (or maybe I’ve been looking for Sound of Music ever since I got the Blu-Ray and went to Salzburg.) I also thought it was interesting that both of the main characters had spent the time apart hiding from the world. Yes, I know Xander was out in it and living the wild life, but he wasn’t really active in it. He used the club scenes and gambling scenes to hide from himself. Overall, I liked it, but wanted to like the characters a little more than I did. I didn’t really connect with them.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Pretender to the Throne (The Call of Duty)

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