actually tortured

Empty Net (Scoring Chances Book 4) Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Empty Net - Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

 

Review

This is by far the darkest book of the series so far but this love story really shows off what an amazing storyteller Avon Gale is.

 

She takes the villain from the last book in the series Laurents and pairs him with the beloved scrappy Drake in an truely stellar enemies to lovers romance with a healing journey for all.

 

This book delves into the darkness of what happens when someone is exposed to systematic abuse and what it means to love someone enough to stand by as they heal.

Laurents is awful for a reason. However, he chooses to become aware and change and risk loving someone. He gets therapy. I can’t tell you how much I celebrate when a character gets professionial help in a book showing others the way. He works at his recovery from an eating disorder and self care from his abusive childhood and young adulthood.

 

His demisexuality is gently explored. He becomes his better self and a wonderful partner for Issac. I love the dating scenes.

 

Issac is so much a great emotionally brave character and sexy as hell (Lauren is broodingly hot). Issac just shines and finding romantic love and the love of an adopted father makes him even more compelling.

 

He falls in love but doesn’t try to solve Laurents problems. He is a partner.

 

I really adored their romance as always the hockey and the secondary characters and the pondering for friendship.

 

The books ends with a happily ever after that includes doing the right things for yourself as well as others.

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The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1) by G.L. Carriger 5 Star Review!

     The Sumage Solution: San Andreas Shifters by GAIL CARRIGER 5 Stars!!

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

Delicate Sensibilities?
This story contains M/M sexitimes and horrible puns. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The ¬¬¬¬San Andreas Shifter stories contain blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart (mouth/tongue/etc.).

 

Review

I had a grand time reading this book. Its over the top and madcap but charming, hot, and engaging.

Humor is tough and for me this overblown paranormal world with a sarcastic hero and quirky non humans of all kinds really worked for me. I think because the heart of the story is the romance between Bryan, a beta wolf shifter able to be out about his sexuality for the first time, and a cranky, lanky not well functioning civil servant mage who had an awful childhood and a pretty crap romantic life until Bryan.

All the quirky and crazy plot around them was kept steady by the realism and the truth of this romance. It is a character driven love story set in a pretty well built and enjoyable paranormal world.

Some of the world building is a bit wonky but all the characters, banter, hot sexy times, and romance make up any flaws in a big way.

I can’t wait for more couples in this series and more time in this world.

Shelter (Shifters and Partners #7) by Hollis Shiloh Review

Review:

Shelter (shifters and partners Book 7) - Hollis Shiloh

It’s only a dog, the FBI agents think when they descend on the drug lord’s home. Only a dog, chained in the back yard, half starved and with almost glowing eyes it’s so filled with rage and fear.

It isn’t till they get closer that someone says, “That looks like a wolf.”

 

Review

 

This is a sweet short story about an older FBI agent and a traumatized wolf shifter. It is very slow burn ending really with the hint of a sexual relationship. The tone of the book is very removed but it is still engaging.

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Thrall (Deridia, #3) by Catherine Miller Review

    Thrall (Deridia Book 3) by Catherine Miller 3 Stars!

Slow.
Useless.
Failure.

Ness had always tried to do as the masters told her, tried to fulfil her expected purpose within the time allowed. She was a thrall and nothing more. Every pain was a lesson, every hurt was for her betterment. And someday, perhaps, she could earn honour enough to serve the Narada in a household.

But when the masters tire of her repeated failures to produce the allotment required of her, she is chosen, not for the death she expects, but to serve as payment to a people she has never seen, whose ways are strange and utterly impossible for her to accept.

Taken in by a man who claims that he is not her new master, she is troubled when he does not comprehend the defective nature of the thrall he has been given, and how unworthy she is to be in his service.

And, perhaps even more concerning, his persistent belief that she is no slave at all.

Review

I am a fan of this series and was happy to read another slow burning romance in this world.

Our heroine is Ness. We are deep in her point of view. We slowly see her get acculturated to being not a slave and having a self and value.

The hero is kind and he has to adjust as well.

This is a very sweet romance. I like the pace. However, more details of the non humans and the culture would have made of a stronger read but overall a pleasure.

A Rational Arrangement (Arranging Paradise Book 1) in by L. Rowyn Review

  A Rational Arrangement (Arranging Paradise Book 1) by L. Rowyn

But these are vital aspects of marriage. If one cannot discuss them, what’s the use in meeting at all? It’s like trying to decide what you’ll have for dinner without mentioning food.”

Wisteria Vasilver does wish to marry. Truly. But though she lives in Paradise, arranging a match is full of traps and pitfalls for the unwary … or perhaps just for her.

Nikola Striker, Lord of Fireholt, expects he’ll wed — someday. But not now, and never to a rich icicle of a woman like Miss Vasilver. No matter how much his parents might want the match, or his house might need her dowry. Besides, he has his own problems — most of them people who need his help as a mind-healer.

Lord Justin Comfrey, Viscount of Comfrey, would be more than happy to help Striker with his financial troubles, and not just to ensure that Miss Vasilver’s dowry doesn’t tempt Striker into marriage. If only he could find some way to make his proud, stubborn friend accept the money!

Can three people of such different temperaments ever find their way to a more perfect Paradise?

 

Review 

This book is such a pleasure of a romance. In a Regency flavored culture set after the fall of another world in a new “Paradise,”  Rowyn meticulously builds cultures, history, religions,  a wider world, and a magic systems with as much beauty as the plot, characters, and love story.

I stayed up all night reading.

The heroine, Wisteria, is going right on my favorite heroines list. Wisteria brave, kind, moral, and with the keenest of minds. She falters and is big hearted.  She is somewhere on the  autism spectrum and thus able to see past cultural norms and mores and be baffled by them. Thus, she is socially awkward and misread as cold.  The hero/s come to adore her because of who she is and this romance explores the range of what is “normal” on so many levels and compellingly.

The hero, Nik, is burdened with responsibilities and in love with someone else that he can’t have publicly and thinks doesn’t really want him out of the bedroom.   Nik is a Blessed with gift of mind healing.  As he sees Wisteria more clearly, he comes to see himself more fully as well.  Their love story is one of honesty and have a safe place. It is sexy as all get out as well.

Our third lead is Justin. He is a charmer who really has to learn to trust, risk and talk to get his HEA with both the heroine and the hero and release old ideas about himself as well as the world.  He is loyal and brave.

This is a polyamorous romance that does a wonderful job thinking about the cultural aspects of marriage and sex and human nature. The writer makes you believe in the Happily Ever After because she doesn’t pretend it isn’t complicated.

The book takes on sex, religion, faith, ability gender roles, and marriage  from a global anthropological point of view as well as a biological one (though magic based as Nik can see minds). Wisteria’s analytical nature, Justin’s realism and Nik’s humanitarianism  all come together in a moving exploration of all these topics.

All all the while, we have sexy times, conflicts of all kinds, sexual tension, banter, carriage and Great Cats who talk!

Excellent.

I so hope there are more books in this world.

Lindsey’s Rescue (A World Beyond, #3) by Michelle Howard Review

Review:

Lindsey's Rescue: A World Beyond Book 3 - Michelle Howard

Lindsey Ferra signed up for Earth’s Singles Program wanting love, marriage and happiness. She found the first two but the third required a bit of work. Fighting aliens, running from aliens and making friends with aliens all seem to be on the agenda for the day. Her only question now is can she find her way back and will happiness be on the schedule this time.

Senate Leaders Baruk Laars and Zadal Gatar planned a marriage for business reasons. Their wife Lindsey gave them something else…love. Can these two work together to correct their mistake and will Lindsey be rescued before it’s too late?

 

Review

I have been enjoying all the books in this series but was a little worried about how dark this book would get has Lindsey had been in the hands of the slavers through out the other books.

 

We get the romance before she is taken and the contrast of the two heroes to her sunny personality is lovely. The falling in love with each hero and they with her is charming journey. The heroes do not have a sexual relationship but there is a nice adversary to friends to family arc here.

 

Lindsey shows grit in her captivity and the cast of characters widens and is a great deal of fun.

 

The who done it part could be better and more satisfying and the delay in the return a bit vexing but overall this is a good science fiction romance with fine world build, love story, and characters.

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Ravage (Scarred Souls, #3) by Tillie Cole Review

3 Stars!

Is finding one’s true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?

Taken as a teen, prisoner 194 was stripped of his name and freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless machine. Even as he tries to fight his captors hold on him he knows that obedience is the only way to save his sister, who is the one person that keeps him from turning into a monster.

As a young girl Zoya Kostava barely escaped the brutal attack that killed her entire family. Now twenty five she lives in secrecy. That is until she hears her brother also survived and is living with their greatest enemy.

Zoya risks her safety and anonymity to find the brother she thought dead and is captured by a beautiful, brutal man. A man who both captivates and scares her, in him she sees a soul as lost as her own.

They both have so much to lose will they be able to save each other…and survive.

Review

This addition to the Scarred Souls series and goes right off the rails as the hero actually hurts the heroine. I will admit to skipping those scenes. I just couldn’t take it.

To be clear, he is drugged and compelled but … ewww.

So, this world still has me watching it and the move forward it the arc of the series is a good one as two brothers trying to save their sisters from this horror show are pitted against each other.

The heroine, Zoya, needed more development to get me to complete buy into why she forgives and loves the way she does but Cole does a good enough job that I hang in there. This is another look at conditioning vs the human spirit.

The hero has been brutalized and is brutal but he is super compelling as more and more of who he is revealed. The revenge in this one is great and we are all set up for the next book.

I am ignoring the mob stuff because except for the very good writing of the two previous heroes working to take their places in the family and the death match awfulness, we don’t really get to see the heroes doing those awful things to anyone we don’t think has earned it.

The last scenes of the book wen Valentin is treated with value are kind of great in a dark dark way.

Reap (Scarred Souls, #2) by Tillie Cole Review

3.5 Stars

Raised as a prototype for the Georgian Bratva’s obedience drug, 221 fails to think, act, or live for himself; he’s his master’s perfectly-crafted killing puppet. Standing at six-foot-six, weighing two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and unrivaled in to-the-death combat, 221 successfully secures business for the Georgian Mafiya Boss of NYC, who rules the dark world of the criminal underground. Until his enemies capture him.

Talia Tolstaia dreams to break from the heavy clutches of Bratva life. She dreams of another life–away from the stifling leash of her Russian Bratva Boss father and from the brutality of her work at The Dungeon, her criminal family’s underground death-match enterprise. But when she stumbles upon her family’s captive who is more monster than man, she starts to see the man underneath. A powerful, beautiful, damaged man whose heart calls to hers. But sacrifices must be made–blood for blood…life for life…souls for scarred souls…

 

Review

In this second installment of the Scarred Soul series, we get the story of Zaal. Zaal is way more intersting that Talia but thats okay.

All the elements of the first book are here but thankfully with less sexual violence (though there is enough). You need to read the first book to be really compelled by this book.

This book is a lot of about healing. It is sweet and compelling in the middle of all the over the top and brutal world building.

The heroine does some dumb things but she is steadfast.

You want Zaal to have a better like and you want Luka (from Raze) to complete his healing as well.

The romance is a fated mate/star crossed piece but again the world building really strengthens every aspect of the book.

 

Riot (Scarred Souls #4) by Tillie Cole Review

4.5 Stars!

BRUTAL. INTENSE. PASSIONATE. THE WORLD OF THE SCARRED SOULS.

They call me 901. I am a monster, a killer, a champion. In the blood pit I am a god. I have no name, no family, and no identity. When master says fight, I fight…until I am the only one left standing. I have one goal, to fight so well that I am freed. I don’t need friends, I don’t need women. They are weaknesses. I am strong.

Until I see her. She is gorgeous and kind and off-limits to me. She was stolen as a child to be the worst type of slave and now master wants her. What he wants, he gets. With a smile, she melts my brutal heart. I have never wanted anything more.

I need to make a choice. Freedom or Love. I cannot choose wrong.

Review 

Okay, this addition to the Scarred Souls series is crazy dark. Dark. So much sexual violence to the heroine and this has been her life. They drug women to need sex and they are all in the hands of a sadist.

This is an underground death match gladiator slave systems.

Despite the horror of this world and some parts I could barely read, this is by far the best book of the series.

Again, the world building is pitch perfect. The love story is compelling and real. The issues of overcoming conditioning powerful.

Then, there is the sweet revenge and a visit from the other heroes to make this world burn. Good stuff.

This is the couple I most believe in because they are the most lost and then come to see each other.

The epilogue piece is wonderful.

Read the rest of the series first!

I was given this book for my honest review, so there you have it!

Torkel’s Chosen (A World Beyond, #1) by Michelle Howard Review

Review:

Torkel's Chosen - Michelle Howard

What would you do if Earth didn’t have enough men?
Would you take a chance and leave the only world you knew behind?
This is the decision Faith Reid faces. Placing all her hope in a new government program, she seizes the opportunity that offers a chance for the women of Earth to find love among the stars, on a world beyond the one they know.

How many times can one man risk rejection?
Would you give up on your dreams?
Torkel Alonson has had enough of being ignored and looked over by females on his adopted home world of Enotia. His pride has suffered and he must accept the painful truth. Females will never choose a male with his evil lineage despite his honorable service to his government’s military.

Can two people looking for the same thing find not just what they want but what they need in one another?

 

 

Review

 

 

I liked so much about this book. The world building is nicely done and it has one of my favorite troupes: a hero and heroine who both want to be married.

 

Though it isn’t exactly, mail order bride, it is close enough.

 

The band of brothers the Torkel leads is a wonderful group of special forces. His story of adoption and his loving family are great.

 

I like the heroine. However, she does something really dumb. It works my nerve and I think that if she doesn’t get how she should have come forward with it and why it was really, really bad, she becomes dumb. Agh. But this thing she does makes little sense to me and hurts character development. I get why she does one thing but then the other thing which would hurt as much more than the thing she is preventing, no. How is that for no spoilers?

 

Now, she really pays for her error. A lot. So, there is that.

 

So, I liked the book despite this maddening element. And will be buying the rest of the series because the other heroes and heroines look great!

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