Review of the Playboy series J. Sterling

Starting on: Avoiding the Playboy
So it finally happened. I didn’t vet my kindle books as well as I should have, and a “cliffhanger” freebie took residence for free. Am I disappointed? Yes. Would I recommend this book? No. Is this book even a “book” at all? Not really. It isn’t like James Patterson’s “bookshots” (aka novellas/short stories) where he tries to strip it down to 150 pages for $5 but you get a complete story- Sterling is not even giving a full story at all. It’s splitting a book into three books when you could have just sold one for 3.99 instead of the first one free, second one .99 and third 2.99.

The book itself is decent. I enjoyed the descriptions and characters, but I felt like I was just getting into it when it was abruptly cut off. It wouldn’t have phased me at all were this one story and I’d already purchased this, but this is almost like you thought you were getting a story and instead you’ve gotten the sample. Now, I am very torn, I quite like what I’ve read so far, but I’m not certain it justifies buying two more books. Reader, I did it. I bit the bullet and bought the two books.

The following was written after finishing books 2 and 3:
Do I regret it? Yes. Would I do it again? No. The second “book” is around 40 pages. Only 40 pages of this story. The books are padded to appear larger by having bits of her other books tucked into the end. The relationships are unrealistic after book 1. In book 1 there was indifference and the war between what you should and shouldn’t do. Books 2 and 3 have conflict that is instantaneously fixed, with no real barriers or stakes because as soon as an issue pops up suddenly it’s all better, whether or not that’s something that would happen in the real world. I wish I had posted the above two paragraphs instead of insisting to myself that I needed to read the whole thing before telling others I wouldn’t recommend it. At least I can say that while a HEA (happily ever after) IS achieved, it is nothing but a superfluous waste to purchase and read these, even if the sex scenes are decent. I feel so strongly about not recommending these, that I will not be linking to them.

Star Rating: ✯✯

Review of Lycans and Legends: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Lycans and Legends: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 6) by [Melanie Karsak]

After stopping a mysterious preternatural assailant wielding an enchanted dagger, Clemeny is on the hunt. Why is someone after Victoria? To find answers, Clemeny Louvel must travel to the one place she’s been avoiding, the Summer Country. Among the mist and standing stones, secrets about her case—and herself—are hiding. An ancient grudge with roots deep in the heart of Britannia is about to unfold on the Victorian stage.

Unless Clemeny can stop it first.

Finally! We get to learn more of Clemeny, her heritage and lineage, and how that influences her life– or doesn’t. One of my absolute favourite tie ins of this series was that between Clemeny’s lineage and Sir Richard Spencer’s! I quite enjoyed seeing this series completed, though I didn’t quite enjoy how some people ended up paired together. I will say that while the ending alluded to great things, I would very much love another book (or two, or three!) to tie things together with a neat crisp bow.

I also found myself quite enamoured with Agent Rose, and hope that someday Karsak continues with the stories of the Red Cape society, or at least lets us know Agent Rose’s back story!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Howls and Hallows: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Howls and Hallows: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 5) by [Melanie Karsak]

You’re invited to the All Hallows Ball.
*Werewolves prohibited.

Busy tracking down thieving werewolves in London, Clemeny is surprised when Edwin asks her to lead a new case in the Fenlands of east England.

The Cabell family is haunted by a curse. Something in the misty moors surrounding Cabell Manor has come howling just days before the exclusive All Hallows Ball. How gauche. But London’s best agent is on the case.

Clemeny soon finds herself learning the ropes of polite society while hunting an apparition on the foggy fens. She’ll need to solve the case quickly if she hopes to be the belle—not the bruiser—of the ball.

Not for the first time we have to wonder if Clemeny and Edwin are the right match. So much tension and uncertainty. She’s great at her job, but what is right for her? She seems to keep a good head on her shoulders at all times, willing to talk and befriend before simply judging or casting aside people. I must say, relationship wise, I quite enjoyed this book and the showcase of how Clemeny felt among high society.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Bitches and Brawlers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Bitches and Brawlers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 4) by [Melanie Karsak]

Just when things start going well for Agent Clemeny Louvel, a bitch has to make trouble.

Since Cyril’s death, an uneasy peace has existed between Alodie and Lionheart. Her brothel closed, her rank in the werewolf pecking order obliterated, and shunned by the Templars, Alodie has been living on the fringes of the dark district. Determined to get vengeance on Lionheart and Clemeny, Alodie hatches a monstrous plan. Just in time to ruin Clemeny and Edwin’s first outing as a couple.

Alodie will do anything to see a new alpha rise.

Unless Clemeny can stop her first.

Clemeny is stuck between her duty as one in the red cape society and her obvious need to keep her particular division taken care of. Unfortunately, when some attempts for leniency were made, it meant that there was the potential for an uprising. It was great to get to see Clemeny and Edwin fully in action together again, but at what cost?

As with the others in this series I zipped through it quickly, which is why now I’m stuck reviewing the last three books instead of delving into another series/author as I will be continuing to do once I’m finished here. In some regards it almost feels like the solutions are too quick and precise in these books, but that is partially why I love them. In the real world, that’s how many problems appear and are solved–so much time spent in introspection and consideration, just for the solution to be quite simple and instantaneous.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Peppermint and Pentacles: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Peppermint and Pentacles: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Up on the housetop werewolves howl
Out jumps good old Agent Louvel
Down through the chimney chasing monsters quick
Feeling far less jolly than Old Saint Nick

Red Cape Society Agent Clemeny Louvel is used to chasing werewolves across London. But when she’s reassigned to a special case just days before Christmas, she learns that she’ll need more than a silver bullet to keep everyone on the nice list.

Finally we get to see a nice decent amount of grandmere Louvel! I always enjoyed her “oranges and lemons!” exclamation but I hadn’t known where it was from. This has been one of my absolute favourite books in the series, because I noticed what was happening before the characters told you, and it was just so festive and fun. I really enjoy seeing the characters relationships developing and how the people interact. I know in some reviews of previous books in this series people have complained that she uses modern language and that takes away from the “steampunk” side of things being Victorian, but to me the setting is what gives it the Victorian vibe, the steampunk elements are from the contraptions, and honestly, I find myself deeply entrenched, wanting more, more, more. I am going to be quite sad when I finish this series(which will likely be today or tomorrow at this rate).

Review of Alphas and Airships: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Alphas and Airships: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 2) by [Melanie Karsak]

With Lionheart as the new alpha, the streets of London are quiet.

But above the realm, mischief is brewing.

While airship pirates are a common plague upon the kingdom, the Airship Fenrir proves particularly troublesome—especially on a full moon.

Clemeny must take to the skies before these shape-shifting Vikings kick off a new Ragnarok. Easier said than done now that she’s down one good eye, a partner, and not to mention the fact that she gets motion sick.

On top of that, the new scar across her face makes Clemeny feel like she’ll have better luck intimidating her foes than finding a beau. But Agent Edwin Hunter, recently assigned as head of Clemeny’s division, is proving to be an interesting prospect. Despite her apprehensions, it’s up to Agent Louvel to chase Fenrir across the heavens.

Clemeny is down a partner, but she still has work to do, so she has to deal with someone perhaps a bit green, but at least they do get along. I quite enjoy how Clemeny gets on with everyone, and how even those she doesn’t really know seem drawn to somewhat like her and help her. Many thanks to the wife of the Captain! I also quite enjoy how there are a few unsuspected saviours/helpers towards the end.

Like the first book, this story goes quickly. I’m not sure if it’s because these are short or just superbly written, but I find myself soaring through them.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Wolves and Daggers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Wolves and Daggers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 1) by [Melanie Karsak]

Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?

When London’s brightest tinkers and alchemists come up missing, Red Cape Society Agent Clemeny Louvel is on the case. As an agent for London’s preternatural enforcers, Clemeny has seen it all. Even though they call her Little Red due to her diminutive size, Clemeny is feared by the werewolf packs. But this case is different. When Clemeny discovers goblins, werewolves, and vampires working together, she realizes a darker danger is looming.

To help Clemeny get the problem in hand, Queen Victoria assigns her a temporary partner–a werewolf with a knightly history and a tendency to be far too flirtatious for either of their good. Can she trust him to help her chase down the monsters they’re hunting?

This book is a treasure- easy to fall and lost in. It has everything you could want- steampunk, supernatural, and the interwoven fairy tales are just a bonus along the way. It is short, concise, and to the point- without a lot of overwriting that many do. The relationships are realistic and the characters have flaws. I love how red riding hood is seamlessly woven into the Victorian society of this book, and how everything interlocks perfectly. I was quite pleased to realize it was book 1 in a series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Mr. Hired Boss by Lindsey Hart

Mr. Hired Boss (Alphalicious Billionaires Boss Book 4) by [Lindsey Hart]

He is the WRONG guy!
I brought the wrong guy home to mummy and daddy…

I met him the night I swore men off forever.
And proposed to him right there and then.
Pretend to be my boyfriend for the weekend!

Yup, I hired a stranger as my escort.
I had my reasons, okay.
Plus him, love, and all that drama shit? Not going to happen. Ever!
All the pretend stuff? Child’s play.
Sharing my bed with him? Easy peasy.
My family? They are totally going to fawn over him.

See all-round perfect.
Because he is gay.
Except… you know…
Well, he is being a little too perfect in his job.
So perfect that I’m not sure what is fake anymore.
So perfect that I’m seeing heartbreak written all over him.
And that is most definitely not what I hired him for!

Disappointing. This book had such potential to be great. It had good characters, an interesting premise, but for all that lead up only had one sex scene that wasn’t written well. I quite enjoyed the characters and the heat and intensity between them as their story unfolds and they pretend to be in a relationship, but the actual intimacy wasn’t gripping. If this was classified as a sweet romance, it’d be five stars (and that one scene would likely be omitted) but as it isn’t, I’ll give it three. Plotline and characters were great, language was a bit weird with the word “farging” being used instead of the curse word “fucking”, but the “romance” part… not so much.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯

Review of House of Assassins by Larry Correia

House of Assassins (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior Book 2) by [Larry Correia]

Ashok Vadal was once a member of the highest caste in all of Lok. As a Protector, he devoted his life to upholding the Law, rooting out those who still practiced the old ways and delivering swift justice with his ancestor blade Angruvadal. None was more merciless than he in stamping out the lingering belief in gods and demons among the casteless. His brutality was legendary and celebrated.

But soon Ashok learned that his life to that point had been a lie. He himself, senior member of the Protector Order, was casteless. He had been nothing more than an unwitting pawn in a political game. His world turned upside down and finding himself on the wrong side of the Law, he began a campaign of rebellion, war, and destruction unlike any Lok had ever seen.

Thera had been first daughter of Vane. A member of the Warrior Order, she had spent her life training for combat. Until a strange sight in the heavens appeared one day. Thera was struck by lighting and from that day forward she heard the Voice. A reluctant prophet with the power to see into the future, she fought alongside Ashok Vadal and his company of men known as the Sons of the Black Sword until a shapeshifting wizard with designs on her powers of precognition spirited her away. He holds her prisoner in the House of Assassins.

Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword march to rescue Thera. With his sword Angruvadal, Ashok was unstoppable. But Angruvadal is gone, shattered to pieces on the demon possessed husk of a warrior. Now, Ashok must fight without the aid of the magic blade for the first time. Thera’s life depends on it.

But there is much more at risk in the continent of Lok. Strange forces are working behind the scenes. Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword are caught up in a game they do not fully understand, with powerful forces allied against them.

Ashok no longer knows what to believe. He is beginning to think perhaps the gods really do exist.

If so, he’s warned them to stay out of his way.

They would do well to listen.

This book is amazing. There is so much depth of the various character’s backstories, and we get to understand more of how they came to be the characters we know from the first story. Not everyone is born to privilege, but everyone is shaped by the different events in their life and their chosen reactions, and that is especially true to our ragtag bunch of Sons of the Blacksword.

I certainly found myself rooting more for Thera, and understanding her plight more the deeper into this book that I got. Ashok’s resignation to helping with anything against the law is still in full force, but we see him begin to think and act more of his own accord and conscious. I am quite enjoying how the various groups believe there is nothing tying them together, yet there seems to be bits and pieces that meld from group to group. While some villains may have slight redeeming qualities, there are still plenty of surprises to be had, and I can’t say I’m too upset about anything I read, but I’m also quite glad that we already have book 3 for me to start soon.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯