Review of Kiss of Ash by C. J. Archer

Kiss of Ash
The Witchblade Chronicles Book 2
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance
Number of Pages: 331

Date Started: April 8, 2017
Date Finished: April 9, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Pippa Ingleside will do anything to escape her ruthless uncle, but even she is surprised when her previously dormant powers aid her. Surprised and afraid. Her newly discovered abilities may have saved her but they condemn her at the same time.

Disguised as a boy, she travels to the home of Lord Ashbourne to find her one and only friend. To maintain her disguise and put a roof over her head, Pippa accepts a job as page of the wardrobe to Ash, a man as mysterious as he is dangerous. If he discovers her lie, he’ll send her back to her uncle and her witchcraft will be exposed to the authorities.

As the lies build it gets harder for Pippa to maintain her disguise, especially when she falls in love with the man she must serve.

Her only hope is to find her friend. But when the friend is murdered, Ash investigates and where he goes, his page goes too. Together they uncover a web of secrets that could destroy Ash and condemn Pippa. But that’s nothing compared to what happens when he discovers she’s a woman…

Review:
From the beginning one cannot help but feel for Pippa, who has been imprisoned unfairly for five years. As Pippa attempts to flee and find a way to keep safe from her uncle and whatever he might try to throw at her, she finds herself with Ash. Seeing Ash again was quite nice after how distraught he seemed to be in Honor Bound.

Soon the couple find that there is more mystery than simply that of why a friend has died. Between the lies and deception, Pippa and Ash have to fight to find what is real, and what can save them both.

While both are quick to speak and perhaps too brash for most, Pippa and Ash quickly have an understanding, and neither wants to be the first to admit there is more than duty and lust between them. Their stubbornness and quick wits make them a pleasure to read about in all aspects.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of Honor Bound by C. J. Archer

Honor Bound
The Witchblade Chronicles Book 1
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance
Number of Pages: 267

Date Started: April 7, 2017
Date Finished: April 7, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
7 years ago a woman with too many secrets and a man with too many lies fell in love. Then she left him.

Isabel’s quiet life as an assistant to one of London’s famous apothecaries hides a deadly secret. A secret that could see her put on trial for witchcraft if the authorities uncover the truth. But when the authority figure who turns up at her shop is Sir Nicholas Merritt, she’s at risk of losing more than her life. She could lose her heart and soul, and the man she loves.

Royal spy Sir Nicholas Merritt can’t believe his luck when he stumbles upon Isabel during an investigation. He’s been searching for her for seven long years and now he has her again, in his bed and his life. Except she’s resisting all the way. Worse still, she’s somehow tangled up with a plot to assassinate the queen. To hold onto her this time, he must find out why she left him while hiding a secret of his own that could tear them apart forever.

Review:
The connections in this story were absolutely fantastic, as was the mystery. I went back and forth between a few different people that I thought had tried to assassinate the queen, and while I believe I had figured out who it likely was before it was revealed, I had only been grasping at straws and wasn’t secure in my belief that the character had done so.

The relationships were so realistic, convoluted and yet utterly perfect. Nick and Isabel were absolutely amazing together. While they both changed, they both accept how the other had developed in their time apart, and they come out stronger for it. Isabel isn’t the typical damsel in distress, but then, she’s also already married, so it’s great to see how she and Nick work together to try to overcome everything that plots to keep them apart.

The romance scenes were steamy, and oh so good. I much prefer Honor Bound to The Charmer.

C. J. Archer is such a great, wonderful person on top of being a great author.  She has a fan group on Facebook, CJ Archer’s Ministry of Fans, where people who like her books can talk about them, and Ms. Archer interacts with her fans frequently (which makes her even more endearing).  If you are like me and adore her books, join the group and chat with like minded individuals.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of Hex on the Beach by Gina LaManna

Hex on the Beach
The Magic & Mixology Series Book 1
By Gina LaManna

Star Rating: 
Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 254

Date Started: December 27, 2016
Date Finished: December 29, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)hex-on
Welcome to The Isle… Lily Locke has never believed in witches and wizards, ghosts and magic, shifters and vampires—especially cute blonde vamps with blood-intolerance issues. A rising star at a hotshot marketing agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota, all Lily knows is that she’s a PowerPoint guru, an Excel ninja, and a coffee-maker extraordinaire. Not to mention she’s next in line for a huge promotion. All that changes when Lily’s assistant delivers a strange quiz to her, one titled A Magical Assessment for Normal Folks. With it comes the promise of a land she’s never known existed. A land where Lily not only discovers her biological family for the first time, but a place where she can make a difference, change lives, and step into the role she’s destined to fulfill. But first, Lily must admit she’s a witch. Then, she has to acknowledge that the tall, dark, and mysterious man who offers his help is strictly focused on business…at least, for now. When a body turns up dead and the next target is Lily, she must trust her powers and accept the help of her newfound friends. Otherwise, she’ll never survive the trials of the magical island tucked far, far away in the frigid waters of Lake Superior. Welcome to The Isle.

Review:
I really like the premise of this book, but the characters and the situations really seem more written for YA than an adult crowd. The characters weren’t very well developed and seemed much more like stock teenagers than adults. None of the characters ever demonstrated any interests.

This book felt as if it was a constant state of expedition. What should have been climatic wasn’t really worrisome, and absolutely nothing was solved by the end of the book. There are lots of questions and absolutely no answers, that, of course, leads you to the next novel…

What irks me most is that this book is considered a mystery. Sure, there are mystery elements, but there is no big mystery here; nothing is solved. If this was under Romance and Mystery it might be excused, but this is under Mystery and a mixture of various supernatural creatures– not all of the creatures it is listed as a mystery of actually make an appearance in the novel!

ginaAuthor Biography: (From Amazon)
Gina LaManna is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Magic & Mixology series, the Lacey Luzzi Mafia Mysteries, The Little Things romantic suspense series, and the Misty Newman books. Stop on by and say hello on Facebook!
Link: https://www.facebook.com/authorginalamanna

Review of The Charmer by C. J. Archer

The Charmer
Assassins Guild Book 1
By C. J. Archer

Star Rating: 
Genre: Historical/Medieval Romance
Number of Pages: 286

Date Started: October 20, 2016
Date Finished: October 24, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)cover-the-charmer
Handsome. Charming. Devastating. He was the last man she needed, but the only one she wanted.

Orlando Holt has never assassinated a woman before. The lovely, feisty Lady Lynden will be his first. She’s supposed to be a vicious murderess, but when Orlando begins to have doubts, he sets out to discover the identity of the person who hired him. What he learns will turn his world upside down, and propel him headlong into love with a woman who’s immune to his charms.

Twice widowed by the age of twenty-four, Lady Susanna Lynden has had enough of charming men. Her last husband knew all the right things to say to get her to the marriage bed…then made her life miserable. Money may be scarce and her house falling down around her, but the exotic fruit from her orange trees will keep poverty away. Except someone is thwarting her at every turn. Someone who may even want her dead.

Review:
I wasn’t certain what to expect out of Archer, having already become completely addicted to her Ministry of Curiosities book series, but this book surely didn’t disappoint.  While different in the lack of supernatural, this book had quite realistic deep characters that were easy to connect with.  Through learning about the characters and their relationships one might be able to guess the mystery, but for me, although I did have an inkling who it might be, I hadn’t figured out the why for certain.

Several amazon reviews state that this book dragged and there wasn’t enough action in it, but I can tell you that I didn’t want to put this book down, and it wasn’t until I was falling asleep trying to continue reading on the kindle that I did so.  The ending was perfect, and it was a quite wonderful read.

Oh, and guess what– this amazing one is for free on kindle!  I certainly recommend this book, and will be moving on to her latest series I have yet to start on.

cj
Author Biography: (From Amazon)
C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two. She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. While she has written historical romance in the past, she now writes exclusively in the historical fantasy genre (with a large dose of romance). She has several series which occur in the same Victorian-era “world”, one after the other. Each series can be read alone, but it’s more fun to start at the beginning with THE EMILY CHAMBERS SPIRIT MEDIUM TRILOGY. Follow that up with all 9 FREAK HOUSE books, then the MINISTRY OF CURIOSITIES series. GLASS AND STEELE, her newest series, is set in an entirely different alternate Victorian London.

Subscribe to C.J.’s newsletter to be notified when she releases a new book, as well as get access to exclusive content and subscriber-only giveaways. Join via her website: http://www.cjarcher.com

She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through email cj@cjarcher.com or follow her on social media to get the latest updates on her books:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CJArcherAuthorPage
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cj_archer
Tumblr: http://freakhouseresidents.tumblr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorcjarcher/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cjarcher/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4615377.C_J_Archer

Review of Tangled Beauty by K. L. Middleton

Tangled Beauty
Tangled, Book 1
By Charlie N. Holmberg

Star Rating: 
Genre: Romance
Number of Pages: 220

Date Started: July 6, 2016
Date Finished: July 6, 2016

Synopsis: (From Amazon)tangled
Sinclair Jeffries thought she knew what she was getting into when her zany, gay friend, Jesse Eddington, talked her into portraying his girlfriend during his parent’s anniversary party on Huntington Beach. That is, until she met Reed, Jesse’s sexy as hell older brother, and ends up getting much more than what she’d bargained for.

Reed Eddington assumed his future was settled until he met Sinclair, his brother’s so-called “girlfriend”, but the raw, sexual tension between them is hard to ignore. As he watches their ruse from the sidelines, he finds himself wanting to uncover more than just their amusing little facade.

Due to sexual content and heavy subject matter, this book is recommended for ages 18+. This book has dark humor, romance, and suspense.

Review:
I am still trying to fill the void in me that not being able to instantly continue with The Ministry of Curiosities left.  Unfortunately, I seem to be looking in all the wrong places.  I was really psyched to start this novel.  The premise sounds like it could be quite intriguing but the writing itself is atrocious.

Not only do the characters talk in a way that seems unnatural and odd, but a lot of the novel is filled with clichés, idioms, stereotypes, and unrealistic scenarios that it was almost instantly a book I knew I’d dislike.  Some of these include, but are not limited to: someone outright having a conversation with her “boyfriend’s” mother about how she was adopted, models having bad tempers and only eating vegetables, people in the show business being cheaters and into drugs, and several bits of advice such as “you only have to please yourself” and “women are predictable but most are unpredictable.”  On top of that, there also seems to be no relevant plot, with a villain thrown in seemingly so he can later be in the next book which I will NOT be reading.  A lot is told to the author from the narrator without showing the reader anything, which gets monotonous, boring, and dry.  Even the ending left much to be desired, with the supposedly strong and in charge female protagonist letting go of why she was upset without ever confronting Reed about it.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
K.L. Middleton is from the Midwest. She is also the author of the popular Zombie Games (series) and Night Roamers (series). Visit her website at http://www.kristenmiddleton.com.

Review of Hunted: A Stepbrother Romance Novel by Olivia Long and Olivia Hawthorne

Hunted: A Stepbrother Romance Novel
By Olivia Long and Olivia Hawthorne

Star Rating: 

Genre: Romance
Number of Pages: 196

Date Started: June 16, 2016
Date Finished: June 16, 2016

Synopsis:(From Amazon)30333481
Chloe has to watch Chase sleep his way through hundreds of women while she secretly harbors her crush on the hot ex-Marine. She could never have him, so why can’t she just move on?

Chase can run away from the truth all he wants, but when the rest of the world is telling him he can’t have the one woman he has ever truly wanted, that’s all he can think about now. He’ll break all the rules just to get what he wants.

But now he is on the run from his long time enemy, and when he learns that Chloe is also in danger, all hell breaks loose. Can he save her before it’s too late? And can he make the world accept their love?

*Filled to the brim with angst, drama, and dirty sex, so please don’t read if you’re not into hot bad boys and steamy scenes that will curl your toes and make you want to take a shower.

Review:
I briefly remember thinking there was something about this book that bothered me in the beginning… and I quickly forgot as I continued reading what is a very well done romance.  This story isn’t just a case of longing, it isn’t the taboo stuff that everyone thinks of, that they grew up as kids and then decided they wanted each other.  Chase and Chloe met when they were both in their late teens, and as such, found themselves caring a bit too much for people whose parents were dating.  Their parents were given ample page time, and helped drive the plot in their push for Chase and Chloe to spend more time together as family.

Chase’s past was well thought out, well written, and expertly tied together his absence from the family life as well as his current predicament.  Chloe’s age and inexperience also played a large part in why, as adults, they were still thrown together by their parents.

As for the romance– in the beginning, it was very good, steamy, taboo– perfect.  As the rising action got higher and higher, the intimacy continued to be juicy, but jarring, because the situation in which Chase and Chloe find themselves calls for diligence, and rolling around in the sheets is the opposite of what they should be doing.

Looking for more steamy stepbrother romance?  I found Stepbrother Dearest tantalizing, juicy, and taboo.  See my review here, and the Amazon link for the book here.

Author Bio: (From Amazon)
What Amazon tells me of Olivia Long and Olivia Thorne is that they are the same person, and that’s it.

Review of Marry Your Billionaire: A Modern Cinderella by C. J. Anaya

Star Rating: 

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 413

Date Started: March 11, 2016
Date Finished: March 13, 2016

Synopsis:(From Amazon)Marry-Your-Billionaire-2
Six years ago, Midge Knightly walked away from her trust fund, her Hollywood producer father, and the expectation that she would join the family business. Avoiding handsome playboys with hidden agendas was just an added bonus. Now one semester shy of graduation, she is shocked to discover her scholarship has lost its funding.

Her estranged father is having problems of his own. A contestant on his latest reality TV series has cancelled a week before shooting.

His solution?

Midge gets her trust fund back if she stands in as a potential marriage candidate for the dating series Marry Your Billionaire. Twenty women competing for one arrogant guy. Not Midge’s cup of tea. Agreeing to this proposition sucks her back into the world she happily broke ties from, but no trust fund equals no college degree.

Brody Prescott, CEO and owner of an online dating company, has recently been pegged a heartless playboy–among other things–by a disgruntled female after a disappointing date. In order to save his company and his reputation as an honest businessman, the billionaire must prove to everyone that he isn’t the naughty, bad boy they believe him to be.

His solution?

Become the first bachelor on Marry Your Billionaire and hope that one of the contestants holds some potential. So what is he supposed to do when the woman who intrigues him the most wants to be eliminated?

Review:
It’s easy to become embroiled in the lives of Madelyn and Brody, but there were several things that tend to pull you from the general story.  Some of these things are legitimately annoying, and others might just be ones that bothered me, personally.  Madelyn doesn’t swear, which I understand, but choosing to exclaim “Good gravy!” and “Cheese and crackers!” became jarring, as I’ve never known anyone to ever exclaim these things.

It is constantly mentioned that Madelyn is working hard to become a romance novelist, yet her schooling only ever mentions her studying English.  There is a vast different between the requirements and skill sets of a degree in English and a degree in Creative Writing, which is also a major option in both undergraduate and graduate levels of education.

There were obvious faux pas in the realm of how a reality show would work and how the contestants would function, although they can mostly be forgiven, for the main story’s sake.  What isn’t forgivable is the obvious lack of knowledge that the producer/director seemed to have of the characters, as a large part of their work would involve needing intimate knowledge of each contestant.  Though there were also multiple grammar snafus, which while a bit irritating, did not take over from the overall enjoyment of the book.

That being said, this is a unique and very cute clean romance, that I’d definitely recommend.  It becomes hard to put down as we see both Madelyn and Brody putting themselves out there, and trying to figure out if the other one is sincere.  There are many twists and turns along the way, and at some point you wonder whether or not there will be a happily ever after or a happily never after.

CJAuthor Bio: (From Amazon)
I began writing short stories for family and friends when I was thirteen years old. My vivid imagination and love of mysteries and romances eventually led me to following my own dreams of becoming a published author. I’m a huge fan of The Mindy Project, Hugh Jackman, and binge eating any and all things chocolate. Who isn’t, am I right?

As a mother of four awesome kids I’m usually playing beauty salon with my daughters (my four-year-old shaved my arm one time while I was helping another daughter with her homework. Yep. That happened) getting my fanny kicked in Mario Kart by my snarky little son, and making out with my deliciously handsome looking Latin lover, aka, my hubby.

Come visit me on my website where you can grab two romances for free. http://authorcjanaya.com