Review of the Playboy series J. Sterling

Review:
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 Mr. Hired Boss by Lindsey Hart

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

Synopsis:
He is the WRONG guy!
I brought the wrong guy home to mummy and daddy…
#FML

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.
Why?
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!

Review:
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 Close Quarters by Emily Deady

Close Quarters: Enemies to Lovers (A Brekka Romance Book 1) by [Emily Deady]

A forced engagement. A cramped ship. Two hearts that refuse to bend.

When Ceola’s father arranges her marriage to Tuav Strand, she’s furious. Not only is she in love with someone else, she’s tired of sacrificing everything for her father’s political career. But when her father offers her a handsome sum to spend three months with the man before she calls it off, she gladly accepts the deal. That money means freedom.

Tuav is a sailor, not a politician. He won’t abandon his summer patrol for some spoiled girl from the capital, even if she is the Regent’s daughter. What he can do, however, is make her miserable enough to break off the engagement herself.

When Ceola arrives at the coast to spend time with the man she already hates, she finds him leaving on patrol. The only way she can fulfill her bargain is to join his expedition. Stuck on a confining ship with him, a lighthearted crew, and an old natural philosopher, her only respite is that in three months it will all be over. Or will it?

This sweet romance is an enemies-to-lovers tale full of banter, adventure, romance, and a happily ever after.

Review:
I quite enjoyed the development of our lead protagonists from naive children to adults that had to empathize with each other, and that other people have goals and ambitions in life. I thought it was incredibly realistic as I know I, for one, was (am) a hopeless romantic, and probably spent far too much of my time daydreaming about relationships that were never to be. Ceola really has to grow up and not act like a brat, and while Tuav finds himself learning more of the girl, it is really Ceola who develops.

The ending was nice, but seemed a bit lackluster, with a promise but nothing actually finished. I imagine that, like the Fairy Tale Royals books, you’ll learn more about how everything settles in the next book in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯


On a side note, clearly once I read some books of an author I really like, I tend to devour a lot. Any recommendations from those of you reading?

Review of Dark Horse by Kel Carpenter and Aurelia Jane

Dark Horse (A Demon's Guide to the Afterlife Book 1) by [Kel Carpenter, Aurelia Jane]

Synopsis:
My husband killed me.

Instead of spending my immortal Afterlife pissed off and angry, I moved on. I became someone.
Sure, that someone was a demon with the highest track record of reform, AKA punishment, in Hell. But who’s bragging?

I’m right on my way to retirement behind the pearly gates. Everything was going fine . . . until the Risk Witches saw a terrible vision.

Three men. Each scarred in their own way, born with powers that haven’t been seen in eons.
Upper Management sent the best to correct their path. Angels. Poltergeists. Nothing worked.

These men were too stubborn. Too bad. Too untamed…

So they sent me.

Roman. Ezra. Dorian.
Combined, they have enough power to end the world—and they will.
Unless I find a way to stop them first.

Breaking people is my job. But this time…my job might break me.

Author’s Note: This is an adult paranormal romance series with multiple love interests and some dark elements. If you don’t like strong but flawed women and alphahole heroes that need to learn a thing or two about boundaries–this book is not for you. If you love works by Tate James, Ivy Asher, Raven Kennedy, Joely Sue Burkhart, and CM Stunich, then dive right in to the Afterlife. It’ll be one hell of a ride.

Review:
So, clearly I love books by Kel Carpenter, and this was no exception. I will say that I found the beginning very jarring and wasn’t sure if I was going to like it if that was the tone expected, but the surprise factor was indeed there perhaps because, as Fury would say, you can’t do what people expect. I really enjoyed the differentiation of abilities for the different species, and how they had their own special skills, and how that influenced Fury’s connection to them.

While I did enjoy this story and trying to figure things out, I found that it lacked a lot of the jabs and tension that most Carpenter books seem to entail, and it certainly lacked the intimacy that most books hold. I also found that the descriptions weren’t quite right in my head, though perhaps that’s because the word amber was used to describe both eyes and skin tone.

All in all, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of The Villain: A Billionaire Romance by L. J. Shen

The Villain: A Billionaire Romance by [L.J.  Shen]

Synopsis:
Cruel. Coldblooded. Hades in a Brioni suit.
Cillian Fitzpatrick has been dubbed every wicked thing on planet earth.
To the media, he is The Villain.
To me, he is the man who (reluctantly) saved my life.
Now I need him to do me another, small solid.
Bail me out of the mess my husband got me into.
What’s a hundred grand to one of the wealthiest men in America, anyway?
Only Cillian doesn’t hand out free favors.
The price for the money, it turns out, is my freedom.
Now I’m the eldest Fitzpatrick brother’s little toy.
To play, to mold, to break.
Too bad Cillian forgot one, tiny detail.
Persephone wasn’t only the goddess of spring; she was also the queen of death.
He thinks I’ll buckle under the weight of his mind games.
He is about to find out the most lethal poison is also the sweetest.

Review:
There were times that I thought there was a bit too much repetition of Hades and Persephone, but honestly, this story was sweeter than a pomegranate. This story was perfectly woven together, with lots of delicious details and backstory of how we got to where we start with Persephone and Cillian. There is so much more than a love story involved; a development of deeper self, of one’s self worth, compromise, and so much growth. You’ll be rooting for this couple to somehow do the impossible.

Lots of modern pop references were used well, and it gave a great stream of consciousness as well as making it more relatable, and honestly, most were pretty amusing as well. Many of the quips Cillian makes are smart but also well deserved. While quite long, I found this book hard to put down. The game constantly changed and while the stakes kept changing, there was always something to root for.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Haunted by Shadows by Kel Carpenter

Haunted by Shadows: Magic Wars (Demons of New Chicago Book 2) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
I used to hunt witches. Now I live with one.

To further complicate things, my past as a supernatural bounty hunter doesn’t exactly make me popular in these new circles I’m running in.

Shocker, I know.

Someone wants me dead.

Unfortunately for them, I’m pretty good at keeping myself alive. Not that it stops Ronan from being an alphahole.
He wants me to stay in Nathalie’s apartment and be safe while he handles the threat, all while holding Bree’s future over my head.

Not gonna happen.

To say I’m fucked is an understatement. But I’ve been in worse spots before.

Lucifer may be gone, but the corruption of magic isn’t. I have enemies everywhere.

And this time, they’re going to know what it means to burn.

Some things are worse than the devil.
To save Bree, I’ll become one of them.

Review:
Haunted by Shadows allows us to see a deeper look at Piper, who has to undergo deep introspection to learn who and what she is, and what she really wants in life. It’s interesting to see her powers and her self confidence further develop, especially while she tries to grow and maintain relationships with Nathalie and Ronan. My only issue with this book is that it leaves you on a cliffhanger where you’re left wanting the third, not yet released, book.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Demon King by Elizabeth Briggs

Demon King (Claimed By Lucifer Book 1) by [Elizabeth Briggs]

Synopsis:
I made a deal with the devil. Now he’s claimed me as his mate.

When my best friend goes missing in Las Vegas, there’s only one man I can turn to for help.

Lucas Ifer. Billionaire playboy. CEO of Abaddon Inc. King of Sin City. And…the devil himself?

Lucas—aka Lucifer—agrees to help me, but in exchange he wants one thing: me.

He’s dark, dangerous, and wickedly handsome. Oh, and evil incarnate. I should say no, but I can’t. I’m that desperate.

But when you make a deal with the devil, there’s no escaping it. Now he owns my body for seven nights of sin. Even worse, he owns my soul for all eternity.

I’m Persephone being claimed by Hades, and I have no choice but to enter his underworld and become his dark queen.

Is there any light left in that black heart? Or will his darkness consume me?

Review:
I quite enjoyed this book. Most of the twists weren’t things that I expected, so it was interesting to see how things developed. Several twists I figured out just before they were mentioned, though sometimes things became confusing regarding the past and present. While the book itself was enjoyable, the characters did seem quite familiar, and while Hannah is no Chloe, there is an obvious draw in characterization, including description of characters, from the television show Lucifer. That being said I still quite enjoyed this book, and you don’t have to have watched the television show to get into it.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of The Silver Skull by Anne Renwick

Synopsis (from Amazon):
An illegal border crossing. A fake marriage. A mad German count determined to create an army of unbreakable soldiers.

Lady Olivia is not all she seems. Trained for marriage to an assigned political target, her skills lie in programming household steambots to serve tea, dress her hair… and sound the alarm while she picks locks and listens at doors. Humiliated by a failed assignment, she decides to redeem herself by tailing a suspected double agent.

Lord Rathsburn must flirt with treason. Struggles to cure a horrible disease have met with unexpected complications. The cells he engineered can make a man’s bones unbreakable, but the side effects are fatal. He believed the research terminated… until his sister was kidnapped by a German count. Her ransom? A cure.

Piloting a stolen dirigible, he uncovers an unlikely stowaway, Lady Olivia. Arriving together at a crumbling castle, an impossible task is set before them: cure the count’s guardsmen. Amidst their fake marriage, a very real growing attraction, dying guardsmen and escalating hostilities, Lady Olivia and Lord Rathsburn are thrust deep into the world of international medical espionage from which there may be no return.

Review:
In the beginning I was quite sad because I expected that the Elemental Web Chronicles would continue on with Thornton and Amanda, and that they would continue solving crimes and working for the Queen. Once I got over that and gave Olivia a chance, I came to find the story quite amusing and enjoyed it.

Although I understand that Olivia’s abilities and intelligence were supposed to be suspect in The Golden Spider, I found it hard to believe the complete change in mentality that her mother was now shown/said to have. Although some characteristics of Olivia’s remained the same, the difference in her in this compared to how she was in The Golden Spider was at times hard to fathom. Treating this like a completely different novel, not necessarily one that should have flowed from one book to the next, made the changes easier to accept.

I quite liked Lord Rathsburn. He was gruff and not the greatest at dealing with people, much like the scientists I know. His familial loyalty was endearing, as was his sense of honour.

I did enjoy this novel quite a bit, though not as much as The Golden Spider.

Star Rating: 

Review of The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A stolen clockwork spider. A forbidden romance. A murderous spy on the streets of London who must be stopped before it’s too late.

Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.
After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention-a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?

Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.
Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful-and brilliant-new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.

Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.
Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

Review:
Why did I wait so long to read this book? It was absolutely wonderful! There was everything one could want in a steampunk/gaslamp style novel: there was a plucky and intelligent protagonist who wasn’t willing to just take what society deemed acceptable as her future, a brooding intelligent gentleman, mystery, and forbidden romance!

Amanda was instantly connected to me (perhaps due to us having the same first name, Amy being a short form used for publishing). She is so intelligent but also a society lady, so her struggle to find someone who didn’t just see her as a baby maker was both realistic and frustrating, making her quite relatable. Thornton was equally relatable in his desire to get things done, done right, and even if it killed him to do it himself, he’d be sure it was finished.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I loved it, especially the ending!

Star Rating: 

Review of The Princess, the Pea, and the Night of Passion by Rosetta Bloom

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Getting to happily ever after has never been so sexy or so much fun. Passions run high in this retelling of the classic fairy tale The Princess & the Pea.

In this grown-up version of the famous fairy tale, Arabian princess Adara is running from her old life and a forced betrothal. Adara, an exotic beauty, wants love and passion, but knows she can’t get that back home. When a raging storm halts her escape, Adara seeks refuge in the first dwelling she sees.

Prince Richard is tired of the trite, vain, frigid princesses his mother introduces him to in hopes he’ll marry. On this stormy night, the blue-eyed prince is in the mood to love a woman, but he’s all alone.

Adara arrives on the castle doorstep, saying she’s a princess in need of help. The queen is doubtful and decides to lock Adara in a room with a pea to determine if the girl is as royal as she claims. Richard believes the beautiful, charming stranger, but he wants her locked in a bedroom for other reasons.

When Richard and Adara hook up, there’s more than a pea-sized bit of passion involved….

(This is an adult fairy tale; steamy romance included.)

Review:
This wasn’t steamy, it was just somewhat bad. The prince has an overly sexual mindset and that’s all he thinks about. If this had been written by a male that might be more acceptable, but there was very little spark in my mind, and overall, sex sex sex. Not a fan, won’t read this author again.

Honestly, had the fairy tale focused more on the different cultures and a relationship BEYOND sex between Adara and Richard, it would have been a far different and much more enjoyable read.

Star Rating: