Ellie Reads Fiction

1 Feb 2016

Review: Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid


Title: Happily Ever Ninja (Knitting in the City #5)
Author: Penny Reid
Date of publication: 19 January 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads 

My rating: 3 stars



Synopsis

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true. 

Except… not. 

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

Review 


I've been a fan of Ms Reid's writing from the very beginning, back in 2013 when she published the first book in the Knitting in the City series, Neanderthal Seeks Human. I have enjoyed all the books in the series so far, some I liked more than others less, but they all were fun to read. 

I was excited to read Greg and Fiona's story since I very much like the marriage-in-trouble trope and there are not that many contemporary romances out there dealing with it. I read the prequel (Available for free/Amazon), which tells the story of Fiona and Greg when they first met and got together in  college. I found it a beautiful romantic story and was very much intrigued to see how they were doing years later as a married couple with children.

Happily Ever Ninja has the same distinctive feel as the previous books in the series. The hero and heroine are not awkward (or are rather not as awkward) but they both are badass ninjas (in their own way). Unfortunately I couldn't quite connect with either Fiona or Greg. Their marriage and their relationship were so different from my understanding of marriage and being with someone. It bothered me that they both kept secrets, important ones, from each other. For two people who were so much in love, they didn't really share much and pretty much  did what they thought was best without consulting/sharing it with the other.

They went through their fair share of crazy shenanigans and even some more. I enjoyed some of it, but at the same time it felt repetitive, like I've already seen this and was expecting something new. Fiona and Greg had the same discussions again and again and the result was always the same - one of them totally disregarded the opion of the other and did his/her thing.

Overall, this story didn't feel as real as the previous ones in the series. It was both too much and too little. I wanted more real connection between Fiona and Greg and less over-the-top craziness.

This not a bad book, just not as good as the rest of Ms. Reid's books. Fans of the series might enjoy it more and I urge them not to skip it, because it's a nice romance after all and it also shows us more of our favourite knitting club ladies and their partners.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iTunes

29 Jan 2016

Friday Favourites #19: Cole McCade

My guest for Friday Favourites this week is Mr. Cole McCade. He is a new-to-me author and I first came across his writing with his post for Queer Romance Month last year. His moving piece prompted me to check out his books which finally lead me to reading The Lost and its prequel, The Fallen a few weeks ago. In short, I was blown away by these rather dark but still hopeful stories, you can read my review from earlier this week. 

Now, meet Mr. McCade himself sharing some of his favourite stuff and there are some. It was a really fascinating interview and learned so many new, curious things, and got to check out some awesome books. I hope you will enjoy it too!



1. Favourite place
Kowloon Walled City. Even though it doesn’t exist anymore; it was this fascinating warren of sunless tunnels outside of Hong Kong, a close-stacked shanty town mutated on itself and growing into this seedy tangle of neon lights and the scent of opium, turned ever inward and away from the world. I’m bloody well obsessed with it, and a little secret: I’ve started sneaking a tiny mention of it somewhere in my recent releases and in several of my upcoming titles. It’s becoming a thing. Where can I hide the Kowloon Walled City Easter egg? A YA novel I’m working is also set there, in a futuristic re-invention of the city.

2. Favourite food and drink
I’m going to show my roots a little and say my favorite food is a good beef udon bowl. Real beef udon with actual meat and vegetables, prepared properly in a restaurant; not the packaged stuff with the powdered flavor packets. There used to be this amazing sushi place near me that made the best udon bowls, but they closed down. As far as my favorite drink? Ginger green tea mixed with TY KU sake liqueur. 

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
Asking me this is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. I don’t really have a favorite; I listen to all kinds of music from around the world, and tend to fall in love with songs regardless of their genre. One day I might be listening to Missy Elliott; the next Jay Chou; the next the soundtrack from Sita Sings the Blues; the next Peggy Lee; the next you’ll even catch me listening to 1D before it’s on to Dir en Grey and Marilyn Manson and Melanie Martinez and Meg Myers, then Etta James, Aerosmith, Hrithik Roshan, Emalkay, Sinatra, Keith Urban, 30 Seconds to Mars, SID, Akira Yamaoka, 16Bit, Disney soundtracks, Kalafina. Though I guess when I can’t decide what I want, I fall back on The Glitch Mob as my default; their music gets inside me, especially the Drink the Sea album. I don’t know. It’s really hard to answer when all I care is that it makes me feel something deep and visceral. My writing is set to music, always, and it shapes the rhythm of the narrative and the beat of my emotions.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
Not a big TV person, honestly. I’ll leave my TV off for months, then only turn it on for background noise. I have series I’ll enjoy enough to watch again in the background while I work, like Firefly, The Walking Dead, Fringe, Dexter, SG:U, Jessica Jones, Hannibal, Darker than Black, Black Butler, Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi, Tokyo Ghoul, Shingeki no Kyojin. And I guess films like The Charge of the Light Brigade, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, and Spirited Away. But…there’s nothing really that makes my list that I can’t live without, nothing I reference as a passionate favorite even if I appreciate the nuance and art forms of the medium. TV and films are fun and engaging when I’m in the mood for them, but it’s not something I center around any specific show or film. For me watching things is more a community activity, if that makes sense. I watch for the enjoyment of sharing the experience with other people watching these things, this mutual act of experiencing a story. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what that story is, or whether people loved or hated it. It’s a unique cultural phenomenon, a shared experience that’s evolved to become part of our daily dialogue.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Promise you won’t laugh? Crocheting. Now, look. I suck at it. I tried to start a scarf and ended up with a weird stiff curled yarn brick. The best I can manage is a double chain; patterns and diagrams look like Greek to me. I don’t do it to make anything fancy. I will make a mile-long single chain if I need to, because it’s just…relaxing. I put the computer down, put the phone down, and suddenly my hands are busy with something that keeps me away from both, and all the problems waiting inside the window into my digital world; my subconscious mind is occupied not by the million things preying on me every day, but by the simple focus on keeping the pattern going with looping, hooking, pulling the yarn. I may never make anything more complex than a crappy square coaster so lumpy it’ll tip your drink over. I don’t need to. I still enjoy it.


Five Favorite Books
This is another one I have trouble answering; just like music, I have such deep love for the medium in all its forms that it’s hard for me to pick a limited selection of favorites. I read across genres, forms, and age groups, and fall in love with so much from so many unique writers. But…I’ll try to pick out a smattering. I’ve done top five lists like this in other interviews and ended up listing wholly different books, but…I kind of like that, actually, because it means recommending a broader list of authors.

1. SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield: This YA novel tackles a really sensitive topic, self-harm in teens, and does it in an unflinching and yet sympathetic way. It’s beautifully written, sucking you in with gorgeously emotional words. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a necessary one. And it introduced me to Cheryl Rainfield in general; she’s a wonderful author, someone who writes on things that might frighten other people. Dedicated to her craft, skillful with words…and she’s an amazing person, too, constantly seeking to help and support other people. I’d really recommend checking out HUNTED and STAINED, too.

2. IDORU by William Gibson: My computer science teacher gave this book to me in high school, and I kind of maybe forgot to give it back. It was the first book I’d read in English that made me feel so at home with its portrayal of a futuristic Japan and Japanese culture as part of a connected global culture, at once alien and familiar. It’s brilliant sci-fi with a touch of prophetic realism and a dash of cyberpunk and a strange feel of mysticism, and it also taught me that it’s not wrong to tell an adult story mostly from the POV of a teen. (I was young, this was the nineties—I was still gaining exposure to books and what had been successfully done before.) I think in a lot of ways it shaped how I write sci-fi, especially the stories I’m working on set in Asian cultures. And it was the first time I’d ever heard of Kowloon Walled City, beginning an obsession that’s continued throughout my life.

3. SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD by Diane Duane: Oh god, this book. The whole series of books, the Young Wizards series, just…thrilled me when I was a boy. I love Diane Duane’s writing; it’s lyrical, enchanting, smart. She made science out of magic and made magic into a science, and gave me brainy, wonderful characters from mixed cultures and backgrounds. These are the books I recommend to people who naysay MG and YA and say they’re not smart enough. They’re a gateway drug, intriguing and well-plotted, and can entrance people into setting aside their preconceptions and discovering the wonderful stories waiting on the 18 and below shelves. Nita and Kit are the best protagonists, and their friendship is this wonderfully complex thing that sees them through so many issues and world-shaking adventures. And I’ll confess: I’d peek on the shelves, looking for my own copy of the wizard’s manual, hoping maybe one day I’d crack open the book and find not a story, but an instruction manual for the magic I felt every time I stepped into Duane’s world. She also writes adult fiction; she’s contributed several Star Trek novels, and she started the Omnitopia series with OMNITOPIA DAWN. I had some issues with OMNITOPIA DAWN, but it was still a great read.

4. UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King: I hate this book. I love this book. I hate it again. I can’t stop reading it. The ending makes me want to burn every Stephen King book I own. I have it in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook. It’s the same for me with almost every Stephen King book, honestly, even if I’m not a fan of his work in recent years. Under the Dome is the last book of his that’s given me what I call the King Feeling: I completely and utterly loathe his characters and characterization, and I really want to know what happens to them and how this story turns out. I think what was unique to me with this one was that I didn’t hate his protagonist, Dale Barbara (Barbie for short). He normally writes the ugliness of the everyman, bringing out the nastier side of people with a sort of vicious glee, but Dale Barbara was the kind of quiet, unassuming, common-sense guy that I can really get behind. He kind of felt like me when I usually read a King story: shaking his head at what all these reprehensible, selfish, bizarre people around him are doing. And I know that doesn’t tell you much about the book, but it’s hard to explain. It’s a long, long book told in bits and puzzle pieces, a skein that slowly winds one thread after another together into a noose that’s part choking horror, part strangling sci-fi, but all about just how broken human nature can be. If you’ve seen the TV mini-series…it’s not that. Not even close. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but the book was better.

5. MAIA by Richard Adams: Yes, that Richard Adams—the author of WATERSHIP DOWN and THE PLAGUE DOGS. This is an old book, and it shows. It’s not for the impatient. It’s not a quick read, with the paperback edition breaking 1,000 pages. It’s not what you would call a romance, this story of a simple peasant girl kidnapped into the life of a concubine in a fictional empire that reflects a dozen ancient cultures…but there’s still a deeply romanticized storyline as we watch this unassuming girl used as a political tool by the colder and cannier people around her, and yet still she never stops hoping to find something good, to make a life for herself outside of these political machinations. And in the end there is a lovely romantic storyline, woven in among sin and intrigue, decadence and murder, war and the history of a strange and shattering nation. It’s the kind of slow-paced storytelling I love, immersive in a deep world of historical fiction with a tiny touch of fantasy magic. I own every edition: every cover, in hardback and paperback; even the library dust jacket versions. It was recently released in e-book, and I bought that too. I don’t think many people would share my love of it, but that’s okay. Sometimes I don’t like it either, which is why sometimes it makes my top five lists and sometimes it doesn’t. I have to be in the mood for it…but when I am, it’s wondrous.


Author Bio and Links 

By day, Cole McCade is a mild-mannered, grouchy, cynical, misanthropic corporate consultant. By night he becomes Nightwing. Well, maybe not. By night he does, however, become an author. Romance, erotica, sci-fi; diverse settings and diverse characters from a diverse author.

Mid-thirties. Coffee addict. Cat lover. Bibliophile. Technophile. Definite sapiophile. Native Southerner without the Southern accent. Runner. Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual mess. Bisexual/queer. Intersectional feminist. Outspoken introvert. Country boy turned city suit. Collector of weird, obscure, or out-of-print books. Aficionado of late-night conversations over live music in seedy bars. Browncoat who can’t decide if he has a bigger crush on Kaylee or Zoe, or Simon or Cap’n Tightpants.

Fascinated by human sociology, and particularly by the psychology of sex and gender – and their effect on relationship expectations, the culture of dating, and what it means to fall in love.


Cole McCade latest release is The Fallen, a prequel to The Lost, and it's available for FREE! I just reviewed both books (actually, it's a few paragraphs on The Fallen but I loved that book so much. It's a powerfully written dark story, not really a romance but a story of coming back to life, learning to love/value/just be yourself again). 


Blurb 

Gabriel Hart is a broken man.

And everyone close to him dies.

His military unit. His sister. His parents. Everyone he's come to care for has been taken from him, leaving him with nothing but a crippling war injury, a Vicodin addiction, and a scraggly, chewed-up rag of a cat. It's enough to make anyone want to check out. And when he holds his service pistol in his hand and presses it against his temple, for the first time in a long time the world feels right.

But he's not as alone as he thinks. And when grizzled bar owner Gary challenges him to honor his sister's memory by repairing her houseboat before he gives up on life, he discovers she left more for him than her belongings. And her letters lead him on a trail through discovering himself, discovering what he truly wants...and discovering that he has the strength to choose his own path.

Purchase links (Free): Amazon / Amazon.co.uk / B&N / iBooks / Smashwords

26 Jan 2016

Review: The Lost by Cole McCade

Title: The Lost (Crow City #1)
Author: Cole McCade
Genre: Contemporary romance, Dark, Abuse
Release Date: 25 Aug 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars



Synopsis

There's something wrong with Leigh.

She's known it her whole life. She knows it every time she spreads her legs. Every time she begs for the pain, the pleasure, the heat of a hard man driving deep inside. She's a slave to her own twisted lusts--and it's eating her alive. She loves it. She craves it. Sex is her drug, and she's always chasing her next fix. But nothing can satisfy her addiction, not even the nameless men she uses and tosses aside. No one's ever given her what she truly needs.

Until Gabriel Hart.

Cold. Controlled. Impenetrable. Ex-Marine Gabriel Hart isn't the kind of man to come running when Leigh crooks her pretty little finger. She loathes him. She hungers for him. He's the only one who understands how broken she is, and just what it takes to satisfy the emptiness inside. But Gabriel won't settle for just one night. He wants to claim her, keep her, make her forever his. Together they are the lost, the ruined, the darkness at the heart of Crow City.

But Leigh has a darkness of her own. A predator stalking through her past--one she'll do anything to escape.

Even if it means running from the one man who could love her...and leaving behind something more precious to her than life itself.

Review


My first book by this author and I'm impressed with his writing and brave to tackle a very dark topic. Before I start this review, a few words of caution. This is a very dark read despite the HEA. It's triggery for a lot of things and though I recommend reading it, still you need to take heed of all the aujtor's warnings at the beginning.

I loved how rich and evocative the writing is despite the rather bleak and desparate tone of the story. I rarely have a clear vision of the characters I'm reading about but here, Mr. McCade described them all in such a vivid way that I had a picture of them in my mind almost from the very beginning. Crow City was also strongly prensent in this story, not just a background to the events, but a force that shapes the characters in many ways. The whole story read very much like a movie too, with richly drawn atmosphere and very, very strong actors' play.

The whole story is told from Leigh's POV of view and being in her head was quite an adventure. There is some going back and forth in time but all the events are told as if happening now, right before our eyes and that made them even more disturbing. The abuse was really graphically presented and I admit that a particular scene was too much for me and I had the skim over some of it.

The suspense plot is also well drawn and some twists and secrets kept me guessing to the end.

I have to admit I have mix feelings about both Leigh and Gabriel. I don't think either of them is the good character in this story. On the surface he is like the knight in shining armour, albeit a little broken himself, who saves the little lost princess. In really neither of them is a princess or a noble knight. They are two people who have both suffered terrible things which have marked and changed them forever.

Some things in Leigh's character remained a mystery for me and I'm not sure how they fit with her character. I don't really know if it's author's failure to convince me they are an intrinsic part of her nature or it's my own inability to make sense of them but I really felt ambiguous about her at times. I liked her and sympathised with her but I also couldn't fully understand some of her decisions and actions.

Same goes for Gabriel. We see less of him and only from Leigh's perspective and I liked a lot about him but some of his actions also seemed questionable to me and left me feeling unsettled.

(Side note: I strongly recommend to read the prequel, The Fallen, which tells the story of Gabriel before he meets Leigh in The Lost. I enjoyed this short novella even more than the full-length novel and feel it gives us an invaluable insight into Gabriel's heart and mind. It's can also be triggery to some people, so approach with caution but still, I loved everything in it - the plot itself, the writing style, the way it fits and complements The Lost.)

I have some other minor quibbles - there were repetitions and I have a major objection to a particular plot point involving Leigh and her son. Still, there are a lot of strong points in this story and despite or rather because of its difficult subject matter, I think it's a worthy read.

There is a lot of violence and abuse and emotional and physical hurt in this story but they are explored in depth without being romanticised or glorified. This book is not perfect, yet it's brave and real and made me think a lot of thoughts for days after I finished it. And that is not something I can say of many of the romances I read!

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Smashwords


22 Jan 2016

Friday Favoruites #18: Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke

This is the first time I'm having two authors for my Friday Favourites post. Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke are a writing duet and co-authors of the Chaos Station series - science fiction romance series. Read on to learn what their favourite things are and there is a short exclusive exceprt of their upcoming release, book 4 in the Chaos Station series, Inversion Point.



1. Favourite place

Kelly: Tasmania, Australia. Tasmania is beautiful. A lot of it is protected, so the population is quite small and mostly scattered around the coast, leaving the interior largely untouched. Mount Wellington (known locally as The Mountain) in Hobart was the first mountain I conquered on foot. I spent so much of my childhood holidays roaming those slopes. 

Jenn: Oh, tough one. I have two: Drumheller, Alberta, and the North Shore of Prince Edward Island. Drumheller was my favourite destination as a kid—I found the hoodoos (rock formations) and promise of dinosaur fossils fascinating! Now that I live on the other site of the country, “the Island” is my getaway of choice, though. It is absolutely idyllic, with its red sand beaches and gentle rolling hills and dunes. A perfect place to soak up some peace (and maybe write a bit!).


2. Favourite food and drink

Kelly: Pizza. It’s all the food groups in one tasty package. I like the crust not too thin, but definitely not thick. It should have crunch when you bite into it and a good amount of chew. Not too much sauce and go easy on the cheese. Kalamata olives and anchovies, please. As for drink, I’m an Aussie. Give me all the beer. I have probably toured more breweries than I have museums. There’s actually a really awesome brewery (Cascade) nestled into the foothills of Mt. Wellington and I have fond memories of that hoppy, yeasty smell. When I’m not drinking beer, I drink tea. 

Jenn: I’ve got to go with the homemade perogies my family makes every winter before Christmas. No, we’re not Ukrainian or Polish, but we picked up the tradition when we lived in Edmonton, Alberta. It’s a family endeavor to make them, and then we serve them, fried, with bacon, onion and sour cream on Christmas morning. SO. GOOD.

As for favourite drink… give me a cold Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale with a shot of lime cordial. Perfect complement to a hot summer day.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song

Kelly: A perennial favourite is Underworld. Anything Underworld. I particularly love their collaborations with John Murphy for movie soundtracks (Sunshine and 24 Days Later). 

Jenn: Alternative rock is my favourite musical genre. Right now I’m loving Twenty One Pilots and Death From Above 1979, but you can’t go wrong with classics like the Foo Fighters or Our Lady Peace. 

4. Favourite movie/TV series

Kelly: Just one?? Okay, how about a tie between The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and 2001: A Space Odyssey. My favourite TV shows get replaced from year to year by the new shiny but I can always watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Always.

Jenn: Knight Rider. I was all about KITT as a kid and I desperately wanted the attempt at remaking the series in 2008 to succeed (spoiler alert: it didn’t). But I own the original series on DVD and I’ve watched (and re-watched) every episode with my kids.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby

Kelly: Reading, gaming (PC/Xbox/board games/RPGs), drawing, hiking, gardening, eating, sleeping.

Jenn: Reading and gaming. Shining up and driving my Camaro when I take it out of the garage for the summer. 

Favourite books 

Kelly’s List—All Time Favourites


Dune by Frank Herbert
One of the few books I’ve actually re-read. It’s just such an amazing story. It’s about faith—one of my personal favourite journeys—civilization, love, family, obligation. It’s a wonderful, wonderful book.

Glasshouse by Charles Stross
The scope of Stross’ imagination never fails to astound me. His world (he tends to write most of his far future SF in just the one) is so well conceived. Also, it’s post singularity, which is one of my pet subjects. What sets Glasshouse apart from his other novels, though, is the faux-twenty-first century setting, which basically takes everything that is wrong or weird about our society and turns it inside out. Imagine looking back at how we live and love from about a thousand years in the future. Then there is the journey of Robin, the main character. The questions of personality, sexuality, love and what memories are required to make up a lifetime of experience.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book WRECKED me. I cried for a week after I finished reading it. Ishiguro’s books sneak up on you. You’re not sure if you’re enjoying them at first. They’re almost boring, but not quite. There’s something going on beneath the text that keeps you hooked. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS. I wish I did. Before you know it, the book has you captured and you can’t put it down until you’re done, even though it’s emotional torture to keep reading. Never Let Me Go is another book about faith. It’s also about love, family and humanity—and all the horrible things we do to one another. 

March by Geraldine Brooks
March is the story of Peter March, as imagined from the content of the letters he sends home in Little Women. It’s assumed, of course, that his letters are much more optimistic than his actual experience. Much more. This was the first novel of the Civil War I’d ever read and I found it fascinating—not only as a way to learn the history that I was supposed to find interesting during my school years, but as a character study. What it was to be a father, husband, soldier, man—in that time. The relevancy to any time period won’t be lost on the reader, either. It’s also a glimpse at the absolute brutality of that war. It’s a really, really engrossing book.

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
I had a really hard time picking a fifth book. There were so many I wanted to recommend. The final choice came down to two—this one and Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell. Seeing as I’d already included a war story (of an entirely different calibre) I went with Ripley. If you haven’t read this book, you must. It’s short! And oh so mesmerising. Also, like The Great Gatsby, always relevant. In fifty years, this book will have the same meaning, regardless of setting, you know? What’s it about? Yearning is the first word that comes to mind. It’s also about the search for identity. 

Jenn’s Favourite Books 

Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde series 
Is it too strong for me to say that these books changed my life? Maybe…but before I read these books, I didn’t know urban fantasy was a thing. The way Mercedes Lackey blended magic/fantasy with reality really stuck with me and I would say it definitely influenced my writing.

Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series
Cut & Run was not the first male/male book I read (I think it was the second!), but this was the first m/m series I followed from start to finish. Ty and Zane will always have a special place in my heart.

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane
This is one of those books I can read and re-read. Rusty…oh my god, Rusty. He’s just one of those characters that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. 

Mary Calmes’s A Matter of Time series…or her Marshals series…or her Change of Heart series…or…
Yes, I’m a big Mary Calmes fangirl. Her books are like warm blankets and I love pulling them out when I need a good comfort read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read the A Matter of Time series (and I adore Jory, but I fall in love with Sam a little more every time). 

The Life Lessons series by Kaje Harper
The story of closeted cop Mac coming to terms with loving out-and-proud Tony in the open is just wonderful. There are fantastic emotions in these books, but also a great dose of police procedural, which I love reading.



Authors Bio and Links
Jenn and Kelly met in 2009 through a mutual infatuation with a man who wasn’t real. After all but crashing the video game’s forums with daily dissection of their obsession, they started writing together, discovered they really liked writing together and began plotting stories in worlds of their own creation.

The CHAOS STATION series aren’t the first books they’ve written together, and they’re pretty sure they won’t be the last. As long as their so-called smartphones keep making autocorrects that trigger brainstorming sessions, they’ll have enough character ideas and plots to keep them writing for years to come.

www.chaosstation.com

Connect with Jenn: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website


Inversion Point (Chaos Station #4) 

Synopsis

Zander and Felix's relationship has been to the brink and back: the Human-Stin War, imprisonment and death/resurrection. Zander's death, to be specific, and the experience has left him…changed. The mysterious race known as the Guardians chose to revive him and appointed him as their emissary. A high honor, but he could do without the group of would-be cultists following him around the galaxy.

When a recently discovered species destroys a stin probe, Zander's new role soon commands all of his time and focus. The human ambassador—Felix's ex-lover, much to Zander’s annoyance—pulls them into strategy talks aimed at preserving galactic peace. Soon everyone is relying on Zander's Guardian tech to telepathically communicate with the strange aliens.

Only Felix seems concerned with the strain piling up on Zander, but he has his own resolve tested when the very stin that imprisoned him show up to a summit. Zander and Felix will both have to find a way to face their doubts and preserve their love—while preventing another galaxy-wide war.

Available January 25! Pre-order links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Carina Press


Excerpt


“I think Zed’s jealous of Theo,” Felix said.

One of Elias’s brows quirked. “Well, that’s ridiculous. Who would be jealous of a guy who looks just like him and has a weird habit of touching you? All over, all the time.”

“They look nothing alike.”

“Seriously? You don’t see the resemblance?”

Dipping his chin, Felix sought to ignore the color creeping across his cheeks. “I didn’t go looking for Theo, you know. Back then. He found me. Chased me. Wouldn’t stop bugging me until I went hiking with him.”

“Was he always so touchy-feely?” Elias could be touchy-feely too, but never inflicted himself on people who didn’t deserve it.

Eyeing the nice spread of cushions between them, Felix thought about that difference and why Theo’s seemingly casual touches stood out. “Yeah. He touches people. He always did. I asked him about it once and he…” Unbidden, a smile caught his mouth.

“Uh-oh.”

“No, not that.” Felix flapped a hand between them. “Well…Shit. I’m not going to discuss an ex with you. It’s bad enough that Zed wants to know all about it. What everyone seems to be overlooking is the fact I left Theo twelve years ago. Broke it off. Decided we should be friends. And I did that so I could wait for Zed, and have been pretty much waiting for Zed ever since. You think I’d waste all that time if Theo was the one?”

“Waste?”

“Spend. Whatever. I love Zed. The whole galaxy knows that. Even the fucking Guardians know it.”

“Yeah, but men are dumb. Maybe you need to remind him.”

Felix stared hard at Elias. “You’ve been spending too much time with Nessa.”

Elias returned a grin. “Never a bad thing.”

No, it wasn’t.



20 Jan 2016

Review: Fighting Dirty by Lori Foster

Title: Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4)
Author: Lori Foster
Genre: Romantic suspense, MMA fighters
Release Date: 23 Feb 2015

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars



Synopsis

With the life he's led and the muscles he's gained, Armie Jacobson isn't afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter's effect on him. It's not just that she's his best friend's little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that's all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life. 

Good girl meets bad boy. It's a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they're both about to learn what's truly worth fighting for


Review


This is the final book in the Ultimate series, contemporary romance series focused on the lives of group of professional fighters. I have been waiting for Armie's story since we met him in the first novel in the series, Hard Knocks (telling Cannon's story) and the bits and pieces of him we saw in the next books only made me more excited to read about him.

I'm very happy that his story didn't disappoint, it was a balanced combination of sweet and sexy with some suspense thrown in the mix. I dmit it's a fairly typical best friend and little sister trope but done well and pretty engaging which made it great fun to read. 

I liked Armie a lot and liked even more the way he was with Merissa. We all knew of his wild past and though we don't see it directly here, I'm glad was not completely erased or glossed over just because he fell in love with Merissa. At the same time Merissa, while not as experienced as him, wasn't a virgin or the tame and clueless female we so often see in romance. They both changed their ways to meet each other in the middle and it was no real hardship since it felt right for both of them. She took initiative, acted bold and he overcame his feeling of not being good enough, not deserving someone like her.

I loved the romance in this story, it was rich and nuanced and felt both dreamy and real. Armie and Merissa had a lot of things to work through in their relationship and I really appreciate that the author showed how being with someone requires effort and committment on both sides. The chemistry was there, the attraction was strong (and so long standing for both them that at times it was just irresistible), yet real life posed numerous obstacles in their way. Add to this some inner turmoil and insecurities and you get a capitvating modern romance.

A thing I like a lot in this series is the camaraderie between the fighters and their partners/wives. It was strongly present here and thoroughly enjoyed the funny banter, the good-natured ribbing and jokes between all of them. The sex shop scene in particular had me in fits of laughter.

A minor complaint I want to voice is some degree of slut-shaming I felt with respect to Armie's previous partners. I think it's something present thoroughout the series, presenting the previous women in the hero's life as conniving, unworthy, only interested in sex or somehow trapping the hero into a relationship. It's just an undercurrent I get in this series and I'm not very happy about it. 

Overall, for me this is the best book in series and I can highly recommend it to all fans of Lori Foster's writing. I'm already looking forward to reading the spin off about the rest of the fighters.

Pre-order links: Amazon / B&N / iBooksKobo


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...