Rachel's books

I'm a registered nurse.  Reading gives me that escape I need.  I read primarily romance in all genres.

 

 

Ante Up

Ante Up: A Sin City Collectors Novella - Amanda  Carlson

For the length, this was well paced. I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I kinda remember the first book, Diesel and Sofia were secondary characters who got their story in this one. This was quick and entertaining. Ginger and Luke are next!

I Am Justice

I Am Justice - Diana Munoz Stewart

I picked this for the cover. I liked it. Justice is an assassin. She is part of a family (all adopted children rescued from various situations) that is rich and has influence. Oh, and they take down human traffickers. Permanently. Sandesh is an ex soldier who runs a humanitarian group (all ex soldiers). Sandesh's group needs money and contracts with Parish Industries (Justice's family).
Based on the description, I shouldn't have been surprised at how dark this went. But I was. I also didn't like how fast Justice and Sandesh's relationship progressed. A slow burn would have worked better IMO because of Justice's background and dislike of most men. I could have done without Walid's (the bad guy) POV. I did like getting Justice's and Sandesh's.
While Justice is kick ass, I thought she had many stupid moments. Like being told to wait and not doing that. She didn't grow on me as the book progressed. I did like the end with Sandesh's question and what he gave her; it showed thoughtfulness and caring. On the other side, the end was a bit abrupt I thought.
When it's all said and done, this was okay and I doubt I will pick up the next one about Grace (which is supposed to be out and it isn't).

For Booklikes Halloween Bingo I read this for the New Release square (came out May 2018).

Truly, Madly

Truly, Madly - Heather Webber

This was just what I wanted to read. A light, paranormal mystery with a side of romance thrown in! See, Lucy is a Valentine and the Valentines have this ability/gift to see auras and match people together. There is also a curse; Cupid's Curse, that follows them around that prevents a Valentine from having everlasting love. When Lucy was 14 she was shocked and lost her ability to see auras. She developed a brand new gift: the ability to find lost objects. However this made her question her identity, her worthiness, and threw her into a tailspin.
Lucy finally found herself in this book. Her parents, Oscar and Judith, have a very unconventional relationship that works for them. I really liked all the characters. This book was funny, fun, and serious. I really enjoyed the mix of paranormal, mystery, and romance. I thought the mystery was a really good one.
Lucy is a very likable character. The same for Sean and Lucy's family and group of friends. I liked that she gave up her trust fund and put herself through college. It was even better when she started to see her gift as something that was unique and beneficial. I look forward to seeing where she can go and who can be helped!
I do think the curse isn't a Curse so much as a self-fulfilling one.
For Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2018, this is my cozy mystery pick.

Dark Cries of Gray Oaks

Dark Cries of Gray Oaks - Lee Karr

I remember when I was a teen enjoying these Zebra Gothics. So when I found this one, I think it was at a thrift store, I bought it! Either I've changed, or this one was a dud (or it's both those things).
I didn't find this that suspenseful. Both Brianna and Gavin annoyed me. Brianna was too stubborn at times. Gavin was too bossy, authoritative. I had to scratch my head at their declaration of love. Huh? They really didn't talk or interact much. When they did, Gavin was condescending (IMO) towards Brianna. I really didn't learn much about either character. I could tell you Gavin was a doctor and Brianna a dedicated daughter to her father. But that's it. This was very superficial. I also didn't like that Gavin (supposedly) is engaged to Lynette and pursues Brianna.
This mentioned the different hotel dining rooms- 1 for guests, and 2 for the workers- 1 for white, 1 for colored. And that was it. Nothing else. 
Oh, and mental illness can be cured if someone cares enough for you.

And the title.  Gray Oaks is the sanitarium up north (Pennsylvania if memory serves) where Cassie was.  This book doesn't take place there at all.  It takes place in St Augustine, FL.  So, ????? 
I'm using this for the Southern Gothic square for Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2018.

Magic Breaks

Magic Breaks -  Ilona Andrews

It took me awhile to pick this one up and it's been 2 years since I've been in KD's world (Magic Rises I read in 2016). I don't know why it took me so long to pick up #7. While I very much remember the events of book 6, I liked the refresher and character list in this one. But this one was, boom, pow, non-stop!
I liked learning more about Ghastek's background, it makes him a bit more likable (I did say a bit!). Major Things happen in this. Just wow!
On a side note: Hugh. I hate that fucking bastard. Knowing that he has his own book (or series?), I'm not sure I'm excited to read it. But at the same time, it's IA and will they make me hate him a little less? A lot less? 

Spoiler behind page break.

Relics and Curiosities square for Halloween Bingo

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Wicked Days

Wicked Days  - Lily Harper Hart

This is one of those books I have to write the review out before settling on a * rating. So Ivy lives in a small town and happens to be a witch. She's around 28 (I think- didn't mention ages, but I know (or assume) it's been at least 10 years since she's been out of high school). Jack is around 30. Jack had Something Bad happen and he decided to move to Shadow Lake from Detroit. Re: the Something Bad- I know he got shot and there is a mention of a betrayal. What happened (I'm assuming) will be revealed in a future book.
Ivy finds a body in her yard on Jack's first day on the job. There is an instant connection between Ivy and Jack. But, very little romance in this one. There is a lot (A LOT) of back and forth with Ivy and Jack. They felt younger than the ages they are supposed to be. Jack sees Ivy with her brother and automatically assumes she lied to him about having a boyfriend. Ivy was rude to her aunt.
I thought this was weird too- Ivy's father confronting Jack on his interest in Ivy/Ivy's interest in him. Um, Micheal, you just met Jack. Jack and Ivy have known each other for a few weeks? Just weird. 
After all the "I'm not looking for a relationship," (from both) and the constant reminding of Ivy being a witch, I was just tired and irritated. At the least the mystery wasn't too bad. 

Rogue Countess

Rogue Countess - Amy Sandas

I will come right out and say this- I am not a big fan of the forced marriage/abandonment trope. But I've read a book by this author that I really liked, so I thought I would give this one a try. 
Anna was married at 16. She was found in bed with Jude. Jude happened to be engaged to Anna's sister Olivia. Jude is forced to do the honorable thing and marries Anna. He then impulsively leaves the country and travels for the next 8 years. Anna is left alone. Luckily, Jude's father is supportive and Anna learns all about horses and racing. It turns out, she's one smart cookie.
Fast forward 8 years, after he father's dead, Jude returns. I have very mixed feelings. I really liked Anna. She is smart, independent. I thought she deserved so much more. I really didn't like how Jude blamed Anna for the marriage when she was just as much a victim (granted, he didn't know it, but still I was very annoyed, disappointed). I didn't like his treatment of her and I thought he come-around at the end was too quick. I felt there was no groveling, apology. His confession of love didn't ring true to me. 
Some things annoyed me: while married, Jude engaged in numerous affairs in his travels. Anna, true to the trope, remained chaste. After they've made the initial "re-connection," Anna comes across his mistress at the hotel. 
I did like the story line about the marriage and Anna's family. I was invested in the story. I'm glad Lief is getting a story, I liked his character. 

Forged in Fire

Forged in Fire - Tricia Owens
Anne and her crew are back. While at a festival, they come across a dead werewolf. However, this is Anne and nothing is so simple. To keep non-magical beings from seeing, and to attempt to find out more, they take the dead werewolf with them. 
Las Vegas is over a rift to Hell; the Western Infernus Rift. The demon Vagasso is trying to open it. The demon, the rift; all comes to a (satisfying) conclusion. I did not expect there to be a cliff hanger ending. But there is. 
Spoiler:
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Curious

Curious (The Finn Factor) (Volume 1) - R.G. Alexander
Jeremy and Owen have been best friends and have known each other for most of their lives. Owen happens to be straight. Jeremy happens to be bisexual. Jeremy has been secretly in love with Owen and I'll say vice versa. Owen has been "curious" about what sex with Jeremy would be like.
This was HOT. Just looking at it from an erotica standpoint, this was well done. Hot, hot, hot sex scenes. My eye balls were on fire! But, while I do like erotica, I like it even better when there is more of a plot too. This was weak (IMO) on plot and character development. I feel this is important to note: NO SLUT SHAMING! 
For me:
Jeremy- parents kicked him out, didn't like their bisexual son. Lived with Aunt. Considers the Finns to be his family.
Owen-a Dom at the local club, Jeremy's BF
Tasha-Jeremy's female fuck buddy (not anymore) and Jeremy's 2nd BF
Jen- youngest Finn. Broke engagement to asshole.
Seamus- owns the bar, single father (4? kids)
Stephen- senator. He and Tasha have a thing. Seamus's twin.
 
 
 

 

Skirting the Ice

Skirting the Ice - Jennie Marts


Murphy was the girl next door, coming for periods of time to stay with her grandfather while her father was away at work. The Bannisters lived next door. Murphy was friends with all of them, but the closest with Jack. She was in love with Jack and vice versa. Then her dad got a job that didn't require travel and she left, never coming back. Fast forward about 10 years later.
Murphy's grandpa died, leaving her his house. Jack lives on his parents property in an apt above the garage. Murphy is putting down roots and hoping to turn her hockey team into a professional women's one.
This was a nice 2nd chance story. Both have their own insecurities that (almost) jeopardize their relationship. I could both empathize and understand those insecurities. However, Jack's attitude/insecurity over things he had no control over (his asthma for ex) really got on my nerves. One of the reasons I wanted to read his story is because he is NOT like his hockey brothers.
I thought Murphy's stalker was unnecessary.
(5 brothers- Owen, Bane, Jack, Nathan, Beau)

A Shift in the Water

A Shift in the Water - Patricia D. Eddy
I was pleasantly surprised. Mara is dying. She has a blood disorder that no one can figure out and is transfusion dependent. The only time she feels better is when she is in the water.
Cade is a born werewolf. He father made an enemy who murdered him and is not after Cade. Katerina captures him and traps him in his wolf form. He is held prisoner, tortured, and slowly starved to death. 
Cade is able to escape and finds Mara. Being around Cade's wolf, Mara feels better. Mara helps heal both the wolf and the man. I liked both Cade and Mara. What I especially liked was Cade is not a typical alpha. I thought they fit very well. Their attraction and love gradually builds, no insta-love here. That was also a plus. 
Mara's chosen family and Cade's pack are supportive and add to the interplay between the 2 main characters. 
One of Katerina's coven, Bella, might actually be someone else. (Liam's love jumped off a cliff and her body was never found, she was an air elemental like Bella).
 
 

 

Halloween Bingo

 

Picks, subject to change--> because of course they have to!

1st row

Ghost Stories:  The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Creepy Carnivals: Wicked Weaves by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Genre: Horror: Dreadful Skin by Cherie Priest

Spellbound:  A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly Harper

Relics and Curiosities:  Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews- finished 9/10

2nd

Genre: Suspense: Barefoot With a Bodyguard by Roxanne St Clair

Baker Street Irregulars: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

Cryptozoologist: Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

13: She Hulk by Marta Acosta

Cozy Mystery: Truly Madly by Heather Webber

3rd

Terror in a Small Town: 

Dead Lands: Once Bitten, Twice Burned by Cynthia Eden

Free Space:  Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

New Release: I Am Justice by Diana Munoz Stewart

Diverse Voices: Black Lace by Beverly Jenkins

4th

Doomsday:  Married With Zombies by Jesse Peterson

Supernatural: Possessing the Witch by Elle James

Fear the Drowning Deep: Tsunami Blue by Gayle Ann Williams

Modern Masters of Horror: Dead Spots by Rhiannon Frater

Country House Mystery: Ghost of a Chance by Katie MacAllister

5th

Southern Gothic: Dark Cries of Gray Oaks by Lee Karr- finished 9/15

Darkest London: Firelight by Kristin Callihan

Shifters: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

Terrifying Women: A Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister

Murder Most Foul: Lowcountry Boil by Susan Boyer (would work for small town too)

 

 

The victims, I mean books:

Darkest Heart

Darkest Heart - Juliette Cross

eARC courtesy of NetGalley and Entangled Publishing.
Release date: 8/20/18

Anya, former guardian of children turned angelic warrior is bitten by a demon prince. The bite will eventually allow him to control her. Only one individual can help, Uriel. Problem is, he is missing. Enter Dommiel. Dommiel is a fall angel, now a high demon. However, he is outcast amongst the demons. Together, these two must find Uriel.
Overall, I enjoyed this. I thought the world was dark and ugly, but interesting. Angels and demons are at war. Interestingly, neither side cares about the humans who are caught in the middle. Demons use humanity as slaves. Neither side cares if they get in the way- it's a consequence of war. There is violence and torture, talk of rape. 
Both Anya and Dommiel are likable. I could get on board with their love story even though 2 tired old tropes are evident. This one: Dommiel has so much experience (because of course he does!) and Anya didn't (yes, she's been in existence for hundreds of years but has remained a VIRGIN. Because that's was GOOD women do). And this one: "Catching a glimpse of his growing arousal-to a size I'd not known was possible-I gasped and ran out of the bathroom...." *Sigh*
I thought the character Bone was intriguing and I would like to learn more about her.
I did like that in this one, just because a character was an angel didn't automatically equal good. And vice versa, being a demon didn't automatically equal bad. Many shades of gray. This is a spin off of the Vessel trilogy (first book Forged in Fire) and I think if I had read that first, I would have enjoyed this more.

In Still Darkness

In Still Darkness (Immortal Guardians) - Dianne Duvall

I remember in Night Reigns and Phantom Shadows Richart meeting someone and developing a relationship with them (all off the page). It was nice to read Jenna and Richart's story; seeing how they first met, dated. Even though this was short, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. It all worked!

Touch of Frost

Touch of Frost - Jennifer Estep

I've been meaning to start this series since I've enjoyed her "Bigtime" series. Nice shout out to Karma Girl BTW. If there was a shout out for her "Elemental Assassin" series- I missed it since I haven't started that one yet. 
Gwen is a gypsy and she has the gift of psychometry. She can touch anything and get the history of the object, or feelings if a person. I found I was annoyed with Gwen for part of the book because of her disbelief of mythology (it's not real!). Come on, she has a gift, her mom, and grandmother too, so her whole attitude was aggravating. I thought she was judgmental, dismissive; however, by the end she was much less so. She learned, which was a plus.
I was a little disappointed in the shallowness of all the teenagers. Especially the girls. I am glad that Daphne was more than she seemed and made the first move towards friendship with Gwen. Morgan was called a slut so many times I didn't appreciate that (and the guys that slept with her? Meh.). On the flip side, Logan, was referred to a "man whore" a few times. 
Not sure how I feel about (I'm assuming) the future love interest. On the plus side, it's a slow burn. On the negative side, he is openly dating (and I assume sleeping) with other people. Not. Crazy. About. That. I think Gwen deserves better.
Nice twist with the murder mystery, Jasmine, Nike, Vic, etc.
Oh and did you know Gwen's mom is Grace and she is a Gypsy? 
YA square for Ripped Bodice Bingo (and that gives me a blackout!).

First Frost

First Frost (Mythos Academy, #0.5) - Jennifer Estep

Introduces Gwen and her paranormal ability. This is short and tells how her mom died and it was decided that she attend Mythos Academy. A few characters are introduced. Calling it now- Logan is going to be the love interest.

Professional Reader2016 NetGalley Challenge Reviews Published 80%