Review: Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3), by C. S. Pacat

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3)Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like earlier books in this series, ‘Kings Rising’ had my rapt attention from beginning to end. This book was action-packed and full of emotion. It broke my heart, only to piece it back together slowly. I loved every minute!

This book sees both Damen and Laurent fighting to reclaim their kingdoms. Despite their differences, the two are forced into a tenuous alliance. They need one another, if either of them hopes to succeed. This makes for plenty of emotional highs and lows along the way as the two attempt to navigate through their new realities. In many ways, the tables have turned. At the same time, so much remains unchanged.

Finally, all of Damen’s secrets are out in the open. No longer does he live in fear of what will happen when Laurent finds out who he really is. Instead, he now lives with his wrath. If he thought that Laurent would be angry, he was right.

To say that I found this a little hypocritical is putting it mildly. I kept thinking, “where does Laurent get off?” After all, Damen was his slave by force. Of course he would keep a secret like that. What did he expect him to do, tell his captor his true identity and face certain death?

That feeling only grew stronger as Laurent revealed some secrets of his own. I mean, where did he get off being so self-righteous? It seemed to me that Damen was played, yet again. If anything, Laurent proved, once again, to be one of the most manipulative characters that I’ve ever encountered.

Even so, I cannot deny that I absolutely loved this book. Every interaction between Damen and Laurent was like a delicious little drop of heaven for me. I spent the moments between their encounters holding my breath, waiting for their next interaction. It was pathetic really, but I have no shame.

In the end, I was left feeling quite satisfied. I wasn’t sure that these two would ever get there, but they eventually get some peace. I’m not a big fan of M/M romances generally, but I absolutely loved this series. It was heartfelt and sexy, with plenty of action along the way. The characters and storyline were well-developed and engaging. I would definitely recommend this series to others.

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Review: The Bad Guy, by Celia Aaron

The Bad GuyThe Bad Guy by Celia Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love dark romance and stories with captivity themes are among my favorites. So when I read the blurb for ‘The Bad Guy’, I was sure that it would be right up my alley. I wasn’t wrong. It was just the type of “reformed” bad guy story that I love.

When Sebastian Lindstrom sets eyes on the girlfriend of one of his company’s executives, he is determined to have her by any means necessary. A highly-functional psychopath, he doesn’t conform to the social constraints of polite society. He sets out to possess her. Stalking, kidnapping and manipulation are all on the table.

Camille Briarlane has the “perfect” boyfriend. He’s patient and doting. She knows that he wants to take their relationship to the next level. She only wishes that she felt half as passionate about him as she did for her teaching job. She’s not sure what is holding her back, but something is.

When Camille accepts a job over Christmas break as a researcher in the Amazon, she has no idea that she’s walking into a trap. Instead of being taken to the airport, she is taken prisoner. The sexy man that she once danced with at her boyfriend’s company’s party has stolen her. It is clear that he is unhinged and will go to any length to have her. She only hopes that she can get out alive.

I should be clear that this book is far different from most dark romances with a captivity theme. If you’re looking for a really dark story with whips, chains and an abusive anti-hero, you won’t find it here. It just wasn’t that type of story.

Yes, Sebastian kidnaps Camille. Yes, he holds her captive in his family’s countryside mansion. At times she even fears him.

However, Sebastian has no intention of physically harming her. He comes off as determined to woo her and absolutely clueless about how to make that happen. He knows that Camille is the woman for him, even if he doesn’t understand “normal” emotions. He is sure that given enough time, she will come to realize that they are meant to be together also.

As messed up as the situation was, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Sebastian. There was an underlying vulnerability and even innocence to him that is hard to pinpoint. He didn’t feel things in the same way as others, but Camille brought out his humanity.

Eventually, Sebastian has to face some hard truths. He realizes that he cannot make Camille love him. The harder he tries to force her hand, the more she will slip away. He begins to grow a conscience.

Likewise, Camille has to come to some realizations about her life. Her “perfect” boyfriend is not so perfect after all. Right or wrong, she has feelings for Sebastian that she needs to evaluate.

Overall, this ended up being a great book. It is a standalone and didn’t leave me with any unanswered questions. It was different than other captivity-themed romances, but that only made it stand out from the rest. If you want a taboo love story that toes the line without leaping into “dark” territory, this is a great choice.

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Review: The Unbroken Line of the Moon (Sagan om Valhalla, #4; The Valhalla Series, #4), by Johanne Hildebrandt

The Unbroken Line of the Moon (Sagan om Valhalla #4; The Valhalla Series - English Translation Order #1)The Unbroken Line of the Moon by Johanne Hildebrandt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I purchased this audiobook based upon the recommendation of a friend. I didn’t realize at the time that this book was actually the fourth book in a series. That being said, I enjoyed it quite a bit and felt that it was easily read as a standalone. Of course, I can’t really know what I might have missed in the earlier books that might have enhanced my reading experience.

‘The Unbroken Line of the Moon’ is set in the tenth century, when the Vikings and Christians were battling over the Nordic lands that comprise present-day Sweden, Norway, Denmark and England. As this is a period of history that I haven’t spent much time reading about, I can’t speak to whether or not it was an accurate portrayal of this time period. For me, it was an interesting and entertaining introduction to the religious mysticism of that time.

The story opens with the heroine, Sigrid, learning that she is to be wed to Erik, the Swedish king. She doesn’t want to leave her homeland, but understands that it is her duty as a princess to marry in order to secure a better position for her father and her people. Sigrid has been chosen to serve the goddess Freya and has visions of the future.

On the way to meet her future husband, Sigrid meets Sweyn. She is immediately taken aback by the illegitimate son of Harald Bluetooth, the ruler of Denmark. Despite her upcoming nuptials, she and Sweyn have a brief, but intense, love affair.

Sigrid goes on to marry Erik, carrying Sweyn’s child. As Sweyn goes on to achieve success driven by his love for Sigrid, she does whatever she must to secure the safety of their child. Guided by her visions, she manipulates events to ensure that Sweyn lives to fulfill his destiny and claim his crown, even if it means pushing him away from her.

This story was brutal at times, as the Viking battles played out in vivid detail. The gods and goddesses were cruel and harsh often times, demanding bloody sacrifices. Trustworthy friends were in small supply, as Sigrid learned the hard way.

Although this story didn’t have as much romance as I usually prefer, there was enough of a love story to hold my interest. I found myself getting lost in this tumultuous time of the Viking warriors. It was brutal, but intriguing.

All in all, this was a great story and something a little different from my usual reading choices. My only complaint is that Sigrid and Sweyn’s story is not wrapped up completely with this book. I wanted Sigrid to get her HEA after everything that she had been through, but I will have to read further into the series in order to see if that happens or not. I plan to do that sometime soon.

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Review: Bound by Temptation (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #4), by Cora Reilly

Bound by Temptation (Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles, #4)Bound by Temptation by Cora Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth book in the ‘Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles’ series, ‘Bound in Temptation’ is the story of Liliana and Romero. If you’ve read the books in this series in order, you probably remember Lily as Aria and Gianna’s younger sister. You probably also remember the crush that she’s always had on Romero, the older soldier that is Aria’s bodyguard and one of Luca’s most trusted men.

Liliana is growing up and is no longer the child that Romero remembers. Despite his best attempts, he can no longer ignore the beautiful young lady that she has become. She hasn’t grown out of her infatuation with Romero over the years, she’s only become more determined to have him.

Initially, there is a lot of push and pull between Lily and Romero. She keeps coming on to him. He keeps turning her down, while he secretly fantasizes about what it would be like to have her.

Romero does his best to stay loyal to The Family. He’s never wanted anything other than being a loyal soldier, until Lily. Now, he’s forced to betray his heart or betray his vows. I think you can guess what he’ll choose. He is only a man, after all.

I love a forbidden love story, so this one was right up my alley. Add in a dangerous guy with serious bad-boy appeal and I’m hooked! It’s no wonder that I loved Lily and Romero’s story.

While I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that Lily surprised me with her strength. As the youngest sister, she was always portrayed as the silly little girl that was left out of the grown-up conversations before. She definitely came into her own in this book. Honestly, she was kind of a little bad-ass.

Similarly, I really came to appreciate Gianna in this book. While Aria seemed more submissive and happy to be the good little wife to Luca, Gianna wasn’t afraid to stir things up on behalf of her little sister. I absolutely loved Gianna in this book!

Despite the fact that the story was predictable and like many other mafia romances out there, I didn’t care. If it works, it works. This book worked for me. I enjoyed every minute and I don’t feel guilty for it.

The only downside to this story was that there was a large amount of grammatical errors. Incorrect word usage, misspellings and other elementary grammar oversights were pretty common. It was a bit distracting at times. For such a popular series and author, I’d expect the editing to be much better.

Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was predictable, but entertaining. I was left feeling happy and contented. With war on the horizon for the New York and Chicago organizations, I’m curious to see where the next book in the series will lead.

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Review: The Room Mate (Roommates, #1), by Kendall Ryan

The Room MateThe Room Mate by Kendall Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for honest feedback.***

If you’re in the mood for something heartwarming and fun, ‘The Room Mate’ is a fantastic choice. It was just the kind of light-hearted, sweet story that I needed to balance out all of the darker stories that I usually gravitate toward. It was a sentimental, feel-good romance that was highly enjoyable.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical after reading the blurb. The idea of Cannon being some sex-god that women became obsessed with after getting a taste of what he could do between the sheets was a little far-fetched for me. My response was something along the lines of “Oh, please!”

That being said, I’m glad that I didn’t let that initial impression scare me away. This ended up being a great book. I found myself laughing at the sexually-charged banter between Cannon and Paige. It was just such a fun read.

The story begins with Cannon being evicted from his apartment after an incident with his crazy ex-girlfriend. A busy medical student, he doesn’t have the time to find another apartment. Since he’ll likely be moving in two short months to begin a residency, he can’t commit to a new lease either.

Paige is the best friend of Cannon’s sister. When she is contacted by her best friend, who asks her to let Cannon stay with her for awhile, Paige reluctantly agrees. She has known Cannon since they were children and is willing to sacrifice a couple of months of comfort to help out her bestie.

Only, Cannon is no longer the nerdy boy that Paige remembers from her childhood. He has grown into a sexy, successful man that she can’t keep her eyes off of. The sexual chemistry between the two is off the charts right from the start. A few chance encounters only serve to heighten the sexual tension between the two.

It doesn’t take long for their curiosity and lust to win out. It was bound to happen and it did. If they thought that their attraction was something that would wane once they got a taste, they were wrong.

Despite their intense chemistry and the “rightness” of them together, there is plenty of reasons whey these two should not be together. Paige’s friendship with Cannon’s sister is a huge deterrent. Cannon’s career is another. The two decide to keep their relationship casual and hidden.

When a series of tragic events unfold, their relationship is put to the test. Emotions run high and the poor decisions pile up. In no time at all, whatever they had been building seems to have disintegrated.

This book is a standalone that is part of the ‘Roommates’ series. All in all, I thought that this was a fantastic read. It was fun and light-hearted. This is one to save for a day when you need a unicorns and rainbows kind of story. Ms. Ryan delivers the emotional connection and angst that you need, as well as a HEA that will leave you feeling satisfied.

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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1), by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I loved this paranormal fantasy! Although this isn’t my usual genre, I find myself reading a fair amount of paranormal reads lately. Luckily, I saw some great reviews for this book on friends pages, or I might have missed this gem.

From a young age, Feyre has had to bear the responsibility of providing for her crippled father and two helpless sisters. On her deathbed, Feyre’s mother made her promise that she would keep them together and take care of them. When her father’s poor choices cost the family their wealth and status, Feyre is forced to take drastic measures to ensure her family’s survival.

One day, Feyre is hunting in the forest when she kills a large wolf. Unknowingly, she sets off a chain of events that will alter the course of history for the Fae and humankind. The wolf was no regular wolf, but rather a faerie in disguise.

When the faerie’s friend, Tamlin, comes to Feyre’s home to seek justice, she sacrifices herself. She agrees to live her life in the faerie’s territory, forsaking her family, or else she faces certain death. Knowing that she will be unable to fulfill her promise to her dead mother, Feyre leaves with a heavy heart.

From early childhood on, human children are told stories, warning them of the Fae’s cruel treatment of humans. Expecting to be tormented and live a life of unknown terrors, Feyre is surprised to find that her captor provides her with a life of opulence and plenty. No longer does she have to scrounge for food or wood for heat. In fact, she isn’t expected to work or do anything other than whatever she wants within Tamlin’s lands.

Soon, Feyre realizes that there is more going on in her new home than the innocuous activities that meet the eye. There is a darkness that is slowly seeping into Tamlin’s territory, slowly draining his powers and holding his subjects captive. Feyre is not the only one imprisoned in this strange land.

As Feyre spends more time with Tamlin, she finds herself growing fond of her captor. She can relate to the sacrifices that he’s made for the safety of his subjects. Begrudgingly, she comes to realize that her hatred for the Fae may have been entirely unfounded.

In time, Tamlin and Feyre act on their desires. However, just as they are beginning to explore a romantic relationship, the troubles in Tamlin’s lands come to a head. He chooses to send Feyre home, rather than see her become a victim of the same magic that has cursed his lands for years.

Back at home, Feyre realizes the danger that Tamlin is in and knows that she cannot leave him to face that fate alone. She would rather die with him than live without him again.

From the start, I loved every minute of this story. Even when I thought Feyre was acting like an ungrateful, petulant child, I understood why it was necessary for the storyline. The supporting characters, such as Tamlin’s best friend, Lucien, were also captivating and well-developed.

Overall, I loved this story! There was plenty of action and suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat. There was a beautiful love story. Feyre and Tamlin were intriguing characters that had me rooting for them from start to finish. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Now, I’m dying to read the second book. Unfortunately, it isn’t due to be released until May of 2016. If it’s half as good as this one is, it’ll be well worth the wait.

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Review: Complicate Me (The Good Ol’ Boys, #1), by M. Robinson

Complicate Me (The Good Ol' Boys, #1)Complicate Me by M. Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book had been sitting on my TBR list for quite a long time. I am a big fan of M. Robinson’s work. After reading ‘El Diablo’, I knew that I needed to read ‘The Good Ol’ Boys’ series. ‘Complicate Me’ is the first book in that series and it does not disappoint. I loved this angsty, coming of age romance.

Unlike the other books I’ve read by this author, this isn’t a “dark” read. However, don’t mistake that for a lack of emotion or tension. What this book lacks in kink, it makes up for in angst.

Alex, aka “Half-pint”, grows up in a small, close-knit community. As an only child, she plays with the older sons of her parents’ friends. A few years younger, she follows them around everywhere they go and inserts herself into their group. She is “one of the boys” and they look after her.

As they grow up, their relationships change. As the boys indulge in their hedonistic desires, Alex becomes “the child” in the background. The boys are older and are discovering girls, beginning to date and explore their sexuality.

Alex is prevented from experiencing many of the normal rites of passage as she grows a little older. The boys make sure of that. They protect her fiercely, preventing any romantic inclinations that other boys might have toward Alex. They keep her sheltered, even as they fool around with anything in a skirt.

Unlike the other boys, Lucas has never viewed Alex as a sister. They have a special relationship. He is her “Bo”. Lucas loves Alex, but knows that she is too young to act on it. The fact that Alex is off-limits is something that he is frequently reminded of by the other boys.

Instead, Lucas does what is expected of him. He hooks up with the other girls in town that are his age. Alex is forced to watch as Lucas sows his wild oats all over town.

These two never seemed to be able to get on the same page. The timing was never right. Over and over, they broke each others’ hearts. It was a sweet torture to read their story.

As I listened to their story, I empathized with Alex. M. Robinson did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of young love and first heartbreak. The emotions were raw and so real they were almost tangible. I was immediately transported back to my teenage years, remembering the emotional highs and lows of youth that gradually fade over time with the loss of innocence.

There were so many times that I was furious with the decisions that these two made, but I couldn’t quit listening. Lucas, in particular, made some insensitive decisions that damaged his relationship with Alex. Despite his claim to be in love with Alex, Lucas spent a lot of time choosing other girls over her. They spent a lot of time hurting one another before they figured things out.

I absolutely loved this angsty, emotional, coming of age love story. There was plenty of heartache, but it only made this book all that much more addicting. I fell in love with all of the characters. I will definitely be continuing this series.

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Review: Never Never (Part 3), by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never: Part Three (Never Never, #3)Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the third, and final, part of Silas and Charlie’s story. While I didn’t hate the story’s conclusion as much as most of my friends did, I am definitely disappointed. I feel so….underwhelmed.

Charlie and Silas continue digging around, following the clues that they’ve left for themselves. Eventually, they unearth some disturbing truths. The reasons for their relationship’s decline were explained at last, which was kind of sad.

However, after all the build-up and suspense surrounding the reasons for their amnesia, we are given a cheesy, ridiculous reason. Seriously? It was a total let down!

I was willing to accept aliens, government conspiracies/government testing, drugging by one of their angry dads, some sort of accident…virtually anything but what we got. Instead, after all the anticipation, we are given a sweet, but completely unbelievable explanation. It was almost like they just got sick of the story and just wanted to end it quickly. Again, it was disappointing.

That being said, I didn’t completely hate Part Three. There were some very interesting revelations and I was still very engaged right up until the ending. I’m a bit torn because I actually liked most of it, but the ending really dragged it down. So, I’m going to average it and go with a 3-star rating. It started out as a 4, but the ending was a 2.

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