Free Book on World Kindness Day

overdrive cover
Cover Artist Justin James

Today is #WorldKindnessDay so Dreamspinner and the kind Ariel Tachna are offering this race-car driver romance free through November 14, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET.

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/overdrive-by-ariel-tachna-68-b

 

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Review: Warlock In Training by T.J. Nichols, Studies In Demonology 1

warlock-in-training-cover
Cover Artist: Catt Ford

I would rate this 4.75 stars.

When Angus realizes that what his parents taught him is not always true, he needs to find his own path in life and while is it not what his parents want, it might be what the world needs. Angus is in a magic school, learning how to summon a demon to steal his magic. Eventually when a demon is drained of magic, they are usually killed. There are wizards who have magic, but do not make themselves stronger by taking magic from demons.

There are so many interesting what-ifs in Angus’ mind. I love the different types of demons. Angus doesn’t want to summon a demon in class so he can fail out; he gets a sexy demon instead and gets yanked into Demonside/Arlyxia. Saku needs a warlock to rebalance his world due to the humans taking magic from it. The whole way humans are exploiting the demons and magic itself became more horrifying once I got to see demon civilization. The higher warlocks in Humanside obviously know what is happening, but are too greedy for their own power to care. There are three ways to rebalance the magic, but the most fun is sex magic. I vote yes. If you don’t like knives and blood play, this may not be the book for you. There is a lot of violence and sex in this world.

The world-building here is intriguing. Miniti is the ruthless leader in Demonside and trying to save her people. Humans are the ones that starting breaking the unwritten agreements between them set in place hundreds of years ago after the demon wars. The more magic humans take, the colder and wetter their world is becoming. Warlocks in Vinland are storing the magic somehow. Meanwhile, Demonside is becoming a desert–the demons becoming like Saharan desert natives. Usi is another demon mage like Saku, only she uses blood magic and gives the souls to Miniti. The danger is clear: when beings are backed into a corner with nothing to lose, violence is a likely result.

Angus and Saku are now bound together until one of them dies. When Angus is retrieved from Demonside and the warlocks, including his father, try to take his memories away that he is left feeling betrayed, confused, and frightened. Is is better to stay at the Warlock College and continue to learn magic in order to fix what is wrong? In essence, he becomes a double agent. He could be killed by either side. He seeks out his ex, Jim, in the wizard underground for help. Saku has his own help from the mage council, but not all mages are happy with watching their world die while waiting for the humans to get a clue and do the right thing. The parallels with what we are doing to our workers and our natural resources, the despair and climate change, are obvious.

Terrence becomes his college tutor, but he is also part of the underground. I hope to see more of him in future books as a way to give Angus an anchor in the human world. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. Let me just say I loved everything about this story. I can’t think of anything I’d change.

 

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Review: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

Better Not Pout Cover
Carina Press does in house covers.

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

When I read the blurb that a military policeman and an elf get caught in a snowstorm, I knew I had to read the book. I’d read anything by this author anyway, but that’s just too much fun to pass up, right? The Sergeant Major is doing a favor for his CO by playing Santa for a charity event. Teddy is the director of a charity resource center for low income people and volunteers to be an elf. As Nick and Teddy get thrown together, they’re acting like more than a hookup, but there is a short timeframe on this romance as Nick is about to retire in a month and move away from base.

There’s a bit of an age difference here with Nick the grumpy “old man” in his forties and Teddy as the enthusiastic, sweet guy in his late twenties, but this is not Daddy kink. While you might expect this to be fluff, the characters are people who know life is not all fluffy. The connection Nick fights is real, the sex hot. I found them both cute in their own way. I enjoyed the alternating POV. I wanted these guys to get their happily ever after, and yes I could see all the ducks lining up in a row to make that happen, but it was no less charming. There was some angst to get there, not because anything awful happens, but because sometimes things don’t work out because people decide they won’t, rather than deciding that they will. That’s what made me cry.

The author does a good job of making me feel like I was watching all this, like I was at all the events. There are a few family members or friends highlighted–nothing that stands out a lot, but enough that the story feels three dimensional. People say you can’t fall in love in a month, but I was engaged a week after I met my spouse. This isn’t instalove; Nick and Teddy know everything they need to know about each other and have built a good foundation. The last chapter takes place a year later and shows what building a life together looks like. This was realistic, sweet, romantic, sexy, and I liked the characters.

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Review: A Deceptive Alliance by Sydney Blackburn

adeceptivealliance-cover

The cover art is by Natasha Snow.

 

 

I would rate this 4 stars.

The book starts out with Kel marrying Princes Darian’s proxy, Duke Savoy, dressed as his sister who has run off. But this was Kel’s solution to the crisis, and it might have been an unwise one. I’m sure you see the problem right away–if Kel falls in love with the Prince, the Prince is still actually married to Isabel. This has a touch of Shakespeare to it that is quite fun, but the idea that his sister would be able to sneak up on a royal guarded caravan and switch places with him en route to the other kingdom seems ridiculous.

What I didn’t like was Kel’s justification that it was a better situation for Isabel having an arranged marriage since she might at least have the chance of falling in love with her husband (since she is heterosexual) whereas in his arranged marriage he had no chance (since he is gay and not bisexual). She could also be married to a violent man would would abuse and control her so, that is a crappy thought to write for Kel to have–especially since he is about to become the lord and master of his own estate. I’m unclear here whether the author means to make a statement on how some cis, gay, rich, white men think about women, or if this is entirely thoughtless. It’s a few sentences, but I didn’t like it and it took me totally out of the book. Gratefully, much of the book focuses on Kel realizing how much his sister was constrained by societal expectations and he experiences his own sexual assault, which hopefully makes him more sympathetic.

Over the journey to the city of Seagate in Pervayne, Kel as Isabel, becomes close with Dare, the Prince’s esquire. But Dare is not who he seems either. While I was happy with the way everything happens when it is discovered that Kel is a man, it was also strange that they act like they are actually married rather than acknowledging the prince is actually married to Isabel. This is eventually brought up upon the arrival of the real Isabel, but quickly dismissed.

There is no getting around that Kel is in the traditional female role of giving up his name, property, title, and his job, for this marriage. That’s why when everything doesn’t go as planned, I liked getting to see Kel as himself. Even though there is a place for the non-binary in this society, known as Kindred, that is not really who Kel is.

There is so much to like here that I find myself being critical because it could have been even better with just a little tweaking. Still, I enjoyed what was here and could see myself reading it again. There is a charm about it. If you like romance books set in a medieval type fantasy setting such as those by Megan Derr, I would recommend trying this.

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Review: Shadow Realm by Jackie Keswick, Dornost Saga, Shades 2

shadow realm cover
Cover Art by Emma Griffin

I would rate this 4.25 stars.

Here is the link to my review of the first story, Sword Oath, which I thought was a prequel, but turned out to be book one. It was a short read and I would recommend you read it first as it establishes who Madan and Serrai are and how they came to be where they are. There are worse things than death, it seems.

When Madan and Serrai were given their choice by the Fates, they didn’t get to read the fine print. Now, their afterlife is not quite what they expected. They’ve been in the Shadow Realm three years. The details are teased out as the reader is thrown into the action. There are so many interesting ideas here that could be explored, but are presented like tapas. I wouldn’t mind dinner.

Given a dangerous task by Grace, the youngest Fate, Madan and Serrai each have their own part to complete. The alternating POV help us understand each characters thoughts and motivations as well as building the tension. While Serrai holds the veil open, Madan has to find the Shades who have escaped. This reminded me of a medieval, pagan, fantasy version of that tv show named Brimstone with Peter Horton, only Madan only has to find 4 Shades and not 113 souls. Once again, I enjoyed that epic high fantasy feel, in a short story. Normally I don’t like so much of a book being in the characters’ (or the author’s) heads with little dialog–here it is essential as most of the battles they face are psychological. The Fates also like to mess with them and have their own agenda. Again, it comes down to the love they have for each other and the author shows that well in a way that makes me root for them. I can’t wait for the next adventure. I also wouldn’t mind other adventures as the world building continues. These could easily be keep as short stories set in different realms/time periods, or interwoven between the living and the dead as novels.

The cover art is by Emma Griffin and fits in with the series, put looks more spooky than the cover of the first book, which is fitting.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Trusted (Until You #3) by Karrie Roman — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 This starts three days after the events of the previous book and focuses on Zach, the cult leader’s son, who was rescued during an FBI raid on the compound. He may have had a crush on Ben for helping rescue him, but it’s Ben’s brother Cameron who is helping […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Trusted (Until You #3) by Karrie Roman — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Bad Habit (Bad in Baltimore #6) by K.A. Mitchell — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 Scott and Liam have a history. It’s hard not to love them both right away and want to protect them as children in foster care. The author only spends enough time here to establish the relationship and how heartbreaking it is when they’re separated. When they find each other […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Bad Habit (Bad in Baltimore #6) by K.A. Mitchell — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: One Step Back by Edie Danford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 Asher is the good boy nerd and Joe is the bad boy jock. Joe’s mom and Asher’s dad have been dating for four years and are about to get married before everything falls apart. Eleven years later, Asher and Joe meet again at a business meeting when they realize […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: One Step Back by Edie Danford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: A Deeper Blue (The Game #2) by S.E. Harmon — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5 This is the second book in the series and should be read in order for maximum emotional impact. A year later, Blue is still basically in the closet. Happily ever afters are work. So, I’m not going to lie: I was upset about Blue using a beard. Keeping this […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: A Deeper Blue (The Game #2) by S.E. Harmon — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words