Sunday, November 22, 2015

Waking Hearts ~ Cambio Springs Series #3 ~ Book Review

Title:  Waking Hearts
Series:  Cambio Springs #3
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
Release Date:  November 24, 2015 as a Kindle Exclusive & Paperback (Other formats: On or around Feb. 22, 2016)
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Order Link:   Amazon
My Rating:   4.5 Potent 's
First Thoughts:  When life deals you a bum hand over and over, it's hard not to fold, not to break beyond repair.  If you're offered one more shot at the prize, the one you've always wanted . . . will you have the courage to grab the brass ring or will you let it pass by yet again? 

*Many thanks to the author for an ARC of this book.  It is my pleasure to review it.


When everything you’ve longed for is standing right in front of you, would you find the courage to chase it when you’ve given up on dreams?

Fox shifter Alison Smith gave up on happy endings when her ex-husband walked out, but that didn’t mean she was allowed to give up on happiness. With four growing kids, Allie is determined to look on the bright side and carry on, even when life seems to keep kicking the girl who’s fallen down.

Four kids, two jobs, and a pile of debt left over from her ex seem overwhelming most days. Luckily, Allie has the best friends a girl could ask for. Especially a certain quiet bear who’s always been her rock.

Patient. Oliver Campbell knows what it means to be patient. But twenty years of wanting one unavailable woman may have pushed him to the edge. With Allie working every night at his bar, their friendship has begun to fracture.

Then old ghosts offer one more kick to the little family that’s already down, and patience is a virtue Ollie can no longer afford. Allie’s ex-husband may be gone, but his actions are haunting his family. With danger licking the borders of Cambio Springs, the bear and the fox will have to work together. And twenty years of unspoken truths may finally come to light.

My Review:

When I was offered an ARC of Waking Hearts, I had yet to start this series.  I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Hunter's Irin Chronicles and knew I couldn't go wrong with any book written by her, so I said Yes and then immediately purchased the previous short stories & books in the Cambio Springs series . . . and binge read my way through them.  What an awesome and unique PNR series!  I was hooked right away with the intriguing and touching short story, Long Ride Home, and fell in love with the special characters and desert town in Shifting Dreams.  Now, after catching up in the series and finishing Waking Hearts, I am left eagerly anticipating the release of the next book.

Waking Hearts is the story of Allie Smith, a 34-year-old fox shifter with 4 kids, 2 jobs, and a mountain of debt left by her husband who walked out on her one night as she was serving her special meatloaf dinner, and Ollie Campbell, a grizzly bear shifter who has loved Allie from afar for 20 years but missed his chance to claim her because he waited too long to speak up. With her husband out of the picture (much more to that story), the sexual chemistry ignites, fueled by Ollie & Allie living and fighting side by side and by the coming full moon which sends a shifter's libido raging out of control.  Allie is afraid to risk their friendship on a relationship that might end with another man walking away from her.  Ollie worries about stepping over a line as he assumes the role of family protector and cares for Allie & her children.  

Normally, a very patient, kind, quiet grizzly, Ollie is now edgy, grumpy, out of patience, and out of time.  The bearded giant of a man/bear with his tattoos & gorgeous hard body has become very possessive, protective, and proprietary over Allie & her family.  When ghosts from her husband's past bring predators to her door, Ollie roars in and shows just how badass an enraged grizzly bear can be.  It's now or never.  This powerful, potent, prime bear is ready to make his move.

Allie is a proud, spunky, and surprisingly strong-willed woman/fox who is tired of depending on others.  It takes everything she has left in her to feed, clothe, and care for her children and keep a roof over their heads. She knows what it feels like to be left holding the bag (or meatloaf!) and resolves to never put her heart or the hearts of her children on the line again. Even so, Allie struggles to fight her attraction to a certain gorgeous bear, thinking herself ridiculous in entertaining the thought that Ollie would give her a second glance.  She's seen the women he's attracted to and knows she doesn't fit the bill. But when danger threatens Allie & her kids, Ollie steps up in a big way.  Will Allie find the courage to take a chance with this magnificent creature and  claim him as her own?

The suspense ramps up as a deadly danger comes crawling into Cambio Springs. Ollie, Allie, and their shifter friends and family clans must unite to fight off a dominant enemy with powers that equal or exceed their own.  The mystery of who/what/when builds anticipation and anxiety as this story plays out.  Someone knows their secrets, someone can get through their defenses, someone can destroy the town and everyone in it.  The extent and depth of this plot line blew me away as this story builds layer upon layer all the way to the explosive, blockbuster climax.  

Waking Hearts is an intriguing, suspenseful, beautiful read.  Hunter's special way of writing love scenes, while certainly hot & erotic, honors the once in a lifetime kind of love.  I like that we get to experience these two characters getting to know each other as more than friends, dancing back and forth, exploring deeper feelings. The slow burn makes the rewards so much sweeter in the end!  While Waking Hearts  is certainly different than other books/series I've read by Hunter, it's every bit as captivating, enthralling, and bewitching in its own unique way.  I was swept away by the intensity of both the character relationships and the plot line.  Beautifully written, Waking Hearts is a Page Burner!  A Must Read!  One for my Favorites Shelf!

My Rating:  4.5 Captivating 's . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Check out these series by Elizabeth Hunter

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Last Hope (Hitman #4) Book Review

Title:  Last Hope
Series:  Hitman #4
Author:  Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick
Publisher:  Berkley
Main Characters:  Rafe Mendoza & Ava
Book Cover:  So Sexy & Intriguing!
My Rating:  3 Monster 's

First Thoughts:  I'm speechless.


In the explosive new Hitman novel from the bestselling authors of Last Kiss and Last Hit a jungle mercenary and a female target find love on the run...

Mendoza: I grew up in the slums and lost everything I loved to poverty, illness, and death. I had only one skill to leverage myself out of my circumstances—violence. Being hired out as a mercenary hitman brought me money and built an empire. But all that I've fought for is in jeopardy. My next job: Steal secret information that could bring down world governments. Find my target. Destroy it. But then, I meet her.

Ava: Karma hates me. When my best friend Rose is kidnapped, I have no choice but to take a job as a mule for a pair of criminals intent on selling top-secret information to the highest bidder. I should have known that bad luck tends to cling, because the plane I'm on goes down. That I survived a crash-landing was a miracle. And so was being rescued by Rafe Mendoza—hot, sexy, dangerous. The thing is, he wants the information that I need to free Rose. I can't let him have it, but I need his help. And I need to fight this crazy attraction for this mercenary with hungry eyes. Rose is depending on me, and I won't let her down, no matter how appealing Rafe is.

My Review:

The Hitman series is a favorite of mine because of its uniqueness, anti-heroes, and non-traditional story lines.  I have loved each of the previous books with their dark, suspenseful plot lines, tortured anti-social heroes, and quirky yet determined  heroines.  Thus far, the books have been connected by a similar theme with a loosely connected story arc and often time, characters toting some serious baggage.  The books are well-written with witty dialogue, lustful romance, and dangerous missions.  The vivid imaginations and writing skills of these authors are evident in each book.  And so, I began Last Hope with great anticipation and high expectations.

The story starts very similar to previous books - by jumping right into the heart of a mission. Rafe Mendoza is a mercenary carrying out surveillance on Ava who is working as a mule for a dangerous group holding her best friend captive.  Rafe needs access to the information that Ava is carrying in order to free a friend and teammate, while Ava must complete her directive in order to save her friend's life.  After weeks of observing her, Rafe finds himself extremely attracted to Ava - almost to the point of blowing his mission.  And so, he risks an arranged accidental meeting with her.

Through a comedy of errors, the pair not only meet, they find themselves stranded in the Amazon rain forest, having survived a plane crash.  The suspense is revving up as this pair joins forces to battle some dangerous foes, both human & animal, and also the weather in an effort to escape the jungle and save their friend's lives.  And here is where things run a little too far off course to remain believable for me.  The story's focus switches from the mission and typical dark violence to rest almost completely on the very considerable "asset" in Rafe's pants . . . yes, Rafe is very well endowed - beyond any porn movie star's dreams well endowed.  That's hot, but . . . he's afraid to use it, even when Ava repeatedly begs for it. Once she discovers what Rafe is packing, her mission becomes to see it, feel it, touch it, and have it.  This would be hot and seductive if it wasn't hounded into the ground - over and over and over!   Unfortunately, way too much of the story is taken up with this back and forth plot line about Godzilla (Ava's words, not mine).  The whole issue turned into a frivolous, almost silly thing between two adults with a strong attraction to one another.  What could have been a romantic, lustful, sex scene is relegated to cartoon status.

Having said that, I still enjoyed Last Hope (though not nearly as much as previous books) as the talent of these authors is evident.  I do realize there was a reason for the focus on this particular asset of Rafe's (hidden in his backstory), but in this case, I feel like it was carried too far - to the point of distracting me from the quirky, unique characters and the dark, violent suspense that is normally prevalent in this series.  I will, however, continue reading this series as new books are released.  The series as a whole is a Must Read!

My Rating:  3 Monster 's . . . And that's the truth!  (Yes, it was also described as "Monster")

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shifter Planet Book Review

Title:  Shifter Planet
Author:  D.B. Reynolds
Release Date:  Oct. 26, 2015
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Main Characters:  Amanda Sumner (Earthling) & Rhodry de Mendoza (Shifter)
My Rating:  4 Shifting 's 

First Thoughts:  Sometimes, the only difference between success or failure is the ability and willingness to adapt. 

Book Cover:  To-die-for sinfully delicious!

Available at Amazon and other retailers.

*Many thanks to Entangled Publishing & Netgally for providing this ARC.


Specialist Amanda Sumner is one of the first to make contact on the Earth-like planet Harp and discovers she's the only Earthling, who can hear the trees sing in the strange forest. Determined to remain and learn more of the planet’s secrets, Amanda sets out to become part of the elite Guild there...

But there is a secret involving some Guild members–one that could get her killed.

Shifter Rhodry de Mendoza wants the Earthlings off his planet before they destroy it—even if that means denying what he feels for the fierce and lovely Amanda. The pair is thrown together in what becomes a fight for their lives. And they might just lose everything–including each other–in their battle for the right to live in peace.

My Review:

I love the Vampire In America series by D.B. Reynolds and couldn't wait to start her new venture, Shifter Planet.  Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to read and review it when offered the ARC although I worried a little that it couldn't possibly hold a candle to the VIA books. I'm so happy to say that Shifter Planet meets the high standards set by this author. It's unique, intriguing, and feels very real which seems odd as the book is not only set in the future but on another planet.  

Shifter Planet takes place in the year 4668 on the planet of Harp.  Amanda is part of the First Contact Team that lands on this earth-like planet after picking up an ancient distress signal.  The team discovers that the people living on Harp are human colonists who'd made a critical landing there after a system failure on their ship and had had no contact with Earth in 485 years.  When Amanda's spaceship prepares to leave, Amanda remains behind with a scientific team to study the people and planet and quickly discovers that there are secrets there that some will do anything to protect.  She soon becomes frustrated and irritated at the society ruled exclusively by men - men with a chauvinistic attitude of male seniority.  Of course, Amanda decides to challenge that.

Leading his clan is shifter Rhodry Devlin de Mendoza, a member of the elite Guild - a society of male Shifters who are charged with the task of protecting the people & planet of Harp.  Amanda and Rhodry butt heads often in spite of the chemistry sparking between them.  Curious to learn more about the Guild, Amanda decides to apply and attempt to pass their trial test.  But, it seems, not only is she the only female to ever do so, she is also the only Norm (non-shifter) to do so.  And she quickly learns that there are some who will do anything, even kill, to stop her.  And so the trials and tribulations begin.

Amanda is a spunky, determined, kickass heroine with a lot to prove.  She has lived her entire life isolated on a spaceship.  And yet, right away, she feels at home on the planet of Harp. She is mesmerized by the forest of green trees and can hear them singing/talking to her, even as she realizes that she is the only one of her team that can hear them.  She refuses to heed warnings to stay out of the forest and often ventures out alone.  I loved this character for refusing to follow the status quo and for charging full speed ahead, blazing new trails. One of her strongest traits is her ability to adapt to her surroundings and rise up to meet each challenge thrown before her.  This is not your ordinary, swooning, weak female in need of protection.

Rhodry is a strong, protective, gorgeous cat shifter/alpha with golden eyes who fights his attraction to Amanda while doing everything he can to protect her, his planet, and its secrets.  He realizes that Amanda is different from other norms and that the trees speak to her.  Rhodry believes Amanda is insane for attempting to past the necessary tests for joining their elite Guild . . . after all, women don't belong out fighting.  Shouldn't they be home cooking, cleaning, raising kids?  And yet, when Rhodry's enemies, under the disguise of friendship, rise up against him and leave him for dead, it's the crazy female Amanda who fights to save him, standing beside him to battle back.  Rhodry is forced to reexamine his thoughts and feelings about this female who drives him insane.  Both the physical and emotional battle that ensues make this book worth the read!

Shifting Planet takes an unique approach to the world of shifters.  While it takes place in the future, it doesn't have too much of a sci-fi feel about it.  I found myself so absorbed, so lost in the story that I actually forgot about the time period at times.  I enjoyed the developing relationship between Amanda & Rhodry and liked that the author moves it forward in a slow, realistic manner.  While the chemistry is there from the moment they meet, Reynolds depicts a relationship that evolves slowly - one that overcomes a lot of mistrust, adaptation to each other's worlds, and oh yeah . . . a battle for their lives.  Shifter Planet delves into political arenas, deals with society issues, and portrays different worlds colliding in a magnificent manner.  It's a Must Read!

My Rating:   4 Shifting 's . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Leap Into The Knight Book Review

Title:  Leap Into The Knight
Series:  Romantic Knights Trilogy #1
Author:  M.J. Schiller
Genre:  Sci-Fi Romance
Release Date:  Nov. 1, 2014
Publisher:  Kissmet Publishing
My Rating:  3.5 Heroic 's

My First Thoughts:  Sometimes the greatest battles ever fought are those brewing within one's self.

*Available at Amazon & other retailers

*Many thanks to the author for this review request.


Sir Darius Lee is a Knight of the High Order.

But when Darius discovers a stranger in his room in the middle of the night, and the intruder turns out to be a beautiful woman, he begins to question how he is meant to live his life.

Princess Megan of Bethyea is being held captive.

But when two knights help her to escape and bring her back to her home planet, she finds the home she knew no longer exists.

When The Council of Twelve questions Darius about his relationship with Maggie, she tries to flee from The Academy of the High Order to prevent him from losing his knighthood.

Will Darius and Orion find Maggie before she leaves Albion? And if they do, how can they face the decision of The Council? And what about the feelings Orion has developed for the princess?

My Review:

Heroic knights yielding swords, a beautiful damsel/princess in distress over a forced marriage, two friends infatuated by the same woman . . . sounds like a historic fairy tale, right?  Wrong.  Instead of charging in on a big white horse, this magnificent knight wields a laser sword and swoops in for the rescue in his spaceship!   Sir Darius Lee, a knight with The Academy of The High Order, and his novice Orion Quinn are on a mission to investigate the abduction of Princess Megan "Maggie" of Bethyea.  A chance meeting in the middle of the night leads to a chase and a capture that sets the stage for a rocky road and relationship between Darius and Maggie. 

Sir Darius is a heroic knight - brave, protective, gorgeous, and unavailable -  having pledged his allegiance to the High Order, he is fully committed to their rules and regulations.  Darius is sworn to a single loyalty, The High Order, and as such may have no personal relationships as they make a knight vulnerable to his enemies.  But his attraction with the princess is immediate, intense, and undeniable.  Thus, even as Darius battles for their freedom and lives, he also fights his desire to claim Maggie as his own.  There are severe consequences for breaking the rules of The Order.  Darius must decide if Maggie is worth giving up everything.

Princess Megan was taken from her home planet when her parents and siblings were killed in a takeover.  The evil Justin Filithy is determined to make her his bride.  While Maggie may play the part of a damsel in distress, you won't find this girl swooning and fainting at the first sign of trouble.  She is a spunky, gritty woman with some serious moves of her own.  When she joins forces with Darius and Orion, they become a force to be reckoned with.

The novice Orion is the wild card in this game.  He is completely dedicated to Sir Darius and battles willingly by his side.  However, Orion is entranced by Princess Megan and battles a dose of the green-eyed monster while witnessing the personal relationship growing between Darius & Maggie.  Orion is suddenly faced with divided loyalties and a big decision about what's the right or wrong thing to do.  Does he uphold the rules of The Order by reporting what he knows or turn his head the other way honoring the loyalty of friendship?  Will a woman be the weapon that finally breaks a friendship that has withstood the test of time?

Leap Into The Knight is an action packed story that delves into affairs of the heart, steps into a political arena, and manipulates the age old battle of right vs. wrong.  While I enjoyed the fast pace of the story, I felt like the characters needed a little more depth, a little more developing to reach their full potential and fully earn my empathy.  I found myself standing outside looking in rather than fully immersed in their adventure.  Having said that, I was intrigued by the plot line and applaud the author's skill in developing it as well as creating this unique world.  While this book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, the stage is certainly set for the next book.  I look forward to more from this talented author. One more note - I LOVE the cover!  Mysterious, intriguing, beautiful!  Love it! 

My Rating:  3.5 Heroic 's . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . .xxx

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG: The Beauty of Writing

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers whose purpose is to share with and encourage other writers. Writers can express doubts and concerns and offer & receive encouragement and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month.  

Many thanks to the co-hosts for November:  Tyrean Martinson,  Karen Walker,  Denise Covey,  and Stephen Tremp.   
 Be sure to check out other IWSG writers/bloggers here:  IWSG Members  

The Beauty of Writing:

You don't always have to get it right the first time!  What?  You're telling me I don't have to write my story perfectly the first time?  I get a second chance to get it right?  Maybe even a third chance?  Hallelujah!  One of the reasons my current w-i-p isn't ready to publish right now is because I'm a certifiable nut over errors.  I can't resist rereading lines, paragraphs, pages, even chapters, constantly correcting as I go.  I often spend more time in reverse than I do moving forward (well, not really, but it feels that way some days).

Sometimes, it's the small things that give us an unexpected wake-up call.  The other day (after a morning spent editing when I should have been writing), I came across these words of wisdom by Robert Cormier.  The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.  Well Duh! I know that but talk about a timely reminder coming when I sorely needed it.
At times, I lose the flow of my story because I can't resist the urge to fix errors as I go.  Mentally, I know I should just write the story . . . get it all on paper.  Corrections/changes are made during edits, right?  I know that.  And yet the urge to correct as I go is overwhelming - it's hard to resist fixing just one more little error, just like it's hard for smokers and drinkers to resist the next smoke or drink. (Okay, maybe not quite that bad, but you know what I mean.)  

The obvious answer for me is to continue writing my story and stop doing so much rereading.  There's a time for editing . . . after completing the first draft!  After all, the beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time!  In this profession, you do get a second chance!

Are you a "correct as you go" or a "wait until you're done" type writer?