Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy

 

St. Louis crime lord and renegade sentinel assassin Bas Cavrilo still remembers the first and last time he saw gorgeous clairvoyant Myst. That was the night they created their daughter Molly until Myst dropped 2 month old Molly at his apartment and disappeared again. Now Myst is back and Bas is demanding to know why, especially since Molly only recently survived a kidnapping by his enemies.

Bas listens as Myst explains being sold to the Brotherhood as a teen after a vision she’d create an Armageddon weapon, her escape and years of being their prey. Bas contacts The Mave, Lana to provide protection for Molly at Valhalla while he and Myst seek answers. Lana and Bas’ time as more than friends is long past but piques both Myst and Wolfe’s jealously when Lana agrees to help.

Brotherhood leader Stella’s confident it’s time for the weapon. As her minions search for confirmation the rumbles are heard in Valhalla and Stella plans beyond the step of eliminating Highbloods. Meticulous planning, a breach and a deviation from protocol are the perfect storm to position Stella for even more power when she stumbles onto things she can’t recognize. But then the big guns take aim.
Rating:4.25stars

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***

The only thing true about Chris Brennan was there was no limit to what he’d do to get what he wanted. Right now he needed to become a teacher at Central Valley high where he could be near the town’s scions and their less worthy counterparts deepest secrets. Teenagers and their secret was a virtual cornucopia of information.

Minimum suspense and a slower pace are allotted as the stage is set with introductions, bits of background and the excitement a new, single, handsome teacher that’s eager to coach the baseball team can bring. It picks up as Chris sifts until only Evan Kostis, Raz Sematov and Justin Larkin remain as perfect candidates for his nefarious scheme.

With Mindy Kostis abandoned for her husband’s work, Susan Sematov still reeling from her husband’s death and busy single mother Heather Larkin, Chris easily presents himself as a man willing and able to help their sons on the path to manhood. The outing hints as a study of lonely mothers and their sons and gains momentum as Chris’ perfection bumps against these own family secrets.

For this reader’s taste, the slow burn inherent of a cast this size, the mystery of the antagonist and how to much to share when as well as the amount of red herrings, plot twists, turns and background make it almost impossible for the reader to definitely choose a foe. The ebb and flow of the information means nothing can be discounted to stay ahead in a fairly good thriller with strong, personable characters.
Rating:4stars

Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath

Losing the plantation as well as her family and worldly goods left Amelia Carson little reason to remain in Georgia with the deluge of carpetbaggers and scalawags. Plucking her courage Amelia accepted Dallas Leigh’s contract for a mail order bride and looked toward Texas for a new life with him. But a riding accident forced Dallas to send his younger brother Houston in his stead to meet Amelia.

Houston saw a careworn Amelia across the platform and thought how lucky his overbearing older brother was. Dallas didn’t carry visual reminders of the war and had a pretty wife in the godforsaken hindmost part of Texas. Gruff to the point of rudeness was all Houston could manage as he tamped his attraction to Amelia and annoyance at Dallas for not properly preparing her for the harsh life ahead.

During a time when getting to know someone meant spending time together or sending letters to stay in touch the healing journey to the ranch provided intimacy with shared discoveries, protecting and relying on each other as Amelia saw the tortured man beyond the physical scars Houston carried and wanted to share his dreams and his life as they realized their mutual attraction had become love.
Rating:4.5stars

The Heart of a Texas Cowboy by Linda Broday

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Sourcebooks Casablanca through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
When Houston Legend’s bride was killed at the altar before their vows, he wallowed in agony. As painful rumors and truths came to light, he wallowed in anger moving to adrift as his heart hardened. Unfortunate circumstances left Lara Boone, a damaged mother to a small daughter with no husband and no desire for a man in her life, wallowing in her own anguish.

Over late night cards and too many drinks, Stoker Legend loses half the family holdings to new neighbor Till Boone. The only negotiation Till will entertain is how soon Stoker can convince his son to marry Till’s daughter. An angry Houston’s obliged to do anything to secure his family’s legacy, even if it means marrying a woman he’s never met and claim her babe as his own.

Standing in front of a preacher with a tad of resentment for their fathers neither bride nor groom wanted to celebrate their somber, funeral-like wedding. Afterward, Houston realized the depth of Lara’s personal nightmare and vowed no force on earth would keep him from avenging his new bride or claiming his new daughter as he and Stoker greeted Lara as the new Legend matriarch.

Yuma, the well written villain of the piece was a threat on the page or looming in the distance. The remaining personable and distinct secondary characters supported the story and other characters well. Houston was quite the standout as the swoon-worthy hero women wanted and men wanted to be. Lara was no slouch displaying the type of clarity, grit and steel spine that built a nation.

The broken, damaged leads managed to fall in love as they traversed adventure, danger, deceit, heartbreak, shame and a madman’s revenge to find their way out of the dark to joyful new dreams and a new future as a family. This new to me author pandered to my innate penchant for stoic, protective heroes and weakness for cowboys. It’s a great rainy day read but a tad too intense for the beach.
Rating:4.75stars

Deadly Fallout by Katie Reus

Few knew the reason Dr. Zoe Hansen changed jobs, apartments and friends was she’d caught the attention of a stalker. She was safe while he was out of the country. But he returned and Zoe became his hobby again. Red Stone Security’s resources, specifically former SEAL Sawyer McCabe step up to guard Zoe’s body…er life. Then her stalker is found dead and Zoe’s arrested of his murder.

Though cleared of the murder charge, it was obvious someone framed Zoe which meant her life could still be in danger. Receiving mystery mail means it’s not over and Sawyer’s not leaving Zoe’s side as the smoldering embers they shared become flames. Being influentially despicable bought Zoe’s stalker many enemies and plenty of false friends as the police uncover suspects galore.

Lively Zoe runs the gamut of emotions and has excellent chemistry with agent du jour, Sawyer in this nicely written and vividly woven tale. The reader is quickly invested in an illusion of a love affair at its most terrifying. It shakes a strong, capable and independent woman to her core first she lives with fear then fights to keep her friends, love and on her terms. Definitely a series favorite!
Rating:4.5stars

Take Me Back by Rosalind James

 

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Montlake Romance through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***

Jim Lawson left Paradise to become an Army Ranger. He left a tearful Hallie in his wake before coming back to be the deputy sheriff. Henry Cavanaugh tried to force broken-hearted Hallie to stay but couldn’t. Now Hallie inherits her wickedly vindictive father’s wealth, but only if she lives in his home and stays out of Jim’s bed. Henry knew love for Jim could bring Hallie back but is Jim worth millions to her?

There could have been a helping hand in Henry’s death and somebody’s not quite as calm as they appear or maybe they’re not happy to see the prodigal daughter return. With Paradise being a small town and all, it doesn’t take long for the conditions of Hallie’s inheritance to become public and less time than that for townsfolk to become interested in the outcome as they sneak peeks at the couple.

Luckily, Hallie’s plans are to collect her money and leave, not settle down in Paradise. But seeing each other again reminded Jim and Hallie the feeling between them was anything but dead. Five years bring changes and in Jim’s case its family. He’s now a widower and a father. But for this reader’s taste the circumstances around Henri’s death and the star couple were a bit frustrating.

There are few things that can always be counted on but some sure things are in this series. One is the story will be well written and the characters have full lives. Another is the flawed hero is definitely older and wiser than twenty-something. He’s learned something from his mistakes and can admit he’s been a jerk. Also, there will be so many suspects they kill the suspense until you just want it to be over.
Rating:3.75stars

Obsession Untamed by Pamela Palmer

The previous outing left Vhypher escaping after stealing the Daemon blade that held the vicious Daemon King and his horde, a high level mage switching sides and be-spelling half of Tighe’s soul in a clone leaving only seven Feral Warriors to help their brethren and protect humans from the draden. Things got complicated when Tighe found himself seeing through the clone’s eyes and saw… her.

FBI agent Delaney Randall’s hot on the trail of an elusive serial killer that specializes in women and children. Having been that child, Delaney didn’t want another in that position. Though she escaped the mad man he must’ve done something to her because now she’s glimpsing new murders as he commits them.

It was bad enough Tighe was helpless to stop the murders he saw through the clone’s eyes but somehow Delaney’s hijacked them. His brethren’s sure Delaney’s death will restore the visions to him. Tighe’s too protective to let that happen though Delaney dredges memories he’d rather forget. When they meet, Tighe’s story ensures Delaney thinks he’s the killer on drugs. And woo hoo is he sexy!

This outing had great intrigue and the likeable leads chemistry was explosive in this cat and mouse tale. Delaney’s comfort zone of only black and white threatened the HEA a few times but softness did what softness does. The secondary thread of chasing the blade could’ve been tedious but had a twist or two of its own and was infrequent enough to create its own degree of excitement for its chapters.
Rating:4.5stars

Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti

For former hacker, Sami Steel secrets are a way of life and the best part about playing soldier is anything involving medic Tace Justice, especially their late night sparring sessions. Since he recovered from Scorpius, the smoldering Texas cowboy’s different. He’s harder and more predatory. Tace was done wondering if strength, speed and cunning would be the only changes, he wondered about Sami.

Sami knew she couldn’t keep acting indifferent toward Tace to her friend, his latest bedmate and the world when he set all her parts fluttering. They couldn’t happen and after last night’s session she wanted to tell him everything. Their sparring also left Tace rattled so he jumped at an assignment away from camp. Unaware of their changed status, Jax assigned Sami as Tace’s back-up.

This busy outing teased out several meaty threads including secret alliances, resolving three overlong pieces, uncovering a traitor, smacking own major enemies in stellar skirmishes and gaining an ally. The tired ‘we’re marooned on an island so let’s fall in love’ vibe made favorites Tace and Sami’s romance fall a bit flat in places for my taste before finding its footing in this satisfying read.
Rating:4.5stars

The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

 

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Kensington through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
Not quite ready to share her theories with her sister Crows, Erin decides to check them out on her own first. Raven Stieg Engstrom isn’t too pleased when he’s asked to watch out for banthe tiny, gorgeous, funny, chaos-magnet of a Crow, Erin Amsel. As it turns out she could use a bodyguard. It seems everybody she ever met and some she hasn’t are trying to kill her.

Stieg may be the angry pile of muscle many think he is but he’s terrifyingly protective when it comes to Erin. Because it would be fun to annoy Stieg and keep her sister Crows from asking questions Erin decides she’ll be Stieg’s houseguest. The more the pair are together, the more they want to be together. Erin and Stieg were a good couple, especially after Stieg realized she’d taken liberties with him.

Meanwhile, Raven’s, Crows and the rest of the Nine have met and decided the only one among them all that has a chance of stopping Gallveig’s return and continuing to live was Erin. They just haven’t had a chance to tell her. Erin suspects she knows who is responsible for Gallveig’s imminent return which will bring about Ragnarok and whose ever really ready for an apocalypse?!?

Wrapping the Ragnarok arc Gillvieg had no intention of living her existence in Hel. Given the high stakes, the clans were cooperative and a few of the gods checked in with support. All bets are off and nothing’s off limits as Erin and Stieg suit up in full warrior mode on their quest. This reader loved that the hero moments were plentiful and more than fierce, they were formidable.

However, the sheer number of obvious scenes designed to stress the incessant cuteness of Erin’s antics were too much, too one-note and crossed the line into annoying silliness more often than not for this readers taste, affecting my overall enjoyment of the outing. Based on ratings, this opinion is a minority.
Rating:3.75stars

Under His Protection by Katie Reus

While Mina looked at lingerie in preparation for her wedding to Blue, newest Red Stone Security agent, Ivan Mitchell looked at lingerie shop owner Julieta Mederos. Ivan was enchanted by the petite beauty from the moment he saw her and it doesn’t hurt that she’s Lizzy’s best friend. Noticing Jules pale at the bridal shower, Ivan quickly finds out she’s being stalked and assigns himself as her protection.

Though Jules had been noticing Ivan she wasn’t certain they were looking at each other the same way or for the same reason. Now that they’re seeing things eye to eye she’s grateful for his help. Ivan’s sure the explicit texts and vandalism incidents at Jules’ shop are connected and attaches himself to her side.

Distracted by everything, Jules brings Ivan into the bosom of her family. They’re charmed, especially when they find out about his Ranger background and how seriously he’s taking the threats to Jules’ life. Meanwhile, her stalker is more than a little upset that there’s now a man in Jules’ life and steps up his elaborate plans to solidify his own future with her.
Rating: 3.75stars

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