Vengeance (Dark Protectors)

Vengeance
by Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher:  Evil Eye Concepts, Inc.
Book #9.5 in the Dark Protectors series
Number of pages:  167
Kindle edition
Source: Amazon Purchase
Paranormal Romance M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 1/6/21 to 1/7/21

Vengeance and revenge are the only forces driving vampire soldier Noah Siosal since losing his brother to an enemy he’s been unable to find. He’s searched every corner of the globe, going through adversaries and piling up bodies until finally getting a lead. The last place he wants to be is in a ridiculous anger management group with people expressing feelings instead of taking action. Until one fragile human, a green-eyed sweetheart being stalked by danger, catches his eye. One touch, and he realizes vengeance can’t be anywhere near her.

Anger and self-preservation are the only motivations Abby Miller needs or wants right now. Falsely accused of attacking the man who’s terrorized her for years, she’s forced as a plea bargain to attend an anger management counseling group with people with some serious rage issues, while learning true self defense on the side. Yet a man, one more primal than any she’s ever met, draws her in a way and into a world deadlier than she’s ever imagined. He offers her protection, but she finds the fight is really for his heart, and she’s ready to battle.

This is a novella within the Dark Protectors universe. I wasn’t sure what to expect this time because, from the description, I really wasn’t sure who these characters were. Never fear, some familiar faces pop up in unexpected ways. I’m curious to see how some of the new characters introduced here will tie in with the bigger story.

There’s a lot going on in this small town that the citizens are totally blind to. I absolutely adore how Abby’s court ordered anger management turns into a paranormal singles mixer. The poor lady in charge of this group! I cannot wait until her story plays out, as I’m sure it will eventually. There was a lot going on in this story, even at less than 200 pages. It really has me excited for the direction this series is going.

Because this story is a bit shorter, the love is a bit faster. Rebecca Zanetti makes a bold decision on how to speed along the mating process of Abby and Noah, and it pays off. I really like Noah and didn’t want him to do anything that would have me feel icky about his choices. Knowing he was trying his best to be patient and that he wanted Abby to understand his world before taking a huge step went a long way in keeping me on his side.

As usual, this author writes amazing chemistry. Not only were sparks flying between Noah and Abby, but there were other couples that were throwing off heat. I may be wrong, only time will tell as I continue on in this series, but it felt like this book was being used as a catalyst of so many things to come in the Dark Protectors world, not just characters but also plot and back story. I can’t wait.

4 stars

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The Beautiful Things Shoppe (Seasons of New Hope) – ARC review

The Beautiful Things Shoppe
by Philip William Stover
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher:  Carina Press
Book #2 in the Seasons of New Hope series
Number of pages:  304
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Netgalley & Carina Press
Contemporary Romance M/M
Rating: R
Read 1/9/21 to 1/10/21

Their collections may clash but their hearts are a perfect match.

Moving to eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, and running The Beautiful Things Shoppe is a dream come true for elegant and reserved fine arts dealer Prescott J. Henderson. He never agreed to share the space with Danny Roman, an easygoing extrovert who collects retro toys and colorful knickknacks.

And yet here they are, trapped together in the quaint shop as they scramble to open in time for New Hope’s charming Winter Festival.

Danny has spent years leading with his heart instead of his head. The Beautiful Things Shoppe is his chance to ground himself and build something permanent and joyful. The last thing he needs is an uptight snob who doesn’t appreciate his whimsy occupying half his shop.

It’s only when two of New Hope’s historic landmarks—each as different as Danny and Prescott—are threatened that a tentative alliance forms. And with it, the first blush of romance. Suddenly, running The Beautiful Things Shoppe together doesn’t seem so bad…until Danny’s secret threatens to ruin it all.

Okay, I feel the need to start this review with something that may not mean anything to many people. But for those that know, you know. I was ridiculously exhilarated that there is mention of paczki in this book. OMG, I love paczki! And I almost never talk to anyone outside of Michigan that know what the heck that even is. To be fair, I haven’t been to the east coast. But I have lived in California and visited Washington, so I know paczki are not a thing in those places. It really did my part Polish, southeast Michigan heart good to read about a favorite treat of mine.

On to the actual story now! One of the things that drew me to this book was the cover. Seriously, it’s gorgeous! And the description in the book of the exterior of the store only made me love it more. I want to go to New Hope just to sit outside this shop under the awning. The author really brings the shop to life and makes me feel as if it’s another character in this story. On that note, I also somewhat feel the town itself (not the citizens of the town, but the actual town) is another character.

Danny and Prescott are both wonderful people. They seem so different, but they’re much more alike than first meets the eye. Overall, I felt more of a connection to Prescott. His insecurities, especially when talking to others, were so well written and really had me feeling his discomfort. On the other hand, I found myself drawn to Danny’s open personality. Just as Prescott was. There is a comforting presence about Danny, even more than his friendliness, that made me love him. It also is what made me expect more from him. I’m just not a fan of secrets. Although, he had a good reason (in the beginning) to keep his secret.

It was fun to have Prescott and Danny be instant enemies. And even more fun to watch them try to fight their attraction until it’s no longer possible. The elders in their town seem to know what they’re doing when throwing people together over and over. Everyone can see the chemistry Danny and Prescott have, and the reader can feel it coming off the pages.

While I really enjoyed the first book in this series, The Hideaway Inn, this book can definitely be read as a standalone. But, if you have read the first book, there are plenty of sightings of old favorite characters from that story. I’m becoming quite the fan of this author and will continue to look for more of his stories.

4.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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TTT: Hopes for 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. There is a new topic each week for bloggers to join in with their own top ten. If you’re looking for some new or different book blogs to read, hop on over to her site and check out some of the links.

Technically, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is Resolutions/Hope for 2021. I’ve found that the word “resolution” is too much pressure for me. Seriously. Especially now. I prefer to look at my goals as hopes.

My list today is a mix of bookish and non-bookish hopes.

Throne of Glass Series

Inspired by Kira’s post over the weekend, I’m hoping to finish the Throne of Glass series. I’ve read the first two books more than once, and book 3 I’ve read once. I actually really love this series and have all of the books on my Kindle, so I just have to carve out the time re-read the first 3 books and finish the rest of the series.

Do Not Finish

I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with leaving a book once I start the book. I have had even less time than I used to for my reading so I really need to get serious about this one. It’s okay to DNF a book. I know that on a rational level. But it’s just so hard for me, I always think it’ll get better.

Timely Reviews

Since I do a large portion of my reading at night in bed, I finish a large number of books late at night. I always have the intention of writing my review the next day, but that rarely happens. I get swept up into the next book and put off the review. I shouldn’t get stressed about this, but I personally like having a review to look back at when deciding if I’m going to read the next in a series or if it’s an author I don’t read as often.

Unplug

I, like a lot of Americans, have a love/hate relationship with social media and the news. Where I am not often on Facebook, I do scroll Twitter a lot. Especially this past year, for obvious reasons. When I take a day or two off, I feel a lot of my anxiety go away. But then I get a sense of not feeling prepared since the news is changing hourly these days. I know that’s not healthy for my mental state. I know things won’t magically be better on January 20, but I’m hoping things will start to at least calm down soon after. That should help me take a break from all news, main stream or in the realm of social media, at least one day a week.

Yoga

I’ve already started the year off strong with this one, but know from past experience that I can easily lose my momentum. I absolutely LOVE yoga, but it has fallen on the wayside lately. I am hoping to get yoga into my life at least three days a week. It can be a quick 5 minute breathing or stretching type of thing, or an hour long intense session. Doesn’t matter, as long as I keep at it. Right now I’m doing a 30 day challenge. I’ll be truthful, I’ve missed 2 days so far since I started on the 2nd of this month. But that’s still pretty good. And, on top of my hope to do more yoga, I’ve promised not to chastise myself when I have days I just am not feeling it at all.

Walking

This kind of goes along with the yoga. Really, since I had my health scare back in March with the PE, I haven’t gotten back to where I was back then. I was, by no means, the picture of health. But I need to get more serious with my commitment to make healthy choices. That means finding time to take a walk at least two times a week. Yes, that’s hard in Michigan in the winter. It’s by no means impossible, though. I’d like to get my stamina back. It would be a wonderful bonus if I actually lost a few pounds, but that’s not my goal at this time. I need to be able to keep up with my grandbaby as she gets faster on her feet!

Office

What is considered my office in our house has been through many stages. Back when we first bought this house we rented out the room to a friend because our youngest wasn’t quite ready to have his own room. Then it was a bedroom for our youngest for many years. Eventually it became a spare room we kept very basic for when my mother-in-law was in town for doctor appointments. At the end of her life, she lived with us for a while and it was her room. After she passed, that room became a sort of “junk room” catchall place for some of her things we were keeping but didn’t have a place for. It got cleaned out to a certain extent when my son and family moved in with us for a while, but the baby was too young to sleep so far away from them so it never fully got cleaned out. We knew it would be my office, but have so many other things that have higher priority that need to be done around here. I had wanted to, at the very least, rip up a very disgusting carpet and slap some paint on the walls. (It’s currently red, white and black for the Detroit Red Wings.) You guys, I work out of this room right now and it’s not pretty. There’s no desk. I use a banquet style folding table. I steal my husband’s office chair because I don’t have one of my own. There are boxes of paperwork all over. It’s not pretty. I really hope to get some basic organization and cleaning up done in that room soon.

Another thing I need to do better with is my need for completion. Like here…it’s Top Ten Tuesday so I feel I have to have 10 things. I do not. But it’s hard for me to let that go. Same with a book series. If I start a series and enjoy it at the beginning, I find a hard time quitting the series if it goes down hill. So, in the spirit of letting things go, I’m stopping my list at seven. That may seem trivial, but it’s very hard for me. Especially once I realized it was such an odd number! Ugh!

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Shipped – ARC review

Shipped
by Angie Hockman
Release Date:  January 19, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books
Standalone
Number of Pages:  336
Kindle Edition
Source:  ARC from NetGalley & Publisher
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  R
Read 1/7/20 to 1/8/20

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

A wonderfully fun and emotional debut novel, I found this story a joy to read. Henley and Graeme have great chemistry, plus there are other characters Henley has special connections with. She could sometimes be a way too career/goal oriented, but she’s overall a very likable character.

The first four or so chapters of this story felt a bit slow for me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like them. They are actually important to the story. It’s just that once Graeme and Henley are face to face this story took off. So the juxtaposition was noticeable.  That is to say, if you’re wondering what the fuss is about this book when you first start out, hang in there. You’ll see.

For some reason, I couldn’t quite figure out how the author was going to get me to like Graeme. Before he comes on the scene and he’s known to Henley only through phone and email conversations, there are a few things he does that range from annoying to downright dreadful. I fell in love with him almost instantly once the story moves to the ship, but still had one hang up that I wasn’t sure I could get over with him. Rest assured, I did. And it even made sense to the storyline. I always appreciate when a story thread is resolved in a way where the reader can tell the author cared about the outcome and wasn’t just trying to wrap up the loose ends.

There are a lot of entertaining characters on this cruise who brought more color to the story. Instead of having the main players experience this trip in a bubble, we got to see things through a few different sets of eyes in a way. It brought some comic relief and depth to the story.

I have to say, I also appreciated the sisterhood in this story. Henley is not being treated fairly from the very beginning of this book and her girlfriends band around her and boost her up. Saying too much about these parts of the story may be spoiler-ish, so I’m not going to dig into it all. But seeing Henley find allies in unexpected places, as well is with those she knew would always have her back, gave me all sorts of Wonder Woman/Girl Power vibes and I was loving it!

Was this story perfect? No. There were a few timeline issues I had (when don’t I, though?) and there were parts I felt the pacing was a bit off. Was it a laudable debut? Heck yes! I’m definitely looking forward to watching this author’s career unfold. Good writers always grow the more they write. Which means there is much to anticipate from Angie Hockman.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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Dark Desires After Dusk (Immortals After Dark)

Dark Desires After Dusk
by Kresley Cole
Release Date:  May 20, 2008
Publisher: Pocket Books
Book #5 in the Immortals After Dark series
Number of Pages:  369
Kindle
Source:  MCL
Paranormal Romance M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 12/22/20 to 12/25/20

A seductive beauty he can never have. Yet can’t resist…Cadeon Woede will stop at nothing to atone for the one wrong that will haunt him forever. But once he secures the key to his redemption, the halfling Holly Ashwin, Cade finds that the woman he thought we could use for his own ends and then forget haunts him as much as his past.

A tormented warrior she should fear, but can’t deny…Raised as a human, Holly never knew that some frightening legends are real until she encounters a brutal demon who inexplicably guards her like a treasure. Thrust into a sensual new world of myth and power, with him as her protector, she begins to crave the demon’s wicked touch.

Surrender to dark desires…Yet just when he earns Holly’s trust, will Cade be forced to betray the only woman who can state his wildest needs–and claim his heart?

Straight talk: I was never really a fan of Cadeon’s. Sometimes it was just a feeling of meh, other times I really disliked him. But I never felt we got to know him enough to really have a strong feeling one way or another, so I knew Kresley Cole would pull out the stops with him when it came to his story. Of course, after reading this story, I love Cadeon.

I’m one of those readers that really hates secret keeping in stories. Especially when there are so many opportunities for a character to fess up. The fact that, in this case, it really is for the best for all involved for Cadeon to keep his secrets helped. On top of that, he hated his secret keeping way more than even I ever did. It was tearing him up inside. In the beginning, there were things that drove me crazy about Cade. His is, after all, an extremely good looking and charismatic demon. After living for over 900 years it’s only natural he’s a cocky man. And I felt there was a disregard for Holly’s issues, although I had a feeling his indifference would have a reason eventually. While he dismissed her need for her medication, he was also very aware of her idiosyncrasies and made sure to work within her parameters as much as possible as she went through her change.

Often in paranormal romance the “human” can be annoying while coming to terms with the fact that there are things in this world that are supernatural. For once, I didn’t feel that way. Holly didn’t immediately accept everything, but she also didn’t discount what happened in front of her face, which made her transition into the world of the Lore so much more palatable. She is a smart and caring woman who, unfortunately, had things happen in her life that nobody truly understood since she was adopted. Her adoptive parents were wonderful and only wanted what was best for her. Not being of the Lore, they didn’t realize they weren’t handling things properly. Watching Holly discover this new world on top of really getting to experience her emotions fully was a joy.

The comradery Holly and Cade have is wonderful with the added bonus of smoking hot chemistry. There is no fighting the pull, no matter how hard they try.

One sticky issue for me is Michigan. I’m from Michigan and the description of our topography threw me out of the story. Very inaccurate. I know this is fantasy, but it just took me by surprise. Not only do we not have anything I would consider a mountain, there is also no crossing by car into Canada from the Upper Peninsula. But whatever, I have to let that go because everything else I loved.

And what’s up with Rydstrom? From the start, when Cade references Rydstrom’s secret weakness I was intrigued. I guess I’ll have to wait for his story, which is thankfully next. The beginning and end of this story has me panting for Rydstrom’s HEA.

4 stars

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