Thursday, September 30, 2021

Book & Audio Review: A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

A Dragon of a Different Color

Rachel Aaron
Narrator: Vikas Adam
Series: Heartstrikers (Book 4)
Publication: Audible Studios (September 12, 2017); Aaron/Bach (July 28, 2017)
Length: 21 hours and 25 minutes; 525 p.

Description: To save his family from his tyrannical mother, Julius had to step on a lot of tails. That doesn’t win a Nice Dragon many friends, but just when he thinks he’s starting to make progress, a new threat arrives. Turns out, things can get worse. Heartstriker hasn’t begun to pay for its secrets, and the dragons of China are here to collect. When the Golden Emperor demands his surrender, Julius will have to choose between loyalty to the sister who's always watched over him and preserving the clan he gave everything to protect.

My Thoughts: The fourth Heartstrikers story sees lots of changes. With Marci dead (sort of), Julius is heartbroken but needs to put it aside when the Chinese dragons come to invade Heartstriker Mountain. The terms are too good to be true and puts Julius right in the middle of secrets Chelsie has been hiding for over 600 years.

Meanwhile, Marci is struggling to become a Merlin, fix the magic that is almost terminally broken, and find a way to get back to her human life and Julius. She is aided in her plans by Amelia who has goals of her own and Raven who also has been plotting to his own ends.

And the DFZ has become a Mortal Spirit due to Algonquin's efforts with Sir Myron as the human who is bonded to her. The two don't get along at all since Sir Myron has decided what has to happen to make everything come out right and can't see that a scorched Earth policy is good for anyone. 

Algonquin with its ally Leviathan - a Nameless End from outside of the planes - has declared war on the DFZ and all other Mortal Spirits. The action shifts to the DFZ where dragons, spirits, and Marci are gathering to try to stop plans that will destroy the plane. 

This was an engaging story with intriguing characters, lots of action, and lots of moral dilemmas. 

Favorite Quote:
The DFZ was Algonquin's Mortal Spirit. Not just the physical city, but the idea of it, the addictive promise of a city of absolute freedom that had been hammered down through countless movies, shows, novels, and video games ove the past sixty years. The concept of the DFZ as a place where anything could happen and anyone could go to start a new life was so common, it was its own family of clichés, and that was the entire point.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Book and Audio Review: White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz

White Lies

Jayne Ann Krentz
Narrator: David Colacci & Kathy Garver
Series: Arcane Society (Book 2)
Publication: Brilliance Audio (July 24, 2008); Berkley (January 23, 2007)
Length: 8 hours and 48 minutes; 395 p.

Description: Bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz takes us beyond the everyday boundaries of the mind—and the heart—in the second Arcane Society novel. 

Level-ten parasensitive Clare Lancaster has resigned herself to the fact that she may never find a suitable mate. A human lie detector, any falsehood—no matter how subtle—sets her blood racing. And most people, to one degree or another, hide behind a façade.

Including her business titan father’s new “consultant,” Jake Salter. His careful conversation walks a delicate line between truth and deception, revealing and resisting. But it is with his help that Clare begins to unravel a web of conspiracy and murder involving the powerful Arizona family that she just became a part of seven months ago. Caught in a dizzying storm of secrets, lies, and half-truths, Clare and Jake will plunge into an investigation that demands every bit of their special gifts, as something more than mere attraction sparks and sizzles between them…

My Thoughts: Clare Lancaster is a human lie detector, a Level 10* according to the Arcane Society. She is also the result of a one-night stand between her mother and Archer Glazebrook who has made it big in Arizona real estate. She only met him recently and has become good friends with her half-sister Elizabeth. 

When Elizabeth emailed her in San Francisco asking for help, Clare dropped everything to go get her. Elizabeth was being set up to be murdered by her husband Brad McAllister. He had convinced everyone, almost including Elizabeth, that she was having a nervous breakdown. But Clare knew that he was an especially evil kind of liar even though everyone else though he was a great guy. When she goes to confront him, she finds him shot to death in his home. Some, including Brad's mother, are convinced that Clare murdered him.

Brad's mother who happens to be married to Archer's former business partner Owen Shipley has made it her business to disrupt Clare's life. She has caused her fiance to drop her and the foundation that employed her to let her go. She has even managed to sabotage Clare's job hunt with other foundations. 

When Archer asks Clare to visit Arizona, she is free to do so but not to eager to return to Arizona. When she arrives, she meets Jake Salter who is supposed to be consulting with Archer about pensions and benefits for his business. But Jake has another agenda. He's a part-time investigator for J&J, the Arcane Society's primary investigators, who is looking for some evidence that a new cabal is working in Arizona.

Jake is also a high level talent; he's a Level 10* hunter. He's a little suspicious of Clare when he first meets her but he is also powerfully attracted to her. Clare knows she didn't kill Brad but is determined to find out who did. Her investigations and Jake's begins to overlap and the two become partners as they try to keep each other out of danger.

The story was filled with action, romance, and Krentz's usual quirky characters and witty banter. I liked that there were two narrators. David Colacci and Kathy Garver did a good job with all the male and female characters and also did a good job keeping up the tension in the story. 

Favorite Quote:
"The way I see it, if people couldn't lie, they probably wouldn't be able to live together in groups, at least not for very long oe with any degree of sociability. And there you have the bottom line."

"What bottom line?"

She spread her hands. "If humans could not lie, civilization as we know it would cease to exist."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr

Track of the Cat

Nevada Barr
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Series: Anna Pigeon Mysteries (Book 1)
Publication: Berkley; Reissue edition (June 3, 2003); Recorded Books (July 29, 2004)
Length: 276 p.; 8 hours and 27 minutes

Description: From the vivid opening vista, high in craggy mountains, to the final haunting glimpse of a moonlit canyon, Nevada Barr's first mystery, Track of the Cat, instantly caught the attention of readers and reviewers. Its popularity gained it both an Agatha and an Anthony Award.

The young naturalist, Anna Pigeon, has moved to the Southwest wilderness to be a park ranger. There, her days are filled with the physical demands of working in the Guadalupe Mountains and the satisfaction of living in this splendid land. Her peace is shattered one morning, though, when she discovers the body of another ranger deep in Dog Canyon. How did the usually cautious woman die? Although at first the evidence indicates an attack by a mountain lion, Anna soon suspects that there are craftier predators afoot in the wild grasses.

Fast-paced suspense and sharply defined characters will immediately sweep you up in the force of this compelling mystery. By the end, you'll be nodding in satisfaction at the final twist and anticipating the next book in the Anna Pigeon series. Narrator Barbara Rosenblat's performance highlights Anna's savvy courage and determination to catch her prey.

My Thoughts: The first Anna Pigeon mystery finds her in Texas. She's 39 and widowed and loves the isolation of being a ranger. She also loves the land and wildlife of her new home. She drinks too much and doesn't have many friends beyond her psychiatrist sister in New York City. 

When Anna discovers the body of another ranger while she is out scouting for tracks it first looks like that ranger was attacked and killed by a large cat. But Anna has her doubts. Too many things about the discovery don't make sense to her. But her attempts to investigate are not encouraged by her bosses. 

The apparent animal death is giving fuel to local ranchers who want to hunt down the large cats that they believe are harming their cattle. Anna will do anything to protect the large cats in her park even if she never actually sees one. 

Anna begins her own investigation of her fellow rangers death. When a second employee is also found dead in what looks like another "accident," Anna becomes even more determined to find out what really happened. Then Anna has an "accident" while hiking which almost causes her death. Someone is very determined to shut down Anna's investigation.

I loved the descriptions of the land where Anna is working. I loved Anna's love for the creatures under her care. I was glad when Anna finally made a friend in the park which helped her become less isolated from other people. 

The story was filled with suspense and action. Barbara Rosenblat did a great job narrating the story. She had a great handle on Anna's personality and emotions. This is the first of 19 books in the series which all take place in National Parks.

Favorite Quote:
Anna's mother-in-law, just turned eighty-one, said when she was a young woman she valued intelligence over all other human attributes. Now that she was older she valued kindness.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Book Review: Heron's Cove by Carla Neggers

Heron's Cove

Carla Neggers
Series: Sharpe & Donovan (Book 2)
Publication: MIRA; Original edition (July 31, 2012)

Description: Get swept up in this nail-biting tale from New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers as FBI agents Sharpe and Donovan fight to outwit an enemy set to tear them apart.

After escaping certain death, deep-cover agent Colin Donovan is back home on the Maine coast with his new love, FBI art crimes expert Emma Sharpe. Then Tatiana Pavlova, a London-based jewelry designer, arrives in Heron’s Cove, asking for Emma’s help—a prized collection from a lost era of Russian opulence, decadence and rare beauty has resurfaced, and Tatiana warns Emma it’s about to be stolen again. And Colin realizes his nightmare isn’t over. It’s just begun.

Emma guards her past closely, and Colin is determined to unlock her secrets. As they investigate the mysterious collection and the equally mysterious Tatiana, they confront their greatest challenge. Now they must count on their expertise—and each other—to outwit an enemy who wants to destroy them and everyone they love most.

My Thoughts: Colin Donovan went back undercover to try to finish up his previous case and then goes silent for three weeks. His family and Emma are concerned and. Emma is wondering if she should do something when she gets an tip from an anonymous source giving the address of where to find Colin. Just in time too. The villains had put him on a boat with the intention of taking him out to deep water and killing him. Colin rescues himself but the help arrived in time for the clean up.

He's back in Rock Point concerned that the villains might still be looking for him and might be able to track him home. He arrives to find that things in Rock Point and Heron's Cove aren't as serene as they could be. Emma has gotten a visit from a young Russian woman based in London who tells her that the Rusakov cache of art objects is coming to Heron's Cove and might be stolen. Emma's grandfather was called in when the cache was discovered in the walls of a mansion Dmitri Rusakov was renovating in Moscow twenty years earlier and Emma was called to London four years earlier when the cache went missing.

It is possible that Colin's Russian villains and Sharpe's former client are connected. When Dmitri and his colleague Ivan bring Dmitri's huge yacht to Heron's Cove and park it outside Sharpe's front door, both Colin and Emma are suspicious of their motives.

Emma feels certain that the art objects - jewelry and objects d'art with an Art Nouveau approach to Russian folklore - were stolen by Dmitri's American ex-wife. Now that woman's daughter is also in Heron's Cove wanting to sell her illegally gained inheritance back to Dmitri.

And while all this is going on, Colin and Emma's friend Father Fin Bracken is worrying about putting on his church's beanhole supper and having various encounters with Russian artists, American heiresses, and other assorted suspicious characters.

This was an engaging and entertaining thriller with great characters. I especially like the relationship between the four Donovan brothers. I also like that both Colin and Emma are private people with confidence in their own abilities who are still trying to fit each other into their lives. 

This is the second of a nine book series but would stand alone quite well since enough information is given to briefly summarize the first book and understand where the characters are coming from. 

Favorite Quote:
"Your brothers aren't here yet, I see."

"On their way. Finian too. Word travels fast in Rock Point." He touched a hand to her cheek. "How are you, Emma?"

"Glad to see you back in one piece."  

"I came close to being eaten by alligators." He tucked a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. "Yank says you  saved my ass."

"We all help each other."
I bought this one September 13, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

Audiobook Review: The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

The Curse of the Pharaohs

Elizabeth Peters
Series: Amelia Peabody (Book 2)
Narrator: Susan O'Malley
Publication: Blackstone Audio (May 23, 2003)
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes

Description: Victorian gentlewoman Amelia Peabody Emerson and her archaeologist husband are busy raising their young son; yet Amelia dreams only of the dust and detritus of ancient civilizations. Happily, circumstances are about to demand their immediate presence in Egypt. Sir Henry Baskerville had just discovered a tomb in Luxor when he promptly died under bizarre circumstances. The tabloids scream of The Curse of the Pharaohs!

Amelia and her husband arrive to find the camp in disarray and the workers terrified. A ghost even appears. It is not at all what Amelia considers an atmosphere conducive to scientific discovery. Thus the indomitable Victorian sets about bringing order to chaos and herself close to danger. How Amelia triumphs over evil and those who would stand between her and her beloved antiquities makes for a delightfully spirited adventure.

My Thoughts: This is the second Amelia Peabody adventure and is told in her own distinctive and eccentric voice. When the story begins, Amelia and her husband Emerson are stuck in England because neither wants to leave their young and precocious son Ramses bur are worried for his health if they take him to Egypt.

When Lady Baskerville comes to see them in England, they are persuaded to go to Egypt - leaving Ramses behind - to work on a tomb discovered by her late husband who died mysteriously. The newspapers are saying that he died of a mummy's curse which neither Peabody nor Emerson believes. However, something is wrong. There are other murders and attacks and the native workers are very reluctant to work on the tomb in case the curse might be real.

Peabody and Emerson compete with each other to be the first to discover what is really going on and find themselves in all sorts of danger as they investigate. 

I love Amelia Peabody's eccentric viewpoint. The book is filled with quirky characters who all might have reasons for the troubles at the tomb. I especially liked the old woman who is certain that Emerson was her lover in a past life. 

The narration was excellent. Susan O'Malley does a great job with the pacing and with making each character distinct. 

I received this one as part of my Audible membership. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 27, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 27, 2021)

 It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

This has been a cool, rainy, and fall-like week here in Northern Minnesota. I've been doing a lot of reading and baseball watching as the season is nearing the end. I also enjoyed the first week of the new season of The Voice.

This week I had an eye exam. I also got my flu shot while I was at the Clinic andhad no side effects. Later in the week, I ventured out and picked out new glasses. The oddities of my prescription mean I can't go someplace like Lenscrafter and get my glasses in an hour. They say a week to ten business days. I'll believe it when they call me that the glasses are ready.

This coming week looks like a quiet one too. My plans are to continue reading Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series. I am reading them out of order. Books 6 & 7 were on TBR mountain and have now been read and reviewed. Books 1 - 5 were hardcovers on my keeper shelves. I've been buying the Kindle and Audiobook as I reread. I also bought 8, 9, and 10 in hardcover from Amazon Marketplace but will likely be adding the audiobooks when I'm ready to read them. I have been enjoying these fairy tale retellings which are set in a magical, alternate history, Edwardian and Victorian England. 

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • The Kinsmen Universe by Ilona Andrews (Mine; Audiobook) -- This collection is paranormal romance set in a space opera world. The stories were entertaining. Two of three had been sitting on my Kindle since 2011. My review will be posted on November 4.
  • Miss Moriarty, I Presume? by Sherry Thomas (Review; November 2) -- This is the latest in the Lady Sherlock historical mystery series. My review will be posted on October 27.
  • Guild Boss by Jayne Castle (Review; November 16) -- This is the latest in the Harmony series of paranormal science fiction romances. I really enjoyed it. My review will be posted on November 10.
  • Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey (Mine; Reread; Audiobook) -- I own and have read the hardcover of this second in the Elemental Masters series. It was excellent on audio. My review will be posted on November 9.
  • Death on the Shelf by Allison Brook (Review; November 9) -- This is a new episode in the Haunted Library cozy series. My review will be posted on November 2.
  • The Serpent's Shadow by Mercedes Lackey (Mine; Reread) -- This is the first in the Elemental Masters series. It is also a retelling of Snow White set in an alternate Edwardian England. My review will be posted on November 11.
  • Cast in Moonlight by Michelle Sagara (Mine; Audiobook) -- This novella tells how Kaylin Neya came to be a member of the Hawks. Great introduction to the series. 
  • The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey (Mine; Reread; Audiobook) -- This is the second in the Elemental Masters series. While it is also a retelling of Snow White, it is a very different story than the first in the Elemental Masters series. Great worldbuilding, wonderful characters and lyrical language. My review will be posted on November 16.
Next Week

I am going to continue with the Elemental Masters series and also slotting in some November review books.

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

What was your week like?

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Cast in Conflict by Michelle Sagara

Cast in Conflict

Michelle Sagara
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Chronicles of Elantra (Book 16)
Publication: MIRA; Original edition (June 29, 2021); Harlequin Audio (June 29, 2021)
Length: 461 p.; 17 hours and 38 minutes


A Dragon and ten Barrani wouldn’t be anyone’s ideal roommates if a person wants peace and tranquility at home. The residue of three Draco-Barrani wars can make things pretty awkward—on a good day. Kaylin Neya has run out of good days.

In the upheaval surrounding the Academia, the Tower in the fief of Candallar is now without its lord. The Towers were created to protect Elantra against Shadow. Dragon Bellusdeo wants to captain the Tower and continue a war she’ll never be able to abandon. But Sedarias, leader of the Barrani cohort, wants the Tower for the cohort. And Barrani and Dragons don’t negotiate, even when they’re living under the same roof.

If there were ever a time for Shadow to strike, it’s now, when alliances are fractured and the Tower is vulnerable for the first time in centuries. More than ever, Kaylin needs her friends to work together if they’re going to be able to stop the threat to Elantra.

My Thoughts: Things are changing for Kaylin and her housemates. Now that Candallar has died his tower is in need of a new captain. Two of Kaylin's housemates want the tower for themselves. Bellusdeo, the only female dragon, wants the tower to continue her war against Shadow since she feels that she failed in her previous battles. She hasn't been happy in Elantra where she feels she has no real purpose beyond being the mother of her race. 

Sedarias, the leader of the Barrani cohort, wants the tower to provide a place of safety for the cohort. She is having difficulties with the cohort who are starting to develop their own interests including Serralyn and Valliant who have become students at the Academia. Sedarias feels that she can't protect the cohort anymore if they are all going off in new directions. Her very dysfunctional childhood is coloring all her relationships.

Meanwhile, the tower itself has an ancient dragon at its heart and doesn't seem to be in a hurry to pick a new captain. But threats are growing and the outcaste dragon in Ravellon is eager to take advantage of the confusion to snatch Bellusdeo for his own and spread Shadow in Elantra.

This was a great story. I enjoyed all the information about the towers. I also enjoyed meeting a new race of beings even though their physical appearance of being very large spiders gave Kaylin the creeps. I also enjoyed the discussions of guilt and grief and was glad to see that Kaylin is learning to move past her guilt. 

Fans of the series will enjoy this episode and be eager for more. 

Favorite Quote:
"But failure defines and shapes us--and not solely because we fail. How we deal with failure, how we deal with what it means about ourselves and our own capabilities, says more about us than almost anything else could. He does not know who Bellusdeo is, in the wake of catastrophic failure. But dear, neither does she."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Friday Memes: Cast in Conflict by Michelle Sagara

 Happy Friday everybody!

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Corporal Kaylin Neya understood exactly why Bellusdeo, her Dragon roommate, had never really called the Arkon by his title.
Friday 56:
Severn nodded. "They would be difficult to map, yes." His tone made clear that some intrepid cartographer would be forced to do it anyway.

"The Emperor doesn't rule the fiefs. He can't just order someone to map them."
This week I am spotlighting Cast in Conflict by Michelle Sagara. It is the 16th book in the Chronicles of Elantra fantasy series. I have been reading them since the series began in 2005. Here is the description from Amazon for this episode:

A Dragon and ten Barrani wouldn’t be anyone’s ideal roommates if a person wants peace and tranquility at home. The residue of three Draco-Barrani wars can make things pretty awkward—on a good day. Kaylin Neya has run out of good days.

In the upheaval surrounding the Academia, the Tower in the fief of Candallar is now without its lord. The Towers were created to protect Elantra against Shadow. Dragon Bellusdeo wants to captain the Tower and continue a war she’ll never be able to abandon. But Sedarias, leader of the Barrani cohort, wants the Tower for the cohort. And Barrani and Dragons don’t negotiate, even when they’re living under the same roof.

If there were ever a time for Shadow to strike, it’s now, when alliances are fractured and the Tower is vulnerable for the first time in centuries. More than ever, Kaylin needs her friends to work together if they’re going to be able to stop the threat to Elantra.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Book & Audio Review: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished

Rachel Aaron
Narrator: Vikas Adam
Series: Heartstrikers (Book 3)
Publication: Aaron/Bach (August 5, 2016); Audible Studios (September 13, 2016)
Length: 517 p.; 18 hours and 51 minutes

Description: When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

My Thoughts: Bethesda has been defeated but that doesn't mean that forming a council will be smooth sailing for Julius. Bethesda is still working to sabotage everything from behind the scenes and changing centuries of clan behavior isn't something that can happen overnight. Especially when it is the youngest and least valued member of the clan who is advocating for the change.

Julius is buried deep in dragon politics and Marci is left on her own in the mountain with massive problems of her own to solve. She and Ghost have made pledges to each other but neither really knows what they are dealing with. When the UN in the person of General Emily Jackson who is head of the United Nations Magical Disaster Response Force and Sir Myron Rollins who is the undersecretary of magic for the UN come to see her, they have a proposal and some information that could change everything. 

It seems that Ghost might be a Mortal Spirit who has appeared at least 50 years before schedule and the Marci might be the first Merlin on this new age of magic. If she is, then she might have the power to stand up to spirits like Algonquin and dragons too. The UN wants to put her under its protection while it is determined if she is the Merlin. Accepting means leaving Julius and their new relationship behind. But staying in the mountain is harming Ghost because their isn't enough magic to feed him. 

Marci is torn between Julius and Ghost. And Julius is struggling equally hard to bring his vision of a changed dragon clan to life. They are both under tremendous pressure. 

This story was filled with dragon politics and dragon secrets. Julius wants to make everything better but he has to survive a number of assassination plots before he can even try. And then there is Bob who has plots of plans of his own and Julius is his favorite tool...

This was an great story excellently narrated by Vikas Adam. I was totally immersed in the story from the first word to the last. 

Favorite Quote:
"By your logic, anyone who loses is worthless, but losing is part of life. No one wins every single fight. Losing is the price for trying, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It definitely shouldn't be punished with death."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman

A Reckless Match

Kate Bateman
Series: Ruthless Rivals (Book 1)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (September 28, 2021)


Madeline Montgomery grew up despising––and secretly loving––the roguish Gryffud “Gryff” Davies. Their families have been bitter rivals for hundreds of years, but even if her feelings once crossed the line between love and hate, she’s certain Gryff never felt the same. Now, she’s too busy saving her family from ruin to think about Gryff and the other “devilish” Davies siblings. Since he’s off being scandalous in London, it’s not like she’ll ever see him again...


As the new Earl of Powys, Gryff Davies planned on spending his post-war life enjoying the pleasures of London. But when an illegal duel forces him to retreat to his family’s Welsh castle, he realizes the only exciting thing in the dull countryside will be seeing the fiery Maddie Montgomery. Thoughts of his nemesis sustained Gryff throughout the war; but the girl he loved to tease has grown into a gorgeous, headstrong woman – who loathes him just as much as she ever did. Will secret tunnels, dangerous smugglers, and meddling from their feuding families be enough to make Maddie and Gryff realize that their animosity is really attraction...and maybe even love?

A Reckless Match is the first in a new regency romance series by Kate Bateman about two feuding families, and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

My Thoughts: This story was a nice start to a historical romance series. The Montgomery family and the Davies family have had neighboring estates for centuries. And through all that time they have been enemies and rivals in every possible arena. It got so bad that the king set up a buffer zone between the two estates and required one Montgomery and one Davies to meet on a bridge in the middle of that territory and shake hands once a year on the equinox.

This year Maddie Montgomery is hoping that the Davies representative won't show up. Her father has made some bad financial decisions and the family really needs to own the buffer zone to make a financial recovery. If not, Maddie might be forced to marry the distasteful local magistrate. 

With just moments to spare, Gryff Davies shows up. He's been forced to leave his military career since his father's death and his inheritance of the land. And he's been building a reputation in London as quite a rake including dueling which is only marginally legal. Worst of all, Gryff has been Maddy's nemesis since they were children. 

Each has had a (mostly) secret crush on the other since they were children. Now events keep throwing them together. First, he rescues her from a fall into an unknown and unexplored cave. Then they discover smugglers and get trapped in the caves after the smugglers set off an explosion.

This was a fun romance. I liked that Maddie was a bluestocking with an interest in archaeology. I liked that Gryff was honorable and heroic and his reputation as a rake undeserved. I liked the side characters and can see where the next romances are probably going. 

Fans of the genre will enjoy this engaging story. 

Favorite Quote:
"How's your bottom? Bruised? Want me to take a look?"

She sent him a narrow-eyed look.

"Maybe you should loosen your bodice?" he said, straight-faced. "Let yourself breathe."

"You seem full of helpful suggestions to undress me."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

ARC Review: Her Renegade Cowboy by Lora Leigh

Her Renegade Cowboy

Lora Leigh
Series: Moving Violations (Book 3)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (September 28, 2021)

Description: He will risk his life…

The oh-so-proper school teacher, Lily Donovan has learned, the hard way, that men are not to be trusted. Period. Until Levi Roberts, the new cowboy working at her cousin's ranch, tempts her carefully-built resolve and awakens an all-consuming passion she thought lay dormant. But when she discovers his deadly secret, and her own secrets come to light, Lily unwittingly joins the lethal cat and mouse race between Levi and the man he’s been hunting for weeks.

To save her heart…

Former Ranger Levi Roberts has seen his fair share of deadly trouble during his years as a tough-as-nails operative. The ultimate expert in undercover investigations, he’s been tasked to find a man with a dangerous agenda in town. Routine work has been boring…until he runs into Lily, the prickly school teacher who tempts him like no other. Getting under her skin has been deliciously satisfying for his red-hot desire, but when Lily lands in the hands of the very man he’s been investigating, Levi will have to fight with every ounce of his heart and soul to save her―and to heal the heart he broke.

My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Moving Violations series. The main characters are Lily Donovan and Levi Roberts. 

Lily is now an elementary school teacher but, while she was a college student, she was groomed and assaulted by her psychology professor who was a serial rapist building up to be a serial killer. Lily was almost his second murder victim but escaped and testified against him resulting in his prison sentence. Her role was kept quiet. No one but her sister and a cousin's wife knows what happened.

However, now professor Graham Brisbee has escaped from prison and Lily refuses to go into protective custody. Former Army Ranger and current Deputy Marshal Levi Roberts is sent undercover to watch over her and be on the lookout for Brisbee.

The two fall in love and have lots of hot sex almost before they have a conversation. In between the very descriptive sex scenes both feel guilty about keeping secrets from the other. When Levi's identity is outed, Lily naturally feels betrayed and is determined to have nothing further to do with Levi. Meanwhile, Levi is willing to do anything to apologize because Lily is the first woman he has ever wanted to have a long-term relationship with. 

Then Brisbee shows up, kidnaps Lily's sister and demands Lily come to him. Levi has to find her before it's too late. 

If you like your romantic suspense filled with sex scenes, this is the book for you. 

Favorite Quote:
She'd been hurt, nearly killed, by one man, but she sensed that this man could break her inside, and that terrified her. Terrified her and drew her.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh

Angels' Blood

Nalini Singh
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Series: Guild Hunter (Book 1)
Publication: Tantor Audio (May 7, 2010); Berkley (Feb. 2, 2009)
Length: 10 hours and 29 minutes; 372 p.

Description: Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and bloodlust, where angels hold sway over vampires.

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break.

My Thoughts: Elena Deveraux is a vampire hunter. She is hired to retrieve vampires who have jumped their contracts with Angels or who have otherwise broken the law. Elena is a born hunter who has been disowned by her father because she doesn't fit into his social and business positions. She was a survivor of an attack by a rogue vampire when she was a child. Her two older sisters were killed and her mother later committed suicide. Elena is haunted by that time which lost her her family and her safe life.

Now an adult, Elena is contracted to a hunt by the Archangel of New York. Raphael is powerful, immortal, beautiful, and completely in charge. The brutality of some of his actions make him someone to be feared. Elena also fears him and doesn't want to come to his attention.

But the Archangels have a problem: one of their own has fallen prey to blood lust. Uram can only be killed by another Archangel but it will take a talented hinter to find him. And Uram is leaving quite a trail of dead bodies and fear behind him. 

This is a paranormal romance. Therefore, Elena becomes fascinated with Raphael despite her fear and Raphael becomes intrigued with Elena because of her courage and determination no to become another notch on his bedpost. 

I enjoyed the worldbuilding in this story which introduces all powerful and immortal angels to the pantheon. The characters are well-developed. I liked Elena's circle of friends and Raphael's circle of angels and vampires.

ANGELS' BLOOD is the first book in a series that has currently extended to 14 novels and 4 novellas with no end in sight. 

Favorite Quote:
Raphael stood in front of the elevator he's been told would transport him to the Cellars. But it appeared he had no need to go down below. His quarry had been flushed out.

The message was pinned to the side of the elevator doors, held up by a nail that had been driven with enough force that concrete dust littered the ground.

You want to play, angel boy? Then let's play.

Find me.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Book Review: Right Behind Her by Melinda Leigh

Right Behind Her

Melinda Leigh
Series: Bree Taggert (Book 4)
Publication: Montlake (September 14, 2021)

Description: The discovery of human remains unearths another nightmare from Sheriff Bree Taggert’s past in a bone-chilling thriller by #1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh.

Twenty-seven years ago, Sheriff Bree Taggert’s father killed her mother, then himself. Now Bree and her younger brother, Adam, find human bones on the grounds of their abandoned family farm. The remains are those of a man and a woman, both murdered in the same horrible way.

When the investigation determines the murders occurred thirty years ago, Bree’s dead father becomes a suspect, forcing Bree to revisit the brutal night she’s spent most of her life trying to forget. The only other suspect is an unlikely squatter on the Taggert farm who claims to know secrets about Bree’s past. When he mysteriously disappears and Bree’s niece is kidnapped, the cold case heats up.

Bree has stoked the rage of a murderer who’ll do anything to keep his identity—and motives—a secret. To protect everyone she loves, Bree must confront a killer.

My Thoughts: Adam has finally convinced Bree to visit their childhood home which he now owns. Adam wants to remember things that happened there when he was a baby. Bree was eight-years-old and remembers all too well the night her father killed her mother and then himself while she hid with her younger sister and infant Adam under the porch. She has been trying to block those memories for twenty-seven years.

As they explore the property, they discover that a man has been living in the loft of the abandoned barn. He attacks them and runs leaving Bree to catch him. They discover that he is the brother of a local big shot - one who has strong influence on the sheriff's department budget. Arresting him doesn't make Bree's efforts to get money for the sheriff's department more likely.

Things get worse when bones are discovered near where her father kept his dogs. The bones lead to a murder investigation thirty years old and Bree and Adam's deceased father is one of the suspects. As Bree and her boyfriend Matt investigate, old and long-buried secrets resurface and a killer tries to keep them buried. 

This story was packed with action and had great characters. I like watching Bree learn to deal with her childhood trauma and build relationships with her niece and nephew and with Matt. Overcoming her abusive childhood in order to make a better life for herself and for the children in her care is a goal she's working on. 

Fans of this series, of which this is the fourth book, will enjoy the action, mystery, and the strong characters. New readers will enjoy getting to know Bree, Matt, and her family. 

He turned to her. The yearning in his hazel eyes brought unshed tears to hers. As hard as Adam was trying to recall their childhood, Bree was working just as hard to forget it. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 20, 2021)

 It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great wayThis  to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

It is really starting to feel like Fall here in Northern Minnesota. Nights are cool and the day warm up nicely. Sometimes, like today, the air conditioner is on since the outdoor temperature is 82 degrees F. Looking out my patio door shows me a maple that has turned completely red but otherwise all the trees are still full of green leaves. 

This was a great week for reading. I managed to remove a few from TBR mountain. Others, I tried and put back on the shelf. They didn't catch my attention. As I'm looking at the shelves, I see several that I will likely never read. I should start some new bags of books to move out of my house, but I just got rid of the last bags and like the way the rooms look without them. 

This has been a disappointing week for my baseball viewing. My Braves have begun a prolonged losing streak. They've dropped from being 5.5 games up to just one up as today's games begin. They are on a West Coast road trip which means the games don't begin until late in the evening in my time zone. I like staying up late but it makes for a long day when games don't finish until after midnight. 

This week should see the return of The Voice. I'm eager for the new season to begin since it is almost the only thing I watch on television besides baseball. 

I have an eye doctor's appointment early on Tuesday and hope to get my flu shot while I'm at the Clinic. That will remove two things from my to-do list. 

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Liar's Key by Carla Neggers (Kindle) -- 6th book in the Sharpe & Donovan series. My review will be posted on October 14.
  • Rock Point by Carla Neggers (Kindle) -- Prequel novella to the Sharpe & Donovan series. 
  • Thief's Mark by Carla Neggers (Kindle) -- 7th book in the Sharpe & Donovan series. My review will be posted on October 19.
  • Imposter's Lure by Carla Neggers (Kindle) -- 8th Sharpe & Donovan book. My review is scheduled for October 21.
  • Rival's Break by Carla Neggers (Kindle) -- 9th book in the Sharpe & Donovan series. My review will be posted on October 26.
  • The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Kindle & Audiobook) -- This YA mystery is the sequel to THE INHERITANCE GAMES and was extremely entertaining. My review will be posted on October 28.
  • Right Behind Her by Melinda Leigh (Kindle) -- Nice addition to the Bree Taggart Romantic Suspense series. My review will be posted later today.
  • Unnatural Issue by Mercedes Lackey (Hardcover and Audiobook) -- Excellent historical fantasy that has been on my TBR mountain too long. My review will be posted on November 3.
  • Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey (Audiobook) -- The hardcover is from my TBR pile and has been there since 2013.
  • The Kinsman Universe by Ilona Andrews (Kindle and Audiobook) -- This replaces Kindle copies of the stories in this anthology that I got in 2011 and no longer have.
Next Week

I don't know yet. I'm browsing my TBR mountain. This week I tried 3 or 4 other books before settling on those I did read. 

Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

  • Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey (Audiobook) -- I've had the hardcover on my TBR mountain since January 2013.
  • The Kinsman Universe by Ilona Andrews (Kindle & Audiobook) -- I once had 2/3 of this anthology on Kindle which I added to my collection in 2011, but didn't buy them from Amazon and can't find them now. 
I also shopped Audible's sale this week and got these for $5 each. I already have and have read the print versions. 
What was your week like?