Friday, February 28, 2014

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead by Patricia Eimer


Title: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Author: Patricia Eimer
My Rating: B 

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Speak of the Devil #3
Main Characters: Faith and Matt
Release Date: February 2014
Publisher: Entangled
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: mild


Story Overview:
Not Even Death Keeps a Good Demoness Down

There’s never an end to the crazy when you’re demon spawn. Not that Faith Bettincourt’s complaining. She’s been patching things up with her angelic on-again off-again boyfriend, Matt, and her best-friend-turned-sister-in-law is soon giving birth to the Anti-Christ Part Deux. Oh, and Faith is saving kids from Death in her pediatric unit one soul at a time. Life is good.

Until Faith accidentally runs over the Angel of Death and is forced to take his place. Now she’s taking lives instead of saving them. Which is kind of a problem when you’re a nurse. As if that weren’t bad enough, she is suddenly thrust into the worst scenario of them all--Matt’s ex Brenda is back, and she’s brought the Apocalypse with her.

Faith’s not about to give up the world...or her man. But when the chips are down, what’s a demoness supposed to do? Besides take matters into her own hands, of course.

My Review:
I'm not usually a huge reader of humorous romance. I have to be in the right mood for it. This series has been an exception for me in that area. I've truly loved the first two books in the series. 

While this one was a fun read too, it lost something for me. The series skirts along the edge of religion in a wonderful way. I love Patricia Eimer's world and her quirky view on how religion and all those players within it might work behind the scenes, but this book delved too deeply into some of the quagmire of the end-days and such....which lost me as a reader. It got too deep into the religious aspects there in the hospital scenes which I have no interest in when reading. 

One other teeny, tiny complaint...I've loved the relationship between Matt and Faith through the whole series. There has always been lots going on, but their relationship has stayed front and center. That didn't happen in this book. Matt was there and things are happening between them, but the scenes where he's there almost seemed like an afterthought. Especially with Faith's new power issues in this one, I wanted to see more scenes with just the two of them.

In this book, Faith has a car accident...she hits the Angel of Death who then gives her his powers as he dies. This sets off a huge chain reaction of apocalyptic proportions. Oh, and yeah, being the Angel of Death also is a curse because anyone you touch dies....not good news for Faith and her new fiance, Matt. 

The entire gang is here again... 
*Faith's dad the Omega (Satan)
*Faith's uncle the Alpha (God)
*her cousin, J (Jesus)
*her brother Tolliver (Antichrist)
*her fiance Matt...the new leader of the Angale (assassin angels who kill demons...yeah, Faith is a demon)

It's an interesting mix and Patricia Eimer continues to bring her completely original views of this biblical family into the stories in such an entertaining way. The entire series is completely creative and inventive and I do love all the snark. And there are some especially sweet scenes between Faith and J in this book which I loved that went back to his crucifixion. And I know that sounds odd to take a humorous viewpoint on these things that people cherish so deeply, but again...Patricia Eimer does it really well, without getting too religious...for the most part. Like I said, there were moments in this book. But if anything, these books actually put a human face on these characters, especially J...who supposedly lived a human life here on earth. 

Confession...I was raised in a VERY religious upbringing, but probably border on atheist at this point. As a result, I normally hate books with a deeply religious slant. This series is not like that. As a reader with a religious background, I love the humor and fun that the author has been able to infuse into these characters...and never does she do it in a bad way either...I truly don't think these books will offend deeply religious readers either. 

Bottom line...If you like humor in your romance, you need to be reading this series. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bittersweet Darkness by Nina Croft


Title: Bittersweet Darkness
Author: Nina Croft
My Rating: A+

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Series: The Order #3
Main Characters: Faith and Ash
Release Date: February 2014
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot



Story Overview:
There are no monsters, only good guys and bad guys. That’s the creed by which Detective Inspector Faith Connolly has always lived. 

When Faith discovers that she has a time bomb counting down in her head, she has one goal; to solve the murder case she’s working on—a young girl who was found drained of blood—and in doing so gain closure for a long ago murder never solved. Her investigation brings her in contact with Ash Delacourt. Ash is all black leather, big guns and sexy bad attitude—definitely not one of the good guys.

As payment for a debt, Asmodai AKA Ash Delacourt, finds himself working with the Order of the Shadow Accords. He’s the demon representative on the newly formed Committee for the Integration of Mankind and well…everything else. It’s a chance to be near his daughter, make a new start, and—once he’s met the delectable detective—maybe have a little fun.

There are no monsters. But as Faith’s investigation deepens, her beliefs are eroded and for the first time, she is falling in love—with one of the bad guys. But how can she ever let Ash close when her time is running out…?

My Review:
I loved everything about this book. I've read a few other books by Nina Croft, but this was the first book I've read from this series. Although it was obvious which characters featured in the first two books, I didn't feel like I was ever missing out on anything by dropping into the series at book #3.

This book features Faith, a detective who sees everything as black and white. There are no gray areas for her. Her long-time partner has just quit to go work for a mysterious company. She's also in the process of finding out that she probably is dying because she has a blood vessel in her head that could burst at any point. She's trying to solve a mysterious serial killer case which has all the signs of pointing to a vampire....something that Faith refuses to even consider...monsters aren't real. In the middle of it all, she's forced into a reassignment working for paranormal investigations...not great for the girl who absolutely does not believe in paranormals of any sort. Just don't tell her that her new boyfriend is a demon and there are all kinds of things out there that go bump in the night. 

Like I said, I really, really liked this story. I love how tough and independent Faith is...she's truly alone in this world and my heart hurt for her throughout so much of this book. She's so lonely. But Ash has that issue, too. He hasn't been involved with anyone in 23 years when his heart was shattered. He has no desire to ever put his heart out there like that again...but he keeps feeling the pull to Faith, which is the worst thing in the world since she is especially vulnerable as a human. He doesn't even know about the time-bomb in her head. 

I liked the set-up of the romance and the story and the world. It was interesting. The whole premise is that the supernatural beings are setting the groundwork for outing themselves to humans which is creating new partnerships within those groups...but not everyone is happy about that. In this book, there is definitely a switch around with the parameters of good and evil and how the traditional elements like demons and angels aren't what humans have always thought. I loved it. I need to go back and read the first two books and definitely look forward to more books that take place in this world. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Death Defying by Nina Croft


Title: Death Defying
Author: Nina Croft
My Rating: A 

Genre: Sci Fi Romance 
Series: Blood Hunter #3
Main Characters: Tannis and Callum
Release Date: February 2014
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Part snake, part human, and—some would say all bitch—Captain Tannis of the starship El Cazador has one goal in life—to earn enough credits to pay for the Meridian treatment to achieve the immortality she craves. And one last job will get her there. The assignment: protecting the most powerful man in the Universe.

Being leader of the known universe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks big time. And after five hundred years, Callum Meridian, founding member of the Collective, is bored out of his mind. But as things are changing, he’s changing—into what, though, he isn’t sure. Callum is determined to discover the truth, and he’s employed the crew of El Cazador to help him do it.

Not everyone agrees with his plan, though. His own people will stop at nothing to prevent the truth coming out, the Church is taking advantage of the confusion and attempting a coup, and even the crew of El Cazadorseem close to tossing him out the airlock without a space suit. But defying death has never been more dangerous, sexier, or more fun.

My Review:
There's not much romance like this out right now. This is a sci fi series set in a futuristic world of space ships and other planets. This is #3 in the series and I think you'd be fine reading this one as a stand-alone, but I recommend all three books. The series is really good and so creative. I've loved it. 

This book is about Tannis, the Captain of the El Cazador, the space ship owned by the vampire, Rico. Tannis and Rico have been partners for a long time, but I loved this book because it showed how their partnership evolved 15 years ago when they escaped from a medical experimentation facility. At the time of their escape she had lived in that facility for 16 years...from the time she was 4 years old. As a result, that time shaped who she became....a tough, no-nonsense chick. It also made her determined to get the Meridian treatment...an ultra-expensive treatment that makes the recipient virtually immortal. The Meridian treatments are issued by the Collective which is run by Callum. 

Callum is an interesting character. He fell into his roll as leader of the Collective by happenstance. It's a job with extreme power and responsibilities ruling over a huge universe. He's done the job for several centuries...several centuries of delegating responsibilities and decisions. As he works with Tannis's crew he suddenly begins to realize that all those decisions that he basically made on paper had real-life ramifications to real people that he never considered. He's responsible for lots of really horrific acts...and that makes him an interesting hero. He's not innocent, by any means, but he's not a bad guy either. 

Callum hires Tannis's ship and crew to take him to the planet where Meridian is mined. Something is changing with the physiology of those people who have taken the dose and he wants answers...something that his government is not happy about. He hopes that Tannis's crew and talents can keep his government away while they find answers. Complicating things even further is the Church, another entity that is enemies with the Collective. The Church has decided to destroy the planet where the Meridian is mined. It's a race across the galaxy to see who can get there first. 

I enjoyed the romance between Tannis and Callum a lot. The sparks between the two of them are amazing and the sex scenes are incredibly hot, but it's more than just that. Callum is used to getting his way. I like how that changes throughout the book and as things become more and more obvious through the book to him, he slowly begins to give Tannis the space that she needs. But then in the end, the scenes between them are so tender and so loving. They broke my heart. 

And let's talk about the end here a bit (no worries, it will be spoiler-free). Over an over in the last 30% of the book I gasped and cried as my heart twisted and broke. There are so many edge-of-your-seat moments at the end of this book. I didn't plan to finish the book the night that I did so, but I hit a certain point in the story and there was absolutely no way I was putting the book down again. There are several really shocking things that happen and twists that I did not see coming. It was almost written like this was the final book in the series. I hope it's not just because I love this crew and this world. I'm hoping it's just evolving into a slightly new world, but we shall see. Regardless, though, it was an excellent book and I highly recommend it and the entire series. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hard As You Can (Review) by Laura Kaye

Title: Hard As You Can
Author: Laura Kaye
My Rating: A 

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Hard Ink #2
Main Characters: Crystal and Shane
Release Date: February 2013
Publisher: Avon
Links to Purchase
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: spicy





About HARD AS YOU CAN:
Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can--and never let go.

Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo



My Review:
And the plot thickens....Whoa, I am dying to know where these guys are going to end up. This is another (fabulous) installment of the Hard Ink series. 5 guys dishonorably discharged from the military who are searching for an answer to why. In this book, that over-arching story line took a backseat to the story of Crystal and the mess that she's caught up in....a mess that loosely ties to the guys' circumstance too.

Crystal was introduced briefly in the first book when the guys saved Charlie from the nightclub he was being held and tortured in. She works there and aided them in getting out. But Crystal is more than just a waitress in a seedy club. She has her own story. She's paying off the debt her father left to the local gang...in so many different ways. She's basically spent the last four years as a slave, bowing to the whims of Bruno, to help keep her sister safe with the medicine she needs for her epilepsy. 

Shane has a soft side for down-trodden women and Crystal immediately captures his attention. I liked his backstory and the way that it immediately tied him to Crystal. He has his own very personal ties to human trafficking which makes this mission so hard for him....both what's happening to Crystal and what the Church gang is doing. That side of this story really worked for me. 

I also really, really love the relationships that all these guys have as a team. Shane and Nick...their scene sorting it all out broke my heart, but in the best way. Really well-written scene. The entire team is in this book again and I liked that we got to see where Charlie's recovery is at. I like the images of the Hard Ink warehouse as they begin to transform it into what they need it to be. With the addition to all the siblings and new allies, this building is becoming quite a hive of activity.

This book jumps right into the action and it doesn't seem to let go throughout the entire story. Crystal is definitely living right on the edge and having Shane in her life puts her more at risk. That gives reading the book a healthy dose of adrenaline....because these guys have pitted themselves against Church and his gang, which holds really high stakes for them since Church has the local law and it looks like federal support in his pocket too. Things are definitely heating up for these five and I have to wonder how/where they go from here. The events in this book definitely take them to new levels and are bound to make things even more uncomfortable for their security in the future. I can't wait to see what happens and how Laura Kaye plans to unravel it all. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

NOTE: located just below this review on my blog is a promo post for the book. It has an excerpt, interview with Laura, and a great giveaway rafflecopter. Be sure to check it all out. 


Hard As You Can (Promo Post) by Laura Kaye



It’s release day! And I’m thrilled to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.




About HARD AS YOU CAN:
Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can--and never let go.

Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo
Today, I’m excited to share Shane and Crystal’s first kiss! Don’t you love first kiss scenes? Gah! I so do. *grins* 

Here we go:

“Tell me not to,” Shane said, his voice a raw scrape.

“I can’t,” Crystal whispered in a shaky voice. “I don’t want to.”

Shane’s body took over then, all urgent need and basic instinct. The rest of the world be damned. He pulled her in and kissed her, his lips devouring, his tongue exploring deep. Nothing held back. Nothing denied. Not even as her lips reawakened the sting from the cut on his lip. Totally worth it.

Crystal’s arms came up around him. She trembled against him, and Shane wasn’t sure if it was caused by adrenaline or fear. Unable to tolerate the thought that she might feel forced, he eased off.

She moaned and held him tighter, like his retreat had made something snap within her. Their kisses deepened, and her body moved against his, sinuously, maddeningly, desperately.

They tasted one another again and again, giving in to the heat that had sparked between them from the moment Crystal had collided with him at Confessions. Little nips and bites of lips and teeth warred with long, sensual strokes of tongue that stole his breath and made him instantly hard. The sting in his lip, the throb of his GSW, the aches from Nick’s asskicking, every bit of it faded away—no, her touch made it all go away.

The few times they’d spoken, Crystal had most often been guarded, tentative, fearful. Just as she’d been when he first kissed her. But, now, she was revealing a passionate woman who could be fearless, giving and receiving openly and without hesitation. Christ, the thought that this fierceness was the real Crystal slayed him because it meant she was burying and denying her true self, not because she wanted to, but because she had to.

No, because someone forced her to.

The thought reminded him of the bruises on her arm. Shane had known this woman for three days, and twice in that time she’d been hurt by another man. And both as a consequence for things Shane had done.

A crack of thunder echoed from the heavens, making Crystal jump and gasp into his mouth.
“I’ve got you,” he rasped around a kiss.

Part of him wanted to say more, to tell her he had her and he’d keep her safe. But he couldn’t make himself give up her heat, her sweetness, her obvious hunger—for him.

So he made her a silent promise instead.

Never again, Crystal. He’ll never hurt you again. Not on my watch.

Because Shane McCallan had made a mistake like that once. And, as bad as his sister’s disappearance had been, something’s happening to Crystal would actually be worse because Shane knew it was coming. The one break he’d ever given himself over Molly was that he’d had no way to know she’d be abducted. Didn’t excuse the role he played in allowing it to happen, but he couldn’t have known. But with Crystal, while he might not know when or how this Bruno asshole would strike out to do the ultimate damage, it was all but a done deal at this point. Always was with guys like him. And Shane would go to the grave before he let it happen, before he failed another female for whom he cared.

Because he did care. Made no damn sense given how long he’d known her. And the timing was beyond piss-poor. But there it was all the same.

So that’s Shane and Crystal starting to give in to what they feel for one another – I hope you enjoyed! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!
~Laura

Q&A WITH LAURA KAYE
HARD AS YOU CAN is your second book in the “Hard Ink” series (after USA Today bestseller, HARD AS IT GETS). What can readers look forward to? 

Readers can look forward to tons of sexy alpha male goodness, awesome bromance between the Hard Ink men, more antics from the Hard Ink puppy, and another great love story between Shane and Crystal. But readers should also be ready for a book that is darker, more intense, and more emotional. This book pushed me to emotional places that were tough as a writer, and might be tough for readers, too. But I think that just makes the payoff at the end so much sweeter!

Describe Shane and Crystal. What are their best traits? What are their weaknesses?

Shane and Crystal are such an amazing couple to me. They’re each exactly what the other needs. Shane’s best traits are his protectiveness, his fundamental kindness, and his soul-deep loyalty (his southern accent and humor are also right up there!). His biggest weakness for sure is a tragedy from the past for which he blames himself—and it’s something that continues to motivate him in Hard As You Can. Crystal’s best traits are her courage, protectiveness, and selflessness—she’s willing to do anything to keep her younger sister safe. Her biggest weakness is also that selflessness, because the sacrifices she’s required to make are getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

If you could describe your book in a 140 character tweet, what would it be?

When a woman in trouble assists an ex-soldier's covert mission to regain his team's stolen honor, he finds a new mission to save her, too

What are you most excited about with this second book release?

I’m really excited to take readers deeper into these awesome characters and into the mystery behind the Hard Ink team’s ambush and discharge!

What books are you reading right now?

I’m almost done with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (yes, I’m very late to the party but OMG JAMIE FRASER!!!). And I’ve recently devoured and loved Juliana Stone’s Offsides and Shelly Thacker’s time-travel historical romance, Forever His.

What can fans of your “Hard Ink” series look forward to next?

There will be two more Hard Ink books in 2014! 

Hard to Hold on To – August 2014
Hard to Come By – November 2014


About Laura Kaye:

Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.