Time to get scared: Ascendent by Tal Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41452339-ascendent?from_search=true

Blurb

Sasha Andreyev grew up on the wrong side of nowhere, dreaming of starlight as he strangled a secret. He fled, enlisting in the Russian Army, and worked his way up the ranks. Years later, after surviving a beating and being left for dead, he found a new life in Moscow, working with President Sergey Puchkov.

And then, he fell in love.

Desperate to avoid his runaway heart, crippled with a shame that infected his soul, and ravaged by demons haunting his memories, Sasha ran.

But he could never escape Sergey, or the gravitational pull of their love.

Nightmares trail behind his every step and weary ghosts live in the hollow chambers of his soul. He’s spent a lifetime brutally eviscerating the parts of himself he despises, and he’s an empty, shattered shell, struggling to be the man worthy of Sergey’s love.

The pieces of his soul he cut out are the very ones he needs in order to become the man he yearns to be. He’ll need to face himself, and his past, on a journey into the frozen heart of Russia, and into the midnight depths of the dead lands.

Only then can he ascend from the darkness, and be the man Sergey needs at his side.

Review

I will admit that Tal Bauer is my favourite author out there writing at this time. His books have the research and attention to detail that, in my opinion, put them above most other offerings. It is standard practice for me to have my Kindle in one hand and Google fired up and ready in the other, so I can look for myself at the places he describes.

With Ascendent, it was no different. Following straight on from where we left them at the end of Enemies Within, this story follows Sasha and Sergey and how they start to build a life together in Russia.

We spend most of our time in this book with Sasha as he battles his ingrown demons and self-loathing at being gay and how this feeling is slowly killing him. But we also get spend time with Sergey as he fights for his country as well as his love. With a horror twist that had me peering at the words from between my fingers, this is once again a superb offering by Tal Bauer.

These were the characters I took the least amount of interest in during the Executive Office series, so I was unsure how I would take to this book, but I needn’t have worried. Tal, once again with his clever, descriptive use of language drew me into the story and back into the Executive world. Possibly even out doing even himself with his beautiful phrasing and painful emotion.

I would not recommend this as a stand-alone book, as it references events in the Executive Office series more than once, but it is a wonderful look into the world of Sasha and Sergey and a fabulous gateway to what I am sure are more nail biting adventures to come.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Blood and Eternity (Book 3) by Shira Anthony

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/blood-and-eternity-by-shira-anthony-9785-b

Blurb

Sequel to Blood and Ghosts
Blood: Book Three

Vampire hunter Adrien Gilbert never dreamed he’d fall for his prey or that his love, Nicolas Lambert, would give him the gift of immortality. But when a hunter bent on destroying the truce between vampires and hunters throws the gauntlet at Adrien’s feet, Adrien must travel through time to save Nicolas, and with him, the entire vampire race.
The time has come to make a choice—one they will live with for eternity.
In this final installment in the Blood Trilogy, Adrien and Nicolas must face their greatest enemy in a deadly last confrontation. But to prevail, they’ll need to master the enemies within.
When Adrien awakens to a future he doesn’t recognize, he faces an impossible decision: live a perfect life with Nicolas in a shattered world, or risk everything to repair a broken past. But before he can challenge vampire hunter Verel Pelletier, he must master the demon who lives in his own mind—and learn to control his ability to travel through time. With Nicolas by his side, he prepares for a final battle against a powerful adversary who likes to play games with the past and future.
But the price of ensuring a future for their loved ones may be an eternity spent alone.

Review

This is – at long last – the ending we’ve been waiting for.

Can I say it was worth it? I’m not sure. I love Shira’s world building, her characters and I usually love her plot devices as well as story lines but in this case there was so much WORK involved. I felt like book two put me through the wringer and though we get put back together again in book 3 it was maybe not quite as “rewarding” as I’d have wanted it to be.

So – in summary – I guess if you’re a lover of action and adventure – with some time travel and a lot of angst – very well written angst mind you – I’d give this a go.

If you want a lot of togetherness in a couple then this is not for you.

All in all I’d give this book a 3.5 and the whole series a 3 of 5 stars.


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Retro Review: Blood and Ghosts (Blood #2) by Shira Anthony

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/blood-and-ghosts-by-shira-anthony-3739-b

Blurb

Sequel to Blood and Rain

With vampire Nicolas Lambert’s marriage to a rival clanswoman only weeks away, Adrien Gilbert struggles to come to terms with his defeat at the hands of Verel Pelletier, a vampire hunter and an immortal like himself. Adrien and his former teacher, Roland Günter, begin to explore his newly acquired abilities. But without his soul’s sword, Adrien flounders.

On Nicolas’s wedding day, a two-hundred-year old secret is revealed, sending the wedding party into a blazing battle between hunters and vampires. Once again Adrien finds himself facing Pelletier’s superior strength. Just as Adrien believes all hope of a future with Nicolas is lost, he finally learns his true gift—he can turn back time. But time travel comes with a high cost. To save Nicolas, Adrien must become strong enough to use his power without descending into madness.

Review

I’ll be honest. I’d be super mad if I didn’t already have book 3 in my hands. This was a really long, frustrating book 2 in a 3 book series.

Book one caught me up. I thought the world building was good, the characters unique and interesting and the romance epic.

In book 2 I wanted to throw my kindle across the room!

This felt like soap opera’ey type “now he’s here” “Now he isn’t” “now he doesn’t remember” “Now the demon is controlling him” “Now he remembers again”…
It made me crazy.

Now, I’ll admit I have a VERY LOW tolerance for this type of stuff so I was worried about it to begin with – but I’m a Shira Anthony fan and I trust her. I read the reviews and they all led me to believe this would be worth it in the end… I’m hoping so.

If it wasn’t for that third book I’d have stopped half way through this and declared it a DNF due to too much drama and back and forth BS. But… I persevered and while I was happy for the interim HFN we got…. I had to quickly put this down so I can start up book 3 and get this bad taste from my mouth.

This was definitely not for me.

2.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: Undertow (Port Lewis Witches #2) by Brooklyn Ray

release day review

Nine Star Presents
https://ninestarpress.com/product/undertow/

Blurb

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is home to Crescent Cafe, a slew of micro-breweries, a downtown packed with antique boutiques, and violent, ancient storms. Thunder shakes rooftops and lightning cuts through dark skies, but Liam Montgomery has never been afraid.

Until now.

One night, Liam hears the scream of a kelpie, a Water horse whose cry foretells the beginning of a prophecy. Kelpies have not set foot on shore for decades, but as Liam digs into his magic and his family’s history, he uncovers a mysterious secret that could ripple into the lives of everyone around him.

Liam’s tea-leaves spells out murder. The life of someone he loves is on the line. An unwelcome kelpie speaks in riddles. The Queen of Water demands a sacrifice.

The Montgomery name is soaked in blood and secrets. Liam’s fate is sealed, but he’ll do whatever it takes to change it—even if it risks his circle, his magic, and his life.

Review

This shouldn’t be a book that I even want to read and yet I not only couldn’t wait to read it, I loved it! Super loved it!

It’s sooooo well-written. The descriptions are absolutely breath taking without being over done or feeling disproportionate to the story. Though this is new adult/young adult, in book two things take a decidedly more heated turn and the chemistry between Liam and Ryder is scorching! And yet the sex itself isn’t so over described that your own imagination isn’t required. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to describe things in such a way as to be specific but vague enough as to leave room for imagination.

The magic in this book is also off the charts. Wow. Not only do Liam and Ryder explore their powers with one another but there is something new in town after Liam and Liam has to use his powers to protect himself and Ryder.

There is a lot of new information revealed in this story and I can’t wait to read the next installment. This is in no way an ending but it still felt very satisfying. I think, if I have to directly compare, that this is even BETTER than book 1, which – let’s face it – rarely happens – but it sure seemed to here!

Highly recommended! (not a standalone)

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Release Day Review: A Few Good Fish (Fish Out of Water #3) by Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-few-good-fish-by-amy-lane-9829-b

Blurb

Fish Out of Water: Book Three

A tomcat, a psychopath, and a psychic walk into the desert to rescue the men they love…. Can everybody make it out with their skin intact?

PI Jackson Rivers and Defense Attorney Ellery Cramer have barely recovered from last November, when stopping a serial killer nearly destroyed Jackson in both body and spirit.

But their previous investigation poked a new danger with a stick, forcing Jackson and Ellery to leave town so they can meet the snake in its den.

Jackson Rivers grew up with the mean streets as a classroom and he learned a long time ago not to give a damn about his own life. But he gets a whole new education when the enemy takes Ellery. The man who pulled his shattered pieces from darkness and stitched them back together again is in trouble, and Jackson’s only chance to save him rests in the hands of fragile allies he barely knows.

It’s going to take a little bit of luck to get these Few Good Fish out alive!

Review

You know I’m an Amy Lane fangirl – so it’s no surprise that I loved this! This is the third in the series and they must be read in order. In fact, you’ll be really confused if you haven’t read the other two and probably you should read Racing for The Sun https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17700033-racing-for-the-sun?from_search=true as well – mostly because it’s awesome – but also because Sonny and Ace are so prominent in this story.

Things that I liked:
Amy is really good at understanding what a sequel needs to keep us engaged. She’s given us Ellery and Jackson’s ILYs and commitments but we still worry about Jackson’s belief in the finality of the relationship and of his ability to be loved. This story moves us forward on that front without necessarily calling in to question the pair of them.

I LOVED that she brought in religion. (Don’t freak out – you’ll see what I mean – and it’s mostly a metaphor…sorta.) Jackson has to believe, has to trust and what greater example of that in a person is there than Faith. The stuff with Lucy Satan and Jackson at the hospital – Gold. Really lovely way to look at things and so perfect for Jackson the character.

I ADORED the link to RFTS. I love that book so much and frequently re-listen to it. Sonny is off his rocker but in a good way and I love re-visiting him and Ace and Jai and Alba. Now we get to add in Burton and Ernie – yes like Sesame Street!- and it’s even more delicious! There’s a new book coming out in October I think? – about these two and it looks AMAZING!

Things that were good:
The mystery/action etc was good. I’m sure she spent a lot of time working this out but – honestly – I skimmed it. There is a lot of blood/injury/hospitalization time – AGAIN – for these guys and I was a little over that. I was tired of seeing them hurt and wanted to see them hole for awhile. (My only real complaint.)

So – to sum up: this is awesome, can’t wait for the new RFTS sequel and you’ve got to read this if you’re a fan of either book/series/author!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook Month: Starting Point (Turning Point Series, Book 3) by N.R. Walker Narrated by: Sean Crisden

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Starting-Point-Audiobook/B07D9TGHBZ?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_4&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=4ZVWYH8B91JR5M3NV69Y&

Blurb

Book Three in the Turning Point Series

After going past the point of no return and finally reaching breaking point, the only thing Matthew Elliott can do now is start over.
Matthew Elliott is a recovering man. As an ex-cop and ex-fighter, his new job teaching kids at the local community gym about drug awareness and self-defense, is a little bit of both. His new focus on helping street kids is helping him heal, and with Kira by his side, he’s making strides.
Brother and sister, Rueben and Claudia, are homeless kids and they’re very much alone. As they strike a chord with Matt, he does everything in his power to help them. But when Ruby and Claude need more help than he bargained for, it stops being about work, and starts being about home.
The day he met Kira, Matt’s life changed direction, and it’s only now he realizes that everything he’s been through was a lead up to this. It was never about endings. His life, his purpose, was just beginning.

Review

 

This book is all about the feelz. This is the third in the series and it absolutely cements the growth of Matt as a person and Kira and Matt as a couple/family.

 

Like all good books/series it’s hard to see it end, but NR Walker did a wonderful job with this and this, like the others is fabulous.

 

Sean Crisden absolutely ROCKS this and delivers on all the poignant emotion that reverberates throughout.

 

Highly recommended.

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audioboook Month: Breaking Point (Turning Point Series, Book 2) by N.R. Walker Narrated by Sean Crisden

Audible Link
https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Breaking-Point-Audiobook/B07CMKBM25?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=FC1HTDMZ5BCRNNTMXB40&

Blurb

Book two in the Turning Point Series.
A fight for what’s right becomes a fight for his life.
As guilt plagues him, Matthew Elliott’s world begins to spiral out of control. The harder he holds on, the more it slips through his fingers, and he’s helpless to stop it.
Entering into the underground cage-fighting scene, he starts out fighting for what’s right. The deeper he gets, the more guilt consumes him – the more pain he takes for his penance – and he’s soon fighting for more than justice.
He’s fighting for love.
He’s fighting for his life.
The third edition has a new cover and has been re-edited, though no new content has been added.

Review

 

I had forgotten the emotional toll this book takes. This is not a standalone, and takes place right where book 1 leaves off.

 

NR Walker is great at giving us these complex and somewhat broken but not completely broken characters. Matt is losing it but can’t tell Kira and it’s killing them both.

 

Luckily – we find out that love can conquer all – but… and here’s where NR Walker does something amazing – Kira and Matt agree that their relationship needs WORK and that it’s not just enough to say “I love you” and everything is sunshine and roses.

 

I really appreciated that nod to reality with this story.

 

The sexual chemistry is still there, but it is tempered by the emotions and does not preclude real discussions.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Audio

 

As usual Sean Crisden manages to continue to impress the hell out of me with his ability to show emotions and keep all the myriad characters separate and the action from dragging and …. Well everything! He absolutely adds to the overall experience and this is highly recommended!

 

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Test of Valor (Valor #2) by Keira Andrews

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39818669-test-of-valor?from_search=true

Blurb

They’re free of the White House, but can their forbidden romance survive in the real world?

With his father no longer president, twenty-two-year-old Rafa Castillo can finally be with ex-Secret Service agent Shane Kendrick. Shane’s given up his career for Rafa, a move his fellow agents question the sanity and morality of. Eager to get away from the questions and judgement, Rafa and Shane are building a new life together in Australia. Though Shane struggles with nightmares and his over-protective instincts while Rafa fights his own insecurity, they love each other more than ever.

Now they just have to get through a visit from the former president and first lady.

Rafa’s parents certainly don’t approve of his romance with forty-year-old Shane, and they’re determined to make him see reason. They don’t see how their son could possibly be happy settling down with an older man, and they question Shane’s motives. Shane and Rafa just want a normal life together—but when they must suddenly battle for survival, they fight to prove their fierce love can withstand any threat.

This gay romance from Keira Andrews is the conclusion of the Valor duology. It features a May-December age difference, sex on the beach, and of course a happy ending.

Review

I fell in love with these guys in book one but I realized, once I’d gone back and re-read it, that they’d been left in a very HFN sort of situation and this book does a terrific job of sealing the deal.

Keira did a great job of showing us how Rafa’s insecurities are still running his life and demonstrating Shane’s issues as well. Rafa’s parents are not as “pretty” as they seem and though Rafa forgave them pretty easily, I’m not so sure either of them deserved it – just yet.

Australia was an interesting setting and appropriate given the new changes there!

I found the developing relationship to be wonderful and though the added “life or death drama” was a touch OTT – it served a nice purpose.

Overall I highly enjoyed this sequel and recommend it to fans of book 1 – but not as a standalone.

5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Time to go Dark: Vice Enforcer by S.A.Stovall

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37796640-vice-enforcer?from_search=true

Blurb

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight

Review

This book is about 8months on from the end of book 1 (Vice City) it probably could be read as a stand-alone. There are occasional references to incidents in book 1 but not anything you could not work out or detract from understanding this story. Pierce and Miles are now settling into domesticity. Well Pierce is trying Miles has succeeded. Pierce is training to be a PI and Miles is in the Police Academy. I was surprised at this considering Pierce’s background the last thing they would need is to be around cops, or is it clever having someone on the inside? It kept me wondering how this story was going to turn out. Through out book 1 I couldn’t decide if I liked Pierce, he certainly seemed like a good person caught up in the mob surviving the only way he could (being the Enforcer). Or maybe he was just realising he was getting too old for that life and needed to get out. Or maybe loving Miles gave him the push to change. Whatever it was Pierce is now trying to adapt, gardening with no success and getting use to Miles brother and sister being around. This all goes to nothing when the PI he works with gets him involved in his former life. The story heats up from here. I liked that this not a now they live happily ever after kind of story. There are so many ups and downs to their relationship. Mainly from Pierce (it is told mainly from his point of view) Miles is steadfast in his belief and devotion to Pierce. So much so that he risks his future career to support him.
I liked that there is not a cliffhanger ending. This story is wrapped up perfectly with a thread linking into a future story. If you like the idea of a bad (but not cruel) man turns good but with a touch of realism these could be the books for a you.

4 of stars out of 5

Purchased by reviewer

 

Release Day Review: Sin and Tonic by Rhys Ford

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sin-and-tonic-by-rhys-ford-9595-b

Blurb

Sequel to Absinthe of Malice
Sinners Series: Book Six
Miki St. John believed happy endings only existed in fairy tales until his life took a few unexpected turns… and now he’s found his own.
His best friend, Damien, is back from the dead, and their new band, Crossroads Gin, is soaring up the charts. Miki’s got a solid, loving partner named Kane Morgan—an Inspector with SFPD whose enormous Irish family has embraced him as one of their own—and his dog, Dude, at his side.
It’s a pity someone’s trying to kill him.
Old loyalties and even older grudges emerge from Chinatown’s murky, mysterious past, and Miki struggles to deal with his dead mother’s abandonment, her secrets, and her brutal murder while he’s hunted by an enigmatic killer who may have ties to her.
The case lands in Kane’s lap, and he and Miki are caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. When Miki is forced to face his personal demons and the horrors of his childhood, only one thing is certain: the rock star and his cop are determined to fight for their future and survive the evils lurking in Miki’s past.

Review
Miki gets his happy ever after! I have had a fantastic time following the series. This last book is just as good, (if not better), than the first.
Miki still has ghosts from his past haunting him. When a stranger who claims to know his mum wants to meet him, he’s understandably skeptical, but curious. Well, the meeting doesn’t go as planned, as someone shoots up the meeting place and the stranger is killed, leaving Edie severely wounded. The murder investigation lands in Kane’s lap and the unraveling of Miki’s past begins.

Although this is the last of the Sinners series, it didn’t feel like a final end, you know? Instead, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my extended family, imagining that I’d see them again in another settings or gathering.
I thought I would be sad reading the last installment – and I was for a bit – but the joy I felt knowing that Miki had finally gotten his happy ending, overrode any sadness. By the end of the book we leave him continuing to heal from all the horrors he’s endured. He is more comfortable with the knowledge that he has a family to call his own, that he can rely on to be there for him. And now, he also knows where he’s from.
It was also lovely to see the others – Dude, Damie and Sionn; Quinn and Rafe; Con and Forest; and of course, Donal and Brigid.
There are a few surprises, heaps of suspense and humour sprinkled throughout the story (indeed, the entire series). But most of all, there is love – romantic and familial within the story; and the love that Rhys has poured into her work.

Absolutely recommend this book and the entire series.

6 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review