ARC Review: Blood Gamble (Melissa F. Olson)

When Dashiell, the vampire cardinal of Los Angeles hears about vampires having blatant show-off stage show in Las Vegas, he “convinces” Scarlett Bernard to do a little spying. Then Scarlett learns that vampires seem to be missing after attending the show and there might be hunters in Las Vegas killing them…

Honestly, I wasn’t a lot happy with Scarlett in this book — which is a bit disappointing because the previous one, Midnight Curse, rocked my socks off. I felt that she was acting slightly brashier; although maybe it was because Scarlett was manipulated to go a city she hated.

The case itself was okay but it wasn’t gripping as the previous book (that involved Molly!). Since this was set in Las Vegas, it didn’t exactly involved any of the L.A. characters that I care about. Sure, I liked Wyatt, a Las Vegas vampire who asked Scarlett’s help, but the rest of the secondary characters didn’t stand out for me. OH, but Scarlett met Sashi here, the healing witch who is also Lex Luther’s friend from Boundary Magic series. I like it when characters are doing cross-over.

What let me down the most was the sudden development with Jameson, a null she once met in New York (I think it was back in Trail of Dead, second book of the first trilogy). While I don’t particularly read this series for the romance but I can’t help guessing Scarlett’s possible love interest. For a while I think it will be Jesse since he has been there since the beginning, plus he has his own POV in this series. But I’m fine if Scarlett ends up with someone else.

But Jameson?! He is a blip on my radar, so the romance comes out of nowhere! It also a bit distracting from the main case of missing (and possible murdered) vampires. On top of that, I could see how this was used by Olson to introduce a HUGE plot in the end that would influence the rest of the series greatly (or at least the next Scarlett book) and I am still a bit ambivalent about it. On one hand, if is NOT the type of drama I like, feels like a ‘cheap shot’. On the other hand, I can’t help to think HOW it will play out. I’m quite invested in finding out…

PS: I missed Jesse terribly in this book. And Shadow too.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

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The book is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:
Title: Blood Gamble
Author: Melissa F. Olson
Series: Disrupted Magic, #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 300 pages
Publisher: 47th North (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: July 25, 2017

ARC Review: Fly Away with Me (Susan Fox)

Fly Away with Me is my first experience with Susan Fox — and unfortunately, while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t completely loving it. I guess my biggest issue was with the romance. I don’t know whether it is because the relationship starts as a holiday fling (I thought Aaron was a little bit too pushy) or because there is a bigger drama with both Eden’s family (her mother’s cancer) and Aaron’s family (his sister, a single mother, is being evicted) — but the romance is a little bit underwhelming.

Considering that Eden and Aaron are quite different in characteristics — Eden is more of a planner, more uptight and serious, with close relationship with her family versus Aaron who is all about fun, short term goals and has no plan for long term relationship — I was expecting these two butting heads with sparks flying everywhere. I didn’t feel like I got all of that, though. And I was slightly annoyed with what I thought of the “serious reserved city life BAD vs. fun relaxed small town life GOOD” premise that I seemed to conclude from this book.

Having said that, I was VERY much interested with the “mystery” — in this case, Eden’s quest to find her missing aunt and what might have been going on with the cult, the missing leader, and the mysterious girl that Eden’s aunt seemed to help all those decades ago. What happened to her? What other secrets that the rest of the cult member might have knowingly kept? I guess the mystery-fan in me is very much intrigued with all of those.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title:
 Fly Away with Me
Author: Susan Fox
Series: Blue Moon Harbor, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Kensington Press
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Playstore
Release Date: July 25, 2017

ARC Review: An Unexpected Truth (S A Meade)

It has been four years since I last read a story by S A Meade. I remember loving her writing which is why I jumped on a chance to request the advanced reader’s copy for this one.

An Unexpected Truth is definitely not at all like what it all seems in the beginning. At first, I thought it would be a gentle loving story about a racehorse trainer and the owner. I loved Brendan; his crush over Adam is cute. I loved the early progress of their relationship. It was sweet and slow-burning; these men definitely not at all ruled by their libido.

However, when Adam’s past secrets coming back to haunt them, this is when I started to feel a little bit miffed. While the twist that came with the secret was pretty smart — I definitely did not see that coming! — but I also felt it to be a little over the top. I guess I isn’t a huge fan of that particular kind of cloak and dagger drama; it sort of disturbed the flow of the story for me.

In addition, I wonder if Brendan forgive Adam’s disappearing act a little bit too quickly, no matter Adam’s reasons. Personally, I thought the last 1/4th part of the book felt rushed for me.

All in all, there are things I really liked and there are things I didn’t. I also enjoyed the aspect of the horse breeding and training in this book. Oh, and the supporting characters were marvelous. Note if you have read Meade’s debut novel, Stolen Summer, well, the couple made a cameo appearance in here as well!

One thing for sure though, S A Meade’s writing is still as beautiful as I remember *sigh*

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: An Unexpected Truth
Author: S A Meade
Genre: MM Contemporary / MM Thriller and Suspense
Length: 58,591 words
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: July 11th, 2017

ARC Review: The Other Five Percent (Quinn Anderson)

Okay, let me get the positive things about The Other Five Percent first. I LOVE Quinn Anderson’s writing. I really do. That is probably why, even if I haven’t been completely satisfied with her previous books (and this one) I still want to read the future releases. Her writing just clicks with me and I love her humor. Logan’s narrations — especially in the first two chapters — makes me chuckling in delight.

He looked down and wiggled his toes, watching the calfskin bulge. They’d cost almost as much as his suit, but his boss was always telling him, “The shoes make the man.”

I guess that makes me a baby cow.

I also like Logan’s co-worker and his two sisters. They are fun to read

Logan started to protest, but she’d already ducked into her cubicle. To his chagrin, she shouted over the wall, “No buts, mister! If I see you back in this office before one thirty, I’ll …” There was a pause. “Um.”

A male voice sounded from the other cubicle. “Steal all of his pens?”

“Thank you, Anderson,” Jennifer called back.

Unfortunately, I really am not sure about Logan. So Logan runs into his *best friend* Ellis after four years, whom Logan is very close with in college, the one Logas has “sexual experimentation with a man” with, and the one behind Logan’s joke of “I’m ninety-five percent straight” (because the other five percent is basically Ellis) … and Logan claims he cannot REMEMBER how he ends their friendship?

Come on!!! Not with the level of closeness that they shared in college. No way!! not when Logan claims that he “worshipped” Ellis back in college and even his sisters said that Ellis was all that Logan talked about back then.

I also don’t understand Logan’s denial about his sexuality — he is never bullied for liking boys, his sisters are cool, and Logan himself think that his parents can accept it if he’s not straight, so where does his root of denial comes from? I think the whole straight and bisexuality theme here isn’t being fully explored. Logan’s acceptance of his bisexuality is too abrupt. Being an asexual myself, I understand that sexuality can be a spectrum, but since Logan keeps denying that there is possibility that he likes men (or in this case, only Ellis), everything after the revelation is way too fast.

The epilogue is cute … but I want a bridge to get to that point, to make a believer out of me. Sadly I don’t get it…

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:
Title:
The Other Five Percent
Author: Quinn Anderson
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: ~40.000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 10th, 2017

Netgalley Review: Trial By Fire (Lore Graham)

I requested Lore Graham’s Trial By Fire from Netgalley for one reason. The fact that this book features lesbian relationship and a trans character. See, I promise myself that I will try to read more outside my MM-romance comfort zone with cisgender characters. So this sounds like a perfect option!

I thought the relationship between Elena and Lacy felt naturally progressed. While the time-span was actually pretty quick but somehow I could feel the chemistry between the two that it didn’t really matter. They just ‘clicked’ somehow. I adored the two of them. I even liked all the talks about what they liked to do during intimate moments, which was probably caused by Lacy who transitioned and have yet all the surgeries yet. It felt different for me.

I still skipped the sex scenes though *oops*. Nothing to do with ‘lady-bits’, I just don’t like reading about sex that much being an asexual (I skip MF or MM sex too most of the times)

But I did feel the whole superhero and villain world-built to be a little lacking, even if I appreciated the big action near the end. Or maybe I admit that I’m just not into superhero stories, and prefer to see it on big screen.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Trial by Fire
Author: Lore Graham
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Lesbian / Trans
Length: 32,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: May 31st, 2017

ARC Review: An Unnatural Vice (K.J. Charles)

An Unnatural Vice is the second book in K.J. Charles’ Sins of the Cities series; featuring Justin Lazarus, the Seer of London who is famous with his séances, and Nathaniel Roy, son of archbishop (he has left church though) who becomes a journalist. If I am not mistaken, the timeline starts almost at the time around the ending of An Unseen Attraction. Nathaniel himself is a friend of Clem, one of the main characters in book #1.

Nathaniel is dead-set in exposing Justin’s tricks and lies. He thinks that Justin is an amoral man, who makes fortune upon people’s griefs. However he can’t dismiss the attraction he feels for Justin, first time he feels that way for another man since the death of his partner five years previously.

I thought this book was slightly a bit lagging in the beginning with Charles setting up the background, confrontation, and burning attraction between Nathaniel and Justin. While Charles always EXCELS in writing enemies-to-lovers / people with different background — I found myself at times a bit bored with Nathaniel’s inner conflict of being attracted to Justin.

I did loved Justin though — what can I say, Charles’ morally ambiguous characters are always attractive for me *laugh*. Justin doesn’t regret his occupation. People who can afford his séances are not from poor class anyway.

The book picks up its pace when murder and mayhem happens, Justin finds himself in the path of a killer who takes no for an answer, and he seeks refugees at Nathaniel’s. This was when I started to feel fully engaged with the two as a couple.

I loved those times with the two of them conversed about their lives and expectations. My heart sometimes went over for Justin when his confidence was dwindling — when he questioned Nathaniel’s motive for helping him. Because Justin really did take advantages of people and he wondered why Nathaniel was able to look past that.

Aside from the romance, An Unnatural Vice also shapes up the mystery around the missing heir that will be fully concluded in book #3. I, for one, look forward to that one.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: An Unnatural Vice
Author: K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, #2
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Purchase at: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble US, iTunes, Kobo
Release Date: June 6, 2017

ARC Review: Intercepting the Chef (Rachel Goodman)

Intercepting the Chef is the first book from new-to-me author Rachel Goodman’s upcoming series “How to Score“. It features rising star chef Gwen Lalonde and Logan Stonestreet, NFL golden boy and quarterback for the Colorado Blizzards who is also best friend with Gwen’s twin brother, Chris. After being fired by her ex-boyfriend celebrity chef and is forced to return home to Denver, Gwen is hired by Logan to be executive chef for his restaurant that he develops on behalf of his mother’s love for food…

I enjoyed this romance — but I must admit that while I thought Logan was such a darling, I had a difficult time to warm up to Gwen. This more or less influenced my opinion.

I know that as a woman, I can be quite hard on heroine characters in the romance books I read. I did applaud Gwen’s determination to fulfill her dream of having her own restaurant. I admired her for being focused on her passion. Because we need females like that too, right? Those who strive to excel professionally; not just in relationship.

Unfortunately, Gwen also felt distant and aloof to me. It was slightly difficult to emotionally root for Gwen because she came up as being dismissive and judgmental over other people’s dreams and issues. Like when Gwen was surprised that her brother did charity (because she always thought of Chris as shallow). Or that Logan didn’t like all of the aspects of football (because Gwen thought Logan enjoyed the glory of the game). For someone who was fired because she assumed that her ex-boyfriend would be thankful of what she did, I was hoping that past experience made Gwen more humble than she was.

I couldn’t help wishing that Gwen to show a softer side once in a while because I found myself taking side with Logan when they had their arguments.

I couldn’t find a lot of faults of Logan. He was warm, and kind, and clearly loved his mother. I felt sorry for Logan because everybody in his life — his father, his agent, his coach, his teammates — seemed to only see him as a franchise. They didn’t care that he was in pain, that he was injured … they only wanted him to bring the win and the money. I wanted to hug Logan and to protect him from all harms. So with Gwen keeping their relationship at arm’s length, sometimes I wondered if Gwen was good enough for Logan.

With this being the start of a series — and I didn’t find any issue with Goodman’s writing — I think I will keep my eyes out for future books in this series. I am quite interested to read romance featuring Gwen’s brother, Chris, or her best friend, Missy. They were two secondary characters that definitely caught my attention here.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Intercepting the Chef
Author: Rachel Goodman
Series: How to Score, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star
Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Release Date: May 2, 2017