Monday, December 10, 2018

Review - - Shades of Wicked

Shades of Wicked
By Jeaniene Frost
A Night Rebel novel
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Reviewed by Nancy

Shades of Wicked features a character who has been a reader favorite for years in a supporting role. As friend to Cat and Bones, and loyal offspring of Mencheres, Ian has been a charming rogue, sometimes generous, sometimes selfish, but always there when it counts.  Now he steps to the fore in the first book of the new Night Rebel series.

When we last saw Ian, he had pledged his soul to the demon Dagon to save the life of a friend.  The demon knew his friend was in no danger, but Ian didn’t.  The deed was done, and Ian has been trying to escape Dagon’s hold ever since.

Vampire Law Guardian Veritas, an enforcer for the vampire council, has her own reasons for wanting Dagon dead. Figuring Ian would be the perfect bait, luring the demon but wanting him dead to save his own soul, she seeks him out for an alliance.

Although Veritas locates Ian in a brothel, interrupting his orgy, she soon learns his hedonistic rogue persona masks his dangerous nature and clever mind. Unfortunately, Ian remembers her as assisting in the execution of his friends’ daughter. He wants no part of helping her, and Veritas can’t tell him the execution wasn’t real. They quarrel, then fight until she uses an ability she isn’t supposed to have to force him to listen to her. Only Dagon’s death will free Ian and save his soul, so he agrees to work with Veritas. Both of them have abilities they shouldn’t, abilities that tend to become apparent when they fight common enemies or quarrel with each other.

Once Ian and Veritas forge an alliance, they agree to go to clubs frequented by mages, witches, and demon kin in hope someone will tell Dagon Ian is there, drawing the demon into a fight. As Ian and Veritas work together, each begins to see, and empathize with, the other’s emotional vulnerabilities.  The impressions they had of each other were superficial and wrong. A bond begins to form between them, one of loyalty and sympathy at first, and then something deeper.

The verbal sparring between them is beautifully done and woven into their growing mutual attractions. Early in the story, Veritas learns Ian’s sire, Mencheres, is coming for her if Ian dies on this quest.  Reluctant to fight an old friend to the death, she resolves to be sure Ian survives. As they spend time together, however, she grows to want his survival for his own sake.

Both Ian and Veritas carry deep wounds from their earlier lives. Frost depicts these in ways that are wrenching. So is their gradual, initially reluctant progress toward each other. Neither of them wants the intimacy growing between them, especially when an encounter with one of Veritas’s friends forces their relationship to a new level. Various other friends complicate their situation, each time forcing them to face their growing feelings for each other.

The characters are beautifully drawn, the story moves at a good pace, and the characters are impossible not to root for.  Longtime readers of Frost’s series will enjoy seeing the hidden depths, previously only hinted at, of these characters while new readers will find themselves drawn to these complex characters and their layered, multifaceted magical world.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Review, Q&A, and Giveaway - - Defending Chloe

Defending Chloe
By Susan Stoker
Mountain Mercenaries - Book 2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

Gorgeous women don’t just stumble onto Ronan Cross’s remote property. But this one—vulnerable, victimized, and needing the kind of help only Ronan can offer—tells a story that makes his blood boil almost as hot as his need to protect her.
Since her father’s death, Chloe Harris has become a prisoner. Her own brother, a flesh peddler and low-level player in the Denver Mafia, is forcing her to sell her body for an endgame Chloe never saw coming: control over a vast fortune. Her only way out is to run—straight into the arms of the one hard-bodied man she can trust.
Defending Chloe could rain punishment down on the Mountain Mercenaries. Her brother has Mob connections and the local police in his pocket. But Ronan still has an edge—the unshakable loyalty of his deadly teammates. As well as an unquenchable thirst for retribution…and Chloe.

My thoughts:

I only recently discovered Susan Stoker - this is my second book by her - but I'm really enjoying her writing. Like the first book in her Mountain Mercenaries series (Defending Allye), Defending Chloe is a fast-paced story filled with action, suspense, slow-burning romance, and enough twists and turns to keep me wondering how it would all turn out. 

Ronan is a hero who checks my boxes. He's definitely an alpha male who won't hesitate to use force to protect a woman being mistreated but he's also kind, steady, and tender with the woman who instantly piques his interest and is gradually capturing his heart. His British accent doesn't hurt either. ;-)

Chloe is an intelligent woman who has slowly and insidiously been entrapped by someone she loved and trusted. Learning to trust someone new won't be easy. She's a relatable, sympathetic character who gradually takes back control of her life with me cheering her on every step of the way. 

If you enjoy contemporary romantic suspense with engaging characters, edge-of-your-seat suspense, plenty of action, and heart-tugging romance, give this book a try. I'm already looking forward to the next Mountain Mercenaries story, Defending Morgan, due out in March 2019. 


Author Interview: Susan Stoker

1) Rowan Cross is the second of your ‘Mountain Mercenaries’ to get his story told. What is it about Ro that makes him the perfect hero?

Ro is a great Hero because he’s a little moody, and he likes things to be black and white. Of course Chloe’s situation is anything but black and white. Not only that but he has to work very hard to earn her trust…which is a new thing for him. He’s also British…and imagining his sexy accent is a bonus!

2) His background is a little different from the rest of the Mercenaries since he is from another country. How is he settling down as a civilian in Colorado?

Ro loves Colorado! Loves the sun, loves the mountains. He has a house up in Black Forest (north of Colorado Springs) where he has some space to breathe and where he can work in his mechanic’s garage without interruption. He’ll always be the ‘foreigner”, but as he doesn’t “people” much, he’s okay with that. 

3) What is Ro’s role in the Mountain Mercenaries?  

Ro is one of the six men (plus their mysterious handler, Rex, who make up the Mountain Mercenaries. He used to be a British SAS (special forces) and uses what he learned in the military to help rescue women and children who are in peril. 

4) When you were creating a heroine for Ro, what were some of the attributes you knew you wanted her to have?

Chloe has been through hell in her life, but she hasn’t let that make her bitter. She’s still even a little na├»ve, but with an inner core that is strong as hell. She bends, but doesn’t break. All she wants is to love and be loved. Trust doesn’t come easily to her anymore, not after all she’s been through, but deep down, she wants to be able to trust Ro.

5) Ro has such a big personality, how does Chloe stand up to him?

I think she recognizes a kindred spirit in Ro. He’s lost someone close to him just as she has and that creates a bond between them. And because Chloe is a fighter, she won’t let Ro just walk all over her either. The two of them together are explosive. 

6) The romance between this couple is a little unusual. They don’t have a typical courtship since Chloe is hiding out at Ro’s house. So instead of dinners and dates, they do laundry and play cards. What is your favorite part(s) of their romance?

Exactly what you mentioned. I think relationships would be so much better off if they started like Ro and Chloe’s did. She got the chance to see what he was really like, not just what he wanted her to. And while going out is nice, staying at home, under a blanket, with fat pants and a sweatshirt on sounds so much more relaxing. My favorite part of their romance is the way Ro doesn’t push Chloe. He shows her that she can trust him rather than forcing her into a situation where she has to. Chloe knows she’s in trouble, but instead of taking the “out” that Ro offers, she lets her shields down just a smidge…enough for Ro to get in there and prove that he’s the kind of man she can rely on. 

7) What is up next for the Mercenaries?

As is my way, the end of Defending Chloe includes a small glimpse into the next book, Defending Morgan. Archer “Arrow” Kane and the rest of the Mountain Mercenaries are on an op to rescue a child taken out of the country by her non-custodial father. When they find the little girl they are surprised to find a very well known missing woman named Morgan Byrd. 

She’s been missing for a year and her name and picture have been plastered all over the news for months. Of course they can’t leave her behind, but the story about why she was kidnapped, how she ended up in the Dominican Republic, and who wanted her gone, but not dead, is a whole roller coaster of a story. Of course Arrow is definitely able, and willing, to keep her safe until they figure it all out. :) Defending Morgan is slated for release in March 2019.

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Susan Stoker is a New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Ace Security, Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Unsung Heroes: Delta Force, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado to Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website,, or find her on Facebook at

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Review - - His Duchess at Eventide

His Duchess at Eventide
By Wendy LaCapra
Mythic Dukes - Book 2
Publisher: Wendy LaCapra
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

Lord Cheverley, son of the Duke of Ithwick, never wanted to go to war, but when he eloped against his father’s wishes, the furious Duke forced him to choose—either take a naval commission, or have his marriage annulled. Devastated physically and emotionally by seven years of war, a shipwreck, and six years in the captivity of a brutal pirate, Cheverley returns to England to find that the courts have declared him dead, and his wife is entertaining suitors. Should he demand his rightful place, disrupting his family’s lives, or should he return to sea, seeking vengeance against the pirate? He sets out to find the answer in disguise.

Penelope once believed in love, but then the man who swept her off her feet deserted her, leaving her and her unborn child utterly alone. Now a widow, she will do anything to protect her son, including enlisting the aid of a mysterious sea captain to uncover the true intentions of her devious suitors. When the captain awakens something in Penelope she thought long dead, she begins to suspect he is no stranger. But, as they peel back the layers of a deadly plot, can this broken family heal their wounds in time to save what really matters?

My thoughts:
Wendy LaCapra is an author whose stories engage my emotions and leave me eager for more. After enjoying her debut trilogy in 2015, I was sad when she stepped away from writing for a few years but that all changed in 2017 with the publication of her (2018 RITA® nominated) novella, Her Duke at Daybreak. She's back and better than ever. 

His Duchess at Eventide, a full-length historical romance that's sweeping in scope and stunning in emotional intensity is, for me, her best writing yet. Penelope and Cheverley drew me into their story as well as their hearts. I traveled this journey with them, experiencing their anger, fear, joy, anguish, yearning, and hope with a full investment in their happiness. LaCapra's beautiful writing brought it all to life, keeping me reading late into the night and finally leaving me with the reassurance that some bonds, though stretched beyond imagination, cannot be broken, that evil foes can be vanquished, that love wins. I won't be forgetting these characters - or their story - for some time. I highly recommend this book. 


'Tis the season of giving and you all know how much I enjoy giving away books, especially those that keep me up reading way past the time when I'm normally asleep. For a chance to win one of three Kindle copies of His Duchess at Eventide that I'm giving away today, tell me:

Do you enjoy reunion romances?

Do you like books that are deeply emotional or light and fluffy?

Have you read any Wendy LaCapra stories? 

What's the last book that kept you reading past your bedtime?

Winners will be randomly chosen from comments posted by 11:00 PM (EST), December 6, 2018. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

TLC Tour Review - - The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception with an U nlikely Earl

The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception with an Unlikely Earl
By Victoria Alexander
Lady Travelers Society - Book 3
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: November 20, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

Harry Armstrong has spent years in Egypt, recovering relics and disregarding rules. Now he’s back in England with a new title and a new purpose: penning his exploits. But his efforts are overshadowed by London’s favorite writer about Egypt—a woman they call The Queen of the Desert, of all things. Worse, her stories—serialized in newspapers and reprinted in books—are complete rubbish. 

Miss Sidney Honeywell didn’t set out to deceive anyone. It’s not her fault readers assumed her Tales of a Lady Adventurer in Egypt were real! Admitting her inadvertent deception now would destroy her reputation and her livelihood. But when the Earl of Brenton challenges her to travel to Egypt to prove her expertise, accompanied by his dashing, arrogant nephew, what choice does she have but to pack her bags?

With the matchmaking founders of the Lady Travelers Society in tow, Harry is determined to expose Sidney’s secret. But the truth might not be as great a revelation as discovering that love can strike even the most stubborn of hearts.

My thoughts:

One of the things I've most enjoyed about this new series by Victoria Alexander is the settings. Pair an adventurous, historical romance with an exotic location and I am so there!

Alexander has assembled an entertaining cast for this newest novel and given them an adventure reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie, complete with witty banter, humor, and an archeological quest. Harry and Sidney are likeable characters who engaged my interest from the get-go but it's Sidney's "chaperones," three lively widows on their first overseas adventure, who come close to stealing every scene they're in. There are also a couple secondary characters who I would love to read more about. Hopefully, Alexander has something in mind for them.

While there's an HEA, the story itself leans more heavily toward adventure/romantic comedy than a full-fledged romance. Alexander's smart, witty, dialog, beautiful descriptions of Egypt, and skillfully-depicted characters made that perfectly okay with me. 

This is the third book in Alexander's Lady Travelers series but though there are a few continuing characters who appear in all three books, each story stands on its own so feel free to jump in at any point in the series. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Coming Attractions

On Tuesday, December 4, I share my thoughts about Victoria Alexander's newest novel, The Lady Travelers Guide to Deception with an Unlikely Earl

The review tour for Defending Chloe, a new romantic suspense novel by Susan Stoker, stops here on Thursday, December 6

Stop by Wednesday, December 19 for my review of The Duke's Suspicion and a Q&A with the author, Susanna Craig

Jennifer Ryan launches her new Wild Rose Ranch series with Dirty Little Secret. Check out my review on Thursday, December 20.