I really enjoyed the way the bear clan drama played out in Alpha's Queen. With both sides of an arranged marriage not that interested in getting married, a clan on the brink of civil war, and a power struggle within the Alpha's family, there is a lot going on. Lila Felix does a great job of tying it all together and using the political tension to show the hidden and overlooked strengths in Harrison and Atlas.
Harrison isn't all that interested in becoming the Alpha of the Black Bears. He was a fun character once I got past his disinterest in all things clan related and his desire to forgo his responsibilities. I kind of get why he felt that way once I saw more of his family.
Atlas was a bit of a sacrificial lamb. A member of the lower castes that were threatening revolution because of poor treatment by the royals, she was supposed to mend fences with a marriage. But we all know that doesn't usually work out. At first, she is torn between duty and following her heart. But meeting Harrison quickly changes her mind, and she finds herself neck-deep in the twisted politics and family drama that comes along with him.
There weren't any really surprising twists or turns in this one. It was just a well-told story of two fated mates saving their clan while finding love.
Let's go back to Regency (I think, I'm not the best at the English eras) England only pretend that magic is real and an organized part of society. This is my dream book description. I love the English historicals, and I think they only thing they're missing is a good dose of supernatural mischief.
Zen Cho really brings the supernatural mischief, and I loved it so much. We have witches, sorcerers, Faery creatures, familiars, and a whole host of other potentially magical beings just thrown about in everyday life. (Can someone please build a machine to take me there.) Downfall, they don't really like when women work magic. And so our story begins!
Enter Zacharias, the Sorcerer Royal, and his new protege Prunella, an incredibly magical woman that Zacharias plans to reform the rules of society for so they will accept her as a member and not banish her (or worse) for being a sorceress. I adored Zacharias. He was smart, dedicated to his craft, and always the gentleman. Even as his opponents throw magical hexes and assassination attempts his way time and time again, he takes it all in a stride.
Prunella, on the other hand, I had mixed feelings about. At first, I loved her spunk and get-it-done attitude. Risking it all to follow her dreams and unlock the secrets in the relics her family left her. But as the story went on, I found her to be a bit grating. She rarely listened to the advice of anyone, and it often caused some major problems and ordeals. And in the end, she does something (that I dare not say or I will spoil so much) that made me positively dislike her. I know she did it for all the right reasons, but she was too cold about it. She needed to have an emotional reaction after the fact, and I didn't see it.
I have the paperback for book two on pre-order though. The entire English world built here has completely captivated me, and I wonder how it all plays out.
**I voluntarily read a complimentary copy of this book**
Zoey was a great teenage character. The new kid in school and feeling a bit like an outcast is something I could completely relate to. Being uprooted and moving is rough for anyone, but moving AND finding out that you're not exactly human? That would be super stressful.
To add to Zoey's difficulties, the older generations of her Ice Dragon family are a bit snobbish and don't think humans are good enough for their grand-daughter (even if she is only half-dragon).
I really admired the fight that Zoey found within her self and the courage it took to stand up to her family and their traditions. I don't think her battle is over yet, but she may have won some allies to her side of the field by the end.
Alpha Challenge is the 10th book in the Ashwood Falls series, and while I highly recommend reading them in order because there are a lot of carryover plots and characters, you could read them individually and still get a really great romance with a lot of great shifter war action.
Just as the shifters of Ashwood Falls think they have defeated the pack intent on destroying them, an attack steals away their young and the hunt is on to get them back. I wish this had been a little bit harder to do. While the Ashwood Pack is pretty much the strongest community of shifters, it felt a little bit like a stroll through the park in a thunderstorm instead of the struggle to fight against a strong enemy they knew little about.
The romance in the story was very well done. Both characters are struggling with issues from their past. And while they also both recognize it, Alec is the first to try and breach the gap between them to claim his mate. (And yes, as in most shifter romances, they know they are mates.) But Rhea has a harder time because of the secrets she as been hiding. But secrets have a way of coming out, and during the rescue of the kids, Rhea is confronted with Alec learning everything.
I really enjoy the Ashwood Falls shifters, and I hope this new enemy presents a challenge for them that they can really dig their teeth into and show how the pack still has room to grow and change.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
Rebecca's best friend, Ashley, plays such an important role in helping Rebecca begin to find her way in the Fae world. But what happened to her afterward? Well, Shades of Betrayal came along and told me the story I was dying to hear.
Ashley's transition into the Fae world was a little more sudden and jarring than Rebecca's, and she doesn't have the foundation and training that Rebecca does either - and she needs to feed. For Ashley, that means sex - but her whole mindset will about intercourse will have to change. And no, this isn't a book all about her hooking up - it really is a very nice paranormal romance.
Michael was a little too stoic and tough. Even when we got a look inside his head, I wanted to feel more from him. I wanted him to have more of those vulnerable moments - even if they were just with himself. I almost didn't believe his feelings and concern for Ashley because of it.
You have to throw a little danger in to keep Fae stories interesting. And the creature in this one is a doozy. I loved the lore and history behind it though - it tied in with everything going on perfectly.
Overall, a good story, but not my favorite in the series. But I do think that it was a nice way to make sure I knew Ashley had her HEA too.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
When Sherry heads out of town to forget a cheating ex, she finds herself heading to Havenwood Falls. This was a little odd, because she isn't a paranormal creature, but it seems like the town and its guardians know more than I do.
When she's rescued from an accident by Rusty - a lone wolf in every sense of the word - and stranded in his cabin to wait out the story, they are somewhat forced to get to know each other better. Here is where I wanted a lot more than what I got. I know the mating urge for a werewolf comes out of nowhere according to most lore, but I thought there wasn't enough resistance from him as a lone wolf, and there wasn't enough confusion, moving to acceptance, and finally moving to love from her.
You get plenty of conflict between Sherry and her ex though when he shows up looking for her. I really enjoyed watching a strong woman that refused to let anyone take advantage of her, and do it without turning into a hard and jaded person.
Old Wounds had so many good elements that were just cut a little short. I feel like the story just didn't have enough time to fully develop the characters and the plot.
Triplicity is an odd mix of an almost slice-of-life story and a suspense novel. As I followed the three teenagers on the cruise I continually wondered where the story was trying to go. We get a dash of a romantic triangle, misplaced blame for a thief on board, and lots of family drama. With so many different trains of stories running through, I felt like the there wasn't really an end goal.
I didn't always find the three main characters very engaging, and there were many times I flat out didn't like them. Navy especially had moments that I found to be very disingenuous. The standards that she held Isaiah and Jesse to were inconsistent, and while both of the boys also had their issues, I found them to feel more real and genuine.
The impact of the mystery the teens are trying to solve really doesn't impact the story until very close to the end, and I wish it had been integrated throughout so that it had more of a hovering presence instead of just the occasional mention to cause drama.
Isaiah was the character that saved it for me. I loved his history with the ranch, and while in the end, he did a few questionable things, it was more because he didn't see another way out. Jesse was a close second. But I found it odd how Navy looked past his lies while holding Isaiah to a different standard.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**
About J. Mercer:
J. Mercer grew up in Wisconsin where she walked home from school with her head in a book, filled notebooks with stories in junior high, then went to college for accounting and psychology only to open a dog daycare. She wishes she were an expert linguist, is pretty much a professional with regards to competitive dance hair (bunhawk, anyone?), and enjoys exploring with her husband–though as much as she loves to travel, she’s also an accomplished hermit. Perfect days include cancelled plans, rain, and endless hours to do with what she pleases. Find her on Facebook @jmercerbooks or online at www.jmercerbooks.com.
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Heart of Destiny introduced me to a very interesting and new world. A world that has been split into separate realms by a magical wall where they only meet in the middle at the Citadel. This was supposed to bring peace, but it seems to have only brought about petty squabbles instead, especially with a corrupt emperor ruling them all.
When children begin to disappear - everyone wants to blame their neighboring realm. And here is where I wish there had been more to the story than a novella can hold. Being introduced to so many characters - one from each realm - was a bit confusing, and I still wasn't sure who was who and where they came from by the end of the book. I'm hoping they separate themselves a little more in future books of the series, because I see a lot of good possibilities ahead.
The djinn and the dragons were a great spin on more traditional creatures, and the concept of them having a triad merger of beings with girls that were taken was a fun new element.
I have always loved Blay. His quiet strength and fierce way of loving has always set him apart in the best of ways for me. Qhuinn, on the other hand, is the exact opposite, and part of me really wanted Blay to end up with someone better. But in other ways, they are perfect for each other - in the opposites attract fashion.
In true J.R. Ward style, this is more than just another paranormal romance. The story of the Brotherhood and their enemies takes another dangerous turn, and while some of the antics were far beyond belief, the war between the vampires and the lessers is really heating up.
I wish (and I say this often) that Ward would include more of the previous females in each book. We very rarely get to see them as anything more than a background plot device after they have fallen in love and mated their Male. These are strong and fierce women (vampire and otherwise), and I want to see them become a more integral part of the stories.
Wolf Bride was a fun and exciting read. It took me back to the Tudor Era, which is one of my favorites, while Anne Boleyn still lived. She is very much a background character, but her death plays an important role in showing the character of our heroine, Eloise Tyrell.
When Anne Boleyn is accused of treason, all of her close friends and servants were under scrutiny for the same, and Eloise was no exception. Navigating the court and intrigue has never been more difficult or dangerous. This was by far my favorite aspect of the story.
The romance, while it was written to be the main stage, fell into second place for me. Eloise and Lord Wolf definitely had a bit of a spark between them, but they were both too stubborn and unwilling to listen to each other for me to truly root for. Lord wolf was very overbearing, and while Elizabeth Moss tried valiantly to make it come off as dominant, there were many times it just came off as him being a mean jerk.
This was also far more of an erotic read than most historicals tend to be - intentionally so. I think it could have been toned down with more time given to our characters growing, but for readers of the hotter contemporary that are looking to try a historical - this may be the one that draws you in.
I enjoyed this story for the non-romance aspects, and I did continue reading and enjoying it. Watch for my reviews of the rest of the Lust in the Tudor Court series soon.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book*