Christa Kelley – Noble Heart: Salvation (Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway)

Noble Heart: Salvation by Christa Kelley

Series: Noble Hearts #1
Source: Review by Request
Copy provided by the Author
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Noble Hearts is a Gay Romance series. This is not a standalone novella.

Lord Bryce Callaway is desperate. Abandoned and betrayed by those who vowed to support him, he’s forced to search outside the law to bring justice to his late wife and peace to his heart.

Ferren Bardin will do just about anything if the price is right. He’s reckless, but charming. Infuriating, but devastatingly handsome. He’s exactly the sort of distraction Bryce doesn’t need, but exactly the sort of mercenary he does.

Brought together by circumstance, two broken souls must save one another from a political plot that threatens to rip the country apart, and from the darkness in their own hearts.

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Karen Marie Moning – Bloodfever

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

Series: Fever, #2
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I used to be your average, everyday girl but all that changed one night in Dublin when I saw my first Fae, and got dragged into a world of deadly immortals and ancient secrets…

In her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.

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Karen Marie Moning – Darkfever

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Series: Fever, #1
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

“My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.”

When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cel phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysteriou Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands.

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Kat Bastion & Stone Bastion – No Weddings (Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway)

No Weddings by Kat Bastion & Stone Bastion

Series: No Weddings #1
Source: Review by Request
ARC Provided by the Publisher
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Award-winning author Kat Bastion teams with her husband, Stone Bastion, in this first book in the No Weddings Series about Cade Michaelson, a successful man with his sights set on a new venture in business, and Hannah Martin, the woman who makes it personal.

I think I have my act together as a successful bar owner, my master’s degree within reach, and a list of no-strings-attached women warming my bed. Turns out, I don’t.

Hannah believes she has safeguarded her wounded heart by shunning men and focusing on her new baking business. The thing is, she hasn’t.

When my three sisters and I form an event-planning business with Hannah as our baker, I have no idea how my life is about to change. As Hannah and I work closely together, the attraction between us becomes irresistible. And complicated. I’ve promised my sisters I wouldn’t mix business with pleasure. But I’ve never been one to follow the rules.

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Jay Bell – Like & Subscribe

Like & Subscribe by Jay Bell

Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Remember that hunky guy on YouTube who caught your eye? The one with the awesome pecs and killer smile? I bet you couldn’t stop watching his videos. Just imagine if you had a chance to meet him and all your fantasies started coming true. There’s only one catch: Between you and your dream guy is his less-than-pleased boyfriend. They say that love conquers all, but can love conquer love?

Like and Subscribe is a new short story by Jay Bell, the author of Something Like Summer.

 

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Quirky and absolutely adorable…

“…Can you get a broken heart without being with someone? Can wanting to fall in love so bad make that happen?”

I think we all have stars in our eyes for at least one celebrity. Those larger than life people who we only know only through the edited, scripted, photoshopped versions we’re allowed to see.

Like and Subscribe is the story of what happens when one man meets his celebrity crush, and learns that not everything is as perfect as it appears through a computer screen…

Evan Hansen

Evan didn’t blush or chastise himself. Desperation was an old acquaintance, the kind he could share a comfortable silence with. Besides, his infatuation with Tony was hardly new.

Evan has had a crush on Tony since high school. His infatuation skyrocketed when his crush became a YouTube star, posting (often shirtless) videos about his life to thousands of followers.

Tony Taylor

Free time and the Internet. Never a good combination.

Tony uses his online videos to share himself with the world. It’s easy for Evan to feel like he knows Tony inside and out, so when he unexpectedly runs into Tony at a Halloween party, it seems like a dream. Unfortunately, his dream come true comes with one major hurdle – Tony’s boyfriend…

Orlando Logan

“[Tony’s] got this massive hole in his ego, and I tried my best to fill it up with love and admiration, but it wasn’t enough…”

Orlando is not thrilled about he blast from the past who has caught Tony’s eye. Tony is flirting freely and it quickly becomes apparent to Evan that the relationship between Orlando and Tony is crumbling…

When Tony invites Evan over for some quality time, will Evan take the opportunity to claim his heart’s desire?

This was a positively adorable (if short) read! If you needed another reason to read it, last time I checked it was free on the Kindle Store… Or you can borrow a copy from me!

Nely Cab – Creatura

CreaturaCreatura by Nely Cab
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Series: Creatura #1
Source: Review By Request
ARC Provided by Publisher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When seventeen year-old Isis Martin is having trouble sleeping due to perturbing dreams of a horrific growling beast, she decides to confront her fear. But what Isis discovers is something other than a menacing entity.

The human-like creature offers Isis assurance that he is not a figment of her imagination. Unwilling to accept his avowal, Isis sets his words to contest by asking the entity to prove himself—a dare, he readily welcomes.

It is in her dreams that Isis innocently stumbles upon the silent existence of the divine lineage of those that man has long forgotten.

In a quaint town, deep in south Texas, this story leads Isis onto the path of impermissible love and captivating life-changing truths. Isis Martin’s journey is sure to leave any reader ravenous for more.

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This was an amusing book for fans of Paranormal Young Adult/High School Romances. …taking a deep breath… However, I want to stand before you and admit that
I am not the target audience of this book

. Somehow I missed the YA warning signs in the book’s description before I picked it up. That is my fault, not the author’s, and I regret that it kept me from enjoying the book. And more importantly, I regret that it affected my rating of the book, but I feel compelled to write an honest review.

I’d like to start by saying that the description of this book provided by the publisher only addresses the first one or two chapters, and fails to describe the plot of this book.

It had a fun and original premise:

Isis is a lucid dreamer (able to control her dream-state) her control seems to be slipping because a dark figure is haunting her dreams. When she finally gains the courage to confront the intimidating specter, she states out loud (and to the creature) “you are not Real.”
The creature decides to prove that he is real by showing up at Isis’s high school and enrolling as a student. The plot improves from there – a creation story, ancient Gods, star-crossed lovers, jealous ex-boyfriends, etc.

If you are a teenage girl, sure, you should read this book. It’s romantic. It’s age appropriate. The male love interest is cute, sweet, and possessive without being eerily creepy. If you are an adult, perhaps you should consider skipping this little gem.

The heroine and her friends are 17 years old and seniors in high school, with all the trappings of the age group – school functions, clique-y teenagers, angst… absurd dialogue…

…taking another deep breath…
I am not the target audience of this book.
(repeating this as a mantra throughout the whole book)

Is anyone else weirded out by a 300ish year old God hitting on a 17 year old virgin high school student? Just me? Oh… One more reason I am obviously not the target audience.

I didn’t enjoy over-the-top cringe-worthy teenage poetry when I was a teenager… I assure you, I have not warmed to the medium over the years either. And there was A TON of it. That’s kind of the cherry on top of the sundae worth of reasons I was not the target audience for this book.

Every single little plot twist in this book was obvious.
With the exception of one: If I ever got a text from a dead guy who was threatening my friends with a gun the last time anyone had seen him alive…
I would NOT answer his pleas. Just saying.

Anton Strout – Alchemystic

Alchemystic by Anton Strout

Series: The Spellmason Chronicles, #1
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…
Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…

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A fun YA/NA Urban Fantasy…

“I lifted my knife, ignoring how it shook in my hand. Whether I could use it was another story, but I’d be damned if I was going to play the victim again. Something dark was rising up in me.”

The story had several elements which generally appeal to me:
secret societies,
hidden family histories,
a full-on paranormal/urban fantasy thing going on,
not to mention a funny and strong main character.

However, I had a hard time latching on to this book.
This was more than likely a case of me, not the author…
I doubt I am the target audience, so keep that in mind, please.

It simply wasn’t a story which grabbed me from the beginning. Quite frankly, it didn’t grab me until the 14th Chapter. I muscled through the first thirteen chapters because I was interested in the premise:

a gargoyle created by a spell mason to protect future generations of his family from a mysterious evil.

I also continued reading because I was intrigued by Alexandra, the female lead – emotional but not helpless – she’s overwhelmed with the consequences following the death of her brother, but she retains a backbone and a sense of humor that I appreciate in a female main character. How could I NOT have a soft spot for an artist who speaks in pop culture references?

ALEXANDRA:

“We’re in the twenty-first century now,” I said. “Women don’t need protectors. Besides, I’m so a Hermione, not a Bella.”

As adorable as it was, something about this book just didn’t click with me. It had some great elements, humorous dialogue, and some action and suspense befitting the overall plot line… I just wasn’t blown away by it.

I’m sure this book is perfect for someone, because it really was a good read. However, I doubt I’ll continue the series.

***I won this book through a “first reads” giveaway on GoodReads***

Erica Stevens – Refugee

Refugee by Erica Stevens

Series: The Captive #3
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Whispers, rumors, and horror stories abound about The Barrens and the strange creatures that lurk within them. Determined to find the remaining vampires that stood against his father in the war, Braith knows that it’s dangerous to enter the inhospitable land, but that they must if they are to have a chance at gaining allies to help overthrow the king. Though he once knew the powerful vampires that are rumored to reside within The Barrens, he is unsure what to expect if they succeed in finding them. He will do whatever is necessary though to ensure a future for himself and Aria.

Aria is fearful of entering into the land she’s heard nothing but cautionary tales about, but she’s determined to help Braith locate the vampires that may help them with their cause. She is fascinated and amazed by the world they uncover within, one that is unlike anything she has ever seen before. However, the more immersed they become in a world that she doesn’t entirely understand, the more she realizes that it won’t be the war, or even the king that will eventually tear her and Braith apart.

It will be her.

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A lead up to the final book, preparations are being made, and Aria’s life is in danger…

(BEWARE OF SPOILERS)

“He would come for her, she knew that, but would it be the vampire that came for her, or the monster that vampire could become.”

So Here’s my BIG ISSUE with this series…

If Aria thinks that she must die in order to save Braith…
If everyone believes Aria must be turned into a Vampire in order to stay with Braith as his Queen…
If Braith believes Aria will die if anyone attempts to turn her into a Vampire…

THEN JUST FUCKING TURN THE GIRL INTO A VAMPIRE ALREADY!!

If she dies, then nothing really changes…
She wants to die anyway…

Also, I have a prediction about book four:
I’m betting that Aria has Vampire DNA in her bloodline, and Xavier can sense it…

One more thing…
Let the poor girl have sex already!
Yes, that might just be my love for Erotica bleeding through to a genre which doesn’t deserve to be sexualized… But for the love of god, I cannot handle all this will-they-or-won’t-they UST!

This series is starting to spin out of control into an angsty YA nightmare… Which I kind of remember it doing the last time I read it… I certainly hope that the final book addresses this nonsense.


“You know, for an immortal vampire you’re a bit of a wimp,” Aria informed Ashby.
He flashed his dashing smile as he grinned. “I never said I wasn’t.”

Erica Stevens – Renegade

Renegade by Erica Stevens

Series: The Captive #2
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Though she is free of the palace, rescued from her position as a blood slave, Aria is haunted by the memories of her time spent within the fortress, tormented by memories of Braith, the prince that betrayed her and shattered her heart.

Every day is a struggle to get through, and the only solace she is able to find is with Max, her best friend, and fellow captive. Though Max does not understand her bond to Braith, he knows some of what she endured, and helps to ease some of the tattered pieces of her soul. Aria slowly begins to salvage the broken parts of her wounded spirit by throwing herself into the wonder of the woods she had so greatly missed, and the secure and reassuring love that Max freely gives her. Her world is thrown into a tailspin again though when a marauding group of vampires destroy the caves she had found temporary shelter in.

Scattered about the forest, seeking to stay hidden and find her family, Aria is stunned when Braith, the monster that savaged her heart, reappears. Stunned by his sudden arrival in her world, Arianna is uncertain if he has come to recapture her, or to kill her for daring to escape.

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A wholly entertaining series which transcends the YA genre…
Most accurately described as Dystopian Vampire Romance…

It wasn’t until he tasted the saltiness of her tears upon his lips that he realized she was crying. It wasn’t until he pulled away to wipe her tears from her silken cheeks that he realized he cared for her far more than he had been willing to admit to himself. It wasn’t until she rested her forehead against his chest and began to sob heavily that he realized they were both doomed.

The second book in this series lays out a seemingly insurmountable obstacle standing between Braith & Aria’s Happily Ever After…

In the process Braith becomes a bit whiny and helpless (in my opinion) Which is strange to say about a powerful immortal on a killing spree…

Erica Stevens – Captured

Captured by Erica Stevens

Series: The Captive #1
Source: Personal Library
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood Slave.

Captured, taken from her beloved family and woods, Aria’s biggest fear is not the imminent death facing her, but that she will be chosen as a blood slave for a member of the ruling vampire race. No matter what becomes of her though, Aria knows that she must keep her identity hidden from the monsters imprisoning her. She has already been branded a member of the rebellion, but the vampires do not know the true depth of her involvement with it, and they must never know.

Though hoping for death, Aria’s world is turned upside down when a vampire named Braith steps forward to claim her. He delays her execution, but Aria knows it’s only a matter of time before he drains her, and destroys her. Especially once she learns his true identity as a prince within the royal family; the same royal family that started the war that ultimately brought down humankind, reducing them to nothing more than servants and slaves.

Aria is determined to hate the prince, determined not to give into him in anyway, but his strange kindness, and surprising gentleness astonish her. Torn between her loyalties to the rebellion, and her growing love for her greatest enemy, Aria struggles to decide between everything she has ever known, and a love she never dreamed of finding.

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A series which transcends the YA genre, and it’s wholly entertaining…
Dystopian Vampire Romance…

Aria was nearly gasping, nearly hyperventilating. She was trying hard to remain brave, but she could feel a shattering growing inside of her, a breaking of her soul that was far more painful than anything she had ever experienced before. And she had experienced some very painful things in her life. But this, this was the worst. This man was going to do many many things to her. None of them would be good, and all of them would be designed to savage her body, and her mind.

I’m re-reading this series in preparation for the fourth and final book, Salvation… As you may know through reading my reviews, I tend to stay away from YA Romance & Fiction. The Captive Series from Erica Stevens is the glowing exception to that rule.

I seem to remember that the quality of the narrative trails off over the course of this series, but the inventive and intriguing world that Stevens creates, as well as the interesting character who inhabit it, are the heart and soul of this series.

I hope I’m mis-remebering the next two books as we lead up to the end of the series, but one thing remains certain. This book is a damn’ fine piece of Fiction.