Cynthia Brint – Until the Flood

Until the Flood (A Werewolf Romance Novella)Until the Flood by Cynthia Brint

Source: Review By Request
ARC received from Publisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I fell in love with Brandon Beck, tasted my first kiss in his arms, I believed deep in my bones that we would always be together. Nothing could ever tear us apart. And you know, I was right.

Until the flood came, I was right.

That day, standing on the roof, I was sure I’d lost everything. Brandon Beck’s body had been swept away. The one boy that was meant for me was gone.
That was what I thought, anyway. Two years later, I caught a glimpse of him.
Why would the love of my life stalk me from the shadows, why would he hide away for so long?

Maybe it was all in my head.

Or was it possible… that Brandon Beck had never died at all?

Until the Flood is a 140 page New Adult Werewolf Romance novella. It focuses on how we find ourselves pulled back to the ones we love, no matter what has changed inside of us.
Sometimes, we change more than we could have ever imagined.

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I read this book as part of the Shifter Romance Boxed Set. This was a rather huge departure form other books in the set because it was heavy in the YA/NA genre while others had been firmly Erotica. The story was cute enough, young love and all that… and I have to give a HUGE thumbs up to the epilogue!

There’s really not a lot I can add to the plot that isn’t said by the blurb. It was cute and sweet, just not really my particular speed… Virgins and Teenagers and Angst! Oh My!

Alright, folks… You know I’m not a cover snob. When have I ever judged a book on a (terrible) cover? Never.

That being said… Judge this book by it’s cover… Melting Angst?
Yup, that about covers it…
*shivers*
What a terrible cover…
***I was provided an ARC of the Shifter Romance Boxed Set in exchanged for a honest review***

Shifter Romance Boxed Set

Shifter Romance Boxed SetShifter Romance Boxed Set by Multiple Authors

Source: Review by Request
ARC Provided by Publisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lions and tigers and bears…oh, yeah! This collection of shifter romances is guaranteed to heat up your cool autumn evenings with ten stories (350,000 total words!) of curve-loving werebears, sassy werecats and, of course, everyone’s favorite: alpha werewolves. Pick up this boxed set today and get in touch with your animal side tonight — just 99¢ for a limited time! (Regular Price $9.99!)

Stories from New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Aubrey Rose, Eliza Gayle, Adriana Hunter, Terry Towers (writing as Elixa Everett), Tawny Taylor , Aphrodite Hunt (writing as Dawn Steele) and Marina Maddix ,as well as #1 Paranormal author Celia Kyle, Top 20 Shifter Romance author Cynthia Brint, and Top 100 Amazon and Barnes and Noble bestselling and award winning author Selena Kitt. 

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For a 99¢ I say go for it… One or two of the books were really enjoyable. However, this collection is clearly quantity over quality. I wouldn’t have finished a few of the books if I weren’t reviewing an ARC of the collection. There were Shifter Bears, Cougars, People, Lions, Rabbits, and Housecats… So there is certainly a lot of variety to choose from.

I started to get the feeling that this was a grab bag of “firsts” as in, the first book in a series and the collection was compiled under the assumption that readers will fall in love with one or more books and continue the series. Unfortunately, I didn’t fall in love with any of them. The collection ranged from Good, to Mediocre, to Downright Awful.

The Good:
He Ain’t Lion (Laugh out loud funny)
Whatever He Needs Her To Be (Original premise)
Wanted By The Alphas (Complex and full of weirdness)
Lucas (Sexy and fast-paced)

The Mediocre:
Laid Bear (Forgettable but not terrible)
BEARed to You(I liked the shifter origin story)
Blind Wolf (main characters were twits)
Until the Flood (Angsty NewAdult / Young Adult)
Cat Lover (Pretty sure that was Furry Erotica…)
Better Mate Than Never(Amusing but formulaic)

The Downright Awful:
Desires of the Wolfman (Just… Skip this one…)

When I review anthologies, I like to write up individual reviews for each of the books and then base my rating on the overall impression of the collection. Especially considering this set features eleven individual authors with distinct styles and writing quality. You can find links to the full reviews for each book below the blurbs I’ve written.


Marina MaddixLaid Bear

Curvy Bethany can’t believe her luck when her devastatingly hot neighbor Max falls for her. But his secret threatens her future…and her life.

It was a quick read, your standard M/F Paranormal shape-shifter romance, but with BEARS. It was nice, but ultimately it was nothing special…
You can find my full review here

 
Tawny TaylorBEARed to You

Curvy city girl Abby is thrilled when a hot, naked man shows up on her cabin’s front doorstep and stokes a blaze or two, in the fireplace and in her body…until he turns into a bear…and the two of them are forced to run for their lives through the untamed Alaskan wilderness.
More BEARS! I really liked the fresh explanation of how Tarik Evert became a WereBear. There were several steamy sex scenes and some lovely pillow talk, but other than that it was kind of a bust…
You can find my full review here


Celia Kyle – He Ain’t Lion

Life sucks… And then you get turned into a werelion… And then have lotsa awesome sex…
This was an unapologetic hilarious read. It was sexy and silly and never took itself seriously. There was rude language, WereLions, tons of sex, and one seriously sassy plus-sized woman.
You can find my full review here


Elixa Everett – Whatever He Needs Her To Be

What would you do to win over the man of your dreams? For shapeshifter Selena, it’s simply a matter of being whatever he needs her to be.
A promising storyline completely ruined by the writing. Disappointing. I really wanted to like this book because the premise was fresh and intriguing, but I wound up completely unsatisfied.
You can find my full review here


Dawn SteeleWanted By The Alphas

New girl in a new town, Shannon, meets two extremely gorgeous and extremely different men who are vying for her attention — but who happen to be a witch and an alpha werewolf at war with each other.
I thought this book was a vast improvement on the previous books in the set, in both plot and prose. We had Witches, Were-Panthers, Drug Cartels, Were-Wolves, Love Triangles, Fights to the Death, a brief trip to the after life for one of the characters, and one of the most baffling endings I’ve ever read.
You can find my full review here


Aubrey RoseBlind Wolf

A blind werewolf leading a pack of stragglers finally finds his one true mate — then realizes she’s human…
This was a sweet little BBW romance between a shy librarian and a blind WereWolf. It was cute, even if it was a little angsty at times. A merry band of misfits.
You can find my full review here

 


Cynthia Brint Until the Flood

Fiona believes the love of her life died years ago, so how will she handle his return…and the fact that he’s no longer human?
This was a rather huge departure form other books in the set because it was heavy in the YA/NA genre while others had been firmly Erotica. The story was cute enough, young love and all that…
You can find my full review here


Julianne ReyerDesires of the Wolfman

A newlywed couple faces their deepest fantasies and fears as they’re thrust from their little rural community into a world of werewolf turmoil and mystery.
I really didn’t like this book. It was actually severall little novellas crammed together, but I was ready to carve my eyeballs out with a spoon by the time it was over.
You can find my full review here

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Selena Kitt – Cat Lover

Sebastian and Katie are having relationship issues when her ex shows up to complicate things, but that’s the least of their worries, because Katie is finally changing–into something not quite human.
Told from the boyfriend’s perspective, this was a twisted tale of watching his girlfriend slowly become possessed by the Egyptian Cat Goddess Bast.
You can find my full review here


Adriana HunterBetter Mate Than Never

Caleb Stone has wanted Paige for as long as he can remember but there’s a reason he’s always kept his distance. Wolves, more specifically, Lycan’s, can’t mate with humans. Worse, he can sense her incredibly intense hunger for him but he knows that he can never give her what she wants, or needs.But when Paige is kidnapped by a powerful enemy Caleb has no choice but to go after her even if it means revealing his true identity…even if means risking it all.
I enjoyed this short story. It was a sweet little “I want you but I can’t have you” story between an Alpha-Male Werewolf and a curvaceous redheaded lawyer.
You can find my full review here


Eliza Gayle – Lucas

An uneasy alliance, a mating call that won’t be denied, rituals that must be honored, and unrelenting enemies who will stop at nothing to get what they want. In the end, there’s really only one choice… for Lucas.
The final book in this boxed set really surprised me when I was becoming fatigued by the Shifter Genre. It had a lot of action, some suspense, and some great dirty talk. Overall, Lucas was a decent “forbidden mates” style of Shifter Romance.
You can find my full review here

***I received an ARC of this collection in exchange for an honest review***

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 – Salvation

Salvation by Erica Stevens

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

4th and last book in the Captive Series.

Imprisoned by Caleb and at the mercy of the king, Aria is determined not to let them break her. However, the more atrocities she witnesses, the more she realizes there are some horrors no one can withstand, and sometimes survival isn’t always the best option.
Tormented by the loss of Aria, Braith is forced to choose between his need to rescue her, and the impending rebel war he’s been chosen to lead. Fighting against the darkness which threatens to drag him into its tempting depths, Braith struggles not to become like the one thing he hates the most, his father.
Faced with their own separate challenges, Aria and Braith must come to terms with who they are, what they want, and the likelihood that they can never be together as the inevitable war looms on the horizon. A war that all of them will fight but not all of them will survive.

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The final book of the series ends the story of Braith and Aria in an enchanting way, and makes up for the drag of Book Three

“Now they were here, back where it had all started, and where it would finally end one way or another.”

War is escalating.
Can Braith save Aria from the clutches of the King?
Will Aria and Braith get their happily ever after?
Will Humans and Vampires finally learn to live together?

“…If he comes back from a beheading I think we can just give him his crown, throw him a party, and admit defeat.”

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.