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Ami's Hoard

To Read is To Live

Taming the Wyld (Lucie Archer)

Taming the Wyld (States of Love) - Lucie Archer

2.5 stars

The idea was intriguing -- I sure like to read about playboy being reformed. But the execution was lacking.

I know that the idea was probably to make Jake worked on this new relationship with JD. However, I didn't feel the chemistry or the sexual tension, and it seemed that Jake and JD (urgh, two MCs with same letter to start their name) spent more time apart rather than building up the relationship. I felt that Jake had more time shared with his best friend rather than JD.

So, the romance was MEH ... I reached around 1/3 before I started skimming. Also the Alaska setting didn't come fully alive in my humble opinion. Which was too bad, since the setting was one of the biggest reasons of my choosing this.

Delaney and the Autumn Masque (Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon)

Delaney and the Autumn Masque (Victorian Holiday Hearts Book 4) - Summer Devon, Bonnie Dee

3.5 stars

I think this might be the last book of Dee/Devon Victorian Holiday Hearts novella series; it featured Delaney Andrews one of the Andrews' foster kids. I really enjoyed the first part where Delaney and Bartholomew met on the masque party. There was something quite sensual about it, when you met the strangers while using masks.

The relationship progress was lovely and I was happy that Bartholomew was able to live doing what he enjoyed doing (making jewelry!!) :)

One More Taste (Melissa Cutler)

One More Taste: A One and Only Texas Novel - Melissa Cutler

I highly enjoyed One Hot Summer, the first book in the series and was pretty excited to read this sequel. The reason is that Emily Ford, the temperamental and passionate chef, is starring as the heroine here. Imagine this, she spills peach soup all over Knox right in the first chapter! I was curious to see how Knox could soften her up.

Unfortunately, this book suffered from unlikable family drama coming from the Briscoe family that sometimes eclipsed the relationship. The first book featured two people who are not family members, so the Briscoes stayed outside the periphery. Knox and Emily, however, are very close to the family. Knox himself is a Briscoe, while Emily’s best friend is Ty Briscoe’s older daughter, Carina.

So we have a LOT of family issues bleeding into the story – for example: Haylie, Ty’s youngest daughter who is in a bad marriage, then the long-time feud between Ty and Knox’s deceased father which makes Knox cut out from the ranch business from the very beginning, as well as family secrets that create the feud in the first place. In addition, Ty Briscoe is such a distasteful man!! The things he said to Knox and Emily!! I was having violent urges to beat the guy until he couldn’t stand up.

I mean, it’s not like we don’t have drama coming from the couple either – mostly Emily, since she keeps a secret from everyone, which has driven her to be wary about expanding her career and pursuing a personal relationship.

So I was alternating between feeling exhausted or annoyed most of the time. I wanted the book to focus on Knox and Emily, not sharing the spotlights with the other Briscoe family members. The ending wasn’t satisfying to me either, since the resolution to the ‘threat’ of Briscoe losing the ranch resort was a little too neat.

It was such a downer because I thought Knox was a great hero. I really loved Knox. This guy believed that his car was haunted (so amusing!), he named an attacking fish (yes, there was an attacking fish in this book *lol*), and he was really sweet to Emily, despite her penchant for running away. There were also moments between Knox and Emily together that I thought were wonderful. So Knox was the major reason why I was still able to enjoy the book somewhat; it was just too bad that Emily couldn’t keep up.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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.

Dangerously Charming (Deborah Blake)

Dangerously Charming (Broken Riders Novel, A) - Deborah Blake
3.5 stars

This curse unbroken now shall be
Down into eternity
Unless you find the pathway through
And solve the riddle with this clue
A rose’s cry at rock enchanted
The sun’s bright ray where none is slanted
A magic key to a gift divine
True love must merge when stars align

Dangerously Charming is the start of a new spin-off series from Deborah Blake, out of her previous Baba Yaga novels. Personally, I think you don’t need to read the Baba Yaga novels first because Blake gave enough information for new readers, but it will sure help give context as to why the series is titled “Broken Riders”.

On the fantasy/fairy-tale part, I thought this was definitely charming. There is a classic adventure quest to break a curse that had been cast centuries ago. Blake takes readers to visit the Otherworld, to revisit Barbara (one of the Baba Yagas), a road trip to enchanted rock, more information about Russian folklore, heck even having Mikhail involved in challenge of wits with a troll. I enjoyed that part very much. I also loved that I knew more about Mikhail and his Rider brothers this time.

It is the romance part that I wasn’t completely sold on. I thought it was rather lukewarm, and I definitely didn’t get the emotion. Which was too bad because with Mikhail having guilt after what happened with him and his brothers in the previous series, there was potential for hurt/comfort moments.

I also had issues with a couple of technical things. Deborah Blake used ‘two versions’ of referring Mikhail Day as character. When the perspective is heavily leaning on Mikhail, she uses “Day”. When it is from Jenna’s perspective, she writes it as “Mick”. That didn’t help me connect with the character. Just when I was familiarizing myself with Mick, I was ‘yanked’ out again and forced to know Mick as Day. It was distracting.

Blake also wrote a few short scenes using multiple POVs from other characters, like Barbara, Jenna’s ex, and the fairy who cast the curse. I strongly dislike multiple POVs in books with a romantic element. I want the POVs to focus only the hero/heroine. So I thought these scenes were unnecessary and disrupted the flow of the story.

Of course this could easily be my issue alone. Overall, it is a good spin-off and for those who have enjoyed Baba Yaga series, you will enjoy this one as well.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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.

Magic Binds (Ilona Andrews)

Magic Binds -  Ilona Andrews

Not going to review this because well, up to this point, I will probably just going to say OMG I LOVED IT!! So yeah, no reviews. Just things that popped on my head as I read this

All the f*cking twists that made me all excited about!

+ Kate's reaction to wedding preparation is just, so Kate. I loved it!
+ Roman officiates the wedding. OMG! HE NEEDS TO HAVE HIS OWN BOOK!!
+ And Christopher has Deimos inside of him? The god of terror? Son of Ares, the Greek god of war, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love? I seriously DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!! Gah, I want short stories or novellas featuring Christopher, Barabas, and Maggie, their dog.
+ Kate sort of "resurrects" Erra (her aunt) is so cool!
+ Kate doing ballet. Eat that, Curran!
+ Jezebel as a traitor. I was having my jaw dropped by then
+ And of course Kate ends up having her life binds with Roland. Hah!
+ The wedding itself is wonderful *sigh*

(show spoiler)

I didn't love it as the previous book. I thought Kate spent time away from Curran a little too long as she was trying to find a way to deal with her father and to let the vision not coming true. I guess at this point I truly want them to have no secrets, and that Kate tells her plan way early on rather than later.

I so didn't know what to think about Adora. But she might be very useful later. My eyes glazed over with all the explanation of Roland's background as well. I was quite annoyed with Jim, he just felt ungrateful!

And ... I thought the last battle was a little short. Although Ilona and Gordon probably save the epic battle for the last book. Because if I am not mistaken based on this page, Magic Binds is the penultimate book. We only have ONE MORE Kate Daniels, people *cue the waterworks*

The Soldier's Scoundrel (Cat Sebastian)

The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian
I had to take a second look when I first saw this cover ... I read quite a number of releases from Avon, but this might be the first time they had full-length M/M novel. Correct me if I am wrong, though. I have slowly started to love M/M historical regency romance for the past couple of years. So this made me all excited.

I thought the romance was ADORABLE. The characterizations of Oliver and Jack, two men from different class in the society was well-told. It also has a well-written enemies-to-lovers theme (not usually my favorite trope because I often find the change to lovers to be unbelievable) where the relationship progress is slow-burn but still decorated with delicious undeniable sexual chemistry and tension.

I was giddy when I read Oliver and Jack's first kiss, I enjoyed their latter kisses, heck I even devoured ALL the steamy moments (yep, no skimming this time). Usually a sign on how I think the romance works, when I also enjoy the sex scenes ^^

I did have problem a bit with the pacing. The beginning was a bit slow. I admit that the story didn't immediately grab my attention. It was only when Oliver finds out about his brother-in-law, and then they travel to Pickworth to gather more information about the Wraxhalls that I couldn't put it down. Also I thought Jack was a little bit too stubborn near the end, even if I loved how Oliver tries to prove Jack wrong. Oliver is nothing if not determined *lol*

I can't wait for Georgie's story next year. YAY for new MM historical-romance series to follow ^^

A Matchless Man (Ariel Tachna)

A Matchless Man (Dreamspun Desires Book 19) - Ariel Tachna
A Matchless Man is the latest part of Dreamspun Desires collection, as well as Ariel Tachna’s Lexington Lovers series. However, this book can be read as a stand-alone because the only thing that it shared with Unstable Stud (released in April) is the location: Lexington, Kentucky.

I kind of having similar issue with this book – just as I did with Unstable Stud – in terms of the romance between Navashen and Brent being quite underwhelming. I couldn’t even really think of their story as being a slow-burn relationship – despite them not starting to date until around 70% of the book – because most of the time, the story was about other things instead. For example, Navashen setting up his house, or Brent trying to introduce Navashen to his friends and to make Navashen have a social life, or even the progress of Navashen’s younger brother, Akshat, of becoming more independent.

In addition, the story is told solely from Navashen’s point-of-view. With romance that has a ‘matchmaker’ theme attached to it, usually we also get perspective from the matchmaker. Therefore, we know how the feeling starts to change, when they want to become the ‘match’ instead.

Here, I never really knew about or was convinced that Brent had the same romantic feeling towards Navashen. I couldn’t feel his jealousy when one of his friends showed interest in Navashen. I couldn’t feel him wanting more out of his relationship with Navashen than just friendship.

Heck, I got more conviction about the sibling relationship between Navashen and Akshat than Navashen and Brent. I did adore Akshat though; I thought he was a great secondary character. He was also great in championing Brent as Navashen’s boyfriend, which helped when their mother became quite annoyingly less open-minded.

It was a nice story, nothing too dramatic or angsty, with low steam level, but also rather lacking in the romance department.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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

Making Waves (Marie Sexton)

Making Waves (Wrench Wars Book 4) - Marie Sexton
2.5 stars

Marie Sexton has written some of my favorite M/M stories, ever… unfortunately, this is not one of them, in my humble opinion. The blurb implies that Dean will play quite a significant role in this novella – unfortunately, it also makes Dean the reason why I spent most of the time reading this FUMING .

In short, Dean is an asshole. He is a jackass to both Ward, who is his best friend, and to Ash, who is his brother. He sabotages Ward’s relationship. He is selfish and self-absorbed. I hated he even has scenes on this novella.

Ward and Ash are okay. I liked that Ward finally calls Dean out on what he is (a jerk). Ash doesn’t immediately gives up their relationship because his brother is a self-centered bastard. But I wish I saw more of Ward and Ash developing their relationship. Instead, those times felt summarized and rushed.

So yeah, this was NOT the best of Marie Sexton. I could probably remember this, but not in a positive way.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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

Station of Shards (Aimee Villarine)

Station of Shards - Aimee Villarine

2.5 stars

To me, short stories can be really good -- but this is not one of them.

The switch between past and present destroyed the flow of relationship-built between Kelley and Simon to me as a reader, and I lost emotional connection to them. Suddenly years passed, and important things were mentioned as reference. Which is too bad since there were potential moments between the two, which clued me that they have chemistry and tender loving times as long as they have become friends

The sci-fi world is paper thin; it can easily be a present/contemporary situation. The plot is barely there.

More Than Okay (Bru Baker)

More Than Okay - Bru Baker

If the author is trying to write a story about “how you can screw up your relationship after being together for seven years because of lack of communication” well, I think Bru Baker succeeded. Because that is what I took from this short story when I finished. And it didn’t feel good.

Nope. Not at all.

The thing is, the story is written solely from Jake’s perspective. So as a reader, I could ‘feel’ his growing concerns and worries with Connor who seemed to get further away from their relationship with his secrecy. However, at the same time, Jake doesn’t exactly do anything about it either. He never really asks Connor about it, he keeps things bottled inside, even if he starts thinking the worst including whether Connor is cheating on him.

Look, the way I see it, while trust is very important in a relationship, blind trust is not exactly healthy either. It’s not about whether you trust your partner or not, it’s about … let’s say it together … COMMUNICATION.

And the revelation about what Connor had been keeping as secret from Jake just made me very, very annoyed. No, Connor. You don’t really make that kind of decision without asking your partner of SEVEN YEARS. I mean, are you effing kidding me?!

So with heavy heart, I cannot recommend this one. But of course, everyone’s tolerance with the miscommunication trope may vary with mine; yours can be higher and don’t see this as a problem. At least this one is short. *shrugs*

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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

Raven's Rest (Stephen Osborne)

Raven's Rest - Stephen Osborne

I have enjoyed most of Stephen Osborne's books that I have read -- in fact, he's one of my favorite underrated authors. Unfortunately, this latest from him, didn't satisfy me as much. Raven's Rest practically have two plots going on ... Michael's attempt for new life in Banning and new romance with local boy, Trey, after he left his verbally abusive boyfriend, as well as mystery about a ghost that has been haunting Raven's Rest.

While the ghost story and what happened with Coleman and his lover, Bryan, back in the 1980s was predictable... but it was more emotionally engaging to me. Their story was heartbreaking and I couldn't help feeling mellow because despite it being fiction, the chance of it happening in real world is still open.

Unfortunately, the present love story between Michael and Trey wasn't as compelling. They moved into relationship, as well as the falling in love, quite fast for my taste preference. Considering that Michael just walked out from a bad relationship, this felt like jumping the gun a little bit. I didn't feel any hesitation, any second guessing whether he should be in a new relationship that fast.

In addition, there were moments in which I thought Michael was being a little stupid for his own good when it came to his safety. Few times he refused company to walk through town when it was clear that somebody was stalking him, or that there was threats to his life. I was annoyed with him!

Having said that, Osborne's writing is still good and enjoyable. I also loved that the book was pretty low-steam, all sex scenes were fade to black. I always felt overwhelmed with sex scenes in book anyway, in this case I could focus on their romance rather than the lust of the flesh.

Snowfall on Haven Point (RaeAnne Thayne)

Snowfall on Haven Point - RaeAnne Thayne

I always love going back to Haven Point, the small fictional town that RaeAnne Thayne created and it was good that this year, we had two entries of this series.

We met Andrea and Marshall from the previous book, Riverbend Road, which was released last June. Andrea “Andie” Montgomery is a single Mom who ran away with her kids to Haven Point, to escape his rapist slash stalker slash his deceased-husband’s partner (yes, than man was THAT disgusting). While Marshall is the older brother of Wyn Bailey, the heroine of that book.

I loved Andie’s development in this book. I thought she had come a long way to overcome her fear as well as her devastated feeling after losing her husband and then experienced that horrible rape. It was not easy for her, knowing that she could fall in love again with a law enforcement officer like Marshall. Basically, everything good as well as bad that happened with her previously more or less had something to do with cops. Since she was helping Marshall in this book – after he was run down with a car – I thought Andie’s concern was justified.

I enjoyed Marshall’s progress too, from being a grumpy, not-needing-any-help-thanks man to open himself with the chance of happiness. I loved his interaction with Andie’s kids (they were ADORABLE, by the way). I also loved Marshall’s approach, albeit tentative, to his teenage son – whom he never communicate for the past 13 years due to … circumstances – I thought he did just fine there.

Aside from the romance – which is another clean one, just kiss, no sex – there was a mystery bit regarding who ran Marshall down. I admit that I couldn’t guess who it was so I thought the resolution was pretty satisfying. Plus it gave a chance for Andie to show that she could kick some ass.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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.

The Trouble With Mistletoe (Jill Shalvis)

The Trouble with Mistletoe - Jill Shalvis
3.75 stars rounded up

If you are a fan of Jill Shalvis, I think you will get her usual charm in The Trouble With Mistletoe, the second installment in Heartbreaker Bay. There is a likeable hero, likeable heroine, bunch of tight-knit friends, witty and snappy banter, a dash of humor, adorable moments, scene-stealing animals(!), and of course, a happy ending. In the middle, there will be obstacles to the romance, usually because either the hero or the heroine don’t believe themselves worthy of love and happily ever after, or they don’t believe in commitment.

Yes, the classic albeit predictable formula. It might not be a deep, insightful or life changing read, but I see nothing wrong with it. There is something comforting in familiarity, and I admit, that is the reason why I keep returning to Shalvis’ fictional worlds, again and again, especially with her recent series.

From the first meeting, when Willa opened the pet shop door to Keane – her wearing a questionable reindeer-antler headband and him carrying a bright pink bedazzled cat carrier – I knew that I would be in for a treat. I guess the fact that Willa works in a pet shop (All those animals!! Heck the animals are definitely the winner in my eyes) and Keane taking care of his aunt’s cat – despite the fact that the cat seems to hate him – screamed with the potential of some cute scenes.

I admit that Keane’s fear of commitment didn’t ring very true, as it wasn’t explored deeply. I would love to know more about his background, including the relationship with his family. The way that Keane treated Willa didn’t support the one-night-stand-serial kind of guy to me. Thus, the switch between him wanting no commitment to fully committing to loving Willa felt too sudden and rushed.

I felt like I got to know more about Willa and her fear of a happy ending – plus her realization of love was helped by her tight-knit friends and former foster kids.

All in all, I enjoyed Willa and Keane’s journey to a happy ending. I like this better than the previous book, though not as much as I loved the popular Lucky Harbor series. I can’t wait to read Rory’s novella coming in November, as well as Elle’s story in January.

A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls

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

The Empty Rooftop (Lily MacPherson)

The Empty Rooftop - Lily MacPherson

I bought this book because I still wanted to read another F/F romance as part of genre challenge involvement at Joyfully Ja. Also because I read positive review from Lena♥Ribka and this cover from Natasha Snow is absolutely gorgeous!!

Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, it didn't reach to its full potential. I totally loved the idea -- both the mystery about serial killer as well as blossoming romance between an FBI consultant a girl car racer. However, the execution was slightly lacking.

In terms of romance, MacPherson was doing more "tell than show", which always annoyed me. Yes, Anya and Tommi connected but there were chunks of time missing from their relationship progress. I didn't get enough 'evidence', so to speak, especially when sometimes weeks went by, or part of their activities and conversations were only summarized.

The serial killer / investigative part also wasn't deeply explored. I always consider myself a mystery fan at heart. I grew up with Famous Five and Agatha Christie. I didn't read romance until I was in my teens. So I always have expectations when it comes to romance with mystery element. How MacPherson approached the investigation and later on, the reveal of the serial killer felt like only touched the surface. The mystery fan in me wasn't satisfied at all.

However, I did love MacPherson's writing. There was this melancholia mood to it, I could feel Anya's loneliness before she met Tommi. I could feel how she struggle with her tough job, the needs to keep it a secret, and at the same time wanting to have more meaningful relationship with Tommi. I always love stories that explore the feel of loneliness. I am a sucker for this kind of emotional conflict.

So there, another f/f romance in my collection ^_^. This one didn't have explicit on-page sex scenes though, only few kisses, which probably a plus point for me as well since I'm still uncomfortable reading lesbian sex :)

Part of my involvement in Joyfully Jay Reading Challenge Month 2016 Week 4: Genre Challenge


Infected: Holden (Andrea Speed)

Infected: Holden - Andrea Speed

** spoiler alert **

Still, there was a huge difference in the way Roan helped people and the way Holden did. He hoped Seattle was ready for it.

I think readers who expect the book to have a lot of shifting involved will be disappointed. Similar to those who want romance. Clearly this is not where Andrea Speed decides to go with the first installment of Mean Street series ... a.k.a. Holden's book (or Infected's spin-off). I think that name is more apt to describe the mood/tone of this book rather than using Infected on the title. Using Infected can be pretty misleading, IMHO.

I did love how this book turned out. I am glad that Holden stays, well, Holden, including his sarcastic looks toward the world, his negativity (especially towards the hets), as well as his penchant for vigilante and violence. Borrowing my friend, Ika's review, this is exactly how I imagine Suicide Squad movie should be. Morally ambiguous and take no prisoner.

I also don't expect romance -- so I wasn't really surprised when Scott decided to break it off with Holden. Honestly? I never really believe that Holden and Scott can make it till the very end anyway. They are two people with different needs and expectations. They might be good in bed but I don't see them as compatible partners in the long run. With Holden's unwillingness to let anybody close to him, this might not be the right time for Scott (or anybody else) to occupy that part of Holden's life and heart.

On that note, this is where I had problems. Now that Scott steps down from his role as Holden's boyfriend, I wasn't really interested to read his chapters. For me, Scott is significant because of his relationship with Holden. Without that, I don't really care about him.

Sure, Scott's relationship with Grey is intriguing, plus Grey being an asexual adds to the diverse sexuality of the book. But Scott's chapters just drag this book down for me. I was more interested to read about Holden -- even if only reading about his frustration of doing monotonous investigation process. I am more intrigued with Chai -- this additional character that ends up being Holden's partner in the private eye agency.

For sure, Holden is not Roan but he can still evolve, including probably caring for other people than he wants to in the beginning. Chai will be a good balance for him, I think. So sign me up for the next book because I am totally in for this next journey of Holden's life.


Unsafe Exposure (Kaje Harper)

Unsafe Exposure - Kaje Harper

*~*~* SPOILER REVIEW *~*~*

I love Kaje Harper's Hidden Wolves series. The previous book was released 2 years ago so I got pretty excited when she announced that there would be a new book released this year.

One thing that needed to be said ... dang Kaje Harper can write! I definitely loved how she played around with the werewolves culture. For example, in book #3, Unjustified Claims, Kaje introduced Brandt and Ethan -- Brandt is the werewolf with non-human strength but he loves to dress in lingerie and garter, and be the one being f*cked. Now, in Unsafe Exposure, Kaje again introduced a unique dynamic of the couple and their roles in the Pack.

Dylan Shore never knows that he is a werewolf, so he never shifts and he doesn't understand the rules of being a werewolf. On the other hand, Alex is Fourteen in his pack, and whenever people see the two of them, they will never see Alex as Alpha material. But the Alpha bond that happens between Alex and Dylan put Alex as the Alpha and Dylan the Second.

To me, this was VERY interesting to read!! How Alex is conflicted because he himself doesn't think that he's Alpha enough for Dylan -- oh and Alex also tends to be more submissive than the younger Dylan. How does it challenge other werewolves to see their relationship and act on it? It probably looks like Dylan is the big bouncer or bodyguard to his Alex, with his Alpha tendency even if his role in this two-wolves Pack is as Second. It moved away from the common Alpha/mate concept in shifters world, and this is the strength of this series, IMHO.

Aside from this dynamic, this book also put me on the edge of my seat, with the development of werewolves coming out into the world. It was thrilling and suspenseful!! Especially because there were casualties from both sides (humans and werewolves) and I didn't think that it would be resolved soon.

With this note, there must be further book in the series, right? Because there are still loose-ends! What about the further consequences of werewolves coming out ... and what about Aaron and Zach (will they ever have their mate bond?).