Seasons of Love and War by Brenda Ashworth Barry

Summary

SEASONS OF LOVE AND WAR is a historical family saga and epic love story. Childhood sweethearts Beth Ann Rose and Kaylob Shawn O’Brien just want to get married and pursue their dream careers, but the Vietnam War changes everything when Kaylob is drafted into the Army and declared dead. Beth Ann has a complete emotional melt down and starts to have visions of him in the jungles of Vietnam. Is he alive or has she completely lost her mind?

Characters

Kaylob, Beth Ann, and Blake are the three main characters. Although I liked both Kaylob and Blake to certain extents, I couldn’t bring myself to like Beth Ann. She reminded me as a lead in a trashy soap opera. By the end of the book I absolutely loathed her – to the point that I didn’t think she deserved anyone and I wished very much that things end poorly for her. She was not what I would define as a strong woman. Her reaction when Kaylob first goes missing was absolutely over the top. Most of her actions, in one way or another, were understandable  in some regard, but it was the way she handled them that was STUPID. She was a spineless selfish little creature that I hope ends up dying in a horrible way to match her horrible little personality – very similar to my emotions toward Catherine of Wuthering Heights. The supporting characters were fine, I actually liked Jake and Carol. I won’t even mention her long term friend because I’ll just start another rant on how much I disliked Beth Ann. Plus I don’t want to ruin any of the story.

Plot

Very interesting plot. The historical aspects of this book seemed to spot on. Anything I wasn’t 100 sure of, I actually googled really quickly and was impressed that the author did their homework. A hurrah because this was presented as a more historical novel. Wanting to find out what happened to Kaylob was hands down the number one reason I went through the book. I didn’t realize when I picked this book that it couldn’t stand alone. That was very disappointing because more than once I thought “was that really necessary?” Though that may have been due more to my dislike of the main character.

The war zone pieces were great…but they were entirely centered on Kaylob’s love for Beth Ann. I get that it was their connection – but for a historical novel I thought we’d see a little more of what was happening to him and his fellow soldiers. What we did see were some of the best parts of the novel and I absolutely love Kaylob for them. Where the author failed with Beth Ann in my eyes, Kaylob was wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful. Plus I’m not 100% sure where the author was going with the more supernatural part of the book with Beth Ann’s visions. You’ll see what I mean.

Overall

The writing was well done and easy to follow. The plot wasn’t perfect but did keep me engaged. I would point out that a few parts felt a little convenient – like when John Patterson calls Beth Ann. I also felt there were a few logical fallacies that were overlooked, but most of them were minor and had to do with Beth Ann’s decision making in general. The historical references were spot on as far as I could tell – which was a huge win in my mind. I truly thought that my general dislike of Beth Ann would fade as the author built the character up and made her stronger. Instead she kept her a pouting selfish brat, who I could never sympathize with because she always seemed to be using those who were good-natured.

Rating

2.5 stars (rounded up to 3)

If you like Wuthering Heights or soap operas you will love this book – it just wasn’t my favorite. As a historical novel this was a win, but as a romance for me it was an epic fail.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com.

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In What Remains by K.B. Rose

Summary

When Rachel and her family make a routine stop and become the targets of a violent assault, their summer road trip descends into a nightmare. Only the intervention of a stranger saves her life, and as they flee the crime scene, she wavers between fear and self-preservation. Can she trust him? Can she afford not to? Short-tempered and wholly impatient with her, Eric was somehow connected to it all, but he’s her key to surviving in a bleak new world. The first step in doing this is running as fast, and as far, as she can.

Moving forward in a dissolute whirlwind, Rachel has just one goal: to forget that day, by any means possible. But as her tangled connection with Eric deepens, she can’t quite forgive his role in it. She can’t forget his ties to the person responsible. And she can’t let go of the anger that begins to take root, leading her into a dangerous quest she might not come back from.

In What Remains is a dark and gritty novel of loss, love, and survival in a time when everything familiar is gone.

Note: This book contains explicit language, sexual content, drug use, violence, criminal activity, and women who fight back. Intended for mature readers only.

Characters

Rachel is both the most awesome character and the worst. In my mind she felt more like a leaf caught in a current being pulled downstream. Instead of fighting it she just went along with it, choosing survival above all else. Eric was complicated and vivid. He was the center in most of this novel, the pillar that bridged all of the individuals together. Suzy was hilarious, but represented the catalyst. All wonderfully portrayed and gritty.

Plot

I struggled with this being a romance for the first half of the book. Ultimately it is for the second half of the book and I loved it. I actually think the primary plot is more of a suspense. It was nail biting and hard to put down. I stayed up late a few nights in a row to finish it! I don’t want to give anything away but this was not for the faint of heart. This is one roller coaster ride worth riding!

Overall

I was really impressed with this book. I loved the romance. I was cheering for them. I loved how unpredictable the first half of the book was. I will note that ultimately knowing it was a romance meant I knew where it was going and how it was going to end. That was both good and bad – I knew it would all work out but it also lost some of the edge because I suspected it would have a happy ending. I’m still not sure if I was completely satisfied with the ending.

There were two parts that I didn’t like. As wonderful and gritty as it was, Rachel being underage for much of the first part of the book when she is spiraling, really put me on edge. I struggled with it. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderfully written, but I personally almost quite twice at certain terrible parts of the book. I don’t care that she was an adult when the really bad stuff happened – I felt like the author specifically made her 18 for that scene so that I wouldn’t cringe. At that point I started to think how convenient it was that she was 18, rather than what was happening to the character. I also disliked right near the end, when she eventually faces Jimmy. I actually was disappointed with that entire part of the book – felt it was unnecessary and went too far.

Rating

4.5 Stars (rounded down)

Amazing characters, gritty realism, and nail biting suspense. The underage aspect of the main character was just too much for me when this was supposed to be a ‘romantic suspense.’ Would totally read another of the author’s book!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

Lover in Hell: A Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal Romance by Dia Cole

Summary:

Ever since the Z-virus wiped out humanity, Eden spends her days rescuing animals from the undead and her nights avoiding Mike—the sexy alpha male soldier who wants to claim her for his own. He’s too intense, dominating, and overprotective—everything Eden doesn’t want in a man. Even worse, his smoldering gaze weakens her resolve to swear off men forever. But when a routine supply run goes horribly wrong, the unthinkable happens—Eden becomes infected. Now, trapped for the night with Mike, and with only twenty-four hours left to live, Eden must decide if she wants to die a virgin or experience mind-blowing passion in the arms of a man who would follow her to hell.

Overall:

This is a short story but the plot felt all romance. There are times I almost wanted to roll my eyes, but never quite did – this book walks that line. Eden is almost silly in her love of animals but actually in makes sense. In desperate times, it could see someone wanting to hold onto their humanity when the world goes to Hell. Mike was very much a strong male who wanted to continually protect Eden.

The writing style is interesting and very easy to read. I actually really enjoyed the author’s writing style. The zombies are creepy and the author does a great job weaving them in as a subplot. This book did leave me wanting…but almost too much. It just sort of ends abruptly, which felt like – ‘okay the romance is done…story over.’ That being said there were lots of hints of other issues that could be explored in a sequel (I won’t name them, but there were at least three that I found).

Rating

4 Stars

Easy to read in one sitting with action and steamy scenes…I only wish it hadn’t ended so abruptly.

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review. **As a complete side note…I don’t really like the cover…**

Hart of His (Cale & Mickey #2) by Annie Arcane

Summary

Moving in with Mickey Hart has taught me a few lessons.

523 square feet is really f*cking small. Sharing a bathroom is the worst idea ever when you’re a damn paraplegic. Never lie, no matter what. And one more thing…

I’m madly in love with this girl.

Warning: Strong language, mature content, drama, and angst included. Shirt sold separately.

This novella is an adult contemporary romance featuring a disabled hero who (still) happens to be a rich and sexy alpha male with a potty mouth.

Cale and Mickey: Book 2 of 4

Characters

It has been a while since I read the first book and it was nice to see Mickey and Cale again. They are very awesome flawed characters. Stubborn but sweet. Stupid but witty. Even with a second book, the characters stayed true to what I remembered about them and it was like meeting up with old friends and having them tell me what has been going on lately. I was also happy to see Cale’s brother has a few snippets in there too! Gotta love those sibling quibbles.

Plot

After the events of book 1, Cale and Mickey have moved in together. Life goes on but not without some bumps. That is what this book is all about: Bumps. Cale is still a butt-head and Mickey is still nearly unflappable. This is really about Cale coming to terms with what he wants for him and Mickey. He wants things a very specific way but Mickey isn’t going to just let him have his way – because, as previously stated, he is a butt-head.

Overall

The plot was a little jerky. I didn’t always follow what was happening from one chapter to another. At one point I was so confused that I went back and had to reread the end and the beginning – and I still wasn’t sure. Despite a few head scratches, the characters were wonderfully written. I found myself chuckling more than once. One of the many reasons why I finishing reading this is in just two days – most could probably do it in one.

Rating

4 Stars

This is a solid 4 stars. If you read the first book –  you will certainly enjoy the second one. If you haven’t read the first one but like the idea of this novella – go back – the first book was great!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Loved by a Killer by C.F. Rabbiosi

Summary

Raina loved performing upon the London stage, but one night she found herself dancing for only HIM. She froze, and looked to the balcony where the gaslights flickered dimly over his shadowy form. If only she had known that this beautiful monster would soon rip her away from everything in the world SHE EVER LOVED, perhaps she wouldn’t have lingered so long.

Lord Marcus Loxley loved being a blood thirsty predator, but one night his gallivanting brought him to his knees in front of HER. If only he had known what would happen when she danced, that she would remind him of someone who was everything in the world HE EVER LOVED, perhaps he would have turned away.

As he drags her deeper and deeper into his depraved world of torture and violence, she begins fighting her own darkness that threatens to consume her everyday. And oh, how it begs to be released. And though she knows it’s wrong, she desires her captor anyway.

Until she begins falling for someone else…

Meanwhile, prostitutes are being butchered in the streets and she begins to fear: Is her dark lover, the one she is bound to, The Ripper?

With an accurate account of the creepy, gaslit times of London and real Jack the Ripper crime scenes, LOVED BY A KILLER is an exciting read from start to finish. Warning: Hot sexual content and graphic gore. Language.

Characters

There are really two main characters: Raina and Marcus. Marcus is exactly what he is, without remorse, though he does try to change. He is a very depraved individual but that is somewhat to be expected from a very old vampire. I appreciated the complexity of the characters. Raina at times felt like a leaf on the wind. Being pulled this way and that until closer to the end where she takes a stab at making her own happiness.

There were lots of other POVs throughout the book, which was very confusing sometimes because they just changed suddenly. It was very confusing at times because I’d think I was following one character but then suddenly it is another character’s POV. The worse was between Marcus and Raina.

Plot

This book is filled with fascinating plot lines. The big problem was there were too many of them – which I normally like but not all of them felt necessary in this instance. They might be necessary later in the series but some of them wrapped up and kind of felt like they didn’t fit the rest of the story. That being said there were some awesomely described macabre scenes that were super epic. There is the main plot of Marcus wanting to possess Raina, Jack the Ripper, and all of his past coming back to haunt him.

Furthermore there were historical inaccuracies and verbiage that took me out of the era of the book. A ripe example is near the end she takes off her dress by using a zipper. Problem is the zipper wasn’t used widely in clothes until after the 1900s, but Jack the Ripper terrorized London in 1888.

Overall

I wasn’t sure if I liked this book. I really liked Raina and I was sucked in at the beginning but my interest quickly waned. This was partially because I found myself disliking both Marcus and Raina (although I warmed up to her closer to the end but never fully liked her again). I also felt some of the gore and scenes were unnecessary – like repeatedly making a point that was well done the first time. In the end the middle part of the book felt long. However, the sudden and unexpected change at the end was very rewarding.

Rating

3 Stars

Loved the beginning and loved the ending, but struggled through the middle. This book has a lot to offer, but needs some work and is not for the faint of heart. This is dark, but entertaining.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rise by Jayelle Morgan

Summary

He gave her a night she would never forget…And a child too.

A year ago, Emory met the handsome, mysterious Ajax and threw her good-girl nature aside for one night of passion. She was fine accepting the consequences for her actions, and loves her son more than life itself. She never thought she’d see Ajax again, but now she desperately needs to find him. There’s something wrong with their baby…

She’s the only woman who’s ever taken his breath away.

Ajax never forgot Emory after their one night of passion. But he couldn’t keep her, because she is perfectly, completely human. And he’s not. But when she walks back into his life, it’s for the last reason he expects. Emory says the baby is his, but there’s just one problem: He’s sterile. All elite Elemental Warriors are. Which means she’s playing some kind of dangerous game, and he needs to know what it is.

When Chaos rears its ugly head, he’ll have to choose between protecting his new family and protecting his secret. One choice will take away everything that is important to him as a Warrior. The other could take away everything that is important to him as a man. Can Emory find something meaningful with the extraordinary father of her child? Or will he sacrifice them in his mission to save the world?

Characters

Ajax is a jerk. A likable jerk, but a smug womanizer. He is intolerable…until Emory. Emory is a no-nonsense kind of person. She doesn’t do one night stands: Except once. With Ajax. They are disgustingly cute together. Emory is a little wishy washy at times about what she wants but the woman it tough! I love their family dynamic with Jackson, their baby, is adorable.

I was happy to see Levi and Brooke back. Plus Walker and Micah. All great supporting characters. I was surprised that Emory didn’t have some sort of friend to give me some perspective on her though.

Plot

Much like the last book there is a threat from Chaos. They want Jackson because he is a very powerful Erratic. Furthermore he is very out of control, making mini cyclones every time he gets upset. No wonder Emory was half out of her mind with worry about her very special baby!

Ajax realizes what could happen if his commander finds out. Walker would have to take him back, which means no more playing family with Emory and Jackson. So now he is torn between protecting his family and losing them when he is forced to return home. Will he be able to keep them safe or will he decide to sacrifice himself?

Overall

Great writing. There were some errors but most of them were minor and easily overlooked, but some of the flow was off. Also it was a little repetitive at times, mostly Emory’s lamenting and trying to deny her lust, but overall still very enjoyable. The paranormal world and its sexy elementals were as flawless and wonderful as last time. The romance was great and the steamy scenes undeniably sexy. This author always delivers those!

My biggest rub was the ending was anti-climatic. There was all this build up and then it was just over. I felt as though the author took the easy way out. I don’t want to give anything away but after the threat to Emory, it sort of just winds down. The big threat just seemed to be overcome easily.

Rating

4.5 Stars (rounded down)

Fantastic read! If you love paranormal romances this is a must read. A fantastic follow up to Burn!

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

At First Light (Mount Kiernon #1) by Suzanne Paschke

***This book does not stand alone***

Summary

Having escaped the clutches of her abusive and controlling husband Cheryl Prescott flees the city she grew up in to live a new life under a false name. Years later when her car breaks down in the small town of Mount Kiernon, Cheryl – who is now better known as Sarah Walker – is forced to spend the night waiting for it to be repaired.

Discovering a town that is hurting as much as she is, Sarah decides to settle down and call the town her new home, opening a cafe along with her heart to the people of Mount Kiernon. As relationships with her customers grow, so do the feelings she has for the local mechanic, Jamie.

Will Sarah open her heart to let Jamie in, or will the new life she has built on lies crumble when her past threatens to return?

Characters

Sarah is a super strong, but damaged character. She is very emotional but is completely understandable. The author does a great job bringing back her to her struggles over and over again. Her internal struggles make her previous life seem real – so when Jamie comes along it makes sense that she isn’t ready. Jamie is such a heart throb! Love him. There was a bit of an issue with POV switching between Jamie and Sarah – sometimes in the middle of a chapter with no clear break. It was very confusing sometimes.

The supporting characters very much feel like a small town. I’ve visited a few small towns and they aren’t always as friendly but they are very similar to what the author portrayed. I really liked Jamie’s friends but some of the dialogue was a little too similar between characters.

Plot

I felt like the plot just went on and on. After a while it was a little repetitive and I couldn’t always understand why some parts of the story were told, while others were just skimmed over. I don’t know if all of the chapters actually advanced the plot, which made it difficult to hold my attention the entire time. The worse part was I expected some sort of resolution at the end for how long the book was and how much redundancy was built in – all to build the character up – but there wasn’t. This book cannot stand alone.

Overall

The writing could be fleshed out a bit, particularly the POV switches mid-chapter, but overall was enjoyable. The author did an excellent job with the main characters, and some of the secondary characters, but the dialogue could use some tweaking.  The plot could use some condensing – particularly pieces that didn’t advance the plot or were repetitive. Honestly I don’t know why this was split into two books…if it was for the cliffhanger at the end that is absolutely not necessary and is one of the biggest reason this book is getting the below rating.

The author brought a high level of emotion to this book. I was choked up more than once! I really rooted for Jamie and Sarah to work. This is for sure an unpolished gem that would really shine with some clean up. It was very sweet. I’d hope the second book gets more into Sarah’s strength and not so much her broken side. I’ll admit that sometimes Sarah’s actions really pissed me off but the author did a great job of having Sarah correct it quickly enough that she was quickly redeemed in my eyes every time – which is not easy to do so I applaud the author!

Rating

3 stars

This book has so much potential and excellent character development but needs to clean up. I also don’t think this should be two books based on the excess content of this book. That being said I absolutely love Jamie and Sarah and hope they get their happily ever after!

I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.