Lying with Lions by Annabel Fielding

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Edwardian England. Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit – and into the clutch of their ambitions.

They are prepared to take the new century head-on and fight for their preeminent position and political survival tooth and nail – and not just to the first blood. With a mix of loyalty, competence, and well-judged silence Agnes rises to the position of a right-hand woman to the family matriarch – the cunning and glamorous Lady Helen. But Lady Helen’s plans to hold on to power through her son are as bold as they are cynical, and one day Agnes is going to face an impossible choice.

The Review

For anyone who reads my reviews, you know I love historical fiction. Throw in a little gothic intrigue? *chef’s kiss* I live for lush, descriptive, elegantly flowing storylines. It’s easy to get lost in the world and emotions of the characters.

While Lying with Lions had those elements, I found myself losing track of what the story’s purpose was. There were moments I got so invested in the new direction the story was going, and then a new chapter would pull me in a completely different direction.

What I liked (and kind of disliked) was the span of time the story occurred over. It was YEARS that zipped by. We did get to see the evolution of Agnes and her position in the Bryant family. I liked seeing her grow into someone bold and someone who could stand on her own with authority. Her intelligence is what drew me in further.

Lady Bryant, there had always been an element of mistrust. Slowly it unfolded in her political aspirations and how far she would go to ensure her wants were put first. That goes hand in hand with how she treated Agnes. Their relationship wasn’t as balanced as Agnes saw it as.

The romance aspect of this was mostly fade to black. I’d give it a one out of five on the spice scale.

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Hidden Powers – Tara Lain – DNF

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No Stars – DNF

Summary

Superordinary Society: Book One

Jazz Vanessen is weird—and not just because he’s a werewolf. For most of his life, he’s felt different from his alpha male brothers and friends. Since he’s adopted, he can’t even blame it on family.

Now eighteen, Jazz meets his idol, the social activist Lysandra Mason, and her breathtaking nephew, Dash Mercury. When Dash is around, even stranger things start to happen, including Jazz falling hopelessly in lust. Not only is Jazz having visions, making people disappear, and somehow turning invisible, but somebody’s following him and threatening to reveal his pack’s secrets to the world.

Together with Dash and Jazz’s equally amazing friends—Carla, BeBop, Khadija, and Fatima—they discover the danger is even more lethal than they thought, and Jazz’s weirdness may save all their lives.
 

Review

            I wanted to like this book. I did. LGBTQ+, YA, werewolves, and intrigue, are all excellent ingredients to an adventure I want to go on.

            My main issue is no knowing anything about the characters. If you hadn’t read any of the author’s other books, you’re going to be as lost as I was. As this was the ‘first’ in a new series, I didn’t think I’d be scrambling to figure out who all these people were. It’s a very established world and if you didn’t know that, you’d get frustrated like I did.

            I also had an issue with the language used. I’m not old by any means, I’m 30, and I read YA regularly across many genres. It was off putting to me. Not even in TV shows, do writers use that much ‘teen’ language.

            Will I be reading the next in the series? No. It just disappointed me entirely.

Give it a try if you’ve read previous books by this author, you may enjoy it.

Hooked on You by K.Evans Coles

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3.5 out of 5 Stars

Summary

What’s a straight guy to do when he falls for his new friend?

Paramedic Connor Devlin is a stressed-out tower of a man. Hoping knitting will help him unwind, he visits a local craft shop, where he’s overwhelmed by the yarn selection but more so by his feelings for shop owner Judah.

Judah Bissel is tired of falling for unavailable men. He can’t help his crush on Connor, though, or wanting to get closer to the big, gentle bear. And that just might spell trouble because pining for straight guys is not Judah’s style.

As a blizzard pummels the city, the men hunker down together to wait out the storm. When the spark between them ignites, will the revelation that Connor feels more than friendship for Judah bring them together or tear them apart?

 

Review

Hooked on You was a cute, quick, friends to lovers romance.

Connor Devlin needs something to help him manage his anxiety, and knitting is his answer. His first visit to a yarn shop may have been intimidating, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on his first project. With the help of the shop owner, Judah, he able to take on his project and solidifies a friendship with the man.

What Connor never expected, was the intense, romantic feelings he had towards Judah. He had never had feelings like this for another man.

Connor and Judah fit together so well. Where Connor was muscled and bulky, I pictured Judah as lithe but a strong man. He was also very caring when it came to Connor. Which was sweet.

Their kisses were toe curling and intense, but a lot of the spicy scenes were fade to black. I didn’t mind that, because it fit their relationship and the vibe of the book.

Everything was solved a little too easily and the ending was abrupt. There were two extra scenes added to wrap Judah and Connor’s story up but I’m not a fan of those snap forward in time scenes. But you may fall in love with Connor and Judah!

 

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Uncharted by Alli Temple

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

In a world of arrogant nobles and their punishing laws, Georgina will be hanged if anyone discovers she is a spy. But when the wicked prince proposes marriage, Georgina must accept. Refusing would expose the secrets she has delivered to a hidden resistance and forfeit her life. With her wedding day looming ever closer, salvation comes from an unlikely source.

Pirate Captain Cinder is a terror on the open sea, striking fear into hearts wherever she sails. Now she has a new target. The vulnerable Princess Georgina should be an easy mark in Cinder’s kidnapping plot. But the legend of Captain Cinder is more intertwined with Georgina’s own history than either of them expect.

Treacherous storms. A mysterious pirate king. The prince’s unrelenting pursuit. Georgina and Cinder can only escape by following the uncharted course of their hearts. But just as a future together is within their grasp, Cinder’s past threatens to drag them both to the deep.

Review

Georgina, “George” is doing her part in resisting the rule of kingdom. She sneaks messages in the skirts of her dress. It isn’t much, but she’s trying her best to help. Never would she have expected to be married off to the King by her brother. It’s a whirlwind of having new clothes made, jewelry, learning how to be a royal, and a handmaid named Rosie, Georgina thinks she’s lost any chance of having the life she wishes for.

Pirate Captain Cinder’s tales are what parents use to scare their children into acting right. Redheaded and willing to do whatever it takes to man her ship and find her riches.

In an explosion, Georgina is swept from the kingdom and onto a pirate ship. Rosie, devoted to Georgina, sneaks onto the ship. It all comes to a screaming stop when Georgina recognizes Captain Cinder and then finds out all she heard of Captain Cinder may not have been true.

What did I love about this book? Everything!!

Royalty, pirates, and an epic race to keep George out of the king’s hands kept me reading page after page. Cinder was everything a pirate should be. She was hard, powerful, and smart. Everyone on her ship served a purpose. The details of certain jobs on the ship and why they were done, like scouring the deck daily, my inner historian did a happy dance. I felt like I was there on the ship with Cinder and George.

The cast of characters were extremely diverse (which I expect on a pirate ship in my mind). There are lesbian pirates, non-binary pirates, and an island they visit is full of LGBTQ+ residents. Maro, Rosie, and Ender were so much fun. For such a big guy, Ender sure was gentle and kind to Rosie. Maro was a hard first mate, but they were kind to George and Rosie.

Rosie was such a spitfire. She is exactly who you want to be by your side. George got in trouble and she was right there with her. George needed to scheme. Rosie was scheming with her. They were quite the pair and I enjoyed every scene with the two of them.

The chemistry between George and Cinder had and ebb and flow that just felt right. The small jealousy moments and all the times they tried to stay away from each other just made their romance sweeter.

If you are a fan of a fast paced adventure, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of this one.

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Party Favors by Erin Mclellan

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Three…

Amanda Ellis knows three things: she’s tired of doing what’s expected of her, she hates her job at her family’s business, and the last thing she wants to do is attend her parents’ boring New Year’s Eve ball with a date her mother picked. A few days of fun with her online best friend is exactly what she needs to ring in the New Year on her own terms.

Two…

Wren Rebello is impulsive and always ready for fun. A last-minute girls’ getaway sounds like the perfect way to spend New Year’s. But even Wren isn’t prepared for the spark of attraction she feels when she meets Amanda in person for the first time. Good thing Wren loves popping Amanda’s cork.

One…

After days spent sharing end-of-year resolutions and the one bed in their cottage, the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops on their time together. As Amanda and Wren go their separate ways, they leave new resolutions unfulfilled. Is there enough New Year’s magic left to turn their online friendship into real-life love?

Review

Amanda Ellis, heir to a disco ball empire, if finally meeting one of her best friends, Wren Rebello, in person. Amanda has always done what her parents expected of her. Date this person, do this job, and act this way. For the first time she is able to be herself with Wren.

As they spend the New Years together, Amanda finds herself inexplicably attracted to everything about Wren. They were a little awkward at first, and it took talking via text to break the ice between them, but once that ice broke? *fans self* … ya’ll .. they were scorching together. A large portion of this book focuses on their sexual relationship and exploration of that relationship. It made my heart beat quickly and my cheeks flush red. These two women together were intense!

Mixed in with all of the sex, was a relationship that grew leaps and bounds. Wren encouraged Amanda to be herself and to leave the disco ball heir title behind her. Amanda had a whole life outside of her family that she wanted, but she never had the courage to pursue it until she had friends who saw her vision and pushed her to follow her dreams.

This was a great New Years themed read that had quite a bit of spice!

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Jeremiah by Jayce Ellis

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Jeremiah Stewart’s sexuality is no one’s business. Not that he’s hiding it. When—if—he finds the right one, he’ll absolutely introduce him to Mom. But a late-night brush with a sexy stranger in too much lip gloss has him rethinking nearly everything…

To Collin Galloway, direction is a four-letter word. Sure, he hates his job, he hates living with his parents and he really hates watching everyone move on without him. But he doesn’t know what he wants to do, long-term, and he won’t figure it out by thirsting over Jeremiah, the superhot, superintense paramedic who is suddenly everywhere Collin looks.

When Jeremiah’s faced with losing all he’s worked so hard to build, he reluctantly accepts Collin’s help. They’re both determined to stay professional…which works about as well as either would imagine. But Collin only does closets with clothes, and Jeremiah has to decide if he’s finally found the one worth bringing home to Mom.

Review

I loved a previous book by Jayce Ellis and I fully expected that I would love this one as well. Jeremiah was a good read, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a memorable read for me.

Jeremiah, a paramedic and still slightly closeted, is figuring life out. He’s facing a potential lay off and finding a new job, but in the process, he stumbles across Collin Galloway in the elevator in his apartment complex. As repayment for helping Collin get his friends home safely, Jeremiah gets help brushing up is resume.

Their attraction between them is clear. It burns steadily and grows the more they get to know each other. What I liked was their stay-cation. I feel like we got to know more about them while they explored DC and explored each other *wink* in the hotel room.

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Demons Do It Better by Louisa Masters

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

I work for Lucifer. Only, it’s not as cool and satanic as it sounds.

The truth is, I’m an admin assistant who applied for a job that sounded kind of interesting and ended up working for the Community of Species Government. I’m the only human in the office, and basically I ride herd on a team of rambunctious shifters and demons.

I also spend a lot of time avoiding Gideon Bailey, the demon I had a one-night stand with right before I took this job. He hates me, and I really want to avoid being murdered. But I’ve been offered a promotion that will mean working with him, so we’re both going to have to get over it.

Plus, people are going missing. Pregnant people. And the word is that someone is dabbling in genetic experimentation. Putting a stop to that is more important than the sexual tension Gideon and I have been ignoring… isn’t it?

Review

Why didn’t I read this book sooner?! This was such a fun read.

Sam, a human, unknowingly applies for a job with the Community of Species Government which is very much not human. It turns out to be one of the best decisions he’s made though. He’s found a family with the group he works with and he enjoys his work again. Turns out, the guy he hooked up with a couple nights ago? Well they now work at the same agency and he’s a lot grumpier at work then he was in the bedroom.

What did I love about this book? Sam’s personality. He might be a short fella, but he is larger than life. He’s sarcastic, witty, and the kind of person I would love to be friends within real life. He keeps you grounded and makes sure you don’t get too big of a head lol.

Then the shift in Sam’s character. I don’t want to give too much away, but I loved this twist and then the resulting events afterwards. Gideon, a demon who is hot as hell, finally melts just a bit towards Sam.

This book is definitely here to establish the bigger storyline. Pregnant people going missing, genetic experimentation involving both humans and members of the community. The case hits close to home, once Sam learns more about where he came from, and it pushes them to work harder to find out how save these people.

What I wish there was more of? A little more resolution. I felt like the story had just got started and then it was over.

Give this book a try. I’ve already scooped up the second in the series because I need more of these characters in my life!

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Hunting Astrid by Thea Landen

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Astrid Carlisle enjoys her job at Satera Industries, the massive interplanetary organization whose enigmatic leader is concerned with profits first and legalities second. Stationed at company headquarters, she can stay out of harm’s way while making good use of her programming skills and keen eye for talent acquisition. Unfortunately, both the busy nature of her work and her office’s remote location leave her feeling dissatisfied with her personal life.

Fresh out of the Central United Space Marines, Tabitha Knox is ready for change, hoping the next stage in her career can take place in the private sector. Employment with Satera Industries would offer her the exciting, fast-paced work she craves, with generous financial compensation to match. All she has to do is get through the rigorous screening process and prove her worth.

The two women meet during the early stages of Tabitha’s application, and their mutual attraction is instant. However, Astrid has been hurt in the past and is cautious about moving too quickly, leading her to devise a plan. She suggests the pair enter the simulations used to test applicants and fight their way through the various environments. If Tabitha can successfully track her down in each phase, she’ll win the ultimate prize: a lucrative job, plus Astrid’s trust and submission. Everything she wants is within reach, but will she be able to achieve her dreams while hunting Astrid?

Hunting Astrid is a futuristic sci fi slow-burn FF romance from the talented author Thea Landen.

Review

This is a super-quick, satisfying science-fiction read. My only complaint? I needed more!

We’re thrust right into the action of Astrid’s job at Satera Industries as we follow candidates as they work their way through a virtual reality that Astrid helped create and rank the candidates. One catches her eye, even without knowing what they look like. Red is skilled, cautious, but has the potential to be a leader.

If all that wasn’t attractive enough, once Astrid learns who Red is after a training exercise, and seeing her on the subway on their way home, Astrid is physically attracted to Tabitha. No matter how intense Astrid’s initial feelings for Tabitha, she’s still scared because of past relationships.

Oh my goodness, I felt Astrid’s conflicting feelings in my soul. She wanted to become close to Tabitha, but she was terrified of getting hurt again. Eventually, they find a way to get closer, hunting missions through virtual reality. The prize? Tabitha would get Astrid anyway she wanted her.

Landen had a way of putting you in each of the virtual realities these characters found themselves in. I enjoyed being put right into the tropic rain forest, in a city under attack. It was rich and seamless. This is what you want in a science-fiction story, no matter how short, it was a well-developed world that I wouldn’t mind visiting again.

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Royals by J.V. Speyer

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3.5 Stars out of 5

Summary

Two uncles from vastly different worlds. One orphaned child. Will a conspiracy that bridges an ocean somehow build a family, or will state secrets keep Eric and Dan apart forever?

Eric is a genius. He’s a professor of environmental studies at an Ivy League university, an inventor, and one of the most respected scientists in his field. He doesn’t think about his birth family much, and the feeling is mutual – or he thinks it is, until a call from a local hospital throws his carefully ordered world into chaos.

Dan has seen and done a lot in his time as an Army Ranger. Thrown into civilian life by an injury, he’s happy to work for Five Star Security doing what he does best – until he gets a call from his hometown with devastating news.

His beloved older brother, Chris, has been killed in a car accident, along with his bride, Selene. Custody of their amazing four-year-old daughter has been left not to Dan, with whom all three were close, but to Selene’s younger half-brother, Eric – a man Dan has never met and who didn’t bother showing up for the wedding.

Review

 

            This was a fast, escapist type of read. Think old school Harlequin vibes. Some of the details didn’t quite make sense, but I’m a sucker for secret royalty so it didn’t bother me all that much.

            Eric, a law professor at an Ivy League school and estranged from his family, has his world shook up when he’s informed his sister and her husband were killed in a car accident and he is the chosen guardian of a niece he didn’t know he even had. Eric also has a secret he’s kept from the people in his life in Boston. He’s a prince, who fled his country after scandal in his youth.

            Dan, who was active Ada’s life and a bodyguard, doesn’t understand why out of all people to leave Ada with Eric was chosen. He hates Eric on sight for the fact that he has the capability of taking Ada away from Dan. Also, why with Selene’s family? He knew that her family was horrible. That’s why she moved so far away from home.

            Eric was too much of a nice guy at times and it bordered on fake. Dan was a bit too angry in the beginning and then a quick snap of the fingers and he was attracted to Eric. Andreas and his aide, there were a little over the top.

            However, I liked the way Eric and Dan worked together to take care of Ada. They focused on her safety and happiness. I liked the forethought Eric had when he fled from Corvia and started his own life in the US. He was strategic and found a way to live his best life. Eric did his best to be better than the royal family and he was. This is why I could see Dan being attracted to Eric. He got to see who Eric truly was outside of his family.

            If you are a fan of dialogue, like me, you’ll enjoy reading this. There was a lot of talk between characters, but it was easy to follow and pushed the plot along at an even pace.

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Gingerbread Mistletoe by Amy Aislin

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

The last thing Jeff wants is to spend time with the man who totaled his car—the one he spent years restoring with his late father. But if he wants to resurrect his childhood town’s annual outdoor hockey tournament, he’s got no choice.

The last thing Mika wants is to work with the guy who took off right after the accident, without ensuring he was okay. And working together on organizing Jeff’s proposed tournament sounds like a complete nightmare. He’s got enough on his plate after surviving cancer.

Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together, but is that enough for them to set their differences aside and pull off the tournament in only two weeks? Or will they prove to be immune to the magic of Christmas?

Review

Gingerbread Mistletoe is the second installment in Amy Aislin’s Lighthouse Bay Christmas series. Jeff’s is aimless over the holidays and finds himself back in his hometown of Lighthouse Bay. He didn’t think he’d run into the actor who he had gotten into a wreck with in Los Angeles, Mika. Mika is in Lighthouse Bay, recuperating from illness, but is fully immersed in the inner workings of the town. He’s the heartbeat behind the holiday market and Jeff needs his approval to start the hockey tournament he remembered from his childhood back up.  

            I’m a sucker for holiday themed romances. It was fun to revisit Lighthouse Bay and catch up with the characters from book one and to see Mika’s redemption story. I had such a dislike of him in the first book, I was surprised that he quickly became one of my favorites. He was charming, sweet, and kind to everyone he crossed paths with, even when he was beyond busy with making sure the market ran smoothly.

            Jeff, I felt his character in my bones. It’s hard to know what to do with yourself when you go from busy beyond belief to endless time on your hands. I liked seeing him give back to his community and the enjoyment he got out of it. He may have been a businessman, but he was giving. The way he wooed Mika, oh it was adorable. I knew what he was doing with the first inflatable Christmas yard decoration he sat out in Mika’s parents’ yard. He kept at it, even after he got his man.

            I had fun getting lost in Lighthouse Bay and in the joy that the holidays bring.

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