Wildcard: Volume Three – Missy Johnson

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Author: Missy Johnson
Series: Wildcard #3
Pages: 110

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She’s hiding something from me and I need to know what it is.
I’ve done so many things I never thought I’d do for this woman and it kills me that she’s lying to me.
How can I make her see that she can trust me?
Do I want to know the truth?
Sometimes things are easier when they’re left unsaid…

With this third part of Wildcard I finish a saga I started a long time ago. This is part of my let’s-finish-them resolution. Already December and this is the first one I have finished… about 50 more to go. Obviously, the resolution will still be active in the following years (and possibly in other lifes, if you believe in such things).

The second part ended with Scarlett hiring a hitman to take out her ex-boyfriend and with Ryder paying to the later a lot of money to leave Scarlett and Jake alone. There are too many secrets boling and, to put the cherry on top, Jake is again very sick…

Finally, the big bad secret of Scarlett is out in the world to be properly dissected. And yes, it was as bad as the author makes us believe during the previous books. It’s a crime she comitted willingly in order to get rid of Tony, her ex-boyfriend. It ended badly: rape. That is why she is so scared of letting Tony tell anyone. Scarlett doesn’t want to give Fate the chance to pull her apart from Jake. Hiring a hitman is a bit extreme, but the love of a mother is boundless…

Buuut, for some reason I still don’t understand, the author ignores the hitman bluntly. I mean, he is mentioned now and then, but he never fulfills his mission. I know some lowlifes beat him to it, but… shouldn’t he return the money? Or at least say something? I have no idea if he had any intention of doing it. Was he a conman? If that is the case… was Scarlett’s friend on it? I know it’s stupid, but I feel there is a whole book out there that for some reason wasn’t told.

Apart from that, I must repeat myself in my adoration towards Ryder. I feel so comfortable reading his point of view. He is such a nice guy with a cocky sense of humor that adds many layers to the enjoyment of the book. Once again, his interactions with Callie are the best part. I’m going to miss this guy like crazy, although he has a couple of huge missteps: the breaking and entering into Scarlett’s house to sort through her things and impersonating her to exchange some messages with Scarlett’s friend. With any other guy, it would be the end of my love for him. With Ryder, even though I don’t like it a tiny bit, I know it comes from a good place. He is worried sick about her and he doesn’t have the experience to deal with such emotions. He was a colder than ice jerk and he barely knows what to do with the warm sensation in his chest… So, yeah, big mistakes are bound to happen. Good to know he is a really fast learner.

Missy could have skipped the usual ending of a Romance Book: the I-barely-know-you-but-here-you-have-an-engagement-ring ending. It made me cringe a little bit, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t as bad as in other books. I guess I can forgive Ryder even the most repetitive mistake of the Romance genre!!

According to the prmotions at then end, there is a book starred by Callie. Too bad it doesn’t say the title. I’ve lookng through Missy’s book, but I haven’t been able to find it. There is a fair chance of meeting Ryder in that one…

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2018 – Book Gallery

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Right Through Me – Shannon McKenna

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Author: Shannon McKenna
Series: The Obsidian Files #1
Pages: 382

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Biotech tycoon Noah Gallagher has a deadly secret: his clandestine training as a super-soldier gives him abilities that go far beyond human. Yet he’s very much a man. When Caro Bishop shows up at his Seattle headquarters with a dangerous secret agenda, his ordered life is thrown into chaos. Caro is a woman like no other—and her luminously sensual beauty cloaks a mystery he must solve.

Caro’s lying low, evading a false charge of murder. She means to clear her name, and she’ll do whatever it takes to survive—but seducing a man like Noah is more than she bargained for. His amber eyes have the strangest glow when he looks at her—she could swear he sees the secrets of her heart. The desire smoldering in Noah’s eyes awakens her own secret hunger, but Caro has to resist his magnetic pull. Anyone close to her becomes a target. The only right thing to do is run, far and fast, but Caro can’t outrun Noah’s ferocious intensity—or deny the searing passion that explodes between them.

Nothing else matters—until a vicious enemy bent on the ultimate revenge puts his murderous plan into play. Noah and Caro must battle for their lives…and their love…

Not so long ago I won an e-book copy of this book in a giveaway. I guess I would have never picked something like this otherwise. I’m not a big fan of books with cyborgs, because they tend to be a bunch of nonsense sex and little story. Luckily, this one is the exception. Due to life, it has taken me ages to finish it; but it’s a really nice book. Much better than expected.

We met Noah, an enhanced soldier that several years ago escaped from the crazy scientists that made him (and several others) a cyborg. His mods give him superior strength, stamina, greater healing factor, weird visual inputs and many other things. A killing machine. Caro is on the run from another cyborg (although she doesn’t know Marc is one), due to her knowledge of a password that would give the evil cyborg total control over other modifed soldiers. Obviously, Noah meets Caro and makes his mission to protect her.

The main story about the origin of the cyborgs is really nice, making the book a fun ride. The big baddies are not defeated in this book, so I guess we will know more about the evil scientists in future books. This one focuses more on the crazy Marc and his attempts to gather an army to proclaim himself king of the world. The few chapters where we geet to experience Marc’s part of the story are among my favourites of the book, even when the character is plain cruel (95% of the time). At first I thought the author wanted us to develop some kind of sympathy for him, but soon enough the opposite is stated. When he starts waking up sleepers, you can only hate the way Marc behaves…

The pace is fluid most of the book, but it hits a bump during the first “date” of Noah and Caro. There are several chapters in a row that eveyrthing that happens is just sex. Nice scenes, but a bit tiring after a while. The fight scenes are good, but with enhanced humans they are a bit messy, fast and the the right amount of crazy. There are some weird thing at the end of the book, when people with melted brains are able to shoot… but I will forgive those.

The romance goes downhill since the first sex encounters. Noah’s protection drive goes a bit far and tends to treat Caro as his possession. Extra points to Caro for using his hormones as weapon against Noah and stealing his car to get far from him. That was fun and it should have been humbling for the cyborg, but I guess the macho male needs much more than that. Caro loses all her points when she finally falls into his game. And the worst part is the end… After just a couple of days they get engaged. I hate that cliché. It’s TOO SOON!!! When are they going to learn that??

I will have to keep reading this saga. I need to know if Luke gets rescued or what. Besides, in this first book there are many nice characters that I bet will have their own books sooner or later. It has been a really nice first step, even though there are some parts that unnerve me.

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2018 – Book Gallery

At Attention – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #2

Pages: 304

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Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

The first book of this saga, Off Base, was one of the first books I reviewed here and I LOVED it! I know is hard to equal or exceed what that first Out of Uniform story meant for me emotionally, so I’m not going to be too harsh with the second book. It doesn’t deserve any kind of venom. The second part is stil very good and I can’t wait to keep reading the series. Well, I will wait… I don’t like getting an overdose with sagas.

This time we meet Apollo, a 34 years old widow with two little girls and a huge house to take care. And we meet Dylan, the twenty something years old and younger brother of Apollo’s best friend. Both of them are openly gay, so we are not in the same Zack and Pike situation. It’s a trickier one, though. Apollo’s mother is about to travel abroad for several weeks and he needs help with the kids and the house. And Dylan needs a place to stay near his new job as summer camp teacher. So Dustin, Dylan’s brother, thinks the best idea is that his brother should live in Apollo’s house; so he can help the Lieutenant. The catch: Apollo’s is still mourning his husband and think his love and sexual life is over. And Dylan has had a long standing crush for his brother’s best friend that needs to take out of his system.

There is a lot of fun flirting coming from Dylan that makes Apollo uncomfortable, at least at first. Sooner rather than later he starts craving his new roommate. It’s a bit sad to see how he struggles with those moments. Somehow Apollo thinks he is being dishonest with Neal, his dead husband. The age difference doesn’t help at all and it’s the hot potato thrown in every single chapter. Maybe the author insists too much about that. It even seems that Dylan only wants to con Apollo into a relationship so that he can feel like a big man. I know that is not what Annabeth wanted to tell us, but sometimes that is what I get… And the soldier is a bit stubborn about that difference, too… It’s not such a big gap!! Stop looking at you as a 60-years-old man!!

That issue is so big during the whole book that I don’t truly believe the happy ending. Maybe that is because the author takes a huge leap with the last chapter. The proposal is totally anticlimatic and waaaaaay too soon. Those two need to talk a lot more before commiting to something like that. That end is the worst part of the book.

One of my favourite parts is the way Apollo finally deals with Neal’s death. There were moments along the book were Annabeth almost makes the mistake to convert Neal in some kind of villain, but thankfully she doesn’t go there full force. That would be sad and wrong. Apollo can fall in love with a new person and still love his former husband… It’s  human. We are capable of loving un unlimited amount of people. The way Apollo accepts that, talking with Neal aloud and expressing his feelings… Hands down, that is the best part of the book!!

I’m also have to point out that the sex scenes are really good. When Apollo discovers the power of a mirror… That was a hot read!!

The author also uses this book to introduce the next one: Ben & Maddox. I have the feeling their book is going to be a fun one!! Or maybe I’m totally wrong. I’ll read it sooner or later. This year if everything goes according to plan.

 

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2018 – Book Gallery

Guardian’s Bond – Rhenna Morgan

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Author: Rhenna Morgan
Series: Ancient Ink #1
Pages: 393

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For decades, he’s been alone.
Now, she’s here. His fated mate.
His to win. To protect.
To provide for and pleasure.

Priest Rahandras has lived with the darkness trapped inside himself for years. Betrayed by his own brother and forced to watch his clan’s brutal annihilation, the only thing Priest wants more than to escape the curse that haunts him—as both man and beast—is to rebuild.

Until the mate he’s longed for walks into his life with an elder from his past. She’s everything he’s wished for, and the key to the clan’s very survival.

Kateri Falsen is a woman of logic and facts. While Priest’s cat can sense her arousal, telling her they’re fated won’t be enough. He’ll have to show her his love: with his words, with his actions, and with his body.

Protecting Kateri from the evil trapped inside him is paramount. But when lost clan members are systematically murdered, he’ll have to choose between exposing his mate to his black magic, or risking her as the next victim.

My first Romance book was a paranormal one. The Paranormal Romance subgenre will always have a special place in my shelves, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to like anything that is out there. This book is the perfect example of things I do not like. I actually feel a bit robbed after finishing it… Truth be told, I’m not a fan of shifters. They are usually the kind of alpha I dislike… and Priest, the main character of this book, is the poster boy of that :(. But I can always be surprised, so I picked it to see how right or wrong I was.

This book is about the lonely Priest, the fierce alpha and high priest of a clan of shifters. Alone until he meets Kateri, his fated mate. Yes, this book doesn’t ignore the classic ultimate love by fate. Actually, the book is only about that… There are mentions of a plot about finding the clan primos, that are being killed one by one by Priest’s evil brother; but nothing major in the book. Like 5 pages or so… Yes, I know… the blurb makes you think that part is going to be a big chunk of the book. But not at all. Very, VERY disappointing.

I could have forgiven that fact if the romance part would have been better. Or good. Or decent. But it’s pretty boring and made me uneasy now and then. The book didn’t took the right path from the very beginning. As soon as Priest meets Kateri, he grabbed her and tried to kiss her. No “Hello” or “Good morning” or “How are you?”… nothing polite. Pure possession. Being the shifter a total stranger, I can only applaud Alek (Kateri’s brother) for his behaviour. He removes his sister from the man without any concept of boundaries or any kind of respect towards Kateri. I thought that was the normal thing to do when facing something like that, but the author wants us to believe that Alek was a jerk and his actions were crazy… Really??? So annoying!!

But, of course, being Priest the hero he gets the lady pretty fast. Much faster than I would like. The so-called love between them is totally unrealistic and I’m haveing a very hard time believing it. I don’t believe it at all, actually. That is bad, but it’s not horrible. Horrible are some comments Priest does along the way. Moments before having sex with Kateri, they are discussing about using contraceptives. The shifters explains that their kind cannot get any disease (no problem with that), but his mate doesn’t want to get pregnant. In that moment Priest laughs and bluntly tells her that the decission of having offspring would be taken by him. A totally unilateral decission. What the F**K?? I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I couldn’t believe that Kateri didn’t say anything or tried to get away!! I know Rhenna wanted to create the ultimate dominant alpha, but she goes too far… The whole deal is so upsetting :(.

So, almost no story and the main characters are the worst. Not a good mixed… not at all. Too bad, because I think the author does something great with this book. Even more than great. I actually loved how she has reimagined all the lore of shifters adding a lot of magic. The soul quest. The animal companion being granted by a mystical being. That animal companion is not genetic, so a wolf and a tiger can have a hawk son. It’s wild. And I love it. The four houses (warrior, seer, healer and sorcerer) are also a nice touch. An amazing setting for a really crappy story.

I don’t know if I’m going to read the next book. I guess I will give this saga another chance if I have time. I just hope with all my heart that Tate is nowhere close to Priest. Otherwise, I’m afraid it was going to be the same annoying alpha all over again.

You’ve Got Fail – Celia Aaron

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Author: Celia Aaron
Pages: 332

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She’s driving me crazy. Or am I the one driving myself crazy? I can’t tell anymore. Ever since Scarlet Rocket showed up in the flesh, she’s turned my structured world upside down. My neatly ordered life, my hand-painted Aliens versus Vampires figurines, my expertly curated comics collection–none of these things provide any shelter from her sexy, sassy onslaught. It’s a disaster of my own making. She didn’t exist until I created her. Now, I can’t get her out of my mind, and all I want to do is get her into my bed. Never mind that she’s a thief, a liar, a con-woman. Every step she takes leaves chaos in her wake. And damn if I don’t want more of it.

Confession time!! I have a “thing” for cute/hot romance book covers. A “thing” that makes me purchase books without giving much thought about the blurb. But, being honest, in the Romance genre the couple of paragraphs from the back cover is useless more often than not. So, getting a book just for the frontpage eye candy is not as bad as it looks, isn’t it? Am I trying to convince the readers or myself?

This book had a cute shirtless guy smirking… I’m human, ok? In this case, the cover wasn’t the only sexy part of the book. The blurb was kind of interesting and different from any Romance book I have ever read. Willis is an antisocial nerd (his words, not mine) that writes a popular blog about relationships. He signs the blog as Scarlet Rocket, so the whole world thinks the author is a woman. But, one day a woman appears in a party telling everybody that she is Scarlet Rocket. Obviously, Willis is not too happy about that and run to intercept her.

This should be the recipe of a crazy fun book with lots and lots of banter between Willis and the con-woman. At least is what I was expecting, so I am a bit disappointed that it’s not really the case. The sense of humor of the author is not what I thought it would be. Let’s say is more phallic than witty. Once I have accepted that fact, I could adapt my mind to enjoy what she offers. The book is funny, I’ll give Celia that. My favourite parts of the book is when Jason is around and Willis behave like a fanboy. Those mentions of his inner nerd are priceless!!!

Reading the blurb I imagined a pretty fresh dynamic among Willis and fake Scarlet. I mean, usually in Romance books women are the mark and the men, the conmen; but this book is the opposite. So I was ready for some new interactions among the main characters that I have never read before. It’s not the case, though. As soon as they meet, the flow of the book mimics the one from any other mainstream Romance book. And that happens in the first chapter, so… Bummer!!

But what is really driving me crazy (in the bad sense) is that contradiction named Willis. He is an antisocial guy who somehow is a guru of sex. He is a hermit that somehow is a hunk. A very respectful guy who behaves like a caveman… Make up your mind!! I hate labels, but the author should have picked one instead of that crazy mix that sometimes doesn’t make anysense.

I haven’t mentioned that the book is written in first person from the point of view of Willis and fake Scarlet. I’m not a big fan of first person books, but I’m always eager to read one in the Romance genre if that point of view is from a man. Those are scarce in my opinion. I enjoy reading the sexy parts (ok, ok… the sex parts) from a man perspective. Usually, Romance books are all about the pleasure of the woman, as if men didn’t care about getting some. So I was expecting some sex and feelings narrated by Willis, but… in those moments, Celia always switches to Scarlet. Again…. Bummer!!

But, if something has made me drop a star for this book is the end. The “ring treatment”? Really? It’s so out of character for Willis and Scarlet. It leaves such a sour aftertaste… After so many years reading Romance books I should already be armored against the sudden proposals, but in this book it’s waaaaay more annoying.

The book is a roller coaster. Sometimes you are high believing you are reading the best book in the world, but shortly you will be taken down to the most forgettable book… and up again… and down after that… etc. It can make you dizzy, actually. Being said all that, I must admit it’s a fun read.

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Next: Zero Hour by Megan Erickson

Blood Trinity – Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Series: Belador #1
Pages: 519

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All her life, Evalle has been straddling the line between human and demon. Curious about her origins, but content to live in the shadows, she finds that anonymity threatened by escalating conflicts between species. Accused of a savage murder, she’s forced center stage in what seems like the beginning of an Atlanta apocalypse. Before long though, her personal problems will submerge as she learns startling facts about a hoard of supernatural terrorists.

This book has been in one of my shelfs for several years, but finally I have picked it. One more series I start… I’m a series starter. Not so much a finisher. But I’m still young, so…

Urban Fantasy is by far my favourite genre, even though I read romance more. That’s because in Spain, the former is not very popular. I always have to explain what Urban Fantasy is to my friends and family. As you can imagine, few books of that genre are found in bookshops over here. Urban Fantasy by Sherrilyn Kenyon is a plus. She is one of my favourite writers, no matter what she writes.

The fist book of the Belador saga is just a huge display of the fictional world both authors have imagined. There are character introductions in every chapter and, by the end of the book, the cast size is quite impressive. It’s the kind of character display I’m used to finding in Paranormal Romance, where authors present the characters that will star in the upcoming books. But in the Belador series it seems we are not changing the main character any time soon. So, yeah, the character treatment is unexpected for the Urban Fanatasy genre. The description of the male ones is SO typical of Romance books. Something I can totally understand taking into account both authors are also romance writers.

Enough rambling! Did I like the book? No doubt about that. The main character is Evalle, a Belador (some kind of celtic warrior) that keeps demon at bay. But she is a special branch of Belador called Alterant. They are very rare. The main difference is that they can shift into very dangerous beasts. If an Alterant becomes a monster, it’s captured and locked forever. That’s why Evalle works harder than most and keeps most of her work mates far away. She has huge trusting issues for several reasons: her Alterant condition, tough childhood… She only has two Belador friends: Tzader and Quinn (a couple of über sexy hunks, of course).

This books opens a lot of plot lines and barely close any: the search of the Ngak Stone before it claims a new host, the impending trial before the Tribunal to decide her fate, the mysterious Isak’s inquisition, the getting to know Storm, the blind woman and the Kujoo… And I bet I’m forgetting something. It’s a bit too much and many of those end in a “To be continued” that, for some reason, has been more hurtful than other cliffhangers I have encountered so far. On the other hand, so much in the plate has made this book very fast paced, which is always a nice plus for Urban Fantasy. It’s a genre where you expect a lot of ass-kicking. This one delivers.

The mythology Dianna and Sherrilyn have created is very rich, as I always expect in a Kenyon book. It can feel a bit cramped for the untrained reader, but it’s always good to know that the following books will have a crazy Universe to plant their roots. The crazier the Universe, the better an Urban Fantasy book will be. That’s my opinion, at least.

There is also a bit of romance involved. Evalle hasn’t got a couple in her whole life, but suddenly she finds two candidates: Storm and Isak. Both tall, handsome and ripped (one more trait taken from Romance books). Isak is a human mercenary that hates supernatural beings, especially Alterants (go figure…) and Storm is a cursed werepanther. Which one I think is a better suitor for her? That’s a tough one. Isak looks like he is going to be a lot of trouble once he finds out what Evalle is; but he is still a mystery. So far, Isak has been pretty nice. Storm is actually the worst of the book, in my opinion. He is just the classic shifter from Paranormal Romance books. You know, the ones whose animal part is the one that fells in love due to a weird mystical mating… I can’t barely believe love stories when they start that way. So yeah, Storm is currently better positioned to win Evalle’s heart, but my candidate to support is going to be Isak. At least for the moment.

The main course of the book is the Ngak Stone and the Kujoo warriors. The last ones are the Belador nemesis. They want to use a very powerful artifact (the Ngak Stone) to get rid of every Belador there is. As you can imagine, there are several clashes between both factions that make the story fluid easily. There is also a nice story among a reformed Kujoo warrior and the new host for the Ngak Stone. That part is actually my favourite. Very sweet.

If you don’t mind your Urban Fantasy with a side of romance (very light romance, I swear!!), this book is very enjoyable. It doesn’t let the reader to take a breath, which conceals some of the flaws of the narration (the timeline is a mess!).

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Next: Off Base by Annabeth Albert