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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon

Bridges Burned (Going Down in Flames #2) by Chris Cannon
Genre: Young Adult (Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: January 19, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Don't just fight the system…burn it.

Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…

But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn't a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.

Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.

Bridges Burned is the second book in the Going Down in Flames series by Chris Cannon. Bryn is definitely one of my favorite characters. I absolutely love how she wants to throw a fireball at the head of anyone who remotely aggravates her. I completely relate. I wasn't crazy about Zavien in the first book. I still don't like him, and I have no idea why Bryn is so hung up on him. She's made of tougher stuff than to put up with his crap. Valmont is still a hoot. He shows more of a smoldery side within this book that I'm digging quite a bit, but I can't help thinking Jaxon would be the best match for Bryn. That makes me feel bad because I really like who Jaxon is already matched with. A relationship with Valmont would be easy and comfortable for Bryn, but I feel like Jaxon and Bryn would challenge each other more. They'd be one of those fun, snarky couples. Also, I saw a side to Jaxon in this book that I hoped was there in book one. If I had to pick now, I'm Team Jaxon.

I think Bryn is going to change things in the next book in a big way. She's fed up with the Directorate...not that she was ever really tolerant of them. I'm beyond excited to see how she handles things. There is some kind of rebellion going on. They seem to think the attacks are targeting the Directorate. Until the end, I thought the attacks were targeting Bryn or at least strongly had to do with her. Now, I'm not sure. I am sure that I NEED the next book though!!

Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon was kindly provided to me by Mark My Words Book Publicity for review. The opinions are my own.

On the drive back to school, Bryn reflected on how her life had recently gone to hell. It had all started when flames shot out of her mouth on her sixteenth birthday, proving she wasn’t completely human. Since then she’d been shipped off to a secret school for dragons—the Institute for Excellence—where she was learning how to control her shape-shifting dragon powers. She’d faced discrimination, death threats, and poisoning. She’d been blown up and involved in a battle to the death with a radical Revisionist member—and she’d been there for only a few months.
Though not everything about her new life was bad. She had a sexy boyfriend, Black dragon Zavien Blackthorn, and two good friends, Clint and Ivy. Being a crossbred dragon meant she had both the Red and Blue dragons’ breath weapons, fire and ice, and even though she was the only crossbreed, she could still outfly even the fastest Blue. Of course, that’s why some of the other Clans hated her. She’d upset the natural order of things in this color-coded world, where the Directorate dictated what Red, Black, Green, Orange, and Blue dragon Clan members could do as a profession and whom they could marry. It was absurd. Yet most dragons didn’t question it.
Part of Zavien’s appeal lay in the fact that he headed up the student Revisionist group that petitioned the Directorate to change outdated laws. Bryn glanced at Directorate lawyer Merrick Overton, who was driving the Cadillac SUV hybrid she was riding in. Her classmate and former nemesis Jaxon Westgate rode shotgun. She and Jaxon no longer hated each other. Scratch that: he no longer hated her based on his father’s vendetta against her mother, but that didn’t mean they were friends. Funny how saving someone’s life could turn you from enemies to…what? Not friends. Frenemies, maybe? Who knew? It’s not like she wanted to hang out with him, but there was a weird level of trust between them now that she didn’t know what to do with.
God, what she wouldn’t give to close her eyes and wake up at home with her mom and dad, sitting in the living room eating popcorn and watching bad television. But the Directorate would never let that happen. She was stuck. Stuck in this weird shape-shifting dragon world where she still didn’t know all the rules. And half the rules she did know were total crap.
Time to concentrate on happier things. Zavien’s black spiky manga-like hair and his dark eyes came to mind. The hypnotic buzz of the tires on pavement lulled her to sleep.

“Bryn, you’re home.” Merrick Overton’s voice woke her. Her feelings toward him were mixed. He was a lawyer for the Directorate, yet he’d helped to protect her life. When they’d first met he’d offered to act as her benefactor, which meant keeping her as his mistress and supporting her after graduation. The reason he was still alive and breathing? She hadn’t known what the word “benefactor” meant at the time.
“Home?” She sat up, expecting to see her parents’ apartment. Instead, they were back at school. She covered her disappointment with a yawn.
“Good-bye. I hope we won’t see each other again soon.” Jaxon nodded like he hadn’t insulted her and headed for his dorm.
“The feeling is mutual.”
Merrick chuckled. “Come. I’ll escort you to your room. I want to check the new security.”
Not many students were out wandering the sidewalks or flying in the sky. It was Sunday evening, so everyone was probably relaxing or finishing up homework. She yawned for real this time. More sleep. That’s what she needed.
Auburn-haired men with the muscular build of Red dragons walked the campus wearing uniforms that matched the guards at the front gate. That was new. The fact that her grandfather had swayed the Directorate to increase security on campus for her protection was amazing. Then again, most of the Directorate had family members at the school, because no one escaped attending the institute. Every single shape-shifting dragon had to attend from junior year of high school through college graduation, which sucked.
Not that the campus was ugly. Far from it. The old stone buildings and the meticulously kept grounds were almost too perfect—Stepford-creepy-level perfect.
A light wind ruffled the leaves, which looked like they were ready to turn. Bryn inhaled the crisp air. “It smells like autumn.”
Merrick smiled. “Winter is around the corner.”
“Do all Blue dragons love winter?”
“We do.” He winked. “It’s in our blood.”
“Maybe that’s why I like fall. It’s between the hot and cold seasons like I’m between the Red and Blue dragons.”
When they reached their destination, Merrick opened the door to the dorm. A small camera above the door pulsed with a tiny red light. “The surveillance cameras appear to be functional.”
Each hallway had its own camera. Good to know someone was taking note of who entered the building. Maybe that would cut down on people breaking into her room and leaving her poisoned carrot cake, because almost dying from a dose of Dragonbane was not something she wanted to experience again. Once was enough, thank you very much. When they reached her room, she opened the door with the key and flipped on the overhead light. Two wooden rolltop desks sat on opposite ends of the room with their uncomfortable wooden chairs. A black couch and gray chairs flanked the mahogany coffee table.
She wandered into her bedroom and saw the four-poster beds with the gray comforters, the armoires, and the dresser. More furniture than she needed, since she’d never have a roommate. She’d grown used to living alone because no one wanted to live with the only known hybrid.
Nothing appeared out of place. She breathed a sigh of relief and joined Merrick in the living room.
“You don’t have to babysit me. I feel safer with the cameras.”
“I believe you are safer since your grandparents recognized you. Anyone feeling vengeful will think twice about crossing Ephram Sinclair.”
“I think my grandmother is scarier.”
“That’s only because you don’t know your grandfather very well. Now lock yourself in. I’m sure Zavien will be by to check on you soon.”
She followed him to the door. “Thanks for watching out for me and for knocking off the benefactor crap.”
“You’re welcome.” A smile played across his lips. “It’s for the best that I rescinded my offer to act as your benefactor, because if my sister and your grandmother have their way, and if your lineage check to Jaxon comes back compatible, I might end up your uncle.”
“That’s not funny.” She might not hate Jaxon anymore, but she had no desire to be shackled to him in a Directorate-sanctioned farce of a marriage. She crossed her arms over her chest. “If they try to set me up with Jaxon I’m claiming lesbianism.”
Merrick laughed.
She might be worrying about nothing. “Now that I’ve been recognized by my grandparents, do you think the Directorate will really take me off the ‘unfit to marry’ list?”
“Your grandfather wants the Sinclair line to continue. He’ll work toward that end, but it will take time.”
“I turn eighteen in two years. What happens if I’m not approved by then?”
“Fortune-telling was never my specialty. Concentrate on your studies and the rest will work itself out.”
Once he was gone, she headed to the bedroom to change clothes. Dressed in her standard after-class attire of yoga pants and a tank top, she felt much better. Now what? A quick check in the mirror showed a tired girl with red, blond, and black striped hair. That wouldn’t do. She focused her life force, or Quintessence, and imagined it as a ball of white light in her chest. She allowed the ball to drift upward, darkening her lips and cheeks, using it as makeup in a way that few students her age could do. It was a source of pride that she was so skilled at manipulating Quintessence. She couldn’t wait to start her classes in Quintessential medicine next year. Becoming a medic, being able to heal other dragons, was her dream job. Once she was satisfied with her newly enhanced and far more alert-looking reflection, she wondered what to do next.
The new book bag Jaxon’s mother, Lillith, had given her lay on the bed. And…she had no books. How was she supposed to get new textbooks when she wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about the explosion at her grandparents’ estate that had incinerated her book bag and almost killed her? Maybe Zavien would know what to do. For now, she grabbed the spare notebooks and pens she kept in her room and tossed them in the bag. The final step was adding the silver pen with the tracking spell Zavien had given her the first night they’d met. The pen that had allowed him to find her at her grandparents’ estate where he had helped fight off Alec, the crazy radical Revisionist dragon who had wanted to kill Bryn and make her a martyr for his cause.
Knock knock. She shot across the room and yanked the door open. Her best friends stood there grinning at her. Ivy greeted her with a hug. Clint walked in balancing several cartons of take-out food.
“We heard through the grapevine you were back.” Ivy released her and headed for the couch. “Tell us everything that happened at the Directorate meeting.”
She’d love to share with her friends, but by Directorate law, it wasn’t allowed. “Did Zavien tell you anything?”
“He showed up at camp this afternoon and said you’d been officially recognized by your grandparents because you tried to help save Alec.”
“That’s the official version of the truth,” Bryn said. “There isn’t much else to the story. Although my grandmother did invite me to Christmas Eve dinner.”
“That’s great.” Clint set the take-out boxes on the coffee table. “Are your parents invited, too?”
After running away to escape arranged marriages, her parents had been banished from dragon society, and her grandparents had refused contact of any kind since. They had even refused delivery of any cards or photos her parents had tried to send. Now she might have a chance to mend some fences. “I’m working on that. How was the camping trip?”
“The only good thing we ate was s’mores,” Ivy said. “We’re starved.”
The savory scent of french fries filled the air. “That smells awesome.”
“Cheeseburgers and fries from the dining hall.” Clint offered her a white box. “I grabbed enough for Zavien. I’m surprised he’s not here.”
“I haven’t seen him since he left to go back to the campground.” Bryn sat on the couch and ripped open a ketchup packet with her teeth.
Ivy removed the pickles from her hamburger and passed them to Clint. “When we left, he was talking with Nola and some of those radical Revisionist dragons.”
Nola was the friend the Directorate had decreed Zavien should marry based on lineage. Even though Zavien swore they were just friends, the dark-haired Barbie still got under Bryn’s skin.
“Did they seem upset?”
“They seemed sad about their friend, but they weren’t angry,” Ivy said.
“Tell me more about the camping trip.” Bryn didn’t want to think about Nola or the radical Revisionist members. For a while, she wanted to pretend she was a normal person with normal problems and normal friends rather than a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon at the mercy of an archaic society.
“Sleeping on the ground in human form sucks,” Clint said. “But sleeping as a dragon feels strange.”
“Some of the extreme Revisionist guys spoke to us. They’re intense and sort of scary.” Ivy dipped a french fry in ketchup. “The Directorate may have too much control over our employment and schooling, but I don’t think they’re evil.”
Were they? Bryn remembered the men she’d pleaded her case in front of attempting to prove that while she was unique due to her forbidden Blue/Red dragon Clan heritage, she wasn’t a threat that needed to be neutralized. “Some of them could pass for evil. Some are nice. It’s the fact that they’re so sure they’re right about everything that pisses me off.”
Ivy frowned. “I hate that there aren’t any women on the Directorate, even though they claim women are allowed to be Directorate members. In the history book there is the occasional woman mentioned, but it’s always as a footnote.”
“I’d love to ask my grandmother how she feels about that.” And then she remembered her grandmother’s plan. “Right now, I’m glad she doesn’t have a vote. She and Jaxon’s mom have lost their minds. They want the Directorate to check my lineage to see if Jaxon and I are a match.”
Clint laughed so hard he fell off the couch.
Ivy clamped a hand over her mouth and worked at swallowing her food without choking. When she achieved that feat, she said, “You can’t be serious.”
“Since my mom and Ferrin were a match, Lillith thinks Jaxon and I might match up, too. She’s enlisted my grandmother in her scheme. That’s what terrifies me. My grandmother is almost scarier than Ferrin. In a one-on-one battle, I’d give them even odds.”
“What about Rhianna?” Ivy asked. “What would happen to her if you and Jaxon were paired up?”
“If fate hated me that much, then I guess Rhianna would be matched with someone else.”
Clint shook his head. “She’d have to go with someone younger. Most of the top dragon families already have agreements in place. That’s why Ferrin had to marry someone much younger when your mom ran off with your dad. All the contracts with females of his own age had already been worked out.”
“Then I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Rhianna’s and Jaxon’s families must have their agreement in place. Nothing could change that, right?”
“For Red, Orange, Black, and Green dragons, nothing supersedes an agreement between families,” Ivy said. “In the Blue upper-class circles, things change if a family loses its wealth or status.”
“So, what was your grandfather’s house like?” Clint asked, completely changing the subject.
“Huge and cold. My grandparents have their own separate wings.”
“I guess if you marry someone you don’t like you can hang out in your own wing.” Clint winked at Ivy. “We’re going to have a small ranch house, so I’ll always know where you are.”
Ivy shook her head. “I want a two-story house like I grew up in.”
A goofy smile spread across Clint’s face, making Bryn chuckle. It had taken Clint years to make Ivy fall for him, even though they’d been friends forever. Before she could comment, another knock sounded on the door.
That must be Zavien. She hopped up, dashed across the room, and swung the door open. Jaxon and his friend Quentin stood there. Not who she wanted to see. If the way they were frowning was any indication, neither of them was pleased to be at her door.
“What’s up?” She stepped back so they could enter.
Jaxon shoved a box wrapped in blue paper at her. “My uncle insisted I deliver your new textbooks in this ridiculous manner. The Directorate didn’t want anyone to know why you needed the replacement.”
She accepted the box and set it on the coffee table, but she couldn’t help needling him. “Thanks for playing errand boy. What reason would you have for bringing me a gift?”
“My mother sent you an early Christmas present.” He shrugged.
“That doesn’t make much sense. And why is Quentin with you?”
“He missed me,” Quentin said in a dry tone.
Clint cleared his throat. “What happened to your books?”
She hated keeping secrets from her friends, so she didn’t. “I signed a paper saying I wouldn’t talk about it.”
Jaxon scowled. “You can’t tell them that.”
“It’s not like I told them what happened. I kept my word. What did you tell Quentin?”
“That you can manipulate Quintessence. When Alec collapsed before the Directorate, you assisted Medic Williams.” Quentin checked his watch. “Not to be rude, but I don’t have a burning desire to know anything about your textbooks, and our dates are waiting.”
“Thanks for the books.” Bryn opened the door so they could leave.
Zavien stood in the hall with his hand raised to knock. His eyebrows went up at the sight of the two Blue males. “What are you doing here?”
Jaxon wore a serious expression. “I stopped by to talk to my future wife about names for our offspring. Sadly, your name didn’t make the list.”
Zavien’s gaze darted back and forth between Jaxon and Bryn. “Tell me he’s joking.”
Before she could speak, Quentin said, “Sorry, it’s true. Your name didn’t make the cut. I believe they settled on Leonard and Beatrice.”
“They were just leaving.” Bryn pushed Jaxon out the door and then grabbed Zavien’s arm and tugged him inside.
He caught sight of the present on the table. His eyebrows slammed together. “What’s that?”
“Nothing exciting, it’s my new books.”
“Really?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Open it.”
Where was this pissy attitude coming from? “Open the damn box yourself.”

Check out my review of the other books in this series!

Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures and snarky contemporary romance.

To learn more about Chris Cannon and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookTumblrPinterest, and Twitter.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: Affliction by Marilee Brothers

Affliction (Soul Seeker #1) by Marilee Brothers
Genre: Adult (Paranormal Romance/ Suspense)
Date Published: February 29, 2016
Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Twenty-two year old Honor Melanie (Mel) Sullivan has an affliction. Due to childhood trauma and inappropriate social behavior, she diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of autism. But, Mel knows Aspergers is not her true affliction. She prefers not to gaze into a person's eye because she is a soul reader, and what she sees can be frightening. It can also get Mel into trouble.

After a brush with the law, Mel leaves her family home in southern California and travels to Oregon where she meets Harley-Davidson riding William McCarty (Billy the Kid) and stumbles upon a human trafficking/baby-selling scheme involving a foreign girl from Kazakhstan, and others. Even though Mel's life is in danger, she won't stop until she finds the answers that will help those unable to help themselves.

Affliction is the first book in the Soul Seeker Series by Marilee Brothers. Mel can see into a person's soul. It has been both a blessing and a curse for her, but through this story she seems to embrace it more and more. After moving to 3 Peaks, she finds things aren't what she expected. Her friend is in a coma, and there seems to be all kinds of shady-ness around her. She meets Billy, who has some inner demons of his own to fight, and is swept up a romance while she's trying establish herself in her new life. I have no reason not to like him, but I don't trust Billy. I just never clicked with him. There's another guy I like for Mel, but I'm not sure how that will pan out either. Afflicted was a clever little mystery, romance with an aspect of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. I'm really curious what life will bring to Mel next.

The ARC of Affliction by Marilee Brothers was kindly provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

May 2014

The baby's soul is spotless. Unlike her mother's. That's why I have to save her. If I don't, her soul will soon be stained with fear and pain like her three older siblings. I have a plan. Yes, it's half-assed, but a half-assed plan is better than nothing... right?

I'm at the end of my shift as a nurse's aide. Visiting hours are over. I check the nursery window for proud daddies and grandparents. Nobody. Still in my scrubs, I slip into the nursery and call to the overworked nurse on duty, "This one is needed in the lab."

She nods. I tuck the tiny baby girl in my right arm and hold her close to my body, similar to a running back clutching a football. Head down, I step out into the hall and walk to the door leading to the stairs.

"Hey, you!" Male voice.

My heart leaps in my chest. I stop and turn. Stan, from the janitorial staff, pushes his mop down the hall in pursuit of a cute, young LPN who gives him a coy finger wave. I take a shaky breath and slip through the door.

With her fondness for blue sky, sunshine and mountains, Marilee never wandered far from her home in central Washington state. She grew up in a family of readers, a gift for which she is eternally grateful. At age eleven, she wrote her first play and produced it in the back yard after recruiting several neighborhood children to play supporting roles. Marilee, of course, was the star.

As a freshman in college, Marilee met the love of her life. Married at nineteen (not recommended) and the mother of two baby boys by twenty-one (bingo... bango...) Marilee returned to college to earn her bachelor's degree in education before giving birth to a third son (bongo!) Outnumbered four to one, Marilee finally put a stop to the male baby boom. The seasons were defined by the type of ball she tripped over in the living room. Fall: Football. Winter: Basketball. Spring: Baseball. At the Brothers' dinner table, Marilee learned not to say, "Throw me a roll."

After teaching and coaching at the high school level, Marilee earned her master's degree in psychology and counseling. Much of her writing reflects her experience as a counselor for behavior disordered teens. Always in love with the written word, Marilee tried her hand at writing poetry and short stories during the busy child-rearing years. When she became an empty nester, it was time for a new challenge . . . time to write a book. As she began to learn her craft, she entered writing contests where she was lucky enough to be spotted by a publisher who signed her to a multi-book contract. Marilee is currently working on her tenth book.

To learn more about Marilee Brothers and her books, visit her website & blog.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Book Review: Becoming Blue by Angie M. Brashears

Becoming Blue (Chubby Chasers #1) by Angie M. Brashears
Genre: Adult (Contemporary/Fetish) 18+
Date Published: January 15, 2016
Publisher: Self

Every single thing I’ve been taught not to do…I just did.

Talk to a stranger? Check

Get in a car with a stranger? Check

Go to a second location? Check

Go into a stranger’s house? Check

Take candy from a stranger? Check

If this is a kidnapping, it’s the kindest one I’ve ever heard of.

I’m living a fat girl fantasy. Snatched from a Weight Watcher meeting by a powdered-donut eating stranger, was by far the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. Who knew I didn’t need to make appointments or attend meetings to have someone to talk to. A Friend. Two Friends. A dark, intense stranger. Secrets. 

Everything I ever wanted, and something’s I didn’t. Not every tasty treat is for eating.

To each his own….right?

Becoming Blue is the first book in the Chubby Chasers series by Angie M. Brashears. Well... count me in with the many other reviewers who said this book wasn't what they were expecting. It really wasn't. Not at all. I like that the story was trying to empower heavy women. I think that's what it was trying to do anyway. I also think it failed. It was more about the feeder culture fetish. The writing provided some graphic mental imagery. These are beautiful women, and more often than not, I found the going ons to be more... I don't know.. degrading and insulting. Certainly not empowering. I was sad and embarrassed for the characters, especially Sara. The other characters sure are interesting though. I'll give them that, and Sara feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life. So, whatever makes you happy, I suppose. The book comes up in the romance genre, but I really wouldn't call it a romance. Which reminds me, Sara's love interest is disturbing too. Is he a serial killer in training? Why is she attracted to him? When you tossed in his behavior and baggage on top of everything else going on, it just seemed like it was all a little much. You know? A little too unreal. Needless to say, this isn't the book for me. I really wish the blurb would have mentioned something about it being a fetish type thing. I would have known ahead of time that this type of story wouldn't interest me. I absolutely love the cover though!

Becoming Blue by Angie M. Brashears was kindly provided to me by Xpresso Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

Angie M Brashears is a lover of everything books. When not writing, she’s reading anything she can get her hands on. She grew up in Southern California, and loves the mountains, hiking with her dogs, the beach, and of course, Disneyland! She loves music, and loves singing along to the radio, loud and off-key, performing for anyone unlucky enough to be in the passenger seat.

Angie loves dark and twisted, which she refers to as Dark Ever After books, but is known to read an occasional HEA story as well. When she’s not writing, she working, saving lives. A busy Trauma ER nurse for over twenty years, she gets enough reality in her life, and is always looking for a story to take her away from the harsh reality of Emergency Nursing.

If there’s football on, she sure to have a huge party going on to cheer her team on…Go Patriots!

As a new author, she’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about Angie M. Brashears and her books, visit her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Genre: Young Adult (Fractured Fairy Tale/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Entwined by Heather Dixon is a fairy tale retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This was interesting for me, because, until reading this book, I knew nothing about about the original fairy tale. Aside from Azalea, Bramble, and Clover, most of the sisters blended together. It was a lot of characters to keep up with. Azalea was the eldest sister and the main character. She carried the story well. Bramble was the snarky, fun sister. Clover was the prettiest sister. I found the pacing to be drawn out quite a bit though. I also would have liked some more chemistry between Azalea and Mr. Bradford. I was surprised to find more chemistry between Clover and her love interest. Keeper was intriguing. The times when the sisters were in his world were hard to turn away from. At times, I wondered if he was meant for Azalea as I felt more tension when they were around him. I never felt like I got to know Mr. Bradford. That disappointed me because when he was around, I found that I liked him. This was a hard one to review, because it sounds like I didn't like this book, when I actually did. The story itself was enchanting. There was a dark, eeriness to Entwined, and I'm glad I read it.

"He was shockingly easy to follow. The pressure of his hand, the step of his foot, the angle of his frame. . . it was like reading his mind. When he leaned right, they turned in perfect unison. He swept her across the gallery in a quick three, a dizzying pace. Gilded frames and glass cases and the window blurred in her vision, and Azalea spun out, her skirts pulling and poofing around her, before he caught her and brought her back into dance position. She could almost hear music playing, swelling inside of her.

Mother had once told her about this perfect twining into one. She called it interweave, and said it was hard to do, for it took the perfect matching of the partners' strengths to overshadow each other's weaknesses, meshing into one glorious dance. Azalea felt the giddiness of being locked in not a pairing, but a dance. So starkly different than dancing with Keeper. Never that horrid feeling that she owed him something; no holding her breath, wishing for the dance to end. Now, spinning from Mr. Bradford's hand, her eyes closed, spinning back and feeling him catch her, she felt the thrill of the dance, of being matched, flow through her.

"Heavens, you're good!" said Azalea, breathless.

"You're stupendous," said Mr. Bradford, just as breathless. "It's like dancing with a top!"

Heather Dixon grew up in a large family and currently works as a story artist for Disney Interactive in Salt Lake City. She has a passion for the movie "Mary Poppins", and her dream is to write a book of twisted nursery rhymes. She is the author of the books "Illusionarium" and "Entwined"

To learn more about Heather Dixon and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Review! Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4) by Wendy Higgins 
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal Romance)
Date Published:  September 8, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

Bad boy Kaidan Rowe has never wanted for anything—money, popularity, musical talent…hot girls—but seducing them is part of his duty as a Nephilim, slave to the demon Dukes. As the son of the Duke of Lust, Kaidan has learned his father’s ways, becoming a master of passion, a manipulator of chemistry. Disobeying his father would mean certain death. Thankfully for Kaidan, he’s good at his job. And he enjoys it. 

Until he meets Anna Whitt—sweet, smart, feisty, and inexplicably good—the one girl seemingly immune to his charms. The daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, she has a certain power over him, one that makes him wish for more than he could ever deserve. 

Determined to save all the Neph from their dark lives as the influencers of sin, Anna joins forces with Kaidan to overcome the demons’ oppressive ways. In the light of her affections, Kaidan must undergo his toughest test of all, a battle of the heart.

Sensual and swoon worthy, this companion volume to the acclaimed Sweet Evil series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, told from the perspective of the irresistibly sexy and mysterious Kaidan Rowe, gives readers revealing insights into his struggle, his intense connection to Anna, and most of all, the true emotions that drive him.

Author Note:
Sweet Temptation will encompass the entire trilogy in a condensed version, beginning with Kai's life before he met Anna, and taking readers through the epilogue of Sweet Reckoning. Sweet Temptation is a companion novel, not meant to be a stand alone story. It will definitely be a richer experience for those who have read the original trilogy.

Sweet Temptation is the fourth book in the Sweet Series by Wendy Higgins. This book was a condensed version of the Trilogy seen through Kai's eyes. I've been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about it. I didn't know how much reading his point of view would really mean for the trilogy as a whole until I read it though. It's completely necessary. This is already one of my favorite series, and getting Kai's viewpoint and now knowing what he was doing when Anna wasn't around added so much depth to this story. His thoughts and internal monologues are hilarious. I just love him that much more now. I enjoyed reading the final showdown through his eyes.. even more than Anna's point of view. It was definitely something special. If you're a fan of the Sweet trilogy, Sweet Temptation is a must read.

Check out my reviews of the other books in this series!

For all requests, please contact me by email at wendyhigginswrites at gmail dot com. (It's hard for me to keep track of requests made via GR and other sites.) Thank you so much! :)

After earning a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, I taught high school English until becoming a mommy. I've always had a heart for teens, and writing YA stories gives me the opportunity to delve into the ambiguities of those pivotal years before adulthood.
I live in the D.C. area with my husband, daughter, son and puppy Rue.

To learn more about Wendy Higgins and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookPinterestTumblr, and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Reviews of the Hotel Rodeo Series by Victoria Vane

Hell on Heels (Hotel Rodeo #1) by Victoria Vane
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Some Odds are Meant to be Played... 


The Hotel Rodeo in Las Vegas has seen better days, but managing partner Ty Morgan has come up with a way to return it to its former glory. His plan looks promising until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Ty is working for the boss’s daughter. And Miss Monica Brandt, hot as she may be, doesn’t share his vision…


She left a fabulous career and a frustrated fiancé in New York to move to Vegas and save her father’s investment. But now Monica is locking horns with a sexy cowboy-turned-businessman. What does Ty think he can do that she can’t? All Monica knows is that she doesn’t dare trust him—or is it herself she doesn’t trust...


The battle lines are drawn. The stakes are high. And the attraction can’t be denied—especially the more closely Ty and Monica have to work together. Some odds are just meant to be played, and with chemistry this electric, it may be time to grab life by the horns…

Tye and Monica have nothing in common. They start off hating each other, but it gets hot and heavy fast. Very fast. They both are so set in their ways, I didn't expect one of them to want commitment so soon. Too bad the other isn't ready yet. These two grabbed my attention. IT was a very fast and entertaining read. I'm ready to start the next book.

Hell on Heels (Hotel Rodeo #1) by Victoria Vane was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.

Her gaze was even with his chin, requiring her to crane her neck. She hated the advantage his height gave him. It was the reason she always wore heels—to level the playing field. She was five foot seven. Her stilettos made her close to six feet, which allowed her to stand nose to nose with most men, and even gave her a slight advantage over Evan who was only four inches taller than she was, but Ty had her by half a head.
“The twenty grand you refused?”
“No, the ten I accepted along with the—”
“Okay,” she blurted. “You already called my bluff. I’ll give you the twenty. Half now and the rest in three months. I’m being square with you here, Ty. Let’s make this happen.” She almost groaned as Evan’s favorite words spilled from her mouth. She’d been his protégé for five years. It would probably take as many for the stink to wear off.
Ty cocked his head in thought.
She waited, fighting the urge to tap her heel.
“All right,” he said at last. “I can accept that deal… on the provision that I still have the last word on operations.”
“Absolutely not! I’ll make all the final decisions.”
“That ain’t gonna fly with me, Sugar. Tom let me have free rein. If you want me to stay, you’ve got to let me handle things my way.”
“Equal say,” she countered. “Partners. Just like you and Tom.”
He shook his head. “Tom and I are like-minded but you and me? We’re never going to see eye to eye on anything.”
“Probably not,” she agreed.
“Look, Ms. Brandt, one of us has to wear the pants in this relationship.”
“Wear the pants? What chauvinistic bull****! I can’t even believe you said that!”
“Told you I’m old fashioned. ‘Sides,” his gazed roved slowly and suggestively down her body, “you look mighty fine in a skirt.”
She fought a ridiculous surge of satisfaction that he’d taken notice. “Don’t you know I could call you out for sexual harassment?”
“Could you now?” He stepped into her space. “Maybe you need a bit of sexual harassment, Ms. Brandt,” his voice was suddenly low and smooth as silk. “As a matter of fact, I think you need a whole lot of it.”
She retreated a step.
He advanced two.
“You see,” he continued, backing her up to the desk, “I was raised in the belief that anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”
 His hands came down on the desk, braced on either side of her. His musky masculine sent washed over her, sucking the air out of her lungs. Evan wore outrageously expensive Clive Christian 1872. Ty Morgan wore “pure cowboy” vintage 1982, earthy, tangy, and tantalizing.

Two to Wrangle (Hotel Rodeo #2) by Victoria Vane
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Shine


Maybe having a hot and heavy affair with the boss’s daughter wasn’t the smartest move. But country boy Ty Morgan didn’t regret a moment with city girl Monica Brandt…until she left Las Vegas to return to her life in New York.  When devastating news sends her running back, Ty can’t help but open his arms.  His heart, however, is another matter.


Now that Ty has what he’s always wanted—controlling interest in Hotel Rodeo—Monica is certain their time together is at an end.  Then Ty asks her to come on board as a partner.  Maybe it’s just her money he needs, but the chance to stick close to the sexy wrangler sure could make work a whole lot more interesting.


Their partnership doesn’t come without a heap of problems. The two can’t agree on anything—except their iron-hot attraction.  As the hotel’s Grand Opening approaches, the truth is all too clear: Ty and Monica must find a way to mix business with pleasure if they have any shot at dancing off into the sunset together…

Two to Wrangle by Victoria Vane is the second book in the Hotel Rodeo series. Things are getting more serious on many levels within this book, which means Ty and Monica will be fighting and making up and fighting some more. Monica wants to give up and fly off to New York and give up way too easily. With as much of a hard baller she is in business, I expected her to have more of a backbone in her personal life. Ty is. .well, he's Ty. He tries to stick to his original, no commitments, no obligations plan, but can he really keep it up? He already started breaking his rules in the first book.

Two to Wrangle (Hotel Rodeo #2) by Victoria Vane was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.

Kade had interposed himself between the animal and the fallen rider, while two others flanked the bull on either side. Waving and yelling, the three men distracted the manically bucking animal while the rider scrambled of the danger zone. He spun and charged Zac who barely dodged a horn. The bull then froze, stared down the arena and snorted a stream of snot, before trotting back to the chute leading to the holding pens.
Ty chuckled. “That’s one badass bull. Least he didn’t wreck.”
“What do you mean wreck?” she asked.
“A wreck is when bad sh** happens, but it’s inevitable if you ride long enough. Everybody knows that. At its best, bull riding is beautiful to behold, but when things go bad, it makes your blood run cold.”
“I still can’t understand why you did it,” she said.
“Ever heard of an adrenaline junkie?” Ty asked.
“Of course,” she said. “But I always picture those as the crazy people who free climb buildings and cliff faces.”
“Not the same at all,” Ty said. “I’m not sayin’ you can’t get hurt or even killed climbing rocks or buildings, but it’s not like the rock is out to get you. If you mess with a two thousand pound bull, you’re eventually gonna get the horns. Knowing he can kill you is the ultimate adrenaline rush.”
“You’ve never struck me as a thrill seeker, Ty.”
“I’m a different man now than what I was back then. Part of the change is age and wisdom. Part of it’s a lifestyle choice. Eight years ago I chose to leave it behind.”
“Do you miss it?” she asked. “The adrenaline? The excitement?”
“Sometimes I do,” he admitted. “The bull arena is purely a male domain. There’s something raw and primitive about it. There’s not much of that kind of thing left in our modern world. I guess that’s part of the appeal—for both the competitors and spectators.”
His words made her think again of the ancient Roman gladiators.
Ty tilted his head back to the chutes. “Zac’s up next. Even with a bad wrist, that ol’ geezer will show you how it’s s’posed to be done.”
“Old geezer? He doesn’t look any older than you, Ty,” Monica remarked.
“He’s thirty-four, but that equates to ‘bout a hundred and two in bull rider years. It’s not the years but the mileage that counts in this game, and Zac’s got a lot of long hard miles.”

Beauty and the Bull Rider (Hotel Rodeo #3) by Victoria Vane
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Shine

When Beauty Wants A Baby

Championship bull breeder and former Texas beauty queen Delaney McCall was having a heck of a time finding a daddy for the baby she craved. A failed marriage left her with no desire for another husband, but finding the right stud to satisfy her needs presents a bigger problem that she could have imagined. 

And The Bullrider Wants Beauty

After hanging up his spurs, bull rider Zac McDaniel wants nothing more than to fulfill Delaney’s dream of having a family. After all, his best friend’s ex has been his fantasy for years. Zac, however, has no desire to be seen as just a means to an end. When Zac insists on doing things the “old fashioned” way, their passion explodes like a bull out of the chute.

Some Bucking Is Bound To Happen 

While insisting it’s all just a passing fancy, the more Delaney sees the softer side of the rough and tumble cowboy, the harder it is to keep her emotions corraled. Zac, meanwhile, is more determined than ever to prove he’s what she really needs, and will do whatever it takes to tear down the mile high fence around her heart… 

Beauty and the Bull Rider is the third book in the Hotel Rodeo series by Victoria Vane. When I first grabbed this book, I was surprised to see it was Delaney and Zac's story. I have to say it turned into a pleasant surprise. While I knew Delaney couldn't have been as bad as Ty made her look in the previous two books, I wasn't prepared to fully like her either. But, I did. In fact, I think I even like Zac better than Ty. He has his mysteriously charming ways that have that effect on me anyway, but he seems to have things figured out. I can respect him for his decisions, and how he's gone about doing most things in his life. I really enjoyed this story, and I fell for these characters pretty quickly. I enjoyed all three books in the Hotel Rodeo series. I think I'm going to have to check out some other books by this author as well.

The ARC of Beauty and the Bull Rider (Hotel Rodeo #3) by Victoria Vane was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.

He leaned back on the breakfast bar, taunting her with a cocked brow. “Running away?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I think you’re afraid.”
“Afraid of what?” she asked.
“I think you’re attracted to me and it scares the sh** out of you.”
 “Last night I said you were attractive, Zac. I didn’t say I was attracted to you. There’s a difference.”
“No, there isn’t. You’re splitting hairs.”
She gave a snort. “Do you really think you’re that irresistible? Your ego is as big as Ty’s.”
“C’mere.” He jerked his head in a beckoning motion.
“What for?” she asked warily.
“I think it’s time for a little test. We can end this whole debate here and now.”
“What kinda test?”
“The kiss test,” he said. “It’s real simple. I’m gonna kiss you. If you can stand there and do absolutely nothing, you win and I lose.”
“What’s the point?” she asked.
“Sexual compatibility,” he said. “If we kiss and I don’t do it for you, I’ll drop any ideas of sex with you and submit to the test tube.”
“That simple?” she said. “You’ll donate your sperm if I let you kiss me?”
“As long as you don’t respond. That means no sounds. No kissing back. No touching.”
“Just one kiss?” she said.
“One kiss.”
“How long a kiss?” she asked.
“A standard breath hold,” he replied.
“No tricks?”
He held out his bare arms. “Nothing up my sleeve.”
Slapping his wet shirt down on the counter, she upturned her face. “Okay, Zac. I’ll let you kiss me.”
Now that the moment had come, Zac’s heart hammered against his breastbone. He’d never been nervous about a kiss, but then again, a kiss had never meant all that much to him. That wasn’t to say he didn’t like kissing. It was a pleasant enough pastime, but mostly it just served as an appetizer to the main course. He suddenly realized he didn’t know if he was a good kisser or not. He’d never had to try all that hard. Most of the women he’d been with were already primed for a tumble well before the first lip lock. He’d never suffered a crisis of confidence with any woman, but this wasn’t just any woman—it was Delaney McCall, the woman he hoped to spend the rest of his life with.

Victoria Vane is a #1 best selling author of of smart and sexy contemporary Western romance and an award-winning author of erotic historical romance. Her books have received more than twenty awards and nominations to include the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series. Look for her scorching hot Hotel Rodeo series coming from Kensington/Lyrical Shine early 2016.

To learn more about Victoria Vane and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

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