Sophia Rose

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Smashwords book reviews by Sophia Rose

  • To Finish the Dance on Oct. 31, 2011

    I learned of this book through the GoodReads Clean Romance Fiction Group on FB. I like to explore new-to-me authors and this choice did not disappoint. The book is about a middle aged man and woman who were childhood sweeties and were on the brink of marriage when the unthinkable happened and they broke it off to go their separate ways. Twenty years later they are both still affected by this. The man's current girlfriend insists that he must bury the past before their relationship can continue. This sets off the movement in the story. He returns from the city to his small town roots to gain some closure. The story is told from both their perspectives and that of the minor characters. It also utilizes flashbacks so one can fill in all the back history between the two. In places, there is almost a journalistic aspect with the emails and the way time used to pace the end. This story has its soft tender moments, but can also wring out your heart for the h/h because of the plotting that includes some angst. I do not wish to offer up spoilers. The characters were deep and well written and the dialogue and silences were good. Recommend!
  • Blue Maneuver-Urban SciFi/Fantasy on April 16, 2012

    This is a good Sci-Fi/UF 'What if' story. What if the previous generations who came before us on earth were such an advanced civilization that they were able to travel to the stars and establish themselves on other worlds? What if some of those previous generations were at war with each other about how to handle government and colonization? What if an autocratic class-based society was set on taking over the mother world and there was a group hiding in plain sight on earth and in the stars determined to thwart them? In the middle of all this epic stuff, oblivious and ignorant, one unemployed daughter of hippies and government conspiracy freaks, stumbles into it all when she decided that she must turn over a new leaf. Rae decides she needs to get fit and find a job. Out at 0'dark thirty in the morning, she stumbles over a body from which blue firefly like things come out, chase her down, and burrow under her skin. Her trip and fall is witnessed by a park ranger. Later another trip and fall is witnessed by the new handsome latino looking guy, Victor, who has moved into her complex. She doesn't feel so good from the falls and finding the body so Rae groggily directs Victor to drop her off to feed Vivian's cat. No sooner does she enter Vivian's apartment then everything changes. She is captured by that innocent looking park ranger, informed that she is going to be killed for teaming up with the intergalactic bad guys, and then jolted out of her blissful ignorance of what all she has been missing. Her captor is in reality a military spec ops officer for the organization sworn to protect earth and he thinks she is working with Victor to bring it all down. The other big news that he gives her is the knowledge that those little blue fireflies that stung her earlier were actually some sort of ancient organisms that had bored into her body and were even now syncing up with her with the kicker that they contained hidden codes that every power in the galaxy was eager to get their hands on. Rae was now the hot item that everyone would be after. Tobias then gives her the option of working as his partner in the task of helping aliens and refugees adjust to settling on earth and thwarting the bad guys plans. I loved the plot line and how it is first person so the reader is learning along side Rae. It also leaves the other players in the story somewhat of a mystery which is good because there is always that element of who can she really trust. And that is the crux of the plot. Who to trust? Someone has infiltrated the United Earth Defense and what about Victor the mercenary? And what happened to cause that botched alien landing where the guy with all the stolen info got killed? Not being able to trust even their own people and being chased by the bad guys has Tobias and Rae on the run. Its all very exciting. The pacing was a little troubling a few times. I think I am like Rae in some ways in that I lost a little interest when we got to all the tech details. The book explains a great deal about the world building behind the story, the gadgets and gizmos, and what its like to interface with the CBs (little blue fireflies). I found that the pace bogged down a few times because of it. The scene in the hidden base when Rae must eat to build up her strength when using her CBs drains her goes on quite a long time about all the food she consumed. I would have been good with a brief explanation that she needed to feed and then a fade out to a pile of plates and glasses. I was also getting a little bugged by Rae's limited vocabulary of expletives. I think the amount of times 'crap on a cracker', 'praise Buddha' and 'Son of a monkey butt' occurred numbered in the high double digits. It was cute and fun at first, but not so much by the end of the book. The relationships in the story are interesting. There is instant attraction between Rae and Victor and he has this whole 'I've got to kill you and take the information, but I'll regret it a little' thing about him. Rae and Tobias start out very prickly. Here we have more of her limited vocabulary. She calls him 'douche' so many times that the man probably thinks its his name. Slowly through trial by fire, they grow into a good partnership. He still tries to protect her and boss her around, but she shows that she can contribute to their efforts. That leads me to the characters. Rae is the main character and she is well written. I liked how she is a pretty normal gal taken way out of her element. She's got a good steel backbone and even death threats only tick her off. Victor is enigmatic with his whole dark angel thing going on. He basically works for whoever pays him and has no moral compunctions even though he is not into senseless violence or hate. He even seems to have a thing for Rae. Tobias starts out as a straight as an arrow military guy. He is carrying around a boatload of guilt for the failure of his last mission when his weak partner got the whole team slaughtered. At first command tells him to eliminate Rae which he would have done (orders are orders), but then they make her his new partner. Later Tobias, starts to question orders and information that are coming down chain of command and refuses to follow through on the order to kill Rae when the alien arrival and landing mission is compromised. He is a strong leader and team player. Though he did not act on it, he too has a thing for Rae. As to the rest of the characters, they had fairly small roles with longer peeks at Tobias' team. The villain was truly sadistic and evil. Oh mama was I glad to see her get hers. The main threat is dealt with by the end of this story, but there are a few smaller threads that leave it open for a series. This book was enjoyable and I hope that the coming books only improve in pacing and action now that the world building is established. I'm pretty interested in seeing what happens next with Rae, Tobias, their team and new alien refugees, and the enigmatic Victor.
  • Between The Land And The Sea on April 19, 2012

    Even as I try to decide what I wish to say in my review, my head is full of the thoughts and emotions this story generated. I love the backdrop, the characters, and the plot. This is a YA fantasy novel about a girl who is sent to live with her father's sister when his work takes him to Afghanistan for a year. Reluctantly, she leaves the city life of San Francisco for the quiet coastal town of life with her aunt and cousin. Almost on arrival, inexplicable things begin to happen to Marina. She has an affinity for the sea and meets a mermaid who bares a striking resemblance to her. The meeting with Lorelai the mermaid is the catalyst of change even more than her move. Marina has to begin living two lives. There is her public life of settling in with her misfit relations and her new school and her secret life where the call of the mermaids grows stronger with each day. I loved the characters in Marina's story from her fabulous neighbor and friend cum fairy godmother who she calls Aunt Evie, her quirky high on life Aunt Abby, her cousin Cruz who dreams of designing fabulous clothes for the runway, Cruz's talented musician friend Megan, mysterious and wise Lue Khang, Ethan who has more to him than his looks and surfing talent, and the intriguing mermaid Lorelai. These are not cardboard, cookie cutter characters. Even the mean girl has a depth to her that was interesting to read. The plot kept my attention as it wove around Marina's adventures with new relationships and her first time living as a typical teen to her more clandestine adventures learning the secret of her other life as abilities and yearnings start to surface. I thought it wonderful that the author wove daily life experiences in with fantasy so that the story was balanced. I found the voice of the story fascinating with that underlying haunting bittersweet tone to it. Fun and laughter happen, but below the surface there is always that other feeling leading up to that inevitable climax of the story and the choice Marina must make. There was only one aspect of the story that bothered me, but not enough to ruin it. This was told from Marina's Point of View so as the reader I really got to know her. There were two aspects of her character that put me off: I found her annoying on a few occasions in the middle of the story. It's possible I was expecting too much based on what she was going through, but her repeated 'I gotta go it alone and keep my secrets' mentality in the face of empirical evidence that she was not doing so hot at that and always needed rescuing by Ethan and her friends irritated me. It also particularly irritated me because I didn't like that it was her willful thoughtless behavior including lying and breaking promises to everyone that caused trouble, but yet she was the one angry and hurt in feelings after they called her on this behavior. I know I'm being vague by not providing examples, but I didn't want to give spoilers. As I said, it wasn't bothersome enough to truly destroy my enjoyment of the story just a peeve of mine. I think this is a great book that I'll recommend to all who love a good YA fantasy and want a change of pace from the vamps, shifters, and angels.
  • The Moon And The Tide on April 19, 2012

    This was the second book in the series and must be read it order. The plot and characters continue to be well done. I particularly enjoy the little high school gang of friends. The book begins where the first one left off. The first third of the book was the set up section for what was to come. Marina sees her friends' talents finally recognized including a nice surprise in the form of Shayla who as become more of a friend after the events of the first book. Evie and Ethan meet like two titans and walk away suspicious of each other. Marina still has that overwhelming call from the sea and is trying to learn how to reconcile the two halves of herself. There is the new mysterious quality to Evie and foreshadowing of events going on beneath the surface. It was the part about Marina's inner angst and struggles in the first part of the book that just did not set well with me as a reader. I was not fond of her thought processing or her treatment of Ethan. She again is into sneaking and lying- putting herself into danger and manages to hurt others in the process. I was also not impressed with the way the father checked out of her life knowing what he knows. I love Dutch and Abby, but they too seemed content to be oblivious just trusting the kids to do right and stay out of trouble. Fortunately, there was the latter two-thirds of the book. Marina seems to really come into her own and be more of a girl that I could like when she must step up with heroic courage to face physical danger on all sides, what she thinks of as betrayal, a choice of love interest, and then must make decisions that affect her family and friends. Mer-girl Power! Yeah, about the last portions of the book- x-sigh-ting!!! I couldn't stop reading. Marina's made of stern stuff and I really love how Ethan steps up and supports her. He's a real treasure in that he will sacrifice his future plans if he has to just to be with Marina and he is capable of being supportive even when he understands or disagrees. He seems to be the only one capable of calling it like he sees it with her too which she really needs. Everything about Evie becomes clear though now Marina's situation just becomes more complicated. Then the threat of danger is still out there. Looking forward to the next segment!
  • His Destiny is Karma (The Gossip of Mysterious Lane #2) on April 19, 2012

    I enjoyed reading this second book that is novella length in the Mysterious Lane series and had to laugh several times at the situation the hero got himself into. Though he starts out as a guy who seems to have no endearing qualities other than his friendship with Hank, Alex grows on one as he learns that he is not really what his rep as a 'horndog' is. It takes the appearance of a stunning woman who seems uninterested in what he has to offer to do it to him. This book references back to characters in the first one and there are spoilers so they should be read in order. If I had to compare this installment to the first book, I liked the first one better because I liked the way the h/h interacted and had a relationship to build on. This one came on a bit quicker in the pace of the romance than for which I was ready. It was a love at first sight story and that has its appeal too. This light Fantasy Romantic Comedy is a delight to read. The fantasy world of all species of supernaturals living among the humans, the well written characters, the humor, and even the romance are enjoyable for a nice escape.
  • The Seduction of Damian (The Gossip of Mysterious Lane #1) on April 19, 2012

    I won this book in a contest and I was not sure what to expect. It was so delightful. A Romantic Paranormal Comedy! Damian, a vampire, won the vote of a leading magazine amongst the supes as the most eligible bachelor. He thought he would like the attention, but discovered that he hates each new encounter. Only his best friend, Jo, a troll, can ease his tension. Damien is unaware of her deep feelings for him The plot was cute, the little world about Mysterious lane was fun, and the main characters were endearing. I laughed out loud several times and felt so sorry for Jo at times. Loved house the scenes are simple and everyday. My only complaint is that it was too short. I loved hanging out with Damian and Jo. Recommend for a nice light read.
  • A New Dream on June 17, 2012

    I'm always interested in stories about people who have to overcome difficulties in their lives so when I saw the blurb on this one about a man who had to overcome a physical disability, the loss of a Pro Football career, and his fiancee leaving him, I just could not resist. Matt has it all going for him until a car accident takes it all. He is forced to start over in a new life that he never imagined. The loss of part of his right leg and permanent limp in his left leg has destroyed his football career, sent his shallow fiancee, Stacey, packing and caused some family troubles. Matt his now living at home and working as a grocery store manager. All is not entirely bleak for him. The first day on the job he lays eyes on the beautiful bakery worker, Violet, whose eyes twinkle and her lips smile with genuine pleasure when she sees him. He doesn't think that anyone woman would ever consider a cripple like him, but he cannot resist getting up the courage to ask her out. Violet says yes and what's more, she truly enjoys him for just him and not fame or fortune. Violet is a girl brought up sheltered on conservative principles. She knows about Matt's past, but she believes that he has changed and she is so happy when they are together. Violet is very beautiful, but feels inadequate because she is not glamorous or successful like she imagines what sort of woman Matt should be with. All is cruising along fine with Matt and Violet all set to marry when his old flame shows up in town with a baby- Matt's baby. Stacey is determined to get Matt back and have him be a daddy for her baby. Stacey is not afraid to do whatever- and I mean whatever- it takes. Violet is to unsure and insecure to deal. Will Stacey's plotting succeed? Or will Violet's faith in their love be strong enough? Now, what are my thoughts on the story? At first, I really loved it and was getting all those warm fuzzies that despite what Matt went through in the beginning that he was finally going to get his happiness. But then all the emotional angst started when Stacey hit town again and I was angry at what was going down. Then I was sad about how things were turning out. The plot just took me through a whole gamut of emotions- which in case you're wondering, is a good thing. I like to feel and be engaged by a story. I really wanted Violet and Matt's relationship to be strong enough and I'm not a big one for the angst, but truthfully it made sense to have most of it. Matt did mess around and sometimes there are consequences. I think Violet's angry and jealous reaction to the possibility of sharing Matt with his son and having to deal with Stacey's presence were honest. Stacey's conniving and seeming success at having her way is realistic. I say all this because I was not prepared for the story to take a realistic and painful turn the way it did which caused me to lose patience with the whole situation for a time. So since it took me by surprise when the tone of the story changed, I thought I should make that clear to others so they'd expect it. I thought the characters were good. They drew many different emotions from me which is always a sign of a well-written character only poorly written characters make me indifferent. My favorite character aside from the main ones was Matt's brother, Chris. I felt he lit up the scenes that he was in and he was such a good brother to Matt. All in all, it was a nice read and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys Sweet Contemporary Romances. ****Spoiler alert****** For those who need to know there is a happily ever after before they will read a book, there is after a great deal of painful misunderstanding.
  • I'll Be Your Drill, Soldier! on Oct. 15, 2012

    I kept seeing this book pop up in my recommends so I decided to give it a try. I loved it and it is definitely worth the read for those who love military romance. It was a unique read for me because it began at the very beginning of a soldier's career in boot camp and followed through many years of his life where he acquires friends and a lover as well as battle experience. It was realistic both in the military backdrop and how romance could build between two such men as a new recruit and his drill sergeant. The story is told in a late enough time frame so that Don't Ask Don't Tell is a thing of the past so the only barrier is work ethics when it comes to attraction. Most of the beginning is told from Ryan Gracen, the new recruit's point of view. His mental dialogue through much of his training experience was hilarious at times as was the trouble he and his posse got into. I found the camaraderie a really nice touch in the story. There are finally switches to Phillip 'Big Daddy' Grabowski's perspective which made an interesting clarification to how Ryan perceived things between the two of them. During the deployment periods, I thought the email segments were a nice touch so that pacing didn't drag in the story. Ryan has crushed on Phillip since boot camp and even long afterwards so it was amusing to read how he reacts when he learns that Phillip is newly placed not just on the same base, but in his unit. This is the point when the relationship building actually starts to take place and a military family starts to form with the other guys and Phillip's family which is needed to see them through the tough days of deployment and its aftermath. The epilogue was a nice touch and the irony had me bursting out with a laugh. Terrific story!
  • Color of Loneliness on Nov. 16, 2012

    I chose to read this book because I thought the blurb sounded promising. I love small town romances and this one had the heroine moving back home from the big city. I found it an entertaining reading experience. Myra has just buried her grandfather, the last member of her family, and returns back to her job in Philly where every day she is confronted by the sight of her cheating ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. When it becomes too much, she packs up and returns to small town Nyssa to live in the home her grandfather left her to start her writing career. Only there's a problem, the house is run down and needs a bit of work so her neighbor Jim gives her the name of a reliable contractor. Dylan turns out to be the most hateful, anti-social man, but he is a good contractor so Myra hires him. For his part, Dylan sees another woman who wants to seduce him so he growls and grumbles his way trying to keep a distance. But circumstances in the form of the dying neighbor, Myra's best friends' visit, Myra's injury, him falling on Myra's car through a rotten roof, and unpleasantness with other men cause Dylan to go from distant to desiring Myra in a few weeks. Unfortunately, Dylan has his secrets which he wants to share with Myra, but can't figure out how to put them into words. In the meantime, Myra's ex shows up and he runs the guy off, but then he must go and visit family. All the while, Dylan wants nothing more than to be with Myra back in Nyssa. The end is a cliffhanger with a huge twist to leave everything up in the air. With this book, I had mixed feelings. I found the prose a bit rough, but the story line was pretty good. It switched back and forth between Myra and Dylan's point of view. I was really vested with what was going on with Myra and Dylan. As to the characters, I enjoyed them up to a point, but there were times that I found them becoming almost cliches of themselves. For example, Suzie was funny as all get out with her fixation on Myra's sex life, hating Myra's ex more than Myra did (solid BFF there) and her diet disasters, but there were times that it just got to be too much for me. Every time she got on the phone, I knew what was going to be said and those phone conversations were regular parts of the story. And this type of thing was true of several of the characters in their own ways. I'm going to reserve opinion about Dylan's dilly-dallying with the truth and that surprise at the end of the story until I find out what it is he's hiding. But it better be a real humdinger to keep backing out of just telling Myra the truth. I was a bit frustrated at the way he was acting particularly when she spilled all her uncomfortable sad stuff to him and reassured him more than once that she was ready to listen. I do have a strong curiosity to find out what happens next. I would recommend this for Contemporary Romance fans who like stories with a meek heroine and a bitter hero.
  • A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming (Contemporary Romance) on Dec. 01, 2012

    I was looking for a cozy Christmas read and I was so pleased to find this one. It combines the holiday themed read with a contemporary Western romance which are a great pairing in my book. Oh, and did I mention this is an opposites attract love story? Caroline is a big time news anchor for the national news out of Washington DC, but she has small town roots. For Christmas, she returns to the home ranch in Wyoming where her only remaining relation, her grandmother, still lives and operates the small family ranch. When she gets there, she discovers a surprise- and a nasty one at first. Caroline finds one of the Coyote men who are descended from the local Crow tribe, Andy, and his daughter living and working on the ranch. Her hackles rise the instant she learns this because everyone knows the Coyotes are bad news. This one was reputed to have raped a girl in high school and probably had a rap sheet a mile long. Caroline never did believe that gossip about the rape, but she is hard on Andy the instant she sets eyes on him. But as a big snowstorm comes in, Caroline gets to see Andy in action as he works hard helping her get the cattle down out of a high pasture to the areas nearer the ranch house where they can be cared for and fed. She sees evidence in the fixed up house and barn that he's a conscientious man who works hard and then the way he interacts with his daughter shows that he is a loving father. By the time they return to the ranch, Caroline gives Andy her apology and starts seeing him in a different light. Andy has his own prejudices too. He thinks Caroline is a rich snob who pre-judges people. He is terrified that she will make trouble for him and find an excuse to get him fired. This job as ranch foreman is his last chance and he needs it to provide for his daughter. Caroline and Andy worked together to keep things going through the big snow storms hitting the area and things are going well until Andy's little girl has a fever seizure which is followed shortly after by Andy's arrest for theft. In fact all the Coyote brothers are brought in and nobody cares to get past reputation to establish guilt or innocence- nobody except Caroline. But adding on cattle rustling and a fight with the whole town including a despondent Andy who doesn't believe he stands a chance, just gets Caroline's fighting spirits up. She has a huge Christmas to-do list if everyone is to have a merry Christmas. The plot was really good with all that is going on in the story. The story breaks were a bit rough, but didn't disrupt the storyline too badly. It seemed that the scenes were a string of loosely tied together vignettes that swap back and forth between narrators. The ambiance of Christmas is there, but it takes a back seat to the love story and other issues plaguing the family. Caroline was a good heroine. She was sensible in how she looked beneath the surface of Andy's family reputation to give him a chance, how she was a hard worker who might be a big time DC news anchor, but she wasn't afraid to get a bit of dirt under her nails to help on the ranch, how she was passionate and patient in first her attraction and then love for Andy, and how she was a true heroine in how she fought to establish Andy's innocence and make him see his own worth. Andy was an interesting hero. He is one of those rare characters known as a beta hero. Everyone loves the alphas, as do I, but I also find a beta hero provides a nice change when handled well. Andy Coyote endures under an unearned bad reputation, he thinks little of himself because he has a learning disability and because he made mistakes leaving him with one child he never sees and another one who he just got custody over because the mother abandoned little Sarah. He feels he is inferior to the woman he loves because she is successful and has money. During the story, it is obvious that he is a man of quiet strength because he doesn't go down the same road as the rest of his family and he sticks by his principles by how he handles his feelings for Caroline and how he works hard to be a good father. I can recommend this for those who enjoy holiday romances, western contemporary romances or those who like sweet romances with just a hint of passion.
  • Bloodraven on Dec. 21, 2012

    I can't honestly put my finger on just one single reason for why I pick this book for my next read because it was several things: recommendation from fellow readers, the blurb, being in the mood for a darker story, love for fantasy? All the above most definitely. It was a wonderful reading journey for me drawing me in from the start and engaging the gamut of my emotions. I must add a caution though that for some this will be a difficult read. I am on the tender-hearted side so I admit to being squeamish about some scenes from the beginning of the book that involve non-consent/slave stuff and later there is one really horrific torture. It all fit within the context of the story and was told from the perspective of the fogged, crazed mind of the victim so wasn't as clear as it could have been, but it was definitely harder for me to read. The story like many high fantasies involves a few different people groups with human being just one of them. It opens with a fae-type forest dweller, Yhalen, who has accompanied his grandfather as part of delegation to meet with the other peoples of the south regarding the growing threat of the ogres coming down from the north. Yhalen and his two friends are not comfortable in cities so they wait outside the city in a nearby forest and that is when his young life changes irrevocably. Yhalen and his friends are attacked by ogres. His friends are killed, but Yhalen runs. He is captured when he comes back to check on his friends. The group of ogres keep him alive doing unspeakable things to him and then leave him to die. But though he is mostly dead, Yhalen's will to live and his affinity to the magic of the earth allow him to draw strength from the earth and he survives only to be kept captive and brought back to a larger group of ogres encamped in the vicinity. All this time, because there is a language barrier, Yhalen has no idea what is his fate. He is taken and given to a smaller ogre who has more human features. He can't help, but notice the oppressed human slaves working around the camp. He figures out that this is to be his fate. And it is to a certain extent, but Yhalen's task is not that of menial labor, but that of a sex slave because of his beautiful features unlike the humans from the north that he is amongst. One of the humans shares with him that his master is Bloodraven, a half-ogre and commander of this group, who is not as cruel as the others. Yhalen doesn't feel his luck until he witnesses a few examples of what the other ogres do and their vicious behavior. Yhalen is determined that he will not be broken like the rest and he will escape this nightmare. All the while, he is terrified of what consequences amongst his people, his own misuse of power when he healed himself in the forest will bring. Bloodraven is enamored with his new little human slave, but he is suspicious of why his personal enemy has given him such a wonderful gift. Ogres are not known for kindness or any other redeeming qualities to human way of thinking. They respect strength and they go for what they want and need with that being about it. Bloodraven soon discovers that his human is a great deal of trouble and is revealed to be much more than he seems. There is the temptation always to rid himself of the troublesome human, but something always stays his hand. And that weakness as the ogres think of it is what takes the half-ogre and his human slave on many adventures together with the biggest adventure of all that tentative thing that grows between them that they both fight not to feel. As I said, this plot gets a bit sticky with harshness, but there is just something about the word building, the characters, and the story line itself. At first, I thought the story would be entirely from Yhalen's point of view, but then I was delightfully surprised when it started switching back and forth with Bloodraven's perspective. The two come from utterly different worlds and ways of thinking. There is romance in this story, but it begins with brutal sex and only slowly becomes anything else. I love the spunk that both these heroes show when they face bald face realities. As a slave, Yhalen must adjust to his loss of freedom and what he can make of things. As a half-ogre, Bloodraven is despised by both races that make up his blood, but with the ogres he must always fight not to be worse than a slave and he earns his rank as war leader. I liked the fact that they learn to see something in each other when understanding starts to come. So it was a good, strong fantasy adventure with slow to build romance that will not appeal to everyone because of its darker nature.
  • Chasing Sam (Vegas Mates, Book 1) (Novella) on Feb. 20, 2013

    A werewolf shifter story? A hunt to the death? This book sounded appealing to me just from reading the blurb and I wasn't disappointed. I love encountering unique paranormal romance lore and Krystal Shannan delivered with this extraordinary take on the werewolf mate bond ritual. It was a dash of fated mate with a bit of something darker or more dangerous. An unwitting Samanatha Demakis returns home from school for the holidays only to be confronted by her noble werewolf family's time honored tradition of arranged mating for each female who attains the age of twenty-five. Sam wants nothing to do with the ritual, but her parents give her no choice. There is a ray of hope however in the form of Chase Michaels. Chase comes from a commoner werewolf family, but it is the fact that he is a rarity. Chase is Sam's mate. The weary soldier has come home for the holidays too and after all, but giving up hope he scents his fated mate in the airport. He wants his mate and will not let the archaic rituals of the nobility in the form of this mate hunt stop him from claiming Sam. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against him even before the hunt to the death even begins. The plot was tight and moved along well providing background, character development and action all in this short exciting read. I really liked Chase and found myself rooting hard for this handsome underdog and Sam was likeable too with how hard she fought for a chance at a true bonding and a life that wouldn't slowly smother her. The story ended quick with a few unanswered questions for me, but I assume this will be teased out in the other books in the series. It was a fantastic beginning to a new to me series. I recommend it to paranormal romance fans who either need or enjoy a shorter story that still packs a punch for both action and passion.
  • Tarnished Knight on April 15, 2013

    I couldn't believe my luck when I no sooner finished the first story in the series than I found out about this novella free at Smashwords. On top of that news, I discovered that this is really two stories not just one. Yummo! The first story gives two minor characters in 'Kiss of Steel' their chance at romance and happiness. Rip puts up blocks faster than Esme can tear them down, but she is determined. He thinks he's nothing special and now that he's been infected with the virus and a blue blood he is afraid that he will accidentally lose control with her so he pushes Esme away while maintaining silence that she takes as a signal that he doesn't wish to be more than friends. With a little Christmas hope and the meddling of friends along with a dash of danger from the Slashers who are snatching women in Whitechapel for their blood, they might get past their problems. I enjoyed seeing this couple get their chance and I was frustrated along with Esme though I completely understood where Rip was coming from. Esme is a great character and I loved how she looked past the surface stuff and saw the beautiful soul inside Rip. However, I should admit that she likes the exterior package too. They were great together and I hope they get some face time in the rest of the series. It was neat to get a glimpse of many of the characters. The second story is really a short teaser piece that acts as a transition for the second novel that makes Lena and Will the main characters. It ends on an ominous note for a few different plot threads. While I was sad to see what was happening, I enjoyed the snapshot at where things are leading and look forward to book two.
  • Tales From the SFR Brigade on Sep. 17, 2013

    Being a Sci-Fi Romance lover like I am, I was salivating for the opportunity to read a sampling of so many 'new to me' authors in the genre. Usually with a short story anthology it is a bit hit or miss and I was prepared for this contingency, but holy guacamole!!! They were all big hits with me and I will most assuredly be hunting down more of these author's efforts. As I started reading, I encountered the forward letter explaining the way this anthology came about. It's a nice little story of its own. A few authors of similar genre came together and that built to a huge network of them who now call themselves the Science Fiction Romance (SFR) Brigade. And some of these folk in turn have turned their talents toward this sampler. Another cool thing about the book is that after each story concludes there is a short piece about what inspired the story. I have a nosy nature and like to know stuff like that so I found the little extra bit along with the author's bio appealing. Okay, now that I've danced around the stories for a little while, let's get to it. There are eight stories that range in length from short shorts to a shorter novella. I do not plan to do full reviews on each story, but I'll give a few thoughts. Each story is a different facet to Sci-Fi Romance and it was fun getting something different with each tale. The first story, Imprint, is about a female thief and the Space Marshall who tracks her and brings her to justice. It was a nice romp that pitted the hero and heroine against each other in an enemies to lovers romance. Second story, Allure, is a military romance where a young couple has only one night before the man jumps on his rocket shuttle and heads off to war. This is one of the shortest stories that doesn't have much development time, yet is still rather engaging. Then Nobody's Present was an alien romance where a female scientist gets all her dreams of space travel and using her skills come true in a unique way. I was a bit confused about the alien backstory, but still enjoyed the main plot just fine. The other really short story was The Stranger. I really wished this one could have had more time to develop. It felt like I was jumping into the story right at the tale end. It was a really poignant piece for all that in that a female resistance fighting captain searches out the last remaining bonded humans who were separated in the war to get them off planet to a free planet where hopefully they can find their bondmate. She has never stopped looking for her long lost bond mate. Mission Nam Selon is a part of a series and was more novella length. I had no trouble reading this one as a standalone, but I really liked the characters and am dying to know their backstory in the full-length novel that introduced the series. It's an ongoing romance between a Captain in a freedom fighting group and a cyborg who defected from the Triad group who are trying to conquer everyone. They have to part for separate missions and there is worry over potential danger that does indeed come to fruition. Prime Sensations was a second chance romance when a captured woman who was made a slave suddenly comes face to face with the lover who left her behind to the enemy three years before. All was not what it seemed and now they can start over if she can learn to trust again. Envy's Revenge was a unique piece told in first person of a girl who is a survivor. The planet was ravaged by a horrible disease that took mostly the women and then it all degenerated into war and isolated city states vying for power. Life is hard and brutal and she just wants to remain free. Things change when a a mech hunter comes for her. The final entry was a western that could have been set in space, parallel earth or a future earth. Not sure, but its got the saloon, the gamblers, dance hall girls, bartender, gunslingers and the show down to prove it. So all in all, this was one of my best experiences with an anthology and I loved experiencing each unique piece that ranged in heat from sweet to spicy when it came to the romance. Sci-Fi Romance lovers should definitely pick this one up.
  • Unabridged on Aug. 19, 2014

    A quick, sultry, second chance romance that all began with a magazine editorial on the 'Fifty Shades of Gray' phenomenon. This was a romantic comedy of sorts though it was liberally flavored with suspense to make things interesting. Each time I pick up a book by this author I am guaranteed an engaging story with scintillating characters and a crisp plot with this book being no exception. This standalone story opens with Angelina Jameson rushing into her boss' office with a new article she wishes put in the next edition of the magazine clutched in her hand only to find that she has a new boss. And that's not all. The new boss is none other than Blade Spencer, the man she loved and left three years before. Blade is entirely professional even as he is skeptical about printing her critique on 'Fifty Shade' and when he announces that there will be significant changes at the magazine. Angie has no idea what to make of this or the instant return of attraction and longing she thought was long buried. Blade's sudden appearance sends Angelina reeling and uncertain of what to do especially since they exchange a heated kiss not long before she learns that Blade has a wife. She must get away and think. Her friend and mother thought Blade being there was a second chance, but the presence of a wife kills that hope. That is until Blade himself shows up at the cottage where she is staying determined that they talk through their past. Sorting through their past mistakes is only the beginning and someone else isn't too keen on these two ever getting together. I was intrigued by this latest story the author wrote narrated entirely by the heroine because it was a bit of something different. The pacing was quick and plotting was tight and sharp so that the story didn't pause and got right to the point. I loved that it was pretty much angst-free and the author didn't create drama for drama's sake which is why the resolve in the romance coming as quick as it did wasn't so much of a bother (not to mention this was a reunion and not a new pairing). The tone and atmosphere were the biggest differences as this one was solidly contemporary rom com and suspense minus the paranormal element of other stories. I will say that it also had a women's fiction-feel with the themes brought forward by Angie's opinion in her article on women and BDSM fiction. The lighter Romantic Comedy side made me laugh several times with Angelina's hilarious correspondence partner and that twist in the beginning when she comes face to face with her past right when she's clutching a critique of an erotic romance series and has to discuss it. Then the story adds other emotional flavors like the bittersweet-ness of their reunion and dealing with their past along with the welcome addition of a mystery. When I say bittersweet, I refer to the fact that Angie has to come to grips with the fact that she left a man she loved and who loved her with no explanation and then when they do come back together she finds that he tried to continue on with his life. I was glad for this added layer of emotional and realistic depth because otherwise things would have been just a bit too pat between these two. But that being said, the passion was scorching hot between Angie and Blaze and I enjoyed the lighter atmosphere created by their second attempt at romance too. And hey, it doesn't hurt that these two have enviable careers in the book industry and share a love for a stray cuddly kitten. The suspense was foreshadowed earlier in the story, but it was really the last half where it came to the surface. I enjoyed playing detective even though this wasn't the primary focus of the story. I enjoyed the addition of the secondary characters particularly Angie's best friend and her mom. Her best-friend just made me smile whenever she was in a scene. All in all, this was a quick, satisfying read that I can recommend to Contemporary Romance or light Romantic Suspense fans that enjoy some extra spice to their romance. My thanks to the author for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Rendezvous With Hymera on Aug. 19, 2014

    I confess that I like all types of paranormal romance including the old tried and true ones with our beloved vamps and weres, but once in a while I want a read that's something not in the ordinary way. When I read the blurb on this one, I thought aha, this might fit the bill. And I really couldn't resist those teaser references to yoga and The Philadelphia Experiment tying in with this story. The story opens with Clara and her canine pal on vacation and discovering the serene lake and rental cottages that just drew her in from the beginning. She encounters the quirky landlady and the other cottage inhabitants that are a young couple who commute to the city for work and an older sorrow-filled man. Clara settles in, but soon odd things start to happen that raises the hairs on her arms and runs chills down her spine even Tony her dog is affected. Did she get too much wine at the party she wonders? During an excursion into town, Clara has a reunion of sorts with her high-school crush, Collin. She was really into him and he seemed a bit into her, but things didn't work out then. Now they are adults and have their careers as writer and journalist. It seems their timing is now because they are immediately attracted and comfortable with each other. Clara tells Collin of her unnerving experiences and instead of scoffing, he keeps an open mind. It is while he comes to stay with her that something else happens to convince them both that they have had an up close and personal with the paranormal. Collin has always cared for Clara and was disappointed never to get his chance with her in the past, but he grabs this opportunity with open arms. Now that odd things are happening around Clara and the cottage by the lake he plans to be right there with her all the way until they solve the mystery. From the beginning, this story had a certain tone that was different and a pacing that was relaxed. For lack of a better way of describing it, it has an esoteric quality and is philosophical. There are discussions of the spiritual which is not unrelated since the deeper forms of yoga are a huge part of the plot. The longer discussion passages may or may not hold appeal. I didn't mind since I find that stuff interesting, but it does slow down the pace of the story to a crawl. There are no sharp spikes of action though Clara and Collin do give us some action between the sheets and things get moving when they start investigating their mystery. Speaking of Clara and Collin, I feel conflicted about them. On the one hand, I'm not a fan of flinging the love word around after only a day or two together, but on the other hand I really like them together and there is the fact that they knew each other in the past. I should point out that this is a short story so it has to develop quickly whether its the romance or the other storyline. Then, I can't not mention two unusual secondary characters, Tony and Morris. Tony is Clara's dog and Morris is Collin's cat. They were the comic relief. My favorite scene was most definitely the epilogue. It was so adorable. I'm glad it was tagged on to tie things up so neatly. All in all, I enjoyed this unique shorter story and would recommend it to those who enjoy their paranormal romances spicy with a touch of mystery.
  • Dante's Amulet (Coriola, book 2) on Aug. 19, 2014

    I read the first book in this series and was intrigued by Linda's brother, Giovanni, so I was thrilled when I got a chance to continue on and read Giovanni's own story. Successful, Italian businessman, Giovanni Coriola is in London just before the Christmas holidays for his sister's wedding. He decides to practice his gun marksmanship skills so signs up for sessions with a target-shooting specialist and trainer, Sonia Galsworthy. He is impressed by her skill and attracted to her immediately. Sonia is very good at what she does and is slightly defensive when she has to constantly defend her chosen vocation. She is not the domestic sort and can't imagine herself in a situation with home, husband and children. She likes her life and is content until handsome and hot Giovanni not only accepts her as she is, but wants to be with her. Sonia knows he must be popular with the ladies and will want nothing permanent so she accepts his presence in her life knowing there is an expiration date on it when Linda gets married and Giovanni goes home. Only, she's wrong because the man she has come to love claims to love her back and wants something lasting. Now she must decide whether she'll take Giovanni at his word and trust that he cares for her as much as she has come to care for him. It was fascinating how the two stories took different tones and reflected somewhat the feel of the personality of the characters. Giovanni's story was more incisive, heated and grittier with less of an enchanted feel though there is a bit of the inexplicable to it as well when it comes to the amulet. Giovanni's love interest matched him well too. Sonia was independent, capable and somewhat set apart from life until she encountered Giovanni. Their romance sparked and flamed quickly. They were thinking of hearts, love, and long term before several days had passed. Love at first sight and fast commitments are a bit of a stretch for me, but I went with it because I was enjoying the story. These two came together with a great deal of heat and passion reflecting their strong personalities. Things weren't all ease though because Sonia has preconceived notions about what type a person she thinks Giovanni is and Giovanni has to learn that he now has a partner when tough times come. The story was told in two parts with the romance developing in the beginning section giving the story a gentle pacing and then it continued in the latter half as it was no longer isolated, but set into the greater circle of family and daily life. The second half was augmented by the suspense element too that got pretty exciting and picked up the pace with danger stalking them from an unknown source. All in all, I enjoyed all the elements put together in this story: characters, backdrop, and plot. I would recommend it for those who enjoy Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense with a slight paranormal element to it. My thanks to the author for providing the book in exchange for an honest review.
  • Mirage Beyond Flames (Coriola, book 1) on Aug. 19, 2014

    I have read this author's work before and liked it so it was with anticipation that I grabbed up this book. This story offers up a unique experience as far as I was concerned. I loved reading a story that was partially set in Romania and was written by a Romanian author. The paranormal aspect was unique as far as that genre goes too. This wasn't about a vampire, werewolf, demon or any other popular paranormal creature. It was about an inexplicable experience. The crisp, clean writing style set the tone for that experience to appear all the more mysterious. The story flows gently with spikes of action, but the crisis point comes unexpectedly. It was an engaging read. Gerard Leon is a Frenchman and a doctor living in London. He works at a children's cancer clinic where he works on cancer cures. He has found a promising method for one type of cancer and the treatment has been moderately successful. One day, he enters the clinic to find a beautiful woman sitting down and playing with the patients. He recognizes her as the famous Italian sculptress and recent divorcee, Linda Coriola. His heart is warmed to see that she really cares about the kids and isn't just making a publicity visit to look good as a big donor for the clinic. She is so beautiful and he is smitten. Linda is gun-shy around men after her experiences with her Ex and growing up with her parents splitting up and both remarrying. She has determined to keep her heart locked away and maintain her independence. But the handsome Frenchman doesn't seem to be taking the hint each time she pulls away. Not that she fights too hard when he takes her for ice cream to a cute cafe and talks to her of his work, when he visits hers home and is eager to know her and seems so appreciative of each moment they spend together. Gerard knows that Linda is holding back and he re-doubles his effort to show her that his love is real. They visit his mother and aunt, he goes with her to her art exhibition where they run into her Ex, and then they share that unforgettable adventure in Romania when she accompanies him to check out a doctor-friend's research idea and end up brushing up against the paranormal. But then a misunderstanding takes place and Gerard is finally convinced to let her go. This was a love at first sight story, but the relationship is not that simple. The hero is open and strong with his feelings and commitment. The heroine is fearful and tentative. I admit to getting frustrated with her several times. I will excuse her a little by admitting that her ex-husband did a real number on her psyche, but only a little because Gerard gave this relationship his all. Not really sure what he could have done differently to convince her. That being said, I enjoyed their love story. I enjoyed that they appreciated each other's talents and shared the same cause when it came to the cancer. The domestic scenes were cute in their homes, his mother's home and his friend in Romania's home. Their passion was tender and sweet. And you know that no matter how slow the relationship took, there was no problem with the physical- not with a Frenchman and an Italian woman as the love interests. It's a little spicy, but not full on description. The author did a good job giving readers a scorching hot hero to appreciate in Gerard who has that attractive French accent, flirty good-nature, smoldering passion for Linda, bold green eyes and dedication toward his work. What's not to love there, right? The paranormal aspect of the story was very enchanted forest stuff taking place in the Romanian version of the Bermuda Triangle. I enjoyed the feeling I had reading this portion. And speaking of Romania, it was fun experiencing their adventure as the scenery, food, history and people were described. It wasn't pedantic because it was all viewed through Gerard and Linda's eyes. To sum up, this is a nice refreshing change for a paranormal romance that I would recommend to those who like a little something different now and then in that genre and don't mind things light on the paranormal and more sweet than spicy on the romance. My thanks to the author for providing the book in exchange for my honest review thoughts.