e_ bookpushers


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Smashwords book reviews by e_ bookpushers

  • Hidden Talents on July 27, 2011

    This review will be posted on The Book Pushers website on Friday 29 Jul. Here is the URL: http://thebookpushers.com/2011/07/29/review-hidden-talents-by-emma-holly/
  • The Assassins' Lover on Aug. 29, 2011

    This review will be published on www.thebookpushers.com on Wed 31 Aug 11 complete with links and cover images. One of my favorite series by Emma Holly involves so-called demons so I was extremely pleased when THE ASSASSINS’ LOVER was ready for review. I am going to start with a few background notes since this is the seventh story set in this particular world. It follows three connected novels and three separate short stories. You do not have to read the others first, but they will give you a deeper understanding of the world, and one side character for THE ASSASSINS’ LOVER was introduced in PRINCE OF ICE (Book 3). These demons aren’t -- as you might view them -- from a religious standpoint but they are a genetically separate, although human based, race called demons by the first Victorian era explorers to encounter them after generations of separation. To themselves and as a more politically correct form of address, they are the Yama. The Yama culture appears to be loosely based on the Japanese culture during their era of Shoguns and samurai. During the Yama current day they also possess a great many modern mechanical and otherwise inventions along with a great skill and interest in genetic engineering. I also really liked how Ms Holly didn’t fall into the sadly overused trope of a genetic match which means HEA. Yes genetic matches are required for procreation in the Yama ruling class, but she never used that as the end all be all. Some of them deal with human and Yama interaction as a primary theme while others focus mainly on internal Yama society. Links to her website regarding her previous stories are included at the bottom of this review. THE ASSASSINS’ LOVER is one that focuses primarily on the Yama. “In the alternate Victorian earth the Yama live in, secrets are tantamount. This supposedly demonic race doesn't believe in letting out emotions—or in giving their hearts away. Assassin-guards Ciran and Hattori were bred to live by that code, until Hattori's too-moral twin is imprisoned, and Ciran falls in love with the grieving man. Both have illegally altered genes that heighten sexual needs, making those needs a challenge for anyone else to satisfy. Theirs would be a match made in heaven, if only Hattori’s heart could stretch that extra inch toward Ciran. Katsu Shinobi isn’t your typical demon princess. As tender-hearted as she is lovely, she seems an unlikely match for these dangerous men—until they receive orders to kill her. None of them can forget the erotic interlude they once shared . . . or give up the chance to build a lasting future, together.” This blurb came from Amazon.com I enjoyed reading THE ASSASSINS’ LOVER and can’t help but to think that a sequel will be written. I will go into why I think that a little while later. Ms Holly weaves some interesting threads in her latest release including how seemingly isolated events can have a major impact on the future, the lengths a person will go for family loyalty or gain, and that ménages like any other relationship take work to succeed. She also moves back and forth in her timeline which I typically have a hard time following, but she was extremely clear on present and past flashbacks, and then when present moved forward. From the initial meeting and intense yet forbidden connection between Katsu, Hattori and Ciran, throughout the flashbacks of Hattori and Ciran’s earlier relationship and even when they rejoined Katsu, I could see the complexity of the characters and how very human their emotions were underneath their stoicism. Ciran fell in love with Hattori after Hattori’s twin Haro was imprisoned for refusing to obey an order. Hattori and Haro seemed to be two halves of a whole and had spent their lives guarding each other’s backs. Hattori would do anything possible to either get his brother back or to make his brother’s life in prison easier. Ms Holly includes an assassination assignment for Hattori that I initially thought was just to flesh out his character and to impress how dedicated he was to his brother as well as set the scene for the start of his life with Ciran. Let me tell you, that scene had a much deeper purpose, which was revealed further in the book. Several years later Hattori and Ciran were sent on a guard detail. There they met Katsu, temporarily exiled away from society, and spent the remainder of that summer in an ménage relationship. We only get to see the start of that relationship in real-time the rest is provided in flashbacks primarily from Ciran’s POV. Jumping forward about 15 years Hattori and Ciran are given a new target for assassination who just happens to be Katsu. Their reunion is when the majority of the character growth takes place as the three of them attempt to determine what to do, how to do it and oh by the way we can’t forget about Haro whose quality of life in prison depends on Hattori’s successful assignment completion. I won’t go any further so I don’t spoil this book for you except to say that once they have solved the problems mentioned above their relationship issues aren’t magically gone. They still have to work through communication issues, making sure one person isn’t left out, and dealing with the long term results of their solution. Remember how I stated in the beginning that I think Ms Holly will write a sequel to THE ASSASSINS’ LOVER? She has one character, Haro, who while not physically present in most of the book proved a driving force for several major events. You could almost say that without this character, Katsu, Ciran and Hattori would have never met. Despite Haro’s importance for this story he is not really fleshed out as a character, which is odd given Ms Holly’s typical writing style. When I look at that and add in the context of how one seemingly minor scene ended up playing a major role I will be looking for a sequel talking about Haro and his life in the near future. Once again I really enjoyed going back to the world of the Yama and found this book to be surprisingly complex. I look forward to more. As a side note having reviewed two of Ms Holly’s self published books, I wish more self-pubbed authors would take the obvious time and effort she has put in to release a quality product. I give THE ASSASSINS’ LOVER an A-
  • Hidden Depths on Jan. 11, 2012

    This will be posted on www.thebookpushers.com on 13 Jan 12. Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the author James and Olivia Forster have been happily married for many years. A harmless kink here or there spices up their love life, but they can’t imagine the kinks they’ll encounter while sneaking off to their beach house for a long hot weekend. Anso Vitul has ruled the wereseals for one short month. He hardly needs his authority questioned because he’s going crazy from mating heat. Anso’s best friend and male lover Ty offers to help him find the human mate his genes are seeking. To Ty’s amazement, Anso’s quest leads him claim not one partner but a pair. Ty would object, except he too finds the Forsters hopelessly attractive. I got this blurb from the author’s website here. Hidden Depths is the second in Ms Holly’s Hidden world following after Hidden Talents which I reviewed here. Unlike the majority of other series I read, which are set in the same world and have some reoccurring characters or events that provide continuity, this seemed much more of a standalone novel. Yes, it was set in the same world but dealt primarily with a different species and environment not to mention an entirely different theme. I will admit when I read the blurb and saw that this featured a married couple I had my doubts but I should have trusted that Ms Holly would make it work. Ms Holly does not pull any erotic punches with the main characters coming on scene and pretty quickly enjoying an intimate moment with their respective partner. Those encounters displayed not only what types of things the characters enjoyed but also the emotional trust and caring they had within their relationships. I think their caring relationships were the key that allowed the merging of the couples to work. If any individual had been less committed to their partner’s happiness I think the outcome would have been entirely different. I liked that while Ms Holly did use the ‘fated mate’ trope she did not use that trope as the final solution but as the reason for meeting. I also liked how both James and Olivia experienced what the wereseals could give them at the same time but in separate locations. That continued to keep them on an even level with their relationship with each other. The inclusion of several twists in this story helped elevate it above the increasingly more familiar multi-partner erotic romance. The woman scorned, while determined to get her own back, did not go down the typically well-worn path. As I mentioned earlier the idea of fated mates was not the ultimate answer. Ms Holly also did not make the focus of this as three close male friends/relatives all interested in sharing a single female but more about four people initially two separate couples building a relationship with each other. And then there was the setting…I have always be fascinated with the sea and this certainly fed my imagination. The wereseal world was full of some pretty intriguing creatures and seascapes. I wish we could have explored it and some of the wereseal culture a bit more. My only quibble is that it seemed some things were accepted a bit too easily not just by the main characters but by the entire ensemble as a whole. Aside from the group of dissenters, which included “the woman scored”, everyone else went along with and loved what James and Olivia brought to their world. I give Hidden Depths a B Links to purchase
  • The Night Shifters on Jan. 18, 2012

    Review originally published at: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/01/14/review-the-night-shifters-by-emily-devenport/ Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: From the Author “Hazel — Promise me you won’t give up on your dreams.” “I won’t, Mom!” Hazel swears, assuming Mom means that she should try to be whatever she wants to be, a doctor, or lawyer, or even a mermaid. Hazel is just nine, but she really means to keep that promise. Seventeen years later, she wonders if she’s broken it – or maybe just failed to fully realize it, because she hasn’t become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a mermaid. Or anything much, really. Yet, in one way, she has kept her promise — because Hazel is a Grand Champion Dreamer. When she’s asleep, she dreams a dazzling universe full of heroes and monsters, princesses and goddesses, cities and temples and gardens that make the most wonderful places on Earth seem dull in comparison. During the day, she does what she has to do to pay the bills. At bedtime, she turns in, confident that she will dream, and that the sun will come up in the morning. So on the evening of her last day, she embraces the night wholeheartedly and drifts into the universe of her imagination.
 But when the alarm goes off, she opens her eyes to darkness. The sun hasn’t come up, the world outside has become a City of Night, and the dwellers there are Night Shifters — gods and elves, daemons and djinns, dreamers and wizards. All of them have their own agendas, all of them are chasing Hazel, and as she fights to understand this world of dreams and her place in it, she can’t help remembering what her mother said. And she wonders. All those years ago, when she swore to never give up on her dreams, did she really understand what she was promising? This blurb came from Goodreads. Back when I was on an extremely limited budget – allowance from chores—and I had exceeded my parents’ pockets on books from the bookstore, exceeded the library’s weekly checkout limit I lived for the Friends of the Library semi-annual book sales. We were members which meant we would show up early help organize them and get to shop a day before everyone else. Those sales provided my introduction to I don’t remember how many authors. One of the books I found was called Larissa and happened to be by Emily Devenport. I really enjoyed reading it and often wished I could find any other books by Ms Devenport, this was also during the heyday of Usenet and BBS (Bulletin Board System) so I didn’t have the capability of finding her website on the internet like we can today. When we were contacted with a review request for The Night Shifters I liked the premise of the book and thought the author’s name sounded familiar, so I did a little research, found out it was the same author and leaped on the chance. Ms Devenport created an extremely vivid sort of world that reminded me of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Neil Gaimen’s Neverwhere while containing some unique twists. As Hazel explores the City of Night she is faced with some interesting characters, choices and things that aren’t quite right. In the process she learned a lot about herself, her values and who she really was. I enjoyed watching Hazel triumph over some of her old fears and start paying attention to her instincts instead of what other people told her. While the story as a whole flowed some of the scenes didn’t quite match up. I admire Ms Devenport’s use of that technique because it was very similar to how different scenes in a dream don’t necessarily appear to go together while you are experiencing it. I felt that added to the overall atmosphere in the City of Night. It was also interesting to see how characters continue to show up and morph according to the scene again making it more dreamlike. Unfortunately, while well written, I really struggled finishing The Night Shifters. Ms Devenport happened to hit a button I didn’t know I had which caused me to remember some of my neverending dreams that weren’t exactly nightmares but were not comfortable either. As a result I was never able to settle down and just enjoy. Just as a side note I wasn’t able to get into Alice in Wonderland or Neverwhere either. I give The Night Shifters a C+
  • Hidden Crimes on June 18, 2012

    This review will go live here http://thebookpushers.com/2012/06/19/review-hidden-crimes-by-emma-holly/ tomorrow the 19th of June. Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: ARC from the author Cats and dogs aren’t supposed to fall in love. Like any wolf, RPD detective Nate Rivera knows this. He can’t help it if the tigress he’s been trading quips with at the supermarket is the most alluring woman he’s ever met—sassy too, which suits him down to his designer boots. Evina Mohajit is aware their flirtation can’t lead to more. Still, she relishes trading banter with the hot werewolf. This hardworking single mom hasn’t felt so female since her twins’ baby daddy left to start his new family. Plus, as a station chief in Resurrection’s Fire Department, she understands the demands of a dangerous job. Their will-they-or-won’t-they tango could go on forever if it weren’t for the mortal peril the city’s shifter children fall into. To save them, Nate and Evina must team up, a choice that ignites the sparks smoldering between them . . . This blurb came from the author’s website here. When I received the request for a review from Ms Holly, I did not have to think twice before decided to accept because as I have stated in previous reviews she is one of my favorite erotic authors. Then when I read the blurb and realized that with this installment of her Hidden series, third after Hidden Talents and Hidden Depths, she was returning to the city of Resurrection I had to start reading immediately. I found it to be a lot of fun to revisit Resurrection and see what was happening with the werewolf pack introduced in Hidden Talents . In this particular installment things aren’t exactly running smoothly for the werewolves. Professionally they are still working hard as the police force but on a more personal or should I say internal pack level things were slightly unsettled. One of the wolves, Nate, wasn’t comfortable in his pack position anymore. He knew he wasn’t Alpha and didn’t want to try to become Alpha but he kept having issues with the respect he owed his Alpha, Adam, (the hero of Hidden Talents). It wasn’t an issue of poor leadership Nate just had to continue almost challenging Adam every time they were around each other. After encountering a horrific crime scene and arguing with Adam about pursuing a clue that had nothing to do with their current case he decided to go grocery shopping to let off some steam. Adam is what you would call a metro-sexual if a werewolf could be one. He likes nice things and will save until they are available rather then just get something to fit the needed purpose. And he also likes women, a lot. The particular supermarket he prefers is high-end and affords him with lots of chances to flirt with the ladies old, young, species indiscriminate although he does lighten the message when it involves non-wolves. One of the ladies he usually flirts with is a tiger shifter who happens to run a fire-station. It was interesting to see how the tigers had the fire department and the wolves had the police department. Makes for an interesting rivalry. Elvina, the tigress, is a single parent raising her twins with the help of her mother. Her son was responsible for providing cupcakes for the monthly birthday celebration in his class so she was making a late night trip to go buy them when she ran into a Nate who was not his usual self. She decided to see what was going on and from there Nate asked her to help him check out the crime scene. Apparently Tigers are good at astral projection and the one who was usually on call for the police was taking a well-deserved vacation. Elvina agrees to help and that really starts their transition to lovers. I enjoyed both the hero and heroine a lot. They were complete separately and when they finally matched up it was amazing. The supporting characters also helped flesh out the story and were more then just window dressing. The issues with cross-species trust let alone a cross-species romance were also dealt with quite nicely. Things were all rainbows and hearts but took some working and adjusting from all parties. The clandestine investigation that Nate and Elvina were conducting and the investigation that the police department had been working were intermingled nicely within the threads of the romance. They helped to build external and internal conflict. I can’t say what happened with the investigations, how Nate and Elvina managed to work out their romance, or even how Nate settles his position within the werewolf pack with out some massive spoilers. I will say that this is a romance and to trust the author to make it all work without seeming too convenient. Since this is a book written by Emma Holly the smex will be erotic grin. Ms Holly is one of a few authors whose self-published works I find to be more polished then a lot of the work coming out of traditional publishing. It makes a huge difference knowing that I will not be jerked from the story due to an error that should have been caught during the editing process. I wish more self-published authors would continue in this trend. Hidden Crimes is a very entertaining complete story. I loved returning to Resurrection and I hope we get more set in that city. It is extremely complex and each installment has revealed more about this world and its inhabitants. I give Hidden Crimes an A
  • The Billionaire Bad Boys Club on Dec. 09, 2012

    This review will be published on the 11th here: http://wp.me/p2iLPB-3jA Publisher: Self Published Publish Date: Out Now How I got this book: From the author Successful businessmen Zane and Trey have been a club of two since they were eighteen. They’ve done everything together: play football, fall in love, even get smacked around by their dads. The only thing they haven’t tried is seducing the same woman.

Executive chef Rebecca learned early not to count on anyone. She raised her younger brothers by herself—with no adult being the wiser. Her knack for professional cooking kept the boys housed and fed. Now she’s damned if it won’t pay their way through Harvard as well. Add in running Trey’s new restaurant, and her plate is too full for romance.

That’s an attitude the bad boys intend to change. Zane and Trey have set their sights on the sexy chef, a female too tantalizing to be all work and no play. When their hearts enter the equation, and when they realize they’re both pursuing her, the committed twosome faces their hardest test of all . . . This blurb came from the author’s website here. I have been a fan of Holly’s for several years. She was my introduction to contemporary erotica and erotic romance and I have enjoyed reading her ever since. As a result, I eagerly accepted the review request and I am glad that I did. Holly provided a very intense m/m/f that actually dealt with some of the emotional issues I could imagine popping up that include jealousy, uncertainty about being loved, and the importance of privacy. Holly handled all of those with her usual deft ability drawing me into her characters and their struggles and providing a satisfying ending without cheapening what the characters have gone through. Zane and Trey, next-door neighbors, don’t have the happiest of lives when the book opens. They both grew up with only their abusive fathers providing the initial thread that tied them together. The second thread was their individual bisexuality and the third thread was their mutual attraction and compatibility. From there they developed a strong friendship that included attending the same prestigious university and continuing their relationship. Both Zane and Trey enjoyed sexual encounters with women but they never developed a relationship with them and they never involved another man. As Zane and Trey approached college graduation over lunch one day they decided to go into business together as full partners in a venture called the Bad Boys Club that was going to start with a magazine and expand from there. Ten years later the Bad Boys Club had grown into a billion dollar enterprise. Rebecca also grew up with a troubled home life. After her mother died when she was a teenager, her father walked out and told Rebecca to call the state so they could take her two younger brothers. Instead of doing that, she worked to keep her brothers so they could be a family without outside interference. One of the skills she learned she had one morning was the ability to create really good food, so she became a chef. She was working as a lunchtime waitress when she encountered Zane and Trey as they decided to start the Bad Boys Club. Both men were attracted to her but nothing went further than a very nice tip at the end of the meal. Ten years later Rebecca has quit her job and decided to apply as the head chef for Trey’s new restaurant. I really enjoyed that Zane and Trey had a complete relationship together without Rebecca. Unlike other ménages that can give the impression that the couple isn’t complete without a third person they just haven’t met yet, Holly did not fall into that trap. Rebecca happened to be the perfect woman for both men but they did not need her to be complete. They had to decide to open their relationship, which meant they had to deal with being human. Zane and Trey had to learn how to be comfortable sexually with each other in Rebecca’s presence. Rebecca also had to learn that she wasn’t displacing or coming in between what the two men already had. They were not able to solve their issues overnight but had to actually work on it over time. To me, the gradual build-up of the emotional side of their relationship added credibility to their ménage. Rebecca, Zane and Trey also had to deal with having their painful pasts brought up into the very public eye along with their current relationship. While I felt for the three of them and how their privacy was both invaded and violated, I absolutely loved how they got theirs back. It took a concerted effort from all three, plus Rebecca’s brothers and their friends. Those events also had the effect of solidifying their relationship and commitment to each other, which really made my heart melt. I would be doing a disservice to this review if I did not mention the sexual side of the relationship. While I was not exactly happy with the timing and location of Rebecca’s first sexual encounter with Trey I do like how it was handled afterward. I also agreed with Rebecca’s logic about continuing anything with Trey. I was glad to see that Zane also had his chance with Rebecca so when they initiated their first threesome everyone was on the same level. Holly always does a good job with her descriptions not just of the actions but the emotions involved and conveyed. Even in their sexual encounters Holly ensured that the level of comfort and trust in their emotional relationship was also depicted before, during and after the physical actions. I think the best part of the sexual side is that Holly did not leave out m/m loving because Trey and Zane had a committed relationship before Rebecca. To have ended those encounters would have completely lost my buy-in for their relationship and the chance for a HEA. As I said in my status update when I finished reading The Billionaire Bad Boys Club, Holly has done it again. She provided me with a very satisfying complete story that had damaged protagonists healing themselves over time. They dealt with their past and looked forward to their future. They also exhibited very human emotional concerns throughout their relationship that provided a solid ground to keep me invested. Holly continues to be one of my auto-buy authors. I give The Billionaire Bad Boys Club an A
  • Winter's Tale on March 24, 2013

    Joint review originally published here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/03/20/joint-review-winters-tale-hidden-3-5-by-emma-holly/ Probably 3.5 stars Publisher: Self-published Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author Something sexy is afoot at Rackham’s School for Young Ladies Half-faerie, half-elf Hans Winter broke the heart of the wrong princess. Cursed to live as a statue at a school for human girls, only true love—and true bravery—can free him.

 December Worth never met a rule she didn’t want to break, as the numerous institutions that have expelled her can attest. Bravery she can handle. Love she’s less sure about, especially if it involves believing in fairytales.

 A kiss seems like the last thing these lonely souls would share, until one night in the cemetery where Hans stands trapped, Fate brings stone and flesh together . . . This blurb came from the author’s website. Has: I am a fan of Emma Holly’s books, because she can sure write erotic romance which are hot and very sexy. But I have to say I am really drawn to her fantasy erotic romances, because she combines imagination and heat in a delectable way. Winter’s Tale is set in her Hidden world, where the fae and other magical beings exist albeit hidden in the modern world. Winter’s Tale is a bit of a departure though because like the title suggests, it is more of a fairy-talesque take which has elements of other fairy-tales which I enjoyed. December Worth, is a young girl who is sent to live in a variety of boarding schools, because she rejects to be conventional from her more restrictive parents, And in the latest school she is sent to – she encounters a mysterious statue of a man who is be-spelled in a curse and he holds a promise of true love which she holds the key to unlocking. I found this was a cute and sexy read and I loved the fairy tale tone and feel of the story. I also liked December’s character, who was rebellious, snarky and fun and I wished this story was longer because I would have liked to see more of her in action. Winter’s Tale was also slightly different from Emma Holly’s other books, because it had a dreamy like quality and although I enjoyed the tone because it did fit the story really well. Although I wished there was a lot more expanding the plot, especially in developing the romance which was rushed for me. E: Like Has I have also been a huge fan of Holly for a very long time. She has the ability to provide a high heat level while developing her characters, their world, and carrying forward a plot. The combination of those things is what has kept her on my autobuy list. Holly does not shy away from including paranormal aspects or characters in her stories. Even when they are melded into a more familiar earth-like world she ensures that they are noticeably not human. The distinction makes her worlds even more solid to my imagination. Winter’s Tale is set in a different part of Holly’s Hidden series world and gave me a different perspective than that of the shapeshifters. While I enjoyed Winter’s Tale, I also wished it was longer. December’s character was so much fun. Watching her transform from spoiled, bored, too smart for her own good to someone who took fairy-tales so seriously that she risked her life was a lot of fun. I just wish it was more gradual. I really enjoyed December’s inner monologue because it provided a lot of insight into her character and why she could possibly be the one to break Hans’ curse. I also wanted to know what happened to some of the students and instructors, their pasts and futures because they seemed stuck at the school for a particular reason. I was really intrigued with this particular setting and saw the potential for some branches or just some fleshing out in the supporting cast I wanted a longer story. Has: I agree! I think there was huge potential for exploring that aspect. I liked the New Adult feel because it was very much about coming of age and exploring sexuality especially with December because she basically grew up and matured over the course of the book. But I was disappointed that this was glossed over because the back-story was interesting and even though fairy-tales have insta-love – I found it hard to believe that Hans and December had true love especially when it tied in with breaking of the curse, because of the story’s length which was so short. I would have also liked to see more of Han’s back story especially on how he got cursed and would have loved to see more of the fae world because it would have added more depth to the story. E: Yes I was more able to by December’s love because Hans was the first person who actually saw her value but I wasn’t as sold on Hans’ love. During his story to December while I understood that he had been wronged I wasn’t sure that his time as a statue taught him how to love. Hans was not in a very good position throughout most of the book but I did enjoy how he was able to use his mind to work with December to prove to her that he was real not just a dream. I also liked the fact that he valued December as more than a chance at freedom. He was also pretty intent on ensuring she enjoyed herself **grin** despite his years of frustration. Hans had some real potential as a character that I hope we get to see in a later book. Has: Yes! I found this was my main gripe about the story, because we never really got to see how he felt about her and when they were together, it was either facing danger or making love, and I would loved more of the emotional aspect being developed. And unlike December’s character which really stood out for me, I found Hans a tad undeveloped because I never got a real sense of his characterisation. But I think this was due to the short length of the story, and their scenes together was sizzling and I liked the underlying sweetness in the tone as well when he was with her. I think because there was so much promise and potential if this was expanded this would have been a stellar story. Overall, despite the short length and some undeveloped factors, I did enjoy Winter’s Tale, because it was a sweet romance with erotically charged scenes which added to the dreamy and fairy-talesque feel and tone. Which added a lush sexiness to the romance – I really hope we get to revisit those characters, because December stood out for me because she was such a fun heroine! I give Winter’s Tale a C+ E: Winter’s Tale provided a very entertaining glimpse into how capricious both humans and fae can be. It showcased December who was the poster child for difficult and let her shine. It had magic, conspiracy, hot smexytimes, the power of love, and a seriously creepy boarding school. I enjoyed reading Winter’s Tale even though I wish it was longer so I could have enjoyed the journey they characters took as they matured. Holly remains on my auto-buy list because she consistently delivers a story I can lose myself in regardless of the length. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next in her Hidden world. I give Winter’s Tale a B-
  • Hidden Dragons on Nov. 13, 2013

    Joint Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/10/07/joint-review-hidden-dragons-hidden-4-by-emma-holly/ Publisher: Self-published Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author Do you believe in dragons? Werewolf cop Rick Lupone would say no . . . until a dying faerie tells him the fate of his city depends on him. If he can’t protect a mysterious woman in peril, everything may be lost. The only discovery more shocking is that the woman he’s meant to save is his high school crush, Cass Maycee. Half fae Cass didn’t earn her Snow White nickname by chance. All her life, her refusal to abuse fae glamour kept men like Rick at arm’s length. Now something new is waking up inside her, a secret heritage her pureblood father kept her in the dark about. Letting it out might kill her, but keeping it hidden is no longer an option. The dragons’ ancient enemies are moving. If they find the prize before Rick and Cass, the supe-friendly city of Resurrection just might cease to exist. This blurb came from the author’s website. E: When I got a note from Holly letting me know about Hidden Dragons I had to say. I mean the combination of Holly, dragons, and her Hidden world and I couldn’t resist. As I have said previously I have enjoyed Holly’s writing for a very long time. I followed her from traditional to self-publishing and continue to have the same level of enjoyment. It is evident that she puts a lot of time and effort into ensuring that the published book is a very high quality and I appreciate that. It allows me to sink into the world, story, and characters without becoming distracted by administrative errors. Hidden Dragons goes back to Resurrection and the werewolf police team that started this series. I have enjoyed the different personalities within the pack and how they are slowly finding rather unusual partners. In this particular story a long hidden high school crush gets the opportunity to bloom under dangerous conditions. Has: I love the Hidden world, the characters and world-building that Holly created is rich and imaginative. So I also felt the same way when I heard that dragons were going to be featured in the next installment in this series. And oh how they added a fantastic tone to the story as well as highlighted the more fantasy elements of the series which was more paranormal in feel. The main couple, were also great! I loved that we got to see more of the Lupone brothers and Rick who is the main hero in this book really shines as the beta cop who finds himself protecting his high-school crush. While Cass who also reciprocated his feelings during school is a fun and intelligent heroine and I loved the moment when they both realised their feelings for each other which was very sexy and sweet. Emma Holly has a real gift with sensual scenes and the romantic tension between Cass and Rick was fantastic! E: Watching the unfolding of their relationship especially the realization that each had admired the other was a lot of fun. I also found myself intrigued by the mixture of legend, children’s tv/fairy tales, and what was actually happening. Holly also put an interesting twist on the dangers or benefits of accepting a gift from the fae. I thought Rick did a great job as a Beta hero by demonstrating the caring and also tenacious aspects of his personality. He was strong enough to protect but felt no need to have the monopoly on good ideas. At the same time he wasn’t going to let Cass get away with ignorance and refusing to acknowledge that she knew the answers to their problems. Cass was also an intriguing character. She had several other half-Fae friends that she was close to but she avoided any emotional or other entanglements with men. And yet despite that closeness she spent most of her adult life away from Resurrection, her home. She also never pushed her father for information or to involve himself more in her life. However, one of the things I didn’t like about her was that when she was stressed, she defaulted to using her fae glamour or power. The same power she used as an excuse to stay away from men. I am going to talk about that a little more later because I think it was an important plot thread. Has: I really like the emphasis and the details that Emma Holly gave to the reader, especially with the mythology of the fae such as lying which Cass experienced a backlash everytime she lied to herself or to others. The little details like this really cemented the world-building for me. And I liked that we learn more about the fae because in previous books, the fae were a race which appeared to be mysterious and enigmatic and I loved that we got more insight into their race and their origins in Resurrection. I really like Rick, because he was in the sense, a true protector without any of the alphaholish characteristics but I find that most of Holly’s characters especially her heroes, are more likable and well developed. I think for me, I wished there was more of a buildup to their realisation of their feelings and I would like to have seen more of their feelings before they commenced with their relationship because it was a bit sudden. I think with the way Cass dealt with her glamour and fae abilities was true to herself because it was something she used unconsciously. It was not till she was living on the Outside in the human world, she realised the impact and repercussions of her power especially on how she changed her ex-fiance. I thought that was an interesting aspect of her character and how tricky the fae can be. If she was more manipulative and selfish, it would have been a totally different story. I think I found her father’s agenda to be more problematic especially with the way he regarded Cass’ mother and the fallout over that relationship which was a huge price to pay. E: I agree I loved finding out about the origins of Resurrection and some of the people who lived there. I also understood Cass’ father’s agenda much more because his life, his family’s life was devoted to his particular rule. And he had to do everything he possibly could to fulfill his side of the bargain. Yes, I am deliberately on the vague side here so I don’t spoil a large portion of the book. I had much more of an issue when after everything Cass and Rick had been through she didn’t have any qualms about threatening to use her fae power on him if he didn’t agree to do what she wanted. For someone who professed to hate use her power on people and knew what it felt like to have someone use their power on her this was a huge shock. I also felt like she completely betrayed the trust that Rick had in her and only when she saw Rick’s reaction and that he had been formulating a plan that would accomplish what she wanted did she seem to understand the gravity of her actions. This struck me as the action of someone who needed to grow up a bit more. I don’t think she properly groveled and regained Ricks trust even though he professed to believe her when she said she had learned her lesson. I still felt that under stress she would revert back to using her power regardless of the consequences. Has: Oh I definitely agree with you about that aspect of Cass but I do think she had genuine reasons on why she did threaten to use her powers like that. But I liked that this was an interesting source of conflict between them and I think if she ever did do something like this then its a loss of trust and that would have damaged her relationship with Rick. And that would be irreparable. I do think they both realised that towards the end and it was a contrast with her parents and how they dealt with the impact of her father’s abilities. It is not easy to be with a fae who has powers that could glamour and manipulate the people around them. But I do think Cass sees this is important that she cannot rely or even use her powers subconsciously. E: Holly continues to provide entertaining reads. She also ensured the both the tension and stakes were high and continued to get higher as the story continued. One of my favorite scenes was when Cass decided to set boundaries on what she would and would not allow purebred Fae to do. She seemed to signify that they could no longer look down on and discount what half-Fae could accomplish. As I said earlier I did have some issues with Cass and her lack of groveling along with Rick’s acceptance. Yes, he did stay away from her for a while but I still wanted a stronger resolution. Overall, I enjoyed my visit back to Resurrection and spending time with the werewolf cops. I look forward to Holly’s next installment. I give Hidden Dragons a B. Has: I definitely agree that Emma Holly is a solid and entertaining author, and I continue to love each new story in the Hidden universe. While there was some issues with Cass and her father who I suspect might also be in the running for his own story in the future, I found the source of conflict was an interesting conundrum. The world-building was also fantastic and Emma Holly further develops the mythology about the mythical inhabitants in Resurrection. And Hidden Dragons definitely offers a different overtone in this ongoing series, which had a sweet and passionate romance which had great touches of humour! I also give Hidden Dragons a B!
  • Hidden Passions on Feb. 22, 2014

    Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2014/01/06/review-hidden-passions-hidden-7-by-emma-holly/ Publisher: Self Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author Sexy fireman Chris Savoy has been closeted all his life. He’s a weretiger in Resurrection, and no shifters are more macho than that city’s. Due to a terrible tragedy in his past, Chris resigned himself to hiding what he is—a resolve that’s threatened the night he lays eyes on cute gay cop Tony Lupone. 

 Tony might be a wolf, but he wakes longings Chris finds difficult to deny. When a threat to the city throws these heroes together, not giving in seems impossible. Following their hearts, however, means risking everything . . . This blurb came from the author’s website. Holly’s latest installment in her Hidden series takes place around the events of Hidden Dragons so you really should read Hidden Dragons first. In the first Hidden Story, Hidden Talents, Tony was introduced. He had recently come out to his pack and his pack-mates were trying to adjust to their new normal. It was great to see that as events in the Hidden world progressed Tony was pretty much fully accepted by his pack-mates, and they did their best to keep him safe, sometimes to the extent of making him feel left out of the loop. He was also feeling left behind in other areas because one by one they were mating but he did not have any prospects for even a steady date. Chris was introduced in Hidden Crimes as the beta of the weretiger pack. As a firefighter he almost died during a rescue attempt and it took the combined power of his alpha and a dominate member of the wolf pack, Adam, to ensure he healed properly. Usually the two species didn’t spend much time together but since the weretiger alpha mated Adam, the two will be in close proximity. This would be challenging enough but Holly included a few other elements; Chris is in the closet, there are some vocal homophobes in his crew, and Chris is seriously attracted to Tony. This particular installment pulled out the angst. Chris was not only dealing with his overwhelming attraction to Tony but PTSD from his most recent near death episode and a tragedy from his adolescence. In addition he was facing rumblings of discontent within the crew. As Beta, Chris’ job was to enforce as well as support his alpha but he was reluctant to physically smack down the dissenters for fear of taking it too far or overreacting due to his orientation. So he kept trying to fix it verbally while having a few hidden extremely hot encounters with Tony. As intense and caring as those encounters were, they also really shattered Tony’s heart because Chris kept walking away and would not acknowledge their connection. Each time that happened I could see Tony crumble and wonder why Chris refused to at least keep in contact after their mind-blowing sexytimes. Chris was also torn between his attraction to Tony, knowing he wasn’t treating Tony as he should, and the worsening atmosphere within his crew. I loved how Holly brought it all together and forced Chris and Tony to see what was important. Several key characters from Hidden Dragons were also crucial to the conclusion of this particular story. I can’t go into detail about the conclusion due to major spoilers for both stories but decisions were made, choices announced, happiness fought for, and the possibilities for an eventful life created. In Hidden Passions Holly has again expanded her world and created memorable characters. I enjoyed how the events in this story took place around Hidden Dragons because it very effectively made the world seem three-dimensional with events happening while life continued instead of events occurring in a vacuum. Watching Chris and Tony struggle with their relationship and acceptance from those around them was really heart-wrenching. I also loved how patient and caring Chris was during their sexytimes. The first time **fans self** was amazing and sweet at the same time. I am eagerly anticipating Holly’s next installment. I give Hidden Passions an A-