Review – A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L Armentrout

A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L Armentrout

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Series: Flesh and Fire #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: November 15, 2022

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blue Box Press.


SYNOPSIS

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes book two in her Flesh and Fire series…

The only one who can save Sera now is the one she spent her life planning to kill.

The truth about Sera’s plan is out, shattering the fragile trust forged between her and Nyktos. Surrounded by those distrustful of her, all Sera has is her duty. She will do anything to end Kolis, the false King of Gods, and his tyrannical rule of Iliseeum, thus stopping the threat he poses to the mortal realm.

Nyktos has a plan, though, and as they work together, the last thing they need is the undeniable, scorching passion that continues to ignite between them. Sera cannot afford to fall for the tortured Primal, not when a life no longer bound to a destiny she never wanted is more attainable than ever. But memories of their shared pleasure and unrivaled desire are a siren’s call impossible to resist.

And as Sera begins to realize that she wants to be more than a Consort in name only, the danger surrounding them intensifies. The attacks on the Shadowlands are increasing, and when Kolis summons them to Court, a whole new risk becomes apparent. The Primal power of Life is growing inside her, pushing her closer to the end of her Culling. And without Nyktos’s love—an emotion he’s incapable of feeling—she won’t survive her Ascension. That is if she even makes it to her Ascension and Kolis doesn’t get to her first. Because time is running out. For both her and the realms.


REVIEW

Nyktos and Sera must continue to work together in A Light in the Flame to help save the kingdom from what Sera knew her whole life as “the rot.” The fragile bond that Sera and Nyktos had in the previous book is all but shattered when this story continues. Those closest to Nyktos do not trust Sera and yet, Sera will do anything to help defeat the false King of Gods. But to do so – Nyktos and Sera must put aside their differences and try to work together. How can they do this when their trust is broken?

After reading and loving A Shadow in the Ember I could not wait to pick up where that book left off with Nykots and Sera. And gah how I love these two SO much. A Light in the Flame was full of so much angst and tension between Nyktos and Sera and I could not stop reading. There were so many occasions where I had tears in my eyes and my heart was so heavy on behalf of these two. I just want them to be happy and I love that even though they have their differences, they truly do care so much for one another.

I am addicted to Jennifer’s writing and seriously cannot wait for the next book in this series! Highly highly recommend.

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Review & Excerpt- Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance

Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #4

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: September 13, 2022 (reissue)

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

The ice planet has given me a second lease on life, so I’m thrilled to be here. Sure, there’s no cheeseburgers, but I’m healthy and ready to be a productive member of the small tribe.

What I didn’t anticipate? That there’d be a savage stranger waiting nearby, watching me. And when he takes me captive, the unthinkable happens… I resonate to him.

Resonance means mating, and children… but I don’t know if this guy’s ever been around anyone before. He’s truly a barbarian in all ways, right down to clubbing me over the head and claiming me as his own.

So why is it that I crave his touch and hunger for more?


REVIEW

I enjoyed Barbarian Mine! Harlow and Rukh’s story was not as fast moving as some of the others in the series, but we finally got to see a few(!) babies – yay! I ended up enjoying Barbarian Mine and am already looking forward to book 5!


EXCERPT

BARBARIAN MINE by Ruby Dixon

Berkley Trade Paperback | September 13, 2022

Excerpt

Harlow

I need two poles for a travois. Two. No problem. There’s got to be trees in the distance, and I’m strong and whole.

Okay. I can do this. I can.

Aehako’s instructions ring through my mind, over and over. We need to make a travois and take Haeden back to the healer. My heart races wildly in my chest as I sprint through the snow, looking for the thin, pink, wispy trees of this planet. Kira’s gone, and both aliens are wounded. They need my help, and I can’t let them down. I don’t know why they don’t go back to the alien ship and get healed. They don’t trust it, and I guess I understand that. I’m used to technology, and it still freaks me out to think of the cold, emotionless voice of the computer.

Also, I know what it’s like to fear the doctor.

My feet sink into the snow with each step, and my leather boots quickly become sodden. There’s no time to fix them or reinforce the insides with warm dvisti fur. Time is of the essence. I trudge forward over a drift-covered hill, and when I see the pink, wispy eyelashes of trees in the distance, I pick up the pace.

Almost there.

I have Haeden’s knife, since he’s too wounded to use it. The bone handle is smooth in my hand, though it’s a little too big for my human-sized palm to grip comfortably. Everything here on Not-Hoth is sa-khui sized. I’m a decent height for a girl, but the average person on this planet seems to be seven feet tall, and the snows are deep, the caves huge. Really, everything feels just a wee bit too big. It’s like I’ve been transported to a Goldilocks house, except instead of just right, everything’s too large.

It’s just one more thing I must adjust to in an endless stream of new and frightening things.

Weeks ago, I went to sleep in my own bed, and the biggest concern on my mind was when I’d start my chemo. Then, a few weird dreams later, I woke up, shivering and weak, pulled from a tube and told I’d been abducted by aliens.

Which would have been hard to believe except that I’d come from Houston, Texas, and my air conditioner had gone out, so I’d spent the evening sweating and praying the repairman would come by soon. When I’d woken up? It had been so cold my bare feet had stuck to the metal floors, and strange blue aliens occasionally entered to chat with the humans.

It’s hard to call someone a liar when they’re seven feet tall, blue, and horned. After seeing that, I had to believe. And even though sometimes I want to pinch myself until I wake up, I have to accept the fact that I’m now living on a snow planet with no chance of getting home, and I’m infected with an alien parasite that allows me to endure the harsh conditions of Not-Hoth. Not exactly how I’d visualized my future at all.

But . . . at least I have a future.

According to the ship’s medical computers, I’m cancer-free now. I don’t know if it’s wrong, or if it’s Not-Hoth’s atmosphere or the new “cootie” (as some of the girls call it) living in my chest.

All I know is that the inoperable brain tumor isn’t showing up in scans. And for the first time in the last year, I have hope.

But first . . . a travois.

When I get to the trees, I move to the closest one and touch the bark with my fingertips. It feels spongy and damp despite the chill in the air, and not sturdy enough to support a massive, muscled alien. I have no idea if this will work, but I’ll give it a shot. I owe the sa-khui my life, and so I’m going to do my best to help Haeden and Aehako.

Kneeling down, I begin to hack at the base of the first tree. The knife sinks in with a squishing noise, and sap squirts out onto the snow. Ugh. I wrinkle my nose and keep cutting, determined. Kira’s gone, and they’re wounded, so I’m the only one that can help.

The snow crunches nearby.

I stand upright, surprised. It almost sounded like a footstep. “Hello?” I turn around and look. “Aehako?”

No one’s there. The snowy landscape is barren, nothing but rolling drifts as far as the eye can see.

I must be imagining things. I’m not alone out here in the wild. There’re creatures everywhere, or so the hunters tell me. It could be one of the porcupine-looking things. Or maybe it’s a rabbit. Or . . . whatever the rabbit equivalent on this planet is.

I can’t be a silly chicken and freak out at every little sound, though. I turn back to the tree and continue hacking at it.

I hear the crunch of snow again, and a moment later, a heavy thudding. My blood feels like it’s surging in my ears, and I press a hand to my head, wincing.

No, wait. That’s not thudding or drumming. My heart is calm. Is it . . . purring?

Something slams into the back of my head, and I pitch forward into darkness.

Even there, the strange purring follows me.

Spotlight & Excerpt – The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Genre: Paranormal Romance / Women’s Fiction

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I’m currently reading this heart warming, magical read and I am loving it! Minka Moon is a witch who is also part of the very secret society of irregular witches – a group of witches who occasionally meet and discuss how magic seems to be affecting their lives.

Minka is used to being alone and not really having any friends. So when she decides to create an online account where she pretends to be a witch – she doesn’t think there’s any harm in that (also it’s a secret from the other witches). When she is contacted about her witchraft and tasked to helping three young witches control their magic – Minka is befuddled. Who is taking care of these witches? How are they all together – it’s a rule to keep witches apart as their magic can be powerful when combined? And most importantly who is Jamie – the temperamental librarian at Nowhere House and why is he so distrustful of Minka?

I can’t wait to dive back into the book. I am loving all of the secondary characters as well as Minka’s self discovery and her prickly relationship with Jamie.


SYNOPSIS

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family–and a new love–changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….


EXCERPT

THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by Sangu Mandanna

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | August 23, 2022

Excerpt

When the spellwork part of the meeting was complete, Primrose cleared her throat. “Finally, does anyone have any news they’d like to share?”

“It’s okay to say it’s time to gossip, Primrose,” Mika said merrily. “We all know that’s what comes after the spellwork.”

“Witches don’t gossip,” sniffed Primrose.

This was patently untrue, however, because gossiping was precisely what they proceeded to do.

“My ex-husband wanted to get back together last week,” said Belinda Nkala, who was in her forties and never had time for anyone’s nonsense. “When I turned him down, he informed me that I am apparently nothing without him. Then he left,” she added calmly, “but I fear he’s going to be suffering from an inexplicable itch in his groin for a few weeks.”

Several witches laughed, but Primrose set her lips in a thin line. “And have you been playing such petty tricks lately, Mika?”

“Oh, for the love of fucking god, Primrose, what does this have to do with me?”

“It’s not an unreasonable question, precious. You do like to take risks.”

“For the millionth time,” Mika said, irked beyond belief, “I post videos online pretending to be a witch. It’s just a performance.” Primrose raised her eyebrows. Mika raised hers right back. “Hundreds of people do the same thing, you know. The whole witch aesthetic is very popular!”

“Witchcore,” Hilda said, nodding wisely. “Not quite as popular as cottagecore or fairycore, but it’s up there.”

Everyone stared at her.

“I didn’t know fairies were real!” shouted Agatha Jones, who was almost as old as Primrose and tended to believe all young people needed to be shouted at lest they miss the import of her pronouncements. “Whatever next!”

“You see, Primrose?” said Mika, ignoring this interruption. “People call themselves witches all the time. I’m not putting myself or you or anyone else at risk. Nobody who watches my videos thinks I’m actually a witch.”

It was unfortunate for Mika, then, that at that precise moment, over five hundred miles away, in a big house in a quiet, windy corner of the Norfolk countryside, a skinny old man in a magnificent rainbow scarf and enormous fluffy slippers was saying exactly the opposite.

“Absolutely not!”

This came from Jamie, the scowling librarian, who was not in fact the skinny old man in the scarf and slippers. That was Ian. And the third person in the library was Lucie, the housekeeper, a chubby, round-cheeked woman in her fifties, who sighed as if she knew exactly how this argument was going to go. (She did know, and she was right.)

Ian smoothed down the tail of his scarf and replied, in the deep voice that had charmed audiences in many a small theatre over his eighty-odd years, “Don’t be difficult, dear. It doesn’t become you.”

Jamie was unmoved by this criticism. “You can’t seriously be considering bringing that”-and here he jabbed a finger at the dewy, sparkly face on the screen of Ian’s phone-“into the house?”

“Why not?” Ian asked.

“Well, for one thing, there’s no way she’s a real witch,” Jamie said irritably. This was not unusual. Most of the things Jamie said were said irritably. “What kind of witch would show off her magic on a platform with millions of viewers?”

Mika would have been immensely gratified to hear this, had she been there, but it looked like her double bluff had not hoodwinked Ian.

“She’s a real witch,” he insisted.

“How the hell can you possibly know that?”

“I have excellent observation skills. Just watch part of the video.” Ian wiggled his phone like he was dangling a lollipop in front of a toddler. “A minute. That’s all I ask.”

Jamie’s glare stayed firmly in place, but he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against his desk to look over Ian’s shoulder. Gleeful, Ian tapped the screen and the video started to play.Excerpted from The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna Copyright © 2022 by Sangu Mandanna. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

ARC Review – The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Orbit

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and audiobook from Libro.fm


SYNOPSIS

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?


REVIEW

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a book that I knew nothing about going in and then could not stop reading it. Mercy Birdsall is an undertaker working at her father’s business. She’s stressed out and overworked ever since her dad had to take it easy after suffering a heart attack. To make matters worse – she has to deal with marshal Hart Ralston. He is often bringing in dead bodies while on patrol.

Hart despises Mercy Birdsall, but he often has no choice when he has to interact with her. Hart knows how to dish it right back to Mercy though. But for some reason she gets to him. Hart is often left feeling lonely so when he pens a letter to a friend anonymously he’s surprised to get a response back. Little does he know that the person who is on the other end of the letter is no other than Mercy.

Hart and Mercy are like fire and gasoline. You can’t help but feel the sparks coming off of them every time they interact with one another. I loved these two so very much. Not just how much I wanted them to end up together (which I was rooting for immediately), but also how they interacted with all of the secondary characters in the story.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy, but this book surprised me in the best way. I would find myself laughing out loud – the dialogue is so good. But then, in the next sentence my heart would feel like it was about to burst.

I had an opportunity to listen to the audiobook and it was fantastic! Michael Gallagher and Rachanee Lumayno did such a good job giving voice to Hart and Mercy. I honestly can’t wait to listen to the audiobook again.

In this fantasy romance that was kinda morbid but also beautifully written you can expect to find:
-an epistolary romance
-grumpy/lonely + sunshine
-🔥🔥🔥 + dirty talking hero
-some suspense

I don’t know how to put into words how much I loved this book. Definitely worth a pre-order!

ARC Review – Go Hex Yourself

Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Fantasy Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: April 19, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

It’s one hex of an attraction in this romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Jessica Clare.

When Reggie Johnson answers a job ad in the paper, she’s astonished to find that she’s not applying to work at her favorite card game, Spellcraft: The Magicking. Instead, she’s applying to be an actual familiar for an actual witch. As in, real magic.

The new job has a few perks – great room and board, excellent pay, and she’s apprenticing to a powerful witch. Sure, the witch is a bit eccentric. And sure, there was that issue with the black cat Reggie would prefer to forget about. The biggest problem, however, is warlock Ben Magnus, her employer’s nephew and the most arrogant, insufferable, maddening man to ever cast a spell.

Reggie absolutely hates him. He’s handsome, but he’s also bossy and irritating and orders her around. Ben’s butt might look great in a crystal ball vision, but that’s as far as it goes. But when someone with a vendetta targets the household, she finds herself working with Ben to break a deadly curse. Apparently, when they’re not fighting like cats and dogs, things get downright…bewitching


REVIEW

When Reggie answers an ad in the local paper to work as an assistant for one of her favorite card games, she’s ecstatic to get a callback! Only when she goes to meet her future employer – she’s not quite sure what to make of the bizarre nature of everyone in the Magnus household.

Reggie soon finds out that she’ll be creating actual magic with Drusilla Magnus – a which who wants to share her craft with Reggie. Reggie is still on the fence about the position, but the pay is too good to pass up so she agrees! What Reggie doesn’t plan on is being around Dru’s nephew Ben all the time. Ben is overbearing, rude and generally a grumpy person. Worse – he doesn’t want Reggie around at all. Guess she’ll just have to show him how willing she is to learn magic and witch craft!

When Ben and Reggie have to work together to break a hex, they soon find themselves in close proximity to one another. And that’s not all – their attraction to one another only starts growing. Will they be able to break the curse and find a way to be together?

Gah! How much did I love Go Hex Yourself. I will be honest – a lot of fantasy/paranormal romance featuring witches and magic just falls flat for me. So I was a bit weary going in to Go Hex Yourself, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I adored this book and the characters in it.

All of the secondary characters from Lisa, Nick and Maurice to Dru had me laughing! There was such a great cast of characters in this book. Each one of them was essential to the story and I never felt bored with their story arcs or wanting them to get off the page.

But clearly the stars of this book were Ben and Reggie 😍. These two had so much chemistry together and I wanted more of them from their very first interaction. Ben was the grump to Reggie’s sunshine and these two were completely perfect for one another. Their relationship was slow growing and I really enjoyed the way that they begin to trust each other before deciding to move their relationship along. And YES, Jessica Clare totally brought the 🔥🔥🔥.

I loved this quirky, funny and sweet romance! Once I started it I had a hard time putting it down. I hope we get more books set in this world!!

Spotlight & Excerpt of The League of Gentlewomen Witches

The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton

Genre: Historical/Fantasy Romance

Series: Dangerous Damsels Series #2

Release Date: March 15, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I adored the first book by India Holton – The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels and am looking forward to reading The League of Gentlewomen Witches.

When a pirate and a witch must team up to retrieve an important talisman – an unlikely alliance forms. Charlotte, a witch, despises the Wisteria Society and one day aspires to be future leader of the League. Alex, a pirate, has vowed to never work let a witch get close again. Can these two work together to retrieve the talisman without their feelings getting tangled?


SYNOPSIS

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the teahouse…

Miss Charlotte Pettifer belongs to a secret league of women skilled in the subtle arts. That is to say—although it must never be said—witchcraft. The League of Gentlewomen Witches strives to improve the world in small ways. Using magic, they tidy, correct, and manipulate according to their notions of what is proper, entirely unlike those reprobates in the Wisteria Society.

When the long lost amulet of Black Beryl is discovered, it is up to Charlotte, as the future leader of the League, to make sure the powerful talisman does not fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is most unfortunate when she crosses paths with Alex O’Riley, a pirate who is no Mr. Darcy. With all the world scrambling after the amulet, Alex and Charlotte join forces to steal it together. If only they could keep their pickpocketing hands to themselves! If Alex’s not careful, he might just steal something else—such as Charlotte’s heart.


EXCERPT

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEWOMEN WITCHES by India Holton

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | On sale March 15, 2022

Excerpt

A policeman’s whistle pierced the clamor of the crowd, and Charlotte winced. Pain from the noise ricocheted along her nerves. If only she could leave London with all its cacophony and retire to Hampshire, birthplace of Jane Austen, where green peace whispered wild yet gentle poetry to one’s heart. It was never to be-duty forced her presence in London, noble duty (and the fact there was not much of value to steal in the countryside)-yet still she dreamed. And occasionally took brief jaunts by train because, truly, there was nothing like leaving home for real comfort.

Thus imagining oak trees and country lanes while behind her the brawl intensified, Charlotte made her way without further impediment toward Almack’s. Its door stood open, a delivery boy’s bicycle leaning on the wall beside it, and the warm interior shadows promised respite from London’s inconveniences-as well as a back door through which she could slip unnoticed by policemen, pumpkin carters, and aggravated briefcase owners. She was almost there when she saw the child.

A mere scrap of humanity, he huddled within torn and filthy clothes, his small hand extended pathetically. Charlotte looked at him and then at Almack’s door. She came to a decisive stop.

“Hello,” she said in the stiff tones of someone unused to conversing with children. “Are you hungry?”

The urchin nodded. Charlotte offered him her wrapped sandwiches but he hesitated, his eyes growing wide and fearful as he glanced over her shoulder. Suddenly, he snatched the food and ran.

Charlotte watched him go. Two cucumber sandwiches would not sustain a boy for long, but no doubt he could sell the linen napkin to good effect. She almost smiled at the thought. Then she drew herself up to her fullest height, lifted her chin, and turned to look at the gentleman now looming over her.

“Good afternoon,” she said, tightening her grip on his briefcase.

In reply, he caught her arm lest she follow the example of the urchin. His expression tumbled through surprise and uncertainty before landing on the hard ground of displeasure; his dark blue eyes smoldered. For the first time, Charlotte noticed he wore high leather boots, strapped and buckled, scarred from interesting use-boots to make a woman’s heart tremble, either in trepidation or delight, depending on her education. A silver hook hung from his left ear; a ruby ring encircled one thumb, and what she had taken for a beard was mere unshaven stubble. Altogether it led to a conclusion Charlotte was appalled not to have reached earlier.

“Pirate,” she said in disgust.

“Thief,” he retorted. “Give me back my briefcase.”

How rude! Not even the suggestion of a please! But what else could one expect from a barbarian who probably flew around in some brick cottage thinking himself a great man just because he could get it up? Pirates really were the lowest of the low, even if-or possibly because-they could go higher than everyone else in their magic-raised battlehouses. Such an unsubtle use of enchantment was a crime against civilization, even before one counted in the piracy. Charlotte allowed her irritation to show, although frowning on the street was dreadfully unladylike.

“Possession is nine-tenths of the law, sir. Kindly unhand me and I will not summon a police officer to charge you with molestation.”

He surprised her by laughing. “I see you are a wit as well as a thief. And an unlikely philanthropist too. If you hadn’t stopped for the boy, you might have gotten away.”

“I still shall.”

“I don’t think so. You may be clever, but I could have you on the ground in an instant.”

“You could,” Charlotte agreed placidly. “However, you may like to note that my shoe is pressed against your foot. If I am so inclined, I can release a poisoned dart from its heel which will penetrate boot and skin to paralyze you within moments.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Ingenious. So you too are a pirate, I take it?”

Charlotte gasped, trying to tug her arm from his grip. “I most certainly am not, sir, and I demand an apology for the insult!”

He shrugged.

Charlotte waited, but apparently that was the extent of his reply. She drew a tight breath, determined to remain calm. What would Jane Austen’s fiercest heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, do in this situation?

“I consider myself a reasonable woman,” she said. “I take pride in not being prejudiced. Although your behavior is disgraceful, and I shall surely have bruises on my arm, I do appreciate this has been a difficult afternoon for you. Therefore, I give you permission to withdraw.”

“How kind,” he said wryly, although he did ease his grip on her arm. “I am going nowhere, however, without my briefcase.”

Spotlight – Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

Hunt the Stars by Jessie Mihalik

Genre: Romance/Science Fiction

Series: Starlight’s Shadow #1

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Publisher: Harper Voyager

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


The newest series by Jessie Mihalik is a cross between romance and sci-fi/fantasy! When bounty hunter Octavia Zarola takes a job from her former general and enemy Torran Fletcher sparks fly!

I only just started Hunt the Stars, but I am already getting major enemies-to-lovers vibes! Will update the blog with a review once I’m finished reading!


SYNOPSIS

The critically acclaimed author of Polaris Rising takes readers on an exciting journey with the start of her brand-new series about a female bounty hunter and the man who is her sworn enemy.

Octavia Zarola would do anything to keep her tiny, close-knit bounty hunting crew together—even if it means accepting a job from Torran Fletcher, a ruthless former general and her sworn enemy. When Torran offers her enough credits to not only keep her crew afloat but also hire someone to fix her ship, Tavi knows that she can’t refuse—no matter how much she’d like to.

With so much money on the line, Torran and his crew insist on joining the hunt. Tavi reluctantly agrees because while the handsome, stoic leader pushes all of her buttons—for both anger and desire—she’s endured worse, and the massive bonus payment he’s promised for a completed job is reason enough to shut up and deal.

But when they uncover a deeper plot that threatens the delicate peace between humans and Valoffs, Tavi suspects that Torran has been using her as the impetus for a new war. With the fate of her crew balanced on a knife’s edge, Tavi must decide where her loyalties lie—with the quiet Valoff who’s been lying to her, or with the human leaders who left her squad to die on the battlefield. And this time, she’s put her heart on the line


ABOUT JESSIE MIHALIK:

Jessie Mihalik has a degree in Computer Science and a love of all things geeky. A software engineer by trade, Jessie now writes full-time from her home in Central Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing co-op videogames with her husband, trying out new boardgames, hiking, or reading.

Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance

Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: January 25, 2022 (reissue)

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

Twelve humans are left stranded on a wintry alien planet. I’m one of them. Yay, me.

In order to survive, we have to take on a symbiont that wants to rewire our bodies to live in this brutal place. I like to call it a cootie. And my cootie’s a jerk, because it also thinks I’m the mate to the biggest, surliest alien of the group.

BARBARIAN ALIEN is a sequel to ICE PLANET BARBARIANS. You do not have to read both in order to understand the plot, but the story will be richer if you do!


REVIEW

After reading and really enjoying Ice Planet Barbarians I needed to read Liz’s story next and this book totally delivered. I loved how feisty and independent Liz was and how equally stubborn and protective Raahosh was of her.

Where Ice Planet Barbarians felt more like insta-love, I really enjoyed the slow burn, sexual tension filled romance between Liz and Raahosh. They had major communication issues and they didn’t come together easily, but I was still rooting for these two to end up together and find their way to one another.

If you’re looking for a quick read with lots of sexual tension and steamy scenes – read Barbarian Alien! I am ready to binge the whole series – really enjoying the humans & their blue aliens.

CW: kidnapping, dubious consent, grief/exile

Electric Idol ARC Review

Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy Romance/Mythology Retellings

Series: Dark Olympus #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: Sourcebooks

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

He was the most beautiful man alive.
And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros’s life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss.


REVIEW

Psyche is used to playing a specific type of public persona. She has to be while living in Olympus otherwise the vultures will tear her apart. Not only for being a part of the thirteen, but also because she’s not what you would consider conventionally “beautiful.” Pysche is plus sized and not afraid to own it.

Eros has his own persona to uphold. He does his mothers bidding. When she has an obstacle in her way, she relies on Eros to eliminate that pesky little problem. Usually Eros doesn’t have any issue with doing as he’s told. Except this one time when it’s Pysche who his mother wants destroyed. Eros defies her and decides to keep Psyche safe any which way he can. Marriage seems to be the only course of action to protect themselves for the time being. Will they be able to pull of the ruse to a city that watches the thirteen like hawks on any given day?

I absolutely loved this modern take on Eros and Pysche. And while I am not familiar with the Greek tale of these two – I think that Katee Robert did a wonderful job sucking me into this world in Electric Idol. I fell hard for both Eros and Psyche. Their modern marriage of convenience + fake dating was so perfectly angsty.

The amount of vulnerability that these two display had my heart fluttering so many times. They were often stuck between a rock and a hard place and yet both of them only wanted what was best for the other. I feel like the vulnerability between these two also made the more intimate scenes in Electric Idol so so so hot.

I have so many scenes highlighted! I can’t wait to re-read this book again. The suspense, the drama, the romance (and steam) definitely put it up there as a book I highly recommend. I can’t wait to see which sister’s story will be next!


Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize the purchase.

Spotlight & Excerpt of Payback’s a Witch

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove #1

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

After returning home, Emmy discovers that the man she has been seeing has also been leading on her best friend Linden and dark magic badass Talia. Is Emmy up for revenge and what happens when she starts falling for Talia? I am looking forward to this paranormal F/F romance with plenty of smoke and magic.


SYNOPSIS

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The L Word in this fresh, sizzling rom-com by Lana Harper.

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?

But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?


EXCERPT

As soon as I crossed the town line, I could feel Thistle Grove on my skin.

That I was in my shitty beater Toyota made no difference; maybe the town could sense one of its daughters coming home, even after almost five years away. A swell of raw magic coursed into the car, until the air around me nearly shimmered with potential, bright and buzzy and headier than a champagne cocktail. As if Thistle Grove’s own magical heart was pulsing eagerly toward me, welcoming me back. No hard feelings about my long absence, apparently.

Made one of us, I guess.

The onslaught of magic after my dry spell was so intoxicating that I hunched over the steering wheel, taking shallow breaths and wondering a little wildly whether you could overdose on magic after having gone cold turkey for so long. From the passenger seat, Jasper cast me a glinting, concerned glance from beneath his silvery fringe and shoved a clumsy paw onto my thigh.

“I’m okay, bud,” I murmured to him through a thick throat, reaching over to stroke his warm neck. “It’s just . . . a whole lot, you know?”

That was the thing about growing up with magic. Until you left it behind for good, you had no idea how incredible it felt just to be around it.

And it wasn’t only the air that seemed different. Through my spattered windshield, the night sky had changed, snapping into Ÿber-focus like a calibrated telescope. Above Hallows Hill, the unlikely little mountain the town huddled up against, a crescent moon hung like a freshly whetted sickle. Waning crescent, my witch brain whispered, already churning up the spells best cast in this phase. Its silhouette looked like it could carve glass, impossibly perfect and precise, the kind of moon you’d see in a dream. The constellations that surrounded it like a milky spill of jewels were arranged the same as on the other side of the town line but better somehow, more intentional, clear-cut and brilliant as a mosaic set with precious gems. So enticing, they made me want to pull the car over and tumble out, head hinged back and jaw agape, just to watch them glitter.

This fucking town. Always so damn extra.

With an effort, I resisted the temptation. But when the orchards that belonged to the Thorns appeared on my left, I gave in just enough to roll down my window.

The night air gusted against my face, smelling like an absolute of fall; woodsmoke and dying leaves and the faintest bracing hint of future snow. And right below that was the scent of Thistle Grove magic, which I’ve never come across anywhere else. Spicy and earthy, as if the lingering ghost of all the incense burned by three hundred years of witches had never quite blown away. A perpetual Halloween smell, the kind that gave you the good-creepy sort of tingles.

And fallen apples, of course. The Thorns’ rows and rows of Galas, Honeycrisps, and Pink Ladies, sweet and cidery and indescribably like home.

It all made the part of me that used to adore this place-oh, cut the shit, Emmy, the part of you that still does, the part that will never, ever stop-throb like first-love heartache. My eyes welled hot with sudden tears, and I knuckled them clear more violently than necessary, angry with myself for sinking into nostalgia so readily.

Sensing my mood plummeting, Jasper gave an aggrieved snort, tossing his regally mustachioed snout at me.

“I know, I know,” I groaned, dragging a hand over my face. “I promised not to get too in my feelings. I’m just tired, bud. From now on, it’ll be all business till we can get out of here.”

He huffed again, as if he knew me much too well to buy into my stoic crap. I might be back here only because Tradition Demands the Presence of the Harlow Scion, but nothing in Thistle Grove was ever that simple. Especially when it came to the heir of one of the founding families.

Ten minutes later, I pulled into my parents’ oak-lined residential neighborhood, rattling onto their cobbled driveway. My chest clenched at the sight of my childhood home, fisting tight around my heart. It was a perfectly nice house, though not all that impressive as founding family demesnes go. The Blackmoores had their palatial Tintagel estate, the Thorns had Honeycake Orchards, and the Avramovs the rambling Victorian warren of a mansion they insisted on calling The Bitters, because they thrived on such old-world melodrama.

And we, the Harlows, had . . . lo, a house.

A stately three-story colonial almost as old as the town itself-though you wouldn’t know it, to look at its magically weatherproofed exterior-Harlow House has never had a fancy name, thereby upholding the timeless Harlow legacy of being both the least pretentious and least relevant of the founding families. As always, a candle burned in every window; thirteen flames, for prosperity and protection. The flying owl weather vane spun idly in the night breeze, and the dreamcatcher windchimes hung by the front door clinked delicately against one another. A plume of smoke coiled from the brick chimney in a curlicued wisp before vanishing into the velvety dark above.

It looked like a storybook house belonging to your favorite no-nonsense witch-which, come to think of it, sounded like both my parents.

And it was all like I remembered, except that the thought of going inside made me feel painfully stripped of breath. There was an invisible moat of hurt surrounding my former home, years of unanswered questions. Restless water, teeming with the emotional equivalents of piranha and stinging jellyfish.

I couldn’t do much about the hurt, and “because Gareth Blackmoore ruined this town for me” still seemed like a shitty answer to the question all the others boiled down to, which was: Emmy, why haven’t you come home all this time?

So I turned the car off and just sat with my head bowed, listening to the ticks of the engine settling and Jasper’s low-grade whine, focusing on my breath. When I’d collected myself about as much as I was going to, I lurched out of the car on travel-stiff legs and let Jas out to baptize the quiet street, then hauled my battle-scarred suitcase and gigantic duffel bag out of the trunk. By the time he came loping back, I’d managed to wrestle everything up onto the columned porch with an admirable minimum of cursing.

I still had my key, but it seemed horribly rude and presumptuous to use it after a five-year absence, so I knocked instead. When the door swung open, I managed to flinch only a little, blinking at the warm light spilling from within.