Two Heads Are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell


Two Heads Are Deader Than One by Elena Hartwell
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Private Investigator Eddie Shoes is enjoying a rare period of calm. She’s less lonely now that Chava, her card-counting mom from Vegas, is sharing her home. She also has a new companion, Franklin, a giant dog of curious ancestry.
Hoping for a lucrative new case, Eddie instead finds herself taking on a less promising client: her best friend from her childhood in Spokane. Dakota has turned up in Bellingham in jail, where she is being held on a weapons charge. Eddie reluctantly agrees not only to lend her friend money for bail but to also investigate who is stalking her. Soon after Dakota is freed, she disappears again, leaving Eddie to answer to the local cops, including her ex-boyfriend Chance Parker. Has Dakota been kidnapped? If not, why did she jump bail? What are Eddie’s business cards doing on the bodies of two murder victims?

The key to these mysteries lies in Dakota and Eddie’s shared history, which ended when Eddie left home after high school. As a person of interest in both murder cases, Eddie is forced to go in search of the truth, digging into the past and facing her own demons.

She wasn’t going to answer the phone but then she heard a voice from her past…

This is the second book in the Eddie Shoe mystery series. Book one was a good read and this one is also. The stories move quickly, there’s always danger, moments that make you laugh, and you worry about Eddie. She’s a good PI but she’s not real careful about her own safety. The author has her sticking her nose out a little further than necessary but it sure makes for a fun read.

The woman calling her was her best friend in high school. She’s in jail in her town and wants some help with bail money. Dakota manages to make her feel guilty so she goes down and gets her out. But then Dakota goes to ground and she can’t find her. She’s also not answering her cellphone. When she starts to check out her story, nothing she’s told her is true. Even worse, when she opens the door across the hall where it said they had tarot card readings but ran a prostitution ring, she finds a dead man.

The cops have a dead body and lots of blood in another part of the room. But the dead man didn’t bleed. Whose blood was it?

Eddie keeps digging. She even goes back to Spokane to search out old haunts where she and Dakota hung out. There are still secrets in Spokane and when she finds out the truth, she’ll be free from the guilt of an accident at the end of high school that took someone’s life.

It takes the whole story until the clues start going together. It’s a well thought out mystery, you meet more characters from Eddie’s life and her boyfriend is still around. Maybe in the next book they’ll get back together again. Watch for the third book. Eddie isn’t done snooping yet.

Man Down by Tracy Tappan

Man Down by Tracy Tappan
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full (371 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

After being shot down by the Taliban on a Special Operations mission, a Navy pilot and Navy SEAL rescue a beautiful humanitarian doctor. While the three of them evade capture in a race for their lives across northern Pakistan, the two former boyhood friends heal a 10-year breach, and the pilot and doctor find a way to let go of their painful pasts to find love.

Content guidelines: Contains profanity and adult situations. Sensitive readers might find a scene depicting the death of a pet upsetting.

Filled with action, lots of military jargon and enough romance to satisfy, Man Down kept me turning pages from the start.

First, I have to say how grateful I was for the easy to use glossary in the book. One click on an unfamiliar military term took me to the definition, and one more click took me right back to where I was in the story. Loved that feature!

While the book was presented to me as romantic suspense, I’d be more inclined to call it an action novel with romantic elements. Yes, our H/h met near the beginning of the book and there was clearly attraction between them, but not much more than that until nearly the end of the book. And, actually, I didn’t mind that at all. One complaint I often have with fast-paced “thriller” type stories is how the characters manage to take time to heat up the sheets while their lives are on the line. That didn’t happen here, and made things feel more realistic and authentic. When they did finally get physical, though… WHEW! The heat was on for sure!

I’m not typically a fan of stories told through flashbacks, though, and this book is packed with them. I understand what the author was trying to accomplish, and that the information needed to be shared with the reader; the flashbacks were a fantastic way to put the reader in the moment and let us feel what the characters were actually going through (and some of the things that happened were incredibly horrific–note the warning in the blurb), but even so, the time jumps were frequently frustrating for me. Other readers may not have the same trouble with them.

The characters were interesting and well-rounded. I got very invested in them and worried a lot during their trip out of danger. I really enjoyed Farrin and how open and honest and caring she was. It was a little surprising, given her background, and I was pleased to see she hadn’t been permanently scarred by her treatment as a child. I was utterly horrified by Jason’s upbringing, though, and I read one scene right before bed that I couldn’t get out of my mind for some time after.

All-in-all I was impressed by this author. I’ve never read anything by her (and as an aside, this is part of a series, but stands alone just fine) but I fully intend on reading the next book. I have got to know what happens to Shane!

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Realm of the Dragon by Cici Cordelia


Realm of the Dragon by Cici Cordelia
The Soul Mate Tree
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (162 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

For sheltered Lily Kiers, it’s all too real. Her escape from danger, straight into the arms of her destiny.

Thrust into a realm made of fantasy and unbridled passion, Lily faces violent resentment and jealousy from extremely powerful enemies. Amidst fierce creatures whose very existence defy all common sense, Lily pieces together a past she could never have imagined.

Claimed by Kord, Prince of Battle Draconian, their love will not be denied, even as malevolent forces plot to rip them apart.

Chased by a psychopath, Lily runs as hard as she can through the park, trying to outrun her pursuer. Next thing she knew she has fallen as if from a great height, and landed on a dragon!

Kord has his life mate literally drop into his arms.  Unfortunately she’s human and doesn’t know anything about dragons who can change to human shape.

This story is fascinating. It has the action and adventure of dragons who have a peaceful nature until roused. Unfortunately, a female dragon has marked Kord as her own and Lily’s abrupt arrival upsets her plans. With the help of another male she plans to dispose of Lily, take Kord as her own, and kill Kord’s parents to enable him to become King of Battle Draconian.

The plots that interweave in this story make it very exciting and alluring. I read it in one go as I couldn’t put it down, partly due to the fact I love dragon stories. This was not a straightforward “dragons are strong beasts so Lily was bound to fall for Kord” it was about the life of dragons, how they lived and the social mores which kept the three dragon kingdoms apart but in tune with each other. This is very well written and a joy to read.

Old Bones Never Die by Leslie A Diehl


Old Bones Never Die by Leslie A Diehl
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (274 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Just before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he’d unearthed their missing father’s pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear. Now Sammy and his brother’s three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator. Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen’s resort. Was Walter’s death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy’s father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined. Book 5 in the Eve Appel Mystery series, which began with A Secondhand Murder.

Eve is thinking seriously of becoming a private investigator. She knows of one close to her office who would train her. She knows she’s busy with her consignment shop and the RV they use as a second shop, but she still has spare time and intense curiosity. Would it be too much?

This story is a mix about past and present, death long ago and death currently. With two Indian tribes in the area, future development is beginning in their little town but one is excited about it. It gets even worse when some bones show up at the construction site. The work is shut down until the bones are analyzed. Then the bones go missing, the construction man who found them is dead, and a watch that has been missing for years is missing again. Were the bones part of an Indian burial site? If not, who was it?

The pace moves well, there’s more than one mystery, and it all comes out by end of the story. I enjoyed Eve’s family, her lover and his family, and the mob man she’s friends with. Those close to her know she’ll do what she decides to do but they try to talk her out of it.

The romance in this story is soothing and poor Eve needs that in her life. Especially since someone is trying to kill her now because of her snooping.

This writer’s style is easy to read, she closes up any gaps in the story line and she’s made me want to read another in this series. Eve and Sammy are a joy to read about.

Red Shift by Elsa Jade


Red Shift by Elsa Jade
Big Sky Alien Mail Order Brides #2 ~ Intergalactic Dating Agency
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (137 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Banishing his own needs, he followed his prince into battle and—more terrifying yet—into courtship but got lost in the backwater wilds of Earth. Now this space-faring drakling dragon-shifter has forgotten everything, including his name, his beast, and the freedom of space. But even espresso-induced amnesia can’t erase the relentless urge to mate growing stronger with every night under the pale light of this one solitary moon. Who will help him find his ship…and himself?

If anyone read the first book Alpha Star they would have met Honey. I liked him then but I absolutely adored him in Red Shift. He was the perfect hero. I know I liked Sin in the first book but Honey has him beat by a mile in the second. It’s when Honey revealed himself in all his glory to Tisha that I found out just how special and delightful his character really was. Tisha is a lucky heroine.

There is quite a bit more action in this novella for a reader to enjoy than the last one. Turns out those mercenaries from the first book weren’t a one-off. Oh no, there are more devious and dire shenanigans going on that escalates the plot conflict to incendiary proportions in Red Shift. It’s all good. It’s effective and I enjoyed every moment.

Sin and Zoe from Alpha Star do appear in this book too but they are strictly supporting cast members for Honey and Tisha. Their presence also provides a bit of continuity to what is a trilogy of spacemen looking for brides on Earth. They don’t have it easy and the romance between Tisha and Honey proves it.

What I found completely hilarious is what Ms. Jade does with coffee in the story. What a fun and novel twist! Not only did it cause me to giggle, later on it provided the opportunity for a very yummy scene or two between Tisha and Honey. It entertained me no end.

The personal conflicts caused by what is happening to Honey and his determination to woo and win Tisha coupled with some serious action chasing down the bad guys, rescuing damsels in distress, space ships battling, and saving the world as they know it made Red Shift a gem of a read.

I hate to say it but this sequel is even better than the original story. I have a serious crush on Honey and I’m so glad he and Tisha ended up with a wonderful and romantic happy ever after. Red Shift is a definite recommended read.

An Unproven Concept by James Young

An Unproven Concept by James Young
Publisher: self
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (370 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Rose

In the year 3050, the Confederation of Man finds that there are indeed things that go bump in the night:

Aboard the starliner Titanic, Chief Security Officer Marcus Martin must choose between rescuing his vessel or the love of his life from creatures that are the stuff of nightmares.

Commander Leslie Hawkins must make a Hobbesian decision between human decency…and humanity itself. Facing overwhelming odds, she must use the obsolescent destroyer Shigure to buy that most precious of resources: time.

Captain Mackenzie Bolan has no decision. His unproven vessel and her crew are the closest rescue the Titanic and Shigure have. The only question will be can the Constitution arrive in time.

This book drops you right in the middle of the action with chapter one as the ship exits hyperspace nearly on top of another one. Nothing like immediate danger to get your blood pumping! I loved the illustrations included in this book as well. They were lovely and helped me picture the details in the story. I admit, I’m not terribly technically minded, so some of the information at the start was a bit confusing, but the story itself as well as engaging characters, really kept me turning pages. I quickly realized this was so much more than just another space opera.

The characters (of which there are many—so beware) are well-drawn and three dimensional. I really began to care about them and their relationships. This led to a bit of consternation for this reader as I discovered that not everyone was going to make it through the battles!

Speaking of battles, the action scenes are very well done and keep the book moving at a fast pace. There may have been moments throughout that the scientific details were a bit much for me, but for readers who thrive on a more technical SF read, it will be a plus.

I really enjoyed the writing and am looking forward to reading more of this author’s work.

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Warrior by Elsa Jade


Warrior by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #4

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

After the mating moon sets, the trouble is only beginning…

Thunder Cole may be the last of his kind. He’ll help his distant shapeshifter kindred with their werewolf hunter problem, but then he’s moving on — alone. Until he meets Elizabeth Rowan.

Bets became “Auntie Fate”, a fake psychic tarot reader, to support her orphaned niece, but she doesn’t believe in the woo-woo magical world. Until she meets Thunder Cole.

Both of them think their second chances are long gone. They couldn’t be more wrong. But a bitter enemy on a quest for vengeance against the wolves of Angels Rest may destroy everything they love.

A doubter will believe, a warrior will rise, and passion will rule the day.

Every now and again a book’s character surprises me. This is one of them. Most of the paranormal beings so far have been wolves but in Warrior there’s a new one in town and he’s a first. I’ve never read about his kind before in romance books and I am duly impressed.

Unfortunately for them but not for me, the external conflict continues from the Kingdom Guard. I didn’t expect the way in which it manifested and it was very suspenseful with lots of drama. I liked when the ‘troops’, the werewolves of Angels Rest, come together to try to rescue the heroine. Especially since the heroine is Elizabeth, the hippie, tarot-reading, sweet aunt of Darling from Rogue. She’s not a fighter but that doesn’t mean she’s not brave. She is.

Thunder is truly a yummy hero. It might have a lot to do with how Ms. Jade created his character. I enjoyed all the scenes with his motorcycle because of how they were written. I also felt for the guy because he is so alone. He has honor, loyalty and crazy skills but he’s a loner, a drifter that goes around helping people when they need it without belonging anywhere. I was so pleased that he found an anchor in the community of Angels Rest. That, of course, has a lot to do with the heroine.

Like the previous three in the series, when Thunder and Bets, as he likes to call her, get together physically, it’s detailed, sexy, steamy hot and well written. What I appreciate about the sexy scenes is that the story is not thin as an excuse for sex. Nope, it’s to showcase just how combustible the hero and heroine are together, and to show just how vested they both are to each other’s safety because they are falling in love. It’s a solid romance with a wonderful conflict and challenge to overcome. At one point the emotions inspired by the conflict was intense. I was glued to the pages.

Even though this is a novella, Ms. Jade continues the series with the skill of a master by delivering a full-bodied, thoroughly satisfying solid romance story that reads like a full-sized novel. There are gems of dialogue and descriptions sprinkled all through the tale and many are pure word magic.

At the end of the book there is a tidbit about the next book in the series and I simply have to have it. Why? Because it’s about one of the victims of the Kingdom Guard. What they did to him was heinous. So how and who can heal him is the a very effective hook. Consider the book bought.

Warrior is another winner and a must read. I am loving this series so hard it’s awesome. The quality of the writing remains solid, even in this fourth installment. So far this series has rocked my world and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Rogue by Elsa Jade


Rogue by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #3

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (84 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The mating moon is full…

Rafael Villalobos is a werewolf without his wolf. The beast is rogue, gone hunting without him, making Rafe even more of a menace to his pack than the wolf hunters who hate them. He doesn’t know what the wolf wants…until it leads him straight to the sassy, luscious Darling Rowan.
Bitten by a rogue wolf that may or may not have been the sexiest Villalobos boy, Dare knows her quiet days as the county librarian are coming to an end. She’ll be coming too, if she can just get a certain stubborn man to admit that the simmering heat between them is more than the mating moon.

How can I be so lucky? Rogue is Bas’s brother’s story. Rafael, or Rafe as he’s commonly referred as, is the hero in this novella and I finally find out what was making him ornery in the previous book, Joker.

Can a heart break for a book hero? If so it would for Rafe. What happened to him as a child is so sad and tragic, but something worse is happening to him now and no one seems to know what to do or how to help him. He’s a hero in crisis and he’s close to accepting his dire fate. Thing is, after ‘meeting’ him in Hero & Rogue I know he’s not a bad guy. He’s loyal and the best brother and cousin Bas and Kane could have but they can’t stop what is happening. That was an effective hook that I could not resist, nor could I put the book down once I started reading.

Darling, or Dare as she likes to be called, is a secondary character from the beginning but this time she’s front and center as the heroine. This little librarian is about to have the adventure of a lifetime. She had hints that something was different about her best friend, and the man she secretly had the hots for, Rafe. The reality and facts were violently revealed, dumping Dare into a possible future like nothing she ever imagined. Will she embrace it? She’d better because if she doesn’t Rafe is lost – lost to everyone including himself. Yes, my emotions were definitely engaged with Dare and Rafe’s story. This was a one sitting read. Powerful and fascinating.

There’s a new villain in town and the scope of their revolting agenda become apparent in this tale. It’s effective and well written. Once again, Ms. Jade’s choice of vocabulary is succinct, evocative and created a sense of being there with Rafe and Dare fighting for their lives. There’s not a slow scene in the entire book. In fact everything single thing in this novella worked for me – including their romance.

Rogue is once again another gem in this series. I love the writing style, the voice and the personalities every character has – unique, special and memorable. It’s another must read, a keeper like the first two in the series and I’m loving every moment visiting Angels Rest. At this point I think reading in order is helpful because every book seems to start in the previous one, creating a continuity of community and an intense story arc from the external conflict. I am one very satisfied fan. I can’t wait to see who is next!

Joker by Elsa Jade


Joker by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #2

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (78 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A ‘Mating Season’ novella.

Leela Jones had a mission: kill a werewolf. Instead, she was captured by one. Now Bastian Villalobos, bad boy of the Mesa Diablo pack, has a werewolf hunter on his hands. Wolf shifters and hunters have always been mortal enemies. But under the hungry light of the mating moon, they might be lovers too.

I hoped that this next story in the series after Hero was going to be good and all my hopes were realized. This novella is just as powerful, well written and entertaining as the first book. Joker picks up where the first book left off – with the captured assassin. The suspense and drama is more prevalent in this one and I enjoyed every surprise, shock and revelation.

Once again, there is a strong hero, Bastien, and a heroine worthy of him, Leela. In this story the emotional factor is through the roof. I guess I refer to the brave stand towards the end that had unexpected consequences. My heart was in my throat. Everything that happened in the novella built up to that final climactic and intense chapter that had me biting a nail, or two.

Before the serious wrap up there was all the turmoil of a werewolf falling in love with the hunter that had set out to kill him and his kind. I enjoyed how Ms. Jade made it all work out. Once again there is the mysticism of Mesa Diablo that enhances the believability factor that love can happen that fast if it’s meant to be. The romance is strong and wonderful.

Ms. Jade continues to wow me with her choice of descriptives. They provide a flavor and presence unique to the main characters and their romance. I enjoyed their dialogue, their interaction between family members and townsfolk and their pack. It all worked for me.

Joker is a wonderful romance. This short story is rich in substance and brilliant in its ability to embrace all the aspects a reader seeks in a great romance story. Yes, the sexual build up between Bas and Leela was hot, their coming together was hotter, but what I found incredibly sexy was what the hero revealed to Leela. Joker is delightful and not to be missed.

The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes


The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When society reporter Adeline Ellsworth’s cousin, a police inspector, is murdered in 1896 San Francisco, she immediately sets out to uncover the truth. This could be her chance to leave frivolous fashion gossip behind for a career reporting on important issues. But her investigation leads to danger—and she wakes up tied to Alec McCairn, Lord Peyton.

In California to set up a new office, the Scottish peer definitely wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement, especially with an independent, opinionated reporter. But he suspects the beguiling Adeline is in over her head and too proud to ask for help. He vows to protect her, no matter how hard she balks.

A widow, Adeline guards her heart carefully and doesn’t want Alec ruining her chance to expose this corruption, no matter how attractive or charming he is. But then the main suspect kidnaps her younger brother and demands Adeline’s research as ransom. To save him and crack the case, they must work together. But the biggest mystery they end up solving might just be how to capture each other’s heart.

Set in the latter part of the Victorian era, this romance has danger, excitement and mystery all wrapped into one. In a time when women are emerging as independent from the men in their lives, Linnie is a widow and a journalist with a leading San Francisco newspaper. Although she only deals with social and fashion issues, she longs to be an investigative reporter and her efforts in this regard lead her into danger. They also lead her into love when she meets Lord Alec MacCairn.

This book has it all. Spicy love scenes, dangerous adventures and even a kidnapping. Threaded through the story is a hint of humor which makes it believable and enjoyable to read. For most of the story I was wondering how on earth their love could survive when he lives on one side of the Atlantic and she lives on the shores of the Pacific. Linnie obviously wouldn’t leave her widowed mother and young brother, but Alec had responsibilities as the heir to a dukedom in Scotland. Very intriguing storyline with the two main characters accepting their love for each other, but wondering how they can make their love continue across the distance of two oceans.