The Right Kind of Reckless by Heather Van Fleet


The Right Kind of Reckless by Heather Van Fleet
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Maxwell Martinez

I’m in love with a woman I can’t have, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop myself from falling.

The problem? Her brother’s my best friend.

I shouldn’t want her this much. Not when it goes against the bro code. Not when I’ve never been able to commit to a woman for longer than a night.

But one look into her eyes and I’m a mess for her. She’s my everything. And I have to walk away with nothing.

This is a second book in Reckless Hearts series. The series features three war veterans and best friends. The Right Kind of Reckless is a Max and Lia’s story. Max is Lia’s brother’s best friend and comrade. They been together in a battlefields and the friendship between them is strong. Max knows that Lia is forbidden territory but when he is around her he thinks with his heart. Lia is also in love with Max. She fell for him the moment she met him.

For me The Right Kind of Reckless was very different from the most of the romance novels I read; because Max and Lia confessed their feelings pretty early in the story. Until that moment the story was intense and emotions were high, but after the mutual revelation there is no more that sweet anticipation of what will happen next. From that moment on, the story focused more on Max and Lia’s happy end and HEA. This was definitely not something that diminished my enjoyment of reading this story; it just slowed the pace and toned down intensity.

Max and Lia are very lovable and complex characters. Each character have somewhat troubled past. I hoped that the author will deal a bit more with their pasts and traumas and issues but, she did not. Due to that characters remained a bit unfinished and they did not changed a lot.

All in all The Right Kind of Reckless is story worth reading. It is funny, it is sexy, it is told from POV of both Max and Lia. Although is second installment in the series it can be read as a standalone.

Black Gold by Augustine Sam


Black Gold by Augustine Sam
Publisher: Authorsuite Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (156 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

They are young and carefree and broke. But one multinational company will alter their fate…

Femi and Jessica, a lowly interracial couple with 1st Class degrees in Chemistry and Economics, land two spectacular job offers within the first week of graduation. A free trip to New York to assess the first offer transforms their bleak honeymoon into a dream.

What they don’t know is that undisclosed details of the deal will pitch them against each other and drag them to the place where dreams end and nightmares begin.

Will their fragile marriage survive the greed, the captivating allure of Black Gold, and that vile, ancient tradition that seeks to determine who should be married and to whom?

The world of oil is more than just money and politics.

Femi and his wife, Jessica, are new college graduates on their honeymoon when Femi is presented with two amazing job offers in his field of chemistry. Both positions offer him the world, but both positions come with strings attached. The downside is that both positions will try his own ethics and perception of his world.

Black Gold is an interesting take from the inside of the oil industry. The author, Augustine Sam, brings deep research and insight into the world of Black Gold. He also overlays the social and societal perceptions of the relationship between Femi and Jessica as well as the cultural background which has deep undertones within the oil negotiations.

While the story has a believable plot, backstory, and great research; I feel that there could have been much more description and stronger dialogue throughout the story. Several parts of the story felt rushed, as through the author was interested in the direction of the story, but felt that the current section of the story was not as important to the overall development. One such event is Femi’s homecoming which almost feels out of place and not central to the overall storyline.

Overall the editing was clean and the central plot was strong. While description could have been more in depth and the dialogue more interactive, the suspense and twists throughout the entire book are riveting. The politics involved and the set-ups between two powers in the oil world make the central plot more explosive and entertaining. The story was fun and an interesting take into the world which few are truly privy to.

If you are looking for an interesting read that will give you a different perspective on the oil industry; make sure you don’t miss Black Gold!

A Murder in May by C. L. Shore


A Murder in May by C. L. Shore
Publisher: Wings ePress
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (352 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

When she learns about the murder of her childhood best friend, a nun join forces with a detective to find the killer. Their teamwork leads to progress on the case, but the killer proves elusive. Detective Jed McCracken sets a trap, and Sister Lucie becomes the bait. Will Sister Lucie outwit the murderer…or become the next victim?

A nun and a detective. Quite a combination.

This is almost what I’d call Crime Fiction since it involves a Detective using a nun to help him and the police with a case. A wife new to the convent having lost her husband in the line of duty teams up with her husband’s former partner. Makes for an interesting read.

My first thought about this book was that it seemed long. It is 352 pages and it did take me a little longer to read than other books. Could I say that there were a few “scenes” in this novel that could have been cut? Maybe so. On the other hand, I cannot say I was ever bored. In fact I was surprised that I was always eager to get back to it. There are not a lot of characters which makes it seem to me that the three that were in the spotlight could have been a little more developed. But they were each enjoyable and there was a lot of good dialog. It usually seems implausible that the police would work with a nun and a young lady working in a hotel but somehow this came across okay. I think this worked because it was well-written.

Since the characters were so likable, it seems that if they were fleshed out a little more, this would make a good series. Let’s hope we see book two.

Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill


Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (355 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou . . .

Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing . . . and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

Ms. Hill has become one of my ‘go-to” authors when I need a smile, entertainment and a romance that presses all my happy buttons. Her latest romantic adventure is Cajun Crazy and what I look for is found within its pages. I’m a satisfied reader, especially enhanced by the wonderful epilogue at the end.

My favorite character that stirs the plot pot is Tante Lulu with her close association with St. Jude. That woman’s faith is unshakeable and well known to all and sundry in Bayou Black, and for those that don’t know or worse, don’t believe, they will come to the conclusion that whether or not they believe, the type of things going on are too similar in nature to be simple coincidence. The conversations that result, the actions some characters take and the outcomes are totally grin-worthy.

Tante Lulu has her sights set on Adam and Simone, two people who have been burnt by relationships and love. They are both determined to avoid any serious entanglements. Adam’s daughter, Maisie, has other plans for her dad. Simone’s mom also has her own opinions about Simone’s single status. There are a whole host of secondary characters that flavor and color the community in which the hero and heroine now live in.

I found charming the many ways, clever or silly, serious or sophisticated words are mispronounced; it might be said they’ve been ‘Cajunized’. Some caused me to snort, roll my eyes or just outright laugh. It sure made the dialogue interesting.

The celebratory thread woven in for a good chunk of the book is Maisie’s planning of a ‘little’ party. That little nugget of an idea blossomed into opportunities for fun, hilarity and/or some good old fashioned head banging, face-palming groans. All are done with good intentions.

The external conflict comes from both Adam and Simone doing their jobs. At one point their cases cross and it becomes a dance of saying things that don’t say anything at all because the conflict of interest demands that neither one knows what the other is doing. Ms. Hill straddled that line quite effectively. The pursuit of the final outcomes produced some serious drama, and yet, when it could have gotten really nasty, the author has Adam rush to the rescue. Readers are in for an eye-popping treat of written description that left me with no choice but to giggle and laugh. Yeah, it was creepy too, but Ms. Hill’s writing prevented it from being overwhelming. Instead she shared the situation not only as a narrow escape but she colored the scene with the ridiculousness that it deserved.

I totally enjoyed Cajun Crazy because the novel delivers solid and believable character building. I liked meeting Adam and Simone, I adored the major role Adam’s daughter played in getting the hero and heroine together and I appreciated Adam’s final gesture of his love for Simone.

It’s all good, it’s fascinating and fun and makes Cajun Crazy an easy recommend for all Sandra Hill fans, new and old.

White Water Passion by Dawn Luedecke


White Water Passion by Dawn Luedecke
Publisher: Kensington Lyrical
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (230 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

The Montana Territory is one of the last outposts of the American West—where adventure as grand as the wide-open plains is around every corner, and passion as wild as the land itself beats in every heart…

Elizabeth Sanders isn’t afraid of anything, except what will happen to her beloved town if the Big Mountain Lumber Mill is destroyed. When she overhears a plot to do just that, she vows to put a stop to it, even if it means dressing as a young lumberjack to expose the saboteur. There’s only one problem with her plan—her brother’s handsome friend and fellow logger Garrett Jones, who arouses a desire within her soul as fierce as the river rapids.

When Garrett discovers that the odd new lad on the crew is in fact Beth, he’s shocked. A logging camp is no place for a young woman—especially the spirited beauty he’s admired for so long. Keeping her safe is easier said than done, however, as the attraction between them flares into true passion. As the danger mounts, Beth and Garrett must work together to survive the last log run down the wild rapids and claim any chance of saving the mill—and their chance at a future.

This book affected me in a way no other book has. I just finished reading White Water Passion and I feel emotionally and physically exhausted yet I feel like I just won something grand. I can’t even compare this feeling to anything in my personal life but I feel like I just participated in a river drive; as if I just survived riding a log down the wild rapids. I couldn’t wait to write the review for fear I’d lose this feeling that I have which is a feeling of amazing victory. There were so many unpredictable plot twists that were so suspenseful, I couldn’t read nor turn the pages fast enough. It’s amazing how I was sucked into the events in this story. Seriously, if I hear a twig snap behind me then I’m going to expect Garrett to save me.

Garrett, the hero … what can I say? He’s the complete package when it comes to a book boyfriend. Handsome, strong, smart, honorable and a leader, Garrett took his responsibilities to heart. He loved Elizabeth more than anything.

Elizabeth, the heroine, was awesome. She wasn’t your typical damsel in distress. I loved how her character developed. She was a brave lady who cared about others. I would most likely find myself being a friend of hers.

Together, Elizabeth and Garrett were part of an entertaining, exciting and suspenseful romance. I was impressed as to how well Elizabeth learned to manage the bateau. I’ve been in a canoe with my husband and I couldn’t paddle straight to save my life never mind against a current. I think my husband would have preferred if I was more like Elizabeth when it comes to paddling, cooking and chopping wood.

It was crazy how much I hated Victoria for most of the book and then ended up liking her at the end. I had no choice but to switch gears and genuinely change the condition of my heart towards that woman. I will forgive her but I won’t forget her. I pity the man that falls in love with her.

I really hope that Simon, Elizabeth’s brother, and Carrie, Elizabeth’s best friend, get their own book. I’d love to read how they develop into a couple with a happy ever after ending. Simon deserves to be loved.

Oh, and Wall, Garrett’s friend deserves a book of his own. I did almost wish that Elizabeth chose Wall over Garrett.

The only disappointments I had in this story were when Garrett discovers Elizabeth is on his crew dressed as a man. It is mentioned in the synopsis and I thought it was revealed too early in the story. I would have enjoyed keeping Garrett confused for a bit longer. That was a big pause for me. I don’t know how the other men on the crew didn’t figure it out sooner but it made for a fun read. The other disappointment was I really wanted an epilogue. I turned the page and there wasn’t one. I needed a little more afterglow. Unless there is a sequel and they will be mentioned then I could let it go. Otherwise, I would have liked a more conducive ending. The ending was a quick wrap up. It was too quick for me considering the pace of the rest of the book but I duly note that there weren’t any loose threads. They were just tied quickly.

Otherwise White Water Passion was a wild ride. I am very happy that I chose to read this book. This novel goes on my list of recommended reads. It was my first Dawn Luedecke novel and I don’t think it will be my last.

Unlikely Hero by Sean Michael


Unlikely Hero by Sean Michael
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (204 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When his three-year-old daughter is kidnapped, Eric Wilson doesn’t have many options, and time is running out. With nowhere else to turn, he reaches out to his ex, influential businessman Brock Vencenza, whose money and contacts might be able to save Josie.

Brock never got over Eric’s loss, and he’s more than willing to help when Eric needs him most. Together with law enforcement and private security, they embark on a twisting investigation to find the little girl—and who wants to hurt her and destroy both men in the process. Under the circumstances, confessing he still has feelings for Eric would be inappropriate, but Brock can’t deny what’s in his heart. He doesn’t know if their love can be rekindled or if he can even protect Eric and Josie. But one thing is certain: Brock’s determined to be the hero in reality that he is in Eric’s eyes.

Despite their love for each other Brock and Eric simply hadn’t been able to fit properly into each other’s lives. Even though it had been many years since they’d broken up when Eric called for help with the emergency of his daughter’s kidnapping, Brock dropped everything to help. Against all odds they both find themselves wanting to try once again to make it work. Can this time go better?

This is a strongly emotional story that I totally loved. I got immediately sucked into the kidnapping of Josie – Eric’s daughter – and couldn’t stop reading from there. Brock and Eric are both well-drawn characters and vibrantly jump right off the page. Even though there’s plenty of drama surrounding Josie’s kidnapping and the action that follows on from there, so much of the rest of the story is normal – kiddie pools and bedtime stories, eating cookies and regular bedtime routines. I feel the author did an amazing job of showing both the normal level of day-to-day living but also had plenty of action and family drama too. This made the pace of the story feel super fast but also helped make what could have been a completely unrealistic plot feel not just understandable, but relatable too.

The romance between Eric and Brock bloomed at what I felt was a lovely pace. Even though there was plenty of history between the two men, it was quite some ago, so I feel that the rebuilding of that relationship was critical. Instead of just jumping right back into bed, both men had plenty to re-learn about each other and I loved how this was given a lot of time and shown thoroughly. This chemistry between Eric and Brock, filling in some of the gaps and both of them understanding where they’d gone wrong in the past, this all helped me feel that the foundation of their new relationship – despite all the drama and action of other things going on in both their lives – really helped make me believe, thoroughly, in the new relationship they built together. It felt realistic and strong to me and I loved this. The chemistry between them sizzled and when they finally did become intimate together it was like the perfect culmination of all that had been brewing and growing between them. I felt it was perfect and I loved it.

While there is a lot of drama, action and the initial kidnapping of Josie, overall I found this to be a lovely, emotional and exceedingly well written story. The romance between Eric and Brock was strongly written and – despite the exceptionally dangerous circumstances – realistic. I could see both men as completely normal men in an extraordinary situation. Best of all their love and the coming together of their little family was a wonderful story and one I know I will eagerly and happily read numerous times again. Strongly recommended.

The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde


The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: Full Length (362 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Something has been asleep in forty-year-old cattle rancher Aiden Delacorte for a long time. It all comes back in a rush during a hunting trip, when he’s suddenly attuned to the animals around him, feeling their pain and fear as if it were his own. But the newfound sensitivity of Aiden’s “wake up” has its price. He can no longer sleepwalk through life, holding everyone at arm’s length. As he struggles to cope with a trait he’s buried since childhood, Aiden falls in love with Gwen, a single mother whose young son bears a burden of his own.

Sullen and broken from his experiences with an abusive father, Milo has turned to acting out in violent and rebellious ways. Aiden can feel the boy’s pain, as well as that of his victims. Now he and Milo must sift through their pasts to find empathy with the innocent as well as the guilty, to come to terms with their deepest fears, and to finally discover the compassionate heart of a family.

I’ve never read a Catherine Ryan Hyde book I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and this one was no exception.

What I like most about this author’s stories is she lets you connect with the characters from page one, you feel for them, you cheer them on, and the lead character, Aiden, made me feel that way. The other characters are just as well created but it’s Aiden that you feel yourself empathizing with the most as he struggles with his new found ‘gift’, that of feeling others pain. Well, not just humans but animals too which isn’t a good thing for a man who’s a cattle rancher.

This story is a page turner and not just because of its plot but it you feel the essential emotional pull that makes you want to read more and read on to see how Aiden’s new life evolves. Another interesting character in this story is Milo, the young son of Aiden’s new love interest. Milo’s got his own issues, his own pain from the past and it’s all brought out beautifully when he and Aiden start to interact and gradually begin the healing process.

The dialogue is wonderful and the pacing spot on for a book of this length. I don’t think I’ve ever read any book by Ms. Hyde that hasn’t left me a bit teary eyed. You might not have experienced the same thing as the characters, but you, like Aiden in this story, can feel what they’re going through which for me is the trademark of a book that lives on in your heart.

This is a story I highly recommend for your winter reading list.

Reel Love by Elizabeth Hartey


Reel Love by Elizabeth Hartey
Publisher: Crimson Cloak
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (486 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

Annie Caslo is a successful, young doctor, but when she begins rethinking the career choices she’s made, she makes a decision to find a way to stay focused and achieve her true ambitions – that is until fate steps in and she is thunderstruck by Colt Ballard. He’s six foot three inches of heart-stopping hotness, an adept, roguish soccer star and also one of her interns. But he’s a player – on and off the field – and Annie has better things to do. Still, the combustible chemistry between them is impossible to resist – Colt brings out feelings she never knew existed and Annie’s swept off her reluctant feet.

When she continues to second-guess her life choices, opportunities and obstacles begin piling up higher than the greasy Mexican food stacks she hates to admit loving. While in a state of emotional turmoil, she gets a celestial visit from a hunky, Hollywood heartthrob, lookalike, who claims to be her guardian angel. He takes her on a magical road trip to self-discovery with the help of several, dearly departed film icons.

Drawn into the excitement of a life she’s always dreamed of, this new life threatens to shatter the LIFE and love she already has—unless her quirky angel can help her find a way to have it all.

Reading this book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old adage “be careful what you wish for.” Annie Caslo became a doctor because that’s what her parents wanted for her, but she wanted to be an actress.  She was offered a job she could not turn down, but made the decision to only stay there a year, then follow her own dream.  Her plans are derailed when she meets Colt, and her life takes a very different plan than she envisioned.

The story is told from several points of view (including forays into Annie’s childhood).  While this helps explain what everyone is feeling (it was amusing seeing, at the beginning, Colt and Annie’s different views of the same incident in the coffee shop), it also prevented this reader from really connecting with Annie as much as I would have liked to.  I would have enjoyed being able to “feel” more of what Annie felt.  As it was, the many POV shifts never allowed me to completely immerse myself into the story.

The writing itself was clean with no grammatical issues.  Looking at it with an editor’s eye, there were areas that could have been tightened up more, but that is more of a personal issue on my part.

If you are a lover of classic movies, like I am, you will love all the references and quotes this author uses — it’s worth reading the book just for those!!  3.5 stars.

 

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Hot Water (Heart and Endurance, 3) by J.S. Marlo


Hot Water (Heart and Endurance, 3) by J.S. Marlo
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (198 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Can Agent Sullivan repress his feelings for the woman he secretly loves and use her as bait to catch a serial killer?

Nineteen-year-old varsity swimmer Maxime Tremblay is leery of the string of fatal accidents involving female athletes, but after she thwarts an attack, she can no longer ignore the connection between the victims.

Special Agent Ross Sullivan investigates the deadly events on campus only to discover they are not accidents, the athletes are not targeted at random, and the killer is only warming up.

To protect his only witness, he goes undercover as Maxime’s boyfriend, but as pretense and reality begin to blur, Sullivan faces the dilemma of putting her in harm’s way to stop the killings.

This is my second J.S. Marlo book yet my first book in the Heart and Endurance series. Even though this happens to be the third book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

I enjoy reading contemporary novels that are relevant to me in some manner. The last ten years my sons have swum competitively, therefore I was excited to read a story about a heroine who was a varsity competitive swimmer in college. Maxime Tremblay was a brave, caring and sweet yet fiery red-headed nineteen year-old woman.
The hero, Special Agent Ross Sullivan, was competent, confident, safe and of course, handsome. He was also slightly older than Maxime. This age difference between Ross and Maxime was an internal conflict between the characters. As a mother of an almost nineteen year old I personally felt the internal conflict but from a parental perspective. Trust me when I tell you that it took an exemplary writing style to enable me to connect with this couple and their budding romance considering my ideal age expectations of a hero and heroine. I honestly struggled a tiny bit with Ross’s nicknames for Maxime. They made me feel he was a father figure at times more than a boyfriend. However they were appropriate in the context.

Maxime was very mature and responsible for her age. It was amazing how she balanced all her obligations while her life was in danger. The suspense/mystery plot made for a rapid paced page turner. It was unpredictable and the twists were clever. I’m not sure how realistic it all was but I was definitely entertained.

Over all I was pleased to read Hot Water. The ending was nicely wrapped up giving me complete closure which resulted in a satisfying sigh. I agreed with Maxime’s father when he gave Ross and Maxime his blessings. This was a clean romance with just enough chemistry that made it a heartwarming love story with well-developed characters that will linger in my mind for days to come. I wish them all the best as they go on in their life journey.

Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen


Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (416 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy―but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion…

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard―until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done―fight for what he wants.

Amazing, this story is absolutely amazing. When I started it I wanted to read it in one sitting and on the other hand I did not want to end it.  Third Son’s Charm is a story about Ewan Mostyn and Lady Lorraine. Ewan is a son of a nobleman; but he is the third child and also because of his learning disabilities his father does not like him. Therefore he joined the army and became a decorated war hero. Ewan is a strong and silent type. He is perfect material for a bodyguard. So it comes at no surprised that Duke of Ridlington hired him to watch over his daughter Lady Lorraine. Lady Lorraine is Ewan’s complete opposite. Where he is silent, she is chatty, where he is big, she is petite. But as every romance novel reader knows: opposites attract. I absolutely adored the way Ewan and Lorraine’s attraction was described. Each scene containing the two of them was filled with electricity and high emotions.

Both characters are amazing and they both have their own issues. Ewan was bullied as a child because he was big and because of his learning disability. Due to that his self-esteem is low. But he is not full of pride and thus not afraid to ask for help. On the other hand he acts like nothing can break him and undo him… until Lorraine. Lorraine has her fair share of issues. Although she is a daughter of duke and high expectations are put on her, she bends rules and misbehaves all the time. She is stubborn, determined and bright and she has a kind heart.

Besides being very hot, this story is also funny and it contains some adventure. I highly recommend reading it. Third Son’s a Charm is definitely a wonderful beginning of the series about younger sons of nobility who were all members of an elite military group. I am anxiously looking forward to the next story in the series.