Where Danger Lies by Donna Del Oro


Where Danger Lies by Donna Del Oro
The Jake Bernstein FBI Series, Volume 3
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense/Mystery
Rating: Spicy
Length: Full (278 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

FBI Special Agent Jake Bernstein is recruited to help investigate two apparently unrelated cases while on medical leave in San Diego. A female officer assigned to Naval Base Coronado has been killed and a Muslim woman is viciously beaten and left for dead.

Meg Larsen is in San Diego pursuing additional teaching credentials but is interested in becoming an active volunteer and helping Jake in his investigations. She’s more than ready for Jake to commit to her and give her a reason to alter her career plans but also gets drawn into the danger that surrounds his cases.

Jake must use his training and skill to keep everyone safe but there’s a chance that even if he’s successful in solving the cases, his relationship with Meg may be a fatality.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I haven’t read the first two in the series, so I worried a bit about being able to understand the undercurrents between characters and the backgrounds and such. While I do think my experience with the story might have been richer if I’d read the others, and I would have understood Meg and Jake’s relationship more fully, I never felt lost during my reading of this book.

The plot was solid and interesting. The author does a good job with red herrings and mysteries and leaves the reader wondering just which way is up. There are plenty of misleading clues, along with solid ones, so we are just as deceived and confused as Jake and his NCIs are. It takes some sorting and sleuthing to figure it all out, but the mystery definitely comes to a satisfying ending.

The romance, for me, wasn’t the strongest part of the book, and this may be where my not having read the first two stories may have put me at a slight disadvantage. In the beginning, it seems as if Meg doesn’t trust Jake (she grills him a bit about whether he was with another woman when he traveled for work) and that made me not like her as much as I wanted to. Of course, we’re in Jake’s POV and can see that he wasn’t being unfaithful, and can also see how he feels about Meg, so that may be part of that, too. I was already on his side and didn’t like Meg questioning his loyalty.

There were some odd word choices, and some phrasings throughout, that were a bit awkward for me. It’s very likely a personal issue and may not bother most readers, but they did pull me out of the story on occasion.

That said, I really did like Jake and enjoyed watching him (with help from a few other folks) unwind the mystery of the murder and assault. He’s a good, honorable guy with plenty of smarts (and looks) and made a great hero for this romantic suspense novel.

All-in-all an enjoyable read. I do wish I’d read the first two books, but only because I really liked Jake and wanted to know more about him and his background. My TBR pile is incredibly tall, but I may have to add the first two Jake Bernstein books to the top!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Falling for Hope by Eryn LaPlant

Falling for Hope by Eryn LaPlant
Publisher: First Born Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (260 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Alexander Bronwyn keeps his heart well-guarded, except when it comes to his son, Elliot. When his son’s declining health requires a dire bone marrow transplant, adopted Alexander must delve deeply into his past to find those who share the same DNA.

Elaine Hannel thought she lost her first-born forty years prior during childbirth. That is until he came to her uncovering a decades’ old mystery she didn’t know existed. Shocked, Elaine is forced to relive the past she’d put behind her so long ago, with a former lover and the death of her child she only met for a blink of a moment.

While the rest of the Hannels are confused, and feel deceived, Lucy Brooks is the only person accepting and sympathetic of Alexander and his plight. A single parent herself, she sees in Alex a man who will do anything for his son, no matter the pain and conflict it causes. What she doesn’t see is the soul connection to a man so overburdened with life, all he has left is to let go and let her take some of that away for him.

I know this is a romance, but I’m telling you right now… Elliot is my favorite book character of the year.

Falling For Hope follows the stories of two people whose love lives up to this point have been abysmal. Neither has a good record for choosing a partner, and yet they’re both still so big-hearted and loving. Both Alexander and Lucy are adorable folks and I thoroughly enjoyed following their story. And I loved the entire group of characters we get to see — I haven’t read the other books in the series, and while it was clear I’d missed something (the other couples would casually mention how they’d met, and there were clearly some very exciting stories there) this book stands solidly as a standalone.

I did think Alexander’s story was believed too easily. Yes, I know Elaine’s story was a secret and folks couldn’t have known it easily, and apparently he resembled his father, but the Hannels are a very well-to-do family and would be an easy mark for a con man. So I did have some reservations at how quickly Elaine was willing to welcome him into the fold with no actual proof. Of course, the kids had their issues, but it was one of those things that poked at me. Also, as much as I loved Elliot (and I really, really did) he was pretty darn precocious for his age. Also, given their love life backgrounds, I was honestly surprised at how quickly our two main characters fell madly in love.

However, those concerns aside, this is ultimately a story about love, in its many forms. Above and beyond the romance between Alexander and Lucy, we get Elaine’s story (and boy, does her husband love her), the story between mother and son (Lucy and Cameron), the story between father and son (Alexander and Elliot) and so much more. It tugged the heartstrings and made me feel and that’s the sign of a really good story.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hearts at Seaside by Addison Cole


Hearts at Seaside by Addison Cole
Publisher: World Literary Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (280 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They’re sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you’ll be begging to enter their circle of friends!

Hearts at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster’s steamy romance novel Seaside Hearts. The stories and characters remain the same and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

In HEARTS at SEASIDE…

Jenna Ward is vivacious, spontaneous, and confident—except when she’s around the man who stole her heart years earlier, strikingly handsome, quiet, and reliable Pete Lacroux. After years of trying to get his attention and overwhelmed from dealing with her mother’s new cougar lifestyle, Jenna’s giving up on Peter—and is ready to explore other men.

As the eldest of five siblings, with an alcoholic father to care for, boat craftsman Pete Lacroux always does the right thing and has no time for a real relationship. He’s looking forward to seeing his friend Jenna, a welcome distraction who’s so sexy and painfully shy that she equally entertains and confuses him.

When Jenna picks up a hard-bodied construction worker, jealousy ignites Pete’s true feelings, and he’s unable to ignore the desires for Jenna he never realized he had. But Pete’s not the quiet guy he appears to be, and his life is anything but conducive to a relationship. Can Jenna handle the real Pete Lacroux—the most alpha male she’s ever seen—or will she crack under pressure? And can Pete reclaim the life he once had without tearing apart his family?

Hearts at Seaside is a light read with plenty of fun and sizzle. Don’t let the “sweet” tagline fool you…much.

I’ve never read a book by this author, but was glad I chose to this time. While clearly part of a series, it’s easily read as a standalone (though I imagine a reader would pick up on more “in” jokes, depth, etc., if they’ve read the previous books).

Jenna has spent her last six summers pining over hottie, Pete. But whenever she’s around him, she’s completely tongue-tied, leading him to believe she’s a shy mouse who’d not really interested. Lots of mixed messages between them at the start, but when Jenna starts dating another hottie, Charlie the construction guy, all bets are off. It wakes up Pete’s feral side and he’s determined to claim Jenna for his own.

My absolute favorite thing about this book was the friendship between the four ladies who spent their summers at Seaside. They’re very different, yet very devoted to one another. Their playful interactions kept a smile on my face the entire time.

I was surprised at how much the book revolved around sex and sexual talk and hot, hot, hot foreplay. Yes, the actual bedroom door might be closed, but this is not a typical “sweet” romance. So if you go into this (as I did) expecting that, you’ll be … surprised. Depending on your preferences regarding sex in romance will decide whether that’s a good or bad surprise for you! “Sweet with Heat” is definitely a good descriptor. There’s plenty of heat!

I think the one drawback to my not having read the first two books was that I felt Jenna and Pete got very hot, very fast without very many pages going by. I realize they have a past — years’ worth of past — but it was still surprising. And Pete is pretty forceful, something Jenna appreciates, but occasionally came across as bossy/pushy to me. However, the fact he rescued a puppy and also the care he takes with his father adds a lot of points. He might be a little pushy, but his heart is huge and loyal.

Also, despite this being a pretty light, fluffy read, there is some dark/depth to it when it comes to Pete’s father–an alcoholic who desperately misses his late wife. The parts with him about broke my heart, and it also creates the only actual conflict for our couple’s relationship. Jenna’s mom getting over her divorce was treated a little more lightly, but is still a heart-string tugger, at least for me.

All-in-all, the writing was solid, the editing clean, the characters interesting and well-created, the storyline fun and believable–a solidly good read I can recommend to lovers of romance.

One Truth Revealed by Robena Grant


One Truth Revealed by Robena Grant
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (268 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

At thirty-five-years of age, and with pressure from her adoptive mother, Lina Bright is ten days away from undergoing Artificial Insemination in London. She doesn’t need a husband. She travels to Oldcastle to meet her biological mother, a spinster who runs a village teashop. To keep her mother’s secret, but determine her father’s identity, she creates the cover of scouting for property to start a new school.

A bachelor at forty, Drew Compton is an English Professor in Oxford. Diagnosed with “poor swimmers” his fiancée left him. He plans to live out his life alone, with his books. Disliking his mother’s secrets and controlling ways, he seldom returns to Oldcastle. But a chance meeting has him intrigued. Who is this chic Londoner?

As Lina’s plans for a school become a reality, romance blossoms, but roadblocks ensue.

Will Lina and Drew trust in each other to overcome the difficulties and create a future together?

With a passel of adorable characters to drive this story, One Truth Revealed was both entertaining and enchanting.

I have to admit first off that I didn’t love the start of this book. Lina felt vaguely “stalkerish” when she saw a cute guy in a car and follows him to his destination, then positions herself in a manner to meet with him. I don’t think he realized what was going on, but I was a little icked out by her behavior. Drew, however, was absolutely charming and I could see why Lina was intrigued by him. Conveniently, he was on his way to the same small town she was. And once I got to know Lina better, I was definitely on her side.

Once they reached Oldcastle, things really got fun and busy. I really adore small town stories, because everyone is always all up in everyone else’s business and it’s just a hoot. While not laugh-out-loud funny, I did have a smile on my face quite often while reading. I just adored so many of the folks there!

I appreciated Lina’s attempts to figure out who her father was and I loved how she integrated herself into the townspeople’s lives. She was as charmed as I was–most of the time. But there are so many secrets and lies, some generations old, that it causes problems with her goals, and with her relationship with Drew. I appreciated the somewhat slower pace of the book as it felt exactly right with the setting and characters as well.

If you like a character driven story, with a romance between somewhat more mature characters (Lina is 35, Drew is 40) I can definitely recommend this. My quibbles were few and my enjoyment was high.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Temptation Trials by B. Truly

Temptation Trials (Part 1) by B. Truly
Publisher: Self
Genre: Sci-Fi (dystopian/futuristic)
Length: Full (261 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Poppy

Will You Be Tempted? Will Love Save Your Soul?

One nation under his reign.

Cardinal sins of man caused humanity to pay the price. Cali Nasser grew up in a world succeeding World War III. The aftermath forced the world dictatorship that she must now live in. A new Regime arose from the ashes. They demanded obedience and cooperation from every citizen, even in matters of the heart.

One domain … One accord … One nation. That is the moral code. In Cali’s eyes, it all revolves around a twisted plot for control.

It used to sicken Cali how people would allow the Regime to test their love through the Temptation Trials. That is, until she met Kincade. Cali’s entire point of view changes when she falls for him. She struggles with herself, debating if she should challenge the government’s law of arranged marriage.

Cali’s childhood friend, Stefani, always kept a positive perspective about their lives until she was threatened with the same dilemma, at odds over the man she loves.

Now Cali and Stefani face a desperate choice—submit to the Regime’s will, or fight for what they value most—love. Although lust, mistaken for love, could lead to damnation. Do they give up on love or sign up for the Temptation Trials, a reality TV show where every temptation is laid before them?

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Can love save their souls?

An interesting premise … sort of “The Bachelor” meets “Temptation Island” with a touch of the Hunger Games.

Set in our future, post-WWIII, there is a all-powerful leader who’s set down a number of rules in order to maintain order and control. One of these rules involves who you can marry. No one gets to marry for love anymore, but all marriages are assigned based on assumed compatibility. However, if you think you’re in love with someone, you can marry them if you make it through the Temptation Trials.

Cleanly written, the story certainly has an interesting premise. I liked our heroines (and heroes, though we don’t see them as much once the trials start — the story is told through alternating POV of two heroines) and admired their determination to do what they thought was right. But weeks in the company of other men, being forced into dating several of them and then having to choose one to spend the last part of the trials with … it’s more than most people would be able to resist. Our ladies are no exception.

I did find the story a little sparsely written … the author seemed to be in a bit of a hurry to get from place to place, and some description was lacking. Also, though there weren’t overt grammar errors or typos, there’s more to good editing than that. The story had a bit too much “telling” instead of “showing” and I don’t think a character ever “said” anything. It was blurted, screamed, announced, shouted, pointed out, etc. I have to admit it drove me a little nuts, but it may not be the same for you.

That said, though, I definitely got caught up in the characters. There are quite a few to keep track of, but their names and personalities are unique enough it’s not too hard. There is lots of sex talk and plenty of sexual action (not all intercourse) but this isn’t surprising. The idea of the trials is to show people that love isn’t true and they should fall in with the ruler’s decisions.

There is some mystery involved as well, and the story ends in a cliffhanger, so be warned. However, if you’re looking for a smoking hot, futuristic story to sink your teeth into, this one is a decent choice for you. I’d read the second one, if only to find out who ends up with who!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Recipient by Audrey J. Cole

The Recipient by Audrey J. Cole
Publisher: Gum Tree Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/suspense
Length: Full (301 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

A year after serial killer Michael Rhodes is executed and allowed to donate part of his brain as an organ transplant, Sergeant Wade McKinnon gets called to a murder scene that shares uncanny similarities to those of the late Michael Rhodes. Other similar killings happen around Seattle, and Wade seems to be the only person still alive who knows enough about Michael Rhodes’s murders to be able to replicate them. When evidence found at one of the crime scenes points to Wade as the killer, he races to find the real culprit before it’s too late to clear his own name.

Elle is overjoyed when her husband, Brian, gets a second chance at life when he receives a partial brain transplant after suffering a debilitating stroke at the age of thirty-seven. Their lives seem to return to normal, but Elle notices a disturbing change in Brian’s behavior. When Elle learns that her husband’s brain cell transplant came from Michael Rhodes, she fears that Brian now has the mind of a serial killer.

A psychological thriller — my favorite kind of story — with a twist.

The Recipient follows a couple of folks… one is Wade, a cop and a recovering alcoholic who, six years prior had arrested the person called the Seattle Slasher, who was subsequently put to death by the state. However, new murders start to occur, with details known only to those closest to the case and this puts Wade under the microscope. People in his own department begin to think he could be committing copy cat murders.

The other main character is Elle. Her husband receives an experimental brain cell transplant, which restores his former health after a stroke, but he starts behaving oddly and out of character. When Elle finds out the cells came from the Seattle Slasher, she wonders if personality characteristics can also be transferred with those cells.

I love that Wade is not perfect. He has problems and doubts. His best friend and partner was killed during the apprehension of the Seattle Slasher, and he’s never completely recovered from that. He’s been sober just over a year now, and is doing his best to stay that way, but the new murders test that resolve. Elle loves her husband, or at least loves the man he was. She grows to be afraid of this new man, and eventually she works with Wade in trying to discover just exactly what is going on. Wade needs to prove his innocence, and she wants to discover just exactly what is happening to her husband. Both of these characters really tugged at my heart. They’re good people; earnest, kind, caring. And stuck in a set of circumstances neither could have ever imagined.

I’m not a fan of infidelity, and have to admit I was worried originally as I read it, that this book might stray into that territory. It doesn’t, really, though both characters do grow to have some feelings for one another. This is, first and foremost, a mystery and a well written one at that. The story and the characters drive this book forward, and made me want to keep reading. It’s smoothly written, and the only time I had any issues with the writing was the use of “alright” instead of “all right”. It’s actually used quite a bit, especially near the end, and it’s one of my language pet peeves (blame an exuberant junior high teacher). Also, the way the ending panned out had a frequently used technique that I’m just not a fan of in mysteries (I can’t be more specific without spoilers — and I promise, you do NOT want this story spoiled for you). Those were the main reasons, both based on things that are personal to me and may not bother you, that this story didn’t get the full five stars.

I really liked Wade and Elle. I noted on the cover of this book that it’s “An Emerald City Thriller” and I’m hoping this means we’ll see more of these two in the future. I’d sure like to see how they move forward after all the trauma of this book.

I highly recommend The Recipient to fans of the genre and look forward to reading more from this talented author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!

Allegiance by Marilee Brothers


Allegiance by Marilee Brothers
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (312 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Transplanted California girl, Melanie Sullivan, vows to stay in Oregon until she nails the killer of her best friend, Dani. Mel’s ability to search a soul for innocence or guilt is a big plus. Her love for Billy the Kid, former Marine and now a detective with the 3 Peaks police department is also a factor in her decision. She’s not quite sure what’s going on with Billy. Has the PTSD from his Middle East deployments returned?

When a hate crime is committed in 3 Peaks, Mel is recruited by sexy Homeland Security agent, Mick, who requires her soul-reading ability. Mick doesn’t hide his feelings. He’s more than eager to step in if Billy steps out, a complication Mel doesn’t need or want. As she goes undercover, Mel embarks on a dangerous journey, aided by her Uncle Paco and devoted friends. Along the way, she learns a valuable lesson about the power of forgiveness.

Filled with interesting and unique characters, and a heroine with a unique ability, Allegiance was absolutely entertaining.

We jump right into the story, after an off the page quickie with her boyfriend, Billy. Mel is sure she knows who killed her best friend and is basically stalking him in order to prove it. She’s asked for help from another friend, Mick, who wants to be more than friends… but then more things start happening.

Okay, first the one and only thing I didn’t like about this story: the point of view. It’s told in first person, present tense and it honestly drove me crazy. Had I known this ahead of time, I likely wouldn’t have selected it for review, because it’s the one POV I can not stand. Despite the engaging stories and characters here, I kept putting the book down and struggled to make it through simply because of the chosen POV. This is absolutely a personal preference, but I had to put it out there because it overshadowed everything else for me.

That said, the author’s done a fantastic job populating her story with interesting, quirky characters. While it’s clear there was a story previous to this, I had no issues at all keeping up with this book. Perhaps my experience would have been richer if I’d read the first book, but I honestly didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

I liked Mel. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes…the ability to “read” a person by looking into their eyes would be both disturbing and annoying. As much as we might profess the desire to know the truth, it’s a heavy burden to bear.  She handles it quite well.

I definitely had my preference for which of the two men who wanted her I liked best. I’m not going to say here because I want to avoid spoilers, but I don’t think my preference was the same as Mel’s despite the way things were situated at the end of this book.  I didn’t feel like she had honest feelings for the one she’s with at the end, so the next book should be interesting.

The mystery kept me engaged and turning pages and the wrap up was solid and believable. But the strength of this story was absolutely the characters. I’m a huge fan of character driven fiction, so that was a huge plus for me.

All in all, Allegiance is a good book. Likely had a different POV been chosen, I’d have rated it higher and enjoyed it more. If that type of thing doesn’t bother you, then I highly recommend it… it’s a solid book.

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

DESIRE RUNS DEEP

Somewhere off the coast of Greece, a king’s ransom in gold, emeralds, and silver coins lies waiting at the bottom of the sea. Finding this ancient treasure would be a dream come true for marine archeologist Calista West. But that’s not why she’s here. She didn’t climb aboard Jonah Cutter’s magnificent yacht seeking fortune or fame. She’s come for revenge—against the sexiest, most seductive, modern-day pirate she’s ever encountered…

Like his famous half brothers, Jonah is a master of salvaging ships—and driving women mad with his movie-star looks and raw animal magnetism. Tall, dark, and devastating, he manages to make Callie forget her mission. Every moment they share under the hot Mediterranean sun is an erotically-charged adventure neither can resist. But when Callie discovers what he’s really after—the lost city of Atlantis—is it too late to change the course of her heart…or go all in with the lover of her dreams?

Looking for Atlantis! Wow, so not what I expected. Stormchaser is third in a series. I wasn’t aware of this when I selected it, and I had no issue following the story, though–as always–it will likely be a richer experience if you’ve read the others.

This is my second Cherry Adair book, and she definitely has a “way” that she writes. Regardless of the storyline, attraction between the H/h is hot, erotic and immediate. Looking for a seriously sexy story? Look no further.

Jonah reminds me of any good, fictional “pirate”. Yes, he’s the captain of a ship, but I could picture him hundreds of years earlier underneath the skull and crossbones. Dark, strong, mysterious. However, he’s far to honorable for that.

Callie isn’t as honorable, and it took me some time to warm up to her. She’s on his ship on a lie, a big one, and it was tough for me to forgive her for it because I liked Jonah.

The premise of the book was interesting, too … I love the idea of potentially finding Atlantis. It’s this big mystery that lingers and makes a person wonder. Very well handled by the author.

The only hiccup I had was the lack of a true connection between Callie and Jonah. Heat? Oh yeah, in spades. Lots of sheet time here. But that little “spark” that makes a romance reader’s heart go pitty-pat? I didn’t feel it authentically.

Still, Ms. Adair’s writing is strong, descriptive and very clear and visual. I’m only just now finding her, but thankfully, she has a full backlist for me to explore. And I assuredly will.

Blood Dragons by Rosemary A. Johns

Blood Dragons by Rosemary A. Johns
Publisher: Self
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full (294 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Escape into a supernatural world of love, revenge and redemption, where vampires are both predator and prey.

TRUE BLOOD MEETS NEVERWHERE
1960s London. Kathy is a seductive singer. But she’s also human. Light knows his passion for her is reckless but he’s enchanted. Yet such a romance is forbidden. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.

When Light discovers his ruthless family’s horrifying experiments, he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared. What dark revelations will Light reveal at the heart of the experiments? Will he be able to stop them in time? The consequences of failure are unimaginable. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.

A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.

Blood Dragons is the explosive first instalment of the new fantasy series Rebel Vampires from the critically acclaimed author Rosemary A Johns. Experience a thrilling new twist on urban fantasy with vampires, Rockers and dark romance.

First off, I need to state that I’m not calling this a romance, despite being (somewhat) marketed as one. More, it’s an autobiographical novel written by Light, a vampire. It’s written (ala the Notebook by Nicholas Sparks) in order to remind his human love, who is aged and suffering from dementia, of their past. Much of the book doesn’t even really include Kathy.

The author has done a stellar job, though, of capturing Light’s unique voice. Given that it’s in first person and essentially being “told” to us, it’s remarkably engaging and well written. He’s a tough character to like, at least at first. He’s so angry and rough… but as we get to know where he’s from and how he became who he is now, it’s understandable and he becomes more sympathetic. I’m honestly surprised at the depth of skill shown by the author to write the book in such a fashion and make it ultimately so readable.

I did, however, truly struggle with the abundance of British slang. I’m familiar with much of the commonly used words (like “chuffed”, or the fact that in the UK what we call a trunk here in the US is the boot). However, in this book, nearly ever page is packed with slang/British words I simply didn’t understand and often times couldn’t infer their meaning from the use. It was exceptionally frustrating and pulled me out of the story constantly. It made reading the book, which should have been a joy because of the author’s talent, more of a chore than I would have liked.

Additionally, I’m a big fan of happy endings. I don’t read Mr. Sparks’ books for that reason. This book tugs deeply at the heart-strings, and really can’t possibly end well (immortal in love with a mortal is just asking for heartbreak, yes?).

However, I’m still in awe of the writing itself. Descriptive, interesting, evocative. For folks who enjoy perhaps more “literary” paranormal fiction that will challenge the brain a bit, and creates an entirely new vampire mythology, then I highly recommend it. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the slang, and the impossible-to-be-truly-happy but understandable and ultimately, the only ending it could have in order to be satisfying, this author has writing chops.