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.

Watchmakers Heart by Juli D Revezzo


Watchmakers Heart by Juli D Revezzo
Publisher: Raven Queen Publications
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (127 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

For Miss Phoebe Lockswell, fashionable London tea parties and balls aren’t her style. Instead, she prefers to tinker tirelessly with a clockwork diffuser she’s built from scratch. If only she can get the invention to work on command, she might earn her way out of an arranged marriage to a repugnant member of the House of Commons.

London watchmaker Mortimer Kidd was brought up hard in the arms of an infamous London gang. Despite the respectability he strives for now, the gang leader is blackmailing him. When Mortimer sees Phoebe’s diffuser, he thinks he’s found a way to buy himself out of trouble. The brash Phoebe manages to steal his heart, however, before he can purloin her invention.

Will Mortimer’s unsavory past catch up to him before he convinces Phoebe of his devotion? Worse, once Phoebe learns the truth, will she ever trust him again?

Phoebe is the daughter of a well to do lawyer, Mort is a watchmaker. While she had engineered an animated statue to enhance love making, Mort is hiding a past that would threaten his life and friends from his childhood. If he allows Phoebe into his world it will also threaten her reputation and life.

When Phoebe’s father tries to force her into marrying the objectionable Sir Dugard, she resists and Mort comes to her aid.

This is a fascinating Victorian era love story. It travels from the affluent house of Phoebe’s family to the slums of Whitechapel. In the background is the mysterious Doggett who holds Mort’s life and future in his hands. A lot of the story is shrouded in mystery and the couple find their budding romance is fraught with problems, and even Phoebe’s best friend turns against her.

Murder, theft, blackmail all these are present at one stage or other of the story. It also shows a view of the stews of the east end of London. This is one of those books I couldn’t put down. I read it in one day as I wanted to know what happened.

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!

Fool For You by Rina Gray


Fool For You by Rina Gray
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (126 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Sports journalist Melanie Foster has achieved most of her goals: Bomb.com job—check. Tomboy-to-smoking-hottie makeover—check. Convince her best friend, Damien Richards, to slide a ring on her finger and father her two-point-five kids—not so much. When she activates Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, she never imagines her BFF already has plans to stroll down the wedding aisle with another woman.

Damien’s in the middle of crisis mode. The non-profit for young athletes at which he volunteers is in financial trouble. He’ll pull out all the stops to rescue the organization that saved his life after his career-ending injury—even if it means sacrificing his personal happiness.

But when he finally wakes up to love and the very non-brotherly feelings he’s long held for Mel, it just might be too late. Damien must convince her that he’s worth the risk and turn the tables to show her he’s the one ready to be a fool for love.

Operation: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me is in full effect, but will it really bring Melanie the love she seeks?

I thought it was weird that Melanie Foster waited all these years to confess her love to her long time friend Damien Richards. The timing couldn’t be more off since Damien is in a serious relationship and just recently got engaged. Melanie is all in when it comes to getting Damien to love her. With his fiance Vanessa in the way it may not be as easy as Melanie thought.

Melanie is a smart and career minded woman that knows a lot about sports. From tomboy to heels and lady-like attire, Melanie came off as self centered in her timing to reveal her feelings to Damien. She tried once back in college to tell Damien how she felt but to no avail. Damien is a caring and likable guy that has his hands full. Refurbished Dreams, a mentor organization that helped Damien from a troubled path when he was younger, is now being closed down. Damien, a volunteer at the center, offers his help to keep the center open along with being pressured to marry his girlfriend Vanessa. With secrets, jilted love and friends that have your back and others that do the stabbing this makes for a interesting read.

The author has a good writing style with humor and up to date jargon. The plot is interesting, but has a few slow parts. At first I thought it was a little predictable but I was glad to see there are a few surprises at the end. A recommendation to readers that enjoy a quick read that delivers a happy ending to a woman set on getting her man.

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.

Gangs of Galis by Nicholas Woode-Smith


Gangs of Galis by Nicholas Woode-Smith
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (23 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Galis City, crime-ridden capital of Zona Nox, was formed in the desperation of war. For mafia boss, Danny Marzio, this desperation is opportunity. Where the rest of the city sees grit and dirt, he sees glitz and red lights.

For Danny, crime is a business. Violence is just a part of the job. But when one of his men is assassinated, Danny realises that Galis cannot stay like this forever.

In the flames of a perpetual gang war and the shadows of conspiracy, Danny Marzio sees an opportunity. He doesn’t want to be an emperor, but to ensure the survival of his business – he is willing to do whatever is necessary.

Gangs of Galis is a thrilling crime sci-fi prequel to Fall of Zona Nox.

Sometimes law and order comes from the last place you’d expect it to.

The descriptions were vivid. I especially liked how Mr. Woode-Smith showed the audience what was going on in the very first scene when Danny discovered the body of one of his men, Michel. Despite the fact that the main character was looking at a bloody murder scene, there was something eye-catching about the way the author described Michel’s last pose. It was the perfect sendoff to a character who sounded like someone Danny had depended on for a long time.

The plot needed more development. I had so much trouble following the storyline the first time I read it that I had to read it again in order to understand what was going on. There wasn’t enough time spent explaining how everyone knew each other or why Danny was trying to unite all of the various gangs that ran Galis City. I felt like I got bits and pieces of the puzzle instead of the whole thing, and that made it hard to understand even though I was fascinated by the premise.

One of my favorite parts of this tale were the futuristic curse words the characters used. They were creative but also easy to figure out once I paid attention to how the characters used them. While they didn’t sound anything like modern curse words, they served the exact same functions in conversations. This made it easy to understand what the characters were talking about even without any kind of translation going on.

If you like gritty science fiction, give Gangs of Galis a try.

Max and Rosie by Arnold Greenberg


Max and Rosie by Arnold Greenberg
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Max has been in love with his wife Rosie ever since she sat next to him in their Chaucer class nearly forty years ago. Now she is dying of Alzheimer’s. He devotes himself to taking care of her, bringing her tea and toast each afternoon, going to the park to feed the ducks, and reminiscing.

When he can no longer care for her alone, he hires Robin as Rosie’s live-in nurse. As time passes his attraction to Robin grows. They share meals, movies, and confidences while Rosie fades further away. He dreams of kissing Robin and telling her how he feels—but wonders could she ever feel the same about him. When Rosie dies, Max dreads the day Robin will move out. What will he do without her vibrant ways, her sweet smile? What will he do without her?

Some people say age is just a number. Does this rule also apply to falling in love with an adult who is much younger than you?

Max was such a likeable guy. His devotion to his wife was plain to see, especially as he adjusted to how quickly Rosie was losing all of her memories. Watching him grieve the loss of their relationship as she forget who he was and all of the happy years they’d had together made me blink back tears. I wanted more than anything for him to somehow find a happy ending for himself.

There were pacing issues when it came to the development of the relationship between Robin and Max. Nothing happened between them for a long time, so I was surprised by how quickly things started moving once they began to explore the possibility of becoming more than friends. This didn’t seem like something either one of these characters would do because of how thoughtful and methodical they were in the rest of their lives. I would have really liked to have more hints about their shifting feelings earlier on so that the later development of their relationship wasn’t so sudden.

I liked the fact that the main characters in this tale all had well-rounded backstories. Knowing how Max and Rosie had spent the last thirty-seven years together was just as important as hearing about Robin’s childhood and learning why she decided to become a nurse. I felt like I got to know all three of them incredibly well because of how much time the author spent tying their pasts to the lives they were currently living.

Max and Rosie should be read by anyone who is in the mood for something bittersweet.

Hero by Elsa Jade


Hero by Elsa Jade
Wolves of Angels Rest #1

Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (73 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A wandering werewolf returns to town during the mating season to become pack leader and reunites for one last fling with the high school crush he left behind, unaware of how short their time together might be…
________________________________

Maddie Joplin left the high desert town of Angels Rest with the searing memory of her one night in the arms of the local golden boy nipping at her heels. Now, years later, she’s back, haunted by a need she couldn’t outrun and determined to finally set herself free from wishes that can never come true.

In the army, Kane Villalobos traveled the world, seeking other shapeshifters who’d learned to live in harmony with human, only to find secrecy and death. He’s destined to become alpha of the Mesa Diablo pack, but he can’t forget the lush curves and quick mouth of the girl he had to leave behind. Seeing her again arouses his wolf in dangerous ways, and keeping her safe—from himself and the perils of the werewolf world—might mean letting her go forever.

I’ve discovered a new addiction. The way Ms. Jade presented this world was immediately engaging with the first chapter. It’s always daunting when any author has to present to a reader their world building without sounding like it’s telling and not showing. What Ms. Jade showed me is that her heroine is strong and a good match for an equally strong hero and I enjoyed the aspect of second chances. There’s a mysticism that is woven throughout in addition to the paranormal aspect that together created a heady mix of perfection. I liked learning about their customs, beliefs, history and the secrets they keep. I learned all of that as Maddie, the heroine, put all the clues together to discover the impossible.

Kane is hunky, hard-bodied, willing and able to protect those he loves and he’s all alpha. Maddie is a good match for him and I really enjoyed watching them peel away the past to uncover their potential future. They just have to survive being hunted. The external conflict worked very well too.

The heat of their attraction and passion, and the figurative fireworks that erupts when they are skin to skin is so sexy it’s swoon-worthy. The bedroom door is wide open for those few times they explore each other in great detail but the bulk of the novella is their growing relationship, the plot that provided some drama and suspense, and the wonderful cast of characters that populate the town of Angels Rest.

One thing that surprised me about Hero was that for a short novella, the impact it made on me was as effective as a full 150 page novel. Everything balanced, everything worked, I got all the character building I needed to feel connected, engaged and vested in their happiness and safety. I am impressed.

Here’s something else that I have to mention – Ms. Jades’ word choice in dialogue and/or descriptions. I am simply astonished and delighted with so many turns of phrases and how she ‘showed’ me certain things, whether it be a person or a place or an event, in such a way that I could get a clear picture in my head of what she was trying to convey. Some authors show with words, Ms. Jade paints. Her canvas is ablaze with imagery that jumps off of the pages in Hero.

I do love me some great secondary characters and this novella gave me more than I expected. In fact, I was so completely hooked on Kane’s cousins that even before I ended this first book in the series I went book shopping and automatically ordered the next two. I am convinced that if the others are as good as this first introduction to Ms. Jade’s writing, I am going to be in reader nirvana. I’m a very happy, excited and tickled-pink reader. If you have never read this book, you are missing out. Hero is a short book that reads like a full length adventure and I highly recommend it to fans of hot paranormal romantic suspense readers, or just regular fans of paranormal romances. Can you tell I’m enamored?

Sweet Inspiration by Linda Carroll-Bradd


Sweet Inspiration by Linda Carroll-Bradd
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (50 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice for the musical festival, and she spies an intriguing stranger.

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing from one competition to the next. Interest ignites at his first glance at the woman who is enthralled by his music. He is drawn to Cadence whose heart seems big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a major problem—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

Cadence is getting very tired of being the reliable person in her family. If one of her sisters isn’t asking for her to organise the theme and menu for one of their parties, someone in her extended family is making some other request that gnaws away at her day. Determined to be spontaneous, she leaves her small shop for a quick walk in the sunshine. When a haunting melody captures her attention she follows the sound of the music, intrigued. She meets Rafe, a tall, dark and mysterious man who instantly steals her affections. Can this man be part of her future?

This is a lovely, sweet romance story with plenty of steamy chemistry. I loved how Cadence was a sweet, small-town girl. I felt a bit bad that she’d managed to allow herself to be used a bit (in a nice and kindly sort of way) by family and friends around her. Cadence sits on a bunch of committees, babysits at the drop of a hat for her sisters and acts as a counselor and go-between for far too many people. All to the extent where her own dreams and desires are stifled. I loved how when Rafe finally walks into her life Cadence’s own desires suddenly come into the fore and she gets the courage to finally go after some of the romance and adventure she secretly yearns for.

While the storyline is mostly very sweet and slow, there are a few steamy kisses and a passionate clinch. Rafe and Cadence spend the night together (completely platonically) too so I’m not certain it would be appropriate for teenaged readers – but all other age groups should find this a wholesome, character-driven and excellent romance story. Overall I found this story to be very wholesome and in some ways empowering. Sometimes very good people can find it difficult to say “no” when friends and family ask for favours or help and shelving their own dreams and needs in the process. I loved how Cadence decided to follow her heart with Rafe and start their adventures together. I found it to be a powerful, loving and very happy storyline and I really enjoyed it.

Readers who like a bit of steam and spicy kisses with their romance, but nothing too physical or sexy should find this a good balance with an interesting storyline and some memorable characters.

Petals by Reina M. Williams


Petals by Reina M. Williams
A Rancho Valle short story
Publisher: Rickrack Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (65 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Visit a small town with a heart as gold as the California hills! Settle in a cozy seat and enjoy these sweet, Austen-inspired stories of pride and prejudice, persuasion, and matchmaking in this modern “country village.”

Bennet Ray is home. She loves her grandma, their toy shop, and their cobbled-together family in the small Sonoma County town of Rancho Valle. But restless wanderer Bennet is afraid she can’t settle down, or be open to the love she wants. When her former high school nemesis Ryan Stone threatens her family’s business, and her feelings, can she face her past and find and way to remain in Rancho Valle?

After the death of her Grandpa and her Grandma’s stroke, Bennet decided it was past time to move back home and help her Grandma run the toy store. Even though her heart yearned to continue her music and travels, Bennet couldn’t turn her back on her the woman who raised her in a loving home. To help welcome her back, Bennet’s Grandma invites a number of the locals around for dinner, people Bennet grew up with and a few of her childhood friends – including Ryan. Can this be their second chance together?

This is a very sweet short story. I was a little surprised at some of the tension and conflict that was initially between Ryan and Bennet. While Ryan wasn’t exactly a prince charming, I didn’t feel as if he was quite the rude villain that Bennet initially made him out to be. Ryan seemed to me to be one of those men who doesn’t always understand how blunt his comments come across as – which while certainly not comfortable, is nothing too disastrous in my mind. What surprised me was that Bennet slanted a number of things Ryan said to her as if he were criticizing her and putting her down. Because of this I really didn’t understand why he appealed to her at all. In the beginning I felt like Bennet was a little over-sensitive and biased when it came to Ryan.

I was extremely pleased when this stopped still fairly early on in the story. It was quite a relief when Bennet began to see Ryan as he truly was – not the best communicator, but not rude or mean either. From here their romance blossomed wonderfully and by half way through the story I was feeling quite comfortable and invested in both Ryan and Bennet.

Readers who like small-town stories should really enjoy this. There is a strong cast of a number of secondary characters and plenty of that lovely small town/old fashioned feel to this story. Add in that it’s exceedingly sweet – one small, non-descriptive kiss at the very end to seal the happy ending – and I feel this is a good story for readers of all ages. This is the sort of story I would happily recommend to my mum or grandma, or even a teenage reader.

With great characters, an interesting plot revolving around Bennet coming home after quite a few years away and the beginning of a beautiful romance between Bennet and Ryan, I feel this is a good book with a number of things to appeal to a wide range of readers.