Immortal Rising by Lynsay Sands

Immortal Rising by Lynsay Sands
Book 34: An Argeneau Novel
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The Argeneaus are back! Filled with love, passion, and adventure, New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands returns with another sexy romance about everyone’s favorite immortals.

Stephanie McGill was attacked and turned when she was just a teenager. Worse, her abilities are unlike any other immortal. Now 13 years later, with the help of her adopted Argeneau family, Steph has carved out a new – if not lonely – life for herself. Until a new neighbor arrives…

Thorne is also one-of-a-kind. The result of a genetic experiment, he’s not an immortal, but he’s not mortal either. He’s looking for a place to hide, to get some peace and quiet so he can figure things out, and Stephanie’s sanctuary is perfect. In fact, Stephanie is perfect. For the first time, Thorne is free to be himself and he’s falling for her.

But if they’re going to have a future together, they’ll first need to deal with their past…because the mad scientist who created Thorne is now after Stephanie.

I’ve been following this series for years and just when I think it might be running out of steam, Ms. Sands throws her fans a delightful, heart-pounding twist. Anyone who doesn’t know the story about the evil scientist named Dressler, and only bases their opinion on the cover, as delightful as it is, are in for a shock. There are no angels in this novel. There’s definitely evil though, and that’s the villain – the most twisted, immoral and cold scientist who makes Dr. Frankenstein seem like a nice guy. The drama, suspense, narrow escapes and dastardly doings are the plot movers and shakers in the novel, but Immortal Rising is foremost an awesome romance story between a couple that are as mismatched as can be.

Stephanie is an author and the stories she writes aren’t fiction, but they are so fantastical, everyone thinks they are. Pure genius. The heroine has a talent that is overwhelming – she hears people’s thoughts – everyone’s within a couple of miles of her location. Trying to stay sane with all that bombardment is a challenge which is why she lives out in the boonies. No one knows how bad it is because she keeps the worst of it all to herself. Readers get the full picture, and it makes her character one easy to feel sympathy for. She’s got the cutest pets and her relationship with them is charming and provide joy and happiness when things are tough for her. Stephanie has a sister whom she loves very much but things are not quite as smooth between them as her sister thinks. So much emotional angst eventually has to come out and get purged, which makes for some intense reading. Family dynamics can sometimes be sticky, but they can be hilarious and funny too.

Believe it or not, Thorne’s mom is a hoot. Thorne is the hero and he’s, well, I don’t know if I want to say. I mean, if a reader is delving into this book without having read the others, and I think it can be enjoyed that way, I don’t want to spoil what makes the hero so unique, challenging and thrilling. I looked at the blurb on the back cover, so I can say that Thorne is the result of genetic engineering by that madman, Dr. Dressler. When a reader gets to the part when Thorne and Stephanie discuss the possible DNAs that were used, it’s kind of funny at times but it’s also really, really cool. I can’t imagine the research Ms. Sands had to go through to discover the most obscure and fascinating traits she wanted her hero to have. Blew my mind.

As I mentioned earlier, family is an important factor not just in this book, but in the series as a whole. It’s one of reasons I have been hooked on this series for as long as I have. Once again Ms. Sands torments Lucian by making him talk. It was hysterical! Mr. Taciturn and grumpy actually has some moments that remind me why I like him so much, and why he’s one of the characters I respect the most. Still, it’s great when he’s teased, or when he is forced to come out of his shell. There are other family members that help out Stephanie and Thorne on their way to their happy ever after – no one ever has to go it alone in this story – someone is always there to have their back – if they get there in time. *grin*

Stephanie’s awe and delight in seeing Thorne in all his wonder was a thrilling scene. The descriptions of Thorne, and the heroine’s reactions were often funny, endearing and windows into the progression of the love growing between them. As with all the stories in the series, there comes the time when shared dreams and shared sensation overwhelm the two, proving that they are indeed perfect for each other. And though it’s sexy, it’s funny too, readers who look forward to those scenes won’t be disappointed. As for my opinion, Immortal Rising is heavy on plot, story, action and romance, and not overdone in the bedroom department. It’s just enough to give readers a well-rounded and perfect story.

I could go on and one because this large novel has so much written within its pages to keep a reader on their toes, entertained, thrilled and engaged. In fact, the action starts in the prologue, foreshadowing the confrontation that the heroine and hero eventually have to face. This book was awesome, fast-paced, exciting and all around awesome. I’m extremely happy for Thorne, that he finally gets to be truly happy, and Stephanie finds the peace and freedom she’s wished for, for over a decade. They are absolutely perfect for each other and I’m a happy, satisfied and thrilled reader who enthusiastically recommends this latest Argeneau novel to all Ms. Sands fans and lovers of paranormal romances. I am proud to add Immortal Rising to my keeper shelf.

Wild About Denali by Sara Blackard

Wild About Denali by Sara Blackard
Wild Hearts of Alaska Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Falling for the single mom? Nope. Not gonna happen, no matter how gorgeous and kindhearted she is. The potential for heartache is too high.

I should know. My mum proved that dating a single parent leaves one open for soul-crushing bachelorhood. Which is why I was determined to keep things friendly with Denali Wilde once I learned that the beautiful police dog trainer came with a kid. Why add the possibility of angst and suffering to my already stressful move to Alaska and opening an animal rescue center?

Too bad I didn’t keep my wits when it came to her son. The problem? The kid is amazing, into rescuing animals just like I am. Fair dinkum, the kid needs a mate about as badly as I do.

I’ve done a lot of crazy things in life. I mean, my TV series on Nature Channel wasn’t called Getting Wild with Wilder for its placid landscapes and tranquil animals. Yet, getting close to Denali and her son proves I have more than a few roos loose in the top paddock. Not only has my admiration for Denali increased with her insane dedication to her son, but he’s buried himself so far in my heart, I’ll never escape.

My determination to keep things friendly with Denali? Yeah, not as easy as I thought it would be. The thing is I’m wild about Denali. I just don’t think she feels the same for me.

Wild About Denali is a laugh-out-loud, heart-melting romcom with a single-mom, an Aussie reality TV star, and kisses that will curl your toes while keeping it clean.

This romance was a pleasant surprise. I took a chance on a new author and I’m glad I did. Wild About Denali is charming, heartwarming, adorable, romantic and fun. What I enjoyed about the writing was the author’s creative phrases, descriptions and idioms, some of which are either downright genius or flat out funny, but all of them contribute to the appeal of the characters found within the story.

Another interesting thing to note was the first-person point of view style – each chapter took turns looking at things from the hero’s, Drew, and Denali, the heroine’s, perspective. It was interesting seeing things from each of their sides because a reader can only interpret from one side at a time. The author had to be very careful in keeping it in the first-person for every switch, and I think she pulled it off nicely. I didn’t notice any hiccups.

There are a lot of family dynamics in this novel. Not just Denali and her sisters and cousins, but Drew’s mom plays a role as well as Vic, Drew’s almost-dad. Well, he has a biological dad too, but we don’t talk about that guy.

Speaking of another guy, there’s Nathan, Denali’s son’s father. It’s not what you think, so don’t be shy about reading the story – there are no custody battles or injury to Sawyer’s mental wellbeing. He’s well loved, adored, cared for and is smart as a whip. In fact, he is quite mature for an 11-yr old, which is showcased in the scene with the bear, and the falcon. Sawyer has a special way he feeds his animal charges and he uses a blender to do it. When I read the history behind the use of the blender, I chuckled, but later on in the story the author used it to good effect to the point it had me laughing out loud and grinning ear to ear. The author has a quirky and fun sense of humor.

I also greatly appreciated the fact that this romance story focuses on Drew and Denali’s growing relationship. There are trust issues, childhood traumas/decisions that affect the present, choices based on responsibilities and not whims, and fear of the unknown. It sounds like a lot of heavy brain power but the author weaves those real, lifelike challenges effortlessly in the course of showing how Drew and Denali are falling in love with each other. The love between both their side’s family members is very clear and strong, and with that closeness comes some well-intentioned meddling and ice cream therapy.

This novel is mostly sweet with a hint of sensual. The kisses are steamy, the eye contact seductive, and the scenes that cause heart-palpitations leave them breathless. And yet, Drew has hard-won mastery over his craving for all things Denali and when nature puts them in danger, Drew’s first instinct is to protect, even to the point of sacrifice. His commitment is that strong, which of course, leaves him open to jealousy. Yeah, the green-eyed monster rears its head and causes an effective plot conflict. But this is a romance story, so a reader can rest assured that the happy ever after wrap up is satisfying and joyful and even includes a couple of lighthearted snickers and giggles caused by a … oh I can’t tell you. That would be a spoiler. I don’t want to ruin your fun.

Wild About Denali has a lot of other details I could have written about – like Drew has a dreamy Australian accent and has a unique turn of phrase, and there are cute animals and that it takes place in Alaska and … well you get the picture. There is a LOT to enjoy and like in this book, and I enthusiastically give this story a double thumbs-up.

Mr. Right Across the Street by Kathryn Freeman

Mr. Right Across the Street by Kathryn Freeman
Romcom Collection, Book 4
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Mia Abbott’s move to Manchester was supposed to give her time and space from all the disastrous romantic choices she’s made in her past. But then the hot guy who lives opposite – the one who works out every day at exactly 10 a.m., not that Mia has noticed thank-you-very-much – starts leaving notes in his window…for her.

Bar owner Luke Doyle has his own issues to deal with but as he shows Mia the sights of her new city he also shows her what real romance looks like for the first time. And when he cooks up a signature cocktail in her honour, she realises that the man behind the bar is even more enticing than any of his creations. And once she’s had a taste she knows it will never be enough!

For pure escapism, this spicy-lite feel-good romance story fit my mood to a T. Mr. Right Across the Street is more like ‘across the complex’ since it takes place between facing apartments. Still, it was a unique way to pursue a romance.

Some readers might think it’s creepy to have messages taped to windows to be seen by someone else, but the author had her main character, Mia, discuss it with her sister, then Ms. Freeman had Luke, the hero, address the issue so as far am I’m concerned, with everything out in the open, I was free to enjoy the quirkiness of the story.

I enjoyed Mia’s growing relationship with her neighbor, the grumpy Stan. The initial description was a turn off but, that’s one of the strong points in this story. Mia attempted to get to know her neighbor and in doing so, went beyond the superficial and discovered the person her neighbor actually was. That reaching out, that overlooking initial appearances is something people forget to do. They get so hung up on the looks that the depths of a person are never revealed, and possible friendships never materialize. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. Where there were many opportunities for angst, anger, spite, back-stabbing and over the top emotional drama, Ms. Freeman avoided all that by giving Mia a sunny personality that tried not to be quick to judge, and when she did, and it was found out not to be what she thought, she stepped up to the plate and apologized; she owned her mistake and moved on. Now, that’s not saying the heroine was perfect. Nope, not by a long shot. She has hang-ups that were a bit repetitive, but then again, people who are self-conscious or feel vulnerable about themselves tend to do that – overthink, fret and repeat. Still, it would have been nice to have had a bit less of it.

Luke is a bar owner who has his own demons to deal with. He has secrets that tend to be the ones that stir the plot the most, and could possibly annoy readers the most. Communication is lacking at times on his part. Once a reader gets the entire picture, I guess I can see where he was coming from. His secrets were a little out of the ordinary but it’s the way poor Mia discovers them that I had a hard time with. Luke is fallible, all too human, and has put himself in a very bad situation by the life decisions he’s made so far. Again, Mia has the right to not be so trusting because Luke, who wants to be trusted, just didn’t understand for the longest time that he needed to get over himself and lay it all out there. So, instead, readers are treated to what feels like a dentist appointment – getting those secrets out was like pulling teeth.

I mentioned that this book is spicy-lite. I think this story could have done very well at a sensual level, but there’s the eventual capitulation to the slow burn Mia and Luke have been fanning all through the story and they end up taking it to the bedroom, and the door is left open. I’m glad it was a short visit. I liked the whole premise of the romance, the secondary characters, the plot, the floppy-eared bunny, the brusque neighbor and the loving but interfering family members enough to not need the bedroom details. But, for readers who need to have those scenes in a story, they should be pleased at the delivery.

Another strong aspect that comes through deals with Mia and Freya. That could have been a whole kettle of toxic fish but again, the author gave Mia an inner strength, and a caring and forgiving nature. Forgiveness is a wonderful, healing attribute that not many people remember to practice these days. The author applied it quite effectively and is another reason why I liked this novel.

All in all, Mr. Right Across the Street was a delightful, engaging, and happy romance story that made me smile many times. I’m really glad I read it and think it would be a good book for romance readers to spend time with on a lazy afternoon.

Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire by Alice Cooper (Author, Narrator)

Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire by Alice Cooper (Author, Narrator)
Audible’s Words + Music series
Publisher: Audible Originals
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Biography, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Rock and roll in the BC (Before Cooper) era was a tamer, milder world. In Who I Really Am, Cooper’s latest addition to Audible’s Words + Music series, we learn how the boa-wearing (not the feathered kind) maestro arrived at a show and sound – let’s call it AC for After Cooper – that has entertained millions of kids while terrifying parents in equal measure. Cooper drew inspiration from Saturday matinee horror movies, applied a “no such thing as too much” attitude, and hitched it to a kick-ass rock and roll band. The shows were incredible, but the offstage antics might have been even more entertaining. Cooper generously shares you-had-to-be-there tales of the band’s early days in Hollywood and mythic all-nighters with rock’s premier luminaries. Also included are new recordings of the hits “I’m Eighteen”, “School’s Out”, and “Poison”. Not many artists can claim credit for creating an entire style or genre. Don’t miss the chance to hear a consummate showman reveal that storytelling might be his greatest talent of all.

There’s nothing more fascinating than learning about someone you’ve heard about all your life but really never knew anything about the person until they took the time to introduce you to them. Imagine my shock to realize that Alice Cooper wasn’t the name of the man, but the actual BAND.

I started listening to this as a lark. I didn’t think I’d get much out of it. Wow, was I wrong! I was completely fascinated along with being stunned, shocked, impressed, astonished, saddened, amazed, amused and delighted. He even sang a few songs during the course of his story about himself, the band and the people he met along the way. And yes, he really called himself a vampire – but not in the way you expect. Certainly, in no way related to all the paranormal romances I enjoy so much. It’s a moniker more than anything, gifted by happenstance.

Alice Cooper, and I’m talking about the man, the artist, singer and all-around stunner of a talent, has a history that I never anticipated. His family background is not what I expected. When he shared the story about his grandfather and a 6-yr. old boy he tried to help, I got the shivers. I’m not going to share why or what it was all about because I in no way want to minimize or subvert the impact of that scene. It sure made me stop and stare for a bit. No way! But yes, I guess it really did happen and that fact floored me.

Alice, and I’ll stick to that name recognition, and his family moved around a lot. It seems like many artists that make it big have that kind of element in their backstory. Each move brought challenges that he had to overcome. His parents had unconventional lifestyles in the beginning, and that’s an understatement. Later on, they tried being ‘normal’. Somehow, I don’t think they pulled it off. Like their son, I think they were unique and had some interesting skills of their own to bring to the jobs they eventually did get.

I was expecting some name dropping and I wasn’t disappointed. What amazed me was that Alice Cooper was in the thick of things, when the music scene was in flux and a lot of amazing changes were taking place, many for the good and some for the bad. Drugs, alcohol abuse, hard living and crazy antics certainly played their roles but even through all of that, I found that Alice Cooper had his own HEA going on.

It wasn’t always happy, or easy or smooth, but I think how he described his wife and his relationship with her was quite telling. Even when he hit bottom with alcohol abuse, his wife, Sheryl, stuck with him every step of the way. He credits her influence in getting him back on his feet. How she did it, why and every other question a listener might have, I’ll leave the listener to discover for themselves. I found it to be enlightening, uplifting and in its own way, beautiful. Theirs is a marriage that survived because they both respected the other and worked to make it continue, to help it thrive; to help each other through those tough spots because they loved each other that much and wanted to do it. That’s why I thought that part of his story as incredibly romantic. It wasn’t a fantasy romance. It was gritty at times and rocky, but that’s what made it real – through all his struggles, she was there, and he didn’t take her for granted. She believed in him enough to stand by him. When you hear about so many other relationships in the rock n’ roll world falling apart, they stayed together, 40+ years, 3 kids and a few grandkids later and they’re still going strong. Alice Cooper may have been zany crazy on stage, but in real life, he matured throughout his career, enough to look back on things with a critical eye, and share with fans his take on his career, from the inside.

There was one thing he shared early on that stunned me. There was one moment in time when it was possible Alice Cooper and my favorite songs of the band’s would never have existed. Not to get preachy or anything, but I thank God that His plans included Alice Cooper finding success in this life, even with all the side roads and missteps and bad decisions, there was a reason he stayed on this earth. Yes, that statement is pretty deep, but nonetheless true.

Truly, there is a lot more to say about what I heard in Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire, and every bit of it is well worth listening to. I tried to tell my husband about all the things I learned about Alice Cooper and his eyes kind of glazed over. I guess it’s not the same as listening to the actual person tell the story. Alice Cooper has a great talent for narration and storytelling, even if it’s about his own life. I also believe it’s why I liked it so much. A true story, enhanced by a little music and some serious giggles and smiles along the way coupled with awesome name dropping and famous shenanigans, makes this memoir one worth spending time with.

I Want You to Want Me by Shana Galen

I Want You to Want Me by Shana Galen
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A cruel twist of fate…

Nicholas St. Clare, youngest son of the Marquess of Averstow, was an avid horseman until his legs were crushed on the battlefield. The injury sent him home to England a broken man. Ashamed of his injury, he’s become a virtual recluse on his country estate until his mother, the dowager marchioness, insists he marry. Nicholas doesn’t want a bride who would be shackled to his broken body and privately despise him for being a cripple. He hates his weakness and doesn’t believe anyone can see past it.

A stroke of good luck…

Amelia Blackstock has always followed her family motto: A Blackstock doesn’t run from trouble. It runs from us. Unfortunately, trouble caught up with her, and when the world finds out, she’ll be ruined. When Lord Nicholas stumbles upon her sobbing, he tries to comfort her. His kindness backfires when they are discovered alone together, and Amelia faces even more scandal. Nicholas offers to marry her, but only if she’ll agree to a separate bed chambers.

A happily ever after in jeopardy.

Amelia concedes to a platonic marriage, but as her feelings for Lord Nicholas grow, she wants more. Nicholas is drawn to Amelia as well, but he fears risking it all by revealing the ugly truth of his injury. When Nicholas’s brothers-in-arms arrive for a house party, it seems everything that can go wrong, does. Between a lost pet pig, a fugitive wanted for treason, and a night of drinking gone awry, Nicholas and Amelia grow further apart. Nicholas is the last of the Survivors. Will he be the only one without a happily ever after?

What a wonderful way to wrap up The Survivors series. All tied up in a pretty bow with a happy ever after that is satisfying and complete, I Want You to Want Me is an amazing journey of two unlikely people who fall in love.

The story opens up with Nicholas St. Clare’s mom harassing him about getting married. I really felt for the guy. On one hand she’s pushing him to do what is expected of him, marry, while at the same time undermining it all by her treatment of his injury and disability. Her see-sawing emotions made me dizzy. I can’t figure out Nicholas’s brother. I want to dislike him but later in the story he acts more normal, then he gets a stick up his arse again until another scene redeems him and he’s not so bad, mostly. All I can say is, I’m so happy this book is about Nicholas.

I like how the hero meets the heroine for the first time. Talk about making an impression! She even has a guard pig everyone is afraid to go near. Except the hero. Pigs are good judges of character, I think. Amelia Blackstock’s downfall comes from a pig who loves his food and will do just about anything to get it, including a little B & E.

A little help comes from an unlikely source, Rafe Beaumont, the hero of An Affair with a Spare. He’s not supposed to be in the country – he’s a wanted man. His character is one that likes to poke the bear. The ‘bear’ in this instance is Nicholas and the results are unorthodox, clever and it showcases that there’s a caring heart and a brain inside this womanizer turned devoted husband of Colette. She stays in America nice and safe while Rafe is in a not-so-clever disguise, planning a devious scheme. I’d say he’s the mover and shaker of the plot. He’s funny too.

The conflict is character based – Nicholas is so turned inside himself, in his mind his injury overtakes the man. He’s in a surly rut and is convinced that life will never get better because he will never get better. Amelia isn’t of the same mind. That’s another conflict. The hero simply can’t believe that Amelia won’t turn out like everyone else. There’s plenty of clues that say otherwise but he’s blind to them all. Hence, the wisdom of Rafe.

I think there’ll be a lot of fans of the series that will rave about this book and give it a higher rating than I have. There’s plenty to be excited about. It’s a fun, well-paced and entertaining read that has a lot going for it. For me, not enough. There’s comes a big event that brings together all of the Survivors from all the previous books in the series – the heroes, their wives and for those that have them, their kids too. It sounds grand and it is. But I wanted more. I wanted a little insight into each of the past heroes and heroines on how they’re doing, are they truly happy and I kind of wanted the spark to be rekindled, to remind me of why I fell in book-love with each hero in the first place. I understand, truly I do, that the author was being very careful not to overshadow Nicholas and Amelia’s story and romance, especially since every man is strong and commanding in his own right. I wanted something to touch me, to make me feel like there was a family gathering, that I was a part of that tight knit community that I’ve been a part of in each and every book of the series. I didn’t experience that no matter how glad I was to see everyone. It felt flat to me and that disappointed and saddened me a little. I guess I can’t have everything I want and the most important thing I should want, a happy ever after for Amelia and Nicholas, the author delivered. There is no doubt that this novel did the series justice and provided readers with a wonderful, complete ending.

There’s no doubt that Amelia’s character was perfect for Nicholas. He needed a stubborn woman who remained true to herself, and to her commitments. She needed some motherly advice here and there. Speaking of which, I was worried about her mother too. I thought for sure I knew what the lady was turning to in her grief. I’m glad I was wrong. I’m also glad that there’s a positive turn towards the end of the book. Like I said, Ms. Galen succeeded in tying up all emotional loose ends and made I Want You to Want Me a story worth recommending to fans of the series. And, because it focuses solely on Nicholas a/k/a Nickers, and Amelia, this can even be read as a standalone. Rafe kind of plays a comedic foil and is far removed from the story he appeared in initially. So, yes, this book can be read out of order and a reader will still find enjoyment and fun within its pages.

Wrapping up, I’d say it’s a toss up between the funniest scenes, of Sweetie the pig, or when the guys imbibed too much. Although that caused a decent plot wrinkle too because drunk men don’t always think before they speak. Okay, they probably do, but what comes out doesn’t have the effect they think it will. Hence, plot consternation.

I Want You to Want Me is a must read for many reasons. It’s a great romance and Nicholas more than deserved his happy ever after. Amelia is the perfect heroine to provide it. Pick up your own copy and see for yourself. It’ll be an afternoon well spent.

The Purveli by Dianne Duvall

The Purveli by Dianne Duvall (Author), Kirsten Potter (Narrator),
Aldebarian Alliance, Book 3
Publisher: Self-published, Tantor Audio (Audio Publisher)
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy, Romance, Action/Adventure
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Ava has always been different. Born with strong telepathic abilities, she lives a very isolated life until she is offered a job with an obscure network that aids powerful Immortal Guardians in their quest to protect humanity from the psychotic vampires who prey upon them. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel so different. For the first time in her life, Ava has found a place where she belongs. She’s happy. Life is good. And when her employers invite her to join a group of other gifted ones and a handful of Immortal Guardians on a journey to another planet, it becomes absolutely fantastic.

In no time at all, she is speeding across the galaxy aboard a Lasaran warship manned by two amazing alien races. It’s the dream of a lifetime… until a vicious attack by a mutual enemy of Lasara and Earth lands her alone in an escape pod with no habitable planet in sight and only one ship within range: one that carries the enemy who wants to know why the bioengineered virus they released on Earth long ago didn’t exterminate humanity and leave the planet ripe for their claiming.

Jak’ri doesn’t know how long he has been a prisoner aboard the Cebaun, but he fears the enemy’s twisted experiments will soon lead them to a virus that will eradicate the Purveli people. Despair grips him until a female from Earth is taken captive and reaches out to him telepathically. The gift that Ava said caused her such misery in the past soon becomes his salvation as the two of them form a fast friendship. Determined to distract each other from the horrors of their existence, they immerse themselves in telepathic communion during the day, then seek solace and adventure together in shared dreams. As their friendship deepens into love, the two hatch a daring plot to escape their captors. But the enemy will not let them go without a fight.

Can Ava and Jak’ri stand against so many and emerge victorious?

I had an absolute blast reading this book. Of the three she has written about the Aldebarian Alliance, The Purveli blew me out of the water. I am incredibly excited to write this review. I want to shout loud and proud about how much I adored this book. Ms. Duvall has written a story that made me clap my hands in glee. It totally rocked.

It will give you the purchase viagra online other right way to achieve your target and then you can easily enjoy your sex. Pelvic Floor exercises is also necessary for online cialis india men. Hence, for the introvert types of people the best solution is to side effects viagra . Taking large dose is detrimental to health, hence void tadalafil uk cheap it. A little background – bad aliens blew up the good alien’s ship prompting its passengers, Gifted Ones and Immortal Guardians alike, to hurry to escape pods. Unfortunately, the interstellar highway was damaged, and it spit the escape pods out and scattered them in outer space. Time is running out because those bad aliens, the Gathendiens, want those Earthlings so bad, they’re not giving up and are searching for them. In The Purveli, it proved what we knew from The Lasaran and the Segonian, those horrible lizard bad guys want to wipe out all human life on Earth and they need the Earthlings to do experiments on to find out why they didn’t die out thousands of years ago when they should have. The Gathendiens are the ultimate bad guys and Ms. Duvall describes them in intricate detail for this novel. Now, readers have a clear picture of who the enemies are of our favorite characters from the Immortal Guardians series. They are nasty – they smell really bad too and they are really, really mean.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff, Ava and Jak’ri. Ava is a Gifted One and Jak’ri is a Purveli. I was thrilled with the author’s description of the hero. I adored what happens to his hair and I got the biggest kick out of Ava’s excitement at meeting Jak’ri for the first time and asking him a bazillion questions about his physical features that fascinated her. I mean, he’s an ALIEN. Right? I would have done the same thing. It’s really cool!

Usually, I’m not a fan of dream sequences but what Ms. Duvall did in this novel took that technique and made it her own. For a change, the meeting in dreams is crucial, important and absolutely integral to the plot. There’s a reason for its happening and fans of the Immortal Guardians will remember it well. During those dream sequences, I experienced laughter, joy, excitement and tears.

I also want to give credit to the narrator, Kirsten Potter. I listened to the book on audio, and I am pretty sure I’ve said this before in other reviews, but Ms. Potter is the bomb. Her narration, with its clearly defined character representation, vocal range, emotion and talent made this 5-star review blast to a Best Book rating.

Here’s where I get personal. When Jak’ri thought Ava was dying, I reacted. When I mean I reacted, my eldest son came running, “Mom! What’s wrong??” Oops. I had earphones on. I didn’t think I gasped that loud. Obviously, I did. I GASPED! Seriously, that scene – what a shocker! And boy o boy, fans of the series are in for some intense emotional feelings. I also cried. Not sniffled, not teared up – cried – needing tissues cried – with the scenes of Jak’ri and his brother. I was gutted. Later on, I found myself laughing hysterically, snickering, grinning and cheering. The scene when Jak’ri read Ava’s mind is priceless. The Purveli literally had my emotions running amok. It wasn’t just Ms. Potter’s narration; it was the quality of the plot, dialogue and writing talent that Ms. Duvall put into her story that made this novel such a powerful read.

I haven’t been this jazzed since Seth’s story.

I truly believe I could write a book about the book. Ms. Duvall’s imagination is on full display when she described the cute Leapers, and other flora and fauna of the alien world they escaped to, including the big kitty-like things. The description of the cave was cool and I thought the scene during the thunderstorm was adorable. The author made her alien world come to life in vivid detail. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The attraction between the hero and heroine is a slow sizzle until it finally sparked and they went up in delightful flames. There were a few fits and starts, but that’s what made their final coming together so satisfying.

The ending was awesome, perfectly wrapped up and joyous. However, in the audiobook version, Ms. Duvall added a treat. She shared what seems like the first chapter of the next book. Again, Ms. Potter is the narrator, thank goodness. As soon as it’s up for pre-order, I am going to grab it. Why? Because the beginning was AWESOME! I was listening to it in my car, and I just sat there. I didn’t drive. I couldn’t. I was too enthralled by what I was listening to. Oh, my Goodness! It’s going to be another great one. Talk about setting the hook! I’m so excited!

Run, don’t walk to get your own copy of The Purveli. I expect fans are going to be wowed like I am. I believe this could be read as a standalone, so new readers will be in for a treat too. I totally, completely and enthusiastically recommend this novel for sci-fi romance readers who like action, a hero and heroine who survive impossible odds and a story that sucks a person in because the writing is just that good.

Lightning in a Mirror by Jayne Ann Krentz

Lightning in a Mirror by Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Michelle (Narrator)
Fogg Lake, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley, Recorded Books, Inc. (Audio Publisher)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sci-fi/fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Olivia LeClair’s experiment with speed dating is not going well. First there was the nasty encounter with the date from hell who tried to murder her and now the mysterious Harlan Rancourt—long believed dead—sits down at her table and tells her she’s the only one who can help him locate the legendary Vortex lab.

This is not what Olivia had in mind when she signed up for the Four Event Success Guaranteed package offered by the dating agency. She doesn’t have much choice, though, because her psychic investigation firm works for the mysterious Foundation and Victor Arganbright, the director, is adamant that she assist Harlan. There’s just one problem—no one knows Harlan’s real agenda. His father once ran the Foundation like a mob organization, and Harlan was destined to be his heir. There’s a real possibility Harlan has returned to claim his inheritance.

For now, however, it’s a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend because others are after the secrets of the long-lost lab. Unfortunately for Olivia, the one thing friend and foe have in common is that everyone is convinced she is the key. Her unique psychic talent is required to defuse the ticking time bomb that is Vortex.

Neither trusts the other but Olivia and Harlan soon realize they must work together to survive and unlock the Bluestone Project’s most dangerous secrets before more innocent people die.

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Of course, longtime readers of Ms. Krentz will recognize some of her favorite writing techniques which seem to show up in almost all her books. That’s not a negative. It almost guarantees a wonderful time of pure escapism, entertainment and adventure. All of that is on stage in Lightning in a Mirror. I had a blast.

I do believe that all three books should probably be read in order only because there are a couple of plot conflicts/threads that are woven between all three. Then again, each one has its own heroine and hero, and they don’t seem to play much of a role in the other two beyond some scenes that help the current hero and heroine along, or out of a jam. There are two characters, Victor Arganbright and Lucas, the head guys at The Foundation, that pretty much stir the pot, so to speak, in all three books.

Olivia LeClair and Harlan Rancourt are the primary focus. Either they are being chased, investigating clues, escaping from almost certain death, or in a few scenes, being embarrassed and/or hilariously mortified as well as being confused with being someone … or something else. Somewhere in all that chaotic mix, Olivia and Harlan manage to get to know one another, answer the right questions and fall in love, eventually getting to explore the physical side of their relationship and prove that opposites do attract.

There are so many red herrings and options to choose from as to what is really happening, who is going to get there first, figure out why there’s all this fascination with mirrors and crystals and again, who is going to figure it out first. Many times, throughout this novel, I was left in breathless anticipation.

Now, I found the most hilarious scenes have to do with a car, and much later, a phone call. I know you see LOL all over the place but I truly did laugh out loud, immensely loud because I found the humor of the situations tickled my funny bone to the extreme. I was on a forum talking to another fan of Ms. Krentz and this novel in particular. We had to be careful about spoilers, but we both found the same things totally grin worthy. We shared the laughter about our favorite parts, without, you know, saying anything. It was so much fun getting to share the joy and appreciation about Lightning in a Mirror with another fan. That’s what I always hope to do in my reviews – share what I like in the hopes others will find also find enjoyment and fun when they get their own copy. There is so much in this story to keep a reader engaged, curious, guessing and entertained.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the ending. It has a very welcome happy ever after, and indeed, Harlan’s final gesture totally warmed my heart. He may have issues with social cues, but when it really counts, he comes through with the most endearing, thoughtful gesture. He really is Olivia’s Prince Charming.

There are quite a few chapters in the novel and within its pages is a plethora of intrigue. I can easily get lost in trying to choose what parts to share with you, so I’m having to be vague in my references. There is so much meat to the plot, the conflict, the characters new and old, the descriptions of the garden and the eerie fog as well as wonderful dialogue between all the major players. I know there is a saying about ‘saving the best for last’, and that’s what Ms. Krentz did. Not sure if it’s by happenstance or design, but Lightning in a Mirror outshone the previous two stories. I am a very happy reader. I encourage fans of romantic suspense who don’t mind a little science fantasy and supernatural overtones spicing up the action to read this book. It’s splendid.

California Man by EC Sheedy

California Man by EC Sheedy
Salt Spring Island Friends Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Relationships don’t come easy when you’re too shy to love.

Bookstore owner Emily Welland is timid and deeply insecure—and she has her reasons. She’s read about Quinn Ramsay, the brilliantly successful celebrity entrepreneur, and she’s seen pictures of him in the tabloids— always with a stunning model or actress on his arm.

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All of which makes Quinn more interested than ever.

This is a cute trope that is used to good effect in California Man. Emily is the super shy book seller that freezes up when she meets people, more specifically, men outside the safety and security of her store. Quinn is the quintessential self-made, successful and rich bachelor who is tired of the rat race but not sure what else to do since it’s all he knows. The characters seem like they are diametrically opposed, yet that is what fun and entertaining romance stories are all about. Love happens when you least expect it and certainly Emily wasn’t ready for the intensity that is Quinn. Quinn didn’t expect the meteoric impact from a glance of gorgeous gray eyes. What comes next is the pursuit and chase, ultimately leading to what readers will expect to read, only to find out that the author threw in a plot conflict. A conflict I at first didn’t feel worked, but it’s what the author decided to have her secondary characters do that made it work, made me happy and I acknowledge the cleverness of it.

Most of the conflict is internal and it’s from Emily’s point of view. It is effective, although a little drawn out at times, but the emotions and feelings of sympathy for the heroine more than make up for it. Quinn’s life choice isn’t as impactful as the heroine’s, but it does play off her insecurities rather well. What I liked about Quinn was his realization that Emily is worth fighting for, and that means restraining his libido and putting her first, even when she makes it hard.

Because of Quinn’s initial restraint, I was hoping that this book was going to fall into the sensual category. Nope – it definitely earned a spicy rating. Of course, Emily rationalized it; total trope reasoning, but it’s the end result that more than makes up for it.

Another strong point in this story’s favor is how Quinn and Emily end up bringing out the best in each other, while helping each other with some of their tough life decisions. They made a great team. In fact, California Man is a pretty good read. I enjoyed it, the pace was consistent and always moved forward and I really appreciated Quinn’s depth of character, which was showcased in his interactions with James, a secondary character. The happy ever after was wrapped up with a delightful bow of love and happiness.

All in all, California Man is a romantic little gem and well worth reading.

Man for the Morning by EC Sheedy

Man for the Morning by EC Sheedy
Salt Spring Island Friends Book 2
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

If you can’t fall in love in Paris . . .

Single mother, Lynn McDonald, is on the trip of a lifetime. She’s in Paris! And she’s keen to see and feel everything wondrous in the incomparable City of Light. The only thing not on her exciting itinerary is romance.

Nor is it on the list of acclaimed film director Paul Severns . . .

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What Paul lacks in emotional courage, Lynn, as a widow and mother to a challenged son, has in abundance. She believes deeply in the power of love and with reason. Only love sustained her through loss and years of solitude.

Paul offers to show her Paris, but after a few days in her company, he asks her to spend a weekend with him in the French countryside. No games. No risk. He tells himself—and Lynn—his offer is for nothing more than some pleasant days and uncomplicated sex. No strings attached.

He doesn’t expect Lynn to go along with it. But she does. And she packs some strings…

This story has a very different flavor than the previous book, California Man. In Man for the Morning, I found a romance that was very up front, challenging and open. I liked that the internal conflict plagued the hero, and the heroine was the one that wasn’t afraid to try, to dream, to hope for the best, even if there was the possibility of pain from it ending. The journey was one she wanted to take. Lynn’s confidence, optimism, pragmatic acceptance, hope, joy and life smarts impressed me. The most important facet of Lynn’s character was motherhood, her love and fierceness in defense of her son, James. She never gave up, she gave it her all and because of her love and dedication, James, even with the brain damage from a car accident when he was a kid made life problematic, she fought for him tooth and nail and the fruits of that is a young man capable of doing everything the doctors said he’d never do. That kind of person, who gives and truly cares is what the hero, Paul, needs and at the same time is afraid of. Yet, he can’t stay away. Lynn stayed true to herself, and I think that’s what got under the hero’s defenses. It was a great story.

Also, this is a spicy story. But the author chose to let a reader know her characters first. For example, why Paul is damaged, what made them so good together, how they clicked and what they each made the other feel; those are the kinds of things that allows a reader to connect to the main characters. By the time the bedroom door opens up, a reader knows that Lynn and Paul are perfect for the other. I cared that Paul should find happiness. I liked that small window of interaction between Lynn’s son James, and Paul. It was a nice touch and pivotal. I liked that Lynn didn’t act like a typical drama queen. She didn’t need theatrics to get her point across, nor does she play games. Paul has no doubts about Lynn’s attraction for him. I liked that the author has Lynn melt for him, even when he messes up, she doesn’t deny herself his touch, when other stories I’ve read would have the heroine explode in emotion and drama, making the hero pay for his inability to commit. Lynn was a unique heroine, and I really appreciated her personality.

This romance is very people-centered. I think Man for the Morning is a wonderful read. Even the potential plot conflict/villain isn’t so terrible. I actually liked the person and in time, I believe Lynn could eventually call that person friend, not frenemy but an actual friend. But that’s my opinion. Getting to know Lynn in the book makes me believe it could happen just because of the type of person she is. I wish there was an epilogue for this story; I believe it would have made this good book even better.

If you are looking for a nice, well-rounded, enjoyable romance story with a optimistic and satisfying happy ending, I think Man for the Morning might just do the trick. I know I liked it. I hope other readers will too.

The Christmas Pawdcast by Emily March

The Christmas Pawdcast by Emily March
Narrated by: Andi Arndt , Jason Clarke
Series: Audible Original Stories
Publisher: Audible Originals, LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Holiday
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Mary Landry and her pregnant rescue dog are on their way home for Christmas when the unthinkable happens: Her car breaks down along a deserted stretch of mountain highway in the middle of a blizzard. Facing dire conditions, Mary seeks shelter from a lone cabin in the distance whose warm light beckons her like a Christmas star.

Nick Carstairs has one wish this season – to ride out his least favorite time of the year in peace while working on the latest episode of his hit True Crime podcast. The sexy-voiced podcaster didn’t plan to host a stranger and her pregnant dog, but he’s happy to help a traveler in need…it’s an extra perk that she’s gorgeous. Now if she would just stop trying to change his mind about Christmas.

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My goodness, I didn’t know stories came this sweet! Sweet as in adorable, lovable, cute, tender, loving, romantic and PUPPIES!

It was really cool to have two narrators, one for the heroine, Mary, and one for the hero, Nick. It’s the first time I’ve read/listened to a story about a hero who is prematurely gray. Since this is a Christmas holiday story, it was great that a hunky Santa look-a-like owned and rocked his natural look sans belly.

Of course, the story uses the well-known trope of being stranded in a stranger’s home, and as they get to know each other, they fall in love. What I found amazing is the personality and realness the author imbued her story with. When a guy is delicious looking and a hunky treat for the eyes, it’s natural for the heroine to lust after him. These days, stories tend to follow through with the instant attraction and the character driven plot turns into a vehicle for sheet action. I’m thrilled that this is not that kind of book and Mary, though acknowledges Nick’s blatant masculinity and how much she’s drawn to him, the author had Mary and Nick stay on track. This is foremost a romance. A story of two strangers accidentally coming together and, by being forced by a blizzard to stay together, have to communicate, share and compromise. She’s a great cook, an avid Christmas holiday fan, and is committed to finding orphaned/abandoned pets their new furever homes. Nick is a divorced dad who dotes on his son, a son who is unfortunately spending the holiday with his mom. The hero is a bit of a Grinch. Not because he despises Christmas, but because he’s lost focus on the simple joys that bring the true Christmas spirit to life. He’s lost, and I’m tickled that his own Elf on a Shelf worked that holiday magic making sure he could get ‘found’. Nick’s holiday recovery is pragmatic, influential, timely and surprisingly fun.

You know, I don’t believe I am using the right words to adequately convey how charmed and delighted I am with this novella. It took a little over 2 hours to listen through the whole thing and The Christmas Pawdcast has everything, and I do mean everything, a romance reader needs to believe that this growing love between Mary and Nick is real, powerful, healthy and has a bright future. There is character accountability, emotional growth and healing as well as forgiveness. This is an absolute gem of a holiday story, packed with feel-good moments, and wishes for a puppy just as personable as Frank *ahem* I mean, Angel.

The pace is perfect and every moment kept me engaged, interested and charmed. The Christmas Pawdcast is, as far as I know, only available in audio format. If romance fans have access to audiobooks, then this is a story not to miss and I highly encourage giving this book a try. This was a splendid listening experience and worth all five stars of its rating especially since the narrators did an awesome job of bringing the story to life.

I had the best time, had a lot of fun and was thoroughly enchanted. My hope is other romance readers will have just as good a time as me when they read/listen to The Christmas Pawdcast too.