The Devil and Mrs. Davenport by Paulette Kennedy

The Devil and Mrs. Davenport by Paulette Kennedy
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical, Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

The first day of autumn brought the fever, and with the fever came the voices.

Missouri, 1955. Loretta Davenport has led an isolated life as a young mother and a wife to Pete, an ambitious assistant professor at a Bible college. They’re the picture of domestic tranquility—until a local girl is murdered and Loretta begins receiving messages from beyond. Pete dismisses them as delusions of a fevered female imagination. Loretta knows they’re real—and frightening.

Defying Pete’s demands, Loretta finds an encouraging supporter in parapsychologist Dr. Curtis Hansen. He sees a woman with a rare gift, more blessing than curse. With Dr. Hansen’s help, Loretta’s life opens up to an empowering new purpose. But for Pete, the God-fearing image he’s worked so hard to cultivate is under threat. No longer in control of his dutiful wife, he sees the Devil at work.

As Loretta’s powers grow stronger and the pleading spirits beckon, Pete is determined to deliver his wife from evil. To solve the mysteries of the dead, Loretta must first save herself.

Set in 1955, Missouri, this story tells the tale of a housewife, Loretta Davenport, with gifts and the serious problems that come with it. Her husband Pete teaches at a Bible college. He is a traditional guy but is a bit unreasonable when it comes to his wife and his expectations.

When a girl is murdered, Loretta gets messages from the other side of the veil. Pete thinks she just has an overexcited imagination. When Loretta befriends Dr. Curtis Hansen, Pete is not happy about this. He becomes more and more difficult.

The pace picks up in this mystery as the danger unfolds for Loretta and a friend of the murdered girl who is also threatened. Can Loretta help her before it is too late? Things might be too late for herself as Pete becomes abusive and wants to lock her up.

Themes of mental health, family, friends, abuse, and forgiveness are weaved within the pages of this mystery. The characterization is done well, and this book has complexity and depth. It is also respectful of the times, being true to the setting.

Full Contact by Cassie Cole

Full Contact by Cassie Cole
Publisher: Juicy Gems Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

I never had a thing for football players.
That is, until I met the three of them.

I normally don’t like college parties.
I only went that night to keep my roommate company.
Yet when the sexiest, most muscular man I’ve ever met started flirting with me?
Well, let’s just say I didn’t go back to my dorm room that night.

But the devilish rogue who took me home isn’t just another student.
He’s Danny Armstrong, the star quarterback of the football team.
And getting into my pants isn’t the only thing on his mind.

He and two of his teammates need a physical trainer for the season.
Someone to monitor their workouts and help them avoid injury.
And as a kinesiology student, I desperately need the work credits that come with the job.

Danny Armstrong, the clean all-American with a steel jawline and sexy blue gaze.
Lance Overmire, a goofball wide receiver with washboard abs and an “I just thought of a dirty joke” grin.
Fernando Martinez, the dark-and-handsome place kicker from Chile who pronounces my name like it’s an exotic meal.

I’ll be working with them every day for the fall semester.
Watching them lift weights in the morning, monitoring football practice in the afternoon.
And giving them far more specialized physical therapy in the evenings.
Can I be the physical trainer that helps them go to the playoffs?
Or will they end up falling for me along the way?

Ever since I got a Kindle Unlimited subscription, Cassie Cole has always been one of my favorite indie authors. Her reverse harem romance books are great choices for when you want to curl up under a warm blanket with a book you can finish in one sitting. Normally, I’m more of a fan of her TV drama-esque romances (featuring firefighters, military members, office romances, etc.). I finished her tennis themed book Match Point and loved it. One of her other sports romance releases is Full Contact, which I picked up even though I’ve admittedly never been a big fan of football. While it had her trademark steamy scenes and was entertaining and well researched, it lacked the same ‘oomph’ and awe factor that some of her other books had for me.

Like many of Cassie Cole’s other books, Full Contact was well researched. Even though I’m not a football fan (I really only watch the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl), it was easy to understand how Fena, Danny and Lance fit into the team and what their roles were. It was also easy to follow the various kinesiology terms Roberta used, and get a sense of how those exercises had a tendency to develop into more spontaneous and fun activities. I always appreciate the details that help craft the world and the images the author is trying to paint in the reader’s heads, and there are a lot of them in this book. Overall, I was entertained enough and hooked to the point that I kept reading.

The part of the book where I struggled was the plot. While the writing was there and it flowed well, there was no balance between the actual storyline and the smuttier scenes. Football was either at the forefront of what was going on or a minor note in the background. While reverse harems are known for jumping into smut fairly quickly (and it was very entertaining once we did hit those scenes), I would have enjoyed a bit more build up or foreplay. There were also some missed opportunities with some of the side characters, as I would have loved to learn more about the rival teams the guys were facing (especially Nicky vs Danny) as well as their backgrounds. It was very surface level stuff that was being gone through – Fena’s family sounds super cool, and I would have loved to see more scenes with Lance’s grandma, Babs.

Despite the minor hiccups, Full Contact was an entertaining book. I just don’t think it was the book for me. I needed more from the story to fully enjoy the read. To be clear, I will definitely be picking up more of her books in the future. I just think I’ll take a step back from sports romances for the time being.

Knot Real by M.C. Roth

Knot Real by M.C. Roth
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Vale will never have to worry about a mating contract, right?

Vale considers himself lucky that he’s exempt from having a mating contract. Why would any omega want thousands of alphas to bid on them and try to prove themselves worthy?

From his best friend Zyke to the cute omega he met at a house party—everyone’s lives seem to revolve around the search for a single mate. It’s simple… The alphas bid and the omegas make their choice, while protective instincts take care of the rest.

But the barbaric practice has its own beauty that will always be just out of reach for Vale. Maybe if he had a contract, he would find someone who would love him wholly and completely and he wouldn’t have to spend his time cherishing the last few days with his best friend before Zyke inevitably finds a mate of his own. Maybe he wouldn’t be so lonely…

Knot Real is a standalone as far as I can see, but I would love to return to this world and see further into how it works!

Vale and Zyke are best friends who everyone thinks are a couple. Vale is one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to have a mating contract, but he’s not looking forward to when Zyke has one in case it impacts their friends. Well, Zyke gets a contract, and it does have an impact, but maybe not in the way Vale was expecting!

This was a great story with plenty of emotion. It was pretty clear what the lay of the land was, but I enjoyed staying with Vale as he discovered the truth about the situation, Zyke’s feelings, and his own.

A quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed and have no hesitation in recommending.

Bewitched By The Bear by Jessica Coulter Smith

Bewitched By The Bear by Jessica Coulter Smith
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Discover the power of true love in this spellbinding tale of magic and adventure.

All Amara wants is to live a life of adventure, without being tied down. With the dark fae relentlessly pursuing her, she needs a place to hide. Her gram’s cottage seems like the perfect spot, but the old witch’s words leave Amara unsettled — What you seek is in Cutter’s Creek.

Alpha bear shifter Hale is determined to safeguard those closest to him. His life takes an unexpected turn when he crosses paths with a captivating witch. Enchanted by her very presence, he’s unable to banish her from his thoughts.

As destiny ties them together, not even the dark fae will destroy their newfound happiness.

Uncover the magic in this fast-paced, insta-love story that’s sure to warm your heart.

Amara wants to be free and have adventures, but with Dark Fae pursuing her she need to hide out and her gram’s quiet cottage seems like the perfect place. Only her path crosses alpha bear Hale and they both discover their destiny is something neither of them can outrun.

I really enjoyed this short story. With Hale being a cranky old bear who was clearly ready to turn a corner and start fresh I found him to be a wonderful and believable hero – with issues and not being perfect. I also found Amara to be a strong and enjoyable character, with plenty of magical powers of her own and not one to just swoon and give herself easily over to Hale. I thought they were very well matched and deliciously modern.

Readers who don’t like insta-love (or insta-lust) stories might not find this story suits their tastes. While I completely understand Hale as a were-bear recognized Amara as his true mate and couldn’t help his physical and chemical reaction to her it was rather amusing that he did seem to pretty much lose control and his mind over the whole situation. I was pleased Amara seemed to take it in stride – and with a bit of humour herself – but it was a little disappointing that it meant the sexiness was fast-tracked and they didn’t have much time initially to get to know each other.

There was a really intriguing sub-plotline around another werewolf – Sage – part of Hale’s pack and the dark fae prince that I found interesting. I suspect this leads off into a different book and I found the whole plotline interesting enough I may very well search that book out. This also helped the story feel like it wasn’t simply about Amara and Hale and their mating but helped the story feel like it was part of a much larger paranormal world and I really enjoyed that.

With interesting characters and plenty of steamy intimacy this was a good book and one I enjoyed reading.

Dogboy v Catfish by Luke Gracias

Dogboy v Catfish by Luke Gracias
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Ginger

On the day of her second wedding, Katherine Fisher, aka ‘Catfish,’ set the date for her divorce. In precisely 18 months, she would be entitled to half of their combined assets and receive maintenance payments until her five-year-old daughter, Emma, turns 18. Just as Catfish was about to take her husband, Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer (a successful businessman and dog whisperer) to the cleaners, he goes missing.

The police investigation into Dogboy’s disappearance leads them into the dark world of counterfeit designer goods, money laundering, and drug smuggling.

With Dogboy’s assets frozen and the mob protecting their interests, the missing persons case escalates to homicide. Catfish is in a race against time to get hold of Dogboy’s assets before the police get hold of her.

One question remains – is Dogboy dead or alive?

There are several slang words that fit Katherine Fisher, gold digger could be one. A gold digger is described as a person or woman who seeks out wealthy men or enters a relationship with someone for money, gifts otherwise basically exploiting or deceiving the other person rather than for a love interest. However, the author gave Kath an appropriate name of ‘Catfish’. This slang title is defined as a fictitious attractive persona with malicious intent.

Kath has timed her divorce from Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer after 18 months of marriage, she knows she will be entitled to half of his assets and receive child support payments for her five-year-old daughter, Emma, until she turns 18 but there seems to be a bit of delay in her plan. Her husband Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer is missing.

Be warned: if you do not have time to read it in one or two sittings, you may want to hold off until you can block off time and make sure your eReader is charged in advance. I like the organized set up of the breakdown or table of contents that shows the different sections and how each chapter has a name, reminding me of how episodes in a television series are named. The title references a phrase said during that chapter or episode. I like that the author provided the dates so that I was able to follow along in the timeline of events and investigation easily. What attracted me to the book was first the cover and then the excerpt. I like that the cover ties into the storyline where the three snakes were mentioned by Matthias in Bangkok and again in the tale of the Endless Knot that explains the color and what each snake represents.

This book has all the right ingredients for a suspenseful and remarkably interesting storyline. I can tell research was done on the criminal and family laws in Australia, statistics were reviewed on the suicide rate among men and my favorite since my background is in fraud and forensic accounting is reading about the money laundering and counterfeit/luxury handbags. I enjoyed the storyline; the author gave details that kept the story going enough to help set up the scenes, but he did not overdo it or get carried away being too wordy. Kath is an entitled individual that I did not like from the very first chapter when she met with the family law attorney Freya Keogh and there are many more instances that shed light on her true gold digger characteristics. Sadly, readers are not introduced to Lindsay, or his persona but I feel like his character was represented and created clearly by those that he considered devoted friends and acquaintances. The other characters spoke of Lindsay in a positive way which led me to believe he was a smart and good person, and I like how the author carried that out. Lindsay was a huge part of the story but yet he was not a physical character so to speak he was only mentioned and talked about, and the author executed that very well.

The author effortlessly captivated me with this complete, intriguing well told novel where the good guys win. A book of greed, crime, illegal pursuits, and friendship; however, the characters play a small part as the novel is plot driven. I normally like to get to know the
characters I am reading about better, but the narrative surrounding counterfeit designer bags, and the twist of illegal activity in this exceptional story took precedence.

A must read for readers seeking a good crime thriller!

Scorned by Angela Addams

Scorned by Angela Addams
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Hell hath no fury like a werewolf scorned.

All I’d ever wanted was to blend in among the humans, but my stepbrothers had other plans. When one of them sent a thug to abduct me, I had to let my true self out, claws and all.

That was the thing… The men in my world were always underestimating me.

Being the hothead that I was, I went straight to the source of the problem—the new alpha of my family’s clan, my stepbrother Sal. He had a surprise of his own, though, and when he hit me with a magically infused pure silver collar, I crumbled like I didn’t have A-plus DNA in my blood.

That was when the Duke brothers entered my life. Heroes in their own minds, they worked a deal with Sal to buy me… as if I were a commodity. To the males in my species, that was what I was, but to the Duke brothers I was the final piece in a prophecy puzzle. They wanted me to rule their clan, be alpha to their pack, which meant they wanted me to take the bites of all three of them.

To that I said, not on your life, boys. But, damn, they were hot, and I was willing to give cohabitation a try. I’d explore their old-world scrolls and prints and listen to their fairy tales about a superpowered queen alpha. I could even get behind training with their pack, but I wasn’t ever going to let a werewolf take a bite out of me.

At least that was what I kept telling myself. The beast inside me had other plans, and I’d never truly known how to stop her from getting what she wanted, no matter who she might have to destroy to achieve her goals.

Scorned is the first book in the Hell Hath No Fury series, and we start with Charlie trying to live as a human after being exiled from her pack. After something happens, she returns ‘home’ to give her stepbrother, Sal, what for. Things don’t turn out the way Charlie was expecting though – including her being sold to a different pack!

The three brothers are all unique, with their own very differing personalities. They want Charlie to lead their pack and they’re not too bothered about how they go about that, being as they say she has been calling to them for years. I loved the aspect of Charlie learning about her beast and abilities with the brothers.

I was thoroughly enjoying this book, right up until the last scene. And it’s not because I don’t like BDSM scenes because I do. What I didn’t like was how this took place in the dreamscape with no consent or talks about limits. Yes, that may take the sexy out of it, but it is needed!

I look forward to reading more in this series and seeing how the story continues.

Now Or Never by John Carson

Now Or Never by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

You can’t make up your own ending…

The lifeless body of a renowned author is found murdered within his residence, prompting DCI Harry McNeil to uncover the unsettling truth that not everyone held the man in high regard. Initially dismissed as a tragic mishap stemming from a misjudged publicity stunt, this incident swiftly transforms into a grim realization of foul play.

As a remorseless and deranged murderer prowls the streets, McNeil finds himself embroiled in an intense pursuit, exacerbated by the absence of one of his key team members.

Meanwhile, a surprising call interrupts DCI Angie Fisher’s routine – none other than her ex-husband, DI Dougie Fisher, whom she believed would remain estranged. Dougie, now residing in London with his new spouse and infant son, has come north to Fife for a family funeral. A nagging suspicion haunts him – he suspects his father-in-law’s demise was no accident. Frustratingly, his position as a detective in London’s MET has yielded no cooperation.

Initially hesitant to engage, Angie’s resolve wavers when Dougie discloses that his family has become a target. Yet, this is merely the prelude to an intricate sequence of events that ensnare Angie in the investigation. Amidst the labyrinth of twists and turns, the ultimate revelation catches her off guard, leaving her blindsided as events reach their irreversible climax.

DCI Harry McNeil books are always complicated but really well plotted with plenty of twists and turns and I found this book to be no exception. I enjoyed the fact that this full-length novel had about three main plotlines twisting and turning together which helped make me feel like the pace of the whole book kept up at a good clip. There was significant movement in DI Frank Miller’s story-arc which I feel should keep readers of the series very happy, but there was also a good plotline around the murder of a mystery author and some family drama with other members of the police team. I heartily empathize with Frank’s character – he has absolutely been through the wringer, and I definitely hope there’s a bit of peace and stability in store for him soon.

While the plots were all well explained I do feel readers might struggle if they pick this book up just fresh by itself. While certainly not all the previous books in the series need to be read to fully enjoy this – I do feel that at least a few should have been read, mainly so the reader can know and be able to juggle the many different characters and their relationships together all in order. I also finally felt like some of the personal drama between Harry and his wife – a fellow Detective in a different unit, Alex, had reached an easy equilibrium and some semblance of normalcy had returned to them.

While a lot of the different plots did get neatly wrapped up, there was one particular thread that was only partially finished. I personally don’t feel as if this book ended on a cliff hanger – but I will admit that I was relieved the next in the series had already been released so I could move immediately on to it. This is not particularly unusual for this series – frequently the author wraps most things up and leaves just a few loose threads that can be followed into the next book, but I do feel readers who prefer to have the next book ready and waiting might feel that need here.

With a whole cast of funny and interesting characters, a number of different groups all circling around and working together as well as numerous plots twining together this was a good book and an engrossing read.

Brielle and the Alien Geek by Jessica Coulter Smith

Brielle and the Alien Geek by Jessica Coulter Smith
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

The moment Syl sees Brielle, he realizes the sassy Earth woman is exactly what he needs in his life.

Brielle has waited faithfully for her fiancé to return from Terran Prime, only to discover she’s been engaged to a lying, cheating bastard, who tosses her out on her rear the moment he’s back on Earth. Not one to go down without a fight, Brielle will do anything to ensure her survival — even sign up for a bride exchange on another world.

Syl has lived his life in his lab, always preoccupied with his experiments. But the moment he sees Brielle, he realizes that perhaps his life has been missing something after all. Wanting and having are two different things. What would an exotic-looking female like Brielle want with an alien geek like him?

Brielle and the Alien Geek is the first book in the Intergalactic Brides series and follows Brielle as she deals with a cheating ex-fiancé and a helpful Terran.

This was a quick and easy read, detailing the set-up of the world and introducing (I think) characters who will be in later books. I loved that Syl was a scientist and not as bulked up as some of the others. Plus, Brielle wanted to be wanted for herself, not just because she was an available woman. I loved the scene in the restaurant and the reaction of the waitress.

It is a novella so the pacing is fast with insta-love, so prepare yourself for that. I found this to be a great start to a series and look forward to reading more.

Love Rains by Kira Stone

Love Rains by Kira Stone
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

He’s loved her since they were children, before he even knew what real love is. As an adult he loves her even more, but she doesn’t belong to him. Yet. Maybe she never will.

She always felt he needs to be a part of her life, but exactly how remains uncertain. She loves him, but is it a forever kind of love?

When love rains down, these two meet to see what’s possible between them when the past is washed away.

They’ve always been a part of each other’s lives and he’s always loved her – but she can’t belong to him. She loves him but remains unsure if it’s a forever kind of love. Can these two meet each other’s needs when love rains down?

I enjoyed this very short story and found it refreshingly different to so many out there. Written in a slightly different way to most stories I come across – no names are used, just the “she” and “he” style of descriptors. At first I thought this would really detract from my being able to enjoy the characters and feel attached to them but I quickly found that this wasn’t true. Indeed just be reading “she/he” I found it sort of helped my own imagination fill in the blanks and almost create or embellish the written story already there. I’m honestly not sure this would have worked for me personally on a longer story – with too much vagueness the bubble might have burst – but for such a short story this really worked well for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’m also deeply curious as to whether another re-read in a few weeks or months might prove that I actually come away with a slightly different context or image of the story and am intrigued enough to really want to reread it soon and discover this.

This story felt to me very much like a vignette – a snapshot of a scene in the middle of a much larger story. A lot of things were left unanswered which I do understand might annoy some readers, but equally I really feel as if there is a lot of hope in this ending. Readers who need a Happy Ever After ending won’t find this satisfying I don’t feel, and while I’m not certain this is even a Happy For Now style of ending it does feel as if both parties are happy and satisfied with the way things between them are left.

A refreshingly different story this was a great quick read and an author I will be keeping an eye out for more of.

Mysterious Island 3: Here Be Dragons by Greig Beck

Mysterious Island 3: Here Be Dragons by Greig Beck
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Below the English town of Ipswich a tunnel boring team is digging through solid rock when unexpectedly, they break into an ancient cave system filled with animal bones. Strangely, there were also the remains of men, knights in armor, some crushed, and some seemed to have had their bones and flesh melted. And there was one more thing found: a huge, egg-shaped ruby that glowed like a setting sun.

Just over 2000 miles away, still trapped on the lost island of Lemuria, Troy and Anne know that the time of monstrous beings long thought only existing in our legends or lurking in our nightmares, was returning.

But they now have a chance of escape – they have found the fabled submarine, the Nautilus.

Together, Troy, Anne, the secretive Elle, and the huge Viking woman, Yrsa, work together to break free so they can warn the world of the terror that is coming.

Under the earth on a mysterious island, Troy, Anne, Elle and the huge Viking warrior Yrsa are working together to escape the lost island of Lemuria. They’ve been gone for almost two years, but after surviving death many times they remain determined to return to their world. Will they be successful?

Meanwhile in the town of Ipswich in England a team is boring a tunnel unexpectedly find they break through into an ancient cave system filled with animal bones. The team discover an enormous, egg shaped ruby and all too soon human greed takes over on a journey that can’t be reversed.

This is the third – and technically final – book in the “Mysterious Island” trilogy by Greig Beck. While I do feel this book can be enjoyed by itself and much of the plot is very well explained just be reading this book alone, I do strongly feel the characters, the overall story arc and much of the deeper emotions will be better enjoyed if readers start at the beginning with the first book. I was very relieved and pleased that the bulk of the story throughout this full length novel was centered around Troy, Elle and Anne returning back home. This was the part of the story I was most heavily invested in from the previous two installments.

That said, I thought it was exceedingly clever of Mr. Beck to have incorporated from the beginning a secondary plotline about a new egg/dragon ruby being found in England and the new problems arising from this. A part of me felt very vindicated for Anne – human greed being what it is I nearly despaired of anyone believing her theory about these “dragon rubies” and having Anne proven correct felt wonderful to me. I was also deeply satisfied that even though I felt he was seriously slow on the uptake – Troy finally managed to work out who he could trust and who would turn on him when the opportunity arose.

I must point out that a number of Mr. Beck’s books don’t end on a traditional Happy Ever After (and not even a Happy For Now) style of ending. This is absolutely one of those series. There are a few twists at the end. One of them was fairly clear – to me at least – from early on in this book but another was quite a sharp plot twist right at the end of the book that I really didn’t see coming. Readers who like all their loose threads neatly tied up might not find this to be a fully satisfying ending, so be warned. This also does not have anything close to a traditional ending so readers should be aware of that, as well, going in.

Mr. Beck has loosely mentioned on Facebook that there may be a fourth installment coming. I think I’d be equally fine whether that happened or not. While I completely understand the ending might not be comfortable for everyone and might not be my own personal preference – with exceptional writing, brilliant characters and a fabulous plot a few small niggles can be easily overlooked.

A brilliant trilogy with a solid plot, dragons and Vikings and deep under-ground worlds, adventure and plenty of danger, I feel this book straddles numerous genres and should be a fabulous read for everyone.