Texas Rebels: Elias by Linda Warren


Texas Rebels: Elias by Linda Warren
Publisher: Harlequin Western Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (224 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

FIRST LOVE, SECOND CHANCE

Maribel McCray knew moving back to Horseshoe, Texas, would mean facing Elias Rebel, the cowboy she was forbidden to love in high school. She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. With her teenage son, Chase, in trouble, she needs Elias’s help. He may be a Rebel, sworn enemy of every McCray, but he’s also Chase’s father.

For the lone bachelor of the Rebel clan, there’s only one way to make up for lost years with his son—become a family for real. But Maribel’s distance runs deeper than the Rebel-McCray feud. Elias won’t settle for a marriage of convenience with the woman he’s falling for again. How can he convince Maribel some second chances are worth taking?

I really enjoyed this book. I’m disappointed that I didn’t find the Texas Rebels series by Linda Warren sooner. This is the seventh and last book in the series. I am going to have to go back and read the rest of the stories because I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy them based on how much I enjoyed reading this one.

I really need to point out that this story was a heartwarming romance about second chances. The heroine, Maribel, was written in a way that she could very possibly be me or someone I know. She has realistic issues that I can’t get into but I genuinely could understand from a personal perspective. In fact the advice she was given had a direct impact on me. Therefore I can consider this book to be inspirational. I quote, “You may not understand that kind of love, but sometimes people love the way they can”. That statement spoke to me and was powerful and meaningful to the plot. I admired Maribel for her courage and vulnerability as well as her ability to forgive.

I really connected with Elias, the hero, because he shared my values in a relationship. Elias and I both need vows of love to be shared at some point in the relationship. However, Maribel shared my values as far as needing to see love through actions not just with the words “I love you”. Together they demonstrated true love. I respected how Maribel and Elias were direct and honest with each other. No mind games.

When I read a romance book I want to be able to rave about it. I am so excited to be able to do just that. Everything was remarkable. The writing style, the plot, the characters, the pace, and the originality all had me captured from the start to the end. While this story was the ending in the series, fortunately for me it was my beginning. I will get to go back and meet all of the characters in the Rebel and McCray families that I briefly got to know and fall in love with in Texas Rebels: Elias.

I am quite thankful that I stumbled upon this book and I can definitely recommend it. Texas Rebels: Elias was an extremely enjoyable read for me. Just be prepared to “expect the unexpected”. This novel is more than meets the eye.

Playing by the Greek’s Rules by Sarah Morgan


Playing by the Greek’s Rules by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (192 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

It’s time to throw away the rule book…

Idealistic archaeologist Lily Rose craves a fairy-tale love, but in her experience it always ends in heartbreak. So now Lily’s trying a different approach—a fling with her boss, infamous Greek playboy Nik Zervakis!

Anti-love and anti-family, Nik lives by his own set of rules. There’s no one better to teach Lily how to separate sizzling sex from deep emotions! But while Nik has the world at his feet, he also has dark shadows in his heart…

It starts as a sensual game, but can Lily stick to Nik’s rules? And what’s more, can he?

This is a romance story to hug close and re-read when I need a happy boost. The premise uses a typical trope but the delivery is pure magic and Lily Rose is so delightful and funny, I loved the heroine’s personality. Mr. Iceberg Nik didn’t stand a chance.

I’ve been a fan of Ms. Morgan for quite a number of years but I have no idea how in the world I missed reading this little gem. It’s practically perfect. I can say in all honesty that I disturbed my hubby’s concentration as he watched his favorite T.V. show because I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. First it was the power shower, and then there were two other scenes at which I was powerless to stop the giggles bursting forth. I talked out loud to my Nook and gasped when I figured out who Lily was talking to on the phone. Oh no! Oh, yes. That’s Lily for you. The heroine’s effect on Nik must have felt like a roller coaster to him; many times I’m sure he felt the sudden drop after the amazing highs only to feel dizzy from the loop-de-loop that is the heroine’s personality. She kept him on his toes. He never knew what she’d say next and that was half the fun.

Dialogue. I absolutely, totally, without doubt or hesitation, ADORED Lily’s dialogue. How Nik held out from falling in love with her as long as he did astounded me. She made me laugh with her turns of phrase. I cannot say enough good things about how Ms. Morgan presented her heroine and her quirky nature. Everyone should have someone in their life that is as imaginative with their dialogue, idioms and phraseology as Lily’s was. It worked because her character came across as sincere, caring, loving and supportive. The one element that I believe is her greatest strength was her capacity for forgiveness. That is a personality trait that would benefit everyone in real life and the author had her heroine live it, not just pay lip service to the sentiment. I was very impressed.

Any reader who is serious about reading quality romance stories needs to pick up their own copy of Playing by the Greek’s Rules to see what I’m waxing poetic about. If I can find this in a print book format somewhere, I’m buying it so I can literally put this on my ‘keeper shelf’. That’s how good this book made me feel after I read the final paragraph and why I give this novel a high rating. Ms. Morgan rocks!

Turning the Tides by Nell Castle


Turning the Tides by Nell Castle
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (258 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Ever the black sheep of her adoptive family, Lee Cooper has finally buckled down to a responsible job as a social worker in Southwest Florida. Defending her client against charges of child abuse awakens buried memories of her own abandonment in a Korean orphanage. Can she remain objective for the sake of a child?

Bricker Kilbourn, the court-appointed guardian, doubts Lee’s judgments–and his opinion might determine the little boy’s fate. He’s got his own family issues and haunting secrets to keep. Falling for a woman is not part of his plan.

He’s running from his past. She’s searching for answers. Will their resolution to protect a child bind them together or wrench them apart?

Sometimes our past comes back to haunt us in unexpected ways.

Lee Cooper works in Social Services assisting parents and children to build better lives after the concerns are raised by Child Protective Services. When one difficult case arises where Lee is convinced that the foster mother is being manipulative of the system, Lee must act. Yet, when she meets the Guardian Ad Litem for the child, she finds more than she bargained for. When Lee learns some hidden information about Bricker, the plot thickens, and Lee’s past comes bursting forth and impacts her future with the one man she feels truly comfortable with.

Nell Castle does an excellent job, telling the story from various points of view. Although Lee Cooper is the primary point of view, the story goes much more in depth and has a great dynamic that many readers would not have anticipated. Several different sub-plots all converge on Bricker and Lee’s relationship, which also entwines another dynamic completely.

The conversations are engrossing and fit right in with the various plots. The characters are strong and each character has an in-depth background which impacts their current character development. The plots are all relevant and the aspects of work and the legal ethics are well researched and strongly presented. I personally liked the interaction between Lee and her supervisor which led to some interesting dynamic between Lee and Bricker down the road.

If you want a strong romantic story that integrates how our past can come forth to impact our future, you won’t want to miss Turning the Tides!

Roger by SJD Peterson


Roger by SJD Peterson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Christmas)
Length: Short Story (51 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

exas native Colt Burrow isn’t happy about his third cold, lonely Christmas in frozen Michigan. But when fate sends him a gift in the form of an abandoned puppy, he can’t keep his heart from melting. With the puppy’s companionship, he doesn’t feel so isolated anymore, and the holidays don’t seem as bleak. He even finds enough Christmas spirit to take Roger tree shopping. But just when Colt’s starting to hope Roger’s owner doesn’t show up… he does, and Colt doesn’t want to say goodbye.

Will Roger end up being Colt’s Christmas heartbreak… or his Christmas miracle?

Colt had grown up in Texas, so the bitterly cold, snowy Michigan winters had come as an unpleasant surprise to him. Whether it was the insane cold, or perhaps residual feelings left over from a particularly nasty break up a few years ago, Colt found himself far more Grinch-like than he was comfortable with. Braving the bitter snow for a cigarette, Colt finds a small dog, Roger, lost and shivering. Can Roger help return Colt’s Christmas spirit?

I found this to be a sweet and interesting Christmassy sort of story. While I completely sympathize with Colt and his distaste of the cold, snowy winter he’s enduring I was pleased how finding Roger managed to snap him out of his funk. Readers looking for a strong, erotic romance might not find this story quite to their tastes. The bulk of the story is actually between Roger (the lost dog) and Colt, though towards the end of the story Roger’s rightful owner, Killian, does show up. I, personally, was quite enthralled by Colt and his emotional attachment to Roger. I could understand readers being somewhat disappointed if they pick this story up wanting a sensual, erotic romance story, but readers looking for a sweeter, man-and-his-dog sort of story should be satisfied, as I found the emotion and connection in the story was vibrant and quite realistic. Aside from a sweet, chaste kiss there’s no sex or “on screen” spice – while an intimate relationship is alluded to in the epilogue there is no spice within the story itself.

While the story is set around Christmas-time, I found the theme of Christmas to absolutely take a back seat to the connection between Colt and Roger. While not romantic as such, the relationship between dog and man certainly seemed front-and-centre to me, and deservedly so. I found it interesting and extremely well written and I could happily enjoy it for what it was. I was happily satisfied with the ending – a lovely happy ever after for Colt and Killian and wonderful to me as a reader.

Readers looking for a happy and friendly short story – one that can be safely shared with both younger and older readers – with the main relationship surrounding a lonely man who finds his happiness with the joy from a lost pet dog should find this short story heart-warming and sweetly satisfying. A great story with no sex and a lovely happy ending.

Heart and Dagger by Holland Rae


Heart and Dagger by Holland Rae
The Ships in the Night Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (174 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Lady Charlotte Talbot hasn’t seen Armand Rajaram de Bourbon, her oldest childhood friend and once betrothed, since his family returned to India when she was fifteen. Since then, she has left a groom at the altar, changed her name to Catalina Sol, opened a house for unwed mothers and orphans, and captained a ship, the Liberté, crewed by the best fighters in the Spanish Main. She’s no longer the lady he left behind, not that she’d admit to wishing he’d return.

When Armand’s brother is kidnapped, he breaks his rule of never engaging with pirates. But desperation drives him to the Liberté and a life he thought he’d left far behind. He’d do anything to save Henri, but Armand never expected to find Charlotte here, and now that’s he’s found her, he doesn’t have a clue what to do about it.

Together, they must face kidnapping, pirate captains, blackmail, and themselves. The Liberté may sail thousands of miles from the shores of England, but that might not be far enough to escape the past.

The series was definitely launched with a substantial start. Heart and Dagger is book one in The Ships in the Night Series and introduces the heroine, Lady Charlotte Talbot, also known as Catalina Sol. Catalina took in strays and runaways while purposely forgetting her past, which became impossible when she ran into the hero, Armand Rajaram de Bourbon whom she’s known since her childhood. Armand has a story of his own and when mixed with Catalina’s it made for an interesting debut for a new series. I enjoyed getting to know several of the characters since they were well developed, relatable and likable. I am hoping there will be a story for Catalina’s sister, Eliza and Armand’s brother, Henry, in the future.

When the synopsis mentioned that Catalina captained a ship, I was intrigued. That sounded unique and like something I’d like to read in a romance book. It turned out to be a fun and entertaining read. I enjoyed Catalina’s strength and her courage to make difficult decisions, ones that maybe would endanger her or her loved ones. It was refreshing to read a leading heroine that was confident, smart and yet could be a refined lady if she needed to be. It made her irresistible in not only in Armand’s eyes but in my eyes too. I appreciated the writing attempt in using Armand to bring out the sweet and vulnerable side in Catalina. I respected Armand’s ability to trust Catalina and let her lead yet still be in protection mode. It was a fine line for him to walk and the author did a wonderful job exemplifying that fine treading. Armand and Catalina clicked together like a fine tuned piano and together they made harmony. I enjoy knowing their relationship was healthy in the chemistry department. I was secure in the knowledge that they would eventually achieve a happy ending. Armand was a dream-worthy hero.

This was a great book to escape into while I sat in the car for eleven hours traveling home for Christmas. The plot was riveting; between the kidnapping, pirates, blackmail and the budding romance, I forgot I was stuck in holiday traffic since I was too busy flipping pages to find out what was going to happen next.

Heart and Dagger was well written and its conclusion left me with a happy book glow. I especially loved the epilogue. It is my pleasure to recommend this book.

Collateral Risk by Gwenan Haines

Collateral Risk by Gwenan Haines
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (370 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

After losing her sister to a serial killer years earlier, scientist Mia Lindgren survives by focusing on the most dangerous viruses known to man. She’s become adept at shutting herself off from human contact—until her lab partner drowns under suspicious circumstances.

Forced to accept the assistance of Nick Doyle, an FBI counter-terrorism expert on leave, she soon realizes someone at the Institute for Research of Infectious Diseases is involved in a deadly deception. As she and Nick race to find a killer who will stop at nothing to accomplish his version of Armageddon, they can’t ignore their own chemistry. But can Mia truly put the past to rest?

Intelligent and complex, Collateral Risk checked all the boxes for a solid romantic suspense. I admit, I had a hard time connecting with the heroine, Mia, for the first part of the book. She’s closed herself off to all emotional involvement due to a traumatic incident with her sister years before. This makes her come across as cold and selfish and uncaring. The hero, Nick, and Mia’s mom, Angela, made up for that a bit, however.

The action starts at a good clip, and seldom slows down except when we’re at the rehab facility where Nick and Angela are residing temporarily. The times we spend there give us a bit of a breather from the race to stop Armageddon (in the form of a horrendous virus with no known antidote).

Nick was an awesome hero: handsome, funny, clever and strong. I didn’t understand his immediate attraction to Mia (other than she is described as being basically perfect in physical looks). She’s short with him, somewhat unkind and impatient. I also didn’t quite buy their relationship developing as quickly as it did due to Mia’s emotional issues, but really that was the only thing that didn’t click for me in this book.

The suspense plot and story were awesome. I liked everything about it… even the parrots (and yes, the line from Nick about the parrot made me giggle a bit). I can’t imagine doing what Mia does. Her preoccupation with the tiny cut she accidentally gives herself at the start of the book because of her job, having to double and triple glove before putting on her hazmat suit to do her job … holy cow, I couldn’t handle that kind of stress. It takes a special kind of person to do that work.

There was lots of action, lots of suspense, and just really solid writing and descriptions throughout. I read this book in one sitting and that’s a big thing for me. I seldom do that, and can’t remember the last book I did it with.

If you like a solid, well-written suspense novel, I can happily recommend Collateral Risk.

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Second Time Love by Laura M. Baird


Second Time Love by Laura M. Baird
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (39 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

After losing her husband of thirty years, Grace, at the age of fifty, thought all she’d ever feel was grief and loneliness. She certainly never thought to feel love again. After being convinced to take the trip of a lifetime, a surprise encounter with Cole has her rethinking her feelings—especially when he ignites a passion unlike anything she’s ever experienced. Will Grace allow herself another chance with this second time love?

After thirty years together Grace is devastated when her husband is killed in an accident. After a number of months recovering from the heart-wrenching loss, Grace decides to take the already paid for trip to Fiji she and her husband had planned for the end of the year. When Grace meets Colt on her holiday, can she open her heart to living – and loving – once again?

This is a lovely short story. I was particularly pleased that the author didn’t gloss over Grace and the loss of her childhood sweetheart and husband of many years. There was no doubt in my mind that Grace fully and thoroughly grieved for that loss and finally managed to come out the other side of her grief. Watching Grace embrace life again was delightful and a lovely aspect to this story which I hadn’t been expecting. I feel that readers will either love or hate Grace jumping into a new relationship with a man she met on holiday – the four months that have passed since Grace’s husband died could be either plenty of time to grieve or nowhere near enough, and I think readers will vary wildly in their opinions on that matter.

I personally found that Grace’s emotions were well written, but I was a little uncomfortable at the spiciness of Colt’s reaction to meeting Grace and particularly the speed with which they moved their physical relationship. While I was more than happy to read of Grace moving on and finding love for a second time, I think I would have been more comfortable had it been a softer, more gentle style of love that slowly blossomed into a spicy and sexy relationship. Possibly due to the shortness of the story the vast bulk of that getting to know you stage was skipped over into a paragraph or two describing “wonderful days” of Colt and Grace exploring the islands and talking at length together. While that nod to time was fine – actually reading the story meant that basically from one page to the next Colt and Grace met, admitted their desire for each other then tumbled into bed. It felt just too fast for me, personally, to really enjoy.

Readers looking for a spicy “second chance at love” style of story likely should be very happy with this – as the consummation is sensually and explicitly written. I was also impressed that although neither Grace nor Colt were young, their sexual desires were hot and heavy. Both Colt and Grace were more than willing to embrace life and love and ready to start fresh with each other. This was lovely to see.

An interesting short story that encompasses both the deep well of grief stemming from the loss of one relationship and walking through the other side to the beautiful beginning of a new relationship. This story covers a lot of ground and is certainly a spicy, sexy read.

Brynnde by M. Pepper Langlinais


Brynnde by M. Pepper Langlinais
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (212 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Brynnde Archambault needs to find someone to marry, else she’ll be stuck with dull Mr. Dallweather. The answer to her problem arrives in the form of handsome and witty Viscount Burbridge, but just when everything seems to be going smoothly, scandal strikes and the engagement ends.

Meanwhile, Brynnde has no trouble matchmaking her friends and even her own brother. But while she breezily finds suitors for everyone else, for her time is running out. Must she resign herself to becoming Mrs. Dallweather? Or will Brynnde yet succeed in making a match for herself?

An unexpected gem, Brynnde will restore Regency readers’ joy in reading–and rejoice in discovering author Pepper Langlinais!

Quite properly, if I may say so, this regency romance offers all the correct components: the marriage-mart, the slightly-stifled leading lady, unexpected scandal, ballrooms and tea rooms and gossip! What’s more, Proper Regency though it is, Brynnde (the story and the character) manages to be a bit unpredictable. Brynnde, who “will not be treated like a heifer,” has a good head on her shoulders and is quite the match for sparring in the drawing room. Her combative conversations are superb!

There are a plethora of characters, but they are distinct, and never confusing. The author’s style gives a bit of flavor to this historical. Is it subtle word choice? A particular care when offering a phrase? I cannot quite put my finger on it, but she can twist a bit of ‘funny’ into action, unexpectedly. This is the most enjoyable story I have read in quite a while.

Bryndde is a fun, uncomplicated, well-written read that any fan of the genre should pick up.

Year One by Nora Roberts


Year One by Nora Roberts
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (419 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed―and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magick rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river―or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Get ready to read something unlike anything you’ve read by Nora Roberts before. I hadn’t even read the blurb before I picked up a copy of Year One and so had no preconceived notions of what I should expect. I’m really glad of that, though I will say that this book starts a trilogy that’s completely different from her previous works. It’s not romance, not really, though there are obviously relationships in the story and it’s not her typical annual trilogy following sets of people (either three or four women and men) who have some goal to reach and end up falling in love on the way.

Now that I’ve said what this book isn’t, let me tell you what it is. It’s fairly dark and depressing, and after the initial near-extinction of the human race, a battle of good and evil begins that is exceptionally reminiscent of The Stand by Stephen King. The book starts by showing us the unleashing of evil, in the form of a plague that kills more than 5 billion people. Additionally, many of the immune develop unexpected powers (they become witches or fairies or shape-shifters or other paranormal beings). There are good and bad in both the “uncanny” and those without new powers. Just like anything else, how things are used depends on the character of those who use them.

The story follows a few groups of people who ultimately merge together. We have Max and Lana, two lovers who were already somewhat aware of their powers prior to Doom (the name given to the plague), but became exponentially more powerful after. Then there is Arlys, a TV reporter who does her best to honestly and factually report about the demise of humanity and the world as we know it. Next is Jonah and Rachel, an EMT and a doctor. Each begins the trek out of the city (New York) on their own, and each set of folks pick up others on their journey.

This is not an uplifting romance, or a tale with much that is light. There are pockets of happiness, but they are few and far between. The world is ending. Violence is on the rise. The uncanny are being hunted, tortured and murdered. Evil is growing. Despite the fact that dark stories are not usually my preferred reading, I had a hard time putting this book down. I was completely invested in the characters, especially Eddie and Jonah who really grabbed me by the heartstrings. I needed to see what happened to everyone–but be prepared, just as in real life, not everyone is going to make it to the end.

There is also “the one”… the person who will apparently be the one who can save the world. I honestly found this a tad corny and struggled with the idea, but am reserving judgment until the next book which I imagine will give me a chance to be a bit more accepting. I also didn’t like the character arc Ms. Roberts gave Lana. I want to avoid spoilers, but I found her behavior at the end (a change of heart, you might say) to be a bit difficult to believe.

I’ve heard from others that they didn’t even bother to read past the first few chapters because this isn’t a typical Nora Roberts book. While I wish they’d have given the book a little more of a chance, they’re right. I recommend you pick up this book not expecting that. Instead, just be prepared to be engaged. Don’t force your own preconceived notions about what the book should be, enjoy it for what it is. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next in the series. I, for one, am glad to see Ms. Roberts spreading her wings a bit and endeavoring to not just churn out something usual or clichéd. Despite the darkness here, she still engaged me and did the one thing I think she does best: created characters that mattered to me. Ultimately, that’s why I read books and it’s one of her strongest abilities.

Grab a copy. Read it. Then let me know what you thought.

Vessel of Power by Michelle O’Leary


Vessel of Power by Michelle O’Leary
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (389 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Lia must stop the elemental prince at all costs. Prince Destin is searching for the Vessel of Power, an object containing the might of the gods. His soulless father will use it to destroy their world, starting with her family. Lia will do whatever it takes to protect the Vessel, except she can’t seem to end this magnetic prince of fire. Destin won’t let anything stand in his way, even a gorgeous changeling with mayhem on her mind. He’s determined to prove his worth as son and heir by retrieving the Vessel for his father. Lia challenges him at every turn, but he burns whenever he’s near this tantalizing changeling. Torn between loyalty to family and desire for one another, Destin and Lia struggle to find the right path. Can they save their world and each other? Will finding the Vessel bind them together or drive them apart forever?

Lia has a very good reason to keep the Vessel of Power hidden.

Lia was prepared to do anything to stop Destin from finding the Vessel of Power, but one glance at the elemental prince gave her pause. Instead of a ruthless, power hungry royal, Destin is much more human than Lia ever could have imagined. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, Lia and Destin aren’t as different as they seem. If only they’d stop fighting long enough to realize it.

Lis and Destin have an antagonistic relationship right from the start as they have opposing views on the Vessel. Lia professes to want the Vessel to stay hidden to save the world from destruction, but Destin and his cousin, Rune, believe Lia has a much more personal reason for wanting the Vessel to remain hidden. It is very interesting to watch Destin, Lia, and Rune interact. Lia alternates between helping Destin escape the clutches of his uncle and putting her own stumbling blocks in Destin’s path. Even though they are on opposite sides where the Vessel is concerned, it is clear that Lia and Destin have great chemistry, and I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take them to realize they’d be stronger together than apart. I do think that their relationship was rushed. It just seemed like one minute they were fighting and annoying each other and the next they were in love. I would have liked to see more of a transition between those extremes.

Rune is by far my favorite character. I liked him immediately, and he is consistently a bright spot in this tale. Rune is so much fun, and he always lightens the mood at just the right time. I found myself smiling every time he opened his mouth. Even Lia, who doesn’t open to others easily, can’t help but like him.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Vessel of Power. I hope that Ms. O’Leary has plans for a sequel because I’d love to spend more time with Rune, Lia, and Destin. Fans of fantasy romance won’t want to miss this novel.