Secrets & Lies (Oklahoma Brands #3) by Maggie Shayne

SecretsAndLiesWhen former Secret Service agent Alex Stone is asked to impersonate a foreign dignitary who wears a full beard and is rarely seen without his sunglasses, it’s not a problem. But getting someone to impersonate the man’s new bride, a beauty the world adores, is a little bit harder. Melusine Brand looks astoundingly like the pampered princess. She’s also a rough and tumble Oklahoma Tom boy with colorful language. Besides, she’ll never agree.

Only, she does. Alex has to tutor her to survive the glitzy world he’s used to. But when things take a turn and they’re on the run in the wilderness with killers on their heels, it’s Mel’s turn to school him. Depending on each other to stay alive, these two opposites find a love that’s stronger than either of them could have imagined…and hope they can live long enough to claim it.

I’ve been jumping around between both the Texas Brands and the Oklahoma Brands. So far that tactic hasn’t caused any conflict. Secrets and Lies came close though ;)

Secrets and Lies featured two of my favorite characters from both series… Mel and Wes. They could both probably be considered the black sheep of each of their immediate families to some extent. Wes definitely more than Mel, but she still stood out from the rest. Vidalia Brand had raised all her daughters to be strong and independent. Mel took that to the extreme. She considered herself the family’s protector. The strongest and sometimes even the meanest (if she or anyone she cared about was crossed.) No one messed with Mel and no man was brave (or dumb) enough to attempt to tame her. Until Alex, then he realized he respected the strong, independent, feisty Mel more than the tame version.

Alex may have been born and bred in a totally different world than Mel, but that didn’t mean he didn’t appreciate the woman she was, regardless of how well she hid it. There was definitely a humorous side to Secrets and Lies, but there was a heart warming one as well. This book had everything I’ve grown to love about all the Brands’ books. My only complaint is that I wish there had been a little bit more.

As I mentioned, Wes played a big role in Secrets and Lies and so did the rest of the Texas Brands. This is the first book that the Brand families reunite and it turns out that they have a lot more in common than just blood. There are ‘fences’ that need to be mended and a few more secrets that are begging to be revealed. Needless to say, there were a lot of unanswered questions at the end of this book. So many that I’m not sure which series I should jump to next. I’m tempted to go back to the Texas Brands and finish it up until it leads me back to the Oklahoma Brands but I’m not sure I can wait to see what happens next. *sigh*

DragonFlyRating4

 

The Best Man (Wilde’s #1) by L.A. Witt

BestManJon Beatty thought he’d found the best man for him until Craig walked out. To add insult to injury, Craig’s got a new lover—a woman—and wants Jon to be a different kind of best man…at his wedding.

Reasoning that the only way to get over one man is to get under another, Jon heads out to Wilde’s, the night club on Capitol Hill famous for its hot clientele and hotter bartenders. Jon just wants to get drunk and get laid, and bartender Liam Sable is more than willing to help with both.

Their one night stand turns into a rebound fling, but as Jon moves on with Liam, Craig starts having second thoughts about the break-up. His tiresome antics are the least of Jon and Liam’s worries, though. The least annoying, and the least dangerous…

This is the book that started it all… well, at least it’s the first book that introduced Wilde’s night club. Even though it’s not ‘officially’ attached to the Distance Between Us series, there’s definitely a connection. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter when you pick this one up though. Of course, I’m not the best judge since I read the 5th book in the series (No Place that Far) then I read the 1st book (The Distance Between Us) before I even picked up The Best Man. *sigh* No need to judge, I’m back on track now.

Jon was totally hooked on his ex… so much so that he spent months pining over him even though he was obviously committed to not just another lover, but a woman. He knew that he was being ridiculous in his head, but his heart still hadn’t let go. He finally got the hint when his ex asked him to be his best man in his wedding… and by the way… who does that? Craig proved over and over again he wasn’t worth the devotion Jon wasted on him. The final push for Jon was the wedding and the realization that he was living in the past which finally led him straight to Liam.

Jon and Liam were so great together. I loved the way Jon opened up to him and Liam’s attentiveness was just what Jon needed. Watching them try to convince themselves and each other that they weren’t looking for anything serious was laughable since they were obviously so good for each other.  Even so, I ended up getting really annoyed at Jon when things started to self destruct in The Best Man. Why? I could see what was going on with Liam and his ex way before Jon did. I’m not going to say much more on the off chance that other readers don’t pick up on it quite as fast as I did. I’ll blame it on the fact that Jon was gun shy, which he deserved to be, but still.

Regardless of the ups and downs, this still turned out to be a really sweet love story between Jon and Liam. Even if I hadn’t already read more than one book in the series, The Best Man would have made me want to find out more about this series. I can’t wait to learn more about the guys at Wildes and check in on Liam and Jon while I’m at it. ;)

DragonFlyRating4

Night Shift: Dirty Things Happen in the Dark Anthology

NightShiftSummer in the Big Easy is hot. Inside Tulane Medical Center the temperature is on the rise.

A doctor nursing a broken heart. A wounded warrior with no interest in love. A single father finding the girl who got away. A combat nurse trying to adjust to civilian life. Two lost souls looking for love. A former detective looking for answers and an FBI agent who finds more than he bargains for.

Desire. Lust. Excess. New Orleans will never be the same.

Six never before released stories that will leave you breathless.

Dirty things happen in the dark.

All proceeds of this book will be donated to:
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Suicide Prevention – Keith Milano Memorial Fund
Nashville Predators Foundation

I love anthologies. They’re a great way to get a taste of authors I’ve never read or to get another short taste of authors I’m familiar with. Either way, there’s always a surprise hiding within the pages. I’ve only read one of the authors in the Night Shift anthology, but I found more than a couple new ones to follow. NOLA is the common thread in all of these stories, but so is the steamy romance that ignites between the characters. Some are looking for love, others are looking for distraction and some don’t even know what they’re looking for until they find it. Each story was unique and some I liked more than others. More than one of these stories reminded readers that #LoveisLove. If you’re lucky enough to find it, don’t question it. Just hang on tight and go with it. <3

OffDutyOff Duty by Sawyer Bennett
There was so much more to this story than ‘the one that got away’ but that’s where it starts. Sometimes first love is as hard to shake as it is to hold on to. Holly & Tim’s story was a beautiful one and left me with a warm heart and a huge smile. :D #LoveisLove

Rebound by Chelle Bliss
I wasn’t sure about this one at first. I really liked Sam and Fiona, but the prologue not only made me wonder which direction this story was headed, it definitely got my attention, both of which were obviously its purpose. Once the actual story started there were no more doubts. Sometimes love at first sight really does happen (especially when it’s the last thing you’re looking for ;) ).

WantingToForgetWanting to Forget by Toni Aleo
I’m pretty sure that the general consensus for readers is going to be that Jordie got what he deserved and Kacey is way better off without him. I may have to read their story when it’s released just to see how well Toni Aleo changes my opinion about him. Right now the odds aren’t very good, so she’s got her work cut out for her. ;)

ClosetConfessionsCloset Confessions by Kindle Alexander
Well, this is going to be a hard one to review… How about if I just tell you I loved Justin and Derek and leave it at that? LOL!
Okay, basically Justin is trying to adjust to civilian life after deciding not to re-enlist and Derek is willing to do whatever it takes to help his newest staff member feel welcome. ;) My only complaint is that I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with these two.

Healing Touch by Brenda Rothert
Joss and Carson were another favorite couple of mine in this anthology. Not that I didn’t love them all, but some of them touched me a little bit more than others. These two both needed to get rid of the shadows in their past that kept them from trusting their feelings or hope for anyone else. They both deserved what they thought they would never have, which made their story even sweeter. ;)

Swimming in Shadows by Eden Butler
I liked the mystery that Swimming in Shadows centered on as well as the ‘voice’ of Neil. He was pretty broken… my favorite type of alpha male. ;) Since readers are left wanting to know if the mystery ever gets solved, it’s a good thing this is Eden Butler’s way of introducing her newest series. Hopefully Shadows and Lies will answer some of those burning questions.

Beyond being a collection of hot and steamy stories, don’t forget that all proceeds from Night Shift will be donated to the charities listed above. <3

DragonFlyRating4

Omega (War of the Alphas #1) by S.M. Reine

OmegaTen years ago, Deirdre Tombs died. When she was reborn the next day, Deirdre had become a shapeshifter who can’t shift shapes. Nobody knows what animal she’s supposed to be. She’s definitely not a werewolf. The Alpha, Rylie Gresham, can’t force her to transform like other members of her pack.

Now Deirdre is considered an omega, the weakest shapeshifter in the pack–a vulnerable position when Everton Stark demands tribute from Rylie. He wants to be the dominant Alpha. The only Alpha. And he plans to make her pack submit whether they want to or not. Stark can make every shapeshifter obey him by force of will alone.

Every shapeshifter except Deirdre.

The shifter who can’t shift is the only hope for Rylie to win the war against Stark. It will take everything Deirdre has to survive undercover in his den. But can an omega’s will be stronger than that of a charismatic, deadly Alpha like Everton Stark?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Omega takes place 10 years after the end of the Ascension series. Honestly, I didn’t think about what happened to people outside of the main characters. I’m not surprised that S.M. Reine not only thought about it, but created a whole new series centered around it.

Deirdre was an interesting character. At first I couldn’t sympathize with her, but that was a totally jaded POV on my part. I adore Rylie, faults and all. My love of S.M. Reine’s writing started with Rylie, so of course that’s where my sympathies lie. Deirdre had a totally different perspective. She knew what happened during that ten year gap on a very personal level. To her Rylie was everything her suffering for that decade represented. Her lack of trust toward Rylie and the pack was deep seated. Getting into her head for just a little while made me understand her POV, but it didn’t keep me from wanting to jump into the book and try to explain to Deirdre exactly how awesome Rylie really was and how much the Pack and everyone in it had been through.

This was Deirdre’s story though and the fact that I was so quick to defend Rylie proves what an awesome job S.M. Reine has done so far with this world. Deirdre’s story adds another layer to it and her story is proving to be no less intense than any of the other characters introduced so far.

Speaking of characters, this author has come up with some pretty evil ones. Everton Stark is now at the top of that list. It’s not just because he’s trying to take Rylie down, which is bad enough. It’s more because of the methods he’s using to do so. He’s ruthless, dangerous and worst of all, passionate in his cause.

Omega wasn’t anything like I imagined it would be, but I’ve learned to expect that from S.M. Reine. She pulls no punches when it comes to emotions and she pretty much pushed them to the limit in the first book in this series. (Yes, there were tears…big fat ugly ones) I can’t say a whole lot more because I’m afraid I’ll give something away. There’s a fine line between good and evil and this author walks a tight rope with that reality. No one is safe. No one is immune and not everything is exactly as it seems… ever.

DragonFlyRating5

Aurora by Amos Cassidy

Aurora FinalThree hundred years ago humanity almost eradicated itself…almost, but not quite. As is the persistence of human kind, we hung on; we survived, but the world as we knew it was changed forever. The exact details of what happened have been lost in time. All we know is that this is our world now and we have no choice but to live in it….

Oz and his sister True have been traveling for as long as they can remember. Ma feels that staying on the move is safe, that it prevents them getting lazy and complacent. It’s a better way to avoid bandits and raiders, a more effective way to stay alive. But the thing, the person that protects them is Oz – a lethal fighter who will go to any lengths to defend his family.

Oz makes money from cage fights while dreaming of a better life for them all – a home where they can be truly safe. True dreams of freedom, love and hope and just when she thinks she’s found it their world is turned upside down and they are forced to embark on a journey that rips them apart. For when True is taken by an unknown enemy Oz must enlist the help of a man from the shadows to save her.

I may have mentioned once or twice that Dystopian novels and I have a love/hate relationship. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like them. I wouldn’t keep picking them up if I didn’t. It’s more the fact that it takes me a while to get wrapped up in the unique worlds the authors have so painstakingly created. Once I’m there, I’m good. The only reason I’m bringing this up… again… is because I didn’t have that problem with Aurora. I’d love to tell you why, but I can’t. If I had to guess though I’d say it’s because of the rapid, intense intro and my instant love of both True and Oz.

There wasn’t much ‘down time’ in Aurora. The world that Amos Cassidy created in Aurora was beyond harsh… and then it got worse. I guess I should apologize for being vague, but there were some major twists and turns in Aurora and I don’t want to give anything away. The main thing that you need to know is that NOTHING is as it seems. There’s more than one reality at play in Aurora, the one that True and Oz grew up in and the one that was hidden from them. Once those two worlds collide things begin to get really interesting.

The POV in Aurora switched between True and Oz and a few other characters, which kept things interesting. It also gave readers a little bit more perspective than the characters had. There were times that this wasn’t the easiest book to read, but as the cliche goes, ‘there’s a moral to the story’ and with any luck, those who read it will get it.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Up from the Grave (Night Huntress #7) by Jeaniene Frost

UpFromTheGraveLately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death… because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear — will be hovering on the edge of the grave.

I admit it. I’ve had this book in my possession since it was first released over a year ago. So why haven’t I read it until now? I’m a wimp. I just couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye to Cat & Bones. I figured I had put it off long enough though and I’m glad I finally picked it up. Up from the Grave turned out to be the perfect ending to an amazing series.

I’m not sure how much I can add to the hundreds of reviews that have already been written, so I’ll keep it short. Plus, if I write too much I’m afraid I’ll give something away. Up from the Grave had more than a few surprising twists, unexpected alliances and the normal heat, romance and fun that fans have come to expect from Cat, Bones and company.

Frost brought the book and series to a satisfying end and that’s pretty much all fans could ask for. It also made me love them even more. Up from the Grave also gave me a whole new appreciation for at least one character. I mention this mainly because I really hope that some of my favorites (one snarky vamp in particular) find their way into the Night Huntress World with books of their own. ;)

DragonFlyRating5

Getting it Right (Restoration #1) by A.M. Arthur

GettingItRightDetective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four—because he’s too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as Tag, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn’t sorry for the kisses that James can’t remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Halfway through this book I caught the connection between the Restoration series and the Belonging series. Don’t judge. I’ve only read a couple of A.M. Arthur’s books so it took me a while to catch on. I have to admit, even though this series could stand alone, once I got the connection I gained a whole new perspective. I also realized that I need to pick up the first two books in the Belonging series, sooner rather than later. ;)

As for James and Nathan… I loved these two both as friends and lovers. I understood James’ reluctance to fall into a relationship with Nathan. He didn’t want to take a chance on ruining what they had. Nathan felt the same way, but he’d also never felt about anyone the way he felt about James. But then… well, you’ll just have to read Getting it Right to find out…

Their story was heartbreaking and intense and beautiful. It was also fun and intense. The supporting characters added a lot to the story and I love it when that happens. From James’ friends to his patients as well as Nathan’s co-workers and his family, they all played important roles in the outcome of their relationship. Some of their lives became intertwined with Nathan and James in surprising ways.

There were hints at what may be coming next in the Restoration series and I can’t wait to see how these characters grow even more.

DragonFlyRating4

Hunted (Donovan Circus #3) by Liz Long

HUNTEDCoverSmLucy Sullivan finally belongs with the gifted Donovan Circus. Members are finding their rhythm, even the new folks from the Grayson Circus who joined after the last attack. Lucy feels like a trusted leader who can win the gifted battles and prevent humans from discovering their existence.

When tragedy strikes camp, a distraught Sheffield sends Lucy and her gifted team to hunt down the enemy – Alex, a Chameleon with a wicked ability for war. He’s out for blood and won’t stop until Lucy and her friends are dead.

This time, it won’t be Lucy’s gift that is tested – it will be her morality. To save her circus, the price will be greater than she ever expected. This time, she will lose someone she loves. And it will change everything.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I finished Hunted in absolute awe. The world that Liz Long has created in the Donovan Circus series is constantly evolving. New people with new powers are woven into the story and just when you think that you know what to expect from a certain type of ‘Gifted’ a new twist is added to their power. That doesn’t even take into consideration that sometimes from page to page you’re wondering exactly who can and can’t be trusted. Hunted was basically a non-stop roller coaster ride of emotion.

Lucy is tested more than once in Hunted in many different ways. Her loyalty to her friends and ‘family’ is never in question, but the secret she’s keeping is putting a strain on her. Having someone to not only share that secret with but to also help her with her role as leader is a relief. A new balance of friendship is created which caused me see some characters in a whole different light.

There were times during Hunted that I wasn’t sure who would survive and not everyone did. I can’t really say a whole lot more because it would give too much away. I can tell you that Lucy losing someone wasn’t the most heartbreaking moment for me in Hunted. I shed more than one tear in this book and Liz Long rose one step higher on my ‘Evil Author’ list by the time I was finished.

Hunted doesn’t end in an actual cliff hanger but the fate of pretty much everyone is uncertain. No one was left untouched by the events that took place in this book and there are some that will definitely never be the same. The next book in this series can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyRating5

 

Misfits by Garrett Leigh

MisfitsRestaurant owner Tom Fearnes has loved his partner Cass for as long as he can remember, but their work often keeps them apart. When he meets a striking young man named Jake on the vibrant streets of Camden Town, their heady first encounter takes an unexpected turn.

Jake Thompson can hardly believe his luck when he wakes up in Tom’s bed. Tom is gorgeous, kind, and . . . taken. Tom’s explanation of his open relationship leaves Jake cold, but Tom is too tempting, and when hard times force Jake to accept Tom’s helping hand, he finds himself between two men who’ve lost their way.

Cass Pearson is a troubled soul. He loves Tom with all he has, but some days it feels like he hasn’t much to give. Jake seems like the perfect solution. Cass risks everything to push Jake and Tom together, but Jake resists, wary, until the darkness of Cass’s past comes to call. Then Jake finds himself the last man standing, and it’s time to dig deep and shine a light for the men he’s grown to love.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I can honestly say that I had no idea what to expect from this book. I also have to admit that there has to be something special about a menage to make me leap into reading one. It pretty much has to promise to be funny or emotionally intense… Misfits falls into the intense category, but it’s also very sweet. Even though I understood exactly where Jake’s reluctance to continue any sort of relationship with Tom came from, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with all three of these guys and gain a new understanding.

Even though Cass and Tom were totally devoted to each other, the fact that they had an open relationship proved that there was something missing. From the very beginning, open relationship or not, both Cass and Tom knew that Jake was different for both of them.

There was so much to love about this book. I loved Jake’s fierce independence. I loved Tom’s sense of protectiveness toward both Jake and Cass and I adored Cass’ devotion to Tom that allowed him to see exactly what Jake needed and call Tom out when he didn’t step up the way he thought he should. Sounds confusing, I know, but it worked.

This story also touched on a disability that I never really thought about, but will never think about in the same way. Jake had Tourette’s Syndrome. He dealt with it the best way he could and the more I got to know him, the more I admired him. The amazing part of Misfits was how Tom and Cass accepted it as just a part of him, yet in very different ways. True to his personality, Tom wanted to protect him. Cass took the ‘head on’ approach. Jake needed and appreciated both and unwittingly brought them even closer together.

Beyond the story itself, I loved the writing. Descriptions like these made me smile…

There was a scrabbling noise at the back door. Tom wandered over and granted entrance to the lean streak of feline attitude who fought him for Cass’s affection.

There weren’t a lot of supporting characters, but the ones that were introduced were important and said a lot about the kind of characters Tom, Cass and Jake were. It was also refreshing to find a family who not only supported each other, but loved them unconditionally…

Rich rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to be diplomatic , Jake, about any of it. I don’t get to see my little brother as much as I’d like, but I know him, and I know when he’s happy. Cass too. No one around here is ever going to argue with that.”

*sigh* So yeah, menage’s aren’t my ‘go-to’ when it comes to romance, but I’m definitely glad that I took a chance on Misfits. It’s one of those books that proves without a shadow of doubt that love is love and if you’re lucky enough to find it, don’t question it. Don’t deny it, or run from it. Just hold on to it as tightly as you can.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Willing Hands (Wild R Farm #5) by Silvia Violet

WillingHandsWill has a temper as wild as the bear he holds inside. Normally he’s an easy-going, caring guy, but if someone crosses him, he uses his claws and shifter strength to set them straight. His temper ruined his chance at the career he wanted, but now he’s working at Wild R Farm, enjoying the camaraderie and longing for more with one special man.

No one at the farm knows much about Ryan. He’s done time in prison and he carries scars that tell of something horrible in his past. When he gifts Will with one of his rare smiles, Will decides to do whatever it takes to get him to smile more often. Will is used to being a protector, and even when he learns Ryan’s dark secrets, he refuses to turn away. What he doesn’t realize is that he needs Ryan’s quiet strength as much as Ryan needs someone to show they care. Ryan’s past threatens to send him running, but Will and the rest of the crew of Wild R prove that no matter the danger, they take care of their own.

This one was sweet. Ryan didn’t stand a chance when Will and the other members of the Wild R crew took him under their collective wing. That’s pretty much what I love most about this series.

I’m a big believer in second chances. That’s exactly what Cole offers pretty much everyone who works at the Wild R whether they’re shifter or human. Not one person there, including Cole himself, doesn’t have something in their past that they wish they could change. It didn’t matter that no one really knew Ryan’s story, they just knew he was broken. They saw him for the person he had become, not the person he was. When his story was finally revealed, it broke my heart. Turns out, the only person really judging Ryan was himself.

It wasn’t just Ryan in Willing Hands that had a past to overcome. Will was just as hard on himself as Ryan was. They were a pretty unlikely couple, but it worked. I’m kind of hoping that we get to see more of them so we get to see Ryan come out of his shell with everyone at the Wild R and not just with Will.

DragonFlyRating4