Innocent Prey (Brown & de Luca #3) by Maggie Shayne

InnocentPreyTo save innocent lives, they’ll have to risk their own.

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge’s daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it’s connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel’s assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there’s no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he’ll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel’s uncanny capacity to see through people’s lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Brown & de Luca is quickly turning into one of my favorite suspense series. There’s just so much to love. Rachel de Luca is not what you would expect from a self-help guru, especially when she doesn’t believe the crap she dishes out…. or does she? Mason Brown is a good cop that did a very bad thing for the right reasons…. together these two are perfect. I love the bantering between the two of them. The self doubt that they both harbor and the total devotion that they have toward each other, even though they don’t want to reveal it. At least not quite yet. Yeah, I’m kinda sorta in love with these two.

Innocent Prey brought Rachel to a new realization. Her ‘power’ wasn’t a fluke and it wasn’t isolated. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t started the series yet, so I can’t say too much more. This series isn’t necessarily paranormal, but it does have a paranormal aspect. Her take on the whole thing was hilarious and she had me cracking up more than once. (Her label for what she is – or isn’t – so fits this character’s personality.) That was a nice diversion because a lot of not so funny stuff took place in this book. Kidnapping, murder, political cover-ups and more. This series is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I can honestly say that even though I had an idea early in this book about who some of the bad guys might be, I was still taken by surprise. The story was woven around several characters and even if you figure out who, the why is still a little blurry… and then things twist back around.

I’ve loved every single book in this series so far, but this one is my favorite. The supporting characters are getting even more developed, the romance between Rachel and Mason is heating up (even though I thought that Rachel was going to blow it… she’s now forgiven…. almost) and the story arc is becoming more intense. Innocent Prey had me on the edge of my seat, yelling at the characters (and the author) more than once, laughing and in tears. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these characters next.


Father Found (Daddy School #1) by Judith Arnold

FatherFoundJamie McCoy is the ultimate guy: thirty years old, carefree and professionally successful as the writer of a nationally syndicated humor column called “Guy Stuff.” Nine and a half months ago, he spent a week basking on the beach in Eluthera and indulging in a fling with a woman at the resort. Never did he expect to find the unplanned result of that fling—a healthy, wailing baby named Samantha—strapped into a car seat on his back porch, along with a suitcase full of diapers and infant apparel and a note informing Jamie that he’s her father.

Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. But first things first. He’s never fed a baby or changed a diaper in his life. He doesn’t own a crib or a stroller. In a panic, he phones the nearest hospital, where neonatal nurse Allison Winslow takes his call and tells him about a class she teaches called the Daddy School. 

Classes on how to be a dad are exactly what Jamie needs. But when he attends his first class and sees the tall, earnest, amazingly beautiful and even more amazingly competent Allison, he realizes that he might just need more from her than her lectures on how to hold a baby.

Jamie’s efforts to be a father to this precious baby touch Allison. His sense of humor amuses her. His striking good looks turn her on. But how can she trust the sort of guy who’d sleep with a stranger on vacation, without giving a thought to the consequences? How can she give her heart to such a reckless man?

I am not a reader who follows the crowd. I’m not a reader who is swayed by anyone’s opinion of a book. Yes, I have my trusted bloggers and readers that I depend on from time to time for reading recommendations, but I don’t always agree with them either. My taste is eclectic. Not only that, but I’m a very patient reader. I’ll give just about any book I pick up a fighting chance. Father Found was a book that I came very close to giving up on and that just makes me sad.

This is the first book written by Judith Arnold that I’ve read. I really liked her voice. It was easy to read, the characters were well developed and the story was good. So what made me almost give up on this book? I can sum it up in one word…. Allison. If you read any of the other reviews on this book you will see a theme. I swear I was not swayed by any of them. I just happen to share the same opinion. Allison just wasn’t a likable character. I can understand her having an opinion about Jamie’s character in the very beginning, but she never really lost that opinion of him. It got so bad that I got frustrated with Jamie because both he and Samantha deserved so much better. It’s hard to read and get into a romance when you’re routing for anyone else except for the ‘girl’ to get the ‘guy.’

Since this is the first book in the series, it was free and I actually liked the rest of the characters as well as the author’s writing style, I haven’t given up on the series. Who knows, Allison might redeem herself later in the series.


Shadow Burns (Preternatural Affairs #4) by S.M. Reine

ShadowBurnsWhen more than a dozen people die at a retirement home, the official story is carbon monoxide poisoning. Cèsar Hawke is convinced the reason is less mundane and more infernal. But that’s his job. As an agent working for the Office of Preternatural Affairs, he’s always looking for supernatural answers to deadly questions.

Isobel Stonecrow agrees to help him find the truth. With her powers of necrocognition, she can speak to the dead and get the real story.

But when they return to the crime scene, they find a lot more than cadavers. They find a nightmare that they can’t escape—a nightmare from Isobel’s past, which even she can’t completely remember thanks to the contract that signed away her soul.

Cèsar will have to disinter Isobel’s secrets to save her. He’ll learn who Isobel used to be, what she’s done, and the price she paid…no matter how deadly the knowledge might be.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, if it’s a book written by S.M. Reine it is automatically added to my TBR list. I anxiously await each new release and fill in the short lapses in between (she writes really, really fast) with books from her back list. She hasn’t introduced me to one of her characters that I haven’t liked… at least the ones that I’m supposed to like and some of them were ones that I didn’t like to begin with… well, you get the picture. The point of this little intro is that if I had to pick a favorite character of the many she has written, Cèsar would be at the top of that list. I’ve loved him since Witch Hunt, the very first book in this series. His ‘voice’ is so different than any of Reine’s other characters. I love his wit and his sarcasm. How can you not be entertained by inner dialogue like this?

Pops used to take my siblings and me to a corn maze every Halloween. The biggest damn corn maze that you can imagine. It had been so labyrinthine that the Minotaur would have gotten lost in it. Pops thought it was funny to drop us in there and let us try to figure it out on our own, while he drank with the farm’s owner. It pissed me off at the time, but now I understood it was good parenting. What else do you do with three unruly kids on a Halloween sugar high? Throw ‘em in a maze and go drink hard cider until they’re exhausted.

Yeah, I kinda love Cèsar, but there’s a lot more to love in the Preternatural Affairs series than just one character. He’s surrounded by smart, witty, secretive and mysterious characters. Fritz is full of surprises, Suzi is brutally honest and Isobel… well we learned a lot about her in Shadow Burns too.

There were so many twists, turns and revelations in this one that I can’t really say a whole lot. Just when I thought I had things figured out, it turns out I really didn’t. Just when I thought I certain of a  character’s loyalty, I was disappointed in them. Then, chapters later, I felt like I had to forgive them for my lack of trust. I love that about this author. She pulls no punches, doesn’t sugar coat a thing and isn’t afraid to pull the rug out from underneath anyone. She’s got the ‘evil author’ thing down to a science.

Once again, if you haven’t picked up at least one book by this author, do it now. There are several books in her early series that are FREE so you’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. You don’t have to just take my word for it though. Below you can find a couple of bloggers/reviewers who also give S.M. Reine a high recommendation. Enjoy!

 Witch Hunt Review by Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal

Six Moon Summer Review by Tina Ryan on GoodReads

Death’s Hand Review by @ A Book Vacation

New Moon Summer Review by Sarah-Fae Graham on GoodReads


The Truth About Riley by Henrietta Clarke

TruthAboutRileyRiley Aylworth’s life has been completely devoid of intimate contact since a fire three years ago left him with horrific facial scarring, so when he finds an ad for a phone sex service, he decides to give it a call. Except that the number is not a phone sex service—it’s the revenge Cameron Kirkwood’s ex-boyfriend took on the uptight advertising executive after Cam forgot their anniversary and accidentally put him in the hospital. Needless to say, after thirty-nine disturbing calls seeking phone sex, Cameron is at the end of his tether and yells at his fortieth caller. What he doesn’t expect is for Riley to hit redial and yell right back.

The argument helps both Cameron and Riley vent about their issues, and when they’ve calmed down, they decide to exchange numbers and talk again. From this decision springs a friendship that, over time, grows into a gentle romance—all over the phone, because Riley is too scared to meet Cam in person. Showing a potential boyfriend his disfigured face is the fastest way to get rejected, right? Even a month of scorching hot phone sex can’t change his mind, no matter how hard Cam tries to persuade him that with their phone chemistry, the sex would be so much better in person.

Meanwhile, Cam is haunted by the scarred blond he seems to be seeing everywhere, and Riley can’t get the handsome brunet who always seems happy to see him out of his mind. It’s a shock to both men to realise that the guy they’re falling for over the phone is also the man who brightens their day with just a smile; but it’s one thing to let a stranger smile at you and quite another to let him close enough to see into your soul. If Riley can’t break down the walls in his mind and believe that Cameron loves him in spite of his scars, their relationship may be doomed before they’ve even had a chance to kiss.

This is another one that falls into the 4 1/2 – 5 star category. For the record, if a book makes me feel… pretty much anything, it’s earned itself at least 4 stars. If it makes me cry, not just a sniffle, but full on tears, it’s pretty much guaranteed a high rating. That’s not the only criteria that causes me to rank a book higher than most, but it’s definitely a deal breaker. The thing about The Truth About Riley is that the tears weren’t caused by the character I expected.

Riley was so broken, yet he was stronger than he realized. I admired that strength. I understood his reluctance to put his heart on the line though. He cared about his friendship with Cam too much to risk it. The fact that he didn’t hide totally and didn’t stay a total recluse when the alternative would have been much easier is where my admiration came from.

I absolutely loved Cam. Not that I didn’t love Riley too, but his feelings and acceptance toward Riley were what made me fall in love with him. He was just a little bit broken himself. He accepted it and moved on… kind of. He didn’t realize how much he was missing until he got a taste of what he could have had.

This romance was layered. The characters didn’t actually meet face to face until the last part of the book. That was okay though. It not only gave them a chance to get to know each other, it also gave the reader time to really get to know not just them, but the supporting characters. Those characters weren’t just filler, they added a whole other dimension to the story. All of them. From Cam’s quirky, nosey co-workers to Riley’s friends and family. I loved them all. If I had to pick a favorite though it would be Riley’s mom. She was amazing and, for the record, that’s where the tears came from. *sigh*

This story’s progression was unique, the characters were fun and well developed and the romance was sweet. I know that the next book in the series is currently in the works and I can’t wait to see more of Cam and Riley and the rest of these characters that I’m eager to get to know just a little bit better. 😉


Unbreakable (The Legion #1) by Kami Garcia

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableI never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Kami Garcia is half of the Garcia/Stohl duo that created the Caster Chronicles and Dangerous Creatures worlds. Even though I’ve only read the first book in both of these series (Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures) I’ve now become a fan of this duo, whether they are writing together or independently.

I liked Kennedy. She grew up not knowing anything about the world of ghosts and demons, magic and pure evil. She did know loss though, even before her mother’s death. She also wasn’t quite normal, but she fit in the best she could regardless. The moment that Lukas and Jared walked into her shattered world, nothing would ever be the same…. for any of them.

Her rescue introduced the rest of the Legion. I’m not sure which one of the crew I liked more. I think Priest may have been my favorite, but with each scene each one of them revealed a hidden part of themselves that made me like them even more. Their stories were heartbreaking. In a way I could totally understand why Kennedy’s mom had kept the world that Priest, Alara, Lukas and Jared had grown up in hidden from her. The trust that bonded these kids together came from that past, but it grew with each dangerous task that they had to complete.

The story was fast paced and the mystery kept the pages turning. The 300+ pages went by way too fast. Before I knew it, the story was over and the end…. Yikes! My short review as soon as I finished was ‘I want Unmarked now!’ and that wasn’t an exaggeration. There’s a lot left unknown and the fate of everyone is left hanging. It’s a good thing that readers only have a couple of weeks to wait as of the date of this post.

I supposed for those who are totally turned off by love-triangles, I should mention that Unbreakable does contain one. They aren’t usually a deal breaker for me, so this one didn’t bother me. Maybe because I felt like there was never any doubt who would win Kennedy’s heart. It might have also been because I saw it more as left over animosity between the boys than ‘who’s going to get the girl.’ That’s just my opinion though, so consider yourself warned. 🙂



Anchored: A Belonging Novel (Belonging #1) by Rachel Haimowitz

AnchoredNetwork news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company that’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him privately on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits. 

Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason someone would pay so much for what little free time he has. But dark memories of past sexual service leave him certain he won’t survive it again with his sanity intact. 

He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him when it comes to ordering Daniel into his bed. Carl can’t seem to take what he must want, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, affection just might flourish over fear and pain. Carl holds the power to be an anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, but if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up the weight that sinks his slave for good. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I knew that Anchored was going to be a tough read before I even started it. In fact, I avoided requesting the ARC for just that reason. I skimmed over the synopsis a couple of times and still shied away from it. Then the reviews started popping up and even though I didn’t really read them, I could tell that this was a book that needed to be read, so here we are. I wasn’t wrong about it being a hard book to read. What I wasn’t ready for was how powerful it would be.

Anchored is set in a world very different from the one we currently live. It’s unbalanced and beyond scary. Daniel is a slave, nothing more than property and that point is driven into him on a daily basis. He is a lesser being. The Masters believe that those beneath them have an inability to feel. They are to be used, to serve and are easily discarded and punished severely when they fail to perform to the standards that the Masters and Handlers set for them. Those punishments far out weigh the ‘crimes.’

Carl is different than most Masters. He treats his slaves almost as friends. I liked him, but I still got frustrated with him. Even though he lived as a Master he was really clueless about how cruel Daniel’s owners really were. He put Daniel in a lot of danger without even realizing he was doing it. Basically, he didn’t belong in the world that they lived in any more than Daniel did. Once he got it, his determination to change things just a little for Daniel made me like him even more.

Anchored was more than a romance…. actually in a lot of ways it was far from a romance. It was more a lesson in humanity. When today’s society thinks of slavery they fall back on history where one race was deemed to be inferior and property. In Daniel and Carl’s society a gene – that scientists couldn’t even isolate – determined whether or not you were a slave. It encompassed all races and generations of those families. There was no rising above it. No chance of freedom unless you were born a Freeman.

Daniel held a spark that touched a lot of people and made them doubt what they had gone through life just accepting. His story can’t be read without making you feel… angry, scared, heartbroken…. Anchored definitely didn’t have a HEA, but it came as close as it could get. There are things, people and circumstances that this book will make me look at in a totally different way for a very long time.

Just a little warning, those punishments are written in detail. Daniel suffered both mentally and physically and no one should go into this book lightly. 


Inferno Park by J.L. Bryan

InfernoParkCarter was only twelve when he witnessed the disaster that killed more than a hundred people at Starland Amusement Park. Five years later, Carter’s hometown is no longer a busy Florida panhandle resort, but a slowly dying town full of empty motels and attractions rusting behind chains and padlocks.

Now something evil stirs in the ruins of the old amusement park…something with an alluring siren song drawing visitors into the dark mysteries of the forbidden world behind the gate. Something with an appetite for restless, yearning souls. 

Carter reluctantly returns to the old park in the company of a new girl in town, who is obsessed with urban decay and pop-culture ruins, and discovers the evil at work. To stop it, and protect the children of the town, Carter will have to face his oldest and deepest fears.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1You know when you watch a scary movie and you yell at the stupid characters to not go in that abandoned house, not look out the window into the shadows, not to leave their safe and warm bed to see what was making that eerie noise outside? Then, when they do it anyway, you cover your eyes and hope that they aren’t going to end up dead… or worse? Yeah, I spent a lot of time mentally yelling at the characters in this book. If I could have closed my eyes I would have, but that would have made it kind of difficult to read.

It came as no surprise to me that J.L Bryan did scary well. That’s actually part of the reason why I drug my feet in finally reading Inferno Park. His vivid descriptions and his talent at making readers squirm is evident in both his dark Paranormals series and his lighter Songs of Magic series. I had no doubt that the same vivid descriptions and attention to detail would take the horror factor in Inferno Park over the top. I wasn’t disappointed.

Besides spending a lot of time trying to mentally coax characters into doing the smart thing and stay away from the creepy abandoned amusement park, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Carter was a sweet kid at 12 and had grown into an impressive teen. He was pretty level headed as well as compassionate. He could have easily given up, especially with all he had been through. He had a goal to work his way out of town and for a lot of reasons, he took it very seriously.

Victoria was great too. I think I liked her most for bringing a spark back into Carter’s life. She shook things up. I liked her outlook and the unique way she looked at things.

As for the story itself… it was intense. No, the author held nothing back. The gore, the terror and the suspense were all there. Thankfully, there were tiny breaks in the in those moments where things seemed almost normal. There were even a couple of moments that made me smile, but not a lot of them. The different POVs that were divided between most of the characters gave the story a different kind of flow. I liked it. Well, ‘like’ may not be the correct word since most of those POVs didn’t end well…. but you get the idea.

No one came out of this one totally unscathed and there was more than one moment where I wanted to read ahead just to make sure that everyone made it out alive… but I didn’t… and you shouldn’t either. If you’re looking for something scary to read with an intriguing story line, Inferno Park is perfect.


Sins & Needles (The Artists Trilogy #1) by Karina Halle

SinsAndNeedlesEllie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents’ latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1This book… yeah… well… I don’t even know where, much less how to begin. It was like standing on the sidelines watching a catastrophe about to happen and not being able to do anything about it. Without the ability to help, you know you should look away, but you just can’t help yourself from taking it all in…. yeah, Sins & Needles was a lot like that.

I’ve only read one other book by Karina Halle, but I love her style. It’s unique and gives her characters a realistic edge. I loved that edge in Darkhouse, the first book in her Experiments in Terror series. Experiencing it again in Sins & Needles has planted her firmly on my TBR list.

Ellie was not your normal heroine. She would have actually made a pretty decent bad guy (or girl) because that’s exactly what she was. Without her back story, she would have been really easy to dislike. That back story though was heartbreaking. It was so easy to see how she could have been a totally different person if…  But then readers wouldn’t have been introduced to the Ellie that was created from all that heartbreak. The more I got to know her, the more I liked her and the harder it was to watch…

And then there was Camden. He was no angel either. There were times that I both loved and hated him as well. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever read a story that kept me ping-ponging between love and hate for the main characters as much as Sins & Needles did.

To say that this book kept me on the edge of my seat would be an understatement. The connection between these two was explosive, electric, at time destructive and surprisingly beautiful. The story itself contained twists, turns, danger, revelations and ultimate choices that changed everything. And then there was the ending …. yeah, pretty much like the rest of the book. I’m both anxious and terrified to read Shooting Scars.


The Littlest Cowboy (The Texas Brand #1) by Maggie Shayne

LittlestCowboySheriff Garrett Brand has raised his entire brood of siblings single-handedly, and he’s done his best to teach them some values, to mold them into honorable, responsible, and trustworthy human beings. So when a baby lands on the doorstep of the Texas Brand, his first question is which younger brother is in for a butt-kicking? But the little fellow isn’t named after Ben, or Wes, or Adam, or Elliot. The little feller is named after him–Garrett Ethan Brand–according to the note his mama left behind. 

He’s still racking his brain to figure it all out, when a woman shows up at the ranch in the dead of night, spitting, fighting mad, and accusing Garrett of murdering her sister and stealing the baby! 

Chelsea is confused, heartbroken, and too mad to think straight, and the same trouble that found her poor sister is right on her tail. But of all the places she and the baby could’ve wound up, Garrett thinks this ranch is the best one. 

Because this is one family that knows how to pull together and trouble doesn’t stand a chance against The Brands of Texas.

I’ve been a fan of Maggie Shayne for a while, but somehow I’ve missed all her earlier work. I started reading her Portal series and since then she has found a permanent spot on my TBR list. To be honest, I didn’t even know that she had written a Cowboy Romance until this cute little cover popped up on my TL.

If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, you know that Contemporary Romance isn’t my ‘go-to’ genre, but I do enjoy a little diversion from time to time and that’s exactly what I where I would categorize The Littlest Cowboy. It was a quick read and even though it was an early Maggie Shayne selection, there were still familiar elements that pulled me in.

This one had a little bit of everything. Alpha male cowboy siblings with a snarky little sister thrown into the mix, a sweet baby, mystery, danger and a couple of twists. Maggie Shayne does have a tendency to throw her female heroines into dangerous situations that I want to yell at them for, but that keeps things interesting.

Since I’ve discovered the Texas Brand series, I thought I might as well give at least one more book in the series a try. The Littlest Cowboy was still free at the time of this post, so it’s a no risk introduction. The next book in the series is The Baddest Virgin in Texas, and given the characters that it involves, it’s sure to be a fun one.


Coyote Home (Coyote Hunger #1) by Rhian Cahill

CoyoteHungerComing home was never going to be easy for Rowan Wilder, but after six years she didn’t think it would be this hard. First she can’t control her inner coyote, then she has to deal with her mate and the madman out to get them both. Determined to take her rightful place in the pack, Rowan must face each hurdle and succeed. To fail could mean losing her life.

Quinn MacClellan is more than ready for the return of his mate and he’ll do anything to keep her safe and by his side. He couldn’t protect her years ago, but things are different now and he won’t let anything or anyone separate them again. Together they’ll confront all obstacles and ensure the future they both deserve.

Short, sweet and intense. There was no search for a HEA in this one. That had already been established. The tension in this one came from bringing Rowan back to Quinn. Actually, it was bringing Rowan back to herself as well.

There was a history behind this book and I knew that going in. The previous book, Coyote Run, was even shorter and was basically the set-up for Coyote Home. It’s probably wise to read the prequel first, but even missing the ‘why’ of Rowan’s escape, her struggle to return wasn’t hard to understand. The back story is filled in gradually so it’s pretty easy to fill in the blanks.

The story itself is fast-paced and perfect for a quick in-between or late night read. I loved the characters and even though it was just a little over 100 pages, it wasn’t lacking. It also provides the perfect set up for the next book in the series, Coyote Wild.