Lucien (The Marchesi Family #1) by Silvia Violet – Instagram Tour Review

I never imagined the protector I longed for would be a mob boss who demanded complete control.
I shouldn’t have gone to Lucien’s office.
Once I looked into his eyes, I couldn’t leave.
He commanded me to kneel.
Beg.
Obey.
I couldn’t help myself.
One taste, and I craved more.
Lucien vowed to protect me from his enemies…
But who’s going to protect my heart from him?

This review is part of the Lucien Marchesi #BookstagramTour hosted by Gay Romance Reviews. Check out my Tour post for other Instagram tour stops and chances to enter the Giveaway on Instagram.

First a disclaimer… BDSM is not my go-to when picking up a romance, but, as with other genres, there are some authors that I can’t ignore when a new book is released and Silvia Violet is one of those authors. That being said, after finishing Lucien, I have no qualms at all about continuing The Marchesi Family series.

Strangely enough, I rarely hesitate when it comes to picking up a book that features a “bad boy” and being the head of a mafia family definitely falls into that category. More often than not, even the most heartless of characters is not quite as bad as they portray themselves to be. Lucien was no exception. He was dangerous and definitely someone to be feared, but he also swore to protect those who were most important to him. Peter wasn’t sure in the beginning, but it didn’t take him long to realize that he didn’t have anything to personally fear from Lucien. That didn’t mean that trust came easy, because it didn’t. There were few people in Peter’s life that he could trust – family included.

This is most definitely not a read for everyone, so be forewarned. The author pulls no punches when it comes to either the BDSM aspect or the mafia lifestyle. Lucien will do what ever it takes to keep his “family” safe and no one is immune from his wrath when they cross him.

The Marchesi Family series will follow the family and from what I’ve heard, the next book should prove to be interesting. 

Beauty Awakened (Angels of the Dark #2 & Lords of the Underworld #9.5) by Gena Showalter

His name is Koldo. He is scarred, powerful, his control legendary-and he lives only for vengeance, determined to punish the angel who viciously removed his wings. But if he yields to the forces of hatred, he will be kicked from the heavens, eternally damned.
She is his last hope. Nicola Lane was born with a defective heart, yet this fragile human shows surprising strength as demons stalk her every move, determined to end her. She is the key to Koldo’s deliverance…and his downfall. Though he fights duty, destiny and his first addictive taste of desire, his toughest battle will be the one for Nicola’s life-even if he has to sacrifice his own…

It’s been a while since I stepped into this world. Technically, Beauty Awakened is a spinoff series of the Lords of the Underworld, but since they are part of the same world and the events take place during the same time frame, I figured I might as well read them in order. Now that I’m back, I can’t wait to continue – with both series. 😉

I’m not sure which one of these characters was the most broken. Both Nicola and Koldo’s backgrounds were full of heart break. Nicola and her twin’s childhood was filled with issues centered around their health issues. Because of that and overly protective parents, they missed out on a lot of the “normal” things kids experience. Koldo’s childhood was brutal and what made it worse was that that brutality came from people who he should have been able to trust. These were two people who needed to find each other, regardless of how much they fought it.

The supporting characters were strong and some of them were going through their own drama, which I’m sure is going to continue in both series. (Which BTW is what I love most about series books.) Both Koldo and Nicola found allies that they didn’t expect. They also realized that they had family that they could depend on in ways that they never even allowed themselves to hope for.

It took them a while, but they eventually reached their HEA, but I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of them. The next book chronologically is The Darkest Craving from the LOTU series and it features Kane. Stay tuned because it won’t be long before this one ends up on my reading list. 😉

 

Hearts of Destiny (Chevalier #4) by Kay Doherty

Ean and Matthias have known they’re mates for a while, but Matthias has been unwilling to claim Ean. He believes his past and age-old secrets are too big for Ean to overcome, so instead keeps Ean away by irritating him.
Depressed and no longer able to be near the dragon-shifter, Ean leaves the pack house and, after a night of heavy drinking, makes a life-changing decision that pushes Matthias into action.
As the blood moon draws nearer, the Chevalier Pack is called before a tribunal of paranormal leaders to assess the Alpha’s rumored mysterious abilities. Matthias decides to share his secrets with a little help from Colby. And to top everything off, they face another attack by the McBane Pack, which the Chevalier decide will be the last.

Finally! I suppose that there was no better couple to end the Chevalier series with, but readers were tortured almost as much as Ean with Matthias’ denial. Almost everyone else in the pack knew it, which only made it worse.

Matthias wasn’t my favorite, but he redeemed himself in Hearts of Destiny. It wasn’t a surprise that he was keeping secrets, but once they were revealed, things became a lot clearer. If Ean hadn’t resorted to tricking Matthias, I’m sure he would have come around eventually. Ean’s ridiculous plan just made him come around a little faster – which was probably a good thing.

There were a lot of twists, turns and surprises in Hearts of Destiny. The author did an amazing job of wrapping things up and making the final book worth the wait and giving ALL the characters, not just Ean and Matthias, the HEA they deserved. Even though each book centered around a different couple in the Chevalier pack, nothing for any of them was resolved until this final story.

This series was my introduction to Kay Doherty, but I’ll be keeping my eye out for more from this author. The Chevalier series put a unique twist on shifter romance and I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for readers next. 😉

Frog by Mary Calmes

Weber Yates’s dreams of stardom are about to be reduced to a ranch hand’s job in Texas, and his one relationship is with a guy so far out of his league he might as well be on the moon. Or at least in San Francisco, where Weber stops to see him one last time before settling down to the humble, lonely life he figures a frog like him has coming.
Cyrus Benning is a successful neurosurgeon, so details are never lost on him. He spotted the prince in a broken-down bull rider’s clothing from day one. But watching Weber walk out on him keeps getting harder, and he’s not sure how much more his heart can take. Now Cyrus has one last chance to prove to Weber that it’s not Weber’s job that makes him Cyrus’s perfect man, it’s Weber himself. With the help of his sister’s newly broken family, he’s ready to show Weber that the home the man’s been searching for has always been right there, with him. Cyrus might have laid down an ultimatum once, but now it’s turned into a vow-he’s never going to let Weber out of his life again.

This book is a perfect example of how mindset comes into play when you pick up a book. I first read this book in 2016 and couldn’t really connect with it. So why did I give Frog another chance? I kept hearing a lot of positive chatter from readers and authors who adored it. So much so that I couldn’t ignore the urge to give it another try. Not only was it like I was reading a totally different book this time around – I couldn’t really remember what it was that I didn’t like about it the first time around. ❤

What drew me in this time? Weber’s connection with Cyrus’s sister’s kids. He won me over almost as fast as he won her over with his patience and the way he didn’t talk down to them. He showed them respect and taught them the same. I guess, this time around, I saw what Cyrus saw in Weber from the beginning. Weber had always seen the best in Cyrus, he just never thought he was good enough for Cyrus before.

Basically, Frog was a sweet romance between two men who had cared about each other for years, but let distance keep things casual, but not really. I wonder how many other books out there I should give a second chance to… hmmm….

The Family We Make by Dan Wingreen

Spencer Kent gave up on love a long time ago. As a twenty-eight-year-old single father with a fourteen-year-old son, Connor, he knows his appeal to the average gay man is limited, and when you factor in his low self-esteem and tendencies towards rudeness and sarcasm, it might as well be nonexistent. But that’s okay. A man is the last thing Spencer needs or wants.
Tim Ellis’s life is falling apart around him. After four years of hard work at college, he finds himself blacklisted from the career of his dreams by the professor he refused to sleep with and abandoned by the boyfriend he thought he was going to marry. Even though he was lucky enough to land a job at a bakery, he still feels like a failure.
Tim and Spencer’s first meeting is filled with turbulent misunderstanding, but Tim makes a connection with Connor through a Big Brother/Big Sister program, and both men put aside their mutual dislike for his sake. By letting go, they may help each other find their way into a life they never could have imagined.

What was my initial thought when I finished The Family We Make? “Things that would normally bug me about a character’s actions I could let slide in The Family We Make, simply because these characters were so delightfully real. ❤ ” I let this one sit for a few days before writing this review, and I still stand behind that thought.

It’s taken me a while to figure out how to approach this review. I finally decided to ignore the things that might bother some readers, just know that there are all sorts of trigger points. What I can say is that those triggers or those things that both Tim, Spencer and others did didn’t make me like them any less, they just made Tim and Spencer more human and in turn, more relatable. I’m a firm believer in forgiving people who do stupid things when they’re, well, young and stupid. I’m also aware that there are things that a lot of people (myself included) would do that may seem out of character if it involved protecting a loved one, especially a child.

As much as I loved Spencer, he did not make it easy. He was brash, sarcastic and more often than not had no filter between his brain and his mouth. His first meeting with Tim didn’t go well and would have been a total failure, if not for Connor. I loved the interactions between both Connor and Tim and Connor and Spencer. Their love and concern for Connor was the thing that brought them together, but it didn’t happen over night. They both had too much personal history to jump into anything, especially they didn’t really like each other despite their physical attraction.

There was a lot to love about The Family We Make. I adored the relationship between father and son as much as I loved the budding relationship between Tim and Connor. The slow burn between Spencer and Tim was realistic and the sense of family was strong even before the characters realized what was happening. Was it a perfect story? Of course not. There were things that could have probably been left out, but even those things drove the story where it needed to go. This was my first Dan Wingreen book, but now that he’s on my radar, I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last.

Write On Review-A-Thon 75 (April 24-26, 2020)

For once, I’m kinda, sorta caught up! I still have quite a few books that I read on a whim, but I’m slowly, but surely making progress. AND I only have a couple of review books that I need to review, so this month’s Write On Review-a-thon is more to keep me on track that to get me caught up. 😉 

A little about the Review-a-thon:

Brought to you by Reading the Paranormal and the #boutofbooks-ers facebook group. This monthly review-a-thon is a chance to get caught up on outstanding reviews. Bring your to-be-reviewed list, block out some time, write reviews. It’s that simple.

This month’s review-a-thon will run from Friday, April 24th to Sunday, April 26th. (But since most of us are stuck at home anyway, we’ve been given the go ahead to start early, if we wish… and I do…) 

You can see Kelly’s post at Reading the Paranormal

Just so I don’t feel totally overwhelmed, I’m only listing the books I’ve read for review that I need to catch up on. I’ll throw in the others that I read if I get caught up. 😉

(FYI – Anything below the horizontal line was a book that I finished after the review-a-thon started – which almost ALWAYS happens.)


Hunted (Iron Druid Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne

For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

This is one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series and I have no idea why there is such a time gap between books. Of course, I always think that as soon as I finish a book in a series I love. *sigh* I’ve been a fan of mythology since I was a young reader and the Iron Druid Chronicles brings all that back. I love the adventure, the twists and turns and the characters – both good and bad. What I don’t expect when I read a book in this series is a lot of emotion and I most certainly don’t expect there to be tears, but… well, I can’t tell you why there were tears, just that they caught me off guard. And though I adore these characters, I don’t expect them to reduce me to tears, but they did and… just be forewarned…

One of the things that I really liked about Hunted was getting to know Granueaile just a little bit better. Although they’ve been close for a while, Atticus, Granueaile and Oberon seemed even more like “family” than they have in the past books.

As much as I love Oberon and Granuaile, I have to admit that Oberon is the character that keeps me coming back. Okay, so I’m kidding (maybe just a little) but he is so much more than a dog in the Iron Druid Chronicles and if you’ve read any of these books, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s witty, ridiculous, adorable and just about the coolest dog ever written into any series. Passages like this are just one example:

I (Atticus) said to Granuaile, “We may have a faery tail.”
<Yeah! This is the kind of faery tale with children who wander off and get in trouble in the forest. Usually they die because they don’t have a wolfhound along – or parents. You ever notice the rampant child neglect going on in faery tales?>
“No, Oberon, I said we might have a faery tail, as in a faery who is tailing us.”
My hound whined. <English is stupid sometimes.>

I mean really, he has a point, doesn’t he? 😀

Hunted is book 6 in the series, which means I only have 3 books to go before I reach the finale. Next is Shattered, which I happen to have two copies of. (Don’t ask… when you read as much as I do, it’s hard to keep track.) Maybe I’ll find a way to share that one with a lucky reader. 😉

 

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.
So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.
Magic – it can get a guy killed.

Like others, I started with the Dresden Files TV series – WAY after it originally aired – BEFORE I realized it was that Dresden Files (because of course I had heard of it, I just didn’t connect them because sometimes I am totally oblivious). Once I devoured the TV series and realized it was based on the book series, the next logical step was to pick up the first book, so here I am. On a side note, I started watching the series before I realized that there was only one season. *sigh* And I also realized that if I had watched the Dresden Files first I may have liked Paul Blackthorne’s character in the Arrow a little bit more, but maybe not.

There are times when I can definitely say that I like the book version better than the movie, or in this case, the TV version. There are other times when I can separate the two and admit that they both have their merits. This is one of those times. There were things that I enjoyed in the series, that wasn’t included in the book and there were things in the book that I really liked that wasn’t included in the TV series. I really wish that there were more episodes in the TV series, but now I have countless books that I need to catch up on. (20 years worth, evidently – YIKES!)

To be honest, The Dresden Files seems to include everything I love about a good Urban Fantasy. A snarky hero who has enough of a hard edge to keep things interesting, enough danger and suspense to keep the pages turning, a unique magical world and good supporting characters.

As I said, I have a lot of catching up to do and Storm Front is just the beginning. Fool Moon is next and I can’t wait to follow Harry Dresden on his next case.

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.
And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any books in this world… well, actually it’s been a couple of months since I read The Chosen, but I had a LONG BDB dry spell before then. *sigh* I’ve also had this book for what seems like forever and it was one of the first that I picked up once I realized how long it had been since I had read a physical book. Now I make it a habit to read at least one book off of my actual shelves along with whatever I’m currently reading on my Kindle, but that’s another story.

Blood Kiss is the first book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Legacy series and I love the concept. Along with new recruits, each book in this series revolves around a couple from the Brotherhood. This one revisits one of my favorite couples, Butch and Marissa. ❤

Paradise doesn’t take the easy way of rebelling against the aristocratic way of life. The initiation into the BDB’s program is NOT for the faint of heart. The only way that she thinks this will work is if she’s not recognized as an aristocrat to the rest of the recruits. Which is the only reason that she has a chance with Craeg. He has a good reason not to trust anyone with Paradise’s background. He may not be what her father would expect or want for his daughter, but he’s proven more than once that he’s a male of worth, which is all that matters to her.

As for Marissa and Butch? They’re suffering for a lack of communication and a need to protect each other. Nothing new, but it was great spending some time with them, even under stress. They both still had baggage from their past that they needed to unravel, they just needed to figure out that it was easier to do that together, rather than apart.

Although this series isn’t technically part of the main series, events overlap, so J.R. Ward has a reading order to follow. (Which I’ve already screwed up, BTW) You can find it on her website, if you want.  I’m going to make a valiant attempt to follow it from now on… maybe?

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