Blood & Thunder (THIRDS #2) by Charlie Cochet

When a series of bombs go off in a Therian youth center, injuring members of THIRDS Team Destructive Delta and causing a rift between agents Dexter J. Daley and Sloane Brodie, peace seems unattainable. Especially when a new and frightening group, the Order of Adrasteia, appears to always be a step ahead. With panic and intolerance spreading and streets becoming littered with the Order’s propaganda, hostility between Humans and Therians grows daily. Dex and Sloane, along with the rest of the team, are determined to take down the Order and restore peace, not to mention settle a personal score. But the deeper the team investigates the bombings, the more they believe there’s a more sinister motive than a desire to shed blood and spread chaos.
Discovering the frightful truth behind the Order’s intent forces Sloane to confront secrets from a past he thought he’d left behind for good, a past that could not only destroy him and his career, but also the reputation of the organization that made him all he is today. Now more than ever, Dex and Sloane need each other, and, along with trust, the strength of their bond will mean the difference between justice and all-out war.

I’m so late to the THIRDS fan train that it’s almost embarrassing to add my review to the mix. I’m still not sure why it’s taken me so long to pick up this series, but I’m hooked now, so I’m having fun playing catch up 😉

Blood & Thunder was a roller coaster. Dex and Sloane were growing closer, but there was still some emotional distance between them. Sloane’s past was a big obstacle. He thought that his secrets would destroy everything, including his relationship with Dex. Distancing himself wasn’t working. He still had no idea exactly how tenacious, stubborn and loyal Dex really was. He understood a lot more than Sloane gave him credit for.

As intense as what was going on between Sloane and Dex, the side characters in Blood & Thunder had a lot going on themselves. I loved getting glimpses into the other members of Team Destructive Delta.

Sloane and Dex still have a lot to work through and it looks like Rack & Ruin will continue their story… and the drama…

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Bones and Bourbon (Deadly Drink #1) by Dorian Graves

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.
Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?
This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

First, I’m not a “book cover” reader, but honestly, the cover on this book definitely got my attention. Enough that I took a chance on a new author. (The synopsis was a pretty good draw for me too 😉 ) I’m happy to say that this is one time that a cover definitely lived up to the book.

I had no idea what to expect from Bones and Bourbon, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the very first chapter, the mystery and action didn’t stop. Not only that, the world building was as much a part of the story as the characters involved.

Part of the reason why I’m drawn to PNR is my love of mythology and it seems that the Deadly Drink series will be full of mythological creatures and legends. The twists that Dorian Graves has added to her take on some familiar creatures was more than interesting. Blood thirsty unicorns for example.

Family is a strong force in Bones and Bourbon as well and there were times that it was hard to tell if the brothers were working for or against each other. There were twists and turns that had my head spinning, danger, mystery and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix – all of it thrown together to keep the pages turning.

It wasn’t clear from the end of Bones and Bourbon, but I was more than a little excited that this book was just the beginning of series. A series that I can’t wait to continue. I can’t wait to see what the Gallows brothers – and company – get into next.

Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.
Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I had no idea what to expect from Magic Runs Deep, but I was pleasantly surprised. One thing that you need to be aware of before you pick it up is that it’s labeled as PNR, but it’s not heavy on the romance. There is a romantic thread and a strong connection between Veier and Elrid, but the actual story is more focused on Veier and his journey.

I have to admit that Magic Runs Deep took me a little while to get into, but once I got to know Veier and Elrid, the more wrapped up in it I became. Veier did some things that he wasn’t proud of, but he did them to survive. By the time Elrid and his brother found him, he barely recognized himself. He had spent so much time under the King’s control that it was hard for him to tell right from wrong. He knew that if he wanted to gain his freedom he had to agree to the terms of the new power and most importantly to trust Elrid. Not an easy task when he had spent years controlled by magic and Elrid was a powerful mage.

Elrid kind, compassionate and patient. He saw beyond the monster that they found when they first overthrew the previous king. Veier hadn’t always been a beast who had to fight for his life and somehow Elrid recognized that.

I’ve only read one other book by Alex Whitehall and that was Second Skin, which I really liked, but it was also one of those books that was cut too short. Not only was Magic Runs Deep about twice as long, the characters were much more developed, which makes me really happy that I didn’t pass this one by.

A Destiny of Dragons (Tales of Verania #2) by T.J. Klune

Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.
Life is good.
Until it’s not.
Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.
And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.
Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.
The first book in the DESTINY FUCK YEAH! Trilogy (because sometimes, having a destiny is the stupidest thing ever).

First, if you haven’t read a book by T.J. Klune yet, you are truly missing out. Emotions run rampant in pretty much every book. Tears of laughter, tears of heartbreak, tears of joy – I don’t think I’ve read one of his books without shedding one or all of the above. And no, I’m not a gluten for punishment or a masochist. I just love books that make me feel and T.J. Klune is a pro at all the feels. ALL OF THEM! So, where does The Tales of Verania fall in that spectrum? Well, the “Merry Band of Misfits” are comprised of a gay hornless (sassy) unicorn; a dragon who is WAY too full of himself; a magician’s apprentice who has a knack for getting himself in crazy, mostly dangerous, sometimes deadly situations; a sometimes overly gallant, sword wielding  knight who would follow said magician’s assistant anywhere to attempt to keep him out of trouble; a sweet, lovable half giant who BEGS to punch anyone who poses a threat to his friends and family; and sometimes even a “jilted by the knight,” somewhat reluctant, grumbling prince. If you assumed that A Destiny of Dragons is on the silly side, you’d be half right. The thing about T.J. Klune is that even his silliest books have a depth that inevitably takes readers by surprise. Just one of the many things I love about his books, ❤

A Destiny of Dragons changes things for everyone. Secrets are revealed, connections are discovered that are a bit unsettling and some trust is torn to shreds. Sam has to come to terms with way more than he’s prepared for and spends a lot of time in denial. He avoids dealing with his “Destiny” in hopes that it will go away, but of course, that can’t happen. The only thing he does know is that he’ll do ANYTHING to keep those he loves safe but he’s afraid that isn’t possible. At least not in any way that keeps his heart intact. Then there’s the added bonus of strange alliances are made and more enemies are added to the mix. Saying that A Destiny of Dragons is a hard one to put down is an understatement.

It’s obvious from the list of characters that there is no blood involved in this make shift family, but there bond is stronger than any biological family could ever be. Even those among them who seem not to care, always come through when it counts. (Even the least likely among them.) I think that’s what I love most about this series so far – the sense of family. I have a feeling as the series continues that they’re going to need each other more than ever.

The Consumption of Magic is next, followed by the last book in The Tales of Verania, A Wish Upon the Stars. I have them both and as soon as I get up the nerve to pull on my “big girl pants” I’ll pick them up. Rumor has it that there will be more than a few tears shed. *sigh*

The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) by Charlie Adhara

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.

My initial thought when I first finished this book: I love it when a new author blows me away with the first book in what promises to be an amazing series. ❤ That pretty much sums it up! So, yeah… you probably want more, right?

It’s already been established that this book blew me away – I hate to repeat myself, but this is a new author and Charlie Adhara’s first book. I find that simply amazing because this book was so much more than I expected. Especially since the plot took readers places that I never expected and the twists and turns were intricate, but never slipped. Not every revelation was a surprise, but some of them were. Even though the plot was at times complex, this author never lost me, not once.

I loved both Cooper and Park. Even though I’m a huge fan of getting both characters’ POV, this story wouldn’t have been nearly as good if readers would have been in Park’s head as well. Cooper had a lot of reasons not to trust Park. It was no surprise that Park gained my trust a lot sooner than he gained Coopers, but… well, you’ll have to read the book and experience it for yourself. Trust me, it is so worth it.

I have to admit that what initially drew me to this book was the PNR aspect – especially since it included werewolves. The Wolf at the Door was so much more than a PNR book though. There was intrigue, mystery, danger, suspense woven right along with the romantic tension between Park and Cooper.

One thing’s for certain, I’m extremely happy that this book is part of a series. I for one can’t wait for the Big Bad Wolf to continue. 😉

Hell & High Water (THIRDS #1) by Charlie Cochet

When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.
Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Okay… wow… turns out that I’ve not only put off for an embarrassingly amount of time starting the THIRDS series, but this is also my very first Charlie Cochet read. *hangs head in shame* Never fear though, after reading Hell & High Water, I’m official hooked. I already have Blood & Thunder ready, waiting and practically cued and at least one other book on my TBR list by this author. My big question is… what in the heck took me so long?!?

Dex is… well, he’s nuts, but in a good way. He’s great at what he does and he keeps things serious when he needs to, but he definitely marches to his own personal crazy drummer. Sloane… doesn’t. The team that Dex is assigned to has been through a lot and they don’t want anyone new joining their team, especially not someone that is brought in to take their fallen team member’s place. Dex has huge combat boots to fill and he knows that he has his work cut out for him. He also has no intention of giving up, regardless of the odds against him.

Hell & High Water started this series with a bang and the tension between Dex and his partner and the rest of the team didn’t slow down. Add to that the action and mystery about what really happened to Sloane’s previous partner kept the pages turning. I can’t wait to see what happens next and luckily there are quite a few books in this series to keep me reading for a while. 😉

Shiver (Texas Paranormals #2) by Christi Snow

A year ago Corey Abbott’s life entered the realm of the bizarre when he discovered the things that go bump in the night are real. But working for the local vampire council didn’t prepare him for were-deer shifters.
Nine months ago Dare Buckley’s herd abandoned him. Now, he’s slowly going mad from Lyme disease…something that doesn’t hurt normal deer, but for were-deer is fatal.
On one snowy, sleet-filled night, the two collided…literally.
This Christmas two men find love in the most unexpected place…a lonely, desolate highway.
It’s definitely not your typical meet-cute, but it’s a twist of fate that would even make Santa happy.

Short, but not too short. Sweet, but not sappy. A little bit of magic, more than a little heat. Shiver was the perfect holiday PNR read. Just enough to make me want more 😉

Corey was a little broken after his less than subtle introduction to the paranormal world. He loved his new job that pulled him even deeper into the world he knew nothing about a year ago. There was still something missing though. He didn’t expect to find it after hitting a deer on a snowy night, but that’s exactly what happened when he literally ran into Dare.

Dare was alone and sick and destined to stay that way. There was something about Corey that changed that though. He was drawn to him almost as soon as he saw him, but giving into that attraction would doom Corey to the same fate.

A lot happened in Shiver in a short amount of time, but it really didn’t feel rushed. I liked the little twists the author’s spin on her paranormal world. I also enjoyed catching up with Zack and Nash, even if it was a brief encounter.

I read the first book (Smolder) in Christi Snow’s Texas Paranormals series as part of the Children of the Night anthology. Corey was introduced in the first book, but you could easily read Shiver as a stand alone. Smolder does set up the world for Texas Paranormals though, plus it features a couple of pretty steamy vampires 😉 It’s also good to know that there is hope for more books in the series if there’s enough interest. So, no pressure or anything, but if you happen to read this one and like it, be sure to let the author know because I kinda sorta want this series to continue for a while 😉

Children of the Night – A Rainbow Railroad Anthology

Children of the Night is an anthology of M/M themed Vampire stories written by 4 separate authors. All proceeds benefit the Rainbow Railroad, which you can find out more about by following the link.
I’ve personally only read books by one of the authors in this anthology, but even so, I read them all. Below each description, you’ll find my individual reviews and ratings.

Wishing and Hoping by Tinnean
It’s finally the day of Ioan’s eighteenth birthday, and all that he’s been waiting for will finally be his—including the love of the man he’s secretly been in love with all these years. Everything is perfect. Until the love of his life shows up to his birthday party with a wife.

I really liked the premise of this one, but I kind of got lost in the writer’s style. There was nothing really bad about it, but it didn’t have the kind of flow that I’m used to. Beyond that, I loved getting to know Ioan, his family and the true love of his life. ❤

Lamb to the Slaughter by Joanna Chambers
There is very little Lucien enjoys more than the hunt of young men: beautiful, innocent, eager to learn all that a mature man like Lucien might be able to teach them…

Oh, this was a good one – and that’s pretty much all I’m going to say because anything else would give the story away. Enjoy!

Smolder by Christi Snow
All Zack wants is to be left alone. When Marissa, his boss, calls with orders that he take care of a new vampire in her area because she can’t, he’s absolutely certain this assignment is going to go any way but well.

Smolder was one of my favorites in the Children of the Night anthology. I’ve read pretty much everything that Christi Snow has written and she hasn’t disappointed me yet. From contemporary to paranormal, her witty, somewhat broken characters always draw me in and few are quite as broken as Zack. The only complaint that I have about Smolder was that it wasn’t quite long enough. I’d love more of Zack and Nash.

Lilac and Leather by Maris Black
Halloween night, and Matt would prefer to be anywhere but in an over-crowded club, especially when an old lover shows up, and he finally has to admit he’s gay. But the night takes a turn for the strange—and hot—when he meets the beautiful, mysterious Nicky…

I really liked Lilac and Leather, but I wish it would have been just a little bit longer. The story had a neat little twist, but I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say much more. There were just a lot of loose ends at the end that I really, really, really wanted tied up. So many questions! So many…. 

Stone Cold (SoulShares #8) by Rory Ni Coileain

Maelduin Guaire is a Fae with a mission. An obsession, really. He’s trained his entire life to become the greatest scian-damhsa, blade-dancer, the Fae have ever known, for the sole purpose of killing the blade-dancer who murdered his father and gave House Guaire its reputation as the Cursed House. Now he’s followed Tiernan Guaire through the Pattern to the human world, to fulfill his oath or die trying… but the passage has cost him all his skill with a blade.
Terry Miller, Josh LaFontaine’s business partner at the Raging Art-on Tattoo and Piercing Parlor, has the worst luck with men since… well, since ever, as far as he’s concerned. Years ago, he walked out on a great thing with Josh, when Bryce Newhouse offered to play sugar daddy for Terry’s ballet company; then Bryce kicked him to the curb, and Terry ended up relying on big-hearted Josh to help him get back on his feet. And now a too-good-to-be-true stranger has turned up in Terry’s half-built dance studio, with a beautiful sword and a bloody nose.
In order to regain the grace and skill he needs to keep his vow, a Fae cursed with the inability to love must SoulShare with a human convinced that love runs screaming when it sees him coming. All with the Marfach looking over their shoulders. No pressure.

Okay, so it took me a while to get into Stone Cold, but once it grabbed me, it didn’t let go. I didn’t have this issue with the first 5 books in the series, but it’s been a while since I’ve read any of the books in this series (I read Blowing Smoke in 2015.) Also, I inadvertently skipped Mantled In Mist (#6) and Undertow (#7) so I’m pretty sure both contributed to the slow start. Sometimes you can fall effortlessly back into a series after a break, but so much happens in the SoulShares series and what affects one pair seems to affect them all and not knowing all the characters made things just a little confusing. Lesson learned. 😉

Once I caught up, I couldn’t put Stone Cold down. Terry’s a character that’s been around for a while in the SoulShares series and finding his SoulShare was long overdue. Both Maelduin and Terry had their reasons for fighting the pull that they felt toward each other. Maelduin was cursed to never love and Terry was unlucky in love. He either picked the wrong person or pushed the right ones away. Things are never quite what they seem in this world of magic.

The Marfach was as gruesome as ever and magic was running rampant – and not always in a good way. As I said, a lot happened in Stone Cold and evidently a lot happened in the books I missed. I’m definitely going to have to go back and read those two books before the next one is released. Stay tuned!

Bad Boy’s Bard (Fae Out of Water #3) by E.J. Russell

As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.
Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.
Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.

I’ve really liked this series, but I’ve gotta admit, out of all the brothers, Gareth was my least favorite. It was pretty much inevitable that he would be the last brother of the three to find his soul mate… or find him again.

To be honest, even when Niall and Gareth ‘found’ each other, I still wasn’t a fan. They did eventually grow on me, but it took a while. I wasn’t impressed with Niall’s decision to fake amnesia – being honest would have saved a lot of heartache. They both ended up doing things that I didn’t like, but to be fair, I think my opinion may have been colored a tad bit by my love of David, Bryce, Alun & Mal.

There was bitterness, deceit, heartbreak and eventually healing, but, as I said, it took a while to get there. The journey to their HEA was full of twists and turns and some heated moments. In the end, both Gareth and Niall ended up redeeming themselves and I ended up liking them both. If I’m totally honest though, David and Alun (Cutie & the Beast) are still my favorite. ❤ Since all the brothers have come full circle, I’m fairly certain that Bad Boy’s Bard is the final book in the series. I won’t complain though if E.J. Russell decides to revisit this world in the future. 😉