Risk Aware (Saugatuck) by Amelia C. Gormley

RiskAware_600x900Tattoo artist Geoff Gilchrest is convinced his life is some sort of cosmic joke. Why else would a hemophiliac also be a masochist? He’s given himself more than one elbow bleed since puberty just doing what guys do when alone and bored, so forget about whips and chains. How many partners would contemplate playing with someone even a mild flogging could kill? 
Gallery owner Robin Brady knows he can deliver what Geoff needs: to be taken to the edge of danger but never beyond. But Robin came to Saugatuck to get away from the leather scene and heal from a betrayal by his former sub, so he’s not sure he should get involved with Geoff. His ambivalence isn’t helped by the fact that Geoff’s unwillingness to communicate about his well-being hits Robin in some very raw places.
Geoff’s hemophilia isn’t the obstacle he thinks it is. Instead, a lack of trust—on both their parts—is what could end them before they have a chance to begin.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1My mini pre-review on Goodreads went something like this… “Finally! An author who writes a series in the crazy mixed up way I usually read them!” If you look through my previous reviews, you probably won’t have to go back very far to see that I’m notorious for reading books out of order in a series. I don’t do it on purpose… most of the time. Sometimes a book catches my eye and I request it for review or pick it up without actually knowing that it’s a book that falls later in an existing series. I actually did this with the Saugatauk series. I read Saugatuck Summer before the prequel to the series, The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams. Even though Risk Aware isn’t listed as a part of this series, it definitely is, at least in my mind. Not only that, the timeline of this book falls before Saugatuck Summer because in that book both Geoff and Robin are already a couple. Now, of course I’m going to have to go back and re-read Saugatuck Summer… sneaky author. (But one I can totally relate to 😉 )

Risk Aware took the BDSM lifestyle to a totally unique level. Because of Geoff’s condition, he knew he could never have what he craved. Robin knew he could give him what he wanted, but not without Geoff’s trust that he wouldn’t go too far as well as Robin’s trust that Geoff would be totally honest with him about his condition. They were walking both a physical and emotional tight rope.

I’m not sure which one of this pair I felt for most. Geoff had his reasons for keeping things to himself. His mom kept him in a bubble – or tried to. He longed for normal. Robin had been burned by his former sub and couldn’t put himself in that position again, but he knew he could help Geoff. They had more than a few obstacles and almost lost it all… Throw in people jumping to the wrong conclusions – regardless of how well meaning they were –  and things became even more complicated.

I have to admit that I almost passed this one up because BDSM books aren’t my normal go-to. I’m really glad that I took a chance Risk Aware though. The life-style is a major part of the book, but the way the characters learn to trust and work through the obstacles that they’re faced with made it so much more than that. It also made me realize that I need to search out more books by Amelia C. Gormley.

DragonFlyRating4

 

Where There’s a Will (Panopolis #3) by Cari Z

WhereTheresAWillBeing a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.
Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to puts a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest villains to undermine GenCorp—my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.
I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions—not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams—but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.
Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.
 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Freight Train (Craig) since the beginning of the Panopolis series. The world that Cari Z created for her characters is twisted. A world where heroes aren’t always the good guys and villains aren’t always the bad. Craig has slowly proven himself to be one of the exceptions in the hero category and getting inside his head in Where There’s a Will confirmed it.

This is the third book in the series and the first where Raul and Edward weren’t the main characters. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that, but it didn’t take long for Craig to win me over. On the surface, he was someone who had it all, but he did a pretty good job of hiding how broken and alone he really was. He didn’t really trust the people he depended on. His only remaining family member seemed to care more about herself than him and he was risking his life by putting his trust in people he was supposed to be fighting against. Add to that the fact that he couldn’t touch anyone and they couldn’t touch him. He couldn’t even eat food and was dependent on GenCorp for pretty much everything keeping him going.

Dr. Mansourian is different from the other doctors who poke and prod at Craig when he goes to GenCorp. There’s something about him that draws Craig in, but it’s also obvious that he’s hiding something. Craig has secrets of his own and keeping Dr. Mansourian close may not be smart, but he’s the only person besides Edward who acts as if he truly cares about the man behind the hero. As things heat up in the war that’s escalating, Craig finds himself in more danger than he ever expected. People are shutting him out and the lines between who he should and shouldn’t trust get blurrier by the minute.

As usual, the message behind this story is as intriguing as the story itself. I can’t wait to see what Cari Z has in store for the residents of Panopolis next.

DragonFlyRating4

The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil #3) by Cornelia Grey

DealWithTheDevilThomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.
Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.
The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1It’s been a while since I’ve read a Steampunk book and even though it takes me a little longer to get into them than normal (at least for me) I forgot how much I liked this genre.

There’s a couple of things that should probably be pointed out about The Empty Hourglass. First, even though I numbered it as the third book in the Deal with a Devil series, you can read any of the books in any order. This just happens to be the third book written in the series. I’ve enjoyed all the books so far, but I have to admit that I enjoyed Devil at the Crossroads and Circus of the Damned a little bit more. The other thing I need to mention is that even though this is listed as a romance, everything was behind closed doors. That’s honestly not a complaint… just an observation.

The Empty Hourglass was also different from the other books in this series because the story was told from Thomas’ POV and he wasn’t the one who owed his soul to the Devil. For me, that was kind of a neat twist, but I still would have like to have been in Jethro’s head just a little, because honestly, throughout most of this book he was a really hard character to like.

So, basically I really liked the Steampunk aspect of this story and I had a semi love/hate relationship with the characters. Not sure that Jethro really deserved Thomas, but I love how it worked out for them in the end.

DragonFlyGreen3-5

The Rain (Pendragon Chronicles #1) by Amos Cassidy

RainCoverUpdateWhat do you do when you lose what you love the most? What do you do when every breath is agony?
Jake has lost the love of his life. Desperate for a fresh start, he moves to Longbrooke – a small British coastal town. The people are friendly, the town is quaint and Jake finally feels as if he could start anew. Then The Rain falls – an ancient weapon that only Jake can manipulate – and Jake is thrust into a world where Myth and Legend are reality and his bloodline the only possible saviour of mankind.
The rebirth of The Rain is a beacon to all that is sinister and as Jake meets his first challenge, he must quickly learn to master the weapon inside him or risk losing his new found friends. Will he succeed before it’s too late or will the deadly threat accomplish its lethal goal?
What do you do when your actions determine the fate of those nearest and dearest? What do you do when there is nothing on the horizon but uncertainty?
You lift up your chin and you fight back with everything you’ve got and hope – no, pray – for the best. If all else fails, sic your dragon on the bad guys.

Destinies aren’t written, they’re forged, and Jake Winters is about to get a 101 in forging.
A quaint British coastal town hiding ancient secrets, a heavenly weapon that claims a host, a dragon’s egg that has a tale to tell – Jake Winters is the line that connects all the dots.
But Jake has much to learn, and very little time, because a serial killer is on the loose, a monster with the face of a fashion model, and it’ll take Jake’s special brand of intervention to stop him…

I can’t believe how many ‘that didn’t just happen’ moments were packed into this book.

For the record, this is the third time I’ve read The Rain and that statement above still holds true. Not that I needed a reason to reread the book, but I needed to refresh my memory (it’s been over a year since my last reading) before the next book in the series (Lost Souls) was released and there were a few updates made since its original release, not the least of which was a brand new cover. As a side note, I love both covers and there are things about each version that I like… no major changes to the plot or characters, so the rest of my review pretty much stands as is…

Confession time… (I do that a lot, don’t I?) I got my hands on The Rain about a month before its release. I had been meaning to read a book by Amos Cassidy for a while and when I saw this book I couldn’t resist signing up for the tour. Reading the book wasn’t part of my stop on the tour, but being the conscientious reader/review that I am I had to know if what I was promoting was good, right? And honestly, after reading that synopsis and looking at the awesome and unique cover, how could I NOT want to read it? So, how did I like The Rain? Let’s put it this way. Even though I received an ARC – with no strings attached – I still purchased the book as soon as it was released. I rarely do that folks…. this book was that good. Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the review….

Just a little warning… the first chapter is… well… it hurts. I know, that seems a little dramatic, but there’s no easy or better way to put it. Reading it the second time wasn’t any less painful than the first. It’s necessary though. Readers aren’t left with any doubt of what Jake lost and where he was emotionally when he moved to Longbrooke. It was a rough way to get to know him as a character, but it definitely made me sympathize with him in a very real way. *sigh*

Longbrooke and its residents were a huge reason why I loved The Rain – and I loved them all – well at least the ones that weren’t evil. Greg was the first person that Jake really interacted with and he was one of my favorites. His sense of humor and loyalty were  exactly what Jake needed. Ivy was almost a force of nature and I loved the way Jake reacted to her. They all added an extra layer to the story and they each played a very important role. They were well developed and had their own brand of wit and humor. (It doesn’t matter how many times I read a certain chapter *cough* 18 *cough*… I will always laugh out loud. I’ll also never look at a claw machine again and not grin as I look for a particular toy. 😉  ) Yeah, this is definitely a book that left an impression. I love it when that happens.

The characters were just one aspect of The Rain. The formatting was unique and told from several points of view – readers sometimes didn’t even know whose POV the story was coming from, but instead of being confusing, it just added to the mystery. Even the way that Jake was clued into what was really going on and the part he played in this new world he’d been thrust into was done in a unique way. (Nope, I’m not giving that away either… it’s just too good to spoil.) Jake’s flash backs were even an important part of the story. They were more than just filler. It was a great way to get to know him better and to understand exactly what it was that he lost. *sigh*

One of the other things that drew me into this story is that I have a weak spot for the legend that this The Rain centers around. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what legend that is without giving things away. I can tell you that Amos Cassidy took an age old and familiar tale and gave it a unique spin. One that I didn’t expect but thoroughly enjoyed.

TheRainThe Rain was full of surprises. It was an epic fantasy set in a quaint British town with some quirky characters. There was a touch of bitter sweet romance, plenty of action, more than a few surprises, mythological creatures, some coffee spewing laugh-out-loud moments and some jaw dropping, heart breaking, tear inducing, cringe worthy moments. (I still can’t believe some of it happened.) And then there was the ending… gah! This is one book that kept you guessing until the very end and then sucker punched you. (I’m not complaining…. just still can’t believe it.) This may have been the first book I’ve read by the Amos Cassidy writing duo, but it most certainly won’t be the last.

DragonFlyRating5

 

Champagne Kisses by Lynda Aicher

ChampagneKisses_600x900The Christmas Eve wedding Evan Cleary pulled together in four weeks is crashing down around him and taking his fledgling event planning business with it. With an empty altar and over a hundred guests arriving soon, he turns to the resistant, gorgeous brother of the runaway groom for help.
When Richard Patterson’s flamboyant brother storms out hours before he’s scheduled to marry his equally dramatic partner, Richard is left dealing with the fallout. The last thing he wants is more drama, yet he can’t deny his attraction to the effeminate event planner trying to salvage the wedding.
Evan thinks his crush on Richard is a lost cause, but one steaming kiss later, he learns different. What starts as a night of hot sex turns into a connection neither expected. But Evan knows their relationship is hopeless unless the ultra-conservative Richard can embrace every part of him—both in private and in public.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’m not sure what I expected, but this was one of the sweetest Holiday reads I picked up this year.

Richard was sure that Evan wasn’t the guy for him and Evan was sure that his crush on Richard was as far as things would go. They both got more than they bargained for in Champagne Kisses. As short as this one was (just over 80 pages) it wasn’t lacking. Considering the whole story takes place in about 24 hours, that’s saying a lot. This may have been the first book by Lynda Aicher that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Where There’s Fire (Panopolis #2) by Cari Z

WhereTheresFireMaking a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.
I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.
It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I almost passed up this series. From the descriptions, I thought it was a little too ‘comic bookish’ for me. The more I read and got into the story, the more I realized that my initial opinion was wrong. I started to feel that way by the end of Where There’s Smoke. By the end of Where There’s Fire, Cari Z had me totally convinced.

The Panopolis series is basically good against evil, but with a very thin line between the two forces. Edward thought he had it figured out. The Villains were the bad guys and the Heroes were there to protect everyone. Things may have blurred a bit when he started falling for Raul in Where There’s Smoke, but in Where There’s Fire, more of the truth came out. Not only does Edward take a more active role when he becomes a villain himself, but he learns more about where the real evil lies. This is definitely one of those series where nothing is quite like it seems.

Things change drastically for both Edward and Raul by the end of Where There’s Fire. So much so, I can’t wait for the next book to be released.

DragonFlyRating4

Tide of War (Defending Epsilon) by Lori A. Witt

TideOfWarLieutenant Commander Kyle West is one of Earth Fleet’s greatest fighter pilots. Every day, he leads his squadron into battle over Earth’s cities in a seemingly endless war against a vicious alien race, defending his home and his loved ones.
Millions of miles away, the Fleet’s Elite Squadron attacks from another angle, engaging the enemy on its home turf. Casualties are high, and the Squadron needs more of the Fleet’s very best. But joining the Elite is a death sentence—a surety Kyle isn’t willing to face. Until a devastating attack wipes out the family he refused to leave.
Commander Andrei Dezhnyov, an Elite Squadron gunner, isn’t sure what to make of the cocky new American pilot. Kyle is equally uncertain about the snarly Russian, but as they warm up to each other, their tentative alliance becomes a deep bond—one that endangers them both when a daring and disobedient rescue reveals secrets that call into question everything they’ve ever believed about their enemy. Secrets that their superiors would kill to protect.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’m not exactly sure how to review this… I’ve honestly started it three times… at least. You’re just going to have to forgive me for being vague. Without giving anything major away, there’s just no other way to review The Tide of War, so here it goes…

This is a book of love, loss and betrayal… but not in the conventional sense. Honestly, romance takes a back seat to the real story, but it’s still an integral part of what happens. The twists and turns, hints of what’s really going on and several moments of complete and utter heartbreak… All of that and more comprise this story.

There’s very little down time, lots of suspense and some touching, heated moments laced within the mystery of Epsilon. I loved the interaction between not just Kyle and Andrei, but all the other characters as well. I also like the not so subtle message that was delivered within the story. In other words, this is a book that makes you think… and those are some of my favorite.

The Tide of War is the first in a series and that’s a very good thing. Even though the story doesn’t end in a cliff hanger, the story is obviously far from over. I can’t wait to see what happens next in Defending Epsilon.

DragonFlyRating4

Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1) by Cari Z

WhereTheresSmokePanopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.
But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.
Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.
Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Oh… I really liked the world that Cari Z has created for her Panopolis series. It’s unique, just a little dark and it makes you think. I mean REALLY think… I love that in a book. 😉

As the description says, Edward was average. In contrast, Raul was anything but. He literally blew into Edward’s boring life and changed it forever.

There was a lot to love about this short book. Readers were given Edward’s POV and it was honest and kind of sweet. Panopolis was a world that ran on Heroes and Villains, but just like good and evil, there’s a fine line drawn. By the end of Where There’s Smoke, it’s pretty clear that people shouldn’t be judged by a label and not everything is exactly as it seems.

By the end of Where There’s Smoke things have changed drastically and it’s clear that not only are Edward’s days of being a ‘normal guy’ are over, nothing will ever be the same. Where There’s Fire is scheduled to release in July of this year, which is a good thing because I can’t wait to see what happens next.

DragonFlyRating4

Crimson Dawn (Crimson #3) by Amos Cassidy – Bout of Books Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00006]The Power is home and he’s parked his butt on the throne. Game over? Like hell! For Rose, being trapped in her body with an evil tosser had been a nightmare, but being stuck outside it is even worse. While Rose and Rune concoct a plan to get her body back before it’s too late, Raven must venture into The Dreaming to find the one person that may be able to give him the answers he desperately seeks. However, unknown to them, Roman has a bigger task, the final play before the curtain falls, but will he find the courage to take the stage? Where there’s love there’s determination and where there’s determination there’s hope, and Raven, Roman and Rose will do whatever it takes to bring The Power down A sacrifice must be made; one life to save the many. Who will it be?

I may have mentioned this once or twice, but if you’re going to read any of the books in the Crimson series, pay close attention. There are a lot of characters, a lot of action, more than a couple of twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got things figured out, the authors throw you another curve ball. Needless to say, Crimson Dawn was no exception. I have to be honest. I have loved this series from the beginning, but there are so many characters and so much going on, I found myself getting confused more often than not. I chalk that up to my reading comprehension flaw, not the authors’ BTW.

The only reason that I’m bringing that up now is that 3 books into this series, I’ve got everyone present and accounted for… I know exactly who everyone is, where they fit into the story and who I’m supposed to love and who I should hate… until.. Yeah, there’s absolutely no way I saw that coming. I’ve had authors change my opinion about characters before. That’s nothing new. I’ve never had an author make me do an about face in the middle of a book not once but twice. Yikes! And no, before you ask, I can’t tell you who I’m referring to… mainly because you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I still can’t believe half of what happened in this book. Not only did my very steadfast opinion change about two key characters, but there were so many revelations in Crimson Dawn I lost track. I’m still reeling from a couple of them.

All I can say is that I’m glad that I waited to read this series because Crimson Dawn is not the final book. Crimson Chaos is scheduled to release sometime this year. I will definitely be on the lookout for the final book in this series. 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. ❤

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. 😀 #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. ❤

DragonFlyRating4