Healer’s Need (Ancient Ink #2) by Rhenna Morgan

When the hunter is your mate, being prey is anything but terrifying
Coyote shifter Tate Allen has been watching. Learning his mate every possible way before he moves in. Protecting her through the night, always from afar.
He’ll be the one to teach her about her gifts. He’ll be there when she changes for the first time.
With him, she’ll fulfill her destiny.
Elise Ralston loves Tate for the patience he’s shown. The faith he’s demonstrated—denying himself what he needs sexually, even as he teaches her about pleasure.
For Tate, Elise is willing to try. To revel in touch, to give him control…and to embrace her healer’s need.
But someone unknown is still stalking the clan, threatening more than Tate and Elise’s bond. And Elise is a prime target—precious for the magic she hasn’t even learned yet.

I really liked Guardian’s Bond and I’m also really glad that I made the decision to purchase that one before I read the ARC of Healer’s Need – for a lot of reasons… The first book in the Ancient Ink series not only introduced the characters in Healer’s Need, but a lot of world building ground work was laid. So… for once, you should probably do as I did 😉 (I don’t get to say that often, so pay attention – you can thank me later;) ) Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Tate was one of my favorite characters in Guardian’s Bond. He and Jade had been a part of Priest’s life for a long time and the “sibling” banter between the two of them was natural (and entertaining), as well as the love and respect that they both had for Priest. Tate’s reaction to Elise at the end of Guardian’s Bond was priceless and I couldn’t wait to find out how things developed between the two of them. I wasn’t disappointed.

Like I said, I loved Tate in Guardian’s Bond, but he gained my respect in Healer’s Need. Given the mate bond, it was no surprise that he was amazing with Elise, but he still impressed me. Elise had been through a lot and Tate somehow sensed that and was patient. A lot was thrown at her at once, given the fact that she knew nothing of her heritage – at least nothing that she believed. I loved and respected her strength and determination to face her destiny.

I’m really loving this series and can’t wait for it to continue. Rhenna Morgan has quickly turned into one of my go-to authors. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

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Craft Brew (Trouble Brewing #2) by Layla Reyne

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.
Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.
Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

I skimmed a couple of reviews of Craft Brew before I started mine. Bad habit, I know, but really, I just take quick glances – it’s really hard to not look at all. Anyway, at least one reviewer mentioned that they didn’t even have to read the description of this book to make the request for the ARC. I can totally relate, because I feel exactly the same way. I’m loving the Trouble Brewing series just as much as the Agents Irish and Whiskey series – so picking up any book in this series is a no-brainer 😉

Craft Brew took Cam & Nic to Boston because of a family emergency. That emergency led to a request that Cam couldn’t refuse, even though it brought up some pretty strong memories that were connected to one of his biggest regrets. A case he could never solve and caused him to carry a lifetime of guilt.

I loved this addition to the Trouble Brewing series for a lot of reasons. Readers learned a lot more about Cam & Nic. There were more “warnings” for Nic. Cam’s history and his family were obviously a huge part of Craft Brew, but there was a lot more to the story. I liked seeing everyone’s roots. It was also great watching Nic and Cam become even closer – regardless of Nic’s reservations. Oh, and seeing characters from the Irish and Whiskey series was a nice bonus. 😉

I like where the characters were left at the end of Craft Brew, but the series isn’t over yet. I can’t wait to see where Layla Reyne takes these characters next.

One-Eyed Royals (Seven of Spades #4) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Shattered by their devastating breakup, Detective Levi Abrams and PI Dominic Russo find themselves at war right when they need each other most. While Dominic is trapped in a vicious cycle of addiction, Levi despairs of ever catching the Seven of Spades. The ruthless vigilante’s body count continues to climb, and it’s all Levi can do to keep up with the carnage.
When Levi’s and Dominic’s paths keep crossing in the investigation of a kidnapping ring with a taste for mutilation, it feels like history repeating itself. Thrown together by fate once again, they reluctantly join forces in their hunt for the mastermind behind the abductions.
But the Seven of Spades hates sharing the spotlight, and they have an ace in the hole: a new batch of victims with a special connection to Levi. Their murders send shockwaves through Las Vegas and change the rules of the game forever.
The Seven of Spades has upped the ante. If Levi and Dominic don’t play their cards right, they’ll end up losing everything.

So… my first reaction when I finished One-Eyed Royals was… I might have to knock off 1/2 a star… hovering between 4.5 and 5 for REASONS! #EvilAuthor – It’s been a while and that opinion still stands. This author is killing me!

One-Eyed Royals picks up almost where Cash Plays left off, which is both good and bad. Good because readers left Levi and Dom in a not so good place at the end of the last book. Bad because things haven’t changed much. They still aren’t back together and neither have budged. Levi has found some interesting ways to keep Dom from gambling and Dom still insists he doesn’t have a problem. Yet, they couldn’t stay away from each other, which became even more difficult when their cases keep causing them to cross paths. It would also be a lot less difficult if they didn’t still love each other.

The Seven of Spades is also taking a more personal interest in Levi – at least where his current victims are concerned. Levi has his own demons that he’s struggling with and he’s trying to keep in check. The Seven of Spades is pushing buttons that Levi wasn’t proud of.

I’m not gonna lie – there was one point in One-Eyed Royals that I wanted to smack Levi. I honestly couldn’t believe that he… well, you’re just going to have to read it and experience the frustration for yourself.

I have a few ideas about who the Seven of Spades may be, but I’m not positive. There’s one book left and even though Levi and Dom were in a pretty good place at the end of One-Eyed Royals, no one’s really going to be safe until the Seven of Spades is caught. Needless to say, I can’t wait until A Chip and a Chair is released.

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a series by Julie Kagawa. I practically devoured The Iron Fey series and I loved Blood of Eden. When I saw Shadow of the Fox, I didn’t hesitate. Once I started reading, it didn’t take me long to remember why I love this author’s world building so much.

My first love in the Fantasy genre is mythology, mainly because I loved it as a child. It’s familiar, but every author has the ability to put their own spin on it, so the stories are also fresh. Shadow of the Fox was centered around Japanese mythology, a first for me. I have to admit that it took me a little while to wrap my head around this unfamiliar world, but not too long.

There was a lot to take in, but I loved all the twists and turns. The POV switched between not only Tatsumi and Yumeko, but some unexpected characters were given a voice. I loved the magic and legends that were woven into the story. There was danger everywhere and both Tatsumi and Yumeko kept secrets from one another – which didn’t make things easier for either one of them.

I also loved the twists and turns and the unlikely alliances that were formed along their journey. Yumeko’s perspective on pretty much everything was the polar opposite of Tatsumi’s, which was both confusing and frustrating for the warrior.

There are a lot of reasons why I can’t wait until the next book in Shadow of the Fox is released. First and foremost is that, things take a major turn near the end and then… yeah, you’ll just have to read Shadow of the Fox to find out and then join me in waiting not so patiently for Soul of the Sword. *sigh*

Hard Truths by Alex Whitehall

He can’t have the family he wants, but he may get the love he deserves….
Isaac didn’t expect to find love at his family’s Christmas dinner, but that was before he met his sister’s new fake boyfriend. Tall, muscular, and tattooed, Logan is what Isaac would love in a partner — and also everything his parents would hate in one. Not that they know Isaac’s gay.
That doesn’t stop him from dating Logan — unbeknownst to his parents, and with his sister’s approval after she fake dumps him. The pair dive into a whirlwind romance of motorcycle rides, cheesy puns, and hot sex. They meet each other’s friends and fill their time with happiness and laughter. It’s all perfect.
Until Isaac suggests they move in together, and Logan asks Isaac to come out to his parents. Isaac wants to, but he’s scared; he doesn’t want to lose his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see that his real family has been right beside him all along.

Gotta give Alex Whitehall credit for coming up with a unique way for a couple to meet. It honestly made me like Isaac’s sister from the start. That first meeting also made it clear that I would never be a fan of his parents…

Essentially, Isaac lived two lives. One where he was comfortable in his own skin and was loved, respected and accepted by his friends. The other where he hid who he really was to be accepted by his family. The paths of those two lives never crossed and he was perfectly okay with that… until he risked losing Logan.

Logan didn’t understand how Isaac could keep such an important part of his life away from his family. Unless Logan wasn’t as important to Isaac as he thought he was. He would give anything to share his love for Isaac with the family he had lost. So he pushed…

Both Isaac and Logan made mistakes in Hard Truths. I got really aggravated with both of them more than once. Isaac couldn’t see what was right in front of him and Logan pushed for something when he had no idea how much he was really asking… or risking.

This is the story of not just the love between two men, but it’s also a story that proves that love is love and family isn’t always defined by blood. ❤

 

High Time (Solomon Mysteries #3) by Keelan Ellis

When skeletal remains turn up in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Detective Paul Solomon is pessimistic about their chances of solving the case. But a clue discovered near the bones soon leaves his partner, Tim Cullen, in little doubt as to their identity. As the case leads him close to home, Tim struggles to find a balance between professional responsibility and family, testing Paul’s patience and loyalty in the process.
In his personal life, Paul wrestles with his own increasingly precarious balancing act. His friendship with David Haygood threatens his new relationship with Owen, and he finds himself questioning not only his own judgment but his motivations as well. When Paul makes a choice that may irreparably damage his budding romance, the only person he can think to turn to is his ex-lover and friend Andy.
As Paul and Tim sift through details of the short life of a young woman who died over a quarter of a century ago, what eventually emerges from the web of connections and coincidence is a story that’s both shocking and sadly familiar to the seasoned detectives.

I really liked Good Boys, so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed High Time just as much. I mentioned in my review of the first book in the Solomon Mysteries series that one of the things that pulled me in was the fact that I was familiar with the area that the book took place. Baltimore isn’t far from where I grew up. Things got even more interesting for me in High Time when Paul and Tim end up close to where I currently live. That’s not the only reason I like this series though, just an added bonus. 😉

Paul’s a great detective, but his personal life is a mess. His best friend is dating his partner, he’s friends with someone who is admittedly attracted to him, he’s still friends with his ex and he has no idea how to be in a relationship – even though he really cares about Owen. Things get really complicated when the current case he’s working on hits way too close to those near and dear to Tim.

For the record, I got as aggravated with Paul in High Time as Owen did – and he’s not the only one who called him out on his actions. Speaking of which, the supporting characters pretty much make this series for me. The mystery wasn’t bad either 😉

Then, there was the location. Since I’m familiar with the area that Tim and Paul traveled to, I picked up on a couple of things that a lot of readers won’t. Still, the accuracy was pretty good and recognizing landmarks was kinda fun. I also learned some things about some sneaky ways that officials collect info…

I’m pretty sure that there’s more to come and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Solomon Mysteries.

Sentinel (Until You #2) by Karrie Roman

Never allowing anyone too close, Ethan Stone has lived a solitary life since he was disowned by his family when he discovered their darkest secret. He spends his days as a quiet sentinel, protecting others to make up for the ones he didn’t. Love, friendship, and family have no place in his world.
Ben Cronin is a warrior, haunted by a past he excelled at, which almost robbed him of his humanity. He became a professional bodyguard to save lives rather than take them. And he has loved his stoic colleague, Ethan Stone, from the day they met.
When Ethan’s sister suddenly comes back into his life in desperate need of his help, Ethan doesn’t hesitate to do whatever he needs to do. To his surprise, Ben—the man who makes him want things he shouldn’t—is right there beside him, risking everything to help him and finally coaxing Ethan’s feelings back to life.
A desperate race to find his missing nieces leads Ethan to a place he never thought he’d be and takes Ben exactly where he wanted to be—in a life filled with love and desire. But how long can they keep it when evil stalks their every step?

Confession time… I’ve done it again. I picked up the second book in a series before reading the first. Even though I didn’t feel lost at all while reading Sentinel, I still want to go back and read Shipped, the first book in the Until You series. Not just because I want to get to know Ryan and Lucas better, but because I want to see where it all began, especially for Ethan and Ben.

There was so much emotion in this story. My heart literally broke for Ethan. He had lost so much and even though he thought he was at peace with that – he had no idea how much more he had left to lose.

Then there was Ben… he had been in love with Ethan almost since the first time they met. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for him, even slip back into the person he’s tried so hard to leave in his past.

I could go on and on, but I’d end up rambling… and no one wants that. Just know that between the characters, the danger, the heat between Ethan and Ben, and the connection between the characters, Sentinel was hard to put down. Even though I haven’t read Shipped – which I intend to fix really soon – I already know that Until You is going to be a series that I can’t wait to continue.

The Wolf at Bay (Big Bad Wolf #2) by Charlie Adhara

Going home digs up bad memories, so it’s something Bureau of Special Investigations agent Cooper Dayton tries to avoid. When he’s guilted into a visit, Cooper brings along Oliver Park, his hot new werewolf partner, in the hopes the trip will help clarify their status as a couple…or not.
When Park’s keen shifter nose uncovers a body in the yard and Cooper’s father is the prime suspect, Cooper knows they’re on their own. Familial involvement means no sanctioned investigation. They’ll need to go rogue and solve the mystery quietly or risk seeing Cooper’s dad put behind bars.
The case may be cold, but Park and Cooper’s relationship heats up as they work. And yet if Cooper can’t figure out what’s going on between them outside of the bedroom, he’ll lose someone he… Well, he can’t quite put into words how he feels about Park. He knows one thing for sure: he’s not ready to say goodbye, though with the real killer inching ever closer…he may not have a choice.

The Wolf at the Door was a great start to Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series and The Wolf at Bay was an even better continuation. Even though readers still only had Cooper’s POV, we still got to know Park a lot better in The Wolf at Bay. I’m a huge fan of multiple POVs in a book or series, but not being in Park’s head really works in Big Bad Wolf – mainly because it keeps him just a little bit more mysterious.

There was a lot more going on in The Wolf at Bay than the heat between Park and Cooper. Family drama, crazy revelations, a decades old murder mystery and more. Lots of action to keep the pages turning.

It may not have been clear to Cooper how Park felt about him, but he had a lot going on so I can forgive him for missing the obvious. There’s still a lot for readers to learn about the shifter world that Charlie Adhara’s created in Big Bad Wolf, but I like what we’ve discovered so far.

As for the mystery? I have to say, I was surprised at both the who and the why… mainly because there were a lot of possible suspects that would have been just as believable. Then there was the family drama… let’s just say, I wasn’t a fan, although Cooper’s brother and future sister-in-law kind of grew on me. Like I mentioned… Cooper went through a lot in The Wolf at Bay, but through it all, Park was there for him – whether Cooper knew it or not. Thrown to the Wolves is next and I can’t wait to see how the series continues.

 

Counterpoint (Twisted Wishes #2) by Anna Zabo

Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.
When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.
Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Readers met Dom in Syncopation, the first book in Anna Zabo’s Twisted Wishes series. Granted, we didn’t learn a lot about the quiet, private musician, but I got to know him well enough to know I liked him. He was a good friend and a talented musician, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that there was a lot more to “Domino” than just a way to protect his privacy.

Adrian was totally infatuated with Dom, but he knew he was keeping a part of himself hidden from him. He was patient, he knew or at least he hoped that Dom would trust him enough to share what he was hiding. He was also dealing with his own professional issues…

Dom really wanted to open up to Adrian, but he was terrified of people not only finding out, but what would happen to Domino when they did. He also wasn’t sure how Adrian would react because he knew he wasn’t exactly a fan of Twisted Wishes’ genre of music. The band was behind him, but not even they totally understood his fear. There were a lot of twists and turns for both men while working toward their HEA.

I love this series so far and I loved getting to know the band even better in Counterpoint. Mish is next in Reverb and I can’t wait to see what Zabo has in store for readers with her story.

 

Saddle Up (Clean Slate Ranch #3) by A.M. Arthur

Reyes Caldero keeps his past buried deep and his emotions buried deeper. But what he doesn’t say he always makes up for with his actions. When the hot chef he once saved from an abusive ex turns up at Clean Slate Ranch, the quiet cowboy is happy to act on their sizzling chemistry, even if he’s not ready to share his secrets—or his heart.
Miles Arlington needs to get the hell out of San Francisco, and heading north for a job near Clean Slate Ranch seems like just the thing. It doesn’t hurt that his secret crush slash onetime rescuer happens to work at the ranch. Miles has never been one for the outdoors, but the superhot Reyes has him ready to saddle up.
Reyes is happy to keep things casual, even though his heart has other ideas. And when Miles is forced to confront his past again, Reyes and Miles will have to put all their trust in each other if they want any chance at building a future together.

I really liked Saddle Up, but there are a couple of things I wished… My heart broke for these two, but I really wish that they felt like they could trust the people closest to them. Of course, that would have lessoned the conflict in the story… *sigh*

Miles was a lot stronger than he thought he was and a lot of that strength came from his friends. I love that about this series and since they’re all so close and supportive, readers get to spend time with all of them.

Reyes is even more closed off than Miles, but with good reason. At least in his eyes. He’s lived with the secrets he holds close for a long time. Because of those secrets, he doesn’t think he’s worthy of anyone’s love, much less Miles’.

There was more drama going on at Clean Slate Ranch than just the tension between Miles and Reyes that kept the pages turning. Saddle Up was a great addition to this series.