Spellbinder (Moonshadow #2) by Thea Harrison

Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.
When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.
One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.
Sidonie’s music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.
But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge…

The Moonshadow series is getting more and more intriguing with each couple that’s introduced. I loved the first book, Moonshadow, and readers met Morgan as he was doing his best to inflict pain on Nikolas, his brotherhood and Sophie. I was kind of surprised when Spellbinder was Morgan’s book, but I should have trusted Thea Harrison to prove that nothing is quite as it seems.

Unlike Sophie, Sidonie was totally human with no power whatsoever. What she did have was her music, an unwillingness to give up and a strategic mind that saved her more than once. Even with all of that, she never would have had a chance if it weren’t for Morgan.

After reading Moonshadow, I never expected to like Morgan, much less sympathize with him. He didn’t win me over immediately, but it didn’t take long. Because of Sidonie’s intuitiveness, he finally had a little bit of hope and an ally he never expected.

There were a few twists and turns and things didn’t turn out exactly like either Sidonie and Morgan planned, but the path to a HEA isn’t always easy.

A few characters from previous books made some unexpected appearances and at least one of them made me want to go back and re-read one book in the Elder Races series (if not more.) Those appearances also proved that things are bound to get even more interesting as the Moonshadow series progresses. I can’t wait 😉

Dark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping #1) by B.J. Daniels

For twenty-five years, the case of the McGraw twins kidnapping has remained unsolved. As the eldest son, Cull oversees the McGraw horse ranch, wary of prying eyes. So when true-crime writer Nikki St. James comes forward with new information, Cull can’t believe his father invites her onto the compound. His family has suffered enough—he’s not about to let St. James snoop and ruin them completely. But Nikki finds the eldest McGraw’s protectiveness as endearing as it is aggravating. After all, this case is personal to her, too… And her secrets can set the truth free—if they don’t destroy the McGraws first.

I’m not sure exactly what happened with Dark Horse, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I think it might have been because things seemed a little rushed. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough time for either Nikki or Cull to change their opinions about each other… but that’s just me.

Other than the rushed romance, I kind of enjoyed the mystery behind Dark Horse. It was an interesting premise and it wasn’t solved by the end of this first book. Because of that, I might just have to check out Dead Ringer, just to see how the mystery progresses. 

Pounding Skin (Skin Deep #2) by L.A. Witt

Fighter pilot Jon Russell never sleeps with the same man twice. Known for his lack of shame when it comes to hooking up, Jon has no interest in commitment—even friends with benefits sounds like too much work.
Matt Huffman has slept with lots of women. He’s had loads of girlfriends. So why does the hot as hell pilot getting a tattoo as the result of a lost bet stop his breath? And how come he can’t stop thinking about him, even after he’s gone?
When Jon returns to Skin Deep the second time, he doesn’t want another tattoo. He wants to hook up with the gorgeous artist he spent hours agonizingly close to, and Matt wants to explore some curiosity about men. Fulfill the desire he can’t stop fantasizing over. And he wants to do it with Jon.
As their casual hook up becomes more than just skin deep, both Matt and Jon are faced with questions they don’t want to answer. Matt understands he’s bi—but are these feelings he has typical of hooking up with a man? Or is it only Jon that can make his heart pound? If Jon wanted nothing more than a fling, why does he find himself needing not just Matt’s body, but all of him? And can their relationship withstand the hardships that makes Jon avoid them in the first place?
The Skin Deep, Inc books can be read in any order—come enter a world where gorgeous tattoo artists and hot Navy men find passion, pleasure, and a happily ever after together.

I just realized that I’ve been on quite a L.A. Witt run lately. It wasn’t intentional, she’s just had a LOT of books on my review list. Plus, she’s one of my go-to authors (if she writes it, I read it.) Which is rather ironic because I somehow missed the first book in the Skin Deep, Inc. series, Back Piece, but I’m sure I’ll be rectifying that shortly.

Matt and Jon were an interesting mix. Jon had a reputation of being out and totally casual when it came to his sexuality, but he was a total tattoo virgin with no desire to change that status. Then he lost the bet. Matt was totally straight, or at least he thought he was. After a threesome birthday surprise for an ex turned friend, he wasn’t so sure. Then Jon walked into Skin Deep, Inc. and he really had his doubts.

These two guys were clueless and I mean that in a most endearing way. Jon had no intention of settling down, ever. He was perfectly content to jump from partner to partner with no strings attached rarely even a repeat ‘date’. Matt wasn’t exactly looking for a long term relationship either, but his attraction to Jon had him more than a little curious. Jon was more than happy to help him with his curiosity and have some fun while he was at it.

Matt wasn’t exactly in denial about his sexuality, he just never considered being gay, bi or anything but straight an option – mostly because of the environment he grew up in. Jon didn’t have to look far for examples of why even the most solid relationships never worked out, so he wasn’t willing to take a chance. These two falling for each other was inevitable… and more than a little entertaining.

As I mentioned, I haven’t read Back Piece, but after reading Pounding Skin, I really want to go back and read it. The supporting characters were great in Pounding Skin and Colin and Daniel made me want to get to know them better. The next book in the series is Cover Up and I can’t wait to see Nate find his true HEA. ❤ 

All Wheel Drive (Bluewater Bay #18) by Z.A. Maxfield

Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.
Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.
Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.

If you’re not a fan of angst revolving around totally broken characters, All Wheel Drive is going to be a hard book for you to get through. That’s not a warning to not read this one, it’s just an observation and since both Diego and Healy are both so heart brokenly… well, broken, I thought it was worth mentioning.

It’s also worth mentioning that even though my heart broke for both Healey and Diego, I found myself sympathizing more with Healey. There were a couple of reasons for this I think. First, readers who have followed the Bluewater Bay series have already met Healey. His twin brother, Nash was featured with Spencer in the 3rd book in the series, Hell on Wheels. Second, for lack of a better way to put it, Diego wasn’t really very nice to Healy. At times he was downright mean. It’s a good thing that Z.A. Maxfield gave readers his POV, otherwise it would have been really hard to find him worth of Healy. It’s also a good thing that Healy could see beyond the shields that Diego had so carefully put up – just another reason to fall in love with him more.

So, Diego grew on my despite his growly personality… because of Healy. That doesn’t mean that Diego didn’t help Healy see things from a different perspective too, because he did. He gave him a unique view of the world around him, his circumstances and even his family. Especially his sister, who was also wheelchair bound. Diego’s willingness to find a way to help Healy come to terms with the events that landed him back in Bluewater and maybe even a way to get beyond and out from underneath it didn’t hurt either.

There was a lot more to love about All Wheel Drive. The supporting characters, which included a lot of family, were front and center. I had already fallen in love with Healy’s family, but I really liked Diego’s too. His relationship with them showed a softer side that I really liked.

The only complaint that I have with All Wheel Drive is that it ended with everything not quite wrapped up. Diego was well on his way to completing his project, but not quite and Healy’s fate was still a little shaky. Other than that, this was a great addition to the Bluewater Bay series and it’s probably no surprise that I’m anxiously waiting for what comes next. 😉 

House of Cards (Porthkennack #4) by Garrett Leigh

Calum Hardy’s life has unravelled. Reeling from the betrayal of a man he once loved, he boards a train heading south, with no real idea where he’s going except a world away from London.
Brix Lusmoore can hardly believe his eyes when he spots one of his oldest friends outside Truro station. He hasn’t seen Calum since he fled the capital himself four years ago, harbouring a life-changing secret. But despite the years of silence, their old bond remains, warm and true—and layered with simmering heat they’ve never forgotten.
Calum takes refuge with Brix and a job at his Porthkennack tattoo shop. Bit by bit, he rebuilds his life, but both men carry the ghosts of the past, and it will take more than a rekindled friendship and the magic of the Cornish coast to chase them away.

I’ve mentioned before that Garrett Leigh has a talent for taken broken characters and putting them back together – but not before tearing them apart at least one more time. House of Cards, wasn’t quite that bad this time, but she did manage to break my heart regardless.

House of Cards began with Calum escaping a bad relationship with nothing but the clothes on his back. He had no idea where he was headed, but anywhere had to be better than London. Luckily he ended up in the perfect spot… for both him and Brix.

I loved these two together. Brix may have come to Calum’s rescue and offered him a chance to both rekindle an old friendship and a chance to start over, but Calum basically offered him the same. They gave each other exactly what they needed.

For a lot of reasons, this is hands down my favorite book in this series so far. From the main characters to the supporting characters, I fell in love with them all. This group of Porthkennack residents gave readers a whole different view of life there. Which brings up the fact that you don’t have to read all the books in the series to enjoy each one individually. I’m still not recommending skipping any of them… even though I’ve skipped the historical books in the series, for now at least. That’s just another do as I say, not as I do moment and since I haven’t used that excuse for a while, I feel totally justified. 😉

Chief’s Mess (Anchor Point #3) by L.A. Witt

Anthony Talbot is in Anchor Point to visit family, but after two days of strife, he needs a break. A local gay bar is calling his name.
When Chief Noah Jackson sees that red head stroll into the club, he immediately wants him. They’re perfectly matched, and before long, they’re burning up the sheets. Noah can’t get enough. Anthony can’t stay in Oregon for long, but as soon as he leaves, he’s counting down the days until he can fly back for more. And between his increasingly frequent visits, there’s always phone sex, sexting, webcams . . . anything they can get.
But Noah’s got a carefully crafted façade, and Anthony can’t help noticing the slowly forming cracks. The scent of alcohol in the middle of the day. The extra drinks at dinner. The hint of red in his eyes. Anthony knows what it means. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he’s seen this before, and there’s no denying it. If Noah doesn’t get his downward spiral under control, he’s going to lose both his career and the first man he’s ever really loved.

I feel like this book should come with an “excessive sex” disclaimer. Honest, I’m not complaining, because the heat between Noah and Anthony was worth it, but at times it seemed like that was the only thing they had in common.  Aside from that one minor issue – which wasn’t really an issue at all – I really liked Noah and Anthony.

Anthony had no intention of starting a relationship. He was just trying to find an escape from the drama revolving around his sister and ex brother-in -law – even though there was a lot less drama than he expected. He had a harder time letting go of what his sister’s ex put her through than she did, but as close as he was to his sister, he was on the outside looking in. Regardless how things were now, he had his reasons for being ultra sensitive when he started picking up signs from Noah that were heavy reminders.

Noah wasn’t exactly blind to his problem. He did things that scared even him, but he talked himself down and made promises to himself that he deep down knew he couldn’t keep. It took almost loosing something that he didn’t even know he wanted to shake some sense into him.

An added bonus to Chief’s Mess was spending some time with Travis and Clint from Afraid to Fly. It was kind of hard to see Clint from Anthony’s perspective, but it was worth it to see thing turn around for all of them.

Broke Deep (Porthkennack #3) by Charlie Cochrane

Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two hundred year old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.
The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.
Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.

I’ve read the first book (Wake Up Call), Broke Deep and the fourth book (House of Cards) in the Porthkennack series. I skipped the second book because it’s historical. I don’t hate historical, but the genre isn’t one of my favorites, so I skipped A Gathering Storm. I may go back to the historical offerings in the series later, we’ll see…

I almost grudgingly have to admit that out of the three books in this series I’ve read so far, Broke Deep is my least favorite. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like Broke Deep, because I did. I also really like Charlie Cochrane’s writing. I guess it had to do more with the fact that I didn’t relate to Morgan and Dominic as easy as I did with the rest of the characters that have been introduced in the other books. Just a personal thing, so don’t let that deter you. To be honest, it may have just been the fact that I wanted more to their story. It felt like there was still a little bit of mystery left at the end – both for the characters and the actual ‘mystery.’ *sigh*

Even though Morgan and Dominic weren’t my favorite Porthkennack couple, I still enjoyed my time spent with them. Even though they hadn’t known each other long, there was an easiness about them when they were together. I also enjoyed the silly banter that masked a nervousness on both sides. That nervousness came from Dominic’s willingness to be there for Morgan and Morgan’s unwillingness to allow Dominic to go through the pain of losing him bit by bit, like he did with his mother.

Each book in this series adds another layer to the community of Porthkennack, yet none of them are really connected by anything other than the actual location. There’s also a hint of ‘magic’ centered around the town. Nothing blatant or even really alluded to other than the feeling that’s created by a place bathed in local lure and kept alive by the generations of locals who’ve lived there for centuries. Given Morgan’s vivid dreams of a historic shipwreck, I was kind of hoping for some ‘real’ ghosts in Broke Deep, but they only seemed to inhabit his dreams. Again, just me… I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. 😉

House of Cards by Garrett Leigh is next in the Porthkennack series and I’ll be reviewing it shortly, so stay tuned! 

The Alpha’s Claim by Holley Trent

Jim West, the New York Coyote pack alpha, has successfully defended his territory from external threats for almost fifteen years. Pack politics may be a pain in his ass, but his command has never been doubted, his authority never questioned.
Until Teddy, an argumentative pancake-house server, challenges more than his patience. The lithe, pretty human calls to Jim’s baser instincts. He knows instantly Teddy is his mate – but the timing couldn’t be worse. Tension within his pack is growing, and adding a human mate to the mix could spark an uprising, with Teddy as the target.
Teddy’s smart mouth may heat Jim’s blood, but with a full moon only days away, getting Teddy to let down his guard and accept him – the man and the beast – is his main priority.
There’s no fighting the pull of a mate, but learning his lover is a literal predator might make Teddy run right into the danger Jim’s desperate to control.

Okay, so I try not to read reviews before I read a book – I’ve been burned by spoilers a few too many times so I consider avoidance the safest way to go. However, I do look at ratings. I don’t always make decisions based on those ratings, but I kind of like to know what I’m in for. This book had a LOT of low ratings, but there were a couple from trusted readers that I know have the same taste in books as I do that rated it higher. Those couple of reviews/ratings are what made me decide to take a chance on Alpha’s Claim and I’m really glad that I did.

I’ve never read any other book by Holley Trent, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Alpha’s Claim wasn’t perfect, but I really liked the story and I liked Trent’s writing style. Teddy was a fun character. He had no idea how crazy it was to be talking back to an alpha. He was human and basically thought that Jim and his friends were jerks. The fact that he didn’t back down and actually stood up to Jim was just one of the things that attracted him to Teddy.

I also liked the dynamic of Jim’s pack. You’ll have to read the book to understand what I’m talking about. I’ve read a lot of shifter books and series and the sense of family in Alpha’s Claim was one of the strongest I’ve read in a while. Yet, just like in every family, there were a few members who weren’t quite as loyal to the pack as the rest.

The only real complaint that I have about Alpha’s Claim is that I wanted more. There were things that I wanted to know and spending more time getting to know Jim and Teddy wouldn’t have been a bad thing. 😉

No One But You (Silver Springs #2) by Brenda Novak

Struggling to make ends meet after a messy divorce, Sadie Harris is at the end of her tether. Her waitressing gig isn’t enough to pay the bills let alone secure primary custody of her son, Jayden, a battle she refuses to lose. Desperate, she accepts a position assisting Dawson Reed the same Dawson Reed who recently stood trial for the murder of his adoptive parents. Joining him at his isolated farm seems risky, but Sadie is out of options.
Dawson has given small town Silver Springs plenty of reasons to be wary, but he’s innocent of the charges against him. He wants to leave his painful past behind and fix up the family farm so he can finally bring his dependent sister home where she belongs.
As Sadie and Dawson’s professional relationship grows into something undeniably personal, Sadie realizes there’s more to Dawson than the bad boy everyone else sees. He has a good heart, one that might even be worth fighting for.

I think I may have liked No One But You even more than Finding Our Forever. If I had to put my finger on the reason, I’d have to say it was Dawson. He lost everything when he was accused of his adoptive parents’ murder – including his home town.

All Dawson really wants is to be left alone to bring his family’s farm back to life so he can provide a home for his sister. All Sadie wants is to keep her son safe, happy and away from his emotionally abusive father. Alone, the didn’t stand a chance, but together…

I really liked the connection between Sadie and Dawson. Having the town outcast, who most everyone in town believed still belonged behind bars, fall for the ex of an overly possessive small town policeman who was not only an arrogant bully, but in total denial about the end of his marriage wasn’t the easy way to go, but it definitely kept the pages turning.

Even though this is the second book in Brenda Novak’s Silver Springs series, you won’t be lost if you haven’t read Finding Our Forever. Now that I’ve started though, I won’t be able to stop. Until You Loved me is next and it’s already on my TBR list. 😉

 

Back to You by Chris Scully

Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.
Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.
As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

I’ve only read one other book by Chris Scully, but Back to You made it pretty clear that I need to seek out more of her books. Until September wasn’t a mystery. It was more of an emotional story. That’s not to say that Back to You wasn’t emotional, because it was. In fact, the mystery just added another layer to the emotion. A huge layer – one that it was impossible to ignore.

Alex was the last person that Ben expected to have walk back into his life, but Alex couldn’t wait to reconnect with Ben. Things didn’t go exactly like Alex expected though, especially when Ben found out that Alex had more than one reason to come back. Alex got more than he bargained for and things got complicated fast.

I loved the connection between Alex and Ben and the fact that their initial reunion was strained made the story more realistic. Ben was leery of Alex’s intentions, but he was still drawn to him. The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Ben’s sister had a few twists and turns. The obsession that Ben’s mom had with her missing daughter didn’t help, especially since Alex’s interest seemed to fuel it.

I can honestly say that the mystery had me guessing until close to the very end. The outcome had a tragic impact more than one family, but it helped heal more than one too. The romance was as good as the mystery, which are just a couple of reasons why I’ll definitely be looking for more from this author. 😉