The Waking Land by Callie Bates
June 27, 2017
Callie Bates takes on a huge dramatic undertaking in her fantasy debut which centers around an assassination, a kingdom in turmoil, and the one person who is at the center of it all. Heavily character driven, Bates creates a layered and politically motivated world that revolves primarily around Lady Elanna Valtai. Taken from her family as a child, she was raised by King Erylais after her father failed to overthrow him. When the king is assassinated in another revolution, she is branded a murderer and runs only to discover her life with the king has been a lie and her fate lies with uniting a land that she has little loyalty or love for.
Waking the Land is an ambitious story coming in at over 400 pages and moving at whiplash speed with plenty of action and suspense though a large number of characters and subplots is a bit daunting. A large portion of the story watches Elanna attempt to work through her anger over what she views as her family’s abandonment after being kidnapped. Taught to hate her homeland and the magic it contains, Elanna also struggles with her own abilities which have begun to manifest themselves. A strong protagonist, Elanna has her less than stellar moments but shows growth and maturity as she plots, plans, and manipulated with the best of them. With two men at her side, there is a mild love triangle but nothing dramatic or even noteworthy in my opinion. The story ends on an interesting note, leaving readers to wonder what direction Bates will choose in book two of this trilogy.
Sound of Light by Claire Wallis
July 17, 2017
A young woman with a very special gift finds her soul mate only to discover their love may mean the end to her abilities. After Wallis’ debut Push, followed by Pull, I was not expecting the lightness of this book. I’m not a fan of angelic heroines who are practically perfect in every way and everyone adores them. As always, Wallis’ strong voice, solid characters, and imagination seems to flow effortlessly. The prose is beautiful and engaging but almost too perfect. It felt as if that was the base of the story. The tense in which the narrative is told doesn’t help. Quite a lot of head hopping. Once I realized the gist of the subject matter, especially the heroine’s gift, and its uses, my interest waned considerably. This is a definite situation of it’s me, not you.
To Win Her Smile by Mackenzie Crowne
Series: Player, #5
July 18, 2017
MacKenzie Crown’s latest sports romance centers around a superstitious adrenalin junkie football player and a bonafide British Baroness who moonlights as a photographer. Piper Darrow needs cash fast in order to save her family’s debt strapped estate so she agrees to some side work photoaging for the Mahatten Marauders. When star player Wyatt Hunter’s pass goes wild and injures Piper, Wyatt goes on to have the best game of his career and is now convinced she is his new good luck charm. In his need to keep her close, their attraction blazes up and only grows hotter the more time they spend together. When Wyatt’s family uncovers something about Piper that makes him doubt everything they have, Wyatt has to dig deep and decide who’s he going to trust? His fear or his heart?
This sexy and humorous romance cleverly hides a strong emotional undertow that gradually makes itself known as readers become more enamored with this couple. The sports aspects are knowledgeable and blend well with the spicy romance and family fueled conflicts affecting both protagonists. Told in alternating POVs, this strong, intelligent, and independent couple moves at a steady respectable pace, allowing them time to get to know one another. The engaging dialogue and multiple settings are highlighted by a colorful cast, steamy love scenes, and family issues. A very well done grovel scene at the end seals the deal.
Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson
Series: Silver Tip Pack #2
July 25, 2017
I enjoyed the first book in this werewolf meets The Walking Dead m/m series – but this one didn’t quite engage me. Bay goes off with his pack, outside of the walls of their compound, in search of another pack that is rumored to have been attacked, but maybe still alive. They find this pack and while at first there is some trust issues, eventually, they are let in to safety, and it is here that Bay finds Nash – whom they thought dead. Nash had sacrificed himself so others could live, and they assumed he had died. But he was found by this other pack and has been healing and recovering. Bay and Nash were lovers as young adults, and Bay pushes for that romance to be rekindled. Nash is more wary, and a little more mysterious.
I needed something more in this book – maybe a little darker world? Or a romance that had more of a build-up. It fell a little flat for me.
Sleuthing With the Enemy by Danielle Hardgrave
Unnatural Alliances #2
June 9, 2017
I liked the heroine and I liked the author’s voice, but I didn’t like the romance and I didn’t like the mystery. So I’m scratching my head over this one. Anna and her brothers are werewolves and an important artifact has been stolen right out from under them. This magical cuff needs to be found and while Anna is ready to run out and investigate, her brothers want to go through the proper supernatural channels and have the supernatural council investigate. When a witness to the theft tells Anna she thinks a vampire named Jonas was involved, Anna sneaks out behind her brothers backs, and confronts Jonas. They only problem is – he is a powerful vampire, and her fighting skills aren’t quite up to par. After allowing Anna to live, Jonas decides to work with her to find the real thief.
Told all in Anna’s point of view, Jonas is kind of a fun vampire – a little scary at first, and then charming and amusing. We don’t get to know him all that well though. My big complaint is the romance. There is no build up or sexual tension. They have sex – but I needed more time with them acknowledging their attraction and courtship. Instead we have two sex scenes and then the love declaration at the end. It didn’t flow or make a lot of sense.
The mystery also fizzled out. The entire book these two are on the hunt for the cuff and the thief and while an event does happen at the end related to the theft, the mystery feels unfinished. It was a bit of a let down.
But Anna is fun – she is strong, independent and has a great relationship with her best friend, Roxie. I liked the two of them together a lot. Had this been a best friends fight crime book with a stronger mystery, this would have been super fun. But the romance and the mystery didn’t work.