Magick by Trish Milburn: Review


Synopsis from Goodreads: The covens are coming for her.
But is she a White Witch or a Dark Witch? In a war for control of the witch world, the answer will save-or doom-everyone she loves.
In White Witch, Jax gained friends she’d die for and a staggering power that threatens them all.
In Bane, Jax did the unthinkable and killed a supernatural hunter to protect her friends. She found herself lost in darkness and prisoner to the Bane, a secret society of witches sworn to prevent the use of the dark magic.
Now, in Magick, the powers of Jax and her friend Egan have been magically bound by the Bane. She must convince the Bane she can learn to control her power and become a White Witch in truth. She’s their only hope now that the dark covens have called a Conclave with one purpose-to kill this generation’s White Witch and anyone who has ever stood with her. If Jax can’t amass an army of her own, rebuild the trust of her friends and boyfriend, and find the White Witch’s elusive weapon against the dark, it may be too late.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

**Please Note: this review contains spoilers for book two**

 Holy Hogwarts!  Magick is the third book in Trish Milburn’s Coven series and it is absolutely and without a single doubt everything I had hoped it would be and more!!  Magick opens with Jax chained to a chair in an unknown location with her magic apparently completely gone.  As the events leading up to this time and place come crashing back into Jax’s consciousness she adds intense remorse and guilt to the list of awful.

In short order Jax discovers she is in the custody of the Bane and being held in their secure compound.  Furthermore, Jax is told her magic isn’t gone at all but is being bound and held in check by the magic wielded by the Bane.  For Jax, the knowledge that her power is still present is both comforting and completely terrifying.  How can she be trusted with magic when she so recently lost control and killed a (totally wretched and evil) human who threatened everything and everyone she loves?  For Jax, a little time without her magic would be quite alright but the Bane has other plans for her.  According to the Bane, Jax can not only control the dark magic within her but also fully access her white witch abilities and defeat the covens who are, undoubtedly gunning for them all.

Adding to the stress of unbinding her powers and beginning the training necessary to access her white witch abilities is the presence of Keller, Toni, and Egen –three people Jax feels she has stunningly disappointed and completely let down.  To Jax’s utter amazement all three of her friends make it perfectly clear they not only understand how she lost control but also why she lost control.  And, each of them have her back and are ready to do whatever is necessary to help Jax and the Bane defeat the covens.

The bulk of this novel takes place within the confines of the Bane compound and revolves almost exclusively around the training and preparation for the defeat of the covens.  Milburn could not have placed this novel in a more appropriate location; the Bane compound is underground and is super-close quarters which only amps up the tension already present.  And man, oh, man is there tension!!  Every action, every interaction, every conversation only serves to build the tension and will keep you turning pages at a lightning pace.  Milburn’s ability to create tension in her plot, her characters, and the location is her super-power and I am a big fan!!

The Bottom Line: For me, Magick is a fitting end (although I do see some wiggle room for the continuation of the series) to a superb witch-related, young adult trilogy.  All of the lingering questions are answered; every character’s individual story has a strong and satisfying resolution and; the new elements, twists and turns added to this installment further enhance what Milburn laid the groundwork for in the first two novels of the Coven series.  Milburn has created characters the reader can really invest in; she has used a frighteningly interesting moment in history as the basis of her series and has pulled everything together into a well-written and fantastic series.

Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward: Review

Lover Unleashed

Synopsis from Goodreads: Few authors give readers such a “powerful rush”* as #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward does in her phenomenal books of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Now she returns to that fiercely intoxicating world in a new novel of a woman’s journey from terrifying enslavement to an erotic rapture that proves equally dangerous…
Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother:  A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.
When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world.  Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.
As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: WARNING: Do not, I repeat do NOT crack the cover of this book unless you have the time to both begin and finish it! Tuesday morning, March 29, 2011, before I even got out of bed I fired up the Kindle (in the dark) and fumbled around until it was set to page one of this long-awaited novel. I proceeded to rush my 5-year-old through the morning routine and gleefully kicked her and my husband out the door with the warning that I would be reading all day so leave me alone. It took me roughly ten hours to joyfully and excitedly plow through this latest installment of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Lover Unleashed may very well be the best book of the series to date!

At the end of Lover Mine (John Matthew & Xhex’s story) devoted readers knew without doubt that the next installment of the series was going to be Payne and Manny’s story. What we didn’t know was how Ward was going to make it work. After all, she’s already done the immortal falls for a human bit in previous Black Dagger novels. Lover Unleashed had the potential to be a repeat plot with different characters. And this is why J.R. Ward is a best-selling author and I am not. In no way, shape, or form did Ward repeat herself with this plot line!  In Lover Unleashed Ward finds, as she always does, a new and inventive way to make the impossible possible. Payne and Manny’s story is original in so many ways that it can almost survive as a stand-alone novel rather than being a part of a long-running series. For the first time Ward re-focuses our attention on characters she had previously dealt with as she is telling us a brand new story. What I found most impressive about this novel is Ward’s character development. Payne and Manny are both very simple yet very complicated characters that bind the reader to them from the very beginning. Sorry reader but you are hooked right out of the starting gate with these two, and there is no stopping once you start reading.

As is typical of Ward, these two fated mates face incomprehensible and dare I say impossible challenges such as: 1) Manny being brought into a world he can’t possibly fathom; 2) Manny having to deal with the sort-of-not-really-dead nature of Jane; 3) Vishous wigging out over his past, present and future and 4) for the first time ever, the possibility of a mated pair (V and Doc Jane) separating. I won’t lie, I panicked a little at number four. While spending so much time on Vishous and Jane may seem like Ward is repeating herself, I assure you, she is not. Payne and Manny’s story is intricately linked with the evolution of Vishous and Jane’s story. Ward brilliantly and masterfully weaves the paths of these couples’ lives into a fast-paced and exciting read that will be ridiculously hard for you to put down.

Another first in this novel is the very limited appearances by older and beloved characters such as Rhage, John Matthew, Rehvenge and their respective mates. I was very surprised to discover the limited appearances didn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought they would; Payne and Manny’s story is simply too engrossing to really notice the loss of the other characters. Yet another first, the role the Lessening

Society plays has been reduced to a secondary role at best. Oh sure, there was some whacking of lessers by the Brotherhood but the Society’s evil, take-over-the-world schemes weren’t at the forefront as they generally are. To be frank, this was a rather unexpected and refreshing change in the series. But, there is also a diabolic point to this last change: Ward is using Lover Unleashed as the platform for the introduction of a new big bad: Xcor and his merry band of bastards, a group who may possibly be more dangerous than the Omega ever dreamed of being. While Xcor and his soldiers certainly cause problems in this novel, Ward really just introduces them to us and gives us just enough information about them to know that they are going to unleash Hell itself on Caldwell in the future!   Just as Lover Unleashed is a perilous and thrilling ride, the future of the Black Dagger Brotherhood promises even more!

Lothaire by Kresley Cole: Review


Synopsis from Goodreads: ALL FEAR THE ENEMY OF OLD
Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.

Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.

Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: What do you do with a millennia old vampire who is arrogant, stubborn, bat-crap crazy, feared by all, and a colossal asshat?  If you’re Kresley Cole, you give him his own book that is a fun, naughty, fast-paced, and long-awaited addition to the Immortals After Dark series.

For millennia, Lothaire’s life plan has been simple: avenge his mother’s death, take his place as King over two kingdoms, and have his Bride by his side to rule together for all eternity.  Without fail Lothaire has plotted, savagely killed, and bargained his way toward his goal.  In fact, it is his single-minded determination to achieve his goals that has earned Lothaire the name, The Enemy of Old.  The culmination of centuries of work is at hand and for the taking if Lothaire can only figure out how to get rid of Ellie Pierce and release his Bride.  As you might expect, Ellie is so not OK with this plan.  Ellie Peirce is a kind hearted, stubborn, intelligent hillbilly who has had the great misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, repeatedly.  To date Ellie’s bad timing has landed her in a state of possession (literally), on death row for a series of grisly murders, and the object of Lothaire’s unwavering attention.

Lothaire marks the twelfth addition to Cole’s wildly popular Immortals After Dark series and as a longtime fan I freely admit I was not disappointed.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with Lothaire and think most fans of the series will enjoy what Cole has created with this character.  As you well know, Lothaire has always been a part of the Immortals After Dark series and has made appearances in nearly every novel; to be fair, until recently, his appearances have generally been quite brief and offered the reader little insight into his character and/or motivations.  It would have been quite easy for Cole to simply write off Lothaire as a minor character.  Instead, she took him to the next level with a fully developed backstory that fits seamlessly into the fabric of the Immortals After Dark series as a whole.  Lothaire and Ellie’s story is one of madness, violence, extreme passion, surprise, and the understanding that even one as old as Lothaire simply can’t fight destiny.  Well played Kresely Cole, well played!

The Bottom Line: This novel reads like a roller coaster ride with tons of action, appearances by the Valkyrie (Regin is better than ever!), a ginormous butt load of steamy sex, and a plot line that is worthy of the Enemy of Old!  I read this book in record time and am so stoked to see that it not only completely answers all the previously unanswered questions about Lothaire but also establishes him as a solid character that is surely going to play a vital part in the continuation of this series.  And continue, it will!  Cole made it abundantly clear that she is not done with the Lore and the Accession is just getting started.


Long Shots by Christine d’Abo: Review

Long Shots

Synopsis from Goodreads: Welcome to Pulled Long café, where the coffee is hot, and the sex is hotter! Meet your hosts:

Sadie Long has been lusting after her friend Paul for years, and when she visits him at Mavericks, the sex club where he works, she’s suddenly fantasizing about being with Paul and his sexy boss Josh—at the same time.
Paige Long can’t help but be attracted to gorgeous firefighter Carter, especially once she learns he’s a Dom. But can she trust in her own desires and submit to happiness?
Ian Long doesn’t want to be the rebound guy for a brokenhearted man—even after a little exhibitionist play with Jeff satisfies desires he didn’t even know he had…

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

*Please Note: this is a collection of three erotic novellas for adults only*

 Welcome to the Pulled Long café, home of owners Sadie, Paige, and Ian Long.  Sadie is the baker, Paige is the manager, and Ian is the totally neurotic about the perfect cup of coffee barista.  Each of the Long siblings works long hours trying to make their café successful and forget about the fact that each of them has absolutely no social life.  Unfortunately, that last part is pretty hard to do when your café is just down the street from the local sex club, Mavericks.

Mavericks is the secondary setting for each of the three novellas and is a fascinating and disturbing place all at the same time.  Mavericks is a super-exclusive high end establishment where the security is tight and the inhibitions are not.  Each of the Long siblings not only has friends among the Mavericks staff but they each also have either experience a club members or a distinct interest in becoming a member.  That is, if the right partner comes along and they can move beyond their respective pasts.  As you might suspect, each of the three novellas follows one of the Long siblings as they face their pasts, their presents, and their futures.  One of the highlights of this series is how the three novellas are separate in order to accommodate one siblings’ complete story but still connected to the other novellas with the connectors being the siblings, the café, and Mavericks.

I thoroughly enjoyed these three quick reads for a variety of reasons including the relationship between the Long siblings, the significant others who appear, and of course the naughty bits.  Here’s the breakdown: each of the Long siblings are all just a little bit broken but each knows they have the complete support and backing of one another.  For the record, there are a few totally typical sibling bits thrown in that will make you laugh.  Seriously, what sibling wants to know about the naughty bits of their brother or sister? J

The significant others who appear in the lives of Sadie, Paige, and Ian are as significant as they are deliciously hot.  I really liked the fact that each of the partners understood the broken parts of their respective Long sibling and worked to help each one overcome the pain of their past and move into a bright future with a caring, compassionate, and passionate partner.  All three of the partners are divine, imaginative, and totally drool-worthy.

And finally, dear reader, the part you have been waiting for, the erotica.  This series has a little bit of everything including a bit of light bondage (can bondage be light?), fun with toys and some same gender sex.  From my particular perspective none of the sex scenes were disturbing or pornographic just goooood.  But, even though the sex is steamy, therapeutic, and sometimes occurring with an audience in a sex club it never overwhelms or overshadows the story.  d’Abo has definitively proven that erotica can still be very good erotica without sacrificing the quality of the characters and/or the plot.

The Bottom Line: Long Shots isn’t going to be for everyone especially if you are a part of the under 18 age group.  The sex is varied and certainly not modest but isn’t pornographic and as such will likely appeal to a wide range of erotica readers.  d’Abo has an easy writing style and has created characters that are interesting, funny, and fully developed despite the length of the stories.

Little Sacrifices by Jamie Scott: Review

Little Sacrifices

Synopsis from Goodreads: How much would you risk to stand up for your beliefs?
When Duncan and Sarah Powell move with their daughter, May, to Savannah Georgia in 1947, they hope against hope that they’ll be welcomed. But they’re Yankees and worse, they’re civil rights advocates almost a decade too early.
At first May can pretend they’re the same as everyone else. It means keeping quiet when she knows she should speak up, but it’s worth the sacrifice to win friends. Unfortunately her parents are soon putting their beliefs into action. And when they wake to find that they’re the only family on the block with a Ku Klux Klan cross blazing on their front lawn, the time comes for them to finally decide between what’s easy and what’s right.

Source: Author for a fair and honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: One short week ago, I ranted to my husband about not having come across a 4½ or 5-star read in far too long. Thank you, universe, for hearing my rant and offering up Jamie Scott’s absolutely excellent historical fiction novel, Little Sacrifices!

Set in 1940s Savannah, Georgia, Little Sacrifices follows the life of May and her parents as they relocate, under duress, from the North to the South. May’s parents are outspoken integrationists who have not only instilled their beliefs in their young daughter, but also often embarrass her in the course of their endeavors. In the beginning, for May, the South is hot, humid, and completely inexplicable. Thankfully, she meets Jim, the social outcast who lives next door and is more than willing to help May adjust and navigate the treacherous waters of segregated Savannah.

I can complain about nothing in this novel…AT ALL!! So, rather than gushing all over the place for several pages about the awesomeness of this read, I’ll hit you with the highlights.

*Scott has crafted a plot that is dramatic, gripping, heavy, historical, and incredibly interesting. Fair warning, reader: this plot is not easy as it is a fictionalized account, based on detailed research, of life in the segregated South, a full decade and half before the Civil Rights movement began. Throughout the narrative, an intense tension is always simmering just below the surface and, from time to time, it breaks through the surface.

*Because of the detailed research, the setting, atmosphere, and language feels very real and absolutely believable. The reader easily becomes immersed in May’s world. One of the hands-down highlights of this book is that you do get so completely immersed in this world, then are brought right back to reality by some seriously funny one-liner that you did not see coming. Scott clearly has a knack for breaking up the ever-present tension.

*As if the main plot weren’t enough, a secondary plot is instigated by May’s penchant for snooping. Periodically, full chapters are dedicated to the unfolding and unraveling of this secondary plot line. To be completely honest, I was absolutely taken in by this part of the novel and was thrilled to see how Scott was able to eventually bring the past and the present perfectly together.

*If I had to pick a favorite part of this novel (and I would be hard-pressed to do so), the characters would have to be it. Like the setting, plot, and everything else, the characters are fully developed entities with whom the reader can connect from the earliest moments of the book. I found myself empathizing with certain characters, laughing with them on occasion, and feeling their heartache a time or two. Being able to create such fully resolved and realistic characters in a single novel is truly a great skill for an author to possess.

*Finally, the epilogue is excellent. Who writes about the epilogue, right? Well, I do when it is as good as the rest of the book. Scott used her space in the epilogue as it should be used; nearly every character in the novel is covered in the epilogue. The reader will walk away with a great sense of closure.

The Bottom Line: Despite the tragic nature of the time and place, this historical fiction read is outstanding. The plot is intriguing, the characters are fantastic, and the writing style is so smooth and easy that it makes getting through this novel a breeze. I can unreservedly recommend this read to adults, but would caution recommending it to a young adult reader who is on the younger end of the spectrum.

P.S. for you chick lit fans out there, Jamie Scott just happens to the pen name of chick lit author Michele Gorman 🙂

Incantation by Alice Hoffman: Review


Synopsis from Goodreads: Estrella is a Marrano: During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, she is one of a community of Spanish Jews living double lives as Catholics. And she is living in a house of secrets, raised by a family who practices underground the ancient and mysterious way of wisdom known as kabbalah. When Estrella discovers her family’s true identity–and her family’s secrets are made public–she confronts a world she’s never imagined, where new love burns and where friendship ends in flame and ash, where trust is all but vanquished and betrayal has tragic and bitter consequences.
Infused with the rich context of history and faith, in her most profoundly moving work to date, Alice Hoffman’s first historical novel is a transcendent journey of discovery and loss, rebirth and remembrance.

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review: I picked up Alice Hoffman’s Incantation on a whim while at my local used bookstore. This book was meant to be my no pressure, no review, just for the hell of it read and then I devoured it in two very, very late night sittings and realized I have to review this book.  Incantation is the tragic and heartbreaking story of Estrella de Madrigal and her struggle to remember who and what she is in a time when who and what she is, was simply not allowed.

Though Estrella is a fictional character her story is one that is based on the facts of the Spanish Inquisition.  During this dark period of human history, it was essentially illegal for Jews to be Jews in Spain.  Under the direction of Tomas de Torquemada, Jews were forced to convert to the Christian faith, flee their homes, or risk being tortured and killed if caught practicing their faith.  While Estrella is certainly disturbed by what she is seeing and hearing in her village she knows, without doubt, that this horror cannot touch her family.  It simply cannot, she and her family are Christians.  As dark rumors, gossip, and speculation begin to turn neighbor against neighbor, suddenly Estrella is forced to consider that everything she thought she knew about herself and her family is wrong.

Is it possible that her family is actually Jewish?  As Estrella begins to look back over the years of her short life the pieces of a newly-discovered and very dangerous puzzle begin to fall into place.  There is the fact that her family eats no pork, they light the candles every Friday evening, they cross themselves differently than do their neighbors and there are times when family members (including Estralla) are called by different, secret names.  For Estrella these discoveries are as fascinating as they are dangerous.  As the accusations and arrests increase dramatically, Estrella understands that she has precious little time to understand the history of her family and her people and decide if she will stand with them and their shared history.  Estrella must decide if she is willing to give up everything she has ever known and loved for the sake of her family and her faith.

Had I started this book any earlier in the night I would have completed it in a single sitting.  The plot is as powerful as it is heartbreaking and every character brings something to the table.  There are no weaknesses in the cast of characters; you love some and hate others but you undoubtedly see how each plays his/her role perfectly.  Each scene and every chapter are crafted rather than simply written and all pull the reader in instantaneously.  It is ridiculously easy to become emotionally invested in these characters and their story.  This story made me angry, anxious, sad (yes, I cried), and it gave me cold chills up my spine.  With that being said, it is important to note there are bright moments of beauty in this book as well.  At the end of the day the message is clear: though times are often dangerous and frightening hope and love are equally powerful forces.

The Bottom Line: Make no mistake, because of the subject matter alone this is not an easy book to read but it is beyond being well worth the time and the emotional investment.  The plot and the characters are flawless.  As for the writing style?  When I consider Hoffman’s writing style I see in my head a mature and beautiful woman, finely dressed, and carrying herself with a grace that is a part of her rather than being something she has learned.  In short, Hoffman’s writing style is elegant and suits the subject matter of Incantation perfectly.  A phenomenal read!

Improper Relations by Juliana Ross: Review

Improper Relations

Synopsis from Goodreads: Dorset, 1858 When Hannah’s caught watching her late husband’s cousin debauch the maid in the library, she’s mortified–but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she’s used to being ignored.
The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she’s witnessed, but there’s something about Leo that draws her to him.
When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can’t bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she’s losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends? (Novella: 22,000 words)

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

**Please Note: this is an adult only read**

Juliana Ross’s Improper Relations is a quick naughty romp through late 19th century England.  Following her husband’s death Hannah has nowhere to go, no money and no one but her late husband’s family to take her.  Hannah has resigned herself to the knowledge that she will spend the rest of her days as the unpaid companion to her late husband’s mother.  While Hannah is not happy in her position she does have a roof over head, a place to sleep, and the large family library to occupy her limited free time.

No one ever uses the library, at least not that Leo has noticed.  What better place is there to play naughty with the maid than in the one place that no one ever uses?  Except for Hannah, the one person no one ever notices.  As the afternoon passes by Hannah finds herself trapped on the upper floor of the library as Leo and the maid both quite joyfully pleasure one another.  Hannah knows she should announce herself or try and escape unnoticed but she just can’t seem to take her eyes off the couple.  Everything Leo and the maid do to one another appears to be mutually pleasant and even exciting; it also looks like something Hannah has never ever experienced, even with her late husband.  Hannah thinks she has gone completely unnoticed during the tryst but much to her great shock and embarrassment she soon discovers Leo was aware of her presence all along.

What happens next is something Hannah never imagined possible; she overcomes her shyness, embarrassment, and awkwardness and embarks on a variety of fun and sexually satisfying lessons with the more-than-willing Leo.  Leo takes Hannah under his wing and opens her world up to a whole new realm of possibility, at least where sex is concerned.  Hannah is an unpaid “burden” while Leo is a member of the wealthy family Hannah once belonged to and now works for.  The possibility of the two of them together outside of the bedroom is absolutely ridiculous and all kinds of forbidden.  Hannah knows this and thus determines that she will learn all she can from Leo, enjoy her forbidden time with him, and hope and pray she doesn’t become emotionally attached to him.

The Bottom Line: I enjoyed this quick (30-45 minute) adults only read very much.  While I initially found Hannah to be a bit cold, her curiosity and enthusiasm for her “lessons” with Leo quickly overshadow her coldness.  Leo initially comes across as man-whore but his attitude toward Hannah and his attentiveness regarding her needs and desires make him a much more likeable character.  While the naughty bits of this novella are frequent they aren’t lewd or disturbing just descriptive and instructional J  Yes, there are a lot of naughty bits in this novella but there is also a decent plot and a bit of drama to be had.  In the end, Improper Relations was a good and satisfying read.