Friday, February 27, 2015

ARC Review: "The Virgin's Night Out" by Shiloh Walker

The Virgin's Night Out
by Shiloh Walker

Sloane Redding is the shy one, the timid one. The morning of her wedding, she's dumped by the man she'd thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. Humiliated, she turns tail and runs, leaving Nowhere, Alabama for a job in the city. Sloane sets out to remake herself. She succeeds...on the outside. On the inside? Different story. She still the shy Redding. Still quiet, still more interested in standing on the standlines. But all of that is about to change.

The night before her brother's wedding, she strolls in the lone bar in Nowhere wearing wicked red and she's got one goal in mind: to show her ex-fiance just what he lost.

The night before his best friend's wedding, D.B. "Boone" Cassidy walks into the lone bar in Nowhere, Alabama with one goal in mind. Get wasted. Former military, he's spent the past few years as a security specialist and all around troubleshooter. It should have been easy to spot the trouble that night...a sexy woman in wicked red. It should have been easy. Yeah, right.

One thing leads to another and his plans to get wasted turn into a night with the sexy woman in red . Boone gets the shock of his life the next day when he shows up at his friend's wedding to find out he'd just spent the night wrapped around his best friend's little sister...and that isn't the only surprise.

I really enjoy Shiloh Walker’s writing.  I’ve been impressed by her storytelling with every book I’ve read that she’s written.  (By god, she knows how to write the dark stuff.  I’ll be reviewing Darker Than Desire, the latest in the Secrets & Shadows series next month.)

I picked up this book thinking it was going to be a light, steamy read. It starts that way.  Sloan Redding is back in town with something to prove.  Having been jilted at the altar, Sloan left for the big city.  She is back for her brother’s wedding and looking for a little revenge.  After putting her ex-finance down at the local bar (as in punching him in the face), Sloan finds herself the focus of a super hottie’s attention.  After a blistering one night stand in which they did not exchange names, they coincidentally meet up again…at Sloan’s brother’s wedding.  It turns out the Mr. Hottie is DB Cassidy (aka Boone), her brother’s best friend and a member of the wedding party.  It's the very same Boone that Sloan has been corresponding with for years but never met.

One misunderstanding leads to another and Sloan and Boone decide to separate.  Circumstances bring them back together and they must work with and through some serious complications before getting their happily ever after.

What surprised me about this story is the change in tone after Boone leaves.  Up until then it is a fairly typical, albeit well written, romance.  Boone ends up in a foreign prison, tortured and with memory loss. The tone is dark and he comes back broken. It is a little darker than I would’ve expected, an added layer that makes this story unique.

Right in line with what I would expect from Shiloh Walker, this is a pleasing romantic read that deserves your attention.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: "Vision in Silver" by Anne Bishop

Vision in Silver
by Anne Bishop
Book 3 in The Others series

The Others freed the  cassandra sangue  to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

When I was a kid, there was a commercial for margarine with the slogan, “it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”  I couldn’t help but remember this line while reading this book.  That was a humorous tagline, but in this book, it’s serious business messing the Mother.

The central conflict in this series is between the Others, terra indigene – the earth natives, and the humans. The humans have the technology and the systems, but the Others have dominion over nature – the natural resources. That is why in the world order, the Others hold power over humans.  Humans are considered prey.  However, some humans are not comfortable with this status and are looking to fight back. 

This tension is played out through the characters in and associated with the Lakeside Courtyard. Whereas book one and two are focused on the development of the characters, world-building and establishing the roles of the various characters, this book focuses more on the larger conflict. It’s a game changer.

What’s interesting to me is that although the humans are the lower ranked in this world, they are not the underdogs. There is no sympathy for the greater humankind. Through arrogance, humans have polluted and ravaged the Earth impacting all species.  Without taking responsibility for the destruction, humans have redirected their focus on a right for “manifest destiny” and freedom from, what they consider, bondage to the Others.  The resentment is fueling a Humans First and Last movement.  This is pushing the Others to consider unleashing a Noah-and-the-Flood like destruction.

This is also a story about alienation, misunderstanding, and the attempts by one small faction to overcome that gap.  The Lakeside Courtyard is the crucible of those efforts. Because even within the threat of a pending war, people can choose to understand one another.

All of favorite characters are back.  Relationships evolve. There is less Simon and Meg than in the other books, but they are still the central part of the story.  The rate of their relationship development is still a little slow and frustrating for me. I wasn’t even clear until this book that something else might be developing beyond strong friendship.  But given the richness of the story, I’m willing to be patient.

This is a perfect middle book. It gives us more of our favorite characters, complicates the relationships and furthers the greater conflict. 

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review the book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

COVER REVEAL: "The Secret" by Elizabeth Hunter

The Secret
By Elizabeth Hunter
Book 3 in the Irin Chronicles

This cover takes my breath away.  It brings me back to the intense relationship and the suspenseful story. 

Only when the darkness falls can you see the light of the stars.

For thousands of years, the scribes and singers of the Irin race have existed to protect humanity and guard the gifts of the Forgiven. They have lived in the shadows. They have kept their secrets.

But the Irin aren’t the only race with secrets.

Ava and Malachi have found each other, but wounds as deep as theirs don’t heal overnight. While the Irin world struggles to correct the power imbalance left by the Rending of the Irina, Malachi and Ava struggle to connect their past with their present.

The Fallen may scheme, but Ava has found her power and refuses to be an angel’s pawn. And while Malachi may have forgotten his history, the scribe’s relentless search for answers leads both him and his mate to the heart of the Irin power structure in Vienna, where knowledge is guarded more closely than gold and those with power will do anything to keep it.

Malachi and Ava have survived the darkness, but will they ever discover its secrets? A powerful cabal of the Fallen may hold the answers, but to surrender them, it wants the Irin race to finally face their enemies. Both those coming from the outside, and those raging within.

THE SECRET is the third book in the contemporary fantasy series, the Irin Chronicles, and the conclusion of Ava and Malachi’s journey.


“What are you thinking?” she asked.
He was thinking about Volund’s unexpected ability to invade his unconscious, but he didn’t want to bring it up. Luckily, his mind could turn to pleasant things very quickly when he was with her.
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes. I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t.”
It was true. Ava wasn’t a woman who felt the need to fill the air with chatter. He wondered if years of traveling alone had trained it out of her, or if the constant voices that had once plagued her were company enough.
“I am thinking… you’re very beautiful.”
He loved the slight flush she gave him when he complimented her. It made the offer of his praise all the more satisfying.
“You’re the only one who’s ever said that,” she said.
He was surprised, but not overly. Humans could be very superficial, and Ava’s physical features were not the most astonishing thing about her. Pretty, but not uncommonly so. Clear skin. Dark hair. Her eyes were the most arresting part of her face, but only other Irin would recognize the unusual shade of gold as anything more than light brown or amber. 
No, it wasn’t her physical features that were remarkable. And Malachi loved that only he saw the secret of his mate.
Her beauty lay in her mind and her heart. Quiet strength and resilient humor were not things valued enough by the world.
She gave him a quiet smile.
“You always did that,” she said. “Before. ‘Hmm.’ You’d be thinking something you didn’t want to say, but I knew it was about me when you would say, ‘Hmm.’”
“I often think about you.”
“That’s probably a good thing.”
They were sitting across from each other in the compartment. He put his foot on the edge of the bench beside her, enclosing them. Doing his best to block out the world. Ava set down her camera and slid a hand up his pant leg, her fingers playing along his skin.
“I think about you, too,” she said. “Some would say I’m obsessed.”
“And you take pictures of me when I sleep. I hear the clicking in my dreams. It’s borderline stalker behavior, really.”
“It’s settled then. We’re both certifiable.” 

Don't miss book one and book two:


Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy and romance author. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College in the Department of English (Linguistics) and a former English teacher.

She currently lives in Central California with a seven-year-old ninja who claims to be her child. She enjoys reading, writing, travel, and bowling (despite the fact that she’s not very good at it.) Someday, she plans to learn how to scuba dive. And maybe hang glide. But that looks like a lot of running.

She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Cambio Springs series, and other works of fiction.

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