Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know 
by Shana Galen
Series: Covent Garden Cubs #2
Pub. Date:  Sept. 1, 2015
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

She's beyond his reach...

Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London's dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society's most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

...and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London's glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it's too late. But as she descends into London's underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she's willing to pay...for the love of a reformed thief.

This book made me feel like a snob. And I'm not a snob. At least I don't think I am. Why do I feel like a snob you ask? Well, the main character in this book is not a dashing duke or an enticing earl... he is a thief from Seven Dials. And I found that I was just not as attracted to his character! How horrible is that? Gideon was gentlemanly enough for a thief. He was quite witty and patient, and I liked his personality. But despite all of that, I just couldn't connect with him the way I wanted to. Pity, that.

I also did not realize this was the second book in a series until after I started reading... and I didn't have time to go back and read the first book. While I would not say that its absolutely necessary for you to read the first book, there was A LOT of character overlap. So I would strongly suggest you start with the first book. The series is focusing on a gang from Covent Garden - those who make ends meet by less than honest means. And it seems that each book may follow one of the less fortunate who finds their HEA with a member of the gentry.

In this installment, our titled lady is Susanna, daughter of an earl. Susanna is a society miss who is being absolutely smothered by her over-protective mother. She can't even go to the bathroom by herself! Just when Susanna is at wit's end, she happens upon Gideon breaking into her home and demands that he take her to Vauxhall Gardens. This begins a series of misadventures for the pair which force Susanna and Gideon together into a sort of love-hate relationship. I liked Susanna well-enough, but again I was still feeling snobby because I kept hoping that Gideon was going to turn out to be an undercover earl or missing marquess. I must have been feeling the plight of a distressed damsel when I read this because I was feeling a lack of hero worship. C'est la vie.

I did like the abundance of street slang in this story. Although I had to look up words sometimes to see what they meant, it added something different to the story and I was able to get a picture of these downtrodden people speaking roughly throughout the book. Overall I liked the story and I will continue reading the series - I will just make sure the next time I pick one up, I am not in the mood for a dashing duke to take me away from it all.

As a side note, I liked that the cover accurately represented the couple in the book.  I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Covent Garden Cubs Series

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Under My Skin by J. Kenner

Under My Skin 
by J. Kenner
Series:  Stark International Trilogy #3
Pub. Date:  Sept. 1, 2015
Publisher:  Bantam Books
Pages:  352
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks are back in the powerful finale of a provocative, sizzling-hot new erotic trilogy set in the world of J. Kenner’s beloved Stark novels: Release MeClaim Me, and Complete Me.

He’s the only man I’ve ever loved, and the one man I can’t bear to lose. 

Jackson Steele is my light in this world. Charismatic, bold, and always in control, he knows what he wants and how to get it—and absolutely nothing stands in his way. His hold on me is magnetic, his claim on me complete, his kiss my ultimate escape.

We both harbor dark secrets that could tear our lives apart. Though we’ve tried to bury our pasts, there are certain people who won’t let us forget. But the closer danger comes, the brighter the fire between us burns—our ecstasy consuming and soothing us both.

There’s no telling what lies ahead, but I know that Jackson never gives in without a fight. I’d do anything he wants to keep him safe, give him anything he needs. And now that we’re in deep, nothing can make me run.

Under My Skin is intended for mature audiences.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series. I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

So we start of this installment of the Stark International Trilogy where On My Knees left off with that huge cliffhanger... Robert Cabot Reed has been murdered and Jackson is a suspect. It was one of those "dunh dunh dunh" moments for sure. I really enjoyed this plot conflict, even though I had an idea who did it, it was still interesting to see play out. Same with the resort sabotage... I knew that guy was up to no good!

The relationship between Sylvia and Jackson continues to grow, and they are fully leaning on each other now instead of running out to indulge in their cure-all vices of fighting and fornicating. So I was happy that we got some character growth in that regard. I really like Jackson and Sylvia together. I loved that we had such a great back story on both of them, and I had a strong emotional connection from the get go. However, at this point they are still using sex as a crutch and it just got to be too much for me. Every time something happened, they had to stop and bang it out. Don't get me wrong, I think J. Kenner writes intimate scenes really well, makes them extremely steamy, and I definitely want to see them in the book. I just found myself skimming a lot of them here to get back to the plot conflict.

I have enjoyed this series quite a bit, I only wish I would have finished the original Stark Trilogy before reading this spinoff. This last book especially has some spoilers for the first series. But that's my own fault so I'm not going to complain too much. 

If you are a fan of those super steamy romances, I think you will enjoy this series. The characters are more mature than what you will get in most NA books, but you still have that sultryness that became popular with FSOG. J. Kenner is a good writer and I look forward to more from her in the future.

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Stark International Trilogy

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: On My Knees by J. Kenner

On My Knees 
by J. Kenner
Series:  Stark International Trilogy #2
Pub. Date:  June 23, 2015
Publisher:  Bantam Books
Pages:  320
Format:  eBook
Source:  Purchased

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Jackson Steele and Sylvia Brooks continue to thrill in the second novel of a scintillating, emotionally charged new trilogy that returns to the world of J. Kenner’s beloved Stark novels: Release Me, Claim Me, and Complete Me.
I never thought I’d lose control, but his desire took me right to the edge. 
Powerful, ambitious, and devastatingly sexy, Jackson Steele was unlike any other man I’d ever known. He went after what he wanted with his whole mind, body, and soul—and I was the woman in his sights. One touch and I surrendered, one night together and I was undone. 
Jackson and I had secrets, dark pieces of our pasts that threatened to swallow us both. We couldn’t outrun our demons, or the people trying to tear us apart. But in our passion we found salvation, and in each other’s arms we found release. 
I was scared to trust Jackson fully, to finally let go. Yet no matter the dangers that lay ahead, I knew I was his—and now that we’ve laid claim, there’s no more holding back. 
On My Knees is intended for mature audiences.

This is another one of those books that I really enjoyed, but I don't have a ton to say about it. I hate when that happens.

Jackson and Sylvia are continuing to build their relationship, their very hot and steamy relationship. Secrets continue to trickle out... and they are whoppers. No small secrets in this book. But even though there is some of that off the cuff running away after a secret or fight, I like that the couple is coming back together to talk it out. It shows logic and maturity - something that I find sorely lacking in many new adult books today. (I know this isn't technically NA, but it's close I think.)

Reed, the scumbag, is still the antagonist. After Jackson punched him out in the first book, he gets even more skeezy. I kinda got aggravated at the situation b/c I don't understand why they wouldn't report him for creating and possessing child porn? But I'm trying to go with the flow and see what plays out. I think it sticks out to me because it goes against the reasonable and logical mindsets of Jackson and Sylvia. (And maybe the angst from the NA books is making me think these characters are reasonable just because they act more mature and I'm not used to it? Who knows.)

Anywho, I continue to enjoy this unfolding relationship. I like Jackson and Sylvia together. The couple's tragic pasts have served to create a really strong emotional draw to the characters. Huge cliffhanger at the end... you are warned!

Side note: this book mentions things that happened in Damien Stark's past. If you are like me and have not been able to finish the first series, they may be some spoilers here or you may be lost. I was a little lost myself... so I am motivated to go back and finish the Stark trilogy.

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Stark International Trilogy

My ReviewMy ReviewReview Aug. 30th

Series Saturday Audiobook Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Magic Burns 
by Ilona Andrews
Series:  Kate Daniels #2
Pub. Date:  Jan. 29, 2009
Publisher:  Tantor Audio
Narrator:  RenĂ©e Raudman
Length:  9 hrs 38 min
Format:  Audiobook
Source:  Library / Hoopla

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

Magic Burns is one of my favorite books of the Kate Daniels series. I think its because I loved Bram, he is one of my favorite characters. Bram is somewhat of an antagonist, or anti-hero and his story is wrapped up in the mythology of Morrigan, a Celtic deity. He has a great personality and is just a lot of fun.

This series has so many great secondary characters. We continue getting to know Derek and Saimon (forgive my spelling of names - I never remember how to spell them names when I listen in audio). Derek has matured quite a bit and things are looking up for him in the pack. And Saimon gets drunk on the magic fluctuations and is even more charmingly cheesy than normal.

Curran is now playing a bigger role in the story, and his intentions toward Kate are becoming more clear - you just have to pay attention to recognize them all. I love the byplay between Kate and Curran, they just can't help trying to get a rise out of one another - but its also clear that feelings are developing between the pair.

We are introduced to some new secondary characters in this installment that will continue to play a role in the future. Kate has acquired a ward, Julie, who seems to inspire the protective instinct from everyone she meets (except her boyfriend, Red). The hyenas solidify themselves here as well - and we are introduced to the hilariously flirty Raphael. These are definitely two to keep an eye on in future books.

The bad thing about re-reading a series that you love is that once you start, you just want to keep going. I can't do that right now because I have ARCs on the blog schedule, so these books will be calling to me until the weekend when I can get back to listening.

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Kate Daniels Series