Statuesque by Chera Zade and Fanny Mills

Yet more Infernalis fun!

As to be expected from the Infernalis Club books, this was not shy on fun and detail. I’ve been loving all the books in the series so far and, whilst it helps to have some background knowledge of the main characters, it shouldn’t spoil the read if you haven’t yet read any other books in the series.

In this edition, we have young Gillian, currently living with her strict aunt and uncle after her parents died and left her penniless. Being the poor relation, she gets treated as a lesser being, being made to look ugly and unpresentable at balls, so that her cousins (who she also has to wait on) are chosen first.

But, oh, poor Gillian doesn’t know what she’s in for one evening, when deciding to confine herself to her rooms rather than put up with her family’s demands. Sneaking out of her room so she can hear the music better gets herself into more trouble than she ever expects, after discovering a rather delicious gentleman engaged in acts she couldn’t even dream of!

Yet Gillian, even upon discovering the Infernalis Club after deciding to follow the carriage of the one who taught her a lesson, is kept perfectly intact, apart from the severe bottom bruising. Lord Standish, ever inventive, finds a way of allowing her to participate whilst allowing her to keep her precious flower… Although, we all know that that’s unlikely to last for long!

Great fun with plenty of heat, it should keep you panting for more!

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free digital ARC via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Back to September by Melissa Brayden

Romance not necessarily at its best

There were many brilliant moments inside this, but just as many terrible ones. To start with, a book about books should be exciting, especially with people who absolutely love books and reading, and share that as much as possible. All the geeky stuff, the shared knowledge to help people find their “perfect book match”. That was wonderful. It was the romance aspect that let this all down.

One thing I found difficult to handle was that there was more than one “high” point. We have everything going brilliantly, switching to things fading out, switching to things going fantastically brilliantly again (eked out so far that it became boring), up to things going dramatically badly, but ending with an HEA. I’m sure huge chunks of this could have been cut out, as it’s not the idea that the reader gets bored in the middle. So the dramatic part (which didn’t feel so dramatic), which is supposed to hit at two thirds, actually felt like it came late.

The HEA, once it finally did come (after we had a fake HEA before that) was a great ending. It’s just the journey to there that was far too messy for my tastes.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

*I received a free digital ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Feline The Heat by Lacey Carter Andersen, L.A. Boruff, and Laura Greenwood

Too much fun!

Ooooh, now this one happened to hit me in just the right way. I mean, naked firemen? Who don’t notice you ogling because you’ve shapeshifted into a cat? Ha! And best of all, because your changing into a cat is part of a curse, they don’t even notice that you’re a shifter!

This was extremely fun, funny, with definite laugh-out-loud moments, but also with a bit of seriousness. And of course, Callie wanting to find out the source of her curse and if someone can fix it is most definitely going to get her into trouble, whether she’s in cat or human form. Let alone the firemen who have taken a very definite liking to her, in both forms!

With an interesting little mini cliffhanger, this is definitely going to be a series to follow.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free digital ARC via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Ghosted by Chera Zade and Fanny Mills

Yes and no

Cover

OK, I will start by saying that understand some people’s POVs that there is “slut shaming” going on, but it is hardly done in a way that’s completely derogatory. The girls say it of themselves, to further excite themselves. In this context, I have no problem with it.

My actual issues with this was that it, for me, wasn’t concrete enough. The storyline itself was quite flimsy, with the sex scenes not quite as hot as I’ve come to expect from a Zade-Mills combo. This incredibly short story was fun in its way, but could have been so much more.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Hammers, Strings, and Beautiful Things by Morgan Lee Miller

Hard hitting

I was drawn to this book first by a GR friend’s review, then by the beautiful cover and finally the description. I expected much from it, yet it has to come with some warnings – the alcohol and drug abuse is written so well, that you can feel the pain coming from all sides.

I guess, even with knowing that, I hadn’t expected it to be so hard hitting. Blair might seem to come off as quite selfish, as she sinks into despair, but the truth is she’s been trying to handle anxiety and depression in an extreme way. None of her friends have any real understanding of what she’s going through, placing the blame firmly on her side, which in the beginning just makes things worse. It takes her hitting rock bottom to truly be able to find a way out, whilst completely leaving her on her own once more.

This book shows the price of fame, whilst also showing humanity at its best and worst. Whilst I can be disappointed at the reaction of the side characters to Blair’s condition, it wasn’t at all surprising considering general opinions of addiction. The only way out is with support and help, which she was forced to find herself.

Running along behind all this is the romance element. Blair opens herself up to someone new, but neither is truly able to handle all of it until she’s clean. Luckily there is a HEA to be found behind all the drama and destruction, as things pull good in the end. But considering how hard won it is, I am surprised that Blair doesn’t have any bitterness towards those that let her down whilst she was letting herself down.

For me, I did find it well written, as well as enjoyable and relatable. The only thing I personally didn’t like was the awkwardness of some of the sex scenes. They didn’t always flow as well as the rest of the book did.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free digital ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Big City Billionaires Box Set by Michele de Winton

Even billionaires need love

I’m a little bit behind in my reviewing, due to having been sick. So luckily I had lots of books, light reads, to keep me company, including this one. Each story is reviewed individually below.

Valentine’s Vengeance

This first story I recognised as I’d already read it as part of the  Happily Ever Alpha box set. It was the story that first introduced me to Michele de Winton’s writing and drew me in to read more of her works, eventually landing me right back at the beginning.

I absolutely loved the story when I first read it. I must admit, I wasn’t as in to the “OMG” overreacting stuff this time around, but the story as a whole still really appealed to me and I eventually found that I enjoyed it as much as the first time around.

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

Love Stuck

Sass is pretty much awesome. Alternative, knows who she is and what she wants. Yet it appears to unsettle her first ever client as an independent stylist. Unsettle him in more ways than one.

Seriously good fun, back and forth, with a not-so-easily-won HEA. MdW definitely knows how to write drama!

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

Lady Boss

This was my absolute favourite of the series, and that had nothing to do with the lady being the billionaire this time around. It’s a great twist, sure, as there should be more stories with a powerful woman leading them, instead of it always being the man who has all the money and power. Better still, it detailed obstacles that needed to be overcome for the woman to become the powerhouse.

But, what I loved most about this was the detailed descriptions, of places visited, of the flight. I was really into the story, much further than most easy-read stories take me. Truly a hidden gem.

Rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn’t put it down

Bonus Story: Fighting for Freya

I was quite happy to see a continuation to the Hot Tide series and all the characters I was familiar with from it, especially a story for Holokai, the apparent “more interested in surfing than girls” guy. With someone there who actually gets under his skin, he does relax more. But the big shame that came with this story is that, for me, it was too short. There were too few words to give depth to the story, so it ended up as an unfortunate disappointment rather than the huge Holo victory that it should have been.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

Overall, a great, quick-read boxset that will leave you hanging for more.

Final rating (rounded to the nearest number): ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Death’s Choice by Laura Greenwood

Another great Paranormal Council standalone.

This is another standalone set within the greater Paranormal Council universe. It’s quite an interesting universe, as the magic within it works in a specific way, whether they be necromancers, witches, or shifters. Living within the human realm comes with its many dangers, but the characters here manage to adapt and find their place within it.

Kali is a necromancer whose job is to kill whoever her guild assigns her to. Unlike some of her peers, she doesn’t actually relish in the killing part at all. So when she receives an assignment to protect instead of kill, she is all for it, especially when it brings certain men into her sphere who turn out to be far more than they seem. Kali adapts well to the new situation, loving the fact that she doesn’t have to kill. Well, not on order, anyway – only to protect. She makes some good friends, and even stronger enemies, in her new life.

The characters have interesting dimensions to themselves, and some are more accepting of the unchangeable situation than others. Most notably, jealousy, until it becomes obvious that the emotion is completely pointless. The dynamic once she has found all three of her mates becomes really interesting, although one of them should have been expected, really.

I was actually slightly disappointed that the “clause” wasn’t used to protect Kali, like expected, instead of the more extreme setting, but all works out well in the end.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Unicorn Truth by Laura Greenwood and L.A. Boruff

A too-soft ending

This final book in the Valentine Pride trilogy was a little bit of a let-down, especially after the “wow” of the second book in the series. I’m not quite sure what it was, but it felt like it was not as “solid” as the second book.

Yes, there was big drama in the book, that needed to be resolved – who was truly behind the Pride murders and the murder of Leola’s parents? I was expecting it to be more dramatic, but it felt a bit too rushed and somewhat disconnected.

I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole. Seeing Leola as a mother and a mate was great. The sex scenes weren’t as good as in the previous two books, though, but the interaction between the main characters was still good enough, as well as the introduction of April from the other short story in this series. Yet overall it was definitely lacking somewhere. Maybe I’ve read too many of these books of late, but whatever the reason, it was still a somewhat disappointing end to the series.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Reluctant Dragon Mate by Laura Greenwood

Stubborn Dragons!

Yep, you heard that right – this book contains one very stubborn dragon, who is so caught up in his own world and what he believes a so-called prophecy might actually mean for him, that he refuses to see what’s right under his nose.

His “distraction” he found by accident on a Paranormal dating app, a distraction in the form of a witch called Dakota. She works out quite quickly that there is more to this dragon than meets the eye, but this damned stubborn dragon just refuses to play ball.

A quite fun back and forth ensues, before both finally accept what their fate actually means.

My only disappointment is that the book description doesn’t completely match the content – we are led to believe that it’s Achilles business that’s the reason he’s holding back, but we barely hear anything about that at all! Anyway, despite this little niggle, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

The Platypus and Her Wolves by Laura Greenwood and L.A. Boruff

A platypus shifter?! Rarer than unicorns!!

This was a nice, fun, quick-burn short read, based in the Valentine Pride universe.

The shifters on the mountain have been looking for lone shifters living amongst the human population, monitoring for strange web searches, to try and bring them back to the pride and their families, where they belong. One of these shifters is April. Her adoptive parents are unaware of her shifter capabilities, so she’s been trying hard to find others like her. When a pack of three male wolf shifters suddenly appear on her doorstep ready to give her all the answers she’s been looking for, plus turning out to be her fated mates, suddenly she’s not so sure if she’s ready to give up the human world that she’s lived in for so long.

This is quite an interesting story, with a platypus shifter! Well, I guess the paranormal universes allow for any type of shifter you may be able to dream of, but this is the first platypus that I’ve come across. Unusual animals, once believed by Victorian scientists to be a “fake”, like many other samples that had returned their way, this animal is unusual in more ways than one. And what I do love is that this story played upon that.

Quite a nice addition to the universe.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*