Alpha’s Blood by Renee Rose and Lee Savino

Fun yet predictable read

I haven’t read any other books in the Bad Boy Alphas series, Midnight Doms neither, yet it’s not necessary – this book certainly works as a standalone and, as far as I’m aware, all the other books in the two intertwined series do, too.

We start off with a slave auction, where wolf shifters are set to be auctioned off to a vampire master. They’re known as “sweetbloods”, generally for the fact that adrenaline makes their blood taste sweeter, and with shifters, it’s apparently more potent. These slaves are either forced, or are sold off by their families. They receive training, to make sure that they can please their new masters, but this one female wolf is neither a slave, nor truly willing.

Selene has been trained in warfare since the massacre of her family, and trained in submission since she turned twenty-one, by a vampire who apparently wants to help her get back at the vampire who conducted the slaughter: the Vampire King. Her goal – to be bought by the King, so she may have a chance to end his life in turn. Although things don’t quite go as planned, and her attraction to this vampire means that she’s going to have a hard time fulfilling her half of the bargain.

So then, enter Lucius, the infamous Vampire King. He knows something is up when he’s not only enticed towards the auction, which he isn’t particularly a fan of, but is shown a werewolf that is just to his tastes. She reminds him of someone, so of course he presumes it’s a trap. Yet how can he possibly resist? And how can he tame this defiant she wolf, so unafraid of him?

There’s plenty of fun back and forth. Indeed, the training sessions are as steamy as they are fun. Selene is so stubborn, yet can’t resist the lure, each new scene bringing something unexpected to her, despite her previous training.

Yet, somehow, once they appear to “fall in love”, things start to fizzle out, as they both start to settle and become “domesticated”. There’s a twist, which can be seen coming a mile off, and the ending is pretty unsurprising. Once you get into the final third, apart from a couple of little pieces, it becomes quite predictable.

Although, despite the ending, it was still a thoroughly enjoyable read. Maybe I will pick my way through the rest of the two series…

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

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

Before. After. Always. by Morgan Lee Miller

Potential not seen through

I picked this book up as I absolutely loved the previous book I read by this author. And this book had so much potential! The beginning of this book had me hooked yet, somehow along the way, I started to be less engaged. By the end, instead of feeling elated at the immense HEA, I just felt disappointed.

I’m unsure what went wrong. I mean, long-term effects of PTSD is a thing and therapy doesn’t always help with completely taking away the anxiety and panic attacks, although it should help in easing them. Especially after a certain amount of time has passed. Eliza most definitely doesn’t have CPTSD (Complex PTSD), as that, as its name suggest, is a far more severe form of PTSD, caused by years of repeated trauma in childhood. Yet Eliza has never moved on from a severely traumatic event when she was eighteen (now being thirty-one). She’s achieved so much, is accomplished in so many ways, yet part of her is still stuck in the past. It is certainly possible, but for someone who is so strong in other ways, it’s not necessarily a hundred-percent believable. It’s not to say that otherwise strong and accomplished people do not have panic attacks and suffer from anxiety, but long-term PTSD is usually so debilitating that it prevents you from pushing yourself as much as you otherwise would, strong or not.

Then there’s Blake, broken in her own ways, still sore after losing her brother. She just gets on with things, only breaking down at the anniversary of his death. Yet she is still hung up about a bad breakup with a long-term girlfriend, from about the same time ago as Eliza. Blake has had a few short-term flings, but nothing serious in recent years, happy with that even if she does eventually want more. Eliza has barely dated at all since the accident, just going through the motions a few times hoping to find a spark.

How these two come together, through the understanding of loss, is cute. And when they eventually decide to call each other their “girlfriend”, that’s cute too. Yet their strange bout of miscommunication, not understanding each other, that wasn’t. Every relationship goes through it at some point, yet it was the lack of communication between the two that left me banging my head. They’re both stuck in their own world with their own fears, and neither wants to tell the painful truth of why they’re hurt. It takes yet another traumatic event to bring the two back together again.

I guess that parts of the story felt slow. Other parts felt predictable. Then there were little bits of repetition. Tension is good, but even the tense parts didn’t feel tense enough. I still had moments of rooting for both of them, with their slow progress towards going further in their relationship, yet something was still missing. I wish I could be less vague, but sometimes a book just doesn’t click.

All in all, not a bad read, but not as great as I was hoping.

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

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

Secrets and Suitors by Joanna Barker

Beautiful

Typical me, I’m behind on my reviewing again! Yet this one sticks in the mind plenty enough for me to still be able to give my thoughts and opinions on it.

I will start by saying that I usually avoid Regency romances as, quite like contemporary billionaire romances, they can be unrelatable, reading more like a fantasy world. The description and the cover sucked me in on this one and, I am relieved to say, that the writing made the story relatable. The characters felt real, fragile yet headstrong, each with their own unique characteristics.

It is hard to understand from a modern perspective a time period where men, particularly the heads of the family, very much had a final say in anything that women did. Despite having read so much, I’d hate to live without my modern freedoms. Yet here we have a young lady who is willing to test her father’s resolve so she can marry the man she loves, rather than the one that may give her the greatest comforts.

We have a great main character, accompanied by a slew of side characters who make the story even more colourful. I especially like the Countess – quiet and calculating, with a great sense of duty, but with an even greater sense of humour.

All in all, I have to say that I’m very glad that I picked this up!

Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn’t put it down

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