Ogre King by Chera Zade and Fanny Mills

No time for monstering

As should be expected from the Zade/Mills combo, this is a very short short story. Although I should have reigned in my expectations, I still expected more from this.

The book is split into two parts, where we first hear the Ogre King Ugrort’s POV, who deliberately gets himself captured, and then the Princess Eleta’s POV, who had already been fantasising about “green monsters” before she even heard that there were ogres in the dungeon.

This ends on a cliffhanger, so obviously set up for the next book in the series. But, in this first part, the two lovers-to-be (as it’s obviously going to go that way) don’t even meet! It is all steamy enough in what does actually happen, including a consensual sexual “treatment” that the princess receives from the court physician. But far more is needed, and the second book isn’t even available as of yet!

I would have been much happier for a complete story, instead of these bits, but considering that the book isn’t published anymore, I doubt that we’ll ever get a conclusion.

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

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

Forgotten Gods: The Complete Series by Laura Greenwood

Ups and downs

This is a series based on Egyptian Gods coping with living in the modern world. Each book in this box set is reviewed individually below.

Book 1: Protectors of Poison
Serket has been hiding for years, pretending to be the human, Sera. She moves around a lot, so not to create suspicion on the fact that she ages extremely slowly. She’s quite happy to have left her old life behind, despite her waning power, but nothing lasts forever.

Serket just happens to be the God of Poisons, her animal form being a scorpion. She’s quite far away from her many scorpions, when it appears someone is not only trying to wipe her out, but has managed to use her scorpions to fix a crime onto her…

This, unfortunately, ended with no full conclusion. I was a bit stumped by the ending. The story itself was full of lots of promise, which didn’t pan out fully. I still enjoyed it overall, though, just not as much as if it were complete.

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

Book 1.5: Priestess of Truth
I actually read and rated this book before, which can be found here. Unfortunately, the reread didn’t make me feel any better about the book.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

Book 2: Daughter of the Sun
Sekhmet is the Goddess of Vengeance. She has been cursed by her father, Sun God Ra, and has been trapped inside a sphinx for millennia. Yet, her father wants to find her again, not to apologise for the years she’s been trapped, but to gain her help in stopping the God of Chaos, Seth. Yet, her freedom has a caveat – no blood-blind vengeance…

She is encouraged, throughout the story, to embrace her alter-ego, Bastet. A surprise romance somehow manages to calm her fiery side, bringing her closer to peace than she’s been in many years.

And, of course, she finds out the truth about the curse and why she has been “disabled”…

Unfortunately, this is another story with no true progression or resolution. It was enjoyable, but the ending left me disappointed again.

Rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

Book 3: Servant of Chaos
This story follows Rhodopis, one of Seth’s slaves. It is loosely based on the legend, which is a kind of Cinderella story (and, according to Wikipedia, the earliest known variant of this). She has some power within the household, yet is unable to escape – anyone caught escaping is brutally beaten, even killed. Anyone even daring to anger Seth in even the smallest way can be subject to this fate. As the God of Chaos he, of course, likes nothing better than upsetting people and causing mayhem. Yet Rhodopis tries to keep the peace as much as possible, encouraging the other slave girls to follow the rules and not stand out. Unfortunately, she cannot save them all…

Rhodopis herself is saved when she attracts the attention of one of the party of a visiting dignitary. Yet she knows that any brief moment of escape will only make the following years of torture worse.

This has a loose ending and no true resolution. Rhodopis knows she’ll never be free from Seth, so how is that an ending, trying to “pretend” that everything will be OK? Or, at least, that’s how it seemed.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

Conclusion:
What’s most annoying about these books is that they don’t actually follow on from each other. There are snippets that you believe should, with hints of things to come in the previous books, yet there’s no story arch at all! I had expected at least some reference between books two and three, at the most, considering this one defining factor is mentioned. Yet, there is nothing. It’s a real shame, as each story has such an incomplete ending, that it would have been so much better if the stories were linked in some way. I should be rating the series lower than the average of 3.5, but I’ll round it up as it was still good in places.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

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

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.*

Four Bodies in Space by Luna Harlow

Agatha Christy in Space

This book started full of a truckload of well-worn clichés, making it read like Agatha Christy in space. The first murder, particularly. The first two chapters were just cringe worthy with their typical set up. But, instead of the infamous Hercule Poirot appearing to analyse the scene, we have the Spock-like Solaris.

Luckily this character is partly what eventually made the book interesting. Once I got past all of the clichés bouncing from each wall, there was a reasonable story there waiting, with a handful of well-written characters, in between further clichés. It was enough for me to eventually ignore the continuing clichés, and not cringe too much at the ending, to actually enjoy the story.

Solaris is analytical, but has a curiosity that makes her occasionally dance across the line towards insubordination. Good job that others find her intriguing enough to let her misdemeanours pass, especially considering that she appears to lead them in the right direction towards solving the puzzle.

This Poirot-Star Trek cross is good fun, if you can cope with all the clichés (I hope my continued mention of clichés doesn’t turn into a cliché). There’s enough there that I’d definitely be happy to continue the series.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Priestess of Truth by Laura Greenwood

Expected more

Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed with this. I love Egyptian mythology and am definitely interested in this universe of “Forgotten Gods”, where the Egyptian Gods still exist, hidden away from non-believers. For that, I definitely want to read further in this series. But this book itself wasn’t a very good representative of what’s to come.

The biggest problem came in the lack of detail and depth, in the scenes, in the characters. We see a priestess being encouraged to find her soulmate, but the two barely meet, and there is barely any interaction at all. There’s not enough to really gain an interest in the characters, being as the story is so short that it barely covers the minimum of details.

If this was a bit longer, it could have been so much more. We need to see more of the characters in order to truly be able to connect with them. There needs to be more background and history on the characters, too, so we can understand how they got to this point, of being pushed towards each other.

All in all, not a terribly bad short story, but not a great one either.

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

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.*

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.*

Unicorn Luck by Laura Greenwood and L.A. Boruff

Moving up a notch!

This is a great second book to the series. Although, it was a bit confusing at first, as there was a ten-year jump at the end of the first book, which meant that this book goes “back in time” to straight before the jumping epilogue (I am aware that this has now been corrected and that there is a new epilogue).

But, in this book, we get far more dynamic, far more character development, most notably from Leola. She is forced to confront an element of her past that she was too young to remember. The decisions she makes based around this show how much she has grown in just the few weeks that she’s been around the shifters.

We are introduced to a few new characters, who just add to the fun. And, of course, the relationship between Leola and her three lions is just growing!

Lots of fun, love, and sex in this book. A great continuation to the story.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked