*REVIEW* ~ Dark Horse (Class 5 #1) by Michelle Diener

#spaceopera #scifi  #adventure #romance

I’ve been having a real binge on out of this world romances lately and Michelle Diener’s Dark Horse is just one of the books I’ve read in the sci-fi genre! Thankfully books 2 and 3 in the series, Dark Deeds and Dark Desires have also been released, so I will be able to get my fix of the series in the near future.

The series is considered a space opera – I wasn’t too sure what space opera meant and how it differed from sci-fi but according to Wikipedia it is defined as:

” a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, as well as chivalric romance, and often risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms “soap opera

Dark Horse certainly fits the bill as it has a fair amount of battle and adventure scenes using sophisticated technology, plus a romance between the respective female and male lead. The romance is on the sweet side and the focus is on the female leads and her character development. I really enjoyed the read as Michelle Diener is an accomplished and talented writer, weaving an original plot line with great character development and world building – I particularly liked the focus on AI’s (Artificial Intelligence). The series is certainly one of note for fans of the genre.

dh

Blurb

Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she’s made a powerful ally–a fellow prisoner with whom she’s formed a strong bond. Sazo’s an artificial intelligence. He’s saved her from captivity and torture, but he’s also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn’t know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he’s not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5’s owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn’t the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he’s going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.

My Review ~ 5 stars TOP READ

Superb

Dark Horse is the first instalment in Michelle Diener’s Class 5 series, but also works as a standalone read just as the other books in the series do. The book is a compelling introduction to the series. It is flawlessly written with an original and suspenseful premise and plot, with a strong female lead and a swoonworthy male counterpart, with strong characterisations and world building.

In it, Rose has been abducted from Earth and has been held on an alien ship where she has been treated abominably  by her over inquisitive alien captors, the Tecran. We don’t actually witness the torture she has been subjected to first hand, as by the time we are introduced to Rose, Sazo, an artificial intelligence has taken steps to prevent it happening again. Rose is unexpectedly plunged into a very dangerous situation, when the ship she is incarcerated on confronts a ship of the Grih fleet.  Not only that, but most of the Tecran crew on her vessel are dead and Rose must escape the ship to survive. She manages to escape to the adjacent planet but is then taken by the Grih, headed by Captain Dav Jallan.

Dav would like to trust this human called Rose but fears that she is not being entirely truthful about her part in the Tecran’s demise. The unexplained deaths of the Tecran crew are worrying. Can he trust her or is he putting the fate of his people and the other races in the alliance in danger? On board Dav’s ship Rose is not exactly being held captive but neither is she trusted by some of Dev’s crew and other s in the alliance. In fact her safety could well be compromised if and when she is compelled to reveal what she knows.

The read is full of adventure, suspense and intrigue. I particularly liked the interplay between Rose and the AI Sazo,  how their relationship developed and how it impacted on Dav’s relationship with Rose. Dav’s race the Grih are not unlike humans, apart from being more technologically advanced and I loved how he defended Rose from those from his race who viewed her as just another ‘orange’, his race’s term for a sentient alien being.

Rose is a character to admire. Abducted from her home planet and thrust into a life where aliens are very much a reality, she gives as good as she gets and is very willing to learn and adapt. I enjoyed reading how she grows in stature as the plot develops as she tries to secure a future in her new reality, a future which she only dare hope will include Dav for whom she is developing feelings for. As to Sazo, her saviour, she is compelled to put her trust in him and his agenda. However, Dav’s loyalty is truly torn. Dare he risk his career for a woman who is hiding the truth and whose knowledge could endanger his kind? The fate of Sazo, the AI is closely linked to the couple’s future and the story develops in an unexpected way.

An original read and highly recommended.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25615831-dark-horse?from_search=true

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author

http://www.michellediener.com/

https://www.facebook.com/michelle.diener.author/

 

 

 

**Love the Way You Lie, by Skye Warren** ~ 99c Promotion!

Adult/18+ Read

LovetheWayYouLieSale

If you haven’t read Love the Way You Lie, the first book in the Stripped series by the amazingly talented Skye Warren then you are in for a real treat. You can download this dark, edgy and suspenseful read for 99c from July 13th-17th! I had the good fortune to review an ARC of this book earlier this year and it is other fab addition to the author’s collection of addictive reads featuring dark twisted alpha men and the strong yet fragile women who fall for each other, often in the direst of circumstances.

Love the Way You Lie
by Skye Warren
Stripped #1
Publication Date: March 12, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Dark, Erotic, Romance

Sale: Love the Way You Lie by Skye Warren

AmazonNookiBooks

Loe the Way You Lie by New York Times Bestselling author Skye Warren is on sale for $0.99 from July 13 – 17th. Start the Stripped Series for a bargain today.

Synopsis

A dark romance about the lies that lead us down…

I’ll do anything to get safe, even if that means working at the scariest club in town.

I’ll do anything to stay hidden, even if it means taking off my clothes for strangers.

I’ll do anything to be free. Except give him up. When he looks at me, I forget why I can’t have him. He’s beautiful and scarred. His body fits mine, filling the places where I’m hollow, rough where I am soft.

He’s the one man who wants to help, but he has his own agenda. He has questions I can’t answer. What are you afraid of?

“It’s gritty, edgy, and sexy, served to you in the well-written, absorbing style that Skye is so talented at delivering. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the Stripped series.” – Shameless Book Club

“I LOVED it! Instantly compelling and thrillingly unpredictable, Honor and Kip’s story delivers a jagged, layered and enthralling adventure that weaves darkness and light with precision and purpose.” – the lusty literate

“Wow! I found Love the Way You Lie to be a dark, edgy and suspenseful romance. It’s also addictive, sexy and downright dirty (in the best possible way)!” – Tina, A Reader’s Review Blog

“It’s dark, mysterious, sexy, and I loved every page of it! There were twists and turns that I never saw coming! I love when an author is able to keep me guessing until the very end of the book.” – Book Fancy Book Blog

“Love The Way You Lie was heartwarming, exhilarating and tantalizing with just the right tinge of darkness.” – Warhawke’s Vault

Add to Goodreads

About Skye Warren

Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.

 

**REVIEW** Deception (Dark Alpha #3) (short story) by Alisa Woods

The Dark Alpha short story series by Alisa Woods is proving to be a darker read by the book! And released today, February 16th, is the third instalment of this New Adult, paranormal romance series. Shifter, Jak, is in love with his alpha’s brother’s mate, Arianna. He is betraying everything he knows to be with her, and is now looking for a way to break the unwanted bond she has with her mate, Mace. He is taking a massive gamble, and Arianna is becoming more scared that they will get found out. Will they ever have the chance to be together?

Deception (Dark Alpha 3)Title: Deception (Dark Alpha #3)

Author: Alisa Woods

Genre: New adult, paranormal romance

Date released: February 16, 2015

Publisher: Sworn Secrets Publishing

Length: 60 pages

Blurb: New Adult Paranormal Romance serial

Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City.

Jak has a plan to free Arianna without the witch’s help… but the best laid plans of wolves and men rarely turn out as they hope.

Is love stronger than magic? Or will breaking an unbreakable bond destroy them both?
Deception (Dark Alpha 3) is 60 pages or 15,000 words. It’s the third of six episodes in the Dark Alpha serial.
Adult content. Ages 18+.

REVIEW

This New Adult, paranormal romance series, is becoming darker and darker. Just when we thought that Jak would be able to come to an arrangement with the witches in order for him and Arianna to be rid of her mate, Mace, so that they could be together, he soon realises that it may not exactly go according to plan.

Shifters, Jak and Arianna are in love, but with Arianna being mated to the brother of Jak’s alpha, Gage, it causes more than one problem for Jak. Not only will he have to worry about Mace finding out and killing him and, at the very least harming Arianna, but Jak knows that he has already broken the rules by being with her, and thus gone against his own alpha and pack’s trust. Although they are unaware, if they find out Jak will have a great deal to answer to, as well as feel riddled with guilt.

One of the main conflicts that Jak fights in his mind is his deception to his pack, and pack leader, Gage. Gage has always had a close relationship with him, and accepted him into his pack. They have known each other for a long time, since Jak was quite young. And Jak feels that he is turning his back on the strong friendships he has made, especially with Gage.

There are also many more emotional conflicts as the reader wants Jak and Arianna to be together, but just as the characters do, we fear the outcome. Being mated to Mace against her will, means that Arianna has to follow his rules and obey him. Jak wants to rid Ariana of this meaningless bond, even if it means he doesn’t have the chance to be with her.

Jak feels there is no other way than to break the bond between Mace and Arianna by killing Mace himself. He feels he has no option but to deceive and betray his pack for the one he loves. Arianna, on the other hand, is scared. She knows that Jak will be killed. She feels that it is in their best interests to leave their plans and keep living how they are used to. But then, deep down when Mace mistreats her or she sees Jak, she longs to be with him.

Deception is certainly more focused on Jak and the bond he has with Gage, as well as the psychological struggle he has. The reader gets to know Jak even better and can sympathise with his situation. It is definitely a series you will need to read from the beginning, with Torment (Dark Alpha #1). Paranormal and romance fans will feel the high levels of emotion throughout these episodes and will be left waiting for the fourth, to be released on March 2nd 2015!

A copy of Deception (Dark Alpha #3) was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Deception (Dark Alpha #3) by Alisa Woods is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

You can also check out my first two reviews of the Dark Alpha series, with Torment (Dark Alpha #1) and Pleasure (Dark Alpha #2).

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Charades, by Ann Logan

17801498[1]-001Reviewed by Tina and Caroline (below)

Tina’s Review

High Octane Powered Tale of Love and Deception

Charades, by Ann Logan, is a thrilling tale of love and deception, where no one is who or what they seem. Caught in the centre is an innocent young woman, Mercedes Fuentes. Mercy not only has to face ghosts from her past she did not know existed, but she also has to cope with a man to whom she has given her heart but who betrays her trust.

In Charades, Mercy, whose parents are deceased and who has been sequestered in academia for years, is offered an opportunity she cannot refuse. Her task is to pose as girlfriend to Wulf Rheinhart who needs a fake fiancée for a week to close a business deal. In return, Mercy will receive a large sum of money to pay off much of her student debt.  Although Mercy is shy around men, she is persuaded by Hazel, who was a friend of her mother’s that Wulf will pose no threat as he is an honourable man and she decides to go ahead with the deal.

As soon as Wulf and Mercy meet there is a mutual attraction. Mercy senses that Wulf is a good man and something of a kindred spirit as he appears a little awkward and devoted to his work. She quickly places her trust in him as his non-threatening demeanour disarms her. Once Wulf’s business deal is secured the couple fall in love and Wulf persuades Mercy to accompany him to Germany, to meet his parents.  However, once in Germany, Mercy learns that Wulf is not the man she thinks he is. In fact she discovers that his very mission was to lure her there for another purpose entirely. She soon finds that her very life is on the line and she does not know whom to trust. Her heart tells her one thing but her mind another. Sinister forces are at play in this suspenseful tale that is full of humour, danger, adventure and plenty of romance.

I liked how Mercy’s character grew in strength throughout the novel. When we first meet her she is nervous around men, favouring dowdy clothes that hide her femininity and being prone to panic attacks. We soon learn that this is due to an experience she had when she began her studies. However, once she falls in love with Wulf she gains a lot of confidence and is able to draw on an inner strength to enable her to cope with the many difficult revelations and events which follow. I think that she surprises herself, Wulf and others with what she is capable of. However, she still retains her overall sense of vulnerability, innocence and goodness, which makes her such a likeable heroine for whom the reader wants to see a HEA.

Wulf, the hero, stole the show for me however, as he is such a lovable character. He is uncomfortable with his mission from the onset, more so when he discovers what an innocent he has to deceive. However, he feels compelled to go through with the task, for reasons that I will not divulge as it would spoil the plot. He soon falls for Mercy and rises to the occasion when he realises that she is in very real danger and uses all of his resources to keep her safe.

I loved the growing relationship between the couple, which was beautifully orchestrated. I felt that their courtship was very realistic and the lovemaking scenes sweet, Wulf being a masterful lover who soon overcomes Mercy’s fears and inhibitions. You could really tell that they were destined to be together, despite the difficulties the plot threw at them. I could understand Mercy’s misgivings when she discovers Wulf’s initial deception and other times when he did not put her fully in the picture.  I also felt Wulf’s angst at having to deceive the woman he loves.

There were many other characters in the plot, which transports the reader from the US, to Germany and to Mexico. Of special note is Hazel, who was instrumental in bringing Mercy and Wulf together and Anton, Wulf’s boss and mentor. These characters, in addition to the others, have an interesting back story and are not whom they first appear to be.

I liked the author’s writing style, which I feel gave a good balance of romance, suspense and plot twists which kept me entertained throughout. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy romantic suspense or contemporary romance, where there are strong elements of intrigue, danger and adventure. I would read another book by the author.

 Reviewed by Tina Williams

 Caroline’s Review

‘Charades’ is an absolutely enthralling ride of love and deceipt. The apt title of this novel explains the story very well, as for poor Mercedes Fuentes one charade snowballs into many more, causing an avalanche of confusion and leaving her uncertain of where to turn. Does she remain on this path with her new-found acting fiancé, Wulf Rheinhart, or does she run? This story, characters and plot, become bigger and better as the story moves on. From the beginning when the reader believes that they are reading a contemporary romance the novel unfolds to suspense romance, thriller, crime, action, adventure and espionage.

Mercedes, more familiarly known as Mercy, has hidden herself into a life of academia, building up student loans, in order to avoid the male population. However, when a family friend offers her a chance to pay off most of the loans, Mercy cannot help but take on the offer. Mercy meets with her friend, Hazel, who has a job lined up for her to act as Wulf Rheinhart’s fiancée in order for him to make a huge business deal with his oil company. Wulf feels like he needs to portray himself as a family man and so needs Mercy to act as his fiancée for a week to secure the deal. Over the course of the week, as well as being attracted when they first met, they begin to develop a love interest for each other and, once the deal is done, Wulf takes Mercy to meet with his family in Germany.

Once in Germany, the naïve and shy Mercy discovers that she has a grandfather in Germany that once was an SS Nazi soldier and had stolen a great deal of money from the Jewish population at the time of the Second World War. It is then that she realises that Wulf’s intentions to bring her to Germany were not for the reasons she thought. Wulf has lied to her and deceived her. Now she is in paramount danger with people that seek this enormous amount of money, knowing that she is the granddaughter, with a man  that betrayed her and in a country away from anyone she trusts. On the one hand she could try and run, but where would she end up if she was alone? Her only other option is to stay with Wulf, as even though he has betrayed her, he seems to be the only one that wants her to be kept alive and safe!

I really like the name and the character ‘Wulf’ in Charades. His name sounds heroic, strong, domineering, decisive and exciting. Along with his physical appearance of being tall, rugged and muscular, this makes for a fabulous hero, one of which the readers will adore and he is perfect for the role in which he plays with Mercy. I’m sure any reader would be at his mercy given the chance! The tension between these two characters is brilliant. One can really sympathise with both characters as the reader is given both points of view as the story moves on. On the one hand Wulf has deceived Mercy on many levels by lying to her, mostly for her own safety. However, it is clear that he hates this situation. He longs to be honest with Mercy but can only do so when it is safe, therefore, Mercy only hears the truth in fractions at a time. This also leaves the reader screaming in parts for Wulf to open up more.

The story itself keeps the characters on their toes with espionage, car chases, kidnapping, threats and plenty more action from America, across to Europe, then Mexico and back! Charades is one hell of a ride. The further into the story you read the reader faces more puzzles and confusion. Ann Logan has written in such an exciting manner that the story becomes bigger and bigger. I think it reflects in the novel that Ann has a wide knowledge of visiting different countries and throughout the book there is always a deep sense of family. It definitely rings true to life in some areas as it made me wonder about my extended family and past generations. What did they get up to?

One of the interesting sides this novel has is the growing of Mercy’s character. At the beginning of this novel she was a naïve student, wary of all men and shy. She blossoms as does her relationship with Wulf and towards the end of the Charades Mercy is no longer as naïve as what she was. In the short time she has known Wulf, he has given her an insight into so much, helped her overcome a fear and she finds out how deep some people will go for love. She is now a worldy wiser woman, well aware of her sexiness and attraction and could possibly deal with any scenario she was faced with. As a reader, I found myself feeling proud of her. She is a great heroine.

Charades is definitely a fascinating read. What began as a contemporary romance for me, with love at it’s core and some really passionate sensual scenes, became a fast-paced thriller with a great plot, plenty of action and crime too. This story has it all!!

Charades was received by A Reader’s Review Blog gratefully from the publisher, Book Hub Inc. for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Charades cover art by Bri Bruce

Published by Blue Star Books