**REVIEW** JAXSON (River Pack Wolves #1) by Alisa Woods

You may remember our reviews of Alisa Woods True Alpha and Dark Alpha short story series from earlier in the year. Now she has returned with a full length novel New Adult paranormal romance shifter series, River Wolves Pack, with the first being released this week, Jaxson.

Jaxson (River Pack Wolves 1) - New Adult Paranormal RomanceTitle: Jaxson (River Pack Wolves #1)

Author: Alisa Woods

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

Date released: September 5th, 2015

Published by: Sworn Secrets Publishing

Length: 167 pages

Blurb: Three brothers. Three Secrets. One hope to save the shifters of Seattle.
Former SEAL Jaxson River would give his life for his brothers and his pack, but if he doesn’t claim a mate soon, he’ll be forced to step down as their alpha. There’s only one problem: Jaxson’s dark secret would kill any mate he claimed. With someone kidnapping shifters off the street—and only Jaxson and his brothers, Jace and Jared, to stop them—now is not the time for his secret to come out.

Curvy Olivia Lilyfield is a half-witch orphan with a dark secret of her own. She wants to atone for it by doing good in the world, so when she finds a wolf being tortured in an alley, she doesn’t hesitate to help… even though wolves and witches mix like matches and TNT.

Olivia’s dangerous magic means she can’t let anyone get too close—but Jaxson can’t keep his hands off her, and his kisses are more than she can resist. As they race to save the disappearing shifters of Seattle, the true danger lies in loving each other. They’re playing with magical fire… and their secrets could end up destroying them both.

Jaxson is a complete novel with HEA, the first in the River Pack Wolves trilogy (Jace and Jared coming soon).

Contains scorching shifter sex, alpha military heroes, and sexy witches. Only readers over 18 should dive into the deliciously hot world of the River brothers.

REVIEW ***** (5* RATING)

I couldn’t wait to get my paws on Alisha Woods‘s latest NA paranormal romance release, Jaxson. After reading the authors other works in this genre, True Alpha and Dark Alpha short story series, and loving every minute of them, I knew I would jump straight into the River Pack Wolves with excitement.

Jaxson is a full length novel told from both Jaxson and Olivia’s point of view. I probably love novels written in this manner best of all as this allows the reader to empathise with more than one character, which can explain their behaviour and actions. The story really flows at a good pace and has a great mix of romance, magic and action.

Jaxson is leading the River pack, trying to find out just who is kidnapping shifters off the street. Many shifters do not return, while some others have come back, but they are not the same as they were when they went in. It’s as if some of their inner magic has been taken. It is up to Jaxson and his brothers, Jared and Jace to ensure the safety of shifters before there aren’t many left to take. For this, the River pack need a good, strong leader. To become stronger still, it would be advantageous for Jaxson to be mated. The magic bond that is created between a shifter and his female mate is like no other. And, it would fare well if they had little ones as they too would be strong and healthy, being born into mated, bonded parents.

However, Jaxson has a secret, but now is not the time to tell his pack. They need him. At least to see out the attack on shifters. But, the truth is that he can’t mate. He was cursed by a witch, meaning anytime he went to take a mate, one bite would kill them!

Olivia Lilyfield is not having a great time. After walking out of her job, not wanting to adhere to her boss, and wanting to get into the thick of things with her reporting, she is left jobless and in debt. After meeting Jaxson in a sticky situation, she finds herself drawn to him. It isn’t too long before he realises her situation, and, being equally attracted to her in both his human side and inner wolf, he reaches out and offers her a steady job with good pay. How could she say no? Here is this HOT shifter offering her what she needs.

It is quite clear to the reader just how intensely attracted they are to each other. And the physical closeness that Jaxson has to Olivia at times really do turn the heat up. The passion is practically burning, it is so hot. However, after becoming so close to Jaxson, and unaware of his secret curse, Olivia realises that she couldn’t possibly be his mate – he needs to mate with a female shifter, to be an even stronger alpha and lead his pack.

They become so close that Jaxson confides in her. He also airs his concern of the missing shifters and that he needs to remain alpha at least while they deal with this problem. Working together, Olivia has a plan which will help Jaxson keep his secret a little longer, keeping his family from pressurising him, help build stronger allies with other local shifter packs and allow him the time to deal with the current disturbances, which Jaxson strongly feels are set up by the government and allowing the experimenting on the shifters.

These characters are certainly in love, and very passionate. But, to Olivia, it still couldn’t work out between them, especially now. For she also has something that she hasn’t told him; she is half-witch. On finding this out, surely he would go crazy, for it was a witch who had cursed him. Even if her were to listen, wolves and witches do not mix well together. She doesn’t practice magic, but would he believe her? And, after having an ‘accident’ with her magic years ago, could she even trust herself to be with him? Surely she was dangerous?

Readers will be treated to a story where love, romance, heat, action and magic all come together in Jaxson. You’ll be gripped from the beginning, rooting for a HEA, and constantly questioning how each of them are going to overcome their problems, their fears, and their love.

A copy of Jaxson was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Jaxson (River Pack Wolves #1) by Alisa Woods is now available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

You can also check out our reviews of Alisa Woods’s True Alpha and Dark Alpha series:-

Desired (True Alpha #1) – short story

Guarded (True Alpha #2) – short story

Hunted (True Alpha #3) – short story

Captured (True Alpha #4) – short story

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5) – short story

Claimed (True Alpha #6) – short story

A True Alpha Christmas – novella – stand alone short story

Torment (Dark Alpha #1) – short story

Pleasure (Dark Alpha #2) – short story

Deception (Dark Alpha #3) – short story

Escape (Dark Alpha #4) – short story

Penance (Dark Alpha #5) – short story

Loved (Dark Alpha #6) – short story

**RELEASE REVIEW** Lotus (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part I by C.J. Pinard

This week we welcome the release of a new paranormal series, beginning with C.J. Pinard‘s LOTUS. Lotus is one of four ‘daughters of darkness’, with the other three daughters being written about by authors Chrissy Peebles, Kristen Middleton and W.J. May. Today we review Lotus’s Journey Part I, while we eagerly await the second part – due out at the end of October!

Lotus daughter of darkness pt 1

Title: Lotus (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part I

Author: C.J. Pinard

Genre: Paranormal mystery, crime, thriller

Release date: September 6th, 2015

Length: 51 pages

Blurb:

4 authors will each take a different daughter born from the Prince of Darkness, Vlad Montour. (Also known as Vlad the Impaler, an evil villain from history).

Blair – Chrissy Peebles
Jezebel – Kristen Middleton
Victoria – W.J. May
Lotus – C.J. Pinard

The Daughters of Darkness is a series of female heroines who may or may not know each other, but all have the same father, Vlad Montour.

Lotus
Don’t let the pretty name fool you. This daughter is no delicate flower.

Lotus grew up orphaned. Having no idea who her real parents were, she’s been drifting around the U.S. for over 100 years moving every 15 years or so since she just doesn’t seem to age. She’d figured out on her own that she had to be at least part vampire, as she needs to suck on a few blood bags a month to survive.

Working as a detective with the Denver P.D., Lotus is searching desperately for a serial killer who is murdering the homeless of the city. Except these are not ritualistic or thrill killings. These victims have been drained of blood and Lotus knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they have been committed by a vampire.

Her search will take her to Las Vegas, and that is where the true adventure will begin, when she finds out who has been searching for her.

This is part I of Lotus’s journey. Part II will be out in late October 2015.

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

Lotus’s Journey is a fantastic combination of the paranormal, mystery and crime. This is a talent of C.J. Pinard that is also shown in her Enchanted Immortals series and Rebel Riders series. It is the darkness of the vampires and the eerie mystery of the crime/s that build up a great atmospheric sense and truly captivate the reader until the end.

Lotus Arden Smith is half vampire and half faery. Her human detective partner, Stephan, has no idea that she isn’t human. It is her half faery, she suspects, that allows her to walk around in the daylight, and provides her with the need to eat ‘normal’ food, as well as to suck on the occasional blood bag.

The story opens up at a murder scene, and from this very beginning an unpleasant atmosphere has been created as the author describes the scene of a warehouse in which the homeless human has died. Lotus’s senses are sharp, just as a vamp, and her sense of smell is no exception. The description of the stench is very real as the reader can almost smell the putrid stink. But, Lotus can also smell more than this – cologne, possibly belonging to the killer.

We learn that this is the fifth body found with a similar MO; a homeless human drained of blood, and Lotus is aware of the puncture marks on the victim’s neck. Stephan is aware they have a serial killer on their hands, but doesn’t notice the puncture wounds, and is unaware of the supernatural. But, Lotus is only too certain that it is the work of a vampire.

“The body was decaying, and therefore, beginning to wrinkle and prune, but that did not stop me from seeing the two faded puncture wounds in the victim’s neck. They’d never had the chance to heal since the dumbass vampire killed his victims immediately after feeding. If he was smart, he’d let them live for a few minutes, hypnotize them into forgetting about it, let their body heal – and then kill them. Then the puncture wounds would be gone. But no, this jackass was either very new or very, very stupid. My guess was a combination of both.”

There is an eerie moment as Lotus becomes aware that someone has been following her. Someone is outside the window of her third floor apartment. And she is certain it is a vamp due to their speed and height from the ground. As she goes to investigate further, forgetting her nakedness, she loses them and after an awkward, and comical moment for the reader, Lotus goes back inside.

This scene, along with mentions of her hot, muscled, blue-eyed neighbour, Drew, creates some refreshing, lighter moments. I love his character. Lotus enjoys a tiny flirting moment with him here and there, but knows that she cannot get involved. Although, I am secretly hoping this can change!

The darkest aspect of the story for me is the evil, vampire character, Vlad Montour, Lotus’s father. Lotus never met her parents, was brought up in foster homes, and has the sense to look after herself. After all, who else will? Believing her mother died, possibly at the hands of her father, she knows she’ll never get to know her mother. When she starts dreaming of her father beckoning to her she experiences an eerie, surreal feeling which both excites her and frightens her; excited at the prospect of finally meeting him, but fear of what he may say or do.

After another killing, the same smell of cologne and an almost face-to-face confrontation Lotus decides she needs to track the killer down alone. The one lead she has to go on is the cologne, but that’s not a likely lead for her partner, Stephan, who isn’t even aware of the scent. Lotus takes a vacation to Las Vegas after finding out a source, and once there she begins to get ready for action.

“I slid on the soft leather pants and a loose top, finally throwing on the leather jacket over it. I had attached my Lotus body holster under my jacket. Finding my ‘special’ handcuffs in my bag. I folded them and shoved them into the tiny canvas cuff holder I wore on my belt. Those and the gun had been fun getting through security at the airport…”

The first part of Lotus’s Journey leaves you on a cliff-hanger that you won’t want to wait to read. The good news is that part II will be released at the end of October!

A copy of Lotus’s Journey Part I was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Lotus (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part I by C.J. Pinard is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**Release day & REVIEW** SOUL RELEASE (Rebel Riders #3) by C.J. Pinard

C.J. Pinard has triumphed again with this fantastic fantasy paranormal romance series, Rebel Riders. Soul Release is the third and final instalment of this brilliant urban fantasy, and is released today! I am sorry to see the end of this series as it had me gripped from the beginning to end. The way it is written, the atmosphere created, the flawed characters and general adventure, with mystery, suspense and romance, has certainly made this a 5* read that I hope many of you will enjoy!

Soul Release - Rebel Riders 3Title: Soul Release (Rebel Riders #3)

Author: C.J. Pinard

Genre: Paranormal romance, urban fantasy

Release date: August 26th, 2015

Length: 163 pages

Blurb: His heart wants love. His mind craves revenge. His soul needs peace.

Faced with the horrible reality that he’s been tricked by Eva, Nolan sets off in a mad rage to find the evil red-haired succubus and end her once and for all. When the search for her falls flat, he turns to Kovah and the Rebel Riders for help. Not only fueled by wrath, a now sudden fear and sadness has also overtaken his heart: Where is his love, Charity?

With Joel Reichert searching deep for what the Justice Department knows about the supernatural of New Orleans, he’s not going to be of any help to Nolan – especially once Nolan finds out what Kovah and the Riders are planning for Joel and his hotel of vampires.

Can they all work together to find Charity and rid Louisiana of her evil succubus sister once and for all? Or will pride, egos, and longstanding feuds and hatred tear them all apart before she can be found?

Find out in this third and final instalment of the Rebel Riders Series.

Buy links:

 

REVIEW 5* rating

Wow! What a ride of adventure, mystery and action has C.J. Pinard taken us on? The Rebel Riders series has been one of the most gripping urban fantasies I have read in a long time! The atmosphere created in all three books is amazing. I love the darkness, the eeriness, the mystery and suspense as we hope that there is a way for Nolan to end the life of the red-headed succubus twin sister of his girlfriend, who has taken his soul and left him neither human or vamp, but somewhere in between the two.

The series has become darker still, with Eva, the succubus, kidnapping her twin sister, Charity, and then pretending to be Charity, trying it on with Nolan in order to completely take his whole soul for good. The reader’s suspense will grow to a great height during these early scenes of the story, as we all hope that Nolan can see through Eva’s treachery.

The opening paragraphs of the very first chapter are very informative as we follow an old vampire businessman, Joel Reichert, as he tries to find out more about the Justice Department’s BSI (Bureau of Supernatural Investigation). Joel has been around a long time, but has only now learned of the department’s existence after talking with Nolan. These paragraphs also are a great way to recap readers of the previous books, and I love how the author does this at the same time as moving the story forward. This is just the onset for a suspenseful first chapter!

“After his meeting with succubus victims, Nolan and Kovah, he (Joel) had learned that the federal government had their very own branch of the Justice Department whose sole purpose was to monitor people like him – vampires – along with the other supernaturals in the world.

The fact that not only had Nolan survived a succubus’s attempt at stealing his soul, combined with his friend Kovah surviving the same assault, Joel’s eyes had been opened very wide in the past week. Living as long as he had, he thought he knew everything there was to know about the world of vampires, succubae, and whatever else there was out there. But the knowledge he’d gained of new things recently had both excited and frightened him. How much more was out there that he didn’t know about? His mind was simultaneously exhilarated and terrified.”

As the story moves on and Nolan realises that Charity is missing, his gut tells him that she has been taken by Eva. The last time he spoke to Charity she had been annoyed with him for going off to New Orleans. Now all he wants to do is find her and tell her how sorry he is for leaving her, even if she is still mad at him. He just wants her to be safe.

Likewise, Charity is hoping so badly that Eva hasn’t killed Nolan. She wants to make things right between them. But, how will she ever get to deal with any of that being tied to the bed in the desolate mansion, in the middle of nowhere. Despite both of their fears, and love they have for each other, they are both at the point were they feel complete hatred for Eva, with both of them visualising her being killed. Charity wonders about leaving Eva out in the sun, or maybe killing her with a stake. While Nolan thinks about stabbing her whilst watching the blood squirt from her chest. This shows his slight vampire tendency here, especially with the choice of words that the author uses. He not only enjoys this thought in a vengeful manner, but contemplates how her blood will leave her body.

There is also a dark fairy-tale element, with Eva (the bad witch) locking Charity (the princess) upstairs in the old, swampy mansion (tower). Of course, Nolan is the hero-to-be that we all hope for in releasing Charity and killing Eva. I love this fantastic simile. It is one that grabs the attention of most, it simplifies an otherwise very dark and more mature read, drawing attention to a wider audience, at the same time as provide the reader with hope.

“She (Charity) got up and walked to the window, her right arm stretched as far as possible so she could peer out of the small window again. She gazed out over the swamps that surrounded the side of the house where her prison was, as if it was some makeshift moat and she was a princess trapped high in a castle’s tower. But she was no princess and that was no moat.”

Even Kovah refers to Nolan as a hero when giving him a pep talk.

“… We go to their place, get back your girl, you’re the hero, happily ever after. Easy.”

But, is it really going to be that easy? Nolan could do with all the help he can get. Bringing in Kovah, the Rebel Riders, and even Joel Reichert could mean all the difference for him to save Charity and be rid of Eva once and for all. However, behind the scenes the Rebel Riders are always going to be out to kill any vamp they can get their hands on, believing them all to be monsters and a danger to all humans. Surely it is best to be rid of them all? Joel is in a vulnerable position, without realising it.

And, with a disagreement at a bar with Kovah, Nolan leaves by himself. Will he be able to take Eva’s group down alone? Will he get to Charity? Or, will Eva manage to get her hands on him again?

In book 2, Soul Redemption, we were introduced to a brilliant character in Kovah. He was so similar to Nolan, but against him for the same reasons. They overcame their differences and became friends. It would be a shame for that to be thrown away over a stupid argument! Now, in Soul Release, the reader is subjected to another new character in Janice. Janice is a super character, who also adds a little fun and ‘relief’ to the otherwise dark story content, albeit still a mature read.

“The walls were blood red and he could see some type of swing made of leather hanging from the ceiling. There was also a wall of medieval-looking weapons and torture devices that took up the entire east wall….

… Nolan decided he had seen enough…

… She gently grabbed his arm and smiled.

‘Don’t be scared. I only use these things to play with other vampires. I don’t use them on humans.'”

This series is very addictive. C.J. Pinard has gone from strength to strength, and the Rebel Riders is certainly my favourite series yet. Lovers of her work will surely be calling out for more from this author, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can read more from her again!

An Advanced Reader’s Copy was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Soul Redemption (Rebel Riders #2) by C.J. Pinard is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

You can also find my review of C.J. Pinard’s Soul Rebel (Rebel Riders #1) here, and Soul Redemption (Rebel Riders #2) here.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Other reviews for C.J. Pinard:-

Enchanted Immortals (Enchanted Immortals Book 1)

Enchanted Immortals: The Vortex (Enchanted Immortals Book 2)

Enchanted Immortals: The Vampyre (Enchanted Immortals Book 3)

Enchanted Immortals: The Vixen (Enchanted Immortals Book 4)

BSI: Bureau of Supernatural Investigation (an Enchanted Immortals novella)

Patriotic Duty (Duty & Desire, Book 1)

Tour of Duty (Duty & Desire, Book 2)

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #3)

Playing the Field (Duty & Desire #4)

Unscathed (written with Tim O’Rourke)

Author bio & links

cj pinard

C.J. is a west coast native who has lived on both coasts and now lives near the middle, in Colorado! Coming from a family of writers and editors, she feels writing is in her blood and hopes people will lose themselves for a little while in the fantasy and fun of her stories. She also loves sweet red wine, the SF 49ers, and unlike most authors, doesn’t have any cats (allergies!). When she’s not writing, she can be found chasing around her kids or working at her day job, which she totally feels interferes with life, but it also gives her inspiration for her books, since reality is sometimes way more interesting than fiction.

She also loves getting notifications that people have sent her an email, added her on Facebook, or on Twitter. So stop by and say hi – don’t be shy! She’s not! 🙂

 Like me: https://www.facebook.com/CJPinardAuthor

 Friend me: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007822338176

 Follow me: https://twitter.com/CJPinard

 Add me: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6565787.C_J_Pinard

**REVIEW w/excerpt** Lunchtime Eavesdropper by Joanie Chevalier

lunchtime eavesdropperTitle: Lunchtime Eavesdropper

Author: Joanie Chevalier

Genre: Contemporary, psychological self-belief fiction

Release date: July 20th, 2015

Length: 40 pages

Blurb: Meet Marlee, a woman who lives a comfortable but simple life with her loving partner, the adorable Larry. She discovers that covertly listening in on other people’s conversations during lunch hour excites her and adds to her otherwise humble life. When she overhears unpleasant gossip about herself, she becomes obsessed with changing her personality and makes the bad decision to become someone she’s not. After her total makeover, Marlee suddenly finds herself basking in the attention of her co-workers and is ecstatic when she’s finally invited to sit at the “popular” table at work. But is a personality change really worth the price? Is being popular worth losing herself, possibly the love of her life and/or redefining her own definition of happiness?

Come and take part in Marlee’s life, even though it’s only for a short time, and experience her yearning to belong and be accepted for who she is. You may be surprised by the unexpected twist in her story.

REVIEW

Lunchtime Eavesdropper is a real ‘stay true to yourself’ kinda read. The psychological effects of overhearing people talk about yourself can take over even rational thoughts. And, this is how is affects Marlee. Although the comments are hurtful, she takes heed and begins to question herself, doubting who she really is.

It all became a bit of fun, changing her appearance, wanting to share some time with girlfriends and being able to talk with them. But, after a night out clubbing, she begins to think that she has taken things too far. She never really enjoyed these girls’ company anyway, so why start to now?

This novella explores the psychological effects that others can have on a person when expressing their personal opinion, or even the opinion that they believe others want to hear when they are trying to be popular and fit in.

Marlee loves Larry. He is the love of her life. He has always loved her for who she is and how she treats him, But, with changes that Marlee is making, it does begin to affect him too.

It isn’t all too serious as Marlee tells the reader in first person her most innermost thoughts. Some are quite flippant or amusing comments. And when she begins making some changes, during a shopping trip she gets a little excited when she finds a beautiful photo frame, but with the perfect, handsome guy she’s ever seen. She decides to buy it and later places it on her office desk, making out that the guy is in fact Larry!

With some surprises there are a few times when you will question what is really happening. There is a slight realisation towards the end of this short story that did make me smile, even though there is a more serious message. Is it really worth changing for other people? For the trouble and upset it can cause you and those around you? The story hints in places at having some criminal element, but the most powerful subject is Marlee’s psychological state and how she deals with her life – fantasy or otherwise!

A copy of Lunchtime Eavesdropper was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Lunchtime Eavesdropper is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

EXCERPT

Reluctantly, I returned the frame to the dusty shelf, swearing, almost sure that my bizarre behavior was probably because I’ve been depressed ever since The Tragic Event.  I felt ashamed and I walked away slowly and dejectedly from the shelf with the beautiful frame.  But when I reached the end of the aisle, I couldn’t help myself and made a quick u-turn causing my heel to squeak as it left a black skid mark on the linoleum.  When I returned to the framed photo, I snatched it up, like a metal claw inside a machine full of stuffed animals.  My hand was the claw and I had won the top prize: a beautiful sea shelled frame with a photo of a gorgeous male model, his deep brown eyes gazing at me with desire.

Author bio:

I was born in the L.A. area and our family moved up and down the West Coast for most of my childhood, finally settling in Washington State when I was about 12. After living many years in Washington State, where it is gray for 350 days of the year (might be an exaggeration but it’s close!), I finally decided I needed more vitamin D and made the decision to move to the San Francisco Bay area. I pay more taxes in California but I call it the “Sun/Fun Tax,” so it’s okay! Since I didn’t know anyone when I moved, I decided that I could write in (all) my spare time (besides working full-time). In addition to writing, I love being out in my yard creating color and camping in my teardrop trailer. I’m lucky that I have one fantastic boyfriend who loves traveling with me and I live with my son, an awkward teenage boy/man who does laundry when he can’t find anything clean to wear from his floor.

Author Links:

Twitter: @JoanieChevalier

Website: Joanie Chevalier, Author and Book Reviewer

Goodreads

Independent Author Network

Facebook: Author Joanie Chevalier

**REVIEW** True Blue (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #2) by Pat Spence

I had to read Book 2 in The Blue Crystal Trilogy, True Blue, after enjoying Blue Moon (book 1) so much! After book 1 being likened to the ‘Twilight’ saga, albeit without vamps and weres I have found both of these books intriguing to read. The relationship Bella has to Edward’s family in Twilight, is very similar to that of Emily and Theo in Blue Crystal! Young and mature fans will love this supernatural fantasy series! Blue Moon (book 1) is now FREE at Amazon.

True BlueTitle: True Blue (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #2)

Author: Pat Spence

Genre: YA paranormal romance, fantasy

Release date: May 29th, 2015

Length: 250 pages

Blurb: As the word ‘tomb’ came into my head and my predicament hit home, I lost control and hammered on the lid, screaming ‘Help, get me out of here’ over and over, until my throat hurt…

In just two weeks, Emily must undergo the blue crystal initiation ceremony or face death from the secret order that protects it. But is she ready to spend eternity with the beautiful and irresistible Theo de Lucis, or can best friend, Seth, offer an alternative? And can she stay alive long enough to make the decision?

As Emily considers her future, she becomes an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game of life and death, caught up in a supernatural world of ancient enemies, old grievances and dark forces. Tested to the limit, she must draw deep to ensure her survival.

Heart-rending and horrifying, True Blue is the second book in the ‘Blue Crystal’ trilogy, with a colourful cast of characters, a fast-moving plot and surprises at every turn. Keep turning the pages. You have to know what happens next….

An old enemy of the de Lucis family waits in the shadows, desperate for the crystal and preparing to exact a terrible price…

REVIEW

The fantastic story of the Blue Crystal continues with True Blue, book 2. This is another delightful read as we follow Emily’s adventure with Theo. As she already knows too much about the crystal she must undergo an initiation ceremony and become an immortal herself, otherwise she could face death by those who protect it to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands!

The story is split into three parts: teenage life, disappearance and rescue. The first section has a lighter, relaxing feel as it concentrates on Emily’s everyday life with her mother and her school friends, Seth and Tash. Many readers will love Seth’s sense of humour as we are subjected to his off-the-cuff remarks. He simply oozes fun! Tash also indirectly adds to this; she is so obsessed with how she looks that she goes to the extent of having botox and collagen, which ultimately ends with her face becoming expressionless! Although it does have it’s use at times! We are also introduced to Emily’s mother’s new fellow, Juke, who proves to be a fascinating character as the story moves on.

Emily’s initiation is becoming increasingly closer, and although her deepest desire is to be with Theo forever, she does have doubts about leaving normal life behind. Does she really want a deep, intense relationship with the love of her life, when sometimes she can barely breathe? Or, should she remain a mortal where she can be more relaxed and jovial with her family and friends? Who knows, maybe her and Seth could make a go of it? There are feelings there on both sides, albeit more on Seth’s!

With a prom to look forward to Emily can pretty much take her pick on who to go with. Although this does not register to Theo, who naturally expected to be the one to take her. There is a touching moment when Viyesha explains lovingly to him how such a huge change – the initiation – will affect Emily. She will be saying goodbye to the life she is used to in many ways; she won’t be growing old with her family and friends. This is Emily’s last chance to do something normal.

With the prom over abruptly, the story then begins to get darker, and not all in the de Lucis’ household can be trusted! Emily’s life is in imminent danger, and her best friend, Tash, has also got caught up in the turn of events as they both get kidnapped!

From hereon in there is plenty of action, suspense, with a dark, almost eerie atmosphere. The ‘feeders’ are certainly very gruesome and will make you shudder and cringe. The Dark One and his minions find ways to take the crystal, and one way is to take Emily. He longs to turn into his human form once again, and his only chance is to get hold of the crystal. In order to do this, he summons Mr. Nelson to carry out his evil tasks.

“… the time has come for action. I need the crystal. I have waited too long in the shadows, without form or function, and Viyesha has enjoyed the wealth and power that was rightfully mine for too long. Bring me the girl. The family cannot stand back and let her endure the tortures of the void. Once I have her, I will exploit their weakness.”

Although Mr. Nelson hears the Dark One, he doesn’t see him. Instead, it is the feeders that are present. The creepy, slimy, dark slug-like masses.

“… He couldn’t see the owner of the hissing, reptilian voice, but he could see what the chamber contained. Surrounding him on all sides and suspended high up in the vaults, he saw row upon row of strange black creatures, dark and malevolent, their glittering eyes watching all around him, he was filled with a loathing and dread so powerful he thought his head would explode.”

And, then there’s the brilliance of the shapeshifters, who sometimes make you wonder exactly whose side they’re on, which makes for great tense and fearful moments that are exhilarating. Not only that, but love also blossoms in unexpected places between other characters. I wonder where that will lead to!

Two new fascinating characters are introduced in True Blue in Juke and Bellynda La Drach! Australian Juke is Emily’s mothers new partner. He showed up in the village, Hartswell-on-the-Hill, as a hippy type, with a guitar. Emily is glad to see her mum happy, especially since the death of her Grandad, even though at times she knows that something doesn’t sit quite right with him. This provides the reader with curiosity, and I for one couldn’t wait to discover more about him! The de Lucis family were sent Bellynda La Drach after they expressed concerns of the blue crystal’s safety. She is present to keep the crystal and the family safe from harm. However, she is not very heart-warming, but rather cold and flippant. She will leave you wondering just whose side she is on. But one of the most interesting sides of her character is that she is a shapeshifter, and she is brilliant during the action and fight scenes, regardless who side she’s on!

Yes, True Blue is an excitingly, nice paced story, as was book 1. I can’t wait to read more about the characters and what becomes of them in Book 3.

A copy of True Blue was provided by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

True Blue is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Blue MoonYou can also check out my review on the first book of the trilogy, Blue Moon.

Blue Moon blurb: “Forget vampires,” he laughed dismissively.

“Who wants to drink blood for eternity? What we have discovered is far more seductive and a great deal more dangerous…”

When 17-year old Emily Morgan meets beautiful but strange Theo de Lucis, there is an immediate attraction between them. But what is his secret? What ancient link ties him to Emily? And what is the significance of the Blue Moon Ball?

As Emily is drawn irrevocably into the glamorous and mysterious world of the de Lucis family, so she is forced to change every perception she has ever had about life, love, aging and death. The truth is terrifying and the consequences unthinkable…

A supernatural horror story, based on society’s obsession with aging and the desire for eternal youth, Blue Moon is the first book in the ‘Blue Crystal’ trilogy…

“For all ‘Twilight’ fans who want a change from vampires, this is the book for you.”

Buy links for Blue Moon, now FREE on Amazon:- AMAZON UK and AMAZON US

CAKETina and myself had the absolute pleasure of meeting Pat Spence at the Second City Signing in July. We had a lovely chat about the Blue Crystal books, and her contemporary romance, Abigail’s Affair. She was accompanied by her assistant, Tracie Smith-Band, who is also very talented in making jewellery and beautiful bookmarks, which blended in with the Blue Crystal books perfectly. Plus, there was also a cake of Blue Moon made by a fan, which was way too delicious to eat!

Pat Spence Tracie Smith-Band twcb

**REVIEW** STUNNER (A Ronnie Lake Mystery #1) by Niki Danforth

STUNNER is the first book in Niki Danforth’s Ronnie Lake mystery series. The Ronnie Lake series is an accidental lady detective mystery series, that is written in a fun, light-hearted manner with a more serious undercurrent. After digging into the past of her brother’s new girlfriend, Ronnie finds herself in a little bit of trouble after she realises that her playing detective isn’t as subtle as she’d have liked!

STUNNER, Niki Danforth - CoverAuthor: Niki Danforth

Title: STUNNER (A Ronnie Lake Mysery #1)

Genre: Mystery, thriller, crime

Release date: August 31st, 2013

Released by: Pancora Press

Length: 381 pages

Blurb: Beautiful. Bright. And possibly deadly…

That’s all Ronnie Lake knows about her soon to be sister-in-law, Juliana. But Ronnie is determined to find out the truth about her wealthy brother’s new lover—before he throws away his happiness, his fortune…maybe even his life. Who is this mysterious woman, and where did she come from? What is she hiding? And how deep could the deception go?

First the family receives strange phone calls. Then a disturbing package appears at their estate outside New York City. Ronnie—a divorced, downsized, 50-something—seems an unlikely detective. But she soon finds she’s got an instinct for this type of work, as she falls ever deeper into a sinister world where people will do anything to escape their past. And Juliana may be the most desperate of them all.

About the Author – Niki Danforth

Niki Danforth, daughter of a Cold War covert intelligence officer, has the “thriller/adventure” gene in her DNA. After a career as a successful TV/video producer and director in New York, this empty-nester is picking up her first love of mystery books and recreating herself as an author in the genre. Danforth lives in the New Jersey countryside with her husband and two drama-queen dogs.

For more information, you can check out Niki Danforth’s website. You can also visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NikiDanforthAuthor, and her Twitter account at https://twitter.com/nikidanforth.

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

I really enjoyed Stunner. It is a fun, light-hearted read despite the mystery of Ronnie’s brother, Frank’s new girlfriend, Juliana. Ronnie, in her mid-fifties, downsized and living alone, with the exception of her dog, Warrior, has already faced losing one brother, Peter, since his wife practically whisked him away and didn’t want much contact with his family. Her other brother, Frank, has not long been made a widower since the death of his wife, Joanie, but now he has a new girlfriend in Juliana who doesn’t appear to have much of a past. Ronnie simply can’t allow her only close sibling to be distanced from her.

The opening scenes of Chapter One instantly grabbed my attention and made me smile as Ronnie is taking an Aikido class. I particularly love how the author has taken small Japanese phrases used in the appropriate manner and explained them to the reader. These little details make reading all the better for reining in the reader.

Being a mystery thriller I did question, after reading the first page, if the author was going to use the Aikido to make Ronnie’s character be an ass-kicking heroine, which would have been unbelievable. However, the author twists the idea on the following page, making it clear that of course being in her fifties, Ronnie is using Aikido as self-defence. The way in which it is written did amuse me; whilst taking control of her opponents power, in mid-stance with the opponent on her back:

“Hold that image! Hey, the decade of my twenties with my body feeling immune to injury was ages ago. So why would I even consider acting like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan and stack an aggressive attacker onto my fifty-five-year-old aching back? Commmme onnnn.”

Stunner is written in first person from Ronnie’s point of view. The reader soon realises that Ronnie is a flawed character. Although merely looking out for Frank, Ronnie becomes too nosey for her own good, which lands her in a little trouble at times. She pushes herself too far, especially when interrogating those she believes had a connection with Juliana in the past. Instead of keeping it fairly general, she asks too many personal questions that raises suspicion. She is playing detective, and enjoying it, but throws herself in at the deep end without thinking of the consequences. I like this about her. After all, she’s human; we can all open our mouths at times when we wish we hadn’t, and this is something I could easily see myself do. This makes Ronnie’s character believable and really fun to read.

Another amusing moment for me was a thought of Ronnie’s when after following Juliana one day, she witnesses her meet up with a shady, lowlife male who surely can’t be part of beautiful, glamourous Juliana’s past?

“Pretty soon a motorcycle roars up, and a guy with shaggy black hair and a leather jacket shuts down the engine and gets off. He removes the jacket, revealing a torn tee-shirt. His arms are loaded with tattoos all the way down to his wrists. His jeans hang low on his behind creating a sight that only a mother could love…. He…walks into the coffee shop…

…Another thirty minutes go by before Juliana and Mr. Butt-Crack come out the door of the coffee shop.”

However, the light-hearted and fun moments do not always last as Ronnie finds herself in a spot of trouble when she is confronted by him in an alleyway. This scene provides some suspense and tension, which really reminds the reader just how dangerous Ronnie is playing this detective game. She is shaken up a little and is aware of her silly, amateur behaviour.

“What the hell did I think I was doing back there, going into that alley without Warrior? I’m not a professional private eye like Will Benson, just an idiotic, nosy amateur trying to look out for her brother. And an amateur who turned useless when the time came to defend herself. A coward. What happened to all my Aikido? Where was it when I actually needed it?”

Will Benson is an interesting character, being introduced to Ronnie by her Sensei, Isabella, Ronnie realises that one of her opponents in class is a Private Investigator. After explaining her situation to him, Will shows that he is willing to assist where he can. He can sense Ronnie’s eagerness to find out all she can about Juliana, but he is also aware of her lack of experience and dishes out warnings and advice to her where he can. Throughout his involvement the reader can sense a growing friendship and possible relationship between him and Ronnie which provides a nice, warm feel to the story when everything else becomes darker.

Ronnie’s ultimate goal throughout is to find out Juliana’s true identity and past, to ensure that Frank isn’t being played for money, and to ensure that her brother isn’t taken away from her by a woman in the same way that Peter had. However, going behind Frank’s back, checking up on his girlfriend and running the risk of getting found out (or even having to confront him with what she is doing) all run the risk of him never talking to her again. She is treading on ice, but surely Frank is vulnerable after losing Joanie, and maybe he just can’t see the many faces of Juliana? Either way, Ronnie feels she has no choice but to continue with her venture.

The reader can really sense Ronnie’s true meaning for her actions. She genuinely loves her brother and cares for his welfare. When she is made aware of strange happenings with strange phone calls and delivered parcels for Juliana she just can’t stop herself. Her suspicions and curiosity take over. Once she starts and finds herself deeper and deeper, it is hard for her to walk away. She must see it through to the end – even if she runs the risk of losing everything.

Another little treat from this story is the music soundtrack that the author has incorporated into the story. Each song is carefully chosen, fitting the scene perfectly. Some tracks that really stood out to me were ‘Glory Days’ (Bruce Springsteen), ‘Invincible’ (Pat Benatar), ‘Runnin’ Down A Dream’ (Tom Petty), and The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’.

If you are looking for a mystery with a sense of adventure, but nothing too dark, then Stunner is certainly a story you will enjoy. Written at a nice pace and in a manner that is easy to follow, with a light-hearted sense in parts, any reader will find it a quick and memorable read.

A copy of Stunner (A Ronnie Lake Mystery #1) was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

BiblioCrunch - STUNNER, Danforth - Audio CoverIt is available at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

The audio book released on April 3 2014, is available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**Release tour w/Review** Dopey Women by Laura Barnard

We have followed Laura Barnard from the very beginning, from The Debt & the Doormat/The Baby & the Bride to Tequila & Tea Bags. We are absolutely delighted to be taking part in this super blog tour to celebrate the release of her latest contemporary romantic comedy/chick-lit, DOPEY WOMEN! Please keep reading for our full review, and for a chance to enter a great giveaway!! 🙂

“I’ve flipped the crazy switch and there’s no going back.”

Dopey WomenTitle: Dopey Women

Author: Laura Barnard

Genre: Romantic comedy, chick-lit, contemporary

Release date: August 12th, 2015

Length: 453 pages

Blurb: Sadie had a bumpy upbringing but she’s still managed to drag herself out and carve a career for herself. That all comes crashing down when she, along with the women she manages; Mags, Lexi & Steph, get made redundant. She’s screwed. In hindsight she shouldn’t have attacked her colleague in a moment of rage. There goes the reference.

When they all bump into each other a few months later at the job centre Sadie finds she’s not the only one in a hole. Steph’s boyfriend has left her holding the baby, Lexi’s stuck in an abusive relationship and poor Mags has breast cancer. They’re all struggling to keep on top of their bills. They all need money to get out of their situations, its as simple as that.

Mags mentions that some women find marijuana helps ease the sickness caused by chemo. With the desperation mounting and the coffee spurring them on they somehow decide to start growing it. They’re only going to sell to ladies going through chemo, so its not too bad, right? They’re not going to be proper drug dealers. And its only temporary.

They didn’t bet on the business taking off so well though. Before they know it they’ve got orders coming out of their ears, a sexy detective on their trail, suspicious neighbours and drug dealers angry they’re working on their patch.

Can Sadie pull them out of this dangerous world they’ve found themselves in? And can she do it before they end up in prison?

Dopey Women teaser

REVIEW

Laura Barnard has nailed it again! Not only has she created several well-developed characters, a romance embedded in a super plotline, she also has the gift of humour! In every single one of her books, thus far, I have been in stitches, and never without a smile on my face, and Dopey Women is no exception! Dopey Women is full of ‘sexcapades’, adventure and suspense that will keep you glued to the very end.

Written in first person from Sadie’s point of view, the reader follows her character as we realise she hasn’t had a great life, despite what her colleagues think of her initially. She has came from a shady background, has experienced foster homes and homelessness. She has built herself up to management level, and for what? Just to be made redundant, leaving her barely able to pay her mortgage, not to mention her car and credit cards!!

“I’ve flipped the crazy switch and there’s no going back.”

After meeting up with her colleagues some time later, she begins to realise that none of them have had it too good either: Lexi is living with an abusive boyfriend, Steph has become a single mum since her man left, and poor Mags has recently lost her husband and is now suffering from breast cancer. And, none of them have been able to find work.

After spending time with Mags during her chemo sessions, Mags mentions to Sadie about wanting to try marijuana, hoping that it could help ease the pain. Sufferers like Mags are in a vulnerable position, not necessarily having a clue how to go about these things, or who to ask, and therefore Sadie has a lightbulb moment that between the four of them they could grow and sell their own weed. I mean, of course, with any luck it would take off and they could all be receiving a little profit to help with those bills!!

This is where the fun really starts. Believing that a sex shop sells Marijuana plant seeds, all four women decide to check it out. The scenes that take place in the store are hilarious, with Mags, Steph and Lex checking out the stock and playing with certain toys, while Sadie is trying to buy the seeds. With one member of the team having an orgasmic ‘seizure’ and someone later getting beaten with a dildo you will certainly be crying with laughter.

Before she knows it, Sadie has an unexpected visitor in Detective Harry McKenzie. He is investigating new reports that a new drug dealer is in town. Sadie is a suspect, but when they encounter each other they find a little more than what they were expecting. Arrogant, rugged and muscly Harry is taken in by this unlikely suspect. And she in turn finds herself thinking about him. But, she can’t get close to him with her being a suspect. Surely he’s trying to get close to get her to confess? Maybe she should get close to him to find out what he knows? These thoughts constantly go through Sadie’s mind. He’s so god damn sexy though and she just can’t stop thinking about what she desires him to do to her.

“… This will make him think I’ve been dreaming about him. When I have. A normal person wouldn’t have replayed the coffee shop in their head fifteen times, each time ending with us naked and covered in coffee beans. But I never claim to be normal…

… He knows my name. It sounds so sexy on his lips. He must have tracked me down. It seems I’m not the only one fantasizing about coffee beans.”

The author has done a great job in telling parts of the story from Harry’s perspective too in opening up the reader to Harry’s diary. Sadie is a suspect, but he finds her so hot that he just can’t stop having the most savage thoughts. He wants her, and just maybe then she’ll open up about the drugs too.

Not only has Sadie got Harry to worry about, but it also isn’t too long before the already established drug dealer of the area begins to threaten her when they realise that she is dealing on their patch. These moments are intense and suspenseful at times as the reader awaits what will become of Sadie and just how far these threats will go. Especially when Sadie and her friends think up incredible ways to encourage the drug dealer to back off.

I found Dopey Women slightly darker than Laura’s other stories possibly because of the criminal element and the hot, hot sex. However, this did not affect just how funny the author’s work is. Dopey Women is a bizarre combination of Breaking Bad (tv black comedy drama) meets Miranda (tv sitcom), with a dash of Bridget Jones (I have actually likened Laura’s work to the latter two in previous reviews). I mean, imagine Miranda and her friends setting up a drug business, to help people and pay their bills, but then they get caught up with a hot detective on their trail who ultimately himself gets caught up in erotic thoughts and dealings with one of his suspects, while they also have an enraged, aggressive drug dealer out to stop them at the same time! The girls’ methods of dealing with the fiasco, particularly Sadie’s, are outrageous, quirky and usually wind them up in further trouble…

…which is just what you should expect when reading a Laura Barnard book!

Enjoy!

An ARC of Dopey Women was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Dopey Women is available at AMAZON UK and AMAZON US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Laura previous work includes The Debt & the Doormat, it’s sequel The Baby and the Bride and stand-alone Tequila & Tea Bags. All books have been reviewed on this blog, and all have received a brilliant 5* from us on Goodreads and Amazon! The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads of 2013! Check our reviews by clicking on the links below:-

the-debt-the-doormat_1The Debt & the Doormat

This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Go grab a copy now!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The Baby & the Bride (incl. interview with Laura Barnard)

You can also find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US for a small price.

Tequila & Tea Bags

This stand-alone is available at AMAZON UK and AMAZON US for a small price.

Contact info:

Laura would love you to check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks and while you’re visiting please give her a ‘like’!

Laura also has her own website at www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk and is available on Twitter: @BarnardLaura

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