Category Archives: All Reviews

Healing Hearts by Sarah Eden

Wyoming Territory, 1876. Running away.  She has to get away before ‘he’ gets her and forces her back.  A small town should do the trick, but these folks can’t learn her secret.  If they do, she will be shunned and have to run all over again.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title: Healing Hearts
Author: Sarah Eden
Series:  Savage Wells #2
Publish Date:  February 5, 2019
Genre: Proper Romance
Source: Shadow Mountain Press

Publisher’s Description:  As the only doctor in the frontier town of Savage Wells, Gideon MacNamara knows his prospects for a bride are limited. The womenfolk in town are either too young, too old, or already spoken for. So, being a practical man, he decides to take advantage of the matchmaking service of the day—mail-order brides—and sends away for a woman with nursing experience.

When Miriam steps off the stagecoach in Savage Wells, she sees a bright future in front of her. But when the town—and Gideon—meets her, ready for a wedding, her excitement quickly turns to horror. Somehow Dr. MacNamara’s message had gotten turned around. He didn’t want a nurse, he wanted a wife. When she refuses to marry him, she finds herself stranded in Savage Wells with some very unhappy townspeople.

But Gideon is not like the other men Miriam has met. Embarrassed by the misunderstanding, he offers her a job, and the two begin an awkward—and often humorous—dance of getting to know each other as they work to care for the people of their town. Romance blossoms between the two, but when a former medical associate of Miriam’s arrives in town, Gideon and the other townsfolk must rally around Miriam to protect her from a dangerous fate. Gideon and Miriam must decide if they are willing to risk their hearts for each other even as buried secrets are brought to light.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

 

This is called a “Proper Romance”.  That means there is no sex.  It’s historical fiction but it’s not the hard, reality wild west that this story is set.  It’s a romantic west where the men of the small town actually respect the women and all residents stand together no matter what.

I enjoyed this book because it dealt with something that not many romance books deal with.  Mental health stability.  Right now we are living in a time where some people still find mental health problems a thing to keep secret. They are ashamed.  They shouldn’t be.  Mental health issues is a malady just like cancer.  There’s no cure, but there is treatments.  Slowly but surely folks of this present time are being educated and these issues are talked about without shame.  At least folks should be without shame.

Miriam is escaping a world that her father sent her to in order to forget the shame she brings to her elite family.  Luckily, she stumbles onto Savage Wells.  These folks, who live in the wild west are times far behind the east coast elite, but they all have the common sense to understand that brain trauma is a health problem just like anything else and they deal with it with acceptance.

All the folks that I was introduced to in The Sheriff of Savage Wells made an appearance.  All these characters endeared themselves to me right from the start.  This was not a difficult read.  It was smooth and uncomplicated which made for a quick read.

Our reviews in this series…

 

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

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Devils and Details by Devon Monk

On our second visit to Ordinary, Oregon, things heat up as the god powers are lost, people turn up dead, new players come to town, and more secrets are revealed.

Title: Devils and Details
Author: Devon Monk
Series: Ordinary Magic, Book 02
Publish Date: August 31st, 2016, by Odd House Press
Genre: Urban fantasy
Cover: Lou Harper, Cover Affairs
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionCaught between the devil and the deep blue sea…

Police Chief Delaney Reed is good at keeping secrets for the beach town of Ordinary Oregon–just ask the vacationing gods or supernatural creatures who live there.

But with the first annual Cake and Skate fundraiser coming up, the only secret Delaney really wants to know is how to stop the unseasonable rain storms. When all the god powers are stolen, a vampire is murdered, and her childhood crush turns out to be keeping deadly secrets of his own, rainy days are the least of her worries.

Hunting a murderer, outsmarting a know-it-all god, and uncovering an ancient vampire’s terrifying past isn’t how she planned to spend her summer. But then again, neither is falling back in love with the one man she should never trust.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

As with the first book in this series, there were a couple of story points I didn’t care much for, but overall, I really enjoyed this visit to Ordinary, Oregon.

I mention in my review for Death and Relaxation that something happens at the end that I feel was too little reward for the sacrifice. Unfortunately, part of the plot of Devils and Details is built on this event, so I was constantly thinking about that while I was listening. There is also the fact that neither Delaney nor her sisters, who are supposed to be the experts at Ordinary guardianship,  recognize that a blatant violation of the agreement made between the gods and Ordinary would cause a problem. That bothered me, especially since the rule was made very clear to the reader. That aspect felt too forced in order to make the rest of the story work.

The last bit I didn’t care for was the introduction of a shadowy para-government agency. There is so much going on in Ordinary already that it didn’t feel necessary or fully developed. But perhaps more will come of that in future books.

Despite those story elements, the characters and quirks of Ordinary are fun and compelling, as is the mystery. Bertie and her manipulations, Crow and his cockiness, Odin and his stubbornness, Death and his wacky outfits, Old Rosi, and the werewolves are all wonderful characters that I love visiting. I care about these characters and the town, and that, for me, is what makes for a good story.

Other reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try the Scarlet Bernard series by Melissa F. Olson, the Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain, or the Nicki Styx series by Terri Garey.

Mr. Hunt, I Presume by Valerie Bowman

What would it hurt if Erienne took a job with her childhood sweetheart’s brother.  Surely, she’d never see him but could still get glimpses of his life without him knowing about her.  She can’t help that she still loves him even after he dumped her.  Maybe he never forgot her either?

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title:  Mr. Hunt, I Presume
Author:  Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #10.5
Publish Date: February 8, 2019
Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description:  He never forgot her…

When General Collin Hunt is ordered to take a much-needed holiday, he resigns himself to rest and recreation at his brother’s country estate. But when the only woman he ever loved—and selflessly gave up—shows up as his sister-in-law’s governess, his carefully ordered life is turned inside out.

She’ll never forgive him…

When Erienne Stone defied her family and fled her life of privilege, she never expected to be reunited with the man who’d abandoned her more than a decade before. But Lucy, Duchess of Claringdon, is a hard woman to say no to, even when Erienne’s heart is in danger of breaking all over again.

A meddling matchmaker may be the key to their second chance…

After a decade of pain and heartache, can two star-crossed lovers trust the truth in their own hearts?

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

 

I will first issue a disclaimer.  If you get hooked on this story and end up with a book hangover the next morning, it’s not my fault.

This story was a long lost love meets up with the one that got left behind. I enjoy these stories, they are nice afternoon reads without too much investment. HOWEVER, the series is just that…a series. I haven’t read any of the other 10 books before this one and I didn’t have any trouble quickly catching up with what was going on.  I will be going back and reading the other 10, though.

Erianne Stone was the heroine that was jilted because the man she loved didn’t think he was good enough for her. Drives me crazy, but that’s the time in history. It’s all about aristocracy, status and rank within Britain’s high society. Erianne is a Baron’s daughter but chooses to take herself away and become a governess instead of marrying within her rank. That’s kind of a crap shoot, because who knows whole she’ll get. Her parents, or rather her mother, decided it was ok to tell a lie to keep her daughter from being happy with the only man she’d ever loved. Great parenting, right?

Collin Hunt, war hero and spy. He started out with nothing – he and his brother. His brother came home a war hero for making decisive troop movements to help win the war. Collin came back a quiet and unsung hero that did not get lands and a title for all the danger he lived through. Collin is working himself ragged but he can’t stop himself. Why? Because he doesn’t have anyone. He can only think of her. Erianne Stone.

There is no blood or gore. A little sex but for good reason. It ends in a HEA, but this time I can totally understand the thinking behind the rush to leave the lover at the end. There is a solid reasoning being made so I really think it’s worth a 5 star rating.

Other recommendations…

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

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Death and Relaxation by Devon Monk

NEW: Audiobook review added.

Small town politics, family legacies, lost loves, vacationing gods, mysterious deaths, and lots and lots of rhubarb. Be sure to check out this fun series by Devon Monk!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

27828473Title:  Death and Relaxation
Author:  Devon Monk
Series: Ordinary Magic Book 01
Publish Date:  June 20, 2016, by Odd House Press
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Cover: Lou Harper, Cover Affairs
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Source: ebook provided by the author, audiobook purchased

Publisher’s Description: Police Chief Delaney Reed can handle the Valkyries, werewolves, gill-men and other paranormal creatures who call the small beach town of Ordinary, Oregon their home. It’s the vacationing gods who keep her up at night.

With the famous Rhubarb Festival right around the corner, small-town tensions, tempers, and godly tantrums are at an all-time high. The last thing Delaney needs is her ex-boyfriend reappearing just when she’s finally caught the attention of Ryder Bailey, the one man she should never love.

No, scratch that. The actual last thing she needs is a dead body washing ashore, especially since the dead body is a god.

Catching a murderer, wrestling a god power, and re-scheduling the apocalypse? Just another day on the job in Ordinary. Falling in love with her childhood friend while trying to keep the secrets of her town secret? That’s gonna take some work.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

Audiobook review, Jan 2019

I read this book back in June of 2016 but didn’t end up finishing the series at that time because … life, ya know? So I picked up the first three books in the series in audio so I could catch up.

The series is read by Khristine Hvam, who also narrates the Jane Yellowrock book. It took my brain a bit to adjust to that voice representing a different world, but not too long. Hvam is awesome and did a fantastic job.

I always find it interesting how the mood I’m in at the time really affects how a book sits with me. I remember when I read this book the first time, I was pretty tickled with it, but later couldn’t recall many details. This time around I listened to it (which I think involves processing the story very differently) and enjoyed it a lot, but was feeling more critical—not in the negative sense, but in the sense that I was paying more attention and evaluating with a deeper eye.

For example, there is something that happens near the end of the book that bugged me this time around because it felt like the sacrifice wasn’t worth the reward; there was a bit of foreshadowing that felt MacGuffin-ish or never fully explained; and the romance aspect was a bit too melodramatic for my taste at times.

However, I really enjoyed the mystery, the mythology, the characters, their relationships, and the world overall, so I still enjoyed it quite a lot. Plus there’s humor, which is a treasure at times. I had read some darker fantasy just prior to reading this series, and the lighter, more optimistic feel of this series was a wonderful change.

So I have to say that I’m still pretty tickled with this series, particularly in audio. It’s engaging and optimistic, and I’m invested in the characters. Ordinary, Oregon seems like a great place for a vacation. 4 stars.

Text review, June 2016

What drew me to this book: I’m a big fan of Devon Monk; I love her Allie Beckstrom and House Immortal series. So when I saw she had a new series coming out, I was pretty excited. Plus, the cover, designed by Lou Harper, is lovely.

Why I kept reading: Death and Relaxation is a lighter series than I’m used to from Monk, but I really liked it. It’s a murder mystery, a light urban fantasy, and a bit of paranormal romance all in one book.

The small town of Ordinary is home to many things—the Reed family, the Rhubarb festival, and every type of supernatural creature and divine immortal imaginable. The Police Chief, Delany Reed, gets to deal with it all, including vacationing gods, old boyfriends, the death of a god, and the rehousing of the god’s power. Oh, and judging the Rhubarb festival—and she doesn’t even like rhubarb.

At one point, I thought I had the romance part of this book figured out; but I was totally wrong. At least, so far. I never did have the murder figured out. I like that! The end of the book hints that there are much bigger things in store for Ordinary. With so much going on in this small town, I have no doubt there will be more good things to come.

Why I recommend it: Monk’s new book is great entertainment. It gives you a little taste of several genres and the mystery is unpredictable. The town and characters are interesting and quirky, as you might expect from a small town. The ending is satisfying and yet hints that things are about to get serious. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

If you like this book…

…you might try the Scarlet Bernard series by Melissa F. Olson, the Madison Fox series by Rebecca Chastain, or the Nicki Styx series by Terri Garey.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Kincaid Strange is back.  She’s made a deal with the devil (or is he?) and her best friend is a zombie.  How could things get any “Stranger?”

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Title:  Lipstick Voodoo
Author:  Kristi Charish
Series:  Kincaid Strange #2
Publish Date:  January 8, 2019, by Penguin Random House
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
NarratorSusannah Jones
Source:  Author provided ARC/audiobook purchased

Publisher’s Description: Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kristi Charish’s urban fantasy series.

Kincaid Strange cannot catch a break. After dealing with a spate of paranormal murders, there’s barely time to recuperate—let alone sleep in—before there’s a new problem in Kincaid’s world of paranormal activity. When her roommate, Nathan Cade—the ghost of a grunge-rocker with a pathological lack of self-control—comes home bound to a dead body, it’s up to Kincaid to figure out how to free him, ideally before her new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s ghost, discovers that Nate is trapped in the body he’d coveted for himself.

When Aaron, a Seattle cop on the afterlife beat—and Kincaid’s ex—calls her in to help out with a cold case, she takes the chance to mend fences with the police department. The problem: they want to interview Nate’s ghost, which she can’t produce. Then people from Nate’s past start showing up dead, and what’s killing them doesn’t seem to be human. And the way it’s killing them is especially brutal.

Nate’s hiding something, but he’s Kincaid’s friend and she wants to help him. But she also wants to stay alive…

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

The reason I butted heads with most women?  There is only so much I’m able to feed into the circle of bullshit. I think it is disruptive, not for Sarah and Lee—I figure they’re more like me in that regard—but for the ones who rely on group validation. Those kinds of friendships require an awful lot of bullshit, and people don’t like other people pointing out their bullshit, especially when that person ends up being me.

This is a book with zombies, ghosts, and a whole lot of Otherside. There is no graphic gore, no sex, and a conclusion to the book that is satisfying. It was a good ending—not “happy,” but a good, satisfying ending.

I love Kristi Charish’s writing. She first caught me with Kincaid Strange and then encouraged me with Adventures of Owl series. Now, I’m back into Kincaid’s world. I am not hard to please as a reader. If I’m entertained and the writing took me on a ride, then I’m happy. I’m over the moon with this book. I forgot how much I missed Kincaid and Nathan.

What a mess they have found themselves. Nathan is bound in a body making him an accidental zombie. The body was supposed to go to a centuries-old sorcerer’s ghost so he could make himself a zombie. Crap. Tick off a sorcerer and Kincaid might as well write off her right to life.

That’s just the beginning. Yes, that’s right. Just the beginning. Kincaid is out of work because of the police captain’s penchant for non-believing. He is making it his personal goal to wreak havoc on Kincaid’s life because he believes she is fake.

So, lets count it off. 1. Kincaid is in debt with a seriously deranged and evil sorcerer’s ghost. 2. Said ghost is gonna want his debt paid whether it be by her life or whatever he deems. 3. She hasn’t told said ghost that her best friend “accidentally” inhabits the body that was supposed to go to said ghost, which may or may not cause him a gigantic psychopathic break which could result in everybody getting dead. 4. Kincaid has to pay the bills, so she takes on a cold case on the possible promise of a job in the future. 5. The cold case is really quite hot. Oh crap. Kincaid has a LOT on her plate.

I loved this book. It kept me in suspense with no guessing how things would turn out. The situation Kincaid was in just kept getting messier and messier until all of a sudden it became clear. Charish’s narration from Kincaid’s point of view was great. I felt like I was sitting right there with Kincaid as she went through the ups and downs. The race was a close one. Too close to call but this book was a blockbuster for sure. 5 stars all day and all night. Good book – you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and head’s up:  Voodoo Shanghai, Kincaid Strange #3, will be out next year, same time, same station.  Can’t wait!!

Invested Ivana says…

Lipstick Voodo is as much of an enjoyably wild ride as it’s predecessor! The mystery is so well-crafted in both of the books, and the characters are relatable and likable. The sorcerer’s character defied expectations by being more rational and likable than I expected after the first book–which makes me wonder if he’s putting on an act. I guess we’ll see in future books.

The first scene in the book, which depicts an ordinary job for zombie-whisperer Kincaid Strange, is very well written and touching. It gives the reader a good sense of Kincaid’s relationship with the dead as well as what her typical work is like. This contrasts wildly with the extraordinary experiences that serve as the main plot of the book.

The Kincaid Strange series is an excellent example of urban fantasy at its finest, and I can’t wait to see what further adventures await.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try The Adventures of Owl by Kristi Charish or Eric Carter series by Stephen Blackmoore.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

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