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Ronan (The Protectors #12) by Teresa Gabelman

Kira is running.  She and her sister can’t afford to stop because the wicked warlock will kill them.  The curse on him will be dissolved as soon as all the Grail women are dead.  Will they give up and hope for mercy or fight?  Of course they are gonna fight.

Title:  Ronan
Author:  Teresa Gabelman
Series:  The Protectors #12
Publish Date:  July 30, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Vampire Romance
Source: reviewer purchased
Publisher’s Description: Most think that newest VC Warrior, Ronan McDonald, is just a laid back cowboy. What they don’t see is the inner turmoil that only his small ranch and horses can tame. At least that was the way it had been until a witch with a beauty none could deny walked into his life.

Running has been Kira Grail’s life for as long as she can remember. It isn’t until she meets a VC Warrior that she realizes she is growing weary, but the forces chasing her will never bend.

Ronan doesn’t believe in witches or curses. What he does believe is that only he can keep Kira safe. Together they fight to bring the once powerful warlock, Orjyll, to his knees releasing the women of the Dragonfly Coven. During their perilous journey Kira vows to keep her distance, but the vampire cowboy has other plans.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In some cases…spoilers. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This series is fun.  They are all basically the same concept with different couples.  There is death, dismemberment, blood and gore but also it “could” be a standalone.  It would be better to read the series to keep up with the history, though.  There is sex because, um, well…vampires.

Ronan is a newbie to the VC Warriors. and he’s a lot more laid back than the rest.  Vampires and witches don’t always mix, but they are joining forces to protect the world from one mean and angry warlock.  Ronan happens to be smitten with Kira and wants to make her his mate.  She needs to be convinced.

This is a quick romance as it doesn’t take much time to develop but there are appearances from all the other vampires and their mates so that makes the story more engaging.  I especially liked the fact that even though the vampires are mated for life doesn’t always mean it’s happily ever after.  There is some drama in one couple that needs work, but they’ll get it straightened out.  That kind of drama makes the story a little more realistic since no matter how swoony in love a person is, their mate can drive them nuts every once in awhile.

Other recommendations:

 

 

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His Bluestocking Bride (Branches of Love #3) by Sally Britton

Called a spinster at 26 (I mean, really?), what does Ellen have to look forward to?  Shuttled around from family member to family member being treated basically like a servant because she’s not got a husband.  Blech!  Well, Ellen is going to have to take her own future into her hands and she does…

Title: His Bluestocking Bride
Author: Sally Britton
Series: Branches of Love #3
Publish Date:  June 6, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: purchased by reviewer
Publisher’s Description:  He vows to never risk his heart again. She hides her love to avoid rejection. A marriage of convenience is not what either of them wished for.

Overlooked by society and underappreciated in her family, Ellen Bringhurst has resigned herself to spinsterhood and a life of reading. Until her match-making friends contrive to reintroduce Ellen to the man she has secretly loved since their shared childhood.

As the younger son to an earl, Marcus Calvert must wed in order to inherit his estate. Still nursing a broken heart, he prefers a practical approach to matrimony rather than romantic love. When Ellen is presented as a possible bride, he proposes a marriage of convenience.

Ellen accepts his hand, hiding her feelings rather than risking her husband’s rejection. Marcus, though determined not to expose his heart again, finds more to admire in his childhood friend with each passing day. What began as a sensible arrangement now has the possibility to become so much more. But is Marcus willing to risk his heart a second time?

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In some cases…spoilers. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

This is a historical romance can be labeled a proper romance.  No sex, no violence but lots of things that were just plain miscommunicated.  It’s a happy ever after and the historical part of the romance was done with a lot of research.  I learned a lot about things in that slice of history that I didn’t know and this author researches it all.  It’s kind of fun to read about a romance and learn a little history too.

Marcus is kind of a “slap up side the head” kind of hero.  Ellen is a great woman and he’s too blind to see her.  She grew up with him as a friend and still he’s blind.

I liked this story because it was standalone (I didn’t have to read the others in the series first) and it had a strong leading lady.

Other recommendations…

 

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Red Hood And The Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption

Former Batman-sidekick-turned-vigilante, Red Hood is an antihero with scores to settle. When he teams up with Starfire and Arsenal, the trio start taking out the bad guys while dealing with their bad histories and “family” drama.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption
Author: Scott Lobdell (Writer), Joshua Williamson (Writer), Kenneth Rocafort (Illustrations)
Series: Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) series
Publish Date: Aug 1, 2012 by DC Comics
Genre: superhero, graphic novel
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: No sooner has Batman’s former sidekick, Jason Todd, put his past as the Red Hood behind him than he finds himself cornered by a pair of modern day outlaws: Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal, the damaged soldier of fortune, and the alien Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war who won’t be chained again. As a loner, Jason has absolutely no interest in this motley crew of outlaws. So what’s he going to do when they choose the Red Hood as their leader?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

I admit I don’t read a lot of comic books. Bring on the boos and insults, I know. A lot of my superhero fandoms and knowledge stems from the MCU or DCU (movies) and other various sources. And then I get curious and read into them with the comic books. Plus, if I find a character I really love but isn’t in the movie universes, I tend to look up information on the character and go from there.

Red Hood (and Moonstone, but that’s another story) has always been different. Granted, I first came across his story by watching the animated movie Under The Red Hood. But after that, I became hooked. I recently attended the Wizard World Convention in Chicago and bought the entire Outlaw series (not 52) with glee.

Red Hood is the first DC character I truly adore and care about. Maybe it’s because I have an affinity for young characters who die and are reborn as something else. Maybe it’s because he’s got plenty of one-liners that make me giggle. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t suck *cough, cough Aquaman.*

Long story short, Red Hood was originally the second Robin, Jason Todd, a sidekick trained by Batman. He was murdered at a young age by the Joker and then came back (there are alternate versions of how he was reborn). He felt enraged that his death was not avenged and then donned the Red Hood, becoming a vigilante in the city of Gotham, promising to do better than Batman.

Regardless of the crimes he commits, Jason Todd is a hero at heart, protecting the innocent and getting the bad guys. His methods are far more justified than his mentor’s, even though he kills off the men he thinks are deserving—”let the punishment fit the crime.” He may not have the acute moral compass that Batman does when it comes to killing, but regardless, he mostly gets his revenge.

I’ve read Death In The Family, Under the Hood, and Lost Days, so now I figured it’s time to catch up on his Outlaw days.

I really enjoyed this first installment, too. Jason is smart, angry, and badass as he gets caught up in a rivalry between the All Caste (which is the assassin “school” he’s sent off to at the end of Lost Days) and The Untitled. While in the meantime, he’s teaming up with Starfire and Arsenal.

*On a side note, does anyone else hear Jensen Ackles’s voice as Jason’s? After watching Under The Red Hood, I totally still do.*

I don’t know much about Starfire beyond what I’ve seen in Teen Titans and other comics, so I wasn’t quite sure why she was hiding out on an island until she explained that it was because humans didn’t understand her, and vice versa. She’s quite a fire show with her emotions, pheromones, and powers.

I do know a lot of readers think the way she is portrayed by the writers/artists is sexist, but I don’t really buy into that. From EVERYTHING I’ve seen, Starfire has always been beautiful, has always tossed her feelings around, and has never been shy or uncomfortable about her body or feelings. She’s on an island where she’s free to do as she pleases and went there to escape restrictions. I don’t know what her sexuality has to do with sexism, because sexism is defined as prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women. So, how are the artists and writers being sexist? By drawing a beautiful woman who is a badass alien princess and has feelings? Come on, people. Be real here.

Arsenal is pretty damn funny. In one point of the story, Jason says something along the lines of Arsenal/Roy having the type of humor that is still funny but underlines a lot of things that are very true and very real, and I like that about him. Although I’ve never read the story where he does, I know that at one point, Arsenal goes up against the Justice League and Oliver Queen’s corporation. And I know that somewhere along the line, he loses everything—including himself. So he’s a sarcastic, sassy, angsty bastard, and I love it.

All in all, all these broken characters come in to team up and face down a series of undead, scaly, and very deadly foes and still come out victorious. Cue the applause.

Couple things before I wrap it up: I’d love to learn more about Essence. She seems like a badass too, and I’d never even heard of her before I read this series.

I’d love to see if this first book’s plots still has ties in the future books, or if it’s left unfinished. I guess I’ll find out!

And I love that, despite everything, Jason has learned, he’s still the same, angry person who wants to kill the Joker and who loathes Batman for not avenging his death. Learning new tricks and new saintly mantras doesn’t always make you a saint, and I like that Jason, though good at heart, isn’t going to be swayed one way or another. He’s going to do what he wants.

Overall, this gets a four from me.

Howling For You by Chloe Neill

How do you choose family duty or a life that would make you happy? Why do those things never coincide? Maybe Fallon can make it all work.

Title:  Howling For You
Author: Chloe Neill
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #8.5
Publish Date: July 7, 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: reviewer purchased

Publisher’s Description:  Jeff Christopher is a shapeshifter and ally of Chicago’s Cadogan House of vampires—he’s also a tech whiz and mostly-legal hacker. And the only protective shields he’s never been able to find a way around are those of the powerful Keene Family.

For a long time, Jeff has only had eyes for the beautiful Fallon Keene. Unfortunately, she is the only sister of the lethal North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene. The intricate balances of power and politics make it all but impossible for Fallon to trust her feelings.

But fate takes a hand when the Pack’s totem is stolen—threatening the Keene family’s rule—and Fallon enlists Jeff’s help to retrieve it before the Pack is thrown into chaos. Can she and Jeff find the totem, and restore order, before it’s too late? And will Jeff finally be able to prove himself to the only person he truly loves?

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


Nervous Nellie says…

I was in the middle of Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill.  It’s the story where Merit and Ethan’s daughter is the focal point, and she’s taking her own steps into her mom and dad’s world. I took a break from that book and went back to the world of Chicagoland Vampires to catch up with the characters.

This story is about the North American Central Pack leader’s sister, Fallon. She’s in love with Jeff but is expected to make an alliance with another pack by marriage. The story takes us through the journey that Fallon has to follow in order to find happiness. It’s a quick novella with a conspiracy, love, and discovery. 

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Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

Blood keeps spilling as the third book takes it up a notch and ushers in a whole new line of secrets, romances, and deadly twists.

Title: Gathering Darkness
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Darkness, Book 3
Publish Date: December 9th, 2014 by Razorbill
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionWar brought them together. Love will tear them apart.

Alliances form across Mytica and beyond as royals and rebels alike race to hunt down the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give their owners god-like power. The stakes have never been higher for Magnus and Cleo, who are brought together by a life or death decision that will lock their fates and change the course of the kingdom forever.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo slays with sweetness—and a secret that might control Lucia’s magic—as she and vengeful Jonas lead the hunt for the all-powerful Kindred.

THE KRAESHIANS join the fray. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the vast kingdom across the Silver Sea, prove to be just as ruthless as they are charming as they manipulate their way to victory.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally, in the flesh, with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

And which side will Prince Magnus choose, now that everyone he’s been betrayed by everyone he’s ever loved?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Magnus has been betrayed by his father, who harbors secrets about his true lineage and also had his mother killed, and by his sister, who knows the truth about his feelings and now feels nothing but repulsion from him despite their old bonds.

Cleo has a goal in mind—befriend Lucia, gain power over her and her magical abilities, and win back Auranos. And for the most part, it works until Lucia discovers the truth and goes berserk.

Jonas, with Cleo’s help and a shady new friend, is trying to find the kindred before anyone else and save his friends in the meantime. But trusting the wrong people is only going to get him in big trouble.

Lucia is awake, alive, and ready to get control over her elementia. But when the boy she loves is killed by all the machinations of the people she loves, she’s ready to go dark side.

So all these characters have their own agendas right now, and it makes for a very interesting mix. This is the first book in the series that really gripped me to my core so that when I was working away from the book, I found I really wanted to get back to it, wanted to read more to find out what would happen. I almost thought it was a five-star book.

But the romance just didn’t do it for me. At this point, Magnus seems to be throwing his love around anywhere the wind blows. He still cares for Lucia, though in honesty, he’s almost over her. He decides to sleep with Amara, who turns out to be his enemy. And then at the end, he and Cleo kiss at random. Like, what the hell? Plus, Lucia gets her own romance in Alexius, sleeping with a guy she barely knows and will probably be the end of her (which he is, who could have guessed?). And Nic, who wants Cleo and Ashur? Ashur, who kisses him, confuses him, and suddenly he’s in love with him?

Man, half of it just seemed… forced or there just to be a simple plot. I know for certain that the other half of it was there for plot twists. Like Magnus sleeping with Amara. That much I knew was a mind game. But the rest? Predictable and sometimes unnecessary. It distracted me from the main plots of the book.

But it still gets a four from me anyway!

Series list and reviews…

Some links will become active as future reviews are published.

Other recommendations…

Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse; Renee Adieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn; Jodi Meadows’s The Orphan Queen series.

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