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Asp (Guardian Security Shadow World #2) by Kris Michaels

Guardian Security’s Shadow World reveals Asp. The Shadow World operatives have nothing. No real relationships, no ties. All they have is their job, and their closest friends are other assassins.  How does one drop their guard long enough to let someone else in?

Title: Asp
Author:  Kris Michaels
Series:  Guardian Security Shadow World #2
Publish Date: July 31, 2018
Genre:  Military Romance
Source: reviewers purchase

Publisher’s Description: 
As a Shadow, Asp planned his assassinations with meticulous care. His work required one thing, that the Council direct his kills. The coded target became a “sanctioned hit” and that distinction was vital.

His most recent assignment took him to a remote area of the Andes Mountains in Colombia. He completed his assassination according to plan – more or less – but no amount of careful planning could have prepared him for the dire circumstances he found himself in. As he faded in and out of consciousness due to a life-threatening bullet wound, he knew he might not get home. He’d resigned himself to dying alone, just not this soon.

Lyric Gadson was an unwilling expatriate. She’d trade her grandfather’s farm in the foothills of the Andes for her old life in Jacksonville, Florida in a heartbeat. But, the cost of a return ticket was out of reach, and Lyric found herself maturing from carefree teen to responsible woman on a remote Colombia banana farm. When her beloved grandfather failed to return from his yearly pilgrimage to his wife’s shrine, Lyric thought nothing of packing her kit and hiking into the Andes mountains to find him. She found her grandfather—and an unconscious man near death. Her decision to stay and care for the dying man would usher in the greatest love of her life, but it could also threaten everyone else she held dear.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

This is a new series, a spin-off of The Kings of Guardian series. These men (so far) are assassins who take care of the sanctioned kills of super bad people. This story does have some swearing, some sex but no cliffhanger. There are also guns, scary situations and an impossible kind of love that becomes possible.

Kris Michaels’s writing ranks right up there with a lot of great writers–Susan Stoker, Teresa Gabelman, and Tina Folsom are just a few. This story is well thought out and is written so well that it’s very hard to put down. As a matter of fact, the pages practically turn themselves.

Since I’ve never been an assassin or in a situation where I had to hole up in a cave and heal after a gunshot wound, I can’t say if this story is believable or would actually happen like it does in the book. With that said, I believe it. I can’t imagine the hours of research that this author has put into her books, but like I said, they are so well written and action-packed that I felt like I was a mouse hidden in the backpack coming along for the ride.

There is no doubt that this is a 5 star. Every time I finish one of Michaels’s books, I think it can’t get any better, but by the time the next book rolls around and I read it, it gets better.  Cheers to an amazing author.

Our reviews in this series…

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Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes

Cinelle Barnes is a creative non-fiction writer and educator from Manila, Philippines. She writes memoirs and personal essays on trauma, growing up in Southeast Asia, and on being a mother and immigrant in America.

Title: Monsoon Mansion
Author: Cinelle Barnes
Publish Date: April 1, 2018 by Little A
Genre: Memoir
Source: Purchased through the Amazon’s Kindle First program

Publisher’s Description: Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

My April “Kindle First” book choice was fantastic. Monsoon Mansion is a memoir that immerses you in the life of the author as a child.

I hardly knew anything about the Philippines before reading the book other than the name of Imelda Marcos and her huge shoe collection. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the disparity between the wealthy and the impoverished in yet another “third” world country, but the author vividly describes the differences between her own family’s life and privileges and the abject poverty of the servants’ village life and the misery in Manila outside her gates.

I still marvel at the author’s ability to put perspective on her mother’s behavior. Barnes describes the relationship in a poignant scene in the final chapter as she answers her own daughter’s questions.

…Then she asks, “Mama, do you miss your mama?”

“I do, but it’s better to miss her than to be around her.”

“Because she does things that hurt people?”

That’s how I’ve explained it to her: that my mother cannot come near us because she does regrettable things.

Barnes’ mother was a true nightmare, but her father, whose choice to abandon the family brings about the depraved situation the author grows up in, is portrayed so richly that the reader fully understands the complexity of his thought process and the details of his personality, and it’s easy to understand why he made the choices he did and that he was truly trying to do what was best in the scope of his own human weakness.

Barnes writes in such a way that the mansion itself and the weather are also characters that play a role in her childhood. The deteriorating mansion is a symbol of her mother’s decay, but it has its own characteristics and can haunt or protect the children. It’s described in such rich detail that I feel if I walked in the front door, I would recognize it immediately. The monsoon that is the catalyst to her father leaving, also provides the author with a glimpse of the freedom brought by big water. It’s such an interesting parallel to explore the flood waters and forever after be drawn to the ocean.

This book is definitely a 5 and I look forward to reading more of Cinelle Barnes’ work.

Fused in Fire by K.F. Breene

Some things are worth fighting for, and freedom is one of them. Reagan is Lucifer’s daughter, and she needs to hide from those who want to use her to their advantage. But how can she do that while meeting them on their own turf?

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

Title: Fused in Fire
Author: K.F. Breene
Series: Fire and Ice Trilogy #3
Publish Date: October 17, 2017
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Source: Audible.com

Publisher’s Description: I thought the threat from Seattle was finished. That we showed up in time and took care of business.

I hate being wrong. It really ruins my day.

When Roger, the alpha of the North American pack, shows up at my door with the news that a demon has made it to the Underworld with knowledge of me, some hard decisions have to be made.

Do I stay above ground, with all my magical friends, and wait for the battle to come to me? Or do I seek the demon out, and pluck the threat out by the root?

I don’t want my friends to die on my behalf. I could never live with myself. But if I venture into the Underworld, it’ll be the most perilous journey of my life.

This time, it isn’t just my life hanging in the balance, it is my eternity.

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


Nervous Nellie says…

“Just FYI, in case you need a barometer reading on the day’s suckery, it is high. Very high. There is a shitstorm warning in effect.”

This story does have a small mention of sex, but nothing graphic. Reagan is very independent, and she tends to swear a lot. There are parts where demons and other evil creatures meet the business end of Reagan’s sword. This is the conclusion of the trilogy, and it would be smart to read books 1 and 2 prior to this book. Also, there is a satisfying ending, and maybe Reagan and Darius could be brought back for more adventures, but it’s the end for now.

First off, I love Reagan. She is so brassy and snarky that she makes me grin every time she throws out a one-liner. Even when she is surrounded by bad guys, she has something to say that is not necessarily something someone would say when that someone’s life is being threatened. She has bravado, but why shouldn’t she since she’s the daughter of Lucifer. She’s got two powers fighting for dominance: one ice, one fire. She has to try to learn how to wield them or there will be serious trouble.

Darius is a wealthy, elder vampire who does not want a woman in his life. He needs Reagan as leverage, and she is useful with her power. His sire, Vlad, also wants to succeed in his quest to be most powerful, but he’s got a different path. As the trilogy moves along, Darius starts feeling emotional about Reagan. She makes him feel his humanity again. Darius wants Regan for his own and needs to convince her that he’s trustworthy and has her best interest in mind. It’s a feeling that many older vampires want back as they age and lose everything that they were when they were alive.

This story is action-packed, full of great movie quotes, and the daughter of the devil. Reagan has to stop the information that she exists before it reaches her father. She and Darius travel through hell, and Reagan even sees her father from a distance. It’s a fantastic adventure, and Reagan is one kick-ass bounty hunter with powers to boot. Also, if you love great showdowns, the end of this book is one that was worth the price of admission.

Our reviews from in the series…

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

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Black Luck, Prof Croft #5 by Brad Magnarella

Did you think that Prof Everson Croft was finished saving New York?  Nah, the beasties keep coming.  Everson has a new partner.  She’s a woman…and it’s not Vega!

Title:  Black Luck
Author:  Brad Magnarella
Series: Prof Croft #5
Publish Date: May 20, 2018
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Publisher’s Description:  ’Cause sometimes luck ain’t enough

In the year since the Whisperer’s attack, I’ve been busting my hump to become my best wizard, like my father. Now I’m ready for a test.

When a dark mage starts planting infernal bags around New York City, I get my wish. Like time bombs, the bags detonate without warning, spawning demonic beings that rip the souls of innocents from their bodies. And the attacks are accelerating.

Meanwhile, a new wizard has come to town. A recent addition to the Order, Pierce is everything I’m not: refined, self-assured, and adept at magic. He even has Detective Vega blushing. If riling my resentment wasn’t enough, he’s trying to shoulder me out of my own case, stoking my suspicions.

With the race to stop the dark mage growing more desperate by the minute, I need to prove that I’m the wizard to get it done—not Pierce. And without relying on my luck quotient.

That saying about being careful what you wish for?

It’s there for a reason.



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


Nervous Nellie says…

Prof Croft has been practicing…and practicing…and practicing.  Is he as good as he could be? No.  Is he getting better? Yes.  This action packed book is filled with spells, casters, demons and the big question that foreshadows the story? Is New York big enough for two wizards?  Hard to know unless you read the book.

Black Luck doesn’t have any sex in it.  Lots of death of poor unsuspecting regular folk but not too gory- just sad.  Everson is having a hard time with this case.  There is a new wizard in town and Everson is a tad jealous of the new showman.  This story is more about Everson’s growth as a person instead of a wizard.  He’s got work to do in his professional life as well as his personal one.

I really enjoy Everson’s world.  I think my favorite character is Tabitha, the talking cat.  She doesn’t have any golden insight or does she assist in any major way.  She’s just a talking cat and that’s enough.  Now, if you want me to name my favorite part of the book, it’d have to be when Everson’s partner calls to the murderous imps and makes them mind.  She should be called the Imp Caller.  Or the Creature Tamer.  Or Dark World Whisperer. Any of those would be accurate.

I enjoyed seeing a glimpse inside of Everson and Ricki Vega’s new life.  They are trying hard to stay together but with the pressures of the job it’s proving difficult.  I’m always a sucker for a good romance.  There isn’t much romance in this story, but I enjoyed what there was.

Black Luck?  5 stars for sure.

 

Our reviews in this series…

 

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What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell

Historical Romance.  Governess and Duke.  Not a simple romance, but a life story from a fascinating woman meeting a abused and neglected duke.  It’s a story that I could not put down.

Title: What a Difference a Duke Makes
Author: Lenora Bell
SeriesSchool for Dukes #1
Publish Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Purchased by reviewer

Publisher’s Description:  Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children

Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.

Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke

Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.

Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny

As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win?

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


 

Nervous Nellie says…

I told you I’d break your bloody nose.  Now get in the carriage and leave, you craven piece of maggot droppings.

That’s a Duke defending a Lady, that’s what that is!! Awesome romance.  Plain and simple.  Two common folk that lead a not so uncommon life.  The Duke is a tradesman.  The Governess is an orphan.  Both are emotionally damaged, but then again, how can they not be when they were abused as children.  There is no cliffhanger and there is a very feel good and satisfying ending.  This is definitely a book to get lost in for a few hours.

Photo by Alexander Petrenko / alexstudio.ch

I actually met Lenora Bell.  I did! Scout’s honor and all that!  Let me tell you that she would totally fit in the era she loves to write.  SHE belongs on the cover of the books she writes as she is as pretty as any cover model, as kind as any of her heroines.  She’s also an amazing historical writer.

I bought her series The Disgraceful Dukes when I saw her in the Kansas City Kisscon.  Her next book in this School For Dukes series won’t be out until September 18, 2018, which will feature the sister of the hero Duke from this book.  Now, that’s going to be a blast because India is someone I would LOVE to have as a friend in real life.

Ok, about this book.  It was a great vacation to take on a beautiful spring/summer day sitting outside in my lawn chair.  Mari is a strong, independent 20 year old that has to make her way in the world alone.  She gets dumped on by the proprietor of the governess-for-hire service and gets her trunk stolen on the first day she’s in London.  Her life kicks into overdrive after that.  Chasing two youngsters who are feeling misplaced and unloved is quite a challenge, but Mari knows a thing or two about feeling misplaced and unloved.

Edgar, Duke of Banksford, has had enough crap happen in his life to rival Mari, which makes them a perfect match.  He doesn’t know what to do with children.  Hell, he doesn’t even know what to do with himself.  He’s trying so hard that he’s spinning his wheels.  Then comes Mari.

Everyone needs someone to share the bad things as well as the good things.  Someone who knows the secrets and will keep them as well as defend them.  These two are perfect matches, but sometimes it takes the boldness of the woman to take the first steps.  Mari is the one that tugs the Duke along his path whether he wants to or not.  She is his hero and mine too.

 

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