A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall

A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne DuvallA Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
on June 2, 2015
Source: Purchased
three-half-stars

Since the day Lord Dillon earned his spurs, rumors of his savagery on the battlefield have preceded him into every room, stilling tongues and sparking fear. Weary of battle, he wishes only to find a woman he can wed who will approach him not with fear, but with the tenderness that has been absent from his life for so long. Yet only the wisewoman seems invariably at ease in his presence. Perhaps because she garners the same fear in others that he does himself.

For seven years, Alyssa has been by Lord Dillon's side, counseling him from the shadows, healing him with her hands, and staving off the worst of his loneliness while his fearsome reputation keeps others at bay. Blessed--or cursed--with gifts that label her a sorceress, she is forced to conceal her youth and the love she harbors for him beneath umbral robes that lead Dillon and his people to believe she is the same aged wisewoman who served his father.

All is revealed, however, and passions flare when an enemy threatens Dillon's life and Alyssa sacrifices everything to save him. When Dillon discovers that the wisewoman is far from elderly, he is instantly entranced. And, as he and Alyssa work together to defeat an enemy bent on destroying them both, Dillon will risk anything--even the wrath of his king--to be with her.

The decision to purchase A Sorceress of His Own was something I went back and forth on, simply because of a few critical reviews that raised some red flags. Since the book was $5.99 that also fed into my reluctance to purchase it since I usually don’t go above $3.99 for an eBook, but I figured it would be worth the investments if what 85% of the reviews I had read was anything to go by.

Based on the gut feeling I had towards A Sorceress of His Own I had high expectations. What I’m finding out, though, is that these ‘gut feelings’ are usually based off the possible potential a story could have based off the synopsis (so, authors or publisher please don’t embellish in the synopsis because it will lead to some unsatisfied readers and can seen as dishonest). The synopsis, the reviews, everything about A Sorceress of His Own lead me to believe that it would become a sure favorite of mine since I thought that there was no way I would be left dissatisfied with it. Sadly, I might’ve overhyped the story to my own self since it wasn’t quite executed as I’d hoped.

The premise was solid, but it was the execution of certain parts of A Sorceress of His Own that caused a lag for the rest of the story. A Sorceress of His Own had a great foundation, reliable and relatable characters, and the world built was masterfully done, but where things started to fall down a rocky hill for me was around the time the sorceress was revealed to be a young woman and not an old wise woman as everyone had thought. My disappointment was so great afterwards that I had to put the book away for a while. Seeing as before Alyssa’s true identity was revealed, I found myself glued to the pages in anticipation of Dillon finding out what we, as the readers, had already known by reading scenes in Alyssa’s perspective, so my confusion and disappointment stemmed from wondering how could something that should’ve amped up the story even more be the very thing to drug it down?!

Even though A Sorceress of His Own didn’t retain the same level of excitement, and expected quality all the way to the end, it was still a pleasant enough to read that I’m actually looking forward to reading the other books dealing with the Gifted Ones.

About Dianne Duvall

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series. Her debut novel Darkness Dawns, Book 1, was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance by RT Book Reviews and for Best Paranormal Romance – Vampire by The Romance Reviews. Night Reigns, Book 2, was declared an “utterly addictive” Top Pick by RT Book Reviews and was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance 2011 by The Romance Reviews. Phantom Shadows, Book 3, was named a Top Pick by both The Romance Reviews and Night Owl Reviews. Her Immortal Guardians novella “In Still Darkness” was released in the Predatory Anthology in May 2013. Darkness Rises, Book 4, was also nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance. Night Unbound, Book 5 in the series, will be released on September 2, 2014.
When she isn’t writing, Dianne loves all things creative. When her nose isn’t buried in a book, she is very active in the independent film industry and once even appeared onscreen as a machete-wielding maniac not unlike the vampires she so loves to create in her novels.

Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

Blood Kiss by J.R. WardBlood Kiss by J.R. Ward
on December 1, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library, Purchased
four-stars

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.
And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

In Blood Kiss, by choosing to bring back the training program for those of their race who wanted to prepare for the war they would all be facing against the lessers, really reawakened The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I think with all the storylines and new characters it was good to be able to take a break – especially after Trez’s heartbreaking story in The Shadows – and focus back on the war that seems to have been escalating instead of the divided politics. I found myself so giddy about who out of this group of trainees would impact the direction of the Brotherhood, since out of the first training program John, Quinn, and Blay were the warriors added to The Black Dagger Brotherhood. All in all, it’s good to be back to where it all started, so to speak.

When I listened to The Shadows, I knew there was going to be something that would come from that initial meeting between Paradise and Craeg, but what I didn’t expect was a YA-ish, New Adult-like romance and story for them. I guess the culture of both the glymera and the citizens leads you to believe that until they’re married they will remain with their parents, giving a younger feel to the story, but – whether it’s approved by their parents or not – are still allowed to do ‘adult’ things. I don’t know, it’s confusing when everyone in the series is an adult but only the Brotherhood actually has the maturity level of an adult. This is why the roughness of Craeg’s character gave me such hope that the maturity level wasn’t going to be the same as it was for the training program in the earlier books of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Because Rhage and Mary became the secondary storyline in The Shadows, I expected them to also be the second couple featured in Blood Kiss, but instead we’re given Butch and Marissa. While this alone was a treat, I felt like their problems and relationship somewhat stole the show from Craeg and Paradise. Maybe it was because with them came Vishous and I can’t concentrate on any of the other characters when he’s around, but the Craeg and Paradise storyline wasn’t strong enough to compete with the solidity of the relationship between Butch and Marissa despite their issues. In the larger scheme of things you can see the similarities between Craeg and Paradise and Butch and Marissa, a member of the glymera mating someone below their station, but that’s where the similarities end seeing as Craeg and Paradises’ actual convoluted relationship reminded me of the courtship between Z and Bella.

The similarities I saw really showed whenever Craeg would give in to his desire for Paradise one minute and in the next have no problem demeaning her until she left him alone, which put Craeg in a bad way with me since his reasonings for treating her as such ran to the red of my BS meter. When Z would keep Bella at a distance it was so clear the problems he carried with him and what demons he battled, but Craeg acted like the jock would couldn’t hang around the smart girl in class because it would tarnish his rep. If I wasn’t able to see the promise of a relationship between the two I would’ve been rooting for another male character to take Craeg’s spot.

Jim Frangione did an amazing job on the narration for Blood Kiss. Yes, he’s narration doesn’t match how I heard the character’s voices in my head, but he read the story in such a way that kept me mesmerized. I was always reluctant to pause the story to do whatever because of how well he read the story to me – yes, I felt he was personally reading to me. I will definitely, in the future, be looking into other books narrated by him.

While Blood Kiss as a whole was pleasant enough to keep me interested to see how everything would turn out, the big mystery was predictable and left me wondering if this conflict will be the start of another organization the Brotherhood will face or if this was just a one-time thing. The predictability of certain pieces of the storyline, as well as the mystery, was shocking since it rarely happens for me with a J.R. Ward read – I usually have a hard time figuring out which direction her stories will go. Despite all the issues I found with Blood Kiss, it was a great opener to the Black Dagger Legacy series, and hopefully the next installment will be more focused on the main characters and will iron out some of the conflicts I found with Blood Kiss.

About J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times and USAToday Best Selling author of erotic paranormal romance. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. After graduating from law school, she began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.

Drifter by Bella Jewel

Drifter by Bella JewelDrifter by Bella Jewel
on March 20, 2016
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars

They say opposites attract. In my world that isn’t a good thing.
I did everything I could to escape the grips of motorcycle club I grew up in when I turned twenty-one.
It wasn’t about fear, or betrayal, or even lack of love. I just needed my own life.
I had to know how it felt to stand on my own two feet without their protection.
Then I met Diesel. Mysterious, dark, with eyes that screamed to be understood.
From the second I met him, I knew I needed to be in his life.
There’s just one problem – he’s a member of a different motorcycle club.
Two things that should never be combined. Yet I can’t stay away.
No matter how hard he pushes. I can see beyond his mask.
I need to know who he is and I’ll overcome any obstacle to be in his life.
A friendship is born, followed by an epic love.
Our relationship is forbidden.
But I’ll do anything to be in his life.
Anything.

Drifter had everything I look for in a top/favorite read. In Mercy we have a sassy, tough – yet competent heroine, and with Diesel we get a sullen, grinch-like, and smokin’ hot – yet compassionate hero. That alone would have me sold on the story, but the bonus that Drifter had, not only having a solid plot, but just the right amount of drama and romance, and relatable characters that hijacked my attention from the first page to the very last.

Once I started Drifter, this book never left my hands, and if by some miracle it did, it never left my mind.

I don’t know where my head was at but I, for some reason, didn’t put two and two together and come up with the fact that Diesel was a son of the Jokers’ Wrath MC. When Mercy first encounters them I started freaking out like you wouldn’t believe! Drifter was already shaping up to be an explosive read, but when the reality of two dominant MCs coming face to face because of Mercy and Diesel’s antics I seriously thought my heart skipped a beat.

As I was reading I couldn’t help but notice how history seemed to be repeating itself in Mercy and Diesel’s life and love story. Mercy’s character reminded me so much of Jaylah’s – Diesel’s mom – and Diesel’s reminded me so much of Mack – his dad. In Anguish, before Mack admitted defeat and acknowledged how much Jaylah burrowed into his heart, their road was tumultuous with no relief in sight. Those struggles seemed to be where Diesel and Mercy were heading until neither one could pretend this ‘let’s be friends’ business was even legitimate, and acknowledge that they were both the lifeboat keeping the other afloat.

For a good portion of Drifter, Diesel was a grade-A jerk, and for a while it’s not revealed why he’s that way when, if you’ve read Anguish, you can imagine the cool childhood he probably had by being loved on by Jaylah, Santana, Mack, Maddox, Ash, and the rest of the gang. Before it was revealed what demons he was battling, I almost chalked Diesel’s a-holeness to genetics because of how his dad behaved towards Jaylah. Other than Jaylah and what she did for Mack, never have I been more grateful to the craziness of another character because it was through Mercy’s good sense in thinking that there was something more amiss with him than he was letting us see, helped Diesel pop out of the shell he’d constructed around himself so that we could see the inner man.

I have to admit that Mercy’s parents, Spike and Ciara, and their story wasn’t my favorite out of the MC Sinners just because of the drama-fest that was their story. Even feeling that way towards Spike and Ciara didn’t keep me from loving them in Drifter. While Ciara wasn’t featured a lot through these pages, Spike was, and I never thought he could be as good of a father as he was for Mercy. With his past I expected him to have some hangups or repress parts of himself to shield himself from future pains, but I’m so glad that wasn’t the case.

While the drama resided more heavily on Mercy’s side of things, Diesel doesn’t fall into the background. It’s true that all that was Mercy dominated the first portion of Drifter but as we got closer to the climax for the issues they were facing, Diesel started to take over. At first I was concerned about this transition – since I had been comfortable reading and seeing everything through Mercy’s eyes – because I didn’t think that we’d been shown a lot of depth to Diesel’s character for him to hold the rest of the story. Not only did he come into his own, he actually had me swooning where I sat! Since things had been pretty tame compared to some of the books by this author I didn’t really think that when the consummation happened that it was going to be hot and heavy, since this is closer to New Adult Romance than any other genre. I must’ve forgotten who I was reading, lol. Diesel showed up and showed out! That boy is hot!!!

Yes, Drifter has a Romeo and Juliet feel to it, but there’s no hate or animosity between the two clubs. If anything, one of the conflicts that Diesel and Mercy faced centered around the fact that these are two separate clubs residing close together and the thought that as long as they stay on their side and deal with their stuff, we’ll deal with our own. Yeah, in the big scheme of things Mercy was the one that invited this problem to both MCs since she never disclosed who’s child she was when Diesel never withheld who he belonged to from her, but I understand her reasons – not saying she was right just that I understand why she did what she did.

While secrets being kept would normally turn me off of a story, I don’t know, it was something about Drifter that kept me turning the pages and loving the story so much that I couldn’t put down, so I guess all hangups have a kryptonite when it comes to the right story.

About Bella Jewel

Bella is a fun loving australian and a multiple USA Today bestseller. She spends her days in sunny north QLD with her husband and two adorable daughters. She’s been writing since she was fifteen, and after her success with her debut novel, Hell’s Knights, she has been head down, bum up creating new stories. She is the author of the MC Sinners series, Number Thirteen, Enslaved by the Ocean, Where Darkness Lies, Life After Taylah, Angel’s in Leather, The Jokers’ Wrath series and ‘Til Death.

Seize Me by Crystal Spears

Seize Me by Crystal SpearsSeize Me by Crystal Spears
on July 10, 2013
Source: Purchased
five-stars

Winter Belov was the sweet innocent one in her crime family, the dutiful daughter that never disappointed her father. One day, her father does the unspeakable. When he turns his back, Winter flees across the country, taking her life savings with her, determined never to enter that sort of lifestyle again.
No longer innocent, she now lives in Nevada. Lana is her best friend and the only family Winter has. Together, they are two of the best exotic dancers in the county. While working a shift, Pyro, Lana’s long time crush, propositions Winter. He begs her to do a private gig at Breakneck. She accepts, with the condition that Lana dances with her.
When Winter’s eyes lock with Braxxon Breaker's, the President of Breakneck, she realizes she is no longer free; she has been seized. He is everything she is running from but at the same time, everything she wants. Braxxon will not take no for an answer, and purposely disrupts Winter’s life.
Rivals of Braxxon’s club are vicious and they do something that will have him out for blood. Winter's and Braxxon’s relationship is anything but a normal one. If they want to be together, crimes must be committed, friendships will be broken and people are going to die.
What happens when all that chaos mixes with Winter’s father locating her? It will be a bloodshed when Winter and Braxxon seek revenge and take no prisoners.

Seeing as I was able to re-read Seize Me without skipping and with feeling like it’s the first time I’m reading it, attests to the fact that this book is AWESOME! I can’t even remember what it was about this book that drew me in when I first read it, but whatever it was is still there. Seize Me was so awesome and attention grabbing that I had to refrain from finishing this book in one sitting because I wanted to the story to last. While there are a lot of new characters and sub-storylines going on you would think that it would be hard to follow along in this story, but the way the writer introduces each character and the mystery that surrounds them and sometimes the challenges they’re facing you don’t feel overwhelmed at all. The author does a great job of providing a well-rounded story full of great characters that opens the doors to possible story avenues to up and coming books in this series.

The cheating in this book should’ve been a factor in turning me away, but oddly it was something that pulled me in. Instead of it showing how much of a pushover or weak woman Winter was, it presented an opportunity to ask the questions about the culture they lived in, what if Braxxon was extremely remorseful afterwards, and what if Winter okay’d the action because she wasn’t physically or emotionally able to give her man what he needed. In no way do I condone cheating because if it ever happened to me…PAUSE I will not incriminate myself lol. But the story and emotions that took place before the actual cheating happened was seriously the least issue that needed to be addressed at the time. There were so many things going on during these moments of cheating that other than being pissed at Braxxon’s brattish actions and being further heartbroken because of Winter’s inability to cope with what was done to her, made these moments seems as if they were reactions to the hell every character in this book was living through.

Bottom line, this book checked off everything I look for in a favorite read.

About Crystal Spears

Crystal Spears has always had a passion for literature. She fell in love with reading at an early age. After spending a decade in business management, she began blogging and book reviewing, only to find that that didn’t satisfy her craving. So, she began to write. Like any Indie out there, she had goals and dreams. She wrote Talania – a trip down memory lane, a beautiful, contemporary romance novel. It almost made it to the top, just almost. Someone told Crystal to write what she knew. She gave serious thought to that advice.
For many years, her father had been CEO of a well-known gun and surplus store in Texas. He then bought a tattoo shop where Crystal found herself surrounded by bikers. Hardcore bikers. The Bestselling Breakneck Series was born when Crystal decided to write what she knows. Don’t get the wrong idea. Her Breakneck series is completely fictional, but based on things seen and heard, she now had a place to start writing from that knowledge. Seize Me was hardcore, and Crystal became the writer known as the chick with no boundaries. She took the critics the wrong way and made her next bestseller Withstanding Me a little tamer. Readers were quick to point out that they did not like that and demanded that Crystal return to gritty writing. When asked if she would write gritty from now on, her only answer was… “I’ll write what my readers want me to write, and I’ll also write what I feel.”
Crystal resides in Indiana with her soon-to-be husband and their two children. They have a pit named Dozer, two fish, and one fancy rat. They enjoy the outdoors, and camp, fish, and go boating as much as possible. But, while the soon-to-be husband is out hunting this winter, Crystal will be writing three novels and planning her wedding.
Crystal is a perfect example of never giving up on a dream or a goal. Her goal was to publish a book; her dream was to become a bestseller. She did both of these, and now, she feels that she’ll never regret leaving business management to become a writer. She stays humble, loves meeting new people, and is extremely excited to be a part of so many signings in 2014 with some top notch Authors.

The Shadows by J.R. Ward

The Shadows by J.R. WardThe Shadows by J.R. Ward
on March 31, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library, Purchased
four-half-stars

Two brothers bound by more than blood fight to change a brutal destiny in the heart-wrenching new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.
Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.
iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.
Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...

Goodness freaking gracious! The Shadows was a freaking emotional rollercoaster!

Before I start on my review for The Shadows, I need to apologize for the misguided thoughts/concerns I had towards this book and where the rest of the series would go way back when. I’m learning to keep my mouth shut on things that I haven’t actually experienced for myself.

The huge plot twist for The Shadows was already ruined for me thanks to some reviews that had no problem posting spoilers. But, even with that knowledge I again placed my trust in J.R. Ward to spin a tale that would last beyond this heartbreaking twist, and I’m so flipping glad I was right.

I never thought much of Trez and iAm, only seeing them as Rhevenge’s henchmen or bodyguards and being the subordinates to Xhex. Even when they took over the business from Rhevenge I still didn’t see much coming from their characters until Lover At Last, and the assassin for the Shadow Queen came knocking on their door. When Trez mated with Selena, I again thought that not a whole lot was going to come of this because of the hangman’s noose, so to speak, hanging over both Trez’s and iAm’s head, but I should never underestimate the craziness Ward will put her readers and characters through.

When the huge plot twist was gearing up to implode I thought that I would be desensitized to it since I already knew what was getting ready to happen and that the book nor the series was going to end because of it. Guess I wasn’t the ice queen I thought I was because my heart hurt and longed for things to be different, the type of crying I endured can only be described as soul crying, where you’re crying buckets of tears internally. Afterwards, as the story started moving forward I was still picking up the pieces of my broken heart – I’m sure I dropped a few when listening about the heartache and pain Trez was going though – and trying to reengage with the other situations that still needed addressing. Although Trez didn’t get the happy ending he wanted his brother did, but there’s promise for his future if the vision he had of Selena was any indication.

One thing that irked me about The Shadows was the Rhage and Mary craziness…what the absolute heck is going on with them?! Is Rhage’s beast acting up and causing rifts in their marriage, does Rhage not feel as important to Mary now that she has Safeplace? I’m confused. What is going on with them that Ward felt the need to focus on them the most when there were bigger things going?! I guess my questions will either be answered in Blood Kiss or in The Beast.

About J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times and USAToday Best Selling author of erotic paranormal romance. She lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. After graduating from law school, she began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. Writing has always been her passion and her idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.