Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley

Lacybourne Manor by Kristen AshleyLacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley
Published by Self Published on August 5, 2011
Pages: 543 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-stars

In 1522, the very night they were wed, Royce Morgan and his new bride, Beatrice Godwin, were murdered on their way home to Lacybourne Manor. After the cruel deed was done, a local witch came across their bodies, witnessing firsthand the tragedy of star-crossed lovers. Vowing that Royce and Beatrice would someday uncross those stars, using magic mixed with murder as well as true love, she linked their spirits together with hers (because someone had to protect them) forever… or until their reincarnated souls find happily ever after.

Now arrogant, forbidding Colin Morgan lives at Lacybourne, knowing, from lore (as well as the portraits of Royce and Beatrice that hang in Lacybourne’s hall and the small fact that he looks exactly like Royce Morgan), that he is the reincarnated soul of his ancestor. One stormy night, flighty, free-spirited, scarily kind-hearted Sibyl Godwin comes to Lacybourne and it doesn’t escape Colin’s notice that Sibyl is the spitting image of Beatrice. However murder, magic, a warrior’s heart beating in a modern man’s chest, a woman bent on doing good deeds even if they get her into loads of trouble, a good witch whose family has vowed throughout the centuries to protect true love, distrust and revenge make a volatile cocktail.

This means the path to happily ever after is paved with tranquiliser darts, pensioners on a rampage, Sibyl’s bad morning moods, heartbreaking misunderstandings and all kinds of magic, good… and bad.

The drama that could be read from Lacybourne Manor by Kristen Ashley’s synopsis had me hooked….immediately. With the way that Kristen Ashley pens her stories I knew to expect some serious anger towards one or both of the main characters and their possible pigheadedness, but I would ultimately fall in love with everything Lacybourne Manor had to offer.

Colin and Sybil were equally delightful to read about, I couldn’t have asked for a better hero and heroine for Lacybourne Manor. The way things began and then worked itself out in the end was truly magical and in no way predictable. I was really expecting to loath finishing this story because of a situation that took place within its pages that I felt soured the story for me only to have to bow down to the greatest of Ashley’s pen because she blew my mind once again with how she orchestrated this sticky situation fabulously.

The mystery, and going back and forth between the past and present and sometimes a place in-between was superbly done. I loved the glimpses of the original ancestors of Colin and Sybil, Royce and Beatrice, that we were able to see, both in contrast and in clarity to Royce and Beatrice’s situation and Colin and Sybil’s. The other thing I loved about Lacybourne Manor was the fact that there was a senior citizen facility filled with some amazing elderly characters that added so much life and balance to this story.

Now that I’ve read the first two stories in Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series I feel so much better about going into Penmort Castle, and I feel like I’ve gotten a better sense of the series. Lacybourne Manor simply was amazing.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley

Sommersgate House by Kristen AshleySommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #2
Published by Self Published on December 7, 2013
Pages: 461 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly orphaned nieces and nephew.

Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister’s children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas’s frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.

Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she’s decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn’t so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).

One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built the house and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.

Why didn’t I first start with Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley in her Ghost and Reincarnation series?!

With the way I responded to Sommersgate House I truly believe that all things happen in their own time and with their own reason because had I not read Penmort Castle first and somewhat loathed it I wouldn’t have given Sommersgate House a chance.

While I was reading Sommersgate House I seriously dwindled away into a pile of goo. This story held everything I love in a contemporary romance story, especially a story of Kristen Ashley’s caliber. There was a broody hero, little babies that needed love, a strong-minded heroine, a mystery that kept me intrigued, a villain that I loved to hate, and a romance that was absolutely timeless. Ugh, I’m getting excited all over again, this book was so good!!!!

When I asked Kristen Ashley which order I should go in when going through her Ghosts and Reincarnation series, since Goodreads had a particular order, she let me know that I should follow her order for this series instead of Goodreads lol. I sort of feel cheated because Goodreads and Amazon stated that Penmort Castle is the first in the series so that’s why I read that first, but in reading Sommersgate House so many things now make sense that I was confused about in Penmort Castle.

Sommersgate House was an amazing start to Ashley’s Ghost and Reincarnation series, it introduced the premise of the series in a way that now if I were to read the synopsis of the other stories in this series I would at least know what the end goal would be for each couple. Ugh, I have a feeling that I’ll have a new favorite series by Ashley, I’m seriously contemplating vetoing the ranking system I have for her series because it’s starting to feel redundant.

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter

Raven Cursed by Faith HunterRaven Cursed by Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #4
Published by Audible Frontier on January 3, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock.

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Unless she wants to face a very angry master vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It's a good thing she's worth every penny.

The reviews of Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter didn’t have me as wary as I thought they would. Matter of fact the reviews on this series I feel have been warranted but are a little premature because with the vastness of Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series it’s going to take a few installments to work out all of the kinks, as well as the character development of some really complex characters.

Within the beginning of Raven Cursed I found myself checking out a lot, mentally. Since I was listening to this on audio, I sort of got lost in all of the dialogue and explanation that Jane had to go through with the new circumstances between Kinenbi (I think that’s how you spell his name), Rick, and Molly and her family. Sadly, I didn’t check back into Raven Cursed until about halfway through, when the action stared to make itself known.

Having read Hunter’s Soulwood series, and using that series as the persuasion to jump back into her Jane Yellowrock’s series, it’s fascinating to see how certain elements that make up the Soulwood series originated with the Jane Yellowrock series. For example, the grindalow’s (hope I’m spelling this right, it’s hard figuring out spelling when you only listen via audiobook) was a character I was curious about from the Soulwood series so it’s awesome that for Raven Cursed this species was sort of the focal point of the conflict that Jane faced.

With this installment in the Jane Yellowrock series there was another shift within the Jane, Rick, and Bruiser love triangle. In the last read I was totally team Bruiser because I actually saw the chemistry and longevity in a relationship between Jane and him, but in Raven Cursed Rick was actually more appealing. I don’t know if I like Hunter for showing the strengths and weaknesses between Rick and Bruiser so that I have more a well-rounded picture of who Jane will eventually pick and how viable a relationship could be with her, or loath her for what she’s trying to do, it’s no secret that I can’t stand Rick LaFleur – I don’t even like him in her Soulwood series lol.

My hope for the next story in this series is that things pick up with all the main characters and reappearing supporting characters. I also hope that Jane either finds out more about herself or her secret is blown wide open because her ability to cover up what she is is starting to get sloppy and it’s starting to make the other intelligent characters look dumb because they haven’t put two and two together.

Should I say again how awesome Khristine Hvam’s narration was for Raven Cursed? No, you all know that already? Awesome, lol.

About Faith Hunter

Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)
Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.
Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Cajun Crazy by Sandra HillCajun Crazy by Sandra Hill
Series: Cajun #11
Published by Avon on November 28, 2017
Pages: 384 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou . . .
Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing . . . and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

When I read the synopsis for Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill I was all on board to dive into its story and be taken on a crazy southern ride, but whether it was the fact that Cajun Crazy is the eleventh installment of Hill’s Cajun series or because of the intricacies of its story was so complex, I just couldn’t connect to the overall story given.

When first meeting the heroine, Simone, I found myself loving the strength she showed that exuded from the pages. The qualities that were made known about her character further endeared me to her and her possible journey within Cajun Crazy. I was following everything she experienced until she went back home, I simply couldn’t keep up with everything that was going on. It was also because of this disconnect I couldn’t give the romance the time of day.

Our hero’s, Adam, storyline was somewhat easier to follow because it somewhat felt like he was comfortable with his place in New Orleans. Plus, the supporting characters that surrounded him really made his character more attractive to me, I’m a sucker for a single father and young minded grandpa. Adam is definitely my kind of hero, but I just didn’t find the romance between Simone and him believable.

The mystery of Cajun Crazy was also lost on me because I found myself disinterested. The positives that I found with Cajun Crazy came from the individual characters of Adam and all the supporting characters, and Simone every now and then appealed to me. There were definitely a few laughs here and there, and moments where I would melt into a pile of adorable goo – mostly because of Adam’s little girl and his dad.

If Cajun Crazy sounds interesting to you give it a try and I hope that it works more in your favor than it did mine.

Beating the Odds by Sherrod Tunstall

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Beating the Odds by Sherrod TunstallBeating The Odds by Sherrod Tunstall
Published by Urban Books on August 29, 2017
Pages: 288 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Brad Carter is down on his luck. He loses his job, catches his woman in bed with another man, and he’s days away from being booted out of his home. Wanting to get away from his problems, Brad and his boys go to a nightclub, where they meet a wealthy stranger who offers them each $50,000 to go to Rio de Janeiro and traffic cocaine back to the U.S.

They jump at the opportunity and have the time of their lives in Rio, but when it’s time to return to the U.S. with the drugs, all hell breaks loose. Brad and his friends are caught, and being in jail is not anything they could have imagined. With the help of a fellow prisoner with powerful connections, they plan an escape.

Brad is determined to find his way back to the U.S., but not without Diamond, the beautiful woman he met before things went awry in Rio. Can he rescue her from the clutches of Armand, the sick crime boss who’s been holding her captive for years? He soon discovers that the web of criminal connections between Armand, his wife, and his associates are deep and dangerous. With the obstacles he faces, Brad’s journey to freedom may be impossible.

Beating The Odds by Sherrod Tunstall was unlike any other urban fiction story I’ve read. It’s just something about knowing that the story is literally written in a male’s perspective that just offers a new look to whatever story I’m reading, I feel this way when I’m reading a Scott Hildreth or Leo Sullivan’s story as well.

The synopsis of Beating the Odds really pulled me in because it made it appear as if there would be quite a few struggles that our main characters would have to go through, which translates to me as DRAMA lol.  Before I entered into Tunstall’s story I have to speak on the cover. I’m definitely a reader who will look at the book cover first determining if I would give the book the time of day, with the rating, synopsis, and reviews afterwards. The book cover really didn’t match how I envisioned the main male character based on how Tunstall described him so that really confused me and somewhat made it hard for me to connect to the visual that Tunstall had in mind for Brad’s character.

While reading Beating the Odds I felt like a fly on the wall during everything that was happening with the characters within this story, which I really ended up liking because it showed that Tunstall gave adequate description while speaking through the experiences and observations of Brad’s character, as well as the narrator’s voice.

The flow of Beating the Odds was what really sold me on this story. From the very beginning I found myself glued to its story, not so much because of what was happening but because of the hypnotizing and poetic flow of the words used to create each scene, page, and character’s character. Furthermore, Tunstall did an amazing job in balancing all the different character’s page time, I didn’t’ feel as if I needed to create my own chart to stay abreast of all the drama that each character was having to deal with throughout this story. Tunstall’s transitions were definitely on point.

Will I jump feet first into another Tunstall story, well that definitely depends on the story and the mood I’m in – y’all know I’m picky as heck. But if this story seems interesting to you I really do recommend it, it’s definitely a story that can be finished in one sitting.