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

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.

The Golden Bell by Autumn Dawn

The Golden Bell by Autumn DawnThe Golden Bell by Autumn Dawn
Series: Darklands #4
Published by Self Published on September 6, 2006
Pages: 200 pages
Format: iBooks
Source: Purchased

You can bring them in from the wild, but you can’t always tame them….

Fallon is a man with a bloody past, and a rough and ready way with justice. Rain is a woman on the run, and now she’s under his command. She’s outsmarted men before, but is she woman enough to handle him?

Out of all the stories in Autumn Dawn’s Darkland series I most remember The Golden Bell.  It wasn’t really the romance but the mystery that captivated my attention with this story.

We had been reading about Fallon since book one, The Charmer, so it felt really good to be able to have his story laid out for us the way Dawn penned it. He wasn’t like Keilor, or Mathin in dominance and strength, but he was definitely an alpha. Fallon was more of a modern style warrior than one in the traditional sense, which is what we got with both Keilor and Mathin. Plus, it seemed from the little that we learned that he had another aspect of his duties to the Darklands that was always so hush hush, so it was great to read about the investigations happening on Earth to protect the Haunt that lived in the Darklands and on Earth.

Rain embodied everything that I love in a heroine of an action, mystery, and romance story. She might not have known her heritage but she knew what her mission was, what made her even better was she wasn’t so fixated on it that she couldn’t function and experience life because of it. She was so strong and competent that I gobbled up the banter between Fallon and her as if I was sitting at the dinner table eating my favorite foods.

The Golden Bell really took care of the prejudice that was left over within the Haunt from the first story of Dawn’s Darkland series, The Charmer. Because the heroines in The Charmer and Scent of Danger were humans and there was such hostilities between the humans that live in the swamps and the Haunt, many politicians and wealthy citizens of the Haunt would rather see them dead than allow them to reproduce and muddy up their bloodlines. What fanned the flames of this prejudice that made The Golden Bell somewhat of a conclusion to Dawn’s Darkland series was the fact that Rain was half Haunt and half Human who had mated with a Haunt of prestige and wealth, Fallon. It didn’t help that Rain invented a device that allowed for teleportation between places and possibly worlds.

I loved everything about The Golden Bell, but I’m also glad that I stopped here with the Darkland series.

Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn

Scent of Danger by Autumn DawnScent of Danger by Autumn Dawn
Series: Darklands #3
Published by Self Published on September 8, 2010
Pages: 228 pages
Format: iBooks
Source: Purchased

Ever fall in love with the wrong man?

With a body to make a young girl sigh and a voice like black velvet, Mathin is definitely the wrong man. He’s not safe, he’s not stable…he’s not even human.

Andrea doesn’t know what she’s getting into when she agrees to visit her granny. Swept away to another world by a man almost too hot to handle, she can’t decide if it’s a dream come true or someone’s idea of a sick joke.

Romanced by the light of the triple moons, entranced by Mathin’s fiery kisses, will Andrea give up her home on Earth in exchange for something wild?

Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn wasn’t my favorite out of Dawn’s Darklands series, and it wasn’t entirely Mathin’s fault. With a combination of only having a brief introduction of Mathin’s character in The Charmer, and not really caring for Andrea’s attitude when it came to anything new and different in her life, I wasn’t really invested in Scent of Danger until about halfway through it.

Being tricked into coming to Fallon’s residence where Mathin just happens to be residing because he’s on vacation, is where and when we first get to meet Andrea and her friend – who surprisingly we hear and learn nothing more about even though it appeared as if they were as close as sisters. Anyway, with another brief introduction of Andrea and her grandmother’s characters, we were thrust into the potential conflict that would shape the story of Scent of Danger. While I was intrigued I sort of wished that another heroine was chosen for Mathin, as well as for this story, but thank goodness it got better.

Mathin on the other hand held so much promise from what we learned and read about his character in The Charmer, but I don’t know if in the beginning of Scent of Danger Dawn chose to tweak his character so that his attraction and later devotion to Andrea would be believable. I felt that it was because of the earlier revelations of Andrea’s character that we saw in the beginning portion of Scent of Danger that made it difficult to see Mathin and her ever as a couple without feeling as if Mathin was a lamb lead to the slaughter. It took about halfway through Scent of Danger before Andrea finally got the stick residing in her butt out and started to see past her nose to the fact that Mathin wasn’t just his looks and that he was actual a person with actual feelings.

Also, within Scent of Danger we were able to learn more about the organisms that allowed humans to reside within the Darklands, as well as the humans that live in the swamps where these organisms thrive. With the inclusion of the humans that live in the swamp and a change in the dynamics between Andrea and Mathin I was finally able to refrain from rolling my eyes at the ‘relationship’ between these two.

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda JonesThird Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
Series: Charley Davidson #3
Published by Macmillan Audio on January 31, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased

Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back in Darynda Jones' Third Grave Dead Ahead! And she’s drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part human, part supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hellbent on murder when the devil’s son just won’t give up?

Beginning Third Grave Dead Ahead I almost reached my tolerance level towards the Charlie and Reyes back-and-forth, not-really-a-relationship dance. I was so close to saying heck with this series because these two were working my nerves something fierce! But the duo that is Charlie and Cookie are what saved Third Grave Dead Ahead and this series for me; almost like Stephanie and Lula did for me in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.

I love, love, love Lorelei King’s narration of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series. Between the story and her narration I so easily get sucked into each book and hate when it ends. At this point I no longer hear Stephanie Plum’s voice in my head because the writing of Charley’s character is finally able to speak for itself and show the distinctions.

As I stated before Cookie and Charley really saved Third Grave Dead Ahead for me because with the way things were going with Reyes I was so over their ‘romance.’ My hope when it comes to these two is that they finally realize that the world doesn’t revolve around either of them outside of them being mythical creatures and that they either choose to be together or figure out a way to work together to deal with the chaos that has been hinted to coming their way.

Outside of a few character issues I thoroughly enjoyed Third Grave Dead Ahead. Quite a few scenes at the end have to go down as my favorite, especially the moment when Charley expressed to Reyes that she no longer wanted to play the never ending game between them. This was the moment I started to get what all the hype about Charley’s character was about.

Grim by M.K. Eidem

Grim by M.K. EidemGrim by M.K. Eidem
Series: Tornians #1
Published by Self Published on August 30, 2013
Pages: 438 pages
Format: Kindle
Source: Purchased

King Grim Vasteri is the strongest, most feared warrior in the Tornian Empire. He has been sent by his Emperor to find and retrieve compatible females for their dying civilization. Lisa is a widowed mother of two little girls who finds herself and her daughters suddenly in high demand. Will the most feared warrior in the Empire keep and protect them? Or will he allow another to claim them?

King Grim Vasteri is the strongest and most feared warrior in the Tornian Empire. He is the King of Luda, blood brother to the Emperor and his line will die with him. He will have no offspring for no female would join with him for once he was scarred he was considered 'unfit'. The Tornian Empire has been dying ever since the great infection caused the birth of females to become a rarity. Since then they have been searching the known universes for compatible females. The Emperor's discovery of a compatible female on a slave ship changed that. He'd ordered Grim to find his Empress' home world so more 'unprotected' females could be obtained, knowing Grim would never be allowed to Join with one.
Lisa Miller is a widowed mother of two little girls, Carly and Miki. Her husband died just a year ago, after a long battle with cancer and she misses him immensely. Friends want her to start dating again but in her heart, she knows there isn't a man on the planet she could love like her Mark. Who could love their girls like their own. Therefore, she'll stay alone.
When Lisa is discovered 'unprotected' at her husband's grave, she wakes on an alien ship heading for an alien world. Refusing to accept this she confronts the large males, demanding she be returned to her children. Seeing his chance to have a female, Grim agrees to accept and protect her offspring, if she agrees to Join with him and only him. Realizing this is the only way she can retrieve her children Lisa agrees and the Tornian Empire changes forever.

The purchase of Grim by M.K. Eidem was somewhat of a journey. I guess I was in the mood for a science fiction romance and Grim seemed to fit the bill. It really didn’t matter what the reviews were saying because the synopsis was too interesting and unique that I couldn’t pass it up. Now that I’m finished I am so grateful that the story worked out magnificently.

Grim was so different than I was expecting, and I have read quite a few alien world romance stories thank to the mind of Ruby Dixon. The world, characters, and conflict with Grim was so on point that I found myself devouring this story.

With the way Grim began I was somewhat hesitant to invest my full attention towards it because it had the makings of a smut sci-fi read. To be honest, I’ve become burned out on those. Almost immediately, following those thoughts,  Eidem pens the earlier circumstances between Grim and the heroine in a way that just shouts “There’s more to this story!” Not only does Eidem deliver this message she also sets the foundation of this series within the first two chapters. You learn who the bad guys are, you learn what their issue is with the hero and heroine, and you also get to see the potential internal conflict that could take place between the H/h.

From the way Eidem structured the beginning of Grim, the butterflies in my stomach (always a good sign of an enjoyable read) burst forth from their restraints and were unleashed to bask in the awesomeness of this story.

The only downside I found with Grim was the author’s aim to pique our interest in Wray’s story, who happens to be the emperor and Grim’s brother. Wray should’ve been the first installment, but is actually the second story in the series. I will admit to being curious as to what went on between Wray and his love interest, the future empress. I would’ve loved the sequence of this series better if I had read Wray’s story before being educated about this literary world through Grim and the heroine’s eyes and experience. I don’t like to backtrack so it’s a toss up of whether or not I will actually give Wray a chance or just cut my losses and keep going forward in this series.

I’m so excited to read the other stories from some of the secondary characters from Grim. Also, I don’t know what other conflicts could arise because the one in Grim seemed pretty final and did a good job of eradicating the root of the main issue within this world.