Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ICYMI ~ Tomorrow's the BIG Day!!

In case you missed it, starting tomorrow, August 15th, I'll be embarking on a brand new blogging journey as Lexxie (formerly of (un)Conventional Bookviews) and I marry our blogs and become:

Please join us for a "reception" of sorts where we'll have giveaways galore! I hope to see y'all there! And thank you so very much for your support and readership over the last 6+ years. 💚

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review ~ Rescuing Rayne ~ Susan Stoker #COYER

Rescuing Rayne (Delta Force Heroes, #1)Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker
Delta Force Heroes #1
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense

Source: Kindle Freebie
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove

As a flight attendant, Rayne Jackson is used to cancellations, but she never dreamed her latest would lead to a whirlwind tour of London with a handsome stranger...or a life-altering night in his bed. One evening is all the enigmatic man can give her, and Rayne greedily takes it, despite suspecting it will never be enough.

Heading home after another extreme missions, Keane "Ghost" Bryson hadn't planned to seduce someone during his layover, but Rayne is too sweet to resist. Being a Delta Force member means lying to protect his identity, which is unfortunate, considering Rayne seems made for Ghost, right down to the tattoo on her back. For the first time in his life, regret fills him as he slips away the following morning.

Both are shocked when, months later, they meet again - under the worst possible circumstances. Seems fate has given them a second chance...if they can survive the terrorist situation they're in. If Ryane can forgive Ghost his lies. And if Ghost can trust Rayne to be strong enough to endure the secrets and uncertainty that come with loving a Delta Force soldier.

Rescuing Rayne is the first in the Delta Force Heroes series and served as my introduction to Susan Stoker's brand of romantic suspense. Stoker's characters are well-defined and the suspense was tight, if predictable. I enjoyed meeting Ghost and Rayne and look forward to getting better acquainted with the guys of Delta Force.

  • Characters/Romance
    Ghost and Rayne are well developed. I had a good sense of who they were - courageous, protective, loyal, smart - individually and they also made a strong couple. The way Stoker developed them and their romance - their meeting and the impact they made on each other, how they left one another and found each other again - felt very realistic even with the element of fate being involved. Their connection was palpable and Stoker also involved the secondary cast well. Ghost's team, and even a few others, are well-drawn. The dynamics between them felt genuine and I want to get to know these guys better. They way they take each others' backs and the way they enveloped Rayne into their fold was heartwarming.
  • Suspense
    Despite the circumstances that created the suspense being a foregone conclusion, Stoker chose a relevant way to incorporate the suspense. She also didn't skimp on the horror and terror - although it wasn't explicit. There was one aspect I felt was a bit unrealistic given the situation though.

Overall, Stoker's brand of romantic suspense worked well for me. I'm eager to continue this series as well as check out her other series. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Release Review ~ Queen of the Darkest Hour ~ Kim Rendfeld @kimrendfeld #2018NewRelease #COYER

Queen of the Darkest HourQueen of the Darkest Hour by Kim Rendfeld
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

Source: I received an eARC from the author. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease, #COYER

Family Strife Imperils the Realm
Francia, 783: Haunted by the Saxons' attack on her home fortress, Fastrada obeys her father and marries Charles, king of the Franks and a widower with seven children and an eighth on the way by a concubine. As more wars loom, Fastrada's greatest peril lurks within the castle walls: Pepin, Charles's son by his embittered former wife. Blaming his father for the curse that twisted his spine, Pepin rejects a price archbishopric and plots with his uncle and mother to seize the throne. Can Fastrada stop the conspiracy before it destroys the kingdom?
Based on historic events during Charlemagne's reign, "Queen of the Darkest Hour" is the story of a family conflict endangering an entire country - and the price to save it.

I often read historical romance but historical fiction is also a favorite genre of mine. Having stories created around historical people with historical details incorporated makes for educational as well as entertaining reading. I'd read Ms. Rendfeld's previous works and found them fascinating so I was delighted to have the opportunity to read her latest novel, Queen of the Darkest Hour.

Queen of the Darkest Hour is set in the late 700's and revolves around King Charles - King of the Franks, and the Lombards, and patrician of Rome - his fourth wife, Fastrada, and his and their children. As that time period would dictate, the story involves war, religion. politics, and intrigue. But it's also a story of the strong bond between a king and his queen - a bond so strong that Charles consulted Fastrada on many decisions and included her in the ruling of his realm.

Ms. Rendfeld discusses in her afterword the details of the story which are historically accurate and those she took creative license with and I found it all interesting. But that she could craft a compelling story, set so long ago, around these figures is a testament to her skill. I will admit there were places where I groaned over the continued whining of a certain prince or the seemingly perpetual preparing for a move or for war. However, this was all realistic, a part of their lives, and set up for the events surrounding the traitorous plot against the king.

Ms. Rendfeld's use of both Fastrada's and Pepin's POV to relate the story worked well as I was able to see the true affection between Fastrada and Charles. I commiserated with her frustration at not producing a son, her deep feelings for their children, and her people. Through her I could understand Charles's desire to do all her could to rule fairly and protect his family and his people. I applauded her taking her place by Charles's side, offering her opinions and advice rather than standing in his shadow - something she was despised for. Through Pepin's eyes, I could see, if not relate to his unhappiness with his lot in life and his determination to have more. I understood his need to have his father see him as more than a deformed son...as worthy of praise and attention. I could also understand how the Church was used to twist his thinking. I think my only grievance would be with Pepin - who was treated far better - in life and in this story - that most deformed children would have been. However, it was necessary to the story and possibly historically accurate to portray him as greedy and ungrateful.

Ms. Rendfeld not only developed strong characters but also conveyed the setting well - the sights, sounds, smells of the abodes Charles and Fastrada inhabited as well as the forests, rivers, and battlefields. The ways in which Charles ruled - holding assemblies, consulting the Church, etc., was genuine. The story kept me riveted, needing to know what would happen next, how Fastrada and Charles would handle things, while also providing history lessons.

In Queen of the Darkest Hour, Ms. Rendfeld delivers an engaging historical tale, with a high degree of historical accuracy. But it's also a portrait of a loving couple and their family - who just happen to rule a large portion of Europe.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Release Day Review ~ Rock F*ck Club: A Postseason One Novella ~ Michelle Mankin @MichelleMankin #2018NewRelease #COYER

Rock F*ck Club: A Postseason One Novella  (Rock F*ck Club, #2)Rock F*ck Club: A Postseason One Novella by Michelle Mankin
Rock F*ck Club #2
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or rating. I voluntarily provided a review. I also purchased my own Kindle copy.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease, #COYER

A Postseason One Novella
10 cities. 10 famous rock stars f*cked.
Raven Winters has chosen the one rock star she wants to keep. She has completed filming for the Rock F*ck Club. Her season of the reality show is about to debut on the World Media Organization channel.
Her once very private sex life is about to become public.
Can her life ever return to normal?
Does she want it to?
And what about the next season of RFC?
Who will be the next star?
Who will be f*cking whom?

This novella - and it's meaty so it doesn't feel like a novella - is a treat! Getting to see Raven and Lucky and how they're faring was a delight. And we also got a glimpse of where RFC is going from here and that was exciting! 

The novella revolves around Raven and Lucky, of course. Seeing how they're working at maintaining their relationship, dealing with their newfound fame, the fallout over RFC, etc., felt realistic and genuine. I liked that it wasn't all hearts and roses because part of their relationship had been that way so I appreciated Mankin keeping it real. Lucky being the lead singer of a band with mounting popularity and, therefore touring more meant fans and  being on the road were issues...also real. And being a fan of character growth, I was thrilled to see both Lucky and Raven - especially Raven - do some growing.

The other plot threads - RFC's next season, Raven and Marsha's friendship, and the relationships of Lucky's band mates were all compelling and kept me flipping through the pages. I especially enjoyed Marsha's growing friendship with Lucky's sister, Sky, and it further developed Marsha's character. I'm excited about the direction Mankin seems to be taking with things.

That ending! WOW!! It was a shocker and I am more than happy RFC #3 releases soon!

Monday, August 6, 2018

New(ish) Release Review ~ Relentless ~ Elizabeth Dyer #2018NewRelease

Relentless (Somerton Security #2)Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer
Somerton Security #2
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense

Source: I received an eARC from Montlake Romance via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease

Ethan Somerton doesn't do safe or easy. He's all about the challenge. The risk. In order to rescue one of his agents, Ethan must infiltrate the ruthless Vega cartel. One tiny error - just one - and he's dead. Which means he needs Natalia Vega. Bright, beautiful, and cut sharper than the most lethal blade, she's finally reached her breaking point. Now Ethan must find a way to make her surrender.

Caught between desperate choices and no-win situations, Natalia has survived the unthinkable by becoming dangerous, relentless, and feared. When it comes to protecting her sister, there's no line Natalia won't cross. But when Ethan storms into her life with his cocksure arrogance, stone-cold competence, and seductive promises, Natalia wonders if she's finally found a way out. But discovering whether Ethan is salvation or destruction is going to require the one thing Natalia doesn't have - trust.

As the cartel implodes and loved ones are threatened, Ethan and Natalia are going to have to choose between love, loyalty, and the lies they cling to. They could run, knowing they'll never be safe. They could fight, knowing they'll probably die. Or they can trust in each other and do something far more dangerous.

Relentless was suspenseful with well-developed characters. There were a few times when they pacing slowed and a few places where I felt as thought Dyer "told" me rather than "showed" me but overall Ethan and Natalia's story served as a good introduction to Dyer's writing.

What Worked:

  • Premise
    Ethan, feeling guilt and a lack of control, must ingratiate himself with the Vega family in order to save a member of his team. The target is Natalia Vega and Ethan would do well not to take her at face value. Ethan has his team at his back as he works against the clock to win Natalia's trust - and maybe more? - and gain the intel he needs. The premise hooked me and kept me turning the pages.
  • Characters
    Dyer created a great cast with Ethan and Natalia at its center. She deftly conveyed the type of people Ethan and Natalia are - loyal to a fault, fearless, strong, smart - as well as demonstrating the close relationships they each have with the friends and family. I was particularly fond of the snark and wit shared between Ethan and his friends/team members, Parker and Georgia. These interactions served to illustrate Ethan's ability to trust whereas Natalia's interactions with her sister and others showed her intense lack thereof. Of course, her family runs a cartel so it was understandable.
  • Romance/Suspense
    I lumped these two together because as this is romantic suspense, they were inextricably linked. And Dyer did relatively well in developing the romance in a way that amped the suspense. Wondering if Ethan and Natalia could build on the intense chemistry they felt while also moving toward their goals, wondering what would happen if they had to make difficult choices, kept me turning the pages. The dual POV, delivered throughout the chapters rather than alternating, also worked well in conveying the romance and the suspense.

What Could Have Worked Better:
  • Pacing
    There were points in the story where the pacing slowed...not something you want in romantic suspense. Most of these places occurred when Dyer "told" me what Ethan or Natalia was thinking or feeling where actions would have "shown" it more succinctly and would have kept the pace moving.
  • Romance
    While the chemistry between Ethan and Natalia was evident, I felt that their feelings occurred rather rapidly and mostly in their heads. If they'd spent a little more time together the romance would have felt more genuine.

Relentless, although #2 in the series, can be read as standalone. I was drawn into this world and these characters' lives deeply enough that I want to go back and read #1 as well as continue the series.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #7 ~ It's Been a Week of Romantic Suspense

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey, hey! You made it to Day #7 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. How did you do? Again, we sincerely hope you've enjoyed our mini-challenge and that you've created or rekindled a love of romantic suspense. 

To put an end to the suspense (but not the romance), here's what Lexxie and I are up to...

We're getting married!! Er...merging our blogs. *wink* And you're all invited...to the reception!

And the winner of my giveaway is.... Anne!

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Friday, August 3, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #6 ~ Down to the Wire...Romantic Suspense

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey there! Welcome to Day #6 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. Your down to the wire...have you read all 3 books? Did you enjoy them all? We sincerely hope you have enjoyed our mini-challenge and that you've created or rekindled a love of romantic suspense. As for me, I finished Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer and am still working on Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker. 

So, have y'all figured out what Lexxie and I are up to? What are your ideas? I'm curious what you think. Here's the final installment:

The end...

It seems like the next natural step for us. It isn't something we took lightly. We tiptoed around the idea, neither of us seeming to want to commit. Until we did. We chatted for months, making plans, coming up with ideas. It's taken time, a lot of planning, and a lot of learning. In the end though, we think it's going to be perfect.

...is a new beginning!

Don't forget to get your entries in the Rafflecopter!

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #5 ~ Loving Romantic Suspense?

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey y'all! Welcome to Day #5 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. Have you read all 3 books? Have you decided you need more romantic suspense in your reading diet? Tell me how it's going. I finished Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer, and I ended up enjoying it. My review will post soon. :) I'm now reading Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker. It'll probably be the last one I finish...if I can manage that. 

Continuing with our story... be sure to check back tomorrow for the *final* installment.
It was a big step, bringing everyone together, but we decided it was time. It was no small feat getting her family (minus 2) over to my continent but we did it. I was worried - can you tell that's my constant state? - about how her family would feel about me...my family...my home. But I shouldn't have. Everyone got along splendidly even if there was a language barrier and we all had a great time. And it was more proof that things - our meeting and being a part of each others' lives - were meant to be!

Don't forget to get your entries in the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway