Audio Series Review: The Royals by Erin Watt

  • The Royals Series by Erin Watts

Title: Paper Princess (Book 1); Broken Prince (Book 2); Twisted Palace (Book 3) by Erin Watt
Series: The Royals
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Format: Audiobook (about 9 hours each)
Published By: Everafter Romance; Audible
Purchase Links:
• •

four-half-stars

What a page turner. These books were so engaging, full of angst so be prepared to read the entire series without coming up for air. I must say that Erin Watt impressed me with their versatility as authors. This book featured a solid character building, plot development and completely absorbing story. What I liked best about this series written by Erin Watt (the duo Elle Kennedy and Jen Frederick) was the fact that this new adult romance was uncomfortable, disconcerting but yet incredibly addicting. The characters were developed in such a way that you both liked and disliked them but you were secretly hoping for them to be redeemed. It was a wild ride.


In Book 1 can best be described as a sort of rags to riches, but with a touch of Pretty woman, Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast. the reader is introduced to Ella’s past and shown how she came to be a fighter and street smart. The heroine Ella Harper has been through a lot but when it seems like she can’t be in a worse situation, an angel named Callum Royal appears. Ella is rescued from her life of poverty and transported to castle where Royals reign supreme.
Then Ella is rescued by her father’s best friend Callum Royal where she comes to live with his family, including five sons. Book 1 illustrates the transition of the Royal brothers hating Ella and treat her abominably to Ella eventually gaining their acceptance and esteem as a sister. Ella’s transition from public school into a highly prestigious prep school called Park Prep was full of teenage drama. In fact, that school was mean girls meets the old Eastside High from the movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman. Their school theme song should have been “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns-n-Roses. I’m not sure what would be harder, Park Prep or prison. Both institutions had bullies, hardened criminals and administrators that look the other way. It was a good thing Ella had experience from her days working at the strip club or she would have been destroyed by those rich kids. I could see the “good guys” lurking behind every mean word and action aimed at extinguishing Ella’s esteem, well from the Royals, not so much the school kids. Eventually, Ella and Reed Royal make a love connection, which puts them in a precarious position.
By the end of the book, Battle lines and alliances were revealed between the major players, Callum, Reed, Ella, Easton versus Brooke (Callum’s ex), Dinah (Ella’s stepmother), the Delacorte family from Park Prep school. It was intense to say the least. This book ends in a wicked cliffhanger so make sure to have book two ready to go.


Book 2 presented a change in narration, where the story was primarily told from Reed’s perspective as opposed to the first book where Ella was the primary story teller. It gives Reed the opportunity to introduce himself to the readers and attempt to explain his behavior.
The bulk of the story focused on the rebuilding of the broken trust between Ella Harper and Reed Royal as well as the unveiling of more family secrets. Ella’s father Steve who had been presumed dead returned so that shifts the battle lines a bit.
I didn’t feel like the authors really fleshed out Brooke and Dinah’s relationship as well as motivations at all. Plus, I can’t help but wonder if the real love relationship is between Callum and Steve. Again, this book ends in a cliffhanger as a major character is murdered.


In the third and final book in this angst-filled trilogy, I expected many of my long-standing questions to be address. I was somewhat disappointed because now I felt strung along for a long time.
In this book 3, The Royals are the town pariah right now, with the murder charge still shining a negative light on the Royals and more specifically Reed. I never doubted that Reed and Ella would figure out how to keep their relationship afloat. I knew the Royals would end up on top but I wanted to know who was getting the best of them and why. I also like the ceasefire with Jordan, but I would have liked to know that Jordan was turning over a new leaf in general. Most importantly, I wanted to know how the murderer got away for so long and who aided the murderer. I was right about the murderer but correct on the why and how. I was still confused as the nature of everyone’s relationships. These unanswered questions have left me dangling on but I still enjoyed this screwed up Royal Family.

With all that said, I need these questions answered.
Did Brooke not share with Dinah what she learned, or did Dinah know it before?
Did Steve erase the videos because Reed wasn’t the only one there?
Did Dinah know what really happened to her bestfriend?
What really happened with Steve?
How was Callum so oblivious about Steve?
What was the real deal with Gideon and Dinah? How could an intelligent guy like Gideon not seek easily available legal advice regarding Dinah?
How could Callum know about Reed & Brooke and not Gideon & Dinah, especially with all the cameras in the house?
So is Easton an addict and what’s the family going to do about it?
And Steve…I don’t understand Steve’s motivations at all.

Ezi

Audiobook Review: Choices (New Beginnings #1) by Michelle Lynn

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

Title: Choices by Michelle Lynn
Series: New Beginnings #1
Release Date: January 25th 2016
Pages: 196 • Format: Audiobook (5 hrs and 31 mins)
Published By: Michelle Lynn
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble

Everyone makes lots of little decisions from the moment they wake up until they sink back into sleep at night. Decisions that have no consequences or expectations. But, what about the rare choices that could change everything? How do you know what is right for you?

Happiness is something you have to choose again and again, each day.

Michaela Matthews wants that more than anything. Standing in her way is a family pushing her down a specific path and the man she loves preventing her from choosing anything different. When she moves to the city for the next step in her parent’s plan, she starts to figure out what she wants – or more importantly, what she doesn’t want. She thinks she has to leave her old life behind to discover a new one. This throws every choice she has made into question. It isn’t until tragedy strikes that she learns that sometimes there is no choice at all. Sometimes you can have it all.

Jason Marks has had the kind of life where things have seemed to just happen to him, no choice involved at all. It’s a struggle for him to keep the past at bay while he tries to move forward. He is no longer the unwanted foster kid. He is a business owner, surrounded by people that love him. But, he isn’t in love. He’s not even sure he believes in it. Not anymore. At least, not until a heartbroken girl falls apart in his arms. It’s enough to make him a believer. Make him a dreamer. Enough to force him to answer that question. Do you give all of yourself to someone who might not choose you in return?

Yes. Yes, you do.

three-stars

I wanted to like this book more, but it just didn’t flow well and the characters kept giving me whiplash. In the beginning, it appeared to be another cliché new adult book with rich overbearing parents who strong-armed their kids to following a life path set by the parents in order to fit into their high society expectations. When the heroine Michaela Matthews refused to marry Ethan Walker, the prized prince of their social circle, it appeared that she finally stood up for herself. However, Michaela waffled a lot between asserting her independence and falling back to the abusive lifestyle her parents crafted for her.

This book’s premise has a lot of potential but the execution left me wanting more. There are two young adults, Michael and older brother Chris Matthews, who were trying to find themselves outside of their parent’s expectations. There was an orphan bar owner, Jason, who was looking for someone to love and belong to. I didn’t feel like this book was developed that well. The characters at first blush were so one-dimensional and stereotypical. But half way into the story, it appears that some of the characters were misunderstood and actually more complex that first believed.
It became clear that this family lacked communication from the dad and mom, to the siblings with each other. The family wasn’t as screwed up as I initially thought so there was room for the author to delicate build those relationships. The book wasn’t paced well and I couldn’t connect to the characters expect the brother Chris and his friend Jason. Chris and Jason drew my emotions in because their pain was more evident.

I can actually envision this being a true-life story and I found the character’s behaviors to be normal. I would have liked the author to take her time with the characters and slow down the pace from subtopic to subtopic. The writing just lacked the finesse to really smoothen these characters and their plight out. I am glad the book ended on a good note. I was pleased with the resolution.

Ezi

Audiobook Review: Egomaniac by Vi Keeland

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Title: Egomaniac by Vi Keeland
Release Date: January 14th 2017
Pages:  289 • Format: Audiobook (8 hrs and 8 mins)
Published By: C. Scott Publishing Corp.
Purchase Links: Amazon US AudibleBarnes & Noble

The night I met Drew Jagger, he’d just broken into my new Park Avenue office. I dialed 9-1-1 before proceeding to attack him with my fancy new Krav Maga skills. He quickly restrained me, then chuckled, finding my attempted assault amusing.

Of course, my intruder had to be arrogant.  Only, turned out, he wasn’t an intruder at all.

Drew was the rightful occupant of my new office. He’d been on vacation while his posh space was renovated. Which was how a scammer got away with leasing me office space that wasn’t really available for rent. I was swindled out of ten grand.

The next day, after hours at the police station, Drew took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. In exchange for answering his phones while his secretary was out, he’d let me stay until I found a new place. I probably should have acted grateful and kept my mouth shut when I overheard the advice he was spewing to his clients. But I couldn’t help giving him a piece of my mind.
I never expected my body to react every time we argued. Especially when that was all we seemed to be able to do.

The two of us were complete opposites. Drew was a bitter, angry, gorgeous-as-all-hell, destroyer of relationships. And my job was to help people save their marriages. The only thing the two of us had in common was the space we were sharing.  And an attraction that was getting harder to deny by the day.

five-starsAdd to Goodreads

Vi Keeland smashed this one out of park. I immediately dismissed this book when I saw the title but don’t make the mistake I did. This book was such a great read. The person who titled this book did it a great disservice. I mean, epic fail. I don’t know if it was an attempt to get attention and sell books but Drew Jagger was absolutely not an egomaniac. I looked up the definition and Egomaniac is “a person obsessed with their own importance.”
I don’t believe heroine Emerie Rose fit that bill either. This book was actually the opposite of that title. I think the two main characters didn’t take themselves that seriously, and that was part of the book’s charm.

This story is not one of those billionaire romances. Its a story about common sense versus book smarts, personal growth and learning to open one’s eyes and heart. I really really enjoyed it. I am mega impressed with the writing. The comedic timing, the emotional touches, even Emerie’s naivete was touching. I loved the contrast between the more celebral and mild mannered therapist from Oklahoma and the playful, yet hard working New York attorney. The tone of the story was humorous, sweet and touching in parts. It was completely delightful. The author did a great job building the characters and making them relatable. Drew can be both a jerk and a sweetheart. Emerie was both clueless and yet perceptive. The character perfection lies in their flaws. They make you want to shake sense into them, laugh with them and give them comforting hugs.

What a fun audiobook. Joe Arden and Andi Arndt were awesome narrators. I found them so believable and I enjoyed every minute of this story. They really projected the chemistry and camaraderie between the characters. I couldn’t help but be sucked into Emerie and Drew’s banter. From the funny dialogue, to the sharing past pains and the building of solid relationship, I was all in this story. I have read The Baller by this same author and didn’t enjoy it half as much as this one. This is a book that will be on my re-read shelf for when I need a pick me up when I hit a reading funk. I will definitely be checking out more of Vi Keeland’s work.

If you want an entertaining romance that balances humor, chemistry and personal growth, this is the book for you.
Ezi

About Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than a million books sold, her titles have appeared in over fifty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in twelve languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

Any Time, Any Place (Billionaire Builders #2) by Jennifer Probst

(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: InkSlinger PR

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

Title: Any Time, Any Place by Jennifer Probst
Series: Billionaire Builders #2
Release Date: January 24th 2017
Pages: • Format: 400 pages (e-arc)
Published By: Pocket Gallery Books
Purchase Links: Amazon USBarnes & Noble Google PlayKoboiBooks
HGTV’s Property Brothers meets The Marriage Bargain in this second volume in the Billionaire Builders series, an all-new heart-wrenching and sexy contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst.

When she was a teen, Raven Bella Stratton’s father was killed in a horrible car crash. The bigger shock was the discovery of a woman with him—Diana Pierce—and their two fully packed suitcases with airline tickets to Paris. Devastated by her father’s betrayal, Raven went to live with her aunt, never truly overcoming the traumatic event. When she discovers that the mysterious woman had a family with a husband and three boys, Raven vows to leave the memory of her father behind.

Until Dalton Pierce visits one night and suddenly her past challenges her future…

Leaving his life in California behind to run Pierce Construction with his two older brothers, Dalton Pierce has enjoyed returning home and studying his passion of woodworking. But when he visits the local bar with his brothers one evening, he’s immediately drawn to the smart-mouthed, badass, sexy bartender who sets his body on fire. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem as intrigued by him, and his multiple advances are met with rejection. When he offers to restore the bar back to its original glory, he begins to work with her on a daily basis, and falls harder. His plan of seduction slowly weaves a web around them both, until they are caught up in the spell. But Dalton doesn’t know the secret that can either destroy them both…or finally mend two broken hearts.

four-stars

Dalton Pierce is the youngest and still trying to prove himself in the family business Pierce Brother’s Construction. He doesn’t believe in permanence when it comes to his love-life, preferring casual hookups with no attachments. As fate would have it, the owner of a popular bar, Raven Hawthorne appears immune to his charms and isn’t interested in a casual hookup. The more she rebuffs his advances, the more intrigued he is. When Raven hires Pierce Brother’s Construction to renovate her bar, Dalton sees it as his opportunity to show her that he isn’t the shallow ladies’ man she believes him to be.

When they finally give into the sexual tension, Dalton and Raven realize they may have something special. But Raven knows things about Dalton and his family. In fact, Raven targeted the Pierce family for revenge. Will the past hurts keep Dalton and Raven from embracing a future together or have they built enough to overcome the secrets?
I enjoyed this story and the characters. I felt drawn to the story and the people in it. The author Jennifer Probst did a great job of creating characters that the readers could empathize with and root for. Both Dalton and Raven were good people being held back from love because of the way they lost their parents. Their inability to find out the circumstances of car accident left them unable to trust people as well as the institution of love. Their slow crawl to a relationship allowed them to chip away at their respective walls. They laughed together, they had fun together and they eventually found out they were compatible together. I struggled with the fact that the man who didn’t believe in marriage or forever said such romantic and poetic words. In fact, Dalton did and said a lot of forever-ish things. I also don’t believe for a second that Dalton and his siblings wouldn’t have wanted to know everything there was to know the man who was in the accident with their mother including his child. That part seemed unrealistic to me. The chemistry though was tangible and the connection intense. With all that happened, the author kept the character’s authentic to themselves and I enjoyed the continual restoration of Dalton’s relationship with his brothers. What I do love about Jennifer Probst is she writes serious matter but without angst and you always leave her books feeling good about the conclusion. Her writing makes you smile, sigh, feel sad and later hopeful and happy. I definitely recommend this contemporary romance to those who love a good story about family, love and forgiveness. I look forward to book 3.

About Jennifer Probst

Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She took a short hiatus to get married, get pregnant, buy a house, get pregnant again, pursue a master’s in English Literature, and rescue two shelter dogs. Now she is writing again.
She makes her home in Upstate New York with the whole crew. Her sons keep her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean.
She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, was ranked #6 on Amazon’s Best Books for 2012. She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.

Calm Before the Storm (Rising Storm #5) by Larissa Ione

Rising Storm - Header banner We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the Release Day Launch for CALM BEFORE THE STORM by Larissa Ione! CALM BEFORE THE STORM is Episode 5 in the Rising Storm Series brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights! Grab your copy of the latest episode in this awesome series today!

Calm Before the Storm - CoverRising Storm Episode 5 (Oct. 22): Larissa Ione’s Calm Before the Storm

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Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy…

Nestled among rolling hills and painted with vibrant wildflowers, the bucolic town of Storm, Texas, seems like nothing short of perfection.

But there are secrets beneath the facade. Dark secrets. Powerful secrets. The kind that can destroy lives and tear families apart. The kind that can cut through a town like a tempest, leaving jealousy and destruction in its wake, along with shattered hopes and broken dreams. All it takes is one little thing to shatter that polish.

Reading like an on-going drama in the tradition of classic day and night-time soap operas like Dallas, Dynasty, and All My Children, Rising Storm is full of scandal, deceit, romance, passion, and secrets.

With 1001 Dark Nights as the “producer,” Julie Kenner and Dee Davis use a television model with each week building on the last to create a storyline that fulfills the promise of a drama-filled soap opera. Joining Kenner and Davis in the “writer’s room” is an incredible group of New York Times bestselling authors such as Lexi Blake, Elisabeth Naughton, Larissa Ione, Rebecca Zanetti and Lisa Mondello who have brought their vision of Storm to life.

A serial soap opera containing eight episodes in season one, the season premiere of Rising Storm, TEMPEST RISING, debuted September 24th with each subsequent episode releasing consecutively this fall.

So get ready. The storm is coming.

Calm Before the Storm - Teaser 1

About CALM BEFORE THE STORM: Episode 5 of the Rising Storm Series

Secrets, Sex and Scandals …

Welcome to Storm, Texas, where passion runs hot, desire runs deep, and secrets have the power to destroy… Get ready. The storm is coming.

Marcus Alvarez fled Storm when his father’s drinking drove him over the edge. With his mother and sisters in crisis, Marcus is forced to return to the town he thought he’d left behind. But it is his attraction to a very grown up Brittany Rush that just might be enough to guarantee that he stays.

Sexy man in aviator sunglasses touching his hair

MY REVIEW

Marcus Alvarez finally came back home after running away years ago. In his words, we find out why he left and got more confirmation about his father Hector’s mean and cruel behavior towards his wife and Marcus, but never for this precious daughter Dakota. There is more heat simmering between Marcus and Brittany Rush, the senator’s daughter. I like the whole wrong side of the tracks and rich girl theme, but I know the Rush family will do something to crush the Alvarez family.  I like Marcus and it is clear that he is a good person. I hope he can save his little sister Dakota because she is entangled in a mess.

I am more excited by the fact that Ginny’s story is to unravel and throw a lot of people into a tailspin. She has a budding relationship with veteran Logan, but Jacob’s family will not appreciate being lied to.

This series is still very enjoyable and I plan to continue shortly.

 

Experience Rising Storm Here…

Rising Storm - Book Banner 2Rising Storm Episode 1 (Sept. 24): Julie Kenner’s Tempest Rising
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Rising Storm Episode 2 (Oct. 1): Lexi Blake’s White Lightning
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Rising Storm Episode 3 (Oct. 8): Elisabeth Naughton’s Crosswinds
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Rising Storm Episode 4 (Oct. 15): Jennifer Probst’s Dance in the Wind
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Rising Storm Episode 5 (Oct. 22): Larissa Ione’s Calm Before the Storm
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Rising Storm Episode 6 (Oct. 29): Rebecca Zanetti’s Take the Storm
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Rising Storm Episode 7 (Nov. 5): Lisa Mondello’s Weather the Storm
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Rising Storm Episode 8 (Nov. 12): Dee Davis’s Thunder Rolls
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Attractive young couple about to kiss against wooden planks background

Author pic - Larissa IoneAbout Larissa Ione:

Larissa Ione is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. An Air Force veteran, she traded in a career as a meteorologist to pursue her passion of writing. She now spends her days in pajamas with her computer, strong coffee, and supernatural worlds. She believes in celebrating everything, and would never be caught without a bottle of Champagne chilling in the fridge…just in case. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her U.S. Coast Guard husband, her teenage son, a rescue cat named Vegas, and her very own hellhound, a King Shepherd named Hexe.

Rising StormWebsite | Facebook |Twitter | 1001 Dark Nights | Rising Storm on Goodreads

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Audiobook Review: Defy the Dawn (Midnight Breed #14) by Lara Adrian

Source: Tantor Audio

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

Title: Defy the Dawn by Lara Adrian
Series: Midnight Breed #14
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Format: Audiobook (8 hrs and 2 mins)
Published By: by Lara Adrian, LLC
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & NobleTantor Audio

DaywalkerBrynne Kirkland survived a hellish upbringing as a product of a madman’s lab. Tough, driven, and devoted to her work in law enforcement, Brynne has never dared to risk opening her heart to anyone–least of all a handsome immortal from a world on the verge of war against hers.

Atlantean warrior Zael left the intrigue of his realm several lifetimes ago, along with the battles he fought as one of the queen’s legion. As a free-spirited loner walking the fringe of two worlds–that of his secretive and powerful people, and the outside world belonging to mankind and the Breed–it was never his intention to return to combat and bloodshed. Nor had he imagined that he might ever be tempted into anything stronger than desire . . . until he meets Brynne.

Thrust together as allies of the Order in the fight against a diabolical enemy, Zael and Brynne embark on a mission that will ultimately force them to decide between duty to their people, and a passion that defies all bounds.

four-stars

This love story actually began in the last book but Daywalker Brynne Kirkland just got fired from her job at JUSTIS. She is forced to see refuge with the Order and her half-sister Tavia Chase. Atlantean warrior Ekizael just happened to see Brynne at a club and their attraction get the best of them. When Zael sees Brynne in trouble and finds out her secret, it actually bonds them together more closely. See,
Brynne is a Gen One Breedmate who is also a daywalker. The experiments conducted by Dragos had some unfortunate side effects for Brynne, and she harbored that secret form from everyone. Zael didn’t shy away from her and he actually nursed her back to physical and mental health.

Together, they set out to aid Lucan Thorne and The Order by attempting to forge an alliance between the Atlantean Queen and The Order because the Atlantean can help in the war with Opus Nostrum. After the last attack on the JUSTIS building made it obvious that The Order needed all the help they can get.

I enjoyed this book because Brynne fought her feelings for so long. The author made Zael work f or it. Not only were they hot as a pair, but the author used their love journey to advance the plot against the ancients. The audiobook was very entertaining and the narrator made the Brynne feel both strong and capable, yet vulnerable. Zael’s voice radiated strength and gentleness that was perfect to a lonely and isolated Brynne. They were two peas in a pod. There was plenty of action, suspense and foreshadowing for the next book. Certainly the same formula that we have come to expect from Lara Adrian and I can’t wait for the next book.

Ezi

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher Datta

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher DattaSource: Novel Publicity

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

Title: Touched with Fire by Christopher Datta
Series: The Fire Trilogy, #1
Release Date: December 07, 2016
Pages: • Format: 11 hrs and 12 mins (Audiobook)
Published By: Christopher Datta
Purchase Links:   Amazon USBarnes & NobleAudible

Ellen Craft is property; in this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father”: the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale – indeed, lily-white – skin. Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run north. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey – south again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

three-stars
I have mixed feelings about this audiobook. I am so glad the author took on the story of Ellie Craft and weaved an incredible story of heroism. But that is also part of the problem for me, parts of it were just that, unbelievable. The first part of this book was focused on Ellie as a young slave girl trying to navigate and come to terms with where she fit in with her family and community. The second part of the book was so heavy on war facts. I didn’t quite enjoy the second part as much because I couldn’t buy Ellie as union soldier hiding in plain sight so to speak. The narrator’s voice was okay but the singing parts grated my nerves.

I found the author’s writing to be basic and rough in the beginning, but in the second part of the story, the author found his groove. In addition, the characters in this story under developed and too one dimensional. even Ellie. The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). I found the transitions from scene to scene to be uneven. It just didn’t flow smoothly. It got better later in the book.

Ellen was born a “quadroon”, one quarter black and three quarters white. Ellie was born to a half white slave woman who was raped by her owner. The result was that Elle looked white, a fact that made clear her parentage. For most of her young life, Ellie felt angry that she wasn’t acknowledge by her father as his daughter, even though she knew she was a product of rape. Ellie was also angry at her half-sister for treating her like help, and not recognizing her as her sister and perhaps equal. It just doesn’t compute with what we know of slave paternity issues back then. If you were born of a slave, it doesn’t matter if you have white, you were still a slave and almost never acknowledged. The internal musings of why her father didn’t accept or acknowledge her as his own painted Elle as a child who saw herself as more than a slave. This also supports the other slaves claim that Ellie was uppity and thought she was better. Ellie never bothered to deny these assertions, thus incurred the scorn of the other slaves. So, for the first part of her life, Ellie didn’t see herself as a black slave.

When Ellie was barely a young adult, she had a violent encounter with the creepy Reverend. She began espousing views on her blackness that come out of nowhere to me. But this is part of the story I enjoyed most, When Ellie and William become a couple. There was love with this couple and I enjoyed seeing Ellie for the first time show genuine affection, need and concern for someone else. He made her appear vulnerable and more human so I liked this Ellie. Their attempt to seek freedom required Ellie to pass both as a white person and as a man, that’s when things went implausible for me. It’s one thing to for an illiterate slave to pass as a white person, but as a white slave owner and man travelling. There is more to pretending to be a man than wearing clothes. But Ellie pulled it off for six years as Eli where she was fighting, sleeping and leaving among other men. Either way, I couldn’t connect with Ellie as a young girl nor as this cantankerous union soldier. I really wanted to like her because I had empathy for her plight, but she just always came off as self-centered to me.

The ending of this story got predictable but it was satisfying. This subject matter is a sensitive one and I think the author gave the reader a hero to root for. I just would have liked a little more realism in emotion and actions by the characters. I haven’t read the actual account of Ellen Craft because I didn’t want it to color my opinion of this book. My opinions are based solely on my experience with this author’s narrative.

Audiobook Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Audiobook Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

Title: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon
Series: TBA
Release Date: May 10th, 2016
Pages: 352 • Format: Audiobook (11 hrs and 3 mins)
Purchase Links: Amazon USBarnes & Noble

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?
four-stars

I love Amy Harmon because she just knows how to evoke emotion that just grasps the reader heart and mind. This narrator was perfect for this story. Her voice was melodic and
added emotional depth to each character. The author and narrator were a great tandem of story writer and story teller.

This book seems simple on the surface but it is a lot deeper than people think. It is a look at society and the things that divide and separate class of people. It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away majority of the plot and spoilers. I love the quotes that seem so unpretentious but yet profound. “I wondered if weakness wasn’t just as dangerous. The weak allowed evil to flourish.” or “Silence was a close cousin to invisibility.” This book is sprinkled with similar sayings.

But I think of how as a mother I have “silenced” my children’s words and actions so they can fit and not be subjected to the hate of others. But in silencing them, I inadvertently rob them of their inherent power.

I am used to Amy Harmon in the contemporary romance genre and this a slight departure from that norm was a welcomed change. Don’t get me wrong, the romance is still the backbone of this story despite it being in the fantasy genre. I enjoyed Lark, King Tiras, and Kjel. I did find Kjel to the most complex of them all because he had to work out his set of beliefs in a different way.
I told some friends in a Buddy read that this book was like Fantasy lite, almost the way Diet Coke is lighter version of Coke. For those lovers of fantasy, like Anne Bishop type books, this book will not meet that level and depth, but in terms of romance, I was very satisfied. I did have a number of questions unanswered at the end but I am excited that the story continues on in book 2.

Ezi

About Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in thirteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written ten novels – including the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as The Law of Moses, Infinity + One and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her recent release, The Bird and the Sword, is a Goodreads Choice finalist in Fantasy.

Audio Tour: Deathless & Divided (Chicago War #1) by Bethany-Kris

(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: IndieSage PR

Deathless & Divided

by Bethany-Kris
Chicago War #1
Narrator: Roberto Scarlato
Publication Date: December 2016 (Audio Edition)
Genres: Audiobook, Mafia Romance, Organized Crime

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Amazon Audible: http://amzn.to/2jUBxum

Synopsis: Lies and love. This is how a war starts.A life for a life. That’s the mafia way. Damian Rossi owes his life to a man who is ready to collect. That payment comes in the form of an arranged marriage to the daughter of another leading family in the Chicago Outfit. He’s ready to follow through, even if that means making sure Lily knows she’s his.

Lily DeLuca isn’t being given a choice. Forced home to marry a man she doesn’t know and back into a life she’d rather forget, her world is full of half-truths, buried pain, and uncertainty. But Damian is nothing like she expects. His motives aren’t clear. Her beliefs are being tested.

When it comes to this world, no man can be trusted. Someone is ready to flip the Chicago Outfit on its side all for the promise of something better. But no one runs a clean game and these men play for keeps. When blood begins to paint Chicago red, four families will be divided by loyalty, hatred, and revenge. There is no hiding. There is no safety.

No one is deathless.

No one.

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REVIEW:

This was one of the lowest angst Mafia romance stories I’ve listened to in a while. The plot was just as front and center as the romance. Bethany-Kris did a really good at intertwining the character’s plight with the Outfit (the mafia) with the love story. The narrator Robert Scarlato did a great job with the various voices. His accent and intonation was authentic and entertaining. I felt eased into the story by the way he chronicled the character’s journey.

Lily DeLuca had been kept out of the mafia spotlight by her brothers Dino and Theo. Unfortunately, Lily was born into the family and eventually had to take her place as a mafia princess. Lily was so resentful when she discovered that her brother Dino has arranged for her to marry The Outfit’s enforcer Damian Rossi.

Damien was an orphan like Lily, but his allegiance was to the outfit. This marriage was just another task he was willing to accomplish for the outfit…or was it?
I liked Damian the most in the story. He worked and kept his head down. He wasn’t overly ambitious and he was loyal. Though he was a deadly assassin, he had a soft spot that was hidden to almost all. He was sexy, faithful and steadfast.

I love that the author allowed Damian to win Lily’s heart. He didn’t just go all alpha male and insist Lily will marry him to fulfill the contract. Bethany-Kris added a layer of cultivation to Damian by making him appear more compassionate about Lily’s reservations. They were a well-suited couple and I enjoyed how they were able to bond to each other outside of mafia politics and hidden agendas.

The mafia side of the plot was also very intriguing. This book had the usual crime, murder, takeovers and betrayals we have come to expect in such novels. I found myself trying to figure out the puppet master and their game. I am hoping audiobook 2 will be available soon.

AUDIO EXCERPT

ABOUT BETHANY-KRIS

Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to three young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.

To keep up-to-date with new releases from Bethany-Kris, sign up to her New Release Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bf9lzD

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ABOUT ROBERTO SCARLATO (NARRATOR)

Scarlato grew up in a small suburb of Chicago. He has a deep, rich voice that is easily manipulated for multiple characters. He is married to his high school sweetheart. They have a three year old daughter.

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About Bethany-Kris

Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to three young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.

Review: Keepsake (True North, Book 3) by Sarina Bowen

Review: Keepsake (True North, Book 3) by Sarina Bowen(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)

Title: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #3
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Pages: 326 • Format: Audiobook (10hrs, 8mins)
Published By: Rennie Road Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble

There’s a first time for everything.

Lark Wainright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for much more than farm labor.

four-stars

I enjoyed this book as much as I did the previous one. It had family, damaged characters and the readers finally got to find out Zachariah. Lark and Zach were a great match together. Both characters were at the Shipley Farm in Vermont looking for a safe haven. Zach and Lark were trying to heal from past hurts, so it was so sweet to watch the evolution of the characters.

I am glad that we didn’t know wild child Lark as I am not sure that I would have liked her. However, she was the carrot that drew Zachary out of his cocoon. They were sweet and tender with each other and their connection was intense.

In addition to the romance, I love the tidbits we learn about farming, cider and apples. I never gave much thought to the choices farmers make but it seems to be such an interesting process. I also love the Griff’s family and how accepting they are of everyone around them.

The writing is smooth, entertaining and completely engaging. I really enjoyed this book as well as the series overall. I loved the ending to this story.

 

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives in Vermont’s Green Mountains with her family, six chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.