Beth Flynn, Ilona Andrews, Penny Reid, Shay Savage, Tracey Garvis Graves
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Paranormal, Romance
I try to review one book a week here at Parajunkee’s View, but in between I read whenever I can. Here are a few of the highlights over the last few months, with just a “PJV Quickie” to tempt you. I may not have rated them all 5 stars on GoodReads, but the stories stayed with me long after I read them, and that’s the kind of book I love to read.
(links through book covers are amazon affiliate links)
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) December 2, 2013/NYLA
On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.
And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
PJV Quickie: I really, really enjoyed this. I listened to the audiobook, so there were a few spots I missed, but I’ll definitely buy the ebook. (This is why I usually only listen to books that I’ve already read, sometimes you have to pay attention to the road while driving, not the audiobook you’re listening to.) Not a romance but enough of a possibility in the future to make me happy, and the narrator was terrific. 5 stars.
Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn (Nine Minutes #1) July 23, 2014/Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
On May 15, 1975, fifteen-year-old Ginny Lemon is abducted from a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale by a member of one of the most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs in South Florida.
From that moment on, her life is forever changed. She gets a new name, a new identity and a new life in the midst of the gang’s base on the edge of the Florida Everglades—a frightening, rough and violent world much like the swamps themselves, where everyone has an alias and loyalty is tantamount to survival.
And at the center of it all is the gang’s leader, Grizz: massive, ruggedly handsome, terrifying and somehow, when it comes to Ginny, tender. She becomes his obsession and the one true love of his life.
So begins a tale of emotional obsession and manipulation, of a young woman ripped from everything she knows and forced to lean on the one person who provides attention, affection and care: her captor. Precocious and intelligent, but still very much a teenager, Ginny struggles to adapt to her existence, initially fighting and then coming to terms with her captivity.
Will she be rescued? Will she escape? Will she get out alive—or get out at all? Part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age novel, filled with mystery, romance and unexpected turns, Nine Minutes takes readers into the world of one motorcycle gang and inside the heart of a young girl, whose abduction brought about its fall.
PJV Quickie: I was looking for a good MC romance when I saw Dear Author tweet about this book. She reviewed it this weekend. Although I wouldn’t say this was a romance, I also couldn’t put it down. There were some problems, but overall an absolutely riveting story. Dark and totally fucked up, but I couldn’t turn away and will be reading the second book when it comes out! 4 stars.
Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid (Knitting in the City #4) August 28, 2014/Caped Publishing
There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, reclusive mountain man, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.
This is a full-length novel, can be read as a standalone, and is the fourth book in the ‘Knitting in the City’ series.
PJV Quickie: Absolutely fabulous – a really great story that made me laugh and made me cry (chap 19/20 – have a tissue handy). Excellent writing; I think this may be my favorite book in the series. It’s got a different feel than the previous books but is just as good and my can’t-put-it-down meter is off the charts. If you’re not reading this series, why not? Fans of Alice Clayton should give it a read. 5 stars.
Transcendence by Shay Savage February 13, 2014/Shay Savage, LLC
It’s said that women and men are from two different planets when it comes to communication, but how can they overcome the obstacles of prehistoric times when one of them simply doesn’t have the ability to comprehend language?
Ehd’s a caveman living on his own in a harsh wilderness. He’s strong and intelligent, but completely alone. When he finds a beautiful young woman in his pit trap, it’s obvious to him that she is meant to be his mate. He doesn’t know where she came from; she’s wearing some pretty odd clothing, and she makes a lot of noises with her mouth that give him a headache. Still, he’s determined to fulfill his purpose in life – provide for her, protect her, and put a baby in her.
Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or exactly how she got there. She’s confused and distressed by her predicament, and there’s a caveman hauling her back to his cavehome. She’s not at all interested in Ehd’s primitive advances, and she just can’t seem to get him to listen. No matter what she tries, getting her point across to this primitive, but beautiful, man is a constant – and often hilarious – struggle.
With only each other for company, they must rely on one another to fight the dangers of the wild and prepare for the winter months. As they struggle to coexist, theirs becomes a love story that transcends language and time.
PJV Quickie: Jill Myles makes me wish for all the strange books, so this was on my wishlist and when it went on sale for $.99 I snagged it. I’m so glad I did! This was quite different from anything I’ve read. I didn’t realize the entire story was told in the caveman’s POV. There were some spots I rolled my eyes (ie “that’s convenient”) but so many other spots made me laugh. I did enjoy it, and the end made it worth the read, especially when I thought about the story knowing what I knew at the end. My co-worker ended up reading it the same weekend and we spent that whole Monday walking past each other’s office saying “Ehd luffsBeh” and “ksszz”. 4 stars.
Uncharted by Tracey Garvis Graves (On the Island #1.5) July 2, 2013/Dutton Adult
Tracey Garvis Graves – and Anna and T.J. – return in this companion novella to the New York Times bestseller On the Island.
When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.
Calia Reed wasn’t part of Owen’s plans. The beautiful British girl – on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James – made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn’t know anything about the life he left behind.
But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.
And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.’s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.
PJV Quickie: I started listening to an old favorite last week, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (read my straight-talking review here), and ended up reading the rest of the book when I was away from my audible. I was looking over my wishlist and realized I’d never read the companion novella, Uncharted, so I bought it and tore through it in a day. We get to see how Anna and T.J are doing in the future, and we learn about Bones, the mysterious skeleton on the island, and another character I won’t mention because spoilers. If you read and enjoyed On the Island, I highly recommend this companion novella.
What books have you read recently that knocked your socks off?
Anything you want to recommend?
PJV Quickie: If you are looking for a quick new adult story with a little bit of romance and a little bit of mystery this could be the one for you.
Review: Play Me by Blue Ashcroft is the first in an episodic novella series and is just under 100 pages. It follows a group of characters that are gamers. Kira, the main character, reunites with her friends after running away from an abusive boyfriend. This book was a really quick read. I enjoyed that the characters were gamers which isn’t something I can personally identify with, but there wasn’t a lot of specifics where games are concerned. Ethan and Ollie were definitely my favorite characters and I don’t think there was enough of them in the story. I liked the small romance between Kira and Alex, but there wasn’t that much in the story.
My problem with this book is the pacing and lack of story development. I get that this is meant to be an episodic series where a new book comes out every few weeks, but I feel like the books need to be more complete and resolute. Not much happened and when the story did pick up it ended. I feel like that was a pacing issue with it only being 90 pages. Also the characters mentioned a lot of events and people that didn’t get explained or touched upon enough.
Overall I found this to be a fun read. I would really like to see where these characters go. I recommend this book if you are looking for a quick NA contemporary read.
PJV Quickie: I’m a huge Kit Rocha fan and when I got the opportunity to review the latest book in their Jealousy series, I jumped on it! Beyond Jealousy is a sex-fueled tale that takes us back to the O’Kanes and Sector 4, where life is hard but can be very, very good, and love can be found if you’re willing to fight for it. Although not my favorite in the series, Beyond Jealousy ended with a bang that ultimately left me satisfied and ready for more O’Kane action.
Rachel Riley was raised in Eden, always doing the right thing, which included working for her father’s illegal brewing company. When things went bad, she took the fall and was exiled from Eden. Rachel’s father had contacts with Dallas O’Kane, the leader of Sector 4, and he arranged for Riley to go there.
Lorenzo Cruz has been programmed to be one of Eden’s elite soldiers since he was a small boy. Being exiled to Sector 4, he still has contacts within Eden and is loyal to the O’Kanes. He can get all his wildest urges fulfilled in Eden, but his feelings for Rachel are new and he doesn’t know how to deal with them. Nor does he know what to do about his feelings for Ace, who’s tied to Rachel in a complicated knot that none of them seems to know how to unravel.
Ace Santana is Sector 4’s tattoo guy, and a dirty, dirty boy. After a cage fight with Cruz that ended with erotic undertones, he’s having a sort-of-relationship with Cruz, but he still has complicated feelings for Rachel and wants her too. He knows the three of them could be good, at least until they’re done with him… because with a past like his, no one would want him for keeps.
When it’s discovered that bootleggers are passing off poor-quality hooch as quality O’Kane liquor, the hunt is on to discover who the culprit is. It’s a dangerous business, and before it’s over, people will get hurt.
I love the world Kit Rocha has created in their Beyond series. Sector 4 is a dark, dreary place full of outlaws, but they’ve managed to carve something of a sanctuary for themselves where pleasure is plentiful and consentual, in other words: HOT! That being said, I have mixed feelings about Beyond Jealousy; for me, the first half was kind of slow but the second half flew by.
I liked Rachel, Ace and Cruz in previous books and have been looking forward to their story; I wasn’t expecting Cruz to be the ‘Alpha’ of the trio and that was a pleasant surprise. All of which makes my next statement seem a little strange: the reason the first half of the book was slow for me was that there was just too much sex. It kind of went on and on; it was hot and sexy, but didn’t do much to advance the plot.
Now, don’t get me wrong – No one writes hot, dirty, sensual sex scenes like Kit Rocha. I liked the sex, especially the angry shower sex scene between Cruz and Ace, and the ‘tattoo sex’ between the trio. And once the bootlegging plot did move along I was fascinated. I’ve said in previous reviews of this series that I wish we could see more of the O’Kane world and feel that way again about Beyond Jealousy. Seeing the tentative relationship between Sector 4 and Eden, and how each faction takes what they need from the other is fascinating to me. I found myself wondering things like, how do they get hot showers? And wondering about the chemicals fed to the general population that are mentioned in the story.
Of course there was conflict that made a HEA seem unobtainable, and I thought it was well-done: the self-destructive actions from one character was both realistic and heartbreaking. There was also some drama near the end that had me holding my breath and wondering about the repercussions of certain promises that were made.
I’m giving the first half of the book 3 stars, and the second half 5 stars, averaging 4 stars. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Beyond Addiction.
I think fans of dystopian romance or erotic romance will love this; there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Beyond Jealousy':
- Flesh by Kylie Scott
- Driven by Eve Silver
- After the Crux by Dani Worth
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Kit Rocha is actually two people—Bree & Donna, best friends who are living the dream. They get paid to work in their pajamas, talk on the phone, and write down all the stories they used to make up in their heads.
Beyond Shame was their first dystopian erotic romance. They also write paranormal romance as Moira Rogers. You can find them on the web at the following places:
Stalk the authors here:
Moira Rogers: http://www.moirarogers.com/
PJV Quickie: I feel like Jessica Clare’s “Games” series is one of the best-kept secrets in Romancelandia – this is such a fun, sexy series; I just can’t get enough of it!
Zara Pritchard was an Olympic ice-skater whose star has fallen very, very far. At the 2002 Olympic Games, she was a shoe-in for the gold, a cocky 14-year-old with an amazing career ahead of her. Then she fell during her performance, walked off the ice, and flipped off the audience when they booed her. Needless to say, she lost all her endorsements and her coach, and now she’s a has-been who gives skating lessons to 4-6 year-olds at the local rink and skates around in a dinosaur costume for extra cash. When one of the skaters on Ice Dancing with the Stars gets pregnant, the show invites Zara to fill in.
Ty Randall is a MMA fighter who recently had a bit of bad publicity due to the fact that he bit an opponent’s nose in his last fight, earning himself the nickname “Ty the MMA Biter”. His agent is working on image control and decided Ice Dancing with the Stars was a good place to start. Ty is not interested in doing the show and plans to ‘skate by’ (<–heh, see what I did there?), doing as little as possible.
Zara is determined to win the competition and use this chance to revive her skating career, but Ty is not interested. Then, by way of an unfortunate accident, Ty reluctantly agrees to help Zara. The more time he spends with the feisty, talkative skater, the more he thinks maybe she’s not so bad, and maybe, just maybe, they can win this thing.
I know I just did a review for book 2 in this series, Playing Games, but I feel like shouting from the rooftops what an awesome series this is – so cute, funny, and very sexy. I can’t believe more people aren’t raving about these books.
I thought Zara was a sympathetic heroine – she made a mistake at a young age and 10 years later is still paying for it. She’s thrilled to be given this second chance and doesn’t want to blow it. Her nervous chatter was cringe-worthy and I could totally relate. It took me a bit longer to warm up to Ty, but the more I read him the more I melted. I really liked them together – they didn’t get off to a good start but as the story progresses their relationship moves along at a good, believable pace. Their personalities are different, yet similar, as they are both athletes with a competitive spirit: once Ty sees how things are stacked against them, suddenly he wants to win too.
There’s quite a bit of humor in Ice Games – you can tell that Ty really, really doesn’t want to wear sequins, and Zara is a *bit* superstitious. The bites at the beginning of each chapter were funny yet sweet. The Ice Dancing with the Stars setting was a fun way to throw these characters together, and I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes cattiness between all the characters – these skaters have been competing against each other for years and a TV show isn’t going to change those relationship dynamics.
My only complaint is that it was too short – it was a fun read and I didn’t want to stop!
Ice Games is perfect for fans of sports-themed romance and/or MMA-fighter heroes, reality tv junkies, and contemporary romance fans. I don’t watch reality tv and I have loved all three books in this series.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Ice Games':
PJV Quickie: I don’t know why I picked Fading to review – on the one hand, it’s an amazing book and I want to tell everyone to READ IT!! On the other hand, it’s hard to put into words my feelings and reactions; Fading ripped my emotions apart and then put them back together again, one page at a time.
Review: Candace Parker is starting her senior year of college, hoping/planning for a career in ballet. She spends most of her time working at an indie coffee shop, studying, or practicing ballet. She does not have a good relationship with her wealthy parents, who view her ballet dreams as a fanciful whim and regularly ask when she’s going to get married. They’re constantly comparing her to their friends’ children and she doesn’t feel like she measures up. Candace decides maybe she’s been too serious and standoffish and decides to accept a date from Jack, a friend she knows through her parents. Although she’s not really ‘feeling it’, she accepts a second date with Jack in the hopes that she’s just not giving him enough of a chance. She ends the night in the Emergency room, brutally raped, beaten and unconscious. Fading is the story of After.
After… Candace takes refuge with her BFF Jace and his boyfriend Mark. She’s trying to forget her attack; some days she succeeds, but most days she fails miserably. She’s withdrawn from her friends and is having trouble with ballet. Then she meets Ryan (a friend of Jace and Mark) and slowly gets to know him over a period of months. He’s patient with her (she has a lot of PTSD), and she likes him, but she knows if he ever finds out what happened to her that he won’t want her. As Ryan’s feelings grow into more than friendship, he knows she’s got secrets and he’s patient because he knows she’s worth it. The problem is, does Candace know she’s worth it?
I can’t remember how I stumbled across Fading. I think I was just in the mood for a dark read and it caught my eye. At first I was all, “Nah – not another New Adult book with this same theme”, but I took a chance and am so glad I did. It’s an amazing story of pain and fear and the long, difficult road to achieving a new normal.
I’m not going to lie – the beginning of the book is brutal. It’s painful to read. But the way Ms. Blair writes, I found myself unable to turn away. While I have never been in her situation, I still found Candace relatable and fell right into her story. I can’t say I felt her pain, because again, I have not had been in her situation, but I can say it was portrayed in a way that made me believe it was real. Did I find myself frustrated with her character? Absolutely – I wish she would have made some different choices than the ones she did, but I thought the author did a good job of explaining why she made the choices she did.
I loved Ryan. Loved him. We’re talking book boyfriend material here. He was patient and kind and the sort of man any parent would choose for their daughter. (Except, of course, Candace’s parents.) Candace’s friends Jace and Mark were also marvelous characters. I thought they were three-dimensional and written as supporting characters who just happened to be gay, their sexuality did not define their characters. They were fiercely protective of Candace and I loved them for that.
There may have been a loose end that was tied up little too neatly, and sometimes I thought to myself, “she’s crying AGAIN?”, but other than that I have no complaints. I had so many feels while reading Fading: horror, sadness, hope, and happiness, and the ending made the journey so very worth it.
Fading would be a good pick for someone who enjoys dark reads, new adult, and sensitive, emotional romance. If reading about sexual violence is a trigger for you, however, you might want to skip this one.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Fading':
Romancing the Weekends: Time for a Quickie!!
I only review one book a week here at PJV, but I read many more books than you see here at the Romancing the Weekend feature. I hit a streak of some pretty darn good reads lately and thought I’d share:
Title: Love Irresistibly (FBI/US Attorney #4)
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Author: Julie James
Published: April 2, 2013 by Berkley
HE’S USED TO GETTING WHAT HE WANTS…
A former football star and one of Chicago’s top prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan will do anything to nail a corrupt state senator, which means he needs Brooke Parker’s help. As general counsel for a restaurant company, she can get a bug to the senator’s table at one of her five-star restaurants so the FBI can eavesdrop on him. All Cade has to do is convince Brooke to cooperate—and he’s not afraid to use a little charm, or the power of his office, to do just that.
AND WHAT HE WANTS IS HER.
A savvy businesswoman, Brooke knows she needs to play ball with the U.S. Attorney’s office—even if it means working with Cade. No doubt there’s a sizzling attraction beneath all their sarcastic quips, but Brooke is determined to keep things casual. Cade agrees—until a surprising turn of events throws his life into turmoil, and he realizes that he wants more than just a good time from the one woman with whom he could fall terrifyingly, irresistibly in love . . .
My new favorite in this series!! Loved both Cade and Brooke. Funny dialogue, a sexy hero, and a heroine who knows she’s smart and doesn’t pretend she’s not. This is what contemporary romance should be. <3<3<3<3<3
Title: Rush Me
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Author: Allison Parr
Type: New Adult
Published: April 8, 2013 by Carina Press
When post-grad Rachael Hamilton accidentally gatecrashes a pro-athlete party, she ends up face-to-face with Ryan Carter, the NFL’s most beloved quarterback.
While most girls would be thrilled to meet the attractive young millionaire, Rachael would rather spend time with books than at sporting events, and she has more important things to worry about than romance. Like her parents pressuring her to leave her unpaid publishing internship for law school. Or her brother, who’s obliviously dating Rachael’s high school bully. Or that same high school’s upcoming reunion.
Still, when Ryan’s rookie teammate attaches himself to Rachael, she ends up cohosting Friday night dinners for half a dozen football players.
Over pancake brunches, charity galas, and Alexander the Great Rachael realizes all the judgments she’d made about Ryan are wrong. But how can a Midwestern Irish-Catholic jock with commitment problems and an artsy, gun-shy Jewish New Englander ever forge a partnership? Rachael must let down her barriers if she wants real love–even if that opens her up to pain that could send her back into her emotional shell forever.
I really liked this – great characters, just the right amount of angst, a sports figure hero…all things that make me happy Were there some problems with the story? Sure. But I was so into it I didn’t care. I read the last page and immediately wanted more…..
Title: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)
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Author: Richelle Mead
Type: Young Adult Paranormal
Published: February 12, 2013 by Razorbill
In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next.
Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.
I know, I know: That awful “Who is Marcus Finch?” ad campaign was the worst. But I really liked the VA series and this spinoff has been good so I bought the book anyway. I’m so glad I did, it was awesome – I think this one’s my favorite in this series so far. I totally <3 Adrian!! And the ending – OMG… Adrian fans need to check this one out, pronto.
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Author: Katy Evans
Type: New Adult
Published: April 9, 2013 (Self-Published)
A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…
Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.
He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .
But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.
I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.
If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?
Ohhhh – so good. I want to hold this book tight and just… *makes squeezy motions with hands* There were a few spots that I could nitpick, but overall, yesssssss. Sexy overbearing hero, great heroine. I couldn’t put it down.