The Reapers Books 4-6, Donna Grant

Reapers Series, Donna Grant

There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I am coming for you...

Dark Alpha's Lover (Reapers Book 4) by [Grant, Donna] Fintan is the most stoic of all the Reapers.  His life before becoming a Reaper was filled with blood and death and loyalty, until betrayal took his life and his willingness to feel.  With a heart locked and sealed from feeling anything other than loyalty to Death and the other Reapers, he carries out his duty and nothing more.  Until Catriona.  Her family has drawn the Fae for generations and their bloodline has been imbued with powers beyond any other Halfling has ever exhibited.  Cat is sure she is the only one that has ever been skipped and yet Bran pursues her relentlessly.  With her growing feelings for Fintan and Fintan's slowly-thawing heart they might uncover the mystery behind why Bran needs her.   But along the way she'll lose something dear to her and only her wit and inner strength will be able to save the love she never expected.

I was greatly anticipating Fintan's story and was surprised by the softness, tenderness, and vulnerability that marked his tale.  I expected something darker but was immensely pleased with his story.  The connection between Fintan and Cat was a little flat but I liked where it ended up because it was a relationship that grew a little slower and with a lot more heartache in various forms.  As for the drama surrounding the Reapers, each new plot from their enemy provides a little more insight into his purpose as well as Death's struggles.  Cat's quick thinking was impressive and she made for a great addition to the Reaper's family.  I'd like to see more of them, even on the periphery of the other Reapers' stories because I don't think they've fully achieved their potential as mates yet.   Overall this was a little different from what I expected though I was pretty happy with where we ended.  4 stars.
Dark Alpha's Lover: The Reapers Book 4, Donna Grant

Dark Alpha's Night: A Reaper Novel (Reapers Book 5) by [Grant, Donna]Daire's assignment to this point has been to shadow Rhi, the stunning Fae enigma.  His new mission brings him to the home of three sisters caught in Bran's crosshairs and if he can't convince them of his identity and purpose, they'll be instrumental in Death and her Reapers' demise.  Ettie is used to being overshadowed by her sisters in virtually every way.  When a darkly attractive man shows her attention it puts her in a position she has never been in.  Her life spent training for an unnamed threat has left her unprepared for matters of the heart and she's struggling to balance the distrust of her sisters, the attentions of a man, and another man claiming to be Fae and that they are in danger without his assistance.  Unless Daire and Ettie can find the truth surrounding the sisters and if Ettie can't sort out her head and her heart, they'll give Bran everything he needs to win.

With Daire's statement of attraction to Rhi I was honestly surprised when he fell so quickly for Ettie.  I did believe his draw to Ettie, but I felt their connection and evolution was underdeveloped.  There were also some disturbing connections between Bran and Ettie that, while millennia removed, it was still superbly weird.  Ettie's introduction was really good because it showed a fierce fighter with a head clear on her training and preparedness.  It was disappointing then, to see her so easily doubt so much.  I get that they didn't really have many clues or information to go on, but it was her almost reversion to adolescence in her attitude and perceptions that bothered me. It seemed as if virtually everyone was blind in this story and that was more frustrating than anything.  Either they were ignoring clues or they were overlooking them.  Everything did progress, however, and the appearance of what Bran was looking for was both shocking and exciting for its implications.  It was kind of the only thing that pushed the book forward though, so while this isn't my favorite book of the series, it gave the series momentum to carry it through.  3.5 stars.
 Dark Alpha's Night: The Reapers Book 5, Donna Grant

Dark Alpha's Hunger (Reapers Book 6) by [Grant, Donna]Stuck in a place with no light, no sound except for Eoghan's breathing and the cries of the beast hunting him, he's fighting an unseen enemy hoping to find a way out from whatever realm he was thrust into.  And then he hears it.  There's music echoing in his soul, leading him to the light.  He doesn't expect the blue-haired Halfling to be the savior she is and yet he's glad it was her and no one else.  The mysteries of her past, however, could prove more dangerous than the plot from his.

With a dark, mysterious, and exciting opening I was expecting the whole book to follow in that vein. It didn't, really, but it wasn't a bad story either.  It was a bit less in terms of following the same flow of the other Reaper stories, but it became a vessel for a ton of changes and connections with the Dark Kings series that made my heart beat nearly out of my chest.  Eoghan was still the same aloof male he was before now, but there's a softening in him because of Thea.  Finding his voice was quite interesting and learning of his past was appropriately sad, though it was his evolution as a leader and a friend that I enjoyed most about him here.  Thea was interesting mainly because of her connections and her music, but on her own she was slightly bland.  She did make a good mate for Eoghan by the end though.  The introduction of another Fae as well as Eoghan's new role were both incredibly exciting because of their implications for the rest of the series as well as the surrounding stories.  With six of the seven Reapers finding their mates I can hardly wait to see if all our hopes and yearnings for Cael are granted in Dark Alpha's Awakening.  3.5 stars.
Dark Alpha's Hunger: The Reapers Book 6, Donna Grant

The Reapers Books 1-3, Donna Grant

 Reapers Series, Donna Grant

There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I am coming for you...


 Dark Alpha's Claim: The Reapers Book 1, Donna GrantWhen Baylon and the other six reapers are given an order to strike down all half fae in addition to executing justice on the Dark, to say they have reservations would be an understatement.  As their leader, Cael, goes to Death to try and get answers, the rest of the Reapers search the city for their own.  And then Baylon sees Jordyn on the steps of the Edinburgh library.  With her arresting beauty and her obliviousness to its effects, he's captivated and curious.  But his choice to pursue her might mean their demise if Death chooses to repeat history and carry out the consequences of her Reapers choosing a mate.

There's a big crossover to her other Dark Worlds books and a few references in the beginning might be a bit confusing, but pressing on soon gives way to a unique set of circumstances that make it stand alone enough to be fine as a series on its own.  Baylon and Jordyn definitely have chemistry and are likable on their own, but there's a bit of a lack of depth because the story is so short.  The amount of history, connection, chemistry, background, and series outlay is quite immense to have been packed into the number of pages here but it seemed to be alright.  I'm definitely in for the long haul because I know things will get better an better.  4 stars. 
  Dark Alpha's Claim: The Reapers Book 1, Donna Grant

Dark Alpha's Embrace: The Reapers Book 2, Donna GrantNothing about their first meeting goes as planned.  Kyran and River are reluctantly drawn to one another and neither can seem to get their bearings.  The Reapers are after the books that River is jealously guarding but Kyran suspects that there's more to her than a feisty, protective librarian.  As they combine forces they learn that there's much more to their precarious situation than they initially believed and they're left with more questions than answers.  Death's new decree regarding mates gives Kyran and River a chance together but their enemy isn't about to give up on his end either.

This is really a great continuation because we essentially pick up where we left off in Dark Alpha's Claim and there's no new huge info-dump to bog us down.  We get right into the thick of things and find out a lot about River giving her depth and a uniqueness that I quite enjoyed.  Learning about Kyran's past is both painful and telling because his desire for justice and honesty make a huge impact on his relationship with River.  I loved how they came together and that despite the dangers, they decide partnership is better than "protecting the little woman" and other such ridiculousness.  As the plot thickens, it's apparent that each Reaper's mate will play a large role in bringing everything to an astounding reckoning.  Being only the second book into the series, we're already seeing a huge plan unfolding and I'm more intrigued than ever to find out what happens next.  4 stars.
Dark Alpha's Embrace: The Reapers Book 2, Donna Grant

Dark Alpha's Demand: The Reapers Book 3, Donna GrantSpies and their machinations can lead to distrust, unfavorable outcomes, and learning a lot of what you never wanted to know in the first place.  For Neve and Talin, most of these come to pass, to their detriment, but it brings them closer in ways they never dreamed they could have become.  It also puts them in a position to reap the full punishment from Death that got the Reapers into the whole situation they're in in the first place—because Neve is full Fae, unlike the mates of Baylon and Kylan.  As their enemy closes in on them yet again, they'll have to learn more, act quicker, or they'll lose what little advantage they have.  Except the things they learn might not be enough to save them, or their love.

Neve is fierce.  I'll admit I was worried when she was first introduced through Talin's perspective because she came across as spoiled, vain, and vapid.  That opinion was quickly changed when we learned just how involved she is with the Light fae court, Talin, and her mystery watcher.  There's so much more going on than anyone could have guessed and what she goes through in the course of this story is incredibly tragic and yet she finds a way to triumph knowing exactly what she's getting into.  I loved her so hard.  Talin came across quite different in this story than he had in the previous stories.  I found him to be a good match for Neve but more emotionally chaotic than the others so far.  He makes incredibly valid points so I felt him justified, but his character just surprised me a little with how up and down he reacted.  The plot is definitely heating up with what happens with Eoghan and yet another attempt from both sides to gain the upper hand.  The web is getting more tangled...  4 stars.
 Dark Alpha's Demand: The Reapers Book 3, Donna Grant

Cool Nights, Hot Dreams: Wolves of Aurora Book 1, Athena Blaez

Cool Nights, Hot Dreams: Wolves of Aurora 1 by [Blaez, Athena]

An accidental walk through dreams brings Sean Hastings to Ryder Cole, an intensely appealing man who makes him feel things he's never felt before.  Life is complicated enough without adding in the dreamwalking and a deadbeat father reappearing in his life, but when Sean meets the object of the previous night's "encounter" it seems that life is never too complicated for love.  Ryder has his work cut out for him with Sean, but if he can't find answers to the problems plaguing his pack and their town they may not get a chance to find out what could be between them.

The plot here was really interesting, though I did feel it suffered a bit from fits and starts rather than a smooth progression and the relationship-building was more mild than I hoped.  Finding the balance between a budding relationship and the drama that surrounds it is quite difficult, so I'm not saying I could have done any better.  By the end we do get to a good sense of where things are going and that the trouble has no quick fix.

I liked the characters on a surface level.  Each one had good points to keep both the story and the relationship progressing, but while the romantic aspect was slow-moving and a bit too simplistic, the drama surrounding them grew in big jumps with no gradual quickening of events.  I'm definitely interesting in diving back into this rather intriguing world the author has created to find out what happens next in the town and who the MC pairing might be.  I feel that it would work well to continue with Sean and Ryder being the recurring couple since we've got some unsolved issues with Sean's gift as well as some pack dynamics that need a bit of sorting on Ryder's side of things, but would be equally interested if we get a new relationship and find a broadening web that brings the community into even greater entanglement.  Overall I was pleased with what I read but felt the pacing and balance could have used quite a bit of fine tuning.

*$3.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Cool Nights, Hot Dreams: Wolves of Aurora Book 1, Athena Blaez

Bet On It, Jaclyn Quinn

Bet On It by [Quinn, Jaclyn]

An eye-opening night changes Ty in ways he only ever relegated to the depths of a locked vault in his own mind.  The object of his new-found desires?  His best friend and roommate.  When their traditional wagers are thrown down Ty issues a stipulation of his own that changes everything.  But the real test is if he's ready to accept not just new parts of his sexuality, but all the complicated feelings that go along with exploring them.  If he can reconcile his head, his heart, and his...well, you know, then he and Spencer might just have a future they can bet on together.

I liked Ty and could feel his internal conflict very strongly which made him relatable and memorable.  But he didn't really have any background to give him additional depth.  Spencer was far less interesting.  All he really added to the story was a means to open Ty's sexual world and to be the object of his new romantic feelings for his best friend.  Their sexual chemistry was freaking incendiary though.  That alone was worth reading and when you combine it with all of Ty's complex internal journey, it made it a great read.  Except those two things don't exactly excuse the lack of individual background, an epilogue, and one virtually blank partner for the MC.

This was a tricky one for me.  I'm conflicted because my like for the good stuff is very high and yet I'm hesitant to rave about the book as a whole because there were some key things missing to make the book feel truly complete.  The writing was smooth, captivating, and definitely on par for this author.  The story line was kept simple and with very little angst it made the whole thing feel light so the focus could remain on Ty's personal evolution.  Overall, this was a super sexy read with an endearing MC that I would have loved more from.

*$2.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Bet On It, Jaclyn Quinn

Honey and Happiness: Hemlock Creek Book 4, Josie Kerr

Honey and Happiness (Hemlock Creek Book 4) by [Kerr, Josie]

Beyond overworked, Bruce is forced to take a vacation.  He's unhappy about it but there's no denying that the concern from his friends and his many justifications for his staid lifestyle aren't doing him any favors.  So when an unexpected vacation brings him setback after mishap after frustration, topping off with a book-to-mouth meeting with a goat, he's sure this whole thing was a terrible idea.  But quiet nights and a quirky yet intriguing woman open his eyes to a life he'd never thought to dream of.

It was pretty easy to be drawn in by both the characters and the charming setting of Hemlock Creek.  The side characters are around enough to give depth to the town and the experiences of the MC's as well as draw interest to the rest of the novels in the series.  Saffy came across as much younger than her 48 years and I wasn't sure how to reconcile that with her described life experience.  When I just didn't think about it I quite enjoyed that she was a more mature character.  Similarly with Bruce, the age thing didn't really come into play except when they mentioned their ages in reflection.  So while I enjoyed the mature ages in theory, it didn't read as a more mature romance novel.  That didn't detract, however, from the story or the characters and their individual journey to their happy ending.

I was actually surprised by the steam included in the story.  At the start of the book, I thought this would be a sweet/clean story, and for the most part it was.  But when Bruce and Saffy get together, they really get together and it's both fun and definitely sexy.  Some of the cussing sounded a little forced, like it was trying a little too hard to give these characters an edge.  I can see why one might think they needed that, I mean I don't suppose most people think that the cute, awkward, and sweet can have hot sex, yeah?  But aside from those few moments, this couple started and ended all of those things.  I really, really liked the way they blended all the tender with the ridiculous pets, the physical desire, and the life goal realignment.  The story felt complete and invited me to become invested not only in their outcome, but in the town and all the shenanigans.

*$3.99 on Amazon!
 Honey and Happiness: Hemlock Creek Book 4, Josie Kerr

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Meet Kat and Cal
who find more than they expected
on a flight across the Atlantic...
Whiskey and Serendipity (Hemlock Creek Book 1) by [Kerr, Josie]
Whiskey and Serendipity: Hemlock Creek Book 1, Josie Kerr

Trusting in You: In You Book 2, Sammi Cee

Trusting In You (In You Series Book 2) by [Cee, Sammi]

Childhood crushes rarely turn into the romance of our lives and this certainly seems to be the case for Chuck...or is it?  While unloading all his personal angst during an emotionally driven conversation Chuck reveals enough about himself to have Nathaniel taking a closer look at the man he's held just out of reach.  Neither man thinks they're good enough for the other and as they navigate the difficulties from Nathaniel's past bleeding into their present, both realize just who they are and open the other's eyes to the true worth of a person.  If they can survive the crazy they just might finally be on the same page, enough to reach for the future they never dreamed they deserved.

Chuck was endearing and quirky and had a huge, soft heart when we met him in Mixed Up in You.  Getting to know him a little better here was both enlightening as well as disappointing.  I liked that he never lost his sense of humor, the banter between him and Julian, and his tremendous capacity to love and forgive.  What didn't thrill me was how immature he seemed and his incredibly misplaced sense of personal value.  To consider himself blah because he doesn't have the stories or experiences of a recovering drug addict or a man with ties to a violent drug dealer?  I'm not buying it.  It cheapened who I felt Chuck was and that disconnect between those different sides of him was too much for me to believe.

Nathaniel was similarly conflicted.  I thought he was more even-keeled and his path to redemption and discovering his own worth was admirable as well as good, but it was a bit lackluster.  There was just no crescendo.  Many times there was a hint at more nefarious dealings of his past, but he was really just an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Nothing he personally did was enough to warrant the angst and self-imposed separation from Chuck over the years.

Together I thought they were cute and sweet and had the drama supported their growth, this would have been a really great story.  As is, it was a nice story that introduced us to a new character that I'd like to see in a continuation as well as giving us more of Julian, the star of the series for me.

*$2.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Trusting in You: In You Book 2, Sammi Cee

Where it All Began: Manx Cat Guardians Prequel, J P Sayle

Where it all Began: Manx Cat Guardians Origins (The Manx Cat Guardians Book 1) by [Sayle, J P]

In a time when a new god is changing the landscape of love, the Manx Cat Guardians are sent to guide soulmates to one another.  The arrogance of one such guardian brings two men together only to have them torn apart in the worst way one could imagine.  His role changes to guide these souls back to one another and right his wrongs, but it also paves the way for other Guardians to carry out their roles throughout the ages.

I never imagined that I would be so torn and ravaged by a story.  What happened was utterly horrible!  But there's so much promise and connection that my yearning is much greater than my shock and depression.  I seriously never saw any of what happened coming.  Not only were two men made to feel the consequences of time, religion, and vindictive warriors, but they were put into the situation because of the impatient urgings of an arrogant king.  I have no words for how painful their situation was or how horrendous the punishments of that time period were.  Their story is one I simply must read to ease my own soul regarding two men who deserved better.

This whole premise is incredibly interesting.  While it was quite difficult to get into the story once it jumped to the historical beginning of Max's part in Aaden's tale, it was a great introduction to his role and how everything connects.  Though I will say that things took a turn for the awkward when we got the cat's more...sensual leanings?  We'll see if he gets his own story to make that less weird, but for now it's best if you just kind of gloss over his musings and focus on the other romances.

Despite being a rather long prologue, this set everything up for the series and while I'm a bit squeamish about the original couple, I've got some high hopes for everyone we'll meet and where we'll be taken on this rather intriguing journey.

*$2.99 on Amazon or FREE on KU!
 Where it All Began: Manx Cat Guardians Prequel, J P Sayle