Review: Gone With the Rogue

Book CoverGone With the Rogue by Amelia Grey
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Julia Fairbright, widowed following her husband’s death at sea a few years before, desires freedom for herself and her son, Chatwyn, yet lives in fear of her powerful father-in-law. The duke threatens to separate Julia from her son if she doesn’t follow his stringent rules—but she uncovers a secret that may give her the independence she seeks.

Garrett Stockton didn’t come back to London to fall in love, but a chance encounter with Julia in the park changes everything. Her independent spirit calls to him in a way that his life on the sea never has. In a city where he could never see a future, he begins to envision a life, a home… more. But first he must convince Julia that he’s here to stay, and assist in her quest to break free of the duke.

Gone With the Rogue charmed me with the build-up to Julia and Garrett’s relationship as well as the way that Julia was fiercely independent. Her emotions have been trampled on for years, and she bursts free on each page. It was exciting watching how she tackled one thing after another, whether it was something as simple as freeing a butterfly net or as complex as unraveling her desires and allowing herself to take a chance on love.

The book was quite thorough with its historical details—at times to a fault. I found myself skipping over the occasional paragraph where things (such as the customary habits of gentlemen of the times, etc) were described in excruciating detail, and didn’t feel like that detracted from my enjoyment of the book at all. Those parts pulled me out of the story, so it was easier to skip to where I would stay engaged.

Julia and Garrett’s story is one of change and acceptance. It’s full of intrigue and daring. We know who the villain is and we root for our hero and heroine to succeed in thwarting him. They make a wonderful couple and it was a joy seeing them work for that happily-ever-after.

With the real world in turmoil right now, I think we should all embrace every shred of joy we can get.

Gone With the Rogue is out now and available in eBook and paperback formats.

Side note: There was one interesting word I noted being used a lot in Gone With the Rogue. It’s a word that doesn’t bother me personally, but I recall it being ranked the most disliked word when one of my BA English courses was discussing etymology: moist. Instead of licking her lips, Julia was moistening them… and so on. It wasn’t a lot, but enough for me to notice. So if this word makes you cringe, be prepared to do so on nine separate occasions.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Review: Highland Sword

Book CoverHighland Sword by May McGoldrick
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Formats: eBook, Audiobook, Paperback

Morrigan Drummond vows to see that Sir Rupert Burney, a spy, will pay for his past sins. When she spots him in the Highlands she seizes the opportunityonly to have a riotous meeting with a renowned barrister, Aiden Grant. Aiden needs Burney’s secrets to save the lives of two men… and does not need a vengeful woman scuttling his pursuit of justice.

After their tumultuous meeting, the pair meet again within the walls of Dalmigavie Castle. Morrigan is unhappy at first about Aiden invading her home, but the barrister is an honored guest of the laird. He makes her feel things she never wanted to feel. Aiden also may be the key to moving on from her shadowed past.

Morrigan was a difficult character to connect with for the first half of the book, because even if you pick up on some clues, she doesn’t reveal much about who she is and why until she opens up regarding her past. Aiden was more straightforward and was guided by his morals. He knew that Morrigan was holding back, yet was patient and didn’t push. I admired his tenacity for defending his clients as well as the care he exhibited for Morrigan.

The duo’s relationship had time to breath and grow. Were there feelings early on? Of course. But they took the time to learn who each other was long before committing themselves to a relationship. Morrigan had additional hurdles to overcome, and this is when the beauty of her resilience shined through. She fully came into herself and that was the moment I knew we were seeing the true Morriganthe one who could see a future for herself.

There was one subplot I could’ve done without in this book: the caricatures. They were an interesting opener to Morrigan, but ended up being a weird tool that was employed only when the characters needed an excuse to go certain places. The story had enough going on without this addition.

Morrigan and Aiden’s story is third in the series but can be read as a standalone. There are a couple oddball chapters with Cinaed as the narrator which seem to exist only to tie an overarching series story to the previous book and, presumably, the next. Not reading the previous books didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this story at all—the author does a great job at explaining previously established relationships and events.

Highland Sword is out now and available in eBook, audiobook, and paperback formats.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Sworn to the Shadow God

Book CoverSworn to the Shadow God by Ruby Dixon
My Rating: 4-Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy Romance
Release Date: February 14, 2020
Formats: eBook, Paperback

The Anticipation has arrived.

It’s been hundreds of years since the last, and now believed to be myth. But as the Twelve—gods cast out of their realms by the High Father as punishment for their sins—appear in Aos, its people are overwhelmed by the presence of their gods. Each god, split into the Aspects of four personalities: Apathy, Arrogance, Hedonism, and Lies. Each Aspect, burdened with a mortal anchor, a person intended to improve those undesirable facets, to purge it from their very essence, before the god can ascend again to their realm.

Rhagos the Undying, Lord of the Dead, has returned to his place in the Underworld. He discovered that this time, the High Father decreed that one anchor will remain with each god until the next Anticipation. The god known as Death is displeased with the sniveling fool anchored to him—and he’ll do anything to get what he really wants.

An illicit bargain with the Fates returns Rhagos to the beginning of the recent Anticipation. Death is not above cheating, after all.

Maxine (Max) Chavez, a corporate assistant and gamer from Earth, stumbles upon a portal to Aos. What at first seems like an adventure turns into a waking nightmare as Max finds that in order to return home, she must be anchored to Death. She must survive attempts on her own life to help Rhagos overcome his other three Aspects by slaying their anchors.

And when they’re the last ones standing? Max must convince Rhagos to return her to Earth.

Sworn to the Shadow God is Ruby Dixon’s second entry in her Aspect and Anchor epic fantasy romance series. Reading the first book isn’t necessary (though I recommend it as well), as this book does a great job in introducing the reader to the strange circumstances of the Anticipation. Shadow God clocks in around 645 pages, which fly by as you’re transported to the eclectic world of Aos.

On the surface, Max is a naive and at-times annoying character, simply because you, as the reader, catch onto things that she misses until much later in the book. Most of her growth happens in the various ways she causes Rhagos to change and become a better god. Rhagos starts out as a selfish prick in the prologue, and while he’s still imperfect by the end, Max’s influence is seen through his awareness of how he can make a difference to the souls living in the Underworld. It’s an exciting journey to watch the pair overcome the many obstacles thrown against them, from hostile humans to angry magicians to poop ropes to the tattoos scrawled across Rhagos’s back and arms. (Yes, poop ropes. I highly suggest reading the author’s note at the end. It’s hilarious.)

Even Death gets lonely sometimes. Do him a favor and read his story.

Sworn to the Shadow God is available now in eBook and paperback formats. Both books in the Aspect and Anchor series are available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers as well.

 

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Series Review: Hell Squad

Book CoverHell Squad by Anna Hackett
My Rating: 4-Stars
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Series Size: 20 books (#20 coming June 2020)
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Who knew that the apocalypse could be so sexy?

Aliens have come to Earth—and not in peace. Millions of humans died in the first few waves of attacks. Hidden deep in Australia’s fictional Blue Mountain Base, squads of fighters band together in the struggle for humanity.

Australian author Anna Hackett integrates elements of science fiction and action into all of her romance novels. Over the past five years, her “Hell Squad” series has followed a rotating cast of characters as they battle against the aliens—called the Gizzida—while discovering that even at the end of the world, there’s always someone to live for.

Yes, this means that in-between scenes of reconnaissance missions, firefights, helicopter chases, and more, these characters find time to fall in love. It’s a nice balance of intense action in the Gizzida-laden world above and intense passion in the beds (and showers, and gardens, and desks… etc) in the human’s hidden base below.

The series gets its name from Squad Six, known as the Hell Squad. Considered to be the toughest fighters in Blue Mountain Base, the Hell Squad is filled with former military who aren’t shy when it comes to kicking some Gizzida ass. This alien race is likened to “raptors” in the early books, and much of their demented creations, from space ships to mutated beasts, are dinosaur-like in appearance as well. Appearances can be misleading—and with the Gizzida, cunning and extreme intelligence lurks behind those red eyes.

Hell-Squad-Book-Covers

Each book follows one pair of characters who must best the aliens to accomplish the current mission, whether it be gathering vital information, stopping the Gizzida from their perverse experimentations, or sabotaging the aliens. As the series progresses, other squads such as Squad Nine (which is full of kickass women) and Squad Three (known as the berserker squad, filled with daredevil men of dubious backgrounds) are featured, with the various squads swooping in to lend support on the field.

The ultimate goal is to reclaim Earth for humanity, but an overarching storyline laced throughout “Hell Squad” reveals that the Gizzida has plans to eradicate all human life. Hackett’s series is now 19 books long—the most recent, Survivors, was released on Feb. 11. The situation has hit a crisis point for these survivors, and the outlook is grim. “Hell Squad” will wrap up when the squads (presumably) rid the Earth of alien scum in the final series book, Tane, which is scheduled for a June 2 release.

Hell Squad books 1-19 are available now in eBook and paperback formats. The first book in the series, Marcus, is free in eBook format, and the entire series is available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers as well.

This review originally appeared in the Feb. 21, 2020 issue of White Pine Press.

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Review: Scot Under the Covers

Book CoverScot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch
My Rating: 43 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 28, 2020
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Aden MacTaggert finds himself in London to fulfill an agreement between his parents that their sons all marry before their daughter. Miranda Harris, a close friend of Aden’s sister, returns to town and finds herself trapped by something she vehemently dislikes: a gambler. Miranda’s choices are limited and her future is at-risk, and Aden is drawn into helping her regain her freedom.

Both Miranda and Aden had personalities that shined through their actions. Aden’s gambler side is seen in the risks he takes, both with his standing in society and his pursuit of Miranda. A paragon of society herself, Miranda is seen wavering on the edges, deciding between when she can break from the ideals she’s held dearly and what’s more important: family standing in society or her future. While Aden doesn’t change much aside from his dedication to Miranda as he falls in love, Miranda evolves from a perfect miss to a woman who is strong and in-control of her wants.

The plot was enjoyable, if a bit long. One of Miranda’s lines that stuck with me the most was: “Then tell me what is going on, for God’s sake!”. I can’t agree more. The reader is left in the dark on Aden’s plans, usually not quite sure what his intent is in his actions, as he works to free Miranda. This gets frustrating and pulled me out of the plot every time I was left wondering about why Aden was doing XYZ this time or that.

Scot Under the Covers was engaging, however, thanks to these two characters. We see Aden and Miranda grow in love during their interactions. We seem them take on a shadowy figure haunting London. We see them both prove that love, family, and your future are important, and that it is possible to have it all.

Scot Under the Covers is out now and available in both eBook and paperback formats.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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