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Read any good books lately? I have! Grab a cup of coffee or a beverage of your choice and sit back, relax, and have a peek at the books I've loved, the books I didn't, and the reasons why. Enjoy, and happy reading!

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~Tracy

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Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Reckless Brides, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 353 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.




A Swashbuckling High Seas Romance

When her brother forsakes family tradition and personal honor, disappearing the day he is supposed to become a member of His Majesty's Royal Navy and board the ship Audacious, Sally Kent knows what she has to do to avoid the family scandal and disgrace. She disguises her gender, dons the midshipmen's uniform, and heads to the docks to take her brother's place.

It's just her dubious luck that she's met by David St. Vincent Colyear, family friend and current lieutenant aboard Audacious. The man has filled out in the six years since she last saw him, and though curt and dour, something about him sets Sally's pace racing. Not necessarily the reaction she wants for a man she is going to have to work to impress and yet try to avoid lest he discover her true identity.

The scandal from that potential debacle would be just as damaging to her family's illustrious reputation in Her Majesty's Navy as her brother's defection. And twice as damaging to her heart.

~*~

I seem to keep stumbling over the woman-passing-as-a-boy theme in historical romance of late. I've even read a book in the last year in which the heroine went to sea with the Navy as Sally did here. I don't mind the theme, really, but the seeming prevalence is starting to wear on me.

Fortunately, this story was one of the better ones I've read, so it stood out in a crowd. Essex didn't draw out Sally's well-intentioned if ill-advised deception for so long that it started to annoy, and I genuinely enjoyed her aptitude in the midshipman's role. She really was born ahead of her time, perfectly suited to a life in what was solely a man's world. I loved her plucky, competent, tomboyish, and fiercely independent heart.

And Col was a perfect complement to her. Handsome, strong, loyal, and determined, he also trusted Sally's skill and relied on her to do her job even after he finds out she's a woman. It worked for me. Together they worked for me.

I have to admit, though, as much as I enjoyed the romance between Sally and Col, I was way out of my depth with the naval terminology. There was a lot of it, and without explanation or definition, I had a very hard time with much of the details of naval life and the action on board the ship. It's probably very historical accurate and nautically sound, but it was too much for me.

Late in the book there were a couple of developments that I wasn't fond of, and Sally seemed to fade out of the narrative a bit. The impetus of the plot lost a bit of momentum at that point. And I didn't understand the introduction of Grace's character at all. Her presence and the subsequent scenese with Sally made me question my understanding of Sally as a character. It was a little jarring.

Overall, though, this was a very nice series debut from a new-to-me author. Historical romance fans with an appreciation of the women-disguised-as-a boy theme should definitely mark this as a title to try. Even if you're more ambivalent about theme, this was a solid story with a sweeping romance with great characters and can appeal to a wide audience. I liked it very much.

A Scandalous Affair by Karen Erickson

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Merry Widows, Book 3
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 68 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.



Happily Scandalized

Lady Daphne Pomeroy doesn't concern herself with the ton's standards on scandalous behavior. As a widow, she's largely exempt from their collective censure. Even still, from the moment she meets the dashing and stoic Marquess of Hartwell, she pursues him with an intensity that would set the ton on its ear.

His reputation is forbidding, but the time they spent together while sharing a dance suggests to Daphne that he has been horribly misjudged. He's not the Black Hart his sobriquet would have her believe. In fact, Daphne suspects he's rather noble, but intensely shy and socially awkward.

In short, he's irresistible to her. And she would be most pleased if any of her best efforts could at least snag his attention. Perhaps a less subtle approach...

Of course, any more obvious and she really will be scandalous.

~*~

Though much of the tale of this story is hampered by its extremely short length, I loved both Daphne and Camden so much that I couldn't find it in me to be overly critical. It was a fabulous role reversal, with the spirited and forthright Daphne doing just about anything she could think of to get Camden to notice her and Camden noticing, but being too shy and nervous to approach her.

Normally, insecure romantic heroes are a big turn off for me. I like both my male and female protagonists to be strong. Camden's speech impediment, though, and the trauma that was his childhood, made him more sympathetic and endearing than weak. I adored him.

The romance arc did feel a bit like a mile-high free fall, and love came into their relationship way too quickly for my tastes. I also wish there had been a little less page time spent on their one sex scene. I enjoyed it, but in this case I think those pages could have better served a slightly more robust conflict and resolution for the couple.

None of that detracted so much that I wasn't still able to heartily enjoy what I read. This is a short but very sweet historical romance novella that kept me engaged and entertained for a couple of hours. It was unique and charming. The characters were a dream. I enjoyed it all quite a lot.

Sight Unseen by Hunter Raines

Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance; LGBT
Series: N/A
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 175 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.




Great M/M Paranormal Romance Read

Danny Van Doren sees dead people. In fact, that's all he sees. Blind since the accident that stole his sight, his lover, and his career, the writer has been working with Phoenix PD, helping them solve the cases of the spirits he sees.

Unfortunately that help has drawn a lot of attention from media types who want to neatly label him as a charlatan or a fraud. It's making Danny popular for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways.

Ghostwriter Logan Riley works for a publisher who wants Danny's story, and they're willing to pay Danny a lot of money to let Logan hang around and write it. What Logan doesn't tell the man is that his publisher prefers when he digs up the most scandalous and salacious bits of interesting people's lives and puts all the gritty details in print.

Some might - and have - said that makes Logan no better than a pack of paparazzo, but Logan doesn't care about the sensationalism of his subjects' lives. He just cares about finding the truth. Truths like whether or not the seemingly earnest Danny is a con man or just mentally ill.

Because Logan knows he doesn't really see spirits. They don't exist.

And he's steadfast on that stance right up until a pissed off poltergeist decides he's getting a little too cozy with the handsome ghost detective.

~*~

There's something intrinsically appealing to me about heroes or heroines who manage their lives despite having a disability of some sort, so the idea of a blind guy who sees ghosts and helps the cops find the monsters responsible for them sold me on trying this book. I'm glad I did. Well-written and fast-paced, flavored with spooky ghost activity and two hot guys who were totally into each other, this was a great read. I especially appreciated the nice touches in keeping Danny's blindness realistic and believable while still providing a balanced, descriptive narrative.

The depth of character in both male leads and a solid and nicely layered plot kept me entertained as it provided a few touches of horror, some chills and thrills, and some temperature raising sex scenes. I liked both Logan and Danny. They had genuine chemistry that hit fast and burned deep. Each has inner demons that impacted the evolving relationship as the story progressed, creating realistic, organic conflict and romantic tension.

I wasn't expecting the level of detail and complexity provided in the main characters' backstory. It built slowly, with little bits and pieces of their past disclosed as it pertained to the growing external conflict with the freaky-deaky poltergeist. And there were a couple of secondary characters I really enjoyed. There was even a very subtle secondary romance thread between Danny's sister and her ex-husband that tickled me. All of these elements worked together to create a balanced, well-rounded story.

The romance arc was the only thing that caused me some problems. As much as I enjoyed Danny and Logan together, the timeline of the story was short, with everything happening over a handful of days, so I had some problems with how quickly they became as important to each other as they were. It was the only thing about the read that didn't work for me, and unfortunately, it hampered my appreciation of what was supposed to be a sweeping romantic scene towards the end of the book.

It ended up coming off as cheesy to me instead of romantic.

I loved the epilogue, though. It was set long enough into the future that the issue I had with the romance arc was resolved and the strength of Danny and Logan's commitment to each other was sweet and endearing. As a whole, I felt this was a meaty, entertaining novel that fully engaged and entertained me, even with my issues with the romance arc. I look forward to reading more from Hunter Raines in the future.

Doubtless by Cat Grant

Genre: M/M Fiction
Series: Irresistible Attraction, Book 2
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 49 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Riptide Publishing via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.




Not What I was Expecting

Lauded researcher Steven Campbell is off his game. Way off. Normally as suave and charming with women as he is with research sponsors and financiers, he blames a brutal schedule and work overload for his lack of interest in...well...pretty much everything he normally enjoys - including sex. Or he does until a mental image of Connor, his best friend and research partner, pushes Steven over the edge into an intense climax during a bit of self love.

As if the angst about his sexuality at this point of his life isn't enough, Conner certainly isn't available. He's happily committed to someone else. Steven's journey of self discovery is going to be a painfully difficult and lonely one.

Then a chance meeting with a male escort changes everything, and Steven learns that it's never too late to find peace and happiness within himself.

~*~

This wasn't the story I was expecting. It's not what I would consider a romance, first of all, and it's so short that there isn't a lot of room for a satisfying, self-contained story arc. What's there is well written, but it's just not my cuppa for reading entertainment.

I hate to say it, but I was not at all fond of Steven in the beginning. He was shallow and self-involved, and didn't have much to recommend him as a decent human being. It's a testament to Grant's writing ability that by the end I was actually sympathizing with him. Not liking him, per se, but definitely feeling for what he was going through.

I do consider this short novella quality M/M fiction, and a short but solid evolution of a flawed character into self awareness and acceptance. It may not have been to my personal taste - I seriously disliked the male escort element and there was no romance in the read to speak of - but the writing was strong, and I admire the author's talent.

The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Lost Souls, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars
Length: 98 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.




Short but So, So Good

Medium Rachel Miller is pulling double duty, serving Vancouver in her job as a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums and acting as a supernatural sensei to newbie rodach Kit Eckeles, the young man she saved from being exorcised a few weeks previously. Of course, the ORM doesn't know she has the sometimes-wraith living with her. That would definitely be awkward to explain.

It's also the least of Rachel's problems, because three bodies have turned up at the Vancouver General Hospital morgue. Nothing unusual with that on the surface, but their cause of death is a problem. Each victim had their souls violently ripped out and eaten, and each were members of the supernatural community.

Vancouver had a reaper on its hands, a voracious killing machine that may just be stronger than anything Rachel can throw at it. And that's if she can keep from being its next entree.

~*~

It makes no sense that the short novellas of this series are so damned kick-ass good, with their rich world building and well-developed tales, but Hoar has a true gift for packing a hell of a fictional punch in very small packages. This is the second in the urban fantasy novella series, and I am absolutely a total addict. I love the plot, I love the world, and I am totally wild for the characters.

Despite the short length, the backstory, mythos, and plot threads are finely crafted and delivered in such a way that the story feels like it's a lot longer than it is. Hell, I've read full novels that don't have the same level of detail and complexity of world and characters, so this is a true treat.

There's even a lot going on in the background, characters with their own agendas working for and against Rachel as the main plot arc of the story unfolds. That sort of sub-plotting and subtle foreshadowing is virtually unheard of in stories of this length. I wouldn't have thought it could be done quite so well if I hadn't read it myself. Plus, Rachel is a great main character, strong, independent, and capable in her job, so she makes an excellent heroine. There just isn't anything that I don't love about this story or the series.

Oh. Wait. Yes, there is one thing. This second installment is it for the foreseeable future because there are only two published stories in the series, and according to the Hoar's blog, the third is a work in progress. Who knows when or even if it'll be available any time soon. What?! NO! I need more of Rachel and her ghost-kicking, rodach-teaching, Vancouver-saving life! What a total bummer it will be, not to mention waste of spectacular writing ability, if this awesome series doesn't continue soon.


The Lost Souls Series:

Liar's Game by Kait Gamble

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Series: N/A
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 92 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are  my own.



More SciFi than Romance

Space pirate Aurelia Popkiss has issues. Then again, so does every member of her crew, so she fits right in as their fearless leader. It works for them.

Finding a stowaway in with the booty of their latest haul adds a new wrinkle to their lives, though. Aurelia doesn't trust the young Kateryn, but even she couldn't guess the price her and her crew would pay by having her aboard her ship. She has a sneaking suspicion that the young woman has her own agenda. What she doesn't know is that agenda might put a permanent end to Aurelia's pirating days and to the lives of the crew that have become her family.

~*~

Short and fast-paced, this novella wasn't as much fun for me as I'd hoped it would be. I liked the characters and the premise of the story quite a lot. Female captain of a crew of space pirates; what's not to like? Unfortunately, there was so much going on in so few pages that the plot just ended up seeming chaotic and rushed, and the ending was pretty abrupt.

The strongest part of the story for me was the characters. I really enjoyed Aurelia and her crew. I liked how they interacted, and their relationships felt very organic and real. I would've been happy to have more backstory and more time with them without the wackadoo stowaway Kateryn. I also wish the romantic elements between Aurelia and Keys had been a larger part of the story, because the little bit I got at the end just wasn't enough to make this really feel like the romance I thought it was supposed to be.

There just wasn't quite enough in some areas and way too much in others for me to really like this one. It was okay, and not a bad way to spend a couple of hours reading, but ultimately I think this one will be largely forgettable.

At Last by Jill Shalvis

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Lucky Harbor, Book 5
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 314 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever publisher Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.



Another Delightful Vacation in Lucky Harbor

Dedicated bad girl of the chocoholics, the three best friends who bonded over cake and a natural disaster weeks ago, waitress Amy Michaels came to Lucky Harbor to find the hope her grandmother once found there years ago. It had taken her six months, but she was finally searching for it in the mountains that surrounded the town, following a map and the notes from her grandmother's journal. Amy needed to find that hope. The peace her grandmother wrote of wouldn't be bad either.

She didn't want any part of that pesky third thing. Heart. That's the one that tough girl Amy wants to keep well away from her. Anything to do with her heart. She's been burned in that area too many times.

That's why she's so darn cranky when forest ranger Matt Bowers shows up to help her down from the very mountain on which she managed to get completely lost. It's not that she doesn't need his help. She so does. She just doesn't want to need it. And she definitely doesn't want him to be the one to give it to her. He's far too tempting in that damn heart department.

Matt had been circling the tricky Amy ever since she blew into town. There's just something about her that tugs at him. He's been careful, though, because her attitude screams her hands-off stance towards men in general and him in particular. That doesn't mean he can't enjoy goading her a little when she's finally in a position to need his help. Matt's biggest concern, though, isn't getting her off the mountain safely. He can do that in his sleep. It's getting the woman into his arms that's proving to be the biggest challenge.

But Amy Michaels may just be that one challenge that's worth risking everything to win.

~*~

I love this Lucky Harbor series so much, and Shalvis just keeps delivering the fun, witty, charming, sexy good reads. Her books, and this series, are even better than brain candy, they're chocolate for the heart. At Last may just be my favorite in the series to this point, and Amy and Matt are two of my favorite characters.

I think the plot of this book had a little more meat on it than its predecessor, too. Or maybe I just related to it better. I was immensely entertained by Amy's search for hope, and thought the addition of Riley's character added all sorts of nifty little elements to the read as it did its work in opening Amy up a bit more and giving her and Matt another point of connection.

And the depth and complexity awarded to both main characters, as well as the nearly perfect chemistry between them, just flat out worked for me in every way.

The friendship between the chocoholics really started to click in this book, too, and the ancillary characters had more impact on the narrative. In a lot of ways, the friendship between the three women appeals to me even more than the relationship between the three sisters in the first three books in the series, but this is the first time I can say I felt the potential for this set of three to be even more entertaining than those.

Shalvis once again secures her position as one of my go-to authors for guilt- (and calorie-) free, sexy, contemporary romance fun. There are always a few serious elements, or things that lean more towards the darker end of the spectrum to add depth and dimension to the story (Lance's cystic fibrosis still kills me), but overall her books just make me feel good as they reliably deliver their heart-warming Happily Ever Afters. This one is absolutely no exception.


The Lucky Harbor Series:



Moonglow by Kristen Callihan

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Series: Darkest London, Book 2
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 384 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever publisher Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.



A Dark, Deadly Good Read

With the obligatory year of mourning for a husband she despised now behind her, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore finally feels free to slip the last lingering shackles of her abusive marriage. She yearns to live a little, feel a little, and experience...more than a little. That's how she finds herself in the alley beside the home of a friend, on the arm of an amorous young gentleman intent on showing her the sort of pleasure she's spent long, painful years without.

Instead, Daisy finds only horror.

Her friend, the host of the party she was attending, lies on the ground like a shattered doll, broken and bloody, and the...thing responsible is still bent over her. Eating. The scream that rips from her throat can do nothing to help her dead friend, but it does draw the attention of the monster that killed her.

Disenfranchised with his long, lonely life, lycan Ian Randulf is running the streets of London when he first catches the scent of blood, then smells the werewolf responsible for it. Before he can process either, he's goaded into action by the screams piercing the air and the sound of flesh being torn. By the time he reaches the source it's too late. A man and woman lay savaged, but a young woman hidden beneath one of the bodies is still alive.

And her scent tantalizes him in ways he hadn't felt in far too long.

Getting her away from that nightmare and into his home is his only thought, but when he finds out who she is and what she saw, Ian fears that a rogue werewolf may be the least of his problems. Saving the delightful Daisy Ellis may very well end up being the very death of him. Then again, there were worse ways to go.

~*~

I was pretty blown away by Firelight, Callihan's first book in the Darkest London series. It was so utterly original, with a deftly-woven and unique story that captivated me. It appealed to me to such a degree that I prepared myself for the likelihood that the second book in the series wouldn't have quite the same impact, and in truth it didn't, but it did provide a hell of a good read and a couple of characters I really enjoyed.

I loved Ian. In fact, I adored him. He was so deliciously burdened by his past and wounded by his present, yet he had a solid, good, and decent heart. He was even a bit of a helpless git at times, poor thing, especially when he was being disconcerted by Daisy's unpredictable nature. He was a great romantic hero.

Daisy wasn't quite so universally appealing to me. I liked her, and I did love her pert attitude when dealing with Ian, but she was fairly traditional for the genre. Her character lacked a bit of the devastating charm that Ian managed so effortlessly. I did like them together, though, and the arc of their romance was very nicely done.

I wasn't thrilled with the plot line of the werewolf, but that may have been more an issue of my expectations. I was so thoroughly impressed with the mythos and storyline of the first book that a second installment featuring werewolves and lycan just seemed a bit pedestrian in comparison. It wasn't bad, and without a doubt, Callihan weaves a complex and satisfying external conflict, but it lacked a bit of that wow factor.

The end of the book, however, was a real problem for me. The climax and subsequent resolution had elements that just seemed a bit too convenient, and the ending depressed me. I truly wish there had been another road chosen for Daisy's character. I won't give away spoilers, but it just didn't sit well with me. Combined with the epilogue, which was also a pretty big downer, the book ended on a lower note than it began.

Still, I love the Gothic tone of this world and Callihan crafts a truly authentic-feeling historical with three dimensional characters and a dark, edgy narrative. Despite the few issues I had, I still enjoyed the bulk of the read and Ian handily supplanted Archer as my favorite character of the series. I'm looking forward to the next installment.


The Darkest London Series:

Monster in My Closet by R.L. Naquin

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Monster Haven, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 209 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.



So Much Fun!

Even at five, Zoey knew monsters weren't real. Sure, she was terrified when she thought she saw a monster in her closet as she lay in bed at night, but when her mom came in and opened that closet door, turned on the light, and shooed that imaginary monster right on out of there, Zoey knew that her mom was being the wonderful mother she was, humoring her and taking her fear away by being silly. Monsters aren't real. Everyone knows that.

And for twenty-three years that was merely a fact of life. She grew up, lost her mother, then her father, went to college, even started up a wedding planner business with her best friend. She was a normal, if slightly fashion-challenged adult leading a normal life in the real world. Right up until the morning she wakes up to the tantalizing scent of coffee and finds her closet monster, larger than she remembers, calmly sitting at her kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the paper. His name is Maurice.

Normal pretty much flies out the window for Zoey at that point, never to be seen again.

In fact, her head hasn't even stopped spinning from one massive paradigm shift when she gets a closet monster for a roommate, starts providing a halfway house for a family of brownies, has a skunk ape on security detail, and an incubus who wants to devour her in all the worst possible ways. Yeah, that last one's got her shaking in her stylishly purple Doc Martins.

And as if being hunted by a sadistic sex demon intent on gobbling her up isn't bad enough, the bastard starts killing women she's been in contact with. No amount of hiding under the covers and squeezing her eyes shut is going to make this particular monster disappear. That's up to Zoey. The wedding planner empath with a heart of gold.

Quotables:
Of all the possible weapons I might have grabbed, I chose a toilet brush. The men's boxers and oversized Hello Kitty t-shirt I wore reinforced my feeling of absolute stupidity. I made a mental note to buy myself a baseball bat, should I live through the next few minutes. And maybe some grownup pajamas.

Best opening paragraph in a book ever! And what a great kickoff to a totally fun read. I'm so happy I tripped over this little gem, because I can't remember a time I've had such a delightfully good time reading about someone else's issues. It wasn't that it was a comedy, though it did have its moments. It was more that it was just a totally awesome cast of magical characters (both human and Hidden) with quirky foibles and immense heart, and all were just too easy to adore.

Zoey was awesome. Loved her. Her narrative was a bright, engaging good time fraught with so many amusing social faux pas that I couldn't help but tumble helplessly into rabid fandom. And I loved Maurice even more. From his first words I knew I would adore him for life. To the point that I was all angsty about the potential for him going back to his estranged wife. The gargoyle who may or may not be cheating on him with a bridge troll. HA!

Balancing out the warm fuzzies and all that delicious weirdness was a Big Bad with some serious teeth. There was nothing fun or easy about Sebastian. I liked that mostly because it kept this book from swaying too much towards the lighter end of urban fantasy, which is always hit or miss for me. No, this certainly isn't a dark and moody piece, but it's not fluff fantasy either. A sex demon hunting Zoey and killing women while taunting her with their deaths definitely adds the gravitas.

It was a solid plotline, though not my favorite part of the book. Critically, it lacked depth and complexity and never quite seemed to become a primary plotline of the story. I found that troubling given the severity of the danger and felt it should have been more of a focus. At times it got overshadowed by other things in Zoey's wacky new life, and I'm not sure I could totally justify that, despite how much I enjoyed Zoey's wacky new life.

That was really my only issue with the read, though. Had the plot threads of the external conflict melded a little better with everything else going on with Zoey, this would have been an absolute grand slam for me. It was still a completely fun, entertaining read with absolutely memorable, lovable characters. I can't wait to get my hands on the next chapter of Zoey's life and spend more time with her extended and expanding family of monsters.

Quotables:
Any day that started this rough should be ignored until it went away.


"There is no way in hell you're getting married in a graveyard. You'll get married in a church like a normal person. I won't have it. Getting married surrounded by dead people. What is wrong with you?"

Spider gave her mother a dramatic, condescending sigh. "Death is the ultimate expression of love, Mother."

And this is when I decided I'd better intervene before Mama throttled my bride to show her exactly how much she loved her.

Alien 'n' Outlaw by K.C. Burn

Genre: M/M SciFi Romance; Futuristic
Series: Galactic Alliance, Book 2
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 126 Pages
Formats: Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.




Fun M/M SciFi Romance

He fled his home world to avoid the marriage triad his father, the Ankylos Emporer, had arranged for him. R'kos had always known he was not like other Ankylos, but it wasn't until a recent ambassadorship that he realized how different he really is. Instead of his own kind, it is the scent of human males who stir his mate instinct. So R'kos returns to Elora Ki as soon as he can, intent on finally indulging his unlocked passions.

Perfect timing.

Occasional thief and trader Damien is on the run from the thugs of the drug lord he'd stolen from and he has to get off Elora Ki as soon as possible. Or, you know, sooner. Those drugs are too important to those who need it for him to fail. Just as he's about to be caught and likely killed, a robed figure comes to his rescue and offers him a chance of escape. All he has to do is trust a complete stranger.

Damien isn't any bigger on trust than he is on sharing space with the large, robed man. Until the cowl of the robe is pushed aside and Damien's lust is stirred. Suddenly trusting this alien who came to his rescue is worth reconsidering. Especially if R'kos will go with him as they flee.

~*~

With nicely rounded out moments of cuteness and flares of sizzling heat, Damien and Ricky's romance appealed to me on a lot of levels. It's not terribly long at about 129 pages, though there are enough plot elements to keep it from feeling overly abrupt or shallow. I was pleasantly surprised by how much goes on between the two main characters in the space allowed, and how the various external conflicts are nicely spread throughout the book.

None of those conflicts and plot elements had any particular depth or detail, but neither did I feel that they were being plowed through in a race to the finish line. I would have preferred one or two less elements, though, so the remaining plot threads could have been expanded and fleshed out more.

I thoroughly enjoyed both characters, and some of their early scenes in which they explore each other's different physiology were amusing and highly entertaining. Burn kept the heat between them at high levels, and their chemistry worked for me, as did the arc of their romance. At least, right up until the climax of the tale.

I'm not sure what it was about R'kos when he goes back to his home world, but his actions and choices seemed to contradict what I'd thought I knew about him both as a possessive alpha male and a thoughtful individual to that point. That left Damien in a vulnerable position and not surprisingly, he was confronted with some unpleasantness that I couldn't imagine Ricky, given everything that led up to it, allowing to happen.

My issues with that, and with the quick resolution at the end, tarnished the read just a little, but overall this was a perfectly enjoyable short novel/long novella that had moments both sizzling and fun. I wish I'd read the first installment in the series first, but not because this one needed that setup - it doesn't. It reads just fine as a standalone. I just think I would have enjoyed the characters and their story like I did this one.

Ratings Guide

Here is a rundown of what the star ratings mean to me! It's not a perfect system, so you may see me add in a .5 star here and there if my impression of the book falls somewhere between these:

5 Stars - Loved it
4 Stars - Liked it
3 Stars - It's okay
2 Stars - Didn't like it
1 Star - Hated it

2014 Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Tracy has read 22 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Tracy's bookshelf: read

Zero at the BoneHead Over HeelsLord of the WolfynIn Total SurrenderA Win-Win PropositionNorth of Need

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