A MelanieM Review: Kellen’s Awakening (AURA Series #3) by Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Kellen's AwakeningThe staff at AURA has had a busy summer. Between chronic understaffing, dealing with warring goblin factions and an unusual number of hazardous Events, everyone is overworked. Sinistrus the incubus, newly hired as an AURA medic, actually enjoys his busy new life of responsible employee and faithful lover to his gorgeous police sergeant, Ness the centaur. Life would be perfect, except for a niggling suspicion about a colleague. Everyone else seems to disagree, but Sin’s certain something’s not right with that pixie.

Kellen, a pixie crossover, loves his job working in AURA medical, even if he is something of an outsider. His job and the friends he manages to make are happy spots in an otherwise dark and secretive life. As the rest of AURA tries to discover the root of the inexplicable rise in violence and large scale Events, Kellen fights to preserve his own life and what dignity he has left.

These two unlikely heroes must put their differences aside and navigate tragedy and ever-escalating disaster together in order to stop the sinister forces that hold Kellen in thrall.

The AURA series from Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez just keeps getting better and this book is perhaps my favorite in the series.  It did it by breaking my heart and then slowly, finally putting it back together again.  But oh how the tears flowed before that happened.

In this world (what an amazing world it is) a magical, human engineered explosion has created a rift in world dimensions, causing beings to fall out of their worlds into ours, with often tragic consequences to both.  AURA was set up to handle moving these ‘otherworldly’ and often magical beings into our society with as smooth a transition as could be handled, which is saying a lot with trolls, mermaids, elf warriors  and such.  And always there is the  threat of darkness and madness looming on the edge from those seeking power or a return or an inability to deal with loss.

Its an amazing universe they built and they’ve created a cast of characters and couples/triads who are just as complicated and addicting as their stories.  Lucky for us, most of them make appearances in each succeeding book, so we get to keep up with their relationships as well.  Here we get back to Sin and Ness, happily enjoying their new love and jobs.  Sin is such a great character, a succubus who has fallen for a centaur, a great love story we followed in a previous tale.  We also meet up again with Kellen, again a secondary character brought forward to get his due.

Kellen has so many secrets but his character is one that you can’t help but love and root for immediately.  He’s wounded, complicated, and leaking pain from every pore if only they would notice.  Trouble is the whole city is full of magical pain and problems at the moment, so other things like Kellen’s are easy to bury.

The author’s writing is deeply emotional, their descriptions will tug at your heart, their scenes pulling you into the story and the conflicts arising everywhere.  And before you know it, you’ve emptied a box of tissues and reached for a second.

One note, these are not standalone novels, they build on each other like building blocks.  So go back to books one and two before picking this one up.  After finishing this one, you just might want to do that anyway because the characters will call out to you to make your reacquaintance.  How I love them all.  Now I can’t wait to see where the authors will take us  next…..

Cover art by Posh Gosh is so so.  Needs more of magic, I wish there was more of a hint of wings there as well.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First
Published April 5th 2016 by Pride Publishing
Original TitleKellen’s Awakening (AURA, #3)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesAURA Series #3

A BJ Audiobook Review: To the Highest Bidder (A Planet Called Wish #1) by Caitlin Ricci
 and Narrated by Jean Samson

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Rating:  2.75 stars out of 5

ToTheHighestBidderAUDLGThe Intergalactic Star Pilot Academy has accepted Thierry Leroux into the elite class of sky year 2231. But the academy comes with a hefty price tag, and there’s no way he, a poor Sythe orphan, has the credits the academy requires. Thierry’s brother, Corbin, a high-class companion, suggests Thierry sell his virginity for the cost of tuition. It seems like a ridiculous idea, but it may be Thierry’s only shot, so Thierry asks Corbin to arrange a meeting on the pleasure planet of Wish.

On Wish, Thierry meets Corbin’s boss, Monroe, and they agree to auction off Thierry’s virginity. Thierry is grateful to the masked buyer he knows only as “Dragonfly,” and Dragonfly is gentle, making Thierry’s first time a good memory. When Dragonfly requests to see him again, and pay for the pleasure, Thierry returns to Wish. But in this game, falling in love is dangerous for the heart, and Thierry might not like the man behind the mask.

My first read by this author. I love sci-fi and space opera type stories, so this seemed like it would be right up my alley. The set up of the story was interesting and the world building was intriguing enough that I would be willing to read more set in this universe. Although I would most certainly have enjoyed more description of the races and their differences as they all came across as basically human for me as anatomy and looks seemed pretty much the same except for a few mentions of skin color differences.

Although I was fairly sure who Dragonfly was right from the beginning, the set up had me intrigued. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect to either of the main characters or even really like them.

They guys kept saying they loved each other, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t see a reason for Thierry’s nearly instant love for Dragonfly other than perhaps gratitude and infatuation with someone who’d made his first sex good. But that brings me to another issue I had with the story, which was that the sexy bits just didn’t feel hot to me, in fact, all the sex scenes, even the first after the bidding which was rather a key element of the story, just seemed rushed and flat. Thierry and Corbin as Synths, a species that is supposed to be super sensual and sensitive and reactive, and yet that didn’t come across for me during the actual sex scenes.

It bugged me that Thierry’s went against their agreement and ripped Dragonfly’s mask off, it seemed a betrayal. Then it bugged me even more the way he reacted when he discovered who Dragonfly was–I just didn’t like Thierry at all after than. Nor did I enjoy  all the back and forth once the identity came out. It got quite annoying for me. Finally, the ending didn’t sit well with me, especially after such an extended period of separation and with no period of re-acquaintance—it just didn’t feel real for me.

However, I enjoyed Thierry’s brother Corbin’s character, his view on his job and satisfaction with his life as well as the way he cared for his brother and supported him. Considering that book two is based around him, I would be interested to give that one a try.

The narration was just okay for me. I enjoyed the reader’s voice in that it was nice to listen to, but the emotion felt flat to me quite often and the voices were not distinctly individual as with some audios that I’ve listened to recently.

Very interesting and unique cover that drew my eyes and made me want to read the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | iTunes | Audible | Amazon


Book Details:  

Cover Artist Caitlin Ricci
Narrator Jean Samson
Length 5 hours and 11 minutes
Categories
AudiobooksCaitlin RicciA Planet Called Wish by Caitlin Ricci

A Paul B Review: Signed with a Heart (Signed, Sealed, Delivered #2) by Caitlin Ricci and A.J. Marcus

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Signed with a HeartLeo the cheetah shifter has recently witnessed his friend Cam get mated.  Despite the widely held beliefs that arranged matings are miserable, Cam honestly loves his mate Jenner.  Now he is waiting for his own arranged mating.  In Spain with his father, Leo finds out that he is to be mated to Antonio, a wealthy businessman.  Leo is disheartened when he finds out that he will be basically cut off from society, including his best friend Cam, after the mating takes place.  When he hears this, Leo decides to flee Spain and visit his friend in the United States.

Taruk is best friends with Jenner.  His friend’s mating makes Taruk realize that he will probably never be mated.  Taruk is not from a prominent nor rich family to pay the fee needed to arrange a mating.  However, he is glad to see Leo again when he comes to visit Cam.  Taruk is then disappointed to learn that the sweet young shifter is now arranged to be mated in a month’s time.  His is alarmed to find out that Leo believes that the mating will not be a love match like their friends’ pairing.  When Leo’s intended mate Antonio shows up to claim him, Taruk can do nothing but watch him leave.

The mating goes about as poorly for Leo as he expected.  Locked in his room and chained to his bed, Leo must watch as his mate uses a call boy service and flaunt it in front of him.  The only time he sees his mate is when Antonio wants to use him sexually.  The only thing Leo is allowed to do is read the collection of classic books that Antonio has provided for him so that Leo does not make a fool of himself in front of company.  Leo is resigned to his life as an unhappy mate.   When Leo is taken to a birthday party, life takes a turn for the worse soon after.  Leo must live with the consequences of his actions which will affect not only him and his mate, but also that of Taruk and their friends.

This second book in Ricci and Marcus’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered series takes place shortly after the end of the first.  While the first book showed that arranged matings can sometimes turn out well, this second book shows what happens when then they do not.  It is mentioned that Antonio had two previous mates that had died under mysterious circumstances.  Was this not a red flag for Leo’s father or was the dowry he received more important than his son?  It seems that nobody in authority has had any power to investigate their deaths.  It would have been smart of one of the characters to suggest that Antonio might be doing something to Leo.

And these matings seem more like 18th or 19th century marriages where the “lesser” of the partners becomes property of the legally superior partner.  The other thing is that (SPOILER) Leo should not be beating himself up for the actions that he took.

The cover art by Latrisha Waters is nicely done.  It shows both Leo’s cheetah and human forms.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details

Kindle Edition, 91 pages
Published April 22nd 2016 by eXtasy Books
ASINB01EDH47GI
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSigned, Sealed, Delivered #2

Series:  Signed Sealed Delivered

Sealed With Honor (Signed Sealed Delivered #1)

Signed With a Heart (Signed Sealed Delivered #2)