A Paul B New Release Review: Unsafe Exposure (Hidden Wolves #4) by Kaje Harper

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

unsafe-exposure-by-kaje-harperWildlife artist Dylan Shore is accompanying his sister Frankie as she being Northwestern University.  He decides to go to the zoo to see if he can find anything interesting to draw.  Sitting at the wolf exhibit, a group of young men come up to him and ask why he did not pay respect when he came into pack territory.  Thinking his only way to prevent from being killed by this gang, he runs.  While he can outrun most everybody, these four not only keep pace but are actually gaining ground.  Only when a car pulls up along him does Dylan find an actual escape route.  He jumps in the car and they put the gang behind them.

Alex is a statistician doing medical research in Chicago.  As fourteenth in the Seattle pack, he is the lowest ranking werewolf there.  When he sees a strange werewolf running from members of the Chicago North pack, he decides to give the man a break, hoping the others don’t recognize him or his car.  After all, as a low ranking visiting wolf, you don’t want to piss off your hosts.  As he gets to know Dylan, there are two things that surprise him.  First, Dylan is a gay werewolf.  Second, Dylan has no clue that he is a werewolf.  It is no wonder that Dylan does not understand pack protocol.  With members of the Chicago North pack after both of them, Alex must now educate what it means to be a shifter.  But when both are captured and taken to a military research facility, Alex’s mission changes.  Now he must keep both of them, along with a young shifter boy, alive in order to escape.  When the escape occurs, it will have far reaching consequences for the werewolves not only across the country, but the world.

I have enjoyed Kaje Harper’s Hidden Wolves series from the start.  This is the fourth book (not counting two  interlude titles) to the series and as such should be read in order in order to understand the over-arching story lines. The series is a bit darker than most shifter series.  The emphasis is on pack politics and hierarchy, along with doing what wolves need to do to advance.  In fact, Aaron calls his mate “eleventh” during official pack business.   They are human wolves.

As for this book,  I like that the first part of the book focused mostly on the new characters that are introduced here.  There are mentions of the leader of the Alpha Council and the alpha of the Chicago North pack but do not play a major role until later.  In fact, the main characters of the previous books do not appear until two thirds of the way through the book.  Simon and Paul’s two kittens (both of whom think that they are wolf pups) make a cameo as well.  I await the next book in this series.

I like the cover by Winterheart Designs.  It has our two young men causally dresses as if going out in the Chicagoland area.  Below them is the skyline for Chicago.  Above them are wolf eyes watching out over the scene.  This fits the model of the other covers in the series.

Sales Links

MLR Press LLC

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Book Details

Ebook, 393 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  September 9, 2016 by MLR Press

ISBN:  978-1-944770-32-7

Series:  Hidden Wolves – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Dinner at Jack’s by Rick R. Reed

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

dinner-at-jacks-by-rick-r-reedPersonal chef Beau St. Clair, recently divorced from his cheating husband, returns to the small Ohio River town where he grew up to lick his wounds. Jack Rogers lives with his mother, Maisie, in that same small town, angry at and frightened of the world. Jack has a gap in his memory that hides something he dares not face, and he’s probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maisie, seeking relief from her housebound and often surly son, hires Beau to cook for Jack, hoping the change might help bring Jack, once a handsome and vibrant attorney, back to his former self. But can a new face and comfort food compensate for the terror lurking in Jack’s past?

Slowly the two men begin a dance of revelation and healing. Food and compassion build a bridge between Beau and Jack, a bridge that might lead to love.

But will Jack’s demons allow it? Jack’s history harbors secrets that could just as easily rip them apart as bring them together.

This is a story full of hurt and lots and lots of comfort. It deals with PTSD after a violent attack, though the attack isn’t described explicitly.

At first, I couldn’t stand Jack. He was a mean, horrid person most of the time. Even knowing he suffered from a mental illness, I couldn’t make myself like him. But soon enough, he got his own chapter from his POV and I started understanding him better. The two POVs are essential to me. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much as I did, had there been only Beau’s POV.

My favourite character in the whole story was Beau’s cute little pug, Ruth. She was absolutely adorable. I loved her to bits. The way Beau leads whole conversations with her made me like him instantly. I loved that she was the boss and very much the “alpha”. Beau totally failed to be the leader of the pack that every dog owner should be, leading to some hilarious scenes with her. And I can totally relate to the feeling of “she’s so ugly, you just have to love her”. That’s the feeling I always had with my cat.

Quite a few of Beau’s chapters start with a recipe. I skipped most of those, tbh, since I’m a very lazy and unwilling cook. It’s still a unique feature I haven’t come across before. Food plays a very important role throughout the whole book.

I think the PTSD was mostly described realistically. Jack doesn’t just instantly get better thanks to lots of loving. Everybody keeps insisting that he really, really should get help from a professional, but Jack doesn’t want to.

The one thing that really bothered me was the whole set up. It’s all one huge coincidence. Not only have Beau and Jack met years ago, they also happen to be from the same small town, Maisi just so happens to go looking for a personal chef on Craigslist and Beau just so happens to actually read and, despite his better judgement, also accept the job. It was just too much to feel realistic.

Still, I enjoyed “Dinner at Jack’s”. It’s not as sugary-sweet as I’d feared. There are a lot of dark elements and the mental illness is taken seriously. But the best part was still Ruth.

Cover: The cover by Reese Dante shows Jack and Beau embracing in the snow and gnocchi at the bottom. It fits the story really well.

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Book details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: October 3rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634776712 (ISBN13: 9781634776714)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Paul B Release Day Review: Warrior Pledge by E.E. Montgomery

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

warriors-pledge-by-ee-montgomeryOne Pure, prophecy revoked

One Great Heart Farseeing

One Changeling fooling wing

One Shining Silver from Rock

This is part of the Warrior Pledge that the cat shifter people known as Mafdeti from the planet Thalazar have passed down for nearly a millennia.  It is believed that when the two moons of Thalazar cross each other, which happens every thousand years that the Mafdeti will return to their rightful place on the planet.  During the time of the last crossing, the ancestors of the Descendants arrived on the planet and took over.  The dragons that had inhabited the planet disappeared and the norrgel, a predatory bird with deadly wings, began to rule the sky. 

Checa has heard the tale since he was a cub.  At sixteen, he killed the man who murdered his brother.  While he was convicted of the crime, his conviction was thrown out when people became aware that his eyes turned silver after the killing.  He is unwilling to believe that he is part of the fated quartet that will change the history of his planet.  The other complication for Checa is that Heath, his best friend, lover and would be mate, has been determined to be the Great Heart Farseeing.  He is unwilling to jeopardize the safety of not only his lover but prince of his people. 

As the duo set out to collect the other two of the pledge, they have to deal with the Descendants, who believe the Pledge is just an alliance between different factions of their people.   They must traverse dangerous territory avoiding the norrgel, combating the Exiles, who claim alligence to no one, and deal with a traitor within their midst.  They also pick up a surprising new ally along the trip which may help turn the battle in their favor.  The quartet must race to the Lake of the Damned before time runs out.

This is a very entertaining adventure romance science fiction story.  It has a little bit for everyone.  From shifter cats to high fantasy creatures of the norrgel and dragons to a romance between two men, one of which wants to commit but is afraid doing so might kill his lover if he dies on the quest.  As the prophecy says only one returns from the pledge, Checa is fearful that neither he nor Heath will survive or worse, only him.  Mafdeti go feral if their mate dies, which is why he is unwilling to bond with Heath.  The result of the pledge is a bit utopian and a bit of a letdown for me.  However, the payoff for Checa was worth it in the end. 

The cover art by Maria Fanning works well with the book.  A shifted Mafdeti cat and shirtless man are featured on top of the cover.   Part of the Thalazar landscape is shown beneath.

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Book Details

ebook, 296 pages
Expected publication: October 3rd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777611 (ISBN13: 9781634777612)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Review: Immortal Watch (Godsbane Prince #2) by Olivia Helling

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 
immortal-watchIlyas and Jem arrive in Nuriya to secure a trade deal on behalf of Lumi. But what Ilyas thought would be surprisingly easy turns out to be a whole lot tougher. Especially after he receives the news that he has a child.
 
As Ilyas is distracted by his child, Jem falls into a whole new trouble with people who call themselves the Immortal Watch. But what they both don’t know is that they are just cogs in the scheme of a much more elaborate plan
 
This book is all about its story. It is a story that has everything and would be near impossible to describe in a single word but if I had to that word would have to be ambitious. This story has gods, aliens, a supernatural war, interdimensional travel, bloody politics, a scramble for power, new hopes, crushing defeats, death and a search for a trade deal that started it all. And if I could get another word it would be interesting. This story is a high speed roller-coaster ride that just leaves you flipping the pages one after the other till the very end. I read this book in a single sitting, which definitely proves that I for one was hooked to this story.
 
My issues with this book are more morally inclined, I don’t like books with indiscriminate killing and there is a lot of that in this book, also the pig-headed MCs of this book didn’t help matters.
 
Olivia Helling has a gift she can make you hate and absolve a character in the span of one book. In the last book I faced this with Ilyas; this time around it’s Jem. What I came to realise is that while Jem’s behaviour and actions fit well against the background of the events taking place in Lumi, the same actions in Nuriya make him look unhinged.
 
The main focus of this story is on a war that took place between the gods and the members of the Immortal Watch ages ago and how that war has shaped the events that happen in this book. I won’t go into further detail as that would be a major spoiler but that aspect of this story is the best part of this book and is a thriller that twists and turns and leaves you all wringed out. But there is a subplot concerning Ilyas and Jem and their budding relationship and the strain that Ilyas’ discovery of being a father puts on it.
 
Personally Ilyas and Jem’s relationship seems woefully underdeveloped but as that underdevelopment was essential to the plot of the book, I let it go but it was still there in the back of my mind that there circumstances were unique in the extreme.
 
I liked Ilyas and I loved him throughout the book, especially as he finally gets Jem to see the fallacy of his actions. But their resolution seems a bit too hurried; I think they really need to work out certain things between them that were left unsaid at the end of this book. If there is going to be another book in this series I hope it focuses on their relationship.
 
Overall this is one hell of a book with an amazing plot that never lets up.
 
Cover Art by Lou Harper. I liked the cover but it doesn’t exactly match the image I had in my head, especially concerning the city of Nuriya which looks desert-like for a place with such fertile grounds. Also, the singular colour of the buildings didn’t fit with the colour loving Nuriyites.
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Book Details:
ebook
Published September 23rd 2016 by Olivia Helling
ISBN139780993918094
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series: Godsbane Prince

An Alisa Audiobook Review: A Shot at Forgiveness by Cardeno C. and Robert M. Clark (Narrator)

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

a-shot-at-forgiveness-audioSometimes to find love, you must first learn forgiveness.

A dozen years, 2,000 miles, and a law degree after high school, Rafi Steiner continues to harbor resentment toward Isaac Jones, his childhood bully turned NBA star. When Isaac appears at Rafi’s favorite restaurant acting like a long-lost friend, Rafi bluntly dismisses him.

But Isaac is tenacious and he has his heart set on the grown-up version of the boy he always wanted and never forgot. The way Isaac sees it, he and Rafi are perfect for each other, if only he could sink the most important shot of his life: his one shot at forgiveness.

 

Isaac has lived with his anger towards Rafi since they were teens.  When Rafi shows up Isaac is sure he is just there to make his life hell again.

 

This story is told from Isaac’s point of view, so we see the sweet actions that Rafi does, but how they are misinterpreted by Isaac due to his tainted view.  When Isaac learns that he is the reason that Rafi plans to move to the city and transfer he is floored, but he begins to look at their past interactions to see them a bit differently.

 

Robert M Clark did a good job narrating this story.  I could connect with the characters through the voices and emotions he portrayed.  Even though this is a book I have read it gave me a new connection to the story listening to him.

 

Cover art is nice and catches your eye.

 

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Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 1 hrs 38 min
Published: July 6, 2016 (ebook, 2nd edition, published July, 5 2015)
Edition Language: English