A book review of Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack, #1)

This was a paranormal m/m romance. To explain the plot, I first have to explain the different species in this world. And the first of the two things that annoyed me about the book. But bear with me, it’s not all bad.

Humans used to exist in this world, but don’t anymore. Now there are just three main species. Werewolves can shift between human and wolf forms at will. Weres can shift between human, wolf and some kind of hybrid werewolf form that’s bigger and badder than either of their other two forms. And there are noweres, which are basically zombie weres, who are stuck in were form, and they’re undead zombies. *Rolleyes* I fucking hate zombies. I hate zombie books and I hate zombie movies. And what the fuck is up with naming all the species with such similar names? *Confused*

But anyway. The story starts with Reese, who is a werewolf. He awakens in a dungeon, chained to a wall, badly beaten. His brother is also in the dungeon. The last thing he remembers is trying to rescue his brother and sister from the small settlement they belonged to, as his sister was being forcibly mated to the leader of the settlement. He saved his brother, but was found before rescuing his sister, and beaten and left for death. His brother, with no other options, went to the weres for help.

Reese is hauled before Dane, the leader of the weres. Generally, werewolves and weres don’t get along. As it happens though, when they meet for the first time, Dane and Reese are shocked to realise they are Fated Mates. Don’t panic, it’s not insta-love so much as it is a knowledge that they’re destined to be together. They still have to go through the whole process of getting to know each other and falling in love.

Dare has to put his pack first, as he is their leader. Reese is still determined to rescue his sister. This is the major conflict between them. But there are also run-ins with zombie noweres, and weres that are trying to usurp Dare’s position, etc.

My only other niggle in the book was very minor. This is a romance between two males, which is fine. There are intimate scenes, also fine. But the author skips the whole concept of lube and just makes the male weres and werewolves ‘self lubricating’, much as human females self lubricate. *Think* I felt it was just that the author thought that it was too hard to figure out lube in a world where they live off the land, and so she just magically fixed the problem. No, no, no! *FacePalm*

But that was a very minor thing, and the book was a decent read. I rated it three stars, which means I liked it, but it wasn’t a stand-out for me.

A book review of In His Keeping by Maya Banks

If you’re following along with my reading challenge for 2018, this book was for ‘A book by your favourite author’.

It was hard to decide who my favourite author was.  So I went to my read books on Goodreads and reviewed all my five star books.  My top three authors were:
Maya Banks – 7
A M Arthur – 5
Nalini Singh – 5

So I went with Maya Banks, despite the fact that the last new book of hers I read was a pitiful one star disappointment, and the three before that were crappy two star reads.  Sigh.

So it was definitely with mixed feelings that I went with Maya Banks as my favourite author, but I couldn’t think of any better way to choose.

I went with the safety of re-reading one of her books that I’d enjoyed.  A safe bet, so to speak.

In His Keeping (Slow Burn, #2)

In His Keeping is the second book in the Slow Burn series.  It’s a modern paranormal romance series.  If you’re not familiar with Maya Banks, she also writes historical romance, modern military (or paramilitary) romance and menage romance.

There are five books in this series, with a sixth due to be released in March.  I rated the first one five stars, and the second and third I rated four stars.  I couldn’t finish the fourth one, and the fifth one was the one star read I’ve already mentioned.  So it started great, then seriously fizzled out.  But anyway, I enjoyed In His Keeping.

The series is based around the Devereaux family. Caleb and Beau Devereaux run a private security company.  Some of the men who work for them star in the later books.  This book, In His Keeping, is about Beau Devereaux.  A young lady comes to him for his help after her parents are kidnapped.  But she’s not an ordinary young lady.  Ari has paranormal powers.  For the most part I think she’s telekinetic.

The book moves really quickly.  I might be wrong, but I think there’s about a week from the beginning of the book to the end of the book.  Ari and Beau commit to ‘forever’ with each other by the third day I think.  It’s insta-love at its finest.  But the action is great, and the paranormal aspect keeps you wondering.  The plot kind of unfolds, revealing that it goes back to a long time before Beau and Ari were even born.

Ramie, from the first book, is the best secondary character in this book, but Zack definitely leaves us wanting to know more about him.  He’s the star of the third book, which is worth a read.

I haven’t done it justice, I don’t think, because a book is rarely as good on the second read through.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I guess I was less absorbed by it than the first time.

Anyway, the first three books in this series are a decent read if you like modern paranormal romance. Maya Banks typically tortures her characters, especially the women, and this series is no different, so they’re gritty. For me, I think the speed of Beau and Ari’s relationship was the only real negative. The rest was good. And I’m tempted to re-read Zack’s story. Maybe that’ll even inspire me to finally finish the fourth book. Or not. *Smirk*


My year in books

So, it turns out I read 118 books in 2017.  That’s considerably less than the 159 I read in 2016 and the 141 I read in 2015.  It’s also below my goal of 120 books, which is based on maintaining my average of 10 books per month.  Sigh, only two books away from my goal.  Ah well, I won’t be crying in my Weetbix about it.

44% of the books I read in 2017 were m/m romances.  52% were m/f romances and the remainder didn’t fit in either of those two categories (including transgender romance and menage romance).

92% of the books I read in 2017 were contemporary, and the remainder were historical.  That’s probably the biggest proportion of contemporary books ever for me.

Two of the books were anthologies, which makes me want to count them as multiple stories/books, but I haven’t.

Approx 22% of the books were paranormal, and one was science fiction.  Actually that one science fiction book wasn’t even a romance.  That was Pegasus in Flight by Anne McCaffrey, and it was the only non-romance book I read all year.

The author I read the most of was Dianne Duvall, by a long shot.  I read 10 of her books.  After her, it was Maya Banks and Katie Ruggle with 5 books each.  Then Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell at four books.

Most interesting read of 2017: 
I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of shifters who, instead of changing species, change genders.  In the story, Alex is a shifter and can change gender at whim.  Alex is not male nor female, but both.  Alex’s shifter nature is an integral part of Alex’s identity.  But while shifters are a known phenomenon, they are a minority and not as accepted in society as Alex would like.  So when Alex falls for Damon, a straight man, Alex stays in female form around Damon.  Over time, this puts a huge toll on Alex, and eventually on their relationship although Damon doesn’t know why Alex is so troubled.  Alex’s parents are not accepting of shifters, and urge Alex to undergo an operation to get an implant that would force Alex to be static.  When Alex refuses, they use drugs to force the operation without Alex’s permission.  Alex wakes up as a male, unable to shift.  How will Alex cope as half a person, and what will Damon do when his girlfriend is suddenly…a guy?

The author had not just an amazing idea, but they pulled it off too.  It’s well written and easy to read.  I’m not 100% sure that Damon’s actions and reactions were always realistic, but that didn’t really stop the book from being enjoyable.  The coworkers added enormously to the realism factor.  Definitely recommend it, especially if you’re interested in m/m or transgender reads, and don’t mind a touch of the paranormal.  There’s really nothing paranormal beyond the whole shifter idea, but you’ve got to take that with the rest of the otherwise contemporary book.

If you enjoy books where characters don’t fit a traditional male or female stereotype, you could also check out Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers, Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, and Ghost by J M Dabney.

My average rating for books was 3.4.  I have a system.  Yup, I do.
*Star**Star**Star**Star**Star* – This means I got totally lost in the book, to the point where I forgot I was reading.  I cared about the characters.
*Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw* – A great book, one I’d be happy to re-read.  For whatever reason, I didn’t get ‘lost’ in the book, but I really enjoyed it.
*Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw* – A good book, but nothing special.  Nothing wrong with it, it was just nice.
*Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw* – Something prevented me from enjoying this one.  It could have been poor editing, a crappy plot, whatever.  I didn’t like it.
*Star**Starw**Starw**Starw**Starw* – Seriously, how did this book get published?  This is ridiculous.

So it’s not bad actually, that my average rating was between good and great, huh?

Books I rated 5 stars and recommend:
A Mended Man by Jaime Reese
A Worthy Man by Jaime Reese
Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers
Pegasus In Flight by Anne McCaffrey
Never Seduce A Scot by Maya Banks
Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur
Burning Bright by Melissa McShane
Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
Tall, Tatted and Tempting by Tammy Falkner

Books I rated 1 star and suggest you avoid:
Head Hunter by Alexis Angel
Just One Touch by Maya Banks

It’s bizarre that Maya Banks is on both my five star and my one star lists.

There are less one star books, because I often read a sample before I buy the book, so if it starts off crap, I just don’t bother buying it.  I’m sure there are a few ‘did not finish’ books too, but those are harder to track.

What were your favourite reads of 2017?  Do you have any recommendations for me to read in 2018?

Books read in August

Depth of Field by Riley Hart *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Revealed to Him by Jen Frederick *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Entangled by Jessica Sorensen *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Entranced by Jessica Sorensen *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Enchanted by Jessica Sorensen

Blind Faith by N R Walker *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Finding His Place by Nic Starr *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tanner by Sarah Mayberry *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Hold Me by Talia Ellison *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Unfold Me by Talia Ellison *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*


Revealed to Him by Jen Frederick
I have to say, I got the audio version of this book, as well as the ebook, and it was awful.  The narrators were so bad.  There was no emotion, no feeling…  It really put me off the book, and I was struggling with it as it was.

The heroine suffers from crippling anxiety and agoraphobia, and yet when she’s outside and totally freaking out, a kiss from the hero overcomes all her fears and they end up having sex in the car.  Um, what?  She’s so agoraphobic that she passed out and threw up just trying to walk to the lift on her floor of her own apartment building, but she’s in a condition to have sex in a car, as they drive to his house?  Whatever.

The worst part for me was after she had a major freak out and had thrown up from sheer fear, and he put his fingers down her pants and commented on how wet she was for him.  Of course, then they had sex.  She hadn’t even brushed her teeth after throwing up.  Ugh.  It was such bullshit.  I’m sorry, but when people are in a state of extreme fear, they’re not thinking about how hot you are, or about sex.  No.  That is not realistic.  It’s ridiculous.  I struggled with her letting him into her apartment and them having sex, when she has such a fear of strangers and meeting new people, but I overlooked it, but the sex at times of extreme anxiety and fear?  Nope.  I almost put it down as a ‘did not finish’ but I detest not finishing a book, so I struggled through.  Kinda wish I hadn’t bothered now.  Maybe I can save you the time though.  There are definitely better books out there.

Enchanted by Jessica Sorensen
I really struggled to rate this.  I enjoyed it, and I would love to read more, and what I read I’d probably be happy to rate as four stars, but….  It wasn’t finished.  It was an incredibly short installment in the series and it didn’t even really feel like a cliffhanger so much as it felt unfinished.  I was very disappointed in the length.  Not the writing, which was fine, but the length.  I’d read more by this author, for sure, especially in this series, but I know now to be aware that I may not be buying a whole novel or even novella.  It’s more like a serial installment than a novella.

Blind Faith by N R Walker
Predictable but sweet.


A book review of Maya Banks’ Just One Touch

I have just finished reading Just One Touch by Maya Banks.  Maya Banks is probably my favourite author, which is really saying something when you read more than 140 books each year like I do.  I loved her Montgomery and Armstrong series, set in historical Scotland, which started with Never Seduce A Scot.  I have reread it a number of times.  I also loved her contemporary military KGI series, especially Whispers in the Dark, the fourth book, which I’ve reread a number of times. And I really enjoyed the first three books in the Slow Burn series which are contemporary military romances with strong paranormal aspects.  I’ve read quite a few of her other books too, including a few of her more risque books.  So, having said all that, Just One Touch, the fifth book in the Slow Burn series, is so below Maya Banks’ normal standards. I rated it just one star.

First off, there was the instalove. Jenna is a healer, and when Isaac is shot, she heals him. This is their very first interaction. Apparently Jenna doesn’t just heal Isaac’s body, but his soul too. He likens to her to an angel. Despite others she heals having very similar reactions, Isaac decides he is in love with Jenna, and she has no choice but to love him back. There is virtually no mention of any other facet of Jenna, just her amazing healing ability. He barely even knows her.

Jenna has lived an extremely sheltered life. She has never been touched in kindness by a man, let alone had a kiss or fallen in love. She falls for Isaac’s worship of her, and believes they are meant to be together. Again, she barely knows him and is more in love with the idea of being loved than anything particular to Isaac.

Secondly, Isaac’s ‘love’ for Jenna is more like obsession. There are numerous mentions of how he can’t ever let her go and how lucky it is that she loves him too because he wouldn’t let her go either way.

“God, I’m such a bastard to even think that way, much less say it out loud, when you’ve been a prisoner for damn near your entire life, and yet here I am locking you up again and refusing to free you. But honey, it will be the sweetest of prisons. I swear on my life that I’ll spoil you ridiculously and pamper and take care of you and love you so damn much that you never look at it for what it is—a prison—but instead you’ll only see your forever home.

Um, what? That’s so wrong, not to mention illegal. Just because you treat her well doesn’t mean that you can take away someone’s freedom and right to choose.  He even acknowledges the similarities between Jenna’s kidnappers and himself, noting that the only difference is that he would adore her instead of using her. Her permission seems irrelevant.

He swallowed back his sudden insecurity, because Jesus fuck, he was as crazy and obsessed and over the top as Jaysus, only Isaac’s obsession was with making her laugh, smile, giving her every single thing, no matter how large or small, her heart desired from now until the end of their time on earth together. And then he’d simply follow her into the afterlife, where he’d continue driving her every bit as crazy as he knew he’d likely drive her in this lifetime, and he felt not one iota of remorse, nor would he ever apologize, for his brand of obsession.

It’s all so wrong. And so shockingly beneath Maya Banks’ normal standards of book. Do NOT be put off Maya Banks if you haven’t read her other work. I’d even recommend the first three books in this series, where we meet Ari, Gracie and Ramie. Those three books were fantastic. The fourth didn’t do much for me, but this fifth Slow Burn novel is not worth your time and attention.

Books read in June

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Darkness Rises by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Night Unbound by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Blind Faith by Teresa Gabelman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Sound of Her Warrior Heart by M L Buchman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

An Unconventional Meeting by E V Darcy *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Working It by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Touch of Fire by Jasmine B Waters *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Adam’s Song by Spencer Spears *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tartan Two-Step by Grace Burrowes *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall
I had a pretty good idea of where this story was going, because in the previous novel, Yuri was killed in action.  Now, we step back in time a little and he’s the main character in a romance?  Oh, wait, the girl he falls in love with is a ghost.  Hmm, predictable much?  So yeah, Yuri dies and the two ghosts get to be together forever…as ghosts.  Ugh.  This was definitely not up to Dianne Duvall’s normal standards.

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams
Although it was well written, this book wasn’t for me.  I would have rated it two stars for my personal enjoyment of the book, but it seemed a little unfair to the author.  I mean, it’s a novel featuring a gay couple who are in a dominant/submissive relationship – it seems unfair to reduce my rating because I didn’t enjoy the dom/sub aspect of it.  But I didn’t.  And I was unable to give it more than three stars.

For me, a relationship has to be equal.  These two were equals at work, equals in strength, etc.  They were not equals in their relationship.  To me, it seemed that Wayne didn’t see Ellis as an equal.  Instead, Wayne felt superior, smarter, more of an ‘adult’, and he patronised Ellis.  I felt like it was more like a parent/child relationship than one of equals.  This was emphasised by the way Wayne addressed Ellis as ‘boy’ and made Ellis call him ‘Sir’.

I also felt like the last third of the book was an extended epilogue.  The book just kept going and going and going…  I was so over it by the time I finally finished.

Books read in May

The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Strong Medicine by J K Hogan *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Rendezvous With Yesterday by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Seven Years by Dannika Dark *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tracking You by Kelly Moran *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*