Format: Kindle Edition

Review: Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason

Posted November 1, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 26 Comments

Review: Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie MasonMistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason
Series: Harmony Harbor #1
Published by Forever on October 25th 2016
Genres: Romance, Holiday
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

'Tis the season for love . . . Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she's forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter's blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.
Sophie's return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they've concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic...

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Sophie DiRossi fled Harmony Harbor out of embarrassment years ago, only to return to the place she once grew up with after her other home went she lived in went up in flames. Now Sophia is back in Harmony and is a carrier of a heavy secret herself. It’s bad enough she is afraid that the secret about her daughter will come out, it’s worse that she has child services on her tail due to the fire that happened to traumatize her little girl – who is now refusing to speak.

Mistletoe Cottage is the first book in Harmony Harbor series from Debbie Mason and it was a decent start to what is looking like an interesting series.

I really liked the little girl Mia, the DiRossi loud and funny family and Liam Gallagher, the hero of this story. It was a relaxing read after all the dark stuff in October and I thought it was a great read to start of the pile of upcoming Holiday stuff.

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The story was interesting as Sophie tries to put together a high profile wedding to save the mansion that Liam’s family happens to own. She is hired as a manager to make it happen right before Colleen, Liam’s great-grandmother passes away. Now Sophie is all stressed because she is planning a Michael’s wedding and that is the last person she wants to see. Not because she is in love with him, but because of the secrets she thinks she is keeping from him.

This was… it started out cute and promising, bu  t somewhere along the way I felt a bit of confusion. I did enjoy the story, as it sets a lot of interesting potential for the upcoming books. I really, really want to know what happened to Sophie’s cousin Ava and her ex-husband and kind of hope we won’t be left waiting too long.

I loved the interaction between Liam and Mia, it was so heartwarming the way he took to the little girl right away and how she took to him.

There was romance, but it didn’t feel like it overpowered the book. When it happened it was nice and added warmth to the book, especially due to Liam.

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My biggest issue was Sophie, I just couldn’t like her and her mood swings gave me a whiplash. I didn’t like the way she behaved with Mia’s father and telling him he didn’t earn the right after SHE was the one who kept the secret away from him for seven years. I also didn’t like the fact that she had the nerve to slap him.

I was a fan of Mason’s other series, this one felt a bit rushed, especially the ending – it left my head spinning as things started to go wickedly fast and scenes just skipping and bouncing all over the place.

Overall, the series has my attention. I am especially interested in Ava and hope she gets her book next. It was a good holiday read with some tender moments and I am looking forward to more

 

Excerpt

 

The door to the bathroom opened. Liam lowered his razor to smile at Mia and Sophie.

Sophie slammed the door in his face.“You stay right where you are,” she ordered him from the other side. “Mia baby, let’s go check out your bedroom.”

He heard the sound of their retreating footsteps and shrugged. He wasn’t sure what the problem was. He’d just lifted the razor to his chin when the door reopened and Sophie stepped inside, closing it behind her. Her eyes flitted over him, then she raised her gaze to meet his, a faint blush coloring her cheeks. He grinned at her reaction. At least he wasn’t the only one feeling the attraction.

She glared at him. “If you wanted to give me a welcome-to-the-apartment present, flowers or a plant would have been a better idea than . . . than this.” Her hand fluttered between them.

“You think I’m your welcome-to-the-apartment present?” he said, unable to keep the amusement from his voice.

“It’s not funny, Liam. I have an impressionable daughter. You can’t just show up at my apartment half naked, expecting to—”

He put the razor down and turned to her, crossing his arms. “Think what?”

“Don’t do that. It won’t work,” she said, her eyes landing somewhere between his chest and the towel.

“Soph, you’ve lost me. I don’t have a clue—”

“Please, as if you don’t know how sexy you look right now standing there all naked and wet with your muscles on display.”

He looked down at himself then raised his gaze to hers while holding back a full-out grin as it hit him what was going on. He didn’t plan to enlighten her just yet. He was having too much fun. “You forgot my impressive abs.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Where are your clothes? You need to get dressed and . . . What are you doing?” she asked as he closed the distance between.

Her palms landed on his chest when he crowded her against the door. “I just thought, since I went to all this trouble to surprise you, you could at least give me a kiss.”

“No, Mia is in the next room.” She stared at his mouth. “And even if I wanted to kiss you, you have shaving cream on your face.”

“Admit it. You like your present. And you really, really want to kiss me.”

The corner of her mouth lifted as her hands inched their way up his chest and around his neck. She leaned into him. “Yes, I like my present. But I’d like it a whole lot more if Mia wasn’t with me. And I might want to kiss you a little.”

“A lot,” he said and cupped her face in his hands, lowering his mouth to hers. He wanted to linger, to explore her sweet mouth with a deep, consuming kiss. Instead, because Mia was down the hall, he went with soft and tender and long enough that she’d feel how much he wanted her.

He pulled back. Her face was tipped up, her eyes closed. He smiled at the shaving cream covering the lower half of her face and slowly trailed his finger through it to draw a foamy line of white down her neck. With her eyes still closed, she leaned back against the door, a small hum of pleasure escaping from between her parted lips. He ducked his head and whispered. “You like that, don’t you?”

She opened her heavy-lidded eyes and nodded, watching him as he dipped his fingers beneath the V of her caramel-colored sweater.

He felt her shiver beneath his fingers and moved her hair off her shoulders with his other hand before rubbing his cheek against hers. He’d never look at shaving cream the same way. He wanted to cover every inch of her . . .

A knock sounded on the door. She shoved him away. Her eyes wide and glazed, she wiped frantically at her face. “Be right there, baby.”

Liam grimaced. He’d gotten so carried away he’d forgotten about Mia. “Sorry, Soph. Give me a sec, and I’ll get some clothes on.” He turned to open the door leading into his apartment.

“You have got to be kidding me,” she said.

Liam glanced over his shoulder. “Nope, your apartment shares a bathroom with mine. Welcome to the neighborhood,” he said with a wink.

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About Debbie Mason

Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

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Review: House of Whispers by J.L. Bryan

Posted October 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  House of Whispers by J.L. BryanHouse of Whispers by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #5
Published by J.L. Bryan on October 2nd 2015
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 215
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel is a Savannah institution that has entertained guests for more than a century and a half, offering some of the finest accommodations in the city. Famously haunted, the hotel draws tourists from around the world eager to encounter its numerous ghosts. The hotel is also known for being honeycombed with hidden doors and secret passages, enabling staff to appear and disappear quickly as they attend to the hotel's guests.
Now some of the spirits in the Lathrop Grand have turned violent, even murderous. Ellie and Stacey must determine which ghost has become dangerous and remove it from the hotel before it can claim any more lives. They soon learn the hotel has secrets even darker than the notorious string of nineteenth-century murders that made it famous, and the powerful entities inhabiting it don't intend to leave without a fight.

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel in Savannah is notoriously known for being one of the most famously haunted hotels at it’s time, drawing tourists around the world who are eager to experience the encounter of its numerous ghosts. When these encounters turn deadly, Ellie and Stacy are commissioned by the management to help remove the ghosts before they claim any more lives.

What I liked

  • I really loved that Bryan is branching out and taking Ellie and Stacy places that are no longer just client houses, but other properties. In the last one he took us for a ride on a ghost train and in this installment we get to explore the dark history behind Lathrop Hotel and not only its famous ghosts but the dark secrets that have been buried with for years.
  • While reading, I had a thought and did a bit of research, I came to wonder if perhaps the basis of this story was influenced by the famous Marshall House, whose history upon a little research I have come to realize is eerily similar to Bryan’s version in the book. If so, I wonder how many other haunted places in Savannah have influenced his works. I find it very fascinating and it makes me want to dig around a bit in the history of Savannah. I do know that Bryan’s ghost stories are original and even if they are based on the history of a real location, he expands on that basis and makes it into a very engrossing read that is difficult to put down.
  •   This book is probably one of my favorite yet. It is dark, it is scary, and it’s hard to read with the lights out. The ghosts that Ellie and Stacy were investigating were sinister and came with a lot of packages. But the history and the plot that Bryan wove into the story just really made this book for me.
  •   We get introduced to the agency that is thinking of buying Calvin’s and the two people that I think will become significant in Ellie’s life her boss goes forward with the move.

 

What didn’t I like

  • I am a sucker for romance and even thought it does not play a major part in the books, I still wish that we got a bit more. Something strange happens in the scene with Ellie and Michael when she does meet him and it makes me wonder what kind of a role it will play in the later books.
  • When Ellie and Stacy show up to the Hotel they have to sign a disclosure agreement. The way the manager of the hotel was acting and being pushy about it made me wonder if there was something else too it, but it never went anywhere beyond that.
  •  I was a bit thrown off by how Ellie had come to the conclusion of who the bad guy was with all of these ghosts running around because the baddie wasn’t really talked about much through the book. It made me pause and left me wondering what happened there. The whole ending had once again made me feel like it had faltered, just like it had in the last book. I am not sure what is going on. I loved these stories because the ghosts up until the last two books have sounded realistic and that is what made them creepy. The whole showdown with the end boss (heh, see what I did there?) felt a bit cartoonish at times and not what I have come to expect from Bryan’s work. I hope there will be an improvement with endings because I am enjoying the books, oh so very much and cannot wait for more.

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A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Posted October 20, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

A Promise of Fire by Amanda BouchetA Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER…
“Cat” Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

A great start to what is promising to be quite an original and new series!

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a Magoi, a magic carrier. Not only is she a magic carrier, she is also the legendary Kingmaker who has escaped the clutches of her violent mother from Fisa and is pretending to be a soothsayer in a traveling circus.

Cat thought she was doing fine in hiding her identity until the non-magical Hoi Polloi warlord finds her and practically kidnaps her. Griffin is Beta Sinta and part of the non-magical family who somehow overthrown the last magical Magoi royals who ruled Sinta and now he needs Cat in order to bring peace to the land. Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker and knows that she is able to use her powers to divine the truth through lies and that she would make a powerful weapon for the new ruling family.

This was an interesting read. I picked this up because everyone and their mother’s were raving about this new series and I happen to be an old lover of fantasy, so I knew I had to read this and see what the fuss is all about.

A Promise of Fire is a great introduction into a new world that Amanda Bouchet has pasted together. I love that she uses Greek Mythology, I am a huge fan of Greek Mythology, so naturally I was excited to see what she can do with it.

I think it’s a bit hard to review the first in the series of the new fantasy books. There are a lot of holes to fill and it makes me as a reader a bit more frustrated. I also have to take into the account that even though this is a fantasy, it is not a traditional fantasy, but more of a romantic fantasy, so my expectations have to alter themselves.

We spend a lot of time following Cat and Griffin as they make their way towards Sinta and there is a lot of the same antagonistic play through the journey. As much as I enjoyed the bickering it was starting to feel a bit too repetitive and I felt like much of the book was spent traveling to Sinta and not enough of details of the world was given. I am a sucker for world building and although Bouchet did a great job with her first book, the details were murky at best.

What I did enjoy is the romance between Cat and Griffin and all the bickering between them. I do have to ask, is it just me or does Cat seem a lot younger than Griffin? A LOT. I get that she has a prickly exterior and for good reasons, but the level of maturity between the two was stark.

The humor alone was worth the read and Bouchet’s writing is just simply stunning. It really pulls you into this world and it’s hard to let go. It does make you want more, so much more and might be part of the reason I felt so frustrated. I wanted more details, I wanted to know more about the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. the world and how Sinta, Fisa and Tarva function. I I think if readers who have no basic understanding of the Greek Mythology would find some stuff with the god’s mentioned a bit confusing to say the least.

I cannot wait to see how the secondary characters develop, the Alpha Sinta and her sister’s look like an interesting bunch. But, I was confused when Griffin promised Cat that once she meets his sister, she would understand why she was Alpha. I didn’t feel like Cat understood and neither did I to be honest. But, there is some potential for more romance between the princesses and the soldiers. I especially like the forbidden type aspect it’s got going here.

Also, Cat’s history is a huge background to this story and although no big reveal comes of it in this book (which I guess is really important moving forward) it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what is going on, and who she really is. It is a bit baffling that Griffin is slow on the uptake.

Although all of it aside, I LOVED Griffin the best. I think there is a sense of mystery with him that I hope gets resolved in later books. He is a Hoi Polloi warlord but there is something different and special about it and I wonder HOW it came to that.

Overall, I am happy I gave this a shot. The writing was great, talented, and the humor was just what I needed. So I am definitely looking forward to more. I am officially sucked in and need more books and details to fill that hunger.

 

Memorable Quotes

“She talks big, but she’s made of custard.”
“Fluffy and full of cream?” Kato wiggles blond eyebrows at me. Carver grins. “Think she’s sweet, too?”
My eyes spit fire. “Bite me. You’ll find out.”

“You are not tying me up in a cave!”

Flinty eyes swing my way. “I can’t have you attached to me while I fight.”

“Untie me, then!”

He snorts, and I roll my eyes.

“Two hours, then the cave,” Beta Sinta says. “Enjoy the sunlight.”

My jaw goes slack. “Unless you’re planning on knocking me unconscious, dragging me to the temple, and practicing ventriloquy, I still have to say yes!”

Griffin’s face shuts down entirely.

“We’ll discuss this later.”

 

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Terminal by J.L. Bryan

Posted October 19, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 22 Comments

Terminal by J.L. BryanTerminal by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #4
Published by www.jlbryanbooks.com on May 4th 2015
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 211
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

Ellie Jordan and her apprentice Stacey investigate a house in an elaborate planned community that was only half-built before it went bankrupt, leaving an instant ghost town with only a few residents. The entity haunting this house is a banshee that feeds on sadness and misery.
Unfortunately for Ellie, this is no simple haunting, but just one symptom of the cursed land on which the suburban community was built. The old railroad line running through the nearby woods might just be a conduit for lost souls, including dark spirits with ill intentions toward the living. Ellie soon finds herself facing one of the most complex and difficult hauntings she’s seen in her career.

Ellie and Stacy are investigating a house of a young couple with a baby on the way, living in a community that was never fully developed. Ellie suspects that the ghost might be a banshee and is feeding off on the soon to be mother because of her delicate state.

It should have been a simple haunting, but Ellie and Stacy soon find that the situation is a bit more complicated. Near the failed development runs an old railroad through the woods, a ghost train, lost souls and dark spirits that can be harmful to the hand full of people living nearby.

Wow, what a thrilling ride. Bryan has done it again with this new installment that focuses on a much more complicated haunting that takes the duo out of the house and into their surroundings. I love the creepy, atmospheric setting of the woods, the ghost train and the mystery behind what happened when a train robber went wrong.

I thought this was a very nice addition to the series and I liked how the story branched out and that it wasn’t just a regular house haunting. As always Bryan does an amazing job putting together an interesting background story of what happened to the people on the train and I found the entire thing exciting and fascinating. It made me eagerly flip through my kindle pages to see how it all turned out.

As much as I absolutely adored the story and train robbers and how it connected, I was a bit rattled by the ending. It felt a bit strange, too convenient, too random, as if Bryan wasn’t sure where he was going with it and just threw it all together the last minute. I was left with more questions than answers. Out of all the times she had spent trapping ghosts, why did it happen this way now? The whole resolution with the main baddie ghost was just odd and I have a feeling that whatever it was that Ellie saw that night might not get addressed in later books. I hope that Bryan will prove me wrong in that regard.

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Review: The Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan

Posted October 8, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review:  The Crawling Darkness by J.L. BryanThe Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #3
Published by Self-published on February 5th 2015
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 222
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ghost removal specialist Ellie Jordan must face a dangerous, shape-shifting entity that she and Calvin have encountered once before, with tragic results. The spirit has the power to reach into the minds of living and feed on their fears, taking the shape of their worst nightmares, and it has awoken in search of new victims.
Now Ellie must try to succeed where she and her mentor failed before, and try to defeat the twisted and powerful old ghost before it can claim another soul for its collection.

Stacy and Ellie are back, but this time they are square off against a ghost that Ellie and Calvin have faced and failed to capture in the past. The ghost is dangerous, it feeds off people’s biggest fears and it seems to pry on the weakest the most, like children. Worse is the fact that it disappeared on the night that Calvin and Ellie had tried to capture him, hurt Calvin and is now years later moved into a new home.

Ellie must find a way to stop the ghost and get rid of it for good. It won’t be easy since years of darkness had turned the ghost into something dark, creepy and unidentifiable with the person this creature once was.

I enjoyed this, it was extremely creepy, but well done. This one really brought chills up my spine, and made the darkness of the night even more scary. In its essence, this was the story of a boogeyman and the history was not only interesting but disturbing. There is a lot more evil in the house than Ellie had originally bargained for and it does seem like the case is not yet closed.

We also get to meet Michael in this book, who becomes a sort of love interest of Ellie. I am very excited about the potential here and I loved the connection the two shared. I am looking forward for him appearing in other books, his hobby of restoring old clocks is fascinating.

I’ve been reading a lot of ghost stories lately with it being October and so close to Halloween. I’ll try to slow down and do something different for you guys but these books that I have been picking up are just amazing in writing and the authors have a real way of just sucking you right into that world.

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