Friday, March 20, 2020

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

Title: A Bad Day for Sunshine
Series: Sunshine Vicram #1
Author: Darynda Jones
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: April 7, 2020

Sheriff Sunshine Vicram finds her cup o’ joe more than half full when the small village of Del Sol, New Mexico, becomes the center of national attention for a kidnapper on the loose.

Del Sol, New Mexico is known for three things: its fry-an-egg-on-the-cement summers, its strong cups of coffee—and a nationwide manhunt? Del Sol native Sunshine Vicram has returned to town as the elected sheriff--an election her adorably meddlesome parents entered her in--and she expects her biggest crime wave to involve an elderly flasher named Doug. But a teenage girl is missing, a kidnapper is on the loose, and all of it's reminding Sunny why she left Del Sol in the first place. Add to that trouble at her daughter’s new school and a kidnapped prized rooster named Puff Daddy, and Sunshine has her hands full.

Enter sexy almost-old-flame Levi Ravinder and a hunky US Marshall, both elevens on a scale of one to blazing inferno, and the normally savvy sheriff is quickly in over her head. Now it’s up to Sunshine to juggle a few good hunky men, a not-so-nice kidnapping miscreant, and Doug the ever-pesky flasher. And they said coming home would be drama-free.

I thought Charley Davidson was a funny and interesting female character to follow. Yet, I must confess that I didn’t finish the series and I'm not sure why except that sometimes life interferes with my reading. I do plan to go back to it at some point.

However, when I learned a new book by Darynda Jones was coming out, I was super excited about it. I've always liked her writing style. As luck would have it, I was given a complimentary copy by the publisher and I couldn't be happier.

I can’t say enough about how entertaining this book was. It has so many good one-liners. The right amount of fun, drama, and mystery to keep me entertained on a Saturday afternoon.

The plot:

Sunshine Vicram has not been home in fifteen years. She’s back with her fourteen-year-old daughter Auri. Currently, she’s living in a remodeled guesthouse behind her parent's (Cyrus and Elaine Freyr) home. She’s not clear how she got the job, but she’s the new sheriff the Del Sol county in New Mexico.

Her best friend Quincy is a deputy and her lost love Levi Ravinder lives here too. Levi has made his family business legit. His corn whiskey distillery is wold-famous.

Multiple things are happening simultaneously:

*A young girl, a classmate of Auri's, Sybil St. Aubin has been abducted. Levi’s nephew, Jimmy has disappeared at the same time.

*A man, Ramses Rojas has escaped prison.

*A neighbor's dispute between Mrs. Sorenson and Mr. Madrid about a rooster named P. Diddy.

*Sunshine is trying to remember the details of her own abduction. When she was 17, she was taken and held captive. She had a traumatic brain injury with a month in a coma and with a sequela of retrograde amnesia. Although, lately she has been having some glimpses of her time as a prisoner. 

Soon thereafter, her town will have U.S. Marshal Vincent Deleon and Special Agent Carter Fields helping with the investigations. Both are nice to look at. Although, Sunshine's heart belongs to Levi.

As if this was not enough for Sunshine, she also has to deal with Donna, the Major. She wants to know who the Dangerous Daughters are. The Dangerous Daughters are thought to be a myth but maybe they're real.

If you like Darynda Jones' prior work, you're going to love this one. I was dying to get to the second book in this series right away. I have a desperate need to learn more about Levi and the secrets he keeps.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Honey-Don't List by Christina Lauren

Title: The Honey-Don't List
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 24, 2020

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

From the “hilariously zany and heartfelt” (Booklist) Christina Lauren comes a romantic comedy that proves if it’s broke, you might as well fix it.

From the New York Times bestselling author behind the “joyful, warm, touching” (Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author) The Unhoneymooners comes a delightfully charming love story about what happens when two assistants tasked with keeping a rocky relationship from explosion start to feel sparks of their own.

I’m always looking forward to reading a book by Christina Lauren. This duo can bring the smiles and the sexy out very easily. 

As soon as I saw The Honey-Don't List as an option to request it,  I was requesting away and happy to dive into it.

The plot involves Carey Fern Duncan and James Westman McCann helping a well-known HGTV couple, Melissa and Russell "Rusty" Tripp. The Tripp's have become quite successful between their popular stores, Comb+Honey, the upcoming launch of their new book, and their new TV series, New Spaces.

Carey works for Melly who is the designer half of the Tripp's couple. At first glance, everyone believes Carey is just Melly's assistant but the truth is that Carey is the one who has been designing for them the whole time.  From the first window decor on their first store to now. Carey has been working for them since she was sixteen. One of the reasons why she does not want to leave her job is because she has a medical problem requiring good insurance. 

James, an MIT graduate, gets hired as an engineer but he soon realizes that his real job is to become Rusty’s assistant. He’s frustrated with the position but he can't quit since he’s starting over after his last job was a disaster. 

Then, there is a big secret. No one knows that the perfect TV couple can’t stand each other in real life. They're nothing but a sham. Melly craving the media attention and Rusty following any skirt that crosses his path. And you guessed it, our hero and heroine are assigned to keep them in line and to avoid the truth coming to light before their TV show debuts or before they kill each other. 

This was a fun and fast read. I liked that the heroine had a disability and how the hero reacts to learning about it. There was good banter but not as much as I've seen in these authors' prior work.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Mind Prey by John Sandford

Title: Mind Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #7
Author: John Sandford

From the bestselling author of Night Prey and Winter Prey…an all-new Lucas Davenport thriller.

Run for it…

It was raining when psychiatrist Andi Manette left the parent-teacher conference with her two young daughters, and she was distracted. She barely noticed the red van parked beside her, barely noticed the van door slide open as they dashed up to the car. The last thing she did notice was the hand reaching out for her and the voice from out of the past — and then the three of them were gone.

Hours later, deputy chief Lucas Davenport stood in the parking lot, a blood-stained shoe in his hand, the ground stained pink around him, and knew that this would be one of the worst cases he'd ever been on. With an urgency born of dread, he presses the attack, while in an isolated farmhouse, Andi Manette does the same, summoning all her skills to battle an obsessed captor. She knows the man who has taken her and her daughters, knows there is a chink in his armor, if only she can find it. But for both her and Davenport, time is already running out.

John Sandford's novels have always been extraordinary for their harrowing twists, unforgettable characters, and crackling prose. But Mind Prey tops them all. It is the work of a true master.

Excellent thriller!

By far, this one is my favorite book in this series. It has non-stop action. The psycho was a very disturbed monster who gave Lucas a run for his money.

In Mind Prey, Deputy Chief Lucas Davenport is assigned to the abduction of Andi Mannette and her two daughters, Genevieve and Grace.

Andi Manette comes from money, she's also married to money. Her husband George Dunn is rich and powerful and so is her father, Tower Manette. Andi is a prominent psychiatrist who shares a practice with Dr. Nancy Wolfe. When Andi and her daughters are taken after a conference at the girls' school, the abduction becomes a high profile case and Lucas is called in to help solve it.

The perpetrator is all types of crazy. John Mail is a violent man who’s obsessed with Andi. Andi treated him when he was twelve and she sent him away. He never forgot her and became obsessed with her. When he gets the chance at having her, he doesn't think twice.

John is a gamer and he has played Lucas's games. He knows who Lucas is and he believes he's playing a game with Lucas and Lucas is losing since he has the women and Lucas can't find him. Taunting Lucas and calling him on a regular basis is making the game even better.

As a subplot, Lucas is thinking about proposing to Weather Karkinnen, his girlfriend. He carries the engagement ring with him all over the place. He plays with it without realizing it. He's still unsure if he wants to commit or not.

Mind Prey was a sick book. John was a rapist, a sadist, a monster. He was hateful and I wanted nothing more than for Lucas to find him and shoot him dead.

I was satisfied with the ending and the twists. Also, with the resolution of the subplot.

Cliffhanger: No

5/5 Fangs

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Queen's Bargain by Anne Bishop

Title: The Queen's Bargain
Series: The Black Jewels #10
Author: Anne Bishop
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: March 10, 2020 


Return to the dark, sensual, and powerful world of the Black Jewels in this long-awaited new story in the New York Times bestselling fantasy saga

After a youthful mistake, Lord Dillon’s reputation is in tatters, leaving him vulnerable to aristo girls looking for a bit of fun. To restore his reputation and honor, he needs a handfast—a one-year contract of marriage. He sets his sights on Jillian, a young Eyrien witch from Ebon Rih, who he believes has only a flimsy connection to the noble society that spurned him. Unfortunately for Dillon, he is unaware of Jillian’s true connections until he finds himself facing Lucivar Yaslana, the volatile Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih.

Meanwhile, Surreal SaDiablo’s marriage is crumbling. Daemon Sadi, the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, recognizes there is something wrong between him and Surreal, but he doesn’t realize that his attempt to suppress his own nature in order to spare his wife is causing his mind to splinter. To save Daemon, and the Realm of Kaeleer if he breaks, help must be sought from someone who no longer exists in any of the Realms—the only
Queen powerful enough to control Daemon Sadi. The Queen known as Witch.

As Jillian rides the winds of first love with Dillon, Daemon and Surreal struggle to survive the wounds of a marriage turned stormy—and Lucivar has to find a way to keep everyone in his family safe…even from each other.

It was a delight to be back in this world!!!!

The Queen's Bargain was great and it left the door wide open for many more things to come.

Jillian is not a child anymore but she's also not old enough. She starts to wonder about her womanhood and soon Lucivar realizes it. He’s not happy she’s growing up but he’s more worried about Marion not been able to recuperate her strength after the birthing of their last child. He’s worried he’s losing her. 

Daemon is having trouble containing his daughter, Jaenelle Saetien's new behavior. She feels special after receiving her birthstone. She misbehaves and loses the trust of Khary who attaches herself to Daemon instead. 

Daemon is also having problems with Surreal and he can’t seem to contain his “heat”. The marriage is on the rocks and both of them are keeping the other in the dark about their feelings.

So many things happened in this story. All in one cohesive web. There were a really great couple of surprises. So many good scenes between both brothers too. It was fun seeing them act together as a team.

Surreal was a surprise though. She’s usually ready for battle but more than half of the book, I was ready to scream at her and set her straight. Thankfully in, the last part of the book, she was more herself. 

I devoured the Queen's Bargain in one sitting and I was sad to see it ending.

With so many new developments, I'm anticipating we're going to get more books in The Black Jewels series. 

And now I hope you enjoy it too. Kiss Kiss 

Cliffhanger no 

4/5 fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Ace via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop

Title: Dreams Made Flesh
Series: The Black Jewels #5
Author: Anne Bishop
Publisher: Roc

Return to the realm of the Blood in Dreams Made Flesh—featuring four revelatory all-new adventures of Jaenelle and her kindred….

Jaenelle is the most powerful Witch ever known, centuries of hopes and dreams made flesh at last. She has forged ties with three of the realm’s mightiest Blood warriors: Saetan, the High Lord of Hell, who trains Jaenelle in magic and adopts her as his daughter; Lucivar, the winged Eyrien warlord who becomes her protector; and the near-immortal Daemon born to be Witch’s lover. Jaenelle has assumed her rightful place as Queen of the Darkness and restored order and peace to the realms…but at a terrible cost.

In Dreams Made Flesh, discover the origin of the mystical Jewels, and experience the forbidden passion between Lucivar and a simple hearth witch. Witness the clash between Saetan and a Priestess that may forever change reality. And learn whether the sacrifice of Jaenelle’s magic has destroyed any hope of happiness between her and Daemon.

There are four short stories in Dreams Made Flesh.

The first story, Weaver of Dreams features the Spider spinning her web and how and who gifted them with magic.

In the second one, The Prince of Ebon Rih, Lucivar is the main character, In this story, we learned how he met and fell in love with Marian, his wife.

The third one, Zuulaman is all about Saetan. Is narrated in the past. Saetan is still married to Hekatah and he has a son with her and another one on the way. In this one, you learn of the power Saetan has and how scheming and evil Heketah really is.

The fourth one, Kaeleer’s Heart, belongs to Daemon and Jaenelle. This short story happens after the events of the Queen of Darkness. A woman has decided that Daemon must be hers and she would do anything to get him. Mistakenly, she believes Daemon is staying with Jaenelle for duty and not love or attraction. Jaenelle is still recuperating and while weak, she is getting better day by day. She's just having trouble with any of the men around her to understanding that she's ready to

I like the last 3 stories. Weavers of Dreams is too short to offer an opinion.

I love romance, so Marion and Lucivar's love story was good with just the right amount of drama to enjoy it. I got to see another facet of Lucivar. One where he tries to be romantic but at the same time showing Marian how to defend herself instead of recurring to violence.

Zuulaman gave me a better understanding of the power of Saetan. It reinforced the love he had for his family and how when push comes to shove, he'll do whatever is necessary. 

Jaenelle and Daemon's story wouldn't be as great without Surreal. She steals most of the scenes.

Overall, I liked it.

Cliffhanger: No

3.75/ 5 Fangs

P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 1 by Lauren Blakely

Title: P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 1
Series: P.S. It's Always Been You #1
Author: Lauren Blakely
Publisher: Audible Original
Release Date: January 28, 2020

Narrated by Scott Eastwood and Andi Arndt, a sweeping, second chance romance that weaves mystery, passion, and humor as two present-day lovers search for a love story from the past....

Past loves should stay in the past.

After the way my first love took off for the ends of the earth, the last thing I want is to see him on billboards and bookstore bestseller shelves. Now my boss just handed me the project that could make my career. All I have to do is partner up with the man, the myth, the legend - adventurer Hunter Armstrong.

That's easier said than done, because when we reconnect, I learn Hunter has his own agenda on this project. And it's not to find a treasure in art and antiques. It's me. But what we discover shocks both of us, and we have no choice but to follow the clues....

P.S. It’s Always Been You: Part 1 is the first installment in the P.S. It's Always Been You serial novel. Presley and Hunter’s story continues in P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 2.

When Audible Original offered me a chance to listen to P.S. It's Always Been You narrated by Scott Eastwood and Andi Arndt, I had to say yes. I wanted to see how Scott Eastwood could bring the male character, Hunter Armstrong to life.

Scott has a smooth voice and I enjoyed listening to him. Andi does an amazing job of narrating the female character, Presley. She makes it upbeat and with great intonation depending on the circumstances. 

The novel is divided into 3 parts. It's a second chance romance which is one of my favorite types of books. On the other hand, Serials are not.

Presley and Hunter were once in love until Hunter got a job proposition he couldn't say no to. He leaves a broken-hearted Presley behind. 

A decade later, Hunter is famous all over the world. He has published books and is on TV constantly while Presley's life seems to be in a standstill, working a job that was not her first choice. 

When they are brought together on a work project, sparks start flying. 

Enjoyable romance with good narrators. It left me wanting to listen to the rest.

3/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Audible Original in exchange for an honest review.

Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen

Title: Please See Us
Author: Caitlin Mullen
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: March 3, 2020

In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

Oh gosh, this book was too DEPRESSING for me. All the women seem to be doom and gloom in Atlantic City. Nowhere to run or survive. All women had to become some type of prostitute to make a living. Very sad characters indeed. 

Please See Us narrates the story of a serial killer who is disposing of the bodies of his victims in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel during a summer in Atlantic City. 

The "Janes" want to be found. They are all together, all alone without a voice and no one is trying to find their bodies until Clara, a psychic teenager starts having visions about the women. She begins a friendship with Lily, a Casino spa receptionist. With her help, Clara believes she can put together the visions the women are sending her.

Clara's life has not been easy. Her mother left her with her aunt, Des. Des has no scruples. She has made Clara a thief and a con artist. Soon she begins manipulating Clara into agreeing to prostitute herself.

Lily is from Atlantic City but she was living in New York City. She has an eye for art and was dating Matthew, a sculptor until he betrays her in the worse kind of way affecting her work. Lily runs back home to lick her wounds and to create a new her after losing everything.

One more important character is Luis, a janitor who's deaf and blind. Luis has his own demons. He's constantly made fun of and attacked on a regular basis. The police can see it happening but they don't do anything to help him.

Like I said earlier, Please See Us was too depressing to enjoy. It also left me with too many unanswered questions. I know I'm in the minority since so many of my book friends love it. It was just not for me.

A word of advice for readers, this book has many scenes and forms of abuse towards women.

Cliffhanger: No

2/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.