It's time for our end of year reviews and the #PHSBookReviews team have been gobbling up every word of the books they requested!
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Awaken the Dragon (The Legion Book 1) by A.C. Arthur
He’s sworn to protect the very entity she was born to kill…
Next in line for the Drakon throne, Theo Masters is the most powerful half human, half dragon in the world. Royal power is the last thing he wants, however. He lives as a human and runs the Legion Security Company. But his new client—a mysterious, beautiful human from a small African village—and the unknown danger she faces may forever change the quiet life that he’s chosen.
Shola N’Gara exists to kill the dark spirit that is attempting to demolish her people. It’s her purpose and her destiny. The gorgeous protector who taunts her with his sexy voice and body is not—especially after he shifts into a magnificent black dragon with turquoise eyes.
A rise in demon activity and the brutal murders Theo’s agents have been reporting start to add up. Someone is making a play, and it’s big enough to change the course of the world as they know it. Now Shola must choose between her destiny and her heart. And Theo must decide if standing by the woman he’s fallen in love with is worth facing his father in a battle to the death.
Rated: 4.5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Gwessie
This is the first book I’ve read by A.C Arthur and I enjoyed it very much!
Our hero, Theo, and heroine, Shola, meet when she is promised to another and there are many battles to be won. But the dragon inside Theo knows she is his, right from the beginning. Even so, he fights this instinct with all his being, while Shola is fascinated by and most definitely attracted to him. Unfortunately, this leads to distraction at inopportune moments, like when they are attacked and a murder takes place. As the story progresses, we learn Theo and Shola's secrets, while they deal with how they feel and realize there are two foes they must defeat if they are to save Shola, and both of their homes.
I love that there are so many different supernatural beings in this book, from dragons and the demonic, to goddesses and vampires. I only had one small issue, and that was when almost two full chapters centered on what happened in the bedroom, taking up a chunk of the word count I personally would have preferred was used to tell us more about the next chapter in their lives.
Having said that, it was an epic read. Those who love paranormal romance will most definitely enjoy this one.
Open House (Uptown Book 2) by Ruby Lang
Love can take root where you least expect it.
Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.
Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.
Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic town house and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.
Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.
Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…
Rated: 4.5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Cailin
Open House is the second installment in Ruby Lang’s Uptown series. It follows real estate broker, Magda Ferrer, as she tries to sell her uncle’s townhouse in Strivers’ Row and is given the opportunity to sell what is supposed to be an empty lot. When she first visits the lot she finds a thriving community garden run by a group of older women and Ty Yang— the de facto spokesperson for the garden. Neither of them wants to see the lot turned into an apartment complex which will add to the gentrification of the neighborhood, and while Magda tries to encourage developers of low-income housing, the developers’ promises never seem that genuine. And Ty and the 136th Street Garden do their best to discourage any developers that come through to view the lot.
Like the first installment in this series (Playing House) this book hit some of my favorite tropes; enemies-to-lovers, characters who are working towards something outside of their relationship, heirloom tomatoes, and a very steamy phone sex scene. What else could you ask for?
This was a fun afternoon read, and I felt like I learned a lot about community gardening, and loved watching Magda and Ty’s relationship grow. The happy ending in this book was especially satisfying because it wasn’t just for the central couple, the whole community won, and got some good tomatoes out of the deal.
Blood and Blade (Goddess with a Blade Book6) by Lauren Dane
Rowan Summerwaite is ready to finish what she started in Blood and Blade, the next installment in the Goddess with a Blade series by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Dane.
It’s been only days since Rowan and her friends eliminated the immediate threat to magic users and Vampires, but they’re already back on the hunt. Rowan’s out for vengeance, and she’s never been more driven—or angry. But she’s up against a being stronger than any she’s ever fought. To bring it down she’ll need more than the powers the goddess Brigid gave her…
This time she’ll need her friends, too.
She knows her husband will always have her back. As an ancient Vampire and Scion of North America, Clive has more clout and dominance than almost anyone. Rowan’s small but trusted inner circle insist they’ll join her in the thick of the battle, even as she argues it’s too dangerous for them. She’s also got a new dog. Familiar. Whatever. Star is a magical being put in Rowan’s path to help and protect her.
The hunt for ancient evil takes Rowan and her team to London and back to Las Vegas, bringing with them an unexpected alliance. Fortified by their rage, grief and determination, Rowan and her friends will stop at nothing when they track their enemy to the high desert in a final, deadly showdown.
Rated: 4.5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Gwessie
This is my first book by best selling author Lauren Dane and definitely won’t be my last! Though this is book six in the series, I found I was able to catch on quickly to what was happening and you could easily read this as a stand alone.
Rowan’s no ordinary sassy feisty lady and is the perfect match for her vampire husband. It’s clear there’s more than love between them and that becomes more apparent as they and their friends work to defeat the enemy. I loved that though many communities are represented they were able to work together to overcome the problems they faced even when family was involved. I would love to have accompanied Rowan and Clive to her father’s Yule Ball though, as it sounded enchanting, almost like a Regency era Ball, and seeing that Regency is my first love I truly hope we get to read about it in the near future. I’m also very interested in Genevieve and Darius as they seem to have a lot more than what’s apparent going on, including her working with him and his trick. I also hope we hear more of what’s happening with the Fae.
I definitely recommend this book! It’s action packed with paranormal entities and our heroine, hero, and fur daughter are brilliantly written. It’s very easy to see why Is Dane is a best selling author.
Secrets of Lady Lucy (Agents of the Home Office Book 1) by Rachel Ann Smith
It’s never easy keeping secrets…
Only her desire to crush the Crown’s enemies could induce Lady Lucille Stanford to endure another Season. For years she has worked secretly for the Home Office, and she has come to London with one purpose: foil the attempted kidnapping of a highly valuable target, identity unknown. Inconveniently, Lord Harrington—Lucy’s brother and guardian—has other plans. He won’t be satisfied until she is at long last married.
He never forgets a face …
After years on the Continent, Blake Gower, Earl of Devonton, returns to England in need of a wife. He should not be surprised when his best friend Harrington’s sister recaptures his attention. But there’s more to the woman Lady Lucy has become than the delightful girl Blake remembers. When she takes an unexpected jaunt to the country during the height of the Season, Blake is determined to know why—and to discover all Lady Lucy’s secrets.
Unwilling to give up her patriotic mission for marriage, Lucy is conflicted when she meets the enigmatic Lord Devonton. She never expected to feel this way about a man again.
When the ransom demand comes due—will it be for Lady Lucy’s heart?
Secrets of Lady Lucy is the first book in the steamy Agents of the Home Office regency romance series. If you like unconventional heroines, hero’s with hidden talents and romance with a twist, then you’ll adore Rachel Ann Smith’s fast paced series opener.
Rated: 4 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Rachel
Secrets of Lady Lucy is the first book of Rachel Anne Smiths’ Agents of the Home Office series. Lucy’s twin brother, Matthew Harrington, spent months coercing Lucy to come to London with him and participate in some of the seasonal events, in hopes she will meet someone and eventually marry. Unbeknownst to Matthew, marrying is the last thing that Lucy wants, especially when she is a secret agent for the Home Office. Her skill is creating and breaking codes.
Blake Gower, Earl of Devonton, who is best friends with Matthew, met Lucy when she was twelve and has never forgotten her. He has just returned from the continent, where he has been during the war, working for the Foreign Office, making maps, and providing invaluable information. Now, he needs to get his estate in order and is looking for a wife. Since he has never been able to forget Lucy, she seems like the perfect candidate.
I really enjoyed this book, I think it's the start of a great series. The pacing of the story was just right. I like how both Lucy and Blake are intelligent and using their talents to help in the war effort. I also love the pairing. I thought they had good chemistry. One of my favorite scenes was when several coded messages are intercepted and given to Lucy to decode and she figures out Blake might be the target of a kidnapping plot and fully intends to keep him safe. It's nice to see the woman protective of the man.
I will be continuing with the rest of this series and highly recommend this book.
Miss Amelia's Mistletoe Marquess (Secrets of a Victorian Household, Book 2) by Jenni Fletcher
The virtuous Miss Fairclough
Now faces ruin!
When Amelia Fairclough had sought refuge in a blizzard, a brooding stranger had given her warmth and shelter. She’d even tried to soothe him of his demons in return. But as she scurried home at dawn she was spotted! Now he’s in the parlour, offering to do the honourable thing. Surely she’d be a fool to turn down the new Marquess of Falconmore!?
Rated: 4 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Cailin
Amelia “Millie” Fairclough is on holiday with her mother in Rayleigh from London where she works at the Fairclough Foundation, an institute for down-on-their-luck women, and focuses her attention on the needs of her family. Leaving an uncomfortable gathering, Amelia misses the last coach, and decides to walk to town. In a snowstorm. She makes it halfway there, before stopping at the only house on the way. Inside is Cassius Whitlock, avoiding his widowed cousin-in-law, and hoping for a peaceful night in the gatehouse. He is slow to answer Amelia’s knocks, and very surprised to see her almost frozen on his doorstep. She spends the night at the gatehouse, and is seen while she is leaving, a rumor subsequently spreading through the town, ruining her reputation. Cassius then does the noble thing and proposes a wedding by the end of the week, and while the two barely know one another, Millie agrees.
I read this book in an afternoon, I couldn’t step away. It was fun, the characters were intriguing, and I really enjoyed watching Amelia and Cassius get to know one another and fall in love. They begin to care for one another so deeply after such a short amount of time, which often bothers me, but felt believable in this novel since they shared their most closely held secrets on that first night.
I hadn’t read any of the other books in the series, Secrets of a Victorian Household, which follows the Fairclough family as they find their H.E.As. Each novel has a different author, but as soon as I finished Jenni Fletcher’s installment I requested the first from my local library.
This is a wonderful story for winter days when you just want to curl up and drink some cocoa.
One Christmas Eve (Cedar Street Book 2) by Shannon Stacey
They couldn’t be more different. Or more perfect for each other.
Zoe Randall is busy living her life as she damn well pleases. She’s back in her favorite town, her divorce in her rearview mirror, and living out her childhood dream of running a bookstore with her cousin. She has no interest in the uptight nerd who opened his boring-ass business next to her shop…until he complains about one of her sexy window displays.
Then it’s game on.
Preston Wheeler knows he takes life a little too seriously. But when the saucy bookseller next door starts pushing his buttons, he can feel that changing. Beautiful, vivacious Zoe challenges him in all the best ways, and soon he’s pushing her buttons right back: teasing and flirting all the way through the holiday season.
As Preston loosens up and Zoe is treated to the man behind the suit (particularly his forearms), she realizes she’s more interested than she cares to admit. And Preston comes to see the beauty—the absolute delight—in adding Zoe’s bright splashes of color to his once very black-and-white existence.
Rated: 4 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Megan
Preston Wheeler is an estate planner who believes he’s boring (his favorite color is grey after all). He has just moved to town and opened a new office and on his first day of work, encounters bookstore owner, Zoe Randall, the next door neighbor who is about to showcase some scandalous books. In contrast to Preston, Zoe is sassy and colorful. She recently divorced her husband because he had tried to suppress her personality and sexuality, so when Preston confronts her about her book display, his concerns simply spur her on to think of other racy displays. She is determined on principle that the uptight guy next door isn't going to censor her, but she also loves making him squirm.
Zoe’s sass and Preston’s tameness make them an unlikely, yet sweet and well-balanced couple, whose flirty banter holds your attention throughout the story. The sense of holiday spirit builds just as quickly as their relationship, making One Christmas Eve a cute, fun and fast paced novella which is guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit.
Renegade by Chantal Fernando
Good girl Isabella wouldn’t miss the birth of her sister’s baby for the world. So when her car breaks down and one of the bikers next door offers her a ride to Vegas, it’s too tempting to pass up. Besides, she can think of worse travel conditions than wrapping her arms around Renny, otherwise known as Renegade.
Tall, dark and handsome, the man is pure sex on a Harley.
Between wild parties and rumbling motorcycles, living next to the Knights of Fury MC has always left Isabella curious, but after a night in Vegas, she gets a firsthand taste. Drinks in the club surrounded by burly bikers soon turns into a series of daring decisions, which don’t seem so bad until she wakes up the next morning. Married. To Renny.
Could she be more of a cliché?
Nothing complicates an annulment like lingering temptation, especially when Isabella and Renny give in to their need, putting their marriage where their mouths are. But as Isabella learns what outlaw life is really like, she’ll have to decide if she’s in love with a biker—or in over her head.
Rated: 3 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Ange
A simple girl falls for a member of a motorcycle club. Isabella is trying to get to her sister, who is about to go into labor, when her car breaks down. She gets help from her neighbor, a member of the Knights Of Fury motorbike club. They fall in love. Or so Isabella believes. Then she realizes it was all premeditated. Her car didn't just break down, it was deliberately messed with by her so-called rescuer, making her question everything and doubt what she is feeling.
While I enjoyed this story, at times it was jumpy and left me feeling like there was more time needed to fully develop the romance. Having said that, I would read more by this author.
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