Captured in Love – Zoe Ashwood

This book contains:

  • Explicit sex scenes
  • Attempted murder
  • Conspiracy to commit murder.

Nora, Levi and Raphael are a team made up of two witches and a vampire competing in a secret competition. Throughout the first book (Cursed in Love) they find a way to be together and work together.

Now, we add in the complication of Isak, an Icelandic sea dragon who’s competing in the same competition but also somehow features in Nora’s life.

Nora, Levi and Raphael travel to Iceland to find and complete the second task in the Balendial Trial in their quest to bring witches knowledge into a more accessible forum.

Only problem is, they need to somehow access some underground cavern and survive the tortures the witches have planned for them.

I’m sorry. I love reading Zoe’s books. I love that I’m in her advanced readers list.

BUT I’M NOT SURE HOW MUCH LONGER I CAN TAKE HUGE GAPS BETWEEN BOOKS WHILE SHE WRITES THEM!

You know that feeling you get when you read a book and go “OMG I need the next book now!”?

Now, imagine you read a book, get that feeling, and you know the authors only just finished writing this book and hasn’t even started the next book…

It’s hard.

So hard!

I love Zoe. I love her books.

But at the same time I really wish she’d write a full series then give it to us all at once because she writes such amazing stories I can’t wait to keep going but I have to. How awesome would it be if I could just smash out a whole series in a couple of days?

From a Position of Strength – Sean Heary

This book contains:

  • Attempted murder
  • Multiple murders
  • Moving a dead body and staging a murder
  • Espionage
  • Plans for mass murder
  • Treason.

Cathy and Rossi are back. If you’ve read my reviews of their earlier escapade’s you’d be familiar with them, but just in case you’re not.

Cathy is a CIA Analyst who finds herself out in the field when she wouldn’t normally be. She’s worked hard to get herself the life she’s got today and won’t apologise for how she got to where she is. She’s sassy, practical and does everything she can to get to the truth of anything she’s working on.

Rossi is a charming, flirty ex-Vatican Police commander who want’s nothing to do with Cathy. Especially when she turns up unexpectedly. Since leaving the Vatican, he’s spent his downtime learning all manner of skills one wouldn’t expect him to learn.

Cathy suddenly flies into Rome and drags Rossi into yet another hair brained espionage scheme expecting him to work with her. As they traipse from Rome, to Gaeta, and back to Rome, over and over as they slowly figure out what is actually going on.

Their previous cases feel like they’re perfectly simple in comparison to how complex this case turned out to be. With so many players, so many possibilities, it got a little crazy there for a moment.

I feel a little conflicted about this third instalment.

While I loved the mystery and trying to figure out what was going on, the ending left a little to be desired.

I was expecting to take about a week to read this, but I got so caught up trying to keep up with all the changes and every new bit of information, that I smashed through it in a couple of days. I mean, there was A LOT to keep up with!

But then, when I got to the epilogue, I wasn’t impressed. It was a great ending. I just think I needed another chapter to close out my last few questions before we got the epilogue. I don’t want to ruin the book by telling you what my questions were, but they were enough to leave me feeling a bit deflated.

The Imperial Orchid – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • References to past murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Attempted rape.

Frances is our first main character, she’s a modern woman pushing the boundaries heading towards what we know of today with equal rights for women and the ability to work for ourselves. She excels in her field of work, is financially independent and respected equally by her male counterparts.

Miles St. Clair is a Lord’s son, out of place at home after war and with no direction for his life to take. To help him, his father cuts him off financially and gives him a final choice to turn his life around and become a productive citizen of society.

Frances returns home from a working trip to Switzerland in time to have multiple run ins with Miles and to find out about a new trip being funded by Lord Holloway, the President of the Royal Horticultural Society. Of course she’s interested, but how would it work travelling in a team for an unknown project with a group of men?

Miles is the only part of the expedition team that knows from the start what they’re after, and he knows how dangerous it is. He expected to find trouble along the way, but where it came from was a surprise to them all.

One of my favourite things about Nicola’s books is that the women are forward thinking and expect more from the world even in a period of time when they were nothing more than daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. While most of them are driven to work by necessity, Frances is different in that she’s working because she wants to work.

While I love the working aspect, the action was amazing!

There were jungle searches, midnight rendezvous, secret liaisons, subterfuge and of course, murder subplots. Not to mention the general anxiety caused by a massive monsoon storm!

I wasn’t sure who to trust or believe, even right up until the final moments when it was all revealed. You got little suspicions along the way in such perfectly timed and presented ways that it was impossible to not get hooked in and start playing who-dun-it.

Elle’s A to Z of Love – Claire Huston

This book contains:

  • Serious illness and death of loved ones.

Elle is a young woman from a dying village in the Cotswalds. While she desperately wants to leave the village, every time she tries to leave, she’s drawn back by family ties, emergencies, and romance.

Elle is at university and meets a boy that’s intriguing for the first time since her first crush left for uni. Unfortunately, before she can explore that she’s drawn back home and when we come back a few years later she’s still there.

While the title suggested one kind of list of love to me, I was pleasantly surprised at what it actually represented and how. Even the little steps along the way were special and seemed to illuminate a little bit more about Elle and get her back on track.

For a nice, quick, sweet romance that spans years and includes amazing self-growth and following your dreams, this is an amazing read. Definitely an enjoyable book that I would happily re-read when I need some emotional pick-me-ups.

Two for Interference – Lasairiona E. McMaster

This book contains:

  • Some graphic sexual scenes.

Linc is your standard hockey jock living up to his fathers NHL All Stars expectations. Expect he’s kinda into art and doesn’t want to play hockey professionally and doesn’t know how to break it to his dad.

Cleo has a lot to answer to her parents to thanks to being a Latina girl and she’s not even sure that’s what she wants to do with her life. But what else can she do? Especially when she doesn’t really have any friends and definitely doesn’t have much experience with guys.

One bra needing to be returned to it’s rightful owner, two uni students who like the mystery of texting and voila! Romance ensues!

Of course we have our typical drama of trying to figure out who the other one is, the accidental real life meet up and or course figuring out how to be together given how different the jock and the nerd are.

Having read all of Lasairiona’s previous books, I’m really pleased to see we get to know both sides of the relationship in the one book. I love knowing both sides so of course read ALL of her previous books, but, after 9 novels and 5 short stories about the same characters I was so ready for a change.

It feels like all my little gripes about the other ones have been heard and taken into consideration, creating such a fun, sexy contemporary romance that has some references to being in the same world as her previous novels. So, we do get that touch of nostalgia.

It was so good in fact, I had to hold back from reading the start of book 2 and instead emailed Lasairiona to get an ETA on the next one. I mean, if that’s how this new series is starting, where’s it going to go?

Mara’s Awakening – Leo Flynn

Mara Keres is a former peacekeeper currently serving time in jail. From what I could tell, she’s not someone who likes seeing weaker people bullied or harassed, she respects authority who plays by the rules and doesn’t like anyone who betrays someone else.

Mara gets released from solitary confinement after six years. On her first day out of solitary, she gets into a fight and somehow ends up getting an unexpected offer. This same offer leads to some surprising action that sets us up for so much more in the coming stories.

The story itself is a good storyline. One I’d love to see it fully explored and where it will go. But as it is, in the short story format, there’s too much going on for just 60 odd pages.

The depth to the five characters that Leo has hinted at really does need longer to fully explore and develop. Leo has mentioned he’s working on a longer version, so I’m really hoping that’ll satisfy me because the frame for this space opera is AMAZING!

I’ll be keeping an eye out for a full version and hopefully I can bring you a review in the future of a fully fleshed out version that satisfies all my sci-fi and space opera needs.

A History of Madness – Rebecca Crunden

This book contains:

  • References to rape
  • Murder
  • Abortion
  • Kidnapping
  • Same sex sexual preferences
  • Religious cult including references to human sacrifice
  • References to scientific experimentation on humans.

We’re following the same characters as in A Touch of Death, but this time, Nate is the main character we’re following. And we’re introduced to a new character I’m hoping will feature more in the coming books.

While we left with Kitty knowing where Nate was, we pick up with Nate entering Redwater prison. Nate’s being pulled left and right, being tested on and finds himself in a workcamp rather than being executed. Nate being Nate finds a way to escape and works on reaching the same goal he had in A Touch of Death, to reach the Outlands.

I can’t believe I took so long to get back to this book!

I got to the end, and while I was able to guess the final surprise, I was still left wondering where the whole story would go in the coming books. Knowing that the series is finished, and I can smash through them when I want, I’m excited!

And yes, I have actually gone and bought the whole series because I can just tell that I’m going to love them and want them on my bookshelves.

There is such a great mix of action, romance, grief, societal change, religious conflict and cultural differences. Rebecca packs so much into a single story, and yet, it doesn’t feel preachy, it doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard, and it definitely doesn’t feel unbalanced or rushed.

It’s got such a great pace and winds the elements together in such a way that they feel natural and like they’re all building to a greater part of the story. To add value to the overall storyline across the whole series. While they don’t always make sense in the current book, I can feel that they’ll make sense in the long run and I’m so excited!

Cursed in Love – Zoe Ashwood

This book contains:

  • Graphic sex scenes
  • Sex between two men and a woman
  • Attempted murder.

Nora and Levi are the focus of our story, although Raphael joins in along the way and Isak is a little on the periphery of their adventure.

Nora and Levi are powerful witches that have left their coven for their own reasons. Nora’s mission is to create an online library of spells that any witch from any coven can access for free so that no one has to suffer or die because their coven doesn’t have centuries of knowledge at their disposal. Levi on the other hand is trying to protect Nora and absolve himself of the guilt he feels in relation to Nora’s mum’s death.

Raphael is an old flame of Nora’s back from college days. He also somehow seems to have the perfect knowledge to help them in their adventure.

Nora and Levi enter a witch competition to win access to their century’s old library for 24 hours. As part of it, they find themselves up against witches who’re willing to kill the other competitors. The competition requires them to travel to three locations around the world, find and win their tokens and return to the witches coven within 28 days.

Nora and Levi choose Egypt, Iceland and Greece, with Egypt being their first stop. On the way from Scotland to Egypt, they stop off in Paris and pick up Raphael to help guide them through Egypt.

Almost immediately after starting this book I started to get some serious Da Vinci Code and Matthew Reilly with a touch of XXXX vibes. The balance of the action, romance, sex, drama and life-threatening situations was about as perfect as I can imagine them getting.

I also love that this trilogy is in the same world as Sea Dragons of Amber Bay and Norse Sea Dragons series. The intricacies Zoe has created deserve to have more stories told!

I honestly can’t wait to read the next two books in this trilogy. I know Zoe is taking her time writing these to make sure she keeps the quality as high as I’ve come to expect. So while that means that I need to wait for the next book, I’m hoping it’ll mean it’s epic!

To find out more about Zoe and the books she’s written, head on over to her author page. And don’t forget to get a copy of Jinxed in Love by signing up to her mailing list!

Jinxed in Love – Zoe Ashwood

Nora Moss is the oldest daughter of the leader of her coven. Her powers are focused on influencing people. Pretty cool sounding power right?!

She’s also a typical college student with typical boy problems that stem the point of this short novella.

Nora is home from college on spring break. During the one week she’s home, she finds herself having some interesting thoughts from just one night.

In terms of Zoe’s normal writing, this wasn’t as great as normal.

BUT!

If you read it and then immediately start Cursed in Love, it’ll be way better, and I think it’ll actually enhance Cursed in Love. I think the fact that this is seriously setting up Cursed in Love does this one a disservice as a stand alone novella, but, as the little tease to whet your appetite, it’s awesome!

To find out more about Zoe and the books she’s written, head on over to her author page. Or, if you’re interested in getting Jinxed in Love, you’ll need to sign up to Zoe’s newsletter as it’s free for anyone who’s signed up to her mailing list.

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