Book Review – Seeker of Secrets by Ashley McLeo

Once again, Ashley McLeo delivers a strong female main character. Meredith is tenacious, a bit too stubborn for her own good, and trying to embrace the fact that she is magical. There is a whole secret society of people waiting to welcome her like family and help her hone her gift. And her gift is important because it is so rare.

There is a VERY slow burn romance (possible fated mates trope?) between Meredith and the vampire Tobias. The leader of the secret society, Luca, is battling a mystery illness that is much worse than any of them realize. And what huge secret is Hans hiding? Whatever it is, their search for elixir ingredients to help cure Luca will force Hans to reveal pieces of himself that he would rather keep hidden.

I’ve been an advanced reader for several of McLeo’s books and series and one of the things I most appreciate about her work is how fresh it always stays. Yes, the stories are always fantasy or supernatural in nature. But I never feel like I’m getting a recycled plot. McLeo digs deep to bring original stories, new complications, and a slightly different approach to magic in each of her series and I am so excited to see how this one plays out!

Book Review – Reclaimed Dreams by Eva Moore

This is the type of romance I’ve been WAITING for!

I love a good steamy romance and I can get behind most of the popular tropes – MC romances, mafia romances, paranormal, enemies to lovers, friends to lovers – but I’m also a 53-year-old woman who has been married for 33 years and I rarely ever see people like me in romance books! Despite what cynics might think, romance doesn’t HAVE to die when people have been together for years. Neither does the sexy fun!

Jo and Dom have been married for many years and they have stuck together through miscarriage, lean financial times, running their own business, four kiddos, and the death of the eldest during his time in the military. That last event nearly broke them. The ways each of them chose to cope were not necessarily healthy and definitely did not strengthen their relationship. Jo even considers leaving. But in the end, she still loves Dom and wants to grow old with him. But they’ve both been hurt by each other so how do they fix their relationship?

This is a story about the ways that a marriage can grow and change, shift and strain, but still be filled with love and passion IF the partners are willing to keep trying, to keep improving their communication skills, and keep choosing each other. The format was unique – Eva Moore has her readers bouncing around at different points in the couple’s life so one segment of the story may have taken place just a year ago while the next segment may have happened over three decades ago. And just in case you get a bit confused by the “non-linear” approach, there is a timeline in the back of the book that puts everything in chronological order.

What a refreshing change to see myself in the female main character of a book. And not as I once was or in an “I could see myself saying that” kind of way. Jo and Dom have been married 42 years by the time the book ends. They’ve raised kiddos, watched their adult children find partners, welcomed some grandbabies, and found their way back to each other. As a 53-year-old adult with 3 decades of marriage, 4 adult kiddos, and some grandkids, it’s nice to see relationships more like mine portrayed as passionate, loving, and even a little spicy! When Eva Moore promises a second-chance romance, she delivers BIG TIME.

Book Review – Gingersnap (Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club Book 4) by Victoria Jayne

This book picks up right where Dash (Book 3) left off. Dash and Gingersnap are the perfect play partners for one another in the kink lifestyle. But can she handle having a man in her life who is a part of a motorcycle club that is involved in criminal activity? Is Dash willing to trust Gingersnap to make her own decisions or will he try and make life choices for her?

My absolute favorite thing about the story of Dash and Gingersnap is the fact that Victoria Jayne is careful to include the necessary discussions about hard limits, safe words, consent, and the like. While it’s not the most exciting part of the plot, it’s probably the most important for her readers in case there are those unfamiliar with the kink lifestyle.

I’m fully invested in the lives of the men in the Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club series and can’t wait to see what’s next!

Book Review – Dash (Odin’s Fury Motorcycle Club Book 3) by Victoria Jayne

We’ve already met Dash in the first two books in this series. This book gives us a deeper look into Dash’s life; specifically his interest and experience in the kink lifestyle. But there’s a problem – he’s temporarily in Ohio to help get the newly patched over branch of the club on its feet and he doesn’t know anyone in the lifestyle near where he is currently living.

Luckily the internet provides some connections and before too long, he meets a woman who goes by the name Gingersnap. She’s been out of the lifestyle for a few years due to a really lousy relationship. At the encouragement of a friend, she’s testing the waters again to see if she can find a safe, trustworthy play partner again. After meeting a couple of public events, Dash and Gingersnap exchange numbers and agree that they’d like to set up a private “play session.”

What neither of them counted on was developing feelings for one another. Can a man from a motorcycle club with criminal ties find happiness with a home health nurse? What happens when the Ohio branch of the club is running smoothly and Dash is given the okay to leave? And with threats from outside sources force Dash to push Gingersnap away to keep her safe?

Book Review – Kissing in the Snow by Laura John

Such a sweet “instalove” story!

Dane prefers the quiet life in his cabin in the woods and running his mechanic shop in the small town of Chestnut. His social anxiety makes it difficult to attend social events. Add to that the fact that he’s a gay man living in a small town . . . suffice it to say he hasn’t met a special someone just yet.

Ryan is a doctor in the big city who is feeling the stress of a very demanding boss. When his car ends up in the ditch near Dane’s home in the middle of a blizzard, the two men end up spending a significant amount of time together while they wait for the storm to end and for Ryan’s car to be drivable. But all that alone time in close proximity is just enough for the two men to feel drawn to one another.

Can a big city doctor be happy living on the outskirts of a small town with a quiet mechanic? Does Dane even want the relationship to last once the storm is over?

I received an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – Queen of Madness by Lee Jacquot

A steamy mafia romance inspired by characters from Alice in Wonderland?! Yes, please!

If you like steamy romances this book is for you. If you like your romances on the dark side, this book is for you. If you love stories by authors like W Winters and Sophie Lark, get your hands on this book!

Z has to do whatever he can to get his mother and sister out of the horrific living situation their in. But the only opportunity that presents itself comes with complications. The biggest complication is the fact that his new boss, Onyx, is irresistible. She’s the powerful head of a mafia family with a dark reputation. And Z is supposed to spy on her for the other crime family in town. But she’s not exactly who he thought she was. As Z learns the whole story and sees who Onyx really is he can’t help but be drawn to her and the attraction is most DEFINITELY mutual. But can they get past the secrets and the dangerous lifestyle? Or will the cost be too high?

This is the third book I’ve read by Lee Jacquot and I am learning that I can ALWAYS count on her to have strong female characters, fiercely protective lovers, and cliffhangers that you will simultaneously hate – because they’re cliffhangers, Duh! – and love because they are so artfully crafted. Jacquot is quickly becoming a “must buy” author for me.

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Music and Me – Church (Take Me Back)

This one is so powerful for me. I have such precious memories of my church family from the small country congregation where I spent my high school years. And now I find myself once again in a church family that feels like home.

There was a time that I swore I would never go back
I was blind to the truth, didn’t know what I had
I was running, I was searching
But every place I turned for healing
Left me more broken than the last
Take me back
To the place that feels like home
To the people I can depend on
To the faith that’s in my bones
Take me back
To a preacher and a verse
Where they’ve seen me at my worst
To the love I had at first
Oh, I want to go to church

Words and Music – Baby Grand

This song was recorded by Billy Joel (one of my favorite recording artists ever) and the amazing Ray Charles.  Yes, two of the greatest sing AND play on this song.  It’s a love song, really.  Yes.  A love song to an instrument.  And I absolutely relate.

Late at night
When it’s dark and cold
I reach out
For someone to hold
When I’m blue
When I’m lonely
She comes through
She’s the only one who can
My baby grand
Is all I need