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Heat Level: Steamy

Hers From the Start (Multi-Author Anthology)

Hers From The Start*

Collection of Mostly Paranormal/Fantasy Starters of Reverse Harem Series

This is a delightful collection of reverse harem prequels or first in series books. I love anthologies like this that contain work by both authors I’m familiar with and ones who are new to me. Two of the books were by authors whom I know well, but I hadn’t read these particular works, so those were particularly fun finds.

Let me tell you a little about each book. Wolf Blessed follows the adventures of a fae princess who ran away and her wolf honor guard (who recently found her) as they struggle for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. A demi-goddess’s power finally comes to the surface in Winter Princess, but to understand it and get to her mother’s realm, she needs the help of her Guardians. A young woman feels cursed to feel the elements in a book called Cursed, but she finds fellow students with connections to the elements who help her appreciate this gift when she goes to college.

Riley, in the first of the Unseen series, still hasn’t moved beyond the tragedy of losing her spouse and child, in part because she has no answers about how it happened. Suddenly, her life is full of danger after someone claiming to be from the FBI shows up at her doorstep. Who can help her? Tricking the Beasts is a prequel involving a maid and royal princes in the Hybrid trilogy. Finally, the last book in the trilogy is the first book of the contemporary Redline series, which sets up the relationship between Kayla and her hockey-playing harem.

As you can tell, the book is mostly fantasy and paranormal RH. I found it fun to explore new series and some new authors. If you enjoy the RH concept, you might enjoy this starter pack as well.

Authors: Laura Greenwood, Skye McKinnon, Grace White, L. A. Boruff, Aleera Anaya Ceres, T. B. Mann

The Middle-Aged Virgin by Olivia Spring

The Middle-Aged Virgin*

Death of a Friend Triggers Heroine to Change Her Life Plan

Sophia appears to have it all. She has a thriving public relations business and has been in a long-term relationship with a decent guy. She’s busy all the time, jetting around the world for her clients. After the death of her good friend and mentor, Sophia realizes that she is not living as full of a life as she could. She is a workaholic, and there has been no spark (and no sex) between her and her boyfriend for a very long time. She decides to change this and writes herself a new life plan.

How will Sophia’s business fare when she decides to change things? Will she find passion (one of the items on her list)? Will she be able to fulfill her new plan?

This book follows the well-trodden path of certain chick lit novels. A woman, whether by choice or circumstance, decides to strike out on a new and potentially frightening course to see what more life has to offer her. The book had interesting secondary characters, and Sophia’s new life had all sorts of twists and turns that I enjoyed reading about. Her thoughts and reactions were a little off-kilter at times, which seemed to point up that, while she may be approaching 40, she isn’t as sophisticated or knowledgeable as she’d like to believe.

There were some odd tense and voice shifts in the section where she is writing her plan for her new life. The book is written in the past tense, and this part shifted into the present. In this section, too, it felt like the wall between reader and character was knocked down unintentionally by using *you* or making it seem as if Sophia was speaking directly to us, the readers. I found these two things a bit jarring in an otherwise enjoyable book.

The Hunt: The Complete Edition by Liz Meldon

The Hunt: The Complete Edition*

A Bad Angel and a Good Demon?

This box set has all four books of The Hunt series, Prey, Predator, Stalker, and Killer. In this series, Meldon has created a complex world of angels and demons, and Heaven and Hell. Severus is an incubus who is working as an escort near a hell-gate. His world shifts dramatically when college student, Moira, becomes a client. Unlike other patrons, he is unable to take in her life force energy, which he needs to survive, yet his inner demon desperately wants to connect physically with her. Moira walks out before the end of their session, frightened of the change she saw in his eyes. Unable to shake her from his mind after the encounter, he stalks her until she confronts him. He senses that she is not wholly human, but he doesn’t know what exactly she is until they talk about her past and her parentage. Then it is clear; she is an angel-human hybrid, something that is not supposed to exist. The warrior angels are on earth to protect the humans from the darkness, no matter what form it may come in, whether demons, vampires, or witches. But they aren’t supposed to mate with humans.

Though her angel father may want to destroy his mistake, Moira wants to find out more about him. She and Severus form a team of sorts. Though he fights becoming more involved with her life, he feels connected to her and more alive than he’s ever been. He also feels a strong need to protect her. After the first book, his need to protect only grows and becomes more complex as they face dangers in multiple realms.

What will happen with Moira and her father? From what evils–and in what realms–must Severus protect her? Will Moira become strong in the presence of dangers she never knew existed–or will her naivety get her into trouble? Will Severus and Moira fall for each other, or is an incubus only capable of lust?

I found this a surprisingly compelling read. The author has created a complex world about which she only gives us the relevant information as we need it. Reading about Severus’s existence before Moira scratches the surface of what it is like to live as an incubus in this story’s world. When Moira and Severus team up, we learn more about the world as Moira does. More and more gets revealed with each book.

The writing style is smooth, making the book very easy to get into. Severus was a fascinating character right from the start, and he becomes more interesting as he gets more and more involved with Moira. Moira is harder to get to know. When she relates the changes she has been going through, the reader realizes there is more to her than meets the eye; but as she doesn’t know herself early on, neither can we yet fully understand her. She sometimes did things in the later books that weren’t in her best interest, and I didn’t feel she came into her own until the journey to hell. By that point, though, both characters had such strength and purpose that the books were page-turners.

The Dragon’s Air Witch by Lisa Daniels

The Dragon's Air Witch*

Can They Find a Cure for the Creeping Rot?

The search continues to put an end to the Creeping Rot once and for all. To this end, Meridas and Janus have outfitted a ship to go to an allegedly demonic and cursed planet called Zamorka. Janus has seen the death of both his birth parents and his adoptive parents from this terrible, magical-being-killing disease. He joins forces with Meridas, and they take the life witch the two air witches, who can control the air stream for the ship while they travel on this expedition. The man-dragons believe a cure exists, but it is only available by going to Zamorka.

Will the crew even get to Zamorka? Is Zamorka as dangerous as legend says? Will they find the cure they seek? What about the attraction between wealthy Janus and the air witch Evelyn? Will the expedition have any impact upon the fate of the Six Isles?

The author has created a fascinating and complex world with this series about the Six Isles. The Isles are distinct, but the magic beings on board each cannot escape the Creeping Rot when it cyclically flares and runs rampant. I’ve read two books in the series now, and each book adds a layer to help better understand the history, present, and the future these worlds.

If you enjoy complex paranormal science fiction with a hint of romance and a world-saving quest, you might enjoy this book.

Truth and Solace by Jana Richards

Truth and Solace*

Compelling Third Installment of Excellent Series

After Lies and Secrets (books 1 and 2), we finally have Truth in the Love at Solace Lake series. Maggie, the youngest of the Lindquist daughters, is the heroine of this second-chance-at-romance story. When she was a young teenager, she fell in love was a young man named Luke who was a few years older than she was. After dumping her in a most dramatic and painful fashion, he went to California for schooling and ultimately got a job there. He comes back to the Minnewasta area because his mother is terminally ill with lung cancer. He works in hotel and restaurant management and has agreed to do that temporarily at the lodge so he can be with his mother in Minnesota. Because of their respective jobs in the lodge, Luke and Maggie often work together, which is not always easy for Maggie. They have so much shared history and still-existent feelings for each other, but there are also hurt and abandonment issues.

Will Maggie be able to look beyond the past hurts? Can Maggie and Luke find love again as adults? How will Luke deal with his mother’s illness? What truths will be revealed?

Yet again, the author has written a fantastic book. The past backstory and the current plotlines weave together and mirror each other in a complex way that was beautifully done.

I was wondering how she was going to handle the first chapter, which in the other two books of the series showed the sisters’ parents’ deaths from that book’s heroine’s perspective. But I knew that Maggie was just a baby when her parents died. In this book instead, Maggie gets into a fight with her grandmother about Luke just before her grandmother dies, causing Maggie to feel guilty that she may have caused her heart attack.

In this book, you will finally learn the truth about the death of the girls’ parents as well as the truth about Maggie’s parentage, which was hinted at in the prior book. Another truth revealed in the book is the reason why Luke left back when they were younger.

Yet again, this author is not afraid to address difficult and taboo topics, which are not common in contemporary romance. In this book, she looks at sexual harassment, parental abandonment, cancer, and marital infidelity as well as continuing to address alcoholism. Even though there are many hard topics she explores, she does so with sensitivity and compassion.

If you enjoyed either of the first two books of the series, you will find answers to the questions raised in them, told in the compelling way you have come to expect from this author. If you haven’t read the other books and enjoyed heartfelt contemporary romance, I suggest you start with Book 1 and make it to this one because the journey of the characters in these novels is amazing to watch unfold.

The Minotaur’s Kiss by Erin St. Charles

Beneath the Earth

Shifter Sci-Fi Romantic Suspense … Category Buster!

In this complex world, alien gods use human concubines to procreate as the god’s genetic lines have been tainted by inbreeding. This has also given rise to a vigorous sex trade. The world is also inhabited by shifters, who may not understand their lineage until puberty. Because of the danger inherent in the sex trade, an army of social workers seeks to protect the industry’s workers. Diana is one of them. At an office event, she hooks up with a minotaur shifter she doesn’t know for a one-night stand. Unfortunately for her, he soon turns out to be her evaluating supervisor during a case that could make her career, smoothing the handover of a concubine. During what should be a routine inspection at one of the brothels, they find a sex worker whose missing. Soon, both she and Mac, the minotaur, are drawn into dangerous unforeseen circumstances, and Diana finds herself relying on him for protection.

Max is having a hard time dealing with Diana. He is usually a one-night-stand kind of guy, but their interactions have him rethinking his stance and even pondering a longer-term relationship. Thrown together on the job, he has a hard time keeping it professional. He’s never had such a sustained attraction to a female, and he’s not quite sure what to do about it.

By the way, this is a very steamy read. Within the first few chapters, we’re giving details about their one-night stand. The author has done a very good job at setting up the complexities of this world of gods, shifters, latents, other magical characters, and humans. She did a good job of creating tension-filled action scenes. Diana is a black woman, and I found it interesting that the author had her question racism as it applied to minotaurs, which was a sneaky way to get readers to think about the harshness of racism in our own world.

If you enjoy steamy stories about gods and shifters in a fast-paced read, this book might be for you.

Scarred by Meghyn King

Scarred*

Heroine Confronts Her Past

Scarlett, who left her hometown as soon as she could, comes back for her twin sister’s wedding. Scarlett hasn’t been back because she was bullied severely in high school for her weight and her crush on one of the football stars. Her treatment back then destroyed her, and she acts out sexually because of it. She has no desire for a permanent relationship, and she has a string of one-night stands. She decides that a good way to get back at least one person in her hometown is to have a one-night stand with one of the perpetrators, Ethan, the one she had a crush on, to show him what he missed. Of course, it isn’t that simple. She has rules for her one-night stands, and she ends up breaking them with him.

What motivates Scarlett to act differently than she usually does? What exactly is the dynamic between her and Ethan? Will Scarlett finally be able to sort out her thoughts and feelings about what she suffered when she was younger?

This book is very unusual for contemporary romance in that it looks at not just one but two difficult topics, bullying and domestic abuse. It’s easy to see how the teenage bullying changed Scarlett, altering not only her perceptions of herself but how she reacted to those around her (not just men). In an ironic twist, one of Scarlett’s main tormentors became the victim of domestic abuse. The author did a good job of showing how and why these two women were at odds but were able to come around to a better understanding in part based on the pain of their pasts.

Note: This book has highly graphic descriptions of sexual acts with many sexual scenes described in slang terms for body parts and actions. There is a lot of profanity both in the sexual scenes and outside them.

The Awakened Prince by Elise Marion

The Awakened Prince*

Returned Prince Fights Battles on Many Fronts

Prince Serge, the second son and prince of his land, awakens after a one-year coma to find that his younger brother has become king after the battle that placed Serge in a coma killed their elder brother, Lionus. Damien, the new king, feel guilty about taking what he sees as his brother’s position and offers Serge a new option: Marry their dead brother’s wife, Isabelle, and rule with her in her land of Barony. Serge has loved Isabelle for a long time but feels guilt about his feelings and doesn’t want to wed her, knowing that she had loved and still loves his brother.

Because of an old woman’s predictions about dire consequences and her own dreams, Isabelle after some waffling decides to marry Serge even though her heart belongs to Lionus. For a very brief time, the two are happy until Serge confesses his love for her. Isabelle does not react well to this and confesses her emotional quandary to her lady’s maid, which Serge accidentally overhears. Relations between them become strained for a long while they continue to have sexual chemistry.

But much more is going on in this book besides their personal problems. War threatens. When Serge goes off, Isabelle decides to join and train with a band of female warriors.

Will Serge and Isabelle resolve their differences? Can she–and he–move past feelings of guilt about their relationship? Will this queen of Barony fight alongside her warriors in the looming battle?

This was a page-turning read. The only part I didn’t like was that Serge and Isabelle were at odds for so long.

There were several things I loved about this book. I enjoyed the first part when Serge comes back from his coma. The author did a good job showing his disorientation and his struggles. He is haunted by the images of watching his brother be killed in battle as well as the mistreatment he had at the hands of the enemies. He struggles physically and mentally with his battle wounds, as well as mentally with the guilt for what he feels for Isabelle. Once they marry, he is blissful but just a little guilty until it all crashes around him when he overhears her. You could sense his despair at that moment. The author does an excellent job in the sections about the women warriors. It is so unusual to have female warriors in a romance in general, but I’ve rarely seen a whole regiment of them. It was lovely to see this band of strong women work together and fight with their queen beside them.

If you enjoy fantasy romance with strong female characters, you might enjoy this book.

Seducing the Scientist by Riley Cole

Seducing the Scientist*

Edison Meets His Match in Female Scientist

If you’re familiar with the first book of series about the Restitution League, you know about the cousins who are the core of it. This is Edison’s story, and has he ever met his match! The league investigates a case brought to them by a man who is clearly lying about it and find themselves embroiled in a need to protect a female scientist on the brink of sharing her world-changing discovery. Will the League be able to keep her safe? Will her invention fall into the wrong hands? Will others take credit for what she has done?

Just like the first book, I found this story to be delightfully well-written. In the parts narrated by Edison, he comes across as cocky, slightly jaded, and on the prowl for his next adventure or female. His commentary is often quite amusing, like when he said the heroine had “the delicacy of a stevedore,” which made me laugh out loud. Other sections are narrated by Philomena and Ada; the former is Edison’s sister who was the heroine of Book 1, and the latter is this book’s heroine. I love Ada. She’s a strong, smart woman who has taken care of herself and her grandmother while pursuing her interest in science. Ada is a smart cookie but vulnerable, too, especially in her dealings with men about whom she might have a romantic interest as well as those who would belittle her mind and discoveries.

Those who enjoyed Philomena’s and Spencer’s story in Book 1 will be happy to hear that we continue to see their relationship grow and flourish in this book.

This delightful series about the Restitution League is for readers who appreciate strong women, good-hearted rogues, witty internal monologue and external dialogue, and stories where good–even if in the guise of reformed criminals–triumphs over evil. Personally, I can’t wait for the next installment!

For whatever reason, this book is listed as Saving the Scientist on Goodreads.

Secrets and Solace by Jana Richards

Secrets and Solace*

Taboo Topic Explored in Second Installment of Love at Lake Solace Series

The second book of the Love at Solace Lake series features Harper’s sister Scarlet and Ethan’s brother, Cam. If you enjoyed the love story between Harper and Ethan, you get to see their wedding from Scarlet’s perspective before they leave on their honeymoon to Paris. Scarlet and Cam must work together in several circumstances, and they have an almost immediate mutual dislike even though they are also somewhat drawn to each other. Scarlet doesn’t appreciate that Cam seems to think Harper is just after Ethan for his money. Ethan doesn’t like this either, and after a particularly rude statement during the wedding brunch, Ethan tells Cam that he will not put up with this treatment of his wife. Cam has a young daughter, Tessa, born out of wedlock and is an alcoholic who has been dry for three years.

Alcoholism is not a typical backdrop or source of conflict in a romance, but the author has done a good job showing how this has impacted Cam in the past and affects him in the present, decreasing his feelings of self-worth, which causes problems in his relationships with women. He’s a good father to Tessa despite his alcohol issues and problems with women.

Both Cam and Scarlet have secrets, Scarlet’s having to do with her parents’ death. She witnessed an argument that occurred between them just before their accident, and she believes she is responsible for what happened. I love how these first two stories in the series start with each girl’s memory of the day their parents died; we are privy to the same sentinel moment from different perspectives.

What will happen as Scarlet, who’s working on publicity for the lodge, works with Cam as he is renovating the lodge? Will they continue to butt heads? Will they come to a greater understanding of each other? And will that lead to more? Will secrets cause more distance between them?

I love the complex world the author has woven for this series. So far, each sister is totally unique in her fears, goals, and motivations. Their men, too, are unique–a lottery millionaire and an alcoholic contractor. Yet, overarching these stories is the underpinning mystery about the girls’ parents’ relationship and deaths as well as the modern story of renovating the lodge that pulls all these people together in a satisfying way.

If you enjoy the first book of the series, which I thought was a well-written book, you will enjoy this love story of the siblings of the first couple. If you like steamy romance that isn’t afraid to embrace difficult topic, you might enjoy this book.

I received a free copy of this book, but this did not affect my review.

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Disclosure

The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I’ve purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

All Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I get a tiny percentage if you decide to buy one of the books.

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