Spies Never Lose (Banana Girls: Book 3) by M. Taylor Christensen

Publisher: Zoom Press

Date of publication: November 10th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Spy

Series: Banana Girls

Spies Never Quit—Book 1 (review here)

Spies Never Swoon—Book 2 (review here)

Spies Never Lose—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hannah’s new husband is going to drive her absolutely crazy.

Never having been married before, Hannah McCarthy doesn’t know if what she’s feeling is normal. Even though she has to pretend to be madly in love with her fake husband, she really just wants to wring his neck. But her annoyance and frustration would all be worth it if it means putting a stop to the illegal international adoptions they’ve discovered.

Can Hannah and her fellow agent set aside their differences and work together to track down the mastermind of the adoption operation? And, perhaps more importantly, is Hannah willing to let her incredibly condescending yet aggravatingly adorable pretend-husband actually get his way?

If you enjoy kick-butt spy-girls and enemies-to-lovers, you’ll love Spies Never Lose. This stand-alone novel is the third book in the Banana Girls series. As always, the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.


First Line:

A loud bang shattered the stillness of the scrubby Georgia woods.

Spies Never Lose by M. Taylor Christensen

I was super excited when I got the invite to review Spies Never Lose. I had read the previous two books and enjoyed them. So, I jumped on the invite. I am glad that I did because this book was fantastic.

Spies Never Lose has a fast-paced and exciting plotline. Hannah has been assigned to work with one of the most infuriating men she has ever met, Special Agent Jason Briggs from Homeland Security. Their job is to infiltrate an international adoption agency suspected of kidnapping children from their families in China and adopting them into families in the United States. Hannah and Jason are posing as social media influencers looking to adopt. The closer they get to exposing the agency, the more dangerous it gets. The only thing is Hannah can’t stand Jason, and it isn’t easy for her to pretend to like him. Can Hannah and Jason put aside their differences and work together? Or will they fail their mission?

Spies Never Lose is the third book in the Banana Girls series. While the readers can read it as a standalone, I recommend reading the first two books before reading this one. That way, you can get the background on why the Banana Girls were formed, who the other team members are, and the relationships the previous two girls found themselves in.

Spies Never Lose is a fast-paced book that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding areas.

I like characters that grab me from the get-go. I get a better connection with them if they do that. Thankfully, both Hannah and Jason were able to do that.

  • Hannah—-I was thrilled that Hannah finally got her book. My opinion of her has been rocky because of how she acted in the first two books. She was a jerk, and I was praying that she wasn’t written that way in this one. Well, she wasn’t. All those jerky traits were toned down and morphed into qualities that complimented her. I loved it. I also liked how single-minded she was in her hate of Jason. I knew it would turn to love at some point, and when it did, I loved how Hannah showed it.
  • Jason—I did not like him at first. He came across as a cocky, misogynistic man who told Hannah she was privileged to work with him. But, as the book went on, the author revealed a man who cared deeply about his case and Hannah. I also loved his explanation about why he came off the way he did. By the end of the book, I was 100% team, Jason.

The former characters from the previous books did make appearances in this book. The author, though, kept them in the background. Other notable characters (the two influencer families and the adoption coordinator) added extra depth and character to the book.

Spies Never Lose has a hybrid of genres. It is a combination of young adult, suspense, mystery, thriller, and a little bit of romance. As with his other books, the author was able to meld all of those genres together in a way that caught and kept my attention.

There was one major storyline in Spies Never Lose. It was Hannah and Jason infiltrating and taking down the international adoption ring. It was slow-moving at first (with all the talk of influencers and an adoption camp), but the pace did pick up. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was behind the buying of the children.

There were secondary storylines, and they complemented the main one very well. I loved the storyline with the influencer families that Jason and Hannah had to make friends with. I was dying laughing. Mainly because the representation shown was 100% what I imagined those people would be like.

The end of Spies Never Lose was standard. I was surprised by who was behind the adoptions. I also liked the HEA for Jason and Hannah.

Three Reasons You Should Read Spies Never Lose:

  • Great storyline
  • Readers can read it as a standalone
  • Great melding of genres

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Read Spies Never Lose:

  • Jason at the beginning of the book. I wanted to strangle him.
  • The influencers. As much as they amused me, I didn’t like them.
  • The kids are being stolen from their families and adopted.

I would recommend Spies Never Lose to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and no sex (some kissing scenes).

Locklands (The Founders Trilogy: Book 3) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Del Ray

Date of publication: June 28th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Adult, LGBTQIA+, Science Fiction, High Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Queer, Magic

Series: The Founders Trilogy

Foundryside—Book 1 (review here)

Shorefall—Book 2 (review here)

Locklands—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | Indigo | Kobo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.


First Line:

Are you ready? whispered a voice. Berenice opened her eyes.

Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett

When I first tried to read Locklands, I had difficulty getting through it. Not from a lack of wanting to read it, I wanted to see where Berenice, Sanica, and the rest of the gang ended up after the events of Shorefall. I ended up DNF’ing at around 30% because I couldn’t wrap my head around some of the events that had happened or were happening in Locklands. I picked it back up because it was one of three books I had DNF’d this year, and I didn’t want to end the year on that note. While I struggled to read through the first 30% of the book, the book smoothed out and became enjoyable.

Locklands is book 3 in The Founders Trilogy. This book is not standalone; you must read the first two books before picking this up. The author goes into what happened in the first books but not in depth. I had a hard time following this book at first.

Locklands takes place around eight years after the events of Shorefall. A lot has happened in those eight years, but the most notable is that people used scriving to connect. Born out of the scriving are conscious entities called The Cadences. They are helping Berenice and her people fight a war against Tevanne. But they are slowly losing the war. Berenice realizes that the one person (or being, if you want to be technical) who could help them is being held captive and tortured by Tevanne. He is Crasedes Magnus, the hierophant and son of Clef. But can or will he help? Or will everything that they are fighting for be in vain?

I wasn’t a big fan of Berenice when the book first started. She came across as dull. As the book continued, I understood that she was anything but that. She was brave and willing to do anything to ensure her people were safe and get the job done. By the end of the book, I loved her. Her sacrifices did help her people in the future.

Clef had a considerable part in this book. A good chunk of the last part of the book is based on his human memories. He was still the sarcastic, wise-ass key he always was, but it was tempered by what he remembered. My heart broke for him during specific memories, but I also got very angry with him. It was his actions that made Crasedes who he was.

Crasedes didn’t show up until after Berenice rescued him. He was different from the egotistical man that the author featured in Shorefall. What he experienced in Tevanne changed him. It changed him so much that he was willing to work with Clef and Berenice to nullify Tevanne. Of course, he did have some tricks up his sleeve, but for the most part, he was pretty straightforward with what he wanted and was going to do.

Surprisingly, Sanica didn’t have a massive part in most of the book. With her physical changes, I could understand why she wasn’t out fighting on the front lines. But, towards the end, it was revealed what Sanica had to do and man, did she deliver!!

I loved the Cadences. Greeter and Design were my favorites. I loved reading about their interactions with Berenice and how they talked to her. They were also very instrumental in what happened at the end of the book.

The storyline with Clef and Crasedes (and ultimately Tevanne) broke my heart. As a parent, I could understand why Clef chose to do what he did. But as a person, I was horrified by it. Also, I will never be able to look at butterflies the same way. Again, the author revealed another sad thing.

The storyline with the war, Tevanne, Crasedes, the Cadences, Sanica, and Berenice, was well written. The author did a fantastic job of not only building up to the grand finale but explaining why it went the way it did.

The fantasy angle was one of the best ones I have ever read. The author perfectly outlined the use of scriving for pathing, the creations of the Cadences, and even Tevanne’s usage of magic/scriving. It sometimes frightened me, but it kept my attention wholly on the book.

There was a slight romance angle in Locklands. The relationship between Sanica and Berenice was relationship goals (seriously). They were utterly in love with each other, but they also understood that there was something bigger than themselves going on. So, yes, my heart broke when certain events happened.

The end of Lockalnds was interesting. I say interesting because I didn’t expect the book to end as it did. It surprised me.

I would recommend Locklands to anyone over 21. There is moderate to graphic violence, mild sexual situations, and language.


If you enjoyed reading Locklands, you will enjoy reading these books:

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke (Owl Manor: Book 3) by Zita Harrison

Publisher: Zealous Arts Publishing

Date of publication: August 10th, 2022

Genre: Gothic, Horror

Series: Owl Manor Trilogy

Owl Manor: The Dawning—Book 1 (review here)

Owl Manor: Abigail—Book 2 (review here)

Owl Manor: The Final Stroke—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

For a quarter of a century, the horrors at Owl Manor have been buried under dust and decay, forgotten and unheard.

Then Dolores hears the whispers.

Dolores, a young artist, feels the pain all around her. It is the subject of her paintings. Strangely, once the pain is on her canvas, it diminishes.

A fated encounter takes her and her two best friends to Owl Manor in the Rocky Mountains. Ignoring the rumors of a gruesome past and ghosts, they take up residence. What’s the worst that could happen?

But it is the past that has summoned Dolores.

The owls begin to circle the sky again. The whispers get louder, seeping into each of their souls. And Dolores, besieged by the pain of brutal murders in the manor’s history, has no choice but to paint.

For the lives of those close to her hang in the balance.

Inspired by authors like Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven), Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), and Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House), Owl Manor – the Final Stroke is the third and final book in the Owl Manor trilogy of Gothic Suspense novels. It follows Owl Manor – the Dawning and Owl Manor – Abigail.


First Line:

My worn books squelched through mud and grit as I trudged down the main thoroughfare of a town.

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke by Zita Harrison

I cannot stress this enough (and I have mentioned it a few times in the previous two reviews for this series), I cannot read Gothic/horror without my husband being home. After finishing this book, I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing several of Dolores’s paintings, Kitty’s theater, or even Rachel’s descent into madness. I was so unnerved by this book, and that was a good thing!!!

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke is the 3rd book in the Owl Manor trilogy. While you can read this as a standalone book, I recommend reading books 1 and 2 first. That way, you can learn about the events that lead up to this book and how they influenced the events that take place in this book.

The author did write a forward to the book explaining how it was written. This book is written in language that was common for the time. She explained that the language combines British English and frontier dialect but is moving towards an informal American dialect. She cited a website (etymobline.com) that she used in her research to make sure it was as authentic as possible.

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke takes place around 30 years after the events of Abigail and around 50ish years after The Dawning. Dolores, Kitty, and Rachel are three friends looking for a place to open a combination restaurant/theater/art gallery. Dolores finds a carved owl at a local fair, and the seller, a young boy, tells her it is from a mansion in the mountains outside of Denver. After seeing the estate, they decide to buy it and renovate it back to its former glory. But, once living there, Dolores (an empath) starts painting pictures of murdered women, the victims of Rafe Bradstone. Her dreams reach a fever pitch as women are being murdered in Denver, and she is compelled to paint them. With Kitty going down a path that includes opium use and promiscuity and Rachel spiraling down into madness, Dolores needs to get to the heart of the mystery, Owl Manor. But can she do it in time to save herself and her friends? Or will they end up being more victims of Owl Manor?

I loved Dolores’s character. She was your typical turn-of-the-century artsy girl who dreamed of doing nothing but her art. She was also an empath who used her art to channel the pain of what she was feeling to canvas. So, when she started having nightmares and was compelled to paint them, it wasn’t new to her. But what was new was how graphic and terrifying the paintings were. The author could take Dolores’s initial feelings and expand on them. Dolores became alarmed at what she was doing. She did try to stop (the scene where she tried to burn the painting will be forever etched in my head) but couldn’t. I was terrified for her when she started painting murders that had just happened. I am going to stop there because of spoilers.

I liked Kitty’s character, but I was not too fond of the turn she took. She had a great vision for her theater, and I thought her first two shows were great. But then, she listened to Cecil, and everything turned. She went from this bright, vibrant girl to someone I didn’t even recognize. It saddened me and made her suspect when prostitutes were being killed in Denver.

I was not too fond of Rachel. She rubbed me the wrong way the entire book. I wasn’t surprised when she started hearing (and eventually seeing) Rafe. I wasn’t surprised by her attitude towards Kitty or how she refused to listen to Dolores. I did, however, think it was interesting that she was the one who looked up Owl Manor’s past, and she was the one who found Rafe’s letters to his father. I did feel bad for her in the end, mainly because she ended up being a pawn in something much bigger than her.

I enjoyed reading the storyline with Dolores, the girls, and their business. I was fascinated to see how it would do. Despite what was going on and how everything turned out, I was still rooting for them to succeed.

The storyline with Dolores and her paintings was frightening. I didn’t blame her for being as scared or fighting it as she was. I knew her paintings connected to Rafe, but I wasn’t sure what the connection was. I thought she might have been Abigail’s daughter, but that was dashed relatively early in the book.

Kitty’s storyline was a little frightening. It showcased how someone like Cecil could easily lead someone as naive as Kitty down the wrong path. Her 180 change of morals and attitude didn’t help with that conception either. I admit that I thought it was Kitty doing the killing until almost the end.

Rachel’s storyline was sad to read. While I didn’t like her, I did think that she had a valid point about being so angry early on in the book. But, as Rafe’s spirit drew her in, I could see her falling down that rabbit hole. I was verbally yelling “No” as she started acting more erratic.

The storyline with Rafe, Eva, and the ghosts was terrifying. I felt terrible for Rafe and the fact that, even in death, he was lost without Eva. So, having that part of the storyline wrapped up the way it did make sense. But the other part of the storyline, the one with the ghosts of the women he murdered, was chilling. I understood that they wanted their stories told, but possession was a little too far in my eyes.

The storyline with the killer was interesting. There were quite a few characters to pick from, and I felt that any of them (except Dolores) could have been the killer. Heck, I even had Gabriel on the shortlist!!

I felt that the author wrote the horror angle of Owl Manor—The Final Stroke amazingly. I was creeped out by what was happening in the manor. I was also creeped out by what was happening mentally and physically to the girls.

There was a slight romance angle to the book that I wasn’t too fond of. But, it didn’t get in the way of the main storylines, and it did add some extra depth to Dolores’s character arc.

The end of Owl Manor—The Final Stroke was interesting. I had chills reading it!! I loved how the author wrapped up the storyline of Rafe and Eva. I also liked how she wrapped up Dolores, Kitty, and Rachel’s storylines. As for the killer, I was shocked at who it ended up being. That person didn’t even make my “who is the killer” list or was even on my radar.

I would recommend Owl Manor—The Final Stroke to anyone over 21. There are sexual situations, mild language, and violence. There is also drug use (Kitty taking opiates) and forced sexual encounters (again, Kitty during the last of her theater dates).


If you enjoyed reading Owl Manor—The Final Stroke, you will enjoy these books:

A Spark of Ash (Ember of Night: Book 3) by Molly E. Lee

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Entangled: Teen

Date of publication: May 24th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal

Series: Ember of Night

Ember of Night—Book 1 (review here)

Shadow of Light—Book 2

Spark of Ash—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.


First Line:

Harley giggled as I lean over her on the bed, laying a line of kisses down her neck.

Spark of Ash by Molly E. Lee

When I got the invite to review Spark of Ash, I almost didn’t accept it. I had read Ember of Night (and loved it) but didn’t get to read Shadow of Light. What ultimately made my mind up was that I was intrigued by the synopsis. I hoped the author would review what happened in Shadow of Light so I wouldn’t be lost. While that didn’t happen, I could still follow the plotline.

Spark of Ash is the 3rd (and final) book in the Ember of Night series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. I also strongly suggest reading the series in order.

Spark of Ash had an exciting plotline. Harley and Draven live peacefully on a plane in the Aether when Draven is kidnapped by the head of the Seven, brainwashed, and then kidnapped to kidnap Harley’s baby sister, Ray. Harley is given a quest that could save both Ray and Draven: She needs to find the Seven Scrolls. These scrolls, when united, can be used to counteract the Seven’s power. The scrolls are located in various parts of the Aether and Earth, and each comes with dangers. But Harley is determined to find them, even if that means facing the demons of her past. Can Harley find the scrolls? Can she counteract the Seven’s powers? Can she defeat the head of the Seven? Can she free Ray and Draven? And most importantly, can Harley get through to Draven? Or will she fail?

As I mentioned above, I almost didn’t accept the review invitation because I didn’t read Shadow of Light. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to follow the storyline. I was fortunate because the author briefly reviewed what happened in Shadow of Light before diving into Spark of Ash. Some parts confused me because I didn’t understand what was happening. But that was only for 3-4 scenes. The rest of the book flowed smoothly.

I loved Harley. She was a badass b*tch who would do anything for her family (found and otherwise). It was showcased when she didn’t hesitate to rescue Draven and Ray. She agreed to get the scrolls, knowing she could get hurt or even die. She was willing to risk everything to find them. I really can’t say anything bad about her.

I loved Draven, too, even though he spent 90% of the book with his memories wiped. He cared for Ray, even though he had no clue who she was. I wouldn’t say I liked seeing him as a mindless machine, though. After reading the first chapter and seeing how much he loved Harley and knowing he was in Ember of Night, I couldn’t come to terms with how he was in this book. But, once he got his memories back, man, he was something else.

The storyline with Harley and Cassiel looking for the scrolls was interesting. But I did feel slightly let down by how easy it was for Harley to get some of the scrolls. I was looking for more battles than what was shown. The only one that put me on edge was when Harley returned to her abusive stepfather’s house to get a scroll.

The storyline with Ray, Draven, and the Seven was interesting. I liked seeing how the Seven was splintering on the inside. I was curious about Ray and her abilities, but the author didn’t get into them. I am hoping for a book (or series) when Ray is a little older that will explore them. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t say I liked seeing Draven without his memories, but that did serve its purpose.

The romance between Harley and Draven was terrific. It showcased that true love can overcome everything. I loved seeing Harley trying to reach Draven on so many levels while looking for the scrolls (thanks to the mate bond), and when she did, it was incredible!! I also liked seeing the beginning of a romance between Ryder and Wallace. Again, I hope for another series or a standalone book in this universe.

I thought the fantasy angle of the book was well written also. Having Hell (aka Aether) be a whole other dimension with layers was fascinating. Harley’s journey through those layers was eye-opening and made me want to read more about this universe.

There were several twists in the plot towards the end of the book. The one with a significant character broke my heart. I kept saying “Oh no, no, no!!!” when it was revealed what that person did. There was a twist with Harley that left me with my mouth open. Mainly because I couldn’t believe what Harley found out; not only did I not believe it, but I also couldn’t believe that this person had stayed in the shadows for so long. The biggest twist, though, was the end of the book. I did not expect it to go the way it did. It only made me want to read more from this universe.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the end of the book took me by surprise. Mainly because of everything that happened and was revealed. The author did wrap up Draven and Harley’s storyline, but I am hoping for more books in this universe.

I would recommend Spark of Ash for anyone over 16. There are mild sexual scenes (kissing but no sex), violence, and language.

Summer Nights with a Cowboy (Kittredge Ranch: Book 3) by Caitlin Crews

Publisher: St. Martin’s, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of Publication: March 29th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Western

Series: Kittredge Ranch

Secret Nights with a Cowboy—Book 1

Sweet Nights with a Cowboy—Book 1.5

All Night Long with a Cowboy—Book 2 (review here)

Summer Nights with a Cowboy—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

USA Today bestseller Caitlin Crews returns with Summer Nights with a Cowboy, another emotional romance in her stunning cowboy series Kittredge Ranch….
He doesn’t believe in love…

Traveling nurse Janie Atwood has come to Cold River to uncover old family secrets and maybe, if she’s lucky, find a new home. That the gorgeous, glowering sheriff next door thinks her caring for his elderly neighbor is a nefarious scheme is a bonus. Having never been anything but a good girl, Janie finds Zack Kittredge’s simmering suspicion an excellent reason to try being a little dangerous instead…

She doesn’t believe in squandering it…

Sheriff Zack Kittredge is okay with being… intense. He takes his loner status as seriously as he takes his responsibilities to protect Cold River. And he thinks cheerful Janie might be a threat to the town. But the more he gets to know her, the more he faces the truth―she’s brighter than sunshine and he’s like a moth to her flame. When Janie suggests he could use a few charm school lessons, he surprises them both by accepting. He doesn’t need help. But it’s clear he might need her…

Because the only thing hotter than the summer sun in the Rockies is the forbidden passion that burns between them…


First Line:

Janie Atwood had never met the sheriff of pretty little Cold River personally, but she was already aware that he hated her.

summer nights with a cowboy by caitlin crews

Romances are among my top 3 genres to read. I love all types of romances: erotica, shifter, contemporary, historical, western…etc. So, when an invite for a romance novel is in my email, I almost always accept it. With Summer Nights with a Cowboy, I was already familiar with the series (Kittredge Ranch) and the universe in which the book took place. So, yes, I decided to accept it before reading the synopsis. I knew that it was about Zack and that it took place in Cold River. That’s all I needed to know before I said yes.

Summer Nights with a Cowboy is book 3 in the Kittredge Ranch series. It can be read as a standalone book, but I highly suggest (as I always do) that you read the first two books before picking this one up. The main character of this book makes numerous appearances in that series. Even better, check out Cold River Ranch for the backstories of several of the secondary characters in this book.

Summer Nights with a Cowboy’s plotline interested me. Zack is the sheriff of Cold Creek, and he takes his job very seriously. Janie is a free-spirit traveling nurse who has moved into her client’s house. Janie and Zack’s paths cross when she accidentally trips and dumps her latte down the front of his shirt. And their ways continue to cross because Zack is her client’s next-door neighbor. After another rude encounter, Janie suggests that Zack needs etiquette classes and offers to teach them. To her surprise, he takes her up on her offer. As they get to know each other better, Janie has a secret that could derail their fledgling relationship. And Zack has deep-rooted scars from his traumatic childhood. Will Janie come clean to Zack about her secret? Can Zack accept it? And will Janie help Zack heal?

I loved that the author gave Zack a book of his own. He was such a presence in the Cold River series and in his brothers’ books that I wondered if it would happen. I expected his character to be a little less rigid than what he was portrayed in the other books. But, alas, he wasn’t. But you know what, it worked for me. I loved seeing him gradually (and sometimes it was at a snail’s pace) come to terms with what happened during his childhood. I also loved seeing him happy and relaxed when he was with Janie. The only thing I disagreed with was when he warned Janie about the Halls. I thought it was not cool (mainly because of what she was looking for) and a little selfish of him. Other than that, I loved him.

Janie was awesome. She was precisely the type of woman that Zack needed. She was awkward but sweet. She also was as clumsy as heck. Throughout the book, she was constantly tripping over one thing or another. I kept thinking, “Girl, how can you do your job?” I also loved how she went about gathering information about her secret. Her interactions with Zack, her friends (via text), and the other townspeople had me in stitches.

The author thoroughly explains Zack’s childhood in the book. It was alluded to in the previous two books but never explained. All I have to say is shame on his mother. What an awful thing to subject your children to. I had some sympathy for her, but at the same time, I was outraged. Her actions caused her children to have issues that took years (and the love of a good woman) to fix. I was irritated with his father, but my irritation turned to sympathy after what his mother revealed.

I loved how the author chose to reveal Janie’s secret and how she explained everything behind it. It brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh simultaneously. Janie finally had explanations about things that her grandparents had told her.

Janie and Zack’s romance was sweet. It wasn’t HEA. Zack didn’t like Janie when he first met her. He was suspicious of her and thought she was a klutz. Janie was intimidated by Zack and his manliness (yes, laugh, but it is true), and he made her very nervous, making her clumsy. But the more they got together, the more Zack started to see her for who she truly was and started falling in love with her. The same went for Janie. Their relationship was natural and evolved as it would have in real life. Which means there was no HEA. Maybe lust on Janie’s end but NO HEA.

The chemistry that Janie and Zack had was off the charts. The author built up that chemistry and let it linger until the middle of the book when they kissed for the first time. Then, she built it back up again and let it go until they had sex for the first time. I enjoyed that the author chose not to have them having sex rule the second half of the book. Instead, it was graphic once and then mentioned or alluded to a few times afterward.

The end of Summer Nights with a Cowboy seemed almost dreamy to me. The author gave me the impression that the book was Zack looking back at how he met and fell in love with Janie (with scenes cut in with Janie looking back). The way it was written gave me that impression. I thought it was a perfect way to wrap up the story.

I would recommend Summer Nights with a Cowboy to anyone over 21. There is mild violence, language, and sexual situations/scenes.

Whispers After Death (Mind Stalkers: Book 3) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: January 21st, 2022

Series: The Mindhunters Series

Silent Depths—Book 1 (review here)

Shadow Guard—Book 2 (review here)

Whispers After Death—Book 3

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Life on the street molds emotional athletes.

Three years ago, her brother’s death marked the beginning of Kendra’s new life, an existence with no friends, no family, and no home.

Her new identity crumbles when a specter from her brother’s past demands a package she doesn’t possess. There’s only one person who could know its location. For Kendra, re-entrance into polite society comes with a deadly price, as betrayal comes from both sides of the grave.

Conner Crofton, ex-military, fights his own demons. Failure to protect a teammate on their last covert mission takes penance as a promise to safeguard a family member, a girl he’d unknowingly remanded to a world of darkness and uncertainty, deception and psychopathic stalkers.

The past haunts them both while forgiveness, betrayal, and passion interweave a destiny formed long ago. Romantic suspense with a twist.


First Line:

“Kendra Lea Bower, ’bout time you got your scrawny ass down here. You been helping Father McKinley at St. Marks again?”

whispers after death by reily garrett

When I got the invite to read/review Whispers After Death, I immediately accepted. I have read the series’ previous books, and I couldn’t wait to read this one. I was expecting it to be like Silent Depths and Shadow Guard, focusing on paranormal and romance. It was not like that, but that did not change my enjoyment of the book. Instead, I loved it!!

Kendra is a street kid. Living on the streets for the past three years, she is tough and streetwise. But when her band gets a gig at Ambrosia, Kendra is forced to face the past she left behind. Conner is part of her past, and she blames him for her brother’s death. Conner blames himself for Kendra’s brother’s death and for not honoring the deathbed promise he made. His chance at redemption comes when Kendra is assaulted outside his club. Looking to protect Kendra, Conner takes her to his house. With a mole in their midst, Conner and Kendra must figure out who the mole is, why Billy went on that secret mission and what he found out. Can Kendra and Conner figure out what is happening and who the mole is? And will they give in to their mutual attraction?

Whispers After Death is book 3 in The Mindhunters Series. While you can read this book as a standalone, I strongly recommend reading the previous two books before picking this one up. That way, you will understand the storyline and Callie/Dani’s abilities.

Whispers After Death was an emotionally complex book for me to read. The depth of Kendra’s grief was immense. My heart broke for her because she was broken and didn’t get the help she needed. The pain she was experiencing was palpable, as was the hatred for Conner. It was misplaced, and she didn’t realize that he was in as much pain as she was. So, I loved it when she started healing. The author didn’t sugarcoat her healing. It was messy, but it was true to life.

Kendra wasn’t a likable character in the beginning half of the book. She was brash, had a mouth on her, and didn’t trust anyone. But living on the streets for three years would do that to you. She also HATED Conner with a passion. She blamed him for Billy’s (her brother) death and was not going to cooperate with him at all. But, as the book went on, Kendra started to soften, and she became more likable. By the end of the book, I loved her. She was probably one of the strongest female characters I have read in a while.

I loved Conner. I have always been fascinated with him since Silent Depths, and I loved that the author gave him his book. Conner carried a lot around with him. He felt responsible for Billy’s death, and he felt guilty for not honoring Billy’s last wish. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about him. Like Kendra, I felt that his character’s emotional growth during the book was immense.

Conner and Kendra had amazing sexual chemistry. But the author did something that surprised me. They had sex once, and Conner gave Kendra an orgasm with his fingers. I loved it!! I felt that if there had been more sex, it would have taken away from the main storyline (who was after Kendra).

The author very well wrote the romance angle of the book. I liked how the author made it part of Conner and Kendra’s healing. What I also liked was that their romance wasn’t Instalove. Conner and Kendra had feelings for each other that went back years. It was only during this book that those feelings morphed into love. Again, I loved it!!!

The suspense angle was well written. I was kept at the edge of my seat with what was going on. The author did a great job at keeping the suspense up. At one point, I had low-key anxiety going on.

The mystery angle was terrific. The author did an excellent job keeping who was behind Kendra’s attack secret until the end of the book. And, in tandem with the review of the mole, she threw in a twist that made me go “No way” when it was revealed. It shocked me, and trust me when I say this; I don’t get shocked at events in books very often.

The end of Whispers After Death was good. I loved how the author wrapped up all the storylines. But she did leave the storyline that started in Silent Depths open. There were a couple of sweet and bittersweet moments at the end of the book.

I would recommend Whispers After Death to anyone over 21. There is language, mild sexual scenes, and moderate violence.

The Paradise Tree (Pirates and Puritans: Book 3) by R.A. Denny

Publisher: Mesmeringa Press

Date of Publication: March 10th, 2022

Series: Pirates and Puritans

The Alchemy Thief—Book 1 (review here)

The Sultan’s Court—Book 2 (review here)

The Paradise Tree—Book 3

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia, Time Travel

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome to Paradise. Daniel’s alchemy has hurtled them 112 years into the future where a mysterious tree-shaped structure rises into the Moroccan sky. Generations have passed, but a culture grounded in ancient Yoruba traditions has sprung up.

Peri must choose between trusting the friendly strangers she meets and following Ayoub, the terrorist-turned-pirate, into the unknown. She fights to keep her family together, but her faith is shaken. Nothing is as it seems.

Caught between two warring factions, the YUS with brain chips and the Natural Resistance Force, Peri must search within herself to discover what truly makes life worth living. How much is she willing to sacrifice for paradise?


First Line:

At the sound of the knock, Peri’s father was filled with both hope and dread.

the paradise tree by r.a. denny

I was surprised and excited when I got the invite to read/review The Paradise Tree. I wondered when the 3rd and final book would be published and was hoping that I would get the invite. I had also hyped this book up in my mind. Well, The Paradise Tree lived up to that hype. I loved reading it (even if it did scare me in some places).

The Paradise Tree is the 3rd book in the Pirates and Puritans series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. If you read the books out of order, you will be confused. It will help if you read The Alchemy Thief and The Sultan’s Court to understand Ayoub, Peri, Mya, and Daniel’s backstory.

The Paradise Tree was an exciting book to read. It starts almost immediately after the events of The Sultan’s Court. Peri, Daniel, Mya, and Ayoub have traveled 112 years into the future. Thinking it would be a sanctuary from the people they escaped from in the present, they soon find the future is much more dangerous. The group is separated, Ayoub trekking to the distant mountains and meeting a woman connected with a group called the NRF, and the other three being picked up by a group called the YUS. The group soon finds itself in a struggle between oppression and freedom.

There are 3; sometimes 4, POVs in The Paradise Tree. The main POVs are Ayoub and Peri’s, with Daniel breaking in occasionally and Mya having a chapter or two to flush out more of the YUS’s plotline. The alternating POVs gave great insight into how each faction worked. It also provided insight into how each society was (if that makes sense). Usually, I wouldn’t say I like it when the book constantly switches back and forth between numerous people, but in this case, it worked.

Ayoub had some character growth in The Paradise Tree. Mainly, it centered around his relationships with Salima and her children. He morphed from only caring about himself to accepting responsibility for her and her children. He also came to terms with everything that had happened to him as a child. But, the biggest surprise was when he went to rescue Peri and Daniel. I didn’t think he would do it, to be honest. But seeing Mya and hearing about what was going on in The Paradise Tree spurred him on.

I felt a connection with Peri during her storyline. She was a middle-aged woman who was introduced to new technology. I laughed out loud during the scenes when she learned how to control (and talk) with her chip. The whole broadcasting of her thoughts to others was hilarious. I also got her wanting to see Daniel and Mya and her devastation when she wasn’t allowed.

Daniel was the real MVP of the book. He got what was going on fairly early in the book, and he actively found ways to get around the chip. I had a feeling what happened to him was going to happen around the middle of the book, but I was still surprised.

The secondary character added depth to The Paradise Tree. Each character, no matter how small, was essential to the plotline.

The science fiction angle of The Paradise Tree was well written. Time travel was mentioned throughout the book, along with ball lighting. The author did a great job of explaining how time travel was commonplace.

The dystopia angle of The Paradise Tree was scary. I had no issue imagining our society inventing a chip that would allow inner thought speaking and that monitored our bodily needs. I could also see plastic surgery as painless as described. I can also see egg harvesting and having genetically modified children happening. But the scariest thing to me was the split in society (one who wants total control and the other free will). That is part of what made the book so enjoyable to read.

The author did wrap up almost all of the storylines during this book, even from previous books. One storyline was left open, and I am curious to see if the author writes books about it. It was nice to see karma happen to the main bad guy in the first two books. I had a feeling who the Oba was when Busi had Peri in her rooms.

The end of The Paradise Tree was a little bittersweet. I can’t go into why I say that, but I did get teary eyes during the last couple of chapters of the book.

I would recommend The Paradise Tree to anyone over 21. There are violence and sexual themes. There is no language.

Masters’ Promise (Angel Eyes: Book 3) by Jamie Schulz

Book Cover

Publisher: Jamie Schulz

Date of publication: December 14th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Dystopia

Series: Angel Eyes

Jake’s Redemption—Book 0 (review here)

Masters’ Mistress—Book 1

Masters’ Escape—Book 2

Masters’ Promise—Book 3

Masters’ Rebellion—Book 4

Masters’ Betrayal—Book 5

Masters’ Freedom—Book 6 (expected publication date: January 1st, 2022)

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

He swore he’d protect her.
But can they ever trust each other enough to fall in love?

Bret Masters is as good as his word. Following through on his pledge to nurse back to health the woman who owns him, the rugged ranch-hand showers her with care while still guarding his heart. But as he spends hour after hour by her side, the stubborn cowboy feels his resistance crumbling.

Angel Aldridge fears she won’t recover. Seized by the horrors of her past, her handsome foreman is the only comfort she knows. But when a frightening incident results in an intimate confession, the curvy rancher worries she’s pushed him away for good.

Stung by Angel’s words, Bret struggles to believe love could ever be possible in this broken world. And with Angel’s enemy returning to exact revenge, she’s frightened she’ll never again feel her hero’s embrace.

With danger on its inevitable way, is this the end for the star-crossed couple?

Masters’ Promise is the steamy third book in The Angel Eyes futuristic dystopian cowboy romance series. If you like captivating characters, forbidden desire, and dark twists, then you’ll adore Jamie Schulz’s riveting read.

This book has a HFN ending with a slight cliffhanger that leads into Book 4 of the series. The books in this series must be read in order as the story builds with each book.

Please note: Intended for mature audiences. Trigger warning. Reader discretion is advised.


First Line:

Angel Aldridge lay on her back, staring at her oversized, four-poster bed canopy, waiting for the man who’d been a pain in the rear ever since he’d come to live on her ranch.

masters’ promise by jamie schulz

When I got the invite to review Masters’ Promise from the author’s publicist, I was on the fence about reading it. I had read Jake’s Redemption and Masters’ Mistress (never reviewed), but there was a gap between those reviews and now. So, I was worried that I would be lost. I ultimately decided to review this book, hoping that I wouldn’t be too lost while reading it. Thankfully, that was the case, and once again, The author pulled me into this complex dystopian society that I had enjoyed pre-pandemic.

Masters’ Promise is the 3rd book in the Angel Eyes series. It is technically the 4th book, but Jake’s Redemption is considered a prequel to this series. I cannot stress this enough; you need to read the previous books before starting on this one. If you read Masters’ Promise without doing that, you will be confused. I am not over exaggerating this. I was a bit lost after skipping one book, so imagine what it would be like going into this series cold at book 4.

Masters’ Promise is the continuing story of Bret and Angel’s budding romance, as well as the threat that Carrie and Darla hold over their lives and the lives of their allies. Angel and Bret need to overcome jealousy, anger, and trauma to present a united front to those witches. They also need to learn to trust each other, which is challenging in a society where all males are slaves, with the women being their masters.

I was surprised at how well Masters’ Promise flowed. Why was I surprised? Well, typically, a book with more than two POVs has problems with keeping the plotline flowing well. But in this case, there was no problem, and I enjoyed that. I also felt that the book’s pacing had much to do with it. It was a medium-paced book that picked up in parts. There was a slight lag in the middle of the book, but it didn’t throw the pacing off or affect my reading.

While I like Angel, I was not a big fan of her for 85% of the book. She was such a strong woman in the previous books, but she came across as weak in this one. I know that is a harsh thing to say, but I didn’t particularly appreciate seeing her like that. I get why the author wrote her the way she did for this book. She was highlighting PTSD and its long-term effects. But still, I wanted to see more of the kick-butt woman who would do anything to protect her people. There were glimpses of that when Carrie’s henchwoman was beating Bret with a barbed whip and Angel beat the crap out of her with it, but it was few and far between.

Bret got on my nerves big time while reading the book. He was such a jerk to Angel during crucial scenes that I wanted to reach through the book and smack him. There were certain situations that I could understand why he was so grumpy. Angel called him Michael after they had sex, and when he thought that Angel didn’t do anything, Carrie started whipping him. I also got why he’d get grumpy when Angel refused to talk about Michael or what caused her PTSD. But, it was also draining to read. I hope that in the next book, he calms down some.

Carrie was the ultimate villain in Masters’ Promise. She got so much pleasure from torturing her male slaves that my skin crawled in certain parts of the book. She does have a backstory that explains why she’s the way she is but still. I hope that she gets what’s coming to her in the next book.

The romance angle was well written. I liked seeing both Bret and Angel acknowledge their feelings (to themselves) and eventually each other. But I was sad that they had to keep it to themselves. Carrie would have had a field day if she found out about that (another black mark against her in my book).

There is sex in Masters’ Promise, and it is explicit. Surprisingly, I can count on one hand how many times Bret and Angel have explicit sex. Because the author did that, she was able to keep their chemistry going. I enjoyed that.

The dystopian angle was well written also. A world that has been ravaged by war and the females gained the upper hand? Fine by me!! But I am not a big fan of the slavery angle, but I understand why the author wrote it the way she did.

There are a few trigger warnings in Masters’ Promise. There is rape, and there is explicit abuse of the slaves. I was a little disturbed by some of the things I read, and I have thick skin. So, if you are triggered easily, don’t read the book.

The end of Masters’ Promise drove me insane. What Angel said to Bret broke my heart. I understood why she said it. I also am beginning to think that the rebels will become a bigger problem for the homesteaders. The author didn’t wrap up any of the storylines. Instead, she left it with an understanding of what will happen in the next book (which I want to read).

I would recommend Masters’ Promise to anyone over the age of 21. There is explicit sex, explicit violence, and language.

Hexes & Hairballs (The Faerie Files: Book 3) by Emigh Cannaday

Book Cover

Publisher: Black Feather Publishing

Date of publication: October 9th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Paranormal

Series: The Faerie Files

Wiretaps & Whispers—Book 1 (review here)

Catnip & Curses—Book 2 (review here)

Hexes & Hairballs—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

I can’t believe Logan’s been my partner for over a year. Actually, he’s been more than that for half as long.
I know he’ll always have my back.

But when a routine monster eviction goes horribly wrong, he’s furious that I didn’t run when I had the chance.
What’s his deal? The way I see it, the FBI didn’t hire me to run away.

They hired me to get the job done.

Plus, I’m not the type to run from anything. I did it once when I was a kid and I’ve regretted it to this very day.
I suppose that explains why I’m taking this latest case so personally.

Funny how some things come around full circle…especially when you least expect it.


First Line:

“Carl, you got a spare flashlight? The batteries keep going dead in mine.”

Hexes & Hairballs by Emigh Cannaday

I was very excited when I opened my email and saw the ARC for Hexes & Hairballs. I have read the first two books in the series and couldn’t wait for book 3. So, yes, I fangirled out a little bit. I believe there was dancing around the living room and some booty shaking before I sat back down to download it. Unfortunately, though, life got in the way, and I couldn’t read Hexes & Hairballs right away. It got pushed to the back burner while I did Mom things and collapsed in an exhausted puddle at night. Then my schedule cleared, and I was finally able to sit down and read this book. And let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait.

Hexes & Hairballs is a fast-paced book. The author starts fast and doesn’t let up the pace for the entire book. There was no lag which is always a plus, and the flow of the book was fantastic!!

Hexes & Hairballs is told from Logan and Elena’s POV. It is also written in the first person. I had no issues with telling whose POV I was reading. The author put either Elena’s or Logan’s names at the beginning of the chapter.

The plotline for Hexes & Hairballs was simple. After defeating a supernatural entity under New York City (and yes, the author got everything right, including the rats), Elena, Logan, and the rest of their team head back home. But they don’t get to rest. Instead, they are sent to England to investigate why a child reappeared after 40 years and hasn’t aged. What they find over in England is something that they weren’t expecting. Also, there is an old enemy who is waiting in the shadows to strike. Will Logan and Elena make it through? Will they have their happily ever after?

Elena was her typical bundle of fire during this book. She took charge of the situations and did her best to resolve them. I disagreed with what she did when she was in the hospital with the boy. It should have been left to the professionals. But in the end, it did work in her favor. I did feel bad for her during the last few scenes of the book. What was revealed was a huge shock. I put my Kindle down and said, “No, effing way.”

I liked Logan in Hexes & Hairballs. Like in the previous books, he tended to get himself into situations that were a little dicey. I can’t go into what was dicey in this book, but he bore the brunt of everything.

Logan and Elena had insane chemistry in Hexes & Hairballs. That chemistry didn’t fade during the book. Instead, the author was able to build it back up after they were doing the nasty.

What surprised me the most about Hexes & Hairballs was the depth of the secondary characters. I felt that I got to know Solana a lot better and, in turn, understood why she was the way she was. I pitied her. The same with Sluagh. He showed a more human side when he was telling Solana’s story, and I got the feeling he disagreed with the kidnapping of human children.

The paranormal angle of the book was well written. The author took the stories of changelings and Fae abductions and made them her own. What I enjoyed the most about it was portrayed in a way that made it feel realistic. The emotions that the little boy went through came off the pages. I was in tears when he asked for his “mum” and when Elena told him what had happened.

The end of Hexes & Hairballs was well written and action-packed. But I did get the impression that maybe this wasn’t the last book in the series. I hope that it is the case because I would love to see what Elena and Logan do next!! How the author wrote the ending made me wonder that.

Three Sisters (The Tattooist of Auschwitz: Book 3) by Heather Morris

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction

Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz—Book 1 (review here)

Cilka’s Journey—Book 2 (review here)

Three Sisters—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |B&N |WorldCat


Goodreads Synopsis:

A promise to stay together.
An unbreakable bond.
A fierce will to survive.


From international bestselling author Heather Morris comes the breathtaking conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.

When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together.

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

Rich in vivid detail, and beautifully told, Three Sisters will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive. Two of the sisters are in Israel today, surrounded by family and friends. They have chosen Heather Morris to reimagine their story in her astonishing new novel, Three Sisters.


First Line:

The three sisters, Cibi, Magda, and Livi, sit a in tight circle with their father in the small backyard of their home.

three sisters by heather morris

When I agreed to read and review Three Sisters, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I had read/reviewed numerous books on the Holocaust and didn’t think that I could be affected by what was done to millions of people. But then I read Three Sisters, and my heart was broken by what I read. I don’t think that I will ever read a book about the Holocaust without crying my eyes out.

Three Sisters is a book that details Cibi, Magda, and Livi’s time in Auschwitz. Well, to be clear, the book mainly follows Cibi and Livi in Auschwitz. Magda was able to stay at home with her mother and grandfather until the Nazis rounded everyone up towards the end of the war.

I thought I was prepared for the horrors that I had read about Auschwitz in previous books. But, whatever preparedness I had was thrown out the window. The trauma that the girls went through touched me deeply, and I just wanted to reach through the book, hug them, and say, “It’s going to be alright.Cibi, Livi (most of all Livi), and Magda were all survivors.

Three Sisters went into what life was like after the Nazis were deposed. Cibi, Livi, and Magda were forced to rob their own childhood home for pictures Magda and her mother hid away. The bigotry and hatred that people showed them were horrifying to read but not unexpected.

The end of Three Sisters made me smile. The girls found their HEAs and were committed to never forgetting what happened to them. The afterward (with the different children and grandchildren) made me smile because they did have a “normal” life.