Recent Reading: Laird Wolf by Vivian Arend, Make You Burn by Megan Crane & Falling Under by Lauren Dane
Laird Wolf (Takhini Shifters #2) by Vivian Arend
Damon Black is lone wolf on a rescue mission. His best-friend's wife's best-friend Addie MacShay, an estate cataloger needs his help to fend off two creepy brothers trying to claim the same manor house in a remote corner of Scotland.
Addie MacShay is independent, hard-working and not easily spooked. It was not easy for her to ask for help and she certainly did not expect Damon. Damon proves to be a bigger distraction than he Sterling-Wylde brothers, especially as he pretends to be her boyfriend.
I really enjoy Arend's shifter books. They are light, fun and playful. Both Addie and Damon and their wolves are keeping secrets from each other. I very much enjoyed the humor that came from their confusion and mistaken impressions. Addie is the daughter of two Omega wolves and has inherited an odd ability that makes her aware of the thoughts and intentions of any one that touches her. This makes her recoil from physical touch, and shy away from any kind of romantic entanglement. Although Damon is charming, and attractive and up for a romp, they have to slow down instead of crashing together. There is great lingering sexual tension as they experiment with way to circumvent her gift. I also enjoyed how once again Arend takes the fated mates trope and uses it as complication rather than a short-cut to intimacy.
The resolution to the contested estate plot was a bit of eye-rolling fluff but it was perfectly in sync with the story's light-hearted tone.
I received a review copy of Laird Wolf from the author via NetGalley.
Make You Burn by Megan Crane (Book 1 in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series)
Sophie Lombard has grown up knowing she will always come in second place to her father's beloved biker brothers but in the ten years since his club fractured and declined, she came to fool herself int believing she mattered to him, running his bar and taking care of him. When her father dies unexpectedly, she finds herself and her bar crowded with familiar but all too dangerous faces from her past.
Sean "Ajax" Harding was Priest Lombard's second in command, helping him transition the club from an outlaw outfit to a more legitimate group. Sent into exile after deal goes wrong, Ajax is eager to come home and figure out what has gone wrong in last decade and rescue the club. Home is not all like he left it. The club's dive bar is full of tourists, their old clubhouse converted into an Art Gallery and Priest's daughter no longer the innocent sheltered little miss he remembered.
Ajax is crude and pushy but the distraction Sophie needs from her grief. He gives her something to fight and think about beyond the loss of her father and her disappointment in him. Their sexual chemistry and the complex feelings they have for each other were engrossing. They had great push-pull dynamics and every reason to combust. I was less interested in the overarching series storyline about who if anyone had Priest Lombard killed and whether the Deacons of Bourbon Street should be reunited and revived. I was disappointed by the unbalanced cast as almost all Sophie's friends and allies are nameless or barely in the book, while the book is full of Ajax's and Priest's cronies, artificially isolating Sophie in her own hometown which made it harder for me to embrace their HEA.
I received a review copy of Make You Burn from Loveswept -- Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley.
Falling Under (Ink and Chrome Book 2) by Lauren Dane
Carmella grew up working at garages, keeping the books, dodging oil spills and too alluring bad boy mechanics, till her uncle retired and sold his shop. Duke Bradshaw is her gorgeous neighbor and brand-new boss. As attracted as she is to Duke and his deceptive easy-going surfer boy looks, she really needs this job and is not going to do a single thing that might risk it.
Duke has been intensely interested in Carmella for a longtime and hiring her to work at Twisted Steel is both a blessing and torture. The more he gets to know her the more he admires her but getting her to trust him with her heart is one of the hardest thing he has ever had to do.
I love Lauren Dane's stories, the complicated and angst-filled family relationships, the strength and joy in her chosen families. Carmella is care-taking martyr, doing everything she can for her uncaring flighty mother. She is trapped by her love for her mother and while she enjoys men, has learned not to trust in love or her desire for them. I loved how careful Duke had to be, slowly inserting himself into her life, bringing her joy, showing her care. I loved that their conflicts from the dramatic moment early on to smaller ones later on, are all born out of good intentions , unintentional carelessness or their own personal baggage. They trigger each other in big and small ways, and I love how Dane shows the precious intentional relationship work that is necessary to sustain HEAs.
My only small disappointment is that for most of the book I thought Dane was teasing us with hints of a fem-dom story but Carmella's sexual bossiness and Duke's submission remained an unacknowledged element to their sparkling sexual chemistry .
I was thrilled to win a signed gift print ARC of Falling Under through a giveaway on Lauren Dane's blog.