The temperatures outside are frightful and there is nothing more delightful than sitting around in my pajamas and not doing much more than reading all day.
The Pretender by HelenKay Dimon: An occasional art thief with a cause stumbles upon a murder and contaminates a crime scene leading to the wrong person being accused. He comes back to clear the name of the woman accused and gets a little too close to her.
I struggled with this book at first, the hero's panic at stumbling upon the dying woman, and his desperate flight to flee being discovered were so visceral as was his guilt at causing someone to be wrongly accused meant I struggled to feel fully sympathetic to him, especially as he lies to the heroine about who he is for a great majority of the novel. However Dimon pulls it off and redeems Harrison and establishes a believable relationship between him and Gabrielle. The mystery of who killed Gabrielle's estranged sister was gripping and the twists and turns in their investigation were fantastic. (ARC provided by the Publisher for review consideration).
Beary Christmas, Baby by Sasha Devlin: Liev has loved Sira for years and years, but despite his unwavering devotion and her reliance on him, Sira has always kept him at arms length. But one late night working together on Christmas Eve, Sira pushes Liev just a bit too far. Their friends to lovers, dominating boss romance has the added twist of Sira being a dragon shifter with a complicated relationship with her family and Liev, a big cuddly polar bear shifter, who claimed Sira in his heart when they were kids.
Devlin delighted me with this story. It is sexy, sweet and super fun. I am not a huge fan of holiday romances but this is one I will read again. If you have a weakness for prickly and bossy heroines, love a hero who loses his shit but not his love and respect for the heroine, pick this one up. I love the real sense of knowing each other these two characters radiate. They have been around each other for years yet have this huge unspoken thing that believably keeps them apart.
Lake Silence by Anne Bishop: Bishop returns to the broader world of her Others series with a self-contained story set in a small community deep in Wild Country on the edge of the Finger Lakes.
In her divorce settlement with her gaslighting and emotionally abusive husband Vicky DeVine was granted ownership of run-down rambling inn on the edge of Lake Silence. She has been the last six month working on restoring it and slowly regaining a healthier sense of self. The peacefulness of her lakeside retreat is shattered when her sole lodger, attempts to microwave a human eye in the Inn's kitchen.
The story is one-part police procedural & one-part women's fiction in a dark fantasy package. For readers of Bishop's previous Others novels the story will feel very familiar. A wounded woman finding sanctuary and protectors in a community run by supernatural beings, a honest and determined law-enforcement official seeks to solve crimes and protect humans from their own foolishness while walking a tight rope between human laws and powerful beings with their own rules and expectations. There is even another strong, wounded bookseller with a deep interest in the heroine, although this time that role is filled by Intuit.
I very much enjoyed getting to know the new characters and community, and appreciated the faster, self-contained pacing. I didn't expect the story to wrap up in such a satisfying manner after the leisurely pace of Bishop's previous books in this series. I loved Julian Farrow's character, and the particular ways being an Intuit affected his relationships with non-Intuit humans. The scenes involving the game of Murder were particularly fantastic, both darkly humorous and suspenseful and I loved how the ramifications played later in the of the story.
I'm now deeply curious where else in the World of the Others Bishops plans to write about next.
(An ARC of Lake Silence was provided by the Publisher for review consideration. Lake Silence is available for Pre-order and its expected publication date is March 6th, 2018.)
Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5) by Patricia Briggs: Bran, the Marrok is away and has left his son Charles in charge, when one of the Marrok's special pack of wolves is attacked. Charles, Anna and the rest of the pack rush to to avert tragedy and track down a traitor among them.
The story was intense, full of grief and powerful magics. It is a story about marriages and loss and it was simply beautiful. The story was filled to the brim with little character moments, full of insight into long-standing relationships in the series. It was completely engrossing and I highly recommend it. I love these characters and the ways Briggs has lets us grow to get to know them, sometimes transforming the way I thought about a character through small reveal. I had fallen behind in my Mercy Thompson series reading, and this made me eager to catch back up again, although like the previous Alpha and Omega books, its stands apart. (An Arc of Burn Bright was provided by the Publisher for review consideration. Burn Bright's expected publication date is March 6th, 2018 and it is available for pre-order).
The Hookup (Moonlight and Motor Oil #1) by Kristen Ashley
When Eliza Forrester hit the bar in her new hometown in order to get to know people, she wasn't planning on going home with anyone, certainly not Johnny Gamble, not that she knew he was "the Johnny Gamble" , heir to successful local chain of convenience stores and car garages and one half of legendary star-crossed couple. All she knew was the he was sexy, funny and easy to talk to. Unused to hookups, her clumsy attempts for a graceful exit, capture Johnny's attention and prick his pride. While Eliza tries to play it cool, Johnny makes sure to make that difficult, sending confusing mixed signals, by being sweet and persistent while at the same time resisting sharing much about himself. Thankfully Eliza's best-friend and co-worker Deanna has all the gossip and acts as a relationship guru.
I mildly enjoyed this story. It has its share of misdirection and foiled expectations as the anticipated love-triangle never really materializes, Johnny drops his tortured-by-past-heartbreak persona pretty quickly and they manage to resolve most of their issues by simply talking them out. Most of the drama, including a pulse-pounding manhunt is connected to the secondary storyline featuring Eliza's sister. Honestly I am not quite sure what to make of this story. There was a lot a liked, much that reminded me of the old KA magic but not quite. It was solid but not cracky.
This is just a sampling of what I've been reading this month, so there are more reviews to come!