Series Spotlight: The Westfield Wolves Series/Regency Vampyre Trilogy by Lydia Dare

This past summer, as I was stalking the Nook sales site, I found several books by Lydia Dare that intrigued me. While I don’t read as many paranormal books as I used to (I’m not sure why), I still like throwing one or two into my reading pile every few months to help me mix things up. The “one or two books” I threw into the mix this year turned into seven, with another two being thrown into my to-read pile. The seven books I read turned out to be two series by Lydia Dare (actually two authors – Tammy Falkner and Ava Stone) that intersect each other. The first four books are part of The Westfield Wolves series, the next three are the Regency Vampyre Trilogy, followed by two more Westfield Wolves books (another wolf book is slated for 2014 release and will be the tenth in this dual series.)

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So why am I telling you to read these books? It’s because of the kick-ass, take no prisoner heroines. You see, all the male characters are strong, powerful, domineering men. They’re werewolves and vampires, so their domineering natures are to be expected. However the women that enter their lives are no simpering misses. These women stand up to their domineering partners, challenging them and effectively wrapping these men around their little fingers. There is nothing they won’t do for their women, especially fall in love, which is something they’ve all sworn never to do due to their wild natures. Yet these fearless women show them how much better life is with someone by their side; they are an equal partner with whom they can share the ups and downs, the good and the bad.

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The books that really stand out in this series are Tall, Dark, and Wolfish and It Happened One Bite. Tall, Dark, and Wolfish follows Benjamin, a werewolf who has suddenly stopped changing during the full moon, and Elspeth, a healer who is part of a coven of witches in Scotland. Ben travels to Scotland in search of a famed healer (Elspeth’s late mother) to help him with his “ailment”.  As Elspeth is the only remaining healer, he finds himself in her company often as she tries to figure out how to get him to turn back into a wolf.  The two have such sharp and witty dialogue that I couldn’t help but fall in love with their story and subsequent relationship.

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In It Happened One Bite, Elspeth’s coven sister Blaire travels to a castle in Scotland that she never knew belonged to her family.  While exploring the castle she finds a man, James Kettering, locked in her cellar.  It turns out that her mother and the four other witches of their coven locked him in the cellar 20 years earlier for reasons unknown to James, Blaire, or the current coven. What I liked about this one was the change in Blaire’s character over the course of the novel.  She’s the battle witch of the coven – she can shoot fireballs, is excellent with a bow and arrow, etc. Her personality is already a bit more hardened and tomboyish to begin with, but to watch her fall in love was great. And James – he’s never threatened by her tough exterior. In fact, he loves her sarcasm and dry wit. He knows deep down inside she’s capable of great warmth, kindness, and loyalty. Their story definitely hooked me and made me extremely excited to continue the series.

I hope that I’ve given you enough reasons to read these series, as they aren’t ones to miss. And for those of you nervous to read something that is a collaboration of two authors, let me assure you that their writing is so flawless and seamless that you truly cannot tell that it was written by more than one author.

In (story) chronological order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. A Certain Wolfish Charm (Westfield Wolves #1) – 4 out of 5 Stars
  2. Tall, Dark, and Wolfish (Westfield Wolves #2) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  3. The Wolf Next Door (Westfield Wolves #3) – 3 out of 5 Stars
  4. The Taming of the Wolf (Westfield Wolves #4) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  5. It Happened One Bite (Regency Vampyre Trilogy #1) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  6. In The Heat of The Bite (Regency Vampyre Trilogy #2) – 4 out of 5 Stars
  7. Never Been Bit (Regency Vampyre Trilogy #3) – 3 out of 5 Stars
  8. The Wolf Who Loved Me (Westfield Wolves #5) – On my to-read list
  9. Wolfishly Yours (Westfield Wolves #6) – On my to-read list

Series Spotlight: The Artists Trilogy by Karina Halle

Kim here. Back with another Series Spotlight post! I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed putting them together.  In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a serious series book binger.  I find the first book in a series, enjoy it, and then need to read all of them ASAP.  It makes trying to describe each book as a single entity more difficult, as the series blends together as I progress through it.  Karina Halle’s The Artists Trilogy was one such series.  One story, told through three books and a novella, The Artists Trilogy is the perfect reading choice for anyone who loves anti-heroes.

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This dark, gritty, crime-filled series had me hooked from the get-go.  Halle’s characters are an anti-hero lover’s dream.  Ellie, Camden, Javier, and even Gus are people you’d never expect to find yourself rooting for.  Ellie is a con artist, dealt some shitty blows in life.  Her parents were also con artists, and after one of their cons goes wrong she finds herself with a bad acid burn on her leg. The revenge she’s sworn on the man responsible for her leg is what drives and motivates her. Camden, on the other hand, was thrust into a life of crime when he married the wrong girl.  His ex-wife’s brothers were into some bad shit and forced him to become a money launderer after the divorce. While deep down he’s a great guy with a great heart, he is capable of some serious “dirty work.” Javier isn’t a true anti-hero, at least not in my opinion (I believe him to be one of the villains of the piece.)  He runs a cartel and is Ellie’s former lover.  She left him after she found out he was cheating on her and has been on the run ever since. Finally, we come to Gus.  Gus is a former cop who is now into forging ID’s, license plates, etc.  He was a friend of Ellie’s parents and helped them (and later Ellie) with several cons over the years.

Now that you’ve met the cast, we should move to the story.  Ellie has spent years on the run from Javier and heads back to her hometown to catch her breath and regroup.  While there she rekindles her friendship with Camden, a former friend from high school.  She realizes something isn’t quite right with his situation and comes to learn of his money laundering.  She decides she wants to help him when Javier comes back into her life in full force.  After a few games of cat and mouse, Ellie is forced back into Javier’s company.  It’s there she learns that the revenge she has yearned for her entire life is in her grasp, as long as she works with Javier.

So why am I telling you about this series? First because there aren’t enough anti-heroes out there.  They need more love and I think this series helps to right that wrong. Second, I just really love the dark, gritty nature of this series.  I found this series at a time I needed a break from the “perfect” nature of romance novels.  I needed flawed characters, the triumph of evil characters, and frankly, chaos.  Halle gave me all that and more in a well-written series, and as a reader it’s my job to share that with you! If you’ve been looking for a series that is totally out of the box, filled with crime, gun fights, hot sex, and car chases The Artists Trilogy is a sure bet.

In (story) chronological order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. On Every Street (Novella) –  3 out of 5 Stars
  2. Sins & Needles – 4 out of 5 Stars
  3. Shooting Scars – 4 out of 5 Stars
  4. Bold Tricks – 4 out of 5 Stars

Series Spotlight: The Beachwood Bay Series by Melody Grace

If you’ve been attempting to start reading books that fall under the New Adult genre listen up, this post is for you.  My latest Series Spotlight is on Melody Grace’s Beachwood Bay series, which currently consists of 2 full length novels and 2 novellas.

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So before I go into what I thought of the books and the series let me just chat about the reading order.  Though the novellas Untouched and Untamed Hearts take place prior to Unbroken and Unafraid, I’d recommend reading them AFTER you read their matching books.  I think you ruin certain elements of the big books by reading the novellas beforehand.  I liked learning about the history of the couples little by little rather than all at once, as the novellas are written.  So, I feel that it would be best to read the series in this order: Unbroken, Untouched, Unafraid, Untamed Hearts. 

Ok, with that out-of-the-way, on to my thoughts!

I really enjoyed Unbroken! It’s full of all the angst and drama that I love.  Not only that but there is also love that is selfless! Can we get more books like that?  A love that allows you to break your own heart, simply because it may be in the best interest of your partner (I know I’m being vague here, but I really can’t ruin Unbroken for you.)  Emerson (the hero of Unbroken) comes off as a major asshole at first.  However, once you understand his backstory and the true reasoning for his actions, I promise you, you’ll look at him in an entirely different light. And Jules? Jules shows us just what grief can do to a person.  Grief stemming from loss and also grief due to lost love.  She’s a really thought-provoking character (especially to anyone out there that has experienced loss and has grieved.)

Untouched was the perfect complement to Unbroken.  We get to experience Emerson and Juliet’s relationship at its beginning, chock-full of the blush of new love and the difficulties they faced due to the differences in their situations.

Unafraid is the story of Emerson’s sister, Brittany, and her beau, Hunter.  Hunter is in Beachwood Bay taking over the horse farm his grandfather left to him (I love him already. Any guy who loves horses? Yee haw!)  He comes from a very well-to-do family who expects him to just get a business degree and go to work in corporate America.  Be the guy who attends cocktail parties and is always “on.”  He has other plans in store, namely running the horse farm, and being with Brit.  In a way Hunter also helps us understand the depths of sorrow a person can feel from grief.  He and Juliet are similar in that way.

Brit on the other hand has dreams of becoming a fashion designer.  She’s trying to escape the small-town life she’s been stuck in, as well as the stigma that having a non-existent father and druggie mom can leave.  She’s pushed down every emotion she’s ever felt and tries to hide it all with meaningless sex.  She’s one of those characters who appears rough and tough on the outside but inside is broken in a million pieces.  Hunter and Brit’s story is all about overcoming the labels that society places on us and allowing one’s true self to overcome all odds.

So, why do I like this series?  First, they are great escapes.  While they are quick reads guaranteed to make you believe in love, they have some depth to them.  Second, I think it’s the characters dealing with grief that struck a chord with me.  As someone who has had their fair share of grief in their life, I know the emotions that grief can cause a person to feel.  To have stories that allow us to see that you can overcome grief and get beyond it? Fabulous.

In (story) chronological order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. Untouched (Novella) – 4 out of 5 Stars
  2. Unbroken – 4 out of 5 Stars
  3. Untamed Hearts (Novella) – 3 out of 5 Stars
  4. Unafraid – 4 out of 5 Stars

Series Spotlight: The Fatal Series by Marie Force

I’ve long been wanting to start a new feature on the blog which spotlights book series that I’ve found and truly enjoyed.  A lot of times I get hooked on a series, find that it’s been out for a while, then binge myself on 5 or 6 books in a row, finding myself totally entranced by the series and author. One such occurrence happened when I found the Fatal series by Marie Force.  Currently 6 books and a novella, the Fatal series is a hybrid of the crime and romance genres.

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The Fatal series follows Sam Holland, a police detective for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C., as well as Nick Cappuano, a chief-of-staff turned Senator.  The two had a memorable one-night stand a few years prior, but they are now brought back into each other’s lives as Nick’s boss, Senator O’Connor, has been murdered.  As the head of the murder investigation, Sam becomes a constant part of Nick’s life again, much to his surprise.  After their one-night stand Nick tried contacting Sam over and over in the hopes of beginning a relationship with her.  Circumstances neither of them could have known about kept them apart, and this reintroduction has begun to rekindle the feelings both have never been able to truly suppress over the years.

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So, why do I love this series? First and foremost, the characters.  Nick is AWESOME.  He’s not threatened by Sam’s powerful career or her need for control.  Nor is he perturbed by the thick armor she wears to deal with the world.  Instead, he pushes her to think in new ways, express her emotions, and allow herself to need those around her.  His love, support, and encouragement help her shed the tremendous amount of stress, guilt, and pressure she’s carried around.  Sam’s an incredible character (AND woman) in her own right.  She’s strong, resilient, intelligent, and powerful.  The two together are awe-inspiring.  They can achieve anything together, as their love truly makes them better, stronger people.

I’m glad that Force chose to have Nick and Sam’s love story spill out over multiple books instead of having everything happen in one.  It makes their relationship and subsequent marriage more believable and realistic.  It also allows their development as a couple, individuals, and professionals  to grow leaps and bounds.

So, what else is so special about this series besides the characters? The non-stop action, for one thing.  Also, the intriguing mysteries!  While Sam and Nick’s love story is the heart of this series, it’s not the main plotline in each book.  The mysteries that Force comes up with are super fascinating, and they take up a good portion of each book, filling out the romantic portions nicely.  It’s obvious she’s a talented writer the more you read of the Fatal series.  Each book will have you guessing from start to finish.

In order (with my ratings) the series is:

  1. Fatal Affair – 5 out of 5 Stars
  2. Fatal Justice – 4 out of 5 Stars
  3. Fatal Consequences – 4 out of 5 Stars
    1. Fatal Destiny (novella) – 5 out of 5 Stars
  4. Fatal Flaw – 3 out of 5 Stars
  5. Fatal Deception – 5 out of 5 Stars
  6. Fatal Mistake – 3 out of 5 Stars

If you’re looking for something new to read that is truly out of the box (I mean come on, murder and romance!?) I suggest giving this series a shot.