Friday, January 17, 2020

Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

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Book 3
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Carina Press – Harlequin

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Ryan Price is a gentle giant. He is 6.7ft and a professional hockey player who sees himself as a guy whose job it is to beat up other guys on the ice. This doesn’t not make him happy. Off the ice he is timid, has low self-esteem, and suffers from crippling social anxiety. Fabian, on the other hand, is out and proud, self-assured, and living the life he wants to live.

Tough Guy is a really lovely romance. It isn’t a perfect or easy and whenever a bump appeared in the road, I was just cheering Fabian and Ryan on, hoping they could work around their problems and be happy together. I love that Ryan isn’t perfect and it is inspiring to see him face his fears. For me, the biggest lesson I got from Tough Guy was that just because you’ve been given what most people think is a great opportunity, doesn’t mean it is the right opportunity for you.

Excellent story and a solid four stars from me.

This is the third book in the series, and is a great addition to the hot hockey player MM romance genre.

Ryan is an enforcer, and a massive figure to be fought whichever team he plays for... but he is pretty fed up with constantly moving, with having to drop his gloves and hurt players all the time. He also has a bad reputation for not getting close to his teammates. His Toronto coach has said this needs to improve, so he is even more stressed than usual. Even though he is on medication due to anxiety and getting counselling, he still hates flying, which is not good for an NHL hockey player. Life is not great really at all.

A chance encounter in a drug store with his first ever crush, Fabian, gives us an absolutely gorgeous story. Fabian is as flamboyant as Ryan is big and burly; Fabian is a fine-boned musician who is about to make it big with his unique solo music style, whereas Ryan is thinking of quitting his career. But somehow together they smooth out the edges, give confidence, and most of all, find love.

Along the way we get to enjoy Ryan actually making a friend on his team, and having the interest of his team as he provides them with baked goods. Fabian's friends, who enjoy supporting him and indulge in bargain brunche,s are also important in supporting these two men as they come to terms with how their futures will work.

I loved this story, the honesty of Ryan and the problems that he had, especially with his stress and anxiety.

Spoiler-Free Review

Tough Guy is the third installment in the Game Changers series, and can easily be read as a standalone with little to no confusion, featuring a cameo by past narrators.

Right off the bat, I need to confess that Ryan's anxiety resonated with me deeply, which made me root for him, even if he was standoffish with his teammates and pretty brutal on the ice as an enforcer, even if it went against his natural teddy bear disposition. Ryan was a ticking time-bomb of stress, with the extra pressure of his coach riding his butt on his behavior.

In walks Fabian back into Ryan's life, just as that last thread is about to snap, in a second-chance romantic entanglement with Ryan's first crush, who just so happens to loathe hockey.

The indie musician versus the hockey enforcer, opposites attract yet also seem to balance each other emotionally, creating a quick, heartwarming novel that offered some much-needed escapism this afternoon. Another layer was the friendships shared with Fabian and Ryan, lending the warm and fuzzies.

Why not 5 stars?

The pacing slowed in places, where I felt my mind wandering, struggling to skip a few passages of redundant inner monologues. While I loved the characters, understood how they fit well with one another, I just didn't feel a push-pull spark of attraction that held my attention. There was also a lack of 'hockey' in this hockey romance.

To be honest, of the three novels in this series, this wasn't my favorite. I devoured the first two, where I just couldn't get enough. However, I do believe it was a worthy addition to the series and look forward to more in the future.

Also Available in the Game Changers Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Game Changer post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Heated Rivalry post.

Rachel Reid has always lived in Nova Scotia, Canada, and will likely continue to do so. She has two boring degrees and two interesting sons. She has been a hockey fan since childhood, but sadly never made it to the NHL herself. She enjoys books about hot men doing hot things, and cool ladies being awesome.

Connect with Rachel

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Tough Guy (Game Changers #3) by Rachel Reid to read and review.

The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz

From New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz comes a gripping new romantic suspense trilogy fraught with danger and enigma.

Decades ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, The Incident occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases. The residents slept for two days. When they woke up they discovered that things had changed—they had changed. Some started having visions. Others heard ominous voices. And then, scientists from a mysterious government agency arrived. Determined not to become research subjects of strange experiments, the residents of Fogg Lake blamed their “hallucinations” on food poisoning, and the story worked. But now it has become apparent that the eerie effects of The Incident are showing up in the descendants of Fogg Lake…

Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair, best friends and co-owners of an investigation firm in Seattle, use what they call their “other sight” to help solve cases. When Olivia suddenly vanishes one night, Cat frantically begins the search for her friend. No one takes the disappearance seriously except Slater Arganbright, an agent from a shadowy organization known only as the Foundation, who shows up at her firm with a cryptic warning.

A ruthless killer is hunting the only witnesses to a murder that occurred in the Fogg Lake caves fifteen years ago—Catalina and Olivia. And someone intends to make both women vanish.

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Book 1
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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Here goes my woefully ineloquent review… I flipping LOVED this book!!! I read The Vanishing in one day, finishing it four days ago and still can’t quite figure out what to say. I’ll start by saying I went into the book kinda blind. I recall skimming the description several months ago when requesting a review copy, but I didn’t reread it before starting the book this past weekend and I’m glad I didn’t because now that I’ve read the description again, I think the suspense factor was upped significantly since I didn’t know what to expect at all.  

To start, I grew up with a grandfather who had a strong belief in the supernatural, especially psychic phenomena. So for me, the residents of Fogg Lake quickly became “real” people. I was invested in their lives, curious as to how The Incident had forced the small town of Fogg Lake to become so insular, and I needed to know whether their paranoia was baseless or well earned. After all, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean no one’s out to get you. And in Olivia and Catalina’s case, they had even more reason to be paranoid than they realized. What they didn’t know was who they could trust. And that’s the crux of the story… who can Catalina turn to when her best friend Olivia is kidnapped? The government? The Foundation? The Vortex? The residents of Fogg Lake? Her own memories and gift? How do you keep your friends close and your enemies closer when you’re not sure who is who? Add to that a love interest who not only understands and accepts her gift but also possesses a few secrets of his own, and Catalina finds herself not only fighting for her life and Olivia’s but also for a future she stopped hoping for years ago.

Oddly enough – and this is going to sound like a complaint – it seemed as though the book just would not end. I don’t mean that the story kept dragging on, but rather that Krentz passed up several potential stopping points that could have been cliffhangers in order to wrap up unresolved threads from the storyline. I’d get to the end of a storyline, assume answers to the remaining questions would be revealed in the next novel, only to turn the page and embark upon a series of events that would tie up another thread. It was a reader’s dream. The only part that didn’t feel organic was the final look at Catalina and Slater’s relationship. That actually felt like an editor insisted that readers deserved to see more development and so Krentz indulged the editor. As much as I enjoyed seeing their next step, I would have happily waited for book two to get a glimpse into their relationship progression. Of course, that assumes future installments will provide continued updates on the couple. Either way, I’ll be over here patiently awaiting book two’s release, hopefully by this time next year.

It is easy to tell that The Vanishing is the first book because there are times when this is just an information dump. A lot of time is spent giving us parts of the history of Fogg lake, the characters and organisations involved in their lives. As someone who is not a big reader of paranormal stories, I actually appreciated the information dump because it helped me get a grasp on what was going on.

The story mystery-wise was really good. Catalina’s best friend and business partner, Olivia, is kidnapped and with the help of Slater, from the paranormal organisation called the Foundation, they work together to find Olivia which inevitably leads back to Catalina’s hometown of Fogg Lake. The mystery was definitely my favourite part of the story and Fogg Lake is an interesting place.

Catalina and Slater spend an intense few days together and romance develops. I’m happy that there was romance, and I liked it even though it isn’t particularly well developed. The romance is pretty straight forward.

I found The Vanishing entertaining and a good start to a new series. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for future books from the Fogg Lake series.

Jayne Ann Krentz is the author of fifty New York Times bestsellers. She has written contemporary romantic suspense novels under that name, as well as futuristic and historical romance novels under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick, respectively. She lives in Seattle.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Vanishing (Fogg Lake #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz to read and review.

Behind the Stick by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn

Love, served behind the stick.

Kyle McKee lives a charmed life. He co-owns Under, an uptown speakeasy, where he is chief mixologist. Friends poke fun at Kyle’s tiny one-bed apartment in Chelsea, but they’re the best support system a man could ask for. Unfortunately, Kyle’s lackluster love life has led him to take a break from dating.

Harlem resident Luka Clarke is a lieutenant with Engine 47, the Pride of Morningside, where he carries on his father’s legacy with the FDNY. Luka, who is mixed race and bisexual, has his eye on Kyle, whom he met at a local burger joint and he just needs to make time to visit Kyle’s bar.

Before work one evening, Kyle is trapped inside the luncheonette when a fire breaks out. Luka’s firehouse answers the call and he connects with Kyle again under the most unexpected of circumstances. When Kyle gratefully invites Luka and the firehouse squad to Under, the flirting between the two men leads to a date.

Kyle and Luka quickly grow close, but Luka’s mother and sister distrust Kyle for being both white and gay. Luka believes his family will come around and accept Kyle in the end, but Kyle is not optimistic and hides his disquiet as attraction blossoms into love.

Kyle and Luka’s near-idyllic bubble is shattered one evening after a hate crime leaves them scarred, inside and out. Shaken, they put on a strong front but struggle inwardly against fear and personal demons. As the emotions seething beneath the surface finally come to a head, both men must decide if they have the strength to find love enough to conquer hate.

Reader advisory: This book contains references to non-nurturing parenting; homophobia; racism and racist slurs. There are references to recreational drug use. This book also contains scenes of mmmm ménage and characters caught in fire.

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Book 3
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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Pride Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the third book in the series, but I must admit my first. I will be going back and catching up on the other two romances, as even though I know the outcome, I have little doubt the journey was an adventure worth reading! I did not feel a lack of understanding for having read this first.

In a brilliant move, this book combines the New York world of sexy bar owner with a penchant for designing clever cocktails, and a firefighter working nearby. It works so well, giving us the decadent atmosphere of the Speakeasy called Under, and the peril and responsibility of saving lives. It also deals with a white man being attracted to biracial man, one of whom is gay, the other bi; a family who are everything, and one who has just a brother.

But at its heart, this is a romance between two people who find that they are it for each other, if only the issues of the world could let them be... and if they don't, are they strong enough to love more than leave?

I really loved every minute of the book – beautifully written, so that I was nearly halfway through before I even raised my head for air! It is incredibly engaging, moving, and full of questions that we should all ask ourselves about acceptance, perception, and expectations. So don't expect a free ride, you will get involved and soon be fighting in their corner too.

I really recommend this book as a force for good, in a world which needs reminding of how life is still not easy for everyone.

K. Evan Coles

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

Connect with K.

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K’s Whiskey Words Café Facebook Group

Brigham Vaughn

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time author. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.

To stay up to date on her latest releases, sign up for the
Coles & Vaughn Newsletter.

Connect with Brigham

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Brigham’s Book Nerds Facebook Group

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Behind the Stick (The Speakeasy #3) by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn to read and review.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation.

Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp.

Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret... and it could demolish everything.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Avon – HarperCollins

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the second book in the series – I have to admit that I have not yet read book one, but having enjoyed this one, I plan on going back. It is about another couple, who we do meet here, but I did not feel I was missing anything crucial.

As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I was hooked. It takes a completely different tack on the average romance, by looking at a couple who had it all, married, and now are just living separate lives. Yet once a week they come together for an incredible night of passion, before returning to the bland and banal. Their clear chemistry, but controlled once a week only release is confusing to the reader, and even more so to them.

As we watch them fall apart, yet still clearly have elements of love which remain, it is fascinating to understand just how far a misunderstanding of what is important can cause a rift. I enjoyed getting both sides of the story, and the hippy counsellor is hilarious and yet effective.

There are some funny bits, but mostly this is a book of deep ingrained duty and miscommunicated needs. It is rather lovely and moving, and it would be impossible not to wish that Dominic doesn't win back his fair lady.

P.S. – Whilst I am not sure that reading this would cause someone to revive a flagging relationship, it may give some people enough courage to discuss some of the things which trouble them, using the book as a starting point.

New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans, and laptop, and drove cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend, and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.

She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband and daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.

Connect with Tessa

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2) by Tessa Bailey to read and review.

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new psychological thriller examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to in order to protect their secrets.

Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond.

But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder.

When a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely… because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

Don’t miss this fast-paced suspense story from New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison!

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a fabulously creepy story. It’s a story about the students and staff at a prestigious boarding school for girls. The school has a dark history, but the secrets kept by the students are even darker.

The story is told from multiple perspectives which can be a bit bewildering. Especially when readers are fully aware that some – or possibly all – of the narration is decidedly unreliable. I found it impossible to feel any sort of empathy for any of the characters and even after I’d finished the book, I still wasn’t sure if any of the characters had been telling their truth.

The book is a puzzle and it requires careful reading. I really enjoyed piecing together all of the clues and examining the characters’ relationships. I don’t think the author really nailed the English content, but I’m sure American readers won’t notice. It’s a scary read – the body count starts early and there’s a claustrophobic sense of time running out that made me race through to the end. I loved the psychology and the suspense and I’m too scared of spoilers to write anything else at all about this book!

This is a book which leaves you pondering for a long while after – as well as being confounding whilst reading. There are layers and layers of deceit, intrigue, guile, and guilt. Some bits I worked out fairly quickly, only for a new perspective to make me doubt myself, before finally, I think, finding out that I was correct, albeit for the wrong reason. I enjoyed the weird and wild world of the Goode School and its inhabitants, although we never really got to know anything for sure!

If you enjoy a mystery, then this is one wrapped up in a strange, spooky school for clever young ladies, where a new student sets off a chain of events, the likes have never been seen before... although, maybe that is just what they would have you believe!

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A Word on Words, Nashville's premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Connect with J.T.

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
J.T. Ellison's Literati Facebook Group

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison to read and review.

The Lonely Dad's Guide to Love by Reanna Pryce

Alex has been a single father to his son Dexter since his ex-girlfriend walked out and left him, quite literally, holding the baby. Just twenty-two and struggling to make ends meet, nothing means more to Alex than his son. Not even falling in love with Daniel, the handsome preschool teacher at Dexter’s daycare.

Danny seems to adore Dexter just as much as he adores Alex, but the threats from Alex's past make it impossible for them to be together. Luckily, Danny specializes in impossible situations. He'll do whatever it takes to give the three of them a chance to finally be a family... But will that be enough?

Add to Goodreads –

Book 1
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B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo  ~  Smashwords

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Alex is a single dad. His son, Dexter, lives with him most of the time, only seeing his mom every other weekend. Alex has done everything he can to raise his son. He's given up school, works two jobs, and he's barely making ends meet, but he doesn't care, it's what he has to do for Dexter. He's also given up part of who he is. He's bisexual and Dexter's mother is holding that against him, saying she will take Dexter away if he is with a man. He's a good dad and he deserves to be happy too, right?

When he enrolls Dexter in a daycare so he can work during the day, he meets a few other dads and Danny, one of the instructors. Danny isn't anything like he expects him to be but there is an attraction there he can't deny. Is he willing to lose his son to be happy? Can he make it all work, or will it blow up in his face?

I really like the premise of this story. It did at times have me laughing and brought tears to my eyes at others. The reason for my three-star rating is the confusing writing that would completely pull me out of the story to re-read sentences or paragraphs. It did become very distracting at times.

This book was really hard for me to get through. I found myself bored at times and just wanting the story to be done with. Alex should have just been upfront with Danny from day one and half the drama wouldn't have happened that did happen. Alex's ex, Becca, is a huge shrew and she lives up to that too, definitely not a character that will get any love. Dexter is such a great addition to the story, what a little cutie. I am sure some will love this book but for me, I was just frustrated at all the drama and whatnot. Plus, Alex sometimes came off as an idiot and I know he wasn't.

I have to say that this book really didn’t work for me. It’s way too cute, way too domestic, and the central conflict didn’t make any sense at all to me.

As a disclaimer, I usually avoid romances involving babies, but I liked the idea of Alex as a struggling musician. But we don't get much of musician Alex in this book and quite honestly, I probably shouldn’t have requested this one. Readers who love babies and sexy, child-centred men will probably swoon over the gorgeous daycare worker and the very young single father.

Regardless of my reading preferences, the cute dad and the sexy daycare worker are the highlight of the story. I couldn’t engage with the fantastical storyline around Alex’s ex-girlfriend. I still don’t understand why Danny was babysitting for free. And the baby scenes were pretty tedious. The writing is choppy enough that I found myself distracted a few times. This wasn’t a great fit for me – I hope other readers enjoy it more.

When she’s not reading or writing steamy romantic fiction, you can find Reanna bouncing between swimming, boy scouts and book club. She’s living her very own happily ever after in the north-east of England with her husband, two (mostly) adorable boys and a collection of pets she did not ask for.

A writer of romantic fiction for fifteen years, Reanna writes strong, compelling characters who stay with you long after you turn the last page. From the glamour of the music industry to at-home single dads, no plot goes unexplored once her muse takes hold.

Connect with Reanna

Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Lonely Dad's Guide to Love (Sex and the Single Dad #1) by Reanna Pryce to read and review.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris

#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris returns with the second of the Gunnie Rose series, in which Lizbeth is hired onto a new crew, transporting a crate into Dixie, the self-exiled southeast territory of the former United States. What the crate contains is something so powerful, that forces from across three territories want to possess it.

In this second thrilling installment of the Gunnie Rose series, Lizbeth Rose is hired onto a new crew for a seemingly easy protection job, transporting a crate into Dixie, just about the last part of the former United States of America she wants to visit. But what seemed like a straight-forward job turns into a massacre as the crate is stolen. Up against a wall in Dixie, where social norms have stepped back into the last century, Lizbeth has to go undercover with an old friend to retrieve the crate as what’s inside can spark a rebellion, if she can get it back in time.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse mysteries and Midnight, Texas trilogy) is at her best here, building the world of this alternate history of the United States, where magic is an acknowledged but despised power.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 2
Buy Links

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Simon & Schuster

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 Intriguing Stars

Spoiler-Free Review

A Longer Fall is the second installment in the Gunnie Rose series, and cannot be read as a standalone without massive confusion, as it's a true continuation.

I must admit, I struggled with An Easy Death, but the issues I had weren't as present in A Longer Fall. I gave the continuation a chance because I was intrigued by such an original story, crossing my fingers that it was the first book curse. Sometimes if the first book is amazing, it's hard for the second to live up to the expectations. Sometimes when the first book is so-so, the continuation rocks me off my feet. The latter is what happened in this case.

Gunnie Rose has a dystopian feel, in regards to the US falling and being split up and taken over by several nations. Set in the depression era, with civil rights and women's rights issues from the time making a heavy presence in the series. This is set to the backdrop of Russian magic users to add a paranormal twist.

The pacing was rapid this go around, exciting and thrilling, without being slowed by too much inane information – there is still quite a bit of everyday events, but it added more to the story than taking it away, as previously.

Read in two sittings, I didn't want to put A Longer Fall down, when I struggled to stay interested in the previous installment. Lizbeth finds an unexpected ally in Dixie, as she tries to protect, then reclaim a crate she was employed to protect.

Never get too attached to characters, as they might not be long for this world. Expect Lizbeth to be the gunnie she was born to be, shooting and asking questions later. The survivalist. Expect betrayals, assassination attempts, and high-stress situations. If racism and misogyny are hard for you to swallow, the historical accuracy of Dixie was difficult to read but well written.

There is more emotion this time around, as Lizbeth showed rare bursts of insecurity and her strong need for connection with Eli. These moments of humanity were what was missing from the debut in the series, creating a more well-rounded Lizbeth Rose.

By the end of the novel, I sat there for a few minutes, wishing upon wishing I had the third installment, needing to know what happens next.

Highly recommended to Charlaine Harris fans, and those looking for something highly original and intriguing. My advice, An Easy Death was a hard book to enjoy. Stick with it, then grab A Longer Fall – you won't be disappointed in the amazing shift from book to book.

I love Charlaine Harris’ imagination and this series is quite possibly the most original – and most bizarre – of all the weird and wonderful worlds Harris has written. I’m still not quite sure I understand exactly where and when these books are set but the dystopian alternate reality is fabulous. I fell hard for Lizbeth Rose and her altered reality and I really loved this story.

I’m equal parts in love with and completely confused by the setting of this story. The Dixie where Lizbeth’s train crashes is definitely Southern but it exists outside of time. I can’t quite explain it – I’m not sure the actual novel fully manages to explain Dixie – but it’s an oppressive, backwards, and claustrophobic place that Lizbeth finds herself trapped in.

Lizbeth herself will feel more familiar to longstanding Harris fans. Despite her violent profession, Lizbeth is a mannered and moral Southern lady and I love the many conflicting elements of her character.

I love the way fantasy characters are gently mixed into this already dystopian world. This is a world where wizards and Russian Tsars are somehow part of a dis-United States and somehow it all works.

I have to say that I should have started this series at the beginning. Nothing is explained or recapped at the start of this second book, so my head was completely spinning for the first few chapters. I eventually caught up but I’m sure I’m still missing parts of the story. Readers need to start with the first book, which hopefully offers more of an introduction to this weird and wonderful world.

Charlaine Harris is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse and Midnight, Texas, fantasy/mystery series and the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series. Her books have inspired HBO’s True Blood, NBC’s Midnight, Texas, and the Aurora Teagarden movies for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. She has lived in the South her entire life.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of A Longer Fall (Gunnie Rose #2) by Charlaine Harris to read and review.