Friday, January 18, 2019

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones

Grim Reaper Charley Davidson is back in the final installment of Darynda Jones’ New York Times bestselling paranormal series—Summoned to Thirteenth Grave.

Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire, is pissed. She’s been kicked off the earthly plane for eternity –which is exactly the amount of time it takes to make a person stark, raving mad. But someone’s looking out for her, and she’s allowed to return after a mere hundred years in exile. Is it too much to hope for that not much has changed? Apparently it is. Bummer.

She’s missed her daughter. She’s missed Reyes. She’s missed Cookie and Garrett and Uncle Bob. But now that she’s back on earth, it’s time to put to rest burning questions that need answers. What happened to her mother? How did she really die? Who killed her? And are cupcakes or coffee the best medicine for a broken heart? It all comes to a head in an epic showdown between good and evil in this final smart and hilarious novel.

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Book 13
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I can’t quite believe this is the end. I think the series is ready to end but I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye. As a final story, this is one of the most exciting in the series. The farewells in this book made me cry but a few of the twists really didn’t sit well with me. I like the slightly ambiguous ending – though it might have been a bit more clear if I hadn’t blubbered through the last twenty pages.

Charley and Reyes finally feel like grownups in this book and they finally feel like a solid partnership. And there’s even a couple of scenes where they actually feel like parents. It probably shouldn’t have taken thirteen books to get to this point, but they are good together here. The goodbyes to the rest of the characters are a little bit easier because of all the prophecies about Beep and her army. I may have cried with each goodbye but I’m still holding out for Beep’s spinoff series.

The supernatural elements of this series have been getting stranger and stranger with each book. This time, I feel like things are a bit simpler. Charley and Reyes have to stop the demons who are taking over their city. Demons that Reyes created and Charley let loose when she freed Reyes from the god glass. There are still a few too many WTF moments that I refuse to analyse too closely, but this is a more streamlined story than the last few books.

There are a few elements of this story that still don’t sit well with me. But after binge reading the series over a couple of months, I will admit that I’m probably way too invested in this series and these characters. Charley’s banishment is a complete disappointment. It feels like a repeat of Reyes’ God Glass excursion in the previous book and aside from providing Charley with material for new jokes, it doesn’t add much to the series storyline. Just as disappointing are the revelations about Uncle Bob in this story. We learn things about him in this book that contradict everything we’ve know about him from the start of the series.

So, I have a few reservations about this final book but I still found it difficult to say goodbye to Charley and her allies. This feels more coherent and more carefully constructed than some of the most recent books in the series. I’ve enjoyed these characters and after thirteen books I’m still enjoying the author’s fresh take on Urban Fantasy writing. I can’t wait to read what Darynda Jones writes next.

I'm super sad that this is the last book in the series. I have grown to love the gang and Charley’s wisecracking ways. I will truly miss them.

I think Summoned to the Thirteenth Grave has finished the series perfectly.

Of course in the series there is always a secret or two that needs revealed, and since Charley is a multitasker, she deals with all this while trying to save the world.

For me, I felt this book was an emotional rollercoaster, maybe because I was preparing myself to say goodbye to a bunch of characters I truly love.

I just loved this book, just as much as I have loved the rest of the series.

It's always bittersweet to reach the end of a beloved series, it's difficult to say goodbye to characters that you've come to love. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end! Book #13 (fitting!) in the Charley Davidson series was the perfect conclusion to an imperfect series.

While many questions were answered and surprises revealed, there were also little things that weren't fully resolved. I can only hope for a spin-off, as I need to see what happens with Beep in the future.

I found myself very emotional throughout the book: laughing at the interactions, crying at times, floored at others, nervous about the outcome, and truly upset this is over.

I don't want to say goodbye to everyone, but it's time for the story to end. I was satisfied with the ending, but always want more!

This is the thirteenth and (sob sob) final book in the series. I have read them all over the last couple of months and have no doubt that they will join my series-to-be-reread list, because sometimes rereading after knowing the ending can make subtle points clearer... not that Charley is renowned for subtle, to be fair!

I cannot spoil the story, so really just want to reassure the ardent fan that this most definitely needs reading, and the newcomer should scoot straight off and start at the beginning, or be endlessly confused (and miss out!). It was great to see how each character had developed and become someone of importance to the team and to us – and yes, there are a few punches still to be pulled, so be ready! There are both earthly and supernatural events for Charley and Co. to engage with, and her humour is somewhat tested as she has to stop some even more bad things from happening.

I kind of hope that there are spin-offs from this series, as I have hugely enjoyed the crazy – and all the chapter sayings – but at the same time, I will be happy with Darynda Jones bringing a whole new world to light.

Also Available in the Charley Davidson Series
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Darynda Jones is the winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Novel for her manuscript First Grave on the Right. Darynda can't remember a time when she wasn't putting pen to paper. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than twenty-five years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Summoned to Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson #13) by Darynda Jones to read and review.

Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt Blog Tour

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Trigger warning: this book talks about cheating but it wasn't done during the story and no details were given. Rhys and Derek do reference the cheating a lot in the book.

I did hate how we never found out why Rhys cheated, I felt like I was missing something. I felt for Derek the entire book. I cried for him because I could feel his pain and hurt, and even his love still for Rhys. I did like how Rhys owned his mistake and gave no excuses, but it hurt me as much as it did Derek for some reason. I seriously felt like I was there with these guys. This was a good book that I am sure some people have gone through in real life. I just wish I hadn't teared up so much. LOL

When we meet Derek and Rhys, the couple has already split but are living in the matrimonial home because they can’t afford to live separately. We know that Rhys had a one-night stand and confessed to Derek straight away. For Derek, cheating is a hard limit and it means the end of their marriage. The men agree to keep their split on the down low and not tell their daughter so that they don’t spoil her wedding. They then head off on what they expect to be a very uncomfortable a road trip to attend the wedding.

This story is very emotional. My heart hurt for Derek. He did nothing wrong and has had his world turned upside down. He didn’t deserve to be cheated on. What I didn’t expect was how much my heart hurt for Rhys. I didn’t think I’d be able to empathise with a character who cheated but I did. It didn’t take long to realise that Rhys was beating himself up more over his actions more than anyone ever could. I wanted to take their pain away.

Is It Over Yet? is not all doom and gloom. There are some lovely sweet moments, some really hot moments, and even some happiness. I revelled in the difficult emotions this story elicited and I was left wondering, if my partner cheated would I be able to take him back or would it be a deal breaker?

I've never read a book like Is It Over Yet? This was a first for me. I've never read a book that starts with the drama of a break up. I loved seeing how the pieces fell and what Rhys and Derek did and said to try to get back to a place where they both love each other.

Rhys cheated on his husband, Derek. They weren't in a good place when he did it. He knew he was wrong and confessed to Derek what he did. Derek, in turn, went out and cheated to level the field. With the financial situation they were in, they weren't in a place to move out. They are angry and awkward, sharing the house and no one but close friends know what's going on. They find out their daughter is getting married. They both agree to put on a united front for the wedding and put their issues to the side. For a while they get back to the place they once were and one drunken night leads to them sharing a bed, but those feelings of hurt and betrayal aren't out of Derek's mind for long. They try to be civil for the wedding, but an emotional moment leads to their daughter finding out her dads are separating.

Can they make it through the actual wedding day without fighting? Will those loving feelings override the hurt Rhys caused? Can Derek ever take Rhys back and trust him?

I enjoyed this book. Like I said, it was a completely different read for me. At times I wanted to hit both the main characters, but I loved how the story played out. I was brought to tears more than once. Overall, a very good read.

This is definitely a book which makes you think. How would you act if you were in the same situation – either in Rhys or Derek's position? Would you be so certain that there was no way to resolve things; would you lie to your adult daughter; would you lose years of solidity and love due to a mistake?

I think many readers will find the scenario quite moving and question what is the right course of action. We get a lot of inner voice, so we know what the guys are thinking. Derek is the one who has a breakthrough, when he realises that he won't let one mistake ruin everything. But I am not certain that his decision is wise, even if it is loving.

An interesting read which I had to digest before I could consider reviewing it – and you might be right if you think I am still somewhat uncertain!

Is It Over Yet? was an impossible book to read without feeling gutted for one reason or another. I must admit before I write my review that I am slightly biased, as I ended a 20-year marriage, one of the reasons due to infidelity. Nor did I completely blame my ex for our split, as I have flaws I've worked very hard to change. Not only that, I left my ex, came back six weeks later, then tried for 10 months to rebuild what he had torn apart, only to realize there was no fix when the one who broke us apart didn't truly feel responsible.

The entire premise is between Derek and Rhys, keeping their split from their daughter until after her wedding. While this is logical, it also made me feel as if they didn't believe her mature enough to handle the truth, finding it insulting from the perspective of a daughter.

This is one of the more human novels I’ve read, where actions and reactions were definitely based in human nature, so I applaud the author, no matter how difficult it was to read. Both of them got in their own ways, but not in a manufactured fashion.

I may see this from a different perspective than many readers, having been down this road before, not just as a wounded party, but one who gave my ex another chance he squandered.

If they don't earn it, show actual emotional growth, they will treat you worse, as you now have zero self-respect for taking them back, where they will not respect you. Until both parties admit their part, it will never work.

I don't believe Rhys truly grasped how life-altering his actions were for Derek, so I didn't believe he earned forgiveness.

I felt Rhys said all the right things, but during his inner monologue, I couldn't empathize/sympathize/or feel compassion for him. I spent most of the novel trying to be even, pass no judgment, and try to see it from both of their perspectives. But when Rhys kept saying how he would one day find love again (grass is always greener, which is why he cheated in the first place – while not said out loud, it felt vaguely threatening, as if Derek didn't put up with his bs, he would find someone who would), or how he messed up or made a mistake, I was livid. I wanted so badly to feel for both of them, but these insensitive inner thoughts ruined it for me.

Rhys loved his husband, but four times mentioned to himself how he'd find love again, instead of putting in even an ounce of effort to save what he destroyed. Basically, the novel was about wearing Derek down until he gave Rhys forgiveness he didn't deserve, destroying his self-worth and self-respect.

Why do I believe that, instead of what was on the surface that everyone else is seeing?

Mistake. An accident. Messed up. Those are things people say when they AREN'T taking responsibility for their actions, said countless times both to himself and to others. What I needed from my ex, I didn't get from Rhys either. Saying you're sorry and asking for forgiveness isn't the same as actually proving you are sorry.

Numerous times, Rhys used MISTAKE, AN ACCIDENT, MESSED UP (also in curse form).

Rhys didn't make a mistake. Over dozens upon dozens of choices, he made the decision to do the act of infidelity. It isn't one choice (a mistake) that lands him in someone else's bed, but dozens before, during, and after the act. Each decision was another opportunity to stop. He called his husband, told him he was sleeping at a friend's house, then purposefully cheated on him. That is not a mistake, nor an accident, nor messing up. That is premeditated harming of your marriage and spouse, whether it be from self-destructive behavior or issues within the marriage.

There isn't a person on this planet who doesn't realize what cheating does to all parties involved – it is one of the most self-involved acts, which affected everyone involved, an act that has nothing to do with the parties being injured, outside of destroying them and their way of life.

All Rhys did was act like the martyr, saying he loved Derek, yet did NOTHING to actually show him. He whined about what he would have to do to fix it, admitting he was the one who broke it. Yet didn't realize how it looked from his ex's perspective. The cheating was the ultimate of rejection, then can't figure out why Derek wouldn't just 'give in' and admit they love each other and give him another chance. He expected it to just drop into his lap, after taking more effort into cheating than he did into the aftermath.

"I deserve it" isn't the same as giving the one you harmed closure, admitting that those choices made were with complete and total disregard to the pain he knew it would inflict. Admit to being selfish, self-destructive, and self-absorbed enough to not give two craps about the pain you're inflicting, or admit you're inflicting pain on purpose, not trivialize it by saying it happened and he can't change it, even if he wanted, so why bother apologizing again. Listening to his husband's voice while lying to him on the phone, then sleeping with another.

Sorry. Not sorry.

Many readers will see this differently than me...

Not once did Rhys show in his inner monologue that he got it.

Regret? Yes.

Wished he didn't do it? Yes.

If anything, Rhys acted as his own victim.

As for the daughter, it annoyed me how she wasn't told the whole of the truth. As he told her about making vows to her on his own wedding day, if he could break vows to her father, he could so easily break them to her. That's why infidelity is seen as cheating on the family, not just the spouse. So, while this was a teary-eyed emotional scene for me, I felt it disingenuous coming from him, when he was more worried about being a martyr and his own victim, than admitting that he hurt his husband and daughter with purpose.

Until Rhys admitted every choice he made was with complete and total knowledge of how much it would harm his husband and daughter, he doesn't deserve to be forgiven.

Do people make mistakes? Yes.

Can a marriage survive? Yes, but only if that one condition above is met, which it was not.

Derek gave in due to 'We love each other' and Rhys may or may not have learned anything, because he still sees it as a mistake, not a conscious decision on his part to do harm.

Kudos to the author for writing something so authentically, realistically messy, mirroring real life and how we act/react to this emotionally crippling event.

Do I believe in the resolution? NO, because all Rhys learned was to look contrite long enough, Derek will be a doormat and forgive him, no matter what, because they love one another. If Rhys loved Derek and their daughter enough, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. If he understood the gravity of his actions, he would admit he cheated with full knowledge of how painful it would be for Derek and their daughter. THAT is how he would learn and be given forgiveness.

When I saw the line, "He messed (curse form) up once." It killed me for Derek and every other victim of infidelity out there. No, Rhys didn't mess up once. He made dozens of choices before he cheated. The main act may have been once, but it wasn't ONCE. Every time he followed along that path, he was making another decision to cause pain and destroy their marriage. He may not do it again but justifying this lessens self-worth.

We are worth enough to expect better out of those who say they love us. Until that happens, there's an imbalance in the relationship.

Quote: inserting 'messed up' for the profanity, since this was also used many times too.

"Rhys had messed up by going to bed with that guy. Was I also messing up by letting that one mistake end our marriage?"

No, Derek is messing up by honestly minimizing this to 'one' when it was many choices for one major act. But that's about as realistic as it gets, isn't it? It's why I went back, because I loved him, but his actions are proof he didn't love me. I'm far too cynical not to be triggered by this novel and see it as a second-chance easily taken for granted since no TRUE closure was given, ignoring due to love is not a fix.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don't tell Lauren. And definitely don't tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut...

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt to read and review for this tour.

The One You Fight For by Roni Loren

How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life's work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan...

Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother's horrific actions. After losing everything—his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity—he's changed his name, his look, and he's finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?

When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy...
How do you find your happy ending?

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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The One You Fight For is the third installment in The Ones Who Got Away series and I suggest reading in series order. While there would be little to no confusion reading as a standalone, the necessary backstory would add value to the character growth and emotional punch.

Taryn is the studious friend, the reserved one, who places her research above living life, as she's trying to honor her lost sister. Survivors of a school shooting, the series revolves around a decade later, how the survivors are dealing in the aftermath. Taryn took a different approach than the two previous heroines by trying to create a system to help those who are at risk of becoming future shooters.

This is the first glimpse we get of the shooter's family. Shaw is the older brother, hiding out by changing his name and keeping a low profile. While he may not have been in the school that night, he's had a time of it, his life ruined as the public saw him as evil as well. The rage over what happened bubbled over, adding to the 'evil' persona the press gave him.

A chance meeting draws Taryn and Shaw together, neither knowing how they connected to one another. What I appreciated the most, when Shaw figured it out, he told Taryn straight away. No miscommunication or evasion, all mature adult.

Banterific, filled with flirty, slow-burn interactions, with an intense connection easily felt by the reader. The romance is organic, flowing fluidly during everyday interactions as the couple comes together, while working through their wounds and finding the life they've suppressed due to survivor's guilt. The angst of it all was how Taryn lost her sister at the hand of Shaw's brother, while Shaw is willing to do anything to stay in hiding. Taryn is a bit clinical and cerebral, dampening the emotions, while Shaw is a stew of insecurities and self-loathing. But they do balance each other out, bringing long-ignored qualities to the surface.

They both hurt, so there is a hurt-comfort vibe as they come together.

While I loved the novel, found the pacing quick and easily to digest, there were a few instances where it dragged with redundant inner monologue. Another issue for me, while I love how the women have come together to support and empower each other, it was slightly difficult for me when all four of the women were in the same scene together. This was even worse when other characters were on-scene and creating dialogue. It felt chaotic, along with the intelligence level/mentality lowering to that of teenage girls, instead of professional, grown women.

In past novels, I enjoyed their banter, but this felt a bit thick and forced, with a slightly juvenile bent, in juxtaposition to Taryn's cerebral narration it was jarring.

I highly recommend to fans of contemporary romance and the author. I look forward to the next installment, beyond curious to see the direction the series will take.

Also Available in The Ones Who Got Away Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check out our The Ones Who Got Away post.

Book 2
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For reviews & more info, check out our The One You Can't Forget post.

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away #3) by Roni Loren to read and review.

Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter

Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth.

When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.

Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.

Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

5 Surprised Stars.

As a huge fan of Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series, I was hesitant to begin this sister series for reasons I cannot fathom. Blood of the Earth is the first in the Soulwood series and can be read independently of the Jane Yellowrock series without any confusion. There are mentions of events, which happened in the Jane Yellowrock series, but enough information was given to clear up the whole of the events, without info-dumpage.

Ricky. Ricky. Ricky. The reader gets the absent from the Jane Yellowrock ex-boyfriend Ricky in the Soulwood series, and that makes it completely worth it.

I want to applaud Faith Hunter for creating two completely unique, independent, original heroines in Jane and Nell. One of my fears was simply that they would sound similar, the writer's voice, but other than an independent streak and a need to protect, Jane and Nell have nothing in common.

Nell is an ex-member of a cult-like church that engages in polygamy, with its core tenet as women being a helpmate to the men in their lives, with zero autonomy. Nell legally married an older man (which is not done in the church, as the church legally owns all assets upon death), who also defected from the church with a wife he married via the church. After his first wife died, Nell then nursed her husband through his own bout of illness, which left her as a widow.

Years later, still a young woman in her early twenties, Nell is now a widow, with the mentality of a middle-aged woman. She isn't one quick to laugh, nor does she crave any frivolities. As for romance, what's that? The concept is foreign, feeling more like a lie or fantasy written on the pages of a romance novel. It was simply a wife's duty, one in which she was taught not to enjoy, when she was only fifteen to an ailing, older husband by decades.

While legally hers, Nell still calls the house her husband's, with the belongings that of her sister-wife. She still sleeps on a cot in a cubby, where she has slept since she was a fourteen-year-old child nursing her sister-wife. Not taking either bedroom in the house, as if she doesn't deserve it. She doesn't allow herself to feel pride and ownership, the mindset the church instilled in her.

Owning a large piece of property and a farmhouse, butted up against Church lands, the church wants to control Nell through another marriage, to where the husband would now have control of the property, giving it to the church.

Large portions of the novel, particularly the beginning, Nell is fighting the males of the church, who think they can take her and her property by force. She fights this, not because it's her property, but because she knows her passed husband wouldn't want the Church to have control of his property. Those males believe if they touch her, she's theirs, and they don't care if they have to kidnap and do bodily harm to Nell to get what they want, as women are far beneath them.

No man stands up for the women in their families, allowing them to be punished by higher ups in the church who simply wish to have them, which I found a bitter pill to swallow, many times having a difficult time reading because of this. Women who had a brain cell in their head, they would be taken from their husband and family to be 'used' and abused by other males, to teach them to act as a woman should. I found this accurate, difficult to read, but confusing as to why their husbands/fathers took no issue to this practice, as purity was the only thing women had to offer. Why didn't the fathers care when their child-aged daughters were taken as bed warmers, not wives? In their way of thinking, this would be disrespectful to the father/husband, an insult given, as these women were their possessions. This, I know happens in cults, but that mindset is so contradictory to their teachings.

Townie girls go missing, and associates of Jane Yellowrock appear on Nell's property, much like they did previously (these previous events tying everyone together happened in a Jane Yellowrock book, but it's told in a non-confusing way for new readers).

Nell becomes a consultant, trying to help solve the kidnappings, while struggling to maintain the life she has been living.

Heavily influenced by the Church, the off-the-grid living conditions, and the rural mentality, Nell is an original character, one of the most unique I've read to-date. She has an affinity to earth, the land beneath her feet feeding from her while simultaneously feeding her. It was beyond intriguing to see how Hunter connected this affinity to the sleuthing and paranormal aspects.

It was a joy to watch Nell blossom into who she should be, alongside seeing the changes in her family, with the added bonus of Rick and his team.

I've already started the second in the series, and so far find it just as intriguing and original as the first.

New York Times Bestselling author Faith Hunter writes three series: the Jane Yellowrock series, dark urban fantasy novels featuring Jane, a Cherokee Skinwalker; the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy/post-apocalyptic series and role playing game featuring Thorn St. Croix; and the Soulwood Series featuring Nell Nicholson Ingram.

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Erica reviewed her personal copy of Blood of the Earth (Soulwood #1) by Faith Hunter for this post.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Vas by Ker Dukey & K. Webster Blog Tour

The Volkov name is one I longed for.
Their household is one I grew up in, but not as an equal—as a maid’s son.
This didn’t stop me from becoming a man to be reckoned with.
But even with my rightful name finally given to me, I still feel adrift.
Until her.

Everything I did was for acceptance.
Everything I lost brought me to my family.
To this life.
To her.

I fought for my status.
I fought for my sisters.
And I will fight to the death for my angel.

She has shown me there is light in our pitch-black world.
That the stars can’t shine without the darkness of night.
She is the stars, and I am the sky in which she shines.

There is evil lurking in the shadows we create.
The corruption and depravities of the First Families have become toxic and are infecting us all from within.
Games have been played, and now, they must end.

I am Vas.
Vocal. Voracious. Vindictive. Volkov.
A devil in love with an angel, and together, we’re going to rule Hell on Earth.

***This is book three in The V Games series. Vlad and Ven must be read first in order to understand this story.***

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Book 3
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

This is the third book in The V Games and it did not disappoint.

Darya is living in a world of pain. It's a world she has become accustomed to, but not the world that she was born in to. While living in a convent, Darya was also exposed to brutal living, but in a different light. While she was so innocent, there were things that were beyond her control – she was too young and innocent to realize what was happening. When she is brought to her new tormentor's home, she just learns to live with the abuse. While her faith is shaken, it's not completely lost.

Vas is a fighter through and through. However, he was raised by a woman who was strong, courageous, and willing to sacrifice to give her son a chance. Despite wanting to seek out his father, Vas is not controlled by his dad, nor his dad's empire. When he first sees Darya, he knows that he has to help her in some way. But Vas isn't about the short plays – he waits and goes for the long play.

While these two are figuring out how to live their own lives, Vas is also prepping another fighter. This is a twisted story about love, betrayal, family, and sacrifice. While I found the story somewhat predictable in terms of the devil, I did like seeing Vas in his new role. He seems the most humane of the characters and I liked watching him.

I can't wait for the next story!

This is the third book in The V Games series and Vas and Darya's story.

Darya grew up in a convent when the Devil Man came and took her away. Now she only knows pain for Yuri, Vlad's father. She isn't allowed to wear clothes and she is beaten when Yuri isn't happy. Her life is not what you would want anyone to go through, but it is where the devil has left her.

Vas is Diana and Irena's half-brother. He is a fighter and he trains fighters and they win in The V Games. He has a big heart and finding Darya it shows and his protectiveness for her comes through even bigger. He will protect her in any way, even with his life.

As with the other books, this one is filled with mafia doings, murders, betrayal, lust, love, and even forever. I would totally recommend reading the first two books just to be able to keep up with all the characters involved.

I have loved this series and I love Vas, but I found this book to be a little less than the first books, it didn't seem to have the gripping page-turner effect for me. And I will be recommending this series to anyone who would listen. I can't wait for the Cousins Zahkar and Rodion and Alyona story, so I hope there is at least one more book. If you haven't read anything from K. Webster and Ker Dukey and you like a great mafia story, then these authors and this story are for you.

The third and final book in The V Games was about Vas, he's the bastard son of the Volkovs (Diana and Irina's family). This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order. Vas has been previously portrayed as a play-boy, he's worked his way into the good graces of his father and is poised to take over everything Diana had worked for.

We learn the true nature of Vas, which is a far cry from what I thought he was. Being raised by his mother, outside of the mafia families, has given him empathy and the capacity love.

Darya's story is just heartbreaking. She's currently a slave for Yuri Vasiliev, paraded through his home naked and subjected to whatever horrors he can think of. Abused and alone, the only thing she has is her faith... which also seems to have abandoned her. That is, until Vas sees her.

These families are absolutely bat-poop crazy. Their main source of entertainment is The V Games, a vicious Hunger Games type event where only the best survive the horrors awaiting them. Each family enters a Champion and then places bets on the winner. These champions can be anyone, regardless of their strengths, and many need much time for training.

To be honest, I was expecting a lot more from this story. I will say that I enjoyed getting to know Vas and Darya, reading about their pasts and who they really were. I enjoyed these two finding one another. What I didn't enjoy was that this story wasn't very exciting. I expected more action, instead this was a low-key romance between Vas and Darya. There was training of a champion, and a lot of interaction with Zahkar and Rodion (these two need their own book), but I was expecting more in regard to avenging Darya. Not to mention Vika, I don't even really know how her arc ended. There are interactions with the families, but I was expecting more resolution from Vas.

Overall, I enjoyed this series and getting to know each of the characters. I liked reading about the inner workings of these powerful families – their insanity knows no bounds! I was entertained with this series but would say book three wasn't my favorite. I was really hoping for more resolutions.

Vas is the third installment in The V Games series. With the amount of information there is, these books should be read in the order the authors intended to completely understand.

Vas is Diana and Irina's half-brother. His mother was a Volkov’s maid. She was the hired help, so Vas wasn't groomed like the rest of the first families’ sons. He's an underground fighter and trained Diana for The V Games. When he first sees Darya, he's drawn to her in a way he doesn't understand. He feels a protectiveness over her. She's naked and hungry, living as the slave to Yuri.

Darya grew up in a convent. It's the only life she's ever known until "The devil man" steals her away and leaves her in her own personal hell. She becomes the slave to Yuri, Vlad's father. She doesn't understand why she's left here or why she’s humiliated by being paraded around naked. When Vas finds her, he'll do anything to protect her.

I loved Vas and Darya's story. So far, I think Vas is definitely the least dark of all of the men. He's lethal, but this story was more about his feelings than the death and destruction this series is known for. I can't wait for the cousin's story. I can't imagine Rodion, Zahkar, and Alyona's story not being as sexy and fast-paced as the rest and I’m dying to see the conclusion of the most recent V Games.

I love this writing duo. My dark heart sings when they get together!

Also Available in The V Games Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Vlad Blog Tour.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

For reviews & more info, check out our stop on the Ven Blog Tour.

Ker Dukey

My books all tend to be darker romance, edge of you seat, angst filled reads. My advice to my readers when starting one of my titles…prepare for the unexpected.

I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bed time stories with my sisters growing up. My mum would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. I tend to have a darker edge to my writing. Not all love stories are made from light; some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling.

When I’m not lost in the world of characters I love spending time with my family. I’m a mum and that comes first in my life but when I do get down time I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister.

Connect with Ker

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Google+  ~  Instagram
Dukey's darKER souls Facebook Group

K. Webster

K Webster is the author of dozens romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers.

Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.

Connect with K

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Krazy for K Webster’s Books Facebook Group

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Vas (The V Games #3) by Ker Dukey & K. Webster to read and review for this tour.

Chasing Forever by Kelly Jensen

Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.

Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/M Romance

Malcolm, or Mal as he's known in the story, has fallen on some difficult times. After being severely injured, he is trying to figure out what his new normal is going to look like. When he is somewhat tricked into taking over the LGBTQ group at the school where he teaches, he never expected to find healing within that group too.

Brian Kenway is known as the town player. He never really has a partner for long. When he has to face his actions and what they might mean for his future, he has to face some strong truths that are hard.

Brian and Mal want to make their relationship work, but with a nephew who needs someone to fight for him, a person overcoming great physical injury, plus all of the baggage that Brian has from his home life, the reader has to wonder if they will ever make it.

This book took me a while to get into. I knew that it was part of the series. so I didn't want to quit reading, but I contemplated that a lot. For me, this story was just kind of blah at the beginning. Towards the middle, when you get into the more nitty gritty of each character's history, it became more of a developed story. Overall, while it was an enjoyable read, I didn't like it as much as the previous books.

I really, really didn’t want to like Brian. Brian was a complete arse as Simon’s ex in the first book and there wasn’t much of any redemption in the second story. I only gave Brian’s book a chance because I really enjoyed the first two books – and I’m really glad I did.

Brian doesn’t change overnight. He’s slick enough to be off putting when he first tries to pick up Malcolm and his initial reaction to his nephew is pretty cold. But Brian’s backstory was enough to thaw my reaction to him and with Malcolm and Josh’s influence, he slowly becomes more human and more loveable page by page. Malcolm is a heartbreakingly wonderful character. He’s an inspirational, devoted teacher but his personal life is painfully lonely. A horrible accident stole his ability to run and hike – and it also stole his confidence and independence. At the start, I really didn’t feel like Brian deserved Malcolm but these two surprised me and they work well together by the end of the story.

Brian and Malcolm’s relationship is a bumbling, awkward thing from the start. These two don’t communicate and they’re both incredibly guarded. Theirs is a very slow burn romance that tried my patience at times.

Beyond the romance, I didn’t enjoy the story in this book as much as I did the first two. I enjoyed Brian’s slow build relationship with Josh, but I felt like the teens in Malcolm’s LGBT club took up too much space in an adult romance. The regeneration storyline didn’t come to a very satisfying conclusion and extra characters seemed to appear and disappear without any real continuity. I liked this story, but I do prefer the first two books in the series. These books should stand alone but readers will understand more about Brian if they read the series in order.

This is the third book in the series, and there are undoubtedly links across the books, but this is a rich story in its own right, so you could certainly pick this up and enjoy it as a standalone.

Mal has survived a catastrophic accident and is slowly recovering. He little expects to catch the eye of the suave Brian, who has a reputation as a player and a sharp businessman. But a combination of events and encounters bring these two men together.

I really enjoyed the way that the issues raised are dealt with in this book. The juxtaposition of Mal's twin's behaviour compared to the actions of Brian's. The need to support each other and the obligation to help others gives us a great insight into the real men under the pain and the mask. As well as the leads, we get to understand the importance of Donny and Vanessa in their lives. Kelly Jensen does a really good job of making us care about the people in this community.

Also Available in the This Time Forever Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Riptide Publishing

For reviews & more info, check out our Building Forever post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Riptide Publishing

For reviews & more info, check out our Renewing Forever post.

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads
Google+  ~  Instagram

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen to read and review.