Blood Of The Pack (Wolfgang County Book 3)

– Jenny Frame

 

I was looking forward to reading the third installment of Jenny Frame‘s Wolfgang County urban fantasy series, “Blood of the Pack,” so obviously when it dropped on my lap, I devoured it at no time at all! As expected, I absolutely loved everything about it, most of all, when the story took it to the majestic highlands of Scotland!!! Frame had revealed about the Scotland angle where we’d be introduced to another pack, Wulver, cousins of the Wolfgang Pack, who would play an important role in the series, and she delivered and then some! YES!!!

As mentioned, “Blood of the Pack” is the third book of the series, continuing the story of the Wolfgang pack of werewolves led by Dante, the pack’s Alpha and her mate, Eve, the Mater. Before I proceed with this story, I strongly recommend reading the series chronologically because there’s a serialised story arc that acts as a backdrop of every installment. Although, if you’re not particular about following the overall arc, then the books can be read as a standalone since every installment features a new romance between two new MCs within the Wolfgang County universe. In any case, as usual, the MCs from the previous installments made appearances in this installment, with Dante, Wolfgang’s Alpha, essentially being this story’s lead secondary character, as she should since she’s the leader of the pack after all. If you’ve read the previous books, you’ll also recognise their respective MCs – Caden and Lena, Kyra and Ripp, plus Eve, Dante’s mate, the pack’s Mater amongst a few others, as they were all part of the Wolfgang Pack linked to the overall story arc which served as a backdrop of this 3rd installment.

This book began with an intro of a new character, Kenrick (Rick), a Wulver wolf from Scotland, paying a visit to her cousin, Dante. The Wolfgangs and the Wulvers were cousins and their families had been each other’s close family and ally since the beginning. Meanwhile, Dante and her Wolfgang pack were still reeling over what happened at the end of Book 2 where Dante’s arch enemy, Leroux, the Lupa pack’s Alpha, led her pack of Lupa wolves to a full-on attack on the Wolfgang pack with deadly consequences. So whilst Dante and her Wolfgang pack regrouped and getting ready for any eventuality when it came to Leroux and her Lupa gang, Frame introduced the reader to Zaria, a Lupa who’d been running and hiding from her pack since she was 16.

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Playing With Fire

– by Lesley Davis

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Thanks to Jeannie Levig‘s brill BSB interview with author Lesley Davis who gave such informative insights into her latest outing, “Playing With Fire,” including her own POV about certain issues related to this book that moved me to seek it out to have myself a read despite it being the third installment of a series already in situ, something I rarely do as I like to start a series from the first book. Thankfully, this installment could be read as a standalone so I was chuffed about it especially when it was going to be my first-ever Lesley Davis book to explore!

I utterly LOVED “Playing with Fire.” First off, the first chapter alone captivated my full attention. Not only because of the story arc, the portrayal of the main protagonist included in it, but more importantly, Davis’ writing style, the flow of her words and rhythm of the pace. Totes my cuppa tea! Also, as I read on, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a good old-fashioned traditional lesbian romance! I can’t really explain it, just a feeling from the rhythm of Davis’ composition style and the sound of dialogues constructed and the classical use of 3rd-person narrative to present monologues and non-verbals. In any case, there was an air of nostalgia there as I explored Davis’ storytelling, which gave me oodles of warm “comfort food” feels all throughout!

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Deadeye (Luce Hansen Thriller Book 3)

– by Meredith Doench

 

After having read Books 1 and 2 of Meredith Doench‘s utterly engaging “Luce Hansen Thriller” crime series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, obviously I HAD to read its 3rd installment, “Deadeye!” Speaking of Doench, it was thanks to Jeannie Levig who first recommended her series to me when we talked about dark lesfic crime thrillers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known and would’ve missed an opportunity to explore Doench’s brilliant crime writing style and plot weaving in lesfic! For me, her style is reminiscent of James Patterson and Thomas Harris’, which is my cuppa tea. Needless to say, Doench’s 3rd installment continued to showcase her crime/thriller writing skills in crafting yet another intriguing case, not to mention, her insights into the ongoing development of Hansen’s emotional and psychological journey as she continued her efforts to juggle her work with her personal life better this time. One swift read later, yup, this one’s my favourite installment of the series, yet.

Obviously, I have to comment on the captivating book cover! Feast thy eyes: A scope target. Fixed on a Celtic cross. Red all over. Interpretation: Danger. Insidious. Deadly. Sniper. That’s the story. Right there. Staring at me. Who wouldn’t be curious? Well, I was! And as I explored the story, I was immediately struck by its symbolism. Well done!

Because Doench also included Hansen’s private life which she first developed in “Crossed” (Book 1), continued growing in “Forsaken Trust” (Book 2), including her romantic relationships/entanglements, there was no reason she wouldn’t further advance Hansen’s relationship with her current partner, Bennett (first introduced in “Forsaken” not merely as Hansen’s love interest but played a major role in investigating and solving the featured case), in this installment. So, even though, like other crime serials, the Luce Hansen series is a procedural, meaning each installment can be read as a stand-alone, I’d personally advise readers who haven’t read the previous two books, to do so, IF you’re also interested in the chronological development of Hansen’s private life besides the case-of-the-week plot.

Continue reading “Deadeye (Luce Hansen Thriller Book 3)”

Mermaid

– by Max Ellendale

 

I was chuffed to bits ever since Max Ellendale announced that there would be another installment from her Cops & Docs series that would tie in to one of my all-time favourite lesfic novels, “Rabbit!” So you can just imagine how fast I snatched my copy of “Mermaid” to devour on its release day! I somehow just knew that this new installment would be something that’d stir my inner senses and emotions. I was not wrong. In fact, it went beyond my expectations. I was utterly speechless when I devoured the book in one sitting and still reeling from the utter beauty and aesthetic, deeply affecting love story that Ellendale has written, which I will cherish wholeheartedly. And surprise sur-bloody-prise, its MCs, Scar and Vee, have now joined my list of all-time favourite lesfic couples!

The beauty of “Mermaid” is that the STORY itself, besides the intoxicating, sensual, emotion-stirring, all-consuming love story, along with the superb ensemble cast that Ellendale so brilliantly assembled and crafted (which I will elaborate a little bit more later), is one of the most unabridged, uninhibited, explicitly detailed and realistic portrayal of a family unit. More relevantly and relatably, a blazing queer one, to boot! YES! Reminded me of “The L Word” which showed the daily lives of a group of mates who banded together as their own chosen family, which became a community! Ellendale’s passion, intensity and conviction in the “fully loaded” words she expressed when weaving her richly defined tapestry of storytelling personified that spirit of “family” in this book, just like she did in her famous “Four Point Trilogy.” But in this particular one, she turned it up a notch and gave us something much bigger, more resonating than ever, especially for those of us who’ve read all of her Seattle-based stories!

About the title, “Mermaid,” I was naturally intrigued when Ellendale first announced it. Being a nutter for word plays, metaphors and hidden meanings in language and literature, and the fact that Ellendale’s other titles gave me the same interpretative feel (not sure if she meant it, nonetheless I treated them as such, so completely my own view, mind!), I was looking forward to exploring her take on the word’s meaning as it related to her story. As I hoped, I was utterly spellbound by the essence of what the mermaid represented metaphorically and allegorically, which Ellendale, once again, ever-so masterfully weaved each symbolic meaning into every part of the story and its characters. Of course the word was also used literally, which you’ll find out when you read the book. But the allegory of the story flowed with such mystical and sensual fervour I was left mesmerised. Needless to say, by the end of the final word on the last page of the story, I was thoroughly satiated, my heart bursting with love and joy, my soul relishing in the elixir of healing properties from the divine feminine power that epitomised the symbolism of the mermaid, to which this book is entitled.

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Falling

– by Kris Bryant

 

First off, I’ll read anything from Kris Bryant, that’s for sure. So when the blurb of her latest novel, “Falling,” came out, I couldn’t wait to read it, obvs, not just because it’s Bryant, but the book’s subject matter! And then that aesthetically photographed cover….Let’s just say that’s prolly the first-ever book cover featuring a photo of a model as its focal point that caught my full attention. There’s just something about it – how the model was posed, the filters used, the lighting and angle of the camera lens, the flow of the hair and the clothing material –  a natural flow of emotions and senses, in perspective. Contrast that with what the title could mean in the context of the story. I was effectively curious. The metaphor of the cover made perfect sense to me after reading the book. Acquiescence. Obviously, this is just my own interpretation. I could be way off from what Bryant intended. Or, the cover could mean nothing except being stunningly aesthetic! But hey, art is subjective and interpretative, innit? Speaking of the title, I like to play on words, see. A plane “falling” out of the sky. A survivor “falling” for the grieving fiancée of one of the crash victims. “Falling” from grace due to a secret. A premise ripe for an inside look into the journey of survival, second chance at life and second chance at love between two people, I’d say. Needless to say, I finished the book in one short sitting.

I must say, there were a couple of mentions in the blurb that I thought would play out like I assumed but didn’t. Interesting, though, how we make assumptions based on how we feel when reading a blurb, innit? Interpretation – it’s a thing. Anyway, I dove into the story assuming something but discovered that I had misinterpreted. My fault! No matter because I soon readjusted my mind’s lens and carried on with renewed interest with what Bryant was churning out in this ride. Needless to say, this story was pure romance deriving from the worst possible scenario between two unexpected women and a predicament that either party couldn’t shed. An intriguing journey to explore, nonetheless albeit in a different context. In other words, a straight-up, unadulterated romance, Bryant-style! Brilliant!

The first chapter literally jolted my senses to a point where I was hanging on to every word Bryant used as her tale-weaving took me to an intense, adrenaline-filled, thrilling ride from the moment Shaylie, the main character, stepped into the plane’s lavatory to the plane falling from the sky and crashed. That was one harrowing sequence that would imprint the fear of flying into anyone’s psyche, that’s for sure! The aftermath of the disaster was brilliantly and affectingly described by Bryant – the smell, the feel, the pain, the screams, the endless sense of confusion and chaos all jumbled together – I could feel the heavy air of doom and gloom and..death. Riveting!

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Major Surgery

– by Lola Keeley

Lola Keeley‘s “Major Surgery” gave me every single thing that I love about medicine! First and foremost, it’s BRITISH!!! Finally!! Someone finally wrote a pure British medical romance with every medical term, jargon, procedure, protocol, every service department used, all called by their British terminology! I literally felt all tingly inside as I explored every page of this book, feeling this sense of, “Ah, I’m on familiar grounds now!” It was like seeing an old friend again after a long absence! So, thank you, Ms. Keeley, for making this happen! I do hope more authors would write British medical romances, though. Oh well, reckon the American medical lingo is more popular (even though most of the world use the British terms! Hey ho.). But, I, for one, am very grateful and appreciative about this book catered to the British health system. And one more thing I must mention about Keeley’s quality of work. Two books in, I can now rest assured that her commitment to doing proper research for her work is tops! The ins and outs of a profession as intricate as ballet in her debut novel and now medicine! And let’s not forget her exceptional writing quality! Brilliant!

Back to Keeley’s story, well, the first page, alone, had my full attention and intrigue with an explosive opening scene involving Dr. Cassie Travers, one of the two main protagonists. Let’s just say that Cassie entered the scene with, not to put too fine a point on it, guns blazing! Talk about a dramatic and intense intro! Almost like a bank hold-up situation with many people surrounding the action! The opening scene, I thought, was brilliantly written and totally effective! Now, THAT’s what I call making a GRAND entrance that made an unforgettable impression! Most of all, that was how Cassie Travers and Veronica Mallick met! As first meetings go, I’d say theirs was one of the most thrilling introductions I’ve come across in a lesbian romance yet! You simply have to read it to feel that sense of shock and excitement!

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Thorn

– by Anna Burke

A holiday gift surprise fell onto me lap whilst I was on holiday, courtesy of the very kind and generous Salem West of Bywater Books! (Ta, mate!) Yes, it was in the form of a book (me fav form!)!

Thorn” by Anna Burke.

Never read anything by this author ever before.

Wow. To say the book captivated me was an understatement. I was hooked, lined and sinkered. From the first paragraph. Literally.

Just read this… Continue reading “Thorn”