Jasmyn's Reviews

This includes all my reading reviews starting in 2014 - from both sites that I write for. Hot Off the Shelves and Bitten by Romance. Hot Off the Shelves is a catch-all (minus the super spicy stuff) of young adult, new adult, and adult books from a variety of genres. Bitten by Romance is an adult review blog for, well, anything romance.

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Everything We Keep: A Novel - Kerry Lonsdale

I loved this book until the epilogue. Then I wanted to throw the book - not because of anything wrong - I know it was just a personal preference - but OH MY GOD it made me so mad. Now, this could be seen as a good sign. It takes a lot for me to have that type of reaction to a book. I was so drawn into the characters and their lives that I felt like they were my friends. Good thing!!

I learned a lot about memory and what it can and can't do. It's quite fascinating, and from my simple research partner (Google) the author did a great job of portraying the circumstances. As Aimee comes to grips with what has happened to her fiance, we learn right along with her, and it was a great way of relaying information without doing just a big info dump on me.

Everything We Keep is an incredible emotional ride. I felt everything in the spectrum right along with Aimee and even James (the little bit we get to see). Right before the end, I was frustrated with life, but satisfied with the way Aimee had reacted and sorted things. Then the last two page....and the almost throwing. I want to say those pages ruined the book for me, until I tried to explain it all to someone. Their comment, "If it touched you so deeply, then it was a good book."

And they were right. This was a book that was beyond amazing and engaging. But if you read it, be prepared. It is not what you are going to expect. I could tell you the story, and it still wouldn't be what you expect. You have to live this one to truly experience it.

Source: http://www.hotofftheshelves.com/2016/10/everything-we-keep-by-kerry-lonsdale.html

Divine by Choice by P.C. Cast

Divine By Choice - P.C. Cast, James Griffin

I want to start by saying that you shouldn't let the 4 sexual rating scare you away from this one. I felt I had to rate it that way because of one crazy sex rite done by our bad girl. But it's short and easily skippable (is that a word?) if you don't want to read it. Seriously, like one paragraph.

Shannon has settled into her life in Partholon with her centaur husband and endless supply of handmaidens ready to wait on her every need. The danger seems to have passed and life is returning to "normal" once again. But she's uneasy, and with good reason. She finds herself ripped out of Partholon into her old life.

I enjoyed this story, but I had some issues with it as well. Seeing Shannon come in to her own as Epona's Choosen and learning to trust herself and the world around her was great. But I didn't like the twisted love story that wove through the middle of everything. When she meets the man that mirrors her husband things got a little tricky. I totally get her confusion and attraction to him. But I didn't like where that always led.

Finally meeting Rhiannon was very nice though. I love how damaged her character is, and the glimpse into her past only cements that she isn't a truly evil person, but more a victim herself as well. She just didn't deal with things as in a very healthy way. Finally being able to compare her beside Shannon showed sides of both that were quite eye-opening.

A great addition to the world of Partholon, but I just didn't enjoy all the aspects presented.

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/10/divine-by-choice-by-pc-cast.html

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors - B.A. Paris
If this book doesn't make you examine the relationship of every single one of your friends, then I don't know what will. Jack and Grace seem so perfect together, everyone is jealous of their relationship and closeness. They are inseparable, and their friends just think that it's so cute and wonderful. Well, maybe not everyone, and it definitely isn't wonderful.
 
Grace is a prisoner in her own life. Unable to do anything on her own, and looking forward to a future of fear and torture for not just herself, but her handicapped sister as well. This fall into a non-existence happens quickly, in fact it happens overnight. And she never saw it coming, and now she can't get out.
 
Grace will have to use every last ounce of her resolve to find a way out, and she'll find herself doing things she never thought she would. This book will really get into your head and stick around for awhile. The way everything comes together and flows was very powerful and moving. There's more to this book than I could ever accurately describe without giving the whole thing away completely.
 
If you enjoy thrillers, suspense, or psychological stories, then this is one you will need to read.
Source: http://www.hotofftheshelves.com/2016/10/behind-closed-doors-by-ba-paris.html

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other Einstein: A Novel - Marie Benedict

Well, I guess I don't know history as well as I thought I did. The Other Einstein could mean a couple things here. The more obvious "other" Einstein being Mileva Einstein, Albert's first and brilliant wife. It could also refer to the "other" Einstein being Albert himself, and a side of his life and personality that isn't often shown in your traditional histories. Both aspects of this Other Einstein are fascinating and not what I expected at all.

Mileva is an incredibly brilliant woman - possibly more so than Einstein himself - and she is unable to resist the charm of a young Albert at school. They seem to be the perfect couple, their wit and personalities complimenting each other while the intellects feed off each other's thoughts and ideas. It seems as if the stage is set for quite an amazing happily every after.

But soon things begin to change, and this was the part that I found quite fascinating. Watching the change in their relationship as it morphed into a completely different thing than when it first began, it is hardly recognizable. At times the changes were quite subtle and hard to notice, while others were shocking in their suddenness.

This was a great historical story that takes you deep into Western and Eastern European culture. At times the events were just a tad drawn out without a lot of momentum to them, but perhaps this was just to show the times where their lives seemed to come to a stand still. Definitely a book I would recommend.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Source: http://www.hotofftheshelves.com/2016/10/the-other-einstein-by-marie-benedict.html

Rescued by the Farmer by Mia Ross

Rescued by the Farmer (Oaks Crossing) - Mia Ross

I love Mia Ross's inspirational small town series. They match couples up beautifully, and I really get to see their relationship bloom and grow into something more. The Kinley family and the town of Oaks Crossing star in her newest series, and I've already fallen in love with all of them.

In Rescue by the Farmer, she hits a soft spot for me with animal rescue. And she does it right. She shows the struggle the small rescue facility faces with finding the right personnel, funding, and pormotions to keep the place running. It seems like a gift from God when Bekah lands in their world.

But Bekah is a rescue case in her own way. Running from a past (that I wish we had seen a little more details on), she finds herself welcomed and sheltered by the Kinley family and the small town around her. But she's afraid that she'll be forced to move on and have to give it all up - everything she cares about - all over again.

This may sound like quite the dramatic story, but it's much more simple. This is just the backdrop to two people falling in love, learning to trust again, and finding their own path into the future. Another winner from Mia Ross.

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/10/rescued-by-farmer-by-mia-ross.html

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

The Kept Woman: A Novel - Karin Slaughter
The Kept Woman is the eighth book in what (it appears to be) a very well-written crime/thriller/detective series. I may have to go back and see where it all began (not sure yet), but I'll definitely be watching for what's coming next. As we farther along in the series, there is some catching up to do with relationships and histories of the characters. The author does a pretty good job of keeping you just in the loop without going overboard for people who may have already read the first seven books.
 
Will Trent has his cliche moments, but he manages to keep himself out of the category with some great personality which is showcased in his interactions with the other members of his team and the people in his life. This personality and history comes to be very important as he begins to investigate the latest murder.
 
The pieces of this murder weave together in an amazingly intricate way, but manage to not get convoluted or overly complex to the reader (even one who is starting the series in the middle). I loved how all the pieces drifted from place to place until suddenly there was something that resembled a picture in front of you. But it didn't end there. The picture still needed to be developed and Will Trent didn't just jump to a solution. 
 
The best part of this was how each piece of the puzzle was finally discovered by several people. Without the team working together it would have never happened. Trent may be our leading character, but his team of supporting characters are excellent.  A great read for someone looking for more than just another episode of CSI or Law and Order. This takes the whole crime thriller to another level and I loved it!
Source: http://www.hotofftheshelves.com/2016/10/the-kept-woman-by-karin-slaughter.html

Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Lover Awakened - J.R Ward

I loved Zsadist. In all the previous books he is continually portrayed as a hard, mean, almost-evil type of person. But, I wanted him to be something different. And J.R. Ward let him be that something different without actually changing him. (Confusing, I know, but it is what it is.) Zsadists's past has left him beyond scarred - and as you read through his and his brothers memories, you will see exactly why he behaves the way he does. It is the only way he knows to survive.

But when Bella is taken by the Lesser Society, Zsadist is determined to find her and set her free. Not just from them, but from himself. It's one of the most selfless acts I've ever seen in a romance book. Knowing that it will destroy him, he pushes her into the arms of someone he views as "more appropriate" and "worthy" than he is.

A lot of the "action" in this book is within Zsadist and Bella, watching the work through and around their issues and fears was amazing. I think they are going to be one of the strongest couples - at least from what I've seen so far.

There's a lot of tragedy in this book - which really surprised me. I thought for sure it was all going to be a joke - but..... Overall, an amazing story that will hit you right in the heart in so many ways.

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/10/lover-awakened-by-jr-ward.html

A Very Jaguar Christmas by Terry Spear

A Very Jaguar Christmas (Heart of the Jaguar) - Terry Spear

I really wanted to love this one. There were so many great elements, but they never really came together. Demetria and Everett have a shared grief that has kept them apart - it was quite a sad beginning, which you don't usually see in a Christmas novel, and that was good. It set it apart a little. But, things change very quickly when they find an abandoned cub. Now, this cub is quite a surprise - it's beyond a surprise, but I can't give it away. Let's just say the Jaguar world will never be the same.

It was cure and well done, this introduction to something new. But it sort of took over the story. Instead of watching Demetria and Everett bond over a little cub, it turned into more of a mystery with a dash of sex. I needed more romance and feelings and denied attraction.

It also sort of bounced around a bit. At times it was hard to follow the dialog and keep up with who was doing what.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/10/a-very-jaguar-christmas-by-terry-spear.html

True Blue Cowboy Christmas by Nicole Helm

True-Blue Cowboy Christmas (Big Sky Cowboys) - Nicole Helm

This was a really cute Christmas romance with a contemporary western feel. There was just enough holiday in the story without going too overboard with the Christmas cheer - which is what I really like. There was a good chunk of backstory that missed having not read the previous books in the series, so I felt like I was missing something important (turns out I was). I'm not sure if I would recommend this as a true stand-alone. All the missing pieces come out in the end, but I think it had too much of an impact without knowing more of the backstory.

Thack was a grump, a really big grump. His over-protective stance to his little girl was a bit much, but it made sense given his history. Here's where backstory would have been nice. Summer really over-reacts to this and jumps to a lot of conclusions. But this somehow manages to bring them together.

The middle part of the story seems to be a series of misunderstandings and stepping on toes, but there were some really cute parts that I really enjoyed, especially the ones that revolved around getting ready for the holidays. Summer and the little girl are quite the pair and I loved seeing them together.

The ending went quite a bit overboard. It lost me while at the same time explained a lot about Summer's reaction to things. But a little too over the top with the suspenseful part for me to get completely on board with.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/10/true-blue-cowboy-christmas-by-nicole.html

Christmas Comes to Main Street

Christmas Comes to Main Street (The Briar Creek Series) - Olivia Miles This was such a great Christmas story. It was full-on holiday theme, but without getting overly sweet (unless you count the goodies Kara makes in her bakery - they sound delish)! Our leading characters had more in common they they first think - especially after a very bumpy first impression. Both are driven, business-oriented, and out to prove themselves to the world. But they have different ways of doing that. It was fun to see how two people were so similar and yet so very different in how they went about getting things done. Christmas was everywhere, from the decorations at the B&B, the bakery's goodies, and the all important (seriously - very important) holiday house competition. This competition sounds like fun, but with a prize on the line, it gets very serious very quickly - but thankfully our couple doesn't let it get in the way - too much. All these little holiday touches set such a perfect stage for the romance. Christmas Comes to Main Street will definitely put you in the holiday mood with lovely characters, a great setting, and the perfect romance. I think I'll have to check out more from Briar Creek, because this was definitely a winner. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/10/christmas-comes-to-main-street-by.html

Twice Blessed by Barbara Cameron

Twice Blessed: Two Amish Christmas Stories - Barbara  Cameron

[spoiler]These were a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved Her Sister's Shadow, but wasn't a thrilled with His Brother's Keeper.

Her Sister's Shadow is all about the shy twin finding her way to happiness and love. There was a lot of really great story in this one. Katie and Rosie were both fun personalities, but completely different. Katie is outgoing and flirty - loves to be in the middle of everything. But Rosie prefers to be at home, working in the garden or kitchen. But they both find a way to find love and happiness in Her Sister's Shadow. They also both get a look at tragedy and people aren't always what they seem - but it works out great in the end. This was my favorite of the two stories.

His Brother's Keeper just didn't have the best trope for me. A twin pretending to be the other one is all fun - when you're kids. But when your twin is in the hospital in a coma, pretending to be him so you can spend time with his fiance is just creepy. Now it starts as a genuine case of mistaken identity, but he doesn't bother to correct anyone. The ending....well it just confused me. Some people knew and they talked about telling other people, and I'm not entirely sure the whole thing came out?

I highly recommend the first story, Her Sister's Shadow, but you can skip His Brother's Keeper.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

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Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/09/twice-blessed-by-barbara-cameron.html

The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman

The Promise Kitchen: A Novel - Peggy Lampman
The Promise Kitchen is quite an in-depth look into the lives of small town southern areas. Shelby comes from a low-income family in a town with no prospects or promises for her or her daughter. Shelby has big dreams, she wants to be a chef. And she appears to have the talent, but there's no place for her to find out at home.
 
So she ventures into the big city, leaving her daughter behind, to follow her dreams, get a job, and move her family to be with her. Shelby's struggle was incredibly real. I could feel the frustration as every time she got a couple steps ahead, something would go wrong and she'd end up almost back at the beginning. When her daughter gets sick, she thinks it's all over for good. But she has found a guardian angel she didn't know about.
 
Mallory is on the opposite end of the spectrum. She has a good job that she says she loves. To all appearances she has everything on track and going the right direction, but it's all a lie. Her life begins to spiral out of control and her friends aren't who she thought they were. As she fights to find her new way, her path corsses with Shelby and our stories collide in quite an interesting fashion.
 
I loved this book - but at times Mallory's story was a little too depressing. I know depression is real and very difficult to pull out of, but this drop into depression seemed a little more like wallowing in self-pity than an actual downward spiral. But don't let this little comment scare you away. I think the writing and storyline of The Promise Kitchen was amazing.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Source: http://www.hotofftheshelves.com/2016/09/the-promise-kitchen-by-peggy-lampman.html

Sassy and a Little Bad-Assy by Jessie Lane

Sassy Ever After: Sassy and a little Bad-Assy (Kindle Worlds Novella) - Jessie Lane

I loved this book! Perhaps it was because of my soft spot for vikings and all things Norse. Perhaps her sense of humor was just perfect. Perhaps her couple was so hot together I couldn't let them go. It was a little bit of all of this. It seems like every time I turned a page, I was finding something new to love.

This is a short novella with a lot of kick. It starts with a bang and just keeps on going. Nikki's crazy family had me cracking up, but also understanding her frustration at being so consumed with them that she no longer had her own self. Their interactions were a double-edged sword in her life. On one side showing exactly how needed and loved she was, on the other, not letting her live her own life or follow her own dreams and desires.

But Cruz seems to be the perfect solution, once she forgives him for throwing her grandfather out of the bar. He's quite the dark brooding type, but doesn't get so caught up in it all that he becomes one sided. He's got quite the sense of humor, even if it's a little different than most. He's also one of the sweetest guys I've read about in a long time without losing that Alpha quality I know we all love.

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/09/sassy-and-little-bad-assy-by-jessie-lane.html

Sacking the Quarterback by Samantha Towle

Sacking the Quarterback (BookShots Flames) - Samantha Towle You must be able to suspend a little reality for this one. With an assistant DA lusting after her latest court case, there's a little bit of over the top feeling, but it was still a lot of fun. When Grayson is arrested for possession with the intent to distribute, things are looking pretty bad - his professional football career may be in jeopardy and he's looking at a few years behind bars. But he didn't realize that would be the consequence when he took action. Assistant DA Melissa St. James knows something isn't quite right when she's told to throw the book at the sports star, set an example, and make sure he's found guilty. But something inside her tells her to look deeper - and thank goodness she listens. What unfolds is a sweet and sexy - but highly unlikely - quick romance. It was fun and easy to put away my sense of disbelief after briefly acknowledging its presence. A very fun and quick read with a dash of suspense to keep your blood pumping. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/09/sacking-quarterback-by-samantha-towle.html

The Mating Season by Laurie Horowitz

The Mating Season (BookShots Flames) - Laurie Horowitz

We need more ornothologists - or "bird nerds" in romance. Sophie was amazing and Horiwitz did an excellent job showing me her passion and knowledge for her birds - without turning it into a bore. Adding a dose of humor, some great research was done to describe the birds in amazing detail and some of the names ("tits" and "boobies") made me giggle like a teenage girl again.

Rigg is a hot shot camera man - or so he thinks. But Sophie shows him a side of himself that he desperately needed to find. A side that shlows down and enjoys life, taking him a step back from the drive for professional success at all costs, and pushing him forward into finding what really makes him happy. They are a great couple together.

But of course there is a problem, and it's represended by an ex-girlfriend. She's more than just that though. She symbolizes his past dreams, goals, and life. Rigg will have to make a decision.

The scenery and people surrounding Sophie and Rigg really bring the story together. They are great personalities and beautiful places.  They helped me fall into the story and never want to leave.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/09/the-mating-season-by-laurie-horowitz.html

Bonnies Sass

Sassy Ever After: Bonnie Sass (Kindle Worlds Novella) - Erika Masten

A hotel in Vegas just for shifters, Angie is in charge of keeping the VIP's happy. She loves her job, even if she isn't always fond of her penguin shifter boss (I really loved this detail). But she doesn't expect to run into the man who broke her heart many years ago. And she definitely doesn't want to have him staying as a VIP in "her" hotel.

Calum, on the other hand, is thrilled to find his Angie again after all these years. But Angie won't let him get too close to her heart again. When Calum's little sister jumps in to help them hoop up, as  Calum is busy with his werewolf summit, the two finad themselves thrown together at every turn.

This werewolf summit is vry important, as it seems that vampires and wolves in Europe are just about set for war. Imagine the reponse when Calum's sister and Angie are taken by rogue wolves...and there may be vampires involved.

All this plays out as Angie and Calum are trying to figure out what went wrong in their past and if they have a chance at a future. There was definite chemistry, but was there more, or was that enough?

Even for a shifter romance things in this story just went too fast. Not just the romance, but even the drama and resolution in the background. It seemed like everything happened and wrapped up with no real substance in between.

Source: http://www.bittenbyromance.com/2016/09/bonnie-sass-by-erika-masten.html

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