Review: Penemuae by Lea Barrymire

Penemuae involves Watchers, Nephilim, and humans that are a bit more than human. It follows the fated-mate trope of many a paranormal romance; this time around it’s Watcher (think sort of fallen angel) Penemuae and human Evelyn (who happens to be one of the few humans who can see Watchers and Nephilim).

There are some funny moments and great lines in this book. One of my favorites was Evelyn’s description of Pen’s scent as “trees and summertime wrapped in cinnamon toast.” There is also some nice interplay between the Watchers.

Despite a good premise, this book falls a bit flat on execution. Grammar mistakes, a dire need for commas, and typos abound, all of which undermined the story for me. I found many of the dialogue sequences featuring more than two characters difficult to follow. It wasn’t always apparent who was talking, and I had to take my best guess. Also, there were a few times during four-way conversations where two of the characters seemed to be talking as if the rest of the characters disappeared for a few moments.

The connection between Pen and Evelyn wasn’t that strong for me. I felt I was being told they were attracted to each other and falling in love rather than being shown much evidence (perhaps too much reliance on the fated-mate trope). Most of their conversations included other characters and were world building in dialogue form (which is a fine way to world build but doesn’t really build rapport between characters). Evelyn’s discovery of the hidden world of Watchers and her role to play in it was a much more compelling story line than the supposed love story.

This book reads quickly and has many entertaining moments, but I just couldn’t love it because I didn’t get to know the characters well enough to fall in love with them. I give it three cat kisses.

3 cats


 

EXCERPT:

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Evelyn and Jessica had met in high school and become fast friends. They’d attended nursing school together and were both hired by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia right after graduation. They were constantly being mixed up by co-workers. Their blonde hair, blue eyes and vivacious personalities were so similar they joked about being twins, separated at birth.

While they were nearly identical in looks, they completely differed in philosophies on life. Evelyn strove to help others whenever she could, softer in heart and soul. Jess had seen evil from a young age, experienced abuse at the hands of her parents and had become harder in heart to deal with the betrayal. She loved strongly and held onto anyone she cared for, but if you hurt her she’d strike back before walking away. Their personalities worked well together, balancing each other out.

“I’ll leave you to your charts. Have fun tonight and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

Jess pulled her in for a tight hug, a signature of the rougher woman. Evelyn soaked in the embrace and smiled. The reminder for the next day had a shot of enthusiasm burning some of the exhaustion away. The first Saturday of each month was their day together. Both made sure to have it off and never made other plans. They’d spend the entire day doing whatever together, reaffirming their friendship, hanging out and usually ending with buckets of ice cream being washed down with bottles of wine.

“I can’t wait until tomorrow.” Evelyn stepped back. “What’s the plan anyway? This month is yours, right?”

Blurb

Therefore shall they never find peace…

The temptations of love and lust brought the two hundred Watchers together. When they decided earthly possessions were more important than divine instruction, they were bound to each other, and the Earth, forever as punishment.

The Watchers can feel change coming…

After three thousand years, and more heartache than Watcher General Penemuae can remember, all he wants is an end. Exhausted in heart and soul, he lives to fight the Nephilim and atone for his disgrace, his only objective to rid the Earth of evil. Until the day he meets her. Evelyn, the human woman who shouldn’t have survived, who can see things she shouldn’t, who makes him want things he’s sworn not to desire again.

Face to face with evil, Evelyn finally has to accept there is more on earth than mere humans when she becomes the target of an immortal malevolence. Saved by an avenging angel with eyes dark as night and remorse to match, she finds herself in the middle of a fight she may not survive.

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About the Author

Lea lives in Western New York with her hubby, three children, and miscellaneous critters. Before the rug rats, she lived a life of adventure, following her husband all over Europe with the US military. She’s slept in a car outside Paris, drove six hours just to see tulips in the Netherlands, and knocked ash from her shoes at Pompeii. Now she spends her time in life’s adventures at soccer games, PTA meetings and school plays.

Lea has loved reading from a very young age, spending many sleepless nights devouring books. Science fiction and paranormal were her favorite genres to read as a teenager, and that love bled into her adult life. She started writing during a bout of insomnia, to fill time, and found it filled a creative void. Now she communes regularly with the characters in her head and tries not to laugh out loud when they say something funny.

When Lea isn’t reading, writing or corralling kids, she enjoys watching movies and sciencey shows, or just kicking back and listening to some music.

She loves hearing from readers. Find her hanging out on the web at:

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Review: All That’s Unrealized by Constance Phillips

All That’s Unrealized is book three in Constance Phillips’ Sunnydale Days series. This installment is the story of Rhonda, who is back in town visiting her cousin, and Trevor, a physical therapist and fairly recent transplant to town. Rhonda and Trevor became fast friends despite Rhonda living away from the town, but they both feel an attraction that begs for a more intimate relationship. When Rhonda comes back to town for a visit, Trevor has no doubts, but Rhonda doesn’t want to give up her chances for a career in high fashion to move back to the small town where she grew up.

I thought this story wasn’t quite as predictable as the last book in the series (you can see my review here). The story moved along faster for me, but I still found myself a little bored at times. Ms. Phillips’ writing style includes more interior monologue than I prefer, and my conclusion is that that is the main reason why both books I’ve read by her have dragged for me. I also wished there was more interaction between Rhonda and Max. Since Trevor has custody of his brother (who is a young teenager), I would’ve expected there to be more input from him or some bonding between him and Rhonda.

I give this sweet romance 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


In a month, fashion mogul and reality TV judge Conrad Ryse, of The Retail Project fame, has promised to take Rhonda Gables under his wing and invest in her fledgling career. That’s her grand prize after a winning season on his show. Too bad exhaustion has sent Rhonda out of her city apartment, away from her three successful boutiques, and into her cousin’s guest room for a month of recuperation in her hometown.

She’s on the cusp of everything she’s ever wanted, but what will it cost? Doctor’s orders be damned, she balks at first. But soon Rhonda is both delighted and disconcerted by the attentions of her friend-maybe-lover, Trevor Collins, and the contentment she is surrounded by back home. She must realize all she’s willing to compromise and what her heart truly desires.

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About the Author

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, two kitties, and four canine kids.

When not writing stories of finding and rediscovering love, Constance is counting down the days until her son and daughter-in-law make her a grandma and planning a cross-country motorcycle trip with her husband for the not-so-distant future…if they can find a sidecar big enough for the pups.

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Review: Her Everything by Tara Andrews

Her Everything is another novella by Tara Andrews in the 1 Night Stand series. This is the story of Rachel and Mark. Rachel’s twin sister is a singer in a famous band, whereas Mark is the guitarist in another famous band. When the two meet at a fundraiser, sparks fly. However, a few complications keep them both from running headlong into a relationship beyond their one night stand.

Some aspects of this story I preferred to Long Overdue (you can read my review here) and some threw me. Early on there were a two things that made it hard to get into the story: 1. there was a short drop of POV that had me reading a section a few times to make sure I was following (a dip into info only Rachel’s sister’s boyfriend could know when we were in Rachel’s POV). I find it more difficult to overcome these types of lapses when I’m not as enmeshed in knowing characters, and in general it sets a bad tone for me because I feel like the story wasn’t given the editing attention it needed. In the case of this book, that feeling played out in the increased number of typos I saw throughout.

The second thing that threw is a minor detail, and one of those things that might only bother me because my firsthand experience contradicts the author’s description. And honestly, I make stuff up as a writer too, so I’m sure there’s someone out there who could find holes in my work. In this case, Rachel wonders how many of Mark’s highly-defined muscles are from hours of practicing the guitar. I happened to be married to a guitar player, who found this thought highly amusing. He’d be happy if he could build muscles by playing guitar, which he enjoys far more than weight training. 🙂

A few chapters in, I let my little irritations go, and I really liked both Rachel’s and Mark’s personalities. I felt more connected to them than I did the protagonists of Long Overdue (which could be because I’m married to a guitar player…). This was a very sweet love story–with some hot sex scenes–in a short package. I give it 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


Rachel Turner made a mistake—a couple, in fact. Ruining a surprise meeting with the front man to her favorite band is just the beginning. But agreeing to switch places with her famous sister may spell the end of both of their careers. With rumors flying and an unexpected invitation from Madame Eve, Rachel hopes she can put the mistakes behind her.

Attending an event to support a charity close to his heart, Mark Travis wasn’t looking for love, or even company—and definitely not with a fan. But when he puts in a hasty bid at a silent auction and wins the services of 1Night Stand, Madame Eve has something different in mind. A single evening with a woman she claims can fulfill his needs. But one night might not be enough.

Come morning, will Mark and Rachel’s unexpected one-night stand give them more than they bargained for?

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About the Author

Tara Andrews divides her time between a full-time job as an office manager, an even more full-time job as a wife and mother, and her dream job as a romance author.

An avid reader and writer, Tara continuously seeks to hone her craft in order to provide readers with stories that are provocative yet romantic. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and belongs to a local chapter. As she has learned from her own experiences, dreams do come true and women can live happily ever after. Tara strives to infuse a blend of fantasy and realism in her stories in order to connect with readers’ own experiences, hopes and emotions.

Tara lives in upstate New York with her wonderful husband and two fabulous children.

Review: Brody by Mindy Harbin

Brody is a romantic suspense featuring a woman, Xan, in the witness protection program and Brody, who is hired to help protect her. The attraction between the two sparks quickly even though they both are guarded, especially Brody who feels it’s a conflict of interest to become involved.

There are a number of hot sex scenes, of the more gritty variety–including an anal scene, which I always like to mention because I am not a huge fan of anal play. Because Ms. Harbin’s style of sex scenes wasn’t my favorite, the middle of the book dragged for me; I just wasn’t into the frequent sex. Might work perfectly for someone else though. 🙂 And I must admit that testosterone-fueled guy interaction is tedious to me, but Ms. Harbin writes it well.

I liked the last few chapters the best. I didn’t see all the twists and turns coming, and that made me like the book better and glad I slogged through the middle. For me, I give this book 3.5 cat kisses. If you like gritty sex and macho men, it could easily be a 4 or 4.5.

3.5 cats


Brody “Brutus” Jackson isn’t your average small-town mechanic. The shop where he spends his days doubles as the headquarters for the mercenary group he works with. They jokingly call themselves the Bang Shift because the government contracts they take are the less savory ones, and they’re all just shady enough to do what’s necessary to get the jobs done. As far as Brody’s concerned, it’s the perfect arrangement for a man with no memory of his past, and no hope for the future.

Under FBI protection, Alexandria Collins and her son have been in hiding for ten years. When it’s time to move again, her piece of crap car breaks down and the man giving her a tow is the biggest, hottest guy she’s ever seen. She is determined to ignore the need her long-neglected body hungers for. After all, the last man she showed interest in put a gun to her head.

Brody thinks the skittish Xan is sexy as hell, but it’s not her hot body that has him rocked to his core. He knows her from somewhere, and in his line of work, that’s a dangerous thing. Following orders have never been this hard, but he will protect her at all costs … even if what she needs protection from is him.

About the Author

Mandy Harbin is an award-winning, bestselling author of several books across multiple romance genres ranging from contemporary to paranormal erotic romance. She is also the number one bestselling author in teen romance under the pen name M.W. Muse with her popular Goddess Series. She is a Superstar Award recipient, Reader’s Crown and RWA Passionate Plume finalist, and has received Night Owl Reviews Top Pick distinction many times. She studied writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, earned several degrees, and even pursued an MBA until she realized becoming an author did not have to remain an unfulfilled dream. Mandy is a PAN member of the RWA and lives in a small Arkansas town with her non-traditional family, and although she is a direct descendant of British royalty, they refuse to call her princess. When she’s not penning her latest book, you can find her hanging out online where she loves to connect with fellow readers or stalking Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

Photos attached (I use the color one mainly when promoting my Mandy Harbin stuff and the black/white/smiling one when promoting M.W. Muse)

Mandy Harbin’s Media Links:

Review: With a Twist trilogy

Since these three short novellas are all interrelated, I’m going to do my written review of them as a whole. Given that they are written by three different people, I will also rank each book.

The trilogy follows three best friends who own a martini bar named With a Twist. They’ve been tasked by a gypsy to find love by midnight on Valentine’s Day or lose all the success they’ve gained with their bar. Each book focuses on one of the friends.

First up is Jasmine, who has long lusted after artist Jake, but he’s never seemed to be interested in more than a friendship. However, a long sojourn in Italy makes the heart grow fonder and he returns to win Jasmine’s heart. This story was not my favorite, basically because I didn’t enjoy Ms. Fox’s writing style as much as the other two authors. There was a lot of back story at the beginning that didn’t hold my interest. As the first of the trilogy, she did perhaps have more set up to do, but it still felt longer than it needed to be before we got to the action. Once we did, the action is mostly hot sex (this was probably the steamiest of the trio) and then Jake getting stuck in a snowstorm that threatens that he won’t make it back by Valentine’s Day so Jasmine can confess her love in person. This was perhaps the thinnest premise of the three books to build tension. If faced with losing my business due to a gypsy prediction, I would’ve just spilled the beans on the phone.

Second comes Daisy, who has been drifting along in life. There’s a little confusion about who is really the man for her, as she has two pursuers (and some other complications which you can read the story to find out 🙂 ). I liked this story the most, as both the hero and heroine had compelling emotional and circumstantial issues to deal with. They seemed to fit together really well and had the most chemistry. There were some spicy sex scenes in this book too.

Third comes Rose, who has pined after Jasmine’s cousin Max since high school. He’s been globetrotting since then, and she hasn’t seen him in a decade. So when he shows up to visit Jasmine, she arranges an excuse for him to stay at Rose’s place. This was the tamest of the books, sex-scene wise, but there were more sweet moments between the two as they work out their past, present, and future.

Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable trilogy. There are a number of typos (especially in Ms. Quinn’s book), but not so many that it was terribly distracting. There were a few small continuity errors, although this is mainly because we see a few moments appear in different books, so therefore from a different woman’s POV. This actually was a nice touch for the most part. I only found one error that couldn’t be waved away with this reason, and that’s in Ms. Quinn’s book when Daisy says she was a transplant to San Diego in high school, whereas the other books say the three woman met in elementary school. (Unless maybe they are all transplants, but there is nothing to suggest that’s the case and a few details that make it seem not the case.)

As a whole, I’d give the trilogy 3.5 cat kisses. Individually, I’d give book one 3 cat kisses, book two 4 cat kisses, and book three 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


 

From the sexy, martini-inspired “Love With a Twist” Valentine Romance Collection by award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Calista Fox, New York Times bestselling author Erin Quinn and USA Today bestselling author Mary Leo:

A prophecy whispered in Jasmine Rosso’s ear by a gypsy fortuneteller in San Diego’s Seaport Village leads her to a sizzling night with sexy blown-glass artist Jake Hartnett. But the clock’s running out on the time allotted to fulfill the prophecy, and if Jasmine doesn’t make a true love connection with Jake before midnight on Valentine’s Day, she’ll lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve this past year…including the trendy martini bar and bistro, With a Twist, that she owns with her two best friends.

Worst of all, she’ll lose Jake—the only man she’s ever wanted.


Fate may have served up the wrong man, but for Daisy L’Amore, love comes with a twist.
Daisy L’Amore is faced with impossible choices. A prophecy given a year ago has Daisy and her two best friends racing the clock to find love before midnight on Valentine’s Day or they will lose everything they’ve worked for, including With a Twist, the martini bar and bistro the three of them own. A crystal heart and a gypsy’s words guide them, but love has a way of making its own rules, and Daisy is afraid to break them.

Romeo Corazón is shaking up Daisy’s world, but will the transformation he brings to her life be the downfall of everything she values? Or will falling in love with the wrong man make everything right?

 


When a gypsy’s prediction begins to come true, Rose Cupido dismisses it as a coincidence, but when a past estranged boyfriend shows up reminding her of the love she once felt for him, Rose can’t help wondering if that gypsy had true magical powers.