Heart of Venom (by Jennifer Estep)

Urban Fantasy

Many years earlier Sophia was kidnapped and brutalised by Harley and his sister, both powerful fire elementals.  She escaped with the help of Gin’s mentor and surrogate father Fletcher, but it nearly killed them.  Now Fletcher is dead and Harley has returned and dragged Sophia back to his mountain fortress.

Gin launches a suicide mission to rescue Sophia and kill Harley once and for all, but when Harley and his sister combine their fire magic they are all but unbeatable.

In Heart of Venom Jennifer Estep turns her attention to Sophia, one of my favorite characters from the series. The entire series is brash and in your face, and this book is quite possibly the best yet.

I also want to say, that cover is superb. The artist has absolutely nailed it.

Many thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC.

Beautiful Bad Man (by Ellen O’Connell)

Historical / Western Romance


Caught stealing from a group of free settlers, a starving boy faces mob justice. Norah, herself just a child cannot accept the injustice and sets him free before he can be lynched.

“Everyone you see is either predator or prey, wolf or rabbit. Wolf is better.”


Caleb Sutton (Cal) is Webster Van Cleve’s newest gun for hire. Van Cleve’s goal is to run farmers off their land and claim it for himself. Arriving at a run down earthen house with a group of hired guns, he discovers a defeated widow just waiting to die. When he realizes the woman is the girl who saved him many years earlier, he steps in and stops the other hired guns from raping her and forcing her from her land.

Norah has lived the hard life of a farmer, taking the little the land gives and stretching it as far as it will go. After her husband is murdered by Van Cleve there is little she can do but wait to die. When Caleb steps in and starts helping her, she is mistrustful of the hired killer, but over time she comes to accept him and then love him. Cal lends his strength to Norah and Norah gentles Cal.  But as the range war escalates and a bounty is placed on Cal, the only option left to them is to either abandon the land and run, or fight and become outlaws.

“Put that rifle down, Mrs Hawkins. I don’t want to shoot a woman, but I will if I have to.”
Her hands stayed steady, and she didn’t let the rifle waver. “Mrs Sutton. And I don’t want to shoot a sheriff, but I will if I have to.”

I feel I should say, I don’t really know anything about this period of American history, apart from what this book and Wikipedia told me. If I’ve made mistakes in using incorrect terms, I’m sorry for that.

Beautiful, Bad Man is a great book. It’s completely captivating from start to finish. It’s one of those rare books that I can’t fault in any way.  Highly recommended for anyone who reads romance, but especially for fans of Western Romance.

“He’s a bad one.”
“Oh, Mabel, yes he is. He’s a very bad man, but he’s a beautiful bad man.”

Home to Whiskey Creek (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance (with a dash of Suspense)

After one traumatic night, a night when she was gang-raped by a group of young men from the school’s baseball team, Adelaide left Whiskey Creek and the grandmother she loved. Now 15 years later her grandmother is too old to care for herself so she must return to the town where the men who raped her still live as respected members of the community.

When Noah finds Adelaide at the bottom of a mineshaft his protective instincts take over. But he can’t understand why Adelaide is so hesitant in sharing the details of her assault. As their relationship develops, the men who attacked her are watching nervously.

Home to Whiskey Creek is contemporary romance with a little suspense thrown in for good measure. There were a couple of missteps…I think Baxter’s story which has been bubbling away in the background for the last couple of books didn’t really add anything to the story. The conclusion felt a little rushed and I can’t help but think those pages devoted to Noah and Baxter would have been better spent fleshing out the ending.

But overall I liked this book a lot and those small criticisms don’t make me like this book any less. It’s probably my favorite in the series so far.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Tell the Wolves I’m Home (by Carol Rifka Brunt)

Young Adult

June is a shy and awkward 14 year old. She lives in the shadow of Greta, her popular and gifted sister who hates her. The one person in her life who gets her –– her only friend –– is her uncle Finn. When he dies of AIDS she is left alone and bereft.

Then one day she receives a package containing a teapot that belonged to her uncle. His lover Toby has sent it to her and wants to meet her. But with her entire family blaming Toby for Finn’s death they need to meet in secret.

As the weeks pass they are able share in their grief and remember Finn who they both loved. But Toby also has AIDS and as their friendship grows, his health declines.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is the heart-wrenching story of one young girl who is dealing with grief and loss. It really is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved it so much that I bought more than one copy for myself and have given copies to some close friends. I want everyone to read this book.