review: echoes of fire

Beware: Echoes of Fire is a racy read. It contains naughty language and graphic sexuality. If you prefer sweet romances, this one is not for you.

Echoes of Fire by Suzanne Wright (2018)

Echoes of Fire is the first book I’ve read by Suzanne Wright, and I’m asking myself how I have missed stumbling upon this author until now. I was absorbed by the story and the characters right from the beginning and stayed up past my bedtime on a Sunday night because I didn’t want to put the book down. And that was after having spent most of the day with my head in the book. Wright has instantly gone to my “read more books by this author” list. Echoes of Fire is the fourth book in Wright’s Mercury Pack series, shifter romances set in a contemporary world where humans know about the existence of shifters. Not having read any of the other books in this series (or its sister series featuring the Phoenix Pack), I can assure you that this book definitely stands alone. Concerned about your book budget? At the time of this writing, Echoes of Fire is included with your Kindle Unlimited subscription (if you’ve got one), but it’s not available through my local library. But listen, this book is worth your book dollars. Especially if you love racy romances and shifter romances that are well-written, fast-paced, and totally engaging.

This is the story of Madisyn and Bracken. Madisyn is a feline lone shifter who spends half her time working in a shelter, where she occasionally relocates shifters looking for a safe home and a fresh start. The other half of her time is spent working in The Velvet Lounge, a bar owned by the Mercury Pack. Though she doesn’t belong to the pack, she is under their protection, which becomes important when she refuses to give an Alpha bear shifter the information he wants about Daisy, a young bear shifter who Madisyn recently relocated. The thing Madisyn wants most is her independence and freedom, and learning Bracken is her true mate threatens to rob her of the life she thinks she wants. Bracken is a wolf shifter who has become isolated from his pack as a result of a massacre-type event that killed his entire family. Driven by vengeance, he tracks down those responsible for the deaths of his family, but now he is drifting through life with no real purpose and can’t find any joy or happiness in anything. He is on the verge of leaving the pack to go roaming, but learning that Madisyn is his true mate changes his mind. What Bracken needs most is confidence in his ability to protect those he loves, and the action plot of the novel challenges his confidence time and time again. Both Madisyn and Bracken are likable, fully developed characters, and I quickly got invested in them as a couple.

The story is told through Madisyn and Bracken’s alternating third-person POVs. Through their narratives you get to see several of the other members of the Mercury and Phoenix packs, who make up the supporting cast. One thing that stands out to me about Echoes of Fire is that since Wright keeps her lens tightly focused on Madisyn and Bracken, the supporting cast doesn’t jump out at me as much as other books. Sure, Madisyn’s closest friend, Makenna plays the role of BFF, but the sense of just how isolated Bracken has allowed himself to become is reinforced by the seeming lack of a BFF character for him. That being said, the antagonists of the story feel a lot more vivid than the supporting cast. The Alpha bear who continues to come for Madisyn, intent upon forcing her to tell him what he wants to know, as well as the characters he pulls into his plot to get what he wants, are the side characters that interested me most. Well, of course there was also Vinnie, the leader of the Olympus Pride who has unofficially adopted Madisyn into their group and come to her aid when she needs it. Still, I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was the laser-like focus on Madisyn and Bracken. They never disappear from the story and their narrative on what is happening at any given moment in the story was one of the most compelling aspects of the book. One of the writing rules I do my best to follow is to present compelling main characters, people who readers want to keep following through the story, who they simply can’t look away from. Wright has nailed that rule in Echoes of Fire and in doing so, gained a raving fan.

In case you missed it, I recommend this book to readers who love racy shifter romances with a strong subplot that brings a little mayhem and danger into the lives of the protagonists, threatening everything that matters most to them. Echoes of Fire is one of those books you will have no regret reading during the course of a lazy Sunday while ignoring all the household chores and general noise of everyday life. If you’re looking for the next book escape, put Echoes of Fire on the top of your to-be-read pile.

Have you read Echoes of Fire or any of the previous books in the Mercury Pack series? What do you think?

p.s. Since reading Echoes of Fire, I have gone on to read five other books by Suzanne Wright and not one of them has been a disappointment.

NOTE: I enjoy reading steamy romance novels but it’s not easy to find quality reads in this category. It can be challenging—even after you’ve read the back cover blurb and a sample—to know for sure if a particular book is worth your time and money. If you’re a reader like me who likes this category but wants quality over quantity, then drop a comment below and let me know if this review was helpful to you.

review: a dangerous hunger

Beware: A Dangerous Hunger is a racy read. It contains naughty language and graphic sexuality. If you prefer sweet romances, this one is not for you.

A Dangerous Hunger by J.S. Scott (2014)

A Dangerous Hunger is the second book in the paranormal romance series, The Sentinels. I haven’t read book one in this series and have to admit that was a mistake on my part. After finishing A Dangerous Hunger, my guess is that the books in this series are best read in order. That being said, I’ll do my best to avoid revealing any spoilers.

In the world of The Sentinels, there is a war raging between good and evil to which the humans of the world are blind. Standing on the side of evil are the Evils, demons created by the mythological Greek gods who were banished to the demon realm existing between Earth and Hades when they got out of control. However, with the power of the Greek gods waning to almost nothing, the Evils have been able to break free from the demon realm and terrorize humans. Enter the Sentinels. Also created by the Greek gods, the Sentinels stand on the side of good and were tasked with the responsibility of keeping humans safe from the Evils. The Sentinels are human men turned into immortal demons, their souls plunged into eternal darkness. That is, until they meet their radiants—mates who will bring light to their existence. It is within this world that the story of Talia and Drew unfolds. Continue reading

review: blind reader wanted

Beware: Blind Reader Wanted is a racy read. It contains naughty language and graphic sexuality. If you prefer sweet romances, this one is not for you.

Blind Reader Wanted by Georgia Le Carre (2017)

This is the story of Lara and Kit. Lara is a twenty-two year old young woman who makes her living as a sculptor (I only mention Lara’s age here because this could fall into the New Adult category, which I tend to stay away from and thus it may be a detail that matters to you). She lives in a small town where everyone knows her name, an insular community with a healthy grapevine for gossip and that shuns outsiders. Lara loves to read (definitely a point in her favor) and lives life fearlessly. Her best friend is Elaine, and though everyone knows her, she’s a loner with no close family. Kit is also a loner, having come to the small town of Durango Falls five years ago. He lives on an isolated tract of land near the mountains, and in the time he’s been in town, the locals have made up all kinds of stories and gossip about him. Kit has been fine with this solitary existence, preferring to make friends with the wolves on his property than cultivate friendships with the townspeople. Kit has scars on his body resulting from third degree burns sustained from military combat, and though he has avoided people since settling in the town, loneliness drives him to post an ad in the local library for a blind reader. He wants someone—a woman—to come to his home and read to him to alleviate his solitary existence.

The meet cute happens quite late in the story (in my humble opinion, in a romance novel, the lovers should meet in the first chapter, the second chapter at the latest). When it does finally happen, though, for Kit it’s love at first sight. Okay, because this is not the first romance novel I’ve read, I’ll continue to suspend my disbelief. The first meeting between Lara and Kit is stilted and awkward, but Lara agrees to accept the job as his blind reader, and this is how the two will continue to come into contact through the first half of the story. However, this means that there is not a lot of interaction between the two main characters through the first half of the novel. For me, this is problematic because what I think I’m reading is a romance novel, but it’s hard to believe the romance when the lovers hardly see each other for half of the book. It’s also problematic because it makes it difficult to build believable sexual tension between Lara and Kit, and further still, I found it difficult to get fully invested in their love story or in them as characters.

The story is told through Lara and Kit’s alternating first person point of view (POV). Because first person is typically closer and more intimate, I shouldn’t have struggled to get involved in these characters and want to root for them. But I did. I also had a structural problem with the novel (and yes, this is me talking with my writer hat on, but it frustrates me as a reader as well)—the chapters are super-short and often end mid-conversation. For example, we’ll have a conversation between Lara and Kit, and the chapter will end right in the middle of it—not necessarily for cliffhanger effect. You expect that the next chapter will be from the other POV, but when you turn the page, you’re still in that same character’s POV. So why stop in the middle of a conversation? I wanted this author to make more effective use of scene breaks. Also, I find this trend in contemporary fiction toward super-short chapters a bit insulting to me as a reader, as though I have no attention span at all and have to be fed the story in short bursts lest my fragile attention wander (and if my attention does wander, that’s a fault in the story for not keeping me engaged). My other problem with this story is that the author has trouble keeping character names straight. There are two characters in the novel whose last names change multiple times. Yes, this is probably me being nitpicky but well that’s my prerogative as a reader, right?

I start a lot of books and don’t finish them because something turns me off and makes it easy for me to put the book down. I’m trying to do less of that this year. I’m trying to finish more of what I start and I’m also trying to review more of what I read. Mission accomplished with Blind Reader Wanted. However, if you’re looking for a racy read (and by racy, I mean steamy hot romance) that includes well-developed characters and a compelling story, look elsewhere.

NOTE: I enjoy reading steamy romance novels but it’s not easy to find quality reads in this category. It can be challenging—even after you’ve read the back cover copy and a sample—to know for sure if a particular book is worth your time and money. If you’re a reader like me who likes this category but wants quality over quantity, then drop a comment below and let me know if this review was helpful to you.