Speed Mating by Jessica Sims
Midnight Liaisons series
Estrella is an anomaly in her pack--she is a liger: half tiger, half lion. While she doesn't really fit in with her tiger pack, she is not accepted at all by the lion pack. Estrella had always been told she was sterile, and she believed that right up until she realized that she was going into heat. Now with only a week's notice, she needs to find someone she likes to service her needs and be the father of her child.
The one man she truly desires is her alpha, Vic. But since she thinks he could never be interested, she goes through the motions of dating and looking for a mate.
Speed Mating is a fun and sexy little story. There is a bit of humor and light-heartedness throughout the novella. I liked that the story stayed in Estrella's POV for the duration of the tale because it elevated the tension without knowing Vic’s true feelings. The pair are a joy to watch as they come together.
Bottom line: Cute, sexy shifter story. Lots of fun.
Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane
Code of Shadows 0.5
Readers of Ms. Crane’s first release in this series, Mr. Real, will recognize Vicky as Alix’s Great Aunt who left Alix all of her worldly possessions - including a computer program that brings to life objects from photos. One need not have read Mr. Real to enjoy this novella.
Vicky is in danger and in hiding from crime syndicate boss, Salvo. She’s used her knowledge of witchcraft and computer programing to bring to life Max, former Chicago police officer recently killed in the line of duty, to be her bodyguard.
The story opens about three months after Vicky first conjured Max. I liked that Max knows he's been conjured from a photo (and the “real” Max is dead). Max is more human that most as he contemplates life, the existence of a soul, falls in love with Vicky, and learns to let go of the daughter he orphaned after his murder.
The opening of the novella is very exciting. We have no idea why Salvo is after Vicky, only that he is relentless in his pursuit. The action is suspensefully written, keeping this reader glued to the pages. In addition, the book has a heart and tackles powerful emotions. The concepts of life, death and love are wonderfully interwoven into the thrilling tale.
The story switches POV between Vicky and Max. We learn of their mutual yet secret desire and admiration for the other. I loved how Vicky pushes Max and how Max teaches Vicky to learn to let go. As the story progresses you learn how perfectly matched the pair is. It's lovely to see the give and take between the individuals.
Bottom line: Exciting action with heart. As a fan of Mr. Real, I enjoyed “history lesson” about how the computer codes came to be.
Wrecked by Meljean Brook
Iron Seas series
Five years ago, Elizabeth Jannsen ran from her powerful father, who subsequently sent highly-trained hunters to collect her and bring her home. Caius Trachter was the only one to ever capture her, but she was able to make a dangerous escape. (2 years prior to the start of this story.)
Now Elizabeth's father has caught up to her, and she must make a quick exit. Little does she know that Caius is watching, nor does she know that he has loved her since the day he met her.
I must share with you that I am completely in awe of Ms. Brook’s storytelling and of the tales she spins. She is simply a master at her craft. Wrecked is no exception, further cementing the Iron Seas series as one of the Top 5 series among the current romance genre.
Elizabeth has every reason to run from her father, and when you find out why, I imagine your jaw will drop just like mine. Knowing that she has little chance to escape Caius, Elizabeth makes the decision to trust the man that once tried to turn her in. The pain and heartache, loneliness and internal torment of both Elizabeth and Caius is portrayed with an absolute care for detail. Elizabeth loves her father, but he is a madman and she cannot see a way out of her situation without someone's death. She wants to trust and believe Caius, but she isn't certain how. This creates emotional conflict and amazing tension. The emotional depth of the novella is on par with a story two to three times its length.
In addition, the details of the ship, voyage and world are wonderfully woven into the tale. The action--hunt and chase--are thrilling and suspenseful.
The story reaches beyond the two primary characters without stretching thin the plot of and time allotted to the primary tale. For example, I adore Captain Harker who is the captain of the ship on which Elizabeth attempts her escape. He is a supporting character with a ton of integrity. His actions give Elizabeth the ability to trust another human. It is endearing how he cares for her in his own polite way.
The ending of the story was “perfect” for the situation and again brought forward an array of emotions, but this time a bit different from the earlier scenes. It was a touching, albeit simple, way to wrap up the tale... perfect.
I absolutely loved this novella. *sigh* I cannot say enough about how great the Iron Seas series is. This novella is a stand alone and can be enjoyed by all. It is a sweet romance, suspenseful action, exquisite steampunk world and all around wonderful story.
Bottom line: Amazing adventure full of rich detail and complex storytelling that will blow you away.
Overall, Fire & Frost offers three wonderful tales, each very different, but all exciting, romantic and fun!