Author: Lila Leigh

M/M Romance Author with a passion for happy endings; avid romance reader. ♥ Love has no boundaries or gender preferences ♥ Sometimes 18+ NSFW

Forest of Thorns and Claws by J.T. Hall

ForestRating: 4 stars
Genre: 
Paranormal; Shifters
Publication day:
 May 15, 2017
Length: 
247 pages  
Publisher:
 Riptide Publishing

Donovan McGinnis, a veterinarian and conservationist at a research center in Sumatra, is fighting to save the rainforest from poachers and politicians alike. One day he discovers a tigress trapped by a snare, and while treating her injuries, she bites him. He becomes ill with strange symptoms that leave him feverish and dreaming of the jungle and blood.

Kersen and his family are part of the Harimau jadian, a clan of tiger shifters hidden away in a secret village near the rainforest. When Kersen’s sister is caught, he knows he must free her before she infects someone with their magic and reveals their secret.

But Donovan has already been turned, and only time will tell if he can control the tiger within. Kersen must help him, but will the fierce attraction between the pair bring ruin to them all? With the rainforest under threat from outside forces, they may be doomed anyway, unless Kersen and Donovan can find a way to defeat the danger from inside and out.

My View: Forest of Thorns and Claws is a different type of shifter story, more magical realism than mainstream weres. The policies, culture, and everyday life of the villagers is an integral part of the story. It goes beyond the traditional mating pull to an educated possibility of weretigers living in unexploited forests.

The book is well-crafted and reminds me of Ann Patchett’s States of Wonder. J.T. Hall takes the time to web her characters with the story.–there are one and the same. The descriptions were enticing and the shifting elements vivid.

We do get to see a bond between Donovan and Kersen, and later with the rest of the clan. But this novel brings the reader the opportunity to make their experience unique and somehow educational without losing the appeal of fictional shifter traditions.

What I liked the most: The importance of the weretigers as a cultural element.

I wanted more/less: A bit more romance.

Who should read it: Fans of more realistic shifter stories.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

Risky BehaviorRating: 4.25 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary
Publication day:
 May 1, 2017
Length: 
309 pages  
Publisher:
 Riptide Publishing

It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.

Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.

As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox—and borderline unethical—methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

My View: Risky Behavior is a police procedural thriller with a dosage of romance. Everything unfolds slowly until the very end, including Darren’s and Andreas’s relationship.  You have to pay attention to all the clues, and even so, you’d get surprised.

I enjoyed how all the characters–good & bad–are interrelated, not only with the investigation but with the main characters itself.  The pacing keeps the reader entertain, curious, and Andreas’s vulnerability is a nice reward. Darren is a more traditional character and it meshes well with his new, older partner.

I’m glad we get both POVs and extra opinions from other main players. There are a lot of conversations during the downtimes, but it was well-balanced with the rest of the action. Overall, this is a good romantic suspense with a strong HFN. Definitely, I’m looking forward to the next installment.

What I liked the most: How Darren got under Andreas’s skin.

I wanted more/less: More time with Darren and Andreas getting to know each other.

Who should read it: Fans of law enforcement stories.

ARC provided by Riptide Publishing, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur

FrostbiteRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Fantasy; Fairytale
Publication day:
 April 26, 2017
Length: 
48 pages  
Publisher:
 Less Than Three Press

After his sister touches a lethal Frost Flower and succumbs to Frozen Sickness, Rainor seeks out the mysterious Dragon, who purportedly holds the only cure for the fatal disease. In gratitude for saving his sister’s life, Rainor agrees to bring him fresh bread twice a week—despite the man’s insistence he wants for nothing.

As Rainor makes his deliveries, the two slowly become friends, and Rainor finds in the Dragon all the things he never found in his little village. But on his way to make his latest delivery, the unthinkable happens, and Rainor fears that if he asks for the cure he needs to live, he’ll lose the man he’s coming to love…

My View: Frostbite is a cute take on an old fairytale. The settings, atmosphere, and period characterization were excellent. The handful of characters is diverse and well-thought.

Drachen and Rainor are an interesting couple. I enjoyed how their friendship started and how they complemented each other. They have similar stories and family plays a role in their pasts and futures.

My only complaint is about the pacing. Not because it’s a short story, but because the time lapses seem randomly selected. Some unimportant details took the place of more relevant information.

Overall, a quick bedtime story.

What I liked the most: The main characters.

I wanted more/less: Less of a time lapse.

Who should read it: Fans of fairytales.

ARC provided by Less Than Three Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Back Piece by L.A. Witt

Back PieceRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary; Military
Publication day:
 April 25, 2017
Length: 
316 pages  
Publisher:
Swerve

Colin Spencer is a tattoo artist with a past he’d prefer to keep a secret. Actually, he has a few secrets that he’d rather people didn’t know about, which is why Colin doesn’t do commitment. But when a shy sailor approaches him at the gym, Colin finds this guy pushing all his buttons.

Growing up in a conservative family, then escaping with the Navy, Daniel Moore is an unsure virgin who feels like he can’t share his true self with anyone. Seeing Colin—and his tattoos—at the gym are the sign Daniel needs to finally get those tattoos he’s always wanted, and maybe try his hand at flirting.

As Colin and Daniel spend more time together, their awkward hesitations turn into a deep passion neither expected. But with both men harboring secrets, will their relationship be able to survive their insecurities and become something beautiful?

Back Piece is a sexy, emotional journey of two people learning to love and finding acceptance for who they really are.

My View: Back Piece is a beautiful story about self-discovery and first loves. Even when the characters aren’t new adults, the story has a youthful feeling. Both, Colin and Daniel have complicated pasts that keep them from moving forward with the lives they want. This book shows us their journey and how hard, but worth it, it was for them to heal and move forward.

As always, the accuracy of the military descriptions gives this story a strong sense of place. The tattoo details just add to the overall picture. I liked the slow pace of their relationship, but I think they have a stronger connection as friends/mentor than as lovers.

If you want to know more about enlisted military men with everyday jobs and tattoo artists, this is a perfect story for it. It’s not an easy book to read due to the MCs backgrounds, but it’s an interesting start to a series.

What I liked the most: The military accuracy.

I wanted more/less: More of a love connection between the MCs.

Who should read it: Fan of military stories.

ARC provided by Swerve, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Joy by C.S. Poe

JoyRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Contemporary
Publication day:
 April 5, 2017
Length: 
76 pages  
Publisher:
 Dreamspinner Press

Down on his luck is Gideon Joy’s default state. He doesn’t know why he expected anything different on his cross-country trip, but not surprisingly, the hits keep coming—literally this time. Gideon strikes a moose with his car in New Hampshire, not only totaling his own vehicle, but damaging one belonging to local construction worker Silas Bright. He has no choice but to stay in Lancaster and take a job that’ll pay for the repairs. And in a town so small, Gideon’s always running into Silas. What starts as annoyance between them soon blooms into something much more romantic. But when Gideon’s notorious bad luck rears its head yet again, how many disastrous dates will Silas be willing to weather before realizing Gideon’s not worth it?

Despite Gideon’s desire to remain in the quaint community that has accepted him as one of their own, past fears of inadequacy threaten the very joy he left Los Angeles to discover. If he’s to find a happily ever after with Silas, Gideon must learn that sometimes it’s okay to not be the best. And true happiness might be waiting in a small town nestled among the great White Mountains.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

My View: Joy starts right into the action and the main characters first meeting. It’s easy to see their personalities and how the rest of their new acquaintanceship is going to be. Gideon spends a lot of time on his head, but it paints a better understanding of everything happening and how his life’s unfolding.

This story has a slow burn and many of the dates between the characters happened off page. I wished we could have seen some of those to help move their relationship forward instead of taking it as a given.

I like Silas and Gideon and how everyone rallied behind them. All the secondary characters are great and take part in setting them up. There’s no angst, or anything else happening during the story, other than their love story developing. We see a little background, but the story is well-centered in the present.

Overall, a very sweet, very quick read. A perfect distraction for a  rainy day.

What I liked the most: How true to form the descriptions of life in a small town were.

I wanted more/less: I wanted a bit more conflict.

Who should read it:  Fans of sweet, angst-free romances.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.