Lenni Reviews: “Matters of the Heart” by Alli Reshi

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

Dimitri is an alien working as an investigator for crimes regarding other extraterrestrial beings. When a case comes across his desk about corpses being found with burn marks over their hearts, he must put aside his feelings for his newly reconnected friend Devin; who is in the hospital after being shot trying to assassinate the president.

I enjoyed this but this is another mystery with romance that left me wanting to know more about the mystery because it was wrapped up too fast and with too much simplicity. They don’t so much work out and chase down the serial killer as the killer (er… spoilers, I guess?) just shows up ready to be captured. It ruins any tension on the mystery side of a romance/mystery. The character of Devin is compelling enough on his own where he may have made a better antihero or redeemed villain. Feels like a missed opportunity. I’d give it a 3… Maybe closer to a 4 but not quite.

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Lenni Reviews: “Heart of Chaos” by Avery Stiles

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

Rin Sarduuri has everything going for her. She’s a powerhouse in her company, negotiating deals her parent’s are immensely proud of and taking the business to new heights. But as she is still single, one of her business partners quite suddenly proposes to her right in front her the entire office as well as her parents. Feeling trapped, Rin flees to the altar of Vistri; a shape-shifting trickster god and agrees to whatever the god wants to get her out of this marriage. But what Vistri offers is to be her bride instead.

It was hard to get a bead on this book because of the distinctly modern setting but the gods are real. I can only really chalk that up to the story simply not having enough time for world building because of the breakneck pace and short length. This cute little story about a god and a human falling in love hits all the beats it should without feeling forced and it’s a nice diversion for a quick read. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Beast” by Jamie Sullivan

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Beau thinks he’s got a hot story when he gets a tip that rock star Gabriel Fletcher, who has been out of the limelight for a year, is hold up in a remote mansion. What he finds there seems inhuman.

As a parody of Beauty and the Beast, this book hits all the beats of the original fairy tale ok. But where this book misses the mark is the relationship between the two main characters. They jump from learning to tolerate one another right into boning and proclamations of love. I couldn’t get to know them well enough to buy them as a couple so it falls flat when they get together. Maybe if it had more time to develop, it would have been more enjoyable. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Murder at the Second Chance Ranch” by L.J. Hamlin

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Looking for a fresh start after being released from prison, Tommy secures a job at the Second Chance Ranch. Hoping only to keep his head down and lead a quiet life, he tries to resist his attraction to Cash and Red; two ranch hands who have obvious feelings for one another as well as Tommy. As the three of them grow closer, a much darker threat emerges as a dead body is found at the ranch.

This story was ok. Our three main leads have distinct and well written personalities but given the short length, nothing feels tight and contained; just underdeveloped. Everyone is just all in love right away and the mystery is very basic, more of a frame to hang the three way relationship on to. One good point I feel the need to mention is how the cops don’t immediately demonize Tommy because he’s an ex-con. It would have been so easy to use that trope and thankfully it wasn’t. A bit of a hollow experience overall. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Smoke Signals” by Meredith Katz

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Working what should have been a typical shift at a customer service phone line for a gaming company, Mike is suddenly asked by a dragon to install the company’s entire catalog of games, necessitating the need to stay at the dragon’s home for several days. Zali’thurg like any dragon has a horde and games are his collection of choice. Now that Mike has proven himself competent, Zali’thurg insists he maintain and protect his collection not realizing Zali’thurg may want to keep him as well.

I LOVE how our main characters are so damn practical. Mike and Zee sit and talk about how they feel and their boundaries. They take some time to come together and work things out when they have a conflict. They are so damn forthright and honest, it’s adorable. And seeing how this is a paranormal romance set in modern day with a dragon that hoards video games, this could have fone VERY wrong and ended up a veritable cringe-fest of references. Thankfully, this book avoids that.

However, this book is hampered by its short length. Clocking in at only 100 pages, Katz has to get these two into the sack at least once before the end and once they do, it’s mostly exposition towards the end. But it was still cute! 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Enter the Dragon” by Jamie Sullivan

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Jac Conway has always dreamed of working with dragons. Having joined the Academy, he is eager to work with them directly but novice students are not allowed near dragons. But when a prank by older students lands him smack in a dragon’s cave, he gets much more involved with them than he planned.

This is a pretty simple set up with the conflict centered around Jack being tricked into his initial encounter with his dragon mate rather than it happening by chance. That was a bit offputting but everything is consensual so no triggers here if you’re looking to avoid non-con.

It’s short with not much staying power but it’s cute enough. The best parts are the baby dragons. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Rise Again” by L.J. Hamlin

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Arkady is a rising star, the bad boy of ballet until a freak accident destroys his leg; ending his career. His physical therapist, Prisha, recommends he befriend Cade, an artist with a handicapped arm. Their attraction quickly becomes more than friendship but the freak accident wasn’t an accident at all and whoever tried to kill Arkady hasn’t given up.

When I read the description from the book, I did not expect a killer. I expected Arkady’s struggles to recover from his injuries and face his vastly altered life. Even so, that struggle is there and given its short length, perhaps going with a killer as the main plot was a good idea.

That being said, I liked main leads who aren’t perfect, chiseled gods among men and they have real human flaws and scars. They are normal people just different. Their relationship is still instalove but that’s alright. They work even if Cade is a little too chill with someone trying to kill his new boyfriend. A quick fun read. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Storm Lords” by Ravon Silvius

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Rowen lives in scorched and lonely life in a village ravaged by heat storms. After losing her parents and his voice, the final straw is his fellow villagers leaving him exposed in the sun for a crime he didn’t commit. Before the heat can claim him, Rowen is rescued by Kristoff, a Storm Lord who came to break the heat storm with his powers and sensed Rowen has some abilities as well. Jumping at the chance to prevent the same sort of heat storms that claimed his parents, Rowen throws himself into his training but when his abilities flummox his mentor, Kristoff doubts he can be the man Rowen needs in every sense of the word.

Even without the romance, this would be a cool fantasy novel. The best parts are the world building and the magic, as well as Rowen himself as a sympathetic and determined character. From there this book wanders into mediocre territory where not much development is given to other characters, even Kristoff. Overall this balances out to a 3 out of 5 for me; good but not great.

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Lenni Reviews: “Two for the Show” by Megan Derr

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

For the sake of keeping the tabloids busy, retiring rockstar, Niko, grabs a public smooth from country music star, Jake; believing the scandal of kissing a straight guy will distract while Niko rescues custody of his niece and nephew from his abusive drunk of a brother. What he didn’t count on was Jake kissing him back. What begins as a ruse for the press may become something more if Jake and Niko are willing to take a chance.

About halfway through this, I really wondered what was taking so long because it seemed obvious the main pair had caught some feels. But the last half didn’t drag out the ‘will they/won’t they’ theme in a way that bores the reader. In fact, the main conflict between Niko and Jake isn’t their feelings. I won’t spoil it but it was an angle I appreciated the book addressing since it felt more in line with the main characters personalities and fit the story. A sweet story with a surprisingly natural progression! If you like m/m romance centering around music, this ain’t half bad. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Otaare” by Alessandra Ebulu

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Nigerian singer Bolarinwa “Blaze” Johnson has released a new song entitled “Otaare.” However, Nigerian writer Ukeme Collins accuses the singer of ripping off his work; igniting a Twitter war. In order to calm things down, Blaze offered Ukeme a chance to clear the air by appearing in public as friends. But the more often they spend time together in public for the press, the more they find themselves wanting something deeper.

Our main characters are interesting and the social media aspect of this could easily end up overused and cringy but this book manages to avoid that. It is also awesome to see a romance set in Nigeria and despite the story meeting every beat you would expect, I did enjoy a story with more diversity and some level-headed main leads. 3.7 out of 5.

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