Lenni Reviews: “Aliens, Smith And Jones” by Blaine D. Arden

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

Set in the UK, Agent Connor Smith works for an organization that deal with aliens and alien artifacts. When he starts feeling paralyzed randomly, it is revealed that Noah, an alien, is making contact with him because he believes Connor is his soulmate. There is also an underground crime syndicate selling artifacts and aliens on the black market.

Despite the interesting premise, this book is sadly disjointed, unfocused, and stilted. I just didn’t feel much emotion from the writing and that made it hard to care once the plot really got going. I wanted to like this so badly but it just felt so dry. There’s some real untapped potential here but I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. 2.9 out of 5.

Lenni Revews: “Infected: Throwaways” by Andrea Speed

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

Holden Krause, a former rent boy turned private investigator/vigilante, is asked by a friend to find her missing husband and also asked by the police to look into the murder of a known local drug dealer. With the help of his partner, Chai, Holden uses all the skills at his disposal to suss out the killer and find the missing man.

This book feels really unfocused a lot of the time; simultaneously trying to work in the back story of the infected, some sort of feline shifter-like condition, despite Holden himself not being one. It’s heavy on the pop culture references and class, gender, and race politics. It’s important to include these things in your work but overuse can make your reader cringe no matter what side of the aisle you’re on and I did just that.

Overall, this reminds me of “Pushback” where the plot you’re expecting from the synopsis is secondary to other random details. The reader may be expecting more emphasis on the werecat virus and have it factor more into the plot other than a dramatic rescue, it really didn’t. It’s an ok book because Holden and Chai are fun characters to follow. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Defiant Revival” by L. Rockwood

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

Prince Michah is dead but the kingdom doesn’t know it. But Billiam, who has been in love with the prince for years, devises a plan to resurrect him and retake the kingdom from a power-mad despot.

Hooooo boy is this book filled with some exposition dumps! We get the tale from Leeke, a warrior who is somehow able to recount events she wasn’t there for in exacting detail. And as the narrative goes on we get so many characters and they tread the line between flawed and unlikable in a way that I don’t want to deal with them anymore and this book has the absolute gall to end on a cliffhanger! Even though this is a dark fantasy, one of my favorite genres, and the fight scenes are well written and interesting, it just was not enjoyable. It felt like work. And that stinks because the premise is amazing and when it’s on topic, the writing is good! 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Firebird and Other Stories” (Being(s) in Love #5) by R. Cooper

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

This book is a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the other Beings in Love books.

The first one is “The Firebird” set in France in 1934, where a firebird, Kazimir, becomes enamored with a writer named Jacob. Kazimir is used to being the center of attention and having admirers begging to be inspired by him. But Jacob sees Kazimir as more than just an object. It’s a sweet story about finding someone who really values you.

Next is “The Warrior’s Sacrifice” set in Mexico in 1947. Mateo is a “muxe” a person assigned one gender at birth but behaves associated with the opposite gender and he gets beat up for this and left as an offering to the jaguar who protects the town; named Carmelo. Carmelo is home from WWII and keeps Mateo safe, revealing he has been watching Mateo for some time. This is a really touching story with low angst.

Next is “Hyacinth on the Air” featuring a fairy named Hyacinth, who loves to push the boundaries of what he’s allowed to say on air. Seeing as this is set in 1961, there are some pretty strict standards so he causes no end of trouble for Walter, a human who’s in charge of cleaning up after the messes Hyacinth makes. Being a fairy, Hyacinth doesn’t understand why humans are so uptight and why Walter would resist their obvious attraction. This one’s cute but out of all of them this one I found the least impactful.

The next story is “A Giant Among Men.” Set in 1982, Vietnam veteran, former police officer, and troll, Tank, is determined to make sure his friend Simon, an elf, gets home safe after the bar where Simon works is vandalized by people who hate Beings. Simon resists the help because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak but comes to realize Tank sees him as much more than a pretty elf bartender. Pretty enjoyable for what it is.

Next up is “The Imp for Mr. Sunshine.” Set in 2005, Rennet – an imp – has a crush on John, the deputy mayor. Since things tend to go wrong when an imp is present, Rennet believes this bad reputation will keep him from this crush developing into anything more. Little does he know that John has been protecting him for more than just friendly reasons. The parts where Rennet is dealing with his nature and what that means to the people around him are the best in this story.

Next, we have “A Wolf in the Garden.” Miki is a human who loves to work with exotic pants so his job in a greenhouse that’s also in a magic shop is where he’s most comfortable. One day a werewolf named Diego comes into the shop and Miki is smitten, but he knows Diego had a mate, and she tragically died of cancer. Miki does see Diego wants him but believes a wolf only gets one mate in their lives and that a man like him who’s been abandoned by his family and has strange hobbies. These two make an adorable couple and I really enjoyed this story and it was cool to see previous characters like Kazimir reappear. It makes the world feel so much bigger.

Lastly, “The Dragon’s Egg” featuring Arthur and Bertie from “A Boy and his Dragon”. Here Bertie discovers an egg that is their child and Arthur goes into full nesting mode.

This is a pretty decent collection but I have to say “A Wolf in the Garden” and “The Warriors Sacrifice” are my favorite. The others just didn’t grab me as much and made the book feel SO much longer. To get the full experience, you really have to make sure you read the previous four books so don’t just hop into this one. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Little Wolf” (Being(s) in Love #4) by R. Cooper

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

Tim Dirus is on the run from his werewolf family and has taken up what he thinks of as temporary residence in Wolf’s Paw sanctuary, where the town’s tourism centers around a festival where their hunk of a sheriff, Nathaniel Neri. Everybody wants Nathaniel but he has his sights on Tim, who is ready to bolt at any moment if anyone from the Dirus family shows up to lock him away again.

As this is part of the¬†Beings in Love¬†series, you see some of the characters from the previous books make an appearance; making the world-building feel more expansive and detailed. Watching Tim slowly work his way toward understanding what he is and how he fits in is VERY well done and grounded. You can tell his family did a number on him and he’s trying to heal. And don’t let the title fool you. I expected Tim to be some shy thing but Tim’s got some sass in him! He takes crap from no one and I like it.

So far, this is my favorite of the series because the stakes are higher. Tim has some dangerous people after him and this book doesn’t shy away from that. It made this the most thrilling book in the series to me. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate” (Being(s) in Love #3) by R. Cooper

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

When they were teenagers, Zeki had a crush on the most popular werewolf in high school, Theo Greenleaf but left town before anything could happen due to being bullied for being human in a werewolf school. Now returning to the werewolf sanctuary/tourist town of Wolf’s Paw as an adult, Zeki is an accomplished wizard looking to show his high school bullies how far he’s come but hears Theo is nearly broken from his mate rejecting him years ago. Now, Theo buries his emotions in baking and volunteering for the local fire department. Zeki unknowingly seeks to reconnect with Theo not knowing he was the mate who rejected him so long ago.

So far, this is the best of the series. I love how it goes into how weres don’t need words to make themselves understood and how frustrating it can be for a human to understand what any of them are feeling since we lack those senses. I think they took WAY too fucking long to finally let Zeki in on the idea; leaving him fumbling as to why everyone is mad at him. The chemistry between Zeki and Theo is fantastic and in place of the long back and forth of the previous book, there’s some real growth and understanding that needs to take place for our pair to finally come together. And in the end, I was happy with the ending. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Boy and His Dragon (Being(s) in Love #2) by R. Cooper

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

Arthur MacArthur is in dire need of a job, wanting to get out of debt and perhaps go back to school when his recovering alcoholic sister is in a better place. One of his former professors sets him up with a job being an assistant to Philbert Jones, a historian, and writer but also a dragon with a horde of books. Not fully understanding dragons, Arthur learns about his new boss and the pair have a connection but Arthur doesn’t want to ruin his chances at this job.

While the writing if this book in the series is improved over the first, this book spends WAY too much time on the will they/won’t they back and forth where I found wanted to jump into the book and just scream “UGH! Just kiss already!” Then once they get to the point, Arthur and Philbert have great chemistry and I enjoyed their journey! Then it screeches to a halt. It’s just done. I would have liked a more rounded conclusion but I enjoyed this overall. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Some Kind of Magic” (Being(s) in Love #1) by R. Cooper

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

Detective Ray Branigan knows Cal is his mate but believes fairies (even half fairies like Cal Parker) are too flighty for a long term commitment like mating. So, when they’re paired together on a case involving some mysterious and vicious murders, Ray’s restraint is tested as Cal is too tempting to resist.

This had all the hallmarks of something I’d enjoy and it did me the honor of not dropping the mystery part (unlike the Isle of series did). The problem here is with the writing. I found myself often confused as to who was who and critical details that would have helped me understand things, people, and places better – and enjoy the book more – were missing. In the end, I was left feeling like I missed something. Cal and Ray were cute and all but I feel like I never got immersed and I was left wanting. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Bound for the Forest” by Kay Berrisford

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

When Brien returns to his childhood home to scrounge up something he can sell to settle his debts, he doesn’t expect to find a thief named Scarlet attempting to burn the place down. Scarlet considers Brien to be a traitor to the forest as he as abandoned his birthright. But all the legends Brien has shunned or dismissed as heathen tales are suddenly very real and very dangerous, much like his attraction to Scarlet.

This book takes the heavy kink of something like Take it All and ads a hefty dose of faerie lore. Brien and Scarlet’s will they/won’t they does go on a tad too long but they develop good chemistry so they may have been thrown together but they work. It’s when the book gets DEEP into its lore that could turn some people off. I personally loved the detailed world building around our main character’s sexual relationship.

And that relationship is intense, graphic, BDSM and some dubious consent. Not for the faint of heart.

This isn’t insta-love but it is insta-lust that becomes love later. If that’s your jam and you enjoy historical fantasy, this is a great outing! 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Kelpie Blue” by Mell Eight

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

As a kelpie, Blue is used to drowning humans in his lake and devouring them. But when a human named Rin and his mother move on to the property, Blue becomes fascinated by the strange boy. Eventually, the pair becomes inseparable but Rin’s mother is on the verge of losing the farm and her horse raising business. Blue offers to help by using his horse form to win races but outside forces from the fairie realm put them all in more danger than just losing their home.

As a gay romance, it’s fairly light but as a fantasy, this book is fun and interesting. I have to say I didn’t expect how the story went as the blurb accompanying it was WAY more vague, but it was satisfying and entertaining. Blue is a great character and Rin’s mother is a badass. Rin himself is more of a blank slate in comparison but we’re following his story and he’s a decent enough guy. I also love how the story is framed by Rin and Blue writing to each other in what is supposed to be a private diary. Very cute. 3.9 out of 5.

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