Her Russian Protector #1-3 by Roxie Rivera

I picked up this box set of short novellas while they were on sale the other day. It contains the first three books of Roxie Rivera’s Her Russian Protector series. They are fairly quick reads, I finished the collection on a lazy Sunday. Not a bad little series. I am waiting for the fourth book to go on sale to finish the quartet that follows the brothers. I recommend it to anyone who is dabbling in erotica or loves hot romance/life and death stories. I probably won’t pick it up again, but I will most likely remember it. You can definitely see the author developing her writing skills though as you progress through the three books, which is a nice surprise.

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This follow’s Ivan and Erin’s story. I don’t know why, but I was not a fan of this story. I actually wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue reading after this book, but I did anyway. Erin’s drug addict sister goes missing and Erin approaches Ivan because it is one of his employees her sister was dating. Through the book, you find out the situation is much worse than was first suspected and Erin and Ivan are nearly killed. The two have a spark of interest in each other from the very beginning. As the story progresses, they start sleeping together the day they meet and their affection grows exponentially every day. The book was probably a quarter sex scenes, but it did kind of have a story line. It was pretty short as well. I find these kind of books rather boring if they are so unrealistic. This would probably never happen in any realm of possibility as it did, but hey that is what books are for.

My rating:

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After Ivan’s story, I was pleasantly surprised by Dimitri’s book. It follows the love story between him and Benny (Benita), who he has loved for years. You are introduced to them in the first book. The story picks up pretty much right as Ivan finishes.  Benny’s business is in major financial trouble and her brother is off running with the Hermanos gang and making life even more difficult for her. Dimitri insists on helping her at every turn, and one night after a particularly trying day, Dimitri finally gets her on a date. The story builds from there. A nasty real estate agent goes after Benny like a shark and Benny’s brother gets into a nasty mess. Through it all Dmitri tries to help her, even calling in his brothers to get them out of some really nasty scrapes. It is actually a great love story and I thought much better than the first book. There is just as many sex scenes in this book, and quite a bit of kink as well, but the story is also much longer. All in all, pretty well done.

My rating:

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Loving couple in the car embraces

Yuri’s book follows the story of him and Lena. Lena is a PR rep that is fighting with her biggest client. She eventually quits and winds up looking to start a new business. She ends up with Yuri, who has been trying to date her for months. Lena’s cousin gets into major trouble, and it eventually comes back to her. While trying to meet a ransom demand for her father, Yuri finds out someone else is gunning for him by going after Lena. This particular path of the story line helps you learn more about the brothers’ history together in the orphanage, in particular Nikolai. Once again all the brothers and the girls pull together to help each other. Again, a lot of sex scenes, but not too bad. I had a harder time relating to the characters, but that is me.

My rating:

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

First let me say, and you may have guessed if you read my reviews regularly, I listened to this book on audiotape. A bonus was it was one of my favorite voice actors, Devina Porter, that did the narration. Her skills and talent shone brightly in this book and I was very glad to have her as the narrator. It took me over a month to get through, and I have a long commute. However, I feel that it was well worth my time.

Secondly, I was blown away by this book. I had always heard that Tolstoy was dry, long-winded, and boring, however, I found the book very interesting, detailed, and in the same spirit (not topics or subjects of course) as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I have placed it on my 100 Books to Read Before You Die list with Jane Eyre. I find it somewhat more informative than the writings by the women because it gives a full snapshot of what life was like in turn-of-the-century Russia.

The book essentially follows two couples – Anna and Vronsky,  Levin and Kitty. There are numerous other important characters, but mostly it revolves around how everyone interacts with these four people. Anna is married to Alexei Karenin, but falls in love with Vronsky, causing numerous issues with her marriage. Levin is a country gentleman who has loved Kitty for years, but has never been brave enough to offer his hand. When he attempts to Vronsky stands in his way and he feels defeated. Both couples relationships grow and radiate, twist and turn, hum with love, and snag and break in different times, for different reasons, and in different ways. It is quite an emotional book for the period.

What I found extremely fascinating was the descriptions, explanations, and portrayal of turn of the century Russian society a short time after the Revolution. I had known nothing about Russia, its history or its people. I learned a lot just reading the book. Through the characters you learned about how the whole populace functioned, from the princes to the commoners, and their attitudes toward each other. Attitudes and ideas about education, women’s rights, politics, etc. were also discussed, these three topics being the most primary, along with agriculture and labor. The author gave an honest and effective portrayal of how society was both attempting and not attempting to change at the same time.

Furthermore, the book gave an exemplary account on the subtle influences of relationship. It is a great study on how insecurity, depression, stress, and social isolation effects people. Additionally, trust and pride are also shown in the different relationships. The commonplace attitude of mistresses and women’s places help to demonstrate the role of marriages and children. It was interesting to see how society and individuals were so influenced and could influence the happiness of others.

I would recommend this book to any serious reader. It is very long and you have to be determined to finish it, but it is well worth it. I would suggest audiobook as well, as I find it very enjoyable and helps to ease the dryness of some of the passages. All in all, it is a fantastic literary work.

My rating:

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Somehow, I have gotten through life without ever having read or watched Treasure Island. How I have managed this I have no clue and I feel that it was a tragedy that I had not read this book before now (I’m in my late 20s…). The most I have ever known about this book was bits and pieces (no more than 15 minutes) of Muppet’s Treasure Island: Mtiposter

I had a road trip this weekend and decided (mostly since I had just scrolled past it on my to-read list and it was on sale) to purchase Treasure Island to listen to on the drive. The voice actor, Neil Hunt, did a phenomenal job. He had a deep, gravelly voice that portrayed pirates well, as well as adapting to the accent and poor grammar, most of us associate with pirates (and also follows the text in the book – I looked it up).  It was especially fun to sing along –

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest,

yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Drink and the Devil had done for the rest,

yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

The story follows young Jim Hawkins. He accidentally finds the treasure map to an old pirate’s treasure on Treasure Island. He, the local doctor (Livesey), and the local Squire (Trelawney) hire a schooner, the Hispaniola, and a ragged crew to sail to the island and claim the treasure. I will go so far as to tell you there is a mutiny, and much of the story focuses around the discovery of the mutiny, the mutiny itself, and the aftermath, as the innocent treasure seekers fight for their lives. It was a fabulous example of story telling, with interesting twists and turns (not terribly surprising, but interesting all the same) that keep the reader entertained and engaged.

Different images of the treasure map:

Original – maptreasisle

Drawing – Treasure-island2

I thought this was a fantastic book. I understand now why it is considered the original and ultimate example for pirate stories. Betrayal, death, drama, treasure, excitement, all these are embodied in this book. I loved how the story is considered a narrative, a retelling, almost a historical account of events, but you get drawn in and you feel like you are there. The author holds back nothing of what life was like on the seas or what pirates were like (we assume). Dirty, coarse, and often gross and smelly, everything is described. Even emotions are described in detail, as well as the deaths of men in the book.

I would recommend this book to teens, young adults, and anyone looking for a good classic. It is definitely not a girly book, but women will like it if it is the type of read they are looking for. I would also recommend this to parents of older children to read it to them. Do be careful, however. This book was written in the late 1800s. There are a couple curse words, a lot of violence, death, a lot of drinking of rum, wine, and brandy (even by young Jim), as well as references to blacks as negroes. Despite these things, it is a great book that can provide “teachable moments” to older children or can be an interesting, valuable read to teens and older. Highly recommended.

My rating:

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For all you e-book readers out there

A friend of mine showed me this website the other day and I have already downloaded several books. It’s called Book Bub. This website compiles a daily list of e-books on sale (usually below $3.00) and a good majority are free. It lists the websites it can be found on – Amazon Kindle, Google Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, etc. You can set preferences for the types of books you want to know about and you can also get a daily email with the updated list of books. Also, when you log in, you are taken to thou cane latest recommendations and you can scroll through all the recent books still on sale. They list the date the sale expires. And the service is COMPLETELY FREE! Go on over and check it out!

https://www.bookbub.com/home

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Out of the Game (In the Zone #3) by Kate Willoughby

I was very surprised by the emotional depth of this particular book. In the first two book of the In the Zone series, there was a very strong emotional core of every book, but this book in particular struck me as very strong.

The story follows Alex, the resident playboy of the Barracudas team and how he comes to terms with having an actual relationship. His growth and development through the book absolutely fascinated me. His love interest is Claire, the sister of the love interest in On the Surface. Claire is recovering from a bad divorce of her ten year marriage that happened at the end of On the Surface. Her healing and getting back in to dating is good to read about as well, but I think Alex was by far the more interesting character. There is the normal hassling he receives from his teammates, running in to exes, and learning to share his life with another person. He is also dealing with issues from his past that really make you feel for him and hope he makes things work with Claire. It was fun, though, to see Claire grow into being a strong hockey girlfriend and learn to spread her wings after her divorce. She even organizes a fundraising event I though was awesome. You also get a better feel for the team dynamics in this book. It is interesting to get to know the other players a little better. I am hoping some of the others get a book soon. Hart and Jeremy also play a minor role in this book which was nice to see, but they are more prominent in Across the Line.

Like the other books, there is a lot of hockey in it which is nice for fans. Granted, it’s not a huge lot, as it is a novella, but it is definitely a part of the story and it is integrated beautifully. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for an intense, beautiful read for a day. It can be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading On the Surface first. There are a few things you learn in it that makes things in this book a little more clear. This book parallels with the second book Across the Line. The story lines are occurring at the same time. It is definitely a good romance without tripping over into erotic, which is great for a romance novella. It is even hard for me to classify this as a novella as it is a rather long one, which I thoroughly appreciated with the strong development of the story.

My rating:

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Across the Line (In the Zone #2) by Kate Willoughby

This is the second book in the In the Zone series. Like the first book, there is a lot of reference to and descriptions of hockey in it, which is nice for the fans.

The story follows Calder Griffin and Becca Chen. Calder is one of the enforcer type players that stay in the background on the ice, supporting the runs of the headliners to the goal. He is constantly trying not to be compared to his older brother Hart and found lacking. The story line covers the brothers reunion and changes in their relationship as the story develops. Becca Chen is a cafe owner in Boston. She comes from an Old World Chinese home where she has angered her parents by not following their idea of her life, having planned on her being a doctor. They happen to meet by chance on an airplane and they slowly begin to develop a cross-country relationship. The story primarily focuses on Calder and how he deals with shifting into his first real relationship in a long while and his confusing relationship with his brother.

I liked the story line. It had some general aspects, but the author developed them in a good way. The couple has its share of fights and making-up, but like the other books in the series, this is not an erotica novella. Calder and Becca fight over the same things that most couples fight over, which made the story more realistic and interesting. I particularly liked how the author helped develop Becca near the end of the book. Also, the side story of Hart is done extremely well. I hope he has his own story in the future. Another good read, by Willoughby. I would recommend this to romance and hockey fans.

My rating:

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Bring on the Dusk (Night Stalkers #6) by M. L. Buchmann

I had long awaited this book in the Night Stalker series. Michael has played a side role in almost every book so far (I say almost because he is not in the novellas). The book is a great way to continue the series, however, it is also a completely stand alone book as well. You do not have to have read the other books to understand anything in this book. I was surprised with the new female character that was introduced. She was not nearly as wild or deeply scarred as the other female characters so far. However, I began to bond with her the further in the book I got.

The plot follows the new female Little Bird helicopter pilot. She is brought in and pulls Michael out of a sticky situation on her first night. They go through the standard on/off relationship habits of the other books, but it is nice to be able to get to know these two characters. They are both very introverted and getting to hear their thoughts as they observe others is very interesting to me. Of, course there is a big mission that will prevent a world war. Claudia proves herself over and over in strategy and planning, balancing out to Michael’s adaptive reaction response to situations. There are a couple of surprises, but nothing crazy. I didn’t think it had the same intensity as the other books, but that might have just been me. There is a lot of suspense and action, drama and heartache throughout the entire book. I was a little confused at the end of the book as to where these two characters would end up afterward, there were a few things that popped up near the end that has me wondering and there was nothing concrete said. I am looking forward to the next book just to see how these characters make out later on.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes military romance or romantic suspense. The sex scenes are there, but they are spread out and the author focuses a lot on emotions and what drives the different characters. All in all it is a great read, but definitely not for someone new to the military romance or romantic suspense. There are a lot of military references and the fighting scenes are intense, just like the other books. If you are just getting into this series, I would recommend starting at the first or second book – The Night Is Mine and  I Own the Dawn.

My rating:

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On the Surface (In the Zone #1) by Kate Willoughby

This book popped up on one of the Twitter feeds I follow the other day as being a “Good Read on Sale” for $.99 in the Kindle store so I picked it up since I was looking for a simple read for the night. I was quite impressed with it. I thought it was a fairly original story line and done quite well.

The story follows a seasoned hockey player (Tim) as he works to remake his image in the league. He happens to meet a local nurse (Erin) by accident at a signing event, and the story unfolds. I don’t want to give too much away, but there are a lot of emotional highs and lows in the book relating to past and how each character deals with it. They really pull at your heart strings. I was absorbed while I read it. The characters are developed extremely well and go through a wonderful development of a relationship. There was also quite a bit of hockey bits and pieces here and there, which I liked being a rather novice hockey fan (I am in no way a hard-core fan LOL but I am learning to love the game). It gives a great impression of what a player’s life is like and the glimpse into that world is as fascinating as the growing relationship between the couple. There are some steamy sex scenes, but they definitely do not rule the book. The story grows and develops focused on the characters, not the sex. I am hoping in the following books, we will interact with Tim and Erin again in the future to see how they continue on and grow.

I found this to be a surprisingly good novella. This is an adorable read for anyone who likes hockey, or a good, fairly original romance. I will probably be reading it again, which definitely is saying something.

My rating:

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A Hockey Player’s Proposal (Oh Captain, My Captain #2) by Lindsay Paige and Mary Smith

This was a good short story. When I first started it, I thought it was going to be a dud, but it turned out alright. The hardest part for me was the author’s used present tense which threw me off a little at first because it seemed choppy and not flowing very well. However, once you got used to it, it didn’t really matter much.

The story follows a NFL captain, Brody, who happens to move next door to a hard-core hockey fan, Selene. The story starts with Brody thinking Selene is a stalker, but as they get to know each other, a romance kindles. The story follows the difficulties of starting a new relationship and explaining the trials and heartaches of the past to a new partner. To top it off, a REAL stalker shows up, add stress and drama to an already complicated relationship. The story keeps you interested, and moves along at a decent pace. There is a lot of sex scenes, but I have definitely read books that were a lot worse. This one actually had a story line and emotional growth in it, which was nice to see in a romance novella. One of my favorite characters was, surprisingly, Bonkers, the hyper, hockey-tv-watching dog of Selene. He was just too cute!

I would recommend this if anyone is looking for a simple summer romance read. There is not a lot of hockey really in it, so hockey fans probably won’t be drawn to it for the sport. The characters are interesting and well-developed, however, the story line wasn’t exactly original. It did a great job though of showing the emotions of the people being stalked which was a nice change.

My rating:

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Against His Will (Brides of Pemberley #3) by Nancy Kelley

This is the third book in the Brides of Pemberley novella series. I want to start by saying this book fascinated me. I was surprisingly complex for a novella. I loved the intrigue and mystery this book presented. It follows the unusual courtship of Sebastian Montgomery, an old military friend of Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Kitty Bennett.

If you read my review of Loving Miss Darcy by Nancy Kelley, you will know that I fell in love with her portrayal of Kitty in that book. This book is a lovely follow up to the story finished in Loving Miss Darcy. At the beginning, Montgomery has no intention of looking for a wife. However, when his grandfather dies, Montgomery unexpectedly finds himself in possession of the title of Earl of Lisle, and all the responsibilities that come with it. As he is required now to find a wife, he turns to Kitty, as the one lady he has found who doesn’t annoy him. The reader is drawn into the wonderful developing characters of Kitty and Montgomery (Lisle) as the grow in their courtship. Kitty grows stronger and surer of herself and Montgomery grows into a the man he has the strength to be. However, when suspicions begin to arise, the mystery and intrigue of a hidden assassin draw you in further.

I absolutely loved this story. It is a good story line for a novella, especially the way the author set it up. I do not think it would have been right to stretch it out to a full length novel. Possibly if she used Loving Miss Darcy and Against His Will, she could have developed a great novel, mixing in an additional story line that perhaps followed Elizabeth and Darcy as well. However, I loved having the short book to read and relax to one night.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in Pride and Prejudice sequels. However, you will need to read Loving Miss Darcy first for some of the book to make sense. This is a nice little series (I don’t know if there are more than three yet, but I will be checking) that Jane Austen fans would welcome. There is no smut or erotic in it at all which is wonderful. It focuses solely on the emotions, looks, and body language that make communication so interesting in those times.

My rating:

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