Book Review: A Talent for Trickery

Book: A Talent for Trickery

Author: Alissa Johnson

Recommendation: Solid Read

Fun, sassy book

I was looking for a fun book to pass a cold and rainy evening. This book checked a lot of boxes for me, and it didn’t disappoint in the execution.


I thoroughly enjoyed the characters.

Owen, the hero, was a white knight. He was not your typical alpha male, always knowing best. He stumbled, made mistakes, but at his core, he was always good and trying to do what was best. He was competent, smart, but not invincible. You also understood why he struggled not to always take charge.

Lottie, the heroine, was smart and savvy. She had a hard upbringing with a criminal father involving his children in his schemes. She’s come a long way, but trust doesn’t come easily for her. I also loved her relationship with her siblings

All of the supporting characters are excellent. Owen’s two men I’m sure will feature in future stories. Esther, Lottie’s sister, is a complex and developed character. More than that, the author focuses on the sisters’ relationship. How they argue, keep secrets, and try to protect each other. Esther is not just tacked on for a bridge into a sequel. No fighting over a man, either, thank goodness!

I really enjoyed the playful banter as well. The characters laughed and teased, even in some of the tense scenes as Lottie comes to terms with her past (as real people do).


The romantic plot was solid. Lottie might have forgiven the hero over past wrongs a tad easily, but I also applaud the author for not dragging it out interminably. And the reasoning behind the forgiveness did not require me to suspend disbelief.

This is a mystery romance, and the mystery seemed solid to me. I was surprised by the villain at the the end, but not unduly so, and all of the clues leading up to it kept me turning the pages.

Steamy Scenes

This was by far the weakest bit. There was one, it wasn’t bad, but it was pretty forgettable.


All in, well worth the read. It gave me the happily-ever-after I demand, and it was sweet without sending me into sugar shock. I liked the characters, and it featured a white knight hero. All in, a good read.


Book Review: Queen of Swords

Book: Queen of Swords

Author: Katee Roberts

Recommendation: Worth a Read


Not sure I’m any more qualified than the next person to leave a review, but I’ll try to give it a shot with a book I recently finished.


All in, this sci-fi romance was a decent read.


The world-building is spectacular. Seriously, this is by far the best part of the book. The world, the religions, the people. The aliens are truly alien. For example, I love how you can tell one alien’s feelings from how his fur shifts. These are not humans with pointed ears.

The author uses a Tarot deck throughout, and she seems to have really studied up on it. I also love how the force acting through the cars is simply the Lady. You decide if she’s a goddess or Lady Luck.

Sanctify makes a fabulous villain, and the torture techniques they use to “purify” are truly gruesome. Seriously bad villain.


Hero and Heroine

The hero and heroine have chemistry. The steamy scenes aren’t memorable, but they’re pretty good.

He’s been through hell and back, though he’s still clearly your protective alpha male. I liked him much more than I thought I would.

The heroine is not a damsel in distress. She is strong, competent, and feisty. Hellcat is used to describe her. More than this, I like the fact she’s comfortable with her sexuality, knows what she wants, and takes it.



The plot intrigued me once we got over some plot holes large enough to drive car through trying to get the characters in a situation where they’re stuck together, but I was ready for the author to get on with it around the three-quarter mark. I felt like some of the middle was go-nowhere-filler as we ramped up for the climactic showdown between the hero and his half-brother.

The writing is a bit clumsy at points, particularly in the beginning as the author sets up the entire story line and gets the hero and heroine stuck being together. Sadly, this extends to the smack-upside-the-head way that the author introduces that the heroine is pregnant. Other parts, such as the heroine being able to hack a com terminal, should have been discussed before she actually hacks it.

This is all the more strange as other times the author makes a big deal out of things like sharp sticks being used in the heroine’s hair that never have any purpose.

I was disappointed with the end. I was expecting so much more. The big climactic ending. The heroine and hero standing up and defeating impossible odds together. While we got a happily-ever-after, I didn’t feel that fist pump moment when the hero and heroine win.

As a matter-of-fact, I was really disappointed with how easy the whole ending was and how little the heroine figured into it. I still don’t understand why the hero didn’t do what he did years ago and end the threat his brother posed back then.

The ending also left certain things unresolved. Either the author didn’t tie up loose ends, or she left them loose for the next book in the series. That seriously irritates me. Still, this is a romance, so the hero and heroine do get together.





Book Review: Crux

Title: Crux

Author: Moira Rogers



It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. Mostly because I haven’t been able to get all the way through any. I’ve been unbelievably picky and critical of late, and I fear that’s going to show through in this review. See, I can’t just turn my brain off and accept. I need things to make sense, to form a picture, and to follow some basic rules. Both of human nature and of fiction writing.

I will preface this by saying I’m not sure I’d have finished this book if not for my little one being sick and wanting me to snuggle with her. I needed something to do, so I read.

I’m not going to rate this as I’m still not sure how I feel about rating books, but I will give you my honest thoughts.



Southern Arcana is not my usual fare, but it was billed as romance novel with these elements, so I went for it. Interestingly enough, the paranormal aspects were mostly fine. I don’t mind werewolves, wizards, or shifters in my stories.  The author did seem to have a thorough understanding of this genre, and I could see her building a world with it.



The main back-drop of the story is New Orleans, but I’m not sure the author has ever been there. After living there myself for five years, I can tell you a northerner would not survive August in New Orleans wearing a sweatshirt. Most southerners couldn’t.

I also never felt like the author transported me back to the city. No mention of the oppressive heat, humidity or smell. Places like Café Du Monde and things like beignets were used to add flavor, but that’s about it. I get that not every writer can afford to visit, and it is the ideal setting for anything mystic. I know. I lived there.

There were the beginning overtures of politics in the supernatural society, and perhaps that will be fleshed out in later novels. It didn’t matter for this one, and I appreciate the author not spending a lot of time on it.



This was a mixed bag

There was a huge cast of characters. Not entirely sure why there were so many, but I’m assuming it’s a set-up for more books. Rather annoying, but okay. I get it.

The characters were all beautiful and sexy, standard fare for a romance novel.

Heroine – I liked the heroine. She was strong, but believable. Her fear, her disbelief. I got it. Only part that made me raise my brows was that she was in love with the hero in less than a week. In less than two days, actually.

Hero – He was pretty flat. Attractive, a bit of southern ladies’ man, a good cook, and a first rate wizard. Yup, that sums up his whole character.

Beyond this, things go downhill pretty fast. No one else really stands out, except for the “reformed” bad guy, Marcus, but his redemption was simply not believable.

Marcus  – He’s been raised by Big Bad Guy who’s a fanatic trying to save Marcus’s race of shifters. Marcus has believed in Big Bad’s cause his whole life. Calls Big Bad dad. Yet, a conversation or two with the heroine, not even all that deep or meaningful, and suddenly he’s ready to leave his father, abandon the cause he’s spent his whole life fighting for, and help her escape.

Um, no.

Not buying it for a minute. There was no soul-searching on Marcus’s part. No moment of truth. No pivotal event that inspired a change. Just a five minute conversation. This needed so much more. It’s not like Darth Vadar turned against the Emperor because Luke mentioned what a bad guy the Emperor is.



The plot was thin, and I felt the execution was lacking. Not quite Dues ex Machina, but pretty close. (Spoilers Ahead)

Act Three  – First Surprise – Nothing new should be introduced in Act Three, much less the end of Act Three. The author has established that not all supernatural phenomena are real (such as vampires not being real in this world). Suddenly, in Act Three, not only do we learn psychics are real, but we learn this as one is calling the hero to warn him about Big Bad.

Um, yeah.

To make this believable, the fact that there is a psychic and he’s real should’ve been introduced in Act One as part of the investigation the hero and his partner are working on before the heroine flies into their lives.

Act Three  – Second Surprise – Also, in Act Three, it’s revealed that the way the hero and heroine are going to defeat Big Bad is by merging their (souls?) and thus merging her shifting with his magic to make something as powerful as Big Bad.

Yeah, no.

Introducing this at the end is cheap. Also, not believable. Because, really, if you could combine a magic user and shapeshifter to create a being with off-the-charts power, people are going to be doing this left and right. It’s human nature.  It’s not like there was some epic quest to discover this information. Or they had to meet some unattainable criteria to do it. It was more of an “oh, by the way” moment standing in the kitchen. I wish I was kidding.

There is “risk” to them for doing the “merge”. Should something bad happen to either the mage or the shifter while they’re linked, bad things can happen to the other. Um, yeah, not nearly a big enough risk for magical types to not be doing this joining left and right.

Big Bad Lacks Consistency – For me, consistency is a must. Super powerful Big Bad can wipe the heroine’s personality and replace it with one that she goes along with him. So why didn’t he just do it? Why wait to wipe her after she’s made her hatred clear? Why didn’t he wipe her parents’ or Marcus’s parents’ personalities rather than kill them and exacerbate the issue of saving this race of shifters? Marcus and the heroine’s parents could’ve had more children that would become shifters had he let them live and simply made them docile. Doesn’t make sense, and this personality wipe was a key motive for her and Marcus.

Poor Character Motivation – I felt like character motivation was seriously lacking for the plethora of side characters. They need to be doing what they’re doing for their own ends not just because the plot requires it.

I mean, why would someone risk their life for a woman they’ve known a week? Or their twin sister’s life? Why, exactly, would the Werewolf Consortium care that some super powerful non-werewolf shifter killed a couple of people and is trying to kidnap a girl? I mean, if they really cared about those kinds of things, think of all the non-shifters they should be hunting down. They have no reason to join the fight, much less bring out their “big guns” which was required to take down Big Bad.

Hero and Heroine Feel Secondary – Yeah, they were the love interests. And at the very end they finally did things, but I prefer a story where the hero and heroine are doing more of the heavy lifting.  Helping figure stuff out. There was a whole cast doing most of the hard work and problem solving for them.

Ending Felt Taped On – After the heroine was captured (which I always dislike), I expected the story to come to a climactic ending. A big fight. Good guys win. Everyone goes home. Nope. They get her back, we have the Act Three surprises, and then there’s a much less climactic battle where the hero and heroine combine their powers and take out Big Bad. I almost felt like the author was stretching the ending for word count.


All in, it might have been a good read if I could’ve turned my brain off and just enjoyed. I couldn’t. One of my enduring problems. This is the first book of a series, but I won’t be buying the second. Your mileage may vary. Depends on what you’re looking for in a story.


Book Review: It Takes Two to Tangle


Title: It Takes Two to Tangle

Author: Theresa Romain



You know those hero qualities I told you about that I don’t like?  And what it takes to make me dislike the heroine? And when I mentioned that I actually like for there to be a plot?

This book manages to strike out on all three counts. I did give it two stars because at least the writing was decent, the meager plot didn’t fill me with rage, and I didn’t want the author to invent creative ways to kill the characters.



Let’s start with the hero. If ever there was a brooding character, this is the one. He buys an officer’s commission, his brother’s connections get him to the rank of captain. He ends up coming home physically and mentally broken after the war. And all he wants is the most beautiful, vivacious woman in the ton so he can resume his place. . . Um, yeah.

He comes out of it, sort of, by the end. I should’ve listened to the reviewers who warned me about the hero.

The heroine wasn’t much better. The heroine is prone to making bad decisions. She made lots of poor choices in her youth, and she doesn’t seem to have learned from them as she blatantly states in the book that she’s willing do it all over again for the hero “for love”. I have a hard time feeling much for her. She could’ve been Cyrano D’Bergerac. But wasn’t. Not even close.



The plot is slim at best. The hero wants the most desirable lady in the ton, who happens to have the heroine as a companion. Through some mistaken assumptions, that could’ve been resolved with a 30 second conversation, we have the plot of the story. It’s a sit-com plot thrown into novel length.

I suppose there’s something of a character arc for the hero as he feels less entitled at the end than he did at the beginning, and he’s accepting his change in circumstances. Not enough to make me like him, and I never came close to liking the heroine.