Author: Joan Johnston
Series: Bitter Creek King’s Brats Series #3
Pub Date: February 27, 2018
Genre: Western Romance
In New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston’s scorching contemporary romance, a second chance at love may be the last.
When a sudden tornado of flame from a raging forest fire snuffs out both engines of the Twin Otter being piloted by Taylor Grayhawk, she locks eyes with the last man on the plane: her longtime enemy and one-time lover, smoke jumper Brian Flynn. Grayhawk and Flynn can’t agree on anything—not even how to escape their desperate situation. Once they’re on the ground, the only shelter they can find leaves the adversaries trapped together—with no way out.
Injured and starving, Taylor and Brian struggle to survive, yet somehow the threat of imminent death reignites something deep and powerful between them. Feelings they thought long dead rise from the ashes, suddenly making them more than just allies in a life-or-death struggle against nature’s fury. A still greater challenge awaits when fate delivers them from harm and puts their rekindled love to its ultimate test: Surrender to each other, or part forever.
In Joan Johnston latest title in book #11 of her Bitter Creek series, but #3 of King’s Brat we find ourselves fighting a w whirlwind fire in “Surrender” sold by Random House and branded under Dell (February 27, 2018). It has been a while since I visited Grawhawks and the Flynn. That it was a pleasure when I got the opportunity from Random House and Netgalley to get the ARC for this title.
This novel like Joan Johnston other titles in the duel series started off with a bang and maintained that tone throughout the telling of this story.
The tale begins, with Taylor Grayhawk making a daring attempt at landing a plan when both engines were snuffed out by a tornado of flames. Fortunately for Taylor, Brian Flynn a smoke jumper was still on board. With the assistance of Brian’s parachute, they both escaped the crash.
Now stranded in the middle of the raging flames, they will have to put their personal difference asides to escape the flames that are looking for its first victims.
Surrender was fast-paced and loved pulling at the heartstrings. With enjoyable characters and a solid plot, old readers and new readers to this series will find it hard to put this one down.
Joan Johnston, the top ten New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the Bitter Creek (THE COWBOY, THE TEXAN and THE LONER plus 18 more including the Mail-Order Bride, Captive Hearts and Sisters of the Lone Star series) and Hawk’s Way (nine in all) novels, has written more than fifty-five award-winning historical and contemporary romance novels, thirty-eight of which are connected. She received an M.A. in theater from the University of Illinois and graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin. Joan Johnston lives in Colorado and South Florida.
(Shifters of Bear’s Den, #2)
Publication date: January 10th 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
A Bear spoiling for a brawl.
Cole Strathorn fights fires. That’s all he’s ever wanted to do. He thrives on danger and protecting his clan. No one would mistake the six-foot-four, gruff bear shifter for a freaking baby sitter. But that’s exactly what he’s become thanks to an assignment from the town’s mayor. Cole’s new job requires him to keep an eye on the government scientist who has arrived in Bearden to study the shifters.
Cole expects a clichéd nerd with horn-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector, but he’s pleasantly surprised to find his charge is a lovely, curvy and very appealing woman. A woman who smells like she might be more than an assignment. The shy but brilliant scientist might even be his mate. Her addicting scent certainly arouses his bear.
A head for science, but a body for research.
Rylee Garland has come to Bearden to work. She doesn’t have time for distractions or bossy bodyguards, even if they’re tall, dark and gorgeous. She’s determined to ignore the tension sizzling between her and Cole. Her reputation hangs in the balance. If she doesn’t solve the mysteries swirling around the small town, she can forget about keeping her job.
But it grows harder to resist Cole’s charm. One wicked-hot kiss leads to another. Is Cole for real? Or is he just using his seduction skills to get information? Rylee’s had enough heartache for one lifetime and the deeper she falls for Cole, the more she worries he might not be what he seems.
A war brews.
While Rylee and Cole fight their attraction, sinister forces gather in the town of Bearden. The government might want information about the shifters, but there are others that seek something darker: total shifter eradication. The threat lurks, and the menace is real. Rylee and Cole must set aside fear and desire and join forces if they hope to save the shifters of Bearden.
Step into the world of Shifting Destinies, where the men and women you meet might just be a little more than human. Their towns are protected by magic, and their hearts are open and ready for love. But watch your step – more than darkness lurks in the shadows.
The door banged open, and Rylee jumped. The test tubes she’d been pulling from a box rattled in her hands and nearly crashed to the floor.
She whirled at the disturbance and found a tall, dark-haired man shoving his way into the room set aside for her lab. His eyes found her and directed a ferocious scowl her way.
“You were supposed to wait for someone to get you,” the giant growled.
She took a step backward and tried to calm her pounding heart. Her hands went to her throat. She forced a breath out of her lungs, then sucked down her inhale. Waited a second. Then repeated the process all over again. But the breathing exercise did little to calm her.
God, he was huge. Bigger than Peter, bigger than Major Delano, bigger even than Chief Judah Hawkins. She was surprised he didn’t need to duck to enter the door. Tattoos covered his arms and added to the dangerous mystique of the stubble on his cheeks and his perfectly messy dark hair.
While she wanted to take her time studying the inked patterns on his forearms and his hands—his hands! those must have hurt!—it was his eyes that drew her in. They were storms of grey that hinted at a troubled soul, but there was kindness there, too. He could have given her a flat, steely look, but his eyes were soft.
Rylee could feel her cheeks reddening. Her panic was fading as much as it possibly could with a man of his size so close to her. And that ebb in emotion revealed something hidden under the depths: desire.
He was a rugged, handsome man. No. Hot as sin. And extremely, entirely off limits.
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Cecilia Lane grew up in a what most call paradise, but she insists is humid hell. She escaped the heat with weekly journeys to the library, where she learned the basics of slaying dragons, magical abilities, and grand adventures.
When it became apparent she wouldn’t be able to travel the high seas with princes or party with rock star vampires, Cecilia hunkered down to create her own worlds filled with sexy people in complicated situations. She now writes with the support of her own sexy man and many interruptions from her goofy dog.
For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.
If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.
But if she stays…
Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…
The Last Wolf (The Legend of All Wolves) written by Maria Vale and published under the Sourcebooks Casablanca brand (February 6, 2018), was written in a 1st person narrative and have you see what it is like not to be an Alpha or a Beta in a wolf pack. But what it is like to live the life as a shifter as the lowest member of a pack.
We see this world in the eyes of Silver, who struggles and survives with the assistance of a human shifter, who is not like her and her pack. They are at the mercy of the moon, whereas this stranger can take the form of the wolf at any time.
When I first started this, I had to put it down and didn’t make it past the first chapter. Then I started it again just recently. This time I began when I was well rested, and from the beginning. Even though it felt like I was reading a fantasy instead of a romance, it ended up being a pretty good story. The plot was well developed, the character at times confused me, one in particular…Tiberius. Who I can understand was a human, but he was a were-shifter too, who acted like he felt uncomfortable taking his alternate form.
Though it took me a while to complete this novel, being frustrated with the characters. Nevertheless, The Last Wolf turned out to be a somewhat fresh new look on were-shifters and the life in a wolf pack.
I will recommend this title to any paranormal romance fan, who doesn’t mind a new take on were-shifter and to followers of urban fantasy who want to take the walk on the wild side of paranormal romance but was afraid to try one.
In which Silver, in an act of mercy, kills her former shielder
The circle of wolves in the Clearing tightens around Ronan, and for the first time since my Dæling, I am deeply grateful that I am not Pack. I am just a guest and don’t have to be part of this.
But when I start to lope away, Ti doesn’t move. He doesn’t understand what is happening, so I nip at his pant leg. The Alphas of each echelon are taking up their positions at the front of the circle. Everyone wants this over with quickly.
Opening a passage for Charlie, John nudges Ronan’s father toward his son. In its mercy, Pack law allows First Blood to Ronan’s family, so that when the Pack eviscerates him, Ronan won’t feel anything. I plant my front paws and pull Ti harder, because I really don’t want to watch Charlie rip out his son’s throat.
Ti doesn’t move.
John nudges Charlie again, but Charlie just stares at Ronan, his head cocked, his mouth open. Then his eyes roll around the circle searching for help he won’t find, because to be on Pack land as an exile is bad enough, but the only response to an attack on a pup, is a Slitung, a flesh-tearing, and every wolf shows teeth. Charlie throws himself on the ground in front of John, his feet up in the air, his hips shimmying back and forth in a clownish show of submission.
John snaps at him.
Charlie follows our Alpha around, one ear up, the other down, his mouth open in a rabid leer, until with a quick look over his shoulder, John signals Tara to drag the broken wolf away from the Pack. Tara grabs his muzzle tight in her powerful jaws and drags him off mewling. I run beside him whimpering too, begging Charlie to come to his senses long enough to do this last kindness. He seems not to even see me, more interested in the furry thing following behind him. As soon as Tara lets him go, he starts to chase his tail, barking.
Tara turns her back on him with a growl and a dismissive kick of rain-sodden soil. She heads back to the Pack, which clears a path for her. As John’s Beta, Tara has a place of honor, but she also has a place of responsibility and is expected to be right up front for the Slitung. I stick to her slipstream and push through to the whimpering Ronan.
Rubbing my muzzle against his, I turn to John, my body down, my head between my paws. I’m not sure he will accept my claim to First Blood, but I have a better chance if I at least smell like the wolf who had been my schildere but who never wanted to be my mate.
Then John’s nose bumps against mine, telling me to get up. With a quick snap of his jaws, the Pack retreats, giving us room. John is a good wolf and a great Alpha and, if given a choice, will always choose mercy.
First Blood allows for one bite only, and if Ronan decides to fight me, I doubt I’ll be able to make the kill. But after everything that has happened, the once-upon-a-time Alpha of the 14th Echelon seems to understand that his luck is not going to change again.
He lies back with his chin stretched high, staring at the mountains and the pinpoints of stars and the real world, the world of men, that he so wanted to be a part of.
Opening my jaws wide, I gently take his throat between them. It’s what we do, and it means trust me. It means I see you at your most vulnerable.
I bite down fast and hard on the cartilage tube, giving it the same fatal break I would for a deer. Ronan struggles a little, and blood spurts into my mouth. I curl my tongue against the back of my throat, because I don’t want to swallow this blood. I don’t want to be nourished by this death.
The pulse of his blood slows, but I don’t lift my head until it stops.
Before I even stumble out of the way, the Pack surges forward, eager to be done with this particular bit of ritual butchery.
I race for Clear Pond, my paws sinking through the cold, thick mud and dying sedges until I am in deep. Pushing the air out of my lungs, I sink and stay down until my own throat is on the verge of collapse, and the blood that had already started to stiffen on my muzzle and chest and legs begins to melt away from my fur. Maybe there was so much that all of Clear Pond is tainted, but no matter how many gulps of water I take, my mouth still has the sharp, metallic tang of blood, and there’s something stuck in my teeth.
I start to change, and as soon as I’m finished, I pick at the thing with my fingers until it comes loose. I don’t look at it before throwing it into the weeds. I think the change was a mistake though, because in skin, I feel the intense cold of the schist on my naked body and the icy water running from my hair down my back and the taste of death in my mouth. I can’t stop shivering. I try to get wild again, but my muscles are spasming so hard that I can’t. I lurch up on all fours and then to my legs and stumble only a few steps before collapsing again, my head on my knees.
A warm coat that smells like angelica and green corn and the earth before a storm settles around my shoulders. “Put it on,” says that quiet voice, and Ti lifts me, guiding my arms into the sleeves, and then pulls me close to his even-warmer body. He says nothing, just holds me tight, letting me shiver against him.
“I killed him,” I finally stutter.
He lifts my sodden hair out from under the collar of the coat.
“Yes, you did. And if you hadn’t, he would have died in pain and the whole Pack would have had the burden of it. Now only you do.”
Ti doesn’t say that I wasn’t responsible or that I shouldn’t feel guilty, but rather that it’s a burden worth carrying and one that I’m strong enough to bear. His faith calms me in a way that no amount of coddling ever could.
It’s one of the things I love about him….
“I can’t get the taste of blood out of my mouth.”
He doesn’t respond. I guess he didn’t hear, or knowing him, he did hear, but doesn’t think there’s any point in responding. It doesn’t matter. I settle my head back on his chest and listen to his heartbeat.
Did I say love?
He frees one arm and lifts my chin. It’s dark for my poor human senses, but he’s not like me and the nearly full moon lights up the green glow of the lucidum in his eyes.
He hesitates, his lips hovering above mine, like a boy nervously contemplating his first kiss. But I know what he’s hiding, and I stretch up as high as I can and wrap my arm around his neck, feeling the shape of his skull under the roughness of his cropped hair. I feel his mouth against mine, firm and ripe and warm and still closed.
Nuzzling the seam of his mouth, I catch his lower lip gently between my fangs, pulling him closer. I know you, Tiberius. I know the wildness that you’ve always hidden there, but I am not human and I want the untamed, inhuman sharpness of your mouth.
I let go and lick my lip before gently circling his, my breath feathering his sensitive skin.
Finally, his lips open softly and I seal my mouth around his, because this is his first kiss and mine too, and I am his shielder in all things.
Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don’t really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet. Visit her at https://www.mariavale.com/