Hold by Claire Kent

Hold Claire KentWhy I read it:  I bought it after positive reviews from trusted bloggers. 

Note: This book was previously published by Ellora’s Cave under the same title with the author’s pen name being Zannie Adams. This is the self-published version which has been “substantially revised and re-edited”.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Find the strongest man there. Give yourself to him in return for protection. It’s the only way you’ll ever survive.

Convicted of a minor crime, Riana is sentenced to a prison planet—a dark primitive hold filled with convicts vying for power. Her only chance of survival is with Cain, a mysterious loner who has won his territory in the prison through intelligence and brute strength. Sex is all she has to offer, so she uses it. She’s under no delusions here. No one is ever released, and no one ever escapes. Survival is all she can hope for—until Cain.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Set in a future dystopian world where the galaxy is ruled by a corrupt and somewhat amorphous “Coalition”, this novella certainly packs a punch.  Thrust into a prison where there are no rules and it’s very much survival of the fittest, Riana gets a piece of advice by a sorta-friendly guard:  “Find the strongest man there. Give yourself to him in return for protection.”  The guards don’t really guard.  They don’t spend time in the hold really.  There is no patrol to keep order. They drop the prisoners in and that’s about it.  Every day food gets dropped down a kind of chute and there is a fight to see who gets to eat and how much.  Even though Riana is no pushover, she is no match for tens of males who forgot the rules ages ago. She might have been able to hold her own against one, maybe two, but not against all of them and not for long.

Radiance by Grace Draven

RadianceWhy I read it:  This was recommended by many Twitter friends so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.


Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  My Twitter friends were right.  I liked Radiance very much.  The conflict is mostly external and the romance is really quite delightful.

Ildiko and Brishen both knew they would be expected to marry for political alliance rather than affection and both are resigned to their fate.  Nevertheless, each has some misgivings about marrying someone from another species.  This is the first inter-species romance I have read and I appreciated that the first look at “other” was from Brishen’s point of view.  It was the humans I was seeing as different and the descriptions were apt and amusing but they also served to relax me into the “other” of the Kai (the species to which Brishen belongs).

Peanut Goes to School by Thea Harrison

Peanut goes to schoolWhy I read it:  I received a copy from the author via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Dragos Cuelebre is no longer the only dragon.

Dragos’s son Liam Cuelebre (a.k.a. Peanut) is springing into existence, reminiscent of the first of the Elder Races who were born at the beginning of the world. At just six months of age, he has already grown to the size of a large five-year-old boy. He can read, write in complete sentences, and his math skills are off the chart.

A white dragon in his Wyr form, Liam also holds more Power than almost anyone else. In an effort to give him a taste of normality, no matter how fleeting, his parents Pia and Dragos enroll him in first grade.

They hope school will help teach Liam how to relate to others, a vital skill that will help him control his growing Power. But school has a surprising number of pitfalls, and relating to others can be a tricky business.

When a classmate is threatened, Liam must quickly learn self-control, how to rein in his instincts, and govern his temper, because there’s no doubt about it—he is fast becoming one of the most dangerous creatures in all of the Elder Races.

Warning: Series spoilers follow

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Peanut Goes to School follows on about a month after the events in Pia Saves the Day.  Pia asked Liam to be a “big soldier” so he “pushed” and grew bigger overnight – he’s only six months old chronologically but he looks like he’s about five or six.  Because Liam is surrounded by adults, Pia and Dragos decide it is important to send him to school so he can socialise with other children.  He needs to learn how to interact with people and to control himself (there was an incident with some cows). His parents realise they have little time before he’s apparently an adult and once he’s bigger he will be that much more powerful.  He doesn’t need the curriculum for education purposes.  Liam is wicked smart.  But he needs to play and interact with other kids.

Much of the story is told from Liam’s POV and he remains charming and cute.  He does have to learn to control his temper because he is very strong and very powerful but the good news is that the control he has to learn is in the role of protector not villain.

Pia Saves the Day by Thea Harrison

Pia Saves The DayWhy I read it:  I was provided with a review copy by the author via NetGalley

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Pia and Dragos’s magical young son Liam (the Peanut), is growing at an unprecedented rate, and if that isn’t enough, he is also exhibiting new, and unpredictable, magical gifts. To protect him, the concerned parents decide to move to upstate New York.

Both Dragos and Pia relish the idea of leaving behind the city. They finally have the space to indulge their Wyr side, and Liam can grow in safety. It’s a breath of fresh air—literally—but their idyllic situation is shattered when Dragos is injured in a freak accident.

Stripped of his memory and bereft of Pia’s taming influence, there’s nothing holding back Dragos’s darkest side. And in order to restore her family and save her mate, Pia must confront the most powerful menace in Elder Races history.

It’s going to take more than a penny to fix this…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I like revisiting favourite heroes and heroines and seeing how their happy ever after is progressing but what is even more special is when we get to see them fall in love all over again.  I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say that’s what happens after Dragos loses his memory in an accident.  Pia has to fight for him first though – he is hurt and confused and he doesn’t remember anything about their life together and who they are to each other (and it is a joy to see the heroine doing the rescuing too I must say).

The Secret Casebook(s) of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles (includes Remnant with Jordan L. Hawk*)


Why I read them:  There are three short stories in this series (so far).  The first I bought for $1.99 from Torquere Press. It’s too expensive because it’s less than 15 pages. But the good news is that the other two self-published shorts are free from Smashwords in all the formats.  Taken together, $1.99 is well worth it.  And I think The Caldwell Ghost has possibly my favourite opening paragraph ever.

The Caldwell Ghost

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  When Robert Caldwell inherits a haunted house, he calls on ghost-hunter Simon Feximal to rid him of the supernatural menace. But the ghost is stronger than either man realizes — strong, angry, and desperate for release. Trapped in a haunted house with a dangerously attractive ghost-hunter and a sexually frustrated spirit, can Robert survive the night intact…and will he want to?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  This clever little short has an absolute cracker of an opening paragraph.  We are plunged into the action immediately.  It’s only about 13 pages but in that time, the setting – both the time period and the creepiness and the characters are drawn with a deft hand. It’s not a romance, but rather the pair meet and, while fixing Robert Caldwell’s ghost problem, have a sexy interlude which promises to be more.  We know in fact that they go on to have a very HEA because of the letter to the editor at the beginning.  It’s all very cleverly done.


Verified by MonsterInsights