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Uncaged Review – The Separation by Stormy Corrin Russell with Excerpt!

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To read an interview with Stormy, please see the January issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.

A January Top Read.

The Separation
Stormy Corrin Russell
Young Adult/Dystopian

In a world where men and women live on separate sides of a massive wall, seventeen-year-old misfit Eroyn Fairchild has always been too busy with her broken family to wonder why they live the way they do.

When a man from the other side breaks through, Ero holds him hostage, hoping for a ransom large enough to pay for her Elder Grace’s treatment. Things get more complicated as the man is followed by two others who make Ero question everything she’s ever known about her life.

As Ero searches for the truth, the lines between right and wrong blur, leaving her to choose between saving her city and saving herself.

Excerpt

One of the things I love about Grace is that she is the heaviest sleeper I know. So heavy, in fact, she doesn’t hear me dragging a thrashing body through the front door at two in the morning. For the first time in my life, I consider it lucky that we live on the outskirts of the north side. If we didn’t, I would never have been able to get it this far without attracting attention. A loud, confused sound starts to come from the net, so I kick it firmly.
“Shut up,” I hiss, looking around nervously. I’m not worried about Grace rousing, but I don’t want the neighbors waking up and noticing my noisy cargo. I kick twice more, as hard as I can. Silence, finally. With a sigh, I wipe my arm across my forehead, getting rid of the sweat beading there. I sink down on the couch, staring at the large lump inside the net on my living room floor unblinkingly. Little red flowers are blooming all over the heavy white plastic, and they grow quickly. It’s blood, I realize with a sick feeling. It’s seeping through from the inside and leaking onto the clean white carpet of our house. It can’t be real. It just can’t be.
I see Almond cut across the room and sniff at the lump with caution. With one movement, I scoop him up and press him to my chest in horror. For the first time, I realize the danger of what I’ve just done. I’ve invited a monster into my house.
I’ve made a horrible, horrible mistake.
It takes Luna ten minutes to get here five minutes faster than usual but it feels like hours. She lets herself in the back door quietly, but I rush into the kitchen to meet her.
“Where’s Grace?” she asks with urgency, dropping her medical bag on the kitchen table.
“What? No, I … this isn’t about Grace,” I stutter. I open my mouth once, then again, but it’s no use. Nothing is coming out, so I turn on my heel and tiptoe into the living room. Luna wordlessly follows, eyeing the netted form. I kneel next to it, holding my breath. With shaking hands, I slide the knife into the plastic and pull it upwards slowly. I know what it’s going to reveal when I pull the plastic away, but it still makes my breath leave my lungs in an audible whoosh. I can’t seem to inhale again once it’s gone. I hear Luna do the same next to me.
“Is it a…?” She leaves her sentence unfinished, and I nod. The small slit I cut in the plastic shows a thick arm under a rolled-up shirt, far too thin for our recently nasty winter. At the very end of the slit, I glimpse a swollen throat and a jaw covered in a dark shadow of hair. A chill runs down my spine and my stomach turns.
“Is he alive?” Luna asks, her voice small.
“I … I think so.” I stare at the floor guiltily. “I kicked him pretty hard to shut him up.” She scoots closer and with trembling fingers folds back the plastic to see his side, where most of the blood is coming from.
“Cut the rest of it off him,” she tells me quietly. I stare at her in shock.
“But, he––” She cuts me off with a look.
“He isn’t dead yet, but he will be if I don’t stop the blood loss.”
I swallow hard, and comply.

Uncaged Review: After a Gender War, this dystopian world has the women living apart in their own separate quadrant, known as Genesis. They are taught that they won the war, and the men are gene mutations and live outside the walls. In this world, Elders choose Youth to be their caretakers, and when the Elder finally passes on, the Youth that has been taking care of them, inherits what is left for them from their Elder. This gives them a small nest egg so they can eventually hire on their own Youth, and the cycle begins all over again. This story starts out with Eroyn, who is a Youth for Grace, a woman that remembers what it was like before the wars, but is in the late stages of dementia.

This is a very original story, and it had me hooked. Eroyn discovers she has a brother, whom she never knew, and that the women have been taught lies for decades. Her best friend Luna and her begin to unravel the truth, after Ero’s brother, best friend and another man are caught by them and begin to explain what really happened. You don’t really know how the war began, or the main nuances as to why the world is like it is, but some of the truth begins to unravel in this installment.

I’m not going to give away more, but this is not a book that really hooked me from the go, it crept up on me slowly, and by the time I was to the middle, I was completely invested. The writing is terrific, with nice world building and character development. The idea that emotion and love breaks through the decades of suppression, is uplifting. Even though the book ends on a mild cliffhanger, it ends where it probably should end for this one, and I’ll look forward to the next one.
Reviewed by Cyrene

5 Stars

 

Uncaged Review – A Woman So Bold by L.S. Young

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A Woman So Bold
L.S. Young
Historical Romance

Twenty-year-old Landra Andrews is as brazen and unique as her first name. Although educated and well-connected, she is trapped by a dark secret from her past. She fears the rest of her life will be decidedly prosaic, until a dashing young man inherits a neighboring farm and sweeps her off her feet.

William Cavendish is a second son from an old Southern family. A gentleman in conduct and an artist at heart, he has sown his wild oats in the years he spent abroad and is ready to settle down. He is taken with well-spoken, headstrong Landra from their first meeting, and his heart for her only grows.

William seems to be everything Landra has dreamed of but never dared to believe she could have—handsome, kind, and well-bred—but when they are wed, she soon finds herself in all-too-familiar surroundings, toiling once more against land that won’t yield. Her restless spirit and iron will rebel against her discontent, and when a lover from her youth returns, she finds herself torn between two very different men. Will the mistakes of her past destroy her hope for the future?

Uncaged Review: For a debut novel, this author has a lot of potential. She hit a lot of good marks with this book and brought out a realistic time era of a rural Florida in the 1890’s. Struggling farmers who can see harsh winters if the growing season doesn’t yield, or a storm that can destroy a whole years slight incomes, this novel does not set the stage for a higher society, but for the poorer farms on the outskirts.

This story revolves around Landra and her family, and plenty of scandal. When her mother died at a young age, and her drunken father remarrying a waif of a woman, it’s up to Landra and her younger sister Lily to keep the house, the gardens and help to farm the land, getting by on hand-me-downs and rags all of their lives. Landra has no prospects for marriage of her own, having a child out of wedlock and hiding the secret, passing it off as Landra’s stepmother’s child. Until William Cavendish moves in to an old run-down farm neighboring their own. Hardworking and honest, Landra is drawn to him.

I enjoyed the story and there is plenty of scandal in this small rural area, and enough in this book to keep the interest. I didn’t feel like I was reading a debut book at all, the writing and editing is polished, and it flows nicely. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Magic Hunter by C.N. Crawford

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A January Top Read

Magic Hunter
C.N. Crawford
Urban Fantasy/Paranormal

Rosalind lives for the hunt. Now she might die for it.

Rosalind’s mission is simple: hunt demons and mages. As a member of the Brotherhood, she’s dedicated to protecting the world from dark magic. Someone’s got to stop the supernatural bloodlust—even if it means getting up close and personal with vamps.

Everything’s going to plan until she meets Caine, a powerful dark mage. He’s scary as hell and just as sexy. Worse, he’s brought her a warning: rumors are spreading that Rosalind is a mage, too.

Now, the Hunters have chosen their next target—and it’s her.

To save her own life, Rosalind must form an uneasy alliance with Caine, traveling with him to the vampire world.

But what if the rumors about her are true? If she can’t figure out who to trust, and fast, she’ll be exiled to the realm of the very monsters she once hunted.

Uncaged Review: This is a first book in a trilogy from this writing duo, and it’s a great start. You even love and hate the secondary characters, as the authors intended. Plenty of action, plenty of witty banter and a good storyline makes this one a page turner.

Rosalind is a Hunter for the Brotherhood, a secret society that hunts demons and mages to help keep humans safe from the evil in the world. But things aren’t always what they seem, and when she meets the gorgeous and deadly Mage, Caine – her world will be turned upside down, and things she believed were true will be flipped in all different ways.

Never a dull moment, the characters are well developed, and the intrigue will keep you on your toes. The action is not glossed over, and it’s well written. Looking forward to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene

5 Stars

Uncaged Reviews – The Supernatural Underground Series, Books 1 & 2 by Romarin Demetri

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Romarin Demetri is a Featured Author in the January 2017 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews. To read an interview with her, and to read an excerpt from The Frost Bloom Gardens (Book 2), then please see the issue!

A Mirror Among Shattered Glass
Romarin Demetri
Paranormal

Unable to contain the deadly nature of her family secret and powers, nineteen year old Romarin Demetri hails from California, USA to unearth her heritage as a descendant of serial-killer Countess Bathory, the woman that lent Dracula his legend, and cursed Romarin with an appetite for blood.

Unenthusiastic about relocating to her birth city of London, a charming paranormal investigator with claim to the throne could change her mind, as he leads her to the only living and distant relative she has: A raven-haired recluse named Talia, who has taken refuge in an old castle in the heart of the city, and doesn’t seem to have a heart of her own.

After a rough introduction to the lethal, inappropriate, and enchantingly sarcastic people Romarin calls her housemates, perhaps the other misfits will be her first true friends; however, as much as these people are like her, they still have hidden vendettas, a taste for revenge, and will struggle between what is just and what will settle their psychological upheaval. There is only one way for Romarin to become part of the Supernatural London Underground: Can she be the one who challenges them to put down their ghosts and demons and make their world together?

Uncaged Review:  Being the first book in a new series, the author gives a nice introduction and development to her cast of characters, getting deep enough that you get a good feel for them. The story is character driven for this first book, and the relationships that are developed with these misfits of Talia’s home, a castle with a dark history.

Romarin (yes, our main character is named after our author’s pen name) is different. But she doesn’t know why she’s like she is. When you first start this book, Romarin is in a very bad place, she needs to have blood to survive, but she’s been literally starving herself. And she’s wasting away. Sent by her parents to a charm school in England, she barely has the strength to leave the hotel she’s staying at. When she manages to get moving to get to her school, a man’s body falls to the pavement right in front of her and the hotel, a jumper suicide.

Next thing Romarin knows, is she’s in an asylum, as she was caught licking up the blood from the pavement. When she drinks fresh blood, she takes on the memories of the one who died, to the point she doesn’t know her own memories from the one she drinks from and it takes time for her body to rid itself of those memories. She receives a visitor in Talia who offers her a safe haven, and manages to break out with the help of another patient and finds her way to Talia’s castle. Here is where the story really begins to take shape. Talia’s home is a safe harbor for supernaturals, and she meets the others that live here. A strong bond grows between them all, and she learns about herself, and the others.

This story is told in two writing styles, when we are reading about Romarin, it’s in the first person, and when it goes off into the other characters, it’s written in the third person. But it’s easy to get used to, and it works for this book. Most of the time, when you read a book fully in first person, you don’t get any extra information except what the main character sees, in this way of flipping, you get a bit more information that’s happening beyond the main character – one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of first person narratives. 

I really haven’t gotten a handle on where this story is going, or what the main story arc will be for the series, and what Romarin and the others roles will be yet. But it’s fresh and original and well written. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars


The Frost Bloom Garden
Romarin Demetri
Paranormal

As if the Supernatural London Underground couldn’t open up any further, Romarin is immersed in different cultures, struggles, and factions– including the revelation of her first dangerous foe–that make the hidden world what it is: treacherous. As a detective in pursuit of a Jack The Ripper type killer, Romarin’s sole purpose is to destroy evidence of their secret world, reminding her of how blurred all of their roles are, and that the price for that could very well be one’s life. With rumors of a safe haven, an island where people like her can go to be free and understood, perhaps she won’t need the cure she vehemently seeks. A cure for a broken heart however, that’s another story. And then a cure for a burning heart? That’s just impossible.

Uncaged Review:  The second book in this series is a lot more action packed than the first one. This one also has three different arcs to it, and it keeps a nice pace. One of the main reasons for Talia’s company is to keep the supernatural community quiet and to find any more labs that may be experimenting on more supernaturals like they did her. Romarin gets her first job, and it’s to stop a supernatural serial killer to keep their secrets. And you won’t guess the outcome right away, and it keeps the pace well. Second story arc is Audin gets kidnapped, and the gang will stop at nothing to find him. And the third arc, is the crew going back to the fae realm, to try and stop a Changeling war by warning the royal family, Audin’s parents. But what they didn’t know, is that their lives will be in danger, and there are more secrets to the royal palace than meets the eye.

There is a lot going on with this book, more so than the first one and the gang is closer than ever. The witty banter between the characters is better than ever and the suspense and intrigue is ramped up considerably. I would definitely not recommend this as a standalone, I would definitely recommend reading the first book in the series before jumping into this one, or you will lose a lot of the impact of this book. This book ties up its own storyline and sets up nicely for book three. Reviewed by Cyrene

5 Stars

Uncaged Review – Graveyard Rose by Ginny Clyde

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Graveyard Rose
Ginny Clyde
Gothic Romance/Paranormal

In a world where vampires, werewolves and other strains of such demonic creatures run at large, Lenara Gerrickson is a young Guardian appointed among the ranks of men, to protect human lives. Under the burden of a broken heart, she risks her life for her sister and struggles to maintain her position as the lone female Guardian; to uphold the honour and grandeur of her noble House. The company of Guardians rides forth to face the threat of a new breed of werewolves wreaking carnage throughout a rural village. Though her male cohorts are confident of victory, Lenara’s intuition warns of unforeseen horrors.
Is there any hope for her to find love in this dark and desolate world, or will she perish in the line of duty? Here begins the incredible tale of a lost maiden, and of a mysterious, gentle man who calls himself a beast…

Uncaged Review: Lenara Gerrickson is a young guardian, the first woman guardian, appointed to protect the lives of humans from werewolves and vampires. The story is about Lenara trying to find a cure for her sick sister, while trying to protect the humans also from coming to harm.

I thought this storyline was quite interesting and being a fan of werewolves, it was fun to learn where the first werewolf in history came from. The relationship between Lenara and her family was quite touching. I’m looking forward to reading book two in this series. Ginny Clyde set up the characters quite well in this book.
Reviewed by Jennifer

3 Stars

Uncaged Review – Realm of the Dragon by CiCi Cordelia with Excerpt!

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To read my interview with CiCi Cordelia (the pen name of writing team Cheryl Yeko and Char Chaffin), please see the January issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.

One of January’s Top Reads.

Realm of the Dragon
CiCi Cordelia
Fantasy Romance

An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.
For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

For sheltered Lily Kiers, it’s all too real. Her escape from danger, straight into the arms of her destiny.
Thrust into a realm made of fantasy and unbridled passion, Lily faces violent resentment and jealousy from extremely powerful enemies. Amidst fierce creatures whose very existence defy all common sense, Lily pieces together a past she could never have imagined.

Claimed by Kord, Prince of Battle Draconian, their love will not be denied, even as malevolent forces plot to rip them apart

Excerpt

Dragon.

Her mouth gaped.

She lay within the curved tail of a living, breathing dragon.

I’m hallucinating. How can this be? The moment she’d stumbled across that tree, her world had turned upside-down and inside-out. Maybe I hit my head.

She blinked slowly, trying to clear the fog obscuring her memories, and muttered under her breath, “This has got to be a dream.”
The dragon pinned her with a glittering stare. Then freaked her out even more when it spoke in a low, gravelly rumble. “This is no dream, little one.”

Fresh screams poured from her throat as panic sliced through her. Lily attempted to scramble away. Where she thought she was going, she didn’t know or care, as long as she escaped. The dragon’s tail tightened around her body, effectively imprisoning her. Shivering violently, she stared up at him through her tangled hair.

Trapped.

Like an animal. Or a predator’s evening meal.

About to die. Again.

The dragon’s face loomed closer, the tip of a slender, red-tinged forked tongue protruded from between wicked fangs, and it actually tilted its head, as if curious.

If she were not so completely, absolutely terrified beyond her own sanity, she might have reached out and touched the scales covering its face. They were savagely beautiful.

The creature blinked, heavy lids flickering, and she stared into its slitted golden eyes.
“I won’t hurt you.” The dragon’s powerful voice held a soothing quality. Then it ruined the moment by leaning down to sniff her. “Mmm. You smell like apples and honey.” To her amazement, that long, forked tongue re-emerged and flicked gently along her neck. Its texture felt incongruously like velvet.

Lily managed to bite back a hysterical shriek even as her lower lip trembled. She clamped it between her teeth to steady it, before venturing, “A-Are you going to eat me?”

Every muscle and bone in her body hurt. Her world had upended itself. Beyond exhausted, she longed for this nightmare to end.

If a dragon could frown, then this dragon was definitely frowning. Its fierce expression sent additional shudders through her, and she fully expected those massive jaws to come for her at any moment.

As hard as she struggled for calm, tears leaked from her eyes when he raised long, sharp claws and reached for her. Too frightened to move, she turned her head away. The thrumming of her heart pounded through her entire body as she waited for the sharp talons to slash into her. Instead, the dragon carefully nudged her cheek until she was forced to raise her face and meet its magnetic stare.

“I said I wouldn’t hurt you.” Then slowly and gently the creature unfurled its tail, the very tip pressing against her lower back as if encouraging her to gain her feet, and held her steady until she was standing securely on the ground.

Before Lily had a chance to run, there was a bright flash of light, then a shimmering of brilliant colors. Her jaw slackened at the sight of a man standing before her.

An extremely handsome, naked man.

Uncaged Review:  First of all, I’d like to thank the authors for the ARC of this book. It’s always a treat when a reader gets to read a book before it’s released.

This has to be the most fun I’ve had with a dragon fantasy book in a very long time. I’ve read quite a few different dragon worlds that are so popular within the genre right now, but this one is definitely a stand out.

Our main character – Lily, is being stalked, and after leaving her shift at a coffee shop, the man stalking her, runs her off the road and she gets out of her car and runs into the woods. Falling down, she hears whispers in her mind, and the voice coming from a very old tree. She falls over a cliff and passes out before she hits the bottom, but she never hits the bottom, she lands on the back of a dragon. When she awakens, she believes she’s still sleeping in a nightmare, even when the beautiful dragon talks to her, and then shifts into a human form. And wow, what a human. Kord, the dragon and Prince, believes he sees the one he’s been dreaming of in Lily. But Lily can only remember her name and her home, and the rest is lost to her with blinding headaches when she tries to remember. Kord and his royal family, vow to protect her as she tries to regain her memories.

Finding out she’s been thrust in the Dragon Realm from Earth, the mystery of how and why will begin to unravel. There is suspense and danger for Lily in this world, with jealousy and greed. There is also some fun humor and banter between Kord and his brother Bakka, and a warm family relationship with his mother and father, the Queen and King. I laughed out loud at some of Bakka’s antics, and I was engaged throughout the story. Well written with an original storyline, developed characters and world, and some interesting new fantasy critters on the side. And who doesn’t love a dragon? Reviewed by Cyrene

5 Stars

Uncaged Review – The Volunteer by Sarah Northwood

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The Volunteer
Sarah Northwood
Psychological Thriller/Horror

CAN A YOUNG GIRL MAKE ENOUGH TO MONEY TO PAY OFF HER DEBTS?

Utterly alone in the world Sam is determined to make it on her own, she sees a chance to make some money and becomes a Volunteer for a clinical trial.

IMPRISONED AGAINST HER WILL

Imprisoned in hospital with no memory of what has happened to her in the last three weeks she is no longer the girl she was, something has changed. Beyond help and beyond hope, she knows only that she must survive, she must escape.

A MONSTER IN A DOCTORS UNIFORM

When Mr Bennett comes for Sam, he intends to extract the information he needs. Harbouring a dark secret, what lengths will he go to, to achieve his goals?

SECRETS

When Sam discovers Denny and Ryan, her mission to escape becomes a quest for the truth – and a race for freedom. What terrifying secrets will she uncover along the way?

Uncaged Review: What a wild trip into the weird land of clinical trials on people. This is shorter story, a bit more of a novella length, and gives us Sam, a broke college student who lost her parents when she was only 15 yrs old, and during summer break, she signs up for a clinical trial that will pay her better than a job would for someone without much experience. She signs on the dotted line, and goes in for the first part of the test. Next thing that happens, is that it’s three weeks later, and she’s no longer in her home town. There is something very sinister going on, and she meets a couple other trial “volunteers” also, and she slowly puts the pieces together. Will she escape the madness?

I won’t go into any major detail, but the author does a nice job bringing in the back story to the few characters that are in play, even in this shorter form. There is a bit of a fantasy element that the author brings to the table with believability. The only thing that was distracting for me, and this is very minor, is the time jumping within the book. It provides a way to give us more back story on the characters, but it does tend to distract a bit from the main story. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars

Uncaged Review: R.I.L.Y. Forever by Norah Bennett

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One of January’s Top Reads

R.I.L.Y. Forever
Norah Bennett
Contemporary Romance

Remember I Love You Forever…

When Julia Walker unexpectedly runs into Dr. Ethan Sullivan, the man who stole her heart twenty-two years ago and whose heart she shredded in return, their reunion is emotional and explosive. While sparks fly and their passion reignites, the past rears its ugly head and the lovers soon discover that a foundation built on secrets and lies will always crumble. Can Ethan and Julia overcome their painful past and learn the lessons of honesty, trust, and forgiveness in time to save their love?

Uncaged Review: Julia found the love of her life in Ethan, when they were teens. But Julia walked away from it all, breaking Ethan’s heart…and her own. Fast forward 22 years. Julia is now a divorced single mother of a beautiful, but strong willed two year old daughter, and when she goes to a party at her friend’s house, guess who’s decided to move to her small town as a doctor in the hospital she works in? All the feelings that Julia’s always had for Ethan, along with the fear of letting him get too close, comes rushing at her. But this time, Ethan isn’t giving up so easily, and the walls Julia has built around her heart come crashing down. But will Ethan still love her when he finds out the truth of why she left? Will they still be able to build a future when the past is revealed?

This contemporary romance is a predictable story, but the way the author brings you to the conclusion is a heartwarming tale of forever love. Does that exist in this day and age? I don’t have the answer, but the book will give you hope that it does. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars

Uncaged Review – What’s a Soulmate? by Lindsey Ouimet with Excerpt!

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One of January’s Top Reads. To read an interview with Lindsey, please see Issue 6, January 2017 Uncaged Book Reviews. 

What’s a Soulmate?
Lindsey Ouimet
Young Adult/Fantasy

Libby Carmichael has just met her Soulmate. It’s just too bad he’s behind bars.

When you only see the world in black and white until you meet yours, it’s pretty easy to figure out when you’ve found your Soulmate. What Libby can’t figure out is why fate,destiny, or the powers that be have decided that Andrew McCormack is her one, true match. Libby is smart, organized, and always has a plan for what’s coming next. So when she sees Andrew for the first time and her world is instantly filled with color, she’s thrown for a loop.

Namely because he’s in a dingy grey jumpsuit.

And handcuffs.
And being booked into a juvenile detention facility.

Surely a boy who’s been convicted of a headline-making, violent crime isn’t who she’s meant to be with. There’s no way she belongs with someone like that…right?

Excerpt

Andrew looks surprised to see me. After the way things ended with our last visit, I’m not surprised, but staying away was never a viable option. I bite the inside of my lip and wait, deciding at the last minute to let him have the first words. He stares at me for almost a full minute before he opens his mouth.

“You’re back.”

Simple. Not quite what I expected, but at the same time, I’m not really surprised.

“It would appear so, yes.”

He doesn’t look upset, and it makes me wonder if he really wanted me to stay away at all. It’s hard to tell with him. Everything is hard to tell with him. Well, aside from how I’m sure he’ll react to my next question. Pretty sure I’ve prepared myself for that.

“So why is it I can’t find any information on what happened? On the incident or on the officer it happened to?”

His response is instant. Like a shutter goes down over his face and he’s suddenly a blank slate and impossible to read all over again. And my reaction to his is pretty sudden as well. I’m gritting my back teeth so hard I’m afraid my jaw will actually start to shake.

“You’ve been looking into me more?”

I fail to stop my eyes from rolling. It might be partially true, but give me a break.

“Not you. It.” I tilt my head to one side and could almost cry from the relief I feel when my neck pops. “And how else am I going to figure anything out? It’s not like you’re going to volunteer any of the information yourself.”

“Why should I?”

His voice is still calm. He hasn’t raised it once, but he doesn’t need to. He knows he has my full attention, and probably that he’s had it since the beginning. It unnerves me just enough to say exactly what I’m thinking.

“Because I deserve to know exactly what fate, or destiny, or whatever the hell it is that makes all of these important decisions for us was thinking. I deserve to know why the person who I’m apparently supposed to be with is behind bars.”
He leans back and crosses his free arm over his chest. I’m breathing heavily and would love to slap the smirk off his stupid face.

“You have an awfully high opinion of yourself, princess.”

“Is there a reason why I shouldn’t?”

I nearly spit the words back at him, and then we’re locked into some sort of staring match that quickly evolves into something very … different. Is it possible for my chest to still heave even as my breathing slows? Because it’s happening. And even though I feel flush, it’s not the prickling, uncomfortable sensation of embarrassment or discomfort. Well, maybe there’s a little discomfort. Especially as I go to wet my lips and see Andrew’s eyes follow along with the tip of my tongue. I thought that was something I only read about in romance novels? Isn’t it something that’s only in romance novels?

He looks away first, and the wave of relief that runs through me somehow feels tinged with something more. I’m going to adamantly deny it’s disappointment.

“Maybe if we even the playing field,” he mutters. Well, I say he mutters, but his voice is so deep it sounds more like a rumble than anything else.
I haven’t fully recovered or regained the ability to speak yet, so I make a face I hope asks for an explanation.

“Question for a question?” He shrugs and then lays a hand out flat in front of him. I study his long fingers, and the veins on the back of it, as I try to regain my composure. “You want to know more about what happened, and I barely know anything about you. I don’t even know your last na—”

“Carmichael,” I cut him off without thinking.
He stops and seems to mull it over in his head for a moment.

“Okay, Libby Carmichael, fake youth leader with blue eyes and red hair, and parents who love each other, but are not ‘true’ Soulmates,” he says, using his fingers to make quotation marks in the air. “Tell me about yourself.”

I don’t know how he does it. Maybe he’s always been good at avoiding the subject and throwing people off track, or maybe I’m currently under some sort of spell that allows him complete control over my disposition. No matter the case, I practically feel the tension drain from my body and have a sudden, strong urge to move past whatever the moment we just had was.
“What do you want to know?”
He looks at me for a second, and I can tell he didn’t think I was going to give in so easily.

“What?” I grin. “You don’t have a list already prepared?”

That smile. The one that makes something inside my chest ache? Yeah, he’s doing it again.

 

Uncaged Review:  A very interesting take on a soulmate. In this world, everyone sees in black and white, and shades of gray, until they meet their soulmate. Then the world is splashed into color – and our heroine is a 17 yr old girl, visiting her father who works at the juvenile center, and new arrivals are being booked in, and when Libby takes one look at Andrew, her world fills with color and knocks her for a loop. Libby, a good girl who never causes trouble, is matched with bad-boy Andrew – who’s committed a very serious crime? Doesn’t seem like the destiny thing got it right.

Intent on finding out all about Andrew, she starts visiting him on visitation days. They get fifteen minutes at a time, and the mystery of why and how Andrew came to be where he is, begins to unravel.

The cast of characters is fun, Libby’s best friend, Beth and even Libby’s parents. This is more a character and dialog driven story, but the world and character building works well and I found myself reading this one straight through. Some of it is a bit predictable, and someone needs to shake Libby out of her overly teenage moments at times– but it’s a good read, and recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars

Uncaged Review – Mistakes of My Past by Emily James

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One of January’s Top Reads.

Mistakes of My Past
Emily James
Romantic Suspense

What do you do when your relationship destroys everything good in your life?
It’s simple, right? You escape – by any means necessary.
Amber knew that leaving Tommy was going to be hard and quite possibly deadly. After all, she has things that he will stop at nothing to get.
When Amber flees England to start fresh with her estranged father in Ohio she starts the process of rebuilding her life.
Will is recovering from his own disastrous relationship, which has left him mistrusting of high maintenance women. And when he meets Amber, she seems just that.
Getting off to a rocky start, Amber and Will soon realise they have more in common than they thought.
Can Amber ever really free herself from the mistakes of her past?
Or are they only ever one short step behind her?

Uncaged Review: Amber, who recently lost her mother is so overcome with the pain and loss of this and due to some problems with her boyfriend, Tommy, and at the time Amber tries to take her own life. Her dad visits her in the hospital and offers Amber a deal. If Amber wants to return to America with him she must undergo treatment first at a mental health facility. While Amber is undergoing treatment she meets a fellow inmate Roxy who turns out to be a friend and may even help Amber, with a big problem -Tommy her evil boyfriend.

Mistakes of My Past is Emily James debut novel. I really felt connected to Amber as I was reading this novel and felt like Amber was sitting next to me telling me her story. I can only express high regards for writer Emily James if this book is anything to go by. Reviewed by Jennifer

5 Stars