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Uncaged Review – Highland Yearning by Dawn Ireland

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Highland Yearning
Dawn Ireland
Highlander/Time Travel

Caden Mackay would never bed a Sutherland, let alone marry one. Bloody hell, what had possessed his twin brother to propose to one of the she-devils? And what is Caden to do with the Sutherland beauty who appears, as if by magic, in his library? The defiant intruder is the enemy, but she is unlike any woman Caden’s ever known, and her tantalizing curves and wide green eyes could tempt a monk. He must devise a way to stop the wedding. But can he stop the desire that makes him long to make Ariel Sutherland his own? Ariel’s life had never gone the way she’d hoped, but ending up in eighteenth century Scotland was a stretch, even for her. If not for her dog, Scruffy, she might have thought she’d walked into a romantic daydream. Especially since the object of her desire appears to be entirely too virile. But can she find her way back to her time, before her too-handsome Highlander makes her believe that love can conquer in any century?

Uncaged Review: When this book started out in a modern time period, I had to recheck that it was labeled as a historical. But it does have a twist. Ariel Sutherland’s job is working for an insurance company, finding lost family heirlooms. When a man comes to her door, and hands her a box, he tells her she is the rightful owner to what is inside. When she sits down at her table with her stray dog in her lap, she decides to open the small box. Inside is an old family ring, the exact ring she saw a man in a portrait wearing while visiting a castle in Scotland, her ancestor’s home. When she touches the ring, she and her dog are transported back in time and lands in the Mackay castle library, in the 18th century. When the man from the portrait, Caden Mackay finds her, and because she is a Sutherland, he distrusts and dislikes her on sight. Long has there been a distrust for the Sutherland’s because of their hand in his mother’s death. Believing she’s a spy for their rival clan, the Sutherland’s, he takes her on the journey to the Sutherland estate, but the more time he spends with her, the more he sees she is not like the rivals, the more he believes her crazy story of the future and he finds himself drawn to her more and more.
The book has an interesting storyline, and a good amount of suspense coming from more than one source. Will Ariel be able to stay in the 18th Century or will she be vanish at any time? Who’s trying to kill her and why? Will Caden’s brother enter into a loveless marriage? And just what happened to the ring? The romance here brews slowly, and it keeps the reader engaged. A nice twist on the Highlander genre.
Review by Cyrene

4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Collide by L.R. Johnson

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As seen in Issue 5 of Uncaged Book Reviews

Collide
L.R. Johnson
Young Adult/Paranormal

Since her father’s mysterious death, Lauren Cowley has been stuck in a pitiful rut until she begins having ominous encounters, haunting her every move. While attempting to break free from her wretched life she meets Donovan. He is tall, dark, good-looking, strangely familiar – and yet terrifying. His unexplained ability to stare deep into her soul with emotionless eyes frightens her, yet she has no desire to break free from the gravitating pull he has on her. He unlocks her passion…and suppressed memories forcing her to fight for everything she loves. Lauren now has to face the reality of demons and the tragic consequences they have had on her life. 

Uncaged Review: There are a couple ways authors handle descriptive paragraphs and chapters in books, some are just right and you can easily see the characters, feel the emotions and feel like you are standing next to the characters as you read the book. Some are not enough, and some are a bit overdone and slows the book down for the reader. This one will fit in the latter one. Throughout the book, there is so much over explaining, too many adjectives and adverbs – that it bogs the book down. It’s almost like the author didn’t want to use the same word twice. It’s a little hard to concentrate when there is a conversation going on between characters, but an additional two paragraphs of feelings or descriptions are placed in between the dialog. It happened more than once that I almost forgot the last dialog, and had to go back and look at it to remember what they were even talking about because of these unnecessary additions.
Now once you get past this part and/or get used to it, the writing and the storyline is actually pretty good, but hang in there while you slough through the first few chapters of some of the most depressing and emotional part of the book, and if you make it out without having to take Xanax, you’ll find the story does pick up interest and become what it is meant to be.
Donovan is an enslaved soul/demon that he willingly gave away his soul, so he was able to keep his physical body, and is still trying to hold onto whatever humanity is left inside him. Lauren, the heroine in this one, has such low self-esteem, acts very immature and overly emotional and needy most of the time. I did not connect with her, as much as I did Donovan.
I think this is a good start to a new series, but this one does end on a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that at the end. Some people will love the way it’s written and others may just get used to it, but it is an enjoyable read once you get into the book deeper. Reviewed by Cyrene

3 1/2 Stars

Uncaged Review – Erzabet Bishop – Taming the Beast & A Red Dress for Christmas

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As seen in Issue 5 of Uncaged Book Reviews. To read Uncaged’s interview with Erzabet, and to read an excerpt from Taming the Beast, please see the issue.

Both books are in the Top Reads for December.

Taming the Beast
Erzabet Bishop
Fantasy Romance

Only true beauty can tame the beast…

Allyse Montlake needs a job and quick. But what can a curvy girl with a penchant for plant magic do in the current job market? It’s just not the kind of thing that most people put on applications these days. To help her mother with medical expenses, she has to get something that pays more than her bookstore job—and quick. When she goes with her friend Cara to a job fair, she has no idea she’s just applied for a position on Extreme Bachelor in front of the camera and not behind the scenes as she intended. When she meets the man behind the mystique, can he love her for who she is and see the beauty behind the curves?

Soren Rochester is a werewolf and the owner of Barks, one of America’s most successful pet store chains. He also happens to be fighting a curse from one pissed off witch of an ex-girlfriend and he’s running short on time to find a mate or else. When his assistant suggests a reality television show he reluctantly agrees. Can this beast find true love amidst the glittering dresses of the contestants or will he find her only to lose her in a field of thorns?

Uncaged Review:  This is a short, quick and sexy read, and it takes a fun jab at TV reality shows like The Bachelor. In a short amount of page space, the author gives you some characters you instantly like, along with a couple furry 4 legged ones for fun.

Soren is a wolf shifter, and when he dumps a witch he was dating, she curses him and his staff to become dogs for the rest of their lives if he can’t find his true mate in a week’s time. So enter the reality TV show, and the bevvy of money hungry women wanting to marry him.

Allyse, is a small time witch that doesn’t have a lot of power, but her mother is sick and the medical bills are piling up. Getting a job on the show, would help out immensely, so she goes for it, knowing that she’s out of her league as she’s not the rail-thin petite lady that Soren is going to be attracted to. But for one week, to help her mother, she puts on her game face.

I won’t give away more, as it’s a short read, but it’s a lot of fun, and I actually would like to have seen this story as a full length novel with more interaction. But we are given quite a bit in the short amount of time. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars


A Red Dress for Christmas
Erzabet Bishop
Contemporary Erotic Short

Angel in a red dress…

Cecily’s husband Neil has kept her waiting one too many times. After another lonely night of movie watching, she decides to take her pleasure into her own hands. Neil comes home from work and catches her being a very naughty girl. Tangled up in tinsel and wearing a smoking hot red dress, surely her holiday wish will come true.

Uncaged Review: This is a very short erotic read, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do, to give a short, hot read for its reader. Cecily is home on Christmas Eve, waiting for her husband to come home from work for their evening together. But he’s been coming home late as of late, and she worries that he doesn’t desire her like he used to. A typical woman’s overthinking at work here? I’ll let you decide. This story even manages to pull in a scene from their past vacation in a short amount of time. A good short read for erotic lovers. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars

 

Uncaged Review – If I Wake by Nikki Moyes

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As seen in Issue 5 of Uncaged Book Reviews, a December Top Read.

If I Wake
Nikki Moyes
New Adult/Fantasy Romance

Will is sixteen year old Lucy’s best friend. Their lives intersect in dreams, where destiny pulls them together through different times in history. Even though their meetings are more real to Lucy than the present, Lucy is uncertain if Will exists outside her mind. Lucy’s mum thinks there is something wrong when Lucy sleeps for days at a time. She is so caught up with finding a cure she doesn’t see the real problem. Lucy is bullied at school and is thinking of ending her life.When the bullying goes too far and Lucy ends up in a coma, only Will can reach her. But how do you live when the only person who can save you doesn’t exist?

Uncaged Review: This book had me at the first page Lucy Philips is in a coma listening to her Mother. Telling her she has to wake up and open her eyes Lucy is unsure what to do. This is Lucy’s story.
Lucy is a girl who hides away like a little mouse trying to go unnoticed by the world and everyone in it. She has no friends and is constantly bullied fitting in nowhere apart from in her dreams. Every so often she is thrown into a strange new timeline in history. Where the only same occurrence is Will, a boy she is convinced she has to save. In fairness I think it’s Will that saves Lucy as he communicates through Lucy’s dream world only to Lucy it’s by real life. Lucy has given up on life or ever been loved or happy but just by Will showing Lucy simple kindness. Will teaches Lucy that life is worth living and things always get better. It just might not seem like it at the time.
This book had a beautiful message to the readers and was a pleasure to read. I myself have felt as Lucy before but realized that this does pass eventually. A story I’m sure everyone can relate to at some point in life.
Reviewed by Jennifer

5 Stars

Uncaged Review: Smashed, A Savvy Macavoy Story by Amy Shannon

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To read an interview with Amy Shannon, and an excerpt from Smashed, please see issue 5.

A December Top Read.

Smashed: A Savvy Macavoy Story
Amy Shannon
Crime/Suspense

Savvy Macavoy is not your typical private investigator. Her braids, jeans, and sandals always give off a unique impression on her clients. Savvy has lived an interesting life and with her best friend, Leonard at her side, loves living her life, her way. She isn’t ashamed of her childhood spent on the hippie commune, but has an estranged relationship with her six brothers.

Savvy is attracted to her whiskey but tries to maintain being professional when she’s working for clients. Savvy thought everything in her life was under her control, until she met Strick, a veteran forced into the homeless life on the streets. When he crosses her path, without thinking or forethought, something about Strick draws her into him, and she immediately helps him.

Savvy tries to focus on her case, enlisting Strick’s help, to search for the missing late husband of wealthy widow Angelica Margolis. Strick and Savvy try to solve the mystery of “The Missing Harold.”

Uncaged Review: Normally I’m not a contemporary mystery reader. But the author pulls you right in from the beginning and it was a smart, fun read. Savvy is a Private Investigator, that is smart, stubborn and even though she was even a cop at one time, she had a problem with authority, so she quit the force and went to work with her own PI business. The only other person working with her, is her gay best friend Leonard – practically a genius, but just wants to work with Savvy, even though the only thing missing from him being a lawyer, is taking his bar exams.

Savvy’s life has always been unconventional, from her two mothers, to her 6 gay brothers and father, ending up being the only straight one in the bunch. And even though she’s on the outs with her brothers and she drinks too much, she has a heart of gold. Seeing a homeless man scrounging for food in the dumpster behind her business, she takes him in, feeds him – and even gives him a job. Strick, is ex military, and down on his luck, but in Savvy he finds his purpose.

When a lady who needs Savvy to help her find her missing husband, the story and the mystery really get going. The characters are easy to like, the mystery itself is well thought out and original, and the pace of the book is just about right. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very entertaining and kept my attention the whole time. And now I really need a bagel. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars

Uncaged Review – Sevyn by Michele Wesley

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As seen in Issue 5 of Uncaged Book Reviews

Sevyn
Michele Wesley
Paranormal Suspense

Dana Diallo is the pampered princess of a wealthy diplomat by day, but she hunts monsters at night. After surviving a brutal home invasion that resulted in her mother’s death, Dana takes extreme measures to avenge her. Tracking the men responsible is hard work, but killing them seems impossible.

When Dana’s nightly activities leads to her being shot, her father, unaware of her secret life, hires her a bodyguard. Intrigued, Dana hardly notices the large scar on her mysteriously charming protector’s face. Her initial intent is to get rid of her new babysitter, but fighting her attraction to him becomes as difficult as hunting the monsters.

Neal Erickson thinks his new assignment guarding the diplomat’s daughter will be a walk in the park. Trained for combat, the last thing he wants is to babysit some spoiled, rich woman. One glance at Dana was all it took–to ignite Neal’s desires and shatter his discipline. When he stumbles upon Dana’s secret life of monsters and mayhem, he finds he may be the one that needs protecting.

Uncaged Review: This was a pretty good book, but the beginning part drug on a bit for me. I was over 30% through the book before I discovered the paranormal part of the book, and at first it came in bits and pieces and then you were tossed head first into it. I liked the book quite a bit after the halfway point, when it finally picked up the pace.
Sevyn (Dana’s code name and alter ego) works for a secret government agency known as Top, and is part of one of the richest families in the city. She works at her family’s financial firm at day, and at night she hunts the creatures that killed her mother when she was 10 yrs old. Her father keeps assigning her bodyguards, and she keeps “losing” them, until Neal comes She can’t get rid of Neal so easily, and she comes to find out that she really doesn’t want to. Sevyn and Neal both have special abilities, even though they don’t know why they do.
The book has some pretty good suspense elements, and a touch of romance – and after that halfway mark, there is some good action sequences. I have to also say that I enjoyed the humor elements, and the talking heads were a hoot, I’m not sure they were meant to be or not, but it was a fun and original idea. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars

 

Uncaged Review – Exit Signs by Patricia Locke

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As seen in Issue 5 of Uncaged Book Reviews

Exit Signs
Patricia Locke
Contemporary Romance

Researcher Tracy Price is trying to find a dead writer and forget a live musician.

Rock star Jesse Elliot is sure Tracy is demented, and she believes he wouldn’t recognize the truth in a lineup of Bibles. Their only hope is to stop trying to read each other’s minds and start speaking their own.

Anyone who has ever had a crush, felt betrayed, or been forgiven will appreciate Tracy’s struggle to claim the life she never knew she wanted.

Uncaged Review: The story starts with us reading about who Jesse Elliot is and why he’s in a courthouse. Then we meet Tracy who is a researcher for a independent video production company. Who meets Jesse through a friend so clearly they have a past hence them both being at court. Well this is a simple story of girl works for boy by reading his memoir he’s writing. While trying to do her paid job by looking into a missing person case of a Loretta Galiend. Who’s been missing since 1934 Tracey finds herself drawn to this case as Loretta left behind a suitcase of her life story. So we learn about secret meetings a love affair gone wrong and what happens when you keep vital information to yourself.
I really liked the story it was a romance and a mystery all rolled into one. Enjoyed learning about Loretta’s past, Tracy’s future and how love doesn’t turn out how you would expect it to. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Reviewed by Jennifer

5 Stars

Uncaged Review – The Sixth Event by Kristen Morie-Osisek

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As seen in Issue 5 of Uncaged Book Reviews

The Sixth Event
Kristen Morie-Osisek
SciFi /Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Raquel isn’t eighteen anymore… During Raquel’s first semester of college, she witnesses the end of the world, only to wake up in her old room at her parents’ house two years in the past. Even worse, it seems she’s the only one who remembers—until Chris Lyley, a boy Raquel always thought was a loser, tells her he remembers the catastrophe. Before long, they both discover new abilities. They’re able to understand any language and teleport through time and space. If Raquel and Chris can figure out what caused the end of their world, maybe they can stop it.

Uncaged Review: This is an easy read and very unique. I don’t think I’ve ever read this type of dystopian story before along with time travel. Very original in that respect. Raquel is a college student who witnesses the end of the world during her first semester in college, and right when she dies, she wakes up in her bedroom of her parent’s home and it is two years in the past, so she’s still a junior in high school. No one remembers what happened except for her, until another student in her school, whom she never had any contact with, Chris, they accidently find out the other knows. Then they find that they can teleport to other places by thinking of them.

The story goes on that they end up finding other people that can do the same, and also witnessed the end also, and the only thing they can think of, is to find a way to stop the end of the world. And to do that, they teleport to extinction events in history to find answers.

This story keeps a nice pace, and has engaging characters. I wasn’t sure that I liked the ending, but it did wrap up its story nicely and that is probably just a matter of personal preference. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars

Uncaged Review: Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete

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Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter
Horror
C.A. Verstraete

Every family has its secrets…

One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become zombies?

Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.

Uncaged Review: 

Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete is an engaging horror story covering the axe murders of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother in 1892 and the consequent trial of Lizzie Borden, but with the sci-fi twist of adding zombies into the mix. When Lizzie finds first her step-mother, and then her father rotting on their feet, she is thrown into a tale of grief, danger and scandal, all the while attempting to hide the truth convincingly from the public eye. She suffers scrutiny and judgment by her peers as she wages war against the undead alongside her sister and a few allies belonging to a secretive organization called the Society.

C.A. Verstraete did a masterful job of portraying both the era within which the story takes place, and the characters themselves. It is easy to envision the setting given the details provided, and never is the reader overwhelmed with excessive adjectives or flowery prose. In fact, ‘flowery’ is possibly the worst possible descriptor for how the book is written, with its appropriately stomach-turning imagery and gritty atmosphere. It’s remarkably easy to allow yourself to be dragged into the pages and be wrapped up in the characters, who feel less like characters and more like people.

Lizzie, the main protagonist, has a good head on her shoulders. Given the time period and the fact that women were only just transitioning from less dominant roles as homemakers to breadwinners, Lizzie’s independence and strength of character are unexpected but refreshing. She’s very reasonable and takes an analytical approach to most things, refraining from petty or foolish behavior that would have most horror movie connoisseurs sighing in disappointment. At the same time, she is prone to bouts of grief and emotion, which makes her feel all the more believable and worthy of sympathy. The reader feels fear through the character as they go through the trials and tribulations she does, and it’s hard not to cheer for her. Her development is noticeable but Lizzie never becomes someone the reader wouldn’t recognize, which is a respectable feat of fiction as many authors tend to take it too far, or not far enough.

The story itself never feels stale, and it’s hard to gauge how the book will end until the reader is within a few pages of the conclusion. Something that can detract from a book like this is an overbearing romance arc, and while there is some romance explored within the pages of Lizzie Borden, it never distracts the reader from the real plot. It does occasionally distract the protagonist, but in an unobtrusive way that adds rather than takes away from the book as a whole. The conclusion itself is satisfying in that it doesn’t stray far from belief nor from the book’s genre. It isn’t a rosy happy-ever-after where the reader is all but guaranteed that nothing bad or challenging would ever happen to the good guys again, but the author wraps up the plot while leaving you with a taste of what could lay in Lizzie’s future.

All in all, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is a wonderfully-written piece and a delight to read. The editing is spot-on as there were no obvious spelling or grammatical errors to be seen, and the verbiage used was excellently-chosen and appropriate to the era. The setting is artfully portrayed and the plot covers its bases while wrapping up in a satisfying ending. The characters are consistent, and most importantly the protagonist is a likeable and believable heroine. If you are looking for a solid read, horror or otherwise, this is a book worth considering. Reviewed by Kaitlin

5stars-web

Uncaged Review – A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

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As seen in Issue 4 of Uncaged Book Reviews.

A Shade of Vampire
Bella Forrest
Paranormal Romance/YA

On the evening of Sofia Claremont’s seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to The Shade, an enchanted island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine. An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.
Sofia’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is selected out of hundreds of girls to take up residence in the tree-top harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal prince.

Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? Or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

Uncaged Review:  This is a very strong series and sitting at 35 books strong already. I, of course, had to see what all the fuss is about with over 8K reviews on Amazon.

I’ve read the first three books in the series (thank goodness for KindleUnlimited) and the series is young adult oriented (so far) and the storyline is original – but it does have it’s issues.

Sofia is kidnapped on her 17th birthday and taken to an island that is shielded from the world by the magic of a witch, and it’s always night for the vampires. The humans that live on the island are either in a harem with a vampire, or they are living in the caves, and can be taken at anytime for food for the vampires. Some people were even born at the island. In the meantime, Derek Novak, the royal prince vampire has awoken from a long sleep and he takes Sofia into his harem. And from here a romance between Sofia and Derek brews slowly. But there is a lot of danger, as another coven wants to find and defeat this coven.

What’s wrong? When Derek wakes up from his long sleep, he’s very violent and has a hard time with control. He even backhands his sister, which I don’t think sends a good message at all since he isn’t punished at all for it. He even almost kills one of the other girls at his tree-top haven, and it’s brushed off by everyone but Sofia.

I am going to give strong caution to young adults on this one, at least to older teens because of some of the violence and abuse. It’s not rife throughout the book, but it’s enough to take notice. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars