Toru: Wayfarer Returns by Stephanie Sorensen ~ Review

Toru: Wayfarer Returns
Stephanie Sorensen

Series: Sakura Steam #1
Genre: Steampunk, Historical
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Palantir Press

Revolutionary young samurai with dirigibles take on Commodore Perry and his Black Ships in this alternate history steampunk technofantasy set in 1850s samurai-era Japan.

In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as the commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures, growing ever more demanding.

Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by American traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.

Source: Publisher via Net Galley
Rating: 4 Stars ~ LOVED

What a splendid experience I got reading this blend of Japanese historical and steampunk set in the latter years of the Shogun era.  This slow developing story added the surprise of a mysterious hero who is much more than he seems and a sweet and lightly hinted at romance.  I enjoyed delving into the history and culture of historical Japan even as the clock is ticking on this medieval land working through a fast industrial revolution all to keep the foreigners from invading their peaceful shores with their forceful desires to dominate trade in the orient.

The story opens with lone Toru returning to his homeland after spending two eventful and educational years in America.  Toru knows he is risking his very life to return because under Shogun law, no one who has left Japan's shores may ever return.  The Shogun is the military leader under Japan's emperor and he fears that anyone who leaves and returns will bring in dangerous new ideas and change.

Toru does indeed return with dangerous new ideas- the Americans and British are circling and growing impatient with Japan's severe isolationism when trade and wealth is to be had.  He loves his homeland and doesn't want to see it fall.  Toru risks all to bring back plans and ideas to bring Japan forward into the modern age of steam trains, telegraphs, submersibles, air ships, guns, and more.

Toru is taken into custody by a minor nobleman who has the intention of following the law and taking Toru's head, but his hand is stayed by his curious daughter and his own secret desire to see the young fisherman live.  Lady Masuyo finds the fisherman, his journal, and his secrets fascinating because simple, poor fisherman Toru is not.

Toru's quest becomes the quest of others and even he is amazed as his dream takes flight.  Masuyo shows herself a master inventor and innovator, his childhood friend goes from blacksmith to builder to leader as great steam locomotives, dirigibles, and war machines are produced, and the lords supporting Toru do the work of engaging more to the cause.

Meanwhile, the mighty lord of the south showers approval and support on Toru causing the others to look at him askance with wonder and suspicion even as the ominous silence from the east where the Shogun watches does not reassure him in the least.  For Japan to survive the threat of invasion, he must find a way to unite the rebel lords and the Shogun even if it means his very life.

This book gets off to a slow start and delves deep rather than skimming along at a rapid pace.  Tradition, culture, characters, setting, and plot are richly developed.  Relationships are made and deepened though the focus is always the survival of their country.  I enjoyed the authors varied and colorful cast of characters from the fiery, fierce lady who will not be shunted to the side when she has the skills needed and the drive to fight alongside the men, to the humble blacksmith who proclaims himself the captain of the fleet, to the traditional, but open-minded lords who place their trusts, their wealth, and their own lives in Toru.  Toru, himself, is an engaging character and it was neat to see him go from enigma to something much more as his secrets are revealed.

I was not familiar with the Shogun era, but I do love what I know of the Japanese culture so it was a pleasure to read a story that felt authentic even with the deviation from regular history.  The inclusion of the steampunk aspect fit very well with this historical time period.  There wasn't much in the form of small gadgetry so much as the large tools, transportation, and weapons.  I look forward to more from this series both the history, culture, and steampunk inventions.

There is a light romance playing out in the background between Lady Masuyo and Toru.  It's rather understated because of the furious need to prepare for invasion and because of the class differences of that culture.  Toru has no hope of a lady of her noble lines and she doesn't think it is possible for her to be with a commoner no matter how uncommon he is.  They also bump heads over her need to be in on the action and his desire to keep her safe.  I thought they were a great pair.

All in all, this was a nice start to a new series by a new to me author.  I would recommend it for those who love to immerse themselves in Asian history, but like an engaging adventure to go with it.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Sophia Rose regularly blogs and reviews at Delighted Reader.

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Fatal Identity by Marie Force Review + Excerpt

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Sam and Nick return in the stunning romantic suspense, FATAL IDENTITY, that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat! FATAL IDENTITY is the tenth novel in Marie Force’s Fatal Series being published by HarlequinHQN. Check out all the stops on the tour below, and make sure you order your copy today!


Every family has its secrets…

As the first anniversary of her marriage to Vice President Nick Cappuano approaches, Lieutenant Sam Holland is dreaming of Bora Bora—sun, sand and a desperately needed break from the DC grind. But real life has a way of intervening, and Sam soon finds herself taking on one of the most perplexing cases of her career.

Government worker Josh Hamilton begs Sam to investigate his shocking claim that his parents stole him from another family thirty years ago. More complicated still, his “father” is none other than the FBI director. When a member of Josh’s family is brutally murdered, Sam begins to question how deep this cover-up goes. Is it possible the revered director was part of a baby-napping ring and that others involved are also targets?

With a killer intent on deadly revenge and her team still reeling from a devastating loss, Sam’s plate is full—and when Nick and their son, Scotty, take ill, is her dream of a tropical anniversary celebration in peril too?


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Get Fatal Identity in print at Amazon, B&N, Books A Million, Chapters Indigo, Booktopia and Indie Bound.


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Source: eARC from publisher
This is my honest review.
Rating: 4 Stars ~ Loved

Twists, turns, and delicious romantic suspense!

Have I told you lately that Sam and Nick from Marie Force’s Fatal series is one of my favorite bookish couples? Well, they are! I’ve read this series in sequence and each book makes me adore Sam and Nick more and more. I can’t believe that Fatal Identity is already book TEN!!! I know there’s a huge following for this series, so I’m here to say that die-hard fans will, no doubt, continue to be riveted and rocked with Fatal Identity.

Sam and Nick are truly a couple so much in love. Together they lead unique and interesting lives. It’s now several weeks after Nick’s inauguration as Vice President of the United States. As Lieutenant of Homicide at Metro PD, Sam finds herself having to deal with the consequences of her actions in the previous book. Things get captivating when a case falls in her lap requiring her immediate attention. Suddenly, she’s knee deep in an old kidnapping case, when Josh Hamilton, the FBI director’s son, needs her help.

Marie Force kept me guessing with all the twists, turns, and delicious romantic suspense! The ending was certainly an eye-opener. I’ve always enjoyed when we get glimpses of the other couples and the people involved in Sam and Nick’s lives. Gonzo painfully deals with what he experienced in the last book, and it was good to see him work through those emotions. Fatal Identity showcases how Sam tries to balance her work, her obligations as the VP’s wife, her family, and keeping the sizzle alive with her husband who has an insatiable appetite for his wife. These two can’t get into celebrating their first wedding anniversary fast enough!

Fatal Identity is a pretty solid addition to the series. As someone who has followed this series from the beginning, know the back stories, and have seen the growth of several characters, I think I know which direction Marie Force wants to take these characters, particularly with Sam and Nick. I hope their story gets there, but until then I’m anxious to see where their path leads to in the next book.

***Excerpt may contain spoilers. You have been warned.***

“I love you. I’m sorry I brought this situation into our home, and I’m sorry I had to say no to you for the first time ever.”
His lips curved into a small, sexy smile. “You’ll make it up to me.” He leaned in close to brush his lips against her ear. “On your back, with your legs on my shoulders, your ass red from my hand and—”
“Stop it,” she said, shivering from the desire that in­stantly heated her core. “Right now. I’ve got to go to work.”
Chuckling, he released her. “Hurry home, and be care­ful out there, Samantha. Whoever decided to kill the FBI director won’t think twice about killing again.”
“I’m always careful. Don’t worry.”
“Right. You may as well tell me not to breathe.”
“Don’t do that. I need you alive and well when I get home so I can make it up to you.”
“It’s not fair. You’re suspended and you still have to work. I was sort of looking forward to having you all to myself for a few days. Should’ve known it was too much to hope for. But you’ll pay. Yes, you will. When you get home and when we get to Bora Bora at the end of the month. You will pay.”
Smiling, she kissed him again. “Can’t wait.”
“Me either.” He stole another kiss from her. “Love you so much. Please be careful.”
“I will. I promise. Hold down the fort, and keep an eye on our guest.” She patted his chest one last time and left the kitchen, deciding in that moment to keep the news about Troy from Josh until she knew more. They’d keep it on lockdown so there was no way he’d hear it online or anywhere else until they were ready to release the news.

  Fatal Series  

And don’t forget to grab the previous titles in the Fatal Series Today!












About Marie Force:
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.2 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series from Berkley Publishing as well as the new erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.      

Website **Twitter ** Facebook ** Author Goodreads ** Newsletter **Pinterest ** Instagram ** YouTube**BookBub

~*~Tour-Wide Giveaway~*~
Giveaway Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9172c1a0332/

Marie Force’s FATAL IDENTITY – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:
July 27th
A Bookish Mess – Review & Excerpt
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
July 29th
PrincessReads – Review & Excerpt
Books Need TLC – Review
Travels N Reads – Excerpt
July 30th
July 31st
Those Crazy Book Chicks – Review & Excerpt
Love Affair With Fiction – Review & Excerpt
August 1st
IrishdaisylovesRomance – Review & Excerpt
Wickedcoolflight – Review & Excerpt
Roxy's Reviews – Excerpt
August 2nd
Kelsey's Corner Time – Review & Excerpt
August 3rd
BFD Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Jax's Book Magic – Excerpt
August 4th
Aly's Miscellany – Review
Bea's Book Nook – Excerpt
August 5th
My Book Snack – Review & Excerpt
G & T's Indie Café – Excerpt


Spiked (Blocked 3) by Jennifer Lane ~ Cover Reveal

✯✯SPIKED by Jennifer Lane✯✯

Cover Reveal
The cover for book 3 in Jennifer Lane´s Blocked Series!
jennifer lane spiked cover

Spiked Blurb
They say
University is the time
To find yourself
But I don’t need to find myself
Just want to find you

After watching his older siblings find their love matches at Highbanks University, Mateo Ramirez feels unlikely to follow in their footsteps. What girl would want him? Unlike his brother and sister, he battles diabetes and chooses music over sports. But at least he can write songs about his life—and the girl who caught his eye when their parents ran against each other for US President.

Hey, chica! Come conmigo
And baby, why don’t we go
Down under the bridge to the water
With you it can only get hotter

Jessica Monroe is a talented swimmer who dreams of representing Team USA at the Olympics. When she earns an athletic scholarship to Highbanks, she’s excited to attend the same school as the cute boy she met two years ago: Mateo. Too bad he’s not around when a teammate spikes her drink. Jessica may never trust men again.

Is a hard-to-earn thing
Try to keep listening
Down all of the unjust
My chest, my heart will bust

College years are the time to shake off the past and find your future. But will that future find Mateo and Jessica together? Dive in and immerse yourself in the eagerly anticipated conclusion to Jennifer Lane’s Blocked trilogy.

Expected release date: October 1, 2016

Pre-Order your copy today: http://amzn.to/2aovcoX

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Check out the Blocked series on Amazon and catch up before Spiked releases!
Also FREE with Kindle Unlimited
Pre-Order Spiked today on Amazon US: https://goo.gl/CTKw7g
With Good Behavior:

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Bound to Submit by Laura Kaye ~ Cover Reveal #BlasphemySeries

Bound to Submit - cover reveal banner

Decadent… Sensual… Forbidden…

12 Masters. 12 Desires. 12 Fantasies Come to Life. Meet the Masters of Blasphemy…

Releasing September 13, 2016, BOUND TO SUBMIT

is the first full-length novel in Laura Kaye's Blasphemy Series.

A Note from Laura Kaye:

Dear Readers,

I’m so excited to share my new cover art for Bound to Submit with you today! From the moment I met Detective Kyler Vance in the Hard Ink series, I was intrigued. And from the second I knew Kyler was a Dom in an exclusive club named Blasphemy, I knew I had to learn more. That was the moment the Blasphemy series was born, and now I’m just thrilled at how the whole thing is taking shape – beginning with Bound to Submit, which promises to be scorchingly hot and achingly emotional. I hope you’ll grab your copy. In the meantime, enjoy this amazing cover! And if you haven’t already, get caught up with Hard to Serve, the book that introduces it all!


Laura Kaye

Bound To Submit - cover

From the ruins of an abandoned church comes Baltimore’s hottest and most exclusive BDSM club. Twelve Masters. Infinite fantasies. Welcome to Blasphemy…
He thinks he caused her pain, but she knows he’s the only one who can heal her…
Kenna Sloane lost her career and her arm in the Marines, and now she feels like she’s losing herself. Submission is the only thing that ever freed her from pain and made her feel secure, and Kenna needs to serve again. Bad. The only problem is the Dom she wants once refused her submission and broke her heart, but, scarred on the inside and out, she’s not looking for love this time. She’s not even sure she’s capable.
Griffin Hudson is haunted by the mistakes that cost him the only woman he ever loved. Now she’s back at his BDSM club, Blasphemy, and more beautiful than ever, and she’s asking for his help with the pain he knows he caused. Even though he’s scared to hurt her again, he can’t refuse her, because he’d give anything to earn a second chance. And this time, he’ll hold on forever.

"A searingly sexy story with some of the hottest scenes I've read in a long, long time. Laura Kaye shows her mastery of the BDSM world. I'm eagerly anticipating more in this bold new series!"
~ Cherise Sinclair, NYT Bestselling Author of the Masters of the Shadowlands Series

Pre-Order Bound to Submit, releasing 9/13/16

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

B&N and paperback links to come

Add to your Goodreads


Meet the Masters of Blasphemy in Hard to Serve, now available

Amazon exclusive until September 2016 in paperback and ebook

  Laura Kaye - author pic
About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty-five books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.    

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter SignUp| HARD TO SERVE on Goodreads |BOUND TO SUBMIT on Goodreads

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A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install ~ Review

A Robot in the Garden
Deborah Install

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: May 10, 2016

Ben's really great at failing at things-his job, taking the garbage out, and being a husband. But when he discovers a battered robot named Tang in his garden, he decides to get out of his couch-ridden comfort zone. Without a crucial bit of machinery, Tang will stop working, and Ben can't let that happen, especially since he's already alienated everyone else he cares about. Determined to achieve something for once in his life, Ben sets out to fix his new robot comrade and soon discovers that Tang might be just the thing to fix what's broken in Ben. Funny, touching, and charming, A Robot in the Garden explores what it is to be a man, a sentient being, and a friend.

Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars ~ Excellent

Once in a while, I just want a little something different that has heart, but is also light.  I found that with this tale of a man who has lost his way and decides that helping a little quirky robot find his home is the way to find his way back.

After the death of his parents in a plane crash and a lifetime of never pleasing them, Ben Chambers has now also failed at his marriage when a battle over the less than pristine older robot that wanders into their garden is the last straw with his wife.  Ben thinks the little guy is something special and Amy just wants him to toss it into the trash since the robot isn't sleek or as practical as the newer housekeeping androids.

Tired of being considered a failure, Ben takes the clues found on 'Tang' and he and his new little companion set off to find were Tang came from so the robot can repaired and restored to his home.  Tang is unlike any Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech that Ben has ever seen.  It's like someone didn't care about appearance and threw the robot together yet also managed to make Tang sentient.  Tang is unique, but it seems that only Ben can appreciate him.

Their journey is not uneventful and is fraught with humorous misunderstandings, frustrating situations, introspection, new encounters, and along the way Ben and Tang form a friendship that leaves Ben ambivalent as they draw closer to the answer to Tang's mysteries.  In helping Tang find home, Ben is discovering himself and what he truly wants.

I love 'road trip' style stories and this one is no exception.  Ben is an ordinary guy who just wants to do something right for a change.  Tang is mysterious and unknown at first and slowly his personality shows forth.  There are a handful of encounters on the journey that bring interesting happenings, but also lessons for Ben along the way.  I liked that the journey ended where it started and being back in his home environment showed all the changes and growth in Ben.

The author's writing, descriptions, infusion of humor and introspection were done well.  Ben is the sole narrator and he was such a great protagonist that I was happy to be along for his adventure.  Tang was sheer delight.  The author blended a personality with a robotic brain.

The setting could be considered sci-fi or just our world as more hi-tech with the inclusion of androids and robots and more automation as part of the contemporary world.  It's understood as normal and not a great deal of scientific explanation is put there to bog down the story (sorry, if that is your thing).  The focus was definitely on the characters.

So, in summary, this was an engaging heartwarming journey of the heart as a man came into his own with the help of a quirky, little friend.  I would recommend this to contemporary fiction or light sci-fi fans.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sophia Rose regularly blogs and reviews at Delighted Reader

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