REVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; JULY 16, 2014 The Story: 2 and 1/2 stars The Narrator: 5 stars
This book was much too long for a story that covers only a sm...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; JULY 16, 2014 The Story: 2 and 1/2 stars The Narrator: 5 stars
This book was much too long for a story that covers only a small slice of the boys' lives (just a little over a year). It is also way too long when I have to listen to it, albeit the excellent narration, only to find that the one single bit of "action" that jerked me out of my slumber was when the MCs are forced to act straight for the sake of their image. Even then, this dragged on like everything else - and there isn't much else until we come to the finish line and...the book just stops. I am left with an "epilogue-like" ending that tells me their lives will just go on as is until the next boy-band comes along.
Most of the story is about hand-holding, cuddling, groping, fingers entwining, kissing and there's no penetrative sex until long after I lost interest. Perhaps for those who read mostly YA or like YA, the 18 year-old MCs being such virgins (they are so nervous at the first kiss, first hj, bj etc) and taking so long to get to that place may be the norm (need to ask Ami, she reads YA) but for me who only read gay porn in the guise of roh-mance, the two virgin boys were just too, too out of character for the 18 year-olds I've read.
...or it's more likely I'm reading too many rentboy romances.
Anyway, the story was too long and got boring.
The Narrator: What. A. Surprise. I was expecting Tyler Stevens to sound like this (click the sample button) and that had stopped me from buying the Lane Hayes audiobooks as I did not think I could stand 11 hours of the MCs sounding like that. Stevens didn't sound like a flaming twink on CMB, though, so I decided to give him a try.
I loved him! His mellow voice suited the young guys and to me, it was brilliant voice casting. It wasn't just that, Stevens' pacing, expression and range is about the best I've heard. This is saying a lot because I very much prefer male narrators with deep, rich, smokin' hot voices and Tyler Stevens' voice is none of these to me. I'm comparing narrating skillz here, 'k? There are several narrators out there with mellow, higher voices like Max Lehnen or John Solo but IMO, neither would have done as good a job as Stevens. Definitely not Lehnen (I've put him in the same category as 'ugh narrators' like Veryzer, Gelder, JP Handler and Roy Wells). Joseph Northton who did Dani Alexander's Shattered Glass is about the only other narrator I think could narrate this book as well as Stevens.
So yeah...I'm much more impressed with the narrator than the story. I enjoyed Coming Home by the author a lot more.(less)
It was very helpful to my understanding of what makes a good leader. Enjoyed it very much at a time when EQ (Emotional Quotient) was not yet a buzzwor...moreIt was very helpful to my understanding of what makes a good leader. Enjoyed it very much at a time when EQ (Emotional Quotient) was not yet a buzzword.
REVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; 9 JULY 2014 Narrator: Charlie David
I'm so glad I forgot I didn't want to read this after reading one of the reviews last y...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; 9 JULY 2014 Narrator: Charlie David
I'm so glad I forgot I didn't want to read this after reading one of the reviews last year.
In the case of this book, after a comment about Zev's ignorance re. sex, I believed I wouldn't be able to accept that but having read and listened to the book, I'll say that it was entirely believable because of the way the author set things up. Cardeno did make a sufficient case for shifter society being very different from human and all the things we know and take for granted - like watching online porn. Jonah, puzzled by Zev's ignorance of gay sex, asks him if he's ever watched porn online and Zev replies no, he hasn't and the explanation is given in the narrative.
As I said, it is the way Cardeno set things up that made it all believable. If I saw Zev through 21st century human eyes then yeah, it would be unbelievable but then, so would the entire shifter thing!
Zev, despite his forward-looking attitudes and the strongest alpha to emerge in eons, is just a simple but big-hearted guy living in a small town. It is Jonah, his true mate, who lives as a full human and is exposed to the outside world, so to speak; who left Etzgadol after high school and went on to study medicine in the big city. Zev, in the meantime, is not only left behind (his choice, entirely), he remains as sheltered from life as the humans know it; he is also groomed from young to become the pack's leader. Shifter culture and norms are deeply-ingrained in the young Alpha-to-be and I felt every bit of confusion and bemusement he did over his yearning for a male and a human. Shifters don't mate with humans and certainly not with the same gender.
I thought this aspect was especially well done even though it is easy for the reader to guess why Zev feels the way he does about Jonah. Jonah, despite being the bottom and Zev being the alpha in every sense of the word, is the one who's more sophisticated and knowledgeable, compared to Zev who has been sheltered from humans since birth.
It is Cardeno taking me from Zev's and Jonah childhood years (the wolf puppy and toddler) through adolescence and their subsequent separation, and finally, their reunion, that I found most touching and I'll say this is one of the best wolf shifter stories I've read.
Having it narrated by Charlie David was icing on an already yummy cake:)
PS: When we meet Ethan (a shifter from another pack) and Miguel (a vampire) towards the last leg of the story, they are already in a relationship but the sequel covers how they became a couple so timeline-wise, I'm guessing the two books run concurrently. I've only just started on the sequel, Until Forever Comes, so I'm not sure yet at which point of book 1 the sequel comes in. (less)
DNF REVIEW OF AUDIOBOOK; JUNE 23, 2014 Narrator: Emily Bereford
This review and rating is only for the audiobook and only for the first 9 chapters.
The a...moreDNF REVIEW OF AUDIOBOOK; JUNE 23, 2014 Narrator: Emily Bereford
This review and rating is only for the audiobook and only for the first 9 chapters.
The audio was such a chore to listen to on account of Katherine/Katelyn's character. She's such a mentally-tormented woman and Ms Eden does know how to belabor that point. It got exhausting and tiresome for me to listen to the narration because, unlike reading a book, I couldn't skim and skip.
Every scene involving Kat (she hates being called Kat because that's what the killer calls her) rehashes, over and over, her connection to the killer and why she is such a traumatized woman. At each chapter, I was saying, "Enough. She's traumatized. I get it."
This may be a ploy on the author's part to get us to sympathize with Kat, just as it was a ploy on the FBI profiler's part (Marcus) to appear as the 'bad' cop vs Dane, the good cop so that Kat would trust Dane but Marcus succeeded where the author failed. How's that? Well, overdoing Kat's traumatized state ended up alienating me. I found this aspect of the story heavy-handed and would have preferred it if Kat had a life other than that of Trauma Victim. Her 'trauma event' happened 3 years ago. Didn't she work after that? Have a life outside of that event? It wasn't even as if she was the killer's victim, per se, and while I can understand and sympathize with the psychological aftermath she is suffering, I didn't want to have to read it page after page and worse, have to listen to it.
That said, if those parts about Kat were trimmed, I believe I would have enjoyed this book, and even Dane's rationalizations of his actions that everyone around him knew was due to his having the hots for Ms Trauma Victim. I'll check out the other two books in this series and, perhaps, Ms Eden is less heavy-handed in them.
I gave the first 9 chapters 3 stars instead of 2 because while I found the descriptions of Kat's traumatized state tiresome, I was curious about who the killer really is. We know at the start of the story already, that Kat discovered her fiance carving up his latest victim in their basement. But there's got to be more than that, obviously, so I'm thinking the killer is not who I'm led to think he is or there's more to his connection with Kat than what has been revealed so far. My curiosity being piqued is worth 3 stars to me and the book may even end up 4 stars. At this point, I don't plan on finishing it because I can't to listen to a book that's so focused on the character's trauma. PS: I just checked out the next two books (I bought the audios knowing only that they were part of a series) and looks like I'm going to have to finish Die For Me since the MCs in the next 2 books are connected to each previous installment.
**spoiler alert** I finished the book, but with a lot of skimming in the second half. I did enjoy the first quarter even though I thought it was a lit...more**spoiler alert** I finished the book, but with a lot of skimming in the second half. I did enjoy the first quarter even though I thought it was a little messy, as if the author hadn't made up her mind where she wanted to go with her characters.
The plot is straightforward and follows the blurb to a T. In fact, the blurb is better written:(
This could have been a very good MM erotic suspense, but failed for me because:
1) 3/4 of the book has Ryan spending intimate time with Petrov, the guy the FBI wants Ryan to spy on. Ryan has more sex with Petrov than with Deke and though there's a lot of hard cocks to look at, Deke only has full-on sex with Ryan once - towards the end of the book. And Petrov never fucks Ryan. The sex scenes are all about bjs and hjs. There are some good erotic scenes, though.
2)The author has Ryan fall for Petrov even while he's already attracted to Deke. I liked this because I thought there'd be some complexity to the relationship and plot: rentboy, FBI boyfriend and Russian villain triangle? I'd love to see how that plays out. Unfortunately, after taking me through 80+% of the book with Ryan in sex scenes with Petrov, telling me Ryan has feelings for Petrov, have Petrov say 'I love you' to Ryan...Petrov simply gets arrested and that's it. No more Petrov. W.T.F. Why? Why paint Petrov as a bad guy with a soft heart for Ryan, to tease with the hint of complex flavors to the man and his relationship with the MC then just drop him cold?
3) Ryan's reason for taking on the task of bringing his best friend's killer to justice could have been made more compelling. As it is, Rocco is merely a mention in the book and I couldn't feel or even understand Ryan's need for avenging his best friend and fellow rentboy's murder. Ryan wants very much to get out of the business. He wants to go to college. One of his ex-customers, Gregory, for reasons we will never know, decides to be the Good Samaritan and takes Ryan (and a girl, Gina) out of the sex industry, giving Ryan a job in his organic grocery store and offering to meet Ryan’s college fees dollar-to-dollar. ‘Saint’ Gregory even declines Ryan’s overtures for sex because Gregory's generosity comes with conditions - Ryan is not to go back to his old life. Which brings me to Gregory –
4) Like Petrov, Gregory’s character is developed up to a point, a certain image is formed in my mind, he is interesting enough to make me suspicious of his motives (and yes, there is more to “Saint” Greg)…then poof! He ends up like Petrov. Just removed from the story.
5) Ryan is, himself, full of contradictory behavior. A lot is mentioned about Ryan’s dread of having to go back to the sex clubs, which the FBI undercover job requires. Yet, when he’s at the Dungeon 69 he voluntarily hops up on the bar counter and starts an erotic dance, guaranteed to get every dick in the place standing to attention. Ryan knows if he starts dabbling in his old life, Gregory will cut off his support but Ryan still does, of course. Not just for Rocco’s sake, but for Deke, or Cowboy Agent, as Ryan has nicknamed him….because he’s fallen for the Fed. Why? How? They’d just met and Deke was playing the jerk with Ryan because Deke is so pussy-whipped by Serah it’s not funny. His superior, Serah, is right old bitch under the guise of wanting to redeem Deke yet she’s the only character who makes sense to me.
These are the parts I found fault with but the sad thing is that I did find the book interesting enough to finish and am exasperated that the author left me with half-woven patterns in this tapestry. Each character was fascinating enough and the author thought so enough to create interesting threads. So why just drop each thread cold? Even after this right old mess of a story which ends abruptly in an HFN, I am left thinking what a waste. The BDSM is run-o-mill. Nothing you won’t find in any other BDSM-themed book but I think (I may be wrong since I’m not a fan) BDSM themes are not about the toys and paraphilia but about the relational dynamics. This is what I mean when I say this was lacking in follow through.
What did I like? An attempt to write an erotic suspense:D I want more of these but with proper follow-through of the characters and finish. I liked the grittiness and that no punches were pulled where the description of the dead body was concerned - it fit with the type of story this was even if I felt it was a little too gory for my taste. I liked when Deke and Ryan finally had sex. Just one sex scene but it was good and one good one is way better than ten boring ones.
Perhaps a sequel is being planned and the MCs will have found themselves then. I need Deke to get his career on track and I want to see Ryan and Deke make a life together.
Conclusion: I love undercover themes and this one had everything I could want - eroticism and suspense. I am interested enough in the story and the characters to want to read a sequel. (less)
REVIEW OF EBOOK; JUNE 14, 2014: 2 and a half stars
I started on the Lucy Kincaid series yesterday and, to be honest, wasn't expecting much because I'd...moreREVIEW OF EBOOK; JUNE 14, 2014: 2 and a half stars
I started on the Lucy Kincaid series yesterday and, to be honest, wasn't expecting much because I'd read her Predator trilogy and didn't like them. Since I don't usually bother with series novellas, this rather so-so start to the series didn't put me off. I found this novella very confusing as far as where it fitted in the series. It's mainly the fault of the FBI interview that is included at the end of the novella. It threw me off completely since I'm coming to the series 100% new and clueless as to who's who and the events surrounding the characters.
For other newbies to the series, this might help:
Correct timeline (as I understand it): Love is Murder takes place a year before Book 1. As the blurb says - Twenty-four year-old Lucy is taking a vacation with her brother, Patrick. She's just broken off with her boyfriend, Cody, and will be submitting her application that summer to join the FBI. That process, in itself, will take up to a year. Meanwhile, Lucy is an intern at a DC medical examiner as well as volunteering at a victim’s rights group.
There is some mention in the novella of Lucy having suffered horribly from an abduction when she was 18, which resulted in Patrick being left in a coma following his injury after the rescue attempt of his kid sister. This abduction, if I'm not wrong, is covered in Fear No Evil, Book 3 of the No Evil series.
There is a rather ho-hum murder mystery woven in here and I'm left wondering what was the point of this novella. I'm going to assume it's to show Lucy's introduction to her first crime-solving experience as she figures out who the killer of Vanessa is and wraps it all up nice and neat.
....FBI Special Agent Lucy Kincaid here we come!
I could have done without this prequel and the FBI interview as it didn't add anything to the series but only served to confuse me. The interview takes place after Book 1, Love Me to Death because during the interview, Lucy tells her interviewers, "Sean and I haven’t been seeing each other for long. I filled out the initial application a year ago.". At the start of Book 1, Sean and Lucy haven't started dating yet. They only know each other casually because Sean works with Lucy's brother in their private security company, Rogan-Caruso-Kincaid. It is only at one-third through Love Me to Death that Sean kisses Lucy and when he takes her out on their first date.
This FBI interview would have been better if included in Book #1 rather than Book #0.5.(less)
REVIEW OF AUDIO & KINDLE; JUNE 16, 2014 Narrator: Ann Marie Lee
The Story: convoluted for most of the book, until the last few chapters. Lots of dif...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & KINDLE; JUNE 16, 2014 Narrator: Ann Marie Lee
The Story: convoluted for most of the book, until the last few chapters. Lots of different characters ala Karen Rose, aimed at confusing the reader while giving the impression that it's a serious police procedural - which I suppose it is. Just that it didn't make for interesting reading.
I've found there are, generally-speaking, two main types of books involving police procedurals - 1) the ones where the perp is more or less known early on and the story focuses on how the good guys catch the bad guy; or, 2) as in the case of this book, the author leads you through a maze of characters, past events and present cases, then out of seemingly nowhere, the perp pops up and he's someone whose name was not mentioned until he's identified in the last lap of the story.
I don't mind either one because, for me, it is the telling of the story that I'm interested in rather than solving the mystery. As such, if I'm led into a maze with no interesting stops to refresh my interest, I start to wilt, as I am right now in this heatwave. It is the reason why I read Romantic Suspense - I need the romance thread as a time-out from the technical data and investigative procedures, unless I'm being taken out on the field. Otherwise, I get grumpy and claustrophobic stuck at the desk job going through the mounds of info and analyzing it.
Unfortunately, in this book, the romance between Sean and Lucy is so bland, it hardly registers with me. I felt nothing when they both start to date because they're already friends so there's no 'thrill of the chase'. They move from friends to lovers without causing me the slightest bit of apprehension or anticipation. Kinda DOA as far as the romance is concerned. Since I'm already finding the first half rather tedious, I ended up being very disappointed that I couldn't even look to a delicious or fun romance to make up for the fatigue that was settling in.
The Prologue sets the book up well enough - this guy, Morton, is killed during a meet that, obviously, went wrong for him. The majority of the book is then spent on trying to find out who killed Morton and why. All they know is that Morton was the right-hand man for Adam Scott, a vicious killer who ran both a legal and illegal pornography business, specializing in online sex videos. Scott was killed during a confrontation with the Feds six years ago but it seems that with Scott dead, Morton, newly-released from prison, is planning to re-create the enterprise he ran with Scott. Naturally, the Feds want to find out more about what Morgan was up to and why he's dead.
While the Feds attempt to fill in the gaps here (presumably for their case report to close properly and look good), Lucy Kincaid's presence in the story is justified by her having a stalker. We know, from the internal monologues of the stalker's mind, that he's connected to the murders of other girls but how this is connected to the online sex video ring, is unclear until the perps' identity is revealed.
As I mentioned earlier, this isn't some momentous Big Reveal and not worth trying to figure out. Some murder mysteries are intriguing and keep me interested, wanting to solve it or guess who the killer is. Not so this book. This is a long mish-mash of historical and technical data, endless characters, a weak romantic element that would have been better if left out so I wouldn't have bothered to pick up this book and suspense purists wouldn't be bitching about it being there.
The last couple of chapters are about the only place where the action takes place. Before this, the book just simmers gently, never quite reaching boiling point.
I'm sad to say this book has made me change my mind about following the series. If the romance thread had been interesting - as I find Karen Roses's police procedurals are, except for one or two, I would not be dropping this series after one book. As it is, I'll be happier sticking to KR and dealing with just one author's penchant for drowning me in secondary characters and police procedures simply because her heroes are far sexier, more intriguing and Rose doesn't use "penis" in sex scenes. 'Penis' may be the acceptable word back in the previous century but it sounds awkward and puritanical these days if it's in a sex scene. It sounded absolutely odd when narrated in an audiobook by a high-pitched, breathy narrator, as it is in this case.
I wouldn't recommend Love Me to Death as an introduction to Brennan's books since the backdrop to the plot revolves around the abduction of young teeenage girls for sex and snuff movies, of which Lucy Kincaid was a victim, and survivor. Better that the book which covers Lucy's back story be read first - Fear No Evil, the final book in the No Evil trilogy. Without reading that book, you will be left feeling as if you're walking right into the middle of an ongoing story in Love Me to Death.
The Narrator: Ann Marie Lee has far too young a voice for a serious FBI thriller like Brennan's books. She made Lucy sound like a breathless teen at times and as for her male voices...
A different narrator, Kate Udall, is used from the 4th book onwards and she has a lower, more mature register. I might be tempted to try one for lack of anything else.(less)
REVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; AUGUST 23, 2014 Narrator: Jonathan Davis
The Story: This kept me listening through the night so it's a good thing it's Sund...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; AUGUST 23, 2014 Narrator: Jonathan Davis
The Story: This kept me listening through the night so it's a good thing it's Sunday 6.06am and I can always crawl back into bed later. A 5-star Sandra Brown despite a niggle or two. First, it did take awhile to get moving but once it did, it burst at Mach speed to the finish line. Compared to some of her older works, I'd say I prefer Mirror Image, Envy or even The Alibi, but compared to the other RS books I've read, or tried to, in recent years, Sandra Brown makes me wonder why I waste my time and money with the wannabes.
Though I agree with one of the reviewers that our hero's rationale for going into hiding could be more compelling, it was about the only weak spot in the story for me. Even Emory being trapped in the remote abode of said hero didn't give me cabin fever and I'm not a fan of these "stranded" themed stories. I wasn't just intrigued by who and what, exactly, is our unnamed hero, my interest was sustained right till past the halfway mark - and I still didn't know what his name was. I would not know till very late in the story but I was so caught up with everything by then, it hardly registered. When I, like Emory, found out, I felt it right there, deep inside me. As I said, it took awhile to pick up steam yet at no time did I even think of setting it aside, even temporarily - as I did with Deadline, (which I ended up liking it on my third attempt). This is saying a lot for someone who has no qualms giving up on a book after one chapter.
There were some very good moments involving Grange and Knight, the local cops who turn out to be not as obtuse as the impression they give at first; and Jack Connelly, the FBI special agent, was also a secondary character that added positively to the book. I was delighted with the inevitable face-off between Jack and the hero-who-shall-not-be-named-here. It was a surprise, and a nice one, Ms Brown:) I don't want to give away the events in this book as it's one of those I believe is best enjoyed read yourself and not in a long synopsis from someone's review.
For those who are interested: the romance here is very much in the foreground yet not intrusive. The mutual attraction, the sex, the falling in love - it all came across natural to me and nothing felt contrived. If you don't like sex and romance in your whodunits, this will likely not be your cuppa because it was very much, IMO, the Sandra Brown of old - the romantic suspense author who wasn't ashamed of writing romance, yet took the suspense thread seriously and so delivered the type of RS books I will continue to buy for as long as they are published.
Narration: Jonathan Davis is no Slezak but apart from not being able to distinguish between Emory and her best friend, Alice, when both were conversing, Davis did a good enough job. I thought Stephen Lang (not one of my favs) did a far better job in Deadline, though.
Btw, this is one book where spoiler tags should be used in the reviews if they are going to reveal or mention the suspense portions. I'm so glad I read this book without reading any of the reviews posted as one or two should have employed spoiler tags.
REVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; JUNE 8, 2014 Narrator: Tom Vilot
4 and 1/2 stars for the story and narration.
I've not read this author before and after my...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; JUNE 8, 2014 Narrator: Tom Vilot
4 and 1/2 stars for the story and narration.
I've not read this author before and after my last 2 weeks book slump, both MM and MF, forcing me to go back and reread oldies, I was expecting to DNF this. I ended up liking it very much and know this is going to be one of my comfort listens.
The Story: Nothing unique, no twists or turns. It's a straight-up gay romance beginning with high school kids, Tallis Carrington, head-jock and bully, and Lex, the hapless victim. Fast-forward to chapter 1 and things have changed drastically. Tallis is the one who's down and out, the victim of a father who was once the mayor of Rock Bay until greed and horny-old-goatitis brought him down; Tallis, thrown out of hearth and home by his homophobic mom, finds himself crawling back to Rock Bay with his tail between his legs. He has no idea that Lex, the owner of the cafe Tallis is applying for a job at, is the same kid he used to bully because not only does Lex not look like that kid anymore, Lex wasn't the name Tallis knew him by.
The change in Tallis may be unrealistic - he's way too nice to be true - but I didn't mind at all. I just accepted this simple, straightforward romance of the once-closeted boy coming home and falling in love with his ex-victim the way the author chose to tell it.
And I enjoyed it without the need to pick it to pieces as I tend to do with some books.
The Narrator: My first time with Tom Vilot and I'm very happy with his narration. No annoying voices, the men sounded sexy and the women were given softer, husky tones. I'll be listening to Vilot narrate Book 2 tonight so that's already put a smile on my face.(less)
REVIEW OF UNABRIDGED AUDIO; MAY 23, 2014 Narrated by Tara Ward
5 stars for the book 2 & 1/2 stars for the narrator
It looks like I accidentally delete...moreREVIEW OF UNABRIDGED AUDIO; MAY 23, 2014 Narrated by Tara Ward
5 stars for the book 2 & 1/2 stars for the narrator
It looks like I accidentally deleted all my reviews for this book but I'm not going to bother rewriting one. I'll just say that this is still, so far, my favorite KR book. I love it because while the plot is simple and easy to follow, it isn't simplistic nor amateurish, not that any KR book is! The newer KR books have so much extraneous details that I tend to get lost. Here, KR isn't in her prologue kink where major stuff happened a decade ago and making the plot revolve around that indirectly and in the most convoluted manner. By contrast, YCH is straightforward and unpretentious and that's why I love it so much.
Now, the audio: I managed to buy the unabridged version narrated by Tara Ward via my son's Audible Australia account as this version is not available in the US.
I'd listened to the abridged version narrated by Anna Fields and she wins hands-down.
Ms Ward's voice is too nasal for my liking and, at times, she makes everyone sound angry or agitated. But if Ms Ward's narration is okay for you, then there's no reason not to buy this unabridged version because six hours of the book was cut out in the Anna Fields abridged one and that, to me, is sacrilegious.
I've read this book several times and after several KR books, it remain my favorite because I adore A...moreREVIEW OF PRINT VERSION
(lost my original review)
I've read this book several times and after several KR books, it remain my favorite because I adore Aidan Reagan and his interaction with Tess. I love the controlled balance KR wielded in this book, where there is romantic tension yet the focus remains squarely on the murder mystery.
I've not found many RS books or authors that have been able to do this consistently. Even Karen Rose herself disappointed me after this because she pushed the romance too, too far into the background and replaced it with a dizzying and tiresome amount of detail just to create a superficial complexity to the plot. A pity, but I still buy her books because I can be sure I won't have the sex and romance overtaking the plot.
This is one of those books where I could sympathize and relate to the heroine and where I was happy she got herself a man like Aidan.(less)
I first read ROI five years ago when the author generously shared it with me. I loved it then, and couldn't understand why it wasn't published. As he...moreI first read ROI five years ago when the author generously shared it with me. I loved it then, and couldn't understand why it wasn't published. As he wrote in the author's notes, one gay literature publisher turned it down because of the drug use and unprotected sex - things I see in the published books these days. I recall one also telling him he couldn't start a story with one of the MCs (view spoiler)[offing himself (hide spoiler)].
I admit that Prologue did give me pause, then I reminded myself that I had a similar reaction to the rape scene in Special Forces and how there was, nonetheless, an HEA in the end. So I girded my loins and tackled this financial thriller despite Voinov's assertion that "it is not a romance" reverberating in my head. And guess what? This is how you write a Prologue!
'Not a romance'? I begged to differ five years ago when I finished the book and reading it a second time now has only strengthened my opinion that it is a romance. Perhaps not to the publishers who expect a romance to follow a certain formula but to me, Francis de Bracy has burrowed so deeply in me that five years on, I have not encountered another MC in the gay romances I devour who is comparable. He is powerful. Strong. Invincible, it seems. Yet he surrenders, in the end, to that part of him that torments both character and reader. Francis made my gut hurt 5 years ago and two evenings back, when I started on my reread, that same trepidation seized me. I can't adequately describe or explain the what and the why of my emotional reaction to this story. I only know that it was so special to me back then, that I never forgot it and refused to read it again because it hurt that the author thought it faulty and would not try to find another publisher. I cannot recall his exact words to me but know that it was because he thought it needed some major reworking.
When, recently, I read he was self-publishing it, I thought he'd made those major changes. I thought he'd removed that controversial scene in the prologue and added more sex or romance to please us romance-lovers. He did not. Nothing has changed. And thank God. It was good 5 years ago and it's very good today.
Read it to meet Francis de Bracy, master of the implied from start to finish; for a tortured hero like no other (a result of his Jesuit education?), and hero he is to me, because while he may be a Great White in a sea of sharks, all ready to smell blood and move in for the kill, de Bracy is a man you would, in the end, entrust your entire being to.
Martin David discovers that eventually, but in true de Bracy style, that promise of forever is given with a light touch. If you can read between the lines, there is, indeed, a fine romance to be found.
Some readers may find the financial jargon a tad too much and yes, I thought that could have been cut back a little but I didn't really mind because it showed the author wasn't just giving lip service to his description of the book being a 'financial thriller'. Since the plot revolves around the wheeling and dealing of those financial cowboys & Indians, the author's firsthand knowledge of the industry brings a sense of authenticity and just the right atmosphere.
Much as I am dazzled by de Bracy, I found Martin David a great character, too. Young, ambitious and making the mistake of falling in love with The Great White yet also succumbing to the wiles of the charming and ruthless Alec Berger, I did wonder what de Bracy would say if asked what he saw in Martin. I got to find out because Martin asks him that very question. de Bracy's answer is so beautiful, it sounded 'like a prayer'.
Apart from the financial info stuffed here and there, the rest of the book contains some of the best writing I've come across. The thrill for me was not in the suspense/action threads, though there is that when Berger makes his move against de Bracy's company, and the final scenes as de Bracy plans his comeback. What sparkled for me was how Mr Voinov was able to keep me so transfixed despite the subtlety of his prose, how pregnant with meaning in just a few words - "You can." God, I almost died when I read those two words.
When I finished, twothree things were on my mind: 1) I want this book in print; 2) I want it made into a movie; 3) I'm glad de Bracy is holding Martin as the story ends, and told Martin he could bring his toothbrush.
Your book is a frickin' romance, Mr Voinov, whether you want to admit or not.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I loved it and always will:) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
REVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; MAY 24, 2014 Narrator: Christa G Lewis
The Narrator: Ms Lewis has a pleasant, natural voice for the narration and for Cassi...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & EBOOK; MAY 24, 2014 Narrator: Christa G Lewis
The Narrator: Ms Lewis has a pleasant, natural voice for the narration and for Cassie, the heroine. Unfortunately, everyone else sounds just about the same. When Cassie and her best friend, Natalie, are speaking, I could not tell the difference and at several points had to pause the audio, wind back and re-listen because of the lack of dialogue tags to help. When listening to an audio, I'd rather there be minimal dialog tags but only if there's a skilled narrator who is able to change her voice for each character. Ms Lewis doesn't do that here.
The Story: This was a disappointment. There was nothing suspenseful nor was there even a strong suspense plot. Just throwing in some Mexican villains, human-trafficking, an undercover agent, doesn't a thrilling romantic suspense make. Everyone else has already covered the synopsis and really, that's about it.
The story had lots of potential but it just wasn't given a realistic enough feel. It felt like someone just wanted to try and write a romance, then decided to tag on some hackneyed characters and tropes. I felt the plot, what there was of that, was weakened by the romance which, in this case, detracted from the story. I like my romantic suspense/thrillers, especially those involving undercover agents in the midst of a highly-dangerous sting, to feel hard-edged and gritty. It's got to be raw, have me on the edge of my seat, fear the bad guys...not feel like I'm just waiting for Cassie to get back from somewhere so I could give her a Gibbs headslap.
IE, unfortunately, is so lightweight it falls into one of those Harlequin category romances where the emphasis is on the romance. I don't like this. It annoys me because I'm in my suspense mode when I pick up one of these books and I expect the thriller/suspense aspect to be stronger. This means I don't like too much romantic shenanigans taking up space.
Cassie was a bit of a dolt. She may be a very good doctor but the reviewers labeling her TSTL are understating things.
There was also one little detail at the start that pulled me out of the story: Cassie stops at the scene of the accident to help the victims. She comes across a wonman - weak pulse, her skull is broken and the bone "gave beneath Cassie’s easy pressure. The softness and warmth of brain tissue surrounded her fingers. Cassie’s stomach plummeted. Twisted and revolted." I'm not doctor and I could very well be wrong but you'd think someone with a crushed skull where you could feel her brain matter, wouldn't be alive. Especially with Cassie pressing around! LOL! Oh well...
Rio's portrayal is also inconsistent with an agent who's been deep undercover for ten years! Ten! He ought to be more Mexican than tequila yet he is written no different from any other other American. He's also too nice, too good, to be true to his undercover alter-ego. If the male lead were not a ten-year-long undercover agent, I could accept the way he interacted with the herione. It is this unrealistic portrayal of Rio that, in the end, made this book a fail for me.(less)