2ND REREAD; APRIL 2014: NO CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS REVIEW
1ST REREAD REVIEW - 14 FEBRUARY 2011 This is still a 4-star read the second time around. It would...more2ND REREAD; APRIL 2014: NO CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS REVIEW
1ST REREAD REVIEW - 14 FEBRUARY 2011 This is still a 4-star read the second time around. It would have been five if not for the reasons Jenre mentioned in her excellent review. I was more aware of the power struggle between Aubrey and Seht this time and was delighted to find I was fully invested in it and wondered how these two uber-alphas would resolve the dilemma.
While I liked the resolution (I had totally forgotten that was how this book ended!), unless you're aware Lost Star is the prequel to Victorious Star, you will find the ending very abrupt. So I recommend that you have Victorious Star ready before you get to the end of LS. A friend was telling me she wants to read LS because it's MM but will pass on VS as it's MMF. While I understand perfectly her distaste for girl cooties spoiling the broth, it is a pity in this case because Seht's and Captain Ravnos' relationship in Victorious Star is a thing to behold, indeed. I myself refuse to read MM romances that have girl cooties - the Interstellar Service & Discipline books are the one and only exception.
I agree with Jenre that Seht isn't as developed as Aubrey here and that's a pity as I would have liked to know him better. We get to follow Aubrey closely but know nothing about how Seht grew up and what made him gravitate towards Aubrey and get attached to him so quickly. At least in those werewolf books I occasionally read, they have a mate out there they can sense. In this case, there's not enough about Skeldhi culture and nothing of Seht's past (or even his present) to help me understand his character.
Despite this, LS is a great intro to the IS&D series. I'll move on to Victorious Star now and hope that I won't wish Victoria were a Victor instead!
1ST REVIEW - 9 APRIL 2009: Lost Star felt short even though it's novel length but it did complete Victorious Star in that we now know what the history is between Aubrey Ravnos and Seht, the skeldhi prince.
It tells the story of how Seht met the young Aubrey when the latter was a young guy, I think six months shy of 21 and on the run from the Moribund Company. Aubrey was caught by the Imperial Agency for his hacking into ships and taking them for joyrides. The ship he's serving on in lieu of imprisonment commits suicide after its crew is killed. Yeah, this is Morgan Hawke book so ships are "alive". They rape and kill.
Aubrey finds himself taken by Moribund and his Company (M & Co appear in all the Star books) and manages to escape but the torture during his capture by Moribund has left Aubrey at the point of death. He manages to escape, though I'm not sure how long he was imprisoned by Moribund. Aubrey's age, at this point, is also uncertain coz he's referred to as "kid" several times.
Moribund's ship comes under attack by the Skeldhis and in the ensuing fracas, Aubrey escapes. Moribund's guys are out looking for Aubrey, of course, since he's an extremely valuable commodity due to his programs. Seht arrives on the scene just in time to save Aubrey from recapture but has to turn him into a rehkyt (a skeldhi's hybrid sex slave) in order to save him.
Seht finds himself deeply attached to the human Aubrey and is heart-broken when he is told Aubrey needs to be returned to the Imperial Agency. They are separated but reunited after a period of time when Seht refuses to give up searching for Aubrey. Only now, Aubrey is an adult and commander of his own ship. He prefers to be called Ravnos and is even more determined not to be Seht's slave since his priority is to destroy the Moribund Company, not become a skeldhi's pet.
Seht couldn't ever give Aubrey up and has been looking for him. It's obvious Aubrey is much more than just a pet to Seht but why, we do not know. Towards the end of the book the two ubver-alphas meet up again, for the final face-off. The fight ends with Seht agreeing to the only thing that will keep him with Aubrey for the rest of his life.
I have never heard of this author and can't find anything else by her but if I could give this book 7 stars, I would. It was hot, it was emotional, it...moreI have never heard of this author and can't find anything else by her but if I could give this book 7 stars, I would. It was hot, it was emotional, it was funny. I laughed and cried as I journeyed with this bunch through five-plus years of their lives in the US Army.
I loved every man in this book even though at the start, I wasn't quite sure I would even like Ryan. But Drill Sergeant Grabowski - loved him the moment he appeared even if he was a little scary and that first sex scene between him and Ryan...I wasn't sure about that except that Ryan did want it, too. Because of their respective positions, it was a little too close to sexual harrassment/rape except for the fact that Grabowski had been featuring in Ryan's dreams as much as being a nightmare in waking life.
But Grabowski turns out to be as sexy as Ryan thinks he is, he's soft inside and as the story moves along, you find that Grabowski himself wasn't proud of that sexual episode himself. Their romance develops slowly but surely even though they don't verbalize their feelings. When they finally do, it was oh-so-satisfying.
There's no mystery, murder or intrigue in this MM romance. The suspense is in the relationships between these men, their early days in the Army and the relationships forged during those scary days and which last for years after that.
There's that last exchange of emails between the men that cracked me up as no book has for a long, long time. The men are trained up, sent out, return and are shipped back out again. I held my breath when one of the men back home hears knocking early in the morning and doesn't want to open the door, knowing such visits always brings bad news.
Since the author is new to me and I've never bought anything from this publisher before, I was rather apprehensive about the ending. Would someone not make it back from Iraq? No, please don't make it Ryan or Grabowski.
You'll have to read this book for yourself to find out the ending but you know me...if there wasn't at least a strong HFN after everything, I'd be cussing and swearing, right?
Instead, I'm wanting to give it 7 stars.
REVIEW OF REREAD ON 30 OCT 2010 I gave this book the maximum of 5 stars when I first read it last year. On my second reading, I enjoyed almost as much and give it 4.9 stars. I still enjoyed IBYDR more than most of the books I read this year but compared to the first time, I felt Ryan's and Philip's relationship could have been given more page space rather than all the day-to-day journaling of their basic training. That said, if there were no size constraints for the author, I would have been happier, this second time around, with a slightly longer book if I could have gotten more time with Grabowski and Ryan away from the army. I wanted to be with them when they weren't "working". R&R with Grabowski would have been hilarious, I think.
Overall rereading pleasure: not as much as my reread of Mexican Heat by Baumbach and Lanyon.(less)
I think I know why I didn't bother posting a review the first time I read this. I'm surprised how little I ended up liking...moreREVIEW OF 17 MAY 2011 READ:
I think I know why I didn't bother posting a review the first time I read this. I'm surprised how little I ended up liking this after enjoying Cheating Chance so much more the second time around. I was expecting to absolutely love this.
I didn't. I found it a chore to read, having to put up with Brandon's whining and asking why Nick's hanging around. If there was anyone he should have only as a fling, it ought to be Brandon. At the same time, I could understand Brandon's fear. I just got tired living with it from page to page.
Then there was the sex. It was same old, same old and I was doing more page-flipping than reading. I thought we'd be getting somewhere when Nick finally upped and left but that fizzled out and they were back to square one and just more sex. By then, even the action scene towards the end didn't affect me much. I was just glad to be done with the book. I did immediately start on All Or Nothing and lasted maybe one chapter. Maybe more. I quit when Princess Shawna got too much for me. Nicky needs to get his head screwed on right and go back home, find himself another man, one who doesn't jump at his own gay shadow.(less)
I don't like 'Big Mis' romances and secret babies and this book was just too difficult for me to get through. I couldn't wait, literally, for Daisy to...moreI don't like 'Big Mis' romances and secret babies and this book was just too difficult for me to get through. I couldn't wait, literally, for Daisy to tell Jack why she left 15 years ago, why she took off with his best friend, of all people, why neither of them told Jack a thing all through the fifteen years, yadda yadda...(less)
A little slow-moving after a promising start. Clare's and Sebastian's romance takes awhile to develop, perhaps too long for someone like me who's been...moreA little slow-moving after a promising start. Clare's and Sebastian's romance takes awhile to develop, perhaps too long for someone like me who's been reading a lot of erotic novellas lately! Still, it was a refreshing change to have a couple who takes the time to know each other, to deal with their issues before letting their genitals take the lead.
Lucy, one of Clare's author-friends, is the heroine of Sex, Lies and Online Dating. It's been some years since I read that but it was my first Rachel Gibson. Lucy and Quinn's book is better.(less)
I still prefer Truly, Madly Yours, though TC is a close second when it comes to Gibson's books. While I enjoyed her more recent ones likes Tangled Up...moreI still prefer Truly, Madly Yours, though TC is a close second when it comes to Gibson's books. While I enjoyed her more recent ones likes Tangled Up in You, it lacked the emotion that those Gospel books had.(less)
REVIEW OF REREAD NOV 2012: Six years after I first read this, my star rating is still a 3-star meh. In fact, I couldn't even be bothered to get halfway...moreREVIEW OF REREAD NOV 2012: Six years after I first read this, my star rating is still a 3-star meh. In fact, I couldn't even be bothered to get halfway because this time round, it did sound like chick lit. This time I couldn't find anything to enjoy because there was nothing to attract me to either MC - the heroine was bland and so was the hero and six years after the book was released, the online dating plot device is so old that the only thing that could have saved the story was if the MCs were interesting.
RG has been a hit or miss with me since this book. More miss than hit, unfortunately so there won't be anymore attempts to reread any of the other titles.
1ST READING REVIEW FEB 2006: I thought Gibson wrote chick lit so I stayed away until the synopsis for this book caught my attention. It had a hint of mystery in it so I decided to live dangerously and bought it.
Not chick lit at all though it's hard for me to actually define what that is. It's one of those things that I know when I see it, know what I mean? Anyway, SL&OD turned out to be an enjoyable contemporary romance with a tiny bit of mystery to spice things up. (less)
This book opened the way for me in my own journey. Took me a couple of years but, utilizing Greek mythology, I was able to devise a therapy for myself...moreThis book opened the way for me in my own journey. Took me a couple of years but, utilizing Greek mythology, I was able to devise a therapy for myself and with my therapist, the road to wholeness was an exciting, even delightful, one despite the inevitable emotional potholes along the way.(less)
REVIEW OF AUDIOBOOK & REREAD; JANUARY 2014 Narrator: Jennifer van Dyke
This did not work for me at all:(
The Narrator: van Dyke's voice for Chloe an...moreREVIEW OF AUDIOBOOK & REREAD; JANUARY 2014 Narrator: Jennifer van Dyke
This did not work for me at all:(
The Narrator: van Dyke's voice for Chloe and the narrative portions was alright but - and it's a huge 'but'...I was pulled out of the story because it struck me I was getting agitated and breathless listening to the audiobook. I knew it was connected to the book but the story wasn't suspenseful or that exciting so I listened carefully and realized it was the narrator. Her breathing could be heard at intervals, audible enough so that her narrating comes off as if she's been jogging. It's not that loud, unlike the awful wheezing of Roy Wells who did the Victor Banis book, but it's throughout the book and made for very uncomfortable listening.
That, however, is nowhere as dreadful as the voice van Dyke gave Bastien. He sounded truly ghastly - all nasal and cartoonish with a French-accented English that made him sound more like Pepe Le Pew on a bad day. If there were a contest for worse audio characters, van Dyke's Bastien would win hands-down, IMO.
The Book: After five chapters, I remembered one of the reasons why this book didn't work the first time I read it - the dialogue was like something out of a British Mills & Boon romance, complete with virginalvirgin-like heroine and arrogant full-of-myself hero. I actually don't mind those type of characters so what made this book horrible for me was that it all came across very dated, the dialogue being the main culprit. Read the way it was, every word Bastien uttered made me cringe because he sounded not only theatrical and eye-rolling lame, van Dyke seemed to do her best to make him sleazy. One reviewer said the narrator made Bastien sound like a bad Dracula! LOL!
So it was a double-barreled thumbs-down for me: terribly dated dialogue and ghastly narrator. I'm going to have to return this. The rest of the book are narrated by a different people. Haven't decided if I want to try another AS, though.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- REVIEW OF BOOK; JULY 2005 I have never read this author before and I'm still trying to figure out how Black Ice got such rave reviews. Some unrealistic scenarios are to be expected in this genre but Black Ice is so implausible that it prevented me from enjoying any part of it.
Stuart makes Chloe Underwood sound more like a heroine from an early Mills & Boons novels. Think virgin schoolmarm on her first trip abroad and totally clueless about everything. Everything about her is inconsistent and I couldn't help but wonder if Ms Stuart bothered with Chloe's character at all.
Chloe is from a rich, over-achieving family and is multi-lingual. Yet Ms Stuart's portrayal makes her naive and stupid. Nothing wrong with the heroine not wanting to follow the footsteps of her family and become a doctor; nothing wrong with her choosing to work in a publishing company. But I found everything wrong with the author making her heroine bored silly with her career and not doing anything but mope about it.
As for Bastien, his only redeeming quality was in knocking Chloe out to keep the twit from making too much noise and alerting the villains. The romance never develops. Bastien is too busy trying to figure out if Chole is out to kill him and when he realises she is too stupid to be an assassin he is too busy trying to get her back home to the U.S.
As for the oh-so-dangerous villains, why would this group of powerful, dangerous and wealthy arms dealers hire an outsider to translate their discussions for them? Isn't it more plausible that they would have their own resident translator, someone who's part of the group or works for them? Instead they bring in a stranger then worry about whether she's a spy or an assassin!
There is absolutely no chemistry between Bastien and Chloe whatsoever. But how could there be when Chloe spends most of the time in a state of shock? If there's supposed to be sexual chemistry, I didn't see it much less feel it.
I've read books given glowing reviews and agreed with them mostly but this was one of the few I'm scratching my head over. Which is a pity because it had all the right ingredients for an erotic suspense - dangerous situation, dangerous group, dark hero, multilingual heroine with full breasts, romantic setting. But it turned out like one of my pathetic attempts at baking - all the right ingredients but the result is something even my dog wouldn't eat.(less)
I had given this trilogy 4 stars but that was based on my hazy memory of the books when I read them more than a decade ago.
I finished my reread last n...moreI had given this trilogy 4 stars but that was based on my hazy memory of the books when I read them more than a decade ago.
I finished my reread last night and am giving it 3 stars. Not because it's an okay read but because I finished it. Maybe if this were an MM romance, I might have given it 4 stars, 3 1/2 at least. But I'm much more demanding of my MF romances.
I don't have any issues with Lucky. He is what he is - a womaniser, nice-guy, suffers from 'white-knight syndrome', as the heroine snidely puts it. I do have issues with Devon, however. Man, does that woman know how to carry on. I already hate stories with virgins who do that morning-after blues and groaned when I realized this was one of them. Sure, Devon had a very good reason for her post-coitus attitude - she's married - but it still made for very annoying reading. She remained unlikeable right to the very end of this very weak offering from Sandra Brown who, back in those days, was an autobuy.
I was planning to read the trilogy but this first book has changed my mind because, apart from having to encounter Devon in the next two books, 1) I don't like the idea of Marcie taking Tanya's place so soon after her I just read about her death; 2) Sage is irritating in the worst pain-in-the-ass way.
If I hadn't had the chance to meet Chase's wife, Tanya, and known how much in love she and Chase were with each other, I could have read it. As it is, even though Chase and Marcie's story takes place two years after Tanya's death, it's been only a few minutes for me. I assume when I first read Chase's book, it was a year after Lucky was published - enough time for this reader to let Tanya go but now, 20 years later on this intended back-to-back read, Not Possible.
As for Sage, she made me run back to MM so I'm now enjoying Mia Watt's Handcuffs & Lace series which I've been meaning to read for ages.(less)
REVIEW OF AUDIO & KINDLE: MARCH 28, 2014 Narrator: Tom Stechschulte
Probably my favorite Nora Roberts, for now. NR, like Linda Howard, is a hit-or-m...moreREVIEW OF AUDIO & KINDLE: MARCH 28, 2014 Narrator: Tom Stechschulte
Probably my favorite Nora Roberts, for now. NR, like Linda Howard, is a hit-or-miss with me, unlike Sandra Brown, whose books I usually do well with.
The Narrator: Stechschulte, or Tom (easier to spell!) is every bit the seasoned and excellent narrator he is. I'd heard him once on a Christine Feehan Ghostwalkers series which he also narrates but Carnal Innocence shows off his skills a lot more. Tom's Tucker Longstreet brings across the man's Southern charm very effectively and while the rest of the male cast are also southern-accented, I had no difficulty differentiating him from Dwayne, his brother, or Burke, the sheriff.
Tom's female voices were especially good - sounding like husky, warm-voiced women, lending a sexiness that I might not even, otherwise, feel about the heroine. I enjoyed Tom's performance here so much that I just might start listening to the rest of the Ghostwalkers even though I'm not a super-soldier-paranormal fan.
The Story: I did not realize I'd read this book (would have been in the early 90s when NR was an auto-buy) until I reached the part where Billy T and friends were about to lynch Toby March, and then I remembered who the murderer was. It still didn't diminish my enjoyment and when I finished, I was wondering if there are anymore old, classic Roberts like this one. I've read quite a few but I don't recall liking any as much as CI. And I'm talking about her books written in the early to mid 90s. She was still an auto-buy, despite being in my 'B' list, because there were only a handful of contemporary romantic suspense writers at the time - Howard, Krentz, Brown, and Lowell, who dropped off my radar a long time ago, as did Krentz.
Tucker is easily the star of this book and while I never did warm up to Caroline, I thought she gave Tucker back as good as he dished out. I like them enough as a couple to wish there was a second book where I could revisit them and see how they're doing a few years down the line. I can so easily picture Tucker's enjoyment of the various places he'd visit as he accompanies Caroline on her world tour. I know Tucker would make a hilarious tourist whose audio blog (if there was such a thing) I would follow!
Overall, I found this NR a very satisfying balance of romance and murder mystery suspense, even if I am currently surfeit with serial killers.(less)