Lauray "Law" Batisse is a mess. His last tour in Afghanistan resulted in him missing a leg and developing one hell of a case of PTSD. Such a case thatLauray "Law" Batisse is a mess. His last tour in Afghanistan resulted in him missing a leg and developing one hell of a case of PTSD. Such a case that he needs a service dog that's an utter embarrassment for a tough guy like him. The only thing that makes walking around with a girly dog he's saddled with, is the dog's trainer, easy on the eyes, sexy as all hell, Jori Garrison. Pity the girl keeps him at arms length...As if she knew his motto about loving them and leaving them.
That's not Jori's problem. Having fallen for the wrong guy before resulted in her being an ex-con, and although she knows Law isn't such bad news, he's bad news for her nevertheless. The man is irresistible, and he knows it. He's also unreachable and unattainable, and she knows it. Buy maybe, just maybe, she could have him on his terms...If only her damn heart would listen to reason.
Having read some of the reviews for this story, I was rather apprehensive given Law's behavior and attitude toward relationships with the fairer sex. Imagine my surprise, when I didn't see the asshole everybody was describing. He was a player (or he used to be, before he met Jori), but he wasn't the bastard I feared he would be. He had his moment of jackassery, but he never pretended to be a saint or someone he wasn't and he did warn Jori of what to expect from the start. Whatever happened next was a mutual decision between two adults in (more or less) their right minds and in possession of all their faculties...Although I did like the fact Law was the one a little more out of his depth in their relationships. I also didn't detect a specific doormat behavior on Jori's part. She was a woman who knew what she wanted, wasn't afraid of going after it, and once she saw a goal, she went after it no matter the obstacles. She stuck it out, and she made her man see reason (no matter how long it took). I loved the two of them together, I loved their relationship and how it progressed from one-day-stand to something more serious. And even though, as is customary with this series, that "more serious" never got established as love and HEA, it didn't bother me as it did in its predecessor. It went perfectly with who and what we read Jori and Law were as characters.
The suspense was a bit on the mellower side, with the relationships between Jori and Law and Law and Sam (which to me was the main relationship in the book) taking top spot, without much intrigue and mystery, since it was pretty much all in the open. The suspense-light plot bothered me a little, as did the occasional misstep in the pacing department; sometimes the story lost its flow and momentum, resulting in a few slightly dull moments.
Despite these last two hiccups, this was yet another well-written story with a good plot and even better characters (of the human and canine variety—Sam was so utterly adorable and had such a big heart and miles of courage she's definitely my favorite characters in the story) and relationships between them....more
Two years ago their short marriage imploded due to his undercover work, now they have to work undercover together to catch a drug smuggling ring. TurnTwo years ago their short marriage imploded due to his undercover work, now they have to work undercover together to catch a drug smuggling ring. Turns out, playing pretend boyfriend and girlfriend, skirting around their issues, and trying to keep their hands off each other is the easy task. The tough one is trying to keep one step ahead of a killer intent on destroying him by targeting everything he holds dear...
Now we're talking. I was thinking of dropping the series thanks to the first two not-so-good installments, but turns out perseverance pays off. Big time.
This book was everything the previous two weren't. And it had everything the previous two didn't. The main characters were sympathetic, realistic, and relatable (if we discount their expertise in their field of work). Yes, they had some major issues, both by themselves and with each other, but those were nothing we don't see in every day life...Their quickie marriage based on mutual lust and attraction imploded at the first hurdle, now, two years later they've both changed (hopefully for the best) and matured, they have different priorities, different goals in mind, and they've actually realized that lust and attraction (although still there) isn't enough, that an emotion of some kind has to be involved to make anything work. And that one particular emotion was involved before, but they were both too proud and stupid to heed it. Second-chance romances, when done well, provide great reads. I liked both Scott and Cole, yes, they also annoyed me sometimes due to their issues and continuous misunderstandings and miscommunications; not telling each other important information on their encounters with the bad guy made them come off as a little thick and inexperienced despite their apparent long-period work in law enforcement. But I liked both of them, because they worked. Alone and with each other. They started off as complete opposites, but somehow, throughout the story, found the middle ground, the compromise it was needed to really make their relationship work. And although the back-and-forth they were doing in their minds got a little old and stale toward the end, the characterization was good, and the progress from enemies to friends and lovers was organic, well-paced, and believable. And I liked the analogy between Cole and Hugo, the way the pooch mellowed toward Scott as gradually as did his handler.
The suspense wasn't bad either. Although the main plot revolved around Scott and Cole's undercover work to bust up a drug-smuggling ring, the "main" suspense sub-plot was all about the past coming back to bite Scott in the ass in the form of a villain intent on destroying him by destroying everything and everyone Scott loved. The descriptions of how an undercover operator might get sucked into the "fiction", how physically and psychically draining undercover work is, how not everybody makes it out alive or whole were vivid, gripping, and intense, and the juggling the man had to do to keep the current assignment floating while he tried to cover all his bases from an imminent attack from the ghost of the past, trying to keep one step ahead (and failing) was well-paced and intriguing. Yes, it was an additional side-story, but it was so ingrained into the main storyline, a vital part of it, actually, since it provided more than one breakthrough in the relationship between Scott and Cole, that it didn't slow the story down, but kept adding to its momentum, keeping the pace steadily increasing toward the big finish.
Well-written, well-paced, with great characters, an intriguing plot, and good suspense. A page-turner....more
James Cannon's been searching for his lost dog for the past month. Fancy finding the pooch cozied up with a sexy woman in the middle of nowhere. A womJames Cannon's been searching for his lost dog for the past month. Fancy finding the pooch cozied up with a sexy woman in the middle of nowhere. A woman who desperately needs a guard dog, even though she won't admit as to why...
Really? Really?! This might get spoiler-y, but I don't care. I'm spitting mad. Because this could've been a good story...Until it wasn't.
Again, there was this disconnect between me, the story and the characters, and I have a feeling it's because the narrative style isn't my cuppa. Something is simply off. I cannot empathize or sympathize with the characters, I cannot connect to them, it's like there's a barrier preventing me from immersing into the story.
And again, there was also no connection between the characters themselves, except for the physical, that is. But, as in its predecessor, there was no emotional connection, just two strangers scratching an itch. Why was Shay drawn to him, and James to her? I didn't understand it, I didn't see it. There was attraction, yes, he was hot and she sexy (apparently), but physical attraction only takes you to a certain point. You have to have something in common to make it work; everything these two had in common was their love for Bogart, the dog. Call me weird, but I don't think that's enough.
The second problem was the heroine. She wasn't smart, quirky, funny, resilient...She simply was annoying. I didn't hate her, I didn't like her, she was just annoying. And that's the worst part, when you don't feel anything about a character beside the mild annoyance as if an insect is buzzing around your ears. That's what Shay was for me. An annoying bug. She was all over the place, had no idea what she wanted, fixated on the "huge" issue from her past that turned out to be just a ploy to create conflict...Bla bla bla.
And the third problem was the overblown story. We already had an obsessive, stalker-ish ex. That could've worked well. But no, we had to have a dog-napping ex of the hero, who had the MCs followed by a shady character that turned into a crazy, cat-under-the-car-throwing, would-be rapist of a stalker whose motive was never revealed, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention at that point toward the end of the book.
Did we really need all that? Because it didn't make the story better or more interesting, just the opposite. It took a mediocre story with bland characters even deeper into the dark hole....more