What if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed Brubake...moreWhat if a powerful supervillain ended up in witness protection, working a regular office job like the average Joe?
That is the scenario that Ed Brubaker presents his readers in the series "Incognito."
Zack Overkill was 'a very villainous fellow,' it was all he knew. And then his world changed. His brother was killed and he woke up in a secret government hospital and he was given drugs to deactivate his supernatural abilities and he was under the oversight of SOS, who had once been his greatest adversaries.
Zack hates his new life. He feels empty and useless, until he begins going out at night as a masked avenger, saving people, not out of altruism, but because it staves off his sense of boredom. But his past is catching up with him.
This is noir meets comic book superheroes and villains, and it's very well done. The tone is unapologetically 'adult', with plenty of foul language, violence, and some sexual content. However, there is something quite fascinating about this book. Maybe it's the whole concept. Or maybe it's the fact that Zack's situation is compelling. Readers can feel his pain, especially if your workday has ever felt like the movie "Office Space." And imagine going from being a supervillain to a working stiff who has the strength of the average sedentary young male. Brubaker allows the readers to walk in the shoes of a supervillain and watch his view of the world change. Zack comes to realize that why kill, steal and rampage for no reason, when once's powers can be strategically employed for something of more value? Can there be a better worldview than nihilism? Can people you once viewed as your enemies become your allies for a greater purpose?
There are some disturbing scenes in this book, but then we are dealing with plenty of amoral villains and psychopaths, and even some of the office joes and janes are not exactly admirable in their choices. I didn't care for that, but I did like that Zack's view on things is evolving, and he realizes he doesn't have to be enslaved to his past identity or even who others see him as.
Another hilarious installment in this series. I love spending time with IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, who can't seem to stay out of trouble in the...moreAnother hilarious installment in this series. I love spending time with IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, who can't seem to stay out of trouble in the line of duty.
I want to thank Shawna for recommending this book to me. In all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Nora Roberts' romance novels, although I do like her J...moreI want to thank Shawna for recommending this book to me. In all honesty, I am not a huge fan of Nora Roberts' romance novels, although I do like her JD Robb In Death series. While this book didn't change my opinion of her on convert her to a must-read author for me, I enjoyed this book, and I can see she is a very good writer. Having said that, I don't find her romance style very moving personally. As far as suspense, she definitely works better for me.
This novel feels like an odyssey. It starts with a very young, innocent teenage girl whose rigidly structured, emotionally vacant life is completely destroyed by one bad decision she makes out of rebellion. Nora Roberts invests us in the emotional and intellectual journey of this young woman, and I completely felt for and loved young Elizabeth. This was highly crucial to go back to when things went pear-shaped so that we could relate to the older version of this character, who is now living as Abigail Lowery.
What didn't work quite as well as the diversion that the storyline takes with the Blake family and their out-of-control son. While this was more germane to Brooks Gleason's (Abigail's love interest) narrative, I don't think it really tied very well into the main plot of Abigail, what and who she was running from, and I'm not sure it was that important to Brooks' characterization. Even at the end, I wasn't convinced that it was necessary to the story. More than anything, it was just added local color.
The romance part mostly worked for me, but it didn't set the page on fire. Roberts idea of romance just isn't dramatic enough for me. Even the sensual scenes didn't have much spark for me. I could see the love between Abigail and Brooks, and I really liked how Brooks was willing to be there for her and to be whatever she needed him to be. Although at the same time, Brooks could be quite obstinate and set in his ways kind of guy and forceful (in an aww-shucks, disarming but I'm a brickwall manner) about getting his way in situations. He was like a immovable mountain about some things, and Abigail had to be the one who changed her viewpoint in those areas. It was funny and kind of cute how he pushed Abigail out of her unemotional/controlled, Fortress of Solitude mien and left her completely discombobulated. I can see their marriage being very interesting, considering the way their personalities are so different. Where Abigail is the analytical, rule-oriented person, Brooks is very instinctive, and emotional. At the same time, he's a very steady guy who you know you can trust. That's highly appealing. I do feel like they were able to meet each other halfway and didn't steamroll each other, which was good. So I could believe they were a perfect match.
Ultimately, what I loved most of all is how Brooks was perfectly fine with earning his way in Abigail's insular life by letting his actions show he was trustworthy and that deserved her love. He also didn't try to take away Abigail's need to make decisions and autonomy in her life, because he knew how important that was. Sometimes, I imagine it was hard for him not to take it personally, but he looked past his own feelings to the whys and was willing to give her that and support her on things she really needed.
As for Abigail, I think loving Brooks helped her to grow in crucial ways. For her to know it was okay not to understand the rules for everything, and to just go with the flow emotionally in relationships that were based on mutual trust. I think the O'Hara/Gleason clan will be good for Abigail, but I think I would find them overwhelming at times. They are quite pushy! I can't imagine Abigail not feeling that way based on her previous familial frame of reference.
The Volkov storyline was very intriguing, but I was left feeling a little disappointed at the conclusion. The resolution made sense, but I was hoping for a more face to face confrontation. I guess that's the action/drama hound in me. I guess that was the best way to handle it, but man I would have loved some buttkicking and a show off. Abigail was kind of a bad@$$, but she never got to show it. Oh well.
Overall, this was a good read.
Things I loved:
*Such a brilliant, analytical, heroine *Brooks' laid back, but Bulldoggedly stubborn personality and his southern charm. *The descriptions and imagery built by Roberts writing. *Russian mafia storyline and how Abigail continually gets one over on them *Crazy O'Hara/Gleason family dynamics--like watching reality tv *Abigail's dog Bert *Small town slice of life
This was a most enjoyable spy romance. Lighthearted but also convincing in the spy dynamics (bringing to mind a bit of the James Bond meets Scarecrow...moreThis was a most enjoyable spy romance. Lighthearted but also convincing in the spy dynamics (bringing to mind a bit of the James Bond meets Scarecrow and Mrs. King vibe). Even the villain brings to mind the iconic super-villains of the Bond world. I liked Paige's realization of what she was capable of, and that David truly did love her. I also liked that he realized that he had underestimated Paige in his desire to keep her safe and secure in a crazy world. Paige really comes into her own. I also liked that David was a nerd, and a very sexy one! I loved the young French boy, Henri, who becomes a part of the OMEGA family. Paige does exactly what I'd hoped she would do as far as Henri. Maggie, David's partner, has a strong role in this book, and I expect that sparks will fly between her and the head of OMEGA, Adam.
This one earns a healthy four stars and a thumbs up from a fan of the spy genre. Spy + romance.....even better!
This book was so good!! I loved Coburn. What a man!!! You can tell I was a happy reader by the number of exclamation points I've used thus far. Honor...moreThis book was so good!! I loved Coburn. What a man!!! You can tell I was a happy reader by the number of exclamation points I've used thus far. Honor was a good heroine too. Very intense and awesome suspense. Very close to five stars. Rating: 4.5 stars.
My paranormal bar is pretty high, especially since the GhostWalkers rocked my world when it comes to enhanced soldiers. I hate comparing books, but th...moreMy paranormal bar is pretty high, especially since the GhostWalkers rocked my world when it comes to enhanced soldiers. I hate comparing books, but the GWs continually came to mind, and this just didn't satisfy the way those books do. Nevertheless, the ideas were interesting, and this series does have some promise. I will definitely give The Storm That Is Sterling a try.
On the heels of the last book I read, this one didn't quite measure up. Rather mean of me to say that. But, it's the truth. However, this was a decent...moreOn the heels of the last book I read, this one didn't quite measure up. Rather mean of me to say that. But, it's the truth. However, this was a decent read, and I enjoyed reading it. The best part of this book was the hero, Seth Adams. He was a dreamboat. A mix of strength and vulnerability. Half-native Inuit, he had an insecurity complex fueled by an Anglo father who never truly accepted his mixed son.
Seth is working undercover as a roughneck on the oil drilling site on a remote island in Alaska. In flies high-powered geologist, Lauren Fotheringay. Is she behind the corporate espionage he's there to investigate, or is she just stealing his heart? I wish I could steal this Alaska boy's heart. I'd never give it back. He was adorable.
Lauren, on the hand, annoyed me more than one time. She trusted her upper-crust moneyed fiance implicitly, although he was clearly too slick for comfort. She did everything she could to get herself killed more than once. Good thing that Seth was always there to protect her. I was about to write her off as a heroine, but she comes to her senses near the end of this book.
This actually was a pretty good book. The mystery was interesting. It has some good action and intrigue, and the Alaska setting was very appealing, if you like midnight-dark, bitterly cold, and nasty blizzards (which I do). I think I would have enjoyed it more if I could like Lauren more than I did. She wasn't the worst heroine ever, but she was pretty annoying, and unworthy of Seth, in my opinion.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you like yummy, half-Native American sexy cop heroes, and the winter/cold setting at its best, and you have a desire to spend a few hours reading a romance story set in Alaska. I wasn't going to keep this book initially, but Seth is too sweet to give away. :) (less)
This was my first book by Catherine Mann, and I will definitely put her on my list of go-to authors for military romantic suspense. What I really like...moreThis was my first book by Catherine Mann, and I will definitely put her on my list of go-to authors for military romantic suspense. What I really liked was that the military part of the equation in this book was the heroine, Darcy Renshaw, who is a pilot in the Air Force. She was a very likeable heroine--well-balanced with a soft, feminine side and a tough exterior. She was great getting along with the guys, but not too prickly where she was annoying. I liked her confidence, but I also appreciated her awkwardness as she tries to let Max know she's interested in him. I also liked the hero in this book, Max. He's a deep-cover CIA agent who happens to have a PhD in Marine Biology. I have an unrepentant fondness for intelligent guys, so he gets bonus points for being a scientist who's also a CIA agent.
I could understand and respect both character's baggage. Darcy was kidnapped at a young age and mentally tortured by her captors. Sense then, she's been afraid to let anyone get too close, and highly values her independence. Max is mourning his lost lover who got murdered in the line of duty as a CIA agent, taking his unborn child with her. Max blamed himself for not getting out of the life. Since then, he's kept women at a distance. But the attraction between them breaks down their barriers.
Ms. Mann has a very good, dramatic and descriptive writing style. She brought the tropical locale of Guam to vivid life for me. I could have been there on the island as I read this book. I found myself impressed with how she kept the narrative active and my interest engaged. I do have to say I felt the suspense conclusion was a little abrupt. I felt somewhat underwhelmed with the reveal on the villain. I was thinking, "That's all?". Also, I could have done without the brutal, wanton spider-killing part. I could understand Darcy's issues with spiders, but I felt bad for the critter. I certainly got why she took out the snake. I just wished the villain had more respect for animals instead of using them to terrorize Darcy and leading to their untimely demise. But otherwise, I thought this was a very good book. It's great to see a heroine who is in the armed forces, and is blazing her own trail in her military career, and a hero who is not at all threatened by her independence and proficiency in her field.(less)
Kei Swanson is clearly eavesdropping in on my brain. She truly knows about my love for Asian men. If not, then she must be a serious admirer of Asian...moreKei Swanson is clearly eavesdropping in on my brain. She truly knows about my love for Asian men. If not, then she must be a serious admirer of Asian men, just like me. Laine Tanizaki was completely, utterly fantastic. Sexy as all get out, but sweet and kind and honorable. I kept picturing Ian Anthony Dale as I read this book, and badly in need of a bib to catch all my drooling. But, I don't want to objectify him. He was a fully-realized character that I fell in love with, just as Corie did. Helping people is in his blood, and being an undercover police officer wasn't something he enjoyed, but it was a way to do what he felt was necessary to keep people safe. He was so loveable, and lickable too (okay, mind out of the gutter). I like that Kei wasn't afraid to have a hero who is Japanese-American, but one who didn't cement or pander to stereotypes. I felt as I read this story that we are of the same mind, ethnicity doesn't control our lives. It's who we are, but just a part of our identities. Laine was an American who happened to be Japanese. He had some of those elements of his ethnicity and heritage, but he also was just like any other American. To be honest with you, I could give this book five stars just because of how much I adored Laine. He was just one of those heroes who claims my heart early on and doesn't let go. I loved how he watched out for, loved, and truly respected and liked Corie. He was a dream man, in my opinion.
I liked Corie, but she's the vulnerable type. If readers don't go for the kind of heroine who is always in need of rescue, Corie won't be your thing. I was okay with her, because I felt that she was the right woman for Laine, and I felt the chemistry between them. Also, she went through a tough experience, and came out of it a survivor, even though she was worse for wear from the experience. And, she gets points for running a bookstore, owning a cat, and seeing what a fine, sexy, hunk of burning love Laine was. I liked that she was also a character who didn't fulfill stereotypes about Black women. She's about as far as you can get away from the uncultured, uncouth, loud, bitter, mean Black woman that seems to be used as the poster child for women of my race. She came from upper class, born into money, but strayed when she fell for a man who turned out to be a straight-up hoodlum and drug-dealer, who beat her so badly, she lost her baby and was in the ICU for two weeks. Now, she lives in fear of him, which was a little frustrating. Although I could understand that fear can control us. I wasn't always happy with the choices she made in regards to dealing with her ex-husband, but I've never been in her shoes, so I didn't hold that against her too much.
This was a well-paced, well-written romance. The chemistry builds deliciously, and you feel the emotional bond between Laine and Corie. Even though they can't open up about who they are, there is a connection between them that drives their interactions. I liked the dialogue and the intimacy in their everyday interactions. When they make love, the fire has stoked to a tingling level of anticipation, and I was not disappointed.
I had a bad experience with the last interracial romance I tried to read. It also had an Asian hero and a Black woman, and that woman was also battered by a man in her life. This execution was so much better. There was nothing tawdry or disturbing about this story, but the abuse that Corie suffered was clear. Laine never came off as an opportunist or a user, but a man truly in love who knew how to care for his woman and to love her. Just what she needed. And, Corie turns out to be right for Laine, giving him a connection and the love of a woman, when he's felt so isolated, with only a dying father in his life, and his job. I am thankful to Kei for her deft handing of this tough subject. I loved how she dealt with the racial and socioeconomic differences, and how lovingly she brought Laine to life. It sounds really bizarre to say so, but I have a heart for Asian people, and I want to see more stories that show Asian Americans as they are everyday, minus the stereotypes that seem to cloud a true vision of a group of people who are diverse and rich in culture and personality. As a Black woman, I feel that on a personal level everyday, and it's not pretty. So, when I read a book that doesn't go in that direction, I feel very happy. I cheered for Laine and Corie to get their happy ending together, because I felt that I truly knew them as lovable, good people. If they were real, I'd definitely want to go to their wedding.
This one's hard to rate. I really liked it, but I was a bit disappointed with a couple of aspects.
First of all, the good:
*Oh, my. Was Quinn delicious...moreThis one's hard to rate. I really liked it, but I was a bit disappointed with a couple of aspects.
First of all, the good:
*Oh, my. Was Quinn delicious or what? Yes he was. I adored him. He was a sweetie, and I loved how he had been so in love with Regan since he was a young boy. He grew up to be a major hottie, alright.
*The concept was very cool. I liked the idea of the SDF, who does things outside of the law to help protect their country. I loved the whole aspect of them being gearheads and using their car know-how to do their job. How they had shady pasts, and they use those to their advantage.
*I was not into cars until I saw Gone in 60 Seconds. For some reason, that activated my appreciation for hot rods. And then there was Vin Diesel and that luscious GTO in XXX. Enough said! I don't want to drive them, but yes, I can see the appeal of a guy who drives them very well. I really liked the car stunts parts!
*The romance aspects were a double-edged sword for me. I really liked that we get two romances in one. I will talk about the negatives a little later. As far as positives, both couples were likeable with great chemistry, and I rooted for their happy ending.
*Pretty good (as in really nasty) villain. Boy, was he a piece of work. I liked Christian, who is deep cover, and he is in a very scary little situation, but handles it with calm and grace. His story should be interesting.
What I was underwhelmed about:
*I didn't like the climax. I thought it was anti-climactic. Some pivotal moments seem to take place off-screen. I thought that there was a good build-up to a really high octane finish, and that didn't come to fruition. I could understand Regan's actions, but it felt a little ditzy in how it came across. I would have liked her to show a little more finesse in saving her man than she did.
*I felt the rapid progression of the romances to be kind of unbelieveable. I could buy that Regan and Quinn had enough history for things to more fairly quickly, but Nikki and Kid, not so much. Also what are the statistical probabilities that two sisters will meet the loves of their life, hook up, have fantastic sex, all in the same night? Pretty unlikely.
*I would have liked to see more action. Yes, I am an action movie junkie. I think there was the potential to have a fantastic book that read like the Fast and the Furious-type movies, but it didn't quite hit my satiety center here.
*I think the details of the SDF agency could be more fleshed out. As it was, there were tantalizing bits here, but it was like getting one of those tiny spoons-full of really good ice cream and not being able to get more in the end! I guesss I have to keep reading to find out more about the SDF and the men who work there.
So, I guess that's why I couldn't give this four stars. I liked it a lot, but I wanted it to be more. Having said that, I am looking forward to continuing this series. I adore Kid, and I cannot wait to read his book. And Christian has that 'I am a bad man, or at least pretending to be a bad man' thing about him that is calling my name.
Hard Evidence was an excellent book. It quenched my thirst for good romantic suspense, that's not just about a hot hero and a cute, likable heroine sc...moreHard Evidence was an excellent book. It quenched my thirst for good romantic suspense, that's not just about a hot hero and a cute, likable heroine scratching an itch while dodging bullets, and ultimately falling in love. No, there's nothing wrong with that. But it's great to read something that goes deeper and touches on issues that are real and meaningful in the world today while I get my high octane romance fix.
Julian is a man who has spent most of his life in the dark. He started out with a less than ideal childhood, a truly heartbreaking childhood, and channeled that into undercover law enforcement. He's seen only the worst of people. And while he believes that this has barred him from the possibility of a good, normal life and a good woman, undeserving of both, he is a very good man. He has put his life, soul and sanity on the line everyday to help the helpless. That made me love him. He's a gorgeous, sexy man in every way, but it was his heart that touched me the deepest.
Tessa is a crusader in a different way. She works as an investigative journalist to use the print media to bring positive change. Some of the risks she takes makes my hair stand on end. (And knowing that the writer, Ms. Clare taps from her own experiences in journalism makes it even more harrowing). Sometimes I wanted to ask her if she was crazy. But I also understand her need to help others, to use what God gave her to effect change in a world where too many people either don't know, don't care, or look the other way.
These two together make sense in a beautiful way. It was a pleasure to read their emotional, highly sensual, and meaningful love story. I started out reading this slowly (around my other review read), just taking it all in, enjoying the leisurely visit with Tessa and Julian, and soon I couldn't put the book down because I was so compelled to see what happened next.
Hard Evidence does hit hard with the realism of this world in which underage/teenage girls are abused, brutalized, and treated as objects and commodities. It makes me upset and angry to know that this is really happening, and it made me cheer for Julian (who is so well named, for he is a Dark Angel), and Tessa, who is an angel of justice from a whole different direction to do what they could to help those girls. Sometimes it seems as though the good guys don't win nearly enough, and it's too easy to give up the fight. But reading about heroes in these books like Tessa and Julian, that they represent the many unsung heroes, and knowing that there are those in real life who sacrifice and strive to make this world a better place is hugely encouraging. Some dark subject matter, but ultimately hopeful. A beautiful love story in which the light of love shines into places where most angels fear to tread, but not these in this book. Highly recommended!
In preparation of the November release of Striking Distance, The Pamela Clare Fan Group will be hosting a group read of the series, starting with this book! If you haven't yet read Pamela Clare's I-Team series, you're missing out on some truly fantastic stories.