MinnChica: When you take on of my favorite authors and one of my favorite genres and mix them together, it’s almost always a recipe for success. I love that I can always count on Vivian Arend to deliver not only incredible books, but wonderful tidbits and teases for her fans. When I first heard she was going to be writing longer books set in the wolfie world, I couldn’t wait to see what she came up with, and the Takhini books are just fabulous. One of the things I loved most about Silver Mine was just how different our hero was from previous ones in the series. He was a reluctant alpha, and although he whined and complained about being in charge, he did it with the best intentions of EVERYONE in mind. I loved Chase. LOVED.
E: Arend always provides a wonderful story and great characterization. While she continues writing new books in the wolfie world about the only constant is that they have packs and Alpha’s. Her skill in continuing to keep things fresh and unusual is wonderful to see. Like MinnChica mentioned Chase did not fit the typical alpha mold and he was simply wonderful. He didn’t want the power or responsibility but when push came to shove he stepped up and did what was necessary. He has been acting as a kind of unofficial alpha by taking care of the link between civilization and the loners but never to the extent of banding a group of different species together. I think he might be my favorite alpha of Arend’s. Well until I read the next book or re-read a previous one.
MinnChica: I have to agree that Chase is one of my all-time favorites, and for me (the girl who loves her alpha’s to walk the line of alphahole, that’s saying something!), that speaks volumes about both Chase’s character and Arend’s ability to write him. While Chase somewhat stole the book IMO, Shelley was great in her own right. She was just as caring and loving as Chase for the people in his territory. She genuinely wanted to help everyone, and knew what it was like to be viewed as an outsider. She lived her whole life somewhat outside of the paranormal and normal worlds, not really feeling like she fit in either one, and because of that she was able to understand the outcasts in Chase’s territory, and connect to them in ways no one else could.
E: Shelley was also a great character. She certainly didn’t let Chase walk over her as she tried to find her spot as a veterinarian. I really felt for her because her full human sister, Caroline, fit into the pack and shifter world much better then she did. Since she was an outsider she was able to create a connection with the other misfits without them feeling patronized. I also liked how she didn’t let her fear of rejection keep her from following her calling and finding out about this new virus. I did find that I adored how her sister and put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that Shelly wasn’t mistreated when she came back although I think she has several levels of plans within plans.
MinnChica: I am with you in the love for Caroline! I adored everything about her, and I hope and pray that she gets the chance to end up with Evan, despite the fact that they don’t seem to be mates. There were actually quite a few secondary characters in this book that I enjoyed and can’t wait to see more of. I like the way that Arend is bridging the gap between the Takhini wolf pack which is organized and really relies so much on the town and 21st Century way of life, and the misfit group of Chase’s folks who are all recluses and enjoy their solidarity. I hope we get to see them coming together more often now that they seem to have a common ground between Caroline and Shelley.
E: YES! I have my fingers crossed regarding Caroline and Evan in future books *hint, hint*. I do really like how the gap is being bridged because they are an important part of the world. I also think the bears and their huge conclave are going to have a significant role in upcoming events. They have already interfered in previous books and I think it is only going to get worse. I also adored Jones, Shelley’s young protector. And I am pretty sure I know why he won’t change into human form *evil grin* just an example of Chase protecting what is his.
MinnChica: All in all I think this book is one of the best in the wolfie series to date. I loved not only the hero and heroine, but also all the secondary characters as well. Both Chase and Shelley were so great as individuals as well as a couple that I wanted the very best for them from the very start. I loved the fact that we stepped outside the normal shifter world and took a look at what life is like for the outsiders who don’t want to be in the normal pack structure. It added another wonderful dimension to the world, and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things in Takhini. I give Silver Mine an A-
E: Arend has created and continues to expand her wonderful wolfie world. I know I will always get a great story and memorable characters both main and supporting. I don’t know what they are going to do or what they will face which is part of the attraction to me. Chase and Shelley while quieter then many of Arend’s previous heroes and heroines easily hold their own. Their world isn’t perfect and everyone doesn’t neatly fit in but their impact is also noted not just ignored. I love the increasing complexity with the greater length stories in Takhini. And like MinnChica, I can’t wait for the next one. I give Silver Mine an A(less)
I was looking forward to trying Robards, because so many people talked up just how wonderful her romantic suspense books are. I was a little hesitant because this was a new paranormal series, but I like paranormal as well, so I figured all would work out. Yeah, not so much.
Charlie has dedicated her life to studying serial killers after the traumatic event of her childhood. The last thing she ever expected was to be tapped by the FBI to act as a consultant on the case that is looking to be more and more like the serial killer from her past. Charlie doesn’t want to go, but the FBI convinces her it’s best. So with her FBI protection detail and shaky nerves Charlie goes off to help the case.
But the FBI doesn’t know about Charlie’s gift/curse of seeing people right after they die a horrific death. While it helps with finding and tracking down murderers, Charlie has a slight problem, one of the serial killers, Michael Garland, she was profiling in prison has attached himself to her and is actively haunting her. Garland refuses to be ignored, but is also willing to help her out in any way he can. With her gift, Garland’s help and the FBI team, they just might be able to solve this case before Charlie becomes the next victim.
I will admit that I liked the overall premise of the book. I liked that Charlie could see ghosts, interact with them, etc. I liked the serial killer case, it was creepy and scary and all around suspenseful. However, the romance in this book was horrible. I didn’t like it at all. Charlie had a few shared kisses with sexy and understanding FBI agent Tony, but the real romance of this story was between Charlie and Garland, the man she had been profiling as a serial killer for who knows how long. That is creepy, and gross, and creepy, and gross!!
The romance between these two was uncomfortable for me to read. Charlie never really seemed to think, at any time, that Garland WASN’T a serial killer. She even had to remind herself time and time again that he killer numerous women, that he was a stone-cold killer. Then she would turn around in her own ghost form (while astral projecting) and get down and dirty with the guy. I can’t count the number of times my eyes popped out of my head and I screamed at her: “HE’S A SERIAL KILLER! WTF??”
Even though the case with the killer was intriguing, I couldn’t get over the romance. I tried to get past it, tried to ignore the whole sleeping with a serial-killer aspect, but I just couldn’t. The direction that Robards chose to go with the romance clouded the rest of what could have been a stellar series. I can honestly say I probably won’t be picking up any of her books in this series in the future.
All in all this story was lost on me. While I think this could have been a solid story: it had an interesting premise and world and an intense and unique serial killer case that kept me guessing until the very end, the romance was so poorly done IMO, it ruined everyone else. I don’t know that anything other than a move away from the romance between Charlie and Garland could have made this book better for me. I give The Last Victim a D-(less)
Tuck is back with the 2nd novel in his Deacon Chalk series, and when I went back to re-read my review of the first book, I was happy to say that a lot of the elements that made the book a C read for me before were not as prevalent and bumped up my overall enjoyment of this book. This was a FABULOUS sophomore novel and I am looking forward to more from Tuck and the rag-tag crew of Deacon and his pals.
It’s been a quiet few months for Deacon, but one night changes all of that. He steps in to save a dog being beaten, and stumbles into a hornet’s nest of shifter politics and deadly family secrets. With his group of friends at his side, Deacon is convinced to help the local group of prey shifters stand up to the rogue group of predator shifters. But with a few guns and only a few fighters able to stand by his side, Deacon might be outmatched and outgunned, and lif as he knows it is threatened beyond his expectations.
I really enjoyed this book, and the more time I spent with Deacon, the more and more I liked him. So many times I’ve read male protagonists that I just didn’t really like. They were assholes and did jerk-like things, but Deacon is like a real southern gentleman. The death of his family still haunts him, but with Tiff in the picture now, he is starting to feel the ice crack around his heart. He is smiling more, and living life instead of just letting it pass by. I love that Deacon has such a huge and caring heart. Despite the fact that he kills monsters for a living, he also takes everyone and anyone under his wing and will protect them with everything he is. He’s the kind of hero that you can really root for.
I loved the action with the shifters too. Tuck has carved out a very unique way of looking at the shape shifter world, with predators and prey animals, and a hierarchy within that world that is twisted and screwed up beyond belief. I liked that it felt as if it had never been done before, and it was fresh and different and gave this book a feeling of individuality that I didn’t feel in the 1st in the series. I loved the twists and turns of who was a good guy and who was bad. I loved all the different shifters that Tuck introduced into the story, and how hard Deacon had to fight to take most of them down.
The book is brutal, it’s dark and gritty and there is a LOT of bloodshed. But it was also sweet at times, it had an ongoing romance that took a backseat to the action, but was also on the forefront of Deacon’s – and my mind. The romance parts really broke up the action and gave me a chance to recover from the craziness that was the rest of the book. I also really enjoyed the sense of family that we get from Deacon’s crew. They are all people he has saved and taken under his wing, and although they don’t have his Angel blood, they each have their own way of contributing to story, to Deacon and to the fight.
I was also glad to see more develop with Deacon and his power. I didn’t think it was explored enough in the first book, so seeing Deacon struggle with what he can do, taking it to the next level and using his gift for both healing and killing was great to see. Tuck has really started to take Deacon’s unique situation and make it his own, giving the series a new and fresh feel. I can’t wait to see what Deacon discovers he can do next!
All in all I was extremely happy with the 2nd Deacon Chalk book. Whereas I thought the first was a little unoriginal, Tuck has stepped out of the mold and created a unique plot with different shifter society and has taken Deacon’s unusual skills and highlighted them more and more. I love the addition of the romance plot, and the way the high-action and drama plot was broken up by more tender moments. I can’t wait to see what Tuck has in store for us and Deacon next.
MinnChica: I wasn’t too sure what to think of David at first. It was obvious that the nano agents and his mechanical enhancements were a source of contention for him, that he was constantly viewed negatively by others because of it. Although that would have hardened many men, David seemed to take it in stride. He was still this caring young boy underneath all that gruff exterior. While cautious with his feelings, his thoughts, and his desires, he was still a genuine caring little boy that wanted nothing more than to be loved and give love in return. I adored David once we got to know him better, and hope we get to see more romance heroes like him in the future.
E: I had mixed feeling about David for a while. I liked him initially when he saved Annika from being arrested and through most of their initial encounters. I could tell that he was sensitive about his nano agents and his enhancements. While they gave him back a lot of what he had lost in the eruption he had to deal with a larger number of negative reactions to his appearance. Those included rather harsh rejections as a man from women who should have been able to at least act. Then David fell off his pedestal when he tried to blackmail Annika into giving him information. I could understand his frustration and pain but I hoped that he would have to work to get back into Annika’s, and my, good graces. Well he certainly succeeded and I ended up liking him even more than I had in the beginning. He was strong, smart, not Alpha and just wonderful.
Has: Oh I loved David- he was a fabulous beta hero, honourable and sweet but with a strong inner core! And I immediately warmed up to his character because I totally understood why he would regard people like that due to his enhancements and scars. I really loved how Meljean portrayed themes of disability and how that related to his character especially with how people’s attitudes towards him before he got enhanced and then later when he became the super hottie cyborg. It felt so realistic and not heavy handed, and so very well done. But then this is one of the reasons I love about her world-building and characterisation. But I loved that it didn’t make him bitter or angry but I could relate to him being reclusive and guarded about his feelings. I also loved how vulnerable that made him even though he would rarely show that aspect to others. Especially in his interactions with Annika, even though it got off to a rocky start, I could understand his frustration and desire to fulfil his mother’s wishes, although he made it clear he wouldn’t have betrayed Annika’s trust and that of her family and home town.
Thoughts on Heroine
MinnChica: Annika wasn’t as much of a mystery to me, and while I liked her immensely, she didn’t stand out as much as David did. I understood her dedication to keep her family secret safe, and thought she did the best she could at keeping the secret. I have to admit that I never really saw her character as being a scared little bunny until the second half of the book, when she reunited with someone from her past. At that point, her character seemed to deflate a little for me, and I was sad to see her bold and fearsome character whither a bit under the strain. Like David, I saw Annika almost as a little girl as well. She left home with a goal in mind, and it seemed like she really hadn’t gotten the chance to grow up the rest of the way. But with David at her side, the two of them really blossomed together, and I loved reading that.
E: Annika seemed to be quite the individual. She certainly didn’t fit in with women from other places but at the same time she managed to get along with most of them. Due to her peculiar upbringing she was free from most of the common prejudices but had some less common ones of her own. She was intensely private with good reason given some of the horrible things she had seen while searching for her sister. I liked how she never gave up regardless of the odds against and managed to come up with ways to make a difference. It was striking to see how much her character had matured while being on her own when she encountered people she knew from her home. I have to say I much preferred the strong Annika. Watching the relationship grow between the two with their ups and downs was a lot of fun.
Has: For me Annika’s character was much like peeling an onion and as the book progressed each layer slowly unfolded showing a different side to her. Her character may not be as dramatic,but like her dress sense which is colourful, she she definitely stood out to me. I think David needed an introspective heroine, because she like him, she was an outsider and I definitely agree that once she was with him, she really found her sense of self. Especially towards the end of the book, where she wasn’t being held back by her past guilt on the reason why she’s looking for her lost sister Kalla and family obligations. But I liked that she was refreshingly honest, and sweet but I don’t think she had the chance to show this side of self because she wasn’t given an opportunity until meeting David and encountering the mystery with Lorenzo and the experiments. And although she wasn’t as kick-ass as the previous heroines, I loved her steadfastness and determination and I think David needed that because he never had someone who could relate to him or be as loyal, and she’s going to be his touch stone and vice versa..
MinnChica: There were really so many of them, I just don’t know how I can narrow it down to one. There were so many great pivotal moments to their romance, and many of those stick out to me: hiding in the saferoom of the airship, their private moment in the bathhouse, their first time together. But I think the one moment that sticks out most is the first time they got hot and heavy, while traveling in the troll. I loved that they both wanted to take things slow, that they knew going into their evening that they WOULDN’T be having sex, and yet they desperately wanted to experience everything they could together. They were like fumbling teenagers doing what felt good, and it was such a turning point for them to admit they were on their way to love, and wanted to experience all the sexual buildup that comes with it.
E: Oh those are good scenes that MinnChica mentioned. I think I am going to say one close to the beginning of the story when David and Dooley (his scientific expedition partner) had a conversation about how David had never spoken to a women for longer than three minutes. The humor and teasing there highlighted who David really was to me while also mentioning a rather important truth. That just meant his conversations and other encounters with Annika that much more precious.
Has: I totally agree with you all about those scenes, especially with the touches of humour, and the growing sexual tension which was fun and very sexy! But for me the scene that called out to me and I don’t want to spoil the book, is at the end of the book, when they were both trying to survive the repercussions from big event. Oh, for two quieter toned characters, this scene was jam packed full of intensity and I really could feel the sense of despair and desperation and just how much they loved each other. This scene really summed up their romance for me because it showed how much they developed from their initial meeting to this point and it was so sweet and poignant.
Dislike about book
MinnChica: Other than Lorenzo and his total disregard for humanity, there really wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book in particular. One of the things I love most about this series also has a tendency to frustrate me: you never know what you are going to get. With Brook and this series it could go one way or another. I’m a very mood-based reader in that I’ll pick up what I’m in the mood for, and with this series, I never know if I’m in the right mood or not. It’s very annoying for me, and I find that many times it’ll take me multiple sittings to get through the book, which almost never happens with me. However, that being said, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed after finishing one of the Iron Seas novels or novellas.
E: I was slightly disappointed in what happened to Lorenzo. I know that the fact his carefully built and orchestrated world falling to pieces not to mention the destruction of his plans caused him a large amount of distress but I wanted more. So I might be slightly bloodthirsty but I wanted to see him suffer physically like so many of the people whose paths he crossed. Granted I don’t think he is any position to come back and cause anyone any harm *grin* but I wanted confirmation.
Has: I don’t really have any real dislikes in the book, although I agree about Lorenzo’s fate! But I did find it interesting that his character was contrasted with David and Annika who both observed things and people too, because they were outsiders. But unlike Lorenzo, who was basically a sociapath, they had empathy and was able to relate to people despite being different or eccentric.
Misc. thoughts & grade
MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed this book. The world of the Iron Seas is so robust, there is so much going on, and there are so many different places Brook can take us to. I love the small world feel we got being in Iceland for the majority of the book, and how a lot of the underlying themes of community stood out to me. It felt like a steampunk small town romance, and I loved it start to finish. I hope we get to see more of the Hannasvik people and these characters in future books. The romance was great, the action was fun, and the steampunk aspects were engenius. Brook has another hit read on her hands! I give Riveted an A-
E: Once again I was completely entranced by Brook’s world. I stayed up way too late finishing this and loved every second of it. Between the depth of the world building, the complexity of the characters, and what is at stake for them it never lost my attention. This could actually serve as a standalone because none of the characters from previous stories are mentioned although it is obvious it is the same world, just focused in a different part. Yes it does take a little while for the action to start but the slow ramping up allowed me to get to know the characters and get a feel for them before I was focused on their life and death prospects making their relationship that much more believable. It wasn’t a sudden urge to celebrate not dying in the most primitive of ways but a thoughtful logical next stop to their already established friendship and attraction. I also really admire how Brook manages to integrate steam so thoroughly instead of an afterthought tossed in to satisfy a genre classification. Like MinnChica said above the romance, action and steampunk were all marvelous. I can’t wait for the next one. I give Riveted an A
Has: I was totally immersed in this book, although unlike the previous books which was more action led, I liked the quieter toned, and touches of humour, but the real stand out element was the romance – this was a beautifully drawn out love story about two misfits falling in love, and I loved the backdrop of Iceland with huge mechanical trolls, and leviathan like whales. I can’t say enough good things about the detail and depth of the strength of the world-building that Meljean Brook has laid out. It is like a real feast of the imagination, and I love how she tackles themes of race, sexuality and disability and the impact this has in a world where differences are frowned upon due to fear and ignorance. Riveted adds another element in the ever expanding tapestry of the Iron Seas world, the rich characterisation, the sweet and passionate and vibrant steampunk setting, I was truly captivated from the first page.
E: I was browsing my list of book blogs that I frequent when I came across an excerpt of Seven Sexy Sins on RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk and I loved it. It looked like this story contained two of my favorite tropes; friends to lovers and childhood crush on big brother’s friend. I had to share the excerpt with MinnChica. She loved it too. After talking about it a bit more we decided we would try to contact the author and ask about the possibility of getting a review copy or if she had a point of contact we should talk to. Woods graciously agreed and provided us with a copy. I was very glad to see that the story lived up to the promise I saw in her excerpt.
MinnChica: Yeah, the excerpt in this book was awesome, and after reading it, knew I would enjoy the book in it’s entirety. I was so glad that Woods gave us the chance to review this book. I’m a huge fan of my smutty romances, and I am happy to announce that Woods has just added herself as an author that I will be able to count on for some quality smut, good romance, and overall great storyline.
E: This book certainly provided quality smut. I also liked that despite their pre-established friendship or maybe because of it Faith and Rusty had to actually work on their romance. They accepted their physical lust for each other but even then the doubts between their knowledge of each other’s prowess, their imagination and then the actual situations were great to see. That made both characters seem more realistic and allowed me to buy into their relationship as it grew from “research” into something more. I also enjoyed the interaction within the circle of friends. Some of those conversations had me laughing so hard I had to find a tissue for my eyes.
MinnChica: I couldn’t agree more. I loved the fact that because they were such good friends, the romance and sexy times didn’t come easily for them. Not only were they both nervous at times, but they also doubted themselves, each other, and the situations they kept putting themselves into. It made for a strained courtship, but I liked it. I am always hesitant in friends to lovers stories when the hero and heroine don’t consider how the sex will change things between them. For Faith and Rusty, that seemed to be constant thought at the back of their minds the whole time. I liked the added tension it brought into play, both between them and between their group of friends, whom they left in the dark regarding their arragement.
E: Yes! I don’t care what anyone else says sex is going to change things. The inclusion of that was wonderfully done. The one area that I thought was a little weak was how Rusty’s students knew more of what was going on then their circle of friends. Given how both Faith and Rusty were trying to keep what was going on secret I thought they would have acted with a bit more discretion around his students. It did make me wonder if word was going to get back to other people through those students.
MinnChica: Yeah, it didn’t bother me so much that his students seemed suspicious of them, however I wondered why none of their friends caught onto the somewhat obvious undertones and changes in their relationship. I was actually surprised that it took so long for Faith’s best friend to pick up on it, and that it took them so long to come clean about it. I do have to say though, I did enjoy the way that Faith’s older brother handled finding out one of his best friends was her “mystery man.” I thought his reaction was real and honest and I loved the bickering, fighting and acceptance when Rusty came clean with his feelings. That aspect of it really worked for me!
E: I both dreaded and then loved that scene. I could tell it was hard enough on Faith’s brother finding out that his sister not only wasn’t innocent but was fully enjoying her lack of innocence and then learning that it was one of his best friends. I also have to say that I think my favorite part was how the friends grouped together to help Rusty overcome his understandable fear of commitment. That made me fall a little in love with Faith’s brother because it showed that he really loved his sister and wanted her happy above all else. He also wanted his friend happy.
MinnChica: I don’t know that I agreed with the way Rusty’s friends tried to help him overcome his fear of commitment. Without giving away too much, I didn’t think it was very supportive of his friends to throw him in the deep end, especially in that particular situation.
However, all in all, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the romance between Rusty and Faith, especially the tender moments while they were getting ready to get down-and-dirty. Add in the smutty times that were not cheap, instead sexy and emotional. With the great cast of secondary characters this was an all around wonderful friends to lovers book. I give Seven Sexy Sins a B-
E: I enjoyed this book as well. Like MinnChica said the characters went through the full spectrum of emotions which added so much depth. Even in the beginning when it was purely “research” their caring for each other was evident which made their encounters worth so much more. I enjoyed how Woods took the tropes and gave them a breath of fresh air. I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next. I give Seven Sexy Sins a B(less)
This book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2012, so you can imagine how excited I was to get it a week early. Ty and Zane are two of my favorite fictional characters, and probably one of my favorite series of all times, and this installment was AMAZING.
Ty and Zane have had a few months of leisure, but a phone call from Texas and Zane’s family throws off their balance. After a pit stop in West Virginia, Ty and Zane both head down to Texas to see what they can do to help Zane’s dad after he’d been shot and find out what is going on at the ranch. With the shooting, multiple trespassing violations, and missing exotic animals, Ty and Zane are quickly plunged into a case that hits way too close to home.
I don’t want to give too much away, although I’m sure most die-hard fans have already read this book, but I am going to try and keep this one as spoiler free as possible.
Let me start with the one thing that was somewhat of a letdown for me, and that was the overall ‘case’ of the book. I liked how the big-cat sanctuary came into play, and we got to see Ty face his fears of big exotic cats (literally). However, for me it really felt as if the case took a bit of a back seat to the rest of the story, which has a different feel than the other books in this series. So much of the first five books is solely focused on the mystery aspect, and the lives and romance of Ty and Zane usually take a more back-seat role. In this installment, that is flip-flopped and the case takes more of a back-seat to the romance. Not that I didn’t like it, it just set a very different tone to this book, and I like the high-stakes, lots of action of previous books. I even kind of missed the intensity of the previous books.
That being said, the romance and peek at Ty and Zane’s day-to-day life was so incredible. We got to spend a small amount of time in West Virginia with Ty’s family, and I forgot just how hilarious they are. Between Chester and Ty’s parents, I spent most of that trip home with them in stitches. MOST. Again, without giving too much away, something big happens between Ty and his father and for a few seconds, I hated Earl. I’ve always been with Zane in that I didn’t have a good understanding of the relationship between Ty and his dad, but I’ve never outright hated the guy until that one moment.
The highlight of this book for me was finally getting to meet Zane’s family. His sister Anne was so sweet and funny, and she has probably the second best line in the whole book. She was so supportive of Zane, and was willing to stand up to their horrible mother at every turn. Zane’s dad was probably one of the best secondary characters ever written. He had the all time best line of the book, and from the first moment we met him, I fell in love with him. He truly loved Zane, was glad to see that Ty was helping Zane get his life back together, and did everything he could to help run interference between Zane and his mom. Speaking of Zane’s mom, she was a piece of work. The woman was cold and rude and nasty and an all around bitch. She wasn’t supportive of Zane’s career choice or anything in his life for that matter. I could see a lot of Zane in her, but was also so glad to see all the ways that Ty was helping him break those bad habits and become a better person.
A lot of stuff happens in this book that help Ty and Zane really move forward with their relationship. Again, without giving away any spoilers, I can’t give specifics here, but there tons of conversations and small (and big) decisions that really helped propel their relationship forward and onto the next level of commitment and intensity. These two together are one of my all time favorite couples.
All in all I can’t say enough wonderful things about this book. I absolutely loved the relationship progression for Ty and Zane. So many spoiler-ish things happened that made me laugh and giggle and cry and scream. Getting to see an inside look at Zane’s family was so special and explained so much, and I can’t wait to see more of them. I give Stars & Stripes an A-(less)
I had heard so many great things about Gregg, but wasn’t able to find the original story due to some publisher issues. When I saw the re-issue through Carina Press, I squeed and immediately requested a copy!
Mark never expected when he came home early that he would walk in on his boyfriend with another (straight) man. Although he kicks Jamie to the curb (and breaks his nose) Mark is stunned to learn that Jamie not only cheated, but also drained his bank accounts. Unsure of what to do, Mark turns to an old friend and town Trooper Tony for help.
Tony has long been waiting for Mark to grow up and get out of a relationship. Now that Mark is un-attached, Tony can make his move. But Mark’s situation with Jamie is worse than Tony anticipated and things go from complicated to seriously screwed up and Tony finds Mark constantly putting himself into hairy situations. Tony will have to figure out a way to keep Mark safe, while working to make it clear that he wants more than the friendship they’ve always had.
I really enjoyed this Gregg story and am looking forward to reading more set in the town of Smithfield. Tony and Mark are both great, and while I’m not usually a fan of books told in the 1st person like this, it worked out okay for me.
We really get to see and know so much more about Mark than Tony, since it’s told from Mark’s POV. However, Gregg does a wonderful job of showing Tony’s reactions, and giving us hints from other secondary characters as to Tony’s true feelings for Mark – both now and in the past. While it doesn’t give the same feel as a third person book, it was enough to whet my appetite and give me a good enough overall feeling of Tony that I felt like I knew him and enjoyed him almost as much as Mark.
I have to say this book has probably one of the best scenes I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard as when Mark goes to confront Jamie in church, and bitch slaps him upside the head with a Bible. *dies* It was pretty hilarious and a scene that I’m sure will stick with me for years to come! The conflict with Jamie played out nicely though, and I was glad to see that Mark didn’t back down, and although he acted immature and somewhat childish in the beginning, he also kept his head about him and did what needed to be done to get his money back.
I hope that in future book we will get to see Tony and Mark together more. I love couples that go from a long time friendship into a romantic relationship, especially when they have both secretly pined for one another. Seeing Mark struggle with coming to terms with Tony’s feelings, and Tony having to almost smack Mark with his attraction, these two were fun to watch as they made the transition from friends to lovers.
All in all I am so glad I followed the advice of my m/m-lover friends and got the first in the Smithfield series. Tony and Mark are so cute together, at times innocent and naive and other times smoking hot. I loved their relationship and hope that we can see more of them in future books. M/m fans who have NOT read the Smithfield books when they were first released will definitely want to pick up a copy now! I give Men of Smithfield: Mary & Tony a B+(less)
I am such a sucker for weddings, and contemporary romance, so when I saw this new author and book from Carina Press, I requested it immediately. I have to say, not only am I so glad that I got this book, it will probably be one of my favorite contemporary romances of the year!
Ivy is a wedding planner and a hopeless romantic. She believes wholeheartedly in love, and loves going to work every day doing the thing she loves: helping couples show and share their love through their wedding. When she finds out at the last minute that one of her brides will be on a sleezy reality show, she worries that her career as a respected wedding planner is down the drain. Instead, the network executives were so impressed with her they tap her to do her own wedding show.
Ivy never expected her one-night stand Ben to show up as her cameraman for the new show, especially after their disastrous and fabulous first date. But the more time they spend together, the more Ivy knows Ben is the one, and the more determined she is to make him fall in love with her. The only problem is that Ben is so jaded, he might not be able to stick it out, regardless of if he falls for her right back.
I can not say enough good things about this book. All of the things I loved the most about the Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts: the friendship between co-workers, the elegant and amazing weddings, and the beautiful core romance were all just as fabulous in Barth’s story. Add in the playful writing and sexy interludes, and it was an all around incredible contemporary romance read.
One of the things I loved most about this book was Ivy’s unwavering belief in love. She was so optimistic, so set in her faith that love really can conquer all, and she lives her life to the fullest with that belief every day. Many times when heroines are so obsessed with love, they can come across as desperate, however Ivy was so genuine and sweet and caring and loving with every single person she came across, and it felt so refreshing for me while reading. I loved that she loved her job, that she treated each and every person she met with the utmost respect and care, and that she was just such a loveable heroine.
While Ben was a complete opposite in his beliefs, constantly quoting the divorce rate and all the horrors a wedding day can bring – bridezillas, heinous mother-in-laws, etc – he was also a romantic in disguise. He never seemed to realize that he was sweeping Ivy off her feet with every small and sweet gesture, every helpful hand, every supportive shoulder. He talked big about never wanting to fall in love, never wanting to get married, and yet his actions were always loving and caring and supportive toward Ivy, the exact opposite of his words. It was kinda sweet to see him be so clueless, and yet such a fabulous hero at the same time.
Their romance was great as well. It started off with a bang (literally) and after they knew they could heat up the sheets, Ivy backed off and tried so hard to get Ben to fall for her emotionally as well. the sexual tension that went along with their dates and interactions at work blew me away and had me giggling and smiling at every page. I absolutely adored their journey together and can’t wait to see more of them in future books as they settle more into their relationship.
The supporting cast of characters is absolutely AWESOME as well. I loved Ivy’s business partner and team, as well as the group of guys that Ben finds himself falling in with. I liked that Barth added male characters who were part of the wedding scene, and yet manly and strong hero material as well. I never thought I’d be so excited to read about a male cake decorator, but I am swooning for more of Sam!
All in all this was such a fabulous contemporary read. The hero and heroine are both deep and wonderful characters in their own right, and when brought together they light up the book. Their friends and family are wonderful supporting characters as well, and make for a wonderful foundation for a series I know will be at the top of my to-buy list. Contemporary romance fans need to go out and read this book immediately, I promise you won’t be disappointed. I give Planning for Love an A-(less)
I’ve read Kennedy before, and really enjoyed her romantic suspense books. So when I got the request to read her newest Samhain release with a little less suspense and a little more smut, I was onboard!
Jen vowed to never go for a man in uniform and when she meets Cash at a bar, some sexy kisses are exchanged before Cash has the chance to tell her what he really does. Jen hopes he’ll call, but with a crazy stalker ex-boyfriend and extra protective older brother, she has her hands full. When her brother Carson demands she move in with one of his SEAL buddies to stay safe, the last person Jen expected to see was Cash, but the second chance was worth the surprise.
Losing Jen’s number was driving Cash insane. But seeing Jen again was both exciting and horrifying, as Carson made him swear to keep his hands to himself. But Jen has other ideas, and the chemistry between them ignites into an inferno neither can control. But will Jen be able to get over her fears and give her heart to a man in uniform, especially when she is faced with Cash’s first assignment?
After reading this, I think I’m going to have to go out and buy all the previous books in the series. Kennedy has a fabulous writing style and a wonderful way of telling both sexy and mildly suspenseful stories all wrapped up in one package. The sexual tension between Cash and Jen was so great, especially when Cash struggled keeping his hands off Jen, and she was fighting so desperately to seduce him. It was great fun to watch these two dance around each other, ask questions they normally wouldn’t, and try to get the other worked into a sexual tizzy. So much fun!
After having read Kennedy’s romantic suspense from Penguin, Midnight Rescue, I was expecting the book to be a lot more suspense heavy. However, this was a light version of her suspense abilities, and I found that it worked just as well for me. I liked that although the threat of Jen’s stalked loomed in the background, she and Cash were given the chance to get to know one another, to date and have dirty sex. And at the same time, when I least expected it, that plot thread quietly wove its way back into the story and ended up taking me somewhat by surprise. It was not at all what I was expecting, but I loved the way it worked for the story overall.
One of my big pet peeves in romance novels is the menage situation, and although it seems like EVERY SINGLE COUPLE in this series has been there, done that – I liked the little twist we got. I’m especially blah about m/f/m menage situations where the guys are only in it for the girls, but when the guys go in on a little m/m action, it always spices things up and keeps it interesting. I was so pleased and surprised to see Cash and his straight friend Dylan have a super sexy few moments together. I don’t think I’ve ever read a scene when two straight guys have a blowjob moment, especially when they go back to being “just buds” the next day. I loved it. It was just what I needed to make the whole menage situation work for me!
All in all Kennedy has impressed me once again! I adored both Cash and Jen and their struggles with Cash being a SEAL and gone part of the time, and Jen’s desire to do something meaningful with her life. The sexual tension with these two was off the charts and made for some steamy reading. I can’t say enough good things about this book, it’s a must read. I give Feeling Hot an A-(less)
After reading the first book in the Black Knights Inc series, I was super excited to read all about Becky and Frank. I adored their barbs and banter, and couldn’t wait to see how they would overcome their obstacles on the way to happily ever after!
Becky needed a break from the guys at Black Knights Inc, but her yacht trip with her best friends turned from a relaxing way to decompress to a hostage situation with pirates. She doesn’t worry though, because Becky knows that the guys will do everything in their power to rescue her before the situation can escalate. But during the big rescue, Becky has to hold her own against one of the pirates, and his survival will be all about revenge.
Frank has always had a thing for the younger Becky, but he is also scared to get involved with someone much younger than him. He holds himself a step away, until everything with the pirates comes to a headway and he succums to his desires. But with his own personal demons, and a revenge plot against Becky, will Frank be able to have the time to make a decision and follow through before it’s too late?
The sexual tension between these two is KILLER. The back and forth and drama walked that fine line of just enough and too much angst for me. Between Becky’s school-girl-like crush and Frank’s childhood demons, these two had a lot to overcome on their own before they could really begin an adult relationship. That being said, I loved their journey together. All the dancing around and flirting and innuendo, followed by the self-realization and ability to come together made for a great read.
I loved the suspense portion of the book as well. I don’t think I’ve read a book with modern day pirates yet, so that aspect of it was so neat and fun to read about. I also liked the fact that we got to see Becky and Frank relax and slow down a bit, all while we got to see a little “behind the curtain” as to what was going on with the pirate who got away and wanted nothing more than to get revenge on Becky. It was a way of amping up the suspense, all while giving the hero and heroine a chance to focus on themselves instead of the external threat.
We got the chance to meet some of the other Black Knights, and I loved all the page time that Wild Bill and Angel got. I can’t wait to see more of these guys in action! On top of meeting more Knights, we also met to hero (very briefly) and heroine, Frank’s sister Michelle, of the next book in the series. Walker briefly set up their history together, and I’m excited to report the next book is a 2nd chance love story (*sigh*, I love those)!
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it felt a little rushed at the end. Once Frank and Becky opened up completely they realized all the things holding them back were no longer an issue and their HEA came quickly. I would have liked to see them be in love for a while before jumping to the alter. Despite their long time attraction, their never ending devotion and commitment came a little out of left field for me.
All in all I really enjoyed the second installment of the Black Knights Inc series. I felt this book had a strong romance vibe than the first in the series, and the suspense plot was fresh and new in my eyes. While Frank and Becky toed the line with their emotional angst, I felt as if it was the perfect combination of drama and sexual tension. I am anxious to read more from Walker and can’t wait to read about the other Knights! I give In Rides Trouble a B+(less)
MinnChica: I’ve long been a huge fan of Novak’s romantic suspense series, so when I heard she was starting up a new contemporary romance series set in a small town, I was sold. I love small town romances, and with Novak’s writing style I knew I would be in for a treat. While I was very disappointed in the intro novella to the series, I had hopes that this book would be completely different, and one that would restore my faith in the series. I’m happy to report back to you that it did in fact far-surpass the novella and made me anxious to read more and more in the series.
Has: I have a confession to make – this is my first ever Brenda Novak book I’ve read (I know, I know) – overall I did enjoy my first taste and I really liked the tone and small-town vibe with an engaging romance. However I did find some issues with, Simon’s past and relationships with his ex-wife and father and how that affected him over the course of the book. But I love the marriage of convenience trope and Gail was a fantastic foil to Simon who is belligerent and on a self-destructive road due to his break-up with his ex-wife and is in the middle of a bitter custody battle. I loved how both Gail and Simon who were both Hollywood professional/star stripped down to their real selves when they settled into Whiskey Creek, and that for me is where the romance really developed and began to shine for me.
MinnChica: The whole marriage of convenience is one of those things that makes me smile inside. I don’t know why, but I love it to pieces. And I loved the way Gail and Simon handled it and the slow build up their relationship took. I’ll agree that the plot with Simon’s ex wife was annoying at times, and made me want to find Simon a better lawyer, but I liked the way his father played into the overall plot and how he went from this total D-bag to a somewhat supportive and proud father figure. I’ll admit that I thought Gail and Simon were pretty perfect for eachother. Gail was there to nudge and lead Simon toward better decision making, and Simon really gave Gail a chance to branch out and be wild and fun and exciting. I enjoyed their romance, and hope we get to see more of them in future books!
Has: I loved that aspect with Gail becoming more relaxed and less uptight as well as just letting go emotionally as well as sexually with Simon. Whilst she brought him stability and a touchstone that was reliable and honest. I really did believe that their relationship would last despite the fact I found his character initially unlikeable due to him being a womaniser and a cheater as well as a drunk. Although I wished there was more to expand on how strongly he felt for his ex before he succumbed to his self-destructive path because I didn’t really believe this was a good reason, even if though his wife betrayed him horribly at first with someone he was close to. This was the weakest aspect of the book for me, but the growing affection and attraction which turned to love with Gail reformed his character.
Their relationship was really heartfelt and warm and the backdrop of the small town really helped with the overall tone of the romance even though he was a huge star and she was a high profile PR executive. The supporting cast of characters also added to the atmosphere of the book, and lays down future story threads for the sequels which I will definitely be interested in picking up!
MinnChica: I agree that Simon was a little difficult to like at first, especially with the way he treated Gail, stole all her clients, and then made her bend over backward for him. He definitely came across self-centered and a huge jerk. But once he got to Whiskey Creek and spent more time with Gail and her friends, I loved the way he seemed to really look into himself and find the error of his ways and do the smallest yet sweetest things for Gail to prove that he was changing. I loved the dedication he showed toward her, and although he still had a few issues with how to handle his ex-wife, I fell in love with him right along side Gail. Although the ex-wife situation was a bit of a cluster-F, I was glad to see how he and Gail resolved the whole thing, and were able to stand up against the bull and hollywood spotlights to prevail as a couple.
Has: I totally agree! I think the strong-point to this book was how much he changed from that jerk we first met in the beginning of the book, and both of them realising their initial feelings and impression with each other was wrong. There was also a sense he took his time to get over his past and I liked that because it was realistic and there was no magic wand for him to get over his issues.
When Lightning Strikes is a sweet, heart-warming romance about redemption and taking a second chance on love, which I loved! The setting of the small town of Whiskey Creek, was filled with a great cast of supporting characters – but the romance for me was the real star of the book!
I give When Lightning Strikes a B-
MinnChica: All in all I was so happy with the first full length book in the Whiskey Creek series. I was a little worried after the novella, but Gail and Simon really came through with a stellar romance and a great introduction to the town and the group of people in it. I loved the marriage of convenience, and the way that Gail and Simon started out as enemies, and really came to depend and rely on each other. They built their romance on trust and friendship and it progressed slowly over the book. The romance, for me, was incredible well done. While there were a few plot points I wish would have been handled differently, namely the ex-wife and Simon’s agent, I felt the story was strong overall and the romance more than made up for everything else. I give When Lightning Strikes a B+(less)
I absolutely love and adore Novak’s romantic suspense books, so when I heard about her new contemporary romance series, I knew I would have to read it immediately. While I didn’t love this novella as much as her RS books, I am excited to read more in the series.
Olivia is home for the wedding of her younger sister, to her ex-boyfriend. Not only is she having a hard time just being home for the wedding, but she also has to plan it. Olivia struggles with keeping her good sister image in tact while dealing with her conniving and jealous sister, her ex who still obviously pines for her, and the attraction to her ex’s step-brother that sprang up as quickly as their long ago high-school crush. But as the wedding looms closer and closer, how will Olivia be able to deal with her growing attraction to Brandon and the drama surrounding the wedding from hell?
I am not a fan of the jealous sister hitting on the current or ex-boyfriend trope. I don’t know why, but I really just hate it. So I had a really hard time enjoying this book for that alone. I don’t know why, but the whole thing just seems kinda sleazy and cheap to me.
I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the romance between Olivia and Brandon. It was obvious from page one that these two had a serious attraction way back in high school. It was also obvious that they both could still feel the pull, and for that reason alone, I was able to buy into the whole romance between Olivia and her ex-boyfriend’s step-brother.
I have to say, Kyle and Noelle both drove me absolutely crazy. Noelle was a raging beotch, and there was never a moment in the entire novella that endeared me to her. Had she been my sister, I would have shoved her face in wedding cake and given her a piece of my mind. Likewise, Kyle was kind of a jerk as well. He was so focused on living up to his duty after knocking up Noelle, but he also wasn’t able to let Olivia go. He was totally unfair to Olivia, wanting to take care of her and be with her despite his impending marriage to her sister.
I really liked Brandon though, he made up for everything else. He was sweet and caring toward Olivia, and it was plain to see that he was crushing hard on Olivia and desperate to have his chance with her. He was also so tortured with his professional career, I just wanted to hug him and tell him that everything would be okay. When he made his big gesture toward Olivia at the end, I wanted to melt into a puddle of good, I adored it!
All in all I didn’t absolutely love this novella as much as some of Novak’s other works, but I am excited to see more in the series. I enjoyed the hero and heroine and liked their romance, but the circumstances of the story somewhat ruined the rest of it for me. I am definitely anxious to see more from Novak in this contemporary genre. I give When We Touch a C+(less)
I’m fairly new to the Julie Garwood fan club. Yes, yes, I know, her early works are amazing, and I’ll get to them eventually. While I liked Sweet Talk, there were quite a few things that didn’t really work for me throughout the book as well.
After discovering some very disconcerting information about her father, Olivia has vowed to do whatever is necessary to discover the truth and bring him down. Her job at the IRS is one she loves doing, and gives her the opportunities she needs to research her father. But when she takes an interview with another firm, she is thrown into the middle of an FBI sting and suddenly finds herself constantly in danger.
FBI agent Grayson is immediately taken with Olivia, and will go to any lengths to protect her, especially when he finds out she has nothing to do with the FBI. When the death threats start rolling in and Olivia ends up in the hospital, Grayson has to figure out just who wants Olivia dead. Was it the man she interviewed with, or a deeper and darker plot having to do with Olivia’s father?
There were some things I enjoyed in this, and some that really didn’t work for me. I was a little confused by how blase Olivia was in the beginning of the book, especially since she was tossed into a high-stress situation that even the most hardened FBI agents would think twice about. Yet Olivia just went about her day as if nothing had happened. Although we got to see a bit of her childhood, and how traumatic her illness was, I doubt the events of the beginning of the book would be something any normal woman would be able to let roll of her back.
Also, there was a sub-plot with one of Olivia’s best friends that didn’t really seem to make all that sense to me. It was thrown in the side, and really didn’t seem to have much to do with Olivia’s story. I’m not sure if Garwood is setting up this side character to have a book of her own in the future or what, but if this book is a stand-alone, I really didn’t understand why this part of the story was told.
Besides those two points, I really did enjoy the story. I loved getting a glimpse into Olivia’s childhood illness, especially since we got to see the connection she made with her four other friends. I sincerely do hope that Garwood tells stories for all these girls, as I enjoyed each and every one of them. And although Olivia’s actions in the first few chapters seems out of the norm, I really did like her character. Despite the pain of her childhood and the distance her family put between them, Olivia is strong and secure and a very sweet friend.
Grayson was also a fun character, constantly struggling with his attraction to Olivia. He was fighting the push and pull of being with her and working on a case that involved her, and I enjoyed his struggle with it. I have to say though, if I was in Olivia’s shoes, I don’t think I would have let Grayson get away with the wishy-washy come-and-go behavior he had toward their relationship in the first half of the book. But I was glad to see that once he committed to falling for her, he was in it 100% and willing to do anything and everything to get her to be his.
Their relationship felt a little different than most romantic suspense relationships in that there was a lot of back and forth, should we be together or shouldn’t we. There seemed to be a significant amount of time between interactions with these two – they sometimes wouldn’t talk or speak for months. It was an odd relationship, and while at times it didn’t work for me, there were other times it seemed to even all out.
All in all this isn’t my favorite Garwood read, but I did enjoy it. The suspense plot played out well with the uncertainty of who was after Olivia and why. I really loved Olivia’s childhood friends and hope that we get to see more of them. And even though the core romance was, at times, difficult for me to understand, I enjoyed Olivia and Grayson together. I give Sweet Talk a C(less)
When I first read Becker last year, I was immediately pulled into the story and knew that I would need to read the next book. Becker writes some incredible suspense with thrilling and creepy villains and great romance as well. While I didn’t like Avenging Angel as much as Only Fear, there was a lot to love in this book.
Noah is back in his hometown, taking personal leave to track down the serial killer who went after his best-friend’s niece. When the investigation leads him to Vanessa, Noah is conflicted between being desperate to find the murderer, and fighting his growing attraction to Vanessa. Add in their very different lifestyles and their romance is as doomed as Noah can make it.
But when the killer sets his eyes on Vanessa as his final target to complete his gruesome paintings, Noah and Vanessa will have to fight tooth and nails to keep her safe. However, the last thing either of them expected was to have the killer be someone close to them, someone they trusted. When time begins to run out for Vanessa, Noah will be forced to fight the clock in order to keep her from becoming the final victim.
The suspense in this book was awesome! Absolutely thrilling and chilling and everything I’ve come to love and look for in a romantic suspense book. The killer was so incredibly creepy, he had me fighting goose bumps and a strong desire to sleep with the lights on. However, once the killer’s identity was revealed, things started to fall a little apart for me. There were some big timeline issues that were revealed during the killer’s explanations. Add in some motivational concerns I had, and I really struggled with the big reveal. I was bummed that the suspense aspect fell apart for me at the end, because I really wanted this one to work for me as well as Only Fear did.
In addition to the suspense fizzling out toward the end, I also felt as if the romance didn’t live up to the same level of caliber as it did in Only Fear. While I really liked both Noah and Vanessa as individual characters, there was something about their romance that just didn’t work for me. I think it was in part because it felt like at times these two were fighting harder to stay apart than together. Their romance was a slow build, with Noah being stubborn and sticking his foot in it every now and then, saying stupid things and making silly decisions. Noah constantly fought the idea of a relationship with Vanessa, despite his growing attraction. I wanted him to man up to the idea of love a lot sooner than he did.
All in all, I overall enjoyed this book. Despite the twists at the end that didn’t add up for me, the suspense of the book for the first 90% was absolutely incredible. The suspense was thick, the villain was creepy, and the overall plot with the killer and paintings was so well done. Had the end with the killer been better explained and the romance a bit more explored, I think this would have been a top RS read for the year. However, for me, it fell short. I give Avenging Angel a C-(less)
I had some really high hopes and expectations for this book, and while there were some parts I definitely enjoyed, I hate to say that overall, this one really didn’t work that well for me.
Alicia’s husband wanted to move their family back to his hometown and take over his father’s bookstore. When he was killed in action, Alicia honors his wishes and moves herself and two small children back to his childhood home. Only life isn’t what Alicia expected. She finds herself attracted to Liam, the childhood best friend of her late husband, and an entire town who doesn’t want to see the two of them together.
Despite the town’s constant butting into her life, Alicia and Liam develop a close friendship that over time blossoms into more. As scared as Alicia is to love again, the pull between her and Liam is one that she has the hardest time overcoming, and with Liam out to prove what a wonderful man he’s become, Alicia might be willing to give love a second chance.
The biggest thing that annoyed me about this book was Alicia’s supposed best friend Penny. Although they had only met once or twice before Alicia’s move, Penny swooped in and demanded the two become besties. That didn’t bother me, but it was the incessant nagging and badgering and putting down that Penny did to Alicia for her relationship with Liam. It was almost as if Penny was jealous of their friendship and developing relationship, so she constantly told Alicia she shouldn’t hang out with Liam, shouldn’t give him a chance, and many time insinuated that Alicia was somehow betraying her husband’s memory. The woman was rude and insensitive and she drove me up the wall from the moment she first stepped onto the page. Even after learning her true reasons behind it, I felt as if it didn’t justify her crappy behavior towards her supposed best friend.
I’m a big fan of romances that develop a friendship and slowly progress to love – when they are done right. While I liked the time Alicia and Liam took to become friends and then more, I also felt as if they danced around each other a lot. They had chapters of push and pull, angst and indecision that started to feel less like the slow-burn and more like wishy-washy character flaws. I wanted to believe in their romance, but it never really seemed to click for me.
Now, I’m going to reveal a huge spoiler, which is something I don’t normally do, but it was also one of the bigger plot points that made me scratch my head and wonder WHY exactly it needed to be a part of the story. **SPOILER: We find out toward the end of the book that Penny’s high school aged daughter is actually the child of Alicia’s late husband. For me, it really ruined the image of Alicia’s husband, and felt like it was a way to justify Alicia’s moving on. I didn’t think it added anything good to the story, and instead left me feeling just plain bad for everyone involved. I thought the book would have been just as strong without it, and was hugely disappointed with this information.**
All in all I was disappointed that this book didn’t live up to the potential that I initially saw in it. With a lackluster romance, and secondary characters who drove me bonkers, there wasn’t much to pull me in and keep me happy. I give Where the Heart Lies a D+(less)
Secret is back in the 4th installment of the series, and this is going to be a very difficult review for me to write. I really enjoyed the story, but the last 10-15% of the book absolutely killed me, and in many ways put a bit of a stain on the series.
Secret’s wedding to Alpha Lucas is coming closer and closer, and although Secret isn’t one hundred percent on board with the event, she is willing to do what is necessary for the pack. But someone is desperately trying to kill her – to make sure she doesn’t make it to the big day. When she and Lucas travel down to meet with her uncle, they will have to jump through hoops to get his approval on their nuptials. When they return to New York, the assassin comes closer to Secret than ever before, and she will be forced to engage in a fight to the death – and on her wedding day to boot.
I have to say, the action in this book is the best the series has to offer so far. Between the car chase, the stand off in the bridal shop, the battle in the swamp and the final showdown between Secret and her assassin, this book really was incredible. There was plenty of high octane moments when Secret kicked ass and took names, along with plenty of snark and hilarious one-liners that broke up the intensity of the scenes. I absolutely loved that aspect of the book, and think that Dean is one amazing storyteller.
I also loved getting a glimpse into Secret’s extended family. We haven’t really seen much of her family save her grandmother, and getting to meet her uncle, great-grandmother, and the siblings she never knew about was such a treat. Seeing her try to come to grips with her past and her family and all the preconceived notions she had just added another depth to Secret’s character that I absolutely loved getting to see.
Secret still amazes me with how strong of a character she is. She can fight alongside vampires and wolves, and get the better of most of them. She is funny and sarcastic and a heroine that I adore reading. However, when it comes to Secret’s love life, I have a very VERY hard time watching her act like a twelve year old girl. This continues to be the only (but HUGE) downfall of the series for me. I am a romance girl at heart, and having Secret constantly bounce around in this weird love-trapezoid-thing is starting to discolor my adoration of the series.
I have always been firmly on Team Desmond, and have never bothered to hide my dislike for Lucas. In this book, Lucas takes his asshatery skills to a whole new level, and I ended up losing a lot of respect for Secret because of the way she let him treat her. Add in how she treats Desmond – not seeming to spend a lot of time considering how her actions affect their relationship – and I wanted her to pull her head out of the sand and force her to see exactly what she was doing.
Then the ending…. ZOMG the ending. Talk about a cluster. The assassin, the wedding, the heartbreak, and the cliffhanger in which Secret is about to make the biggest mistake of her life (in my opinion). It was all a little too much for me, and if Secret goes through with what I think she does in the cliffhanger, I might have to break up with her once and for all.
All in all I am still sucked into the world of Secret and have an intense love-hate relationship with these books. They are like crack to me, with incredible storytelling and wonderful plots that are amazingly written. However, like I said, the romance (or lack thereof) aspect is starting to weigh heavily on the series and making for difficult reading. I sincerely hope Secret makes a decision in the next book. I give Keeping Secret a C+(less)
First things first, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, and while this one does leave a lot to be desired, the book more than made up for it!
Two of my favorite genres are BDSM romance and m/m, and yet I’ve always had a hard time finding these two together in a book that worked for me. Either the BDSM is light enough that I don’t consider it a true BDSM book, or the BDSM is so incredibly hard core that I become uncomfortable reading the book and end up disliking it.
Brandon is new to the lifestyle, and although he ran away from Jonathan once, he also knows that Jonathan is the only one who can teach him – who can help him discover what it is about the lifestyle that draws him. After their failed attempt last time, Brandon and Jonathan are both hesitant, but determined to see this time through.
But as Jonathan learns what makes Brandon tick, and Brandon gains more and more respect for his Dom, the two will discover that there is more than meets the eye with the other. They begin to fall for one another, and dream about what life could be like outside of their six month contract. But will Brandon and Jonathan let their everyday lives get in the way of a true relationship?
I didn’t realize that this book was a sequel to the failed first attempt at a contract between Jonathan and Brandon. But I will admit that I’m kinda glad I never read the first book. Based on both Jonathan and Brandon’s thoughts and memories of their first time together, I think the book would have gone too far into the lifestyle for me to enjoy the reading experience. Despite this being so closely tied in with the first book, there were only a few times that I wondered why the authors didn’t go into further detail about their past. It was fairly easy to read this book as a stand alone.
I was glad to see that Jonathan was quickly able to pick up on what aspects of BDSM Brandon thrived off of. There were a few scenes that were a little too intense and hard-core for me, but for the most part, I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. There weren’t any moments that made me uncomfortable or turned me off from reading all together, so I consider that a huge success.
I liked the slow build up of a relationship between these two as well. It was plain-as-day that these two had some serious chemistry between them, but the fact that the emotions were slow to build was a relief for me. I like watching a couple go from weary friendship to trust to more. Seeing them each come to terms with trusting and accepting one another is always a treat, especially if it is dragged out over time and the feelings bite them each in the butt.
The conflict at the end was also well done in my opinion. However, it was never really explained to the reader (in this book at least) that Brandon had any issues with Jonathan’s very public lifestyle. It did come as a bit of surprise to me that he would freak out so much about being tied in the public image to Jonathan, and what the consequences of that would be for him in the long run.
All that being said, I liked the way both Brandon and Jonathan handled the end of their written contract. I thought it showed an extreme amount of courage and maturity. I think it really displayed just how much each of them had grown since the beginning of the book. It made their coming together for their HEA that much sweeter in the end.
All in all I really enjoyed this book. I don’t know that I would go back and read the first in the series, but I did like getting the chance to see Brandon and Jonathan learn one another and go through the process of falling in love. I will definitely be looking for more from both of these authors in the future. I give Power Play: Awakening a C+(less)
Has: I adore this series so much and the Bloodhound heroes are definitely smouldering hot. Archer definitely hit that category for me although I have to say I loved how gentle and empathic with the heroine, Grace. But underneath that quiet and mysterious demeanor he was really protective and passionate and the scenes where he lost control *fans self*. I also loved how patient and understanding with Grace and when they commenced with their affair I liked how he let take the choice and it was clear to me how she would fall for him so quickly.
E: Archer, wow! He had so many depths that I never expected. I knew that he had to have some reason for his bitterness and why he was left to Wilder to deal with/keep an eye on but I was not expecting all of that. Archer continued to stay full of mystery to the remaining inhabitants of Crystal Springs only revealing bits and pieces of himself to Grace. One of the several things I loved about him is that despite his bitterness and disillusionment he continued to do everything he could to save the town and continue acting as a bloodhound. I don’t think many people could or would do that. I also really liked that he didn’t judge Grace for her past nor did he make it harder on her to maintain her position of respectability and trust within the town. I will also say that his smexy times *fans self* and how patient he was with Grace so very wonderful to read.
MinnChica: I’ve loved Archer from the first moment he stepped onto the Bloodhound pages. He was snarky and at times rude, he didn’t apologize for being blunt and I absolutely adored him. I was really excited to see where his story would go, and was so glad to see him not only kick a little ass, but also soften up a bit. I really enjoyed the way he processed his feelings for Grace, starting with almost a contempt like put for her, and then moving to respect and admiration and love. It was great to watch him process all those emotions, while still kicking butt and taking names.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
Has: I really liked Grace, I found her to be really realistic and relatable especially in the beginning when she’s close to escaping the town and Archer catches her. And I didn’t blame her for wanting to run especially in the claustrophobic and dead atmosphere town of Crystal Springs. Grace is a not a perfect character and she has a past which she regrets which I loved – and she definitely felt more real especially with the danger of the remaining survivors of Crystal Springs.
Her chemistry with Archer was hot and I loved how their romance evolved over the book, especially towards the end.
E: Grace was the perfect heroine for Archer. She had a past that she was trying to regain her inner respectability from and a sense of responsibility towards Crystal Springs. The opening scene as she was mentally struggling with her fears and what she had already decided to do once more was such a snapshot of her mentality. I also really liked how she interacted with Archer and shielded him from the other ‘ladies’ in the town. Not that she was possessive or anything *grin*. I enjoyed how she was strong and willful but not TSTL. Her vulnerability the first night they spent together provided a great contrast to her outer image and just built her into such a complex character.
MinnChica: Poor Grace… trying so hard to start over fresh with a new life. I love heroines who realize there were on the wrong path, and are so willing to fight for the life they want. Grace was no exception. She knew she had screwed things up royally before, and yet she desperately wanted a respectable life, a husband, a family, someone to love. I adored her inner strength, and her ability to deal with Archer, especially when he would get prickly. I thought that they were so wonderful together, and perfectly complimented each other throughout the story. I hope we get to see more of these two in future books!
3. Favorite Scene
Has: I think my favourite scene of the book is the just after the vampire attack at the basement, where they were investigating the doc’s labarotory and his experiments. The romance really progressed between Archer and Grace and there was definitely a few hot scenes, but it also illustrated a change in their relationship. And I loved how Archer really opened up to Grace with his emotions – I think its hard to convey emotional development with a lot of love scenes. But for me in Archer’s Lady it so worked for me!
E: So many good scenes in this book. Between their first smexytime, to the New Moon, to their final fight with the vampires it is hard to pick one. I think I am going to go with one towards the end when Wilder, Hunter and crew arrive at Crystal Springs and barge in on Archer and Grace. That plus the ensuing discussion (some of which was at the top of people’s lungs) was a lot of fun. To me it just crystallized how far the two of them had come along with what made Archer the way he was. It also added some interesting hints into the development of the upcoming dispute with the Guild.
MinnChica: Eeek… trying to pick just one scene always kills me, especially when there are so many to choose from. And with a novella, each scene tends to mean something special to me, so having few scenes to choose from that are all great is so hard! I think the first scene, where Archer and Grace meet in the barn is one of my favorites. Grace is trying so hard to be honorable, and yet at the same time she wants to run as far and as quickly as she can. When Archer comes in and questions her, she stands up to him while trying to preserve her dignity. The play-by-play banter was wonderful, and I loved that little moment.
4. Dislike about book
Has: I don’t think I have any dislikes other than the ending which leaves a few things open with the main mystery and plotline. But overall this was a fast-paced and sexy read!
E: I also didn’t have any dislikes. I was immersed in the story from start to finish and it stayed that way even when I re-read it.
MinnChica: Although I love reading novellas, there are just some authors who should only write books that take hours to read. Rogers is one of those authors that I could read all day, every day. I adored the story, it was wonderful from start to finish!
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Has: Archer’s Lady for me is another solid installment which is fast becoming one of my favourite post apocalyptic PNR series. This was a hot and engaging romance and memorable characters packed full of mayhem and action I definitely can’t wait for the next book!
I give Archer’s Lady a B+
E: Moira Rogers has provided yet another stellar installment in their Bloodhounds series. Each story seems to get better and better as more things unfold about the world and its characters. I can always go back and re-read the entire series and feel like I am enjoying it for the first time again. It is rare to have books that give me that sense during multiple re-readings. The smexytimes were hawt, the suspense danger was intense, the emotional growth between Archer and Grace was great to see. I am so looking forward to the next one.
I give Archer’s Lady an A.
MinnChica: I adore the Bloodhound series and how unique it really is. The paranormal and steampunk elements are blended together perfectly and the world is so fun to jump back into. I’ve long adored Archer, and was glad to see him get his happily ever after. I also really liked being able to see the story progress, find out a bit more about the Bloodhounds, and meet the (hopefully!) heroine of the next novella. I still love Rogers and everything they write. These books are sexy and fun and wonderful short reads! I give Archer’s Lady a B+(less)
After the somewhat disappointing last Fool’s Gold read, I was somewhat hesitant to read this book. We found out that Charlie has a very traumatic experience with men in her past, and I knew this book would either go extremely well, or really bad. I’m happy to say that I was glad with the way Mallery handled the whole ordeal.
Clay is back in Fool’s Gold, looking to start his own business with the help of his brothers. The one thing he didn’t expect was to have no one take him seriously as a man, looking onto to his underwear model days as the sum of his persona. Clay also doesn’t want to look for romance, the death of his wife still weighs heavily on him, and the thought of falling in love again scares him tremendously.
Charlie wants to start her own family, but given her deep fear of men, is looking for other options. Knowing she needs to be well balanced to give her child all she can, she turns to Clay for help in getting past her fears. She proposes he help her get used to the touch and feel of a man, and Clay is more than happy to help. But as they work past Charlie’s fears and take on the town together, will the tangled web of emotions be enough to pull them apart?
Since we never really got the chance to know Clay before this book, I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be the man for Charlie, but I was so glad to see them interact together. It was obvious that Clay was still in love with his dead wife, and although he enjoyed Charlie’s friendship, he also was willing to go super slow with her and her insecurities. I really liked Clay, I thought his character had so much depth, and as Charlie slowly peeled off the layers of him, I liked him more and more.
Although I liked the way that Clay and Charlie handled her fear with intimacy, I was also a little hesitant with how quickly Charlie seemed to get over her deep seeded fears. She definitely had to build up to allowing Clay intimate touches, but she never really talked to anyone, never went to therapy, never worked out her concerns with a professional, and I didn’t like that aspect of her “recovery” being glazed over.
The romance between these two was great though. The book was full of sexual tension and a slow build up of both an emotional and sexual commitment. They started as mutual acquaintances, worked their way up to friends, lovers and then so much more. I love when a romance slowly builds up like that over time, especially when it’s done well.
All in all I was much happier with this Fool’s Gold installment than the last book. I truly enjoyed both Charlie and Clay as individuals, as well as a couple. They complimented each other so well, and really brought out the best in one another. I hope that Mallery continues on with even more great Fool’s Gold books. I give All Summer Long a B-(less)
Holy Karen Rose! I read my first Rose book last year when the first in the new Baltimore series – You Belong to Me – and the only thing I remember is being blown away. Well, let me say that Rose blew me away once again!
Paige has run away from the nightmares and overbearing friends in MN to work as a Baltimore PI. When she takes a case pro-bono, she never expected it would turn into a murdered client and shady figureheads across the city. As she works to uncover the secrets left to her by her client who dies in her arms, Paige is thrown in way over her head.
Grayson is a dedicated attorney who has never doubted his skill in the courtroom. When he finds out that he may have been an unwilling pawn in a setup, he will partner with Paige to get the truth, whatever the costs. As he and Paige fight to stay alive day in and day out, they uncover dirty cops, district attorneys, politicians and a scandal decades in the making. But the closer they get to the truth, the hotter the water they are in. Will they be able to unravel the mystery, while keeping each other alive?
I have to admit, reading Rose takes a lot of concentration and brain power. There is so much going on, so many subplots, and an endless number of twists and turns. As soon as I was done reading, I had to go and veg out, because my brain hurt from trying to process all the information, read into every word said, and try to figure out the mystery along with Paige and Grayson.
The mystery and suspense aspects of the book were AMAZING. I can’t even say enough good things about how incredible Rose is as a storyteller. The whodunit aspect kept weaving this way and that and just when I thought I knew exactly who the murder was, Rose would throw in another tidbit and I would be sent back to square one, scratching my head. I loved following Paige and Grayson as they uncovered clues, but also being able to get a look at the other players was a fun bit as well.
So many times when an author excels at the mystery or suspense portion of the book, it seems as if the other aspects don’t stand out as well. But with Rose, the romance was just as vital to the book, and just as well done as everything else. I loved and adored both Paige and Grayson. They had their own flaws and idiosyncrasies, yet they were both fiercely devoted to their work, and finding the truth in everything they did. I believed in them both and when they came together – rather explosively, I might add – I believed in them together. I cheered them on, prayed for them to be together, and hoped they would open enough to each other to let them heal one another.
I am so anxious to see where Rose goes next with the series. There were so many exceptional supporting characters that I can’t wait to find out more about. Especially Daphne, Grayson’s loyal and snarky co-worker as well as the rest of the Carter clan (Grayson’s adoptive family). When I read that the next book would be about Daphne and Grayson’s brother, the stoic FBI agent, I already started counting down the days until November 8th.
All in all I was once again floored by Rose’s writing and storytelling. The characters were flawed, but written flawlessly. The story was gritty and violent at times, but also told an incredible story that took us on a wild ride. I will absolutely be making my way through the Rose backlist (although it’ll be slowly, as she breaks my brain with the awesomeness that is her writing). Romantic suspense and mystery fans alike should all check out this book. I give No One Left to Tell a B+(less)
I have such a soft spot for small town romances, and the Fool’s Gold Series by Susan Mallery has always been some of the best. In this book, we get to see the not-so-stereotypical librarian Annabelle meet her match with the horse trainer Shane.
Shane is back in Fool’s Gold to breed his new racehorses close to his family. What he never expected was to be put in charge of his mother’s menagerie of older animals while trying to breed new horses, building a home and find the kind of woman he can settle down with. He wants the nice quiet librarian type, but despite Annabelle’s job, she doesn’t seem to fit the bill. When Shane agrees to teach her to ride for the festival, he will have to fight the attraction that he wants nothing more than to deny.
Annabelle only wants to find someone who will love her unconditionally. She is sick of changing herself for others, and wants the kind of happily ever after that she sees all of her friends getting. Annabelle is attracted to Shane, but after he compares her to his ex-wife, she has to shield her heart from falling too deeply. But Shane’s kisses melt her resolve and Annabelle soon finds that she can’t help but he head-over-heels for the one man she shouldn’t be.
I really liked Shane after Summer Days, and I was excited to see how his pairing with Annabelle would work out. It was obvious that Shane still held some nasty grudges against his ex, and he didn’t seem ready to let go of that anger. I had strong hopes that Annabelle would be able to quickly snap him out of his funk, but Shane was a lot more attached to that hatred than I thought he would be. It took quite a bit on Annabelle’s part in order to pull Shane out of his funk and get him to the point where he was ready to love again. There were even a few parts where I was ready to give up on Shane and find another heartthrob for Annabelle.
I really liked Annabelle’s character. Although she is loyal to her friends, and not the typical librarian, she is still shy and reserved. She gave up a lot of herself in her previous marriage and is ready to do whatever it takes to stand on her own two feet and be her own woman. She doesn’t want to live under anyone’s thumb, and although she doesn’t think so – Annabelle is an extremely strong woman.
I will admit that I was a little disappointed in the relationship between Annabelle and Shane. Like I said, Shane had a hard time letting go of the pain and anger in his past, and he took a lot of that anger out on Annabelle. He was difficult to deal with at times, and while he treated her with respect, he always kept a part of himself walled off from her. I didn’t like their romantic journey as much as the other Fool’s Gold couples, and hope that Shane has to work VERY hard at keeping Annabelle happy in future books.
I am very excited to see where things go next for Charlie, the last in the trio of girlfriends to get paired off. We find out quite a bit about Charlie’s past, and I am so excited to see how she grows as a woman and character, especially since she’ll be matched with the youngest Stryker brother – underwear model Clay.
All in all this wasn’t my favorite Fool’s Gold Series, and the one that had the weakest romance, in my opinion. I was glad to see Annabelle finally get her HEA, and getting the backstory from the Charlie was a huge plus. I’m anxious to read the next story and hopefully get back to the love stories that Mallery is known for. I give Summer Nights a C+(less)
I’m fairly new to the Griffin bandwagon, but when I discovered her late last year, I gobbled up her writing as quickly as I could. The Tracer’s Series has quickly become one of my go-to romantic suspense series.
Kelsey loves her job as a forensic anthropologist, and when she stumbles on something odd in the Phillippines, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of one huge conspiracy. When she witnesses her ex-fiance’s murder at the hands of his FBI partner, Kelsey knows she needs to hide out and use her skills and resources from the elite Delphi Group to find out exactly what’s going on.
Gage’s history with Kelsey is more complicated than either of them like to think about. But Gage still loves her, and is willing to risk just about anything to keep her safe. The only thing he doesn’t realize is that he may very well be risking his SEAL career by finding her, protecting her, and keeping her off the grid. As they stay underground and follow the clues, more and more details surrounding the ever growing conspiracy are revealed. But when they discover who all is involved, will Kelsey and the Delphi folks be able to gather enough evidence to clear the innocent and get the guilty?
Griffin is a master storyteller. When it comes to romantic suspense, it’s obvious she does her homework and it shows throughout. I love the introduction of a SEAL hero, because let’s be honest, there’s nothing sexier than an Alpha-hero military man!
This story moved quick! From the Philippines to the US east coast than west, the story transitioned FAST. Griffin has this amazing ability to keep me engaged. She slows down for the hero and heroine to catch their breaths, work on their relationship and get it in little sexy time, all while keeping the suspense high. I’ve come to really appreciate an author who can keep up that high-octane action and mystery, all while keeping the story believable at the same time. And, in my opinion, it’s one of Griffin’s great strengths.
I have to admit that I fell for Gage much more than Kelsey. While I liked Kelsey and thought she was an interesting character, I just didn’t feel as much of a connection with her. Gage was still a little beat up over the death of his team leader (and Kelsey’s uncle), he’s hurt over his breakup with Kelsey and the only thing he has going for him is his SEAL team. Yet he bends over backward and risks everything he loves most in the world for the chance to keep Kelsey safe and make a life with her. I could see his desire for her and thought he did a great job of showing her just how much she mattered to him.
There also was an underlying second-chance story with the romance, but it didn’t stick out as much for me. While I could tell Gage was looking for another shot at love, Kelsey never seemed to acknowledge it. I felt as if she was much more concerned with solving the case than she was with building something with Gage. It didn’t really pick up (romance-wise, for me) until almost three-quarters of the way through. I would have liked to see a bit more from Kelsey on that front, but enjoyed the romance just the same.
All in all Griffin has another great Tracer’s novel on her hands. The case and suspense aspects were done so well, keeping the readers on their toes while leaving a trail of breadcrumbs as well. Add in the romance between two headstrong people who love their careers more than anything and watching them figure out if what they have together is more important…it was a recipe for book success! This series continues to rock and I can’t wait for more. I give Scorched a B.(less)
After reading the first book in this new series, I was hooked on Levine’s writing and the world that she had created. Between the sexy military men and the cowboy setting, I knew that these books would be something special.
When we last left Ty, he was literally left for dead, fighting to stay alive after being hunted down by the terrorist he and his team have been fighting for years. I was so worried about him at the end of the last book, so when we picked up right where we left off, I was immediately thrust back into that nervous place. But of course Ty is able to get out and get himself safe, only in doing so he runs into Eden, and must help her and her friends escape the hands of some local thugs.
Eden doesn’t want to trust Ty, or his band of brothers, but after the local gang tries taking a shot at her, she doesn’t have much of a choice. At least her skills as a dog sniffing trainer come in handy with Ty’s team. As things heat up between Eden and Ty, the danger with the local biker gang, and the terrorist hunting them down reaches a boiling point. With bullets whizzing by and both their lives on the line, will Eden and Ty make it out alive?
I honestly believe that Levine has something special with the Red Team series. It’s like Cindy Gerard’s Black Ops Inc. guys, only they are fighting their own private war in America’s homeland. That and Levine seems to make it a point to take some serious issues in each book. In the first book, we watched as Rocco dealt with some serious PTSD issues, and Levine did not sugar coat it in the slightest. With this book, I knew that from Ty’s reaction to being home, there was probably some abuse in his past with his father. However, as Ty’s history unraveled, I was shocked and stunned by the level of abuse that Ty suffered as a child. When I say that Levine doesn’t hold her punches, she really doesn’t. Some of Ty’s memories might be difficult (or impossible) for some to read, and although I was absolutely sick for Ty, it explained so much about him.
While I enjoyed Eden’s character, it took me awhile to get there with her. She came across as spoiled and I worried that she would pull of some TSTL moves. While she was reluctant to trust Ty and his team, she also didn’t seem to take any unnecessary risks, and was willing to admit when she needed Ty’s help. It wasn’t until she went back home with Ty, and did her dog sniffing thing that I really started enjoying her character.
The romance between Ty and Eden was also a little shaky at first. I’m a huge fan of books where the hero chases the heroine, and I loved that Ty was the one to pursue Eden relentlessly. He knew that he wanted her from the beginning, and he wasn’t afraid to fight for the chance to be with her. The fact that Eden was so reluctant wasn’t a huge surprise to me, but I also hoped that she could see just how much Ty was fighting for her, and them.
The suspense aspect of this series is one that is continuously ongoing. With each step that the Red Team takes forward in taking out the terrorist, they also take a step back, or a step to the side. When one battle is won, another is lost, or another arises. But I have to admit, for as unlikely as the whole plot is, it absolutely sucks me in and keeps me on the seat of my pants with all the twists and turns. I can’t wait to see where the series goes next!
All in all I enjoyed this following up novel in the Red Team series. While the first book in the series still stands out more to me in terms of romance and characters, I did end up falling for both Ty and Eden as well as their romance. I can’t wait to see which of the team members will be up next, and where the overall series goes. I give Shattered Valor a B(less)
I downloaded McDavid’s novella that kicked off this new series, and I was sucked into the small town and the folks within it. So when I saw the first novel pop up on NetGalley, I knew I would have to get my dose of sexy cowboy.
Flynn and Ace are next door neighbors, business competitors, and come from families that can rival the Hatfield and Mccoy rivalry. But they have also been friends, and as kids were even star-crossed lovers. Now that they are adults, Flynn is hoping they might have a chance to pick up their relationship and move past the family BS and be together. What Flynn never expected was to get knocked up and wondering if the love of her life only wants to be with her for their child, or if he actually cares.
Ace has put his family before himself for longer than he can remember. He picks up the slack day in and day out, and the thought of adding a baby to the mix scares him as much as it excites him. Given the fact that Flynn is the mother makes Ace that much more excited. He’s wanted her for longer than he can remember, but what does a workaholic vet and rancher have to offer his dream woman?
I actually quite liked this book. There is something about the friends to lovers, star crossed lovers, secret baby, cowboy hero that just does it for me. Throw them all into one, and while it can be a little overloaded at times, I really liked both Ace and Flynn and their romance.
One of the things I really liked about this book was despite the fact that Flynn was head over heels in love with Ace, she also stuck to her guns. She didn’t want to marry him for the baby, she wanted love and affection and adoration and all the good things that come with marriage. While it was obvious that saying no broke her heart a little each time, I liked seeing her stick to her desires, and making Ace really work at courting her, wooing her. It made for a fun romance read.
While I liked Ace and was glad to see Flynn push him into really romancing her, he did annoy me at times. He was so wrapped up in his own life, his ranch, his family, that he had a hard time stepping out of the box and looking at life from another angle. He couldn’t see why Flynn wasn’t falling at his feet at the idea of a convenient marriage, and he couldn’t seem to get over his brother’s faults to see the man he was becoming. I definitely wanted to find some way to help Ace snap outta his little bubble and get him to see what was going on in everyone else life around him.
I have to say though, the little dates that Ace took Flynn on were sweet, and the romance was one that I enjoyed reading from start to finish. It was obvious that Ace tried, and once the lights started coming on for him, he really did try everything he could think of to get Flynn to stay with him, be with him.
I’m a little anxious to read the remainder of the books in this ongoing series, not because I don’t like the secondary characters, but more because the authors will be switching from book to book. When I saw the list of other authors, I didn’t recognize any of their names off hand, and while some of the secondary characters intrigued me enough to give it a shot, I will be a little hesitant to read more of the series.
All in all I really enjoyed this sweeter cowboy romance book. It wasn’t as smutty as most of the other cowboy books I’ve read, and I liked the change. Both Flynn and Ace were great characters, and watching them navigate the murky waters of feuding families and a complicated past with a baby in their future, was a sweet experience. I enjoy the theme of the series being all about one particular horse as well, I think it’s a neat way to tie together the characters and town. I give Aiden: Loyal Cowboy a C+(less)
I love reading anthologies. I’m a big fan of finding new-to-me authors who I may have never read before, and while I’ve enjoyed stories by Black, Day and Walker before, I’m also a sucker for a hot guy with handcuffs. So when this book showed up on my doorstep, I snatched it up and tucked it away for a rainy day.
Arresting Desire Jon was an undercover FBI agent for a mob family, and now that he is done with the case, he will do anything and everything to prove his brother’s innocence in a judge killing case. The only thing he wasn’t prepared for was having to take Lucia with him on the case. He’s long desired Lucia, but was always afraid to act on those desires. With his undercover work being done and over, he is now ready for more.
I have to say, I think this was my least favorite of all the stories. While I like Black’s writing and the story was engaging, there was also a little something missing with the romance. While I believed in the lust and desire between Jon and Lucia, the BDSM aspects of the relationship were pretty tame, and then at the end Jon wanted to collar Lucia, which seemed to be a little extreme for the relationship to date. While I could see them as a couple who might experiment more with the harder BDSM aspects down the line in their relationship, I had a hard time buying the collaring with the lack of intensity in the relationship shown on the book pages.
I did really like the mystery-case aspect of this short story though. I liked watching Lucia’s mind work through the clues her father left her, and get to see her and Jon find out the truth about so many different loose threads in their lives. I give Arresting Desire a C+
On Fire This was my absolute favorite story in the anthology, Day is such a talented writer. Jared is called into a small town to look into a series of arsons that seem to be taking on the characteristic of a serial arsonist case. When Jared meets Darcy, local fire inspector, he has two fire problems to deal with: the one in town, and the one in his pants. The two immediately hit it off and the sexual attraction rages strong. They easily fall into a relationship, all why trying to figure out who is starting the town fires, and why they all seem to link back to Darcy.
I wanted to cry when this book was over… not because it was bad, or felt as if I wasted my time. No, I wanted to cry a) because it was over and b) because it wasn’t a full length novel that I could spend hours getting lost in. I loved the relationship between Darcy and Jared. While they started purely sexual, it was obvious that the emotions and feelings came quickly for these two, and I adored that aspect of their relationship as well. They were so wonderful and great together, and I just didn’t want their story to end.
The mystery surrounding the fire and all that drama was also so incredibly well done. Day constantly kept me guessing, and I was never quite too sure who was behind it all. I was floored by the end of the book, and never would have guessed who was behind it all. An exceptional story with a romance that had me wishing – desperately – for more. I give On Fire an A
The Unwilling I really enjoy the FBI Psychics series by Walker, and was pleasantly surprised to find this novella in the anthology. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was a treat to read about Colby and Mica. Mica is working as a cop and on the case of a murderer she can’t nail down. When her captain tells her to bring in Psychic help, she finds herself turning to Colby, her once love and partner at the FBI. Colby has missed Mica, and although he fears using his psychic powers, will do anything he can to help her. But when the clues point towards a cop, will Mica trust in Colby’s power.
I really liked the main storyline with the murderer and the ongoing case that Walker created for this story. I think she does an incredible job writing believable and thrilling and somewhat creepy romantic suspense stories that pull the reader in. This was no different. I especially enjoyed watching Colby and Mica come to grips with their psychic powers while working together to solve the case.
The romance was a bit frustrating for me, only because I could see how perfect these two were together, and they kept fighting it at every turn. I wanted them to have an easier time to their HEA, and while I got their hesitancies, I also wanted things to go smoothly for them. But, in the end, I was glad things worked out the way they did, and that these two were able to come to common ground, admit their feelings, and move on. I give The Unwilling a B
All in all this was a wonderful anthology, and definitely worth the purchase. The sexy times are hot from start to finish, the mystery aspect of each story was incredibly well done. Fans of romantic suspense will enjoy the steamy bits, and the smutty fans will enjoy the mystery woven in. An all around wonderful anthology. I give Hot in Handcuffs a B+(less)
I was so excited about this book, mainly because the Young Brothers Series were some of my first and favorite PNR reads, and Stepp Sisters Trilogy were fun and sexy contemporary reads. But for some reason, the 2nd Devilishly book just didn’t work for me.
Michael is back among the world and looking to kick a lot of demon ass. Instead, things have changed in the years he has been frozen, and killing demons on the street is no longer acceptable. In an effort to help Michael learn the new ways, he gets put in the mailroom of Hot! Magazine, keeping tabs on the demons in the organization. After just a few days on the job, Michael finds Liza and everything changes. He isn’t sure what exactly her deal is with the demons, but he knows there is something special about her.
Liza refused to sign over her soul, so instead she is possessed by the most annoying demon imaginable. She doesn’t want “Boris” to be able to read Michael, so once they start to pursue a relationship, she begins drugging the demon with allergy medicine. Unfortunately, as she and Michael get closer, the demons become more and more skeptical of her. Will Liza and Michael be able to make a real go at it before Liza’s soul gets sent to hell?
The premise of this one had such promise, but it all seemed to fizzle out fairly quickly for me. I did like a few things, and the beginning with having Michael adjust to life after being frozen for a few decades was really well done. However, it wasn’t a theme that was carried very far into the book. I liked that both Michael and Liza were trying to keep hidden the fact that they knew about the paranormal world from one another. It was fun to see them dancing around the subject, and was one of the stronger aspects of their relationship. And while I’ve come to expect some funny and hilarious situations from Love, other than Liza’s possession and a few one-liners, there wasn’t the same level of fun that I found so charming about the Young Brothers series.
The book started off a bit slow, and didn’t really seem to pick up much steam the further I got into it. While the world-building was well done and a different take on demons than we normally see in mainstream fiction, it was also one that didn’t seem to hold my attention as well as others. I kept waiting for that spark, and I just never saw it come through on the pages. Then, once the truth came out between Michael and Liza, it seemed as if the book ended somewhat suddenly with a perfect HEA.
All in all, I wasn’t as satisfied with this book as I had hoped I would be. The fun and sexy feeling that I expected from a Love novel just weren’t there. The romance didn’t live up to my expectations, and instead felt slow to start, and rushed to finish. While the book had a really interesting premise, the execution just wasn’t what I was expecting. I give Devilishly Sexy a D+(less)
MinnChica: I’ve long been a Julie James fan, and the FBI/US Attorney series are some of my favorite contemporary romance books out there. In this installment, we get to see two lawyers from very different careers fall for each other. In this book, James seemed to change things up a little. While there was still a bit of a mystery, it didn’t take up nearly as much of the book as the past few stories have. This book focused more on the relationship between Cade and Brooke, and I loved the fact that James also gave us quite a few more sexy scenes than is typical for her books!
Lou: Like Minn, I’ve been a big fan of her current series featuring sexy FBI/Attorney characters. Julie James always delivers great romances, and Love Irresistibly is another hit in the series for me. Cade and Brooke were great characters and I loved their banter, especially tough cookie, Brooke, who wouldn’t let Cade walk all over her. Cade needs Brooke to catch a corrupt senator at one of her work’s restaurants. Brooke is the company’s lawyer, and she’s very loyal to the company and to her boss. She knows that she simply can’t say no, but she also has to protect the company. I loved Brooke’s first interactions with Cade. She fought with him toe to toe and they were a perfect match. The only downer to the book for me was the slow plot compared to previous books.
MinnChica: The plot did seem to move a little slow in comparison to previous books, however I think this was mainly because of the lack of hard-hitting action in this story. I felt as if this book took on more of a focus with the romance and the self-discovery that both Brooke and Cade had to go through. I liked the inner struggle Cade had with his father, and having to deal with the baggage of that fallout. I also loved that while Brooke didn’t have to deal with anything as emotionally draining as Cade, she struggled with her work-life balance, and the direction she wanted to take her career. It’s a problem that so many people face, and I thought James did an excellent job of showcasing that struggle.
Lou: I loved the side-story with Cade’s younger brother, and Cade dealing with the way his Father abandoned him. And not once did he ever take it out his baby brother which made Cade into a great guy. Cade had some serious baggage with his childhood but he didn’t let him turn him into a douchebag. I also loved the interactions with his friends. Julie James creates some great interactions with her characters. I rank her and Jill Shalvis at the top for creating great friendships. The romance was the main focus of the book and I loved how Brooke and Cade weren’t sure about where it was going–and there wasn’t any big drawn out arguments about it.
MinnChica: I enjoyed the side story with Cade’s brother as well, it added a little something extra to the overall story. And like you said, I think the fact that there wasn’t any kind of blow out fight between Cade and Brooke made their romance that much sweeter. They were going along with the flow of their relationship, and then when it came to do or die time, they both evaluated their lives and situations and made a conscious decision as to how to move forward. I always like these simplistic romances once in awhile, because it reminds me so much of a real life romance.
Lou: This romance was simple–and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There wasn’t any huge big black moment that tore the couple apart, and then the conclusion that brought them rushing back together. Brooke and Cade’s romance was tension filled, romantic and no drama. Sometimes you want a romance that falls naturally into place, and Love Irresistibly does that in a fabulous way. It’s a much slower paced book but I loved the characters Julie James created. I can’t wait to see who we will have next as our hero and heroine. B+
MinnChica: All in all this was a different romance for the James FBI/US Attorney series, and I really liked it. The simplistic romance was a breath of fresh air, and I loved that the story focused on the romance between Brooke and Cade, as well as their own personal development. I’m anxious to see who James has in store for us next as well, as I love all the secondary characters in this series.
MinnChica: I’ve long been a huge fangirl of Arend, and her Granite Lake books are amongst some of my favorites. This novella was no exception. I love that these shorter books are so fun and light and are so easy to get into. I loved the idea of a cruise ship for just shifters, and both Keri and Jared were such fun characters!
E: It was great getting to see the Granite Lake wolves again if only for a few minutes. I liked the setup with Jared running onto the cruise ship and only much later discovering that his temporary hiding spot turned into something much longer. I think the mental arguments that both Jared and Keri told themselves was probably my favorite part of the novella.
MinnChica: I loved that we were left a little in the dark about Jared. I liked finding out as Keri did about his family and his job within the pack and overall wolf culture. It was fun to watch that unfold at the same time as his relationship with Keri developed. I also liked the twist with Jared and his sense of smell, or lack there of. I thought it was a great and neat little twist. One of the things I love about Arend and the Granite Lake series is that she is kinda known for putting these little twists in her story. I still have a super soft spot for Robyn, the deaf Alpha from book one. She’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
E: Oh my goodness, Jared certainly had a lot underneath his playboy exterior. I really enjoyed how we learned what Jared’s “huge problem” was and I felt poor Keri’s shock when she discovered who his family really was. I also liked how they were both determined to support and protect their mate from an issue involving onboard ship security. It reminded me a little bit of the story, A Gift of the Magi, only without the bittersweet ending. I do really like how the wolves aren’t all powerful, perfect creatures but suffer from some of the same permanent ailments or disabilities that you would see in a normal population. It makes the characters and world that much more approachable in my opinion.
MinnChica: Oh definitely, I couldn’t agree with you more. I liked the little mini-suspense plot of who the cruise thief was as well. I thought it played nicely into the story, and was a good chance for conflict between Jared and Keri’s relationship, as well as overall to the story. I loved that they both tried to cover for the other, and eventually were able to prove just who was behind it all. It was a quick and well-done addition to the novella. I have to admit though, I really hope we get to see more of these all shifter cruises, I loved how fun and wild and free everyone was onboard the ship!!
E: I really only have one thing to say. I know Ms Arend finished the main arc for her Granite Lake wolves and she really doesn’t have to go back there but she did mention other shifter breeds and this cruiseline/ship so reading a (or several) novels set on cruise ships would be wonderful. Thinking back on the one I went on and stories I have heard about others… oh the fun that could be had *grin*. Anyways back to this novella, the mini-suspense was needed to ground the story and take it from all hormone based into something much more rounded.
MinnChica: All in all this was another knockout wolfie novella from Arend. There was plenty of sexual tension and rocking good times between Jared and Keri. The suspense plot and cruise ship theme were fun and engaging and kept the story moving at a quick pace that made the novella seem to fly by. This series continues to remain one of my favorite novella PNR series. I give Wolf Line a B
E: This was a fun entertaining read for me. I never knew what was going to happen next in the continuing hijinks. The cruise director and her need to continually move, Jared’s lack of initial movement regarding Keri’s attraction, Keri’s attempts to avoid Jared, not to mention the rest of the support crew and passengers kept me laughing. I enjoyed the glimpse into the less life in danger side of the shifter world. I give Wolf Line a B(less)
Lou: The Fast Track series is definitely a must read for contemporary romance fans and for fans of sport romances. I adored the first two books in the series, and enjoyed the third but skipped the other books after reading the not so great reviews. I’m glad to say that Jacked Up ends the series on a great note. Jacked Up features one of the most adorable and funny heroes, and a heroine with a spunky attitude that doesn’t want to make you slap her. They complimented each other so brilliantly, and I loved that Nolan wasn’t a hotshot race driver, but one of the stock car mechanics. He wasn’t a rich playboy, but your normal average guy who happened to be funny, romantic, and loveable.
MinnChica: I’m a huge fan of sports romance books, so when I first found McCarthy, I was so excited for each and every book in the series. After the 4th book, I was extremely disappointed and skipped the 5th in the series. When I saw that Eve would be the heroine of the 6th and final book in the series, I couldn’t miss the chance to read this one, since I’ve been a big fan of Eve since the beginning. Add in the sexy and hilarious and sweet Nolan, and there were so many things about this book that I absolutely adored! The romance between these two was so incredible, and really carried the story from start to finish.
Lou: I agree that their romance carried the entire story. Their banter and witty remarks kept me entertained throughout. I loved Eve’s no nonsense attitude, but there was a vulnerability in her that Nolan spotted straight away. The way in which he teased her and almost tamed her was so much fun. Eve could be bitchy in her remarks, and Nolan had a way about him that managed to butter up Eve. Eve was miserable in her job, and I couldn’t blame her. Her dream of being a driver never happened and she had to watch her two brothers become successful at what she dreamt of as a child.
MinnChica: I have to say, I adored Nolan a lot more than Eve. He was funny and laid-back and he treated Eve with respect and actually listened to what she wanted, unlike all the other men in her life (her brothers, father, other drivers…) Nolan was head over heels for Eve from the beginning, and he went after her like a dog after a bone, and he did it in a way that wasn’t too Alpha and domineering. Although Eve was obviously miserable, she was a little bit of a downer at times. I was glad when she finally took charge of her life and made some big changes, but I wanted her to quit bitching so much and take action! There were moments when I wanted Nolan to drag her kicking and screaming out of her funk….
Lou: Nolan has to be in the group of my favourite heroes. There needs to be more Nolans in romance books. He was such a nice and sweet guy. The way he treated Eve made my heart melt, and how he teased her and joked with her in the beer festival was hilarious. His superman hold with the beer can and the stuffed cat was great humour. His personality really shone. Eve was such a contrast to him, and yeah at times I wished she would take Nolan at face value and not try and think there was an ulterior motive. I hated the prenup at the end and how she treated Nolan. The ending was so different to the entire book that it brought the grade down for me. As I was reading and saw what was happening, I saw that I was at 70% at my Kindle — and I kept thinking surely you can’t squeeze all this towards the last quarter of the book. It was such a rush job that I felt that it did a disservice to the book.
MinnChica: The ending of this one didn’t work for me at all! It seemed like the conflict with the prenup was rushed in at the very end, and all of a sudden they were apart and back together within the last 20-25% of the book. It seemed, to me, that the conflict and resolution came from left field. I think the book would have been much better without that added in. It really did bring down my reading high at the end, because it was so rushed and felt like it didn’t really add anything additional to the story. However, that was really the ONLY gripe I had about this book. Everything else – the characters, the romance, the moments with Eve and Nolan – were all so well done and made for an enjoyable read.
Lou: Again it comes to one of the most over used plot devices in romance and it’s the forced separation where the hero and heroine need to part before coming back together. This forced separation was not well plotted because it was done within a few pages towards the end. And I’m so annoyed about it because like you it’s my only gripe about the novel. Everything else I loved. I wouldn’t have minded if the story was a little longer to explore Nolan and Eve’s relationship. In fact, I would have welcomed it rather than the abrupt ending. I was glad we saw Eve interacting with her brothers, but my gosh they weren’t exactly the nicest to her. All in all, this book ends the series on a high, but the ending was just…blegh. It has a sexy and sweet romance with a hero that pretty much rules. I give Jacked Up a B-. The B- is for the ending which was a doozy.
MinnChica: I would have liked the book to be a little longer as well, then it wouldn’t have felt as if things were so rushed and jammed together to wrap things up. All in all I really loved this book right up until the very end. Like I said, the romance was so sweet and wonderful. Nolan was the perfect beta hero who supported and stood by Eve, in her good moments and her bad. Eve really grew as a character and got the chance to step out of a life that was slowly killing her and realize just what she wanted and how to get it. I was glad to see the series end on a high note as well, I just wish the end was more flushed out. I give Jacked Up a B-.(less)
When I first picked up Adair a few years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I have to say though, I’m so glad I picked that first book up and continued to read her others, because I know that I’ll always get a pulse-pounding fabulous romance.
Logan has been searching off the coast of Peru for sometime now, and when he fishes a woman out of the water, he is instantly hesitant about her. Given her extensive knowledge of the treasure he is hunting, he is ever more concerned that she is just a plant by his enemies to thwart his mission. Little does he know, Dani is on the run.
Dani misses the life she ran from in DC, but being alive and safe for the first time in a long time is more precious to her than she ever imagined. While she knows that Logan doesn’t trust her, there is something about him that makes her feel like she can relax and not look over her shoulder. But when things on his boat start going wrong, Dani worries that either her past is catching up to her, or Logan’s enemies will do her in before the man who is hunting her.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I adore these books. They are filled with fun and sexy locations, lots of action and tons of nail biting suspense. I love the tropical ocean feel that these books have, especially when we got the chance to spend most of the book on a yacht that had me dreaming of cruising along the coast of South America.
I can’t say enough good things about Adair’s ability to write incredible, nail-biting suspense. Between Logan’s adversaries in the business world, modern day pirates, and Dani’s past, we were constantly left wondering who was behind every mishap, every detail that went wrong as the book progressed. The story was woven together so well I couldn’t put the book down once the action started and things started getting good.
Although I loved both Logan and Dani, I did feel as if they somewhat rushed into a relationship. They both weren’t sure if they could trust one another, and yet they were ready to declare their everlasting love after not really knowing each other all that well. That being said, I did love these two together. They both brought out the best parts of each other. Dani was able to feel safe and loved and adored, she was able to build up her self-esteem and all the faith she lost in other people and herself during her time with Logan. On the other hand, Logan seemed to really mellow out, want to settle down once he and Dani got close. And although he wasn’t looking for it, he wanted someone to love and have love him back.
Without giving away too many spoilers, I do have to say that the man from Dani’s past is UBER EVIL! There were some moments while reading that made me a little uncomfortable. The details and descriptions of what exactly Dani went through, what she was forced to do and see were not easy to read, and those who get squeamish should prepare themselves before settling down to open this book.
All in all I really enjoyed the third installment of the Cutter Cay series. The suspense and action were jam packed into this story and had me at the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. The romance was slow to build up, with a lot of sexual tension. However, once those two fell into each others’ arms, things moved (almost too) quickly. Logan and Dani really are two exceptional characters and ones that pulled me into the story and had me invested in their lives from the first page. I give Vortex a B+(less)