Jesus, this was so bad. What is it with Banks these days? I don't think I've read one of her more recent stories and been thrilled. I enjoy reading erotica, but this was embarrassing, and no, not because of the sex. Taking It All reads more like one of her first efforts at writing.
I was 80% of the way through the book…yes, 80…before it started to get interesting. As it was Banks padded this out thoroughly (and excessively) with Tate and Chessy yammering over and over and over about their marriage, about Tate's obsession with work. Stop, I get it already!
Yeah, I can hear ya now. Why would I bother reading this far when I so desperately wanted to slide it onto the DNF shelf? I've always thought Banks was a good writer… and 'cause I was hoping to get to the erotic bits, of course.
Sad, isn't it? Eighty percent of the story was oh, woe with some nice sidebars when Chessy met up with her friends. Banks was consistent in having her friends yammer on and on about the same issues over and over and over as well. In case you didn't pick up on it, that was sarcasm. I did like the relationships and support she got from her friends and their significant others. It's how friends, best friends, should react.
The idea of the story is sweet, and I like that Tate finally gets it. But the manner in which Banks goes about it is not her usual style. Instead, it felt as if Banks were in a hurry to get through this story and didn't want to take the time to make it realistic. That scene at The House where Tate actually has his phone on, and he answers it is simply not believable. Who the heck takes a phone into a scene like Tate has set up? If he's so into his wife and the surprise he's set up for her, I'd be surprised if he even heard the damn phone. It was too convenient a way for Banks to set up that last conflict. Too easy. And the whole thing was so frickin' melodramatic. Gag.
The way it ended with Chessy's decision was too quick. Heck, that second escape was too much. Sure, I can see leaving him, but she's so determined to end it all. Right now. Yeah, I'd probably have reacted the same way, but I'm not Chessy. It didn't fit her character. And, yeah, I was proud of her for making a decision…hypocrisy, thy name is Kathy…*eye roll*…
The twist on the characters with the man being the one in need of salvation was nice, but I didn't buy Tate's need to be financially able to support Chessy and any future children. He's got enough money to buy a beautiful home right off the bat and buy beautiful jewels for Chessy. That just does not translate into someone needing financial security.
A lot of tell with some show and a sprinkling of info dumps.
You might enjoy this if you like a Dominant/submissive lifestyle with a Dominant deciding everything for you. And if you're not picky about wanting good writing. If this doesn't appeal to you, don't bother. Don't even bother with getting it from the library, as you'll be wasting valuable reading time. I rarely "do not finish", but damn, I was SO tempted. If it hadn't been a Maya Banks story, I probably would have DNFd it.
Chessy Morgan revels in being the submissive to Tate's Dominant. But she's less than happy with his devotion to his two-year-old business.
It takes a disastrous wedding anniversary dinner to help Chessy decide that she's done taking second place.
Chessy Morgan is a bright and once-happy housewife who loves that her husband, Tate, dominates her. If only he still would.
Kylie Breckenridge is with Jensen. Joss Corbin is pregnant and married to Dash, her late husband's best friend. (I'm assuming that he's her late husband's best friend since the husband died, although Banks does mention a couple of sentences later that he's her former husband's best friend, implying that Carson is still alive.) Both ladies are BFFs with Chessy, and their husbands have taken Chessy to their hearts as well.
The House is a club for individuals into a bit of kink. Damon Roche owns and runs it ( Sweet Persuasion (Sweet, 2)); there is a mention of Serena and their child. James is the other Dominant Tate picks out. Tabitha Markham is the whiny heiress.
The Cover and Title
The cover is beautiful and well reflects the concept of what Banks was trying to do. It's soft lavenders and oranges with close-ups of daisies in profile, for it's a soft life Chessy has and we're looking beneath its surface.
The title is what Chessy does about her future, she's Taking It All. ...more
This Second in The Sentinels paranormal romance series and revolving around an outcast group of powerful people. The couple focus is on Serra and Fane.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Zebra in exchange for an honest review.
There is a lot I like about this story. The characters are interesting even if I find some of the parameters and restrictions spurious. The cleverness of the plot is excellent. I liked how Ivy made this enthrallment on Serra so believable. I wanted to pick nits in it but Ivy left me no holes. Very impressive. The complex, Fane's deductive abilities, and the method of coercion are also impressive. Some of the language though seemed off for such a "superior" group of people.
I can understand the reasoning behind the Mave's demand that high-bloods not sell their services, but everyone needs to earn a living, and I don't see why they shouldn't be able to earn one through their skills. Yes, there will always be some who slide to the criminal side. And they're already doing that in spite of the law. Regulate it instead.
Then again, Mave does talk about the first Mave, the original, and her powers of persuasion. Still this Mave had those powers and those desires anyway. If a system had been in place to regulate that, maybe it wouldn't have created such problems. Oh, boy. And then this Mave goes on to reveal the methods the original Mave used to gain acceptance by the norms of Valhalla. Brutal. Horrifying. And yet expedient. It's an interesting proof of the group versus the individual. As a group, norms could destroy the high-bloods simply through sheer numbers. As an individual, the high-blood can destroy a norm so easily. An example provided by Fane time after time as he and Serra continue to hunt for the little girl.
As for Bas' belief that Serra wouldn't have willingly helped, why were we told at the start that Serra has used her skills to find missing children? Why would Bas' child be any different? I also found it difficult to understand Serra's refusal to find the child. Sure, I can see her being angry with Bas, but that she would still refuse point-blank? No. And I kept expecting Serra to counter his demands. I simply could not see Serra refusing to having anything to do with finding her.
"True power comes from protecting the weak."
I'm with Serra. I hate it when people decide what's good for me. What about asking ME what I want? Letting me make the decision. Part of what ticks me off with this story is Fane's lame excuse for avoiding Serra. One of those tropes that I hate: the worried little woman. I think Serra makes an excellent point when she turns the tables on him about this fear. There's also the I-won't-fall-in-love-I'll-just-use-him trope. *Eye roll*.
Fane talks of how stressed Serra must feel, and it's just talk. There's no emotional pull here. No sense of time running short. It's just a story that doesn't ratchet up my heart rate.
The clichés do get a twist, but they still irritate me. Has Bas been so isolated by his power that he has forgotten normal reactions? Why would he imagine that Serra would want to work with him ever? There's an arrogance to Bas that really pushes my buttons. I am so with Fane in wanting to strangle the bugger, even as part of me is laughing at the banter that also seems so hypocritical. Both sides trade barbs and innuendos, and both sides are irritated that the other is so flippant. Heck, Bas is downright childish. Now, the sexual banter between Fane and Serra is a lot more fun.
I did enjoy that paragraph in which Fane demonstrates the difference between nuzzling and nibbling. Actions which progress to demonstrate fondling, lol. Regrettably, it's also where the execution of the story falls apart for me. It's a good story, but Fane's sudden capitulation — and, yes, it does feel sudden. Fane has been battling his attraction for years. I'd've expected to hear more of Fane battling the need to touch her, to hold her, to comfort her when she is so desperately in need of it. But he just plops on into it. All. The. Way. It's later on that we get a look at his inner thoughts, but it's too late. For me, anyway.
If Serra is so valuable to him, why does Bas send her into a dangerous situation without warning her? Why does Ivy claim the Brotherhood is so inept and yet state that it's highly organized?
Oh, brother. We finally get to the justification for Molly's kidnapping. Made me feel like I was in the presence of a James Bond villain.
Then that last bit in the epilogue when Bas suddenly realizes how often Molly says she has spoken to her mother. A mother who has told Molly she's coming…now.
Yep, it's an interesting story with an intriguing plotline that is ambushed by the contradictions.
Serra has been in love with Fane for years, and she's finally giving up. Fane's decision to become a trainer in a Tibetan monastery has ended all her hopes. It's a sadness that will leave her vulnerable, making it easier for the gift to be accepted.
One that will lure Serra into her own special prison. The key of which is her aid in finding a precious treasure.
It's the reason for the loss of that treasure that stuns Bas into a shocking realization about the philosophy that has driven most of his life's work.
Serra Vetrov's beauty causes grown men to weep, to lose all track of where they are. She's also a rare telepath able to connect with a person's mind by handling an object of theirs as well as being a strong psychic. She has lived at Valhalla since she was five, training to use her abilities.
Fane is a shaven-headed guardian warrior with a reputation for being aloof, unreachable but with a passion for creating his art, the wooden figurines he carves as gifts. He is no longer the guardian to Callie Brown (see Born in Blood , 1, and is no longer at loose ends having reached his decision.
Wolfe, a hunter, is the current Tagos, the leader of all the Sentinels, and he's in love with an unattainable woman. Arel is a young hunter who has dated Serra and in whom Wolfe sees much promise. Niko has returned with a wife who may be a powerful healer (see "Out of Control", 0.5). Marco is standing by. Gideon is the third of his most trusted Sentinels.
All-powerful and a witch, the Mave, the former Lana Mayfield, knew Bas before she became their leader. She is also supposed to be fair and impartial which means no relationships.
Callie Brown O'Conner was a diviner, a necromancer, who fell in love with Sergeant Duncan O'Conner who has become her husband, protector, and a Sentinel. And she's best friends with Serra. Inhera is the leader of the psychics.
The monastery in Oklahoma
Father Michal Valdez is the abbot and an old friend of Lana's. Landon is the novice.
The very morally flexible Bas Cavrilo is the CEO of Cavrilo International, a born witch with a strong ability in illusion, an assassin trained by the monks, and a former Sentinel leading a group of renegade high-bloods who use their abilities to earn a living. One of his aliases is Sir John Baxter. Molly is his normal, four-year-old, kidnapped daughter. Daisy is her battered, stuffed hippo. Kaede is Bas' administrative assistant to the public eye, in truth, he's Bas' enforcer, a.k.a., Bas' Blade. Samuel is his most trusted reader. Vicky is his resident high-blood healer. Myst, a clairvoyant with minor abilities is Molly's mother. Aldo and Damis are two of his Sentinels.
Anna is a high-blood with a rare power: the ability to interfere with electrical currents. Safe enough to isolate her when civilization and electricity are in isolated areas; she is Armageddon in our day and age. Stella is one of the witches maintaining the stasis spell.
The clients, colleagues, and companies
Madame Wagner runs a brothel, the Lewis and Clark B&B. Lily is her receptionist. Hull & Sons Insurance Company is a shell. The Century Lab is a research facility. Stephan Reyes, a Sentinel, had been Bas' right-hand man. Russell Harvey was a healer caught experimenting on norms. Lee Sandoval, psychic and computer geek, had been Jael's lover. Jael herself died in Thailand at the hands of the Brotherhood. The Emerald Lounge is a sex club.
Once worshipped as gods, high-bloods are powerful and some can be monsters as can be found in any group of people. One of their laws is that high-bloods not sell their services for personal or financial gain to norms, humans. Sentinels are high-bloods who can be divided into two groups: guardians and hunters. The guardians have magic and are heavily tattooed to protect themselves from magical attacks or mind control. They act as bodyguards to high-bloods. Hunter sentinels have no magic but are just as lethal and enforce the laws of Valhalla. Having no tattoos, they can easily pass for human. Valhalla, a home for many high-bloods, is in the Midwest and is but one of various high-blood compounds situated around the world including the monasteries where the Sentinels are trained.
The Brotherhood is a secret society of humans who hate "mutants" like the Sentinels. They are very organized and able to sense high-bloods. Jacques Girard leads the group and Marco finds a curious company in his search: Girard Import and Export.
The Dark Side is a fight club that changes location constantly .
The Cover and Title
The cover is not what I would expect. No offense to the model, but he's not livin' up to what I envisioned for an almost-mythical warrior. He does have the muscle and some interesting tats as he poses in his black leather jeans. It's Serra standing behind him in her short black leather bustier and hiphugger pants, her long curly hair cascading down her back and over her shoulder. The background is a misty swirl of purples.
I'm guessing that the title refers to Bas, for he's a Blood Assassin setting Serra up. ...more
Oh, the idea was cute enough, but it was too shallow, and so mechanical.
This is all the review this one will get as it was part of the July debacle when my hard drive failed. Luckily I had made a brief note in my spreadsheet program. ...more
It's a standard plot: girl desperate for help appeals to feared predator. And then Harrison twists it with the gentle "monster" and the rude Tess, who is both terrified and yet courageous in standing up for what she believes.
There's just enough touching on Vampyres and their issues in this story to tie it into the Elder Races series; mostly, it's about Tess facing up to her fears about Vampyres and the truth of her situation.
Harrison could have done better to build more believability in Tess' and Xavier's reactions to each other, but she did make a good start at it. I liked the courteous, gentle, compassionate Vampyre who could turn fearsome in less than a heartbeat versus the desperate human girl who slowly comes to realize what she's done. She also realizes her conceptions need re-working. This is all nicely done, and it's at this point where Harrison hurries things too much. Well, she did have only so many pages left for the story, so I guess that makes up for it…*eye roll*…
Tess may have the IQ, but she's definitely lacking an EQ. She wants her cake, but doesn't want to have to eat it. She wants that protection from Xavier, but she's barely willing to appreciate the safety for which she struggled. She's rude, reluctant, and belligerent while using everyone on the del Torro estate, although to be fair, she does acknowledge when she realizes she's in the wrong.There were some other revelations in here that gave Tess that ah-hah moment about her fellow attendants: the meal after she surprises Raoul and the breakfast after the alley are the ones that stand out. Xavier, of course, has been surprising her from the start.
I love this description!
"If Xavier was a painting by Monet, nuanced and elegant, then she was a picture drawn in crayon by an angry kindergartner."
Events crop up throughout Night's Honor that remind us that there are always two sides to any tale. I was with Tess in her horror of how the candidates were treated on the stage, and Xavier's response to Tess was brilliant. And very true. Something we need to keep in mind in our own real-world lives. That first introduction to Xavier's estate and Raoul.…well, it's interesting to see that scene from both sides, lol. And both have good points.
It's Haley's strut that makes Xavier's comment later about the blood offering losing its meaning as a ritual so much more intense.
Nah, that scene with the too-hot bedroom and the window was stupid, but I did like Xavier's reaction to it! VERY unexpected. Another stupid scene was the betrayal. Okay, I can understand the frustration about the character's situation, but I cannot believe this character could have been around Vampyres this long and not realize what that money really meant. Duh.
Nice way to introduce Vampyre etiquette without turning it into an info dump! Nice creative thinking. Of course, that's my perspective on it. Harrison probably had her own reasons for it, yet it does make a good lesson for other writers. Gave me the chills when Harrison paralleled the Christian belief in the body of life with Xavier's appreciation of blood as life.
I love it! Harrison describes the current mode of dancing as being "like watching a school of fish smacking their fins in shallow water", and she's so right, lol. I much prefer ballroom dancing with a partner! Then there's the positive image Tess finally gains…lol…oh, yes! It's a good 'un and easily remembered.
A little awkward in places, a little naive in others, and events resolve much too easily, and yet a nice bit of psychological insight with a lovely scene of love poetry that really fit well. It's a love story that focuses on the inner person, and not how they look.
"I think, therefore I am."
"I love, therefore I truly live."
Desperate to live, Tess has only one option: submit herself into a Vampyre's protection.
The talented and intelligent Tess Graham is terrified and fearsome in herself with a strong sense of what's right.
Xavier del Torro has a well-earned reputation for ferocity and skill in battle and as a hunter. He's also Julian's right hand man. Felipe was his older brother and the heir; his 13-year-old sister, Aeliana, became his mother. She married Inigo, a gentle Vampyre.
Del Torro's attendants
In his Marin County home, Jordan is the cook; Angelica is the housekeeper (she and Jordan have their own assistants, Enrique and Peter); Raoul is in charge of security and training; Diego assists with security, takes care of the vehicles, and maintains the pool; and, his pool of attendants include Marc, Scott, Brian, Jeremy, and Aaron.
In his San Francisco townhouse, Russell is his property manager, Eduardo is the cook, Foster is his secretary, Sergio, Jaime, Sidney, Ciaran, and Mika are more attendants.
Julian Regillus is the Nightkind king and Xavier's sire; he had been a general under Emperor Hadrian. He's based in a massive Norman-style castle, Evenfall, in Marin in California. Carling was his sire, but he exiled her in Serpent's Kiss , 3. Gavin, a.k.a., Opie, is the head of Julian's IT. Of the Nightkind council, Marged and Dominic are the most compliant, and Darius (turned during the decline of the Roman Empire) and Justine (she was turned in the "violent, shadowy beginnings of Britannia") are the most ambitious. Yolanthe is one of the guards.
Tatiana is their queen; she's also the head of a major motion picture studio, Northern Lights Studios. Melisande Aindris is her eldest daughter and acts in her movies; she had had a fling in the 1990s with Julian. Bailey is Melly's sister.
Malphas, a pariah exiled by the Djinn, runs a gambling operation in Las Vegas and employed Tess.
Soren is the head of the Elder tribunal. Both are first-generation Djinn and too powerful to take on.
Eathan Jackson was the spoiled son of Senator Paul (or Ryan??) Jackson. Dragos gets a mention.
The Vampyre's Ball is an annual event in San Francisco where potential candidates can "audition" as attendants for Vampyres. Haley seemed rather desperate to be chosen, while Roberto Sanchez has better reason for his desperation. The Elder Races are Elves, Vampyres, shapeshifters, and Djinn. Brodifacoum is an anticoagulant.
The Cover and Title
The cover is purples of a night sky with Xavier posed, his lilac shirt open to the waist baring some impressive pecs, his beautiful face with the short hair, in front of an arched window with a view looking across silent water to low, lit buildings. There's a medieval Italian air to it. The author's name is large and in white at the top of the cover; the book's title is in yellow and at the base of the cover.
The title is a metaphor for describing Xavier's moral code, a Night's Honor. ...more
I gave it a bump up to "2" for Drew's honesty.
I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at both the inspiration Carolina finds for her designs as well as that of a hockey player. It is what I enjoy most about this series. Getting behind the scenes and seeing what makes the player tick. What upsets them, their concerns. The real life and not just the celebrity aspect of it. It was an interesting little twist to find out that Drew wasn't that great of an athlete.
Carolina spends a LOT of time protesting too much. And it's annoying. Although, she does admit that her original interpretation of that night was wrong. That Drew had never led her on. I did like Drew appreciating, and saying he appreciated, the move Carolina made back in college. It's a different perspective on a scene that Carolina sees completely in reverse, as more of a humiliation than a courageous move. And I like that Drew is honest with himself. That he can admit he was a douchebag in college and why and how.
Unfortunately, Melting the Ice is very ho-ho-hum. Burton is going through the motions on this. All tell and very surface, although there are some elements of depth I enjoyed: Drew's honesty and perceptiveness, his unexpected depths. And as much as I appreciate Drew's honesty, he annoys me. Part of me appreciates his pushing at Carolina, shoving her out of her shell, and a bigger part of me gets so annoyed how he's always pushing, pushing, pushing at Carolina, and I hate Carolina for being such a wuss and letting him.
I am curious how Carolina manages to pull together an entire collection that shows in February when she's still working on designs for it in November.
The whole we can be friends schtick isn't working for me. It's too fake. I'm wondering if Gray had matchmaking plans in his subconscious when he called Drew. Although I'm not sure he's so keen after Carolina has brought Drew along for the family Christmas.
It is sweet that Drew likes looking at all the pretty girls but much prefers one who is intelligent. He's got some pretty busy hands too in that one love scene. Dang. He's holding her hands and sliding a finger inside while his mouth is busy in two places. Impressive. Ahem.
Had to laugh at the morning after scene when Drew gets up to find Carolina gone. And, again, he's honest enough to acknowledge the parallel. What's funnier, well, bittersweet really, is the real reason she left.
There is one reveal I could have done without — I'm sure Carolina could have done without it too — how much more important Drew's team is than a couple of hours for that photo shoot he'd promised not to let her down on. For all his big talk, Drew sure is a jerk.
A night that's unresolved in two minds. One resents the abandonment while the other wishes it hadn't been so necessary.
Years later, chance again throws them together with help from a mischievous brother when he calls Drew to come model his sister's new line of clothing.
It's an off-and-on battle between these two. One chases until the other gets comfortable…and it becomes very uncomfortable.
Carolina "Lina" Preston is a workaholic and taking that first step in designing her own line of fashion — as opposed to doing the work on someone else's. Stella Slovinski, a ballet dancer, is Carolina's best friend, a real firecracker who wants nothing to do with love, just the sex. And being set up for an installment down the line. Edward is one of her assistants and a talented designer as well. Tierra is another assistant and a great seamstress. Esme is a popular model who will be strutting down that catwalk for Carolina.
Gray Preston is her race-car-driving brother from One Sweet Ride , 6. Evelyn is Gray's fiancée who works as an aide for his father. Alex and Donny are a couple of his drivers. Louisa is Gray's housekeeper in Florida.
Carolina and Gray's dad, Mitchell, is now vice president of the United States. The formidable Loretta is their mother and thrilled to be able to push for her literacy agenda. Aideen is the housekeeper at the family's ranch in Wyoming; Arthur is part of the staff. Oren is the pilot for the Preston jet. Paul, Gage, Rogers, Bennington, Phil, and Leon are Preston's Secret Service detail.
Drew Hogan plays forward for the New York Travelers. Jason is the well-paid, if long-suffering driver. Trevor Shay is another of the boys' mutual friends, and he makes an appearance (his story is in Straddling the Line , 8). There is a mention of their beloved dorm parents, and how Ginger and their daughter, Haven, are coping with Bill Briscoe's illness.
Travelers teammates include:
Boyd Litman, Ray Sayers, Colin Kozlow, Avery Mangino is the goalie, and Trick is a fellow forward who's caught Stella's attention. Leon is an assistant coach. James is one of the janitors at the rink. McGill's Bar is one of the team's hangouts.
Marquette is a defender on the Denver team.
Lakeesha Divant is the director of the mission. Jim, Ronald, Oscar, Lewis, and Bailey are some of the homeless who works at the mission. David was the designer Carolina worked for before she quit. Justin and Henry are a couple of kids Drew and Carolina meet at the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. Gil Nelson and Senator Ed Langton are at the Christmas party.
The Cover and Title
The cover is suggestive as ever, lol. A half-dressed man — I had no idea they wore their pants like this, or that they were so HUGE! Sorry, getting back to it. It's Drew on the cover, his reasonably muscled chest on sweaty display as he rests his hockey stick across his shoulders. That right wrist is still taped and his tattoo on his bicep is quite visible. It's all against a concrete wall backdrop, which makes for a nice contrast with that fascinating manflesh.
The title is what Drew is doing, Melting the Ice around Carolina's terrified heart.
It’s a sweet story — Singh easily played on my compassion for an abused child and my appreciation for a loving couple wanting to make the children welcome and feel a part of the family.
I do wish I knew if Jon was their natural-born son or an acquired one. It’s frustratingly brief in this. We only know that Clay and Tally are DarkRiver leopards. We don’t know what they do or much about their home other than it’s being up in a tree.
A quick peek into Clay and Tally adapting to their foster children as they build onto their home to welcome the children and provide all with some privacy.
Clay and Talin "Tally" are a DarkRiver leopard couple who have taken in the very young Noor as well as the very patient teenaged Jon.
More DarkRiver leopards include…
…Sascha Duncan, a Cardinal E Psy, mated to the DarkRiver alpha. Dorian is a gifted sniper in the DarkRiver pack. Vaughn is a DarkRiver leopard mated to Faith NightStar, a Psy.
The one SnowDancer wolf is Tamsyn Ryder, the SnowDancer healer.
Once you’ve read the story, the title becomes so much deeper and important, for Clay and Tally are creating a “Home” for their family. ...more
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.
It begins with a prologue twenty-some years ago as we read from Eleanor Chance's diary. Just a quick intro into the family of Eleanor's brother.
I do love Thompson's characters. They're warm, loving, and supportive of anyone who comes into their orbit. They're not rich. Not in money, anyway. What they have is a more welcome wealth, that of love and caring. And the usual worry about the kids sipping wine or whiskey from those party glasses on the sly, lol.
Ben and Molly are so cute in this. Both are attracted to the other but rather shy about it, both coming up with excuses as to why it won't work. Ben has more than Molly to attract him as well, for he's never experienced a family like the Chances.
"You glow, Molly, and I'm so drawn to that. I want…to touch you all over and see if you'll glow even brighter."
Molly does irritate me a bit; she's so defensive! But Thompson more than makes up for it with their time in bed, loving each other, and then following it with their struggle to avoid each other in public.
It's an exploration of contradictions: gentle versus the fear of being harmful.
Then Thompson goes and drops in the I've-changed-my-mind trope. Argh. Yeah, it's realistic in that a lot of women do this, but it's also too idealistic as well. And it feels too fast. They've known each other, what, two days??
There are roadblocks in this romance: Ben's fear of family, his business in Sheridan, his plans for Calamity Sam, Molly's job at the university. And Ben gets his test from young Archie.
It's the unveiling this Christmas of Sarah's new saddle, the one all the kids chipped in on. It'll take some finagling, as Sarah can't know the truth about Ben's visit, not until Sarah's birthday anyway. And the lie they come up with is enough to get Ben thinking about his future.
Molly has a perfect record of attendance for Double D Christmases and while she loves meeting up with all her Chance relatives, she doesn't intend to miss this Christmas with her own family.
Molly Gallagher, a history professor, is an Arizona cousin to these Chances and working on a genealogy of the family. Today, Molly's parents run the Double Down Ranch in Prescott, Arizona. Dennis is a new guy in the history department.
Ben Radcliffe is a harmonica-playing saddle maker from Sheridan with no one t'home and no experience of a welcoming family. In fact, his experience has put him off ever having a family. Maddie is an old, jaded girlfriend.
The Chances of Today at Last Chance Ranch
The family tree is a bit convoluted. Jonathan was Eleanor's son and had five boys with three different mothers. Jack's mother was Diana who ran off and left the two of them. She married another guy and had two sons who are Jack's half-brothers: the twins, Wyatt (owns an adventure-trekking business) and Rafe (manages investment portfolios) Locke, married to Olivia and Meg, respectively. Then Jonathan had a short affair and Nick was the result. Then Jonathan married Sarah (she's the current Chance matriarch). After that, Gabe arrived. A few years back, the widowed Sarah married Pete Beckett who came up with the idea for the ranch's summer program for disadvantaged kids.
The very protective Jack Chance is in charge these days at the ranch. He's married to Josie who runs the Spirits and Spurs Bar in town. Their son is Archie. Gabe rides in cutting-horse competitions. He's married to Morgan, and Sarah Bianca, a snoopy little thing, is the oldest with Aaron in the middle while Matilda is the youngest of their three kids. Nick is a vet and is married to Dominique, a photographer. Lester is their adopted son.
Alex Keller, Josie's brother, is married to Tyler, Morgan's sister. Pam Mulholland is Nick's aunt (and one of Sarah's best friends) and married to Emmett Sterling, the ranch foreman. Emmett's daughter, Emily, will become foreman when he retires. Emily is married to Clay Whitaker who is the director of the ranch's stud program. Regan O'Connelli is a partner with Nick in the vet practice, and he's engaged to Lily King who runs an equine rescue operation. He's also Morgan and Tyler's brother.
Mary Lou Sims seems to be the cook, and she's married to Watkins, one of the ranch hands. Trey is another ranch hand who is engaged to Elle Masterson, and both men play a mean guitar. Cassidy is their housekeeper but she's off visiting family this holiday. Nash is a former ranch hand and Jack's best friend since grade school, and he's married to the self-help writer, Bethany. Steve is a Spirits and Spurs bartender unrelated to anyone at the party.
Bertha Mae is Sarah's favorite horse. Calamity Sam is Ben's excuse for being at the Last Chance Ranch.
The Chances of 1990
Eleanor Chance is the matriarch and married to Archie Chance. They have one son, Jonathan, and his three grandchildren. Eleanor's brother, Seth Gallagher, lived in Arizona; he and his wife, Joyce, had four children and have ten grandchildren. Eleanor does envy Seth having granddaughters. That Molly sounds a pip! Seth's daughter, Heather Gallagher Marlowe, seems to have had a time of it, but does have one son, Cade. Rance Marlowe, a bull rider, doesn't seem to have made for a very nice husband. Nelsie was Seth and Eleanor's sister. Eleanor, Seth, and Nelsie's parents had come West from Baltimore.
Rosie and Herb Padgett run Thunder Mountain Ranch, and Ben has made them a few saddles. He's retired from being a horse vet, and they have been known to take in foster boys. Finn, Damon, and Cade — the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood — are faithful about calling home every Christmas. Finn runs a microbrewery in Seattle. Lexi is someone Cade doesn't want to miss. She teaches riding.
The Cover and Title
The cover makes me think it must be warm inside, for this hat-wearing cowboy is leaning against a log cabin wall decorated with Christmas greenery, his red plaid shirt open and tucked away behind him, showcasing those washboard abs. Yum, better than Christmas candy.
The title is mostly about Ben, for he's desperately in need of A Last Chance Christmas. The chance to see a large, warm, and loving family interact. It's also for Molly in that it's her first time not being home with her own immediate family, but getting to know the Chance side better. ...more
This short story felt too quick, too easy. In some ways. ...more
Insta-love, nothing believable about this.
The duchess knows about Annabelle and confides in her; she bakes with her. She's the sister of one king and the daughter of a mad king as well as the only one who got married. Which doesn't jive with any English king I know of. I certainly can't see a king marrying only one daughter off — and to an English duke — when it was much more common to use them to cement alliances.
I can say one positive thing…I did like the twist Winchester put on this damsel-in-distress trope, and I do like a strong female character.
For a house party to which Lavinia has invited so many people, there isn't much party interaction, especially with Lavinia and Richard spending an awful lot of time with Annabelle at the dower house or in its kitchen.
I do wish Winchester would decide if Frank was the name of Annabelle's barman or Frederick.
No, I know how it'll end, and I usually enjoy reading how the author intends to get us there, but I simply cannot bear such a lack of attention to the truths of a period or the leaping from one scene to the next with no development to that scene — Richard grabs Annabelle and kisses her (4% into the story) — hey, it's insta-love time. And made me see him as either an idiot or a predator. It's almost all tell with very little show… All this bad, and it's compounded by her need for a proofreader! No, no, it's so bad, that it's not worth the reading. ...more
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I do enjoy this series…and I'm terrified that Shalvis is getting ready to end it. I suspect it's why it's taken so long for me to write the review: if I don't review it, it won't end. *Eye roll*, actually multiple ones. I know, there is NO logic to that thought at all, but I hate that this series may be finishing as I've enjoyed the characters so much. It's been uncomplicated with quirky situations and a sweet range of characters — including that crazy Lucille. The nosy old lady who knows all…and tells all, lol.
Slowly, slowly, Shalvis has been unveiling the truth behind Lucille, and it's been a fun ride and quite revealing of a sneaky, well-meaning matchmaker. This particular relationship between grandmother and granddaughter is sweet…and sad as we discover what Callie's parents were like. I do wish parents could all be wonderful and there for their kids, but I guess that would mean fewer conflicted characters in the world.
I do like what Shalvis does with the high school trope of dorky girl re-encounters hunky guy whom she secretly adored back in the day. It's also a good lesson — you remember the one where your mom always told you to wear clean underwear? Well, this is a variation: always dress nice when you leave home, as you never know who you'll run into. I do like that it's Tanner who takes the offensive, so to speak (in spite of those yoga pants *grin*) in this with some unexpected truths from the old days.
Then there's that generational trope of the older (and former) wild "teen" having to cope with his own out-of-control, wild teen. His friends and partners get a lot of laughs out of this one. As did I, lol. There's a serious side as well as Tanner remembers his own angry childhood and wants so much more for his own son. He's the man we want for a father.
Shalvis has continued her supportive banter among the trios: three men friends and three women friends who don't let each other get away with lying to themselves, give each other hard times, and are there for each other.
Some nasty truths in this one about Elisa. Makes me wanna strangle her.
There's also a possibility that, ahem, chocolate is a salad…check it out.
This one always cracks me up!!
"Dad! Don't tell her that. You might make her think."
On the niggles, while I liked Tanner and Callie's "awkward" scenes at the bakery, they felt too contrived, and I wish that Shalvis had done more with Callie's "love isn't enough" attitude. A bit more "tragic" experience from Callie than one fiancé walking out on her. Then there's the unbelievable whine Callie indulges in when Tanner rushes away from her after that kiss when she knows he had to get to the high school principal's office. Followed by… her hurt feelings about Tanner not introducing her as his girlfriend? WTF? She's been adamant that they were enjoying benefits. That they weren't even friends. So, again, WTF? It's stupid moves like these that make me nuts. Then again, we do have a tendency to get stupid like this in real life, so is this what Shalvis is aiming for?
Why is Callie Tanner's greatest fantasy?
"'Home,' he whispered. 'You're like coming home.'"
A nice bit here on that myth about the freedom of being an adult, *laughing as I agree with Callie*
Mischief managed…and such an ending, such a lucky man…the luckiest in Lucky Harbor.
Callie's back in Lucky Harbor to check on Grandma. Her parents think Grandma has gone 'round the bend and want Callie to find out.
Callie is going to learn a lot about sanity and fear.
Using her IT skills, Callie Sharpe runs a wedding site, TyingTheKnot.com, and plans people's weddings. She figures it's a way to get past her own travesty of a wedding. She's also Lucille's granddaughter in Lucky Harbor on a mission.
Tanner Riggs, adrenaline junkie, high school football star, Navy SEAL, and then explosives expert, now works (and owns) with his two best friends — Cole Donovan and Sam Brody — the Lucky Harbor Charters. He's their resident scuba diving instructor and comm expert. Gil was supposed to have been the fourth partner; he never made it off the oil platform. Mark is Sam's deadbeat dad working on a new leaf and helping out at the docks.
Troy is Tanner's fifteen-year-old son who suddenly got dumped on his dad by his ex-wife, Elisa. Tanner welcomes him, but is unsure how to deal with a Mini-Me. Dan is Elisa's boyfriend. Beatriz is Tanner's inquisitive, wheelchair-bound mom. Rio is her aging toy poodle. Brittney is a girl at school.
Lucille, who owns an art gallery, is the "town's unofficial media relations director", i.e., she's the town snoop and posts everything on Instagram or Facebook, well, Tumblr these days as Facebook took exception to some of her pics. Callie thinks Grandma's hormone levels need to be checked! Mr. Wykowski is an eighty-plus retired rocket scientist.
Becca Thorpe (she and Sam are getting married after events in It's in His Kiss , 10) and Olivia Bentley (she's hooked up with Cole per He's So Fine , 11) are her neighbors and friends.
Leah runs the mouthwatering bakery. The Love Shack is the local bar and grille. Lance (he has cystic fibrosis) owns the ice cream stand with his brother. Sally Taylor is the high school principal. Chloe Traeger is now Chloe Thompson, married to Sheriff Sawyer Thompson ( Head Over Heels , 3). The Eat Me Diner which Jane owns is Callie's premiere meet-up location with Olivia and Becca. Turns out "Juliet" is Jane's great-niece. Firefighter Jack warns Lucille about her bad habits.
The black-hearted ex, Eric, the local dentist, is married to Tina with a kid on the way. Michael Soder claims to be a certified scuba diver. Caden is a bully. Lacey is one of Callie's crazed brides with Joe as her unhappy groom.
Jax and Maddie are having a third baby.
The cover is a snowy one of starry flakes dropping with Tanner scooping up Callie in his arms against a backdrop of mountains and a fir-lined slope. Both are in jeans with Callie adding eclectic layers of sweaters and a knit cap and scarf, her legs kickin' it in over-the-ankle hiking boots with calf-high gray socks.
The title is what Callie and Tanner each find, a friend, a mate who is One in a Million. ...more
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Bantam in exchange for an honest review.
Unlike Kate, I'm enjoying Nick's sexual banter. Yeah, it can get to be a bit much sometimes, but…how can he resist when he has such fun with a "fish" who never fails to rise? It gets even better when Jake joins in! He has such a cavalier attitude about grenades and "properly booby-trapping" one's apartment, lol.
It's an interesting assessment of why people steal and who condones it. But these first chapters read more like a laundry list. It took awhile before I got into the rhythm of the story, and even then it had hiccups.
I do enjoy the cons Evanovich/Goldberg come up with. This one is simplistic, but the story is intended as a funny romantic suspense, so just go with the flow.
"'I'm eating prosciutto-flavored potato chips fried in olive oil.''That's not fine cuisine.''It is where I come from.'"
I can't decide whom I adore more: Nick and all his innuendo or Jake with his approach to life. Both men have such a joie de vivre that you can't help but laugh as you read. Kate…well, Kate is a downer. She's so stressed about duty and career that you almost want to pull the rug out from under her yourself. I'm curious as to what Mom O'Hare was like, if she influenced Kate to be as she is. Or maybe it was Dad?
"'…I get to teach the kids important life skills.''Like how to make explosives out of household cleaning supplies.''They're way past that now,' he said.'They're five and seven years old.''They're fast learners.'"
And other useful field skills. Maybe not that one about the sandwich, though.
Omigod…and then there's Boyd. I'm with Kate; he is a nut job!
Oh, yeah, that list of chocolates for Violante on the boat is such an insult. Then the meals that follow…? I couldn't help laughing.
I do wish I felt more of the show in Evanovich/Goldberg's description of the boat and it's "special effects". As cool as it sounded, it felt too detached. Actually, the whole story is romantic-suspense-light. Guess that fits in with its humorous side.
Oh, boy, and then there's that switcheroo Kate and Nick have planned for London…
Man, you'll keep reading if only to find out how Nick and Kate are going to run The Job, how they're going to fool the world's most paranoid, vicious, and psychotic pair of crooks 'cause you'll want your own revenge. Even if it is vicarious, lol.
Seems that loose leash that Nick Fox is on might be a bit too loose as outrageous burglaries are happening all over the world. Robberies that are smearing his reputation!
And our Kate is in demand as she's the only one who has ever managed to capture Nick Fox.
Special Agent Kate O'Hare is trapped between the career she loves and the unwanted attraction she has for…
Nick Fox, world-class con man, has kept out of a prison through a slick and creative deal: pulling con jobs for the FBI.
Tom Underhill builds custom, fabulous tree houses. Wilma "Willie" Owens can drive absolutely anything. Boyd Capwell is a suppressed method actor who yearns to shine. The very American Rodney Smoot at Magical Realism VFX is a genius with CGI effects. Too bad the Oscar didn't help keep his business afloat.
Jake O'Hare is Kate's retired, special ops dad. He loves being around his grandkids, and he loves getting a bit of, ahem, excitement. Megan is Kate's younger sister who is married to Roger, an accountant, and their two kids, Tyler and Sara. Jake brings in a couple friends: Lou Ould-Abdallah, a.k.a., Billy Dee Snipes, an ex-Somali pirate, and Barnacle Bob Baker, an engineer.
Carl Jessup is Kate's boss; Fletcher Bolton is the deputy director. Special Agent Seth Ryerson is impersonating the bank's manager. John Doggett handles Willie's arrest.
Special Agent Maxine Cutler ferries Kate about. Michael "Big Mike" Gleaberg is a big-time country music star promoter with a desire to be respected, although not by the kids he rooked. Alton Pruitt manages the Gleaberg Museum of Art. Alton's description of himself is overly honest and will make you laugh.
Erdin from the Aykut Demirkan Foundation picks Kate up. Chief Investigator Semir Atalay is with the police department, the Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü, and Bayan Ceren Demirkan, the Foundation's director. Detective Giray.
Heiko Balz, a mob-connected billionaire, lost a Vermeer.
Commissaire Killian Bernard of the Office Central de Lutte Contre le Trafic des Biens Culturel (OCBC) had been skeptical. Maksud Attard is the assistant warden.
Nick Hartley and his lovely wife, Kate, are very successful treasure hunters (read "greedy archeologists) in need of an unscrupulous investor. Diogo Alves is a fado singer, a descendant of an early 1800s serial killer, and a "talent agent for crooks".
DCI Dennis Gooley is with Scotland Yard and runs the Flying Squad.
The Businessmen Bandits have been knocking over banks. Serena Blake is British and a cat burglar with a need for revenge. Her brother, Sean, was a plastic surgeon. Jean-Luc Picard is her lawyer. Duff MacTaggert is the brilliant thief with whom Nick apprenticed (see The Chase , 2).
Buck Breznick drives a Caterpillar 797F mining dump truck. Well, maybe not after he meets Willie… Delmer Pratt's life changed when he discovered Uberboner. Dr. Landry is the inventor of Uberboner. Bobby Sr. loves that spaceship treehouse almost more than his son, Bobby Jr., does.
Tattoo and his friends want to play, not nice. So Kate, Nick, Jake, and Billy Dee come out to play. Not nice.
Lester Menendez is a psychopathic thug who's made billions off drugs and weapons. He's also Demetrio Violante. The psychopathic Reyna Socorro is in charge of his security.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a puzzle in red with Nick and Kate as black silhouettes who are together, yet apart.
The title is The Job that needs doing. Imposing a life of misery in revenge for a torture-murder. ...more
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Loveswept in e Third in the Rule Breakers romance series. The couple focus is on Erin Connelly and Zander James.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Loveswept in exchange for an honest review.
I'm torn between a "2" and a "3" on this. The number of errors was tremendous. I realize this is an ARC, and I rarely, very rarely, come across an ARC from a traditional publisher that has this many problems: the wrong words; misspellings; missing prepositions, pronouns, and articles; extra and missing words; and, verb disagreements galore. Combined with the lack of depth…
This is sweet with a cute story and some hot love scenes. Chance did a nice set-up, making me worry and wonder so many things right off. What does she do for a living? Why would Zander not speak to her? Who is held hostage? How did she disappoint Erin so many times??
The conflict in this story primarily comes from years of miscommunication. Well, more like no communication. It's a reasonable error, as they were young and the situation was dramatic and confused. It didn't help that Erin has spent most of her life learning to "not communicate", and Chance makes us feel their frustration, anger, fear, and that horrible sense of humiliation when they do meet up after all these years.
Both Zander and Erin were wrong all those years ago, and it's the shortsightedness and callow anger of youth that tore them apart and may keep them apart today. A car rolls like that, and he doesn't think the cops will be involved, at least eventually? Just proves his immaturity in this. Erin took off without saying a word and simply disappeared. Not the most mature reaction here, either. Not that Zander's screaming at her and leaving the next day left much room.
It's also a disconnect for me. Chance is pushing this bit of drama, and it's not until the very, very end that either character concedes anything. It's just one example of small things that don't make sense. That leave little blips along the way. This story has great possibilities, and her editor didn't help her out here.
"Zander kissed Erin's mouth so softly, so gently, that her entire world seemed to balance on its edge, precariously wobbling, just begging to fall.
'Shhh,' he murmured. 'I'm a trained professional.'"
That miscommunication doesn't stop with Erin and Zander, as it encompasses Zander and his dad as well. What is it with parents being unable to tell their kids they're proud of them?
It does sound to have been a somewhat idyllic childhood for the two of them, leaving out her mother and his father. Phew, Chance left me in the dark about that mother, right up until the last minute. Nicely done.
That "hired help" scenario was predictable — and still cute. And, damn, Zander did know his stuff! I sure liked Rey as well.
On the negative side, there's more melodrama than I like, and Erin's thinking is fairly juvenile. For someone who's had to take care of herself and her mother for so many years, I'd think she'd be more grown-up. This conversation Zander has with Jackson doesn't feel real. Zander's only been in the army for four years, and he's already a staff sergeant, AND being courted by a mercenary unit? Pretty impressive. Jackson sure is willing to spend a heckuva lotta money on this boy. I find myself curious as to how good Zander really is!
I gotta say, I despise Erin's mother. Erin should'a cut her off a long time ago. As it is, she's simply enabling the idiot. I appreciated the acknowledgement moment, but I gotta wonder how long that'll last. How could any mother do this to her child year after year after year…?
I felt like I was being jerked around at the end. Maybe it was more real life, and I wasn't expecting it, but I felt as though Chance was trying to work some more melodrama in before she closed down the story.
Like I said…it's a fun read with a promise of depth if Chance had worked at it.
It's the colonel's funeral that gives Erin the impetus and opportunity to take this chance, to hope that Zander may have forgiven her for destroying his future.
She just needs a few tips to save her mother.
Erin Connelly is an artist who works in an art gallery and loves HGTV. The fiercely loyal Dani Michaels is the only housemate still with her — Lacey has hooked up with Dante Falcone and Anna is traveling with Jake Flynn. Gran Ginny was her mother's mother, and the real "mother" who raised Erin. Mike is her mom's boyfriend. Mom is a nurse.
Staff Sergeant Alexander "Zander" James is an adrenaline junkie and an Army Ranger with a specialty in incendiary devices; he was also Erin's only love until she couldn't take it any more. Sarah is Zander's mother. Karen is his older sister and has a son, Caleb, and a daughter, Lexi. Colonel William James was his strict dad who taught at the Army War College. Zander has an older brother as well.
Glen Jackson was one of the colonel's friends. He's also an independent contractor, Jackson Security, providing security for Army intelligence.
Miss Grainger is with the bank in Laredo. Reymundo "Rey" Torres is a "driver" who meets up with them in Laredo. Rand "R-Four" Sterling Winston IV owns the company for which Anna used to work.
Mateo is one of the kidnappers.
Back in the day
Kevin Anders was a jerk in high school.
The Cover and Title
The cover is simple: a bare-chested, well-muscled man wearing dog tags. Gotta be Zander.
I'm guessing the title is about both Zander and Erin, for they both Want It, even if neither of them wants to reach for it.
"Angels' Pawn" is fun, adventurous, and full of action with quite the twist in how Singh portrays vampires and how she provides insight into the rules that govern Guild Hunter and angel interaction. While the Guild was created to retrieve runaway vampires for the angels, they do retain a neutral autonomy. It's a subtle political maneuvering that finds the Guild trapped into doing Nazarach's dirty work. And provides Nazarach with the opportunity to add to his, um, "collection".
There's a lovely heat between Ashwini and Janvier with lots of promise for future installments.
It's usually Ashwini hunting Janvier. This time, they'll be partnered up on a most unusual hunt, for Monique Beaumont has been kidnapped.
It's a tricky hunt with its twists and turns…and revved up with Janvier's romantic pursuit of his usual pursuer.
It's worse when Ashwini learns Nazarach has more than a passing interest in her.
Ashwini, a.k.a., Ashblade, is a Guild Hunter and a born tracker. She also has a type of psychometry and a nightmare of a past. Ransom is another Hunter, also with the New York Guild. Sara is the current Guild Director (see Sara's last hunt before accepting this appointment in "Angel's Judgment", 0.5). Kenji and Baden are also Guild Hunters, and Sara has put them on standby.
Janvier, a Cajun, has been a vampire for two hundred and forty-five years with the annoying habit of annoying the angels. Shamiya Made him.
Nazarach is the mid-level angel with no humanity who holds sway here. Audrina was the offering Nazarach provided Janvier.
The Beaumont vampire family runs Atlanta — under Nazarach. They've been a lucky family over the generations. This generation that luck resulted in Monique and Frédéric, a sister and brother, being Made. Antoine is the vampire head of the family. Jean is his sister. Simone Deschanel is the new woman in Antoine's life, one with her own ambitions.
The ambitious Callan Fox has set up his own kiss. Perida is his enforcer.
Ashwini's past memories
Dr. Taj is a well-regarded physician. And I think he's Ashwini's brother. Egan is the angel Ashwini pinned to a wall a year ago.
The Cadre of Ten
There are ten archangels who rule the world, including Favashi, the archangel who rules Persia. Over a thousand years old, and she still has her heart. Neha is the Queen of Poisons who rules in India. Raphael is the archangel who rules North America from New York.
The Cover and Title
The cover is Singh's publicity photo off the the left, her name in red above it, and the title to the right of the picture with its subtitle reminding us that it's an e-short companion to Angels' Blood , 1.
The title refers to humans, and I suspect Ashwini in particular, for she feels very much like the "Angels' Pawn". ...more
I liked this one. A lot. It's a look at expectations, real and unreal, against a happy lifestyle. It's an exploration Grace spends some time on, balancing her need to fulfill what she sees as her parents' desires and her own. If she can figure them out. Josh has a similar problem, only his got dumped all at once in his lap, and involves too many people whose needs Josh is scrambling to understand.
"…that was all Josh needed, for yet another person to quit on him. It took a village to run his life, and his village was in mutiny."
It is funny that these two are set on following the must-do path, are against having a relationship, are fighting not to get involved, and are so totally involved. Then there's the relationship each of them have with Toby…it's so sweet, you'll want to cry, smile, and laugh all at once.
The insecure Grace is the third of this threesome and must find her happily-ever-after and complete this trilogy within the Lucky Harbor series. It does astound me that this smart woman can be so blind to the "job" opportunities that keep falling into her lap. And yet, she sees so much of other people. The truths, the hurts, the pains.
Josh does have good reason for the mess his life is in. Too much happened too soon too young, and he's been struggling to do right ever since. Add in the lack of a sex life, and…mmm-mm…Grace Brooks is looking good. Especially with her coping skills.
Toby is too cute with his light sabre and his retreating into his own puppyhood. I love Grace's assessment of the why and what she does to get around it. Quite clever and so patient.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, annnd there were weird bumps in the metaphorical writing mode. I want them to be together, but it does feel as if Shalvis is shoving them at each other. Josh doesn't want to want Grace. He's frustrated enough in his life, and he's quite vocal in his not wanting a relationship. And yet he keeps pushing for more. Now, I'm not against being of two minds — god knows I do enough of that in my own life — but the way it happens feels clumsy.
Then again, I do love how Shalvis uses words to describe the want, the desire…
"There was just something about her that made him feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Like he couldn't wait to see beyond the packaging, couldn't wait to touch. And not just physically, which was what…"
Then there's Anna. What a piece of work she is. She wants to be treated as an adult but is such a child! At twenty-one! Fine. She's angry with her brother AND refuses to see life from his perspective. She hurts Toby just to get back at his dad. Anna wants to be an adult so badly? Move out. Get your own place. Get a frickin' job. I love that Grace calls Anna on her shenanigans.
"You have to earn nice.
Oh, lordy, I do enjoy the epigraphs at the start of each chapter. I enjoy them all, but the one at chapter 26 is a pip: "Save Earth. It's the only planet with chocolate."
"Happiness should always win."
And if that doesn't make me think of Matt Haig's The Humans …
Oh, I want to find a Lucky Harbor…!! I can't help it, I absolutely adore this series. It's full of the same cranky, crazy, comfortable characters that exist in every town, every group of people, but they show their caring, they act on it. You can't ask for more than that, and when Shalvis gives us this caring, well, you've a hard heart if you don't fall in love with Lucky Harbor.
It's a tug-of-war for Grace. Lucky Harbor has been the most welcoming place she's ever lived, and yet she knows her parents expect her to achieve great things. Things not possible in such a small town.
Meanwhile, as she's hunting for that high-flying career, she's working everything and anything in Lucky Harbor. And it's fate when someone needs a dog walker.
It's the chocolateers: the desperate Grace Brooks looking for a banking job of which her parents would approve; Mallory Quinn, a nurse who's running a clinic, a local Health Services Center; and, Amy Michaels ( At Last , 5) who waits tables at the Eat Me Café.
"There are four basic food groups: plain chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate."
Grace was adopted at birth by an overachieving couple who expect the same of her. She's struggling to pay her bills with that dog walking job, a stint as a model for Lucille's art class, flower delivery, anything she can find.
Mallory is engaged to Ty Garrison ( Lucky in Love , 4), a local flight paramedic, and flashing around a spotlight on her ring finger. Amy is with Matt Bowers, a forest ranger, and selling her artwork like hotcakes. And she gets engaged.
"'You know that what was missing wasn't a man, right?' Amy asked. 'Because I didn't need a man to make me whole. I just needed to open myself up to new experiences. The man part sort of fell in my lap.'"
Dr. Joshua Scott, a.k.a., Dr. McHottie, is overworked, trying to do it all from multiple shifts in the ER at the local hospital to keeping up his father's, Dr. Weston Scott's, practice. The angry Anna is his paralyzed sister. Tank is the evil pug he wants to lose. Toby is his much-loved son who has just started kindergarten. Nina is the pissy housekeeper. Devon Weller is Anna's current jerk of a boyfriend. Katy is supposed to be Toby's nanny.
Mrs. Perry, Josh's neighbor, is dead keen on her petunias. Matt and Ty are Josh's workout partners at the gym. Some of Josh's patients include Mrs. Burland, Mrs. Tyler wants to know how he feels about cougars, Mrs. Dawson who's trying to get into his pants, Mr. Saunders and his kidney stones, Nancy Kessler and her bladder infection, the clumsy Randy Lyons, Mrs. Munson's allergies, Ben Seaver who's gonna lose that ding-dong of his, Mrs. Porter keeps "dying", Kenny Liotta is a stupid, clueless truck driver, Mrs. Dawson, Lisa Boyles, and more. Dee is Josh's nurse practitioner, Michelle and Stacy are front office clerks, and Cece is his LPN. Dr. Tessa McGinley is the doctor the hospital brings in.
Lucille is the octogenarian art gallery owner who spends more time on Facebook than anyone in town, posting all the gossip she scoops up. Mr. Wykowski may be 80, but he has all his own teeth and a driver's license. Tara ( The Sweetest Thing , 2, and she's married to Ford Walker) is Grace's landlord at the B&B along with her sisters, Maddie ( Simply Irresistible , 1) who's married to Jax and Chloe ( Head Over Heels , 3) who is engaged to Sheriff Sawyer Thompson.
Dr. Martin Wells volunteers his time, with little grace, to the Health Services Center. Kyle's mommy is a bitch. Bryce Howard III saw himself as the center of everyone's universe. Stone Cameron was a bank guy who was his own universe. Ally is Toby's mother more interested in living the moneyed doctor's life, but with the doctor and no baby.
Serena is a nurse at Lucky Harbor Elementary. Mrs. Gregory, Jenna Burnett, and Sierra Hennessy are some of Lucille's art students. Angela Barrison is another of the many who want to apply for any position with Dr. Scott. More applicants include Sarah Tombs and Riley, the runaway teen from At Last , 5. Sadie is the class kitty.
Jeanine Terrance owns a pottery shop. Anderson is the local hardware store owner. Lance and Tucker are brothers who own the ice cream store on the pier. Jan owns the Eat Me diner. Mindy owns a florist shop.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a bright white wedding day as Grace and Josh share a rather stiff kiss up on a hill with a green valley spreading out behind them and a bed of pink and white tulips before them.
The title is how Josh feels about Grace, how he wants her Forever and a Day. ...more
Geez, it starts out so exciting with lots of action, ramming cars, shooting out tires, and then we learn why Aggie and Quinn are after these people. That's one thing. Then to see Rujul and what he's been freed from…
Our introduction to Charlie is less action-oriented and not quite as gruesome, as long as you don't mind a touch of the Hannibal Lecter and his food choices.
Interesting angle on the purpose of gargoyles, and so sad about their reasons for stopping. I guess you can only take so many centuries of ingratitude and being hunted down before you withdraw.
"I can't believe this. I just had a public orgy with a disembodied gargoyle."
Damn, the witch catches Charlie, but she does raise an interesting idea. One I don't like, but it does make sense of why some people are so incredibly, horribly cruel and vicious.
"My father once said that it's our inability to change the past that helps us make better futures."
It's not one of Liu's best, but it does make my heart go pitter-pat with its big-hearted people and their determination. It's almost cozy in spite of what Aggie and Quinn are hunting, and it's that stony gargoyle who makes it so cozy.
"Hearts go blind. … it takes courage to help others."
Dirk & Steele are focusing on child porn rings, and Agatha and Quinn have been on a stake-out for an expected meeting. The aftermath has Roland demanding that they take a break. Have sex with each other. Quinn reckons he’s cool with that…
But Aggie’s passion finds a different outlet, pulling Charlie to her — she’s what he needs to free Emma.
Aggie Durand is a pre-cog and can see the future, and it's not always pretty. Her parents live in a small town in Idaho where Dad is a lawyer.
Quinn Dougal is telekinetic and a crack shot. He's also Aggie's partner at Dirk & Steele.
Dirk & Steele is…
…a private detective agency of supernatural people whose focus is on doing good. Roland Dirk is the boss, a clairvoyant with the ability to read your mind over the phone. Dean; Koni; Amiri, a shapeshifting cheetah from Kenya; and, Rik are more of them.
Charlie and his three brothers are gargoyles imprisoned by a witch. Gargoyles were created to be demon hunters back at the dawn of humans.
Emma is the ten-year-old the Kreers are currently abusing. Rujul is the twelve-year-old they rescue.
Special Agent Warwick was in on the Yarns bust, and he shows up later as well.
David Yarns is an international child smuggler and films pornographic video with children.
Mrs. Kreer and her son, Andrew, are pillars of the community. They also kill mothers and kidnap their children to use them in child pornography. Sarah??
The cover is shades of blue as a dream-like landscape of a stone domed folly reached via a flight of stone stairs flanked by a stone balustrade and urns as newel posts reach up to another urn on a plinth. Fog shrouds the ground and rises up to reach the full moon, a raven waiting, perched on a stone railing that surrounds the folly. Pink pushes the title and author's name to the fore.
The title is what Charlie is, "A Dream of Stone & Shadow". ...more
This short story was in the back of Evanovich’s Top Secret Twenty-One , 21, (the hardcover).
Outré and funny with Nicolas posing as a wedding planner, setting up every little detail to make it easy to do a smash-and-grab on Royce’s possessions. Fox has way too much fun setting this up, and Caroline and Milton are way too stupid to get his jabs. They do deserve everything they get, or don’t, as the case may be.
Poor Kate, she’s always a day late and a dollar short when it comes to nabbing Fox. He’s always several steps ahead, no matter what conspires against him.
It’s the wedding of Caroline’s dreams and a huge drain on Milton’s pocket book, but it’s perfect for what Merrill Stubing has planned as the perfect capper for this wedding.
Kate O'Hare is with the FBI and has been hunting this guy down for years. And fighting her attraction to him.
Nicolas Fox is a clever thief, and he's been on Kate's hot list for years. He likes to pick out aliases from old TV series.
Ryerson. Cosmo Uno is a short, very annoying FBI agent with a terrible sense of humor in the cubicle next to Kate. Carl Jessup is the Special-Agent-in-Charge. Reginald Gunter is Kate's FBI contact in Chicago.
Caroline Boyett is about to get married, and her wedding planner, Merrill Stubing, aka Fox, who's planning to rob the bunch of them during the ceremony. Milton Royce is her fiancé. The minister is part of Fox's crew. Hoppy Howard, a pickpocket, is one of the servers at the wedding.
Jerry Bodie was a swindler who sold timeshares to people who couldn't afford them. He was also targeted by Fox for his cars. Fox's persona then was Tod Stiles from Route 66.
The cover is a swirl of anger in its red, orange, and yellows while Fox stands in a cocky, confident stance, his legs spread, hands in pockets, casting a shadow, a metaphor for how much he looms in Kate's mind.
The title seems to be all Fox. His crew are both “Pros and Cons”. ...more
Jeez, this guy is such a jerk. I keep wanting Dallas to shut the case down and do anything else. I can't think of anyone who is more deserving of being murdered. How sad is that?
The more I read about this guy, the more I wish I could'a helped. I don't know how Robb does it, coming up with these major jerks in every book. Very impressive. And kinda scary…
I do adore Robb's In Death series. I can't help it. it's the right blend of mystery, science fiction — I so want an Auto Chef! — love, and conflict with such terrific characters. Eve and Roarke have it made with his money and yet the money isn't important. Sure Roarke enjoys having it to spend and "torture" his wife with gifts, and I adore hearing about the parties they give, but Robb has included some nasty psychological issues for both of them. It's been sweet — through all 39 of 'em so far, lol — to watch as Eve begins to come to terms with what happened to her. How being with Roarke has eased her heart. Loosened those bonds that have wrapped her up so tight, keeping her from experiencing life, having friends. That dream she has feels like an icebreaker for Eve and that effing father of hers. I'm looking forward to seeing how much further she gets in putting that early part of her life behind her.
Eve worries over those marriage rules and what to do with friends. Her frustration about who you have to give presents to is too funny for words. That bit where she finds out about the gifts room in the house? Priceless. You just know that Dallas has Dickhead in mind. I can't wait to see where Robb goes with that one in the future.
"If he doesn't want the cops to have all the information they can get on finding out who killed him, he's too stupid to live anyway."
Oh, lord, that Christmas tree the detectives put up in Homicide is too funny. Ya gotta keep your sense of humor when you're knee-deep in the kind of muck they trudge through, and it really shows this Christmas, lol. The banner the detectives put up about no matter how much of a jerk you are, if you get dead, they're there fer ya.
Ya gotta laugh every time Dallas screws up on timeworn clichés…until you remember why she doesn't know such basic cultural phrases. And then you'll want to cry, even as you appreciate how Robb makes use of the forbidden cliché.
Eve should know better. Make a deal with the devil, and you'll be decorating the house for Christmas too, lol. Roarke certainly got into the festive spirit with Galahad. Who'd'a thunk…
Eve and Roarke are so comfortable with each other. It cracks me up as they each explain how they'd destroy the other if they caught them cheating. Creative. Oh, I do love it when Eve goes after some guy who thinks he's superior to women.
Dallas has the nastiest dreams, and the ones in Festive in Death are bad and made worse by the victim and his attitude. It's those smart-ass remarks that make up for it…
"'Aw, Dallas, he called me a twat. How come you get to be a bitch, but I only get to be a twat.'
'It's the rank, Eve told her. 'You'll make bitch one day.'"
The bad is offset by so much good. I love that Eve and Roarke's two sides are blending more, being friendly with each other. There are intelligent people on both sides of their lives, and Eve and their people are learning. That party is such a treat to read about if only for those who discover how much they have in common, the surprises they spring on those around them.
"It's nice when the family gets together."
The struttin' Dee gets her pink magic coat, lol. This'll be fun!
There's a couple of nasty twists at the end. One of 'em is still making me cry.
"Did you ever wish you could turn back the clock? Just one day. Even just a few hours. … Did you ever wish you could do just that, just turn the clock back?
Festive in Death combines the best in books: characters you love and hate, laughter, tears, anger, despicable behavior, a mystery with twists, family, supportive friends, and love. Lots and lots of love.
It’s murder, and it doesn’t matter how much of a scum bag you are, Eve Dallas will stand for you. She will do everything in her power to find the guilty parties and take ‘em down. Even if she does gag at the thought of her victim.
Lieutenant Eve Dallas is not a girly-girl. She'd much rather get down in the mud, beating on a suspect than have to get all prettied up for one of Roarke's dinner parties. Roarke, a former thief, a brilliant e-man, is all man and still knows how to treat a lady. It helps that he's totally gorgeous and probably the richest man on earth. He has such fun teasing Eve, and she dishes it right back. Summerset is a father figure to Roarke and now works as his majordomo. He has an adversarial relationship with Eve. Galahad is their fat cat. Richard Troy is the father Eve killed to survive.
Detective Delia Peabody is Dallas' partner and one of her best friends. She's cohabbing with Detective Ian McNab from the Electronics Detective Division (EDD) where yet another friend and Eve's mentor, Captain Feeney, is in charge. Detectives Baxter, Reineke, Jenkinson, Santiago (he found the tree and may start playing ball with Dexter from Roarke Industries), and Carmichael (she decorated it). Officer Trueheart is at the party with his girlfriend. The detectives are trying to be inclusive, ahem, Zombie Santa?
”We’re all inclusive in Homicide, ‘cause whatever your race, color, or creed, you can get dead.”
Li Morris is the chief medical examiner, plays saxophone, and is starting to emerge from mourning for Amaryllis Coltraine. I do like Morris. He's intellectual with a sense of humor and lots of compassion. Dr. Garnet deWinter is the new forensic anthropologist and dating Morris, as friends. Commander Jack Whitney is Dallas' boss; his wife, Ana, is another one who scares Dallas. Officers Kenseko, Ryan, and Shelby are the ones on-scene at another murder. Cher Reo is the assistant prosecuting attorney with whom Dallas most often works. Dick “Dickhead” Berenski is the chief tech whom Eve has to bribe all the time, and everyone is shocked and appalled when he does the “sexy dance”. Harvo is another tech and the queen of hair and fiber.
Dr. Charlotte Mira is a mother figure and a friend to Eve; she's also the best psychiatrist and profiler in the city. Dennis is her sweet husband. Mavis Freestone is Eve's best friend. A popular singer, she and Leonardo, the dress designer Roarke commissions almost always for Eve's clothes, have a baby, Bella. Nadine Furst is Channel 75's top air reporter and a friend of Dallas. A journalist with a heart. Crack is there at the party, the almost seven-foot sex-club owner dancing with Nadine. Charles Monroe, a sex therapist, and his wife, Dr. Louise DiMatto, show up for the party.
"Marriage is an adventure. And a comfort."
Trina is about the only woman on earth Dallas is afraid of. The owner of Ultra You, she is always jumping all over Eve's face, hair, and body. Doing stuff to it. It's hell. Sima Murtagh is planning revenge against her now ex-boyfriend. Carlos, Vivi, and Ace were the rest of the partiers that night.
Caro is Roarke's very efficient admin.
Trey Ziegler is a personal fitness trainer and massage therapist who's a player and a user. Alla Coburn owns Natural Way, a health-food store, and was one of Trey's exes.
Natasha Quigley is married to John Jake Copley (he works at ImageWorks Public Relations), and the marriage is shaky. Martella is her sister, and she's married to Lance Schubert. Catiana Dubois is Martella's social secretary and almost part of the family; she's dating a great guy, Steven Dorchester. Louanne Parsons is a partner in a gift shop. Teera Blankhead is on her second marriage and raged as she cried. Kira Robbins is a fashion blogger with bad memories from her past. Brent is the doorman at one of Roarke's buildings. Felicity Prinze is the side piece. She's actually a sweet but naive girl from Shipshewana, Indiana, planning to make it big as a performer. Sadie is a friend of Felicity's, from the Starshine Club where she used to dance. Chantal is one of Felicity’s three sisters; her parents are Jonas and Zoe.
Buff Bodies (BB)
Lill Byers is Trey's supervisor. Evan is her son. BB instructors include Gwen Rollins — she went to the conference; “Juice", a.k.a., Jacob Maddow, was a rival instructor and a friend of Rock's (he's married with a daughter, Mimi, and another on the way); Lola; and, Selene.
David “Rock” Britton left BB and opened his own gym, Rock Hard. Rock has a sister, Kyria, whom Trey hit on. Master Wu is a martial arts champion Dallas met on a case.
Tiko is a street businessman, a young teen Eve encountered a few stories back. He's got employees now: Deke and Manny. Astrid and Ben is the mom-and-pop who, with Tiko, help Eve get her shopping done. Ursa was the jeweler from another case. Zeke, Dee’s brother, gets a mention. Stanley Physter, a.k.a., Stefano, was the boy Dee and her sister wanted when they were young. Omega is the head designer for the Christmas party. Bower is the florist. Dr. Campo is the neurosurgeon operating on Tash. Janis Vick is the head nurse. Edie McAllister of Silbert, Crosby, and McAllister is the very unwanted lawyer. Hey, she's a woman… I think Drunk Santa is a nicer guy than Trey.
Update: The building in Hell's Kitchen that had twelve young girls buried in it was rehabbed into a safe house for troubled kids, An Didean. Now Roarke is adding a memorial roof garden with a dome.
The cover is the trademark In Death design with its almost two-thirds of solid deep, deep purple background on top showcasing the author’s name, a wide strip of diamond plate as a border for the title, and a colorful strip of a collage at the bottom incorporating elements of the story: a champagne glass, money, ornaments, crime scene tape, ribbon, and a yellow note that says “You’ve Been Bad” ho-ho-ho…
The title is too true, for how can you not be Festive in Death during the holiday season? ...more
Whew, Evanovich is getting back on track. Oh, it’s still missing what I consider crucial bits, notably a lack of sexual heat with Joe and Ranger. But it doesn’t feel as though Evanovich is going through the motions as some of her latest books have seemed.
I’ve always enjoyed the conflict Stephanie has over Ranger and Joe, and the heat that Evanovich creates between them, but that heat is just going through the motions. Ranger does say at one point that he seriously considers marrying Stephanie. It’s a statement that titillates at first until the idea percolates in and I wanna smack him. I don’t know if it’s because it just comes out of the blue or if Evanovich hasn’t set this up with any emotion.
Oops, lol, it used to be Stephanie’s mom slugged the booze in secret. Now she’s soaking the meatloaf in it.
It cracks me up that Ranger is tracking Stephanie all the time. It used to piss her off. Now she’s grateful that she’s always on someone’s radar.
Some of the humor is still here. I liked that bit about Morelli being inches from taking what Miriam was offering, lol. Nice double entendre.
Cute. Grandma Mazur has a bucket list with impractical and very un-grandma-like desires. And it seems a little too easy that she got check off several of these. It used to be that Grandma freaked Ranger out. Where is that these days? You know, that’s one of the problems — there’s so little conflict amongst the core characters these days. There was more a sense of family and its internal conflicts.
Jesus, could Stephanie be any more obvious at the bar. And what’s with Leo? Is he that naive? Stephanie knows what her grandma is like, so why would she tell her she’s in Atlantic City?
Hmm, Joe raises an interesting point about the Rangeman building. He thinks “that his building is more secure than it needs to be, and the technology he uses is expensive, complicated, and not readily available”. Heck, and I was figuring it was some kind of deal like the cars and Ranger having an endless supply of black cars.
Well, that settles it. Hell is freezing over. Stephanie is packing a gun AND it has bullets AND she fired it!
It’s a set-up from the get-go. Someone wants Ranger out of the picture, and he’ll do whatever he has to. But it’s not going fast enough for Stephanie. She doesn’t want someone taking him out.
Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter in Jersey, working for her cousin Vinnie. She also moonlights for Ranger. Grandma Mazur is a crack-up. Her height has shrunk but her skin hasn't, she carries an Eastwood-sized gun, and isn't allowed to drive. Hanging out at funeral home viewings is her idea of fun. Stephanie's mother is long-suffering with the help of ironing and the bottle. Rex is Stephanie's pet hamster.
Plum Bail Bonds is…
…owned by Harry the Hammer, Vinnie's father-in-law. Connie Rosolli is the office manager and guard dog. Lula, a former 'ho, is about as wide as she is tall who overflows all her clothes due to her preference for lycra in sizes way too small.
Joe Morelli is a Trenton detective in the Crimes Against Persons unit. He's also Stephanie's boyfriend. Sort of. Bob is his "his orange, floppy-eared, shaggy-haired dog" who eats everything. His grandmother, Grandma Bella, is a fearsome nutjob who gives people the eye. Anthony is Joe's brother, and he has a family. Bryan Krieder is a fellow plainclothes in the same unit.
Ranger, a.k.a., Carlos Mancuso, is former Special Forces with an aversion to relationships. He's also hot for Stephanie.
…his company , a small high-tech, high-end security firm. Tank is his second-in-command. Hal is another of his men. Ella is half of a housekeeping couple who takes care of everyone at Rangeman. Bruce McCready is the unlucky Rangeman employee. Rodriguez is a specialist in hearts. Jose and Ryan are more operatives.
I think Mac is FBI.
Randy Briggs is three-feet tall and a major pain in Stephanie's patootie. He doesn't take no for an answer. He's also Poletti's accountant. He used to be head of security for Central Hospital. Eddie and Bruce are his cousins.
Officer Picky is just that. Dillan Ruddick is the building super at Stephanie's apartment building. He's getting used to putting out fires and repainting Stephanie's apartment. I'm surprised the owner hasn't booted her out. Loretta is Connie's cousin and a nurse at St. Francis. Marjorie Barstock's daughter works at St. Francis too. Mrs. Brodksy and Mr. Grezbek are neighbors and take a dog each.
Emilio Gardi is facing a racketeering charge and has been considered untouchable.
Jimmy Poletti is a high money bond who is a failure-to-appear. Trudy is the wife who has been with everyone. Aaron is one of his sons and works at the button factory. Oswald is another son who's not all there. Jimmy's poker-playing associates include Buster Poletti, his cousin; Ron Siglowski; Bernie Scootch; Tommy Ritt; and, Silvio Pepper, who owns Pepper Trucking. Miriam Pepper is Silvio's alcoholic wife. Miguel has a message from the Mexicans.
Stanley Kulicky stole rice pudding and can't cook. Gloria Grimley held up a bakery. Forest Kottel went shoplifting in a grocery store. Now he's taken over most of the Chihuahuas — some are protecting Briggs: Daisy, Ronald, Scooter, Mitzy, Brownie, Puddles, Gracie, Bernie, Blinky, and Boomer.
The Russian consulate in New York City
Leo Stochi is a Russian vodka distributor. Sergei Yablonovich is with the consulate. Vlatko, a.k.a., Viktor Volkov, an SVR thug, assassin, and interrogator is at the embassy as a rep for the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade.
General Semov is high profile and appearing at a vodka trade show in Atlantic City.
The cover is a bright explosive grass green of neon blades of grass forming a background for the author’s name in a deep purple outlined in lime green, a shiny narrow band of yellow streaking across the lower end with the series information, and the title in a gradation of pale yellow to white superimposed on the lower half of the cover.
The title is all Ranger and his exploits: Top Secret Twenty-One, and I can’t tell ya how much I appreciate an author who lets me know where I stand in the series chronologically! ...more
This was cute, caught my attention right away. Well, I am a sucker for the suspense and black ops…*eye roll*…
Omigod, Mercy is too clueless to be believed. And I mean that in a good way, lol. It takes forever for her to notice that Duke has a gun. Men have crashed through her door, gunshots everywhere, and she’s seen Duke kill several men. She’s already terrified that the Corporation is going to kill her, and what does she do? What does she obsess over? Can Duke change into a werewolf. It’s so scientist-y, so I’m-totally-clueless-about-real-life, lol.
Lordy, ya gotta laugh at this approach to solving a blocked-car problem…
"’We should take it in the café and ask whose it is,’ said Striker, making their captain laugh more. ‘Then teach ‘em how to actually park.’”
I dunno, can she be any more clueless? She knows she has an anomaly in her DNA. James has told her she smells different, that he thinks she may have some fae in her, and she’s not picking up on it. Not pulling it all together. Granted, she has had her apartment door bashed in and the building almost blown up.
They need Mercy to help bypass the biometric security, but the ops team has been doing pretty good penetrating the Corporation, so why Mercy can’t wait that few minutes to get to Jimmy, I’ll never understand.
There are some weird sentences in here along with misspellings, misused words, missing pronouns and such, but on the whole Roth brought me into the story with lots of laughs.
PSI and I-Op had been separate, then a few months ago, they merged. A much more pleasant activity than what Dr. Mercy Deluca is dealing with in Paris. Caught in their web before she understood what they were doing, Mercy is terrified that she won’t be able to save Test Subject 87P.
It’s James’ ops team that’s on its way to rescue him.
Dr. Mercy Deluca works at Donavon Dynamics Corporation in Paris as a biomedical engineer. She's beyond genius, thinks outside the box, and has zero social skills. She also knows quite a bit about their security.
Duke Marlow is a full-blooded born werewolf who likes PSI-Ops because it lets him hang with others of his kind. Friends he can keep through the decades, well, he is 250 years old.
Paranormal Security and Intelligence Operatives (PSI-Op)
Dougal "Striker" McCracken is a giant of a man and a werewolf as well. Captain Corbin Jones, a lion shifter, heads up this team. Miles "Boomer" Walsh, a panther shifter with a penchant for explosives, is the current winner of the Asshole of the Week Award. Eadan Daly is one Duke's friends, Fae, and mated to Inara Nash, a girl James thinks of as a daughter. Malik, a.k.a., King Tut, is part of the team but on leave. James Hagen, a doctor for most of his lives, is another missing part of the team. He's been missing for years now.
General Jack C. Newman is the director of PSI-Ops. Dr. Thaddeus Green is their tech think-tank. Colonel Ulric Lovett is from London Division Headquarters. Lukian Vlakhusha is the Immortal Ops Team Leader in the U.S.
Donavon Dynamics Corporation is…
…evil. They intend "to create a master race of super humans". Gaspard is one of the nicest of the guards, though that isn't saying anything. Dr. Bertrand is a German scientist. Dr. Gisbert Krauss had been a hero in Mercy's mind, until she learned more.
Test Subject 87P, Brad, and Vic are just some of the prisoners being tortured.
Jinx is a madam who heads up underground paranormal brothels in Seattle. Mrs. Faure is Mercy's building superintendent in Paris.
The cover has a blurry background. I can't tell if it's a full moon back there or the skull and bones of past victims. It's okay, though, there's some lovely man candy baring his six-pack under that brown leather jacket.
The title is most definitely an Act of Mercy as it’s thanks to Dr. Deluca that the PSI-Ops knows where James is. ...more
The couple focus is on Airi and Maxim, and it’s insta-love, awww.
If you must read this, get it from the library. Air Bound is inconsistent. It swings from too simplistic to slightly more realistic. The insta-love is too lame for words; there is nothing believable in their romance, and it's way too convenient.
There are a few good bits in here: a sensible trope that introduces more drama. No, I'm serious. This is a good thing, lol. Airi doesn't want Maxim coming home with her, based on how it will affect the kids. She'd rather not tear at them again and again. Then there's Jonas' stance which is quite commendable, even if he is trying to cause other problems. The air power thing each has is rather fun, and quite useful, and Feehan is quite inventive in the different ways air can be twisted, woven, and blown. I am surprised they don't use it as part of their underwater adventures.
Feehan does a nice job of informing us of Airi's past and her mother with this session between the girls. Maxim's memories of when the Paretskii family was destroyed and the boys taken is also done well. No info dumps here!
The negatives outweigh these positives. Feehan leaps in with no preparation. One minute Lissa is consoling Airi about a nightmare, and the next minute, they're discussing the terrifying possibilities of another Prakenskii brother showing up to marry one of them. Oooh, foretelling, anyone?? A little obvious, perhaps?? Info dumpy as well. And I'm not getting the impression from what they chat about minutes later that they consider the Prakenskiis all that terrifying. Good cook? Great at teaching self-defense? Yep, scary, all right *eye roll*.
WTF? They just get finished talking about the odds of the six of them getting together in one place, and shock!, all of them having an elemental magic! Oh, wow. The next paragraph, Airi is worried that if she were to call Lissa back and tell her about the patterns she sees, that Lissa will think she's nuts. Airi moans on and on wondering if she's going crazy because she sees these patterns. WTF. Again. This is the woman who is supposed to be so frickin' brilliant? She does remember that conversation about elemental gifts, right? The counselor she and the other girls have seen before knows about this. Talk to her. Stop pissing and moaning in my ear! I'm tired of it, and I'm only 31 pages in. Sigh, she is, at least, a fighter. Arghhh! How lame is this! And it's like this throughout the entire story.
It's too easy in some scenes and fraught with danger in others. Maxim is determined not to put his mark on her, so of course he slams it right down. He's denying it right up to the point he marks her, and he keeps denying it. So why mark her? Give me something to believe in here.
Okay, on the one hand, Shackler-Gastros doesn't care what condition she's in as long as she's alive swings over to she is to be in excellent health leave me confused and wondering what else doesn't make any sense. Fortunately, hmmm, or is that unfortunately?, Feehan keeps me confused all the way through. Do they really have worldwide motorcycle gangs? Seems kinda lame that Damon is a neighbor, married to a Drake, in the same field (working on Airi's project!), and yet he's never really spoken to her.
Oh, please. Jonas recognizes Maxim as a Prakenskii and must realize how lethal his brothers are.
Aww, the kids are still so freaked and they come in Maxim and Airi's bedroom. Every night. You can imagine how Maxim is starting to feel.
On the plus side, I can tick off having read this installment. Um, I'm trying to think of more pluses…
Psst, Feehan, you might want to change that Harrison back to Harrington before Jonas finds out.
Airi thinks she’s been going mad for a while now. She sees patterns everywhere, and she can’t stop devouring any book in her path. Hmmm, I can understand that one.
Luckily??, she won't have long to worry as she's been targeted by some very powerful people. The project she worked on as a child has stymied some of the world's greatest minds, and Airi could well be the answer to their problems.
Airiana "Airi" Riddell was a mathematical child prodigy who was taken in by the government to a special school when she was seven, and today she has nightmares of that day she got home from school. Marina is Airi's brilliant mom struggling to cope with her "gift" with alcohol and loud music. It rarely works. Her true name is Marinochka Venediktov, and she was a student at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Theodotus Solovyov is her father, a great and brilliant physicist in his native Russia. His legal wife, Elena, is a vicious, social-climbing bitch.
Maxim Prakenskii is an arms dealer. He's also Max Walberg. Gavriil Prakenskii is his brother, and he's asked Maxim to help Theodotus. Viktor is their oldest brother.
The farm is…
…the girls' refuge. Lissa Pinar is their warrior woman and has tried to teach the girls self-defense moves. Thomas Vincent, a.k.a., Stefan Prakenskii, is an art dealer and married to Judith Henderson (her element is spirit) who has a gallery in town. Levi Hammond is really Lev Prakensii, and he's married to the autistic Rikki, who has power over water. Lexi Thompson, the youngest, has an earth gift and works their greenhouse and manages the farm. Blythe is the oldest of them with a gift for unifying the elements of the others; she's also a Drake cousin.
The Drake sisters are…
…the most powerful magical family in Sea Haven and includes Joely Drake is married to Ilya Prakenskii; Sarah Drake is married to Damon Wilder, who works for the Defense Department; Elle Drake is married to Jackson; Sheriff Jonas Harrington is married to Hannah Drake who's in labor; and, Libby Drake and Tyson.
Lucia, Benito, Nicia and Sofia are twins, and Siena are Italian children who were "kidnapped". Shackler-Gratsos' clients will enjoy them very much.
Jorge Estrada is the owner of the resort.
Cyreck is a Greek who works for Evan Shackler-Gratsos, and he wants a piece of Airi. Leone Marciante, a bully and a brutal killer, and Ricco D'Amato were neighbors as children; now they kill together. They're guarding Galati who likes his boys young. Cahill and Lance work the engine room.
On board the slave ship, Prince Saeed is one of the worst perverts. He likes 'em young. His bodyguards include Conley and Shamar Dover, Yosuf and Jamel, and Sasha. On board the submarine, we meet Valentin Blatov, a "friend" of Maxim's. On board the boat, we encounter Feliks and Akim, two of the guards; Gorya is the steward; and, Boris is the first mate.
Uri Sorbacov wants his father's, Kostya's, crimes swept under the table and that includes what was done to the Prakensiis. The disappeared Dennet Laurent is suggested as a possible enemy.
Sea Haven is a small harbor town in California where the Drake sisters and the girls live. Frank Warner is Inez's fiancé.
Debra Jems is the counselor who brought these six gifted and traumatized women together in group therapy. Wanda Payne only moved into the Riddells' neighborhood a few years ago. Westwood was a contact at Airi's boarding school.
The cover is a blue-green with creams of air currents swirling and whirling with a three-quarter profile of Airi in the upper left corner.
The title is what Airi’s and Maxim's power is and where her heart lies, Air Bound. ...more
The start of At Last is too funny with a humiliated Amy getting rescued by the man she's attracted to. The man she doesn't want to be attracted to, and Matt is happy to tease her along. Shalvis cracked me up with Matt getting heated up at the thought of Amy wearing nothing but her city-girl boots. The cliché is for men to get turned on by those high, high heels, but it makes so much sense that the nature-loving Matt would get turned on by hiking boots. It only made me love that boy more.
One of the many things I enjoy about Shalvis' Lucky Harbor is the snark. I love how the characters call on each other and won't let each other get away with anything. It's all in love and loyalty, friendship and caring — yep, even the guys! Hmmm, now that I think about it, I think the guys do the best snark…
"'You keep going at each other like that,' Josh said, 'and you'll end up in my ER.'
Breathless, Matt rolled to his back. 'Sorry, I only play doctor with the ladies.'
Then there's '…I could have been with Mallory, and dinner with Mallory includes things you've never offered to do for me.'"
Riley is an interesting addition and a useful technique, oops, character, to bring out Amy's introspections about her own past. Thoughts that will find her confessing to Matt about her past and why she closed off to emotion. Matt, too, finally spills the beans about what happened in Chicago to make him quit SWAT.
Reading about the efforts Matt and his fellow rangers have to go through to deal with people who ignore warning signs makes me appreciate why so many search-and-rescue services now charge for a rescue. There ought to be fines for people who don't practice safe nature techniques and ignore those efforts intended to keep them safe. Like that jerk's dad who wants to sue the park service because his son is such a cocky brat.
I am impressed that Amy keeps such careful track of Matt that she can see how much sun he's gotten on any given day. Ahem.
Damn, Shalvis knows how to get through my heart. Amy's grandma was only seventeen when she made this journey with a dying and much-loved husband. It's a sad twist at the end that will find you reaching for a tissue.
I'm missing something. How can Matt be sued for vandals removing the lock and ignoring an earlier warning that the trail was closed, AND they're under the influence? Nor do I understand how Matt will miss his 8 a.m. inquiry. All he has to do is climb back down the trail and get in his truck.
This is a town where you get your life back on track. Where people care about others. Where the sex is great, lol. It's not overly erotic, but it is romantic and hot. It's a series you want to buy, just so you'll have it on hand for those days you need to snuggle up for a warm and cozy read about great people.
Amy is in Lucky Harbor on a mission to trace her grandmother’s path through the journal she had written fifty years ago.
Matt’s mission is to get to know Amy a lot better. It’s a slow assault requiring Matt to spend many meals at the Eat Me Café. A plan that gets sped up when he finds a homeless girl on the mountain and wants to help her. Help that will include Amy.
Amy Michaels blew into town one day and started waitressing at the Eat Me Café. That's about as much as anyone knows about Amy, well, besides her loving chocolate with her fellow chocoholics: Mallory Quinn ( Lucky in Love , 4) and Grace Brooks. Her mom got pregnant too young and dumped Amy off on her mother, Rose, who raised Amy until she died when Amy was twelve. Grandpa Scott Barrett had died when Amy was five. Turns out Grandma was married before. To Jonathon Stone. The one with cancer.
Matt Bower, a.k.a., Ranger Hot Buns, was searching for peace after a tumultuous time in Chicago SWAT and found it as a forest park ranger in Lucky Harbor. Shelly is the ex-wife who never did get it about his job.
Riley Taylor is just eighteen and squatting in the woods, stealing to survive. Troy is her "stepbrother".
Dr. Josh Scott and Ty Garrison (he hooked up with Mallory in Lucky in Love ), another former SEAL, are Matt's best friends in Lucky Harbor. Josh has two kids he's responsible for: his twenty-one-year-old sister Anna who's in a wheelchair from the car accident that killed their parents and his five-year-old son, Toby.
The forestry service
Mary is the dispatcher. Candy is a ranger-in-training.
Lance and Tucker Larson are brothers who run the ice cream shop on Lucky Harbor pier. Lucille is not your poster grandmother, but she cares for everyone in town while she runs it, her art gallery, and her many friends, posting most of it to Facebook. Mr. Swanson is Lucille's current swain. Jan owns the Eat Me Café, and Henry is the new cook after Tara left. Lucky Harbor's mayor Jax Cullen and former world sailing champion Ford Walker run the Love Shack, a bar and grill. Sawyer Thompson is the sheriff.
Trevor Wright is the teenage son of Allen Wright, a successful builder who thinks he's God's gift. Caleb Morrison is one of the five boys on those illegal ventures, and he's stupid enough to brag on Facebook.
The cover is an impassioned, khaki-clad Matt in a white button-down kissing a clinging Amy in a floral bustier sundress in Sierra Meadows on a beautiful summer day.
The title is of their various bogeyman laid to rest and Amy and Matt together At Last. ...more
This is another library-only book. Do not waste your money on this. I'd say don't waste your time or brain cells on reading this either, but if you've been following the series — and are as OCD as I am! *grin* — you still have to read to know how Donovan gets hooked up with the love of his life. Just please, know that you may want to jump ahead in After the Storm. A lot.
I'm of two, possibly three(!), minds about After the Storm… I've read a few reviews that thought Banks took this in a different [read wrong] direction with its focus on rescuing a woman and her half-siblings in distress. Their objection was to Banks writing about women in an abusive family situation. That it was somehow different from previous stories, which I don't get.
Sure, Banks focused on Van's pet charity that helps in domestic abuse cases to give Van the "excuse" for being even more interested in Evie, Josh, and Cammie, and if anything, I appreciated the twist on how KGI got dumped into a conflict in this story. Life comes at us from all angles, and I don't see why life at KGI would be any different. It may be more dramatic with bigger bad guys and more guns, ahem *and another grin*, but this change-up made it more interesting.
Where it fell apart was in two places: the melodrama — and y'all know how much I hate the overwrought histrionics! Thankfully the eye rolling didn't give me a headache, just a queasy stomach. The second issue was the insta-family-love. Puh-lease. Rusty and Donovan barely get the trailer's door open, and he's in love??? Pull the other one. Couldn't he just have been concerned, impressed, worried, feeling a tug at his heartstrings and not understanding it? Start to wonder why he feels this emotional towards this woman? But no, instead he starts to feel stalkerish himself as he insists that Evie and the kids are moving in with him. That he's never letting them go. Banks reinforces this creepy vibe with how desperately Donovan wants to feel the love as his other siblings do. He wants their family. Eeyewww. I'd be on the run right there. As for Evie's side of things, she sounded more as if she were veering off into "I'll love him because he's rescuing me", and not the "oh, I've found my life mate kind of love".
Throw in the stupid don't-bother-to-ask or find-out-if-you-missed-something tropes…and it's all down hill. Anndd, as lame as Eve's conclusion is, I can't fault one part of her decisionmaking, the kids are better off exactly where they are.
I do love Rusty's actions and her desire to help. I also love that she's careful of Travis' pride. She's a good kid. And, hoo boy, she isn't shy about slinging it at Sean! It seems he has a lot to regret!
For as protective as Donovan is, I'm surprised he doesn't pull the Hansons in under cover with the threat of that storm.
I want to yell at Evie to trust Donovan, but that's only because I know him and his family. I totally get why she won't, why she can't, how terrified she is, and it pulls me in two.
I love how easily the Kellys pull Evie and the kids into the family. It's so sweet and supportive.
Too cute! Garrett is buying Charlotte soldier dolls, and she's already agitating to go to the firing range.
What would make Walt think Rusty had lied? It was a plausible story. Made sense. What doesn't make sense is Walt's conclusion. Why didn't KGI have someone tailing Walt after he left? Wouldn't that be part of the info-gathering process? If Sean really has found Rusty as soon as he did, wouldn't he have called Donovan to let him know. It certainly sounds as if Walt already has Eve when he meets KGI, so Sean had plenty of time to contact Van.
Then you read the mudslinging and blame going on at Marlene and Frank Kelly's place and later the reasoning Travis used to decide to light out for his sister, and ya gotta wonder why anyone would jump to his conclusion. I mean, WTF? How stupid is this whole story? Was Banks not paying attention to her timeline? If you heard someone say something negative about someone you loved, would you listen to only one paragraph? Or would you get very still, very quiet, and listen to get more information? I mean, c'mon…
There's an odd bit at the end in which Banks notes that the sisters-in-law are taking more of a roll, er, I mean, role in administration of KGI. Then Banks says something about them "devoting many hours to helping other women". I think it's a reference to Donovan's charity, but Banks doesn't say.
It’s déjà vu for Rusty when she decides to hire Travis under the table. She recognizes all the signs and can’t help but want to help.
Only she doesn’t know she’s aiding a "mentally deranged kidnapper”! As for Donovan, he can’t help but draw comparisons between Sam and Sophie’s Charlotte and young Cammie…
Eve and her half-brother and sister, the fifteen-year-old Travis and four-year-old Cammie Hanson, are on the run from their abusive father, Walt Breckenridge.
Donovan "Van" Kelly has a life outside KGI, it's just not the hell raising, woman-chasing kind of life you might think, for he has cofounded a charity to help women getting out of abusive relationships.
Rusty Kelly is one of the "orphans" adopted into the Kelly family (see Darkest Hour , 1). In Rusty's case, more formally than most *grin*. And she's learned the value of a soft heart. Frank and Marlene Kelly are the parents with Frank working his hardware store. Sean Cameron is another of the Kelly "orphans". A sheriff's deputy, he keeps a close eye on the whole family and is always there for them. Seems he's more than there for Rusty *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*
The rest of the Kellys and KGI
Sarah and Garrett (see Hidden Away , 3); Sam and Sophie with their daughter, Charlotte ( No Place to Run , 2); and, Rachel, a schoolteacher, and Ethan (see Darkest Hour , 1, and "Softly at Sunrise", 6.5) with the twins, Mason and Ian.
The new team is led by the twins, Joe and Nathan Kelly (Nathan's married to Shea; Whispers in the Dark , 4), with teammates Swanny, Skylar, and Zane, a.k.a., Edge, his MMA fighter nickname. Rio, another team leader, and Grace adopted thirteen-year-old Elizabeth after events in Echoes at Dawn , 5. Tough, badass team leader, Steele, softens up around his new baby, Olivia, and his wife, Doc Maren (see Forged in Steele , 7). Maren has taken over the retiring Dr. Campbell's practice and is slowly coming back to work.
Adam Resnick had been a friend, now he's merely a CIA contact (after events in Whispers in the Dark ) who owes them one. Kyle Phillips, a Marine, is leading the federal team that invades the mental institution.
Ooh, pretty. Those blacks and grays on the cover give a nice sense of drama while the oranges and blues provide hope with that sunset. That and the jean-clad Donovan holding his gun, those taut, well-muscled arms with that gray, well-fitting T-shirt, well, he looks like he could protect anyone from anything.
The title is when Donovan’s and the Hansons’ lives all change After the Storm. ...more
Blood Magick switches back and forth between the original Dark Witches three from 1276 back to the three-and-three of today in 2013, and you almost want to cry with the sweetness and the loss. A mostly cozy read with a tight group of friends determined to stop the big bad with a sweet ending. Exactly what we all hope for, and it seems too easy, which isn't a fair comment as it exactly suits the stories in this series.
There's a hope here in the story that this time the Dark Witches will prevail, as there is nothing in the stories that say the original three have ever met with a future three. Meetings that feel so normal for neither side seems surprised to see the other. And they're a chance to calibrate the attack they plan.
It's a protective group in 2013 with all six of them spending most of their time at Branna's cottage. It's mostly for morale and protection while Fin comes over to research spells and possibilities as frequently as possible. They're all so eager to get this done, pushing only to be held back, for safety, for love. It's a trope that I like. Why is it that some tropes are accepted, embraced even while others make me want to retch and turn away? That could be an interesting study to undertake. Find out what bugs me and what excites me. In this case, it's Fin needing to give protection whether Branna wants it or not. He realizes she can protect herself, but he has a need to give it, to protect her. The truth of it is that women also have that need to give protection whether their men want it or not.
Fin is such a part of them, and he will pull Connor and Boyle in much closer. It's sweet to see the love and trust among them as well as Fin's desire to ensure everyone's safety. Although, for all the going on about safety, of Fin's comment that they'll all be fully vigilant, they still go off on their own into the woods at different times where Cabhan goes after them.
It's in their explorations and research that they learn the awful truth behind Cabhan's evolution into what he is. The steps and sacrifices he made to achieve it. If ever there's an evil that needs to be stamped out! We also learn more about Fin's foretelling. His reasons for purchasing Aine, his "seeing" Iona. It's here that we learn what Fin has been up to, the why of all the traveling he's done.
For his part, Cabhan knows how to twist the knife in each of them, and it's a treat to see how each of them respond. It's interesting to realize that there's a trope in their confrontations, with how the six respond to him. It must also be a truism as bad guys all seem to have the same blind spot.
We do finally albeit slowly learn why it is that Branna pushed Fin away. Roberts dribbles out bits and pieces until it all does come together. It makes sense, but what Branna finally realizes makes even more. It's enough to cancel out my frustration with Fin's going on and on about how miserable he is with the wanting he has for Branna. What he'll have to do to survive the loss of her when they end Cabhan.
I have to laugh with Meara as one of her greatest dreams has come true about her mother.
I love the sound of Fin's house, and even more, I love his reasons for building as he has. Talk about love… The truth of what Fin feels, what Branna feels comes out.
Here's a clever bit with Roberts giving a sense of continuity, of life going on after the story ends as she scatters bits of future planning. Of Brian perhaps wanting to learn how to handle the hawks. Of Connor's plans to incorporate hawking with the rides. Of Fin's plans to pull in Boyle and Connor. Of marriages in the village, their plans for Fin's newly spare cottage. It's a beautiful way to provide an epilogue without specifying it as one.
Roberts pulls it all together and warms us with the food, the meals they share, their spats, and their joys.
The call has come. Brannaugh, Eamon, and Teagan must return to Mayo to face Cabhan. The girls are lucky in that their men refuse to be left behind.
It's the same in our time with Fin, Branna, Connor, Meara, Iona, Boyle, and Mary Kate refusing to step back but to support each other.
It will take them all to work, to struggle, to survive what's coming.
Branna O'Dwyer is the older sister with the power to heal with her own Kathel. She runs a shop in town, the Dark Witch, which Eileen manages. David Watson is an old lover.
Finbar Burke is a descendant of Cabhan's and the primary reason Branna pushed him away. His power links to all three: horse, hound, and hawk. He owns the stables and hawks where Conner, Meara, Iona, and Boyle work. Bugs is a stable dog Fin takes to his heart; Romeo is the office manager's spaniel. Merlin is his hawk and Baru his horse. Sassy is a hawk he helps train and with whom he bonds. Caesar is another of the horses.
Branna's brother Connor and his fiancée, Meara Quinn, are together (read Shadow Spell , 2) as is their cousin Iona who shares her ancestor Teagan's affinity for horses and rides her own Alastar and who is engaged to their friend Boyle McGraff (read Dark Witch , 1). Connor runs the falconry school and has his own Roibeard with an affinity for hawks as his ancestor Eamon did. Boyle runs the rental stables where Meara and Iona work as guides and instructors.
Maureen is Meara's sister who has been resisting their mother coming for a visit. Nan, Mary Kate, Iona's grandmother, is coming for Yule; she'll be staying with her friend in the village, Margaret Meeney, a retired teacher. Patrick was Mary Kate's husband. Sean is one of Fin's stablemen. Brian is another who may want to learn more about hawks.
Kyra is one of the girls in the village. Riley has a bad habit of running into fists. Tim Waterly owns a horse farm in Sligo. Cecile is the caterer. Alice has her eye on Fin. Minnie O'Hara seems to be the village gossip, and she knows that Young Tim went off to serenade Lana Kerry. Violet Bosette is the one who heaved the old boot. Mrs. Baker gets a boost that will help her cope with her sick and complaining husband.
Sorcha was their mother who gave up her life to give all her power to her three children: Brannaugh, Eamon, and Teagan. Daithi was their father, also murdered by Cabhan.
Brannaugh is the oldest with the power to heal and is married to the supportive Eoghan. They have two children with another on the way: Brin, a son, and Sorcha, a daughter. The child to come will be called Clara. Kathel is her faithful hound.
Eamon has still not married for his heart is not in Clare. Roibeard is his hawk, and he'll ride Mithra back.
The pregnant Teagan has recently married Gealbhan. She still has her Alastar.
Ailish is the cousin with whom they lived just after Sorcha's death. Seamus, Mabh, Conall, and Lughaidh (he's the youngest and last of their cousin's children) are all cousins.
Cabhan is the dark sorcerer they are all determined to destroy before he can destroy them.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a sweet picture in pastels of a gray stone cottage with multi-paned windows, shutters, and a cottage garden with surrounding woods encircling the house. Kathel is standing next to the approach to the house, a dark sentinel protecting. The title is an embossed silver against a gradated purple background, a sign suspended between a pair of scrolled hangers.
The title is what the three realize they'll need to destroy their enemy: Blood Magick. ...more
It's all about knowing who you are and staying true to that. Of not allowing people's judgments of you to affect who you are, how you see yourself. It doesn't help that Riley has a hard time not treating her like her parents do.
They're both such brats, and they're perfect for each other: both think relationships are too much work and not worth it. Riley had a comment that cracked me up: "…my hand doesn't expect me to text it twenty times the next day." They're both honest about how they see the other. That they see the bad AND the good. And that the good is not simply that the other one is hot!
They have their negatives with Riley suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, blurting out exactly what he's thinking. But Jessica doesn't back down. She doesn't go into guilt mode…yeahhh! Instead she veers between mature and so immature. Getting drunk the day of the party? Not smart. She's also misguided on her worth. Freaking out because Riley won't take her to bed and get naked. And his moves, his holding back!, teach her so much more about herself.
It's interesting that everyone sees Jess as so hard-core. Tyler even asks her to not break Riley's heart — he is the more romantic of the two. He's a guy and he initiates the following: "Hey, if you married me your name would be Jessica Sweet Mann. That's literally the best name I've ever heard." Any "normal" guy? If a woman said that to him? He'd be out the door so fast. Instead, Jess is the one gettin' worried.
It's partly because of Riley's actions and reactions that this was sweet. A mostly enjoyable story that frustrated me with my confusion at the start when Jessica couldn't stand Riley which quickly segued into "okay, yeah, I'm attracted to him" maybe, sort of, but "he's so disgusting". I wish McCarthy had started off immediately with Jessica's conflict about her attraction to Riley. Or am I being too obtuse? I'm okay with her thinking he's hot but a jerk. I'm not okay with McCarthy ambushing us with Jessica's thinking "okay, he's hot" when she's been working to establish him as a jerk.
As for the family side, I can relate. Her parents are overly moral with a high stench of holier-than-thou attitude. As for that brother… How Christian is he?? Not. It's enough that it's tipped Jessica over the edge. She's perfectly comfortable hopping in and out of beds, and I can't disagree with her reasoning. Especially when she blows up at Riley for his comments. Again. And again.
First there's the family influence and her rebelling against her parents and that double standard society sets. Why is it okay for guys to sleep around without an emotional commitment, but it's not okay for girls? You'd think guys would love that since they always complain about the girl chasing after them later. Then again, Jessica's own hypocrisy raises its head, and I do think Jessica has been deluding herself. She believes she doesn't use her sex to repay favors or to say thanks, and yet, that's exactly what she planned to do for that one-week bridge between apartments and in a way, it's what she's doing to go to college. Part of her sexual attitude shows when she's freaking because she's not swerving male heads into doing her bidding.
Her upper middle-class upbringing shows itself. And it shows how little she has learned about consideration for others. She's getting a free ride for a week and her first action is to complain about how the house smells and complain about how Riley is raising his brothers. WTF? Who does she think she is? I do have to hand it to her, though. She is trying. That first trip on the bus? Too funny in her first real taste of how the have-nots live. Her decision that saying "thanks for having me" is to redo the Manns' kitchen is another example of her judging the Manns. Sure it's desperate for a redo, and I know I'd have the same reaction Jessica does. However, it's not my house! How dare she make a judgment like this! Annnnddd, yes it was a really good idea. Too bad McCarthy didn't bring in the drama and tension of Ethan's fate earlier.
Ya gotta wonder about her family. It's kind of weird that Jessica makes her dad sound like the number one jerk in the family, and then at the end, it sounds like her mother and brother are worse. It doesn't really matter, since both parents are major control freaks who've simply turned their daughter away from their church. Jesus, even Jess' ringtones reflect her mom's and brother's personalities. Then you look at the Mann boys' living conditions. What a struggle their life is and how TRUE they are to and for each other. I'll take friendship with them any day of the week.
Okay, that comment about "quilts old crocheted afghans" makes me think of that stupid toilet paper commercial where they were quilting TP with knitting needles. "Bedcoverings" or "bedspreads" are the words I think McCarthy was groping for here. Not "quilts".
Jessica makes good points about how the world views the "fat chick", how the comments and images make a girl worry and obsess over her size. Jessica understands this and yet she continues to go along with it. I suspect Riley is going to be good for her. Break her out of her mother's conditioning. A person — girl or boy, man or woman — has to be true to themselves. If you're not, you will be so miserable. All you have to do is look at Jessica and how miserable she is.
"Never ask someone to tell you who you are. You tell them."
It's an odd courtship by two people who don't want to have a relationship, who snark and snipe every chance they get with each other. A guy who wants to hold off on the sex and "dating" a woman who wants to jump in bed last night. And she learns something she hadn't expected. It's all about control for Jessica. She's sick and tired of being controlled, and she refuses to give in to it anymore. It's also about emotions. She sees her mother controlled by her father through emotions, and she doesn't want to fall into that trap.
Desperate to not go home to her sanctimonious parents, Jessica lies so she can stay in town for the summer. She just needs that one-week bridge. Somewhere to live until her summer sublease is ready.
It’s Riley who comes up with the invite. One she can’t turn down as much as she can’t stand him, after all, it’s only for a week.
Jessica Sweet is a minister's daughter, expected to toe the line and appear as sweet as her name. She's pursuing a major in religious studies and interior design, as Jessica puts it, "majoring in future preacher's wife". Her roommates Kylie (who's been her best friend since childhood) and Rory are happy with their boyfriends Nathan and Tyler Mann (see True , 1). Bill is Nathan's roommate and in love with Jessica.
The twenty-five-year-old Riley Mann works construction and is Tyler's older brother, and while gorgeous, Jessica can't stand him. Jayden is their sweet eighteen-year-old brother with Down Syndrome while Easton is
Robin, a graphic design-art major, is another friend. Mandy is the bartender at the restaurant where Jessica works. Maggie is one of her new summer roommates. Aaron is a guy from her Dead Sea Scrolls class. Zeke is the bartender at Riley's preferred bar. David is the neighbor about to steal Jess' vacuum.
Paxton is Jessica's jerky brother. Donna is her "Material Girl" mother. The Reverend Sweet is not so sweet.
The cover is dark with Riley in a black wifebeater and Jessica in a black bra and jeans and smoke rising between them — nice touch that — as they kiss a handbreadth apart.
The title is both Jessica and not, for she may be a Sweet, but she’s not sweet.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In He's So Fine, it's an unexpected battle for Cole. He's never experienced a woman so determined to keep him at arm's length. As for Olivia, she's determined to not succumb because her entire life has been one of expectation, obligation, and abandonment. She's not gonna go there anymore. That's not the only battle Cole has, though. He still hasn't dealt with the death of his friend nor the death of his dreams with his fiancée.
These two are so alike, and yet so different. Cole knows what family is; Olivia only knows about the concept.
I love Cole's family. Yeah, they can be poke at ya pretty good, but it's done with love and affection, never the greed and demanding attitude that Olivia experiences. What is with her mother and sister anyway? They need money? Well, just go to the family cash cow and whine, just do this show, so we can take your money, whine, we deserve it, whine…screw your hopes, dreams, and wishes, just make ours come true, whine… I'd kick them to the curb and suggest they get jobs.
I mean, what the heck? Olivia bought her mother a hair salon. One that if "managed properly, she doesn't have to work a day", and Jolyn claims that her job is coping with their mother…so why isn't she running the hair salon to earn the money her mother needs for her next boob job? If I'd been Olivia, I'd'a slugged Jolyn, pushed her out the door, and then locked it. Her family interactions sure can't get any worse.
I like the analogy of Olivia and the old stuff she likes to suss out: neglected and discarded with a new lease on life. And I do love the sound of Olivia's shop. My kind of place as I adore old things, they have such a history to them.
Ohhh, I love the idea of Drama Day. What a clever marketing ploy for a vintage shop and a great way to interact with the community.
Olivia is trying to put Cole off balance with the selection of Halloween costumes available: Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz or Miley Cyrus. And Cole reckons, "I could rock either."
My niggles include the start of this story. Oh, it's dramatic enough, but with the close eye that Olivia keeps on the three hunks of Lucky Harbor Charters, wouldn't she know this was Cole? And jumping in to save him when she can't swim? I've always thought she had more sense, and wouldn't it make more sense to throw a life preserver in after him? I've never been to a dock where they don't have preservers around.
Of course, it does make for a funny start to the story, if you can keep that suspension of belief going. Once they get inside the boat, things heat up, not quite believably, and Shalvis gets back on course with a touch of the Keystone Kops in Cole and Olivia's exchanges. I am a bit confused about Olivia not wanting to strip and then insisting that Cole does. She's not a stupid woman, so why she's being stupid is a question.
It's not all fun and games for Cole either — although he did have some fun with Olivia's phone, lol. Seems he's learned something about his best friend that makes him question everything in his life. Trust has always been a big thing for Cole. Finding out about his friends shakes his world, so when he finds out about Olivia…oh, boy…
Oh, crack me up with this comment from Callie:
"'Because I haven't been out on a date in a long time,' Callie said. 'I'm living vicariously through you. I need this date, Olivia.'"
There are fun and games coming up in Tanner's life, oops, I mean, for everyone around Tanner, when Elisa shows up to drop their kid off on Tanner. Seems he's a chip off the old block…
So it'll be more fun and games in the heartfelt and cozy Lucky Harbor where the guys are great: hot, loyal, caring, snarky, and sometimes clueless while the girls are damaged, beautiful, and defensive, and we get to enjoy the ride of supportive, funny, and loving people.
Her mother and sister are all over Olivia to do the retro show, Not Again, Hailey!, a job she is NOT interested in. She’s had her fill of Hollywood and wants nothing to do with it. Only her mama wants another breast surgery and isn’t shy about jamming guilt down Olivia’s throat while her sister wants… God forbid any of them actually go to work for a living.
Cole is known as the local McGyver, able to fix anything, and he capitalizes on this to make the moves on Olivia.
Olivia Bentley, a.k.a., former child star Sharlyn Peterson, runs the thrift shop, Unique Boutique, in town and is best friends with Becca Thorpe, Sam's fiancée. She's also on the run from her previous life. One filled with paparazzi and greedy family members. Jolyn is Olivia's older sister, the jealous one who had wanted a Hollywood career. Tamilyn is, I think, Olivia's victim of a mother. A role she plays to the hilt. Mrs. Henderson had been her on-set tutor; she'd come from Lucky Harbor and had filled Olivia's head with tales.
The rigid, unbending, incredibly loyal Cole Donovan is one of three partners in Lucky Harbor Charters, a boat chartering operation that provides deep-sea fishing, whale watching, scuba diving…anything that involves the water, and he's the captain, chief navigator, mechanic, and face of the operations. Hey, he's the only one who can handle meeting new people! Amelia is his mother. The coven (his three sisters) include Clare (she's married to Mitch with a son, Jonathan), Cindy (she's married to Garrett, and they have a son, Kyle), and Cara (of the historical romances; she eloped with Ward). Their father, an attorney, died over a year ago.
Sam Brody is their financial guy and a custom boatbuilder who's hooked up with Becca in It's in His Kiss , 10. Tanner is their scuba diving instructor and communications expert. Elisa and Troy are Tanner's ex-wife and fifteen-year-old son. Gil was to have been the fourth partner, but he died back in the rig. Susan had been Cole's fiancée, and it took Gil's funeral for the truth to come out. Sierra is Susan's baby girl. Cole hasn't dated in the two years since. Mark is Sam's dad and working for the guys along with Becca (see It's in His Kiss ).
Callie Sharpe is a new tenant in the warehouse building where Olivia and Becca live and runs an online one-stop wedding website. She's also Lucille's granddaughter, here on a mission for her parents. Dr. Josh Scott is an old friend of the boys, and he agrees with the others: no work for at least a week.
Lucille heads up the Merry Pranksters, er, Eldsters, in this series, and she doesn't hold back now. She knows everything that goes on in Lucky Harbor, invents some of it, and keeps it all posted on Facebook, oops, I mean Tumblr since she got banned from Facebook. Mary and Mrs. Betty Dettinger come with Lucille to the Unique Boutique.
Lance is dying from cystic fibrosis and runs an ice cream stand on the pier with his brother, Tucker. Tiny, the six-foot-nine biker, owns the Ferris wheel and arcade. Pink and Kendra are twins (we met them in It's in His Kiss , 10) who love Drama Day. Jax Cullen ( Simply Irresistible , 1) owns the Love Shack along with Ford Walker (see The Sweetest Thing , 2).
The cover is fine with Olivia perching on the boy bar as Cole pedals their way down a leaf-covered lane. It's Halloween in Lucky Harbor and the cover shows it.
It’s a title that could be applied to every book in this series, He’s So Fine, is every male so far, and Cole holds up his end of things, being a jack of so many trades and good at them all. ...more
This was another fun one. Different from Bitter Spirits , 1, but just as full of action and character, and a fun tour of San Francisco twelve years after the quake as Hadley and Lowe race about, exploring, investigating, lying.
On the whole I like Hadley, but she does annoy me with her insistence that she be treated as though she were a man, and then she gets annoyed when he does. She's such a prickly, overly sensitive thing.
"If people like me didn't dig, what would you study?"
Lowe can spin a story like nobody's business, and he's tricky with his psychological siege of Hadley. He pays attention and uses what he learns to "assault" her tower. It's part of what makes him so very interesting to an unwilling but intrigued Hadley. There's also that family of his. Warm, laughing, hugs. Nothing she's familiar with.
That's not the only way in which her father is a jerk. I give him kudos for "allowing" his daughter to get an education and work with him at the museum. But everything is per his own secret agenda. Bacall says many of the right things, but he's such a hypocrite and a liar! Nor does he seem to care about his daughter at all! He gives gifts of what he loves to others whether they'd like it or not. He collects books but not to read…quelle horreur…although, it turns out that Hadley is a book snob. Lowe does sum it up well towards the end.
That Oliver doesn't impress me too much either. Putting on his coat while Hadley stands there shivering. Another jerk! And what's with that "hysterical" comment! Why is it that men always put women down with words like that or "is it that time of the month"? Arghhh! As for Hadley's mother…what a bitch.
Oliver does serve well as a foil for Lowe. Lowe may be a thief and a liar, but he is considerate, interesting, and quite flirtatious with it. Mmm…bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do… He also understands why Hadley feels so betrayed. And…sigh…he does have his priorities straight.
Winter's few appearances in this are only to scold Lowe. And he has good reason.
Bennett cracked me up with Lowe's obsession over Hadley's backside. It's such a contrast between what he wants from her father…and what he wants from her besides it being such a contrast for Hadley, lol. She's wanting and not wanting all at the same time — and so confused with it!
Bennett also comes in with the hook at just the right time. Hmmm, she must know Lowe pretty well, *more laughter*. It intrigued me as well, and then it had the potential to get better for those who enjoy a good puzzle. Except Bennett doesn't provide enough information to let us work at it. Not that it's that big of a negative. Most authors don't provide all the clues, dang it.
Why does Lowe have to ruin the books? Couldn't he have just slid his knife along an edge?
Lowe's past comes back to throw a wrench in everything from Hadley's love to Lowe's own chances for survival. Hadley's association with him could ruin her reputation — god knows, it's already screwed Lowe's chances. And Hadley is so furious that she seeks out the one source who can tell her the truth, little realizing what it could mean for him.
Um, in what world does Hadley believe they have time to sit down and suss things out?
Due to all the lies, there are mysteries within mysteries. And Bennett keeps it that way even as she reveals bits and pieces — that contradict what's been said — along the way.
You'll adore the end…Lowe is still concocting elaborate stories, lol.
It begins with a battle, a chase, and a running leap for a train leaving the station. The perfect situation for these cohorts in escape to show their true colors. For the thugs are after a mythical artifact Lowe found in Egypt. One purported to open the door to the land of the dead: the Backbone of Osiris, the djed.
Lowe Magnusson has been having a ball, sort of. Roaming the world, looting, er, releasing antiquities from the ground in which they've been buried for millennia. He's the most charming born liar and would rather make an illegal dollar than any other. His brother, Winter, is one of the top bootleggers in San Francisco (see Bitter Spirits ). Aida is Winter's very pregnant wife. She's also a spirit medium who can speak with the dead. Sam is Aida's brindled mastiff. Astrid is his young sister, and she appears to be caught up in Bo Yeung, a Chinese orphan Winter caught picking his pocket some years back. Now he's Winter's righthand man and Astrid's bodyguard. Greta is the family housekeeper. Lulu is the red Indian motorcycle Lowe prefers. Jonte is the chauffeur.
Dr. Hadley Bacall is Dr. Archibald Bacall's assistant and daughter — he is the curator for the Egyptian Antiquities wing of the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Hadley specializes in funerary archeology and has a touch phobia. Mori are the Death specters, the Sheut, the shadows, Hadley inherited from her mother, the deceased Vera. Mrs. Wentworth is her latest maid. Number Four is the cat she doesn't want. You'll love how the cat got its name, lol. Noel Irving was Archie's excavating partner and best friend…and more. Charlotte is Bacall's housekeeper.
Adam Goldberg has been Lowe's best friend forever; he's also a watchmaker. A very talented man with small details. Stella Goldberg is his four-year-old deaf daughter. Miriam is his dead wife, flu. Mrs. Berkovich owns the deli. Velma Toussaint owns the Gris-Gris Club and practices hoodoo. Daniels manages the club. Mrs. Geller will become Stella's nanny.
The de Young Museum
George Houston is what Hadley calls "her biggest mistake", and she's got that right. Miss Tilly is Dr. A. Bacall's secretary. Stan is Bacall's assistant and helps guide the blind doctor around. Mr. Hill is a night guard. Director Amir is with the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Oliver Ginn, a.k.a., Moneypants, is a patron of the arts.
Monk Morales is a thug in San Francisco. And he is excessively annoyed with Lowe.
Mr. Walter is the elevator operator in Hadley's building. Rose and Nunzio Alioto make the best chowder on the wharf. Madame Dubois makes custom lingerie and loves Hadley's designs. Ruby is an old girlfriend, Lowe claims, who he'll use as a fallback. Detective Cohen investigates Adam's murder. The Ackermans own the hardware store next to Adam's place.
Mrs. Rosewood was a shipping heiress. Mr. Farnsworth is the realtor showing houses. He's supposed to be showing this one to the Davidsons. Henrietta Trotter was one of Hugo Trotter's sisters. Hugo Junior now operates a funeral home in Lawndale (today's Colma). Mrs. Price had a cousin, a very bad cousin. Samuel Levin is having a party. And he's Monk's silent buyer.
The cover is heated with its oranges, blues and the half-dressed Lowe holding Hadley in her sheer dress as her Mori writhe around her against a collage of a cable car, desert, and what appears to be a flat-topped hill with ruins.
No kidding, the title is Grim Shadows, only I’m not sure which merits the title more: Hadley’s Mori or the evil that waits in the shadows. ...more
When I heard there was a new GhostWalker installment, well, I was so excited I started counting down the days. When I got it, I hovered between gotta read it right now and trying to hold off to make it last longer. Feehan managed to make it last longer all by herself. It was endless, and I was so incredibly disappointed.
I don't know what's going on in Feehan's life or if she's getting confused with all the series she has going on, but this reads more like a story from her Leopard People series — overly melodramatic. She must be feeling desperate for drama as well, so she brought babies into this mix.
The page count is pumped up by all the repetition. Jesus. I liked that Wyatt insists that he and Pepper talk out their issues before they make stupid moves, so naturally an additional trope has to include Pepper getting ready to run every other minute. Without talking to Wyatt. Because she's so flawed. He can't possibly love her. She's dangerous to him, to his Nonny. Oh, woe, she must flee. Without talking to Wyatt. Even though he's so dominating and strong. So protective. Gag.
Yeah, it does go on and on like this. No, I lie. It's worse. Wait'll you get to the end of the big battle scene after Pepper has killed a man using her wiles. Oh, no! She killed someone to protect the babies and the team. Oh, she must be so flawed. Wyatt will hate her forever. More gagging.
Feehan repeats this crap over and over. God forbid you should forget how much Pepper hates and fears men. How much she loves the babies. How possessive Wyatt is about Pepper, but he hates women. I got to wondering, as Pepper yammers on about how unworthy she is, why doesn't Wyatt tell her about Flame?
There's the descent into the insta-attraction melodramatic trope. Pepper feels the attraction to Wyatt's confidence, his ability to dominate, command a room, the sheer sexual pull. Naturally, Wyatt's heart did a curious somersault and his cock stirred … she was built for long, lazy nights on the bayou…. Of course, neither likes the other sex. They've sworn off men/women. So we spend the entire story fighting and fucking.
Ya know, I do enjoy sex scenes, lovemaking, whatever you want to call it… and I found myself skipping a lot of it. Partly because Wyatt is so clumsily dominant and irrationally jealous.
Feehan is also clumsy in portraying the initial team — Wyatt, Malichai, and Ezekiel — as having cat genes. Oh, she tells us every some clutch of pages, but if it weren't for the tell, I'd never know it. She talks about the men having a need to hunt, to rage because of the cat within them. We never do actually go hunting, unless it's to go to the evil compound. I suppose you could say their defense against the attack at the house involved hunting. Technically.
While I like that Wyatt is trying to communicate, that he comes to see Pepper's perspective on his actions, I don't understand why he's so quick to be mad angry-possessive. Yeah, yeah, I know all about the cat genes making him territorial, but it's out of all proportion.
"I'm the boss, not bossy, there's a difference."
Feehan sets up the possibility for tension in the team over Pepper — and not just the sexual attraction aspect — and whether she's part of a trap. But it doesn't go anywhere. It gets a few mentions, and that's it. I guess it was easier just to cut-and-paste the I want you / I don't want you along with all the sex onto the pages (over and over and over) rather than use her brain to develop this.
There are some funny bits in here. Wyatt's "teaching" the granny-bashing guard some manners, Draden's reminders to Trap to be nice, the encounter with Harley and the snotty Lucia, Nonny's stories about how she raised the boys. It sounds beautiful and so very cozy and homey.
Um, if you're planning to include French in a story, know that the language has the formal vous and the familiar tu. I don't think lovers are using vous between themselves.
Feehan says "the Fontenot home is old, even for the bayou", and then she goes on to repeat how the boys Nonny raised built the house for her. Huh, I thought those boys were only in their 30s, and I gotta confess, I don't think a less than 30-year-old house is that old.
Oh, gimme a break. Wyatt's complaining that Pepper didn't tell them how many guards would be on the roof, and a few paragraphs later, he's stating that they "reconned multiple times". And Pepper's so brilliant, she doesn't think to warn the boys about the enhanced soldiers Braden has?
If you have time to waste reading, go ahead BUT get it from the library.
There are strangers in the bayou and a terrified woman with a baby on the run. She's desperate. Desperate to return and rescue the two babies who were caught when she and Ginger escaped.
Now Wyatt and his friends have come home in answer to Nonny's request, and they won't be putting up with such behavior. Nor allowing anyone to hurt a child.
Pepper is a GhostWalker who believes she's flawed. She's been trained to be a seductress who can kill with a bite, and her body has been manipulated to put her into an ever-increasing heat if she goes too long with sex. She and the viperous, 17-month-old babies who run like the wind, communicate with ASL, and are obviously very intelligent — Ginger, Cannelle, and Thym — are scheduled for termination.
Dr. Wyatt Fontenot grew up in the bayou with the ability to hear others in his mind and do psychic healing. He left in a temper, making a poor decision. Grand-mere, Grace Fontenot, is Nonny, their 80-plus-year-old beloved, respected, very intelligent, plant-gathering grandmother who raised her grandsons and lives in the bayou. Raoul, a.k.a., Gator, is one of his three brothers, and he's married to Flame (see Night Game , 3).
Wyatt's team of GhostWalkers have been…
…psychically and physically enhanced and cat genes added to their DNA. Their day jobs are in the Pararescue Jumpers, an Air Force Special Forces team. Malichai and Ezekiel (can manipulate snakes, frogs, and insects) Fortunes are two of the three brothers who raised themselves on the street (Modichai will show up later) with Mal and Zeke part of Wyatt's initial team. Draden Freeman, a.k.a., Sandman, was a model before he went for the enhancements, and he's an amazing medic.
Trap Dawkins is a billionaire who retains everything he's ever read and decided to go for the enhancements *eye roll* (he can get through any building and is a straight-up assassin) — they call him the iceman. He has no clue how to behave in society and doesn't care enough to be nice, although Wyatt says that Trap feels compassion. There's an interesting insight much later in the book from Trap and why he befriended Wyatt. And he's being set up for his own story. Daryl Monroe is Trap's assistant.
Lily Whitney Miller is Whitney's daughter, and she hates everything her father stood for. She's married to Captain Ryland Miller, the leader of the GhostWalkers (see Shadow Game , 1).
Wilson Plastics is…
…run by Dr. Braden. The boys believe the compound is a blind for human experimentation. The guards include Blake, Larry, Jim, and Pierre is one of the enhanced ones.
Cayenne is a new reject brought to Wilson Plastics.
Dr. Peter Whitney is the evil mad scientist all the GhostWalkers have been chasing since Shadow Game and his ugly head is raised up in this one as well. Violet Freeman is officially a widow and a traitorous GhostWalker; she's hooked up with Whitney.
Delmar Thiboudeaux owns the Huracan Club and saw the Rougarou that haunts the swamps. A traiteur is the local healer whom Nonny supplies with plants. Joy Chassion is the popular girl whom Wyatt had thought he loved. Mrs. Marsh owns the clothing store and is the biggest gossip in the area. Harley Jetter is an old friend from high school who chose to stay on the river. Lucia is with Harley, but angling for Wyatt's attention. Alain Daughtry works as a shoe salesman now and has always thought he has a right to any woman he wants.
Sergeant Major Theodore Griffen ran one of the GhostWalker teams.
The Cover and Title
The cover is well done. Pepper is gorgeous with her bedroom eyes and the pink scales beneath them, the pouty lips, the black hair twisted into a loose braid with a very snake-like roundness, a pattern of scales embedded into her hair. The background is deep in the bayou, overgrown with trees and plants. Look carefully and you'll see the green snake slithering down along the right side of Pepper's head.
The title is too accurate, for this deadly maneuver is a Viper Game. ...more