Wickedly Nice World Nicole Bonham knows she and her sisters aren't normal. She doesn't know why that's so any more than she knows where their unique ta...moreWickedly Nice World Nicole Bonham knows she and her sisters aren't normal. She doesn't know why that's so any more than she knows where their unique talents come from, but with her ability to manipulate wind and her sisters' talents with fire and water, the three of them are definitely not like the rest of humanity.
She can accept that. Has accepted it. Never once in her life, though, did Nicole ever doubt she was human. It never crossed her mind that was even a possibility. Then she meets a gorgeous guy in a club. There's no arguing he's smoking hot and, man, he can dance like a demon. As far as Nicole is concerned, it's her lucky night...right up until the guy tells her he actually is a demon.
If that isn't freak-out-worthy enough, the guy, Gunnar, admits he saw her use her power to help someone earlier that night and he wants to know what sort of supernatural being she is. Yeah, that's pretty much when the freaking out started.
As a Lash demon, Gunnar is very good at hunting down dangerous demons and keeping them from making a deadly mess in the human realm. After more than two centuries of doing just that, he's gotten very good at identifying supernaturals by their power signature alone. Nicole's power, though, is like nothing he's ever felt before.
Knowing how the bad guys work leaves him no doubts, either. If any of them find out about Nicole and feel what she can do, they won't bother asking questions, they'll either take her to use her, or they'll destroy her. And that's not something Gunnar is going to let happen. Not when the proud, stubborn female makes him feel things he never knew he could feel and want things he's never wanted before.
This series debut has several really good things going for it. I liked the world quite a lot and appreciated the detailed world-building. There was a nice amount of the story dedicated to fleshing out not just a few of the demon races, but other supernaturals as well. And I loved Gunnar and Nicole's trip to the demon realm, Torth. That was a whole lot of fun.
There was also a lot of heat in the relationship between Gunnar and Nicole. The chemistry between them was strong from the moment they meet and I liked that a lot, and Kay can definitely right sizzling sex scenes.
Gunnar and his Lash demon cohorts were fairly typical for the genre and not unlike the main characters of several similar-type paranormal romance series, but that's never been downside to me. I happen to like that particular formula of a brotherhood of alpha-male warriors and they worked for me here. It helped, too, that we met several who intrigued me and kept me entertained beyond just the main characters.
I enjoyed Nicole through most of the book. Romantic heroines are very often the weak link in books for me, and truthfully, Nicole had her moments, too, most notably late in the book, but I loved her bond with her sisters and she was a strong, independent woman who definitely knew her own mind. I was enamored of her from the moment she decides to use her talent to help people, long before she even knew what she is.
What she and her sisters are is probably my favorite aspect of the book. I totally dug the idea that they're so rare, even other supernaturals don't believe they are anything but myth. That tickled me, especially when Nicole keeps meeting supernaturals who express their disbelief. That made me grin every time. It was great.
I have to admit, though, I wasn't sold on the plot of the external conflict. Part of the problem for me was the limited amount of time given to it in the story. The Big Bag doesn't show up until the 67% mark and that was just too late in the book for his plot threads to really offer significant contribution to the story as a whole. It didn't help at all that Nicole had a few TSTL moments that led, in a painfully obvious manner, to a climax that seemed both predictable and abrupt.
There were also a few too many breakaway scenes for my tastes, scenes that focused on secondary and ancillary characters. I didn't mind Kai's. I liked him a lot and I loved the acrimony between him and Nicole's sister Brooke. It may be easy to see where that's headed, but I adore that sort of conflict, so I'm totally on board with their impending tale and loved how it was set up in this book. And as his story is up next in the series, it made sense that he and Brooke had some groundwork laid here.
Raniero's, on the other hand, was a problem for me on several different levels.
I would much rather have had the story offer more depth and definition to the bad guy and his plans instead of pages of excessively detailed information about Raniero's past. And that's not even touching the issue I had with his supposed endless love and relentless search for Ashina - given that he's spent all his free time since he last saw her, and I quote, "buried between the willing thighs of beautiful females." Made it hard to feel anything at all for the pages of tragic history that preceded that little gem and it didn't exactly endear me to Raniero as a character.
Plus, he wasn't a significant enough character for any of that to be necessary in this book to begin with, so all of it just completely turned me off.
The meat of the overall story seemed to focus more on the sexual and emotional relationship between Gunnar and Nicole than on the bad guy doing bad things, and that was really my biggest issue. There was a lot of sex in the story. It was very hot sex, for sure, but for me to really enjoy that much in a book I need other story elements to be given equal attention, and that didn't quite happen. My preferences lie with a more robust external conflict and a more plot-driven narrative. To me, the relationship between the main characters overpowered everything else and the romance itself got a little too schmaltzy for me by the end.
The good points in the story didn't quite outweigh my issues, but to be fair, the majority of those issues are a personal preference thing. For fans of paranormal romance with more attention on the R than the PN, the very things that didn't work so well for me would totally appeal. And because of those good points, not to mention the delicious teasers for Kai and Brooke's story, I'm looking forward to revisiting the world and seeing how Kay deals with a different character dynamic.
Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me by the author for review. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ~*~*~*~ Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.(less)
Man, I hate to say this, but this one didn't work for me at all. A lot of that is absolutely no fault of the book's, though. This is a PNR that focuse...moreMan, I hate to say this, but this one didn't work for me at all. A lot of that is absolutely no fault of the book's, though. This is a PNR that focuses much more heavily on the R than the PN, and I prefer a more balanced narrative with a a complex and well defined external conflict. I'm sorry to say I spent most of this one annoyed by both MCs and their seemingly never-ending worry about what they were feeling for each other when there was some pretty heavy stuff going on around them that didn't get half the development or attention.
I just prefer any potentially catastrophic demonic dominion to be a serious enough threat to occasionally draw the hero and heroine's attention away from their lusty-yummy thoughts and recurring angst about whether or not they really care for each other.
Full review to come, but I'm glad to see my opinion is in the minority. This wasn't my favorite effort by the author, but I'm happy that I'm the statistical outlier on that.(less)
Too Many Issues Ty Duncan is a Special Agent with the FBI...on paper, anyway...but since being tortured and turned into a vampire against his will six...moreToo Many Issues Ty Duncan is a Special Agent with the FBI...on paper, anyway...but since being tortured and turned into a vampire against his will six months ago, he - and a small group of specialized agents - work for the covert group called the Belladonna Agency. Belladonna has a specific purpose: stop Rogue vampires at any cost.
To that end, Ty has been sent to Seattle to recruit a new Belladonna member. Seven years ago, Ana Martin was known as Eliana Garcia, street-wise gang member and a favorite of the gang leader. Those gang ties are why Balladonna needs her. They need access to a place run by Ana's former gang leader, a place that may be a front for a Rogue blood slave market.
Now all Ty has to do is convince a very wary Ana to return to the life she's worked so hard to forget while fighting a desire for the feisty woman that stirs all his darkest yearnings - for her body, her blood, and most dangerous of all, her heart.
I had a lot of problems with this series debut by DePaul. The world building is pretty sparse, and what few details are provided stick to the broadest of broad strokes. I would have liked to have had a clearer idea of just how long the FBI have known about vampires (the book says "years" but not how many), how they found out about them, how long before they gave up on the born vampires and decided on trusting Rogues for their turning program (which, as far as I'm concerned, puts the FBI fully in the TSTL category, because really - there was no way that was going to end any way but badly), how many recruits have been turned, and what roles those turned recruits had in the FBI.
Not that having answers to any of those questions would have improved my opinion of the FBI's callous disregard for life or their general idiocy, but it may have given me a better handle on the world and the reason for Belladonna's existence.
Its supposed purpose is to quietly clean up the Rogue problem so the FBI could get back to making their turned vamps. That never struck me as the noblest mission statement, given the FBI's duplicitous and suspect actions, but maybe a clearer picture of their history with vampires and their beneficial utilization of turned recruits would have helped.
And not for nothing, but it seemed odd to me that neither the FBI nor anyone in Belladonna seemed to know all that much about vampires. Not even Ty, who was one. I'd think that at least knowing how to kill one would be one of the first things the FBI would want to learn about deadly creatures they're stockpiling.
There were too many problems and troubling elements with the world, the vampires, the FBI, and Belladonna in general for my comfort, but one point in particular stripped away my ability to willingly suspend disbelief. According to the mythos, the act of turning a vampire is fatal to the maker. At face value that's not a problem, but when I thought about Ty's brutal turning and certain other story elements, that detail created way more trouble than it was worth, making several plot points seem highly implausible.
But my problems with the book extended beyond those weighty issues. As characters, I thought Ty and Ana were the strongest part of the book. I liked them both as individuals. Ty's issues with his vampirism and Ana's ties to her sister gave them each depth and helped shape their definition. Unfortunately, I wasn't nearly as fond of them together as a couple.
Their initial chemistry was strong, and I liked the level of heat between them, but as their relationship progressed it started to sputter under conflicts that were inconsistent and hard to follow. Some of that was a reflection of the two characters who were, themselves, inconsistent at times. I had a hard time figuring out exactly what was bothering each of them with the relationship, or determining from one chapter to the next which one was martyring themselves for the greater good. And when I was able to follow the twists, I didn't like what I found.
Ana, in particular, committed what I consider an ultimate sin for a romantic heroine. At one point she pushes Ty away in a completely unequivocal...and rather hurtful manner, completely repudiating any significance in their relationship, then gets all wounded and insecure when as a result, Ty pulls back and treats her strictly professionally. I hate that sort of hypocrisy.
Secondary and ancillary characters, like the other women recruited to Belladonna, had potential to add positives to the story, but they ended up getting little definition and had almost no impact on me one way or the other. They were just too underutilized. Though I do think the reason they were tapped for Belladonna, once revealed, was incredibly weak considering the importance of the jobs they have been recruited to do and the training that would be necessary to do it effectively without getting themselves killed.
Altogether, there were just too many things stacked against this book for me. Too many elements didn't appeal; too many questions left unanswered. Far too many things that just didn't make sense. As a series debut, it posed too many problems for me to feel any desire to follow the Belladonna Agency into the next book.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Bantam Dell publisher Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ~*~*~*~ Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.(less)
~* 4.5 Stars *~ Totally Righteous Read They call him John the Baptist, the serial killer who likes to nail young women to a cross and stab them in the s...more~* 4.5 Stars *~ Totally Righteous Read They call him John the Baptist, the serial killer who likes to nail young women to a cross and stab them in the side before dumping them into one of Portland's rivers. FBI Special Agent Luca Ramirez has been hunting him for months, driven to stop a madman before he can kill again.
He is just coming off a fourteen hour shift when he gets the call. Another body has been found at the river. She's been crucified like the others. Stabbed like the others. But unlike those poor lost girls, John the Baptist's latest victim is still alive.
Hero Katrova-Connor survived a nightmarish hell against all odds, but survival and safety are two different things, and the Baptist isn't done with her yet. Going undercover to keep her alive is just another part of Luca's job, but the longer the investigation goes on, his growing feelings for the woman get harder and harder to ignore. She becomes more than just a job to him. She's the woman he'll die to protect.
This series debut by new-to-me author Byrne hit so many of my Happy Reader buttons I was practically vibrating with book-crack bliss. The wealth of solid plot-driven suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, the humor that peppered the narrative was right up my alley, and Luca and Hero had so much sexual chemistry sizzling between them that I was glad I was reading on my Kindle. No worry about the pages going up in flames that way.
Hey, it was a legitimate concern. Yowza.
The uber-alpha male Luca stole this show. He was rockin' the personal demons and aggression management disorder. Often grim, sometimes broody, with a fairly bleak self image, he thought himself little better than the monsters he is so good at catching. That would have been more than enough to appeal to me, but in Luca's case, there was this whole other level to him that completely stole my heart.
He was just so completely and obviously butt over brains for Hero from the moment they met, fighting it every step of the way (of course) out of a mix of professionalism (or, you know, fear) and male stupidity, and was utterly endearing for all of it. Well...if a gun-toting, foul-mouthed, hot-tempered, four-hundred-dollar-shoes-wearing alpha male can be called endearing. His struggle with his desire for Hero was the source of many humorous moments in the book and I savored them all.
Then there's Hero. Artist. Yoga instructor. A little bit of a hippy. She celebrates her individuality and embraces her sexuality. Strong, independent, spirited, maybe a little sheltered, she is the best thing to ever happen to Luca and she knocks him for a loop, tickling me pink in the process. Her personality was a breath of fresh air and I loved how she acts and reacts to things in the story.
And there was nothing I loved more than the fact that while Hero may have been victimized by a serial killer, at no point in the book was she ever a victim.
Serial killers are my favorite type of Bad Guy in romantic suspense fiction and there was a very solid plot arc surrounding John the Baptist in the book. It could have been given a bit more prevalence in the story at times. There were a few places I thought the story was focusing a bit too much on the evolving relationship of the main characters and not quite enough on the murder investigation. To be honest, though, that's not really a complaint. I loved Luca and Hero so much that it didn't really bother me their relationship arc got more of the story's focus, but I would have liked just a bit more balance in places.
That said, if it came down to choosing between better balance and giving up a single moment of the several stellar scenes with Hero's family, then I'm happy to live with the imbalance, because the Katrova-Connor clan stole every scene in which they were included. Admittedly, the book's prologue threw me a little at first, but when Bryne ties that scene to Hero's family dynamic further into the book, I was totally sold and seriously crushing on every single person in the Katrova-Connor clan.
Frankly, there just wasn't anything in the book that I didn't like. It was a fun, sometimes serious, suspenseful, dangerous, smoking hot read with characters that explode across the pages with vibrant intensity. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the next book in the series, anxious to get those Happy Reader buttons pushed yet again.
Okay, now she was just being a bitch, but at least she could fortify the moral high ground by avoiding being childish. Because he started it.
"I thought you were a vegetarian." "I am." Hero closed her eyes to savor the smell. "Thus the Tofurkey." "But there's bacon in it." She shrugged. "Well yeah, but it's bacon." Knox nodded his agreement. "Bacon is meat. It comes from a pig," Luca said. "It doesn't count as meat because it's bacon." She was looking at him as though he was the one who'd lost his mind. "That makes no sense." "It doesn't have to make sense, bro," Knox said sagely. "It's bacon."
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by the author for review. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ~*~*~*~ Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.(less)
Jack the Ripper, Steampunk, and Romance, Oh My!! A vicious killer is slashing his way through the soot-slicked streets of New London's Whitechapel dist...moreJack the Ripper, Steampunk, and Romance, Oh My!! A vicious killer is slashing his way through the soot-slicked streets of New London's Whitechapel district, leaving the broken, bloody bodies of prostitutes in his wake.
King's Sentry Sergeant Samuel Hawkins has, in the course of his police work, had the occasional dealing with an Archivist in the five years since he fled their Guild, but Piper Smith isn't just any Archivist. Her arrival at his crime scene affects him more deeply than he was expecting. Once both best friend and deepest desire, Piper was little more than a girl when he'd begged her to leave the Guild with him all those years ago.
She stayed. He couldn't. But he never got over her.
Now both a fully grown woman and a full-fledged Archivist, Piper embraces her role as a memory retrieval agent for the Guild, though the shock of seeing Sam again almost ruins her first job. She's at the scene to take the memories of his murder victim, not to rehash their relationship, and focus is paramount. What she sees in the memories of the murdered woman, however, will shake more than Piper's focus, it will shake the very foundation on which she's built her life.
As more bodies are found and a deadly finger of accusation points towards the Archivists' Guild, Sam and Piper will have to take a hard look at their own past and the secrets buried there. And just hope like hell they survive it.
Sometimes you just know, ya know?
I wasn't even a tenth of the way into this book before I knew it was going to really work for me. Between initial impressions of the dark, complex Steampunk world, the grim sense of danger and mystery in the opening murder scene, and the intriguing history and emotional detritus between the main characters, the story snatched me up from the start and kept me captivated throughout.
What a world. What a dark, dangerous, well-conceived and deftly-written world. I enjoy Steampunk for the imaginative, mechanically-enhanced alternative history inherent in the genre, but have to admit, the stories themselves are hit or miss for me. D'Abo struck just the right cord for my tastes, weaving a wealth of clever Steampunk elements together with a creative twist on Jack the Ripper, and did it in such a way that it enriched the various dramatic conflicts in the story without extraneous over-description or too much superfluous detail. Everything blended together nicely to provide a robust tapestry of story and substance.
The characters themselves were as carefully and intently created, and they acquitted themselves very well in the story. I think I preferred Samuel over Piper by a slim margin, though that had more to do with my sympathy for his traumatic childhood, as well as greater understanding of the choices he made and actions he took (as opposed to Piper's) both in his past and during the murder investigations. The guy is definitely dragging around a few demons, and D'Abo was deliciously cagey about disclosing those demons to her readers, but it painted a very solid and three dimensional picture of him as a slightly flawed, definitely damaged romantic hero.
Not that I didn't like Piper. I completely did. I found her wonderfully independent, feisty, stubborn, and fiercely loyal. I just also happened to be as disturbed by the Archivists' Guild purpose and presence in the world as Sam was, so the fact that Piper was a very determined Archivist, willfully and knowingly putting holes in her mind for an alleged greater good, was a bit harder to relate to than the guy who had escaped them and went on to make a career for himself in law enforcement.
They did fit together nicely as a romantic couple, though, with a chemistry that extended far beyond sexual and included an obvious and genuine childhood friendship. I loved the snippets of their past that get revealed in well-timed flashes throughout the book. Frequent flashbacks in a story rarely work for me and tend to jar me out of the flow of the current-timeline plot, but D'Abo mastered the transitions smoothly and had a judicious eye for how and when to incorporate them to add depth to the story and the relationship between Sam and his Pip.
I enjoyed the hell out of the Jack the Ripper investigation, too, but have to admit, I got a little lost when it came to a political element in the investigation. That aspect of the world hadn't been explained quite enough for me to really understand everywhere the leads in the case took Sam and Piper. I didn't have trouble following the action, but I definitely felt an emotional disconnect with the story when it came to a few scenes.
And honestly, the resolution to the climax of the book left me feeling...disturbed and a bit unsatisfied.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the culmination of the Ripper investigation, and thought the evolution of Sam and Pip's relationship was nicely done. D'Abo built plot and relationship conflict from the first page of this book, adding layers of horror and dread, dastardly motivation and sick psychosis, and connected it all Sam's murky past in such a way that I was left impressed by the complexities and entertained by it all. I heartily enjoyed that very much.
How it resolved, though, and what it all means in the big picture, disturbed me. And it's virtually impossible to be any more specific without some huge spoilers and I don't want to do that. I will say this: I don't think there is anything right or good about the Archivists' Guild. Not one thing. That may pose a problem for me in future books depending on its role in the series. It definitely posed a problem for me at the end of this book.
It took a bit of the bloom off what was otherwise a passionate and perilous, wildly imaginative, darkly entertaining, bloody-red rose.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever Yours publisher Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ~*~*~*~ Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.(less)
Great Psychological Thriller with Paranormal Elements Homicide detective Mason Brown broke the very law he's worked his entire adult life to uphold. In...moreGreat Psychological Thriller with Paranormal Elements Homicide detective Mason Brown broke the very law he's worked his entire adult life to uphold. In his defense, he had a very good reason. There was no way he could let his mother, his sister-in-law, or his two nephews find out that the man they knew as a beloved son, husband, and father, the man Mason himself knew as a big brother, was, in fact, a cold-blooded serial killer.
When his brother suicides in Mason's apartment, leaving a self-pitying note of confession and a horrific mess to deal with, Mason does the best he can. He hides the evidence, and given the chance to make some sort of amends, donates his brother's organs. He hopes that saving some lives will balance out, just a little, what his brother took from so many.
After twenty years of blindness, the corneal transplant that restores Rachel De Luca's sight is like a miracle. Like something the famous self-help guru spouts in one of her own books, not that she's ever believed her own drivel, as wildly successful as it may be. As it turns out, Rachel's miracle is not without a few...glitches.
The nightmares of blood and gore and visions of murder start on her first night home from the hospital. Seeing and feeling the actions of a vicious killer is as confusing as it is terrifying, and as another victim falls, it makes Rachel wonder just what sort of person her donor had been. And how much the cop responsible for her transplant really knows.
Mason is absolutely certain that the serial killer dubbed The Wraith is dead. But when another victim is taken, and the woman who got his brother's corneas shows up, knowing things she shouldn't know about the crime, he doesn't know what to think. He just knows Rachel De Luca holds the key to figuring it out. If she doesn't end up being targeted by a dead killer first.
I'm so anal about series reading order that it's virtually unheard of for me to go back to read an earlier book in a series after I've read a latter one, but I literally couldn't help myself with this series debut by Shayne. I so enjoyed the characters in this series' second book, Wake to Darkness, I wanted to read Mason and Rachel's introduction, even though the second book tipped me off to several points in the first. And I was pleasantly surprised at how much of this book was still a mystery even after reading that one.
With a point of view that shifts between Rachel's first person perspective and a third person omniscient when focusing on Mason and glimpses of the killer, this series works for me in both style and substance. The concept isn't a new one. Heroine gets a corneal transplant and starts seeing death and mayhem because of the donor. Books and movies have tread that ground before. It was Rachel who set this book apart.
She was awesome. Sarcastic, often bitchy, and not exactly the most patient person on the planet, she's not your typical helpless, blind-then-newly sighted heroine. And she's no one's damsel in distress. Plus, she's a self-proclaimed fraud who writes writes wildly popular self-help books full of touchy-feely crap and disdains the very people who buy into them. I loved her.
As tough and independent as she was, she was a total softie with Myrtle (love Myrt!). She took no prisoners when faced with some pretty horrific images and definite woo-woo stuff, but took such gentle care of the old, blind dog. She was stubbornly self-sufficient and intelligent, but she also had a heart that lent warmth to her character. It didn't hurt she had such a biting and sarcastic sense of humor, either. That's one of my favorite things in a character.
I liked Mason, too. Maybe not quite as much as I did Rachel, but beyond being a gorgeous bit of man candy, I felt bad for the guy. He did the best he could for his family when it came to the fact his brother had been killing people for years. And the chemistry between him and Rachel pleased my romance-loving heart even though it never really becoming a focus in the narrative.
The plot of the book appealed to me, too. I'm a big fan of serial killer psychological suspense, an even bigger fan of paranormal romance, so the blending of the two in the story worked really well for me.
I do wish there had been a bit more explanation or backstory to better explain Eric's psychosis both before and after he died. I like having reasons for things, so there were elements that could have had a bit more definition in that regard. Too, the book went a little off the rails for me during the climax. Due to the nature of the tale, it skirts plausibility from the start, which I'm perfectly fine with, but there was a scene in the climax that went so far beyond plausible that it pretty effectively crushed my willing suspension of disbelief at a crucial moment.
Sound travels on a lake, man, that's all I'm saying.
All-in-all, though, there was a nice blend of character-driven psychological thriller and paranormal mystery with a thread of romance and it kept me entertained throughout.
I already know what comes next in the series, and highly recommend it if you liked this one. I think I prefer the external conflict in this one a little better than in that one, but for me, the storyline isn't the most appealing element of either read. The characters are. I love Rachel so much, and like Mason too, that I'll be following along with their antics for as long as I can. Heck, I must love them, I went back and read a series out of order for them. That's a huge deal for me.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Harlequin MIRA via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ~*~*~*~ Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.(less)
My full review will be coming, and I KNOW I'm in the minority here, but I had some big problems with this book. Not only was I completely tur...moreOh man...
My full review will be coming, and I KNOW I'm in the minority here, but I had some big problems with this book. Not only was I completely turned off by some pretty egregious gender bias in this book (womenfolk: breed, watch the young 'uns, do all the chores while menfolk: thump their chests, drink their beers, ride their toys, and scratch their balls), I wasn't crazy about either main character nor their story, especially the uber-abrupt resolution to a conflict that was a pressing issue throughout the whole book.
Despite my adoration of the way this book starts, I couldn't make it to the 35% mark before I put it down. Not only did Matt (the "hero") wear on my n...moreDespite my adoration of the way this book starts, I couldn't make it to the 35% mark before I put it down. Not only did Matt (the "hero") wear on my nerves with his mewling angst about his oh-so-secret dirt-poor past and the losses that have left an indelible mark on his character, Kayla (the heroine) was a bit too forward and the "romance" revved up too fast for my personal tastes.
I'm all for girl power and love that Kayla was strong enough to act on her attraction to Matt, but I would've liked just a smidge more professionalism on their first meeting...and inviting yourself to sleep over for a night of sweaty monkey sex for their second date crossed more than a few of my lines. There's a big difference between confident sexual assertion and acting like a big 'ho, and for me, she crossed it.
Had he been a bit more alpha-male and she just a little more reserved, I think this would have worked well for me. I did like the voice of the narrative, and I was enjoying the forestry and sap production education. Just not enough to put up with either character for the whole book.(less)