Biggest weakness: Adventure and beautiful women—especially when combined in one caliente cook!
Danger is bodyguard Chance Berringer’s first, last and middle name. Protecting celebrity chef Ana Perez—a hot little firecracker with a mouth to match—for two weeks in Mexico is more vacation than job. Just keep his eyes on her, and his hands off. How hard can it be?
Ana doesn’t want a babysitter during the holidays. Even if Chance’s muscled hotness (complete with wicked grin) makes him a mouthwatering dish…. But when the heat starts sizzling in the bedroom—and beyond—will this hot tamale cause more trouble than Chance can handle?
Dear Ms. Hunter:
His Kind of Trouble contains a number of things I prefer to avoid when reading romance. It has a muscled, cocky hero with a silly name– Chance by name…chance by nature!—who spends much of his mental energy thinking “I’d like to tap that,” a feisty heroine who is a cultural stereotype—the curvaceous hot Latina who loves to cook and has a temper—and routinely makes Too Stupid To Live choices, a supermodel thin plot, and an “it’s all weddings and babies” epilogue.
Chance is the youngest of a group of brothers who provide security. In the first two books in Ms. Hunter’s The Berringers series, two of his older brothers fell in love with the women they were protecting and it’s clear Chance is headed down that path from the moment he meets his assignment, Ana Perez. Ana is the host of a very successful cooking reality show and someone has been anonymously threatening her. The TV studio–not Ana–hires Chance to be Ana’s bodyguard. Ana, because she’s so damn feisty, doesn’t want a bodyguard. (She’d rather be independent than alive.)
When Ana first meets Chance, she thinks he’s her stalker because he, wanting to prove to anyone and everyone that it would be really easy to break into Ana’s dressing room and kill her, breaks into Ana’s dressing room late at night while Ana is still there and lounges on her couch. Ana, when she walks in and sees him, is terrified but immediately berates him for hurting the building’s elderly security guard (while checking out his package.)
The man reached into his pocket, pulled out a small black phone. “Your security guy left his phone on the front desk when he went to the men’s room,” the man said laconically. “The studio definitely needs to beef up the night watch. It was easy as kittens to get in here. I could have been anyone.
Someone who does want to hurt you.”
She blinked. “What do you mean?”
He walked toward her and put out his hand, and she had another chance to appreciate the solid mass of muscle that allowed him to move with a dangerous kind of masculine grace. Cocky, self-assured, powerful and not at all worried about being caught. Certainly not afraid of her.
She was dismayed to hear a panicked squeak emit from between her lips.
As if he was dealing with a frightened animal, he bent down to her level.
“Ana, my name is Chance Berringer. I’m your bodyguard,” he said…
This scene, like most of the book, made me want to smack both Chance and Ana. It’s a dick move on his part—she’s being stalked; he breaks into her dressing room then treats her as though she’s a toddler. Ana, though panicked, takes time to check out Chance’s bod. She, as she does repeatedly, acts as though the threat against her is miniscule; her first and typical response to danger is to have a temper tantrum.
Once Ana understands who Chance is, she makes it clear to him she doesn’t want his help. The very next day, Ana plans to head home to Mexico for the New Year holidays where she intends to relax for a couple of weeks—despite the fact her small Mayan village in the Yucatán is home to drug gangs who have for years, “terrorized” her people. Chance tells her he will be coming too. Ana, even though she has just received yet another creepy note from her stalker (he broke into her apartment and left an envelope full of dead rose petals), attempts to give Chance the slip. Chance, of course, is three steps ahead of her and essentially kidnaps her, takes her to his private plane, and flies her to Mexico.
By the time the plane has landed Ana and Chance are both planning to get in each other’s pants.
He had great hands.
She wanted to know what they would feel like on her skin, for real, not in her dreams. Ana thought that was a very real possibility.
Chance’s mind blanked and his body reacted to her scent and the soft curve of her ass pressing into his lap. Her fingers grabbed his shoulder to steady herself as she wiggled forward, trying to pull herself back upright. Her skirt had ridden up to new heights, exposing a delectable view of smooth upper thigh that made Chance ache to know what was hidden just a few inches higher. Her wiggling against him wasn’t helping.
“I’m so sorry,” she said on a breath, her face mere inches from his. “Clumsy.”
“Not your fault. Turbulence,” he said, sounding a bit hoarse.
Her lips looked delicious. Big, brown eyes widened as Ana watched him watch her, and it was all Chance could do not to pull her in closer and have a taste.
Once they arrive in Ana’s home town Hatsutsil, which just outside of the city of Mérida, Ana and Chance begin having great sex, eating fabulous meals, and dodging death. It turns out Hatsutsil is harboring someone who wants Ana killed which has nothing to do with the stalker in the States. This new threat is a bummer for Ana and Chance who would rather make love in what seem to be sacred Mayan ruins.
They entered a wide, much lower tunnel that seemed to squeeze the light from the spot where they had emerged, and for a moment, Chance wondered if this was safe. But, Ana walked ahead at a steady, confident rate, obviously knowing where she was going. It got very dark before they turned a corner toward light again, and emerged in a smaller cave that was lit only with dappled sunshine from far above. There were markings on the walls, and ornate statues and carvings that surrounded the area, almost like unfound treasure.
“What is this?” he asked.
Ana knelt by the side of the rock shelf, and dipped her hand down, and scooped up a handful of mud.
Chance smiled. “I’ve heard of this. Terracotta mud pools.”
“Mud baths, yes. This one is used only by the people of our village, guarded closely, as it is believed to have healing and even magical properties.”
“What are all the carvings and the markings?”
“Some are millennia old. Some are from last week, offered at the seasonal changes, connections to the old ones, ancestors, and gods. Many people in our village still follow old ways.”
Ms. Hunter does throw in bits of info about the Maya and the Yucatán but it’s fairly superficial. There’s a sub-plot involving Ana’s sister Lucia and Ana’s childhood fiancé Marco that makes very little sense but does allow for extra mayhem at the end of the book.
His Kind of Trouble is not my kind of novel. The characters are bland and annoying; the plot, silly and baffling; the writing, colorless and repetitive. And while I acknowledge a personal prediction for epilogue-free fare, this novel’s epilogue is so smug I wanted to suck a lemon after reading it. I give His Kind of Trouble a D.
I picked up Dark Watersbecause I'd read and enjoyed your 2010 release Sea of Suspicion. As I began to read Sea of Suspicion, I was struck by how much it reminded me of Anne Stuart's Moonrise, albeit with a less wimpy heroine. Both books have a killer for a hero and a daughter in need. Both books have the heroine come to the hero's deserted house at night and have him think she's there to kill him. Both heroines have serious sexual hang-ups which dissolve in the face of the hero's magical touch. Both books have a power-mad shadowy general who is a deranged threat to world peace. Dark Waters's heroine is Anna; Moonrise's is Annie. You get the idea.
I liked Dark Waters a bit better than Moonrise. Dark Waters's hero is saner and the heroine stronger. The plot is marginally less whacked. Both books are C reads.
Your heroine, Anna Silver, is a schoolteacher with a sad story. When she was a teen, her father was convicted of embezzling money and sentenced to a long jail term. Her mom fell apart and then remarried a control freak whose son raped Anna on the night of her senior prom. Anna has grown up to be a loner who can't stand to be touched by any man. She's still angry at her father although she's made an effort to stay connected to him since he got out of prison.
The book opens with Anna's father Davis discovering his employers--a shady charitable organization that ostensibly helps injured vets--are stealing millions. Davis transfers sixty million dollars into another account, prints off a list detailing where the money has gone, and leaves his office. He is immediately chased by two thugs he knows will kill him. He mails the list off before they catch him to "an old but familiar address" and runs into the subway. In his last few moments he calls Anna from his cell phone and leaves her a panicked message.
Anna, I’m in big trouble. But I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear it.... I’m on my way to the FBI offices, but they’re too close. I’m never going to make it. They’re gonna kill me. They’re going to be looking for their money. I mailed you the printouts, but they don’t know where I sent it. You know. Take the information to the feds.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and held the phone so tight it was a wonder the casing didn’t crack. What had he been involved in? Something illegal?
“You need to get out of there until things quiet down.” The fine hairs on the nape of her neck stood upright. “Dammit, I’ve done it again.” Please, no, Papa. “I love you. And I’m sorry for everything. There’s only one person I trust besides you, you know that, right? Go to him, tonight. Tell him I’m cashing in those promises we made one another.”
The him is Brent Carver, the man who was Davis's only friend in prison. Anna's never met Brent, but she's heard her father talk of him and knows where Brent lives. Anna, upon learning her father has been killed, decides to take her father's advice.
Brent, like Anna, had an awful childhood. He killed his abusive father when he was a teen and served twenty years in prison. He's been out for four years and, in that time, has become a reclusive world-famous artist. (He paints under an assumed name.) He lives an isolated life on the west coast of Vancouver Island. He is a total loner--the only woman he ever cared for was murdered last year (that story is told in Dangerous Waters and has Brent's younger brother Finn as the hero.) Brent has enough self-loathing in him to stymie even Dr. Phil. He paints, broods, and swims. Then broods some more. He is, of course, gorgeous, but he hasn't slept with a woman since he was sent to the pokey.
Anna shows up on his doorstep at two in the morning. Brent, who was brooding on his front porch naked, initially thinks she must be there for some nefarious purpose and pins her against his door. She screams, he drags her into his house, gets an awkward erection, and demands to know who she is. It takes the two of them a while to sort out the situation, but once they do, Brent is adamant Anna needs to let him help her.
The two of them stood close in the darkness. Too close. The hollows of her collarbone and graceful line of her neck called to something primitive inside him, and he had to force himself not to touch. She’d grown from the pretty teen he’d seen in photographs, into a pretty woman—maybe even beautiful. But her oval face was punctuated by that stubborn jaw that would have told him she’d be trouble even if she hadn’t landed in his lap in the middle of the night. Harsh gasps made her breasts stretch the thin fabric of her shirt, but as her expression once again morphed into fear, he worked very hard not to notice.
Fear wasn’t the same as weakness. Everyone in jail was intimately acquainted with the difference.
“Look.” He held his hands aloft and stepped back. “You can leave any time you want. I don’t want you here any more than you want to be here, but…” Her bottom lip stuck out just enough to set off a chain reaction in his body that ended at his dick. Off limits, partner. “Your dad was the only friend I had in prison and more like a father than my own.”
Anna and Brent then spend the next week and 250 pages avoiding the creeps who killed her father while trying to keep from acting on the attraction they feel. Brent thinks he's too old (he's almost 40, Anna's 26) and too damaged and just plain too bad for sweet Anna. Anna finds Brent's alpha male hotness both arousing and, given her history, terrifying. The bad guys chase the two while shooting and assaulting innocent by-standers. Anna's mom sees whales and a way to marital freedom. There are snipers. Anna finds the package and sneaks peeks at Brent's package. She realizes the truth about her father. Brent broods.
All of this takes too many pages--Dark Waters would have been a better book had it been a third shorter. On the upside, the plot is interesting and Ms. Anderson writes descriptive scenes well. Brent has a dry sense of humor that lightens the darkness of his tale. Anna's mom is deftly portrayed. I'd like to see Brent's art--he's more Rothko than Kinkade.
By the end, Brent believes he's worthy of Anna and Anna has overcome her sexual reluctance with zest. The latter bothered me more than the former--honestly, I was thrilled to encounter less brooding.
I was discomfited with the way Anna so easily overcame years of disabling sexual shame.
(view spoiler)[I could believe she was attracted to Brent. I couldn't believe that in less than a week of meeting him and having been kissed by him once, Anna told her story, shed her fears, and found her orgasmic self. In a way, her relatively easy conquest over her past trauma made that trauma seem less powerful. Given that she's spent ten years being unable to be touched by or feel passion for a man, and has been unable to connect emotionally with anyone, it's clear her teenage rape shaped her profoundly. One night on a beach with a guy who has been essentially celibate his entire adult life--this just adds to the weirdness--is unlikely to "cure" her. It's clear Ms. Anderson has great sympathy for victims of rape and her portrayal of that crime and its influence is detailed and sympathetic. Her able handling of the damage rape does makes her quick fix stand out as facile and, in 2013, unaware. (hide spoiler)]
Those looking for a strong romantic suspense novel would be better served reading Sea of Suspicion (or good Anne Stuart) than Dark Waters. Dark Waters has its strengths but lacks the credibility necessary to make its HEA believable. It gets a C+ from me.
P.S. And maybe it's just me but there's no way sand adds a "fine layer of friction" to sex. There's a reason for beach blankets.
Not only didn't I like this book, there's really too little book to even dislike. Hero's Redemption of like a novel written in shorthand--all the scen...moreNot only didn't I like this book, there's really too little book to even dislike. Hero's Redemption of like a novel written in shorthand--all the scenes that would explain the story are missing.(less)
I had hoped to love this book. I thought Ms. Lerner’s debut, In for a Penny, was marvelous. I did not love this book…but I did really like it. And I t...moreI had hoped to love this book. I thought Ms. Lerner’s debut, In for a Penny, was marvelous. I did not love this book…but I did really like it. And I thought the unusually beta hero was a wonderful character. Ultimately, my lack of love for this novel stems from my lack of love for its heroine.
to read the rest of my review, go to All About Romance:
I realized I wasn’t enjoying this Victorian romance when, for the tenth night in a row, I avoided the book. I turned on my Kindle and, instead of open...moreI realized I wasn’t enjoying this Victorian romance when, for the tenth night in a row, I avoided the book. I turned on my Kindle and, instead of opening the aptly named “Review These Books Now!” collection in which this book was stored; I yet again clicked on my “Ballin’ Bodice Rippers” list and happily re-read bits and pieces of other historicals I love. I found An Affair with Mr. Kennedy a chore to read.
The novel takes place in London in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Our hero, the thoroughly modern Zeno “Zak” Kennedy is a detective for Scotland Yard. The brilliant, clever, dedicated, athletic Zeno has a skill set so prodigious that, by the time he turned out to be a hell of a tenor with a facility for Italian opera, I abandoned any idea of seeing him as a plausible character. Zeno is a man with a mission; three years ago, a deadly bombing at King’s Cross left him missing a lover and unwaveringly determined to rid London of explosive-oriented anarchists. Currently, he’s got his eagle eye on a group of secretly seditious lords — he calls them the Bloody Four - who, Zeno believes, plan to explode a series of bombs in order to spark a violent Irish revolt which would then cause the House of Lords to vote against Irish Home Rule and thus create a possible path towards ultimate Irish independence.
One of these aristocrats, Gerald St. Clair, happens to be the brother-in-law of an impossibly gorgeous young widow, Cassandra St. Clare. The Yard wonders if Cassandra, who is also connected to another of the possible Bloody Four, the odious Lord Delamere, could be a part of the Fenian plot. Cassandra, conveniently, just moved into a townhouse in Belgravia owned by Zak which is (sigh) adjacent to his. Super sexy Cassandra, after a brief and constraining marriage, is living a rather outré life. She is an (extraordinarily talented) artist (her uber-progressive parents sent her to Paris to study when she was just seventeen where she drank, painted, and got a tattoo), rides a bicycle, lives on her own, and once she sees her fine-looking landlord, takes a lover with ease.
Zak and Cassie begin a passionate affair despite Zak’s lack of transparency about his initial interest in her. The two can’t get enough of each other, which was inopportune; I’d had enough of them as a couple by the hundredth page. Ms. Stone’s sexual prose is clunky; her descriptions of the bawdy shenanigans between Cassie and Zak veer from awkward to icky. Zak has “a brute of a penis.” Cassie, the morning after the two have first made love, as her maid Cecile serves the naked lovers breakfast in bed describes him (in French) to as “frightfully large and as hard as a Bengal tiger.” In one of many overwrought love scenes, Zak makes love to Cassie with his “throbbing shaft” as she murmurs “musical and mysterious female whispers and growls.”
This is just a partial review. To read the complete review, please go to All About Romance:
"Sometimes—in fact, lots of times--I just want a down and dirty bad boy hero who sweeps into town, throws the good girl over his shoulders and drags her off to a happy ending. This bad boy does and then gets the nice girl story has been done many times by Shannon McKenna, sometimes well (think Extreme Danger) and, unfortunately for this reviewer, sometimes terribly. It’s hard to find much to like about Ms. McKenna’s overblown Return to Me.
The hero, Simon, is a self-absorbed jerk whose behavior between the sheets is so aggressive it’s kinda gross. The woman he’s burning for, Ellen, he deflowered and then dumped seventeen years ago. But Ellen, an enabler if ever I’ve seen one, just lets him right back into her heart and other parts. I wish I could tell you why Ellen is such a pushover for Simon and his constantly feeling sorry for himself ways, but I can’t because Ms. McKenna hasn’t bothered to develop Ellen or Simon into in-depth characters.
Nor has she produced a coherent plot. As best I could tell, Simon left town after being accused of burning down a barn—we know he wasn’t really isn’t a bad guy because he did try to save the horses. Ellen stayed in town—and I mean stayed in town, it’s as if she has never been anywhere other than LaRue—and became the controlling owner of a bed and breakfast. We are supposed to think she’s sweet—as opposed to stupid--because she has an assistant who is terrible at all things bed-and-breakfasty but Ellen keeps her on, smiling benevolently when, yet again, Missy burns the muffins. Simon has come back to town because his uncle Gus shot himself and something about that just doesn’t feel right to Simon. That doesn’t stop him from constantly ruing that he’s returned to LaRue. (He feels he is brings bad luck to the entire town—yes, it really is all about him!) There’s a psycho villain who has disgusting flashbacks to Vietnam where he learned to enjoy setting others on fire. There’s an uptight guy, Brad, who was engaged to Ellen but really should be with Cora, a woman whose reputation he ruined. (Cora and Brad are actually much more interesting a couple than Simon and Ellen although that isn’t saying much.)
There’s lots and lots of sex and none of it’s very sexy. Both characters are described routinely as gorgeous, hot, and desirable, but given that neither of them were anyone I would ever want to meet, I found page after page of them moaning into each other’s mouth just plain out dull. Plus, the idea of this couple reproducing is so appalling, I kept worrying that one of the bazillions of condoms—Simon is a lot like the Energizer Bunny--they were using might fail. When Ellen and Simon aren’t in the sack, they spend way too much time feeling sorry for themselves. Ellen doubts herself for being with Simon, Simon doubts himself for being with Ellen. Halfway through the tale, I doubted myself for buying this book.
By the time I got to the incredibly bizarre scene where Simon and Ellen, escaping someone or something—it’s all a blur—, find themselves in a hidden grove filled with huge animal statues made by Simon’s dead mother, I gave up. I flipped to the end and was unhappy to see they appeared to having unprotected sex and planning a family. Hopefully, they and their progeny will never leave LaRue."(less)
"Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover and the couple on the cover of Ms. Petersen’s latest is downright skanky. The chick looks like a stripper...more"Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover and the couple on the cover of Ms. Petersen’s latest is downright skanky. The chick looks like a stripper at a mid-level men’s club. She’s got streaked layered hair, lots of black mascara, lip-glossed pink lips, and is aiming a sexy pout at whoever took this photo. The guy’s sporting “hot dude” stubble and a chest so smooth I suspect he waxes. They both look too modern and too much like possible porn stars. The cover of screams sizzling contemporary; its prose drones dismal historical."