By book three of Jack July's Amy Lynn series, the reader might reasonably think he has some idea what kind of book he will be reading. As with the preBy book three of Jack July's Amy Lynn series, the reader might reasonably think he has some idea what kind of book he will be reading. As with the previous two books, however, the answer is "yes … and no." Amy Lynn herself continues to develop and grow into a more rounded, multi-dimensional human being as each new phase of her life unfolds. If you've read the first two AL books, you already know Amy as a self-reliant, resilient girl, a confused young adult, an ice cold elite killer with a powerful moral compass, and a vulnerable woman in love. If I had to try to place each AL book into a genre, I'd call Book 1 a coming-of-age/origins story and Book 2 a fast-paced international crime thriller. While Book 3, The Lady of Castle Dunn, is undeniably a blood-curdling international crime thriller, it also manages to be a lavish romantic fantasy. Horrifying, inhumane murder somehow works side-by-side with one of the richest, deepest romances I've read in years. Only Jack July could pull this off.
In Castle Dunn, Amy struggles to combine the disparate facets of her identity – southern country girl, elite operative, and woman in love with a billionaire international playboy (now reformed and transformed by his love for her). Each of these facets comes with a family of its own, and Amy loves them all. But can she make them accept one another and remain part of her life? July's family and friend get-together scenes are entertaining and outstanding as all these unlikely people come together, bound by their love for Amy (and by her stubborn expectation that this WILL happen) and find things to admire and love in one another. Each of July's characters is so unique and multi-layered that these developing friendships actually seem quite natural, despite the huge differences in everyone's backgrounds. But that's what happens when good people get together in the spirit of good will, and it's great fun to read about it.
And then there's the story itself; actually, as usual, several interconnected stories. A dying millionaire buys himself a new lease on life – and a one-way ticket to hell. A storied Irish estate regains a long-lost heir and comes back to life. Friends old and new abound with ongoing stories of their own. And at the center if it all, a complex, damaged, one-of-a-kind, big-hearted woman finds true love. Throughout her difficult past, Amy has always struggled to overcome, do the right thing, be strong for others, and live a virtuous life, and in Book 3, she is rewarded with a man as complex and strong as she. This is where the series veers into romantic fantasy territory, a fantasy equally pleasing to male and female readers, and paints a richly blessed relationship that demonstrates the joys of true marriage done right.
Not that Castle Dunn isn't terribly dark in places and laugh-out-loud funny in others. July's imagination seems limitless. In full disclosure, let me mention that I am acquainted with the author online and he is just as witty and full of incredible stories in real life, too. Such a powerful gift for storytelling doesn't come along very often. My advice is to start at the beginning of the Amy Lynn series (if you haven't already) and enjoy every surprising, entertaining, heart-warming, satisfying word....more
I enjoyed this book even more than book one in the series. Dylan Hunter and Annie Woods continue to be heroic, likable characters. The modern-day villI enjoyed this book even more than book one in the series. Dylan Hunter and Annie Woods continue to be heroic, likable characters. The modern-day villains of Bad Deeds represent all parts of a network of cronyism and corruption, from the money people to the lawmakers to the legal activists to the mad scientist and his followers who are responsible for "direct action." This particular network rides the current global-warming environmentalist trend, seeking to shut down responsible, productive fracking companies while investing in "alternative energy sources" such as windmills and solar panels. The profiteering off anti-fossil fuel laws doesn't wash too well with the direct action arm of the conspiracy however. A true believer, Dr. Boggs puts the "mental" into "environmentalism." Will Dylan and Annie be able to leverage the fractures in the network to finally shut down this malicious, malignant conspiracy?
Dylan Hunter is a thoroughly enjoyable hero. Wealthy, cunning, and lethally trained, he methodically begins to take the network apart using several different means, varied and highly gratifying to read about. Meanwhile, his romance with Annie takes a hit as she struggles to accept the reality of what kind of man he is – and learn more about her own strength and power in the process.
I highly recommend Bidinotto's thrilling second installment in his Hunter series. Truly good, likable, decent people battling with evil, corrupt, greedy, power-hungry, and criminally insane bad guys – what's not to love?...more
This is my first Somerset book and I loved it. I am not a big romance reader, though I love romantic suspense, and Predator in Paradise provides thrilThis is my first Somerset book and I loved it. I am not a big romance reader, though I love romantic suspense, and Predator in Paradise provides thrills by the bucketload.
Owen and Dwayne have been together ten years and the thrill is gone. In a last ditch effort either to save their relationship or bid it farewell, they re-enact a romantic mountain backpacking trek they took in their early days together. Somerset's rich, detailed descriptions of the vibrant wildlife and landscapes show a world every bit as breathtaking and promising as the men remember. But something is different this time – an enormous, magnificent mountain lion allows himself to be seen by them. Owen is delighted at first, but when the lion goes from being a thrilling sighting to an unnerving menace, the men try to flee. After a terrifying chase, they barely manage to escape to the relative safety of the roof of a boarded up old cabin. They are able to prevent the lion from getting up on the roof, but he in turn prevents them from leaving. So there they sit.
And this is where the excruciating part comes in. Far too many days go by as the men are stranded, isolated, and terrorized. When I was a kid, I read a true account of a family stranded in a life boat at sea for almost a month. This reminded me of that, except Owen and Dwayne have fewer resources and supplies. First the food runs out, then the water. It was painful to read about the men's predicament and just when I couldn't take it any more, it would get worse. I forced myself to stop reading so I could get enough sleep, and I spent whole days thinking about the story until I could get back to the book. Utterly captivating!
Flashbacks of the men's life together are skillfully worked into the story, often as part of Owen's thoughts while he considers the current state of the relationship. As the situation grows increasingly dire, the men are more reliant upon one another, episodically delirious, and eventually stripped down to their basest essence. They are reduced to the point of accepting the loss of their very lives, let alone their relationship, motivating jobs, and stylish condo back home. Plumbing such depths of soul does a lot to re-align one's priorities. I was very attached to the characters by this time and couldn't bear their troubles. And they didn't disappoint me – they are both decent, determined, heroic guys.
Regarding the romantic element of the book: I am about as far from being a gay man as you can be ;) and I enjoyed the story a great deal. Yes, there are intimate interludes, but Somerset writes with taste and discretion. Nothing too graphic (which I frankly don't want in straight romances, either) and everything written with emotion and respect. I never thought I'd enjoy a same-sex romance, but this was nicely done. Also nice about it was the emotionally mature nature of the relationship. In a long-term, stable marriage myself, I like my romance to be between self-aware adults.
Predator reaches into the primal depths of the protagonists' (and reader's) psyche, and comes up with some basic, universal truths. A great big story is packed into this simple scenario, one we have seen in many times and places. And without spoiling anything, I will say I was well pleased with the satisfying ending....more
The mind of author Declan Finn is a bizarre and fascinating place, so it is not surprising that this unique tale sprang from it. No sparkly-ass vampirThe mind of author Declan Finn is a bizarre and fascinating place, so it is not surprising that this unique tale sprang from it. No sparkly-ass vampires here, just violent, evil bloodsuckers – the way vampires are supposed to be. But wait, what's this? A curvy, attractive, strawberry blond exception to the rule, Amanda proves you can be a good girl and still technically be a demon. Thus we have a devout Catholic who thrives as a vampire. (And I LOVE the way she gets her blood fix.) Finn's physiospiritual (if I may coin a word for the occasion) explanation of vampirism is both rational and intellectually thrilling, and makes an excellent premise for a monumental battle of good vs. evil. The enormous cast includes gangs, cops, OC, mean ex-highschool girlfriends, and deadly Vatican warriors, all linked through co-protagonist Marco. He's a whole other ball of weird, trained to kill yet psychotically sane in a moral sense. Plus there are plenty of other singular characters interwoven into this epic story. When you read Honor at Stake, a movie plays in your head. There is no other way to describe the action sequences. You can visualize each blow, kick, impalement, and explosion. Never a dull moment in the 'hood! I came across some editing issues which cost the book a fraction of a star, but it still rounds up to 5. Pick up Honor at Stake for a scintillating story of poignant romance interspersed with beaucoup d'ass kickery. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review....more
The events of September 11th gave America a fleeting gift, and it was this: moral clarity. That day, and for a brief time afterwards, almost everyoneThe events of September 11th gave America a fleeting gift, and it was this: moral clarity. That day, and for a brief time afterwards, almost everyone in the country “got it.” But sadly, before long, politics rotted away the love of country and freedom that had risen to the top. America’s flaws, empathy for her enemies, and relativism were once again emphasized. Eventually, people lost their grasp on that transient, exhilarating moment when we were all patriots.
To this day, many Americans still long for that unity of purpose, love of country, and surge of courage. “The Big Bang” is for them. In this alternate history, author Roy M. Griffis tells the sad tale of an erstwhile superpower now overcome by a coordinated, massive attack à la Red Dawn. The horrific oppression of Islamist terrorism can no longer be ignored or explained away, as it is now the reality in the once-free U.S. Occupiers burn school buildings full of children. They arrest the “immodest” in the streets. They compel citizens to watch the murders of loved ones in mass public executions.
The ever watchful and the formerly complacent alike must now confront the reality of life inside an oppressive Islamist theocracy. Everyone understands what has been lost. And many resolve to fight.
The Big Bang is the story of that fight. Interwoven storylines follow multiple revolutionaries as they employ their individual skills to push back against their oppressors. Though these people came from different social and political backgrounds before the Big Bang (as the initial, devastating assault is called), they are now united in the same crystal moral clarity the country experienced on September 11th.
I already knew Griffis to be a fine writer because I am a fan of his “By The Hands Of Men” historical fiction series. The Big Bang is a completely different literary direction for him, and he handles it masterfully. He details characters, settings, drama, and battles in smooth prose that paints a full, rich picture. The eeriness of the alternate United States is almost palpable. Hopelessness is a real danger lurking around every corner and in every shadow. Survivors persist in a hazardous, dystopian remnant of the land they call home. The struggle is perpetual to overcome grief and loss, to survive daily danger and deficiency, and to keep the American dream alive. It does the heart good to read about such unity of purpose and clear-eyed resolve. Only complaint is it’s too short. Hope Book Two comes along soon! ...more