This book started off really good, but then stumbled most of the rest of the way. At least for me. After reading the first chunk of the...moreRating: 2.5 / 5
This book started off really good, but then stumbled most of the rest of the way. At least for me. After reading the first chunk of the book, I thought I was really going to like it, but then it pretty much completely fizzled. I found myself bored through most of the middle and toward the end. I was really tempted to set it aside and read the new Karen Rose book.
In Burn Jenner Redwine is your average lower-middle-class young woman. She's working a dead-end job just to make ends meet, dating a loser and just getting by. Then she buys a lottery ticket that changes her life completely because she wins 150 million (net). Now, seven years later, she's trying to fit in with the elite rich and not doing the best job of it. She has only one true friend, Sydney, and a bunch of acquaintances. Sydney convinces Jenner to go on a charity cruise with her...and Jenner's life ends up changing again.
Because government contract agent, Cael Traylor has learned that one of the boats co-owners is as dirty as can be and has something big planned. So Cael sets up a surveillance operation that involves kidnapping Sydney and getting Jenner under his thumb by using Syd as leverage in order to get close to his subject. It doesn't take long for Jenner to realize that Cael isn't a bad guy, but is doing something very important. And she wants to help. It doesn't hurt that there is an attraction between her and Cael...despite the fact that he is pretty much holding her hostage. But when Cael and his group finally learn what exactly the bad guy is up to, it's a race against time to save everyone's lives, including their own.
Like I said above, this book started out strong. The first chapter (the prologue) is set in the present with Jenner dealing with Syd's kidnapping and what she is supposed to do. Then it jumps into the past, setting up Jenner's life, how she wins a boatload of money, and how everything changes. That section really made me like Jenner, she was smart and savy and strong. I was really looking forward to reading more about it.
But after that, this book began to drag and didn't develop the way I'd hoped. A lot of the middle of this book is sort of the same thing over and over. Jenner and Cael battle it out verbally, she's handcuffed to a chair, the group is surveilling, and nothing is really going on. I was bored and wanted something, anything, to happen. But it was just the same type of thing over and over again.
Which maybe ties into the fact that in general, I don't normally care for books that are glued to one setting - like lost in the woods, stuck in a cabin, or in this case, on a cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific. Those kinds of stories always seem to lack the variety of pace to keep me interested.
On top of that, the romance in this book was flatter than a pancake. I never did feel the romantic vibe of this story. Part of that is also because of my personal preferences in romance novels. I'm not a fan of "secret identity" stories where one character is hiding who they truly are. Which in this case was Cael not telling Jenner he was on official business and instead was acting as a kidnapper thug. For me, that's not a good base for a relationship. And kidnapper/captive romances...so over-used. Enough said on that.
Aside from that, the relationship between Cael and Jenner was horribly underdeveloped. The bulk of their interactions in the story are Cael telling her to shut up and do what he says and refusing to tell her anything, and Jenner mouthing off to him and demanding answers. There was no emotional development between them. They never talk about anything personal, never get to know each other, never really connect beyond the fact that he's kidnapped her. It just left the relationship between them feeling very superficial and I didn't really care much if they ended up together or not. They were just sort of there.
It also kind of annoyed me how Cael refused to tell Jenner anything. I could see initially the point of playing out his little kidnapping ruse. But once it became clear she understood something serious was going on, would it have killed him to just tell her that it was an official investigation, he needed her as cover, but couldn't tell her more? It seemed silly pointless to keep lying to her.
And the last scene of the book was mildly irritating. It didn't exactly leave you hanging, but it made me feel like there was still more of the story yet to tell.
Also, did anyone else feel like the way Howard wrote supporting characters Faith and Ryan's parts was as if she'd told their story previously? I wondered while I was reading if those two had been in another Howard book so I poked around but found no reference to them. It was kind of annoying.
So yeah...an up and down kind of book. Or more like it went up quickly, but then plummeted down and never recovered. It looks like a lot of people liked this book, but I can't say that I did. It wasn't horrible. I didn't hate it, but it was average, at best. (less)
I think this is the first historical romance I've read by Linda Howard. It was okay for me. A pretty standard "falling for her kidnapper" story.
Annie...moreI think this is the first historical romance I've read by Linda Howard. It was okay for me. A pretty standard "falling for her kidnapper" story.
Annie Parker learned medicine at her father's knee. She loved helping people and wanted to go to school to be a doctor. But it was something a woman just did not do. She persevered, though, and went to medical school. Then she moved to a remote western town where people would actually let a woman treat them. One night outlaw Rafe McCay ends up in her office, needing treatment for a bullet wound.
Annie patches Rafe up and tells him he'll need some continuing treatment if he hopes to survive. Rafe needs to be on the move now...so he forces Annie to go with him, so she could look after his injuries. The two hole up in an abandoned cabin in the woods where Annie must treat his wounds and figure out how to get away from him. But as she gets to know him, she realizes he's not the man she first thought he was.
Pretty basic story in this book - man kidnaps woman, woman tries to escape, but eventually falls in love with him and helps him clear his name. The setting and bits and pieces of true history give the book a little originality.
I'm not a big fan of the whole "woman falling for her kidnapper" storyline. It just doesn't ring my bell. This one was okay. Not horrible, but not great. I thought the early-to-middle parts of the book got bogged down some because nothing was really happening in the story and all you keep reading is Annie and Rafe living in a rustic cabin. It was a bit boring. Then the later part of the book, where the "plot" gets resolved flies by. Howard did a lot of skipping around and summarizing in that section. It made the story feel kind of uneven.
And the whole thing with Annie having mystically healing hands...weird. That came across really out of place in this story, at least to me. And I didn't think it was needed at all.
Also...the first sex scene in the book. One word...yikes!
So...hmmm. I would necessarily say all Howard fans should read this book. But it wasn't horrible. Probably something worth reading if you find it used somewhere.(less)
Hmmm...what an odd book with such a bizarre dynamic. I'm not quite sure I liked it, but I'm not quite sure I disliked it either.
It's rather atypical t...moreHmmm...what an odd book with such a bizarre dynamic. I'm not quite sure I liked it, but I'm not quite sure I disliked it either.
It's rather atypical to read a book where the heroine starts out as the pampered mistress of a drug lord. I was fully prepared to despise her for the entire book. All she cared about was keeping herself in diamonds and designer clothes. And to steal $2mil from a drug lord...well, not the smartest of life choices. I can't say I truly came around to liking Andie, but she did grow on me.
And Simon...now there's an anti-hero for you. He's a merciless killer, an assassin paid for his services. But yet there's something magnetic about him. He was a rather interesting character, and the protectiveness he felt for Andie, it was rather endearing.
I can't say I found this book to be as exceptional as some other readers did. I thought it was interesting and unusual and the story definitely kept me reading, but I never really got attached to the story. I don't really know why. Maybe I would have felt the connection more if Simon and Andie had been given more face-to-face time together because for the majority of the book, they are separate from each other.
So bottomline...I'm not really sure whether I liked it or not. It was different, that's for sure - and kudos to Howard for going against the norm - but I can't really say it was my type of story. I know some say the story was uplifting to them, but for me, it had a dreary vibe. I don't know why, it just did. But anyway, interesting story. If you want to read a romantic suspense that goes against the grain, then definitely give this one a try. But if you don't like your romances/books to venture into the nebulous "gray areas" then this one probably isn't for you.(less)
Once I started reading this book, I just couldn't seem to put it down. The storyline really engages the reade...more**spoiler alert** BEWARE: MAJOR SPOILERS!
Once I started reading this book, I just couldn't seem to put it down. The storyline really engages the reader and draws them into the story.
Milla is such a sympathetic, admirable character. She's survived where others would crumble and disappear. You can't help but like her as you read about all she's been through. And yes, there were several parts where I got teary eyed, especially near the end.
And Diaz...well, he's such a contradiction. Half the time, he's a kind-hearted, gentle man who makes you sigh and the other half of the time, you wonder how you could like him because he kills without remorse. Sure, he rids the world of very bad people, but that's something that we're taught in today's world isn't okay. Plus, him destroying the papers about the adoptions was a really crappy thing to do. If he hadn't apologized at the end, it would have really pissed me off.
Together, the two made a very unique pair. The way Diaz took care of her was truly touching. Not every man would be able to do what he did. Especially a man who is supposed to be a stone-cold killer.
The storyline really draws a reader in as well. I wanted to know what would happen next; where the twists and turns would go. I wanted Milla to find her son, but I wasn't sure it would actually happen. And then when it did...man, that scene with her giving up rights to him was just brutal. I was all sniffly and teary-eyed.
There was only one thing about the book - well, two things - that bugged me. One was that I wish Howard hadn't gone for the "known antagonists" where the reader knows exactly who the bad guys are for most of the book. I think it could have been done a little more subtly to up the suspense level. But that didn't bother me all that much.
The thing I didn't really like was the fact that once Milla and Diaz learn all the details of the black-market baby/organ rings, that whole storyline just fizzles away. Diaz comes in and tells Milla that True and Susanna had been arrested and that's it. After that comment, you never hear another detail about what happens regarding them. Not even in the epilogue. I really wanted to know if they'd been found guilty, gone to prison, etc. Instead all you learn is that they were arrested and then nothing. That annoyed me.
But otherwise, this book was a great read. Everything about it - the characters, the relationships, the storyline - just yanks the reader right in and doesn't let you go. I stayed up way to late reading because I was so into the story. It was just a truly great book to read.(less)
I have to admit I was kinda wary of reading this book...not the book specifically, but a Linda Howard book. I've read books of hers that I've loved, b...moreI have to admit I was kinda wary of reading this book...not the book specifically, but a Linda Howard book. I've read books of hers that I've loved, but the last one I read (Burn) left a really sour taste in my mouth. And I found myself not quite wanting to read another LH book yet...even though I knew this was an older one of hers and a lot better different than her newer stuff. I made myself read it, though, since it had been in Mt TBR for a couple years. I rather enjoyed the book, though it wasn't perfect.
Summary: Jillian Sherwood grew listening to her father's tales of ancient civilizations and various myths and half-truths. And she grew up wanting to be just like him. What Jillian didn't realize until she was older was that other archeologists considered her father a crackpot with his unsubstantiated theories. Even worse, they considered her a crackpot by extension. So Jillian sets out to prove her father's theory of the Anzar tribe in the Amazon rainforests was in fact true.
But her mission teams her up with some nefarious characters who have no intention of helping set up an archeological dig. They just want the loot...specially the rumored large red diamond. Jillian is also forced to work with rough neck river guide Ben Lewis, who sets her hormones raging. It's Ben, though, who realizes how dangerous and deadly this mission is likely to be. And he quickly comes to realize he'll do anything to protect Jillian.
Review: Not only was I wary of this book because I'm a bit soured on Howard, but also, as those of you who regularly read my reviews know, I tend to dislike stories with a lot of trekking through the wilderness. Which is a large portion of this book. It did bore me a little at times, but not as bad as I thought. The ambiance of the Amazon, the action, and the spicy romance element kept it from too dull and repetitive.
This book is definitely a little more on the romance side than the suspense/adventure side, though they are close to even. Definitely more romantic than her newer books. And it's a bit of a surprisingly spicy romance. Not erotic by any means, but there's a definite spicy feel to the language, the actions, the intimacy. Some hot stuff with Jillian and Ben.
Those two had some great interactions throughout the book. Jillian's a spunky, brainy girl, and Ben's a laid-back pleasure seeker. They continually clash, but the reality is that they can only trust each other and it draws them closer. It was a great dynamic to read.
The plot also works well for the story, even if it's a rather predictable one. There aren't really any surprises. Everything went as I thought it would, but Howard wrote it well and kept me reading.
And the anthropologist in me loved the part of the story at the Stone City. I was totally fascinated by it. I could see it in my head, but wished I was really there to see it in person. The place sounded amazing. The anthropologist in my also ended up a bit disappointed, though, because the story of the Anzar tribe is left kind of incomplete due to the twists of the plot. I was a bit bummed I didn't get to learn more about the Anzar. Yeah, it's fictional, but it was still fascinating.
The one area I had a bit of a complaint about was the lack of character development, especially for Ben. Jillian's pretty solid...as a reader you know who she is, where she came from, what drives her, and all that. But Ben starts off and ends as pretty much a mystery. All you really learn abut him is that at twenty he hopped a freighter and ended up in Brazil where he stayed and was an adventure guide. Nothing else. There's times where Jillian asks about his past and the narrative says he got quite and a bleak look in his eyes, but you never learn any more. I wanted to know who Ben was...why'd he leave? What about his family? Did he ever want to go back to the US? When the book ended Ben was just a big blank in a lot of ways and I found that really frustrating.
Otherwise, I enjoyed the book. And it shows that Howard's older stuff is top-notch. I wish she'd return to the type of stories she used to write.(less)
**spoiler alert** A very engaging story. I had a really hard time putting it down when I had to go do other things. I liked the unique aspect of the h...more**spoiler alert** A very engaging story. I had a really hard time putting it down when I had to go do other things. I liked the unique aspect of the heroine being a butler. That's not something I've ever some across in a book before. The suspense plot wasn't exactly the most original thing - a psycho stalker - but Howard uses the other details to keep the story from becoming too mundane.
The romance really adds to this story. I really enjoyed Sarah and Cahill. They had great chemistry, and there were some fantastic steamy sex scenes in the book. Howard did a nice job developing their relationship and intertwining it with the story. It was a definite bonus to the suspense aspect of the book.
Overall, just a good read. Sure I've read more suspenseful and creative books, but there was just something about this story that really kept me into it.(less)
**spoiler alert** This one's not as good as Mr Perfect, but it was decent enough. I liked it to a certain degree. It's about a thirty-something wallfl...more**spoiler alert** This one's not as good as Mr Perfect, but it was decent enough. I liked it to a certain degree. It's about a thirty-something wallflower who decides she needs to shake up her life. She gets a makeover and moves out of her mother's house. She starts going to clubs. While out one night, she sees something she shouldn't and becomes a target for a killer. With the help of the town's new sheriff, she tries to survive. It's not a bad read, but not really a page turner.(less)
**spoiler alert** I wasn't sure I'd like this book. It was one I picked up at a book sale. The basic gist of the plot is that 4 female friends get tog...more**spoiler alert** I wasn't sure I'd like this book. It was one I picked up at a book sale. The basic gist of the plot is that 4 female friends get together one night and are grousing about the shortcomings of guys and as a joke, they make a list of what would make up Mr. Perfect. The list accidentally gets released in an informal newsletter where they work and it starts making huge waves. Then one of the 4 friends is murdered. The other part of the story is that one of the four moves to a new house and has immediate problems with her cop neighbor. They are always butting heads, but she has to turn to him when the trouble starts.
So I wasn't sure I'd like it, but it really sucked me in quickly. It was one of those books where you don't even notice what page you're on because it's so damn good and you're just totally into what's going on. The suspense plot is a bit odd, and I admit it was somewhat annoying - a list making such big waves, but everything else about the story is awesome. The romantic pairing is fabulous. I loved them. And the humor kicks ass. I can't count the number of times I laughed outloud. Just a great book overall and I highly recommend it.(less)
**spoiler alert** Kill and Tell is a fairly interesting book. It's a pretty standard romantic suspense, but a bit different from the other Howard book...more**spoiler alert** Kill and Tell is a fairly interesting book. It's a pretty standard romantic suspense, but a bit different from the other Howard books that I've read. It's not as dark and sinister, and doesn't pull at your emotions as some of her other stories have. It really was just a typical suspense story with romance. Not to say I didn't like it, it just didn't have that something extra that I've enjoyed in her other books. Marc and Karen were a good couple, though. They had a nice chemistry and I liked them together. All in all, a decent book. Worth reading, but not an exceptional story.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book was just...enthralling...in a way. I just could not put it down. It's such a twisted, dark tale in a lot of ways. LH doesn...more**spoiler alert** This book was just...enthralling...in a way. I just could not put it down. It's such a twisted, dark tale in a lot of ways. LH doesn't mince words in this book. There's nothing flowery about it. The language at times is coarse, but fitting. And she crosses the line on taboo's blatantly. But it doesn't take away from the story. It makes it all the more powerful.
There's a definite suspense tale to the story, but it's not the biggest part of it. A lot of this story is about the characters. The book just completely draws you in on an emotional level. It pulls at you in a way that so many books don't. The characters are so vibrant and you really feel for them. And the relationship between Webb and Roanna is compelling.
There are a bunch of things about the book that would put some readers off. It is a dark tale. But man it was good. (less)
**spoiler alert** Dream Man was a pretty decent book. Nothing outstanding or worthy of tons of praise, but a decent read anyway. It was typical serial...more**spoiler alert** Dream Man was a pretty decent book. Nothing outstanding or worthy of tons of praise, but a decent read anyway. It was typical serial killer / romance book.
That 'typical' is one of the negatives about things about the book. It was entirely typical. The plot is basically that there's a guy who hates woman and wants to punish them so he goes off and kills them. That's all. It was rather unoriginal. I don't mind serial killer books, but I like a little more creativity in the storyline, something to keep it from sounding like all the other romances with a serial-killers. The psychic detail is nice, but again, not all that original. There just weren't any twists or turns in this story to give it that extra push.
Another thing that bugged me was that Howard revealed the identity of the antagonist very early. You go through most of the book knowing who the person is, what their motives are, etc. There's not surprise at all. It took some of the suspense out of the story when you knew exactly what the bad guy was doing or planned to do.
In the romance department, the book was pretty good. Both main characters are interesting. I wanted a little more background on Marlie...more about how she dealt with her strange life and what not. She had a strange childhood and Howard essentially skims over it. As for Dane and Marlie, They have a fairly nice chemistry. They made a good couple, but not a fabulous one. Dane was a little too pushy for my likes, but I did like how he tried to help Marlie over her fears and was there for her in the aftermath of her visions.
Overall, it was just a decent book, like I said. The ending annoyed me a bit. It was a little rushed, and when all was said and done, I felt like there were issues left open, that there wasn't enough closure to the story and things that had happened. I wanted just a little bit about how Marlie dealt with losing her job, and how she was dealing with the press knowing of her involvement in the case. I basically wanted a little more of the aftermath. Oh, and the epilogue was rather strange. But anyway, though I have complaints, the book wasn't a bad read. I didn't have any trouble getting through it. Though I have to say that compared to some other Howard books I've read, this one is really subpar.(less)