Dina's Reviews > Ultimate Weapon

Ultimate Weapon by Shannon McKenna
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's review
Feb 03, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: erotica-romantica, romantic-suspense, to-blog, series-mcclouds
Recommended to Dina by: J.Monroe from Amazon
Read in July, 2009

Tamara was never a favorite character of mine since I met her in Behind Closed Doors, the 1st book in this series. She was too harsh, sneaky and, to be blunt, an overall bitch. Like many readers, I was very skeptical when I heard that Ms. McKenna was making her the heroine in Ultimate Weapon because there was no way I could see her worthy of it. So I decided to skip this book, period. But a friend of mine just refused to accept that and kept "harrassing" me to give it a try. Weak that I am, I finally caved, even though I half-expected to dislike it... and now I have to eat crow, LOL.

After reading about Tamara's past, I got to understand why she was like she was - it was a matter of toughening herself up or dying - but that didn't mean she became more likable in my eyes. She was pretty much still a harsh and sneaky woman - not my favorite type of heroine - but she wasn't a bitch anymore. Seeing how she was with her daughter Rachel - more than seeing her with Val - was key to make me care about her and root for her HEA.

As for Val, he was like a male version of Tamara: harsh, sneaky, tortured and damaged. Not what I had expected to see paired up with her, since we usually have a dark hero/light heroine (or vice versa) pairing in Romancelandia, but who else would have been able to take Tamara and survive? ;) I really liked Val, tough and all, which once again proves that I have double standards when it comes to my heroes and heroines: while I can take a badass hero, I dislike the female version of it. It isn't PC, but what can I say? That's how I feel about it.

I knew beforehand that this would be a "difficult" read for me, and I wasn't wrong. When you throw in three - count them, three! - tortured characters (Val, Tamara and her baby daughter Rachel), two hideous and perverted villains and one revenge-driven plot, you know you're in for a nightmare. But even so, I found myself glued to the pages and I couldn't let this book down - except for that one single moment when Val did something that shocked me...

(view spoiler)

Back to the story... Both Val and Tamara did some "nasty" stuff to each other throughout the book - "betrayal" should be their middle name - but it was all fitting to their characters and, more important, it was never done out of malice. All things considered, I don't know if there was any other way around it.

There were some scenes that were very hard to read, all of them featuring the bad guys showing their unsavory torture skills. Contrary to what I did in the previous books in the series, I didn't skim through them this time and read them all, word for word. I don't know, it was like I was "in the zone" and needed to torture myself along with Val and Tamara. Maybe I need to see a therapist, LOL. Anyway, I'm forever thankfull to Ms. McKenna for refraining herself from showing torture scenes featuring Rachel. What she did with those children in Extreme Danger was bad enough, and I don't need a revival.

I can't say I enjoyed reading this book - the word "enjoy" implies having fun and, like what happened when I read Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward, I'll never associate "fun" with the gruesome events described in it - but I'm glad my friend pestered me into giving it a try. Will I ever reread this book? Probably not. But fans of this series should definitely not give it a pass.
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Reading Progress

07/04 page 1
0.23% "Very nice cover! ;)"
07/05 page 48
11.27% "I don't know who's more tortured and damaged: Val or Tamara... It's still too soon but I wonder how the heck they'll be able to get a HEA..." 6 comments
07/06 page 129
30.28% "Val, Tamara and her daughter Rachel are on the run. Things are getting more complicated."
07/06 page 271
63.62% "Oh boy, I sense the approaching of some cringe-worthy moments..."
07/06 page 426
100.0% "Wow, I'm drained... It's late and I need my beauty sleep, so I'll try and collect my thoughts tomorrow to write my review."
07/13 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20)

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message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Very nice :)
Never read anything by McKenna. Are her books comparative to anything?

message 19: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Hmmm, I have a hard time comparing authors' writing styles, but let's see... McKenna kind of reminds me of Lisa Marie Rice. Both of them like to dedicate a significant amount of scenes to the villains, and they can be pretty scary. McKenna's heroes are tougher, harsher and, to stay in tune, scarier than LMR's. McKenna's sex scenes are also tougher and harsher than LMR's, but they don't cross the line into BDSM territory.

If you're interested in trying McKenna, I recommend Standing In The Shadows. It's the 2nd book in the series and my favorite so far.

Auntee Dina wrote: "Hmmm, I have a hard time comparing authors' writing styles, but let's see... McKenna kind of reminds me of Lisa Marie Rice. Both of them like to dedicate a significant amount of scenes to the villa..."

Good comparison to LMR, Dina. A lot of people thought LMR and McKenna were the same author (they're not).
You're the Connor lover, right?:D Me too.;)

message 17: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Oh yeah, I'm a "Connor groupie"! *drools*

Holly Let me know what you think when you get to that scene. ;)

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Dina wrote: "Hmmm, I have a hard time comparing authors' writing styles, but let's see... McKenna kind of reminds me of Lisa Marie Rice. Both of them like to dedicate a significant amount of scenes to the villa..."

Thanks, Dina! I loved the three LMR books I've read, so if she is similar I think I'd probably enjoy her. I don't mind rougher sex and love a really good RS book. I'll see if I can get my hands on Standing in the Shadows and check her out. :)

message 14: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Holly wrote: "Let me know what you think when you get to that scene. ;)"

Will do, Holly! Now that I'm braced for it, maybe I won't even bat an eyelash, LOL.

message 13: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina I hope you enjoy it, Rane! :)

Auntee I'm curious--what did you think? Did Connor make a token appearance? What did you think of Val?:D

message 11: by Dina (last edited Jul 07, 2009 07:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina I'm going to start writing my review right now. Wait and see. ;)

And yes, Connor made an appearance. All the previous heroes and heroines did, in true McKenna's style. You know how it is: you have them gathered at the wedding of the last H/h, then you have all the guys - save the last H, who's enjoying his honeymoon - teaming up to save the current H/h. Gotta love this "formula"!

Auntee Excellent review Dina! Definitely not a 'warm and cuddly' read though!:D

Dina Thanks, Auntee! I just had a nice plate of crow for lunch, LOL.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Great review. I have been hunting for this one at the ubs.

Dina Thanks, Danielle! I had no luck at the UBS but, thankfully, I managed to get a copy from a Bookmooch friend. I hope you find one for you soon.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thank you Dina. Patience seems to work. I have gotten lucky with repeated trips (probably not so good for my bank account, though).

message 5: by Lisa Kay (last edited Mar 12, 2011 09:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Kay Dina! What a perfect review. It so accurately conveys my feelings toward this book. I had mixed feelings about Tam (my first exposure to SM was Extreme Danger, and Tam’s kind of a witch to Becca, the heroine, at the wedding). I was leery of her, but my best friend loves her, and my BF is a good judge of character! Plus, I had to read this book as it was part of this series I was so caught up in, especially if SM was going to finally get to Kevin’s story. Everything you said is true!! SM does write a pretty evil villain. In fact, they are a little much to take sometimes. In your comments you said she can be compared to LMR (one of my favorite books is Dangerous Secrets), and I had to pull back a moment and think about that. True, with your qualifiers. Though the villain in Dangerous Secrets is plenty evil. SM unquestionably goes a little darker. And, like you, I probably won't re-read it, unlike the others. Thanks again for another insightful review.

Dina Thanks, Lisa. Tam was a very unique heroine and I kind of liked disliking her.

message 3: by Juliana Philippa (last edited Jul 30, 2011 09:02AM) (new) - added it

Juliana Philippa Great review! I'm completely like you with the double standards when it comes to hero and heroine. Am also not a big fan of Tamara's so am curious to see whether I end up softening up to her with this book.

Dina Thanks, Juliana. Beware: Tam is still tough to like in this book, but I think you'll understand why and end up "forgiving" some of her actions.

Juliana Philippa The spoiler thing is what I'm now more worried about in this book than liking Tamara! Don't have the context of the situation, but sounds really sketchy to me.

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