Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Slow Summer Burn by Elisabeth Barrett

Title: Slow Summer Burn
Series: Star Harbor
Author: Elisabeth Barrett
Read copy: eBook
Published: August 12, 2013
Publisher: LoveSwept
ISBN: 0345541693
ISBN-13: 9780345541697

Cameron Stahl has everything, so why does she feel like her life is incomplete? A beautiful Boston socialite and a successful entrepreneur, she’s just opened her second boutique in Star Harbor and business is booming. But one searing look from Val Grayson sends fire through her body and shows her exactly what’s missing from her life: a real man who doesn’t play games and who makes her feel like the most desired woman on earth.

DEA agent Val Grayson has always looked after his brothers. Now it’s his turn to find love—though Cam is the last sort of woman he ever dreamed he’d fall for. When courageous Cam realizes she has the insider connections to help Val take down a major drug player within Boston’s political elite, he can’t stop her from putting herself in danger. But as the drug bust of his career looms, all Val cares about is saving the woman he loves before it’s too late.

My rating:

Val Grayson has been the rock of his family, sacrificing everything, even sometimes his personal life, for his brothers, after their parents died. He’s the staid, calm, and silent Grayson brother, the oldest one by just a few years, but more of a father figure than brother to Cole, Seb, and Theo.

And even now, when they’re all grown up, leading their own lives, happy with their women by their sides, he still thinks like a daddy. Keeping them focused, keeping them centered, building a nest egg “just in case”. And they know it, they love him for it, but they all feel it’s time he thought of himself first and of them second.

And it looks like he might finally “get out of his shell”, out of his comfort zone by pursuing, and falling—hard—for a woman utterly out of his league. Or so he thinks. Because Cameron (only he calls her Cam) Stahl comes from a wealthy family, a long lineage, and money. But “his princess” isn’t a haughty snob and the façade of wealth and aloofness is just that, a façade. A façade that comes crumbling down whenever he touches her, holds her hand, kisses her...

He feels alive when he’s with her, younger, at home...He belongs with her and they just might make it work...After he solves the drug-trafficking problem that’s been plaguing his hometown for the past year.

If I had to sum this book up in two words it’s be something along the lines of: Oh. Wow.

I know I gushed about the first and third book in this series being great. But they don’t even come close to the older Grayson boy’s story. And, sorry Seb, Theo, and Cole, where I’m concerned, you simply cannot compete with your older brother.
Because Val Grayson, make that Valentine Thomas Grayson, was...Perfect. Yeah, that’s the word. Perfect. He was perfect. From his looks, to his personality, to his character, to his interactions with his brothers, his friends, and his woman...He was absolutely wonderful. Tall, dark, and handsome, intense, sexy, protective, stubborn when he needed to be, humble when the occasion called for it, and when he saw something he wanted, needed (like Cameron Stahl, for example), he went after it, even throwing the L word in for good measure, because she deserved it, and because he needed to say it. Who could resist?
And Cameron, his heroine, fit him. They just fit. And I loved her. For that and for the fact that she didn’t annoy me. At all. Gone were the issues the previous female leads in this series had (some justified, some utterly idiotic). She had no reservations about entering a relationship with Val, she showed him he wasn’t too old for her, despite what he thought, she showed him he deserved a life of his own, he deserved to be ‘selfish’ from time to time, and he deserved to be loved. And she was prepared to do anything for him, because when you love someone, you help them. He thought her that, he thought his brothers that, and she wanted to ‘return the favor’, so to speak.

I was looking forward to the suspense angle of this story, the resolution to the drug-trafficking case that was first mentioned in the first book, brushed against in the second, and featured more prominently in the third book in the series. But in the end, I found the romance part, the Val-and-Cameron story overshadowed, at least for me, the big resolution of the investigation. Yes, it was a good resolution, even offering an extra twist in the end (I didn’t see it coming), but I just wanted to read more about Val and Cameron, see their happy ending, so I was very glad the suspense sub-plot was dealt with quickly in the end.
And the same goes for the Lorelei mystery and the three keys Lexie, Avery, and Julie found. The discovery was nicely done (maybe a little deus-ex-machina-ey) and I’m glad Ms. Barrett decided to go a different path than the full-on treasure chest.

As the previous book, the writing and narration were great, and the characters wonderfully drawn. The plot was tight, the different elements (romance, suspense, shipwreck) were well-woven in, and I loved every single page, every single minute I spent reading this story.

I’m sorry to see Star Harbor, its people, the Grayson brothers, and their women go, but I’m sure I’ll re-visit them soon.


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