Sunday, January 17, 2016

Review: Siren's Call by Jayne Castle

Title: Siren's Call
Series: Harmony, Rainshadow
Author: Jayne Castle
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515155748
ISBN-13: 9780515155747

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets...

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him...

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame...

My rating:

Three months ago, they met in the Underworld and he promised to call. A promise he didn't keep. Now he's back in her life, seeking her professional help.

This was a rather disappointing read, if I'm totally (and brutally) honest. I expect more and better from one of my favorite authors. This wasn't par with her other work, that's for sure.

First, I had a feeling it was supposed to be a longer book, but it was cut "for time". I sure wish there was a "director's cut" version to compare notes. If it were a movie, it would definitely suffer from choppy editing. I just felt there were parts missing. Essential parts that would (probably) round out the story and fill in the gaps and holes it was riddled with.

The major aspect of the story that suffered because of the "editing snafu" was romance. I'm the first to admit that I'm a fan of romantic suspense because it contains elements beside romance, but a good romance goes a long way toward delivering a solid, gripping story.
This one wasn't good. Far from it, really. It was all show and no tell, there was no "romantic" vibe between the two protagonists, just the usual attraction, and even that one wasn't that special. For example, the blurb mentioned how the heroine fell hard and fast for the hero. Where in the story is that even mentioned? They met, they touched to share the psi load, she heard some Marvin Gaye, he invited her for coffee, never called...And she's fallen for him? I guess falling for someone isn't what it used to be.
Also, the whole romance arc was rushed as if written merely as an afterthought. I know all stories more or less happen in a span of a few days, but the previous ones in both series at least had a seed of plausibility. You know, the bond-sparked-by-sharing-danger thing. I missed that in this story. As I said, it was told, not shown.

The only redeeming quality, barely at that, was the suspense and the few action scenes.

Since I expected more, I can't help but feel disappointed. And a little bit cheated.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Dominus by Tom Fox

Title: Dominus
Author: Tom Fox

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 8, 2015
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 147222616X
ISBN-13: 9781472226167

The Vatican Cathedral is packed to the rafters as Pope Gregory XVII leads the congregation in mass. A cloaked stranger steps suddenly and fearlessly towards the altar and commands the wheelchair-bound Pope to stand.

He does.

The miracle stops the world in its tracks. Who is this stranger?

More miraculous events follow and as the Vatican retreats and closes its doors to the world, journalist Alexander Trecchio and police officer Gabriella Fierro set out to find an explanation that might calm an increasingly hysterical nation.

Because the question on everyone's lips is what the stranger's arrival might mean...and whether it finally heralds the End of Days.

My rating:

A stranger walks into St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican City, strolls by the Swiss Guard right to the crippled Pope and commands him to stand...This is just one of the miracles happening around Italy in the short period after the stranger's stroll down the nave of the basilica.

Those who cry fraud are promptly silenced, but there are two, an ex-priest turned journalist and his unrequited flame, a police inspector, that won't back down no matter what.

Is the stranger truly miraculous or just a good con-artist, how to explain the other "miracles" and just who is holding the strings...And why.

What caught my eye while browsing in the fiction section in the airport bookstore, was the promise of being left breathless as while reading Dan Brown's Robert Langon novels. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver on that promise.

It was slow going from the start, only picking up pace (slightly!) when there was a murder, shooting, or a run-for-your-life situation, the quasi romance angle thrown into the mix was utterly unnecessary, unbelievable, and a complete waste of pages, only adding to the book's snooze-factor.
The suspense had much to be desired in the originality department—it sounded rehashed and refurbished, more along the lines of "been-there-read-that", the pacing was (as mentioned) slow as hell (when it should've gone out with the bang at the end, it fizzled out with a whimper), and the whole talk of miracles and speculation as to the true nature of the "stranger" rather annoying for a non-believer.

I simply wasn't convinced. Needless to say I couldn't care less about the minuscule cliffhanger in the end that promises more in the "electrifying sequel".

Don't make promises you can't keep.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Secret Sisters
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz

Read copy: eBook
Published: December 8, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
ISBN: 0698193660
ISBN-13: 9780698193666

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother's hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn't be bothering them anymore...ever. Still their lives would never be the same.

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother's mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts...and wants.

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack's brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth....

My rating:

Eighteen years ago a brutal night tore through Madeline and Daphne's lives, separating the two "secret sisters". Now, after her grandmother's sudden death, Madeline receives a call from the old caretaker of the rundown resort where her life was changed forever. She's too late, but with his dying breath, he opens up old memories and wounds, plunging Madeline into an investigation of just what her grandmother had hidden away all those years ago. An investigation that might just prove to be deadly.

I keep repeating myself, but there's just nothing better than a Krentz/Quick/Castle book to get someone back into the (right) reading groove. Although the characters are starting to get a little formulaic (at least in the hero department), the stories are still rather fresh and engaging, packed with just the right amount of (believable) romance, drama, page-turning action, and gripping suspense.

This one was no different (albeit, as mentioned, a bit formulaic in the character department). It kept me guessing just who the true villain was, the author kept killing off all the suspects, so I really had no idea, the romance was plausible and unobtrusive (although a bit rushed in the end, if you ask me), the supporting cast was perfect, and the roster of possible suspects varied (and getting smaller by the page).

The only gripe I have about this one, and it's also the reason for the low rating, is the fact toward the end it became more and more convoluted, adding and adding villains and their motives, until I wanted to scream "enough already!". There was one twist too many, if you ask me and it sort of took the spotlight from the first big villain-y reveal (which was a true gem of a surprise).

Still, better than average.