Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Dangerous Waters & Dark Waters by Toni Anderson

Title: Dangerou Waters
Series: Barkley Sound
Author: Toni Anderson
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: November 20, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance
ASIN: B008AJ776I

Known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, Barkley Sound is notorious for surging swells with the power to pull helpless victims into its merciless abyss...

Sergeant Holly Rudd arrives in the coastal community of Bamfield after local divers discover a body with a knife jutting from its chest in the waters of Barkley Sound. As she investigates the crime, Holly soon realizes the sleepy town is rife with secrets. But what unsettles her most is the residents’ insistence that she bears a striking resemblance to the victim of a murder from three decades earlier. She shrugs off the uncanny likeness as a coincidence. But her simmering attraction to Finn Carver, one of the divers who discovered the corpse, isn’t so easy to ignore.

Finn, a former Special Forces soldier, knows it’s best to keep his distance from Holly. Yet it isn’t long before they both give in to the consuming desire they share. And as the danger escalates, Finn and Holly must rely on each other to thwart the plans of a cold-blooded killer who’s intent on keeping the past buried.


My rating:

Two divers find a shipwreck off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A wreck containing a dead diver with a knife buried into his chest. Enter Sergeant Holly Rudd who has lots to prove; that she didn’t get the job because of her daddy, but because of her merits, that she’s put her affair with her married (although she didn’t know it at the time) superior behind her, that she can close her first murder case, and that she can keep it professional when it comes to her attraction to one of the divers who found the body…


Let me tell you, she proved none of it. For a supposed “professional” she was rather incompetent when it came to everything from investigating, to interrogating, to listening to her guts, and to keeping her hands off the supposed suspect. And for someone who claimed to have gotten the job through merit, she was rather quick to doubt herself.

So, this was supposed to be a romantic suspense novel. So let’s start with the romance. It wasn’t there. One snap of the fingers and the two of them were immediately attracted to each other, another snap of the fingers and they were bumping uglies (no emotion behind it, mind you), and yet another snap of the fingers and they were in love.
Why? How? Why?
There was all tell and absolutely no show.
I didn’t understand what they saw in each other—she was an incompetent idiot with a teenage crush, he was an off-putting asshole with a chip on his shoulder and no compunction about lying to the woman he supposedly loved.

As for the suspense. There was none. Or if there was, it was buried so deep, I couldn’t find it. No chills, no intensity. Nothing.
There were two “mystery” sub-plots, really, but both connected by the same villain. The first, about the murder in 1982 and the fact the heroine bore an uncanny resemblance to the murder victim was so predictable it was transparent. I was just waiting for everybody to finally get their heads out of their asses and see the truth.
So the only “surprise” was the reveal of the villain and the motive. The latter was rather far-fetched, or I simply didn’t care by that point, and the villain...Yeah, I didn’t care by that point.

It started off great with the chill-filled prologue, but after a few chapters, the whole thing slowed down. The plot was vapid, the writing amateurish, the romance and suspense non-existent. In the second half of it, I skimmed scenes, hoping for a glimmer of something to keep it interesting, to kick the pace into a higher gear, and by the end of it, I was ecstatic it was finally over.




Title: Dark Waters
Series: Barkley Sound
Author: Toni Anderson
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Montlake Romance
ASIN: B00AQ2A86S


Danger once again laps at the shores of Barkley Sound, the Graveyard of the Pacific...

Since her rocky childhood and its abrupt, brutal ending, schoolteacher Anna Silver hasn’t given her trust easily. But when her estranged father gets in over his head—again—and winds up dead, his last message to Anna is as clear as it is insistent: she’s in danger and Brent Carver, the man with whom he shared a prison cell for five years, is the only person she should turn to for help. With nowhere else to go and with her father’s killer on her trail, Anna flees to what she hopes is safety.

​Tucked into the west coast of Vancouver Island, Brent Carver’s isolated home hasn’t seen many visitors. And his friend’s daughter is the last person he ever expected to grace his doorstep. She’s in trouble, and he can’t deny her protection…just as he can’t deny his attraction to the independent beauty. As their passion sparks into flame, the perfect storm brews off the coast of his island home, bringing with it a sadistic killer hunting Anna and the secrets she’s come close to uncovering.


My rating:

DNF @ 13%

A nicely intense prologue once more followed by plodding, slow, and boring "story".

I couldn't care less about the heroine, the hero was stuck in my mind as the asshole brother of the asshole hero in the previous book...
Instead of carrying on the intensity of the prologue, the difference in pace (and intrigue) in the first chapter was jarring, and having learned from the first book in this duology that improvement either in pace, characterization or intensity is unlikely, I went on to read the last chapter...And didn't get the urge to go back and read the whole thing.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: River's End by Nora Roberts

Title: River's End
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: May 1, 2000
Publisher: Jove
ISBN: 0515127833
ISBN-13: 9780515127836

Olivia's parents were among Hollywood's golden couples…until the night a monster came and took her mother away forever. A monster with the face of her father...

Sheltered from the truth, an older Olivia only dimly recalls her night of terror—but her recurring nightmares make her realize she must piece together the real story. Assisted by Noah Brady, the son of the police detective who found her cowering in her closet so many years before, she may have her chance. Noah wants to reconstruct the night that has become an infamous part of Hollywood history. He also wants to help Olivia and heal the longing in her lonely heart. But once the door to her past is opened, there's no telling what's waiting on the other side. For somewhere, not too far away, the monster walks again...


My rating:

When she was four, Olivia McBride found her father leaning over her mother’s mutilated body, covered in her blood, and ran in fear. She’s been running ever since, burying the memories, locking them away as she was taught by her overprotective grandmother.
Now, twenty years later, it seems running, hiding and burying of memories will come to an end. Her father has reached out of prison, contacting the only man Olivia has ever loved, the second man, after the one who sired her, to break her heart.

Noah Brady is a true-crime author, but writing the book about this particular murder isn’t just a job. It’s a calling. As son of the lead detective on the case, the murder, and the image of a distraught four-year-old girl, have stayed with him, and he knows he not only has to tell the story from all points of view, he needs to.

But neither Noah nor Olivia are prepared for the can of worms digging into the past might open.


“When you run away it comes after you, Liv. And it always catches up.”

If this book teaches any kind of lesson, it’s this. That there’s no point in running or hiding, the past (or anything for that matter) will eventually catch up to you. And the more you bottle it all up, the worse it will be. In this case, the combination of buried memories due to trauma, and the bubble she lived in afterward thanks to her grandmother, the bottling up turned the heroine into a bitch.
There’s no beating around the bush, here, she was a bitch. She got better, eventually, but the scenes I most remember her in are those in which she lashed out at Noah about and for everything. And he, the hero that he was, took it, took everything, and then came back for seconds.

It was this dynamic that ruined the “romantic” aspect of the book, because I didn’t feel the romance. Attraction, yes, passion, maybe, but it was all rather cold, without much emotion (except anger), dispassionate, and detached.

What I loved about the story were the descriptions of nature, the forest, meadows, flowers, fauna, bringing with them a strange feeling of peace and contentment, a welcome respite from the aforementioned tumultuous “relationship”.

I also loved the suspense, with the scenes delving into the past, flashbacks, and, most of all, the ominous feel as the climax approached. I knew almost immediately things were not as they seemed with the murder (a gut feeling, like with Frank), and soon after suspected how things truly were. And I wasn’t wrong. Although the truth was revealed almost at the end, and I knew what was what by then, I wasn’t disappointed with the finale.
Yes, it was predictable, but still written well enough to keep the suspense going, and yes, tug at a heartstring or two, when the bitter-sweetness of it all hit.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: True Betrayals by Nora Roberts

Title: True Betrayals
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published:February 5, 2015
Publisher: Piatkus
ASIN: B00S9T9UOG


Dear Kelsey: I realise you might be surprised to hear from me...

Kelsey Byden, divorced at just twenty-six, isn't looking for any more drama. But then she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi. Not so unusual—except Kelsey has always been told that Naomi was dead...

During an extended visit to her mother's beautiful horse farm in Virginia, Kelsey begins to untangle a lifetime of deception. Who can she trust, when those she loves have lied to her for so long?

To complicate things further, Kelsey is falling dangerously in love with Gabe Slater, Naomi's handsome and intriguing neighbour. But love and lies are a lethal combination. If Kelsey has any hope of a future with Gabe, she must first understand the terrible truth about her past...


My rating:

Kelsey Byden has spent 23 years of her 26-year-long life thinking her mother was dead. Imagine her surprise when she receives a letter from one Naomi Chadwick, her mother, back from the dead.
Despite the objections of her grandmother and stepmother, Kelsey decides to contact the woman who gave birth to her, and soon moves to the woman’s horse ranch.

As she slowly gets to know her mother, Kelsey finally realizes the life before moving to the Virginia countryside was no life at all, and her moving from hobby to hobby, and job to job, was merely searching for her true goal in life. A goal she’s finally found.

But as Kelsey gets accustomed to her new life, her true purpose, and the possibility of a long-term relationship with her mother’s charming neighbor, Gabriel Slater, a ghost from the past is slowly rising, determined to ruin all Naomi, Kelsey, and Gabe have accomplished.


My “experience” with Nora Roberts’s early books is hit-and-miss, unfortunately. And as I started this one, I honestly feared this would fall under the “miss” category, mostly because I didn’t particularly like the heroine or her actions and behavior. She sounded selfish, shallow, and, yes, spoiled.

I could not have been more wrong, though, and after a few chapters, and once Kelsey was out of the grasp of her blue-blooded family for whom appearances were everything, no matter who suffered for them, and moved to the country, I realized the spoiled brat was just the veneer, a mask she used to keep up those appearances, and to keep doubts about what her true place in life was, at bay.
Everything, not just the heroine, was different in the country, actually. The narration was different, the descriptions more vivid, the pacing steadier, the characters well-developed and realistic, the emotions stronger, the intensity higher.

I loved the relationship between long-lost mother and daughter. It built up slowly, steadily, its progress organic. The romance between Kelsey and Gabe, on the other hand, was much quicker to develop and progress, yet didn’t feel rushed, but just perfect, the tempo of it very much suited for both their characters. Despite their different upbringing these two were quite similar in lots of ways, leaning new things and how to adapt in the way they were complete opposites.
If Kelsey were truly that woman we got to know at the beginning, the polished, flighty socialite, their romance would not have worked, but since deep down she was just as passionate, just as emotion-driven, and just as stubborn as Gabe, they worked together more than nicely.

But what drew the story forward, what fueled the intensity, what kept me turning the pages, was the suspense. The twists and turns of it all, the danger both to humans and animals, the horrible ends people were willing to go to accomplish a goal, be it keep someone in line, punish someone, get rich, or simply to get rid of an unwelcome individual, were chilling, and strangely fascinating.
Some of those got their comeuppance, but I was sorry the biggest sociopath (the behavior and utterly remorseless responses made me think of that word) came through it without a scratch. This main villain, the one who put things in motion all those years ago only to repeat the process twenty-three years later, was rather predictable, but I didn’t mind, I was looking forward to the discovery and the punishment, only to be disappointed the punishment was lacking.
Oh well, the other baddie got what was coming, so I’m happy.

This book had it all; great characters, explosive chemistry, wonderfully sexy romance, mystery and secrets, suspense, danger and drama. Loved it.



Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review: Run to Ground by Katie Ruggle

Title: Run to Ground
Series: Rocky Mountain K9 Unit
Author: Katie Ruggle
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ASIN: B01LZWMH8T


He lost his mentor.
He lost his K9 partner.
He almost lost his will to live.
But when a ruthless killer targets a woman on the run, Theo and his new K9 companion will do whatever it takes to survive—and save the woman neither can live without.


Grieving the death of his partner, Theo Bosco has no room in his life for distractions. Though his instincts scream that he should avoid Juliet 'Jules' Jackson, he can't seem to stay away. It doesn't help that Theo's new K9 companion has fallen head over paws with Jules's rambunctious family.

Or that when he's with her, Theo finally knows peace.

When Jules rescued her siblings, whisking them away to the safety of the beautifully rugged Colorado Rockies, she never expected to catch the eye—or the heart—of a cop. Yet as Jules struggles to fight her growing attraction to the brooding K9 officer, another threat lurks much closer to home...

And this time, there's no escape.


My rating:

Saving her siblings being her topmost priority, Juliet "Jules" Young suddenly realizes she's willing to do anything to accomplish that goal. Even if it means kidnapping the kids and taking them to Colorado, assuming new identities, and working in a small-town diner. It's the latter that proves to be a problem, since she immediately catches the eye of K9 officer Theodore "Theo" Bosco.

There's just something about the woman that draws him in. At first it was the squirrelly behavior clearly indicating she's hiding something or running from something, or someone, yet, as he gets to know her, Theo realizes there's more to her than just fidgety behavior and obvious lies...Both he and his new canine partner are at peace when they're with Jules and her family, letting go of their grief little by little.


Okay, that's a strange summary, but it's the best I can come up with. Because it was a slightly strange book, if I'm honest. Not strange in strange-plotline way, it just strangely didn't inspire much at all in me as I was reading it.

The first problem was the heroine and her idiotically erratic behavior. I know she's kidnapped her siblings (to protect them, mind you), but if you want to keep a low profile, especially as a newcomer in a small town, you shouldn't act like you have something to hide. Actually, you should bring attention to yourself as little as possible. In the first scene at the diner, when she and Theo first meet, all was missing was a red blinking arrow pointing at her, or maybe her jumping up and down and going "look at me, look at me, I'm shifty, I'm hiding something, look at me".
And since that behavior didn't actually improve (not one iota) for more than half a book, I simply couldn't stand her.

The hero was a little better, I like my heroes brooding and taciturn, only coming out of their shell when the right woman comes along, but I thought the whole guilt thing, coupled with the grieving dog was a bit much. It sounded too overdone, too contrived to be believable.

I loved the secondary cast, though. The kids were great, and I'm looking forward to reading more about them, now that they're finally safe and at peace with the brooding, hulking cop and his rehabilitated dog keeping watch. But what I'm looking forward to the most, is reading Theo's friends's stories. Otto and Hugh were the absolute best and their relationship and friendship was a real beauty to read about. I could feel their connection, and I'm glad they have each other's back, because I think they will need it when the truth about Jules and her siblings comes out and the villainous Courtney comes to town.

I'm looking forward to that particular confrontation, at least to cleanse my palate of the suspense in this story. What the heck was that?! A complete non sequitur, the baddie and the motive came out of the left field without any particular forewarning in the previous chapters. There was no build up, it just happened. For some reason or another. It had nothing to do with Jules and the kids moving into town, nothing to do with the evil they were escaping, Jules simply found herself in the cross-hairs because of her connection to the hero...It was flimsy, disappointing, and somewhat insulting.



Review: After the End by Katie Ruggle

Title: After the End
Series: Search and Rescue
Author: Katie Ruggle
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: April 24, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ASIN: B0727KKBX4


For fans of sexy, brooding ice divers
Motorcycle Club bad boys turned firefighters
Tall, dark, and silent wilderness guides
And cops with hearts of gold...
The end is just the beginning.


What happens after happily ever after? Now that the murderer has been caught and the arsonist is behind bars, the town of Simpson, Colorado has returned to its sleepy, picturesque former glory. Yet for the heroes of Search & Rescue, work is never done...

...especially not if the extraordinary women if their lives have anything to say about it.

Told in alternating chapters focusing on four unforgettable romances, this slice-of-life novella catches up with fan favorites from Katie Ruggle's Search & Rescue series—proving once and for all that the end is just the beginning.

After the End is the fun and heart-warming epilogue novella to the exciting Search & Rescue series by Katie Ruggle.


My rating:

***eBook available for free on Amazon***

They each found their happily-ever-after in their books, now Ms Ruggle brings us their "second epilogues". Engagements, surprise weddings, puppy-napping and pregnancies, rockslides, and a brand new, surly character to herald a new series (which I'll certainly read).

Lighthearted moments mixed with some sadness, happiness folded in with just a dash of danger, these epilogues were fun to read (one of them even better than the book—which wasn't difficult).
It was fun revisiting these old friends, take a peek into their lives after HEA (which seem to be over-the-top good, but that's Romancelandia for you), and the little glimpse of the hero in the next book (and next series) whetted my appetite just enough.



Review: A Simple Case of Seduction by Adele Clee

Title: A Simple Case of Seduction
Author: Adele Clee

Read copy: eBook
Published: May 22, 2017
Publisher: Adele Clee
ISBN: 0995570523
ISBN-13: 9780995570528

From the back streets of London to grand country estates, theirs is a journey of self-discovery, a breathtaking story of love and redemption.

Nothing is simple when it comes to seduction.

Daniel Thorpe has made a point of avoiding Daphne Chambers ever since she refused his proposal of marriage. But three years have passed, and as experienced enquiry agents solving crimes against the aristocracy, their paths were destined to cross.

Chasing criminals is no job for a lady. But the woman is too stubborn to take his advice. Is it any wonder she finds herself the victim of a silent stalker, one happy to hide and wait in the shadows?

Daniel was surprised when she accepted his offer of help, more surprised to find that one passionate kiss in a carriage brings all the old feelings flooding back.


My rating:

Three years ago, Daniel Thorpe offered marriage to his friend's widow, only to be summarily rejected. His heart broken, he still kept an eye on her throughout the years, keeping her safe. But it looks like he hasn't done a good enough job, since a ghost from the past is haunting her, never to be seen and never taking anything. It looks like the ghost is looking for something, but Daphne has no idea what or why. Looks like this might be a job for her guardian angel.


In my review of the previous book in this quasi-series, I mentioned how Mr Daniel Thorpe and Mrs Daphne Chambers had more chemistry and more spark in their one little scene together than the two leads of the book in the entire story. Well, that chemistry was utterly absent in their own book.
I have no idea what drew him to her and vice versa, I didn't feel any sparks nor attraction...They appeared merely props, characters written for the sake of the story, pushed together because they happened to be main characters. Period.

She was a tad too naive for a woman of her age, especially a woman in her profession, her gullibility, her bubbly-ness, and her idiotic blindness to her own ineptitude (she's survived so far mostly because he was there to get her out of trouble, which she learned toward the end) got annoying really fast, and I actually wanted something bad to happen to her to make her see reason.
But she had her guardian angel to get hurt instead of her, the gruff, abrupt thundercloud by the name of Daniel Thorpe. The chip on his shoulder was rather disproportionate to what actually happened to him, and he definitely held the grudge for too long (or maybe we weren't given all the facts), and no matter how attractive, protective, and charming (when he wanted to be) both the author and the heroine made him appear, I wasn't convinced.
I was utterly indifferent about both of them, not caring one way or the other about what did, might, and would happen to them.

The suspense also left me quite cold. It was uninspiring, dull, slow-paced, and, let's face it, quite forced with the whole treason sub-plot. It just didn't click, feeling disconnected from the rest of the story, making it seem like I was writing two different books (neither of them particularly good).

A real disappointment given the great introduction to these two characters in the previous book and all the possibilities of suspense elements given their specific line of work.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Title: Silver Silence
Series: Psy-Changeling, Psy-Changeling Trinity
Author: Nalini Singh
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
ASIN: B01M0CQL24


Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...


My rating:

Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bear clan, has found Silver Mercant fascinating since their first meeting. She’s also his mate, so is it any wonder man and bear has been trying to get a proverbial foot in the door for months...To no avail. Until, one day, he finally steps foot into her apartment, but not under auspicious circumstances, since the woman is convulsing in his arms. Reason: fast-acting poison.

With the help of the famous Mercant Grandmother, Valentin finally gets Silver under his own roof (the next best thing for a bear wanting to court his mate, the best being kidnapping), and he’s determined to pull out all the stops to claim the woman who holds his heart.

Surprisingly, after a few initial hurdles, Silver is more than willing to experiment life beyond her Silence, but she does have her reasons. Her time is running out, her brain a ticking bomb. But Valentin is willing to do anything to save his Starlight. He’s willing to bear it all if only she remains breathing. Even if it means that saving her life might destroy them both.



There are books that make you reevaluate your opinion of a certain author (in a good or a bad way) and there are books that simply reiterate the talent of the author in creating memorable characters and stories while never letting down their “guard” when it comes to world-building. This book falls in the latter category.

Silver Silence is the first installment in the so-called second season (I’ll just call it chapter) of the Psy-Changeling series, and, like the first installment in the first chapter, Slave to Sensation it’s more of an introduction in future story arcs and villains as far as the suspense plotlines go, but, as the aforementioned book, it packed quite a punch in the terms of romance and romance-related drama and angst.

But, as soon as we came accustomed to the formula or template Ms Singh uses to write her romances (loads of drama and angst before the requisite HEA), she went and turned it all around, putting the drama and heartache after it all looked to be going nicely. Of course, the main couple found happiness too soon in the story and leaving it at it would’ve ended up in cheese and sap, the complete opposite of what we’ve come to expect from this masterful author. So, she dangled the carrot and promptly snatched it away.
And this what I love most about her writing. She keeps us on our toes. We know everything will turn out fine (it’s a romance, after all), but she succeeds in spreading little seeds of doubt with all those, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, obstacles she throws into her characters’s paths.
This story was no different. Predictable (in the sense of it being a romance with the requisite HEA in the end), while not being predictable at all.

The romance between Valentin and Silver was absolutely beautiful. I hoped, I laughed, I cried, and I suffered right alongside them. Their “star-crossed” romance was right alongside that of Hawke and Sienna in Kiss of Snow (with the latter still being my favorite, because, you know, Hawke), both in beauty and in the suffering.

Valentin was your typical NS Changeling alpha, but unlike his “predecessors”, Lucas and Hawke (cat and wolf) this bear was, despite his huge body, a true teddy bear, a romantic, love-struck and love-sick, lovable idiot carrying his heart on his sleeve for the whole world to see. He took his punches like a man, refusing to back down or crumble when his heart got bruised by his clan, his mother or the woman who was his other half. And I loved him for it. Here he was, an alpha with a heart of gold, unabashedly unembarrassed about showing it. He was who he was, completely comfortable in his skin and in his emotions. And don’t get me started on his stubborn refusal to back down (twice in one single book) in front of the majestic obstacle that was Silver Fucking Mercant and her Silence. The way he figured was, if he’s worn her down once, he’d do it the second time...Or die trying.
What to say about Silver, but the fact she paled a little in contrast with her bear. I’m sure that wasn’t Ms Singh’s intention, I’m betting these two were paired especially for the contrasts between their personas, both inside and out. And although I found her interesting from the first book she appeared in, she didn’t strike me as heroine material. I was proved wrong in her book, once we actually got to know the real Silver, what made her tick, why she was the way she was, but still, put side by side with her bear, said bear wins every time. Maybe because he had the more “tragic” role in their star-crossed love story, because he endured much more during the later chapters...I don’t know. However, she was a force to be reckoned with, especially when she went into full-on mama bear mode.
But yes, they were the perfect together, equals no matter their background or race, a perfect pairing to bring us into the future of the Trinity Accord and the future of all three races.

As in all “first books”, the world-building is key. But since we already know this particular world, this aspect of story-telling could’ve lagged behind. Yet it didn’t. There’s much about this futuristic “alternative reality” we’re not yet privy to, and Ms Singh decided to expand on some aspect of it we’ve only heard of in passing—the bear society offers a completely new part of this universe, similar yet different from the cat and wolf packs we’ve come to know and love. They’re also a unit, but with a different “personality” and “feel”, deceptively laid-back, their mostly good-natured behavior hiding cunningly sharp intelligence. Compared to the other two predatory changeling “species”, the bears don’t flaunt their superior strength, obviously using their bonhomie to lull their opponent into a false sense of security.
Which is just what Valentin did when it came to Silver. The girl never knew what hit her. And yes, once more, I loved them to bits.

You know what else the “first books” don’t have in spades? Suspense or sense of imminent danger. This one had its share of villain-y, but it had more of an ominous feel to it, despite some of it being pretty darn close to the center of all the action. It felt as if true danger is still lurking in the background, waiting in the sidelines for the optimum time of attack, which is the perfect way to go while writing a series. You don’t show all your cards at once, building the suspense, maintaining the intensity, keeping the reader (and the characters) guessing.
It worked in the “first season”, it should work in the second.

This book, for me, had it all. Old (some only in mention) and new characters, old (some only in mention) and new parts and aspects of the Psy-Changeling universe, a stunningly beautiful romance with the right amount of heartbreak thrown in to keep us on our toes, unpredictable predictability, drama, action, suspense, and the promise of danger to whet our appetites for more.

For the next installment, can we maybe have another human-Psy pairing? Maybe a cardinal M-Psy capable of repairing both damage from a gunshot wound and human brain? *hint hint*



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Local Hero by Nora Roberts

Title: Local Hero
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: October 9, 2012
Publisher: InterMix
ASIN: B007P7HQLW


Hester Wallace’s neighbor, Mitch Dempsey, doesn’t have to try very hard to win over her nine-year-old son, Radley. Mitch is the creator of Radley’s favorite comic book superhero. But Hester is a different story...

Hester has never needed a man in her life except for her son. But as Mitch and Radley strike up a friendship, she starts to see her neighbor in a new light—caring, dependable, and downright sexy enough to turn her life around.


My rating:

It started with a pizza delivered to the wrong door, but then he fell in love with her son...and her legs, and Mitch Dempsey knew life would never be the same.


What a lovely, heart-warming, a little sad at time, and slightly exasperating, thanks to the heroine, romantic little story this was.

I loved Mitch (the hero) for his steadfastness, comfort with himself and around other people, for his stubbornness when he knew he was doing (and demanding) the right thing, and his love and care for Radley. I loved Radley for his openness, his optimism, and his love for his mom and his new hero. He looked at life as full of possibilities, unlike his mother who looked at life as full of obstacles, especially when it came to her and men in her (and Radley's) life.

I understood her reservations given what she's been through with Radley's father, but as the story progressed and the reader (and her) got to know Mitch, I couldn't help but find her a tad annoying in the way she kept using Radley's no-good father and her poor experience (a long time ago, mind you) with him as a crutch to push the more-than-decent guy away.

Luckily, Mitch was just stubborn enough and he had help in the form of his little Corporal, and the conflict (that shouldn't have been there in the first place) was resolved rather quickly...

Loved it.



Review: All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: All Night Long
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: January 4, 2007
Publisher: Piatkus
ISBN: 0749937394
ISBN-13: 9780749937393

After the violent deaths of her parents seventeen years ago, Irene Stenson left the tiny lakefront town of Dunsley, Oregon. Now she's back, and determined to discover the truth about what happened that night. Armed with a shocking new lead and her experience as an investigative reporter, Irene dives straight into the mystery and finds herself in deep trouble.

Luckily, ex-Marine Luke Danner is on hand to pull her out, and his calm, quick-thinking response in the face of danger makes him the perfect ally. And as the intrigue deepens and the secrets turn deadly, Irene will need all the help she can find if she is to lay the past to rest.


My rating:

Seventeen years ago, Irene Stenson found her parents corpses in their kitchen. The crime, ruled murder-suicide, has scarred her for life, since she couldn’t come to grips with the fact her father could’ve killed her mother, and so unable to put it all behind.

Now, Irene, an investigative reported with a small newspaper, receives an e-mail from her once-best friend, the one who was with her on the night that had changed her life, inviting her back into her hometown with promises of explanations about the past.

But instead of explanations, Irene finds more questions, when she finds her friend dead of a supposed overdose, while the very next day her friend’s house burns down. Something’s not right, but the local police denies any suspicions, yet Irene isn’t alone in her little investigation. Luke Danner, the owner of the resort Irene’s staying in, feels not all dots are connected, and knows Irene is right in the middle of the emerging picture.


Oh, wow. This is how you write romantic suspense, and this is what I’ve been missing lately in Ms Krentz’s novels.

Great characters, both scarred, both with issues not many people can understand or relate to, but they’ve each managed to find someone who does.
Both Irene and Luke (although we can only imagine what he went through) went through horrible experiences, and yes, those experiences have marked them, but didn’t put them out of commission, they’ve come back swinging and stronger for it.
And in the end, against all odds, both their diagnoses (hers confirmed, his not so much), despite his meddling family (which was the “weakest” part of the story, if you ask me, since it didn’t really “connect” with the overall plot), despite everything they found each other, that someone who can understand, who can relate, and who can help battle the demons when they struck.
Their chemistry was sizzling, and almost palpable, their romance rather believable, if a bit rushed, their communication both serious and funny...Boy, howdy, I loved them to bits.

But romance, no matter how strong the characters are, isn’t enough to make a romantic suspense novel. You also need suspense, and this one had it in spades.
Gripping, intense, edge-of-your-seat, keeping-you-guessing-until-the-last-page suspense. Nicely paced, well-written, well-plotted out, with many red-herrings along the way, and when the big reveal came (well, both of them), I just couldn’t. I absolutely didn’t see it coming, but in the end, the villain, the motive, everything made perfect sense.
Wow.

This one truly had it all; wonderful, layered characters, great chemistry and romance, a good supporting cast, gripping suspense with loads of misdirection, and the main villain you won’t see coming.

More, please.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: Gabriel's Angel & Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts

Title: Gabriel's Angel
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: December 11, 2012
Publisher: InterMix
ASIN: B007P7HPQS


All reclusive artist Gabriel Bradley wants is solitude. But when a very pregnant—and very beautiful woman ends up at his remote cabin during a blizzard, the modern-day Scrooge can't turn her away. For even though Laura is desperate, alone, and on the run, she's managed to bring Gabriel the gifts of passion, hope and life—he only needs the courage to reach for them.

My rating:

She almost crashes into him on a snowy road, he offers her temporary shelter in his cabin, discovers she’s pregnant, and on the run. To protect her, he decides to marry her, delivers the baby, and slays her dragons.


Sheesh. Far from Nora Roberts’s best work. Slow and as annoying as the heroine, with a bland hero, an unbelievable (in this day, but maybe it worked when it was written) premise and even more unbelievable romance and insta-love.



Title: Unfinished Business
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: September 15, 2011
Publisher: Silhouette Special Releases
ASIN: B005IGVS6Q


What was she doing here? Hyattown had changed very little in the years Vanessa Sexton had been away. In some ways her high school sweetheart, Brady Tucker, hadn't changed much either—he was still lean, athletic, rugged...But the once reckless boy had become a solid, dependable man. He'd stood her up on the most important night of her life; could she ever trust him again?

So Vanessa had finally come home, Brady thought. She could still turn him inside out with one of her sultry looks. He couldn't believe she hadn't forgiven him for that night twelve years ago—but he'd had his reasons for not showing up. He'd let her leave town then—but he wasn't going to let her get away this time...


My rating:

She left town when she was sixteen, traveled the world with her father, became a famous pianist...Now, a few months after her father's death, she's back in her hometown, living with the mother who supposedly hadn't wanted anything to do with her in the past years, and falling all over again for the man who abandoned her.


It was a nice story, with lovely secondary cast, lovely secondary romance, a lovely small-town setting, and a very lovely leading man.
Pity the heroine ruined everything. Rather self-centered, with a penchant of sticking her head in the sand, blaming pretty much everybody but the person who was responsible for her leaving, for her mother "abandonment", her crush supposedly dumping her.

I didn't understand her, I didn't get her reasoning, and I couldn't have cared less about what happened to her. Pity she was the heroine.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives

Title: Wicked Little Secrets
Series: Wicked Little Secrets
Author: Susanna Ives
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ASIN: B00ENQEMA6


It's Not Easy Being Good...

Vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won her family's approval by getting engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. But when threatened by a vicious blackmail scheme, it is to her childhood friend that Vivienne turns; the deliciously wicked Viscount Dashiell.

When Being Wicked is so Much More Exciting...

Lord Dashiell promised himself long ago that his friendship with Vivienne would be the one relationship with a woman that he wouldn't ruin. He agrees to help her just to keep the little hothead safe, but soon finds that Vivienne has grown up to be very, very dangerous to all of Dash's best intentions.


My rating:

***copy provided by publisher through NetGalley***

Vivienne Taylor is doing everything she can to help her destitute father, even if it means burying her true characters as deep as she can to ensnare an appropriately wealthy husband. But once she's accomplished that, Fate seems to conspire against her, since her childhood crush, and irredeemable rake, Lord Dashiell is back in town and she can't seem to help herself from gravitating toward him, no matter what the Bible teaches her, and certainly despite his every effort to keep her away. And to top it all off, someone seems to be blackmailing her aunt, and Vivienne knows there's no one else to turn to but Dashiell himself.


This certainly started off great. I laughed my heart out at the end of chapter one, and was really looking forward to the rest of the story. If chapter one was a hoot, the rest must follow suit, right?

Wrong.

This story, that started off so great, failed miserably to deliver on the promise of the first chapter. I hated both the main protagonists, him for being such an annoyingly dysfunctional, emotionally stilted, rather wimpy asshole, and her for being so obnoxiously naive that she ended up sounding like an idiot. I felt they both needed someone to lead them through life by the hand. Add to it the pretentiously pious aunt (who turned out not to be as virtuous as she wanted to appear), the jerk of a fiancé that was even more false in his piousness than the aunt, a slower than slow pacing, a plot rife with fillers (idiotic musing, idiotic conversation, idiotic decisions, idiotic actions etc.), so-called humor that made the whole story appear like a parody, and a jumbled suspense side-plot that made little-to-no sense in the end, and you have this story...A complete waste of time.

The only redeeming thing this story possessed were the hero's grandfather and the dog.



Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

Title: Sex and the City
Author: Candace Bushnell

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 1, 2006
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 0446617687
ISBN-13: 9780446617680

Enter a world where the sometimes shocking and often hilarious mating habits of the privileged are exposed by a true insider. In essays drawn from her witty and sometimes brutally candid column in the New York Observer, Candace Bushnell introduces us to the young and beautiful who travel in packs from parties to bars to clubs. Meet "Carrie," the quintessential young writer looking for love in all the wrong places..."Mr. Big," the business tycoon who drifts from one relationship to another..."Samantha Jones," the fortyish, successful, "testosterone woman" who uses sex like a man...not to mention "Psycho Moms," "Bicycle Boys," "International Crazy Girls," and the rest of the New Yorkers who have inspired one of the most watched TV series of our time. You've seen them on HBO, now read the book that started it all...

My rating:

I liked the Sex and the City TV series. I liked the friendship between the women, I liked the joie de vivre, if I may use the phrase, the honesty, and straightforwardness of it...The only thing I didn't like is the main protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw. She was annoying, needy, selfish, narcissistic, and an asshole (to her friends and to her men) most of the time.

Reading this, I realized all the aspects of the series I did like, were thanks to the amazing writers of the show, unfortunately, the only thing they kept of the book, was the one thing I disliked, Carrie Bradshaw.

I didn't finish it. I couldn't bring myself to finish it, because, frankly, I have much better things to do than waste my time reading this drivel, like washing my hair or cleaning my kitchen counter. Anything is probably better than reading this.
Dull, morose, trite, egotistical, without a single spark of humor it's just a collection of average newspaper columns. No life, no real story, no humanity.