A Highlander’s Obsession: Highlander’s Beloved, Book 1

A Highlander's ObsessionAuthor: Vonnie Davis
Book Name: A Highlander’s Obsession
Series: Highlander’s Beloved
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Somehow able to telepathically communicate with animals, Paisley Munro has found meaning in her so-called gifts by working as a veterinary assistant. But while traveling to Scotland for a relative’s funeral, Paisley fears that she really has lost her mind. Out in the highlands, she hears distinctly human thoughts coming from a wild bear. Terrified and desperate, she returns to the lodge and collapses in the powerful arms of its owner, a mysterious man with whom she shares a simmering attraction.

Creighton Matheson and his fellow shape-shifters have been roaming this land freely for centuries. Now Paisley may inherit his home, putting his kind in grave danger. His mistrust only deepens when he realizes she can read his mind. Yet he cannot deny that this tantalizing woman makes him burn with desire–and hunger for the prospect of a tender love. Now Creighton must decide which would hurt more: revealing the truth or losing Paisley forever.

Review:  Along with the standard blurb, this book came with the claim that is is along the lines of Jennifer Ashley and Shelley Laurenston, so I had a whole lot of expectations from this book.  Didn’t even come close.  Sorry, but if you are going to compare a book about shifters to some of the top authors in the genre, you better be ready compete.  If not, you are just insulting those authors and their level of talent.

One of the things that makes those two authors so great at what they do is by giving you these stunningly dynamic and rich characters set in truly unique worlds.  The characters in this book are none of those things.  Paisley comes across as a completely ignorant and stupid woman that has the maturity level of a 12 year old.  I didn’t like her at all.  Creighton is a guy that has spent his life pretty much doing whatever and getting whatever so he has no need to consider that someone may have a brain in their head or an opinion, so that when he finally crosses someone that challenges that worldview, his solution is to basically throw a temper tantrum.  Again, didn’t like what I was getting.

The story is your typical highlander story that thinks it can get away with a lack of world and character building by tossing an apparently hot guy into a kilt with a little shifter thrown in to attempt to make it look original.  What little there was beyond that was pretty cheesy rather than romantic.

I guess I’ve just come to expect an awful lot of certain types of books, especially if you are going to toss out big names in the genre.  This didn’t even come close to the expectations it established in using those names for comparison.  Even if I took away those expectations, this was only an okay book because there was absolutely nothing that was all that interesting or unique about it.

The Way Home: One-Eyed Jacks, Book 2

The Way HomeAuthor: Cindy Gerard
Book Name: The Way Home
Series: One-Eyed Jacks
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Killed in Action—the most dreaded words imaginable for a soldier’s wife. Jess Albert has been living with them for four years, since the death of her husband in Afghanistan. Finding blessed numbness in routine, she doesn’t dare to look ahead, any more than she can bear to look back. Then Tyler Brown, a former special-ops warrior, shows up at her small general store in Minnesota North Woods, jarring her back to life. Jess knows better than to fall in love with another man who places duty to his country before love of his wife—but there’s no denying the longing and the hope for a future that Ty makes her feel.

A world away, a lost American soldier clings to life and sanity in a lantern-lit cave. At his side is a dark-haired and dark-eyed woman whose touch is caring, despite the resentment he hears in her voice and sees on her face. But is it honor igniting her compassion for her enemy, or is it something more?

A heartwarming, richly emotional, action-packed story about homecomings, The Way Home follows two women on opposite sides of the world. While they both walk a dangerous path between betrayal and honor, they each must find for themselves where to draw the line between duty and love.

Review:  Early on, I sort of felt as though I were missing pieces as this apparently falls in a reading order that aligns with other series than just this one, but not so much that I felt lost. (Never did find an actual reading order that covered the various different series, so I don’t know for sure where this falls as I haven’t read the Black Ops series) It was a bit of that confusion that kept me from figuring out how this was considered a One-Eyed Jacks story for a while as well.  I expected to see a story focused more on one of the team members rather than a family member and I didn’t really remember what mention Ty got in the last book (probably my sad memory at fault with most of that confusion).  By the time I got all the dots to connect and figured out who was who, I was already deep enough into the story to not have it matter.

This was also a slightly different kind of story than others I’ve read from Ms. Gerard as it covered two couples, not just one and it was on a much less intense level dramatically, but not emotionally.  Since I am used to a more heavily action based dramatic story, I wasn’t expecting Ty and Jess’ part of this story to be quite so low key.  It was absolutely sweet, and I connected with both characters, but I was confused for a while by that lack of intensity because I kept expecting something crazy to happen.  You absolutely get that intensity out of Rabia’s side of the story, though.  While I liked both separate threads of the romance stories, I wasn’t as big of a fan of how those relationships managed to intersect and that they resolved a bit too perfectly and cleanly.  The intersection itself was far from perfect or clean, so that definitely helped, but the “everyone is happy, healthy, perfect forever after” resolution is sometimes just a bit too much.

As a whole this was still a really good book and I liked the fact that it was different and not the same old, same old for the majority of the book.

Dark Moon: Spirit Wild, Book 3

Dark MoonAuthor: Kate Douglas
Book Name: Dark Moon
Series: Spirit Wild
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Erotic
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Shapeshifting creatures of amazing strength and sensuality, the Chanku now live openly all over the world. Yet the primal power of the pack beckons, calling each one home to surrender to pure pleasure. . .

Return To Surrender

Igmutaka is her Spirit Guide and protector. But Star desires so much more. She wants to take him as her mate. Years away have not diminished her craving for him and so she is returning home, to face the past and experience the exquisite rapture that only one of her kind can give.

Despite the passion she and Igmutaka share, Sunny knows she has yet to find her one true mate. And when she comes upon carnage in the forest and sees the massive wolf standing proud before her, she wonders if this is the one who will finally satisfy all her carnal needs. . .

Review:  There is this really simple, but apt phrase “Less is more” that seems to be what should have been the theme when this book was written.  In every single area.  There are so many things that I didn’t like and was so out there and over the top about this that it is going to be hard following my own advice.

A huge issue for me was the concept of the sexual culture in this world.  I really do love a great steamy book, in all kinds of various combinations.  The one thing that I feel I must have to really feel those are truly good, steamy stories, though, is that the intimacy has emotional depth and reason other than just being horny (at least with the truly connected characters) and doesn’t come across as so completely casual, random and meaningless that I feel as though I’ve been tossed into the middle of a swingers party.  This was sadly the latter situation.  I’m not sure I want to even share my thoughts on the ick factor of the person to animal, absolutely non-steamy sexy parts that got dropped into this.  There are some lines that just should never be crossed.  This book vaulted over that line and ran for the hills.

There was not a lot of thought or creative effort put forth to really rationalize multipartner relationships and make them believable.  Sorry, but it is kind of cutting creative corners to explain away how you can get 4 near strangers to suddenly be in a committed relationship just by saying it is fate and they are all mates.  The mate thing sort of works when you are talking shifter stories, but even then, most of the time I connect way better when the authors build beyond fate and because you are mates and actually have their characters form real connections beyond or outside of those cliched rules.  Toss in more than just two people and it is beyond over the top.  Creativity is part of what makes a story great but this is missing it.

I’ve read an awful lot of really awesome, kick ass shifter stories.  Some are even near the top of my favorites list.  This didn’t even come into the ballpark.  There are so many parts to this supposed shifter world that it feels so totally haphazard and jumbled that I couldn’t even come close to believing any of it.  It brought to mind a painter who loves color and tossed every single color and dab of paint from his pallet, his stash and all the paint that could be bought at the local art store on a 4″ x 4″ canvas and instead of something lovely and moving, he is left with a giant blob of dirt brown.

I felt absolutely no connection to any of the characters in this book.  What little interest they may have had got stomped on as soon as they started interacting with anyone else and they suddenly became dull, hormonal porn star extras.  Even the story line felt crammed in there in an effort to say that there was one outside of the erotic parts of the story, which again were just not all that interesting in the first place.

Even with the “Less is more” idea, I don’t know that this would have been fixable in my opinion.  I just really did not like a thing about this book.  Knowing that this is book 3 in the series, I’m extremely glad I haven’t read any of the others and have no intention of picking any of them up after reading this one.

 

Glitterland: Alexis Hall

GlitterlandAuthor: Alexis Hall
Book Name: Glitterland
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Once the golden boy of the English literary scene, now a clinically depressed writer of pulp crime fiction, Ash Winters has given up on love, hope, happiness, and — most of all — himself. He lives his life between the cycles of his illness, haunted by the ghosts of other people’s expectations.

Then a chance encounter at a stag party throws him into the arms of Essex boy Darian Taylor, an aspiring model who lives in a world of hair gel, fake tans, and fashion shows. By his own admission, Darian isn’t the crispest lettuce in the fridge, but he cooks a mean cottage pie and makes Ash laugh, reminding him of what it’s like to step beyond the boundaries of anxiety.

But Ash has been living in his own shadow for so long that he can’t see past the glitter to the light. Can a man who doesn’t trust himself ever trust in happiness? And how can a man who doesn’t believe in happiness ever fight for his own?

Review:  So many times when an author attempts to portray a character suffering with severe depression they manage only to make the character this horrible, pitiful thing that generally has zero redeeming qualities.  That isn’t the case with this book.  The depression Ash’s character deals with is handled in a much more realistic, genuine and sympathetic way.  Unfortunately for me, it seems that was almost the entire focus of the book, the depression rather than the romance.

Even with the interesting characters (really liked Darian, his uniqueness and personality) and how well written the depression issues, I was disappointed with how little it seemed we got to see of the actual relationship between Darian and Ash.  They were both such good characters that I wanted more of them rather than just the depression.  I get the point, absolutely, about how all encompassing that is, but since I picked this up as a romance, that is more of what I was expecting.

I do have to note that I found it frustrating while also completely hilarious at how mind bending it was at times to decipher what was being said as an American reading a wholly British novel.  That is always something I find entertaining, but this one was just so much more than any others I’ve read in the past.

 

Chain of Command: Greenway Range, Book 1

Chain of CommandAuthor: Helenkay Dimon
Book Name: Chain of Command
Series: Greenway Range
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Retired marine Sawyer Cain can’t forget all he’s seen and lost, but he can try to start over. Opening a gun range with his closest friends is the first step toward a new life–one where he finally buries the guilt he can’t seem to shake. So much depends on the property he needs to buy…and the gorgeous but completely frustrating woman who refuses to sell it.

Hailey Thorne is done–with loss and with anything military, after the closest thing she had to an uncle died in Afghanistan. When Sawyer shows up on her porch he has military written all over him. He’s one more in a long line of people who wants the land she inherited, and suddenly he’s everywhere she goes. Hailey can’t get the broad-shouldered, dirty-talking, dead-serious man out of her head. Or her life.

Sawyer’s not above using his skills in the bedroom to try to convince her to sell, and Hailey is more than willing to let him. Their pleasure-only arrangement works…until emotions get in the way. But Sawyer has a secret he’s convinced will have Hailey hating him forever, and Hailey’s not willing to risk loving anyone she could lose.

Review:  There were so many things that were off on this book that I couldn’t even manage an okay rating for it.  One of the most annoying and noticeable issues was with editing.  I think one part was the result of a conversion issue between one format and another resulting in quite a few sentences ending in “3/4” instead of whatever text was supposed to be there.  It is really hard to figure out what is being said in conversations when huge parts of those conversations are missing.  That is not an issue with the writing, but with some technical issue on some other person’s part.  There were other issues that were related to editing and writing that were just as annoying.  So many times words were either missing or wrong and I’d have to go back and reread parts a couple of times to try and figure out what was actually meant.  Nothing is worse than being yanked out of a story to try and figure out something shouldn’t have even been an issue.

Beyond the technical and editing issues, the story itself just didn’t interest me at all.  The characters were not well developed, made no sense and didn’t mesh with what the author was supposedly trying to portray.  Both were so sex on the brain you would think that they were horny teenagers that just discovered sex with another person for the first time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a good sexy story as much as the next person, but so many times sex came up and totally overrode a serious conversation at completely inexplicable points in the story that I was left wondering how we went from point A to point 3BZ0 without a transition.  Not only that, those scenes were generally lacking and on the dull side.

I felt the same way about the dialog.  There would be a thread of conversation going along and at the next turn of character speaking, you are on some completely other thread without any recognizable tangent.  That left me wondering if the whole format transition issues had eliminated larger parts of the book and not just parts of sentences, but I really think that was just the way this was written.  I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have whiplash by the time I finished.  That was if I didn’t think that I’d lost all ability to follow a conversation or story line.  For a bit there, I felt kind of stupid because I didn’t get half of what I was reading.  There was no natural conversational or scene transition rhythm.

The format and editing issues had me nearly stopping this book early on, but I pushed through.  Being an optimist, I had hope it would get better, but by the time I finally finished, this really wasn’t worth it because there just wasn’t anything that I found redeeming in it.

 

Confess: Colleen Hoover

ConfessAuthor: Colleen Hoover
Book Name: Confess
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  At age twenty-one, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her fight to rebuild her shattered life, she has her goals in sight and there is no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping a major secret from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin.

Review:  I hadn’t even made it beyond the prologue, wasn’t at even 3% yet and I already had enough tears going that I could hardly read the words.  This is a pretty emotionally intense book, though it does let up enough to not leave you feeling constantly torn up.

The only reason I didn’t rate this higher was because I really kind of needed more at the end.  It just felt unfinished.  Sure, there is an awful lot that a reader can assume, but I prefer things to be tied up a bit more than this rather than left open, so I was just a bit frustrated by that.  More so because this is a new adult book and the point in our characters’ lives is kind of unsettled anyway and not getting some idea as to how that resolves irritated me.

The story itself, outside of the lack of full resolution (which other than my personal preference wasn’t a bad thing), was beautifully written.  It is probably because I was enjoying both Owen and Auburn’s characters so much that I wasn’t thrilled with the end. I wanted the chance to get to know them more.

Phantom Evil: Krewe of Hunters, Book 1

Phantom EvilAuthor: Heather Graham
Book Name: Phantom Evil
Series: Krewe of Hunters
Order: #1
Genre: Paranormal/Suspense
Rating:  Good
3+stars

Blurb:  A secret government unit, a group of renegade paranormal investigators…and a murder no one else can crack

Though haunted by the recent deaths of two teammates, Jackson Crow knows that the living commit the most heinous crimes.

A police officer utilizing her paranormal intuition, Angela Hawkins already has her hands full of mystery and bloodshed.

But one assignment calls to them too strongly to resist. In a historic mansion in New Orleans’s French Quarter, a senator’s wife falls to her death. Most think she jumped; some say she was pushed. And yet others believe she was beckoned by the ghostly spirits inhabiting the house–once the site of a serial killer’s grisly work.

In this seemingly unsolvable case, only one thing is certain: whether supernatural or all too human, crimes of passion will cast Jackson and Angela into danger of losing their lives…and their immortal souls.

Review:  One of the peeves I have with the suspense/mystery genre is that it is incredibly rare that the story doesn’t end with a big Scooby Doo moment.  Sadly, this book really wasn’t an exception so it slammed that peeve button hard for me.  Seriously!  Why can’t the characters be intelligent enough to figure it out through hard work and smarts rather than having the bad guy just dump it all into your lap?  I’m just not a fan of that.

The other part that kind of annoyed me was the dialog.  When there was dialog in the less intense parts of the book, it came across as awkward and clunky because there wasn’t much background reference for the conversation to flow naturally.  Again, another peeve of mine.  I don’t think I noticed this as much when there was a lot of drama going on because that is what I was focused on, so it wasn’t a horrible distraction as a whole, but just obvious in the less intense places.

I can say that outside of those kind of big irritants, I did like this.  I like the concept of this group that has come together and what they are doing.  I like the fact that the paranormal is a big part of what they do, but it isn’t the entirety of their purpose.  I’m not usually a fan of books that fall into the horror or seriously scary end of things and this just skirted that for me (really wish I’d not read parts of this right before bed), but didn’t cross the line or I wouldn’t have finished it.

Considering that this is the first in the series and things can improve over time with an author’s experience, I do want to read more of these, though I think I’ll need some lighter material in between.

Owning Violet: The Fowler Sisters, Book 1

Owning VioletAuthor: Monica Murphy
Book Name: Owning Violet
Series: The Fowler Sisters
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  I’ve moved through life doing what’s expected of me. I’m the middle daughter, the dutiful daughter. The one who braved a vicious attack and survived. The one who devoted herself to her family’s business empire. The one who met an ambitious man and fell in love. We were going to run Fleur Cosmetics together, Zachary and I.

Until he got a promotion and left me in the dust. Maybe it’s for the best, between his disloyalty and his wandering eye. But another man was waiting for me. Wanting me. He too has an overwhelming thirst for success, just like Zachary–perhaps even more so. He’s also ruthless. And mysterious. I know nothing about Ryder McKay beyond that he makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.

One stolen moment, a kiss, a touch . . . and I’m hooked. Ryder’s like a powerful drug, and I’m an addict who doesn’t want to be cured. He tells me his intentions aren’t pure, and I believe him. For once, I don’t care. I’m willing to risk everything just to be with him. Including my heart. My soul.

My everything.

Review:  It is incredibly difficult to rate a book that has good and bad things going on.  This is absolutely one of those books.

Violet’s character started out as this terribly needy, insecure and desperate person and Ryder was basically a sociopath.  Both pretty horrible characters.  So much so that I came extremely close to just putting it down, they were that bad.  It was also incredibly difficult to see how any chemistry at all would build between the two.  I stuck with it and they got much better, though they still had horribly contradictory character traits, both fluctuating back to what we saw at the beginning.

When the chemistry did finally hit, it was pretty good.  The middle to late part of the book got a little bit more emotionally intense and the steamy parts were pretty steamy, hence some of the good parts.

Then we kind of get tossed right back out and into the bad when the book ended.  The only thing that got resolved was that Violet and Ryder end up together.  Well, we kind of figured that would happen, but all of the things that were in their way?  Didn’t actually get resolved.  The drama and threat of Pilar, both with regard to her hold over Ryder and what she had going on behind the scenes, got totally dropped.  Absolutely nothing happened with it.  We get zero reaction from Zachary when Violet walks out of the party, with Ryder, after Zachary announces, in front of her father and other coworkers, that he will be marrying her.  Again, that thread of the story just gets dropped.  The build up about Violet’s past and her attacker is also another issue that gets dropped.  We get no reaction from her supposedly uncaring and unsupportive father (who is another character that is extremely contradictory) about her relationship with Ryder.  There are so many pieces to this story that just do not get addressed or dealt with at all.  This all just kind of ends.

I get that there are pieces that are more than likely going to be addressed in the next book as the series follows the other sisters, but since so much of this was tied directly to Violet, it was beyond frustrating to not have any of that even remotely addressed, which turned what had gotten to be a much better story into one that I just was really annoyed and frustrated by.  The whole thing felt like it wasn’t fully fleshed out and then it was left unfinished.

Hold On: The ‘Burg, Book 6

Hold OnAuthor: Kristen Ashley
Book Name: Hold On
Series: The ‘Burg
Order: #6
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Since she was young, Cher Rivers knew she was not the kind of girl who got what she wanted. A girl who could hope. A girl who could dream. She knew a happily ever after just wasn’t in the cards for her.In love for years with the last bastion of the ‘burg’s eligible bachelors, Garrett Merrick, Cher worked hard at making him laugh. Being one of the guys. Having him in her life the only way she could. All this knowing he was in love with another woman.The Merrick Family is known for loving deep. So when Cecelia Merrick was murdered, it marked the Merricks in a way none of them recovered. Both Cecelia’s children found love. Both turned their backs on it. But Garrett “Merry” Merrick knew in his soul the woman he divorced years ago was the one for him.Until the night when Cher took Garrett’s back and things changed. The Merrick family loves deep. They also protect fiercely. And with his eyes finally open, Garrett sees the woman who truly is for him and he goes after her.

Review:  Way better than book 5.  The characters and story in this book are more along the lines of what we see in the majority of the Colorado Mountain or Dream Man series than what is seen in most of this series, which is a huge plus as far as I’m concerned.  There is a bit less on the suspense side than in those series, but the rest is similar.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this one as I wasn’t a fan of Merry in Rocky’s story, Golden Trail.  I also wasn’t so sure about Cher’s character from what bits about her showed in previous books either.  Merry’s character is much better presented here and Cher actually comes out way stronger than I expected, so I was relieved.

The suspenseful aspects in this book seemed a little bit more random and almost forced into the romance parts to give it that extra we expect, but they just kind of frustrated me a bit.  The part of the story line about Ethan’s dad was really intriguing initially, but then it kind of falls flat.  Same thing with the ex, Mia.  Either of those would have been fine, if lacking a more fully rounded out line, but I wasn’t a big fan of the major drama really getting only lightly touched on and then, bam!  That is where the forced feeling kind of blew up because it just didn’t make a ton of sense.  It is as though there needed to be a tie to the first book, so there was this random thing that got tossed it there to make it work.

I loved the romantic line of this story, though.  The Merry and Cher characters came out way more balanced in their relationship than we’ve seen from other pairings in this series and their story absolutely worked for me.  Both having their issues, but neither one really having those issues become a huge thing for either of them just emphasized their strength as characters.

It was also really great, since this was the last book in the series, that we kind of got a last taste of all the other characters in this series and how their lives ended up.  Totally teared up several times to the point where I couldn’t see the words for a bit in places, it was just that awesome.  It was a great way to finish this off.

First Rider’s Call: Green Rider, Book 2

First Rider's CallAuthor: Kristen Britain
Book Name: First Rider’s Call
Series: Green Rider
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Karigan G’ladheon had been a Green Rider, one of the king of Sacoridia’s elite magical messengers. In the messenger service she had been caught up in a world of deadly danger, and though she had defeated the Eletian who cracked the magical D’Yer Wall—which had protected Sacoridia for a thousand years from the dark influence of Blackveil Forest, and Mornhavon the Black’s evil spirit imprisoned within it—she had nonetheless been tainted by his wild magic.

Exhausted in body and spirit, Karigan had returned to her home in Corsa. But Karigan’s determination was no match for the Rider’s call. Ghostly hoofbeats echoed in the deep regions of her mind, and she returned to the court to find the Green Riders weakened and diminished. Rider magic was becoming unreliable, and she herself was having ghostly visions of Lil Ambriodhe, First Rider, and founder of the Green Rider corps. But why was she appearing to Karigan? And would Karigan be able to seek the help of a woman who had been dead for a thousand years?

Review:  As is expected out of a second book, there are more things left unresolved by the end of this book than in the previous book, but not anything that is really a major cliffhanger.  There is an awful lot that is going on in this book and we get bits from lots of different character perspectives, so at times it seems as if things are dragging along when, as a reader, you are more than ready for something to actually happen.  

I’m not sure that I liked this one as well as the first one because the pace did seem on the slow side, but I did enjoy it.  This one left me anxious to find out how things are going to play out in the next book, especially with regards to the relationship between the king and Karigan as well as if we are going to see an influx of new riders.  I do hope that the pace picks up a bit, though.

Killing Time: One-Eyed Jacks, Book 1

Killing TimeAuthor: Cindy Gerard
Book Name: Killing Time
Series: One-Eyed Jacks
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  An exciting new series featuring Mike “Primetime” Brown, a character from her popular “Black Ops, Inc.” series.

For the seven years after Operation Slam Dunk went south, Mike Brown got drunk on each anniversary. The eighth year was no different–until he was drugged by a woman and woke up to her questions about what had happened eight years ago in Afghanistan. CIA attorney Eva Salinas has her own theory behind what happened to Mike’s team–which included her husband–in Afghanistan eight years ago, and she’s determined to prove foul play. Though she doesn’t trust him, Mike is the only person she can turn to for help. Under an assumed name, Eva convinces Mike to assemble a new team and go after the traitor who screwed up both their lives. As they track down the rogue who started it all, Eva and Mike discover they can’t live without each other. But can they stay alive while an enemy is still on the loose?

Review:  Yeah, this had the insta-love thing going on since the time frame this book takes place in is only about a week, but…  this is really kind of one of those times where it does work as there is just a serious crap ton of intense drama going on in that span of time.  It is a little borderline, but it stays just on the side of working so it wasn’t something that drove me nuts.

Both Mike and Eva’s characters come across as genuine and real.  They have great chemistry, though the focus of the book is more on the suspense rather than the romance.  There was also a bit of a big reveal for the bad guy and his motivations, but the story that surrounded it all is written well enough that this was a minor annoyance instead of a huge one.

All in all, I really liked this one and already have the next one in the series on hold.  Since I haven’t read the Black Ops series that this apparently was spun off of, I’ll probably be grabbing those books as well as soon as I finish this one.

 

 

Tough Love: Ultimate, Book 3

Tough LoveAuthor: Lori Foster
Book Name: Tough Love
Series: Ultimate
Order: #3
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she’s not above playing a little dirty. She’s wanted Stack “The Wolf” Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works–deliciously well–until Stack’s past steps out of the shadows.

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he’s the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about–Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they’re much more than friends with benefits. He’s ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who’s tamed him for good?

Review:  Okay, I need to preface this with the fact that it has been a while since I read a book in this series, but I was not impressed.  This didn’t seem like it was even near the same level as far as being interesting and well written as other books in this and the other loosely connected series.

I wasn’t a fan of the main characters in this one at all.  Stack really came across as a jerk and I didn’t see anything about him that would be considered attractive other than his physical looks.  Vanity, just didn’t make sense.  She is this supposedly strong, self sufficient person, yet she has zero self esteem with regards to her looks and potential for relationships.  We get a tiny little bit of history on her to explain it, but it wasn’t enough to really understand her character at all.  She runs around practically begging Stack to be in a relationship with her and he seems to really only be in it for the sex all the way up until the very end.  With the lack of anything all that interesting from either character, the romantic aspect of the story was rather lackluster.

The antagonistical part of the story line also felt really off and made little sense.  What made it worse is that we didn’t exactly get any kind of real resolution.  Sure, we found out what was going on and why, but we didn’t get to see how it actually got wrapped up.  The police got informed of what the PI heard and they said they’d look into it, but then the story ended without finding out what, if anything at all, happened with Whitney.  That was just weird.  I don’t remember any of the other books just cutting off like that.

What made it even worse was after this huge upheaval in the romance between Vanity and Stack (which both seriously overreacted to in the first place), it was all “I was an idiot.  Sorry.  Let’s get married instead” situation that left me wondering what the hell I’d just read as it didn’t fit the rest of the story at all.  It was like the author got close to the total for the word count for this book and had to toss an ending in there to get it done.

It is seriously weird because I’d swear that I’ve really enjoyed the rest of the books in this series and I’m not sure this even qualifies as being okay.  So, yeah, very much not impressed.

 

Falling Into You: The Falling, Book 1

Falling Into YouAuthor: Jasinda Wilder
Book Name: Falling Into You
Series: The Falling
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic/New Adult
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  I wasn’t always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way. Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.

Colton didn’t teach me how to live. He didn’t heal the pain. He didn’t make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.

Nell Hawthorne is in love with her life-long best friend, Kyle Calloway. Things are great, and they’re in love, young, full of promise. Then Kyle dies in a tragic accident and Nell is forever changed. She meets Kyle’s older brother Colton at the funeral, and there’s a spark, but it’s wrong and they both know it. The moment passes, and they both move on with life. A couple years later, they meet again in New York City, and Colton realizes that Nell has never really gotten over Kyle’s death, and seems to be harboring a deeply rooted pain, something like guilt, perhaps. He knows he shouldn’t get involved, but he can’t help himself. Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, and they both have demons, Colton especially. Together, they learn the purpose of pain and the meaning of healing, and the importance of forgiveness.

Review:  The first 1/3 of this book focuses on Kyle and Nell’s  relationship, which really kind of falls more into the young adult genre in the beginning.  I came close to putting it down as I’m really not much of a fan of books that fall into that age range with their characters.  I’m really glad I stuck with it though, because this really isn’t a YA book at all.

This book has all the things that I really love in a great romance, solid characters that are not perfect but work through and with their imperfections, a relationship where both side are equal and balance each other out and support each other.  I absolutely fell in love with Colton.  He is this guy who has been through hell, but is has this great big compassionate heart.  Nell is just as messed up and caring.  I love that they don’t expect to fix each other or that the other person should fix them.  They care about each other as they come, scars and ghosts and all.  It is beautiful.

The only reason this didn’t the full 5 star rating for me was because, even though it was necessary to understand the rest of the story and Nell’s background, I wasn’t a fan of the early part of the book.  As a 40 something adult, I outgrew the thought that bumbling, awkward, first time teen sex was cute and interesting a long time ago and I really don’t want to read about it.  I loved the rest of the story, but I could have done with a whole lot less of giggly teeny bopper parts.

 

Don’t Tell: Karen Rose

Don't TellAuthor: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  It was a desperate plan. But Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive cop husband was to stage their own death. Now all that remains of their former life is at the bottom of a lake. Armed with a new identity in a new town, she and her son have found refuge hundreds of miles away. As Caroline Stewart, she has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. She is even taking a chance on love with Max Hunter, a man with wounds of his own. But her past is about to collide with the present when her husband uncovers her trail and threatens her hard-won peace. Step by step, he’s closing in on her- and everything and everyone she loves.

Review:  This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and I was impressed, which isn’t an easy feat for me when it comes to the romantic suspense genre.  The suspense aspect of the story was done really well.  As a reader that often reads and walks at the same time, it is rare that I NEED to walk because of the story.  This one was intense enough to get me up and moving because I just couldn’t sit still.  It was either move, or put it down and walk away for a bit, and I wasn’t putting it down.

I did like the romantic aspect and thought it was well balanced with the other part of the story without one piece being heavier than the other (which is something I like).  I wasn’t quite such a huge fan of the fact that the time frame for the romance, the characters meeting and falling in love to the point of talking marriage, happens in about 2 weeks.  That took away some from some of the details going on in that part of the story.

I got frustrated with the date, time and location timeline that went along with the story.  It was great to help understand where everyone was at at the different points of the story, but I ran into at least one that had a typo or misprint in it that put the date way wrong and that yanked me out of the story forcing me to flip around to try and figure out what was going on before I realized it was actually a mistake.  After that, I quit reading them because they weren’t all that reliable.

Overall, I really did like this one and look forward to the next one.  Hopefully the smaller issues in this one that bugged me won’t be in the next one.

Crash Into You: Loving on the Edge, Book 1

Crash Into YouAuthor: Roni Loren
Book Name: Crash Into You
Series: Loving on the Edge
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat-a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her, Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate-and so does the danger. Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

Review:  There were so many things that I considered problems with this book that it forced me to to give this a pretty low rating.  The biggest problem I had overall was with the approach to the BDSM lifestyle.  Not the subject itself, but how it was presented and handled.

I’ll admit that I’m not in the lifestyle and do not claim that I have any level of accurate or expert knowledge on the subject of BDSM other that what I’ve read here and there.  That said, it seems as if there are two types of books that get written in this genre.  The ones that are serious about their approach and how they present that lifestyle and that do so in a very clear way or the ones that play at it.  I’ve read both kinds and both kinds work if done right.  This book wants to be the first kind but comes across as the second.  Either be serious about it or do it on the lighter, just for fun side that doesn’t require the rules, but don’t try to straddle that line.  It does not work.  Don’t just throw it in there to use it strictly as a plot device because those kinds of books seem to be the in thing.

Just because you get off on having the guy be pushy in the bedroom, does not mean you are into BDSM and are serious about the lifestyle.  When I say serious about it, I’m talking about what are considered standard rules about being safe and making good decisions because you are in a healthy mindset.  The so called club in this book had so many things that struck me as wrong in it, that I had a hard time getting beyond that to pay attention to the rest of the story.  The fact that members could touch any other member in any way without permission was just wrong.  If a sub is collared, you don’t touch without the dom’s permission even if that dom is not around.  That opens the door to a totally unsafe environment, which a BDSM club should never be.  The fact that the guy running place finds out that Brynn has some pretty obvious fears because of a past rape, then lets her go to blindly pick out someone to be her dom for 3 days without any kind of protection for her (3 days for someone who is brand new to the club and that they will be with total strangers the entire time) or ensuring that she is with someone who he knows she will be safe with, absolutely blows my mind.  With all of that and more, this club seemed like a bunch of spoiled, rich, hedonists that wanted to play at the BDSM lifestyle without really adhering to any of the rules.

The fact that it isn’t taken seriously is proven even more with the characters during the menage’ scene with Reid, Brynn and Jace.  Reid, who is supposed to be Brynn’s dom, doesn’t pay attention to her pleasure or the fact that she slips out of that mindset because he is too focused on his own.  It took Jace bringing it to his attention to figure it out.  That is so not playing it safe when you are talking about being in situations that could become harmful in a second.  Again, that is just so wrong as far as I’m concerned.

I also had a huge problem with the whole recreating the rape scene as a way for Brynn to “reclaim” her body and have Reid “own” her, down to him biting her on the bite scar from the rape.  I have a problem with how a lot of author’s handle characters dealing with and recovering from rape in the first place, no matter how realistic it is for people to learn to live with the after effects of violence in their own ways.  This just made it incredibly hard to believe that Brynn wouldn’t have at least one uncomfortable moment, especially after a freak out earlier in the book.  I’m sorry, there just isn’t this single moment or situational change and everything that was an emotional minefield before is suddenly okay and not a trigger.  It does not work that way.

Beyond all of that, and those were huge for me, Reid was an awful character.  The stereotypical rich kid who doesn’t want to rock the boat for fear he won’t have that privileged life anymore.  At the point in the “then” part of the story with Vanessa (the back and forth between the “then” and “now” parts drove me nuts) and the day Brynn got raped, he just proved that beyond all doubt.  Sorry Reid, there is this thing called saying “No” and walking away that works wonders.  Oh, and the fact that he continually lies and expects Brynn to just accept it later is also utter BS and makes her this spineless door mat and that makes me not like her character either.  He proves, yet again, that he is a crap dom when he agrees to go without a condom at the end of the book without at least a discussion about testing.  For crying out loud!  Protection during sex is NOT just about preventing pregnancy.  The pill isn’t going to keep you from getting something nasty so just because someone says their on the pill, it doesn’t make the sex suddenly safe.  Your job as a dom is supposed to be taking care of your sub, protecting them from harm and ensuring their pleasure.  Reid is only concerned about what gets him off.

Sadly, those are only the big issues I had.  There were lots of smaller, less important issues (Scooby Doo reveal) in comparison that just weren’t worth the time to list.

 

 

Warlock Unbound: Hearts Desire, Book 4

Warlock UnboundAuthor: Dana Marie Bell
Book Name: Warlock Unbound
Series: Hearts Desire
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  If he had a choice, Daniel Beckett would wait to cast the Beckett family mating spell until his life is more settled. But his brothers, worried he’s losing himself to his wolf, aren’t giving it to him.

Daniel doesn’t need a spell to know Kerry Andrews is his mate. With the last of the Godwin warlocks still on the loose, Daniel crosses his fingers that the willful, stubborn, beautiful woman will allow him to protect her.

Kerry is tempted to make Daniel wait, like he’s made her wait for so long. But the decision is taken out of her hands when things start going horribly wrong. A sleeper hex is activated, putting her life in danger—and the only safe place to run is Daniel’s waiting arms.

Once there, Kerry finds a whole new world to explore with her magical mate. But Arthur Godwin is plotting to rip away their newfound happiness. Women who look like Kerry are turning up dead…and it’s only a matter of time before the killer’s weapon hits its intended prey.

Review:  I usually enjoy a Dana Marie Bell book better than this.  This one just didn’t seem to be up to the same level as many of her other books.  It felt kind of rushed and as if it was missing quite a bit of substance as there just didn’t really seem to be an awful lot going on in this one.   The two sides of the story, the romantic aspect and the suspense aspect, just didn’t quite fit together right either.

I kept getting tripped up over the twin’s names when that topic came up because they were so similar.  There was even a time or two where I’m certain they even got flip flopped around, when it should have been one name but was the other instead, and it got missed in the editing process, which made the confusion even worse.  It also didn’t help that the names of the twins’ partners were similar to each other either.  Kerry and Kelly, then Daniel and Dennis.

I don’t know if I just wasn’t really in the mood for this or what, but I wasn’t a fan of this one at all.

 

Tempest: Playing the Fool, Book 3

TempestAuthor: Lisa Henry & JA Rock
Book Name: Tempest
Series: Playing the Fool
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/LGBT/Suspense
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Something wicked this way comes.

FBI Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness and con man Henry Page are on the run again. This time they’re headed back to where it all began: Altona, Indiana. Population: some goats. Henry’s not happy about lying low at the McGuinness family farm, but they’ve got nowhere else to go.

While Mac fights to clear his name and Henry struggles with whose side he’s really on, a ghost from the past threatens to destroy everything. And those aren’t the only storms on the radar. Cut off from both sides of the law, Mac and Henry must rely on their tenuous partnership to survive.

If Henry can convince himself to let Mac see the man behind the disguises, they’ll stand a chance of beating the forces that conspire against them. The course of true love never did run smooth, but for the two of them, it might be their only hope.

Review:  This was a great ending to this little series (at least I’m pretty sure it is the end based on how this book finished up).

I will be the first to get all critical when it comes to Scooby Doo endings and resolutions, but not here.  This is a first for me with this book because we do get some of that, with it spread a bit more than as a single dump in one scene to clear up all the mysterious bits of the story, but what we got was done in a way that totally mocked how that plot trick is so overused.  This is something that normally drives me nuts and I end up dropping a book rating when it is used because I dislike it so much.  But in this case?  I’m loving it because our guys are literally looking down the barrels of guns and Henry is doing this whole monologue in his head about how ridiculous the situation is, how much he always made fun of it in the past, how that would never happen in real life and here he is experiencing that ridiculousness right before he is most likely going to die.  It took this overused cliche of a plot trick and turned it completely around making it new and hilarious in a situation that should have been seriously tense and stressful, not funny.  It was awesome and kind of genius.

I’d have to say that both Mac and Henry are probably one of my favorite MM couples from all the books I’ve read from that genre.  They are perfectly genuine and fallible.  Plus, they have their own dose of seriously cute crazy that I can’t help but love.

 

 

The Merchant of Death: Playing the Fool, Book 2

The Merchant of DeathAuthor: Lisa Henry & JA Rock
Book Name: The Merchant of Death
Series: Playing the Fool
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/LGBT/Suspense
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  All’s fair in love and war.

There’s something rotten in the state of Indiana. When con man Henry Page takes it upon himself to investigate the death of an elderly patient at a care facility, he does so in true Shakespearean tradition: dressed as a girl.

FBI Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness has more to worry about than Henry’s latest crazy idea. Someone is trying to send him a message—via a corpse with a couple of bullets in it. He needs to figure out who’s trying to set him up before he gets arrested, and he really doesn’t have time for Henry’s shenanigans. Then again, he’d probably be able to focus better if Henry didn’t look so damn distracting in a babydoll dress and a wig.

But when Mac discovers that Henry has been keeping a secret that connects the cases, he has to find a way to live on the right side of the law when he just might be in love with the wrong sort of man.

Review:  Still love Mac and Cheese… uh, Henry.  This second book in the series is just as entertaining and funny as the first one, though we got to go a little deeper emotionally while getting to know Henry’s history a little bit more.  He really is this great guy doing not so great things to try and do the right thing.

Mac is awesome.  Seriously!  That scene in the car with the Rocky song?  Cracked me the hell up.  The guy is absolutely losing it, talking to himself, making up these crazy rescue scenarios and singing (or rather mumbling) to the Rocky theme song at the top of his lungs and yelling at other drivers on the road while I’m laughing hysterically.

Like book one, we get an excellent blend of both actual, great story line and well executed romance, which outside of the amazing characters is one of the reasons I’m really loving these books.

 

Autumn Moon: Celtic Wolves, Book 3

Autumn MoonAuthor: Jan DeLima
Book Name: Autumn Moon
Series: Celtic Wolves
Order: #3
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  The heart of a warrior, the soul of a wolf, and the desires of a man…

For centuries, Cormack has lived between worlds—a man trapped in the body of a wolf, shunned by humans and shifters alike. Only one person has ever welcomed his company: Elen, a kindred outcast who is feared by others of her ancient Celtic race for her strange healing abilities.

Cormack has always valued Elen’s kindness and understanding, but after a desperate act of friendship causes Elen to free him from his curse, he realizes he wants more. He wants all of her—completely and forever.Except before Cormack can win Elen’s heart, Pendaran, the evil leader of the Guardians, captures her, determined to manipulate her incredible power to aid him in his twisted war against the shapeshifting tribes.

Now Cormack must use all of his skills as a warrior and a wolf to save the woman he loves—before Pendaran’s vile schemes destroy them all…

Review:   There are lots of parts to this series to recommend, like the great world this is set in and the background for the stories themselves, but it is missing just enough extra to push it into the what I consider really good.  I think it is because I would like to see a bit more going on.   In this book, we got a couple of higher level drama moments, either within the romance aspect of the story or in the confrontation with the bad guys, but outside of those bigger moments there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on.  I don’t think I liked this one quite as much as I liked the first two, but it has been a little while since I read them so I’m not 100% positive on that.

I was glad to get Cormack and Elen’s story with this book.  Cormack having been stuck as a wolf for centuries to only find himself able to finally shift and Elen and her powers continuing to grow and develop make them some of the more interesting characters in this series so far.  I was a little disappointed because of the previously mentioned, not a lot going on in between the bigger moments thing.  I guess I just expected this to have a bigger emotional impact than it did.  It was still good, but not as good as I hoped.

 

 

Tell No Lies: Oyster Point, Book 2

Tell No LiesAuthor: Tanya Anne Crosby
Book Name: Tell No Lies
Series: Oyster Point
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  New York Times bestselling author Tanya Anne Crosby returns to the teeming marshes and crumbling plantations of Charleston, where a gruesome murder and kidnapping reawaken fears of a serial killer on the loose. . .

Augusta Aldridge believes in Ian Patterson’s innocence, even after he was arrested for killing two young women and mutilating their corpses. Because she was with him the night one of the crimes occurred, hidden in the shadows beneath a beachside pier, locked in a wild, unthinking embrace with the man whose dangerous fascination may have fatally lured the other victims. Now that another body has been found, the police suspect a copycat killer, but Augusta is sure they have the wrong man behind bars. She’s going to risk her reputation, and her life, to prove it. . .

Review:   As the second book in this series, I didn’t see any improvement over issues I ran across in the first book.  There were some problems with character history that ended up being contradictory between book one and book two.  Some were small, but not insignificant, like getting one of the victims last names wrong at one point.

Another was quite a bit bigger and really bugged me.  In book one we have a line about Augusta’s past…

“She’d traded the vice for both her smoking and drinking habits about five years ago, after she’d realized she was turning into her mother – running around permanently anesthetized and sucking on cancer sticks as though she had a death wish.”

Yet early on in book two we get this line…

“In that way, she was a lot like her mother, and if it weren’t for Augusta’s intense dedication to being nothing like Flo, she might have ended up a pill-popping alky like their mother.”

While they do not 100% contradict each other, there is enough there to throw a reader into thinking that they read something wrong.  The fact that there are multiple times in both books where Augusta is shown as drinking in larger than light social amounts either negates the first statement from book one or means that the second statement is more a lie she told herself.  Either way, they don’t add up to a solid background for her character.

As in the first book, I really struggled with the believably of the romance aspect of this story.  Augusta blindly believes in someone (who she doesn’t know jack squat about) who has been suspected of not just child molestation, but been ex-communicated from his church, as a priest no less, and been arrested for murder and the attempted murder of her sister.  Not only that but she manages to totally fall in love with him after only having been in his presence about 3 times over a few weeks.  Instinct and believing in following your gut only takes you so far and this takes me right into not happening land.

The other big issue I seemed to struggle with here, well more than one actually, are the number of times the police not only share important information about the case with public sources but they really jump to conclusions without really investigating and confirming the evidence.  The way the investigation and crime solving aspects of the story have been presented really made this one even harder to like than the first one.

I was also a bit shocked at where and how this ended, not so much the actual resolution, but the fact that we actually got one.  I really thought that this would extend into a third book as there are 3 sisters and we didn’t get anything of Savanah’s story.  There may yet be another book, but since the main part of the suspense line of the story got resolved here, I can say there is probably a good chance I won’t bother because the personal side to both book one and book two were lacking enough that a book three without the suspense/mystery line just won’t be enough to draw me in.

So, yeah, this was just okay, but even that might have been pushing it a bit.

 

Speak No Evil: Oyster Point, Book 1

Speak No EvilAuthor: Tanya Anne Crosby
Book Name: Speak No Evil
Series: Oyster Point
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Lifting the veil of secrecy on a grand Southern family in decline, author Tanya Anne Crosby explores the lives of Caroline, Augusta, and Savannah Aldridge, three sisters who share a dark past and an uncertain future. . .

Caroline Aldridge was surprised by the number of mourners at her mother’s funeral. Evidently the newspaper heiress who had caused her children so much pain was well-loved by everyone else in Charleston. Now she was gone, leaving behind countless secrets–and a few demands: Caroline and her sisters must live together for one year or lose their inheritance. And Caroline must take over The Tribune. But a killer is making headlines, and Caroline may have unwittingly stepped into the crosshairs. . .

A series of kidnappings and murders resurrect the sisters’ memories of their brother’s disappearance as a child–and Caroline fears she may be next. Yet in the midst of her turmoil, she may be rekindling a romance she’d extinguished long ago. With Jack back in her life and the tattered bonds of sisterhood slowly mending, Caroline hopes the family can restore its position in Charleston society–unless a sinister force beyond their control tears them apart forever. . .

Review:   There were things I really enjoyed about this and things that ended up being annoying because they hit on points that are kind of standard irritants for me.

Caroline’s character was flaky, indecisive and yo-yo’d on her feelings towards Jack to the point that it made it incredibly difficult to like her in any way.  Jack’s character didn’t seem all that genuine or believable to me.  He was pretty unprofessional as a police officer and after 10 years apart, he still is absolutely in love with Caroline.  10 years is a long time to be apart and still actually know the person.  People change at least a little bit in 10 years.  You would think that there would need to be time to get to know the person that they’ve become since you last saw or spoke to them.  It is even less believable when there was zero contact between the two of them in that entire time.  Both the wishy washy attitude and the long term distance, but still love the person no matter what issues are things that kind of drive me nuts.  Fortunately the romance aspect of this story wasn’t the main focus.

The rest of the story, the suspense and murder aspects were much better presented.  I had a few issues with what seemed to be a smudgy timeline.  There were points where it appeared that a whole lot more time had taken place between events, then another event would happen that would make that timeline shrink considerably.  I’m not sure if this was an actual error or if it was just written unclearly, but it was enough to pull me out of the story a couple of times to try and figure out what was going on.

While we got a resolution to the murders, there were quite a few details that were left unfinished.  Again, not sure if that was just a messy finish or if it is leaving the door open for book 2 to mess with what we got in this book.  I’m kind of thinking that it is the second option.  Actually, I’m really hoping it is because that would make this as a series a whole heck of a lot more interesting.