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.

 

Beast Behaving Badly: Pride Series, Book 5

Beast Behaving BadlyAuthor: Shelly Laurenston
Book Name: Beast Behaving Badly
Series: Pride Series
Order: #5
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Some men just have more to offer. Like Bo Novikov, the hard muscled shape shifter hero of this wildly funny, deeply sexy new novel from Shelly Laurenston, part polar bear, part lion, pure alpha. . .

Ten years after Blayne Thorpe first encountered Bo Novikov, she still can’t get the smooth talking shifter out of her head. Now he’s shadowing her in New York, all seven plus feet of him, determined to protect her from stalkers who want to use her in shifter dogfights. Even if he has to drag her off to an isolated Maine town where the only neighbors are other bears almost as crazy as he is. . .

Let sleeping dogs lie. Bo knows it’s good advice, but he can’t leave Blayne be. Blame it on her sweet sexiness or his hunch that there’s more to this little wolf dog than meets the eye. Blayne has depths he hasn’t yet begun to fathom, much as he’d like to. She may insist Bo’s nothing but a pain in her delectable behind, but polar bears have patience in spades. Soon she’ll realize how good they can be together. And when she does, animal instinct tells him it’ll be worth the wait. . .

Review:   This was another reread for me.  I seriously needed something I knew I was going to enjoy so this was a perfect choice.  There are quite a few books in this series that I like, but Blayne is probably one of my favorite characters of the series, so I had to pick her book for this reread.

My first time around reading this book when I hit a part that had my hubby looking at me like I’d lost my mind because I busted out laughing, I knew that wouldn’t be the only time I’d read this book.  It is so rare for any book to crack me up like that.  I’m not really sure any other book or series has even come close.  These, I’m snorting and cackling and laughing the whole way through.

Blayne is insane.  Seriously, crazy, but in such a cool way that if you had the chance you would totally be her.  Everyone thinks she is this cute, crazy, but harmless girl and she normally is.  Do not ever piss her off, though, or that crazy turns into something not so cute and very deadly.  I love that she can be an absolute ditz but that isn’t all she is.  Bo is his own brand of crazy.  When paired with Blayne, you’d think that they were completely wrong for each other, but they absolutely work.

In a way, I’d kind of forgotten how much I loved this series.  Every single character is really their own brand of crazy.  I love how this shifter world creates an environment where all the things we wish we could do in the real world, but don’t for societies sake is totally okay for these shifters.  Like that jackass that pissed you off by cutting you off in line?  It is totally okay to shove them on their ass and stomp on them on your way by.  What better way to get out your aggressions than with shifter roller derby or shifter hockey?

I don’t have this series in my personal collection, but after this reminder I think it might just have to go towards the top of my wish list because just one read isn’t going to be enough.

 

Reaper’s Legacy: Reapers MC, Book 2

Reaper's LegacyAuthor: Joanna Wylde
Book Name: Reaper’s Legacy
Series: Reapers MC
Order: #2
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Eight years ago, Sophie gave her heart—and her virginity—to Zach Barrett on a night that couldn’t have been less romantic or more embarrassing. Zach’s step-brother, a steely-muscled, tattooed biker named Ruger, caught them in the act, getting a peep show of Sophie he’s never forgotten.

She may have lost her dignity that fateful night, but Sophie also gained something precious—her son Noah. Unfortunately, Zach’s a deadbeat dad, leaving Ruger to be Noah’s only male role model. When he discovers Sophie and his nephew living in near poverty, Ruger takes matters into his own hands—with the help of the Reapers Motorcycle Club—to give them a better life.

Living with outlaw bikers wasn’t Sophie’s plan for her son, but Ruger isn’t giving her a choice. He’ll be there for Noah, whether she wants him or not. But Sophie does want him, has always wanted him. Now she’ll learn that taking a biker to bed can get a girl dirty in every way…

Review:   I’m not sure if I’ve just read one too many books where the male character isn’t so much an alpha male but rather a domineering ass, but I just didn’t like this.  If I were to rate soley on writing ability or style, this would have a much higher rating because it is well written.  I just really didn’t like the characters in this at all.

Yes, I have read other Joanna Wylde books and liked them okay, but I think I’ve just had enough.  I’m kind of tired of reading books where the only redeeming factor for the guy is that he is hot and good in bed or where the female loses every last brain cell when sex is involved and cannot manage to think for herself.  I just do not find that attractive or sexy in any way.

I’ve read my share of MC romance novels.  I’ve really enjoyed some of them, but a chunk of them are like this one.  I get that this is probably pretty realistic for the culture, maybe even sugar coated for entertainment.  That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like to see what I consider hugely unhealthy relationships where the guy is essentially a bully and the girl is a doormat.  Sadly, this book falls right into that slot and I just didn’t enjoy it because of that.

In this book in particular, just because Ruger finally agrees to not be a dick and to no longer sleep around (after demanding that Sophie not even look at anything with a dick) that doesn’t change the fact that he believes that it is totally okay to have that kind of a relationship.  He is still a dick, just one willing to keep it in his pants with anyone but Sophie, and she is still a doormat because even though his lifestyle put her life at risk, she is willing to accept that even if that lifestyle also puts her son at risk because he is good in bed and willing to bury the bodies.

If that is the kind of thing you enjoy, then by all means, this is a great book.  It just wasn’t for me.

I will also note that a large part of this book happens at the same time as Devil’s Game (which is marked as #3 in this series), which I have already read.  You don’t need to read either in any particular order, but it will kind of feel like you’ve already read a lot of bits even if they come from different perspectives.  That may have contributed to the not so awesome feelings I had for the book because it did feel like there was a lot of repeat going on.

A Red-Rose Chain: October Daye, Book 9

A Red-Rose ChainAuthor: Seanan McGuire
Book Name: A Red-Rose Chain
Series: October Daye
Order: #9
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars

 

Blurb:  Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Review:   As a series, this has all the pieces need for an excellent fantasy book.  Incredible, richly crafted world, amazing characters with loads of depth on both the good and the bad side, and intricately built stories that keep readers interested from the start and never leave them bored for even a moment.

This addition to the October Daye series is no exception.  I have always loved October’s character as she is totally imperfect but is strong enough to both stand on her own and accept help in the times she needs it.  We continue to see that in this book, especially with her relationship with Tybalt.  He has power and strength of his own, but chooses to use that in support of Toby rather than to make her do what he wants or put her on a lower footing than him.  This is an example of a balanced relationship that you so very rarely see in any genre of story that it puts this into a special category all by itself.

Even though it had been a while since I last read a book in this series, I had no problem dropping right back into the story.  I didn’t even really have too many issues with trying to remember bits of the previous stories, which is another nice aspect to this series and how it is written.

This is one of those stories that I have a somewhat difficult time articulating what I liked about it because I honestly pretty much loved the whole thing.  The only even remotely negative thing I can say is that it ended way before I was ready to leave that world behind.  I just want more.

 

Covet: Tracey Garvis Graves

CovetAuthor: Tracey Garvis Graves
Book Name: Covet
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.

Review:  When I skipped over this several times in favor of other books on my to read list, I should have taken the hint that this one probably wasn’t really one I was going to like much.  I’m not a fan of books on infidelity, but I’ve read a few that write it in a way that is really interesting and thought provoking.  This wasn’t one of those books.

This had a few things with regards to the secondary characters and a few scenes with them that were really kind of ridiculous and at least one or two that made Claire seem like such a pushover.  Sorry, but no one should ever touch another person without permission in the first place, but to do so and not get a knee to the balls and an in your face confrontation just doesn’t work for me.  Not only did she not do anything, she maintained a friendship with those characters.  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in my book.

I’m not one of those types that thinks that once you’ve married someone, you have to stick with it no matter what.  If there are problems, absolutely, work through them.  If you can’t, then you do what you need to do to move on to a healthy relationship.  I absolutely do not agree with becoming involved with another person while you are still married to another person.  If you find that you are drawn to someone, for whatever reason, that isn’t your spouse, then you need to think long and hard about why that is and see what you need to do about it.  Use it as the wake up call that something in your relationship isn’t right.  You do not pursue it until you are free to do so

This book hits a few gray areas in how I feel about that kind of situation and I honestly didn’t like the characters because of that.  It speaks really highly about Claire’s character that she’d get into any kind of relationship, even if it wasn’t ever physical, instead of having the conversation with her husband that needed to be had to attempt to resolve her issues.  It makes her seem shallow and unwilling to do any actual work, she only wanted the easy way.

The issue with Chris’ job and the travel kind of pissed me off as well.  Yes, you absolutely have to do what you have to in order to take care of family, but you still always have choices.  His choices seemed to be more about keeping his social status than actually doing what was best for his family.  Again, this makes the character seem shallow and materialistic.

Daniel doesn’t come across as any better than the rest because he knowingly pursued a woman that was married.  Sorry, no excuse at all.  It would have been different if he didn’t know, but he did.  That and it seemed a bit crazy that the main reason for his attraction was that Claire reminded him of his ex-wife.  That is really kind of twisted.

Even with all of those things that bugged the crap out of me about this story, the rest was just very slow and not all that interesting.  If I could manage to set aside my personal feelings on the subject, I’d say that this was a decent story, but far from great.  As it stands, this was really just kind of a lukewarm story that didn’t have much to make it worth my time.

The Enchantment Emporium: Gale Women, Book 1

The Enchantment EmporiumAuthor: Tanya Huff
Book Name: The Enchantment Emporium
Series: Gale Women
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms they cast. Then she receives word that she’s inherited her grandmother’s junk shop in Calgary, only to discover upon arriving that she’ll be serving the fey community. And when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day.

Review:  There were a lot more things about this book that I liked than I didn’t, but it was a frustrating read because there is a whole heck of a lot that is left really vague.

Obviously, the Gale family has some form of magic available to them, even a bit of shape shifting for the men, but we never actually know what they are or get a more definitive understanding of what they are capable of so you never really understand why they are a power that is so heavily respected by others.  You see examples of that power, but you are never allowed to actually understand it.  There is a kind of throw away comment made by the bad guy at one point that may hint at a history, but it is done in a way that you can’t exactly take is seriously.

It is also left pretty far open and unclarified, but heavily suggested that there is a level of non-monogamous relationships in the gale family.  Again this is left implied, but vague because there are apparently exceptions to that rule.  Oh and there isn’t an actual sex scene in the book (which seems a little odd for a group of characters that are apparently highly sexual) and that only emphasizes the heavily suggested and implied.  Not only is there a level of open sexuality, but those open sexual relationships appear to exist between cousins as well.  It doesn’t outright say it, but again, heavily implied (which kind of felt way on the ick side to me).  All of that kind of just muddied the waters of what is already a vague set up for the Gale family and their dynamics.

There was a bunch of random jumping from character perspective to character perspective and it wasn’t always something that the reader could even easily determine which character’s perspective they were getting, at least for the first 1/3 of the book or so.  After that, character identity was a bit easier to pick out, but it made it difficult to get into the story early on.

All of that said and once you got past the vagueness to the parts that were clear, I really did love the story and what I could figure out of the main characters.  The world created here is intriguing and I want to know a lot more about it than what I got in this one book.  Same thing with some of the secondary characters.  I’m just hoping that book 2 clears some things up.

Far Gone: Laura Griffin

Far GoneAuthor: Laura Griffin
Book Name: Far Gone
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Police detective Andrea Finch is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. Disgraced and disillusioned, she’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where danger lurks in plain sight and nothing is quite what it seems.

FBI agent Jon North is working undercover in west Texas, investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a terrorist plot. But when the evidence points to Andrea’s brother, Jon finds that persuading the stubborn cop to help will be harder than cracking his toughest case.

Andrea must find a way to do what’s right while protecting her only sibling. As the clock ticks down, Andrea and Jon race to confront a heartless killer who will stop at nothing to deliver a final, terrifying message.

Review:  There were a couple of places where this stretched the believability factor a bit with some of the scenarios, but this was still a pretty entertaining read.  I got deep enough into the story that those little blips didn’t really pull me out at all so I don’t think they are worth picking over.

This is definitely more suspense than romance and the romantic parts that do pop up notch in pretty well with the rest of the story.  Though the overall timeline here doesn’t take up more than maybe a few weeks, the romance isn’t an insta-love thing.  Attraction, definitely, but not deep, everlasting love in that time frame.

I’d say my least favorite part was that this finished and resolved a little too perfectly clean.  I love it wasn’t a bad guy reveals all in the end, but it was still wrapped up in this nice tidy bow and the main characters both come out totally unscathed.  Heck almost every single character, good or bad, came away pretty clean.  One person got roughed up, that was it.  Something with this intense of a plot really kind of needs to have the people in it get dirtied up a bit.

Thoughts on Author Kristen Ashley

Reading Heaven and Hell, by Kristen Ashly opened my eyes to something that has been bugging me with the last several KA books I’ve read.  It took a while because I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but with this book, I finally figured it out.

While she writes these amazing, badass alpha males, they are all pretty chauvinistic.  It is most often done in such a way that they are still damn hot and sexy, which is one of the things that kept bugging me because I don’t find that kind of behavior sexy.  There are parts of all of these alpha males that I absolutely adore, but a lot of times, that gets pushed to the side because of the attitude.  The female characters also have their own issues that I don’t normally like and how they act and respond to those alpha males really emphasizes that chauvinism.

When taken as a whole, the majority of female characters in KA books, while spunky, quirky and, on the surface, pretty cool, they are also most often the stereotypical heroine that ultimately needs someone to take care of her and rescue her.  They also often seem like they are bordering shallow and flighty.  No matter what strengths she may have, she is rendered weak when put up against these serious alpha males.  They talk over the female characters, are almost always right and have some reasonable, rational, logical response to every concern that the females may raise, making them seem irrational, over reacting, or even bitchy and that makes those thoughts, feelings or concerns seem frivolous.

As a standard (and there are exceptions to every rule), the female characters are the ones to compromise or give in.  Heaven and Hell is a good example of that as really the only compromise the male character allows in the entire story is the biggie in the end.  Sure, it is huge and important, but the smaller, every day compromises are just as important as the biggies.  Again, not always, but so often these books seem to be carried on the solid personality of the alphas, even if they are chauvinistic, and only a bit on the quirky of the females.  There just aren’t that many female characters that come across as truly strong.

This creates a power imbalance in the relationships between the male and female characters.  Not once have I read a KA book where there is a true balancing of that power.  When it comes to the “man’s world” aspects of the relationships it is always the man’s way or the highway with zero room for compromise.  I am not usually a fan of this huge divide between men and women in romance.  I see no reason why you can’t have these amazing, protective alpha males that still balance and support the strengths of the females, making them stronger instead of making them seem weak and unable to stand alone while also not emasculating or lessening the power of that alpha male because she would in turn balance and support him.

So why is it that I have, and still mostly do, love Kristen Ashley?  In a lot of ways, it isn’t the characters, as I’ve seen often enough, there are lots of aspects that I don’t like about her characters, yet I still love them.  It is the way she writes them, infusing them with huge, gut snagging emotions that make them so incredibly real.  The histories she wraps those characters in and the fact that they are so far from perfect they can only be human makes it impossible not to connect with them.

It is because of the realism and beauty that she manages to weave into every story that I keep coming back and why I still love the stories even if I don’t always love the characters or what they represent which kind of makes me hate that I like them in the first place.  There is such a uniqueness to her style and how she writes that just draws you in no matter what.  That is kind of difficult for me to understand.  How can I love a story but not so much the characters, even sometimes when I feel like the story may be missing something?  It doesn’t seem rational or logical, but it just is.

The last several KA books that I’ve read have been really difficult for me to rate and review because there are quite a few things that I love and hate about them so it is incredibly hard to figure out where it falls in the grand scheme of things.  I’d have to say that I’d still rate Kristen Ashley as my favorite romance author because what she writes always hits strong.  I’d even say that a few of her characters are some of my favorites, but I don’t actually like her characters (at least parts of them) most of the time.

It’s kind of crazy, but even with the things that I’m not such a fan of, I’ve yet to find another romance author that I like they way I do Kristen Ashley.  It would be beyond awesome to get the kinds of characters I know I’d love wrapped up in the kinds of stories KA writes, they way she writes, but that is probably expecting something like perfection and not even our favorite authors are capable of that.

Heaven and Hell: Kristen Ashley

Heaven and HellAuthor: Kristen Ashley
Book Name: The Promise
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  After making a bad decision when she was very young, Kia Clementine finds herself in hell. Then, suddenly, within the time it takes for a shotgun to blast, her hell changes. Completely. Then out-of-the-blue she sees Sampson Cooper, her celebrity crush. A man the whole world knows is decent. A man the world knows is loyal. A man the world knows is good. All of these very unlike her now dead husband.

He’s sitting at a table right next to hers. And she catches his eye.

Terrified of the interest Sam shows in her, Kia finds the courage to go out with him. Not long after, she shares her dark secrets and Sam shares that he’ll stop at nothing to gain her trust.

As Sam leads Kia to heaven, Kia realizes that Sam is living his own hell. But although he gives her beauty and she gives him everything, he withholds his trust.

Even with all the beauty Sam shows her, Kia wants it all. But Sam forces Kia to make a heartbreaking decision and only she can decide. It’s all or nothing.

Review:  I came to some realizations while reading this book, but are a bit too in depth to put into a review, so I’ll be writing up a separate post on that.   As for this…

This is what I’ve decided is classic KA writing with yet another serious alpha male.  I’m not as big of a fan of these characters as I have been in many other KA books, but they are still good.  This definitely had its sweet moments.

I did find the underlying plot in this with regards to the hit put out on Kia to be a bit underwhelming and kind of an afterthought.  I think I would have liked for this to have had a bit more focus and not such an anticlimactic resolution.

In all, though, this was another really good story that brushed the edges of a couple of other series KA has written without being a direct part of any one of them.

 

Tex: Burnout, Book 2

TexAuthor: Dahlia West
Book Name: Tex
Series: Burnout
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Erotic
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Abby Raines is leaving Las Vegas. She’s trading the glitter and excess of her hometown for the rolling hills and lush forests of Rapid City, South Dakota. She’s taken her first real job and she’s determined to succeed on her own.

Mark Marsten traded the Texas range for the Army Rangers years ago and never looked back. Now, he’s settled permanently in Rapid City with the remaining members of his Special Forces unit. He thought he had it all, well almost anyway. Until a sassy redhead with a sharp tongue and body to die for rolled into town.

Mark knows he’s too much for her long-term, but he can’t resist a fling with Rapid City’s newest resident. He thought he knew the game. After all, it’s his game. And always his rules. But more and more it feels like Abby is the one holding all the cards.

Burnout is a series but each novel can stand alone on its own. You do not have to read Tex to enjoy the others. It is the only novel in the series with BDSM. If you don’t like BDSM skip this one. Fair warning: the kink factor is extremely high.

Review:  This was a reread for me, so not a new one.  For hotness/sexy factor, this rates pretty high, but there are parts that push my comfort level beyond something I find sexy and that puts the overall rating down for me.

Both Mark and Abby are pretty decent characters, but don’t have a depth that I’ve found in other books in the same genre.  This is definitely one of those stories that has a whole lot more steam than story, though what story there is is good.

As a second read, I ran across more things that kind of bugged me than I noticed on the first round so I don’t think I liked this as much as the first time I read it.  If you are in the mood for hot and steamy that pushes some serious boundaries on the kinky scale, this would be a good choice.  If your looking for a deep emotional story, might skip this one.

The Two Gentlemen of Altona: Playing the Fool, Book 1

The Two Gentlemen of AltonaAuthor: Lisa Henry & JA Rock
Book Name: The Two Gentlemen of Altona
Series: Playing the Fool
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/LGBT/Suspense
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  Mischief, thou art afoot.

Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he’s also been tasked with keeping Henry Page — the world’s most irritating witness — alive. Which is tough when Mac’s a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn’t really what Mac wants to do to him.

Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law…though he wouldn’t mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry’s a valuable asset to the FBI. But he’s got his own agenda, and it doesn’t involve testifying.

When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they’re surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he’s willing to go to keep Henry by his side.

Review:  This has a wonderful blend of story and characters, funny and serious with a little bit of dorky and cute and vulnerable.  I really fell in love with both Mac and Henry and am so glad that their stories aren’t done yet even if I was left hanging at the very end.

The different aspects of this story are pretty well balanced out.  The focus isn’t too heavy on just the suspense or the romance.  This was a bit of a surprise for me as that seems to be something of a rarity in this genre, at least as far as I’ve seen.  I’m definitely going to be grabbing the next one in this series.

Edge of Sight: Guardian Angelinos, Book 1

Edge of SightAuthor: Roxanne St. Claire
Book Name: Edge of Sight
Series: Guardian Angelinos
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

Blurb:  The killer she can’t escape . . .
The heartbreak she can’t forget . . .

The one man who can stop them both.

When Samantha Fairchild witnesses a murder in the wine cellar of the restaurant where she works, the Harvard-bound law student becomes the next target of a professional assassin. Desperate for protection the authorities won’t provide, Sam seeks help from Vivi Angelino, an investigative reporter who recruits her brother, Zach, to protect Samantha. A Special Forces vet with the scars to prove he’s equally fearless and flawed, Zach takes the job, despite the fact that he and Sam once shared a lusty interlude that ended when he left for war and disappeared from her life. Now, as they crack a conspiracy that leads to Boston ‘s darkest corners, Sam and Zach must face their fears, desires, and doubts, before a hired killer gets a second shot…

Review:  There really wasn’t anything about this book to make it stand out.  The story was okay, the characters were decent, but really nothing that made it more than that.  Sorry for the short and sweet on this one, but I just didn’t really feel much about this one way or another.

To Have and To Hold: Nalini Singh

To Have and To HoldAuthor: Nalini Singh
Book Name: To Have and To Hold*
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  The pact Jessica Randall makes with wealthy New Zealand rancher Gabe Dumont is simple: in exchange for marriage and an heir, he will save her family property. It’s calculating and completely devoid of any tenderness, just like the man himself. But things soon get very complicated as secrets and mistrust, jealousy and ultimatums take over, threatening Jessica’s ability to maintain her emotional distance. Worst of all, the sizzling attraction between them is suddenly making this marriage of convenience decidedly inconvenient!

A Reader Favorite Story originally published as BOUND BY MARRIAGE.

Review:  This has a very different style when it comes to a Nalini Singh book and I struggled with trying not to hold it up to all the others of hers that I’ve read and loved.  Even knowing the voices she uses in her two fantasy series and her Rock Kiss series are very different from each other, they still have this underlying unity that allows a reader to know it is a Nalini Singh book.  I had a very difficult time picking up that voice in this book.  I actually had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t written by another, lesser liked author as it had some similar tones that I don’t typically like.

Ms. Singh is no stranger to writing amazing dark and broken heroes, but Gabe is on a whole other level and I didn’t like him all that much.  It was hard to tie the scarred and broken Gabe into anything that Jessica could actually love.  Not with what very little she was given to work with.  Jessica was also hard to like as a character because she completely failed to stand up for herself until the very end.  Sorry, but no land or family legacy is worth selling yourself for.

One of the things that I’ve always loved about a Nalini Singh book is that they stand out from a typical romance, both in amazing characters that are full of personality on all kinds of different levels and a stellar story line that, even when I’ve reached the end of the book, I’m not ready to let it go.  This book was lacking in those elements and landed squarely into the standard level for a romance novel with just a decent story and okay characters.

*Please not that apparently this book has been published under two different names.  I’m reviewing under the title I read, but it was also published as Bound by Marriage.

You Dropped a Blonde on Me: Ex-Trophy Wives, Book 1

You Dropped a Blond On MeAuthor: Dakota Cassidy
Book Name: You Dropped a Blonde on Me
Series: Ex-Trophy Wives
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars

 

Blurb:  She was the perfect party-planning, haute-to-the max trophy wife. Now Maxine Cambridge is broke, unemployable and living with her mother and teenage son in a retirement village, with her self-esteem kicked to the curb.

Until her geeky former classmate Campbell Barker returns, all grown-up- and off-the-scale smokin’ hot. Campbell refuses to believe Max isn’t that smart, funny girl he’s crushed on since high school. The more Max tries to show him he’s wrong, the more she rediscovers her long-retired mojo. Now, she’s ready to throw down some payback on her ex-life and fight for what she deserves…

Review:  If I had paid a bit closer attention to the series name and the blurb on this one, I probably could have avoided what ended up being a pretty annoying read.

The main character Max comes across as this incredibly insecure, whiny, spineless woman that can’t handle the fact that her husband, who she married at 20 and is 20 years older than her cheated with someone half her age and left her and her son penniless after 20 years of marriage.  Oh, yeah, he also did that for their whole marriage.  Yet she is shocked that he turned out to be a slime ball.

It is insanely difficult to feel any sympathy for a person that puts themselves into a position like that and continues to allow it to happen, so connecting with this character is more than hard.  The couple of female friends mentioned were all also married to much older men.  Seriously?  Sure, there were all in it for the love.  Absolutely.

Campbell isn’t a whole lot better.  He is all about understanding her and where she is at, yet pushes her when she says she isn’t ready then insists she get over herself and heal at the pace he deems is the correct one.  Sorry, bud!  She just got away from an ass that demanded she be only what he wanted and needed, when he wanted and needed it only to find another one just like that and that is just as hot and cold as you claim she is.  So not prince charming.

I get I’m a little back and forth on not liking Max and wanting to stand up for her, but that is because I can’t stand characters like her that won’t stand up for themselves.  I didn’t find her all that cute or funny.  In fact I really kind of felt like when she wasn’t being whiny and weak, she just had kind of an ugly personality.  No matter the emotional damage left from her marriage, I didn’t like the personality shifts that character portrayed.

The other thing that just got me irritated and on the not buying it bandwagon with this was Max’s history before her marriage.  This book makes it sound as though she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth rather than having only come into the rich girl life when she married.  She had never been inside a Walmart but her own mother has no problem going there?  What?  Her own mother never once took her shopping while she was growing up?  That just doesn’t fly.  The selfish, snobby underlying attitude she has colors everything she does.  No matter what, she is either way better than others or has it so much worse, the world should pity her.

Obviously, I’m not a fan of spoiled little rich girl stories, even if the rich girl falls flat on her face.  The series name and blurb hint at this, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite so out there with regards to being totally unable to like the main character.  Missed by a huge long shot with this one.

 

The In-Between Hour: Barbara Claypole White

The In-Between HourAuthor: Barbara Claypole White
Book Name: The In-Between Hour
Series: *
Order:*
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars

 

Blurb:  WHAT COULD BE WORSE THAN LOSING YOUR CHILD? HAVING TO PRETEND HE’S STILL ALIVE…

Bestselling author Will Shepard is caught in the twilight of grief, after his young son dies in a car accident. But when his father’s aging mind erases the memory, Will rewrites the truth. The story he spins brings unexpected relief…until he’s forced to return to rural North Carolina, trapping himself in a lie.

Holistic veterinarian Hannah Linden is a healer who opens her heart to strays but can only watch, powerless, as her grown son struggles with inner demons. When she rents her guest cottage to Will and his dad, she finds solace in trying to mend their broken world, even while her own shatters.

As their lives connect and collide, Will and Hannah become each other’s only hope–if they can find their way into a new story, one that begins with love.

Review: This isn’t a lighthearted read.  It is loaded with heavier emotions that are bracketed by anger and denial, so it is a little hard to say that I liked it because it is so heavy, but it was really good.

Will’s character is great.  It was incredibly easy to feel him and move through the story along his emotions.  Hannah was a bit harder, but I believe that was kind of the point.  Her character falls more into the denial category and tries to only focus on the lighter, more positive emotions which don’t seem to fit what is going on.  It is hard to connect with a character when their emotions don’t match the scenes, but her character is missing connections because of that, which is how she was written.  It worked.

The focus of this is more on the family dynamics and dramas rather than on the romance.  I think the lack of focus on that made that aspect of the story harder to connect with, so it seemed a tiny bit off for me, but overall it was a pretty good story.