Daddy Issues: Seth King

Daddy Issues
Daddy Issues

Author:  Seth King
Book Name: Daddy Issues
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBTQ
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

Blurb:

Their bond is forbidden. Their relationship could upend lives. But their love? It’s a force of nature…

Ten years ago, a desperate and confused Robert Glazer briefly married a woman before confronting his sexuality and starting his life as an out gay man. They divorced and lost contact – until now.

Today, a sudden family death throws Robert and his ex-wife back together for the first time. That’s where Robert meets her son Eliot, who was raised with his own father and is now a gorgeous – and openly gay – adult. And to Robert and Eliot’s surprise, sparks fly.

Passion ignites, then threatens to explode. Soon Eliot knows three things. One: Robert is not his father figure, and never was – in fact, he barely remembers him. Two: news of their union would still rock his whole world. And three: he craves Robert more than anything he has ever wanted. And as suspicions arise, their attraction only grows…

This was kind of a train wreck. I came so close at least a half dozen times to putting this down and walking away, but kept at it wanting to see why it was so highly rated (Amazon).

There were so many things about this one that just drove me up the wall. A big one, which confuses the hell out of me because apparently the author is gay himself, is the way he drops almost every negative gay stereotype into this story in such a way that he turns being gay into an ugly caricature. Then, he turns around and seems to get on his soap box about how bad life can be for gay men and how they are treated by the world around them. It is a glaring contradiction, being this incredibly strange cross between preachy and offensive at the same time.

I had a terrible time trying to overlook some of the errors in scene specifics or contradictory plot elements. You could read something in one chapter/paragraph/line and in the next, you would read something that appeared to be the opposite of what was mentioned previously. I found myself flipping back to reread several times to to check that I didn’t miss something or read it wrong, but it was just two very different versions. One in particular dealt with a character having put clothing on then the next mention, there isn’t any and it just killed the entire scene.

I get that authors have habits or phrases that they like to use. Often, they are done well enough that they are either not noticed or are not annoying, but this one drove me up the wall because because it was used in nearly every single dialog scene in the book. “… he said soon.” or some version of that phrase. For one, this extreme level of repetition shows a lack of depth, but it also very often didn’t even work for how it was used and made the already choppy dialog even clunkier. Dialog that often left me feeling as if I’d missed huge chunks of the conversation. What makes all that even worse is that there is so little dialog in the first place. Nearly this entire book happens inside the characters heads and there is a lot of history dumping and even repetition that had me skimming through parts of this.

The scene/timing transitions also often left me confused because most of the time they didn’t flow between one and the next in a smooth way so I wasn’t sure that the scene had even shifted or how much time that had passed between one scene and the next. Toss in a sudden POV shift from the two main characters to a third character somewhere in the 60% range, only to go back to the two main characters, never getting the POV of that third again, only to then be tossed into a 4th POV a few chapters later and you get the readers version of whiplash. Don’t even get me started on the convoluted, crazy mess that was the last couple of chapters.

Neither of the main characters showed any level of believably or maturity, no matter their age. It was like watching extremely immature 16 year olds rather than adults, let alone someone that is supposedly in their 40s. The yo-yoing is off the charts and makes it all that much worse.

Even though I’ve pretty much blasted this book, there are tiny parts that are genuinely good, but they aren’t nearly enough to make up for all that isn’t.

Our Little Secret: Roz Nay

Our Little Secret
Our Little Secret

Author: Roz Nay
Book Name: Our Little Secret
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Rating:  Really Good*/Didn’t Like*

4+stars

2+stars


 

Blurb:

Our Little Secret is a twisted tale of love, pain, and revenge that will stay with the reader long after they turn the last page.

They say you never forget your first love. What they don’t say though, is that sometimes your first love won’t forget you…

A police interview room is the last place Angela expected to find herself today. It’s been hours, and they keep asking her the same inane questions over and over. “How do you know the victim?” “What’s your relationship with Mr. Parker?” Her ex’s wife has gone missing, and anyone who was close to the couple is a suspect. Angela is tired of the bottomless questions and tired of the cold room that stays the same while a rotating litany of interrogators changes shifts around her. But when criminologist Novak takes over, she can tell he’s not like the others. He’s ready to listen, and she knows he’ll understand. When she tells him that her story begins a decade before, long before Saskia was in the picture, he gives her the floor.

A twenty-something young professional, Angela claims to have no involvement. How could she? It’s been years since she and H.P., Mr. Parker that is, were together. As her story unfolds, it deepens and darkens. There’s a lot to unpack… betrayal, jealousy, and a group of people who all have motives for retribution. If Angela is telling the truth, then who’s lying? 

Yes, I have two different star ratings on this. It was nearly impossible to rate this because I have two very different opinions on it.

This was truly very well written and well developed. The problem? I didn’t like it. Not because of poor quality or that it tripped any of my pet peeves, but because by the time I finished the book, I felt as though it had left a stain on me.

There is not a single likable character in the book. Again, not because they were poorly written, but because they all touch on some of the ugliest aspects of humanity , the ones that are subtle and insidious. At one point or another in the book, each character just felt as though they were coated in slime. Not necessarily evil, but ugly.

The story is interesting and intriguing, but along the lines of watching a train wreck. There is just not a single, genuinely positive thing that happens in the entire book. The tiny bits that seem to be good/happy/positive as you read them become tainted as the story moves along. Combine that with the truly unlikable, nearly vile characters, and no, I really didn’t like this, though I won’t completely ding the rating because of my personal tastes as this author is talented.

For those that enjoy that kind of a story, you will probably love this book. It just really wasn’t for me.

Forever With You: Londra Laine

Forever With You
Forever With You

Author: Londra Laine
Book Name: Forever With You
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Okay/Didn’t Like
2+stars


 

 

Blurb:

Kelly Brooks Montes is only nineteen years old and just starting college in New York City when tragedy strikes, and he becomes a single dad to his toddler brother. Four years later, Kelly and his baby brother, Jaylen, are doing well, though Kelly leads a double life to make ends meet. He’s a high-level administrative assistant by day and a racy go-go boy by night. Between raising his brother, dancing, and trying not to run afoul of his new boss, Kelly doesn’t have time for a boyfriend. Even if he did want a man in his life, a past trauma makes him question whether he can ever trust a man with his body or his heart. But then Kelly receives an unexpected but steamy birthday kiss from his boss, a man he was sure hated him, and he begins to wish for things he knows he shouldn’t.

Andrew Whitman knew from the moment he held Kelly’s hand that the man was special, and it both annoyed and terrified him. Kelly makes him feel a little out of control and Drew is a highly controlled man. He has to be to keep his sexuality a secret from his father, a conservative politician. And he is OK with that. He has a perfectly good, mutually beneficial, life plan with his best friend, Lex. A long time ago, he’d made his peace with the fact that he’d never find a man worth turning his life upside down for. Then he ends up with his capable and gorgeous assistant under him on top of his desk, and his life plans change. Drew can’t seem to get out of his own way when it comes to the quiet, sexy, and surprising single dad, but he can’t stop himself from falling for Kelly and his sweet baby brother. And just when it seems that Kelly has worked through his past hurts enough to let Drew into his body and his heart, manipulative family and words unspoken threaten to tear them apart. But after getting a taste of a life he never thought he could have, Drew won’t let anything tear his fledgling family apart.

***Please be aware that this book contains a flashback of and several references to sexual assault that may be triggering to some readers.***

Andrew, aka Drew, killed this book for me. He is an absolute a**. He started out that way so much so, that I nearly didn’t finish the book. Towards the middle, it became better and I thought he might, just might, redeem himself. Then it all went down in flames towards the end with his ridiculous excuse for his deception. There was absolutely no realistic or believable reason for that deception. It was childish and inane. When you look at that on a balance with what Kelly trusted him with, it makes Drew an absolute selfish douche, putting him on par with Kelly’s past abuser.

The only reason I could give this two stars instead of one is because Kelly was a pretty decent character and I liked Jayden, but they weren’t enough to overcome how awful Drew was.

Ashes of Life: Erica Lucke Dean

Ashes of Life
Ashes of Life

Author: Erica Lucke Dean
Book Name: Ashes of Life
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Married for just three months, Alex Barrett is stunned when her husband, David, dies in a tragic accident. And the absolute last thing the pregnant young widow wants is to take on responsibility for his teenage daughter, Maddie. Reeling from loss, Alex struggles to deal with her grief and her troubled stepdaughter, but one question haunts her: why was David with his ex-wife when he died?

All Maddie Barrett wanted was for her parents to get back together, but an icy road took that dream away. Afterward, Maddie is riddled with guilt that she can’t share with anyone. Feeling angry and alone, she lays all the blame on Alex.

Alex and Maddie must find a way to move past their pain—shared, yet separate. Thrown together in an untenable arrangement, they fight through a frozen landscape of sorrow and redemption while redefining love, forgiveness, and family.

I just was not a fan of this. Neither of the two main characters were likable. No matter their situation, they were both pretty self absorbed, bratty and unwilling to look outside of their own bubble of existence. I really wasn’t a fan of the romantic relationships on either of their parts either. Way too much yo-yo action going on. To the point that if these characters existed in real life, they should probably be seeking help for mental disorders.

The writing itself wasn’t bad, but I won’t enjoy a book if I don’t like the characters or the believably of their situations. This just didn’t do anything other than irritate me.

Butterfly Kisses: Detective Damien Drake, Book 1

Author: Patrick Logan
Book Name: Butterfly Kisses
Series: Detective Damien Drake
Order: 1
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: His hands are bound behind him, a crude butterfly drawn in blood on his bare back. He isn’t the first.

When a drug addict finds the body of a man in the basement of an abandoned warehouse in New York City, Detective Damien Drake is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim was a philanthropist, father, doting husband, and wealthy junior partner in one of the cities most respected law firms.

He seemed to have the perfect life.

Yet when Damien probes deeper, he realizes that this man isn’t the first. His investigation soon connects this murder with another in Montreal, both of which were emblazoned with the same bloody butterfly.

What dark secrets is the NYC lawyer hiding? And what is the significance of the butterfly?

As Damien inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on him… and those close to him.

Damien’s last case cost him his partner’s life. This case threatens not only his job, but his sanity, as well. And this time, the killer may even be smarter than he is.

One thing for certain is that if he doesn’t catch the killer soon, more people will die. The only question is, will the next victim be someone close to Detective Damien Drake?

Apparently I’m going to start the year off with a good old book bash. And not in a good way.

First off, if this book had an editor, they probably need to be looking for a new job. There were so many mistakes, glaringly obvious ones that should have been caught at even a rough read through, that I was constantly tripping over problems and forced to go back and reread sentences to try and figure out what was actually being said. There was no way I was going to sink into this book with those problems. I hate to harp on edits because mistakes get made, even with good editors, but when it is as bad as this, it kills the story.

Both of the main cop characters were horrifically bad. Drake was the stereotypical bad, drunk cop that truly had nothing at all likeable about him. He broke just about every single rule with regards to investigation and interviewing, to the point there is zero chance a reader is going to buy him as a cop who still has his job. Chase’s character isn’t any better, different issues, but equally bad. The bumbling of both of them killed what was left for me after I waded through the errors.

The basic idea behind the story is decent, but the follow through falls flat.

Lost Child: D.S. Butler

Lost ChildAuthor: D.S. Butler
Book Name: Lost Child
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense, Mystery
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: She only turned her back for a moment but that was all it took.
Two years ago, Beth Farrow turned her back on her three-year-old niece, Jenna, for just a few seconds. She disappeared without a trace.
How does a three-year-old go missing from a crowded summer fete without anyone noticing?
When Beth leaves the country to try and escape her guilt, someone sends her a photograph from an anonymous number. It’s a photograph of Jenna. She’s older, but Beth is sure it’s her niece. She is determined to do what the police cannot: Find Jenna and bring her home.
But someone isn’t pleased when Beth returns, and they will do what ever it takes to get rid of her. This time, for good.

*Potential Spoiler*

One of my peeves with regards to books is a blurb that either gives too much away or is completely inaccurate and doesn’t match the story it is supposed to describe. For this book, it is the second part that applies, because this…

“But someone isn’t pleased when Beth returns, and they will do what ever it takes to get rid of her. This time, for good.”

NEVER actually happens. Based on the blurb, you’d think the book is something where the main character has things happen that would potentially harm her, or scare her away or that someone is actively trying to do her harm. Nope. Doesn’t happen. If you want to get technical, there is one event in the end, but it doesn’t fit with the blurb. It isn’t about Beth coming back and trying to find out what happened and the bad guy trying to stop her from doing so, but rather about her actually finding it out and the bad guy wanting to try and get away with it.

Besides the fact that I kept expecting something different, I could not stand Beth’s character. She came across as completely stupid, making asinine decisions all over the place as well as being horrifically judgemental. I didn’t like any of the characters, really. None of them ever made much sense as they all seemed unnecessarily nasty or suspicious.

So no, this one was not my cup of tea.

 

Worthy: Catherine Ryan Hyde

WorthyAuthor: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Book Name: Worthy
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb:

They might’ve been a family.

Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancé set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever.

** Potential Spoilers **

There really wasn’t anything about this that worked for me. All of the characters were incredibly simple minded. I genuinely thought for a while that they had some sort of mental disability before I realized they didn’t.

There is some hazy ground for the Buddy/Jody character to come across that way, but even that never made a whole lot of sense. One moment he came across as well educated and intelligent and the next, you’d think he lived completely secluded from people and the world for his entire life (as in locked in a closet secluded), which is not the case. He went to school. He graduated. It would have worked if the author had managed to come up with some tangible reason for his personality and inability to function in the world, but didn’t, even went so far as to specifically and clearly rule out EVERY rational reason for it. It made zero sense.

Virgina could not rub two brain cells together to form an original thought of her own. Every single thing that came up, she had to have someone tell her the obvious. I’d thought at the beginning of the book, based on the way she acted and needed someone else to think for her, that she was much younger than she actually was. Move forward 19 years and, if anything, she is even worse.

Besides the fact that I didn’t like a single character, this was so slow. Reading the blurb, I expected Virgina and Jody to cross paths much sooner than they did. All the lead up to that point crawled. Even after that, it tended to drag.

As for the emotional aspects of this book, I just didn’t find them. Because of the utter simplicity of the characters, their interactions felt hollow or even somewhat hostile at times. Virginia’s relationship in the beginning with Aaron rang of a crush from a teeny bopper that was flirting for the first time rather than a relationship an adult was in. The author gave no ground at all for the reader to believe that Virginia was in love and later made it worse when should couldn’t come up with a single real thing to tell Jody about. How can you so deeply and desperately love someone you don’t even know the very basics about, like… Oh, say, his child’s real name?

So, no. Nothing about this book worked for me.

Love You, Moore: Moore Romance, Book 2

Love You, MooreAuthor: Alex Miska
Book Name: Love You, Moore
Series: Moore Romance
Order: 2
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Xander Griffith was mesmerized by Julian the moment he laid eyes on him in a club; he’s gorgeous, brilliant, and unabashedly himself. But when he discovers Julian is his good friend’s, off-limits, baby brother, he promptly drops Julian off at his parents’ house with a promise to call. Unfortunately, his life took a left-hand turn that night, and Xander was unable to keep that promise. When they meet again months later, they can’t be in the same room without bickering like small children, and both men wonder whether the person they’d fallen for that night was an illusion.

Julian Moore is at loose ends after getting his Master’s: he can’t start his government cybersecurity job until he gets high-level clearance, his boyfriend and best friend are far away, and even his dojo closed down. All the sparkly, snarky white-hat hacker does these days is read M/M romance novels and hang out with his brothers’ friends. Of course, that means bumping into that over-privileged, condescending jerk, Xander, at every freaking turn; the man would be completely insufferable if it wasn’t for his sweet, hat-loving dog, Cassius.

When Xander discovers Julian is deeply depressed, his protective instincts kick in and he puts together a plan to help his friend’s brother fight his way through the murky gloom. The first step? Move the brat into his condo! It seems like the perfect solution: he certainly has plenty of room, it gets Julian out of his parents’ house, his boxer is head-over-paws in love with Julian, and someone has to keep their friend’s pug from destroying all of Xander’s left shoes.

From the moment Julian moves in, his and Xander’s lives fit seamlessly together and both men soon realize their initial attraction may have been stronger, and deeper, than they thought.

I struggled with rating this because there were some good things about it, but in the end I just didn’t like it. There were too many things that annoyed me or threw me out of the story to give it a higher rating.

First (and totally on me), I didn’t realize until I was about a third of the way through and struggling not to be totally confused that the book I thought was book one in this series was actually a short story written in the same world. Reading this before reading that first book left me at a huge disadvantage. While you can technically read this as a stand alone, there are so many references to things that happened in book one (more so than you’d expect since a large portion of this happens alongside the timeline for book one) that it left me lost and not really understanding some of who the different characters were and how they knew or were related to each other.

This had lots of elements that made it funny, but for me, it was so over the top and too much that it became ridiculous instead of quirky. Even when the situations got more serious, the characters were never able to pull off that level of necessary somberness. It became irritating after a while.

Besides feeling lost because I hadn’t read book one, I ended up seriously confused in several places because I just didn’t understand what was going on. It took nearly a full chapter to really understand a 2 line conversation between Xander and Trip about secretly dating, one that gave absolutely no real context, detail or background. I finally understood much later that THEY were supposed to suddenly be secretly dating each other, but I still never fully understood what the hell was going on or why because it just never made a whole lot of sense. Why the hell would Xander do that? There was no real genuine reason expressed other than Trip thought it was a good idea. The whole thing was really kind of stupid, but again, I felt that way because I didn’t get it. I had something similar happen at least 3 different times because there was just not enough information provided or what felt like essential portions of conversations were skipped entirely. Others weren’t to that extreme, but were enough to drag me out of the story over and over.

On a couple of different occasions, a character would speak to or react to another character’s thoughts, thoughts that had not been expressed in any fashion other than the understood fact that it was a thought, as though they’d had a conversation about it. One that annoyed the crap out of me was when Julian is thinking about the whole living situation with Xander as though they’d had this conversation about him moving in, a good paragraph or two before the subject of him moving in came up in an actual, spoken conversation. Throughout this whole book, I was forced to go back and reread sections over and over to try and figure out what I’d missed only to realize that I hadn’t missed anything. It kind of felt at times as though, in the editing process, a paragraph or two accidentally got deleted, but never added back. It felt like chunks were missing or moved around slightly out of order.

It may in part be because of these issues, but I never fully believed any of the characters. Definitely not emotionally. At one point Julian overhears Xander say something about him that, taken out of the context it was said in, as he heard it, should have been emotionally devastating to him, but it ended up being nothing more than a little twinge on his self confidence. The reaction, or lack thereof, to that situation nearly made me stop reading at that point because it was so weird and contradictory to who the Julian character was supposed to be.

Overall, this was a pretty chaotic and confusing read.

This Child of Mine: Sinéad Moriarty

Author: Sinéad Moriarty
Book Name: This Child of Mine
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature, Family
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: Single mom Anna and her eighteen-year-old daughter Sophie have always got along like two peas in a pod. Anna would do anything for Sophie but what if, years ago, she went too far to protect her?

Teenager Mandy has always worried about her fragile mom, artist Laura. Mandy knows she has never come to terms with the loss of her first child, but her mom won’t speak about it. Is she hiding something, and how much does Mandy want to find out?

When Sophie makes a chance discovery about her mother’s past, her whole life is turned upside-down. And, as she begins a search for the truth, her world collides with Laura’s and Mandy’s. What is the secret that connects their lives? And is the mother-daughter bond strong enough to withstand the devastating truth?

I was a little shocked after reading the last Sinéad Moriarty book to find that I genuinely didn’t like this one. Normally, if I like a book from an author, I will find I like others. Maybe to differing degrees, but still within a similar range. Not so in this case.

The main thing for me was that I could not, in any way like ANY of these characters. Anna was this perfect, infallible person but she never really truly admits to any wrong doing. Laura is a joke, horribly messed up, knows she is horribly messed up, but again it feels like she never takes takes any actual responsibility, not in any real way. Sophie’s reactions just all feel extreme and off for what her history has been. Yes, I could see justification and motivations and all of that. I understood it, but none of it came off as truly believable.

The other thing, and one that nearly killed this book for me, was the constant confusion of which character’s perspective I was reading. Each chapter started with one of the three main characters, as a heading, indicating that chapter was dedicated to that person’s perspective. Then, you are suddenly reading from a different character’s perspective, without warning or obvious shift, sometimes even getting little glimpses from the secondary characters like Mandy or Holly. It was seriously confusing at times. Normally I enjoy multi-perspective books, but when you are expecting one and are suddenly thrust into another it is not only confusing, but it is distracting and takes away from the story.

Between the confusion and the serious lack of likability of any of the characters, I just did not like this one.

From Ashes: Heathen’s Ink, Book 3

From AshesAuthor: K.M. Neuhold
Book Name: From Ashes
Series: Heathen’s Ink
Order: #3
Genre: LGBT/Romance
Rating:  Okay

2+stars

 

 

 

Blurb: “When the broken man with scarred skin walked into Heathens, asked for a job, and showed me a sketch of a phoenix, it felt like fate.”~ Adam

It started with an anonymous post by someone who didn’t want to live anymore. I read it over and over again, unable to get it out of my mind. What if my brother Johnny had posted something like this before he’d taken his own life? Would someone have been able to save him?

I’ve been living a lie for 16 long years and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep it up. And when a beautiful, broken man walks into my tattoo shop asking for a second chance at life, I know I’ll never be able to turn him away.

“When I was so far down I couldn’t even see the light, a stranger reached in to save me”~ Nox
I didn’t have anything to live for, until a kind stranger pulled me back from the brink. With physical and emotional scars I have nowhere to turn now but to that same stranger who saved my life without realizing it. But as my feelings for Adam grow, will I ever be anything other than a surrogate for the brother he couldn’t save? Am I even worthy of his love?

 

For the most part, I’ve liked the other books in this series, but for some reason I just couldn’t get into this one. It has been a while so I don’t remember if the other books had editing issues, but there were quite a few throughout this whole book. They were bad enough they kept yanking me from the story. I don’t like to harp on that because no one is perfect, but some of the mistakes in here are the kind that should have easily been caught even with a rough run through kind of edit. Spelling, word tenses, incomplete thoughts, you name it, I found it.

Beyond the editing, I struggled to find these characters believable on their own. It was even harder for me to believe them together.  I just didn’t really like them that much and was never able to find an emotional attachment to either of them.

Not being a fan of this one, I don’t think I’m going to be too interested in the next one in this series when it comes out.

Not Broken: True Destiny, Book 5

Not BrokenAuthor: Dana Marie Bell
Book Name: Not Broken
Series: True Destiny
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars


Blurb:  Slade Saeter endured centuries of torture, longing for the day he could claim Magnus Tate and Sylvia Grimm as mates. Now freedom is his, but nightmares still plague this son of Loki, and he fears his lovers will believe him too fragile to bond.

Magnus never thought he could have the woman of his dreams, not when she was broken by his own father, her heart shattered by Thor’s infidelities and their ultimate divorce. But Slade’s determination gives him a glimmer of hope.

Never one to let anything keep her down for long, Sylvia has long since healed from her ex-husband’s betrayals. But accepting her own stepson as a bonded mate? While it’s something she can wrap her body around, her heart is another story.

As three war-weary, damaged hearts slowly find balance among them, they form bonds of surprising strength. But with danger descending upon them with the fury of a Valkyrie, time is the one thing they may not have.

Review:  Normally I enjoy Dana Marie Bell’s writing, if for no other reason than it is generally pretty humorous.  This one just didn’t do it for me for some reason.

After having read the whole thing and got to the end, I was still trying to figure out what was supposed to have happened because nothing really did.  Sure, there are lots of sexy times going on in this as is typical of this series, but the story outside of that just really isn’t there.  That and even the sexy times weren’t all that awesome.  They were just kind of there.

Even the characters weren’t that great here.  Both Slade and Syliva were these weepy, pitiful people, at least when they weren’t constantly giggling.  Magnus was decent, but even he didn’t come close to the level of interesting that many other characters from previous books held.

It kind of feels like the author completely gave up on the larger storyline that runs through this series to focus on the steam, but failed to even reach the simmer stage.

Save

A Perfect Evil: Maggie O’Dell, Book 1

A Perfect EvilAuthor: Alex Kava
Book Name: A Perfect Evil
Series: Maggie O’Dell
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense/Romance
Rating:  Okay
2+stars



Blurb:  The brutal murders of three young boys paralyze the citizens of Platte City, Nebraska. What’s worse is the grim realization that the man recently executed for the crimes was a copycat. When Sheriff Nick Morrelli is called to the scene of another grisly murder, it becomes clear that the real predator is still at large, waiting to kill again.

Morrelli understands the urgency of the case terrorizing his community, but it’s the experienced eye of FBI criminal profiler Maggie O’Dell that pinpoints the true nature of the evil behind the killings–a revelation made all the more horrific when Morrelli’s own nephew goes missing.

Maggie understands something else: the killer is enjoying himself, relishing his ability to stay one step ahead of her, making this case more personal by the hour. Because out there, watching, is a killer with a heart of pure and perfect evil.

Review:  It is reasonable to assume that there have been huge changes with regards to investigating and solving crimes between when this book was originally published and now, but basic common sense and police procedure surely wasn’t that inept nearly 10 years ago.  If it was, then I cannot imagine that a single crime was ever solved or that every single person behind bars is innocent.

Every single thing that came up in this with regards to the investigation, how the crime scenes or evidence collection were handled, even just general common sense blew my mind at how utterly unprofessional it all seemed.  Maggie is supposedly a profiler, but she never actually gives the police a profile.  Apparently she has one, because she keeps telling Morrelli how different people don’t fit it, but she never actually presents one.  Morrelli is a joke in every sense of the word.  And in the end, after watching every single thing happen in this book like it is a three stooges act, the killer still isn’t caught and they have lots of circumstantial evidence against lots of other people (who will be getting charged on that thread of evidence) and the killer walks free.

The romantic aspect in this feels just as inappropriate and unprofessional as the job aspect.  Sorry, but a guy that can’t keep it in his pants and is thinking about getting it on, even when his own nephew is kidnapped is crazy.  Maggie, the FBI profiler, getting distracted by the typical jerk jock?  Makes her look like a stupid ditz, not someone who is smart enough to have a high level degree and job like that.

I don’t know that there is a single thing about this book that worked for me, there was so much that was just wrong.  Even if I were to consider some of my issues being irrelevant because of a dated version of crime fighting, this still wasn’t that great.

 

With Everything I Am: The Three, Book 2

With Everything I AmAuthor: Kristen Ashley
Book Name: With Everything I Am
Series: The Three Series
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars


Blurb:  One night, Callum is driven into the woods by instinct, an instinct to protect. In the form of wolf, he meets a young human child who he is instantly drawn to in a fierce way he doesn’t quite understand.

Sonia Arlington has lived a lonely life. She has certain abilities that make her strange and she has a rare disease that, if untreated, could kill her. Her father makes her vow that she will never let others discover her abilities. This forces Sonia to stay distant, always guarding against exposure.

Intelligence leaks that Sonia is Callum’s human mate. He is now King of the Werewolves and has war on his hands. He’s forced to claim his mate and integrate Sonia into a world that is strange and frightening.

As Sonia attempts to adjust, Callum attempts to cope with the knowledge that his mate is mortal. He will have her beauty and gentleness only the length of a mortal life making their union unbearably bitter even as Sonia makes it unbelievably sweet.

Review:  More often than not, I really enjoy Kristen Ashley, but when I don’t, there are very specific reasons and this book is a classic example of the things I really don’t like about her writing.  If anything, this one is probably the worst offender.

What is classic KA is the alpha male.  In this case, that is literally as Callum is a werewolf.  But there is a gigantic difference between a sexy, bossy alpha male and what essentially amounts to ugly abuse.  Sometimes that line can be thin, but there is a definite line.  KA likes to skirt that line and when she gets too close to it, I don’t usually like those male characters.  For Callum, she went flying over that line with a jet pack.

This book basically states that if you are a female, feel a little different or lonely, that it is okay if the one person that makes you feel less alone treats you like trash and can run roughshod over your feelings, wants and desires.  That it is okay to be treated as an object and set aside when you are not currently in need.  That it is okay to push you into things that you don’t want, but since they make you feel not alone, that it is a privilege to have to put up with the crap to get the not alone.  That is force and coercion and that is not sexy.  It is not romantic.  It is not sweet.  It is ugly.

There is also a very, very thin line when it comes to violent sexual situations.  There can be, if it is handled well and carefully, consensual sexual violence, but is should be dealt with carefully, otherwise it is just violence.  What happens in this book really isn’t dealt with carefully in any way.  It edges in places to being rape, even if Sonia eventually gives in.

It doesn’t matter that there are parts of the romance in this book that are incredibly sweet.  It is like telling the abuser that it is okay that he beat the crap out of his wife because he apologized and gave her flowers afterwards.  Making the arrogant and controlling attitude seem to be a cultural thing in the werewolf community and that it is just a misunderstanding between the different cultures is just a way make something ugly look not so ugly.  You stick flowers in a turd, it is still gong to be a stinking turd.

Unlike so many other KA books, I had a visceral dislike of Callum and found him a truly ugly character, no matter what good parts were tacked onto what is essentially a pretty abuser.  So no, I really did not like this book at all.

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Mirror Sight: Green Rider, Book 5

Mirror SightAuthor: Kristen Britain
Book Name: Mirror Sight
Series: Green Rider
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars


Blurb:  Karigan G’ladheon is a Green Rider—a seasoned member of the elite messenger corps of King Zachary of Sacoridia. King Zachary sends Karigan and a contingent of Sacoridians beyond the edges of his nation, into the mysterious Blackveil Forest, which has been tainted with dark magic by a twisted immortal spirit named Mornhavon the Black.

At the end of Blackveil, in a magical confrontation against Mornhavon, Karigan is jolted out of Blackveil Forest and wakes in darkness. She’s lying on smooth, cold stone, but as she reaches out, she realizes that the stone is not just beneath her, but above and around her as well. She’s landed in a sealed stone sarcophagus, some unknown tomb, and the air is becoming thin.

Is this to be her end? If she escapes, where will she find herself? Is she still in the world she remembers, or has the magical explosion transported her somewhere completely different? To find out, she must first win free of her prison— before it becomes her grave. And should she succeed, will she be walking straight into a trap created by Mornhavon himself?

Review:  To say that this was a disappointment would be a gross understatement.  I’d say that up until this book, the series has been relatively well crafted and interesting with regards to character and world building.  With this book, it seems as if all that work got hit with a giant eraser and tossed in the trash.  It honestly felt like I’d picked up a book by another author entirely with the subject in a completely different genre.  This book fit so poorly into the rest of the series that it just never should have been written.

There had been points in previous books where the main character, Karigan, had jumped around in time and that had been decently done, though time travel is not even remotely something I enjoy reading.  This entire book was out of time with the rest of the series, instead of just being a minor point along a larger thread, which is not what this series had originally been based on.

Not only is the entire book out of the timeline of the series, but the only character you actually get to see really is Karigan.  The rest are entirely new.  As I said, it was like reading a completely different series.  What made it worse is that even the Karigan we have come to know through this series isn’t the one we saw in this book.  The self assured, strong woman from previous books becomes this utterly weak and powerless creature that has to rely on everyone around her and she trusts in places that her previous character never would have.  It also strikes me as untrue to her character that in 4 books, she never got really romantically involved outside of her feelings for Zachary, definitely not enough to form a physical relationship with someone, but in book 5 she suddenly becomes a twitty little lust muffin.  So much so that she is oblivious to what is going on around her.

Tack on to all of that ridiculousness the fact that, in the end, the entire story was pretty useless to the rest of the series because, having gone forward and then back, that future never actually happens.  Every single bit of this story, as painfully slow and uninteresting as it already was (did not have anything even remotely exciting happen until about 60% and then it got dull again until almost the end) has zero actual impact on this series outside of a very few minor details that could help the realm in the upcoming battle, if that even happens at all now.  It would have been much better handled as a glimpse of precognition and then move on to more important things rather than an entire book dedicated to something that essentially gets erased.  It is a waste of a read.

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Whirlwind: Kate Page, Book 1

WhirlwindAuthor: Rick Mofina
Book Name: Whirlwind
Series: Kate Page
Order: #1
Genre: Suspense
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars



Blurb:  An anguished mother loses her baby in a deadly storm…

A kind stranger helps Jenna Cooper protect her baby boy when a killer tornado rips through a Dallas flea market. But in the aftermath, Jenna can’t find her son or the woman who’d been holding him.

A journalist under pressure breaks the story…

Upon discovering the tragedy, reporter and single mom Kate Page, battling for her career and trying to hold her life together, vows to determine what happened to tiny Caleb Cooper.

A vortex of life-and-death forces

As the FBI launches an investigation amid the devastation, Kate uncovers troubling clues to the trail of the woman last seen with the baby–clues that reveal a plot more sinister than anybody had imagined. Against mounting odds, Kate risks everything in the race to find the truth…before it’s too late.

Review:  There wasn’t much at all that I liked about this book.

The confluence of events in this hits such impossible levels, and so early on, that there is no way to get this to rate much above a good.  Starting at only good, you don’t have a lot of room to move after that because it isn’t going to get better.

There really is no character development going on here, and considering there are loads of people that get point of view mentions, that is kind of sad.  All we get out of any of these people is a basic purpose in the story (reporter, mother, bad guy/girl, FBI, boss) and maybe one or two small personality traits and that’s it.  You do not get to know a single character on anything other than a superficial level.

While the plot is somewhat interesting and tries to tug on emotions with the devastation of the storms and the kidnapping, there just isn’t much intensity or depth.  The reader knows exactly what is going on from the get go and that takes the deeper, gripping kind of reaction right out of the story.  This doesn’t garner even a blip on the ol’ heart rate.  If you are expecting any kind of actual crime type drama or mystery, this is so not it.

The probability of even the potential for anything at all like this happening (with the number of tornadoes, the way they hit, who is impacted, the number of times and places) is so far in the ridiculous zone that if this were a movie, it would be on the same level as a truly bad horror flick.  It is utterly unrealistic on so very many levels.

 

The Pact: Karina Halle

The PactAuthor: Karina Halle
Book Name: The Pact
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars



Blurb:  It all started with a pinky swear…

Linden McGregor is tall, rugged, and gunslinger handsome; a helicopter pilot with a Scottish brogue and charm to spare. He’s also one of Stephanie Robson’s best friends and has fit into that box for as long as she’s known him.

But some relationships can’t be boxed, can’t be classified, can’t be tamed.

Back in their mid-twenties and tired of the competitive hit-or-miss dating scene of San Francisco, Steph and Linden made a pact to marry each other if neither one of them are in a serious relationship by the time they hit thirty.

It sounds like fun and games but as the years to thirty tick past and lovers come and go out of their lives, the pact becomes larger than life.
Sex is inevitable. Friendships are tested. Hearts are on the line.

The pact is about to change everything.

Review:  It is pretty difficult to enjoy or like a book when you don’t like the characters.  Steph was okay, but kind of clueless and ditsy.  James has a horrible, vindictive, jealous, ugly personality and Linden is so incredibly spineless that there just wasn’t much to like about him because that is impossible to overlook.

I’m not much of a fan of books that are all about lack of communication being the big issue in relationships, but this is all that the book is about for a huge portion.  The first half of the book was drawn out and mostly boring, all because Linden doesn’t have the guts to speak up about his attraction to Steph.  Because of that, they pretty much waste 5 years dating people they don’t like.  When they finally do get together and things work out, he lets ugly vindictive boy shape his choices?  What?  Are we twelve?  You are going to choose the best friend, who has been pretty nasty to you for a while over the love of your life?  This so doesn’t work for me.

I was doing okay with the first half spinelessness, but the big break up and get back together at the end killed it for me.  Maybe I’m just a really not forgiving person, but there would be no way I’d ever take the crap that gets tossed around in this and then be all hearts and flowers forgiving just because someone grovels and says sorry, and I mean that from all character perspectives.  I don’t buy it in any way, shape or form.  Sometimes things are just broken too badly to be fixed.

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Escaping Reality: Secret Life of Amy Benson, Book 1

Escaping RealityAuthor: Lisa Renee Jones
Book Name: Escaping Reality
Series: Secret Life of Amy Benson
Order: #1
Genre: Mystery/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars



Blurb:  His touch spirals through me, warm and sweet, wicked and hot. I shouldn’t trust him. I shouldn’t tell him my secrets. But how do I not when he is the reason I breathe? He is what I need.

At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loved to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten—even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets her guard down, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run.

On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give?

Review:  There are so many things that I didn’t like about this.  If I had a bullet list of all the things that end up as peeves and drive me crazy in stories, it could have been used as the overall outline for this book.

It is a romance, so we have to have that instantaneous, boiling hot attraction that manages to melt all brain cells so that the female character cannot possibly think.  Not a fan of that ploy in just about any circumstance, but it is infinitely worse here because our main female character, Amy, is supposedly on the run and is in fear for her life.  So, of course it is totally logical to trust someone you just met on plane after just having been forced to leave all that you know behind because you were once again not safe.  This character’s lack of self preservation and skepticism makes her one of those that is truly too stupid to live characters.

Because the whole insta-lust romance part of this book was completely unbelievable for me, I wasn’t much interested in that part of the story.  Considering that is a huge part, I ended up doing a bunch of skimming, even through the steamy parts because when you have that kind of a foundation for your characters’ relationship, even the steamy isn’t so steamy and takes on the same dull hue as the relationship itself and these were definitely on the boring side.

Liam is just horrible.  I’m sure the intent was that he is this sexy, bossy alpha kind of guy.  To me, he came across as a self absorbed, controlling bully who really is borderline abusive.  Not sexy in any way.

While I was more interested in the suspense parts of the story, even those were seriously annoying and just re-emphasized how unintelligent Amy actually is. The reader also only ever really gets hints at her past and why all the BS is going on in the first place.  Instead of being intriguing and interesting, it just doesn’t make any sense.  Was her family murdered?  Is her name really Amy?  Why the hell does it seem as though she doesn’t remember a bunch of stuff one minute, and the next she does?  WTF is with this supposed “handler”?  For crying out loud, “handler”?  What, is she really some deep cover CIA operative?  What is all that about?  Not one thing made any sense whatsoever.

That leads me to the last and what pissed me off the most is that this has no finish.  Not one thing gets resolved in this, leaving the reader with one giant honking cliff hanger.  What makes that so much worse is that by the time I finished, I was still left wondering what actually happened in the book outside of Amy being seriously dumb, because nothing happened.  It was just this huge teaser of disjointed and random information that led to nothing by the end of the book.  Really glad this was a library book for me.

Wait for Me: Montgomery Brothers, Book 1

Wait for MeAuthor: Samantha Chase
Book Name: Wait for Me
Series: Montgomery Brothers
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  DNF
2+stars

 

Blurb:  Executive assistant Emma Taylor is desperate for a little time away; away from her job, her life and from thoughts of her boss’s son who doesn’t seem to know she even exists. Tired of waiting for the time to be right, she takes advantage of her boss’s generous offer for a little weekend getaway to thank her for helping out with a difficult business deal.

Former NFL superstar Lucas Montgomery is still suffering from a career-ending injury. His self-imposed exile from life is exactly what he wants; a sanctuary where there’s no chance for disappointment or distractions and that’s exactly the way he likes it. While his family has been patiently waiting for Lucas to come around and embrace life once again, they don’t realize that it wasn’t just his career that was lost, but his sense of identity.

Lucas thought everything was fine until sweet, sexy and completely off-limits Emma Taylor comes crashing into his carefully constructed world one snowy weekend and turns his entire life upside down.

Review:  I couldn’t finish this.  I think I’ve just had it with pushing through lack luster stories with uninteresting characters, but this just was annoying.

Emma is a melodramatic shrew with such a contradictory personality that the term bipolar could easily apply, so could multiple personalities.  Lucas is a self absorbed, self pitying ass who has not one thing to recommend about him.  Outside of some not so great characters, the story and set up was so contrived that I thought I was going to strain a muscle from all the eye rolling going on.

I was probably close to half way through this when I decided to just stop.  If I was really that not into it, why torture myself by forcing myself to finish?  It is something I do way too often and there are just too many books that I do want to try and read to waste time on something that just isn’t doing it for me, so down it went.

 

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.

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.