Retro Review: Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard

Posted May 24, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Retro Review: Raintree: Inferno by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly
Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard
Series: Raintree #1
Also in this series: Raintree: Sanctuary
Published by Silhouette
Publication Date: May 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 288
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three-half-stars

Two hundred years after the Raintree clan defeated and abandoned them on a small Caribbean Island, the Ansara wizards are rising again to take on their bitterest foes. Despite their extraordinary powers and supernatural origin, the Raintree have largely blended into the modern world. They are bankers, cops, husbands, wives and lovers in the society of humankind.

But now, from Nevada to North Carolina, the rejoined battle will measure the endurance of their people. It will test their loyalties and relationships. And it will force upon them all new lives they could barely have imagined before.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

I think about this series every now and again. I may have to go back and re-read it at some point. Just to see if my opinion of it still stands. 

This review was originally published May 14, 2007

I’ve been hearing a lot about this book the last few weeks, most of it not so good. Jane at Dear Author and Rosie both reviewed it and neither had very good things to say about it. I’ve been a LH fangirl for years now, but her last few releases, with the exception of her Blair Mallory books have left a lot to be desired, so I wasn’t too keen on reading this before I read the bad reviews. After? Yeah, so wasn’t going to touch it.

But then last week I read Tara Marie’s review and changed my mind. You see, there are some things I find I can’t stomach in a novel, and brain rape is one of them. From what Rosie and Jane said, I was under the impression there was quite a bit of that in this novel. But Tara Marie shed a bit more light on the subject and I decided to see for myself how bad it truly was.

Side Note: Spoilers below. I don’t think I can say what I truly felt about this book without them. :End Side Note

Lorna Clay has been spending a good amount of time in Dante Raintree’s casino. Normally that wouldn’t be cause for concern – quite the opposite in fact – but she never loses. Never. She’s not winning massive amounts of money at one time, but she’s walking away with enough to make Dante and his main casino dude a bit skeptical. They can’t seem to spot how she’s cheating via video, but they’re sure she is. So they drag her upstairs to “question” her and both she and Dante seem to have a rather…electric connection to one another.

Now, Dante is a Raintree, which is a psychic type of people that have been around for hundreds of years. They have a feud going on with the Ansara clan that’s lasted for centuries, and as soon as Dante figures out that Lorna has psychic abilities, he starts to wonder if she’s Ansara.

To quote Lorna about the Raintree/Ansara situation:

“You’re the weirdo equivalent of the Hatfields and the McCoys?”

She’s not. Lorna doesn’t even realize she has powers. She just thinks she’s really lucky. While in Dante’s office, a fire breaks loose in the main part of the casino, 19 floors below them. As one of Dante’s powers is the ability to control fire, he immediately heads down to help fight it, dragging Lorna along with him.

Now, this is where Jane and Rosie seemed to start having major issues with the book. I’m just going to tell you what happened. This is still relatively early in the book (the 2nd or 3rd chapter, I think) so you probably won’t be hurting yourselves if you read this part, but beware, major spoilers below:

Dante goes down to the main part of the casino to fight the fire and he can’t. He isn’t sure why – if it’s because his powers have been depleted trying to help the guests get out, or if it’s the fire itself – but he can’t get it under control. At this point, he and Lorna are pretty much surrounded by the fire. There’s no way for them to get out alive. He’s placed a protective “bubble” around them, but it’s starting to crack and he knows they don’t have much time left. Plus, the hotel that’s attached to the casino is at full capacity and he’s afraid of how many lives will be lost if the fire spreads that far.

He knows if he had another Raintree there to connect minds with he’d be able to pool their power and contain the inferno, but there’s no one but him and Lorna. That’s when he realizes – duh – she has powers and he could use them to boost his own. That’s when he “brain rapes” her by pushing himself into her mind and combining her powers with his.

I honestly don’t see what the big deal is. When weighing a situation like that, your death along with possibly hundreds of others, or forcing yourself into the mind of another for the greater good, well…I just can’t say I blame the guy. No, it wasn’t pleasant for Lorna and yes it was a gross invasion of her privacy, but he didn’t do it to find out if she was Ansara, or to purposely cause her pain. He did it to save her life. And his. And possibly hundreds of others. No big deal.

What comes next is a bit harder to swallow. He uses a mind “compulsion” to keep her from running once the fire is under control and they’re out of the building. Basically, if he tells her “Don’t move” she’s literally stuck in one spot. Because he’s not convinced of her innocence – in either the gambling or the fire – he binds her to him and forces her to remain against her will. At one point he even orders her to silence.

I had a hard time with this. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fairly independent woman and I would hate to have all control of myself taken away. Or perhaps that has nothing to do with being independent or a woman, but simply a human being. In any case, the next chapter or so was hard for me to get through. The way Dante pretty much forced her home with him and then checked her out to see if she was Ansara left a bad taste in my mouth.

But I persisted and you know…I ended up really liking the book. Really liking it. I can’t say it’s LH’s best work, but it more closely resembled the classic LH I fell in love with than anything else she’s produced in recent years.

Lorna was a fabulous heroine. She suffered numerous shocks in a short period of time, but rather than bowing under them, she kept her chin up and her sense of humor. She was sassy and sarcastic, and though I thought she forgave Dante a little too soon for his mind control of her, her reasons for doing so made a lot of sense.

As for Dante, he was a typical Howard Alpha and I thought he was great for what he was. For those of you who enjoyed some of her earlier category type books and works like Dream Man, you should enjoy him.

The ending was a major cliffhanger, but the relationship aspect of the story was all wrapped up. Since this is the first of a trilogy, I wasn’t too upset with the ending. I am annoyed that I have to wait for the next 2 installments, but otherwise? I highly enjoyed it. Well, once I got over being pissed at Dante, that is.

I’m giving this a 3.5 out of 5.

I’m not sure how I feel about the whole 3 author trilogy, though. Having never read the other 2 authors, I can’t say for sure how excited I am to read them. On the other hand, I am anxious to see what happens next, so I’m sure I’ll purchase them.

The series is as follows:

Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard
Raintree: Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones (to be released June 1, 2007)
Raintree: Sanctuary by Beverly Barton (to be released July 1, 2007)

This book is available from Silhouette Nocturne. You can purchase it here.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

Posted May 24, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina BowenReviewer: Tracy
Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #3
Also in this series: Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
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four-stars

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Lauren Williams works for a multi-million dollar technology company and loves it.  Her boss also owns the Brooklyn Bruisers, an NHL hockey team.  Lauren grew up with hockey and used to love it.  She loved it up until the Bruiser that she was planning on marrying suddenly up and left her for his ex-wife with very little explanation.  Lauren’s not willing to put herself out there again when Mike Beacon, the man who broke her heart, starts to show signs that he’s interested in her once again.  She’s moving ahead with her life and her plans for single motherhood and Mike has no place in her plans. Unfortunately for Lauren’s plans, Mike is determined to get back the woman he never stopped loving no matter what he has to do.

I have to tell you that when I read about why Lauren and Mike broke up in the first place I didn’t want to have Lauren and Mike get back together.  Seriously, I was that mad at him for being an insensitive ass.  True, his motivations were honorable but the way he handled it was horrible and I wasn’t sure I could forgive him.

By the middle of the book I still wasn’t sure how he was going to win Lauren back but by that point I was on his side.  He was a good guy who had made a gigantic mistake.  I couldn’t condone how he handled things with his ex-wife, and of course there were plenty of ways he could have helped his ex and stayed with Lauren (but then we wouldn’t have a book, would we?) but that’s not what happened.  Now that time has passed since his ex-wife died he knew that he couldn’t live any longer without Lauren by his side but he not only had Lauren to contend with but also his extremely sassy 13-year-old daughter, Elsa.

Elsa was a piece of work and I truly wanted to climb into the book and give her a good talking to but I could understand why her emotions were all over the place. Her mother had died, her dad is gone a lot because of his hockey schedule, she had to move away from her friends and now he’s gonna date a woman that everyone tells her stole her father away from her mother?  Yeah, I’d be an emotional wreck too.  Despite her sassiness, however, I liked the kid.  She had her moments of goodness and I thought she was a good addition to the story.

The romance in this book was extremely emotional but oh, so good.  Lauren and Mike were so good together but it was definitely hard for me to see how they’d work things out and let the hurt of the past go.  I was happy that they were able to move on and that Lauren was able to trust Mike again.  The story was fabulous and of course I loved the hockey talk as well.  😊

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted May 23, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan HigginsReviewer: Tina
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 480
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three-half-stars

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.

Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

First of all, Kristan’s books always seem to have the best covers!! I admit that I am a total cover snob, and that is one of the first things that make me want to pick up a book – even before I see if it is one of my favorite authors or not! And, I also can count on a well-written story filled with endearing characters whenever I pick up one of her books, and On Second Thought is no exception.

This book not only tugged at my heart, it also made me smile once in awhile too. I don’t really see why this book is listed as a romance though, because to me it is more centered around the character’s lives and about their struggle to get past the things that life has dealt to them. I felt like the romance part was actually more secondary in this book.

Overall, I thought this was another good book from Kristan HIggins. Like I said, I have been a fan for a long time and will continue as such. For anyone who is not familiar with her books, you really need to go check her out, as her books are definitely worth it!

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson

Posted May 23, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Hot Shot by Kelly JamiesonReviewer: Tracy
Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson
Series: Last Shot #2
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

Marco Solis knows that if he gets too close to people they disappear. His parents were deported back to Mexico when he was fourteen, his fiancée married someone else while he was in the military, and now his business partner’s spending more time with his girl than with Marco. For better or worse, that’s how Marco meets Carrie Garner. She’s legitimately model-hot. She’s also a nut—a wild, artsy, unapproachable nut. So why is Marco so interested in cracking her shell?

Although Carrie Garner is a natural in front of the camera, her dream is to make it as a photographer. Soon she’ll be heading to Spain for design school, and she’ll miss her best friend, Hayden, like crazy. She’ll even miss Hayden’s boyfriend, Beck—but she won’t miss Beck’s partner, Marco. Bossy, brooding, and annoyingly sexy, Marco really pushes her buttons, though he obviously wouldn’t mind pushing her buttons in an up-against-the-wall, hard-and-fast kind of way. The craziest part is, if Carrie lets him do that, well . . . she may never want to leave.

Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Marco owns a tequila bar with his friends Cade and Beck.  They were all Navy SEALS and now they work together once again.  Marco met Carrie when she came in for a tequila tasting with Hayden, who is now Beck’s fiancé.  He was attracted to Carrie from the first minute but Carrie shut his flirting down pretty much instantaneously.  He just figured that she thought he wasn’t good enough for her.

Carrie’s always been attracted to Marco but she doesn’t like to admit it to herself.  When Marco first flirted with her she felt like he just thought she was a dumb bimbo and blew him off.  As she gets to know him, now that they’re planning Beck and Hayden’s engagement party together, she sees that she was wrong about him.  Sparks fly when they’re together but Carrie’s leaving to go to school in Spain for 9 months so she’s not about to get involved with anyone.

Marco and Carrie decide to start a fling and will end it when she leaves for Spain.  Little did they know that they’d fall in love.  Of course neither are confident enough to tell the other so this leaves each of them heart-broken.

This was a cute, light read from Jamieson.  Despite the feelings that both Marco and Carrie carried with them about themselves I thought that the author did a great job of not dragging the story down with their issues.  They were talked about and definitely were a major focus of the book but when I read the last page I wasn’t depressed with a sad knot in my chest.  She dealt with both the hero and heroine’s  personal issues in a way that made it emotional but not over-bearing.

Marco was a fantastic character.  I really liked him so much as my heart went out to all that he’d been through in his life when he was an adolescent.  He’d moved on and made something of himself – something he could be proud of and it showed in his whole being.  I loved that he saw Carrie as others didn’t.  He saw in her the bright shining light she was and then made it even brighter with his love.

Carrie had some serious self-esteem issues even though she was a model.  She felt like the tall gangly kid she’d always been while growing up and didn’t see herself as gorgeous.  It wasn’t a vanity thing – wanting people to tell her she’s gorgeous.  It was the opposite, in fact and it was just how she felt. She also felt that since her entire family was into business and had great careers that she hadn’t done anything productive in her life – which wasn’t true at all.  I liked her character a lot as she worked on her self-esteem and the feelings of not being good enough for her family.

Overall I found Hot Shot to be a thoroughly enjoyable book and I’m looking forward to reading what happens with Marco’s friend Cade in the next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Always by Sarah Jio

Posted May 22, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Always by Sarah JioReviewer: Tina
Always by Sarah Jio
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 288
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart's capacity to remember.
While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.
When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.
Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she's willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Wow! What a beautiful story! I read this book awhile ago and totally forgot to write a review, but the story is still fresh in my mind. Always by Sarah Jio is such an unforgettable story that will definitely touch the reader’s heart. I found myself glued to the couch, wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Always is presented in past and present fashion that I have always liked. I feel this adds depth to the story by bringing the past to the front while still continuing on with the present. I really enjoyed the story line, and the characters were well-written and believable. My only complaint is that I wish the book would’ve been longer!

Sarah Jio fans know that her books stick in your head for a long time after you have devoured them. They embrace the reader and sweep you into the story every time! Always is definitely another favorite to add to my collection, and I highly recommend it to my bookish friends.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an advanced copy of Always in return for my honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars

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