Genre: Military

Guest Review: Until Death by Cynthia Eden

Posted July 5, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Until Death by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
Until Death by Cynthia Eden

Publication Date: August 25th 2015
Genres: Romance, Suspense, Military, Action & Adventure, Contemporary
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three-half-stars

When Ivy DuLane witnesses a murder during the madness of Mardi Gras, she enters a deadly cat and mouse game with the killer. The city has gone wild with the annual celebration, and Ivy has to rely on sexy homicide detective—and her ex-lover—Bennett Morgan for help.

But with every moment that passes, the killer grows bolder, and the body count starts to rise.  It soon becomes very hard to tell the innocent from the guilty…especially since Bennett is keeping dark secrets of his own.

Ivy DuLane is a private investigator in Mobile, Alabama who sees a woman being stabbed during the city’s Mardi Gras parade. As she gets involved with the case, she also comes in contact with Detective Bennett Morgan, her past love who has returned to town after many years. When it appears that the murder is not a solitary occurrence and that it is related to Ivy somehow, the two have to work together to figure out what is going on as well as come to terms with their past.

I enjoy Eden’s writing, but most of her heroes are definitely the alpha-iest of all the alphas. Bennett is certainly bossy and gruff, though not quite as obnoxious as some of her other heroes, which I appreciated. He judges Ivy pretty harshly as a spoiled princess who doesn’t understand anything about how hard life can really be. Of course, a lot has happened in Ivy’s life since she and Bennett had dreamed of a life together, and she is much tougher and savvier than he realizes. I enjoyed seeing her prove him wrong. Those of you who like second chance love stories, this will fit the bill. Poor Ivy and Bennett were drive apart by others and by their own insecurities, and it’s a little painful to read about. There is a lot of hurt and mistrust to work through, but their mutual attraction continues to draw them both and eventually open a path to reconciliation. Don’t think there is going to be a ton of heartfelt conversation, though. Ivy and Bennett talked enough to satisfy me, but just barely. 

The mystery plot was overly complicated, I thought, but it did keep me guessing and interested until the end. Ivy has a complex and painful family history that comes into play here. Her brother has a particularly heartbreaking role in this book, and he doesn’t really get his own happy ending. While it’s not filled with gore, it is kind of dark and sad at times.

This is a solid if not exceptional romantic suspense with some good sexual chemistry and a plot that will keep you guessing.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Daring Her SEAL by Anne Marsh

Posted May 4, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Daring Her SEAL by Anne MarshReviewer: Judith
Daring Her SEAL by Anne Marsh
Series: Uniformly Hot #3
Also in this series: Teasing Her SEAL, Pleasing Her SEAL
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: May 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Military
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four-half-stars

Subject: Navy SEAL Levi Brandon

Mission: Sort out his accidental marriage...without sleeping with his "wife!"

Devil-may-care Navy SEAL Levi Brandon faces a terrifying task: telling Ashley Dixon that their faux wedding during their last mission together was actually real. It's bad enough that she completely loathes him, but she's DEA. Levi will be lucky to get away with his life...

Now Ashley and Levi have returned to Fantasy Island to sort things out...and are tempted to play a dangerous game of lust and restraint. A game of dares. All Levi has to do is keep himself from having sex with the hottie DEA agent. But Ashley's playing to win--and darers always go first.

He’s a womanizer, or at least that’s the rumor and that’s what Ashley believes.  And she really can’t stand womanizers.  She has pretended to be his girlfriend on an earlier mission when they were undercover together with a motorcycle gang.  But the one kiss they shared, hot as it may have been and as much as they each appreciated that hotness, was a one time thing, and to hear Ashley tell it, she was prepared to cut off Levi’s tongue if he got it anywhere near her again.  Now he has to tell her that the pretend marriage they staged on the beach of Fantasy Island on their last mission undercover, was inadvertently registered and is legal.

Levi is the kind of guy that teases and drives everyone sort of crazy with his unceasing talk, mostly about their glitches and mistakes and booboos.  He does indeed love the ladies and he does manage to hook up frequently.  But there’s just something about Ashley, and while they may be legally bound, Levi is wondering what it would really be like to have someone like Ashley in his life.

This is the third novel in the trilogy involving the members of SEAL Team Sigma, a group of Navy SEALs who are totally off the grid and whose identities and appearances are guarded to protect them when they go undercover.  Levi is a sniper and a man who has given himself heart and soul to his team.  But he is now over 30 years old and beginning to wonder about what it would be like to settle down, especially as two of his team are now preparing to walk down the aisle.

This novel has a lot more adversarial conversation that the two previous stories in this trilogy.  Levi and Ashley simply don’t like each other.  But like all situations of this kind, especially in romance fiction, there are changes in the offing and we know that Levi and Ashley will probably have their HEA.  It’s just a matter of how they manage that, and Ms Marsh is so good at getting us to that HEA in creative ways with lots of fun and sexy encounters thrown in.  I read this book as an ARC from Netgally and after reading the first two books I was delighted to have the chance to read this one as well.  I think readers who already enjoy Ms Marsh’s writing will find these three books delightful.  If a reader is just encountering this author, there’s lots of good reading ahead.  I suppose some would call this light hearted reading, but I just simply enjoyed the book and it kept my interest.  It is entertaining and took me to a Fantasy Island where anything was possible.  I believe most of us would be happy to have the wherewithal to go there ourselves.  Since I know I can’t, this is the next best thing.

I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Pleasing Her SEAL by Anne Marsh

Posted April 18, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Pleasing Her SEAL by Anne MarshReviewer: Judith
Pleasing Her SEAL by Anne Marsh
Series: Uniformly Hot #2
Also in this series: Teasing Her SEAL, Daring Her SEAL
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: January 1st 2016
Genres: Military, Contemporary
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five-stars

SUBJECT: Navy SEAL Mason Black

MISSION: Remain undercover…even if it means going commando!

Wedding blogger Maddie Holmes is twelve times the bridesmaid and never the bride. Still, being on the sidelines of everyone else's happy endings has its perks, like staying at the luxurious, decadent Fantasy Island. The resort isn't just romantic—it's filled with sinful temptations…like delicious hottie resort chef Mason Black. And Maddie can't wait to take a bite!

There's just a teeny problem with her plan. She has no idea that Mason is an undercover Navy SEAL who needs photographs Maddie took that put both his mission and her life at risk. Mason's plan? Retrieve the pics and indulge in a few X-rated fantasies with the curvy redhead…and hope like hell that being between the sheets doesn't blow his cover.

The members of SEAL Team Sigma keep on getting into trouble of the romantic kind while they lie in wait for the leader of a very dangerous drug cartel who is coming to Fantasy Island to marry his current squeeze.  Like his commander, Gray Jackson, hero in book one of this trilogy, Mason Black is undercover as a chef at the resort.  Now unlike Gray, Mason really does know what he is doing.  He has been cooking for years and feeding his team members and his family when he is on furlough with gourmet food.  So he can indeed pull his undercover assignment off.  What he doesn’t expect is to literally have Maddie Holmes run into him in an out-of-the-way portion of the island where she has set up cameras in order to snap shots of sunrises and sunsets for her wedding blog.  If she can do a good job, she will land some significant advertising dollars and as she puts it, be able to not only enjoy writing her blog but paying her rent and keeping the lights on.  One problem as Mason sees it:  her photos have also included the activity of the undercover SEAL team, unbeknownst to her.  So he is dispatched to literally woo her away from her camera so he can erase any shots that may include any team members or the boats that they were waiting to board.

This is a fun story in so many ways.  Maddie is kind of a scatter brained female, messy and disorganized apparently, yet she manages to keep her life and her internet activities organized as she sees it.   She is funny and well spoken, but underneath her cutesy exterior is a woman who is insecure and who has experienced lots of disappointment in her life.  She has come to Fantasy Island on a freebie vacation as a potential public relations connection for the resort.  She seems determined to get as much out of it as she can.  Mason is one of those alpha males who like what he likes but whose personal history has been a disappointment so far.  He loves his sisters and his family, but his long absences has created emotional distance from them.  Being with Maddie, even just a little bit, awakens within him the desire for a family, something that is just a bit more normal than living in foxholes or tents in the jungle.  The conversations between the characters is witty and enlightening.  Readers will see into the inner thoughts of these people but she has kept a good balance between introspection and dialogue, something I personally appreciate.

This story is well written and demonstrates the author’s experience and writing expertise.  She has an extensive writing resume and after reading the first two books in this trilogy, I understand why readers keep coming back for more.  It you like good romance with generous helpings of hot loving and well-seasoned with humor and as well as with the authentic friendship one will encounter between the SEALs, then you will like this novel.  I have a feeling that if this is your first Anne Marsh book, you will look for the others in this trilogy as well as other series she has written.  A truly delightful read and one I happily give a rating of 5 out of 5.

five-stars

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Guest Review: Over the Line by Emmy Curtis

Posted March 24, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Over the Line by Emmy CurtisReviewer: Judith
Over the Line by Emmy Curtis
Series: Alpha Ops #2
Also in this series: Dangerous Territory, Over the Line, Pushing the Limit, Compromised, Pushing the Limit
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Genres: Romance, Military, Contemporary, Suspense
Pages: 300
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four-stars

Army Special Forces Sergeant Beth Garcia owes James Walker big-time for saving her life in Afghanistan. So the least she can do is agree to be his rock-climbing partner. After a year of physical therapy, she's finally eligible for deployment again, and what better way to celebrate than a weekend with a sexy Air Force hero? She's prepared to kick his ass at climbing-until James reveals what he really has in mind . . .

Pretending to be engaged wasn't the most brilliant idea James ever had. Neither was dragging Beth to his sister's wedding. The competitive tomboy is a far cry from the type of woman his family usually pushes on him. Yet Beth is more exciting than anyone he's ever met, and James has a feeling that if he can get her in bed, she'll blow his mind. They're just supposed to be acting-but as the wedding weekend wears on, Beth and James have a fighting chance at something real and much more lasting . . .

(75,000 words)
More Alpha Ops books: Dangerous Territory (novella), Pushing the Limit, Blowback, Compromised, Risk of Exposure.

This is the second novel in a series that has taken quite a number of months to appear.  I just recently obtained this book through a discount reading service and was fascinated with the dynamics of this family and these characters.  It seems that the characters of this story are intertwined with others who are involved in the intelligence community and its various agencies.  In fact, the heroine’s dad is the director of the CIA and while he seems to have his head in the intelligence game, his need to keep his political relationships front and center drive the dynamics of the family.  The two main characters meet in the Middle East and their lives seem glued together over those shared experiences.  James doesn’t want to admit that he was already emotionally ensnared by Beth even before they met once again Stateside after her lengthy rehabilitation.

Beth loves her job and is planning one more deployment in order for her to meet the requirements of an applicant to the CIA.  She really is attracted to James but knows that anything between them must be temporary as she is not prepared to set aside her goals.  James is busy hiding his real job as an Air Force officer from a father who has never stopped being disappointed that his son hasn’t ever wanted to go into the family “business” of being spies.  Now James is faced with deciding if he will attend his sister’s wedding, knowing it will be a political happening rather than a family celebration.  He also knows that his parents are still manipulating him in order to get him back with his ex, a widow who has been grieving the death of her husband for seven years.  So much of the action of this story is set at the family mansion in McLean, Virginia, and the dynamics of a very dysfunctional family surrounded by friends and not-so-friendly non-friends is a rich brew of ups and downs that make this novel fascinating and complicated.

I don’t remember reading an Emmy Curtis novel before this one, but I have to admit that I moved right out of this one into the next.  The characters were so well crafted, the action sharp and often unexpected, the growing love relationship between James and Beth a roller coaster of on-again-off-again emotions and misunderstandings.  Add in the fact there is mischief afoot which could potentially mean severe hurt for some of James’ family and you have a marvelous “stew” of ingredients that make this a novel well worth reading.  This book was released over a year ago, but the story is fresh and contemporary and the entire series is riveting.  Do yourself a favor and get this book.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at http://www.drjsbookplace.blogspot.com.

Reading Order:
Dangerous Territory
Over the Line
Pushing the Limit
Blowback
Compromised
Risk of Exposure

four-stars

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Guest Review: Pushing the Limit by Emmy Curtis

Posted March 22, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Pushing the Limit by Emmy CurtisReviewer: Judith
Pushing the Limit by Emmy Curtis
Series: Alpha Ops #3
Also in this series: Dangerous Territory, Over the Line, Pushing the Limit, Compromised, Over the Line
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Genres: Romance, Military, Contemporary, Suspense
Pages: 300
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

After their one-night fling at a wedding, archaeologist Henrietta "Harry" Markowitz thought she'd never see war hero Matt Stanning again. So when they're paired up to investigate a military plane crash in Iraq, she's not sure if the three-month reunion is serendipitous or cursed. What she does know is this gorgeous man lights her body on fire-and incredible sex is always a welcome distraction.

Air Force Sergeant Matt Stanning has been called a hero, but he feels nothing like one when he realizes the sexy blonde in his bed is the widow of his fallen brother-in-arms. Even worse, he actually has to work with her, and she's unearthed evidence that points to a military conspiracy. If they dig deeper, they'll put their lives in danger. If they don't, they'll never know the truth-not only about the mysterious plane crash, but about each other.

More in the Alpha Ops series: Dangerous Territory (novella) Over the Line Compromised Risk of Exposure

After reading the preceding novel in this series, I felt compelled to get the next book and I am so glad I did.  Even though the action at the family wedding wasn’t continued in this story, the characters certainly are.  Add in the fact that Matt discovers an unexpected connection with Henrietta, an archaeologist he met at James Walker’s sister’s wedding, a woman who certainly piqued his interest and with whom he shared a night of passion, and one who is finally open to moving on from the grief over her husband’s death in the Middle East eight years earlier.  Harry, as Henrietta is fondly known by her friends, is an investigative scientist working for a foundation at various sites around the world.  She loves her work and especially loves being back in Iraq where she has friends and associates of somewhat long standing.  However, the discovery of a strange artifact which isn’t at all antique, spurs the appearance of studly Matt Stanning, the man who took her on a passionate erotic journey three months earlier.

All of the books in this series are filled with intrique that is characteristic of the intelligence community, and this particular novel features some of the action that continues in the Middle East.  There are still after effects of the Iraqi conflict and Harry becomes aware that this simple artifact may be important to discovering why the tension around her dig has escalated.  In addition, Harry becomes aware that quite possibly the foundation she is working for may be something other than what she has been led to believe so that the suspicions of Matt curiously coincide with hers and others of her colleagues.  Things just keep on getting curiouser and curiouser and Harry begins to wonder if it is only her reputation she must guard.  Perhaps her very life is on the line.

Lots of action in this book and it is interwoven with a love story that is unexpectedly influenced by recent history.  And as is so often the case in stories of this genre, who to trust is possibly the most serious question.  I know that as I was reading I kept looking for indications that might give me clues about who was trustworthy and who was the perpetrator of evil.  It is that mysterious component that keeps me glued to stories of this kind.  Makes my brain work and that’s a wonderful part of reading for me.

This is another beautifully written book, a story well told, a good balance between love and war, good and evil, friends and those who will eventually turn out to be not so friendly.  It was released late in 2014 but like all good books, its worth as good fiction has not been at all diminished.  This entire series is fabulous and I highly recommend this as such a good read.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at http://www.drjsbookplace.blogspot.com.

Reading Order:
Dangerous Territory
Over the Line
Pushing the Limit
Blowback
Compromised
Risk of Exposure

four-stars

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