Genre: Women Sleuths

Guest Review: Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle

Posted July 12, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Fan the Flames by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #2
Also in this series: Gone Too Deep, In Safe Hands
Published by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Amateur Sleuth, Contemporary, Action & Adventure, Thrillers, Small Town & Rural
Pages: 448
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three-half-stars

He's a firefighter.He's a Motorcycle Club member.And if a killer has his way...he'll take the fall for a murder he didn't commit.

Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath?and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms. When she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a gang war, with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

Search & Rescue Series: On His Watch (novella) Hold Your Breath (Book 1)Fan the Flames (Book 2)Gone too Deep (Book 3)In Safe Hands (Book 4)

Let me just state right off the bat while I totally get why some people love them, I generally don’t like motorcycle club books. I frequently have issues with the criminal element, especially when the hero or heroine is directly involved, and it just knocks me out of the story. But I really, really loved Hold Your Breath, the first book in Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue series, so I decided to take a chance on the second book, which features a hero in motorcycle club and a heroine who owns a gun shop. While I had some issues with this book, I enjoyed it more than I expected.

We met the hero, Ian, in book 1. He’s a firefighter in this town in the Rocky Mountains, and he’s also a member of a local motorcycle club. Rory is his friend and owner of the local gun shop. When she defends herself from an attack by some members of Ian’s club, it puts her on the wrong side of the club sets off an even greater conflict for Ian. Ian has to protect Rory and himself. Moreover, the murder investigation from book 1 is still continuing here, and Ian gets unhappily tangled in that case as well.

Let’s start by talking about the MC! Ian has been involved in the club since he was a kid, and they basically took the place of his absent biological family. He is also a firefighter, though, which means he’s part of the close-knit team that includes police, fire, and search and rescue. Obviously, his work colleagues are on a different side of the law from his club. This causes lots of conflict for Ian, and it makes people on both sides angry at him. I thought his continued loyalty to the club made sense, though, because even though he does not like their criminal activities he feels like he owes them something.

I grew up in the club. They’re family. I can’t abandon my family, even if some of them make pisspoor decisions. 

I think what saved the MC plot line for me was that Ian eventually does have to take a stand for what is right, because the club crosses a line. I appreciated that Ian and everyone else could see that line, too.

The other characters in this series are fantastic as well. We get to see more of Lou and Callum, the couple from book 1. We also see more of the other colorful personalities in town. I particularly loved the firefighters. With one exception, they are a strong and supportive team, and they are on Ian’s side despite the conflicts his club membership brings. I liked that, and I liked that Ian had people like that in his corner. The dialog between the firefighters was snarky and had me laughing repeatedly.

So what didn’t I like? First, I had some trouble relating to Rory. It’s not that there was anything wrong with her, but I just struggled to connect with her. She’s funny and self-sufficient but that wasn’t quite enough for me. Her parents were seriously unbalanced doomsday preppers who lived in a secret bunker and tortured Rory with apocalyptic drills and training. I did like that Rory somehow managed to claw her way up from that dismal childhood but it was hard to understand. Now she owns a gun shop, and the story was very, very heavy on the gun talk, which got kind of boring for me.

What was most problematic for me, though is that Rory sells illegally modified firearms to known criminals like Ian’s MC. I kept thinking how scary and dangerous that was and how it led to all the trouble Rory finds herself in during this book. The book kind of ignores the illegal gun sales by saying “well, the MC wasn’t doing anything THAT bad”, but it’s admitted that the club members have killed people before so…? I had trouble understanding why otherwise law-abiding Rory would have such a blind spot there. Like book 1, Fan the Flames is written from Rory’s point of view, so the fact that I had trouble relating to her made it a bit harder for me to get into the story.

I thought Rory and Ian had some good chemistry, but I didn’t think we saw enough about where that came from. Again, seeing just Rory’s point of view of course limited my perspective a bit, but I wasn’t quite sure what started Ian’s attraction. I got that Rory was inexperienced with men so naturally she’d be reluctant to act on her crush on Ian, but what motivated Ian? Why did he have a crush on sheltered, socially awkward Rory? Why did he wait so long to act on it, and what suddenly and very abruptly got him moving at the start of this book? I really would have liked to hear his side!

I was hoping this book would be a home run for me, but even though it wasn’t I can definitely say it’s the first MC book I genuinely enjoyed. Other MC fans will probably enjoy this one even more than I did.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

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

three-half-stars

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Lightning Review: Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted January 6, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Immortal in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly
Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb
Series: In Death #3
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Strangers in Death, Suite 606, Salvation in Death, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, Glory in Death, The Lost, Rapture in Death, Fantasy in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 1996
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, General, Police Procedural, Women Sleuths
Pages: 320
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Goodreads
four-stars

She was one of the most sought-after women in the world. A top model who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted -- even another woman's man. And now she was dead, the victim of a brutal murder. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas put her professional life on the line to take the case when suspicion fell on her best friend, the other woman in the fatal love triangle. Beneath the facade of glamour, Eve found that the world of high fashion thrived on an all-consuming passion for youth and fame. One that led from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City where drugs could fulfill any desire -- for a price . . .

 

This is one of my favorite In Death books. I think because this is the first time we really see Eve open up. She shows a lot of emotional growth here, plus she opens the door to new friendships.

It was easy to figure out who the killer was, but I still enjoyed the basic plot and watching Eve and her team work it out. I was disappointed in the timeline of the investigation though. It seems strange that both Eve and Roarke would be working right up until the night of the wedding.

All of Eve’s past is revealed in this book, and I found it just as shocking and horrific this time around. I hate that she pushes Roarke away, and yet that’s one of the most real parts of the book. After everything she suffered I’d be upset if she reacted differently.

Overall I’m just as impressed this time around.

4.5 out of 5

For a full list of the books and their reading order, see here.

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

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Lightning Review: Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted January 5, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: Rapture in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly
Rapture in Death by J. D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #4
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Strangers in Death, Suite 606, Salvation in Death, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, Glory in Death, The Lost, Immortal in Death, Fantasy in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 1996
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, General, Police Procedural, Women Sleuths, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 310
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four-stars

They died with smiles on their faces. Three apparent suicides: a brilliant engineer, an infamous lawyer, and a controversial politician. Three strangers with nothing in common - and no obvious reasons for killing themselves. Police lieutenenat Eve Dallas found the deaths suspicious. And her instincts paid off when autopsises revealed small burns on the brains of the victims. Was it a genetic abnormality or a high-tech method of murder? Eve's investigation turned to the provocative world of virtual reality games - where the same technique used to create joy and desire could also prompt the mind to become the weapon of its own destruction.

 

This novel takes place right at the end of Eve and Roarke’s honeymoon. I think this is the first book where we really see them in harmony with each other.

Once again Eve’s case spills over into her personal life. People keep killing themselves, but Eve is convinced they were helped along. Her only evidence – besides her gut feeling – is each had a small blip on the brain. For me it isn’t ever hard to figure out who the villains are, but it is a joy watching Eve work. I especially liked the moral and social implications this case delved into. Mind control/mood control is a very scary thing.

There’s one scene in particular with Roarke that’s very emotional to read about. I will say, reading this book knowing what’s going on ahead of time really changed the tone of some of the scenes. The first time around my reaction was much different than it was this time around.

Something about the end of this book strikes me as odd, however. I don’t want to spoil it, but Eve’s reaction during the very last scene of the book seems off somehow. I can’t quite put my finger on why it’s wrong, though.

Overall a good entry.

4 out of 5

For a full list of the books and their reading order, see here.

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

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Review: Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted December 23, 2009 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Glory in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly
Glory in Death by J. D. Robb, Nora Roberts
Series: In Death #2
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Strangers in Death, Suite 606, Salvation in Death, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, The Lost, Rapture in Death, Immortal in Death, Fantasy in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 1995
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Police Procedural, Thrillers, Suspense
Pages: 313
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Goodreads
four-stars

The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects--including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead..to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.

 

Now that I’ve started, I may end up re-reading the entire series. I’d forgotten how much I love the earlier books. Each case of Eve’s is intersting, of course, but it’s her character development that really makes these fascinating. Not to mention her relationship with Roarke.

Though I figured out early on who the killer was, I really enjoyed watching Eve puzzle it out. Roarke again pops up in Eve’s investigation. The victim in this book is a close personal friend of Eve’s commander, which further complicates an already murky case.

Naturally the best part of the book is Eve and Roarke. Eve is still struggling to accept Roarke in her life and Roarke is upset that she’s struggling. I love this aspect of the novel. I find their relationship so..real. Here the main struggle comes from Roarke wanting to deepen the relationship and Eve balking at such a thing. She knows cops are a bad bet, and she’s worse than most. When Roarke tries to give Eve a gift, something she’s very uncomfortable with, things really blow up. Roarke issues an ultimatum and Eve spends the next miserable, yet refusing to admit it.

I will confess that there isn’t enough from Roarke’s point-of-view in these earlier books. That didn’t bother me so much the first time I read them, but this time around I find myself disappointed that we don’t see more from him. That isn’t to say we don’t get his POV at all, because we do, it just wasn’t quite enough. But then there will never be enough Roarke, so I suppose this is subjective.

This book contains one of my favorite scenes of the entire series..when Eve goes to confront Roarke after their separation. I love how raw both of them are, and how real their emotions and actions are. I also love the symbolism of the diamond Roarke gives Eve, and how that continues on throughout the series.

4.25 out of 5

For a full list of the books and their reading order, see here.

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

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Review: Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted February 25, 2009 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Salvation in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly
Salvation in Death by J. D. Robb
Series: In Death #27
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Strangers in Death, Suite 606, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, Glory in Death, The Lost, Rapture in Death, Immortal in Death, Fantasy in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 2008
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
Pages: 353
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Ancient church rituals meet cutting- edge crime solving in the latest novel in the #1 New York Times–bestselling series that’s “Law & Order: SVU—in the future” (Entertainment Weekly).
In the year 2060, sophisticated investigative tools can help catch a killer. But there are some questions even the most advanced technologies cannot answer.
Ridley Pearson has praised J. D. Robb’s suspense as “taut” and “nerve-jangling.” Her latest thriller sets a new standard for suspense, as the priest at a Catholic funeral mass brings the chalice to his lips—and falls over dead.
When Detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas confirms that the consecrated wine contained potassium cyanide, she’s determined to solve the murder of Father Miguel Flores, despite her discomfort with her surroundings. It’s not the bodegas and pawnshops of East Harlem that bother her, though the neighborhood is a long way from the stone mansion she shares with her billionaire husband, Roarke. It’s all that holiness flying around at St. Christobal’s that makes her uneasy.
A search of the victim’s sparsely furnished room reveals little— except for a carefully hidden religious medal with a mysterious inscription, and a couple of underlined Bible passages. The autopsy reveals more: faint scars of knife wounds, a removed tattoo—and evidence of plastic surgery, suggesting that “Father Flores” may not have been the man his parishioners had thought. Now, as Eve pieces together clues that hint at gang connections and a deeply personal act of revenge, she believes she’s making progress on the case. Until a second murder—in front of an even larger crowd of worshippers—knocks the whole investigation sideways. And Eve is left to figure out who committed these unholy acts—and why.

There are very few authors who can write a never ending series about one couple and make it work, but Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb is definitely the master. Despite the fact that this is the 30th book in the In Death series about Eve and Roarke it’s still new and fresh. I’m constantly amazed at the quality of the stories in this series.
Unfortunately, I think this is one of the weaker entries. In a series of 30 books, not every one is going to be an A+ read, and this one isn’t. It’s still a strong entry, though, and I enjoyed my latest foray into the futuristic world of Eve Dallas. Check out Casee’s review here.

There isn’t much going on between Eve and Roarke in this book. They’re pretty well settled into marital bliss and the focus of the story is on Eve’s latest case. I really liked that she had to deal with something outside of her comfort zone. We all know how Eve feels about religion. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the villain was. Normally I have the villain pegged in the first 1/4 of the book but enjoy watching Eve puzzle out the who and why.

This time I thought everything was a bit vanilla. The murder mystery, Eve and Roarke’s relationship, even the secondary characters. It’s not that they were boring or didn’t work, it’s just that there was hardly any drama or spice.

I think part of the problem is that I enjoy it when Eve and Roarke have discord between them. Those make for the best stories, IMO. So it was kind of disappointing to see them living in perfect harmony. Yes, that sounds bad, but it’s true.

Eve’s selfishness in regards to Roarke’s work and time still bothers me. I’m hoping for the day when she decides to take an active interest in what he does. The idea cracks me up.

Anyway, not a bad entry, just not the best. Fans of the series will of course want to read it.

3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Putnam. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars

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