Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review: Consumed by J.R. Ward

Posted October 2, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: Consumed by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Consumed (Firefighters, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Firefighters #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
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two-half-stars

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series comes a brand-new novel about arson investigator, Ann Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family's scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.


Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed...

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn't believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again--until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.From the creator of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm . . .

Holy crap. This book was NOT for me. From the beginning to the end, it was just not. I loved The Bourbon Kings series. It was far outside the purview of the BDB. I thought that this new series would be much of the same. Especially after I skimmed (I don’t like spoilers) some of the reviews on GoodReads. I was hopeful. Too hopeful. Bad on me.

I didn’t like Anne Ashburn from the beginning. Not from page one. You could tell she was the type of person that didn’t like following rules, orders, or anything in between. Which usually wouldn’t be a problem one way or the other. The problem in this book is that she’s a firefighter. A firefighter for the love of…ugh. Firefighters have to follow orders or they get dead. If they don’t get themselves dead, they’ll get someone else dead. It’s blatantly obvious that Anne goes against authority when she tells her partner they need to separate during a warehouse fire. After being explicitly told not to split up.

That decision ends up costing her. Big time. It almost costs her her own life and the life of the man she loves. Who rushes into save her after being ordered not to go in after her. Yep, folks. There’s two of them. And they’ve found each other.

Danny McGuire loves Anne and he won’t leave her in the warehouse to burn. What happens between the time he goes in after her and the time he brings her out is something that is seared into his brain. Ten months later he can barely look at himself in the mirror. He takes up drinking, smoking, and sleeping with any woman that will have him. Then one night he gets in a fight at a local bar and his best friend calls in the big guns. Anne.

Anne thought she was done with Danny. Except she’s never done with Danny. The two are literally made for each other. You couldn’t find two more damaged people than the two of them. I understood Danny’s demons. I truly did. He lost his twin brother in a fire, he lost a good friend in a fire, he lost his parents. He has a lot of loss in his life. Anne? I seriously don’t know what her issue was. She had serious hangups from her childhood and she hated her mother, but she let that affect every aspect of her life. It was ludicrous.

A couple of the interesting parts should be mentioned. The mystery was fairly mysterious. So was Anne’s brother Tom. Talk about siblings. They both rather redeemed themselves in the end (when it came to each other and their mother), so that was all right. It was Danny that changed by leaps and bounds though. It was quite the thing to read.

One thing I could not get over, hence my low grade, is that Anne wasn’t just stupid, she was TSTL. Yup. Too Stupid To Live. While investigating the warehouse fires, she figures out who did it. Instead of calling her SWAT friend or her brother or even Danny, what does she do? You guessed it…she goes after the guy herself. Why? Because she’s no mere woman. She doesn’t need a stinking man. Then, she’s so sure she’s right that she decides that she’s going to compromise evidence because she has to prove something to herself. That’s what ultimately threw me over the edge. I can deal with many things. TSTL heroines are not one of them.

I do hate to admit that I might read Tom’s book. I think I hate myself for that.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

two-half-stars


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Review: Sustained by Emma Chase

Posted September 24, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sustained by Emma ChaseReviewer: Holly
Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: Legal Briefs #2
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 25th 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 267
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four-half-stars

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I'm going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal's office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.

This book was recommended to me by several people ages ago, but it was Rowena who finally forced me to read it. I’m so sorry I waited. This was such a fabulous story. The story is told strictly from the hero’s point of view and it worked so well for me.

Jake is a successful defense attorney who spends his days in court and his nights banging whatever random chick he can send packing in the morning…until an STD scare forces him to take a break from his nightly activities. In the meantime he snags a boy who tries to steal his wallet. Jake takes him home only to fall into immediate lust with his sexy aunt. The problem? She’s just become guardian to six kids..and Jake is allergic to commitment. Except he can’t stop from thinking about her.. or the kids. Before he knows it he’s taking kids to dance and going to Justin Bieber concerts and changing diapers….and falling in love with not just Chelsea, but all 6 kids, too.

You guys. This was such a stellar romance. I loved it. I loved Jake, the kids, Chelsea…all of it. I couldn’t get enough of Jake and his interactions with the kids. Teenage girls, babies, and everyone in between. He was so great with them all. He also showed incredible insight when it came to Chelsea and how quick she was to drop everything to take care of her family. My favorite parts were the ones where Jake acknowledged her sacrifice and stepped up to help her.

There were times he frustrated me with his pigheadedness, but I couldn’t stay mad at him when it was clear he was falling hard and fast. This was such a fabulous read. I highly recommend it.

4.5 out of 5

The Legal Briefs

four-half-stars


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Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Posted September 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
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Goodreads
five-stars

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

I haven’t read very many books by Christina Lauren but the books that I did read, I enjoyed. I didn’t love them but they were solid contemporary romances that brought the goods. The time has come where they wrote a book that I absolutely adored.

Josh and Hazel went to college together and while they weren’t friends there, they were in each other’s orbits because Hazel was a hurricane of a young girl and Josh was a TA for one of Hazel’s classes. They’re complete opposites and even though Hazel has always a bit of a crush on Josh, she knows it’s not going to happen because she won’t ever change who she is for anyone, she settles for being Josh’s friend. They don’t become friends until after they run into each other 7 years after college but friends they become.

Josh is reserved and he’s careful and when he finds out that his long-distance girlfriend is cheating on him, he becomes single and his sister puts Hazel into his path to make sure that he has fun. He needs to have more fun in his life and there is nobody more fun than Hazel Bradford.

Hazel is a third-grade teacher who loves life. She’s eccentric, she’s bold, she’s loud and she knows that she’s a lot to take on so she’s not at all surprised that she’s single. She respects that she’s a lot to handle and doesn’t let that stop her from being her. She’s not for everybody and deep down, she hopes to find her person. Her person will be someone who accepts and loves her the way that she is. She sees the good in people and she doesn’t waste a lot of energy on negative shit so she’s just a ray of sunshine.

When Josh and Hazel become friends, we see their relationship form. For Josh, Hazel goes from being the loud and inappropriate young woman to the caring, will do anything for him best friend that he appreciates more and more with each passing day. She’s a lot of things, but she’s also one of the very best people that he knows. In an effort to help him move on from his cheating ex, Hazel starts setting him up on blind dates that Josh drags her along on with a blind date of her own. They choose dates for each other and then they go on these dates together and each date cracked me up.

I read this book in one sitting and throughout most of the book, I was laughing. I had a clear picture of both Josh and Hazel in my head (Jung from Kims Convenience for Josh and Jessica Day from New Girl for Hazel) so I could see each scene play out perfectly. Christina Lauren wrote a fabulous romantic comedy with a friendship that I was jealous of and a love that charmed the socks right off of me. Josh and Hazel made no sense and yet they were perfect for each other. I loved that Hazel could bring Josh out of his funk and I adored that Josh accepted and loved Hazel as she was. Their romance completely worked for me and I definitely recommend this book. This book isn’t being as well received by other readers but for me? I loved it all.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Guest Review: Going Rogue by Chantal Fernando

Posted September 4, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Going Rogue by Chantal FernandoReviewer: Tracy
Going Rogue (The Cursed Ravens MC, #3) by Chantal Fernando
Series: The Cursed Ravens MC #3
Also in this series: Ace of Hearts, Knuckle Down (The Cursed Ravens MC #2)
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: August 6, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 285
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

Love blossoms in the most unexpected of places in this sweet and steamy Cursed Ravens Motorcyle Club title featuring a hunky bad boy and a charming nurse.

The men might tease Rogue and call him pretty behind his back, but no one is going to say that to his face. As the vice president of the Cursed Ravens—and with an unpredictable and unruly temper—respect is given to him at any cost.

But Rogue reins himself in when he visits his mother in a local nursing home. Overwhelmed with guilt that he can’t take care of her himself, he can barely handle watching her fade away with dementia. And he knows the staff is exceptional—especially the sweet and beautiful caregiver who pays extra attention to his mom.

It isn’t easy working at a nursing home, but Zoe enjoys spending time with her favorite patient Anne. She knows Anne has a son who dutifully visits her, but when Zoe sees the tall, muscled, handsome stranger, she can tell he’s trouble—beautiful trouble. She knows he’s a Cursed Raven and she knows better than to admit she’s attracted to him. There’s no way she'll date an MC member. Been there done that. But as Zoe and Rogue start to get closer, they realize one way or another, they’ll have to fight to stay in each other’s lives.

Zoe loves her work in the nursing home.  While not glamorous, she loves the connections she makes with the residents.  She especially loves Anne, and when she meets Anne’s son, she really likes him as well.  He proves to be thoughtful and brings her lunch every day.  Rogue is Anne’s son and he really likes Zoe as well.  He wants to take it slow with her and Zoe likes that.  She’s still a bit hesitant because she dated a biker before and he just wanted to hide her away, never introducing her to his MC and then she found out she was his piece-on-the-side as he already had a girlfriend.

While Zoe and Rogue’s relationship flourishes there are things happening with the MC that get a bit tricky.  Rogue’s mom, Anne, also has some issues and that causes problems between the couple.

This was a cute story.  I enjoyed reading Rogue’s story after meeting him in the first two books in the series. Zoe was a sweet girl and I liked them together.  I think Rogue needed someone more down to earth in his life and Zoe fit the bill.

The situation with Rogue’s mom was intense and heart-breaking.  Zoe and Rogue both loved her to pieces and that made things a lot tougher.  Anne was the one who caused conflict between Rogue and Zoe but I was happy that they worked it out.

Overall I liked the book and thought it was a nice read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Cursed Ravens MC

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

Posted August 16, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Desperate Girls (Wolfe Security #1) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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Goodreads
four-stars

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.

I have been anxiously awaiting this new romantic suspense series, which is a spin-off from Griffin’s always dependable Tracers books. Instead of focusing on the Delphi Center or the police, we get to dig into Liam Wolfe’s private security firm. Liam was the hero of book 9 in the Tracers series, and while we don’t get to see him much we do get some brief glimpses of him and his profiler brother Mark. You definitely don’t need to have read any of the Tracers books to jump into Desperate Girls, though.

The cover copy for this book is really not an accurate portrayal of the plot, so let me try and summarize things a bit more precisely. (And that title is similarly meaningless. I can only assume the publisher is trying to cash in on the popularity of the “Girl” thrillers, even though this is not that kind of book. It is firmly a romantic suspense.) Brynn Holloran is a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney. When it appears a case from her past has come back to haunt her and the others involved, her boss hires Wolfe Security to handle things. Erik Morgan is the lead for her security detail, and they quickly butt heads. Brynn doesn’t see the need for security and is simply focused on her big upcoming trial, but as the threats escalate she realizes the danger she’s in. Of course, she and Erik have an inconvenient attraction that complicates matters.

Probably my favorite part of the book is Brynn. She is a really, really good defense attorney, and it was fun to read about her legal strategizing. She is excellent at reading people, at seeing patterns and motives, and at telling a story for a jury. I particularly love the way she makes no apologies for her job or her tactics. She admits she’s not above using her looks to sway, impress, or intimidate. There’s a scene where she calls out Erik for his hypocrisy by pointing out his appearance is an important part of his job too, and I gave a silent fist pump at that. She is perhaps a bit ridiculous in her continued insistence that she doesn’t need so much security, but I could overlook that one blindspot.

I really enjoyed Brynn and Erik together, too. We never dig too deep into Erik’s story, which I would have liked, but we do get some time to see Brynn and Erik together. I appreciated that Erik likes her for her strength and her intelligence–he respects her job and how hard she works at it. They have some good physical and emotional chemistry, and I believed they would be a good long-term couple. This is a stereotypically fast-moving romantic suspense relationship, however, so YMMV depending on how you feel about that trope.

We meet some fantastic secondary characters in this book, too. I particularly enjoyed the police detective Lindsey, who seemed brilliant and not afraid to go her own way. I definitely want to hear more about the other Wolfe Security team members as well.

In my opinion, this is a solid start to this spin-off. This book was a bit more suspense and less police/forensic procedural than the Tracers series, but I appreciated the different vibe.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


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