Publisher: Zebra

Guest Review: Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted October 4, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Hidden by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Jen
Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops #1
Also in this series: Hidden (Deep Ops, #1)
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

Pippa lives essentially in the middle of nowhere, secluded except for the sexy new guy who moved into the only nearby house. Malcolm is also running from his life as an undercover cop and the demons of his past. It turns out someone wants Malcolm for a new operation, though, and Pippa is his target. She might be involved with a terrorist plot, and while Malcolm just can’t believe she’s a terrorist, he knows she’s lying and hiding something. Malcolm has to learn to work with his new team and get the info they need about Pippa, although that gets increasingly difficult as he gets to know her. Neither Malcolm nor Pippa can trust the other, but if they don’t they may not be able to stop an attack.

I loved this book. Pippa and Malcolm were richly drawn and interesting characters, both with their own baggage and their own hopes. Both of them were so damaged by their past, though both have channeled that in different directions. Pippa was traumatized by her childhood, experiencing panic attacks and terrible nightmares and largely cloistering herself in her house out of fear. In many ways, though, she’s better off than Malcolm–she is in (online) therapy, has a fulfilling job that doesn’t require her to leave her house, and isn’t self-medicating with alcohol like Malcolm. Malcolm has been working undercover for years, and the stress of being so deep undercover for so long has taken its toll on him. He’s got some serious PTSD and some unhealthy coping mechanisms, and it was tough to read about at first. The way Pippa sees Malcolm’s pain and wants to offer comfort was just lovely, and Malcolm realizes he wants to do the same for her.

There was a bit of a different tone from many of Zanetti’s other books. Malcolm is still WAY alpha, but he demonstrates a deep awareness of how he might appear threatening to Pippa, and he goes out of his way to avoid that not for self-serving reasons but because he doesn’t want to contribute to her fear. There’s also a lot more consent talk than Zanetti’s books usually feature. Of course, he still is bossy and gets off on dominating her in bed, but I honestly appreciated that Malcolm isn’t as much of a cave man as Zanetti’s usual heroes. (The book was still way sexy too.) I hope she continues that trend.

By far my favorite part of the book is Malcolm’s new team of “Homeland Defense Department” agents. They are all misfits and outcasts, people with secrets in their past that got them sent to the middle of nowhere to handle the cases no one else thinks are important. They start to develop friendships in this book, and it’s clear they will become a tight knit and top notch team. Each and every one of them is fantastic, especially the dog Roscoe who provides a ton of comic relief. I CANNOT wait to read about all of them in future books.

This book did have a few inconsistencies, like how Pippa warmed to Malcolm and started falling for him so quickly. I also would have liked Pippa to find out the truth about Malcolm a little earlier. She does find out early enough to resolve some conflict and have a role in stopping the attack, but I would have preferred just a little more time for her to come to terms with Malcolm’s lies.

These are pretty minor quibbles, though. Mainly I just had a great time reading this book, and I am beyond excited to see it continue.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Deep Ops

four-half-stars


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Review: Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted September 27, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Hidden by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops #1
Also in this series: Hidden (Deep Ops, #1)
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

Pippa is hiding. Forced by her mother to join a cult when she was young, Pippa finally escaped. She has basically turned herself into a shut-in. When her new neighbor spots her spying on him while he’s moving in, she has the mother of all panic attacks. She doesn’t know who this new neighbor is. Only that she doesn’t know him. She doesn’t trust people she doesn’t know, anymore than she trusts people that she does know. What she soon learns about her neighbor is that he has his own demons.

Malcolm West is fresh off an undercover job. He was under for two years and became good friends with the person he was bringing down. In the end, Malcolm had to kill the guy that had become like family to him. After that, Malcolm is out. He wants nothing to do with undercover or police work. That changes when he meets his sexy new neighbor. Suddenly he finds his house invaded by Angus Force, a federal agent in the HDD. Angus tells Malcolm that Pippa is actually a sleeper. She’s waiting on an order from the cult (she escaped) leader to go blow some shit up. Malcolm doesn’t buy it, especially when he starts getting to know Pippa. He can’t deny that she is lying to him, but he’s doing the same thing. Because now he wants to prove that she’s innocent and he can’t do that if she keeps lying to him.

As she and Malcolm start spending more time together, Pippa finds herself falling deeper and deeper. Malcolm is the kind of man she has fantasized about. Then she realizes that something about him just doesn’t add up. He tells her he is in requisitions, but gets emergency phone calls in the middle of the night. She finally figures out that he has been undercover and she has been his assignment. Pippa is devastated. Especially when she understands that she has been nothing but a job to him.

Malcolm doesn’t care what Pippa thinks of him. He knows she’s innocent and he’s going to prove it with or without her help. Oh and another thing? He’s not going to let her go.

I really enjoyed reading Hidden. It was a great start to a new series by Zanetti. She’s introduced some great characters and I’m really looking forward to reading more. Malcolm and Pippa were both so damaged, they were naturally drawn to each other. Pippa tries to help Malcolm at the risk of her own safety which really showed her true character. I can’t wait until the next book!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Deep Ops

four-stars


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Guest Review: Highland Devil by Hannah Howell

Posted July 23, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Highland Devil by Hannah HowellReviewer: Tracy
Highland Devil (Murray Family #22) by Hannah Howell
Series: Murray Family #22
Also in this series: Highland Groom
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

When a red-haired woman tries to steal Sir Gybbon Murray's horse on his journey back to the Murray stronghold, he thanks his lucky stars that his horse is a rude lout—and that the pretty thief is not so injured that she can't tell her tale. He's no nursemaid to delicate lasses, but Mora Ogilvy is fleeing her ruthless cousins, fearing for her life. And when she tells him of the home they've taken from her and the man they say she murdered, Gybbon cannot let such injustice stand.

Mora's pride demands she take back her lands, but not by risking the lives of this handsome, wicked knight and his family. Still, she needs to recover from her wounds, and staying close to Gybbon in his brother's keep is a seductive solution. A few weeks at his side will be a sweet memory for her when she returns to fight her own battles. Except the depth of her cousins' treachery—and the fierceness of Gybbon's love—may turn her own heart against her plans.

Mora is on the run from her evil cousin.  He admitted to her that he killed her parents and she just manages to get her seven-year-old brother, Daniel, on the run before he tries to stab her.  She gets away from him and heads off to her mother’s family, the Camerons.  While on the run she comes across a man with a horse and decides to steal the horse.  Unfortunately the horse doesn’t take well to strangers and bucks her off.

The own of the horse is Gybbon Murray.  He takes pity on Mora and offers to take her to Sigimore Cameron as he knows him well.  Sigimor agrees to help Mora as the Camerons hate the fact that her cousin, the Laird’s son, is trying to take the property from her.  With the help of the Camerons, McFingals and Murrays they help Mora figure out a way to save what’s left of her family and her property.

I had mixed emotions about this book.  You’ll see that I gave it 3.5 stars but I have to admit that is for the whole my-cousin-is-trying-to-kill-my-family part of the story – which is most of it.  I liked how the three clans get together to deal with the Ogilvy Laird and his psycho son.  The humor is high in the book and that definitely kept me reading.

What I didn’t care for in this book was the romance.  It was low on romance.  Ok, it was almost non-existent, actually.  I hate to say that but it’s true!  Mora and Gybbon meet and then they start dealing with her family issues immediately afterward.  He randomly kisses her a time or two as he’s feeling possessive but really it’s just about spending time together as they deal with her cousin.  The fact that the author had them falling in love so quickly was a bit of a shock.  I know this is how things happened back then, but I need my romance! Lol

In the end the 3.5 stars are for the family part of the book.  If I had to rate this on romance alone, I’m sorry to say it would have been a 1.5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Murray Family

three-half-stars


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Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Posted April 9, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. AikenReviewer: Holly
Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1) by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #1
Also in this series: Light My Fire, Dragon on Top, Bring the Heat, Bring the Heat
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: September 1st 2008
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 336
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Goodreads
four-stars

It's not always easy being a female warrior with a nickname like Annwyl the Bloody. Men tend to either cower in fear - a lot - or else salute. It's true that Annwyl has a knack for decapitating legions of her ruthless brother's soldiers without pausing for breath. But just once it would be nice to be able to really talk to a man, the way, she can talk to Fearghus the Destroyer.

Too bad that Fearghus is a dragon, of the large, scaly and deadly type. With him, Annwyl feels safe - a far cry from the feelings aroused by the hard-bodied, arrogant knight Fearghus has arranged to help train her for battle. With her days spent fighting a man who fill her with fierce, heady desire, and her nights spent in the company of a magical creature who could smite a village just by exhaling, Annwyl is sure life couldn't get any stranger. She's wrong...

Annwyl the Bloody is sister to the evil king of the realm. She’s been fighting his troops for years, slowly gathering support to form a rebellion meant to overthrow him. When she ends up on deaths doorstep outside a dragon’s den, she doesn’t expect to live. Either her brother’s soldiers will kill her, or the dragon will. But she isn’t going to go down cowering. She’ll go out as she lived, fighting for all she’s worth.

Fearghus the Destroyer is an antisocial dragon. He prefers being alone in his den to dealing with humans or other dragons. But Annwyl the Bloody intrigues him. Not only does her reputation proceed her, but she’s the only human he’s ever met who doesn’t cower from Dragons. She’s fierce and bold, and he can’t stop himself from wanting to heal, take care of and spend time with her. He knows if she wants to defeat her brother he needs better training. She has to learn to control her rage.

When Fearghus tells Annwyl he has a Knight who can help her hone her skill with a sword, she’s skeptical. But she can’t deny the man has skill. Still, for all of her attraction to the Knight, she prefers the company of the dragon.

This was such a good book. I loved how bloodthirsty and kickass the heroine was. She wasn’t a shrinking violet who needed to be saved. I loved Fearghus the dragon. He was so cute. Every time he and Annwyl snuggled I got all melty. I struggled more with her relationship with the Knight. They had a contentious relationship that didn’t really lend itself to softer feelings.

View Spoiler »

Still, I really enjoyed the story, the heroine and the dragon. This was a great start to what I hope will be a great series.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Posted March 1, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn FrankReviewer: Holly
Hunting Julian (Gatherers, #1) by Jacquelyn Frank
Series: Gatherers #1
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: January 1st 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 332
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

As an Advocate for his colony, Julian Sawyer travels to Earth to bring back the Chosen--women who possess energy potent enough to help revitalize his people. The stunning, silver-clad beauty who strides into his club one night radiates a sensual magnetism unlike any he's encountered, and Julian realizes that Asia Callahan is not just Chosen, she is his kindra: his one true mate.

For months, Asia has tracked the beautiful and mysterious Julian across the country, convinced that he's behind the disappearance of her sister and a dozen other women. She's prepared to believe he's a ruthless killer, but when she presents herself as bait, she discovers that the truth is far more shocking. Taken to a strange, hazardous realm she never knew existed, Asia will face the ultimate choice--between abandoning the life she's always known, and forsaking a passion as dangerous as it is powerful.

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This book was originally posted on February 16, 2011.

I picked this up on a whim out of my TBR pile. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a sci-fi novel featuring aliens from a different plane of existence. Despite my lukewarm feelings about the premise in the beginning, I admit the story sucked me in the more I read. I enjoyed the world. Frank’s description of Beneath and the creatures that inhabit it were well done. I also enjoyed Julian. Though it was hard to take his actions in the beginning, I think Frank did a fairly credible job of redeeming him.

Asia was harder to take. Although I understood her actions in the beginning (if I’d been kidnapped I image I’d have tried to escape/flout authority, too) they became increasingly hard to excuse away as the novel progressed. Although that isn’t my main issue. My main issue was her insistence that she “wasn’t made for forevers and happily ever afters”. That’s it. That was all the resistance between her and Julian. It wasn’t the fact that she was from Earth and he wasn’t, or that he brought her to his world without her permission, or that his people needed her to feed them energy, all of which I could have understood. Instead it was just “eh, I’m not a HEA type of girl”. She based this on nothing more than the fact that she was jaded and hadn’t ever had a lasting relationship. Considering the amount of resistance she put up, that was a very flimsy excuse.

Beyond that, there were several holes in the plot. The idea that Julian and Asia had to have sex in order to feed his people energy was somewhat outlandish, but so was the rest of the plot, so I could set that aside. It was harder to set aside disbelief over other things, such as the way Julian and Asia constantly fought with each other. That hampered the progress of the romance, so I didn’t find their feelings for each other believable.

I did like that Frank added more depth to the “destined” angle of the plot. Though Julian and Asia were “kindra”, meaning soul-mates, they didn’t immediately fall in love or accept they were meant to be together forever. Well, Julian did, but that’s to be expected since he’d grown up with the knowledge that it might happen. The fact that Asia resisted simply because it was “meant to be” was refreshing when compared to many other novels featuring the same trope.

Having said that, I’m willing to cut the novel a little slack because it’s the first of a new series. I did enjoy the world enough that I plan to read the next entry, Stealing Kathryn.

3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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