Publisher: Zebra

Guest Review: No Other Highlander by Adrienne Basso

Posted March 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: No Other Highlander by Adrienne BassoReviewer: Tracy
No Other Highlander by Adrienne Basso
Series: The McKennas #2
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Historical, Medieval, Scottish
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

Scottish Highlands, 1334: The McKenna clan flourishes under a family of warriors, fierce and righteous, faithful to their own until the last. But to produce an heir, the widowed eldest son must risk his heart again . . .

Lady Joan Armstrong Fraser was once the indulged and pampered daughter of a laird. But marriage to a brute changed her. When he sets her aside, she has only her wits and her beauty to protect herself and her child from the chaos of her former home. She will have to find another husband—a man whose strength is more than a weapon against the weak. A man she can trust . . . if such a man even breathes.

Sir Malcolm McKenna has known Lady Joan since her childhood, a spoiled princess as dangerous as she is lovely. But when she steps forward to protect him against a false accusation, he discovers a character stronger than he guessed—and an attraction he yearns to explore . . .

Malcolm McKenna has been accused of devirginizing a woman, promising her marriage and then disappearing.  The woman is the daughter of the McPhearson laird and he’s so mad now that his daughter has given birth that he’s put a price on Malcolm’s head. When Malcolm hears about this he’s shocked! Though he was drunk during the fete that this liaison supposedly took place, he thinks he’d remember deflowering a woman!  Malcolm’s father, Laird McKenna, decides to meet with the McPhearson to work out the issue.  They decide to meet on Armstrong territory as it’s neutral territory.

Joan Armstrong is a woman who married a monster. He was brutal and abused her both verbally and physically.  He finally put her aside and got an annulment stating that she was insane.  She doesn’t like the stigma of insanity but she’s certainly happy to be out from under his thumb.  Unfortunately coming home with her two-year-old son isn’t a happy reunion.  Her father doesn’t want her there because of the embarrassment Joan has brought to him and the family/clan.  She tries to do all she can to help but it’s never enough for her father.  She knows she’ll never remarry so what will she do if her father does remarry – she’ll no longer be needed.  When the McPhearson’s and the McKenna’s show up Joan is happy to look after them but being on the outside of the discussion she sees what no one else does – that Malcolm’s truly wrongly accused.  When the truth comes out the McPhearson wants Malcolm to marry his daughter anyway but in a stroke of inspiration Malcolm states he’s already engaged to Joan.

To say that Joan’s not happy about Malcolm’s declaration is an understatement but Malcolm is attracted to her and knows that he can care for her and her son.  He finally talks her into agreeing and they head off to McKenna lands.  Joan has agreed to marry Malcolm but will she ever be able to trust a man again and open her heart.

This was a great story.  I loved Joan and the love she had for her son.  She’d had such a bad marriage and she truly deserved happiness but she never thought it would come to her in yet another marriage.  I loved how Malcolm slowly brought her out of her shell and was so patient with her.  He knew that she’d had a rough go of it with her previous husband and though he wanted to bed her he took things slow and easy with her.  He was a good man through and through and he made a great hero.  Once Joan opened up a bit we got to see that she was a good woman as well.  I thought that the pair were perfect together and was so happy when everything worked out.

Besides Joan’s husband and his dastardly deeds during one portion of the book there really wasn’t a villain involved in No Other Highlander.  I really enjoyed the story being relationship driven and not having to worry about a whodunit as well.  The book was fun and funny as well as touching and emotional which to me was a good mix.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy

Posted January 20, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra IvyReviewer: Jen
Kill Without Shame (ARES Security, #2) by Alexandra Ivy
Series: ARES Security #2
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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three-half-stars

Five brave military heroes have survived the hell of a Taliban prison to return home—and take on civilian missions no one else can. They’re the men of ARES Security. Highly skilled, intimidating, invincible, and one by one, tested again and again…  Lucas St. Clair’s prestigious family had a political future neatly planned out for him—one that didn’t include his high school sweetheart, Mia Ramon. Under their pressure, Lucas gave her up. But since surviving captivity, he’s a changed man—and a crucial member of ARES Security. When he discovers a dead man clutching a picture of Mia that bears a threatening message, his fiercest protective instincts kick in, and he knows he must go to her.   Mia has never forgiven Lucas for breaking her heart, and she’s convinced her feelings for him are in the past. But it’s soon clear that isn’t true for either of them. Now, determined to solve the crime and keep Mia safe, with his ARES buddies backing him up, Lucas will have to reconstruct the murder victim’s last days—and follow a lethal trail that leads right back to the fate of the woman he still loves…  “A fantastic blend of romance and suspense…thrilling to the end.” --Mary Burton, USA Today bestselling author on Kill Without Mercy

In Kill Without Shame, we meet yet another amazing security team of badasses, this time called ARES. The members are all former military guys who were held prisoner together in Afghanistan. Lucas St. Clair is one of them, though unlike the rough backgrounds most of them have, Lucas comes from a rich political family. He turned his back on that life for good after coming back home, and now he’s rich and successful all on his own. When he finds out his high school girlfriend Mia is in danger, he immediately rushes to her side. He left her once, but he never stopped loving her (naturally), and now he has to convince her that not only can he keep her safe but he wants back in her life for good. Mia and Lucas have to figure out who wants her dead and put a stop to their plans.

This was a fun and interesting book! As you can probably guess, it doesn’t exactly break new ground, what with the secret team, the “I dumped you for your own good but I never forgot you” that Lucas has going on, and the headstrong but smart heroine. Still, I enjoy those stories so for me this one worked. I liked that Mia doesn’t immediately roll over and let Lucas in. She doesn’t trust him at first, nor should she. Well, she trusts his skills at keeping her safe pretty quickly, but she doesn’t trust his intentions and makes him work to regain that trust. Even better, Lucas understands why she doesn’t trust him and doesn’t push her or get mad at her for her reticence. He knows he screwed up, and he knows he needs to earn her back. I did also appreciate that his reasons for leaving her originally aren’t totally bogus (just a little bit, ha). Looking from the outside in, we readers can see neither Lucas nor Mia was really ready to handle their love yet. We can see that time to mature and some tough life experiences for both of them have made them stronger and better prepared to be together.

I liked the mystery in the book. There are some pretty big twists and turns, and even though I could kind of figure out who the villain might be fairly early, that person’s motivations weren’t quite clear at first. The book isn’t action-packed but the pace was fairly steady. Unfortunately, Lucas and Mia do something profoundly stupid towards the end, which was out of character and unnecessary except as a way to allow the villain to get to them in a dramatic fashion.

For me, this was a solid book in a new-to-me series, and I’ll be looking forward to more.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

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

three-half-stars

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Review: Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted September 23, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shadow Falling by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome #2
Also in this series: Mercury Striking, Justice Ascending
Published by Zebra Books
Publication Date: August 30th 2016
Genres: Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 400
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four-stars

Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Kennedy was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her skills as a hunter of men had gone from merely brilliant to full-on uncanny. Her mysterious rescuer wants her to put them to the test. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.
If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk.
And the way his arms wrap around Vinnie tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .

I am really loving this series. I love post-apocalyptic books. How would I be in a post-apocalypse world? How would you be? I think I would die in the first wave of deaths. Holly wouldn’t. I’ve seen the survival gear in her trunk. Maybe I wouldn’t. I would just need to find her car. Which would be hard considering we love several states away from each other.

Back to the review. I really enjoyed this book, but I liked Mercury Striking more. That’s where we are first introduced to Raze. He was as shady in that book as he is in his own book. When Vanguard goes to rescue Lynne from the Ripper President of the United States in Mercury Rising, Raze finds Vivienne Kennedy. Vinnie has been held prisoner by the President because he thinks she knows where the Bunker is. The Bunker is thought to have supplies and hold the cure for the Scorpius Syndrome. The problem is that Vinnie has no idea where the Bunker is. By the time she’s rescued, she’s been abused and drugged beyond imagining.

Raze is immediately drawn to Vinnie. She is vulnerable and his protective instincts immediately come to the forefront. It’s almost too bad for Vinnie that Raze is going to turn her over to the Mercenaries.

The next part of the review contains spoilers, so read on at your own risk…

View Spoiler »

Vinnie knows that Raze isn’t what he seems, but she can’t help but be attracted to his need to protect her. Feeling safe is a precious commodity in this new world and the only time she feels safe is when she is with Raze. Vinnie also knows that the drugs have done something to her brain, but Raze doesn’t seem concerned that she’s going crazy. Talking to her dead aunt is something that is of great concern to Vinnie, but Raze thinks nothing of it.

When Raze’s betrayal does come to life, Raze fights like hell to keep his place in Vanguard, keep the girl, and get his sister to safety. I would have respected him much more if he would have gone to Jax from the beginning, but he redeemed himself when he finally manned up and did it after View Spoiler ».

It’s official, I’m hooked on this series. I can’t wait until the next book comes out.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

four-stars

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Guest Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted January 25, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Tracy
Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome #1
Also in this series: Shadow Falling, Justice Ascending
Published by Kensington, Zebra
Publication Date: January 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Suspense, Fantasy
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four-stars

With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynne Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynne is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…   Danger has never looked quite so delicious…

A bacterium has hit the world and people are dying right and left.  The doctors at the CDC try their hardest to find a cure or prevention so that they can save the lives of millions.  The bacterium creates a fever and then a coma – if the patient survives they could be ok or they could turn into what they call Rippers who are basically serial killers as the bacteria messes with the person’s ability to empathize with…anything.  America is not a safe place to be.

Jax Mercury survived the fever and still has his head on straight.  Lynn Harmony, a doctor from the CDC seeks his help in trying to find a hidden research facility in the LA area.  From the moment that Jax sees Lynn he’s attracted to her but he doesn’t exactly trust her.  She just walked into their area and sought refuge and he thinks there are hidden motivations.  She’s wanted by the government, supposedly because she’s highly infected with a new strain of bacteria, but that’s a lie told by her boyfriend to get her back.

Jax agrees let her stay because he wants the cure that she may be able to find but he doesn’t plan on falling for her like he does.  She certainly doesn’t plan on falling for him.  What starts out as just some sex to pass the time turns into so much more and it may the death of both of them.

I read Rebecca Zanetti’s Sin Brothers series and liked it a lot.  When I saw this one I knew that I had to snap it up because her writing and story-telling is always intriguing.  I wasn’t wrong.  This story was fast paced and definitely a different take on a post-apocalyptic world.

Jax was one tough man.  He had been a gang member and then entered the Army rather than go to prison.  He ended up being a man with principles and when the Scorpius bacteria hit he was one to help and protect others.  He was a nurturer at heat even though he wasn’t afraid to kill if necessary to save his people.  He was always thinking of others and I loved that about him.

Lynn was definitely a quiet woman but was incredibly smart and she wasn’t afraid to go for what she wanted.  She was targeted by her ex-boyfriend and lived in fear of him but she still powered on and traveled across the states to try and find a cure.  I loved her tenacity and her understanding of Jax and his true self was pretty cool.  The two of them together was incredibly hot and refreshing respite from the world that was falling apart around them.

I really liked this book!  I liked the main characters, the secondary characters and the whole premise and plot.  I’m curious about the character, Raze, as he’s such a mystery and can’t wait for the next book, which is his, to find out what’s up with that man.  If you like post-apocalyptic stories, or even if you like a good action story than this one is definitely one you won’t want to miss.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne Basso

Posted December 22, 2015 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne BassoReviewer: Tracy
The Highlander Who Loved Me by Adrienne Basso
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Genres: Historical, Medieval
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three-half-stars

Scottish Highlands, 1329. Sir James McKenna, second son of the powerful McKenna Chief, knows he has found his destiny when he falls in love with sweet Lady Davina Armstrong, niece of the Armstrong Chief. Orphaned in childhood, Davina has always felt like an outsider, and with James finally feels that she belongs. But their plans for a happy future are shattered after a brutal attack by a band of rogues. Horrified, Davina’s overprotective family quickly shelters her from everyone—including James…

Five years later, James is a changed man. His fighting skills sharpened to perfection, he is hardened by the war and destruction he’s endured as a Scottish knight—and by the loss of Davina. Weary, he returns home—and is shocked to find Davina there. Is it too late for them to start anew, or will the past dare to lay claim to their future once more?

James McKenna is completely smitten with Davina Armstrong in the first days that he meets her.  He stays at her father’s keep for a while and they end up falling in love.  He proposes and she accepts but before they can even blink they’re attacked by brigands and Davina is assaulted.  She tells James that not only can’t she marry him now but she can’t marry any man (as she has no idea if she was raped or not).  Just looking at James brings it all back to her and she sends him away.

Five years later Davina is corresponding with James’s mother and is invited to McKenna lands for Christmas.  She has pretty much made herself a prisoner for the past five years and hasn’t even been out of the castle gates in all that time.  She can hardly stand the sound of loud male voices and she certainly can’t take being touched by one.  She is determined, however, to be a stronger woman and ends up going traveling against her aunt and uncle’s wishes.

The first night she’s there they family is eating dinner when James, who hasn’t been home in five years because of being the Crusades, returns.  He’s not necessarily happy to see Davina as he’s worked hard the past years to try and forget her.  He wasn’t successful and seeing her again brings back all of the old feelings.

When the McKenna finds out that Davina’s traveling party was attacked while en route to the castle he feels that it would be safer for her to be married and have the McKenna protection so strongly encourages her to pick either James or his brother as a husband.  Davina refuses but that doesn’t stop James’s brother Malcolm from giving it his best shot.  Davina is still in love with James and as much as James tries to stay away from her he find he just can’t.  Getting married, however, doesn’t keep Davina safe and together the pair has to find out who is behind all of the trouble.

The first part of this book, with James and Davina getting attacked was pretty heart wrenching.  I felt so horrible for Davina that she had no idea if she’d been raped or not and certainly didn’t blame her for her self-imposed seclusion.  She truly wanted to be “normal” again but her aunt and uncle (who she’d lived with since her parents died) encouraged her hermit-like behavior. I wanted her to break out of her shell because I knew that she could do it.

When she got to the McKenna keep and Malcolm started paying attention to her I wasn’t thrilled. He had no idea that she had been romantically involved with James or how deep that relationship had been.  I don’t feel she purposely tried to make Jame jealous but I was a bit miffed that she felt so comfortable with Malcolm.  He wasn’t a bad guy but he need to grow up a bit, that’s for sure.

I was happy that James finally broke out of his gruff I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude he became a really nice guy.  He was so determined to not let Davina effect him again that he was a bit of a bastard but he finally became the loving man he had been before – just able to protect her better.

Overall I liked the story.  It was a decent romance and the suspense portion of the story was enough that it kept me interested.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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