Series: Search and Rescue

Guest Review: In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle

Posted October 11, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: In Safe Hands by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #4
Also in this series: Fan the Flames, Gone Too Deep
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
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four-stars

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...
It's all come down to this...
Daisy Little has lived in agoraphobic terror for over eight years. Trapped within a prison of her own making, she watches time pass through her bedroom window. Daisy knows she'll never be a part of the world...until the day she becomes the sole witness of a terrible crime that may finally tear the Search and Rescue brotherhood apart for good.

I gotta say, there’s something really satisfying about a 4-book romantic suspense series. Some series go on indefinitely and that can be fun too, but sometimes it’s nice to get a story arc that crosses multiple books but then actually is resolved. I have been excited about this series from the beginning, and while this final book wasn’t my personal favorite in the bunch, it was still a great ending to an intriguing storyline with a likeable cast of characters.

A note about spoilers: I’m not going to discuss spoilers here (even though I really want to!), but even knowing the hero’s name is a kind of spoiler after the bombshell that ended book 3, since you’re not sure at first who’s involved. If you don’t want the name, skip my review!

For those who haven’t been reading along, the larger story involves a small town in Colorado where a dead body was found in the first book. Slowly throughout the course of the books, other crimes have happened, including unexplained fires, people going missing, the involvement of local gangs and drug criminals, and more. The heroes and heroines each get sucked into the mystery and have been working to solve it. This time the heroine is Daisy, who has a severe phobia about leaving her house after she experienced a traumatic event as a teenager. She has not left her house even once in 8 years, and she has few friends beyond Chris, the police officer we met in previous books. In a kind of “Rear Window” twist, Daisy sees something suspicious from her window, and telling Chris about it sets off a series of events that puts her in danger and starts to tie together all the crimes that have been happening in town.

Somewhat unusually, the books in this series are all written from the point of view of the heroines, which means the women better be compelling! This is the reason I struggled with book 2–I didn’t find Rory as relatable as the other heroines, and at first I was worried that might be the case with Daisy too. I quickly grew to enjoy her, though. She’s smart and determined and funny. She’s attracted to Chris but she doesn’t sit around pining for him, and she isn’t angst-ridden or always feeling sorry for herself. She eventually makes changes in her life for herself, not for Chris, and she builds up a support network beyond him. I did wish her mental health issues were handled a bit more realistically. Things start out ok, but by the end everything is resolved a bit too easily. Chris is another strong silent hero (albeit not as silent as George from book 3, haha). His character isn’t quite as fleshed out as I might like, but it’s difficult to get that without hearing his point of view. It’s clear he has a strong sense of duty and is devoted to Daisy, though. I also liked the way he supports her without trying to fix her life for her.

Again, I won’t give spoilers but…..OMFG you guys! The villain turns out to be super villainous in this book and it made me so sad and upset and also a little confused about how this person could have decided this was the best course of action to pursue. Once again, I felt like things were resolved a little too easily and conveniently, but the ending was still absolutely satisfying and tied up the mystery’s loose ends.

I loved this series, and I hope anyone else who enjoys romantic suspense will give it a shot, too.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

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

four-stars

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Guest Review: Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle

Posted August 3, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 8 Comments

Guest Review: Gone Too Deep by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #3
Also in this series: Fan the Flames, In Safe Hands
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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four-half-stars

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...

George Holloway has spent his life alone, exploring the treacherous beauty of the Colorado Rockies. He's the best survival expert Search and Rescue has, which makes him the obvious choice to lead Ellie Price through deadly terrain to find her missing father. There's just one problem-Ellie's everything George isn't. She's a city girl, charming, gregarious, delicate, small. And when she looks up at him with those big, dark eyes, he swears he would tear the world apart to keep her safe.

With a killer on the loose, he may have no choice.

Ellie's determined to find her father no matter the cost. But as she and her gorgeous mountain of a guide fight their way through an unforgiving wilderness, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a dangerous man in search of revenge. And they are now his prey...

Another Search and Rescue book! Woo!

In book 3, we finally get to learn more about the mysterious George Holloway, the extremely silent but skilled member of the dive team and the best in the area at mountain survival. Ellie Price comes to town looking for her dad, Baxter Price, who is an older man tied up somehow in the murder plot that’s been running through the series. She believes Baxter is trying to hide out at a family cabin in the wilderness, and she hires George to take her there since it’s several days hike from an accessible road. Their expedition ends up going sideways, and pretty soon both Ellie and her dad are involved in a danger tied to the same murder that set all the events into motion.

As with the first two books in series, this one is told primarily from the heroine’s point of view, but here we do get a few very brief scenes from George’s point of view. This is necessary because there are a few times where Ellie is incapacitated/unavailable so George’s perspective is needed and also because George speaks so very little that without a peek into his perspective it would be difficult to know what his deal was! Taciturn would definitely be an understatement–I feel pretty confident saying I personally have never read a book with a hero who talks less than George. For example, he had several extended interactions with Ellie, including her explaining her task and hiring him to guide her, before he utters even a single word. Now THAT’S a guy who doesn’t like to talk.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t sweet and caring! He is the kind of hero who shows his love through taking care of someone, and over time, he starts to do all those little actions to care for Ellie. He essentially spent his entire adult life alone after his dad died when he was 17, and once he meets Ellie he has to acknowledge he’s lonelier than he realized. He’s also inexperienced with women (minor spoiler: virgin hero alert!), but it’s handled well because the book takes time to build their attraction and explores their physical relationship slowly. George is a freaking adorable mountain man who’s big, hairy, and impossibly tender underneath his rough exterior, and I loved him for it. And he does warm to Ellie and start talking eventually. He’ll never be a chatterbox, but Ellie clearly makes him want to connect and reach out to someone. She brings out the best in him, and her patience and sensitivity were the perfect match for him. They truly made one of the cutest romance couples I’ve read about in a long time.

I really love the humor in this series, and this book was no exception. My favorite part was the first half of the book, when Ellie and George are hiking through the wilderness and she is trying to figure out how to handle this huge guy who grunts more than he talks. But the biggest comedy gold in the book comes once again from Lou, the heroine from book 1. I am madly in love with her and the more I hear from her, the more she rises to the top of my “favorite heroines” pile. These books are just so rich in unique characters you can’t help but want to get to know better.

I desperately want to talk about the ending because..like, WHOA. I will restrain myself and not spoil it, but just know when I read it I let out a desperate and loud “Noooooo!” It’s a major twist I am conflicted about, and it’s making me question wtf is going on in this town.

There were some minor issues that stopped this book from shooting straight to 5 stars, like some weird handling of a guy who (it’s implied) may be an attempted rapist. (Rest assured there is no rape in the book, but the implication given is that this one character might do such a thing if given the chance, which I thought was kind of a heavy issue to work in but then largely ignore.) Thank goodness these books are coming out in fairly quick succession (In Safe Hands comes out Oct 4) because I do not want to wait to find out how this all ends. I am thoroughly hooked.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

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

four-half-stars

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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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