Tag: 2.0 Reviews

Guest Review: Betrothed by Wanda Wiltshire

Posted April 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Betrothed by Wanda WiltshireReviewer: Tracy
Betrothed (Betrothed #1) by Wanda Wiltshire
Series: Betrothed #1
Published by Pantera Press
Publication Date: July 1st 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 341
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two-stars

Amy Smith has always known she was different. Severe allergies, fragile health and taunts at school have made life an endurance test for the adopted seventeen year old.

When Amy starts having strange dreams, everything changes. Night after night, she becomes trapped in a shroud of black - a void of silence but for a male voice calling for a girl named ‘Marla’.

One night, the darkness clears, Leif is revealed and Amy discovers that she is the girl he has been searching for.Immediately the two are swept up in a passionate yet forbidden love. Leif isn’t like the other boys Amy knows. Breathtakingly gorgeous, he speaks with her telepathically … not to mention, he can fly …

Desperate to find a way to be with her, Leif tells Amy of the terrifying threat to his Fae homeland, the danger to the people, and of an unforgivable betrayal to his King. He urges her to seek her true identity…. But Amy is confused... isn't it all just a dream?

Amy has always felt different than the other kids in her school.  She has severe allergies and can hardly eat anything.   The kids at school have always taunted her except for a small core group of friends – especially her best friends Jack and Hilary who are always there for her.

For the last few months Amy has been dreaming about being lost in a dark place with a voice calling for a girl named Marla.  When she finally meets this man in her dreams she falls in love almost immediately.  He says he is a prince of the Fae and that Amy, whose real name is supposedly Marla, is Fae as well.  He tells her that she is his betrothed and that they will be together in the Fae kingdom as soon as he physically locates her.  Of course there is one glitch…his father, a king, forbade Marla’s parents from having children and she did anyway and then hid her away.  The prince, Leif, thinks that he managed to get the decision overturned.

Marla is understandably confused by everything she hears so searches for her true identity.  It actually points to the fact that Leif could be telling her the truth.  She also believes he’s a figment of her imagination so when he shows up and she finds that he’s actually real she’s blown away.  Now that Marla knows who she is she can’t wait to get to the Fae kingdom and be “normal.” Of course there are many things standing in her way.  Her human adoptive parents, the whole “I really wasn’t supposed to be born” thing and then of course Leif’s father who hates her who will stop at nothing to keep Marla out of Telophy.

Betrothed had a decent blurb and I was interested in the premise when I read it. Unfortunately there ended up being too many things about this book that just didn’t gel well with me.

My main issue was Amy/Marla – throughout the book.  She drove me batty with her indecisions.  With Leif is was insta-love.  Of course in the Fae the men are born and then send part of their soul out to find their soul mate, or in this instance betrothed, and then she’s born.  There is no greater love in their culture.  I don’t normally mind insta-love but the fawning and falling all over Leif was ridiculous.  Maybe it was her age (17) but whatever it was had me rolling my eyes on a regular basis throughout the book. Leif I didn’t mind so much because he definitely more mature than Marla was.

I also had a huge issue with Leif’s father – one of the more important kings in the Fae land.  The author made it so that every woman loved the king and wanted to be with him.  They couldn’t refuse, either.  What a load of rot.  That drove me crazy, especially when the author had the king using his kingly influence against Marla.  It was just downright creepy and disgusting and kind of icing on the cake for this book.

I kept thinking that the end would make it all come together in the end but that didn’t happen either – we were left hanging with Leif and Marla completely apart (because of the bastard king).  So not only do we get a frustrating story, the author ends it with no HEA.  Ugh!

Overall I found the book…frustrating.  The writing wasn’t horrible but I really disliked the story a lot, sorry to say.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars

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Review: The Hero by Donna Grant

Posted December 28, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Hero by Donna GrantReviewer: Rowena
The Hero by Donna Grant
Series: Sons of Texas #1
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320
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two-stars

THE HERO’S HOMECOMING

Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget – his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After over a decade away, Owen is returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that puts him face-to-face with Natalie and an outside menace that threatens everything he holds dear. He’ll risk it all to keep Natalie safe – and win her heart. . . .

Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughman’s again. With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, she holds close to the only man she’s ever loved…

The Hero is the first book in the Sons of Texas series and it’s the first book by Donna Grant that I’ve ever read. I just finished watching 13 Hours when I requested this book for review on Netgalley so I went into this book, not really knowing what to expect but hoping for a good story. The story started out great. Owen Loughman’s a Navy SEAL who gets taken off a job and flown home, where he finds his Aunt and Uncle were murdered and his Dad is missing. He also finds his ex-girlfriend on the premises and has a whole bunch of questions.

Natalie works at the Russian Embassy. She is thrown into the mix when she was approached by Owen’s father for information on a super secret project that Natalie has no idea about but when the code word comes across her desk at work, later on, she’s really thrown into the thick of things and seeing Owen again after all of these years, doesn’t help matters.

There have been a lot of years that separated Owen and Natalie. They’re not the same people they were when they were in high school but that doesn’t seem to stop them from wanting the hell out of each other and while that would have been fine and dandy, this book suffered from the inappropriate lusting. I’ve spoken about it before after reviewing some other romantic suspense books and I just can’t get on board with danger being a turn on because I don’t understand it. The last thing on my mind is sex when I’m covered in blood but hey, that’s just me. There was a lot of stuff that didn’t make sense to me as I continued on with the book and in the end, I just don’t know if I’ll be continuing this series because shock of all shockers, this book ended on a cliffhanger. Ehh. I’m not a fan of that either so while the book started off well, it didn’t really end well and too much happened that had me rolling my eyes down the street so I’m giving this one a 2. That’s a bummer.

Grade: 2 out of 5

two-stars

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Guest Review: One Rogue at a Time and Rich as a Rogue by Jade Lee

Posted August 25, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One Rogue at a Time and Rich as a Rogue by Jade LeeReviewer: Whitley
One Rogue at a Time by Jade Lee
Series: Rakes and Rogues #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
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two-stars

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…

A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose

As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.

Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide

Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.

One Rogue at a Time started off cute enough. I really loved Bluebell’s wit and her ability to turn a situation in her own favor, the relationship she had with the others in her village, and the portrayal of village life in general. They had a nice mix of supportive and “gotta do to survive,” and everyone was very practical about it, and just I loved that place, I wish we’d seen more of it. It was a nuanced attitude that I’m not relaying very well, sorry.

I even liked Bluebell and Bram together at the start. They had some nice banter and cute moments. But then Bram got…well, rapey. He literally straight-up says “I’m going to sex that girl until she’s ruined and her intended husband will have nothing to do with her and then leave.” It was just a really, really disturbing line that gave me so many creeps and the book never quite recovered from that. He went on to force her into kisses and intentionally manipulate and seduce her, and all the while his thoughts on what constitutes a “lie” were…well, extreme is probably too mild a word for it. This guy had issues, and not the fun kind that you can at least pretend will be cured by love. For most of the book he was unacknowledged villain material, and I didn’t like it.

But I kept on with the series and read As Rich as a Rogue, because I was in a Regency mood and it was handy. It had a similar heroine, but Peter was a much better hero, and all around I’m very glad I kept reading. Like Bluebell, Mari is sharp and witty and able to turn things in her favor, and she has ambitions that are period appropriate. I think I liked that most about her character; her logical approach to finding a husband wasn’t demonized. It was recognized that being a wife in that period was a job, or could be if done right, and she wanted to work. So she had to find a husband whose life and career would give her the challenge she needed, and that was a good thing within the book. I love that; it’s an aspect of the time period that doesn’t get appreciated enough.

This book was also practically meta with one theme that’s common in Regency romance: a woman’s passions being suppressed by society but when she lets them out (with the help of the hero) she becomes a more complete person. Which is fine, and I totally get why that’s a popular theme (coughcoughdamnpatriarchy) and I’m not even complaining about it here. Just I was very aware of it on a meta level because it was very, very frankly discussed. So, for me, that was a smidge distracting. Not sure if it would be for anyone else.

Rating: 2 out of 5 and 4 out of 5

two-stars

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Guest Review: Man of Action by Janie Crouch

Posted June 24, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Man of Action by Janie CrouchReviewer: Jen
Man of Action by Janie Crouch
Series: Omega Sector: Critical Response #4
Published by Harlequin Books
Publication Date: June 21st 2016
Genres: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 288
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two-stars

He was a man of action—especially when it came to protecting his new undercover partner…

At nineteen, Andrea Gordon's life was forever changed. After proving herself instrumental in a bank hostage crisis, she became one of Omega Sector's top agents. Four years later, her skill at reading people is unrivaled—until she meets fellow profiler Brandon Han. Paired together to track a serial killer who has been targeting at-risk women, the two become entangled beyond the case. Their mutual attraction deepens as they get closer to the truth. But when Andrea's own sordid past surfaces, they will both be forced to question everything about the assignment…and each other.

I have been reading the Omega Sector and Omega Sector: Critical Response books by Janie Crouch for a while now, and while they’re not exactly ground breaking, they’ve been solid Intrigue series, so I was looking forward to the newest title. While I appreciated the somewhat ambitious themes the author took on in this book, I got so damn frustrated with the hero. The more I thought about the book, the more angry I got at him, so here I am to review rant.

Omega is an elite federal law enforcement team that handles “special cases.” I’m a little fuzzy on their precise mission, but they seem to help local law enforcement with tricky cases, hunt down terrorists, you know the drill. In this book, Agent Brandon Han and Andrea Gordon are assigned to help catch a serial killer. Andrea is not technically a field agent, but she’s called into this case because of her incredible abilities to read people and because the murders are taking place in her hometown. Brandon is the agency’s top profiler and a literal genius, and he is not happy about being partnered with the very young, standoffish Andrea. For her part, Andrea is not happy either because her hometown holds nothing but terrible memories, and she’s terrified someone at Omega will find out about her past. Andrea has to come to terms with her past, and Brandon has to help her, until he screws it all up (more on that later).

Andrea is interesting and my favorite part of the book. She’s only in her early twenties but she has achieved a lot, even if she wouldn’t agree. She grew up with an abusive uncle, running away from home when she was still a teen to live in her car and work menial jobs until finally getting a job as a stripper to support herself. When she accidentally helps Omega catch a bank robber using her uncanny ability to read people, they recruit her. She has major insecurities born out of her abusive childhood and the fact that she’s dyslexic, so to protect herself she acts standoffish and remote to her colleagues. She dropped out of high school, though once at Omega she got her GED and started on some college courses. You can imagine how a very young, very shy, and very intimidated young girl would feel way out of her league at an elite law enforcement agency, especially one that employs geniuses like Brandon. Seeing Andrea start to recognize her talents and give herself credit for all her very hard won successes was awesome!

Right from the start, though, Brandon is an entitled, selfish dickhole. He instantly judges her as an ice queen because she keeps to herself. He thinks she’s lazy because she doesn’t read the case notes he gives her right away (instead she stays up half the night in her hotel room so she can read them alone and concentrate, so fuck you Brandon). He assumes she won’t be prepared to meet with local police and is shocked when she shows she does in fact have some skills. But lots of books start out with a case of misinterpretation, and it didn’t bother me until he just keeps up the judging. It all comes to a head when Andrea reluctantly goes undercover as a server at a strip club to try to help catch the killer. Based on a few minutes simply watching her (not, you know, a conversation with her or anything), Brandon decides she’s enjoying herself too much and therefore she’s a slut who likes other men to leer at her. What the actual fuck?! He knows she hated her past and only went undercover to stop more murders, and even if she DID like it screw him because there’s nothing wrong with it! Andrea, who is already massively ashamed of her past and miserable that she’s forced to be back doing the work she hates, even temporarily, is heartbroken by his withdrawal and the disdain he’s obviously communicating. Keep in mind, this is AFTER he learned about her abusive past and how she ran away, AFTER she’s confessed her shame and insecurities, AFTER they’ve slept together several times, and AFTER he claimed to understand and admire her.

Now, I want to be fair and point out that the book itself wasn’t slut shaming Andrea. Many characters go out of their way to highlight that there is nothing wrong with what she did, and in fact she should be admired for surviving. My issue was specifically with Brandon. I grade books, in part, on how much I believe in the couple and in their compatibility. I did not believe Brandon deserved Andrea–he deserved a swift kick in the junk, and she deserved a much better hero. I might have gotten over his behavior if a) it had taken place earlier in the story before he really knew Andrea, b) it had just been a minor thought that his genius brain quickly discarded because clearly everything he had learned about Andrea contradicted this interpretation, or c) he had done a major, massive, epic grovel to make up for it. Instead it happens later in the book, the big man-baby whines about it for days, and he only offers up a weak AF apology after two separate people had to put him in his place. Moreover, the whole thing felt like an awkward device to add conflict. Brandon can pick up on the most minute details of facial expressions and behaviors–he should have been able to read Andrea. I guess we’re supposed to think it’s because his judgment is clouded by love, but nope, I’m not buying it.

I love reading Intrigues specifically because I like the shorter length sometimes, but in this case I actually think this story really needed more pages. Besides the relationship conflict, there was a lot going on in this book, with a complicated murder investigation, confrontations with people from Andrea’s past, and this tension between genius and “darkness” in Brandon that really didn’t get fully explored. I wanted to see more of Andrea’s self-actualization, and I wanted to see more of Brandon genuinely supporting her in that process. I think with some more pages to develop and more time for Brandon to actually show learning and growth, I would have believed in this HEA. While I’ll happily keep reading the series, this book left me thinking Andrea could do so much better.

Grade: 2 out of 5

two-stars

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Guest Review: To Trust a Wolf by Danielle Hardgrave

Posted June 23, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: To Trust a Wolf by Danielle HardgraveReviewer: Tracy
To Trust a Wolf by Danielle Hardgrave
Published by Caldwell Publishing
Publication Date: June 3rd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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two-stars

As an archivist in a small museum, the biggest thing Helen Jurist has to deal with each year is the Annual Donor Gala. When her museum becomes a flurry of activity, due to the nearby discovery of a large Viking hoard, Helen finds the additional responsibility more of a pain than an honor. She doesn’t know anything about Vikings, or what makes the hoard so unusual. She just wants to get through the gala without her boss catching the drapes on fire.

Nobody from the public is supposed to have access to the find, but try telling that to Rune Helsen. A handsome Dane with wolfish desires, he walks around like he owns the place. He’s Helen’s worst nightmare—if only her traitorous body wasn’t so attracted to him.

But Rune has a secret, one that brought him to see the artifacts for more than just scholarly interest. Unknown to Helen, there’s so much more at stake than just pulling off a successful evening. A whole world she never knew existed, a world of vampires and shifters, stands on the precipice—and there’s something in the Cutler Hoard that could burn it all down.

Helen works at a museum as an archivist and is deep into getting the museum’s Annual Donor Gala off the ground.  It’s just around the corner but the museum takes on a collection that’s very large and appears to be a Viking hoard – found in Vermont of all places.  When her boss interrupts her day to tell her that she needs to play tour guide to a donor who wants to see the hoard she’s a bit peeved to say the least.

Rune Helsen is the only good thing about the tour that Helen enjoys.  He’s a bit odd and seems to be quite interested in several pieces in the hoard but she puts the oddness aside since he’s so hot.  When Rune asks her to accompany him to the gala she accepts.

While at the gala strange things start to happen.  Helen meets a guy who seems to be asking a lot of questions and Helen’s confused because things she doesn’t want to tell him keep coming out of her mouth.  Then Rune disappears and when she finds that her museum key card is missing from her purse she’s just sure he’s out to steal something.  What she thinks will be a simple robbery turns into Helen seeing giant wolves and men with fangs fighting and Rune acting like it’s just another day after he shifts from wolf to man when it’s anything but normal!

This book had a decent premise and one that caught my attention but it didn’t end up being quite as good as I’d hoped.

My first issue with the story was with Helen.  She was almost the epitome of a boring museum employee.  She just didn’t have a whole lot of personality.  It’s not that I didn’t like her it was that I really didn’t care one way or the other about her which isn’t good at all.

Rune came on the page and he added a bit of flavor but I couldn’t figure out what his angle was.  When eventually his story came out it was a bit discombobulated.  It wasn’t that the story was bad or confusing I just didn’t see what the point of it all was.  When I thought everything would be explained the story just ended and I was left wondering what the heck I just read.  I definitely don’t like that feeling!  I couldn’t tell, when all was said and done, if the author intended for this to be the first book in a series and we’re gonna get more later, if that was the author’s version of a cliff-hanger or if that was just it. I definitely needed more closure by the end of the story and I just didn’t get it.  So while parts of this story were decent other parts weren’t so good and the entire novella ended up just being an ok read.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars

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