Tag: 2.5 Reviews

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso

Posted November 20, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico RossoReviewer: Jen
Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
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Goodreads
two-half-stars

When intimidation turns to deadly force,

It’s time for Frontier Justice.

If ruthless developers want Mariana Balducci’s land, they’ll have to kill her for it. And they nearly succeed—until Ty Morrison foils her attacker. The sexy San Francisco cop is part of a secret organization called Frontier Justice. Mariana is tough, but she realizes she can’t win this fight alone. And when bullets fly, Ty realizes battling bad guys is easier than fighting their sizzling attraction.

Look for 6 new titles from Harlequin Intrigue every month!

Harlequin Intrigue: Edge-of-your-seat mysteries, fearless romance…resourceful women and tough-as-nails men fight for survival.

Mariana Balducci is being pressured to sell her family’s California apple orchard to developers. When the developers start switching from hard-sell business tactics to all-out threats and violence, Mariana doesn’t know if she can hold out…until Ty Morrison swoops in to lend support. Ty doesn’t offer much information about himself or why he’s there to help, but Mariana needs him if she’s going to get the developers off her back and preserve her family’s heritage. Ty has an alternate agenda, however, and when Mariana finds out she may never forgive him.

There were many things I liked about this book, and many things I didn’t. I did actually like the romance between Mariana and Ty. It moves too fast like so many romantic suspenses, but they do seem to have a great connection. I believed that they’d be a good couple going forward. I like that there was a lot of action in the book–there is a lot happening and it kept me interested. I also liked Mariana and Ty. Both were kind of broody but were smart and driven. Plus, the people in this world are diverse in a casual and realistic way, not entirely white as other Harlequin books would have you believe.

Unfortunately, the book also suffers from some of the same criticisms I often have with Rosso’s books. He focuses much more on description and inner thoughts than on dialogue, and his description is sometimes overwrought and kind of silly. Take this passage where Ty is describing eating an apple from Mariana’s orchard:

Savoring it this way strengthened the connection he’d been feeling with her all night. Her work, part of herself, was in his mouth, intimate and close. An apple had never made his blood rush like this.

A little dramatic, especially when he just met hours ago her, no? It’s not bad exactly, but it does get a little old as the story goes on. The plot also has way too much that doesn’t make sense. It’s never properly explained why these seemingly legit land developers would suddenly become willing to kill someone, beyond “money.” Mariana also just lets Ty into her life immediately, with very little mistrust or hesitation. Girl, you have no idea who he is or why he is there, and you barely ask any questions! It’s dangerous and, more importantly, draws out Ty’s lie of omission for absolutely no reason. 

Worse, the larger story arc that I assume will be continued in future books makes no sense. There is almost no explanation given for Ty’s secret mission. He wants to rebuild an organization his ancestors helped found, called Frontier Justice, that…got justice? On the frontier? I really had no idea what that meant beyond that they “helped.” And now Ty, who is AN ACTUAL POLICE OFFICER I might add, wants to create a vigilante justice organization. In this book, they do some pretty illegal stuff to help Mariana, too. He doesn’t seem to plan to quit his day job so how exactly would that work? I don’t know if there was just not enough attention given to world-building/explanation or if the whole premise is poorly designed, but either way, I rolled my eyes a bunch.

It probably sounds like I hated this book, but I definitely didn’t and I really struggled with wanting to give this a 3 instead of 2.5. I was disappointed in parts of the plot, for sure, but I think (?) this will be the start of a new series. I hold out some hope that future books will work better on that front. Still, this book has a different vibe and tone than your average Harlequin Intrigue, and I appreciate that. I appreciate Rosso’s voice, even if I don’t always love his stories, which is why I am glad to see him bringing something fresh to Harlequin.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Posted October 23, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny ColganReviewer: Rowena
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe (At the Cupcake Cafe #1) by Jenny Colgan
Narrator: Michelle Ford
Series: At the Cupcake Cafe #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: April 14, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 427
Length: 12 hours, 54 minutes
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two-half-stars

A sweet and satisfying novel of how delicious it is to discover your dreams

Issy Randall can bake. No, Issy can create stunning, mouthwateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe's bakery, she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. She's much better at baking than she is a filing so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open her own little café. But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all of her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster.

Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is about how life might not always taste like you expect, but there's always room for dessert!

Thanks to Holly, I’m really getting into the swing of this audiobook business. I signed up for the Audible Romance Package and I have been going to town on listening to multiple books a week while I’m at work. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is one of the books that I listened to and honestly, it was a bit of a snoozefest. I actually enjoyed the narrator’s accent but the story she was reading was super slow. It felt like nothing happens throughout most of the book. Izzy gets sacked, opens up a bakery and is trying to figure her way out with that whole thing at the same time that she’s starting to develop a crush on the guy from the bank but still hanging out with her ex boyfriend that did her dirty.

Now that I think about it though, there was a lot of stuff going on but none of it was all that interesting to me and because I wasn’t reading along in the book, I kept getting confused at the different POV’s thrown at me. It gave me a case of whiplash and still, I wasn’t fully invested in the characters, what was happening and the romance. I think because Izzy kept bouncing back to her ex-boyfriend who proved at the beginning to be a total asshat, it killed any excitement I had for her to move on to the bank dude. This had a bit of a chick lit feel to it because the actual romance took a back seat to everything and everyone else. At least that’s the way that it came off to me. I was much more invested in those recipes and am really curious about the Nutella cupcakes.

I also thought the ending left a lot to be desired as it felt rushed and was more a string that readers pulled to get more books. Though I didn’t hate this book, it was just okay to me and I doubt I’ll be finishing out the series.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: Be a Good Girl by Tess Diamond

Posted October 5, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Be a Good Girl by Tess DiamondReviewer: Jen
Be A Good Girl (FBI, #3) by Tess Diamond
Series: FBI #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
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Goodreads
two-half-stars

In Tess Diamond’s third romantic thriller, an FBI agent teams up with the one woman who can offer the salvation he needs as they search for a serial killer . . .

As the head of an elite FBI unit, Special Agent Paul Harrison seems to have everything figured out, but beneath the surface, an internal war is raging. When he returns to his rural hometown for the first time in a few years, he’s faced with the memories that led to his losing the love of his life.

Fifteen years ago, Abigail Winthrop’s best friend, and Paul’s girlfriend, was murdered by the infamous serial killer Doctor X. Now an investigative journalist, she’s determined to find the truth. But when Abigail discovers evidence that clears Doctor X, she realizes the real killer is still out there and is striking again when local young girls begin disappearing.

Turning to Paul for help, Abigail joins forces with him. As an undeniable attraction develops between them, they must heal deep wounds from their past—and find a relentless psychopath who could extinguish their hopes for a future together.

It’s always hard to write a review for a book that just didn’t grab your attention–this is one of those books!

This book doesn’t exactly break new ground, with the hero and heroine coming back together to investigate their teenage friend’s murder and some new similar murders. Abby is an investigative reporter and Paul is an FBI agent, which sounds like a recipe for a book I would like. And it’s true that there were a few thrills, especially in the flashback scenes and some of the intense scenes of present suspense. Abby is fairly smart and dogged in her investigation and her belief that something wasn’t quite right with the old investigation.

The rest of the book is pretty forgettable, however. Paul gets virtually no character development in this book, though apparently, he has appeared in earlier books in the series. Without reading those, though, I didn’t really understand much about him beyond that he’s suffering from PTSD. Most importantly, there isn’t much romance in the book. I just didn’t feel a connection between Abby and Paul. For instance, Paul thinks about his mental health issues but there are no conversations with Abby about it. They don’t talk about much beyond the case or their past history. They’ve each been living separate lives for a long time, but there’s no real catching up. Shared history and trauma is not enough to build a relationship, and I couldn’t buy it.

I was interested enough to keep reading and not put the book down, but not interested enough to muster up much enthusiasm for it when it was over. Perhaps earlier books in the series would be a better introduction, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading Be a Good Girl if you’re not already invested in this world.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

FBI

two-half-stars


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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: The Breakup by Erin McCarthy

Posted September 26, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Breakup by Erin McCarthyReviewer: Rowena
The Breakup (The Jordan Brothers #2) by Erin McCarthy
Series: The Jordan Brothers #2
Also in this series: The Hookup (The Jordan Brothers #1), The Hookup (The Jordan Brothers, #1), The Breakup
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-stars

Can two wrongs feel oh-so-right? This bride is about to find out—with the bad boy who makes an epic breakup worth her while.

Bella: I know I’m a princess. I’m used to getting what I want. But all I ever really wanted was a husband and a family. Unlike my sister, Sophie, I’ll never have a brilliant career to fall back on. So what’s a bride to do when she learns that Prince Charming is a cheating snake just a few days before her fairy-tale wedding? With my fiancé begging for another chance, the only way to save the wedding is to even things out with a little revenge sex—and local bartender Christian Jordan seems like the right man for the job.

Christian: If gorgeous Bella Bigelow thinks sleeping with me will somehow lead to happily ever after, I’m not going to turn her down. The guy she wants to marry is a jerk, and her sister is fooling around with my estranged twin brother, Cain. So what’s the problem? Besides falling for a woman who doesn’t know what she wants out of life? All I want to do is whisk her away from that church, take her to a cabin in the woods, and act out all our naughtiest fantasies. And I may just get the chance. . . .

The Breakup is the second book in the Jordan Brothers series and it follows two characters from The Hookup that I just could not care about. The siblings of the characters from The Hookup. I really enjoyed the first book and wanted some closure where the rift between the two Jordan brothers were concerned so even though I wasn’t a huge fan of both Bella and Christian before, I still wanted to read this book.

When Bella discovers that her fiance is a lying scumbag, she can’t go through with the wedding but the dingbat waits until the last possible second to end things so Christian has to come and sweep her off to his family cabin to hide away for a few days. Christian and Bella have been circling each other, an attraction between them but nothing came of it because Bella was getting ready to marry Brad. When her situation changes, Christian jumps at his chance to prove to Bella that she’s not bad in bed (as Brad would have her believe).

Honestly, this whole book was kind of ridiculous. I was frustrated with Bella for most of the book because she’s kind of whiny and acts like a brat and I’m too old for that shit. I loved her sister’s personality in the first book, her wit and how strong Sophie was. Bella didn’t get the same kind of love from me that Sophie did. Sure, she’s strong and she really does come into her own but I didn’t completely shake my annoyance with her so my enjoyment of the book suffered because of it.

Christian kind of came off as a fuckboy in the beginning and in the end, he was a lot better but he wasn’t my favorite either. So, we finally find out the truth about what happened between him and Ali (his brother’s ex) and how the rift between him and Cain became a thing and while I was able to forgive him for that, he continued to piss me off. The way that he chose to handle things had me shaking my head and even when the end comes and everything is all happy go lucky again, I thought it happened too fast and I wasn’t completely satisfied. I almost DNF’d this one but even though this book pissed me off, it was still readable and I couldn’t give it up until the end. Still, grrrr.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

Jordan Brothers

three-stars


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