Tag: 2.75 Reviews

Review: Cat’s Lair by Christine Feehan

Posted July 2, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Cat’s Lair by Christine FeehanReviewer: Holly
Cat's Lair by Christine Feehan
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: May 5th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General
Pages: 448
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leopard’s Prey returns to the feral underworld of her astonishing Leopard novels in an arousing new romance of forbidden animal instincts…
Cat Benoit has finally escaped the past—and the man who was the source of her nightmares. She’s off the grid, underground but watchful, and creating a new life for herself in Texas, far from the torrid dangers of her native New Orleans. She’s safe. He’ll never find her this time. Cat has to believe that. It’s the only thing keeping her sane.
Yet she can’t escape the attention of Ridley Cromer, the instructor at the martial arts dojo where Cat takes lessons. She arouses the animal in Ridley—and something feral comes to life when their body heat rises. Cat is in no position to let her guard down with anyone, especially someone who could be endangered by her past. But Ridley has secrets of his own—secrets only Cat would understand. If she dares to trust him.
From the Paperback edition.

Warning! Spoilers Abound! 

I think I read the first two books in this series then got burned out on paranormals and set it aside. I’d always planned to come back to it and when I saw this for review on NetGalley I decided to give it a go. I’d forgotten how over-the-top alpha the heroes in this series are.

Cat was raised as the ward of Rafe, a big-time crime lord in New Orleans. For years she was under his thumb, abused mentally, until she finally managed to escape. For months she’s been holed up in Texas, keeping her head down, training and working to save as much money as possible. She knows not to get comfortable or trust anyone, but she can’t help feeling a connection to Ridley Cromer, one of the instructors at the dojo where she trains. He’s strong, steady and so tender with her it’s confusing. She doesn’t want to rely on him, but when he stands up for her at work and begins following her home, she can’t resist him. Until Rafe is brought to her door again and she realizes everything she believed about Ridley is a lie. He isn’t just an instructor at her dojo. He’s actually a DEA agent working undercover to pin down Rafe and he used Cat do to it.

Eli has been an undercover agent with the DEA for a long time. He’s never had a problem separating his feelings from a mark in the past, but Cat gets under his defenses. It doesn’t help that he’s a Shifter and his inner Jaguar feels a connection to Cat, too. Especially since Cat is a Shifter as well but doesn’t realize it.  She’s been traumatized and he doesn’t want to hurt her, but he has a job to do. Only he didn’t realize his agency was using her as bait. When Rafe comes for her, Eli does the only thing he can…he kidnaps her and takes her to his home where he can protect her.

Cat opened herself up to someone for the first time in years and was betrayed. The angry and hurt she feels from that won’t easily be soothed. Plus, she’s dealing with the fact that she turns into a monster and is going into heat. Her mind and heart want nothing to do with Eli, but her body hasn’t gotten the message. Tucked away on his land with little to no outside communication, she’s forced to face her feelings for Eli, her past and her former foster father.

I’m used to the heroes in Feehan’s Sea Haven series, who are alpha males but not alphaholes. That wasn’t really the case here. The hero was a total ass. A lot of the time his thoughts and actions contradicted each other. He’d think about how sorry he was for being rude and how he needed to take care with Cat, then he’d yell at her and boss her around. His behavior is explained away as part of his nature as a shifter, but I didn’t really buy into that. He was sweet and caring in his role as Ridley, but as soon as his true identity was revealed it was like he turned into another person. He stopped being sweet and tender, and instead just tired to dominate Cat.

For her part, Cat had a lot of inner strength. I like that she didn’t give in to Eli right away, but I wish she’d made him suffer more/longer. It didn’t take her long to go back to trusting him, which was frustrating since his betrayal was a pretty big one.

The plot featuring Rafe wasn’t much to write home about. Feehan kind of follows a formula when it comes to her villains. I don’t usually mind because I love the way she write relationships, but mostly I was just bored by this one.  In the end we saw a different side to him, I think, but mostly he was a pretty one-dimensional character.

To be fair, I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy this book. It’s been so long since I read a book in this series my expectations weren’t what they should have been.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars

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Guest Review: The Knight of Ambra by Lyn Brittan

Posted May 28, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

The Knight of Ambra by Lyn BrittanJen’s review of The Knight of Ambra (Mercenaries of Fortune #1) by Lyn Brittan

Brant Jacobs is determined not to screw up his first mission as a Knight of Ambra. Sneak in, retrieve the stolen artifact and disappear. Easy…right up until a woman in yoga pants stumbles through the wrong door at the wrong friggin’ time. She’s too cute and too innocent to be left on her own, but bringing her along might put them in the greatest danger of all.

Michaela Alberto only took the stupid delivery job out of necessity. How the crap she wound up here – between the barrel of a mobster’s gun and some super secret government agent – is beyond unfair. Now they’re on the run and Brant promises her safety, but what happens to all that when he has her life…and her heart…in his hands?

I don’t even remember how I stumbled across this book as the author is new to me, but I am always looking for adventure romances so I decided to give it a shot. It wasn’t a great book, but I thought it had some potential, and it interested me enough to keep me reading to the end.

Brant Jacobs is a new member of a secret organization called the Knights of Ambra. The Knights rescue famous historical artifacts in order to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. His very first mission is supposed to be easy–buy the sword of Hannibal from a collector trying to sell it on the black market. However, when he arrives he walks into a bad situation, with a room full of guys with guns, one of whom is about to kill Michaela Alberto. Michaela has a crappy life. She has no family and seemingly no friends. Her job as a bike delivery person for a laundry service is barely keeping a roof over her head, let alone helping her pay off her debts. When she inadvertently gets sucked into this confrontation, Brant can’t let her get shot so he ends up taking her with him to go after the sword. The two have to evade mobsters and drug dealers, keep Brant’s mysterious boss off their backs, and rescue the sword.

I love the set up for this series. I adore stories about secret organizations tasked with protecting the world’s treasures (e.g., TBS’s The Librarians show, Zoe Archer’s Blades of the Rose series, etc). So I was 100% ready to love this book. Unfortunately, the world building is frustratingly light. There’s nothing but the most cursory explanation given for the Knights and what they do. Where did they come from exactly? Who runs/funds them? Why do they feel the need to protect all these treasures (and why are they worth killing to obtain)? What do they do with the treasures once they have them? I desperately wanted to hear answers to these questions and more, but so little information is given I was left without even a fuzzy understanding of the Knights other than they collect these artifacts for…something good? HUGE missed opportunity here!

The book is also pretty sketchy on Brant and Michaela’s backgrounds. There’s a little discussion of life history, but it’s brief and not particularly logical. It’s not clear why Michaela’s hauling around people’s dirty underwear for a living (or how what is presumably a rock-bottom paying job could even begin to pay for her apartment) or exactly how she ended up in such a woeful financial situation. It’s not that it’s totally unbelievable, but the book just doesn’t do much to connect any dots. We know Brant has been training to be a Knight for quite some time and wants to succeed, but we don’t really know why. These characters just drop from the sky as they are, and little consideration is given to what came before.

There’s a lot of action, but when I thought back over the book I realized there’s no complex plot. It’s basically just “chase after the sword.” Brant and Michaela have to go to Honduras in pursuit, where they also tick off some kind of drug runner. Who exactly has the sword, why they want it, or how that party relates to the drug runner is never explained. Brant has a seemingly inexhaustible (and, of course, unexplained) supply of cover stories and identities. He knows how to hotwire cars, create explosives from simple chemicals, survive in the jungle, etc. He’s very MacGyverish, which isn’t necessarily a problem but does get a little silly sometimes.

It’s not all bad, though. The relationship between Brant and Michaela kept me interested. Michaela is a blunt, straightforward person, and she’s not afraid to share her feelings with Brant. Some of the dialogue is a little contrived, but for the most part it’s funny and snappy. I like how Brant can’t help but take care of Michaela, and I enjoyed their growing attraction. I also enjoyed some of the adventure aspects, like their trek into the jungle or the way they smuggle Michaela to Honduras. It’s not realistic, but it is fun.

Maybe I’m just being optimistic because I am such a sucker for the premise and romantic adventure, but I’ll probably give the series another shot in the future. It has so much potential! I just hope we can get a little more world and character building next time.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

This book is available from Gryy Brown Press. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: Playing Dirty by HelenKay Dimon

Posted May 19, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Playing Dirty by HelenKay DimonJen’s review of Playing Dirty (Bad Boys Undercover #1) by HelenKay Dimon

As an elite Alliance agent—the joint undercover operation of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA—Ford Decker lives for the adrenaline. But when he befriends sexy property manager Shay Alexander in hopes of finding her cousin, a known national security threat, Ford crosses the line, getting to know her better . . . in bed.

After being burned by her last relationship, Shay wants to take things slow. Yet she can’t keep her hands off the drop-dead gorgeous hottie who’s moved into her apartment building. So when Ford’s identity as an undercover agent is exposed, his betrayal cuts deep. Shay never wants to see him again, but Ford can’t let her go, not when her life is still in danger. He will sacrifice everything to protect her, then be prepared to walk away from the only woman he’s ever loved, even if it breaks him.

Ford Decker is an agent for a top secret, shadowy agency run jointly by the CIA and MI6. It’s the kind of agency that is so top secret they mostly operate independently and without regard for pesky things like laws. One of their primary purposes is to thwart terrorists, which is how Ford ends up searching for a young scientist who appears to have developed and then stolen a frightening new biological weapon. Shay Alexander is the scientist’s cousin, and Ford moves into the building where she and her cousin live to keep an eye on her. He ends up getting involved with her (because of course he does), which causes him all kinds of guilt. He has to do his job and save the world from a terrorist, even though he knows it might cost him Shay’s trust.

This is one of those books I could have really loved, if not for one issue. Ford has to lie to Shay because he’s a super secret agent. It’s not my favorite situation, but I’ve enjoyed plenty of books with that set up before because once the truth comes out, everyone can move past it and work together. Very slightly spoilery bit: But here, the truth doesn’t come out until almost the very end. Ford plays Shay the whole time. Yes, he genuinely cares about her and yes he feels guilty, but yet he keeps screwing her, literally and figuratively. She gets no chance to help, no chance to get to know the real Ford, no chance to do the right thing and help catch her cousin. As Ford kept lying and lying, I went from cringing to downright frustrated. Ford is said to be such a dedicated agent that he is willing to take advantage of the love of his life to save the world because that’s how important this is. But then we’re expected to believe he isn’t quite dedicated enough to keep it in his pants, something that was in opposition to his mission directives at first. I guess horniness trumps terrorism.

When the truth finally comes out, Shay is understandably crushed. Not only does she learn the guy she thought she was falling in love with used her for the entire length of their relationship, but she finds out the little cousin she has always loved and protected is involved in something horrific. This might all be turned around if she (and we as readers) were given some time to adjust, but the book is nearly at an end by this point. I was left with all this pent up indignation and anger for Shay. She, on the other hand, changes her opinion ridiculously quickly and forgives Ford in the end. Maybe Ford genuinely loves her, but she can’t love him because she doesn’t know him!

You’d think after this diatribe my score for the book would be a zero, but I really did like much of it. (If the truth had come out a little earlier, this could have been a solid 4 grade!) Aside from the lying, I liked Ford. He does try to be a good boyfriend to Shay for much of the book. Early on I assumed the lie would be revealed somewhere in the middle, so I actually appreciated his attempts to be supportive and caring toward Shay. It was only as the end neared and I realized the reveal would be humiliating that I started questioning Ford’s caring moments and wonder whether it was all basically grooming. Was he being supportive because he loved her or to build up her trust so she’d come to him if her cousin made contact? I loved seeing Ford’s teammates and all the complicated relationships in the agency. I am definitely looking forward to the other books because I usually like Dimon’s writing and fast-paced action.

I’m starting to feel like an uptight goody two shoes because I am always complaining about lies in romances, but I have such a hard time believing in any HEA when a relationship is built on lies. I know tons of readers would have no problem with the lying in this book, so if that’s not a deal breaker for you I do think you’d enjoy it. I clearly was not the right reader for this one.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

This book is available from Avon Books. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Posted May 6, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Beastly by Alex FlinnReviewer: Holly
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Series: Kendra Chronicles #1
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: December 29th 2009
Genres: Young Adult, Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Fantasy & Magic, Social Issues, Adolescence
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-stars

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

I love fairytales in general and Beauty and the Beast in particular, but I was hesitant to read this. I’m not a big fan of YA, and I wasn’t sure how a modern retelling of a fairytale would work. I ended up enjoying the story, though I had to set aside a large chunk of disbelief to make it work.

The problem is this is written as a contemporary novel with the witch’s curse as the only fantastical element. That made the Beast’s imprisonment of Beauty harder to take, since, in the modern-day world, a young girl being forced to live in a house alone with a monster would be hard to hide. Especially since she was a high school student who attended a very posh private school on scholarship. I had a hard time believing no one noticed she was missing or went looking for her.

I wasn’t really sold on the romance. In part, I think, because this is told in first person from Kyle/Aiden/Beast’s point of view.  Lindy was essentially kidnapped and forced to spend time with him, so, while I felt a friendship form between them, I didn’t really buy into the everlasting love they supposedly felt.

Still, the journey of self-discovery the Beast took was interesting and made for a good read. His selfish, awful actions in the beginning were well written, which made his eventual transformation from evil boy to gentle beast believable and wonderful.

I did like the story enough that I may search out the movie. My daughter watched it when it was first released and really enjoyed it. I will say she really enjoyed the book when it was first released, so it may be a case of me being a bit too old for this.

One thing I’d like to note is how terrible the editing in my copy was. I downloaded this for my Nook when it was a temporarily free read, and the number of typos and misspellings was ridiculous. I’m surprised a bestseller that was optioned for film wasn’t cleaned up better.

2.75 out of 5

two-stars

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Review: Rebound by Noelle August

Posted March 26, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Rebound
Rowena’s review of Rebound (Boomerang #2) by Noelle August.

Hooking up is only the beginning of the fun in this sexy and irresistible second installment of the thrilling New Adult series, Boomerang.

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of the heap in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and knocks the tech wunderkind down, throwing his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.

Three years ago, Adam married his high school love—and then lost her in a tragic accident. Now, the heartbreak and guilt he’s tried to bury with work and women begins to take over his life.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. She’s got one chance to prove to her father that she deserves a place in his empire by grabbing control of Boomerang and taking Adam down.

But as Alison moves in on him, armed with a cadre of lawyers and accountants, she discovers there’s much more to Adam and Boomerang than meets the eye. Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? It appears so, unless Adam can forgive her for wrecking his life and trying to steal his livelihood. But Alison hopes that old adage is right. Maybe love can conquer all.

This is the second book in the Boomerang series and it follows Ethan’s (from Book 1) ex girlfriend, Alison Quick and the CEO of the company that he used to intern for, Adam Blackwood. Alison and Adam hit it off at Mia’s parents Halloween under disguise (he was Zorro and she was Catwoman) but when the fantasy ends and the masks are taken off, they’re both pretty shocked that they went as far as they did with each other…because they’re not supposed to date. Or make out. Or anything.

Ali is sent to Boomerang to get to know the staff and investigate the company for her father who is thinking about investing a huge sum of money into Adam’s new venture, Blackwood Film. She’s supposed to make sure that there aren’t any skeletons in the closet that will wreck the entire venture and she had every intention of doing her job but when she meets Adam, an attraction she wasn’t expecting dodges her at every turn and makes it hard for her to keep their relationship strictly professional.

Adam Blackwood has worked hard to get to where he is today. He’s a young gazillionaire who knows and has what it takes to succeed. Boomerang, his dating company is doing really well and he’s got a staff of employees that are more like family than co-workers. Life is good for him, except he’s still having trouble moving on from his last relationship with Chloe. Chloe who will stay with him forever because he holds himself responsible for the way that their relationship ended. It’s not something that he ever talks about with anyone but when he meets Ali Quick, he finds that he wants to know her more and more…and most importantly, he wants her to know him. He hasn’t wanted anyone to know him since Chloe and it’s unnerving for him but the more time he spends with Ali, the more he wants to change their relationship.

It’s the same with Ali. She knows that she’s messed up in life and is trying to rebuild her father’s trust in her but there’s something about Adam that draws her to him and it’s something that she’s finding harder and harder to turn away from. So when her Dad asks her to find out some real dirt on Adam, you (as the reader) wonder when she finally gets that dirt, will she spill his secrets with her Dad or will she keep them and love him?

I don’t remember much about Adam or Ali from Boomerang (Book 1). I only remember that Adam was the boss and Ali was Ethan’s ex-girlfriend that cheated on him so going into this story, I was looking forward to getting to know them better.

Adam was exactly what I expected. He was driven, strong and had a good head on his shoulders. I thought he would be a total bad ass considering he was so successful for someone so young (he’s like 23) but he was a pretty stand up kind of guy that tried to look out for those that matter to him. From his younger brother Grey to the people that worked for him, Adam was good to everyone. He wasn’t perfect but he was close enough. His attraction to Ali was cute and I liked seeing him struggle with keeping it in his pants so that he can get her father to invest in his film company.

Ali was, Ali. I don’t really know what to say about her other than she was a good person who went through a tough time and made some poor choices. I didn’t really connect with her because she had rich girl problems that I can’t in any way associate with but I liked her. I just never came to love her. She was one of those heroines that was fine but not one that would stay with me.

The story started off pretty good. I enjoyed Adam and Ali’s meeting at the Halloween party as Zorro and Catwoman. I enjoyed the banter between the two of them at that party and the shenanigans they got into in the garage but the actual story moved a bit slowly after that. I kept waiting for the story to pick up and when it finally does, the book is ending and Ali does something that pissed me right off. I thought Adam was too quick to forgive Ali but it is what it is.

I liked the secondary characters. The loyalty that Adam’s employees had for him was great and I really liked meeting Adam’s partner and Adam’s brother. They were lively characters that were a great addition to the book. Overall, the book was good but it wasn’t the best book that I’ve read. It was light and fluffy and I think maybe I was in the mood for something a little…more.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

This book is available from William Morrow Paperbacks. You can purchase it here and here in e-format.

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