Tag: 2.75 Reviews

Guest Review: Deception Lake by Paula Graves

Posted March 11, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

22716089Jen’s review of Deception Lake (The Gates #4) by Paula Graves.

While his rodeo days have come and gone, cowboy Jack Drummond is in for the ride of a lifetime…with life itself hanging in the balance. An unexpected encounter with his old flame, Mara Jennings, triggers a series of events that Jack never could have predicted. There’s just one problem: Mara isn’t the same woman Jack remembers. She looks like Mara. And sounds like Mara. But reignited passions aren’t enough to hide the fact that she’s harboring a big secret—and hiding out from an even bigger enemy. Now, learning the truth might be the only way to stay alive. Or it could tear them apart—permanently.

I have been a big fan of Paula Graves’ Harlequin Intrigue series for a while. I say singular “series” because even though they technically have different series titles (Cooper, Cooper Security, Bitterwood P.D., etc) they loosely connect and read like one long, meandering chain of stories. (You don’t *have* to read them all in order though–there are connections but you can easily follow each book alone.) I was excited to review Deception Lake because while I’ve been reading these books for a while, I haven’t reviewed any here, and I figured this was a great time to share my love for Graves and these books. While I still think suspense fans should try Graves, I regrettably didn’t enjoy this book much.

I’m actually going to keep the summary to a minimum because it’s tough to say much without spoiling. Basically, the hero, Jack Drummond, is an newly sober ex rodeo cowboy who bumps into an old girlfriend he misused, Mara Jennings. He wants to make things right with her now, but she dismisses him. When he follows her to try and make amends, he interrupts some people trying to hurt her, and they both end up on the run trying to figure out who is after her and why.

I honestly didn’t much like either Jack or Mara. Jack is trying to do the right thing and atone for his past sins, but he doesn’t have much depth to him, and he basically stalks Mara and forces himself into her situation. It was hard to determine his motivation, other than perhaps guilt at his past behavior. Plus he has no business going on the run with Mara–he’s a cowboy and knows nothing about cloak and dagger stuff. I found Mara downright unlikable, too. She’s mean and dishonest, and she has an immature “I’ll do it myself” attitude in the face of forces clearly more powerful than herself.

I didn’t get any chemistry between Jack and Mara, either. They argue, but it didn’t feel like witty banter to me, just tense disagreement. There’s no sex and little sizzle. In fact, there’s not been any sex in the few recent books I’ve read in the series (there were in earlier ones!), but until this book I’ve never felt like the sex was missing because the suspense aspect makes sexy opportunities scarce. But here, it seemed like a gap. Mara tries to seduce Jack several times, and the two are stuck alone in a hotel room for much of the book with nothing to do. It seemed out of character for both of them NOT to have sex. I never really bought into them as a couple. Add in a plot that seemed kind of far-fetched, and this one mostly lost me.

Don’t let this book dissuade you, though! I actually started reading the series sort of in the middle, with the Cooper Security books. I haven’t yet gone back to read everything that came before that or all of the new Gates spin off, but I can say that the Security books were awesome, and I enjoyed most of the Bitterwood P.D. that came after, too. There are plenty of strong heroines with cool jobs like CIA and FBI agents, police detectives, etc. They’re set in the south, and Graves clearly knows and loves the land because the books have a strong sense of place. If you like romantic suspense, especially the style of short action-packed stories Intrigue is good at, go check out the earlier Graves titles. Just don’t start with Deception Lake.

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

Reading Order:

This book is available from Harlequin Intrigue. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Review: Black Wolf’s Revenge by Tera Shanley

Posted March 9, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Black Wolf’s Revenge by Tera ShanleyReviewer: Holly
Black Wolf's Revenge by Tera Shanley
Series: Silver Wolf Clan #2
Also in this series: Silver Wolf Clan, Black Wolf's Revenge, Brand of the Pack
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: February 17th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, Contemporary
Pages: 119
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two-half-stars

He’ll risk it all to bring her home.
Morgan Carter witnessed her sister’s murder, has been turned into a werewolf and is now raising her young niece. Then her fiance, Greyson Crawford, proves he wants to be with her for the wrong reasons, and she knows her life couldn’t be any stranger. Devastated, she retreats to her cozy house in the city with her sister’s little girl, Lana. There, they’ll have normalcy, and maybe eventually, even happiness.
But Morgan’s the only living silver wolf. Her uniqueness—the ability to produce werewolf offspring—means, without Grey’s protection, she’s unknowingly put herself and Lana in deadly danger. Other werewolves want to claim her for their pack, and she’s the easiest, most tempting prey ever.
When they strike, Grey has to find her and rescue her before it’s too late. Not so simple a task; he has only the uncontrollable beast inside him, Wolf, and an unlikely pack of allies he’s forced to rely on. Can he get to her in time? And if he does, can he convince her he’s there for the right reasons, saving them both?
38,201 Words

I’ve been on a shifter kick lately, so when I saw this on NetGalley I requested it right away.

This is the second book in the series. I didn’t read the first book and I feel like I missed a lot by having skipped it. I would recommend reading them in order.

I liked the world and the basic premise. Fated mates can be great or terrible, but I thought the concept here was interesting. They’re meant to be mates, but they have to accept each other for the claim to stick.

The execution lacked a bit of finesse. Mostly the heroine was stubborn and made bad decisions based on assumptions and emotion, rather than fact or logic. She spent the majority of the book being angry at the hero for something he didn’t do, while putting herself and her young charge in danger. While I understood her need for independence and her desire to have a mate who cared for her for her, not just because she needed to be taken care of, I thought she took things too far. Especially since she decided she was ready to move past her fears and let the mating progress, but still held her silence for days.

I liked that the hero was in love with the heroine right from the start, and he didn’t question his desire for them to be together. Though I did wonder at his quickness to pull away from her. He felt rejected, which is never an easy thing to get past, but he didn’t pursue the relationship like I expected him to since he was a) alpha and b) in love.

I also struggled a bit with the writing itself. It was choppy and I never really engaged with the author’s voice. The choppiness of the writing may have attributed to my confusion over the way both characters acted.

Enough interested me that I may try another book – either the first one in the series or the next book. I liked the premise and I have a feeling if I go back and read book one, some of the actions in this book will make more sense.

2.75 out of 5

Reading Order:

two-half-stars

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Joint Review: Hero by Samantha Young

Posted February 5, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Joint Review: Hero by Samantha YoungReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Hero by Samantha Young
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: February 3rd 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 416
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three-stars

The emotional and unforgettable new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series.
Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that her mother and she weren’t his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.
Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair.
Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again....

Rowena: Remember when you made me read those two chapters from Hero and it wasn’t coming out for months and I was so mad at you because we had such a long wait?

Well, we finally read the book so what did you think?

Holly: I do remember. I wanted the story so bad! Too bad I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.

Young has written a couple of my favorite books, but she’s also written a couple I didn’t care for. This falls into the latter category.

Rowena: I wouldn’t say that I hated the book or that it’s even a book that I didn’t care for, I was just sorely disappointed in Caine. Like, a lot.

He drove me absolutely crazy in the ENTIRE book. A lot of the crap that he put Lexi through made me want to punch him in the nose, trip him so he falls on his face and then throw the people’s elbow on his dumb ass. I get being mad at the guy who put your family through hell but to treat Lexi the way that he did for things she didn’t have any knowledge of or part in, made it really hard to like him.

Holly: Caine drove me insane, too. I understand he was hurt at a young age by the people who should have protected him, but I thought he punished Lexi for too long as well.

Rowena: It’s weird because I love Samantha Young’s books but her characters do a lot of stuff that piss me off. In this book, it was Caine. When they’re at that ball and he gets SO jealous and the humiliation Lexi was already feeling with her grandparents and then for Caine to treat her the way that he did? OMG, I wanted to kick him in the balls. I saw red.

Holly: I agree. I love Young, too, but sometimes her characters drive me mad. Like On Dublin Street. Everyone loved that book, but both Joss and Braden drove me crazy.

Rowena: I liked Joss and Braden but they did get on my hot damn nerves in their book. Especially Joss. OMG, she drove me up the wall

Holly: That scene at the party with her grandfather made me so mad. Caine’s ridiculous actions afterword made me want to smack him. There were a couple other times he made her feel small that bothered me, too.

Rowena: I’ve got to say that I was highly disappointed in Lexi’s grandfather. The way that he felt he had to hide his relationship with Lexi to protect her from the family? That didn’t sit right with me. So he was fine with hurting Lexi as long as he protected those bunch of assholes? Ugh.

Holly: I was disappointed in her grandfather, too. I get wanting to protect Lexi from those in his family who were jerks, but it was clear he was more interested in protecting himself and his family from scandal than protecting her feelings.

Even more, I thought Lexi let him treat her poorly for too long. She should have stood up for herself or walked away long before she did. I admired her resolve to right the wrongs done by her family to Caine in the beginning, but the longer she stayed with him while he heaped verbal and emotional abuse on her, the more respect I lost.

Rowena: Lexi probably did stay too long but for some reason, I never got mad at her. I liked her. I understood what she was trying to do and respected it but while I was reading the book, I was more focused on being pissed off at Caine than I was that Lexi stuck around for the abuse for so long. I can see it now but then? Not so much.

Holly:  I was frustrated by Lexi the frist time through, but when I re-read the book in order to discuss it with you, she drove me batty. I wanted to like her, but..no.

Rowena: Was it because she stuck around so long for the abuse that you didn’t like about Lexi?

Holly: I think my problem with Lexi had more to do with her constant determination to not let a man walk all over her like her mother, all while she was doing what she swore she wouldn’t. She let Caine get away with far too much for far too long.

Rowena: Ha, you’re right. She did swear she wasn’t going to be like her Mom all the while she was …being just like her Mom.

Holly: What did you think of the mystery/suspense plot?

Rowena: As for the mystery/suspense plot, I had to take a minute to remember what that was so that should tell you a little about what I thought about it. It was okay but not why I kept reading the book. I kept reading the book trying to see when Caine and Lexi were going to get their crap together.

Holly: The mystery/suspense plot was kind of silly, IMO. I don’t know why it was included. It kind of seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t really serve a purpose. other than providing additional conflict. I mean, it’s not like it got them together, you know?

Rowena: The mystery-suspense part of the story wasn’t needed because you’re right, it didn’t really serve a purpose or move the story along but I wasn’t mad that it was included. If anything, it just made me more mad at the Grandpa.

Holly: I liked the resolution with Lexi’s dad, though. I thought that was pretty realistic considering the circumstances.

I didn’t dislike all of it. When Caine wasn’t pushing Lexi away they had great chemistry and I liked watching them open up to each other. I also really liked Caine’s neighbor and his best friend. It just wasn’t enough to save the story for me.

I’m going to give it a 2.75 out of 5.

Rowena: Like you, I didn’t dislike all of the book. It was an interesting read. One that kept me going even when I was rip roaring pissed off at Caine, Lexi’s Grandpa but I did enjoy the scenes between Caine and Lexi when Caine wasn’t been an asshole and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Caine’s best friend and neighbor. They were great additions to the story.

Overall, this book wasn’t the most perfect of reads but it wasn’t the worst either. I think that people will love this book but I was a bit let down by Caine and that sucked.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Holly’s Grade: 2.75 out of 5
Rowena’s Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars

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Review: No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia Kyle

Posted December 31, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia KyleReviewer: Holly
No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia Kyle
Series: Grayslake Bears #1
Published by Celia Kyle
Publication Date: January 6th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 264
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two-half-stars

 The first day of Mia’s new life in Grayslake, Georgia is not going as planned. The house her grandfather left her looks ready to crumble, boxes cover every inch of the floor and—oh—there’s a bear cub in her pantry. It gets worse when the cub’s uncle comes by and busts out his fur and claws while on her front porch. Then it gets loads better because suddenly there’s a hot hunk of badge-wearing werebear on her lawn ready to rescue her. Yum. Of course, he has to ruin things by trying to take the cub out of her hands. Ha! The cub is hers… No ifs, ands, or bears about it.
Werebear Ty can’t seem to get the curvaceous, delectable Mia to understand that, even if she is one-quarter werebear, she isn’t keeping the cub. Ty is the Grayslake Itan, the clan’s leader, and the little werebear is going home with him… Unless it isn’t. It’s her smile. If she’d stop smiling and being gorgeous, his inner-bear would support him and Ty would get his way. But the beast wants to make their woman happy, so it’s perfectly content to let her do as she pleases. Then things change. Threats arise, danger comes close, and Ty demands she return to his den. No ifs, ands, or mates about that.

This is a free download. It started out really strong, but went downhill after a few chapters.

When Mia’s grandfather passed away he left her his house in Grayslake, GA. He was a bear shifter and so is her father, but her mother was human so, though she’s half werebear, she can’t shift. She’s looking to start over and doesn’t want to get tangled up with the local bears. When she finds a bear cub in her pantry and his abusive uncle shows up to claim him, she lands right in the middle of clan business. When the sexy sheriff shows up to help, Mia can’t deny her attraction to him. But she isn’t interested in starting something with anyone, much less the clan’s Itan (leader).

Ty doesn’t believe in happily-forever, but he sure wouldn’t mind doing some happy-right-now with the sexy Mia. His bear is in full agreement, especially after the way she protected the cub. Except it isn’t long before he realizes he wants more from Mia than a causal fling..and he’s willing to do whatever he has to to keep her around.

I think what this book really needed was a strong editor. I liked the first couple chapters where Mia rescued the cub and she and Ty go to know one another, but from there the story got choppy and the characters started waffling too much.

Ty is supposed to be the Itan of the clan, which makes him the leader. He’s supposedly the strongest, toughest bear in the clan, but he didn’t really act like it. He roared a lot, but he let those who served under him walk all over him. There was a plot against him and Mia and he didn’t pursue it. Supposedly Mia didn’t listen to him because she was the exception to the rule, but no one listened to him.

Mia seemed like a strong, independent woman. She didn’t let Ty walk all over her and kept her head when things got crazy. Except they drugged her so she didn’t lose it when things started going bad and she admitted she was close to being hysterical.It wasn’t written that way, but I was supposed to buy it based on what she said?

Eh..if the story had been cleaned up and the inconsistencies taken care of, this would have been a stellar read. As it is, I barely managed to finish it.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars

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Joint Review: No Attachments by Tiffany King

Posted September 30, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: No Attachments by Tiffany KingReviewer: Holly and Rowena
No Attachments by Tiffany King
Series: Woodfalls Girls #1
Also in this series: Misunderstandings, No Attachments, Misunderstandings, Contradictions
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: October 22nd 2013
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, General
Pages: 304
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two-half-stars

Ashton Garrison walked away from her current life to escape the one thing she’s unwilling to face. She knows her decision may be selfish, but in the end, leaving will be far less painful for everyone. Now she has one goal: live life to the fullest with no regrets and no attachments. What Ashton doesn’t count on is how fate always seems to find a way to screw up any good plan.

Nathan Lockton specializes in locating a mark. He’s done it over and over again—no attachments and no emotion necessary. What he thought was a routine lost-and-found job has forced Nathan to deal with something he has always ignored—his feelings. He’s never fallen for a target, yet he’s never met anyone like Ashton. Now deep in a dilemma, Nathan must decide to follow his heart, or complete the job he was hired to do.
Love can come when you least expect it. The question is: If the odds are stacked against you, how far are you willing to go for the one you love?

Rowena: This was just okay. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. 

I don’t know what it was but the whole embarrassing themselves with the other witnessing it got to be too much for me. The first couple were cute and made me laugh but as they continued, I kept rolling my eyes because really? Was it necessary?

Holly:  I really liked the getting-to-know-you stage of the book. I thought they were both sweet and cute.

Where the story fell apart for me was once their secrets were revealed.

Rowena:  I’m with you with the secrets being revealed. I wasn’t a fan of The way Ashton handled her secret. I hated that she took the choice away from Nathan and then I felt like a bitch because of, well, her secret. I felt like because of what her secret was, I wasn’t allowed to think she was a bitch and that annoyed me.

Holly: You’re nicer than me. I didn’t feel bad for thinking she was a bitch. What she did was wrong. But I was also annoyed with him for letting her push him away. He should have fought harder.

Rowena:  I wasn’t a fan of that either. It was dumb that he was just waiting for her to wake up and smell the I want to be with him coffee. Especially since it was months and months before it finally happened.

I did like Ashton’s father and Fran from the store. Hell, I even liked Tressa and Britni. They were fun. But there was just something missing from the entire story because even though I read it and enjoyed parts of it, I never fully fell in with the story and I’m not sure why. I never fully connected with either Ashton or Nathan and when I finally closed the book, I was already moved on to the next book. There was no book hangover with this book.

Holly: Same here. I wasn’t impressed with either of them at the end. I actually read Brittni’s story first. I liked it a lot better than this one. I’m definitely interested in Tressa’s story, too. This one just fell flat. Meh.

Rowena: Who’s Brittni’s man? Did her book come before or after this one?

Holly: Brittni’s hero is someone she met in college. No Attachments is Book 1 and Brittani’s book, Misunderstandings, is Book 2.

I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5. I didn’t really dislike it so much as I just wasn’t excited about it.

Rowena: I’d give it a 2.75 out of 5.

two-half-stars

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