Tag: 3.25 Reviews

Review: The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard

Posted May 14, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: The Woman Left Behind by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly
The Woman Left Behind (GO-Team, #2) by Linda Howard
Series: GO-Team #2
Also in this series: Troublemaker, Troublemaker, Troublemaker, The Woman Left Behind (GO-Team, #2)
Published by William Morrow
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun...or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina—who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice—making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.

Linda Howard is a long time favorite of mine, but her more recent books haven’t worked as well for me as her older ones. I went into this with some trepidation, but I ended up really enjoying it. Jina’s strength and determination really came through as she tried to earn her place on the GO-Team. Her snarky attitude and dry wit really carried the book. What might have been a story slogged down with minor details was instead fun and fresh because of Jina. Her constant muttering and threats, plus her sheer strength of will, had me cheering for her from the beginning. I enjoyed Levi and the other members of the GO-Team, as well as the political aspects, though that part of the story definitely took a backseat to Jina’s training.

Where I struggled was Jina’s decision at the end of the book. It was jarring and extremely problematic considering the content of the book. I’d have rather half the book been focused on her training and the other half her doing missions with the team.

View Spoiler »

There were some questions left unanswered and I hope we’ll see more books in the series in the future. Jina’s strength of will and determination made this an engaging read. The ending was problematic and pulled down my overall grade.

3.25 out of 5

GO-Team

three-half-stars


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Review: Dark Desires by Eve Silver

Posted May 8, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Dark Desires by Eve SilverReviewer: Holly
Dark Desires by Eve Silver
Series: Dark Gothic #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: December 5, 2016
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Gothic, Historical Romance
Pages: 352
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three-half-stars

"A dark and delicious gothic. I gobbled it up in a single sitting. Oh, how I have missed books like this!"--New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he's a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances ... and the murders.

With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she is falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man ... or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?

..".beguiling gothic tale..."--Bookpage

Dark Desires by Eve Silver is the first book in her Dark Gothic series. It’s currently free for Kindle. I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for ages. I love Gothic novels. I was looking for something dark and decided to give it a try.

Darcie Finch is the daughter of a wealthy merchant who lost his fortune. Though she has the manners of a lady, she was betrayed by the person she held most dear and she’s now penniless and alone. Forced to be a maid-of-all-work, she accepts a position with Dr. Damien Cole, despite the dark rumors she’s heard about him. When he discovers her artistic abilities, he makes her his assistant. As she gets to know the doctor she struggles with her doubts and suspicions about him, and his strange comings and goings. The more she comes to care for him, the more she wonders if he’ll be her savior…or the death of her.

Dark Desires had a good creep factor, with the dark doctor doing nefarious things, creepy carriage house and pounding rain storms. There’s even a nod to Jack the Ripper. I wasn’t as fully invested in the characters and I’d hoped to be, and I kept waiting for a big twist that didn’t come. I enjoyed the romance, but I wish the characters had been developed a bit more.

Though this wasn’t a favorite read, I will be continuing on with the series. I’ve heard great things about Silver. I’m sure things only get better from here.

3.25 out of 5

I love these covers.

Dark Gothic

three-half-stars


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Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Posted March 13, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. ReizinReviewer: Holly
Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 9th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
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three-half-stars

When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid.

"You, Tom and Jen, don't know one another-not yet-but I think you should."

Jen, an ex-journalist who now works at a London software development company, spends all day talking to "Aiden," an ultra- sophisticated piece of AI wizardry, helping him sound and act more human. But Aiden soon discovers he's no longer acting and-despite being a computer program-begins to feel something like affection surging through his circuits. He calculates that Jen needs a worthy human partner (in complete contrast to her no goodnik ex boyfriend) and slips illicitly onto the Internet to locate a suitable candidate.

Tom is a divorced, former London ad-man who has moved to Connecticut to escape the grind and pursue his dream of being a writer. He loves his new life, but has yet to find a woman he truly connects with. That all changes when a bizarre introduction from the mysterious "Mutual Friend" pops up in both his and Jen's inboxes.

Even though they live on separate continents, and despite the entrance of another, this time wholly hostile, AI who wants to tear them apart forever - love will surely find a way.

Won't it?

A thoroughly modern love story that will appeal to fans of The Rosie Project and Sleepless in Seattle, Happiness for Humans considers what exactly makes people fall in love. And whether it's possible for a very artificially intelligent machine to discover the true secret of real human happiness.

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin is a rom-com with a touch of speculative fiction. I wouldn’t classify this as sci-fi, but there are elements.

Jen is a former magazine writer who was hired to help Aiden, an AI created to take over work in a call-center for an electric company, work on language and social skills. They spend their days discussing pop culture, watching old movies and going over the news. What Jen doesn’t know is that Aiden has escaped the lab onto the internet, and he’s been watching her. Concerned about her broken heart after a breakup, Aiden decides to find Jen the perfect mate.

Meanwhile, another AI named Aisling, has also escaped the lab. She’s currently fixated on Tom, a divorcee starting life over across the pond. She isn’t sure why she’s so fixated on him, but she can’t help but watch him. Though she’s mostly annoyed at Aiden’s bumbling attempts to find Jen love, soon they’re conspiring to get Tom and Jen together. Only matters of the heart aren’t as easy for a machine to manage as one might think – especially when they realize they’re being hunted by their creator.

I’m conflicted about this book. I’m fairly certain this was meant to be a romantic comedy, but I can’t deny there was a serious creep-factor as well. Aiden was at times adorable and creepy. That he “escaped” onto the internet and watched Jen without her knowledge or consent was freaky. He also took it upon himself to exact “revenge” on her cheating ex. I think it was meant to be funny, but I was mostly just freaked out. On the other hand, it was clear he’d developed friendly “feelings” toward Jen, and I thought his love of old movies and romantic novels was adorable. The other two AI’s, Aisling and Sinai, weren’t featured as prominently on page as Aiden. Sinai was an attack-and-destroy type AI, so “he” was creepier than them all, but I admit Aisling also had moments.

The middle was pretty slow, and I got frustrated with the lack of forward progress once Aiden and Aisling were “caught” in the internet. The ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been, but that may be because I was impatient for it.

Happiness for Humans is a funny, sweet romance with an underlying creep factor. When I finished the book I kind of wanted to hug Aiden and also go live off the grid somewhere.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Posted March 1, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn FrankReviewer: Holly
Hunting Julian (Gatherers, #1) by Jacquelyn Frank
Series: Gatherers #1
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: January 1st 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 332
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three-stars

As an Advocate for his colony, Julian Sawyer travels to Earth to bring back the Chosen--women who possess energy potent enough to help revitalize his people. The stunning, silver-clad beauty who strides into his club one night radiates a sensual magnetism unlike any he's encountered, and Julian realizes that Asia Callahan is not just Chosen, she is his kindra: his one true mate.

For months, Asia has tracked the beautiful and mysterious Julian across the country, convinced that he's behind the disappearance of her sister and a dozen other women. She's prepared to believe he's a ruthless killer, but when she presents herself as bait, she discovers that the truth is far more shocking. Taken to a strange, hazardous realm she never knew existed, Asia will face the ultimate choice--between abandoning the life she's always known, and forsaking a passion as dangerous as it is powerful.

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This book was originally posted on February 16, 2011.

I picked this up on a whim out of my TBR pile. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a sci-fi novel featuring aliens from a different plane of existence. Despite my lukewarm feelings about the premise in the beginning, I admit the story sucked me in the more I read. I enjoyed the world. Frank’s description of Beneath and the creatures that inhabit it were well done. I also enjoyed Julian. Though it was hard to take his actions in the beginning, I think Frank did a fairly credible job of redeeming him.

Asia was harder to take. Although I understood her actions in the beginning (if I’d been kidnapped I image I’d have tried to escape/flout authority, too) they became increasingly hard to excuse away as the novel progressed. Although that isn’t my main issue. My main issue was her insistence that she “wasn’t made for forevers and happily ever afters”. That’s it. That was all the resistance between her and Julian. It wasn’t the fact that she was from Earth and he wasn’t, or that he brought her to his world without her permission, or that his people needed her to feed them energy, all of which I could have understood. Instead it was just “eh, I’m not a HEA type of girl”. She based this on nothing more than the fact that she was jaded and hadn’t ever had a lasting relationship. Considering the amount of resistance she put up, that was a very flimsy excuse.

Beyond that, there were several holes in the plot. The idea that Julian and Asia had to have sex in order to feed his people energy was somewhat outlandish, but so was the rest of the plot, so I could set that aside. It was harder to set aside disbelief over other things, such as the way Julian and Asia constantly fought with each other. That hampered the progress of the romance, so I didn’t find their feelings for each other believable.

I did like that Frank added more depth to the “destined” angle of the plot. Though Julian and Asia were “kindra”, meaning soul-mates, they didn’t immediately fall in love or accept they were meant to be together forever. Well, Julian did, but that’s to be expected since he’d grown up with the knowledge that it might happen. The fact that Asia resisted simply because it was “meant to be” was refreshing when compared to many other novels featuring the same trope.

Having said that, I’m willing to cut the novel a little slack because it’s the first of a new series. I did enjoy the world enough that I plan to read the next entry, Stealing Kathryn.

3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton

Posted February 20, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Shot on Gold by Jaci BurtonReviewer: Rowena
Shot on Gold (Play by Play, #14) by Jaci Burton
Series: Play by Play #14
Also in this series: Holiday on Ice, Rules of Contact, The Final Score (Play by Play, #13), Changing the Game (Play by Play, #2)
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: February 13th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-stars

In the new Play-by-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Score, opposites attract when a figure skater and hockey player lace up their skates--and go for the gold...

Will "Mad Dog" Madigan is making his second trip to the Winter Games, and he couldn't be happier. Hockey is his life and playing for the U.S. team is a privilege. Then he meets U.S. figure skater Amber Sloane. She's beautiful, ambitious and driven--everything Will desires in a woman. He would love to show Amber how hot life off the ice can be.

Amber has skated her entire life, sacrificing everything in the hopes of one day winning gold. Now she's competing for the third and final time. She intends to win, and nothing's going to get in her way--until she meets Will. He's an irresistible charmer, and before long Amber is wondering if this sexy hockey player is the perfect guy to show her some moves outside the rink.

But after all the medals have been awarded, Will and Amber will have to decide if what they have together is just a fling or a real shot at true love.

Shot on Gold is the fourteenth book in the Play by Play series by Jaci Burton and it was a sweet romance. Both the hero and the heroine were so sweet and so polite to each other and they were super nice and all of that but that’s pretty much it.

This book follows Will “Mad Dog” Madigan and Amber Sloane as they fall in love during the Winter Olympics. They’re both competing in the Games and they meet in the athlete’s village and their romance takes off right from the very beginning.

Will is at his second Olympics with the US Men’s Hockey team and this time around, he wants to experience the whole thing with a clear head and make actual memories. His first time around, he won the silver medal with his team and he remembers a lot of alcohol, lots of women and lots of partying. He’s older now so he wants to savor the experience and he wants to help his team win the elusive gold medal. He’s serious business this time around so when he meets Amber Sloane, he’s definitely interested and wouldn’t mind a little female company during the two-week international tournament.

Amber Sloane is competing in her last Winter Olympics. She’s an ice skater who has always put skating above everything else and while she is a very decorated athlete, she doesn’t have a gold medal and she doesn’t have any friends. She’s twenty-four years old and she vows to have some fun during these Olympic games because she deserves a bit of fun after all of her hard work. She’s ready to compete for that gold and she is very confident that this is her year to finally win it. Her one friend is a Canadian snowboarder and they’re roommates again so Amber knows that if anyone can help her let loose a little, it’s Lisa. When Lisa takes her a party, Amber meets Will and she’s just as attracted to him as he is to her and she’s determined that he will be the person that she gets cozy with and he doesn’t disappoint.

Over the course of the two weeks that they’re both competing in Vancouver at the Olympic Games, Will and Amber fall into a relationship that is pretty hot and super steamy. They get closer and closer and they spend as much time as they can together and everything is just peachy. Being together makes them happy and it shows in their performance in the games. Will is killing it on the ice and so is Amber. Everything is perfect. Nothing is ever wrong, except for a few mean words from Amber’s Mom…and I think that was my problem with the book. There weren’t any real conflicts in the romance and the conflict that we do get, happens after the games and to be honest, it was pretty weak.

This book reads like a fairy tale where everyone is accepted and everyone wins a gold medal and while that’s fine, I wanted more meat from the story. The romance itself worked but outside of that, everything was pretty tame. Everyone got along, there was no drama between any of the athletes and I expected…more. I finished this book wanting more. I would have enjoyed the setting and the environment a whole lot more if something actually happened instead of happy, happy, joy, joy, all the time. So while the romance was sweet, the rest of the story low key needed more umph for me.

Play by Play Series

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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