Tag: 3.5 Reviews

Guest Review: Cold Sweat by J.S. Marlo

Posted February 23, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Cold Sweat by J.S. MarloReviewer: Tracy
Cold Sweat by J.S. Marlo
Series: Heart & Endurance #1
Published by Champagne Books
Publication Date: February 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Pages: 204
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three-half-stars

Can they conquer the mountains and the past in time to save Hope?
***
Seventeen-year-old Hope Craig is deaf and training hard to make the biathlon Olympic Team. But when she is kidnapped from the groomed trails and taken into a remote cabin in the mountains, she must battle more than the elements to survive.

On the hunt for her daughter's abductor, Colonel Amelia Matheson enlists the help of Richmond Morgan, a local sheriff who once hurt her. To find Hope, Sheriff Morgan and Colonel Matheson must untangle a web of secrets, including their own.

Using her wits and skills, Hope sets out to escape the mountains and save the man her mother had sent to rescue her—a man who is not who he appears to be.

Hope Craig is kidnapped while doing her biathlon training.  Her mother is in the Army and is using all of her resources to find her daughter.  When she walks into the local Sheriff station she’s shocked to find her old college boyfriend, Rich Morgan, is the Sheriff.

Rich and Amelia broke up when Amelia graduated.  They had been dating but his rich, snobby parents didn’t like her and gave him an ultimatum – money or Amelia.  He chose the money.  He regretted his decision immediately but still didn’t go after Amelia.  He is a different man now than he was then and has changed his thinking and basically cut ties to his parents.  He’s thrilled to see Amelia again even though it’s under horrifying circumstances. He never stopped loving her and as hard as Amelia tries to deny it, she never stopped loving him either.

Rich works Hope’s case with Amelia but also another one with a local Senator.  When the two cases start to intersect Rich is shocked when all the evidence in both cases are exposed.  There are many secrets that are revealed and ones that will change everyone’s lives.

This was a good little mystery/romance.  I liked the characters in the story, even though I never really got that close with Amelia or Rich.  I did like their background story and all the secrets that were revealed, I just couldn’t get into the two of them.

Hope was a little fighter and I loved her character.  I wish that we had gotten to spend more time with her during the course of the story.  I also liked how the author twisted and bent the story so that three different cases were brought together into one.  I actually think I would have enjoyed this better as a straight mystery without bringing the romantic element into it.  I just found that part lacking.

The end was…odd, imho.  Rich and Amelia were on the road to something good but it was rushed in the end and again the romance left me unsatisfied.  If you’re looking for a mystery with romantic elements than this might be a good book for you, but not if you’re looking for a romance with a bit of mystery – at least in my opinion.

Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Review: The Winter Over by Matthew Iden

Posted February 6, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Winter Over by Matthew IdenReviewer: Holly
The Winter Over by Matthew Iden
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: February 1st 2017
Pages: 352
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three-stars

Each winter the crew at the Shackleton South Pole Research Facility faces nine months of isolation, round-the-clock darkness, and one of the most extreme climates on the planet. For thirty-something mechanical engineer Cass Jennings, Antarctica offers an opportunity to finally escape the guilt of her troubled past and to rebuild her life.
But the death of a colleague triggers a series of mysterious incidents that push Cass and the rest of the forty-four-person crew to the limits of their sanity and endurance. Confined and cut off from the outside world, will they work together or turn against one another? As the tension escalates, Cass must find the strength to survive not only a punishing landscape but also an unrelenting menace determined to destroy the station—and everyone in it.

The Winter Over was a Kindle First pick for January. I was in the mood for some creepy suspense, and I figured a novel set in Antarctica was just what the doctor ordered. Though the novel showed flashes of brilliance, in the end I felt like it tried too hard to be too many things: Thriller, Mystery and Horror. Up until about the 80% mark I was really enjoying it, but then it went off the rails.

Cass is doing her first winter-over at the Shackleton Research Facility in the South Pole. During the summer months the station is filled with scientists and staff, but during the long winter months a skeleton crew of 40-ish hunker down and keep the station going. 9 months is a long time to be cutoff from everyone and everything you know, but Cass needs some distance from her life after a major tragedy.

When a colleague is found dead just before the station shuts down for the winter, the crew is shaken. But then a series of mysterious events happen that make Cass question herself and her remaining fellow colleagues.

Iden’s writing is very engaging. It was easy to fall into the barren, stark world of the Antarctic research station. This is where the novel excels. The creepy, dark station was fascinating. Cass, the protagonist, was interesting; complex and a bit maudlin at times. She had a down-to-earth approach to puzzling things out that made even the most ridiculous plots and schemes seem easily overcome. I was rooting for her from the beginning. I wish some of the other characters had been fleshed out more. Cass’s main friend, Biddie, and a couple of the scientists were touched on. I’d have liked to have more from them.

The suspense didn’t work as well. I pegged the villain early on, as well as the circumstances behind all the mysterious incidents that kept cropping up. The author did a fair amount of foreshadowing. The story truly lost me around the 75%-80% mark. Up until that point I was interested in seeing where things were headed, but it really went off the rails and too many over-the-top things happened in too short a time. It ended abruptly. The conflict was resolved, but I wish there had been a bit of follow-up. The way things were left at the station made me highly curious about its future.

Despite my issues with the last 1/4 of the book, I would definitely try the author again.

3.5/5

three-stars

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Review: This is Our Song by Samantha Chase

Posted January 26, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: This is Our Song by Samantha ChaseReviewer: Rowena
This Is Our Song by Samantha Chase
Published by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 339
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three-half-stars

She knows him by reputationRiley Shaughnessy knew that to stand out in his large family, he'd have to go big. Making a name for himself as a musician wasn't easy, but he followed his dreams to rock-star success. But the relentless expectations of fans is not helping the slump he's in now. So of course the person who attracts him is the woman who is not impressed by fame.

Which gives Riley Shaughnessy a lot to proveEntertainment reporter Savannah Daly is completely unfazed by pretty-boy rock stars. She's just here to get her interview and write her story. But spending an entire month with the Shaughnessys is going to show Savannah a side of Riley she never could have guessed.

This was my very first book read by Samantha Chase. It was a cute read and while I liked it, I didn’t absolutely love it. I liked that I went into the book completely blind to Chase’s writing style, the characters and previous books in this series but it didn’t take me long at all to catch up.

Riley Shaughnessy is struggling, creatively and he’s feeling the pressure from everyone to get his solo album done. When his managers push him into doing an in-depth interview for a big shot magazine, Riley is stuck. He’s not all that wild about reporters, so he’s not at all happy about spending time with entertainment reporter, Savannah Daly. The feeling is completely mutual where Savannah’s concerned. She’s not a fan of Riley’s music and she’s equally unimpressed with his persona.

That all changes once they meet. There’s an instant attraction on both sides and the more time they spend together, the harder it is for them to deny these feelings. Riley’s got some issues that he’s working through and Savannah has her own stuff to handle throughout this book and I found myself smiling throughout the entire time I was reading. This book is cute, with charming characters, a colorful cast of secondary characters and an adorable romance between two characters with loads of chemistry. There were some things that were predictable, situations that had me thinking “yeah right!” but for the most part, it was an entertaining read and I’m glad that I read it.

I need to get the rest of the series added to my TBR list and then read them. I’m mighty curious about the rest of the Shaugnessy brothers.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy

Posted January 20, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra IvyReviewer: Jen
Kill Without Shame (ARES Security, #2) by Alexandra Ivy
Series: ARES Security #2
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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three-half-stars

Five brave military heroes have survived the hell of a Taliban prison to return home—and take on civilian missions no one else can. They’re the men of ARES Security. Highly skilled, intimidating, invincible, and one by one, tested again and again…  Lucas St. Clair’s prestigious family had a political future neatly planned out for him—one that didn’t include his high school sweetheart, Mia Ramon. Under their pressure, Lucas gave her up. But since surviving captivity, he’s a changed man—and a crucial member of ARES Security. When he discovers a dead man clutching a picture of Mia that bears a threatening message, his fiercest protective instincts kick in, and he knows he must go to her.   Mia has never forgiven Lucas for breaking her heart, and she’s convinced her feelings for him are in the past. But it’s soon clear that isn’t true for either of them. Now, determined to solve the crime and keep Mia safe, with his ARES buddies backing him up, Lucas will have to reconstruct the murder victim’s last days—and follow a lethal trail that leads right back to the fate of the woman he still loves…  “A fantastic blend of romance and suspense…thrilling to the end.” --Mary Burton, USA Today bestselling author on Kill Without Mercy

In Kill Without Shame, we meet yet another amazing security team of badasses, this time called ARES. The members are all former military guys who were held prisoner together in Afghanistan. Lucas St. Clair is one of them, though unlike the rough backgrounds most of them have, Lucas comes from a rich political family. He turned his back on that life for good after coming back home, and now he’s rich and successful all on his own. When he finds out his high school girlfriend Mia is in danger, he immediately rushes to her side. He left her once, but he never stopped loving her (naturally), and now he has to convince her that not only can he keep her safe but he wants back in her life for good. Mia and Lucas have to figure out who wants her dead and put a stop to their plans.

This was a fun and interesting book! As you can probably guess, it doesn’t exactly break new ground, what with the secret team, the “I dumped you for your own good but I never forgot you” that Lucas has going on, and the headstrong but smart heroine. Still, I enjoy those stories so for me this one worked. I liked that Mia doesn’t immediately roll over and let Lucas in. She doesn’t trust him at first, nor should she. Well, she trusts his skills at keeping her safe pretty quickly, but she doesn’t trust his intentions and makes him work to regain that trust. Even better, Lucas understands why she doesn’t trust him and doesn’t push her or get mad at her for her reticence. He knows he screwed up, and he knows he needs to earn her back. I did also appreciate that his reasons for leaving her originally aren’t totally bogus (just a little bit, ha). Looking from the outside in, we readers can see neither Lucas nor Mia was really ready to handle their love yet. We can see that time to mature and some tough life experiences for both of them have made them stronger and better prepared to be together.

I liked the mystery in the book. There are some pretty big twists and turns, and even though I could kind of figure out who the villain might be fairly early, that person’s motivations weren’t quite clear at first. The book isn’t action-packed but the pace was fairly steady. Unfortunately, Lucas and Mia do something profoundly stupid towards the end, which was out of character and unnecessary except as a way to allow the villain to get to them in a dramatic fashion.

For me, this was a solid book in a new-to-me series, and I’ll be looking forward to more.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Malsum Pass by Kimberly Forrest

Posted January 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Malsum Pass by Kimberly ForrestReviewer: Tracy
Malsum Pass by Kimberly Forrest
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: December 11th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
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three-half-stars

After locating some letters her mother had kept hidden from her all her life, Tara Mason journeys to the small town of Malsum Pass, Vermont to find the family she never knew she had and to discover just why her mother had kept this place such a secret.

The town seems idyllic despite the townspeople’s odd habit of staring and… sniffing? And her new neighbor Riley Cooper looks like he could have been conjured from one of Tara’s fantasies, but there is definitely more going on here than meets the eye. Tara is determined to uncover all of the secrets, even if it reveals things she never knew about herself.

Tara is excited and anxious as she drives to Malsum Pass, Vermont.  She was raised by her mother and step-father but whenever Tara raised questions about her biological father her mother shut her down quickly.  She’s always wanted to know about her roots so when her mother dies and her step-father finds letters addressed to Tara’s mother that were never opened she’s more than curious.  It turns out that she has a grandfather that’s always wanted to meet her but her mother had never even opened most of the letters he wrote.  He had finally stopped writing a few years earlier so she’s not sure what she’ll find in Malsum Pass when she gets there.

Tara’s first stop in MP is the diner where everyone seems to stop and stare at her.  She’s freaked out but when she tells the waitress who she’s looking for she sends a runner to go get Tara’s grandpa.  To say that her grandfather is happy to see her is an understatement.  He immediately takes her to the house he has waiting for her and sets her up and then she eventually meets her father (who knew nothing about her existence) and her three half-brothers.

Tara ends up loving the town and its people, although her neighbor Riley Cooper earned the name “rude, arrogant ass” right off the bat.  He is a hot, rude arrogant ass so at least he’s nice to look at.  🙂  Luckily Tara and Coop (as he’s known) become friends and they start falling in love.  There is, however, a secret about Malsum Pass that hasn’t been revealed to Tara  – most of the town can get furry whenever they want to – and when she finds out she may decide that things are just too strange for her to stay permanently.

Malsum Pass was a good paranormal story.  I really liked the family aspect of the story, with Tara finding her long-lost grandfather, father and brothers.  She finally got that sense of family that she’d never felt before. It really seemed like a nice place to live if you didn’t mind that they most of them turned into wolves.

The romance in the book was a little rushed, imho.  Tara went from find Coop annoying but hot to kissing him and then they moved right along.  Coop, when they slept together, moved really quickly to the next phase of their relationship and I felt kind of like I was on a train that had no brakes.  I wanted more build up between the two, that’s for sure.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Coop’s, ever, so I think I needed the extra time (between Tara and Coop) to get to know each other that the author didn’t include in the story.

The story had a decent flow to it overall.  It did get a bit slow in the middle where it didn’t seem like anything much was happening – just showing us day to day living – but it picked up and ended well.

Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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