Tag: 3.75 Reviews

Review: The Murder Game by Beverly Barton

Posted March 30, 2008 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Murder Game by Beverly BartonReviewer: Casee
The Murder Game by Beverly Barton
Series: Griffin Powell #8

Publication Date: February 1st 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 432
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New Game
The game is simple--he is the Hunter. They are the Prey. He gives them a chance to escape. To run. To hide. To outsmart him. But eventually, he catches them. And that's when the game gets really terrifying. . .
New Rules
Private investigator Griffin Powell and FBI agent Nicole Baxter know a lot about serial killers--they took one down together. But this new killer is as sadistic as they've ever seen. He likes his little games, and he especially likes forcing Nic and Griff to play along. Every unsolvable clue, every posed victim, every taunting phone call--it's all part of his twisted, elaborate plan. And then the Hunter calls, wanting to know if they're really ready to play. . .
But Winner Still Kills All. . .
There's a new game now, and it's much more deadly than the first. A brutal psychopath needs a worthy adversary. He won't stop until he can hunt the most precious prey of all--Nicole. And with his partner in a killer's sights, Griff is playing for the biggest stakes of his life.

I really wish I could say aloha from Hawaii again, but alas I’m back in cold-ass Boise. Why did I wear shorts back on the plane again? A fifty degree temperature difference is fairly noticeable.

Anyway, I read this book before I left and I completely forgot to review it. Strange that I would forget, no?

I’ve always liked reading Beverly Barton, eye-rolling at times though she may be. Her heroines always tend to be helpless debutantes from various southern states. They say “Mercy!” a lot and are usually sweet-tempered virgins who make stupid ass decisions when they know their lives are in danger. They get smart after they almost get killed. It tends to get rather annoying. That’s why Nic was a refreshing heroine. I can’t think of any other Barton heroines that are like Nic.

Griffin and Nic are the only people that believe that the Beauty Queen Killer was actually two people rather than one. Unable to convince anyone at the FBI, the case was subsequently closed. Only Griff and Nic shared the belief that they hadn’t heard the last of the sadistic killer. When they both get a phone call, their worst fears come to life. There are at least two women dead and another one has gone missing. The killer has given both Nic and Griff clues that could eventually lead them to his prey, if only they can decipher the clues before he strikes.

The relationship between Griff and Nic was interesting. I don’t know any southern men, but Griff is what I’d imagine a southern man to be. He enjoys taking care of women. He really has no use for feminists. Nic has always felt she had to prove that she’s as able as any man. After growing up with a father determined to mold her into the perfect girly-girl, Nic rebelled and has been proving herself ever since. Griff doesn’t understand Nic’s need to prove herself and their personalities obviously clash. Nic believes that Griff is a womanizing bastard and Griff believes that Nic is a man in a woman’s body. Their personal feelings for each other aside, the two agree to work together to bring down the man who is now calling himself “The Hunter”.

Onto the villain. He was one evil S.O.B. The problem was that I couldn’t really take a sociopathic killer seriously when his name was “Pudge”. Yes, Pudge. That was the eye-rolling moment for me in the book. I mean, really. Pudge?

Barton does a great job of of making the victims seem real(see The Dying Game). Every time Pudge would choose his victim, we’d get a small glimpse into her life. So whenever Pudge would call Nic and Griff with a clue, I wanted them to figure it out even more. Before Pudge got to them and tortured them in a way that’s almost unimaginable.

Overall I liked this book. There was one thing that really made me like it and one thing that I really didn’t like.

First what I didn’t like…the character of Griff has been built up over several books. He was always sort of an enigma. There were 10 years where he just disappeared. Once on his way to being a professional football player, he just disappeared one day. When he resurfaced 10 years later, he was a rich man. He also had secrets. We never learn the secret of those 10 missing years until this book. It was what the secret was that I didn’t like. Maybe if I knew that this was his secret all along, it would be different. However, I feel like his big secret was somewhat of a cop-out, chosen specifically because of the kind of killer that Pudge turned out to be. I can’t reveal anything else because I don’t to spoil it for those that will actually read it.

Obviously the reader knows that Nic will eventually be taken by the killer. Usually this would happen at the end of the book. What I thought made the book good was that Nic was taken in the middle of the book. That made it really interesting. It was right at the time that Nic and Griff realized that their beliefs about each other were wrong and they started getting close. That made her being taken even more powerful.

Anyone that wants to read a good romantic suspense, give this one a try.

3.75 out of 5


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Freefall by Joann Ross

Posted March 12, 2008 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Book description:

Seeking refuge and determined to pull her life back together, Sabrina Swann returns to the sleepy Southern island of her childhood summers. The last person she expects to encounter there is Zach Tremayne, the boy who stole her heart when she was a girl. There’s a haunted look in his eyes that makes her wonder what kind of man he’s become.
Zach Tremayne can’t forget the horror he saw in his last battle in Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL. Now home on Swann Island, he’s surprised to realize he can feel anything again, never mind the sudden sure of desire for this woman from his past.
And when together they discover danger waiting in Swann’s shadows, the woman who is desperate for peace and the man who has sworn off war will realize they are willing to do anything, risk everything, to protect a love neither saw coming…
Swann Island is home to both Zach and Sabrina and home is where they both go to heal from life altering events. For Zach, it was the 36 hours on an Afghanistan mountain. 36 short hours that changed the course of his career as a SEAL and his life in the military. Sabrina had just been promoted to manager of a world famous hotel chain when a terrorist bombed the hotel she was in charge of. Being buried alive changes a person, as Sabrina finds out, and she heads home to Swann Island to lick her wounds. It doesn’t take long for Sabrina to start wondering if she was safer buried under a couple tons of old hotel.
Zach has worked hard to pull himself out of the hole he was in when he first came home to Swann Island, nearly a year ago. Though he still has the occasional flashback that never fails to bring him down, Zach feels like he’s finally headed in the right direction. When Sabrina Swann returns, he can’t help but remembering the night that a 17yr old Sabrina offered him her virginity. Though turning her down was something he’d always regretted, he also always knew that it was the right thing to do.
I actually really enjoyed this book. I liked Zach more than Sabrina, but I think that’s just because I had more empathy for him. Sabrina was a so-so heroine. Not great, but not bad either. I think what made me like her was her ability to help Zach overcome his demons. She didn’t pity him, she didn’t try to smother him. She was just there.
I’ve read in other reviews that there was too much going on throughout the book and that it was distracting. I disagree. The “secondary” romance was hardly a secondary romance. I thought Ross really tied everything together nicely at the end. There was one storyline that I really can’t say too much about that I really thought was important to the book (and Zach) as a whole. The suspense in the book was definitely suspenseful. I didn’t figure out who it was until almost the end. Shocking, I know.
Ross introduced some interesting characters that I’m sure we’ll be reading more about. I’m looking forward to it.
3.75 out of 5.

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Dawn’s Awakening by Lora Leigh

Posted February 19, 2008 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Book description:

The runt of the lab she was created in, Dawn Daniels endured years of torture by her pride brother and the council soldiers. Finally freed from her torment, she’s now a Breed Enforcer, in control of her own life. Until she’s assigned to protect the one man destined to be her mate—and realizes it’sfar too easy to lose total control…

One of the Breed’s most important supporters, Seth Lawrence has spent years trying to forget Dawn, knowing that her lost innocence has made it impossible for her to get close to anyone. But suddenly neither of them can find the strength to fight the overwhelming passion between them. At least until the most brutal tormenter from Dawn’s past reappears—and threatens to destroy their new found love, along with their lives…

I’ve been a long time reader of Lora Leigh. From when the Breed series started at Elloras Cave and LL’s writing was reminiscent of a train wreck, I’ve read her. She has gotten so much better, all the way around. So in addition to saying I’m a long time reader of Lora Leigh, I’m also a long time fan.

We first met Dawn Daniels way back when Callan and Merinus first mated. On the Breed timeline, it’s been over 10 years. Dawn is an extremely tortured heroine. As the “runt”, the evil Genetics Council soldiers enjoyed torturing Dawn more than usual. When she was rescued, the torture continued albeit different than it was when she was in captivity. She knew when she met Seth Lawrence that he was destined to be her mate.

Ten years later, Dawn has done an admirable job of suppressing the urge to mate with Seth. When she learns that a hit has been put out on his life, she responds as any Cougar whose mate is threatened would. It’s only when Seth comes to Sanctuary that Dawn realizes that while Seth might be her mate, she is no longer Seth’s mate. After 10 years of knowing that Seth is the only one for her, she learns that Seth has somehow rid himself of the mating heat. Furious, Dawn decides that she won’t accept it. If she has to go through the mating heat, he will too.

And that, my dear readers, is more or less how the book continues.

Though I really admired Dawn in the previous Breed books, I found myself hard pressed to even like her in this one. I’d say 90% of any dialogue exchanged between her and Seth was either “growled”, “snarled”, or “bit out”. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understood her bitterness as well as her fear. I completely understood the attraction to Seth. What I didn’t understand was what Seth’s attraction to Dawn was. She was a total bitch. While I understand the why of it, even accepted it to a point, Dawn didn’t seem to realize what Seth sacraficed by staying away from her. Yeah, it might have been better had he not stayed away. Still. This is a guy that has stayed away because he thinks it’s the best thing he can do for the woman he loves. He has tried to move on because he knows that she’ll never be able to let him give her what she needs. He never made it about himself, it was always about what was best for Dawn. Then when she thinks he’s found happiness with someone besides her, she decides she’s waited long enough.

As for Seth, he was a likeable hero. I’m always curious to see how LL will pull off a human hero. Mating with a Breed, he’d have to be an extremely strong willed man. I think she does such a great job of creating alpha heroes that are human. You could stand Seth or Lance (Harmony’s Way) right next to any Breed male and they would not be found lacking.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I think that’s because of the secondary stories that were happening, though. If it was all Dawn and Seth all the time, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. I’m especially curious to see where Lora Leigh is going to take Cassie. I just hope that her story doesn’t get dragged out for-evah.

3.75 out of 5

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Review: Compromisng Positions by Dara Edmondson

Posted January 11, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Compromisng Positions by Dara EdmondsonReviewer: Holly
Compromising Positions by Dara Edmondson
Published by Triskelion Publishing, The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: February 1st 2007
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Meet Crystal, Patsy and Maureen - three friends in their forties trying to run the obstacle course of mid-life.

Crystal thinks she has the perfect marriage until she starts fantasizing about a handsome coworker. But when she suspects her husband is having more than fantasies about another woman, she digs in her heels and fights for what's hers.

Patsy discovers her Neanderthal husband Bud having sex with his bowling buddy and wearing women's underwear. When Bud tries to take more than his fair share in the divorce, Patsy sets out to humiliate him into submission.

Maureen has enough trouble trying to survive life with her rebellious tennaged daughter Rhianna. When she starts dating the teacher Rhianna has a secret crush on, the fur flies.

This review was originally posted at Sanctuary’s Finest, our old book blog. Since today is the digital release date, I decided to unearth it and re-post it here. I didn’t do a full re-read, but skimmed through my copy, and felt pretty much exactly the same way about it after just shy of a year since it’s original release. Oh, and I really like the new cover!

I truly enjoyed watching these three women struggle and grow through everyday life. The characters were believable and winning, and had me rooting for them right from the beginning. When I first started reading, I was dismayed to realize the women were all in their 40’s. Not that I have anything against older woman in romance novels, but it’s not my preferred reading choice. Before long, however, I was wrapped up in the story and anxious to see how it ended.

Compromising Positions is engaging and heartwarming. I found myself emotionally invested in Crystal’s marriage, Patsy’s fight for her self-confidence and Maureen’s struggle to connect with her daughter. To be honest, I was sorry it ended. I wanted just a bit more from each story, just a bit longer with each character. That doesn’t happen often to me these days, so it’s something for DE to be proud of.

There was quite a bit of humor wrapped up in the story as well. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. And though I realize it was devastating for Patsy, the image I had in my head of her husband in a peach teddy with his best friend in front of him will have me snickering for a week. Not that it was funny at the time, but looking back on it….you get what I mean.

Though the story itself turned out to be good, and I found myself enjoying it, there were times when I was pulled out of it, because something seemed off. I’m not sure if it was the writing style, or the pacing itself, but I had a hard time focusing on it, especially in the beginning.

There were a few other things that bothered me, but they’re of a more personal nature. For example, the characters had a habit of saying, “Alright? Okay.” Who does that? No one says, “Alright? Okay.” Without waiting for a response from the other party. Unless their confirming something, which wasn’t the case. And Maureen’s nickname was Mo, something else I didn’t like. But again, these are personal issues and not a reflection of the story. Just my personal pet peeves.

Overall, I enjoyed the characters and storyline very much. I’ll definitely be looking for more work from DE in the future.

3.75 out of 5 (mostly for the pacing)

You can buy it here in eBook format for the Kindle.


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Review: Sweet Return by Anna Jeffrey

Posted November 16, 2007 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Sweet Return by Anna JeffreyReviewer: Holly
Sweet Return by Anna Jeffrey
Series: The West Texas Books #3
Published by Signet Eclipse, Self-Published
Publication Date: December 27th 2012
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 222
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When renowned war correspondent and photojournalist Dalton Parker is dragged back to his hometown to face his past and handle a family crisis, the last thing he expects is to see a prime pasture of his family's Lazy P ranch taken over by hundreds of stinking chickens. There's an explanation for this and its name is Joanna Walsh, his mother's best friend.

While Joanna is a good-looking woman who's no dummy, she's the most uncompromising and infuriating woman Dalton has ever met. Still, he can't keep from admiring her caring nature and common sense. The dumbest thing he could do is try to lure her into his bed, but he's never been smart when it comes to women.

Joanna Walsh is known for trying to fix other people's problems. Believing the oldest Parker son could and should help his mother, Joanna is the one who called him to come back to town. And that turned out to be the biggest mistake she's ever made.

Once the rugged, self-assured Dalton sees her hens and her free-range egg operation, he's determined they have to go. Yet, through their daily conflicts, Joanna starts to see that while he's seen and photographed the worst of humanity and grown a hard shell, deep down he's a softie hiding a damaged heart. At the same time she dreads his abrasiveness, she can't keep from being drawn to him in a way she's never been before. Can she fix him, too?

I love the South. I don’t know why, but there’s just something so…Southern about it. The lazy Southern drawls, the laid back Southern life, the sexy Southern men. drool But even more than I love the South, I love Texas. Really. I love Texas more than cops love donuts. Yep, that much. Well, ok..let me clarify…I love romance novels set in Texas. I honestly can’t say why this is. I’ve never lived in Texas, so I can’t say I have some loyalty to it. I don’t like their football team, so I can’t claim that as a reason.  It’s just one of my quirks, loving Texas.

So when I was contacted by Ms. Jeffery and asked if I’d like an ARC of this, I immediately – upon learning it was set in Texas – said, “Yes!”. I can’t say I regret it, either.

Joanna is one busy woman. After leaving for college, her dream was to return to Hatlow, Texas, her hometown. Unlike most other people, Joanna loves the small town and all it’s residents. But to make a living in Hatlow, Joanna’s had to run several businesses at once. She owns and operates a Beauty Shop and Janitorial Supply store and also has an egg business. Yes, Joanna is in the business of chickens. Her good friend, and Dalton’s mother, kind of talked her into it, and she works hard to run both of her businesses.

When Dalton’s brother is involved in a car accident, Joanna calls him and asks him to come back home to help his mother. Dalton isn’t interested at all, but finally agrees because Joanna guilts him into it. He comes home and he and Joanna are immediately attracted to one another, but he hates her chickens and she thinks he’s a bad son with no morals…plus, do to a miscommunication, she thinks he has a woman waiting for him back home (in California).

I really enjoyed this story, despite the few misunderstandings. Right up until the end. Joanna was a good character, well developed with a strong work ethic and a good personality. She has a habit of “meddling” into other people’s lives, because she wants to fix things for them – or help them – whenever she possibly can. Although this can be an annoying trait, Ms. Jeffrey pulled it off brilliantly. Though Joanna “meddled” she wasn’t annoying or overbearing..she simply just wanted to help.

Dalton was also a well fleshed out character, though I wonder at his pigheadedness. He had very firm ideas about how things should be and that grated on my nerve a bit. For example: He hates that Joanna has chickens on his mother’s farm. So he constantly makes rude – and derogatory – remarks to Joanna about it. Plus, he thinks Joanna somehow swindled his mother and talked her into letting her have the land the chickens are on, even though both Joanna and her mother explained otherwise. He even helps Joanna care for them on more than one occasion, but still persists in calling them stupid animals and degrading Joanna for having them. There was just something inconsistent about his behavior.

That’s not to say I didn’t like him, or the part he played in this novel. I did, quite a bit. But something just seemed…off about his actions. Or perhaps I just read too much into them.

Watching him and Joanna circle around their attraction to each other – and eventual feelings – was at equal parts hilarious, frustrating and sweet. I feel they should have been more open and honest with each other from the beginning, but I think I understand why they weren’t, considering they didn’t get off on the best foot.

The secondary characters enriched the story rather from detracting from it and I felt they gave the story an extra kick just when it might have become boring or bogged down. There were a few things I felt were left unresolved, such as Joanna’s relationship with her mother, but it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t enjoy the story.

I guess my big issue with the book comes at the end. I think it was rather abrupt and not as well done as the story deserved. Towards the end middle of the last chapter absolutely nothing had been resolved between Joanna and Dalton, and had in fact gotten worse for them. As you can imagine, I found that more than frustrating. I like my HEA’s all tied up in a nice neat, tidy little bow and although the ending was Happy, it wasn’t tidy or tied up with a bow.

I don’t want to spoil it for any of you, but I will tell you the conflict isn’t resolved until the very last second and it was done well, if not quite to my satisfaction (again with needing it tied up in a bow).

Despite the ending, I truly enjoyed this book. It’s very character driven and something I’d say made me feel good, which is a powerful thing for a novel to do. For a contemporary romance, without a suspense plot to be found, it’s something I’d recommend.

3.75 out of 5

This book is available December 4, 2007 from Signet. Pre-order it here. Read an excerpt here.


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