Tag: 4.25 Reviews

Review: Love and Let Die by Lexi Blake

Posted February 14, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Love and Let Die by Lexi BlakeReviewer: Casee
Love and Let Die by Lexi Blake
Series: Masters and Mercenaries #5
Also in this series: Dungeon Royale, A View to a Thrill
Genres: Romance, Romantic Suspense, BDSM
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four-stars

A Tragic Love Story Charlotte Dennis's mission was clear: distract and misdirect CIA operative Ian Taggart by any means necessary. If she failed, she would never see her sister again. With her training, it should have been simple, but after one night in Ian's arms, she knew that saving her sister would mean losing the man of her dreams. Ian was tracking a terrorist when he met the beautiful American daughter of a Russian mobster. His instincts told him Charlotte was trouble, but his body craved her like a drug and his heart would not be denied. She took his ring and his collar. For once he was truly happy. But as he closed in on his target, her betrayal cost him his mission while her sacrifice saved his life. As she died in his arms, Ian vowed he would never love again. A Dangerous Reunion For five years, Charlotte has thought of nothing but returning to her husband, her Master. Working in the shadows, she has devoted herself to earning a chance to reclaim her place in Ian's life. But forgiveness isn't a part of Ian's vocabulary. Nothing is more important to Ian Taggart than his new mission. But the information he needs is firmly in the hands of the woman who betrayed him. To catch his most dangerous prey, Ian will have to let Charlotte back into his life. As the hunt takes them to some of the world's most exotic locations, the danger grows and their passion reignites. Will Ian forgive his wayward submissive...or lose her again?

I picked up this book after I read Satisfaction. Ian Taggart was in the book and of course I had to read his book. I do have to say that I realized in the last several years, I’ve turned into a prude. I used to read BDSM, but I haven’t in quite sometime. When I read the blurb, it talked about Masters and collars and I knew I wouldn’t like it. What do I know? I loved this book!

When Charlotte Dennis shows up at his door, Ian Taggart can’t believe his eyes. After all, his wife died in his arms three years before. When she starts talking about why she betrayed him and almost got one of his friends killed, he is not unmoved. He loved his wife, but nothing she can say will make him take her back.

Charlotte had to protect her sister, Chelsea, from the Russian mob. When they were young, their mother was murdered by their father and taken back to Russia. Charlotte was forced to do anything her father asked, from assassinating someone to robbing banks…all so their father would leave Chelsea alone. To get herself and her sister away from Russia, she makes a deal with the devil. The last thing she expected was to fall in love with the man she was sent to distract.

Although he can never forgive her, Ian isn’t above using Charlotte. As for Charlotte, she will take Ian anyway she can get him as long as he loves her again. Together they track down the man responsible for sending Charlotte and Chelsea on the run.

The BDSM part didn’t bother me at all once I got through my initial prudish nature. It actually made the romance more romantic. Charlotte is an incredibly strong heroine. Reading about her submitting to Ian didn’t bother me at all. In fact it made the book better because she was so strong. I can’t recommend this book or this series enough.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

four-stars

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Review: Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted January 27, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Justice Ascending by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome
Also in this series: Mercury Striking, Shadow Falling
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Genres: Post Apocalyptic, Romance
Pages: 400
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Before surviving the Scorpius bacterium, Tace Justice was a good ole Texas cowboy who served his country and loved his mama. After Scorpius, the world became dark, dangerous, and deadly... and so did he. The Vanguard medic is stronger, faster, and smarter than before, but he's lost the line between right and wrong. His passion is absolute, and when he focuses it on one woman, there's no turning back for either of them.

Sami Steel has been fighting to survive right alongside Tace, convincing the Vanguard soldiers she's one of them. In truth, Sami is a former hacker turned government agent who worked at The Bunker, where scientists stored both contaminants and cures. Only she knows the location, and she's not telling. Yet when sexual fire explodes between her and Tace, she'll face even that hell again to save him.

Tace Justice was introduced in Mercury Striking as an affable, yet strong character. He was a down-to-earth good ‘ol boy who landed in the inner circle of Jax Mercury. As a field medic, his skills are in demand in post-apocalypse Los Angeles. When he is infected with the Scorpius Syndrome, he doesn’t get Vitamin B in time to come out on the other side of the virus unscathed. Tace doesn’t much care, but he knows he’s different. He’s not quite a Ripper, but he believes he’s on his way to becoming one.

Sami Steele has secrets. Big secrets. But she’s not sharing the biggest of them all. She knows where the Bunker is. The Bunker that everyone thinks the cure for Scorpius Syndrome is. They might be right, but Sami isn’t leading them into hell, which is exactly what the Bunker is as far as she is concerned. Yet when Tace seems to be one of the few that rejects the Vitamin B, Sami knows she can no longer keep quiet. Only at the Bunker can she find the way to save him.

Tace was happy to remain strictly co-workers with Sami until he was infected with Scorpius. After that, all bets were off. His obsession with sex moved onto an obsession with Sami. Not just with Sami, but with her safety. He is so intent on keeping her safe that he is risking his own safety, something that Jax isn’t so keen on. He doesn’t like his lieutenants fraternizing and he lets them know it. Nothing can keep these two apart, not even Scorpius.

I’m digging this series. Post-apocalypse romances really get to me because you strip everything down to survival. So falling in love in a week doesn’t seem out of the ordinary. Nothing is out of the ordinary when it comes down to it. You’re stripped to your core and it’s survival of the fittest. I can’t wait to see what Zanetti comes up with next.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

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Review: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

Posted January 24, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Archangel’s Heart by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #9
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Kiss (Guild Hunter, #2), Angels' Blood
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh takes us into a dangerous and exhilarating world where a deadly, beautiful archangel and his once-mortal consort are caught in a fury of twisted darkness…
One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.
Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…
Nothing will ever be the same again.

It’s been two years since the Cascade has reared it’s head..two years Elena and Raphael have used to strengthen their forces while they wait. And wait. And wait. Elena doesn’t want war, but the inaction is killing her. They all know the other shoe is going to drop..if only they knew when. Lijuan has disappeared, which means Raphael and the other archangels are called before the Luminata . The mysterious group was charged with calling the Cadre together if and when an archangel goes missing, as a vacuum can occur if an archangel’s territory is felt unattended. Though most believe Lijuan has chosen to Sleep, no one can be sure, which means she may be able to attack while they’re gathered together. Plus, having all members of the Cadre together presents it’s own problems, since archangels can only be near each other for short periods of time without causing power imbalances.

Elena’s roots are something of  a mystery. Singh has hinted in past books that things are not exactly what they seem with her, and after revelations in the previous book, Elena feels this may be a good time to learn more about her mother’s family. The Luminata is said to have extensive libraries, and, as it happens, is located near Morocco, where Elena’s mother was from.

Archangel’s Heart opens another door to this complex world Singh has created. While Elena and her past are at the heart of the story, storyarcs from previous novels are explored, as well new new intrigues. We learn more about Aodhan, Elena’s past and some of the other archangels and how their territories are run.

Another killer book in the series. I continue to be amazed at the attention to detail here. The world-building is stellar. It never fails to pull me in.

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon

Posted January 11, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Fixer by HelenKay DimonReviewer: Jen
The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon
Series: Games People Play #1
Published by Avon
Publication Date: December 27th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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four-stars

He’s known only as Wren. A wealthy, dangerously secretive man, he specializes in making problems disappear. A professional fixer, Wren hides a dark past, but his privacy is shattered when Emery Finn seeks him out—and what she wants from him is very personal.

Some people disappear against their will. Emery’s job is to find them and bring closure. Wren is the only person who can help solve Emery’s own personal mystery: the long-ago disappearance of her cousin. Just tracking down the sexy, brooding Wren is difficult enough. Resisting her body’s response to him will prove completely impossible.

Anonymity is essential to Wren’s success, yet drawn by Emery’s loyalty and sensuality, he’s pulled out of the shadows. But her digging is getting noticed by the wrong people. And as the clues start to point to someone terrifyingly close, Wren will have to put his haunted past aside to protect the woman he loves.

Emery Finn’s cousin disappeared when they were kids, and Emery has dedicated much of her life to finding her. She comes across the name “Wren” in connection with the case and sets about tracking him down, a task much easier said than done until Wren himself steps in to convince her to stop asking questions. He requires privacy because he is a highly sought after “fixer” who makes problems disappear for the wealthy and powerful, but somehow he just can’t stay away from Emery. He starts to help her against his better judgment, and when dangerous things start happening he goes all in!

This book really worked for me, mostly because of Wren! He is domineering, autocratic, and amazing at everything he does, but he’s a little more than your average alphahole. He doesn’t have great social skills and struggles to relate to others beyond a few long-time friends. Even better, he KNOWS he’s kind of weird and autocratic and wants to make better choices when it comes to Emery. Now, he doesn’t always succeed, and he very seriously oversteps at one point, but what redeems him for me is that after he’s done instinctively reacting in the moment, he pauses and checks in with Emery before he goes any farther. He wants to fix his mistakes and respect her autonomy and wishes.  We also meet his good friend Garrett (who better get his own book some day!), and the fact that Garrett clearly trusts Wren but also acknowledges that he sometimes oversteps gives the reader permission to do the same. And crucially, Emery doesn’t let him get away with that shit. Right from the start, she won’t stand for bossiness, but she also doesn’t hold his awkwardness or lack of social skills against him. She brings light and energy to his pretty dark life. I loved them together. They also have some great sexual tension as they circle each other and try to decide how much they can trust the other. Yum!

The relationship is what made this book a winner, because the rest of the book didn’t exactly blow me away. The mystery is a bit of a stretch, and the villain was kind of odd. There also aren’t many details given about Wren’s work. What precisely does a “fixer” do? You get the sense it’s somewhat unsavory but not exactly bad either, but that’s about it. While we find out about Wren’s background, we don’t really get much about his current life. 

I liked this one a lot, and I can’t wait to read more of this series.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

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

four-stars

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Guest Review: Bayou Hero by Marilyn Pappano

Posted November 3, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 9 Comments

Guest Review: Bayou Hero by Marilyn PappanoReviewer: Jen
Bayou Hero by Marilyn Pappano
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: January 6th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 288
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four-half-stars

In this book from USA TODAY bestselling author Marilyn Pappano, one family's scandal is responsible for a rising body count…

Even for an experienced NCIS agent like Alia Kingsley, the murder scene is particularly gruesome. Someone killed in a fit of rage. Being the long-estranged son of the deceased, Landry Jackson quickly becomes a person of interest. But does Landry loathe his father as much as the feds suspect?

It's clear to Alia that Landry Jackson has secrets, but his hatred for his father isn't one of them. Alia feels sure Landry isn't the killer, but once more family members start dying, she's forced to question herself. What if the fierce attraction between her and Landry has compromised Alia's instincts?

I haven’t been able to get this book out of my head for DAYS, and I’ve been sitting on this review, trying to balance my desire to tell someone about this ambitious book with my uncertainty about how I really feel about parts of it. This is a good book…possibly even a great book, but it’s complicated, so this review is gonna be long!

Let me start out with a huge trigger warning: This book deals with the rape of children. There is nothing graphic, but this issue is THERE in a painful and persistent way through much of the book. So, take care!

Alia is an NCIS investigator assigned to look into the murder of an Admiral in New Orleans. He and some of his household staff were brutally stabbed. His son Landry absolutely hated his father, so he is naturally a suspect. When other people connected to the family start showing up dead, too, Alia and Landry start to realize the killings are connected to the family’s dirty secrets.

What did I like?

  • Alia is tough and smart and I want to know her in real life! I love her dedication to her job, her occasional gallows humor, her good-natured bickering with her ex husband, her quiet support for Landry, and her love for food. She’s also part Vietnamese and her heritage actually seems like a part of her life, not just window dressing. She brings a much needed lightness to the book, and I loved her.
  • Even though we never “meet” Alia’s family in person I loved them too, based on a couple short phone conversations and what we know of them from Alia. I thought it was so important to get an example of a healthy family (and a healthy military family, at that) to contrast with the sick dynamics of Landry’s family. Alia’s parents aren’t perfect, but they love her unconditionally and support their daughter in her endeavors without trying to be overprotective or bossy. Hooray for functional families!
  • It’s set in New Orleans and uses that city to excellent advantage. The sticky heat, the hidden wealth behind the wrought iron gates, the amazing food, the tourists who come without seeing the real city…all of it is evocative without being some kind of caricature of New Orleans.
  • There is no instalust, no lightning bolts from the sky, no uncontrollable pants feelings. Alia and Landry act like two normal people who at first can’t trust each other for very legitimate reasons. The attraction builds slowly, and even once they start spending social time together they move slowly because of Alia’s job investigating Landry’s dad’s murder. (The romance does still move pretty fast in terms of actual days, but in page numbers it’s well paced.)
  • THEY DON’T CREATE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST BY SLEEPING TOGETHER! Yes I am yelling because I am not sure I can think of another romantic suspense I’ve read, and I read a lot of them, where the solution that Alia and Landry use here has ever come up. I won’t tell you what the solution is, but it is mature and responsible and why the fuck have I never seen it before?
  • I haven’t mentioned Landry yet. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him too, though maybe not as much as Alia. What I did appreciate about him is that he isn’t afraid of his feelings for Alia. He knows he feels something serious for her, and he knows he wants it to be long term. He isn’t a closed off, broody a-hole, which would have been the easy route to take with this character.

And now for some very spoilery discussion, because this gets at the heart of why I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel about parts of this book.

As a child, Landry was repeatedly raped by a group of his father’s male friends for years before escaping with the help of a distant relative. The friends actually traded their kids around as sex objects; Landry’s younger sister and all the male and female children of the friends were also raped routinely. It is completely horrifying and disgusting, and reading about it made me nauseous. There aren’t any graphic descriptions at all, but Landry’s pain is excruciating to read about.

I’m always leery of books that use rape as a backstory or sensational plot, and it’s hard to escape the fact that the rapes do add a level of sensationalism to the story, although I think the author is careful to portray it as the awful crime it is. On the other hand, there are almost no romances where the hero is the one who was raped, and I worry it’s because authors and readers think it makes the hero seem less manly. So perhaps this is a story that is important to tell, if it’s done properly.

Part of why I hesitated to write this review was because I was going over all the details in my mind searching for mishandling of this topic. Overall, I do think the sexual abuse was handled sensitively. Landry certainly has issues, but he is able to have a largely functional life and build relationships with other people. The book makes it crystal clear he doesn’t do it on his own, though. He needs years of therapy with a skilled doctor, and even then he is still struggling with certain things. He has heartbreaking moments where he feels ashamed or angry at himself, though he talks himself down from those moments by recalling his therapist’s advice. And most importantly, Alia and the other characters in the book don’t treat Landry as less-than because of his trauma. To my untrained eyes, it felt respectfully handled. 

So why my complicated feelings? Most of my hesitation was due to the killer. I could see it coming, and I didn’t like it. The killer had their own very serious mental health issues, which were less gracefully handled. Was it too cartoonish? Was it a cheap “crazy killer” cop out? Was it just there for sensationalism? I’m honestly not sure, but I do know that I didn’t want that character to be the killer. While Alia and Landry get a happy ending, nobody else really does.

To be honest, I am impressed with Pappano and Harlequin for even trying to tell a story like this, because I sure as hell did not expect this when I picked up the book! This was much deeper, more nuanced, and more gut wrenching than your average category romance. While I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about some elements, I am not sorry I read it. 

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars

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