Tag: Ballantine

Throwback Thursday Review: Cover of Night by Linda Howard

Posted April 5, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Cover of Night by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly
Cover of Night by Linda Howard
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 27th 2006
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 352
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

For breathless action, gripping suspense, and intense romance, bestselling author Linda Howard never misses a beat–and her thrilling new novel will have your heart racing.

In the charming rural town of Trail Stop, Idaho, accessible to the outside world by only a single road, young widow Cate Nightingale lives peacefully with her four-year-old twin boys, running a bed-and-breakfast. Though the overnight guests are few and far between–occasional hunters and lake fishermen–Cate always manages to make ends meet with the help of the local jack-of-all-trades, Calvin Harris, who can handle everything from carpentry to plumbing. But Calvin is not what he seems, and Cate’s luck is about to run out.

One morning, the B&B’s only guest inexplicably vanishes, leaving behind his personal effects. A few days later Cate is shocked when armed men storm the house, demanding the mystery man’s belongings. Fearing for her children’s lives, Cate agrees to cooperate–until Calvin saves the day, forcing the intruders to scatter into the surrounding woods.

The nightmare, however, is just beginning. Cate, Calvin, and their entire community find themselves cut off and alone with no means to call for help as the threat gathers intensity and first blood is drawn.
With their fellow residents trapped and the entire town held hostage, Cate and Calvin have no choice but to take the fight to their enemies under the cover of night. While reticent Cal becomes a fearless protector, Cate makes the most daring move of her life . . . into the very heart of danger.

From the Hardcover edition.

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on April 21, 2008.

How many of you have read Danielle Steel? I used to read her all the time when I was younger, but after awhile the repetitiveness of her writing started to wear on me and I gave up on her. I’m not talking about the constant reuse of key phrases, either, but the way she feels she has to explain the same point again and again and again.

That’s exactly what Linda Howard did in this novel. Contrary to popular belief, I am not an idiot. If you explain something to me once, I get it. I don’t need you to repeat the same point over and over. Truly.

Three years ago, Cate’s husband died of a Staph infection, leaving her a widow with very young twin boys. In an effort to provide financially for them and to escape all of the memories of Seattle, she moves to Trail Stop, Idaho, a very small community nestled in the mountains of Idaho and miles from everything. The town is surrounded on three sides by mountains and has only one road for access.

Life is pretty peaceful for her and her twins. She’s made some friends, though she’s mostly kept people at arms length. The local handyman, Calvin Harris, is at her house almost every day, because it’s an old Victorian and seems to need constant repairs. Otherwise, though, besides one women she considers a close friend, she doesn’t really socialize in town.

Our story begins when she has this guest come and stay who sneaks out the window during the day and leaves all his stuff behind. At first she’s irritated that he ditched out like that, then she’s worried about him, thinking he may have had an accident or something, then she goes back to being irritated when he’s still gone two days later.

In the meantime, we find out that the guest who skipped out the window is actually a CPA who stole some very incriminating evidence from some mobster and is attempting to extort an extreme amount of money from him. Well, as you can imagine, our mobster guy isn’t very happy about that, so he hires this shady PI/Contract Killer guy to go after him. They eventually track him to the B&B in Trail Stop…and this is where the story goes south. Wayyyy South.

The thing about this book is…it wasn’t that interesting BEFORE the contract killer shows up. But AFTER that? It was so over-the-top-unbelievable I was almost in stitches. Seriously.

Here’s the skinny. Contract Killer and his little minion decide to rent a room in Cate’s BB. They overhear Cate and her friend talking about how she’s suspicious of them, so rather than being all stealthy and searching for the things CPA boy left behind, they rush at her with guns and demand his stuff. She’s getting ready to comply when Cal the Handyman shows up to get the mail. She sends him on his way, but on the off chance that something isn’t right he circles back around and…saves the day.

Now, the thing is, up until this point, Cal can’t string two words together in Cate’s presence. He’s painfully shy around her and even turns BEAT ASS RED when he’s near her. I think LH was trying to make us see that he had different sides by throwing a few other scenes with him in it, but it didn’t work. Not for me anyway.

But back to my bitching review. So Cal figures out that Cate’s in trouble, circles around, knocks one of the Contract Killers on the head and takes the other one by surprise and disarms him. In the name of keeping things calm, he hands over CPA Boy’s suitcase and sends them on their way. Yeah, dumb but whatever.

Conveniently, Cate’s mom is visiting from Seattle, and wants the twins for a few weeks, so the next morning Cate sends them on their way, because she’s paranoid and wants them safe. Ok, that makes sense. But it was just too neat and tidy that her mom was there when this went down.

The twins hit the road and the Contract Killers check out the suitcase. Well, well, what do you know. Seems there isn’t any shaving stuff or personal toiletries in the bag, so they figure she’s holding out on them. So what do they do? Well, they decide to take the entire town hostage, of course.

stares

Yes, I said take the entire town hostage. Because Cate may or may not have a shaving kit that may or may not include the thing that Mobster Dude’s CPA stole from him. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

From there on it was just dumb. The POV’s jumped around entirely too much, but we didn’t get hardly anything from the hero. We come to understand that he’s been in love with Cate since she moved there, and that he was formerly a Marine, so he’s well able to handle the situation, but that’s pretty much it. I really liked what I saw of him, and I liked Cate for the most part, too. Although she could have buckled in the face of such craziness, she rose to the occasion and did what needed to be done. But overall? The character development sucked, IMO. There just wasn’t enough focus on the two main protagonists to make them real characters to me. The twins were sort of cute, but since they only lasted like the first 20 pages or so I can’t really say they grabbed me.

Basically, the storyline was WAY over the top, we didn’t get to see enough from the hero’s POV and she jumped around WAY too much. During one chapter there were seven different POV’s, none of them the hero.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed. At all. It’s not the worst Linda Howard I’ve ever read (All That Glitters and The Independent Wife hold that title) but it was close.

2.5 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

two-half-stars


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Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward

Posted February 26, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Bourbon Kings, The Angels' Share
Published by Ballantine
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

In #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale of the Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

I’m sitting here reading my reviews of The Bourbon Kings (which I loved) and Angels’ Share (which I also loved) and wondering what the holy hell happened. This series had so much promise. The biggest promise was that it was only three (three!) books. I don’t know how that could get messed up, especially after the first two were pretty spectacular. And hello? That’s coming from one of JRW’s biggest critics. I didn’t just jump into this book, I dove into it headfirst only to come up gasping for air and wondering what the fuck happened between Angels’ Share and now. Even after a week I still have that WTF look on my face and if I had a paper copy of the book, I would burn it.

Devil’s Cut brings us back to the world of the Bradford Bourbon Company and the Baldwine family. It picks up exactly where Angels’ Share left off. Edward, the eldest Bradford sibling has confessed to murdering their father. He did have motive. His father arranged to have him kidnapped when he was on business in South America and didn’t pay the ransom. Edward never fully recovered. One problem with that scenario is that Edward could never have overpowered his father in a million years. It’s laughable. You will immediately pick up on the fact that he’s covering for someone.

Lane and Lizzie are as solid as ever. Lizzie is getting a little worn out and not just because she’s pregnant. What Lane is going through trying to save the family name and business isn’t anything to sneeze at. Lizzie is trying to help him however she can and do her job at Easterly, but it takes its toll on a person. Though she loves Lane, she does miss the days where she went home to her farm and got a little peace from the Bradford drama. However she doesn’t regret her decision to be with Lane. As for Lane, he adores Lizzie and will do anything she wants. Though her pregnancy throws him for a loop, he will do everything he can so he is nothing like the father he had.

Edward is in the pokey for a crime he didn’t commit. There is evidence, but the blind and ignorant detective has a prejudice against rich people and is convinced that Edward is guilty. It is laughable. I mean it’s admirable what Edward is trying to do, but it’s laughable that anyone would believe it. Just as laughable is the person that actually did the deed.

Gin. Ah, Gin. She changed the most from book one to three. In book one, she was most worried about her comfort. By book three, she realized what a disaster of a person she was. She had a daughter with the man she loved and she denied them both the opportunity to know each other. As punishment to the man no less. She didn’t consider her daughter, had never really considered her daughter until now. She has finally realized what a tragedy of a mother she is and seeks to change that by being there for Amelia. The first mistake she needs to rectify? Introducing SamuelT and Amelia. She knows it will damage her relationship with SamuelT beyond repair, but that is a price she is willing to pay. Gin’s journey was fascinating to read. I really enjoyed reading the growth she made as a character.

So what was my problem with the book? Where do I start? Everything was too pat. Edward got out of jail because the person that killed his father was on their deathbed. Seriously, this person was dying and was able to kill? I am rolling my eyes so hard my eyeballs hurt. Bring in Sutton Smythe who was a BBC competitor…she and Edward always had an attraction, even love, but Edward stopped that when he was rescued from South America. He never really recovered. Now in the space of about 2.75 pages he is miraculously emotionally healed and decides he is in love with Sutton and they are going to live happily ever after. Seriously.

Even the ending with Gin was too pat. Lane and Lizzie? That worked because their story has been told over the course of three books. Even Gin and SamuelT’s story has been going on that long. But they’ve been at odds for the length of three books. They can’t suddenly be okay in the last five pages. That does not work for this reader. It just doesn’t. There are other things I don’t want to spoil, but those things didn’t work for me either. And the BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS? Nothankyouverymuch.

This book was just rushed. A big disappointment after the first two of the series.

The Bourbon Kings

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Posted October 19, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Girl Before by J.P. DelaneyReviewer: Tina
The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

In the tradition of The Girl on the Train, The Silent Wife, and Gone Girl comes an enthralling psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception.

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma: Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane: After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney tells the tale of two women who are previous and current residents of a high-tech home which was designed by an obsessive yet charismatic architect who is fixated with the concept of perfection. The narrative unfolds through the women’s alternating accounts, which at times brought that Deja Vu sensation to me as I proceeded through the book. Before I actually caught on, I found myself thinking that my kindle had taken me back to a previous chapter that I had already read.

The house is by far the star of the show with it’s futuristic infrastructure. It is basically controlled through a computer program called “Housekeeper”, which regulates everything from the lights to the water temperature based on findings that are gathered via a wristband worn by the inhabitant. The house even monitors the overall physical and mental health of the user. The question being presented though, is the house governed by the dweller or is it the other way around?

The Girl Before is a first-rate read. Having previously devoured both Gone Girl and The Girl On the Train, I would definitely consider all three to be highly outstanding contributions. I will definitely be singing it’s praises to all my bookish acquaintances. The unique plot got my attention and kept me engrossed until the final page.

I would like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of the e-book in return for an honest review.

four-stars


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Review: Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted September 15, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Into the Storm by Suzanne BrockmannReviewer: Rowena
Into the Storm by Suzanne Brockmann
Series: Troubleshooters #10
Also in this series: All Through the Night, Over the Edge
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 15th 2006
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

In a remote, frozen corner of New Hampshire, a Navy SEAL team and the elite security experts of Troubleshooters Incorporated are going head-to-head as fierce but friendly rivals in a raid-and-rescue training exercise. Despite the frigid winter temperatures, tension smolders between SEAL Petty Officer Mark Jenkins and former cop turned Troubleshooter Lindsey Fontaine after an impulsive night of passion goes awry. And then suddenly Tracy Shapiro, the Troubleshooters' new receptionist, vanishes while playing the role of hostage during a mock rescue operation.

Teaming up with the FBI to launch a manhunt in the treacherous wilderness, Jenk and Lindsey must put aside their feelings as a record snowstorm approaches, dramatically reducing any hope of finding Tracy alive. The trail is colder than the biting New England climate until a lucky break leads to a horrifying discovery - a brutally murdered young woman wearing the jacket Tracy wore when she disappeared. Suddenly there is a chilling certainty that Tracy has fallen prey to a serial killer - one who knows the backwoods terrain and who doesn't play by the rules of engagement.

In a race against time, a raging blizzard, and a cunning opponent, Jenk and Lindsey are put to the ultimate test. Risking everything, they must finally come together in a desperate attempt to save Tracy - and each other.

Mark Jenkins and Lindsey Fontaine. I remember this book fondly but what’s weird is that I remember mostly that I loved the heck out of Izzy Zanella in this book. Ha! Poor Jenkins.

Anyway, SEAL Team Sixteen and the Troubleshooters Inc. folks are going head to head in a mock training exercise. Competition is fierce and both sides want to win but when their fake hostage Tracy Shapiro goes missing, their friendly competitive training operation gets thrown to the wayside because…shit gets real.

Jenkins and Lindsey are battling wits and feelings after an unexpected night together but Lindsey is adamant about shutting that shit down. She wants nothing to do with a relationship and what should have been a whole lot of sexual tension, was actually bogged down with too much shit that I wanted to beat out of Lindsey.

This wasn’t my favorite book in the Troubleshooters series but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. There’s a whole bunch of Troubleshooters goodness in the form of seeing everyone from the team (old and new) and I really liked seeing what everyone was up to.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I still felt like Jenks was jipped because it was Izzy that stole the story for me. Completely stole Jenk’s thunder. I was much more interested in what he was up to and even though I know who he ends up with, I still low key wanted him to hook up with Tracy.

Lindsey bickered her way through this story and at first, Jenk just kind took it with his tail between his legs and it drove me crazy because I wanted him to be more like Sam and Wildcard and freaking fight her back but I never felt like that was Jenk’s style, which is probably why he’s not one of my favorite Troubleshooters series. Lindsey got on my nerves a lot but in the end, I believed in her feelings for Jenk and I was glad that they got their shit together long enough to own up to their feelings for each other. Jenk came a long way in this book and I liked him a lot better in the end.

My favorite part of this book was seeing everyone again. The older characters meeting up with the new characters and all banding together to fight the bad guys. I want more of this. I miss these guys. Still, solid book for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Review: Do or Die by Suzanne Brockmann

Posted May 20, 2014 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Do or DieRowena’s review of Do or Die (Reluctant Heroes #1) by Suzanne Brockmann.

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission… for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Or die trying.

This is the first book in Suz Brockmann’s new Reluctant Heroes series. This book tells Ian Dunn’s story of true love and while it was good, I can’t say that I connected with anyone in this book as much as I have with pretty much everyone in Brockmann’s other Navy SEAL worlds.

The story is as follows: Ian Dunn is serving time in prison to protect his younger brother Aaron from the homophobic asshole that just so happens to be his partner Sheldon’s father. He had agreements in place to ensure the safety of his brother’s family and everything was going according to plan until the government needs his help to rescue a couple of kids who have been kidnapped by their dangerous foreign national father. Ian wants nothing to do with the mission because he cannot step foot out of prison or the deal he had with the bad people after his brother went away and his family is right back in danger.

Of course, none of that matters to the U.S. Government. They need his help and he’s going to give it to them whether he wants to or not.

Now, he’s out of prison, in danger and rushing to protect his brother from harm. He’s got a lawyer that he doesn’t want but would not kick out of his bed and a shit load of problems that he doesn’t quite know how to fix. When he meets up with his brother after many, many years of being away, his brother is pissed at him and is a total dick about so many things that I wanted to kick him in the nuts.

Phoebe Kruger’s first day at her new firm brings her to Ian Dunn’s doorstep and he is not happy about it. All she wants, is to do her job but it’s hard when your client doesn’t want you to be their lawyer. But she’s gone and done it now, she’s stepped into it and she’s got no other option but to see it through. She’s unofficially a part of Ian’s team and while she’s trying to make the best out of an awkward situation, she’s doing the best she can and it’s hard to do that when parts of Ian’s team doesn’t want her anywhere near their mission.

There’s a lot going on in this book. There’s the crap with Aaron and Sheldon and Sheldon’s piece of shit father. There’s the two kidnapped kids that need to be rescued and then there’s the relationship that Ian wasn’t looking for (and didn’t want) but can’t seem to shake. Lots of stuff to keep the story going and while I did enjoy the action that the story provided, I wasn’t a really big fan of anyone in this new series. Except maybe, Martell. And Yashi. And Deb. Oh and I adored Sheldon. Okay, I liked those four and I did end up liking Ian and Phoebe.

But Aaron and Francine? They got on my hot damn nerves. Aaron acted like a spoiled brat and straight up dickhead toward Ian for far longer than I thought was necessary and Francine? Ugh, I get that she went through some pretty horrific things in her life but I hated that it turned her into such an ugly person toward people that didn’t deserve her bitchiness. Aaron’s saving grace was Sheldon. I liked seeing the softer side of Aaron when he was with Sheldon. I also liked seeing him with the baby. As for Francine? There were some vulnerabilities shown with Martell that I was hoping we’d get more of but we didn’t so she still has a long way to winning my affection.

This book was kind of slow to start but once it picked up, it really picked up and I went on a roller coaster ride. Brockmann excels at writing fast paced stories that really come alive for the reader but what missed its mark with me with this story were the characters. They weren’t very likable at times and I didn’t connect with them as much as I was hoping I would. But even still, I’m curious to read the other books in this series and I’m wondering who’s book we’ll be getting next…and who Francine ends up with? Who would put up with all of the baggage that she brings to the table.

This book wasn’t as enjoyable as her Troubleshooters series but it’s still worth a try.

Grade: 3 out of 5

This book was provided by Random House. 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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