Tag: Guest Reviews

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso

Posted November 20, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico RossoReviewer: Jen
Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
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two-half-stars

When intimidation turns to deadly force,

It’s time for Frontier Justice.

If ruthless developers want Mariana Balducci’s land, they’ll have to kill her for it. And they nearly succeed—until Ty Morrison foils her attacker. The sexy San Francisco cop is part of a secret organization called Frontier Justice. Mariana is tough, but she realizes she can’t win this fight alone. And when bullets fly, Ty realizes battling bad guys is easier than fighting their sizzling attraction.

Look for 6 new titles from Harlequin Intrigue every month!

Harlequin Intrigue: Edge-of-your-seat mysteries, fearless romance…resourceful women and tough-as-nails men fight for survival.

Mariana Balducci is being pressured to sell her family’s California apple orchard to developers. When the developers start switching from hard-sell business tactics to all-out threats and violence, Mariana doesn’t know if she can hold out…until Ty Morrison swoops in to lend support. Ty doesn’t offer much information about himself or why he’s there to help, but Mariana needs him if she’s going to get the developers off her back and preserve her family’s heritage. Ty has an alternate agenda, however, and when Mariana finds out she may never forgive him.

There were many things I liked about this book, and many things I didn’t. I did actually like the romance between Mariana and Ty. It moves too fast like so many romantic suspenses, but they do seem to have a great connection. I believed that they’d be a good couple going forward. I like that there was a lot of action in the book–there is a lot happening and it kept me interested. I also liked Mariana and Ty. Both were kind of broody but were smart and driven. Plus, the people in this world are diverse in a casual and realistic way, not entirely white as other Harlequin books would have you believe.

Unfortunately, the book also suffers from some of the same criticisms I often have with Rosso’s books. He focuses much more on description and inner thoughts than on dialogue, and his description is sometimes overwrought and kind of silly. Take this passage where Ty is describing eating an apple from Mariana’s orchard:

Savoring it this way strengthened the connection he’d been feeling with her all night. Her work, part of herself, was in his mouth, intimate and close. An apple had never made his blood rush like this.

A little dramatic, especially when he just met hours ago her, no? It’s not bad exactly, but it does get a little old as the story goes on. The plot also has way too much that doesn’t make sense. It’s never properly explained why these seemingly legit land developers would suddenly become willing to kill someone, beyond “money.” Mariana also just lets Ty into her life immediately, with very little mistrust or hesitation. Girl, you have no idea who he is or why he is there, and you barely ask any questions! It’s dangerous and, more importantly, draws out Ty’s lie of omission for absolutely no reason. 

Worse, the larger story arc that I assume will be continued in future books makes no sense. There is almost no explanation given for Ty’s secret mission. He wants to rebuild an organization his ancestors helped found, called Frontier Justice, that…got justice? On the frontier? I really had no idea what that meant beyond that they “helped.” And now Ty, who is AN ACTUAL POLICE OFFICER I might add, wants to create a vigilante justice organization. In this book, they do some pretty illegal stuff to help Mariana, too. He doesn’t seem to plan to quit his day job so how exactly would that work? I don’t know if there was just not enough attention given to world-building/explanation or if the whole premise is poorly designed, but either way, I rolled my eyes a bunch.

It probably sounds like I hated this book, but I definitely didn’t and I really struggled with wanting to give this a 3 instead of 2.5. I was disappointed in parts of the plot, for sure, but I think (?) this will be the start of a new series. I hold out some hope that future books will work better on that front. Still, this book has a different vibe and tone than your average Harlequin Intrigue, and I appreciate that. I appreciate Rosso’s voice, even if I don’t always love his stories, which is why I am glad to see him bringing something fresh to Harlequin.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: Lionheart by Thea Harrison

Posted November 13, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Lionheart by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Jen
Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3) by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow #3
Also in this series: Spellbinder, Lionheart (Moonshadow, #3)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 420
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison comes the final story in her spellbinding Moonshadow trilogy…

King Oberon reigned over his Dark Court in Lyonesse for centuries, until an assassination attempt laid him low. Now he lies unconscious in his snow-bound palace, while his Power battles the enchantment that threatens to end his life.

A skilled trauma surgeon and magic-user, Dr. Kathryn Shaw reigns at the top of her profession in New York. Then comes a challenge she can’t resist—she is asked to cure the uncureable. Just getting close enough to try healing Oberon is a dangerous proposition. When she does reach him, he awakens too soon.

Roused from darkness by Kathryn’s presence, Oberon confronts the beautiful stranger who claims she wants to save his life. But the enchantment has frozen his emotions. How can he learn to trust her when he can’t feel anything?

Oberon’s desire is icy, devoid of all tenderness. Not only must Kathryn match wits with him, she must also fight her reaction to his touch, because there is so much more at stake than her own endangered heart.

For the Dark Court faces its most deadly peril yet. Its ancient enemy Isabeau, Queen of the Light Court, is obsessed with its annihilation, and Oberon must be brought to remember his loyalty and affection for his people.

Because if he won’t fight for them, Lyonesse itself may very well be destroyed…

Oberon’s book is here! I absolutely loved the first two books in Thea Harrison’s Moonshadow series, so I was extra excited to read this book. 

Dark Fae King Oberon’s presence loomed over the last two books, despite the fact that he has been in a coma-like sleep after an assassination attempt. While in his self-induced sleep, his powerful weather magic has spiraled out of control and is slowly freezing the life out of the Dark Fae’s land of Lyonesse. The situation is at a breaking point, and if the remaining Dark Court members cannot find a way to heal Oberon they will need to take drastic measures. They call upon Kathryn Shaw, a magical surgeon (and were-falcon) we met in book 1. Kathryn agrees to go to Lyonesse and do what she can to stop the magic intent on killing the King. When Oberon wakes up before Kathryn has stopped the killing magic, Oberon has to trust in her to save him before it is too late.

I totally love Kathryn. She is my favorite heroine in the series so far! I love that she is brilliant and so incredibly good at her job. Her best quality is that she takes no shit. She’s not “feisty” and is never obstinate for no reason. When she pushes back she does it after carefully considering the situation and determining that it’s a battle that requires fighting. Once she decides to push back, she does it firmly but still rationally. I want more heroines who are smart and carefully “strong” instead of just feisty or sassy! I especially loved that after her and Oberon realize what’s happening to them, she immediately grasps the complexities of being Queen, or is at least prepared to investigate and navigate them. Kathryn doesn’t do anything blindly, and her forthright but compassionate persona is exactly what Lyonesse needs from a leader. I haven’t heard whether there are more books coming in the series, but I certainly hope so because I want to hear how Kathryn is faring in Lyonesse.

Oberon was less interesting to me. The killing magic is basically freezing his emotions, so for a good chunk of the book he’s not able to feel anything but the most animalistic urges. I guess it was somewhat interesting to hear about how he was trying to determine the “right” thing to do based on how he guessed the man he used to be would respond, but in general I didn’t feel like the stakes were very high. Obviously he was going to get his emotions back, and obviously he was going to be a good person once he did. Once Kathryn removes the magic, Oberon became ridiculously perfect. He is so good, so just, so noble, so beloved by his people. I suppose I just didn’t feel like he had a lot of depth.

Still, I really enjoy this world. I loved finally seeing Oberon’s power, because whooo boy he’s got some power. I also really respect the way Harrison has handled the concept of trauma in this series. In this book the puck Robin, who endured some horrific trauma and consequently hasn’t always made the best choices in the series, finally gets some healing. The one part where Oberon WAS a bit swoony was when he was comforting Robin and letting him know it’s ok to feel what he’s feeling. It’s so revolutionary to read that kind of thing in a romance, especially from a powerful alpha hero, and I am here for it.

I may not have loved this book as much as the others in the series, but it’s still a solid story with an excellent heroine. I hope it continues.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

Moonshadow

four-stars


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Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton Walsh

Posted November 2, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton WalshReviewer: Tracy
Plus One by Brighton Walsh
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 68
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three-half-stars

Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn't want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can't pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn't expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn't take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia's desire to stay "just friends" becomes clear, Ian's feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

Olivia, Emma and Ian have been best buddies for 20 years. They tell each other just about anything and get each other out of bad situations, like when one is on a blind date and having the worst time ever because their date is talking about cat pee.  This was the case when Ian called Olivia and got her out of her blind date.  Olivia was expecting a call from Emma, but apparently she was busy with her boyfriend so Ian called.  They talk while Olivia is on her way home and one of the topics that comes up is weddings.  Olivia has to either be in or go to nine weddings in the next six months.  She was hoping one of her blind dates would be awesome and she could take him as her plus one, but no luck.  Ian offers to be her plus one and while Olivia is hesitant at first she soon takes him up on his offer.

Ian has been in love with Olivia the entire time he’s known her.  As he got older his puppy love turned into true love, but he was afraid to mess up their friendship.  There was also the fact that Olivia didn’t see him as anything other than a friend.  He even went so far as to move a couple of hours away from her to try and get her out of his system.  While that worked in a way, he never stopped loving her.  Now he’s torturing himself by seeing her on a regular basis for all of these weddings and he can’t help but dream of what it would be like with her.

During one of the wedding receptions Olivia drinks a bit and they come close to kissing but she pulls away.  Ian thinks that he can never make Olivia see him as more than a friend, but she’s already undressing him in her mind.  How can these two take the chance on love without ruining their friendship forever.

This was a short novella but it was good!  I really liked both Ian and Olivia and thought they were adorable together. Their banter was cute and funny.  Like I said, this was a short novella so there wasn’t a lot of plot development. Despite that, I thought the author did a good job of showing us each of the characters in a good light and making us understand their wants and hesitations over the relationship.

One part I thought was needlessly added was Olivia’s friend, and Ian’s sister, Emma.  I’m not sure why she was written in.  She really only served to make Olivia’s uncertainty about the relationship worse because Olivia didn’t want to betray her friend. I got Olivia’s thinking, but it really was just extra and the story definitely could have survived quite well without her involvement.

Overall I enjoyed this story and recommend it if you need a quick read or palate cleanser.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 11, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
Mistletoe Miracles (Ransom Canyon #7) by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #7
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing, A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found and family always brings you back home

Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it's a money pit. He'd sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch--just in time for Christmas.

Jaxon O'Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.

Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she's single, she's happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she's baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he's her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging and plenty of Christmas spirit.

Griffin Holloway is desperate to find a wife.  Not that he thinks he’s ready to get married but because he needs a rich wife to pay the mortgage on the ranch that has been in his family for 10 years. He goes to the two old ladies who run the local B & B for advice and they match him up with Sunlan Krown.  She’s the daughter of a rancher in Texas and very rich.  She agrees to marry Griff but with many stipulations.

Army Captain Wyatt Johnson is taking some time off between assignments.  His girlfriend (who he wasn’t really attached to) got engaged while he was away and his parents were living their own lives.  He just wants some place to call home to rest his weary body for a while.  When he collapses from lack of sleep the local ranger takes him to Mrs. Johnson’s house.  The ranger said that Mrs. Johnson had said that her husband wasn’t around much so him being in the Army would explain a lot.  They put Wyatt into Jamie’s house and leave him there.  Imagine Jamie’s surprise when she comes home after a weekend away with her drama students and finds a strange man in her place.

Jaxon is a man who is hurting on the inside.  He was also physically hurt two years earlier but now he’s just emotionally scarred.  He lives alone on a piece of land his family owns and likes the peace and solitude it provides.  He is out walking one day when he witnesses a car accident.  He runs to help but he’s pretty far away.  By the time he’s gotten there the woman who was driving is being loaded into an ambulance.  He starts to leave and hears a whimper.  It’s a dog and he takes it and nurses it back to health.  When he discovers that the dog belongs to the driver, and that she’s hiding from an abusive boyfriend, Jaxson volunteers to nurse her back to health as well, while hiding her from further danger.

Once again Jodi Thomas has given us a book with three stories that are all so good.  Each one would have made a great novella but adding them together, and alternating chapters made it that much better.  Two of the stories ended up being intertwined and that was a bonus as well.

I liked all three of these stories equally.  I like Thomas’s books because for the most part there isn’t a ton of angst and I appreciate that.  This book was like that and I really enjoyed reading it.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Ransom Canyon

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Under Contol by Shannon Stacey

Posted October 10, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Under Contol by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Tracy
Under Control by Shannon Stacey
Series: Boston Fire #5
Also in this series: Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Fully Ignited, Fully Ignited, Controlled Burn, Hot Response, Hot Response (Boston Fire, #4), Under Control (Boston Fire, #5)
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.

Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.

What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.

Derek Gilman is a man who loves his family.  His marriage didn’t work out, but they stayed good friends.  He has two children and they mean the world to him.  He wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that would catch his eye, but when he gets stuck in an elevator with Olivia McGovern she pushes all of his buttons.

Olivia has no time in her life for dating.  She has a plan and a man plays no part of that.  Unfortunately for her plans, Derek gets under her skin and she’s soon having to make adjustments.  But can she make enough adjustments to her life to include Derek and his two kids and still live her life the way she wants to?

This was a cute story.  I liked Derek a lot.  I liked how he was with his kids and also the fact that he was such good friends with his ex-wife – kind of like he was before they got married.  With Olivia it took me a while to warm up to her because she was so Type A and had every minute of her day/life planned.  She needed some warmth and spontaneity in her life…and Derek provided that.

Olivia and Derek fall in love pretty quickly but neither is willing to compromise their lives for the other.  They live 40 minutes away from each other.  She makes a lot of money, he makes a fair amount but nothing spectacular.  Her job is in downtown Boston, his isn’t.  Money and location ended up being an issue between them and that annoyed me for some reason because he wouldn’t compromise and his pride was getting in the way.  I mean, I could tell how much they loved each other, and their relationship was pretty good, but the story lacked a spark.  Maybe it was because the book was so centered on them and lacked outside issues?  IDK.

We got some time with the other guys in the firehouse and characters from past books.  We also got, woven into this story, a bit about Grant and his girlfriend Wren.  I’m thinking the next book will be their book and it looks like it will be a good one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Boston Fire

three-half-stars


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