Tag: Jen’s 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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Goodreads
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

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: Be a Good Girl by Tess Diamond

Posted October 5, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Be a Good Girl by Tess DiamondReviewer: Jen
Be A Good Girl (FBI, #3) by Tess Diamond
Series: FBI #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
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two-half-stars

In Tess Diamond’s third romantic thriller, an FBI agent teams up with the one woman who can offer the salvation he needs as they search for a serial killer . . .

As the head of an elite FBI unit, Special Agent Paul Harrison seems to have everything figured out, but beneath the surface, an internal war is raging. When he returns to his rural hometown for the first time in a few years, he’s faced with the memories that led to his losing the love of his life.

Fifteen years ago, Abigail Winthrop’s best friend, and Paul’s girlfriend, was murdered by the infamous serial killer Doctor X. Now an investigative journalist, she’s determined to find the truth. But when Abigail discovers evidence that clears Doctor X, she realizes the real killer is still out there and is striking again when local young girls begin disappearing.

Turning to Paul for help, Abigail joins forces with him. As an undeniable attraction develops between them, they must heal deep wounds from their past—and find a relentless psychopath who could extinguish their hopes for a future together.

It’s always hard to write a review for a book that just didn’t grab your attention–this is one of those books!

This book doesn’t exactly break new ground, with the hero and heroine coming back together to investigate their teenage friend’s murder and some new similar murders. Abby is an investigative reporter and Paul is an FBI agent, which sounds like a recipe for a book I would like. And it’s true that there were a few thrills, especially in the flashback scenes and some of the intense scenes of present suspense. Abby is fairly smart and dogged in her investigation and her belief that something wasn’t quite right with the old investigation.

The rest of the book is pretty forgettable, however. Paul gets virtually no character development in this book, though apparently, he has appeared in earlier books in the series. Without reading those, though, I didn’t really understand much about him beyond that he’s suffering from PTSD. Most importantly, there isn’t much romance in the book. I just didn’t feel a connection between Abby and Paul. For instance, Paul thinks about his mental health issues but there are no conversations with Abby about it. They don’t talk about much beyond the case or their past history. They’ve each been living separate lives for a long time, but there’s no real catching up. Shared history and trauma is not enough to build a relationship, and I couldn’t buy it.

I was interested enough to keep reading and not put the book down, but not interested enough to muster up much enthusiasm for it when it was over. Perhaps earlier books in the series would be a better introduction, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading Be a Good Girl if you’re not already invested in this world.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

FBI

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted October 4, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Hidden by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Jen
Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops #1
Also in this series: Hidden (Deep Ops, #1)
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

Pippa lives essentially in the middle of nowhere, secluded except for the sexy new guy who moved into the only nearby house. Malcolm is also running from his life as an undercover cop and the demons of his past. It turns out someone wants Malcolm for a new operation, though, and Pippa is his target. She might be involved with a terrorist plot, and while Malcolm just can’t believe she’s a terrorist, he knows she’s lying and hiding something. Malcolm has to learn to work with his new team and get the info they need about Pippa, although that gets increasingly difficult as he gets to know her. Neither Malcolm nor Pippa can trust the other, but if they don’t they may not be able to stop an attack.

I loved this book. Pippa and Malcolm were richly drawn and interesting characters, both with their own baggage and their own hopes. Both of them were so damaged by their past, though both have channeled that in different directions. Pippa was traumatized by her childhood, experiencing panic attacks and terrible nightmares and largely cloistering herself in her house out of fear. In many ways, though, she’s better off than Malcolm–she is in (online) therapy, has a fulfilling job that doesn’t require her to leave her house, and isn’t self-medicating with alcohol like Malcolm. Malcolm has been working undercover for years, and the stress of being so deep undercover for so long has taken its toll on him. He’s got some serious PTSD and some unhealthy coping mechanisms, and it was tough to read about at first. The way Pippa sees Malcolm’s pain and wants to offer comfort was just lovely, and Malcolm realizes he wants to do the same for her.

There was a bit of a different tone from many of Zanetti’s other books. Malcolm is still WAY alpha, but he demonstrates a deep awareness of how he might appear threatening to Pippa, and he goes out of his way to avoid that not for self-serving reasons but because he doesn’t want to contribute to her fear. There’s also a lot more consent talk than Zanetti’s books usually feature. Of course, he still is bossy and gets off on dominating her in bed, but I honestly appreciated that Malcolm isn’t as much of a cave man as Zanetti’s usual heroes. (The book was still way sexy too.) I hope she continues that trend.

By far my favorite part of the book is Malcolm’s new team of “Homeland Defense Department” agents. They are all misfits and outcasts, people with secrets in their past that got them sent to the middle of nowhere to handle the cases no one else thinks are important. They start to develop friendships in this book, and it’s clear they will become a tight knit and top notch team. Each and every one of them is fantastic, especially the dog Roscoe who provides a ton of comic relief. I CANNOT wait to read about all of them in future books.

This book did have a few inconsistencies, like how Pippa warmed to Malcolm and started falling for him so quickly. I also would have liked Pippa to find out the truth about Malcolm a little earlier. She does find out early enough to resolve some conflict and have a role in stopping the attack, but I would have preferred just a little more time for her to come to terms with Malcolm’s lies.

These are pretty minor quibbles, though. Mainly I just had a great time reading this book, and I am beyond excited to see it continue.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Deep Ops

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Tempted by Love by Jennifer Ryan

Posted October 3, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Tempted by Love by Jennifer RyanReviewer: Jen
Tempted by Love (Montana Heat, #3) by Jennifer Ryan
Series: Montana Heat #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
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Goodreads
three-stars

She was this Montana Man’s greatest temptation . . .

Alina Cooke—little sister of his two best friends—is the last woman DEA agent Jay Bennett should be waking up next to on the day of her brother’s wedding. But their powerful attraction ignited a powder keg of desire, and their once simple friendship has just become impossibly complicated.

Alina’s always been steady, focused, and lived on the safe side of life. Jay is totally devoted to his dangerous job. She knows a future with him will be filled with worry that one day he won’t come home. She’s done it with her brothers. She’s not sure she can face that uncertainty with the man she loves. Yet being in his arms is a bad idea they keep repeating, again and again.

When Alina is run off the road, Jay fears his job has made her a target. But the threat in Alina’s life is closer than they think. As the enemy gets more ruthless, Alina proves she’s no easy target and Jay will do anything to bring them down. Because surviving and being together is the only thing that matters.

Alina Cooke is the sister of the previous heroes of the series. She’s a pharmacist, not involved in the scary, larger-than-life world of her DEA agent brothers. When she and DEA agent Jay Bennett have a drunken hook up at a wedding, Alina is pretty sure Jay and his dangerous lifestyle is not what she needs. But soon there is danger surrounding Alina too, and she and Jay have to figure out why, as well as whether they both can handle all that comes with letting another person into your heart.

I have sort of mixed feelings about this series, and this book was no exception. On the one hand, there is a lot of action. With some small exceptions in this book, no one acts too stupid or reckless. The love between Alina and Jay was so, so sweet, and while I am sure it will come across as overly saccharine to some, I enjoyed the dynamic of their relationship for the most part. I also really liked seeing Jay doing his job and interacting with his colleagues. They have good camaraderie and it was fun to read. I thought the plot was interesting, and while there is no mystery the action keeps things exciting.

The relationship between Alina and Jay does move VERY fast, however. I perhaps could have gotten over that if they had been closer before, but the book makes it very clear that while they’ve known each other a while they’ve never really talked much or had much to do with each other. So for them to go from “getting to know you” to “this feels life-changing” in mere moments seemed excessive. Couple that with a lot of overwrought descriptions of how wonderful the other person makes them feel and how momentous their interactions were in every second together and it got a bit ridiculous. In addition, there wasn’t much keeping them apart other than their own hang-ups. They easily could have gotten together forever after only a fraction of the book, but of course, there was still 10 lbs of plot to resolve at that point. There was also no reason, other than to draw out the story, that Alina and Jay wouldn’t have figured out the villain’s plan earlier. There were many clues and suspicious happenings, and each time they are brushed away with barely a thought. Alina is brilliant and Jay is a hyper-suspicious DEA agent–there is no way all these mounting clues would have escaped at least their notice. It was contrived.

I liked these characters and I’m pretty interested in the larger story arcs that were continued in this book. Even if this series isn’t my favorite, I plan to read the next book.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Montana Heat

three-stars


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