Tag: Jen’s Reviews

Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle

Posted August 9, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Five bounty-hunting sistersDeep in the heart of the RockiesFighting to save each other...and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly's horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family's misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John's the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly's ever had the pleasure of defeating...and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.

Like Stephanie Plum but want her to actually get with, and stick with, a guy? In Her Sights might appeal!

Molly Pax owns a bounty hunter business with her sisters. They have built a life in spite of their truly deadbeat mom who has done nothing but drag them down their entire lives. When their mom gets them into the kind of trouble that could easily ruin everything they’ve worked for, Molly has to turn to rival bounty hunter John Carmondy for help. She and John have to work together, even though they hate each other…don’t they?

I thought this book was a lot of fun. Ruggle does a great job with characters and dialogue that are funny but not ridiculous. The banter between Molly and John is excellent, but my favorite part is probably the relationships between the sisters. Molly is totally devoted to her family, and in fact she’s more of the mother than their actual mother. She will do anything to save her family, and you get the sense that her sisters feel the same. I always love reading about strong families, and this was definitely a good one. 

I really enjoyed the progression of John and Molly’s relationship too. John is a giant teddy bear, contrary to what Molly thinks of him at first. The story is written in third person but is limited to Molly’s perspective, so like Molly we don’t totally know what John is thinking. Unlike Molly, however, as the reader we can immediately see John has a crush on her and she’s the one misinterpreting his actions. On the one hand I wanted him to just tell her upfront how he was feeling, but on the other hand I could understand why you wouldn’t be rushing to confess your attraction to someone who treated you like the enemy. It’s clear Molly is feeling an attraction, too, and once she finally recognizes it they make an adorable couple. 

I always love a good bounty hunter story, and this one fits that trope perfectly. It’s fun to see Molly and her sisters doing their jobs. They’re all smart and tough and capable, and I had a great time getting to know them.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Guest Review: American Witch by Thea Harrison

Posted August 6, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: American Witch by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Jen
American Witch by Thea Harrison
Series: American Witch #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 29, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 420
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?

When Molly Sullivan finds out that her husband has cheated on her…again…she erupts with long overdue fury, and in the process discovers she’s actually a witch. Josiah Mason is there to witness her newfound powers, and he knows they can bring unwanted scrutiny to the area from his enemy, who he’s been plotting against for years. Josiah offers to train Molly and help her control her powers. Molly has to become the person and the witch she was always meant to be, and Josiah has to decide what price he’s willing to pay for revenge.

First and foremost, the world building in this book is excellent. It is technically set in the world of the Elder Races, but there’s not a lot of crossover and you don’t need to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one. We didn’t hear much about witches in the previous books, but in this series Harrison really digs into their story more. I especially loved the town where Molly eventually settles, and I can’t wait to learn more about it in future books.

Molly is an older heroine, and I really enjoyed that! She hasn’t lived her life on her terms, but once she realizes she doesn’t have to put up with everyone else’s shit she finally starts coming into her own. (She is married at the start of the book, but don’t worry there’s no cheating, from her at least.) I love that she doesn’t let Josiah walk all over her. They have a very contentious relationship at first, and while they are attracted neither is willing to bend on their own goals–Josiah wants revenge and Molly just wants to live life as she wants it. Even once they start having both pants feelings and romantic feelings for each other, Molly doesn’t pine for Josiah, doesn’t roll over and give him his way. She demands that he love her as she is, and she will no longer suppress who she is for anyone. A lot of this book is really about Molly learning to live her best life, and that’s very satisfying to see. I also loved that Molly demands Josiah be the best version of himself, too, and if he can’t do that she’s fully prepared to let him go.

If I have one criticism, it’s that because of the detailed world-building and the time spent on Molly’s growth, there isn’t as much time spent on the romance. It’s hard to see their turn from enemies to HEA. I believed it; I just wanted to see more of it. I also didn’t love the surprise twist in the middle. I won’t ruin it for everyone, but I thought it was unnecessary and would rather have seen Molly grow for Molly rather than this extra influence.

I really enjoyed this heroine and story, and I look forward to learning more about this part of the Elder Races world.

Grade: 4 out of 5

American Witch

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Posted July 24, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Tightrope by Amanda QuickReviewer: Jen
Tightrope by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #3
Also in this series: The Other Lady Vanishes (Burning Cove #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 309
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to find a machine that could change the world.

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

This book brings us back to Burning Cove, California, a vacation getaway for the rich and famous in 1930s Hollywood. Amalie Vaughn is a former trapeze artist who left her career under tragic and inauspicious circumstances. She has moved to Burning Cove to start a new life and open a bed and breakfast. When her first guest is unfortunately murdered, she gets tangled up in something nefarious. Matthias Jones is investigating in Burning Cove as well. At first he sticks close to Amalie because he is searching for information, but quickly he starts sticking close to her for more personal reasons. 

I recognize that this series is nothing ground breaking, but for me it is lots of fun. I really enjoy the world Quick has painted, and I enjoy revisiting Burning Cove in each book. This one in particular felt like a good old fashioned mystery. The murdered guest is a self proclaimed inventor of robots, and that added a fun flavor to the intrigue. Similarly, Amalie’s background as a trapeze artist is glamorous and unique, and I loved that she’s able to use some of her past skills to save herself in the end. 

Matthias and Amalie make a nice couple, although Mathias isn’t particularly interesting to me as a character. No one knows quite what he does, though the rumor is that he’s mixed up with criminals. It was all a little silly. I did like that he appreciates Amalie and her abilities, and like the other heroes in the series he respects and values the heroine’s independence. There’s also a whiff of the supernatural in his backstory, though it’s never really identified as such as nothing much comes of it. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a slight callback to Quick’s Arcane Society series or not, but I didn’t really think it added anything to the story.

This series has become a kind of comforting world for me to visit. It never knocks my socks off, but it’s romantic, unique, and interesting, and I like the characters Quick has created.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Burning Cove

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Beyond Risk by Connie Mann

Posted July 3, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Beyond Risk by Connie MannReviewer: Jen
Beyond Risk by Connie Mann
Series: Florida Wildlife Warriors #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

The river runs wild …

Former Fish & Wildlife Officer Charlotte “Charlee” Tanner still carries the guilt of a tragic drowning accident that occurred on her watch. She hoped moving back home to the wilds of central Florida would provide a safe haven—until she learns the death was no accident, and she’s the intended target.

… But no wilder than their passion.

Tough and decisive, Lieutenant Hunter Boudreau loves his new job as a law enforcement officer with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Charlee is his best friend, so when she comes under fire, he’s not letting her out of his sight until the killer is caught. But Charlee won’t sit by and let anyone else die for her.

As danger closes in and Charlee and Hunter’s attraction threatens to consume them, Charlee has to decide if she can trust Hunter. And to save Charlee, Hunter will have to trust her, too.

Charlee Tanner has moved back home to help with her family’s business, running wilderness and river tours in Florida. She had left home after a tragic incident in which a boy died while on an excursion with Charlee, but her family needs the help so she is trying to get back into the swing of things. When another boy is almost killed while on a trip with Charlee on the anniversary of the earlier death, things start looking suspicious. Hunter is a new leader in the Fish and Wildlife Service and Charlee’s best friend. He begins investigating the attacks, with Charlee’s help. Things escalate with the mystery and between Hunter and Charlee, who both are attracted to each other but are hesitant to start anything.

This book was…fine. I liked the action–there is a lot of chasing and investigating. I also liked that Charlee is a wilderness guide. It provided a fun, interesting setting for the story. She’s (mostly) capable and tough, and she knows how to survive. I also appreciate that she has a friendship with Hunter before a romance. Even though we come into the story after their friendship has been developed, I always enjoy a friends-to-lovers progression.

Overall, though, I didn’t think Hunter and Charlee’s romance was particularly compelling. They were both clearly interested in each other, but they each held back. Charlee was coming off a relationship with a jerk who definitely wasn’t right for her, so some initial hesitation at first made sense. It goes on way too long, however. She’s supposedly been friends with Hunter for a long time. She knows he’s not like her ex and never will be. It didn’t make much sense why she kept resisting so long. Plus, I didn’t really feel the passion there. Hunter definitely feels protective of Charlee, but he seems to feel protective of everyone! Moreover, Charlee’s brothers are part of the team of officers Hunter has recently taken over supervising. There is a whole sub-plot, where there is tension among the officers about his new role. It felt out of place and unexplored, and then there is a ridiculous “my brothers won’t like us dating” conflict, which I never appreciate. Why her brothers would care about her dating a stand-up guy like Hunter makes no sense. I wanted more passion, more conversation, and more grown ups all around.

This book wasn’t a total miss, but it certainly wasn’t one of my favorites either.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan

Posted May 15, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 418
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

48 hours2 covert operatives1 chance to get it right

Maddox Kinkade is an expert at managing the impossible. Tasked with neutralizing a lethal bioweapon, she turns to the one person capable of helping her stop the threat of pandemic in time: the love of her life, back from the dead and mad as hell at her supposed betrayal. Recruiting Cole to save millions of lives may be harder than resisting the attraction still burning between them, but Maddox will do whatever it takes...even if it destroys her.

When Maddox crashes back into Cole Matthews' life, he wants to fight back. He wants to hate her. But the crisis is too strong to ignore, and soon the two former lovers find themselves working side-by-side in a breakneck race to stop a world-class killer with a secret that could end everything.

It’s a secret agent book! I am always down for a good spy thriller, and this book didn’t disappoint.

Maddox Kinkade is an elite operative with a covert government organization trying to stop a bioterrorist attack. The problem is, the person they need help from is none other than the fiance she thought dead. For his part, Cole Matthews let Maddox think he was dead because she betrayed him. He doesn’t particularly care about helping the US government, but he doesn’t want to look the other way as people are murdered. Plus, he finds he’d still do anything for Maddox. They have to move beyond their past together and go all in to find and stop the terrorist threat.

Maddox is my favorite kind of heroine–she’s prickly, smart, and so very capable. She can fight with the best of them, and I adored seeing Cole slowly realize he didn’t need to protect his little woman. Cole was even pricklier, however. He feels so betrayed and hurt by Maddox, and it makes him snippy and mean at first. To be honest, the whole betrayal was a bit vague in my mind–it had something to do with Maddox telling her CIA father information about Cole’s Russian organized crime family. However, to me it seemed more like the real issue was that her family was in law enforcement while his were in crime! “Betrayal” or not, it didn’t seem realistic that they could have worked out when they were so young. They both needed to grow up and get the perspective of a little time and space.

The terrorist plot was great. You know who they’re chasing, and you get lots of scenes from his perspective. I love the cat-and-mouse story, where the killer seems to always be one step ahead. I also love a good “traitor in our midst” plot, and this book had that as well. In short, the plot ticked my buttons!

As with most action romances, there were some things that didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t know why the agency let Cole in on the operation. I get that they don’t have to follow the “regular rules” of law enforcement, but no way would they let a civilian (and one connected to organized crime no less) in on a case like this. Plus Cole’s family and their crime connection was not well explored. His dad was supposedly trying to go legit, but his brother is not, and what exactly did Cole have to do with anything? There’s also a little bit of melodrama in Maddox’s past. (Small SPOILER ALERT for a content warning: there’s talk of miscarriage in the book.) But listen, I don’t read action romance for the accuracy or relatability. None of this bothered me enough to diminish my enjoyment of the book!

This was an excellent story from a new author, and I cannot WAIT to read more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,