Tag: Pocket Books

Guest Review: Touch of Red by Laura Griffin

Posted February 21, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 5 Comments

Guest Review: Touch of Red by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Touch of Red (Tracers, #12) by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers Series #12
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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Goodreads
four-stars

When crime scene investigator Brooke Porter arrives at the home of a murdered woman, the only thing more shocking than the carnage is the evidence that someone escaped the scene. But where is this witness now? A thorough search of the area yields more questions than answers, and before Brooke even packs up her evidence kit, she’s made it her goal to find the witness and get them out of harm’s way.

Homicide detective Sean Byrne has seen his share of bloody crime scenes, but this one is particularly disturbing, especially because Brooke Porter is smack in the middle of it. Sean has had his eye on the sexy CSI for months, and he’s determined to help her with her current case—even if it means putting his attraction on hold so he and Brooke can track down a murderer. But as the investigation—and their relationship—heats up, Sean realizes that keeping his work and his personal life separate is more complicated than he ever imagined; especially when the killer sets his sights on Brooke.

I was excited about CSI Brooke Porter when she was introduced in the last Tracer’s book, and for the most part her story didn’t disappoint. Brooke works for the Delphi Center, and she’s working with detective Sean Byrne to solve a murder. She’s also coming out of a messy, toxic relationship, and that causes some problems for her and her relationship with Sean.

I thought the investigation plot of this book was very strong. I really could not have predicted where this one would end up based on the initial murder! This isn’t a serial killer story like so many of the Tracers books have been, and I admit it was a good change of pace to get something different. Plus the villain is responsible for some awful things, and it’s satisfying to see that person get their just desserts in the end. I also really liked Sean and Brooke, both as individuals and as a couple. I thought they were a great compliment, and I could absolutely see them working out in the long term.

I did have some issues that kept nagging at me after I finished reading, though. First, there’s a plot line with Brooke’s ex-boyfriend that I just didn’t like. He was emotionally abusive and is starting to stalk her in this book. I didn’t see a need for that and felt like it was just gratuitous. Plus, the issue wasn’t really handled seriously in my mind. The whole thing is basically resolved by Sean threatening the guy, which was lame and felt out of character for Sean AND for the ex. That plot point goes nowhere and feels like it’s only there to manufacture a way for Sean to protect Brooke until the major villain starts to focus on her.

The other thing that bothered me was more subtle, and it wasn’t something that even bothered me while I was reading. It was only after, as I started to think about the book, that it started to get under my skin. Brooke doesn’t want a relationship at the start of the book. She admits she’s rushed from bad relationship to bad relationship for years, and she feels like she needs time alone to figure out what she wants and who she is independent of a man. She tells Sean this repeatedly, and he tells her he totally respects that. But then all he does is push her to start something with him. Obviously, Brooke wanted him as well, and it’s clear the reader is supposed to recognize that Sean is a great match for Brooke (and he very much is). My problem isn’t even that Sean sticks around after she tells him she doesn’t want a relationship. My problem is that he says “Yes I totally get it” while secretly thinking “But I really want her so I’ll keep trying to convince her and then she’ll see the light.” I just don’t like it when books subvert the heroine like that. It reinforces the idea that if it’s “true love” it’s ok to push past a woman’s boundaries and ignore what she’s telling you. It didn’t feel necessary, and it didn’t reflect well on Sean in my mind.

Despite these issues, I truly did enjoy this book. It was well paced, a good mix of excitement and geeky investigation, and had a great central couple.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Tracers Series

four-stars


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Guest Review: Say No More by Liliana Hart

Posted October 18, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Say No More by Liliana HartReviewer: Tracy
Say No More by Liliana Hart
Series: Gravediggers Series #3
Also in this series: Gone to Dust
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Sometimes the dead do rise...

Dante Malcolm is a man of refined tastes. He was once a part of Britain's Elite Intelligence Force, but there was a reason he'd never been able to capture Simon Locke, the notorious thief who always seemed to be one step ahead. That's because Dante and Simon were one and the same, until Dante's double life eventually caught up with him and now he belongs to the Gravediggers.

Liv Rothschild is a Detective Inspector with Interpol and is the one responsible for catching MI-6's most notorious agent in his final heist--except the heist killed him. But something has never felt right about his death, and it's haunted her for months. It was too easy, and Dante Malcolm was too smart to go down that way.

Dante might belong to the Gravediggers in body, but his heart and soul will always belong to the next job. The rest of the team doesn't know about his alter ego because he made sure the information went missing from his file. So when the job he's always waited for seems like a possibility, he sneaks out of the country like a thief in the night, only to run into the only woman who's ever been able to match him in wit--and passion--for the job. Except they're standing on opposite sides of the law--and only one of them can walk away with the prize.

Dante was born as Lord Dante Malcolm but when he was recruited into MI6 he was thrilled.  When he had the chance to become an international thief he took that position as well.  He did this with a clear conscience as he would only take things that had already been stolen from someone else.  He’d just take something else for himself while he was doing the job.  Strange, I know. He was then recruited into the Gravediggers and for all intents and purposes he was dead.

Dante hasn’t been thrilled in his time with the Gravediggers.  He is loyal to the other members and would die for them but their boss, Eve Winters, constantly has him doing side jobs that the other members don’t know about.  This story has him going after Russian nuclear missile launch codes in Dubai.  When he gets there he doesn’t expect to run into the woman he was in a relationship with at the time of his death.

Liv works for Interpol, or she did until recently.  She was working with Dante trying to catch the international thief, Simon Locke, and she had no idea that Dante was Simon.  When he died she was devastated by not only his death but the betrayal she felt at finding out that he’d lied to her about Simon Locke.  Liv is in Dubai looking for 10 girls who are in the middle of a sex trafficking ring.  She quit her job at Interpol when they wouldn’t give her authorization to go after the girls.  The last thing she expects is to see her dead ex-boyfriend breaking into the vault that she’s trying to break into.

To say that Liv is mad at Dante’s deception is a bit of an understatement.  To say that when Dante’s fellow Gravediggers are enraged and feeling betrayed when they find out the truth about Dante and his side work for Eve is putting it mildly.  Everyone was pissed at Dante but when the heads cooled they knew they had to work together to get not only the launch codes into the right hands, but also save the 10 little girls.

Another good book in the Gravediggers series.  I liked both Dante and Liv in this story even though Dante was a bit of an ass at times.  He was still charming and good-hearted and I couldn’t help but like him.

Liv had personal reasons for getting into the fight against sex-trafficking.  Her twin sister had been kidnapped when they were six and had never been found.  Liv had lived her life trying to find Elizabeth with no luck.  She wanted to save as many little girls as she possibly could.  She was a good person and frankly at times I thought she was a bit too good for Dante when he was acting the ass, but they ended up fitting nicely.  The romance in this book definitely took a back seat to the launch codes and sex trafficking issues but that was as it should be. This was who Liv and Dante were and how they lived their lives so it was nice to see the relationship grown within the job.

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5

four-stars


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Retro Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries

Posted August 16, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Retro Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina JeffriesReviewer: Holly
The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Hellions of Halstead Hall #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 19th, 2010
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 392
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four-stars

Hellions of Halstead Hall

They're the scandalous Sharpes, five hell-raising siblings tainted by a shocking family legacy. Now each faces a daunting ultimatum: marry by year's end—or kiss their inheritance good-bye.

In the two decades since a tragic "accident" took the lives of his parents, Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, has survived the scandal surrounding that fateful night by living as an unrepentant rakehell. And with his grandmother vowing to disinherit him if he doesn't settle down and wed, he plans to fulfill the bargain in true Sharpe style—by bringing home a fake fiancée from a brothel! But his scheme is derailed when he rescues an American beauty in a dire predicament instead.

Maria Butterfield came to London to track down her groom-to-be, who's gone missing, but her engagement won't stop Oliver from getting what he wants: her, in his bed. His rebellious masquerade may call his grandmother's bluff, but it's soon made all too real—by a love that tempts him to be a hellion no more.

As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Rowena: I love reading old reviews by Holly. She never fails to get her point across a lot more eloquently than I do. I remember putting this book on my TBR a long ass time ago and are you surprised that I never got around to reading it? Ha!

This review was originally posted on February 16, 2010.

Sabrina Jeffries can be hit or miss for me, but I really adored this book.

Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville, is being forced to marry. Though he’s titled, he’s broke and has 4 siblings to care for. Each of them acts scandalously, earning them the nickname the Hellions of Halstead. Their grandmother, determined to have great-grandchildren before her death, has issued an ultimatum: Either they all marry, or they’re all disinherited.

Oliver has no intention of marrying. He figures he can call his grandmother’s bluff by finding the most unsuitable bride ever. She comes in the form of one Maria Butterfield, an American heiress who has come to England to find her missing fiance. Not only is she American, but she’s from common origins and basically alone in the world.

Maria is only in England to find her missing fiance. Now that her father has passed away she needs her fiance to settle the terms of her father’s will. Unfortunately all of her money is tied up in her father’s shipping business, so she’s basically operating on a shoe-string budget. When her cousin is caught out and she’s forced to accept Stoneville’s wild scheme in order to protect them both, it seems like a nightmare; until he agrees to help her find her fiance while she puts on the charade for his grandmother. It seems easy enough…

..but neither are prepared for the attraction and genuine liking they share for one another. Not that anything can come of it, what with Maria having a fiance and Stoneville determined to never marry and become like his parents.

This was such a fun story. I was determined to dislike both Maria and Stoneville in the beginning; her because she’s such a stick-in-the-mud and him because he was so much the rake. They both grew on me, however, and it wasn’t long before I was wrapped up in both of them.

Maria wasn’t really as uptight as she seemed. Once she loosened up and relaxed I really felt like I connected with her. She didn’t let Oliver get away with anything, which I thought was great. I did think she forgave him a bit too easily on occasion, but I was able to move past it.

I really liked Oliver and the way he was with is family. Though he was determined to ruin his own life, when it came to his siblings he really stepped up and did the right thing. The way he was so confused over his feelings for Maria was hilarious.

His guilt over the death of his parents and his subsequent actions didn’t make a lot of sense to me. His mother caught him in a compromising position and lashed out, saying some nasty things to him. Later that evening his parents are discovered in a hunting lodge dead – it looks like she shot him and then herself. Oliver is convinced he’s the reason his mother finally lost it and killed his father. But from then on he went out of his way to act just like his father…which made no sense. If he hated everything his father was and how upset his mother always became, why did he act the same way?

Similarly, the way his grandmother acted about the incident with her daughter frustrated me to no end. Toward the end she talks about it a bit, but for most of the book I was just annoyed with her over it.

Despite that one issue, I really enjoyed all the secondary characters. Especially Oliver’s siblings and Maria’s cousin. They really added just the right amount of silliness to the story. I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about them as the series continues.

This was a sweet love story with charming characters. I recommend it if you’re in the mood for a can’t-put-down historical romp.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLane

Posted August 14, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLaneReviewer: Holly
All I Ever Wanted (Heartthrob #1) by LuAnn McLane
Series: Heartthrob #1
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
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two-half-stars

From author LuAnn McLane comes the first in a brand new series featuring the sexy Heart brothers: formerly the members of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat, they’re all grown up and back together for one last reunion tour….

When Grady Heart, former lead singer of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat and eldest of the brothers, decides to bring the group back together for a highly anticipated reunion concert, he doesn’t expect to be met with so much resistance from his brothers. He also doesn’t expect them to hire his ex-girlfriend and ex-Heartbeat choreographer Arabella York to help the band rock some new dance moves.

Back in Heartbeat’s glory days the brooding bad boy fell hard for Arabella; the studious, stable dance teacher tamed Grady’s wild side but her lack of trust in him eventually drove them apart. Although their chemistry burns hotter than ever, Grady tries to keep his relationship with Arabella strictly professional this time around but in his heart, he might just still long to find out what could have been.

Grady Heart and his brothers were a wildly popular teen boy band. They quit performing when their mother got sick. Now that she’s gone, Grady is organizing a benefit reunion concert in her memory. All his brothers are on board, but there’s a problem…the slick dance moves they used as teens just aren’t possible now that they’re adults. Grady wants everything to be perfect since this is such an important cause. Even so, when his brothers suggest they contact their old choreographer, Arabella, Grady refuses. She broke his heart once. He isn’t willing to give her a second chance. Too bad for him, his brothers go behind his back and call her. Faced with the prospect of spending time with the woman who disappeared without backward glance, Grady admits he still isn’t over her. But he’s not going to give her his heart again.

Arabella is in a financial pickle. She opened a string of successful fitness studios, but she got in over her head and expanded too quickly. Now she either needs a serious infusion of cash or she’s going to be forced to take on a demanding partner who wants to rebrand her entire operation. But facing bad boy Grady Heart again after he ruined her for love isn’t high on her list of fun things to do. Still, she doesn’t have much choice if she wants to save her studios. Now she just needs to keep a calm head around Grady. There’s no way she’s going to risk falling for him again. She learned the hard way the rockstar life is not for her.

I really struggled with this book. I like rock star romances and figured a light boy band second chance love story was right up my alley. Sadly the brothers seemed to suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. Despite all being in their late 20’s-early 30’s, they still acted like teenagers. The heroine was just as bad. Between her refusal to talk things out like an adult and the way she ran every time something got hard, I had a hard time buying that she was an adult with a successful string of dance studios under her.

I really believed Grady cared for her, but I wasn’t as convinced of Arabella’s feelings. She was closed off and ran at the first sign of trouble or drama. Because she didn’t stick with him, despite her saying she loved Grady, I didn’t buy it.

The premise was good, and I enjoyed some of it. I may continue on with the series.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: Second Chance Season by Liora Blake

Posted August 1, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Second Chance Season by Liora BlakeReviewer: Tracy
Second Chance Season by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #2
Also in this series: First Step Forward, First Step Forward, Second Chance Season, Ready for Wild (Grand Valley #3)
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: June 20th 2017
Pages: 336
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four-stars

Return to Liora Blake’s Grand Valley series with Second Chance Season, in which an avowed country boy with a family duty meets an ambitious city girl with even bigger goals and who shows him just what he’s been missing.

Garrett Strickland is unapologetically country, fiercely loyal, and perfectly happy with his job at the Hotchkiss Co-op. Garrett is all about living in the present and not dwelling in the past—even if he was once on his way to a lofty agricultural sciences degree that would guarantee the brightest of futures, only to end up back home when his old man died, leaving behind a debt-ridden family farm that was impossible to keep afloat. After that, it was easy to see why dreaming big wasn’t worth the heartache. And until he crosses paths with a city girl who’s hell-bent on kick-starting her own future, he’s sure that good enough is just that.

Cara Cavanaugh is ready for more from life, even if that means changing everything; including dumping her boyfriend of ten years, turning down a lucrative job at a major newspaper, and leaving behind the upscale suburbs of Chicago where she grew up. Now, she just has to pray that temporarily relocating to the middle of nowhere in Colorado will be the first step in building a career as a freelance journalist—all she has to do is prove she’s got what it takes to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her tony country day school is as close to “country” as she’s ever been. But when a goodhearted guy who looks like he just stumbled out of a country music video offers to help, she ends up falling hard…and discovering that the perfect story is a love story. And it’s theirs.

Second Chance Season, book two in the Grand Valley series, is a charming, feel-good romance, perfect for fans of Jennifer Probst and Kristan Higgins.

Cara has become a freelance journalist and is doing a story on the ag industry in Grand Valley.  She is staying at the home of a friend.  The home used to be owned by Garrett Strickland’s family but he had to sell it after his dad died.  Garrett helps Cara with the little idiosyncrasies of the house when needed and this puts the two of them in close proximity.

Garrett ends up helping Cara with her story as well.  He introduces her to local farmers so that she can have an in.  It’s a huge help to Cara but it makes Garrett happy because he gets to spend more time with Cara.  Soon the two are sleeping together and falling in love.  Cara, however, is not supposed to stay in Hotchkiss and Garrett feels he has nothing to offer Cara as he just works at the co-op.  The pair each have to figure out their lives before they can be together.

This was another great story from Blake.  I loved Hotchkiss the first time around and the second was just as good.  The story was very different from book one and I appreciated that.

Garrett was such a great guy and I loved him to pieces.  He had a huge heart and was raised right.  Though life hadn’t always treated him well he made the best of bad situations.  When he met Cara he had no intention of falling for her but he did lust after her.  I loved that the lust he felt turned into love which made for a great story.

Cara had been floundering.  She’d worked for a big newspaper but she felt stifled.  She went freelance and took the job to do the ag story for a magazine.  She loved it in Hotchkiss.  She felt right in the slower paced lifestyle.  Though she knew she shouldn’t fall for Garrett it happened and she was willing to make the moves she needed to in order to stay with him.  Garrett, however, needed to figure his shit out before they could be together.  I was happy that Cara could help Garrett see where he needed to be.

Overall the story was fun, sweet, sexy and just all-around great.  I definitely recommend this one. 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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