Tag: Shirlee McCoy

Guest Post: Whitley’s DNF Roundup

Posted December 21, 2015 by Whitley B in Reviews | 3 Comments

So, in the first week of my self-professed “month of only reading Christmas romances” I have read…one Christmas romance.  And I DNFed before I got to the Christmas part. Oops.

In fact I DNFed most of these, but that’s par for the course with me and romances.  I’ll drop them with relative ease because so many things in romance bug me, but at least I think it’s fun to dig through stacks of these things looking for the gems. 😀

Against the Sky
1. Against the Sky by Kat Martin

ALASKA
In America’s last wilderness, there are no limits to what a man can do.

For detective Nick Brodie, that means keeping the perps off the streets of Anchorage 24/7. Nick has never backed down from danger, but after the horrors he’s seen, he’s definitely in need of a break.

Samantha Hollis never thought she’d meet anyone like Nick, especially in a place like Las Vegas. But after one reckless, passionate night, she discovers the charismatic stranger is everything she wants in a man. But can he ever be anything more than a one-night stand?

When Nick invites her to Alaska, Samantha decides to find out, never guessing the depths she’ll discover in him or the tangle of murder, kidnapping, and danger about to engulf them both…

So, right off the bat, I wish the summary for this book had included the KIND OF MAJOR BABY PLOT.  I mean, really, the heroine’s unplanned pregnancy is the catalyst for most of the plot going on, and yet it’s completely missing from the jacket copy.  The murder mystery had promise, but the writing was a bit annoying and the sex was brief and vague.  (Come on, my interest in this genre is not exactly respectable, give me some steamy goodness!)  I quit when the hero decided to go condomless without asking permission first.  (Dude, I know she’s already knocked up, but that doesn’t mean you get to make that call solo!)

Tremain's True Love
2. Tremain’s True Love by Grace Burrows.

Tremaine St. Michael is firmly in trade and seeks only to negotiate the sale of some fancy sheep with the Earl of Haddonfield. The earl’s sister, Lady Nita, is pragmatic, hard-working, and selfless, though Tremaine senses she’s also tired of her charitable obligations and envious of her siblings’ marital bliss. Tremaine, having been raised among shepherds, can spot another lonely soul, no matter how easily she fools her own family. Neither Tremaine nor Nita is looking for love, but love comes looking for them.

Technically I finished this one, but eh.  I don’t know why I picked this book up; I find Burrows’ writing to be very hard to follow.  It’s 95% dialogue and soliloquies, so very little normal narration, so I can’t keep track of where people are in a scene or what they’re doing.  You can be two pages into a scene and not know a character is present until they start talking. But this one in particular irritated me because the ending had the heroine giving up her “passionate” work of being a healer.  And way too easily.  And I’m just not here for that.  I want my historical romances to be full of ladies defying society and doing their thang and gentlemen who gasp at first and then by the end love them for it anyway.  What is this whole stay home and conform to gender bullshit stuff?

The Earl Claims a Bride
3. The Earl Claims a Bride by Amelia Grey.

Harrison Thornwick thought he was safe. The fourth son to the Earl of Thornwick, there was no reason he couldn’t lounge his life away, drinking and carousing in the notorious Heirs’ Club. But when the sudden deaths of his father and brothers leave Harrison holding the bag, he needs a wife in haste, unless he’s to defy the rule of the prince. Unluckily for Harrison, the prince has an entirely different rule for him—his wife-to-be, Miss Angelina Rule. But when he sees the lady in the flesh, Harrison finds her too beautiful and fascinating to resist…Princely command or not, Angelina has no desire to marry Thornwick. Waiting for her sweetheart to return from the army, she’s not about to be paired up with an Earl—especially with an infamous scoundrel like Harrison. But with Thornwick determined to make her his wife in more ways than one, Angelina will have to put up all her defenses if she is to resist being seduced…

I loved the premise of this one, but the hero was just a little too…um, enthusiastic about the heroine’s youth.  (Also, first one of these I’ve read where the girl is legit having her coming out and isn’t a spinster.  Turns out I like spinsters.  I do not have a problem with this.)

Deadly Christmas Secrets
4. Deadly Christmas Secrets by Shirlee McCoy.

THE CHRISTMAS TARGET

When new evidence surfaces that Harper Shelby’s niece is possibly alive, Harper doesn’t expect it to endanger her life. For her protection, she has to put her much-guarded trust in Logan Fitzgerald, the man who unknowingly led a killer to her doorstep. Hired to track Harper down, security and rescue expert Logan doesn’t like that he’s been used to find a woman who someone apparently wants dead. Now he won’t leave Harper’s side until he can guarantee her safety and untangle the truth from the lies regarding her sister’s and niece’s murders. The closer they get to finding answers, the more intent the killer becomes on making sure that there won’t be a family reunion—or happily-ever-after—for Harper this Christmas.

Mission: Rescue—No job is too dangerous for these fearless heroes.

Got this one from Walmart about 75% because I just love the feel of those short slick paperbacks, and 25% because serial killer at Christmas!  I neglected to realize that it was from the “Inspirational” imprint, and I pretty much lost interest when I realized there wasn’t going to be hanky panky.  (I am terrible, I know.)  Shame, since the guy was the most respectful gun-slinger I’ve ever read in a romance.

Facing Fire
5. Facing Fire by HelenKay Dimon.

When his uncle is brutally murdered, Josiah King knows that business just got personal. His uncle’s ties to the Alliance can mean only one thing: Josiah and his black ops team are targets, along with everyone they love. Primed for vengeance, Josiah is determined to unravel the plot–until long-legged redhead Sutton Dahl becomes a dangerous distraction.

Sutton is very good at uncovering other people’s secrets—and protecting her own. When Josiah bursts into her life she’s torn between pushing him away and asking for his help. Mysterious, strong, and much too sexy, he’s a puzzle she longs to solve, and a temptation she can’t ignore.

Thrown together in the face of Alliance’s most lethal threat, Josiah and Sutton become unlikely partners, fighting for their lives even as the attraction between them flares into real passion. Torn between his team and the woman who means everything to him, Josiah will risk it all to save Sutton, even if that decision is his last.

It was a good premise, it really was.  I loved the set-up for getting the hero and heroine together.  He’s chasing a bad guy, she’s chasing the bad guy’s alias.  Her investigation makes her look suspicious, so he swings round to question her.  But it fell into that trap of just being WAY TOO MUCH right off the bat.  He burst into her room with a gun drawn on her, screaming about killing her if she does anything wrong, then asking vague questions, followed by more death threats.  JFC, dude, dial it down.  What even is with all this death talk; do you not realize you can’t interrogate a corpse?  (Which, really, is a big point here if you’re actually trying to catch said bad guy.)  And no further interaction from these two felt real after that.  How do you honestly have a romance after the “hero” makes you shit your pants?  (Didn’t actually happen, but realistically probably should have with that intro.)

Guest Review: Lone Defender by Shirlee McCoy

Posted November 30, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Lone Defender by Shirlee McCoy.

When private investigator Skylar Grady finds herself abandoned in the Arizona desert, she knows two things. First, her “simple” case tracking a deadbeat dad has someone spooked. Second—that someone will kill to keep her off the trail. So even when her rescuer, former patrol agent Jonas Sampson, wants her to leave, Skylar knows she’s staying. No one gets rid of her that easily. If Jonas wants her safe, then he’ll have to stick by her side. But her new partner is a mystery, too—one Skylar will risk her heart to solve.
From time to time I am pleased to encounter a novel that is not about sex per se but is really about relationships that grow out of the harsh realities of living and the push/pull of friendship.  As a part of the Heroes for Hire series, Harlequin, under their Love Inspired imprint, have given romance fans just such a novel.  It is a story of two people who have encountered perhaps the worst that life could throw at them, and yet in the midst of all the pain and regret, they discover depths of character in themselves and each other.

After finishing the novel, I came to believe that the entire initial scenario in the Arizona desert was really a kind of metaphor for the kind of life Skylar and Jonas had individually endured.  Finding oneself alone without water or resources in an alien environment like the Arizona desert, knowing that death was there, just around the next boulder or ridge, had to have seemed familiar to both these people who were living out an emotional desert existence within themselves.  That they survived was a mute testimony to the determination that had brought each of them to this time in their life, not expecting much of anything different in the months and years ahead.  Just get through one more day — a mantra that seems to have supported both Skylar and Jonas.

Yet throughout their story is woven their individual and collective struggle to see beyond the devastation.  Each had to come face to face with their need to trust again, their need to face their own fears of the future and especially of emotional involvement that would leave them once again vulnerable, and to face fully the claims their faith had upon them.  While this story is not “religious” in nature, it doesn’t back away from the fact that both these people had lost a part of their faith when they lost a part of themselves in the past.  As a part of their life picture, faith was important to them.  Whether or not that may be true in the reader’s frame of reference, it is still true for many people whose lives mirror the challenges these characters faced.  Regaining that lost sense of purpose in life meant regaining the robust nature of that lost faith.

I have not previously read any of Ms  McCoy’s work, but I was impressed with her storytelling abilities, with her excellent use of language, the consistent flow of the story, and the up-front inclusion of the faith factor in her story.  Yet these two people struggled mightily with their own issues even while trying to sort out their relationship with one another.  Wounds as deep as theirs just don’t heal overnight.  Both were so fearful of being vulnerable in the future that they almost lost their ability to love.  Ms McCoy seems determined to be realistic, open in crafting her characters, not backing away from the pain but not allowing it to overcome the story either.  Certainly this novel reveals a significant writing talent.

This novel could never be classified as erotic, but don’t think for one minute that the human emotions that permeate these pages are light weight and facile.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is a book filled with real people and readers will find that there are aspects of these characters they recognize, if not in themselves, then in people close to them.  I would be proud to have people like Skylar and Jonas in my real world.

I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5

You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place




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