Author: Rowena

Throwback Thursday Review: Serendipity by Carly Phillips

Posted November 19, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Serendipity by Carly PhillipsReviewer: Rowena
Serendipity by Carly Phillips
Series: Serendipity #1
Also in this series: Serendipity
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 283
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Faith Harrington is a classic girl of privilege-until her father is convicted for running a Ponzi scheme. Now she's back in her hometown, where she runs into her teenage crush-dark, brooding Ethan Barron, who's no stranger to scandal himself.

This review was originally posted on September 8, 2011.

I was in the mood for a contemporary romance and this fit the bill so I picked it up. I wasn’t sorry that I did either. This book was cute and I was pleased with my selection. I haven’t absolutely loved every single book that I’ve read by Carly Phillips but I was delighted with this book. Getting to know both Ethan and Faith made for an entertaining day of reading and this book made me thirsty for more. I’m more than a little anxious for Dare and Nash’s story.

This book follows Ethan Barron and Faith Harrington as they make their way back to their hometown of Serendipity, New York. Faith Harrington is looking for a fresh start and Ethan is looking to repair the relationship between him and his brothers.

Things don’t start out so promising for either of them since Faith’s father is responsible for the making a lot of families in Serendipity broke and Ethan’s brothers aren’t at all interested in repairing their estranged relationship. While I understood Ethan’s brothers reasons for not wanting to have anything to do with him, I didn’t understand the town’s reaction to Faith. I wasn’t a fan of them making their little snide remarks to Faith like she had anything to do with her father’s actions.

Of the two brothers, I didn’t like Nash the most. While I understood why he was so angry with Ethan, his attitude throughout the entire book grated on my nerves and more than anything, I wanted to punch him in the nuts and go on my merry way. To hell with him and to hell with his stupid, woe is me attitude. I think what made him worse was that he held Faith accountable for her father’s actions and all of the shit that he gave her about it made me want to karate chop him in balls. I liked that Dare was more accepting at giving Ethan a chance even though it took some effort on Ethan’s part for him to come around. It was only right that Ethan made an effort to get his brothers to forgive him.
The relationship that blossomed between Faith and Ethan was my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed watching these two come together because they weren’t stupid about their feelings. They were both mature about it and dealt with their growing attraction and then feelings the way that you would hope mature adults would deal with their feelings. They were both upfront and honest about their reservations but they didn’t use their past betrayals and hurts to dissuade them from giving their relationship a go. I liked that even though both of them weren’t looking for a relationship, they didn’t run away from each other with idiotic excuses.

My second favorite part of this story was the addition of Tess. I loved Tess like she was my own little sister and I enjoyed watching her thaw and then let Ethan in. I loved how protective she was over Ethan and Faith and I loved how she did what she thought was right even when it caused bigger problems for those she had come to love. She was a good kid and she made this book all the more enjoyable because she was in it.

This book was good and I’m glad that I picked it up. Even though the next book is Nash’s story, I’m still looking forward to it. Nash is my least favorite brother but I’m interested in seeing Carly Phillips work Nash’s magic on me. Fans of Carly Phillips will enjoy this new addition to her back list and people looking for a good, fun and steamy romance to take with them to the beach should pick this one up. They won’t be sorry.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaught

Posted November 12, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Once & Always by Judith McNaughtReviewer: Rowena
Once and Always by Judith McNaught
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: September 20, 1990
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

Across the vast ocean sailed Victoria Seaton, a free-spirited American beauty left suddenly orphaned and alone. Eager to claim her long-lost heritage, she was amazed at the formal elegance of Wakefield, the sumptuous English estate of her distant cousin...the notorious Lord Jason Fielding. Sought after at plays, operas, and balls by London's most fashionable ladies, Jason remained a mystery to Victoria. Bewildered by his arrogant demeanor, yet drawn to his panther-like grace, she came to sense the searingly painful memories that smoldered in the depths of his jade-green eyes. Unable to resist her spitfire charm, Jason gathered her at last into his powerful arms, ravishing her lips with his kisses, arousing in her a sweet, insistent hunger. Wed in desire, they were enfolded in a fierce, consuming joy, free at last from the past's cruel grasp. Then, in a moment of blinding anguish, Victoria discovered the shocking treachery that lay at the heart of their love...a love she had dreamed would triumph...Once And Always.

This review was originally posted on April 21, 2016.

***THIS REVIEW WILL BE FILLED WITH SPOILERS SO KEEP SCROLLING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK AND DON’T WAIT TO BE SPOILED***

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Alright, you’ve been warned…

It’s been ages since I’ve read this book so when my book club chose it for last month’s discussion, I knew that I was going to have to re-read it since I couldn’t remember anything aside from the gift that Tory gave Jason and that she kissed his back.

And that thing. For those of you guys who have read this book before, you know what I’m talking about. I’ll come back to that in a little bit.

Victoria Seaton known affectionately as Tory has been shipped to live in England with distant relatives after her parents die in a carriage accident. Victoria and her sister are sent to live with family they don’t know and have never heard anything about. Victoria looks just like her mother so she’s sent to live with Charles Fielding and her sister goes to live with their grandmother. When Victoria shows up at the Fielding residence, she’s met by Jason Fielding, Charles’ nephew who is the heir to all of Charles titles and businesses.

Jason wants nothing to do with a gold digging hussy from America and if Charles wants to house her, he’ll have to come and fetch the girl himself. Jason’s past has soured him on all relationships and he really wants nothing to do with anyone. He’s cold and he’s bitter and he’s been like that ever since his wife and son died a few years ago.

This wasn’t an easy romance to read. I remember loving the hell out of this book when I first read it. This was one of those romances that were filled with moments that I absolutely loved. Moments that broke my heart and then moments that enraged me so.

Jason was such a broken man that lived each day doing whatever he damn well pleased. He had not one iota of care left in his system for anyone outside of himself. He didn’t let himself get close to anyone and he preferred it that way and then Victoria Seaton comes into his life and she’s the complete opposite of him. She’s bright and happy where he’s dark and cold and she’s got this courage that shines from within and a caring touch for everyone that crosses her path. They shouldn’t have made sense together but over the course of the book, you see that they do.

I loved that when Jason finally owns up to his feelings for Tory, the love he showers her with made me all swoony. I loved that Victoria was able to reach Jason when nobody else could and I loved that her love for him grew over time and once she let herself fall out of love with Andrew and into love with Jason, I loved how all in she was. I loved seeing her thaw Jason’s heart with the gifts, by caring about his welfare and by just being herself. She was probably my very favorite part of this book.

What I didn’t love was how Jason jumped to conclusion after conclusion about Tory’s every move. It didn’t matter how out of character he knew it was, she was guilty before found innocent. I didn’t love the way that Charles manipulated Jason and Tory, no matter what his reasons were for doing so. And I didn’t love when Jason went to London right after their wedding and we find out who he was in London with.

I remember reading this book back in the day and being so completely sure that Jason didn’t cheat on Victoria when he was in London. Reading this book now? I am completely sure of the opposite. What’s funny is that while discussing this very thing with my book club, we were split down the middle. The ones who didn’t think he cheated, didn’t want to believe he did but the others? The others read it for themselves and it was plain as day that Jason was up to no good in London. Sure it was a sign of the times since he wasn’t the only Lord to keep a mistress but it was so disappointing to realize that he wasn’t the hero that I remembered. The hero that I was so sure of before. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older and a bit more cynical but to me, it was so obvious that Jason didn’t spend his nights alone in London and that hurt my heart.

Reading this book all over again reminded me how angsty McNaught romances are. She really pushes you over the edge, emotionally before dragging you back by your hair. This book was an emotional roller coaster that knocked me on my ass more than once. I rejoiced with Tory and Jason, I raged at the both of them but in the end? I was so hot damn glad that they got their shit together and did right by each other. I came full circle with this read and while I didn’t absolutely love it this time around, I wasn’t fully disappointed either. I would re-read this one again.

So if you’re going to read this one, prepare yourself. It’s not easy, the characters will drive you crazy but you’ll be okay. Haha.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Mystic Rider by Patricia Rice

Posted October 15, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Mystic Rider by Patricia RiceReviewer: Rowena
Mystic Rider: A Mystic Isle Novel by Patricia Rice
Series: Mystic Isle #2
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Ian Olympus, skilled fighter and visionary, has left the isle of Aelynn for the Outside World to retrieve a sacred chalice. He finds it in the hands of Chantal Deveau, who plans to buy her family out of prison.

But her outrage at his demand that she hand it over is nothing compared to her powerful, sensual response to his presence—and the startling conviction that their lives are irrevocably entwined. And Ian will soon have to choose between duty and desire.

This review was originally published October 13, 2008

Ian Olympus has been sent to Paris, France to collect a sacred chalice that belongs to his people. His people need it and his soulmate has it and so he has to go get because the people who were sent in before him to retrieve it have failed so he takes it upon himself to get it back. His soulmate is Chantal Deveau and she’s a French musician who’s father is passionate about his cause for the French Revolution. She’s very curious about the mysterious visitor who comes to retrieve a bell she’s had for a while, only she doesn’t have the bell anymore, she sent it with her servant to exchange so that she can bail her sister in law out of jail.

Being curious isn’t enough to stop Chantal from sleeping with this sexy man who comes into her house and sweeps her right off her feet and into his arms. She should be ashamed of the way that Ian makes her feel but she can’t because when she’s in his arms, everything feels as if they’ve been righted and she can’t seem to stay away from him.

Ian means to make her his wife but she has some reservations about that being that she doesn’t know anything about him other than he’s an exceptional lover and she can’t wait to find out more.

They’ve got a lot of things to conquer before their love can be given a shot but eventually they get there and when I was finally done with this book, I didn’t feel excited about the characters, I didn’t feel like jumping for joy because Ian and Chantal were able to get over themselves and find a true love that will last forever, I didn’t feel very much of anything. I thought the story was okay, I thought the dialogue dragged and overall the story was just okay for me.

Ian was a good hero, he was everything I love in a man. Strong, virile (hehe) and confident. He did what he had to do and oh well if you don’t agree with it. He had a good heart and he always put his duty before his wants and I really enjoyed that about him. And he was hot, can’t forget that he was flippin’ hot.

Chantal was an okay heroine, not so annoying that she bordered on TSTL but not very memorable either. She was just okay in my book. She was a musician and she sang great but I wasn’t exactly wowed by her character, she was just okay for me. Nothing too spectacular on her part.

The other characters were pretty average as well. I didn’t connect with anyone and I didn’t really feel excited about reading the other books in this series, this book was just okay. I found myself skimming parts of the book and wondering what book I was going to read next, that’s how excited I was about this story, I’m glad I finished it but I know that I won’t ever reread this book and I don’t have a need to read the first book (this is the second book) or continue on with this series. It was just a pretty average book.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Featured Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Posted October 15, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Featured Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee, Holly, and Rowena
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
Series: The Iron Covenant #1, Kate Daniels #9.5
Also in this series: Iron and Magic, Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 18, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 394
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…

But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming.

Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?
As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

Iron & Magic by Ilona Andrews is book 9.5 in the Kate Daniels series, and follows Hugh D’Ambray, Kate’s sort of step-brother and the anti-hero of the series. Roland, Kate’s father and father-figure to Hugh, has banished Hugh for his part in not bringing Kate to his side. Now Hugh is adrift. Without Roland’s magic there’s a gaping hole inside him. But his Iron Dogs need him, so he makes a deal with a devil…in exchange for a place to live, he’ll marry the White Witch and provide protection for her people.

Holly: I’ve been anxious for you two to finish this series already. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for you to have read this book.

Rowena: I’d say that that first 30-40% of the book dragged a little, and that’s why I was so over their bickering and fighting but things really kicked into gear for me when the Pack shows up to pick up the shapeshifter family. Oh man, Ascanio!! It was so good to see familiar faces and Ascanio always makes me smile so I was happy to see him.

Casee: I don’t know why but this isn’t one of my favorites. There were things I liked more than disliked. Actually, I didn’t really dislike anything. I was over it by the time I finished the book. The narration wasn’t great and the story just dragged for me. I think it would have been different if I would have read the thing.

Holly: I thought the first quarter-half of the book moved slow as well, but like Rowena, it picked up for me when the Pack showed up. Actually, even before then. When Elara and Hugh started working together for their people, that’s when it picked up for me.

Tell me, what did you think of Hugh as a hero?

Casee: I never really thought of Hugh as “bad”. I never really thought about him as a hero either. If anything, he’s most definitely an anti-hero.

Rowena: Hugh used to get on my damn nerves because of his interactions with Kate but I never hated him. I saw him as an anti-hero and am pleased that he got his own book so that we can see more of what makes him, him. I’m glad that we got to know him better in this book and I really enjoyed this one.

Holly: Hugh annoyed me, too, but I could never hate him. I especially loved him in Magic Rises. I really came to like him in this book. When he plays the good ‘ol boy, I cracked up. He was a right bastard in the beginning of this book, though. I didn’t hate him, but I wanted to smack the crap out of him a couple times.

Rowena: Hugh is a dick but holy cow, I like him. When that Senator came to bother Elara and Hugh put on that show for him and those mercenaries? My bloodthirsty ass jumped for joy. I also surprised myself because I didn’t know that I liked that kind of punishment. You learn something new every day, I guess. LOL.

Casee: One part of the book that sticks out for me is when Hugh confronted Roland. I thought it showed how far Hugh came as a hero/man. He even said that he’d never let Roland do anything to Kate’s child, which was surprising. I do want to learn more about Elara and her power. She’s one scary bitch. Who didn’t take any shit from anyone and was beloved by her people.

Rowena: Was Hugh “redeemed” for all of the shit that he did to Kate and everyone else in the previous books? What do you guys think? For me, it’s a little complicated but I’m glad that I know what drove him and that he feels the way that he does about his previous actions. I felt like Elara was right, he isn’t the same guy that we knew from before and I’m glad for that but I’m still mad about Aunt B, about Curran’s injuries, and about all of Magic Rises. I’m choosing to blame that all on Roland though.

Holly: I don’t know that I’d say Hugh was redeemed, exactly, but having a reason for why he did what he did makes things easier to swallow, I guess. It helps that the reason why was a good one, a believable one.

Rowena: There were also times when the strategy meetings and just meetings, in general, bored me. Like, there were too many long, technical explanations that I was like, do we really need all of this? But overall, this one was fun. I spent a lot of time saying, “What the fuck?” because seriously, what is Elara? I felt the exact same way that Bale did in that tunnel. Freaked the fuck out.

Holly: I agree the pacing of this one was slower than most of Andrews’ books. I understand we needed to see a lot of Hugh and the way his mind worked in order for us to move past what he did to Kate, but still. It was hard to stay focused at parts.

Casee: I found Elara to be a strong heroine. While the fighting got old, when it came down to it, Elara and Hugh had each other’s back.

Holly: I am looking forward to the next book. Do you two intend to read it?

Casee: Yes, I plan on reading it.

Rowena: I definitely plan on reading the next book. I like Hugh and Elara. I like, and am interested in getting to know the other Iron Dogs too. Do you guys know if it’s going to be another Hugh and Elara book? Since this book was in third person, I wasn’t sure. What is the next book about? Are we going to delve into what the heck kind of people Hugh aligned himself with because in that final battle when they gathered together and started chanted, I was like, WTF is going on here? And then when, was it Savannah? When she went freaking crazy with her power?

I’d say that through about half of this book, I looked like this:

Thank goodness for Ilona Andrews because these books really kicked my reading slump to the curb. Two books in 4 days? Yes, please. More of this, please.

Holly: I can’t even begin to tell you how effing excited I am that you’re reading again? SO.Freaking.Excited.

Rowena: curtsies I’m back, bitches. Yay, me.

Overall though, I enjoyed this one. The last half of the book made up for the slow start and I’m glad that I stuck with it because Hugh and Elara ended up being a lot of fun together. I loved the way that they had each other’s back, even until the very end. I am mighty curious about what made Roland run the way that he did from Elara. Also, I hoped we would see Deirdre in the end. I really wanted to see her again but oh well. I’m giving this 4 out of 5 stars. What about you guys?

Holly: I believe there are 3 books planned about Elara and Hugh. Ilona Andrews said in a blog post earlier this year they had put it on hold because the tone is really dark and a main character dies, and they’re just not in the right head-space to delve into that right now. I have to assume we’ll learn more about Elara and her powers, and hopefully more about the Iron Dogs, too.

The last half was definitely better than the first, but overall, I enjoyed it. I would give it 4 out of 5. I can’t wait for you two to read Magic Triumphs now. <3

Casee: Hugh was so interesting when he was trying to kill/“date” Kate. I don’t know why (actually it was probably the narrator), but I just lost interest in Hugh. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to read the next book though.

I really enjoyed Elara. She saved the book for me. Her & the Iron Dogs. I give this a 3 out of 5.

Final Grades

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

The Iron Covenant

Kate Daniels

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Posted September 10, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Shadow Woman by Linda HowardReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Woman by Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From Linda Howard comes a thrilling and sensual new novel of romance, suspense, intrigue . . . and memories that can kill. SHADOW WOMAN  Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.   Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.   Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Linda Howard's Running Wild.
Praise for Shadow Woman  “Dazzling . . . From the opening line, [Shadow Woman] will grab readers and take them on an exhilarating and terrifying adventure!”—RT Book Reviews   “Fast-paced, intricately detailed romantic suspense . . . Readers won’t want to put it down until the extraordinary conclusion. . . . Highly recommended.”—Fresh Fiction   “An intriguing plot and captivating characters [with] lots of drama, tension, intrigue and suspense.”—The Star-Ledger

This review was originally posted on January 23, 2013.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book by Linda Howard.  I don’t even remember the last book that I read by Howard but whatever it was, I read it a while ago.  I was kind of wary going into this read because I read online that a chunk of readers were disappointed in this book and I also read that the hero and heroine don’t even come together (like talk to each other) until more than halfway through the book.  So yeah, I was scared to start this one.

Having read it from cover to cover now, I can say that the readers were right that the hero and heroine talk to each other (as love interests) for the first time at about the 70% mark on my Kindle copy.  But I wasn’t too mad about that, I was actually very interested in what was going on in the story that I didn’t mind too much.

This story takes place in DC and follows Lizette Henry as she tries to remember the life that brought her to where she is today.  She wakes up one morning and doesn’t recognize the face that is looking back at her in the mirror.  Things aren’t adding up to what she knows and she starts to remember how to do things that she can’t remember learning so a huge chunk of this book is trying to find out what happened to Lizette that brought her here and so on and so forth.

Lizette is known as Subject C to the people that are monitoring her.  Her entire life is bugged.  There isn’t a part of her life that isn’t carefully monitored and Lizette doesn’t have any idea why.  When flashbacks start coming in, Lizette starts relying on old habits that she doesn’t remember but knows how to do anyway.  When the bullets start flying, Liz is on her own until the guy that she’s been dreaming about, X shows up and at first she doesn’t trust him because he shows up with guns and he’s chasing her and blah blah blah but that changes after they finally talk.

I enjoyed this story but I will admit that it was really slow in the beginning.  It took me a while to really get into the story but by about the fifth or sixth chapter, things picked up and things got interesting.  I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the putting the puzzle pieces together.  This book was kind of like The Hangover, the Secret Service edition.  Lots of action, not a lot of romance but still an enjoyable read.  I would have liked to get to know Xavier a bit more but aside from that, this was a good read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

three-stars


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