Tag: Serial novel

Guest Review: Dangerous Attraction: The Complete Serial by Sidney Bristol

Posted July 28, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Dangerous Attraction: The Complete Serial by Sidney BristolReviewer: Jen
Dangerous Attraction: The Complete Serial by Sidney Bristol
Series: Aegis Group #1
Publisher: Inked Press
Publication Date: December 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Ex-Navy SEAL Travis Ration is an expert hunter. Whether his prey is criminal or victim, he always gets his mark. He's no hero, just a man doing his job. It’s all he has after a felony conviction after a bad judgement call. When the FBI call in a favor and ask him to look into a serial killer over the holiday break, he jumps at the opportunity to fill the long, cold days with something besides regret and bad movies. In Las Vegas, he's on the hunt for a prolific serial killer no one wants to admit exists. The leads are dry and the evidence gone, until she walks into his life. Bliss Giles—curvy, sassy and everything he can't have.

What’s worse, Travis knows Bliss’ sister is the killer's latest victim. She fits the profile. Time is running out and the fastest way to retrace the killer's path is with Bliss at Travis' side. In the seat of danger. He vows to keep Bliss safe and his hands to himself, after all, a nice girl like her doesn't need a guy like him in her life. Too bad no one told Bliss Travis was off-limits. She tests his boundaries and pushes his control every minute they're together until he can't remember why wanting her is a bad idea.

The hunters become the hunted in this tale of serial killers and SEALs for hire. One broken man must unpack his baggage, a woman has make a leap of faith and a sister chooses to live in this new, romantic suspense serial by NYT & USA Today bestselling author, Sidney Bristol.

I picked this book up on a whim, and while I thought it had potential, it didn’t quite come together for me.

When the book opens, Bliss Giles is trying to get help from the Las Vegas Police to find her newly missing sister. Since it’s not even been a full day, the police aren’t taking her seriously, but Travis Ration (an ex-SEAL/quasi-FBI consultant) overhears her, and he thinks the case might be connected to a serial killer he’s helping investigate. Bliss and Travis start looking into the matter and realize Wendy has indeed been captured by this killer who kidnaps women, impregnates them, and then gruesomely murders them once their babies are born. (Yeah, this book is graphic, so stay far away if that bothers you!) There are so many twists and turns in this book that I won’t enumerate them all. Just know that there is a lot of investigating, a lot of blood and guts, and a lot of back and forth with this seemingly unstoppable killer.

As I mentioned, the book is gory, which isn’t necessarily a problem for me. It’s maybe not one I’d be rushing out to read on my lunch break, but I could handle it since I have a fairly high tolerance for blood in books. However, the gory parts absolutely DID NOT fit with the romance parts of the book. Bliss works at a sex toy shop, and I thought that part of the story was fun and cute. Travis isn’t exactly against sex toys, but he doesn’t see the point and seems to assume they’re just for women who have no companionship. Bliss isn’t a sex toy evangelist, but she does try to educate Travis on who uses toys and why they might want to. I enjoyed her openness and Travis’s willingness to listen. Plus, there are some sexy scenes of them exploring toys, which I think we just don’t see enough of in most non-erotic romances.

But let me tell you, sex toy explorations are particularly jarring to read sandwiched in between scenes of a killer cutting out someone’s organs! I especially couldn’t enjoy lighthearted sex scenes when Wendy was in a cage waiting for the killer to murder her. It took away from the relationship and the sex, and it was honestly kind of horrifying. I truly felt like there were two different books thrown together here: one a lighthearted contemporary romance about a sex toy shop employee and an alpha SEAL, and the other an intense and graphic serial killer story. Both books would make perfectly fine stories on their own, but put together they were uncomfortable and mismatched.

This book was originally published as a serial, and that may have contributed somewhat to the disjointedness I felt. I suspect it also contributed to uneven pacing. There were periods of the book where nothing happened and everything just dragged. The killer kept eluding them too, in ways that got more and more absurd, which meant that the resolution was delayed more than I thought reasonable. And Travis did a lot of back and forth–I care about her..no I can’t care about anybody…wait I do care about her…but I can’t. Ugh. He couldn’t make up his mind, and Bliss kept putting up with his crap. It didn’t feel organic, more like artificial conflicts to add tension.

All that said, I did like some parts of the book. The serial killer plot was horrific, yes, but it was also complicated and tense. I liked that Travis and Bliss did a lot of communicating about their feelings. There weren’t Big Misunderstandings–they used their grown up words to talk things out. The sex was fairly hot and interesting, if you could look at it in isolation from the serial killer plot. I want more sex toys in books!

All in all, I’d happily check something else out by this author (and this book is apparently the start of a series), but this particular book didn’t quite live up to its promise for me.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Review: The Kraken King Part VIII: The Kraken King and The Greatest Adventure by Meljean Brook (+a Giveaway!)

Posted June 3, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Kraken King Part VIII: The Kraken King and The Greatest Adventure by Meljean Brook (+a Giveaway!)Reviewer: Tracy
The Kraken King Part VIII by Meljean Brook
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 3rd 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 82
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five-stars

Arriving in Krakentown with their enemies in hot pursuit, Zenobia doesn’t know how they can even hope to win. Being terrified brings forth an undeniable truth: she loves Ariq and will do whatever it takes to stand by him.

But as their adversaries appear on the horizon, they realize that not all is lost. Drawing on the power of the terrible war machine, Ariq, Zenobia, and the entire town must put their lives on the line to protect what they love…

Includes a bonus excerpt of Meljean Brook’s “Here There Be Monsters.”
Praise for the novels of the Iron Seas:
“A stunning blend of steampunk setting and poignant romance.”—Ilona Andrews, New York Times bestselling author
“Every glimpse of this alternate history leaves me fascinated and hungry for more.”—All Things Urban Fantasy
“Meljean Brook has brilliantly defined the new genre of steampunk romance.”—Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author
Meljean Brook lives in Oregon with her family. She is the author of the Guardian paranormal romance and Iron Seas steampunk series.

Everything that Ariq and Zenobia have been crazy.  They are now back in Krakentown and they have 3 different enemies to work through – the Empress being the one that could really make or break the town.  Ariq didn’t want to actually use the Skybreaker but he soon realizes that he has no choice and must do what he can to save his town. He uses all of his resources as well as the assistance of friends old and new and sets out to show that him and his town aren’t threats.
The final installment in the Kraken King was so very good.  Yes, it’s the conclusion to the story but it was almost non stop action and I loved it.
At the heart of Brooks’s stories we have romance.  This was shown so clearly and so wonderfully in Part VIII.  Zenobia and Ariq are so awesome together.  They are intellectually perfect for each other and I adore how much they love each other.  They finally have the faith in the other that their love is true and lasting.  It made my heart happy to read such a touching story.
Rating: 5 out of 5


Meljean Brook
The series:
I highly recommend this serial novel.  It’s much larger than a regular novel and is worth every penny imho. From word one I couldn’t get enough of The Kraken King and that excitement stayed with me throughout the series.
If you haven’t started it then you should. Now.  Go on, I’ll wait.  *twiddles thumbs* Okay you’re taking way too long.  Why don’t I help you along?  I’ll give away the first two parts to one lucky winner.  Believe me, you won’t want to stop reading.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

five-stars


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Guest Review: Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure by Ruthie Knox

Posted May 14, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

roman-holiday-by-ruthie-knoxJen’s review of Roman Holiday: The Complete Adventure by Ruthie Knox

Ashley Bowman has always been impetuous, but even she is a little shocked when she chains herself to a palm tree in the Florida Keys hours before a hurricane is due to blow in. It’s all with the hope of saving her childhood home from a heartless Miami developer. But the moment she meets Roman Díaz she realizes he does have a heart—it’s just encased in ice. Ashley’s determined to get Roman to crack . . . even if she has to drag him all over the eastern seaboard to do it.

Roman can hardly believe he’s been talked into driving across the country with this brazen wild child in a skimpy bikini. He tells himself he had no choice—Ashley insists he meets the elderly snowbirds whose community will be displaced by his career-making development deal. But in truth he knows that there’s something about Ashley that makes him want to get a little wild himself . . . and the closer they get, the more tempted he becomes.

I hate serials. It makes me cranky and frustrated to have to wait for another installment of a story I’m invested in, so despite the fact that I have enjoyed past Ruthie Knox books, I shied away from her serially published Roman Holiday. Now that all the episodes have been published as a complete set, though, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

The story opens with Ashley Bowman chaining herself to a palm tree in an attempt to prevent the demolition of her deceased grandmother’s Florida rental property by real estate developer, Roman Diaz. Knowing he can’t afford the bad publicity, Ashley is able to negotiate a truce, and it sets off a series of circumstances that throws the two together on an unexpected road trip. Right from the start, Ashley and Roman seem to be at opposite ends of the universe. Ashley is flighty and lacks direction in her life, but she has a huge heart and cares immensely for those around her. Roman has an almost laser-like professional focus for himself, but he’s closed off and virtually emotionally paralyzed. Each seems to represent the qualities the other most despises in life, and they are constantly at each other’s throats. The more time they spend together, though, the more they learn that the other is more complex than they thought.

Roman Holiday is kind of a classic epic story. Ashley and Roman essentially go on a quest to resolve this issue of what to do with the property, though like any great quest the actual purpose turns out to be much  more meaningful. On that quest they encounter various characters who both contribute to or try to disrupt their journey, and, most importantly, they go through their own personal transformations. In the end, both see themselves, the world, and each other much differently. Ashley has to deal with her complicated grief about her grandmother’s death. Roman has to come to terms with his own terrible background. Both have to figure out who they are apart from the definitions and limits others have imposed on them. I loved that this story is just as much about the personal journey each one of them has to make as it is about how they come together.

The story was not easy at first, however. I really disliked both Ashley AND Roman for a good chunk of the book! Ashley is annoying and self-righteous at the start. I struggle to sympathize when characters make stupid decisions, and Ashley seemed to make a lot of them early on. Roman was unlikable too–he was so out-of-touch with emotions (his own and others’) that it was bizarre and off-putting. As each character is slowly revealed and explored, I grew to understand and appreciate both of them more. As with most epics, the hero and heroine have to get torn down before they can get built back up. Roman in particular kind of falls apart, losing his clothes, his girlfriend, his pristine car, and even his sense of self to some extent. But after that tear down, Knox builds them back up, and that’s where the magic happens. Ashley and Roman both genuinely grow and change during the story, and both end as better people than they started.

The romance is slow to develop (at least in terms of number of pages), but the payoff is just lovely. While most of the story technically takes place over the course of only about 2 weeks, this is kind of a leisurely book because it’s so long. There is a lot of intensity and interaction packed into those weeks, and Knox really explores it all in this longer format. While in the book Ashley and Roman go from enemies to lovers in only a few days, it doesn’t feel that rushed because they spend so much concentrated time together. I appreciate that they don’t “fix” each other either. They most definitely serve as inspiration for each other, and they push the other to be the best version of themselves that they can be, but Ashley and Roman both have to do the work of growing on their own. I love seeing couples that enhance, rather than complete, each other!

Roman Holiday is a complex story. In particular, I appreciated the nuanced way Knox explores the notion of family. At first the set up seems like so many other romances, where there are clear “good guys” and “bad guys” in Ashley and Roman’s past. The book reminds us that families are never perfect, however, and no one loves perfectly. People make mistakes, do hurtful things, try hard but screw up. They also love fiercely, make the best of difficult situations, and do what they think is right at the time. In other words, life is messy, complicated, and scary, which is exactly what both Ashley and Roman have to learn to cope with. The message of continuing to hope and love despite the fear and mess is really powerful and moving.

I could go on and on about this book because there is just so much more to explore–issues of race (Roman is black, of Afro Cuban descent), immigration, and gentrification; a side story focused on Roman’s ex-girlfriend, etc. It’s not perfect, of course. There were times it felt like things moved too quickly (Roman’s transformation in particular felt a little abrupt and drastic), and some of the set up is a little far-fetched. However, this story is so rich and unique that I loved it. I still don’t think I’d want to read it as a serial, but if you’re looking for a complex contemporary romance, I don’t think Roman Holiday would disappoint.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

This book is available from Loveswept. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Disarm: The Complete Novel by June Gray

Posted March 21, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Disarm: The Complete Novel by June GrayReviewer: Tracy
Disarm: The Complete Novel by June Gray
Publisher: Berkley, Penguin
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Format: eARC
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four-stars

 

When the secrets of the past begin to surface, the truth can be disarming…

Twenty-six-year-old Elsie Sherman has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Henry Logan, since she was twelve years old. Unfortunately, Henry—now an Air Force officer—has only ever treated her like a younger sister, stepping into her brother’s shoes after he was killed in action.

That is, until the night when one dance ignites a sensual fire between the two, leaving Elsie aroused and confused. Is she allowed to lust after her surrogate big brother, who also happens to be her roommate? As the passion between them crosses the line into a territory that teases with the forbidden, Elsie decides to give herself to the man she has always desired. But Elsie is not prepared for where the relationship will take her.

Henry has been harboring two secrets. One can bring them closer together. The other will tear them apart. Now, with each startling new revelation, Elsie realizes that only she can decide if the past can ever be forgiven—and if a future with Henry is worth fighting for.

Elsie Sherman has been in love with her brothers best friend since she was 12 years old. Despite the more intimate feelings she had when she got older, Elsie and Henry have become really great friends. In fact when Elsie’s brother heads to Afghanistan, Elsie takes over as Henry’s roommate.

One night at a nightclub Henry and Elsie have a “moment” and that changes everything. A few days later they sleep together and Henry tells Elsie that he loves her and has loved her for years. Right after that, however, Elsie finds out that Henry’s getting sent to Afghanistan – which is where her brother was when he was killed. Obviously Elsie is scared to let go but they get through their goodbyes.

Elsie survives the 6 months that Henry’s gone but when he returns he’s not the same. Their love goes from a relationship with a future to no relationship at all as Henry feels that he needs to be away from Elsie in order to find out who he is. When he finds out he’s back to claim her but Elsie’s been so broken-hearted that she may not take him back.

This novel started out as a 6 part serial. I have to say that I’m darned glad that I read it all at once because I’m not a patient person when it comes to finding out what happens next! 🙂 l Having all of the stories at my fingertips felt more like reading one long novel rather than separate stories and I really enjoyed that.

The story itself is such an emotional roller coaster. I wanted to hug Henry at one point and then hit him at another – then I was back to hugging…then hitting. You get the idea. He really was a great guy but with all he’d been through in his life he was a bit messed up. I understood his desire to find himself I just think he went about it in a way that was extremely hurtful to both him and Elsie and felt it could have been accomplished another way. I’m glad he went back for her, but the hurt he’d caused was almost insurmountable.

Elsie was, imho, a typical girl. She lived and loved and was a bright, friendly woman. I loved the banter that occurred between Elsie and Henry as it showed me the depth of their friendship. My heart ached for Elsie when Henry made his decision to break up with her, especially as the night before he’d been talking about being with her forever. When Henry comes back into her life I was happy to see that though she still loved him she didn’t take him back right away. How could she trust that he’d not up and leave again?

The ending was quite satisfying and I loved the last scene of the book – it was sweet and touching and I thought it was really done well. In the end I really liked the overall story and the writing.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Now, that being said…I read the bonus short story that was included that was about Henry and Elsie on their honeymoon. While at the end of the book I was definitely feeling the HEA this story made me doubt things and think that maybe it was just a HFN – pooh! In the short Elsie is once again doubting her trust in Henry. If she doubted him then why did she marry him! Ug. I admit I was a bit frustrated. Though the story is fun and cute it I kind of wish I hadn’t read it. sigh lol

four-stars


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