Tag Archives: D Review

Joint Review – In His Sights by Tina Beckett

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: NetGalley

During a hostile situation at the American embassy in Angola, Special Forces officer Cole Scalini is ordered to take out a suicide bomber and rescue a hostage. Simple enough for a sniper with his training, until he realizes that the woman in danger is neither a random nor a typical victim. She’s pregnant.

Callie Nascimento is carrying her sister’s baby as a surrogate when she discovers her sister was killed under suspicious circumstances. Now Callie’s become a target. Her only hope for survival is a rebel of another kind, a handsome loner of a military man who’s risking his life to
save her.

As Cole strives to keep Callie safe, fighting the terrain and terrorist attacks, his respect for her grows. She’s strong, capable and sexy as hell. But before he can explore if their attraction is something deeper, he has to get her safely back on U.S. soil. Because the enemy is much closer to home than they realize.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

MinnChica: I am a huge sucker for romantic suspense, especially ones done with sexy military heroes. Unfortunately, while I liked the overall premise of the book and thought that Beckett had a very strong plot, Callie drove me nuts. To the point that I couldn’t enjoy the story. Add in the few pregnancy issues that had me rolling my eyes every few pages, and I had a really hard time enjoying what could have been a really strong romantic suspense.

E: I was really looking forward to reading this.  The back cover blurb hinted at several things I thought I would enjoy.  Pregnant heroine on the run from the bad guys.  Hero was the elite military type. They were both in a foreign country needed to make their way to safety.  I thought they would be boiled down to their pure essence and along the way fall in love with each other.  Instead what I got was something that I had to fight extremely hard to finish and not chuck the ereader.  I had such a negative reaction to the heroine that I actually wanted the hero to turn her over to the bad guys and find himself another girl.  I was more invested in the interactions between the hero’s buddy and a poor model who had to deal with mistaken identity then in the primary characters.

MinnChica: There were times that I was totally with you on wanting Cole to just hand Callie over and wipe his hands of her. Between the bleeding heart for the bad guy and her constant “he can’t be THAT bad” mentality, she had quite a few TSTL moments. But for me, the parts that constantly frayed my nerves were all the pregnancy references. I never had any problem reading about pregnant heroines before, as long as it was believable. But maybe since I’m currently pregnant, little things tend to stick out to me. Like the fact that Callie’s sister named the boy before she died, when Callie was only 4-5 weeks pregnant. Ummmm… Not possible. Or how Callie was always able to feel the baby move at 16 weeks whenever she placed her hand on her tummy. Ummmm… highly unlikely to not only feel movement through your hand, but also that the child would move – AT YOUR WILL. Every time the pregnancy and baby was brought up, I just wanted to roll my eyes and wished over and over again that the heroine wasn’t knocked up. I think the story would have been strong without it.

E: MinnChica it wasn’t just you being pregnant.  I have never been pregnant but listening to my sister and watching my mom through three pregnancies I found myself highly skeptical.  It was like the pregnancy was there to make me, the reader, feel that the bad guy(s) was the most awful thing around.  Instead I was extremely annoyed by the “convenience” of it coming into play.  I was willing to give Callie the benefit of the doubt with her first TSTL moment but once Cole told her that the bad guys were asking for her BY NAME she should have realized that now is the time to survive not change clothes, steal hand sanitizer, find a bathroom, take a bath, go into the woods when told not to, sneak away to CALL her brother-in-law using her credit card number.  In other words each time I thought she couldn’t get stupider she did and it was wilful stupidity not just ignorance.  She made the decision each time to do something the hero had told her NOT to do.  I will say that I think the plot twists Beckett included were unexpected but the characterization ruined this read for me.

MinnChica: I agree, Callie really did ruin the book for me, especially since I thought that Beckett really had a strong overall plot. I liked the suspense in the book, I thought all the twists and turns and the overall story line (minus the pregnancy) was an incredible idea and had the foundation to be a really strong romantic suspense. The bad guys were truly awful and evil to the core, the man behind the curtain came as a bit of a surprise toward the end, especially since Beckett did such a good job of leading the reader on a wild goose chase of who-did-it. If it came down to just the plot, I would give Beckett high marks. But like E said, Callie and the pregnancy just pulled what could have been a really strong book down into a hard-to-read struggle.

E: I am not a huge character driven reader because I really need a good plot but I like my characters to keep me interested in what they are going through while I read.  In this case I was not able to do that even though  Beckett was able to keep me guessing about the identity of the ultimate string puller.  That was a benefit but it was extremely difficult to appreciate that benefit when I had to fight through thee characters to get to the plot.  I agree the bad guys were pretty darn bad.  I was impressed by their justification for their actions.  It wasn’t that they didn’t have a conscious but that they decided that the ends justified their means, regardless of those means.  If you happened to get in the way then that was your own fault and you would pay for getting in the way.  Unfortunately based on my strong dislike of the heroine I am not inclined to pick up anymore of Beckett’s writing.

I give In His Sights a D-

MinnChica:  All in all I really struggled with how to rate this book. On one hand, the plot was really strong and the suspense aspect was so well done and executed so well. On the other hand, Callie was so difficult to read and enjoy as a character. The pregnancy drive me bonkers every single time it was brought up, and while I liked Cole, he wasn’t anything remarkable in the romantic suspense hero category. I really wanted to like this book and thought that it had some incredible potential, but it just wasn’t for me.
I give In His Sights a D+

Carina Press | Amazon

Review – The Last Victim by Karen Robards

Publisher: Ballantine
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not.

A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.

Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world.

Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help.

This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts.

Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I was looking forward to trying Robards, because so many people talked up just how wonderful her romantic suspense books are. I was a little hesitant because this was a new paranormal series, but I like paranormal as well, so I figured all would work out. Yeah, not so much.

Charlie has dedicated her life to studying serial killers after the traumatic event of her childhood. The last thing she ever expected was to be tapped by the FBI to act as a consultant on the case that is looking to be more and more like the serial killer from her past. Charlie doesn’t want to go, but the FBI convinces her it’s best. So with her FBI protection detail and shaky nerves Charlie goes off to help the case.

But the FBI doesn’t know about Charlie’s gift/curse of seeing people right after they die a horrific death. While it helps with finding and tracking down murderers, Charlie has a slight problem, one of the serial killers, Michael Garland, she was profiling in prison has attached himself to her and is actively haunting her. Garland refuses to be ignored, but is also willing to help her out in any way he can. With her gift, Garland’s help and the FBI team, they just might be able to solve this case before Charlie becomes the next victim.

I will admit that I liked the overall premise of the book. I liked that Charlie could see ghosts, interact with them, etc. I liked the serial killer case, it was creepy and scary and all around suspenseful. However, the romance in this book was horrible. I didn’t like it at all. Charlie had a few shared kisses with sexy and understanding FBI agent Tony, but the real romance of this story was between Charlie and Garland, the man she had been profiling as a serial killer for who knows how long. That is creepy, and gross, and creepy, and gross!!

The romance between these two was uncomfortable for me to read. Charlie never really seemed to think, at any time, that Garland WASN’T a serial killer. She even had to remind herself time and time again that he killer numerous women, that he was a stone-cold killer. Then she would turn around in her own ghost form (while astral projecting) and get down and dirty with the guy. I can’t count the number of times my eyes popped out of my head and I screamed at her: “HE’S A SERIAL KILLER! WTF??”

Even though the case with the killer was intriguing, I couldn’t get over the romance. I tried to get past it, tried to ignore the whole sleeping with a serial-killer aspect, but I just couldn’t. The direction that Robards chose to go with the romance clouded the rest of what could have been a stellar series. I can honestly say I probably won’t be picking up any of her books in this series in the future.

All in all this story was lost on me. While I think this could have been a solid story: it had an interesting premise and world and an intense and unique serial killer case that kept me guessing until the very end, the romance was so poorly done IMO, it ruined everyone else. I don’t know that anything other than a move away from the romance between Charlie and Garland could have made this book better for me.
I give The Last Victim a D-

Amazon | Kindle

Review – Where the Heart Lies by Michelle Garren Flye

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

All widowed Alicia Galloway has left of her war-hero husband are the flag that draped his coffin and his final wishes: to move to his hometown, take over the family bookstore and enjoy a simple, quiet life with their two small children. When she arrives, her husband’s best friend makes that new life anything but simple. How can she be so drawn to Liam Addison?

Liam only intended to help Alicia get settled. But one unexpected kiss awakens his long-held forbidden feelings. Soon, the town busybodies swoop in to warn Alicia away from him. Because no matter the man he’s become, he’ll never live down his reputation as town troublemaker and wolfish womanizer.

No one wants the war hero’s sweet widow and the supposedly former bad boy together. But the more everyone tries to keep them apart, the closer he and Alicia get. And the more determined Liam is to prove he’s a changed man. Will it be enough to convince Alicia to let a new love in her life?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I had some really high hopes and expectations for this book, and while there were some parts I definitely enjoyed, I hate to say that overall, this one really didn’t work that well for me.

Alicia’s husband wanted to move their family back to his hometown and take over his father’s bookstore. When he was killed in action, Alicia honors his wishes and moves herself and two small children back to his childhood home. Only life isn’t what Alicia expected. She finds herself attracted to Liam, the childhood best friend of her late husband, and an entire town who doesn’t want to see the two of them together.

Despite the town’s constant butting into her life, Alicia and Liam develop a close friendship that over time blossoms into more. As scared as Alicia is to love again, the pull between her and Liam is one that she has the hardest time overcoming, and with Liam out to prove what a wonderful man he’s become, Alicia might be willing to give love a second chance.

The biggest thing that annoyed me about this book was Alicia’s supposed best friend Penny. Although they had only met once or twice before Alicia’s move, Penny swooped in and demanded the two become besties. That didn’t bother me, but it was the incessant nagging and badgering and putting down that Penny did to Alicia for her relationship with Liam. It was almost as if Penny was jealous of their friendship and developing relationship, so she constantly told Alicia she shouldn’t hang out with Liam, shouldn’t give him a chance, and many time insinuated that Alicia was somehow betraying her husband’s memory. The woman was rude and insensitive and she drove me up the wall from the moment she first stepped onto the page. Even after learning her true reasons behind it, I felt as if it didn’t justify her crappy behavior towards her supposed best friend.

I’m a big fan of romances that develop a friendship and slowly progress to love – when they are done right. While I liked the time Alicia and Liam took to become friends and then more, I also felt as if they danced around each other a lot. They had chapters of push and pull, angst and indecision that started to feel less like the slow-burn and more like wishy-washy character flaws. I wanted to believe in their romance, but it never really seemed to click for me.

Now, I’m going to reveal a huge spoiler, which is something I don’t normally do, but it was also one of the bigger plot points that made me scratch my head and wonder WHY exactly it needed to be a part of the story.  [spoiler] We find out toward the end of the book that Penny’s high school aged daughter is actually the child of Alicia’s late husband. For me, it really ruined the image of Alicia’s husband, and felt like it was a way to justify Alicia’s moving on. I didn’t think it added anything good to the story, and instead left me feeling just plain bad for everyone involved. I thought the book would have been just as strong without it, and was hugely disappointed with this information. [/spoiler]

All in all I was disappointed that this book didn’t live up to the potential that I initially saw in it. With a lackluster romance, and secondary characters who drove me bonkers, there wasn’t much to pull me in and keep me happy.
I give Where the Heart Lies a D+

Kindle eBook

Review – Devilishly Sexy by Kathy Love

Publisher: Kensington
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: Review copy from publisher

 

Every office has one…
Demon slayer Michael Archer longs for the old days when his work required a lot less strategizing and a lot more ass-kicking. Unfortunately, his current boss at Hot! magazine, a.k.a. Central Demon Intelligence, is more concerned with bad press than beheading…

Hot! fashionista Liza McLane has been possessed by an exasperatingly chatty demon that can only be hushed by high doses of Benadryl. But when Michael spots her gulping a handful of pills, he assumes it’s a suicide attempt. Next thing Liza knows, she’s under Michael’s sizzling watch…

Now Michael’s in the bind of his life. He’s just saved a demon—who happens to be stuck inside a woman he’s wildly attracted to—which goes against all his principles. What’s a demon slayer to do?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

 

I was so excited about this book, mainly because the Young Brothers Series were some of my first and favorite PNR reads, and Stepp Sisters Trilogy were fun and sexy contemporary reads. But for some reason, the 2nd Devilishly book just didn’t work for me.

Michael is back among the world and looking to kick a lot of demon ass. Instead, things have changed in the years he has been frozen, and killing demons on the street is no longer acceptable. In an effort to help Michael learn the new ways, he gets put in the mailroom of Hot! Magazine, keeping tabs on the demons in the organization. After just a few days on the job, Michael finds Liza and everything changes. He isn’t sure what exactly her deal is with the demons, but he knows there is something special about her.

Liza refused to sign over her soul, so instead she is possessed by the most annoying demon imaginable. She doesn’t want “Boris” to be able to read Michael, so once they start to pursue a relationship, she begins drugging the demon with allergy medicine. Unfortunately, as she and Michael get closer, the demons become more and more skeptical of her. Will Liza and Michael be able to make a real go at it before Liza’s soul gets sent to hell?

The premise of this one had such promise, but it all seemed to fizzle out fairly quickly for me. I did like a few things, and the beginning with having Michael adjust to life after being frozen for a few decades was really well done. However, it wasn’t a theme that was carried very far into the book. I liked that both Michael and Liza were trying to keep hidden the fact that they knew about the paranormal world from one another. It was fun to see them dancing around the subject, and was one of the stronger aspects of their relationship. And while I’ve come to expect some funny and hilarious situations from Love, other than Liza’s possession and a few one-liners, there wasn’t the same level of fun that I found so charming about the Young Brothers series.

The book started off a bit slow, and didn’t really seem to pick up much steam the further I got into it.  While the world-building was well done and a different take on demons than we normally see in mainstream fiction, it was also one that didn’t seem to hold my attention as well as others. I kept waiting for that spark, and I just never saw it come through on the pages. Then, once the truth came out between Michael and Liza, it seemed as if the book ended somewhat suddenly with a perfect HEA.

All in all, I wasn’t as satisfied with this book as I had hoped I would be. The fun and sexy feeling that I expected from a Love novel just weren’t there. The romance didn’t live up to my expectations, and instead felt slow to start, and rushed to finish. While the book had a really interesting premise, the execution just wasn’t what I was expecting.
I give Devilishly Sexy a D+

Amazon | Kindle eBook

Review – Messenger’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden

Messengers Angel Cover
Publisher: Signet
Publish Date:Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Since the beginning of time, the archangels have longed to know true love.

When four female angels were created for the four archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Azrael, a chaos spurred by jealousy erupted, and the archesses were secreted away to Earth. The four favored archangels followed, prompting a search that has lasted millennia…

For hundreds of years, Gabriel has passed himself off as a common Scottish villager. Few know he is the Messenger, a powerful archangel who has secretly scoured the world for the only woman who can complete him. Now, he’s shocked to discover the object of his desire in his own backyard.

Researching her Ph.D. in the Outer Hebrides, Juliette Anderson has always been the rational type—until she looks across a quaint pub into the silver eyes of a stranger. He’s handsome. He’s intense. And he claims her with a searing kiss on the spot.

Every instinct tells her to run. But when a dark force rises, and the truth of her identity is revealed, she must put her faith in the mysterious man who enflames her.
This blurb came from Goodreads.

Back in November I did a joint review with MinnChica on the first book of this series Avenger’s Angel. As I stated in that review I thought the series had potential, so when we were offered a chance to review Messenger’s Angel I went ahead and accepted. Unfortunately this one really didn’t keep my interest.

The three remaining single archangels, now aware that their archesses do exist have hopes that they will encounter them but have not restarted searching. In fact they seemed to just continue their normal existence as they have for thousands of years. They also did not seem to be making any effort towards tracking down the hiding spot of the Adarians even after their experiences with them in Avenger’s Angel. If anything the impression I received of Gabriel was one who was tired of things staying in the same pattern but at the same time not doing anything to change that pattern. On the other hand the Adarians were actively looking for the archesses as well as trying to come up with new ways to rid the world of the archangels. Their leader was certainly evil incarnate and while he had led his men for thousands of years and never actively betrayed any, he had made the decision that it was time to sacrifice the weaker of their number in order to gain a greater advantage over the archangels and therefore the ability to take the archesses for their powers.

Juliette had only recently discovered the fact that she had the ability to do certain things and still really didn’t believe or understand it. While I am sure she was extremely intelligent in her field, outside of that she struck me as not having any common sense and in fact prone to having To Stupid To Live (TSTL) moments which conveniently bring her into the grasp of the Adarians on more then one occasion. She signs a contract with Sam regarding some particular historical research, which brings her to Gabriel’s location. From there she encounters Gabriel, the Adarians, Sam and Lilith. She sways between disbelief, anger and eager acceptance/lust/love. I was not able to buy into her complete switch from anger and hurt at Gabriel’s lies of omission to love/lust during a date that he forced on her. She also had some other strange mental epiphanies that just happened.

I was not very impressed with Gabriel. His method of wooing Juliette consisted of getting personal information that his brother Azrael pulled from her mind and using that to create “perfect dates” etc. Yes he did risk his life for her and tried several times to get her to go to safety, which she didn’t do, but he seemed to be under the impression that he did not need to know who she was as a person or allow her to know him. If he was concerned about what the Adarians were doing and how it would impact not just his archess but those of his brothers’ then he would have made information sharing a priority like they did in the first book.

I found that the things I liked about the first book were sadly lacking in this second installment. Lilith, who played an important role in the first book, appeared to be a shadow of herself without any influence or will of her own. Sam continued manipulating things behind the scenes using his contracts and a few other things but I never had any doubt whose side he was working on. Granted I don’t know his ultimate goal yet but I never had a sense of ambiguity regarding his motives. The interaction between the four brothers outside of fighting the Adarians was extremely limited. The lead-up to the identification of the next archess was extremely obvious from the very first mention of her name. I also noticed some continuity issues for example regarding stolen luggage that then somehow re-appears intact. As a result of the cardboard characters and continuity issues, the potential that I saw in the first book failed to materialize here resulting in a rather disappointing read. While I have hopes that this fell victim to what is referred to at the sophomore slump in a series I have to admit I have my doubts.

I give Messenger’s Angel a D

Links to purchase

Messenger’s Angel: A Novel of the Lost Angels

Review – Hot for Fireman by Jennifer Bernard

Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: Edelweiss

 

Ryan Blake got suspended from the San Gabriel firefighters a year and a half ago for a daredevil act that nearly killed someone. Now he’s back in San Gabriel, fighting to return to the force. He takes a job at a local dive, the Hair of the Dog, while he studies for the test that will get him his job back.

But the real test comes in the form of Katie Dane, bar manager. Katie got stuck running the family bar when her father had a heart attack. The place is losing money like crazy and the insurance is about to lapse. Her desperate solution? Burn the place down, collect a million dollars. The only problem–little does she know, her new bartender is actually a firefighter.

Can a professional fireman and a wannabe firebug ever manage to get along? More importantly, can they stay away from each other and/or keep from ruining each other’s careers? Not likely. This is San Gabriel, after all.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

 

I really liked Ryan after reading the first book in the series, so although the blurb had me kinda worried, I decided to take a chance.

Ryan is coming off a year long suspension, and desperately wants his job back as a San Gabriel Firefighter. But in order to get back on the force, he will have to take a test. So in the meantime he takes a job as a bartender at a hole-in-the-wall dive bar only a few blocks from the station. Ryan actual enjoys working at the bar, especially since he can tease his manager Katie all day long.

Katie is helping her folks out by running the family bar. She doesn’t know what she is doing, doesn’t know how to pay the bills, and is at a loss for what to do. When she realizes a fire would pay out their insurance money, she decides that might be the best course of action. But Ryan is there at her every attempt. But despite her fire-starting tendencies, Ryan is attracted to her, and the fire between them heats up to dangerous levels.

I love fireman, but for some reason this book did not work for me. I had a lot of issues with it that only seemed to escalate as the book went on. The biggest problem in this book for me was the whole drama surrounding the bar, and Katie’s desire to torch it. Call me crazy, but I would think MOST people would know that Insurance companies take arson very seriously, and an insurance payout in those cases don’t come easy. In my opinion, Katie thinking she could burn the place down and not only NOT get in trouble, but also get a full insurance payout is just ludicrous. Then the lengths that she goes to, just seemed to ridiculous and over the top to the point that it pulled me out of the little bit of enjoyment the story was holding.

I did like Ryan’s character. I thought we got a great look at his history, what makes him tick and has made him the man he is today. I enjoyed getting to hear more about his father and see him with Brody’s young daughter. Ryan was the one and only reason that I continued to read this book through the finish. Unlike Ryan, I didn’t feel any kind of connection to Katie, while she was sweet in doing a favor for her family, I also felt as if she let them walk all over her, and whined about her situation instead of actually doing something to fix it. I wanted more from her character, and felt as if she was a somewhat hollow character.

In addition to that, I didn’t understand their romance either. It was obviously stated they were attracted to one another, but I never really felt their relationship come through. I never really understood WHY they were attracted to one another, and had a difficult time really becoming invested in their relationship. That being said, there were a few scenes that I did enjoy reading: namely the fireman stripping scene. That was great!

All in all I wasn’t impressed with the second installment of the Bachelor Fireman of San Gabriel series. I thought the whole plot surrounding burning down the bar was poorly done and too over-the-top for me to actually enjoy. Had it not been for my love of Ryan, I would have quit reading in the middle of the book.
I give Hot for Fireman a D

Kindle eBook | Amazon