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review 2016-11-07 13:00
Bullet-Listed Thoughts: Grave Mercy
Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

by Robin LaFevers
Book 1 of His Fair Assassin
Audio book narrated by Erin Moon



**See Also:  Collective Updates for Grave Mercy

I liked this book more than I expected to like it, and while there is a lot of monotony to be had between certain events, I surprisingly found those quite intriguing and nice anyway.  Being that this book focuses a lot on history and politics of Brittany during the pre-Renaissance era, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it if only because I’m usually bored by books that are heavy with politics.

So, kudos to Ms. Robin LaFevers.  I really loved this book in spite of the political conspiracies and the drawn out history lessons--in fact, these were the things, aside from the characters, that I found most fascinating.

But anyway, as I had let this book sit on my mind for a long time (a very long time), and then subsequently went back and "skim-read" it (via audio book) to refresh my memory before diving into reading what I thought were the last two books in this series (there have since been two more books added to the series), I really don’t have much in the form of a review.  So I decided to just bullet-list my thoughts and then call it a day.

Actually, a lot of these notes and thoughts had been written back in 2014 when I first finished reading this book.  Following, I decided to wait until the last book of the then-trilogy was published before reading the rest.  Time ended up eluding me and I never got around to finishing the last two books until this time in 2016.

Anyway, moving along now...

The Story:
Escaping the brutality of a forced marriage, Ismae finds sanctuary with the convent of St. Mortain who serves the God of Death.  She learns that she is blessed by the God of Death and that all the sisters of this convent serve Mortain as his handmaidens, meant to mete out his wishes as trained agents in the art of Death.


Ismae receives her most important assignment in the high court of Brittany where she comes across deeper intrigues of conspiracies and deadly games of treason.  Her initial assignment is to uncover a possible treasonous plot taking place at court.   Her overall mission is to serve and protect the Duchess.

Oh yea, and she meets a man named Gavriel Duval who, knowing what she has been trained for, is Ismae’s means of remaining at the court to complete her assigned mission.  There’s also romance, but it’s quite subtle and not at all in the way of the actual conflict taking place in the story.

Meanwhile, Ismae slowly learns that maybe there is more to being a handmaiden of St. Mortain than simply killing in his name, and that her teachers at the convent may not always know what the God of Death truly has plans for.

What I liked:

  • Once again, I give kudos to the fact that the book’s political-historical intrigues managed to hook me rather than put me to sleep.   It’s not the fault of fictional politics, it’s really just me.  While I like a bit of history here and there, I’ve never fully been able to care for politics, so books with court conspiracies and political intrigue tend to become boring to me. (I’ve spent my childhood watching old Chinese historical television series that involve court politics; after a while, every treasonous plot just starts to sound the same.)


  • This book was a page turner--I hardly noticed this book was 500+ pages and actually yearned for more when it came to an end.  The "re-read" of the audio book had me hooked as well--I found myself unwilling to stop the player long enough to read other books, or even to go to sleep.


  • The subtle romance between Ismae and Duval was sweet and nicely developed.  I like that they started off as friendly rivals in the game of their court-related missions, and I like that they were a witty set of Bickering Romance love birds slowly building their chemistry from friendship to lovers as they continuously got on each other’s nerves.  And I like that once they got over their own stubborn prides and agreed to work together, they made a pretty powerful team.


  • Ismae is strong, intelligent, and knows her priorities.  When she realizes that she is in way over her head, she takes her self-proclaimed impatient ass back a step so that she can listen and learn and figure out what she needs to understand before she acts.  To be honest, even though it is described that Ismae is often too eager to mete out death and punishment and too impatient to wait for something to happen, I actually found her to be quite sensible in her actions.  And on top of that, romance does not tie her down and she knows what needs to be done first and foremost to best serve the Duchess and her God of Death.


  • The writing is beautiful.  Descriptions are vivid.  The historical atmosphere is palpable.


What I didn’t like:

  • There isn’t as much action as I would have liked.  Because the book deals more in politics and history and world-building, the amount of fighting and action and even the number of people Ismae has killed in this book seem quite sparse for a book about NUN ASSASSINS.


  • This wasn’t the gritty, gory, badass NUN ASSASSIN book I had been expecting.  It’s much better than the other nun assassin book I had read previously, but it’s a lot calmer than I had expected.  In fact, if the whole NUN ASSASSIN thing hadn’t been my first “OMG!  I want this book so badly!” tagline, I might have just read it as a historical with political intrigue and there'd be no capitalization of NUN ASSASSINS to be had.


  • As much as I liked the sweet and quiet, friendly bickering chemistry between Ismae and Duval, in an overall romance rating, the love story was actually kind of lukewarm.  In fact, the two seem to mesh well better as friendly partners in crime with a sizzling undertone of attraction and unacknowledged chemistry.

Final Thoughts:
I had decided that was probably time for me to fit in Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart somewhere (this will happen soon)--it has been a very long time since I finished Grave Mercy (see above introductory confession).  I need to be able to, like, read twenty books simultaneously and take about two months worth of vacation to finish my reading list.  Because while I found Grave Mercy to be immensely enjoyable, despite being a genre I don’t normally touch at all, I’ve noted that many reviewers have stated that the next two books are supposedly even more awesome.  And so I really should have made time to finish reading the next two books to join and bask in the glory of having read the His Fair Assassin series.


This is a book I would definitely reread over again, to be totally honest.  And it got me curious enough about the history of Brittany as well as the Duchess Anne to want to do some genuine research.  Of course, so far, I’ve only done a Wiki search...



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/11/bullet-listed-thoughts-grave-mercy.html
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review 2015-01-16 06:19
Review and other Thoughts: Naked Heat
Naked Heat - Richard Castle

While I was in the middle of reading Naked Heat, I suddenly had the urge to finally pick up Castle and see what it was all about. After marathoning the first three seasons, I’m delighted to report that I thoroughly enjoyed the television series that this Nikki Heat book series is based off of. And I can see all the parallels as well as why many people love the television series more so than they like the Nikki Heat book series.

There is a line in one of the episodes of Castle where Kate Beckett quips that maybe there’s a little bit more of Nikki Heat in her than one might have thought. Well, that’s all fine and good, is what I was thinking; because unfortunately, despite being based off of Kate Beckett, I feel like there isn’t enough of Kate Beckett in Nikki Heat.

This, unfortunately, is one of the downfalls of the Nikki Heat series, if we must split hairs. In comparison to the television series, the characters just don’t hold up very well.

Naked Heat was written a whole lot better than the previous book, Heat Wave. While the concept and the murder mystery were acceptable in the first book, I found the writing hard to appreciate. In contrast, the writing in Naked Heat was a lot more progressive, smoother, better edited… The characters were a bit better developed.

And had I not gone ahead and watched Castle, I might have thought that Naked Heat managed to build its characters in a better manner.

But alas, having seen the television series, there is one definite trait that the television series has over the book series. The characters of the Nikki Heat books, despite being based off of the Castle television series, just do not compare.

There isn’t enough of Kate Beckett in Nikki Heat to bring the detective to life. There are layers and layers to Beckett’s life, history, and personality. She’s a tough cop with a cool attitude, but she also has her moments of vulnerability and girlish glee that just doesn’t seem to translate through to Nikki Heat. She’s realistic and down-to-earth, and not at all hard to relate with. Nikki Heat, in contrast, is the tough cop with a cool attitude and some sarcastic quips… but ultimately, she just doesn’t show much human emotion and comes off more distant and kind of a bitch than anything else.

And the character of Jameson Rook is simply too simple to even compare with Richard Castle. Despite having the same personality traits--childish, easily excitable, has no sense of boundaries, annoyingly arrogant--Rook is more of a surface scraping of Richard Castle’s true persona. There are also many more layers to Richard Castle, and one of the unfortunate things about Jameson Rook’s character when set up against Richard Castle, is that Rook has no back history that helps you understand his personality. The only thing we know about Jameson Rook is that he has a diva mother… but otherwise, that’s about it. Castle’s individual and family history (with his mother and his daughter and his previous marriages) does miles of good in turning Richard Castle into more than just the immature, childish, too excitable for his own good, arrogant Jameson Rook persona. He’s charming as a man, loving as a father, and amazing as a loving son. Having these traits to color his background makes Richard Castle a much more complex and likable person; in contrast, Jameson Rook merely comes off as an immature and annoying brat of a man-child.

I’ve also grown to love Lanie Parrish, Javier Esposito, and Kevin Ryan. Even Captain Roy Montgomery has a place in my heart. But on paper, in the Nikki Heat books, these people just don’t stand out.

So while written well with good story flow and progression (much better than the first book), the ultimate thing missing from the Nikki Heat series are the characters and their underlying lives that are supposed to make them shine. In the books, they just fall kind of flat.

Naked Heat is another high scale murder mystery with layers of secrets unraveling as the story progresses. A big name journalist is tortured and killed and Jameson Rook turns out to have his connections in this case because he’d been shadowing said journalist. On top of that, thanks to Rook’s other connections, he once again manages to help Heat and her detectives by providing his networking skills to get them interviews with celebrities and their ilk.

Along the way, Rook and Heat reconcile their relationship that had been strained at the beginning of this book due to Rook’s inconsiderate publishing of a “Nikki Heat”-centric article that, while casts her in a nice Tomb Raider-esque kickass light, also puts her name out for scrutiny by the rest of the NYPD who didn’t get mentioned.

So we have some human drama and the requisite murder mystery, and once again, I do appreciate the character interactions, the humor, and the investigative process that propels the storyline.

The mystery in this book is certainly more intriguing than the last, and the story progression and wit and humor were also at a higher notch. Still, the book itself comes off mediocre and uninspiring. And in a sense, it still reeks of “Now you’ve read another book, be sure to watch the television series” all over it.

And, in a way, if marketing for the television series is what this book sets out to do, then it is definitely doing its job.

As for the parallels, you can find them throughout the book. Except that this second book seems to correlate more with the second season and the third season of Castle. And I can’t help but wonder if these parallels are being thrown into the book on purpose to stimulate thought… because sometimes they come off as being a little awkwardly incorporated. But they are present such as the dead body snatching, or finding Castle/Rook at the scene of a murder, or even Rook/Castle introducing a famous professional thief of ye olden days to Heat/Beckett… though in a different context.

One thing I will say, however, is that I can’t fault the book too much on the underdeveloped characterizations. It’s probably not easy to compete with the crew of great actors and actresses who really manage to bring their own characters to life, and then trying to infuse a few tenths of that charm into a paper bio of a character.

Final Thoughts: A step up from book one, entertaining and enjoyable, better character developments, better story progression and writing. Enjoyable.

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review 2014-12-05 11:23
Thoughts on: The Chopin Manuscript
The Chopin Manuscript: A Serial Thriller - Alfred Molina,Jeffery Deaver,Lee Child,James Grady,David Hewson,Jim Fusilli,Joseph Finder,John Gilstrap,David Corbett,Randall Parrish

This is the first collaboration of The Watchlist by various authors.  The concept and character of Harold Middleton, the main protagonist of this book, was created by Jeffery Deaver.


Other authors involved:

Peter Spiegelman, Ralph Pezzullo, Lisa Scottoline, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Erica Spindler, P.J. Parrish, John Ramsey Miller, Jim Fusilli, David Corbett, James Grady, John Gilstrap


I'm reminded of a time in high school when several of my classmates spent a free day sitting around when someone slipped a sheet of paper onto my desk. It had the words, "Once upon a time, there was a teenage girl named Alice." Without hesitation, I had grinned and added the sentence, "She was sitting in school one day when the ground began to shake." And then I handed the paper over to one of my closest friends sitting next to me. As the paper circulated between a few other girls, "Alice" managed to slip down a rabbit hole, fight dragons in the underworld, and meet up with a hunky knight who was also a warlock.

We never finished the story. The progression began to get out of hand and then class ended and the notebook paper scribbled with the gibberish of "Alice's" adventure was left in the trash on our way out. I regret not taking and saving the writing--it would have made for some good material for future reference.

But this is what I thought about as I listened to The Chopin Manuscript. I worried that several authors with differing writing styles, ideals, and behaviors would create an incoherent product as we did. But the difference is that we were a bunch of teenagers fooling around.

The Chopin Manuscript was a challenge to create an epic serial thriller between fellow crime thriller authors.


I'm not familiar with any of the authors in this collaboration, but I know the names--heard of them before as popular crime thriller/action/mystery writers. I thought the project was an interesting one.


Harold Middleton is a former war crime investigator, but due to circumstances, has given up that life to study music.  He is in possession of The Chopin Manuscript of which he believes is a forgery.  But this musical piece proves to be involved in a deadly conspiracy of international proportions as many people involved begin to turn up dead.  The danger comes closer to home when Harold Middleton realizes that he's been drawn into the sinister workings of shadowy mystery man known only as Faust.

The concept seemed created as any typical action thriller, maybe made-for-movie entertainment. I didn't find anything overly unique about the story line or the characters, but the book was as enjoyable as any action movie I've seen in the past. It probably helps a little bit that I listened to the audio book version, narrated by Alfred Molina. I believe that this story was originally created as an audio book, which helped since I'm not sure I would have read this book otherwise--not because the book is terrible or anything, but probably because it's just not my cuppa.

I can't say that they didn't accomplish their mission. The story turned out quite well and I was fairly hooked from the beginning. The background music and Alfred Molina's stellar performance might have been incentive--I was pleasantly surprised at his ability to move from one foreign accent to another and even take on sounding American so naturally. It was pretty cool.

In the beginning, The Chopin Manuscript felt exciting with plots developing and characters surfacing with hidden agendas. But as the story progressed, you could start to see the presence of several minds competing against how they wanted the story to unfold, yet also trying to remain within the scope of the original concept. It was barely there, but the way certain scenes twisted were different from others and the way the story progressed felt sudden and haphazard. It took some time to figure out what significance each character played, and with some, their significance didn't seem to stand out despite having a heavy presence throughout the book--then they were killed off and it felt a little awkward and sudden.

A lot of times, I found myself asking why certain conflicts were introduced only to fizzle out.

But the story itself, as a whole, was quite entertaining.

Overall Impression: Typical action/crime thriller plot you would see in a lot of action movies involving government conspiracies, secret organizations, international conflicts... the like. Enjoyable.

Alfred Molina's performance was the best part of the whole ordeal, though and I'd be interested in looking up any other audio book he has narrated.

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review 2014-11-30 10:58
Brief Thoughts: Proxy
Proxy (Harperteen Impulse) - Mindee Arnett

Proxy is the prequel novella to the Avalon series (the first book of which I just checked out from the library).  I enjoyed Mindee Arnett's The Nightmare Affair and so was curious about this fairly different genre she's attempting.  I've never been a big fan of sci-fi nor the space opera/futuristic types of story lines (though admittedly I have enjoyed such television series as Star Trek and Firefly, or Cowboy Bebop).


The novella details one of the missions Jeth and his crew are sent on by his employer, a large criminal syndicate owned by a man named Hammer.  In order to make enough money to retrieve his family's ship and home, Avalon, Jeth has no choice but to do Hammer's bidding.


The crew is stealing a precious ruby from the Grakkus empire, and it seems that this job is just easy pie until someone on Jeth's crew betrays them.



I'm going to say that this is the first time I've read a space opera story.  Watching television series and movies and anime series seems fairly different as the action in futuristic space settings translate better to me in visual media.


Nonetheless, this novella was quite enjoyable after I got through the initial few chapters of set-up and semi-world building.  I can't say that it was the most exciting thing I've ever read, and the characters seem quite flat and not quite so stimulating.  Everything passed by in mediocrity, though for a novella I'll give it leeway.  With comparisons of this story line and the characters to that of Firefly, I may have begun to create some biases, as Firefly was an exciting, complex series with well-developed, complicated characters and an extremely entertaining story line.  Not to mention the actors brought everything to life.


Going into Avalon, I'm hoping that things can move upwards of the mediocre enjoyable-ness factor.  After all, there's potential in a story such as this, and I'll try not to make too many comparisons to Firefly as I read it.  With more room to work with, hopefully an entire book will do well to bring the characters to life and deliver an exciting story to boot.

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review 2014-11-16 00:23
"Series" Review: The Perfect Trilogy
The Perfect Couple - Brenda Novak
The Perfect Liar - Brenda Novak
The Perfect Murder - Brenda Novak

The "Perfect Trilogy" are Books 4, 5, and 6 of The Last Stand Series

by Brenda Novak



Despite the fact that each book contains a different plot, a different crime, a different set of characters, and a different premise, it doesn't escape me that the formula is almost identical throughout the six Last Stand books.  I enjoyed the first three books; and while I DID enjoy the last three books, there was just something a little off about each one that didn't quite work for me, though I'm not entirely sure what it was.


This isn't to say that I didn't like these books--if I didn't like them I wouldn't have enjoyed them despite the many things within the books that I didn't care for.  But in the end, I truly DID have fun reading the entire Last Stand series.


Reading a Brenda Novak book, I've realized, is like watching a suspenseful action/crime thriller:  Once you start, it's hard to stop.


There is constant activity, constant action, constant progression; you move from one point to another without any effort and then you just keep going.  Everything happens so quickly that you only know that you want to see what happens next.


And despite the fact that these books often had frustrating situations, little in the form of a unique story formula, and definitely NOT the most readily likable or relate-able characters, I still manage to hooked into the books without fail, every time.


These "Perfect Trilogy" books were definitely entertaining even though they were a bit less to my liking than the first three.  However, I did find that I liked some of the characters in these last three books more than some of the mains from the first three books.  It's not a perfect world after all.


The main thing that bothered me about the Perfect Trilogy had to be how much time we spend delving into the psyche of our "villain", following the thoughts and twisted logic and lack of conscience that goes through the killer/rapist/crazy's minds.  There's a certain appeal to it all, I'm sure, and the author does it very well--these characters freak me out a bit if only because I know that these types of people can exist in real life and seeing those thoughts in detail make it too realistic for me to handle.  In some ways, I like it; in other ways, I would just prefer following a good ol' fashion murder mystery from the perspective of our detectives or investigating teams... the good guys.


Yeah.  I know.  I live in a world where I prefer bunnies and sunshine and rainbows and Happily Ever After as part of my reading indulgences.  That's not too much to ask.


Nonetheless, it's not like I didn't like this new perspective either.  It's just different than what I prefer.  Brenda Novak has her ways with suspense and crime thrillers, which I like a lot.


At some points, the stories and events even seem grittier and more real than that of a lot of other romantic suspense novels I've read--the way in which people react in varied ways that can come off unfair, ugly, or even careless or stupid; it's credible enough.  In this aspect, I like how the characters are handled, main or side or background.



Quick Summaries:



The Perfect Couple


Zoe Duncan's thirteen year old daughter goes missing from her own backyard when she should have been at home recovering from a case of Mono.  While everyone else believes that she must have run away because she's less than enthused about her mother's fiance, Zoe is adamant that her daughter wouldn't have done such a thing--she's a good girl and has been trying to be supportive of her mother's impending marriage.  As a friend of Zoe's, Skye Kellerman requests the help of Private Investigator, Jonathan Stivers, to assist Zoe in locating Samantha Duncan.  As the pair delve deeper into an investigation that has extremely little evidence to go on, it becomes increasingly clear that something much more sinister is at hand, and Sam was abducted by someone close by.


I'm inclined to feel that either Zoe's blind to obvious strange happenings, or she's too trusting of the wrong people, and not trusting of the right people.  The couple next door is creepy as heck, which goes to show that so long as people are good-looking and can act normal enough, no one ever suspects them of anything.  Colin and Tiffany Bell come across as the perfect couple and perfect neighbors, but there were moments when Colin says or does things that, if I were Zoe, I would have been a bit more wary of, even if I didn't suspect them of kidnapping a child.


Anyway... this is one of the books in which I felt there was much more time than necessary focused on our psychotic, child-killing couple with no conscience.  While that's unique and some people may enjoy seeing the world through an antagonist's view, I wasn't too thrilled with it, myself and would have preferred to see more investigation going on.  This so called "Perfect Couple" just came off right creepy.  Had Colin not given himself away with some unrestrained outbursts and his uncontrollable need to hurt Zoe and Sam together, I don't know if anyone would have been able to save the day.


The romance between Zoe and Jonathan had little to stand on and I wasn't quite satisfied with the conclusion either.


Overall:  Only enjoyable in the fact that I had the urgent need to finish the book just to know what happens in the end.  As it stands, this is probably my least favorite of the Last Stand novels.




The Perfect Liar

Air force captain Luke Trussell awakens one morning to find the police at his door--he is being charged with rape of a fellow air force teammate, Karina Harter.  We very quickly learn that, while Luke did sleep with Karina, he in no way forced her to do anything she didn't want to do.  In fact, because of Karina's lust and obsession for Luke, she has devised this whole scheme to sue him for rape, and then drop the charges at the last moment in hopes that he'll be grateful enough to fall in love with her and be with her forever.


Talk about delusional and a little unsteady...


When Karina enlists the help of Ava Bixby from The Last Stand to help her investigate her rape case with the claim that she doesn't think the military will be fair to her because of her more promiscuous lifestyle, Ava soon learns that there is something more disturbing about Karina than she lets on.  Very early on, Ava realizes that Karina is an unstable woman, not only lying without a guilty conscience, but also set on making Luke Trussell belong to her alone, even if she has to kill for him.


Simply put, I liked Luke Trussell because he seemed so much different than the brooding alpha males you see in so many other books.  He's charming and gentlemanly, a good man with a good heart, and a boy that any parent would be proud to call their own.  And he's honest about his feelings and his motives.


In contrast, Ava came off as a real big bitch.  Maybe I liked Luke immediately and didn't like the way she treated him.  Or maybe it was because of the way she treated him that I liked Luke even more.  I'm not sure.  Granted, she probably earned the right to be a bit snippy--she's had a tough life--but I'm not sure that justifies her unmerited judgement of everyone she meets or barely knows.


When she first meets Luke, she claims that she's neutral and works to uncover the truth, but she had already condemned Luke and spent more time fishing for more reasons to further condemn him as a rapist.  Even after she learns the truth about Karina, she still holds Luke at a distance, leading him on only to pre-judge that he only cares about his pride when she rejects him--y'know, not that he'd ever be able to truly feel for someone or fall for a woman because she believes him to be the type of man who sleeps with women and then moves on like a womanizer.


Anyway, story-wise, this one was kind of weird and despite the suspenseful execution, I feel like the case dragged on for a lot longer than was necessary.  And again with the seeing things from the antagonist's perspective with her twisted logic and stuff like that.


Overall:  I liked Luke, though he made lots of bad decisions.  Entertaining book at best, but not much in terms of story.  The romance also was quite lacking.




The Perfect Murder

I'm not sure I like that we start the book in the killer's head, because that certainly gives away the premise, making the blurb given kind of useless:  "For More than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son.  Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband--a cop--committed both murders, then faked his own death."


But the first chapter introduces Malcolm Turner and his thoughts on how to enact the perfect murder.  It's a little disturbing.  And takes away a lot of the suspense and surprise elements.  Then we move on to Sebastian traveling across the country on a lead to track down Malcolm, bent on seeing the truth come out.  Due to a possible kidnapping case, Jane Burke contacts Sebastian for information that the man he's looking for may also be the same man who has abducted a pair of sisters.


Of course, as the formula goes, sparks fly amidst the joint investigation, but now Malcolm is tuned into the fact that Sebastian is on his tail.  Now Malcolm has decided that he needs to get rid of Sebastian and hit him where it hurts the most since he seems to have taken the existence of Sebastian a bit too personally as a slight against him.


More delusions...


I really did enjoy The Perfect Murder more than the previous two books in this trilogy.  There was more of a premise of investigation and I was delighted to find that I didn't think of Jane as annoying as I had when she was a side character in the first book, Trust Me.  In fact, I very much enjoyed following her through her renewed life as a single mother and newly appointed victims' rights advocate.  I also thought that she and Sebastian made a pretty nice couple, even if the romance was kind of quiet.  Sebastian's interactions with Jane's daughter, Kate, were very heart-warming.


As a romance, this book may not have been a win, but it was good nonetheless.  As a murder/crime thriller, the book might have fallen a bit short.  I'm not even sure I know what all really happened, but I'm inclined to be satisfied with what I liked.


I liked Jane and I liked Sebastian--which, considering this series, is a first that I don't have too many quibbles about the main couple, either together or individually.  Interesting, that.


Overall:  Very enjoyable.  Delightfully, surprisingly likable.




A few random last thoughts about the full Last Stand series overall.


  • While the premise of this series was more attractive to me, I still like Brenda Novak's Stillwater trilogy more--the characters are more to my liking, if only because there seems to be more of a cohesive "togetherness" between those characters.  The characters featured in The Last Stand series gave me conflicting feelings


  • Cain Granger (Watch Me) remains my favorite of the men featured throughout The Last Stand.  At a close second and third are Luke Trussell (The Perfect Liar) and Sebastian Costas (The Perfect Murder).  I thought I liked Jonathan Stivers (The Perfect Couple), too, since he's a P.I. and Iike P.I.s, but he didn't come across all that great and I prefer him as side character more.


  • Following that line of thought, Watch Me sits as my favorite of the six books; there was more of a murder mystery premise and a whodunit scenario than the rest of the books had.


  • I admire Brenda Novak's penchant for taking a character who wasn't all that likable from a previous book and making me change my mind about her.  Jane Burke first appears in Trust Me as the naive, entitled, and pampered wife of a dentist and well-liked man who turns out to be a serial killer.  Her behavior and personality was a big turn off that didn't sit well with me; when I saw that she would be the main female character in the last book, I was a bit conflicted.  Turns out that I actually enjoyed following her progress as she managed to get her life back together and move forward from the days of being married to a psychotic serial killer and become a victims advocate working with The Last Stand charity organization.  Kudos to that.


  • In terms of romance, The Last Stand seemed a bit lacking.  I either didn't like the romance or didn't like one of the two people involved in the romances.  Or, as in The Perfect Couple there really wasn't a semblance of romance at all.  Surprisingly, Jane's and Sebastian's relationship is probably my favorite of the couples.




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