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review 2018-09-19 14:43
Safe From Harm by Kate SeRine
Safe from Harm - Kate SeRine

One year after the murder of his best friend, yet another person Gabe Dawson loves is in danger. He barely manages to save Elle McCoy's life and almost dies himself. It looks like the father of his friend's murderer, an anti-government fanatic, is behind the attempted assassination and Gabe knows this is just the beginning...


Another great read in this series.

The cast of characters was once again wonderfully portrayed, especially the Dawson family dynamics and the tight bonds that bind the five men together.

And the romance worked much better in this one as well (no formulaic, pace-stalling sex scenes for Gabe and Elle). I loved the UST-filled bickering at the beginning and though, IMHO, the "conflict" went on a page or two too long, the two resolved their mutual issues rather quickly and satisfyingly.
Gabe and Elle worked very well together in my view. They were strong-willed individuals and they brought that grit into their relationship as well. And I was very happy that Elle was the one who truly brought the real Gabe out in the open. Theirs was a very cute and hot romance.

The suspense angle was different from the one in the previous book. First, there was the major difference in the topic (religious anti-government fanatics instead of human traffickers) and the identity of the villain(s) was known from the start, leaving the characters to grapple with just how to make something stick.
I'm rather miffed the final showdown seemed very déjà-vu-ish. I felt like I read those particular scenes with those particular characters (maybe even with rather similar names) somewhere else.

Still, overall it worked and now I really hope to be able to read the eldest Dawson brother, Tom's story someday (the quirky doctor sounds rather good as a heroine, especially after learning just what was going on in the final days of Tom's marriage). And let's not forget Mac, the patriarch, deserves a second chance at a happy ending as well.

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review 2018-09-17 06:44
Stop at Nothing by Kate SeRine
Stop at Nothing - Kate SeRine

Kyle Dawson has spent almost his entire life defying authority, thanks to his family legacy in law enforcement and his deep resentment of his father, an almost legend in the field. That's why he went into the FBI instead of becoming one of his father's deputies, like his three older brothers did. And the job also served him well in order to leave Indiana behind to avoid his family, but mostly to try to forget the woman who broke his heart three years ago.

Unfortunately, his defiance of authority comes back to bite him in the ass, when he's reassigned from New Orleans, without finishing a big drug-trafficking case, back to Indiana and very close to home. And then Abby, the heart-breaker, ends up in danger thanks to her uncovering some shady dealings involving her brother-in-law and...Human trafficking. It might be a coincidence, but Kyle seriously doubts it...And in the end, both he and Abby will learn it's impossible to run away from the past, and family ties are too strong to be severed, no matter what.


I really enjoyed this book, heck, I loved it to pieces most of the time.

Most of all, I loved the dynamics in the Dawson family; the four brothers and their taciturn, austere father were so similar in some aspects, but so utterly different in others. I loved how, despite their differences and disputes, they came together in the end when one of them needed help, and I loved how they ironed over those differences and disputes in a very manly way. I'm looking forward to what the next story brings in the Dawson family department (and I really hope Ms SeRine decides to write the older brother's and father's stories as well; they both deserve a second chance at happiness, methinks).

Then there was the suspense aspect of the story, which worked very, very well. It was gripping, intense, and it kept the reader guessing for the better part of the story about who's involved, what might happen next and just how it all will be resolved.
Unfortunately, the author dropped the ball a little with the main villain, since his identity was glaringly obvious from the start, despite the attempts at misdirection.
And I loved the gentlemanly assassin/independent contractor and his helping hand in how the story started to resolve. It was a nice little twist.

And we finally come to the main couple. I liked them both separately and together, and I felt their romance was nicely done and portrayed, although the main "conflict" made very little sense outside the heroine's mind. What I didn't like were the sex scenes. They came across as rather cold and formulaic, even repetitive towards the end. What bothered me the most was the lack of "connection" between the two protagonists while they were bumping uglies. There was no intimacy in the scenes, it was just sex.
There was chemistry and tension there when they were fully clothed or making out, the connection was there even when they were fighting. Yet, once the clothes came off...nothing.
And instead of helping in moving the plot (at least the romantic sub-plot) forward, helping in establishing the connection between the hero and heroine, the sheer amount of the scenes and rather "clinical" execution, only served in stalling the flow of the story. Ugh.

Barring the last part, this was a very good read. Gripping and intense, with wonderful family dynamics and brotherly relationships, a solid suspense arc, and a great cast of characters.

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review 2018-09-16 23:48
Fairest - Gail Carson LevineĀ for A Grimm Tale
Fairest - Gail Carson Levine

Meh. There were some nice changes from the standard Snow White, and I  quite liked that she wasn't beautiful at all, but downright ugly. But it will never be my favorite. Weirdly, whereas the musical aspect of Seraphina really engaged me, the constant singing just kind of annoyed me, and that is huge.

 

It's written for a middle grade audience, there's no sex, or drugs, or actual  murder, and the resolution is elegant. But it felt watered-down to me, way more so than the Disney version. It's first person, so there's no worry for the reader, but it goes beyond that: there is reference to revolution but I didn't believe it. The stakes felt really minor. Or maybe I'm bothered that the heroine only twice showed any initiative. She never made decisions she just did whatever she was told. At least Snow White comes up with the housekeeper idea, even if it is a stereotype.

 

Or it could just be that I've been tired and cranky all day despite the lovely rain.

 

Library copy 

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review 2018-09-16 02:31
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

  Clever chicks who kick ass and go back to save people and are kind to smaller children...I love Tana. There's plenty of creepy atmosphere, and vampire slaying, and gore for days, but there's no swearing or sex (if that's something you look for) and in its own way it's rather wholesome. Tana and Buffy would get along well together.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-09-15 08:13
The Scandalous Widow by Erica Monroe
The Scandalous Widow - Erica Monroe

***copy provided by publisher through NetGalley***

Three years ago, she got married to help her younger sister return home after a scandal. Now, her sister is still in the same convent she's been when Jemma had married, and Jemma's husband is killed in front of a notorious brothel.

She knows it wasn't a common mugging, but murder. She also knows who did it, she just needs help in proving it. And the only one she can turn to is the man she left behind after marrying his best friend.


This one had huge potential. Unfortunately, it didn't use it.

The characters were once again rather one-dimensional and flat, there was a jarring imbalance in "power" between the hero and heroine, and I felt absolutely not chemistry between them. Which made the supposed conflict even harder to swallow, since it all stemmed from a single kiss between two friends. For friends is what these two actually were. There was no tension, no chemistry, no passion...Just two people who were supposedly comfortable with each other, and that single drunken kiss three years ago.

Then there was the suspense. It would've definitely worked better if the mystery of the killer was kept longer and the two had to discover his identity along with the proof needed to put him away. The fact we all knew who the killer was from the start, diminished the intensity and interest of the plot itself, also slowing the pace (which was already slow to begin with) even more.

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