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review 2018-08-14 01:59
All I need to make this truly perfect is the next episode...
Junk Shop Blues - Cole McCade

There was a lot about this story that set it apart from the first story but what didn't change was how much I enjoyed the interactions between Malcolm Khalaji and Seong-Jae Yoon.  Both their personal and professional interactions. While there's a definitely relationship developing between these two men it's slow...I mean seriously slow. Two books in and there's only been one kiss between them and that happened in the first book and according to both men...they felt nothing...that and a quarter will almost get them a phone call...just sayin'.  I have to admit I'd usually be a bit impatient with this but somehow with these two men it's working and I'm not having a problem with how things are progressing on a personal level.

 

Neither of these men are simple or uncomplicated...not in their personality or in their personal history and as we follow the story and Malcolm and Seong-Jae work together to solve their latest case we see things from both perspectives and are shown the frustration each man feels as they are subjected to actions that they don't always understand and that they often don't get an explanation for.

 

I'm just going to mention that while the relationship between these two men is a slow...seriously...ultra-slow burn that doesn't mean that there's not sexy times in this story...just that it's not necessarily between the MCs. So be warned if this is a deal breaker for you, it's here and each person needs to make their own decision  as to how they feel about it.  I know for some people sex other than between the MCs isn't something that they want in their stories so without going into details be warned it happens and it's in this story and that's all the detail that I'm giving about this.

 

So far this series dark and there are so many questions surrounding both Malcolm but Seong-Jae's past things that seem to be a part of a bigger overlying story line that is being revealed slowly and seems to be tied to Seong-Jae's past for sure and time will tell if there's a connection to Malcolm or not.

 

As much as I've been enjoying Malcolm and Seong-Jae there's so much more to this series and in this installment we were given more about Sade who offers cyber support to the team among other skills. I was curious about them in the first book when we saw enough of Sade to have our interest piqued along with Malcolm and Seong-Jae's Captain Anjulie Zarate y Salazar, whom we got a bit of an interesting peek at on a personal level as well this time around.

 

Cole McCade has a writing style that for me is unique to that of so many other authors that I read and the ease with which this author draws me into the story and weaves events together has kept me reading late into the night with both of these stories and I have to admit even though it's only been a couple of days since I finished the second story I am so looking forward to the next episode.  I've always loved crime dramas both as television shows and in my reading selections so I guess it's really kind of inevitable that I would be drawn to as series like this one. 

 

Anyone who's a fan of crime dramas, police procedurals or mysteries and doesn't mind a touch of sexual tension between their MCs should check this one out. I can't imagine that you'll be disappointed.

 

According to the Q & A at the end of this book the author has rough plans for 5, 13 episode seasons for this series...think of it as a television series in book format and just sign me up because if 'The Cardigans' and 'Junk Shop Blues' are any indication of what's to come this one's an Emmy winner and I am so there for each and every episode.

 

*************************

A copy of 'Junk Shop Blues' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-08-13 20:02
Sweet Heat at Bayside - Addison Cole

Sweet Heat at Bayside is the perfect book about love, friendship, and family.     Never is there a doubt that these Bayside friends and family will protect, love, and help you with whatever you need.    Most of the time you do not even need to ask, they just do it and instinctively know what is needed at any given time, even if it is to leave a person alone to figure things out themselves.       The heat part of the story is my favorite.  Addison Cole writes a clean and steamy story.    She leaves some of the story to the readers imagination but leads them right to the edge before letting them go.    

 

While this is part of a series it can be read easily as a stand-alone story.   Each book is its own complete story with the characters from other books just checking in to let the reader know what is going on with them.   The past characters are just as fun to read about as the characters that the book is actually focused it.   You learn about babies, weddings, and anything else that is happening.    

 

Sweet Heat at Bayside tells the story of Drake and Serena.    They have been friends since childhood, best friends for many years, and have worked together for 4 years.    Circling each other, feeling the heat between them, but never acting on it is how their relationship has been.    The timing just never seemed right to move their relationship to the next level.    Yet, with Serena moving to Boston for a new job it is time for Drake to let his feelings out and oh was it wonderful.   There was no easing into it, no doubt of feelings, and no going slow.    Drake just jumped right in, took what he wanted and Serena loved every minute of it.    

 

As I am a big Addison Cole fan, I thought I knew what to expect.    She managed to surprise me with how much control Drake kept when it came to pushing Serena in their relationship.    He could have asked her to stay, asked her to move back, and Serena probably would have but he respected her so much that he never did.   He let her spread her wings, find her way, and supported her with each step.  

 

Pick up this book and the rest of Addison’s books.   They are sweet with heat.   They have amazing friendships and wonderful relationships.

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review 2018-08-11 20:52
On fire heroine
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole

She was Ellen Burns, and she was going to help destroy the Confederacy.

 

I'm wait late to the party on this one but, oh yes, do I agree with the majority of you all, this is my highest rated book of the year. Our heroine Elle definitely is the stand-out character, the hero Malcolm was very overshadowed in the beginning but began to shine brighter in the middle and end. Working on behalf of the Union in a ring of spies called the Loyal League, Elle is placed in a southern senator's household as a mute slave to gain and pass on as much information as she can. Malcolm spies for the Pinkerton Agency and is currently posing as a Union soldier. Malcolm is immediately drawn to Elle, a bit insta-lust, but what saves their romance from my personal dislike of insta, is Elle's thoughts and feelings. When they first meet, Elle is a slave and Malcolm a Union soldier but even after their undercover roles are revealed, Elle is a black woman and Malcolm a white man in 1862 America.

 

[...]one wrong word from him and she would lose her life, whereas his sex and skin color inoculated him from harm at her hand.

 

I've complained many times about forced angst or conflict in stories contrived to keep heroes and heroines apart, yeah, nothing forced here. The author deeply provides us with Elle's thoughts and emotions about the danger of having feelings for Malcolm. This is shown not only personally, the immediate bodily danger to Elle and the personal stake she has in the Civil War but also outwardly, the encompassing work they are doing for the Union and the importance of the information they have to pass on. In beginning notes I took, I mentioned that the heroine was crotchety, which I appreciated because the heroes always get to be the surly ones fighting the romance and struggled with because of personal thoughts of just accept this sexy awesome dude already. As the story went on though, the author does such an amazing job putting you in the historical context, place, and time, and it becomes felt how the stakes are very real for Elle. This isn't a light falling in love but a hard hand gripping leap of faith.

 

“Help me to understand,” he said. He was still asking of her when he should be giving, but he didn’t know how else to proceed.

“We don’t want revenge, Malcolm.” She looked at him like he was the densest bastard to ever walk the earth. “We want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just like any damned fool in these United States is entitled to so long as he isn’t Black or Red. So you can keep your outrage. All I can do is try to make a difference.”

 

This didn't have a lot of overall reaching Civil War tidbits dropped in, it is more of an immediate spotlight on how networks of spies could gain knowledge and help their side and one take on how a women in Elle's position could have fallen in love. I don't often mention how a character's emotions and thoughts help set the time period for me but Elle was a huge component for placing me in the story. The clothing, atmosphere, incidentals, and society were all there, too. Tied into the spying for information battle and danger, was some awesome ironclad ships and blockade talk. This may seem like a weird thing to get excited about but this is why I read historicals, to get little nuggets of information to gain knowledge and understanding with a feel of the time.

 

This was who she was when she was allowed to be free from fear.

 

Malcolm didn't quite leap off the pages for me, due to spying being a waiting game for info at times there was some slowness, and I would have liked some outer happenings (more big Civil War happenings going on, more of the Loyal League people, structure, and happenings). I know this is first in series, so maybe some information was held back about the Loyal League but in a contrarily way (I complain a lot about first in a series syndrome and how authors focus too much on setting up characters for future books) I could have stood for more character presence from ones that will star or appear in future installments in the series. Secondary characters gave without stealing the show, this "little" line from Mary: “I was just worried, is all,” she said, adjusting the ragged lace trim on Elle’s sleeve. “You remind me of my daughter sometimes. She had eyes just like yours . . . Caffrey sold her down South to pay off a debt. Every time I look at you, I wonder if she gonna grow up to be as pretty as you. And I hope she won’t.”

"I hope she won't", devastating. There was also Timothy, who Elle feared his judgement about her relationship with Malcolm but he informs her that he is part Seminole and a host of other characters that show that "kind" people can participate and be blind to atrocities.

 

This book made the list of several best of 2017 lists and I completely see why. The historical richness is great, there are some awesome emotional and thought provoking on fire comments/commentary, and the consequences, angst, and attraction between Elle and Malcolm are felt, but read this book for Elle. Her anger and underlining pain give way to such a well of strength; she's the heroine you want to read about, hope you're a little bit like, and inspire to be.

 

(The author notes that some of her characters were based on real life people:  Elle was based on Mary Bowser, Malcolm by Timothy Webster, and Robert Grand by Robert Smalls. There was also a reference guide of books the author used for research in the back. Historicals with history! Give me more historicals like this)

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review 2018-08-11 12:41
Noel & Cole: The Sophisticates
Noel and Cole: The Sophisticates - Stephen Citron

DNF @ 24%

 

Enough.

 

This is not a great biography of either of its subjects. It's not even a good or tolerable biography... I weep for the trees that had to die for this waste of paper.

 

I should have stopped after the introduction which included the following clanger:

"Kate Porter and Violet Coward steered their young sons early into creative and performing lives. Kate did so because she was a frustrated singer and Violet because she hoped to rise above the penny-pinching boarding-house-keeper life she had been born into. Because of this interdependence, each youth was to revere his mother, have night terrors about losing her while writing off his milquetoast father who left breadwinning and discipline to the distaff side. Coming from such a classically twisted psychological situation it is not surprising that both Noel and Cole were homosexual. With their raising of women, especially strong, determined and opinionated women, to such an exalted pedestal, perhaps bisexual would be a more apt description of their libidinous behaviour."

The author clearly has issues. He also, clearly, is full of crap.

 

And yet, I hoped he may have something insightful to say about the work of either of his subjects. Unfortunately, of the part of the book I managed to read, I believe I have learned more about the author's personality (and his many, many issues) from his gossipy, presumptive, speculative, condescending statements than I learned anything of impact about about Coward or Porter.

 

I finally drew the line when reading this about Coward's The Vortex:

"The idea for the play, whose controversial theme was one of the main reasons for the queues at the box office, came to Noel when he was invited to a party by his friend Stewart Foster. Across the room he glimpsed Stewart's beautiful and seductive mother, Grace, sharing a banquette with a young admirer. As soon as the party was seated one of the young girls blurted out, "Look at that old hag over there with the young man in tow; she's old enough to be his mother."

The Freudian Oedipus complex, the Hamlet-Gertrude relationship and perhaps Stewart Forster's own attentions to his seductive mother at the soiree immediately propelled Coward's dramaturgical mind into the concept of weaving the plot of a play wherein both a son and her young lover would vie for the love of the mother."

It's a good thing for the author that you can't libel the dead. Did I mention that there are little to no references to sources in this book?

 

I should have DNF'd this at the introduction.

 

On the plus side, it's another one off Mt. TBR.

 

I'm going to put on some Cole and make another cup of coffee.

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text 2018-08-05 00:34
40%
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole

He’d always prided himself as a friend and ally to every man who sought equality, but was that true? Or had he imagined himself a savior instead?

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