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review 2017-07-17 06:57
No Turning Back by Kaylea Cross
No Turning Back - Kaylea Cross

After receiving surveillance photos of herself, Samarra Wallace grabs her tech, and disappears into the streets of Baghdad, no knowing who to trust. But when she receives a photo of her cousin, bound and surrounded by terrorists, Sam knows she needs to contact someone, unfortunately it's the man she turns to who doesn't know whether to trust her or not.

This is officially getting ridiculous. This series now exists only for the series sake. The main suspense arc could (and should) have ended in the previous book, but guess what, we still have two hot guys, and the big honcho, Luke, to cover, so let's stretch the terrorist plot as far as it can go.

There were holes in the plot you could drive a truck through (its predecessor was no better, mind you), the chemistry between the leads was non-existent, the heroine was rather incompetent for a CIA analyst, and the hero more or less an asshole. The final straw was how easily Sam forgave Ben for what he said in the hospital.

I don't mind suspension of disbelief, but this one was asking too much of me.

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review 2017-07-15 17:10
Out Of Her League by Kaylea Cross
Out Of Her League - Kaylea Cross

Christa Bailey is this close to getting into the Olympic softball team, if only she could concentrate on each game, instead of having to listen to her "number one fan" calling encouragements from the stands. It should be easy to ignore the guy, but the fact is he's giving her the creeps. Creeps that get even larger when he approaches her one night after practice, saying an innocuous that sounds strangely like a threat.

But Christa has good friends, and one of those just happens to be a cop. A cop that confirms her suspicions about her "fan"'s stalkerish behavior and appoints himself her temporary bodyguard...Now, beside the stalker and the national team, Christa has another problem...Keeping her attraction to her cop friend hidden.

This could've been an awesome little romantic-suspense-cum-thriller if it hadn't lost its way in the second half.

The first half of it was absolutely fantastic with the stalker and his escalating behavior culminating in the close call at Christa's house. Unfortunately, after that "first climax", it all went downhill awfully fast for something with as sluggish a pace as the second half.

After the intensity, the danger, the nail-biting terror that the first half was infused with, the second half lost all the suspense, replacing it with a lukewarm at best, and annoying-as-hell at worst, romance. A romance I didn't buy, not even when it was all over. I simply didn't feel the connection—to me Rayne and Christa worked so much better as friends, even friends somewhat attracted to each other. Once that line was crossed...Poof, the zing was gone.

And I must confess, the heroine had much to do with that. To call her a basket-case would be too lenient. I know emotional issues are a real thing, and I know people struggle with such problems on a daily basis, but in Christa's case, I had absolutely no idea why she was the emotional cripple that she ended up being. I swallowed the trauma of her most recent experience, but she was a nutjob before it...
She didn't have a difficult childhood; her mother was simply absent and ignored her, it's not like she was abused or anything. So how could that have evolved in the abandonment issue this chick had? And who breaks down so hard they have to see a shrink because their boyfriend of two years cheated on them? He didn't hit her, he didn't drink, he just cheated. Kick him in the balls and move on, not go see a shrink and have a meltdown. I didn't get her pity party, and she got more and more on my nerves as the story (and her romance with Rayne, God bless his patient soul, progressed).
Also, can you spell TSTL? She's attacked when she thinks her dog smells a racoon and goes, alone (!), to investigate, even after she knows her stalker is dangerous. And then, even knowing the guy is still out there, she still ventures to her best friend's sobbing side alone. This chick literally invited trouble, and her crazy stalker to find her. You'd think she'd learn her lesson, but she didn't.

The saving grace of this book were the hero and the suspense. Rayne was the ultimate book boyfriend. Tall, dark, handsome, brought to his knees by "the One". Protective, caring, oh-so patient. A real steady rock of a guy. I really wished he got saddled with a better heroine, at least a more stable one.
The suspense in the first half was top-notch, the intensity ratcheting up with each chapter, but unfortunately, in the second half the story slowed down a lot, concentrating on the issue-filled heroine and the lukewarm romance, that I thought the reckoning would never come. Pity, it was all resolved rather quickly, the final showdown unsatisfying-ly brief. I felt the suspense element deserved a more fitting solution, instead of the quickie afterthought it actually got.

It wasn't bad, but it could've definitely been much, much better.

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review 2017-07-04 06:16
Heaven Can't Wait by Pamela Clare
Heaven Can't Wait (I-Team, #1.5) - Pamela Clare

Will and Lissy are only two weeks shy of getting married when she proposes a wager. They won't have sex until after the wedding, and the one who begs first, loses.

A premise that would've been cute and fun if it weren't for the reason behind the bet. As Will said, Lissy didn't want to be romantic, she didn't fully trust him thanks to her ice-queen mother. The true reason behind the "bet" and the fact the idiot of the heroine almost ruined a great relationship (she would've accomplished the fact if it wasn't for the perfectly placed scare just before the end, which magically solved everything) ruined any enjoyment I could've mustered in reading this.

The other characters were great; the hero, the team from the Denver Independent, there were quite a few funny dialogues between Will and his friends, and between Tessa and the other girls thanks to an "incident" at Will and Lissy's house, while the heroine was an idiot, her mother was a bitch...And the rest of it was sex (pretty hot sex, don't get me wrong) and loads of sexual frustration.

I could've been much better.

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review 2017-07-01 16:55
Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake
Extreme Honor - Piper J. Drake

David Cruz has once more temporary custody of Atlas, the Belgian Malinois he'd helped train in the past. His handler is dead and Atlas isn't taking it well. While the dog pines away after his lost partner, David knows there's more to his friend's death than accidental friendly fire.

While Atlas's bleak mood seems to be easily fixed, thanks to the "dog whisperer" in the form of the sexy blonde sent by the military to rehabilitate Atlas, David's gut feeling about a conspiracy brewing might take a lot longer...

I don't really know how I feel about this book. Undecided come to mind. Because it had its strengths; the hero and his two friends running the dog kennel, everything about Atlas, his training and abilities, the suspense, and the rather awesome final action scene. But it also had its weaknesses; the heroine most of the time (rather whiny, easily scared, and rather incompetent when it came to self-defense or any military talk for someone who grew up with an enlisted stepfather), the heroine's inner monologues (about anything from the dog, her self-worth and self-esteem, the hero and her feelings toward him, and her running hot and cold about his former profession mostly colored by her experience growing up), the spotty pacing, and the rushed romance.

This is the first book by this author, but it won't be the last, despite my reservations about this particular story. I liked the writing, narrative style and voice. It was engaging and lively, it wasn't bogged down by too many fillers, although the pacing tended to slow down in some more "contemplative" scenes.
And yes, I'm curious to read the rest of this trilogy (that looks to become a series in 2018). I liked both co-owners of the kennel David, the hero, was working at and I'm looking forward to their stories.
Also, I want to read more about dogs and their special training, which looks to be a trend in novels lately. Although I don't own a dog, and have no idea of all the work and effort it goes into training dogs for special operations, my mind didn't go blank, I didn't zone off, and I didn't get bored with all the "shop talk". Which it all comes down to the writing and the author's ability to keep things interesting without getting boring. Kudos for that.

This is categorized as a romantic suspense, but since, as I mentioned, the romance left me rather cold (it was a combination of my dislike of the heroine and the overall feeling of haste with which it all happened), I more than enjoyed the suspense part of the story.
It was nicely structured, and well-paced. Progressing slowly and organically, increasing in intensity and tempo with each new puzzle peace uncovered by the protagonists. I thought I knew who the villain was from the beginning, and I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't entirely right either. The reveal came off as a surprise, but very believable with an explanation that actually made sense. And since the big suspense arc wasn't fully resolved, it will hopefully extend into the next two books. And I can't wait to read how everything is resolved.

A solid start to the series, albeit with much room for improvement (especially in the characterization and romance department).

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review 2017-06-22 16:15
Dangerous Waters & Dark Waters by Toni Anderson
Dangerous Waters - Toni Anderson
Dark Waters - Toni Anderson


Two divers find a shipwreck off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A wreck containing a dead diver with a knife buried into his chest. Enter Sergeant Holly Rudd who has lots to prove; that she didn’t get the job because of her daddy, but because of her merits, that she’s put her affair with her married (although she didn’t know it at the time) superior behind her, that she can close her first murder case, and that she can keep it professional when it comes to her attraction to one of the divers who found the body…

Let me tell you, she proved none of it. For a supposed “professional” she was rather incompetent when it came to everything from investigating, to interrogating, to listening to her guts, and to keeping her hands off the supposed suspect. And for someone who claimed to have gotten the job through merit, she was rather quick to doubt herself.

So, this was supposed to be a romantic suspense novel. So let’s start with the romance. It wasn’t there. One snap of the fingers and the two of them were immediately attracted to each other, another snap of the fingers and they were bumping uglies (no emotion behind it, mind you), and yet another snap of the fingers and they were in love.
Why? How? Why?
There was all tell and absolutely no show.
I didn’t understand what they saw in each other—she was an incompetent idiot with a teenage crush, he was an off-putting asshole with a chip on his shoulder and no compunction about lying to the woman he supposedly loved.

As for the suspense. There was none. Or if there was, it was buried so deep, I couldn’t find it. No chills, no intensity. Nothing.
There were two “mystery” sub-plots, really, but both connected by the same villain. The first, about the murder in 1982 and the fact the heroine bore an uncanny resemblance to the murder victim was so predictable it was transparent. I was just waiting for everybody to finally get their heads out of their asses and see the truth.
So the only “surprise” was the reveal of the villain and the motive. The latter was rather far-fetched, or I simply didn’t care by that point, and the villain...Yeah, I didn’t care by that point.

It started off great with the chill-filled prologue, but after a few chapters, the whole thing slowed down. The plot was vapid, the writing amateurish, the romance and suspense non-existent. In the second half of it, I skimmed scenes, hoping for a glimmer of something to keep it interesting, to kick the pace into a higher gear, and by the end of it, I was ecstatic it was finally over.




DNF @ 13%

A nicely intense prologue once more followed by plodding, slow, and boring "story".

I couldn't care less about the heroine, the hero was stuck in my mind as the asshole brother of the asshole hero in the previous book...
Instead of carrying on the intensity of the prologue, the difference in pace (and intrigue) in the first chapter was jarring, and having learned from the first book in this duology that improvement either in pace, characterization or intensity is unlikely, I went on to read the last chapter...And didn't get the urge to go back and read the whole thing.

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