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text 2016-09-02 01:13
Can You Read a Series in a Month? Wrap Up

See Also:  Wrap Up posts and link up @ Because Reading and Fantasy is more fun

This was definitely a fun experience!  I love the feeling of binge reading an entire series, even if said series is probably still ongoing.  Because now I have something to look forward to when Maggie Shayne publishes the next book in this series.  I'm so excited!

As a refresher, I'm re-posting the series I chose along with my updated review links.  For the Goodreads series page screen shot, please scroll to end of the post.

This was a fun and lovely series I really, really enjoyed, and I look forward to the next time our lovely hosts present this challenge, because I'm game for it!



My Series Pick


Brown and de Luca series by Maggie Shayne

Completed Reviews:  (updated on 8/12/2016)
1.  Sleep with the Lights On -- Read 08/02/2016
2.  Wake to Darkness -- Read 08/07/2016
3.  Innocent Prey -- Read 08/09/2016
4.  Deadly Obsession -- Read 08/10/2016
novella:  Dream of Danger -- Read 08/03/2016
*above links will go to my reviews for each book || the series title above links to the GR series page



GR Series Page Screenshot


And as requested by our lovely hosts, here is a screenshot of the goodreads series page, showing all the books I read for this series!


Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/09/can-you-read-series-in-month-wrap-up.html
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review 2016-08-13 02:36
Thoughts: Deadly Obsession
Deadly Obsession - Maggie Shayne

Deadly Obsession

by Maggie Shayne
Book 4 of Brown and de Luca

**This review contains pertinent information that gives away the endings of the previous books.  Please do not proceed unless you have already read the previous books in this series.


A cold-blooded killer with a burning obsession...

Rachel de Luca has a bad feeling about the new woman in Detective Mason Brown's life, the nurse taking care of him after he's injured in the line of duty.  She'd like to think it's just jealousy, but intuition tells her it's something more, maybe something dangerous.

Mason knows Rachel's wary of commitment, and asking her to stay when he's in this condition would be the worst thing for their relationship.  Then they receive chilling news that drives everything else from their minds.

Mason's psychotic sister-in-law has escaped from custody, putting her sons — the nephews he's raising — in the crosshairs.  When his house is burned to the ground, he and Rachel are relieved that there are no bodies in the smoldering rubble, but now his nephews are missing and the clock is ticking.

As Mason and Rachel try to find the boys, she senses a new and unexpected danger stalking them. Soon, everyone close to Mason is in deadly peril — Rachel more than anyone...

As I had mentioned in my Pre-Review of Deadly Obsession, Maggie Shayne answered a question on GR stating that there was going to be a fifth installment of the Brown and de Luca series.  I haven't seen much else about this news aside from another GR question answered by Shayne, that gives a tentative release date for fall of this year.  And then there's the reference to an older book, The Gingerbread Man, of which I will probably be checking out from the library in the next few days, because READING MOOD.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing what there will be in store next for this series, because as it stands, Deadly Obsession actually feels like a pretty well-rounded conclusion to the Brown and de Luca series, if that was what Shayne is going for.  If not, I suppose we'll be seeing even more stand-alone novels being pushed out centering around Rachel and Mason, and frankly, I'm not complaining.

If I had to describe how I felt about Deadly Obsession, I'd actually say that it was the most exciting, edge-of-your-seat installment of this series.  It doesn't really have a mystery, per se, since we already know up front who the serial arsonist slash killer is.  And we also get to see into said arsonist/killer's head, and it is definitely NOT a steady place to be.  There's a pretty twisted mind floating around the world of this fourth book and it's kind of scary.

As was the case with the previous books, the action starts out immediately, with Mason rushing into a burning building to save babies, thus cementing him in every woman's mind as the perfect, wonderful hero he's always been (aside from that one little set-back with his brother being an evil serial killer and how he covered up that evidence, and all).  Mason regains a bit more depth in this fourth book than I had seen from the previous installment, but he still comes off a bit carbon-copy, so I hope that the next book will be good for him.

Instead, Rachel's continued complexities makes me continue to love her more and more.  And I love that she doesn't react like a typical romance novel heroine to many different situations she is presented with.  And I'm also kind of glad that her jealous side is so transparent and childish when it comes to Mason's home care nurse, "Nurse Boobsalot," but that at the same time, she's quite level-headed about her feelings.  But being level-headed on the outside doesn't mean that she's not going to resort to childish name calling and unabashed web stalking of said new nurse who all but charges into Mason's home with the obvious mission of seducing him, even with Rachel standing right there.

And I find it even more amusing that even Mason's nephews have caught onto the home care nurse's seduction plans, while Mason's just all, "Well, she seemed so desperate for a job that I just couldn't turn her down.  What do you mean she's got a thing for me?"  Because it's kind of cool that he doesn't seem to notice or care... though, honestly a little unbelievable.  Because as Rachel points out, there's no way a hot-blooded man like him couldn't notice the centerfold model body on that woman.

I also loved this description of the first time Rachel sees and describes the nurse, Gretchen Young:

I looked out the front door as a nymphomaniac prostitute in a Nurse Goodbody costume got out of a little red car and Beyonce'd her way to the door.

"I thought it was June.  It's still June, right?  'Cause this looks like Halloween to me."

Jeremy said, "If she says 'trick-or-treat,' Dad, give her me."

"Oh, hell," Mason said.

I turned slowly, tearing my eyes off the breast-feeding-mother-sized breasts that were revealed by the open top of her white, button-down, skintight, micro-mini nurse getup.  Yea, it was that bad.

One of the things I found sweet was how the boys, Mason's nephews, realized that Nurse Gretchen was trying to seduce Mason, and decided to let the nurse know that it was no good because of how Mason's "crazy about Rachel," and so Gretchen's pre-occupation with Mason was a waste of time.  The entire tone Jeremy (the seventeen year old) took when speaking to Gretchen felt pretty protective of Rachel, and that was just all sorts of sweet and made me smile.

The interactions between the characters have always been pretty excellent, especially within this newly minted little family of uncle, nephews, and Rachel, plus the dogs.  I wouldn't mind seeing more of them in future installments being all "happy, warm family" with each other.

And again, despite the fact that we already know what's going on--with the psychotic arsonist, and Mason's sister-in-law being a danger to them as well--the book was every bit a page-turning suspense to find out how things would pan out in the end.  As with the previous books, this one was probably damn near perfect in spite of the switching POV narration.

The events were fast-paced and straight-forward, and I didn't really feel like there were too many tangents taken that would sidetrack from the main conflict.  We get to see more of Jeremy as an individual rather than just a kid in the background in Mason's life.  We get to see more of twelve-year-old Joshua as well and some bits of youthful wisdom that really makes you think.

But all-in-all, the story flew by pretty quickly and you're left with a gaping hole and thoughts of, "Oh.  It's over?  Already?"  And then we proceed to pout and await the next installment.

Oh, but also, there's a very obvious mistake in the story line that apparently didn't get caught:  Mason's partner, Rosie's wife is named Gwen in this book, when in previous books she was named Marlayna.  I thought there might have been just a typo at first, but she is referred to several more times as Gwen in this book, so it seems like it was just one editing mistake that should probably be fixed.

Otherwise, damn near perfect.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Three | Square R10 -- Thriller
Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/thoughts-deadly-obsession.html
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review 2016-08-11 21:15
Thoughts: Innocent Prey
Innocent Prey - Maggie Shayne

Innocent Prey

by Maggie Shayne
Book 3 of Brown and de Luca

To save innocent lives, they'll have to risk their own.

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge's daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it's connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel's assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there's no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he'll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel's uncanny capacity to see through people's lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

About halfway through the book, I sent my BFF a recommendation for this Brown and de Luca series telling her that she really needed to start reading these books.  I think they would be right up her alley with a nice balance of crime thriller to romance, and not too much explicit sex (which would be much more to her liking than any of the other more racy romantic suspense books I've recommended in the past).  There's the blind bulldog, Myrtle, and a lot of family interaction between Rachel, Mason, and the teenagers.

Actually, there are no explicit sex scenes whatsoever in these books, which really dampens the heat level of the book in my personal opinion, but it doesn't usually stop the chemistry between our main couple from being good.  I mean, I don't need sex scenes in my romances to make them good romances, but the relationship between Rachel and Mason so far has been based on some invisible bond the two share that I'm not entirely feeling.  It shows that they work well together, and they banter like the best couple in the world.  We don't really get the explicit sex scenes, but the two talk about screwing like bunnies a lot throughout the book.

But there's still something about their romance that seems to be missing a little bit of sizzle.

And no, I don't mean that the books need sex to spice up the sizzle of the main couple's romance.  I've read plenty of other books where the couple convey a great deal of chemistry without sex sprinkled into the mix.  Heck, I've watched a lot of television series and movies where the couple are completely chaste and still seem to exhibit more chemistry than Rachel and Mason have been projecting since the first book.

I just feel like they're missing something.

But that's beside the point, because I really just LOVE this series for so many other reasons outside of the slightly lukewarm romance.  And I say slightly lukewarm if only because I can see where their romance is a great development.  Rachel and Mason make a great couple!  They're an excellent partnership.  They ARE having sex all the time, and they act so naturally around each other that its wonderful!  Again, I'm just not really feeling the sizzle.

But aside from that and some of the cheesy dialogue at the end of the book (as well as a few little quibbles here and there), this book was damn near perfect.  Okay, maybe it wasn't damn near perfect; I still don't like the switching POV narrations.  But I loved the book and I love how the series is developing from Rachel's connection to other organ donor recipients... to something much bigger and badder.

Her self-named "NFP" powers, the acronyms for "Not Fucking Psychic" powers (**snort**), are taking an interesting direction, and somehow managing to convince me of the connection from other stuff introduced since the first book.  And I'm buying it!

I love that the scope of these books are expanding into other potential directions and possibilities.  I love that we get to continue seeing Rachel's character developing with each book.  She has so far gone from a cynic--even about her own self-help books--to a "maybe I'm starting to believe the bullshit I dish out" type of attitude.  And it's great, because even with that, she still maintains her crass personality, the consistent cussing, and an underlying innocence that probably could only be okay on a thirty-something because of her reborn eyesight.

I enjoyed the premise of the main conflict in this particular book as well, and much more so than the first book; although the second book has a much more intriguing criminal mystery.

As per usual, all the characters are great, even with the introduction of new characters, and more book time by recurring characters.

And then there's the snark and the awesome that is Rachel de Luca.  I mean, sure, she goes a little overboard in her mind meanderings throughout the narration sometimes, but I've come to expect it and I love her all the same.  Myrtle is awesome!  The kids are cute.  Mason could use a little more tweaking because he's coming off as Mr. Perfect with the proper romance novel hero flaws--he had so much more depth to his personality throughout the first two books, and he kind of fades into the background in this one.

And I also miss Amy, Rachel's assistant who doesn't really make an appearance at all in this third book.

But mainly, I just loved reading this.  A lot.


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Three | Square C1 -- Paranormal
Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/thoughts-innocent-prey.html
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review 2016-08-11 03:39
Pre-Review Thoughts: Deadly Obsession
Deadly Obsession - Maggie Shayne

Deadly Obsession

by Maggie Shayne
Book 4 of Brown and de Luca

Pretty much binge-read entire series for Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge.  But considering that it was only four books of less than 400 pages each plus one novella, it wasn't much since I average more books than that monthly.  But this series was pretty awesome, so I'm not complaining or anything... except that I am because author Maggie Shayne has stated that there will be a new installment of the Brown and de Luca series that is supposed to be out this year, but I've seen no peep of any such thing yet.

Anyway, this series was awesome (as I already said).  I don't know if I liked this fourth book more than the third book, but the romantic chemistry between Rachel and Mason was definitely MUCH better than the previous.  The plot was less of a mystery and more of a suspense and crime thriller since the culprit is revealed at the beginning anyway, but there was plenty excitement had by all.

And Rachel's snark as well as Myrtle's awesome dogginess is definitely a bonus!

Proper full review to come!  And the rest of the reviews for the other books in this series will be posted soon, too!


2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Three | Square R10 -- Thriller
Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/pre-review-thoughts-deadly-obsession.html
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review 2016-08-11 00:02
Thoughts: Wake to Darkness
Wake to Darkness - Maggie Shayne

Wake to Darkness

by Maggie Shayne
Book 2 of Brown and de Luca

Stranded with a murderer...

Rachel de Luca's uncanny sense of perception is the key to her success as a self-help celebrity.  Even before she regained her sight, she had a gift for seeing people's most carefully hidden secrets.  But the secret she shares with Detective Mason Brown is one she has promised to keep.  As for Mason, he sees Rachel more clearly than she'd like to admit...

After a single night of adrenaline-fueled passion, they have agreed to keep their distance—until a string of murders brings them together again.  Mason thinks that he can protect everyone he loves, including Rachel, by taking them to a winter hideaway, but danger follows them up the mountain.

As guests disappear from the snowbound resort, the race to find the murderer intensifies.  Rachel knows she's a target.  Will acknowledging her feelings for Mason destroy her...or save them both and stop a killer?

Wake to Darkness definitely has more suspense than the first book in this series, as well as a very intriguing murder mystery to go with it.  Sleep with the Lights On was all kinds of creepy and exciting and fun; but if I'm honest with myself, I really DID enjoy this second book a little bit more than the first.  And I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that we already know our protagonists and have a grasp on the kind of characters they are.

This Brown and de Luca series is just the right amount of series-format plus stand-alone installments to keep a reader hooked, while at the same time giving us new material to enjoy per each book.


Wake to Darkness employs one of my more favorite plot devices, as the blurb states, stranding our heroes on a mountain in the dead of a wintery snow storm.  Of course, I hadn't quite expected the Snowbound device to be executed the way it had been presented, and unfortunately, I didn't take to it as well as I would have in other cases.  I'm not entirely sure I'm a hundred percent behind the fact that Mason chooses to take his entire family on a vacation when there's a killer out there hunting them--and to bring them to a resort where there are lots of other people, innocently trying to enjoy their own holiday vacation as well...

Of course, setting that little quibble aside, the rest of the book was fueled with suspense and that same eerie intrigue that comes with an exciting murder mystery and more of Rachel's "woo-woo" paranormal stuff.  The fact that we put a new spin on the organ donation angle carried over from the first book made for a great premise to follow:

Rather than Mason's brother killing from the grave using the evil within his donated organs (which I'm still a little iffy about THAT particular concept, with the "cellular consciousness" thing also carrying an evil gene, or something like that), the recipients of the donated organs, instead, are the murder victims as someone is running around hunting and removing said organs.  Instead of seeing the murders take place from the eyes of the murderer, Rachel's connection to the organ donation recipients forces her mind into the bodies of these people as they are being murdered.

The creepy factor is WAY up there this time!  O.o

When the finale rolls around, however, the first book and the second book collide, and the reasoning behind all the killings make a whole lot more sense--without that iffier premise from the first book, the killings from the second book would have had to have been way different.

And you know what?  I really DO appreciate how both books are stand alone mysteries, and yet the premises come together in the bigger picture of the long run.  It makes me wonder how the rest of the books in the series will give us newer, fresher cases to follow while at the same time referring excellently back to actions and events from the previous books.

As I did for the first book and the novella, I immensely loved Rachel and all the characters, some more than others and some less than others.  Rachel and Mason make a great team as partners in investigation, with Mason's police detective skills and Rachel's "uncanny sense of perception" that she had developed during her twenty years of being blind.  I DO love Rachel's sense of sarcasm, although I feel like she got a bit exhausting with some of her "Inner Bitch to Self" conversations inside her head--it was cute the first few times, but after a while it started getting a little old.  Nonetheless, I still loved following her narration a lot.

The romance was not as satisfying as I would have liked, if only because our main couple are great together as an investigating partnership, but have yet to really exhibit any kind of emotional or physical chemistry despite the blazing lust generating off of the two in spades.  I just can't seem to connect the romance, and I find the sudden inner monologue declarations of love a little premature.  Their chemistry was better in this second book, but still not to the level I would have liked, so I'm hoping to see more from them in the romance arena in the next book since they all but declared themselves to each other, even if not in so many words.

Of course, there still wasn't a clear conclusion to the romance by the end of the book.

Finally, the last thing I wanted to mention was the murder mystery, because I really DID enjoy this one and loved the premise to death.  A serial killer taking out all the recipients of Eric Brown's donated organs?  My only spoiler sport attitude about that was: How did the killer know which victims to target, because all of this information should be of the utmost confidential kind?  Even the police had to go through a lot of red tape and paperwork just to get an okay to view that information.

Otherwise, it was definitely an intriguing premise, even if not executed in the best of ways.

I kind of figured out who the killer was after Rachel was attacked the first time.  It was kind of a given and made the most sense to me, even if it didn't really.  If that makes any sense to anyone else at all.

Wake to Darkness was lots of fun and excitement.  And then there was also Myrtle, the blind bulldog Rachel adopted from the first book--such an adorable and awesome little mascot for these books!


2016 Reading Challenges:

Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board Three | Square C6 -- Romance
Can You Read a Series in a Month? Challenge



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/thoughts-wake-to-darkness.html
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