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review 2019-01-16 03:22
A little lost, a little choppy, but something catchy
Hard to Protect (Black Ops Heroes Book 3) - Incy Black

I should have started with the first in the series, I felt pretty lost with the secret OPs world building.

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review 2019-01-13 19:00
Husband and wife, cat and mouse
Stealing Mr. Right (Penelope Blue) - Tamara Morgan

“Eating in the library?” He made a deep tsking sound. “Shame on you, Penelope Blue. You’re lucky I don’t turn you in to the authorities.”

I relaxed ever so slightly. He wasn’t arresting me. He was flirting with me. “You can’t prove a thing,” I said quickly. “I swallowed the evidence.”

His eyes deepened in color until they were almost black. “Now that’s something I like to hear."

 

The daughter of the Blue Fox could do nothing but grow up to be a jewel thief. Penelope hasn't seen her father in years or his supposed hundred million nest egg, with a cobbled together group of friends, she makes her living stealing jewels. What starts off as part of bet with her bestfriend Riker, she gets close to a FBI agent who seems to be watching them.

 

Written in first person and all from Penelope's point of view, I personally missed our FBI agent Grant's thoughts. I can see why the author chose this as it intensifies their cat and mouse game of how much does Grant know about Penelope and is he using her? The author gives a couple emotional hints here and there to give the reader a pretty good idea where Grant's head and heart is at but Penelope is always second guessing. 

 

I flew through this as the writing and story was pretty addictive. However, the flashbacks were laid out in a way that gave the pace a bit of a stop and go feeling, ramping up the pace in the present tense only to halt it with going back in the past to see how Penelope and Grant got together. It felt like the author was purposefully doing this but it ended up making the pace feel very uneven to me. 

 

The series looks to be focused on Penelope, so even though there is no cliffhanger here, her story will continue on. Her group of friends deserve their own series or books as the author did a great job giving us enough of them to support the story and Penelope's character without clogging and enticing us to know more. 

 

This felt a little more madcap chik-lit than strictly romance and, like I said, not having Grant's pov killed a little of their relationship depth for me, but I couldn't tear myself away from reading the adventure. 

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review 2019-01-12 00:01
The Way You Love Me by Miranda Liasson
The Way You Love Me: Includes a bonus novella (Angel Falls Book 2) - Miranda Liasson

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

 

Second in a series based in the small town of Angel Falls, The Way You Love Me,has plenty of charm. A single father hero, Cade, resettling into his hometown and a new job, finds himself unwilling attracted to one of his creative writing students. Gabby just hit thirty and made partner at her law firm but discovering a box of writings from a mother she lost at a young age, has her searching for ways to connect not only to her mother but herself.

 

Who was this man, who seemed kind of uptight and strict in the classroom but seemed so wonderfully vulnerable and human— not to mention sexy—after hours?

 

In a style, tone, and pace that felt like women's fiction, this also provided a good focus on the relationship trying to develop between Cade and Gabby. Cade's background of having a smaller family with dead beat father and absent ex-wife leaving him to care for his young daughter, provided great foundation for his not wanting to ask for help and self-contained personality. Gabby also was a flushed out character with a larger, strong, and self-sufficient family that left her feeling even more insecure about her desires to bounce from careers and hobbies, explaining her personality traits of not feeling good enough. The main characters were clearly well thought out and were the stronger for it.

 

This is second in a series and I'm wondering if characters from a connecting series make appearances as there were couples and plenty of friends that could be waiting in the wings for their own stories; I felt lost a few times with all the names. There is also a slight secondary romance brewing with Gabby's brother Rafe and her friend Katilyn that will capture you attention (it looks like their book is next in the series). The geographical setting of Angel Falls isn't really gotten into but the author has you feel the small town through the characters' relationships, which she did a good job of. The overall network of characters and how they feel about each other, emotions and connections, is a highlight and what I think people come for when they select small town romances, you'll get that here.

 

While friends and family connections were felt, I didn't fully grasp Gabby and Cade's connection. The author handled Cade being Gabby's teacher in a wonderfully mature way and while I think their beginning dance of touch and go took me in, the middle or meaty part of their relationship was missing for me. They kind of hop to instant attraction, sexual tension, then strong enough feelings to be together forever, a very rushed emotional aspect ending. I felt I didn't get to experience them interacting or bonding enough to believe in or enjoy them as a couple.

 

I'm not a huge fan of children in novels but Cade's daughter made enough appearances to bring the feels (Cade watching Youtube videos to figure out how to French braid her hair) but was absent enough to not interfere with the romance aspects. Cade's ex-wife, father, to some extent, and a few other secondary characters made quick little for drama's sake splashes but didn't quite have the time or depth for heavy emotional hits. I also thought Gabby's job seemed conspicuously absent, as she just made partner. However, if you read the first in the series or recognized characters from other books by the author, you'd probably enjoy the glimpses and human connections placed here instead of Gabby dealing with her job.

 

As I mentioned, this had plenty of charm, if not a lot of spark. The almost women's fiction feel, but with stronger focus on Gabby and Cade's romance relationship building, will provide a great slow down and lose yourself into a fictional small town world for a while. There were plenty of secondary characters to hope for future books and I myself need to find out what happens between Gabby's brother Rafe and her friend Kaitlyn in the next installment.

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review 2019-01-08 16:55
The danger of expectations
The Devil is French - Delilah Marvelle

I did a Buddy Read for this one, for more comments and quotes - The Devil is French Buddy Read

 

It is no secret that I loved the heck out Mr. Ridley, the first in this series that follows Mr. Ridley, an inspector with a dark past and Jemdanee, a skilled medicinal Indian woman. The first was their meeting, sparking, and emotional whirlwind. In this second addition, they are reunited after three years apart.

 

“If we don’t trust each other, Jemdanee, we’ll fail each other.”

 

I would suggest reading this right after the first or at least brushing up as I felt some of the characterization of Ridley felt off in the beginning as I remembered aspects of his persona that soften more at the very end of the first. I thought the beginning was a little annoying with every male finding Jemdanee the bees knees, we even have a super obsessed man, Bradley, in what felt like a little bit of easy danger and tension plot. I did enjoy the author's continued "make you think" comments, this time questioning motivations and actions of Christian and British works towards India and it's people.

 

When the book got about 35% in is when I finally felt like Ridley and Jemdanee started to click for me, they started to get their rhythm. I do think there were times that it felt like Ridley was imposing his thoughts and will on Jemdanee (I thought in the first she pushed back more), which gave their relationship a different tone. 

 

I hate to say it but a lot of this book felt like filler to me. The whole middle part felt like Ridley constantly preparing Jemdanee for their sexual relationship and it felt like a lot of stalling. More often than not, stretched out one couple relationship series like this don't jive with me, so there could be some personal likes/dislikes happening here as this book was a very slowed down and focused but what felt like lack of trajectory. 

 

At the end we finally get a direction with the author circling back to Ridley's father's murder and an arc for the third book. At the end, we do get a bedroom scene payoff but when it finally did come, I felt a bit disappointed. For all the talk and build up, there was a strange lack of emotion and heat for me. There were bald dirty words and actions but for how hot these two were out of the bedroom, the emotion was pretty stark in it. 

 

Overall, I felt like the trajectory was off and most of this came off feeling like filler; nothing really resolved or accomplished but it is a middle book in a three part series. I'm still excited for the third in the series (I really do think Ridley's ex-wife should get a novella at the very least and ideally her own full length book/duology) to come out and see where these two end up. 

 

Evan Oswald, I fear over time, we will erase each other with a need to prove ourselves to each other.”

 

 

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review 2018-12-28 23:26
Beyond Risk by Connie Mann
Beyond Risk - Connie Mann

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

 

Beyond Risk starts off the Florida Wildlife Warriors series dropping the reader into relationship drama and murder mystery. There are a lot of characters to keep track off and I have to say, I didn't quite get a handle on who was who until the second half of the story. Our heroine Charlee is a former Fish and Wildlife Officer who is starting to take over her parents' business of selling outback supplies and offering guided kayak rides down the rapids. Last year a teenage boy was killed on one of her guided trips and now on the anniversary, another teenager is almost drowned and shot. Last years accident is starting to look like murder and the murderer is back.

 

Along with Charlee, we have her two big brothers Pete (cop) and Josh (Fish & Wildlife Officer), her younger sister Natalie, an ex-boyfriend who doesn't want to be one, an employee who has a big crush on her, another younger male who has a crush on her (or at least her cupcakes), the two different families of the teenage victims, a father and mother (recovering from a stroke), and last but not least, our hero Hunter. There are some other minor characters but you can tell by that cast list what I was talking about a lot of who to keep track of.

 

The story does start off right the bat but I checked twice to make sure this wasn't second in the series or if I had missed some prologue story. Charlee and Hunter's friendship starts and develops before this book starts, so when we come in, the ground work is already laid and feelings have already developed, they now have full blown crushes and want to get together. This was disappointing as that is why I read romance, to witness and enjoy the building blocks of romance. The case work of putting the pieces together, racing to rescue everyone of Charlee's family members (dad isn't targeted I guess, but everyone else has danger moments), and searching for a possible murderer; it all started to feel a bit repetitive.

 

The chemistry between the leads felt pretty dry, Charlee doesn't know if she can trust her instincts towards Hunter. This started to feel very forced as Hunter constantly is great to her and she is always thinking how his actions put her agency first (there is an ending scene to cause some friction between them to angst this up). Hunter has the ever present storyline of not feeling good enough for Charlee, even though he only really pushes her away twice and then actively is trying to be with her. This was fairly clean overall, their sex scene goes by pretty quick and is cloaked in water rafting metaphors, think something about riding the rapids. They came off as probably would work in real life couple but not particularly romantic, inspiring, or fun to read about.

 

The murder mystery simply had too many characters along with their backstories to explain motivations, it was confusing and not all that believable in certain parts. There were obvious red herring characters but as they faded into the background or were left abandoned, I couldn't help but think what was the point of them as they only clogged up the story. Charlee supposedly has this great relationship with her siblings but they never really interact in many scenes, leaving an empty hole in feeling their relationship. I did enjoy the one or two scenes she had with her mother, these were heartfelt and added to the emotional feel of the story and brought depth to both characters.

Characters felt a bit like they were standing still as the story weaved around them, instead of feeling like they were a part of and guided the story. The building of the romance and relationship between Charlee and Hunter seemed to happened before the reader is brought in and some secondary characters clogged the story instead of added to it. This was pretty fast paced and if reading about two characters who like each other while stop and go driving around trying to figure out a possible murder mystery, with some crocodiles, a snake, and the hero calling the heroine cher (many, many times) making appearances, there is plenty of that here for you.

 

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