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review 2015-11-18 00:00
The Maddox Brothers
The Maddox Brothers - Ella Jade,Lacey Wo... The Maddox Brothers - Ella Jade,Lacey Wolfe This was a cool collaboration between Ella Jade and Lacey Wolfe. Each brother had their own distinct traits as well as many similarities. Hudson and Liam Maddox have made their own way in the real estate and construction world. Hudson is tired of the playboy life and wants to settle but is having a hard time finding someone who wants to be with him and not what he represents. Liam on the other hand, breaks out in hives at the mere suggestion of commitment.

Both brothers meet their match, Hudson in the form of 24 year old, fledgling house flipper Kennedy Harper; and Liam in the form of his first love Chelsea Sampson, the only woman he has ever loved and the one who broke his heart. Unexpected feelings and unresolved hurt and anger complicate matters a plenty but what results is a sweet romance and place to come home to at the end of the day for both of the Maddox Brothers.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.
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review 2015-11-09 00:00
The Maddox Brothers
The Maddox Brothers - Ella Jade,Lacey Wo... The Maddox Brothers - Ella Jade,Lacey Wolfe I was given the opportunity to read The Maddox Brothers in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasureful experience. Hot blooded males meet their matches when confronted with women who know what they want and have their own ideas how to get it.
The Maddox Brothers mixes sensuality with control and stormy personalities. Ella Jade and Lacey Wolfe created characters that are hard to look away from and not easy to let go of. With Hudson, Kennedy blows into his life leaving him questioning everything he found important and leaves the hunter feeling hunted. Liam has to decide if his heart can take the blow when Chelsea walks back into his life. Who will be tamed in this battle of hearts?
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-07-13 03:55
Review: Beautiful Sacrifice (Maddox Brothers #3) by Jamie McGuire
Beautiful Sacrifice - Jamie McGuire

Initial reaction: Nope, this book was the worst in this series so far, and narratively showed more of a decline in the writing style. No imagination in the plot or character resonance whatsoever. I'll admit there were a few moments when I genuinely laughed (the "Macho Pikachu" line was funny, dangnabit), but it was such a slog to get through this crap that instead of taking me hours to read, it took days.

The nicest thing I can say about it was that the colors in the cover scheme were nice. The inside on the other hand - different story.

Full review:

I debated a little while as to how I'd write this review, but for the sake of summary, this will be half discussion, half (constructive) venting.

I actually had more fun buddy reading this series with my bookish friend (with whom I've read the first two books in this series) than flying solo for this read. We had ideas and discussions about McGuire's expansions and New Adult as a whole that were food for thought, and I wish I could telegraph everything that we were able to discuss. She asked me if I was going to continue reading this series after the second one, and I said "Yeah, might as well - it's two more books. We can read it between us and discuss them when they release."

Well, two things happened in the time between me reading "Beautiful Redemption" and this book: my bookish friend moved away (she and her husband both got job ops in another state, which made me happy for them and sad at the same time), and another, I pretty much had to decide whether I'd still foot the bill for reading this. I did end up paying the $5.99 for this from a gift card I had on Amazon (which I assure you, I bought other books I knew I'd enjoy). Some might ask me: "Rose, you hated this series from the beginning, and you were still willing to give this series a chance?"

Well, considering I read K.A. Tucker's "Ten Tiny Breaths" series and hated all of them save for "Five Ways to Fall" - I figured there was a chance that my mind would change in the progression of a series (and I've been impressed since following K.A. Tucker's narratives from there). There were some reads that worked the same way with me for Samantha Young and other NA authors. I haven't completely written off New Adult as a category either, I've read titles I've really liked, but I've been hard pressed to find anything from McGuire that would suggest there's some narrative growth and resonance that'd connect with me personally. Was there a chance this would be different? Maybe, but I figured the only thing I had to lose was $6 and time. Some would probably say I shouldn't have even bothered putting money in the author's pocket, but considering I paid to read Raani York's "Dragonbride" earlier this year, I figured this couldn't be worse than that experience.

So the verdict: Not to sugarcoat it - it's the worst in this series thus far. The long and short of it was that this featured very bland, underdeveloped characters, dialogue that was drawn out with more self-insertion-y comments that made me shake my head, and for another thing: this was really...boring and tedious considering the scheme of events of the novel. I mean, it's hard to follow characters that you feel are pretty much being force fed to you from point one and that the heroine is pretty much Abby Abernathy 4.0 for voice and recounting of events. But the more vexing thing is that this devolved into a drama that was so over the top that I shook my head and said "Yeah, even if Jamie McGuire ends up writing five more books in this series or even a new one entirely, I'm not going to follow her as an author even if she co-writes with an author I actually do like." Reason being, the quality of the book isn't there for the price tag or for the time taken for the read.

First, there's cases of awkward writing that are more frequent than not:

"Before I had time to stop my expression, I narrowed my eyes and sneered."

"His lips baptized my skin in a line of tiny kisses..."


Then there are contradictions in the text, such as Taylor saying he has a master's degree in Women's Studies bud didn't go to graduate school. This was my comment on the matter for one of my status updates on Goodreads:

The reason I'm quoting this is because it's a contradiction: he says he doesn't have a graduate degree, but then says he has a masters in Women's Studies, but then doubles back and says he was kidding about the degree and then said he'd taken a few courses in women's studies.

Dude, what level of a degree do you think a masters is? It's graduate school, it's considered a "graduate" degree. Not to mention you pretty much contradicted yourself in the scheme of the conversation to Falyn. She should've seen through you lying because of the contradiction, but she didn't until you pointed out the truth.

Yeah...this likely didn't see a final edit for the turns of awkward phrasing and logic for conversational flow.


Another problem comes with the repetition for story elements/scenes: in this book, we have a laundry room scene (there was a similar scene in "Walking Disaster"), a scene where Taylor walks in the shower on Falyn and she giggles after the fact even when she tells him to get out (Travis and Abby did this in "Beautiful Disaster"), Taylor makes references to try to "bag" Falyn (Even though Falyn's like "No" -by this point I want to facepalm every time I see the word "bag" - it's such a stupid word for having sex with someone) and Falyn refers to Taylor as a stray puppy (which Abby made about Travis as well in "Beautiful Disaster." That's too many narrative references to be a coincidence, and it doesn't work as an ode to the original book because the nature of the inclusion feels repetitive. There are more references like that through the book, but think about how much of that is from the *beginning* of the story.

 

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review 2015-02-03 05:45
Review: Beautiful Redemption (Maddox Brothers #2) by Jamie McGuire
Beautiful Redemption: A Novel (Maddox Brothers Book 2) - Jamie McGuire

Pre-read reaction: *sighs* I might as well... =/

This is weird, though. It's like this is listed under two different series (#4 in the Beautiful Disaster series, #2 in the Maddox Brothers series), and I haven't really seen very many books that have that kind of measure. I'm guessing it's listed like this for continuity's sake, but it's still weird to me.

Post-read reaction: Probably not a surprise to anyone who's followed my "following" of this series, but you might be surprised as to why I didn't like this novel. I feel like the quality of JM's writing is just getting worse with each book, and more implausible with the storyline. The worst part of it is, I think this book is trying to backtrack to tie threads to "Walking Disaster" and "Beautiful Oblivion," along with making more diversified strides (lead character is Japanese heritage), but it's singing the same old song as her other narratives with threadbare conflict and characterization. There's just not a lot of effort here.

Full review:

"You looked through me like an open door
Do I exist to you anymore?
'Cause when I'm talking to you
There's someone else that you're hearing.

I gave you all the love I had,
And I almost gave you one more chance,
Then you put one in the chamber
And shot my heart of glass
This time will be the last."


- from "The Chamber" by Lenny Kravitz, from the album "Strut"

Starting off this review with this set of lyrics, because 1. These lyrics do have something to do with the themes in this book - I'll get to that shortly; 2. I'm fairly certain Lenny Kravitz has more sensuality in his pinky finger than anything this book could ever have; and 3. I sometimes wonder why the heck I keep reading JM's narratives after all this time when I keep feeling like I want to bang my head against the wall. But usually it always comes back to the fact that my curious mind keeps reeling me back in. Plus, if it keeps other people from spending $6 a pop (for the e-book!) for this ridiculous, formulaic, offensive piece, I think I'll be saving people time, money, and headaches.

(I'm not censoring my frustration in this review, in case you're wondering.)

So, um, you guys know how much I like Japanese culture, right? (The Face Your Manga avatar I have might be one indication, but seriously, there's far more signs than that.) You'd probably think I'd gobble up this book considering it features a part-Japanese heroine. But instead of saying "Finally! McGuire actually featured a POC in the reins of one of her stories!", my first thought was "Oh crap, this is another culture she's going to royally screw over."

(I point to "Apolonia" as Exhibit A. Seriously, that whole book was just made of wrong.)

*brandishes her harisen*

This is going to be a long review, so I'll have to break this up into subsections to make the read easier for those of you following along.

Part I: In which a Japanese/Irish heroine isn't enough to keep her from being pretty much like any other character JM has ever written (plus *STEREOTYPES*)

So this book is written from the perspective of Liis Lindy, a part Japanese, part Irish heroine who just moved away from her husband and is starting fresh in an assignment with the FBI. I had a feeling that McGuire chose a generic name for Liis's character for a couple of reasons:

1. This was meant to emphasize Liis's "exoticness", because she's Japanese-Irish, her name has to sound as such so that it can bring attention to the fact that people can know she's Asian and *something else*. When you take the time to emphasize people pronouncing her name as "geese, but with an L" and focus on how many people get her name wrong (including the supposed swoon-worthy hero), you've got serious issues portraying diverse characters.

Plus, for the name Liis, I'm pretty sure has Danish origins. It's not a common name, but honestly - Google could pull this up within a matter of seconds. I don't think McGuire did that search to suggest otherwise...

2. The letter "L" does not exist in the Japanese alphabet. And Lindy is actually Italian, Spanish and Latin origin for the name, IIRC. Google can confirm that in a few places, but there may be other uses for the name. Lindy means "pretty"/"beautiful". I guess this character has special snowflake written all over it. *sighs*

But you know what, that's probably nit-picking because if you think about it: Liis, regardless of her heritage, still comes across as an aggressive female lead who could very well be Abby Abernathy 3.0. She ends up meeting a Maddox boy who hits on her, with a line about her knowing "Kung-Fu" (she does address this as being possibly racist) and the comment:

"I just recently read about Asian female peace leaders being honored. I'm guessing you weren't one of them."

Many people would be telling this dude to screw off, but no, the heroine is somehow charmed and can't resist him, in lines like this:

"My little game was over. He'd won."

"The stranger’s shirt was off, his torso a combination of impressive genes and several years of an intensive daily workout regimen that had sculpted the perfection in front of me."

"When I nodded, he kissed me once and then left quickly to fish a square package from his wallet. When he returned, he ripped it open with his teeth. I was glad he’d brought his own. Even if I had thought to purchase condoms, I wouldn’t have had the foresight or optimism to buy any in his size."

"...even though I’d only just met this man above me, I would miss those longing kisses once he ducked out of my condo in the early hours of the morning—if he even waited that long."


Anyone want to throw tables yet?

Liis has a one-night stand with this dude, a guy who just so happens to live the floor above her. But push comes to shove when she reports to work the next day and, ooh la la, the man she slept with happens to be the infamous Thomas Maddox - her new boss.

From then on, it's a bit of a slog getting through the narrative because of a number of different things, but Liis is a weak narrator because she's so derivative. She's headstrong (like Abby), lacks proper motivation for her actions (like Abby), and while she finds the Maddox boy problematic and gets jealous of his relations at the drop of a hat (like Abby), she still can't stay away from the dude, even when she thinks he might be having another one-night stand at one point.

Don't get me wrong, Thomas is not much better. Matter in point, he's worse in a different way.

That's right guys, Thomas/T.J. is the same guy from the revelation of the last book. That's where things get pretty sticky.

Part II: Where's the Plot, dangnabit? Thomas Maddox, the lover who can't let go, and the FBI sting/recruitment that makes no lick of sense

So I'll address this part of the book two fold. This book seeks to explain plot threads that were left dangling in "Walking Diaster" (specifically the weird epilogue) and "Beautiful Oblivion," in terms of the so called "twist" ending. With the explanation provided in this book, I feel like McGuire made things ten times worse on the reflection of the narrative, because it's utterly ridiculous.

First plot point: Thomas can't get over his former love, Cami. This is a running theme through the novel, and hence why I reference Kravitz's lyrics in the beginning of this review. Since his brother, Trent, supposedly loved Cami first and the relationship fell apart, Thomas still pines for her and it's to blame for his hard demeanor towards everyone (except he's really not that alpha, despite some tendencies - his personality is really bland, and I don't say that just because he's not alpha. He's a single dimensioned character). But somehow Liis shows up and breaks down all his defenses - and EVERYBODY notices the change. It's too convenient. The relationship seems a forgone conclusion before it even truly begins.

Liis is insta-jealous of this former relationship (and no, she and Thomas hadn't even had a relationship for a month yet). Even when she has to pretend to be his girlfriend when meeting his family (Hello recycled plot point, Batman), she can't help doing the whole comparison game with Cami. And it's further complicated as they attend a party in which Trent plans to propose to Cami. Doesn't help that at one point in the work,

 

Thomas calls Liis by Cami's name during an intimate scene when they're drunk.

(spoiler show)

 

But I think you guys probably saw that one coming.


Second plot point: The idea that Thomas is trying to keep his little brother Travis Maddox out of jail. It's emphasized many times, but the idea is that the FBI is trying to manipulate Travis into getting Abby's father apprehended (alongside dealing with dangerous Yakuza - this is never really explained). They are even trying to recruit Travis to the FBI (even though the dude doesn't have a lick of experience.) Thomas has to convince Travis to keep all this from Abby and stick to the plan. Only the plan is so threadbare, you could pull apart the holes. Liis's role in it isn't that clear cut, because she's slated as a translator who can speak Japanese, but is she really needed? (Answer's no, but she's there anyway.)

I still feel like this is pretty much the Travis and Abby show since their mentions and personas overtake the newer characters with ease. McGuire does do quite a bit of summarizing of the events of "Beautiful Wedding" among others in the context of the narrative, and provides (for the first time) Abby's motivations in context of the shotgun wedding. And McGuire even makes the reveal that Travis has to come to terms with the events of the fire and his role in that. He pretty much says he has to "think about it" when it comes to his cooperation and it's pretty annoying how all that's summed up in the context of the novel. But things go as you would expect them to for the operation to begin.

I don't think the FBI context in the novel is that strong, nor that well researched (despite McGuire saying that she consulted someone who's married to an FBI agent). Promotions are not given that frequently (as Thomas does to Liis towards the beginning of the novel. Conflict of interest relationships and power pulls are not that rampant, and certainly FBI agents aren't recruited so readily especially considering people with volatile histories (a.k.a. Travis Maddox).

I felt like the ending was far too convenient, rushed and telegraphed:

 

Really, both Liis and Thomas getting shot at the same time? How...romantic?/tragic? With matching wound scars? Oy vey.

(spoiler show)

 

At least it wasn't a cruel cliffhanger like the last book, but I still did many mental facepalms at the sequence of events and explanations behind them.


My end thoughts are that this novel was far too unrealistic, implausible, underdeveloped, and formulaic to work. And the whole diversity address is just a front because Thomas and Liis were weakly drawn characters, cookie cutter imitations, and really set-pieces for a plot that was essentially backtracking to cover weakly drawn plot points in former novels of this series. I'm not confident that other novels in this respective series won't just be for wish fulfillment purposes rather than being a showcase of the actual main characters contained within, with palpable issues, problems, struggles, and things that would otherwise develop them and bring them full circle. McGuire just doesn't know how to handle these things well in the work.

In the end, not recommended. I may read the last two novels to see where they begin and if they do anything to improve upon this and the previous novel in this respective branch of the Beautiful Disaster series. But I have no confidence. None whatsoever.

Overall score: 0.5/5 stars.

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review 2013-06-19 00:00
Untitled (Maddox Brothers, #1) - Jamie M... Untitled (Maddox Brothers, #1) - Jamie McGuire A MADDOX BROTHER BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
photo tumblr_inline_mhod68yRkw1qz4rgp_zpsca03e6d1.gif
NEED. IT. NOW.
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