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review 2020-05-02 15:27
Leave Me Breathless by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Leave Me Breathless - Jodi Ellen Malpas

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.

Former MI5, Ryan has been working for an exclusive protection agency for the last couple years and he is weary. Deciding that it is time to retire, he can't wait to get home and spend more time with his daughter but a new woman in town is disturbing his peace.
Hannah is constantly on the move and knowing she is only going to spend six months in this new town, she doesn't want attachments. When the town hottie almost runs her over though, all kinds of complications arise, the biggest starting with her heart.

Ryan's a good man. He deserves my all. But one thing I have to accept is that he can't have one piece of me. My secrets. No one can ever know that part of me. That alone could ruin everything.

Leave Me Breathless is a stand-alone but readers of The Protector will remember Ryan and enjoy the little appearances from that couple. Readers will also notice how similar this story line is to Protector; protective man falling in love with a woman who has secrets about an abusive man in her past. What hurt this story the most was the tried and true but nothing new formula. Told in alternating chapter first person povs, the beginning drew me in with Ryan quitting his job so he can spend more time at home relaxing and spending time with his daughter. While Hannah's past is not fully revealed until the second half, there are enough hints that the reader has a good idea what she is running from. The second half dragged as Hannah kept hiding her past from Ryan and their sexcapades took over for plot.

Hannah was a character that came close to a form of manic pixie girl, she is so adorably clumsy (to the point at times I worried she had vertigo), so sweet, and look how cute she is when she always has paint on her and doesn't care about make-up or appearance. It also made no sense that she would go to the trouble of setting up a paint store when she only planned on staying in town for six months.

Ryan was a hero that I probably would have liked more in my teens but older me was cringing at times at his controlling attitude; there were moments I felt his actions weren't that different or far off from the abusive husband Hannah was running from. His relationship with his ten year old daughter was nice, even though I thought his daughter's personality seemed a bit advanced for a ten year old.

Hannah and Ryan did have a nice feeling of fitting together, they did lack some foundation or solidness to their relationship that had me thinking their love was too quick to come to fruition. They did play off each other well, I just wish some of Ryan's “protectiveness” had been toned down.

There's a tiny bit of ex-wife drama but the characters' acted in a way that I appreciated, not overly dramatic about it and the resolution was pretty quick. The danger from Hannah's past was hinted at, slow to fully reveal, and then quickly (and a bit worrisome how Ryan immediately wanted to and dealt with it) wrapped up. If you like the classic story of woman in danger and protective man this would fit the bill, just don't expect any freshness to the tale.

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review 2020-04-21 19:19
Review: Close Up by Amanda Quick
Close Up - Amanda Quick

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Amanda Quick perfectly balances flash and glam with secrets and murder in Close Up. I adore the rich, atmospheric world of the Burning Cove series and it was oh-so-easy to fall into Vivian and Nick’s story.

Vivian Brazier has the boldness of a Katharine Hepburn character. She left her family’s wealth behind in order to make it as a successful artist in the modern style. Vivian freelances as a crime scene photographer to pay the bills and struggles with casual sexism, the bias in favor of traditional art, and hiding her crime scene photography job so that she’s taken seriously as an artist. I enjoyed this so much that I could easily have read a book just on Vivian’s photography career. Vivian truly sees people when she photographs them and her slightly supernatural sight makes her great at what she does. It also puts her in the crosshairs of the “Dagger Killer” when she picks up on details at a crime scene that the police missed. Protection comes in the form of Nick Sundridge and his dog, Rex. Rex is quite the scene-stealer, but his owner can hold his own. Nick has a supernatural skill of his own that includes callback to Ms. Quick’s Arcane Society series. The handsome private investigator has lucid dreams that help him solve cases, though some would see the dreams as a curse. It will take both Nick and Vivian’s skills – plus the help of some Burning Cove series favorites – in order to catch a killer.

Close Up is heavy on the suspense and I enjoyed the twists and turns the story took. That doesn’t mean Ms. Quick neglected the romance; in fact, it works really well. Both Vivian and Nick have had rocky relationships in their past (Nick in particular) but it’s clear they are made for each other. They are understanding, nonjudgmental, and supportive of one another. They also have an easy chemistry that makes watching their love story unfold a delight.

Close Up is the fourth book in the Burning Cove series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. As with every book in this series, I love the world Ms. Quick has created. Glamour hiding a seedy underbelly is often a theme and it’s an enjoyable one. Lush, engaging, and with mysteries and a romance that satisfy, I thoroughly enjoyed Close Up and I cannot wait to return to Burning Cove.


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

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2020/04/review-close-up-by-amanda-quick.html
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review 2020-04-11 21:39
The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

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.

 

The Sisters Grimm are daughters of air---at least they begin that way---born of dreams and prayer, imagination and faith, bright-white wishing and black-edged desire.

 

Melding together magical realism, fairy tales, and good versus evil, The Sisters Grimm was a young adult book that had an intriguing premise but ultimately, took on too much. The reader is introduced to four girls and one boy in constant, short bursts of first person povs. Time stamps and a countdown of days start each pov and chapter, alerting that the story is building up to something. Goldie's pov was most prominent and it becomes clear that Goldilocks and earth are her ties to the magical aspect. Goldie's “sisters” are Liyana, and I think, the Little Mermaid and water for her power, Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood and fire, and Bea as Beauty and the Beast and air. To go along with the pov jumps, there are back into the past time jumps when these four girls could visit the magical land, Everwhere, they were born from ten years ago.

 

If it already seems like a lot to keep track of, you are not alone, it took until around the 30% mark for me to even get close to sliding into the mode of how this story was written. The changing povs, tense shifts, and time jumps created a disjointed and disruptive pace that never flowed smoothly for me. I also thought the world building could have been much stronger; the reader has these characters thrown at them without much context to the world. Part of the lack of explanation in the beginning was probably due to keeping some mystery but even in the second half I couldn't conceptualize Everwhere. From what I could gather, the father, Wilhelm, is God and he created Grimm girls and Soldier boys to fight in the never ending Good vs. Evil, but he pulls for Evil. Soldiers are stars that have fallen to the earth while Grimms are born from Wilhelm sleeping with Grimm women. Yes, if I understood this right, incest plays a big part in this world.

 

Along with the Grimm girls, Leo, a soldier plays a big part as he initially is trying to get close to Goldie to kill her. While Grimm girls can travel to Everwhere in their dreams from a young age, they lose their ability to and memories at age thirteen and don't come into their powers until eighteen (hence the countdown utilized in the story, the girls are seventeen with about a month until their eighteenth birthday). Leo knows what Goldie is and senses she is the most powerful Grimm he's ever encounter (no explanation or real evidence is given as to why she's the most powerful). However, as he gets closer to her to kill her, he falls in love with her (again, as I understand it, she would be his sister, so more incest?), so we get a little bit of star-crossed lovers plot thread.

 

So know your head and know your heart, sisters. Remember what lies behind you, imagine what lies ahead of you, and make your choice carefully.”

 

Liyana is the sister that remembers the most from when they were younger and visited each other in their dreams in Everwhere and through her, the reader gains a little insight to what is happening in regards to the magical realism. If you ever watched the show Sense 8, there was a bit of that vibe, a group of people living their lives but having these moments of connection with others, confusing at first but worth it if there is a good payoff. The ending of this didn't give me the explanations or payoff I was looking for after making my way through the story. The choosing of the sisters if they are going to go Good or Evil didn't have a lot of drama and the big battle against Wilhelm the father was, for the most part, pretty anticlimactic. While the ending gives a complete picture of what happened, it leaves the story with an ending that made me think “What was the point of it all?”, not satisfactory at all.

 

I would agree with this being labeled as a young adult, the leads are all seventeen/eighteen and while the girls have sex, it is only alluded to and not shown for the most part. There was however, one graphic sex scene and there were numerous trigger warnings (self-harm, the possible incest, sexual assault). The structure of this story, thin world building, lack of payoff, and ending that made it seem not worth it, will have this being more of a disappointment than a story I will fondly revisit.

 

 

 

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review 2020-04-05 17:24
I'll Be Watching You by Leslie A. Kelly
I'll Be Watching You - Leslie Kelly

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.

 

Reece Winchester is an award winning director and when he spies a woman on a security camera feed, he's immediately drawn to her.

Jessica Jensen loves her sister and when she pops into an art gallery to pitch her sister's work and they agree to set-up a meeting, she is ecstatic. When Jess finds out that her sister's art show might all have been an elaborate plan orchestrated by Reece, she is wary but still drawn to him.

As these two try to build a future, their pasts are creeping in more and more.

 

You feel it, too. I know you do,” he growled.

 

The first in the Hollywood Heat series, I'll Be Watching You, was full of intensity, plot threads, and shadowy characters. The beginning was gripping with Reece having his house burned down with arson suspected. The reader learns early that Reece was a popular childhood actor, along with his siblings. His older sister died from a possible suicide when she was sixteen and his twin brother Rowan and younger brother Raine work in law enforcement and security protection now. There is instantly a feeling of darkness and deep hidden secrets about this family's past. Some details are scattered through in the first half but important information is saved until the end, which I think helped keep the mysterious grim tone but also clogged the story with numerous red-herrings.

 

While Reece had a powerful enigmatic presence, Jess held her own in the story with her vibrancy. She has her own complicated background with losing both parents young, entering the foster care system, and eventually being adopted by a loving family that gave her a bestfriend and sister. Jess also has an ex-boyfriend that can't handle that they broke up and has been stalking her, more added danger to the story. Jess is in college, as an aspiring screen writer and gets an offer for an internship at Reece's production company. At this point, she has met him, learned of how he orchestrated it all after seeing her on a security camera, and massively distrusts him because of how the whole thing went down. She also has her college professor telling her not to trust Reece at all, which has her wondering why there is bad blood between Reece and the former director and now professor.

 

Reece Winchester didn't just want to keep her.

He loved her.

 

If you're keeping track, Jess has a stalker ex-boyfriend and a possible shady professor feeding her lies while Reece has a possible crazed fan that burnt down his house and mystery surrounding his sister's death, now let me add Reece's sister's ex-boyfriend who has possible bad blood with Reece and his brothers and Reece and Jess getting shot at and thinking it might be an employee Reece just fired. There are shady character red-herrings galore, probably too much. I think part of the issue is that this is a first in a series and some of these red-herrings and plot points are going to play out in preceding books that star Reece's brothers; their sister's death is the thread that is going to tie this series together. All of this pushed the romance to the sidelines too much for me. There are great glimpses at Jess and Reece's banter and chemistry but ultimately, their relationship felt more lusty and I didn't completely buy their love. Reece also more than toes the line with being too controlling, Jess calling him on it and Reece giving a pretty good apology for how he set-up their first meeting, saves this toeing a bit.

 

There are multiple povs that give the reader insight into characters and help add emotion to the atmosphere but there were also times where it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. I couldn't completely believe in this couple's love but the story and writing was engrossing. If you like dirty secrets and revelations held close to the vest, I'll Be Watching You would be a good introduction to a series that looks to be full of such intrigue.

 

All because of the beautiful stranger he'd spied through a camera. One he would never have seen if not for the fire, pre-dawn flight, and his presence here in the gallery this morning, at the perfect moment.

He couldn't have planned the scene better if he'd tried.

It was as if it were meant to be.

 

 

 

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review 2020-03-21 16:57
Total Bravery by Piper J. Drake
Total Bravery (True Heroes #4) - Piper J. Drake

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.

 

Mali is in Hawaii doing research for a human rights study focusing on sex trafficking, when her principal investigator blows his alert whistle when her and her colleagues are out doing street interviews, she knows she's in trouble. Her former military sister Arin works on the island, so she calls her for help.

Raul has just been hired by Search and Protect Corps, a job his former colleague and friend Arin helped him get. When he gets a call forwarded from Arin's phone because she is currently on a mission and hears her little sister asking for help, he knows he has to act.

Mali and Raul both have trust issues but as they work to find out what happened to Mali's colleagues, the spark between them is getting harder and harder to ignore.

 

Her laughter faded, and her dark brown eyes sparkled with mischief. “Well, if you're going to get in trouble anyway...”

She bent then, leaning a hand on his chest, and pressed her lips to his.

 

Total Bravery, is number four in the True Heroes series but you would have no problem picking this up with no prior knowledge. I've only read the first in the series and I never felt lost. The story brings you into the action right away, which really worked for me in some ways and not in others. Raul's partner is a German Sheppard named Taz and, something that I thought was missing from the first book, the author utilized Taz wonderfully. Even though Mali is running and hiding, the way Taz brings Raul to her started the story off cute and exciting. However, jumping right into the danger that sets up the action plot didn't allow for an introduction to Mali's colleagues. When Mali manages to evade the ominous men in suits that caused the leader of her research group to warn people to run but her colleagues all get kidnapped, I didn't have an emotional stake in their danger or any future reveals pertaining to the characters; nixed a supposed surprise ending thread.

 

A cold nose touched her thigh, and Taz slipped his head under her hand. The big dog pressed against her leg. Raul murmured gently, “We won't leave you.”

 

Mali was the stronger of the two characters because of getting more background information on her. She grew-up protected by her older sister and this caused her to look up to her but also have some fear towards the violence Arin exhibited in front of her. We get a scene between the sisters where Mali learns that Arin thinks of her in a way that Mali was clueless about and bolsters her confidence. I wish we could have gotten more scenes between the two because their uneasy but loving relationship provided great complex emotions. The same with Raul and Arin, I would have liked to see these two friends together. As the new guy on the job, Raul didn't have any connections and he didn't seem to have family or other friends than Arin, this left some of the different layers of his character blank for me.

 

She was doing research because she believed people were worth saving. He'd spent the better part of his last assignment proving to people that there was a hell, and it didn't take demons to send them there.

 

Mali and Raul had a cute start, even though their first kiss happens very quickly and as Mali's character gets revealed more, it made the first kiss seem out of character for her. Their romance felt pushed to the side a bit too much in favor of the plot to find out who and why Mali's colleagues were taken. The villains behind the sex trafficking plot felt a bit whiffed on with their structure and reveal but maybe since they're close to the Search and Protect corps they will show up again. I'm a dog person and I adored the relationship between Taz and Mali and how Taz worked with Raul; Taz made this book for me. I thought the writing was smooth and the author handled the moving parts well, research felt evident in how scenes and characters were conducted, most importantly, it kept me wanting to read but I didn't fully feel the love building between Raul and Mali. Even in the later half of the story Mali was still not thinking a relationship with Raul would be serious. I wish the ending text messages that Raul sends to Mali would have been shown so we could read and feel more of an emotional connection between the two.

 

She stared up at him. “I am so glad you're here.”

He smiled then, slow and incredibly sexy.

 

Each book in the series has a main character paired with a dog (keep hoping for a Rottweiler someday!) and I love that. Trust me, you're going to love Taz, the moment where he shuts a car door during a mission was ridiculously cute and high training impressive. This was the second book in the series I've read and even though I thought the romance relationship between the two could have been better, I enjoyed it even more than the first.

 

 

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