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review 2014-08-13 01:49
Got totally caught up in this; baseball hero, stalker plot, Florida setting
The Blue Paradise - Theo Fenraven

Opening Line: “Devin Carter had five days off thanks to a torn knee ligament, and he needed to get away from everyone and everything he knew, so he threw some clothes and a couple books in a bag, loaded the dog in the car, and drove down the gulf coast of Florida to Naples, where he picked up the Tamiami Trail.”

Wow, I totally got into this one, a real surprise as the story didn’t at all go where I was expecting it to and the love scenes were for the most part fade-to-black (which might explain some of the lower ratings?) Sure we get the usual hand jobs, blow jobs and make out sessions but except for a delicious “edging” scene (yup, learn something new every day in my M/M romances) our hero “makes love” and leaves the rest to our imaginations. Kinda refreshing.

Blue Paradise also gives us a creepy stalker plotline –which I didn’t see coming, and our hero is a professional baseball player. Yum! And wasn’t it fun going behind the scenes with him; locker rooms, agents, groupies etc. Giving me flashes of For Love Of The Game (without Kevin Costner) as he tries to break Barry Bonds homerun record on a failing knee. I should also mention the awesome Florida setting here; so well written that I could actually feel the humidly, smell the salt air and see the swaying palms. Total escapism and I loved it. This was a big hit for me and I’ll definitely be seeking out more from Theo Fenraven.

Professional baseball player Devin Carter is nursing a bad knee, benched by the team doctor he’s hoping a week’s rest in the Florida Keys will be just what his mind and body need to help him break the home run record when he returns for the remainder of the season. With no true direction in mind Devin just grabs his dog and hits the road, eventually checking into a non-descript hotel bungalow on the beach. It’s there at the Blue Paradise that Devin meets Jim, the grandson of the owner and the man he doesn’t know he’s been looking for.

Their affair is short lived but meaningful and when Devin returns to Sarasota they decide to keep it going over the phone. There isn’t any angst or unnecessary drama between Devin and Jim; it’s all very mature (that aspect has been saved up for Jorge.) Devin is still in the closet when it comes to the media and his teammates but otherwise quite secure in his sexuality so even though he’s never fooled around with a teammate before when the opportunity presents itself - and with Jim’s open minded blessing, he forges into unknown and potentially messy territory with the team’s new outfielder. And that’s when things get really interesting.

For a novella I managed to I got way caught up in the stalker aspect of this story and the utter helplessness Devin feels as his life crumbles around him. He can’t even go to his coach or the police without coming out, however as the violence escalates he also runs out of options. The bad guy here is nothing new or special but he still managed to make me hate him while upping the suspense level. My only real complaint here would be Dev and Jim’s initial meeting which just felt a little too easy and convenient but hey what do I know about gay hook ups?

Lastly I have to give a shout out to Rusty the dog who manages to get quite a bit of realistic page time. So much so that when the stalker starts threatening him I actually said to myself (and the author) you better not hurt the dog or I’m gunna stop reading and when I start talking to my books I know it’s good. Cheers



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review 2014-07-30 00:51
Reunited lovers, amnesia and Navy SEAL's this seires opener has it all
Forget Me Not - Marliss Melton

Opening Line:"Gunfire rained down on the four-man SEAL squad, ricocheting off the concrete floor and metal walls of the warehouse in Pyongyang Harbour, North Korea.”

Navy SEAL Gabe Renault has no memory of the last three years. He doesn’t remember the mission that went wrong landing him in a North Korean prison camp and he certainly doesn’t remember having a wife and teenage daughter. And while the scars on his body tell a tale of torture he has no idea what they did to him or if he eventually broke, betraying his country. The doctors tell him he has PTSD and that given time his memories will return, but he knows the brass are also thinking the amnesia may just be a convenient way to cover up his disgrace at giving up government secrets. Meanwhile he’s been placed on disability leave, given a cocktail of drugs, and told to go home to his family, a family he doesn’t remember.

After Gabe was presumed dead Helen Renault did her best to pull the pieces of her and her daughters life back together. It wasn’t really all the that difficult, Gabe had never been home, always off on some mission and then even when he was he was he’d been distant, secretive and abrupt. Now she’s standing on her own two feet, with friends, a job she loves and a life. When the call comes in telling her Gabe is alive Helen decides that she’ll help him through his recovery but then she wants a divorce. What she hadn’t counted on was that the man returning is nothing like the Gabe she remembers, this is a man she could lose her heart to and spend the rest of her life loving.

With Gabe’s memories coming back Helen puts her heart under lock and key fearing it will only be a matter of time before the “old Gabe” re-emerges and breaks it again. Of course the men trying to kill him and his returning knowledge of government treason may put an end to their second chance at love before it begins anyways.

This is the first book from Marliss Melton’s SEAL team 12 series and also my first from this author. As a whole this was a great read, kinda Suzanne Brockmann-ish as it's more romantic then suspenseful but well written with a slowly unravelling storyline, lots of great secondary characters and a reunited lovers theme which is one of my fav’s. I did have a problem with some of the dialogue being stilted or age inappropriate, as was the case with the teenage daughter and unfortunately the ending went off into silly land but I will definitely be continuing on with the series. Hoo-yah, another SEAL team to get to know. 

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review 2014-06-23 01:54
Excellent beginning
Fully Engaged (Wingmen Warriors, #12) - Catherine Mann

Opening Line: “Lieutenant Nola Seabrook accepted that she could face death on Monday. But for the weekend she intended to celebrate life to the fullest.”


 I’ve come to the conclusion with Catherine Mann (in particular with her Wingman Warrior series) that while she writes really excellent opening chapters for some reason the rest of the book tends to fall into very forgettable mediocre-ville. As was the case here, within a couple of pages I was thinking this is going to be an amazing read; exciting, sexy and immediately drawing me into the characters lives so that I’m left super curious about their upcoming story. Unfortunately though as things progress Mann struggles to keep that same level of intensity going.

Fully Engaged is still a good read, I’d give it 3.5 stars (5 for the opening chapters) I enjoyed this couple and appreciated reading a romance where both the H/h are recovering from injuries. There’s not many romances out there that have the hero on crutches for the entire read (while still kicking ass) and I can’t think of any I’ve read that deals with the aftermath of a breast cancer survivor. So kudos to Mann for including the C topic without making it a public service announcement. These were just two realistically damaged characters who found each other and compared scars (damn that was a touching scene)

As I said the first couple of chapters here are great. We meet Pararescueman Rick Demassi in an Officers club bar. He’s engaged in a push-up contest, like some kind of training scene out of a Rocky movie, doing them one-handed with a waitress on his back when Air Force pilot Nola Seabrook catches his eye. Rick is exactly what Nola is looking for tonight, a perfect male specimen; strong, virile and most importantly healthy although it takes a while for us to learn why that’s important. Before long our couple is banging away and then just like that Nola is gone.

We then travel 5 years ahead, Rick is in a medical centre learning to walk again after suffering career ending injuries during hurricane Katrina recovery. Nola is ticking names off a list, a list of all the people she’s hurt so that she can close the door on the recovery part of her cancer journey. And while their initial meeting is terse, neither can deny the attraction is still there even though they’re both very different people now.

As it turns out Nola also has a stalker (crazy huh) and when her car blows up in the hospital parking lot Rick steps up to act as her bodyguard. (This made little sense to me because the man can barely walk and still needs a nurse but whatever it got them in close quarters and gave us a stalker/bodyguard storyline.) I should mention that Rick’s daughter also plays a key part in this story and that divorce is also a hot topic. These matters are both handled realistically whereas the whole stalker storyline is pretty silly. Cheers

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review 2014-06-22 01:53
Christian loses control and Ana takes it.
Fifty Shades Freed - E.L. James

Opening Line: “I stare up through gaps in the sea-grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue, with a contented sigh.”


Well I don’t know what all the haters are on about but I loved this final book in the Fifty Shades trilogy. In fact for me each book just got better, with “Freed” becoming my favourite. Granted I had a few issues, like the constant Mr. Grey/Mrs. Grey every single time they addressed each other, which was all cute and newlywedish at first and then just proceeded to drive me crazy. But I still had trouble putting this one down; I'm such a sucker when it comes to the tortured hero so I understood my falling for Christian but Ana surprised me and I came to appreciate her as she grew a backbone and learned how to handle her man and his many moods.

Plus there’s an actual story here; I mean stuff happens other than in the playroom. We get car chases, assorted stalkers, blips, kidnappings, bar fights, car accidents, drunk Christian, out of control Christian, raging Christian, playful Christian, needy fucked up Christian it was just such an all-out emotional journey and managed to leave me shocked several times. I also found it fascinating to watch Christian lose control and for Ana take it, not what I was expecting as all his shades finally made sense.

Ana’s hilarious inner goddess is still with us and I was happy to see the inclusion of more sexy, fun, playful or in this case argumentative e-mails as Ana tries to stand her ground against a very controlling and used to being in charge Christian. These things were part of what separated Fifty from the Twilight universe for me and also why James’ writing grew on me since that first book which felt immature, you could really hear her voice here and I now can’t wait to see what she writes next.

I also loved the ending which finally “freed” Christian and left me in a very happy place; it just felt so complete, like okay you guys are going to make it, thanks for the journey. Of course this could have something to do with the many assorted epilogues we get, my favourite being the inclusion of Christian’s Midnight Sun-ish POV first meeting of Ana. As a friend said, I would read the whole series again from inside his head -as fucked up as it might be. Laters.

“I need control Ana. Like I need you. It’s the only way I can function. I can’t let go of it. I’ve tried… And yet, with you…” He shakes his head in exasperation. I swallow. This is the heart of the dilemma -his need for control and his need for me. I refuse to believe these are mutually exclusive.”

“Do you want a drink?” I ask super sweetly. “No thanks” he says not taking his eyes off me, and I know that he’s helpless. He does not know what to do with me. It’s comical on one level and tragic on another.”
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review 2014-06-15 01:57
Love those scarred and tortured heroes
She Tempts the Duke - Lorraine Heath

Opening Line: “Tonight was the night they would die”


Sebastian Easton has spent the last 12 years striving towards one goal, to take back his rightful title as the 8th Duke of Keswick, stolen from him by his murderous and power hungry uncle. Upon the death of their father he and his two brothers had been locked in a tower awaiting certain death until his friend Mary daringly set them free.

The three boys then ran for their lives, spending the next decade apart, with one of the brothers going to sea and another forced to a life on the streets. Sebastian became a soldier and went to war eventually earning enough to buy his commission but not before becoming wounded in battle. All three of the “lost lords of Pembrook” have returned to London hardened and changed men but Sebastian's scars mark him the greatest. He is of single minded focus to reclaim his title and avenge their stolen youth.

This was another solid story from Lorraine Heath. It wasn’t my favourite but still a fantastic read. I particularity liked the back story and set up for this trilogy and she has done a great job of showing (teasing) us with just enough of the remaining two brothers (Rafe & Tristian) to hook me into continuing on. I am very intrigued.

I will admit that once the fascinating backstory was put into place the actually story & romance part ended up being just okay. It seemed to stall out a bit for me in the middle and took ages for out H/h to get together. Ultimately it was also quite predictable with the bad guy uncle.

I do have a real weakness for the scarred and tortured heroes though and Sebastian suffers as much emotionally as he does from his battle wounds. He bears the blame for not being able to protect his bothers and for their rough orphan upbringings. And (because this is a historical romance) he also believes himself to be a monster, unworthy of love due to how he looks. (Missing eye and scars down his face, neck, chest)

This brings us to Mary, who of course sees past his scars. Loyal, fiery and at the time of Sebastian's return, also betrothed to another. This proves to be somewhat of an issue because they are finding it difficult to stay apart which in turn threatens to destroy Mary's reputation and engagement. Even after they fall for each other Sebastian remains closed off emotionally, obsessed with righting Pembrook and refusing to see what is right in front of him...love. Cheers

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