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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

 

314jb4.5

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review 2014-08-07 00:41
Taking the sensitive hero to a whole new level
Not Without Risk - Suzanne Brockmann

Opening Line: “Emily Marshall was in the bathroom. No not the bathroom the head."

 

Originally published in 1995 this was a pretty good light romantic suspense, nothing remarkable and not one of my favourites but definitely still enjoyable -except maybe for all the crying but I`ll get to that later.

Emily Marshall is a high school teacher in a rougher area of sunny Florida. While on a date with her new wealthy boyfriend she inadvertently discovers that he's quite the entrepreneur; importing and exporting the very drugs that she's seen destroy some of her students. Calling it a night Emily heads to the nearest police station, willing to do anything to keep those drugs from hitting the street.

The police choose to set up a sting, and as much as Emily hates the thought she's going to have to continue to "date" her drug dealing boyfriend for a while. They do however offer up one of their own to protect her, posing as her brother to potentially gain access to the yacht where all the deals seem to be going down. Seems simple enough but that's when things get interesting because wouldn't you just know it Jim Keegan is the officer assigned to go undercover. Jim from seven years ago Jim, Jim that broke her heart, Jim that she's never gotten over.

Detective Keegan is a typical Brockmann hero; all sensitive and tortured, still nursing a broken heart over his sweet Emily and full of remorse over how he left things the morning after they first made love (that was a bad move). He's also hosting some ghosts from the past and doesn't feel that he deserves love, having left Emily to protect her from himself. Initially I liked Jim but about halfway in his character changed and he became so screwed up and emotional that he was just plain embarrassing to read. Brockmann's heroes always cry but Jim managed to take the sensitive man-tears to a whole new level, come to think of it even the bad guy shed a couple within this story.

The suspense is quite good though (a ticking bomb on a boat always assures some fun times) while it does remain more romance than anything else. And the Florida setting was fantastic, a nice bit of escapism (for a snowbird like myself) with loads of action on boats and the clear blue seas of the Gulf of Mexico. Emily plays the bitterness card a little too long for my liking but I guess when your love interest is busy freaking out, running away and crying you've got a right. Cheers
323jb3

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review 2014-07-22 00:39
Emotionally draining, yet ultimately amazing read.
Chase in Shadow - Amy Lane

Opening line: “Did you have fun?" Mercy asked as Chase negotiated the slick Sacramento streets in the dark."

 

 My first from author Amy Lane but not my last for sure, however it may take a while before I’m up to facing this sort of angst again. Yeah Chase In Shadow is heartbreaking and beautiful and damaged and gorgeous and just such a freaking hot mess, I won’t be forgetting him for a long time to come.

As much as I came to love this story I should tell you though that I had a hell of a time getting into it, and quite honestly almost gave up more than once. My initial problem was sorting out the huge cast of characters, most of whom had two names (which wasn’t explained right away) Chase is also Chance, his love interest is Tommy or Tango then we have childhood friends, porn industry friends, directors, fiancées, it took me ages to figure who was who. Compile that with a very unique style of writing that jumps from past to present with real events, dreamed events, desired events and directors cut type filmed events. The dialogue also takes some getting used to because in almost every circumstance Chase includes a “wished” internal response to what he actually says.

“Is there something wrong?” Donnie asked, like he was afraid of the answer.

I fell in love with a guy I met on a gay-for-pay porn set, and he cheated on me when we weren’t really a couple, because I had to leave him for my girlfriend

“Mercy had my dad over last night. It…it didn’t go real fuckin’ well.”


At some point though everything just clicked for me and fell in love with both the story and the uniqueness of the writing. Add to that one of the most emotionally damaged, frustrating, contradictory characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, a heartbreaking romance including love scenes that defy a hotness category and well, Amy Lane‘s got herself a new fan-girl.

Chase “Chance” Summers has it all….from the outside He’s young, popular, good looking and athletic with a beautiful fiancée and supportive friends. Which is just how he planned it. In between studying for his engineering degree, playing baseball and saving for a house Chase has also managed to hide an abusive, messed up childhood behind the red door (in his mind) -which, throughout the course of the book slowly gets opened. His farce of a life seems to going along just fine until he adds one more lie to his already toppling house of cards. Telling himself that it’s for the money and that he’s straight, I mean he’s got a fiancée right? Chase decides to try out the gay porn industry.

Entering “Johnnies” is a revelation because for the first time in his life Chase “Chance” feels free. In fact when he’s with another man he’s flying, but the house of cards is starting to sway. Keeping his alternate life from his girlfriend is almost too easy, which of course just makes him feel like a dick but then again he can hardly contain himself once he starts thinking about who and what he’s going to be doing during the next shoot.

Enter Tommy “Tango” Hallaron, fellow porn actor and the one Chase has been inadvertently waiting for his entire life. They fall fast and hard and Chase’s life trisects, and the house of cards shakes a bit more. His abusive father, his mother’s suicide, his porn life, his straight friends, the fact that he’s really gay, the cheating on both Mercy and Tommy. Secrets upon secrets upon secrets, something’s got to give. Throughout the utter chaos of Chase’s ‘perfect’ life he hates what he’s doing to those he loves but can’t stop, can’t change and he hates himself more and the house of cards falls and the red door opens.

As you’ve assumed this story goes to some very dark places, I mean on page one he’s attempting suicide so you know you’re in for a roller coaster ride. But I never really expected the level of grief, torment and self abuse that we get to see here. Towards the end there’s a huge surprise (that I didn’t see coming) and it helps in what (Thank God) is a well, well earned HEA. Cheers

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review 2014-07-20 23:24
Loved parts, struggled with others but a good Romantic susp and great tortured hero
The Darkest Hour - Maya Banks

Opening Line: " He'd hoped if he drank enough the night before he'd sleep right through today."

Ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly is hangover again, it's been a year since his wife Rachael was killed in a plane crash in South America and he can't seem to move on, the pain as fresh as the day she died. Ethan has cut himself off from his large family and refuses to have anything to do with his brother's top secret business, that of KGI (Kelly Group International) With their expensive military backgrounds the Kelly brother's are essentially guns for hire taking the tricky jobs the government can't and specializing in intelligence recovery and hostage/kidnap victim extractions.

On the anniversary of Rachael's death Ethan receives an unmarked package containing surveillance pictures and maps of a drug cartel base camp in Columbia. The photos show something else too, a woman who looks very much like his late wife. Ethan doesn't think anyone will believe him but of course he now has to try and find her. Good thing most of his family is in the victim recovery business and handy with a gun because he's heading into the jungle and getting his wife back.

But Rachael's not the woman he knew a year ago; forcibly addicted to drugs, and suffering from memory loss and PTSD she may never fully recover and just because he's got her back Stateside doesn't mean she's safe either, the bad guys still want her dead. And then there's that little matter of the divorce papers.

There were parts of this book that I loved and others that I struggled with but all in all this was a really good romantic suspense. Banks writes an awesome tortured hero and although I did get tired of Ethan constantly "dropping to his knees" in front of Rachael and thanking or apologizing to everyone now that he's stopped self medicating, I loved that he was man enough to shed a few tears (that bathtub scene killed me)

One of my biggest issues here however was Rachael's extreme closeness to the brothers; it was just a little too intimate. They were forever enfolding her in their arms and cooing "Baby" and "Sweet Pea" and I guess because I've read some of Banks erotica I kept waiting for her to get it on with at least 3 of the 6 Kelly boys which distracted me from Ethan and Rachael's rekindled love story as well as creating several weird, ick moments. There was also the issue of Rachael having been adopted and brought up by the Kelly parents in the same house as her husband to be. Why was that little bit of info necessary? Wouldn't that kind of make everyone related? Another ick moment.

I also found that there were just too many Kelly brothers to keep track of properly and before long stopped even trying. Except for Garrett and Sam (who I'm sure were just trying to get lucky) they all sort of blended together along with the Kelly parents and a side story involving a runaway girl named Rusty that I can only assume we'll see more from in later books. I'll be continuing on with the series of course :)

 
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review 2014-07-19 02:38
Better than average (although kinda unremarkable) reissued Brockmann
Nowhere to Run: Not Without Risk / A Man to Die For - Suzanne Brockmann

Opening Line: "Emily Marshall was in the bathroom. No, not the bathroom, the head."          

 

Nowhere To Run is a double reissue of two of Brockmann’s earlier titles. Both were originally published in 1995 but stand up pretty well today. There’s nothing super remarkable about either of these stories but it is Brockmann so you know the writings above average and while they’re fairly simple in the plot department they’re also credible, romantic and ultimately satisfying. She always manages to add these little details to her characters that make them more relatable and damn if she doesn’t continually create to die for heroes; Sexy, mysterious, self-sacrificing and always willing to shed a tear in the name of love. I think I’ve fallen for every single one of them. 

Here we get to know police partners Jim Keegan and Felipe Salazar as they protect their potential lady loves from the bad guys and fall hard in the process. The sunny Florida setting here was fantastic, a nice bit of escapism (for a snowbird like myself) with palm fronds, sandy beaches and loads of action on boats and the clear blue seas of the Gulf of Mexico.

First up was NOT WITHOUT RISK (3 stars) which gives us school teacher Emily Marshall and Jim’s story. Lovers 7 years ago, Jim broke Emily’s heart but as it turns out he had his reasons (they always do!) Jim’s never quite gotten over Emily while she’s still in the anger phase. This may have something to do with how he ended things the morning after they first slept together. Anyways, when Emily discovers that her new wealthy boyfriend is importing drugs she goes to the police, willing to do anything to keep them off the streets and away from her students.

Seems simple enough, allowing one of officers to pose as he brother to gain access to the yacht where all the deals seem to be going down. But hello, wouldn’t you just know it Jim, her Jim, Jim from 7 years ago is the one assigned to go undercover. Looks like she’ll finally learn why he left. Gotta admit his reasons surprised me. Jim cries quite a bit here, a little too much and Emily plays the anger card a little long but I enjoyed the suspense in this one, a bomb on a boat always assures some fun times.

The second book is A MAN TO DIE FOR (5 stars) and I loved this one; Carrie Brooks and yummy undercover bad boy Detective Felipe. Carrie is leaving her job at Seaworld when she stumbles upon a gang of bad guys, when it looks like they’re going to do bad things to her their leader locks her in the trunk of a car to protect her. Weeks later she spots “Carlos” at a black tie event and blows his cover with the crime syndicate he’s infiltrating, sending them both on the run. Felipe is super yummy all messed up because he’s been undercover for so long he doesn’t really know who he is anymore. Great secondary characters and a running theme with “Te Amo” which Felipe says to Carrie way too early during a night of unexpected passion and then spends the rest of the book afraid she’ll find out what it means. It was so romantic!

“She pushed his hair back from his face in a gentle, loving caress. It warmed him, and he smiled back at her, whispering words of endearment in Spanish—words he wouldn’t have dared say to her in a language she could understand.” “Te amo. Te adoro.”

Yup with to die for heroes, well written romance and a credible plot as with all of Brockmann’s stories (even these older ones) you can’t go wrong. Cheers.
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