Tag Archives: Contemporary

Review: Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

30 Dec

aftershocksorenson


4 of 5 scoopers

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780373777327

Favorite Lines: “Because we’d both be miserable! I love you Lauren. But I don’t want you to waste a single second of your life on me.” (p. 337, e-galley)

As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers—including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…

Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett’s bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them—if the truth about who he really is doesn’t pull them apart forever….

I thought I was going to pick up Aftershock by Jill Sorenson, read a page and set the book down. I knew I wanted to read it but it was time for bed and I figured I’d read one page to say I started it and finish it later. That didn’t happen. I kept going until the book was finished. Not because of a great romance, but because of the great stories which were being told.

Aftershock tells many stories. From the blurb I thought the main story would be Garrett and Lauren falling in love, but it feels more like a secondary story line to the idea of a group of people trying to survive after a natural disaster. There is also the danger coming from a group of convicts which threatens the survivors. As a story I really liked the book. But I don’t think it’s a good romance.

There is an almost instant attraction between Garrett and Lauren. I totally understand the lust, but I don’t believe in the forever type of love that is supposed to have come from their time together. I want it for them, but there is so much keeping them apart that I don’t believe it’s possible.

Thinking back one of the things I most enjoyed about Aftershock is the characters aren’t perfect by the end of the book. They don’t have this giant epiphany and turn their lives around. They have good moments and they are survivors but they aren’t in perfect situations. A wand is never waved to put a rainbow over their lives so the bad disappears. Sorenson’s characters work with what their given and are very “real” with human failures. I liked knowing that the characters stayed true to that which I was introduced to in the story and at the end were that same individual.

In the end, I’ve got to tell you that as a romance I don’t find Aftershock to be successful. There is a happy ever after, but it is unbelievable. However, as a piece of fiction with tons of action and stories taking place it works. I had to know what was going to happen. I liked it enough to want to continue the series with book two, Freefall which comes out in June 2013. It tells the story of a character we meet in Aftershock but don’t ever really get to know. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Review: Relentless Seduction by Jillian Burns

18 Dec

relentlessseductionburns


3 of 5 scoopers

Relentless Seduction by Jillian Burns
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $5.25; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780373797370
Excerpt

Favorite Line: “Wake up and notice the real world. Everyone looks out for number one. You think she’s worried about you? Hell, no. You saw how she treated you back there.” He pulled the coffeemaker out, began filling  the carafe with water. “That’s the way the world is, Claire. People leave you and you can’t count on anyone but yourself. The sooner you learn that, the easier life gets.” (p. 136, e-galley)

Unrestrained.

Unrelenting.
And completely undressed!
When her best friend disappears during Mardi Gras, microbiologist Claire Brookes is determined to find her. Her only lead is a bar called Once Bitten—a haven for the dark, melancholy and vampire-obsessed. And while Claire generally prefers science nerds over the Gothy children of New Orleans, something about the bar’s tall, dark and delish bartender makes her mouth water….

Bar owner Rafe Moreau is pretty sure that there’s more to Claire than uptightness and frumpy clothes. And as they delve further into the dark, seedy underworld of the Big Easy, Claire and Rafe turn to each other, discovering a sizzling hunger that won’t be satisfied.
But will one taste be enough?
Bein’ bad in the Big Easy…

Relentless Seduction is a romantic suspense which takes the ugly duckling, best friend searching for her missing pal and transforms her into the beautiful, but still brainy, woman who men lust after. Toss in a few creepy characters and a bad boy hero and you’ve got a good image of what takes place in this Harlequin Blaze story.

I had a hard time with Relentless Seduction. I was confused for the first third of the book. I didn’t understand who Rafe was: human, vampire or some other creature. For some reason I thought this was a Harlequin Nocturne which features vampires and shape shifters not posers. That’s not the author’s fault, but it did impact my impression of the book since the blurb makes it sound like a paranormal romance. Once I realized there was no real paranormal aspects, I snapped out of it and began taking Relentless Seduction as a romantic suspense which offers a glimpse of the seedy side of life in New Orleans.

The city is filled with all types of people which was a great way to show how two totally different people could come together and find love. The attraction between Claire and Rafe built quickly. I loved how surprised Rafe felt every time he felt something or reacted positively toward Claire. It was nice to see his confusion about the connection he feels for Claire because it prevented me from just assuming he wanted a booty call. Claire came across as self-conscious and needy half the time. Normally this would irritate me, but for some reason it just felt like…her. Like here’s this lady who normally marches to her own beat trying to stay afloat on the cool kid’s boat. Claire’s unsure in an endearing way.

Relentless Seduction didn’t sweep me off my feet, but I enjoyed watching the bad boy find himself worthy of the good girl. For a moment it was like Sandy’s transformation in Grease. You know where she changes from her good girl clothes into her black leather? That’s the moment when the story began getting interesting for me. Comments like “Purr for me, cher” spiced up the sexy moments as the hero took charge in the bedroom but the best part of Restless Seduction was how author Jillian Burns brought the crazy. If you want to watch the loonies come out from all over pick up a copy of Relentless Seduction.

Review: A Widow’s Guilty Secret by Marie Ferrarella

11 Dec

awidowsguiltysecretferrarella
2 of 5 scoopers

A Widow’s Guilty Secret by Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $5.50; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780373278060
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “It was almost an out-of-body experience for her. She was in awe of her own actions, of the liberties that she was taking. She’d always been faithful to the man she was with, and as Peter’s wife, she’d been faithful to her vows. But Peter was dead and for the first time in a long time, she was not. Nick brought out a wildness in her, and yet, there was this overpowering need for a connection. To life, to love, to herself.  Every kiss seemed to flower into another one, creating equal partners of them even as she and Nick both tottered back and forth between being master and slave, captor and captive, each taking a turn at assuming all four roles.” (p. 235, e-galley)

“Watch over my baby.”

As the mother of a newborn, Suzy Burris is accustomed to sleepless nights. But tonight, she’s waiting up for her husband, Peter, to tell him she wants a divorce. Instead, she learns he’s been murdered. And the sexy detective who’s just delivered the shocking news is asking questions indicating she’s a suspect.

When Detective Nick Jeffries left Houston for the sleepy town of Vengeance, Texas, he hoped to leave behind the city’s grisly homicides. The latest triple murder to hit his desk nixes that idea. Being attracted to the widow of one of the victims is the last thing he needs. But when Suzy and her baby are threatened, he’ll risk all to keep them from a killer’s crosshairs….

I seem to forget that many of the Harlequin individual series like Intrigue, Super Romance, Nocturne, Blaze, Desire, etc…are continuations of the same story. For example, A Widow’s Guilty Secret is part of Harlequin Romantic Suspense Vengeance in Texas series. This irritated me for the same reason it always irritates me. I think I’m getting a complete story in a book, but major threads are left unsolved to be picked up in another book. In this case the next book which picks up the story is A Rancher’s Deadly Affair by Jennifer Morey which comes out with the other February Harlequin Romantic Suspense releases.

So if you’re expecting a glowing review you won’t find it here. That doesn’t mean I disliked the story. There was much to like such as the actual mystery. I wanted to know who killed Sheriff Burris and his pals and the reasoning behind the murders. I guess my problem is that I didn’t feel like the book was a romance or a suspense. The first chapter introduces us to the story’s heroine Suzy Burris as she waits for her husband to come home. She’s decided to divorce him and wants to tell her hubby before she takes their two-month-old infant and leaves. By the end of an info dumped first chapter we find out why Suzy’s marriage is a sham, that her husband was a douche and watch her as the hero informs her of her husband’s death.

That’s a lot, I know. It is supposed to open me to the idea of a brand spanking new widow falling in love with a man she just met, but it didn’t. I was told the heroine never really loved her husband, but I kept wondering how a woman with an infant and a murdered spouse could find lasting love while a killer is on the loose. Suzy’s reactions and thoughts confused me just as much as Nick, the hero and detective investigating the murders, ability to lust after the widow. I didn’t feel romance, love or lust between them. Friendship? Yes.

I guess I felt like the book was like a road traveling across the plains. There was no high or low parts just a steady continuation from point A to B. There were no interesting landmarks to look out the window at, simply asphalt taking the reader on a trip. It wasn’t boring enough to set aside or not finish. I just didn’t see anything spectacular about it. It certainly didn’t feel very suspenseful.

A Widow’s Guilty Secret didn’t do much for me. I liked it less than the average book because I was unable to lose myself in the story. I didn’t believe in the characters, disliked how much of the story was left unfinished and was disappointed in the lack of high and low points in the story. I expected to read a suspense filled romance, but feel like I read a piece of fiction with a forced romance thread.

Review: Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

21 Nov

4 of 5 scoopers

Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
Random House (Nov. 27, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780345520784
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “She didn’t feel invincible, but neither did she feel so vulnerable and frightened. That could be a good thing, or a bad thing. She wasn’t going to do anything reckless out of a sense of power, but it was nice to know she had some knowledge of how to protect herself. Amazing what a gun could do for a girl.” (p. 184, e-galley)

Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.
 
Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman.

Book one in Linda Howard and Linda Jones’ Men from Battle Ridge series is an enjoyable introduction to a calmer way of life. A way that includes unlocked doors, neighbors who all know each other and men who aren’t afraid to use guns when necessary. Running Wild is a contemporary romance with a thread of suspense.

I loved the chemistry between the Zeke and Carlin. Yes, there was an instant attraction, but they didn’t hook up as soon as I thought they were going to. Zeke’s obvious need for help on his ranch had to reach a boiling point to make the story work. That necessity overcame his brain’s refusal to bring a sexy woman home. In addition, the obvious small town needs of a restaurant are not the same as a big town restaurant, which made her acceptance of the situation realistic.

Zeke is a rancher in need of domestic help. He has cowhands, but putting one inside the house is nowhere near what the ranch needs. Obstinately Zeke tries to do without, but there came a time when he could no longer overlook his need. I liked him almost immediately. He isn’t an overwhelming alpha, nor is he a wuss or the average beta. Zeke is a cowboy I’d like to snuggle up to.

Carlin is an everyday woman, placed in a crazy situation. She learns how to adapt and survive. She made me like her. You would think that reading about her domestic doings would be boring, but I think that was part of what made the story work for me. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the for the most part absent villain.

The villain aspect of the story was rather silly. He was supposed to be sinister, but that whole plot line was rather weak. I just didn’t feel like the stalker was evil. He was a threat, but since he was off in the side lines nothing he did felt real. However, I understand that the heroine had to wind up in Battle Ridge, Wyoming, and have a reason to stay there. It wasn’t until the stalker’s appearance toward the end  of the story that I appreciated him at all. There he became the scary man I had hoped to see throughout the book.

Running Wild is an exciting introduction to a new contemporary romance series. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes in the next installment.

Review: Operation: Endgame by Christi Snow

18 Nov


3.5 out of 5 scoopers

Operation: Endgame by Christi Snow
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 2012)
Trade: $11.99; ebook: $2.99
ISBN: 9781477483787

Favorite Lines: “Jake didn’t respond. He just looked at her with pain-filled eyes which broke Cassie’s heart. She reached up and smoothed his brow where he was frowning at her and then slowly reached up to pull his head down to hers. She gently pressed her lips to his.” (p. 181)

It’s been six months.

Six months since Jake Madsen let Chris Robertson die.

Six months since the passion between Jake and Cassie, Chris’ sister, stepped over the line.

But now Cassie’s being stalked and it’s time for Jake to swallow his guilt, grief, and lust so he can save her life, even if it’s a life without him. He owes it to his dead friend and he owes it to Cassie. He’s fallen in love with her, but she doesn’t have to know that for him to keep her safe.

Book one in Christi Snow’s Mission Ends trilogy introduces us to the Robertson siblings. All are military trained and form a tight unit. Operation: Endgame takes us into their world and that of close family friend  Jake Madsen. This is a friends become lovers, contemporary romantic suspense.

What I liked: Being able to see the characters meet as children and see their history made it possible for me to understand the deep bond the characters share. They’d do anything for one another and I definitely believe Jake and Cassie could make it as a couple.

What I disliked: Since the characters were so deeply intertwined I had a hard time with the way others reacted to Cassie’s take on her brother’s death. We are told of Cassie and Chris’s bond over and over, but no one was receptive to the vibes Cassie was putting out. I don’t want to ruin the story so I’ll leave it at that, but it really irritated me.

Villain: I like me some delusional villains, especially when they are stalkers. I didn’t have a hard time picking out the bad guy; I did have issues figuring out why he had fixated on Cassie. I didn’t see the deeper connection until it was all laid out in front of me.

Overall: I didn’t love or hate Operation: Endgame. It was okay. I’m rather ambivalent about reading more. I wouldn’t purposely seek it out or avoid it. If you can get an e-copy, go for it. Otherwise borrow it from the library.

Sweepstakes: Penguin Group

15 Oct

While playing around on a sweepstake website I found this sweep which may be of interest to y’all.

Penguin Group is offering a reader a chance to win a copy of Lauren Dane’s Tart on Facebook until Nov. 2.

 

Giveaways: Oct. 9, 2012

9 Oct

It’s past time I brought y’all a few giveaway links. This time instead of visiting publisher sites I’ve chosen to take it to the blogs. That doesn’t mean that’s all you’ll get, but the majority of the giveaways listed are ones I’ve found at blogs I stalk read.

Fiction Vixen: Enter to win a copy of a Katie Porter book before Oct. 13. Enter to win a copy of Aaron by J.P. Barnaby before Oct. 12.

All Things Urban Fantasy:Enter to win a signed copy of your choice of Diane Duvall’s Immortal Guardian series before Oct. 12. Enter to win a complete paperback set of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series before Oct. 23.

Book Chick City: This blog is giving away several items and all of the giveaways end Oct. 31. Enter to win a copy of Erica Haye’s Revelation. Enter to win one of five copies of Phillipa Bornikova‘s This Case is Gonna Kill Me. Enter to win one of three copies of Niki Valentine’s Possessed. Enter to win a copy of Amanda Bonilla‘s Blood Before Sunrise. Enter to win a copy of a book written by Delilah Dawson.

A Buckeye Girl Reads: Enter to win a copy of Darynda JonesFourth Grave Beneath My Feet before Nov. 6.

A Tale of Many Reviews: Enter to win a copy of Jenna-Lynne Duncan’s Aftermath before Nov. 2. Enter to win an e-ARC of Melissa West‘s Luminosity or Gravity before Oct. 18.

Addicted 2 Heroines: Enter to win one of two sets of Backstage Pass and Rock Hard before Oct. 15.

Babbling About Books, and More: Enter to win a copy of Lori Foster‘s Run the Risk before Oct. 13.

Book Binge: Enter to win an e-copy of Jessica Scott’s Until There Was You before Oct. 13.

Book Lover’s Inc.:Enter to win a $10 store credit at Riptide Publishing before Oct. 14. Enter to win a copy of Alien vs. Alien and a swag bag before Oct. 20. Enter to win a copy of Natalie Anderson‘s Flirting to Win before Oct. 20.

I’m a Reader, Not a Writer: Enter to win a copy of The Guy Next Door and a prize pack before Nov. 2.

Smexy Books: Enter to win Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series before Oct. 29.

Wicked Little Pixie: Enter to win the five book Fever series by Karen Marie Moning before Oct. 12.

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