Review: Blind Spot

Review: Blind SpotBlind Spot (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #4) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #4
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on August 27, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book is really a coda wrap up of the series after the resolution of the Jasper story line. I liked this one but it was my least favorite of the series because I missed the Evelyn and Amarok relationship here.

THE STORY: Evelyn and Amarok finally look to have their happy ending. Preparing for the birth of their child and their upcoming marriage, the two believe that with the incarceration of Jasper, the serial killer who has stalked Evelyn for years, they can relax. Just at that moment, Evelyn is kidnapped.

OPINION: This book is organized as having three points of view as others in the series: Evelyn, Amarok, and Jasper. The characters are placed in a new situation so their viewpoints are fresh here. I didn’t like this book as much as others in the series because I missed Evelyn being an active driver of the story rather than being the victim. It’s an interesting perspective solving the issues from the “victim” but I didn’t think Evelyn was as compelling here. Also, I missed Evelyn and Amarok together which was my favorite part of the series. Too much time apart that could have used a few extra scenes at the end of the book to resolve. I did like that this book wrapped up a bunch of loose ends from the series. I also thought this book was scary, but not too graphic. I am sorry to see the series end.

WORTH MENTIONING: Amarok was my favorite part of this book. I thought we got more insight into him here than in any of the other books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLIND SPOT is the fourth and final book in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles. This book can be read as a standalone as the story is self-contained but the story is a continuation of plots from the prior books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Lethal Nights

Review: Lethal NightsLethal Nights (Brute Force, #3) by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on November 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series, this one is sexy and action filled. I loved the interaction between Emma and her “Dragon” in this one. Dark and sexy man totally undone by his woman.

THE STORY: Emma Jane Preston is in the midst of a divorce when she meets Ilya Dragonovich who is setting up the security for the safe house. A year later, someone breaks into her home and almost kills her. There was an intense attraction between Emma and Ilya a year ago, but she wasn’t going to get involved with him while she was still married. Now divorced, the two end up spending pressure time together as Ilya tries to figure out who wants to kill the sweet Emma.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book because of the relationship between Emma and her Dragon. There is something really sexy between them made better by Emma’s total acceptance of Ilya despite his past which he believes makes him inappropriate for Emma. There is a bit of suggestions which makes it feel almost like a shifter paranormal but gives it a taming the beast feel that I especially enjoyed.

The action story was interesting and had some dramatic moments which pushed the story along, but for me the relationship between Emma and Ilya was the focus and I enjoyed the fact that they were the center rather than the plot.

Definitely my favorite of the series primarily because of the mashup of various genres which made this feel fresh and interesting between the characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has some slight paranormal elements.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LETHAL NIGHTS is the third book in the Brute Force series. While there are side appearances from characters from the other books, this book can be read as a standalone without a problem.

STAR RATING:I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars

Review: Atticus

Review: AtticusAtticus (Steele Protectors #2) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Steele Protectors #2
Published by Carole Mortimer on April 12, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this story. Atticus and Jenna are a combative couple and there is plenty of angst around the fact that Jenna is pretty much a sister to the other Steele brothers. As the two navigate a new relationship there is also drama over Jenna’s hidden past.

THE STORY: Atticus Steele is the oldest brother and takes his responsibility seriously, especially towards the family’s unofficially adopted daughter Jenna Riley. Atticus’s problem is that he doesn’t see Jenna as a sister. After Jenna’s abduction, Atticus has become even more protective towards Jenna, but Jenna is ready to show Atticus that she doesn’t see him as an older brother but as the man she wants.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable entry in the series. Atticus is definitely an alpha male combining his desire for Jenna with his intense protectiveness. What makes it good is that Jenna is no doormat and is definitely going after the man she wants even as he tries to protect her from everyone — including himself.

Even though the novella is short, the story sets up the characters so that the relationship seems more complex than what we get to see. Because of their existing relationship, their familiarity works well. The book picks up right when their relationship is changing to a romantic one so the quick turn to sex feels just right.

The story is animated by new dangers to Jenna and the revelations regarding her past. That part of the story works but isn’t the focus or purpose of the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella length book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ATTICUS is the second book in the Steele Protectors series. The romance here is self-contained, but the characters overlap and Jenna’s story begins in the first book in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: Devoted to Love

Review: Devoted to LoveDevoted to Love by Shayla Black
Series: Devoted Lovers #2
Published by Berkley Books on July 2, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable story, sexy, sexy times with a suspense/mystery story that kept me interested throughout. I liked these characters and how they reluctantly fall for one another.

THE STORY: Weddings are a natural place for hookups. When sister of the bride, Magnolia West and friend of the groom Josiah Grant agree to a no-commitments, no regrets one night stand, they don’t anticipate that there is something really strong between them. Two people who have been hurt and closed off end up spending time together as there is danger around them. And the more time they spend together, the more Josiah and Maggie can’t imagine being apart.

OPINION: This book begins with one of my favorite romance book situations — romance at someone else’s wedding. Josiah and Maggie intend to take full advantage of the wedding atmosphere and enjoy some no-commitment sex. But then things happen. There is a mysterious murder of a neighbor and some possible danger for Maggie and her family which requires Josiah to stay on in town to help protect her and find out the truth of what is happening. Of course, this allows Josiah and Maggie to get to know one another better — something neither wanted at first.

Maggie is a woman who keeps herself at a distance from others. She has fear and abandonment issues and is just protecting herself. She also has had really bad luck in the romance department. She is a woman who fears connection and yet is starving to be connected to someone and have a happy ever after. She just fears so much something negative happening that she keeps her distance. I loved that we get to see how quickly she learns to trust Josiah. She opens herself up to the possibility of love and is rewarded.

Josiah is a man who has been burned before and has no intention on getting serious with a woman. But then he meets Maggie and she appeals to him on a deep level. They are physical matches and he finds himself loving the challenge she presents. She is smart and stubborn. Josiah is a deeply protective guy and while he respects Maggie, there is no doubt that he intends to be the alpha protector.

The suspense story here is intriguing as I kept wondering what was going on behind the group threatening Maggie’s family. Information is given at a good pace and I was always interested in what was going on in the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: Can I admit that I really want the story of Brea and One-Mile?

CONNECTED BOOKS: DEVOTED TO LOVE is the second book in the Devoted Lovers series. This book has a self-contained romance so it can be read as a standalone but there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in support of preparation of this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Kyle

Review: KyleKyle (Riding Hard #6) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Riding Hard #6
Published by JA/AG on May 9, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a nice romance about two people getting to know one another while living in a small town. I liked both of these characters and their romance felt normal and more real than I expected.

THE STORY: Kyle Malory is recovering from an bull riding injury when a bet with veterinarian Anna Lawler ends up with the two going on a date. As the two spend time together, two people who have known one another for a long time get to know one another for the first time romantically.

OPINION: This is a sweet small town contemporary romance. There is less drama than some of the other books in the series, but I liked how Kyle and Anna get to know one another. There is a great comfort here in the setting and the characters as Kyle and Anna circle around one another in a real way. No serious misunderstandings, no outside forces keeping them apart. Just two people getting to know one another and finding out whether there is something more than sexual attraction between them.

I really liked Anna who is sassy and no pushover. A woman who is constantly underestimated, she is strong and yet not harsh. I liked that she has her values and is willing to assert them but doesn’t demand that other people adhere to her beliefs.

I thought that Kyle was a sucker for her as soon as the two begin to interact. He is kind to her and certainly respects her. In an older fashioned romance, I would say that he is sweet on her from the start.

There is certainly some hot moments, but I really liked the little things between them — like Kyle trying a new food, getting himself dirty to help her, wanting to protect her reputation, Anna’s attack cat.

The book made me smile.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is overlap in the timeline for this book and the next in the series, RAY, so we get to see some of Ray and the woman who catches his interest.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KYLE is the sixth book in the Riding Hard series. The romance here is self-contained and thus the book can be read as a standalone. Characters, however, appear from other books and reading the series gives a reader a better sense of the relationships between all these characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-stars

Review: More Than Tempt You

Review: More Than Tempt YouMore Than Tempt You (More Than Words #5) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #5
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on April 30, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Clint is misguided and Beth is hard to get to know, but these two are so perfect together that all the lies an secrets can’t keep them apart. I enjoyed this book but wanted more grovel for Clint’s lies.

THE STORY: Clint Holmes is looking for revenge after the death of his father. He believes that Bethany Banks, who managed his father’s money, is responsible for the shock and stress that led to his father’s death. He tracks her down in Maui working as a waitress. In order to discover what her involvement is in the theft of his father’s money, Clint pretends to be a bartender new to the island and hides his true identity from Bethany. But she isn’t what he expected. Soon Clint finds himself falling for this woman with secrets.

OPINION: This book is told primarily from Clint’s point of view which is a good thing because otherwise his actions would be pretty terrible. Instead, we get to see his conflicts and thus he is a much more sympathetic character.

If a book has first person, I generally prefer alternating first person narratives so that we can get to know each character. Here Beth and her motivations remain a mystery to readers until she reveals them to Clint. This creates more understanding of Clint’s point of view because the reader is as uncertain as Clint is. (Although readers of the series might have some idea of what has been going on.)

Beth is difficult to get to know — both for the reader and for Clint. She also has some bad stuff in her background (readers of the series won’t be surprised by the horrible person her father is).

There are a lot of interesting situations in this book arising from the central conflict — Clint seeks to expose a liar by becoming one himself. Clint’s struggle of whether he is wrong about Beth or is falling for a bad person and his struggle over his own lies to Beth made his emotionally complex. It’s also a hot book!

I really liked these characters together, and I enjoyed this book with one exception. Clint really should have had to do more “on camera” groveling. But we get some sense that he is truly redeemed by the end of the book so I’m okay with it, but I still wanted more.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the author’s other series may find some Easter eggs here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN TEMPT YOU is the fifth book in the More Than Words series. This book can be read as a standalone although there is a continuing story in the series if you read the books in order and overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an early released eARC of this book via the author to aid in preparation of this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. Additionally, I, myself, purchased an actual ebook of this title once it was released.

four-stars

Review: Repeat

Review: RepeatRepeat by Kylie Scott
Published by Independently Published on January 17, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 302
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a fresh, sexy and emotionally compelling story of a woman who has to find out who she wants to be in the face of a past she can’t remember but surrounded by people who can’t forget. Everything about this story feels different and new.

THE STORY: Clementine Jones wakes from an attack with no memory of herself. Starting again and trying to discover who she was leads her to Ed Larsen, the man she broke up with a month before. Now Clem has to build a new life for herself and finds herself attracted to the man where the past that stands firmly between them and yet is hidden from her.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. The brain injury/amnesia story seemed too far fetched when I read the blurb, but this book really takes the storyline seriously and it works really well. The story is told solely from Clem’s point of view which means that the reader is kept in the dark about much of the past and that works really well too. It keeps the reader as uncertain and questioning as Clem is.

This book ends up an interesting combination of a second chance book and a woman dealing with a man’s past as Ed was hurt by Clem in the past. This combination makes the journey these two take compelling and different. Clem is getting a clean slate in her own mind but can’t escape the past that it all around her. I loved seeing her navigate all the relationships from her prior life.

Ed is adorable. Although he has been hurt, his caring nature is clear every step of this book. I really loved how these two build a different and better relationship. One based on communication and understanding.

Sexy and fresh. This is a quick read that I really enjoyed and will certainly read again.

WORTH MENTIONING: I think I want to read more about the supporting characters in this book specifically Ed’s brothers.

CONNECTED BOOKS: REPEAT is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: At the Pleasure of the President

Review: At the Pleasure of the PresidentAt the Pleasure of the President (The Perfect Gentlemen #5) by Lexi Blake, Shayla Black
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen #5
Published by Black Oak Books on April 9, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 450
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Entirely satisfying conclusion of this series with plenty of appearances by everyone important in the series. Wraps up everything nicely including all the romances you expect and need.

THE STORY: This book picks up immediately after the conclusion of SMOKE AND SIN. The dangers are surrounding the Perfect Gentlemen and their women as the conspiracy around the President Zach Hayes becomes more open. Zach is also torn as the woman he has wanted for years, his Press Secretary Elizabeth Matthews. Liz has been operating as Zach’s de facto First Lady after the murder of his wife on the eve of the election. Just when it seemed like Zach and Liz might give in to the passion between them, Zach has taken steps to protect Liz from those who threaten him. And now it seems like Liz might be involved in the conspiracy against Zach and the United States. Yet Zach can’t stop wanting Liz.

OPINION: This review is difficult to write. Not because this is not a wonderful book — it is — but because almost everything about it could be a spoiler. The fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series finally exposes everything that has been going on. Therefore, almost everything about it gives away plot lines.

The best thing about this book is that it answers all the questions. After it was done, I felt that I finally understood the entirely of the events of the series. The only negative of the book is that the construction of it means that you have to have read the prior books in the series to enjoy this one. AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is packed full and it could be overwhelming for someone who isn’t familiar with the characters, events and plots of what has been happening in the series. The positive is that it richly rewards those who have read the series with a satisfying conclusion.

There is a lot in this book and yes — what you want and expect will be included (even if I don’t want to give anything away here).

Zach and Liz have been circling around one another throughout the series. Zach was born and bred to be president and thus has by circumstances lived a more restrained life than his “brothers in arms”. What I really enjoyed in this book is that Zach begins to break through his lifetime of restraint and really reach out for what he wants in this book. Liz breaks through all his discipline and he can’t be the intellectual and objective person that has been working to fulfill his ambitions. She kinda breaks him in important ways. I loved that Liz, who has been on the side for much of the series, refuses to be sidelined any longer. She insists on being in the forefront along with the other women of the series.

The plot of this book is big and crazy and so much fun. I especially loved that we get to see all the Perfect Gentlemen and their ladies together. This series really has energy when the characters interact. The relationships — both romantic and essentially a family built of friendship are essential here and really make this series worth reading.

This felt like this book was written for the fans because just about everyone and everything I could have wanted was included. I loved this book and really didn’t want it or the series to end, but now I am satisfied that everything ended on a high note.

WORTH MENTIONING: Epilogue my friends!

CONNECTED BOOKS: AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is the fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series. This series must be read in order and it is necessary to read the prior books in the series to enjoy this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: Pray for Silence

Review: Pray for SilencePray for Silence (Kate Burkholder, #2) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #2
Published by Minotaur Books on June 22, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads
five-stars

Everything You Could Want in a Crime Thriller/Mystery

“Some cases are more complicated than others.”

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying mystery combined with continued revelations and painful parallels to Kate’s past and those of her lover John. PRAY FOR SILENCE is a worthy sequel to the first book in this series.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder straddles two worlds. Having grown up Amish, she understands and respects the people, but she also rejected the life and now lives apart from them. Ten months after the horrific events in SWORN TO SILENCE, things have returned to normal except that Kate has an on again off again lover in John Tomasetti and Kate’s own demons seem closer to the surface. Painters Mill is struck by another horrific event as a whole Amish family is brutally murdered. The Platt family had moved to Painters Mill only a year ago and now an entire family is wiped out. Although the family seemed normal, Kate knows that every family can harbor dark secrets.

OPINION: This is one scary book. There are many twists and turns which make is a great mystery. What makes is a great thriller is how haunted Kate is by her own past and how that intertwines and makes more immediate the murders here. Not only is there a difficult murder mystery to solve but readers also get more revelations about Kate’s own past, her shaky mental stability and the way that the past seems to bleed into Kate’s work. More about John’s own problems are revealed as he has weaned himself from his addiction to prescription drugs but instead suffers debilitating anxiety attacks. I loved how these two closed people warily circle one another wanting and fearing a connection between them. The emphasis in this book is always on the crime but it is always shown through the first person narrative of Kate. The personal connection is what makes these crimes especially relevant and keeps them from being intellectual exercises.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some graphic depictions of violence involving murder and rape.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRAY FOR SILENCE is the second book in the Kate Burkholder series. It can be read independent of the first book in the series, but there are ongoing stories that make this book richer and for that the books should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Unforgettable You

Review: Unforgettable YouUnforgettable You (Silver Springs, #5) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #5
Published by MIRA on February 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I liked a lot about this book, but I felt the heroine was a weak personality. It took too long for her to take control of her life from her manipulative mother, by the time she did, I wanted a grander gesture.

THE STORY: Jada Brooks returns to Silver Springs with her daughter after her divorce. Twelve years after a youthful mistake tore apart her world and her family’s, Jada is trying to do penance by caring for her ill mother and her disabled younger brother. What she doesn’t expect is the return to town of Maddox Richardson — the man she loved whose decisions helped destroy her family’s world, and the man who unknowingly left her pregnant. Maddox has returned to Silver Springs as the head of the new girl’s school in town. The decisions that led to the injuries to Jada’s brother are something he still regrets and he doesn’t want to bring any more pain to that family, but he has never been able to forget Jada.

OPINION: First what I liked about this book. There is a great message here about forgiveness and healing. Apart from the issues with the heroine that I discuss below, I would have really loved how these two have a second chance at love and are able to move beyond the past to grab it.

The hero in this book is amazing. Maddox is a kind man who is working hard to make up for one mistake in his life that had serious and lifelong consequences. He has turned his life to something good and yet manages to care for his drug addicted mother and his brother who is getting out of prison. I found him caring and adult and sweet.

Which made the heroine even harder to take at times.

The heroine really annoyed me at times in this book. Her decision to keep the truth about her daughter’s father from her and then state that she is doing it because she worried about her daughter rejecting her if she told the truth made me almost actively dislike her. She should care about what is best for her daughter. And that is the truth — not what makes Jada’s own life more convenient. In fact, Jada seems pretty week as a person. She is not a child; she is thirty years old and has a twelve year old. No matter her guilt over what happened, she doesn’t seem to be able to be concerned about anything other than herself. It’s like she is saying “Oh, please mom, please forgive me. I will sacrifice my life and my daughter’s life if you will just love me more.” I don’t really respect her and it takes too long in this book for her to make any changes. By that time, I just didn’t care anymore. I could only hope that Maddox found out the truth and would be able to show his daughter that people can care about their dysfunctional family and still have limits.

I wanted to like this book more but I needed more from the heroine.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is an Easter Egg for fans of the Evelyn Talbot series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: UNFORGETTABLE YOU is the fifth book in the Silver Springs series. The romance is self-contained and thus this can be read as a standalone. There are some overlapping characters, but they are only background in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars