Review: Wildfire

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

Review: WildfireWildfire (Fire, #3) by Anne Stuart
Series: Fire #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 290
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I really enjoyed this story because there is serious drama and suspense as Sophie and Malcolm are trapped on the island with Sophie’s insane husband. The pacing and characters makes this a very enjoyable book.

THE STORY: Sophie Jordan was an operative with the Committee until she fell in love and married a target of her investigation.  He turned out to be a psychopath and an arms dealer.  Once her husband found out that she had lied to him, he tried to have her killed.  Instead, Sophie was left parallelized and at the mercy of her husband.  Malcolm Gunnison, undercover as an arms dealer, comes to the island in order to finish the job that Sophie botched.  He’s going to discover Sophie’s husband’s new biological weapon and then kill him.  Mal will also kill Sophie if necessary or if she gets in his way.

OPINION: I am a huge fan of Stuart’s Ice series.  Several of those books are on my all time favorites list.  Until this book, the Fire books have been okay but don’t begin to approach the amazing Ice books.  I’m happy to report, however, that WILDFIRE, while not as superlative as the best Ice books, is definitely worthy of being in the same universe.

I really liked Sophie in this story because as the book begins she has been in a deadly battle of wills with her evil husband. I prefer this damaged and dangerous heroine over the sweet innocent.  Sophie made mistakes in her past and has paid for it for years.  Now she is ready to win her freedom and kill her husband, if possible.  She also is immune from handsome dangerous men — or so she believes.  Of course, she find herself reluctantly attracted to the dangerous Mal. The combination of innocence, cynicism, ability to survive and desire to be free makes Sophie’s character one that I desired to follow her journey.

Mal is a nicer Stuart hero than most in these series.  While he begins the book entirely willing to kill Sophie if necessary — or even if she is somewhat inconvenient to him — he quickly begins to fall for her as well.  And although he does some bad things in this book, he is not as dark as some of Stuart’s heroes.  I liked his competence, his determination to do what is necessary and his total commitment to his mission — until, of course, Sophie begins to upset this world.

The story is tense and filled with danger and drama.  There is always the question of the motives of the various characters. I liked that there is almost constant danger with the characters.  From the first page, the characters are in precarious positions and that made the story go quickly.  By having all the action of the book take place on a private island with limited characters and danger all around, the constant sense of peril is preserved.  I liked the story and the development of the characters as they progress.

While not reaching the heights of the best Ice books, this book is the best of the Fire series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The Fire series is about the American branch of the Committee, an anti-terrorism group that uses whatever means necessary, including murder, to stop terrorists.  The series this spins off from, the ICE series, has characters which are mentioned or make appearances in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WILDFIRE is the third book in the Fire series.  This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: The Scoundrel’s Honor

Review: The Scoundrel’s HonorThe Scoundrel's Honor (Sinful Brides, #2) by Christi Caldwell
Series: Sinful Brides #2
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 14th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 354
Goodreads
four-stars

“Somewhere between Ryker Black’s rise from guttersnipe to ruthless owner of the Hell and Sin Club, the world had learned — one did not cross him, interrupt him, or interfere with his dealings.  Ever.”

FINAL DECISION:  A story that has a lot of drama, this book stays on the surface of the emotions of the characters.  That makes what might otherwise be a dark book interesting but not compelling.  I enjoyed the book because of the characters especially the heroine.

THE STORY:  Lady Penelope Tidemore is having her debut and she intends on being proper in a family full of scandals.  Unfortunately, at the first opportunity, Penny ends up in a bigger scandal than anyone else.  She is caught in a compromising situation with Ryker Black, the bastard son of a duke and the owner of a gaming hell.  There is little choice but for Penelope to marry Ryker but is there any hope for this marriage between strangers from such different worlds?

OPINION:  This book takes what might be a dark subject and keeps the pacing and story on a less dramatic level.  The book lacks the depths of a dark, angsty novel with the same subject matter, but it has a sweetness and gentleness to the story that will appeal to readers who want a little bite to their stories without delving into darkness.

In many romance novels, it is the hero whose characters I tend to like more.  Here, I liked Penelope the most in the book.  Here is a woman who is raised among a loving and privileged family.  The worst thing she has to worry about is gossip and scandal about her family. When she is thrust into Ryker’s world, she makes attempts to bring some of her lightness and gentleness into his world.  While he continues to reject her, she is determined to make this new world a better place and bring some of her hominess and family to bear on the new family she gains.

Ryker is a self-made man who struggles with what he had to do to survive. He is guilt ridden and at his core afraid.  He hides all the seething emotions inside himself with order and rules and coldness.  Penelope comes into his life with her constant chatting and her innocent belief that she can make things work out. She is a dreamer who won’t allow the reality of life to sap her of her optimism.  Ryker just doesn’t know how to deal with that.  I liked watching his world as he has constructed it crumble under Penelope’s gentle ruthlessness.

For me the characters were the highlight of this book.  The romance in this book happens incredibly fast and there is so much animosity between these characters at times, it is hard to believe that they so quickly fall for one another.  My second complaint is that this book uses almost exactly the same sequence of events as the first book in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Penelope’s younger sister HAS to get a book someday!

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE SCOUNDREL’S HONOR is the second book in the Sinful Brides series.  The hero in this book is the brother of the heroine in the first book.  The story is self contained and can be read on its own although I recommend reading the first book in order to better understand the characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: The Rogue’s Wager

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

Review: The Rogue’s WagerThe Rogue's Wager (Sinful Brides, #1) by Christi Caldwell
Series: Sinful Brides #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services on October 25th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 338
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  The book started out slow, but as it progressed and the characters revealed more about themselves, I loved how the two of them were similar in unexpected ways.

THE STORY:  Robert Dennington, Marquess of Westfield, has spent years in aimless pursuits after having been betrayed. The heir to a dukedom, Robert allows himself to wallow in drunkenness and vice one night.  On that night, he ends up at the Hell and Sin Club and in the rooms of Helena Banbury, who lives at the gaming hell and is the bookkeeper for the enterprise. That night ends up changing Helena’s night as she is sent to live with her father, a duke. It is difficult for an illegitimate daughter in the aristocratic world but Helena ends up meeting Robert again and making a deal for his pretend courtship of her so that she can discourage other men.

OPINION: This book has a quick opening gambit as Helena and Robert end up in a compromising position, but then the book slows way down when Helena goes to live with her father.  I found much of the first part of the book disjointed and the pacing slow.  There are just too many things going on and the story didn’t really focus on the couple.

Eventually, however, the story began to concentrate on Helena and Robert and that is when I became more engaged with the book.  I did like these characters, especially Helena.  She is a woman who is determined to control her own life despite the efforts of the men in it.  She is intelligent and has made a place for herself in her brother’s gaming hell.

Robert is a hidden sweetheart.  A man who is a romantic at heart but has been burned and thus chosen to cut himself off from his hopes of love. He quickly sees worth in Helena even though she is scarred and illegitimate. His courtship of Helena was my favorite part in the book (from their waltz lessons to his final romantic gesture to win her).

Despite the uneven nature of this book, the characters really pulled out the story in the end. It was their personality, their relationship and their triumph that I cheered.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I love a heroine who is talented in math — and Helena is even better than the men in her life.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE ROGUE’S WAGER is the first book in the Sinful Brides series.  The characters here are connected to prior Caldwell series, but this book is a standalone.  I have not read the prior series but didn’t need to in order to get the full impact of this book.  This book did, however, raise my interest in reading the prior series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: The Edge of Dominance

Review: The Edge of DominanceThe Edge of Dominance (The Doms of Her Life, #4) by Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob, Isabella LaPearl
Series: The Doms of Her Life #4
Published by Amazon Digital Services on September 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 445
Goodreads

FINAL DECISION:  A worthy conclusion to the complicated romance between Raine, Macon and Liam, this book left me with a happy feeling for the three and a burning desire to hear more about their friends.

THE STORY:  In this final chapter of the romance between Raine, Macon and Liam, the three are dealing with the revelation of Raine’s pregnancy and also with Macon’s unresolved feelings after Raine’s abduction in book 3.  This book which has some humor with the arrival of Liam’s parents, mostly deals with a serious threat to the happiness of the three that comes from Macon’s past.

OPINION: This book is just a guilty pleasure crazy ride.  The story goes in directions that really cannot be anticipated from the prior books and I loved it!

The trio is really challenged in this book as external forces threaten their happiness.  Finally, we learn about Macen’s past and it is his past which threatens them.  I thought this was the most emotional that we have seen Macen and I truly felt that with his emotional breakthrough in this book, the trio is on the best footing ever.

This book has a bit of a suspense/crime mystery involved as Macen is in danger of spending most of his life in jail.  The question for the friendly characters is who is out to get him.  This threat to Macen and the accompanying loss of control forces Macen to examine his life and make deep emotional changes.  I loved his struggle in this book (he’s been my favorite in the series).  I also loved how he has to lean on Liam and Raine (whereas previously he has been the steady one for them).

I loved the new characters that we got to meet.  Liam’s parents come to visit and their arrival changes the dynamic of this book.  There are some surprising twists that some readers might have to adjust their thinking for.  I especially loved Liam’s dad.  There is one scene toward the end that might be the biggest hoot in the series!

This book really shows the three developing a true equal relationship.  Throughout the four books in this series, these characters and their relationship has changed and grown.  The relationship between three people is deeply complex and I have really enjoyed the journey these characters have taken.

Of course there is a lot of hot sex, but it is really the emotional connection between these characters that has sustained me through these books.

The series is nicely wrapped up and there is a sweet epilogue.

WORTH MENTIONING: Oh, we need so many sequels for all the friends of the trio!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE EDGE OF DOMINANCE is the fourth and final book in the Doms of Her Life series.  This is a serial about the romance between three characters.  The series should be read in order because it assumes knowledge about the prior books and the books build on one another.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.