Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega #4) by Patricia Briggs

Praised as “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal,"* the Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way...

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

What starts as a trip to find a horse for Anna’s birthday and spend time with an old friend who Charles has been avoiding, turns into a hunt for a Fae who’s stealing kids and replacing them with look-alikes who are spelled to cause devastation and even murder. It’s a case that brings in many supporting characters from Charles and Anna, to the FBI and Cantrip agents, to the local werewolf pack, and Charles’s long time friends. It takes all of them, including a few humans to try and figure out how to stop a being that’s been unstoppable for way too many years.

There is just something about Charles and Anna and the way Patricia Briggs paints their story that sucks me right in. The storytelling really stood out for me, because we have the journey and growth of Charles and Anna’s relationship, but what’s captivating are the numerous pictures that Briggs brings to life, whether it’s details about horses and showing them, details about Charles changing a human and the brutal reality of the aftermath for the new wolf, or setting the scene for a bloody fight with a Fae who can best any supernatural creature. There’s something almost mesmerizing about the way these scenes read. Honestly, I’m not a horse person, I’ve never ridden, couldn’t tell you one type of horse from another, but I found myself not only interested in the detail that’s given to the various horse scenes, but drawn into it and not only in the moments we have with Anna trying to find the right horse for her, but in how all of this detail will play a larger role in the bigger picture, which is absolutely does. There’s a flow to the story that makes it nearly impossible to put the book down.

Charles and Anna, now married, are still settling into their lives. Charles and his demons are the major relationship topic in Dead Heat. First, he’s been avoiding his human best friend for years, only to now find that his friend Joseph is dying. Joseph refuses to be turned and it’s caused tension between Charles and Joseph’s family, namely his father who is a wolf and Joseph’s wife who once rejected Charles before turning to Joseph and marrying him instead. As if this wasn’t enough emotionally for him to go through, there’s Anna’s desire to have children and trying to find viable ways to make this happen. Charles is against it for many reasons, he’s worried for Anna’s life as his own mother died giving birth to him, he’s worried about the target that will be put on his children because of his place in the pack and werewolves being more and more known throughout the world. He’s got the weight of a lot of worries on his shoulders and in very Charles-like fashion, he keeps much of it inside; which is hard to do now that he and Anna are so tightly connected. She eventually works through what he’s thinking but it’s just one of many examples of how much things weigh on him and how he sees himself. Anna, in her own way of being the Omega but really of just being his mate, helps him in many ways.

Anna has grown so much from the scared, beaten down woman we first met to the Omega that she is now. She’s still learning every day about herself and the world she’s living in and more than anything else, I love seeing her effect on Charles. She makes sure he knows what he means to not only her but the safety that others feel around him. It’s little moments like that between them that have them being one of my favorite couples on page.

Charles and Anna spend the entire book travelling so we don’t have but a few lines from the Marrok, and other members of their pack are absent as well. But the new characters we do meet are interesting and engaging and I never felt like anything was missing from the story. Charles does turn a human fairly early on and we do get to see some of the effects of that. I’d love to get a short story update on this person and how they and their family are adapting to this huge change. Plus, the family was so interesting it’d be nice to revisit them at some point.

The Fae that Charles and Anna are hunting is a nasty piece of work and made for a compelling suspense storyline. There are some gruesome findings, made even more so because we’re dealing with stolen children. With a few twists and turns at the end, the culmination of how things are resolved is both sad but perfectly done. And yes, I may have shed a tear or two with how things played out.

Brigg’s storytelling comes alive in her Alpha and Omega series. Sure, at the heart of the series are Charles and Anna, who’s relationship I love seeing progress with each new book. But the series picture Briggs paints is wide and she makes every detail count. Dead Heat will draw you in with the Fae mystery but the overall story from the complex characters, whether they be part of a pack or human, to Charles and Anna and their moments both together and their interactions with others will keep you captivated and turning the pages faster and faster. If you’re new to this series, do yourself a huge favor and start at the beginning. It’s one of my favorite series and you’ll find Charles and Anna and their complex world to be very hard to forget.
 

Rating: A

Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Ace
Patricia Briggs: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Slow Burn by (Driven #5) K. Bromberg

From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Driven series.

One Night. That's all it was supposed to be.

Reeling from the sudden loss of her sister, Haddie Montgomery has sworn off relationships. All she wanted from Beckett Daniels was a sexy distraction to help her escape her pain for just a little while....There weren’t supposed to be any strings attached—so why can’t she shake the memory of that unforgettable night from her thoughts? Or the taste of his kiss from her lips?

No matter how hard Haddie tries to forget about him, Becks relentlessly tries to prove that she should start living for today. But she is determined to avoid romantic commitment, and she can always use her ex-boyfriend’s reappearance to help snuff out the slow burn within her that Becks has sparked....

Or will fate force her to realize that this kind of connection doesn’t come along very often and a chance at love is worth the risk?

I’m going to keep this short and sweet: I couldn’t stand the heroine, Haddie, for the first part of the book. I found her to be so unlikable, so irritating, so frustrating, you name I felt it and none of it was good. She was frankly a bitch more times than not to the people in her life, especially Beckett. She is dealing with a lot in her personal life, don’t get me wrong. She has so much pain, stress, anger, grief all swirling in her head but it’s no excuse for being a bitch. And I couldn’t forgive her for how she acted and treated people through much of the story.

Beckett, on the flip side, was an enjoyable hero. He puts up with way more than any guy should when it comes to Haddie. Their no strings, one night doesn’t fly with him. He gets tired of her strings and wants to come at her with rope (heh heh). He wants more and he tries to fight for it and convince Haddie to give them a shot at being a “we” but that doesn’t turn out so well at first. She runs, he chases until he just can’t do it anymore and then it comes down to Haddie making the effort to change her life and attitude and be brave enough to grab hold of something that just might make her happy.

For Haddie, cancer is a very real, very scary reality in her life. Her mother had breast cancer twice, her sister died from it, now Haddie is in the middle of a scare of her own. I was a little taken aback by this storyline, honestly I had no idea it was coming (I haven’t read the earlier books in this series so I have no clue if this was eluded to or not). And while yes, cancer sucks and it’s a real fight for people, but when I read a romance book, I like to be taken away from real life. Haddie and breast cancer is a very heavy storyline, very emotional and the tone of the book is very dark because of it. I like to escape reality with my romance books, not have it smack me in the face. That’s not to say the writing about this difficult topic wasn’t well done, it really hit me during the last quarter of the book when finally, FINALLY, Haddie turns a corner and becomes the heroine I wish she would have been earlier in the story. Yeah yeah, she needed to go through the dark to get to that point, but I really do think I’d have been pulled into her personal struggle a lot faster had she started to be more likable earlier in the book.

There’s sort of a side storyline with Haddie’s ex, Dante who’s crashing at her place for much of the story. He’s an asshat, that’s putting it mildly and I’m not sure why he was even included. It ended up being a plot distraction that did nothing really for the story other than just another reason for me to snarl at Haddie and her behavior.

I’m giving this story a C-, but really the book gets two ratings from me. The first 70% gets a D. I couldn’t stand Haddie and truth be told I thought about DNF’ing the story more times than not. But the last part of the story felt like the payoff I was hoping would come earlier and gets a solid B+. The ending is emotional, intense and it felt like we got to see a completely different Haddie and Ryan on page, as they both deal with Haddie’s illness and what it means for their future.


Rating: C-

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Signet
K. Bromberg: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Soulbound by Kristen Callihan Blog Tour: Excerpt & Giveaway!


Soulbound, book 6 in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series, releases tomorrow and it’s one of my favorite reads (you can read my review here). This series is one of the best out there, combining paranormal, historical, with some elements of steampunk, and of course plenty of romance. All the Darkest London books are must reads, especially if you’re looking for a unique world that Callihan makes come to life on page. In Soulbound, we have a very tortured hero (my favorite kind!), Adam and his heroine Eliza. Both characters have suffered and both need each other to survive. They also start out on opposite ends of the relationship spectrum: Adam is convinced Eliza is his soulmate, but Eliza wants nothing to do with him. Let the fun begin!

Below, check out an excerpt from Soulbound and be sure to enter the giveaway, put on by Grand Central Publishing. And make sure to pick up your copy of Soulbound, out everywhere tomorrow!



Eliza sat back on her heels, while Adam merely stared at her as though he had all the time in the world. “Fine,” she said. “Three weeks. I free you and you help me.” She gave him a warning look. “I’ll need your word that you will help me, that this” she waved her hand between them, “isn’t merely a way to trick me into freeing you.”

“This business was your idea, woman,” he said with affront.

“Nevertheless, I’ll need your word.”

The demon’s nostrils flared with a sharp exhalation. “My word then.” Eliza did not look away from him, and he glared back in obvious exasperation. “What now?”

“I’m merely considering if I ought to trust your word,” she said.

A low growl rumbled in his chest as he bared his teeth. “I keep my word, whether I want to or not. My word is my bond. Honor, Miss May. Unlike you, I have it.”

“How dare you—”

“How dare you?” He craned forward, the muscles along his shoulders bunching. “Not so long ago you broke your promise of fealty. To me!”

“Oh, yes, how quick you are to remind me.” Eliza leaned close, grinding her teeth to keep in a shout. “You enjoy being quick, don’t you?”

His thick, dark brows furrowed. “What in the bloody blazes are you talking about?”

“You gave me all of ten seconds to make a choice.” Eliza’s fists ached from clenching them. “And what a choice. I was dead, my body sliced open, my blood on the ground. I would have done anything,” she thumped her fist to her chest, “to get back my life.”

“So that makes it better?” he snapped back in outrage. “Desperation gives you leave to go back on your word?”

“No. That is not what I meant.”

“Then you agree that you bloody well have no honor—”

“You never explained what was involved. You never said I’d be chained to you, like some animal, for the rest of my days,” Eliza shouted. “I was told I would be a GIM. I was ready to serve you in that manner. You knew full well that’s what I believed. If anything, you swindled me!”

All at once, he sagged, though he still eyed her with resentment and distaste. Well, she had a healthy helping of those feelings for him too.

“Tick, tock, Eliza,” she mimicked. “You rushed me because you didn’t want me to think things over.”

When he broke eye contact, his hard jaw twitched.

“I’m correct, aren’t I?” Ire and a red rage surged up within her. “And you have the brass to sit on your high horse and talk of honor. Well let me tell you something, demon. There is little honor in forcing a person’s hand. Or using your power to coerce those weaker than you.”

A black scowl twisted the demon’s face as he glared at some distant point. “Fine. May I continue, or have you more complaints to heap upon my head?”

“Please do continue,” Eliza granted.

His golden gaze flicked back to her. “I want to kiss you.”

“No.” The word burst out of her with force. “Absolutely not.”

Unfazed, Adam shrugged. “Unless you have something to offer in exchange for your freedom, Mellan and Mab will, as you say, merely hunt us down, and you’ll be back to where you started.”

“Then I shall find out what he wants.” Eliza straightened her back. She could do that. She must. Like hell was she going to kiss this demon.

Adam simply gave her a slow, wicked half-smile. “Fortunately for you, lass, I already know what he wants. What they both want. More than controlling you. More than torturing me, even.”

“Then why in blazes haven’t you used it to secure your own freedom?” Eliza blurted out.

“I’m only alive because they cannot break me into revealing where this item might be.” The belligerence burning in his eyes was gone in a blink, replaced by a look of pure cunning. “However, I might be persuaded to help you use the knowledge. All I require is— ”

“Fine,” she snapped, irritation getting the best of her. “I’ll kiss you.”

Silence fell, and Adam stared at her with those eyes of his. Devil’s eyes. Eyes that made a woman forget herself. Heat rose up over her breasts and crawled along the back of her neck. Eliza grasped her skirts, her fingers twitching. She would kiss him. Kiss a man who had brought her nothing but irritation. Maybe she’d bite him to boot.

His chest, gleaming with sweat, rose and fell in a soft pattern. A bead of perspiration broke free from the top of his shoulder and ran down along the firm rise of his pectoral muscles, straight toward the dark nub of his nipple. All this time arguing with him, she’d forgotten his state of undress. Not so now. She’d have to press up against those hard muscles, touch his skin. Eliza wrenched her gaze back to his face, and his sinful lips curled in a knowing smile.

“You know,” he said casually, “I believe I shall pass for the moment. I’d rather it be when you aren’t wearing such a sour face. Kills a bloke’s ardor, you realize.”

Eliza blinked. And then his meaning hit her. “Why you…rutting…cheap, trickster…”

He laughed, a flash of even teeth. “Come now, Eliza, fret not.” He stopped then, that obnoxious smile growing and heating with promise. “I’ll take that kiss soon enough.”

She rose to her feet in a rustle of skirts. “And I’ll be sure to bite that wicked tongue when you do!”

She marched out of the cell, slamming it behind her, as he began to laugh again. Bastard. She might just leave him here to rot after all. His laughing taunt echoed through the dark. “Now that I know tongues are involved, I’ll be sure to collect.”



Once two souls are joined . . .

When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled-and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone…

Their hearts will beat together forever

No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted-by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken…

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About Kristen Callihan: Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she'd rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewers' Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Book Reviews' Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher's Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading. 





Giveaway time! Enter below for your chance to win 1 of 5 complete Darkest London series sets! More details are in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Soulbound (Darkest London #6) by Kristen Callihan

Once two souls are joined...

When Adam's soul mate rejected him, there was more at stake than his heart. After seven hundred years of searching, his true match would have ended the curse that keeps his spirit in chains. But beautiful, stubborn Eliza May fled—and now Adam is doomed to an eternity of anguish, his only hope for salvation gone...

Their hearts will beat together forever...

No matter how devilishly irresistible Adam was, Eliza couldn't stand the thought of relinquishing her freedom forever. So she escaped. But she soon discovers she is being hunted—by someone far more dangerous. The only man who can help is the one man she vowed never to see again. Now Adam's kindness is an unexpected refuge, and Eliza finds that some vows are made to be broken...
A smile curled over her [Eliza] lips as she nipped his earlobe, loving how he shuddered (…) She arched into the touch. “Maybe you won’t enjoy me.”

It was Adam’s turn to grin, though his attention was elsewhere, his tongue tracing down her neck. “Eliza, love, I plan to enjoy the hell out of you.”
Adam, after being cursed hundreds of years ago, became the creator of GIM (Ghosts in the Machine) – taking souls, giving them a mechanical heart and another chance at life through immortality. He’s been searching for hundreds of years for his soul mate, that one person who truly has a part of his soul within them. His curse began because an evil fae who tried to steal his soul for herself. An angel interfered and put a piece of Adam’s soul in another being, but it’s up to Adam to find her. And after 700+ years he finally does and gets a bit possessive. For all these years he lost the ability to feel anything. That on top of a vow of celibacy he took when he was human before the curse as he was a Knight of the Templars, gives us a 700 year old, unfeeling virgin. Until he sees the soul of Eliza May and knows instantly that she’s his soulmate.

Eliza May was gutted in an ally, not a fine way to go, but she’s knocking on death’s doorstep. Two female GIM’s find her spirit and call to Adam. Eliza doesn’t want to die and takes Adam up on his offer to make her a GIM, only he ties her to him, literally. He doesn’t want to let his soulmate out of his sight, but it only causes Eliza to feel enslaved and she refuses to talk to him. At all. To make a long recap a bit shorter, a time comes when Eliza is freed, but Adam is now being held captive by the same fae that cursed him all those years ago. He’s being tortured and brutalized and when Eliza finds him, she starts to realize that the fae she’s living with and related to, are not all that they seem. She forms an uneasy alliance with Adam and she helps him escape, each of them needing the other to survive what’s to come. Adam is now determined to find out if he can ever get Eliza to give him a second chance.

What a rollercoaster ride. I’ve been looking forward to Adam’s story for a long time and it delivers in many ways. To see the Adam we’ve come to know from previous books, badass leader of the GIM, almost untouchable in a way, reduced to a prisoner, beaten and broken down, it’s devastating what he goes through. But he still keeps that edge and cocky attitude even when he’s unable to even stand on his own two legs. There’s something about seeing a hero being beaten down and yet still pull himself back together and fight for the chance to feel love, something he’s never, ever had that gets me every time. Adam can hardly bring himself to hope that Eliza might someday come to care about him but regardless of her feelings, he’ll do anything to keep her safe.


He [Adam] shook his head. “Better not to allow yourself to let those feelings in, when there is no chance of releasing them. I channeled it into aggression, used it in battle. I’ve never known the pleasures of a woman. Never allowed sin to rule me.”

“Oh…” Heat, swift and sure, rushed through her limbs. A virgin. He was a virgin. Oh, my silver stars. He’d confessed without shame but the look in his eyes, the hot need that darkened his eyes, told their own story. Seven-hundred odd years this man had gone without release. He was through with waiting. Should Eliza offer, he’d take her without pause.


Eliza didn’t have an easy life and being killed didn’t make things any better. But now, her eyes are opening up to a world she’s very unfamiliar with and she’s having a hard time figuring out who to trust. She’s had such negative feelings toward Adam for so long, that seeing this different side to him, more man than larger than life leader of the GIM as she had only known him before, makes her start to open up to him, very slowly. She takes a long time to come to trust him again, he does have a lot to prove to her and their relationship just builds and builds until, when finally the payoff comes, it’s so sweet, so sexy and so perfect for them both. They have a hate-to-love relationship and part of the fun of seeing these two dislike (at least on Eliza’s part) each other is getting their banter. The story had everything that hooks me in, humor, snappy dialogue, characters that I cared about, tons of action, big, bad enemies that need to be taken care of, and most of all a relationship and romance that I fell in love with.

In addition to ALL of various characters (yes we get to see plenty of past characters come across the page) that are entwined within this story, we learn some very important details about the GIM and their very real, very important connection to Adam and how this will ultimately force the direction that his life takes. We also get a very nice buildup for St. John Evernight’s (or Sin as he’s called) story. This poor guy (Kristen Callihan sure loves to torture her heroes!) goes through so much, he finds a bit of redemption, but his life is forever changed and I can’t wait to see how things play out for him, his family and the lady he’s secretly in love with. It’s already a bit bittersweet for this reader as Sin’s book will close out the full length books in this series.

I’ve loved the Darkest London books since the moment I opened up Firelight, and it remains one of the few series where each book is as good if not better than the previous. Every installment has drawn me in, the characters are unforgettable and Adam and Eliza are no exception. For as much as I enjoyed and loved to get to know Eliza, this really felt like Adam’s journey and I loved everything about this hero. For fast paced action, nasty bad guys, and a romantic love story, you must read Soulbound.

Rating: A

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Forever
Kristen Callihan: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review*

 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

First Time in Forever (Puffin Island #1) by Sarah Morgan

Windswept, isolated and ruggedly beautiful, Puffin Island is a haven for day-trippers and daydreamers alike. But this charming community has a way of bringing people together in the most unexpected ways…

It's been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece Lizzie to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzie and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of "just breathe" pep talks she's given herself. And that's before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows all about secrets. And it's clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won't let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he's going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else's hands?

If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you’ll already know I’m a sucker when it comes to sweet small town, or island in this case, stories, and that’s what we get with this new Puffin Island series. Ryan, a former journalist, moved back to the island after a tragic accident while he was on assignment. He was injured and the accident killed his friend and co-worker. After a childhood cut short by his parent’s deaths, he was forced to grow up fast to help his Grandmother care for his three younger siblings. All of these experiences has led him to vow to live the single life up and Ryan just doesn’t see a future of marriage and kids as being the thing for him.

Emily is hiding out from the press after taking over as guardian for her 6 year old niece, a little girl she met for the first time after Emily’s famous half-sister was killed. The press is out to get the story and Emily wants to hide with Lizzy and protect her from any and everything. This fierce, overprotective desire comes from a tragic accident in Emily’s past (the hero and heroine both were dealt some bad past blows!) that’s left her terrified of the sea and reluctant to form any close relationships. Initially, she keeps Lizzy at arms length, but that doesn’t last long and she ends up falling in love with this sweet little girl who never really knew her mom and just wants a safe place to live.

I enjoyed the setup for this series and I love the small town feel. I really liked getting to know Emily and learning more about her two best friends. Same with Ryan, we meet some of his friends and his sister, and all I kept thinking was, yes, more characters for future books! The island setting, the people, the charm, it’s all there and I liked it all as the backdrop for Emily and Ryan’s story.

Where the book lost me a bit was unfortunately Emily and Ryan. Their romance just didn’t do it for me. For much of the book, Ryan has no interest in any type of relationship. Not one with Emily and not one with Lizzy and even as he’s obviously getting closer to them, he still insists that it’s nothing more than a good time. So by the time the story started to wrap up, it felt like Ryan’s feelings did a really fast 180 and it wasn’t enough for me to buy it.

The steamy factor was absent. Sure, Ryan and Emily have some good times, I just wanted more. More sex, more kissing, more romance, it read overall a bit vanilla. Had there been more romance between them, then maybe I could have gotten on board with believing in their relationship.

I’ll be coming back to Puffin Island. I’m intrigued by the characters (lots of single characters, some with shared histories) and interested to see their stories play out. But I was ultimately let down by Ryan and Emily. It’s a nice story with that small island charm, but a very weak romance and that wasn’t a great balance.


Rating: C-

Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: HQN Books
Sarah Morgan: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Give It All (Desert Dogs #2) by Cara McKenna

A hot new Desert Dogs novel from the author of Lay It Down

Keep your friends close—and your enemies closer....

Bar owner Raina Harper can’t say for sure what Duncan Welch is to her. With her small Nevada town under siege by a ruthless casino development and still reeling from a spate of murders, she knows that trusting the public face of the corporate invaders is risky to say the least. Though, damn, it’s one fine-looking face.…

Duncan may be a mercenary when it comes to getting the job done, but he’s no villain. In fact, the calculating fixer soon finds himself in the bad guys’ crosshairs, framed and facing professional ruin. To clear his name, he’ll need help from Raina and her roughneck motorcycle club, the Desert Dogs. Gaining their trust won’t be easy, and the molten sexual tension between Raina and Duncan only makes things more complicated—especially since Miah Church, Raina’s friend and ex-lover, would sooner strangle Duncan than shake his hand.

One thing’s certain, though: If they don’t deal with their incendiary attraction soon, the whole damn town might go up in flames.…
“OCD doesn’t keep you from getting your rocks off, then?”

His [Duncan] smile was slow and wicked. “Sex is one of a very few things in this world that I prefer dirty, Ms. Harper.”
When we first met Duncan Welsh (Lay It Down), a man connected to a company who was building a casino in the small town of Fortuity, which is not at all welcome by the locals, he seemed like a typical businessman, in it for the money, very straight-laced with that proper British accent. He ended up finding himself in the middle of a murder investigation and his beliefs, which are very black and white and he always walks the line of doing the right thing, the legal thing, started to get blurry when he began to uncover things about the casino and various players that weren’t on the up and up. Now, Duncan is a suspect in the investigation, he’s been dismissed from his job and he’s drifting and aimless. None of these things are good for his mental state. He suffers from OCD, takes medication for his anxiety and panic attacks and finds relief in order and routine. Both of those things have been ripped away from him and he’s not dealing well. His motel bathroom is spotless, as cleaning is one of his obsessive behaviors and one that helps calm the chaos in his mind. But he has one person in his corner, Raina, the owner of the bar Duncan has been frequenting and a member of the Desert Dogs – a group of long-time friends who have banded together to take care of themselves and this town.

Raina is a tough woman. She had a bad experience in her past that’s hardened her. She’s still dealing with the loss of her father, a man she loved dearly and she’s taken over his bar. She doesn’t necessarily want to keep the bar going, her first love is tattooing and she has a desire to see if she can make a go of that as a career, but guilt for keeping the bar open and running it for her father and for this small town has her conflicted. What she’s not conflicted about is Duncan, a man who intrigues her in many ways and when he starts to be harassed and threatened, she takes him in and offers him protection. What she never expected was to get to see that the real Duncan is not the man he presents to the public in his thousand dollar suits and fancy car. He’s a mess and it allows Raina to open up to him, something she’s never done with anyone before.

I really enjoyed this story and that was primarily due to Duncan. He’s not your typical hero (and I mean that in good way), he’s a little bit crazy and he has issues going back to growing up in the foster system and never having anyone care about him. He needs to feel wanted and craves having someone want him around. That definitely includes Raina but also her friends. He’s never had a friend in his adult life and he’s almost desperate for that connection. His life gets ripped apart by this investigation, but by being around Raina and making himself vulnerable to her, it gives him a certain type of mental peace. His obsessions stop ruling his life. They’re never quite gone, but the changes he goes through from the beginning of the story to the end are life altering and it was a captivating story to follow.

I liked getting to know Raina, she’s one tough woman on the outside, but her core is just as vulnerable as Duncan’s. In that way they’re a good match, but they really work because Raina likes to feel needed. But it’s a fine line and with Duncan, she’s able to give him that but it’s never overloaded too much. For as much as I liked Raina, I liked her best for what she brings to Duncan’s life, a person he’s needed for his entire life.

This story is one to be read for Duncan Welsh. The poor man goes through so much, there were so many times I wanted to just hug him and tell him it would all be ok, especially when he wants that very thing from someone in this small town. We also get some good setup for Casey, Vince’s brother (the hero from Lay It Down) and what I hope is the setup for his story next. But I won’t soon forget Duncan, there’s something that just gets me about a hero who’s struggling and vulnerable and finds everything he could ever hope for in his heroine.


Rating: B+

Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Signet
Cara McKenna: Webpage | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Review: Quarterback Draw (Play by Play #9) by Jaci Burton

Playing For Keeps

Grant Cassidy knows how to be a football star—flash that dazzling smile, throw the winning pass, get the girl. But while the hot quarterback loves the game and the lifestyle, no woman has come close to catching his heart. Then he matches wits with a smart, gorgeous model, and Grant finds himself wanting more than a fling.

Supermodel Katrina Koslova might live in a world of glitz and camera flashes, but she works hard to provide for the family that relies on her. She doesn’t have time for fun—much less a boyfriend—but Grant seems determined to be the exception to Katrina’s rule.

Their explosive chemistry is undeniable, but Katrina’s afraid to let go and rely on anyone but herself. Grant intends to ease her fears and prove he’s a man of style and substance.

Grant and Katrina meet during a photo shoot – he’s the sexy professional football player, she’s the gorgeous model and together they created chemistry on camera. But, Katrina is much more than a pretty face and doesn’t make it easy for Grant when he tries to get to know her better. Katrina had to grow up fast, raising her two younger siblings when she turned 18. She started modeling and had to become an adult very quickly and deal with way too many responsibilities. She’s never let herself have fun and Grant sets out to change that.

Grant’s attracted to Katrina and becomes even more so when he learns her story and that she’s the parent to her siblings. He doesn’t let Katrina’s walls stop him and he barges right into her life and the lives of her siblings, who welcome him a lot easier than Katrina does.

Grant and Katrina’s romance felt easy – they don’t have a lot of conflict to deal with, their biggest issue being Katrina having some daddy abandonment issues that she needs to work through. This is really the only angst the couple goes through and it felt a bit tossed in at the end. But leading up to this, we get to see Grant and Katrina slowly get to know each other and their families. I really enjoyed Katrina’s younger siblings and seeing them brought into the Cassidy family. There’s a lot of time spent at Grant’s parents ranch and being introduced to his brothers and sister (yay more siblings = more books!). This book follows the same type of vibe as the other Play by Play books. Everyone is so damn nice and sweet and even perfect. But there’s something about the big family scenes Burton writes that I always find myself really enjoying.

Grant and Katrina burn up the sheets, that is, after Grant takes care of Katrina’s virginity. She’s never done the deed, too busy with work, too busy with her brother and sister, but that doesn’t stop Grant, heh. In fact, I HATE putting this in a review but I’m going to anyway, I wish there had been a few less sex scenes. There’s nothing wrong with eluding to the sexy times and cutting it off page every now and then. It just started reading really repetitive and I started skimming through them.

That aside, I found this to be a nice, sweet read. There’s nothing that set me off in a bad way, but on the flip side, there was nothing that really made me stand up and take notice. I will say that I’ve got my eye on those other single Cassidy brothers and being a sucker for sibling-connected books, they will have me coming back for more.


Rating: B-

Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Berkley
Jaci Burton: Webpage | Facebook | Twitter
Buy Here: Amazon.com | B&N
*eARC provided by publisher for review* 

 
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