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Currently Browsing: military/suspense romance
May
22

Review: Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers

Review: Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers Enemies Like You Author: Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: NOTE: The authors recently released a free “prequel” novella, Enemies with Benefits, prior to the release of this book. It is actually the first eight chapters (about 25%) of Enemies Like You. So if you have read the prequel, the authors direct you to start at Chapter 9, which is what I did. If you have not read the prequel – no need to pick it up. CIA operative Will is set to kill his enemy, Polzin. It’s a personal kill since Polzin is responsible the deaths of so many of Will’s brothers-in-arms. Kit has been deep undercover for two years, forced to protect Polzin as his bodyguard. Kit must keep the dirty Russian alive until he completes his own, secret objective: locate the Roc file. Now the pair face off in a deadly match that neither can walk away from. Will and Kit begin the story as two sides to the same coin. Both ultimately after the same goal – eliminate Polzin – but with opposing methods and reasons. I’m glad that through their relentless pursuits, each learns the truth about the other, allowing the pair to team up and work together. I appreciate that the authors didn’t drag out the stand off between the pair, rather they used each encounter between Kit and Will to slowly wear both down. This ultimately changes both men, giving them the space to grown and open up. And I loved watching the pair evolve before my eyes, maturing and joining. I loved how each scene brought them closer together and changed each just a little bit, until they are a solid couple in love by the end. I look forward to more challenges and Kit’s “Kate persona” taking on Will, but I like that Kit has a soft, vulnerable side as well. The espionage story is a good one. Like a classic spy thriller, there are several players in action, and the reader doesn’t fully understand all the pieces until nearly the end. I enjoyed watching Will and Kit figure out every step and finally getting to the end game. I was, however, a bit disappointed in the ending. I felt there was a distinct lack of closure on a specific character and what happened after the final showdown. Whether the authors were deliberately obtuse, or I was supposed to make assumptions based on...
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Apr
25

Review: Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy

Review: Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy Midnight Target Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: **blinks** Um. What just happened here? Readers of the Killer Instincts series are well aware of the bromance between Boston and Sully, and the super crappy stuff that happened to Sully. If you haven’t read the entire series, you really need to start from the beginning to appreciate all the careful planning that went into the series arc, the character development—and breaking down of characters—that went into writing every single book in the series. But, hey. This book is mainly about Cate and Ash, right? NOPE. Just get that notion right out of your head. This very minute. Midnight Target is so much more than military romance/romantic suspense—whatever label you want to give it. Jim’s mercenaries and Noelle’s chameleons—with a few others—have managed to create a family. And really, the overarching theme in this book is family. Whether the onus of the discussion is on Cate’s relationship with Jim or Ash’s with his family… or Boston’s relationship with his devout Irish-Catholic family or Sully’s lack of family—we always come back to that one, singular, important theme. The road to happily-ever-after isn’t paved with rose petals; often, it’s a bed of hot coals we need to walk across until we reach the other side. Cate and Ash had their trials over the course of their relationship—we get to see them in flashbacks and memories—as did Sully and Boston. With both couples, we see the give-and-take, the personal growth and acceptance that must take place before either party is ready to become part of a whole. And being part of that whole makes them part of something larger than themselves. A family can be defined by many parameters—but in the case of the operatives in the Killer Instincts series, it’s definitely defined by a group of people who have chosen to be together. And those are the best families. While Midnight Target is pretty long (464 pages), the pacing was excellent, and I pretty much devoured the book. There were times I wanted more Sully & Boston, and then I’d want more Ash & Cate as I read—but it just propelled me through the book. As did the action. Talk about edge-of-my-seat reading! Not only was there this whole drug cartel-slash-revenge plot to make the drug lord pay for Jim getting shot during the mission to extract Cate from a completely screwed up situation, but the movement between...
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Apr
19

Review: Home Fires by Kate Sherwood

Review: Home Fires by Kate Sherwood Home Fires Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I’ve had the pleasure of following the Common Law series from the beginning, and I believe Home Fires to be the best yet. While I had a couple of random issues early in the series, this story brought everything together far better than I had anticipated it might. And though my fondness for Wade hasn’t lessened one bit, I’ve now fallen for Jericho, too, and feel that both men got an ending to the story that suits them very well. While the more suspenseful elements have consistently been my favorite moments of the series, Home Fires has a few that I think excel over the others. In what is arguably one of the better confrontations in the Common Law stories, whatever uncertainty still existed in Jericho’s mind is thoroughly destroyed, and I enjoyed reading it tremendously. It’s certainly among the best showdowns I’ve read in a long while. Despite the inherent battles Jericho and Wade fight within the shades of gray that surround them, the affection and wanting that simmers and flares between them is undeniable. Often teasing, but hardly ever explicit, their relationship is born of scars and memory and is as restless as the characters themselves. They’ve earned their resolution and I was glad to see them have it at last. Besides, there were plenty of other things to fight in Home Fires, so why bother? Still more to like about Home Fires is that there’s plenty of humor, albeit as dry and sarcastic as ever, if not more so. The citizens of Mosely really are Jericho’s people, and the comfort he finds in accepting it is both evident and welcome. No longer the prodigal, he’s his best self now, especially with Wade at his side. Or watching his back. Or blowing up the evidence room at the police station. Whatever they’ve figured out between them works—not just for them, but the whole town, as well. After four books, I’ve become attached to this series, and I’m very sorry for it to end. The author set a nice pace throughout, making the culmination of steps Wade and Jericho have taken seem justifiably rewarding—for the readers as well as the characters. Each story is both manageable and engaging, and I absolutely recommend reading all the books, rather than any of them as standalones. Home Fires made for a perfect ending, and I think starting the...
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Apr
17

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James The Thing About Love Author: Julie James Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: FBI agent Jessica Harlow likes her job and wants to be the best. From the early days of her training, she’s been trying to overcompensate for her diminutive size and any perceptions of weakness because she’s a woman. Agent John Shepherd came through her same class at Quantico. Always at odds for top marks, they became bitter rivals. Years later, they end up in the same field office and get assigned to the same case.  They will have to work to put aside their competitive natures if they are to collaborate successfully.  With the focus on the operation, the story has a substance in what would otherwise just be a fluffy romance of rekindled passions.  James gives us a lot of context for their history and relationship which added a depth that improved it. The banter and wit James is known for, like, “She who nearly climbeth the man like a tree must owneth it” rounds out the corners and makes this a strong addition to her FBI/US Attorney series. I wish we had had the chance to see John in action. He’s basically a superhero without the cape. James doesn’t take advantage of the character she’s created to show off his mad skills.  I also took issue with the ending.  She wrapped it up with a tidy bow, but before getting there, her own character, Jessica offers up an alternative ending.  Frankly, I liked that one better. As usual, the families James creates around her characters are wonderful and I enjoyed their intrusions into the storylines.  They make these overachievers relatable to the rest of us ordinary humans.  Even though there are things I would change, I can definitely say I liked this book. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting. For both of them, being paired with an old rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one...
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Apr
12

Review: Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy

Review: Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy Midnight Rescue Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: So. I missed reading the first book in the series. You guys ever do that? Know what’s cool, though? I didn’t miss not reading the first book, mostly—because Ms. Kennedy slips in these little reminders about what happened when it’s important. I really like this because sometimes I forget the important details because I don’t think they’ll BE important, which makes Kennedy a fabulous storyteller. I just finished reading the last book in the Killer Instincts series and Jen brought up that I hadn’t read/reviewed the first one, so here we are! There was one thing that bothered me as I was reading—Abby was injured at the beginning of the story, and the elapsed time didn’t give her time to heal a broken bone. While it was periodically mentioned, I would’ve thought the injury would’ve figured more prominently. That’s really my only hmmmm thing. But, it didn’t bother me enough to stop reading, nor did it detract from the story except for making me occasionally wonder how she was able to do something without aggravating the injury. I’d always wondered about Kane & Abby’s story. We do see them in subsequent titles in the series, and we would get hints here and there about them. Reading.Their.Story.Was.Worth.It. Every single word made me giggle and grin about things that would happen in future installments of the series—things that were set into motion IN THIS BOOK. I really loved the character growth of both Kane and Abby in Midnight Rescue. While both characters come to the story with some serious baggage, I was amazed at the change they both endured by the end of the book. Abby, one of Noelle’s chameleons, has lived her life by the motto: I can do it myself—better, stronger, faster. She’s kind of like the Six Million Dollar Man that way (oops…I may have just dated myself…). She’s only really been able to rely on herself, and she’s grown into a highly self-reliant woman. Which makes her the perfect option for a deep-cover assassin, right? Yeah. Until she meets her match in Kane. Now, Kane really isn’t all that screwed up. He’s had some crap luck in the romance department that’s made him clam up when it comes to women—nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? That all changes when he meets Abby, though. As far as the plot went—I loved it. It seemed like Abby...
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Mar
6

Review: Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith

Review: Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith Flash of Fury Author: Lea Griffith Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Kingston McNally, ex-Navy SEAL, is the leader of a black ops team known as Endgame Ops. A year ago on a dangerous mission in Beirut, King’s group was betrayed by one of their own. Now it’s his mission to end Horace Dresden, the man responsible for the death of his teammates. However, someone has put Allie Redding in his path and her safety is quickly becoming his number one priority. Allie Redding spent the past few years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa and is looking forward to a mani/pedi and McDonald’s french fries back at home. She’s instantly attracted to the hottie in the seat next to her, and she even indulges in a little “what if” daydreaming. But her fantasies are short lived when her plane is hijacked by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Now she and her new found ally, King, are on the run while trying to figure out who they can trust. Flash of Fury is the first exciting story in Ms. Griffith’s Endgame Ops series. The story opens with a bang and never EVER slows down. As the first book in the series, the author spends a great deal of time introducing the key players and laying the groundwork for the world. Generally this is handled well in Flash of Fury, but I did get lost a few times; partially because of the volume of information, and partially because this material is just the framework for something larger to which I am not yet privy. While I liked that the author didn’t dumb down conversations for the reader, it made it difficult to follow along as there is a lot of subterfuge and layers of conspiracy in play. The overall plot line of the book is the rescue and return of Allie to her father in the U.S. It’s a good story, but there is entirely way too much running for my tastes. Seriously… every time King and Allie make it to a safe house, they are compromised. It got old after a while; I just wanted them to have a respite that lasted longer than a couple of hours (they actually do but injuries don’t count in my book!). The larger story involves weeding out the leaks that lead to the botched mission in Beirut and how it all ties in with Allie. There was significant movement...
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Feb
28

Review: Darkness by Kate Sherwood

Review: Darkness by Kate Sherwood Darkness Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Several months into his “vacation” working as under-sheriff for his high school friend and lover, Kayla, Jericho Crewe has re-adapted to things far better than he’s willing to admit. Unlike his job as an officer among the anonymous multitudes of LA, however, Mosely, Montana lays every consequence of his actions bare and unavoidable. Much like his feelings for his other former lover, and ongoing complication, Wade Granger. The first in this series, Long Shadows, was a compelling introduction to Jericho’s story, and hooked me from the start. The second, Embers, drew me in, but I still felt like more of an outsider, possibly because of Jericho’s own fight with his own convictions. Darkness, however, was an entirely different experience for me as a reader. Jericho isn’t surrendering so much as he’s accepting the truths about himself that he couldn’t outrun. Jericho is correct when he refers to Kayla and Wade as the angel and the devil (respectively) on his shoulders. But, after three books worth of Jericho waging his own internal battle, I was delighted to see him realize they were sort of telling him the same thing: sometimes, the law can’t dictate what’s right and wrong. Sometimes, that distinction can only be found in the intentions of the actors—in the heart. While I’ve consistently found Wade to be an extremely compelling character, I was especially happy with the dynamic between he and Jericho in Darkness. For the first time, Jericho seems to understand that he has the power to truly hurt Wade with his assumptions and distrust of Wade’s intentions. Wade’s protectiveness and boundaries when it comes to his own sense of right and wrong echo Jericho’s realization that sometimes the law just isn’t good enough. The epiphany that finally allows Jericho to see what Wade really means to him, and the intimate and reflective moments that followed were some of my favorite parts of the series so far. All in all, Darkness is an excellent addition to an already strong series. My appreciation of Jericho increased substantially over the course of the novel, and my affection for Wade did much the same. These characters have definitely grown on me as I’ve gotten to know them better, and I highly recommend reading this series from the beginning. With only one story left, I can’t help but be both excited and worried to see what happens next,...
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Feb
6

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood

Interview + Review: Embers by Kate Sherwood Embers Author: Kate Sherwood Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Now that he’s temporarily relocated back home to Mosely, Montana, Jericho Crewe has a lot to sort out. Between working for his old friend and former lover at the sheriff’s office, dealing with the family he didn’t know he had, and recovering from a recent gunshot wound, he’s been busy. His inability to keep his mind off his other former lover, Wade Granger, isn’t helping matters, either—especially when buildings start exploding and bodies begin turning up. While I liked this story very much, I did have a little more difficulty connecting with Jericho. Having been a patrol cop in LA for five years, and a marine for eight years before that, Jericho’s clearly no fool. That he had the determination to reinvent himself after escaping from Mosely also speaks to a strong will and notable resourcefulness. But, he always seems to be a step or two behind here, and his ongoing confusion wasn’t as understandable to me now that he’s been back home for a while. Regardless, it was extremely interesting to watch him try to balance between his own past and present, and Jericho is likable enough that I was pulling for him all the way through. Wade, on the other hand, is still my favorite character, and his role as a “mastermind” is the best part of this series to me so far. Now that Jericho is back home, Wade seems to be shifting gears on the fly and the suspense that’s constantly generated by his actions kept me glued to every scene. It looks as if Wade had shaped his life around a missing puzzle piece, only to discover that that same piece had somehow changed its shape during its absence. Now, things are different in his world, too, and I couldn’t help but appreciate both Wade’s aptitude, as well as his frustrations. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Embers is that the author has taken the traditional notion of the “prodigal returned” and turned it into something else entirely. Jericho didn’t just leave home. He changed. But, not as much as he thinks he did, which is pretty entertaining. Not really an outsider, he’s able to maintain a level of credibility with the “locals” that he’s very willing to use to help him solve the crimes being committed—even though he seems surprised that he still has any. One of the older deputies puts...
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Jan
16

Review: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt

Review: Afraid to Fly by L.A. Witt Afraid To Fly Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I’ve read quite a few titles by this author, many created under various pen names, and have always enjoyed her writing very much. The first story in the Anchor Point series, Just Drive, also received a lot of good reviews, even though I missed it when it was released. So, I was a little disappointed when Afraid to Fly gave me a fair bit of difficulty. One particularly significant stumbling block for me came from the use of dueling first person POVs throughout the narrative. Although each chapter is titled to reflect whose perspective is being presented, the story still became confusing, especially during longer strings of dialogue. Travis and Clint have such similar experiences that things frequently got muddled when they were together. This wasn’t a constant issue, but it happened often enough that I had to reread several scenes in order to clarify who was saying what. In addition to the above, I had a difficult time accepting Clint’s decision to tell Travis about the incident that led to his downfall and the destruction of his marriage. So much was made about the repercussions attached to it, clearance levels, and nondisclosure agreements that kept him silent for so long that Clint’s sudden about face seemed “off” somehow. Although, I was still glad he was able to get that secret out in the open. There were other issues that affected my submersion in the story, including Travis’ repeatedly stated cynicism about the future of their relationship. Additionally, Clint “comes out” to his office associates during the very first scene, but is worried on other occasions about what his ex-wife would say if his bisexuality was discovered. Lastly, while penetrative sex certainly isn’t necessary, I found it odd that Travis was determined to push his physical limitations in several other ways (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, the bi-annual health screening, etc.), but not when it came to his intimate moments with Clint. Far from being entirely negative, however, there was also a lot to appreciate about Afraid to Fly. For a start, both main characters are in their 40’s, which is both rare and interesting in my reading experience. The same similarities that presented themselves as pitfalls in one context made the connection between Travis and Clint seem even more valid in another. Many of the issues that our military have to live...
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Jan
13

Review: The Protector by Donna Grant

Review: The Protector by Donna Grant The Protector Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The saga to find Orrin (Cullen’s dad) continues in this fast-paced continuation of the Sons of Texas series. Seriously. Find. Him! I want Orrin to get a HEA, too!!! Could it be the mousy doctor??? Enough with projecting my own needs as a reader. I think I liked The Protector better than the first book in the series, The Hero. I liked Cullen and Mia better as a couple because they felt more balanced—they could both take care of themselves. Both Cullen and Mia have demons. What really pushed me forward when reading was the next squishy middle I’d run across. You guys know what I’m talking about. The hard-core military that project the image of calm, cool, collectedness who show vulnerability. The Russian involvement and the way the series arc played out in The Protector, I’m champing at the bit for the third book in the series, The Legend, up for preorder & releasing June 27th. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: When Marine Force Recon captain Cullen Loughman learns that his father’s been kidnapped, he will do whatever it takes to find him. In order to achieve his mission, Cullen will need to team up with the best of the best—someone who just happens to be the most stunning woman he’s ever laid eyes on… This isn’t the first rodeo for ex—Air Force pilot Mia Carter. Still, Cullen’s bad-boy good looks and charm are distracting her from duty. . .and it appears that the feeling is mutual. As Mia and Cullen make their descent into a dark, dangerous world, their attraction reaches the boiling point. But is their desire worth the risk when a ruthless enemy is waiting in the wings—or will their Lone Star love conquer all?  Release Date: January 3, 2017 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Series: Sons of Texas #2 Genre: Military Romantic Suspense Format(s): paperback (305 pages), e-book, audiobook Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info: Amazon Reviews in the Series: The Hero by Donna Grant (Sons of Texas...
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