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Currently Browsing: military/suspense romance
May
22

Review + Blog Tour: Wash Out L.A. Witt

Review + Blog Tour: Wash Out L.A. Witt Wash Out Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Having lost far too much to his memories and resulting addiction, Logan Carter is finally turning his life around, finding help in the most unlikely of places. After watching too many of his fellow Marines die on the battlefield, he’d used alcohol to quiet the past, nearly destroying any chance at a decent future. Now, six months sober, he’s getting a fresh start as a civilian contractor at NAS Adams, rebuilding a friendship with his ex, and going to regular therapy sessions. The only thing that would be better—or worse—would be falling for the handsome Gunner’s Mate in the next cubicle.  GM2 Casey Olsen has had one goal his entire life: to be a Navy SEAL. He’d never questioned his ability to fight on the front lines, until a horribly broken leg yanks that destiny out from under him, leaving him angry and unsure about his own future. Unable to chase his dreams, but too fit to be medically discharged, he’s in limbo and frustrated. At least his current officemates are fun—especially the sexy new guy who draws him like a magnet. After all, what could possibly be wrong with having a little fun while the Navy figures out what to do with him? Like the other stories in the Anchor Point series, Wash Out is a standalone that manages to successfully tie in characters from previous stories, which I greatly appreciated. As is also the case in earlier narratives, Logan and Casey are trying to find their place in the world with regards to the Navy, and are carrying around some serious burdens to boot. Though I feel bad about the reaction, I don’t think that Wash Out was as balanced as some of the pervious titles, and couldn’t help siding with one character more than the other on occasion.  The requisite instant chemistry between MCs is very much present as well, and Casey and Logan don’t wait long to explore it. Casey’s injury forces them to go a little slower than they might have otherwise, however, which works to the story’s advantage. Instead, they engage in other avenues of physical intimacy, and I found the combination of tethered impatience and joyful curiosity refreshing. One of my favorite things about Wash Out is that its ending is a HFN, rather than a HEA. The narrative makes it clear that everything can change in an instant,...
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Apr
24

Review: Total Bravery by Piper Drake

Review: Total Bravery by Piper Drake Total Bravery Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Total Bravery is latest novel in Ms. Drake’s True Heroes series.  After it seemed like all of the men of Hope’s Crossing found their HEAs, we wondered what was next in this series.  We liked this segue into a related group. We are not fans of instant love in the contemporary romance genre.  This is a big reason why the romantic thread in Total Bravery is one of our favorites in this series.  We loved how patient and honest Raul is with Mali.  Although he is strongly attracted to Mali in a way he has never felt before, he is respectful and treats her like a lady.  It was not the right time or place, but the communication between them was strong.  We enjoyed Mali’s analytical mind.  Her reasoning and ability to observe and absorb were valuable and enticing qualities to Raul.  They worked well together and even though they have a quick tryst, they take the time to evaluate if it was a moment of trauma induced stress or something more.   We continue to enjoy the canine partners that enrich the story.  Although Taz was an integral part of the team, he was not as central to the story as some of the other canines have been.  He made a strong supporting character and we really enjoyed his unique personality. As much as we have enjoyed the suspenseful plots of the previous novels, this one just didn’t grab us like the others did.  Even though the horrific element of human trafficking was muted, it still was an uncomfortable contrast to the love story.  We also questioned the realistic viability of taking a recently traumatized civilian into a potential combat mission.  Don’t get us wrong, it was incredibly suspenseful and thrilling, but we couldn’t suspend our disbelief.   With the introduction of this new team, we look forward to more stories in this series.  We are eager to see both Mali’s sister Arin and her partner, Zu, find romance.  Both were fascinating characters.  We also wonder if we may get a prequel story that tells how Kalea and Miller met.   Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: True heroes will do anything to protect the women they love… As the newest recruit at Search and Protect, Raul has a lot to prove. Luckily, he’s got the best friend and partner...
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Apr
18

Review: Running the Risk by Lea Griffith

Review: Running the Risk by Lea Griffith Running the Risk Author: Lea Griffith Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: After watching the love of his life die a year ago, Jude continues his work with Endgame Ops, although there is a huge whole in his heart. That is until he sees Ella alive and working with their enemy. Since then, a mix of dark emotions war within Jude, causing him to track Ella down and eventually confront her.  Ella hates deceiving her Endgame teammates, but she firmly believes in the mission-within-a-mission that their leader, the Piper, set in motion. However, the deeper Ella dives, the more convoluted the mission and motives appear. Yet, she is determined to stay put within the enemy camp until she determines who Dresden works for, placing her at odds with the man she loves and his personal mission to save her. Overall, I found Running the Risk to be a thrilling story and passionate romance. Ella and Jude share a strong history, which makes their connection extremely emotional, which worked for me. Theirs is a deep and lasting love, one that the author planted reminders of throughout the book. One of my favorite passages was when Jude brings Ella to his home after taking her from her undercover job. She does something mundane like brushing her teeth, and it triggers a memory of how Jude would make fun of how much toothpaste she uses. It’s a great reminder that although things have changed between the pair, the solid core remains. While I really enjoyed the romantic storyline, I found the suspense side a bit more difficult to follow. First, I was a bit put off by Ella’s conviction to trust her shadowy boss rather than her teammates and Jude. The author does a good job of making a case for Ella at first, but after a while, it felt flimsy. Especially when Ella figures Dresden knows she’s still with Endgame. Why would she fight so hard to go back to the monster? Additionally, there are so many players in motion and dead teammates who may not really be dead. There are too many characters for me to keep track of, which makes the story hard to follow when things start to get intense. I tried to follow the actions of Ella and Jude only, letting the rest fall away in the periphery. It mostly worked, even though I am generally someone who likes to piece the puzzle together on...
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Apr
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Shadow of Doubt Author: Linda Poitevin Narrator: Desiree Fultz Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Standalone Genre: Romantic Suspense Source: Author Shadow of Doubt is a captivating romantic suspense novel.  Ms. Poitevin gives a nail-biting race for two closed-off officers to find freedom in not only a conspiracy but from their own walled-in hearts. I really enjoyed this slow-burn romantic suspense story.  Kate, a Canadian police officer is one tough cookie though not without compassion.  Her cop senses urge her that maybe this wanted U.S. ATF agent is not guilty of the crimes laid on his name.  Still recovering from an injury received on duty, Kate is able to keep up with and protect Jonas, though he does not make it easy for her. If Kate is tough, Jonas is granite.  Raised in one foster home after another, he has learned to never depend on anyone.  Trust is not something he gives, and rarely allows if earned, and it shows in the way he was so perfectly framed for a crime(s) he did not commit.  The chemistry he feels with Kate is not something he has experienced before and is definitely not something he wants.  But no matter how diligently he fights and pushes, Kate continues to burrow under his skin – getting close to digging into his hardened heart.   The way that Kate and Jonas slowly (and quite reluctantly on Jonas’s part) come together was a perfect slow-burn romance.  I enjoyed Kate’s tenacity and her honesty (with herself).  As they finally get close to getting the evidence they need, we learn (along with Jonas) that his walls and judgement mean nothing when you’re wrong.  His self-actualization was heartbreaking but also freeing.  The epilogue was the perfect sweet ending, full of the hope and happiness they both deserved. Ms. Fultz narration perfectly captured Kate’s personality.  I also feel she did an excellent job in giving voice to Jonas as well as differentiating the other characters.  Her performance truly enhanced my enjoyment of this story. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed this story of two officers on different sides of the “line” breaking their own rules and walls to find a happily ever after.  If you enjoy a thrilling suspense story woven with a slow-burn romance, this is a title you should definitely pick up. My Ratings: Story: A Narrator: A Overall: A Review copy provided by...
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Apr
10

Review + Blog Tour: Once Burned by L.A. Witt

Review + Blog Tour: Once Burned by L.A. Witt Once Burned Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: On the surface, Once Burned has all the elements this series has been built on: undeniable physical temptation that evolves into real affection, the Navy’s unyielding and destructive rules, and an eventual path to happiness for the two heroes. Unlike its predecessors, however, this story not only concerns Naval policy, but also delves into the even more infuriating topics of immigration and veterans’ rights. While there’s no denying the physical—and later emotional—connection Diego and Mark share, the familiar feeling of time running out was much more palpable here than in previous Anchor Point titles. Though it is certainly a romance, complete with a HEA, the real purpose of Once Burned is to highlight the predicament faced by too many U.S. veterans. Without knowing the specifics of the author’s research, Diego’s situation reads as a conglomerate of other potentially true stories that absolutely engaged both my heart and my anger. At one point, Diego remembers his employer stating that it’s not “right for a man who’s been shot at for his country to be screwed by it—” a sentiment I found easy to agree with. There were a few details in Once Burned that seemed somewhat implausible, but which still highlight the desperation and unfairness of Diego’s situation. One that I had trouble with was Mark’s invitation to Diego to attend a “Hail and Farewell” party, disregarding that it would be fairly callous given Diego’s experience, as well as being overly risky with the other personnel likely to be in attendance. So much importance is placed on the threat of deportation throughout the narrative—Diego can’t even go to the VA for medical assistance—that moments like these stood out. While it has a few uncomfortable scenes (i.e. Mark’s role as savior, even though he tries to minimize the fact), Once Burned served as a launch pad into a problem that I’m eager to learn more about. While researching the topic for this review on my own, I quickly realized that one evening (which turned into two) wasn’t remotely enough time to scratch the surface of the issue. Fortunately, a bill was introduced in the House last year—H.R.3429, or the “Repatriate Our Patriots Act”—that shows promise, but who knows when, or if, it might ever become law. On the plus side, the author has pledged half of her royalties from the sale of Once Burned “to charities supporting U.S....
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Feb
13

Review: Going Overboard by L.A. Witt

Review: Going Overboard by L.A. Witt Going Overboard Author: L.A. Witt Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Having been born into a Navy family, MA2 Chris Ingram always knew that following in his parents’ footsteps was what he wanted to do. Even though being a coxswain in charge of a ship and progressing through the different rates has made up the last fifteen years of his life, the high-year tenure rules in place mean that he’s running out of time to advance. At least he’s not alone, his best friend (and long-time crush), Dalton, being in exactly the same situation. But, coming out just isn’t in the cards right now—that is, until Chris almost loses Dalton for good. While he may have joined the Navy to get away from his life in Nebraska, Dalton Taylor knew that becoming a Sailor was his calling. Being out and proud hasn’t always been easy, but with the repeal of DADT he doesn’t have to hide, at least. Serving with his friend Chris makes his assignment to NAS Adams just about as perfect as he could have hoped for. Still, nearly dying in a boating accident upends all of Dalton’s best-laid plans, and wanting Chris may not be a secret he can keep for much longe—except that losing his heart to “straight guy” Chris will hurt far more than anything else Dalton’s ever known. Having read all but one of the Anchor Point stories with somewhat mixed opinions, I have to say that Going Overboard is probably my favorite so far. While I had a little trouble accepting that Dalton had no idea at all about Chris’s sexuality after so many years of being best friends, I wanted them to be happy very much. Additionally, the fight that they both have to make under the circumstances surrounding the accident that nearly killed Dalton was highly engaging, and made the bad guys involved extremely easy to hate. I liked Chris and Dalton as a couple very much. A lot is made later on about how both men feel like they’ve been together longer than the calendar suggests, and, in this case, that rings true in the narrative. From the beginning their friendship seemed to be not only solid, but positively drenched in “if I could I would” longing. The author makes it clear that this isn’t insta-love, but something far stronger which culminates in a sexual chemistry that seems to be more of a relief that they’re both...
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Feb
6

Review: Relief Valve by JL Merrow

Review: Relief Valve by JL Merrow Relief Valve Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Still recovering from the last case he helped solve, as well as trying to settle into his new relationship with Phil Morrison (a private investigator and former bully), psychically-gifted plumber Tom Paretski could really go for some quiet time and a pint or two at his favorite pub. But, between his best friend’s engagement, the death of a family friend, and his sister’s poisoning (at her own engagement party, no less), he’s not likely to find peace anytime soon. Good thing the pints are a viable option, at least. As much as I liked Pressure Head, the first in the series, I had a truly excellent time reading this story. Despite the grim circumstances surrounding the darker aspects of the narrative, I thought Relief Valve was downright hilarious. Tom’s at his best when he finds himself trapped within the failings of etiquette in the face of death, literary duplicity, and romance, and I couldn’t help snickering and cackling all the way through at his expense. I even guiltily found his discomfort with regards to his own affections nearly priceless. Not just a funny bit of storytelling, Relief Valve is also a gratifying suspense. With questions surrounding the target of the crimes in addition to the identity of the perpetrator, there’s plenty to here to keep readers guessing for quite a while. Although I wasn’t really shocked by the ending of the story, getting there was definitely entertaining. One of my favorite things about this story was the developing romance between Tom and Phil. With their backstory a little less glaring, it was easier for me to more readily support them both, even though I could still appreciate the apprehension expressed by Tom’s family and friends. Tom is an endearing character, making their protectiveness seem more understandable. Speaking of wonderful characters—Darren and Gary continue to be two of my favorites, transforming every scene they appear in into a delight. There’s no way to do them justice here, but I absolutely adore them both. Tom’s sister, Cherry, won me over early, as well, and I even developed a reluctant fondness for the “Worryingly,” “Helplessly,” and “Terrifyingly Reverend Greg” (there are twelve of these constructions in my copy—each more amusing than the last). One of the best sequels I’ve read in a long time, Relief Valve is a strong addition to what has so far been an intriguing series....
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Dec
28

Review: The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

Review: The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant The Christmas Cowboy Hero Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Yes, please! A new series from Donna Grant! Combining military with cowboys? Yummy! The Heart of Texas series is going to be my new military/cowboy go-to. In The Christmas Cowboy Hero, Clayton is our tortured hero. You’d think that having been a Navy SEAL would harden him against all the touchy-feely stuff. Totally not so, and poor Clayton has more to deal with than the average SEAL. I really liked Clayton’s characterization because it seemed like there were real issues he was taking care of and he buried some things from his past super deep so he could move on with his life. Funny how that doesn’t work out, huh? With all the things going on at the family ranch, seems like Clayton needs someone by his side. Enter Abby Harper. I’m pretty sure that Abby should be named Ms. Selfless Heroine 2017. When her brother gets in over his head, Abby is there for him—which brings us to how Abby and Clayton meet. As an overprotective mom, I had to suspend belief for a few beats until I got back into the story when Abby made some of her choices. But, honestly? It wasn’t a big deal. I’m the mom who has daily contact with her college junior. LOL. Watching the relationship between Abby and Clayton develop was wonderful—the slow-burn between them drew me in and kept me reading as their characters grew and blossomed. The changes between the characters at the end compared to the beginning? Absolutely lovely. As secondary characters, Abby’s brothers as well as Clayton’s parents and a particular ranch hand were prominent. Even with a larger cast of characters, Ms. Grant made each unique and fully developed—which I appreciate. I almost thought we were going to get a surprise pregnancy, but I’m happy with the outcome—I think the characters wouldn’t have handled the alternative. I’m excited to read the next installment of the Heart of Texas series! My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: ’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays―even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything. Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped...
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Oct
25

Review + Blog Tour: Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review + Blog Tour: Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge Kill Game Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Given that I had mixed reactions to the only other title I’ve read by this author, I was eager to give this new series a try—and I’m extremely glad that I did. From its quick-witted characters to a villain that I found myself sympathizing with on occasion to a plot that kept me guessing the entire time, Kill Game had everything I adore in a good suspense story. Although I did develop a particular fondness for Dominic, I liked both he and Levi a great deal. This isn’t the first time I’ve read a story involving a detective and a bounty hunter, and, while there was certainly the familiarity of strong dislike giving way to an improbable compatibility, nothing felt tired or overdone about either character. Chasing down a serial killer forces them to reexamine their own lives, more than their opinions of one another, and I enjoyed being so drawn in by the evolution of each man so far. With Levi on the verge of an engagement to his long-term boyfriend, and Dominic disinterested in any relationship whatsoever, the author incites a more thorough examination of each character than would be possible if there was a rush to an immediate HEA. Whether it’s addiction, moral ambiguity in the absence of guilt, or the pitfalls of allowing affection to devolve into a kind of currency, there’s a lot to consider here. The use of dual narrators in this case not only allows readers to get to know the characters more thoroughly, but proved to be an effective means of sharing their perceived culpability. One of the things I liked best about Kill Game is that, while the attraction between Dominic and Levi is undeniably there, this story is all about the suspense, rather than romance. Just as the killer exists between the law and “justice,” neither Levi nor Dominic seem likely to solve the mystery on their own. In fact, they make bigger strides when the lines get blurry, which kept the narrative as a whole from becoming predictable. Throughout the story, I examined and discarded plausible suspects, sometimes more than once, and was still delightedly second-guessing myself by the end. Already, Seven of Spades looks to be an exciting, well-written series, and I’m happy to watch it unfold from the very beginning. Likable and imperfect, Dominic and Levi are a great match for one another,...
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Oct
9

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger A Shot at Love Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Agent Kyros (Ky) Pappandreos has been working on a mafia case for three years when the only witness is shot and killed on the streets of New York, along with two of Ky’s men. Photographer Gemma Laine happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. Capturing faces of New Yorkers for her next book, she witnesses and records the entire event on her camera… making her Ritandi’s next target. When there is one attempt too many on Gemma’s life while she’s in FBI custody, Ky realizes he has a mole within his team, and takes her safety into his own hands. The pair hide out in a remote cabin and come to realize that while hiding away, they both have never felt more alive or free. A Shot at Love is the second romance in the Will Cook for Love series. While the book takes place in the same world and involves the same characters as the first, it is a standalone read. And even with their similarities, the two books are unique and independent. A Shot at Love definitely falls more in the romantic suspense subgenre than the first title, which also contained a bit of action. Ky and Gemma are a great couple. They share similar values and interests. They are both physically strong and mentally sharp. I enjoyed watching the pair as they each learned more about the other; each pleasantly surprised that their physical attraction is rooted in something deeper. It’s like I could feel the awe in each as they grew closer together, becoming more and more entwined. I especially liked that the professional aspect of Ky’s job and getting involved with Gemma is addressed and always on his mind. The author gives Ky support in the form of an additional protector, helping ease the way for the couple to pair up. Ky and Gemma have a palpable chemistry that explodes when they touch, especially their first couple encounters. My only small complaint is that the pair is a bit goofy with their talk, in bed. They are silly in a way that made me think both are nervous, which may be exactly the point. Gemma has some serious trust issues, and the author does a great job developing the character. However, I wanted Gemma just to take charge and let go of her fears (which...
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