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Currently Browsing: military/suspense romance
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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Jan
2

Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy

Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy Kill Without Shame Author: Alexandra Ivy Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Five soldiers became five brothers when they were held in Taliban prison for weeks of brutal torture. It’s been over two years since returning from the war, and now the men run a successful security firm in Texas. Lucas St. Clair, hostage negotiator, comes from a wealthy, well-connected family who expected him to be a big-wig statesman. Yet after his time as a POW, Lucas left his manipulative family for his brothers-in-arms, founding ARES Security. However, when high school friend Anthony “Tony” Hughes was murdered near ARES offices, Lucas is drawn back to his hometown of Shreveport, LA, and face-to-face with Mia Ramon — the one that got away. Mia Ramon has come a long way since she last saw Lucas St. Clair, taking over her father’s small lawn mowing business and turning it into a successful landscape company. She doesn’t have time for Lucas to waltz back into her life after he broke her heart 15 years ago. Yet, when she learns that her friend Tony was murdered with a photo of her in his hands, she realizes that Lucas may be the only one to help her find Tony’s murderer. Once again, Alexandra Ivy weaves a suspenseful tale that captured me from page one. Kill Without Shame is the second story in Ms. Ivy’s ARES Security series. Although there is a small overall story arc, the romance and mystery are very much standalone, with no connection to the first book. Lucas and Mia’s story is gripping and sweet. The romance and suspense are well balanced. I liked that Mia and Lucas had a strong history, which gave their romance solid footing in the perilous situations. And there was little confession of feelings at inappropriate times – something that is a huge pet peeve of mine for romantic suspense titles. Lucas and Mia had a friendship and attraction that was easy to rekindle because neither ever got over the other. The author does a wonderful job establishing their backstory, filling it with strong emotions, which gave credibility and strength to the situation. While Lucas wanted to be all alpha-caveman, he listened to the good advice of his friends, meeting strong-willed Mia on middle ground when it came to the investigation. And both were upfront about lingering hurt from the past, allowing them to quickly move past the pain and onto the future. The mystery of who shot Tony...
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Dec
21

Review: Absolute Trust by Piper J. Drake

Review: Absolute Trust by Piper J. Drake Absolute Trust Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una thought Absolute Trust might have been the last book in the True Heroes series.  We are happy to say that it is not the final book.  We liked Brandon and Sophie’s story overall and look forward to more. Since the first book where we met Brandon and Sophie (and couldn’t help but observe their tension) we have waited for their story.  Although there were a couple odd notes, Brandon and Sophie’s journey was a satisfying one.  Sophie and Brandon’s trouble was never their attraction to each other or their personalities.  Brandon felt he needed to make something of himself so he could hope to be worthy of Sophie.  Sophie never understood why Brandon ran off from her, and it remained a sore point with her once Brandon returned.  To make things worse, he never tried to rekindle their relationship; he seemed content with her friendship. The tension and attraction between Brandon and Sophie was tangible.  Her giving nature was a compliment to Brandon’s devotion and protectiveness.  There was a strong theme of second chances in this journey and we really liked it.  Brandon did have to prove himself to Sophie, but she forgave him easily once the truth was out.  The plot against Sophie seemed strange, but plausible.  Although the perpetrators appeared to be very experienced, they seemed to go for convoluted methods rather than a taking a simpler rout. We enjoyed having one of the dogs in the kennel be a main character.  Hadyn, a German Sheppard Dog, was a fascinating character.  His training was, of course, an excellent bonus for Brandon and Sophie as they worked to keep Sophie safe.  However, the addition of the cat was a bit odd.  Although we enjoyed the interaction between the cat and Hadyn, we did think the cat tagging along for an on-the-run getaway a bit strange. Overall, we liked Absolute Truth and look forward to more in the series.  With the kennel expanding, we anticipate more staff joining them and therefore more stories in this engaging world. Brandon and Sophie’s story was worth waiting for. If you enjoy a military romance with furry sidekicks, you may want to pick up this series. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: LOVE IS THE GREATEST RISK OF ALL After multiple tours of duty, Brandon Forte returns to his hometown on a...
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Dec
6

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant The Hero Author: Donna Grant Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Stepping out of my comfort zone, I picked up The Hero by Donna Grant. I don’t read a lot of military romantic suspense—honestly, I only read one series and it’s by an author I know I love. Got me another. I’m excited to come in on the ground floor for Ms. Grant’s Sons of Texas series. I liked her writing style. I’m sure I’ll be over-the-moon for it by the time I read the next book, The Protector, scheduled for release January 3, 2017. I’m all over any story about Russians. Which Rocky movie was it with Dolph Lundgren? I don’t know, either…but there was a Russian dude in this book that made me think of him. But this story wasn’t really about the Russians. Or the contracts (like, pew pew—gun with a silencer—you’re dead contracts). Or even the fact that Owen, our hero, was a SEAL. Not even because Natalie—our heroine—was working at the Russian embassy. Nope. This story was about forgiveness—not just of other people, but forgiving one’s self and being okay with personal demons. In the blurb, we read about Natalie being all torn up about Owen leaving her high and dry back when they were kids (they’re in their early thirties). These two share SERIOUS history. And they’re both horribly broken in different ways. What I liked most about Natalie was her tenacity. The way she didn’t back down from a challenge, and the way she came up with new solutions. She’s a problem-solver. Unless it come to her personal life. And Owen? *sigh* The boy can flip a switch. He’s a trained killer, but some of the scenes? *fans self* Totally hot. Even in the middle of crisis. He’s genuine as well as being hot and deadly. I’m not going to say I fell for him, but heroes like Owen Loughman might sway me over to military romance. There’s three Loughman brothers. And there’s the dad, Orrin, too. I’m wondering whether we’ll get three or four titles from the series. I’m hoping for four. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget: his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After more than a decade away, Owen has returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that...
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Oct
3

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Can’t Hide From Me Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a member of a highly-skilled ATF team, Charles Hunter is a clever, adept agent who takes his profession seriously. Having recently broken off an engagement, the last thing he needs is to reconnect with another ex-lover during an emergency extraction from the latter’s current undercover assignment. Still hurting and bitter, Charles isn’t prepared for all the ways his life spins out of control when a stalker complicates the situation, and all the secrets he’s tried to hide come crashing down on him. Ángel Medina has been living a lie for two years. When he was given the chance to go undercover and bring down one of the most notorious cartels on the ATF’s hit list, he had to take it. Letting go of the man he loved to do it wasn’t easy, but he wasn’t willing to live his life as someone’s “dirty little secret,” either. But, when his only contact to the real world goes missing, and an extraction is his only hope of survival, his past and present collide in ways he could never have expected. On initial examination, Can’t Hide from Me, by Cordelia Kingsbridge, had a lot going for it: a diverse cast of characters, strong personalities, a range of sexual identities, suspense, as well as a path to redemption and second chances. Yet, as I got further into the narrative, I found that there were a few issues that I was never able to accept or ignore enough to become truly engaged with the story. One of my biggest issues is that I thought there was too much sex for the story trying to support it. It’s not the actual quantity of sex scenes that bothered me exactly, it’s just that, due to the characters’ circumstances, and the suspenseful intent of the narrative, a majority of these encounters seem more gratuitous than purposeful. Given the nature of Ángel’s most recent undercover operation, as well as the addition of a stalker who’s clearly much closer than should have been possible with an elite ATF team, a lot of the sex in Can’t Hide from Me seems emotionally and mentally reckless, at best. I try to ignore the “heat ratings” of a story, however, so others may not have any qualms about the situation. While I usually love suspense and mystery in the stories I get to review, it just...
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Sep
6

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler Her Rogue Alpha Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: DNF / C What We’re Talking About: This is an odd review to write since only Una finished the book, but we do that we were disappointed with Layla and Jayson’s story. Una finished the novel, but found herself feeling let down.  The connection between Layla and Jayson was forged early in the series.  Their story is one we have waited for: a shifter who just joined the X-Ops and her wounded soldier.  However, Jayson is emotionally abusive.  The abuse is substantial enough to make us feel that there should possibly be trigger warnings for this book.  In the end he does apologize for being selfishly brooding in his disability, but it was long overdue.  He was brash and reckless in the beginning, and Layla accepted that all the pain he caused her was okay because he loves her.  Their reunion in a battlefield was odd and seemed untimely.  The plot of Jayson’s mission was convoluted and far-fetched – especially his abilities.  At the end of the novel, there is a revelation about Jayson that Layla reads and then destroys – without the reader being privy to it.  This carrot dangling was infuriating to Una.  Since this part of the story was told from Layla’s perspective, we should have been privy to the message.  It would have been preferable to have her destroy the note without looking. The plot that kept Una reading was regarding a thief.  This plot line is tied to the search for the enemy within the X-Ops.  Una found this storyline fascinating and intriguing.  And knowing it is not the end of seeing the thief, we hope to see her in a future novel. Gikany did not finish this novel.  The emotional abuse that begins between Layla and Jayson was too much.  By the 25% mark, the urge to have Layla punch Jayson and leave him was too great for Gikany.  She felt that there was no way he could redeem himself, and he just didn’t deserve her love.  Gikany could not stand to read anymore. Although we do agree that this novel did not go altogether well, Una was able to finish it.  Both Gikany and Una were disappointed in this long awaited story.  Una will read the next novel in the series but Gikany will not. Una’s Rating:  C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some Gikany’s Rating:  DNF – Did...
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Jul
26

Review: Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake

Review: Ultimate Courage by Piper J. Drake Ultimate Courage Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B-/C+ What We’re Talking About: Ultimate Courage is the second novel in the new True Heroes series. Though we enjoy the premise and the nature of this series, this novel struck an off-note with Gikany and Una. You need not have read the first novel in the series, Extreme Honor, to be able to enjoy this one.  So far it seems that these can be read as standalone, but that may change as the series continues.  What we really love about this series is that there are two happily-ever-afters in each novel. Or, should we say, the happily-ever-after involves three characters, our main couple and a dog. In Ultimate Courage you have the journey of Elisa and Alex as well as Sousa’s journey. We really enjoy how Sousa is a main character, not just a plot device.  Each dog has had a personality of their own, along with their own coming-of-age/challenge to overcome on their road to a happy ending. Sousa was a great character.  This German Shepherd dog was an interesting character.  We enjoyed his instincts as well as his development.  Though it was a bit obvious to us what his calling was as a working dog, it was fun to watch as the “silly humans” figured it out.  Another character that we really liked was Boom, Alex’s daughter.  Her spunky personality, coupled with her care and concern for others, was touching.  We really enjoyed the warmth and humor she brought to the novel.  We also enjoyed seeing David and Lyn (the major couple from the first novel) again.  Additionally, the story gives us a bit of an introduction to the next couple. Unfortunately what fell flat with us was a major plot point in this story.  As many followers of our reviews will know, we are very particular when it comes to characters that have suffered abuse.  Especially violent or long-term abuse, the treatment of the abuse and how a character reacts to it can be a pet-peeve with us depending on how an author addresses it. Though Ms. Drake is not as cavalier as some have been, we still felt that Elisa’s abuse was not as fully fleshed-out as it should have been.  For a woman who was in a four-year relationship characterized by extreme emotional abuse with the immediate threat of physical abuse, we felt her emotional and physical involvement with Alex was rushed. ...
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Jul
15

Review: Romanced by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Review: Romanced by a SEAL by Cat Johnson Romanced by a SEAL Author: Cat Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Having watched Jon and Ali fall for one another in the first Hot SEALs book, Night with a SEAL, I was excited to read their follow up story in Romanced by a SEAL. As the book opens, Jon and Ali have been living together for a while, but their relationship is stagnant. Unknown to his teammates/friends and Ali, Jon decides to take an off-the-record job going undercover to infiltrate ISIS. Of course his secrecy is causing all sorts of tension at home. Overall, I enjoyed Romanced by a SEAL, especially since Jon and Ali’s initial story concluded with an HFN ending. The couple went through some major ups and downs in this one, tugging at my heart more than once. While the first half of the book focused on Jon’s mission and the troubles between the pair, the second half was a joy to read, following the couple as they worked through their very serious issues and communication breakdown. Once the pair started talking and working through things, I felt the tempo of the book improved, and I sunk into the story more. As per usual, Ms. Johnson’s attention to military detail is impressive. I appreciated the detail and (I’ll assume) accuracy of Jon’s situation as he went undercover. However, for me, it felt a bit misplaced in this romance story, especially since it is on the shorter side. Personally, I want more relationship building and less seriousness in the first half of the book. Jon’s situation was very delicate and extremely serious, and while the author does a very good job keeping the tone appropriate to the situation, I felt that the military storyline overtook the romance for too much of the book. In the end, Romanced by a SEAL was a delightful read, and the second half of the book made up for any issues I had in the earlier parts of the story. While I had a couple small issues, the author did a great job eventually addressing any matters that concerned me. I like that, overall, the storylines felt realistic yet HEA. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: As a SEAL, Jon Rudnick dodged copper and lead without flinching, but just the thought of one tiny gold band around his ring finger sends him into a cold sweat. Love is one thing, but marriage is another. He’s...
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May
31

Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter

Review: At Any Cost by Mandy Baxter At Any Cost Author: Mandy Baxter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: Deputy U.S. Marshal Nick Brady hasn’t even been on the job three months and he’s already being reprimanded. Although he’s doing his job, on the side he’s been working off the grid, capturing the bad guys – taking work from other Deputies. Because of his inability to follow orders, Nick earned a mandatory one month leave of absence. But instead of using that time to reflect on his mistakes, he decides to pursue a most-wanted case, using a lead no one else tried. He’s going after Joel Meecum, ex-pres/member of the Black Death MC. Nick believes Joel’s ex is living under an assumed name in McCall, Idaho. Livy Gallagher has spent the last four years afraid for her life. Moving as necessary, changing her identity as often, she’s found some normalcy teaching ski lessons in McCall. But her life gets turned upside down when a sexy man moves into the rental unit across from hers. Livy needs to decide if she can trust this sexy stranger and allow herself the human companionship she so sorely misses. At Any Cost is filled with intense action and sultry sex scenes. But unfortunately, I never really got into the story or connected with the characters. Nick is an arrogant jerk who thinks because he is good at catching the bad guys, the rules don’t apply to him. Now, I’m all for the self-assured alpha male who does what he pleases. And I love me some vigilante Captain America who goes against authority because he is just and noble. But Nick is none of these. He only cares about winning, with little regard for his fellow Marshals. Granted we find out later his motivation for his obsessive actions, but by then, it has little impact on my feelings toward the character. The biggest problem is he doesn’t seem to learn from his behavior, and the book doesn’t deal with the outfall from his actions. I just never liked Nick enough to enjoy his story or romance. Livy, I mostly enjoyed. However her constant repetitive mantra that it is “better to be alone than dead” wore me down. Attracted to Nick from first sight, Livy felt a connection and trust that was borne out of loneliness, at least it seemed that way to me. Regardless, she decides to finally let her guard down and enjoy a human connection with Nick....
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May
18

Review: Deadly Testimony by Piper J. Drake

Review: Deadly Testimony by Piper J. Drake Deadly Testimony Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una liked this second novel in the Safeguard series.  Kyle and Lizzy are not the stereotypical couple in a military romance.  We enjoyed the honesty of their characters, their uniqueness, and their journey. Kyle and Lizzy do not have the typical roles that one sees in military romance.  Kyle is the “damsel” in the distress while Lizzy is the hero.  We enjoyed this change.  We liked how Kyle, although trained in martial arts, was not a fighter in that sense.  He was vulnerable, and we appreciated seeing a man struggle with the stress of being hunted.  Likewise, Lizzy is a stone-cold killer – when she needs to be.  Although this facet of her job has taken a toll, she was still warm and kind.  The warring character traits in Lizzy made her human.  The contrasts between Kyle and Lizzy complimented each other and we loved the respect Kyle had for her. For all of our enjoyment, we did encounter a couple of off notes.  We were slightly disappointed in the lack of background of Kyle. There was much about him that was alluded to, but not conveyed.  We understood his crimes, but not the full extent of his “badness”.  Don’t get us wrong, his selfish, egocentric ways lead him to being on the wrong side of the law, but he wasn’t inherently evil.  In fact, he was fairly noble and protective in his own ways, especially when he decided to clean up his act.  For all his faults, Kyle does try to do right. The other item is something of debate between Gikany and Una.  Gikany thought that Lizzy’s PTSD was minimized. It was mentioned in the beginning but never truly addressed.  Una thought that Lizzy wasn’t suffering from PTSD but struggling with the after-math of doing her job, compartmentalizing the realities of her role, and the job that she does as a sniper.  Either way, we found Lizzy’s battle-harden persona compelling as she protected Kyle while also falling for him. The plot of keeping Kyle safe from assassins was gripping. We liked the flow of the story and the rhythmic pace between the romance and the suspense.  Kyle and Lizzy were an intriguing couple and their honest, although quick, courtship and romance were mesmerizing.  Although the passion moved quickly, in the context of their roles, it was believable.  The bad...
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