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Currently Browsing: military/suspense romance
May
2

Review: The Trouble with Temptation by Shiloh Walker

Review: The Trouble with Temptation by Shiloh Walker The Trouble with Temptation Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I have been waiting for this book. I needed to know what was going to happen with Brannan and Hannah. If you haven’t read the first title in the series, Headed for Trouble, you should get on that. The Trouble with Temptation picks up where the first title in The McKays series leaves off. Ms. Walker’s writing is engaging and drew me in from the start. We’re immediately dropped back in the world of the McKays, with our focus on Hannah and Brannan—who were introduced in the previous title. There are innumerable examples, but one of my favorite passages was Hannah’s description of Brannan at the beginning of Chapter Six: “He was too big. He was too beautiful. Even after the past few days, Hannah was hard-pressed to come up with any other summation of Brannon McKay. She wasn’t talking about his physical appearance, either, although he sure as hell didn’t lack for that, either. Everything about him was larger than life.” What we learn through the course of this title is that Hannah has amnesia and doesn’t remember the stuff at the end of the previous title. Even when she doesn’t trust herself, as a reader, I find myself rooting for her. She’s not the whiny, take-a-backseat-to-a-powerful-man woman. Nope. She knows she’s got this on her own—even pregnant. She keeps her independence through times that are *ahem* less than fun, and maintains a sense of self even when things are going well. She’s frustrated at all the right things, and while I’ve never experienced amnesia (lucky…there’s times I’d *like* to forget things…), but I hope I’d be the same. I really adore Hannah and the way her character develops and grows through this part of the series arc. Now. Brannan. If ever there were a rich Alpha male, Brannan is probably the poster child. He doesn’t throw his money around, but he doesn’t deny he’s got it, either. It’s just a part of who he is. While there’s some skeletons hanging in his closet, regarding Hannah, he really is the perfect person for her. He just isn’t secure enough in himself to ‘come clean’ with some details. I think a BIG part of what drives the plot of The Trouble with Temptation is the suspense aspect of the plot. Introduced in the first title of the series, there’s some trouble afoot, dear reader....
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Apr
25

Review: The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Review: The Obsession by Nora Roberts The Obsession Author: Nora Roberts Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Nora Roberts is a prolific writer.  As such, she is known for a certain predictability, if not being formulaic in her writing style.  Her ardent fans like this about her style.  I have enjoyed a few of her books over the years, but haven’t necessarily sought them out.  The Obsession was not at all what I expected from Roberts.  Like so many of her other books, The Obsession was not just a story of an empowered woman looking to build a new life after some kind of insert-male-oppression-here and stumbles upon a trust-worthy love. While it had those elements, The Obsession felt different in a fresh way for Roberts. Told in sections, the writing is surprisingly intimate.  While it does have some predictability, I figured out “who done it” about two-thirds of the way through, I enjoyed the metered pacing.  The addition of a murder mystery subplot dispelled the contrived feeling that can come from contemporary romance where they have to kiss by page “this” and be a couple by page “that.” Rather, the story unfolded in a cautious, true-to-life amble that lets intimacy build, even sneaking up on main characters Naomi Bowes and Xander Keaton.  I loved that Roberts even paused to give us that moment when they each knew they were in love with the other. The first section is a true departure for Roberts and sucked me in immediately.  It begins with an eleven year old Naomi, dreaming of the bicycle she hopes will be her birthday present.  On this hot, sticky summer night she wakens early, willing a breeze to break up the heat.  With her face to the window and unable to go back to sleep, she spies her father going into the woods with a flashlight.  She follows, hoping for a glimpse at the bike that maybe he has stashed somewhere to keep it a secret.  What she finds is not a dream bicycle, it is the reality that her father is one of the most notorious serial killer/rapists of all time. Naomi’s experiences, as they’re unfolded to us, step by step through the woods, felt real. The daze she’s in while she reacts to what she finds felt real.  By the end of section one, I had to finish the book. The obvious next question for Naomi is what now? She begins to  question everything she thought she knew. ...
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Mar
18

Review + Giveaway: Between Ghosts by Garrett Leigh

Review + Giveaway: Between Ghosts by Garrett Leigh Between Ghosts Author: Garrett Leigh Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Losing his older brother to a war he’s never agreed with would have been bad enough for Connor Regan to live with, but for that hurt remain adrift with no understanding to anchor it is worse. Going on assignment with a SAS team that’s seen the worst the war has to offer—and to one of the most dangerous regions there is—seems like his best chance for some answers. What he finds will change him forever, and lead him to the first man Connor isn’t sure he can survive without. Sergeant Nathan Thompson isn’t a man with a lot of time on his hands. With one mission beginning almost before the previous one has ended, he can’t seem to find the hours to sleep, much less babysit a civilian reporter who’s managed to be embedded with his team. But, the “hack” gets under his skin faster than Nat ever imagined he would, and keeping Connor safe quickly becomes far more than just an obligation. Ordinarily, the speed with which Connor and Nat become attached would have concerned me. But, Between Ghosts is set in the middle of a never-ending war, and that, justifiably, made a huge difference. That a physical connection could be a balm in the midst of so much destruction, and that the heart might just as quickly follow—especially when time inherently must be counted so differently—I could easily accept. Ms. Leigh depicts the temporary nature of living through war very convincingly, making the relationship that evolves between the two men something worth cherishing, rather than dismissing. I found both Connor and Nat easy to believe in. Neither was very predictable, and accepting that their different personalities might be complimentary wasn’t a problem. At first, there seems to be little more to Nat than the gruff Sergeant whose responsibilities weigh so heavily on him. However, this proves not to be the case. Connor, in contrast, has plenty going on from the start, including his own, personal undertaking, and watching that mission disintegrate as his understanding of the situation increased made me feel as badly for him as I did for the soldiers he accompanied. Connor and Nat aren’t the only characters that stood out in Between Ghosts. It didn’t seem as if there were any negligible characters to me, each being imbued with such individuality and heartfelt connection to one another that I held my...
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Feb
24

Review: A Covert Affair by Katie Reus

Review: A Covert Affair by Katie Reus A Covert Affair Author: Katie Reus Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: A Covert Affair is the fifth offering in the Deadly Ops series.  This romantic suspense series follows ultra-secretive NSA operatives as they combat evil (both domestic and foreign) while finding their soulmates along the way.  Gikany and Una overall liked the story of Nathan and Amelia. In this installment we follow Nathan, an operative who was wounded in the previous novel.  He has recovered and is returning to duty on a mission that reconnects him to his lost love, Amelia.  When they were young, Amelia broke Nathan’s heart and it seems neither of their hearts has recovered.  Nathan wants to know why Amelia ended things so they can have a fresh start.  Amelia is afraid once Nathan knows the truth, she will lose him forever.  Further complicating the rekindling of their romance, Amelia is connected to a suspect and Nathan’s boss wants to use her to gain information about him.  Although Amelia is a civilian, she is tough, smart, determined and capable of handling this subterfuge.  However, there is more at play than it seems and someone has Amelia in their deadly sights. We truly enjoyed Amelia and Nathan’s journey.  Their previous connection gave a foundation and depth to the sizzling attraction we experienced.  Although the reason for Amelia’s abrupt dissolution of her relationship with Nathan was easily figured out, Nathan’s reaction was not.  We liked that what Amelia feared would be an unforgivable offense was neither trivialized nor overly played.  Both showed maturity, though they did lack some open and honest communication, and being privy to their individual thoughts gave credence to their reactions.  Their story is what kept Gikany and Una glued to the page. The story about the missing women, however, was not quite to our liking.  This was partially due to how the plot line played out, but mostly because the motivation behind the missing women was depraved and creepy.  Without giving anything away, it seemed the antagonists did not thoroughly grasp the ramifications of their nefarious plot.  It would have made more sense to have preserved more of the victims, thus keeping their operation better hidden.  The mastermind behind the operation was surprising, however.  Although it is well foreshadowed, it was easy to dismiss this character. Although it is not clear whom the next book will focus on, we look forward to reading the next suspenseful installment in...
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Feb
24

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

Review: Strong Signal by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Strong Signal Authors: Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Garrett Reid has a long way to go until the end of his latest—and last—deployment. All he wants to do is to put in his hours working on the vehicles at the base and log some time on his favorite MMORPG. But, the untimely demise of his character at the hands of a ringer leads him on a quest for payback that turns into something entirely unexpected. Gamer extraordinaire Kai Bannon is mostly happy in his carefully constructed world. He’s got a highly successful Twitch stream, a steady income from several gaming companies, and a loyal following that provides him with plenty of backup whenever the creeps come out to play. But when a surly Army mechanic reaches out from halfway around the globe, Kai can’t help but want more of what the man is offering. It would be perfect if the idea of venturing beyond the walls of his apartment didn’t leave him shaking in a cold sweat. I had been itching to get my hands on this story since the moment it was teased online a couple of months ago, and I’m very happy to say it was better than I imagined it would be. Strong Signal absolutely nails the intricacies of online relationships, and wonderfully validates the potential to form genuine connections with others that would never be possible in the “real world.” As someone who has made several of my most meaningful friendships via the internet, I couldn’t agree more. In this first offering from what is sure to be an exceptionally relatable and compelling series, Ms. Erickson and Mr. Hassell tackle a lot of simple truths about the bonds that are sometimes formed on the internet, and do so in a matter-of-fact way that made perfect sense to me. The emotions themselves might be complicated, but the fact that they manifest legitimately is not. Though it certainly isn’t a flawless system, the boundless essence of the internet offers Kai and Garrett more opportunities to explore their own natures in ways that simply aren’t possible where an abundance of physical proximity extinguishes the desire or ability to do so. Fairly early in the story, Garrett says: “But things were different via email. The words just came out.” I found both Garrett and Kai to be frustrating, entertaining, and enormously likable characters. They are so different in many ways, and yet they...
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Feb
11

Review: Midnight Revenge by Elle Kennedy

Review: Midnight Revenge by Elle Kennedy Midnight Revenge Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I’ve been reading the Killer Instinct series from the beginning. I’ve been ITCHING to get my hands on D’s story. Until now, he reminded me a lot of J.R. Ward’s Zhadist. I think I’m still processing his character a little, but I’m not quite as inclined to draw the comparison anymore. Here’s the thing, everyone loves a damaged hero. It seems the more screwed up they are, the more we fall for them. While I may have swooned a time or two over D’s jaded innocence, I don’t think he’s my new book boyfriend or anything. Don’t get me wrong—I do honestly super like this book. I’m just not as connected to D as I thought I’d be. We find out a lot of backstory about him. It’s not pretty, folks (and I didn’t expect it to be). While there’s absolutely nothing on-page, there’s pedophilia mentioned several times. I don’t think there was as much character growth as I wanted to see with D, either. It was probably unreasonable of me to have expectations going in for this title and this character. I really like Sofia, though. She has the ability—like most doctors, I assume—to deal with a situation in-the-moment and freak out about it later. When she becomes pregnant after a one-and-done with D, I applaud her for the way she intends to handle it. She’s willing to raise the baby on her own, and feels like she’s totally got this. What surprised me was how bad ass Sofia was. While she may have been shaking like a leaf on the inside, her calm, cool exterior gave her street cred with the baddies. And impressed D. There’s Boston/Sully news, folks. That’s all I’m gonna say. Besides I want the Boston/Sully book. Midnight Revenge by Elle Kennedy could be read as a stand-alone, I think—but readers would be seriously jonesing for more about this band of mercenaries and inhale the backlist. I look forward to more titles in the Killer Instincts series. My Rating: B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Out of all the stone-cold mercenaries in Jim Morgan’s black ops organization, Derek “D” Pratt is the most intimidating. He is tight-lipped and covered in tattoos, and even the other guys on his team are afraid to ask him about his past. D’s been off the grid for years, but after his teammate Sullivan...
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Jan
26

Review + Giveaway: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake

Review + Giveaway: Extreme Honor by Piper J. Drake Extreme Honor Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Extreme Honor is the exciting debut novel in the True Heroes series.  I enjoyed the captivating story of David, Lyn, and Atlas. Suffice to say, I can’t wait for more in this gripping series that combines hot military men, their loyal canine companions, and the women they love. This novel sets up Hope’s Crossing Kennel, where David works with two other ex-military men.  They train dogs for anything from basic house pets to military working dogs and in between.  Atlas, a Belgian Malinois, has been returned to David to rehabilitate. Atlas, a military multipurpose dog, is mourning the loss of his handler, Calhoun, who happens to be a friend of David’s and who died overseas.  It seems he was killed in a friendly fire accident, but David doesn’t believe the story that is being told and knows that Atlas holds the key.  Figuring out the truth and avenging his friend is something David is determined to find out.  However, his life is complicated by Lyn, a contractor sent to assist with the rehabilitation of Atlas.  David instantly resents Lyn’s presence while Lyn is hell-bent on helping Atlas heal.  However, when Atlas shows the first sign of life by acknowledging Lyn’s presence, he has no choice but to let her help.  But by letting her help, it seems she is placed in the cross hairs of those that killed David’s friend, and she may be next. I really enjoyed the chemistry between David and Lyn.  Though their romance moved fast, I liked that they did have time to get to know each other.  David is very patient though determined.  Lyn has a good heart and tries to think things through.  Though she sometimes thinks herself in circles, I could completely relate to her inner monologue.  However, she does have a habit of being a bit spontaneous and headstrong.  Because we are given both David and Lyn’s point of view, it made their journey so much more compelling.  Both Lyn and David have their own issues that affect how they see each other, especially long term.  Therefore their HEA was even more meaningful as they came together. I especially liked that David’s demons were not overplayed but something that he had already dealt with. The overall plot of Calhoun’s death and the fate of Atlas was gripping.  The conspiracy was interesting and the twist at the end...
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Jan
5

Review + Excerpt: Headed for Trouble by Shiloh Walker

Review + Excerpt: Headed for Trouble by Shiloh Walker Headed for Trouble Author: Shiloh Walker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Shiloh Walker. I should know better than to read one of her books and expect a casual read. Call me Holiday Impaired, or whatever, but I picked up Headed for Trouble expecting to sit down and read for a while, you know, before I started doing what I needed to accomplish for the day. Nope. DEVOURED IT. Good thing I didn’t have anything super important on the schedule, because I’m pretty sure I would’ve been that girl who canceled plans because she needed to sit on her couch, wrapped in a blanket, finishing a phenomenal book. I’m not sure how Ms. Walker does it; she manages to find a way to really connect with me at least once a year. I’m pretty sure Headed for Trouble is that book for 2016. In 2013, it was Beautiful Scars and Wrecked. 2014 brought Razed, and 2015’s book was Busted. And, I’m not sure exactly how to write this review without spoiling the intense plot. But I’m going to try. I really liked all the characters in Headed for Trouble, the first title in Walker’s new McKays series. Brannan and Moira McKay, Gideon, Hannah—I’m pretty sure readers have been set-up for the entire series with these intense and relatable characters. I’m also pretty sure we know who hooks up with whom, as well ☺ I like going into a series with predictions, and I trust Ms. Walker to take me on a rollercoaster until they reach their happily ever after. Brannan and Moira are Neve’s siblings, and play a major role in this title. I think we learned a lot about their personalities—especially Brannan—and have a great foundation for the development of future titles in the series. Gideon and Hannah are great characters, and support a host of purposes in Headed for Trouble, besides setting up future titles. Ian, one of our main characters, is a Scot in a kilt with a brogue. Panty. Melting. I think I fell so hard for him as a hero because he reminds me a lot of Mr. VampBard. He’s supportive, and he listens to Neve. He reads her body language. Most of all, I think I really connected with him because he didn’t let her wallow in a pool of self-pity. He made her want to be a better person, and I think everyone involved—especially her family—saw that as a good...
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Dec
28

Review: Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy

Review: Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy Kill Without Mercy Author: Alexandra Ivy Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Rafe Vargas and four close friends were prisoners and survivors of war. Two years after returning to the U.S., the group decides to start ARES Security in Texas. With the firm on the brink of opening, Rafe is called away to deal with his deceased grandfather’s estate in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. Annie White had a new job at a prestigious accounting firm, but after six months, she quit. She’s the daughter and only survivor of the Newton Slayer, a mass murderer known for killing women when Annie was a young girl. Annie claims to have had visions of the murders AS THEY HAPPENED … and two nights ago, those visions returned. Now she’s decided to go back to Newton, Iowa, where it all happened, to find out what is going on and why the visions have returned. Kill Without Mercy is the exciting first book in a new romantic suspense series by Alexandra Ivy. The book is engaging right from the get go, and I had a tough time putting it down. At only one chapter into the book, the author had already pulled out not one, but two mysteries, plus some family drama, without making it overwhelming. The world building was accomplished over the course of the book, mainly through the interactions and dialogue between Rafe and his companions, weaving seamlessly into the storytelling. When Rafe spots Annie at a local diner, he’s instantly attracted to her like no other. So when he sees that she’s clearly rattled, Rafe jumps in to help Annie out. And when he discovers the dangers that surround Annie, his inner-hero rises up, and he feels the need to protect her. Rafe calls in his buddies to help get to the bottom of the murders. I completely appreciated that Ms. Ivy wove so much world-building and hints about the other characters into this first book. She didn’t just introduce them and then have them in the background. Rafe and his counterparts are more than a team-they are a family; therefore important to the overall story and series. The story behind the mystery was gripping, and I was wrapped up trying to solve it along side the characters. The thing was, I got so caught up in the mystery, and it was a gruesome one at that, that the romance felt out of place. I just didn’t...
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Dec
23

Review + Blog Tour: Part & Parcel by Abigail Roux

Review + Blog Tour: Part & Parcel by Abigail Roux Part & Parcel Author: Abigail Roux Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: After months of concern over so many beloved characters, and successfully avoiding all of the spoilers I possibly could, I was very pleased to discover that Part & Parcel ended up being even more wonderful than I had anticipated. Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott have been favorites of mine for ages, and the introduction of the Sidewinder stories helped ease the distress that accompanied the ending of the Cut & Run series, which I have always loved tremendously. Kelly and Nick are absolutely perfect for each other, and, while I’ve always wanted them to be happy, there was never any doubt that their path would be a difficult one. Though it is told primarily from Nick and Kelly’s perspectives, Part & Parcel is inarguably an ensemble effort. All of the surviving members of Sidewinder (and Zane) share a good amount of screen time once their (literal) journey begins—a facet of the novel that was welcome after having just said goodbye to them after Crash & Burn earlier this year. Zane, in particular, even shares narrating duties, which proved to be a very effective way of making me feel like a participant in the narrative, not merely an observer. One of the things that makes Part & Parcel unique is the combination of flashbacks and shifting narrators, along with the humor and answering sweetness and melancholy inspired by Elias Sanchez’s missives, that make up the entirety of the story. The team’s memories and Eli’s own words comfortably fade back and forth from one to the other, effectively transforming the ghost of a man who’s haunted these characters since Cut & Run into a real person within Part & Parcel’s pages. The result is that the audience is able to get to know Elias Sanchez over the course of the team’s journey, just as Zane, who is the “outsider” of the group, does. Ms. Roux is notorious for torturing her characters, and she does an especially thorough job of it in Part & Parcel. Nick and Kelly have been together long enough at this point that the issues they haven’t dealt with yet become a serious problem over the course of the story. Every single one of these men have a lot of lingering darkness from their time in service, as well as many events that followed, but poor Nick is positively drowning in it. On the...
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