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Currently Browsing: military/suspense romance
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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Nov
16

Review: Hidden Impact by Piper J. Drake

Review: Hidden Impact by Piper J. Drake Hidden Impact Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Although Gikany and Una are not huge romantic suspense readers, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to read PJ Schynder’s new series (written under the shiny new alter ego, Piper J. Drake).  Even though the romance may have moved a little too quickly (something Gikany and Una debated), the tension-packed storyline was incredibly gripping.  Hidden Impact is a stunning new start in the passionately suspenseful Safeguard series. We won’t lie, the lust starts early, but thankfully it is lust with the possibility of more.  Maylin is looking for a distraction and some comfort, and indulging in the attraction she has for Gabe (and since Gabe feels the same attraction and passion, he doesn’t refuse).  They don’t instantly fall in love.  They take the time to get to know each other.  However, Una thought this took place over a longer timeline than Gikany.  Either way, they take steps towards a true relationship which we really liked.  We liked how they do question themselves and what they want.  They both think about what the ramifications of a relationship would mean and what the future might hold for them.  These thoughts, along with the time spent, really grounded the characters, giving the romance an honesty we respected. What we enjoyed, though, was that Gabe and Maylin’s romantic journey was nicely woven with the plot of Maylin’s missing sister.  The complexity of the situation and the planning and research were fascinating to experience.  This was the strongest element of the story, with the romance being just a sweet treat along the way.  The balance between these two major plot lines was perfect, they were woven seamlessly together, and we really liked how it felt like each was equally important.  The realism of Gabe’s work felt grounded and well researched.  The tension and suspense of finding Maylin’s sister was well done and we found it was difficult to put the novel down. Hidden Impact is a great start to what may be a gripping and fascinating new romantic suspense series with a military flair.  It’s a great read to take with you and escape the world for a bit.  We can see ourselves reading it again because we really enjoyed the varied characters, the action and drama and the world that Ms. Drake created.  We eagerly look forward to the next installment in this new Safeguard series. Our...
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Nov
12

Review: Edge of Danger by Katie Reus

Review: Edge of Danger by Katie Reus Edge of Danger Author: Katie Reus Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Overall, we liked the latest installment in Ms. Reus’s Deadly Ops series, Edge of Danger.  The political suspense drama kept us glued to the pages even though the romantic journey struck an odd chord with us. After the last novel in the Deadly Ops series, we wondered who the newest big bad would be and what would happen next.  We were not disappointed.  Having the DEA agents we briefly met in the previous novel, Shattered Duty, take point in this one was a nice transition.  Tucker was a fascinating character in Shattered Duty and we liked getting to know him better.  However, having it start with the death of his mentor, Max, and his team targeted by assassins wasn’t quite what we had in mind.  As the story slowly unfolded, it was gripping to watch as Tucker tries to protect his team while clearing their names and finding out the truth behind Max’s death.  This overall plot that resolves at the end of the novel was interesting.  Even though we have the point of view of the villains, it was still mesmerizing to watch the team work to identify, locate, and apprehend them. What felt a bit odd was the romance between Tucker and Karen.  Although we appreciated their journey, it just happened so fast.  Considering it started with Tucker kidnapping Karen, we were surprised at the instant lust that was burning between them and how quickly the passion blossomed.  In the course of a week, Karen and Tucker go from kidnapper and victim to being in love.  It was a bit of a stretch for us.  However, the epilogue redeemed their love story for us.  We found the epilogue (which occurs six months later) to be funny, passionate, and sweet.  It was a delightful end that also showed that they had continued to date and get to know each other before jumping into anything. Overall, we liked Edge of Danger.  The political suspense was gripping, and although the romance moved too quickly for our tastes, the epilogue redeemed their story.  We look forward to more in this Deadly Ops series and can’t wait to see who will be the focus of the next novel. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a small issue About the Book: When an assassin tries to kill undercover DEA agent Tucker Pankov the same week...
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Nov
11

Review: One Touch More by Mandy Baxter

Review: One Touch More by Mandy Baxter One Touch More Author: Mandy Baxter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Parker Evans has been undercover for the U.S. Marshals long enough that he’s having trouble separating the “real” Parker from his undercover persona, Damien. He chooses to be called Damien and suppress his emotions so that he won’t become soft, making it difficult to fit in with the criminals when he goes back undercover. His current task is to try to capture an elusive drug dealer. Working as an assistant manager of a suites hotel, Tabitha Martin is trying to put herself through nursing school. She has a thing for bad boys, but unfortunately, her ex-boyfriend, Joey, is truly no good. This drug-dealing ex is blackmailing her into allowing deals to take place at her hotel. So when super-hottie Damien starts working for Joey, Tabitha tries her best to stay away from the trouble he will bring into her life. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as she would hope. Although I’ve liked the previous two titles in the U.S. Marshals series, they both were lacking a bit. Well, I figured out what the series has been missing… Damien Evans. Holy hell! He is a tattooed-bad-guy bit of yumminess. So long undercover, he’s seen and done things he can’t ever forgive. But his heart of gold shines when he finally meets the one person who makes his messed up world make sense. Damien is full of passion that infuses everything he does from taking out the criminals to loving his woman. And WOW do the sparks fly between Tabitha and Damien. Additionally, the overall action and undercover plot were exciting and seemed more realistic than the prior two stories, which made me very happy. Equally spectacular is Tabitha. She’s hard, tough, yet full of love. She protects what is hers and helps those who need it, even if they don’t deserve it. And she’s extremely perceptive and smart, which not only creates an interesting and engaging persona, but also prevents a story that could have easily been filled with one misunderstanding after another. I love that although both Tabitha and Damien have secrets, each allows the other to see bits and pieces of the real person below, leading to a deeper relationship. In the end, I really loved reading this story. One Touch More is an action-packed ride; utterly sexy, hot, and full of intense emotions. Having the story shared from dual POVs kept everything...
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Oct
2

Review: Loved by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Review: Loved by a SEAL by Cat Johnson Loved by a SEAL Author: Cat Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The story of SEALs falling in love continues with Brody’s story in Loved by a SEAL. Brody, younger brother of retired SEAL Chris Cassidy, is still on active duty and has been deployed for the past six months. When he returns stateside to find no one around, he realizes how much he’s missing, leaving him disconnected and out of sorts. Deciding to get some R & R, he heads home for a short break, where he runs into the one woman whom he ever loved, and who broke his heart ten years ago. Ashley Reed refused to give up her future as a nurse to follow her teenage love when he left for the Navy. Now she finds herself back in her hometown, helping her grandmother and the Cassidy family. When Brody walks in through the door and into her life again, she cannot deny the feelings she still has for him. Loved by a SEAL is another slice of life in the Hot SEALs universe. Like several of the previous stories, the book shares a budding romance between a man with a high-risk job and the woman who steals his heart, without taking the reader all the way to an HEA (happily ever after). If you are good knowing that the stories have HFN (happy for now) type endings, then this series is definitely worth the read. Brody and Ashley have a history, making their quick romance seem very realistic. The author perfectly captures those unrequited, long-lingering feelings left over from when Ashley walked out on Brody ten years prior, causing this reader to swoon just a bit. Their story is more about love and passion, rather than hot, steamy sex, which suits the story just fine. I was left with the feeling that this couple could actually make it work, and that made me happy. Overall, I really enjoy these wonderful little novellas for what they bring to the table: a bit of danger and action, a bit of love and romance. Sitting back, relaxing with a cup of tea and my Kindle, Loved by a SEAL made for a wonderful morning read. My Rating: B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Brody Cassidy. Navy SEAL. Southern boy. A guy’s guy. He likes beer and barbecue and the occasional visit to the backroom at the strip club just off base. What Brody doesn’t know is that all of...
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Sep
30

Review: Mine by HelenKay Dimon

Review: Mine by HelenKay Dimon Mine Author: HelenKay Dimon Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Sometimes I read a book and need to sit down and process what I’ve read. It takes me awhile to formulate my review. Mine was like that for me. In a good way. This third title in HelenKay Dimon’s Holton Woods series definitely brought lots of action—both in and out of the bedroom! It was a great balance, though. The pacing was quite well done. Many times in RS, there’s a chunk that’s all action and I ask myself, “Hey, where’s the sexytime?” That didn’t happen with Mine. I’m going to admit it: I was looking for a more Alpha-y male, based on the blurb. Color me pleasantly surprised. Gabe was actually a breath of fresh air from the chest-thumping, broody (well, okay…maybe he WAS a little broody…), alpha males we get in many D/s titles. And, this was a SUPER well done D/s title. The exchange of power was exceptional, in my opinion. I must admit, I had a girl-crush on Natalie. I was extremely impressed with her change/growth, too. Originally a hugely important CIA operative, seeing how she evolved as a character was intriguing. Nat was the type of person that holds a lot of her identity in her job. I mean, it was practically ALL she did for ages. It’s natural she would hesitate to give up control to someone. Completely realistic, actually. Through the course of the story, we see the evolution of Natalie’s identity, and we also are able to capture her shift of worth. That ‘aha’ moment, for me, caused a whole lotta self-reflection. We’re often relegated to roles, and that’s how we see ourselves. Whether our main roles are professional or personal—like answering to Mum or Dad—we often see our entire identity wrapped up in that singular role. Even though we’re MUCH more than the singular role. It was almost the whole ‘when one door closes, a window opens’ thing. Or, at least it felt that way to me. Natalie turns out to be a pretty cool chick. I’d totally hang out with her… after we’re sure the CIA is off her ass. Gabe is a really complex character. He has so many facets, and the way he was presented was cloaked in mystery for part of the novel. I liked it. And, I never predicted one of the familial reveals. Looking at Gabe as a protector isn’t difficult. He...
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Aug
24

Review: Ricochet by Keri Lake

Review: Ricochet by Keri Lake Ricochet Author: Keri Lake Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Ricochet eviscerated me. I felt drawn and quartered near the end. And then, Ms. Lake—with the precision of a surgeon—stitched all my pieces back together. This is not a title for the squeamish; the author put a warning in her blurb for a reason, folks. This book is NOT for everyone. It IS graphic, like the author states. But, if you really like great urban contemporary romantic suspense, this is DEFINITELY a book to put in your TBR. So. The graphic violence. I live in Michigan. I hear about Detroit all the time. I drive through the city and hope I don’t take a wrong exit off the highway. I know there’s bad stuff that happens in the nooks and crannies where no one is looking. And, I know there’s people that turn a blind eye to all the illegal happenings. Ricochet takes all those eventualities and lumps them together in an organized, non-chaotic manner. I connected to the setting because I’ve seen it. I work with kids every day that have lived there. I see the product of that environment. Ms. Lake brings to life the horrors of what some of us, raised in Hicksville or Suburbia, can only imagine. Yes, there’s graphic violence. But it’s not gratuitous or sensational. It’s planned and purposeful. Methodical. There’s a reason for every single act described. And, it *could* have been more graphic and it wouldn’t have bothered me, but that wouldn’t have fit the plot arc. While each character introduced was planned and purposeful, Nick, one of our main characters, is an enigma. I was immediately drawn to him in that strange way I sometimes connect with characters that are so unlike me. I take that back. Nick *is* like me in several ways. He just acts on the impulses and dark thoughts I keep securely locked in my imagination. It’s almost like he’s been created as a living, breathing, one-man-show of all the things I know aren’t allowed. He actually reminded me of Wolverine a little. I had a hard time figuring him out, getting a handle on all that was going on with him. We learn early on that Nick’s wife and young son were killed by a gang, sent forth to ‘clean up’ part of Detroit. And, by ‘clean up’, I mean burn down the houses so the land can be sold for new development....
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