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Currently Browsing: military/suspense romance
Aug
11

Review: The Espionage Effect by Kat & Stone Bastion

Review: The Espionage Effect by Kat & Stone Bastion The Espionage Effect Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Shhh. Don’t judge me. If I ever have the privilege to meet Kat & Stone Bastion, I’ll totally fangirl all over them. That’s a warning, and everyone should save me from embarrassing myself.The Espionage Effect grabbed me by the neurons, tossed in some endorphins, a healthy dose of hormones, and let the adrenaline soar. In other words, it was one helluva ride. I was completely intrigued when I learned about The Espionage Effect. It’s no secret I’ve been a Kat fan from the first page of Forged in Dreams and Magick (also, ITCHING for Born of Mist and Legend…), and my love of her writing extended—and possibly expanded—in the No Weddings series, co-authored by her awesome hubs, Stone. Naturally, I was entirely geeked to read The Espionage Effect. Gotta be honest. I’m picky about my romantic suspense titles/authors. I kind of have to know they’re solid in their craft before I’ll dive in and read. I know. Not fair. It’s the only way I can do RS, though. Readers will find that while this title is sort of romantic suspense, it’s really more action-adventure—with the usual suspense tossed in for that genre. The romance IS there. And… It. Is. Sooooo. Hot!!! Tall, cool glass of somethin’-somethin’ needed, folks. And a fan. And maybe a fainting couch to catch you when you swoon. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I write a lot about how I connect with characters. The Espionage Effect review is no different. I feel like I *know* these characters. I *understand* their backstories. I *empathize* with them and their situations. Well, not the whole spy part. The closest I’ve come to being a spy is when I sit at Starbucks and people watch… and make up their ‘story’ as I observe. This was an extremely fast-paced book. I don’t think there was really any down-time; nowhere obvious to take a break from reading (although I was forced to, grudgingly, put my Kindle down in favor of interacting with people, periodically). One event led logically and seamlessly to the next throughout the title. The few minor characters in The Espionage Effect are necessary to round out the plot, are not extraneous, and are all planned and purposeful. No fluff or incidental characters to clog my brain. All the minor characters were likable (until they’re meant to NOT be likable),...
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Aug
5

Review: Protected by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Review: Protected by a SEAL by Cat Johnson Protected by a SEAL Author: Cat Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Forced into an early retirement after injury while serving as a Navy SEAL, Rick Mann is bored of his day job and misses the action. Although he likes the private security firm, GAPS, that he started with his former teammates and best friends, Rick has yet to experience time in the field. So when GAPS is offered a job providing private security, Rick jumps at the chance to take the job without knowing any of the details. Sierra Cox works hard and respects her bosses, so she doesn’t want to have any time away from her job as an actress. However when it looks like Sierra’s stalker may want to harm her, GAPS insists she gets away for a while. Spending alone time with her sexy bodyguard, Sierra ponders the benefits of a fling with Rick. Overall, I enjoyed Protected by a SEAL, even more than I thought based on the blurb. I was worried that Rick and Sierra would spend a lot of time picking on the stereotype of the other. But other than some mild generalizations, each was respectful of the other’s occupation, which made the story more pleasurable (although around the halfway point, Rick does start to refer to Sierra as “princess,” which annoyed me). However, the pair has wonderful chemistry, and I found myself cheering for them. And while it’s not a complex story, there is enough character development and plot to make it interesting. I did have one thing that really bothered me about the story. When the pair finally have sex, although it was hot and steamy, and the fact that he’s her bodyguard aside, Rick doesn’t bother using a condom. He made assumptions that frankly, were unprofessional and I felt went too far, which kind of ruined the scene for me. Apart from that instance, generally, the story flows well. The action and romance make for a quick and entertaining read. Like the previous stories in the series, Protected by a SEAL has more of an HFN (happily for now) ending than an HEA (happily ever after). Sierra and Rick’s romance isn’t over, and it may never work, but for now it is sweet, sexy, and passionate. I have to take the story at face value and enjoy it for what it is, rather than think about the long-term. It’s tough because I wonder how will...
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Jun
23

Review: Safe at Last by Maya Banks

Review: Safe at Last by Maya Banks Safe at Last Author: Maya Banks Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Maya Banks’ Slow Burn series has been a wild rollercoaster of a ride. I had high hopes for Safe at Last, but I ended up being pretty meh about it. First, I read an ARC. I edit books, I know things change. However, I felt like the first 2/3 of the book was slow, rehashed a bazillion things we knew already without much purpose. Maybe this was looked at in the final version (and I hope so). I came VERY close to not finishing this title at about the 45% mark because I just couldn’t stomach the rehashing anymore. Dramatic eye-rolling may have ensued. And I may have groaned in disgust a few times. After about the 60% mark, the story picked up. Things fell in line parallel to how I’m used to Ms. Banks’ stories rolling. I’m not going to tell readers to skim-read chunks of a book, but it really was worth getting to this point for me. The last 40% of Safe at Last saved the title from a D rating from me. Gracie started out as a really timid, whiny character for me. I didn’t even really see her character growth until that last 40%, and it was BAM! There it was. I ended up liking her, because she turns pretty badass at the end. And she loves Zack, who definitely deserves it. She had dealt with an ultimate mind-fu*$ when she was merely a child, and the effects lasted through her adulthood. A long twelve years. Can’t really tell you much about Gracie, without spoilers, except her character growth was worth trudging through the first 60% of the book. It was really intriguing to get to know Zack. We haven’t learned much about him in previous titles of the Slow Burn series, but seeing this highly-trained, and dangerous in his own right dude completely flattened. His vow of vengeance is not taken lightly, and I’m not even sure how Ms. Banks wrote his character, having to bring him and his white-hot need for justice to heel. I clearly liked Zack better than Gracie. He felt so broken from the beginning of the book, and even though the beginning seemed to be just tormenting him more, we ended up seeing Zack’s true colors at the end. Definitely read the first two titles of the Slow Burn series before taking on Safe...
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Jun
16

Review: Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy

Review: Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy Midnight Captive Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I thought Elle Kennedy’s Killer Instincts series couldn’t get any better. After Morgan & Noelle’s book, I didn’t think *any* hero besides D would do for me. Well, I was wrong. Sean and Bailey LIT UP the pages of Midnight Captive. Full of sexual tension and intense hotness, I don’t even know if I can pick a favorite Hottie McNaughtyBody from Morgan’s crew anymore. Oh, and suspense? I NEVER saw that ending coming. NEV-ER. I really like Bailey. With her own secrets, revealed within the novel, she is the perfect pairing for Sean. I identified with her as a character because she won’t be ‘owned’. And that’s something I’ve learned over time, and hopefully taught my girls. With her strength, Bailey also has a measure of vulnerability, however. Until now, this was one aspect of her that wasn’t seen. Her past collides with her present during the course of Midnight Captive, and tensions run high for a bit there. As she developed as a character, layers were peeled away to reveal the ‘inner Bailey’. During the course of the series, I thought she was unreachable, untouchable, and aloof. And to be totally honest, I had to be convinced she would be able to open up to Sean. Ms. Kennedy fully delivered. I ended up loving the interaction between Sean and Bailey. Between Bailey and the Dagger. And, how she handled herself against the big meanies. But, we knew she was pretty badass already. Take a set of highly intelligent twins. Add in a dash of brilliance, a hint of irreverence, and you’ve got Sean. The way he flies by the seat of his pants is nothing short of impressive. To be honest, Sean grew on me. He tugged at my heartstrings. I thought he was totally crazy. Bottom line? Sean made me fall for him. I became invested in his cause, and wanted his plan to work. I wanted him to be free to be with Bailey, and I didn’t want him hurt. There were so many times a plan could’ve gone south in this book—but Sean managed to rise to the occasion and kept those he loved safe. Sean’s capacity for love was the biggest draw for me, I think. The way he loved his twin so selflessly, how he instinctually wanted to protect Bailey. Even down to his compassion for Rabbit (you’ll find out...
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Jun
2

Review: Shattered Duty by Katie Reus

Review: Shattered Duty by Katie Reus Shattered Duty Author: Katie Reus Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Shattered Duty is our favorite Deadly Ops novel so far! We enjoyed the story of Levi and Selene. We liked the connections between them and the slow burn of their romance. Despite an overwhelming initial attraction, the time they take made their romance solid and believable. Considering the emotional scars that Levi has, their slow pace was perfect. The conflicts and challenges in their relationship were also spot-on, considering how they met. We really enjoyed how they worked and struggled with each other as they tried to not just get what they wanted but also get themselves to where they needed to be. The story of the antagonist was also really good. He was a fitting nemesis, and we enjoyed the tightening of the noose as Levi and Selene got closer to finding him. The final battle was both action-packed and a bit humorous. The unexpected allies were a nice touch and we enjoyed the intrigue of the storyline. The only jarring note was that Selene has so many skills at her age. She is both a master hacker and a skilled assassin. Since she is invaluable as a computer guru, we are amazed that she was allowed to be an assassin too. We can understand her being a computer genius, but then to go on and excel at assassin work without military training is a bit much. Overall we continue to enjoy the Deadly Ops series. It is a fun, action-packed, tension-filled series. If you haven’t picked it up, you might just want to, but we recommend starting from the beginning. Levi’s story starts in a previous novel so it would make Shattered Duty mean more if you have the benefit of the previous books. Our Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: When his wife was murdered two years ago, Special Agent Levi Lazaro turned his back on everything he cared about. Ever since, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. Now he’s finally uncovered the identities of those who killed his wife—and he’s ready to destroy them at any cost. He won’t let anything stand in his way—not even a beautiful NSA agent on a mission of her own. Special Agent Selene Wolfe prides herself on being the best. Her fearlessness and quick-thinking make her the perfect person to take down a deadly terrorist cell. But she needs Levi’s help, and...
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May
19

Review + Giveaway: Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane

Review + Giveaway: Behind the Mask by Carolyn Crane Behind the Mask Author: Carolyn Crane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: As a former CIA agent and co-founder of The Associates, Zelda knows she has no choice but to step in on behalf of her twin sister Liza, who is going to be “loaned to” a Mexican drug cartel for the weekend. Although she hasn’t been undercover in six years, since the mission that broke her, she understands that getting into Brujos’ territory would save countless lives. However, when things go horribly wrong and Zelda is further traded to the dangerous El Gorrion cartel, she realizes that she may have to break cover and escape. Hugo is a loaner, but enjoys his isolated life outside of Buena Vista, Valencia. However, when El Gorrion’s men threaten the town and its rare savincas crop, Hugo knows he must resurrect a dangerous ghost from his past. When he finds an American prostitute among the men he goes after, he decides to take her captive to help him around the house, seeing something more in her eyes that the woman she claims to be. I absolutely love The Associates series, and think Behind the Mask may be my favorite title of the series. I love how the author parcels out clues and information, while the reader waits to see how it will all play out. The suspenseful storyline is intelligent and exciting. And Ms. Crane’s story makes me feel. There were parts when I was afraid to read the book because I knew it would have to get bad before it got good. Bringing me into the world and keeping me so emotionally and mentally engaged made for a very rewarding read. Additionally, there are some intense scenes between Zelda and her co-founder, Dax, that are all the more powerful for those who’ve read the series from the beginning. I completely adored both main characters. Even though she’s one of the Associates’ founders, we’ve never really known anything about Zelda, so she felt like a fresh, new character to me. She is haunted, and this journey is very cathartic. Since part of the story is shared from her POV, the reader is privy to the wide array of emotions and steps she must go through to begin to heal. Her passion and inner-fire were a complete joy to read. Likewise, Hugo had his own path of self-discovery, realizing that the ghosts he’d laid to rest are still under the...
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May
15

Review: Chasing Danger by Katie Reus

Review: Chasing Danger by Katie Reus Chasing Danger Author: Katie Reus Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: For fans of the Deadly Ops series, Chasing Danger is an exciting and passionate novella.  Although it had been awhile since Gikany and Una had read the last books, we did remember Hannah, Sophie’s friend from the first book who also makes a cameo in the second. We liked Hannah and Dax’s journey.  Since it was so short, it helped that they had a past together.  The obstacles in their relationship were serious, but we liked how they communicated and overcame them.  Their communication was really good once Sophie moved past the hurt that kept her deaf to Dax’s pleas.  We loved Dax’s integrity.  Having his point of view really helped us to not only understand the difficult position he was in, but it also clearly showed his desire and commitment to Sophie. The ruthless antagonist story arc did stretch our belief and reality a bit, but it was still an enjoyable read in a good military suspense/romance series. For a person to be so intelligent and yet so dense seemed a bit strange, but it did give credibility to his off-kilter sanity. Overall, fans of this series will enjoy this short novella and we encourage them to read it.  We enjoyed this treat and look forward to more in the series. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Chief Nursing Officer Hannah Young is accustomed to working under pressure, but even she’s still reeling in the aftermath of a horrific terrorist attack on Miami. And things only get worse after a knife wielding maniac tries to kill her. Desperate for help, Hannah must turn to the one man she never thought she’d see again. After spending an intensely passionate night with Hannah, NSA Agent and former Delta Force operative Dax Costas fell off the face of the earth. He got called away for a two week mission with no way to contact her. Now he can’t get the smart, sexy woman out of his head. She might be angry at him, but when it appears she has a stalker, Dax moves her under his roof and into his protection. Unfortunately, whoever wants Hannah dead will stop at nothing. And if Dax can’t identify the perpetrator in time, it could be too late to discover if there is more between him and Hannah than just heated passion… Release Date: April 21, 2015 Publisher:...
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May
1

Review: Snowcroft Safehouse by Christi Snow

Review: Snowcroft Safehouse by Christi Snow Snowcroft Safehouse Author: Christi Snow Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: One year ago, Declan Jasper, aka “Dex,” lead singer of a famous rock band, lost his bandmates when a rigged explosion onstage killed them all. Now known as “Finn Alexander,” he’s the reluctant pawn of the FBI, hiding out in the tiny town of Snowcroft in an effort to keep him alive until he can testify. Getting involved with someone in the midst of all the chaos is the last thing he has in mind. But, there’s no denying that the reserved, gray-eyed man behind the bar in a local tavern draws him like no one else has since before his world fell to pieces. Jack Walker is the single father of a middle school student, his restaurant and bar is painfully understaffed, and staying lonely and closeted for the sake of his daughter is becoming more and more difficult to bear. That he can’t get the quirky, sexy new band teacher at her school off his mind is an unwelcome addition to the pile, to say the least, and resisting the man is crucial to keeping his world from spinning out of control. Still, something has to give, and soon, and following his heart might be the very thing to save him after all. Although I enjoyed the first story in the series, I liked this one even better. There seemed to be an easier feel to the interplay between all the characters, and a more confident tone all around that Snowcroft Lost, in retrospect, didn’t achieve quite as uniformly. Any awkwardness stemmed from the uncertainty between Finn and Jack and made those scenes more earnest and believable than they would have been otherwise. The tension in the story also builds along two distinct lines, and Ms. Snow does an admirable job maintaining their separateness without letting the reader forget either one. I did have a little bit of trouble accepting the necessity of the extremes Finn’s nemesis goes to in the end, but it definitely left a strong impression. There’s actually quite a bit going on in Snowcroft Safehouse that could have had a negative impact on the story, yet doesn’t. One man is closeted, one isn’t. One has a child, one doesn’t. One of them has lost everything. The other has everything to lose. Nevermind the bogeyman lurking on the periphery, waiting to pounce. The constant doubts about a long-term relationship between Jack...
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Mar
18

Review: Kissed by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Review: Kissed by a SEAL by Cat Johnson Kissed by a SEAL Author: Cat Johnson Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Kissed by a SEAL is the fourth book in Ms. Johnson’s delightful Hot SEALs series, which follows the lives of former Navy SEAL teammates who have remained close friends. While each book is a standalone romance, almost all of the characters are featured in each of the stories, giving readers the opportunity to better know the players involved from the start. Darci Mann, sister of former SEAL Rick, is often present when the guys get together. She has long lusted after Zane (to his ignorance), and she was a bit heartbroken when he found love with Missy (Book 2). Meanwhile, Chris Cassidy, retired SEAL, stood by and watched the woman he cared about give her attention to his friend who didn’t deserve it. Hiding his true feelings for Darci behind jokes and friendship, Chris never made a move. Kissed by a SEAL is another hit from Cat Johnson’s sexy Hot SEALs series. Chris and Darci’s story was exciting and sexy, especially when shared from his POV. The author does a wonderful job establishing Chris’s long standing feelings for Darcy, and it is laughable just how clueless she is. The fact that I’ve watched both individuals interact in previous books made their hookup more all the more satisfying. I completely adore Chris and LOVE the fact that he is *gasp* forty years old! Mature and sexy! While the author does an amazing job sharing how much Chris cares for Darci, I wanted more time to see Darci’s change of heart from being caught up on the wrong guy to realizing she cared about Chris. I wished that transition would have started earlier in the book so that I would have had more time with the pair as a couple. With that said, I still enjoyed their romance. Additionally, watching GAPS (the group’s private security firm) begin to take off and see a mission was satisfying. I look forward to reading more about the team and would love to go back and revisit the couples who are just starting out in their fledgling relationships. Overall, Kissed by a SEAL is an entertaining, sexy romance. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Retired Navy SEAL Chris Cassidy knows the bro code—no messing around with teammates’ sisters. But, Chris never was one for following rules. Besides, Rick’s gorgeous sister Darci is worth breaking a few rules...
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Feb
24

Review: One Kiss More by Mandy Baxter

Review: One Kiss More by Mandy Baxter One Kiss More Author: Mandy Baxter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Landon McCabe is a U.S. Marshal who enjoys excitement, risks, and adrenaline. He’s not particularly happy with his latest assignment, babysitting Emma Ruiz, the socialite daughter of federal Judge Javier Ruiz who was arrested and put into custody of government six years ago because of extortion and bribes for verdicts. Landon recalls the hard-core party girl, who liked to pull pranks on Landon and his team all those years ago. But he also remembers his attraction to the beautiful woman and realizes that his attraction hasn’t diminish over the past six years. Now that the cancer-ridden Javier has escaped federal custody, Emma is the government’s only link to finding the man. Although tied to the preceding U.S. Marshals book, One Kiss More is an enjoyable standalone story. The author does a great job bringing readers into the story by developing a detailed history around and between Landon and Emma. Ms. Baxter peels apart their stories, giving readers one layer at a time until all of the pieces fit together. Emma is a fabulous character; a joyful balance of brains, wit, and beauty. While she may not have anticipated the danger she brought upon herself in her actions to prove her father innocent, she has a big heart and strong nature that makes her such a likable lead. Due to the nature of their relationship – Landon a government officer and Emma a potential witness and/or suspect – the couple spends a LOT of time longing for one another in secret. While there are a few sizzling moments when Landon actually makes a move on Emma, for the majority of the book, the only action occurs during long, lustful inner monologues. While this added tremendous sexual tension to the story, it started to irritate and frustrate me after a while. A similar situation happened in the first book, One Night More, I had hoped the second book would kick up the chemistry a notch. Unfortunately, their first, full-on sexual encounter doesn’t occur until nearly two-thirds of the book is finished. However, it’s not just a matter of sex, but more the fact that Landon is so hot and cold with his emotions as he struggles to deal with his attraction to Emma. If the couple would have just talk things out instead of hiding behind their respective rolls, I would have been much happier. It...
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