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Currently Browsing: Rating C
Nov
11

Review: The Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynnette Austin

Review: The Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynnette Austin The Best Laid Wedding Plans Author: Lynnette Austin Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a girl who grew up in the South and truly loves Savannah, I was really excited to read The Best Laid Wedding Plans. I was excited to be transported back to the sights, smells, and people of my childhood. Unfortunately The Best Laid Wedding Plans dropped the ball. The Best Laid Wedding Plans fell completely flat; I actually felt like I was reading a book placed in the South, but written by someone who had never done more than drive through it or watch a movie about it. The wonderful thing about books placed in the South is that the setting can almost be a character in its own right, especially if the author takes the time to show us around and paint us a picture rather than blandly state things like the rose garden had been over taken by weeds. I want to see the rose garden. I want to smell the roses, the myriad of colors developed after 150 years, smell the variety, see the rich deep reds mingled with the soft yellows and the pinks. But Ms. Austin didn’t do this. She walked us passed the garden and mentioned it had been started before the Civil Wa,r but she never REALLY takes us into the garden. This is supposed to be a setting for weddings, why? What makes it special? Unfortunately, you’ll never know by reading this book. Another thing that bothered me is that the title of the series, and the wedding business, is Magnolia Brides, yet magnolias are only mentioned twice, and only in passing. Why was this title chosen? What is the significance of Magnolia’s in the South? I grew up there, so I know why this would be a choice for a business name, but many others won’t understand, and I feel like it was a missed opportunity. It was just another example of failing to embrace the opportunity that the setting gives. If you’re going to place a book in the South, embrace the South. Now I don’t want to come off as a hater, it wasn’t all bad. Despite a SLOW beginning, Jenni Beth and Cole are likable characters who find healing in second chances. Their chemistry is spot on, and the build up well written. I enjoyed the bickering as they both struggled with their issues yet found a way to become vulnerable enough to...
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Oct
12

Review: Against the Ropes by Jeanette Murray

Review: Against the Ropes by Jeanette Murray Against the Ropes Author: Jeanette Murray Reviewer: Nima Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Against the Ropes is the second book in Murray’s First to Fight series.  It’s also the second book I’ve read with the same title in the last two years.  The first one, a BDSM story, wasn’t much better written than this one, but it was funnier and edgier.  Murray’s Against the Ropes fell solidly into the contemporary romance category, complete with too many over-used clichés and painfully predictable plot lines.  There were even some grammatical errors that slipped in with wrong tenses and metaphors that just didn’t work. Murray did successfully create two characters, Greg Higgs and Reagan Robilard with motivating backstories.  I liked both of them.  Unfortunately, that’s all she gave them.  Coming in under 300 pages, there could have been a lot more plot linked to extended family and legal history that would have been compelling to read.  Instead we have a brief conflict, some insecurity, and the flush of a new romance.  And some great shoes, but that’s about it.  Their chemistry was good, but like many things in the book, their sex scenes felt abbreviated. I wanted more for the characters and from Murray. This is a good, one day read when you need a light distraction.  It’s not necessary to have read the first book, Below the Belt, in the series to enjoy this one, it stands on its own.  Characters from the first installment are present, but they are peripheral to the main plot. Against the Ropes is also a transitory book.  There is a mystery which affects both Greg and Reagan, but it is not resolved in this novel.  Book three, Fight to the Finish, will presumably solve the crimes that are hampering our main characters as Murray moves on to the romance of Greg and Reagan’s friends, JAG attorney Graham Sweeny and single mother Kara. My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues About the Book: The author of Below the Belt continues her First to Fight series with a novel of one Marine’s battle to come out on top—in life and love… As a troubled teen, Gregory Higgs channeled his energy into boxing instead of breaking the law. The ring gave him purpose and something to strive for. So did the Marines. Combining the two seemed like a natural fit. Another natural fit? Reagan Robilard, the sweet athlete liaison who keeps all the fighters out...
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Sep
15

Review: The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell

Review: The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell The Paris Key Author: Juliet Blackwell Reviewer: Nima Rating: C What I’m Talking About: The Paris Key is aptly named on several levels. I like a good title. In this case it ties together multiple plot points of locksmithing, love, ghosts of the past, and finding a way through to the future.  Main character Genevieve Martin runs away to Paris, following a formal separation from her husband, to take over the locksmith shop of her beloved late uncle Dave.  She will find that Paris holds the key to unlocking personal mysteries as she works to “find herself” during this period of stress and change. The book begins in Oakland, California. It’s especially ironic that Genevieve is running from this location when you consider that Berkeley, directly adjacent to Oakland, is known for its overly supportive community that seems to exist to help people discover themselves. Genevieve even makes a crack about her ex’s life coach.  I was disappointed when this phrase, “…what I really needed to do was find myself” came up because it’s a cliché that has always rubbed me the wrong way, used too often to justify adults abandoning responsibilities and family, even children, on a journey of self-discovery for answers that they believe lay elsewhere.  I think Blackwell is a better author than to throw out clichés. It’s also when I realized that as compelling as this “slice-of-life” story was written, I didn’t especially like it. The Paris Key is well written, tight, has good pacing, character motives that make sense, and I don’t think I saw so much as a single copy edit error.  It’s not a bad book, certainly not really a “C”. I’ve given better ratings to books that weren’t as well written and I acknowledge that.  What it is, is a melancholy book and I felt sad while reading it.  The depression of several characters felt depressing.  It’s to author Juliet Blackwell’s credit that she made me feel those feelings, but it was over 350 pages of depression hanging over the main characters before getting to the potential hope of the ending. Unfortunately the climax is abrupt and short for the length of its lead-up.  Relief was insufficient.  I wanted more hope, more happy.  The author doesn’t leave us in a soup of tears, but even this hopeful ending is still a sad one, including wasted years, wasted effort, hurt and pain.  No one gets through life without hurt and pain, but...
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Aug
27

Review + #Giveaway : Broken Play by Samantha Kane

Review + #Giveaway : Broken Play by Samantha Kane Broken Play Author: Samantha Kane Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Broken Play is the first book in a new erotic romance series by Samantha Kane. The series follows the players of the fictional Birmingham Rebels NFL expansion team. Cass Zielinski, captain of the Rebels, leads this team full of misfits and has-beens who know this is their last chance to make it. Beau Perez, Cass’s best friend, is a recovering addict. Cass will do anything to protect his friend, and the pair do EVERYTHING together. The final piece of Broken Play’s menage is Marian Treadwell, the Rebels new female assistant coach. Marian has many secrets, including the fact that her father is a famous college coach. While Broken Play holds a lot of promise, it was more about hot and erotic sex scenes than a lot of substance. It is a menage romance, and there is some emotional growth and development between Cass, Beau, and Marian, but it’s mostly framed by sex. There are promising external dynamics… like a last-chance football team looking to make its mark and a female coach in a male-dominated profession. However these side stories get little attention, and there is no plot development to go along with them. Additionally, conflict in the form of a homophobic player comes up once, yet is never addressed again. If these aspects of the book had been developed more, I think the book would have been stronger. What the book does have going for it are super erotic, multi-partner sex scenes. However, I feel it necessary to give a small warning to those “no lube” critics, lube is never once mentioned during the rear-entrance scenes. Additionally, the mention of condom use is sporadic and inconsistent. Regardless of the condom and lube issues, the scenes are very hot, and while they are going on, I can mostly forget my concerns over the professional relationship aspect. However, the fact is these people are teammates and she is a coach, so it did bother me. My biggest issue with the entire book is the portrayal of Marian as a coach. I get that she has massive demons to exorcise. I understand that she’s non-conventional and has spent her whole like suppressing who she is. I have no issues with her desires and applaud her journey of self-discovery and acceptance. However, she is one of the team’s assistant coaches, which should come with job standards and an expectation...
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Aug
18

Review: All Wound Up by Jaci Burton

Review: All Wound Up by Jaci Burton All Wound Up Author: Jaci Burton Reviewer: Nima Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Ok, this is book ten.  Burton successfully does what she’s done the entire series.  All Wound Up continues to deliver what her readers have come to love and expect with this series. More of the same isn’t a bad thing, especially if this is your reading groove.  For me, however, the Play-By-Play series has become formulaic.  Like other books in this series; All Wound Up is predictable with an anti-climactic finish. There’s nothing especially original about this plot, it’s the “nobody is good enough for my daughter” plot.  The fact that the couple in this rendition are a pro-ball player, Tucker, and a doctor, Aubry who happens to be the only daughter of the team’s owner, doesn’t make it any more enticing except on some fantasy level that appeals to those who wish they were rich and famous.  Ultimately, the problem isn’t the problem.  That’s brought out into the open in a matter of a dozen pages.  The problem is how Tucker and Aubry handle the problem.  If they’re entirely immature, no one would buy that they’re successful in their chosen, demanding careers.  If they behave completely mature then the conflict really wouldn’t exist at all.  Burton does achieve a realistic balance between the two as they resolve their issues. And then it ends. The end.  I liked Aubry and Tucker enough to want more for them and from Burton. Where there could have been more story, there is a lot of sex, I think more so than some of Burton’s other books—which is saying something.  In the beginning, this seems to be the book’s entire focus.  If we weren’t already in fantasy territory with an incredibly hot major league baseball player and a seemingly endless supply of money and social connections, eight orgasms on the first date is probably the best give-away.  Even for a pro-athlete and a doctor who maybe knows something anatomical that the rest of us aren’t privy to, eight seems to belong to the paranormal world where different rules apply to vampires and werewolves.  To quote Rory Gilmore, “What? Were B-12 shots involved?”  Aubrey’s best friend Katie sums it up well when she says, “You get off, he gets off, there are no emotional entanglements to clutter up your already busy life.  Everyone’s happy.” Unfortunately it seems that a lot of contemporary romance is taking this concept as basis and...
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Jul
1

Review: Flight from Death by Yasmine Galenorn

Review: Flight from Death by Yasmine Galenorn Flight from Death Author: Yasmine Galenorn Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: C+ What We’re Talking About: Flight from Death is the debut novel in a new spin-off series, Fly by Night, from Yasmine Galenorn.  Although the premise was promising with a fascinating world, it just did not deliver for Gikany and Una. First, we need to say that we did not read the original series.  If we had, the story might have made a little more sense, and we may have been more invested in the story.  There are several flashbacks during the story that takes us from the action and mystery of the ‘now’ and throws us back to learn more of Shimmer’s back-story.  We would have preferred having all of Shimmer’s back-story at the beginning of the novel so once the story commenced we could have been nicely immersed in it without the repeated distractions.  The back-story was useful in learning more about Shimmer (especially for those of us who did not read the founding series), but it really interrupted the flow of the story and would have been better to have all at once at the beginning as more of a prologue. The story is intriguing.  The nature of the big bad and the ghost story element were fascinating and well woven.  The variety of supernatural creatures was interesting.  However, the story meanders quite a lot.  It felt as if it took a long time to get to the final conflict with lots of unnecessary twists.  There are scenes that were not really necessary. One of the aspects that truly bothered us was the relationship between Alex and Shimmer.  Although Shimmer has been attracted to Alex since she arrived Earthside, Alex was in a relationship.  However, Alex felt the same attraction and ended his relationship so he could have Shimmer (which he does right at the beginning of the novel).  Two things that are deep strikes against Alex: 1 – If the relationship is over, don’t just hang around waiting for the next great thing (stringing along your girlfriend) – break it off now, don’t wait to break it off until you have something better to go after. Be an adult. 2 – Break it off honestly – don’t cheat on your girlfriend to drive her away so you can be rid of her. Shimmer seems completely fine with this.  Their love scene is early in the novel and in a strange point in the storyline. ...
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Jun
25

Review: Bengal’s Quest by Lora Leigh

Review: Bengal’s Quest by Lora Leigh Bengal’s Quest Author: Lora Leigh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: Note: this book is not a standalone nor a good starting point in the series, as there is a convoluted, confusing overall story arc that has spanned several books. The opening prologue flashback helped me recall key parts of the ongoing story, but it’s not enough for a newcomer to the series. Jumping into the mix… Cat was born a human, but was genetically altered into a Breed in an effort to save her from a childhood illness. For years she posed as Claire Martinez, hiding from the Genetic Council and the Breed who swore to kill her. Claire’s Native American spirit and family kept Cat safe until Claire’s father attacked her, revealing he is part of the Council. Now she has exposed herself as Cat, a Bengal Breed. Many years ago, Gideon aka Graeme Parker, saved a little girl he called his own. Even though he swore to kill Cat for saving him when she transfused some of her blood into him all those years ago, Graeme did it to protect her from the mating heat. Now that Cat is a grown woman, Graeme knows it is time to claim what is his. CONFUSED? Yes… this story has been confusing from the start. The multiple personas and vague descriptions of transferring spirits and souls into other bodies has always bothered me a bit. However, as crazy as the storyline has been, I feel that the author did a better than usual job detailing what happened to Cat and others all those years ago over the course of Bengal’s Quest. I finally feel like all of the puzzle pieces have been locked into place and the bigger picture makes some sense. Although the story was a bit more streamlined, I found I just didn’t care about the romance between Graeme/Gideon and Cat. I kept waiting for that moment when I’d feel something and cheer for the couple, but it never really came. I liked that Cat was strong-willed and appreciated her efforts to reach both Gideon the “monster” and Graeme the alpha. However, I was disappointed with Gideon. After watching his character and actions from the periphery for multiple books, I expected more than what was delivered. And as a mated pair, their romance was mediocre, while the infamous Breed sex scenes were missing their typical edginess. Additionally, I found myself annoyed with the side...
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Jun
22

Review: Misery’s Way by J.C. Daniels

Review: Misery’s Way by J.C. Daniels Misery’s Way Author: J.C. Daniels Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C+ What I’m Talking About: Frankie is a non-human of unknown origin. She keeps her true nature and identity hidden for fear of being captured, or worse. She’s torn by her dark side, which craves and needs misery and suffering. However, she also has a side that longs to heal and fix pain. She balances both parts by posing as a faith healer; however now that someone has discovered Frankie, it’s time to move on. Misery’s Way is a short story told from the first person POV of Frankie. It is set in the Colbana Files world, and although not told from Kit’s POV, the story is germane to Kit’s whole journey and the overall series. So, it’s a “must read” for series regulars, and probably not the best place for newbies to begin. And honestly, if I hadn’t read all of the books in the series, I would have been lost at times. One issue I had with Misery’s Way was the feeling of disconnectedness as the story jumped from scene to scene, especially when Frankie explores Kit’s memories. And with that, I have mixed feelings about Misery’s Way. First, the story is VERY SHORT and is more like the prologue to the next book, albeit told from someone else’s POV. Second, the book ends at the 38% mark of the mobi version, followed by a previously released novella (which I’ve already read and reviewed), and then an excerpt from the author’s upcoming sci-fi title. With those two things in mind, I struggled to understand why this short story wasn’t integrated into the next full-length title rather than left as a stand alone story. Granted, it is from another person’s view point, and it does add value to the overall series and world, but it just felt so incomplete, it left me frustrated. Overall, the storyline is interesting. I enjoyed reading about Frankie and her partner, Saleel. However, I’m so used to reading from Kit’s POV, I struggled a bit with confusion when reading the book from Frankie’s POV, especially when she shared page time with Kit. However, Frankie and Saleel both intrigued me, and I expect they will be a large part of an upcoming Kit book based on what happens between Kit and Frankie. I honestly look forward to that, regardless of my frustration with this story in particular. Misery’s Way is an interesting and intriguing addition to the Colbana...
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May
25

Review: Path of the Heretic by Ivan Amberlake

Review: Path of the Heretic by Ivan Amberlake Path of the Heretic Author: Ivan Amberlake Reviewer: Una Rating: C What I’m Talking About: The Path of the Heretic is the second novel in the fascinating mythology of the Beholder series.  Though the mythology is intriguing, the story falls flat for me. I tend to prefer novels with character-driven plots. And in order for those plots to flow and keep me reading, I need an emotional connection to the characters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it in the previous novel, The Beholder, and sadly I wasn’t able to do it in this second installment.  The problem is that I can’t really put my finger on what is the weak link, what is blocking me from connecting to the characters.  The plight of Jason is compelling, his search/hope for his lost love, Emily is interesting, but I just do not feel the emotions.  I don’t know if it is an issue with how the author conveys the character’s emotions or just a personality type issue I have with the characters.  Additionally, most of the urban fantasy I read has stronger romantic elements to it, while this does not.  I was compelled to finish the book, but that was only to see how the mythology turned out and if the prophesies would come to pass, along with a couple other loose ends. The world continues to be interesting; I do find the mythology fascinating.  Through Path of the Heretic we learn that there are more than just Lightsighted and Darksighted people.  There are the Transcended – those that switch sides.  This comes into play heavily in this novel.  What seems like betrayals are sometimes either Transcended spies or someone being compelled to change from one side to the other.  The politics are intriguing, the webs that the Darksighted (most importantly Pariah) weaves are interesting but some of it had me a little lost.  The legend of the Heretic was a bit confusing as well. One aspect of the novel really did irk me though and that is the multiple first person point of views – more than in the previous novel.  When we have more than a few it can be a little confusing constantly changing perspective.  I like getting into a character’s head and being there for a bit, it allows the story to flow better.  However, this is not the only issue.  Sometimes when the story changed perspectives, the timeline went back to the previous scene to allow another...
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May
19

Review: Cursed by Fire by Danielle Annett

Review: Cursed by Fire by Danielle Annett Cursed by Fire Author: Danielle Annett Reviewer: Una Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: I am not sure what to say.  After reading Cursed By Fire, I wonder how a first novel in a series can feel like a transitional novel.  The story had promise but just did not deliver for me. My first trouble with Cursed by Fire is that the mythology is very vague.  Some first novels suffer from an overabundance of world-building – spending a lot of time teaching us what the world is like at the sacrifice of the story.  However we have the opposite problem here.  There is almost no world-building.  What little there is are terms and certain elements that bring to my mind another series.  By the end of the novel, I started relying on the mythology of another series to fill in the gaps.  In fact once I started thinking about other books I’ve read, I saw similarities to other series.  I am all for imitation is the best form of flattery – but mythologies should be singular.  I can understand a coincidence or a common element or two but for so much of it to be similar bothers me.  Especially when the mythology overall remains vague and I feel we can only pull from our knowledge of the similar one to understand this world.  That just doesn’t sit right with me. Taking this issue out of the equation of this review, I was not thrilled with the writing.  I felt that once I was at the end, the novel was a long goose-chase.  It felt like a transitional novel, getting characters into place for the next one.  The original mystery that started this novel is not solved by the end.  True, we learn a lot about players and an eventual war, but nothing was resolved.  People died, we know who killed some of them, we know the “agency” behind it, but that’s it.  There is no justice at the end, it just stops abruptly.  I’m not sure I would call it a cliffhanger because it was more irritating than engaging. My other issue is that I was unable to connect with the heroine, Aria.  She felt flat to me.  I couldn’t connect emotionally with her and found her to be too chaotic.  Her thoughts and feelings really bounced around, and she made poor decisions of which she would question herself and yet still proceed to make.  For a woman that...
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