3 star review

Review- The Last Victim by Karen Robards

The Last Victim

The Last Victim

by Karen Robards
OK, I’d held off on this series because I am not a huge fan of serialized romantic suspense. I just get frustrated with it in a way I don’t with Urban Fantasy. That’s a personal failing of mine. But when I received a copy of the third, and presumably final book of the series, from Netgalley, I figured it was time to take the plunge. This book came out almost 2 years ago, so I am not going to do much summarizing, plenty of people have done much more thorough jobs already.
Basically what we have is Charlotte Stone, a criminal psychologist studying serial killers due to tragic events in her past. She is supposedly brilliant and the best in her field, which is how she lands a grant that has her working with serial killers on death row. Following one of her sessions with Michael Garland, a man convicted of killing 7 women, he’s shanked in the heart and dies under her hand. Which brings me to my next point, Dr. Charlotte Stone sees and can talk to the recently departed.
Now, upfront I want to say that I tend to adore Robards’ morally ambiguous or even ambivalent heroes and I have ever since One Summer, Night Magic, and Walking After Midnight. It is kind of catnip for me, that mysterious maybe he’s bad, maybe he isn’t thing. I also tend to enjoy a little crazy sauce in both my romantic suspense and my paranormal romance. So, I was somewhat predisposed to like this. But it turns out that pouring crazy sauce over a mash-up of romantic suspense and paranormal romance may just be a little too much. I can understand a bit better why Robards is dragging this out, because it is just too much ground to cover in one setting. Unfortunately, in this one, the suspense/mystery as well as the supporting characters really aren’t given justice. I’ll grant you, I didn’t figure out the villain situation until the heroine did, but frankly, I think that is mostly because hardly any time seemed to be spent on the subject. On the other hand, we spent an inordinate amount of time angsting over Michael Garland over both the ghost aspect and the serial killer aspect, how she feels about him, her confusion between her feelings between Tony the FBI agent and Garland the serial killer, her feelings about her past, her sex life with or without the ghost, the beyond and the rules about her interactions with ghosts. The living serial killer and the associated victims weren’t the story; they were the plot device for the love triangle shaping up here. And the three FBI agents, right now aren’t really characters, they are cardboard cutouts in place of characters, and I am actually hoping to get more insight into them, especially Lena.
I am giving this book 3 stars, because while I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it either (don’t judge, I already admitted my love of crazy sauce) and over time I think this could possibly be developed into something interesting and fun….that is if you like the strange and crazy on occasion.
3.5 star review

Review-To Marry a Scottish Laird

To Marry a Scottish Laird
by Lynsay Sands

This is the second book in her series “An English Bride in Scotland”. I gave the first book 3 stars because while I thoroughly enjoyed the light fluffy story line, the romance, and the mystery (despite the fact that Sands seems to be recycling plots like nobody’s business), but I didn’t like one very gratuitous aspect of the ending.

Joan meets Campbell Sinclair when he saves her, and then she saves him in turn, from some bandits. Joan is on a quest to fulfill her deathbed promise to take a scroll to Lady and Laird MacKay, and is dressed like a boy and brutally beaten, so Campbell initially doesn’t realize she is female. This is a common trope that I am not typically fond, but here Campbell’s confusion only lasts long enough for him to learn to like and respect Joan, and the secret only lasts long enough for a few humorous moments. From then on, it is all heaving uncontrollable lusts, with the one addition that BOTH of the characters think about contraception. (pro-tip, it turns out that wild carrot seeds actually are and were used as a natural form of contraception). However, they get to MacKay and all the secrets come out, so naturally they have to get married, despite the fact that neither of them thinks the other wants to. When they get to Sinclair’s, awkwardness and hi-jinks ensue until the mystery is finally solved.

This is a fun read full of pratfalls and misunderstandings and a bit of mystery. There were two twisty secrets, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t see either of them coming. I enjoyed both Joan and Campbell and I enjoyed getting to read about past characters. So, altogether I really did enjoy this book, and recommend to anyone who likes reading humorous and even slightly ridiculous historical romance, but it isn’t going to be making my re-read shelf so I am giving it 3.5 stars.

Also, while this is the second in a series, it should work well as a stand-alone as there is no overarching story arc.

4 star review

Review- Marked by the Vampire

Marked by the Vampire
by Cynthia Eden

This is the second in her Purgatory Series. I gave The Wolf Within 4 stars.

Dr. Olivia Madden has a history which includes werewolf attack and a Ph.D. in criminal psychology. She’s spent years working with the human serial killer population, but her motive for getting into Purgatory, the paranormal prison, is murky at best. Shane August is a vampire under cover working for the Para unit FBI to uncover the secrets on Purgatory, and his back-story and motives are even murkier.

Cynthia Eden has a few tropes she likes to go with, the insanely powerful heroine who doesn’t exactly know what she is and what she can do. The morally ambiguous hero who is absolutely and often without reason devoted beyond measure, and the fated/insta-mate.

What makes this work for me is that the characters are fun, the action is nonstop, and the plot and the characters themselves are usually twisty and devious in the extreme. This particular book is well paced, with a clever twist on old and not much used paranormal character, and there was some real chemistry between Olivia and Shane.

While this can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the books in order because you will have a better sense of the characters as a whole. Solid 4 stars and I absolutely cannot wait for Connor’s book next!

4 star review

Review- One Sexy Ride

One Sexy Ride
by Vivian Arend

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is book 2 of the Thompson & Sons series, which is actually a spin-off from the Six Pack Ranch Series.

Janey has been chasing after quiet Len Thompson for years with no success, but when someone drops drugs into Janey’s drink at a bonfire party, Len ends up taking care of her while she’s stoned out of her mind. She doesn’t quite know what happened that night, but Len finally deigned to be caught. Since this is a friends to lovers story, you don’t have all the awkward getting to know you stuff, but it turns out that Len has some pretty big secrets that no one knows. One of them is absolutely adorable, and one of them is just very sad. But when one of Len’s secrets affects their relationship, it changes Janey’s view of their history, and the course of each of their futures.

I thought that their relationship was sweet, adorable, and somewhat filthy. They both felt like real, fairly comfortable in their skin kinds of people. They had relationships with friends and their families, they are 3 dimensional characters. And despite the awkwardness of changing their relationship (and the specific hurdles involved with this particular couple) they felt comfortable and happy with each other, which let me feel comfortable with them. But while Janey is mostly an open book, Len can be closed off in areas of his life. Which of course leads to Len doing something incredibly stupid and hurtful. There was no big misunderstanding. Len had just made certain choices based on his own history and emotions, and looking at it from a sideways testosterone poisoned perspective, his actions made sense…for him. I didn’t agree with it, and it didn’t make sense to me, but I could see where his actions were coming from. But when Len finally wises up, it is all lovely, because he has to chase Janey in a pretty major way, so it was a really sweet turn around.

I am really enjoying this series, just like I’ve been enjoying the Six Pack Ranch series, it is good and comfortable to have the frame of reference of the community and some of the characters so there doesn’t have to be a lot of info dumping about that. And it works well because Arend doesn’t over use the cameo. While you might see the main characters from other books, most of the time it is only to speak to, and when it is more, it is because they actually are integral to the current plot, not because it felt like she had something to say about the other characters. 4 stars and I am eagerly awaiting the rest of this series, which looks like the next 2 stories will be coming out and finishing the series before the end of the year.

4 star review

Review- Better Homes and Hauntings

Better Homes and Hauntings
by Molly Harper

Available 06/24/2014

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

The thing I always enjoy most about Molly Harper’s books are the voices of her characters, which are inevitably witty, snarky, and full of heart. The second thing I love most about her books are that the female protagonists actually have real, healthy relationships with the other women around them, and experiences outside of the male protagonists. So, despite what all the blurbs seem to say about this book being about Nina and Deacon, it’s equally about Jake and Cindy and Nina and Cindy and Dotty. And beyond that, the book is more about Crane’s Nest, Gerald, Catherine, and Jack. Better Homes is a paranormal mystery with ghosts and a curse, and people who have lives and friendships, and some of them fall in love. I can see where some people might be upset or not enjoy this, because it doesn’t neatly fall into the category of paranormal romance; however, I found it fresh and enjoyable to see and read a wider world than just inside the heads of one man and one woman. For me, I guessed pretty quickly, what the outcome would be and who the bad guy was, but Ms. Harper did make a good faith effort to keep the mystery mysterious. And guessing the mystery didn’t make me enjoy the ride any less. Solid 4 stars and I look forward to future stand-alone’s from Molly Harper.

4.5 star review

Review- Darksider

by Erin Kellison

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is the 3rd book in the Reveler series, reviews of the previous entries can be seen here:

Darkness Falls (Which I found in an anthology)
Lay Me Down

All the books are right around 100 pages, the first one you can still get for free on Amazon, but the other two are 2.99.

I am going to admit flat out here, I am getting a little frustrated with the novella thing. I flat out adored Darkness Falls, it got me hooked into this world, but I expected that to have been a teaser/taste of the world, and not to be the format for subsequent stories. I really want a meatier more involved story.

As far as reviewing, it’s hard to do with these because you give so much away of the previous books and the surprise of finding out about the world. So, if you haven’t read the previous stories and you don’t want to be spoiled, stop right here and go back and read at least the first story, which is FREE. Now, on to the meat of it. Serafina Rochan is a chef dealing with the stress of opening a second restaurant and what she initially thinks are just nightmares. She’s a type A aggressive personality who tries to deal with this on her own until she finds out her nightmares are a little more dangerous than she thought. She despises Reve and so she wants nothing to do with Chimera Agent Marshal Harlen Fawkes, her ex who was with her for her introduction to Reve. Marshall is having his own troubles with the Reve as his best friends, and heroes from the previous two stories, Malcom and Steve (along with Jordan and Maisie the heroines) are on the run from Chimera due to the events of the preceding book where they discover wide spread corruption in the organization. Since this is a second chance trope, it works slightly better in the novella format than I think Lay Me Down did. Darksider is just as action packed, mysterious and adventurous as Darkness Falls and it carried the story arc of the corruption in Chimera and the Reve well. However, there was definitely more of a cliff hanger ending on this one. I’m avidly waiting for the 4th book to come out 07/14/2014.

4 star review

OpenLibrary Review- All Through the Night

All Through the Night
by Connie Brockway

This book, published in 1997, is available to borrow from OpenLibrary. As always, borrow the PDF version using the read in browser function or using Adobe Digital Editions.

Goodreads Blurb:

A woman compelled. . .

In the glittering world of Regency England, Anne Wilder played a dangerous game. A widowed lady by day, by night she became a masked thief preying on society’s elite. She roved high above London’s black rooftops, compelled by phantoms from her past to take ever greater risks. Until her restless spirit led her into Colonel Jack Seward’s trap. . . where seduction was her only way out.

A man obsessed. . .

She’d played him for a fool, taking advantage of his hungry response to escape from his clutches. But as Jack hunted for his thief, his heart fell captive to a self-possessed widow. Torn between illicit passion and tender love, Jack is duty-bound to capture the audacious criminal, even if it means ripping society apart to do so. Now he stalked her through the ton, never realizing the lovely widow who captured his heart was the same woman who roused his most violent passions.

A love that defied king and country. . .

Alright, so I’ll kind of admit, I was expecting a historical version of Nora Robert’s Sweet Revenge, and that isn’t what I got. I was expecting a romp, and this wasn’t. I was expecting non-stop action, and really, except for the first couple of chapters, the first 2/3 of this book, it kind of dragged. I was all set to give this thing 2.5 stars, but then the last 100 pages or so of the book did a complete turn around for me. There’s politics, intrigue, murder, and thievery. And oddly enough the ending felt very Scarlet Pimpernel to me, which is for me very high praise and gets this book 4 stars from me, despite the relatively slow middle.