3 star review

Review – Troublemaker by Linda howard

Troublemaker

A thrilling, fast-paced novel of romantic suspense from sensational New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Linda Howard.

For Morgan Yancy, an operative and team leader in a paramilitary group, nothing comes before his job. But when he’s ambushed and almost killed, his supervisor is determined to find out who’s after the members of his elite squad—and why. Due to worries that this unknown enemy will strike again, Morgan is sent to a remote location and told to lay low and stay vigilant. But between a tempting housemate he’s determined to protect and a deadly threat waiting in the shadows, keeping under the radar is proving to be his most dangerous mission yet.

The part-time police chief of a small West Virginian mountain town, Isabeau “Bo” Maran finally has her life figured out. She’s got friends, a dog, and a little money in the bank. Then Morgan Yancy shows up on her doorstep. Bo doesn’t need a mysterious man in her life—especially a troublemaker as enticing and secretive as Morgan.

The harder they fight the intense heat between them, the closer Morgan and Bo become, even though she knows he’s hiding from something. But discovering the truth could cost Bo more than she’s willing to give. And when Morgan’s cover is blown, it might just cost her life.

Linda Howard is one of my loves. I have been with her through a lot of the years. For some reason though I was really late realizing she had a new release out, and so was completely blindsided when the reviews started coming in. And they were mixed to say the least. So I was really late getting around to it. It appears to be a series…maybe?

Where to start, so much where to start? The initial set up is pretty good, rough tough cream puff has been shot, his organizational leader sends him to recuperate with said organizational leader’s former step-sister who is the chief of police of a small town. We have the feisty chief of police with a cute little plot pet, who isn’t immediately on board and asks some questions and asks for assurances of safety for herself and her town.

THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN MY CATNIP!!! But it wasn’t 😦

For some reason they harped on the fact that Bo’s position is purely administrative so she isn’t a real cop. And while it is a legal option in some states, I find it a) irritating that this is harped on, b) irritated that this was the choice that the author made when she could have been a real police officer, and c) that she doesn’t stick to her purely administrative position when her role is defined that way. I am also kind of flipped off at the reasons she needed money and so acquiesced to her step-brother’s demands. It made her seem weak which irritated me.

On the pluses, these two experienced no insta-love, they took their time and got to know one another. So it was completely lovely and relaxed how they got together. Unfortunately, looking at it closer, WE THE READERS never really got to know the main characters, we never got the text of their conversations with one another….what we got was a ton about Tricks the plot pet. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good plot pet as much as the next person (probably more), but this was effing ridiculous. It was too much.

So I am torn on how to rate this and whether or not to recommend it. In the end I did enjoy it, and it was super relaxing to read and kept my attention well, but I am not going to re-read it. And it was interesting enough that I would be interested in continuing to read the series, if it is indeed a series. But there were the aforementioned issues. Plus, it is still 12.99 and that is quite insane. So I don’t know, YMMV, and it isn’t a complete nix.

Troublemaker: A Novel

Advertisements
Standard
4 star review

Review – Illusion Town by Jayne Castle

Illusion Town

A new adventure begins on Harmony…

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique—and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband. All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse. The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity—as well as other parts of her mind and body. And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light—and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…

So long have I been reading this series. SO long. This is book 13 in the Harmony series, or like book 1 bajillion if you consider that the tie-ins from her Amanda Quick and Jayne Anne Krentz’s pen names are part of the series. And I honestly can’t believe I haven’t written about any of those, but then I realized the last Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz ones were in 2013 (still waiting for her to finish those two out), and time really does fly doesn’t it? But I bring it up because we have TIE IN! Family is a strong theme in these series and it followed the people through the curtain to Harmony.

I adore engineers, know this made me predisposed to love this book. Castle got the abrupt, highly specific and almost hyper literal communication method down pat, it reminds me so much of real life I was able to settle right in.

This was action packed, and plenty twisty, and seemed much longer than the past few books, but in a good way. Needless to say there is a lot going on. We have also branched out significantly from the guilds, so it will be interesting to see where she goes in the series from here.

It is hard to know what to say about this book, except that if you read this series, you know what you are getting. Two off the chart talents, disparate worlds, family ties, albeit often unconventional ones, a mystery or two, and DUST BUNNIES!

This one struck me as a bit more fun and charming than the last couple, but YMMV. I like the pragmatic engineer hero. It is kind of a thing for me. I also enjoyed the ridiculous retracing of steps, kind of abbreviated Hangover type scenario.

I can’t quite explain what it is about this series that brings me back time and time again,. but they make me happy. And really some days that is all one can ask. You can probably read this as a stand alone. But if you haven’t started this series, I’d say start at the beginning and then pace yourself. If you binge I can imagine the similarities might get to you. But, since I am not binging, all I can say is that I’ve enjoyed my annual trip to harmony, and this particular one will likely go back on my reread shelf for a future blah day, it isn’t deep but it is broad, and it left me smiling.

Illusion Town

Standard
3 star review

Review – A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen

A Duke to Remember.jpg

Love takes the stage…

Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

This is the second book in this series, and Kelly Bowen is fast becoming an author I feel I can trust for a quick, fun romp through wallpaper historical England. And this particular series is such smashing fun because the heroines have their own agency, and by that I mean both their personal agency to affect change in their own lives, and an honest to goodness agency-their place of business where scandals can be made to go away.

I’ll admit that this one did not capture my attention as firmly at the start as the previous story did. And that is at least in part because I didn’t immediately connect Elise in this story to the lady in the previous book. She was an interesting character, it is just that Ivory just overwhelmed me. So it felt like starting cold to me, and the author clearly meant us to have already had some time with her. So if you don’t remember Elise, I say brush up by reading at least the first chapter or so from Duke of my Heart. I think that will truly make a difference in how one starts out with Elise. The other part is that the Big-Mis of the two character not understanding who each other was and what their purposes were just made me feel so awkward with the characters, despite their obvious initial attraction.

Once things got going though I was really into it. The back story was way sadder than the blurb leads one to believe, but it was interesting. And the way Chegarre and Associates handled the return of the wayward and missing earl was a delight. I could have read chapters more of that. I also really enjoyed getting more backstory on a mysterious character from the previous book.

Unfortunately the way the relationship resolution came about was less than what I had hoped. It wasn’t bad, I just wanted more. I suppose that is the theme here, I wanted more, more of the mystery, more of the agency working, and more of the relationship-everything that was there did work, so I suppose I am just being greedy. In any event this is a story I honestly enjoyed reading and which leads me top gladly keep reading the series, it just won’t go on my re-read shelf. Perfect for anyone looking for a quick, fun romp.

A Duke to Remember (Season for Scandal, #2)

Standard
4 star review

Review – The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase

The Last Hellion.jpg

She Needed to be Tamed . . .

She was a breathtaking firebrand, and Vere Mallory, the notorious Duke of Ainswood, had never seen anything like her. Although he thought he was rescuing Lydia Grenville from the cluches of a renowned wastrel, he quickly discovers she is angry at his interference! Amused by the sultry hell-cats’s fury, Mallory vows to teach her some humility — in life and in love.

He Was Just the Man to Do It.

Lydia Grenville was fuming. She was determined to savewomankind from disreputable rakes like the infamous Mallory, not to succumb to his scandalous charms. She finds herself overwhelmed by the scintillating sensations he brings to her body, but when she discovers that he has bragged that he’s going to “tame” her, Lydia vows to fight his advances . . . but nothing prepares her for the surrender she finds in his arms.

Ah, how Loretta Chase surprises me. Whereas Lord of Scoundrels enthralled me, Captives of the Night came just shy of boring me, so I didn’t have high hopes but was happy enough to read it, if you see what I mean. Kind of like cold pizza it is still enjoyable enough in its way. That was my expectation, but Chase knocked it back out of the park again, maybe a smidge below  LoS, but close. This one is also available on OpenLibrary with the usual disclaimers.

Lydia Grenville was an Amazon, both in deed and in person. You know who she kind of reminded me of? Helen from Catherine Coulter’s The Courtship. I had to give up on Coulter because you never knew when you would run into a so-called “hero”and “love” story that were absolutely stomach churning, but this one I remember with delight because of its Amazonian heroine, and the current amazing heroine may be prompting a reread of a book I literally wore the spine out of so many years ago.

Vere I simply wasn’t looking forward to though. He made a showing in Lord of Scoundrels that did not endear him to me. But, as seems to be Chase’s way, she turned that initial impression on its head. He was maybe not right, but he did have his reasons for behaving the way he did, and in the end I had empathy.

Rather than being focused on the mystery, this one mainly focused on the relationship as LoS did, and it really, really worked for me. Their courtship was almost as unusual as unusual as Jessica’s and Sebastian’s, though not nearly as violent.

We have some nice twists of mystery, delightful character growth, and most loose ends of the series were tied up. It was also delightful to see Jessica’s brother Bertie grow up some and find some happiness, he wasn’t an interesting enough hero to carry his own book, but the slice of Bertie we got was ridiculously sweet. We also get to see just how she weaved in characters and events from all the books, supporting characters just are never what they seemed, and Francis Beaumont was an interesting if despicable thread throughout. The only complaint I have about the series as a whole is that there seems to be a thread dangling in the form of one Andrew Herriard, and I desperately wish we knew what happened to him (if he popped up anywhere else, some please enlighten me).

This is an altogether lovely series, and this one the delightful cherry on top. I can’t believe I waited so very long to stumble onto Chase, but am glad to have some back list to glom. Especially since she seems to have a delightful feminist flair for her heroines. Each of them have been strong-willed, not in the least mishish, and perfectly willing to either go toe to toe or be devious sneaks as needs must. I find them delightful.

The Last Hellion (Scoundrels, #4)

Standard
5 star review

Review – Dark Minds by Michelle Diener

Dark Minds

The mind is the most powerful weapon of all . . .

Imogen Peters knows she’s a pawn. She’s been abducted from Earth, held prisoner, and abducted again. So when she gets a chance at freedom, she takes it with both hands, not realizing that doing so will turn her from pawn to kingmaker.

Captain Camlar Kalor expected to meet an Earth woman on his current mission, he just thought he’d be meeting her on Larga Ways, under the protection of his Battle Center colleague. Instead, he and Imogen are thrown together as prisoners in the hold of a Class 5 battleship. When he works out she’s not the woman who sparked his mission, but another abductee, Cam realizes his investigation just got a lot more complicated, and the nations of the United Council just took a step closer to war.

Imogen’s out of her depth in this crazy mind game playing out all around her, and she begins to understand her actions will have a massive impact on all the players. But she’s good at mind games. She’s been playing them since she was abducted. Guess they should have left her minding her own business back on Earth…

So this is another one where I received an arc (this time from the author directly-this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review) and bought it anyway- because this author gives me great joy and I am pleased to throw the money at her. Not knowing where she lives and thus being unable to properly stalk and throw money in person, Amazon shall have to do.

I am both saddened and joyful to report that this is the completion of the Class 5 trilogy. I mean I adore series that complete, but I kind of want to stay here forever. But considering how much I complain about series that draggle on poorly forever, I’ll gladly take an author who leaves me wanting more over one who leaves me wishing I never started. So to briefly recap, the discovery of Rose and Sazo in Dark Horse alerted the Grih to the duplicity of the Tecran, and then the events of Dark Deeds alerted the United Council to just how far the treachery went bringing to light two more earth women and a greater scope of misdeeds.

So now we finally have the missing Isobel, and the final two enslaved thinking systems are in play in ways that no one could have expected. And I can’t rightly express how fascinating I find the culture Diener has built, or how impressed I am by how varied the characters are, especially the thinking systems. And the way the women have related to their experiences and associated with the Grih have been wildly different too.

Isobel actually spends the least time with Grih society as a whole, and the most time with her partner in a sort of enforced proximity compared to the other heroines, and that changes the dynamics of how she is perceived (by me at least) as a character. She is quite fatalistic, and angry, so angry at times. And Cam was such a suspicious blighter that you really can’t help but like him. Of course as satisfying as I found their relationship (and I did find it more satisfying than Fiona and Hal’s though slightly less so than Rose and Dav’s-if you want to keep score), for me the stars in this one were more the thinking ships. They played a much bigger role than they did in the last book, and I really felt I got to know Paxe and Oris to a significant extent. They are young so their personalities are still forming, but I KNEW them.

I am just gushing here, but I can’t help myself. I want to squee and scream, and laugh and cry, and accost people I don’t even know to MAKE them read this series. And here, I don’t even know where to go with this review, how to explain why it is such magic for me, but it is. Despite sadness and loss and cruelty, this series is pure magic for me, and I can’t recommend it enough.

While the Class 5 series is finished, I truly hope Ms. Diener chooses to keep writing science fiction, because I will continue to snap it up.

Dark Minds (Class 5 Series Book 3)

Standard
3 star review

Review – Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase

Captives of the Night.jpg

Leila Beaumont is a gorgeous and talented portrait painter trapped in a loveless marriage with her profligate husband, Francis. Though long ago, Francis very much played the hero, rescuing and wedding the orphaned 17-year-old Leila – Francis’ more recent hedonistic lifestyle of drinking, drugging and womanizing has not only earned him quite a few enemies in London, but lost him the love of his wife.

When Francis turns up dead in the Beaumont townhouse, right after a loud and vitriolic argument with his wife, Leila is seen as the primary suspect, innocent though she is. Because of Francis’ many enemies and victims, government officials instigate a quiet investigation, many of whom fear fallout from Francis’ numerous blackmail and extortion schemes.

The man they call on – the sexy blue-eyed Comte d’Esmond – is a man of many talents who has spent the past ten years as one of the government’s most trusted covert operatives; a man who also has a dark and treacherous past.

Neither Leila, nor d’Esmond is especially happy to be working together – their relationship is one of intense attraction accompanied by intense resistance. Leila had long ago given up on the idea of love and saw her husband as a means of propriety in London, but now she finds the dangerous Esmond’s seductive charm nearly irresistible.But work together they must: Esmond, with a carefully hidden identity that would shock Leila to the core and Leila with her own secrets to keep…

It’s danger that unites them and it’s danger that chains their hearts: Esmond’s virility and bold touch enflame Leila’s blood…and draw her into the most irresistible intrigue of all…truly passionate love.

I read these out of order, being captivated by Lord of Scoundrels I had to go back, but fortunately my library had the entire series available for immediate checkout. It turns out though, that books 2-4 in the series are somewhat intertwined. While this one does start out before the events of book 3, if I am reading it aright, it actually spans past book 4. So I am not entirely certain how it is book 2 in the series, but whatever, just know it is possible to read them out of order and be able to follow along, but perhaps for the way the characters in this story (in my opinion) suffer by comparison, it might be best to read them in order.

And I hate to say it, but this one just doesn’t quite come up to LoS’s level. Don’t get me wrong, it is good, quite good, and Loretta Chase has a hell of a way of turning a phrase, writing interesting characters, and mysteries. I don’t know, it just didn’t hit me quite the same way. Maybe it is that I read them out of order?

In any event, Leila is a strong willed and self possessed woman. She’s almost a little too perfect perhaps. She’s artistic and wickedly clever, almost preternaturally so. The Comte d’Esmond is almost ridiculously opaque, though Leila figures him out soon enough. There was a reasonable degree of chemistry there I suppose, they just didn’t come close to extremes exhibited by Jessica and Sebastian. Kind of like fuzzy copies, Leila just wasn’t near the tyro that Jessica was, and while Esmond had his own sad story, he just couldn’t tug my heart strings like Sebastian did. Perhaps if I had read the first book in the series (something it turns out I have no interest in doing), I might have had more sympathy for him…or maybe not.

What really shined though was the mystery and how they just kept turning through suspects and incidents and intrigues, like a a two headed snake that was eating itself, it kept me racing through the pages. I simply had to find out what happened next.

I don’t know what to say, overall it was middling so there’s just not much to say, it is good enough that it wouldn’t put me off reading her if I had started here, but I don’t think it is her strongest effort and it won’t be going on my re-reads shelf.

Captives of the Night (Scoundrels, #2)

Standard
4 star review

July TBR Challenge 2016 – Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Award Nominee or Winner

Lord of Scoundrels

DETERMINED LADY

Tough-minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when Dain’s reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction …

LORD OF SCOUNDRELS

Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him … and then forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place — and in some amorous position, And if that means marriage, so be it! — though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof … and steel his heart to the sensuous, headstrong lady’s considerable charm.

This particular month’s challenge was RITA Award Winners and Finalists, and it turns out I actually had several to choose from on my TBR.

This particular book has been on my TBR since I discovered Doc Turtle’s analysis at SBTB. This won’t be my first Loretta Chase, as that honor goes to Mr. Impossible, which was fantastic. I was actually fortunate enough to get this book digitally from the library, so whoohoo for saving money (and it turns out it is available from Open Library), but Lord of Scoundrels is actually the third book in the series, and I do not have time to read the others first, so I am jumping in and hoping for the best. It is a generally well liked book so I’ve got my fingers crossed, and since it is so well and often reviewed, and more than 20 years old, I shan’t apologize for any possible spoilers, you have been warned.

The story starts with a rather unhappy marriage and an even unhappier young Sebastian. Seriously, there ought to be a law against some people procreating. So he grows up hard and crude, and stunted emotionally. He has no faith in women or love and is basically an awful, awful person with a ton of self loathing.

Jessica Trent on the other hand is what turns this book from historical to wallpaper historical in my opinion. She is simply out there. Basically Chase plopped a contemporary (albeit slightly insane) heroine into a historical, AND I JUST DO NOT EVEN CARE! Seriously, Jessica is a trip and makes the story. She’s acerbic and strong willed, devious, and supremely competent. She’s runs circles around her brother Bertie, bowls over the hero, and takes the insults and stupidities of Sebastian’s rakish friends like Vere Mallory in her stride. And she doesn’t belittle herself for being a normal human being. In short, she’s my idea of delightful.

And their “courtship” can best be summed up in their most common phrase to one another “I should like to see you try.” Irresistible force meets unmovable object doesn’t even begin to cover it. It is a series one one ups and misunderstandings that are epic in their proportions. Meanwhile, they are both actually being very upfront and vulnerable to each other, though they each suspect the other’s motives and can’t see that fact.

Their “courtship” culminates with Jessica shooting Sebastian, so naturally enough he HAS to marry her, there is no other way for him to top that. At which point our protagonists finally get some extended time to work through their issues, and Sebastian in particular starts seeing the world and himself through a very different lens, which changes everything. And naturally they fall in love and live happily ever after.

So what if that sounds trite, it isn’t, and it is seriously delightful. My only issue I think comes from jumping into the series at a mid point, because it seemed as though there were characters that I should already know. However, going back and reading the blurb for Captives of the Night (book 2), it looks like that actually happens AFTER Lord of Scoundrels, so I am a little confused. In any event, following completion of LoS, I immediately checked out books 2 & 4, so I should get that all cleared up in my mind fairly shortly.

Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3)

Standard