4 star review

Review – A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot

Merciful Death

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.

Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge—even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she’s not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff’s deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.

Still shunned by her family and members of the community, Mercy must keep her ear close to the ground to pick up any leads. And it’s not long before she hears rumors of the area’s growing antigovernment militia movement. If the arsonist is among their ranks, Mercy is determined to smoke the culprit out. But when her investigation uncovers a shocking secret, will this hunt for a madman turn into her own trial by fire?

I didn’t think it was possible, but I find that I may just enjoy this series even more than the Callahan & McLane series, and that is saying something. There is something just so fantastically comforting and soothing about stepping into a world where adults are ADULTING. I know, it is weird right, but nowadays I tend to find myself doing some mental gymnastics trying to keep my head into a story about the young ones when I just want to scream at the book: “Love him?! You don’t even know him, you’re still just a child!” There is none of that here, just delightful characters who actually make sense to my brain.

This book is a continuation of the series, and while it may be possible to read it as a stand alone, I highly suggest reading at least the previous book if not even the other series too.  That is because there were inexpertly mended relationships that we get to see continue to grow and change, and that makes is really fascinating and lovely to watch. Additionally, I think the relationship between Mercy and Sheriff Truman Daly is a lovely and warm slow burning fire that deserves all the page time. Did I have my qualms in the last book? Absolutely. Did Elliot justify my faith in her capability to make me buy in? Again, absolutely.

Beyond the primary relationship though, there are a variety of other relationships to flesh out the human dynamic. Mercy’s brother, sister, and niece all got a significant amount of page time, but it was done in a way that further the overall plot well. And the plot served well to further the changing relationship dynamics. Ilona Andrews recently posted on the topic of episodic vs progressive series, that really re-framed how I am looking at series right now. And this is definitely progressive. The stakes are real and so is the character growth. None of these people are the same as when they started the first book.

Speaking of the plot, the suspense was well done, there were a couple of nice red herrings, and one major “you did NOT see that one coming” twist that made the mystery stand on its own rather than just being the vehicle to carry the romance. And as I said before, real stakes with real life type consequences.

I think there are a couple of things that have me edging this series ahead in my favoritism. One is that Mercy just barely edges out Ava in my affections. But two, the Callahan & McLane series focuses on the monsters. This one focuses more on relationships and the seething secrets in small town rural life. While I may not have any experience with monsters (which that fact does make that topic fascinating in its own way), I do have experience with the seething secrets in small, town rural life. So the Mercy series is a bit more like slipping into home.

Either way though, if you enjoy romantic suspense with slow burn romance and real life relationships with adultier adults, I cannot recommend Kendra Elliot enough.

A Merciful Truth (Mercy Kilpatrick #2)

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5 star review

Review – White Hot by Ilona Andrews Blog Tour + Giveaway

TastyToursReview

Review - White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Yes that original cover is as bad as you think it is, no it isn’t indicative of the quality of the story.

Ilona Andrews White Hot

Second one…not much (any) better.

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts since December 2015, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to get an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Edelweiss, through Tasty Book Tours (this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review and the usual disclaimer when it comes to Andrews applies…I bought it anyway).

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice . . .

Oh Nevada and Mad Rogan, how do I adore thee? I’ll admit Burn for Me was a little rough at first when it came to my preferences. It isn’t so much paranormal romance (abysmal covers notwithstanding) as it is urban fantasy that you can tell will eventually have a stronger romantic component. And the hero was fairly anti at the time. But sometimes an epilogue just smacks you upside the head and shakes up all your preconceived notions about a character. So I knew I’d have to read the next one. Of course with the long wait time, I found myself going back to the first book. And much like the first Kate Daniels book, this is one that seriously improves with re-reading. It went from a 3.5 basically saved by the epilogue that bumped it to 4.5, to one of my all time favorite books.

I never dreamed it would be so long until the next one came out though (heck the links and everything were still attached to my old Blogspot). But it’s probably for the best as I said, plenty of time for me to grow my love of these characters. Plus, new covers AND books 2&3 coming out so close together? It’s like a beautiful dream, except for that wait…and except for the covers not really changing. But hell, as I have said before, the cover curse is probably part of the fun now, and I guess it is nice that some things never change 🙂

We got a glimpses of the secrets hidden in Nevada Baylor in the first book, but this one blows those secrets wide open, and I LOVED it. It wasn’t like she was hiding it from herself, so much as that in the struggle for the day-to-day you don’t always have the chance to utilize your best self, if you see what I mean. But then BAM! you get that incident where you have to reach down and pull your best self out, that is where the magic happens and it was GLORIOUS! Nevada as a heroine rocks.

But as much as I adored Nevada, honestly (excepting her taste in men…initially) I adored her in the first book too. This second book really shone the light on Rogan, and it took facts we already knew about him, and then reframed them in a light that let us know, or maybe understand, Rogan better. Absolutely heartbreaking and heart wrenching, things that were pointed out gave me a filter to kind of take objectionable characteristics he exhibited, and overlay them with the understanding I have developed for the people I have in my life who have gone through similar situations.  PTSD is a hell of a thing. That is Ilona Andrews gift, giving us the humanity in these powerful…sometimes kind of insane alpha-hole characters.

And the relationship that built between these two strong people was fantastic, and funny, and a little sad all at the same time. Instead of a one note, one hit kind of resolution, it was messy just like life. And thankfully, we had enough will they/won’t they in the last book, so all that simmering heat just burst right onto the pages in this book. Very hot. And putting it all together created a very credible relationship that left me feeling warm…like super warm. But I definitely enjoyed the ride.

The story itself was action packed, and aggressive, and twisty-turny enough to keep me engaged through out. Wheels within wheels conspiracies are slowly being brought to the forefront and I have a bamboozled on that one. Plus there was a ton of zany, crazy sauce Baylor family drama, which was a definite plus to me because the family dynamics were and continue to be a major selling point for this series. And man do family dynamics (not just Nevada’s) play an important role in this series-the good and the bad. Few things irk me so much as a romantic couple that seems to live in a vacuum, bereft of other family, friends, and human contact. But this book is cause for rejoicing on that front. The secondary characters in this story are fleshed out and appealing and there are a host of them I’d be thrilled to see get their own stories. Do I want Bug, Cornelius, Leon, and Bernard to get their own features? Yes, yes I most certainly do!

The story arc for this book had a highly satisfying resolution (for a blood thirsty and vengeful girl like me you really can’t get much better than the ending this book’s big bad got at the hands of the person most wronged), and the overall series arc progressed enough that I am champing at the bit for the next book…but not so much that I feel I have any true inkling of how the final show down will go. And the teaser for the next one gave me all the angsty, excited shivers.

So I am giving this book all my squee points, and thus far it has been my reading highlight for the year. Now I am off to reread these compulsively until I get my sweaty hands on the next one.

White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)

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Challenge

#FitReaders- Weekly Check-In May 19, 2017

Trucking along, crushing my StepBet and making it sync with my Leap4Life, ready to be back on track on my computer. AND for the first time in over 3 years I am under 150 lbs! Plus I got a fairly reasonable week of sleep, for me anyway. Planing on my 5K for the week of the 26th!

Stats: Week May 13-19, 2017

Week May 19 ActiveWeek May 19 DistanceWeek May 19 StepsWeek May 19 Sleep

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2.5 star review

Review – The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

Girl Who Knew Too Much

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool…

The dead woman had a red-hot secret about up-and-coming leading man Nick Tremayne, a scoop that Irene couldn’t resist—especially since she’s just a rookie at a third-rate gossip rag. But now Irene’s investigation into the drowning threatens to tear down the wall of illusion that is so deftly built around the famous actor, and there are powerful men willing to do anything to protect their investment.

Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago…

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

So I am still feeling blah, and this book didn’t help. Wasn’t even sure I would write a review, but since I did read it, and it wasn’t a re-read, I may as well.

I had hopes. Quick/Krentz/Castle is usually a sure bet for me, and the opening few pages which I had previewed seemed good. And the switch to a more modern historical setting could have been good. But after opening with a bang, we slogged through the first 10 chapters/20% of the book with a whimper…of pain…for me. It was so very boring setting up the characters and the setting.

And then once we got into the story, even though events ostensibly got more exciting, my interest never perked up. I didn’t warm up to Oliver or Irene. They were flat, and so I didn’t particularly care for their relationship or what might happen to them.

The mystery was crazy sauce convoluted, and absolutely no one was who or what they seemed. But since I neither liked nor actively despised the side characters, this did not matter to me.

Final verdict: If you are a die hard fan, pick it up at your library if you are bored and don’t have high expectations. Otherwise, maybe give it a pass.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

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