4 star review

Review – The Obsession by Nora Roberts

The Obsession

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up―especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

Nora Roberts (AKA JD Robb)is probably the most prolific author I read. And her books are LONG, and consequently for me, satisfying. Her writings fall into a few different categories: the long running Eve Roarke series, stand alone romances, stand alone romantic suspense, and interconnected characters in trilogies, quads or families (which often hold paranormal elements). Her standalone romantic suspense can further be broken down into ones devoted to  a current event plot (which may or may not be a multiple character arc), and ones that follow the personal growth from childhood into current events, like The Witness. The Obsession falls into the latter category.

The things that worked for me were the extended timeline which made Naomi more of a fleshed out character for me, the personal growth she experienced, the plot pet, and the strong relationships she formed with others, particularly a female friend. I am a sucker for romances that feature friendships and families outside the romantic one. The quaint and charming town juxtaposed with the gruesome and triggering suspense also worked well for me.

What worked a little less well was Xander. The only thing keeping him out of complete and utter Gary Stu territory was that he had a healthy sense of self esteem. He was just a little t0o perfect; mechanic, handy-man, multi-business owner, property owner, in a successful town band, well regarded by literally everyone in town, good with dogs and children and has a serious love affair with books (he even reads Austen). In short, absolute wish fulfillment and I found him slightly bland. I mean Roberts’ heroes are often a bit too good to be true, so I am not sure why I focused in on Xander more than others, but opinions are very subjective and personal.

It is ok though, the focus was much less on Xander and much more on Naomi. And I really enjoyed seeing her open up to herself and those around her, much like in The Witness, it is kind of my jam, though this story is much darker and uncomfortable than that one. So in my world view, perfect Xander gets to be the won prince in our heroine’s story. Hey, I don’t expect anyone else to go along with my skewed world view 😉

So I do recommend this one, albeit with the caveat that unless you are a die hard Nora Roberts suspense fan, you might want to wait to get it used, get paperback pricing, or borrow it from the library. It is good, but not really phenomenal $14.99 must pick up now good. If you aren’t a die hard Roberts fan, well, with over 200 books to her credit, chances are there’s something you haven’t read yet at around half the price, including The Witness which is $7.99 and which I think it is about to get a re-read from me.

The Obsession

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3.5 star review

Review – Darkness by Karen Robards

Darkness

New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards continues her penchant for “fantastic storytelling” (RT Book Reviews) with this next heart-pumping romantic suspense novel, the tale of a brilliant ornithologist trapped on the remote Attu Island in Alaska, fighting for her life—and that of a handsome stranger—before they’re swallowed up in darkness forever.

BOOM. That’s the sound that changes everything for Dr. Gina Sullivan, a renowned ornithologist on a group research grant trip on the remote island of Attu, Alaska. When an everyday outing turns sinister at the onset of one of Attu’s infamous storms, Gina expects thunder and lightning—but what she doesn’t see coming is the small jet plane that drops out of the sky and into the water mere feet from her boat. Even more unprecedented: there’s a sole survivor from the crash, and he needs Gina’s help. But it turns out that rescuing the stranger and getting them both out of the oncoming storm is just the beginning. Because the more Gina learns about James “Cal” Callahan, he of brooding eyes and muscled frame, the more she fears—for herself, and for him.

Cal has made a career of trading on government secrets and emerging unscathed—until a routine pickup goes horribly wrong and lands him in ice-cold water. Literally. He knows the plane crash was no accident and that there could very well be an enemy force currently combing the Alaskan island ensuring there were no survivors. Now if only the arrestingly beautiful bird-watcher with the clear-blue gaze would stop watching him, well, like a hawk. Cal convinces Gina to return to base camp and help him covertly get off the island. But when Gina makes it safely back to camp and finds her entire team murdered, all bets are off, and as darkness envelops the island, she must decide: trust a man she barely knows, or go it alone and risk running straight into the arms of a killer?

It looks like after the paranormal crazysauce, we are back to some old skool Karen Robards. And by that I mean that this is very much a modernized retelling of her 1987 classic (and still one of my favorites) Night Magic.

Now don’t think this doesn’t have its own crazy sauce charms, because of course it does. It is just that it is old skool crazysauce rather than paranormal crazy sauce.

So we have a fundamentally broken heroine. The modernization leaves said heroine quite a bit more competent and independent than that older version, but the trade off isn’t a certain intrinsic reticence, it is a complete shattering of her life that leaves her so cut of from the world and from men. And we have a rough, tough, aggressive, world weary hero. He isn’t going to trust the heroine even as far as he can throw her at the start, which is par for the course with this cynic.

They meet, they have undeniable attraction, their mistrusts and different goals seperate them briefly, and then they are brought back together by the suspense/thriller plot arc. Danger, and madness, and smexing, and happily ever love ensues. The End!

And I could leave it at that, because this is the Karen Robards romantic suspense formula. But the devil is in the details, so to speak. For one thing, this is modernized, so if you want some of that sweet, sweet old skool “charm” without the dated feel, this is something of a winner. And consequently, with the updates, I think the heroine may be a little more relate-able, and the hero just ever so slightly less alpha-hole. I don’t know, maybe that is just me and it is a function of not having read Night Magic in a while (maybe an OpenLibrary foray is in my future?). Additionally the tech is much more current, so there isn’t the snickering that you get when you read an older romantic suspense because the technology is so dated.

This one may not be for everyone. Personally, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was action packed and adventure oriented, the suspense part was relatively plausible, as was the action. The main characters fairly sizzled, and while I don’t know that I necessarily buy the happily ever after, I definitely get the hot for right now feel. It was a good weekend read.

So whether you like this more or less than her most recent stuff is going to be a matter entirely of taste. But, if you had been feeling regretful or resentful of her most recent turn, and missed the old days, then this hearkens right back to the old Robards and you won’t want to wait to pick it up.

Darkness

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3 star review

Review – Mine to Protect by Cynthia Eden

MIne to Protect.jpg

He agreed to protect her…not love her.

Victor Monroe left behind a brutal past when he decided to become an FBI Agent. He knows that other agents think he’s too cold, that he has ice in his veins, but he doesn’t care what folks say about him. He gets the job done–always. No matter the cost.

Then he’s blackmailed into guarding…her.

Zoe Peters, ex-showgirl, daughter of a mob boss and drug dealer, a witness who wants to vanish. Zoe is wild, beautiful, and on far too many hit lists. It’s now Victor’s job to keep her safe–a job that Zoe makes damn difficult. But keeping her alive is his mission. It’s supposed to be strictly professional between them. Just another case. Only…

He never counted on falling for her.

Zoe is not the woman he expected. She isn’t cold or hard. She lights up the room when she walks into it, and despite the hell surrounding her, Zoe is good. Probably too good for Victor because Zoe doesn’t know about the secret deal that Victor worked out with her father. Zoe doesn’t know that Victor intended to use her for information and then turn her over to waiting operatives.

Desire wasn’t supposed to enter the equation. The white-hot lust he feels for Zoe should have never threatened Victor’s legendary self-control. But she’s under his skin…melting his ice…getting to him… Soon Victor doesn’t care about the law or about the lines he has to cross for Zoe. She is his priority. Victor will not rest until every threat to her has been eliminated. And then…

Zoe will be his.

I have been waiting for Victor’s book for what seems like forever. He actually crosses between Eden’s Mine series and her Dark Obsession series. As I have said most of these could be read as stand-alones but really, this is sort of a saga of the most villain-beleaguered group of friends and family you will  ever read. Just action packed soap opera and Victor seemed set to be the crowning touch as he’d previously stole the show.

Turns out he’s an effing snake in the effing grass. I could hardly believe it. Sure, he was conflicted about it and all, but he sure wasn’t clearing his mess up any time soon.

Zoe on the other hand, she absolutely rocks, she’s as one character put it, “one hell of a woman”. Kind, compassionate, moral, and a spitfire who rescues herself and others. Probably she’s one of my favorite Cynthia Eden heroines in a while.

Victor though, he’s a snake in the grass almost to the very end. The mystery was nice and twisty though, the story was action packed, and the chemistry between the two of them was fairly combustible. And it was really nice to get updated on some of my old favorite characters. Life is peachy for this villain beleaguered group, and it was lovely to see. It also prompted a re-read so that was nice to.

All in all, I enjoyed it, it wasn’t my absolute favorite in the series, I think I might have built Victor up a little too much. But it was a solid story and a good entertaining read.

Mine to Protect (Mine, #6)

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3.5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – A Coral Kiss by Jayne Ann Krentz

A Coral Kiss

With twenty-two New York Times bestsellers and millions of readers, Jayne Ann Krentz is one of the most popular romance superstars of our time. Now treat yourself to her deft and incomparable brand of riveting and sexy suspense in her classic tale of a woman, a man, and destiny’s many unexpected twists.

Successful author Amy Slater had a life in need of mending. And Jed Glaze proved to be the right man for the job after the pair hit it off as fabulously good friends. Then one day Jed shows up with a mysterious injury of his own—and suddenly dark, confounding, yet utterly irresistible Jed becomes a lot more than “just a friend”.

Now it’s a time for not only mutual healing and delightfully sensuous nights but for sharing secrets that could prove a little dangerous for them both. On a jaunt to a Pacific island paradise, Amy and Jed will unearth the key to the unsolved murder that has haunted Amy’s nights—and discover how surprisingly and exquisitely fated two seemingly mismatched hearts can be.

Yeah, so reading Secret Sisters prompted a re-read. Luckily it’s available on Openlibrary so I have a good excuse for reviewing it here. (Why I need an excuse, I don’t know. I mean, it’s my blog, I can review what I want. But I never said I wasn’t neurotic.)

In any event, my usual Openlibraryu disclaimer applies, if you’re checking out the book from OpenLibrary, then you need to check out the PDF…unless you enjoy playing the bad OCR game. I can’t verify the quality of the scan because I’m reading my personal copy, but most of the time they do a good job.

Basically, I re-read this specifically because when I was reading Secret Sisters this was one of the books that came to mind when I was thinking “Wait this isn’t any darker, grittier, or edgier than…“. And I remembered liking it. So bear with me, because there are going to be comparisons between the two books. I can neither guarantee that if you haven’t read either book you’ll either understand the review or not be spoiled. I’ll try to be clear, that is kind of the point. And I’ll try not to spoil people. But no promises, feel free to step off the crazy train if needed. Also, I always have a bad habit of not referring to characters by name, and that is much more likely to be irritating here when I am actually talking about two or three sets of characters, mea culpa.

The first thing I noticed was how much more comfortable the dialogue felt in this older novel. That could be due to a couple of reasons. One, it could be due to the fact that I have read this before, maybe it feels more comfortable because I am more familiar with it. Or two, it could be because these characters already have backstory, which then the other component may be that it was a purposeful stylistic choice she made in the newer novel in deference to the fact that they don’t have as much backstory.

The second thing I noticed was how much more of the focus was on the characters and their thoughts and feelings in the older novel, compared to a greater focus on events and dialogue in the newer novel. I agree with Krentz’s assessment that the focus IS different in her latest novel. The older is more romance with suspense whereas the newer is more suspense with romance. Let me try that again. The older novel, the main focus is on the relationship, and while there is significant suspense and mystery, much of it is couched in how it affects the characters, their perceptions of each other, and their relationship. The newer book is more about the mystery and the twists and turns, and the relationship is more along for the ride, it wasn’t that is was merely appended, but that their relationship wasn’t the lens through which we viewed the mystery.

There are significant similarities between the two books though. For instance, both heroes are super masculine, highly capable, associatied with governmental investigations that give them negative views of the world, AND they each have one softening feature that leavens their character and that they rely on to ease the stresses of their lives. The newer book utilizes cooking while the latter has the hero make fancy bird cages as a hobby. Of course the older book the dialogue seems a little snappier and makes me giggle snort rather than it feeling defensive.

“When I decide to get an agent, I’ll consult you. In the meantime, no more sneaking around behind my back buying birdcages without my permission, understand?”

I don’t know, it just made me laugh.

As for our two heroines, they both have had traumatic pasts that impact their lives. I suppose one could say that having terrible events happen in childhood, as Secret Sisters does, makes it darker, but that isn’t my perspective. The thing that strikes me though, is how much more agency the character in A Coral Kiss had, she does creates action she does effect (or affect) the outcomes. The heroine in Secret Sisters has things happen to her and around her, but she does comparatively little to shift the events of the narrative. So while the more current heroine is nominally written more feminist, it seems more surface and window dressing. And the heroine in the older novel is written much more feminine and nurturing outwardly, but that again is more surface when underneath it all I’d say the older heroine is actually the stronger character, in this respect. It is an interesting dichotomy.

But here’s something remarkably, I don’t know, “meta” from A Coral Kiss. The heroine is a writer and the hero is thinking about her book.

“The tone had seemed darker than the others, not as adventurous and lighthearted in its dealing with the perils faced by the hero and heroine. In a way it had been a better book, richer in detail and characterization, but there had been an uneasy edge to it that set it apart from the others.”

How’s that for some sort of cosmic sign that I picked the right book to compare Secret Sisters to?

Things were going asking swimmingly, and I came to a screeching halt. How did I not notice this when I read it previously? How did I not remember it? The heroine slaps the hero because she’s pissed at him. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t mind the somehow dated sex scenes and dated man/woman interactions, but that’s almost a deal breaker. I guess my perspectives have changed, which in this case is all too the good. So I reminded myself this thing was published in 1987, so almost 30 years ago, a lifetime in the publishing industry, and was on my merry way.

In any event, bottom line, I disagree that there is anything darker in the new one. I think this is classic Krentz, the sort of thing she does so well, maybe with more emphasis on the suspense, but the overall bones are the same.

A Coral Kiss

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3.5 star review

Review – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Secret Sisters.jpg

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same.

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants.

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

I almost always read Jayne Ann Krentz (and her pen names) immediately, and this one was no different, despite the author’s foreboding words about how different it is from her usual stories. She described it as darker, grittier, and edgier. I don’t mind any of that, but I was wondering how much of my Krentz fondness was due to nostalgia and comfort, and how much was her ability to weave a story. I mean, we like what we like, and it is often remarkably tough to parse out WHY we like or dislike things.

So the beginning was dark, as promised. And then we move into meeting our grown up heroine and her hero. Madeline is aggressive and icy and emotionally closed off. But Jack, Krentz paints him as sexy right from the beginning, or at least in my opinion she does, because men who are competent in the kitchen are my catnip. It made him seem softer and was a nice foil to his otherwise rough tough image and was a nice characterization thread throughout.

Anyway, we get into the mystery pretty quick. And, it is hard to explain, but the dialogue is a little stilted. It is like Krentz was trying to wade into unfamiliar waters and she feels unbalanced and couldn’t quite get a feel of what her characters would say, or how they should say it. There is also some kind of Nora Roberts vibe, I don’t know, but the set up with dual couples and the suspense just had something of a Roberts feel.

In any event, once the mystery really got up and running I didn’t mind the slightly awkward dialogue anymore I was just sucked into this over the top dramatic suspense. Except I also kind of wasn’t. I was into it, don’t get me wrong, but if something distracted me from it, it often kept me distracted and I didn’t find myself racing back to the story. It is hella twisty turvy though, and the twists actually make sense and are logical, though our PI hero spends a tad too much time explaining it all.

So here’s the deal, I think I am getting a handle on why I enjoy steampunk, science fiction, paranormal, fantasy and urban fantasy so much more than contemporary. Because people are people and there are really only so many ways to write them, and there are really only so many mysteries, so many motivations, and so many ways to put people in jeopardy. And when you are working within the framework of contemporary you tend to be constrained I think. Other genres I think allow for more creativity. The things you can explore are practically limitless, so you get novel settings, unusual rules to the world, and every now and then it seems like it opens up a different choice or makes the people set in those fantastical settings just a bit different.

I don’t know, I guess I am jaded on contemporary romantic suspense. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this one and will gladly continue reading Krentz, darker or not. She still weaves a hell of a tale, and that hasn’t really changed. But frankly I wouldn’t consider this darker, edgier, or grittier in the least. It is comparative to Silver Linings, Soft Focus, or A Coral Kiss (albeit with some feminist flair that’s glaringly obvious in these older books), all books I have enjoyed. I’d say the story is more detailed, tricky and maybe tightly plotted, but this isn’t groundbreaking to me, it is more like returning to the late 80’s through the 90’s in my opinion. So if like me you enjoyed this previous books, you’ll probably like this one too. I’m giving this 3.5 stars because while I enjoyed it, I guess t didn’t live up to expectations, and I am not sure I’d reread this one, I’d probably reread one of those other three, and I think this may actually prompt a reread.

Secret Sisters

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3.5 star review

Review + Giveaway Shattered by Cynthia Eden

shattered

Shattered

I received 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.

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden’s latest novel featuring the Last Option Search Team (LOST), one agent is forced to face her past as she uncovers secrets about the man who may be the key to her future.

Criminal psychologist Dr. Sarah Jacobs is all too familiar with the kind of bad boys who belong behind bars. But the dark, dangerous man she meets in the New Orleans underworld is a new kind of ruthless, and all too irresistible.

Jax Fontaine doesn’t claim to be a good guy, but he’s loyal to his own code and brutally honest about what he wants. He and Sarah may be worlds apart, but when they’re skin to skin, nothing matters but the heat between them.

And when a deranged killer targets Sarah, Jax will do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Grand Prize: $50 Amazon.com Gift Card; Five (5) runners up will get copies of BROKEN and TWISTED, books 1 & 2 in the LOST series by Cynthia Eden)
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Excerpt

“No judgment,” he murmured. “There’s no anger in your eyes, no rage or disgust at me for being a cold bastard. No pity for the kid I was who got beaten in a dirty alley and left to die.”

“Don’t be too sure you understand what I feel.”

“Why not? I actually think I understand you very, very well.”

Sarah backed up a step.

A faint smile curved his lips. “It was there from the first time I saw you. That instant connection. Doesn’t happen often. Actually, it’s never happened to me before. I looked up, saw you, and thought—”

Sarah pretty much ran for the door.

But he caught her. His hands wrapped around her and Jax pulled her back against his body. His hold wasn’t hard or rough. Oddly, it was infinitely tender.

“Do you know what I saw when I looked in your eyes?” he whispered into her ear.

Sarah shook her head.

“You were hurting. Trying to hide your pain, but I could still see it. I looked at you and thought—I never want her to hurt again.”

Tears stung her eyes. “You don’t know me. Or what I’ve done.” Jax thought his past was bad? It was nothing compared to hers. She still had nightmares that had her waking in the night, choking for breath, and begging for help.

Help that hadn’t come. Not in time.

“Tell me why you came to see me tonight, Sarah.”

She sucked in a quick breath and decided to go with the truth. “Because I didn’t want to lie in bed and be afraid. Because I didn’t want to think about the past or the future.” Because she’d felt that insane connection between them, too.

The first time she’d seen him, she’d looked into his eyes and thought—

He can handle all my darkness. He won’t ever be afraid of what I tell him.

Because his gaze had told her that he’d already looked into hell … and hadn’t given a damn about the demons there.

He turned her in his arms. She made herself look up and into his eyes. He was so warm and strong against her. And he made her … want. Yearn for things that she’d denied herself for so very long.

Because she hadn’t wanted anyone to get close. She hadn’t trusted anyone with all her secrets.

She didn’t trust him, either. She’d be a fool to do that. But—she did want him. And every instinct Sarah possessed screamed at her that Jax Fontaine could give her the sensual oblivion she craved.

A few hours to forget. A few hours to just pretend that I’m not the freak in the room. The monster that everyone else fears.

“What do you want from me?” Jax asked her.

Just a night. She’d be leaving New Orleans soon, flying out on a plane and heading back to her little house in the suburbs of Atlanta. They wouldn’t see each other again. So no one else would know about what happened tonight. Just her.

Just him.

Review

This is the third book in the series. While I do think this can be read as a standalone, I have read the previous two and enjoyed them, and I think it does make the characters more meaningful, so I highly suggest reading this series in order. As I have said before Cynthia Eden’s books are like crack for me. They are addictive, with a quick short high, that doesn’t last long, and leaves you scrambling for the next one, often with very little memory of that previous high. Fortunately for us readers, book crack is not in fact actual crack, and so we are free to indulge as we please and as often as we please.

LOST, Last Option Search Team, is a group that finds the missing. All the members have their demons, their secrets, for why they ended up where they are now. Dr. Jacobs secrets seemed to be darker, the way she can put her self into the minds of killers and the hints about her past, and that seeming couldn’t have been more true. I’ll admit though, I was kind of hoping she’d end up with guilt stricken good guy Wade, but this was so much better.

Jax Fontaine has secrets, secrets from those around him, and secrets even from himself. He’s dark, and edgy, and oft times brutal. But he can handle Sarah’s darkness. And from my perspective, he’s sexy and I could just eat him up. However, I am completely unsure who the hell that man on the cover is supposed to be, because it certainly isn’t Jax Fontaine,

So let me get the negatives out of the way first. For those who are bothered, this is sort of insta-love, or at least insta-lust. Granted it started in the previous book, but that only adds a couple of days to their relationship. It worked fine for me, but your mileage may vary. There was also a rather lackadaisical approach to birth control that I was less than pleased with. But that is my particular hot button, so again, YMMV.

But on to the good. This book was a roller coaster of twists and turns. Just absolutely dozens of twists and turns. By the end of it was completely shocked by who the villain turned out to be, and that doesn’t happen too often. I may not completely guess, but they are almost always on my radar. This one just hit me with several blind sides. The chemistry between the two main characters was smoking and sweet. We got just enough glimpses to be sure previous couples were still on the right path to their happily ever afters without it being so much that it overwhelms the current story, or that I think it would be intrusive to new readers. And like I said, the action and the mystery kept me absolutely riveted.

Eden’s romantic suspense don’t usually hit my re-read shelves, they just aren’t that compelling or deep. But they are always consistent and I devour them gleefully because she never lets me down. She’s probably also one of the more prolific writers on my must read list with over 60 titles between her paranormal and her romantic suspense lines, and I haven’t had a true dud yet. So for a book crack dealer, she’s always my best bet. Shattered is great addition for the addicted, and I can’t wait for Victoria and Wade’s respective stories.

Shattered (LOST, #3)
Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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4 star review

Review – Midnight Fire by Lisa Marie Rice

Midnight Fire

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.

Jack Delvaux is alive Summer Redding thought the blindingly handsome jock who’d loved and left her years ago had died in the Washington Massacre. She grieved for her lost golden boy as the rest of the country mourned their dead—until she comes home to find a very alive Jack Delvaux waiting for her with a devastating secret that turns her life upside down.

No longer the carefree man he was in his youth, this Jack is dark, hard and dangerous; a fifteen-year veteran of the CIA hungry for answers…and hungry for her. The rich, good-looking charmer who broke her heart once before would have been easy to resist, but this man, this powerful man? Summer needs him, and he knows it.

When Jack’s mission uncovers evidence of government involvement in the Massacre—and plans for another attack—he’s primed for revenge. But he has more than vengeance to live for now, and when Summer’s life is threatened, it’s nearly Jack’s undoing. Someone taking shots at his woman? That’s a dead man walking.

This is book 4 in the Men of Midnight series, and book 7 overall of interconnected characters. This author has a very repeatable format that I find really enjoyable and it is comforting for me to read. Man and woman hit deep into some over the top intrigue, close knot clan of former military operatives turned private sector close ranks, hero and heroine save each other (either metaphorically or physically), evil is vanquished, true love prevails, and happily ever is achieved. I don’t think Lisa Marie Rice is glommable, because it might get a little repetitive. But if you are looking for romantic suspense without the angst, she is a sure-fire winner.

Midnight Fire adds a new twist to her format, the second chance romance, so I was eager to check it out. I have a love hate relationship with second chance romances, so I really never know how I am going to respond, but I do tend to favor it in shorter romantic suspense because often you get insta-love in that type of story to make room for the action. So it feels kind of nice for the main characters to have some history together.

And man this heroine is rocking it. Not that previous heroines in the series haven’t been smart or together, especially the last one. But Summer is in a whole different league. She runs the biggest political expose blog and is tapped into all sorts of information. And it is that information and those contacts, as much as her previous relationship with Jack, that gets her sucked into this intrigue.

On the second chance front, Summer might have pined hard-core when he first broke her heart, but she got back out there and lived her own life, dated, created a career she loved, the whole shebang. Jack, while he might not have pined after he left her, admitted what an unthinking man-child he was back then, has been sad and lonely for a lot longer than just this past tragedy, and gets cutely gushy and open with Summer almost immediately as with the 20/20 hindsight he recognizes what he missed out on. It struck enough of a second chance balance for me to enjoy it,

And for those of you, who like me are on condom watch, while there isn’t explicit contraceptive use, there also weren’t any thoughts or conversations about being willing to risk it etc. So it was, I don’t know if better is the right word or just less irritating. I can handle characters who don’t even think about it better than I can characters who consciously make what I consider a stupid decision.

The suspense though, that was a mix of ripped from the headlines and over the top espionage CIA thriller movie-esque action. Think Live Free or Die Hard. There really isn’t any mystery, we even spend some time in the evil villain’s head. The question is just how is Rice going to shake this one out. But it was engrossing seeing how it all fell apart and came together. And I always enjoy it when the heroine saves the day.

Honestly, I found Midnight Fire to be a delightful little treat for rounding out my evening. A nice way to go through a second chance romance, especially for those of us who like a little Bruce Willis-esque action in our romance. And while the hero didn’t grovel, he got nicely gooey over the heroine in short order and did apologize.

Midnight Fire (Men of Midnight, #4)
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