Rough Terrain – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #7

Pages: 384

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Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

I did it!! I started a new saga in 2018 and I have ended it in 2019!! Barely a year and a half to fulfill such accomplishment. It is pretty huge for me. I usually get distracted by new and shiny sagas and I forget about the ones that I had already started. The Out of Uniform series deserves that honor, even though there have been some books that are not that great. But, the last one is a nice goodbye, although it could have been better.

This last time we follow Renzo, the SEAL known as Rooster, a gym junkie and a skydiving lover who has to deal with the hero complex his family is putting on him. On the other hand, we have Canaan; the former drummer and current nurse student who is way too fond of Renzo’s tight T-Shirts. A fake boyfriend favor turns into an adventure to save their lives and they both realize that life is too precious to waste…

My first impression of the story is not a good one. It takes too long to go forward and the first chapters are a bit awkward. The initial chemistry between Renzo and Canaan was pretty low and unremarkable,  which made me be afraid I was going to face another boring couple that leaves me feeling indifferent. Thankfully, that changes little by little. The book really starts when they travel to the Colorado Canyon and have the little adventure against the elements. That was fun (for the readers, I’m not a sadist!!) and was the perfect stage for some necessary bonding between the main characters. After that, it keeps a slow pace, but steady and always forward.

The fact that I couldn’t connect with the main characters during the first chapters could have meant being bored to death during the most emotional situations; but, by the time those moments happen, the couple had already grown on me and I felt the sweet discomfort of the bumpy ride. These guys deserve happiness and I’m glad they have found a version of it. I must admit I am not altogether convinced of their arrangement. I can’t shake the feeling that the path taken has been chosen to please more Renzo’s mother thatn Renzo himself. But that could be my jelousy talking!

The characters are OK, but I have had a harder time to get to like them than I was expecting. Renzo is not the guy I thought, he is somehow better; but at the same time he is lacking something. He is a good guy, loyal, polite… He is way too good. He needed some spice, some cockiness, some player attitude. He looks the part, but doesn’t behave like that. It’s a bit disconcerting, actually. Until the author lets us know him better, Renzo is even a boring character. And Canaan… that guy is too direct. No filter or anything similar with this guy. All day talking about sex gets old very fast. He didn’t rock my world as he did with Renzo’s, but I admit they are pretty great together.

And now I will have to hunt down another of Annabeth’s sagas, because I like her style. Out of Uniform has been a welcome surprise. A sweet and emotional jouney through seven books that have shown me that Military Romance can be awesome if done properly.

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Naughty Stranger – Stacey Kennedy

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Author: Stacey Kennedy
Series: Dangerous Love #1
Release dayJune 11th 2019
Pages: 384

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After a sudden tragedy blew her world apart, Peyton Kerr fled her big city career and started over in Stoney Creek, Maine. So far, she’s loving small-town life–no one knows about her past, and her easy flirtation with Boone Knight gives her a reason to smile. But then someone is murdered in Peyton’s store, and her quiet, anonymous existence is instantly destroyed. To make matters worse, Boone–a police detective–is assigned to the case, and Peyton knows she can’t keep him at arm’s length any longer. She’s resisted the simmering heat between them–but now this gorgeous man is promising to keep her safe–and satisfied…

Boone Knight doesn’t want the complications of a relationship. But when he volunteers to protect his town’s newest–and sexiest–resident, he finally admits he’d like to explore their sizzling attraction. And after one incredible night, everything changes for Boone. Peyton is sweeter–and braver–than anyone he’s ever met, and with her in his arms, everything makes sense. He just needs to convince her to trust him enough to reveal her secrets, or risk losing her to a merciless killer who seems to grow bolder with each passing day.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This book has been hard to rate. On one hand, it has been a nice surprise that the mystery part is an important part of the story. On the other hand… when there is not someone bleeding, the book gets boring pretty fast. At the end, it feels like a nice first step for a saga, but it could have been handle better.

Through the pages of the book we meet Peyton, a young widow who is desperate to have a fresh start and regain some kind of happiness. In order to achive that, she drops her job as a nurse and goes to live to a small town to be the owner of a lingerie shop. There (in the town, not in the shop) she meets Boone, the hot detective. To add some spice to a pretty basic plot, a murder takes place in Peyton’s new shop…

In my opinion, the best part of the book is the mystery surrounding the murder and its link with Peyton. Those parts are the most enjoyable and the ones that add a good pace to the story. They are fast, well-timed and packed with different levels of action. It is a big surprised, actually. Reading the blurb, I thought the murder was going to be something in the background barely touched, but its presence is much more meatier than that. I really like that and I hope the next books follow the same pattern. Being said that, the mystery is also pretty simple and way easy to solve. Not only the who, also the why. The author drops too many clues to the reader and few suspects, so it is easy to add 2 plus 2. It is actually a bit weird that four detectives and Peyton were incapable of solving it sooner…

Too bad the nice mystery plot is paired with a truly unremarkable romance. Why on the name of all that is holy did they have to kiss in the prologue? Yes, the prologue!! Something like that pisses me off so badly. I felt robbed of everything good of the first steps of a blossoming romance. Where are the banter, the flirting, the playfulness and the eagerness to meet each other before going all in? They kiss, they ignore each other, then talk again and… sex. With one rule: nothing serious. But, somehow, by the end of the book, that rule is ignored and we, the readers, are punished with one of the most absurd and unrealistic proposals I have ever read. Zero sense. It is starting to sicken me the concept of a wedding as the only possible happily ever after. At the same time I was reading that, my mind was writing its own What if? where Peyton was revealed as the true murderer to make the last pages bearable.

If to a bad romance you add uncharismatic characters you obtain a bunch of really boring pages that made me wish for another murder to stoke my interest in the story. Fair is fair. The characters work just fine, but they are a bit simple. There is barely any sense of humour or talks about simple things. All conversations are heavy weights for the soul and it is tiring. Not even when the hunky cops are united the atmosphere gets lighter. They are too serious for their age. So, I didn’t enjoy the love/sex scenes with the main couple. I can’t believe in their relationship. I challenge them to tell me just one hobby of the other one. Their favourite food, or colour, or book or something other than the tragedies of their lives. They DO NOT know each other. I can’t buy their love, sorry.

When my interest in the romance is low, I tend to get annoyed by other tiny details that have no importance, but it is how my mind cope with the boring parts. For example, it upsets me greatly the fact that in Maine is not mandatory to use helmet. The stupidity of that is not the author’s fault, but I was very surprised by the fact that Peyton doesn’t make any remarks about it. She was a ER nurse. She must have seen dozens of wounded bikers who saved their lives thanks to the helmet. And her first husband died in a car accident. I find pretty unbelievable that she is so nonchalant about the fact that Boone doesn’t use helmet while riding his bike. If she really cared…

I could point out more situations where I read too much into them due to my lack of interest for the romance. Like the slowest ambulances in the world to make the hero be the first or a sex scene in an abandoned greenhouse that was use by drug dealers… Very, very romantic… But that’s all on me.

Does the bad win over the good parts? I would say it has ended in a tie. I will read the second book and hope with all my might that the romance between Remy and Asher is better.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Skin and Bone – T.A. Moore

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Author: T.A. Moore
Series: Digging Up Bones #2

Pages: 240

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Cloister Witte and his K-9 partner, Bourneville, find the lost and bring them home.

But the job doesn’t always end there.

Janet Morrow, a young trans woman, lies in a coma after wandering away from her car during a storm. But just because Cloister found the young tourist doesn’t mean she’s home. What brought her to Plenty, California… and who didn’t want her to leave?

With the help of Special Agent Javi Merlo, who continues to deny his growing feelings for the rough-edged deputy, Cloister unearths a ten-year-old conspiracy of silence that taps into Plenty’s history of corruption.

Janet Morrow’s old secrets aren’t the only ones coming to light. Javi has tried to put his past behind him, but some people seem determined to pull his skeletons out of the closet. His dark history with a senior agent in Phoenix complicates not just the investigation but his relationship with Cloister.

And since when has he cared about that?

When I finished the first book, I was scared that the saga was cancelled. Two years between the first and the second book is not something normal in Romance. In that genre you can even find authors who publish a book every two weeks. Although I would bet the quality in those stories is not as high as in the books of the Digging up bones saga.

We obviously follow again the adventures of Cloister, Javi and the K-9 unit called Bourneville. This time, a trans woman is attacked in Plenty and Cloister saves her life just in time. It’s up to him and Javi to discover who is behind the attack. Meanwhile, they must also discover what the hell is that thing brewing between them.

As in the previous book, the mystery takes a huge chunk of the story, what makes the book feels special. I think it would be a perfect story to introduce someone to the genre, because is not heavy in the romance and the suspense part is developed with enough care to entertain a mystery lover. But it has a tiny problem. It is a bit hard to follow. At least for me. There are too many names and important events being mention and mixed at all times. So many leads that collide with each other… It makes me wish to have taken a notebook to draw a schema of the case, because more than once I was lost. It doesn’t make the book less enoyable, but days after finishing it I still have some questions about what really happened.

The love part is infuriatingly slow. Don’t get me wrong, that is what makes it greater than other love stories. Since the first moment, the author lets the reader know that Javi and Cloister are perfect for each other. But, at the same time, doesn’t allow the characters to acknowledge it. We have to witness an endless string of excuses and half-hearted fights among them. I found myself yelling at them more than once. Usually a classic: Kiss already, you idiots!!! It was really unnerving sometimes (sweet unnerving, though). When I ship so hard for a couple that means they are giving me what I enjoy most in the Romance genre: slow brewed love. These guys are following all the steps one by one in order to make sure they have something real and durable. I wouldn’t mind if they speed thing up just a little bit and stop being so stubborn, though. Maybe in the third book they will finally hold hands or something equally cute.

The cuteness of this book is hoarded by none other than Bourneville, the partner of Cloister and eerily amart dog. I know Cloister keeps reminding us that Bon is not a pet. That cuddling her is not really a good idea, but she keeps being cute and melting hearts everywhere. It comes to my mind the time she was pretending being asleep to avoid being kicked from the couch. Or her adorably crush on cats. How in the Hell can anyone stop petting her in those situations? Sometimes I think Cloister wants her all by himself. That’s not cool, man!!

Will we have to wait another two years for the third book? I hope not, but I’m already loyal, so I will wait no matter what. So far, I’m enjoying this couple and I wish this format were more common in the genre. I mean, the same couple for several books instead of a different couple in every book. Which is also great, but the scales are much more favourable to the later, so…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Uncharted – Anna Hackett

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Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #2

Pages: 221

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Former Navy SEAL Callum Ward has one motto–live life to the fullest. He saw the worst of war and lost good friends, but now he works for Treasure Hunter Security. When he’s not providing security for archeological digs and invaluable museum exhibits, or off on daring treasure hunts, he’s rock climbing, racing, or skiing. Nothing–and no one–has ever tempted him to slow down…until on an expedition into the Cambodian jungle, he has to work with one opinionated, prickly photographer, Dani Navarro. But soon their straight-forward trek to find a lost temple turns deadly, and Cal and Dani find themselves under attack from a dangerous black-market antiquities ring prepared to kill.

Dani Navarro lives for her photography. For years, it’s been her escape from her family and their frivolous lifestyle, affairs, and dramas. With her camera in hand, she travels the world, capturing other people’s moments and avoiding messy entanglements. At first, she thinks Cal Ward is no different from all the other men she’s known, but as their expedition turns into a hazardous dash through uncharted jungle, she uncovers a tough, intelligent, and sexy protector. Together, they must outwit their pursuers and find not only a lost temple…but a priceless, powerful artifact.

Sometimes, aiming for simple is what makes something greater. I think this could be the case of the Treasure Hunter Security series. I know this is just the second book of the saga, but I’m startintg to see the pattern. Quick romance full of action is nothing that will rock your world forever, but it will keep you entertain long enough. Perfect book to just relax reading.

This time we follow Declan’s brother, Callum, in a journey to Cambodia for a mission that didn’t look that difficult. He just has to make sure a group of archeologists and a photographer are safe while searching for a forgotten temple. The mentioned photographer is not other than Dani Navarro, a tough woman who doesn’t fall for Cal’s charm at first sight. What started as a promising journey, becomes a run for their lives…

I said the same thing with the first book: the little facts and curiosities about the Cambodian history and mythology are the true treasure of the story. They are simple unexpected. They are introduced during the book with an easiness worthy of any good educational article meant for the general public. A small and entertaining history lesson is not something you expect in a Romance book of this kind, so it needs to be praised properly!!

The pace is non-stop action. I think more or less the first two books are similar in size, but this second one felt shorter. Not a single stop for breathing, between meeting the characters, the journey and the constant danger they have to endure. There is not a single dull moment or uneventful passage. But even though everything goes fast, there is enough time to get to know the main characters. Maybe not enough to make them special, but just the right amount of it to make the story work.

As I said before, the characters, Cal and Dani, are OK but nothing worth mentioning beyond that. Their dynamic is pretty classic: “I’m the over confident hunk who is going to be in your bed no matter what” opposite to the “I’m the strong woman who refuses your charm like for ten seconds before investing all in“. Even though is crazy fast, I have less issues believing this romance than the one in the previous book. Don’t ask me why. They somehow feel more real. And yet is not good enough to really enjoy the sex scenes. There are not many, but it is the only part of the book that I wished were shorter. It just took room from the good parts!! And having sex in the middle of an ancient temple can’t be healthy…

The book is pure enjoyment and I will keep reading this saga if this is what I’m going to get. Simple book, but very effective.

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2019 – Book Gallery

The Friend Zone – Sariah Wilson

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Author: Sariah Wilson
Release day:  June 11th 2019
Pages: 304

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Disgraced college quarterback Logan Hunt was on his way to NFL stardom when he messed up big-time. Now the Texas star player with a bad temper has a new option: Seattle’s EOL College—as in End of the Line, to his fellow misfit recruits. It’s Logan’s last chance. If he can follow the rules. No parties, no fighting, no swearing, and oh, no dating the coach’s daughter, Jess. Simple. Yeah, right. For Logan, there has never been a rule he’s more tempted to break.

The deal is “just friends.” The pretty, confident, and fiercely smart math whiz is fine with pizza, tutoring, and keeping Logan in line. But the closer Jess gets, the more receptive she is to his warm heart and spirit—not to mention his irresistible off-field passes. With defenses down, they’re both heading into the danger zone.

It’s more than thrilling. It’s love. It’s also a game changer that could sideline Logan’s NFL goals—and more important, a future with Jess. But dreams are worth fighting for, right?

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One of these days I will finally understand what makes a New Adult book be classified as such. I would have said this book would be on that genre, but every source I have checked considers this book just Contemporary Romance. In the end, it’s not that important; except for tidy shelves. In any case, here we go with The Friend Zone!!

This book follows the adventures of Logan Hunt, a college student and football player who has been kicked off his former team for bad behaviour. He ends in en EOL College, where he will be given a second and last chance. There he meets Jess, the witty and fun daughter of his current coach. They become almost insta-friends and it could develop much more further if it wasn’t for a tiny detail: the coach doesn’t allow his players to have dates under penalty of expulsion…

If you  told me a couple of years ago that I would enjoy so much the several Sport Romance books I have read lately, I would have thinked you were crazy or talking with the wrong person. I’m not a sports guy. Like, not at all. But I guess I enjoy the healthy banter these books usually have. The Friend Zone is no exception. The most remarkable characteristic of this story is the dynamic between Logan and Jess. It is beautifully written. A slow dance that takes us through all the stages from funny flirtation to mindblowing friendship and an equally sweet and hot romance. No rush. No crazy displays of love. Every step has the utmost respect for the characters and their situations, which makes everything much more realistic.

In case it is not clear, I’m in love with the characters of this book. Jess is the usual woman you find in this kind of books: independent, smart and not an easy prey. What makes her more special is the fact that she remains like that way longer than other female characters in similar books. And Logan… *sigh*. When I started the book the first thing that came to my mind was: I smell a book boyfriend. My first impression was spot on! I’m not going to say he is perfect, because there are a couple of situations that made me frown; but he is pretty close: good humored, funny, honest, loyal, hard-working and, surprie, surprise, a full package hottie. in the previous book I read, I met the worst kind of cocky. Logan, on the other hand, is the perfect kind. So with these two, I really enjoyed the romance between them. Playful, charismatic, sweet… And man… those kisses… they were really hot. The undeniable power of keeping it simple. No need of sex to sell the readers their connection.

Not everything shines under the sun, though. The book has also a couple of things that I don’t like that much. The most obvious one are the coach’s rules. More precisely, the one against dating. Why? I know there is an explanation, but it’s crazy. It’s putting all the young men of this world in the same box and listening to no reason. It’s the same rule used to introduce a bit of drama in the story and in my opinion it is a bit weak. But, I must also admit that the author does a superb job to apply this rule to Logan’s situation. The problem is that Logan is not the only one in the team… With such crazy regulations it is a wonder there is a team at all!!

The other big issue for me is Ben. If this guy were a real contender for Jess’ heart, the story would have been even better. I mean, since the first time we meet the The Bentastic Poet, we know there is zero chemistry. I have a hard time believing that Jess doesn’t realize that way sooner. I also don’t like how quickly the poor guy is belittle by Logan. I admit that Ben is a self-centered jerk, but we don’t get to know that after much later in the book. So, all that mockery about his looks and choices in life feels too much like bullying for my taste.

By the way, I should have skipped the epilogue. The aftertaste of the book would have been much better.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Zane (Part 1) – Liv Bennett

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Author: Liv Bennett
Series: Pleasure Extraordinaire #1

Pages: 254

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The new CEO and the owner of Hawkins Media Group, Zane Hawkins is officially dating to marry. After two years of on-again-off-again romance with the actress Penelope Davis, Zane is now ready to settle down.

Multiple sources confirm that it’s the recent death of his father causing him to re-think his bachelor lifestyle and consider starting a family of his own.

Who will be the lucky bride to tie down California’s most eligible bachelor? A wildly famous Hollywood actress? An activist and visionary lawyer? A humble and media-shy nurse?

If the persisting rumors are true, there’s a secret list of the most suitable candidates drawn up singlehandedly by Zane’s very capable assistant, Julie Connor. Even so, Zane has never been one to follow rules and directions.

Whoever is going to be the lucky winner, she deserves special kudos, as the road to Zane’s heart is known to go through several hoops and hurdles.

When I was a kid, I saw my grandma put some lentils to her dessert yogurt. Back then, I thought that was the weirdest mix I was going to witness in my life. I guess I had to read this book to find a mix that could unseat my grandma’s special yogurt on my list. This book is short, but it has enough room to create a madness that was only lacking several dragons and one or two starships…

We have the immense honour and pleassure to meet Zane (his words, not mine), a rich guy whose lifestyle can be described with just one simple word: womanizer. But her assistant, Julie, convinces him to look for a wife. In order to easy that search, she comes with a list of possible candidates. Zane must date those girls until he finds the love of his life…

This book was free on Amazon when I got it (so I didn’t look beyond the price tag) and I only learnt it was a spin-off after reading it. I don’t think it is mandatory to read the books of Lindsay to understand the books of Zane, but I guess you could develop some sympathy for the characters that could make the reading of this one somehow bearable. That was harsh. The book is not so bad. It has a pretty good idea full of fun possibilities, but everything is butchered with forgettable characters and ridiculous situations. It doesn’t help that the book doesn’t know what identity to adopt. Sometimes is Erotica, others is Contemporary Romance, it flirts with Comedy and even Dark Romance makes a cameo. It would have been much better if the author picked one and forgot the others.

Zane as a characters is a mess. And I don’t mean cute mess you want to cuddle. No. He is a horribly written characters that drinks from the worst fountains of the Romance genre. I think the author attempts to make him cocky and confident, but the result is a vain and self-centered character who considers himself above most mortals just because he has more money and better looks… And no one tells him the opposite… Because he is Zane, eveything he does is a good thing worthy of the warmest round of applause: sex with barely legal girls, sex in front of his own brother, sex with unwilling women, unprotected sex without consent… For some strange reason, that was meant to make him look like a sexy bad boy, but the result is way grosser than that. Pure gold the moment he refuses to hug a woman, because he didn’t want her to fall in love with him… Keep dreaming man…

And then we have Julie. Yes, the assistant. If by reading the blurb you didn’t know the good assistant had a crush on her boss, I guess you haven’t read enough Romance (like two or three books). So… why is she so eager to hook Zane up with a random woman? Well, she explains it all, but let me tell you it doesn’t make much sense. Is it really your plan to make your boss discard all women so you can be the only choice? Have a bit of pride! And self-esteem! And good taste! Because there are thousands of better guys out there. And worst… Julie describes the perfect woman for Zane. What means she tries to describe herself… Someone should tell her we are currently living the 21st century.

Is there something else good beyond the idea? Not really. But it is short, easy to read and such a chaotic display of characters that the reading will be fast and mostly harmless. There is a second part. I know I will read it sooner or later. Maybe there will be some cleaning in Zane’s aisle…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Best Served Cold – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: First Law World #4

Pages: 661

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Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

It’s no secret that the last book of The First Law Trilogy left me with a huge stab wound on my back. One that I enjoyed immensely. I was afraid of reading the rest of the books, because the bar was pretty high. But my fears were pointless. Best Served Cold is a superb book that has nothing to envy to the first trilogy.

The time we follow Monza Murcatto and her band of merry men and women in a killing spree to satiate her thirst for vengeance. Seven targets are between them and the peace of mind Monza is seeking. One of those targets is Duke Orso himself, so the quest is far more dangerous that anyone could expect. Lucklily for Monza, she has a lot of gold to buy “loyal” assassins.

As in the previous books, this one has upstanding characters that make that fantasy world much more appealing and enjoyable. But the character development doesn’t hinder the pace. The story is a non-stop festival of different kind of actions: dark alley assassinations, undercover missions, infiltration ala Assassins Creed, skirmishes, full battles… Anything in the field of murder you could think of it is possibly in this book. The book is divided in seven parts, one for every target. Any of those feels different from the others, which is something very positive for such a big book. Obviously, there are better and worse parts. My favourite is the one to kill Mauthis, due to the weird sense of humor displayed in those chapters. The worst (but not bad) the part for the murder of Faithful Carpi… there were too many changes and I couldn’t get over one when the next was happening.

Maybe you are wondering if this story is linked with the shocking finale of the first trilogy. It is a different story, but the “new” political context is mentioned more than once. And Sulfur makes a lot of cameos along the story to let the reader know that the Big Bad Baldy is still out there being the Master Puppeteer I love to hate. The Eater made me so nervous every time he was in a scene. You never know when the kicks to the gut and groin are going to start with this writer… Because I have learned that with Joe Abercrombie is not a matter of IF… it’s a matter of WHEN those kicks will start.

And talking about guts… Man, the other books were bloody, but this one has increased the gore to a new level. It is mostly contained with one character, though: the mysterious Shenkt. A powerful something that is creepily strong and has no problem in using brute force in the most twisted and bloody way you can imagine. I’m talking about fingers drilling skulls or heartbreaking hand-to-hand combat… He is SO scary! But one of the best characters of the book. There are not many pages with him, but all of them are pure gold and full of “I was not expecting that” moments.

The catalog of interesting characters in this book is unending. All the main ones have something special to remember them by. We reconnect with Shivers, the Northman who wanted to claimed vengeance over Logen’s corpse but who changed his mind to pursuit a better life. He ends up in Styria, full of hope and good intentions, but second chances are hard to come by. Monza recruits him for her quest and the journey makes him a different man. His plot line is by far the saddest one. As a reader I felt hopeless and helpless with the events unraveling before me that transform Shivers into a bitter man. I am actually scared of him now…

The Master Poisoner Morveer and his sidekick Day are a joy for the reader. I love the way he talks, how he considers himself superior to everyone else. I know he is a perturbed individual that I should ignore, but the way he sees the world through the “blindfold” he wears is one of the most special characteristics of the story. On the other hand, Day was underused and underdeveloped. I would love to have read more about her. I have the feeling there is much more about her that what we learn.

Other character that should have had more time is Friendly. He is so weird and interesting. We barely get to know any of the background that made him behave the way he does. He may be cold, but his honesty makes him a beacon of light in a world plagued with too much smoke and too many mirrors. I hope he comes back in any of the following books to get to know him better.

We also reconnect with Vitari, but her part is not very important except for a revelation that would break your jaw. My brain is still boiling with all the implications… And we also have a lot more of Nicomo Cosca. In this book he shines with all his splendor and he has become one of my favourite characters in this saga. Even though I’m not sure if we can trust him, but I guess that’s the main trait of the character…

Monza… At first I was 100% pro-vengeance, so I was Team Monza all the way. But during the journey we get to know her quite a lot and I wouldn’t like to consider her my friend even if that could cost me my life (so dramatic!!). She is too self-centered. First me, then me and last… ME!! She sacrifices friendships and loyalties with an unsettling easiness and when we discover the truth about Benna… I wasn’t sure if I should support Monza or Orso. I need good guys and bad guys, but I should have learned by now that I’m not getting that with these books. The only good thing about Monza is that she is going to be a thorn in Bayaz’s mighty ass, so she is still on my “OK” book.

An awesome fest full of great moments. I have already bought The Heroes to keep with this saga sooner or later, because this is getting better and better.

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