Darkest Night – Megan Erickson

darkest

starstarstarstar

Author: Megan Erickson
Series: Wired & Dangerous #2
Pages: 320

rom_suspensebodyguarddarkgreat_cover

Bodyguard Jock Bosh has one job: keep Fiona Madden safe. Safe from the men who’ve been hunting her. Safe from the bastard responsible for ruining her life. And with the attraction sizzling white-hot between them, that means keeping Fiona safe from him too.

Fiona has spent the past decade on the run. Her survival is the single greatest weapon she’s had against the men out to destroy her. Until Jock. Now, with him by her side, she finally has a chance to bring them down. But when her enemies make their next move and Jock puts himself in the line of fire, Fiona realizes that there’s more at stake than just her life – she’s also risking her heart.

When I finished Zero Hour I was disappointed with the romance part, but very happy with the suspense side of the story. With this second book, the feeling is the opposite. Nice romance, but the rest… kind of meh, actually.

In the last book, Jock volunteered to keep an eye on Fiona due to the threads of Maximus. Fiona was the friend of Wren who was kidnapped 10 years ago to be used as a sex toy by rich men. A throwback party by those same guys put Fiona again in danger, so Jock has to take a more hands on approach for her protection. Both of them are not precisely good at getting close to another person, so their romance is a bit tricky. Add that to inminent threats of kidnap and murder and the plot of the book is presented.

Before diving in the story and characters, I need to point out that these so-called hackers don’t hack shit. Sometimes they look more like hitmen or conmen than hackers. Jock would be the perfect example of the former. I know about his hacking skills thanks to the previous book, because in this one… he is a bodyguard most of the book and a hitman the rest. He is rarely seen in front of a computer… It’s not something bad per se, but I started reading these books due to the hope of reading Romantic Suspense with characters far from the military or law-enforcement lifestyle. I guess I will have to keep looking for something like that. Maybe Jock’s hacking skills are what explain his weird superpower of knowing the genre of the book Fiona was reading in the park. I mean, how could he know if he was spying on her from a fifth floor without using equipment?? (Yes, that is bugging me).

At first the suspense part looked promising. Fiona was again in danger, Jock had to protect her and Maximus’ shadow was getting bigger and bigger. The problem is that it takes too long to develop. And when it does… well… it’s a bit boring and uneventful. In general terms I liked it, but there were enough meat for something with a bigger punch. No surprises, except at the end fo the book. Too late if you ask me. Now a war between the crew and Maximus has started, so I expect more action in the future books.

Luckily, the romance is much better than expected. It’s no secret that I didn’t like at all the romance between Roarke and Wren, so I was a bit reluctant at first. But Jock was there to save the day, the girl and my faith in love. Under his reinforced armor of pure steel (a very, very good-looking, mouth-watering armor…) lays a turmoil of feelings that make the reader sympathize with him pretty easy. Yes, he sometimes behaves like an ox with his monosyllabyc language and his larger than life frame, but deep down you know he is a sensitive guy who is in sore need of a good cuddling. Fiona is the perfect match, because she doesn’t take any of his usual bullshit. Good characters for a nice slow-paced romance that leaves us with a nice aftertaste.

It doesn’t hurt that Jock is a Viking god, detail that the author reminds the reader more often that maybe necessary; but, oh boy, no complaints there. My naughty imaginatiuon was already overworking after taking a long look at the cover. I’m so glad there are not weird photo manipulations to add any kind of tattoo in “Jock’s” skin… The ones in the cover of Zero Hour were a bit… lame.

Next one is a shorter book. If I’m not mistaken, it’s going to be Erick’s book. There is a glimpse of it at the end of this one, so I guess Tarr is going to be the love interest. It could be very fun if handle right, so… fingers crossed!!

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

 

Advertisements

Wheels Up – Annabeth Albert

wheel

starstarstarstar

Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #4

Pages: 320

contemporary_rommmsoldiershottearsweak

Lieutenant Dustin Strauss is a reformed man. No longer a twentysomething hell-raiser, he’s his SEAL team’s new XO-and a man with a secret. Or seven. He’s kept his bisexual identity under wraps for years, along with his kinky side and a fondness for the military-themed semianonymous hookup website Joe4Joe. His latest chat buddy is more than a sexy online distraction-they’re taking their very not-safe-for-work relationship into real time.

Petty Officer Wes Lowe has a smart mouth, a take-charge attitude and an uncanny ability for making things go boom. The life of an enlisted man isn’t always enough to satisfy him, but one wild, no-questions-asked weekend with his online love comes close. When a transfer order comes in, Wes feels ready and centered. He’ll make a good impression on his new SEAL team and keep his growing feelings for Dustin on the down low.

But as they log more time online and some very real emotions surface, Dustin and Wes struggle to pretend they’re just a harmless fling. And when his commander introduces Dustin to his team’s newest member, they’re in for the shock of a lifetime…and a crushing disappointment: their difference in ranks means even a friendship without sexual contact could end their navy careers for good.

With their hearts on the line, Dustin and Wes may not survive their next mission, let alone find a way toward a future together.

I have never struggled so much in my life to give a mark to a book. I usually know the number of points it gets as soon as I finish them. This time it took me a while. I like the book, no doubt about that. It’s just… I don’t know. The other books of this saga felt more substantial.

This time we meet Dustin, Dylan’s brother, who is a closeted bisexual army guy having a rough time dealing with himself. And on the other hand we have Wes, a gay SEAL who doesn’t like being the focus of attention… so he hides himself from the world. They met using an app with the self-explanatory name of Joe4Joe and their love relationship starts to blossom. Too bad Wes ends in Dustin’s team and military regulations frown upon that kind of things…

The main trait of the Out of Uniform books is the well written and well handle drama. In this case the main characters have to deal with the crazy army regulations against fraternization. I could understand that a love interest in the same team could mean a distraction, so they have to avoid them. But in this case we are told the XO can’t even show friendship of any kind to any of the people below him. I’m an ignorant without any family or friend even closed to the military lifestyle, but that seems a bit too much. Such cold environment in the line of command would drive me crazy! I wonder how so many people can take that path in life with so many human restrictions. It doesn’t feel natural, but that’s not the point of the review.

What I wanted to say before starting babbling is that Dustin and Wes had enough drama with the military. There was no need of adding the sexual identity drama to the mix. Any other time with any other set of characters I would have welcomed it, but in this case… it’s a nonsense. Dustin’s family and firends are very tolerant, so I don’t know where the fear to reveal himself comes from. Almost all of his friends are gay!! If you can be open with them… no one can. So yeah, I couldn’t believe Dustin’s turmoil in that aspect (which he recognizes at then end…). A little more believable is Wes’ closet situation. Even though he could totally be opened with his friends, he is just some kind of emotional masochist.

And talking about Wes and emotions… His sister part of the plot almost killed me. I felt it pretty deeply, even though there are barely five pages total about it. I would have loved something else about Sam and a lot less sex scenes. That story thread isn’t properly finished and that pissed me off a little bit.

I have a love-hate relationship with the sex scenes in this book. The first ones are really good. Plenty of eroticism to feed anyone’s fantasies for a long time. But soon they feel a bit too much. Most of the book is a loop of Dustin and Wes meeting when they shouldn’t, having sex and regretting it the day after. Over and over again. The book gets stuck so badly that I got fed up of its adult parts pretty quickly. Annabeth was so much better balancing the plot and the sex in the previous books…

I liked the book, yes; but I have more issues with it than with the other ones I have read of this saga. I still love the authr’s style and the lovely characters she creates, so I will keep reading more of the Out of Uniform saga!

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

 

Wildcard: Volume Three – Missy Johnson

wildcard3

starstarstarstar

Author: Missy Johnson
Series: Wildcard #3
Pages: 110

contemporary_romsportssingle_parentfirst_personfunnycliche

She’s hiding something from me and I need to know what it is.
I’ve done so many things I never thought I’d do for this woman and it kills me that she’s lying to me.
How can I make her see that she can trust me?
Do I want to know the truth?
Sometimes things are easier when they’re left unsaid…

With this third part of Wildcard I finish a saga I started a long time ago. This is part of my let’s-finish-them resolution. Already December and this is the first one I have finished… about 50 more to go. Obviously, the resolution will still be active in the following years (and possibly in other lifes, if you believe in such things).

The second part ended with Scarlett hiring a hitman to take out her ex-boyfriend and with Ryder paying to the later a lot of money to leave Scarlett and Jake alone. There are too many secrets boling and, to put the cherry on top, Jake is again very sick…

Finally, the big bad secret of Scarlett is out in the world to be properly dissected. And yes, it was as bad as the author makes us believe during the previous books. It’s a crime she comitted willingly in order to get rid of Tony, her ex-boyfriend. It ended badly: rape. That is why she is so scared of letting Tony tell anyone. Scarlett doesn’t want to give Fate the chance to pull her apart from Jake. Hiring a hitman is a bit extreme, but the love of a mother is boundless…

Buuut, for some reason I still don’t understand, the author ignores the hitman bluntly. I mean, he is mentioned now and then, but he never fulfills his mission. I know some lowlifes beat him to it, but… shouldn’t he return the money? Or at least say something? I have no idea if he had any intention of doing it. Was he a conman? If that is the case… was Scarlett’s friend on it? I know it’s stupid, but I feel there is a whole book out there that for some reason wasn’t told.

Apart from that, I must repeat myself in my adoration towards Ryder. I feel so comfortable reading his point of view. He is such a nice guy with a cocky sense of humor that adds many layers to the enjoyment of the book. Once again, his interactions with Callie are the best part. I’m going to miss this guy like crazy, although he has a couple of huge missteps: the breaking and entering into Scarlett’s house to sort through her things and impersonating her to exchange some messages with Scarlett’s friend. With any other guy, it would be the end of my love for him. With Ryder, even though I don’t like it a tiny bit, I know it comes from a good place. He is worried sick about her and he doesn’t have the experience to deal with such emotions. He was a colder than ice jerk and he barely knows what to do with the warm sensation in his chest… So, yeah, big mistakes are bound to happen. Good to know he is a really fast learner.

Missy could have skipped the usual ending of a Romance Book: the I-barely-know-you-but-here-you-have-an-engagement-ring ending. It made me cringe a little bit, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t as bad as in other books. I guess I can forgive Ryder even the most repetitive mistake of the Romance genre!!

According to the prmotions at then end, there is a book starred by Callie. Too bad it doesn’t say the title. I’ve lookng through Missy’s book, but I haven’t been able to find it. There is a fair chance of meeting Ryder in that one…

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

Bone to Pick – T.A. Moore

bone

starstarstarstar

Author: T.A. Moore
Series: Digging Up Bones #1

Pages: 240

rom_suspensemmdetectivesmysterygreat_cover

Cloister Witte is a man with a dark past and a cute dog. He’s happy to talk about the dog all day, but after growing up in the shadow of a missing brother, a deadbeat dad, and a criminal stepfather, he’d rather leave the past back in Montana. These days he’s a K-9 officer in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and pays a tithe to his ghosts by doing what no one was able to do for his brother—find the missing and bring them home.

He’s good at solving difficult mysteries. The dog is even better.

This time the missing person is a ten-year-old boy who walked into the woods in the middle of the night and didn’t come back. With the antagonistic help of distractingly handsome FBI agent Javi Merlo, it quickly becomes clear that Drew Hartley didn’t run away. He was taken, and the evidence implies he’s not the kidnapper’s first victim. As the search intensifies, old grudges and tragedies are pulled into the light of day. But with each clue they uncover, it looks less and less likely that Drew will be found alive.

In my meager experience with Romantic Suspense I have always found books much more focused on the romance than on the mystery. In some cases, the last was almost incidental… This book is just the opposite, so if you are looking for more romance… look somewhere else.

In this book we meet Cloister, a police officer who is a member of the K9 Unit. His dog is called Bourneville and she never leaves his shadow. He is kind of a rebel. On the other hand we have Javier, an FBI agent who needs to control everything and everyone. For obvious reasons, both main characters tend to clash against each other very often. They are forced to work together when a little kid is kidnapped and they need to figure out who took him before it’s too late.

I wasn’t expecting such a huge focus on the mystery. It has been a very welcome change of pace for a Romantic Suspense book. If you are a fan of C.S.I. kind of shows you will enjoy the mystery in this book. More or less follows the same pattern. The author throws several pieces of evidence, adds a bunch of suspects and lets the reader accompany the main characters in their quest to save the kid. I need to confess that I wasn’t even closed to solve it before they did… It doesn’t help that the author cramps the story with many characters who don’t amount to anything. Or maybe it was just her technique to take our attention from the real suspicious ones.

Even though I liked the mystery quite a lot, there is sometinhg that is still bugging me. The kid disappeared from a vacational complex to let people with money be closer to the Nature. That complex is a known former weed farm run by the same guy who dealt with the drug… Maybe I’m not being fair, but I can’t believe families with pedigree would choose such a place to spend part of their holidays with their kids. Too snob? I just think parents tend to be extra-careful with that kind of things…

I have nothing special to say about the characters. Both of them are OK. Nothing remarkable about Cloister or Javi on their own. When they are together, the fun begins!! The attraction between them is obvious since the first moment, but they can’t stand each other. They respect each other just enough to make their jobs, but Javi doesn’t miss an opportunity to belittle the K9 Unit and Cloister is more than happy to put upside-down the perfectly manufactured rutine of the FBI Agent.

With that kind of relationship, it is no surprise that the sex scenes happen when the reader least expects them. They are not bad, per se. My main complaint is that Cloister sometimes feels out of character during the intimate encounters. There is actually no Romance in this book. It’s just a couple of very naked moments and then both of them go their separate ways. I missed a good talk to be honest with each other and with themselves, but this is the first book of a saga, so… They’ll get there…

At least I hope there is a second book coming. This one was published in 2017 and the author has yet to announce the sequel. Very enjoyable book that reminded me of the best part of the Cut & Run saga…

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

Dragonmark – Sherrilyn Kenyon

dragonmark

starstarstar

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #25

Pages: 344

paranormal_romshiftersdemonsmagicboomweakangry

Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.

Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost— to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone– to see the entire world burn…

Twenty-five main books is a really big number and Kenyon is not stopping anytime soon. But so many books and so many on-going sagas are paying a toll. The price has been paid with Dragonmark, one of the weakest Dark-Hunter books I have ever read

This story is supposedly to be Illarion’s book (more on that later). He is one of the oldest dragons, a solitary creature until he met Edilyn, a human daughter of a demon. As it is very common with shapesifters, Illarion knew she was her mate. This book tries to tell the love story between the two of them…

I say try, because the plot of the book is developed in a pretty wierd fashion. We start in the past, with Illarion meeting Edilyn and her brother Virag. They fall in love and, as any normal couple, go to a demonic realm to fight The Morrigan. It goes pretty bad, pretty fast… Edilyn dies behind the scenes. One chapter she was there, the next she wasn’t. The book had barely begun and, suddenly, Illarion’s book mutates into Cadegan’s book (again!!). A huge chunk of this book is a retelling of Son of No One, where Illarion is mere supporting character.

But the travesty doesn’t end there. Illarion is rescued from the demonic plane and the plot travels to the present. I could barely believe what happened then… Kenyon retells us Max’s book, Dragonbane!! That was the previous one… I don’t have a great memory, but it is not so bad!! Almost 80% of Illarion’s book is not about Illarion. I think this story was just meant to fill some contractual obligation with the editorial, because I don’t understand why the author would do something like this on purpose. I hope this doesn’t happen again…

Is Illarion’s short story any good? The part in the past is pretty basic. Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl’s jerk of a brother steals from boy and all hell is set loose… It looked pretty interesting, actually. Virag (the brother) is a nice character that I want to meet again in the future. After the huge retellings, Illarion takes again the spotlight. If you remember, in Max’s book he joins Apollo’s gang to save his mate (yes, she didn’t really die). What happens after that is very short, but good; so, overall, the story is decent. The final revelation is SOOO sweet. I’m savouring it!!

Kenyon is lucky to have such an amazing (and huge) cast of characters. Thanks to them, even a poor book like this one can be enjoyable. Any other author would have got a strike on my chart, but I can’t really be that tough with her. I like her books too much. Let’s hope the next one makes me forget this book (another way to say I don’t want more retellings!!).

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie

bladeitself

starstarstarstarstar

Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #1

Pages: 517

epic_fantasywarriorsmagicgoregold_star

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glokta a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

I enjoy reading Epic Fantasy, but lately I was hitting really slow paced and boring books in that genre. I was recommended to take a look at The First Law saga. The promise was really good characters. If there si something I love about a book is special characters that I will remember for a long time. Joe Abercrombie delivers a bunch of them that has made the reading of the first book a truly great experience.

This book is basically a big character presentation. We have Logen, the warrior from the North with too many enemies and few friends. Jezal, the arrogant swordman who wants as much as possible with as much little effort as possible. Glokta, the cripple who wants to show that he is still very capable of great things. Ferro, the “dagger-happy” woman from a dangerous land. And Bayaz, the First of the Magi, a great magic user with a quest in mind: gathering all the others to embark for a dangerous mission.

Even though the book is in the thicker side, there is not much story development. It’s just the first stones for a good looking foundation. We have several side stories, being the main ones Glokta’s investigations and Jezal’s Contest for best swordman of the Union. Both of them very enjoyable and fun to read. When those threads end, the story is all about getting them together to meet each other. Beyond that, the rest are just glances to the political situation of the Union’s neighbours: the war against Bethod in the North, the brewing trouble with Gurkhul, the unstable situation in the Old Empire… I bet those stories will get a much more relevant role in the next books.

This book is not meant to hook you up with the story. The story is also good, don’t get me wrong; but the main asset of this first part are the characters. I have loved their company most of the time. Maybe the weakest link in that aspect is Ferro, but she doesn’t have as many chapters as the rest of them. Logen has made my blood very cold. He seemed such a good-hearted guy… but in the end… when he becomes the Bloody-Nine for a brief moment… I’m still digesting it!! Glokta is grumpy, but it’s obvious he is a good guy. At first I wanted to see him fail his tasks, but little by little has grown on me and now I’m worried about his new assignment.

My favourite is Jezal. Since the first moment I met him, I knew he was my kind of character! Arrogant, too sure of himself; but more often than not he is proven a fool. Gladly for him, his luck knows no bounds, which makes his ego a really fat creature. I love his biased look at everything that happens to him. I’m going to enjoy so much when he is thrown from the high horse he is riding… Of all the members of Bayaz’s crew, Jezal’s part is the most unclear. Why do they need him? His only skill is just fencing and we know he is not the best at it… Too bad no one has told Jezal about it!! Some of my favourite scenes with him are: the self-worship in front of the mirror, his ego burst during the final match of the Contest when Bayaz was buffing him, his kind of cute declaration of love and everytime he throws a tantrum behaving like a spoiled kid.

We don’t have many details about Bayaz’s quest. I guess that is going to be the main course of the next book. It looks interesting with such strange band of heroes. The worst part of my devotion towards them is that, if some of them die, I’m not going to recover any time soon.

So, yeah, I love the book! I can’t wait to read the next one, so I will try to grab it before the end of the year. That date is approaching fast, so I don’t know if I will make it.

 

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery

Bad Boy Biker – Scott Wylder

badboybiker

star

Author: Scott Wylder
Pages: 46

contemporary_rombikersfreezzzfumes

Working in a small diner in the town of Rock Face, Jess meets a remarkably sexy, confident biker, who happens also to be rich. Owning his own brewery in Texas, Cole Everson has come to Rock Face, Tennessee to find out more about the places his artist mother talked about and loved so much. She had grown up in Rock Face, surrounded by mountains, and always longed for the mountains after moving to Texas. She had painted several places and Cole used these paintings as his guide when he arrived in the small town. He wants to put these places in a book to memorialize them after his mother’s death.

Cole successfully recruits Jess to help him find some of the local places his mother spoke of all those years. This meant being alone with the sexy biker and fighting her own urges.

However, what happens in the shadow of the mountain, isolated from the world, stays in the shadow of that mountain. Or does it?

Sometimes picking a random Amazon free book from my huge stash makes me smile and other times… the opposite. With Bad Boy Biker I’m deep in the mud of the later scenario. The worst and best part of this book is exactly the same: its short length.

In this book we meet Jess, a waitress of a small diner in a town called Rock Face. She has some money issues, but her boss is pretty cool and help her however she can. We also meet Cole, son of a successful businessman and an adventurer looking for some local guide…

Obviously, two plus two equals four, so Jess is the main and only candidate of getting the partial job of being Cole’s guide. They go to a hike, they kiss, there are some sexy moment behind the scenes and… wait for it… THE END!! Forty pafges of absolutely nothing at all. I think this the most boring short story I have ever read. Ther is no sense of humor. There is no good romance. There is no hot sex. The characters are pretty basic and lack spark… I can’t find anything positive.

I don’t have anything else to say. The book ends when it should start, but it so bad that I’m glad it is short. Reading free books is a risky business. But. hey, they are free!! So, no harm…

paragraph1

2018 – Book Gallery