Butterfly Assassin – Annabelle Jacobs

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Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Pages: 280

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Shifter Aaron Harper gets drawn into illegal underground fighting to keep an eye on his best friend. The thrill of the fight keeps him coming back for more, but discovery could mean imprisonment and banishment from their pack. Without a beta to watch over them, common sense takes a back seat.

Michael Archer of the Shifter Crimes Task Force is investigating recent murders. Despite the brutal cause of death pointing to the work of a shifter’s claws, instinct tells him a well-known nightclub owner is involved, but they have no proof.

Aaron and Michael’s paths cross after another body with the same injuries is discovered. With Aaron finding himself on the wrong side of the SCTF and Michael looking for a killer, any attraction between them is both ill-advised and unlikely. But fate has other ideas.

Annabelle Jacobs was a new author for me. She wasn’t in my radar and this book was pretty low on my TBR list. But this year I am following an ABC Challenge for Romance Books in a community for readers and when I had to pick the B letter this one was the first that caught my eye. So, by pure accident, I have found an unexpecred awesome book. It’s a standalone book, but it takes place in the same universe as her Regent’s Park Pack saga. I haven’t read those and I can promise there is no need of reading them to understand Butterfly Assassin.

We follow the story of Aaron, a shifter who has been hooked to the adrenaline rush of illegal fights. For a shifter they are even more illegal, so he has to hide his true nature and bleed as any human. Michael is a Detective for the SCTF, a police force specialized in dealing with shifters. When several humans connected to the mastermind of the illegal fights appear dead at the hands of a shifter, the path of both characters collide in more than one way…

If you are expecting a lot of romance and hot sex every other chapter (when there is a shifter in this genre, they tend to have an insatiable hunger for sex), you are not going to like the book. My greatest surprise with this book is that the author drags masterfully the dance of unexpected attraction between hugely different characters. The “no-so-subtle-check-out”, the “looks-that-melt-steel”, the “uy-sorry-I-didn’t-mean-to-touch-you” and much more slow burners that keep the readers on their toes cheering for a happy ending. No rush, more fun. Their exchanges made me smile every time and I hated when they were appart.

Besides, this is no the classic romance with a shifter and the dreadful fated mate. I’m so glad that the author has dropped that annoying cliché of the genre. Instead, she presents us with the concept of bonding and greater emotions for the werewolves. The fact that Aaron feels the connection with Michael in a higher emotional level doesn’t make him a possessive grunt. He expresses honestly his need of claiming the detective as his, but he is very tactful to avoid any kind of hurtful comment or action. He is so attentive, easy-going and fun. MIchael is one of the lucky ones!!

That slow cooked meal was being served little by little as the main plot of the story develops: the killings of humans at the hand of a shifter. The mystery is more or less 85% of the book and it’s pretty well written in general. But there are several  missteps or lost opportunities a long the way. For example, in the beginning of the book, the author falls in the trap to repeat herself too much. The same thing was told over and over again to different characters. The consequence is that the plot takes to much time to take off, but I would never say that is boring beacuse of that (the book is not boring at all). And there is another weird moment at the end of the book, when Blake and Aaron exchange some punches, that is missing something. Until that moment, Blake had no idea that one of the illegal fighters of his boos was a secret shifter. I was expecting a comment or something, but he doesn’t even blink…

This book has been much more than what I was expecting. It’s almost perfect. The Regent’s Park Pack saga is going to get a bump on my TBR list to see if I have found a new favourite author or if it was just this book.

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2019 – Book Gallery

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I Wanna Text You Up – Teagan Hunter

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Author: Teagan Hunter
Series: Text #2

Pages: 300

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ROOMMATE WANTED
Chicks or dudes welcome!

Looking for a new roomie? I have a place for you! Like your music loud? I own headphones. Enjoy having late-night guests over? Again, headphones. Want someone to help pay the bills? Do the dishes? Take out the trash? You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours (metaphorically, of course).

Check us out, getting along already.

Must be able to pay first and last month’s rent up front.
Must be okay with Breakfast & Beats.
No dogs.
No trying to sleep with me.
Two bedrooms. One bathroom.
$350/month plus electricity.

If interested, email ineedarobin@gmail.com.
P.S. Wiener pics sent directly to my grandmother. Don’t do that crap to her.

First book of the year!! Actually, my intention was for this one to be last of the past year, but life sometimes doesn’t want to follow my plans. I’m not going to lie. This is an awesome book to start a new year. Teagan Hunter doesn’t disappoint, even though I haven’t loved it as much as the first book of this saga.

This time the story focuses on Delia’s roomante, Zoe. Due to the fact that her best friend is moving out to live with Zach (who wouldn’t!!!), she is in need of a new roommate. So she has the happy idea to create a notice to pin it in a common board. You know, the one that you can touch… not the virtual copy that is used nowadays. And who is behind the perfect answer for the notice? No other than Delia’s ex-boyfriend: Caleb. They start flirting right away, but the relationship has two obstacles: Zoe’s fear of angering her best friend and Caleb’s mysterious past.

I have read this whole book with a huge smile from ear to ear. I love the easiness among the characters and all the witty banter. It makes them so much more lovable and approachable. Not to mention all the good laughs I have had following these crazy characters. I guess it lacks more of the surreal sense of humor of Zach and Delia (although there is good dosis of it) and it lays more heavily in the sexual innuendos. Luckily, Teagan is master at those and that kind of exchanges doesn’t make me cringe.

The author’s style makes me so comfortable reading the book. I find myself feeling extra-good and happy when I enter in the Text universe. That atmosphere helps a lot to fell in love with the characters. Especially Caleb. He is so dreamy. Aside from the obvious (Zoe killed me everytime she commented on the abdominal muscles… cruel woman!!), the guy can cook. And I mean really cook. He is also very attentive most of the time, responsible, a good listener and SO charming. I was on my toes dreading the other shoe dropping. That moment where the author would reveal some dark secret about the perfect guy that would break Zoe’s heart (I was more concerned about mine, though)… But in the end, his secret wasn’t that bad.

And maybe it’s in that part were the book feels a bit short. I missed more drama or a better developed one. Part of the issue is trying to make us believe that Delia would be pissed if Zoe dates Caleb. I mean, we have already met that girl. Zoe could have an orgy with all her best friend’s former lovers and Delia wouldn’t bat an eye. In my opinion, those doubts of Zoe should have been resolved sooner. The mysterious past of Caleb is also not such a big deal. I was expecting something that would put the relationship in danger and that would blemish Caleb’s perfect record (and give my heart a rest!!), but in the end his past is not really the issue.

There are still two more books on the Text saga. Two more books to enjoy these crazy and fun characters. I’m going to miss them once it is over. I will have to try other books by Teagan Hunter to see if I will find the same magic. By the way, I’m glad that these books have finally been grouped in a saga of stand-alone books. It helps a lot to read them in order.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Let’s Get Textual – Teagan Hunter

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Author: Teagan Hunter
Series: Text #1

Pages: 272

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A wrong number is supposed to be just that–a wrong number.

Delete. Done.

Do not continue to text. Do not flirt.

A wrong number shouldn’t be the first person on your mind in the morning, or the last at night…and you’re definitely not supposed to talk them into buying a baby goat.

Because that would be weird.

When Zach Hastings and I get into a wrong-number mix-up, we don’t follow the rules. We keep texting and flirting, because he’s wicked funny and perfectly nerdy and a wonderful distraction.

I’m not looking for love, and Zach definitely had the wrong number.

But maybe…

Maybe he’s the right guy.

Have you ever finished a book and wished there were some kind of big brother reality show about its characters just because you can have enough of them? In Delia’s words: how much pizza is too much pizza? There is not such thing as too much pizza!! That’s how I feel about this book. If there were an extended version about 200.000 billion pages long I would still crave more. Yes, I have loved every single word of this book.

The story of this book is told from the point of view of Delia, a college student that one day receives a call from un unknown number. The person calling was Zach, an app developer who wanted to contact a client but has a wrong number. After the first weird conversation, they start texting each other. Little by little (or not so slow) their friendship turns into a romance.

The blurb itself is nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that caught my attetion there (except the goat!!). Besides, according to Goodreads (and I will trust them) this is a New Adult book… genre that doesn’t make me very happy if I’m being honest. But the reviews about how funny it is convinced me to give it a chance. My initial scepticism became absolute love in a matter of pages. Is it weird if I say that more than a book I consider it a friend? Too creepy? Honestly, I have no word to express how happy this book has made me feel!!

Out of the question, the sense of humour is one of the best I have read in my life. The nerd jokes, the never ending banter, the witty retorts, the adorable cockiness of Zach… Everything put a smile on my face and, very often, made me laugh hard. It felt SOOOOOOOOO good. All the good guys characters (which are all except one) have earned a special place in my memories as a reader. They are a bunch that I would love to consider friends… even though they follow a really crappy diet. Someone must explain me how Zach keeps in shape eating SO bad!!

The story is sweet and the author takes her time with the best part of the Romance genre: the couple getting to know each other. It’s usually the funniest part of those books and most writers tend to rush through it. But not in this one. Small steps but sure ones. The relationship that is built between Delia and Zach is lovely and really well written. An absolute pleasure to follow them in their best and worst moments. I’m going to miss them so much!!

The book is perfect, but it would have been heavenly if some of the chapters were told from the point of view of Zach. Don’t get me wrong, Delia is awesome, but sometimes I was dying to know what was going on in Zach’s head. I would have loved some chapters from his point of view after the goatnap to really enjoy his reaction, but I guess I will have to use my own imagination :).

As I said before, the worst part of this book is that is finite. Even though this is a standalone, there is a similar book by Teagan Hunter to tell the story of Delia’s best friend, Zoe. A third one will be published later this year, but I still don’t know the main characters for that one. I guess Delia and Zach will make a cameo or two in those books, so it’s not the end. I wonder why the author doesn’t group those books in a saga. It would help many readers to read them in order.

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2018 – Book Gallery

Love in Spades – Charlie Cochet

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Author: Charlie Cochet
Series: Four Kings Security #1

Pages: 268

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Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….

This is my first book by Charlie Cochet and it was about time. As you may have learned by now, I love reading M/M books, and Charlie is one of the biggest names out there writing that kind of books. So, a new saga was the perfect time to jump into the author’s bibliography. I don’t regret it!! I will make sure to put some other books by her into my pending list.

This book tells the story of Colton, the heir of a successful business that is being targeted with some nasty threats. His father takes action and hires the best security company he can find: Four Kings Security. One of those Kings, Ace, is assigned to shadow every move of Colton to make sure nothing happens to him. They are both very stubborn men and the mix is a bit toxic at first. Buuuuut, little by little they realize they are attracted to each other and something more serious starts brewing… Obviously, they need to keep it a secret while Four Kings Security investigates the threats.

Even though I consider this book Romantic Suspense, the suspense part doesn’t have a real highlight until the end. Usually, that would have made the book much worse; but Charlie manages to create an unexpected twist that makes the mystery salvageable. But I also must say the twist per se doesn’t make much sense. Was that all planned or there was a lot of improvisation? Because if it was a plan, they left a lot in the hands of chance… I guess everything was needed to make Ace more heroic in Colton’s eyes. Even though he was already awestruck.

My favourite character of the book is by far Ace. He is so much fun to read!! I LOVE his sense of humor. The way he banters with everyone and his goofy ways that make him so approachable and, I must confess, so much attractive. I always support a good clean sense of humor in Romance and, in this one, Charlie excels at it. I hope that is part of her trademark and it’s present in more of her books. Good job, really!!

I didn’t like Colton that much. That character is a bit confusing and, sometimes, he behaves like a rotten child throwing a tantrum. And other times, he behaves like an incubus throwing… well, other things. I know the true Colton is somewhere in between, but as a reader I couldn’t help yelling at him to get his act straight. I don’t know who I’m tryng to convince… He is really a good guy. I’m just jealous!!

Another fun fact about this book: it’s packed with gay men everywhere!! Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad thing at all, but it’s a bit weird that almost every man in the book prefers dating other men. Where do you say the story takes place? I’m looking for a room… It makes me wonder why the Kings are all single when there are so many and willing candidates…

There is also something I don’t like at all about this book. It presents us too much of upcoming books: Laz and Red? Frank and Joshua? Those pairings are very similar and it looks like they are not going to be as much fun as Ace and Colton. But I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong!! It’s just that I feel I’ve been robbed of the best part in Romance Books: the slow burn of the first encounter.

Next book it’s going to be published this month, so I will put it on my list to read it as soon as possible (this year, if I have time). It’s going to be Red’s and Laz’s story… I’m not feeling very optimistic about those two, but I will keep an open mind.

 

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2018 – Book Gallery

Remember Me When – Brooke Blaine

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Author: Brooke Blaine
Series: The Unforgettable Duet #2
Pages: 151

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My worst nightmare and your greatest fear became a reality:
You don’t remember me.
You don’t remember the accident, or the weeks afterward.
You don’t remember my bed as your safe place, or when, against all odds, you fell for me.
You remember me only as the casual acquaintance you saw as you grabbed your daily coffee.
Three sugars, two creamers.

Perhaps an acquaintance is all I’ll ever be to you now.
Maybe I can shoulder the heartbreak and the loss of you, if it means you’ll be happy.
Unless…
You remember me when.

The blurb of the second (and sadly last) book of The Unforgettable Duet does a much better work at telling the reader what they are going to find inside the book. Brooke Blaine left me speechless with the cliffhanger where Reid forgets all about Ollie. I mean, all of it! In my whole life I have never felt actual sickness after reading a book. Brooke managed to make me dizzy. I even had trobule to get a good night of sleep that day… I had developed a huge amount of sympathy toward Ollie and my body was responding as such. I can only applaud when facing this kind of fictional magic.

Fiirst, I must admt I was a bit disappointed when the second book resumed the story from the point of view of Reid. Forget Me Not was all about Ollie and I wouldn’t change a single comma about it. I wanted more Ollie!! But I had to give the painist the benefict of the doubt and I tried to enjoy the chapters told from his point of view (there are also chaperts from Ollie’s point of view). I also have to admit that I didn’t have to try very hard. In no time I was suck into the interesting journey that was going to be Reid’s recovery of his lost memories.

The pace is as slow as in the first book. Slow, but always forward. It’s not boring at all. It’s a very natural pace that makes the character much more appealing and much more easiser to connect to. Not that I needed much to reconnect with Ollie… Speaking of Ollie… he is a f***ing TANK!! Emotionally and physycally speaking. What he endures in order to make Reid’s life better… it really takes a special kind of person to achieve such heartwarming kindness. And in this second book we discover he is built like a professional wrestler according to Reid. I was suprised by this, but I guess it would have been weird of Ollie to mention his bulging biceps or hard chest in the first book (weird, but kind of hot, though). And that he has tatoos… I guess the author liked a lot the cover of Forget Me Not. I can’t blame her.

If I have to summarize the book with just one word I would pick this: agony. Reid has not only forgotten his relationship with Ollie (and Ollie in general), he has also a really hard time accepting he was with another man. That creates a lot of situations where Ollie has to steel himself if he wants to keep helping Reid. I don’t know how the paramedic can handle so much heartbreak in such short time. He is a real superhero. Damn, I hate to admit it; but the Superman nickname fits him like a glove. I would take my hat off in front of this guy everytime of the week. Yes, the crush on Ollie is still going on at full speed *sigh*.

Even though I have only praise for these books, I must admit that I didn’t like the epilogue. It didn’t feel as unique as the rest of the story. Just the classic Romance ending. I guess I don’t like it because it means that we won’t get more stories with these guys. Am I bad a person if I wish some drama in their realtionship so we can get another book?

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Next: Guardian’s Bond by Rhenna Morgan

Forget Me Not – Brooke Blaine

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Author: Brooke Blaine
Series: The Unforgettable Duet #1
Pages: 165

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Three sugars, two creamers.
That’s how you took your coffee every morning at Joe’s Grab ’N Go.
But you don’t remember that.
You don’t remember anything.
Anything, that is, except me…
That day…
And the tragedy that catapulted us together.

What kind of blurb is that? It doesn’t give a clue about what we are going to find in the book. Looking at the cover, I was expecting a rock star as a main character (hunk + tattoo + those colours = rock star, am I right?). The classic bad boy who has a woman in every town. It was thanks to another blog that I discovered this is an M/M book, so I guess a man in every town. I was ready for a cocky and sometimes rude rocker, leading a crazy life. I was pretty surprised at what was really in the inside of the book.

The book is narrated from Ollie’s point of view, a paramedic that has a crush on a stranger that he sees everyday at Joe’s Grab ‘N Go getting his daily dosis of caffeine. For months he has been unable to say something to him, but one day Ollie makes a bit of small talk with the stranger. That would have been an awesome day, except that same day the stranger (Reid) has a really bad accident. The paramedic is the one to respond the call and, thanks to him, Reid is saved. But the poor guy doesn’t rememeber anything of the last ten years, anything except his short converstion with Ollie.

As you can imagine, that is the beginning of a really sweet story that develops little by little in a strong love between them. Brooke doesn’t rush things along as it usually happens in this genre. The couple takes small but sure steps forward to build something dreamy. I’m in actual awe at Ollie. The way he handles Reid’s situation even though it could backfire at any moment is very heartwarming. I had a smile plastered in my face the whole ride.

Most of the merit of my mark for this book is Ollie. He is sweet, considerate, easy-going, loyal, friendly, sensible, empathetic, smart, easy to the eyes, nerdy, the right amount of cocky and… and… Great… I have a crush on a fictional character!! Thank you so much, Brooke Blaine!! *sigh*. Honestly, Ollie is awesome. We would be in a much better world if more people like him would be amongst us. Reid is nice, too; but he is far from the almost perfection of the paramedic.

Ollie’s best friend, Mark, also gets a big thumbs up. He is so much fun and has such a great way of taking care of Ollie. I love all the scenes with those two in the ambulance. That’s the kind of friendship everyone should try to achieve.

In general, the book is sweet and nce to read, but it doesn’t have any kind of emotional blow to keep things interesting. At least not until the end. The author was holding the punch. That clifhanger is a nasty jiu jitsu move mixed with krav maga and crazy kung fu… When I finished the book I couldn’t breathe. I was feeling dizzy and I was trembling (honest!!). So, SO mean!! And I loved it!! Every bit of it!!

Buuuuuuut there is a tiny part of this book that pissed me off. More precisely, my inner nerd was screaming curses and trying to make me give a one star to the book. I didn’t listen to him, because sometimes my inner nerd can be an annoying whiner… What was he complaining about, though? Ollie’s puns against Ant-Man.  The first one was bearable. The second one was uncalled for, but the third one… that one is just cruel!! What do you have against poor Ant-Man?? I love his comics (Hank’s, Scott’s or Erik’s) and the movie!! Ollie is so dreamy that I can even forgive him something like that.

This is a much better book than I was expecting. I will have to check Brooke Blaine’s books to see if there is something else that catches my attention, because Forget Me Not has put her on my “Authors to follow” list (a very prestigious one if you ask me)!!

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Next: Remember Me When by Brooke Blaine

Off Base – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #1
Pages: 304

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After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.

I’ve been a long time without reading a romance book. I had the feeling this book was going to be perfect to put me back on track. I wasn’t wrong. This is the kind of story I love to read when love is the theme!

The main characters of the book are Zack and Pike. The former is a soon-to-be SEAL who is currently in training. The later is a mathematician expert in videogames. Zack is tight closeted and doesn’t speak about his true sexuality with anyone, always with a excuse ready when someone asks him about his love life. Pike is the opposite, very open about his true interests and no shame at all. The military is not very fond of Pike because of that. Zack is just too worried to slip when the other one is around…

Due to an homophobic team mate (the only person that knows Zack’s secret), Zack decides to live off base. At the same time, Pike is in desperate need of a place to live in the same area due to a new job as a teacher. As you can imagine, they start living together and, little by little, the relationship develops.

The author does a neat work describing Zack’s agony. He doesn’t want to come up to the world, because he is afraid that could endanger the realtionship with the rest of his team. Besides, his family is very conservative and he doesn’t want to disappoint them. But he really likes Pike and the way he makes him feel. Fortunately for him, Pike is a very patient person and tries to understand Zack’s situation. Even though he hates to hide his feelings in public, the teacher makes an effort in order no to lose Zack.

That is the recipe for some tough truths that brought some tears to my eyes a couple of times or more. I couldn’t help linking emotionally with the couple during the good and the bad moments. If anything else, this book shows a lot of heart. I’m going to miss these two so much… I hope they make a cameo in the next ones.

Someone could say that the ending is rushed, but in my opinion is the perfect climax for the emotional build-up. It is what it has to be. No surprise, no weird twist… It is what both of them deserved. If I sound very fond of them, it’s because I am!!

What has surprised me is the way Annabeth describes the characters… like almost nothing. In romance is pretty common to find lengthy descriptions of the male characters. The less clothes, the longer… The writer of this book prefers to leave most of the visual image to the reader’s imagination. The sex scenes are also scarce and short, so don’t be intimidated!!

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Next: The Infernal City by Greg Keyes