Undiscovered – Anna Hackett

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Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #1

Pages: 249

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Finding undiscovered treasures is always daring, dangerous, and deadly. Perfect for the men of Treasure Hunter Security. Former Navy SEAL Declan Ward is haunted by the demons of his past and throws everything he has into his security business–Treasure Hunter Security. Dangerous archeological digs – no problem. Daring expeditions – sure thing. Museum security for invaluable exhibits – easy. But on a simple dig in the Egyptian desert, he collides with a stubborn, smart archeologist, Dr. Layne Rush, and together they get swept into a deadly treasure hunt for a mythical lost oasis. When an evil from his past reappears, Declan vows to do anything to protect Layne.

Dr. Layne Rush is dedicated to building a successful career–a promise to the parents she lost far too young. But when her dig is plagued by strange accidents, targeted by a lethal black market antiquities ring, and artifacts are stolen, she is forced to turn to Treasure Hunter Security, and to the tough, sexy, and too-used-to-giving-orders Declan. Soon her organized dig morphs into a wild treasure hunt across the desert dunes. Danger is hunting them every step of the way, and Layne and Declan must find a way to work together…to not only find the treasure but to survive.

Anna Hackett has been on my radar for quite a long time, but there were always some other book that took precedence and her work was being constantly pushed to the lowest positions of my TBR list. One of the main reasons was that I thought her books were most of them about Sci-Fi Romance, a genre I don’t pick very often. But, not so long ago I discovered that she has a saga about treasure hunters. I read the blurb and I knew I had to get my hands on them. Yes, this book has been my particular “Undsicovered”.

This books tells the story of Dr. Layne Rush, an archeologist who is digging a new discovery in Egypt. Sadly, the dig site is hit by some mercenaries and several of the relics are stolen. The University she works for hires Treasure Hunter Security to take care of the security (the company name says it all). It’s a company formed mostly by former soldiers (young, tall, muscular… you know, the whole romance package) and the owner, Declan, is the one that takes charge of the security of Layne’s work. She is not happy at first, but some flirting and life or death situations make her a believer…

I love the book as a whole. It’s more or less what the author promises and then some: lots of action and fun exchanges. There is always something hapenning in the book, which is its main strength to keep the reader entertained. When I saw the length of the book, I was afraid that the action and adventure parts would be shortened to leave more room for the romance; but it’s actually the opposite. There are hand-to-hand fights, pursuits through the desert, riddle solving and treasure hunting in general. No rest means more fun.

But it’s not just mindless action and eye candiness galore. My greatest surprise with this book were the several facts the author teaches us about Zerzura and Egyptian mythology in general. I was an utter newbie in the lost oasis legend and this book has made me check the Internet to read more about Zerzura and the expeditions to find it. A book that makes me learn something will always be a special book on my shelf. I wasn’t expecting it at all (it didn’t look like the book to enhance my Trivial Pursuits skills), so that has been a huge help to make me enjoy the story. Don’t get me wrong, without the beginner class about Zerzura, the book would still have been a really fun ride.

The characters are nothing out of the ordinary, but they fulfill their roles quite nicely, even though there are certains details that felt more unnatural than others. Layne is presented to us as a very independent woman who takes no bullshit and is capable of defending herself at any moment. At least that must be true when Declan is not around. When the former soldier is on the scene, Layne is usually reduced to a damsel in distress, so the leader of Treasure Hunter Security can polish more often his White Knight armor. I would never hate on that too strongly, otherwise I would never read Romance books, but it is something that has always rub me the wrong way. They are fun together, so I can easily forgive that misstep.

The romance itself is the weakest link of the story. At first is being brewed very slowly, as I like it. But when Hell is broken loose, the relationship speeds up so drastically that I felt dizzy. We go from a passionate kiss to “I love you” in barely a couple of chapters. I’m having a hard time to believe they have developed such strong feelings in such a short time. They barely know each other!! I know that under duress stuff is intensified, but it was too much too soon. And don’t make me start about the places they pick to keep themelves warm in a very intimate way (or to have sex, if you are not feeling poetic today). Naked time in those waters doesn’t seem a wise decision. You never know what kind of leeches or bacteria could be on those undiscovered places… I guess I’m not the adventurous type…

Very happy for having decided to start this saga. If this is what I’m going to get with the rest of it, I’m going to be a very pleased reader this year!

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2019 – Book Gallery

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King Consort – J.R. Gray

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Author: J.R. Gray
Pages: 279

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Avoiding sleeping with women was my specialty, an art form even. As the future King of England I couldn’t be caught sleeping with men. My whole life played out in front of the paparazzi, and they didn’t miss a thing.

I had a carefully crafted womanizing persona to maintain. My life came with rules, all of which I broke when I couldn’t resist a one night stand with the enemy: A beautiful paparazzo with a heart of gold. He may be the only person who doesn’t want me for my title, and he can never be anything more than my secret.

But secrets have a way of coming out and not only will they scare him away, but they’ll lose me the crown.

I was away from Romance books (and books in general) for several years and when I came back (2018) romance novels with Royals had become a huge deal. One of the current trends for a genre liable to have new ones every single year. Back then stepbrothers were all the rage!! This is my first taste of this flavour of the hour and I must say it wasn’t tasty enough…

In this book we meet Prince Louis of Britain, a womanizer who is going to inherit the Crown sooner or later. His misadventures with multiple women are well recorded in the media, but the truth is he is not the kind of guy who goes through female after female to quench his thirst. Actually, he doesn’t like women at all, but his hmosexuality must be a well kept secret due to the out of date rules of the monarchy. On the other hand; we have Xavier, a paparazzi who is not comfortable at all in his own skin. The attraction among them is very strong, but the relationship seems doomed before starting. Will they be able to make it work?

I’m going to focus first on the good part: the characters. Well, not all of them, but most. Louis has been a nice surprised. He seemed pompous with a stick through his… uuuhm… noble back parts? You get my meaning ;). But in reallity he is a really good guy who wants to make right to everyone surrounded him, especially his sister. The struggle of the Prince is the best part of the book and it makes the reader fall in love with the character quite easily. The guy has to deal with his secret, his troublemaker of a sister and the weight of the Crown. It’s a wonder he is able to keep a good humor most of the time.

With such a co-star, Xavier falls in the short side. It’s not a bad character, per se; but his constant insecurity bores me a little too much. I guess it can’t be easy to handle with the special life of Louis, but Xavier has too many demons that make him blind to what he has in front of him. It’s not all bad, though. His sense of honor and morals is remarkable in a profession that usually works in simple terms of prey and hunter. So, kudos for him!!

Too bad the rather good character are paired with a boring story that goes in circles over and over again and doesn’t even end. Yes, we knew since the beginning the difficult situation for their relationship. That’s chaprter 1. By charpetr 10 I expected the plot to have gone forward, but it was totally stuck. My hope gets renew when they travel to London, but it’s totally crushed with the most unemotional and sloppy ending I have read in a long time. The way everything ends makes me believe that the realtionship has no real future, just wishful thinking…

I can’t finish the review without mentioning the real star of the book and the main reason this book has got one more point in its mark than what it deserves: Doug. The bodyguards steals all the scenes when he has an appearance. His brotherly relationship with Louis and his peculiar way of dealing with Xavier bring always a simle to my face.

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2018 – Book Gallery

Isola Di Fiore – Lou Watton

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Author: Lou Watton
Series: Under the Uniform #4
Pages: 160

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Francesco Di Fiore is a handsome bellboy at a luxury Venetian Hotel. On an average day you can find him in a dashing burgundy uniform with sleek golden streaks. He is popular with guests of both sexes, who spoil him with lavish gifts. He is at ease with his colleagues, many of whom he has also got to know well. He loves his job and rarely leaves his hotel. His hotel is his cocoon that protects him from the elements outside. No wonder he feels no urge to venture out.

One night his life takes an unexpected turn and all because he decides to take time off and taste the world outside. He goes on a date, has a good time and finds himself too drunk to notice that his date has wandered off. When he sobers up, he is walking alone through the dark streets of Venice. He stops to watch passing gondolas, but sees something very different. He watches a man tightening a noose about his neck by a bridge down the canal. Francesco dashes through the labyrinth of narrow streets to get to the man just in time to save him. They fall down in each other arms on the cold stones by the canal. When Francesco opens his eyes, he realises that the turmoil in his life is not going to end here.

The stranger in Francesco’s arms is every bit as attractive as he is vulnerable. Francesco senses trouble. His protected life in a five star paradise is about to come to an end. He brings the stranger to his tiny loft room at the top floor of the hotel. The stranger’s name is Ralf and he is a full time artist and a makeshift poet. Francesco hears a story of a desperate heartbreak and feels unable to show his guest the door. They fall asleep together in his single bed. This is how their turbulent relationship begins.

Ralf settles in Francesco’s room and Francesco provides both the roof over his head and counselling. Soon neither of them can say whether Francesco’s sensitive care is the kindness of a stranger or the affection of a kindred spirit. They begin a passionate affair against the backdrop of the great city. They lose themselves in the web of narrow streets and snaking canals, caught in the whirl of their frenzied emotions. They divide their time between the splendour of Venetian palaces and a farmer’s hut on a rural island in the Venetian lagoon. Will Francesco’s lifestyle and temptations of high life destroy their volatile arrangement, or will Francesco Di Fiore once again rescue his troubled poet and whisk him away to a rustic paradise, where they could belong only to each other?

Have you been able to read the blurb? What a huge chunk of nothingness… OK. I have the mean mode ON. First of all, I have to say that I hate reading a book and then learning it was the fourth part of a book series. Granted is a saga of standalones that doesn’t share characters or universe, but yet… I consider myself a tidy reader. Always following the numbers forwards. It’s not a big deal, but I would have read the first one if I knew about it.

This book follows the story of Francesco, a bellboy in a luxury hotel. One day, he was walking after work and found a guy that was trying to commit suicide. That guy was Ralf, an artist going through a bad time after a break-up with his boyfriend. Francesco saved his life and took him to his room to take care of him. Quickly, that act of goodness turns into romance…

What did I like of this book? Maybe that it’s a very short one, so the torture doesn’t last long (even though feels like it). Everything else is meant to be forgotten as fast as possible. The book is bad. As simple as that. Francesco and Ralf are some of the most uncharismatic characters I have ever met and the story is SO boring. For a moment there I thought I was going to give up. I gave it a chance, but it doesn’t deserve it.

I don’t understand the behaviour of any of the characters. Francesco treats Ralf as a lost puppy with half the brain. He seems very concerned about his well-being and wants to be with him, but somehow he manages to ignore him and flirt with everyone in the hotel. Take a pick, man!! You can’t have both behaviours! They are mutually esclusive!! And Ralf… I need some kind of user manual to understand that guy… I get he is sad, but his reasons to end his life are weak. He is totally a spoiled guy, who wants to spend lots of money he doesn’t have. He has crazy jelousy attacks and has a really mean manipulative drive.

The romance between a guy who behaves like an overprotective daddy and a guy that is dangerously addicted to attention is a joke. One of the worst couples I have ever read in my life. Utterly unbelievable and that is saying something in the Romance genre… It is supposed to be a HEA book, but I don’t think they are going to last. Even the sex is weird. Not bad, but… I don’t know. I skimmed over it, because I didn’t like how it was being described.

The narration style is also rather poor. It’s not fluid at all and for such a short book it gets stuck in some loops. Keeping focus on the story was so hard… My mind was constantly drifting to other things, avoiding the slow paced and boring book I was forcing into it. There is no emotion. No sense of humor. Nothing… The blurb is actually a nice mirror of the whole boook… A bunch of letters that gets you nowhere…

I know many people have liked this book. I guess it’s not for me. In the future I will check more books by Lou Watton to see if this is her style or it’s just this book. Not anytime soon, though.

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2018 – Book Gallery

Part & Parcel – Abigail Roux

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Author: Abigail Roux
Series: Sidewinder #3
Pages: 302

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Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend’s call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on.

Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence.

Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompt them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli’s letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave—and from each other.

Cut & Run by Abigail Roux was my first M/M book and I fell in love. Since then I have read a nice of bunch of books of that genre (let’s call it that). Getting a book by Abigail in my hands is always special. I love her characters and the fast paced stories with plenty of action. That’s why she is one of my favourites out there. That’s why it saddens me to say that this last book is quite disappointing…

Nick is recovering from his injuries with the help of Kelly. During that time, he decides to go through Eli’s box of mementos to see what his deceased friend and teammate left for him. Among many things, there were a bunch of letters with instructions for Nick and the rest of Sidewinder. Those letters described some kind of road trip with rules and activities to do as a group. When Eli died, Sidewinder felt broken… so he is trying to fix it from beyond the grave.

It’s a cute plot, if I’m being honest. I thought it was a clever way to reunite the members of Sidewinder (plus Zane!!). A first necessary step before all hell breaking loose and having to deal with it as a team. That was what I thought. I would have taken anything: a murder, a kidnap, a crazy treasure hunt, a weird conspiracy, a cult… Anything!! But what the reader gets is a bunch of big muscular guys crying all over the USA geography. Over and over again. I know the trip is emotional. I get that. But it’s emotional for them. They knew Elias. We, readers, do not. So you may call me a cold bastard, but I didn’t feel anything with all those moments that ended in tears. I was more like Zane, an awkward spectator who wanted to see the end of it as soon as possible.

Where is the action and danger I always link with these characters? I feel robbed. This is not the kind of story I expect when I read a book based on the Cut & Run universe. OK, now that’s out of my chest. But, if I don’t get that… does it mean the romance is mindblowing at least? WRONG!! The conflicts between Nick and Kelly were a pain to read. Kelly’s behaviour is all over the wrong places: insecurity, jelousy, self-righteousness… So, when they were not crying they were yelling at each other. Over and over again. I’m sorry, but Abigail in this book more than conflict creates a really unhealthy relationship. They are unable to communicate. They resolve everything with sex and swallow the rest… After this book, I’m incapable of believing in their love story.

I could also rant about the rules of Eli’s trip. I will keep it simple: what a cheap trick to force even more conflict… And what the hell was all that talk about Eli’s ghost and paranormal activities with phone apps? If it was meant as a joke I didn’t laugh at all. I was pretty scared of all the paranormal shenanigans going further than that…

Fortunately, this book is  bearable thanks to some characters like Ty and Zane. There were several parts of it were Zane’s actions have the focus and those are pretty enjoyable. Maybe because he is not one of the Sidewinders and as a reader I had that in common with him. He was like my ally during the book… Weird. I usually don’t feel the need of having back-up…

There is also a nice bomb about Nick’s life almost at the end of the book. It gives me hope that the next book and the ones beyond that are going to have at least some action. Abigail is good at the emotional stuff, but not if that is the whole deal of the book. She is the greatest when she mixes action, romance, humor and emotions. I wish with all my heart that this is not the last book by her that I’m going to read. I mean, she hasn’t published anything the last three years… That’s not normal at all for a Romance author. I hope everything is fine!

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2018 – Book Gallery

Bound By The Demon’s Shade – Olivia Dark

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Author: Olivia Dark
Pages: 82

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When a demon causes a car crash, it is up to the demon hunter Paige to find it and destory it. But when she runs into Kalen, the mysterious man who saved her from a hostile demon encounter the day before, she agrees to work with him only if she can look past the fact that he’s a demon himself.

By working with Kalen, Paige gets a direct lead to the demon they’re hunting. However, Paige starts to develop feelings for her partner as they begin working alongside one another, and when their hunt is over she can’t help but invite him back to her place even though she knows she might regret it in the morning.

Confession time: I spend hours looking for free Kindle books in Amazon. I have thousands!! I don’t know why I do this, because I don’t usually read them. I will try to pick one of those now and then. I have picked this one randomly. My first surprise: it’s no longer in Amazon. No one knows who Olivia Dark is or anything about this book. Only a dozen ratings in Goodreads… I have the feeling I have read a phantom book!! I use the term book loosely. It’s a short story that can be read in under an hour.

The main character of this story is Paige, a demon hunter. One night she is biting more than she can chew (or something like that…) and has to be rescued by the gorgeous Kalen. Twist: the hottie is also a demon!! At first it seems that is going to be a problem, but five minutes later they are already kissing. Later, the damsel in distress is again in distress and the demon has another chance of looking superheroic.

It’s a fast pace story, as its length suggested. I have missed some sense of humor to make it special. The way it is is just plain normal. You have an OK feeling after reading it, but nothing else. I think there was potential in her story, so I’m suprised that the author hasn’t written anything else and this book is in some kind of limbo…

There are also a couple of thinks that I do not like. The point of views are a mess. Most of the book is first person from the point of view of Paige, but there are several parts that are told from a third person point of view. I have always thought that is a symptom of a bad planification for your story. The other detail I don’t like is Kalen’s love… He drops the L word when he barely knew her. So weird…

It’s such a short story that I would recommend it to kill some time, but it seems that the book can’t be purchased anywhere…

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2018 – Book Gallery

At Attention – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #2

Pages: 304

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Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

The first book of this saga, Off Base, was one of the first books I reviewed here and I LOVED it! I know is hard to equal or exceed what that first Out of Uniform story meant for me emotionally, so I’m not going to be too harsh with the second book. It doesn’t deserve any kind of venom. The second part is stil very good and I can’t wait to keep reading the series. Well, I will wait… I don’t like getting an overdose with sagas.

This time we meet Apollo, a 34 years old widow with two little girls and a huge house to take care. And we meet Dylan, the twenty something years old and younger brother of Apollo’s best friend. Both of them are openly gay, so we are not in the same Zack and Pike situation. It’s a trickier one, though. Apollo’s mother is about to travel abroad for several weeks and he needs help with the kids and the house. And Dylan needs a place to stay near his new job as summer camp teacher. So Dustin, Dylan’s brother, thinks the best idea is that his brother should live in Apollo’s house; so he can help the Lieutenant. The catch: Apollo’s is still mourning his husband and think his love and sexual life is over. And Dylan has had a long standing crush for his brother’s best friend that needs to take out of his system.

There is a lot of fun flirting coming from Dylan that makes Apollo uncomfortable, at least at first. Sooner rather than later he starts craving his new roommate. It’s a bit sad to see how he struggles with those moments. Somehow Apollo thinks he is being dishonest with Neal, his dead husband. The age difference doesn’t help at all and it’s the hot potato thrown in every single chapter. Maybe the author insists too much about that. It even seems that Dylan only wants to con Apollo into a relationship so that he can feel like a big man. I know that is not what Annabeth wanted to tell us, but sometimes that is what I get… And the soldier is a bit stubborn about that difference, too… It’s not such a big gap!! Stop looking at you as a 60-years-old man!!

That issue is so big during the whole book that I don’t truly believe the happy ending. Maybe that is because the author takes a huge leap with the last chapter. The proposal is totally anticlimatic and waaaaaay too soon. Those two need to talk a lot more before commiting to something like that. That end is the worst part of the book.

One of my favourite parts is the way Apollo finally deals with Neal’s death. There were moments along the book were Annabeth almost makes the mistake to convert Neal in some kind of villain, but thankfully she doesn’t go there full force. That would be sad and wrong. Apollo can fall in love with a new person and still love his former husband… It’s  human. We are capable of loving un unlimited amount of people. The way Apollo accepts that, talking with Neal aloud and expressing his feelings… Hands down, that is the best part of the book!!

I’m also have to point out that the sex scenes are really good. When Apollo discovers the power of a mirror… That was a hot read!!

The author also uses this book to introduce the next one: Ben & Maddox. I have the feeling their book is going to be a fun one!! Or maybe I’m totally wrong. I’ll read it sooner or later. This year if everything goes according to plan.

 

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2018 – Book Gallery

Spider – Ilsa Madden-Mills

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Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Pages: 264

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He called himself Spider. I just knew him as the sinfully gorgeous guy with eyes of fire that fate sat next to me on the airplane. I didn’t know who he really was…rock star…my stepbrother.

He kissed me because he thought we’d never see each other again. We would.

Everyone warned me about him.
They said he was ruthless and cold and screwed up.
They said he’d leave me with a hole in my heart.

Maybe I should have listened.
Maybe I should have built up a fortress to keep him out.
But I crumbled instead.

Some have said there’s an unbreakable thread that connects those who are destined to meet. If that’s true, then the moment he sat next to me, we were bound together forever.

He just had to figure it out before it’s too late…

I think I have already said over here that I’m not a fan of the New Adult genre. But I keep trying over and over again. Should I take the hint already that this genre is not for me? Naaaaaaaah… I know that sooner or later I will read a New Adult book that I will really enjoy. Spider is not that one. Quite the opposite, actually.

This book is about Rose, a 16 yeras old girl who has had a very difficult childhood; but has been adopted into a rich family. On the other hand, we have Spider; a rebel rock star. His presence means trouble. He doesn’t have the best relationship with his father, but he is forced to meet his father’s new wife and stepsister. Yes, Rose is his stepsister (as every avid Romance reader should have guessed by now). The attraction between those two comes fast and with a fury. Rose is easily awed, but Spider has a huge commitment issue. Due to Spider’s problem with drugs and alcohol, the parents are not very fond about those two becoming something and try to break them.

I must admit that I don’t like either of the main characters. Rose is obsessed with the idea she has of Spider and Spider… He is a drug and alcohol abuser. That should be a big warning sign for very decent person to stay away. And it should be even a bigger sign for Rose. Her mother was killed by an alcoholic boyfriend who one day took too much… How can Rose tell his foster family that she doesn’t care about Spider’s problem? It doesn’t make any sense. In that moment I realize that Rose was incapable of judging with a clear mind what she wanted when Spider was around. Scary. Am I suppose to support the main character of the book? Because I’m not going to. I’m with Rose mother all the way in that matter.

And Spider… The guy that loves Rose SO much that he accepted 500.000$ to ignore her… An act of love according to him. And it seems that Rose bought his explaining, because they end together several years later. I must aslo admit that I have a huge problem with smokers… Those characters always need to work extra hard to get my respect. I’m not too annoyed about Spider being one, except when he states that he is a long distance runner… As if his damaged lungs could endure that… Luckily, the author doesn’t write him smoking very often, so I can give Spider a pass. What I can’t understand is Rose saying that she likes his smell… smoke and all. It’s gross and it makes me angry that that smell is considered sexy in the book.

What about the love story? you may ask. I would answer: What love story? That is not love… is obssesion and infatuation. I don’t feel they are a real couple… just a bunch of crazy hormones unleashed. I even like way more Trenton than Spider as the love interest. The author tries to make him a villain by the end of the book, but I’m not buying it. I feel he has cared much more about Rose than Spider has… and he deserves a happy ending, too.

There is nohing worse in Romance that not liking the main characters of the book. That is the case with this book penned by Ilsa Madden-Mills. That issue is something common with New Adult novels… at least the ones I have read. I haven’t enjoyed this book. At least it’s a short one.

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2018 – Book Gallery