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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Squared Away – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #5

Pages: 320

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In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

The previous book of the Out of Uniform saga left me cold and with an uneasy feeling. I was actaully scared that the series was going down a path of mediocrity pretty fast. But, I’m always glad to be wrong. The fifth book is awesome. It’s up there with the first one or the third one. A true pleasure for a reader like me.

This time the story focuses on Mark, a.k.a. Wizard, a medic SEAL who is too used to take charge in every crisis. He is about to face the biggest crisis yet: the death of his sister and brother-in-law leaving behind three little kids… He rushes home to take care of them, but he finds Isaiah, another uncle of the kids, managing everything just fine (as fine as it can be in that situation…). They already knew each other, but the relationship is pretty strained. They have to get passed their differences to put their best faces for the kids and that’s the first step of their unlikely romance…

This is maybe the hardest story so far in the saga. It’s so unfair to see the life of those kids rattle so badly and yet getting used to their new reality so fast and stoically. Reading how Isaiah and Mark jump to claim the guardianship of the kids even though they had almost zero experience with them, when it would have been easier for them to let them be processed by the system, was an emotionally rewarding experience. It was really heart-warming and an example to follow. I would lie if I’d say I didn’t cry more than once (I kind of love crying with books. That means they have something especial). I was even a bit angry with the behaviour of the legal system and the social workers that were so worry about the well-being of the kids that, in order to protect them, their well-being and happiness were actually the first things to be in jeopardy. I have no idea how that works in Spain, so even more clueless about that in the United States, but what I read in this book… It’s crazy that the uncles were constantly questioned about their intentions when it was pretty obvious they cared for the kids.

If that drama wasn’t enough, there are obviously romantic issues to add to the mix. As in previous books, those are mainly fear to be open about the sexuality of one or more of the characters. In this case, the one having doubts was Mark. When the book gets its hands dirty explaining Mark’s sexualty I wasn’t down for it. Too much terms being thrown at the reader in a short amount of time: pansexual, demisexual, asexual, gray ace… I couldn’t follow the author. I even had to stop reading to look for the meaning of gray ace, only to discover that it was explained in the book. But, as if a mage herself, the unintended misdirection of the juggling of terms made me miss the proper explanation for the proper term… Once the first impression is passed, I’m glad Annabeth took that path in the book. Mark’s sexuality grants the hard cuddling scenes a level of eroticism I haven’t found in a book in a really long time. I tend to consider sex the boring, or the least interesting, part in a romance book, but in this case it adds so much to the story.

The characters were also a surprised. I barely remembered Wizard from other books and Isaiah was just a cameo in the Ben’s and Maddox’s book, so I wasn’s expecting to like them so much so fast. I love everything about them when they are apart and together, except the luck of trust on each other during the first weeks. If they would have talked, really talk, about the guardianship of the kids, they would have spared themselves of pretty hurtful situations. Although, in that case, I think the book would have been less enjoyable. Am I a bad person for wishing hard times for characters I love? Sometimes it’s hard to balance morals and reading passions.

In any other book I would have hated the classic end of a Romance book, but this time I will have to admit that is perfect. Yes, rushed; but utterly logic. It needed to be done for the sake of the kids and I have zero doubts in my mids that those kids are even happier now than with their real parents. How the system could doubt that is beyond my comprehension… I hope we know more about this couple in future books. I would love to check on them to see if everything is going fine.

I started this saga about a year ago and I do not regret one single momento of it, even though there have been some down times. I will always trust this author to deliver awesome stories and characters. I should start looking at her other works more seriously now. I’m almost at the end of the Out of Uniform series (just two more if the author doesn’t publish any more).

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2019 – Book Gallery

Wheels Up – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #4

Pages: 320

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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!

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2018 – Book Gallery

 

Be Still My Heart – Charlie Cochet

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Author: Charlie Cochet
Series: Four Kings Security #2

Pages: 306

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Former Special Forces medical sergeant Russell “Red” McKinley knows a thing or two about wounds, like the fact some can take a lifetime to heal, if they heal at all. The scars Red carries run deep, and living with PTSD often means battling the memories of his past. Injuries he received while working an executive protection case with fellow Kings and co-owners of Four Kings Security, have once again forced past heartaches to the surface, but Red is determined not to let it derail his blossoming romance with sweet and sexy fashion photographer Lazarus Galanos.

Laz can’t deny there’s something special developing between him and Red, but Laz has wounds of his own. He’s hesitant to jump into a new relationship after his recent explosive breakup. Experience has taught Laz to doubt his judgement when it comes to men. Guys who seem too good to be true, usually are, and no one appears more perfect than Red.

When an attempt is made on Laz’s life, Red is determined to keep him safe. Laz may not be a client, and Red is still off duty, but Laz is one of their own, and nothing means more to the Kings than family. While an investigation is underway, Red and Laz are growing closer, but can they find a way to help each other heal and take a chance on love, or will their fears and insecurities cost them more than their future together?

Several months ago, I read the first book of Four Kings Security and I really enjoyed it. Not only the book, the author’s style was also almost totally attuned with what I want to find in a book of this kind. So, reading the second book before the end of the year was a must. Charlie is little by little climbing my list of favourite authors.

This time the story focuses on Red and Laz. After the accident in Colton’s party, they haven’t talked to each other again. But Ace is such an awesome friend that he had to bring the two of them together again. Too bad that happens at the same time an attempt against Laz’s life is carried out. Thankfully, Red’s big back was there to cover him and take him to a safe place. During the investigation, Red proclaims himself Laz’s defender against all evil and the romance begins…

I finished the review of the previous book saying that I wasn’t very happy about the relationship snippets the author inserted. Red and Laz looked a bit… boring. I have to admit that every character is boring if you put him side by side with Ace. That character is beyond awesome, so the rest pale in comparision. I knew that, so I read this book with an open mind. Yes, the main couple doesn’t make me laugh as much as the previous one, but they have their own strengths. Red is such a big softie!! I can’t believe he was single until now. The way he invests himself in the relationships, even in the worst moments, makes me want to kidnap him. The other half is a bit… meh. Laz’s insecurity is too big to swallow sometimes. Overall it is a romance I have enjoyed, despite the lack of sparks in some situations.

The story of this second book is better. The execution also has less black holes, but there are still some parts that doesn’t work. The author is very good misleading the reader. I was already gathering the wood to assemble the pyre to burn Bryan, one of the most annoying character I have met in a book. He being the bad one would have been perfect, but I prefer being surprised as I have been with this book. His time will come sooner or later. It is the big revelation that doesn’t fit very well with the plot. I love the unexpected of it, but I’m also struggling to make sense of it. Maybe the final actions were out of desperation and plain stupidity? It could happen…

The supporting characters on this book shine brighter than in the previous one. OK. I’m not impartial there. Ace is one of them. Every time he is on the spotlight the book gets so funny that I can’t stop smiling. I wish there were some kind of spin-off starred by him, because I can’t get enough of him. But he is not the only great character in this book. We get to know a little bit more of Mason and, let me tell you, I have enjoyed every single detail about him. His cocky flexing at the end… That was cruel!! It seems that Lucky and Mason are going to be a thing… So far, it’s a very explosive one (yelling and almost punching each other), so I hope it gets better. I’m not in the mood for an unhealthy relationship…

The book is one step behind of perfection. The romance and the banter is usually spot on, but the mystery needs some polishing. I will obviously keep reading the saga. The next is a short story with a couple of characters that I’m not sure we have met. Maybe a cameo in the previous one, but I don’t remember them.  It looks like I could skip it, but I hate skipping so I will read it anyway.

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2018 – Book Gallery

Right Through Me – Shannon McKenna

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Author: Shannon McKenna
Series: The Obsidian Files #1
Pages: 382

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Biotech tycoon Noah Gallagher has a deadly secret: his clandestine training as a super-soldier gives him abilities that go far beyond human. Yet he’s very much a man. When Caro Bishop shows up at his Seattle headquarters with a dangerous secret agenda, his ordered life is thrown into chaos. Caro is a woman like no other—and her luminously sensual beauty cloaks a mystery he must solve.

Caro’s lying low, evading a false charge of murder. She means to clear her name, and she’ll do whatever it takes to survive—but seducing a man like Noah is more than she bargained for. His amber eyes have the strangest glow when he looks at her—she could swear he sees the secrets of her heart. The desire smoldering in Noah’s eyes awakens her own secret hunger, but Caro has to resist his magnetic pull. Anyone close to her becomes a target. The only right thing to do is run, far and fast, but Caro can’t outrun Noah’s ferocious intensity—or deny the searing passion that explodes between them.

Nothing else matters—until a vicious enemy bent on the ultimate revenge puts his murderous plan into play. Noah and Caro must battle for their lives…and their love…

Not so long ago I won an e-book copy of this book in a giveaway. I guess I would have never picked something like this otherwise. I’m not a big fan of books with cyborgs, because they tend to be a bunch of nonsense sex and little story. Luckily, this one is the exception. Due to life, it has taken me ages to finish it; but it’s a really nice book. Much better than expected.

We met Noah, an enhanced soldier that several years ago escaped from the crazy scientists that made him (and several others) a cyborg. His mods give him superior strength, stamina, greater healing factor, weird visual inputs and many other things. A killing machine. Caro is on the run from another cyborg (although she doesn’t know Marc is one), due to her knowledge of a password that would give the evil cyborg total control over other modifed soldiers. Obviously, Noah meets Caro and makes his mission to protect her.

The main story about the origin of the cyborgs is really nice, making the book a fun ride. The big baddies are not defeated in this book, so I guess we will know more about the evil scientists in future books. This one focuses more on the crazy Marc and his attempts to gather an army to proclaim himself king of the world. The few chapters where we geet to experience Marc’s part of the story are among my favourites of the book, even when the character is plain cruel (95% of the time). At first I thought the author wanted us to develop some kind of sympathy for him, but soon enough the opposite is stated. When he starts waking up sleepers, you can only hate the way Marc behaves…

The pace is fluid most of the book, but it hits a bump during the first “date” of Noah and Caro. There are several chapters in a row that eveyrthing that happens is just sex. Nice scenes, but a bit tiring after a while. The fight scenes are good, but with enhanced humans they are a bit messy, fast and the the right amount of crazy. There are some weird thing at the end of the book, when people with melted brains are able to shoot… but I will forgive those.

The romance goes downhill since the first sex encounters. Noah’s protection drive goes a bit far and tends to treat Caro as his possession. Extra points to Caro for using his hormones as weapon against Noah and stealing his car to get far from him. That was fun and it should have been humbling for the cyborg, but I guess the macho male needs much more than that. Caro loses all her points when she finally falls into his game. And the worst part is the end… After just a couple of days they get engaged. I hate that cliché. It’s TOO SOON!!! When are they going to learn that??

I will have to keep reading this saga. I need to know if Luke gets rescued or what. Besides, in this first book there are many nice characters that I bet will have their own books sooner or later. It has been a really nice first step, even though there are some parts that unnerve me.

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2018 – Book Gallery

The Mercenary – Petra Landon

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Author: Petra Landon
Series: The Araloka Chronicles #1
Pages: 203

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She’s a prisoner of the Imperial Forces. He’s a nomad with a private mercenary army. Can a desperate girl’s risky gamble and a fierce warrior’s love turn the tide of war and alter the balance of power in their slice of space?

In a distant corner of the galaxy, Sector Araloka burns in the flames of a deadly war. The Budheya people are one of the worst affected. Once the most advanced civilization in the quadrant, they now struggle under the cruel yoke of Ketaari occupation.

Saakshi
Imprisoned by the Ketaari Imperial Forces, a young Budheya girl is sent to a distant space station to work in an alehouse. For a girl who has known only hardship in her short life, things could be worse. Until an old foe walks into the alehouse.

Zoran
Zoran is Hadari’Kor – notoriously fierce mercenaries who only fight for hire. Drawn to a weary-eyed server girl, Zoran is forced to confront age-old traditions and question his role in the war.

The Rebel & The Mercenary
Alone, friendless and far from home, Saakshi makes a desperate gamble to trust an enigmatic stranger whose hot gaze haunts her dreams. The echoes of this unlikely alliance reverberate across the sector. As a relentless enemy hunts Saakshi, Zoran must fight with everything in his arsenal to protect her. When passion ignites amidst the embers of a smoldering war, will a warrior’s quest for justice bring a mighty Empire to its knees…

Not so long ago I won a signed paperback copy of this book. I have to thank the author for sending the book to Spain, even though I know that the delivery fees are not cheap at all. Among the Romane genres, Sci-Fi is maybe the least popular. Not many books are published under that genre and some of the ones that are released don’t look very interesting. In Spain is even worse. That genre doesn’t even exist. The few Sci-Fi Romance books that are translated are published as Paranormal… That mini-rant was to imply that I’m always glad to get a Sci-Fi Romance that looks like fun, so I was very happy when I won the giveaway.

The books tells the story of Saakshi, a Budheya prisioner of the brutal Ketaari Imperial Forces. She was sold as a slave to Pik, the owner of an alehouse in a space station in the middle of the neutral territory. Luckily for her, Pik is nice enough to treat her as respectfully as possible. In that forced job, she met Zoran, a Hadari’Kor mercenary. They never talked, but the attraction between them is pretty obvious. Everything was going fine, until a Ketaari soldier appears in the station and recognize Saakshi as a “former” rebel. The Unta-Golar thinks he can take advantage of his position to get sexual services from Saakshi. She obviously refuses. He doesn’t accept her answer and the threats begin. As you can imagine, the Budheya runs towards Zoran looking for help.

And that is how the story begins. It looked like it was going to be a fun romance book with lots of action and dangerous enemies, but it is not. Almost half of this book could be labelled as boring. During the first chapters, the characters get stuck in a loop and the story doesn’t go forwards. After Saakshi’s rescue, the pace of the book quickens but the action proves itself elusive. Every time there is going to be a battle, the author moves the focus to another place and we learn about the result of the conflict through comments by supporting characters. That’s a bit disappointing and my biggest issue with this book.

The characters are ok. I have enjoyed them most of the time. Saakshi’s behaviour along the book makes sense. It must be hard to trust someone after all her bad experiences in life. Zoran is the classic male character in Romance: a soft teddy bear wrapped in candy cane. Tough and yummy looking on the surface, but a sensitive and a loving guy on the inside. The supporting characters are also very nice and I hope to know more about them in future books. The most important question I have to resolve about them is this: Is Jolar single? And if so… Can I have his address? I have loved every single moment with that character. He is a hugger!! I’m sold!!

The wordbuilding of this book is also awesome. It’s simple, but rich and with lots of potential stories. We have two factions fighting for the control of the Araloka Sector: the Alliance (a.k.a. the good guys) and the Ketaari Empire. I guess in future books will explore more about the conflict. This one has been just an introduction. At least I hope there is more action in the following ones and that we can witness those situations.

The romance of the book is nothing out the ordinary. Girl meets boy. Boy flirts with girl. Boy and girl get together (very, very close). Boy leaves and girl gets sad. Boy comes back and all is fine again. The worst part about the romance has been some comments of Zoran. In a very passive way he forces Saakshi to live her life as he pleases. What she must do, what she must wear… He even makes the Budheya feel bad when she doesn’t follow his unspoken instructions… Thankfully doesn’t happen very often, so I will be nice and I will not consider Zoran a toxic boyfriend. But if I were her… I would be lap dancing in Jolar’s room all day!!

I can’t finish the review without commenting on the cover. It’s SO pretty!! I love the art, the colors and the font. It looks awesome in my shelf. Most of the covers in the Sci-Fi Romance genre are crap. Just big, headless guys showing off muscle. Sometimes with weird green or blue skin… So, yeah, the cover of The Mercenary deserves a comment to highlight the great piece of art.

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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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