Uncharted – Anna Hackett

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Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #2

Pages: 221

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Axios – Jaclyn Osborn

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Author: Jaclyn Osborn
Pages: 334

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I am Axios of Sparta, and I was born to kill. At age seven, I left home to train with other boys where we were taught obedience, solidarity, military strategy, and how to withstand pain. My harsh upbringing stripped me of my weaknesses and forced me to become strong. Ruthless.

But, I craved something greater—a life I could never have.

Against all odds, and the toughest training a warrior could endure, I found an unexpected love in the arms of a fellow Spartan. He was the very air I breathed and the water that sustained me. Fighting side by side with him, we were invincible. Where he went, I followed.

However, there was no place for love in Sparta. Feelings were for the weak. The only life for a Spartan was one of battle and brutality with no guarantee of tomorrow. In times of war, all men were put to the test, but the greatest challenge for us was not one of swords and spears, but of the heart.

I rarely read Historical books. For some weird reason I don’t enjoy that genre as much as any other. I’m capable of immersing myself in a contemporary book, or in a fantasy world or maybe in a far galaxy full of wonders. But when I have to surround myself with historical events I usually get dizzy and lose the North. So, in order to pick a Historical book, I need a carrot. In this case the carrot was a M/M Spartan tale.

The book is written from the point of view of Axios, a spartan boy who is forced to start his training to become a warrior as every other male in that city. He is different from the rest, though. He is not bloodthirsty and has dreams beyond the so-called glory of battle. The other side of the coin is represented by Eryx, who excels at everything during their training and is a firm believer of the Spartan way. The unlikely friendship between the two of them blooms into sexual attraction and later into deep love. We, the readers, are invited to follow that journey through serveral years.

First of all, I must congratulate the author on the perfect guide tour for that period of time. It is far from being a History lesson, but the readers will get tons of fun facts about the life in the ancient Sparta. And by fun I mean the mostly bloody, cruel and desensitize life they have to follow to a T. Before reading this book, my interest in Sparta was non-existent; but now I know it is much richer and surprsing than what movies have shown us. The fact that this book has made me curious about it is already a huge accomplishment. Thumbs up for teacher Osborn!!

The book has two main weak points that are greatly surpassed by the good ones. One of them is the beginning. The pace at first feels too slow. In order to easy the reader into the way of things of Sparta, the story of the characters has to start when they are pretty young. After that, we have time jumps of two years until they reach their early twenties. Those first chapters felt much longer than they actually are. I understand the need of them, but a faster pace for them would have been great. The other weak aspect of the book is the action or, better said, the lack of it. We are being told the tale of some Spartan warriors, but there are barely any fight scene in the book. The ones we get are usually rushed and just long enough to deliver some emotional blow. I guess I was expecting much more action from a book based on that period of time. With those two complaints it could look like the book could be boring, but nothing would be further from reality. The hard truth is that Axios is not a book about warriors from Sparta. It is a book about love between two people who shouldn’t be involved with each other.

So, when you embrace the truth about this story, you are up fro a treat. This is one of the most beautful love stories I have ever read. It is unexpectedly sweet and full of heart-melting gestures. Every time Eryx looked for Axios’s hand to reassure him before a big event, the butterflies in my stomach would perform several summersaults to applaud that simple gesture brimmig over with true love. The whole book is cramped with those. I will forever be grateful for having been given the chance of witnessing their story through several years. From their initial shy encounters to the full power of their passion during adulthood. From friendship to unbreakable loyalty to each other. I have enjoyed every moment of it: the happy moments, the storytelling, the games, the constant support, the doubts, the fights, the sad moments, the extremely sad moments, the please-kill-me-now moments (yes, the one that will leave you crying like a baby for hours…). All of it!!

It is not perfect, but I will treasure the memory of this book until the end of my days. Even now some tears are threatening to come out just remembering the whole story again. This is the first book by Jaclyn Osborn I have ever read, buy I’m going to make sure that it won’t be the last.

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2019 – Book Gallery

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

Claro de Tierra – Arthur C. Clarke

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Original Title: Earthlight
Author:
Arthur C. Clarke
Pages: 320

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Two hundred years after humans first touched down on the surface of the Moon, there are permanent settlements there—as well as on Venus and Mars. The inhabitants of these colonies have formed their own political alliance: the Federation.

On the Moon, a government agent from Earth is hunting a suspected spy at a prominent observatory. He is caught up in the larger political struggle between Earth’s government and that of the Federation, and ultimately must struggle for his life—in the beautiful and barren landscape of the Moon under Earth’s light.

This book is about a government agent from Earth who has to travel to the Moon to find a spy. A spy who is sending information to the planets of the Federation about the mineral resources of the Moon.

Why is that important? Only the Earth in our Solar System is rich with the minerals that humanity needs to advance. So, our dear planet has a very tight control over those resources and doesn’t give them easily to the Federation. Obviously, the other planets are not very fond of that behaviour. Earth scientists discovered a way to exploit the mineral resources of the Moon, but the government decided to stay quiet, in order to avoid the Federation requests for more minerals.

Somehow, the Federation is informed about what is happening on the Moon; which makes the Earth government realizes that there must be a spy. That spy must be from the Observatory, a complex full of astronomers. They decided to send there an agent disguised as an accountant to investigate and catch the spy.

It sounds pretty interesting, isn’t it? Sadly, that’s hardly the main course of this book. The most enjoyable part is when the author describes how is the life on the Moon and all the politics that are necessary for the plot (and teaches the reader a bit of astronomy, too). I was expecting a “duel” between agent and spy, but nothing farther from reality. I even dare to say that the main character, Sadlter the agent, is utterly disposable. He doesn’t weigh on the story at all. He is just the couple of eyes Arthutr uses to show us how the world is in that distant future. That’s pretty sad, becasue if we remove the pages where Sadler is, the book would have like 50 pages at most. In all the important parts, the agent from Earth is nowhere to be found.

Does that mean is a bad book? Not at all. It just means that the book doesn’t give the reader what the blurb suggests. It would have been exactly the same without the agent or the spy. But Arthur is a master at drawing the future, so it makes up for the lack of the promised mystery.

There is also a detail I can’t forget: where are the women in that future? All the characters are male ones: scientists, soldiers, journalists… I know the first edition was in 1955, but it’s still curious that they don’t have any role at all.

It’s a good book, easy to read and enjoyable. But it’s not what I expected…

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Next: Blood Trinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love