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Take Me Back by Rosalind James

 

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by Montlake Romance through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***

Jim Lawson left Paradise to become an Army Ranger. He left a tearful Hallie in his wake before coming back to be the deputy sheriff. Henry Cavanaugh tried to force broken-hearted Hallie to stay but couldn’t. Now Hallie inherits her wickedly vindictive father’s wealth, but only if she lives in his home and stays out of Jim’s bed. Henry knew love for Jim could bring Hallie back but is Jim worth millions to her?

There could have been a helping hand in Henry’s death and somebody’s not quite as calm as they appear or maybe they’re not happy to see the prodigal daughter return. With Paradise being a small town and all, it doesn’t take long for the conditions of Hallie’s inheritance to become public and less time than that for townsfolk to become interested in the outcome as they sneak peeks at the couple.

Luckily, Hallie’s plans are to collect her money and leave, not settle down in Paradise. But seeing each other again reminded Jim and Hallie the feeling between them was anything but dead. Five years bring changes and in Jim’s case its family. He’s now a widower and a father. But for this reader’s taste the circumstances around Henri’s death and the star couple were a bit frustrating.

There are few things that can always be counted on but some sure things are in this series. One is the story will be well written and the characters have full lives. Another is the flawed hero is definitely older and wiser than twenty-something. He’s learned something from his mistakes and can admit he’s been a jerk. Also, there will be so many suspects they kill the suspense until you just want it to be over.
Rating:3.75stars

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Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

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The formerly omnipotent Farwan Corporation had swept their dirty deeds under the rug, declared Jax dead and seized her assets before they had to relinquish power to the formerly impotent Conglomeration due to Jax’s recovered memories and testimony. In need of a job but un-needed for jumping or teaching Jax is offered a conglomerate job as an ambassador to a world of bug-like creatures.

Though Dina, March and Jax return, March and Jax are different enough to be new characters. New characters were welcome additions and a visit to March’s home planet gave him food for thought. Great additions to the crew, horrible heartbreak, a shiny new villain, angst galore, more duplicity, buckets of action, a handful of surprises and this read could thrill many a fan-girl. But not this one.

An inability to connect with the leads here and the amount of angst put the outing squarely in the like but not love category for this reader. Also, the logic was off enough to be an issue for my taste, Jax is too dead to the government to reclaim her assets while being alive enough for the government to demand her testimony and for them to overtly hire her. Trusting manipulative Ramona despite their past. Nope.
Rating:3.75stars

The Heir and the Spare by Maya Rodale

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Beautiful, witty, charming but clumsy American Emilia Highhart’s having a London season in hopes of ending it with a titled husband. It’s common for scapegrace Lord Philip of the rather tarnished reputation to avoid the balls and his traveled identical twin Devon usually goes in his stead.

At Emilia’s debut, she loses both her footing and her heart when she’s breathless after sighting Devon masquerading as Philip and falls into his arms. But Devon is just as smitten and despite the chaperone’s protests sees Emilia again. Philip is also smitten with Emilia and calls as well.

This reader confesses to be confounded early by the logic of this read and an inability to recover so credibility was an issue. The premise of mistaken twins is a cute and not overly used trope but saddled with an unbelievable heroine of mammoth clumsiness one wonders if stupidity, infirmity or affectation is the culprit.
Rating: 3stars

Yours For Eternity by Hannah Howell

 

Hannah Howell – Highland Blood (MacNachton Vampire #7) – Rating:4stars
One of the two new to me authors here presented a well-written, easy to follow short. The very accurate synopsis leaves this reader with little to say except Adeline and Lachann were fairly well developed with good chemistry in their soft but fast courtship on the run. There was connection to the series in a mention of the Demon Hunter Laird issue though there were missing pieces due to the rapid pacing.

Alexandra Ivy – Taken By Darkness (Guardians of Eternity #7.5) – Rating:3.75stars
London clan vampire chief, desirable Victor, Marquess DeRosa covets witch Juliet Lawrence’s powers and gives chase despite her staunch refusal and the enemy mage that protects her. The plotting felt a bit off for my taste in this dramatic right paced short featuring a subdued Levet in the midst of danger ushering the fated mates to their ultimate destiny and a fitting entry to the series..

Kaitlin O’Riley – Immortal Dreams – Rating:3stars
The second new to me author here introduces beautiful widow Grace Sutton as she’s been haunted by mysterious dreams of a handsome stranger as her mother in law busily tries to marry her off now that she can socialize again. Things begin to fall in place for Grace when she sees her dream man personified in vampire Stuart Phillips, Lord Radcliffe.
Overall Rating: 4stars

Rock Chick Regret by Kristen Ashley

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Ex DEA agent and current Nightingale hottie, Hector Chavez steps into the spotlight for his chosen lady, stressed socialite, Sadie Townsend, daughter of a notorious deposed drug lord. Unfortunately the top contenders for the vacant throne are under the impression Sadie is part of the spoils and have put her in precarious position.

Sadie presents a cool untouchable facade as lifestyle limits her social circle to the same false friends that belittle Daisy. Sadie stands for Daisy with that circle losing even more friends, Daisy misunderstands and breaks their budding friendship. Lee’s unable to take Sadie’s case when she comes to him for help. Having worked undercover for Sadie’s father, Hector secretly told Lee he’d look into things.

But Hector’s too late and Sadie seeks solace with acquaintances after being assaulted. The women spurred by Daisy rush to Sadie’s side with an express Rock Chick membership. In the manner of the alpha hotties before him, Hector wasted no time beginning the courtship, ready for the drama and danger while he wears down her resistance while he and the boys go to work to rescue the distressed damsel.

With fewer kidnappings or car bombs and the likelihood Daisy and Sadie would be in the same social circle, this outing presented a more ‘plausible’ situation than its predecessors. It’s also the most emotional ride of the series as you’re easily pulled into the world according to socially awkward Sadie. The secret to this series success is a mystery that works every single time. Just roll with it
Re-read: November 2016 & August 2013 – Original Read Jan 2013
Original Rating: 5 Stars

The Promise by Kristen Ashley

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Frankie Conchetti loves the Bianchi family but enough is enough! Since she’d taken a bullet for family, they’d obviously forgiven her and stopped the undeserved blame for Vinnie Jr’s death. If it wasn’t for the bullet she’d be on the way to her new start, letting her move on, move past Benny, maybe Benny could get past her and their awkwardly tangled past. If only…

At his home, Benny nurses Frankie back to health and cautiously fans the spark to a flame but reluctant Frankie can’t stop panicking, sabotaging their relationship. Benny’s neanderthal suit seems to have give over the first half of the read and he isn’t as obnoxious and with no real issues between them the read was fluffy fun.

While Benny’s tension points were all about the family, Frankie’s drama began with a seemingly random murder of a co-worker and involved the local Brownburg crew and contained a great touchback to the Rock Chick as it grew to a convoluted suspense thread. However, it came so late in the read the book could easily be cleaved in two.

Despite plentiful, hot smexy time, this reader had issues and liked but didn’t love the outing. 1) The leads were great support in At Peace but were flimsy in their own star turns; 2) The murder was too coincidental; 3) So much takes place in Chicago, it’s not quite a ‘Burg story so the relocation to Brownsburg felt forced; 4: Repetition and; 5)Frankie’s tedious drama added no depth to her character.
Rating: 4stars

Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison

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Rachel considers herself lucky. Though she’s promised to become Big Al’s (Algaliarept) familiar if she could keep her soul, she’s caused quite a bit of upset by plucking his familiar, Ceri, from his clutches and remained on her side of the line… barely. It turns out that was the easy part of her life. But using Rachel’s guidelines for life, la-di-da, it’ll work out.

Rachel’s life is more chaotic than usual with men in a revolving door moving toward and away from her, she, her partners and friends have their own feelings about Rachel becoming Big Al’s familiar, roommate Ivy wants Rachel for a blood-buddy. There’s a new big bad in town, Kalamack has a new plan and reckless Rachel doubled and spread her debt in this hidden plot yet somehow interesting read.

The final few chapters seemed to have a plot and tried to make up for the seemingly endless character introductions and minutia, it wasn’t enough to best this reader’s frustration. Frankly, it’s time for the series and it’s heroine to solidify the first three entries and determine what it’s going to be if Rachel is a heroine or not and for this reader to decide to go forward or abandon the series.
Rating:3stars

The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

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Thunder Point native son and former football phenom Seth Sileski’s choices led to some unexpected turns and brought him home as the town sheriff since Mac’s been promoted to Coquille. A limp and a lift are Seth’s daily reminders of the apex of his career when taking things for granted and youthful rashness were guidelines for his life.

After 16 years, Seth’s battle scars and the earned wisdom leaves Seth hopeful he can make amends to childhood sweetheart, Iris McKinley and his father, Norm, who can’t forgive Seth for ending his own career. Still broken-hearted and humiliated that popular, self-involved, teen-aged Seth took their friendship for granted and broker her heart, Iris said she forgave him but she really hasn’t.

Glimpses of fan favorites Rawley, Scott, Mac and Al (plus their feminine sidekicks) were threaded throughout the holiday themed read, though the read brought other townsfolk to the forefront. A secondary thread dealing with the insidious seriousness of abuse was quite good while lending itself to showcase the leads well. Other pieces of the read made the pair seeming to try too hard.
Rating: 4stars

Tribulation Force by Tim LaHaye Jerry B. Jenkins

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Religious themed and set in the mainstream this story is unapologetic in its presentation of a quartet calling themselves the Tribulation Force. The diverse foursome become close comrades through dedication to a single purpose believing an event based on specific actions and they are trying to ensure they aren’t  missed in the second culling.

 As the majority of the world population becomes more enchanted with the charismatic Nicolae Carpathia, our quartet become more convinced he is the Anti-Christ personified. Buck, Rayford and Chloe are flush with the novelty of religion and believe they’ve found purpose under Bruce’s leadership. Their new-found faith seems to have quite an impact on their lives personally and professionally.

 Buck is immediately at odds with a petty editor as he settles into his Chicago reassignment over an allegation he’s innocent of; Rayford’s puzzled by the career affecting dressing down for something he’s innocent of; Chloe’s decided to continue her education but in the theology realm under Bruce’s tutelage and Bruce himself has decided it is time to share his beliefs with others worldwide.

 he team readies themselves for what they’re certain will be next in the increasingly tortuous milestones on the way to apocalypse. While Nicolae and his followers seek to unify the world’s religions and currency, Buck and Rayford find themselves drawn deeper into Nicolae’s elite sphere.

 Buck and Rayord each feel responsible for Hattie’s situation as she uses her position with Nicolae to continue her petulant attitude toward them. A suspicious Buck questions Chiam and uncovers details behind the pact with Israel that is now a foregone conclusion as the world turns more to Nicolae’s leadership.  

 Through his relationship with Chiam, Buck is introduced to Tsion Ben-Judah an authority on prophecies. Buck and Chloe’s (silly) romance progresses while Rayford develops a friendship with Amanda. With pieces of the world positioned as a chessboard, disaster strikes. Team members are lost in found and a cliffhanger ending leaving both characters and readers anxious about the outcome.

 Despite the ‘immature’ writing style and the thinness of some characters, the story itself, if taken on its face is interesting and compelling. A bit of heyday gloss is lost from the series but the power to initiate conversation remains. It’s been both praised and condemned for being what it is … a fictionalized faith based series following group of heroes and heroines.  

Rating: 4stars

Divergent Bloodline by T.J. Shaw

divergent bloodline

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***

Little did homicide detective Viviane Taylor know her life would never be the same the moment she went to a murder scene at the dock. Clues point to ‘businessman’ Julian DeMatteo and luck of the draw sends her to his doorstep for the requisite questioning. From the moment Viviane entered Julian’s office they were both doomed by their mutual instant attraction.

As a master vampire and King of the Western Clans, Julian hasn’t had a reaction to a woman the way he responds to Viviane in his 600 years of existence. He also knows she’s forbidden fruit unless circumstances change. Orphaned as an infant and having no friends or associates that aren’t on the job, Viviane has no one to talk to about the excitement she feels just being near Julian brings.

A business dinner turns personal and ends in a goodnight kiss has them both retreating and wrapping themselves in obligations, albeit reluctantly, at least until after the investigation. Though their hearts and minds didn’t believe they could be apart they tried to pretend. This reader appreciated the case and the motive not falling by the wayside once the star couple appeared.

From the first paragraph, I was engaged in the story and recognizable tropes weren’t distracting because this was Julian and Viviane’s story with their friends and their lives. The characters, including the maniacal villain were easy to invest in. The reader is on the ride with Viviane learning the rules of this world’s Immortals.

Strong alpha Julian was dominant without bluster. Viviane was a smart, independent, strong woman in her own right and oozed power herself. Their first meeting was not about how gorgeous the other was. Something else appealed. Also their love affair seemed to go the way of mortals (what’s your middle name?; tell me about your family?, etc.). How refreshing!

The suspense, paranormal and romance pieces were each critical to the balance and pacing of the read and held together well. The danger, suspense and WTF were captivating. It might not be a perfect read but hell if I can find a fault. It was perfect for this reader and I have hope for a sequel. Having not read this author before there were no expectations but I’ll certainly search for more great reads from her.
Rating: 5stars

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