St. Louis crime lord and renegade sentinel assassin Bas Cavrilo still remembers the first and last time he saw gorgeous clairvoyant Myst. That was the night they created their daughter Molly until Myst dropped 2 month old Molly at his apartment and disappeared again. Now Myst is back and Bas is demanding to know why, especially since Molly only recently survived a kidnapping by his enemies.
Bas listens as Myst explains being sold to the Brotherhood as a teen after a vision she’d create an Armageddon weapon, her escape and years of being their prey. Bas contacts The Mave, Lana to provide protection for Molly at Valhalla while he and Myst seek answers. Lana and Bas’ time as more than friends is long past but piques both Myst and Wolfe’s jealously when Lana agrees to help.
Brotherhood leader Stella’s confident it’s time for the weapon. As her minions search for confirmation the rumbles are heard in Valhalla and Stella plans beyond the step of eliminating Highbloods. Meticulous planning, a breach and a deviation from protocol are the perfect storm to position Stella for even more power when she stumbles onto things she can’t recognize. But then the big guns take aim.
***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***
The only thing true about Chris Brennan was there was no limit to what he’d do to get what he wanted. Right now he needed to become a teacher at Central Valley high where he could be near the town’s scions and their less worthy counterparts deepest secrets. Teenagers and their secret was a virtual cornucopia of information.
Minimum suspense and a slower pace are allotted as the stage is set with introductions, bits of background and the excitement a new, single, handsome teacher that’s eager to coach the baseball team can bring. It picks up as Chris sifts until only Evan Kostis, Raz Sematov and Justin Larkin remain as perfect candidates for his nefarious scheme.
With Mindy Kostis abandoned for her husband’s work, Susan Sematov still reeling from her husband’s death and busy single mother Heather Larkin, Chris easily presents himself as a man willing and able to help their sons on the path to manhood. The outing hints as a study of lonely mothers and their sons and gains momentum as Chris’ perfection bumps against these own family secrets.
For this reader’s taste, the slow burn inherent of a cast this size, the mystery of the antagonist and how to much to share when as well as the amount of red herrings, plot twists, turns and background make it almost impossible for the reader to definitely choose a foe. The ebb and flow of the information means nothing can be discounted to stay ahead in a fairly good thriller with strong, personable characters.
Goal oriented Dodge Henley doesn’t let rules, limits or other people’s concerns alter his plans. Unless that other person is Caroline King the one that got away. It’s been 30 years but Caroline knows if anyone can and will help her daughter, Berry, it’s her father, Dodge. Since the one and only time, Dodge saw Berry was the day she was born, he argued with himself about it and the guilt won.
Berry’s case is anything but simple, unwanted attention at work became stalking became attempted murder and a threat to her life. Meanwhile Berry’s not sure how Dodge fits in the picture and she can’t figure out Detective Ski Nyland and the circumstances of the assault are complicating her work life. Plus, it’s not that Ski doesn’t believe Berry, but…he doubted until Oren turned into a murderer.
With the murder, Ski began to realize his interest in the case was more than just catching Oren. As the villain of the piece, Oren Starks had a lot of ground to cover and plenty of people to terrify. For my taste he alternated levels of insane and psychotic, he was also intimidating but not necessarily frightening in his scenes. Oren’s essence was on the page even when he wasn’t.
This outing was very much an emotional soup. There was Caroline and Dodge with decades of baggage to work through, Berry with the secrets she kept and the secrets kept from her as she fell in love there was also Ski on a very fine line to getting involved with a principal on an open case and unable to disguise his feelings anymore. Quite the engrossing medium fast read.
Norman Rohan du Luc awaited death in a brutal Iberian prison along with his brothers at arms, fellow mercenaries and an unknown Saracen. Punished for surviving the horrific brutality inflicted on them, the men are bound as the Brotherhood of the Blood Swords and began sharing a legacy and cutting swaths of victory across the continent.
Seven years later, having become a notorious death squad for William the Conqueror, Rohan and the Brotherhood seize Rossmoor, easily overwhelming the unskilled Saxon villagers. As part of his personal booty, Rohan lays claim to Lady Isabel of Alethorpe while the squad settles into their new home.
Humiliated and proud, Isabel tries to protect herself as well as her people from the horrors Rohan has learned to inflict on others after years as a mercenary and at the hands of the Iberian prison’s torturer. Rohan brings ruthlessness, a hard hand and his inexplicable attraction to the battle of wits and wills that he has started with the fierce, spirited, warrior-like noblewoman destined to be his.
While Isabel’s actions seem to contradict her words and veer from her goal, make no mistake, Rohan’s not a moral and virtuous knight in the popular vernacular, he’s thoroughly a blackguard with his own sense of honor and at times. For my taste, their traits and actions added to the heat between them and their presence was felt whether they were being unlikeable and/or villainous, on or off the page.
War is hell and gentle readers may have difficulty with the visceral, brutal and generally horrific treatment inflicted on and by characters the medieval time period is infamous for in this well written and detailed read. To the victor go the spoils.
Andrew ‘Bell’ Carrington, Earl of Bellingham, is in the market for a new mistress when he spies widowed Laura Davenport, Lady Chesfield flirting with him behind his back… unintentionally. Later he sees her son Justin, sipping from and hiding a flask then lying about his whereabouts and actions. With a simultaneous opening to meet Laura and do a good deed he arranges to return the flask.
Though vicar’s daughter, Laura has been warned off from womanizing Bell, he’s enchanted by both her beauty and her innocence. As Bell returns the flask, Justin’s guardian comes to claim him. Annoyed with and suspicious of the guardian’s attitude toward Laura, Bell agrees to work a scheme on the fly with her that will keep Justin in her home instead of being shipped to his neglectful uncle.
Surly stepson Justin is determined to part the pair and sow every wild oat he can while there on his first trip to London. He resents Bell’s interference and only obeys Laura when she threatens to send him away. A matchmaker ensures Bell and Laura are balm for the other’s broken past fears but a golden opportunity was missed for developing their characters more.
The characters were a bit interesting and had chemistry, the secondary characters add a bit of depth to the leads as they deny their feelings and flirt their way through the majority of the read. The ending was telegraphed from the start and the fun was supposed to be in the journey. This cute foundation story had some good parts but for my taste, it was a bit slow and felt a tad padded.
Lin Su Simmons, devoted and over-protective mom to brilliant and charming 14 year old Charlie and great nurse to Winnie had plenty to showcase but what came though was her pride. Lin Su has struggled, made mistakes and picked herself up and carried on, doing the best she can for her baby, it’s always been the two of them.
Nerdy Charlie brings joy to their corner of Thunder Point, helping Winnie in his own way, trying little things to help improve his lot and making friends for the first time. Despite the romance, Charlie was the central figure and a good catalyst to Winnie’s new neighbor, tri-athlete Blake Smiley. While this pair was predictable, their relationship had chemistry the (adult) romance lacked, in my opinion.
Blake is looking ahead and close to fulfilling his dream of helping children with unfortunately backgrounds and upbringing reach their dreams. The more he’s around Charlie, the more he cares and the more Blake realizes Charlie’s exactly the kind of kid he’d like to help. Lin Su is pleased Thunder Point is working out for Charlie but not his fascination with Blake and she’s suspicious of Blake’s motives.
When Lin Su and Charlie’s personal life takes a downturn, Charlie takes it on himself to call Blake for help. This of course changes the dynamic between Lin Su and Blake. Past couples were mentioned or cameo-ed to say goodbye to fans and it was good to get closure with their stories.
For this reader’s taste the weakest link of this romance read was the romance itself, it felt very much ‘oh, I almost forgot s/he took my breath away. I should be with someone, why not him/her.’ Lin Su bludgeoned my enjoyment with her pride to the point I didn’t care about her character at all. It was apropos that this middle of the road series served a middle of the road swan song read.
This trip to Grace Valley was much like the last. The quirky residents still hadn’t taken their meds! Solutions are found for the patients that started the series, June’s teen crush comes to town and though things are hot and heavy between June and Jim, he is gone. A lot! John’s family becomes more invested in the community and June just might get her top wishes.
On the one hand a return to Grace Valley was like slipping into a favorite chair. On the other, I still don’t appreciate Grace Valley as much as it should be. In this case, the rating has more to do with the reader than tale.
Jian Tseng isn’t the fierce, fearsome man of his youth. Dementia, age and debt are rapidly claiming all that was once his and his condition worsens daily. Jian’s daughter, Fei Yen loses her leverage and semblance of protection or freedom with Jian’s death, including a secret gold find. Unable to depend on the crooked sheriff or his less honorable cronies, Fei can only come up with one plan.
With the military still hot on his trail, Shadow Ochoa is about to be hung for horse thievery in west Kansas. The rope is on his neck when Fei arrives to claim him as her husband. Though Fei thinks Shadow would be another dragon on her back, she’s confident both of their mixed heritages won’t be an issue and counts on Shadow feeling obligated for saving his life to help her save her cousin and the find.
Getting her cousin to safety and circling while the rest of the Hell’s Eight team catches up, the deranged military captain works a plan to trap Shadow. Meanwhile Shadow’s noticed tiny, Fei is as much alpha as he is and she won’t back off anything as she changes his mind on what kind of woman he finds attractive. Shadow also notices, when it counts, that marriage to Fei Yen might be a good thing.
Drug runner, Guero Davila told his lady love, Teresa Mendoza, if she ever got the signal to run, she shouldn’t hesitate. She should run for her life. Run as far, fast and long as she could until she felt safe. When and if that happened she should have a drink in memory of their good times together. The signal came during her bath. Teresa followed orders and she ran and ran and ran.
The second half off the narrative is the guise of a reporter determined to categorize and sensationalize the highlights to Teresa’s rise to power and notoriety as she becomes the darling of the social set and the bane of criminals everywhere simultaneously. Danger, adventure, love, betrayal and intrigue are all here with threads of pontification pulling this reader out of the flow.
This convoluted tale was quite the mess for this readers taste as it picked up a dozen years later from her point of view and backtracked to the night she ran to show the reporter. More frustrating than the flashbacks was the muddle created by shifting PoV’s, changing countries and the personal politics of the narrative as multiple stories were being told with views belonging to neither character. This outing could be a better appreciated by someone who enjoys that writing style more than this reader.
Virtus Security Director, Sean Owens, certainly didn’t expect to run into former child star and teen crush Sierra Blake in a parking garage. Sean had come to check on an employee and Sierra was part of a television convention where she also talked about her work with a national women’s center. Vividly vocal protestors of the center showed their displeasure by assaulting Sierra from the audience.
Rushing away in terror and shame, Sierra runs into the wall of Sean’s protective arms. After calming down she goes back to the forum but remembers how Sean’s arms felt. As if that weren’t enough, Sierra arrives home and finds it’s been vandalized. Again remembering how safe and protected, not to mention attracted she felt those few moments she was with Sean, Sierra decides he can keep her safe.
Sierra tamps the lust down and contacts Sean for his professional services. While Sierra isn’t in lust alone, Sean understands he has to be extra vigilant about their personal and professional boundaries as long as Sierra is a client. Protecting and being protected pull Sierra and Sean closer and make it hard to act professionally when all they both want to let the romance shatter and meld them into one.
The ramped up terror ignites their explosive feelings and erase the boundaries. Sean and his team have to decide if the attacks are against Sierra or Sierra’s work with the center then neutralize the threat. The suspect pool ranges from a mean spirited ex-boyfriend or frienemy to anti-choice elements like rival organizations disrupting Sierra’s life. It could even be someone they haven’t thought of yet.
The mystery, villain and world building pieces were well done, as were the supporting characters. For this reader’s taste Sean was well fleshed, there was difficulty accepting a ‘thinner’ Sierra. Also, the pacing was an issue for this reader, leaving room for real or imagined criticism of the development of the romantic piece. Overall, I liked but didn’t love the outing but will see what book two holds.