Thursday, February 22, 2018

ARC Review: Collision Point by Lora Leigh

Collision Point
Author: Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force (Book 1)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 27, 2018)

Description: HE’S NOTHING BUT TROUBLE

Riordan Malone is more than a bodyguard. As an Elite Ops agent, he’s ripped, raged, and ready to rumble―a true warrior, inside and out. But no war zone can compare to the battle in Rory’s heart when he lays eyes on the only woman he’s ever loved―and thought he had lost forever. . .

HE’S EVERYTHING SHE NEEDS 

As the daughter of a crime lord, Amara Resnova has endured the cruelty of her father’s enemies―and has tried to escape that world ever since. Now, she must reach out to the one man who saved her life, even if she’s never forgiven him for breaking her heart. But Amara is tougher today than she was then. She’s also more desirable to Rory―and dangerous to love. Can he protect her from her father’s enemies without surrendering to his own passions…or will love seal their fate for good?

My Thoughts: COLLISION POINT is the beginning of a brand new series but as I was reading I felt that there were stories for some of the characters that I was missing. Some quick research at Fantastic Fiction tells me that some of these characters were introduced in the Elite Ops series which I have on TBR mountain. The basic story is that Riordan Malone was hired as a bodyguard for Amara Resnnova. They fell in love, started a hot affair, then he was sent on an assignment, and, while he was gone, she was kidnapped. He found her severely beaten and with broken bones and rescued her. During the course of the rescue he was shot multiple times and died three or four times before he got to the hospital and out of the operating room.

He tries to contact her and is denied by her family who says she doesn't want to talk to him. Then she comes running to him because she's had dreams that tell her that he is the only one who she can trust. She has had a number of close calls which tells her that whoever kidnapped her and wanted her dead hasn't given up. The trauma of her abduction has made her lose all memory of the last year of her life. The last thing she remembers is meeting him when her father hires him to be her bodyguard.

Riordan was getting ready to go claim her when she came looking for him. He formed a connection with her that makes her his. He is willing to die for her. The sexual tension is high between the two of them despite Amara's lack of memory of their previous relationship. Much of the book is foreplay between the two of them. Lots of the rest describes their sexual encounters in tedious detail.

The romance plot far outweighs the suspense plot in this story. In fact, when the villain was revealed, my first reaction was "who's that?" Fans of Leigh's steamy romances will enjoy this one. People looking for suspense should look elsewhere.

Favorite Quote:
Malone men didn't just love, they were cursed, or gifted as his grandpops claimed, to share a bond that bound them forever to the ones they loved. To see through their eyes, their dreams.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

ARC Review: Darkest Night by Tara Thomas

Darkest Night
Author: Tara Thomas
Series: Sons of Broad (Book 1)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 27, 2018)

Description: In this first novel in the explosive, brand-new romantic suspense Sons of Broad series from Tara Thomas comes a novel of deadly secrets and hidden danger. In the sultry streets of Charleston, one family, ruled by its powerful, take-no-prisoners sons, has risen to the top. But a merciless enemy is out to destroy them…and everyone they hold close…

SHE THOUGHT SHE’D LOST HIM FOREVER
Tilly Brock has learned―the hard way―how to take care of herself. Once a pillar of Charleston society, her family lost everything in the wake of a shocking scandal. And then Tilly lost the only boy she ever loved.

BUT NOW THAT HE’S BACK IN HER LIFE
Keaton Benedict is Charleston’s most notorious bachelor. But in spite of all his advantages―the money, the women, the family name―he longs for more: the heart of the young woman he still can’t forget.

THE DANGER HAS JUST BEGUN…
When Keaton re-enters Tilly’s life, after all these years, she is torn between feelings of doubt and desire. Can they put the past behind them and learn to love again? Tilly is willing to try. But Keaton is afraid that a vengeful enemy is watching―and waiting to destroy them. Can the rekindled flame of their love defeat the deadliest rival and light their way forward in the darkest night?

My Thoughts: This first Sons of Broad book is romantic suspense with a heavy emphasis on suspense. Someone wants Tilly Brock dead. That same someone also wants to bring down the wealthy and powerful Benedict family.

Keaton Benedict is the youngest of the three Benedict brothers. He's a recent college graduate who wants to begin a division in Benedict Shipping for charitable giving. He's with some friends at a gentleman's club celebrating his graduation when he spots Tilly.

Keaton and Tilly were best friends on their way to a romance when she disappeared from his life. He was told that her father embezzled from the Benedict Company, was fired, and moved the family to Texas. In fact, they just moved to a different part of Charleston and dropped out of the upper social circle. Her father and mother both died leaving Tilly to struggle to make her way through college - thus the reason for working at a gentleman's club.

Soon after they met again, bodies started appearing around them. First Tilly's friend from work. Then two of the dancers from the club. Keaton's older brother was briefly a suspect in the second dancer's death.

Added to the confusion, a young woman who is determined to marry Keaton and who is a family friend has come to spend the summer with the Benedicts. She is not above using blackmail or murder to get her way and convince Keaton to marry her. At first, I wondered if her actions and presence were another attempt by The Gentleman. I don't think so but am still not sure.

Then there is the villain of the piece - The Gentleman - and his henchwoman/victim Jade. The Gentleman is involved in all sorts of crime in Charleston including human trafficking and he's the one who wants the Benedicts destroyed. Jade is an interesting character because she has been raised and brainwashed by The Gentleman to hate the Benedicts but is starting to question what she has been taught.

The romance storyline between Keaton and Tilly is brought to resolution in this book but the suspense plot will need resolution in the upcoming books in the series. This was a busy story with lots of threads.

Favorite Quote:
"The same blond ones from earlier?" The evil little scumbags.

She nodded. "You  know,they aren't natural blonds."

"There wasn't much of them that were natural, if you know what I mean." He waggled his eyebrows to lighten the mood and smiled when that got a laugh out of her.

"True. I remember one of them saying they got boobs for graduating from high school."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
Prologue

Two children, a brother and a sister, played down by the Old Bridge nearly every day, weather permitting. None observing them would have guessed they were a prince and a princess. The boy, the younger of the two, was generally up to his elbows in mud due to his brave exploits as a frog catcher. His sister, though significantly more prim, was often barefoot and sported a few leaves and flowers stuck in her hair. She thought these romantic, but her nurse, when she brushed the princess's hair at night, called them "common," and said it with a distinct sniff.
 
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
Fidel cleared his throat. There are many expressive ways a king may clear his throat; this one expressed keen interest. "Just how great would you say your kingdom is?"

"How great can you imagine, King Fidel?"

"Rather great."

"Mine is greater."
This week I am spotlighting Heartless from Anne Elisabeth Stengl which has been on my TBR pile since July, 2, 2010. Here is the description from Amazon:
Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon be married. She dreams of a handsome and charming prince, but when the first suitor arrives, she finds him stodgy and boring. Prince Aethelbald from the mysterious land of Farthestshore has traveled far to prove his love--and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be approaching Parumvir.

Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald's offer--and ignores his warnings. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir, and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in grave danger. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.

Book Review: The Sons of Broad Novellas

Shattered Fear
Author: Tara Thomas
Series: Sons of Broad
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 6, 2018)

My Thoughts: This novella introduces the Sons of Broad romantic suspense series. The setting is Charleston where a serial killer is targeting young women without families. They have been disappearing from a local club. The Prologue introduces The Gentleman and the nameless minion who is kidnapping girls for him. The minion is a gambler who owes The Gentleman half a million. He also apparently has ties to the police department since he knows Janie has been assigned to work undercover.

Janie is a police officer who is undercover at the club working as a bartender. There she meets Brent Taylor who is a rich guy who is also really handsome. She starts dating him despite the fact that he fits the profile of the kidnapper. They are shot at and Janie is removed from the case for her relationship with Brent. However, since a homeless guy she befriended outside the club is murdered, she doesn't want to let the case go and decides to investigate on her own.

The story ends on a cliffhanger and has a few things that bothered me. First of all, Janie is awfully weepy for a police officer. Also the relationship with Brent happened very quickly. I know that things have to happen fast in a novella but I still thought the relationship got too serious too fast. I also thought that Janie going from suspended to fired in the course of a couple of days seemed pretty unrealistic and looked like a potential lawsuit for the police department.

I am eager to see where the clue that Janie smelled a minty cedar smell and has linked it to the kidnapper goes in the next novella.


Hidden Fate
Author: Tara Thomas
Series: Sons of Broad
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 13, 2018)

My Thoughts: This second novella has Janie still investigating the kidnappings and murders that happened at the club where she was working undercover until she fell in love with a suspect and was fired by the police department.

Wealthy Brent Taylor was cleared of the charges through the use of DNA evidence. Now his main goal is protecting Janie who is still the target of someone who wants her dead.

The assassin who was assigned by The Gentleman to kill Janie is having too much fun trying to scare her by sending her dead roses and threatening poetry and trashing her apartment. He did make a mistake by leaving some DNA but his is not on file.

In her personal life, Janie and Brent and falling in love. She's ready to move with him to Washington, DC, as he serves on a government committee. Thinking they are safe house hunting in DC, they learn they are wrong when the assassin sends pictures of the two of them in an intimate moment in their hotel suite.

This is definitely the middle novella in a trilogy because it ends on a major cliffhanger. While the readers knew who the assassin was, the good guys just find out when Janie is kidnapped from a police picnic.

Twisted End
Author: Tara Thomas
Series: Sons of Broad
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 20, 2018)

My Thoughts: This concluding episode deals with Janie's kidnapping and Brent and Alyssa's quest to find her.

Janie has been drugged which leaves her with slow reactions and hallucinations. Her kidnapper didn't remove her phone from her back pocket though and, despite hands tied behind her back, she manages to call Brent which lets him know she's alive.

Alyssa grabs a tablet and tracks Janie's phone which leads them to an isolated forested area. They need to rescue Janie before the kidnapper steels himself to kill her.

After a fight which leaves Janie and Brent wounded and the kidnapper dead, The Gentleman decides Janie and Brent aren't a danger to him. He also kills a couple of young cops and frames one of them leading the police to believe that he was the kidnappers partner.

This series is among the least realistic romantic suspense stories I've ever read. Janie was kidnapped from a police picnic yet Alyssa doesn't alert the police to the kidnapping. She and Brent go off on their own to try to find her! She does indicate that the Charleston police force is fulled with corruption and she doesn't know who she can trust. But really? There are no officers that she can trust?

I am still curious about who The Gentleman is since he says that he fears Alyssa would recognize him. Hopefully, the full-length novels coming soon will answer that question.

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb. 19, 2018)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading... 

This was my "go to the dentist" week. I went on Tuesday and had an exam and met the dentist. I went on Wednesday for a cleaning and one filling. My next visit is already schedule for August. Our weather has been nice this week. Although it got well below zero during the night, the days were bright, sunny, and relatively warm. I think we hit 40 degrees on Valentine's Day. Of course all good things must come to an end. As I am writing this Saturday morning, I'm hearing a forecast for 3 - 6 inches of wet heavy snow on Sunday and continuing on into Monday.

For our excitement this week, our furnace quit working. I ran out to do some grocery shopping on Friday afternoon and got back to a chilly house. My brother came home shortly after I did and called the furnace repair guy he uses. Now our furnace has a brand-new motor and brain and should last us for a while. We have been talking about getting a new furnace since we moved in because we know this one is the original from when the house was built in 1999 and isn't as efficient as a newer furnace but it was working. Now we are going to keep an eye out for sales on furnaces with a goal of having a new furnace before next fall.

I've been staying up late to watch the Olympics this week. I mainly look for the figure skating. That should keep me busy for the rest of this week. The Voice starts again next Monday with Kelly Clarkson as a new coach. I can't wait!

Read Last Week
  • Deja Moo by Kirsten Weiss - cute cozy mystery. My review will be posted on March 14.
  • The Broken Girls by Simone St. James - Excellent mystery with a vengeful ghost. My review will be posted on March 17.
  • Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn - science fiction that reminded me of Robert A. Heinlein. My review will be posted on March 15.
  • Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts - TBR pile; YA epic fantasy that starts a series. My review will be posted on March 16.
  • Bones Don't Lie by Melinda Leigh - next in the Morgan Dane romantic suspense series. My review will be posted on March 13.
  • Losing Leah by Tiffany King - YA twisty psychological suspense story. My review will be posted on March 14.
Currently
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet - Epic fantasy from TBR mountain.

Next Week
Reviews Posted

On Inside of a Dog:
On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought
Diane Duane put out a plea on twitter to earn some quick money as she and her husband were in danger of losing their rental house and becoming homeless. I bought these to help her out.
More of Gwen Florio's backlist
  • Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James (because I loved The Broken Girls and wanted to try more of her work.)
  • Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre - I read the eARC and wanted a keeper copy.
Review
  • Falling Star by Terri Osburn (March 27) - because I haven't read a romance for a while
  • What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka (May 1) - this request was approved at NetGalley but I don't remember asking for it. I ordered the first book in the series since this is the second.
  • Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen (July 17) - sequel to another eARC I read
What was your week like?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

Little Girl Gone
Author: Gerry Schmitt
Series: An Afton Tangler Thriller (Book 1)
Publication: Berkley; Reprint edition (June 20, 2017)

Description: On a frozen night in an affluent Minneapolis neighborhood, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.

But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .

My Thoughts: Afton Tangler works for the Minneapolis Police Department as a family liaison officer but somehow she finds herself deep in the investigation of a kidnapped three-month-old baby. Elizabeth Ann was kidnapped from her parents' home and her babysitter was assaulted. These residents of the posh Kenwood section of Minneapolis have lots of influential friends who keep pressure on the police department and the FBI to find their child.

Afton works with Detective Max Montgomery searching for clues and trying to find connections that will lead to the recovery of the child. Their investigation leads to a mistress for the husband and some sexual hijinks that led to him leaving one med-tech company for another which makes him somewhat suspicious. But the key clue comes from the wife who points to a woman she talked to at a doll show at the local mall. She gave the woman her phone number and showed her a picture of Elizabeth Ann. Unfortunately, the woman gave a false name and the doll show organizer can't help the police locate her.

This story is told from a few viewpoints. Afton's is the most common but we also hear the thoughts of the really creepy doll lady and her equally creepy and murderous son. The story has a wonderful setting. I am quite familiar with winter in Minnesota and the locales - Minneapolis, St. Paul, Cannon Falls, and Hudson, Wisconsin - where the bulk of the story takes place. And, as it happens, I'm writing this while waiting for the kind of snowstorm happening in the story.

I liked Afton as a character but thought it was pretty unlikely that she would get as involved in the investigation in real life. She has the dogged persistence that a good detective should have. She wants to be a police detective and is getting support and training from many of the others on the case.

This was a real page-turner. It is filled with action and danger and scenes that kept me turning the pages until the satisfying conclusion. Fans of police procedurals will enjoy this well-crafted tale.

Favorite Quote:
Ronnie drove to the end of the block and stopped. Put the car in Park, left the engine running. "You sure you want to do this?" he said. Ronnie didn't mind a little rough sex when he needed to get his gun off, but killing a woman? Then again, it might be interesting. Sort of a new...diversion.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Memes: Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
Marjorie Sorenson turned hard, flat, snake eyes on the young woman in the fox fur parka who strolled toward her in the Skylark Shopping Mall. And instantly pegged her: rich bitch.
Friday 56:
Max squeezed into her cubicle and wedged himself into an uncomfortable metal side chair. "You know, I've been with the department for twenty years, and the most important thing I've learned is that as long as you can meet your own eyes in the mirror every morning, you're doing okay."
This week I am reading Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt from my TBR pile. Here is the description from Amazon:
On a frozen night in an affluent Minneapolis neighborhood, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.
But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .