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MuseAndRamble

Musings and Ramblings

Of a self professed bookworm and geek girl.

Review: Unwanted by Jennifer Estep (@Jennifer_Estep)

 

Series: Elemental Assassin, #14.5
Publisher: Pocket Star
Published: July 18, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 74 pages

To say that I am a huge fan of the Elemental Assassin Series could be an understatement. I have all the books in the series in both e- and paperback format. It's actually one of the few series that I allow on my physical book shelf. I have also read all the free shorts available on the the author's website. This isn't the first story told from Finnegan Lane's point of view, but the other was told by teenage Finn.

This book follows the events Bitter Bite, where Finn's mother returned to Ashland and surprised him and everyone else with her "resurrection". If you didn't read that book, you really want to wait on this one until after you read it. Because basically this is Finn's reaction and semi-redemption from the end of that book. 

I adored getting to sneak a peak into Finn's head, and see Gin from his perspective. Plus, even though this was a novella, there was still plenty of action to be had, just a lot less elemental magic being used.  I had a wonderful time with this novella and gave it 4 stars.

Simon & Schuster and Netgalley provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series continues with a new e-novella--from the point of view of Finnegan Lane, the foster brother of Gin Blanco, and a fan favorite of readers of the series.

The fallout from his disastrous “family reunion” in Bitter Bite has left Finn feeling hurt, angry, and depressed. He can barely stand to look at himself in the mirror, much less eat any of the delicious barbecue from Gin’s famed Pork Pit restaurant.

But when the funeral for a slain security guard at his bank turns into a showdown with some nasty underworld giants, Finn knows that he must act in order to protect an innocent family.

Finnegan Lane might be the most unwanted man in Ashland these days, but he’s determined to try to make amends for his past mistakes...
    
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Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/08/review-unwanted-jennifer-estep.html

Review: Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M Boyer (@susanmboyer)

 

Series: Liz Talbot Mystery, #5
Publisher: Henery Press
Published: July 5, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 268 pages

My reading tastes encompass many genres, but a few things remain constant: I liked a strong heroine, exceptional dialogue and enough action or mystery to keep me guessing and engaged. Whether it's a romance, a cozy mystery, a romantic suspense, an urban fantasy, or some crazy, mixed up, mashup of genres, those are my three must haves in a good read. This series has all of them in spades.

Though this series is set in the genteel region of Charleston, South Carolina, where manners and breeding are the by words to live by, and the seeming pace of everyday life matches the slow as honey speech, there is plenty of mystery just below the surface of even the most sedate lives. That's actually one of the reasons I like it so much, the notion that there is so much more below the surface and with a bit of patience, some stellar planning and a bit of luck, it can all be brought to the surface.

This time Liz and her new husband Nate are investigating the murder of a local heiress and philanthropist. The police think her husband did it, and don't plan on looking any further. It's up to Liz and Nate to discover just who would want the woman everybody adored dead and keep an innocent man from going to jail.

All of the wonderfully eccentric characters from the first books are back, including Colleen, the guardian of Stella Maris, and Liz's wacky family. I just can't help but smile, every time I read about them. This was a wonderful addition to the series, and kept me in suspense about the whodunit right till the end.

Henery Press and Netgalley provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 
Somebody pushed Shelby Poinsett out her second-floor library window and it wasn’t her husband. At least that what Charleston’s most prestigious law firm wants Liz Talbot to prove. Liz must run the spectrum of Southern society, from the local homeless shelter where Shelby volunteered to the one-hundred-year-old book club where Charleston’s genteel ladies are dying to join, to bring a killer to justice.
    
 
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Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/08/review-lowcountry-book-club-susan-m-boyer.html

Review: Devil and the Deep by Julie Ann Walker (@JAWalkerAuthor)

 

Series: Deep Six, #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: July 5, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 384 pages

The first book in this series, Hell or High Water, earned a 5 star read from me. I couldn't believe how awesome it was, great dialogue and action that just swept me away! So I was super excited to dive into book 2.

http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2015/07/guest-post-review-hell-or-high-water-julie-ann-walker.htmlWe met our heroine, Maddy Powers in book one, when the guys saved the yacht she was on from modern day pirates. I liked Maddy when we met her. She was scared to death, but did her best to keep up the illusion that she wasn't. Her spunky attitude in the face of danger, earned her kudos from me.

The book starts about 3 months following the Maddy's pirate adventure.  Bran and Maddy have been corresponding during this time, and now Maddy has written to him that she will be coming from Texas to the Dry Tortugas, about 15 nautical miles from the island the team is living on, with 3 scholarship winners for a camping trip.  She has invited him to come by and see them, and maybe talk to the girls about the guys search for the Santa Cristina. Sounds like an nice little trip, right? Something sweet and easy, and a chance for Maddy and Bran to have some face time?  Yeah, no.

Everything starts out okay, but then a group of guys with machine guns show up, intending to kidnap Maddy.  Pfft. Like Bran is going to let that happen. He is a SEAL after all. Bran and Mason manage to rescue Maddy, but the girls were taken hostage.  And thus begins an action packed game of hide and seek on the island. Maddy insists on going along since she actually knows the island and it's history, while Bran growls and goes just a bit caveman.

I had a fantastic time with this book. As with the first book, once I started it, I didn't want to put it down.  Luckily, I planned ahead and had a nice block of time set aside with no interruptions. And again, I just zoomed through the book not coming up for air until the book was done. It was an amazing read and worth everyone of it's 5 stars.

Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The former SEALs of The Deep Six return in a sizzling series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie Ann Walker.

A COVERT MISSION
Maddy Powers's life revolves around cocktail parties, political fundraisers, and charity events - but she can't forget the daring former SEAL who appropriated her father's yacht a few months ago... or the scorching kiss they shared before he disappeared into the deep blue sea.

SPARKS A FLAMING DESIRE
Bran Pallidino carries a dark secret behind his lady-killer eyes - one that keeps him from pursuing a serious relationship with Maddy. But when she's taken hostage during a trip to the Dry Tortugas, the men of Deep Six Salvage drop their treasure hunt for a sunken galleon and embark on a dangerous mission to save Maddy.

WITH EARTH-SHATTERING REPERCUSSIONS
As they fight her merciless kidnappers, they discover this isn't a simple hostage situation, but something far more sinister. Passion boils between Bran and Maddy, but what good is putting their hearts on the line if they don't survive the dawn?
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-devil-and-deep-julie-ann-walker.html

Review: Always My Girl by Samantha Chase (@SamanthaChase3)

 

Series: The Shaughnessy Brothers, #3
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: July 5, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages

I was excited to see another Shaughnessy Brothers book come available and I am adoring that cover.  There is something about it that just makes me think of long summer days and flirting with that cute boy next door.

As I have mentioned in my reviews for the first two books in The Shaughnessy Brother's series, the author has once again thrown us a curve ball.  What do I mean by that?  Well, in the very first book, it was clear there was some not only massive chemistry between best friends Quinn and Anna, but Anna's been fighting a major crush most of her life.  So with this sweet teasing build up between the two characters, I figured we wouldn't get their happily ever after until the last book.  You know, keeping us in suspense throughout the entire series? That would be standard operating procedure for most authors.  But nope, here we are, mid-way through and *Bam*, we get their story. 

And what a story it was. Anna was such a strong character. Yes, she does try to change herself to please and attract Quinn, but she also makes some wonderful discoveries about herself in the process. Then, just as she is throwing in the towel and working towards trying to get over Quinn, he finally figures things out. Quinn turned out to be a much more complex character than he had appeared in the first two books. I really enjoyed their interactions and the dialogue was so clever.  I had a great time with this book and gave it 4 stars.

Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Falling in love with your best friend? Easy.
Telling them how you really feel? Impossible.

Quinn Shaughnessy believes there's a lot more to life than romance, and he always thought his best friend Anna agreed. But now she's coming out of her shell and dating... and Quinn starts seeing her in a very different light.

Anna can tell Quinn anything, except the big secret she's been hiding for years-that she's fallen in love with him. Now Anna is determined to make a life for herself that doesn't include hopeless pining. But just as she's ready to move on, Quinn seems determined not to let go-and the way he's looking at her might be enough to finally change them from best friends to best everything.
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-always-my-girl-samantha-chase.html

Review: Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones (@darynda)

 

Series: Charley Davidson, #10
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: June 28, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 353 pages

I have had the hardest time actually sitting down to write this review.  I have put it off multiple times, always finding some reason why I didn't have the time, energy or brain power to write it. Although I'm not exactly sure why. I mean, at first glance, this was another great story in the Charley Davidson series. Full of all the snarky Charlie and darkly sexy Reyes that we have all come to know and love.  And yet...

Yeah, there's that 'and yet'.  This is the book after Charley gets her memory back after giving up her child. After having her father cross over through her, compounding the trauma of his death.  This is the story that takes place after finding out more about Reyes origins and the true depth of the deceptions and manipulations that are happening.  Charley vacillates between her earlier persona where she was so uncertain of Reyes and where their relationship was heading, spending time brooding over him, and this new, harder persona where she is so seemingly casual about what amounts to torture to her friends and allies.

Overall this was a great book, though darker in it's theme. I don't think we are done seeing the lengths Charley will go to to get her daughter back. This book stayed with me and kept me thinking about more than the cheap laughs that it is know for. I gave this book 5 stars, for being an amazing read.

Netgalley and St. Martin's Press provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

As a Part-time PI and fulltime grim reaper, Charley Davidson has asked a lot of questions throughout her life: Why can I see dead people? Who is the hot supernatural entity following me? How do I get gum out of my sister’s hair before she wakes up? But, “How do I trap not one malevolent god, but three?” was never among them. Until now. And since those gods are on earth to kill her daughter, she has little choice but to track them down, trap them, and cast them from this dimension.

There’s just one problem. One of the three stole her heart a very long time ago. Can the Razer, a god of absolute death and destruction, change his omniscient spots, or will his allegiances lie with his brothers?

Those are just a few of the questions Charley must answer, and quick. Add to that a homeless girl running for her life, an innocent man who’s been charged with murder, and a pendant made from god glass that has the entire supernatural world in an uproar, and Charley has her hands full. If she can manage to take care of the whole world-destroying-gods thing, we’re saved. If not, well…
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-curse-of-tenth-grave-darynda-jones.html

Review: Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon (@cherylhollon) #kLover

 

Series: Webb's Glass Shop Mystery, #3
Publisher: Kensington
Published: June 28, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 320 pages

I read the first book in this series, Pane and Suffering, because it was a cozy mystery set not too far from me, in my home state of Florida. I have kept reading the series, because the author does not only a fantastic job of capturing the uniqueness that is St. Petersburg and the entire Suncoast area, but also telling an first rate story.

Our story revolves around Savannah Webb, glass artist and owner of Webb's Glass Shop.  Occasionally, we see things from Homicide detective David Parker's viewpoint, but that is usually when explanations need to happen that Savannah wouldn't have access to. It's a great way of keeping us, the reader, informed and up to date, as well as seeing how things are progressing from the official law enforcement view.

The romance that I had predicted in book one, is really coming alive between Savannah and her work neighbor Edward.  More of the neighborhood is explored, especially as Savannah has opened up a new venture, Webb's Studio, nearby to cater to artists needing space to create. As the characters move around the town and surrounding area, the descriptions are so distinctive, that I could almost smell the salt in the air.

If you are like me, and enjoy reading cozy mysteries in part for the slice of small town life they typically explore or for the many wonderful hobbies and crafts that are described, this would be a great series to explore. This was another wonderful addition to a series that has been top notch and I gave it 4 stars.

Kensington and Netgalley provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it's up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer...

It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat--a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake. Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane...

Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest. But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag. With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through unchartered territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death...
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-cracked-to-death-cheryl-hollon.html

Review: Fixin' to Die by Tonya Kappes (@tonyakappes11)

 

Series: Kenni Lowry Mystery, #1
Publisher: Henery Press
Published: June 14, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 224 pages

I have been a fan of Tonya Kappes and her offbeat paranormal mysteries for a while now, so I was excited to see a new series coming out. This is an author who does a wonderful job with slightly offbeat, yet incredibly down to earth characters.  Plus she totally has the unique southern small town vibe nailed down.  Even though there is some form of paranormal going on, she makes them seem almost believable. It's one of the reason I keep going back to her work.

Which is why it pains me so, that I had a hard time getting into the beginning of this book.  It just wasn't flowing for me. It wasn't until well into chapter 6 (about 25%) that I really became engrossed and fully committed to the book. I'm hoping it was the fact that we spent most of that time going around the town and getting to know it's inhabitants, and basically laying most of the groundwork. I just wasn't sure if I was going to like Kenni or not. It took a bit for me to really warm up to her.

In the end, I was elated to see that I had figured out who the bad guy was. I didn't have the motive, but that was a tricksy surprise that Kenni didn't figure out either, until the big reveal. Overall, I did enjoy this book and happily look forward to the next Kenni Lowry book. I gave this book 3 stars.

“Aren’t you ordering?” he asked.
“She knows what I want.” I waited patiently but my taste buds were already oozing.
“Sunny Goose Sammy for you.” Jolee put my usual in a paper carton on top of the counter, a cup of coffee next to it. “And a Yankee sandwich for you.” She sat Finn’s plain turkey sandwich next to mine.
“Pepsi?” Finn asked.
“You didn’t order a Coke.” Jolee was getting a little feisty.
“Right, I’m ordering a Pepsi…” he said, trying to figure her out.
“Well.” She straightened her shoulders and twirled one of her pigtails with her finger. “When you ask nicely.” She grinned back. “One problem, we only serve Coke.”
“That’s fine,” Finn stuttered, not knowing how to handle Jolee.


Netgalley and Henery Press provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Kenni Lowry likes to think the zero crime rate in Cottonwood, Kentucky is due to her being sheriff, but she quickly discovers the ghost of her grandfather, the town’s previous sheriff, has been scaring off any would-be criminals since she was elected. When the town’s most beloved doctor is found murdered on the very same day as a jewelry store robbery, and a mysterious symbol ties the crime scenes together, Kenni must satisfy her hankerin’ for justice by nabbing the culprits.

With the help of her Poppa, a lone deputy, and an annoyingly cute, too-big-for-his-britches State Reserve officer, Kenni must solve both cases and prove to the whole town, and herself, that she’s worth her salt before time runs out.
    
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Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-fixin-to-die-tonya-kappes.html

Review: Test Drive by Marie Harte (@MHarte_Author)

 

Series: Body Shop Bad Boys, #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: June 7, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 386 pages

This is a spin off of The McCauley Brothers series, about 4 brothers who find their lady loves and deal with their parents separation and eventual reunion over the quartet of books. The final and oldest brother Mike, fell for Delilah 'Del' Webster, who is a mechanic and works in her father's garage. This series is about some of the other mechanics in that garage. I was super stoked for this series, because I love me some blue collar guys. There is just something about a guy who works with his hands and doesn't mind getting dirty that just revs my engine. [See what I did here? ;)]

At first I wasn't sure how well I was going to like Johnny. After all, he seemed a bit of a player in the beginning. But the more I got to know him, the more I saw it was mostly for show. He's had a thing for Lara, the bartender/waitress at the local watering hole for ages, but hasn't done the hard press for her attention. Then one night, when she was out in the parking lot fending off the unwanted advances of her sister's ex-husband, he completely steps up and saves the day.  Plus, he was totally the sweetest thing with Lara's nieces. There was a cute little scene one night when he came over while Lara was unexpectedly babysitting them. The youngest niece has a thing for unicorns, and Johnny was willing to talk with her about them, earning him serious little girl cred. Here is a bit of dialogue that followed later that night:

“If it makes you feel any better, he’s not my type.”
“Yeah?”
“I like my men big, strong, and able to take a punch. Ones who know what unicorns are.”
His frown turned into a sexy smile. “I like pink too. I’m in touch with my feminine side. Really.” He ran a finger down her cheek. “In fact, I want to be in touch with your feminine side.”

I liked Lara a lot as well. She's working full-time and going to school to become a nurse. She helps her sister out and is very close with her parents. She lives paycheck to paycheck, but has a dream and a plan to get there. I could completely relate to her and thought she was a very likable character.

I have a feeling that I am going to be completely loving this series. The author has done a great job of taking ordinary people and giving them a hot and steamy romance that I can totally relate to. I can't wait for the next book in the series. This was a 4 star read.

Netgalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

GET TO KNOW THE BODY SHOP BAD BOYS
Johnny, Foley, Sam, and Lou are the rough and tumble mechanics of Webster's Garage. These reformed bad boys are used to living fast, but it's the women in their lives who take them from zero to sixty in a heartbeat.

JOHNNY
Johnny Devlin's a charmer with a checkered past. He's has had his eye on scorching-hot bartender Lara Valley for ages, but she's rejected him more than once. That doesn't mean he won't come to her aid when some dirtbag mauls her. When she asks him on a date as a no-strings-attached thank you, he can't say no. And then he's saying nothing but hell, yes.
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-test-drive-marie-harte.html

Review: To Love a Wolf by Paige Tyler (@PaigeTyler)

 

Series: SWAT, #4
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: June 7, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Length: 352 pages

This series has is the perfect mix of Paranormal Romance and Romantic Suspense.  We have a Dallas SWAT team, so there is all manner of the police/criminal element with lots of fantastic action and solid suspenseful moments. Mix in them all being Alpha Werewolves, and this adds a layer of Paranormal that gives this series and masterful edge. Throw in the whole HEA thing and it's the perfect mix of romance, suspense, and paranormal for those of us who just can't get enough of either genre.

Cooper has a been a sweetheart of a guy in the previous three books, helping the guys to come to terms with and accept that the awesome new woman in their life just might be The One. Being able to see Cooper get his shot at it, and almost blowing it, was lead to an excellent read.

We are back to a werewolf/human mix. But there is a serious twist this time with Everly's family that helped to fill in more world building with new details. I was happy to be able to see more of our previous couples through the eyes of Cooper, as well as getting the scoop on some secondary characters road to an HEA that spans multiple books in secondary plot lines.

Everly and Cooper had great chemistry together right from the start, with their introduction coming in the form of a bank robbery that Cooper stops, oh and while doing so, saves Everly's life. Take the following exchange for example:

“Well, if a date is the thanks you’re looking for, I can promise you one thing,” she said.
“What’s that?”
She stepped closer, and if they hadn’t been in the middle of a crime scene, he wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d gone up on her tiptoes to kiss him. And he sure as hell wouldn’t have stopped her.
“That you’re in for the very best date of your life,” she said.

I can't get enough of this series, and while you could probably read these as stand alone, you will miss the details and slow but steady world building that has been taking place through out the books. And why would you want to do that?  I am as thrilled with this book as I was with the first. 4 Stars for a Great Read!

Netgalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

HE'S FOUND THE ONE...

SWAT officer Landry Cooper is certain Everly Danu is The One. The problem is, she has no idea what Cooper really is. And as much as he wants to trust her, he's not sure he can share his deepest secret...

When Everly's family discovers Cooper's a werewolf, her brothers will do anything to keep them apart-they'll kill him if they have to. Everly is falling hard for the ridiculously handsome SWAT officer, and she's not about to let her brothers tell her who she can love... Until Cooper's secret is exposed and she discovers the man she thought she knew is a monster in disguise.

BUT CAN HE KEEP HER?
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-to-love-wolf-paige-tyler.html

Review: Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver (@JanetFinsilver)

 

Series: Kelly Jackson Mystery, #2
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Published: June 7, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 192 pages

The first book in this series, Murder at Redwood Cove, was a fabulous four star read from a debut author. The combination of a scenic setting, colorful characters, and a unique plot-line served to capture my attention and brought me back for more.

Murder at Redwood CoveAt the end of book one, Kelly Jackson, temporary manager of Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast became the permanent manager with her decision to settle down in the area.  She has just barely returned from her parents home in Wyoming, loaded down with a horse trailer full of her things when she heads over to Resort Internationals other local property, Redwood Heights to assist with doing an inventory in preparation of it's sale.

While she is there, a guest falls down some stairs and swears that she was pushed.  When the same guest ends up murdered the very next day, suspicion falls on everyone who was in the mansion at the time.  And with a recent spate of jewelry thefts at the mansion, everyone is suspect and on edge wondering if the two crimes are connected. Kelly has to call on the Silver Sentinels to help her sort through historical paperwork, find missing suspects and  work to find the guilty party or parties.

I really don't want to spoiler anything too badly, but I just have to say that I was completely fooled by the thief. There were plenty of hints dropped, but I didn't put it together until after Kelly explained. The murderer was a bit of a surprise; I was almost all the way there when they exposed themselves as the killer.  Wooboy, what a moment that was! The reveal was so clever and unexpected that I had to go back and reread it a couple times to make sure that I had it all correct. 

Though this book gives us a bit more background on Kelly, as well as the Silver Sentinel individuals, it still defers much of their history to be discovered in coming books. I had a marvelous time in the town of Redwood Cove and can't wait to see what happens next. A great read, I gave it 4 stars.

Netgalley and Kensington Books provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Fortunes, fineries, and foul play...

It’s whale-watching season in Redwood Cove, and B&B manager Kelly Jackson’s battening down the hatches for the tourist rush at Redwood Heights—a Victorian-style estate owned by her boss. And due to recent jewelry thefts, her duties include keeping track of the many dust-covered artifacts spread throughout the property. But when Kelly finds Sylvia Porter’s lifeless body, menial tasks don’t seem so terrible. Enlisting the help of a ragtag group of brainy retirees, aka the “Silver Sentinels,” Kelly’s on the hunt for clues hidden behind the mansion’s glamorous façade...and for a killer who may want to make history of her next!
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-murder-at-mansion-janet-finsilver.html

Review: In the Line of Fire by Jett Munroe (@JettMunroe)

 

Series: Hot Desert Heroes, #1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Published: June 7, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 245 pages

I have been on a real Romantic Suspense kick lately, and let's be honest, there have been some outstanding examples available. I found this little gem, and just couldn't resist adding it to my reading list.

The book started a bit slow, with 10 pages of back history on our heroine, Laney before the first line of dialogue is spoken. But what I line it was.  Our hero Beck, has been watching her hide from him and duck his subtle advances for over a year. Now he's done waiting around and decided to go for the gold.

“I’m not givin’ you a chance to run, Laney. No more playin’ around. Today’s the day you and I start to get acquainted.”

Laney is a very shy and slightly socially awkward character.  She didn't have a great childhood, with a mother who constantly belittled her and compared her to her sister. Luckily, her sister had her own issues with their mother and the sisters managed a very tight bond.  However, that lack of self-esteem led her to end up in an abusive marriage, that she did manage to find the courage to escape from. Where this leaves us is with a character who is has a hard time believing that the hot guy she has had a crush on, is crushing on her right back.

Beck and his crew are former special ops Marines. They joined together, each bringing a unique specialty to the table and formed Red Eagle, a security firm. Beck is very much a guy. I know what you are thinking, of course he is. But I mean, like a real guy. Knowledgeable about the physical, but not so knowledgeable about the emotional. Some of his comments came off just a bit chauvinistic, but totally believable for the character and his background.  Honestly, I don't really mind a guy being a guy, as long as he's not a complete misogynist asshat. Or as Laney's friend says to her:

“He’s still just a man,” Colbie said with wisdom beyond her years. “Give him a problem to solve and he’s all over it. Give him a woman and, other than sex, he doesn’t quite know what to do with her.”

There were a couple of times that I thought their relationship seemed a bit rushed, but I had to keep reminding myself that they have this year of history as acquaintances. Due to circumstances the relationship progressed pretty quickly, and even Laney had concerns about how quickly they were moving in together, though Beck had no issues at all.

I did like the dialogue between Beck, Laney and their friends and co-workers. Plus the suspense and action bits were well plotted and paced. I can totally see myself heading back to into this world for the next book. This was an enjoyable read and I gave it 3 stars.

Netgalley and Samhain Publishing provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Their passion burns white hot. But danger is heartless and cold.

Hot Desert Heroes, Book 1

Delaney Murphy has had a stomach-fluttering, mouth-watering crush on Beck since the first time she saw him over the rim of her regular morning latte. But she’s never been long on self-confidence, especially around exceptionally handsome men.

After a year of avoiding him, she’s shocked when he slides into the next chair and wears down her resistance to a first date.

When Laney is laid off from her job, Marines special ops veteran Beck “Gravedigger” Townsend wastes no time hiring the quiet, auburn-haired beauty into Red Eagle Group, his security firm. Keeping her within touching distance—and under his protection.

Laney’s smile and sharp intelligence light up Beck’s life and heat up his bed, yet he hesitates to give her what she really wants: full access to the darkest corners of his wounded spirit. But when danger is delivered right to Red Eagle’s door, the only way to save her—and their love—will be to bleed. Body and soul…

Warning: Adult language and graphic sex scenes between a man locked behind his secrets, and a woman ready to break free of her past. If you think the desert is hot, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-in-line-of-fire-jett-munroe.html

Review: Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle (@katieruggle)

Series: Search and Rescue, #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: June 7, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 450 pages

The last two stories in this series dealt with the Dive Teams part of Search and Rescue.  This story centers on the Fire Fighting side, specifically with biker bad boy, Ian Walsh.  To be honest, I wasn't sure that I was going to be all that into this book. I mean, I am so done with the sub-genre of "MC/biker" books. It's on my list of Nope's, falling right under "Billionaires". Seriously, I'm just over them all ready.  But I enjoyed the last book so much, that I had to give this one it's fair chance. I'm glad that I did. This book didn't take us down that well worn road with the usual cliches and try to glamorize or sensationalize bikers. It simply painted the picture of the good and bad that can be found in the clubs and they are made up of all kinds of people.

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Our heroine, Rory, was such an awesome character. She appears to be a bit anti-social, plenty paranoid and with just a smidgen of the dark side.  But that's not it at all, not really. There are plenty of good reasons why she is the way she is. And the fact that Ian seriously adores her is so amusing in her bafflement of how to act towards him. I had a lot of fun watching these two dance around each other.  I loved how the female character is the gun enthusiast and to be honest, after reading about her handling them, it totally made me want to go to a shooting range and give it a try.

There were some great moments in this book, including the ones where she is going head to head with the less legal members of the biker clubs.  The following is what she tells one who is giving her a bit of hard time about one of her guns:

“No, I’ve decided for you.” Rory flicked her fingers in a “gimme” gesture. There was a beep indicating someone had just come through the front door of her shop, and the last of her patience disappeared. “If you can’t appreciate an accurate, dependable, untraceable Kel-Tec SUB 2000 because it’s not comfy enough, then you don’t deserve it. Hand it over.”

The series arc continues as they we find out more information about the HDG and the mystery surrounding his death, as it ties into the plot of this particular book. I enjoyed the ride along and behind the scenes of the firehouse, as Rory interacted with Ian. There was plenty of action carefully balanced by heart, and it kept me turning pages until I finished breathless.  This was a Great Read and I gave it 4 stars.

Netgalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As a Motorcycle Club member and firefighter, Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the Club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids, Rory Sorenson. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath-and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms, and for the past few years, she's managed to keep the peace between dangerous factions by remaining strictly neutral. But when she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a Motorcycle Club war-with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-fan-flames-katie-ruggle.html

Review: Grilled for Murder by Maddie Day (@maddiedayauthor) #kLover

 

Series: Country Store Mystery, #2
Publisher: Kensington
Published: May 31, 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 304 pages

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Flipped for Murder, enough to give it 4 stars. The idea of an old country store and restaurant, quaint with age and a homespun feel, just gives me this warm glow. I know it's the wrong part of the country and not completely accurate, but I can't help picturing a cross between Luke's Diner in Star's Hollow and Cracker Barrel whenever I picture the interior. It gives me that same small town, everyone's welcome, homey vibe.

 Flipped for MurderRobbie's restaurant is well on it's way to becoming a local landmark. She is catering a private welcome home party for the daughter of a local couple. The daughter is returning home after the death of her husband, Robbie's love interest's twin brother. (Don't you just love small town dynamics?) But Erica, the daughter in question, not only shows up over a hour late to her party, but starts several arguments and is quite the drama queen. But Robbie is beyond shocked when she wakes up the next morning and goes out to find Erica dead on the floor of her store propped up next to the pickle barrel.

For this investigation, the state police are called in and some new characters are added to the mix of the ones from book one.  There is a bit of romantic drama for Robbie, as the new state police detective is the former love of Jim, Robbie's boyfriend. I had a pretty good idea of whodunit, and was ultimately rewarded with being 100% accurate. The side plots added a provocative twist to the story, and I had a hard time putting the book down. I confess, I would have consumed this in one go if life had allowed. This was another great read and I gave it 4 stars.

Netgalley and Kensington provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Robbie Jordan may have had reservations about the murder victim, but she still needs to turn up the heat on a killer if she wants to keep her new restaurant open for business…

In the charming small town of South Lick, Indiana, Robbie has transformed a rundown country store into the runaway hit Pans 'N Pancakes. But the most popular destination for miles around can also invite trouble. Erica Shermer may be the widow of handsome local lawyer Jim Shermer's brother, but she doesn't appear to be in mourning. At a homecoming party held in Robbie's store, Erica is alternately obnoxious and flirtatious--even batting her eyelashes at Jim. When Erica turns up dead in the store the next morning, apparently clobbered with cookware, the police suspect Robbie's friend Phil, who closed up after the party. To clear Phil and calm her customers, Robbie needs to step out from behind the counter and find the real killer in short order…
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-grilled-for-murder-maddie-day.html

Review: Jae's Assignment by Bernice Layton (@samhainpub, #bernicelayton)

 

Series: None
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Published: May 31, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 242 pages

I was excited when I saw this book. A female FBI agent being the saver instead of the savee? Hells Yeah!  As far as I'm concerned, we don't get enough of the woman being the ass kicker in romances today. Woman are just as capable as men, and our romances should reflect that.

Once I got into the book, I discovered that the female lead is a woman of color. I was startled for a minute, mainly because the cover is ambiguous enough that you don't really notice skin color.  *Applause* Here's to us all becoming color blind and choosing a story about character, not race. Nicely played, Samhain.

There was also a very well thought out and intricate plot. The action moves along at a pretty good clip and though there were a lot of moving pieces, the story stayed on point and kept things progressing nicely.  We knew who the bad guy was early on, and parts of his plot, but not all the pieces. That was strung out throughout the story, keeping you guessing and wondering. All the characters were well rounded and complex, creating a very believable world.  There was a lot to like about this story.

So, what didn't I like?  First off, not enough dialogue.  Pages and pages of being told things. Person A did this, and Person B did that. Person C goes here and Person D went there. Stop telling me.  Let the character's talk to each other and by extension, to me. Here we have this strong, sassy, smart mouthed, bad ass of an agent, and she spends more time talking to her herself than to others. *facepalm*

Another problem I had with the dialogue that was there, was that it felt very stiff. There was very little back and forth between the characters. It was mostly these several sentence long paragraphs, that felt nothing like a conversation.  Take the following for example:

“Let’s get something straight so there is no misunderstanding, you shithead. I’m an FBI agent. You are an assignment and it is my responsibility to keep your dumb ass alive until you become somebody else’s headache. But you do not come to my parents’ home or interact with my family, you understand what I’m saying to you?”

This starts well, but just keeps going and going.  I really felt our hero could have interjected, interrupted, just something, anything, to help create a joint dynamic. Instead, she rants at him, then he has this multi-paragraph explanation in response. Each one is doing their own mini soliloquy, not actually working together to create an exchange or discourse. It just felt too unnatural and stilted to work for me.

That being said, would I recommend this read? Absolutely. Many people don't have the nit picky issues that I do with dialogue, and there was much to recommend besides the dialogue, which is my personal foible. If you are looking for a romantic suspense with complex characters and a tight plot, give this book a look. I gave this book 3 stars for being an enjoyable read.

Netgalley and Samhain Publishing provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Trusting her is dangerous. Not trusting her could be deadly.

Jae Randall isn’t just another pretty face. She’s a trained FBI Special Agent who’s just been assigned to extract and relocate a witness.

It’s a no-brainer. Strictly routine. Until she realizes there’s nothing ordinary about this assignment—nor the handsome doctor she’s supposed to protect.

After five years under threat of capture, even death, Trevor Grant trusts no one. Least of all the beautiful, statuesque woman who asks him to dance—then informs him she’s his contact.

Before he can figure out whether she’s legit or part of the shadowy militia who’s after him, shots ring out. And Jae’s piece-of-cake assignment turns into a bloody, life-or-death race against time to find out who has betrayed them—and a losing battle to resist their electric attraction.

Warnings: Contains a gun-wielding, ass-kicking FBI agent with a gift for eloquent profanity, and a psychiatrist with a secret recipe every military on earth would love to get their hands on. Readers are reminded that when in doubt—or danger—always use protection.
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-jaes-assignment-bernice-layton.html

Review: Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis (@KristalHollis)

 

Series: The Wahyas of Walker’s Run, #1
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Published: June 1, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 304

This book starts with our hero, Brice,  standing naked and wet on the back porch of his grandmother's cabin. He has just spent 3 days traveling as his wolf, including swimming up river, to sneak into his father's lands to see his ailing grandmother. He knows he is not welcome, due to a heinous mistake he made in his youth.  Instead of his grandmother, what he finds is a fierce young woman, who has no problems using his own bat, while wearing his high school jersey, to put him in his place.

Cassie grew up in poverty, with a mother who not only drank too much, but when the times got lean, would solicit male companions for monetary assistance. After her mother lost a struggle with cancer, there was nothing left but the bills. Cassie made it her mission to get her education and be independent and self sufficient, never wanting to be in the position to have to accept charity again. As the story unfolds, Brice is given new insights about the accident and the events surrounding it, while Cassie learns how to trust her heart.

There are two different bad guys in this book. One who is just pure mean evil, and the other who is a bad guy, but more in the vein of being selfish and short sighted than truly evil. Both cause problems for Brice, and by extension, for Cassie as well. It's hard to believe that the bulk of the book takes place over just one week. So much is going on, including some truths that are biter pills for Brice to swallow. The ending was interesting and I liked how things were resolved between Cassie and Brice.  This was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to the next in the series. I gave it 3 wolf sized stars.

The Herd Presents provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Who's been sleeping in the Alpha's bed?

Exiled from his pack by his father, Brice Walker has secretly come home to visit his ailing grandmother only to discover a human and very desirable female sleeping in his bed. Their attraction is instant. But his new bed buddy seems determined to resist his Southern charm and Alpha allure.

For Brice, fiercely independent Cassie not only represents a chance to build a new life in Walker's Run but is also his one true mate. Cassie's reluctance dissolves when a rogue shifter kidnaps her, and now she and Brice must work together to save his pack. But once she witnesses the savagery of wolfan justice, can Cassie accept Brice as man, beast and her true love?
    
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-awakened-by-wolf-kristal-hollis.html

Review: Skinny Dipping with Murder by Auralee Wallace (@AuraleeWallace)

 

Series: An Otter Lake Mystery, #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Published: March 1st 2016
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Length: 305 pages

I think all of us have some high school trauma that we just never get over. Whether it's a small embarrassing moment, or something on a grander scale, high school is the time when we are at our most awkward and our emotions are at their most volatile. It can leave a last impression. Ant that's just where this book has it's plot roots, in a teenage prank that left her the laughing-stock of the town.

Erica Bloom hasn't been back to Otter Lake since she left, nearly 8 years ago.  She's only home because her mother's Island Retreat, is having some serious issues, and Erica was needed at home.  But with the anniversary of the Raspberry Festival, the night of her most embarrassing moment, just days away, Erica would rather be anywhere else.  And when one of the three pranksters ends up dead, everyone can't help wonder if Erica has come back with revenge in mind.

There were many things to like about the book.  The secondary characters were a charming mix of wack-a-doodle and corny. Starting with Erica's mom, and the two elderly women who live on the island with them, Kit Katt and Tweety, to Erica's best friend Freddie.  Then there is Erica herself. She has tried so hard to reinvent herself, but it seems that nobody in her hometown wants to recognize those changes. In many ways, this is a book about going home and second chances, about seeing events through the eyes of an adult and realizing that maybe, things weren't as bad as you remember them. 

This is my first book by the author, though she was on my radar for another series she has, Sidekick in the City. Of course a superhero book is going to be on my radar. ;)

This was a light-hearted read, that didn't mind poking a bit of fun at itself. Erica and Freddie bumble along, putting no faith in the local police force, and trying to solve it themselves. Needless to say, hi-jinx ensued. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one, due out at the end of August. I gave this book 4 stars.

St. Martin's Press provided me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Welcome to Otter Lake, where the relaxing, restorative atmosphere is to die for.

Erica Bloom is in no rush to return to Otter Lake, the site of her mother's spiritual retreat for women. Erica met her inner goddess years ago and she's happy to have forged a new identity on her own, thank you very much. But her new-age-y, well-meaning mother is losing her grip on the business, and needs Erica's help. So she heads back to her New Hampshire hometown, where nothing much has changed-except for maybe the body in the well...

SKINNY DIPPING WITH MURDER
When Erica was a teenager, she fell prey to a practical joke that left her near-naked in Otter Lake's annual Raspberry Social. The incident was humiliating, but it wasn't like anyone got killed-until now. Those who were behind that long-ago prank are starting to turn up dead, and Erica's appearance in town makes her a prime suspect. To make matters worse, the town sheriff just happens to be Erica's old nemesis, Grady Forrester...who also happens to be hotter than ever. Can Erica find a way to dig up the truth-before someone digs her grave?

The first book in Auralee Wallace's Otter Lake Mystery series is a killer good time!
   http://goo.gl/cBmIv2 
Source: http://www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/07/review-skinny-dipping-with-murder-auralee-wallace.html