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With Leverage being renewed, I'm suddenly craving a good heist romance. Got any recs, please?
Oh we love a good heist...and we adore Leverage! So here’s some to try.
The Pirate & I by Katharine Ashe - M/F Romance, Open Door (Historical, Regency)
Confidence Tricks by Tamara Morgan - M/F Romance, Open Door (Contemporary, Romantic Comedy)
Never Mix Sin With Pleasure by Renee Ann Miller - M/F Romance, Open Door (Historical, Victorian) [in Pre-order]
Bow Street Bachelors series by Kate Bateman - M/F Romance, Open Door (Historical, Regency)
Book One / Book Two / Book Three
The Will Darling Adventures by KJ Charles - M/M Romance, Open Door (Historical, Queer)
Heiress for Hire by Madeline Hunter - M/F Romance, Open Door (Historical, Regency)
Faking It - Jennifer Cruisie - M/F Romance, Open Door (Contemporary, Romantic Comedy)
Zorak by Cyndi Friberg - M/F Romance, Open Door (Sci-Fi, Alien)
The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham - M/F Romance, Open Door (Historical, Regency)
Hunted by the Sky by Tanez Bhathena - M/F Romance, No Sex (YA, Paranormal)
A Pocket in Time by Lexi Post - M/F Romance, Open Door (Time Travel, Regency)
The Knight of Ambra by Lyn Brittan - M/F Romance, Open Door (Contemporary, Romantic Suspense)
The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by KJ Charles - M/M Romance, Unknown Heat Level (Regency, Queer)
Brazen Angel by Elizabeth Boyle - M/F Romance, Open Door (Historical)
The Financier by Liz Maverick - M/F Romance, Open Door (Contemporary, Romantic Suspense)
*These suggestions are not endorsements. Please read the description and the reviews to decide whether you want to read the books!
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Yes yes yes I do like you. I am afraid to write the stronger word.
— Virginia Woolf, The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Volume 3
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Recent graduate from the University of Michigan, Megan O'Malley journalism major from Ypsilanti, Michigan feels stuck in a rut. There aren't many opportunities for her in her home state and her best friend has already pulled up roots and set up shop in the Big Apple as a fact checker for the New York Post -- hey they do exist! Her BFF even offers to let Megan live with her and sets up an interview with her boss at the post. It's just the break Megan's been waiting for. Sure it's reporting on celeb gossip, but it's reporting. And the job allows her to rub elbows with the rich and famous... including one hedge fund wunderkind, Rex. Like a fairytale, they fall in love... get married. And his upper east side friends/neighbors/associates take Megan under their wing to introduce her to the glitterati world. Only things aren't exactly what they seem.
Warning this book contains the following triggers: racism, sexism, misogyny, classism, xenophobia, infidelity, pregnancy, character death, and homophobia. There may be more that I missed. But make sure you're in a good place before reading this book.
Also spoilers. Lots of spoilers.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. I'm a sucker for class-difference romances and I was willing to give a male author writing romance a shot.It was a mistake. I was very unimpressed and at times very angry with this book. There was a lot wrong with this book. A lot.
First off, the book is riddled with grammatical errors and editing errors. So many. In one paragraph alone I counted a bunch different tense errors. The paragraph only had three sentences.
Since this was an ARC, I double-checked the final product... and yep, those errors (including the wrong word) remained in that paragraph. The above image is taken from the “read more” on Amazon that was accurate as of the writing of this review.
There were also several other errors. This alone loses a star. But the book also suffered from a ton of headhops, pacing issues, and stilted transitions. The book felt juvenile... like it was written by an author who isn't familiar with fiction writing. Even the characters felt like pastiches. Stereotypes. And I'm not here for that. Plus a good chunk of the descriptions read like “Men Writing Women” which... um...
This came out a lot in the book to the point where I started getting annoyed and then angry.
Look, I'm from Michigan and my BFF lives on the upper east side by Central Park... so I'm definitely familiar with both of the worlds portrayed in this book. That said, I'm not sure the author is. Oh, I think the author absolutely knows about the publishing and NYC Upper East Side wealthy elite. But I am fairly certain that the author is less familiar with Michigan. Pro-tip: We do know what kimchee is. They even sell it at Meijer, Kroger, and the various Spartan Stores. Oh... and Ann Arbor... where the main character went to school, has a literal metric butt-ton of Asian restaurants. Not to mention a large Asian population and several Asian supermarkets. Also Ypsilanti is a bigger town than you might think... mostly because Eastern Michigan University is located there as are several large medical complexes. Oh and Ypsilanti is not a suburb of Detroit and the people living there would resent the fuck out of that statement. It’d be like calling Annapolis a suburb of DC. It’s like the picked a state at random and then tried to make it work. And it didn’t.
Here's a second spoiler alert... I'm going to start talking about events later in the book that lessened my enjoyment of the book.
The stereotypes continued when it came to the characters. Essentially no one in NYC was likable. No one. Including several of the POV characters. Which I understand why... the ending is supposed to be a giant F-U to the classist elites... except for the ending is not telegraphed well nor is it wholly satisfying. A person who is arguably one of the most horrible humans survives without a scratch because the heroine just lets her go? Including letting her keep her illegal ferret... which talk about Karma Houdini.
But for me, the biggest issue I had with this book is that it bills itself as a romantic comedy and well it isn't either. It's not a romance. The supposed main love interest is a cheating, womanizer who not only dies leaving the heroine a suspect in his death but also utterly penniless since he was not just cheating on his wife but his investors as well... oh and he was being investigated by the Justice Department and the SEC.
There is a second love interest, but the guy is frankly boring as toast and I'm struggling even now to think of anything memorable about him. Even the culminating sex scene from the book is lackluster. Like it's a paragraph long and utterly crap. I have read sex written by lesbian virgins that was better written than what appeared in this book. And it’s not a comedy, since the laughs are mostly non-existent.
Frankly, I get that this book is supposed to be satire/parody... but it misses the mark. I can't figure out what the message is actually supposed to be if it's a satire (a story that attacks with the intent of reform) or what it's actually parodying. If anything, it feels like the subject of parody is the billionaire romance and romantic comedy genres themselves. Which if that's the case is a whole other box of crayons.
This book didn't land for me. It was poorly written and poorly executed. I definitely can't recommend it as something people should read if they're fans of romance.
You can get this book here -- or just go look at the “read more” to see the problems.
If you like honest reviews like this, consider getting us a coffee.
I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley
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aI haven’t read Whiteout, the first book in this series, but I think it’s actually pretty easy to pick up what’s going on. Leo Eddowes is a hotshot pilot and part of a crew doing their best to keep a deadly virus out of the hands of Chronos Corp, a giant biotech company who will stop at literally nothing to possess it. Leo and her crew have tracked the last known sample, and the man who had it, to an extremely remote Alaskan village. Now Leo’s on her own (and sick with a stomach bug) when Chronos’ murderous mercenaries arrive, and has to bail out in an ancient plane, sent on a mission by Old Amka to rescue someone who turns out not to be the man she’s after at all. Instead, he’s Elias Thorne… domestic terrorist… who's supposed to be a dead man.
Now Leo and Elias are on the run through the brutal Alaskan wilderness together, hunted, injured, forced to rely on each other. And in a whole separate adventure, Amka decides she’s not letting these mercs take over her village and hold her people hostage, and sets out to do something about it.
Whew. This is an absolute adrenaline rush thrill-ride of an adventure romance. It’s quite clear the author kept looking at her story and going “hm… how can I make it worse for my characters?” The Alaskan wilderness at ice break-up time provides plenty of options. Honestly, though, I’m not sure even two people who were as desperately attracted to each other as Leo and Elias would be able to act on it as much as they did in those situations. Hypothermia tends to preclude arousal, and frankly they were both smart enough to understand they needed to conserve their energy, but it didn’t seem to occur to either of them. Romantic license, I guess!
Honestly, Amka was my favourite character in the story. Badass old lady lesbian willing and able to take out an entire team of heavily armed, well-equipped mercenaries? That’s catnip, right there. Frankly I thought she should have been asked to join Leo’s team.
I liked that the villains weren’t all one-dimensional too, with Amka recruiting one of the mercenaries having second thoughts once he realized his colleagues were quite happy to hold women and children hostage, threaten and harm them, and an intriguing tracker on Leo and Elias’ trail whose motives weren’t at all clear.
Superbly well-written, with so much action it’ll leave you breathless, I’m happy to give this five stars.
Uncharted is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
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What would you like to write about aside from fanfiction?
I've always loved romance and suspense novels, so I would love to try my hand at romantic suspense original story. My worry is no one would read something original from me. 😂
Love and thanks! 💖💖💖
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2020 reads #178: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
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EEEEE! The Reluctant Bride is out!
I actually got this thing published! FINALLY! Thank you to everyone who’s supported this story, commented, helped me shape it and change some stupid things into smarter things. Just like my first book on Kindle, I Love The Way You Lie, the proceeds from this book will go to the two crisis nurseries in our city. These incredible places exist to serve parents who are at the end of their rope and they need help. The crisis nurseries take in children - infant to twelve - and lovingly care for them for up to five days while their parents are set up with services to help them. I’ve seen parents come in with such defeat and grief on their faces. But- BUT, when they return, there’s hope and faith that they can be the parents their sweet kiddos deserve. So thank you in advance for your support.
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KINDLE VELLA IS NOW LIVE
Here's some links to stories I have up -the first three episodes of any series are free! (There's also an app for iOS -but not Android yet)
TRUE MAGIC: VOLUME ONE (A Fantasy/Paranormal Series)
True Montgomery is a witch with no power of her own, which makes it unlikely she'll ever be a magical field agent for the Department of the Ethereal. Alexander Guerrero is an ordinary man who discovers he has extraordinary powers, that with no control, make him a danger to himself and others. Is the obvious solution really the answer to their problems? Or is their partnership doomed to fail before it even starts? *NEW EPISODES ON FRIDAYS*
GENTLING A FILLY (A Steamy Short Romance)
After their friends' wedding, Jake Sheridan and Filomena Kontos wake up in a compromising position, but are both secretly disappointed nothing actually happened. Can they keep their desires to themselves or are they willing to take a risk? Who says The Morning After is not the fun part? *ALL EPISODES AVAILABLE NOW*
KEELEY'S KEY (A Romantic Suspense)
When Keeley Sloan finds herself being pursued by mercenaries for a computer code she created, she has no one to turn to except her best friend's old army buddy. Joe Manetti owes his fellow Army Ranger his life, several times over, so the least he can do is show up when the woman his buddy considers like a little sister calls for help. It's probably just caffeine-induced computer nerd paranoia, right? Or is he completely wrong? And neither of their lives will ever be the same... *NEW EPISODES ON THURSDAYS*
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Top Ten Tuesday: Silence (in the title) is Golden
Silence is golden for these book titles! Check out my list for #toptentuesday & see which ones you've read!
Happy Tuesday! Today’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is about secondary characters we wish would get more attention but I’ve talked about that at least one other time so I decided to do a different topic. A few weeks ago, I noticed by accident how many titles in my goodreads list have silence in the title, so I thought it would be fun to feature them here!
affiliate links used
When Silence Sings by…
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𝐔𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐥 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐃𝐨 𝐔𝐬 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐭. || k.th
─▸🖤 ❝ @[@𝐛𝐮𝐠𝐬𝐛𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐲𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠.. ]
✎𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠: 𝐭𝐚𝐞𝐡𝐲𝐮𝐧 𝐱 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧!𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥
✎ 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: 𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐥, 𝐬𝐮𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞
✎ 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭; 4k
𝐬𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬; 𝐈𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐢𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬.
𝐖𝐀𝐑𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐒; 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐩𝐡𝐢𝐜 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐠𝐞, 𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐯𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞
“daddy! can you read us a bedtime story?”.
“yes daddy pretty pretty pleease with a cherry on top?”.
both of the girls jeered while slipping into their pink princess themed beds. taehyun always admired how cute his daughters were. they were twins so of course they had the same face. their father’s eyes, small bottom nose, pudgy little lips and sugar brown skin. even their hair was the same, big bushy and curly spiraling down their mid back. their identical features often gave their friends and teachers a hard time but it was something they all thought was pretty funny.
“it’s almost 11pm. way passed your bedtime. if you guys go to bed earlier tomorrow night daddy will read you a bedtime story okay?”. taehyun promises, squatting down to each of their bed frames to plant a soft kiss on the both of their foreheads.
taylor huffs her breath and rolls her eyes. taehyun always found her spurts to be amusing. only because she inherited the same attitude as her father.
“why can’t you read it now? we’ve been good!”.
“taylor? do you not remember when daddy told you both to clean your mess in the kitchen and you both walked away?”. taehyun responds. she crosses her arms.
“the maid can clean it”.
“taylor mommy says even though we have a maid we’re still responsible for our own mess making”. taelyn mutters softly. she of course inherited her mother’s traits. very independent and has a mind of her own.
“exactly. thank you taelyn”.
taylor huffs her breath again and crosses her arms. taehyun chuckles.
“I love you both. alright? tomorrow I promise. get some rest”. he strolls to the light switch and waits for them to turn over and clutch their unicorn plushies like they always did. and once that happened he switched off their light and closed the door softly.
he walks down the dark upstairs hallways towards his bedroom. well not totally dark. the room just before his bedroom was dimly lit. it was the surrogate’s room. by request from his wife she wanted the surrogate to stay with them so they could take good care of her during the pregnancy. and even though she was sound asleep when taehyun walked passed her open room door he felt disturbed.
she always gave him a weird aura. he tried to brush it off for the sake of his wife but it was a gut feeling he couldn’t deny anymore. he enters his bedroom to see his wife turned over in bed reading some book she’d been trying to finish this past week. taehyun thought she always looked so cute and nerdy when it was time to go to bed. she always put her curly afro in a top puff and she wore reading glasses to help her see better. he enjoyed this look more than any expensive makeup or outfits she wore daily. yeah he knew she looked good in both. but this was his favorite.
he takes off his slippers and slides in bed beside her and bends his arm, laying his head on his hand. he reaches his other arm over and pulls her closer to him.
“sweetheart? can we talk about something?”.
“hm? what is it baby?”. she asks with her eyes still skimming over the book.
taehyun sighs. “you sure about this?”.
“sure about what tyunnie?”.
“like, the surrogate stuff”.
she closes her book and turns her head towards him, their faces now only centimeters apart. he peers down at her with serious eyes.
“why wouldn’t I be sure about it? what other choice do we have? I can’t have kids anymore and I’m sorry about that”.
he intertwines his fingers with hers. “no you don’t have to apologize about that. I love you and I’m grateful for the beautiful twins you gave me. it’s just--the surrogate she gives me this bad feeling melanie. I don’t know what it is but something is off about her”.
“bad feeling like what? I think she’s fine. she’s beautiful, sweet, and most importantly she’s black so I feel like I have a connection with her and I can trust her more”.
“I know baby but you don’t ever get a bad vibe around her? at least sometimes? I even walked passed her room just now and felt disturbed”.
melanie immediately starts chuckling, ghosting her lips over taehyun’s. “aww? my little tyunnie can’t handle anyone else in this house being pregnant but me?”.
taehyun being the sucker for his wife as always couldn’t help but smile back at her even if that wasn’t the case. she was just so pretty and he admired her beauty in every aspect he could.
“that’s not even it”. he tries to defend himself, but was interrupted by her cooing and constant pecks on his lips. once she was finished she cupped his cheek with her hand and let her thumb brush over his lips.
“i’ll talk to her tomorrow okay? like a heart to heart talk to get to know her a bit more. maybe we’ll go out for coffee. i’m sure she’s just a normal woman seeking to help out a family iike ours. that’s what she said in the interview at least”.
“we can’t always trust interview answers”.
she laughs and playfully hit him on his shoulder. she turns over and continues reading her book. “get some sleep baby okay? she’s fine. we’ll be fine”.
and the sincerity in her tone was enough to make taehyun believe her. well at least believe her enough for him to get some sleep. but it definitely wasn’t enough for when he woke up in the middle of the night. all he could hear was glasses clinking downstairs. he knew the maid was always sent home earlier in the day so that couldn’t be her. he looked beside him to see melanie sleeping soundly.
“sweetheart”. taehyun whispered hoping it was enough to wake her up. he even taps her a little. but she was a heavy sleeper and there was no way she was getting up especially at this time of night. figuring he’d have to figure it out on his own he grabs his robe and slips into his slippers.
he walks down the hallway to the girl’s room and opens the door. they were sleeping too. and the last time he checked, the surrogate’s room door was closed. he couldn’t tell if there was an intruder or what, but tyun make sure he grabbed something to hit them with just in case.
he clutches the metal baseball bat while going down the stairs. his heart pumped as he heard the glass clinking getting louder and louder. he noticed the living room was dimly lit. he made his way there letting the darkness of the hallway swallow him whole until he reached his destination. he stopped in his tracks at the sight.
the surrogate, peyton. sitting on the couch in lingerie with nothing but candles decorating the coffee table. she glares up and smirks when she’s sees taehyun. she cross her legs and drinks the wine she was pouring into her wine glass.
“oh hey. I was expecting you”. she slowly rubbed the small pudge in her belly reminding tyun that she was 4 months pregnant with him and melanie’s first baby boy. his heart sank.
he knew he was right about her.
“what the hell are you doing?”. he harshly whispered, his angry face shown brightly above the candlelight. she puckers her bottom lip. “oh? did I make taehyun angry?”. she smirks. she sits the glass down, sashaying her way over to him seductively. she ropes her arms around his neck and taehyun swore if she wasn’t a woman he’d hit her upside the head with the bat by now.
“I don’t mean to make you angry. I don’t want to stress you at all since you’re the father of our child”.
he pushes her away from him with fire in his eyes. “that’s not our baby. that’s me and melanie’s son you’re carrying. and if you ever cause yourself wearing my wife’s clothes and trying to seduce me again so help me god--”.
“what? what the fuck are you going to do taehyun? you can’t do anything I’m pregnant”. she licks her lips. “and soon we’ll have this big house to ourselves. all of this money to ourselves. and I’ll finally have a husband of my own”.
taehyun reaches his hand over and clutches the flap of her robe tightly with a clenched jaw. the rage in him overpowered any other emotion he held.
“if you touch my wife and kids words can’t explain the shit i’ll do to you”.
she grins and clutches the pocket knife she kept. she circles the tip of it along taehyun’s neck gently. “you won’t do anything because your stupid ass wife loves me. but soon she’ll be gone. and those little girls you have? will be nothing but ashes. what you don’t understand is that when I want something I get it, kang taehyun. and i want you. and there isn’t anything you can do about it”.
taehyun clenches his jaw once more at the thought of it all.
“I will kill you”.
she backs up from him, giving him a small hmph before cleaning up the mess she made. she places the wine glasses in the sink. she grabs the candles and blew them out, tossing them into the trash one by one.
she then walks back towards taehyun and grabs the bat, hitting herself in the face with it. her cries of agony was loud enough to wake up the whole house.
in nothing but anger taehyun grabs her like before. “what the fuck is wrong with you?!”.
“help! help me please!”. she shrieked and she got just what she wanted. melanie rushing downstairs toward the living room trying to figure out what the hell was going on. all she saw was taehyun clutching her clothes with a tight grip and peyton looking absolutely helpless.
“tyun? peyton? what the hell is going on down here?”.
peyton starts shaking for good measure, touching the growing bruise on her face. “he h-hit me”.
“he did what?!”. melanie yelled.
“baby I did not lay a finger on her she’s a liar!”.
“why is her faced bruised up then tyun? and why the fuck are you gripping her like that?! she’s a woman and on top of that she’s pregnant! have you lost your damn mind?! I can’t believe you’d even do something like this”. melanie rushes to peyton’s aid, touching her face and her belly making sure everything was still okay.
“you alright girl? what happened?”.
“h-he doesn’t want me to have your baby. he doesn’t like me. I came down here to get something to eat and he just let his anger out on me i don’t know why”.
“that doesn’t even fucking make sense! melanie why would you believe her and not your own husband?”. taehyun defends. melanie waves him off.
“just go upstairs I don’t even want to talk to your ass right now. I’ll deal with you later”.
and taehyun swore, he swore once he finally got to walking away he saw the smirk flickering at peyton’s lips.
he didn’t want a baby anymore.
he wanted to kill her.
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If he loved you with all the power of his soul for a whole lifetime, he couldn’t love you as much as I do in a single day.
— Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
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The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz
Fogg Lake 1
Fifteen years after witnessing a murder in the caves of Fogg Lake, Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClaire live in Seattle, working as investigators. When Olivia disappears, Catalina finds a witness who saw her kidnapped and possibly drugged.
Slater Arganbright of the Foundation had come to ask Catalina for help investigation the deaths of two men who collected paranormal artifacts. He's convinced that Olivia's kidnapping is related not only to the deaths, but to that earlier murder in Fogg Lake. Slater had been exposed to radiation in his previous case, causing uncontrollable hallucinations for some time. This attack appears to be changing his abilities, but he doesn't know to what.
This is my second attempt at reading this book. Unfortunately last time I was in a severe reading slump, not even able to read some of my favorite fanfiction. This time I tumbled willingly and eagerly into this paranormal mystery with romantic overtones.
The Foundation has appeared in other of the author's paranormal focused books, as well as a few of the characters that were in her Amanda Quick historical romances. I cannot imagine what Krentz's notes and timelines must look like!
There are threads woven throughout this first installment of a new trilogy. Some are delicate and easily broken. A few are a tangled mess that will require serious hacking to remove. Then there is the core that remains and will need a combination of luck and experience to destroy.
I'm looking forward to diving into the second book, ALL THE COLORS OF NIGHT, just picked up from my local library. One minor quibble. Why, when Marge mentioned meeting a Foundation member who was locked away in the same psychiatric hospital that she was, didn't Slater ask for more information, such as the man's name? Or at the very least pass the information along to his uncle who now runs the Foundation for further investigation? That bothered me almost from the moment that I read it. That said, this was a perfect and fun read. I'm so glad that I went back to try again. 5 out of 5
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Review: The Four Series by Sloane Kennedy
Review: The Four Series by Sloane Kennedy
This review includes the books currently available in The Four series:
Forgotten: Luca (#1)Foreseen: Lex (#2)Forgiven: Con (#3)
Forgotten: Luca (Book 1)
This book can be read as a stand-alone story, but it works best in the context of two previous novels by Kennedy: Atonement (Protectors #6) and Unbroken (Protectors #12). Thematically, this story fits very well within that series, but I like…
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Mine to Guard by Kennedy L. Mitchell - A Review
Mine to Guard is the story of Texas Ranger Alec Bronson who will save Rae Chapin from the horrible monster that stalks her.
Welcome to my review of Mine to Guard, an intense romantic thriller!
My Rating: 5/5Genre: Romantic SuspensePages: 283 (Kindle)Publisher: Kindle Direct PublishingDate of Publication: 19 April 2021
Series: Protection #3
Trigger Warning: Serial Killer, Violence, Abuse,…
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As the first in a new series, there’s a bit of a problem here in that you apparently have to have read TWO other series by the author to understand the backstory of the heroine, Claire, who was rescued at 18 from some sort of elite German boarding school in the business of producing spy-assassins along with her best friend Jax. That was six years ago; Cooper Lockman at the time was in his mid-twenties and knew he had no business being attracted to Claire. Accepting an assignment in Europe, he left, but couldn’t put her out of his mind.
Now Cooper is back and he and Claire (and Jax) are going undercover in high school, trying to find out the who, how and why of several girls who have disappeared and later found to have been sex trafficked. Claire’s in as a student, Cooper a substitute teacher, so it’s crucial they keep any feelings they might be developing for each other strictly on the back burner. Which is, because this is a romance after all, pretty much impossible.
I absolutely loved Claire as a heroine; she kicks ass and takes no prisoners, including calling Cooper out when he starts being a fool. To his credit, he never tries to wrap her in cotton wool, a pet hate of mine in romantic suspenses; he trusts her to use her skills appropriately to get her part of the job done.
What I didn’t get here was all that much of a read on Cooper. Maybe his backstory is in other books by this author, but we are told almost nothing about him here. Barely a hint of what he’s been doing in Europe for six years, even less about who he was before that and where he came from, and as a hero therefore he was unfortunately something of a cipher, and I found it hard to understand why Claire fell for him. I’m not a big fan of the ‘older guy waiting for the heroine to grow up to make his move’ plotline anyway as it has some icky undertones for me, and not really getting to know Cooper as a person made that worse.
The plot is intriguing - and tragic, with the author having done plenty of research underpinning her work, the confronting reality that young women are trafficked out of American high schools every day something that’s not shied away from. Overall this is a good read, but I do believe first-in-series books should not require you to have read other entire series to understand backstory, and Cooper’s lack of characterisation means I was never going to give this five stars anyway. Four stars, because Catherine Bybee knows how to tell a good suspense, but I needed better backstory for Cooper in particular.
Changing the Rules is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
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