Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Below

Ryan Lockwood
Pinnacle/June 25, 2013

In all his years as a professional diver, Will Sturman has never encountered a killing machine more ferocious than the great white shark or as deadly as the piranha. Now, off the coast of California, something is rising from the deep--and multiplying. Voracious, unstoppable, and migrating north, an ungodly life form trailed by a gruesome wake of corpses. 

With the help of the brilliant and beautiful oceanographer Valerie Martell, Will finds himself in a race against time to stop the slaughter--by a predator capable of devastating the world's oceans.

Pray it kills you quickly.

A little diversity is good for the reading soul. That's why I decided to give Ryan Lockwood's Below a try.  It's a look into what lurks under the beautiful Pacific Ocean.  We all know that something as beautiful as the Pacific can also be very deadly.  Sharks are what usually come to mind when you think of something pulling you under the water and eating you alive.  Turns out, sharks are the least of our worries.

If you're looking for romance, look elsewhere.  While there's a little action between the sheets, it can easily be overlooked for the more important plot of what is devouring those foolish enough to swim in the ocean. Will Sturman, full-time diver and part-time drunk, teams up with Dr. Valerie Martell.  Martell is a research scientist who prefers spending her time below the water than above.  The main characters are developed with enough back story to give the reader insight into what drives them but the central focus is on the terror beneath the ocean.

The plot runs a pretty straight line.  I found myself predicting, with a high rate of accuracy, who would be the next meal for the "terror from below".  The story still proved to be entertaining and an escape from life's more mundane problems.  One thing I did like was the point of view of the "terror from below". I thought it gave the story a refreshing twist.

So not groundbreaking but a story with some action, suspense and a look at what lives Below.

Rating: C+

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Two of a Kind

Two of a Kind
Susan Mallery
Contemporary Romance
Fool's Gold/Book 11
Harlequin/June 25, 2013

Felicia Swift never dreamed she'd hear a deep, sexy voice from her past in tiny Fool's Gold, California. The last time Gideon Boylan whispered in her ear was half a world away...on the morning after the hottest night of her life. Her freaky smarts have limited her close friendships, and romance, but she came to Fool's Gold looking for ordinary. Gorgeous, brooding Gideon is anything but that.

Black Ops taught Gideon that love could be deadly. Now he pretends to fit in while keeping everyone at arm's length. Felicia wants more than he can give-a home, family, love-but she has a lot to learn about men...and Gideon needs to be the man to teach her.

As these two misfits discover that passion isn't the only thing they have in common, they just might figure out that two of a kind should never be split apart.

Welcome back to Fool's Gold where romance will find you whether you want it to or not.  It seems to be those who claim to not want a happily ever after are usually the people who need it most of all.  Such is the case for Gideon Boylan.

When Gideon Boylan moved to Fool's Gold he thought he could be a hermit, living alone and keeping mostly to himself with the occasional trip into town.   His friends, however, have other plans.  So they pull him out of his hermi-tude a little at a time.  When Gideon runs into Felicia, he's surprised and a little scared, not that he would admit it.  I liked Gideon's vulnerable side, how it reflected his past experiences which he also tried to hide.

Felicia Swift is a genuine genius.  She practically grew up on a college campus, raised by professors instead of parents.  Felicia hasn't let this stop her from wanting a more traditional life for herself, in fact it probably made her crave it that much more.  Felicia isn't easy to warm up to, she's full of facts and seems to have a hard time with emotions.  In a way, she's very childlike when it comes to relationships.  She says what she's thinking, not always realizing what the outcome might be.

Gideon and Felicia didn't come across as a good fit.  The attraction was strong but beyond that, it felt like they were basing their relationship on a one-night stand.  Gideon didn't want the same things out of life that Felicia did.  She wants to become part of the Fool's Gold community where Gideon wants very little contact with the population.  He would rather limit his contact to the air waves of the radio station he owns than participate in the various festivals the town is known for.

Fool's Gold is full of all types of people.  It's what makes it the type of place readers want to go back to again and again.  The problem that can occur with small town romances are those very people who make up the town.  They tend to encroach on the romance, taking time away from the hero and heroine that would be better spent showing the development of the relationship.

So not a bad romance but it simply didn't work on all levels for me.  It did however, leave me looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  So that's always a plus!

Rating: C+

Fool's Gold Series ~

Chasing Perfect
Almost Perfect
Sister of the Bride (novella in Summer Brides anthology)
Finding Perfect
Only Mine
Only Yours
Only His
Only Us (novella in Almost Summer anthology)
Summer Days
Summer Nights
All Summer Long
A Fool's Gold Christmas (novella)
Halfway There (novella)
Just One Kiss
Two of a Kind
Three Little Words
Christmas on 4th Street (novella)
When We Met (April 29, 2014)
Before We Kiss (May 27, 2014)
Until We Touch (June 24, 2014)
Yours For Christmas (September 30, 2014/novella)

Fool's Gold Cookbook: A Love Story Told Through 150 Recipes

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion
Contemporary Romance
Simon & Schuster/October 1, 2013 
(First published, April 1, 2013)

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

When applying science to relationships there's always a strong possibility of a completely unforeseen outcome.  These are the results Professor Don Tillman discovers.  Don is an extremely intelligent person.  He's what you would call book smart with his street smarts lagging woefully behind.  He doesn't know how to interaction with others and has a hard time relating to most people.

Rosie is a breath of fresh, new air in Don's life.  She breaks down his preconceptions of what traits he must have in a wife.  She is the catalyst that brings about Don's transformation and she does it all while simply being herself.  Rosie was a lot of fun, especially when interacting with Don.  It was funny to see his confusion with regards to Rosie.  He doesn't expect to enjoy spending time with her, they have absolutely nothing in common, or so he thinks.  Their relationship is written in a way that is perfectly believable as it develops into a romance.

Don is someone who can easily becoming that annoying person you try to avoid at all costs.  He's an odd duck but as the story progresses Don becomes more than the computer like genius he was in the beginning.  The changes may seem small, he still maintains his high intelligence, but those changes have a profound affect on his life.

The Rosie Project is an amusing look at one man's search for a mate.  It's a perfect example of the phrase "God laughs when you make plans".  Professor Don Tillman makes numerous plans but learns that some of the best things in life are the things you don't plan for.

Rating:  B+

Monday, November 4, 2013

ARC Review: Through the Evil Days

Through the Evil Days
Reverand Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne/Book 8
Minotar Books/November 5, 2013

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs...Currently he's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban's Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare's "unpriestly" pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties.

Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.

As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they've never encountered. In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents have come to love and cherish change forever.

This is a series you need to start at the beginning.  Not only because it is so well written but because the characters grow and change as the course of the series progresses.  You wouldn't be completely lost if you start with Through the Evil Days but you would lose that sense of knowing these characters and understanding of how they think.

While Clare and Russ have not had an easy romance by any stretch of the imagination, they are finally able to settle into married life, right after a delayed honeymoon.  The boundaries they set with their careers and their personal lives are very flexible so a honeymoon in a remote location should provide no interference from the outside world.  As much as Russ and Clare try to enjoy their honeymoon, they are both too committed to helping others.

Russ and Clare are not the only ones whose plans are not turning out the way they hoped.  Hadley Knox, single mom and California transplant, is dealing with temptation at work and her past coming back to haunt her.  Hadley is not a typical cop but more or less stumbled into the job out of necessity.  Kevin Flynn might not seem like a typical cop at first glance but he was meant to be a police officer.  Between them they actually make a good team.  I do like how their relationship is developing in both the professional and personal.

As life intrudes on Russ and Clare's honeymoon, so does mystery and danger.  The pace was fairly fast mixed in with some down time but overall, the main plot and subplots, kept moving towards the culmination of good versus evil.  There were a few instances of conflict between Russ and Clare that surprised me in that they came from a place I thought had already been resolved.  There were certainly some very big loose ends dangling by the end of the book.  I just hope we don't have to wait eighteen months for the next book.

Rating: B+

In the Bleak Midwinter
A Fountain Filled With Blood
Out of the Deep I Cry
To Darkness and to Death
All Mortal Flesh
I Shall Not Want
One Was a Soldier
Through the Evil Days