Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Do or Die

Do or Die
Suzanne Brockmann
Romantic Suspense
Reluctant Heroes/Book 1
Random House/February 4, 2014

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission... for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Or die trying.

First off, if you loved Brockmann's Troubleshooters series, this is a spin-off so you can expect more of the same fast paced action and a  hard bodied alpha male to take on the bad guys and win.  Do or Die is actually set in Florida and we meet up with some secondary characters from the Troubleshooters world.  

One thing Brockmann always brings to her stories are those smartass alpha heroes and Ian Dunn is certainly one of those.  He may have been a Navy SEAL but he is not into listening to authority anymore but instead prefers to do things his way.  Of course this causes numerous clash with his heroine Phoebe Kruger.  She's no pushover and Ian must learn to listen to Phoebe and respect her expertise in certain areas.  

Phoebe is a lawyer who is more than meets the eye.  She's smart and thinks quick on her feet which comes in handy when she gets caught up in Ian's world.  She isn't use to Ian's intense world of danger and intrigue.  Her world is filled with suits and courtrooms, not guns and surveillance vans.  While I thought Phoebe was an okay heroine, she didn't standout from previous Brockmann heroines.  

There is a lot going on in Do or Die, maybe a little too much.  The different story threads mixed in with the numerous characters became overwhelming at times.  The pace is fast, with some down time but that fast pace got in the way of realistically developing the potential for a long lasting relationship between Ian and Phoebe.  But by the end of the story, that's what we are suppose to believe.  there was attraction but too much going on and too many people involved to lend itself to deep romantic discovery between theses two, let alone love.

The plot itself is a bit familiar and Ian and Phoebe could be switched out for any number of Troubleshooter couples.  Still, there is a reason why that series was and is still so popular.  And for many readers familiar with Ms. Brockmann's novels, the gay rights theme is present in the form of two secondary characters.  I almost hesitate to call them secondary characters since their story seems to have nearly as much development as Ian and Phoebe romance.  While I understand how close this cause is to the author, it can be a little tedious to continually be reminded how horrible it can be to be gay in America when you are reading a romance novel.  

Rating: C

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: It Had to Be You

It Had to Be You
Jill Shalvis
Contemporary Romance
Lucky Harbor/Book 7
Grand Central Publishing/May 28, 2013

Ali Winters is not having a good day. Her boyfriend left her, everyone in town thinks she's a thief, and now she's about to be kicked out of her home. Her only shot at keeping a roof over her head and clearing her name is to beg for help from a police detective who's as sexy as he is stern.... 

After a high-profile case goes wrong, Luke Hanover returns to his hometown for some peace and quiet. Instead he finds a bombshell brunette in a heap of trouble. As he helps Ali put her world back together, the pieces of Luke's own life finally seem to fall into place. Is this the start of a sizzling fling? Or are Luke and Ali on the brink of something big in a little town called Lucky Harbor?

If you've ever spent time in Lucky Harbor, then you know what an eclectic bunch of people live there.  It's always fun to go back and catch up with familiar faces but this time those faces don't have as much of a role in the romance of Ali and Luke.  If you haven't read the previous books in the series, you should because it's a very good series.  But if you're short on time, It Had to Be You can be read as a standalone.

For Ali Winters, life hasn't always been easy but she continues to think and expect the best of people.  To give when asked and to enjoy helping others.  She has a tender heart which unfortunately, gets abused and stomped on by her ass of a boyfriend.  It's a good thing she has friends to be there for her.

There's no place like home...especially when you're running from mistakes and seeking refuge.  For Luke Hanover that means heading back to the house his grandmother left him and shutting out the world.  Instead, Luke's hormones are set on fire by the barely dressed woman he finds in his kitchen.  Loved the moment when Luke and Ali first meet.  It's funny, sexy and sets the tone for their future encounters.

Ali and Luke appear to be opposites, with Ali having such an optimistic outlook and Luke the cynical cop.  It turns out this couple has more than just physical attraction in common.  Ali and Luke's romance brings out the best in each other, making them both stronger for what they have endured.  If there was one issue it was with Ali.  She was too sweet, too forgiving.  I found it a little too much to swallow.

The town of Lucky Harbor still plays a major role, giving welcome to both new and former residents.  We get to meet more residents of this quaint town along with some potential future heroes and heroines.  No sequel baiting here, just a cast of interesting characters.

Rating: B

Lucky Harbor Series ~

Simply Irresistible 
The Sweetest Thing
Kissing Santa Claus novella in the anthology Small Town Christmas
Head Over Heels
Lucky in Love
At Last 
Forever and a Day
It Had to Be You

Thursday, June 5, 2014

ARC Review: Tease

Sophie Jordan
New Adult Contemporary
The Ivy Chronicles/Book 2
William Morrow/May 27, 2014

What happens when a girl who always calls the shots meets a guy who't too wild to even her? 

A born flirt and good-time party girl, Emerson has never had a problem finding a willing guy. She's always chosen her hookups carefully, and she's never broken her three cardinal rules: Never let them see the real you. Never fall in love. Always leave them begging for more.

Then Shaw comes along. A hottie from the wrong side of the tracks, he's immune to her flirtatious banter and come-hither smile. After rescuing her from a disastrous night at a biker bar, he doesn't even try to take her to bed--he calls her a tease and sends her home instead. Unable to resist a challenge, or forget the sexy, dark-eyed, bad-boy biker, she vows to bring him to his knees. 

But instead of making Shaw beg, Emerson finds herself craving him. For the first time in her life, she's throwing out her rule book. Suddenly, she's the one panting for a guy she can't control--a guy who won't settle for anything less than the real Emerson and who forces her to do things she's never imagined, including facing a past she thought she'd buried. A guy who just might leave her wanting more. . .

After reading Ms. Jordan's first book in the series, Foreplay, I was curious to find out about Emerson and how much of her party girl persona was real.  Turns out there is a lot more going on with Emerson than just flirting and hook-ups.  And that's what Shaw sees, the woman behind the mask Emerson wears.

Emerson - so much more to her than meets the eye.  I really enjoyed getting to know her more than the glimpse we got in the first book, Foreplay.  She has her reasons for being how she is and living her life the way she does.  It's why it is hard to relate the party girl Emerson to the serious Emerson.  Her family life is a wreck and really left me angry for her.  There were also times when I just wanted her to be mature and deal with her problems head on.  While I liked Emerson I also found her frustrating at times.

A man who knows what he wants is very sexy.  Shaw had the looks but he also had the determination to not only go after what he wanted, Emerson, but let her know how he feels about her.  Imagine!  A guy who isn't afraid to voice his feelings.  Granted, he doesn't get all touchy-feely, but he does make his feelings clear.  No playing games with this guy.  Too bad Emerson wasn't as open with her feelings.  It made for a rough road for Shaw and Emerson but the end result was so worth it.

Looking forward to the next book, Wild, due out this November.

Rating:  B

The Ivy Chronicles Series ~

Wild (November 18, 2014)