Archives

Hemi by Anna Hackett

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Reviews/ Speculative Fiction/ Syfy/ Syfy Romance/ Urban Fantasy 7th June 2017
Hemi by Anna HackettHemi by Anna Hackett
Series: Hell Squad #13
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Anna Hackett on May 30th 2017
Pages: 115
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

In the middle of an alien invasion, a big, tough, tattooed former mercenary is finally going to chase down his woman.

Camryn McNab knows love is a lie. Okay, maybe not for everybody--her fellow soldiers on Squad Nine have managed to fall in love in the middle of a vicious alien attack. But it's not for her. She comes from two people incapable of love. For now, her life is about survival, fighting to protect others, and kicking some alien raptor butt. What she doesn't need is a certain wild, bearded, tattoo-covered soldier always underfoot, messing with her things, and driving her crazy. But no matter how hard she tries to outrun Hemi Rahia, she can't seem to shake him, and a terrified part of doesn't even want to...

A member of the Squad Three berserkers, Hemi knows his squad has a reputation for not following the rules and being a little wild. Former bikers, mercenaries, and...other less savory things, they fight hard and party harder. But Hemi has known for a while now that there is only one woman for him. One courageous, sexy, attitude-filled woman he wants to claim as his own. But he has to catch her first.

Tasked with a top-secret mission deep in alien creeper territory, Hemi and Cam will fight side-by-side to achieve their dangerous goal. Their chemistry is off the charts, but persistent Hemi wants more than Cam's body...he wants her heart and soul as well. As their battle with the aliens turns deadly, they will have to fight not only for their love, but for their very survival.

‘Hemi’ officially ushers in the Berserker squad and I’m glad we’ve come a way with this particular group of wild and rough-riding people. When they first appeared, they seemed to be a bunch of hairy things closer to grunting apes than humans who rode souped-up motorcycles that were used as mini-weapon-launching platforms to combat the aliens; which is sort of cool, but probably not quite the swashbuckling type of heroes I could envision. But Anna Hackett’s development of the squad is quite remarkable and I’ve come, over time, to see them fleshed out as individuals with even rougher and questionable pasts that are erased when the alien apocalypse happens.

Hemi Rahia’s and Camryn McNab’s story has been building for a while and make no mistake, that tension there beneath the pranks finally comes to fruition here. For every couple that Hackett focuses on, there is also a new, vile alien development that is specific to their getting together and it’s no different here. Hemi’s determination to win over Cam is as strong as her need to run away from him and this push-pull finally gives when forces bigger than them (read: disgusting alien parts that act as incubators) eventually show that couple disputes are more petty in the light of the fact that dying can happen any time. In the spirit of carpe diem, the action and the way the characters throw themselves into the fray, is fun with many shades of wild, rodeo-riding antics and good partying times.

As much as I enjoyed how fast-paced the action is, I thought that there’s also a bit more focus on Hemi/Cam’s personal drama here with several repetitive—and perhaps sweeping—lines about how men and women pretty much were into casual sex as a sign of the times, up until the point where they find the one they’re ‘meant’ for. While I did like Hemi/Cam and every little alien discovery the teams make, I think I would also have liked to see more of the big-picture, or at least some reference to a larger story arc that would show how war with the aliens is progressing and if there is an end (or some kind of HEA wrap-up for all involved), no matter how distant, in sight.

three-stars

Theron by Anna Hackett

Posted in Action/Adventure/ Advanced Reader Copy/ Reviews/ Speculative Fiction/ Syfy/ Syfy Romance/ Urban Fantasy 5th May 2017
Theron by Anna HackettTheron by Anna Hackett
Series: Hell Squad #12
Published by Anna Hackett on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 130
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Squad mates, best friends, and fighting to survive in the middle of an alien invasion. Can she make one stubborn alpha male soldier see her as something else?

Sienna Rossi has always been a mix of contradictions. She loves ice cream, likes cooking, and is skilled at taking down aliens with her squad. Sweet and tough, soldier and woman, most people can't seem to make sense of her...even the loving family she lost in the invasion and especially men. One man accepts her as she is, her best friend Theron. But the big, silent, muscled soldier has her firmly in the 'friends' zone...except that Sienna knows he wants her, and she's determined to claim the stubborn man as hers.

Theron Wade lives to fight aliens. They killed his parents, his foster siblings, and his fellow Rangers. Now he has a new team--the tough, mostly-female Squad Nine. But one certain female haunts his dreams and stars in his darkest fantasies. Sienna is his sunshine in the darkness. He wants to her to be happy...and he knows that would never be with a man like him. A man with darker, rougher tastes that would shock her.

As Squad Nine works to track and destroy a dangerous alien device, best friends collide. Theron introduces Sienna to a world of rough, edgy passion that she craves. But as a mission goes off track, the two of them will risk everything for love, for their lives, and to save the world.

I discovered Anna Hackett’s Hell Squad some time ago, then kept coming back to her books because the series became like an addictive, ongoing drama-serial as the last of the human survivors (that we know of anyway) fight to survive the alien apocalypse. Throw in strong women who know their way around the men and I’m sold.

There are some books which I clearly like more than others, but there’s no denying that the series is quite like a drug and I always miss it every time there’s a longer-than-usual break between books.

In every book, there’s always a new development in the ongoing fight against the aliens and ‘Theron’ is no different. There’s heaps of action just as there is unfulfilled sexual tension pulled as taut as a string between Theron and Sienna—and a boatload of kinky sex and hot filthy talk when it finally disintegrates. Silent, strong and with a penchant for rough sex with a little kink (though not quite BDSM) and as the other guy in the all-female squad 9 and a burly rose among the thorny women, Theron only wants a different kind of woman who can satisfy his tastes in the bedroom even though there’s only one woman he wants. It only takes a tussle with the aliens, some near-death experiences and a little creative thinking from Sienna to change his mind. For that, I thought Sienna is a good match for him, eager to play to his darker side and strong enough to push for what she really wants despite his insistence that he’s no good for her.

The bottom-line is, ’Theron’ does have an erotica factor in it but I was an eager reader, having suspected already in Hackett’s previous novella what to expect. I did wish I could have seen more sides to Theron’s and Sienna’s personalities though—apart from the fact that they’re both good soldiers and are adventurous both in and out of bed—and gotten to know them better, but the brevity of the novella makes no allowance for that. What we have instead, is a full introduction to the intriguing Berserker, motorcycle-riding squad whose books will be next. What else can I say but bring them on?

four-stars

Champion by Anna Hackett

Posted in Action/Adventure/ Fantasy/ Reviews/ Speculative Fiction/ Syfy/ Syfy Romance 30th March 2017
Champion by Anna HackettChampion by Anna Hackett
Series: Galactic Gladiators #5
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Anna Hackett Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Space marine Blaine Strong enjoyed being a composed, controlled member of space station security…until he was abducted by alien slavers. Forced into underground fight rings and pumped full of drugs, he’s now seething with anger and out for revenge.

Rescued by gladiators and fellow humans on the desert world of Carthago, Blaine is fighting to be the man he once was. But when the House of Galen is attacked, he must focus on joining the gladiators to fight back. That means teaming up with a tough, competitive female gladiator who not only challenges him at every turn, awakens a fierce desire he’s never felt before, but a woman who can sense the churning emotions inside him.

Gladiator Saff Essikani is the best net fighter in the Kor Magna Arena. Raised from young to fight, she bows to no man and uses her empathic abilities to win at whatever cost. With her House targeted and people under their care threatened, she’ll stop at nothing to find those responsible. But then she finds herself face to face with a big, tortured man from Earth who affects her like no man before. As Saff and Blaine head into the desert to uncover a conspiracy, their incendiary desire flares hotter than the desert suns. But as Blaine’s angry emotions rage out of control, Saff knows that unless he learns to embrace the man he is now, he has no chance of survival.

There are many Anna Hackett books that are probably scored permanently in my memory, and I’m beyond happy to say that ‘Champion’ will number as one of them.

I’ve been somewhat on the fence with the Galactic Gladiator series but Blaine/Saff’s story is one that I truly liked and could get into without difficulty. It’s the sense of true equality that I got between the both of them – physically, emotionally, with similar spirits of determination, loyalty and courage – which I thought made this story so enjoyable, along with that chemistry that Hackett has written into this unlikely pairing. Throw in the desert landscape, the thrills and spills and the action and ‘Champion’ is a fantastic read that brings a mish-mash of classic but epic movies into play.

Now that we’re waist-deep into this strange, gladiator world, I’m starting to appreciate the sheer scope of Hackett’s world-building again – this woman’s got a heck of an imagination and enough gumption to bring it to life – and am actually quite amazed at how it’s expanding in a manner that’s making me want to know how the future books are going to go.

Still, I had an altogether satisfying experience, enhanced of course, as always, by the anticipation of the next book and pairing written into the end of this story.

four-stars

Warrior by Anna Hackett

Posted in Reviews 9th November 2016
Warrior by Anna HackettWarrior by Anna Hackett
Series: Galactic Gladiators #2
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Anna Hackett on November 6th 2016
Pages: 125
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

It was supposed to be an exciting job on a space station, but instead, scientist Dr. Regan Forrest finds herself fighting for her life when she’s kidnapped by alien slavers. Far from Earth and forced into a violent gladiatorial arena on the outer rim, she finds herself swept into the brawny arms of a big, wild alien gladiator.

Weapon, brute, gladiator, warrior… Sirrush warrior Thorin has been called many things. As a warrior of his people, he was a dark, dangerous weapon until even his own family were too afraid of him. Sold into slavery in the Kor Magna Arena, he has long ago earned his freedom. Now he enjoys the violent but rewarding life he’s carved out for himself. Until he rescues one small, smart, and perplexing female from alien slavers.

Regan is determined to make a place for herself in her new home. She may not have the skills to fight in the arena, but she’s smart and knows she can help...even as she fights her attraction to the big, bold, and fascinating Thorin. She knows he’ll never be interested in her. But when Regan catches a glimpse of her cousin across a crowded market, she needs help to mount a rescue, and it comes in the form of the gladiator she desperately wants. A gladiator hiding a dark, uncontrollable secret with the power to destroy them both.

Anna Hackett’s imagination knows no bounds, and for that I’ll always keep reading what she churns out with loads of awe and fangirling. I’ll be the first to admit though, that I’m still on the fence with this series where ancient Rome’s bloodiest gladiators meet Star Wars and Bladerunner combined (even if the intertextual references give me the biggest shivers).

Originality aside, there are also clichés upon clichés, the glaring one being the instant lust which converts into love too easily, and the oversexed (who always need fawning women it seems), overly macho and neanderthal gladiators who suddenly fall over themselves over Earth women who are way smaller and barely fit their hulking sizes. I ended up cringing, especially when the logistics of positions and viability came up and found myself wondering how that actually worked instead of getting my own knickers wet.

Every story is as always, a tantalising hint of a series that can go on and on; that big is the world-building of every Hackett book. I just need some time to get past these mad male characters – if it ever happens.

three-stars

Uncharted by Anna Hackett

Posted in Action/Adventure/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense/ Speculative Fiction/ Urban Fantasy 7th June 2016
Uncharted by Anna HackettUncharted by Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #2
Published by Anna Hackett on June 5th 2016
Pages: 148
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Former Navy SEAL Callum Ward has one motto—live life to the fullest. He saw the worst of war and lost good friends, but now he works for Treasure Hunter Security. When he’s not providing security for archeological digs and invaluable museum exhibits, or off on daring treasure hunts, he’s rock climbing, racing, or skiing. Nothing—and no one—has ever tempted him to slow down…until on an expedition into the Cambodian jungle, he has to work with one opinionated, prickly photographer, Dani Navarro. But soon their straight-forward trek to find a lost temple turns deadly, and Cal and Dani find themselves under attack from a dangerous black-market antiquities ring prepared to kill.

Dani Navarro lives for her photography. For years, it’s been her escape from her family and their frivolous lifestyle, affairs, and dramas. With her camera in hand, she travels the world, capturing other people’s moments and avoiding messy entanglements. At first, she thinks Cal Ward is no different from all the other men she’s known, but as their expedition turns into a hazardous dash through uncharted jungle, she uncovers a tough, intelligent, and sexy protector. Together, they must outwit their pursuers and find not only a lost temple…but a priceless, powerful artifact.

The biggest issue that I have with Anna Hackett’s series is that her sprawling vision can never be contained by the sheer brevity of her books.

I felt that this discrepancy is never more evident in this particular book, where the grand sense of adventure and her characters (who really have so much depth more to plumb) are curtailed by the ‘wham, bam, found the treasure and they lived happily together at the end of the rainbow’ ending that smacked me in the face. I could never shake that sense of being hurried through the whole mission or archaeology project as I’m whisked from one place to another (with several steamy scenes in between) while dodging bullets along with the rest of the characters before I’m plopped, dazed and unwittingly into a middle of a Hallmark ending with my bruises still unaccounted for.

For this same reason, the speed at which the main characters went from dislike to bed to declaring their love for each other was unbelievable and difficult to stomach. Could an ex-SEAL suddenly come to the realisation that he was in fact running away from everything that tied him down after a few hot sessions in the jungle with a photographer with emotional issues, who, by the same token, suddenly realised that this commitment-phobic man was the guy for her?

I thought ‘Uncharted’ a disappointment in terms of its unfulfilled potential, only because it could have been so, so much more.

three-stars

Undiscovered by Anna Hackett

Posted in Action/Adventure/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense/ Speculative Fiction/ Urban Fantasy 25th May 2016
Undiscovered by Anna HackettUndiscovered by Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #1
Published by Anna Hackett on May 22nd 2016
Pages: 202
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

One former Navy SEAL. One dedicated archeologist. One secret map to a fabulous lost oasis.
Finding undiscovered treasures is always daring, dangerous, and deadly. Perfect for the men of Treasure Hunter Security. Former Navy SEAL Declan Ward is haunted by the demons of his past and throws everything he has into his security business—Treasure Hunter Security. Dangerous archeological digs – no problem. Daring expeditions – sure thing. Museum security for invaluable exhibits – easy. But on a simple dig in the Egyptian desert, he collides with a stubborn, smart archeologist, Dr. Layne Rush, and together they get swept into a deadly treasure hunt for a mythical lost oasis. When an evil from his past reappears, Declan vows to do anything to protect Layne.
Dr. Layne Rush is dedicated to building a successful career—a promise to the parents she lost far too young. But when her dig is plagued by strange accidents, targeted by a lethal black market antiquities ring, and artifacts are stolen, she is forced to turn to Treasure Hunter Security, and to the tough, sexy, and too-used-to-giving-orders Declan. Soon her organized dig morphs into a wild treasure hunt across the desert dunes.
Danger is hunting them every step of the way, and Layne and Declan must find a way to work together…to not only find the treasure but to survive.
 

What a thrilling, exhilarating start to a series that I didn’t think could quite match the imaginative power of the Hell Squad or the Phoenix Adventures book.

Mea culpa. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself way too much, caught up in Anna Hackett’s world-building fervour.

There is no sedate moment in ‘Undiscovered’, when a jaded, commitment-phobic (and somewhat stereotypical) ex-military treasure security contractor teams up with a studious but intrepid archaeologist in a hunt for a lost city. I loved every moment of the journey that wound and twisted through myth, Ancient Egyptian history and archaeological digs of old simply because they nostalgically brought back memories of Indiana Jones and The Mummy and the fun, fun times these movies guaranteed.

At the same time, ‘Undiscovered’ is fertile seeding ground for the stories of all the other characters introduced in this book and I’m already antsy with anticipation for the rest of their stories.

four-stars

On a Barbarian World by Anna Hackett

Posted in Fantasy/ Reviews/ Speculative Fiction/ Syfy/ Syfy Romance 1st May 2016
On a Barbarian World by Anna HackettOn a Barbarian World by Anna Hackett
Series: The Phoenix Adventures, #8
Published by Amazon Digital Services on December 18th 2015
Pages: 184
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-stars

When an independent deep-space scout crash-lands on an unknown alien world, the last thing she expects is to find herself claimed by a barbarian warrior.

Aurina Phoenix spends most of her time zooming through uncharted space and gathering intel for her family's deep-space convoy, but her life takes an unexpected detour when a meteor shower brings down her ship. She finds herself on a barren, low-tech planet inhabited by dangerous beasts...and lands in the arms of a brawny barbarian warlord.

Markarian warrior Kavon Mal Dor is known for his skill in battle. He lives to protect his clan...and to avenge the murder of his father. Every move he makes is part of his grand plan for revenge, including finding a legendary sword and marrying a warlord's daughter. But when a beautiful skyflyer crashes into his world, she is the one thing he never counted on.

Fighting their incendiary attraction, Aurina and Kavon make a deal: she'll help him find the sword and in return, he'll give her the emergency beacon she needs to get home. But as the search for the sword plunges them into a dangerous adventure they find themselves consumed by a powerful passion and questioning everything they've ever wanted.

‘On a Barbarian World’ begins like the rest of the books in this series; the main characters are placed in an untenable situation, where their beliefs are poles apart, until crisis bonds them and eventually brings them together.

While I love the imaginative fervour and the great sense of adventure of the Phoenix series however, the ‘barbarian’ construct in this one managed to raise my hackles each time I read about the way Kavon the Warlord bosses his dominance over his territory, over his men and the array of luscious women available for his ‘sampling’…until he meets Aurina Phoenix, the woman who refuses to conform to his way of life. For this reason I found it impossible to taking a liking to Kavon – protective instincts or otherwise – and the way it all ends, with some sort of compromise that I found entirely ridiculous and unbelievable. Throw in the near, instant love (or rather, that strange thing called lust that neither can seem to overcome except for screwing each other senseless), and I’ve a guaranteed foot out the doorway with a grimace on my face.

I’m going to be treading very carefully when it comes to this ‘barbarian’ arc of stories now, simply because being swung up, carried over some brawny giant’s shoulder – while being subjected to his medieval treatise on ‘protection’, ‘claiming’ and his bevy of disposable women – is just the bitter cup of tea that I need.

two-stars
Back to top

Pin It on Pinterest