Author: Christi Barth

Got It Bad by Christi Barth

Got It Bad by Christi BarthGot it Bad by Christi Barth
Series: Bad Boys Gone Good #3
Published by Avon Impulse on 18th September 2018
Pages: 384
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Kellan Maguire's on the run from the mob, living a secret life. The only bright spot is his U.S. Marshal handler. Yeah, he wants to handle her....a lot. And in spite of all the rules it would break, Federal Marshal Delaney Evans secretly fears she’d risk everything for one night with Kellan. Even though Delaney’s career, her entire world, could implode if she admits how important he is to her. And all that is before the biggest complication of all hits...

3 brothers, all in Witness Protection and their ways of coping with new lives foisted on them when they run into trouble with the mob: that’s what Christi Barth’s Bad Boys Gone Good series is built on. Not having read the entire series, ‘Got it Bad’ does take time getting used to, though it’s clear that Kellan Maguire has the hots for the US Marshal in charge of his and his brothers’ case, an attraction which starts just as he is forced into Witsec.

But the story went off the rails for me about a third through. I lost sight of the grander scheme of things in what felt like page-fillers about Kellan’s other activities in a clubhouse, the sudden number of secondary character insertions and pages of dialogue that seemed to go nowhere. Consequently, the slow-going story also felt as though it was pulled in several directions, apart from the secret affair Kellan and Delaney decided to have because they really couldn’t stand the constant pining/burning anymore (there’s a lot of repetitive talk about how their first kiss is making her panties wet), when I really wanted to read how the Maguire brothers finally got free of the mob’s hold on them.

As the youngest brother forced out of law school, Kellan’s first encounter with Delany Evans made me rethink whether the former could even be considered some kind of romantic hero—smarmy, cocky and oozing collegiate testosterone at the very start with a strong NA bent in his character which felt out of place here. Understandably, Kellan’s dissatisfaction and boredom with life prompted some kind of soul-searching but his level of maturity or lack thereof was somehow reinforced when he realised he could make a difference every day apart from law school—which sounded like a slogan for the education industry—or in the way he thought about women guaranteed to put out after a nice date or his constant thoughts of getting Delaney into bed. But these were also peppered with moments where he did feel ‘older’ in a way, more like an equal to Delaney when he had to be.

In short, the contradictory bits of Kellan threw me off and as one who doesn’t normally bother about the age gap between romantic protagonists, the one between Delaney and Kellan still felt marked anyhow, given the different stages they were at their lives, but especially in the way they both approached their careers (with the latter’s one not even started when he’d not even finished school). For the first half, this was what I’d gotten, which made it hard to buy into the pairing given this gap between them.

That said, ‘Got It Bad’ isn’t badly written at all; this is clearly a case of just me not being able to connect with the story and characters and a rating that reflects this admission.

Bad For Her by Christi Barth

Bad For Her by Christi BarthBad for Her by Christi Barth
Series: Bad Boys Gone Good #1
Published by Avon Impulse on October 3rd 2017
Pages: 432
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three-stars

Doctor Mollie Vickers loves the tight-knit community of her tiny Oregon town. But she’s not a fan of the limited dating options. Sleep with a guy who tried to copy off her in junior high? Pass. Mollie’s sex life is flatlining… until a deliciously handsome man she’s never seen before stops to help her fix a flat tire.

As an ex-mobster, Rafe Maguire’s no saint. But he’s trying to turn over a new leaf. Although he probably shouldn’t kiss the hot doctor on the side of the highway. Or suggest a no-strings fling with a woman he has no business pursuing. Rafe’s life is too complicated for love—his new WITSEC-provided identity doesn’t fit him at all and there’s a U.S. Marshal watching his every move. He can’t tell Mollie the truth… but their chemistry is scorching and being good doesn’t mean he can’t be a little bad.

Mollie can’t resist the guy who looks rough, talks tough, and is loyal to the bone. But it’s obvious Rafe is keeping secrets. When the truth comes out, Mollie must decide if she could ever love an ex-mobster… or if this bad boy has truly gone good.

Three bothers in witness protection, facing nothing but uncertainty after being uprooted from the life they know, finding their own HEA a book at a time? ‘Bad For Her’’s novel premise intrigued me from the start. The originality of the blurb reeled me in immediately and Christi Barth’s marvellous storytelling took it the rest of the way.

Admittedly, I strangely found myself more interested in the brothers’ interaction with each other than I was in the romance this time around—which almost felt like an afterthought. It’s strange not to be swept up in the romance though; Mollie Vickers wasn’t a protagonist interesting enough for me to buy into the pairing, especially when she paled in contrast to the larger-than-life Rafe Maguire. Embodying the best definition of ‘bad boy’ I’ve read about in recent memory, Rafe’s loyalty to his brothers, the sacrifices he made for them and the all-round good guy that he strove to be somehow carved out a sharper silhouette of him than Mollie—and after a while, it was pretty much because of him and his brothers that I read on.

That, and the surprising, consistent thread of snide humour that ran throughout this book, courtesy of Rafe and his brothers who should have found side-jobs at comedy gigs.

In fact, the laughs kept me going and the sarcastic commentary from the characters that was either accidental or deliberate went a long way in keeping this an upbeat journey of three men stumbling around and finding their own way to survive in a whole new world so far from their comfort zone. In ‘Bad For her’, I lived through Kellan, Flynn and Rafe’s shenanigans in a town so far from the city slickers that they were, laughed at their antics, felt their paranoia and sympathised with Rafe’s efforts to keep them safe. Bottom-line is, there’s so much I love about these guys and having each of them anchor the next few books is bound to be an entertaining ride. Here’s crossing my fingers.

three-stars

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance AnthologyHot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology by Avery Flynn, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Nana Malone, Virginia Nelson, Xio Axelrod, Christi Barth, Andie J. Christopher, Kim Golden, Lena Hart, Desiree Holt, Robin Kaye, Katie Kenyhercz, Heather Long, Kate Meader, Angi Morgan, Susan Scott Shelley, Misty D. Waters
Series: Chicago Rebels #0.5
Published by Avery Flynn on March 21st 2017
Pages: 1800
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three-stars

Get ready to fall in love with the smokin’ hot hockey players of the New Orleans Cajun Rage. After this season’s Cinderella run all the way to the Finals, these heroes have won the Cup—and now your heart is the goal.

‘Hot on Ice’ follows every single team member of the fictional New Orleans Cajun Rage after they’ve won the coveted cup and how the cup, like some magical catalyst, helps bring them get to their HEA that some feel (rightly so, to be honest) they don’t deserve. By the end of the book, I found it somewhat amusing that entire hockey team has found love, as though the cup has helped guaranteed success in their love lives as well.

Like every anthology, the quality of writing varies quite significantly and it can be quite an experience sorting through all of them, like finding gems in a huge haystack. There were some stories that I enjoyed (and found believable) more than others because of the stylish and more sophisticated way of writing, as well as how well some authors handled the typical romance tropes in them. Some others, well…I did find them cringeworthy.

The ARC I received felt like it was in its ‘developmental’ stage though; the formatting didn’t always work in my laptop or my e-reader (I don’t use a Kindle, maybe that’s why) for several chapters and there is still some editing work (grammar/spelling, for instance) that needs to be done to make the final version a more polished one.

*ARC kindly given by the authors
(always grateful, mind)

three-stars

Risking It All by Christi Barth

Risking It All by Christi BarthRisking It All by Christi Barth
Series: Naked Men #1
Published by Loveswept on March 8th 2016
Pages: 305
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two-stars

Griffin Montgomery helps people. As a teenager, he kept his best friends alive after their soccer team’s bus crashed in the Alps. Now, as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot, he saves lives with reckless abandon—until he goes too far and earns a lengthy suspension. Working on the Naked Men projects keeps his mind busy, but Griff’s itching to get back in the action. That’s when he finds his latest rescue mission: a pretty wallflower who’s stuck in her comfort zone.
Chloe Widmore doesn’t take risks. As a professional letter writer, she gets enough excitement out of expressing other people’s emotions. So when the hottest man she’s ever seen invades her coffee shop, Chloe surprises herself with how much she wants to be with him. Routines make her feel safe. Griff makes her deliciously unsafe, in so many ways. But falling for him is one risk she might just have to take . . . whether she’s ready or not.

A freak accident down the Italian mountainside years ago made Griffin Montgomery and his gang of soccer boys famous in ways that continued to affect their lives today. And that had been both a blessing and a burden, especially in a career that now involves calculated risks. Meeting Chloe Widmore is akin meeting his antithesis and like every other rescue attempt, his budding relationship with her stems from that deep-seated need to fix and patch. But Chloe’s particular resistance unearths what he has glossed over in his own life as well: his own risk-averse nature when it comes to commitments and what it really means to put his (not just professional) own self out there.

Chloe and Griffin seemed an unlikely pairing, coming together without reason after a chance meeting at a coffee shop. But I liked the subtext present there: that their relationship was really a reassessment about risk taking and the various valid definitions of it – and rightly so. Both Chloe and Griff have their own acceptable standards of what it means to live life on their own terms and yet I hated how Griff made Chloe’s chosen closeted life seem less than adequate after having gone through her own form of tragedy a decade ago. I thought her brave in her own way, just a little risk-averse, and completely underserving of the judgemental lectures and patronising putting down that her so-called best friend and Griff put her through.

I couldn’t shake the feeling though, that Griff and his buddies simply retained the frat-boy mentality in the way they spoke about women. I was frankly irked when they spoke about virginity like it was a commodity, not because it was precious but because taking it signalled commitment and other ties which they didn’t want. Which naturally made me think that the women Christi Barth has yet to reveal for all of them already deserved way better than these idiots. This prizing of a brotherhood-above-all bound by tragedy? Don’t quite count me in just yet.

‘Risking It All’ has been a mixed-bag for me. Characters and several questionable behaviour-arcs aside, I thought the book tended towards going off tangents and some odd dialogue/descriptive moments that broke the ease of the narrative. The series is promising however; but I’d appreciate more depth (and integrity) to these guys who suspiciously look like they have a lot more growing up to do for their ages.

two-stars