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Semper Fi Cowboy by Heather Long

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Netgalley/ Reviews 22nd May 2017
Semper Fi Cowboy by Heather LongSemper Fi Cowboy by Heather Long
Series: Lone Star Leathernecks #1
Published by Pocket Star on June 26th 2017
Pages: 145
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two-stars

A Leatherneck by any other name can still kick ass, which is just what retired United States Marine Corps Captain Tanner Wilks plans to do when he returns to his Texas family ranch to care for his ailing father. And nothing will stop him from achieving his mission—not even a lithe, brown-eyed town veterinarian who seems hell-bent on driving him wild.

Captain Tanner Wilks, honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps, returns home to find his father struggling after his latest heart attack. Worse yet, Julia Heller—the sexy new girl in town that he once spent a hot night with—is the resident veterinarian who’s made a home for herself at Round Top ranch, and doesn’t seem to be in a rush to repeat their time together.

It falls on Tanner’s shoulders to take on the ranch and keep an eye on his father before he falls victim to another heart attack. But Julia doesn’t appreciate Tanner coming in or pursuing her. Even if he’s hot as hell and can make her quiver with just a look. Ousting her may give Tanner the leverage he needs to corral his father, but first he has to wrestle with his own heart.

‘Semper Fi Cowboy’ is a quick read, but it’s also oddly slow-going, with paragraphs dedicated to Tanner Wilks’s family, their legacy (military service runs in the family, followed by ranching) and the land that they’ve had for generations. I did get bored at times, as the pacing lagged a little, but having no expectations of this new series by Heather Long, it was easier to go with the flow and see where the story took me.

The quickness with which both Tanner and Jules jumped into bed meant that there wasn’t much build-up or tension that I normally like—or at least there wasn’t anything that led me to the edge of hot and bothered before I fall along with the couple. It’s not a development that I can usually buy into, but the story went on, it became clear that the intention was always to show Tanner’s reintegration into his new life—as well as Jules’s place in it—as he deals with his stick-in-the-mud military father.

The story’s not downright angsty, and the conflict is mostly about smalltime family drama, along with a lot of ranching work details that are typical of such reads. In short, it’s not quite the perfect novella for me (and this has to do with the reasons above rather than Long’s writing style) and the brevity of it means that the love declarations and the resolutions do come faster than I’m used to. But for those who love rural, country-type romances with a quick wrap-up, ‘Semper Fi Cowboy’ would probably be something to dive straight into.

two-stars

When Danger Bites by Heather Long

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Magic/Paranormal/ Military/Paramilitary/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense/ Speculative Fiction/ Urban Fantasy 16th April 2017
When Danger Bites by Heather LongWhen Danger Bites by Heather Long
Series: Bravo Team WOLF #1
Published by Entangled Publishing on May 8th 2017
Pages: 300
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three-stars

Buttoned-up Corporal Kaitlyn Amador is dangerous on every level. As a human, she poses a threat to Marine Captain Jax Raymond’s special Force Recon unit. Though the team has a reputation among the other recon units, only their commanding officer knows their secret. As a woman, the danger posed is entirely different. Jax can survive the temptation for only so long before his wolf takes over and pursues what it wants.
Military intelligence specialist Corporal Kaitlyn Amador is the first woman in the Marines to be assigned to a recon team. And everyone’s watching her. Her mission? Not only prove herself worthy of her place in the group, but uncover the mystery of why Bravo Team is so successful. A mission that gets more difficult every time she’s near Jax...

I went into this not quite knowing what to expect despite having some experience reading different authors’ takes on the way they take on shapeshifters. Heather Long’s story however, is a nuanced one, pitting a strong, kickass intelligence officer holding her own in a secret pack of marine wolf-shapeshifters. But because Bravo wolf team is classified—their existence is a result of secret government pacts with several wolf alphas—, Kat Amador’s secret mission will compromise them all and put everything into peril.

Long’s own brand of wolf-shapeshifter mythology is part-Nalini Singh and part-Paige Tyler, a good mixture that subscribes to the wolf pack canon at least, with a lot of attention paid to dominance and submission which is admittedly part of this sub-genre of the paranormal universe which I don’t exactly like but something that seems necessary. It’s very well-written though, with dialogue that very clearly puts across the conflicts on varying levels: military command vs. pack order, a sole human woman needing to find her own footing amongst testosterone laden shapeshifters who are also soldiers and how Jax tries to reconcile his personal desires with how he was meant to make Kat wash out.

Overall though, ‘When Danger bites’ is a good read but it’s also one that feels like an ‘establishing’ book, as Long sets up the context, the history and the Marine wolf team out for us, while juggling a pairing that spent most of their time training and trying to ignore the attraction that’s between them. While I liked Jax/Kat’s chemistry as well as the camaraderie between the other soldiers, I couldn’t exactly get into the pairing seeing as so much of the focus lay with Kat trying to keep up with the team while trying to rein in her own growing suspicions about their success.

When it all finally comes out, the conflict and resolution are somewhat blurred lines, with mentions of mating, an unknown, faceless alpha and ‘turning’ a human—all of which felt like teases that were never really elaborated upon, let alone seen materialised. Instead, the ending bit, which was really Kat’s triumph in yet another survival course, felt like a let-down and I couldn’t really tell what would happen with Jax and Kat past their agreement to go ‘steady’. These loose threads curtailed my enjoyment somewhat of what could have been a very solid read, seeing as I would have liked to have seen a greater development of Jax/Kat’s relationship. But it’s something to hope for in the next few books in the series as the other wolves finally settle into their skin.

three-stars

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews/ Sports 1st March 2017
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
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