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In Too Deep by Kimberly Kincaid

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 30th September 2017
In Too Deep by Kimberly KincaidIn Too Deep by Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Station Seventeen #3
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing, Kimberly Kincaid Romance on October 17th 2017
Pages: 345
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four-stars

As Station Seventeen’s rookie, Luke Slater knows his fire and EMS training will be both rigorous and risky, but he never imagined having to partner up with the one woman he wants to keep at arm’s length most of all. Quinn Copeland is as wide-open as Luke is reserved. He has no interest in letting the sweet and sexy paramedic rock his hard-earned control. But the need for composure becomes the need to survive when they find themselves in the crosshairs of a brutal gang leader on their first shift together.

Paramedic Quinn Copeland’s station mates aren’t just her friends. They’re her family. She’d do anything to keep them safe—including reluctantly trusting her impossible-to-read, impossibly gorgeous new partner with the one thing she holds close. As the passion between Luke and Quinn goes from a slow burn to a sizzle, their steps grow more and more dangerous, both in the fire house and out. Can they outwit a cold-blooded killer and face the fears that could cost them everything? Or are they in too deep?

Kimberly Kincaid’s Station Seventeen isn’t just a bunch of firefighting men who go out to battle the blazes, although the mention of bunker gear, sexy times involving dirty firemen and fire-heroics is probably enough for many readers. But Kincaid serves up a hefty dose of good ol’ romantic suspense where characters from law enforcement and emergency responders mingle and rally around each other to get the plot going. Not only is this right up my smelly, cat-littered alley, but I love it when a story surprises me…the good way.

‘In Too Deep’ just had one of those great combinations that did it for me: a solid, believable suspense plot, likeable protagonists who don’t cross TSTL lines and sufficient twists and turns that just ramp up the tension. It was thoroughly addictive as a result and I hadn’t expected to like Luke Slater and Quinn Copeland as much as I did along with the interaction of the secondary characters that helped pad out the narrative and shape both Luke’s and Quinn’s contrasting characters. Kincaid’s handling of these interactions was top-notch and it was balanced quite nicely with the unfolding drama that got more intense and riveting as the pages went on.

While I appreciated Kincaid not making light at all about the younger man (rookie) and the slightly older woman (an experienced paramedic), what impressed me most was the way Kincaid tried to level the characters by giving Luke the bigger, calmer voice of reason and Quinn, a character who in turn, didn’t use her age or professional experience to belittle him. I liked their similar backgrounds, their latent attraction and chemistry, which was why the short rift and the easy resolution between them at the end felt forced and written for the sake of creating conflict, when there was already plenty enough to go around.

Overall though, ‘In Too Deep’ exceeded my expectations once it was established that the plot wasn’t going to revolve around a decision that could have made Quinn look like a TSTL heroine. The book was absorbing enough that I didn’t want to put it down, which made me impatient by the end for what Kincaid already has up her sleeve for the next book in this series.

four-stars

Crossing the Line by Kimberly Kincaid

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 25th July 2017
Crossing the Line by Kimberly KincaidCrossing the Line by Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Cross Creek #2
Published by Montlake Romance on August 8th 2017
Pages: 316
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three-stars

Cocky farmer Eli Cross plays twice as hard as he works. When his latest stunt drums up a heap of negative PR for the family farm, he grudgingly agrees to play host to an ambitious New York City photographer. Her feature on Cross Creek could be just the ticket to show the country what the Cross brothers do best…which is more problem than solution for Eli.

Scarlett Edwards-Stewart has photographed everything from end zones to war zones. She’s confident she can ace this one little story to help her best friend’s failing magazine. At least, she would be if her super-sexy host wasn’t so tight lipped. But the more Scarlett works with Eli, the more she discovers that he’s not who he seems. Can his secret bring them closer together? Or will it be the very thing that tears them apart?

Eli Cross’s modus operandi is to operate with a firmly-affixed front of cocky deflecting, grinning-and-bearing, and simply be labelled as the good-for-nothing brother who’s also the least hardworking one on the farm that is in sore need of a good financial haul.

But his love has never been for agriculture like the rest of his brothers and being stuck in that position means to just stay as much under the radar and keep his love for journalism under wraps until it, well, all blows up in his face. And as we all know it, it does, upon the arrival of a famous photographer who’s out in the middle of nowhere as a favour for a friend.

I just wasn’t too convinced at the reason he had to keep his love for writing a secret because it simply doesn’t seem like something to be ashamed about. That he didn’t assert his own love for it while working on the farm was quite incomprehensible to me.

What was surprising though, was that the cocky, hell-if-I-care exterior was nowhere in sight when Scarlett shows up and tags along. He’s distanced but polite at first, without the charm that I thought he’d be laying on thick to deflect Scarlett’s curiosity about his personal life. Initially, I had a hard time figuring out how Eli/Scarlett would work out in ‘Crossing the Line’ but it eventually became clear that they were displaced in their own, similar ways—and acted out in an opposite manner—and in so doing, rather poignantly find their common ground.

I wasn’t entirely sure what purpose the last bit of drama that came in at the end served though (apart from inserting the customary-ending conflict between Eli and Scarlett) and that kind of threw me off the narrative a bit. The ending as a result, came rather abruptly and we don’t really know how Eli/Scarlett work their arrangement out past their love declarations so that felt a little unfinished.

That part aside, Kimberly Kincaid’s writing is always lovely to read. It’s flowing and easy, and ‘Crossing the Line’ is no different. Thee three Cross brothers are well on their way to get their HEAs and because the grumpy ones do tend to excite me more, I’m already expecting Owen’s story to be a hoot.

three-stars

Deep Burn by Kimberly Kincaid

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 30th May 2017
Deep Burn by Kimberly KincaidDeep Burn by Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Station Seventeen #2
on June 5th 2017
Pages: 269
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three-stars

Firefighter Shae McCullough is all-in, all the time. When her reckless response at a fire earns her a two-week penance filing paperwork for the arson investigation unit, the rules and routines are enough to bore her senseless. But the discovery of a possible arson at a murder scene has her instincts fired up, and when Shae is assigned to assist Remington’s elite intelligence unit with their investigation, she’s all too ready to jump in with both boots first.
To tech and surveillance expert James Capelli, logic isn’t just a job requirement, it’s a way of life. He’s less than thrilled to work with Shae, whose impulsiveness threatens his sanity and whose curves threaten his composure. Despite their differences, they uncover a case bigger than anyone could have expected—along with an attraction that burns deep.
But this killer is no stranger, and Capelli’s got a dark past. Can he and Shae outsmart a ruthless murderer, or will his secrets bury them both?

I’ve been waiting a long while for Kimberly Kincaid’s Station Seventeen series to come back and I’m happy to see ‘Deep Burn’ mark its return. A case of arson and murder kicks it all off and Kincaid pits total opposites—a reckless, impulsive firefighter and a rational, tech guy with a guarded past—in this one when it seems as though the previous case and this are linked by a shadowy criminal figure intent on pulling everyone’s strings.

I’ll admit from the start that it took me a long time to warm up to Shae McCullough, if I could even at all. Reckless, impulsive—with a load of adjectives in between—and always straining at the leash to do something, there was a part of me that wondered if that rogue bit of her was going to endanger someone at the end, if it hadn’t already had at the start. But her open honesty and her loyalty to Capelli did help make up for it, particularly after he told her about his criminal past.

I do appreciate Kincaid’s unusual take on James Capelli though; there’s this borderline, repressed almost-manic air to him if that energy isn’t channelled into logical, rational crime-solving, which would probably lead him straight back into his criminal hacking past that he’s desperate to bury. The brooding, careful calculation with which he does things is admittedly more attractive than the impulse that Shae shows, though this is probably my own OCD showing up, and I really liked how tech and surveillance guys can be heroes in their own right as Kincaid has shown.

From the onset, it seemed as though this unlikely pairing wouldn’t be able to cut it together—that great is the social and metaphorical distance between them, but as the arson/murder investigation goes on, Shae and Capelli do balance each other out in a way I didn’t quite expect. I’d hoped though, to see more of a moderating influence that Capelli might have had on Shae, just as she could have had him becoming more spontaneous and less buttoned-down, which didn’t exactly happen.

Despite this, Kincaid’s writing is as solid as ever (it’s a style that appeals personally to me) and as always, I can’t wait to see what else she has up her sleeve with Station Seventeen.

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

Crossing Hearts by Kimberly Kincaid

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 12th January 2017
Crossing Hearts by Kimberly KincaidCrossing Hearts by Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Cross Creek #1
Published by Montlake Romance on February 7th 2017
Pages: 342
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three-stars

Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.
Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.
But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?

Kimberly Kincaid’s new series is quite a charming, heartfelt one and definitely one of the more engaging small-town stories that I’ve read for some time.

Hunter Cross—farmer extraordinaire—captured my imagination from the start and as foreign as this farming thing is to me, he’s vividly drawn enough that his bond to the farm and family cannot be disputed even as he struggles with an own injury and problems that threaten to weigh him down. An old flame returns though, for reasons that she will not disclose, but as things go, attraction and a shared history might trump that even.

There are many things to like about this book, undoubtedly: the assured writing, the small town feel that Kincaid creates so superbly and the great pacing and development of the relationship that’s supposed to be the HEA this time around. But What I found hard to accept though, was Emerson’s pushing away of the man she walked away from—under the erroneous but ultimately patronising claim that was pretty much ‘I did it for your own good’—12 years ago and her present-day lashing out at him because of her fear of her illness becoming public.

And yet that it was Hunter who has to grovel in the end to fight for their relationship. Far be it from me to dictate how a character deals with the traumatic news of a debilitating illness but I thought Emerson had mostly treated Hunter atrociously from the beginning. Illness or not (which incidentally, doesn’t provide a legitimate excuse for behaving badly), I found it hard to like her as a bona fide heroine because of this.

Kincaid does portray all too well how much less brave (and perhaps irrational) an illness can make a person, but I’d hoped for a less clichéd sort of conflict however, but it seemed as though it was always Hunter who had to make active inroads for the both of them which I hadn’t liked, each time Emerson retreated behind her growing fears.

This is a good start nonetheless; I liked the familial conflict laid out in the Cross family and the brothers’ stories that already lie in wait.

three-stars

Skin Deep by Kimberly Kincaid

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 30th August 2016
Skin Deep by Kimberly KincaidSkin Deep by Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Station Seventeen #1
Published by Kimberly Kincaid Romance on September 20th 2016
Pages: 355
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four-stars

Where there’s smoke…

For firefighter Kellan Walker, checking his emotions at the door doesn’t just keep him on the level. It keeps him alive. A gut-wrenching find at the scene of a blaze threatens to blow his ironclad composure, but when the detective assigned to the case is the same woman who put his sister’s life at risk three months ago, all bets for Kellan being calm, cool, or collected are definitely off.

There’s bound to be fire…

Keeping people safe is Isabella Moreno’s number one priority, no matter how tough the case. Working without solid leads and with the gorgeous, broody firefighter who believes she’s responsible for endangering his sister on a previous case isn’t ideal. But someone is hurting women in the here-and-now. Isabella will do whatever it takes to find justice.

As Kellan and Isabella reluctantly team up to catch a criminal, they realize they have more in common than they’d ever imagined. With every move, the stakes grow higher and the passion sizzles hotter, but can they race against the clock and the odds to catch a killer? Or will they lose their hearts—and their lives?

Kimberly Kincaid surprised me with this one. I’ve come to expect many firefighting books to be about arson-related cases or about bush-firefighting, but ‘Skin Deep’ deals more about sex-trafficking crimes and sexual slavery than it is about firefighting itself. It works very well as a standalone, even if it’s a full-fledged continuation of Liliana Hart’s Kindle Worlds Mackenzie series, which Kincaid was a part of.

’Skin Deep’ is quite a ride from start to end, with a deliciously filthy villain (channelling all sorts of odd shades of serial killers, Lady Macbeth and the local mafia) and characters who could well be plucked out from primetime TV. The criminal case that emerges is engrossing enough and I found myself liking the pacing as well as the solid cast of characters that come and go from the story.

The leads were credible, even if I did find myself gravitating towards Kellan Walker more than I did Isabella Moreno. Closed-off and distant, Isabella assumes the role of most male protagonists in the romance genre, staying off commitment and relationships because they tend to hurt more if they care – along with the rather stupid belief that forming close relationships would somehow lead the other person to die.Despite this clichéd behaviour trait, she did seem competent initially, if reckless and foolish for launching a private investigation without telling everyone else about the danger she’d placed herself in. I liked how she was called out for her lonewolf, untrusting behaviour early though, first by her colleague and then by Kellan, who muscled his way into Isabella’s private investigations and past her defences. Kellan on the other hand, seemed like a godsend: loyal, discerning, not afraid to show her as much tough love as her colleagues do, then led by example by putting his faith in her so she could do the same for others.

Even if I’m not entirely convinced by the rightness of this pairing (after all, sex did seem be a way to skip the serious talking business too much here), the slight twist at the end upped my enjoyment of the book, leaving me only hanging a little by the abrupt ending and a very battered HEA.

four-stars

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 16th June 2016
Fearless by Kimberly KincaidFearless by Kimberly Kincaid
Series: Rescue Squad #2
Published by Zebra on July 26th 2016
Pages: 368
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three-stars

Firefighter Cole Everett's life revolves around the firehouse. Committed to saving lives--and to the guys who always have his back in the most dangerous moments on the job--Cole's focus is a coveted spot on the Fairview Rescue Squad. When his captain asks him to mentor a rookie firefighter, he jumps at the chance, hoping it will help to prove his skill. But the new "guy" is none other than Savannah Nelson, a female firefighter as stubbornly determined as Cole is, and a whole lot curvier in all the right places . . .
Savannah won't let anyone extinguish her dream of fulfilling her family legacy and becoming a top notch firefighter--and she's happily surprised when strong-willed, sexy Cole is willing to give her the chance she deserves. Concentrating on the job isn't always easy when the heat between them flares higher every day, but Savannah won't give up--not even when one of Station Eight's veterans seems bent on trashing her reputation. To stop a string of possible arsons, Savannah and Cole will need to eliminate every distraction--but can they let their love go up in flames?

Cole Everett has wanted to be one of the elite, has worked hard for it and is just within reach of his dream of joining the squad after eight years in the firehouse. But to fill the gap he’s going to leave behind, he’ll need to train the replacement himself, a smart-arse rookie by the name of Savannah Nelson who’ll do anything it takes to be part of a minted firefighter. It all sounds like a fair trade, but neither one could have counted on the obstacles that go against this rocky partnership or that the attraction they have to each other.

Savannah has all the earmarks of a rookie firefighter – brash, raring to go, somewhat cocky with an sassy attitude – but it was easy to like her when she didn’t skirt anywhere near the TSTL line with Cole and actually listened when it came to what was important, proving a good match for Cole’s seriousness. Yet she was also upfront, direct and dedicated with Cole and trod the fine line between respect and sass quite well, which is unusual for a headstrong female protagonist.

But what struck me hard about ‘Fearless’ were the intricacies of firefighting laid out in great detail here. Kimberly Kincaid doesn’t shy away from the hard bits of showing the inner workings in a firehouse and how they work (and the research clearly shows!) and I found myself lapping up as much about the entire profession as I did with the progress of Savannah/Cole’s relationship – which was also, thankfully, a slow-burn of a relationship that developed over weeks of hard work and camaraderie than instant love (of which I’ve hard too much these days). There’s loads of action in the first half but I felt the story really picked up when in the last quarter with the added complication of a possible arsonist and the growing but unavoidable conflict between the lieutenant and both Cole/Savannah. The building suspense that came after the RST was a lovely touch, although the climax wasn’t a heart-pounding one that I’d hoped for as the story somehow limped to a disappointingly quick and abrupt conclusion.

three-stars
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