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Last First Kiss by Sidney Halston

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 8th August 2017
Last First Kiss by Sidney HalstonLast First Kiss by Sidney Halston
Series: Iron Clad Security #2
Published by Swerve on August 29th 2017
Pages: 202
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two-stars

He's an A-list Hollywood heartthrob. She's trying to prove herself in a man's world.

For this female bodyguard, protecting her client is simply business, but what happens when sparks fly and the danger heats up?

A woman bodyguard and a male celebrity in a reversal of roles sounded exciting and ‘Last First Kiss’ did seem at first, like The Bodyguard, except that a kickass woman is taking the reins and showing the world’s who’s boss. But I found myself struggling very early on, and that was mostly with characterisation.

I had a problem with the characters not acting their ages from the start; the squabbling between the siblings of Iron Clad Security felt like a college-project quarrel, as did Rocco’s constant sexualisation of every movement that Annie made that made him like a creep than a swoonworthy hero. But Annie lashed out as well, like a teenager instead of a professional bodyguard as well in so many instances that it was hard to take her seriously, let alone a pairing that couldn’t seem to act like the adults they were. Rocco later insisted on trying to be the protector instead, and that lack of respect for Annie’s job—when all he wanted was to see her as his girlfriend and he the alpha male sort—was frustrating beyond measure when most of the squabbling was about Annie’s supposed inability to do her job.

Unfortunately, that was what did it for me. I couldn’t quite continue when both Annie and Rocco didn’t get past this issue without any more of the arguments along the lines of ‘I can’t lose you’ said by males who seem to love nothing but smothering the women.

two-stars

Make Me Stay by Sidney Halston

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ New Adult/ Reviews 13th April 2017
Make Me Stay by Sidney HalstonMake Me Stay by Sidney Halston
Series: Panic #2
Published by Loveswept on June 27th 2017
Pages: 185
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four-stars

April: Walking away from Matt Moreno was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Lying to him was a close second, but for his safety, I had no other choice. I was undercover, working to put some nasty people behind bars. But when Matt nearly recognizes me on Lincoln Road a year later, all those very real feelings come rushing back. Now that my assignment’s almost over, will he understand why I lied? Why I had to leave? Most important, can he ever forgive me?  Matt: I was madly in love with June Simpson . . . or, at least, with the woman I thought was June. Then she just disappeared while my family’s nightclub went through hell. And after months of searching, when I think I’ve finally found that sexy, raspy voice and those exquisite blue eyes, she slips away once more. Turns out, “June” is actually Detective April White. She’s been playing me the whole time. And she’s about to rock my world all over again.

The review for ‘Make Me Stay’ is a hard one to write for sure; not because it’s a bad read (far from it), but because it’s so far from what I thought it would be that it has put me at a loss for words. Split into 2 parts, the first is the predictable flashback, a long, detailed recounting of the days after Matt Moreno meets June Simpson and how they fell for each other, even though June really isn’t who she seems.

Part 2, however, turned the entire book around with events that I didn’t see coming at all. But I was sorely disappointed not to see that same kickass cop I was hoping to see—this time coming into things in a blaze of glory—as the twist in the plot meant that the strong, take-no-prisoners detective had morphed into a broken, defeated woman who barely knew what she was doing. It was hard to reconcile this woman with the one we saw in the first part, but I had to constantly remind myself that this was contemporary romance rather than action or suspense. It’s an adjustment that takes for work for me, but reading about April (formerly known as June) and Matt rebuilding their relationship almost accidentally was engrossing to say the least, particularly so when they were now doing it for once, when no secrets were between them.

April and Matt were by and large likeable characters as well, which, in my opinion, made the book. Matt’s loyalty was indisputable, as was April’s own personal sense of justice and Sidney Halston writes both of them so flawed in a way that you can’t help but want them to succeed, even though the journey is an angsty one and paved with tears, anger and so much love. Even the epilogue doesn’t quite guarantee the perfect sunset, but it’s a realistic acknowledgement that the road to forgiveness is a rocky one, written with just the right glimmer of hope for the both of them.

four-stars

Pull Me Close by Sidney Halston

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 24th August 2016
Pull Me Close by Sidney HalstonPull Me Close by Sidney Halston
Series: The Panic, #1
Published by Loveswept on October 25th 2016
Pages: 240
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four-stars

When Katherine Wilson passes out in the arms of the hottest man she’s ever seen, it’s not because of the lights, the pulsating music, or the crowded dance floor. It’s because she can’t enjoy a night out like a normal person, not with her debilitating anxieties. These panic attacks are going to destroy her life unless she takes control—or gets a helping hand. So after the club’s bad-boy owner personally escorts her home, Katherine feels something urgent and primal awaken inside of her.
Nick Moreno doesn’t need a headache like Katherine. A drug bust has put his father behind bars and forced Nick to take over the daily business of his family’s South Beach nightclub. His head tells him to walk away—but his body has other ideas. Katherine’s vulnerability, her grace and courage, compel him to reach out. And when they kiss, Nick is overcome by desire: to pull her close, and promise that his embrace will always be the safest place on earth.

With a female lead who battles very, very severe PTSD and an anxiety disorder, ‘Pull me Closer’ is both unsettling and provocative enough to keep me at a loss for words – and at a loss how to rate this book. I don’t exactly know how to write a review for this, not just because it puts a debilitating illness in the spotlight, but also because the entire story is constructed around this uphill climb and a woman’s efforts to break out of it – and realistically, not always succeeding.

Katherine Wilson’s story unfolds in the sweaty, claustrophobic spaces of a nightclub, immediately drawing you in because of the deep POV that Sidney Halston takes from the beginning. We’re plunged straight into the nightmarish cages of a mentally-ill woman, and like her, we struggle, unable to breathe in these ever-tightening circles, until she falls onto the couch of Panic’s owner, who, admittedly stays an unsympathetic arse about her condition for quite a while because of his own hang-ups. Despite the budding romance and the steamy sex scenes, I do feel that the story is more of a woman’s personal journey through this illness than the relationship that develops almost incidentally with Nick, seeing as her story is that of the everyday ‘hero’ – people who overcome the slightest challenges that ‘normal’ people deem insignificant and think they’ve scaled Everest.

I didn’t find myself as invested in Katherine or Nick together for some reason, yet I couldn’t put the book down, which makes it all the more puzzling. It did however, get exciting towards the end and with a partial cliffie for an ending, it’s pretty obvious that the next book would be about Matt and that very mysterious woman with shifting identities.

four-stars
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