Author: Veronica Forand

London Calling by Veronica Forand

London Calling by Veronica ForandLondon Calling by Veronica Forand
Published by Entangled Publishing. LLC (Amara) on 25th March 2019
Pages: 275
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one-star

Small town police officer Emma Ross loves her simple life––but it takes a hard turn into crazy when she’s kidnapped by MI6 and is put under the protection of an over-bearing, albeit sexy, Scotsman. A man who believes she’s lying to protect her father—a father whom she had no idea worked for British Intelligence and is now missing.

Liam Macknight’s partner was assassinated and he’s certain Emma’s father had something to do with it. But the stubborn woman isn’t talking, and she’s determined to get herself killed trying to find out the truth. Locking her in a room does no good––he tried that. So he’s forced to work with her, even if he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to trust her.

When he’s assigned to kill her dad to protect the identity of British spies in the Kremlin, he knows what little trust they’ve gained is about to be destroyed forever...

I struggled with this. Hard. Put it down, walked away, then found a burst of inspiration and went a few chapters at a time, before the whole cycle began again.

And I had an even harder time writing this review of ‘London Calling’, because in every way, this should be the kind of read I dig my claws into but instead turned out to be a book that threw me into the deep end of the pool.

The setup in the beginning—confusing, straight into action, with names and a context that was neck-deep into some honey-trap—left me flailing. And that ominously, set the tone for ‘London Calling’.

Honestly, the plot was one that I could see gaining traction—a woman caught in the middle of spies and their super-secretive ways, the inevitable romance and attraction that comes out of it, the conflict of interest, a couple at odds—but I think it was the execution of it that didn’t work well for me.

Isolated and thrust into a nightmare that she has no part in, Emma Ross kind of made up for this by miraculously transforming from small-town cop to superwoman who beat people at chess and outshot trained snipers…essentially, things that made me incredulous.

Bu up to half way through, I found that Liam Macknight and Emma were not fully in each other’s orbits, and with a superficial relationship built on uncertainty and distrust, there wasn’t enough for me to ‘ship them as a pairing at all. Furthermore, given the periods of separation, I found their connection cursory at best, non-existent at worst. That Macknight thought of Emma as his anchor felt instead more like a crutch based on the sheer number of losses he’d endured, rather than any bond that they’re supposed to share. Essentially, their lack of chemistry and the reluctant romance (if this could even be called a romance) made me skim through the scenes and what I simply felt by the time I started blowing through the pages was just regret for what could have been.

one-star

True Peril by Veronica Forand

True Peril by Veronica ForandTrue Peril by Veronica Forand
Series: True Lies #3
Published by Entangled: Select Suspense on March 7th 2016
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two-stars

She's this assassin's toughest assignment ever...
Socialite Trista Patterson has turned her back on her life of privilege and dedicated herself to helping others. Her mission to protect the world’s children often takes her into the bleak and violent underbelly of third world countries. When a kidnapping attempt goes wrong, Trista quickly finds herself running for her life...and married to a man she just met...as she’s placed at the top of the Cartel’s most wanted list.
Some days no good deed goes unpunished.
Dane O’Brien has spent his life in the shadows. Once a lethal assassin he grew tired of losing his soul with every hit, trading his gun and missions for a conference table and office politics as an undercover operative for the CIA. But when visiting his humanitarian sister turns deadly, Dane finds himself swearing to protect her beautiful and passionate friend Trista no matter the cost...even if it means stepping back into the world he swore never to return to. Although falling for the tough-hearted Trista is easy, keeping her alive is hard.

A kidnapping attempt goes terribly wrong and leads Trista Patterson down a road she’d never imagine. In a matter of days, she finds her old identity buried and a new one that proclaims her married to a man whose past is kept from her and a new career path that she’s blackmailed into by Simon Dunn.

‘True Peril’ is a plunge back into the shadowy world of arms-dealing, covert operations, double-crossings and deep cover identities that Veronica Forand portrays with intricate detail, but it also reminds me of the slightly off characterisations that once again, make me hesitate about liking both Trista/Dane as a pairing. There are narrative twists and turns that made me incredulous than thrilled and like Trista/Eve, I felt rail-roaded into reading about decisions that were difficult to accept.

Dane and Eve on their own are formidable characters; the latter more than the former at least, because her fortitude in the face of uncertainty and mitigating circumstances was more than admirable. But together, their relationship is frustrating for reasons that I find difficult to articulate other than the premise of it being a fictional one based on necessity. Their connection was merely lukewarm and never quite fulfilled its potential, with Dane doing little to deepen a bond that he proclaims to want after knowing her for a short period of time. They spend much of the book flitting in and out of each other’s lives, behaving like Simon’s pawns (once again, I’m reminded why I couldn’t like Simon at all as a leading main character), with very little opportunity for trust to build all around. Dane spends all his time trying to deny Eve’s capabilities while Eve’s conciliatory attitude to Dane and Simon after their awful treatment of her baffled me. Consequently, their mutual declarations of love in enemy crossfire felt forced and abrupt, particularly after Eve had sort of been betrayed by Dane and Simon.

My enjoyment of this story has been greatly curtailed by the fact that the romance inserted into the story—and its dysfunctional characters—felt too stunted to buy into; perhaps ‘True Peril’ would have functioned better as a suspense novel without any romantic entanglement at all.

two-stars

True Deceptions by Veronica Forand

True Deceptions by Veronica ForandTrue Deceptions by Veronica Forand
Series: True Lies, #2
Published by Entangled: Select Suspense on October 19th 2015
Pages: 342
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two-stars

Temptation. Seduction. Murder. It's all part of the game...
After his partner was murdered, Simon Dunn was done with MI6. But the cold, violent world of British intelligence never lets anyone go free. Now Simon has been blackmailed into a new job...with a beautiful new partner who's going to get them both killed.
Robotics expert Cassie Watson is a newbie field agent with as much sophistication as...well, a pacifist, vegan computer nerd. Now she's abruptly thrust into the cutthroat world of espionage with a partner who is as cold as he is brutally-and brutishly-handsome.
But when their mission is betrayed from the inside, Cassie will be forced to place her life in the hands of the one man who's anything but trustworthy...

Well-plotted, crafted with sophistication and intricacy, story-wise at least.

Tortured by memories of his unrequited want for his (now-dead) partner, Simon Dunn has decided he’s done with the covert world of espionage, arms-dealing and undercover roles. Until he suddenly finds himself blackmailed into going back for yet another mission with a painfully naive new partner who’s geeky and a blond bombshell who’s only of use in the robotics field and nothing more. As always, there’s the instant-lust factor…at least more obviously on Simon’s part as he tests and punishes her simultaneously for his own unflagging desire and under the pretext that she should be ready for a job she has never been and never will be ready for as a field operative.

And therein lies the problem. My only gripe – and it’s a big one – lies with its characters that I honestly thought broke this book.

In short, Cassis and Simon stretch the limits of my ability to play along as their antics move from the hostile to the ridiculous. Cassie’s naïveté and eagerness to please just seemed completely out of place – the book acknowledges this as such but it gets too painfully awkward to keep up with her need for approval -; her pairing with controlling, brutish Simon (who suddenly feels the need to protect this simple geek genius?!) is a doubly bewildering one especially after she quite idiotically reasons that becoming his lover for real will give them the connection she craves. It’s hard to like this weak, harebrained heroine and even harder to accept that Simon’s sudden love for her. Cassie is wrongly placed in a role she should never have been in the first place and by the end of the book, I’m even more convinced that pairing should never even have been, period.

two-stars