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Too Close to Call by Tessa Bailey

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ New Adult/ Reviews/ Sports 18th June 2017
Too Close to Call by Tessa BaileyToo Close to Call by Tessa Bailey
Series: Romancing the Clarksons #3.5
Published by Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated on June 13th 2017
Pages: 136
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four-stars

All-American wide receiver Kyler Tate’s life is about to change. A fairytale college career skyrocketed him to the NFL draft. Adoration and opportunity are thrown in his direction wherever he goes, thanks to being chosen in the first round by the Los Angeles Rage.

None of the accolades mean anything, though, without his high school sweetheart, Bree Sutton, by his side. Four years ago, she walked away from Kyler, choosing a quiet life over the flash and notoriety his career would someday bring.

Now he’s back in their Indiana hometown, refusing to leave for Los Angeles without her. Demanding she give their life together a shot. Her heart never stopped bleeding for the love of her life, but Bree’s decision was final. Too bad their wild attraction has only been amplified by their separation, and Kyler won’t quit until Bree is wearing his ring.

Kyler burst onto the scene in Brooks’s book and immediately I knew there was a story there that I wanted to read. ‘Too Close to Call’ is one that got me, not just because of the devotion of this soon-to-be football star, but his single-mindedness about wanting to get the love of his life back once and for all, despite Bree having ended it all 4 years ago.

With the tons of manwhores in college sports peppering the books these days in search of commitment-free hookups, Kyler stands out like some shining gem in the mud because he could never let Bree go. I did sort of wish that he’d tried to get on with it given the way she’d so callously broke things off with the intention of never seeing him again, just as I wished Bree had more gumption and chutzpah to fight for their relationship the way he did. That she’d stayed on the fence the whole time up until the end made me wonder about if she thought Kyler less important than her supposed duty to the family coupled with the flimsy excuse that she was only holding him back.

My only complaint really is how Tessa Bailey manages to make every hero of hers into an alpha, dirty-talking male though…to the point where they become indistinguishable in the way they burn up the sheets. Somehow the couple in question lose their distinct identities when they finally have sex (it inevitably ends up with a woman panting and begging and a man talking her ear off) only to regain these after the heights of orgasm are reached. Kyler/Bree in this case, could be Elliott/Peggy or even Ginger/Derek or anyone else and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference, which is a far cry from the earnest, determined college student I first encountered in ‘Too Hard to Forget’.

Yet ‘Too Close to Call’ is short, rather satisfying read nonetheless, perhaps only because I thought Kyler deserved what he searched for all these years. At least it has the straightforward sort of clarity that I couldn’t quite get from this series from the very start, and that’s good enough for me.

four-stars

Never Surrender by Kaylea Cross

Posted in Action/Adventure/ Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 23rd March 2017
Never Surrender by Kaylea CrossNever Surrender by Kaylea Cross
Series: Bagram Special Ops #6
on March 21st 2017
Pages: 128
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four-stars

As the Bagram crew assembles at a guest ranch in Montana to celebrate the wedding of two of its own, everyone expects a fun week-long vacation enjoying some much-needed downtime together. But in the picturesque foothills bordering the ranch, a hidden danger lurks.
When the guys stumble upon evidence of a domestic terrorist cell during the bachelor party, it puts everyone directly in the crosshairs of a lethal enemy determined to remain unseen, unleashing a wave of danger every bit as deadly as what they faced back overseas. Then a shocking revelation from the past comes to light, and it may be the key to winning the fight. Now they must come together as a team to eliminate the threat, before they wind up gathered for a funeral instead of a wedding.

I tore through ‘Never Surrender’ in the space of a few hours as I was reminded why I love military/paramilitary romances to much. This is just how much I’ve missed the Bagram crew, back in the day when Kaylea Cross was hammering this series out that made me fall in love with each and every character in it.

Wade/Erin’s wedding isn’t the joyful, peaceful reunion it’s supposed to be, but Cross brings us through the action through Ace and Ryan’s POVs – another hoot of a couple in the series – and I must say there are thrills and (some rather unrealistic) spills to come in it, with Ace’s granny taking centre stage in several scenes. It’s hilarious in parts, breathtaking in others and I’d say, a worthwhile read all around. My enjoyment of course, stems from revisiting this beloved cast of characters again, as I ate up every interaction between all of them…which I miss so much.

‘Never Surrender’ brought me back to Cross’s ‘glory days’ where military thrillers were her thing. It isn’t that her HRT or DEA Fast series is disappointing, but many of those books do feel repetitive and sometimes tedious as Cross looked alarmingly stripped of ideas. It’s good to finally say that this book – the Mackenzies were peripheral in the whole plot – brought back a rush that I’d long forgotten.

four-stars

The Only One by Lauren Blakely

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 9th December 2016
The Only One by Lauren BlakelyThe Only One by Lauren Blakely
Published by Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated on December 6th 2016
Pages: 140
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one-star

Let’s say there was this guy. And he gave you the most mind-blowing night of sex in your life. And you never saw him again.Until ten years later.Now, it turns out he’s the ONLY ONE in all of Manhattan whose restaurant is available the night of my charity’s gala. The trouble is, he doesn’t recognize me.

***This woman I’m working with is so damn alluring. The first time I set eyes on her, I’m captivated and I can’t get her out of my mind. Even if it’s risky to tango with someone I’m working with, she’s a risk I’m willing to take.The trouble is, she won’t give me the time of day.But I’m determined to change that.

Some books are a hit for people, a complete miss for a very, very small minority – the latter group of which I clearly belong to. I’ve enjoyed a few of Lauren Blakely’s books this year, but this one turned it right around and into the pits for me.

The second-chance reunion trope has always been a tricky one for me to swallow hook, link and sinker unless the circumstances that led to separation, the reunion as well as what the characters did during that time are written ‘ideally’. But throw a playboy, womanising chef in the mix who whored around as his fame rocketed (who suddenly feels it’s easy to give up other women after seeing the woman he’s supposedly always wanted) however, and I was ready to toss the story to the side, even if an honest mistake led to the split.

Suddenly, Penny and Gabriel are soulmates after the brief deception goes by, and they are two people who would never look at others again…simply because they had the time of their lives in a very short 3-day affair a decade ago. It was painfully ridiculous to me (clearly I lack a romantic bone in my jaded body?), exacerbated by my own issues with womanisers and female characters’ inability to keep their quivering body in line when a hot man they’ve compared everyone else to walks past. Gabriel’s charm, so much so that it’s embedded into his identity as the sexiest chef who has droves of women after him (which he clearly takes advantage of), comes across as sleazy rather than endearing. That he tries to deny his reputation in one instant, then acknowledges it in another makes him all veneer with little depth for me. I couldn’t see much past their lust for each other, let alone accept the proposal of marriage after 2 months together…when a decade of other people just couldn’t do it for both of them.

Lauren Blakely has writing chops, no doubt. But in the attempt to elevate Penny’s and Gabriel’s connection, almost beyond the bounds of reality to the descriptions of how they make each other feel, all it merely did was to make me dislike the book a lot more…to my chagrin.

one-star

Delta: Rescue by Cristin Harber

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 13th March 2016
Delta: Rescue by Cristin HarberDelta: Rescue: A MacKenzie Family Novella by Cristin Harber
Series: Delta #2.5
on February 15th 2016
Pages: 122
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two-stars

From Liliana Hart's New York Times bestselling MacKenzie family comes a new story by New York Times bestselling author Cristin Harber... When Luke Brenner takes an off-the-books job on the MacKenzie-Delta joint task force, he has one goal: shut down sex traffickers on his personal hunt for retribution. This operation brings him closer than he's ever been to avenge his first love, who was taken, sold, and likely dead. Madeleine Mercier is the daughter of an infamous cartel conglomerate. Their family bleeds money, they sell pleasure, they sell people. She knows no other life, sees no escape, except for one. Maddy is the only person who can take down Papa, when every branch of law enforcement in every country, is on her father's payroll. It's evil. To want to ruin, to murder, her family. But that's what she is. Ruined for a life outside of destroying her father. She can't feel arousal. Has never been kissed. Never felt anything other than disgust for the world that she perpetuates. Until she clashes with a possible mercenary who gives her hope. The hunter versus the virgin. The predator and his prey. When forced together, can enemies resist the urge to run away or destroy one another?

In the mad, mad world of Cristin Harber’s Titan and Delta, very few things make sense in the logical realm, or at least that’s the lesson I’ve come to learn the further and deeper I get into the Titan books. A mercenary meets and falls in lust/love with the virgin daughter of a far-reaching human trafficker, and somehow thinks there is a common ground between his very unnatural addiction to pain and her own special brand of fighting back against her father.

I’ve come to associate these peculiar oddities and plot weirdness only with Ms. Harber: there’re always switchbacks, unpredictable moves and odd behaviour patterns of the characters that I can’t ever put my finger on – and perhaps this is a turn-on for some. Yet the brevity of the book sadly, hugely contributes to the unbelievability of the tale; as much as Ms. Harber’s trademark, distinctive writing helps pad the surreal feel of the story, I was left sceptically scratching my head about Luke and Maddy’s tenuous connection and a plot so fantastically crazy it can only belong in a James Bond spoof.

two-stars

Rush: A MacKenzie Family Novella by Robin Covington

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 7th March 2016
Rush: A MacKenzie Family Novella by Robin CovingtonRush: A MacKenzie Family Novella by Robin Covington
Series: MacKenzie World #1
on February 15th 2016
Pages: 126
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four-stars

From Liliana Hart's New York Times bestselling MacKenzie family comes a new story by USA Today bestselling author Robin Covington... Atticus Rush doesn't really like people. Years in Special Ops and law enforcement showed him the worst of humanity, making his mountain hideaway the ideal place to live. But when his colleagues at MacKenzie Security need him to save the kidnapped young daughter of a U.S. Senator, he'll do it, even if it means working with the woman who broke his heart ...his ex-wife. Lady Olivia Rutledge-Cairn likes to steal things. Raised with a silver spoon and the glass slipper she spent years cultivating a cadre of acquaintances in the highest places. She parlayed her natural gift for theft into a career of locating and illegally retrieving hard-to-find items of value for the ridiculously wealthy. Rush was the one man who tempted her to change her ways...until he caught her and threatened to turn her in. MacKenzie Security has vowed to save the girl. Olivia can find anything or anyone. Rush can get anyone out. As the clock winds down on the girl's life, can they fight the past, a ruthless madman and their explosive passion to get the job done?

Would it even be proper of me to say that Robin Covington does way much more than that many of the other actual Mackenzie novels have failed to do: capture my attention with a kind of breezy, complex writing that the originals couldn’t?

‘Rush’ is brief but intriguing enough, a straight telling of a mission to rescue a senator’s daughter that proves to be the second-chance for a battle-hardened mercenary and a rich thief or sorts and a do-over that both so badly need. Atticus Rush and Olivia Rutledge-Cairn are standouts in their own right, and as I relished seeing Rush finally get on his knees, this odd couple somehow did it for me, despite their apparent incompatibility.

four-stars
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