Publisher: Lyrical Press

Still Burning by Leora Gonzales

Still Burning by Leora GonzalesStill Burning by Leora Gonzales
Series: Braving the Heat, #3
Published by Lyrical Press on 28th May 2019
Pages: 227
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two-stars

Sasha Kendall grew up in a family of firefighters. So when she falls hard for Jack Turner, her brother’s best friend and fellow firefighter, everyone's thrilled. But when her brother is killed in the line of duty, Sasha knows she can’t handle another loss. Jack will have to choose between her and his career . . .

Jack knew Sasha was meant for him right away—the same way he knew he was meant to fight fires and saves lives. Letting Sasha go was the hardest thing he’d ever had to do. But even though she left town, he’s never given up hope that heat between them still burns . . .

Four years later, Jack and Sasha meet again at a friend’s wedding—older, wiser, and hotter than ever. Will they flame out, or do they finally have what it takes to keep their love alive for good . . .

Coming straight into this particular story without having read the previous books, the setup of the ‘Still Burning’ isn’t difficult to grasp: there’s the death of a firefighter, some grieving and a breakup—written and done in short order in the first chapter before the story picks up again 4 years later.

And this is on me, really, not having realised that this was a second-chance romance that had iffy conditions surrounding a pairing’s reunion when I requested this book. Mea culpa.

But I suppose having a protagonist rub you the wrong way didn’t bode well for the entire read at all.

There just weren’t enough emotional peaks and troughs in what I thought could have been a turbulent, heartfelt reunion between a couple who split so suddenly. I get it—the death of a loved one can make people do things. Stupid things or otherwise. But I didn’t feel it too much here, sadly, except for the gross injustice Sasha dealt Jack when she upped and left and cut off all frantic contact with him the the next 4 years, without much that she needed to make up for even when they finally met again.

That Jack suddenly muscled back in on her date out of the blue in 4 years, asking to try again, without the breathless feels, the awkwardness and the backlog of pain and angst took me by surprise for starters, at how…too easy it all went. And having come across as rash, selfish and impulsive after breaking up with Jack over the fact that Sasha couldn’t date another firefighter, to the extent where it was ‘easier’ to suffer a break up than risk him dying, playing the non-committal woman the second time around who just didn’t do enough to fight for a relationship made it all tank for me. I mean, should that poor man really do all the work here?

Throw in some odd and perplexing time jumps past their reunion, the unresolved arson case, and the unwelcome intrusion of a psychotic ex-girlfriend to stir up more drama and I was about done with the bumpy reading experience. That Jack hadn’t moved on properly, so to speak, with an insane woman stalking him and creating more drama—using the villainous ex as a plot device to steer the reader’s attention to how Sasha’s the only one for him-didn’t sit well at all.

Needless to say, ‘Still Burning’ didn’t work out as a good read for me. I’d hoped I was getting a brother’s-best-friend kind of trope, but hey, failing to read the blurb properly after the initial excitement of seeing another firefighter story? That’s my fault.

two-stars

Grave Attraction by Lori Sjoberg

Grave Attraction by Lori SjobergGrave Attraction by Lori Sjoberg
Series: Grave, #4
Published by Lyrical Press on January 5th 2016
Pages: 320
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three-stars

He’s a reaper who works by the book. But a sexy shifter will have him changing the course of fate just to be with her—if a killer doesn’t get to her first...
After four years as a reaper, helping souls cross into the afterlife is a job Adam Javorski has finally gotten used to. But when he arrives at the site of a serial killer’s latest victim, finding a living—not to mention gorgeous—hostage is the last thing he expects. The young woman captivates him in a way no one ever has—so much so, he breaks rule number one by helping her escape…
Marlena Walther doesn’t remember the man who rescued her. But when she sees Adam again, she recognizes him instantly as her soul mate. While the two work together to track down a killer determined to finish what he started, their undeniable attraction draws them even closer. Now Adam is the only one who can protect Marlena from a vengeful murderer—if he’s willing to sacrifice everything for her.

The sudden expansion of the reaper universe to include demons, witches and other funny paranormal entities took me by surprise in this latest book by Lori Sjoberg, but it’s has kept the story arc interesting at least. Ms. Sjoberg deals with reincarnation here and I was intrigued to learn about Adam’s so-called past, even if the mechanics of the actual (re)birth aren’t exactly made that clear. I actually found Marlena a more interesting character to read about than Adam who simply seems to be the paranormal version of a typical male lead who sleeps around and gives it all up when he finds a ‘connection’ with the special one. As a pair, they’re passably interesting, but not as explosive and edgy as Dmitri and Gwen had been in the last book.

three-stars

Diamond Legacy by Monica McCabe

Diamond Legacy by Monica McCabeDiamond Legacy by Monica McCabe
Published by Lyrical Press on July 7th 2015
Pages: 230
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four-stars

Africa–where diamonds are the currency of the weapons trade, and trust is the only option between two strangers...  Miranda Parrish is a world-renowned veterinarian specialist with expertise in endangered species. She’s fearless and will go anywhere an animal is in need. But when she journeys to Katanga, an animal sanctuary in the heart of Botswana, she lands in the middle of a blood diamond smuggling operation. And there’s only one man who can help her….   Special agent, Matt Bennett’s parents were murdered by a ruthless arms dealer when he was fourteen. He’s devoted his life to avenging their deaths and ending the cycle of violence threatening southern Africa. Undercover at Katanga, he clashes with Miranda. He’s never met a woman so stubborn, who’ll let nothing stand in the way of what she believes in. And he’ll let no one come between him and his vengeance.   Matt and Miranda will have to work together if they want to save Katanga, and both of their lives, before it’s too late.


Incredibly entertaining high adventure read, written with off-beat humour. Diamond Legacy is such a standout because of the way it differs from the usual romantic suspense genre in plot, narration and characters, exotic locale and circumstances not withstanding. I was reminded a little of Gerald Durrell’s animal stories and the anthropomorphic style of writing, which all served to add to my amusement and entertainment for 2 days straight. Throw in a funny, hunky undercover agent and a never-say-die animal dentist and I’m sold.

four-stars