Series: The MacKenzie Family

Scorch by Liliana Hart

Scorch by Liliana HartScorch by Liliana Hart
Series: The MacKenzie Family #12
Published by Nla Digital LLC on July 26th 2016
Pages: 168
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Shane MacKenzie’s life has been turned upside down. He’s lost his command, his identity, and his will to live. He’s a dead man walking, and the only thing that makes waking up in the morning worthwhile is knowing he’ll come head to head with the one woman who gets his blood moving.
Doctor Lacy Shaw spent years as a medic on the battlefield. She’s seen things that can never be erased from her memory, and when Declan MacKenzie gives her the opportunity to work for MacKenzie Security, she decides any job has to be better for the body and soul than watching soldiers die in a war zone. That’s until she meets Shane MacKenzie and realizes she’s never fought so hard for one person to live.

This is one of the harder reviews I’ve had to write. The anticipation of waiting for a book that’s nearly two years in the making can be excruciating, not least because of the expectation that it can’t be anything but a blockbuster that a reader never forgets. Essentially, book disappointment isn’t an option. But what if it is?

‘Scorch’ is that type of book which I thought could be so much more.

A lot of the first few chapters is repetitive: an amalgamation of key scenes from previous books that are filled out, explained and set-up so we get Shane’s love ‘em and leave ‘em lifestyle – but do I really need to read about him having graphic sex with another woman? – as he juggles being a SEAL commander at the top of his game to the point where he sacrifices his leg to save someone. And perhaps this is where my opinion will be an unpopular one (what’s new?) – I thought it fairly unnecessary because I’d expected the story to be the focus on his new life and his PTSD, wrapped up in a new, romantic suspense case.

To some extent, it is. But that’s still too little for me. I felt that rehashing the previous scenes brought a pitfall of its own: several inconsistencies messing up the timeline in my head and piling on more confusion instead. And these discrepancies are clear; I had to re-read some portions of the MacKenzie books just to get back in the game for this. An instance (out of several) is a scene in previous books which hinted at a potential separation as Lacey was called back to active duty and Declan asking if Shane could live without her, but we’re told in ‘Scorch’ that it’s a different situation altogether with no whiff of separation – which made me wonder if Liliana Hart had several different ideas about Shane and Lacy when she conceived the plot and changed it as she wrote this book.

The result is an unevenly paced book, with a second half that rushes into sex, love declarations, and a climax (pun sort of intended) that felt like a cross between robocop, syfy prosthetics and special ops remade with a super doctor/soldier female lead, up until an end that seemed very unfinished.

The inconsistencies aside and other missing scenes which I felt were crucial to developing the story, I actually found myself finishing the book alarmingly quickly, and felt flatly short-changed because I wanted much more. I wanted the to be gutted by pain of Shane’s rehab, the angst of his entire world upending, the pain of his mental adjustment of looking at his doctor with new eyes rather than she was attractive because of her amethyst eyes; I wanted the deep POV of his elation as he got back on his feet rather than be told that he simply had an ‘attitude readjustment’ when he put on his new prosthetic leg.

All these felt glossed over as Hart simply wrote about several key milestones in his difficult recovery. I wanted more conflict between Lacy’s and Shane’s own ideals but seemed to only see philosophising platitudes instead of the rawness I craved. I wanted a couple so solid it would take more than a severe storm to shake them, but how could that happen, when the roots of their bond didn’t seem to go that deep?

I could go on, but I think the point’s made. In short, so much is told, not shown. And I yearned for more of the latter.

That said, it isn’t to say that the story is a turn-off for me; I did like the idea that not every character is safe from harm and that there is a clear, ongoing case of war declared on the MacKenzies by various jealous parties after their toys and skills. I just wished I could say I’d gotten a hangover so great that I had to stay off books for a few days, which, unfortunately isn’t the case at all.


Crave by Liliana Hart

Crave by Liliana HartCrave by Liliana Hart
Series: The MacKenzie Family, #11
Published by CreateSpace on March 31st 2015
Pages: 216
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When Evangeline Lockwood witnesses the murder of a prominent politician, the killers will do everything they can to make sure she can't testify. Since Evangeline's father was once Deputy Director of the CIA, he knows just who to call to protect his only daughter—MacKenzie Security.
The last thing Cal Colter wants is to get stuck with a babysitting job, but Declan MacKenzie has assigned him the task and he has no choice but to accept. Cal especially doesn't know what to do with the quirky computer nerd who covers her lush body in baggy clothes and her stunning violet eyes behind glasses. But if Cal knows anything, it's women, and he's just as determined to peel back the layers of this unusual woman as he is to keep her alive.

Liliana Hart writes more than decently but ‘Crave’ is a disappointment in so many ways, not least because it felt like a novel with its spine and half of its narrative ripped off. There is a threadbare plot and unfinished business between 2 childhood friends, but what went wrong between them was never really addressed properly before the sexual attraction and the sex scenes took over.

How, for example, had Cal Colton always ‘loved’ Evie when he actually married another woman? The insta-love proclamations came too fast, too soon and I simply felt too frustrated with the lack of character development – let’s not even go into depth and some basic grammar and spelling mistakes that should have been eliminated in the editing process – give this book a higher rating.

‘Crave’ seems to be too overly concerned with furthering Shane Mackenzie’s story (yes, I’m impatiently waiting for that, though I’m afraid the same thing would happen with Shane’s story too) and in the process, compromised so much when it didn’t give Cal and Evie the justice and attention they deserve.


Secrets and Satin by Liliana Hart

Secrets and Satin by Liliana HartSecrets and Satin by Liliana Hart
Series: The MacKenzie Family #8
Published by Smashwords Edition on February 9th 2013
Pages: 216
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No one knows heartbreak like Jade Jax. After losing her husband to a tragic death, she doesn’t believe love can happen twice. But after years of living a half-life without her husband, her body starts to waken again, and needs she’d forgotten come to the surface.
Max Devlin never thought Jade would want him outside of his dreams, but fate plays a helping hand when they’re thrust into a high stakes mission, protecting each other’s backs like old times. Max decides he’s finally ready to end his bachelor ways, but he learns quickly that happily-ever-after isn't always possible. Because Jade has no desire to ever love again. Not when she knows how painful it can be.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve picked up a book uncertainly, only to be more than pleasantly surprised by it. Max’s and Jade’s story is one of those times.

I’d rate this higher if not for Liliana’s Hart’s disturbing tendency to have all her heroes into anal play. I love the conventional smexy scenes as much as any lass would, and thankfully there’s a lot less bdsm over here and everything else that gives me the willies – just not my cup of tea – but I particularly loved Max’s utter devotion and unwavering feelings. About high time we have a hero who just isn’t afraid to be a coward (and not an idiot/tortured playboy with the typical excuses of playing the field) and a kickass heroine who can be persuaded to love again.