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Jax by Cristin Harber

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 14th October 2017
Jax by Cristin HarberJax by Cristin Harber
Series: Titan #9
Published by Mill Creek Press on October 10th 2017
Pages: 258
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two-half-stars

Seven is an enigma. A motorcycle club princess. The daughter of a notorious gangster. The best friend of the deputy mayor. A coffee shop owner. The single mom of two young, adopted children. She’s colorful, in every way possible—from her attitude to her piercings and bright pink hair—and she’s a woman on a mission with the power to help broker a clean break between a powerful motorcycle club and a South American drug cartel. But not all players are ready for the game to change, including the ones she can’t see like the CIA. Jax Michaelson has a bad attitude and a good shot. The former Navy SEAL has been on Titan’s problem list for running his mouth since the day he showed up for work, but he does a hell of a job, and they’d never let him go. Call him cocky, that’s fine, because then you’d have to admit he’s the best at anything and everything—except diplomacy. When Titan is forced into the seedy drug world filled with cartel glitz and Harley-riding MCs, Seven and her family become an unexpected bargaining chip right after she and Jax find a way to stand each other—in bed. Will friends become lovers? Or are they too far gone to be opposites that attract? Is Jax nothing but a bad boy who leaves her hoping for a military hero when the burden of living as Mayhem royalty backfires and her children disappear.

One consistent thing about Cristin Harber’s characters is that they do tend to behave in ways I’ll never expect. Jax and Seven are no exception to this general rule that I’ve come to learn of the Titan gang; neither is the direction that Harber takes in this book that completely surprised me. Characters whom you thought you can’t warm to can suddenly turn around and show that the notion of ‘heroism’ doesn’t always conform to some pre-determined idea that you have…though as much as I hate to say it, the opposite applies too.

Titan’s ops thus far have been more paramilitary covert ops, so when Jax’s story came wrapped up in a MC’s dealings, I couldn’t say I was entirely enthusiastic about this turn, but it’s clearly my own sub-genre preferences speaking here. Jax, the known arse and the bastard-to-go-to in the past few Titan books, had a story and I was itching to uncover it, and this itch surpassed even my general dislike for MC stories.

The result is an MC-centric book that I couldn’t really get into but for Jax’s and Seven’s dance around each other and the fact that they aren’t quite the stereotypical characters I tend to read in such stories. There is action, of course and Jared Westin’s mobilisation of his Titan troops is always an awesome thing to read about, but that only comes much later…past the talking, posturing and the laborious sifting through truth and lies.

Above all, Jax made the story for me, as self-titled as this books is anyway, I didn’t expect anything different when Harber fleshed him out to be a protagonist who was so much more than his crusty, abrasive surface. I couldn’t quite say the same for the rest of the characters, who were simply varying shades of unlikable. In fact, I cheered Jax for giving it stubbornly to the Titan team who admittedly hadn’t been on his side to begin with and Jared/Sugar—a couple whom I’d adored when their book came out—behaved in fact, like idiots for most of this, tarnishing the sheen of the halo I’d initially put on them. Soon enough, it got just as hard to like Seven, whom I felt simply needed to grow a spine where Jax was concerned because she couldn’t decide where her loyalties were going to lie when it was all said and done.

‘Jax’ is a very different type of Titan book for which I needed a huge effort to suspend disbelief. That Jax’s so-called mortal enemy was dealt with all-too-easily—he was flitted in and out, appearing to play an important role but didn’t, and realising that he was ultimately, another plot device to help alter other characters’ perception of Jax tanked the read for me.

But I’ll reiterate that my own response to the plot and characters is just that—a catalogue of issues that just didn’t work for me, which simply outweighed Jax as the shining star of his own book and explains my half-hearted rating of it.

two-half-stars

Locke and Key by Cristin Harber

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 27th May 2017
Locke and Key by Cristin HarberLocke and Key by Cristin Harber
Series: Titan #8
Published by Mill Creek Press on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 312
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two-stars

THE STOIC SPECIAL FORCES OPERATOR There’s only one person to blame for darkening the last years of Locke Oliver’s military career: Cassidy Noble. And damn if he doesn’t have to save her from the side of a frozen mountain. Even after the job is done, he can’t shake the woman from his thoughts. He blames her for the deaths in his Army unit so many years ago, and he’s not ready to let that go. It’s driving him to the point of distraction, and now his Titan Group boss says to get his act together or get out.
THE FEISTY, FALLEN REPORTER Cassidy is a disgraced journalist, once accused of treason—Or she’s an American hero. It depends on who you ask. She’s on a mission to rebuild her name and started with a simple question but discovered a complex web of spies and possible human trafficking. Titan Group believes in her. Locke does not. Until he can’t deny the truth any longer about the past or what she’s uncovered in her investigation.
BECOME AN INSEPARABLE TEAM Cassidy volunteers to go undercover. Locke would do anything to stay by her side as she slips into the network and is sold to the highest bidder. All is going right until everything goes wrong. Nothing is as they expect, including falling in love with the woman he thought he hated.

It took me an extraordinarily long time to go through this book that I’m actually wondering whether it’s sort of the end of the Titan series for me right now.

Having been a fan of Titan in the early days, I wondered how Cristin Harber was going to go on with the series after Jared Westin’s core team had found their respective HEAs. ‘Locke and Key’ is a book past that particular series arc but I’ve been struggling since the chapter closed on the core team.

I’ve admittedly found myself lukewarm and half-hearted about the Titan series after Parker’s book came out as a dud for me but the biggest problem in ‘Locke and Key’ was that I couldn’t find any character likeable, despite them having been fantastic protagonists in their own time in previous books who have since undergone some personality transplants. Here, they came across as volatile idiots lacking compassion or any sense of kinship and that famous ‘brotherhood-in-arms’ spirit which I tend to read about in RS books seemed sorely lacking here. Instead, what I saw was loads of peacock strutting, macho posturing and too many over-the-top type of reactions that felt like petty and unnecessary squabbles.

In essence, the volatility of the characters’ behaviours resulted in my own volatile reactions to difference scenes and dialogues. There were chapters that made me think I could get behind some characters and other chapters that had me rolling my eyes and ready to give up the book. The only things that kept me going were the secondary characters whose fight Titan inevitably became a part of to reunite their family and I read on, cheering for them alone.

Obviously, it’s one of those books that grated on me, but I’m hoping at least, that the overall sense of dissatisfaction with the series might pass. Whether there’ll still be Titan or Delta in my to-be-read list however, well, that’s still something that’s up in the air for me.

two-stars

Black Dawn by Cristin Harber

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 14th July 2015
Black Dawn by Cristin HarberBlack Dawn by Cristin Harber
Series: Titan #6
Published by Mill Creek Press on July 14th 2015
Pages: 288
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four-stars

Parker Black wants the one woman he shouldn’t have—his buddy’s girl. She's sweet and smart, but clueless about how deep Parker lives in Titan’s virtual world. Everything is controlled. Chaos is mastered. Black and white data and risk analysis. That is the way he understands his world, how he plays his role to keep Titan teams alive.
But he’s wrong.
About everything.
Lexi Dare lives two lives. She’s an unhappy fiancée stuck in a spiraling relationship, unsure how she ended up with a ring on her finger and an abuser in her bed. But she’s also elusive. Elite. A master hacker playing deadly stakes.
When the lines blur and the truth comes out, Lexi’s only shot at survival is the trust of her rival—her equal—before it’s too late.

Going into Parker Black’s world is like stepping into hacker central and BlackDawn, his virtual codename – unbeknownst to him – has actually been an anchor for another hacker named Silver Chaos for the past decade. But Silver Chaos is in fact, Lexi Dare, a woman who in real life, is a victim of abuse, and in the small world of Titan, Lexi also happens to be the fiancée of Parker’s friend Matt.

Other Titan characters flit in and out of the story, but Black Dawn is really, a step away from an actual Titan op and into the fluid ethical boundaries of hacking and coding, a world that Parker has always believed is black and white. Parker’s professional and personal lives are set on a collision course when Lexi stumbles into his life; discovering her true virtual identity pushes them into unimaginable danger just as his attraction to her spikes along the way.

I thought this latest Titan installment was just entertaining as the previous Titan books have been, even if the action is over-the-top and require way more than a tad bit of suspension of disbelief, even if there’re few principles of hacking and coding that I truly understand. Instead, I’ve always been drawn to Titan’s quirky characters, their funny names and their antics, especially the alpha men who are strangely unafraid to fall into their heroines’ arms and call time on their bachelor status. Parker Black might be the latest, but hopefully not last to do so, if his story truly signals the end of the Titan series.

four-stars

Hart Attack by Cristin Harber

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 19th November 2014
Hart Attack by Cristin HarberHart Attack by Cristin Harber
Series: Titan, #5
Published by Mill Creek Press on November 18th 2014
Pages: 268
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four-stars

Outside of Titan Group, there are few people that Roman Hart would die for. He’s a soldier, a protector, and he’s haunted that one of the people he should’ve been able to protect didn’t let him. That was years ago, and now a hardened heart and a cocky attitude are his impenetrable shields, until one woman—one challenge—drives him to distraction.
On the outside, Beth Tourne has it all. Luxury car, gorgeous condo, and a job partying with the rich and famous. It’s a plush CIA cover, but she wants more. Anything for an adrenaline rush that can override her guilty numbness and let her forget the tragedy she never saw coming.
Their scars make them perfect operatives. Their mirrored pasts give them deep, wounded reasons to stay alone. But the more they ignore the tension, the more vulnerable they become. Survival means trust. In one another, behind closed doors, and on the job. The only way they’re making it out alive is if they find peace while waging a war.

The Titan Boys typically occupy a space in my head that’s between the categories ‘crack’ and ‘Alpha male superstore’ and Cristin Harber writes in a way that painfully reminds you these men are solidly planted in fiction la-la land than in reality.


Still, they’re enjoyable as hell. I’ve always liked how Cristin Harber’s men never shy away or run from their developing feelings and we never quite see it more clearly here, in Hart Attack.

Roman Hart’s pain over losing his sister Nic isn’t easily brushed away as Cash Garrison’s acceptance and serves as a brutal reminder why he would never let anyone close again. Beth Tourne was a flighty party girl the last I remembered of her in Nicola’s book until we learn that she has been in deep cover for years – a cover that is the only thing that helps her go on day to day after her husband’s suicide. And the push-pull, innocent game that they have been playing goes to hell in a basket when an assignment asks way more of what Beth is willing to give. While I don’t claim to understand the shady dealings of the CIA and Nukes and Drugs (Ms Harber doesn’t really clarify the sequence of events or their details too clearly) in Hart Attack, what really comes through clearly is Beth’s and Roman’s dancing around each other until something gives, big time.

I did enjoy reading this, though the wacky dialogue (a custom-made Rocket Launcher called The Jared?!) stumped me from time to time and the epilogue was like Santa coming early with several storks as presents.

four-stars
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