I’m over at Dear Author with a review of The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins. The hero, Cash, is so adorable. I just loved him.
Monthly Mini Review
Alex by Sawyer Bennett – C+ I’ve had this book on my TBR for some time. I bought the second in the series when it was on special recently and thought I ought to start with the first one. I was a little meh about it at the very start. The writing style seemed a little too simplistic and on the didactic side and Sutton was just too perfect. But then there was a section from Alex’s POV where he was remembering a particulary awful thing his father did to him and it got me right in the feels. The mid section of the story was a little stronger but Alex wasn’t that much of an asshole most of the time, depsite his warnings to the contrary. In the end, it fizzled a bit, with the wish-fulfillment and sparkly rainbows of the side plots which felt unrealistic. Alex had a whiplash fast change from “I’m falling for her” to “I have to break up with her because reasons” to “what a doofus I was, I want her back”. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me from a narrative perspective. I also wanted a lot more about Sutton’s and Alex’s drug awareness programme. Sutton was supposed to be giving the team owners a weekly report about whether Alex was behaving himself, but if she did any of that, it didn’t make its way into the book.
Why I read it: I saw some buzz about this one on Twitter, including that the hero of the Tessa Bailey book was a virgin, so I pre-ordered it.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) OFF BASE: Kenna and Beck By Tessa Bailey
A welcome home he never expected…and will never forget…
When Kenna Sutton is tasked with driving home newly returned Beck “True Blue” Collier, she expects the strategic Army mastermind to be a pasty number cruncher. Never at a loss for words, Kenna is nonetheless rendered speechless by the gorgeous, inexperienced and tightly-wound Army major that lands in her passenger seat. Outraged by Beck’s lack of a welcome home after seven long years overseas, Kenna takes matters into her own hands, giving Beck something he’s only ever fantasized about in his bunk.
Beck has never shied away from a test of will and Kenna gives new meaning to the word challenge. One problem? Kenna’s father is the lieutenant general presenting Beck with the Silver Star and Beck is determined to treat Kenna with the respect she deserves, even if her eyes beg Beck to act out his most secret desires with her. Desires he’s always been told were the work of the devil. But how long can one lonely, starving man hope to resist the woman he craves?
What worked for me (and what didn’t): While Beck is a virgin, he’s not shy and he’s not reticent. (In my opinion, this is the best kind of virgin hero!) He had been dating a girl from his hometown who was a pastor’s daughter and they’d decided to “wait”. When she broke up with him while he was deployed, he didn’t have the inclination to change his status and so he ended up a 26 year old virgin.
Kenna’s mother had a reputation on base as a “loose woman” and it amuses Kenna to dress in short skirts and tight tops but never, ever, put out on base. Her dad is Lieutenant General Sutton and no soldier has been prepared to try his luck with the beautiful daughter of the commanding officer – although they like very much to look. Kenna gets her itch scratched off base when the need arises. She has a complicated relationship with her (now divorced) parents. She has never measured up to their expectations, although she has mostly moved beyond acting out for attention. When she picks Beck up per her father’s request, she is struck by how strongly she feels about the fact that there are no family or friends welcoming him home. It doesn’t hurt that he’s built and gorgeous but I think what strikes her the most is Beck’s almost completely successful efforts to look her in the eyes and not look her over. In fact, she makes her best efforts to try and draw his eyes to her chest and behind so he can be neatly categorised as “just like all the other guys”. It so happens she gives him a special “welcome home”, but the emotional connection between them scares her and she rabbits.
Why I read it: I bought it after positive reviews from trusted bloggers.
Note: This book was previously published by Ellora’s Cave under the same title with the author’s pen name being Zannie Adams. This is the self-published version which has been “substantially revised and re-edited”.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Find the strongest man there. Give yourself to him in return for protection. It’s the only way you’ll ever survive.
Convicted of a minor crime, Riana is sentenced to a prison planet—a dark primitive hold filled with convicts vying for power. Her only chance of survival is with Cain, a mysterious loner who has won his territory in the prison through intelligence and brute strength. Sex is all she has to offer, so she uses it. She’s under no delusions here. No one is ever released, and no one ever escapes. Survival is all she can hope for—until Cain.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Set in a future dystopian world where the galaxy is ruled by a corrupt and somewhat amorphous “Coalition”, this novella certainly packs a punch. Thrust into a prison where there are no rules and it’s very much survival of the fittest, Riana gets a piece of advice by a sorta-friendly guard: “Find the strongest man there. Give yourself to him in return for protection.” The guards don’t really guard. They don’t spend time in the hold really. There is no patrol to keep order. They drop the prisoners in and that’s about it. Every day food gets dropped down a kind of chute and there is a fight to see who gets to eat and how much. Even though Riana is no pushover, she is no match for tens of males who forgot the rules ages ago. She might have been able to hold her own against one, maybe two, but not against all of them and not for long.
Why I read it: I was supplied with a review copy by Audible.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Tanner Layne and Raquel Merrick fell in love young, hard and fast and both of them knew a beautiful life they thought would be forever.
Until Rocky left Layne, no explanation, no going back.
Layne escapes The ‘Burg only to come back years later because his ex-wife has hooked herself to the town jerk and Layne needs to make sure his sons get raised right. Layne manages to avoid Rocky but when Layne gets three bullets drilled into him while investigating a dirty cop, he can’t do that because Rocky stops avoiding Layne. They make a deal to work together to expose the dirty cop but they have no idea the strength of their enduring attraction or the sheer evil at work in The ‘Burg.
As Tanner Layne and Raquel Merrick play their game and dance around the pull that draws them together, Layne has to discover the dark secrets buried so deep in Rocky’s heart she doesn’t even know they’re there at the same time untangle a sinister web of crime so abhorrent it has to be stopped… at all costs.
And to do it, Layne has to enlist everyone, including his ex-CIA mentor, Rocky’s detective brother, the town’s unpredictable informant and Layne’s two teenage sons all the while stopping Rocky from doing something crazy and keeping their game secret so Layne won’t get himself dead.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Happily for hero-centric readers like me, Golden Trail is told almost entirely from Layne’s (third person) POV. Perhaps surprisingly, given that I am a hero-centric reader, it took me a while to realise it (doh!). Maybe I was distracted by the fact that when the book opens, Tanner Layne is in the hospital, having been shot three times. Raquel “Rocky” Merrick Astley is sitting by his bed. 18 years earlier she had left him. They’d been happy for three years together and then, suddenly, she left. No explanation, no take backs.
I’m over at AudioGals with a review of One Wish by Robyn Carr, narrated by Therese Plummer. Robyn Carr and I have broken up. We’ll always have Virgin River, Robyn.