May Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Rear view of a woman walking into a snow storm in a city, a bright light ahead of herSolar Fury by EA Chance, narrated by Eva Kaminsky – C+ I came across this book recently and saw it was available via Audible Plus with a trusted narrator so I decided to give it a try. The premise was really fascinating; a solar flare causes society to falter and suddenly nothing works anymore. No satellites, no GPS, no phones, no internet. The lead character is Dr. Riley Poole. She’s an orthopaedic surgeon who’s at a conference in Washington DC with her young teenage daughter, Julia, when the solar flare occurs. Riley is a widow with 3 children – that’s right -3. The other two were left at home in Colorado with her parents. The other two children don’t feature strongly in the book, apart from being the motivation for Riley to get home to them. It was also unclear exactly why Riley took Julia with her given that poor Julia had to spend her days in the hotel room while Riley was the conference. They did eat meals together and did some sightseeing after hours but as holidays for a teenager go, it wasn’t ideal. At the conference. Riley meets Dr. Neil Cooper (“Coop”), a respected heart surgeon and they strike up a flirtation. After the solar flare, Riley, Julia and Coop, together with a young girl whose parents are missing, go on the road trying to make it to Riley’s family in Colorado.  Over the course of the book, Coop and Riley become closer and there is a romantic HEA for them by the end. (That’s not really a spoiler – there are 2 other books in the series and the blurb for book 2 makes it obvious.)

I’m not an expert on solar flares but the setup seemed authentic to me and made for an interesting post-apocalyptic premise. But from there, things fell down a bit.

April Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

illustrated cover of a white couple on a bus, he's napping and manspreading and she's kind of embarrassed but smilingSeatmate by Cara Bastone, narrated by Amanda Ronconi, Zachary Webber, Josh Hurley, Carol Monda, Corey Allen, Allyson Johnson, Eric Yves Garcia, Dina Pearlman & Tanya Eby – C I enjoyed the first two audio novellas in the Love Lines series – Call Me Maybe  and Sweet Talk – so I was keen to listen to book 3, Seatmate. Unfortunately I didn’t find it as charming or engaging as the earlier two novellas which both were about the B+ range for me. Seatmate is a different story altogether. Rather than most of the relationship being on the phone as is the case with the earlier two books, this time, most of the plot takes place over about 5-ish hours during a journey between Boston and New York – first by bus and then by other means of transport. This time there is also a full cast rather than just the dual narration of the first two novellas. Seatmate was an almost real-time novella, whereas the other books take place over a greater period. For me, this meant that the boring bits were skipped in the first two books but not so much in the third one.

January Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Top half of the cover is a mist covered lake with a mountain and pine forest in the background, lower half is an underwater view of the lakeThe Girl in the Mist by Kristen Ashley, narrated by Hillary Huber – C Given that under the title is the subheading “A Misted Pines Novel” I assume that this is the first in a new series. Set in the fictional town of Misted Pines in Washington State but otherwise in the same universe as her other contemporary books (Hawk Delgado, Lee Nightingale and Joe Callahan, among others, all have cameos), the story is about a famous actress-turned-author, Delphine LaRue, who moves to the town to get away from a stalker who has kidnapped and raped at least two women and who has committed other crimes against Delphine’s former costars. She buys a house on the lake and has excellent security installed and is being monitored by the FBI and Hawk Delgado.

The closest house to hers belongs to Cade Bohannan and his adult twin sons and his teenaged, daughter.

Both Delphine and Cade are in their early 50s which I liked very much. The romance which develops between them is pretty much lacking in any kind of conflict. They are mutually attracted and while there is a bit of a slow burn, there is nothing keeping them apart and they resolve any potential conflicts very easily and straightforwardly.

(some spoilers follow).

June Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Blue cover with a silhouette of a man and a woman in an embrace - he's leaning over her and she's bending backwards, it is perhaps ambiguous whether she's entirely willing, a large fan is behind their headsA Rogue’s Downfall by Mary Balogh – C+/B- I pick up Mary Balogh’s old Signet Regencies as they become available electronically. Some are better than others. A Rogue’s Downfall is a collection of three novellas which were originally published in multi-author anthologies between 1993 and 1995 and falls somewhere in the middling range overall.

The Anniversary tells the story of a rake who compromised a debutante and ended up married with a baby. Hugh Reardon, Earl of Richmond, feels guilty for his conduct and stays away for most of a year. In fact, he thinks of what he did as rape but it is clear to readers that Amy was entirely willing. I did not find any dubious consent in the story but I did appreciate that he wondered about his conduct and felt guilty and actually named it in his mind as rape. Perversely, if he was as bad as he thought he might have been he’d never have considered the term as applying to him. In any event, he had loved her from afar and has been true to his marriage vows. He longs fro his wife and son and tries to woo her of the course of the day of their “anniversary” (ie the anniversary of sex, not the wedding). While he does not regret their marriage he wishes what led to it had been different and so he tries a version of a do-over. Amy is, understandably, initially suspicious but as she loved him prior to their encounter too, she’s by no means immune to his charms. The story is sweet, full of inappropriate servants and could have been longer but I liked it well enough.

May Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Beach scene - illustrated cover of a Black man laying on a beach towel on the left, with titles in the middle and a Black woman laying on a beach towel on the rightSun of a Beach by Mia Sosa, narrated by Valentina Ortiz & Sean Crisden – C This only-on-audio novella was offered to me for review by Audible Studios. I’ve read and enjoyed Mia Sosa’s books before so I was pretty happy to give it a go. At just over 2 hours of listening time and using a rule of thumb of 30-ish pages to an hour of listening time, I expect a printed version would be maybe 70 or 80 pages at the most. It has an awful lot to do in a very short time and because of that, it did not entirely succeed.

Naomi Reyes works at M-Class magazine which mainly caters to white men. She’s interested in expanding their demographic to be more inclusive and has pitched her boss her ideas. The creative director of the magazine is Donovan Taylor and she don’t get along well but there’s always been a simmering sexual tension underlying their reaction to one another. When their boss teams them up for a “swimsuit edition” at a beautiful private beach resort in the Bahamas, the sparks fly.

Much of the story is setting up the dynamic between Naomi and Donovan. Neither (but most especially Donovan) shower themselves in glory with how they deal with one another. Donovan does something pretty stupid and career-limiting and Naomi tries to drag it out of the ditch as it’s her career on the line too. The turn from “enemies” to “lovers” was way too fast for me. But there wasn’t enough space in the story for anything like that.

REVIEW: Shadows in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen

New York cityscape at night in the rain, focus on a concrete arch, two police cars with their lights, one on either side of the archCW: Rape, graphic violence

Why I read it:  This is one from my own TBL.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Lt. Eve Dallas is about to walk into the shadows of her husband’s dangerous past.

As it often did since he’d married a cop, murder interrupted more pleasant activities. Then again, Roarke supposed, the woman lying in a pool of her own blood a few steps inside the arch in Washington Square Park had a heftier complaint.

When a night out at the theatre is interrupted by the murder of a young woman in Washington Square Park, it seems like an ordinary case for Detective Eve Dallas and her team. But when Roarke spots a shadow from his past in the crowd, Eve realises that this case is far from business as usual.

Eve has two complex cases on her hands – the shocking murder of this wealthy young mother and tracking down the shadow before he can strike again, this time much closer to home. Eve is well used to being the hunter, but how will she cope when the tables are turned? As Eve and the team follow leads to Roarke’s hometown in Ireland, the race is on to stop the shadow making his next move . . .

What worked for me (and what didn’t): I have enjoyed the In Death series for many years. Eve Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, McNab, Mira and the rest are kind of like family now, I feel like I know them so well. Right now I’m reading fewer and fewer books with police officers as main characters but I make exception for Eve. Maybe that was a mistake this time.

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