Ready to Roll by Suzanne Brockmann

Silhouettes of five guys standing against a blue sky. (It's a really boring and ugly cover.)Why I read it:  This was a gift because I was too cheap to buy it myself (it’s expensive for a novella – really, $6 – $8 at Kobo – is just TOO MUCH).

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  The only easy day is yesterday. BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training is known for being the toughest, meanest, most physically punishing program in the entire U.S. Navy, and a new crop of tadpoles have arrived in Coronado eager to prove their worth—to make it through Hell Week, and become U.S. Navy SEALs.

Although Izzy prefers assignments out in the “real world,” he’s glad to be an instructor for the current BUD/S class, because it allows him to spend time at home with his wife, Eden, and her lively and lovable extended family.

Eden’s sixteen-year-old brother, Ben, is dealing with a new crush and a homophobic bully in his high school, but it soon appears that things are not as they seem.

Meanwhile, Eden’s other brother (and Izzy’s SEAL teammate and former frenemy) Danny Gillman and his wife Jenn have just had a baby who has colic and cries constantly.

As Ben deals with the type of too-serious high school drama that could involve a body count, and Danny and Jenn juggle a new baby, lack of sleep, and postpartum blues, Izzy is intrigued by “Boat Squad John,” a misfit team of young SEAL candidates all named John, including the intriguing young Seagull, his swim buddy Timebomb, and Seagull’s nemesis Hans.

Does Seagull have what it takes keep Boat Squad John still standing when the dust of BUD/S Hell Week settles or will they ring out?

Set in Coronado during BUD/S training Hell Week, in Ready to Roll Brockmann introduces the SEAL officer and instructor nicknamed Grunge—Lt. Peter Greene—as she delivers what she does best: a story celebrating the U.S. Navy SEALs—and the women (and sometimes men) who wholeheartedly love and support them.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’ve been a fan of Suzanne Brockmann’s novels and in particular her Troubleshooters series for years. They tend to hold up well for me on re-reads. I didn’t even get super cross about the whole Decker, Sophia, Dave and Tracy thing. So I say this in love. Please for the love of all that is good in a book, do not write stage directions in first person narratives. This is not Twitter.

Force of Attraction by DD Ayres, narrated by Jeffrey Kafer

shirtless law enforcement officer (there's a badge on his belt) torso with a dog - possibly a labradorWhy I read it:  I’ve had my eye on this book for a while and wanted to catch up on the series. I decided to try the audio rather than the digital version. MISTAKE.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  The only thing more powerful than fear is desire…

A seasoned K-9 officer with the police in Maryland, Cole Jamison has left her old life behind her. With a new home and a new partner – a protective canine named Hugo – Cole is ready for fresh challenges. A crucial position on an important drug task force is exactly what she wants – until she discovers her gorgeous, infuriating ex-husband will be the DEA agent in charge.

Agent Scott Lucca may be a pro when it comes to undercover assignments, but this job is daunting even for him. Posing as a happy couple on the dog competition circuit means he and Cole need to get a lot closer than they’ve been in years. Playing a live-in couple should seem like a walk in the park compared to tracking a brutal criminal, but suddenly nothing could be more dangerous than the passionate fire they’ve rekindled.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Cole (short for Nicole) Jamison is somewhat unexpectedly asked to join an undercover operation run by a joint FBI/DEA task force. She’s a K-9 officer with the Maryland police but her previous experience in agility training/courses is the big attractor for the task force. Also, her ex-husband (who wants her back) suggested she be brought in.

Scott Lucca met and married Nikki (as he then knew her) in a whirlwind romance. After his beloved (and golden) brother, Gabe, died while deployed, Scott lost it a bit and things fell apart. At the time he was working as an undercover operative infiltrating the Pagans MC and some of the things he had to do to maintain his cover cost them both. That was two years earlier and Scott still misses Nikki like it was yesterday.

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

Mirror danceWhy I read it:  I am slowly making my way through this series and Mirror Dance was up next.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  The dwarfish, fetally-damaged yet brilliant Miles Vorkosigan has more than his share of troubles. Having recently escaped an assassination plot whose tool was a brainwashed clone of himself, Miles has set the clone, Mark, free for a new chance at life. But when he decides to let his clone brother assume his secret identity and lead the Dendarii Free Mercenary on an unauthorized mission to liberate other clones from the outlaw planet of Jackson’s Whole, things start to get really messy. The mission goes awry, Miles’s rescue attempt goes even more wrong, and Miles ends up killed and placed in cryogenic suspension for future resuscitation. Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, the cryo-container is lost! Now it is up to the confused, disturbed Mark to either take Miles’s place as heir of the Vorkosigan line or redeem himself by finding and saving Miles.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I hadn’t planned writing a review of this one. But there was a thing which happened late in the story which changed my mind. I won’t go in to a lot of detail about the thing (for reasons which, I hope, will become obvious) but given that it happens later in the story, I should probably give a SPOILER warning about now.

May Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

BountyBounty by Kristen Ashley – B-/C+ As I usually do, I pre-ordered the latest Kristen Ashley release and started reading it soon after it landed on my reader. And, as I usually do, I enjoyed the book – mostly. Justice Lonesome is the daughter and granddaughter of rock royalty, a talented musician in her own right. She buys an unfinished house near Carnal in Colorado (exactly how and why she came to choose Carnal is never made clear) and starts to settle in. Her beloved father, Johnny Lonesome, died suddenly some months before and Justice is still grieving. Deke Hightower is a contractor for Holden Maxwell’s house-building business and arrives to start work on finishing Justice’s new place.

As it happens, Justice and Deke had met one night some years before and made a connection. Circumstances intervened and their potential wasn’t realised – Justice always wondered “what if” though. It’s clear to Deke that Justice is a wealthy woman and, because of his personal history, he’s reluctant to act on his attraction to her. In his experience, rich women are bad for him in many ways. Besides all that, he can’t see how they’d fit together. Deke is a restless soul – he travels about half the year and comes home to Carnal the other time, to do some work for Max and make enough money to go travelling again. How could Justice fit in with that kind of lifestyle? How could it ever work?

February Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Navy SEAls holiday flingThe Navy SEAL’s Holiday Fling by Zara Keane – C+ While I have most of the Ballybeg series on my TBR, this one is the first of Ms. Keane’s books I’ve actually read. It’s book 3 in her Ballybeg Bad Boys spin-off series. Divorced former Navy SEAL Liam Ryan has been working undercover for Trident Securities in Ballybeg but his case has finished and he’s on his way home to the USA for Christmas. He hasn’t seen his four year old daughter, Meggie, in seven months and he misses her badly. However, when he is on the way to the airport, he gets a call from his boss; there has been a bomb threat from a terrorist known only as “The Ghost”. The threat is credible and there is reason to think he might actually be in Ireland. Liam is the only person alive who has seen The Ghost; he’s the only man who can identify him to police.

The Ghost is a morality terrorist. He targets adult stores and those who have used the services of prostitutes. His target this time is Blush Shoppe, a multinational adult store chain which has just opened in Ireland. As it happens, Liam knows the manager of the new Cork store, Jill Bekele. Jill and he met when he was undercover and had a brief fling. She is extremely surprised to find that the man she knew as Jean-Baptiste, a French chef, is actually a former SEAL from the States. She is initially very unhappy to see Liam but when he thwarts an attempt on her life, she decides maybe hearing him out is a good idea.

Saving Grace by Kristen Proby

Saving GraceWhy I read it:  I bought it for 99c when it was a DA Daily Deal recently.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Sparks fly like snowflakes when a klutzy but gorgeous novice crosses skis with a hot resort owner in this tempting tie-in to New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby’s popular Love Under the Big Sky series!

Grace Douglas is on a practice run for her friend Cara Donovan’s bachelorette party ski weekend in Aspen. The problem is, despite living in rugged and picturesque Cunningham Falls, Montana, Grace is the clumsiest person ever born. To prepare for the trip, she is taking lessons at a local ski resort. She just prays that they have an ambulance on standby.

Sexy hotelier Jacob Baxter is ready to play ski instructor, but he quickly discovers that the best place on the mountain for Grace is in the lodge with a hot toddy. Her sense of humor and easy laugh quickly pull him in, and soon he’s determined to help her get off the bunny slope for a fun vacation with her friends. He just didn’t expect their steamy chemistry to trigger an avalanche of desire straight to his heart.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I haven’t read any other Kristen Proby books and so I didn’t know anything about the series going in. There is obviously a group of friends, some of whom are in wedding planning mode but their involvement in the story was fairly short-lived and it was easy to understand what was going on without having read any of the earlier books in the series.

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