Second chances are not always given to people especially someone like Drea Rousseau who had a penchant for diamonds and powerful dangerous men. She had a good run with Rafael Salinas, a powerful crime lord who deals with betrayals by brutal elimination. She played it smart lasting two years by playing dumb, biddable and gorgeous. But Rafael made a big mistake when he pawned Drea off to the assassin as a bonus for a job well done. That was Rafaels first big mistake. Perhaps it was just what she needed to make a break and thats what she did, making him pay; oh, did she make him pay! Unfortunately, Rafael dispatched the assassin to track her down and kill her.
While the assassin was enticed by the two million dollar fee, he wasn't sure what he'd do when he caught up with her, for after their four hour afternoon delight of sex, he'd been moved by Drea, even if he hadn't taken up her offer to take her along with him after she begged him too. He chased and found her but a tragedy ended the conundrum as to whether or not he would have killed her. Knowing Drea was dead and he being the cause of it was something he would have to deal with and it changed him.
And with that Ms. Howard throws a delightful slice of paranormal into this story that gives Drea a second chance at both her life and changes others.
Simply FABULOUS; OUTSTANDING and one of the BEST BOOKS I have read this year! And to think this was my first ever book by this author [but believe me not the LAST!!!] ! Woo hoo! I could not put it down!!!!
Drea was left for dead and to all intents and purposes she was dead! This was the part where Ms. Howard blew me away; whether a person wants to subscribe to her theory or not. Unfortunately, this is also part of the story that I would rather not spoil for anyone else, suffice it to say, you will either love this angle or hate it!
All in all I loved LOVED this book!
Audiobook review: For those following this series in order, we have seen a lot of interaction between Qhuinn and Blay, from the very beginning before their transition with them being the very best of friends. While LOVER AT LAST does focus on the relationship between Blay and Qhuinn anyone familiar with this series realizes that Ward will never just touch on one story but will engage the reader in the lives of the other brothers and introduce new characters into this magnificent series.
After reading other reviews, I understand that some readers want to just see the progression of B & Q’s relationship, I personally like the way Ward engages and teases the reader with other secondary stories by picking up with the newer character’s i.e. Assail; building a more significant background with Trez and his brother; and a little bit more depth on Xcor, the leader of the Band of Bastards. In my opinion the cut-aways are a break and just build more interest on the main story of B & Q’s story. AND, I really love learning more background and depth of interest on the side story characters. Naturally, Ward does not hold back on the sex, and it is hot and steamy (both the actual, and the dreams of the leads!).
LOVER AT LAST also gave a new and interesting level of what will be one very BIG star-crossed lover relationship involving Layla who is carrying Qhuinn's young. One can see the writing on the wall for this and I can’t wait for Ward to give the reader more on this storyline because it seems almost impossible for a happy ending. We’ll have to see.
Add to that, Trez and Assail’s issues with women they have become attracted to, along with the impossibilities of happily ever afters, these two storylines seem like 'mission impossible' and Ward is going to be very busy building stories around these unimaginable pairings. On the flip side - I was brought to tears at the wonderfully descriptive scenario’s where B & Q came to discover truths about themselves, especially Qhuinn’s revelations of who he truly was.
Bottom line: This series just gets better and better and the fabulous performance by Jim Frangione’s interpretation, and voice over’s make these books and the characters come to life! Anyone who has not read the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is totally missing out on such a wonderful experience!
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com
Emily is a sweetheart, happy and waiting for her husband, Sandy Portman to arrive after work. He made a point to tell her he would be home after work so she happily prepared his favorite meal in anticipation. Unfortunately, on his way home to meet Emily, Sandy was struck and killed in a tragic accident. Before the funeral was even over she received the shocking news that her in-laws were making plans to evict her from her Upper West Side apartment in the famous Dakota building. But nothing was more devastating than slowly uncovering the truth that she never knew Sandy at all, that her entire marriage with him was made up of lies.
*** I originally picked up this audiobook at the suggestion and praise of a friend, who being a dog person like myself, thought I would find it a wonderful audiobook. Naturally, the dog on the cover also helped me to make the selection.
I didn’t know quite what I was expecting, but it was quite a journey that Emily took in discovering a lot about herself and the man she had been in love with. Suffice it to say that I found myself not liking Sandy Portman very much at first, although he did begin to grow on me after he began to understand himself after he was given a second chance at life.
During her grieving, Emily found some comfort in the adoption of Einstein, a rather scruffy looking dog at the pound which Emily had been volunteering at. Through the caring of Einstein, Emily could sob all her heartache out, and it almost seemed as if Einstein understood all that she was going through. As it turned out, by taking Einstein out to the doggy park Emily meets a very handsome and gorgeous young man. A young man Emily tried her best to smother her budding interest in only to find that they were actually neighbors in the Dakota.
Bottom line: EMILY & EINSTEIN was a delightful story both emotional and touching, with several laugh out loud moments coming from Einstein. Fun and very entertaining.
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com
Rachel Blake is somewhat of a misfit, yet has found peace and quiet on Rainshadow Island with her dust bunny companion. That peace would be shaken when Harry Sebastian, the descendant of a notorious pirate, arrives to investigate strange developments in the privately owned woods known as the Preserve. Rachel has the ability to see ‘aura’s’ and senses a darkness in him, but more importantly she feels a desire within herself.
Before finding sanctuary on Rainshadow Island, Rachel knew monsters existed, where before she came to the island she encountered one daily, namely Marcus Lancaster at the Chapman Clinic where she had previously worked. Unfortunately, the administration at the hospital didn’t agree with her prognosis that he was a psychopath, hence her return to Rainshadow. Unfortunately, Marcus was not the only monster in Rachel’s life as she had nightmares of the bizarre creatures she had encountered the night she was lost in the mysterious preserve on the island. One thing she does know is that Harry Sebastian, a self-proclaimed monster hunter may be the only one who can both vanquish the monsters and save her from her lonely existence.
*** Being a fan of Jayne Castle aka Jayne Krentz aka Amanda Quick one has the ability to read many different genres and of course, be totally enthralled with whatever this amazing author dreams up. One can always expect dry humor, action, romance, and unusual twists and turns whenever you are fortunate enough to settle in with one of Ms. Castle’s novels.
As with most of her books, in THE LOST NIGHT, she has paired a couple of misfit lonely protagonists who ultimately fall in love after a series of starts and stops. Her characters generally have a fleshed out background in the type of worlds she creates which are filled with people with unusual psychic type gifts and backgrounds. Castle’s gift is the fact that she can not only imagine all these characters, but make the reader believe and dream of having some of these special gifts for them selfs. Imagine how cool it might be to be able to weed out your acquaintances by reading their aura’s and knowing whether they were truly nice – or not!
The addition of the mysterious - funny - unbelievable - dust bunnies was a bit far-fetched and it did take me a little bit of time to wrap my head around just what they were, but in the end they were okay - however I might have related better with a cat or dog. All in all, the romance was a little rushed, but as far as the mystery and the plotting went it was quite good - not the best but enjoyable all the same.
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com
In Roberts’ second book of the Born In series we are back in Ireland at the home of the younger Concannon sister Brianna, who is happily enjoying the winter and peace and quiet of isolation in her B&B on the west coast of Ireland. Brianna enjoyed people but also her quiet time before her winter guest would be arriving – a renowned mystery writer, Grayson Thane, from America. A nomad by nature, Grayson seeks the isolation to write alone, but from the very first, a fire is ignited as he gets to know his beautiful inn keeper.
*** Lord, but I am just loving this series and these irrepressible Concannon sisters, their significant others, neighbors, workers, and even one very self-absorbed momma! Roberts’ characterizations of all her people are just so real - non-perfect people in a non-perfect but very real world. Although, to my mind of thinking Brianna is probably one of the more perfect people who is portrayed as really quite happy with her life, B&B, and meeting all her tenants at the B&B. Brie is truly a happy person with her life the way it is, but of course, like most humans she does have dreams. Those dreams of making a truly loving home – one that was filled with happiness, lots of children and above all laughter. However, that would need a husband to affect that dream.
Enter Grayson Thane, Brianna’s newest boarder who had booked and paid the first month of his stay planning to stay through the winter. After the first few days of Brianna’s cooking - Grayson felt he’d died and went to heaven. A very wealthy and famous author, he’d never settled down and wandered the earth keeping only an apartment in NYC close to his publisher. Partly because he’d never had roots or any kind of stable childhood, Gray had never been close to anyone or let himself grow close - too many memories of abandonment.
With a remarkably deft hand Roberts lets the reader enjoy the romance between Brie and Gray as they both quietly discover in their own hearts the way each others hearts were bruised and needed healing. It was such a pleasure to experience the care and thoughtfulness of two genuinely wonderful people learning to love and trust. And the bigger bonus was seeing the ‘thoughtless momma’ bend just a wee little bit and smile - I think it happened at least once in this book.
Bottom Line: Another remarkable listen to a lovely Irish lilting performance by Fiacre Douglas, who is fast becoming one of my favorite narrators of Irish themed stories. Add to that the excellence of Nora Roberts’ brilliant story telling and bang - you are in for one very big treat!
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com
Clare Morgan, a Welsh Methodist minister’s daughter, had always admired Nicolas Davies, more commonly referred to as the Gypsy Earl. It’s been four years since Nicolas had left for the continent after a notorious scandal. The gossips talked said that after catching Nicolas in bed with his young bride his grandfather dropped dead of a heart attack, and Nicolas’ own wife was so distressed that she raced away from Nicolas and died in a carriage accident. Whether or not it was true, Clare wouldn’t judge. What Clare wanted was to beard the earl in his den to beg for his help.
Nicolas had no intention of staying at Aberdale and only returned to break the entail and never return to the place that had caused him so much pain ever again. Refusing all of Clare’s stubborn entreaties to help the villagers and after Clare said she would ‘do anything’ to convince him to help out – Nicolas just wanted to get rid of her. Knowing Clare was a ‘good Methodist daughter’ Nicolas tossed out an offer he never thought she’d accept. The bargain – Clare would move into his castle and stay there for a period of three months. He would not do anything she didn’t want – but she would have to kiss him at least once per day! Knowing that just by moving in with him would totally ruin her pristine reputation - Nicolas thought she’d run screaming away! To his great surprise, Clare agreed feeling the ruination of her reputation would be a small price to pay if it meant that her friends and neighbors would benefit by the help they sorely needed.
*** It’s been quite a while since I first read THUNDER AND ROSES, Book #1 of the Fallen Angel series, and it was just as wonderful an experience as the very first time I read it. Only this time I let someone else read it to me as I listened on my iPod. As you can guess, Mary Jo Putney has been one of my all-time favorite authors and having the opportunity to listen to this much loved book by Putney and performed so well by Peter Bishop was truly enjoyable.
Nicolas was a great leading man - so angry and bitter over the hand dealt him when his gypsy mother sold him for a bag of gold guineas to his stern and hard-nosed grandfather. At 8 years old all he really needed was someone to love him after the betrayal of his very own mother. Unfortunately, it was not to be but what he did find were school chums who later became known throughout London as the brash and wild Fallen Angels. After the scandal that forced him from the Earl’s seat four years, he truly wanted to sell the pile of stones and break the entail. However, Ms Putney in her wisdom, gave him Clare - not the most beautiful woman, but perhaps one of the most stubborn who was out to make him take charge of his destiny and do right by the villagers who were in need of his influence and largesse.
Putney not only put Clare on to Nicolas’ path of redemption, but clever wordsmith that she is, she also put a few bumps in the road to make this more than just a romance between a rogue and an innocent. No she added in several obstacles to overcome, including accidents, attempted murders and some very humorous and enjoyable moments of Nicolas’ attempted seductions of Clare.
Bottom line: There is so much more to describe, but that would take all the fun out you reading it for yourself to fully enjoy and understand the magic that comes from such a talented wordsmith as Mary Jo Putney. THUNDER AND ROSES is a book to savor, save and reread many more times.
Marilyn Rondeau, for www.ck2skwipsandkritiques.com
In a stroke of rotten luck, Kyle Grayson inadvertently instigated his best friends death; then unwittingly compromised Amelia, the man’s daughter, forcing him to a quick trip down to the altar. Both Kyle and Amelia are wracked with guilt over secrets neither wants to reveal, however the chemistry and attraction that both feel for another is something they are both battling for different reasons. On top of it all there is a mystery brewing at Amelia’s father’s mill that threatens both their livelihoods and their marriage should the truths be revealed. Guilt is keeping them apart, but will love and trust somehow bring them together.
*** After listening to the SHADES OF HONOR: BOOK #1 in the Grayson Brothers Series by Ms. Lindstrom, I was more than ready to discover how Kyle was going to survive after his longtime girlfriend and fiancé fell in love with and married his older brother. As an introduction to this author’s work I was enthralled with her writing, plotting and the emotional pull of her stories as she introduced the entire Grayson clan. Because of this I knew I had to discover ‘the rest of the story’.
With this second book - THE LONGING - we get to see Kyle Grayson discover more of himself, what motivates him, how he’s dealt with the betrayal he felt when his fiancé chose his brother Radford over him. It was wonderful to see Kyle finally understand what the true power of love did to one’s heart when it found the right person to share a life with. Amelia, had made mistakes, she wasn’t perfect. Her guilt would have destroyed any chance of happiness, but as she came to love Kyle for the good and honorable man he was. But as the villain in this story was about to be uncovered it was going to be more and more difficult to tell Kyle the truth of her agonizing shame.
Bottom Line: It was also totally heartwarming to finally see the no-nonsense businessman Kyle, finally learn to laugh once more and realize that life is worth living and loving once again. With exceptional writing, and a most entertaining and enjoyable performance of narration by Julia Motyka, THE LONGING will give the listener or the reader a most wonderful and enjoyable and emotional listening or reading experience. Highly recommended.
When the President of the United States is kidnapped while on a skiing trip with his daughter Amanda one agent survived the massacre – ex-Navy SEAL Scott Harvath who had been the Team Leader and managed to save the first daughter’s life. By the time Scott and Amanda were rescued having also survived an arranged avalanche Scott was burdened with the knowledge that he had ‘failed’ to keep the President safe. Guilt threatened to engulf Scott not only being the only one to survive but for losing so many good men, including his best friend. Later, Scott was not buying the premise that this was the work of Middle Eastern terrorists and found himself ‘persona non grata’ when he attempted to start investigating on his own including the cause of the avalanche. What Scott was finding were clues that soon caused him to be a target of people trying to frame him for murder and people trying to assassinate him.
*** First of all this was not my first Scott Harvath book - my first book by Brad Thor was FULL BLACK and I was completely mesmerized by the action, research and the pure adrenaline rush of the story that felt ripped from the newspaper front pages. The story was so real - I could truly expect to pick up a newspaper to discover that it wasn’t fiction.
Since then I have read/listened to several of Thor’s books and never been disappointed. Thor’s writing and plotting are dynamite especially in his very first Scott Harvath book. THE LIONS OF LUCERNE showed Thor’s extensive knowledge of armaments, their use, and where and how they lent importance in the THE LIONS OF LUCERNE which led to one of the first clues Scott put together that didn’t make sense.
I loved the way Thor brought the story together, with believable clues scattered throughout and giving Harvath the pieces he needed to discover the truth all while running for his life. The entire premise seemed so real to me and believable that elected officials would do anything to attain more and more power. The entire kidnapping was thought out with amazing and horrifying detail by evil and manipulative intelligence on the part of the bad guys, but thank goodness - Agent Scott Harvath never gives up!
Bottom Line: I love this author, his pacing of the action and impeccable research to come up with such believable scenarios. The performance of Arnold Schulz who narrated this audio was extremely well done making me think I was there watching action as if in a movie. THE LIONS OF LUCERNE was Brad Thor’s debut novel and though this was not my first listen of the this author, THE LIONS OF LUCERNE was awesome and Thor has been elevated to reside with all of my other auto-buy authors.
What happens when you wake up, look in the mirror and don’t recognize the face staring back at you? For Lizette Henry, not only does she not recognize her face, but it appears she’s also misplaced two years of her life. When she also comes to the conclusion that she is being spied on, she institutes some subconsciously natural acts to get to the bottom of who and what she really is?
*** One thing for sure, Linda Howard is my go-to author for intelligent, sharp and exciting romantic suspense thrillers. After the shock of seeing a strangers face in her mirror, and becoming deathly ill whenever she tried hard to recall events from her past life, Lizette was terrified with numerous scenarios that ran through her mind as to what was going on in her life.
Ms. Howard keeps the tension high and even with the prologue which, by the way, threw me off completely as to who Lizette truly was [quite a red herring there] I was hooked! I had as great a need to know who Lizette was as much as she did. Especially when so many people were spying on her!
The biggest mystery was Xavier, a man who seemed a lone wolf; totally on the outside but having the best pulse on what was going on with Lizette. Xavier seemed like the most pivotal of all ‘watchers’ who were keeping their eye on Lizette and as the story continued - the reader must question why Lizette was so important to have so many watchers.
Basically the thrust of the story pivoted on the small snatches of memories that started coming back to Lizette and how much one person was determined that she never regain those memories - so much so that action was taken to eliminate Lizette entirely. However eliminating Lizettte was not sitting well with Xavier who do all in his power to keep her safe.
Bottom Line: SHADOW WOMAN is just one more example of fabulous writing and expertly brought to life by the narration and performance of Carrington MacDuffie. A superb book and rendition that is highly recommended.
Widowed after only ten months of marriage, Martha Russell was hearing from the lawyer that unless she had some reason (pregnancy) she would have to vacate her estate and leave her beloved servants to the mercy at the hands of her malevolent brother-in-law. Only if an heir were on the way could she forestall him from taking over the estate and thrusting all the female servants into his despicable hands. Gathering all her strength and determination to not let that happen, Martha approaches her neighbor, the rakish exiled son of a baron from London. The strictly business proposition; one month of sexual attention to which she would pay him a hefty fee!
*** Theophilus Mirkwood couldn’t decide if he should have been insulted or flattered by Martha’s proposition. Knowing he should be on his best behavior if he ever wanted to return to London, Theo thought long and hard but seeing as how she was so very lovely decided to succumb. However, when push came to shove so to speak when Theo arrived to do the “deed” he was the one that felt quite outraged. Martha really was going to treat this as a total ‘business’ pursuit and there was no such thing as making ‘love’ to a woman who simply submitted while she most probably thought of other things than what was happening to her body.
The author created Martha as a woman who never experienced any type of loving relationship from her deceased husband; she knew no better and expected all men to behave the same. However, cold she acted towards Theo, she was caring and loving towards the people she felt were her responsibility, otherwise she never would have considered faking a pregnancy simply to feather her own nest, so to speak. Martha convinced herself she was truly doing this to save her female staff from a man whose despicable behavior simply could not and should not be brought down on the female staff she now cared for.
What was really very well done though was the change that came over both leads. Martha learned to feel for the man who did his best to befriend her and Theo was taught crucial points of not just land management from his land steward, but to realize that the people whose lives he ultimately controlled were under his care as well. In fact, Theo came to enjoy the challenge of what he could accomplish once he put his mind to it; as well as having Martha’s good opinion.
Bottom line: I found it hard to like Martha because of her rigidity in how she was going about getting herself pregnant, even though, I always knew she was doing this for the greater good. I loved the slow build-up of the love that developed between the two. This was definitely an interesting read and as I listened to this as an audio, the performance by Susan Erickson was well done. Martha was a tough heroine to like but in the end - I was very happy in how all turned out!
Phury has been featured in all of the previous books of the Black Dagger Brotherhood - passionate, loyal, yet deeply troubled, who through the previous books one gleans that Phury also has gotten himself hooked a bit with addictions to drugs. When one of his brothers asks to be relieved of the duty of Primale for the Chosen (A vampire to sire and propagate the vampire race keeping the Brotherhood’s bloodlines alive with the Chosen women) he agreed to sacrifice himself for the duty. Some 5 months later Phury’s first mate the Chosen woman Cormia was not pleased and in trying to be considerate Phury did not pursue or complete the consummation. Cormia has since observed and realized that though Phury is definitely kind and she has warmed to him, he is also deeply and emotionally scarred. As the war between the Lessening Society grows much more grim, Phury must decide between duty and love.
*** While I have been completely enraptured by this series, and have really liked Phury in the previous books, he totally infuriated me in this one. Needless to say, I wanted to strangle him for at least three-fourths of this book. And yes, I also got out of sequence with the storyline but will go back and correct the reading order.
However, while Phury and Cormia’s story was the focus of LOVER ENSHRINED, the secondary story lines were so powerful with John and Xhex; Blay and Qhuin; Revenge, Tor, and of course the revelation of the Omega having a son were what kept this from being a very low rated book. With all these new revelations popping into the scene Ward just keeps the excitement sizzling and the action at an all-time peak with thoughts of a new and more powerful threat to the Brotherhood.
Bottom line: As much as I wanted to whack Phury throughout the better part of LOVER ENSHRINED, he did redeem himself by the end of the story and should not be overlooked for the set-up of the new directions of story lines planned.
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