Overall... 5 star
Performance.... 5 star
Story... 5 star
Whoa, what an amazing, amazing book. Stacy and Leo...omg, they just broke my heart. There is so much incredible emotion in this book. Bravo, to Lucy March...you ROCKED the writing on this one!
Ten years ago, Stacy and Leo were completely and totally in love. Then he blew it. He got drunk and slept with someone else and ruined everything for both of them. When he told Stacy, she blew up. He left and decided to become a priest and never came back. Well now Stacy's brother, who just also happens to be best friends with Leo, is getting married to one of Stacy's best friends and Leo is back for the wedding...and NOT a priest. Stacy is devastated on so many fronts, but she still has her pride and is determined to never let him see it.
When Leo left, it devastated Stacy and she changed...and not necessarily for the better. She acted out and made choices. When those choices came out in the story, I literally was bawling. She has hurt so freaking much and works so hard so that no one ever sees it. She's tough and strong and just not the person you would think has all these incredible vulnerabilities. Seriously, I just wanted to curl up with her and give her a huge hug. And once she allowed Leo to see...bawling again. And the best thing about all that was how the author wrote it. If it had been up to Stacy, Leo would have never truly seen her pain and hurt, but she was willing to reveal that to help others. On the surface she's this selfish, shallow girl, but it's ALL just a ruse. Seriously, she's one of the most kind-hearted people willing to do WHATEVER it takes to save others who simply don't deserve anything...certainly not her sacrifice when they've been so awful to her.
And then there's Leo...he's so obviously still in love with her and so confused by why she won't even consider them anymore. He just doesn't get it and when he finally does, I fell in love with him. Throughout the entire book, little pieces of my heart broke off from page to page. I can't think of too many books where I was so emotionally shattered throughout the entire book for two characters.
But at the same time, the book is fun and entertaining. I loved the magic element and how that all played into the story. Although I will admit, I wanted to kick Nick, Stacy's brother, towards the end of the book. How could he turn on Stacy like that? Another example of just how strong she's had to be despite EVERYONE in her life that should be supporting and helping her.
This book was amazing. I enjoyed book #1 in this series and thought it was good, but this book so far surpassed that one. Seriously, so good!!! It absolutely works as a stand-alone and I HIGHLY recommend you read or listen to it.
The audiobook is fabulous. I've listened to a lot of Amanda Ronconi's narrations before, but she reached new levels of perfection in this one. Every single emotion and character is so easily identifiable from her inflections and accents. I don't think I would have gotten near the enjoyment out of the book reading it as I did listening to it just because she injected so much emotion into the characters' voices. It was just an incredible audiobook!!!
On the one hand, this was an incredible book because the author took two unlikely characters for a romance story and made them into heartwarming, loving people that I truly loved to read about. On the other hand, there were issues with this relationship which made me uncomfortable and made me question the validity of the romance.
Carter is an adult with Tourettes which has made it hard for him to have a true relationship. His ticks and jerks are difficult for men to deal with. Ethan, who was brain damaged at the age of 18, sees Carters body ticks as a kind of music. Ever since his injury he sees the world differently than the rest of us do and he sees Carters ticks as a melody, music floating through the clouds. In that regard, this story was beautiful. I loved how Ethan saw the beauty in Carter.
Where this story didn't work for me was in their maturity levels. Ethan has brain damage and in so many ways is very child-like and needs someone to watch over him. While I completely got and understood the bond between the two men...for the first time, Carter has found someone who sees his ticks and jerks as beautiful...I have a hard time seeing them in an equal relationship for the long-haul. There's nothing wrong with Carter's brain...it's fully developed and matured. I think the child-like, heavily sexed up relationship between the two would eventually not be enough for Carter mentally and he wouldn't have that same level of satisfaction. And if that happened, Ethan would be completely and totally devastated over the loss. I don't think Ethan would be able to come back from that kind of heartbreak. Watching his breakdown in the book when his life took an unexpected twist...I think that having Carter gone from his life would be SO MUCH MORE of a blow to him mentally than the challenge he had in the story.
And this is where I get too involved with the characters that AREN'T REAL...LOL. Because let's face it, if Ryan Lovelace wants them to stay together than these two are totally going to have an HEA that lasts until they are over 100 years old. I just need to keep telling myself and reassuring myself that he'll make sure they stay happy and stable together.
Fiction=Make Believe from the author's imagination=I can trust the author that he will keep these characters happy.
Note: I listened to the audiobook version of this book. K.C. Kelly was an AMAZING narrator...from Ethan's slightly slower voice to Carter's ticks and stutters, the narration was 100% fabulous!
I love audiobooks, but unless I'm on a roadtrip, I only get about an hour a week to listen to them. This audiobook was 16 hours long and I only had one small roadtrip when I got to listen to it. As a result, this book took me about 6 weeks to get through. That was entirely too long and I think it affected how much I enjoyed the book overall.
This is a complex world and a complex story, but at the heart of it were Cerise and her family who live in the swamps. William is a changeling...i.e. a wolf shifter...and her love interest. The overall story line was very layered with intrigue and levels of interest from the three different levels of this world. But I'll be honest with you...because it took me so long to get through it...the politics of who all was after what and who was working with whom, got completely lost for me. For me, this book remained about Cerise and William and their developing relationship which I did really enjoy.
For William, being a changeling is not something good in this world. The world considers them feral and tried to kill them all at some point. So he never lets most people know what he is. For Cerise, she doesn't give a damn what he is and I absolutely LOVED that about her. Cerise is one tough cookie and she does what she wants (unless it will hurt her family) and then she does what's good for the family. She's loyal to a fault, tough, but so wanting for a life and the love that she finds with William. For him, he's never even considered that he could find the happiness that he does with Cerise. He is also really tough, but has a vulnerability which just tore at my heart because he wants to belong somewhere so badly. I loved him in book #1 and fell even further for him in this story.
There is a LOT to this story...a lot of characters, a lot of layers of politics, and I'm not going to get into all that. I will say that something that the team of Ilona Andrews does incredibly well is adding children to the story. In book #1 there were Georgie and Jack (which we get to see again in this book ...yay) and then this one had Lark and the boy that I can't remember his name that William takes under his wing. They added so much impact to the story with very little overall page time.
And I can't do an audiobook review without mentioning Renee Raudman's INCREDIBLE narration. Wow. There are SO MANY characters in this book and each one sounds distinctly different. I don't know how she does it. Even the kids from book #1, Jack and Georgie...sounded exactly the same as they did in book #1. She has to have over 100-150 voices in her repertoire and it boggles my mind.
I have to admit, I'm on the fence about book #3. These absolutely are the kinds of books I enjoy on audio, but that one's 14 hours. But it also features Kaldar...who I loved in this book. Maybe I will just sit down and read that one and save the shorter books for my audio enjoyment.
What an interesting new world. There are three layers of reality in this paranormal setting....the Edge, the Weird, and the Broken. The Broken is our reality and the Weird is where magic reigns supreme. Rose lives in the middle, the Edge.
Life is hard in the Edge for Rose. She has two young brothers who are just as magical as she that she is simply trying to keep housed, fed, and out of trouble... a task that is much harder than it sounds. Rose has learned the hard way that she can't trust anyone other than herself and her family. At an early age, she showed to have a special kind of magic...it's pure and something that all families want in their heredity. So the bluebloods...who live in the Weird...have tried to take her. By force and by coercion. It's never been about her...only her magic.
Then along come two new men into the Edge...William and Declan...who both have appeal to her. But she certainly doesn't trust either of them or their motivations for approaching her, regardless of what they say.
I like Rose...she is tough and is most certainly a fighter. It's exhausting to think about being her though. She can NEVER take anything at face value and that makes me so sad for her. She constantly has to look for hidden motives from everyone around her.
But I also really loved both Declan and William. Declan is an interesting character just because his background as a blueblood makes him so clueless on a certain level. But he never looks down on Rose. In fact, he's very impressed by her and sees her strength. He wants to know about her world and will do all he can to fit in and fix what's broken there. William has a different vulnerability to him. I loved how he connected with Jack and actually both boys. He feels real...even though it's obvious he has secrets...it doesn't feel like they are evil secrets ever.
Then there are the boys...Jack and George. Still so little but having to act so much older than they should. I loved them and both their magical skills and the way those played into the story. My heart broke for George during the second challenge, but wow...it made for some powerful emotion in the book.
Overall, this was a great intro into this world. I've already downloaded book #2 from my Audible account. I like that every book follows two different characters in this incredible world.
Beth Harbison's books tend to fall more under women's fiction than my normal straight romance genres that I like to read, but every once in a while, I grab one on audio for something different. I absolutely adore the title of this one which is definitely what grabbed me and the story sounded intriguing.
This book is okay. It's really about Quinn and where her life has gone...or hasn't gone...in the last ten years since she left Burke at the altar. Since the notorious weekend, she has seen neither Burke (jilted groom) or Frank (best man and Burke's brother that she spent the weekend in Vegas with after the jilting) although neither has ever truly left her thoughts. Even though she hasn't seen them, she's still in the same place she always was. In fact, very little about her life has changed in 10 years. She's stuck in a rut which is made more obvious when the two guys come to town to help their grandmother close her life there.
There's another character to this story...Quinn's gay best friend, Glenn, who also grew up with the other three although he wasn't in their circle of friends then. He sees Quinn struggle and sets out to change her perspective with a 30 day challenge. Every day, he gives her an assignment to do something that isn't normal for her. He sees that she's stagnating and confused and wants to help shake things up for her.
This book isn't all that long...8 hours on audio, but it did go on for too long with the amount of story there. It got a bit old to listen to Quinn go on and on in her head about what happened with Burke and how she should have handled it all better back then. With two hours left on the audio, I actually considered DNF'ing it because I was getting so fed up with her. But I stuck with it and in the end, I was glad that I did.
There are no winners here because all three of these people are entwined in each other's lives and they are ALL very emotionally involved, regardless of the fact that it's been 10 years. I definitely had a favorite with who I thought Quinn should be with, but even with that, there really wasn't a bad choice here. In fact, even Quinn choosing neither guy would have been okay, too. NO SPOILERS HERE. The point of the story was that life moves on and she needed to move past that event in her life and find happiness in her choice...in whichever way possible.
Normally, I am a HUGE Orlagh Cassidy fan, but there were a few issues with her narration on this one. Toward the end of the book, the voices kept getting crossed and it was hard to tell who was speaking which lines. Even the main characters, especially Quinn got lost in the other voices in those final scenes which is really bad and distracting at those pivotal moments in the book.
Overall, I'm not sad that I took the time to listen to this one, but it definitely isn't one I would ever listen to again. Like I said, it was okay...and sometimes okay is good enough for a little escape.
I thought book #4 in this series was going to be the best in the group. I was wrong. This book...wow...this book blew me away. And I completely ignored every single thing I needed to do in my life to read/listen to it because I absolutely could not pull myself away from this story. Wow...it was just so good!!
This book is written completely different from the others as there are events happening in present day and events happening in the past all in conjunction in the story. Every chapter takes place in a different timeframe with something incredibly shocking and shattering happening in that first chapter. Then you spend the next half of the book trying to figure out exactly how Quin and Ella got to where they were at in that first chapter. It's an incredible way to write a book and it literally kept me riveted to the story. I could not walk away. I NEEDED to know what happened and how in the world anything was going to be okay again. As a reader and a writer, it was an incredible lesson in how to create and weave an unforgettable, completely suspenseful story. I cannot stress to you how good this book was.
And I don't know what to say without giving anything away. OMG...because each and every little revelation steals your breath away as you read it. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that experience for any other reader. These characters, this story...just wow! When I hit a book this good, I have a hard time sticking to just the audiobook, because I can read it so much faster. My hubby kept laughing at me on this one. Johanna Parker's narration was so good and her ability to express the emotion of the story was amazing. I couldn't walk away from the audiobook. So I got where I would listen to the beginning of the chapter with audio, reading along on my kindle. Then I would stop and read the last half of the chapter with just my kindle. That way I was able to move it along faster without completely abandoning the incredible narration.
So, so, so good. This entire series has been incredible, but this book was perfection. I have loved getting to know the Kinncaids and am truly sad to let them go. It's been a great series. Thank you to my friend, Amy, for pushing me to read this. It's taken me a couple of years to get to them, but that way I was able to read them all back-to-back...so it worked.
A phenomenal series!!
Yes! Ian...I have been waiting for his story for so long and it was so worth the wait. OMG, this book was so good!
Ian has shown up in all the books in this series, but we've never really known how he became estranged for the family...only that he is just as loyal as the other Kinncaid men and willing to do WHATEVER he needed to save their women and protect his brother's families and has helped his brothers time and again. In this book, all those questions were answered. The book began with the fight between Ian and his father, Jock, that resulted in him getting kicked out of the family...and while I knew what that probably entailed...reading the details of the fight and the results broke my heart for Ian. He was so young...and did nothing wrong. Jock...grr. But on the flip side, it was nice to have some insight into Jock and his realizing how deeply he betrayed and hurt his son by his actions and how that led to the man he became.
And the man he became is the heart of this book. Ian works for the government and has been undercover in Russia for five years, doing unspeakable things...but doing good things whenever he can. When the book begins, he is tired, worn out, and heartsore. He's about through with this job...it's gone on for too long and he simply doesn't care anymore. He's in danger of losing himself if he continues. He's also had a hit put out on him...Raven is coming after him.
Raven is Rori and she quickly discovers that Ian...or Dmitri...is not the man he appears to be and they begin to work together to save a young girl from a life of sexual slavery. To do so, they have to get her somewhere safe and the best way to do that is to pose as her parents and for the first time in a very long time, Ian begins to hide in plain sight...his new cover...Ian Kinncaid, with his wife Rori, and their newly adopted 4 yo daughter, Darya. But they both have many, many bad people out there who would like to see them all dead.
So freaking good...I'm telling you, this book was amazing. From page one, it jumped into the action and both Ian and Rori can kick butts and take names. I love, love, loved that she was just as tough and fearsome as him. It made her the perfect match for him. She also completely understands the world he's come from and the sacrifices he's had to make. I'm telling you...she was perfect for him. When he had his migraines, she and her actions, simply made me fall in love with her. She is awesome. She also has her own insecurities...especially when it comes to little Darya. I loved how she won Rori over.
I'm telling you...everything about this story was so good. It was an intricately woven Romantic Suspense that covered the world of politics, but still managed to include the entire Kinncaid clan. And Quinlan...OMG, the twists that involved his character. *sob*... just broke my heart for him. This entire series has been good, but this particular book went so far above the already, very high, bar. It was a great book and I continue to be amazed by Johanna Parker's incredible skill as a narrator. Her range of voices is PERFECTION and she does an amazing job, especially considering how many scenes she has to do with a huge cast of characters. They are all easily distinguishable during the dialogue. She is amazing...simply amazing narration.
So far, this has definitely been the best of the series. I loved this book...probably just because Christian and Brayden have had such a long relationship. She had been part of the family since she ran away from her family in her teens. To the other Kinncaid brothers, she's like a sister, which is why Brayden is so discombobulated by his new sexual feelings for her. He doesn't know what to do with this, but knows he doesn't want to do anything that could threaten Christian's standing in the family, so he steps back from his feelings for her. Something she does not appreciate at all.
I liked the by-play between Christian and Brayden at the beginning and LOVED how she stood up to him. She's always been there for him in raising his daughter Tori and just assumes that she always will be, no matter what happens between them emotionally. I love that she stood up to him on that and showed him that he couldn't take advantage of her. And watching her entire life-story unfold was heartbreaking. She's been through so much and has come out as such a strong character. I loved her.
And with this entire series...Kinncaid men...one word- YUMMY! Brayden doesn't change that at all. I love these guys and how protective they are and how they all work together to protect their women...including Ian, the black sheep who always shows up to help out. (I can't wait for his story!)
And, as always, Johanna Parker was AMAZING at her narration. I love her voices...both male and female. They work for me and she is definitely up there as one my favorite narrators.
This is my first Jaycee Clark read although I have a friend who urged me to read these books ages ago because she knew I would enjoy them. (You were right, Amy!)
From the moment this book began, the energy and expectation that I love with romantic suspense began. Right away the energy ramps up when Jesslyn comes upon the murder of one of her best friends in the middle of the night. From that moment on, her life is at risk because the murderer knows that she might have seen something. And so the story begins.
There were so many little things I loved about this book. Jesslyn is a writer. As one myself, I loved how she could use her writing as a stress reliever. Aiden is a renter in her house and although their first encounters are fairly acrimonious, he remains very protective of her. I loved that. What I didn't absolutely love and my one real complaint about the book was how their relationship did a 180 so suddenly. One minute they are jibing at each other and the next they realize that they are in love. What? I can usually deal with insta-love, but this one went a little too fast in a totally different direction too quickly for me. But other than that it was a great book and an incredible audio listen.
The narrator was great and the addition of Aiden's parents at the end as well as his brother convinced me that I want to listen to the entire series on audio and went and bought them all on audible. BTW, the narrator does some spectacular voices and accents. I really, really loved her narration on this one and the good news is that she narrates the entire series. Yippee!
This is definitely great romantic suspense, too. I had my suspects narrowed down to three at about 2/3 of the way through and then down to two at the end. I was completely and totally wrong about the bad guy. I love it when a story can twist me around that way and since I've started writing rom suspense, I've gotten pretty good at figuring out the bad guy so bravo, Jaycee, on the writing on this one!
It was good and I am already half-way through the audio on book 2 and it's shaping up to be even better. I think I have a new author to fan-girl on....
I am really loving the audiobooks by this author and narrator. This one was particularly good for the first part of the book. I liked the strife between the hero and heroine. I enjoyed the dynamic of their jobs (even though their initial meeting was extremely tragic)...the social worker and the physician. Their chemistry was incredible through the first parts of the story. I also really enjoyed the whole backstory for Taylor and her ex-husband. That just about broke my heart when that all came out...what a shocker.
Although I really loved the two of them together, I'll admit that their relationship flip-flopped WAY too quickly for my liking. It seemed like they were at each other's throat one minute and then pledging forever in the next. What? That was my main issue with this book, although the ending did help to make up for it because the ending of the book was really good, too.
And I need to note the narrator here. This book features a whole host of characters...about a dozen adults and two kids which speak regularly. Never did I have an confusion about who was talking at any point in time. Johanna Parker has a HUGE range of voices and inflections that made her simply a joy as a narrator.
The suspense line features a bad guy that's never a secret or a surprise in this book, but I did find myself incredibly intrigued by older Kinncaid brother, Ian. I need to know what exactly he does that has left him estranged from the family for so long while still remaining completely loyal.
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