Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Haunted


Haunted
Haunted by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



One of My Favorites of the Series

HAUNTED brings to a conclusion several long running storylines in the Special Crimes Unit series. While authors and publishers might want a book that can be completely enjoyed by old and new readers, I prefer books where continuing stories where the characters and stories increase in complexity even at the risk of alienating new readers. HAUNTED was immensely satisfying because it rewards committed readers with some resolution on the story of Hollis Templeton.

THE STORY: FBI Agent Deacon James' sister has her ex murdered and some suspect that she was involved so she calls her brother for support and he comes to the small town of Sociable. Deacon is one of the Special Crimes Unit agents because he possesses a paranormal talent. When he arrives, he meets with Trinity Nichols, the sheriff, and Deacon soon finds himself involved in the middle of a series of murders. Hollis Templeton and Reese DeMarco are soon also on the scene sent to help with the investigation. It turns out this case may be connected to the longtime enemy of the SCU who is supposed to be dead.

OPINION: While HAUNTED is billed in its blurb as the story of Deacon and Trinity, in fact, they are only supporting characters. This is really Hollis' book. Since she was introduced in such a horrific way in TOUCHING EVIL, Hollis and her expanding abilities have been a recurring storyline in the series. In this book, Hollis finally has to confront her past and it finally feels that she is on the road to building a better life for herself. This book also brings to a resolution the story of Samuel which has been a part of the series for several trilogies now. I really enjoyed this book because I felt that there was real focus on the characters, especially Hollis and Reese. The suspense plot was not particularly compelling apart from the angst of Hollis.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some small updates on characters introduced in previous books including Diana and Quentin. The updates are small but are nice for longtime readers.

FINAL DECISION: I really enjoyed this book because I finally felt that Hollis' story progressed. Hollis and Reese make a nice couple and I was happy that their story has not been dropped. For fans of the series, this is a payoff after a long buildup of several stories and it felt complete and satisfying.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HAUNTED is the fifteenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. I think it is best read by those who have followed the other books in the series because many past stories come to a conclusion here.

STAR RATING: I rate this one a 4.5 because I liked how Hollis' story progressed.



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Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Hostage


Hostage
Hostage by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Totally Enjoyable SCU Book

Kay Hooper has done a masterful job of creating a complex and satisfying paranormal/suspense/romance series and HOSTAGE is a great combination of the genres that the series inhabits. Once again readers follow the exploits of the FBI agents of the Special Crimes Unit which has agents with paranormal talents and its civilian equivalent, Haven. Hooper has been able to continue the story of existing characters while adding new characters to the mix. Not every book has been successful at balancing everything, but HOSTAGE is suspenseful and also has a great collection of characters with interesting stories.

THE STORY: Haven and SCU come together again when Haven member Luther Brinkman is shot while looking for an escaped prisoner and he is saved by Callie Davis, a SCU agent who is investigating the potential paranormal talents of that same escaped prisoner. There is something deeply evil in the woods near where they are and the two must figure out what to do before it destroys them. Also present in the book are Hollis and Reese who are continuing characters. Hollis is working on controlling her own abilities as a medium when she arrives at an estate filled with spirits. Something strange is going on there as well.

OPINION: I really liked the characters of Luther and Callie and hope to see more of them in the future. To me the strength of this book is the characters and I really loved having extended time with Hollis and Reese. Hollis has been present in the series since the fourth book and as her story has grown, I have wanted her to have a happy ending since her beginning was so horrific. Her relationship with Reese has been funny and also very painful to watch develop. The plot of this story has lots of twists and I kept reading late into the night because I couldn't put the book down.

WORTH MENTIONING: Animal fans will like the special ability of Callie who communicates with animals.

FINAL DECISION: I really liked this one on the basis of Hollis and Reese and Luther and Callie.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOSTAGE is the fourteenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series and I think this is one that new readers could enjoy with some catch up by reading the biographies that Hooper provides of her characters in the back of the book.

STAR RATING: I give this one 4.5 stars on the basis of the characters.



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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review: Haven


Haven
Haven by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



One of the Better Suspense Plots

The Special Crimes Unit Series explores the lives and investigations of the SCU which is a team in the FBI where the agents all have paranormal talents. This book focuses on the SCU's civilian counterpart Haven. It is the story of two estranged sisters and the murders that are occurring in a small town.

THE STORY: Jessie Rayburn has returned to her hometown to investigate her own past and resolve it. She is an investigator with Haven. Jessie has a younger sister, Emma, who still lives in town but Jessie hasn't seen her for fifteen years. When Jessie comes to town, she stills up secrets involving Jessie, Emma,and a serial killer who now feels threatened that the last will be revealed. Also on scene is Nathan Navarro, another investigator with Haven who has a past with Emma. The question is when will the secret be discovered and who will die before it is uncovered.

OPINION: I liked this book because the mystery and suspense part was creepy and had a final twist that I was not expecting. I liked how all the threads of the story were pulled together in an unexpected manner. I also really liked Navarro and my only wish is that Hooper had developed the relationship between Emma and Nathan more rather than just leaving everything implied. I feel that the strongest books in this series successfully integrate the personal relationships with the suspense aspect. This book leaves the reader at the end of the book with the impression that more will develop between Emma and Nathan, but I felt that the book ended abruptly where it appears that another couple of pages dealing with Nathan and Emma would have been more satisfying.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a small cameo by Hollis and Reese.

FINAL DECISION: I really liked the twist in this book but I still wish that the relationship between Emma and Nathan was developed. it is the kind of book that I enjoy reading as I am reading but that I forget when the book is closed.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HAVEN is the thirteenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. While there are some cameos by continuing characters, this book can be read independent of the series. Hooper had provided an appendix with relevant information regarding the world's she has created so that new readers can catch up on the most important information.

STAR RATING: I give this one four stars.



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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Blood Ties (Blood, #3)


Blood Ties (Blood, #3)
Blood Ties (Blood, #3) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Twisty Conclusion to Blood Trilogy

For fans of Hooper's Special Crimes Unit series, BLOOD TIES brings to a conclusion the story of the hidden enemy trying to destroy the SCU and also moves forward the personal relationships of several couples.

THE STORY: The Special Crimes Unit of the FBI is made up of agents who possess paranormal talents. Throughout the Blood Trilogy, the SCU has discovered that they have an enemy who is out to destroy the unit and its head, Noah Bishop. Now a series of murders has brought many of the team members to a small town in Tennessee. It appears that the murders have been a lure to bring the team to town in order to destroy them. The team members have to discover who is their enemy and defeat him in a final showdown.

OPINION: BLOOD TIES nicely integrates the stories from several other books. While the main interest is the final showdown with their "big bad", I appreciated this book because it finally progressed the stories of several other couples. Diana and Quentin who first began their romance in CHILL OF FEAR finally get a chance to have their relationship be made central to a story. There is also the start of a relationship between Hollis Templeton and Reese Demarco. While not dominating the story, I appreciated that the personal side of the story was not neglected in the gore and suspense of the story. Honestly, I read these stories because I like the characters and I liked that the revelations of the story were built upon the characters and their relationships. For fans of the series, this book brings together so many threads and brings back so many characters that it is like a family reunion (with murders and paranormal intrigue).

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans, like me, who were somewhat dejected by the end of CHILL OF FEAR will be happy to know that Diana and Quentin get a great deal of space in this book.

FINAL DECISION: This is one of my favorites of the series even though it is one of the saddest in many ways. I appreciated that the story foundation is based on the characters and their relationships. The mystery is tied up in a way that was satisfying.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the twelfth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. This book is also the third book of the internal Blood Trilogy. Finally, the book is also a sequel of CHILL OF FEAR. While a new reader might be able to figure out all of the players, I think the story does not have much power unless a reader is familiar with the background of the major players and I think CHILL OF FEAR and the first two books of the Blood Trilogy are required reading.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.



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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Blood Sins (Blood, #2)


Blood Sins (Blood, #2)
Blood Sins (Blood, #2) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Middle Part of the Story

BLOOD SINS is an interesting paranormal suspense but readers who start here will have missed a lot. The book continues the story of the Special Crimes Unit of the FBI for agents with paranormal talents and its civilian counterpart, Haven.

THE STORY: After the events of BLOOD DREAMS, Haven and the SCU are searching for the man behind the monster. They believe that it is Samuel, the head of the Church of the Everlasting Sin. Tessa Gray works for Haven and has come to help find out what is happening in the church's compound. Tessa is undercover masquerading as someone who might join the church. What Tessa find strange is that the people in the compound seem to be Stepford people -- it is like their entire essence has been stripped from them. People are disappearing from the compound and some are found having been killed in unexplained manners. Tessa and the Haven and SCU teams have to figure out what is happening and how to stop Samuel.

OPINION: BLOOD SINS is definitely the middle part of the Blood Trilogy. In BLOOD DREAMS, the reader is left knowing that there is an ultimate bad guy still on the loose. BLOOD SINS is about that bad guy. However, as the book explicitly reminds readers at the end, there are still questions left unanswered after the resolution of the story in this book. The lack of full resolution takes away a bit of the energy of this book. The paranormal suspense story is creepy and engaging. It is never clear who is who here and that keeps the reader guessing at what will happen and makes the story more compelling. I missed the presence of any romance in this book. While there is some attraction between Tessa and the chief of police, there is never any connection made here unlike in previous books. I missed that portion of the story and it contributed to my vague feeling of the story being incomplete.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has cameos by several familiar characters from the series that will please long time readers.

FINAL DECISION: For fans of the series, this book will meet all the paranormal suspense expectations. However, there is no romance to speak of in the book and I missed that aspect of the story. The presence of familiar characters will make long time readers happy.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLOOD SINS is the eleventh book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. BLOOD SINS is also the second book in the internal series Blood Trilogy. Unlike prior trilogy in the series, this trilogy continues a story and readers should not skip books or they risk not following the story.

STAR RATING: I give this one 4 stars.



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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Unbroken: Understood, Overheard and Undenied


Unbroken: Understood, Overheard and Undenied
Unbroken: Understood, Overheard and Undenied by Maya Banks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Steamy Collection of Novellas

UNBROKEN is a collection of three connected novellas.

UNDERSTOOD is the story of Ellie Matthews and Jake Turner. Ellie was married to Jake's former high school friend. Her marriage almost destroyed her and Jake blames himself for not seeing the abuse going on in the marriage. Jake has been in love with Ellie for years and he now sees the opportunity to make a move on Ellie.

This novella is hot and I was surprised at how much I liked the relationship between Jake and Ellie. Even though there is a lot of sex involved in this novella, there is an underlying tender relationship that elevates the very sexual story.

OVERHEARD is the story of Gracie Evans who is tired of the crummy men in her life. When she tells her friend about her sexual fantasies, they are overheard by Luke Forsythe. Luke and Gracie have been friends but Luke is surprised that Gracie's sexual fantasies complement his own.

This novella is extremely steamy and includes a menage scene. Unfortunately, I think this story could have benefited from a longer story because a reader has to take the prior relationship between Luke and Gracie as a given and the focus of the story is on sex rather than a relationship.

UNDENIED is the story of Wes Hoffman who runs into the woman who was his first sexual partner, Payton Ricci. Wes is embarrassed by his prior performance and tries to avoid Payton. Payton, however, remember the event in a more positive manner and is determined to have another try.

The beginning of this book is all about sex, but quickly develops into a relationship where each wants more. I thought this book was funny and I appreciated how Payton turns the table on Wes in being the aggressor.

These novellas are best in this format where they can be read together because the books work together to enhance one another. I enjoyed this book as a whole because each book enhanced the others. There is a tremendous emphasis on the sexual relationships of the couples and the book seems closer to erotica than typical romance.

I'd give this one a 3.75 stars.



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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Texas Born


Texas Born
Texas Born by Diana Palmer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Sweet Romance, Gentle Hero

Diana Palmer has made a career out of the sweet romances where the hero and heroine are often strongly moral people who eschew pre-marital sex and instead work to build serious relationships. TEXAS BORN is definitely in this vein.

THE STORY: Michelle Godrey is at the end of her rope. After the death of her father, she ends up the ward of Gabriel Brandon who rescues her from her despair. There is a special bond between the two from the moment that the two meet. Gabriel, however, knows that while the two have a special bond, Michelle is too young to be involved with him. He is willing to be her family until she is grown and can make a decision about them.

OPINION: I really liked how this book developed. In many ways, it was more about Michelle becoming an adult that it was a romance between the two characters. Gabriel is quietly supportive of Michelle and gives her the space to grow up and even not choose him. He is a unique hero in that while he is a strong, alpha male, he does not impose himself on Michelle until she is old enough to make her own choices. The romance is sweet and affirming between two people with strong moral values.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is populated by a number of characters who have books of their own so fans of Diana Palmer will see many old friends.

FINAL DECISION: I haven't read Diana Palmer in a while, but I enjoyed this book and look forward to the upcoming book about Gabriel's sister.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is connected to Palmer's Long, Tall Texans series and also her Wyoming Men series. It is not necessary to read the other books in the series to read this one and enjoy it.

STAR RATING: I give this one 4 stars. Enjoyable read.



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: The Fall of Maggie Brown


The Fall of Maggie Brown
The Fall of Maggie Brown by Anne Stuart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Kinder, Gentler Anne Stuart

THE FALL OF MAGGIE BROWN tells the story of a woman who is searching for her sister in an unstable country and find a man who she should not trust but learns to love.

THE STORY: Maggie Brown comes to search for her missing twin sister so that she can tell her that their mother is dying. Maggie needs help, however, to locate her in the unstable country on the verge of a bloodless revolution. Ben Frazer agrees to help Maggie find her sister but Maggie doesn't know is that Ben has no intention of helping her find her sister until he is ready. Instead he intends on taking her on a gambol around the country. His motives are murky.

OPINION: I like the books where the hero's motives are dark and uncertain. Stuart has made a career of the dark hero. Ben is a much lighter version of Stuart's typical heroes. While he has murky motives and he sometimes indicates that he will abandon the heroine, he is clearly got a heart of gold as Maggie is told by others. Maggie and Ben have a contentious relationship with much bickering and arguing. While this is not a book that will haunt my thoughts, I did enjoy the time I spent reading it and might even pick it up again in the future.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers who like THE FALL OF MAGGIE BROWN should try Stuart's Ice Series which has a similar storyline to this one but is more intense and graphic.

FINAL DECISION: I liked this story. It was an interesting read but only in the middle of Stuart's books. I like her stories where the hero acts in a slightly shady manner but then falls in love with the heroine despite his intentions. This book wasn't as distinctive or intense as her Ice series and so is less memorable as well. It is a good read that I was interested in.

CONNECTING BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Review: A Midnight Clear


A Midnight Clear
A Midnight Clear by Anne Stuart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Sweet Short Novella

A MIDNIGHT CLEAR is a short contemporary novella.

THE STORY: It is the story of Kelly Malone who is a nurse-midwife. While visiting her aunt, she is urged to go to the ranch of Samuel Watson to help with a pregnancy. Kelly had a crush on Samuel when she was a teenager even though he was rude and difficult. Nothing has changed. When Kelly gets trapped on the ranch with Samuel, the two find out that they are a great match.

OPINION: This was a nice story but not particularly exciting or memorable. It is one of those books that I don't regret reading bit that I probably wouldn't read again. The short length makes it difficult to get attached to the characters as the story plot takes up most of the pages. However, the story itself is sweet and I liked the characters enough to be happy at their HEA.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story was previously published as part of an anthology.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is a standalone.

STAR RATING: 3.5 stars.



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Review: Blood Dreams (Blood, #1)


Blood Dreams (Blood, #1)
Blood Dreams (Blood, #1) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Start of the Blood Trilogy

BLOOD DREAMS is a continuation of Hooper's Special Crimes Unit Series about Noah Bishop and his FBI unit of agents with paranormal talents. Over the books of the series, Bishop has also managed to find allies to build a civilian version of the unit called Haven. BLOOD DREAMS brings the two groups together.

THE STORY: Dani Justice dreams about bad stuff. Bad stuff that happens. She works for Haven along with her twin sister. She has returned to her hometown because of a bloody dream that she is having that deals with the SCU and Bishop. At the end of the dream, Dani and a team of SCU and Haven people end up in a basement of a burning building searching for a murderer. Dani's return home also makes her confront her past. Marcus Purcell is an old flame who Dani left when she left town. He is now sheriff and Dani must work with him to help catch the murderer and save his latest potential victim.

OPINION: I like the suspense aspect of this book. There are many twists and turns as Dani and the reader attempt to decipher her dream. The romance aspect of this book it muted and not as compelling or as interesting as the main story. Readers beware, however, that the suspense story comes to an intermediate conclusion but continues in the other two books of the trilogy. Unlike the prior "trilogies" in this series, this one is a true trilogy where the story continues and really need to be read together. The book is graphic and creepy and there is serious emphasis on the paranormal talents here.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are plenty of recurring characters that appear here including Hollis, John Garrett, and Bishop and Miranda.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLOOD DREAMS is the tenth book in the Bishop/SCU series and the first book in the Blood Trilogy. The book can be read independent of the prior books although a new reader will miss the background on many of the characters that appear here in supporting roles.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Review: Never Marry a Viscount


Never Marry a Viscount
Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This historical series is lighter in tone than Stuart’s more recent contemporaries. The heroes are not as dark as the prototypical Stuart hero and the story overall has more humorous elements. NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT is a concluding story that seeks to wrap up the murder mystery that the three Russell sisters have been attempting to solve. After her two older sisters have gone off and married the prior two suspects, it is left to the youngest sister to seek out the last suspect that the sisters have.

THE STORY: Sophia Russell is the youngest Russell sister and the one her older sisters believe is the most helpless. Having been left by her two older sisters with their old nanny, Sophia has been spending her time watching the local Viscount, Alexander Griffiths swimming in the pool at his house. Viscount Griffiths is the final suspect that the sisters have as to who stole from the family company and murdered their father. The sisters having been left penniless, they devised a scheme to enter the households of their suspects as servants and discover their secrets. Sophia already knows something about Viscount Griffiths. He is believed to have killed his wife. Sophia decides to become a cook in his household. Unfortunately for Sophia, Alexander believes that Sophia has been sent to occupy a different position – that of his new mistress.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book. It nicely wrapped up the story that spanned the three books in the series. This book also had the best relationship in the series. Sophia is intrigued by Alexander from the first time that she sees him. Her voyeuristic sessions watching Alexander create an intimacy between the characters even before they have met. Unlike the other books in the series, I really felt that Sophia came to Alexander’s house not primarily because she wanted to find out if he was involved in her family’s ruin but because she was deeply attracted to him. Because the villain is not a mystery here, the emphasis is more on the relationship between Sophia and Alexander which is more playful than I would have expected. I especially like Alexander here because in many ways he is the one who needs to be rescued by Sophia.

WORTH MENTIONING: Alexander is an interesting hero. While he had a dark past, he genuinely cares for others and I felt genuinely sad for him with how the story is resolved. He has a more sensitive side than one might expect at first.

FINAL DECISION: For those who have committed to the series, this book wraps everything up nicely. It was lighter than the prior books even though there are plenty of murderous activities going on. This is my favorite book of the series because I really liked the book where all three couples finally meet up again. This book is witty and made me smile.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the third book in the Scandal of the House of Russell series. This book is best read after the first two books because there is a continuing story of what happened to the three sisters’ father and who is trying to murder each sister. This book wraps up the entire series.

STAR RATING: I give this one a 4.25 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.




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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Rock Courtship


Rock Courtship
Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



The Gentleman of Rock Is a Hero To Cheer For

ROCK COURTSHIP continues the intense, adult relationships that Singh started in the first book in the Rock Kiss series. This novella is less intense than the first book, but her strong characters make this a page turner as the two create a relationship that can withstand the intense and difficult rock music life.

THE STORY: David Rivera is known as the “Gentleman of Rock”. He is the drummer of the Schoolboy Choir but prefers a quieter life than his band mates. David has wanted Thea Arsana since he met her. The only problem is that Thea is the band’s publicist and Thea has a rule never to get involved with clients. David is devastated when Thea rejects his overtures. Four months later, Thea’s half sister (the heroine from ROCK ADDICTION) tells David that he should write Thea a memo about the reasons Thea should give David a chance. Thea can’t help but respond, and thus the relationship between the two begins.

OPINION: I loved this story. David is an unusual hero. He is shorter than Thea and he is more subdued, cerebral and quiet than one might expect of a rock star. That being said he and Thea are really hot together and I loved how David is completely accepting of Thea. It is Thea who has the trust issues in this relationship courtesy of an ex-fiancĂ© who cheated on her and demeaned her as a woman. David accepts Thea’s soft side but also loves her aggressive hard-assed side. From the beginning, he is so dedicated to her that a reader can’t help but root for him to overcome all of Thea’s fears and insecurities.

I loved seeing the guys from the band again and I look forward to reading more about them in future books. This novella wasn’t as compelling as the longer ROCK ADDICTION, but I loved David and Thea and thought their story was sweet and sexy.

WORTH MENTIONING: I absolutely loved the literary device of having David and Thea communicate via memos emailed back and forth. It was incredibly sweet and sexy.

FINAL DECISION: Rock Courtship is a great addition to Singh’s Rock Kiss series. The story is more conventional than the first book, but the romance is incredibly sweet. For me, the highlight was David as a hero. He is not a beta hero but a girl has got to like a man who can blush.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the second in the Rock Kiss series. Rock Addiction, the first novel, was the story of Molly and Fox and takes place concurrently with the events in Rock Courtship. It can be read independent of the first book, but ROCK ADDICTION is so incredible, a reader should start there.

STAR RATING: I give this one a 4.25 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.




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Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Festive in Death


Festive in Death
Festive in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Eve's Personal Life More Interesting Than Mystery

FESTIVE IN DEATH is the latest entry in the long running In Death series. As usual, the story is divided between the personal life and growth of Eve Dallas, the New York murder cop, her husband Roarke and now her increasing number of friends and colleagues and the mystery of the book. This book's personal focus is on the Christmas holiday. These books have a formula now and this book is right in the normal mold.

THE STORY: As Christmas approaches, Eve is learning to cope with her life as she has a more normal life having resolved most of her horrible childhood. As she says in this book, it never completely leaves her, but she can go forward. Over the past several years described in the preceding books, Eve has acquired a number of friends that she now has to shop for. She also has to deal with the annual Christmas party that Roarke hosts.

Eve is also investigating the murder of personal trainer Trey Ziegler who had a secret stash of cash and a whole lot of women who got his "personal" treatment. Eve dislikes the victim but dislikes the crime even more and aggressively looks for the murderer.

OPINION: For this book, I found the murder mystery pretty bland. I wasn't particularly interested in the crime, the victims or the potential suspects. That being said, I really enjoyed the look into Eve's mindset at this point. It is nice seeing her become more open as a person, being able to express caring for others more openly. She has matured quite a bit over the last several books and it is nice seeing her construct a happy life for herself. This book felt more like a reward for longtime readers as Eve touches base with various people in her life.

WORTH MENTIONING: My favorite part of the book -- "pink magic coat".

FINAL DECISION: This book has its moments that I really enjoyed. The murder was not particularly compelling but I am enjoying seeing Eve begin to adjust to a life with friends and family. There is a sense of relaxing into her life and the reaching of the promise that Eve having other people to care about makes her a better cop. The best part of this book is Eve's personal life.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FESTIVE IN DEATH is the 39th In Death book. Because the personal parts of this book are better than the mystery, I recommend this for fans of the series. There are better In Death books for new readers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.



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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Rock Addiction


Rock Addiction
Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Determined to Dislike It But Won Me Over Completely

I never would have chosen to read ROCK ADDICTION if I hadn’t gotten a free review copy. Each of us have books that we choose to read because we know and trust the author or the blurb on the back appeals to our archetypes or themes or situations we prefer. The rake/wallflower romance, the angst filled storylines, the friends to lovers trope. Then there are those archetypes or themes that we prefer to avoid. This book would not have appealed to me. Hard rocker, heavily tattooed guys are not my thing and nothing else suggested that this would be a keeper for me. Lately, however, I have been trying to expand my reading horizons and when I saw that Nalini Singh, who I have seen mentioned as an author to read, had a new book that could be read as a standalone and when I could get a preview copy for free, I decided to give it a try.

THE STORY: Molly Webster is a librarian and fulfills all of the stereotypes of the profession. She lives a blameless and boring life. As a teenager, her family was shattered by her father’s publicized affair with an underage girl and as a result, Molly is determined to live her life out of the limelight of the press. But then she goes to a party her sister is hosting and sees him…

Zachary Fox is everything that Molly is determined to stay away from. He is a bad boy rocker with a sexy reputation and a tattooed body. He lives in the light of the press. Fox and Molly have one of those lust at first sight moments and Molly decides to agree to a one-night stand before settling down finally into her quiet life. Fox has other ideas. He is determined not to let Molly go.

OPINION: I absolutely loved this book. The story is all about how Molly and Fox learn to live together and trust one another even as they love. It is a personal book delving deep into the give and take of their relationship. Fox falls for Molly quickly and it is he who is determined to not let Molly go. I loved how mature their relationship is. As obstacle after obstacle is tossed in their path, the two talk to one another, admit their fears and faults and build a strong trust between them. There are no magic solutions. The two struggle with their pasts and fears, but are determined that their relationship is more important than anything.
This book is super sexy. Hot, hot, hot! Scorching in fact, but there is such a wonderful balance between the sex and the emotional relationship that the sex does not feel gratuitous – even as it is quite plentiful!

WORTH MENTIONING: The secondary characters are clearly set up for books of their own. Molly’s half sister and her best friend have romances that are concurrent to this one and I expect will be the subject of the other books in the series.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book. It was not at all what I expected. The book was complex and the characters were mature and I loved that the book dealt with the working out of their relationship. I will definitely be reading the subsequent books in this series and now I am definitely going to check out Nalini Singh’s other series for which she is well-known.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is the first book in the Rock Kiss series.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 5 star rating which means that it is a definite re-read for me.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.




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Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Sleeping with Fear (Fear, #3)


Sleeping with Fear (Fear, #3)
Sleeping with Fear (Fear, #3) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Creepy and Confusing and Fabulous

SLEEPING WITH FEAR is an utterly confusing book and I loved it for that reason. The book mirror's the experiences of the lead character and thus a reader is kept in the dark the same way the main character is. I never had a handle on what was happening until the big reveal and that was amazing.

THE STORY: Riley Crane wakes up and realizes that she has no memory of the previous three weeks. She figures out that she has come to town to investigate some possible occult activities. She is most worried about the fact that she has awoken covered in blood, there has been a murder and that sometime in the last three weeks she appears to have acquired a lover, Ash Prescott. Riley needs to figure out what has happened to her and who she can trust.

OPINION: I really liked this book. The book is constructed so that the reader experiences the same sense of confusion that Riley does. Because the book is told from Riley's point of view, the reader is left to question who can Riley trust. That gives the book real suspense. The book kept me guessing throughout and this was a book that I could not put down. The problems that Riley has with her memories create problems for the reader as well and I liked this more literary approach to the story. I only wish that there was a little more to the story after Riley discovers what is happening just to wrap up what reality was as opposed to the mistaken memories.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a small cameo from Bishop but otherwise Riley is on her own in this story.

FINAL DECISION: This book is quirky and the literary conventions of it are different than the other books. Riley is confused and time and her memories are tricky and sometimes missing and false. The reading experience is purposely the same and thus it takes some effort to decode the story but it is worth it. I recommend this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SLEEPING WITH FEAR is the ninth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series about the psychic FBI agents. It is also the third book in the internal Fear trilogy. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this one 4.75 stars. It is immensely entertaining and kept me guessing.



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Review: Marcus Wilding: Duke of Pleasure


Marcus Wilding: Duke of Pleasure
Marcus Wilding: Duke of Pleasure by Carole Mortimer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Too Short to Be Compelling

MARCUS WILDING: DUKE OF PLEASURE is a very short novella that introduces Mortimer's new series. It is the story of Julianna Armitage who was widowed after being married to a disagreeable man who cared not about her. She has come to Marcus Wilding, Duke of Worthing to ask him to tutor her as to pleasure so that she can take a lover. Unknown to Julianna, Marcus has loved her for years and now intends on luring her into marriage.

This novella is short and good enough but there is little disclosed about Marcus and Julianna except for their physical relationship that is detailed here. The novella is a nice start to the series but was too short for me to really care about the characters. It was worth the price (free!) and the time I spent reading it. I look forward to reading more of the series.



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Review: Chill of Fear (Fear, #2)


Chill of Fear (Fear, #2)
Chill of Fear (Fear, #2) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Tension, Romance and Psychic Murders

CHILL OF FEAR is one of the best of the Bishop/Special Crime Unit series. While I have complained about some of the previous entries because of the short shrift given to the romance in this series of paranormal romantic suspense books, this book is pretty darn good even though it ends with just the beginning of what might be termed the actual romance.

THE STORY: Special Agent Quentin Hayes has been obsessed with a murder that happened twenty-five years ago. He has returned to the scene of the crime, The Lodge, year and year searching for clues. Quentin is a seer, but that talent has not helped him solve the murder. When he returns to the Lodge this time, he meets Diana Brisco. Diana has been treated for mental illness for most of her life. What she doesn't know and Quentin immediately recognizes is that her "mental illness" is actually a psychic talent. Quentin realizes that he and Diana are at the Lodge at the same time for a reason and he struggles to help her accept her talent in order to have her help him solve the series of murders and disappearances that have taken place at the Lodge for a century.

OPINION: I loved this book. The plotting is intricate and complex and the characters are interesting and compelling. There is no "romance" in the traditional sense. The first kiss takes place at the very end of the book, but I found the romance between Quentin and Diana to be more satisfying than several of the previous novels in the series. The two build a strong, true relationship and Quentin purposely holds off on anything more because of the danger the two face. The novel is really about Diana discovering and acknowledging her psychic abilities and accepting them. I thoroughly enjoyed Diana facing herself and discovering who she truly is.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a bunch of characters that made previous appearances in the series who make cameos. Beau Rafferty, the artist makes an important contribution.

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book and was one of the best at working out the psychic element as Diana struggles with accepting her talent.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHILL OF FEAR is the eighth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. It is also the second book in the Fear Trilogy that is internal to the series. I think, however, this book is truly a sequel to TOUCHING EVIL because many of the characters in that book make an appearance or are mentioned in this book, including Quentin. CHILL OF FEAR can be read completely on its own, however.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 4.5 because I was compelled to turn page after page and I was satisfied at the end of it.



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Review: A Knight in Shining Armor


A Knight in Shining Armor
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



A Classic But I Still Don't Like The Ending

A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR is a classic of romantic literature. It often appears on lists of top romance novels of all time. Published in 1989, I first read it within a couple years of its publication. I remember being shocked and annoyed at the ending of the novel. In fact, I hated it so much that I never could remember anything else about the book except that the ending of the book was vivid in my mind. In the subsequent years, when I saw this book on classic lists, I questioned the intelligence of those reviewers. When the book came up for reading in my book club, I was determined to give it a fresh reading.

A serious warning that this review contains serious spoilers.

THE STORY: In 1988, Dougless Montgomery is going on the trip of a lifetime to England with her live in lover and the man she loves and hopes will take this opportunity to ask her to marry him. The man that Dougless has attached herself to is a serious jerk who treats her shabbily and yet Dougless blames herself and allows herself to be taken advantage of. Her lover is successful and liked by her family and Dougless who has always felt like a misfit amongst her incredibly accomplished family. When she is abandoned by her lover, Dougless prays for a knight in shining armor to rescue her.

Lord Nicholas Stafford is a man out of time. In 1564, he is facing and undeserved death as a traitor to the Crown. When he is called to 1988, he comes to a future he doesn't expect but decides to use to his advantage. NIcholas is determined to discover who framed him as a traitor and then return to his time and save himself and his family.

The action of the story involves uncovering the person who framed NIcholas but the heart of this story is how two people who live four hundred years apart can find each other and can they ever be together forever?

OPINION: This book has several negatives to overcome. Dougless is a doormat in the beginning of the book. Some people never get past the beginning because she is so pathetic, desperately seeking a perfect relationship in a man who treats her like dirt. Dougless, however, doesn't remain a static character. She learns that she can cope and deal with life and that she can be strong and independent in a way she never expected. She discovers the person who betrays Nicholas and then travels to the 15th century to save Nicholas. Dougless's ability to cope and thrive in the past demonstrates a fortitude that she never expected in herself. With Nicholas's love, Dougless recognizes that she is worthy of respect from a man. This novel follows her journey so readers need not fear that Dougless will be a doormat the entire book.

The ending of the novel is what has bothered me for years. There is a HEA as Dougless finds the present day man who possesses the soul of Nicholas after believing she has lost him forever. Their encounter is short and the book ends when Dougless realizes that Nicholas has returned to her. Intellectually, I can accept the ending. Their souls find one another and it is expected that they will build a life together. As much as my intellect recognizes the ending, my heart doesn't like it. Dougless may have found the soul of Nicholas, but there is something unfulfilling in her finding a man who knows nothing of her experiences and their life together. Intellectually, I can explain it. In the same way that Nicholas "knew" Dougless in the past before he ever met her, this new "vessel" will know Dougless...but emotionally, I still felt cheated in being left at the beginning of the journey.

While the ending still bothers me, I still really loved the story. The ending is brave and unique in romance. The story is coherent and operates by its own rules. The beauty of the story overcomes the parts I don't like. Nicholas's experiences in the modern world are funny without being silly. I loved how Dougless manipulates Nicholas by using his curiosity to distract him. I also really enjoyed how the book compares and contrasts the two time periods in a non-romantic fashion and without disdain.

The overwhelming love for the ages is beautiful and I cried when the two parted. The beauty and sense of pain and loss was heartbreakingly real and I can accept the ending because of it. This book makes you believe that souls that are meant for one another can find one another despite all obstacles including time. It is a romance that you cannot forgot even if, like me, you are frustrated by it.

WORTH MENTIONING: For some reason, the technicalities of the time travel really bugged me (probably because of the ending). Some characters appeared in both the present and the past and looked the same and yet Nicholas's soul appears looking completely different at the end. That just bugged me.

FINAL DECISION: I find this book incredibly frustrating. The love story between Dougless and Nicholas is incredibly moving and beautiful. I don't even mind the reincarnation angle but I wish that there was a coda or epilogue that would ease the transition to this new guy who has the soul of Nicholas. I recommend that every romance reader read it and make their own decision.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is the fifteenth book in the Montgomery/Taggart family series, but can be read entirely on its own without missing anything.

STAR RATING: I give this one a 4.25. I marked it down because I wish there was more to the ending. This book cries out for an epilogue.



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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: Hunting Fear (Fear, #1)


Hunting Fear (Fear, #1)
Hunting Fear (Fear, #1) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Good Entry in Bishop/Special Crimes Unit Series

Having been disappointed in the last several Bishop books because of the incomplete nature of the romance part of the story, I was more pleased with this book where there is more attention paid to the relationship between the main characters. Unfortunately, however, this book continues the trend of the major plotline being that the two main characters are keeping secrets from one another and that is the tension between them. The suspense plot, however, was very good and unexpected.

THE STORY: Lucas Jordan works for the SCU and his talent is finding missing people by sensing their fear. When the SCU is brought into a case where a killer is kidnapping and murdering people after receiving ransoms, Lucas feels like a failure as he is unable to find and save the people. Lucas is obsessive and shuts out people. A serious complication that arises is a lover from his past who is also psychic.

Samantha Burke is precognitive and is working as a fortune teller at a traveling fair. When she tells people they are going to be kidnapped, they don't take her seriously. Several years ago, she fell for Lucas, but he treated her poorly and abandoned her. She has inserted herself into the investigations for reasons of her own that she refuses to disclose.
Lucas and Samantha are complicated and much of the time disagreeable. They both have strong walls that prevent a serious relationship between them. This book is all about how they break down those walls while hunting for a killer who is focused on Lucas.

OPINION: The suspense story was really good in this one. No one is safe which is normally not the case in these types of books. The combative and testy relationship between Lucas and Samantha is frustrating at times but also integral to the story. Samantha especially is difficult to like because she is purposely pushing Lucas which makes her character seem more abrasive than normal. I did feel that this book was more balanced and complete than the more recent books.

WORTH MENTIONING: Some nice cameo appearances by characters that have appeared in other books. Once again Bishop knows more than he reveals.

FINAL DECISION: This book is worth the read. The unique nature of the crimes and the unexpected decisions as to the victims made the book much more compelling. I kept turning the pages to find out what was going to happen with the killer and I wanted to see what the secrets were that Lucas and Samantha possessed. I didn't like the characters as much as the previous book, but I did like the plot much better.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HUNTING FEAR is the seventh book in the Bishop/SCU series but can be read as a standalone. It is also the first book of the internal Fear Trilogy.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars based on the suspense plot that kept me interested throughout.



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Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Sense of Evil (Evil, #3)


Sense of Evil (Evil, #3)
Sense of Evil (Evil, #3) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book That Doesn't Know What It Is

SENSE OF EVIL is a cross-genre book that doesn't really have an identity. As a result, the book is often muddled and ultimately unsatisfying in many aspects. At the same time, the book has a wonderful premise and fascinating characters with dark pasts. This paranormal suspense thriller has a dash of romance that shows promise but keeps the characters somewhat distant.

THE STORY: Isabel Adams is an agent with the Special Crimes Unit of the FBI. Isabel is clairvoyant and has come to town to help with a serial killer who has targeted blonds who are strong and independent. When she arrives in town, the police chief is incensed because Isabel herself is strong, independent and blond. Isabel doesn't intend to be a target, but expects that she will be. Isabel begins to have problems with her abilities and also is attracted to the police chief which complicates the investigation. Isabel is determined to find the killer as she has a dark history with evil and has been hunting this killer for a long time.

Rafe Sullivan is the police chief in town. He is determined to find the killer who is stalking the women of his town. He calls in the SCU to help but doesn't expect someone like Isabel. He is attracted to her and wants to protect her from danger. Rafe has his own secret that he is trying to keep from the psychics who have come to help.

Can Isabel and Rafe work together to find the killer before he finally gets around to killing Isabel and disappearing again?

OPINION: Rafe and Isabel have one of the most interesting stories of any of the couples in the series. Isabel has a sad, dark story involving her activation of her psychic powers. Rafe's story is just as compelling. If the romance had been allowed to take the forefront in this book, I think it would have been a great book. Instead, just when Rafe and Isabel reach the point where they should be resolving their relationship, Hooper decides to give the reader only the view of a third party. This creates a distance between the reader and the couple. It feels that there was a fear that this would turn into more of a romance than the author preferred and thus the romance was abruptly cut short. This left a major part of the story feeling unfinished and unresolved.

My complaint about this series of books when written this way is that there is not much to the suspense/thriller portion of the book once the relationship is removed. The book is not so scary that it will keep a reader up at night. The book is not a mystery that can actually be solved since all the information for the solution is kept secret until the end. The major twist in this book was one that I figured out early in the story because it seemed obvious who did the crime even if I could not figure out why. Without the romance, this book would not be interesting at all. In fact, the only reason I rated this book so highly is because despite my ultimate dislike of the resolution, I did really like the characters and the set up of their relationship.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hollis Templeton who is now working with the SCU is a supporting character. Hollis was a victim in TOUCHING EVIL is now becoming an agent. Her story is a compelling and dark one as well and I look forward to reading more about her in the future.

FINAL DECISION: I rate this book as highly as I do solely on the strength of the relationship between Rafe and Isabel. If their romance had been handled better, I would have given this a higher rating. Despite its limitations, I think of this book as an enjoyable one time read.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SENSE OF EVIL is the sixth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. It is also the third book in the internal Evil Trilogy. The book can be read independent of the others in the series. The book most closely connected to this one is TOUCHING EVIL where Hollis is introduced.

STAR RATING: I give this book a 3.5 which means I'm not sorry I read it, but I probably wouldn't pick it up again unless I was reading the series over.



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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review: Whisper of Evil (Evil, #2)


Whisper of Evil (Evil, #2)
Whisper of Evil (Evil, #2) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



So Close to Being So Good

The Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series is a paranormal suspense series that includes romances but at times drifts between wanting to focus on the romance and then pulling back, wanting to focus on the crime mystery but then pulls back. At times the books feel like there is a deep struggle for what the focus of the book is.

THE STORY: Nell Gallagher returns to her hometown after the death of her father to settle the estate. It is not a good time to be in town because there have been four murders of prominent men who appear to have been killed because of secrets they possessed. It is quickly revealed that Nell actually works for the SCU and is in town undercover to help solve the murder. Her paranormal talent is that she can see scenes in locations that happened in the past and sometimes in the future. Her talent, however, makes her vulnerable because it takes a lot of energy. Returning has been difficult for Nell especially because of the presence of the man she left behind.

Max Tanner was in love with Nell as a young man and was puzzled and devastated when she abandoned him and left town. Now that she has returned, he has questions that he wants answered. But more than anything, he wants to protect Nell from the evil that is in town.

OPINION: This book was so close to be a great read. The relationship between Nell and Max was great. I liked the angst between them and how they find their way together again. I was intrigued by such a close psychic relationship between a non-talent and a talent. Unfortunately, the trouble in the relationship is really about Nell keeping secret information about their pasts. For much of the book, the question is what happened to make Nell leave. By the time the information is revealed, I just didn't feel that disclosure satisfied the buildup. I was disappointed because I really liked the couple and wished that the book had embraced their relationship more.

The story of the murders was interesting, but there was no way that a reader could have guessed the identity of the murderer. At the same time, the story was very creepy and the investigation stretched Nell's abilities and I wanted to know the solution.

I did like the book, I just felt that it could have been great rather than just good.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved the cameo appearance of Bishop and Miranda. Their appearance makes every book better.

FINAL DECISION: I have more mixed feelings about this book than my final decision. I would read this book again even though I was somewhat disappointed it. Nell and Max are one of my favorite couples of the series even though I wish there was more about their relationship development in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is the fifth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. It can be read independent of the other books in the series although there are some overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book a solid 4 stars.



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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Rock Addiction


Rock Addiction
Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Determined to Dislike It But Won Me Over Completely

I never would have chosen to read ROCK ADDICTION if I hadn’t gotten a free review copy. Each of us have books that we choose to read because we know and trust the author or the blurb on the back appeals to our archetypes or themes or situations we prefer. The rake/wallflower romance, the angst filled storylines, the friends to lovers trope. Then there are those archetypes or themes that we prefer to avoid. This book would not have appealed to me. Hard rocker, heavily tattooed guys are not my thing and nothing else suggested that this would be a keeper for me. Lately, however, I have been trying to expand my reading horizons and when I saw that Nalini Singh, who I have seen mentioned as an author to read, had a new book that could be read as a standalone and when I could get a preview copy for free, I decided to give it a try.

THE STORY: Molly Webster is a librarian and fulfills all of the stereotypes of the profession. She lives a blameless and boring life. As a teenager, her family was shattered by her father’s publicized affair with an underage girl and as a result, Molly is determined to live her life out of the limelight of the press. But then she goes to a party her sister is hosting and sees him…

Zachary Fox is everything that Molly is determined to stay away from. He is a bad boy rocker with a sexy reputation and a tattooed body. He lives in the light of the press. Fox and Molly have one of those lust at first sight moments and Molly decides to agree to a one-night stand before settling down finally into her quiet life. Fox has other ideas. He is determined not to let Molly go.

OPINION: I absolutely loved this book. The story is all about how Molly and Fox learn to live together and trust one another even as they love. It is a personal book delving deep into the give and take of their relationship. Fox falls for Molly quickly and it is he who is determined to not let Molly go. I loved how mature their relationship is. As obstacle after obstacle is tossed in their path, the two talk to one another, admit their fears and faults and build a strong trust between them. There are no magic solutions. The two struggle with their pasts and fears, but are determined that their relationship is more important than anything.
This book is super sexy. Hot, hot, hot! Scorching in fact, but there is such a wonderful balance between the sex and the emotional relationship that the sex does not feel gratuitous – even as it is quite plentiful!

WORTH MENTIONING: The secondary characters are clearly set up for books of their own. Molly’s half sister and her best friend have romances that are concurrent to this one and I expect will be the subject of the other books in the series.

FINAL DECISION: I recommend this book. It was not at all what I expected. The book was complex and the characters were mature and I loved that the book dealt with the working out of their relationship. I will definitely be reading the subsequent books in this series and now I am definitely going to check out Nalini Singh’s other series for which she is well-known.
CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is the first book in the Rock Kiss series.
STAR RATING: I give this book a 5 star rating which means that it is a definite re-read for me.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in order to provide an honest review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.




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Review: Touching Evil (Evil, #1)


Touching Evil (Evil, #1)
Touching Evil (Evil, #1) by Kay Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



More Paranormal Suspense Than Romance

TOUCHING EVIL marks the point where the Bishop series becomes more Paranormal Suspense than Paranormal Romantic Suspense. There is a romance involved, but there is no real relationship development between the characters. Because this is a change from prior books, I think it is important to note this change. I miss the more intense relationships of Hooper's earlier books, but I can accept her new direction.

THE STORY: Maggie Barnes is a remarkable police sketch artist. She is in the middle of a horrendous case. Someone is kidnapping, blinding and raping women. Maggie has been working with the victims to create a sketch of the suspect. People who work with Maggie know that she has something beyond talent. Some suspect that she is has the ability to enter the victim's mind and see what happened to them.

Maggie meets John Garrett whose sister was a victim of the madman. John doesn't believe in paranormal talents and yet he is surrounded by people who possess them. John is working alongside and in a parallel investigation to discover what happened to his sister. When he meets Maggie, he may have to admit that there is something beyond what he believed.

OPINION: This book has a very creepy feel. The crime is horrendous and Maggie's connection with the victim's is very personal that the descriptions are unsettling. I also did like the relationship between Maggie and John even though it is secondary to the suspense portion of the book. I liked seeing John have to reassess his skepticism and Hooper does a great job of slowly revealing the extent of Maggie's talent.

I have two problems with this book. First, the first 150 pages of this book are very confusing with the introduction of numerous characters without much context. The switching between the viewpoints of these characters makes it difficult to feel any connection to any of the characters for a long time. While some of these characters make appearances in later books, this book is pretty confusing because of it. Second, I didn't like the ultimate twist of who the killer was. The paranormal aspect of who the killer was and his connection with Maggie was not satisfying to me because there was little context to the twist. After the big build up over Maggie having to redeem her prior mistake, I didn't feel that there was enough exposition regarding that past in order to have the entire plot revolve around it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book introduces many of the characters that will be important in the subsequent Bishop/Special Crimes Unit novels. There is also a small cameo appearance by Bishop himself.

FINAL DECISION: This book is worth reading for fans of the series. I find that these books work better as a whole than individual books. Often, I cannot distinguish between the individual stories once I put the book down, but I tend to enjoy the story as I read it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This is the fourth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars. I enjoyed it while I was reading it (once I sorted out the characters, but there is nothing demanding a re-read.



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