Blog Tour – Review + Giveaway – TRAP AND TRACE by Megan Carney

TRAP AND TRACE Blog Tour

TRAP AND TRACE by Megan Carney

TRAP AND TRACE by Megan Carney

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
A sabotaged CIA operation makes Navy Trent a captive. But surviving the kidnapping is just the beginning of her ordeal. The CIA will kill her if she doesn’t stay quiet. The saboteurs will kill her if she does. Navy is forced into a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse where only her wits – and a little bit of luck – can keep her alive.

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My Review
Navy Trent’s life is turned upside down when she’s mistaken for an influential senator’s niece and is kidnapped by terrorists attempting to get the identities of CIA operatives. Her ability to escape and rescue her friends isn’t the end of her ordeal, it’s only the beginning. She knows more about what happened than she’s supposed to and someone wants to keep her quiet. Maybe permanently. TRAP AND TRACE is a fast-paced, wild ride, part thriller, part suspense, part mystery. I wasn’t sure I was going to like Navy in the beginning, but she won me over.

Plot
The book was expertly plotted. There were so many twists and turns, all of which were perfectly foreshadowed. I loved that I never knew what was going to happen next. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I was proven wrong. My only complaint is that there was a lot of repetitiveness, the same things being told from different points of view, that had me skimming portions.

Characters
I wasn’t sure about Navy at first. She seemed almost too contrived, but as the story unfolded and I learned more about her, it became apparent that everything she did was well within her established character. I loved the entire cast, from Jackson, to Byron, to Erin. Even William came across as the total tool he was for completely plausible reasons.

What I Enjoyed About TRAP AND TRACE
1. Plotting.
The plotting was among the best I’ve ever read!

2. Research. The author did her homework. The world of spies felt authentic and even something as simple as the right way to meditate was accurate.

3. Unexpected Twists. Kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to sleep.

4. Characters. Rich and complex, they drive the story in ways lesser characters couldn’t.

5. The End. No spoilers, here, but it was perfect.

Bottom Line
Expertly plotted suspense with so many unexpected twists. Will be reading more by this author!

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: TRAP AND TRACE
Author: Megan Carney
Pages: 453
Category: Adult Suspense/Thriller/Adventure
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Author Megan Carney

Author Megan Carney

About the Author
Megan Carney is an author, geek and amateur photographer living in the Twin Cities. She has ten years of experience in the field of computer security. Her previous short story publications include: ‘Flighty Youth’ in the Raritan, ‘Modern Mayhem’ in the Wayfarer, ‘Swing By Close’ in the Wayfarer, ‘Directions’ in the Bell Tower. ‘Swing By Close’ and ‘Directions’ both won first prize in the fiction sections of that issue. The Christian Science Monitor dubbed her self-published photography book, ‘Signs of My Cities’ as having “youthful zest.”

Her non-literary creations include: a robot to clean the bathroom tub, Zim and Gir costumes, No-Dig tomato stakes, StickFriend the bear bag hanger, and a burning coal costume so she could be Katniss for a night.

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Where to Find Megan Carney
Goodreads | Twitter

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Giveaway
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Book Review –Live Wire (Titan Series) by Cristin Harber

Live Wire Blog Tour

Live Wire (Titan #7.5) by Cristin Harber

Live Wire (Titan #7.5) by Cristin Harber

4.0 Stars

Synopsis
Where Are They Now? on iBooks!

Titan Group is expanding! New recruits mean Jared Westin has potential new hires to scrutinize. What he didn’t expect was his very pregnant wife Sugar to finagle her way onto the surveillance team as the prospects were assessed.

Her involvement in the simple observation goes dangerously wrong. She and best friend Lexi Black stumble into a problem with Russian mobsters. Sugar is forced to draw on her old ATF tricks, but weeks from her due date, she has no choice but to team up with Bishop O’Kane, a potential-new recruit and Parker Black, Lexi’s hacker husband, who must go undercover.

This is special ops novella is packed with high-stakes crime and intrigue, a baby story for Boss Man, and two steamy romances for two of Titan’s favorite couples!

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My Review
As a dedicated member of #TeamTitan, I was excited to get my hands on the latest book in the series. My only disappointment is that it’s only a novella, which means I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with my favorite badass characters as I wanted to. This installment brings us a very (very) pregnant Sugar, a nervous Jared, Lexie in her first field assignment, and an unsure Parker, who’s none too thrilled his wife is doing field work.

It was fun to see these four characters in a different situation than we’re used to. There’s plenty of suspense and romance, and because it’s a Titan novel, there’s some action. And if I have any complaints at all it’s that the action didn’t last long enough. The situation Sugar and Lexie get themselves into is over too fast for me and was wrapped up without enough butt kicking, shooting, and other action I’ve come to expect from a Cristin Harber novel. But, as I said, it’s a novella, so with limited pages, the author needed to reserve some room for the interpersonal stuff and boy does she deliver!

Plot
As her due date looms, Sugar is antsy to get out and do something and decides some reconnaissance of a potential new hire is something she can get Jared to agree to. She takes new BFF Lexie along for company and backup. Because they’re just doing surveillance. What could possible go wrong? But this is Titan, so of course it goes wrong in the worst possible way, showing us a side of Sugar we rarely see and a side of Jared we’ve never seen.

Characters
I love seeing Sugar and Jared out of their element. They stay true to character, but it’s more that we get to see some serious growth within both of them as they become parents for the second time and the first time to a newborn. Once again, Cristin Harber creates strong female characters that are easy to admire and tough male characters with a soft underbelly when it comes to the women they love.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Live Wire
1. Jared and Sugar. They’re one of the more intriguing couples in Titan, but we got to see a different side to them this time around, and I loved it.
2. Parker and Lexie. The two computer nerds are as cute as ever.
3. Bishop O’Kane. He’s awesome. I can’t wait to read his story next!
4. The romance. There were some pretty hot as well as sweet moments.
5. Pink camo. Because how is that not the cutest thing ever?

Bottom Line
Live Wire is fast-paced with lots of heat, action, and romance.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Live Wire
Series: Titan #7.5
Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Pages: 107
Category: Contemporary Romantic Suspense/Military Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | iBooks

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Author Cristin Harber

Author Cristin Harber

About the Author
Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.

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Where to Find Cristin Harber
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Titan Team
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Book Review + Giveaway – Delta Revenge (Delta Series) by Cristin Harber

Delta Revenge Blog Tour

Revenge (Delta Series #2) by Cristin Harber

Revenge (Delta Series #2) by Cristin Harber

4.0 Stars

Synopsis
A Tortured Hero with a Heart of Gold

Growing up on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Javier Almeida has only his older sister to protect him. When she’s sold to a human-trafficker, he vows to hunt down those responsible. Years later, Titan Group’s Delta team finds him, tattooed and brawling, a vigilante protector with information they want. They take him in and train him, working him harder than a man should be driven, until he’s a soldier harboring an obsession. Ready for revenge, Javier ghosts his way across the globe, tracking the men who took his sister and working elite private security jobs.

Meets Sweet and Sassy

Jilted at the altar, Sophia Cole turns the reception into a one-woman party. She’s intent on devouring all the cake and champagne, so she can bask in the calories she’s been avoiding. In the midst of the revelry, he walks in, the one man she can never ignore. Javier is her older brother’s black ops teammate—an automatic Do Not Go There. But if there’s one thing better than fondant and a buzz to ease the wounds of a cheating fiancé, it might be a one-night stand with a South American military man.

Game Changer

Javier didn’t expect to see Sophia again. He never thought he would even want to see her again. He shouldn’t have touched her, but his mind won’t stay away from her. Now, Sophia Cole is thousands of miles away from the safety of her parents’ lavish estate and working alongside him in hell. She’s a staffer at an Embassy, and he’s there to keep them alive. There are bombs and bullets and blood-hungry enemies. And then she’s taken. Gone. Just like his sister. But so much worse.

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My Review
I’m a huge fan of Cristin Harber (I think I say this every time I review one of her books) and an enormous fan of her characters. She writes the ultimate alpha male and tough as nails female protagonists that are easy to root for. This time is no exception, with a small caveat that Sophia grated on my nerves more often than she should have. I love that she works for the State Department and puts her life on the line for a cause she believes in. It’s a cause I believe in, too, so I immediately liked her. The way she handled her failed wedding was pure perfection. But she lost me when she wanted a white knight to save her. She didn’t seem the type. It was so out of character that I had to really stop and think about the circumstances she was in that made her suddenly feel this way. She’s still tough, and I still love her, but a little bit less than I wanted to.

Plot
Overall the plot is good, but it got repetitive when Sophia was put in danger not once, not twice, but three times. I would have liked to see more plot devices than the the same damsel in distress over and over again. There is a lot going on in the story, and it’s very edge-of-your-seat stuff as you expect from Ms. Harber, so there are any number of other nail-biting scenes she could have chosen for the first two plot points and save the big rescue for the climax. However, there’s a great little plot-twist at the end that saves it all for me.

Characters
Aside from the things I complained about above for Sophia, the characters are rock-solid Titan quality. Javier is fully developed, flawed, and easy to love. Sophia is also complex and interesting, I just wanted her to be tougher. And the rest of the Delta team is exactly as I want them to be.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The three rescues of Sophia – just felt like one too many.
2. Sophia’s need for a knight in shining armour. In my opinion, it made her come across weaker than she needed to be.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Delta: Revenge
1. Team Delta. They’re as hot and tough as ever.
2. Sophia’s mission. I love that she works helping women and children around the world.
3. Javier’s obsession. Needing to avenge his sister who was a victim of human trafficking is a great motivation that drives so much conflict within him.
4. The pacing. Excellent, as always! The story moves and never slows down.
5. Sophia’s botched wedding. The way she handles it made me instantly love her.

Bottom Line
Delta: Revenge is fast paced, steamy and #TeamTitan all the way!

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Delta: Revenge
Series: Delta #2
Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Pages: 250
Category: Contemporary Romantic Suspense/Military Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo

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Author Cristin Harber

Author Cristin Harber

About the Author
Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.

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Where to Find Cristin Harber
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Titan Team

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Giveaway
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Review + Giveaway – To The Stars (Thatch) by Molly McAdams

To The Stars (Thatch Series #2) by Molly McAdams

To The Stars (Thatch Series #2) by Molly McAdams

4 Stars

Synopsis
In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together.

He promised to wait for her. She told him he was wasting his time. Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life.

When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else.

Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…?

My Review
To the Stars is intense, romantic, and nearly impossible to put down. Harlow and Knox meet when Harlow is far too young — jailbait young — but Knox swears he’ll wait. Harlow counts down the days until she turns 18 and can be with Knox forever. But three years is a long time for teens to wait, and life sometimes intervenes unexpected and unintended ways. Harlow ends up married to a man she thought was perfect, but turns out he’s a perfect monster. The physical and emotional abuse is hard to read at times, but it is such a driving force in the story, and Molly McAdams never sugar coats it.

Plot
The pacing is fantastic, never dragging. I’m usually not a big fan of flashbacks, but they worked in this case. The author introduces us to the characters, then shows us how they became the people they are. The backstories unfold slowly, piecing their puzzles together until we can see it clearly. There were some unexpected twists and the climax was a thrill-ride.

Characters
The characters are exceedingly well-developed. Not all of them are likeable, even Harlow had her moments, but they are incredibly whole and believable. Through the story, both Knox and Harlow grew in organic ways that fit the story and their characters.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The abuse.
 It’s not that it didn’t work for me, but it was just really, really hard to read. It was necessary for the story, though.

What I Enjoyed About To the Stars
1. The pacing.
 The story moved at a solid pace, never slowing down.
2. The character development. The characters were deep and fascinating, even the unlikeable ones.
3. Devotion. Harlow’s and Knox’s devotion to one another was sweet, but Knox’s friends devotion to him was a bromance worth reading.
4. Enduring love. Knox and Harlow may have taken different routes in life, but their love for one another was the tether connecting them across seven years.
5. Grey. As the sister of Knox’s roommate, she has her own story, which is book 1 of the series, and I can’t wait to dive into it.

Bottom Line
To the Stars is an honest portrayal of abuse, love, and breaking free.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: To the Stars
Series: Thatch #2
Author: Mollyl McAdams
Publisher: WilliamMorrow
Release Date: February 10, 2016
Pages: 387
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

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Author Molly McAdams

Author Molly McAdams

About the Author
Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies.

When she’s not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes.

She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm … or under one in a bathtub if there are tornadoes. That way she can pretend they aren’t really happening.

Where to Find Molly McAdams
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Giveaway
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Month in Review – December 2015

Two weeks late, but you know, the holidays… Also, some front yard landscaping, and Aussie exchange student for eleven days, and final edits and publishing of The Uprising (which comes out on Tuesday!). Better late than never. Here are the books I read and reviewed in December, 2015.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Story: 4 Stars
Audiobook: 5 Stars

Title: Gone Girl
Author: 
Gillian Flynn
Release Date: 
May 24, 2012
Publisher:
Random House Audible
Narrators:
Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Length:
19 Hours 11 Minutes
Genre:
 Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Story Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating:
 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Bottom Line
Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.

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Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

Bad Romance A Stepbrother Novel by by Jen McLaughlin

4 Stars

Title: Bad Romance: A Stepbrother Novel
Author: 
Jen McLauchlin
Publisher: 
Loveswept
Release Date: 
September 15, 2015
Pages:
242
Genre: 
New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 
4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis
In this explosive novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin, a good girl falls for the ultimate bad boy: her stepbrother. Perfect for fans of Sabrina Paige, Caitlin Daire, and Krista Lakes, Bad Romance proves that passion can be so wrong it’s right.

Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

Bottom Line
Bad Romance is a page-turning romance about forbidden love and learning to live your own life.

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Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

Royal Marriage Market by Heather Lyons

4.5 Stars

Title: Royal Marriage Market
Author: Heather Lyons
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Pages: 335
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis
Every decade, the world’s monarchs and their heirs secretly convene to discuss global politics and social issues—and arrange marriages between kingdoms. Elsa may be the Hereditary Princess of Vattenguldia, but she finds the entire situation archaic and unsavory. While she wants what’s best for her country, she isn’t about to jump into an unwanted relationship—let alone a marriage—with a virtual stranger. Of course, her feelings matter little to her parents, whose wheeling and dealings over trade pacts and alliances achieved at her expense begin the moment they set foot in California for the Summit. So when a blindingly handsome royal runs into her, she doesn’t hesitate to tell him there’s no way she’s marrying him.

Christian is all too happy to agree: no marriage. As the Hereditary Grand Duke of Aiboland, his main goal is to get through the summit without a bride being foisted on him. Which is why he suggests they help each other field potential intendeds. As Christian slowly gets to know Elsa, though, he realizes they have a lot more in common than just their feelings about the Royal Marriage Market. Only he can’t fall for her, because royal or not, they’re not meant for each other. Elsa and Christian will have to evaluate matters of the heart verses those of state and crown, and decide whether or not tradition trumps love.

Bottom Line
Royal Marriage Market is a fun twist on the contemporary romance genre with plenty of chemistry and more than a few laughs.

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The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer's Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus by Fred White

3.5 Stars

Title: The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus: An Interactive Guide for Developing Ideas for Novels and Short Stories
Author: Fred White
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Pages: 320
Category: Writing Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Links: GoodreadsAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
Endless ideas at your fingertips, and at the turn of a page…

Need an idea for a short story or novel? Look no further than The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus. It’s far more than a collection of simple writing prompts. You’ll find a vast treasury of story ideas inside, organized by subject, theme, and situation categories, and listed alphabetically for easy reference. Author and award-winning writing instructor Fred White shows you how to build out and customize these ideas to create unique plots that reflect your personal storytelling sensibilities, making The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus an invaluable tool for generating creative ideas and vanquishing writer’s block—for good.

Inside you’ll find:
•2,000 unique and dynamic story ideas perfect for novels and short stories of any genre or writing style
•Twenty major idea categories, such as The Invasion of X, The Transformation of X into Y, Escape from X, The Curse of X, and more
•Multiple situations that further refine the major categories, such as The Creation of Artificial Life, The Descent Into Madness, Love in the Workplace, The Journey to a Forgotten Realm, and more
•Invaluable advice on how to customize each idea.

The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus is an interactive story generator that opens the door to thousands of new story arcs and plotlines.

 Bottom Line
The Writer’s Idea Thesaurus lives up to its name as a unique reference guide to aid writers in developing story ideas.

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Next Door to a Star (Star Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hagar

4 Stars

Title: Next Door to a Star
Series: Star Series #1
Author:
Krysten Lindsay Hagar
Publisher: Limitless Publishing, LLC
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 185
Genre: 
Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon InternationalBarnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | BAM!

Synopsis
Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible. After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend. Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte. To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins… He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again. Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad. Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Bottom Line
While Next Door to a Star moves slow at times, it’s filled with a colorful cast of young teens who think and act like the kids on the cusp of adulthood they are.
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Audiobook Review – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Story: 4 Stars
Audiobook: 5 Stars

Synopsis
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior.

Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

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My Review
I got the unabridged version of this book from Audible. All 19 hours and 11 minutes worth. At times, I loved the story and took the long way to and from my destination, or lapped the block one more time to continue listening. Other times, I hated it, chose music over audiobooks for months at a time. It took me nearly ten months to finish it. What I can’t deny is that Gillian Flynn is a hell of a writer. The story is intriguing, captivating, unnerving. The audiobook production is among the best I’ve ever listened to, and I listen to a lot of audiobooks. The narrators are talented and brought the characters to life. And what characters they are. Complex, deep, fully three-dimensional, and unfortunately, utterly loathsome.

I absolutely salivated over the brilliant writing of Gillian Flynn, took notes, wished I could write like that. The story was engaging at times, difficult to read at others. The pacing was slow in spots, and those were the times I felt myself less inclined to listen for awhile. At other times, it was fast, riveting. At no point did I figure out what was going to happen next. The plot twists are inspired. So with all of this going for it, why couldn’t I give it five stars? The book left me unsettled, and not in the way a good thriller does. It left me feeling ambivalent toward all the characters, as in I don’t really care what happens to them. In some ways, I wish I’d never read about them. And the ending was flat, not living up to the expectations the author set with her amazing plotting throughout.

Plot
The plotting was fantastic. There were so many twists and turns and unexpected surprises. Gillian Flynn is a master of pre-shadowing. Everything that happens has a purpose that may not become clear until a long time later, but her method of storytelling ensures even the smallest detail is memorable.

Characters
The characters are well developed, believable, stunningly crafted. Even the smallest character was thoroughly developed. I just didn’t care for any of them. Didn’t care what happened to them, and still don’t. But they will not soon be forgotten.

What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The ending. I absolutely despised how it just ended in a way that felt unfinished. Sometimes, I wonder if maybe it went on longer than necessary, other times, I think it stopped too soon. I just know it feels unfinished and not in a “sequel is coming” kind of way.

2. The characters. Man, I hate them all, with the exception of maybe Margo and Boney. I can’t deny the characters are three-dimensional and wholly realistic. The world is full of people who are difficult or impossible to like. But in the end, I had no one to root for in Gone Girl.

What I Enjoyed About Gone Girl
1. The writing. Flawless, beautiful prose underlies a dark mystery with contemptible characters.

2. The plot twists. There were so many of them and they were so perfectly woven in, they were nearly seamless.

3. The narration. Both voice actors were amazing. This is one of the best audiobook productions I’ve ever listened to.

4. The character development. Yes, I loathe them, but they are so well crafted, I have to remind myself they’re fictional.

5. Attention to detail. The vivid writing made the scenes come alive in my mind as I listened. In some ways, I feel as if I watched a movie.

Bottom Line
Gone Girl is a disturbing tale, beautifully written, and the audiobook version is one of the best produced I’ve ever listened to.

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About the Audiobook
Title:
 Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Release Date: May 24, 2012
Publisher: Random House Audible
Narrators: Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne
Length: 19 Hours 11 Minutes
Genre: Contemporary Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Story Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Audio Production Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | AudibleAmazon | Barnes & Noble

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Author Gillian Flynn

Author Gillian Flynn

About the Author
Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.

Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.

In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.

Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Where to Find Gillian Flynn
GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook

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Review + Giveaway – The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

The Rebel by Adrienne Giordano

4 Stars

Synopsis

Bad to the bone…in all the right ways 

A brilliant civil lawyer, David Hennings has always been the outsider—at odds with his wealthy family, shunning relationships, defying convention as a sexy leather-jacketed biker. Which is why sculptor Amanda LeBlanc agrees to his request to reconstruct a skull from a cold case murder. The instant heat between them is scorching. 

But once Amanda takes the job and gets too close to the rebellious attorney, her carefully balanced life is upended by a series of methodical attacks. Someone doesn’t want her to finish the job. Now David will risk everything not to lose the woman he unknowingly put in jeopardy.

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My Review
I love a good mystery. Add romance and instant heat and I’m there. The Rebel pairs pragmatic artist, Amanda, with edgy civil lawyer, David. David comes from a family of lawyers, but he’s the only one to shy away from criminal law, so it’s ironic he’s the one his mother enlists to convince Amanda to reconstruct the identity of a woman only from her skull. Sparks fly upon their first meeting, but they dance around their attraction for more than half the book before anything happens. There was more than enough intrigue, and good juicy mystery, and lots of unresolved sexual tension to keep me invested.

The timeframe is short, so a lot is packed into several fast-paced days, including a red hot romance. Despite that, the pacing of the writing itself is steady rather than intense. It moves, but for me, never reached the I-can’t-put-it-down stage. Not to say that I didn’t find that I wasn’t interested in finishing it, only that I was okay to wait until morning to finish reading. It was a good solid story, though, with interesting characters and an intriguing plot.

Plot
On the surface, it seems the plot is the mystery of the skull found in the prologue, but it’s really the story of David and Amanda’s romance. They’re thrown together because of the mystery, and danger follows them as a result, driving conflict. The romance moves almost too quickly based on the compressed timeframe of only a few days, but in the span of the story itself, it unfolds slowly. But at no time did I doubt these two would end up together.

Characters
The characters are where this story really shines. Adrienne Giordano creates deep, layered characters who are exceedingly likeable as they spew witty banter. The family dynamics of David, his siblings, and his mother are as real as it gets and were at the root of some of the best scenes in the book.

Writing
The author does a great job of setting the scene, getting us inside her character’s heads, and developing those characters. There were a few pacing issues, but nothing major. There was also a pretty good twist I didn’t see coming, even though it was excellently foreshadowed.

Ending
Things wrapped up pretty much the way I expected in a satisfying conclusion.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About The Rebel:
1. The mystery. When a skull is found, the hunt is on for the identity it belongs to, putting everyone in danger.

2. The flirty banter between David and Amanda. Their attraction is instant and it shows.

3. Family dynamics. The sibling rivalry and revelry between David and his brother and sister is palpable.

4. The twist. I won’t give it away, but it was fun to not figure it out ahead of time.

5. Jenna. The smart, tough investigator is a solid supporting character and I’d love to read a whole book from her point of view. Think Kalinda from The Good Wife.

Bottom Line
The Rebel is a mystery wrapped in a romantic suspense with a big dose of fully-developed characters.

Disclaimer
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: The Rebel
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Pages: 234
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay | Harlequin

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Author Adrienne Giordano

Author Adrienne Giordano

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. 

She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier).

She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. 

Where to Find Adrienne Giordano
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | Street TeamFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway
There is a tour-wide giveaway of a $25.00 eGift Card to an online book retailer of winner’s choice and three swag packs.

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Review + Giveaway – Impossible Promise (Unchecked Series) by Sybil Bartel

Impossible Promise Blog Tour

I discovered Sybil Bartel’s edgy characters and dark romances with No Apologies last summer. I did a little dance when I found out she’d written a new book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. And I was not disappointed. There is no sophomore slump with Impossible Promise. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for information on the book, buy links, and details on Sybil’s giveaway.

Impossible Promise (Unchecked #1) by Sybil Bartel

Impossible Promise (Unchecked #1) by Sybil Bartel

5 Stars

Synopsis
Three years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.

Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.

Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.

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My Review
I was immediately sucked into Layna’s story. It begins in a church where she escapes to find a moment of solitude — something she desperately needs because she’s constantly being watched, followed, and threatened, by the mysterious Miami. Blaze Johnson is the marine in the pew next to her — a trained soldier who knows when someone is in need of help. The problem is, everyone who tries to help Layna winds up dead.

The book is fast-paced full of sexual as well as other tension, and builds to astronomical heights. It’s been awhile since I’ve stayed up way too late reading, but Impossible Promise not only kept me up late, but also kept me from working on my own manuscript because I just flat-out couldn’t put it down!

Fair warning, it does have a love triangle, so if you loathe those, be forewarned. However, this is no Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle. This is intense, completely believable, and utterly angst-ridden. This is romantic suspense at it’s best. Blaze will do whatever it takes to keep Layna safe, even though she never asked him to, and her feelings for him make him being involved dangerous for both of them. The guilt she feels at putting him in danger drives some of her more stupid moves, but it’s also understandable.

Blaze takes her to his best friend, Talon, to help him guard Layna while he simultaneously deals with his dying mother. The animosity-turned-witty-banter between Talon and Layna provides some of the best lines in the book, and it’s easy to see why she confuses her friendship with him something more.

Plot
The main plot is probably the romance, but it could equally be the mystery surrounding Layna’s parents’ death as well the identity of Miami and what he really wants from her. Regardless of the main plot, all of it is really well done. The author teases us with information, with sexual chemistry, with danger, only to start over again, with another bit of information, another intense moment of unresolved sexual tension, and more dangerous events. See, this is why I couldn’t stop reading!

Characters
Every character is intriguing. Layna is a walking post-traumatic-stressball, having been the sole witness to her parents’ brutal murder. Blaze has his own demons that drive everything he does, and Talon, well, let’s just say there’s gotta be something dark behind that smart mouth of his. And when all three of them get together, it’s explosive in the good best-4th-of-July-fireworks kind of way.

World Building
Set in south Florida, the setting is almost as important as the characters and Sybil Bartel does an excellent job of painting a very three-dimensional picture of her locales.

Ending
I enjoyed the ending, but it left me craving more, so I’m happy to know the second book will be out soon. It’s not a cliffhanger, but it’s definitely a “I need MORE” kind of ending.

Top Five Things I loved about Impossible Promise:
1. Talon. Everything about this bronzed surfer is fascinating. He’s so much more than a cliche and I’m hoping the next book will give me more insights into one of the most complex characters I’ve encountered since Sawyer from LOST.

2. Layna. She’s a hot mess and cries more than any protagonist I’ve read in awhile, but considering her young age and what she’s been through, it fits her character. And as much as she cries, she’s one tough cookie.

3. Blaze. He’s the strong, silent, scary type, and he does it well. His feelings for Layna humanize him in a way that makes him both sympathetic and admirable.

4. Sexual tension. This is some of the best I’ve ever read.

5. The writing. The author creates the perfect blend of ingredients to hook me, and keep me hooked page after page after page.

Bottom Line
Once again, Sybil Bartel created a character that annoyed the heck out of me only to suck me in and make me root for her by the end.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Impossible Promise
Series: Unchecked Series #1
Author: Sybil Bartel
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: March 23, 2015
Pages: 276
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Author
I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but really, any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.

I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never rely on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband

Where to Find Sybil Bartel
Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

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Giveaway
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Review + Giveaway – Black Dawn (Titan Series) by Cristin Harber

Black Dawn Blog Tour

Yay, the Titan boys are back! This time around it’s all about Parker. There is something so wickedly hot about a smart guy. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for information on the book, buy links, and details on Cristin’s giveaway.

Black Dawn (Titan Series #6) by Cristin Harber

Black Dawn (Titan Series #6) by Cristin Harber

5 Stars

Synopsis
What happens when nothing is as it seems?

Lexi Dare is on a one-woman mission to stay alive. Both at home and at work. Because how did she end up with a ring on her finger and an abuser in bed as she readies to hit the high point in her career? Everything should be perfect. Amazing job. Handsome fiancé. It’s all a disaster.

Parker Black is the brains behind Titan Group, an elite security firm. In his world, everything is ordered and controlled, except what he feels for his buddy’s girl. Something in her eye screams for help, but he has no idea what.

When Lexi disappears, Parker realizes what he should have known. The lines blur between friendships and work, and they must find each other to survive a terror attack that only Lexi can stop.

Black Dawn can be read as a standalone and does not have a cliffhanger.

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My Review
The Titan Series is my guilty pleasure. Imagine your favorite thriller with a steamy romance as a co-plot? That’s what you get with the Titan Series, and Black Dawn is no exception. Lexi is an elite hacker, involved in an abusive relationship. She’s created a unique software program and selling it to the highest bidder. Parker Black is Titan, with a head for analysis and an eye for Lexi. When things in Lexi’s private life take a dangerous turn, Parker steps in, and gets caught up in the middle of a potentially international incident, with Lexi’s software at the center.

Plot
There are two solid plots — the romance between Parker and Lexi, and the mystery and intrigue surrounding Monarch, Lexi’s software. Both are exceptionally well done. Cristin Harber builds suspense and heat, weaving them together, like no other single author I can think of.

Characters
Parker’s my second-favorite Titan, Cash still holds that top spot. Parker’s tough, smart, and his inability to explain his feelings makes him endearing. Lexi is about as complex as they come. She was all over the place and at times I felt she was so out of character, but that double-sided, lost-and-found Lexi was such a part of her identity, part of her growth and development as the story unfolded. Some of the Titan cast made cameos but not nearly enough for me. A few new characters that were introduced were interesting, especially Shadow, and even Matt, as much as I loathed him.

World Building
The world building is Titan at it’s best –black ops, high-tech goodies, armored vehicles, and total badassery.

Ending
Harber has a way of building up the suspense, taking us to a pinnacle of danger and action, and Black Dawn is exactly what I was hoping it would be.

Top Five Things I loved about Black Dawn:
1. Bacon Byte. Come on, a little wrinkly snoring pudge of a pug named Bacon is about as cute as it gets.

2. Parker. He’s hot, tough, smart, really the trifecta of male perfection.

3. Hacking. Never has computer hacking been so sexy.

4. Office sex. ‘Nuf said.

5. Shadow. Lexi’s colleague is the father figure every girl should have.

Bottom Line
The latest in the Titan Series delivers danger, adventure, and steamy romance as only Cristin Harber can.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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About the Book
Title: Black Dawn
Series: Titan Series #6
Author: Cristin Harber
Publisher: Mill Creek Press
Release Date: June 14, 2015
Pages: 279
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Kobo

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Author Cristin Harber

Author Cristin Harber

About the Author
Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance.

Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.

She lives outside Washington, DC with her family and English Bulldog.

Where to Find Cristin Harber
Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Titan Team

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Giveaway
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Book Review + Giveaway – Brody (The Bang Shift Series) by Mandy Harbin

Brody Blog Tour

Brody (The Bang Sift Series) by Mandy Harbin

Brody (The Bang Sift Series) by Mandy Harbin

4 Stars

Synopsis
Brody “Brutus” Jackson isn’t your average small-town mechanic. The shop where he spends his days doubles as the headquarters for the mercenary group he works with. They jokingly call themselves the Bang Shift because the government contracts they take are the less savory ones, and they’re all just shady enough to do what’s necessary to get the jobs done.

As far as Brody’s concerned, it’s the perfect arrangement for a man with no memory of his past, and no hope for the future.

Under FBI protection, Alexandria Collins and her son have been in hiding for ten years. When it’s time to move again, her piece of crap car breaks down and the man giving her a tow is the biggest, hottest guy she’s ever seen. She is determined to ignore the need her long-neglected body hungers for.

After all, the last man she showed interest in put a gun to her head.

Brody thinks the skittish Xan is sexy as hell, but it’s not her hot body that has him rocked to his core. He knows her from somewhere, and in his line of work, that’s a dangerous thing.

Following orders have never been this hard, but when he finds out she’s his next assignment, he will protect her at all costs … even if what she needs protection from most is him.

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My Review
The story opens strong and only builds from there. Xan is nearly killed by her husband, Marco Collins, a notorious gangster. But she survives and is placed into witness protection where we catch up with her and her son twelve years later. As the date of her ex-husband’s release from prison approaches, she and her son are relocated to a small town. On her way into her new town, her car breaks down and has to be towed to a garage that just happens to be overrun with hot, hot, hot men. One is Brody and it’s mutual lust at first sight. Thus the setup. The rest of the story is about these two battling their own desires, and losing. Underlying it all is Brody’s secret, and the reappearance of the ex husband we all know is coming.

However, what should be a formulaic romance actually has a few jaw-dropping twists that kept me on the edge of my seat and guessing. And I never once guessed right. That’s pretty hard to do. I can usually figure some of it out along the way, but in this case, I guessed wrong every single time.

Plot
There are two main plots running simultaneously — the romance between Xan and Brody and the safety of Xan and her son, Scott, once Xan’s ex-husband is released from prison. But several smaller subplots run through the story, including Brody’s memory loss and a possible connection he has with Xan from both of their pasts, the identity of a dirty FBI agent who may or may not be working with Xan’s ex-husband, and the hint of something more between Xan’s neighbor, Roxy, and Bear, one of the other Bang Shifters. The romance angle was relatively unsurprising, but nonetheless rewarding, but the plot involving the ex-husband was twisty, riveting and full of surprises.

World Building
The world building was probably the area I found the weakest. Some of the details of being an FBI witness under protection were off. For one, she was under FBI protection and not the U.S. Marshalls. FBI agents typically only protect incarcerated witnesses. Another is when she lets her secret slip to her neighbor and doesn’t call her agent to report this breach. Especially given her fear of her ex-husband and the fact that he’s been recently paroled. There were a few other things that seemed implausible, but it didn’t ruin the story for me.

Characters
The characters were likeable and I rooted for them, although they weren’t especially deep and there was little to no character development through the story. Still I found all of the m to be believable and acting according to their respective characters.

Bottom Line
Brody is a fun, fast read that has edge-of-your-seat suspense, a steamy romance, and a couple of jaw-dropping twists.

Disclaimer
I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book
Title:
 Brody
Series: Bang Shift #1
Author: Mandy Harbin
Publisher: Mandolin Park
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Pages: 233
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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Author Mandy Harbin

Author Mandy Harbin

About the Author
Mandy Harbin is an award-winning, bestselling author of several books across multiple romance genres ranging from contemporary to paranormal erotic romance. She is also the number one bestselling author in teen romance under the pen name M.W. Muse with her popular Goddess Series. She is a Superstar Award recipient, Reader’s Crown and RWA Passionate Plume finalist, and has received Night Owl Reviews Top Pick distinction many times.

She studied writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, earned several degrees, and even pursued an MBA until she realized becoming an author did not have to remain an unfulfilled dream. Mandy is a PAN member of the RWA and lives in a small Arkansas town with her non-traditional family, and although she is a direct descendant of British royalty, they refuse to call her princess. When she’s not penning her latest book, you can find her hanging out online where she loves to connect with fellow readers or stalking Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

Where to Find Jen McLaughlin
Goodreads | Website | NewsletterFacebook | Twitter

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Giveaway