October 30, 2008
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It all started with three spoiled standard poodles with an uncanny knack for mischief. Kasidy Evans knew she’d have her hands full, but she never imagined she’d find them engaged in a tug of war with a gloriously naked man—over his shorts. Apparently the willful canines took exception to their new owner, and Kasidy had to agree. Wyatt Love was nothing but a gigolo. Kasidy told herself his gorgeous, bronzed body was off limits, and his unexpected sweetness did not touch her heart, but the truth was, she found Wyatt Love…Completely Irresistible


Wyatt Love is stunned when he appointed caretaker of her estate after the death of one of his former clients at the escort service. It's only temporary until the long lost granddaughter arrives to claim her heritage. What he doesn't know is that the granddaughter is already under his nose, incognito.
Kasidy Evans has her own reasons for not wanting anything to do with her grandmother and her inheritance. She infiltrates the estate looking for evidence to exonerate a loved one who's in trouble.
This is the start of a fun book filled with confusion, mischief, passion and miscommunication

Kasidy is the daughter of a wealthy heiress and a car mechanic with a criminal past. She is passionate, cautious and a tomboy with a mind of her own.
Her parents were together against her grandmother's wishes and they were always on the run from her detectives who were trying to get Kasidy and her mother to return home. After her mother's death Kasidy is determined to maintain the independent life her mother strived for. Due to some miscommunication she believes Wyatt was her grandmother's gigolo and because of it she has a hard time dealing with the fiery attraction between them.

Wyatt Love is the likeable, charming and playful one of the Love twins. His brother Dillon is the serious and introverted one. Wyatt is the one people like immediately because of his outgoing personality. He likes to play practical jokes and kid around. But when he meets Kasidy and falls in love with her, head over heels, it's the perfect opportunity for Dillon to turn the tables on him and pay him back for all the pranks Wyatt pulled on him over the years.

The secondary characters are formed by a parade of family members and friends, round up by Dillon to exact his plan of revenge on Wyatt. The three poodles, Larry, Moe and Curly, play their mischievous and evil part and they were crucial in bringing Wyatt and Kasidy together.
And of course the trilogy wouldn't be complete without another appearance in the final book by my favorite recurring secondary character: Mrs. Scuttle. She played her part true to form and provided the laughs at exactly the right time and place. She had me laughing out loud on many occasions.


The writing is smooth and fast-paced without any heavy or intense emotions the book was full of light and witty fun. The romance was filled with endearing and funny moments against a background of a very nice plot that intrigues despite its simplicity. The only small let down in the plot was the fact that the miscommunication between Kasidy and Wyatt continues a few pages to many when Kasidy’s identity is revealed. For me some things could have been cleared up earlier in the story.

This trilogy has left me wondering how a duo of authors pulls this of, because while reading you really can't tell it's more than one person writing the story. I would love to know what their method is. Do they each write a scene or a chapter? Maybe one day I'll find out.

Sheridon Smythe weaves humor, characters and romance into a delightful, feel-good story. It put a smile on my face from beginning to end with a plot that has a surprising conclusion, with a great romance between appealing characters and with secondary characters that shine brightly but don't steal the show.

I've waited a long time to get my hands on this third and last installment of the Mr. Complete Trilogy and boy, it was worth the wait. I rolled into the witty world of scrumptious escorts as if it hadn't been more than a year since I read Dillon's story. From page 1 COMPLETELY IRRESISTIBLE kept me enthralled, amused, aroused and endeared.



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October 21, 2008
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For Manannán mac Lir, a musician and Celtic demigod, life had become a blur of post-gig parties, expensive whisky, and cheap sex. And then the baby almost died--a baby he had sworn to protect. On the hunt for the would-be killer, Mac finds Artemis Black, a stunningly dangerous woman who's inexplicably able to intertwine life magic with death magic. For the safety of his people, he should destroy her. But the aching vulnerability in her eyes calls to him. And the raw desire she inspires has nothing to do with a spell. Their love may be forbidden, but Mac and Artemis can't go back once they've made...THE CROSSING


Mac is the son of the seagod Lir and Niniane, queen of the Sidhe. He hasn't been his happy-go-lucky self since teaming up with the Immortals to save their brother Tain. He doesn't enjoy his fame as a musician, the attention or women and feels he doesn't enjoy life anymore. He goes to Kalen and Christine (main couple from book 3) to figure out what is wrong with him and what to do about it. But before he has a chance to do so, he stumbles upon Artemis, a witch connected to all four elements (earth, water, fire, air) and able to practice both life and death magic. She has been stealing life-essence from faerie-villages and as guardian of Celtic magical creatures Mac confronts her and together they embark on a journey that has an outcome nobody could ever imagine.

Artemis and Mac's first encounter sets the tone for their book. It's intense and explosive. They meet under the most difficult circumstances but they are truly meant for each other. Both Mac and Artemis are longing to share the love they have to give.
The attraction is instant for Mac, even if she is connected to death magic. Artemis just wants to get rid of him because he is impeding her important quest. She isn't stealing life essence for the fun of it. She must do it to save someone very important to her.

Mac is a character that appealed to me a great deal in THE AWAKENING (book 3) but somehow Joy Nash's heroes don't seem to keep my attention. They don't come of the pages as the heroes in the other books do. I had the same problem with Kalen in his book. Though Mac did do a bit better than Kalen, there were some actions that were so out of character they puzzled me even when the explanation for them was given.

The heroines on the other hand do have that magnetic pull on me. As I liked Christine in her book, I also liked Artemis in this book. She needs balance of her abilities because without it things can turn ugly for her. Her attraction to Mac disturbs this balance and even though she has a powerful motive for her actions it doesn't excuse the fact that she causes harm with her death magic. She is strong, loyal and loving and her actions are well motivated. I could really relate to her.

The main players are Artemis and Mac and their journey and alongside them a parade of magical creatures passes through: sidhe, faeries, golems, harpies and demons. They form an extensive compilation of secondary characters, but all with very minor parts except for yet again an Ancient demon (Old One) that represents the evil. The secondary cast is elaborate but never intrusive. They completed the book and complemented the main characters.

Balance is crucial for Artemis and it's the main theme of the book. Balance between light and dark, balance between life and death.
I must say Joy Nash did an amazing job with the plot of this book. It kept me turning the pages as fast as I could, wondering how it was all going to end.
But this was also due to the writing style of this installment. It was magical and luscious but flowing and easy to read at the same time. I flew through the pages.

The dosage of information was perfect, providing little bits and pieces of information at a time, enticing the reader to learn more and know why the characters take certain actions. I liked how Joy Nash portrayed their journey into Hell and it's many levels, although at the end it seemed like she rushed it a bit in order to wrap things up. Still the plot was unpredictable, original and very well put together.

This book is connected to the Immortals series through Mac's character but it can be perfectly read as a stand-alone. I even will go as far and say that it's better as a stand alone than as part of the series. And I would recommend this as a great book, even, or maybe especially, for readers who are not that into the Immortals series.

Comparing it to the other installments it's much better than the other book by Nash in the series but compared to the books by Ashley and Popp I still have to classify Nash at the bottom of the list.
This has made rating this book very difficult. As a stand-alone it definitely falls in the 4-star category but I must also take into account that the book is part of a series and within that series it doesn't reach the level of the other books.

Overall I think Joy Nash did a great job with this book. I loved Artemis, I liked Mac, I enjoyed their story and their journey, I admired the plot and I had fun with the secondary characters.


Quotes:
The woman was a perfect, pure, high note. His long life was like a song that had been waiting for that single tone to complete it.

Mac to Artemis: "Immortality is vastly overrated (...). A meandering song that had no hope of ever achieving that last beautiful note. The final tone that gives the whole melody a deeper meaning"


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October 14, 2008
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Back cover blurb:
Kerry Sullivan is running out of time-and patience. With her brother wrongfully accused of embezzling millions, she can’t face one more humiliating hang-up from the man she’s begging for help. Rafael Dawson may be one of the top electronic security experts in the country - and the only man who can prove her brother’s innocence–but his phone manners are appalling. Damn Yankee. Too bad kidnapping the man isn’t an option. Or is it?

There’s nothing Kerry wouldn’t do for her brother. There are lots of things she longs to do to Rafe Dawson when he’s lying tied-up and naked in her secret hideaway. Rafe is certainly something to look at, but Kerry’s brother’s life is riding on her pulling off the impossible: getting this man who’s always in control to lose it. But when the tables get turned, Kerry finds herself at Rafe’s mercy. And the only way to get her way is to let him have his way–with her…


Trying to prove her brother's innocence when he's charged with embezzlement from the bank he works at, Kerry Sullivan needs the help of big time computer-security expert Rafael "Rafe" Dawson. But every time she tries to enlist his help he blows her of without listening to her story. Kerry decides to take matters into her own hands and abducts him in order to make him listen. When Rafe discovers his kidnapper is the same woman who has been phone-stalking him the past few weeks he comes up with a plan to escape. He bargains her into agreeing to a deal and the deal they strike soon turns into very hot and seductive.

If you pick this book up expecting a nice contemporary romance read with a bit of suspense, forget it! This is downright erotic romance. It's explicitly hot and Shelley Bradley tells it like it is, she doesn't embellish and doesn't tone down on the raw sexual attraction between Rafe and Kerry.

Both Rafe and Kerry haven't had easy childhoods but they each deal with it in very different ways.
Kerry hangs on to the people who haven't left her and she will do anything for them. She is loyal, brave, determined and sometimes a bit naive and willing to see the good in people even when it's clear that some are just plain evil. But she rises to the occasion when needed.

Rafe is a bit overbearing. He is alpha to the bone and just makes you melt for his rugged and raw sensuality. He is determined to proving to a father who never loved him or approved of him that he isn't the good-for-nothing son his father always pegged him for. He is building his own multi-million business to rub it in his father's face. But soon after meeting Kerry he discovers there's more to life than proving his worth to an unloving father.

I loved reading both characters and their fiery interactions. They had some on-liners that had me laughing out loud and some love scenes that were sizzling, intense and lascivious. The first part of the book is little more than erotic scenes linked together by the introduction of Kerry, Rafe and their backgrounds, together with the small beginning of a suspense plot. But the plot didn't have the upper hand in this book. It was the romance and the love scenes that dominated.
Sometimes the phrasing and one-liners were edging toward tumbling over the top and could've been toned down a bit, even if only in quantity. Sometimes it was really dangerously on the edge of turning cliché and shallow. But still Shelley knows how to rev it up. The interactions between Rafe and Kerry, both sexually and emotionally are intense and mesmerizing.

With the second part of the book she more than makes up for the first part both in the emotional department as action wise, picking up on the plot and feelings going beyond the instant sensuality between Rafe and Kerry and she finishes it with a satisfying conclusion. Next to the explicitness there are heartfelt emotional struggles, a suspense plot that's not elaborate but still well written and surprising. The main characters evolve from two people just going at it like bunnies, to a couple that fits each other perfectly and they are fleshed out nicely despite the abundance of eroticism. The story of initial lust and passion grows into something more profound and heart breaking.

Actually, contrary to my obsessive habit of reading books in the correct order, I read book 2 of this series (STRIP SEARCH) before I read this one (due to some logistic problems with receiving this book) but book 2 couldn't have prepared me for what I found in this book even if the books are related. And even though book 2 was explicit and hot too, I really think this book wins in all categories but still I can't say which one I liked more.

To date there are only two books in this series but I really hope Shelley Bradley will one day continue with another story in this setting. The books that are published and which I've read make me want more of her hot writing and her mafia-minded plots. For a contemporary romance the balance was slightly tipped towards the erotic side too much, which can turn away moderate contemporary romance readers but if classified as an erotic romance it provides all the elements needed and gives the reader who's into that genre a great book.



Quotes:
A woman thought of just one thing when she looked at a man like Rafe Dawson --and it had nothing to do with firewalls or passwords. (...) He looked good enough to eat...or at least nibble on for prolonged periods.

Rafe groaned. Her kissed didn't demand or submit. It invited, lured, teased with enough of her taste to whet his appetite, but not enough to satisfy.



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This book was released on September 30th and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES



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Back Cover:

SHE SAYS THIS WILL BE HER LAST CASE. A KILLER PLANS TO MAKE SURE IT IS.

Forensic artist Fiona Glass is the best in the business—which is precisely why she’s quitting. Her skill at mining victims’ memories to re-create the faces of sadistic criminals has left her haunted and wary, and only Jack Bowman’s dogged persistence convinces her to help him. The rugged police chief is hunting a serial killer who’s targeting teenage girls. But what seems like a simple assignment is fraught with complications, including a searing attraction to Jack that’s tempting Fiona to let her guard down in potentially dangerous ways.
Jack never intended for Fiona to become so deeply involved in the case—or his life. And now that she’s right in the killer’s crosshairs, the only way to keep her safe is to unravel a small town’s darkest secrets, one terrifying thread at a time…


Fiona Glass is an art teacher and artist who does police sketches based on eyewitnesses’ information. She's had enough of her work for the police and FBI and decides to focus on her painting because she is becoming too emotionally involved with the cases. But no matter how hard she tries she's attracted to helping law enforcement with her talents and keeps putting off going back to her art. She is good with people, especially children and young women and she has build up a great reputation.
When she decides to do her last assignment for the FBI, a small town detective, Jack Bowman, contacts her, needing her help finding a serial killer who is wreaking havoc on young Hispanic girls in Graingerville. Jack talks Fiona into the decision to get involved one last time but little do they know that this case will have a huge impact on both their lives.

Fiona is a strong, dedicated and intuitive woman. She wants to concentrate on her art and teaching because her involvement with law enforcement is taking its toll on her emotions since she can't seem to keep herself detached from the cases she works on, the effects of the horrid crimes and the traumatized victims are getting to her.

Jack is persistent, intense and rugged but he also has a sensitive side. He is a man who could sell ice to an Eskimo and that's how he convinces Fiona to help him.
When Fiona is hurt or angry she tends to pipe down and run off. It's her way of protecting herself. But Jack doesn't allow this. He prefers direct confrontations to work things out.

The romance between Jack and Fiona is set up gradually and very realistically. They are both extremely stubborn but slowly they really grow close and fall in love and the reader follows them in their feelings towards each other. Little by little you get to know their backgrounds, personalities and ambitions.

There are many secondary characters in the form of Fiona and Jack's colleagues and the victims, witnesses and suspects in the cases. One important secondary character is Fiona's sister Courtney. Her personality is very different from Fiona's and they have the usual female sibling relationship filled with discussions and some annoyance but underneath you feel their love for each other. They have a history that is touched briefly but it's not fleshed out. I think this is because there will be a book on Courtney and I guess the issue will be worked out in that book. There are some scenes focused on her so I'm looking forward the full story and I wonder if she will be paired up with the hero I'm suspecting it will be.

This first book I've read by Laura Griffin has certainly whetted my appetite for more of her writing.
I finished the book much quicker than I thought I would because I just couldn't stop reading. She has an agreeable writing style that's easy to read but not simple. It's fluent but not rushed and it's thorough but not excessive. She finds the right balance between dialogue, narration and descriptions. I was immediately pulled into the story that had an excellent pace, fast but not too fast. Being an extremely non-creative person myself, I was intrigued by the look into the world of art and drawing presented to me through Fiona.

The suspense was the compelling force in this book, more than the romance. Subtle clues were given in small doses to unravel the mystery and uncover the killer. I kept guessing and my guesses of who the killer could be changed with every chapter. In the end I was close as to who it eventually was, close but no cigar. The motive really took my by surprise. The whole plotline involving the serial killer was unpredictable and I love that in suspense. I love to keep guessing who and why.

The suspense plot was original and surprising. The romance was refreshing and subtle. There were multiple plotlines, each with their own pace and satisfying conclusion, except for the small plotline involving Fiona's sister but I know it will certainly be concluded in Courtney's own book.

THREAD OF FEAR is a fast-paced, enthralling and vivid read with a full, rich story line and three-dimensional, realistic characters. It holds the attention captive from the first to the last page, reminding me of the crime series I love to watch on TV.

Laura Griffin is a voice in the romantic suspense genre to keep a close eye on. I for one will be looking out for both earlier books and the books to come.



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October 11, 2008

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Back Cover blurb:
Aidan, the Wolf of Awe, has abandoned the Brotherhood and forsaken his vows. Feared by all and trusted by none, he hunts alone, seeking vengeance against the evil that destroyed his son. He has not saved an Innocent in sixty-six years--until he hears Brianna Rose’s scream of terror across centuries, and leaps to modern-day Manhattan to rescue her…

Brie spends her time fighting evil from the safety of her laptop—and fantasizing about the medieval Highlander she met just once. She is also a gifted empath. Still, her life is pretty ordinary—until she awakens one night consumed with Aidan’s pain and rage—which she is feeling across centuries! And when Aidan suddenly appears in the city and takes her hostage, Brie cannot believe how dark and dangerous he has become. She knows she should be afraid, but instead, she will fight across time for his redemption… and his love.


Aidan, the Wolf of Awe, is on a path of self-destruction ever since his demon father killed the only person he truly loved, his nine-year old son. He used to be a Master of Time but since his son's murder he is consumed by hatred, rage, despair, revenge and pain. He has forsaken his vows as a Master to save and protect the Innocent, hates the gods that did this to him and his only goal for the last 66 years has been to avenge his son.
His salvation comes in the form of a twentieth century computer-geek, Brianna (Brie) Rose.
The Rose women are all gifted with empathic powers and Brie also has visions. She feels Aidan's pain and suffering over time and space and is determined to save him from turning as evil as his father. When Aidan hears her cry for help when she's attacked by evil he leaps to her aid and decides to hold her imprisoned in his time when he finds out she has a connection with his dead son. Brie has had a crush on Aidan since she first laid eyes on him and she feels she is the one who can bring him back to goodness. But Aidan refuses her help and her love. He has no room in his heart for anything but his revenge.

Aidan is testy, rude and has an aura of utter darkness surrounding him.
But Brie stirs his soul back to life little by little. She chips away at the darkness surrounding his heart and brings him back to being the man he used to be.
Brie is loyal and giving. Despite the harsh ways Aidan tries to scare her away from him, her determination to love and help him ultimately wins from his determination not to let her.
The build-up of the tension and desire between Brie and Aidan is done gradually and realistically. I liked that despite his strong attraction to Brie, Aidan was fighting it. It fit his background story and it wouldn't have been believable if he had given into her earlier in the story. The graduality of it gave him time to accept and embrace his feelings and it gave Brie time to adjust to her own feelings and his.

There are many secondary characters. The main ones being the main couples from the previous two books: Malcolm (Aidan's half-brother), Claire, Royce and Allie (Brie's best friend). Masters MacNeil and Seoc make a brief appearance and there are also the other two Rose women: Brie's cousins Tabitha (Tabby) and Samantha (Sam), they are the heroines of the following two books in this Rose Trilogy within the Masters of Time series.
Let's not forget Moray, the demon from book 1 and Aidan's father. Throughout most of the book I was wondering what his motives were, besides just being pure evil. I couldn't figure out what he wanted and why and when I came to the end of the book I actually still didn't know. It hasn't been cleared up so I suspect this wasn't the last of him and he'll be back in future books of the series.
And last but not least a new secondary character is introduced: Nick Forrester. He is head of the CDA (Center for Demon Activity) and Brie's boss. There is so much more to him than meets the eye and I wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to be the hero of a future book.

I had some ambivalent feelings when I finished this book. I didn't quite know what to think of it. I can't say it was bad, I thought it was better than the previous book. Certainly I was able to connect to Brie's character more than to Allie's who annoyed me again in this book by the way. But I didn't feel it was as good as the first book in this series. I missed some intensity and sexual tension. The descriptions were there, the plot was there, the great characters were there, the love story was there and the pace was all right but the sum of all those elements put together didn't blow me away.
And again the time leaping provided a bit of confusion for me. Not with Aidan and Brie but with some secondary characters and again it was not until the end that some of it made sense. While reading, it was hard to find a logical chronological sequence in some parts because you know there are rules with the time traveling but they are not explained clearly.

Still it was a wonderful story of faith, loss, grief, love, courage and desire. Despite not being overwhelmed by the romance and the plot I still liked the book. Even with the confusing time traveling there were quite a few fun moments that made me smile and emotional dialogues that touched my own emotions. I'm looking forward to the other stories in the Rose Trilogy.



Rating: 7 out of 10
October 8, 2008

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Matthias Slaughter is an assassin for the Breeds; he is a Wolf Breeds who's working with the Felines and Jonas Wyatt. His assignments involve killing high profile Council Members who are still performing horrific experiments on Breeds, despite the discovery of the Breeds and the condemning of the Genetics council.
During one of his assignments he recognizes his mate, Grace Anderson and she turns out to be a witness to one of his assassinations. He kidnaps her in order to convince her of keeping quiet about the killing and to tell her she is his mate.


Matthias is rugged, scarred and dominant, both physical and in his behavior. Still at the same time there's this air of vulnerability and desperate longing over him. He has a gentle and patient side when dealing with Grace. I really felt for him. He touched my heart in a very intense way and so did Grace.

Grace is gutsy, smart, stubborn and loyal. She is also a woman of principals.
Because Matthias came into Grace's life under false pretences and has lied to her, Grace has a hard time trusting him and what he says after she has witnessed him execute someone in cold blood, even if she is in love with him. She has trouble reconciling herself to the idea that he is capable of such a thing and that she could have feelings for someone like that. She makes Matthias look differently at what he's been doing and makes him think about and question his actions in the past. For her he's willing to give it up.

Grace goes into the whole mating thing knowing exactly who and what Matthias is and she is familiar with the rumors surrounding the mating heat too. So she's not completely unknowing but that doesn't mean she gives into it easily. Matthias has to work hard to convince her not only of accepting what he did and why but also of his love for her and hers for him.

There wasn't much room for secondary characters as the story concentrates on Matthias and Grace but of course the ones that were there had intriguing names like Lawe Justice and Rule Breaker and they left a nice impression, not enough to envision there own books but still I wouldn't mind seeing them browse along in other books as secondary characters.
And the mysterious Jonas Wyatt made another brief appearance. His story is in the making and I am eagerly waiting for it.

I really loved this story, it was short and sweet but set up well and Lora Leigh provided some background to the story that, together with the characters, made it better than some of the other short stories in this series. The balance between emotions, plot and love scenes was very good considering the 120 pages it counted.

Lora Leigh brought me to tears with an anthology story, a Wolf Breed anthology story! Me! And I’m really not that fond of both short stories and Wolf Breeds. She proved me wrong with this one. It was so very touching, the way Matthias loves Grace and the way Grace accepted Matthias and his past. Even if you leave out Lora Leigh's signature hot love scenes there was a wonderful and emotional love story that touched me at a very deep level.
What truly did me in was a scene at the end with Matthias and Grace's parents. I had held up quite all right up until that scene, but had to grab the tissues then!


Quotes:
"Stop asking me questions, Grace. We'll talk when we get to the cabin."
"Stop touching me then. And I swear to God, if your fingers go any higher, the first chance I get I'm cutting off your hand."

"Tell your body it can't happen. Tell your heart you don't care. By God, Grace, fix it and then tell me how you've done it, and I'll let you go. Until then, I can't walk away, because it would rip my soul from my body to do so."



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October 7, 2008
This book was released on September 23rd and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES


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The sultry heat . . .
Only two things can compel journalist Jenna McMillan back to Buenos Aires after terrorists held her captive there just months before: a rare interview with a shadowy billionaire and the memory of the dark and dangerous man who saved her. . . .

Hides the deadliest threats . . .
Bad guys, bombs, and bullets are Gabriel Jones’s way of life. But he’ll never forget the brash redhead he rescued not so long ago . . . or the passionate kiss they shared before he sent her packing.

And exposes the deepest desires. . . .
Now, forced together by a bombing at the National Congress, Jenna and Gabe confront the urgent longings that simmer between them. But this surprise meeting is no coincidence. A ruthless enemy stalks them with deadly precision. The question is . . . if they make it out alive, will Gabe turn his back on Jenna . . . again?


A horrible experience in Argentina brings undercover operative Gabriel Jones on journalist Jenna McMillan's path when they expose and dismantle a terrorist organization. After going their separate ways Jenna tries to deal with the traumatic experience as best she can. Gabe has never been far from her mind and when Jenna has the chance to go to Argentina again for a story she seizes the opportunity. It’s a chance for her to get back into the game but also a chance to possibly see Gabe again
Their first encounter is literally explosive when the man Jenna is supposed to interview and Gabe is trying to protect is attacked by a gunman and a bomb explodes. Nothing is what it seems and no one can be trusted.

Intense and fierce are descriptions that fit Gabe perfectly. He needs to be in control of every situation, both in tactical operations and emotionally with Jenna. Guilt ridden because of things that happened in his past he tries to shut himself off from his feelings but he fails miserably where Jenna is concerned. He seems harsh on the exterior but there's much more to him than that.

Jenna is defiant, sassy, witty and intelligent. All beneath a thin veil of vulnerability that takes away the sharp edges. She's tough and although the experience in Argentina left her a bit shaken she's determined to get into the game. Same thing goes for her relationship with Gabe. She keeps trying even when he pushes her away but when he pushes her too far, she picks herself up and goes on with her life accepting that he doesn't want her.

Sparks fly of the pages when it comes to Jenna and Gabe. Their dialogue and every scene together sizzles with tension - either sexual or otherwise.
The chemistry between Jenna and Gabe is palpable, believable, intense and pulls on your heartstrings. They are both dealing with their own issues and weaknesses that come from previous events and experiences in their past. They both struggle with the budding feelings between them, especially Gabe. Jenna soon accepts her feelings and then has to deal with Gabe's rejection of them.

Cindy's writing skills enable her to write in a way that is never annoying or boring. She gives motivations and explanations for every action taken by either Jenna or Gabe and makes it logical. This is what I truly like in books. In my opinion this is one of Cindy Gerard's strongest qualities. Her ability to write characters with depth, motivation and development that you can easily relate to and sympathize with despite the decisions they make sometimes. Her characters have an immense emotional impact on the reader.

The cast of secondary characters is extensive and they fit into the plot and romance perfectly. They are true additions to the story that complement Jenna and Gabe’s characters. They are supportive but also crucial in some plot-developments.
There's an intriguing beginning of a small romance between two of the secondary characters. I hope Cindy Gerard will continue this storyline in the following books because I'm very curious to see where it will lead.
Gabe and Jenna's enemy is formidable. Small amounts of information about him are revealed in little tantalizing doses throughout the story. Not knowing who he was and why he was doing what he did, kept the suspense at an amazing high until the end.

The dialogues are sparkling and vivid and they portray the overall feel of the book. I was just as entranced by them as by the suspense plot, the characters and the emotional avalanche which poured out. Though I didn't experience the incredibly intense emotional rollercoaster I did have with the first Bodyguards book, TO THE EDGE, it proved to be just as great a book.

With Cindy Gerard's eye for detail and her vast knowledge of the subjects touched in the story, she gave me a thrilling and heart-in-your-throat read. This combined with her descriptive talents for both plot and characters, especially on the suspense and the emotions, elevate her books to a very high level in the romantic suspense genre.
The way she builds up the plot, both romantically and suspense-wise is excellent. Slowly and clearly, creating a string of tension that leads to a mind shattering and titillating conclusion. The pace is just right, not too fast and not too slow. I really enjoyed the whole book but truly loved the last part when the answers to all the questions were given, topped of with a satisfying ending.

This is a book that acquires concentration to read so you don't miss a thing. It's is definitely not a light read but intense, mind-blowing and doesn't allow your attention to lessen for a second. It has a well-rounded plot, with well-developed main characters and suspense that so thrilling it takes your breath away.

Cindy Gerard delivers top-notch romantic suspense with this first book in her new BLACK OPS series. It holds a promise for the rest of the series and brings all the components I long for in romantic suspense together in a great way. I can't wait to go back to reading the Bodyguards while waiting for the next two installments in this series about Sam Lang and Johnny Reed.



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October 5, 2008

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Back Cover:
Nobody's home at the millionaire's estate on remote Frakes Island. And nobody seems to be watching. Becca Cantrell dives in for an illicit midnight skinnydip--and gets hauled out by a towering, hard-muscled guy with burning dark eyes. He seems to be in charge. Good. The man is the embodiment of her most intense fantasies. And she's up for risky thrills . . .

Nick Ward can't tell her that he's spying on a vicious Russian crime boss. Becca could be his worst enemy: an assassin sent to kill him, a call girl sent to distract him, or the worst scenario of all--a clueless innocent. Anyway he looks at it, she's trouble: beautiful, bare, dripping-wet trouble. The kind he can't resist.
She's not scared. After one taste of his hot mouth, Becca soon discovers just how fearless she can be. She'll need it, too--because things are about to explode on Frakes Island, launching Becca and Nick into danger they could never have imagined--and a passion that could destroy them both.


Rebecca (Becca) Cattrell never thought her skinny-dipping in a stranger's pool after fleeing from a cheating fiancé, would land her in a heart pounding adventure where she would have to fight for her life and the life of her family.
Her sudden appearance during Nick Ward's rogue undercover operation to infiltrate an eastern European mafia kingpin is the start of a string of events Nick never could have imagined. His immediate attraction to her is an unwanted development and complication because the lives of innocent children are at stake and with his track record he can't afford any distractions.

Becca sees herself as a goodie two-shoes. She thinks she's just an average non-adventurous kind of girl. But to me she was the perfect mix of innocent determination, sassy defiance and intelligent bravery. She hasn't had an easy life and still has tried to make the best of it as well as she can taking care of her brother and sister and sacrificing her own needs for theirs.
She was again a typical McKenna heroine, giving Nick hell in the emotional department by tumbling into his world and turning it upside down.

I'm sure now that McKenna is trying to fry my brains with an overdose of intense, dominating and scrumptious alpha men. Nick is cynical to the bone and the ultimate hero complete with the tattoos and the battle scars. He's tough and ice-cold but when in the hands of the right woman, in his case Becca, he's a goner. Lost to lust, passion and love, even if he's convinced he isn't capable of such a thing.

Becca and Nick's dialogues match their sexual encounters. They sizzle, they're intense and they're invigorating. I loved the scene where they had to cook for the bad guy of the book, Zhoglo.
I know I'm repeating myself but with each book McKenna manages to repulse me more with the bad guy in it. In this case the intentions of the bad guy could turn readers away since it involves children but she manages to pull it of in a way that was acceptable for me because of how the plot unfolds. But still Zohglo's plans sent horrifying chills running up and down my spine.

This installment of the series had a slightly different vibe to it. The undertone of humor and sarcasm was much more present than in the other books and I think it's because of Nick and Becca's personalities and backgrounds. They both use sarcasm as protection and humor and laughter as a mechanism to cope with difficult things. This gave the book its special vibe distinguishing it from the previous installments. But don't think now that it was all humor and laughter in this book. It was just as intense and thrilling as the other books in the series; the different vibe in the humor just gave it something extra that caught my eye.

The characters and some ongoing secondary plotlines link all the books in the McCloud series but every book is unique both in main characters and main plot. Despite the consistent and amazingly intense writing style and the way McKenna ignites a wide range of emotions, every book stands out on its own with distinctive and unequaled characters, scorching and emotionally charged love scenes and original one-of-a-kind plots including the breath hitching and gut churning moments.

I'm truly enjoying everything McKenna throws at me. From the heart-thudding action to the intense romance to the spine-tingling eroticism. I hope she'll continue to deliver these intense and erotic masterpieces for a long time to come. With the ending of this one I'm itching to get my hands on Tam's book, which will come out next.


Quotes:
The contact was electric. As if every individual nerve was being kissed, loved. The slow, slick stroke of flesh against flesh was the sum of all those uncountable tiny caresses, all those little tender exchanges.

He knew exactly how a guy sweet-talked women into sex, how to be suave and seductive, blah blah, but he was a slavering wolf thing tonight, lunging at the chain. No games, no charm



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Pearl
Netherlands
39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

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  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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