December 29, 2009

Back Cover:
After spending four years abroad, Trinity MacKenna has returned home to her family's ranch in southeastern Arizona. Everything in her life is going just the way she planned it—a home in London, a brilliant career, and she's practically engaged to a gorgeous English gentleman. But when Trinity meets Luke, the cowboy turns her perfect world upside down. Everything about him is virile and sexy, dark and dangerous—and definitely not part of Trinity's carefully arranged plans.

From the moment Luke Denver sees the sensual strawberry blond, he knows he's got to have her. Luke is intrigued by Trinity's combination of sophistication and innocence, boldness and shyness. Even when Trinity tells him she's taken, Luke doesn't let that stop him, because he's determined to make her matter the cost.

When trouble of cattle rustling started at the Flying M Ranch, DEA special agent Luke Denver was placed there undercover as ranch foreman Luke Rider. With the arrest of the rustlers and their accomplice at the sheriff’s department they thought the trouble was over but now there seems to be a turf war going on and illegal aliens (UDAs) are smuggling drugs over the border. Luke and his fellow agents have to try and figure out which of the ranchers is in the middle of it all and while investigating he stumbles upon Trinity, Skylar MacKenna’s (owner of the Flying M and Luke’s boss – heroine book 1) little sister. The attraction is explosive and instant. He knows he has to have her and sets out to do just that. Software designer Trinity has returned home for her first visit after living and working abroad for years and while practically engaged she’s having second thoughts about her relationship. When the ultimate specimen of cowboys, Luke Rider, steps into her life, she is confused and frightened by her hefty reaction to him and knows she will not be able to walk away from him with her emotions unscathed.

Luke is a loner. He is has this dark, sexy and dangerous aura but he is also confident, dedicated and a take-charge kind of guy. When he puts his mind to something, he WILL have it. And he’s decided he wants Trinity. Trinity, always standing in her sister Skylar's shadow as the little ugly sister, has transformed from ugly duckling to beautiful swan but this hasn't changed the fact that she's still insecure. Despite her fits of insecurity that hit every now and then she is strong, sexy and confident yet vulnerable. Her feelings for Luke are confusing to say the least because she has an almost fiancĂ© and she is not planning on staying in Arizona for long but the chemistry between them is one that can’t be denied.

When ZACK (book 1 of this series) came out the blurb hooked me and I couldn't wait to read it. However it was a disappointing read because I had trouble with the plot of the book. The content of the book, in my opinion, didn't concur with what had been presented in the blurb. Find the link to my review of ZACK at the end of this review to read my exact thoughts on it. After that first book I still was curious and intrigued enough by Luke's character, and his role in that story, to order LUKE but I wasn't as dying to read it as I had been for ZACK. When it arrived I did put it on the TBR-shelf and in plain sight, instead of on its regular spot on the shelves alphabetized by author, thinking I'd get to it somewhere in the course of 2010. However, a few days before Christmas, every time I looked at my TBR-shelf, this book was calling to me, luring me, enticing me, until I finally decided to pick it up.

As with ZACK I loved the characters, the romance and the love scenes but a few things were off for me, which I will get to later in this review. Still in LUKE I did like the plot a lot better than in ZACK. The strength of LUKE lies in the sizzling chemistry between Luke and Trinity. The scenes with them together sparkled and held my attention firmly. Sadly the scenes with them apart felt a bit flat and these were the points in the book where my attention would wander off. I was tempted to skim these parts and to me this shows again (as with ZACK) that the plot is the least appealing element of the books in this series, even if the plot in LUKE was considerably more my cup of tea than the one in ZACK.

Even though I tended to zone out in some of the plot scenes, it still was a fairly unpredictable plot that was worked out and wrapped up well. And I don't think we've seen the end of things. This thread of the plot arc has been resolved but I am sure another thread of it will be picked up and continued in the next book of the Armed and Dangerous series: CLAY. Even if I wasn't blown away by either ZACK or LUKE I did love revisiting Zack and Skylar and seeing how they were doing after their HEA and I'm sure I haven't seen the last of them and Luke and Trinity either.

I was a bit worried when I read the back cover of this book. Trinity is engaged and Luke doesn't care that she is a woman committed to another man. However, rather soon it's clear that Trinity is not really engaged and she's not sure she wants to continue her relationship with her English boyfriend, even before she meets and kisses Luke. She breaks up with her boyfriend after the kiss and although the way she does this is acceptable, in my opinion, it was not the best way to end a relationship.

No matter how much I loved the hot and explicit love scenes or how much I melted (and had to wipe the drool of my chin) at Luke's sexual confidence and his "liquid-hot Texan drawl" there were a few things that bothered me in the sex scenes. The first is the lack of protection. Despite Luke's insistence of not going "all the way" the first time they are together because they don't have protection at hand, the first time they really go at it there is not even the thought of protection. True, they both realize afterwards that they were stupid enough to forget protection in the heat of the moment, which made it better...until they just forgot again the next time.

The second is a specific sexual act Trinity does that just didn't do it for me...I am not a prude, far from it, but this really put me off and she does it repeatedly during the love scenes and at Luke’s command too.

The third thing was during their first time all-the-way scene. Trinity has her very first experience with anal sex and she goes: "Oh this feels so good!" This just didn’t sit well with me. Luke is a well-endowed man, there's no real preparation and she feels no pain or even discomfort whatsoever? Nope, I did not buy that. So even though there were some really great and hot sex scenes: voyeurism under the tree, hot tub and chaps is all I'm saying, some things just didn't work for me, especially in the second half of the book.

Up till now Cheyenne McCray hasn't been able to wow me with the Armed and Dangerous series as she did with her Magic series but still I liked this book better than I liked ZACK and contrary to my closing sentence in the review for ZACK, after reading LUKE, I am certain I will look out for the books that are to come in this series as some of the secondary characters in LUKE provided some intriguing and enticing tidbits of information for me to be curious to their stories. Even if it didn't wow me, if you like your hero hot, masterful and confident, your suspense set up and played out well and your romance sexy and sizzling and you don't mind some weird nipple play, LUKE will provide some pleasant and heated hours of reading.

With his long black duster swirling around his legs, he looked dark and dangerous, like an Old West gunslinger who'd come to town to track down his prey.

He knew he should have some moral battle inside, but the reaction was too strong, too deep. This woman, oh, yeah, she was his. He had claimed her at Nevaeh's and he was claiming her again, right there under her sister's tree.

"I can satisfy you in more ways than you can imagine." He leaned forward and nuzzled her ear, and then ran his hot tongue along the row of earrings. "Now," he murmured, "back to where we left off." That's all the man had to do -talk in that deep, sensual drawl, and she'd do just about anything for him. Anything at all.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

My other review(s) in the ARMED AND DANGEROUS series:
Armed and Dangerous: ZACK (book 1)


ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

Great review, Pearl! This somehow reminds me of McCray's Wild series. Could it be that this series is a sequel to that one? I enjoyed the Wild books, especially for the scorching hot sex scenes ;) I didn't care for the suspense storyline (about stolen cattle) very much, since it played a minor part.

Pearl said...

@ Janna > Actually this series is a rewritten and revised version of the Wild series. I didn't read the Wild series so this is new to me. I think in this series she has expanded the suspense story line because it's not a minor part anymore.

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

O, that explains why it reminded me of that series, LOL! I'm bad at names, so they didn't ring a bel :) I kinda hate it when books are rewritten and revised... makes me wonder if I read an inferior version.

Mandi said...

Nice review..but I don't know if this series is one for me to start. Maybe her Magic series though...

Pearl said...

@Janna > It seems some of the hot scenes in LUKE survived the revision and were already in the Wild series, such as the hot tub scene and the one with the chaps, at least that is what I understood from the Author's Note in the beginning of the book. I don't think it's the previous versions are inferior...It's just a way of making more money of course, by revising it into a more mainstream erotic romantic suspense I suppose it will attract more readers than in an ebook erotica novella...Don't you think?

@Mandi > I would definitely recommend her Magic Series. Great paranormal romance with a hint of Urban Fantasy. It's a 5 book finished series with the following books:

and there is one novella set in the same world in the anthology NO REST FOR THE WITCHES.

Fiction Vixen said...

Nice review Pearl. :)

Aurora said...

Nice blog here

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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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Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

On My TBR Shelf

  • 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

Digital TBR Next

  • 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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