Covert Game (Ghostwalkers #14)

covert game

Despite the death of a traitor and key conspirator, the plot to use the GhostWalker experiments to undermine the security of the U.S. by foreign interests still exists. The GhostWalkers themselves must race against the clock to neutralize the danger.

—                         —                         —

I really liked the couple in this book but overall I didn’t like the book itself. I just feel like nothing happened for most of it.

I have been frustrated with this series lately anyway, which didn’t help. There are four different Ghostwalker Teams but they interact very little. As a reader, I fell in love with the original team we were introduced to but there hasn’t been an update on them in YEARS. There seems to have been a trend in recent books to only write about a handful of Ghostwalkers, even within a team. There are members of Team 4 who were not included in this book, or who only showed up for a couple of chapters. I miss the camaraderie that was displayed in earlier books where more characters were included.

I did enjoy reading about Zara and Gino and I appreciate that their relationship is different from many of the others. It is hard for me to relate to warrior women heroines all the time, which Feehan has often written in this series, because that is not my personality at all. Zara is much closer to how I am.

This book was ok for me, but not one that I plan to read again. I am glad I waited to borrow it from the library, rather than purchase the more expensive hardcover price placed on the kindle version.

* *

xx

Advertisements

Dear Aaron (Mariana Zapata)

35404657

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.

What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

—                         —                         —

So THIS is the book I was supposed to have read before From Lukov With Love. There were no real spoilers by reading them out of order but it still irks me to have done so. I like to read chronologically.

– sigh –

Dear Aaron is a very nontraditional book. The first half is written in the form of letters (technically emails and then IM chats) between the hero, stationed in Iraq, and the heroine, living in Texas.

I think this is such an interesting route for the author to take. She didn’t just use the pen-pal idea as a hook for five chapters to justify its use, before having the characters meet up. They literally corresponded by email for the first nine months that they “knew” each other.

I wonder if Ms. Zapata had a difficult time writing those messages? It certainly doesn’t seem like it, I sorta sunk right into their conversations and got lost in the story. The dialogue between the characters certainly seemed natural to me. At times it is frequently hilarious. ie; conversations about buttholes.

Momma Santos is hilarious and I hope we get to read about Tali falling in love, because I am not done with this family.

The hero Aaron is attractive, kind, and mild-mannered. He and Ruby both have a fantastic sense of humour and are more than a little geeky. Aaron reminds me a bit of Channing Tatum’s character in Dear John.

Except there is a happily ever after in this romance story.

I do wish that the book had covered more time after Aaron and Ruby come together as an official couple but I guess that it is the benefit to reading about Ruby’s sister Jasmine in the follow-up. Updates!

For me, Ruby was the easiest (thus far) of Zapata’s characters to relate to which might have helped me to fall into the rhythm of this book. It is one I would recommend in a heartbeat but the writing style will not appeal to all readers.

* * * * *

xx

Edge of the Enforcer

This is the sixth book in the Mountain Masters / Doms of Dark Haven series by Cherise Sinclair.edge

One sadist. One submissive.
One extraordinary love.

WELCOME TO DARK HAVEN
AND MAY ALL YOUR DARKEST WISHES COME TRUE

Fleeing false murder charges, Lindsey lands in San Francisco. There she builds a satisfying life until, in the notorious Dark Haven BDSM club, she encounters deVries. Moth, meet flame.

A security specialist and occasional mercenary, deVries needs an adorable submissive like a knife to the gut. Hell, she’s not even a masochist. But here she is, all big brown eyes and sweet body and sassy mouth. Loyal. Tough-minded. Honest.

Or maybe not, considering her ID is forged. If she thinks to lie to him, she’ll learn better. He’s the Enforcer of Dark Haven—his discipline is absolute, his punishments harsh, and his heart untouched…until now.

—                         —                         —

Ok, so Edge of the Enforcer is only the second book I’ve ever read where the hero is a sadist. I was slightly nervous about how I would like this hero who has always set my heart racing in the past (and not always in a good way) but I have read so many Cherise Sinclair books before that I trust her completely at this point. So that was reassuring and I was excited to jump back into the Mountain Masters/ Dark Haven world.

And I loved it!

Lindsey is so sweet and sassy and resilient. She is the perfect blend of heroic gumption and vulnerability and she and deVries are honestly a match made in heaven. I just finished reading this story a few days ago and I already am ready to start it all over again.

deVries (I refuse to call him Zander) is definitely the strong and silent type. He has a lot of hangups about his ex-wife that he lays on Lindsey at times, but he works through those issues over the course of the story. He doesn’t come across as sweet as some of the previous doms Sinclair has written, but I like this extra edge of danger to him. It fits his personality and mannerisms. And I always like to push the envelope of a hero / anti-hero.

Edge of the Enforcer introduces a few new kinks to me, particularly edge play (or knife play). While deVries is a sadist, Lindsey is NOT a masochist and it takes her a little bit to trust that he will stop at her limits, even though his go much further. It ups the intensity level in their play, but deVries always puts her needs and aftercare first.

I will say to any reader that is worried about the level of pain or “squickyness” in the book, you shouldn’t need to worry. If you liked other things I have recommended, you should also like this book. Ms. Sinclair always keeps safe, sane and consensual at the forefront of her scenes so everything is consensual, obviously, and you know the book will end happily ever after.

* * * * *

xx

Brighter Than The Sun by Maya Banks

Brighter Than The Sun is the 11th book in the contemporary romance series KGI.

banks

As the last unattached member of the Kelly clan, Joe is more than ready to risk life and limb on any mission he’s assigned to, but when it comes to love, he’ll keep his distance. He’s content to watch his brothers become thoroughly domesticated.

Zoe’s had nothing but heartbreak in her life, and she’s determined to start over with a completely new identity, thanks to her college friend, Rusty Kelly. But it’s the gorgeous smile and tender words of Joe Kelly that begin to weaken her resolve to never risk her heart again. And Joe will have to put everything on the line to save Zoe, when secrets of her past resurface—and threaten to tear them apart…

—                        —                         —

This book reads quite a bit differently than most of the others in the series, in my opinion.  Earlier books in the series were intensely-action based, and usually revolved around the missions that KGI members make, whether it is a hostage rescue, investigation or taking out a crime lord. The characters themselves poke fun at how many members met their spouse on an op!

In comparison, the romance in this story has nothing to do with a KGI mission. And although their skills are used briefly for an action scene near the end of the book, it is certainly much more of a background subplot that merely serves to identify some character traits for the hero and his family.

Brighter Than The Sun has a sweeter tone to its romance. Joe is gentle with and sensitive to his beau, realizing that she has been abused and is a complete flight risk. He is careful not to scare her away and really takes the time to sweet her off her feet with wholesome, country experiences that she has never had. They go fishing, and boating and play in the creek. It really is the perfect country romance! Many of the previous heroes had multiple moments where they acted overbearing and I like that in my story. So it is good that the author takes this story in another direction, it just wasn’t one that worked for me as well.

Probably due to the lack of action, BTTS is pretty wordy. It is uncharacteristic for a KGI novel, but many of the characters make long speeches – basically a soliloquy – throughout the book. I mostly skipped over these, because the story would start to lose my interest. And it is overwhelming for a paragraph to take up an entire page. The author would have been wiser to break up the text, even if the speaker isn’t interrupted by another character, just by adding descriptors such as, ‘she shifted restlessly’.

One thing that I did love in the background of this story was learning more about the relationship between Rusty and Sean now that Rusty is an adult. She has grown up from a troublesome runaway teenager taken in by the Kelly family to an intellectual, highly educated young woman. But despite her academic accomplishments, she still doesn’t feel fully accepted by the KGI family (other than by her adopted parents) and lacks confidence in herself within the family unit.

A large part of this is due to Rusty’s complicated and difficult relationship with Sean. Clearly they are meant to be together, and it seems like the next book in this series will finally be the one where they find their HEA!

My heart broke for her by the end this story though, so I hope it is not too long of a wait!

In some ways, BTTS read like a reunion novel. There was a heavy focus on the background characters and catching the reader up on where they are now. In particular, there are a lot of updates on Rusty/Sean, Sam/Sophie and Nathan/Shea.

I haven’t been too fond of several of the more recent novels in the KGI series. Brighter Than The Sun was more entertaining than those, but I don’t think any book will reach the same level as the first three in the series did, at least in my opinion.

* * *

xx

Power Game by Christine Feehan

Power Game is the 13th novel in the Ghostwalker series by Christine Feehan.

Ghostwalkers are physically and psychically enhanced military personnel with some truly amazing powers. This book is about a man from the fourth GW team and the woman of his dreams.

power-game

When members of a United Nations joint security force are taken hostage by radical terrorists in Indonesia, Captain Ezekiel Fortunes is called to lead the rescue team. Part of a classified government experiment, Zeke is a supersoldier with enhanced abilities. He can see better and run faster than the enemy, disappear when necessary and hunt along any terrain. There are those in the world willing to do anything for power like that…

A formidable spy genetically engineered to hide in plain sight, Bellisia rarely meets a man who doesn’t want to control her or kill her. But Zeke is different. His gaze, his touch—they awaken feelings inside her that she never thought possible. He’s the kind of man she could settle down with—if she can keep him alive…

—                   —                   —

I feel so lucky to have read this book already! It just came out yesterday and I was able to get it from the library on release day. Thankfully I had today off because I stayed up until 4:30 am reading it! Whoops …

Zeke and Bellisia are super cute together and I love their instant connection. Normally I find it difficult to suspend my disbelief when two characters fall insta-in-love with one another, but part of the idea behind the Ghostwalker program is that each person was “paired” with one another by the same mad scientist (Whitney) who experimented on them. He messed with their pheromones so that they are chemically addicted to the smell of their partner. Add in the other universal gifts such as a superior sense of hearing, and it is no wonder that each couple has fallen in love at first sight … or in this case, first scent.

Power Game felt a little different than the other recent game books. It had the usual military action scenes and political intrigue, but it felt like Ezekiel and Bellisia had a deeper connection than other couples.

There is a moment right after they meet for the first time that she is convinced Ezekiel has betrayed her and is sending her back to the evil scientist who has held her as a captive science experiment her whole life. She is fighting to escape from Ezekiel and his teammates but cannot force herself to kill anyone in order to escape, and specifically cannot bring herself to harm Ezekiel. On that instinctual level, they both knew that they were destined to be together and even knowing that Whitney had paired them together, they didn’t fight the connection.

I loved that this couple had that deep connection right away, and that their relationship started out emotionally, rather than physically. We have been through the normal concerns of a couple who doubt their emotional connection to one another – believing it is just a chemical result of the experiments Whitney conducted – and while that is a completely valid concern, I don’t want to go through that whole thought process with every couple as they fall in love.

I think it would have been better if the author expanded upon the chapter where Bellesia was taken captive by Ezekiel’s team. This was a major point in the book and has happened very rarely in the series, but I felt like it was only brushed over instead of being given the attention it was due. Especially since Ezekiel himself was not the one “locking her down”, but his teammates, and given that they were providing emergency medical treatment to Ezekiel at the same time, there was a lot going on!

***** Spoiler Ahead *****

 

 

Also, FINALLY, Violet got hers. Anyone who reads the Ghostwalker series should remember Violet as the GW who betrayed her sisters and sold them out. She is evil and power hungry and I am so glad she was finally killed.

I loved the newest book in the Ghostwalker series and would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction, military action or romantic suspense.

* * * *

xx

Firestorm by Anne Malcom

Firestorm is the second book in the Sons of Templar series. You can read my blog post about book one here.

26171918

Amy Abrams doesn’t do love. Nor does she do emotional attachments, unless you count the connection she has with designer handbags. She grew up in an Upper East Side penthouse, which had about as much affection within its tastefully decorated walls as Castle Dracula. Her family is the precise reason why she points her red-soled heels firmly in the opposite direction of that dreaded four-letter word.

Then it happens. Love. It comes right out of the blue and knocks her off her six-inch heels. She learns that love comes with pesky side effects such as heartbreak, which seriously messes with the complexion. Amy promises herself that she’ll never open herself to that horrible feeling again. She doesn’t count on an infuriating, albeit drool-worthy biker to roar into her life and ruin the plans she had of locking up her heart. She keeps her distance, wary of the sinfully sexy biker whose tattoos should read Warning – dangerous alpha male, will screw up your life.

Amy may be an Upper East Side princess but she wasn’t looking for Prince Charming. She wouldn’t mind the name of his hair stylist, though. Brock certainly isn’t a knight in shining armour, but he consumes her, body and soul. Drama pulls them apart; danger will bring them back together. When Amy is threatened Brock is there ready to save her life. Her heart is another story.

—                —                —

Firestorm is the ultimate love triangle book. Amy previously fell in love with her best friend’s Spec Ops brother Ian- the first love of her life – but he broke it off to return to the theatre of war, not believing it was fair to keep her waiting. A year later she moves to Amber and starts falling in love with Brock, only to discover that Ian is leaving the military and coming home with the intentions of settling down with her.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Please note that there is no cheating in this novel, for anyone who is concerned.

One of the biggest differences in Firestorm, compared to the first in the series, is that the book bounces around a lot in the timeline. Because the relationship between Ian and Amy began before the series, their story is told in flashbacks. So is much of Amy’s back-story with Brock; Malcom recaps the goings-on between Amy and Brock in the first book, giving an insider look to issues that were only hinted at in Making the Cut. At the same time, obviously there is a present day, where Amy is try to dealing with the fallout of book 1.

MAJOR spoiler alert for book 1

Ian dies in book one, remember. He was killed in action and Amy feels a lot of grief and guilt around his death and her life going forward. It would have been much easier I think, for her to accept a second love in Brock and make a new life if she had met him after Ian’s death. But she didn’t, and can’t allow herself to be happy for the longest time.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Sons of Templar novel without some drama and kidnapping : )

I love the longer style of book Malcom has perfected and that we get updates on Cade and Gwen and their baby girl. The pacing of the story is a little different since the author doesn’t need to spend a lot of time introducing the characters and the world to the reader. I did find that the jumpy timeline slowed down my reading a little bit. Sometimes I needed a moment to reset myself after a jump, to remember where we had last left off. As long as you’ve read the first novel though you already know at least some of what is transpiring, so it helps to not be trying to learn who the characters are as well.

I loved learning about how absolutely shitty Amy’s family members are. It would have been neat to also learn more about Brock though. I find that 99% of the books are about the women and their history. Considering each is written from the perspective of the heroine, this partially makes sense, but I still wish we had gotten more backstory on the hero.

One of my favourite parts of Amy is her forced optimism, bravery and sheer mouthiness. Happiness doesn’t shine from her soul, she has to work for it and sometimes gets dealt a pretty shitty hand, but she perseveres through humour, which is a valuable quality to have. She inspired me to try to remember to use humour more frequently through the bad times. My go-to is to try not to acknowledge a lot of the bad, because I figure the world is dark enough and I don’t need to invite more into my life, but sometimes there is no helping it, and then, humour can be invaluable.

I highly recommend you pick up Firestorm asap. This is one where you probably need to read book one first to enjoy it though.

* * * * *

xx

Making the Cut by Anne Malcom

Okay, so Making the Cut is the first book in a Cali-based outlaw motorcycle club romance series (the series is called Sons of Templar). It is more “pop-culture” than the other MC books I have been reading so it is a good choice if you prefer less explicit romances that still have sex and bad boys.

Malcom’s books have an interesting dynamic, because she is a New Zealander, as is her main character Gwen in Making the Cut. Most of the authors flooding this market are American, and whether it is because of her nationality or her writing style, Malcom’s are different from anything else I have read in a while.

I blitzed through the entire series in a week and these books are awesome! Here are the deets on the first novel in the series.

25442666

Gwen Alexandra does not need a man in her life. Especially not a man who looks like Chris Hemsworth and Joe Manganiello’s love child. One wearing leather, riding a Harley, and covered in tattoos.

Gwen can bet every pair of her Manolos that Cade Fletcher is trouble. From the moment she meets him, the attraction sizzles between them. Gwen has a problem when it comes to attractive men in motorcycle clubs. The last one she got involved with almost killed her.

After healing physically, Gwen decides to get a new start in a small town, half a country away from the man who nearly cost her her life. She isn’t in town five minutes when she runs into Cade, a man that is too sexy and dangerous for his own good.

She tries to keep away from him, to ignore the attraction between them. But the biker has other ideas, soon she is in way over her head. Her heart, and her life are in danger once again.

—                    —                    —

Have you read the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella? The start of Sons of Templar reminds me of that because the first two books feature Manhattanite fashionistas who have a serious eye for clothing. I don’t really care about clothing much at all, so I skimmed over their outfit details, but that is a point that would add a lot of detail to the book for some ladies out there. In any sense, I didn’t feel like it took me away from the story at all.

For example …

“Don’t you think we’re a bit too dressed up?” I questioned Amy, looking down at my outfit self-consciously. I had a tight printed Prada skirt on with a white blouse that showed way too much cleavage and Amy’s black strappy Manolos.

“Bite your tongue, Gwen Alexandra,” Amy scolded. “There is no such thing as being overdressed. Ever. You are not changing who you are just because we’re not on our little island anymore, now let’s go.”

She swatted my bum, strutting past me to the door. Her outfit made me look like a nun. Her little black Gucci dress, a halter neck displaying her ample assets, was skin tight and had an open back which dipped almost to her butt. With red lipstick, red shoes and her red hair tumbling past her shoulders, she looked amazing. If I swung that way I would totally hit that. Alas, my taste appeared to be sexy sociopaths.

Malcom, Anne. Making the Cut (The Sons of Templar MC Book 1) (Kindle Locations 461-469). Kindle Edition.

The dudes in Making the Cut are smokin’ hot examples of sex on a stick. Throughout the book, we are introduced fairly extensively to Gwen’s circle and somewhat into Cade’s. With Cade’s belonging to an MC, there are a lot of “cast members” to write in, and Malcom decided to focus on a handful instead of someone new popping up in every chapter. This gives the reader a chance to get to know these background characters in-depth and forge an emotional connection to them, without taking away from the focus of the story, which is Gwen and Cade.

One of the best things about these books are their length! (they are super long, compared to a lot of romances). This is how the author is able to take the pages necessary to involve the supporting characters in a meaningful way, and invoke emotion so easily in her audience. While the main action happens over the course of about four months, I figure the book covers the timespan of about a year. For me, it is easier to buy the reality of Gwen and Cade like this, because it isn’t such a contrived work of fiction, fitting an epic romance into an unrealistically short time-frame. It flows naturally.

It also allows for the comedic breaks – usually Gwen and Amy’s banter – and a plot lasting months rather than days or weeks.

Gwen, I think I may like it here. I just went to grab us coffees from next door,” she said, gesturing with the two takeaway cups in her hands, “and there was the most fuckable looking men sitting having coffee. I swear I almost came. What I would do to be those coffee cups…” She trailed off, sounding breathy.

“I’m glad there’s something in this town that is to your liking, Amy,” I stated sarcastically.

Malcom, Anne. Making the Cut (The Sons of Templar MC Book 1) (Kindle Locations 451-454). . Kindle Edition.

There were many points in the second half of the novel where we reached the pinnacle of a big moment the author had been building up to and I thought to myself, ‘okay, this is where it probably ends’. Except there were always more pages still to go. I usually feel that authors end their books prematurely; you know the type, a chapter or two after the big climatic moment and the whole show is over. I like to have more book to ease me down from the emotional high so I loved how Malcom finished hers off.

Malcom’s stories have a HEA. But there are gut-wrenching moments of agony along the way. I will warn you now, Making the Cut had me bawling my eyes out at some points. The violence wasn’t difficult to read about, it doesn’t go into too graphic of details, but not all the supporting characters will achieve the happily-ever-after that the main couple does and Malcom’s writing is certainly strong enough to make you suffer loss alongside her characters.

* * * * *

xx