1. Jagged by Kristen Ashley
Colorado Mountain Men series by Kristen Ashley is probably one of my favorite KA series. The other being the ‘Burg series. Individually, I like some of her other books, but not the whole kit and caboodle. I was so excited to get my advance copy of Jagged. I pushed everything aside just so I could read it as soon as it hit my grubby little fingers. I was expecting a GREAT read in line with Sweet Dreams and Lady Luck. Instead, I got a story I was able to put down at will. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. But for me to be able to STOP reading a KA book and walk away was telling. And all that it was saying wasn’t good.
Now don’t get me wrong, the book was good. And if some other writer had written this story, I would hazard to say it would have been a solid read for me. But I expect certain things from a KA book. One is length. And this book is about half of her other books in this series in word count and pages. Right there, that was a HUGE let down. And the drama was missing. Not that there wasn’t drama, but it was not high octane-can’t put the book down- must know what happens next- kind of drama. It was run of the mill kinda drama.
I liked Zara. I liked Reece. I didn’t like their pet names, Cookie and Ham, respectively. Most of all, I didn’t buy their relationship. I didn’t like them together. Don’t get me wrong, they had a certain amount of chemistry together. But it wasn’t the deep, all the way to the marrow of the soul deep. Not like say Joe and Vi. Or Tate and Laurie. It just felt like they were just at the right place at the right time to get together. The whole, even if it isn’t the right time, it isn’t the right place and this is the crappiest shit going on ever, I can’t stop myself from falling into you, grabbing onto you and keeping you forever and ever. Amen.
Maybe my expectations were too high. I dunno. But something was missing for me in this book. And it wasn’t just pages. From another author, I would be gushing cause this was a good book with decent characters and well-plotted story. But from KA? Not so much.
2. Mine To Keep by Cynthia Eden
Skye and Trace are back making another appearance in Mine to Keep after a riveting performance in Mine to Take. I’m pretty sure that this series will focus on two other main characters as it continues to play out. But it was good that Skye and Trace got this story because there were some loose ends that definitely need to be wrapped up.
One of those loose ends was Trace’s past. In Mine to Take, it was Skye’s past that came back to bit them on the ass. In Mine to Keep, Trace’s past was front and center in the drama unfolding in their lives.
I knew going into this book that I like these two characters. That they had GREAT chemistry, plus an entwined past and some demons that they needed to excise. So there wasn’t any of the angst I get reading a story about whether I’m gonna like the hero or the heroine. If the author made one too weak or whinny or in some other way portrayed them with characteristics I find annoying. Nope, I KNEW I liked these two and I like reading about them.
I also expected that once it was Trace’s past coming back to haunt them, that it would be about his time in the military- when he was away from Skye. Trace really didn’t want Skye to know about that part of his life. He wasn’t exactly proud of that period. But crazy was finding them and that very crazy made sure Skye knew exactly what Trace didn’t want her to know. What I didn’t expect was the twist that came. Surprised the hell out of me. Cause I thought I knew who the bad guy was. I was wrong.
Now, reading a story- a romantic suspense- is about the only time I will say this and mean it. I LOVE when I am wrong. It means the author did her job and did it well.
3. Hell Without You by Ranae Rose
All the pieces to Hell Without You were in the story to make it a good read. However, their combination still fell flat for me. I didn’t buy the reason that Clementine and Donovan were apart for so long. Once they were away from the town, they should have been able to get back together or just get in touch without any threat hanging over their head. With that said, if I suspend my rational mind and go with the premise, I can buy that they get back together when she comes back to her hometown and runs into him at her grandmother’s old house. A house that was sold off after her grandmother dies. To… you guessed it, Donovan.
The sale of grandma’s house to Donovan was the part I was able to believe the most about the story. Except… her parents hate him and would never sell to him. Ever. Okay. So I suspend belief for that and the rest falls pretty much in line from there. It seems like the plot turns are all plausible… on the surface, but once you really think about it in the context of the story, then not so much.
I get that fiction is about suspending belief, but it should at least fit with the characters as they are portrayed. And that was the problem in this story, at least for me. No amount of suspending reality was going to make the characters’ action believable. Not given the back story for each character. And the slight suspense at the end? Trite. I didn’t believe the initial reason for the suspense and I DEFINITELY didn’t believe the resolution.
This book wasn’t terrible. The editing was good. The timeline was spot on. But it was the characters’ action in the context of the situations in which they were placed that made this book a so-so read for me.
4. Midnight Lies by Ella Grace
Midnight Lies is the second in Ella Grace’s Wildefire series about three sisters in a small southern town. Overall, the plotting was tight, the editing great and the characters sympathetic. I thought the suspense was well-done and the story kept me engaged.
But I had the same problem with this book as I had with the first book in this series. I thought the heroines were both fairly spineless and WAY too forgiving. WAY. There were many times I would read something asshole-ish the hero would do and the heroine would be all immediately forgiving. Samantha forgave Quinn way too easily. And fell into bed with him way too fast. Especially given what he’d done to her the last time they were in bed together. Seriously? And in my opinion, in this book as in real life when you don’t hold a person’s feet to the fire, they keep repeating the same actions towards you again and again. Quinn would push Sam away or be an ass and then be contrite. And Sam would immediately forgive him. End of story. It made me not respect her at all. And hello… the level of her guilt for thinking he’d done something when he hadn’t in the course of DOING HER JOB was not understandable. Dude, she’s a cop. She HAS to ask questions when a crime’s been committed. It’s not about you.
There is so much to like about this story. There is so much to like about the series. So much. But wimpy heroines killed it for me. I just got fed up.
5. Nocturne by Andrea Randall and Charles Sheehan-Miles
Okay. Now I’m back and ready to give my thoughts on the book and Savannah and Gregory. Let me start by saying that I wasn’t prepared to like this book. I’m not a big fan of adultery in novels. Not at all. It squicks me out. If I want real life shit, I’ll crack open a newspaper or watch E!. And I won’t go so far as to say that it was just fine and dandy in this book. What saved this sitch for me was that I felt like Gregory’s wife was the other woman. Yes, yes I know he was married to her and not to Savannah. But still. There are love links that can’t be bridged even when someone else gets to the vows first.
Gregory was socially retarded. Seriously. And Savannah, the youngest of the three of these mooks, was the most mature. I didn’t totally agree with all her decisions, but then again I don’t totally agree with anybody’s decisions. And you just knew when she and Gregory got back together, their connection was too deep to be denied. And yes, Gregory’s wife knew how he felt about Savannah and married him anyway. Get a clue. You can’t marry Romeo and expect him to deny Juliet when she comes back in the picture. Just. Not. Gonna. Happen. EVER.
Overall this read was awesome. The world building in the classical musical world was spot on. The characters were more than three dimensional. And the plot rocked.
I highly recommend this book. HIGHLY.