Review of ‘Take a chance’ by D. Jackson Leigh.

This book is part of the ‘Pine Cone romance’ series by three different authors: ‘Take my hand’ by Missouri Vaun, ‘Take a chance’ by D. Jackson Leigh and ‘Take your time’ by V.K. Powell. This series follows the lives of three friends: Clay, Trip and Grace in the small town of Pine Cone, Georgia.

There are series written by an author that usually need to be read in chronological order, series of standalone novels by different authors under a common theme, and the ‘Pine Cone romance’ series which is a bit peculiar. In this series the three different authors decided to create three romances (one in each book) but with the three stories overlapping. For example, if the three friends share a scene, it will appear in all three books but with a different point of view. D. Jackson Leigh says in her acknowledgements that it was arduous to write. Well, sometimes it’s also arduous to read. I personally found some issues, one is that after reading the first book (whichever the order) the reader has sometimes a sense of deja vu, a feeling of having read that before because… they read it in the previous book. It works fine in some scenes as it gives other characters’ perspectives but in other cases it is tedious. Also, some events that overlap in the books give information that act as spoilers for the other books’ stories which is a bit annoying. Finally, I found that there are a number of unresolved secondary plots which are main plots in the other books, so in order to grasp the full story, you need to read all the series. So I guess readers can rate each book separately but also the series as a whole. Due to these problems appear throughout the series, you’ll see some of my comments repeated in the other reviews.

Trip Beaumont is Pine Cone’s veterinarian and a well known player. Officer Jamie Grant is the new police officer in town, owner of a drug sniffing dog called Petunia. Trip is intrigued by the elusive officer who frequently writes her parking tickets but when they finally cross paths they realise that they have a conflicted past in common. Will they be able to leave the past behind to build a future together?

‘Take a chance’ is a slow burn romance with a dog as a cute secondary character. Animals play a big part in this book with Petunia at the forefront, a variety of big and small animals and in horses’ metaphors used by Trip. There are a few flashbacks to the main characters’ shared past but most of the story ocurrs in the present. The secondary characters are a bit flat, specially for the ex girlfriend. The main conflict seems a bit irrelevant and Jamie’s PTSD is treated lightly. The subplot involving Petunia is not completely resolved considering that she’s such an important secondary character. But, most importantly, the subplot regarding Trip’s veterinarian colleague is left unresolved, surely to be covered in ‘Take your time’.

Overall, an ok romance read that might interest animal lovers. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Alias’ by Cari Hunter.

I have conflicting feelings towards Cari Hunter’s books: sometimes her stories are a bit gruesome for my taste. The problem is she’s a great writer, probably one of the best mystery authors, and her books are engaging, well written and exciting to read. So I always end up reading them. In the case of ‘Alias’ the gruesome scenes were almost absent so I’m really happy to have read it.

A woman wakes up in a car accident next to a dead body. She doesn’t remember her name or how she got there. As she is recovering in hospital from her injuries, she discovers some facts about her identity which leaves her with more questions than answers. She realises that her life is in danger because she knows something that might implicate someone… but has no idea what or whom. The only person she trusts is Browen Pryce, the smart and beautiful detective who rescued her from the car wreck. Will they be able to solve the mystery before it’s too late?

‘Alias’ is written in first person from the point of view of the amnesiac woman (I won’t mention her name to avoid spoilers) which gives us perfect access to her headspace. Amnesia is quite a common occurrence in book plots sometimes to the verge of credibility. This is not the case as the events seem very realistic. Along with the characters, the readers slowly bring the pieces of the puzzle together. We suffer and get frustrated with the slow progress in reconstructing the events, the plot teasing us with incomplete memory flashbacks. Even though we know all that the character learns about herself, and without playing tricks on us, Ms. Hunter manages to deliver a twist at the end. This is mostly a mystery/thriller story, definitely not a romance but as usual in Ms. Hunter’s books there is an intense emotional connection between the main characters. Even though the romance doesn’t take too much space in the plot, it has a strong presence and the chemistry between the mains works very well.

This novel has a definite British feel and Ms. Hunter is unapologetic about her references to British popular culture, food and language. So much so that despite that I’ve been living in the UK for sixteen years, I was clueless about some of the regional words from the north of England and Wales. I’m glad that her latest books are less edited for the American market. It provides an authentic feel and aren’t a burden to understand. For the most obscure words, there’s always Google.

Overall, another excellent book by Ms. Hunter. A real treat for lesfic mystery fans. 5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Outside the law’ by Carsen Taite.

This is the fourth and last book of the ‘Lone Star Law’ series. According to the author, she’s been inspired by watching the tv series Dallas and decided to write something similar but with lesbian main characters. There are loads of plots, subplots and several different characters in the series so it’s easy to get lost. Despite that the author presents here a good catch up with the previous books stories, now that the full series is available I suggest that you read them one after the other.

This is by far the best book of the series and Ms. Taite has saved the best for last. Each book features a romance and the main characters, Tanner Cohen and Sydney Braswell are well rounded, lovable and their chemistry is sizzling. The author follows her usual romance formula between a hot, stoic butch (FBI Special Agent Tanner) and a beautiful but strong-minded femme (Prosecutor Braswell). The twist is that they’ve been a couple during college which didn’t end well so trying to work together and trust each other is a main issue. The author takes the reader between their past and present relationship fluidly. The book found the perfect balance between romance and thriller with a surprising twist at the end. Very entertaining read.

Overall, a very good end of this series. Recommended for both romance and thriller fans. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Letter of the law’ by Carsen Taite

Third part of the ‘Lone Star Law’ series by Carsen Taite which, according to the author, is inspired on the old TV soap opera Dallas. I recommend to read it in chronological order as there are loads of details of the plot that otherwise will get lost. The author attempts to do a catch up with the important events of the previous books in the first few chapters with variable success. Consequently, some parts seem too descriptive and don’t flow very well within the plot.
Each part of the series focus on a romance between two members of a self-appointed and underground team committed to fight the Vargas drug cartel. This book describes the romantic involvement between Federal prosecutor Bianca Cruz and Jade Vargas, a horse breeder and niece of the drug cartel boss. Their romance part of the book is fine, the chemistry between the main characters is okay and there are a couple of hot scenes but some circumstances surrounding the investigation are, in my view, a bit unrealistic.
So far I have given all the books in the series a 3 star rating so, overall, it’s not appealing to me. It’s a pity because Ms. Taite is one of my favourite lesbian authors and I still consider her series ‘Luca Bennett bounty hunter’ one of the best in the genre.
3 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Swelter’ by D. Jackson Leigh

This is the first book I’ve read by this author because somehow none of her previous work caught my attention. Even though I live in semi-rural Ireland, I’m not into horses but for some strange reason I decided to give this book a try. I started reading it without any expectations so I cannot say I’m disappointed though I’m not thrilled either.
The story has many levels: the similar betrayal suffered by the main characters, their romantic involvement, Teal’s harassment by the press, August’s chase by a drug cartel and her management of the ranch. All these plots and subplots, along with the big number of secondary characters (human and animal) make it a huge challenge for the writer who, at times, seems to be biting off more than she can chew. As a result, some parts of the book seem more resolved than others, which can be frustrating and annoying. Luckily for the romance fans, the love part is developed satisfactorily.
Overall, an ok read if you don’t mind a bit of digression or if you are into a more humane treatment of cattle. 3 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Hooked’ by Jaime Maddox.

After reading this book I realised that it was a sequel of ‘Deadly medicine’ so I think the publisher should clarify that in their description. However, this book stands alone without any major issues.

Maybe because I read this as a stand alone I didn’t have to battle against a dislike towards Jess (as other reviewers had) and the author describes her well in her contradictions and struggle to overcome her PTSD and addiction while also trying to find proofs against the serial killer who attacked her. So even though this book is categorised as a thriller and a romance, the balance leads more into the thriller and the romance part is left behind a bit. As a result, there is a whole lot of medical description regarding Jess’s fight against her addiction that could be excessive for some. That also applies for the extensive focus on Derek, the drug dealer character. I believe that the author could have developed more the chemistry between the main characters that was lost in the rest of the plot. But maybe the author is planning to develop this story in another sequel.

Overall, a good read, specially if you are interested in drug addiction issues. I’ll definitely read the first book in the series and any sequels if they come. 3.5 stars.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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