The advantage of reading ‘Deuce’

Review of ‘Deuce’ by Jen Silver.

Jay Reid was a tennis star with a promising career, a loving partner, and their baby. When Charlotte disappeared while at a sea expedition, she left Jay alone to raise up their child. She was rescued by a fisherman and lived in the Faroe Islands with no recollection of her previous life. Twenty-three years later, an event triggers her memory and Charlotte goes back to England to reunite with Jay and their child. But after such a long time, will Charlotte and Jay be able to get back what they had?

‘Deuce’ is a love story but also a tale about bereavement, soul mates, family, and acceptance. It goes beyond the typical lesbian romance formula to focus not only on the main couple but also on the lives of the different people around them. It is loosely based on the selkie legends of Scotland and Faroe Islands, in which the seal people or ‘selkies’ shed their skins and come ashore to mix with humans to eventually return to the sea and leave them heartbroken. As in those legendary stories, this novel explores the unique bond between soul mates and the permanency of love.Read More »

Review of ‘In the Company of Crocodiles’ by Maggie Brown.

Ex-Australian Secret Service Agent Vivian Andrews retired to a quiet Aussie town when in need of emotional and physical healing. All is well until she finds a corpse in a nearby swamp. She meets behavioral scientist Claire Walker, a government agent looking for a missing young man, when she returns to town to report the dead body. Claire was tasked with recruiting Vivian for the assignment as a guide to the wilderness. Together they must uncover the true reason for the missing young man while escaping the brutal environment surrounding them.

This book pulls you into the Australian outdoors right off the bat with a first chapter croc encounter that was fantastic and left you shaken but hooked. I actually took a minute to settle after reading that! I loved reading about the flora and fauna. The descriptions were well done and the information was functional to the story and did not feel cumbersome or like an information dump.

The romance was in the middle of all the action. I would have liked to see more from Claire as she came out looking like an inadequate government agent. I’m sure some of it was because Vivian was such a strong, capable character. Claire simply seemed to be relegated to the background too many times. I feel this detracted from the pairing to a certain degree. The attraction was there though and all in all, there was no instantaneous love which will please many readers. There were a couple of sex scenes that were okay until one remembered they were in the jungle with limited opportunities for proper hygiene… Exactly.

I would like to take a moment to praise Linda Callaghan for the phenomenal cover design. Lex recommended this book and I knew exactly which one she meant, even remembered it was on sale (thank you Bella Books!) because of this great cover. Stunning, eye-catching, with a font that blends beautifully with the background. Mission accomplished Ms. Callaghan!

Overall, a solid action romance. 4 stars.

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Review of ‘The disappeared’ by Nicole Pyland.

Ada Cramer’s brother went missing when she was fourteen. On the tenth year anniversary of the disappearance a TV series features the cold case and Ada is reunited with the officer assigned to the case, Dylan Easton. Ada holds a grudge against the officer because when her brother disappeared Dylan had promised she’d find him. But after all those years, what Ada and Dylan didn’t expect is an attraction between them. As Dylan investigates a new lead on the case, they have to deal with new and unexpected feelings for each other.

This is an ok romance with a small amount of mystery on the side. For me, one of the issues of this book is the balance between mystery and romance. The title, cover and the blurb suggest that the mystery is going to take most of the plot or at least as much as the romance. Instead, the mains’ relationship takes the majority of the book, while the mystery is handled mostly in a rush and as an afterthought. It’s a pity because the mystery has good potential and the twist near the end is surprising and original.

The imbalance between romance and mystery also affects the tone of the novel. I was expecting a more somber and sad tone but, instead, the focus of the plot is on the almost constant bickering and banter between the mains. Additionally, the content and the amount of sex scenes in the book are bordering with erotica and don’t seem to help setting the tone of the story of a boy’s disappearance. Both characters are well-rounded but they are both hard to like, specially Ada. The secondary characters seem a bit stereotyped and the relationship between Ada and her parents feels a bit simplified.

Overall, an ok romance with a bit of mystery on the side and a surprising twist. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Unexpected Partners’ by Michelle Larkin.

Dr. Chloe Maddox is a cop turned sex crime profiler who has restarted her career at the Boston Police Department, where Dana Blake works as a detective. One evening, Chloe sees a suspect in the office that triggers lost memories from when she was abducted and left for dead two years prior. Dana immediately recognizes that Chloe has a connection to a previous case and is the only one capable of sending the psychopath to jail. As the suspect is arraigned and released on bail, Dana and Chloe find themselves running away from a serial killer. Can they survive and help each other move on from their previous traumatic experiences?

This book was intense, with crimes that are sexual in nature. However, a lot is implied and thankfully not described in detail. The two main characters endure many ordeals, yet are strong and have great, immediate chemistry. Even though circumstances are not ideal, the budding romance is not too much of a stretch as it’s skillfully written.

The story captures the reader right away and moves along  with several action scenes. I feel there was probably one too many of such scenes, but the book kept my attention all the way to the end. The secondary characters are well done and enjoyable. I also liked that, although the book lacks of a formal epilogue, there was complete closure for all the characters.

For all the animal loving readers, there is a wonderful canine in this one. Unfortunately some of the interactions seemed a bit far fetched and the veterinary medicine felt like it was pulled right from the human medicine side of things. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Taz and especially, the book’s dedication. I agree with Ms Larkin, humans are flawed and dogs love us unconditionally and do lead by example!

This is Ms Larkin’s second published work. I picked this one up after enjoying her debut novel ‘Mercy’ pleased to see law enforcement characters continue to be the main characters in her stories. I will definitely be looking out for her next book.

Overall a solid action, crime-romance. 4 stars

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Review of ‘Mercy’ by Michelle Larkin.

Mercy Parker is an FBI agent working in the Unsolved Child Homicide Unit in New York. She gets called in to assist in a fellow law enforcement daughter’s murder with no leads except for the one left only for her. As she finds a way to pursue this, another child goes missing. Mercy immediately recognizes her connection to both cases and the need to involve a retired FBI profiler, Piper Vasey. Piper is a psychic who has secluded herself after the death of her husband and a lifetime of being shunned by her gift. She has become another victim as Mercy tries to desperately reach her. Together with the help of a few friends, they must find a way to reach the missing child and prevent an evil form from annihilating the human species.

This book has some dark, haunting parts that some readers may find disturbing. It does lighten up somewhat as the two main characters start working together, providing some much needed levity and, at times, outright humorous dialog.

It becomes clear early on how there are metaphysical elements illustrated through several of the characters. There is also a second story line, based on the yin and yang philosophy, intertwined with the above mentioned one. This story is well defined, and very interesting as some of its support (albeit a small part) is based on true events. The power of good and evil are showcased in a different light and with a new set of grave consequences.

The author did a great job creating the characters. The leads have chemistry and, as I said, share some entertaining dialog. There are no boring or aggravating characters, and they all work well together to advance and enrich the story line. There is even a handsome chocolate Labrador that becomes integral to the tale!

I loved the cover design by Tammy Seidick. It has crisp colors with Mercy Parker’s FBI badge and a desolate building. The title in red font pops and alludes to a case file, which is fitting to the story. It is definitely eye catching, which is what a cover should accomplish.

Mercy was released last year and was Ms Larkin’s debut novel. I can’t wait to read more of her work. Overall, an interesting concept that will appeal to readers who enjoy action, law enforcement and the metaphysical. 4.5 stars.

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Review of ‘Snowbound’ by Cari Hunter.

Police officer Sam Lucas is working in a small British village during a severe winter storm. She ends up in a precarious situation while answering an alarm triggered by a robbery. Kate Myles is a medical doctor who lives in the village and works at the local hospital. She valiantly volunteers to tend to the injured hostage while the police try to resolve the crisis.

This novel seems to have a little bit of everything. In particular, it has the first responders, medical and action/thriller tropes with an underlying romance. All these elements were well written but I will admit I was surprised at how well the romance came through. The main characters were constantly under duress but somehow their connection did not seem forced nor the romance a leap. The organic evolution of the relationship without being obvious about it is, in my opinion, great writing. The medical details were also great, providing the story with instant credibility and showcasing the author’s knowledge on the subject.

The weather is an ever present element in this book. The frigid temperatures and snow worked well to help set the mood and enhance the feelings of hopelessness that prevailed through some key scenes. The cover by Bold Strokes Books’ Sheri further enhances the cold, desolate beauty of winter.

‘Snowbound’ was released in 2011 and was Ms Hunter’s first published book. Now a highly regarded author, her debut novel is fantastic and worthy of her current acclaim.

Overall an excellent story that will appeal to fans of medical and action themes. 5 stars

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