Albedo by R. Leib

Summary

Ranner’s done a lot of things in his life, defended planets in the HSG, shot it out with pirates, and muscled for smugglers. Now he’s settled down into being a bodyguard so that his adopted daughter can have a normal life. Offered the chance of a lifetime for just doing his job seemed too good to be true. He would have to see what the albedo deflected to know for certain.

Overall

This is a like a hardboiled detective novel but with a science fiction feel. Actually it reminded me of those old noir movies but a futuristic version. For such a short snapshot it had the pieces necessary for a mystery. Ranner is both clever and reformed…as best as he can be from his old ways. The plot was both interesting and horrifying, but I don’t want to say more in case I’ll ruin the mystery. I felt like it was wrapped up a little too easily but may have just been a nod to Ranner’s ability.

Rating

4 stars

A great little detective short story that is a great read for a short lunch break. If you like a grim science fiction with a mystery, this is a great read for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

The Murder of Manny Grimes by Angela Kay

Summary

When three young boys stumble into Lieutenant Jim DeLong’s life one night during a winter storm, they claim they’ve seen a dead body by the swing sets of the Columbia County Elementary School. After he investigates, DeLong sees no evidence, not even a body. But were the boys telling the truth?

With the help of his oldest friend and mentor, former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun, DeLong sets out to find whether Manny Grimes is alive or dead. The further away he gets to the bottom of the mystery, the closer he comes to realize that his own life is falling apart.

Delving deeper into the murder of Manny Grimes, Lieutenant DeLong begins to unravel, losing his sense of control, falling into old temptations he spent years to overcome. Will he be able to move past his own demons and untangle the web of lies before it’s too late?

Characters

This book is filled with deeply flawed characters. There are no white knights in this dark detective noir. Chock full of moral ambiguity on right and wrong, Lieutenant DeLong does one thing right – solving murders. Calhoun is just as flawed. A womanizer with questionable friendship choices, he at least wants to make everything right by solving murders and fixing past mistakes. These are complex characters.

Plot

I absolutely love to be surprised. In the beginning of this plot I thought the author was going to play it safe. I am happy to report that is not the case! This book edges on reality that anything can happen to anyone at anytime. I was well over halfway before I begin the suspect the killer, even though their motives became clear to me earlier on, I still wasn’t sure who the actual killer was. That is the hallmark of a good murder mystery!

This book also explores DeLong’s personal life. Although it enjoyed parts of it, some of it felt long and drawn out. I’d have to stop myself from skipping forward to the next part that involved the mystery aspect. I’m wondering if DeLong’s paranormal encounter will continue into the second book – I sure hope so!

Overall

Part of it reminded me of an old hardboiled detective movies/books brought into the modern age. The only difference being that DeLong is actually a detective. The writing could be stilted at times but also felt very hard detective story. There were some errors, but most of it was punctuation. The author did an excellent job of building suspense, but I felt that the ‘personal drama’ aspects sometimes distracted from the growing tension.

The setting was consistent and added another eerie aspect of being deep winter. The author played this up well. At the end of the day the plot and flawed characters won out. It almost felt like a movie you’d watch on Netflix on a cold winter day. I don’t see why this couldn’t also be read on a cold winter day as well!

Rating

4 stars

If you like complex murder mysteries with a touch of drama, this is perfect for you!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

Fool Me Twice by Philippa Jane Keyworth

Summary

In the gaming hells of eighteenth century London, orphan Caro Worth is leading a double life. By day she plays a proper gentlewoman on the lookout for a wealthy husband. By night she plays the infamous Angelica, her fictional half-sister with a talent for cards and an ability to finance the life her respectable self has built. An introduction to a rich Marquis brings marriage and security within Caro’s grasp…until the arrival of the unpredictable and totally ineligible Mr. Tobias Felton.

Dismayed by Felton’s persistent appearances, shocking frankness, and enigmatic green eyes, Caro watches helplessly as he comes closer than anyone to guessing her secret, but when complete and utter ruin threatens, she finds that Felton’s suspicions just might become her salvation. As the walls she has built to protect herself crumble down around her, Caro learns that no matter how careful your plans, life and love have a habit of falling quite spectacularly out of control!

Characters

Caro is a feisty but desperate woman. She doesn’t want to abandon all home so instead she assumes the persona of another. Angelica has some freedoms that Caro does not – like speaking her mind. Tobias is a bloody mess. Being the youngest he hasn’t found anything worth while to invest his time or energy in so he just drifts. Rebecca is adorable – I loved her more than Caro most of the time.

Despite the fact that in the end and over all I like Caro, she could be down right wishy washy and irritating. Actually I didn’t like her very much for the second half of the book. Especially after her secret gets out. Instead of rising up – she had to be saved by the men around her. That was the most frustrating thing about this entire book. I thought it would be more about her saving herself but no. So fair warning there.

Plot

Caro’s double life as Angelica catches up with her. There wasn’t a lot of lead in to the bad guy being a bad guy but it was believable. Entitled and malicious. Surprisingly the romance is as important as the rest of the plot. I believe that even some men would enjoy this book due to its duel plot nature. The romantic aspect was really secondary for most of the book – only the last 25% really felt like a historical romance. Which was the worst part of the book in my opinion.

Overall

Absolutely gripping read. The writing flowed well and was at a fast paced tempo. It did a good job of sticking with the era and its colorful vernacular. At times the author overshadowed that something (mostly bad) was about to happen, which took me out of the book. There were a few POV shifts as well but also minimal. Not to mention that the grammatical errors were almost non-existent.

The characters were alright, Rebecca being my favorite and frankly Caro being my least favorite. At least the ‘bad guy’ (don’t want to give away who it is) is consistent – Caro isn’t throughout the book. She is all over the map. The only consistency is her inconsistency. The setting was well done, although more than once breaking the rules of proper society. Which may or may not be a good thing! The scenes between Caro and Tobias are very sweet though and by the end I went from not really liking to Tobias to loving him.

Rating

4 stars

The duel plot and fluid writing that is gripping and interesting is the reason for this rating. Fantastic read for any vacation!

I received a free copy in exchange of an honest review.

 

Rise by Jayelle Morgan

Summary

He gave her a night she would never forget…And a child too.

A year ago, Emory met the handsome, mysterious Ajax and threw her good-girl nature aside for one night of passion. She was fine accepting the consequences for her actions, and loves her son more than life itself. She never thought she’d see Ajax again, but now she desperately needs to find him. There’s something wrong with their baby…

She’s the only woman who’s ever taken his breath away.

Ajax never forgot Emory after their one night of passion. But he couldn’t keep her, because she is perfectly, completely human. And he’s not. But when she walks back into his life, it’s for the last reason he expects. Emory says the baby is his, but there’s just one problem: He’s sterile. All elite Elemental Warriors are. Which means she’s playing some kind of dangerous game, and he needs to know what it is.

When Chaos rears its ugly head, he’ll have to choose between protecting his new family and protecting his secret. One choice will take away everything that is important to him as a Warrior. The other could take away everything that is important to him as a man. Can Emory find something meaningful with the extraordinary father of her child? Or will he sacrifice them in his mission to save the world?

Characters

Ajax is a jerk. A likable jerk, but a smug womanizer. He is intolerable…until Emory. Emory is a no-nonsense kind of person. She doesn’t do one night stands: Except once. With Ajax. They are disgustingly cute together. Emory is a little wishy washy at times about what she wants but the woman it tough! I love their family dynamic with Jackson, their baby, is adorable.

I was happy to see Levi and Brooke back. Plus Walker and Micah. All great supporting characters. I was surprised that Emory didn’t have some sort of friend to give me some perspective on her though.

Plot

Much like the last book there is a threat from Chaos. They want Jackson because he is a very powerful Erratic. Furthermore he is very out of control, making mini cyclones every time he gets upset. No wonder Emory was half out of her mind with worry about her very special baby!

Ajax realizes what could happen if his commander finds out. Walker would have to take him back, which means no more playing family with Emory and Jackson. So now he is torn between protecting his family and losing them when he is forced to return home. Will he be able to keep them safe or will he decide to sacrifice himself?

Overall

Great writing. There were some errors but most of them were minor and easily overlooked, but some of the flow was off. Also it was a little repetitive at times, mostly Emory’s lamenting and trying to deny her lust, but overall still very enjoyable. The paranormal world and its sexy elementals were as flawless and wonderful as last time. The romance was great and the steamy scenes undeniably sexy. This author always delivers those!

My biggest rub was the ending was anti-climatic. There was all this build up and then it was just over. I felt as though the author took the easy way out. I don’t want to give anything away but after the threat to Emory, it sort of just winds down. The big threat just seemed to be overcome easily.

Rating

4.5 Stars (rounded down)

Fantastic read! If you love paranormal romances this is a must read. A fantastic follow up to Burn!

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

At First Light (Mount Kiernon #1) by Suzanne Paschke

***This book does not stand alone***

Summary

Having escaped the clutches of her abusive and controlling husband Cheryl Prescott flees the city she grew up in to live a new life under a false name. Years later when her car breaks down in the small town of Mount Kiernon, Cheryl – who is now better known as Sarah Walker – is forced to spend the night waiting for it to be repaired.

Discovering a town that is hurting as much as she is, Sarah decides to settle down and call the town her new home, opening a cafe along with her heart to the people of Mount Kiernon. As relationships with her customers grow, so do the feelings she has for the local mechanic, Jamie.

Will Sarah open her heart to let Jamie in, or will the new life she has built on lies crumble when her past threatens to return?

Characters

Sarah is a super strong, but damaged character. She is very emotional but is completely understandable. The author does a great job bringing back her to her struggles over and over again. Her internal struggles make her previous life seem real – so when Jamie comes along it makes sense that she isn’t ready. Jamie is such a heart throb! Love him. There was a bit of an issue with POV switching between Jamie and Sarah – sometimes in the middle of a chapter with no clear break. It was very confusing sometimes.

The supporting characters very much feel like a small town. I’ve visited a few small towns and they aren’t always as friendly but they are very similar to what the author portrayed. I really liked Jamie’s friends but some of the dialogue was a little too similar between characters.

Plot

I felt like the plot just went on and on. After a while it was a little repetitive and I couldn’t always understand why some parts of the story were told, while others were just skimmed over. I don’t know if all of the chapters actually advanced the plot, which made it difficult to hold my attention the entire time. The worse part was I expected some sort of resolution at the end for how long the book was and how much redundancy was built in – all to build the character up – but there wasn’t. This book cannot stand alone.

Overall

The writing could be fleshed out a bit, particularly the POV switches mid-chapter, but overall was enjoyable. The author did an excellent job with the main characters, and some of the secondary characters, but the dialogue could use some tweaking.  The plot could use some condensing – particularly pieces that didn’t advance the plot or were repetitive. Honestly I don’t know why this was split into two books…if it was for the cliffhanger at the end that is absolutely not necessary and is one of the biggest reason this book is getting the below rating.

The author brought a high level of emotion to this book. I was choked up more than once! I really rooted for Jamie and Sarah to work. This is for sure an unpolished gem that would really shine with some clean up. It was very sweet. I’d hope the second book gets more into Sarah’s strength and not so much her broken side. I’ll admit that sometimes Sarah’s actions really pissed me off but the author did a great job of having Sarah correct it quickly enough that she was quickly redeemed in my eyes every time – which is not easy to do so I applaud the author!

Rating

3 stars

This book has so much potential and excellent character development but needs to clean up. I also don’t think this should be two books based on the excess content of this book. That being said I absolutely love Jamie and Sarah and hope they get their happily ever after!

I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

In the Space of an Atom by Bruce M. Perrin

Summary

Jeremy Reynolds has been listless for a while now. First, his girlfriend of 4 years dumped him, and he was in a funk. Then, he quit his job as an accountant. Yes, Jeremy was doing little and caring less. But recently, he has found something that energizes him, something that gives him direction, something that gets him out of the house every day. It’s called…running for his life.

Just as Jeremy was finishing the last in a string of low-paying, temporary market research gigs, the study assistant pulls a gun on him and tries to kill him. When Jeremy bungles his way to freedom, he realizes that the technology in this study is much more than it first appeared. It’s enough to kill for. But he also knows he is in way over his head. So, when the lab and the would-be assassin disappear, and the police close the case, Jeremy is desperate for help. He finds it in the beautiful, young Diane Stapleton, MD. Now, the two of them match wits with the killer, in chases that take them where no one has gone before…in the space of an atom.

Characters

Jeremy’s life is a bit of a mess. He is a bit of a mess really. Kind of just wandering aimlessly. Diane is exactly the opposite. She knows what she is doing and is happy to be where she is. She is confident and daring. Jeremy on the other hand is a bit of a klutz and quick to blush. I really liked their dynamic. Jones on the other hand is a bit over the top -as is the doctor guy Jeremy was doing the work for. The cop created a further dynamic. Despite that they are fun characters over all. This is all from Jeremy’s POV.

Plot

This was presented as a sci-fi but it really reads more like a suspense. Clueless hero falls in with a mystery scientific experiment that does the impossible and thus chaos ensues. I don’t want to go into too much detail on the specifics because the mystery is half the fun but Jeremy fumbles around through the whole thing in a way I’d imagine most people would.

There is some limited humor – mostly Jeremy falling – but it was well placed. There is, of course, a romance aspect. If you didn’t pick up on that you didn’t read the summary above. At times I felt the romantic parts of the book just pulled me away from the suspense and sci-fi pieces, but other parts I liked. For sure action-packed.

Overall

There was just enough science fiction to keep it interesting on that level. It is set in modern day as far as I could tell – in St. Louis. The setting itself was a little weak as it didn’t do a good job describing St. Louis as a whole, but where the author failed in the setting more than made up for in pace. This is a face paced read that once I started reading, read fairly quickly. Limited grammatical errors. The ending was a little far fetched in the timing of it but I’ve simply concluded that Jeremy is very lucky. In more ways than one.

Rating

4 stars

I waffled between 3 and 4 stars because of the sci-fi genre being the focus but just didn’t feel right only giving it 3. Fun read! Exciting, interesting, and steeped in romance. If you like science fiction, romance, and suspense books – this is the perfect book for you!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ramatel’s Vow by Joel Crofoot

Summary

Seventy generations ago, the angel Ramatel was cast into hell for sleeping with human women. Now he has returned to earth, harboring a vendetta against God, only to find himself strapped with a beautiful young apprentice. Will his grudge stop him from letting something good into his life?

Clara has been given a second chance to save her soul by working with her chauvinistic mentor who has antiquated ideas of gender roles. She bucks his authority at every chance, until she has to face the very situation that killed her the first time. Does she have what it takes to face her fear?

Characters

Ramatel is a tortured soul. Despite this he is also a bit of a romantic. He considers himself ugly (due to the scars he acquired while in Hell). Clara is an interesting character. She is feisty and stubborn. Ramatel thinks she is there to clean but she is actually there to fight! It was so awesome to see Michael and Jahi from the first book back again – and Gabriel, of course. Although Ramatel was very well developed I felt there was something about Clara that just didn’t…work.

Plot

This is a paranormal romance. For sure chock full of sexual tension and I loved Ramatel. I was choked up a few times from the emotional scenes but as the book went on it eventually became repetitive. They kept making the same mistakes over and over. I get this was to show they are alike, but it was kind of irritating when it just kept happening. I actually started to resent Clara a little because of her reactions to Ramatel. It was like she was PURPOSEFULLY trying to misunderstand.

That being said the secondary plot was interesting! I loved the twist and what came of it. For sure kept me interested. I read it over the weekend and was great to pick up and read through.

Overall

A great romantic novels. Well worth the read if you’ve read the first one. Even if you haven’t, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it! There is a lot jam packed into the epilogue at the end. I think it was the longest chapter in the book. I think the author was trying to set up the next few books but it was a little overwhelming – so be warned. Despite the few drawbacks of this book I still loved it.

Virtually zero errors, easy to read, and great flow. The setting and characters were well set up and depicted. There was a good balance between the mystery surrounding Clara and the other secondary plot…which I won’t go into detail on.

Rating

4 Stars

It was a really enjoyable book! A little repetitive on the romantic relationships side and Clara felt a little off throughout the book, but well worth the read just for Ramatel! Can’t wait for the next one!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.