Review: Embattled Hearts by JM Madden

embattled heartsReviewed by Shelly

This the first novel (the prequel 0.5 was a very short introduction to the men only) in J.M. Madden’s ‘Lost and Found’ series intrigued me even before I read its blurb. After I read the prequel, I wanted more John Palmer. Actually all the guys were interesting in their own right, but John especially, because he was just so cantankerous. Some might call him angry, but I wouldn’t make that leap, but he is brash and plain speaking, and he’s never heard a cuss word he didn’t like. John’s a bit a loner; it’s always been that way for him (he was dropped off at the orphanage by his mother) until he met Chad and Duncan during their rehab at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in MD. [Read more…]

Review: The Embattled Road by JM Madden

embattled roadReviewed by Shelly

This is the prequel to JM Madden’s Lost and Found series about a veterans. This novella isn’t a romance. Heck, the only women to make appearance are the nurses from the VA. It’s a resolute start to the series and Madden doesn’t spare us any battle scenes. It’s all horrific – the death, carnage and subsequent days of rehab. The slow ticking of the clock as these soldiers live their lives waiting for the best and worst. The best being their discharge and the worst being their discharge. [Read more…]

Review: Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy by Victoria Vane

sharp shootin cowboyReviewed by Shelly

Unlike the first 2 books in the series, this isn’t about the Knowlton family or anyone on their ranch. But I enjoyed it just as much as I have the earlier installments. What I am enjoying tremendously in this series is that the last two books have been about war veterans – that’s appealing to me.

Spending the last eight years as a Marine sniper, Reid Everett’s home for good. He’s out of all that sand and heat and happy to be back in Wyoming working on the ranch he’s known all his life, doing what he loves to do. Haley Cooper, the wildlife biologist, is all about making the world a safer place for wolves. She’ll give up everything including friends and family to make that happen. [Read more…]

Review: Marine for Hire by Tawna Fenske

marine for hireReviewed by Carrie

I was really unsure of this book at first because I’m not really a fan of kids in romance books and the premise was kind of ridiculous; I feared I’d be reading a book version of “Daddy Daycare”.  I’m so glad I went ahead and read because the book was really cute and made me smile.

Sam Kercher is trying to keep busy while waiting to find out if he is getting discharged from the Marines for an incident in Afghanistan.  While working on his parent’s house, his best friend, Mac Patton, shows up and asks a favor.  Mac needs Sam to go to Hawaii for a couple of weeks to help out his sister, Sheridan, with her baby twin boys while making sure her jerk of an ex-husband stays far away all while pretending to be a real nanny.  Sam initially scoffs at the idea but he owes Mac big time. There’s also the fact that he’s had a crush on Sheri since college. [Read more…]

Review: Marine with Benefits

marine with benefitsReviewed by Shelly

This is the 16th story in the Always a Marine series from Heather Long and it tells the story of physical therapist Kara and marine Derek. Working at Mike’s Place as a physical therapist Kara’s life is at a standstill; including her unrequited love for her brother’s best friend, Derek. The only thing left to do is to get over him and the only way to do that is to go to Madame Eve. Derek has always had a thing for Kara, but he made a promise to his best friend, Keith, that he’s not willing to break – until he sees an all grown up Kara.

Long has a way with novellas, I’m always amazed that she can put together such a good story in so few words. Kara is a very likable heroine which with these short stories can be a little tricky to pull off, especially with the whole unrequited love an’ all. [Read more…]

Review: Big Bad Beast

Reviewed by Jen

When I first got the whiff of a pairing between Ric and Dee a few books back, I was really excited about the idea.  But when I got to know Dee a little better in the last installment and watched her interaction with Blayne, my excitement started to wane a bit.  Frankly, she was kind of a bitch and I have a hard time rooting for characters who aren’t likeable.  My opinion of Dee did improve in this book, but this wasn’t among my favorites in the series.

It got off to a slow start.  We spend a lot of time with Ric making cow eyes at Dee and her pretty much blowing him off.  Then, she suddenly decides to take him up on all of his flirting, and it kind of feels out of the blue.  We find out in her POV stuff that she has always found him attractive, but her move to go for it with him was abrupt and seemed out of left field.  Regardless, once the two of them finally started a romance, the book began to pick up some steam.

For those who aren’t familiar with the characters, Ric is a master chef who also runs the local hockey team and helps lead a shifter crime fighting force. (A multi-tasker.) He is also supermodel gorgeous and has been completely head over heels with Dee for as long as he has known her.  Dee is a trained killer, a former Marine, and country girl.  (Yes, we’ve returned to the hillbilly Smith pack for this one.)  She also works for Ric’s “Group.”

As the story begins, the Group is still investigating the human organization kidnapping shifter hybrids and forcing them to fight.  And that storyline runs throughout the book.  The Group and the investigation are just kind of the background framework, however, for getting Dee and Ric together.  I felt like the relationship development was ok –not as good as the last two books.

But the best parts of this installment were the same things that I have found consistently enjoyable about every book in the series. 1) The same core group of characters plays a prominent role. We get to continue following their lives and (mostly) enjoying their quirks.  Each one of them is so clearly defined and stays true to who they are, book after book.  2) The sex is great.  And 3) The laughs are big.  Sometimes, we even get the sex and humor tied in together.

She was stupidly falling for a Van Holtz. The enemy wolf of her Pack. Her daddy hated Van Holtzes the way Dee hated the taste of zebra. Since she could crawl, he’d been warning her about staying away from them, never trusting them, and outright killing them if they got too close.Well… how could the man be any closer? He’d pushed her onto the bed and had buried his face into her pussy, licking and sucking his way into her heart. Turning her inside out, making her come again.  It just wasn’t fair.

How was she supposed to fight this? And, as she came all over his face, her entire body writhing on his bear-size bed, she wasn’t real sure anymore that she wanted to fight this.

Because, in the end, the man did make a hell of a waffle…

I know some of my fellow readers love, love, love these books.  I think, in this case, the characters just didn’t speak to me much. Dee was hard to relate to and not all that likeable.  This, while Ric is basically perfect and a little flat. For me, they series is fairly good. But as I’ve said before, don’t expect anything deep or with a lot of substance.

It’s light, funny, sexy, and over-the-top.

Rating: B-

Click to purchase: Amazon  
Big Bad Beast
by Shelly Laurenston
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Publisher: Kensington

 

Review: Touch & Geaux

Reviewed by Jen

If you have ever taken my advice about anything, trust me when I tell you this is one of the very best romance series out there.  Not just the best m/m.  The best. Period.  If you are not reading this series, you are missing out on what romance is all about.  Two people who are taking a journey together; people who you have invested in.  They change; they grow; they screw up; they regress; they love each other in epic fashion. And as a reader, you leave the books with a piece of them still in your heart.  Or in the case of this installment… with a piece of your heart missing.

If Stars & Stripes was the book that made you see how far Ty and Zane have come, Touch & Geaux is the one that shows you have far they still have to go.  As the story begins, the guys are so happy –things are so good– there’s only one way they can possibly go: down.  The fuse is lit when Ty’s Marine buddies trick our heroes into a trip to New Orleans.

New Orleans holds memories for both men: Zane for his anniversary trip there with his wife; Ty, for his time there undercover.  It takes only hours for their past to jump up and bite them and it comes from all sides: Ty’s former almost-father-in-law, dirty New Orleans cops, an ex-boyfriend with a questionable agenda; and even killers from the drug cartel where Zane was once undercover.  We’re talking Danger (with a capital D.)

Yet as powerful as the external conflict is, the real draw here is the internal one. The events of the book prompt the revelation of some very serious secrets.  The kind that destroy a relationship. The kind that eradicate months and years of growth.

I remember reading the original Cut & Run and being struck by how damaged the Ty and Zane of that book were.   Touch & Geaux shows us that those men we first met are still within our heroes.   Take away the foundation of their evolution and you’re back to a big fat mess.  Only now, it breaks your heart.  Now you know Ty and Zane (or at least you think you do.)  You love them.  So their self-destruction isn’t only devastating to them, it’s devastating to… me.  The lies –the betrayal– feels so personal. Yet all this love is still there, so then what?

I’ll tell you.  Then, after all emotional upheaval and story development, Abigail Roux leaves you with one last parting shot, a kick to the gut that left me with tears in my eyes and pain in my chest.

Maybe all this downer talk makes you question whether you want to read the book.  But that would be the wrong question. What you need to ask yourself is, why I haven’t I read this already?

Abigail Roux should be the benchmark by which all books are measured.

Rating: A

P.S. All that and I didn’t even talk about the sex! (*fans self*) It really says something that as hot as the sex was, it was almost an afterthought.

*ARC Provided by Riptide

Click to purchase: Amazon or Enter to Win
Touch & Geaux
by Abigail Roux
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Publisher: Riptide

Review: No Regrets, No Surrender

Reviewed by Shelly

Picking up about a year after Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here (Always a Marine #2), Jasmine Winters, Logan Cavanaugh and Zach Evans return with a longer look at how their happily ever after happens. When I saw this story, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was significantly longer than the others that I read in the series.

Logan and Zach have patiently waited for Jazz’s return. They’ve met her at a couple overseas locations where she was able to meet them. At this point, my big questions were – how would this ménage work if Logan and Zach are having exclusively individual relationships with Jazz? I mean, how would it work when they’re all living in the same household if a pattern of two and not three had been practiced?

I gotta tell ya folks, I don’t know Long’s background with the military or if she’s just done a ton of research, but she’ll make a you cry like a two year old throwing a tantrum. When Jazz has to come back from her assignment after an IED explosion, I had no clue how I would handle it and folks I didn’t handle it well. When Jazz meets the guys at the airport and she’s in uniform in a wheelchair with her escorts, I had to take a break, go get a glass of water and a box of tissues. I could go on about how war is hell, but we all know that, and that’s not what this story is about. Instead it’s about Jazz letting Logan and Zach into her heart and letting them help her overcome her challenges.

For such a sensitive topic, it’s a relatively short read, but Long gets a lot done. She doesn’t mince words with the description of the wounds and the subsequent traumas (strokes, seizures) that happen. Jazz – a marine you are – had a lot to go through to get her mind right so the body can follow and lucky girl, the good news is that Logan and Zach had her back 110% of the way. Even in the bedroom, the dynamics had to change because of Jazz’s injuries but the way Long handled the limitations was well done.

Of the two guys, Logan was the one with the physical injuries from his time in active duty, and he had more than enough patience, love and support to offer Jazz. And Zach, oh my, what a man – he was my favorite. He doesn’t have the physical restrictions that Jazz or Logan have and I think that put him on the back burner more than he should be, but when he feels the need to express himself he does it quite well. Oorah!

If there was a way to have a prequel for Logan and Zach’s story I would love to read that. But that would be hard to do because these guys are straight and that really wouldn’t make for fun reading or would it? Never say never.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon
No Regrets, No Surrender
by Heather Long
Release Date: November 17, 2012
Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Review: Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here

Reviewed by Shelly

Stories about female Marines are few and far between. As a matter of fact, Long is the only one I can find who writes about active Marines who are female. I recently read another one of these series and couldn’t help but look for more and –yeah for me– I found this one.

While on leave, GySgt Jasmine ‘Jazz’ Winters has been set up for a One Night Stand, by of all people – her own mother. She’s requested not just one man but two (not sure Mom knows about that) because why not?  It’s a fantasy night! Logan Cavanaugh and Zach Evans are former Marines themselves. Logan was wounded during their last tour and was discharged on permanent disability because of his injuries. Zach goes where Logan goes. He’s the light to Logan’s dark and what a great contrast he is – yummy.

Theses three really electrify the pages, so by the time the sex scene came around, I was on pins and needles to see how that would turn out. Oh, my goodness Logan you are the man!

The only thing missing for me in this short story was finding out the back story to Logan and Zach’s relationship. My curiosity is still high, so now I’m gonna find their follow up story – ‘No Regrets, No Surrender (Always a Marine, #6)’.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
Retreat Hell! She Just Got Here
by Heather Long
Release Date: April 21, 2012
Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Review: Combat Barbie

Reviewed by Shelly

What a nice change of pace! The title piqued my initial interest and the cover isn’t bad either. Even though this is the 11th installment in the ‘Always a Marine’ series, I didn’t feel as if I was missing out on anything by not reading the first few books. This was a very satisfying read, but make no mistake – I do want more.

Marine, Mary ‘Stormer’ Phillips is home on leave. It’s been ten years since high school and while she loves her parents and wants to be the good daughter, she takes a break to go for a run. During her run she sees her favorite Coffee Shop, so an interlude is a must. While in line Mary runs into an old school friend, Kyle Stewart. Kyle is all grown up and has shed the nerd-look he had going on in high school. Never having the nerve to ask Mary out while in school, Kyle is bound and determined to not let her get away this time around.

I absolutely enjoyed both Mary and Kyle. Mary’s past as a beauty queen is truly fascinating and at first glance seems so contradictory to her military career. Though a short story, the reasons behind Mary’s decisions are well conveyed. She’s career military and until she’s unable to do that she will continue to improve lives and make real changes where she can. There’s a scene where she’s talking with Kyle about part of her time overseas and the dialogue is so clear and heartfelt, I couldn’t help but be moved.

Kyle is a guy who’s has done very well for himself. You can always tell a lot about a man by the way he treats his mother, and Kyle is good man. He’s a good foil for Mary — not overly aggressive and not in any way passive. I liked these two a lot and I’m hoping I read more of this couple in future stories.

I’m off to find more of this series.

Happy Reading folks!

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon
Combat Barbie
by Heather Long
Release Date: February 25, 2013
Publisher: Decadent Publishing