Hard to Hold (Hold trilogy, #1) by Stephanie Tyler

Published November 24th 2009 by Dell, Mass Market Paperback, 370 pages, ISBN13: 9780440244349

 THE SPECIAL OPS HERO FEARED NOTHING — UNTIL HE MET A WOMAN TOO HOT TO HOLD.…

Lieutenant Jake Hansen has survived some of the riskiest missions known to man. But now the wounded Navy SEAL faces his toughest job yet: smuggling Dr. Isabelle Markham out of Africa without triggering an international incident. Not easy to do when the gorgeous hostage happens to be a senator’s daughter—and about as easy to resist as an oasis in the desert.

If it weren’t for Jake, Isabelle would still be halfway across the world, where rebel forces left her for dead. The special ops warrior may have saved her life, but she doesn’t need him to protect her now. Tell that to the ruggedly handsome hunk in full battle fatigues who’s just been assigned as Isabelle’s personal bodyguard. Close quarters aside, Isabelle won’t let Jake anywhere near her heart—until danger throws them together again. And nothing in the jungles of wildest Africa could prepare them for a passion this wild. This crazy. This hot…

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading this book, do not read any further. … okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Jake Hansen, Navy SEAL, gets a transmission in the middle of an African jungle while on their way out: a doctor with Doctors Without Borders had been kidnapped and left for dead, not a mile from his current location. Splitting up, his team continues on, one man goes with him.

Finding Dr. Isabelle Markham nearly brought Jake to his knees, although he doesn’t know why. She’d been stripped of her clothes, bound, gagged, and beaten to a pulp. He gets her out of there, and home.

Two months later, Isabelle is still trying to recover. The slightest human contact makes her agitated, and claustrophobia is beginning to set it – something that never once bothered her before.

But getting over it isn’t simple. With the man who did the damage now behind bars, she should be able to move on, but is finding it difficult. She cannot function the way her mother wants her to. She wants to go back to Africa – she needs to. Her mother, a U.S. Senator doesn’t agree with that, neither does her uncle, Admiral James Callahan. So he pulls strings – several – and gets her a position on base, doing consultant work for the Department of Defense, and actually working at the Naval Hospital.

Running into the man that saved her … she knew it was going to cost her. But she also knew that he would be the only one to understand her, how she felt. Question is: Can she get him to open up?

**Not bad.

Okay, so first we have Jake. Alpha to the core, he’s actually more of an a$$#@!&. He’s hard as nails, and is so completely determined to keep people at arm’s length, he comes across as a complete jerk. Jerk – Jake … hunh, 4 letters. But even before he’d made it home, having rescued Isabelle, she somehow, unintentionally, got under his skin.

Isabelle. In the prologue, I came close to actually disliking her. Was she brave? Yes. No matter how bad she was hurt, no matter who had done it to her, she wanted to make sure she didn’t come away from it feeling like a victim. I get that – more than you realize. But, while down, avoiding gunfire, she wants Jake to put his hands on her? WTF??? Okay, yes she’s in shock, yes she’s traumatized… but after what she went through, having trusted a bodyguard her mother hired, that was supposed to guard her, to keep her safe, was the one that kidnapped her, raped her, and all within 24 hours, she wants Jake’s hands on her? That was a bit over the top for me.

I have to admit, I ended up liking Isabelle. She was fighting back, on her terms. She tried to live the way her mother wanted her to, engaged to a man she didn’t love, practicing in a big hospital… she was being smothered, and was determined to get out. Behind her mother’s and Uncle Cal’s backs, she signed up with Doctors Without Borders again, determined to go back, to fight her fears. But her biggest fear was yet to come – she’d been lied to. The bodyguard, Rafe, was supposed to have been caught, was supposed to be behind bars. He wasn’t, and now he’s after Isabelle.

I really liked how Isabelle got to Jake, and vice versa. How she was able to open up to Jake, knowing that he’d understand. How Jake’s defenses crumbled, bit by bit, because of Isabelle. Neither one judged the other.

The action scenes, in and out of the bedroom, were really good, and I liked the suspense. I enjoyed learning about Jake’s brothers, Nick and Chris, and their father-adoptive father, Kenny. I loved the banter between the men, whether joking or arguing. I did find, however, that the ending was rather too abrupt, but no matter. Do I recommend this? Yes. Am I saying to run right out to your local bookstore or library and snag it? Well… you can walk instead of run.

Rating: .5

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The Gunslinger (Dark Tower, #1) by Stephen King

Published July 1st 1989 by Signet, Paperback, 315 pages, ISBN-13: 9780451160522

This heroic fantasy is set in a world of ominous landscape and macabre menace that is a dark mirror of our own. A spellbinding tale of good versus evil, it features one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations – The Gunslinger, a haunting figure who embodies the qualities of the lone hero through the ages from ancient myth to frontier western legend. His pursuit of The Man in Black, his liaison with the sexually ravenous Alice, his friendship with the kid from Earth called Jake, are part of the drama that is both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, an alchemy of storytelling sorcery.

Review: Just about as I remembered it when I first read it almost two decades ago…

I can’t really write a review like I usually do, with a small rundown of what happens and then comment on it. The book is confusing, as I remembered it from long ago.

We see some background on Roland, the Gunslinger. We get his coming of age story, which is almost disturbing if not for the fact that his world is on different plane than ours. He is searching for the Dark Tower, compelled to search for it, and is after the Man in Black, the embodiment of evil. He wants answers, and only the Man in Black can give them to him.

Along the way, he meets a lot of people, who I don’t believe were originally evil, but are turned that way, as the Man in Black passed through town before him.

Then he meets Jake, a young boy from our plane, who had been brought over by the Man in Black. I still don’t really understand why Jake was even put in the Gunslinger’s path. What am I missing? If someone knows, please let me know.

And just when Roland catches up with the Man in Black, he has a difficult decision: lose Jake or lose the Man in Black. He chooses to lose Jake. I felt badly for Jake. He didn’t ask to be pushed into traffic and killed. He didn’t ask to be brought over to a different plane of existance. I felt just as confused as the kid. I was left with many questions unanswered. Once I read the Author’s Afterword, I did get a bit of a sense as to what King is up to in this series, and come to realize that a lot of those questions I have are just as much unanswered for him as well. Okay, so now I don’t feel like I’m swimming in the middle of an ocean with no hope in sight.

I will continue with the series, one book per month, along with some of the ladies in the group. I never did finish the series, and I’m determined to get it done.

Rating:

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Published March 25th 2008 by Pocket Star, Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages, ISBN-13: 9781416567035

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything…and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces…
Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé’s betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London…
In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous — and that a single decision can alter one’s life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.
A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned…and some passions never die.

Review: Set in the mid-1850’s. It opens with Emmaline Martin, holding on for dear life to an overturned rowboat. The ship had gone down during a ferocious storm. The crew was lost, and so were her parents. Emma, the sole survivor, clung to that rowboat until rescued by a freighter and brought ashore.

Her intended, Marcus Lindley, is introduced early in the story. An idiot and a complete jerk, his attitude towards her wouldn’t surprise me in this day an age. But for him to be so hurtful toward her is uncalled for, and only angers the reader.

Emmaline is a very intelligent young woman, educated well. But she is not celebrated for her brain; women are not meant to concern themselves with a man’s job. She’s berated for her talent in art.

We meet the Marquess, Julian Sinclair, early in the story as well. He’s quite taken with Emma, and not just for her looks.

When war breaks out in India, Emma is forced to save herself, for Lindley left her to the wolves. The only reason he agreed to the marriage was because of her money. But he was also left as her guardian, which means he can access those funds, even before marriage, as long as she is with him. Saving herself, she ends up running into Julian, who helps her escape.

Half-Hindu, half-English, Julian is welcomed in certain circles, and hated it others. He does what he can to keep Emma safe, and falls in love with her at the same time. He leaves her in a safe city, to return to Dehli to save his cousins, when the palace is attacked, and Emma is forced to flee.

Years later, then end up ‘bumping’ into each other when her paintings are put on display. She’d fallen in love with him as well, and it hurt to see him. He had promised to come for her. He never did. She no longer wants anything to do with him. For everyone she’s ever loved left her in some fashion, and she won’t subject her heart to it again.

Julian, now the Duke of Auburn, becomes rude and cruel, not wanting to show how much seeing Emma hurt, not wanting to show how badly she’d gotten under his skin. Being rejected by the one person he wanted singed just enough.

But can he figure out how to keep her out of trouble?

**Okay, I liked Emma. I thought the girl had spirit, gumption and brains. I’m very glad that she had finally agreed to put her paintings out there. A great heroine indeed, never caring what others thought of her, and I liked that about her immediately.

Julian is a hero in true fashion. Even after the attack on the palace, he’d continued looking for her. For 6 long years. And never found her, until that moment. No matter what happened before, or for his rudeness and cruelty after, his reaction to seeing her again endeared me to him.

Marcus … oh, if I could have jumped into the book, I’d have beaten the crap out of him. He was a selfish son of a … right from the beginning, and I hated his attitude.

Emma’s cousin, Delphinia, drove me nuts, believing she had the ‘right to look out for her cousin’. Give me a break.

All the attacks bugged me. While I do like a good fight scene, there were too many attacks. Especially on Emma. If the author wanted us to feel badly for Emma, she got that right from the start. But enough was enough, already! Being subjected to Marcus was more than enough, at the beginning and then after. There’s only so much a person can take before going mad, and I think if one more had happened to Emma, a straight jacket would have been called for. And I think perhaps that’s what bugged me. All the crap that was being loaded on Emma, just to have Julian treat her like he did in the second half of the story… The scenery was, I think, perfect. It’s not often we read a historical romance set in that scene.

And I can say I’m very glad that I don’t life in those times. I hate it very much when men put women down, and I think that’s why I have a hard time reading some historical romances.

I can say bravo to Ms. Duran, who deserved to have her book with the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition win the top prise. I’ll be looking for more of her work for sure. I very much like her writing style, and she can suck you into the story. It is quite possible I wasn’t in the mood to read a historical romance, which happens occasionally.

Rating: .5

The Demon in Me (Living in Eden, #1) by Michelle Rowen

Published May 4th 2010 by Berkley, Paperback, 336 pages, ISBN-13: 9780425234686

Hell hath no fury…

Fate has led Eden Riley to become a “psychic consultant” to the police, even though her abilities are unreliable at best. Those paranormal powers are about to get her into a jam she couldn’t have predicted: After her hunky police detective partner guns down a serial killer in front of her, Eden realizes that she’s quite literally no longer alone. A voice in her head introduces himself as Darrak. He’s a demon. But not in a bad way!

…Like a woman possessed.

Darrak lost his original body three hundred years ago, thanks to a witch’s curse. This is the first time he’s been able to speak directly to a host, plus there’s a bonus: Eden’s psychic energy helps him to take form during daylight hours. He wants to use this chance to find a way to break his curse – finally. Otherwise, Eden’s going to have to learn to live with this sexy demon … like it or not.

But she thinks she might like it.

Review: Eden Riley has psychic abilities. Sometimes, she just knows things. Let me repeat that. Sometimes she knows things. Images or thoughts just come to her. And it was during one of these sometimes episodes where she caught the attention of Toronto’s chief of police. His wife’s dog had gone missing, and after calling her faithful psychic, Eden, the dog was found. And now the chief of police wants her help in finding a serial killer.

Going to the house of the last murder, along with the lead detective, Ben Hanson, she has this sudden weird vibe, a pull towards a coat closet. Sure enough, the killer had returned to the scene of the crime. When her life is threatened, Ben shoots the killer dead, and Eden watches as this black smoke rises from the corpse, hesitates, and makes a bee-line directly at her. No one else sees this black smoke.

Then she hears a voice; a male’s voice. At first, she believes there’s someone nearby. Then she realizes … the voice is coming from inside herself. Terrific – she’s been possessed – by a demon, no less.

Over three hundred years ago, Darrak’s body was destroyed, his spirit cursed, and has been living in humans bodies ever since. This is the first time one of his hosts can actually hear him and communicate with him. Not only that, but her psychic ability manages to help him take form during the daylight hours.

Now that he has a host who can not only hear him but can communicate with him, he asks for her help in finding the witch that cursed him. Once she desolves the curse, Darrak will be free, and will be able to leave Eden alone.

And now Eden is learning that the “bump in the night” beings are actually real. She pays for an exorcism that she doesn’t go through with, and now the Malleus, a group of people hell-bent (pardon the expression) on eradicating evil, won’t leave her alone. Finding the witch is beginning to look impossible, and she learns that if Darrak isn’t set free within a year, he will drain her energy dry, resulting in killing her. Oh, and as any demon, while he didn’t totally lie to her, he didn’t tell her the whole truth, either. He’s not just any demon, but an archdemon, and one of the worst kind.

What ever happened to her boring and monotonous life?

** A cute story, but not quite a paranormal romance.

Personally, I think this one should have just been put in the paranormal genre. While I saw the possibilities between Eden and Ben, the hot detective, I didn’t feel a spark between them. However, with Darrak, I could feel the pull, the attraction between them. And yet, it’s forbidden, for he can completely drain her energy if he’s not careful. And she can do worse without meaning to.

I found Eden to have a level head, even though she’s a “sometimes” psychic who completely doubts her own abilities. Can’t blame the girl – her abilities never worked when she wanted them to – they worked eradically at best. Even with all the paranormal information thrown at her, she kept her head, pushing aside her panic in order to deal with the problem at hand.

Darrak, although an archdemon, spent so many centuries possessing humans that humanity seems to have burned itself in him. He’s no longer the cruel, heartless, evil demon that he was. And he’s fallen in love with Eden. Now, more than ever, it’s important that they find someone to dissolve the curse.

At first, I found the story to be on the corny-cutesy side. Seemed it was a plot I’ve read before. But about halfway through the book, there’s a twist that takes the story in a new direction, and it improved from there. The characters are colorful, action scenes well played out, and the romance has just enough ‘zing’ to it that the reader can feel it. I may have rated it 3 stars (Goodreads does not have a half-star system), but it’s a 3.5’er for me.

Rating: .5

Evil Without a Face (Sweet Justice, #1) by Jordan Dane

Mass Market Paperback, 377 Pages, Published February 1st 2009 by Avon, ISBN:9780061474125

Evil Without a Face

(Sweet Justice, #1)

by Jordan Dane

Haunted and obsessed . . .

She sleeps with a Colt Python in her nightstand and her senses on alert—Jessica Beckett isn’t taking any chances. Hiding a chilling secret, living in a world of snitches and felons, good cops and bad dreams, Jessica is a bounty hunter who brings lowlifes to justice. But not even she can imagine what she’ll face when she tracks an online predator who has abducted a naïve teenage girl.

Making promises that can’t be kept

Former NFL quarterback Payton Archer swore to his sister that he’d find her only child. But the police have no leads, and the teen’s trail has turned cold. Plagued by personal demons, Payton’s never considered himself a hero, but this time he has to be.

And fighting a faceless enemy

Joining forces to save the seventeen-year-old girl, Payton and Jessica discover that she’s nothing but a pawn in an insidious, terrifying global conspiracy. They’re battling a new kind of criminal . . . and soon their race for answers will become a dangerous struggle for survival.

**Review: **Spoiler Alert!**

Seventeen-year-old Nikki Archer is running away from home, away from her single-parent, alcoholic mother. She wants to start a new life far away from Talkeetna, Alaska. And a friend she met online, promises she and her dad can help her.

And after finally getting to Chicago, Nikki learns all too quickly that her friends isn’t whom she said she was, and neither is her father. Nikki has been kidnapped with a subtle ploy, one where she believed her friend could help her get into a modeling agency. In reality, teenagers no more older than children, are being kidnapped and sold … privately, the biggest sex trade that stretches around the globe.

Payton Archer, an ex-NFL’er, believes himself worthless, and has acted that way for a long time. But when his sister calls, begging for his help, he realizes that he has to face life head-on: he’ll find and help Nikki, no matter what it takes.

Jess Beckett’s past is actual hell, and she won’t bring herself to think about it. She believes she’s moved on. She is now a Fugitive Recovery Agent, aka Bounty Hunter, sleeps with a Colt Python either in her nightstand or under her pillow, and doesn’t trust anyone with a 20-foot poll. The only one that can remotely touch her is her best friend, Samantha Cooper, a Chicago Vice cop.

Most cops don’t like Jess. She pushes to the max, and more times than not, jumps way over the line of the law, to apprehend the fugitive she’s after. But when she bumps into one fugitive she’d love to rid the world of, she does everything physically possible to bring him down, only for him to be let loose again. Seems the pedophile is a paid snitch for the cops, and that grinds Jessie’s cookies to dust. After stealing property, a laptop, Jess has her hired tech employee, Seth Harper, try to break into it, but he’s unable to get much out of it. But both are curious and suspicious of what’s on there, and Seth loads the computer with a device that can keep track of keys that are typed. And when she has to trade the laptop for Seth, both are determined to bring the man down. But the pedophile ends up murdered, and detectives suspect that Jess was the one that took him out. And now Jessie’s racing against the clock – find the killer and stop Globe Harvest.

Meanwhile, Payton and his friend, Joseph Tanu, a retired trooper, follow clues that lead them right to Chicago, and on the trail of Nikki, and what is now known as Globe Harvest.

And now it’s down to the wire. Find the missing and kidnapped kids and shut down Globe Harvest.

**Not bad… not bad at all!

I liked Jess right off. A no-nonsense tough cookie, Jess does what she has to in the heat of the moment. As a character, she had me snort with laughter quite a few times with her one-line quips and sarcasm. She reminded me very much of me in that aspect. While I felt bad about her past, I didn’t pity her, for she’s pushed herself to get passed it, to become better than ‘what could have been.’ If she was a real person, she’d be something to admire.

Payton irked me a little at the beginning of his part in the story. I don’t like characters that are introduced with stupid moves and self-pity. But Payton overcomes my first thoughts about him, and turns into a loving and heartsick uncle who’ll do whatever it takes to find his niece and bring her home.

All the characters are interesting, some coming of in a suspicious manner, but as you learn more about them, you learn who you can trust, and who you can’t.

I liked the mystery, suspense and action in the book. It wasn’t sparsed too wide, and it wasn’t too thick. I liked the romance that started between Jess and Payton, but I can’t see it lasting into anything serious. Their worlds are just too far apart. I also liked how the author put it bits and pieces of what Nikki and the other girls were going through. It added to the suspense and the horror I felt as a mother who can’t imagine what I’d do if my daughter ever ended up in Nikki’s position. Scary.

While not my favourite book, it definitely shows promise to the beginning of a series. I’m looking forward to the second book, The Wrong Side of Dead.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Paperback - 213 Pages - Published February 1, 1998 by Warner Vision - ISBN-13: 9780446605236

The Notebook

by Nicholas Sparks

A man with a faded, well-worn notebook open in his lap. A woman experiencing a morning ritual she doesn’t understand. Until he begins to read to her.  The Notebook is an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever. Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, thirty-one, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories. . . until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Allie Nelson, twenty-nine, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments, and fundamental changes that affect us all. Shining with a beauty that is rarely found in current literature, The Notebook establishes Nicholas Sparks as a classic storyteller with a unique insight into the only emotion that really matters.

**Review: As per the recommendation from my sister-in-law, I borrowed both from her: the movie and the book. She recommended that I watch the movie first, then read the book. I watched the movie about half a year ago. Pretty good story, the characters were wonderful, and I balled my head off.

The book was good, but I have to say, although I’m sure I’m probably going to be bombarded after this, that I enjoyed the movie more than the book. I preferred the ending in the movie over the ending of the book.

One summer, seventeen-year-old Noah and fifteen-year-old Allie fell in love. When she left, Noah wrote letters, keeping in contact with her, hoping one day they’d be together again. But those letters never reached her, and Allie never knew that Noah still thought of her. He went off to work up the coast, enlist in the war, and came back to buy the house he always said he would and restore it.

Now twenty-nine, Allie is in the middle of wedding plans when an article in the paper catches her attention: Noah, the purchase and restoration of the house. For two weeks, Allie carried the article in her person, wondering what to do. She loved Lon, but not in the same way she loved Noah that summer years ago. Finally, her mind is made up: she needs to see Noah one last time, to see how he is, to explain, to move on with her life.

But after seeing him, goodbye doesn’t come so easy. For the love they shared is still there, and is rediscovered. Noah was the only person who really understood her. How can she marry Lon, when what she has with Noah is so much more?

Glimpses of past and present, the book is pretty spectacular, evoking emotions from the reader as they walk through the journey, a love so pure it cannot be denied. The past so sweet, the present such a heartache. Definitely a book worth reading. The movie, one worth watching.

Rating:

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 12:27 am  Comments (1)  
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Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

Paperback: 496 pages - Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (March 3, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 045122650X - ISBN-13: 978-0451226501

Paperback: 496 pages - Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (March 3, 2009) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 045122650X - ISBN-13: 978-0451226501

 

Every family has its secrets…

Hold Tight

by Harlan Coben

“We’re losing him.”

With those words, Mike and Tia Baye decided to spy on their sixteen-year-old son, Adam, who has become increasingly moody and withdrawn since the suicide of his best friend. The software they install on his computer shows them every Web site visited, every e-mail sent or received, every instant message. Within days, a cryptic message – “Just stay quiet and all safe” – draws them into a maze of mayhem and violence that could destroy them all….

Review: Hold tight to what? (enter sarcasm here)

Tia and Mike Baye are worried. Since the death of their son’s best friend, Spencer, Adam has become withdrawn. Something’s wrong, and Tia convinces Mike to have software installed on Adam’s computer so that they can try to figure out what’s wrong. Mike is uneasy with this decision, for they are invading their son’s privacy. Would the lack of trust tear their family apart?

Tia prints out the report from Adam’s computer and goes through it. The cryptic message – “just stay quiet an all safe” – is alarming to both, Tia and Mike. Stay quiet? Why? What’s going on? They decide they have to do something. One e-mail on Adam’s computer is talking about a party, a party that Mike and Tia do not want Adam attending. With the idea of stopping him, Mike tells Adam that they’re going to a hockey game with, but Adam doesn’t show up. He’s taken off, and his parents are desperate to find him.

Tia and Mike’s daughter, Jill, is friends with Yasmin Novak. Yasmin has become an angry and hurt little girl; her teacher, Joe Lewiston, made the mistake of singling her out in class, and now she is incessantly being made fun of.

Joe Lewiston is sorry for what he’s done, no one understands how sorry. And now he’s become jumpy, going so far as to change the password on his wife’s e-mail account so that she doesn’t see what’s being sent to her.

Yasmin’s father, Guy, has taken to driving by the Lewiston’s home, slowing down as he goes by.

They Bayes neighbors are having a rough time. Their ten-year-old son is sick and needs a kidney transplant. Now, usually the father is the perfect match, but after tests are run, not only is he not a match, he isn’t the biological father. What secret is Susan Loriman hiding?

Meanwhile, there’s a killer out there who murdered two women; he’s looking looking for answers.

**Where do I begin? The story started out strong. You learn who the characters are, what they do, their worries, their frustrations. You get that something’s wrong. There’s a mystery and suspense, and you’re right with the parents as they search for their son.

All these story lines are connected, but it’s the coincidences that I had a very hard time with. How everything’s connected, by the smallest things,  had me shaking my head. Unbelievable is what they were. Just when you think there’s a grander scale, everything is put to small individual things being linked together and it was ridiculous! (and here I am repeating myself!) And the reader is made to believe it! That just made it all that much more absurd!

I have to admit, though, the main point was brought up as parents point of view and beliefs. How far would you go to protect your child? Would you spy on them? Would you do what they Bayes did? And what of the consequences should your child find out you invaded their privacy? At what point do you let them go? And should your child find out, how would you go about repairing the damage? I liked that part – it had me thinking of what I would do once my kids hit that age.

The mystery, as far as the Baye family was concerned, was excellent. The rest, to me, was filler. I wished that Mr. Coben had concentrated on that alone, the rest was distracting. Not a bad book, but not high on my list of recommendations.

Rating:

Published in: on March 20, 2009 at 4:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Twice Kissed by Lisa Jackson

Paperback: 448 pages - Publisher: Zebra (July 25, 2006) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0821779443 - ISBN-13: 978-0821779446

Paperback: 448 pages - Publisher: Zebra (July 25, 2006) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0821779443 - ISBN-13: 978-0821779446

 

The only good twin is a dead twin…

Twice Kissed

by Lisa Jackson

MIRROR,  MIRROR…

Marquise Walker has vanished without a trace. There are few clues and much speculation on her sudden disappearance. But the truth is more terrifying than anyone can even imagine…

ON  THE  WALL…

Maggie McCrae would do anything to find her identical twin sister – even if it means stepping into her unfamiliar shoes. Walking through Marquise’s wild, uninhibited life is a revelation for Maggie, proof that she knew very little about her twin’s darker side and her connection to the only man Maggie ever loved, Thane Walker. Now he’s the man she shouldn’t trust, a man who could be her best hope … or a cold-blooded killer…

WHO’S  THE  DEADEST  TWIN  OF  ALL?

The deeper Maggie digs, the more she is drawn into the web of her own past … to a twisted family legacy of desperate deceit, betrayal, and revenge … each secret bringing her closer to a final, shocking truth – and to the identity of a killer who’s closer than she thinks….

Review: Not as great as I was lead to believe…

While feeding her horses, a voice floats through Maggie’s mind. It had been years since she felt it for the last time. Her twin-sister’s voice. Her sister is in trouble. And she’s blaming her ex-husband, Thane Walker, the man Maggie had fallen in love with years ago. Not long after she hears the voice, Thane shows up on her doorstep; just before she disappeared, Marquise and Thane had gotten into an awful fight, and now the police believe him to be their number one suspect.

Mary Theresa, now known as Marquise, has disappeared without a trace, without the tiniest clue as to where she went. Maggie ships her daughter off to her in-laws while she heads to Denver with Thane to search for her sister. Plenty of suspects: from ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends, current boyfriend, co-workers, supposed friends… Did someone ‘help’ Marquise disappear? Was she kidnapped? Was she murdered? Or did Marquise do what she’s done before; disappear for a few days only to reappear as if nothing was wrong? No ransom note, no body. The police are digging, and so is Maggie. But she doesn’t understand what she finds, for her sister has a dark side that Maggie never knew about, and doesn’t want to believe.

**I was disappointed with this story. You’re first introduced to Maggie and her daughter, Becca. She’s in some small town in Idaho, escaping a troubled past, dragging her daughter with her. What happens at the beginning is quite promising – however, it doesn’t stay that way. Thane shows up, wanting her help. She ships her daughter off, heads to Denver with Thane, and begins learning things about her twin sister that she never knew. Suddenly, she has no clue who her twin sister really is.

But then the story gets kind of lame. There’s a flashback to when they were teens. While Maggie was the loner, the one who prefered to be by herself, Mary Theresa was becoming the wild child. The twisted family legacy was rather awful in a disgusting way, not horrifying. Yes, there was deceit and betrayal, but there was no originality to it. Horrible enough that Maggie wants to truly believe that nothing happened and she suppressed it. Mary Theresa sleeps with Thane while he’s drunk, pretending to be Maggie, then claims the baby is his – when it actually wasn’t. And it goes on and on. At one point, I was screaming “enough already!”  Mary Theresa becomes the bad person; uses men to get where and what she wants, blah, blah, blah.

Mary Theresa was screwed up in the head, had been since she was a teenager. Even when she tries to make it right at the end, her vision of things was still skewed. Maggie… OMG, I’ve never met such a naive character. I mean really naive; not an inkling of what her sister was really like? Suppressing something so ‘horrible’ that she refuses to remember it? She was sixteen, for crying out loud! I can understand if she’d been twelve, but sixteen? And Thane – a charmer? I never felt the ‘charm’. And his biggest secret he was holding back had to do with the possibility of a seventeen-year-old son out there somewhere, that Mary Theresa had given up after they split, and she was trying to extort money from him. The threat was, either loan me the money or you’ll never find your son? *biggest eyeroll I can make* And the one who set up the disappearing act/killer – unoriginal to say the least. The one character I liked that seemed to have any common sense: Becca. For a kid, she was smart. She figured out her cousin was using her, what her aunt and uncle were up to, and headed straight for her mother the second she figured it out. While it was stupid how she did the latter, I still thought her the smartest.

After the story is finished, Ms. Jackson writes to her fans. The sentence: “A fun-loving triangle!” had my jaw dropping. Fun-loving? It was sick and twisted, not fun-loving! Ugh.

Rating:

A Necessary Risk by Kathleen Long – Harlequin Intrigue #976

Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages - Publisher: Harlequin (March 13, 2007)  - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0373692439 - ISBN-13: 978-0373692439

Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages - Publisher: Harlequin (March 13, 2007) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0373692439 - ISBN-13: 978-0373692439

 

A Necessary Risk

by Kathleen Long

Harlequin Intrigue #976

A determined detective hell-bent on revenge.

Detective Zach Thomas had one goal: find out what really happened the day his brother died. Problem was he had to involve beautiful scientist Jessica Parker. Then, as Zach slowly uncovered some deadly secrets, his need for vengeance was overshadowed by his desire to protect Jessica.

A buttoned-up beauty who’d awakened a killer.

Jessica Parker knew she’d spent her life doing no harm, and yet somehow the research she’d conducted had gone so horribly wrong. Could her gorgeous protector prevent her from falling victim to an elusive enemy who’d stop at nothing to suppress the truth?

Review: Good plot, good characters, could have been a tad longer.

Detective Zach Thomas is on leave from the force. He’s determined to find out what happened to his brother. Jim’s death had been deemed “suicide” after jumping off the balconey of his college dorm room. But Zach knows it couldn’t have been suicide. They grew up together, and Zach had been taking care of Jim since their parents died. There’s no way his brother would commit suicide. Now Zach’s determined to find the answer. His brother had been part of a study, taking an experimental drug known as HC0815. Could the drug be to blame? Zach thinks so, and he’s determined to prove it.

Jessica Parker spotted Zach in the audience of reporters during a press conference and knows he’s an imposter, for his leather jacket and the hard, cold look in his eyes tells her he’s not a reporter. She’s cornered before the tour, and Zach’s questions have her wondering what’s going on. He can’t be right with his assumptions. Jessica had taken over the study only a couple of week prior, and none of the side-effects or reported problems are on the case reports. Is there really a problem with HC0815? Is someone covering up? Or could it be that Zach is grasping at straws? One way or the other, regardless of the threats against her and her parents, Jessican is taking the ‘necessary risk’ to find out.

**For me, the story should have been longer. I liked Zach and Jessica. Zach is sure that his brother’s suicide is a result of HC0815, and it’s his dogged determination that intrigues a character – wondering if his gut-instinct is right. Jessica, no stranger to heartache (her father was diagnosed with MS,) hopes one day to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, and while that day is far away, she’s hoping that HC0815 could be a possible cure, if not treatment, to Hepatitis C. She wants to discredit Zach, honestly believing that he’s wrong. But as she digs deeper, things aren’t adding up. What I liked about Jess was that, no matter the threats against her or her parents, the angrier she’d get, the more determined she became to finding out what was really going on. 

While I enjoyed the mystery and results of the plot, the author uses enough descriptions in the pharmaceutical world to really understand that aspect without going overboard and too technical. I liked how you get quite the understanding of the testing and how it all works. What I really liked was, even though this novel is fiction, you wonder if it possibly really does exist in the real world, if greed can really effect the results of a test drug. It’s a truly scary thought.

I did feel a spark between Zach and Jess, but their relationship felt rushed. There wasn’t enough room inside of 200 pages for the characters to really grow attached to each other. While it was okay, it could have been great had the book been longer.

Rating: .75

Blowout by Catherine Coulter (“FBI” series Book #9)

Paperback: 368 pages - Publisher: Jove (February 22, 2005) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0515139254 - ISBN-13: 978-0515139259

Paperback: 368 pages - Publisher: Jove (February 22, 2005) - Language: English - ISBN-10: 0515139254 - ISBN-13: 978-0515139259

 

Blowout

by Catherine Coulter

“FBI” series Book #9

Dear Reader:

A long weekend in the Poconos is cut short when FBI agents Sherlock and Savich are helicoptered back to Washington, D.C. to lead the investigation into the brutal murder of a Supreme Court Justice.

Savich allows Callie Markham, an investigative reporter for The Washington Post, to partner with local Metro Police liaison Ben Raven since she’s got the inside track – she’s the stepdaguther of the murered Justice.

Is the murder a terrorist act? Or is it something more personal? Whithin twenty-four hours there’s another murder with the same M.O.

Savich and Sherlock are up against it this time, following leads that seem impossible to connect to the madness. But are they?

Let me know how many times you check your heart monitor.

Review: My opinion – not her best work.

Savich, Sherlock and their son, Sean, are spending some family time at a cabin in the Poconos. On his way back from the market, Savich’s SUV blows a tire. Just as he’s done changing it, a woman comes running out of nowhere, not suitably dressed for the weather, screaming about a man in her house. His cell phone all of a sudden not working and unable to call for back-up, Savich goes with the woman back to her house. Making her wait in the living room, he searches the house, and other than a small incident, there’s no one there. Exactly no one, for even the woman has disappeared. The house now seems abandoned, as if it had been that way for years. Had Savich actually been talking to a ghost?

And just when he tries to convince the local sheriff of what happened, Savich and Sherlock are called back to D.C. to head up the investigation of a murdered supreme court justice, Stewart Califano. He’d been murdered right in the Supreme Court Library, and all they have to go on is the guard who’d been knocked out.

Metro detective Ben Raven is helping Sherlock and Savich with the case, the appointed liason between the FBI and Metro police. They met the now widow, Margaret Califano, as well as her daughter, Callie Markham, an investigative reporter for The Washington Post. Taking a leave of absense, she’s determined to help the FBI find her stepfather’s killer. And now Ben is stuck with her. And that’s just the beginning of a spark.

Everyone is interviewed, from the other justices, the clerks, family and friends. Then one of Califano’s clerks is murdered, the same M.O. With the help of MAX, the computer finds the M.O. matches the M.O. of a killer who hasn’t killed in over 20 years. How can that be? Is no one safe and who could be next?

**Could have been better. All those interviews and no clues from them. And the more the interviews, the more I started to get bored. They kept revisiting the same information. A few events in the book make you sit up and take notice, just for it to go back to more interviews. And then finally, you get face to face with the killer, and it made no sense – there was no connection between this person and his victims. And just when you’re thinking “You’ve got to be kidding me,” you read the barest of connections, a rather neat twist, and yet you still don’t know much about the killer or who it really was he associated with. Callie finds out by mishap, but doesn’t tell, not even Ben.

Savich and Sherlock were their usual selves, and I really like them as characters, as man and wife, as mom and dad. We see them more with Sean in this one and I liked that aspect. Callie – I liked her personality; no nonsense, she pushes to get her way. Ben – I liked him as well. Even when he’s not happy of being saddled with Callie, he makes the best of it. I liked the banter between them, but that spark you feel at the beginning, stayed just like that. A spark – one. That’s it. After that, I felt a camaraderie between them and nothing more. 

Then there’s that twist, and you’re thinking “Holy Cow!”, but it stays there. You still don’t know who the killer was associated with. While I have an idea, it’s not confirmed, and that bothered me.

Meanwhile, there’s a second, smaller investigation, for the ghost of Samantha Barrister won’t leave Savich alone. They do find her son, in a most unusual way, and even solve her murder. I actually enjoyed that part more than the main investigation, and I believe that more could have been added to it and made its own book, I think.

While it was good, the book could have been better.

Rating: