Retribution and Redemption: A Review of The Bully of Order

The Bully of Order

The Bully of Order by Brian Hart

Publication Date: September 2, 2104

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Set in a logging town on the lawless Pacific coast of Washington State at the turn of the twentieth century, a spellbinding novel of fate and redemption—told with a muscular lyricism and filled with a cast of characters Shakespearean in scope—in which the lives of an ill-fated family are at the mercy of violent social and historical forces that tear them apart.

Keen to make his fortune, Jacob Ellstrom, armed with his medical kit and new wife, Nell, lands in The Harbor—a mud-filled, raucous coastal town teeming with rough trade pioneers, sawmill laborers, sailors, and prostitutes. But Jacob is not a doctor, and a botched delivery exposes his ruse, driving him onto the streets in a plunge toward alcoholism. Alone, Nell scrambles to keep herself and their young son, Duncan, safe in this dangerous world. When a tentative reunion between the couple—in the company of Duncan and Jacob’s malicious brother, Matius—results in tragedy, Jacob must flee town to elude being charged with murder.

Years later, the wild and reckless Duncan seems to be yet another of The Harbor’s hoodlums. His only salvation is his overwhelming love for Teresa Boyerton, the daughter of the town’s largest mill owner. But disaster will befall the lovers with heartbreaking consequences.

And across town, Bellhouse, a union boss and criminal rabble-rouser, sits at the helm of The Harbor’s seedy underbelly, perpetuating a cycle of greed and violence. His thug Tartan directs his pack of thieves, pimps, and murderers, and conceals an incendiary secret involving Duncan’s mother. As time passes, a string of calamitous events sends these characters hurtling towards each other in an epic collision that will shake the town to its core. (from Goodreads)

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Mini Review of Personal Assistance

Personal Assistance by Louise Rose-Innes

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A thrilling suspense from Entangled’s Ignite imprint…

Her life is in the hands of a man she can’t trust…

Trapped in a country in the midst of a rebellion, Hannah Evans is on the run for her life. Her only hope of escape is to join forces with disgraced Special Forces operative Tom Wilde, who is overseeing the extraction of all British nationals from the embassy. It’s a form of punishment for his last failed mission, from which neither his body, nor his mind, has fully recovered. When he meets Hannah, he sees an opportunity to redeem himself. The information she holds is important enough to end the civil war—all he needs to do is get her out of the war-ridden country alive and back to Britain.

The sexual attraction between them is too intense to ignore, but Hannah knows the career-soldier has a hidden agenda. Can she trust him to lead her to safety, or will he sacrifice her in his bid for redemption?

 Publication Date: August 18, 2014

Genre: Romantic Suspense

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Blog Tour: Review + Author Interview & Giveaway for Whatever It Takes

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Whatever It Takes (Trust No One # 4)  by Dixie Lee Brown

WHATEVER IT TAKES

Publication Date: August 12, 2014 

Publisher: Avon Impulse

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Adult Fiction

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Assassin Alex Morgan will do anything to save an innocent life – especially if it means rescuing a child from a hell like the one she endured. 

But going undercover as husband and wife, with none other than the disarmingly sexy Detective Nate Sanders, may be a little more togetherness than she can handle. She’s used to working alone, and no man is going to change that – not even a man who makes her heart pound and her defenses crumble with just a touch 

Nate has dodged more than a few bullets over the years, but fighting his attraction for Alex may be the bullet that does him in. Still, Nate’s determined to help her find the missing kid. There’s no doubt in his mind that they’re walking straight into danger, but Nate’s willing to face anything if it means protecting Alex. She might have been on her own once, but Nate has one more mission: to stay by her side – forever. 

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Review of Honor Reclaimed (HORNET # 2)

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Honor Reclaimed (HORNET #2) by Tonya Burrows

Publication Date: May 27, 2014 / Entangled Publishing

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Adult Fiction

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Former Marine scout sniper Seth Harlan is new to HORNET and anxious to prove he can still do his job despite an ongoing battle with PTSD. He remembers all too well what it’s like to sit inside an enemy camp, praying for rescue and waiting for death. So when a black ops soldier contacts HORNET to rescue a buddy who was left behind, all sorts of nasty memories strain his newfound stability.

When an interview with a runaway Afghan child bride leads photojournalist Phoebe Leighton to an arms deal involving a suitcase bomb powerful enough to wipe out a mid-sized town, she realizes this is one battle she can’t win on her own. Forming an unlikely alliance with a ragtag team of military and government delinquents, she meets Seth, a sniper carrying as many emotional scars as physical, who impresses her with his steely will and ignites passions within her she thought long dead.

Suddenly this mission is about a lot more than an abandoned soldier. Racing against the clock, Seth, Phoebe, and the rest of HORNET struggle to stop that bomb before it reaches its final destination: The United States.

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Release Day, Review & Giveaway for State of Rebellion (Collapse Series # 3)

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State of Rebellion (Collapse # 3) by Summer Lane

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Publisher: WB Publishing http://writingbellepublishing.com/

Release: January 24th, 2014

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Genres: YA, NA, Post-apocalyptic, dystopian fiction

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Everything has changed.

After a devastating ambush that left the militia group Freedom Fighters struggling to survive, Cassidy Hart has been lucky to escape with her life.

Along with her Commander and former Navy SEAL Chris Young, she’s made a shocking discovery concerning the whereabouts of her father. The militias have moved further into the mountains. And the secret that is kept there will come with a price.

But when the National Guard arrives, Cassidy is faced with a choice that will force her to decide between friends and family. Omega is getting stronger. The fight for freedom looms on the horizon.

It’s all or nothing.

And Cassidy has no intention of giving up.

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Book Tour for Beg Me to Slay: ARC Review & Giveaway

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Beg Me To Slay by Lisa Kessler

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Release Date: December 30, 2013

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Entangled Covet

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He’ll slay her demons, but it may cost her heart…

Four years ago Tegan Ashton was attacked. Determined never to be a victim again, she devotes her life to martial arts and self-defense. When her assailant returns to finish what he started, only one person can help her.

Gabe is a private investigator by day and demon slayer by night. After losing loved ones, he vows to defend people from a threat they don’t realize exists.

The relationship is supposed to be strictly business, but fighting demons together stirs up emotions they never expected. Turns out demon fighting is a breeze compared to facing their scarred pasts and even worse – hearts.

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Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway for Beck (Corps Security Series #3)

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Beck (Corps Security #3) by Harper Sloan

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Release Date: December 23, 2013

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18069234-beck?ac=1

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**Warning** This book is intended for a mature reading** 

~DEE~ 

I’ve always been good at wearing masks. Not letting anyone see the real me. I’m content being the happy-go-lucky best friend. The strong willed boss. The independent woman who doesn’t need a man. 

But the truth is I’m just as broken as the rest of you. I’m terrified that all it will take is one person to make all my carefully constructed walls crumble into fine dust. So I guard my heart with everything I have. Determined to never let anyone get close enough to hurt me again. 

All is perfect until HE walks into my life. No… he doesn’t just walk. He struts his good-looking, sex-oozing self-right into my space and demands that I see HIM. Making me want what I know I can’t have. 

So I did the only thing I know how to do. 
I run. 
But he just won’t let me go. 

~BECK~ 

The second I see her, I know she will be mine. I see past the gorgeous smiles and heart-stopping laughter. I see HER. She doesn’t want me to know her secrets or the past that haunts her, but I make it my mission to find out. 

To make her mine. 

She can run all she wants, but it will never be far enough to stop me from coming after her. 
She’s it for me and she knows it. 
She’s just too scared to admit it. 

**NO cliffhanger, HEA, inter-connected standalones**

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Book Tour for Ashes to Ashes (Experiment in Terror #8): Review & Giveaway

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Ashes to Ashes (Experiment in Terror #8) by Karina Halle

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Publication date: December 11th 2013
Genres: Horror, New Adult, Supernatural

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It’s been two months since Perry Palomino and Dex Foray’s relationship reached a new turning point, two months since Perry started a new life in Seattle, and two months since their Experiment in Terror show took on a new partner, ex-Wine Babe Rebecca Sims, and found a new level of success. But whenever there is light in their lives, the madness still has a way of coming back in.

When the team is sent back to the stormy Oregon coast to investigate a haunted school, Perry wants to use the opportunity to reconnect with her family and reintroduce Dex into their lives. Only Perry’s not the only one who’s reaching out – her grandmother Pippa has started appearing to her with disturbing warnings and Perry’s presence at the school has ignited a chilling new wave of supernatural phenomenon. Once used a century ago as a sanatorium to house children dying of tuberculosis, the school’s past residents are slowly coming back to life and with one thing on their mind. They want someone to play with, someone to join them. Forever.

Even when dead, some children get whatever they want.

And they want Perry.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17608219-ashes-to-ashes?ac=1

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Release Day & Review of Hard as It Gets (Hard Ink #1) by Laura Kaye

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Release Date: November 26, 2013

Publisher: Avon Books

Genres: Romantic Suspense, Adult Fiction

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18680106-hard-as-it-gets?from_search=true

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Tall, dark, and lethal…

Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He’s left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander’s daughter. Loyalty won’t let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too. With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn’t expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees. Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge…

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ARC Review & Author Interview for Hot Pursuit (HOT #1)

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Hot Pursuit (Hostile Operations Team #1) by Lynn Raye Harris

Book Description

The last man she ever wanted to see…
Might be the only one who can save her…
Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.

But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.

Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.

But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

Book Review

Romantic suspense revolving around military heroes and heroines  is one of my favorite genres, and I was so excited to learn about the new Hostile Operation Team series that Lynn Raye Harris has created and have the opportunity to review the first book, Hot Pursuit.

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This first book introduces us to HOT, a new special ops force within the U.S. Army and centers on Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard’s team.  Matt is the hero of this book, and when the story opens, he is back in his hometown of Rochambeau, Louisiana, waiting for an upcoming hearing that will determine his future with HOT because of the team’s last failed mission where two team members were killed.  Matt is not in a good emotional place at this point. He’s weary, worried, and, I sense a deep loneliness within him.

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When he walks into the local beauty salon for a haircut, I’m sure he doesn’t expect to see the woman he hurt ten years ago. Evie Baker certainly doesn’t want to face the handsome, wealthy, popular Matt in front of a bunch of gossips and especially now, when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.  After losing her beloved restaurant because of scheming accountant and former lover, Evie has been forced to return home to try to start her life all over again while working in her mother’s hair salon…the same one Matt enters.

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Matt and Evie were close childhood friends, but then puberty hit, and Matt left her behind when he began to notice other girls. However, Evie developed a serious crush on Matt until he humiliated her and broke her heart after she gave him her most precious gift.

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To make the situation even worse, everyone in the town heard about the scandal. Matt leaves for college soon after, while Evie is left to deal with the swirling rumors and hurtful remarks.

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In the opening scene, Evie is hiding out, hoping to avoid Matt, and just as she’s about to slip out the back door, her mother instigates their awkward confrontation with the “Don’t you remember my daughter?” line. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes because that is just like something my mother would do to me. So, I connected with Evie right from the get-go. The teenage years are difficult and I’m sure most of us have our own embarrassing memories that we’d rather forget.

I also grew up in a small town where it doesn’t take much to become grist for the gossip mill.

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Whereas, I probably would have taken the easy way out—using the back door—Evie stands up straight, holds her head high, and approaches Matt in front of all those inquiring eyes. Go Evie!

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Evie is an emotionally strong woman. I admire that even after losing everything, she isn’t a “woe is me,” victim. I also like that she doesn’t totally blame Matt for the pain he caused. She acknowledges her part in the situation and, she is upfront with him about what really hurt her. When she realizes she needs Matt’s help to find her missing sister, she puts the past aside without constantly harping on it.  Moreover, Evie handles herself well in dangerous situations. One of the best scenes in the book is the intense car chase with Evie behind the wheel listening as Matt coaches her on how to outmaneuver their chasers.  The scene is so vivid that I felt as if I were watching it take place.

Overall, Evie isn’t reckless, but she also doesn’t hesitate to jump into the fray just in case Matt needs to be saved:

“I thought you were going to wait.”

Her wild gaze landed on his face. “You took so long I thought something happened. I was coming to help.”

Matt closed his eyes. Saints preserve him from women who thought he couldn’t take care of himself.”

I like her gumption and I think, secretly, Matt does too!

Yes, I was disappointed in Matt for his thoughtless behavior, and, initially, I wasn’t sure I was going to like him, but as his character developed and his painful past growing up in a dysfunctional family is revealed, I was able to empathize with him, even though what he did was absolutely wrong.  Plus, he just melts my butter when he slips into using Cajun French to comfort and soothe Evie.

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It’s a challenge to smoothly incorporate a romance into an action-packed plot fraught with danger, but Harris does it well so that the romance is believable, and the intimate scenes between them are appropriate to the situation.  I always struggle with plots where the couple temporarily forgets their lives are in danger, and even though the clock ticks away, they don’t seem to have a problem getting into the mood for sex. Kudos to Harris for making it work.

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I can feel the strong connection that still exists between Matt and Evie. The depth of their childhood friendship and their simmering sexual chemistry make it difficult for them to remain emotionally distant from each other.  I think Matt realizes this when he first sees Evie:

“There was something about having her near, something that sparked inside him and made him feel somewhat human again. He didn’t know why, and he didn’t know if it would last.

But he liked it. For the first time in months, he felt as if he could breathe again. As if he’d come home for real instead of simply going through the motions.”

And for Evie, Matt has always been more than a teenage crush:

 “…here she stood ready to lose herself in him one more time. Because there’d always been more between them than just one night. Because they went back a long ways, and she’d love him as a friend long before she’d ever fallen for him as a man.” 

Over and over in the story, Matt shows Evie that he is no longer the self-absorbed, inconsiderate jerk she remembers, and she fears that being around the man Matt has become puts her heart in jeopardy of being broken again. However, both have issues to resolve before they can take their feelings for each other to the next level. Evie doesn’t understand why Matt would choose to put his life in danger every day, and Matt doesn’t feel he has anything to offer Evie since his future is so uncertain. For all he knows, he may end up in a military prison for his recent actions.

Hot Pursuit has a well-written, unified storyline that brings readers full circle by its conclusion. The plot contains several surprises that I didn’t foresee

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that raise the stakes and build to an exciting, suspenseful climax.

Every scene contains a complication or conflict so there is never a lull in the action or drama, and I was eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen next.

To sum up, I am now a HOT fan and encourage all your romantic suspense readers to check out this hawt series!

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I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Since the quotes are from a pre-published copy, they may have changed or been omitted from the final version.

Rating

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About the Author

LRHarrisUSA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris burst onto the scene when she won a writing contest held by Harlequin. The prize was an editor for a year — but only six months later, Lynn sold her first novel.

Lynn has written over fifteen novels for Harlequin and been nominated for several awards, including the Romance Writer’s of American’s Golden Heart award and the National Readers Choice Awards.

Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former-military husband and two crazy cats.

Author Links

Website: http://www.LynnRayeHarris.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLynnRayeHarris

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynnRayeHarris

Interview with Lynn Raye Harris

I want to give a huge thanks to Lynn for taking the time to allow me to interview her about the HOT series! 

Can you tell us about yourself and what led you to begin writing?

I was raised in a military family and then I married a military man.  I was also a voracious reader from an early age, and I loved romance novels when I first read them as a pre-teen.  I always knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t always know what I wanted to write about.  One day, my husband bought me a computer and told me to stop talking about it and just do it.  That was the beginning and my first romance novel was a huge 800-page medieval romance.  It did not get published (rightfully so), but I had so much fun I kept writing.  Life got in the way, as it often does, but I got serious about getting published around 2005.  In 2008, I won a contest sponsored by Harlequin – and they bought my first book.  I’ve sold 20 books to them, and now I’m working on my own series, which is the HOT series.

Your new book Hot Pursuit is the first in the new Hostile Operations Team (HOT) series. What inspired the creation of this series?

I was actually working on this story before I sold to Harlequin!  I loved stories about military guys and I wanted to write my own.  Being married to a military guy, and being raised in a military family, I kinda know the lingo.  I had to make up the team, obviously, and some of what they do isn’t strictly authentic – but that’s why I made them up.  My world, my rules.  😉

Why did you choose Louisiana as the primary setting for this book?

I’ve lived in Louisiana, though not in Cajun country, and have family who still live around New Orleans.  It’s such a wonderful culture, so rich and full of interesting people – and the food!  Oh, there’s nothing like Cajun/Creole cooking.  Mmm.

Which character is your favorite and why?

Oh my.  Well, I love Evie’s grit but I also love a tortured hero, so I don’t know.  I love them both!

What have been the most enjoyable and challenging experiences for you in creating this series/ writing this book?

I think what’s both enjoyable and challenging is keeping the suspense turned up while also keeping the romance hot and tense.  I hate when characters stop in the middle of a run for their lives to have sex, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen here.  But I needed it to still be romantic and filled with romantic tension while they solved the puzzle.  As for the whole series, I think I just love these guys so much and can’t wait to write all the books.  OTOH, I worry about doing them justice.  It’s a challenge to keep the stories fresh and compelling!

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Well, I love the love scenes, of course.  But I also love when Evie has to drive the getaway car.  I researched that quite heavily.  I based it on teenage antics on dirt roads and real defensive driving.  Alas, I have not actually spun a car into a 180 myself. 😉  But there’s always time for that, heh.

Which scene was the most difficult for you to write?

Evie telling her mother that her sister was missing.  I tried it several different ways, and then I realized that the best way was for the scene to be in Matt’s point of view.  Much too emotional to be in Evie’s POV for that scene!

If you were to develop a musical playlist to accompany Hot Pursuit what would you choose as the #1 song, and why?

I’m so bad at this kind of thing!  Some books I know exactly what the music is.  Others I don’t.  And this is one where I can’t think of the song I’d choose.  Truthfully, I probably listened to a lot of Bon Jovi while writing it. 😉  Also, when I first started this one, I was living in Hawaii – I’m going to guess I listened to some Hawaiian music too!

What authors have had a significant influence on your writing?

I’ve read so much that I can’t say for certain.  I’m like a giant sieve and I hope that I’ve distilled all the best I can from what I’ve read.  For romantic suspense in particular, though, I’d name Linda Howard, Cindy Gerard, Roxanne St. Claire, and Suzanne Brockmann.  I hope I’m half as good as they are because they are all amazing writers!

What can we anticipate/expect from the next book in the series?  Will each book in the series be able to stand alone?

This is the fun part!  Next up is a novella called Hot Mess.  It’s about a new recruit to the HOT world, Sam “Knight Rider” McKnight and his best friend’s little sister, Georgeanne Hayes.  It’s very hot and steamy!  Georgie has always been in love with Sam, but he’s always kept her off limits.  Then she gets tangled up with some bad guys and Sam has to take her to a safe house while HOT investigates.  Oh my, the things they get up to at that safe house…. 😉

After Hot Mess, which should be out in September, there’s Dangerously Hot, which is about Kevin “Big Mac” MacDonald and the woman he loved and lost, Lucky San Ramos.  I hope to have their book ready to go by Valentine’s Day!  After that, there’ll be Hot Shot, which is about Jack “Hawk” Hunter.  If I’m very lucky and inspired, that book will be out by next summer.  All the stories will be standalone at this point!  Of course they’re fun when read as a set, but I don’t intend to leave anything unsolved with any of the romances from one book to the next.

*****

Start the series now:

Click on the book cover to purchase from Amazon

 

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Since Lynn mentioned that she listened to Bon Jovi while writing Hot Pursuit,  I picked a couple of their songs that I found relevant to Matt & Evie.

Although Matt hurt Evie in the past, he’s here for her now, even risking his career to help her save her sister.

Bon Jovi “I’ll Be There for You”

Evie isn’t happy about having to return to her hometown where she always felt she never quite fit in.  Yet, it’s here where she finds the support and love that she needs to get her through the tough times.

Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles:  “Who Says You can’t Go Home Again.” 

ARC Review of Against the Mark (The Raines of Wind Canyon #9)

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Release Date: August 27, 2013

Against the Mark (Raines of Wind Canyon #9) by Kat Martin

Book Description

The perfect murder is a work of art

In one catastrophic instant, Haley Warren’s estranged father was taken from her. She never got the chance to reconnect with him, so now she’s doing it the only way she’s got left: by proving the explosion that killed him was no accident.

When Tyler Brodie, the provocative and handsome P.I. hired by Haley, discovers that her father was investigating a suspected art theft, he knows his death is no coincidence. After all, tens of millions of dollars worth of stolen art could motivate a thief to go to any lengths—including getting rid of anyone poking around where they don’t belong.

As Haley and Ty get closer to the truth, the truth gets ugly: Did Haley’s dad know too much…or was he in on the take? And although Ty’s a consummate professional, he’s having trouble focusing on the facts of the case, and not the figure of his gorgeous client. The two are determined to get to the bottom of the case, even if it means they die trying.

Book Review

If you are already a fan of Kat Martin’s romantic suspense novels, then you will not be disappointed with Against the Mark, the latest upcoming release in The Raines of Canyon series.  Even though I have only read one other book in the series, I had no problem jumping into this book and getting immersed in the featured romance and murder investigation into an art theft ring.

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Martin has written a well-developed suspense plot that complements an equally well-developed romance between Ty Brodie, an easy-going country boy from Texas and Haley Warren, a somewhat uptight socialite from Chicago. Because of his friendship to Haley’s great-aunt, Ty agrees to investigate into the supposed accidental death of Haley’s father three months ago.  Although the attraction between Ty and Haley is instantaneous, their romance develops at a slower, more realistic pace.

Ty is an all-around great hero. He’s handsome, confident and as a former special ops Marine, he has the skills and experience to handle himself and protect Haley in dangerous situations.  His charisma, integrity, and openness with Haley make him swoon worthy.

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What I like best about Ty  is that he is always honest with Haley, and he doesn’t play emotional games. He never withholds his feelings to leave Haley (and me as a reader) in a state of perpetual angst.

It took a while before I really warmed up to Haley. However, she is a dynamic character who experiences the most change and emotional growth over the course of the book. At first she struck me as superficial, a woman who places too much importance on money and appearances.  Even Ty is initially put off by her attitude. Yet, as more and more of Haley’s backstory is revealed, I realized that her perceptions have, to a large degree, been skewed by her mother’s ideology and values.  Although she have may started the investigation into her father’s death out of a sense of guilt, I do like that Haley refuses to stop probing into her father’s death even when the level of danger intensifies.  It is when Haley puts her step-mother’s well being above her own feelings that I started to appreciate her as a heroine.

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Haley hasn’t had much experience with men or with being in love. She really doesn’t understand all the hoopla about sex until she kisses Ty.  He awakens a side of passion and sensuality within her that no one else ever has.

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Their physical relationship paves the way for them to connect on a much deeper level. Ty is not perfect. He has a dark side that emerges whenever he’s engaged in dangerous, adrenaline-pumping situations. Instead of being pushed away, Haley knows exactly how to deal with and calm an edgy, angry Ty. Unfortunately, Haley’s insecurities and single-minded attitude about marriage creates unnecessary complications and emotional pain in the latter part of the book.

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Martin has created a believable plot about art theft , and I enjoyed learning more about the intricate process of creating a forgery.

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The mystery behind Haley’s father’s death becomes clear early in the book, but the author does throw in unexpected plot twists that kept me off guard.

The tension and suspense build as Ty and Haley find themselves in increasingly greater danger as they work together to uncover and capture the mastermind behind the recent stolen art.  I found the scene where police are led to the ringleader somewhat anticlimactic, but, just when I thought I had the resolution figured out, Martin shakes things up so  the outcome was not as clear cut as I expected.

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The supporting characters all play a meaningful role in facilitating the plot and they add texture and liveliness to round out this fictitious world Martin has created. Moreover, the spark between Ty’s cousin, Dylan and Haley’s best friend, Lane has been ignited, and now I look forward to their future love story.

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating

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About the Author

Kat Martin

Kathleen Kelly Martin (aka Kathy Lawrence, Kasey Mars)

Kathleen Kelly was born on 14 July 1947 in the Central Valley of California, USA. She obtained a degree in Anthropology and History from the University of California in Santa Barbara. She was a real estate broker, when she met her future husband, Larry Jay Martin. A short time after the two became acquainted, Larry asked her to read an unpublished manuscript of an historical western he’d written. Kat fell in love with both the book and the author! Then, after doing some editing for him, she thought she’d try her own hand at writing. She moved on to become a full time writer.

Punlished since 1988, she singed her books with her married name, Kat Martin, but she also used two pseudonyms: Kathy Lawrence for a book incollaboration with her husband Larry Jay Martin, and Kasey Marx for her first contemporary romances. The New York Times bestselling writer, among her many awards, has won the prestigious RT Book Review Magazine Career Achievement Award. To date, Kat has over eleven million copies of her books in print. She has been published in seventeen foreign countries, including England, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Bulgaria, China, and Korea.

Currently residing with her husband, a Western-writer and photographer, in Missoula, Montana, USA. But when they are not writing, they also enjoy skiing and traveling, particularly to Europe.

“I’ve always loved books. I was an avid reader, with any number of my own stories rolling around in my head. Writing them down seemed a logical step.”

“I love anything old,” Kat says. “I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It’s fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era.”  (from Goodreads profile)

Author Links

Website: http://www.katbooks.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/49381.Kat_Martin

Twitter: luvromance

Check out my review of Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon #4)

ARC Review of Honor Unraveled (Red Team #3)

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Release Date: July 29, 2013

Honor Unraveled (Red Team #3) by Elaine Levine

Book Description 

Love Isn’t a Battle…

Kit Bolanger, ex-spec ops soldier, has followed the trail of an international drug lord back to his childhood town, the one place he swore never return to. He and his team of terrorist hunters are the only thing standing between the town’s residents and the evil threatening them. It doesn’t help to know that she’s here—the woman who betrayed his trust and shredded his heart.

…It’s a War and He’s Offering No Quarter

Deciding to put roots down, Ivy Banks has brought her daughter home to the sleepy ranching community of Wolf Creek Bend, Wyoming—the one place where she was certain she’d never run into her high school flame. But he’s back, fighting a global enemy and home-grown terrorists in a hidden war that puts their lives and their hearts in jeopardy. He was bad news in high school, and he’s even worse news now.

Surrendering to him is not an option…but it’s the only thing he’ll accept.

Book Review

Honor Unraveled is the third book in Elaine Levine’s Red Team series, an exciting special-ops romantic suspense. I started this series last year when I downloaded the first book, The Edge of Courage (Red Team #1,) as an Amazon freebie. Needless, to say, I was hooked.

Levine knows how write romantic suspense novels that have just the right blend of  swoon-worthy romance and dangerous suspenseful scenes to maintain my interest and pique my curiosity about what’s to come.

Levine has the ability to create compelling heroes who are fierce protectors of their loved ones and who are willing to sacrifice their lives to save others.

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The heroes in this series are far from perfect; their insecurities and past traumas force them to deal with inner demons that thus far have kept them from finding personal happiness. The female protagonists they fall for challenge, support, and deeply love them.

This series focuses on a group of former members of the elite Red Team, a covert military team  within the U.S. Army. Now, working in the private sector, they have joined forces with the FBI and Homeland Security to track down an active terrorist group in the U.S. run by an Afghan drug lord. These terrorists have strong ties to a regional white supremacist group called the White Kingdom Brotherhood who distribute their drugs brought into the U.S.

After reading Honor Unraveled, I can see that Levine has created a complex, well-planned plot that increasingly becomes more intricate as it unfolds with each romantic story. This is a series that must be read in sequence and the storylines of characters featured in previous books continue to develop.

The main romance in this story occurs between Kit and his high school girlfriend, Ivy. The Prologue provides a solid foundation for establishing the current tension between Kit and Ivy. Their romance ended when Ivy’s parents forced their separation. Yet, they are forever bound by their daughter, Casey.  Hurts from the past continue to keep them apart until Ivy and Casey become targets for Kit’s enemies. Kit forces them to stay at the team’s newly forged compound to keep them safe.  Ivy wants nothing more to do with Kit and is determined to move on with her life, yet Kit is determined to win her back, or at least do everything possible to determine if their relationship is salvageable.

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So far, Ivy is the one heroine in this series that I didn’t really connect with or particularly like.

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Her indifference to Kit and her reluctance to let him play a more integral role in their lives did not seem fully justified. Yes, I understand that she felt abandoned by Kit when they were teenagers, but he didn’t leave her by choice. Her parents played the biggest role in keeping them apart.

Ivy blames Kit for not finding her sooner, but she never bothered to look for him either. When he does learn that Ivy has returned to Wolf Creek and they have a daughter, he does everything he can to make sure they are financially supported. He is always watching out for their well-being even though Ivy hasn’t always been aware of it.  Kit now looks back and thinks he was a coward for keeping his distance from them, but I never saw any indication that Ivy tried to encourage him to be more active in Casey’s life. Casey has spent the past twelve years of her life thinking her father didn’t want her, and I don’t think Ivy ever did anything to make her think otherwise.

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As a result, I didn’t really root for them to reunite as strongly as I have with the other couples featured. I like the angle Levine takes with story, showing that love can endure, no matter the obstacles or passage of time.  I just didn’t feel that “wow” with them as a couple. There are some brief flashbacks about their time together in high school, but I think if I had been given more vivid memories showing how they fell in love, I may have better understood why Ivy is the only woman Kit can ever love.

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Levine’s beautiful metaphors and imagery to describe Kit’s feelings for Ivy do make me believe his love and concern for her is genuine and not generated by a sense of obligation.

Kit is a wonderful hero and his love for his daughter is touching. My favorite scene is when he tries to comfort Casey as she experiences an important first—the transition to womanhood. An awkward, potentially embarrassing situation only forges a closer, stronger bond between father and daughter.

Kit grew up with a single mother who neglected him and he has always had to deal with feelings of being unwanted and unloved. That’s what he wants so desperately from Ivy and Casey.

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I could understand his pain, and Ivy’s coldness toward him through much of the book only magnified his insecurities. I just didn’t feel her yearning and love for Kit.

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On a positive note, however, she does redeem herself, in my eyes, when she makes a sincere apology to Kit for all that she has put him through over the years.  Furthermore, in the latter part of the book, I did start to see more depth in her love for Kit and her desire for them to be a family, no matter that being with him will keep them from living, normal, safe lives.

As with the previous two books, Levine continues to write intense, sensual love scenes in the midst of ongoing action and suspense. In this book, I am also glad to see the development of other characters, such as Owen and Max, who will play more prominent roles as the story continues.  Levine also creates new story threads that thicken the plot and create more mysteries to be solved. An unexpected but intriguing twist is the introduction of a seemingly peaceful separatist group called the Friendship Community who have become part of this sinister network of antagonists.

She also adds the one and only female Red Team member, Selena, to the mission, who is as fierce a warrior as the men.

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Her run-ins with Owen have already created tension and make me wonder about the future of their relationship.

One disappointment I had with this story is that I had hoped the surprising cliffhanger ending from the second book revolving around Ty and his father would get resolved. I expected Ty to continue his active investigation to learn more about his father, but I didn’t see any development of this subplot. However, I anticipate that it will get resolved at some point as its importance to the overall plot is exposed.

Overall, I enjoyed how the book ended. It left me satisfied until the next book is released, which I hope won’t be too long. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will feature Kellen and Fiona’s story.

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I received an advanced copy of this book from the author to provide honest feedback as a beta reader. Note: the characters and/or the plot may change by the time the book is officially published.

Rating

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About the Author (from Goodreads)

ABOUT ELAINE’S WORK:

I make stuff up. And I have fun doing it.

Genre fiction gives me the perfect medium to build worlds where readers can join me for fun adventures. Pick up one of my Men of Defiance historical western romances and slip your fingers around the Colt .44 of a legendary gunslinger, be a scout on a wagon train, or ride shotgun on a stagecoach. Pick up one of my Red Team romantic suspenses and join the battle against international druglords and home-grown terrorists with a hot team of counter-terror specialists.

Romance fiction lets you be, for a few sweet hours, something you’re not. Which is cool, because every time you look at life through someone else’s eyes, you learn more about yourself.

So read often–become who you were meant to be.

ABOUT ELAINE:

I was born a poor, white child into a modestly affluent family, third daughter to a father who wanted only sons. I cooked and cleaned and mended my evil stepmother’s and stepsister’s ball gowns until my very own Prince Charming stole me away. We had two beautiful children, a boy and girl, who left our granola-eating, tree-hugging family to be warriors and, well, Republicans. Our son heard the siren call of the woman he loves and presented Prince Charming and me with two beautiful grandchildren, a girl and a boy. Our daughter continues on the warrior’s path and yearns for a lifemate more alpha than she but has an adorable to dog to occupy her attention in the meantime. And if you believe this fairytale, you’ll certainly love my books, so give them a try!

Goodreads Profile

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The first book in the series, The Edge of Courage,  is currently $.99 (ebook)