Review Books, Romantic Suspense, Suspense & Thriller

Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti


Title: Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops, Book 1
Narrated By:
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Format: Kindle edition (advance reading copy)
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Romantic Suspense
BLURB: Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

A very good start to a new series. The first half gave me goosebumps as it was very suspenseful almost like the beginning of a scary movie. The second half of the novel was definitely more of a romantic suspense story. I definitely on board for this new series.

Pippa Smith was on the run and appeared to have severe anxiety issues while Detective Malcolm West was drowning in alcohol as a coping mechanism for his PTSD. When Malcolm was asked to take a new undercover assignment investigating a terrorist threat involves the cult Pippa used to belong to, Malcolm is forced to cozy up to the reclusive woman. But Pippa is suspicious of everyone especially law enforcement so Malcolm has his work cut out for him.
It became really clear that Pippa and Malcolm were yearning for a connection to someone or something. They both wanted to be free of their past and also sleep well at night. They both have been looking over the shoulder for so long that peace is a luxury they dare not wish for. How can he get her to share her past when he won’t come clean about his own secrets?

I enjoyed Malcolm and Pippa getting to a place where they had someone to trust and finding love. It was really fast for people with trust issues but I’ll chalk it up to them being starved for human contact. I enjoyed this story as it had just enough romance to keep me going but I was really curious about that serial killer.

This series is a departure from what Rebecca Zanetti’s normal narratives but it definitely had her signature style especially with the sex scenes. I think her last four books have all featured a spanking scene but I am not sure Pippa and Malcolm had achieved that level of comfort after just a week of knowing each other. Especially for a woman who is in counseling and possible on medication for her panic attacks. I would have liked more development and discussion about Pippa’s anxiety and Malcolm’s PTSD. However, the author laid down a foundation for an off the books Homeland Security Department task force ~ The Requisition Force. I think it’s going to be really good as each member gets their own story. Each task member has a compelling backstory and I am really looking forward to hearing it, especially the dog Roscoe.

*I voluntarily read this advanced reading copy gotten from Netgalley. All opinions are my own honest opinions.

 

Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Review Books

Ryan’s Bed by Tijan


Title: Ryan’s Bed by Tijan
Narrated By: Thérèse Plummer
Release Date: January 14, 2018
Format: Audiobook (9hrs and 1 min)
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Blurb: I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.

I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed–her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should’ve left…

I didn’t. I didn’t jump out. I didn’t get embarrassed.

I relaxed. And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.

I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.

The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could’ve stayed forever, I would have.

He became my sanctuary.

Because–four hours earlier–my twin sister killed herself.
I didn’t like this title. It didn’t reflect what this story was about. This book was sad yet hopeful look at a family’s struggle to cope with the unimaginable. I hate that publishers are trying so hard to sell books that they use sexy titles/covers that misrepresent the actual content of their work. But the narrator Therese Plummer had just the right voice. It was a mixture of pain, detachment, anger, hope, etc. I heard all of that in her voice and I couldn’t stop listening.

MacKenzie found her twin sister Willow in their bathroom in a pool of her own blood the day before their eighteenth birthday. It was a shocking beginning and the book follows MacKenzie and her family as they deal (or don’t deal) with the grief of suicide.

This book was done well because the process felt real, it felt slow, it felt like they would never be okay sometimes and then other times I thought they had turned a corner. It was painful to read so my heart goes out families who have to deal with a suicide.

I am no therapist but I was uncomfortable with the way MacKenzie latched on Ryan like a life-support jacket. In addition, her parents were so consumed with their own guilt that they knowingly turned a blind eye to her sneaking out to spend the night in a bed of a boy they barely knew. I know that grief can pull families apart or bond them closer together but in this case, the MacKenzie’s parents abandoned her emotionally and physically. They pawned her off to the care of a business acquaintance and that was deeply disturbing to me. Instead of structure and perhaps more family interaction, each person retreated into their own corners like a boxer after the bell.

3.5 star.
I liked Ryan and how gently he treated MacKenzie. He listened, he held her and he comforted her every time she needed him.

He was rock solid, he was intuitive and compassionate. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I got to know him outside MacKenzie’s pain. Maybe this story was meant to be snap shot in time because the characters were not developed that well. Not the main characters nor the supporting characters. There was underlying bullying at school. It felt like the adults were on vacation. The epilogue really exposed the fact that there was so much more going on under the surface and author didn’t really dig below. It was a good glimpse of a family’s grief but I wanted much more.

The two lessons I took from this story was to consistently listen to and talk with our loved ones. Don’t put labels on them like “the smart one” “the strong one” etc but to really see them and have meaningful interactions. It’s true that people will only share what they want, but if we establish trust, they may just let us into the vulnerable parts of their hearts.

Contemporary Romance

The Gamble (Colorado Mountain, #1) by Kristen Ashley


The Gamble (Colorado Mountain, #1) Title: The Gamble by Kristen Ashley
Series: Colorado Mountain, Book 1
Release Date: April 18th, 2011
Format: Audiobook (25 hours, 16 mins); Kindle Edition: 679 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Synopsis: Love is the greatest gamble of all…

Nina Sheridan desperately needs a timeout vacation. With a fiancé who can’t even remember how she takes her coffee, Nina wants some distance to rethink her engagement. Flying halfway around the world from England to a mountain town in Colorado should do the trick. But when she finds a gorgeous man at her rental cabin, Nina’s cold, lonely adventure suddenly heats up.

The owner of the house, Holden “Max” Maxwell is surprised by the beautiful woman who turns up at his door. But when Nina becomes ill, Max spends days nursing her back to health. A private man with a broken heart, Max finds himself drawn to the strong-willed woman. Soon it becomes impossible for Nina and Max to deny their growing attraction to one another. Yet even as these two wounded lovebirds think about taking a chance on a relationship, a dangerous secret from Max’s past emerges-and threatens to end their love for good.

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Enjoyment: ♥♥♥
Narration by Emma Scott: ♥♥♥½
Plot: ♥♥♥½
Writing: ♥♥♥
MY REVIEW:
I would have rated this book a little higher if it wasn’t so long…unnecessarily long. I felt every minute of twenty five hours and sixteen minutes. It ended so many times before it actually ended. It was like 3 books in one. I liked it but I was just exhausted by it all.

Unlike most of KA’s heroines, I actually liked Nina and she was a character that grew as a person, woman, friend and lover as the story developed. She was a pushover in the beginning, the norm for KA heroines that I’ve read, but her journey to reassess her engagement expanded her horizons. Nina went to a Colorado Inn for a vacation as she pondered her romantic relationship which wasn’t so romantic. She met the Inn Owner, Holden “Max” Maxwell, who came off as an ornery guy, but clearly he was a nice guy since he took great care of a sick Nina without knowing who she was.
I’ll admit that they were good for each other because they challenged and frustrated each other but clearly were crazy about each other. It was angsty but not the kind of angst I typically enjoy. It was more like watching my grandma and elementary school bus driver when they were crushing on each other. Plus, Nina capitulated too easily and Holden was a bit bossy.

The story was interesting but I find her writing to be slow and formulaic if you have read one of her stories. My two favorite things in this book was the attention to family relation and community as the Kristen Ashley wove this tale around a small town in Colorado. Then the slow development of trust and love that took place in ONE WEEK.

That’s right, majority of this long drawn out romance, family drama, murder and mayhem took place in a couple of weeks. It was just a bit much for so-so enjoyment. I won’t rule out reading another Kristen Ashley book in the future, but it’s highly unlikely as I just don’t enjoy them enough for the length of her novels.

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