Review: Intrusion by Cynthia Justlin – Cate’s Take

Genre: Romantic thriller

Rating: YAY!

So…I *might* have read the entire book in a day.

Not just read, really. Devoured. Forsook eating (okay, put off eating, but read while I ate–same thing, right?). Took my Nook to the bathroom (sorry, TMI). Forgot to take the dogs out.

Yes. Intrusion is that good.

The book begins with Cameron Scott breaking into Nanodyne, a company that specializes in nanotechnology. We learn quickly that, while charming and full of bravado, Cam has a dark secret behind a nagging knee injury that flares at the worst possible times. His quick in-and-out testing of Nanodyne’s security system quickly goes south when he breaks into Dr. Audra McCain’s office. He catches a security guard downloading info from Audra’s computer and taking finger prints from her coffee mug and strands of hair from her hairbrush. Not long after the guard leaves, insomniac Audra enters, ready to put the finishing touches on an armor prototype that could save thousands of soldiers’ lives. When she and Cam meet for the first time, there’s an undeniable chemistry that sizzles between the two and hounds them for the rest of the book.

But when the prototype ends up missing, Audra is arrested. A quick diversion and abduction later, and she’s back with Cam, where she eventually realizes she belongs.

I. Love. This. Book. It quickly put me in the mind of movies like Mission Impossible and GoldenEye (of course, that could be due to the various mentions of Serbia), which is completely the opposite of a bad thing, as those are two of my all-time favorite movies. Both Cam and Audra are terrifically flawed–he being a perfectionist brought up by a hard-ass father, and she being abandoned at a young age. The two are wonderfully believable  and so is their romance. It’s not forced. Instead, it’s a tug-of-war between a man who wants nothing more than to be loved and a woman who would rather be eaten up by acid from the inside out than ever trust, let alone love, another human being. Their romance is organic and not cliched. Yes, there’s the undeniable lust and attraction in the beginning, but Cam wants more than Audra’s body; he wants a heart she’s unwilling to give.

The other reason I love this book is that there are explosions and danger and espionage and betrayal and unexpected double crossings and all the things I enjoy in my action-packed movies and books. Cam is two parts Bruce Willis with one part puppy dog and a sprinkle of Johnny Storm (from the Fantastic Four movies) thrown in for good measure. Audra reminds me a LOT of Natalya Simonova from GoldenEye. She’s not at all cut out for this kind of work, but dammit, she’s spunky and she gives it her best. And best of all, the villain isn’t A) clear-cut or B) cardboard. He has a POV as well, and the reader gets insight into his motives. In all honesty, if the book were rewritten from Ivan’s POV, he’d be a hell of an anti-hero.

The formatting in my edition was a little wonky, though, which made dialogue a challenge to read.  Other than that, though,  I’m hard-pressed to find a criticism for this book. What can I say? I’m a sucker for broken men.

If you’re looking for a well-written, thoughtful book filled with Hollywood-style thrill, fabulous tension, and rounded characters, this is for you. Even if you’re not, you should still check this one out.

This Week’s Read – Intrusion by Cynthia Justlin

Nanotechnologist Dr. Audra McCain has spent years hiding behind her research, shielding herself from hurt much like the dynamic armor prototype she’s worked so hard to build. When she is framed for its theft, she suddenly finds herself on the run with a man whose talent lies in hacking through the toughest of defenses.

Ever since a shattered knee ended his career in the Special Forces, Cameron Scott has felt like an intruder in his own life. Hiding his discontent behind a need-to-win mentality, he earns his living testing security systems by breaking them. When Nanodyne hires him to evaluate their system, Cam discovers someone has already breached the company at the highest level.

As Audra and Cam play cat and mouse with a ruthless thief out to use the prototype for his own sinister cause, they’ll have to break rules, violate security, and fight their growing attraction. But when love makes an unauthorized attack, Cam realizes he may have finally found the one firewall he can’t breach: Audra’s heart.

Intrusion was a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist.

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Review: Trueblood’s Plight – Cate’s Take

Rating: Yay

Thirty years after the fall of their home, Tesmar, the gryphons and giphens of Ava’s clan feel a shaky peace. Settled in the cliffs near the ocean, the clan subsists on scraps of fish caught by their human allies. It’s not the greatest situation, but at least they’re safe. Until a dark force threatens the clan and awakens in Ava a power she never knew.

One of the aspects of this fantasy that I enjoyed was the use of a different mythological creature. There’s little mention of dragons and elves and the like in the first book of Lark’s series (though I suspect we’ll see more of the elves in book 2). The gryphons and giphens (littler gryphons with awesome magic abilities) enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the humans in their company. And the antagonists, called the Endarkened, are gigantor lizard-creatures with a different form of magic from what Ava’s clan uses (the humans, as per usual, are without magic, but not without awesome physical abilities).

The world-building in Lark’s book is pretty darn good. There are brief moments where we get a glimpse of the races’ rich histories and how they overlap. There’s mention of treaties and alliances, but there’s not a lot of backstory, which is nice. One of Trueblood’s strengths is its ability to keep you in the moment. If anything, this might be one of those rare books where we get too little information. There are only a few spots (maybe two or three at the most) that feel a little info-dumpy.

One of my gripes with this little book is the language. For me, the dialogue kept this good book from being great. Awkward speech and weird contractions threw me a bit, and I had to re-read some dialogue a few times. There were also many instances of “talking heads” where I couldn’t keep up with who was saying what. Stylistically, it’s one of the things that makes me CRAZY.

A second gripe would be the multiple POVs in the book. I didn’t feel they were that necessary. If it’d been pared down to Ava’s POV and Kivra’s (Ava’s human best friend), the book would have been stronger in my opinion. In this instance, I didn’t think the reader needed to know what each side was thinking, but as it was, the book offers Ava’s, Kivra’s, Rafner’s (a giphen Elder), and Varrian’s (an enemy mage) points of view. For me, Varrian’s POV took away a lot of the tension. Especially since his wasn’t a consistent POV and seemed to be in there for the sake of relaying information.

All in all, Trueblood’s Plight is a delightful read for someone who wants a break from the dragons, elves, etc of high fantasy. Small nitpicks keep this book from landing on the absolute must-read of fantasy, but it’s still quite enjoyable.

This Week’s Read: Trueblood’s Plight by E.S. Lark

Thirty years have passed since the clan’s flight from Tesmar, their beloved gryphon city. Three decades spent searching for safer shores, a place to repopulate and for some, to bury the truth of an age-old prophecy.

Until now.
Ava always knew she was different, from her pale plumage to her silver eyes, but being a Trueblood—a giphen who can use all forms of magic—takes ‘special’ to a whole new level. With overprotective elders and the enemy advancing from the north, Ava struggles to balance her time on and off the battlefield.

But when numerous attempts are made on her life—an attack on the clan, a rift storm and a mage controlling the minds of her friends from afar—Ava fears there’s another just like her, weakened and magic starved,  who’ll stop at nothing to use her powers as his own. She’ll have to hone her skills and exhaust her reserves close to death if she’s to go against him, even if it means forming a dangerous alliance with her enemy.

The book is available in Kindle and paperback formats: