Review: Counterfeits by Kris Bock

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Rating: Yay!

It’s been a while since I jumped into a Romantic Suspense novel, and previously it’s been difficult for me to enjoy the genre. So, when this book hit the inbox I had to give it a chance.

I won’t rehash back cover blurb, but I will say I enjoyed the backdrop of New Mexico, the plethora of secondary characters that are fleshed out, and the villains. Bock does an excellent job of creating characters to root for and ones to despise.  Each person is unique and rich in history and details, as well as goals and motivations.

The hero is not a rich man, but he’s a good man, willing to do whatever he has to in order to protect those he loves. I’m impressed by the author taking risks with a hero who’s not a billionaire or traditional bad boy. Instead he’s the guy with a mysterious past, but who’s changed his life for the better over the years. The risks pay off and I really enjoyed Rob.

My only hesitance is toward the heroine, Jenny. At times I felt her character waffled and appeared less intelligent in some parts of the book, only to appear super intelligent in other portions. These challenges made it hard for me to get behind Jenny or connect with her in the way I wanted to. Yet, she pulls through about halfway into the book and represents the type of person I believed her to be.

As for plot, Bock whips out a doozy. The twists and turns appear a little ruffled at the beginning, but everything comes together nicely and believable. Overall this first in a series is an enjoyable, fair-paced read. I look forward to more in this series. Heat level is closed bedroom door, but with plenty of first base action.

Buy Links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ AllRomanceebooks ~ Smashwords ~ iTunes ~ Kobo

About Author: Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoorAuthor Photo adventures and Southwestern landscapes. InCounterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico mountain town. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who stumbles on a murder victim in the woods. Whispers in the Dark involves archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins, and Rattled follows the hunt for a mythical treasure in the New Mexico desert.

Website

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Review: Beneath The Surface by Mike Martin

Rating: Maybe

Genre: Mystery

This is the third book in Martin’s, Winston Windflower mystery series. If you’re interested in what the Indies Gals had to say about the first book in this series the review is here.

The adventures of Windflower’s career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police continues with a murder and some questionable police activities. Our RCMP, has plenty of problems on his hands and finds himself not only wrapped up in a murder that becomes something much more, but assigned to a human trafficking task force. The mystery aspect snagged my attention real good, and I was anxious to figure out how everything tied together in the end. I have to say my detective skills are pretty good thanks to my healthy obsession with other mystery movies and books.

On the other side we get a continuation of Windflower’s love of food. I was treated to every dining experience the RCMP had during the course of the book and if anything this shows me the author has a similar love for cuisine and trying new things.

Finally props to Martin for giving us a Native American character who explores his roots. I found this part of the story fascinating as well and really enjoyed the diversity Windflower brings to the book. Not through descriptions of his skin, but through talking about his heritage and have an abiding love for it. If you’re a history fan, there’s plenty of Canadian/Native American discussion in this book, which makes me want to do some research of my own.

Now the part that makes this book a maybe. First, while I love the fact Windflower enjoys to experience the pleasures of eating, I tended to get jarred out of the story as Martin took me on a tour of every meal. I wanted the mystery, skip over the pleasant conversations and walks after dinner… give me intrigue and how Windflower is going to crack the case. Second, while Windflowers internal narrative is involved and I felt comfortable with him some of the secondary characters were a little wooden to me. Similar speaking habits, not a lot of diving into them outside of a love for food like our MC.

Overall, if you like mystery combined with a foodie adventure and a love for glorious settings then this would be the book for you.

Snag this Winston Windflower mystery at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Rogue Hunter Inquest

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: Yay!

Rogue Hunter InquestI snaked this book out from the other girls when it came in because I’ve been longing for a good sci-fi story. Sci-fi generally tends to fall into either the hard sci-fi, which also tend to be longer and slower, and space opera, which is almost always tends to be action adventure. Pew pew lasers!

I’m happy to say that Rogue Hunter Inquest falls into the latter. I love a good, deep book, but it’s been a sunny spring in Australia, and I don’t feel like anything too heavy. I just want a good story – and that is exactly what Inquest gives.

We follow bounty hunter Zyra Zanr on a planet that’s ruled by women and for women only (New Venus, if you’re curious). Any man who steps foot on it will die, without exception. And Zyra, who’s in love with a citizen on the planet, decides to risk a promised happy future with Mikaela because she’s wanted off planet, and no amount of hiding will save her from her debts. Granted, I felt like this was a little flimsy, mostly because I felt like there was a whole backstory here that could have helped me understand her train of thought better, I still could accept her reasoning.

The part I found hard to accept was the rest of her reasoning about why she was saving an all-around scumbag from death. It initially felt like she didn’t have a really logical reason, but as the situation unravelled, I felt it was better explained. I think a bit more headspace with Zyra would’ve cleared this up sooner. Part of this might also be because this is a reboot of a previous series. As a new reader, I don’t have an understanding of this world at all, and just a teensy bit more in terms of headspace would’ve given me a well-rounded story.

Still, this story promises one heady conflict, and it delivers. No one is in a position to full trust anyone else, and the execution is just an excuse to force to hand of – well, I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s say there’s a lot of subversive ploys. With a healthy dose of pew pew, my favourite type of sci-fi.

If you want a quick, fun read, I highly recommend this. The on-going series promises to be fun.

Inquest can be found at the following retailers:

Amazon

B&N.com

Kobo

Google Play

Smashwords

Review: The Girl

Apologies for being so late on this review. The week has been much less than kind, but that’s no excuse. Onward to the review.

Genre: Urban Fantasy with romance elements
Rating: Yay

When we got the email request to review this book, I jumped on the chance. Not because I loved the writing itself, but because I loved the dialogue that was in the sample. And the story sounded interesting. And thankfully, I was not wrong.

Blaylock’s dialogue is realistic and used in a good way to show and strengthen (or crush) relationships. The story revolves around a cast of characters, all of whom are influenced by the Sanctum in one way or another. Wyatt and Ryker, best friends and Sanctum elite are believable as best friends who have that bond of brotherhood. I think theirs is my favorite relationship, though admittedly my favorite character might be the southern vampire Darby, who is just full of win. She’s snarky and sarcastic and Blanche Devereaux as a vampire and I love her.

*Ahem*

The worldbuilding in this is really solid, too. She does well planting this Sanctum world inside our own while adding her own spin to everything, which plants New York, just for example, in a new light. Creatures like vampires and trolls are walking around freely, shielded by glamours.

One of the few drawbacks to this book is in the writing itself. Mostly, there are overused descriptors (such as Darby’s cold hands), and everyone is unspeakably beautiful. And we’re told that frequently. Sometimes it’s not that noticeable. Sometimes it was just irritating enough to almost throw me out of the narrative. Still, the story was interesting and kept my attention despite the shortcomings in the writing department.

All in all, The Girl is a pretty entertaining story that is worth a read.

The Girl is available at:

Amazon

Review: Star Winds At Dusk by Robert DeFrank

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Rating: Yay, with some caveats

First, let me say that DeFrank has descriptive writing chops. He weaves prose that can amaze and even mesmerize. I was impressed with the level of writing, and at how easily I could slip into this Lovecraftian universe he’s created.

Second, this is a book of short stories. The themes within and the underlying current lead the stories to have some effect on one another, but you can’t skip one in favor of another. In order to grasp the entire story I had to read everything. Characters pop up multiple times throughout, including an ever elusive and feisty feline.

Some parts of the tale were very reminiscent of Poe and King. A horror that seeped into my bones, and made it a bit difficult to continuing reading when the children went to bed and the majority of the lights were shut off. Though I didn’t stumble across graphic violence or horrific scenes, DeFrank offers a subtle horror, which permeates throughout the novel.

If you enjoy tales that spark the mind, dive into mythos off the beaten path, and contain Lovecraftian elements like the famed Cthulhu and other bits/pieces from Lovecrafts stories. In ways this is a decent homage to Lovecraft’s cosmos and tales and overall it’s a play on established mythos with new bits of horror and suspense that kept me engaged.

The big attention grabber is how the stories are connected. Descriptions of certain characters, names not quite revealed, had me guessing if the person was who I thought it was or a new piece of the puzzle. I can honestly say the ending surprised a bit and the horror element kept me from giving up before all the pieces fell into place.

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or if you enjoy Lovecraft this may be up your alley. If you’re a fan of linear story-telling with a chronological order or books that play the rules I would invite you to check out the posts for other books we’ve reviewed this month.

Get a copy of Star Winds at Dusk at:

Amazon

Review: Sorrows by Donna Fernstrom

Genre: Urban fiction

Rating: Yay

When Jayson Wallace is turned against his will, he’s taken in by a group of people, humans and vampires, known as a Law Enforcement Circle, where he somewhat learns the ins and outs of vampirism. Jay needs to testify in a trial against his sire, Malachi, who’s basically committed every crime known to man.

Throughout the novel, which covers probably a few weeks of time at the most, Jay is incredibly unsure of himself. Prone to depressive fits and often questions himself. Admittedly, it’s sometimes difficult to like Jay, but for his faults, the characters around him tend to make up for it.

My favorite was the rael-shaa character, Ryan. Rael-shaas are a kind of shape-shifter that can shift from human to wolf, and they often work with the Law Enforcement Circles. Ryan is adorable. He’s bouncy and kind and becomes Jay’s best friend, so we get to see him often.

The story itself is a good story. There’s great worldbuilding elements, including quantum realities (think alternate realities), and travel through those realities. At one point, one of the characters, Nick, takes Jay to a different quantum reality where no humans ever existed. The ideas are pretty neat.

Jay’s self-pity and depressive episodes do tend to drag down the pacing a bit, but overall the story is good, cohesive, and peppered with fun characters.

 

Sorrows is available at the following:

Buy on Lulu (hardcover): http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-fernstrom/sorrows/hardcover/product-21150229.html

Buy on Lulu (pdf): http://www.lulu.com/shop/donna-fernstrom/sorrows-pdf/ebook/product-21156643.html

 

 

Review: Prudence and the Professor – Mari’s Take

 

Genre: Historical Steampunk Romance

Rating: Yay!

 

Ho boy, this book. I am practically wiggling in my seat about this one.

Prudence for print -with trim -300 dpi -CMYK The story is SUCH a delicious mix of romance and steampunk set in the Civil War era. Determined to carve a life out for herself after being tragically widowed by the war, Prudence takes a job in remote Montana for Professor Gerritt Rhinehart. Gerritt is a smartypants inventor whose ideas might turn the war in the North’s favor.

Prudence was such a great lead character. Smart and strong, but thankfully lacking the bullheadedness that leads to certain trouble. I always wonder how such smart women in romances can make so many dumb moves, and I am extremely happy to say none of that happened here.

The interplay between Prudence and Gerritt is both sweet and sultry. There were a few times where I would have liked some more indepth interplay, as I felt there was rehashing without new territory covered, but overall it wasn’t extensive enough to really bother me.

A cast of sidekicks keeps the story rolling. Hands down favorite was Alma, the smart-mouthed cook Gerritt employs, and who feels it’s completely appropriate to offer sexual advice to Prudence. I laughed so much when she was about.

Gerritt, by contrast, is both smart and sexy, and I really enjoyed having a bookishly smart man as the main love interest. Not every man needs to be some war chieftain carrying off his woman. Because of his smarts and apparently delicious bum –ahem!- I found myself wishing for so much more time in his head because it was so enjoyable.

Overall, this romance is a sweet, enjoyable twist on western romances, with the goody goodies, the bad baddies, and of course, nifty devices. A wonderful fast read perfect for an afternoon where you just want a good story.

 

Sibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award-winning romance author Deborah Schneider. As Deborah she writes Western and Americana romance novels. As Sibelle Stone she writes historical romance with paranormal elements (things like magic, witches and evil Druids), and steampunk with incredible machines. It’s the same person, but with two different sides.
Both Sibelle and Deborah reside in a small town near the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Deborah is employed by one of the busiest libraries in the country in a job that involves arranging programs with authors, storytellers, musicians, dancers and jugglers. Deborah received the Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year Award in 2009.
Visit Sibelle at www.sibellestone.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter
Prudence and the Professor can be found at:

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