Book Review: Stark September by C.D. Bradley

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have added to my book boyfriend list! Owen Stark is HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

What an amazing start to a new trilogy by new author, C.D. Bradley. Stark September has characters that could walk off the page, a story that keeps you reading and sex scenes that had me pulling out the fan. Owen Stark and Kira Riley are well matched and the cast of secondary characters are interesting and as well fleshed out as the H/h.

Captain Kira Riley has reached her dream of becoming a physician and now she owes the Army time for their investment in her. She knows all about the Army having grown up an Army brat until the age of 12 when her father in Special Forces was killed. She wants to pay back the Army and get out with no attachments or complications.


Owen Stark has other plans the minute he sees Kira as he accidently knocks her down. Stark is a Special Forces sergeant who has used the past decade to become a member of a band of brothers he can always count on as he heals from a personal tragedy. Both have secrets that they are afraid to share, not to mention that fraternization is against military regulations, but they just can’t stay away from each other.

As Kira and Stark’s relationship grows, you learn about Kira’s sexual assault and stalking while in college and that Stark dealt with his personal pain in the Special Forces, but also in a BDSM club and at home with a housemate named Paige. I feel the author did an excellent job of growing this relationship and revealing their differences and the problems that popped up because of those differences. The sex scenes were never gratuitous, but were perfectly suited to the growing romance and Kira’s sexual experimentation. Be warned that there is some BDSM and spanking in this book.

I cannot recommend this forbidden love story enough. There are two small problems for me though. First, Stark and Kira exchange one dog tag each. Although this is very romantic, it would never happen in the real military. Second, I wish the author would have wrapped up the suspense portion of this story in this book, while only leaving the romance open ended for the next book. Ms. Bradley’s writing is strong enough and her characters intriguing enough to carry me into her future books without the cliffhanger epilogue. That said, I still loved this book and am getting started on the next in this trilogy right away!

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

 

Book Review: Reservations by Gwen Florio

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I love the descriptive writing, plotting and characters of the Lola Wicks mystery series, but this fourth book emotionally wrecked me and yet I had to keep turning the pages and reading late into the night to the end. RESERVATIONS (Lola Wick, #4) by Gwen Florio deserves 5 BIG stars!

Lola hasn’t been the same since her last adventure. Charlie decides it is time to take a honeymoon and visit his brother, wife and niece on the Navaho reservation in Arizona. Charlie has a strained relationship with Edgar, but when they arrive there is an underlying tension in the entire family.

There is an eco-terrorist setting off bombs to try to get rid of the main employer, the coal mine on the reservation. The water and air on the mesa has become so polluted, people can no longer live there. Edgar is an executive for the mining company and his wife Naomi is an attorney for the Navaho and hates the mine, but wanted Edgar to work there so that they have inside information on the company. Naomi and Edgar are both Ivy League educated, but returned to help the People and they use this as a way to demean Charlie and Lola.

Lola begins to return to her hard-driving reporter mode as there is another bombing and death. The tension builds and as Charlie seems to side more with his brother and family than Lola, she does everything she can to figure out what is really happening on the reservation, even as the danger escalates for herself and family.

I was so wrapped up in this plot. It is intricate, fast paced and I did not figure out the whole picture on my own. The descriptions in the writing of the Arizona land, with its natural and deadly beauty take you there and make you feel every bit of the heat.

Lola is taken through extreme physical conditions in this story as well as emotional. If you are like me and have a personal stake in your favorite characters, get the tissues ready! This book is a great read on a mystery/thriller level and an emotional roller-coaster for one of my favorite characters. Excellent!

Thank you very much to Midnight Ink and Net Galley for allowing me to read a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure!

Book Review: Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

I started this suspense series, Midnight Exposure (Midnight, #1) by Melinda Leigh, because I really enjoy her Scarlet Falls series. (Check them out!)

Jayne Sullivan makes her money as a photographer and occasionally for the big money as a tabloid photographer. She is sent to Maine in December to find and photograph the reclusive sculptor R.S. Morgan. She hates being deceitful, but she needs the money to help her brothers with the family bar in Philly and medical bills for her youngest brother. She is glad to be away from Philly at the moment also, to get away from a stalker who attacked her and has gone to prison, but he is out and had promised to come for her again.

At the address her editor gave her she meets Reed Kimball. Reed had moved to Maine with his son after the death of his wife. He was a homicide detective in his old life, but now acts as a handyman around town and has a secret in his barn turned work shed out behind his home. He hides his true identity from all, but the police chief in town. Jayne does not know the connection between Reed and R.S. Morgan and before she can find out she is abducted. She escapes on her own in a blizzard. Reed finds her and takes her to his home.

Both Reed and Jayne are hiding secrets and motives, but they can’t help but continually be attracted to each other. As the sexual tension increases, so does the threat to Jayne from an unknown source which could prove to be deadly.

This was a fast paced and exciting read in the first chapter and then again after a few. I just felt it bogged down for a while after the first chapter. I also had a problem with how long it took Reed to tell Jayne about his past. He was reclusive over something that he was proved innocent of doing and after a new scandal comes along, I think the media would have left him and his son alone. He did not even stay in the same town, he moved far away.

The Celtic druid facts were interesting and so was the reason for the killings. I do not understand why the other family member was involved though. I do not understand how he could believe a madman. It was a stretch for me. That said, I still like Ms. Leigh’s writing style and will continue on with this series. Not a bad book, but just not my favorite by this author.

Book Review: Trust No One by Paul Cleave

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

TRUST NO ONE by Paul Cleave is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that has the reader and the crime writer narrator continually trying to decide what is reality and what is fiction.
Jerry Grey is a fictional crime writer who uses the pseudonym of Henry Cutter for his novels and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 49. He begins to keep a “Madness Journal” to follow his progression into Alzheimer’s, but he still is not sure if he can trust what seems real or what are remembered parts of his works of fiction caused by his disease. He confesses to crimes he has written about in his published novels to the police. At first, no one believes his confessions that they perceive to be caused by the dementia progressing in his mind, but dead bodies are turning up and the evidence is mounting against him.

Paul Cleave has written a thriller that makes you question everything you read and question all the characters’ motives. You cannot make any conclusions due to the unreliability of the protagonist as storyteller and yet the plot progresses forward at a faster and faster pace. Every scene and character are important. If you love this book as much as I did, wait until you read the ending. I believe it is perfect for the story, but your emotions are going to be all over the place and it can be debated endlessly. Fantastic book!

Book Review: Serenity Stalked by Craig A. Hart

serenity stalked

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Another fast paced thriller featuring Shelby Alexander from Craig A. Hart. Yes, please!

SERENITY STALKED (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 2) has everything you want in an action packed, short, intense and tightly plotted thriller. In this second book, a serial killer has made his way to small town Serenity to make an anonymous kill and move on, until he sees Carly.

Shelby’s girlfriend, Carly asks him to deliver a message to an ex-boyfriend to quit texting her. The message is delivered, but then the ex-boyfriend, his wife and baby are all found murdered the next day. Shelby is seen leaving the home and an anonymous caller tells Sheriff Wilkes he can find the knife that killed them in Shelby’s storage shed. Since no love is lost between these two, Wilkes is ready to lock Shelby up.

True crime writer, Quinn Edwards warns Shelby of his impending arrest and tells him to get lost and she will help with the case. Believe her or not, Shelby goes, but Carly won’t leave with him and this is just what the killer is waiting for.

This is a quick read that you will want to finish in one sitting. As with Mr. Hart’s first Shelby book, all of the characters are fully fleshed. Shelby is a great lead character with wisdom, strength he has realized is changing with his age and his own moral code. I am looking forward to many more adventures featuring Shelby.

Book Review: Adrift by Micki Browning

adrift

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Well, another new author has me hooked by her debut mystery for her series.

ADRIFT (A Mer Cavalllo Mystery #1) by Micki Browning features Dr. Meredith “Mer” Cavallo, a marine biologist, currently working as a safety dive master in the Florida Keys as she waits for a funded research position. On a normal afternoon tourist group dive, Mer rescues a man five miles from the boat he came out on, who swears he doesn’t know how he got there and he saw a ghost on the wreck of the USS Spiegel Grove.

Mer needs money and is financially bribed into a night dive with a paranormal group filming a documentary trying to prove the existence of the ghost on the USS Spiegel Grove. The dive goes terribly wrong and Mer stands to lose all of her scientific credibility because she believes she saw a ghost as she tries to save one diver while she loses another. The police are suspicious of Mer because she was involved in both incidents surrounding the wreck and she knows she has to clear her name if she is to have a chance to return to academia and she refuses to believe in ghosts.

This story has mystery, suspense, surprising plot twists and a great lead character.  Ms. Browning leads you down one path, only to twist and turn you onto another, always with facts and logic. I have never been to The Keys or been diving and yet I was never bored or lost as the logistics and technical elements were woven into the story. Mer is a character that at first was a little too cold for me, but as I got to know her through a past love interest (who is going to be an interesting story himself), her brothers and mother, you realize that she isn’t really cold, just intellectually brilliant and socially inept, similar to Dr. Brennan from the Bones series. I am now hooked and need to know what path Mer will follow in the future. Hopefully the next book will be out soon!

Thanks so much to Random House Publishing Group-Alibi and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Looking forward to more in this series.