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Dee Tenorio

REVIEW:  Trust in Me by Dee Tenorio

REVIEW: Trust in Me by Dee Tenorio

Dear Ms. Tenorio:

This book features the eldest Jackman sibling, Locke. He’s held his family together after the death of his parents and raised five brothers and one sister. In the past year, all of them have moved and now Locke is alone. Many of the townspeople believe that Locke will do a runner but in reality, he is lonely. His big house is empty. His dinner time has no companions. The house is too quiet.

Trust in Me Dee TenorioWhat Locke would really like is to bring Susie Packard home with him. He’s been watching her since she showed up in town two years ago but Susie has been resistant. While Susie has feelings for Locke, she’s also a victim of past abuse. Her conflicted emotions are wearing her down physically and the situation is not alleviated when her past starts catching up with her.

Locke is an adorable hero, all gruff and protective. He wants Susie and is willing to fight both her fears and her past to make sure they can be together. Susie has a lot of baggage and to some degree that past baggage limited the way in which she appeared in the story. In the previous book, Susie is a sassy, fearless, seemingly sexually confident woman. In this story she takes on the more traditional mien of the wounded heroine which may be expected given the circumstances but was a tiny bit disappointing. She still gets off a few priceless lines.

The story delivers a strong, caretaker alpha who wants nothing more than to marry the woman he loves and make her happy. Every action in this book by Locke is to further that end. In order to provide momentum and conflict in the story, then, Susie has to be the one to put up barriers and to fear the commitment. It’s hard to deliver on that for the reader even when we are given the details of Susie’s past. All we see is Locke being gentle, understanding, kind, and fiercely in love with Susie. And that’s a really great part of the story.

For a time there, it is hard to understand what exactly is providing the conflict in the story. Susie’s just as hot for Locke as he is for her and there are many scenes in which we get to see the physical manifestation of their mutual want. While those scenes were very sexy, I spent some time wondering where I was going emotionally in the story. Susie and Locke’s emotional issues seemed a bit too manufactured. Intellectually I understood. Locke was afraid Susie would leave him and that made him want to hold her even tighter. But given that he knew or feared that holder her tighter would cause her to flee sooner, he tried to keep his possessiveness on the down low, hoping that Susie wouldn’t awaken to the fact that he’d kept her with him until they were twenty years into their relationship.

Intellectually I understood that Susie’s past would make her wary of a man as big as Locke and as dominating as Locke but even she consistently acknowledges that Locke would never hurt her; that he’s different from every man she’s encountered in the past; that every thing about him screams steady, kind, generous. At times, I had to tell myself that there was tension even if I didn’t feel it on the page. Even the issue of Susie’s pregnancy doesn’t provide any kind of sense of uncertainty because it’s a romance book so despite her past problematic pregnancies, we all know this one will turn out just right because Locke’s sperm is magical romance hero sperm. It’s possible that danger from Susie’s past is inserted late to create suspense and danger in the place of the lack of internal emotional tension.

If you like the caretaker alpha hero and can get past the manufactured tension, this is a sweet and sexy read. In other words, read it for Locke. C+

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  The Virgin’s Revenge by Dee Tenorio

REVIEW: The Virgin’s Revenge by Dee Tenorio

Dear Ms. Tenorio:

Thank you for sending your book for review. I liked the premise and the story had a lot of promise. My struggle with understanding the hero’s motivations, however, diminished my overall appreciation for the story and the strongest character on the page wasn’t the hero, but the heroine’s older brother.

The Virgin's Revenge Dee TenorioAmanda Jackman has six overbearing brothers and she has felt like the direction of her life has been dictated by them. No man or boy in her hometown of Rancho Del Cielo has been brave enough to ask her out for fear of her brothers’ retribution. In a bid for independence, Amanda moves out of the family home and buys her own tiny house. This movement signals to Locke, her eldest brother, that Amanda must be ready to have her own family and he tells a family friend, Cole Engstrand that he has the green light to pursue and win Amanda.

Unfortunately, Amanda overhears this and her fragile self esteem is crushed. She’s always had a thing for Cole yet he’s never returned her interest. Hearing him and her brother Locke engage in a some kind of medieval transaction that would see her married off is hurtful and frustrating. Amanda decides that part of her emancipation will include the seduction of Cole.

Cole Engstrom was taken up by the Jackman brothers in high school. He had a terrible home life and his parents’ unhappy marriage sours him on the happy ever after thing. He’s always been attracted to Amanda but he values her friendship and the friendship he has with her brothers. When Amanda starts her seduction attempts, he’s aroused and interested but afraid of going too far. Further, he is a little perturbed that Amanda is going to seduce and abandon him – something he learns through eavesdropping.

What I struggled with was Cole’s resistance to Amanda’s seduction which seemed an attempt to simply draw out the sexual tension. Cole wasn’t going to sleep with her, but he’d help her feel sexy and attractive by fooling around or keeping her an everything but virgin. Amanda was going to seduce the pants off Cole, but never gives one thought to how to deal with the fallout of a failed sexual relationship.

The push/pull of their relationship often seemed disjointed. One scene would begin with Cole dreading being seen in the same restaurant as Amanda and the next scene would be Cole dragging Amanda in for a deep open mouthed tongue kiss in the middle of the restaurant. Cole’s purported friendship with the brothers seemed non existent during the book. His closest friend appeared to be Amanda.

The characters are cute and likeable but I didn’t understand them or the arc of the story. I loved the idea of Amanda bartering with people to learn tasks that would increase her independence from getting basic car maintenance lessons to learning how to fix a sink. But because the motivations, particularly of Cole never made any sense to me, the story dragged. While there was humor and sweetness and sexiness, it just didn’t come together for me. C

Best regards,

Jane

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