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Jennifer LaBrecque

REVIEW:  Northern Rebel by Jennifer LaBrecque

REVIEW: Northern Rebel by Jennifer LaBrecque

Dear Ms. LaBrecque:

On the first page days, people always complain about books not starting in the right place and I felt that way about this book. Chapter one could have been told to us in two sentence. “Delphi Reynolds lost the best job she had ever had when her piece of shit boss came on to her. Now she’s in BFE Alaska with a no man vow.”

Northern Rebel / Daring in the Dark (Harlequin Blaze Series #748)      by     Jennifer LaBrecqueInstead, we begin with an entire chapter where Delphi is completely crushed to find out that the nice young doctor she works for wants Delphi to be his mistress When she refuses, he fires her and she is blackballed within the medical community by his overweight socialite wife. Delphi is stunned by her failure to read the situation correctly and I’m distressed by the vaudeville like dialogue from the young doctor. “He shrugged. “What’s the big deal?” An arrogant smugness settled on his face. “All powerful men have a mistress—it’s part of the personality of leaders, men of importance. Macy knows she’s lucky to have me.”

Second chapter fast forwards us six months whereupon our intrepid heroine moves to Alaska because that is the only job she can get. Anywhere. Unfortunately her vow to stay away from men is tested by hottie Lars Reinhardt, a demolitions expert.  Lars tells us he doesn’t believe in marriage but upon seeing Delphi in the plane, his man parts are awakened. A few chapters and about ten dialogue exchanges later, Lars is beginning to wonder if Daphne is the one. I guess, primarily, because she resists him.

The fatigue he’d felt trudging through yet another airport fell off of him like an old shirt. Her “no trespassing” body language acted like a red flag being waved at a bull.

While I appreciate making a character’s career part of his or her personality, wouldn’t it be better to show the demolitions expert as patient, careful, not prone to taking huge chances, carefully analyzing the situation, acting calmly in face of stressful conditions? Nah, let’s go with the puns.

She’d almost detonated. He’d almost set her off….She was the undetonated device who silently dared him to approach at his own risk.

There are a lot of throwaway details in the book from the doctor’s wife who is described as overweight to the multitude of characters that have almost nothing to do with either of the main characters. There is a secondary romance between Natalie, the ex-wife of Lars’ twin brother, and Dirk, Liam and Lars’ cousin. This could have been fascinating and challenging because Dirk had loved Natalie all his life but never made any move on her which resulted in her marrying, but then divorcing, his cousin. Instead, this romance is as banal as the banter between Lars and Delphi:

Lars turned, a decidedly wicked grin quirking his lips. “Blondie, make no mistake about it. I will definitely catch you later. But I always practice catch and release.”
“But what if I don’t want to be caught?”
He laughed. “What if you don’t want to be released?”
Arrogant. “I can’t imagine that particular scenario.”

At one point, a secondary character summarizes her romance which I felt was basically the romantic arc of this story as well:

Skye plugged in an electric kettle for tea.

“He’s a thorough pain sometimes,” Skye said, while her indulgent smile and sparkling eyes proclaimed her thoroughly smitten, “but he is wonderful. I thought he was the most obnoxious man on the planet when I first met him.”

“How’s that?” Lars again popped into the front of her mind, which made him doubly annoying—she couldn’t totally put him out of her mind.

“Green tea?”

“Sounds good to me.”

“He was arrogant,” Skye continued as she prepared the cups, “and bold, and personal boundaries…forget it.” Yes, yes and yes. Skye smiled. “And too sexy for words.”

I didn’t read the second book as it didn’t interest me. C-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: High Octane by Lisa Renee Jones & In the Line of Fire by Jennifer LaBrecque

REVIEW: High Octane by Lisa Renee Jones & In the Line...

High Octane by Lisa Renee Jones.   Both the characters in this book were likeable but I felt like a) they fell in love too fast and b) the heroine’s personal struggle lacked any believability and c) there were too many conflicts for the space.

high octane lisa renee jonesConflict 1: Sabrina Cameron was a political reporter with a dedicated following but when her Senator father decides to make a run for President, Sabrina leaves her post and moves Austin, changing her name and taking a job at a paper doing fluff pieces.   Her boss, Frank, however, wants Sabrina to investigate a story involving the mayor and the death of a recently returned soldier.

Conflict 2: Sabrina is a control freak to the point that she won’t let anyone else drive her car.   (I don’t know that is really such a control freak thing but whatever). Her friend encourages her to skydive which will allow her to give up some control.

Conflict 3:   Ryan “Cowboy” Walker has left the Army because he felt betrayed by the higher ups.

Conflict 4: Ryan’s only home has been the Army.   He’s looking to put down roots.

Conflict 5:   Ryan can’t commit to buying a home, even though he’s purportedly looking to put down roots.

Conflict 6:   Ryan is attracted to Sabrina but she’s obviously only hiding out here for short time.

Conflict 7:   Sabrina is receiving threatening mail packages.

Conflict 8:   Sabrina feels pressure by her parents to be the “good” daughter.

Conflict 9: Sabrina is tired of always being on the look out for press who might record a misstep.

Strangely, for all of Sabrina’s desire to be anonymous, everyone in the story knew of her real name and her background.   Despite being a savvy political reporter with an avid following, Ryan is the one who lays down the law to a person who wants to benefit from Sabrina’s political savvy.

I think if the story had focused on just a couple of things like Sabrina’s desire for control and Ryan’s ability to make her feel safe even when she ceded control to him, particularly in the bedroom, it would have worked so much better.   However, all the different conflicts that were going on were never fully developed.   C-

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In the Line of Fire by Jennifer LaBrecque. This story opens at the scene of a wedding.   The bride to be (aka our heroine) looks out the window and sees her high school crush and decides she can’t go through with the wedding. Instead of putting on her big girl panties and facing the music, she crawls out the window.   Maybe it was cute when Julia Roberts did it in Runaway Bride, but I felt like the heroine was being very selfish and cavalier.

Quite frankly, he would’ve never imagined her leaving a groom, several hundred guests, and, most importantly, her mother. “Let me remind you, you did just climb out of a bathroom window to get out of marrying him.”

“Hel-lo. That’s because he’s boring and I don’t love him. Everyone kept telling me what a great couple we made and what a great catch he was and I bought into it.”

And poor Blanton, the jilted groom, is eviscerated as the book continues by the heroine’s mother and hero’s mother who both talk about how spending time with Blanton is like “watching paint dry” and how listening to him puts them to sleep.   This guy was stood up at the altar and his crime is that some women think he is boring?   The attempt to justify the heroine’s wrongdoing by maligning the character of the person she stood up came off as distasteful and unlikeable.   Later, Blanton is depicted as crass, spiteful and insensitive, but even that portrayal was cartoonish and obviously a poor attempt, again, to justify Andi’s actions without her having to a) feel remorse or b) grow from it. (In fact when Blanton said he was going on the honeymoon with Andi’s maid of honor, I was thinking “good for you Blanton”).

Even if the hero was a decent guy (and he was), he certainly didn’t deserve Andi who was a petulant spoiled ass.   I am not sure whether my dislike for Andi tainted my view of the entire story, but I felt it was all superficial.   We are treated to scenes of Andi and Colton, the hero, eating breakfast and engaging in fun chitchat with the waitress, Andi and Colton shopping, Andi and Colton kissing in the car.   I think I was supposed to be charmed by the southern cuteness of the story but the setting required better characters for me to be amused by caricatures as characters.     The plot arc had nothing to do with Andi abandoning her obligations without compunction but rather Colton overcoming his belief he couldn’t fall in love with his best friend’s sister and Andi convincing him it was the right thing to do.   D

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