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Stephanie Tyler

REVIEW: In the Air Tonight by Stephanie Tyler

REVIEW: In the Air Tonight by Stephanie Tyler

Dear Ms. Tyler:

I choose this book because I like romantic suspense stories  with former special forces heroes (and heroines), I liked Hard to Hold, the first in your previous series, and this story featured a sister and BFF of an older brother romance.  The blurb alerted me to the fact that there was a supernatural element in the story and while that’s not a favorite trope of mine, I decided to wait and see.  Of all the things that bothered me about the book, the supernatural element was not one of them.

Into the Air Tonight stephanie tylerMace Stevens is a Delta Force operative who also runs a bar in upstate New York when he isn’t off saving the world.  (I found this to be implausible, but what do I know).  Mace’s crew was captured and tortured and one of its members, Gray, was killed.  His body is shipped back to his family where he is mourned by his father and stepsister, Paige Grayson.

Paige has a special ability that allows her to see a person’s thoughts, memories and emotions by touching them with her hands.  So of course, she goes into nursing because if one is haunted by one’s ability, you choose something that puts you in near constant contact with people who are in pain and suffering, correct?  But an incident at the hospital brings Paige unwanted publicity and the local newsrooms dig out her story of being the sister of a boy who shot up his high school and killed several classmates.  Paige has suffered from this ever since because she knew her brother, Jeffrey, was bad. She could sense it every time she touched him.  Jeffrey was in the psychiatric ward of a maximum state prison, but he’s still haunting her.

Paige decides to quit her job and seek out Mace to find out what really happened to her brother.  There are two competing stories going on in this book.  The first is a continuation of a previous storyline involving Mace Stevens’ Delta Force team that was captured and tortured.  One of the members is dead and another has amnesia.  Caleb can’t remember what happened to him and the implication is that he may have killed Gray.  Throughout the story, Caleb is interchanged with Cael.  I thought that this was an editing error because it just made no sense at all.  I was told later that it was a nickname.  Not once in the book, however, was it mentioned that Cael was a nickname for Caleb and why wouldn’t it be Cale v. Cael.  This was actually a big deal to me because I constantly was wondering if there was another person in the room.

But Mace’s were just beginning. He’d had the feeling in his gut all day, couldn’t shake it, had snapped at Caleb for no reason and now Keagen, the other bartender, was also giving him a wide berth.

Cael, not so much. He was used to Mace’s moods—even with Caleb’s memory loss, he seemed to understand instinctively that his friend was, and always had been, a moody bastard.

and

He didn’t wait for a response before he left, which was good, since Mace had frozen at Cael’s words, was still staring where the man had been standing, although Caleb was already long gone.

and

Caleb had been drugged simply by luck of the genetic draw. Reid had been down for the count and the three of them that were left—himself, Gray and Cael—were equally capable, but Caleb was broader, definitely the biggest of the men, and DMH had figured they needed brawn.

There just didn’t seem any rhyme or reason as to when they called him Cael or Caleb.  I think the constant switching between Caleb and Cale confused me because some of the writing was rough and I would spend a long time puzzling over the meaning of a sentence rather than being engrossed in the story.

Mace needed to keep busy—goddamned, mindnumbingly busy—contemplated going for a ride on the ATV, until the liquor truck came skidding up the road, toward the bar.

“You’re not okay, Mace, so don’t try to pretend with me,” she said simply.  Not unkindly, and it was all he could do not to tie her to his bed and not keep there until neither of them could see or walk.

But how am I supposed to pick it all apart?  How am I supposed to tell the difference between the men he’d been ordered to kill in the line of duty and the man he’s not?

When he pulled her hips out and spread her legs, she gripped the sides of the sink, harder than before.  When he sank his tongue deep inside of her, she felt as if she could rip it off the wall.

The second part of the story is the suspense plot in which random bad things are happening to Paige that can be traced back to her brother, Jeffrey.  Jeffrey is just a stock crazy, icky villain.  There is nothing in his past that made him bad and there is no exploration of the childhood that Paige and Jeffrey shared to see why one kid turned out wonderful (and gifted) and the other didn’t.  Given that Paige had a supernatural gift, it seemed odd that this was not explored.

The emotional arc of the characters seemed to go from A to Z with no discernable path in the middle.  For much of the first part of the book, Mace and Paige are at odds and then suddenly, they give in to their passion and start copulating.  I guess I was supposed to find that the lust was too great for them to overcome but why at the particular time? Why not when she first comes to find Mace?  When does Mace go from the solitary independent man to not being able to breath without being physically attached to Paige and vice versa?

Paige’s gift is inconsistent, although no reason is given for this. The inconsistency is convenient, sometimes she can see whole swaths of a person’s past, but when it comes to Caleb/Cael, she only gets feelings but later she’s able to watch nearly every memory of Mace’s, practically experiencing his entire life through her hands.

Finally, I was frustrated when all  these random guys began showing up. I kept wondering a) why are they here and b) more importantly, where the heck are they all going to sleep?  How do they all fit into that tiny house? I felt like it was such an obvious ploy to say “see, look how many sexy guys I will write about in the future” but I wasn’t intrigued but irritated.  It’s possible that part of my problem had to do with jumping into a series at midpoint but you can’t blame everything on that.  D

Best regards,

Jane

P.S. I know that the commenters will say “where is the editor or copyeditor” but one thing I learned from publishing folks is that if an author is very late with her work or if she is not a very clean writer in the first place, these things are not always in control of the editor or copyeditor. I don’t know who is to blame, I only know that it was distracting.

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REVIEW: Too Hot to Hold by Stephanie Tyler

REVIEW: Too Hot to Hold by Stephanie Tyler

Too Hot to HoldDear Ms. Tyler:

I was quite excited to read this book after finishing the first in the series. Perhaps I expected too much, but I was seriously deflated upon finishing Hard to Hold to the point that I doubt I will read the finale to this trilogy. What were excusable irritants in the first book overwhelmed this story from the confusing sentence structure to the inclusion of too many characters and lack of attention paid to the main protagonists.

As the description says, “Nick Devane’s life is one big, classified secret.” It’s a secret of his own making. Nick is the lost heir of a Kennedy-esque family whom he decided to abandon when he was a teen. He was taken in by another family and the three boys form the basis of this trilogy.

The heroine, Kylee Smith, is a journalist but she’s really only a journalist when it fits the story because most of the time we see Kylee stealing cars, undoing her pants or running around Africa at the direction of Nick. Kaylee was supposed to be a world class journalist but she read more like a National Enquirer writer as many of her stories were about a missing heir of a well known family (aka Nick). But Smith being a journalist provides insta-conflict for a man whose life is built on secrets.

Kaylee finds Nick because he is on a list of men who her now dead ex husband had helped and now she wants Nick’s help.   Someone is calling her asking her to come to Africa with money. It sounds like her supposed dead husband.   Nick’s a SEAL and orders come down for him to keep watch over her.   The story treats Nick’s SEAL team as if they are a private security group that isn’t answerable to anyone.   But what’s realism in a story like this, right?

A major problem I had with the story involving Nick and Kylee was that Nick had issues with physical contact with others due, in part, to his not having been held as a child (I believe). Supposedly being touched triggers the fight or flight response although which response was triggered is never articulated, just that he has the response which he needs to “bite back”. Further, this fight or flight response does not inhibit his ability to have sex with several women at five hours or more at a time, just his ability to sleep with them (because being unconscious next to someone will trigger fight/flight?)    or have non sexual contact with them. And, of course, his flight/fight stimuli is suppressed when he is near Kaylee.

The matching is forced as well. Nick had a troubled childhood which included stealing cars. Guess what? Kaylee had a troubled childhood that included stealing cars. Nick has a secret life and Kaylee has a secret life. Together these crazy kids who enjoyed stealing cars as youngsters and have lots of secrets belong together, right? (The car scenes reminded me a lot of a Tara Janzen book).

The story takes us back to Africa but for what reason, I’m not entirely sure. At least the excuse given didn’t seem very plausible or reasonable, but it allows for a romance that was started in the first book to take center stage and come to a somewhat satisfactory conclusion. If that weren’t enough, we get yet another setup for yet another romance (that makes three if you are keeping count) with Nick’s adopted brother and a rogue FBI agent.

I also felt like this story was written with the assumption that the reader could make leaps as the characters’ internal dialogue jumped from place to place. At one point in the book, the two are making out in a Porsche:

"I’m not ready to go inside yet-’I like being here, inside this car with you. Inside means serious business, more talking and what-ifs. But here, against the leather, sitting close to you, nothing’s a problem." Her fingers stroked the soft upholstery on the seat on either side of her thighs-’her hair was loose around her shoulders and her cheeks slightly flushed. She looked vulnerable and hot at the same time and when she tugged at his arm he knew what she wanted. What he wanted.

Yeah, the headers in this car tended to do that easily enough thanks to the vibrations they created.

I get that the vibrations of the car are turning the two of them on, but that’s not what those two sentences exactly convey. The headers in the car do what? Know what the two of them want? Make her hot and vulnerable at the same time? Another passage that had me scratching my head:

"Car," Sarah called. It was moving down the rutted road slowly, and Nick lowered Kaylee to the ground as Sarah ran into the middle of the road by herself as if she was all alone-’a woman in distress.

"She’s not going to kill the passenger, is she?" Kaylee whispered to him. He didn’t answer, because the answer would surely be: yes, if necessary.

"Nick, please, tell me she’s not going to do that."

There was no gunshot, only Clutch urging him and Kaylee to walk farther along the road, under the cover of the brush as Sarah walked away. "I’m not telling you anything, Kaylee. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s better that way. We need to get you to safety."

She folded her arms tightly to her chest as she began to walk again, in front of Nick this time and out to the road from where Sarah called to them.

There was no sign of the driver and Sarah didn’t say anything but "Get in" as they approached the old car.

Why was Kaylee not worried about the driver initially? Why does she worry that Sarah is going to hurt the passenger? Where’s the continuity? There were about 8 places in the book that had baffling passages not including the number of references to fight/flight that I did not fully comprehend.

So little time is spent developing Nick and Kaylee as characters or developing their relationship together. Instead the story is full of extraneous and uninteresting romances and an action plot that borders on the ridiculous. D

Best regards

Jane

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This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free.