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Susan Fanetti

REVIEW:  Into the Storm (Signal Bend #3) by Susan Fanetti

REVIEW: Into the Storm (Signal Bend #3) by Susan Fanetti

ITS

Dear Ms. Fanetti:

I read and really enjoyed the first in the Signal Bend series, Move the Sun. The second entry, Behold the Stars, which Jane reviewed, I could barely finish, it was so violent. So I bought this book with some trepidation, but with the hope that your voice, which worked so well for me in Move the Sun, would work again for me. I was pleased to find that for the most part, this was the case.

Signal Bend, IN is in recovery from a war. The Night Horde MC, which runs the town, took on a drug kingpin in the last book and won, but not without horrifying collateral damage to the town and even more, to the townsfolk. Showdown Ryan suffered some of the worst losses. His oldest daughter, Daisy, was killed and his wife packed up their two younger girls and took off. Showdown takes all of the blame for the losses. He knows that as the #2 in the Night Horde, his family was a target and they paid the ultimate price for it. He is empty, he is barely putting one foot in front of the other and more than once has considered ending it all. He can’t bear to go back to the home where his family was attacked, and has been existing at the Night Horde’s keep.

Shannon Bannerman has been hired to run the Keller Bed and Breakfast, a new venture owned by the President of the Night Horde’s wife (and protagonist in books 1 & 2), Lilli. Shannon came to Signal Bend from the big city, which makes her a curiosity for the people of Signal Bend. She is extremely over qualified for the job, but also wants it desperately. It seems clear to the reader from the start that she is running from something. Shannon is very attracted to Showdown, but knows his story. She knows that it’s incredibly unlikely that he’d ever have any interest in here. Despite that, when the opportunity presents itself, Shannon lets Showdown know she’s attracted.

“What is your problem?”

At Shannon’s sharp question he turned to see her standing there, holding her arms across her body against the chill. The stance made her cleavage even more distracting.

“What?” He tossed his butt to the ground.

She took a couple of steps closer. He could reach out and touch her if he wanted, run his finger down the cleft between her breasts. He clenched his fists.

“You have to know I’m interested. You act like you have some kind of claim or responsibility or I don’t know what. But then you ignore me – or you don’t, and you say what you said in there. What the hell is your problem?”

“No problem. Just not interested.”

Her brow creased at that, and her eyes narrowed. Then she surprised the shit out of him by taking the last step between them and grabbing his face in her hands. She leaned in and kissed him, her lips silky on his, her mouth open. She tasted of tequila. He felt her tongue tracing his lower lip. He hadn’t had a woman’s mouth – her tongue!- on his mouth in…Christ, five years? Since Holly would even let him kiss her like this? His cock turned to cast iron, heavy and hard, and it was all he could do not to grab her. But he didn’t. He didn’t grab her, or kiss her back. He sat there feeling shocked and tormented.

When she pulled away, she searched his eyes for a moment. Then, with a sad little twitch of her lip, she nodded. “Okay. Sorry.” She turned and went back into the clubhouse. – Kindle location 1222

Of course, he’s interested. And soon after, he makes a move. Showdown and Shannon’s love story develops at a very slow pace. He thinks he’s emotionally dead, but she offers herself to him, and the more he knows of her, the more not just his libido, but his emotional self awakens. He begins to see that he has things to live for.

There are things that I really enjoyed about this story. I thought that Showdown’s emotional growth, from angry, emotionally unavailable man to one who is able to love was credible. Given that I’d gotten to know him in the previous two books and certainly, read the horror of the last book, I was glad to see him find some happiness. Shannon was a bit harder for me to get a bead on. She has a secret, and is technically running, although you never made me invest in what she was running from. I think because you delayed too long in delivering the backstory on her. Her conflict seemed manufactured because it arrived so late in the story and you’d built little to no foundation for it. So I wasn’t invested at all in that aspect of the story’s resolution.

That being said, I read the book in one sitting, and enjoyed getting to see the characters in a situation that was much less horrifying than book 2. As in the previous books, the sex scenes are plentiful and hot. And in the end, I was glad for having spent time reading the book. My hope in reviewing this book is that those who were put off by the extremity of the last book will give your work another chance. Because I felt like this story had potential and delivered on a good portion of it. I’d definitely read more from you. Final grade: B-/C+

Kind regards,

Kati

 

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REVIEW:  Behold the Stars by Susan Fanetti

REVIEW: Behold the Stars by Susan Fanetti

Dear Ms. Fanetti:

Both Kati D and I enjoyed your first book and we recommended it to many other readers with the caveat that the motorcycle club featured in the book helps to traffic meth throughout the St. Louis pipeline. It’s not heroic behavior but given that we are reading about an outlaw motorcycle gang, I accepted this storyline.

Behold the Stars Susan FanettiOne of the great features of Move the Son was the female protagonist, Lillie Accardo. She falls in love with the president of a motorcycle club called the Night Horde, Isaac Lunden. Their romance is the very best thing about this story. Lillie’s struggle for independence while still being part of a couple is endearing. Isaac is completely gone over her and has no trouble admitting it.  But the romance is overshadowed by the suspense portion of the book. My issues with the book can be broken down into three broad categories. There is extreme violence toward women in this book; an excessive and unlikely romanticization of the MC; and finally Lillie’s agency often seems stripped from her.

Let’s start with the romanticization of the MC. In the beginning Lillie muses that this small band of men are actually more honorable than the ordinary citizen. No, sorry. A group that decides they will run a protection ring for meth producers aren’t really that honorable no matter that they are “face to face with real consequences.” The story is book-ended, open and close, with this idea that the MC is this really cool club filled with really awesome people not withstanding the lengths that they go to achieve their selfish ends which is to run their little club and keep their town alive. Further, the whole idea that all the Night Horde does is provide protection is disproved later in the book when Isaac says that they are going to bring all the cookers in to discuss new ways to make money. So they are producing meth and protecting it. I’m irritated that I have to read about how honorable and worthwhile it is because it really isn’t.

The first 40% of the book is set up as the “villain”, a big crime boss named Lawrence Ellis, tries to take over Isaac’s town. Lawrence is a villain only because he opposes Isaac’s Night Horde group and wants to take over the Midwest meth production and sales. I guess his ambition and the lengths that he will go to achieve that makes him villainous but unfortunately I felt the Night Horde was just as villainous.

As Ellis begins to put the squeeze on Isaac and his town, they are forced to fight back and the way in which they do this was hard to swallow. There was one scene in particular where I had to put down the book and I wondered if I would ever go back. I did return but was subjected to just more violence after that. Spoiler ahead

Spoiler (spoiler): Show

There are several women that are raped in the book including one fifteen year old who is literally raped to death. The MC figure out that there is a mole and it’s a woman. One of the members of the MC has loose lips during sex and has revealed a number of details to the young woman. So they torture her, prepare to rape her and then decide at the last minute to just chop off her head. With an ax. In front of her father via Skype. Isaac says that she deserves it but where her actions really any different than his?  She was helping her father preserve their lifestyle just like Isaac did all kinds of bad deeds in order to protect his.

The book ends with a “satisfactory” ending on the relationship front and from a romance standpoint, it had an interesting dynamic. Lillie was trying to cope with being part of Isaac’s life, both his business life with the MC and his personal life. She had been alone for a long time and adjusting to being part of a team was difficult.

The writing was good and that made the disturbing scenes all the more worse because I could visualize those things happening. As I said in the beginning, one of the primary problems I had with this book was the middle portion of the book where there seemed to be non stop violence. Several women were sexually violated and some in pretty graphic terms. Lillie took back a lot of the agency lost at the end but I was too sorrowful to enjoy it at that time.

I joked with KatiD that I felt like I suffered a mild case of PTSD after reading this book. It’s very grim and while there is a romance, I almost felt resentful reading about the hearts and flowers, particularly at the end. I don’t know if I came away with a feeling that they deserved it. From a purely technical standpoint, it was a gripping read for me although after a major scene I did lose interest. Both my stomach and my heart were impaired at that point.

Maybe read it as a horror book instead of a romance. It’s decently written. There’s a strong romance. Individually I liked Lillie but after the midway point in the book, I just couldn’t like Isaac enough. I just don’t think I can read romances like this. I can’t tell you how much I would’ve liked to recommend this book to readers. I told all kinds of people about Move the Sun but this one should come with a warning. Lots of warnings. C

Best regards,

Jane

If you have any triggers for violence against women or animals, I’d advise you to be careful if you choose to read it.

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