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REVIEW: Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Dear Ms. Rice:

Sometimes authors and readers have some kind of strange sychronicity where everything that author writes hits all the buttons of the reader and everyone else on the outside looks on in befuddled wonderment.  Objectively I can see that there are things that don’t work very well in this book. There is the excessive use of the unsexy word vagina.  It is often clenching.  There is the ever constant reminder that the previous couples in this Protector series are blissed out on happiness as if they are mainlining pixie dust every morning. There is the fact that monetarily everyone in this book is so rich and so talented and so beautiful that I was momentarily blinded by the bright shining light emitting from the ARC.  But my response is to run around with my fingers in my ears and repeating “la la la la I can’t hear you.”

nightfire by Lisa Marie RiceI received an arc of this book and gobbled it down the same night.  And the truth is, those issues aside, there is some great stuff going on in this book. Like the hero acknowledging being a manslut is actual NOT a thing of honor.  How many times is the manslut held up like some diety because he’s slept around so much that his dick has logged more miles the transatlantic frequent flyer?

Like scenes that are filled with real tension and suspense and enough armory that they could have been ripped from a Michael Bay movie.  And that’s a good thing because there is nothing worse than an action scene that is limper than a overripe head of lettuce laid out in the sun for three days.

Like the heroine being bad at everything from cooking to singing to keeping a house but being awesome in her own right in direct contrast to the previous two heroines (one of whom is amazing translator and so beautiful angels sing and the other who is an amazing singer and an amazing bookkeeper).

This is a story that is told in essentially three simple parts.  The first part is Mike and Chloe meeting and falling for each other.  This takes a day.  The second part is Mike and Chloe ripped apart because of something Mike does.  Kind of.  The third part is Chloe in danger and Mike riding to the rescue.  Cue sunset.

Mike Keillor is a manslut. He goes out to those bars where women go specifically for one night stands.   Even his friends refer to him as ” Mike, the man-slut. Mike, the man who’d nail anything that moved.”  This is recognized by everyone as a character flaw, something which results from Mike being broken.  While being a manslut doesn’t always arise from wanting to erase some terrible past, I really appreciated this type of portrayal which is unusual in the genre which generally elevates the man whores.

Mike’s most recent pick up is a mistake and in the midst of coitus, Mike realizes this. He is screwing a cokehead who wants him, no begs him, to beat the crap out of her.  His erection deflates and he can’t get out of the random apartment afterward.  A day later, he meets what will be the love of his life, Chloe.  All his mania subsides when he is near Chloe. Oh, except for his penis.

She rested against him and he wanted to keep her there forever, but when he felt himself harden, he moved away subtly, mentally rolling his eyes.

Goddamn. His dick had never known how to behave itself.

Oh man, way to turn this moment into something that belonged in the dives he frequented when he got his black moments.

He couldn’t really blame his dick, though. His dick was right to move. He felt it wasn’t getting erect so much as trying to get closer to her, close to all that silk and gold.

Chloe has a special connection to Mike’s foster brother, Harry, and because of that Harry exerts pressure on Mike to not sully Chloe with his brokenness.  I was a little surprised that Harry acted in this fashion because Harry himself had been broken but I also liked it because I felt like it added some grittiness to what had been a fairly sweet, maybe even saccharine, beginnning.  Even though Mike, Harry and Sam were close as brothers, Harry wasn’t going to stand with Mike, not this time.  I wasn’t sure whether Mike deserved it and thus the ambiguity of the situation added spice.

I also appreciated the soliloquy of Mike’s when he pushes Chloe away.  He tells himself it is because he is afraid he will hurt her but then recognizes that his refusal to extend himself emotionally isn’t because he is afraid that Chloe will be hurt, but really because he is afraid of being hurt. I loved this scene:

Right now he was sending her to his room without even a hug. And why? Because he was a coward.The whole hurting her thing was true but was also bullshit of the highest order.

He didn’t flail around while fucking. He didn’t bite or twist limbs. He could control himself enough not to physically hurt her. That was all a line of crap.

The truth was he was scared shitless. There was nothing here he even remotely recognized as familiar, except his hard-on. And even that felt somehow different. It wasn’t a normal hard-on, the kind he had when an available woman was around. No, it was a Chloe woodie, through and through. Impossible to deal with, impossible to get rid of.

Chloe Mason hadn’t had a great upbringing, something she lays out in great detail in chapter two of the book.  Abandoned and then adopted, raised by indifferent parents, then nearly raped by her adopted father, sent off to boarding school, and left alone in the world when her parents died, she comes to Mike Keillor’s business seeking out a connection.  When the connection is affirmed, Chloe finds herself drawn into the cocoon of protectiveness that is the RBK family – Mike, his brothers, their wives, and their daughters.

When Chloe inadvertently places the Russian mafia on her tail, Mike does everything he can to protect her, and this serves as the catalyst to finally bring them together.

The tension in the story is primarily external but much of the emotional drama comes from Mike’s point of view, particularly his own feelings of worth and sex.  Chloe’s position in the book is more static and less dramatic but that has often been true in LMR books.  And frankly, I read these books for the portrayal of the guys.  It’s not that the women are doormats and uninteresting but through the lens of the awestruck male, these women are perfect. What you are selling here, though, isn’t that the women are perfect but for this one man, this one woman is divine.  For Mike, Chloe is everything good and right in the world and luckily for him, the feeling is reciprocated.  The emotions of the characters are writ large.  Every feeling is the most heightened feeling. Every orgasm the most amazing ever felt.

Every sense she had was heightened, her entire body turning into one huge receptor. Absolutely every sensation her body was receiving was delectable, particularly the desire.

Oh my. She’d read about it, endlessly. Listened to friends talk about it, thought about it, but never understood it.

The entire book is written in this fashion such that while you are immersed within the story it all makes perfect sense.  Stepping back, it seems over the top, extreme, and flawed but inside the story, inside the world with Chloe and Mike and its oversized, exaggerated fun house mirrors?  It’s just right.  Grading this book is like an exercise in futility for me. I think from a technical aspect it is likely a C to a C+.  There were pacing problems, particularly at the beginning.  It seemed like it took 100 pages to get to any real conflict.  There was the love that blossomed, nearly knocking me off my metaphorical reading feet in its immediacy.   I wished I had seen more development of Chloe.  She was surprisingly well adjusted for all of her past traumas and her emotional movement could have been played up for greater conflict.  But I gobbled this book up like it was the first thing I had to eat after a four day fast.  We’ll compromise at the B-.

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Kaylea Cross
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 12:07:11

    Lisa Marie Rice’s voice is so addictive! I love her alpha male military heroes. Going to snap this one up myself.

  2. SonomaLass
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 12:31:15

    I love the phrase “a Chloe woodie.” A great description of that phenomenon, where a character with a lot of sexual experience recognizes that THIS ONE is somehow different.

  3. Mireya
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 12:58:22

    Lisa Marie Rice = *in Jan Luc Picard’s voice* Resistance is futile …

  4. Laura
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 13:21:05

    I’ve never read anything by this author before. Checking my library catalog now . . .

  5. Lisa J
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 14:04:06

    Lisa Marie Rice is like crack for me. I love her books, but I haven’t bought the last two because I’m all about e-books these days and they are $9.99. I have a couple of friends who also love her books and are e only and we are all holding out for lower prices before we buy. I really miss coupons/dicsounts on e-books.

  6. Dani Alexander
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 14:06:25

    This was definitely my favorite of your reviews, Jane. You had me lawling. Quit making me buy stories. Damn you! I’m supposed to be writing, not reading.

  7. Joanna Terrero
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 14:09:53

    Jane, you should warn us to put the beverages away from the keyboard, before start reading. I also get taken away from books when the word vagina is often used , but the word penis doesn’t have the same effect on me.

    Anyway, this is a great review, and I’m going to check this book out. Thanks for the recommendation.

    BTW, I love heroes’ POV.

  8. joanne
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:03:52

    I have no excuse. It’s probably inexcusable anyway but I’m a fan or this author’s work, particularly her over the top Alpha males.

    I just finished Pursuit, one of her Elizabeth Jennings book. I think I prefer her ‘less sex scene’ books like Pursuit.

  9. Danielle D
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 15:57:19

    I’m a big fan of Lisa Marie Rice and I enjoyed her Protector series. I even had tears in my eyes when Mike was telling Chloe what happened and why he was the person he was.

  10. Jane
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 16:00:05

    @joanne: I really like her E Jennings books as well. The last one had an almost fantasy feel for me in the setting and some of the super human aspects to it.

  11. Laurie Douglas
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 01:53:24

    I’ve been a LMR addict since her Ellora’s Cave years – I’m still in love with Douglas from Midnight Angel. -fanning face- There’s something about a well-done Beauty and the Beast story that gets me every time, and LMR excels at them. And yes, every one of her books includes that sense of sexual and emotional overdose, everything over the top, but in context with the stories, they are perfect. Yeah, auto-buy for me.

  12. eggs
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 03:45:38

    Lisa Marie Rice books are like a day at the State Fair. Expensive, with garishly improbable distractions, rides that take your breath away, and taste sensations that I know are bad for me, but I just can’t help gobbling them down. I spend all year talking about what a rip-off they are and how her goods are cheap and her ambiance tacky, yet there I am on opening day every year with my money in my hand ready for another guaranteed good time.

  13. Nicole
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 08:09:13

    @eggs: What a great description!

    I’ve read many a review of a romance novel that has all the technical aspects well executed: character development, setting, pacing, prose, etc. but if that emotional jolt isn’t there, then all the careful contruction is for nought, for me anyway. I read romance to feel, to cry and stay up until 3am because I can’t tear myself away from the story. Any author who can take me on that journey, so that I don’t notice the flaws until after I’ve finished the book, is worth the money.

  14. ClaudiaGC
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 09:24:13

    LMR’s books are definitely like crack to me. Can’t get enough of them!
    I wonder, is there a villain in this book? I love it that she gives the villains in her booksmostly Russian/East European nationalities. So stereotypical that it’s nearly unique again.

  15. Jane
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 19:44:45

    @ClaudiaGC Yes, Russian villains. Female trafficking. Oh, I probably should mention that there is waterboarding in the book. It’s used as torture but it is present.

  16. Mary G
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 18:16:47

    Oh my, Jane. You said: Sometimes authors and readers have some kind of strange sychronicity where everything that author writes hits all the buttons of the reader and everyone else on the outside looks on in befuddled wonderment.

    This is just bang on. I love her alpha guys but wonder if in real life, I would show them the door.

  17. Mary G
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 18:17:09

    Ditto – perfect analogy lol.

  18. cyclops8
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 15:02:43

    Looking forward to reading “Nightfire.” I’m a LMR fangirl.

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