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REVIEW:  Home by Nightfall by Alexis Harrington

REVIEW: Home by Nightfall by Alexis Harrington

“In 1918, Susannah Braddock is devastated by the news that her beloved husband, Riley, has been killed in battle in France. Heartbroken, she turns to Tanner Grenfell for support. Though technically the Braddocks’ hired hand, Tanner has been helping Susannah run the family horse farm since Riley shipped out, and he has become a true and trusted friend. As time passes and Susannah’s grief begins to ebb, her friendship with Tanner deepens into love. They marry, committing their lives to running the farm and raising Tanner’s two young nephews.

But Susannah and Tanner’s newfound happiness is short lived. Two years after being reported dead, Riley Braddock returns home, shell-shocked and with no memory of his life before the war. All he can remember is Véronique, the French woman who rescued him during the final days of the war and nursed him back to health. Now the Red Cross has returned him to America—and to the wife he no longer knows. As for Susannah, she is torn between her love for Tanner and her loyalty to Riley.

Dear. Ms. Harrington,

I have read some of your older westerns so when I saw this on offer to us to review, I decided to check it out. There aren’t that many romance historicals set during/immediately after World War I so this is tailor made for my current fascination with the period. While I can tell that this is at least the second book in a series, I easily followed what had happened before and never felt lost in the past relationships.

Home-by-Nightall
And what an unusual opening – who is this man? Even he doesn’t know nor does the woman who’s taken him in. I love that she’s just an ordinary – though incredibly strong both mentally and physically – woman and not tarted up to be a French sexbomb. It’s the little details included in these scenes – and later ones that compare to them – that grab me and give me a “you are there” feel. The land is torn up, the house is a wreck with chunks gone from the plaster but the roof doesn’t leak and I imagine in those days of “just being past the time of the shelling and artillery fire,” that is a major thing to be thankful for. These two don’t have much but they have each other and that’s enough. But the whole time I’m reading this, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop – and I do wonder why we aren’t shown this scene.

Meanwhile back in Oregon, the land is fertile and doesn’t smell of death and chemicals. Livestock are plentiful instead of merely hoping you can find a bull to mate your single cow to in order to keep her producing milk. People have changes of clothes and aren’t too worried about finding food. And so many fewer people have haunted eyes and injuries.

It’s a lively cast of characters but they all come to life. The family isn’t perfect and I have to agree with Jess’s assessment of their father-in-law, one that is shared by most – including other family – who know him, as a rotten tooth on two legs. Someone ought to say to him “old man, I’ve got a shovel and lots of space out on the back forty.”

Thank you for not restricting Riley to be an angsty, noblely suffering martyr. He’s pissed that what he knows has been yanked from him by an Army that can’t help him and now he’s dumped with a bunch of people he doesn’t remember in a town and place that hold no memories for him. Then there are the secrets and how he discovers them. He’s got a right to be mad and it would have seem foolish for you not to let him be. His resorting to a whiskey bottle also makes him more realistic. Riley redeems himself somewhat by helping to end a sinister plan – one that also limps along past the point where I’d think people in a small town such as this would have begun to look puzzled at two idlers.

I wonder how many widows found themselves in Susannah’s shoes. That would be a juicy bit of scandal for the day. Susannah’s decision not to tell Riley about the changed circumstances is initially sound given how little they know about Riley beyond his amnesia. but after a while, when his sessions with the doctor have started to show results, it seemed odd for Susannah and Tanner not to get back together. By the time they’d both decided “enough is enough,” I was long past that point and on to “FFS, move back in with the man you love and stop being wishy washy.” This section of the book reads like a dreaded “saggy middle” to me. Lots of on and on.

Unfortunately the book suffers from “end of series syndrome” wherein everyone’s story needs to be tied up and finished. Draggy, draggy, draggy. On and on. I’m definitely a “Rawhide” kind of reader. “Rollling, rolling, rolling. Keep them doggies moving.” [Whip crack!]

As I neared the end, I wondered how you would wrap a few relationships up. One took me by surprise but a nice surprise which then lead me to think, “Well, what’s she going to do about the other one?” I found out. And though I’m happy that Riley got his HEA, I am pissed as hell about how he got it. Angry and pissed. To the point where I would always need to flip to the end of any of your books to make sure who survives and who doesn’t. I’ll give you props for how you handled some of these situations that arose in the book. You showed the good, bad and ugly of a lot of people. Some things are realistic as hell and that took guts. But one character truly did not deserve what happened to him. /rant

Most of the book gets a B-, mainly because of the daring you showed in giving some of these characters warts and wrinkles of the soul. But that ending for one character, [shudders] that gets a F.

~Jayne

*This book is published by Amazon Montlake and is currently available only in Kindle format although you can order a print version from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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REVIEW:  Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series #1) by Coreene Callahan

REVIEW: Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series #1) by Coreene Callahan

Dear Ms. Callahan:

I did receive a copy of your book from a publicist to review but I ended up buying the book from Amazon as I believe it was discounted at one point and I prefer to read digital over paper. I had heard good things about your book and was excited to read it. While I understood the appeal, I found the story to be standard paranormal romance fare bringing little new to the sub genre.

Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series #1) by Coreene CallihanThere is a group of good shapeshifting dragons called the NightFury who are fighting against bad shapeshifter dragons called the Razorbacks. The bad shapeshifter dragons are engaged in scientific experiments that would aid their dominance of the world. The good shapeshifter dragons are experiencing a life changing moment in the beginning of the book. The leader, Bastian, has decided to take a mate and obtain a son in order to further the numbers of good dragons available to fight the bad dragons.

The war had gone on for so long that Bastian had lost count of the casualties. Centuries of fallen comrades, of hunting and being hunted. It would never stop. A clean victory was an impossibility for either side now. With only a handful of warrior dragons left, little choice remained but to replenish their numbers…and that meant breeding the next generation.

The problem is that every woman who births a dragon son (and it is always a male child) dies and while Bastian feels a bad about this, it cannot be helped. He’ll make sure that the mating, however, is wonderful and he’ll also take care of the mate until she has the baby dragon. That Bastian. He’s a thoughtful guy. The fact is that the “good guys” simply want Bastian to pick a girl out of the crowd and be done with it despite the fact that they are essentially dooming a girl to death. But all is okay because a) they feel bad about it and b) they’ll take good care of her until the alien baby kills her during the birthing process. But it’s not murder, according to Bastian:

He didn’t even know what she looked like and yet, he mourned her. Already felt sorry for the life he would take. It wasn’t murder. Not really. He would never willingly hurt a woman, but that didn’t change what he must do. To save his kind he must breed, and females never survived birthing Dragonkind.

But it’s not murder to  choose to impregnate a girl knowing the end result will kill her.

The dragons have human servants, much like the Black Dagger Brotherhood, that are “bred to serve”. “It was his job to keep the lair organized and well stocked, to caretake like you read about. The TLC routine had been bred into Daimler.” What’s really unfortunate is that Daimler is a Numbia, a cherub with dark curls and gold teeth. I was uncomfortable with the term Numbai being used with people who are “bred” to serve.

Bastian has limited time in which to seduce a woman because in five days, the Meridian will be in alignment which is the time in which the power is the highest and Bastian should be breeding. Fortunately, Bastian runs into Myst, a nurse, at a scene in the mountains where a young woman was birthing a dragon baby. Myst does not know what is wrong with her patient but she recognizes that the baby will have to be excised lest they both die. Bastian finds the two of them and Myst’s electrostatic energy marks her as a powerful woman. In fact, Myst is referred to as a “female of great worth” which seemed to be yet another nod or derivation of the BDB.

Bastian immediately marks Myst as his own and sets out to convince her that they must be together. He actually falls in love with her at the first whiff of her powerful energy and cannot want to copulate. Strong babies are derived from two powerful parents. Of course, there is that little problem of Myst dying once she has given birth and the nightly fighting that Bastian must engage in with the bad guys.

Consistency in details was a little problematic. For instance, at location 3331, Myst complains about the kitchen being filled with only organic foods “The entire kitchen was full of organic, whole food that no one in her right mind would want to eat. And she was a nurse, for pity’s sake…totally game for the health food scene.” But they also have chips, makings for waffles, and other delicious foods. At location 4626, “But then, the Numbai was all about pleasing those he served. Well that, and food. The male never missed a beat in the kitchen. Was always experimenting, serving new dishes, everything gourmet-style. Which was a good thing. Daimler kept the males of the lair satisfied in the eats department… ”

There are a number of lines or analogies that didn’t make sense. For instance, “The stats read like a rap sheet without the criminal element: twenty-eight years old, lived alone, a landscape architect with a shoe fetish. Okay, so she’d made up the shoe thing, but…really.” Why is twenty-eight years, lived alone, statistics in a rap sheet?

Myst wasn’t an easy pushover. She was scared of the dragons, wanted to escape from Bastian’s stronghold, and exhibited some fairly good sense. The dynamic of the poor downtrodden warrior males living in their secret conclave to which they will bring a woman, one by one, is a magnetic storyline.  Bastian and his band of half dragons are trying to do good in their world.   The  idea of men taking women to their beds, impregnating them with the knowledge that doing such acts would kill the female is fairly unappealing. No matter how great their remorse, it really is murder.  In some ways, this only a story that can be told within the romance boundaries. We readers know that murder won’t happen in these circumstances because Myst dying would prevent the HEA.  Readers who are primarily PNR fans might enjoy this series despite the fact that it brings nothing new to the table.  The pace is good, the fight scenes are entertaining, and Myst and Bastian have a strong connection.  C

Best regards,

Jane

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