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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:  His Kind of Trouble by Samantha Hunter

REVIEW: His Kind of Trouble by Samantha Hunter

Name: Chance Berringer
Trademarks: Chance by name…chance by nature!
Biggest weakness: Adventure and beautiful women—especially when combined in one caliente cook!

Danger is bodyguard Chance Berringer’s first, last and middle name. Protecting celebrity chef Ana Perez—a hot little firecracker with a mouth to match—for two weeks in Mexico is more vacation than job. Just keep his eyes on her, and his hands off. How hard can it be?

Plenty hard.

Ana doesn’t want a babysitter during the holidays. Even if Chance’s muscled hotness (complete with wicked grin) makes him a mouthwatering dish…. But when the heat starts sizzling in the bedroom—and beyond—will this hot tamale cause more trouble than Chance can handle?

Dear Ms. Hunter:

His Kind of Trouble contains a number of things I prefer to avoid when reading romance. It has a muscled, cocky hero with a silly name– Chance by name…chance by nature!—who spends much of his mental energy thinking “I’d like to tap that,” a feisty heroine who is a cultural stereotype—the curvaceous hot Latina who loves to cook and has a temper—and routinely makes Too Stupid To Live choices, a supermodel thin plot, and an “it’s all weddings and babies” epilogue.

His Kind of Trouble by Samantha HunterChance is the youngest of a group of brothers who provide security. In the first two books in Ms. Hunter’s The Berringers series, two of his older brothers fell in love with the women they were protecting and it’s clear Chance is headed down that path from the moment he meets his assignment, Ana Perez. Ana is the host of a very successful cooking reality show and someone has been anonymously threatening her. The TV studio–not Ana–hires Chance to be Ana’s bodyguard. Ana, because she’s so damn feisty, doesn’t want a bodyguard. (She’d rather be independent than alive.)

When Ana first meets Chance, she thinks he’s her stalker because he, wanting to prove to anyone and everyone that it would be really easy to break into Ana’s dressing room and kill her, breaks into Ana’s dressing room late at night while Ana is still there and lounges on her couch. Ana, when she walks in and sees him, is terrified but immediately berates him for hurting the building’s elderly security guard (while checking out his package.)

The man reached into his pocket, pulled out a small black phone. “Your security guy left his phone on the front desk when he went to the men’s room,” the man said laconically. “The studio definitely needs to beef up the night watch. It was easy as kittens to get in here. I could have been anyone.

Someone who does want to hurt you.”

She blinked. “What do you mean?”

He walked toward her and put out his hand, and she had another chance to appreciate the solid mass of muscle that allowed him to move with a dangerous kind of masculine grace. Cocky, self-assured, powerful and not at all worried about being caught. Certainly not afraid of her.

She was dismayed to hear a panicked squeak emit from between her lips.

As if he was dealing with a frightened animal, he bent down to her level.

“Ana, my name is Chance Berringer. I’m your bodyguard,” he said…

This scene, like most of the book, made me want to smack both Chance and Ana. It’s a dick move on his part—she’s being stalked; he breaks into her dressing room then treats her as though she’s a toddler. Ana, though panicked, takes time to check out Chance’s bod. She, as she does repeatedly, acts as though the threat against her is miniscule; her first and typical response to danger is to have a temper tantrum.

Once Ana understands who Chance is, she makes it clear to him she doesn’t want his help. The very next day, Ana plans to  head home to Mexico for the New Year holidays where she intends to relax for a couple of weeks—despite the fact her small Mayan village in the Yucatán is home to drug gangs who have for years, “terrorized” her people. Chance tells her he will be coming too. Ana, even though she has just received yet another creepy note from her stalker (he broke into her apartment and left an envelope full of dead rose petals), attempts to give Chance the slip. Chance, of course, is three steps ahead of her and essentially kidnaps her, takes her to his private plane, and flies her to Mexico.

By the time the plane has landed Ana and Chance are both planning to get in each other’s pants.

Ana:

He had great hands.

She wanted to know what they would feel like on her skin, for real, not in her dreams. Ana thought that was a very real possibility.

Chance:

Chance’s mind blanked and his body reacted to her scent and the soft curve of her ass pressing into his lap. Her fingers grabbed his shoulder to steady herself as she wiggled forward, trying to pull herself back upright. Her skirt had ridden up to new heights, exposing a delectable view of smooth upper thigh that made Chance ache to know what was hidden just a few inches higher. Her wiggling against him wasn’t helping.

“I’m so sorry,” she said on a breath, her face mere inches from his. “Clumsy.”

“Not your fault. Turbulence,” he said, sounding a bit hoarse.

Her lips looked delicious. Big, brown eyes widened as Ana watched him watch her, and it was all Chance could do not to pull her in closer and have a taste.

Once they arrive in Ana’s home town Hatsutsil, which just outside of the city of Mérida, Ana and Chance begin having great sex, eating fabulous meals, and dodging death. It turns out Hatsutsil is harboring someone who wants Ana killed which has nothing to do with the stalker in the States. This new threat is a bummer for Ana and Chance who would rather make love in what seem to be sacred Mayan ruins.

They entered a wide, much lower tunnel that seemed to squeeze the light from the spot where they had emerged, and for a moment, Chance wondered if this was safe. But, Ana walked ahead at a steady, confident rate, obviously knowing where she was going. It got very dark before they turned a corner toward light again, and emerged in a smaller cave that was lit only with dappled sunshine from far above. There were markings on the walls, and ornate statues and carvings that surrounded the area, almost like unfound treasure.

“What is this?” he asked.

Ana knelt by the side of the rock shelf, and dipped her hand down, and scooped up a handful of mud.

Chance smiled. “I’ve heard of this. Terracotta mud pools.”

“Mud baths, yes. This one is used only by the people of our village, guarded closely, as it is believed to have healing and even magical properties.”

“What are all the carvings and the markings?”

“Some are millennia old. Some are from last week, offered at the seasonal changes, connections to the old ones, ancestors, and gods. Many people in our village still follow old ways.”

Ms. Hunter does throw in bits of info about the Maya and the Yucatán but it’s fairly superficial. There’s a sub-plot involving Ana’s sister Lucia and Ana’s childhood fiancé Marco that makes very little sense but does allow for extra mayhem at the end of the book.

His Kind of Trouble is not my kind of novel. The characters are bland and annoying; the plot, silly and baffling; the writing, colorless and repetitive. And while I acknowledge a personal predilection for epilogue-free fare, this novel’s epilogue is so smug I wanted to suck a lemon after reading it. I give His Kind of Trouble a D.

Dabney

 

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