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REVIEW:  Caught in Amber by Cathy Pegau

REVIEW: Caught in Amber by Cathy Pegau

“Recently out of rehab, Sasha James is determined to keep her head down, complete her parole and never touch amber again. The chip in her neck controls her cravings for the highly addictive drug, but also tracks her every move. Not that she goes anywhere other than work and the halfway house she calls home–a far cry from her luxurious former life as lover of the mining colony’s top drug dealer, Guy Christiansen.

Agent Nathan Sterling has no desire to see Sasha fall back into amber, but his sister has become Guy’s latest conquest and the unexpectedly attractive Sasha is the key to getting her back. So in exchange for an introduction, he offers Sasha the one thing she can’t refuse–her freedom. From the chip, her parole and even the planet if she wants. Though he would be sorry to see her go…

Torn between her growing attraction to Nathan, fear of Guy and the allure of amber, Sasha accepts. But who will save her if Guy refuses to let her go a second time?”

Dear Ms. Pegau,

I liked the first book, “Rulebreaker,” enough to keep going in the series despite some problems I had with it. This book gets most things right for me that I didn’t get in “Rulebreaker.” The world building is still good but this time the romance lives up to the genre of Romantic SF.

Caught-in-AmberTo me, this story has much more emphasis on the romance and the character relationships. Perhaps this is just my feeling based on the fact that I’ve read the first book so this “world” isn’t as novel to me anymore. But I honestly feel that the focus here is the people and not the place. Which isn’t to say that the world building is sloppy or neglected. It’s mentioned as if having an artificial eye complete with zoom lens is nothing new, like hover cars are standard and off world trading is ho-hum normal – in other words integrated into the story you’re telling rather than made splashy just for its own sake.

Sasha is a wounded heroine. She thought she knew what she was doing, thought she was in control, she turned away from her parents’ attempt to get her out of this amber world and paid the price when it all crashed down on her. She learned that Guy was a user and a controlling asshole, that she was weak enough to almost sell her soul for the drug she craved and when she was arrested, tried and sentenced to jail, that no one seemed to care. This was devastating to her – being rejected by everyone – and her self esteem sank. The terms of her parole also impose little, petty reminders of her ex-con status that serve to chip away at any small rebuilding of her self worth.

So when Sasha doubts that Nathan has any feelings for her beyond how she can help him get his sister out of Guy’s influence, I believe her and don’t see it as just feeding the plot point.

Nathan is a bit harder to read as a romance hero. But his growing feelings for Sasha seem to build in a realistic way. At first, she’s a means to an end to save his sister. Then slowly he begins to see her as a person with a weakness that could wreck her if she begins to use again. His guilt followed by worry over this seems appropriate at that point in the book. He also admires the chances she’s willing to take when she spots an opportunity to further their plan. As the story progresses, it’s her strength that stands out to him and how much he’ll miss her if she goes off world. The moment of truth arrives when he owns up to the fact that he’ll risk everything to make sure she survives a final encounter with Guy.

The undercover part of the plot works well for me too. Even though Nathan seems to be ‘seat of the pants-ing” it at times, the basic framework of his plan shows he’s put some thought and detective work into it. Still even here the main emphasis of the scenes serve to advance the characters’ relationships.

There’s nothing dramatically different about the way the resolution of the story is reached or plays out. Not to say it’s bad or weak but just that it’s a thriller ending in a story obviously set up to have a thriller ending. Sasha discovers strength she didn’t know she possessed, Nathan keeps his promise to free her from her parole, Sasha falls for this man who not only believes her but believes IN her and they both feel saved by each other. And I believe all of this because it’s shown and not just told. So next up is “Deep Deception” with another f/f romance featuring two strong women I’m looking forward to watching go toe to toe. ::rubs hands in expectation:: B

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  COPS by G.A.Hauser

REVIEW: COPS by G.A.Hauser

Two of LAPD’s finest, Officer Jeff Chandler and his partner Mickey Stanton, have been together on duty for three years. When Mickey first met Jeff, a lateral transfer from Rain City- Seattle, he was crazy about him. When the men were assigned to a two-man patrol car, Jeff and Mickey’s attraction blossomed. And from then on, it was playtime!

On the street, Jeff and Mickey were tough and fearless, doing their job to protect and serve, but the testosterone charged pair were wild and out of control with their passion for each other. They loved doing risqué acts on duty and craved the adrenalin rush, until Jeff becomes burned out with patrol. His ambition is to rise up in the ranks. Soon the two men are at odds with what direction their careers should take, and Mickey resents Jeff for wanting to split up their team.

As friction begins to develop between them, they still have to continue battling the crime on LA’s streets. Between the raging fury and the sexual heat of their relationship, there is true love, and that love is put to the ultimate test, nearly ending in tragedy.

‘Top Men’- Mickey and Jeff- The police officers you grew to love from GA’s Action! and Hero Series, back again to give fans a wild ride into the darkest secrets and desires of COPS.

Dear G.A. Hauser,

I like police dramas so when I saw that your new book featured cops as the two main characters and seemed to be about everyday police work, rather than a flashy investigation of one crime I decided to give your work another chance. I have only read one of your books in the past and it did not work for me.

COPS by G.A.HouserLet me start with what I liked. I liked that Mickey and Jeff are shown doing ordinary patrol work, which may not be catching maniacs or violent criminals every single day, but which is important, and I wished that had been shown more. I liked a lot that the book is about an established couple and that the main conflict was about what directions they wanted their professional lives to go. I thought the set up for the conflict was awesome, actually. I hate when I am reading about a fake, superficial conflict which the author uses to move story forward without paying attention to whether the conflict makes sense for who the characters are. In this story the conflict made perfect sense to me. Unfortunately the execution and how it affected the characters story arcs made much less sense.

As the blurb tells us, Jeff is burned out on patrol, and as much as he loves being in the car with Mike, he wants to move up and maybe do something which does not require him to be on patrol every day. He does not tell Mike that he is thinking about this (the word *thinking* is imperative here, he has not done anything yet). Mike learns about it and reacts, well, should we say over the top? In fact, *Holy overreacting Batman* is the only response I have had about his raging.
It is not even a Big Misunderstanding issue; these two just have problems communicating about important issues. I would have loved to see that by the end of the book they actually learned to communicate better – not perfectly mind you, just better. Alas, I did not get that impression. Oh they promise to talk about the ways they want to advance their respective careers … in a year. So the character growth is what, postponed?

In the meantime sex seems to be their response to everything, or at least that was the impression I got. The blurb’s line that “they loved doing risqué acts on duty” is certainly correct. Sorry, but cops who decide that it is okay to have sex while they are on patrol in their car and in several other places make me very annoyed and I just cannot think of them as even close to realistic police characters. It is even more annoying in this book because in places the story has a very realistic feel, but then the realistic feel would vanish, which led to me rolling my eyes more than once. The author’s bio states that she worked as a cop, so I would imagine that this is where the realistic feel comes from, but was it really necessary at times to change her characters to sexually obsessed clowns rather than strong men who do a dangerous and exhausting job and try to do it well?

The blurb also mentions that the book is part of a series, but I don’t think you will be confused if you haven’t read any other books in these series. I was not, and the only indication that it was part of a series is that the couples from the other books (apparently) show up a few times and participate in two nice and gentle orgy scenes in the book (it barely goes beyond mutual kissing and showing off some of their dicks to each other, but if it bothers you, beware).
Grade – C-

~Sirius

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