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REVIEW:  His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey

REVIEW: His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey

Dear Ms. Bailey:

I enjoyed your debut book, Protecting What’s his, quite a bit and I was told that this novella would feature a hero cut from the same dirty talking clothe. They weren’t wrong, but this novella suffers from length related problems. Troy Bennett is a homicide cop for the NYPD, recently transferred from Chicago where he suffered the loss of his partner. He’s immediately taken with Ruby Elliott who comes in to a bar he’s at.

His Risk to Take Tessa BaileyRuby makes money by hustling at pool and while this is presented as a dark criminal enterprise, I guess I don’t see it. She goes in to bars and people assume she isn’t very good at playing pool and she schools them and takes the money they freely bet. I didn’t see one instance in the book where she pretends she is bad at pool. But the conflict necessitates setting Ruby up as a criminal to conflict with Troy’s upstanding citizen role. And because of the novella length, this conflict is easily resolved.

The sexy times and the tone of the story is the same as the previous one, but it just didn’t mesh as well and I think it’s because of the speed at which the story proceeds due to the shorter length. I felt that the immediacy of their sexual playfulness didn’t match their emotional interaction.

Troy likes to call the shots in and around the bedroom, but I felt like he was too demanding too early; that he didn’t give Ruby (or the reader) time to accept his naturally dominating nature.  Again, because this set up worked perfectly fine for me in the previous book, I think it has to do with how quickly the two had to develop this intimacy.

Also, surprise, surprise, heroine does another really foolish thing at the end. I wish women in danger acted with a little more sense of self preservation. Get a gun, take some self defense lessons, etc. etc. If you are going to live in a dangerous world, eschewing the help of others, then you need to learn to take care of yourself.

In sum, this book is a quick and sexy read but with problems that were endemic to the length of the story.  And it’s not that I don’t think that novellas can’t feature a dirty talking dominant, but only that in this book it didn’t work as well as I would have liked. C+

Best regards,


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REVIEW:  Midnight Secrets by Ella Grace

REVIEW: Midnight Secrets by Ella Grace

Dear Ella Grace:

I found this book to be rather bland. The heroine is nice. The hero is nice. There is a certain Robyn Carr Virgin River tone to it which made sense when I learned that Ella Grace was a penname for Christy Reece, whose work I had tried in the past and put down because the tone wasn’t to my taste. The first third tells of the romance between young Savannah Wilde, one of the three Wilde triplets, and Zach Tanner, the town’s bad boy. While I appreciate trying to set the right stage for a reconciliation, the over 70+ pages devoted to Savannah from the ages of 12 to 18 served to only slow the pace of the book. If anything, the extended look at their past relationship made it even more difficult to comprehend a) their separation and b) any barriers to reunited love.

After the first third of backstory is laid out, we learn Zach breaks Savannah’s heart.  Fast forward ten years, Savannah returns to her town to sell her family home and encounters Zach who is now the new police chief. The mystery of why he broke her heart 10 years ago is drug out until the middle of the book but sadly, it is a total let down. It’s not that what happened to him wasn’t believable but that the build up led the reader to anticipate something more dramatic and it wasn’t.

midnight secrets Ella GraceIn the second half, the other sisters are introduced and mystery and suspense elements take center stage.  Savannah’s parents were killed in a murder/suicide, forever tainting Savannah’s golden childhood. Her return places her in danger, necessitating visits from Zach and ultimately protection from him.  On the positive side, the mystery/suspense was resolved in this book and not carried forth into books 2 and 3 of the Wilde sisters. However, I found the story as executed fairly implausible.  It relied too much on the crazy person plot trope which, again, made the mystery/suspense less interesting.

Savannah is a sweet, nice girl who is somewhat surprised by a) how Zach has hardened from a sweet boy to a commanding man and b) her intense attraction to him.  Back in her hometown, she recalls marvelous memories of her past and feels a tug to return.  Her sisters appear with an idea of setting up an investigation/security firm in this small town because small towns really can afford to support an investigation/security firm.  (#protip, pretty sure that all you ever need to know about a small town can be learned at the hairdresser’s shop).

Zach is your standard gruff exterior with a heart of gold cop who is determined to win Savannah over. Only when he says “where do you see this going?” it doesn’t include “I’ll come to Nashville with you.”  That’s not even a consideration for either of them.  The small town’s appeals is simply too strong for anyone to see past.   I didn’t get enough of a sense that Savannah, after only a few years of practicing law, would already be burned out and want to leave her Nashville life for small town gloriousness.  I’m just worn down by the smalltown trope, I guess. Or maybe I don’t understand it.  Whatever the reason is, I’m not buying these successful women who throw away their good careers in an effort to live a more fulfilling life.

Essentially we have 1/3 of a YA romance plus an over the top murder mystery with a dash of book 2 and 3 setup thrown in.  It’s a serviceable book but I can’t see myself moving forward with the series.    C

Best regards,



AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook Depository [spoiler]He got beat up by some guys and was too ashamed to tell her so he left and never spoke to her for months. By the time he did call her, she was too angry to respond. Cue 10 years of silence between them. [/spoiler]