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Red Garnier

REVIEW: Paper Marriage Proposition by Red Garnier

REVIEW: Paper Marriage Proposition by Red Garnier

Dear Ms. Garnier:

You are really skilled at writing sexual tension and emotional agnst.   One of the things I remember about your single title contemporary, The Satin Sash, was the high level of emotion and the gripping chemistry that permeated many of the scenes.   Every encounter between the characters is highly charged.   The problem, though, is two fold.   First, the emotions don’t always seem to match the setting and second, the plot arcs seem to have gaps.

red garnier paper marriage propositionBethany Lewis married a monster.   She wised up and divorced him but it cost him her son.   Hector Halifax engineered evidence to prove that Bethany was an unfit mother.   Left without a dime and unable to see her son, Bethany seeks out Landon Gage who suffered his own tragic loss at the hands of Hector Halifax.   She proposes that he marry her, support her in her custody fight and in return, she will give him a black book that contains the names of the people Halifax has bought.

Interestingly, the revenge theme is turned on its head at the beginning.   Landon professes that he is uninterested in revenge and turns Bethany away.

"It has been six years. I have put the past behind me, where it belongs. I'm not consumed by rage anymore when for years all I thought of was murder. Do not provoke me, or I may just take it out on you."

Instead of a man pursuing revenge, Landon has suppressed his anger and hatred and essentially every other emotion.   He’s been in emotional stasis since his tragedy six years prior.   Beth’s pleas for help, her encouragement of his pursuit of revenge, brings him alive again, much to the delight of his two brothers.   The concept of the story was fine.   It was in the execution where I felt [ ]

For instance, when Beth and Landon discuss the prenup with Landon’s lawyer present, Landon’s demand for fidelity is met, not with just instant agreement, but a rush of sexual reaction:

Faithful to Landon Gage?

Something effervescent slid through her veins, and an awful burn arrowed down her breasts to the warmed, aching place between her thighs. She felt branded, taken in a way that didn’t demand their clothes to be off, as Landon’s eyes sucked her into their depths and filled her body with a horrible ache.

Time and place, Beth, was all I could think at various moments throughout the book.   I think, partly, the problem rested on the fact that Beth is trying to regain custody of her child whom she professes to love a great deal and would do anything to win back.   I don’t mean to suggest that Beth couldn’t be physically attracted to Landon but did the intense sexual reaction she was having during the prenuptial discussion that was, in some ways, insulting toward her, make sense?   Certainly Beth tried to acknowledge that this was inappropriate:

More silence. His face was as unreadable as a wall as he steepled his fingers before him. "All I demand, Beth, is your fidelity. If you want to sleep with someone-’you'll sleep with me."

Oh, God, when Landon spoke that last, her skin went hot. He made it sound like a promise, a decree.

And though romance and sex were the last things on her mind right now, his ill-concealed interest stirred her interest and made her aware of how beautifully virile he was.

Clearly romance and sex weren’t the last things on her mind and this discussion was about custody, money, and divorce.   I suppose what I am to take away from this that their attraction to each other was so strong that it takes precedence over the mundane, but it just made my “inappropriate” button go off in my head.   I was further confused by Beth’s seeming nonchalance at signing away any future rights to a child born of any union between herself and Landon given that he was able to make her think of sex even at the most inappropriate times.

I was also frustrated by Bethany’s lack of spine.   Sometimes she would be undefeatable (stalking Landon to the point of harassment) and then she would show signs of wimpiness at important moments which would require constant reassurance by Landon.

The romantic arc is also fueled by misunderstandings which were caused by Bethany’s actions, actions that I found unreasonable.   I read these portions of the book internally yelling at Bethany to stop, just stop. The characters, their motivations, their emotional and sexual attraction never fully meshed for me. I often felt as if I was being jerked around like a muppet.

For it’s flaws though, the story is full of emotion and refreshing twists.   Landon refers to Bethany as his war buddy in this pitched battle against her ex husband.   The two of them draw strength from their revenge plans and use it, at times, to hide behind when their emotions for each other scare them.   Your prose, your phrases, are intriguing:

Kissing Landon’s lips like her life depended on it. Kissing him not subtly, but hard and fast and desperately.

It irked him immeasurably, her desperation, and he wasn’t certain why. Perhaps because he knew desperation. What shallow company it was, what a lousy counselor it became.

I will keep reading your work and someday, it will all come together for me.   C+

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW: Men of Danger by Lora Leigh, Red Garnier, Alexis Grant, Lorie O’Clare

REVIEW: Men of Danger by Lora Leigh, Red Garnier, Alexis Grant,...

Men of Danger lora LeighWhen I see the title of this book, I can’t help but think of   Mike Meyer’s horrid accent saying “Austin DANGER Powers”. I adored the first installment of Austin Powers and will willingly get sucked into it any time I see it on TV. Men of Danger has little in common with Austin Powers, including it’s lack of ability to suck me in. I was unable to relate to, be interested by, or get excited about any of the characters in these stories. And since I think that a 10,000 foot view doesn’t help anyone’s expectations, here’s some detail:

Hannah’s Luck by Lora Leigh
I haven’t a clue why Hanna Brookes is lucky. Because she has Rick Grayson to protect her? He’s the reason the baddies are after her to begin with. Heh. I’ll back up here: Rick Grayson is a sheriff who discovered that his wife was a coke whore working with a homegrown terrorist group interested in exterminating Latin and Mexican Americans. The capper? He gunned her down in cold blood during the takedown. While Rick’s marriage was a lie during the years leading up to the shooting, he has been hesitant to get involved with anyone because he isn’t sure…about something. It was such a flimsy excuse for wanting to remain out of play that I can’t remember exactly why he didn’t want to get serious with anyone. However, he’s been attracted to Hannah Brookes for years and finally takes her out to dinner, fighting erection after erection while trying to alternately get her hot and then cold.

Ms. Leigh’s writing is usually hot and sexy with that ridiculous alpha male vibe. In this case, it didn’t happen here for me. I felt that Rick’s caveman attitude didn’t jibe with his love for his sister or his child or even his police work. And his total blind spot when it came to figuring out who-done-it had me laughing. Hannah was along for the ride and the soaked panties. C

Reckless by Red Garnier
Paige Avery is back in Phoenix to try and pick up the pieces of her fractured life and missing memories after the death of her mother. Before Paige makes it through a day in Phoenix, she’s attacked and Detective Zach Rivers is on the case. Complicating things is Paige and Zach’s history; they were high school sweethearts. But during senior year, Zach ended up being the prime suspect for the murder of Paige’s father. Rather than give up, Zach pulls himself up by his bootstraps and makes it to the rank of police detective. He is obsessed with both Paige and the Avery murder case, and won’t stop until he’s figured them both out.

While I love a story with a lot of history, it seemed like both Paige and Zach lived in little bubbles until they were reunited. Did Paige ever have a boyfriend, or even a sexual experience? And on that note, did Zach? There was a lot of focus on the teenage sex aspect of what happened between them (or rather, didn’t quite happen), and it was really…odd reading memories of sexual experiences from the perspective of an adult. These people haven’t seen each other since they were about 18 years old, and the torch is still burning as brightly? I had a hard time swallowing it. C+

Tempt Me by Alexis Grant
Anita, or Queen B, is an R&B star with a reputation and a stalker. She hires professionals to take care of her security on her USO tour, and ends up having the major hots for her head of security. You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned his name…wonder no more. I can’t remember it. There was A LOT going on in this story, probably way to much. The guy who originally was supposed to be Anita’s bodyguard ended up being ill, his army buddy steps in to pick up the slack while on leave, Anita and the actual bodyguard both came from the projects, Anita’s brothers and father are sponging off her, her ex-boyfriend is a Tommy Mottola-like figure…the list of stuff happening goes on and on. Yet, there is quite a bit of time spent on scenes that just shouldn’t have been that much a part of the action.

While both the H/H came from the projects and had tough lives, their conversations or interactions just didn’t raise my temperature, and it felt like they were barely raising each others’. My biggest problem? I didn’t fully get the who-did-what-to-whom at the end, which was incredibly annoying. C-

Love Me ‘Til Death by Lorie O’Claire

Homicide detective Ashley Jones is working on a murder case that seems to be a single event. When FBI special agent Chase Reed shows up on the scene, Ashley immediately begins to suspect that the case is more than it appears.

Chase is on leave for breaking FBI rules, ignoring protocol and generally acting like a caveman. No surprise, he continues to break rules, ignore protocol and grunt at Ashley. Ashley seemed to be a capable and smart woman but when Chase shows up and essentially takes over her case, she morphs into a brainless jellyfish. Her lack of actual police work was annoying and wardrobe choices would do a hooker proud. The one thing that really bothered me: WHERE ARE THE DAMN CONDOMS? There is nothing less sexy than an STD, and that’s all I kept thinking about whenever they had sex. D

~ Shuzluva

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This is a mass market paperback published by Macmillan, part of the Agency 5