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romantic-suspense

REVIEW:  A Terrible Love by Marata Eros

REVIEW: A Terrible Love by Marata Eros

Dear Ms. Eros:

I requested this book because I have yet to read a New Adult romantic suspense and I thought that this book might bring something different to the genre. Unfortunately the suspense portion of the story hinged on rather dumb people and highly suspect coincidences lending a feeling of unbelievability to the entire story.  The best part of the story was the heroine’s love for ballet.  That was the only thing that came off authentic in the entire book.

Hugging couple on black backgroundJess Mackey is the missing daughter of a presidential candidate. She has moved to Seattle and because of hair dye and colored contact lenses, she is completely incognito.  No one can recognize her!  And she’s able to afford going to another college without any family help. If only college was so cheap, right?  Jess is tormented by a memory of hiding in a closet while her best friend is bludgeoned to death by her step brother.  Her answer to this is to run away. The fact that a presidential candidate’s daughter was missing would be such huge news that unless the chick is living in an underground, closed off silo this storyline doesn’t work at all.

At her new college, she has made friends with a couple of girls and is meandering her way through classes because she misses her true love – dancing.  Her friend and roommate knows this and arranges for her to “secretly” audition for the Seattle Pacific Ballet which is selecting a student from her University to be part of the ballet company.

Jess is also the hottest thing on campus apparently because gorgeous male specimen A, Marcus, asks her out and continues to pursue her even though Jess is embarking on a sex only relationship with gorgeous specimen B, Camden.  She also has a hottie she sits next to in Biology class that defends her from jocks who make rude remarks to her. Everyone loves her and wants her from her killer step brother to the random stranger hanging around campus on his motorcycle.

In an effort to maintain suspense, the backstory of why Jess has run away and what trauma she has sustained is dribbled out in vague references and isn’t even fully explained in this book. I started the companion book on a whim and it was fully explained in the first chapter.  Why we didn’t get this kind of closure in book 1, I’m not entirely sure. (The companion book is the same story from the male POV). Suspense isn’t driven by Jess’ flight from her PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE FATHER but rather some brute on campus that is repeatedly trying to rape Jess.  After the third attempt on Jess’ body, I’m not horrified or scared for her, I’m rolling my eyes at the clumsy use of this plot device.

There were two areas that I thought was decently done – the sexual tension and the dancing.  The love of ballet exudes from the pages as the heroine spins on her toes and sweats blood and tears through each practice. A true ballerina.  But as a romantic suspense, vagueness and lack of a believable plot really drags the story under.  The whole tone of the book is vague and melodramatic with Jess constantly telling us how not pretty, not talented, and ordinary she is.  Given that everyone else thinks she is beautiful and desirable and the best ballerina ever, her Eeyore attitude is wearying and comes off as false modesty.

A tiny bit of racism at the end. Thanks a lot. But seriously, if I see a white chick do that in a nail salon, I think I might punch her out. Really not funny.

FANCY NAILS, the sign claims. Uh-huh.

We sit down and strip our winter boots and socks off.

“I make your feet look pretty,” an Asian pedicurist promises.

But he hasn’t seen my feet yet . . . really looked.

Though anything would be better than what’s going on now. He looks at my beaten feet and asks, “What do you do to your feet, pretty girl?”

“I dance,” I answer.

“You pay extra for more work.” His syllables pop like second- language gunfire.

“Okay.” I relent and Carlie shrieks laughter beside me.

“I love you long time,” she giggles while she shakes her ample bosom back and forth and my face flames in embarrassment.

I realized at the end of the story that this was a good idea and I’d love to read some New Adult suspense but something that was better executed than this.  D

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Burden by Annmarie McKenna

REVIEW: Burden by Annmarie McKenna

Dear Ms. McKenna,

I remember reading some of your earlier books and really liking them so I was happy to see a new release with your name on it. And I admit I have a weakness for the cops/bodyguards-as-romantic-partners trope (if there is such a thing).

Burden

There’s more than one way to guard a body.

In the year since his car flew off a cliff, Detective Brennan McGuire has struggled to relearn the simplest tasks—like speaking without a stutter—and even more with trying to fill the gaping holes in his memory.

But when his daily visit to a local coffee shop turns into a melee of flying bullets, Brennan’s instincts take control.

So much for Keegan Monroe’s first day off after a long undercover assignment. One minute he’s relaxing over coffee, the next his cheek is kissing concrete. Question is, is the gorgeous man on top of him his saviour, or the one who took a potshot at his head?

As Keegan shepherds the too-quiet, too-skinny Brennan through the investigation, attraction flares into nights of white-hot passion. But with each scorching encounter, more and more of Brennan’s memories shake loose…and it becomes clear someone doesn’t want him putting those pieces together.

With Keega n’s oath to protect and serve putting him squarely in the crosshairs of a murderer, now the question is, who is protecting whom?

Reading the story it was easy to see why I remembered liking your books before. You have a very strong voice which appeals to me. The problems in this book for me can all be summed up thus: it was too short. Both in terms of page count and the time span the story covers.

On my reader it was 87 pages long (the total page length was 101 pages but only 87 of them was the book) and the whole thing took place over the course of 3 days.

The villain of the piece was fairly obvious but as I read primarily for the romance anyway, that didn’t bother me. But I’m not generally a fan of the instalove. It can work for me, but only very rarely. I think engagement with this book depends largely on how prepared one is to buy into it here.

The last thing Keegan wanted was to hurt the man who’d somehow stolen his heart in a day.

I think, if the investigation had taken place over the course of a few weeks or months, and the story length had been expanded significantly, this could have been an absolute cracker of a read. As it was, there were hints of that, but I kept tripping up on “hang on, they only met YESTERDAY”.

I liked that Keegan didn’t bat an eyelash at falling for a brain-injured man and I liked the way that he didn’t treat him as disabled at all, while at the same time not becoming impatient when it took some extra time for Brennan to get his words out.

On the one hand, I did very much like this

“Shh…” He kissed the man, keeping it soft at first and then deepening things when Brennan’s tongue came out to lick at Keegan’s. “Jesus. You are temptation. I haven’t been with anyone in awhile either. Regular exams are clean for me, and I’ve never gone bareback, ever, but I won’t risk you. We’ll both get tested first. Until then…”

So, bonus points there. Except that they had met the day before, so talking about getting tested seemed way too premature. So, minus points.

I like kittens well enough but I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive when I say that hearing the four kittens Brennan owns (as therapy) constantly referred to as “the shitheads” wore on me after a while.

I think that the brain injury Brennan sustained was portrayed reasonably accurately but I was left with some questions, around what further improvement he could expect if any, whether he would be able to work again (at anything; he has accepted that he will not be a cop again) and how he would support himself in the future. None of these things were really discussed in the book.

Keegan himself had just come off a months long undercover assignment and his future was hinted at but it was unclear.

For a book which was only 87 pages long, there was a lot of sex in it. I enjoyed the sex scenes and they did show the men dealing with each other as equals (this was particularly good for Brennan because for some reason he doesn’t stutter during sex and he feels very competent and sure of himself in this domain), but I would have liked more character building and exposition too. Not necessarily instead of – like I said, I enjoyed the sex scenes. (Although, I might say that “rectum” is not a sexy word and I’d be happy enough never to see it a sex scene again).

I liked Brennan and Keegan and I liked the relationship Keegan had with his straight partner. I wouldn’t mind reading more about these people as I could easily see it as an ongoing series. This was fun but too short. I give it a C+.

Regards,

Kaetrin

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