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2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-17

Old Brockmann still not back yet

Brockmann's two Navy Seal series were the gold standard in romantic suspense for a long time. They still remain my favorite books in a vast audio library. But not this one which I will be returning.
Brockmann took a few years off to pursue other projects including helping her daughter's writing career in YA. She turned out a few aborted series starters in the interim--the futuristic Born to Darkness and the Troubleshooters offshoot Do or Die. Both these seemed still born and weren't continued as they fell a little flat with fans, altho I did like Born to Darkness somewhat and was waiting in vain for book 2. Having re-listened to the two SEAL series several times in the intervening years, I have been waiting for this book for a long time. Several years in fact.
But 3.5 hours in, I was done.
The action starts out fairly solid--a lukewarm chase with a lot of casual chitchat when things should have been a little more intense and not in character with a supposed SEAL. But its distracted by self-consciousness of a writer whose only frame of reference remaining creatively is her author-side. So the heroine, who is a romantic suspense author is talking with her characters in her head and this oddity continues.
This book doesn't have the focused impact of her previous suspense works altho it really had potential with the daughters framing for a theft by what appears a sociopathic high school peer. But unfortunately the deliver is choppy and disjointed. We are suddenly in his house full of old characters from the previous books in a scene that seemed suddenly there without preamble. If you haven't read the previous books its awash in a dozen new characters with idle banter and a lot of "family" stuff. I say that because it just becomes all about kids, the inner lives of tertiary character kids not involved in the plot, but kids of previous characters.
The oddest part was happening upon a scene where the old troubleshooters gang of mostly spouses are casually talking about romantic tropes of "mystery baby" that romance writers use--you know the one: girl has fling, disappears pregnant, guy finds out 1-20 years later, has to save baby/grown child... Most romance authors use it at some point. And here these characters are apropos of nothing discussing it while waiting for Peter to come home from looking for daughter. It was weird.
I love and am grateful for Suzanne Brockmann and hope she gets her mojo back. This wasn't it.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-25-15

Stories about real-life hot men in NewZealand

This is shortest review I've ever written for two incredibly difficult, detailed romances for the price of one. A lot of sadness that James injects with great realism, fortitude, old fashioned "winning" the girl, but modern courtships and pain that lead to Very Teary Happy-Ever-Afters. Nate and Liam really work hard to win their burned ladies in very different and concurrent courtships. Hardcore romantics are gonna love this.

NO Need to have read previous books in series to love this book. This is my first in series, and I'm gonna buy them all. My gratitude to Rosalind James is huge.
For younger readers who "haven't been around the block", pay very close attention to the insight into male behavior which is completely on par.
CAUTION: I actually looked up the team mentioned in the book--New Zealand's All Blacks and not only do they exist, but everything the author says about the bodies in the book bear out online and will cause old-fashioned fainting spells. Hyperventilation, hot sweats and other adverse reacations may occur. Be forewarned.
-teary, but hot n' bothered
Buy this book.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-04-15

Most unforgetable couple of the year

To be honest?
I wasn't looking forward to this one. I couldn't see how Nalini Singh was going to make a delicious hero out of Nasser, the strangely animalistic one of The Seven. Was he intriguing in lead up books? Oh sure. There is no end to Ms. Singh's imagination. But I wasn't seeing it--him as leading romantic male.

But then I didn't see how she was going to make the callous manipulative Dmitri a leading hero, and now he perches at the top of my best-hero-of-all-time of 700 books. And now? Nasser is up there too.
So Ms. Singh has done it again. Its really a great story, fascinating character development that builds over the course of the book, and what I really enjoyed was the determined courtship and the receptive female--none of the usual weird contrived reasons she couldn't go for him. Yet--you have to really wait for Nasser to go back in time to find the missing key to unlock his mate, so you get the delicious slow build they've both been dying for. Its really a wonderful tale.

AND amidst this fabulous romance, we get more intense plot development about the awakening archangels, and yet another white knuckle battle with the incalculably evil Li Juan. I really thought that plot line was on an ending arc, but turns out Ms. Singh's got lots in store for us, a couple new magnificent characters and some shocking new developments with Aiden and "Bluebell" Ilyum (sp?). I've been most curious to see how The Legion and the Primary would develop out, but she's keeping us dangling.

This is not a book to jump into if you are new to the series. In this fantasy/romance genre this is one of the best series out there. You will not regret starting at the beginning.

A++ for both Nalini Singh and Justine Eyre.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-01-15

Delicious Fun & Satisfying Girl Power Moments!

There were quite a few points in the first half of the book that I was really cheering Marley on and enjoyed quite a bit of satisfaction at Jake's shock at Marley's sheer competance in the field. I enjoyed that Naughton had a bit of fun at Jake's expense--a former Navy SEAL who's squeamish in the jungle, and whose own survival skills are more akin to an office mgr than a former operative ;) Oh, don't get me wrong; you never the get the feeling he's any less a hot He-Man (or "alpha" if you prefer). Its just that more often than not, old stereotypes prevail in this type of novel and its nice that Naughton had some fun and gave us some satisfying surprises. Such as when, early in the book, Marley does the Walk, announcing to Jake She's Done. She doesn't get all drama on him. She just does the walk and how often do we wish we could be as poised in our resignation or disgust with a pompous thoughtless boss?

It turns out that despite Jake's relegating Marley to office/operational support, she's quite expert in the field and doesn't make any fanfare about establishing a base camp, catching and prepping dinner with MaGyver-like aptitude in the jungle. Meanwhile our hero shows up with a palm frond after being gone for hours. His mouth agape response at sleeping and food accomodations by Ms Daniel Boone was hilarious.

The story is a another fun, seat of your pants adventure, but it really relies on too many autorial conveniences, making turns in action kind of predictable, which is why I've only offered 4 stars for overall and for the story. The chemistry and the banter between the two is top notch and very enjoyable. Very often during the middle of the book I would stop what I was doing to really concentrate on listening to the dialogue. For that reason, I'm not going to forget this book in the next couple weeks.

But I object that our saavy, sharp Marley is painted as blind to the machinations of rescued ex boyfriend. And that maybe she is purposely being blind, maybe even being so out of spite to Jake's hostility. There's a necessity in writing romance that there's got to be conflict and Jake's particular commitment and esteem issues I think would've been enough to meet the requirement without some of the ridiculousness of the character never finding her tongue to reject a marriage proposal and just weakly going along with it in the lack of so many other things.

We don't really resolve Jakes esteem issues which would have been more realistic than all the shenanigans that ensued. Those shortcomings aside, I still enjoyed the listen in spite of a tad bit of eye rolling and would recommend this to those who like the action romance genre, and especially to those frustrated girl warriors out there.

It looks like Ronan, Marley's half-brother, will get his own tale soon which will be an auto-download for me!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-20-15

Skip this one.

I would doubt anyone is a bigger fan of Ms Brockmann, and it was with eager anticipation that I got this in Audio and paperback. Three attempts to continue on with reading/listening were aborted in the first third of the book. I never got into either of the leads at all, had zero interest in either of them, and it seemed too elaborate a premise, too cluttered.

Lawlor and Ewbank have narrated other of Brockmann's books and really added to them, but they couldn't save this.

I can't wait for the next of brockmann's books, but I'll tuck this one away under false starts and hope she continues instead with the futuristic series she began a few years ago.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-09-15

Repetitive, Dark Disturbing turn for Feehan

This latest in Feehan's Leopard series takes a dark turn into an area I'd rather pass on. What should be a romance, is more the submission of a young abused girl to a domineering control freak that was an uncomfortable and at times distasteful read from a distinguished and talented author.
Until the past few years, I've been an ardent fan of Feehan. Illness and other issues seem to have affected her writing in the past 3 or so years in 3 different series. Leopards Prey and Savage Nature, the two previous books in the present series were wonderful romantic thrillers with rich plots and great characters that I've reread a couple times.

Feehan's males tend to be over-the-top, but especially in the previous Savage Nature, the hero Drake was sensitive and well-balanced as well. In this latest offering we see a radical, and to me, disturbing twist to a manipulative almost borderline sadistic male lead and I'm not talking about the bad guy. I'll give two examples and will try to be as delicate as possible. When the new couple is living together he tells her that in the morning before she leaves their bed her mouth is to be on one of two places, kissing him, or on his...(I'll let your imagination fill in the blanks). He's not kidding, and this actually becomes an issue between them. His reasoning is not redeeming. Another example is the appalling comment toward the end that since she had given him her virginity, he could shape her learning to what he liked in a lover.

You know, a guy may think this, but it is reminiscent to me of what Warren Jeffs and guys who like to date little girls may be thinking. As an author, I'd have edited that portion out to at least make Ely more likeable.

These two examples illustrate a male lead who is hard to like, especially after he used her as bait when they met to draw out a mass murderer while (unknown to her) he was undercover and trying to get to know her.

There is a difference between the very popular so-called "alpha male" that is so popular in romantic fiction, and a domineering manipulative, control freak as Ely turns out to be. In Burning Wild, Feehan walked a very fine line with the character Jake Bannaconi, a story and character I very much enjoyed despite Jake's harsh and extreme nature. But Ely in Cat's Lair took it too far and left me with no sympathy towards Ely and hoping the couple would not get together--a first for me.

As other reviewers pointed out, this book had more sex in it than was tolerable. It is much more gratuitous "erotica" than it is romance and at least 2 hours could have been cut out. And its neverending, with several hours of back to back scenes that had me skipping entire sections. Imagine skipping a section and someone's mouth is still on another's body part, and skipping a section to the same thing? In all, I think I skipped about 2.5-3 hours of sex scenes and tolerated the last half hour only to feel disgust in the end.

I find little to redeem this book except a brief cameo by Jake and Emma from Burning Wild.

I think this signals the end of my loyalty to Feehan as an author and I cannot recommend this book unless you like extreme male characters of this nature.
If you like the shifter books, try the other two I mention above from Feehan which are well done and suspenseful, especially Savage Nature.

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14 of 17 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-25-15

Finally! A fresh story that is gripping!

This genre--the hardened war veteran band of brothers series--has been so done in the past decade. It has been very very hard for authors to replicate the success of Suzanne Brockmann's two series on the now overdone Navy SEALS. And I confess, I'm pretty burned out on a lot of mediocre listens and reads lately.

But in the Red Team series by Elaine Levine, we finally have a new contender and I was wary last nite as I watched the clock count down in the story, dreading the close of the story. This book opens on a new series of a different kind of special operator, one that seems to be a cross between "Alias" and "Green Berets". Sure, we have some of the common ingredients--horrible tragedy, PTSD, emotionally distant males, females who want to help, imminent danger from a bad bad evil requiring saving said female and more.

Levine does a lot here that will excite hardcore readers who have wearied of the genre or of romance. Where romance writing has been heading into S & M and dominance for a couple years (if I hear "alpha male" one more time, I'm gonna puke), this book is going to turn you over in a different direction. I'm torn between needing to tell other readers what a cool book this is, and not wanting to provide spoilers.

Rocco is all guy, all male, all warrior. But he's also brilliant and gifted and has sides to him that are going to make many of you fall in love all over again. Levine unfolds the personal tale with the larger suspense tale in a way that keeps you engaged and in suspense all the way thru. The pacing is great. The growing cast of characters is introduced gradually--and left me relieved--indicating we have enough characters to fill many books to come. But you'll never get overwhelmed.

There are some very unique emotional sides to this books. First, I haven't read another author who has done such good research on PTSD before. Our war vet has a most extreme form of it, and while Levine never gets clinical, how she unfolds the cause is pure craft. And it will wrench you out of whatever you might be doing when you are listening to this.

Second, his character is one of the most unique I've read in a long time. You'll see why when you read the book. Levine challenges us to rethink how we view men and grief.

The narration by Eric Dove was really well-done. His ability to impart the different male and female voices and then the different characters within a genre were noteworthy. His ability to portray passion was well-done too. Few narrators get 5 stars from me, but I really enjoyed him.

Levine leaves us with several surprises at the end, and a great set-up into the next book with a true cliff hanger that you will get a peak at at the end of this book. It is with bated breath that I hope Audible will be releasing the rest of the series (book 2 just came out).

Get this book and settle in.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-09-14

Lovely romance turns trite and treacly sweet

I was enjoying this romance for a while until towards the last quarter when it got sickly sweet and silly. And a little embarrassing.
The couple has clinched the romance all over the farm and the inevitable death of the old barn cat dying of leukemia dies offering the heroine the opportunity to be ridulous about the cat she's known for less than 2 weeks (I'm a lifelong multiple pet household so I get the pain). But Andre has to create a situation (why? to bring them even closer together?) and it feels forced-the whole scene as they bury the cat and he's preparing for her histrionics while she waxes philosophical instead. So, everything is going great w/ Grayson, no clouds on horizon, and Lori thinks to herself "nothing is forever, Sweet Pea (the cat) taught her that". I love romance to death, but I wanted to choke on a chain saw. Its like the author took a vacation and came back and had to finish it quick.
Then it followed with silliness with her brothers (including the "lethal" pitcher--sorry, I had to giggle at that). Its all manufactured obstacles and no flow, no logic.
I can't recommend this book unless you are addicted to the series and need to finish it. I'm not at all compelled to read the others in the series. I've enjoyed several Bella Andre books. This isn't one of them.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-08-14

Heroism, survival and a poignant tearjerker

This is an unforgettable book telling the tale of survival, strength, enduring passion, and outright heroism on both male and female parts.

Pamela Clare's I-Team series carries the badge of authenticity of a real investigative reporter and editor and the clean smooth writing and pacing of a career writer. The original and realistic tales the I-Team reporters are ramped up by the intense hot romances of the amazing men they team up with.

But this one was a little different, and dealt with really hard subjects. I don't want to give anything away, but the word "Epic" kept coming to mind as I listened. For the second time. I bought the book last year when it first came out, and just re-listened a second time and am struck by the sweeping nature of the story. We get the usual happy ever after, but not the one we were necessarily expecting.

This book is bang for your buck as you'll be able to come back to it again fresh, and you'll be able to appreciate the twists, turns, complexities and the choices the characters will have to make.

Get this book--its worth every penny or credit.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-17-14

Re-recorded triple romance extraordinaire

Take one of the best action-romance authors and pair herin this re-recording with Lawlor and Ewbanks on vocals and you have nothing short of an extraordinary gift.

This is one of the best of the troubleshooters series by Brockmann. Even with the previous poor recording from a few years back, I had listened to it several times. The story, the action and the unique parallel stories running thru the large story arc of the SEAL team 16 are captivating. While we are engaged with the contemporary action romance of Chief Ken Carmody and American aristocrat Savannah Van Hopf, we are drawn into the tale of Savannah's grandmother's--who we will see in several subsequent books--heroism and her own WWII love story. And if that wasn't enough to keep you totally glued, is the story of Dave Jones (grady morant) and the irrepressible and inspirational 40-something missionary Molly. Their own story will come up again in a later book in the troubleshooters series and it will never leave you.

This book gets Five stars for story, romance, action--heck it has it all, and the5-star vocal performance really turns this into a knockout.

Consider this book a great investment--you'll enjoy it the second and third time around. and fourth....

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful