Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday Book Review: Sign Off by Patricia McLinn

Sign off (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1)
By Patricia McLinn
Published 2015 by Craig's Place Books

About the Book:
TV journalist Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher will tell you she committed two sins — she didn’t stay young, and she made an enemy of a powerful news executive — her ex. She used to break national news. Now her top story as the “Helping Out!” reporter at dinky KWMT-TV in Sherman, Wyoming is getting a defective toaster repaired.

Tough, funny and determined, Elizabeth wrestles with isolation, keeping a professional edge, and an evolving self-image. Is Wyoming — the land of cattle, cowboys, tumbleweeds, and fewer than six people per square mile — her new home or a road to permanent obscurity?

Soon she’s in a battle of wills with ex-football player turned journalist Mike Paycik, who might see her as a handy rung on his career ladder or a romantic partner or both. And there’s the matter of a deputy sheriff—missing or murdered? Elizabeth finds herself investigating at the insistence of a girl who’s set on proving her father’s innocence. Not that enigmatic rancher Thomas Burrell makes investigating easy for an amateur detective.

But Elizabeth won’t fade to black without a fight, no matter how final some might want to make her SIGN OFF.
My Take:

This somewhat quirky romantic suspense series starts out slowly and with little to no romance in sight. The only kiss our heroine receives comes at the very end. As in, the last sentence in the book. So if you're looking for steam or sizzle with your murder, look elsewhere.

If, however, you are in search of an unconventional heroine, whose fall from grace drops her in nowhere-ville Wyoming at a television station too small to even be a blip on the Neilson ratings, you're in for something fun. Told in first person from just the heroine's POV, the reader is treated to the sometimes snarky, sometimes depressed, sometimes introspective musings of this strong, sassy woman as she does a little soul searching and a whole lot of investigative journalism, seemingly against her will (or at least her better judgement.)

Recently a big deal in television journalism, Elizabeth Margaret Danniher is stuck in Sherman, Wyoming at local affiliate KWMT to serve out the remainder of her network contract, after her ex got to stay in the big time after their divorce. The details of both the divorce and the fall from grace are left sketchy at first and only get cleared up to hazy by the end of this first book of the series, leaving lots of room to fill in the backstory as the series progresses.

The pseudo-love interest is Michael Paycik, one of her coworkers and a local boy turned NFL star, until his knees gave out early and he turned to sports broadcasting. He's learning the ropes and sees Elizabeth as a good mentor, as well as a beautiful woman. The jury is out on whether their relationship progresses passed friend status as the series continues, but the author does a great job of introducing us to them and them to each other, and getting them to the point of trust, a crucial thing to have when you're investigating local murders.

Well written, well paced and well plotted, once I got through the murky opening, the story flowed and kept me flipping pages faster than I could absorb the clues left in the minor details. Yes, I found myself going back to reread. Just warning you, don't skim or you might miss a plot point hidden in a spider web.

Totally recommend and am off to purchase the second book in the series. I wasn't going to, but then there was a teaser chapter, and we all know how much I like those. Luckily, there are already a slew of books in the series already published, which I just may have to download for my next airplane ride, but that won't be for a few months. In the meantime, happy reading!

Grab your copy on amazon.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Feature: Candy Hearts and Valentines

Everyone has a memory of Valentine candy hearts. Grammar school valentine card exchanges, with heart shaped lollipops and little boxes of these sugar bombs. Candy hearts aren't anyone's "favorite" candy... in fact, you probably forget that they even exist for eleven months out of every year.

But then February rolls around, and you can't seem to get away from them.

When I first heard that The Wild Rose Press was planning a series with the candy hearts at the theme, the candies weren't even on shelves yet. To submit, you had to have an actual candy saying and the back-of-book blurb for your story for consideration. To look through possible sayings, I trolled Google images.

SAY YES sounds like it should be a wedding story, but it's not. I didn't want to go for the obvious. It's a second-chance-at-romance story, the kind I totally favor to read and write. Set on Cape Cod during a snowy winter, a painter is trying to reinvent his career after the death of his wife changed his perspective on the world. A new gallery owner is looking to mend fences with her family and avoid the mistakes she's made in the past by dating tortured artists.

And now it's available as part of a box set, with 6 other stories in the second-chance-romance vein.

 So who needs a box of sugar bombs, when you can have a virtual sugar fest, right? Fewer calories and cavities - and a whole lot more satisfying all around.

Grab SAY YES on AMAZON for $1.99 - or grab the box set for only $5.99.

And Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday Book Review: The Loneliest Alpha, by T.A. Grey

The Loneliest Alpha (The MacKellen Alphas series, book one)
By T.A. Grey
Published June 2013

About the Book:
One look will change their lives forever

Lingerie designer Alicia Clarkson just had to open her stupid mouth. After defending a fellow pack mate, Alicia's been blindfolded, tied up, and carted off to the scarred cowboy alpha of the Oregon pack--Gavin MacKellen. However, the blindfold doesn't come off as Gavin reveals he's searching for a mate and he wants to keep his face hidden. Just what happened to the mysterious alpha? He talks to her from shadowy corners and behind closed doors, but when they're near an explosive magnetism draws them together. Alicia and Gavin settle on an agreement--thirty days for them to get to know each other. But Gavin knows no good woman would ever want to look at his face after the incident he suffered. One look at Alicia sends all his plans out the window. The woman's beauty has stunned him speechless. Will she be the one to stand in the face of a monster and accept him for what he is?

The MacKellen Alphas series is a suspenseful erotic thriller that will keep you reading late into the night. With rich environments and captivating characters, The Loneliest Alpha will draw you in and never let you go. With nearly a million books downloaded, it's easy to see why T. A. Grey's romances are books to get lost in.

Buy The Loneliest Alpha to watch "a cowboy beast" get tamed by "beauty."
My Take:

First let me say I like shifter books. I find it fascinating to discover new ways in which authors create and write their urban fantasy visions and unique world building. I enjoy romance novels that include sizzling scenes between willing partners.


I need to know how the world is built. And I need a little more build up about the "willing partner" part of things before the switch is flipped to "do me."

There was a lot to like about this book, but there were also a bunch of dangling questions and abrupt changes of mood and action that left me feeling like I was playing catch up rather than enjoying the ride. I know this is the first book of this particular series, but I kept having to go back and check the cover to be sure because it felt like I missed something. Perhaps there is another series that this one follows? In any event, the author didn't do a very good job bringing readers up to speed on essential world building or the dynamics between clans.

Gavin MacKellen is the new alpha of the Oregon Lykaen pack, having won the position by challenge after the previous alpha died. Except that it's a position he never wanted, but merely stepped into the challenge to replace his youngest brother Will.  ("I volunteer as tribute...") He won the challenge, but Will hasn't forgiven him for the embarrassing moment (forget about the fact the older brother basically saved his life, since 19 year olds don't think that way.) The night after winning the challenge, someone snuck into Gavin's home and cut up his face, pouring salt on the wounds to ensure they didn't heal. (Apparently, in this shifter world, salt is like silver and inhibits the healing process. Who knew?)

Alicia Clarkson is from the Arizona pack, and the book starts with her being kidnapped and taken to Oregon against her will. The author calls this a "Beauty and the Beast" story, but she forgets that Belle went to the castle of her own free will and took her sick father's place in captivity of her own free will. At no point was she kidnapped, hogtied or duck taped. Alicia is brave and fights to free herself, but capitulates to Gavin's will far too quickly. The dynamics between the pair feel forced, and the roller coaster of trust issues made me dizzy to follow.

The sex scenes themselves sizzled off the page and were super heated, but the lead ups and follow ups were not satisfying. The hot and cold, the bold and shy, the do me/get away from me dichotomies were not logical to follow.

And then there were the secondary character introductions and POV scenes that seemed sort of like afterthoughts, only there to introduce the next characters for future stories in the series, as opposed to furthering the plot of the story being currently told.  And the submissive, doormat qualities of the Alpha's sisters? No one in an alpha family should ever be a doormat. Period.

All in all, I'm left unsatisfied by this story for so many reasons.

If you still want to read this for the hot scenes, which include explicit scenes and some mild BSDM, you can grab a copy on AMAZON.