Monday, July 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Common Enemy by Sandra Dailey





Common Enemy, by Sandra Dailey
Published 2014 by The Wild Rose Press

About the book (from Amazon):



Jordan Holbrook is the single mother of a five-year-old daughter. She's just inherited her grandmother's house in South Florida where she's hiding from an abusive ex-husband who's been released from prison early. A new man in her life isn't part of her plans.

Connor McCrae is a handyman who lives out of his van. He walked away from a privileged life and loving family after being badly scarred in a vicious attack. He doesn't believe a woman's love is in the cards for him.

They are brought together by a rundown house, a mutual attraction, and a common enemy: Bobby Ray Butler, who is cutting a path of murder and mayhem through south Florida in his quest for vengeance against his ex-wife.

Can Connor protect Jordan and her daughter from the enraged Bobby Ray? Can Jordan learn to trust men again? If anyone has a say in this--it's Connor.


MY TAKE:



Jordan Holbrook moves back to the small town where she grew up after the death of the grandmother who raised her. She's been on the move, staying away from her abusive ex-husband whom she turned in to the police after a particularly scary incident.

The house she and her daughter Lizzie inherit is a bit run down, so a neighbor recommends a handyman, a drifter, who has been doing work at his place. 

Connor McCrae wasn't always a drifter. After a mugger cut him up and left him for dead, Connors life spiraled downward. His wife left him, he suffered from PTSD, he couldn't focus on his job or much of anything. He found comfort in working with his hands and helping people.

When he shows up to assess Jordan's house, he finds more than he bargained for, both in the job at hand as well as the new boss. From the first meeting, he feels a connection to this woman and her cute five year old. But there's more to it than either of them could imagine. When he finds a photo of her abusive ex-husband, he realizes Bobby Ray is the same man who attacked him and sent his life on the roller coaster of the last several years.

And…the guy is about to get out of jail. Time served, paroled for good behavior. He wants revenge. And everyone's lives are about to get more than complicated.

Sandra Dailey has penned a suspenseful tale, full of intrigue, murder, and a truly evil bad guy in Bobby Ray Butler. (The chapters in his point of view made my skin crawl!) With surprising twists around every corner, this book will keep you turning pages until the end. At times, the romance seems forced, and some of the coincidences seem a little too serendipitous, but overall Ms. Dailey has written an intriguing tale and an enjoyable read.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cephalopod Coffeehouse BOOK REVIEW: SHIFT HAPPENS, by J.C. McKenzie

Once again, it's the last Friday of the month, time for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse (what other kind would a mermaid writer participate in?) This is a monthly round-up of the best books participants have read in the last month and want to recommend to others.

I've posted a lot of book reviews this month - some of it is a cheating kind of thing, as the reviews are for books I read on vacation in May! Some were ARCs and not yet available to the public and others I just didn't get to putting on the blog until recently, as they were sitting there on my iPad and oh yeah, I forgot about them!

The book I'm going to review and recommend, however, I did read in July. In two days, despite a hectic schedule, and grabbing reading time in the parking lots of various activities the kids were involved with (you know, tennis lessons, drama rehearsals, etc., etc.) The copy I read was an ARC from the author, but the book released this month and...

I LOVED IT. Love the voice, love the action, love the sexual tension between the main characters. LOVED. Can't wait for the release of book two!

About the Book (from Amazon):
Andrea McNeilly's job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire's human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can't afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.

Wick's job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.

Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.
MY TAKE:

The book starts out fast and quickly goes on from there, dragging us headlong into a future world where shifters, weres, vampires and all sorts of paranormals are officially "out" and people have learned to deal with it. Sort of. Andy McNeilly works for the government agency that polices the "supes" and takes out the baddies before things get ugly.

Things get ugly for Andy in the very first chapter.

As a shape shifter with more than one form, she is not the "normal" supe. She's never met another who can do what she does, and knows that different isn't good. She's a loner both by choice and by necessity. When her assignment goes bad and she's captured by a pack of werewolves, she's confronted by an overwhelming urge to join with the pack's alpha, Wick - despite having vowed to never trust another man ever again. Emotional conflict adds to the action and suspense, raising the stakes on everything.

The vampires aren't sparkly, but rather pure evil in Armani suits. The werewolves come in all stripes of temperament, and most shifters are defined by their chosen animals. As we go through the book with Andy (it's written in the kind of snarky first person voice I love), we experience life as a shifter and she throws in her abilities for the reader so it all feels "normal." She also discovers a few new abilities, and we're right there with her, in front row seats.

The author develops Wick's character slowly until the reader practically screams at Andy to just give in, trust him to be a good guy and do it already! Or wait, maybe that was just me screaming. Oops.

The unresolved sexual tension is palpable and keeps you turning pages at incredible speed. I loved the scenes between these two characters, and my heart went out to Andy in her conflicted desires and PTSD from her past. There was some of that past that I would've liked to see more clearly illustrated and defined, as in the conflict that sent her into the wilderness for years of recovery. But I'm hoping the author is saving more revelations for book two which is already under contract.

In short, if you enjoy paranormal with a giant side of snark, you need to grab this book and stuff it in your summer beach bag. A great read, a fun ride, and a truly enjoyable debut novel.


Now hop on over to the next blog and find another recommendation for your summer reading pleasure! Happy Summer Reading! Find the blog hop listing of participating bloggers HERE

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: INTERRED, by Marilyn Almodovar



Interred, by Marilyn Almodovar
Published 2013

About the Book (from Goodreads): 
Time has never been an issue for Baxter Jacobs, but then she never knew she had the ability to Bend it.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Baxter inherits a pendant that will change her life. Connected to the pendant is a dark and mysterious young man named Declan Ashdown. Trapped in a Time loop for the past 122 years, Declan needs Baxter’s help to escape. The only problem is, she has no idea how to do it.

To acquire the power she needs to free him, she’ll become one of the Interred, those whose Magical abilities emerge as they come of age. When she does, she’ll discover that Declan isn’t the only one interested in the fact that she’s a Time Bender.

As the Interment arrives, Baxter knows this will be no Sweet Sixteen. A vengeful relative and ruthless Council are determined to control her. Declan’s powerful and charming descendant, Jack Ashdown, claims he can save her. She’ll soon have to decide who she can trust, and how to master her new abilities before Time runs out.
MY TAKE: 

As Baxter Jacobs get close to her 16th birthday, strange things start happening. Her mother's cousin visits from England with news of her grandmother's passing, and news of inheritance.  As if meeting a relative she's never heard of wasn't strange enough, Baxter also sees a boy whom no one else can see, a boy she's seen once before, at her grandfather’s funeral.

The boy turns out to be a magical spirit, trapped in a loophole of time and tied to her family. Baxter is both drawn to him and repulsed by him, not sure of his true intentions.

Her family travels to England, where Baxter delves deeper into this world her mother once belonged to, and finds out her family legacy is a magical bloodline, part of an ancient race of beings who live alongside normal humans but wield different forms of magic. A coming of age ceremony will determine who wields certain gifts, and who is strong enough to survive the transition to adulthood.

If you enjoy magical time travel in an older YA story, this book makes for fun, fast reading. (I’m a huge time travel fan, so this was right up my alley.) It's not always clear who is good and who is evil, but you keep rooting for the heroine to figure out the twists before it’s too late.

The first of a series, the second book FISSURE came out earlier this year, so even though the book ends with unresolved cliffhangers, book two is available. And already in my beach bag.