Menagerie

by Lara Santiago – 2  Stars 

#21 for the SFR Challenge

Just okay. The writing was kind of stilted. The first half of the book was a little draggy. After she began to have problems in the second half of the book, my interest level picked up. There was quite a bit of sex in the story but it wasn’t particularly hot or memorable. Sex isn’t plot though and this story needed more plot. As I mentioned, the second half of the book had a lot more tension because there was more going on in the pages than just bed hopping. The sci fi element was okay if a little hokey but there was quite a bit of potential which was not fully developed.

Big spoiler below, read only after you’ve read the book.

[ if each of these men were actually just a different part of Dominick’s personality, why did none of them love her as much as Dominick did? I’d be pretty irate if I found out that some part of him was saying that he didn’t want to stay with her (Mark) or that he didn’t find her physically to his taste (Hauser)

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Nice Suspense, Not a Romance

Blood Ties – Sharon Sala

3 Stars

Expected publication May 31 2011

I know that Borders, where I work, will put this in the romance section with the rest of Sharon Sala’s books.  This was a good book but it wasn’t a romance.   I might have scored it higher than 3 stars if I hadn’t been expecting a romance.  Like Ms. Sala’s last series, it’s the second in a trilogy where all the books run concurrently. Savannah has come to Miami to claim her inheritance and bring her birth father’s murderer to justice. You know from the beginning who the murderer is and the story follows Savannah as she attempts to bring him/them to justice.

The plot is fairly tight and the writing is fast paced and exciting as far as the suspense goes. The romance element might as well not be there. She has an almost fiance when the books starts and they totally love each other and that doesn’t change throughout the story. Savannah is well developed as a character. The hero, if you can call Judd that, because really he’s just a supporting character and they spend very little time together, is not at all well developed. In fact, near the end of the book we find out his age and I thought really? I totally had no clue and it was something that made you wonder how their relationship came about in the first place. You don’t know how they met, how they got together, what they had in common, etc.

So, not a romance.

The secondary characters are well drawn. Even the villians are multi dimensional, not just over the top caricatures. That was particularly enjoyable for me. I enjoyed it as suspense, but would have been disappointed had I picked this up in the romance section of the bookstore looking for a love story. I will however, definitely read the next one in the series as I always enjoy Ms. Sala’s writing style.

This book was provided for me free from netGalley and the publisher (Harlequin) for review.

Only Workmanlike

One Night, Two Heirs

by Maureen Child

Expected Publication July 5th, 2011

2 Stars

Sometimes category romances from Harlequin can be amazing and transcend their genre.  Sadly this was not one of those times.  This book could best be described as workmanlike I suppose.

There wasn’t much to this book really. It wasn’t poorly written but it wasn’t stand out writing either. The characterization was light. Motivations for the secret child aspect were not good. When the hero did come home and learn of his twins, the heroine didn’t want to marry him if he didn’t love her. Fair enough. He wanted to marry her for the sake of the girls but was determined not to love the heroine.  His motivation for deciding he wouldn’t love again was weird.  He didn’t want to love anyone because his buddy’s last words were “Tell my wife I love her.” That somehow love wasn’t worth it because you’d just die and someone would end up hurt. WTF? Isn’t that what happens even when say your Grandmother dies?

There was some misunderstanding because he didn’t tell her something that he totally would/should have told her considering the previous set up for this element in the story. That kind of manipulation just irks me.

There was random throw in of POV from the heroine’s brother that was totally obvious as a set up for the next book. I don’t mind setting up for the next book but this had absolutely nothing to do with the present book. Shenanigans I say.

The twins were not yet three and were written age appropriately. The love scenes were fairly well done. Although really, unprotected sex again? No lessons learned?

I was provided this free to review from Netgalley.

Romantic Suspense Done Right

Breaking Point (I-Team, #5)

by Pamela Clare

5 stars 

I wish I could give this more than 5 stars. Exactly what a romantic suspense should be. Fast exciting action that never lets down. Romance that develops throughout the story in a logical way. Good balance of both elements. Both characters grew during the course of the book. He learned to forgive himself for something that happened in his military career and learned he was worth loving and she learned that she was stronger than she had known, she learned to let the past go and love again.

The action was realistic and made sense, utilizing an underused but very topical setting of the US/Mexican border and the drug trafficking etc., there. The hero was an ex SEAL and he was shown doing his stuff but he wasn’t a superman. I’m glad that the military type action all made sense and I could buy it and didn’t have to shake my head and suspend my disbelief. And thank goodness the plot did not depend on the hero having to save the heroine from TSTL mistakes. She was sensible throughout. The research the author did showed clearly. It was great to see the hero being a US Marshall. I even learned some stuff.

The romance was very well done. These two people were fully developed and were a perfect match for each other. The love scenes were some of the hottest I’ve read and the reason they were hot was because yes, we all know Tab A Slot B, but the feelings the two had for each other was a large part of the hotness. You never felt that the sex was gratuitous. They seemed to me to be written differently than any I’ve seen before. They used proper terminology for body parts and the descriptions and dialog were just different enough that it all felt fresh and new.

Plenty of appearances from the rest of the I-Team members.

The writing was tight. No unnecessary words. You knew what the characters were thinking without rolling around in their heads ad nauseam. The descriptions were great. Nothing was vague. You were never left wondering where your characters were or exactly what they were doing in relation to themselves, each other and the environment. There were some places especially near the end that you could almost see.

If you like romantic suspense and you’re not reading Pamela Clare, you are doing yourself a disservice.