The Book Gourmet

Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.



Professional Reader Reviews Published

Cold Memory by Leslie A. Kelly

Cold Memory (Extrasensory Agents) - Leslie A. A. Kelly

Mick Tanner has grown up in the carny community (not counting the few years in between living with his abusive grandfather that helped his gift of psycometry even worse), and now, as members of the community, members of his family, are falling victim of a brutal killer, there's nothing stopping him from helping the local chief of police, his childhood frenemy Gipsy Bell, to uncover the truth.

After two (almost) perfect books, this one was quite a disappointment. The premise was good, and the suspense awesome with the mystery of why the murderer was killing those he was killing, the voice in his head, his craziness, the way he killed...Unfortunately, the rest didn't contribute to the reading experience.

The pacing was slow thanks to many filler scenes that didn't lead anywhere and didn't contribute much to the story. The many characters were too many, stealing the thunder of the two leads, who actually made the romance much more believable than in the first two books, due to their past connection, but it, as everything else good in the story, was pushed to the sidelines by everything else (the plethora of characters, side-stories, and filler scenes).

I also have to admit, I could've done without Mick's story, since I never "connected" with him in the previous two books, making him my least favorite Extrasensory agent. I'm certainly looking forward to Derek's book...and Julia's too, even though I'm skeptical how someone can compare to her ghost.

Cold Touch by Leslie A. Kelly

COLD TOUCH: Extrasensory Agents Book 2 - Leslie A. Kelly

Twelve years ago, Olivia Wainwright was kidnapped from her bed, held for ransom and drowned. One hundred and thirty seconds she was revived by her captor’s other captive, a small, malnourished boy named Jack, and hasn’t been the same since.

In the present, a structural fire has revealed human remains, a small skeleton hidden behind a drywall for the past twelve years, and thanks to a police sketch, Olivia knows the skeleton belongs to her little savior, the boy she’s spent the past twelve years searching for.

The least she can do now, is find out what happened to him, and bring his killer to justice.

I loved this new installment in this series. A great mix of romance (still a rather quick development, but somehow it worked), drama, paranormal and thriller. Because there was no “pussy” suspense in this book, it jumped right into the thriller realm with a villain with no space left in his head (if you want to know what I mean, you’ll have to read the book, and if you're anything like me, you won’t be sorry).

This time it was the heroine that worked for the Extrasensory Agents, and what a special ability the chick had. Olivia could touch dead remains and know exactly what happened in the last two minutes and ten seconds of that person’s life. Stuff of nightmares, you’d think. And you’d be right.
Lucky for our girl, she met a man. The right man. A tough cop with a heart of gold and a weakness for this redhead with green eyes and a strange affinity to death.
And she wasn’t just lucky to meet him for her peace of mind, but for her own well-being as well.

You know what the problem with Ms. Kelly’s books is? I cannot talk/write/rant about them without revealing spoilers, so I find it really hard to gush about how much I love her books without revealing too much. And it’s tough to gush when people don’t know what you’re gushing about…

I’ll keep it brief and simple. If you like your reading material to have a lovely mix of genres (equal amount of each), great pacing (although once more not so smooth on the re-read, maybe due to some added scenes), wonderful characters, thrilling suspense, intense tension, chillingly delicious villains, amazing chemistry, tight plot lines, and twists and turns galore, this is the book for you. Despite its “predictability” (I’m not talking about page-to-page know-it-all, but the certainty of a happy ending) it was decidedly unpredictable.
I’ve grown weary of books where you can see everything that’s about to happen from a few scenes before, know the identity of the villain when he/she first makes an appearance etc. Cold Touch kept me on my toes and on the edge of my seat. And that twist (not the accomplice one, because I saw that one coming!) toward the end really threw me. Was it necessary? Yes, to solve the mystery, but that could’ve been solved without that particular sacrifice. And I would’ve loved to see two happy endings instead of one, but it wasn’t meant to be.
I’m not saying that final twist ruined the book for me, because it didn’t, it just added another layer to the whole story, I’m just saying I could’ve done happily without it. But then, we wouldn’t have an “interesting” epilogue. ;) Hopefully, we’ll see how that evolves.

Cold Sight by Leslie A. Kelly

COLD SIGHT: Extrasensory Agents Book 1 - Leslie A. Kelly

Granville, Georgia is plagued by a serial killer...Or is it? When reporter Lexie Nolan ran the story of several teenage girl gone missing, she was shut down, and almost lost her job, while the chief of police and all the prominent citizens claimed the missing teens were just runaways. Especially since they were from the “bad part of town”.

Well, the Ghoul, as some have dubbed the presumed serial killer, has struck again. This time kidnapping a girl from the bad part of town going to school in the good part of town. The police and the public can no longer hide from the truth...Or can they? Just to be sure, Lexie enlists the help of Aidan McConnell, a psychic investigator ran out of Savannah after a case gone bad, resulting in the death of a child. It’s tough getting him on board, but once he’s hooked, there’s no chance he won’t see this through.

But someone doesn’t want Lexie and Aidan poking around. Because something is obviously wrong in this quaint little town, something that just might put the serial killer to shame with its darkness and longevity. Because Granville reeks of dark secrets, and the serial killer just might expose them all.

Though this is categorized as romantic suspense, I’d say this is more along the lines of a thriller with some (rather strong) romantic undertones. It was dark, compelling, chilling, edgy, intriguing, a little sick (especially in that basement and clubhouse), and a lot twisted. I thought Ms. Parrish’s Black CATs trilogy was dark, but it has nothing on this book. Also, the Black CATs stories were sort of 50-50 on romance and suspense, while here the percentage was highly in favor of the suspense.

The driving force, at least for me, wasn’t the “less-exposed” romance, though it played a major role, bringing Lexie and Aidan together, binding them, creating a powerful team, it wasn’t the aforementioned two leads, it wasn’t even the twisted killer or the sick and dark “little town secret”, it was the strong, determined, unbreakable personality of the Ghoul’s latest victim, Yvonne “Vonnie” Jackson. Though a secondary character, relegated into the role of the victim, she was the glue that brought everything together, she was the catalyst for this story, and its true heart.
The reader gets to know the killer, observe her prison through her eyes, experiences everything as she experiences it, and has no choice but admire the strength of her character, her determination to get free no matter what, her stubborn refusal to let the villain win. And it is also her slight connection to Aidan that pulls him into the investigation, gets him to trust Lexie, makes him forget all his misgivings and self-doubt, and dive into the case head-on. Yes, the killer started it all by kidnapping her, but it was Vonnie that drove the story forward.
Ms. Kelly did an amazing job in creating such a realistic character and giving her the opportunity to (almost) outshine the leads. Despite everything, to me, this was more Vonnie’s story than anything else.

Not that I didn’t love the romance subplot. Far from it. The sparks between Lexie and Aidan flew from the get-go, the tension and attraction was almost palpable and it was just a matter of time before they both gave in. Their “psychic” connection gave their story a little otherworldly feel (and a little "explanation" to the rushed-in feeling, but still it retained an elusive believability. Marvelously done.
The same goes for the main suspense arc. The killer was deliciously twisted, a complete psycho with a sadistic streak a mile wide, but it was still a true pleasure to read, and the villain’s identity remained a secret until Ms. Kelly decided to reveal it, which was a nice respite from the usual suspense fare where the bad guy is obvious from the first chapter.
The “Hellfire Club” sub-sub-plot was sick and twisted as well, though the resolution was rather lacking, but maybe we haven’t seen the end of the Club just yet. Here’s hoping.

And now to the whole series stuff. Unlike many first-book-in-a-series books, this one wasn’t rife with world building and introductions of characters, but instead provided mere tidbits of the characters’ pasts and abilities, but that was enough to get to know them and whet the reader’s appetite for more. I’m already itching to read more about the EA investigative team and their abilities.

Lastly, despite the “darkness”, I don’t think this is a “mood book”, having to read it when the mood is just right. You can pick it up at any time, it’ll pull you in from the first page and won’t spit you out until the very end. Even when a scene was a bit too much to take and I wanted to put it down, I simply couldn’t. Something compelled me to keep reading, although the pacing was a bit slower on the re-read.

I also liked the short story in the end, about Aidan's first meeting Julia and getting “invited” into the Extrasensory Agents team.

The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

The Defiant Hero - Suzanne Brockmann

The story within a story within a story got old the first time around. This time, it was already smelly and shriveled.

Is it so hard to keep it simple? The present-time suspense would've been great in itself, the Meg-Nils and Eve-Amy storylines would've kept the pace going until they "united". But no, we had to have the Sam-Alyssa shindig, which seemed redundant and will apparently drag on in this series for quite some time, and then we had to have the grandma tell her WWII stories, and then we had to have the more recent flashbacks about Meg and Nils "relationship".

The pacing was shot to smithereens, the characters weren't that interesting to begin with (and the hero was too cocky for my taste), the romance wasn't (that) believable...And I was bored before the half mark.

Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose

Every Dark Corner (The Cincinnati Series) - Karen Rose

A week after being shot in Alone in the Dark, and after three years spent deep undercover in a drug- and human-trafficking ring, Special Agent Griffin "Decker" Davenport, wakes up from a medically induced come, determined to tell someone the last important information he'd heard before his cover was blown. That someone happens to be Special Agent Kate Coppola, who's spent the week by his side, listening to his tapes, talking to him, and knitting.

But someone doesn't want Decker to wake up and spilling secrets, despite not knowing just what secrets the agent knows. As far as this shadowy figure is concerned, Davenport is just another loose ends in need of snipping, but luck, or the Amazon warrior of the female agent by his side, won't allow Decker to be snuffed so easily, and soon more and more loose ends appear.

It's up to Decker, Kate and the rest of the Cincinnati crew to tie the loose ends together, and maybe finally unravel the mystery.

Karen Rose remains one of my favorite suspense authors. Although everything happens during the span of just a few days, there's just so much going on, so many side-plots that end up tying up together in the end, propelling the main plot forward, that make the reader "loose the sense of time", making the story appear to happen during a much longer period.

This last installment in her loosely connected "main" series with old characters, or loose ends popping up from time to time, is no different. Well-structured, tightly-plotted, and with a spot-on pacing that is deceptively slow while building momentum for that last desperate dash toward the finishing line, it nicely ties into the previous book, finishing off where it began, tying up those few loose ends that have been plaguing the FBI and CPD for the past week (in book time) and this reader for the past year.

The topic was still horrifyingly chilling, the dealing with the case and its ramifications, especially for the victims, but not less so for the investigators, vividly portrayed with an uncanny realism that prevented the book, despite it being fiction, from descending into sensationalism or "flowery" prose.
This topic is real, things like that do happen, and although not everybody can be saved, those few who can be do count, and the stress and toll it takes on the investigators (be it by having to watch videos that make them die inside every time they do, having to inform a grieving family of the truth, having to dig for and uncover remains, or haying to accept the fact the trail got cold and they never will have the answer or justice for the victims) should not be trivialized. In her books Ms Rose doesn't trivialize or patronize, but offers a realistic, and because of that sometimes horrifying, view of fictionalized (in terms of her books) events that could very well be real (and sometimes are, although reality has a tendency to be even more horrifyingly brutal).

I like her voice, I like her style, and I like her stories because they make you think about the world outside of your own little cushy "reality".

And yes, I like how she writes her characters. Leading and secondary ones. There's depth, there are layers, there are deep (or not so) seated issues, there are scars, and there are (dark) pasts. It's what makes her characters realistic, what makes them so similar to a person one can encounter walking down the street everyday. Yes, the characters are fictitious, but they're not superhuman, they don't have super powers, they're breakable like us. They're human.
I especially liked the humanity in our present hero, Decker. The guy was built like a Sherman tank, he was growly and grouchy, but he had a tender streak a mile wide, a strong protective instinct, and he wasn't ashamed of letting his feelings show (Diesel being right there along for the ride, and I can't wait to read his book, which will hopefully be written soon).
And, as is her uncanny ability to do, Ms Rose offered Decker the perfect heroine in the form, style, and spunky, yet vulnerable despite her better judgment, of Kate Coppola. I liked her in previous books as a supporting character, Deacon Novak's best friend, but I loved her in her own book. I loved seeing behind her tough facade to the woman she was underneath, the woman Decker brought to the forth.
And their romance, despite happening in a blink of an eye (read about the timeline above), worked. Yes, they were both starved of touch, starved for affection, but it didn't feel just physical, I could see them slowly developing feelings for one another, how those feelings deepened and grew (which isn't easy to write, judging from what I've been reading lately), but I especially liked that they didn't fight it, but accepted it and took it in stride.
Less drama, angst and "romantic" conflict leave more time for the actual plot.

Another wonderful book.

The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

The Unsung Hero - Suzanne Brockmann

Lieutenant Tom Paoletti is in trouble. His recent head injury has resulted in spells of dizziness and obvious paranoia, since he’s been seeing a dead terrorist all over Baldwin’s Ridge. Which makes no sense whatsoever. Then there’s his great-uncle’s best friend who’s dying from cancer, and the man’s daughter, who, even after sixteen years, still makes Tom’s heart go pitter-pat.

I got the ARC for latest in this series from NetGalley, and I decided, OCD person that I am, to read the entire series, which has been on my TBR pile for ages, first.

And I must say, I was rather disappointed by how it all turned out. The prologue was great. Action-packed, humor-packed, intensity skyrocketing...And then it all slowed down too much for my liking. The mystery/suspense sub-plot about the terrorist and maybe him being just a figment of Tom’s paranoia, was good, but it was resolved a tad too quickly and nicely in the end, while being pushed to the sidelines too often in the middle by the two side-stories; war-torn France (which provided an answer to two old men bickering, but also slowed everything down even more) and the romance between Tom’s niece and her geeky, graphic-novelist college student (which was dull and slowed the story flow down almost to a stop).

The romance between Tom and Kelly had much to be desired as well, since I didn’t really buy the I-love-you thing. They had the friends deal down pat, they could’ve even pulled off the friends-with-benefits ploy if it wasn’t for the pesky need of a romance.

Too much redundancy, too slow, too uneventful. Let’s see what the next one brings.


Paying Daddy's Debt by Alexa Riley

Paying Daddy's Debt - Alexa Riley

What did I just read?

Insta-what? Because it wasn't love. At least not to me. A guy buys the girl (much younger, I presume) because he decides she was his at first glance (while she was in a school-girl uniform, because she hasn't yet finished high-school), the girl (a virgin) is suddenly overcome with desire for the guy she's never met because he's given her comfort and security and goes for it on the first night. He wears no condom, because he wants her to her pregnant (yet another shackle), while spouting off flowery (empty) phrases about her bringing light into his life.

Jesus! Talk about a big-boy fantasy come to life. Are we sure this is written by a woman (or two)? I'm far from being a feminist, but I must say this offended me a little. Not the language, not the sex scenes, but the story itself (read above). Are women really just a man's plaything, a possession bought with money (literally in this case), a little TLC and a big schlong?
The poor stupid naive girl had no choice in the matter. I wonder how the wonderful, princely Alpha male would react if she dared oppose him? He did carry a baseball bat in his trunk "just in case".

I spent half the pages laughing at the flowery prose and half rolling my eyes at the utter idiocy I was reading. Yes, it was short, but still an utter waste of time.

This is the first story by this author, and also my last. I liked the cover, though.

Her Mother's Keeper by Nora Roberts

Her Mother's Keeper (Language of Love #20 - Pansy) - Nora Roberts

Gwen comes back home to Louisiana to end her mother's affair with a writer who she thinks is merely using her, and ends up falling for the guy herself.

A premise (and plot) that could be solved with a single conversation (between mother and daughter or the hero coming clean from the start), an idiotic heroine that thinks she's all that but in the end really is just a child, and a story so paper thin it was laughable.
I rolled my eyes at the dialogues, I rolled my eyes at the heroine's inner monologues...

This certainly hasn't aged well.

Pushing the Limit by Emmy Curtis

Pushing the Limit - Emmy Curtis

Henrietta “Harry” Markowitz lost her husband seven years ago, and although not emotionally, she’s moved on in every other way. Danny was the love of her life, she knows she’ll never love again, but that doesn’t make her dead or incapable of feeling sexual attraction. And on her friend’s wedding, she’s found the perfect candidate for scratching the itch.

Senior Master Sergeant Matt Stanning has left his former occupation of finding and getting rid of explosive devices behind after losing his best friend to one of them in the Iraqi desert. Now he’s tasked with retrieving fellow soldiers that were taken prisoner or killed in action and reuniting them with their families. But the death of his best friend still haunts him, and the only way to forget is in the arms of a willing female or with a bottle of JD (or maybe both).
But there is one woman who’s remained in his memory for the past three months. Henrietta who let him touch her and touched him in return only to disappear from his life.

Now she’s back, or he’s back in her life, due to her archaeological discovery in the Iraqi desert, and neither Harry nor Matt find anything wrong with resuming their fling...Until Matt discovers Harry is his dead best friend’s wife. Which is quickly pushed to the side, since someone is determined to do whatever it takes to get their hands on whatever Harry found in the desert.

While Dangerous Territory was great, and Over the Line not so much, but it still had its moments, this third installment in this series lacked even those moments.

I disliked the merry widow heroine with her emotional cripple-ness and blindness to what was really going on in her head and in her heart. Not to mention her almost TSTL tendency of refusing to budge as the hero was trying to keep her safe from whatever was coming. I was rather ambivalent toward the hero, empathizing on one side, disliking him on the other. His issues could’ve been solved by talking to someone (as his friend did), and refusing to solve anything brought him to where he was, in love with his best friend’s wife, and guilty about it.
The romance was non-existent, where I’m concerned. I didn’t see or feel that they actually had any sort of romantic feelings for each other (due to their mutual issues about the dead guy), and although the sex scenes weren’t as prevalent as in the previous book they still sounded hollow, just the characters scratching their itches and going through the motions with no feelings behind their actions.

Speaking of action, it left me utterly cold and uninterested. It could be because of yet more fillers between the “meatier” scenes, or maybe I simply didn’t care what happened to or between the two leads, hence the mystery, suspense and action didn’t really touch any “nerves”.

Instead of a book or a story, this came across as merely words.

Over the Line by Emmy Curtis

Over the Line (Alpha Ops Series Book 2) - Emmy Curtis

Eight months after saving her life in Afghanistan, and finally home himself, James Walker feels it's time he made his move on Beth Garcia, the woman he's been salivating over while they were deployed together. A rock-climbing weekend is pretty harmless as far as seduction goes, but he'll be killing two birds with one stone—make a pass (or more) on Beth and avoid his sister's wedding.

Then a call from his younger sister comes, and James knows it's all over. He'll have to go to the wedding, and brave his parents...But maybe, if Beth tags along, say, as his fiancée, she could keep the vultures at bay, and he could still make a pass (or more).

This story starts with the ambush in Dangerous Territory when Beth is injured and James saves her life. But there any similarities between the books end. While the aforementioned first book in this series had everything going on for it—tight plot, great writing, good pacing, great characters, danger, nail-biting action...this one didn't.

I loved the first and last few chapters, but it was everything in between that dropped the ball. From the voice, the drop in pacing, and even the narrative style in some scenes, it looked like this book was written by two different authors. The beginning and the end were well-structured, well-paced, the characters were likeable and adult-like, while in the middle it all came apart at the seams.

Beth, the strong, confident, self-assured Army Sergeant of a heroine, apparently shed all that with her uniform the minute she stepped foot in James' parent's house, and started acting like a teenager, hiding things, doubting things, not asking questions and not talking (which seems to be the crucial thing in this story) to the hero, who also suffered a slight character transplant in the middle of the story.
The second biggest problem was, as mentioned before, the feel the majority of the chapters were written by someone else. In Dangerous Territory Emmy Curtis excelled in making her characters shine both individually and as a "couple" while under a stressful situation. It was the same in the first chapter of this book (still set in Afghanistan), but as the stress of a danger zone wore off and then disappeared all together with the change of setting, the great writing blinked off. And only reappeared in the end (once again set in Afghanistan only not under a stressful situation), where the two leads once more became their "true" characters from the beginning of the story. I loved those two chapters set in Afghanistan (the last one being my favorite, because it was just so sweeeet). I wanted more of such well-written chapters, damn it!

And the third problem, also as mentioned before, was the pacing. Any slower and it would've been going backwards. The book was rife with fillers. Dialogue, inner musing and dialogues, scenes...The sex scenes were particularly filler-ish. I admit I liked Beth and James better when in the throes of their unresolved sexual tension, poised on the precipice only to be interrupted (or as James so eloquently put it "cockblocked by his own sister"). As soon as they made the plunge (literally), their "love" scene became formulaic without much feeling, just two characters going through the motions. And it got from bad to worse. Once the sex scenes become dull and boring, and you end up skimming the pages or skipping them altogether just to get things moving a little faster, you know you're in trouble.

This story would definitely have worked better as a novella, by keeping the beginning and end, trimming the unnecessary fillers, tightening the plot (the mystery sub-plot was so diluted by the mundane going on around it, I almost forgot there was a mystery) and keeping the "original" characters.
Its length was this story's killer.

My reading habits...

1. Do you have a certain place in your home for reading? No.


2. Bookmark or random piece of paper? Bookmark.


3. Can you  just stop reading or do you have to stop read after a chapter / certain number of pages? I usually stop at the end of a chapter. (I mostly stop at the end of the book. ^_^)


4. Do you eat or drink while read? No.


5. Multitasking: music or TV while reading? Not necessarily.


6. One book at a time or several at once? One book at a time.


7. Reading at home or everywhere? Everywhere.


8. Reading out loud or silently in your head? Silently in my head.


9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages? Not unless the story is really bad.


10. Barking the spine or keeping it like new? Trying to keep it as new.


11. Do you write in your books? Never!

Dangerous Territory by Emmy Curtis

Dangerous Territory - Emmy Curtis

Grace Grainger has spent the last four years of her life between the Four Seasons hotel in D.C. and Afghanistan. Now, on her fourth deployment as an embedded reporter with the American troops, she’s come to know danger up close as their convoy is attacked, she doesn’t make it to the rescue helicopter, and is suddenly huddled in a cave in the middle of nowhere with Air Force Master Sergeant Josh Travers...The man she spent the last three years thinking and dreaming about.

It’s always a good feeling when an impulse buy pays off. And this one payed off magnificently. Yes, it was short, but it packed quite a punch with wonderful, well-developed characters, a perfect-for-the-big-screen (or book, in this case) romance, just the right amount of drama, tension and danger, and some scorching hot sex (both in a cave and a hut in a remote Afghan village).

As said, both Grace and Josh were great characters, realistic, multi-dimensional, and very nicely layered, and their interactions together spanned the emotional spectrum from hot to cold, from happy to sad and everything in between, but with that unmistakable layer of bitter-sweet underneath it all. I wished for them to actually talk things through, her telling him the truth about her writing and true purpose for being in Afghanistan for him to finally get over his animosity toward her as a reporter, and I was disappointed it didn’t actually happened, and the author chose the “easier” fix of him reading one of her articles.
And I kept hoping for a HEA, and I must admit, although this is a romance novel, Ms Curtis had me doubting things for a moment toward the end...The end that could’ve been cheesy, but strangely wasn’t. It was a rather “easy” ending, but with such a feel-good vibe, it brought a smile to my face.

This story was just up my alley. Nicely structured, well-paced, with great characters, and a romance that truly shone through. Loved it.

"It is my duty as a pararescueman to save lives and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts. These things I do, that others may live."

Uneasy Alliance by Jayne Ann Krentz

Uneasy Alliance - Jayne Ann Krentz

Some people have complained that this story hasn’t aged well. But, beside the “archaic” dialogue or two, I would politely disagree. Yes, the hero, Torr, was a jackass. Overbearing, dominant, possessive, didn’t take no for an answer when he knew what he wanted or thought he knew what was right. A very Alpha hero. If this story was written twenty or thirty years later as a paranormal, no one would even arch an eyebrow. But I guess, as long as the hero is some ancient immortal being (be it vampire or Alpha shapeshifter), his overbearing nature is oh-so hot and oh-so right. But if it’s a romance written in the eighties, the hero suddenly becomes a Neanderthal and whatever he does to the heroine is borderline rape.

I’d say it was the contrast with the heroine’s character, that made Torr out worse than he actually was. She was a doormat most of the time, letting him do whatever he pleased despite all her protestations about disliking overbearing men. It was her character, contrasting so starkly with his, that made me want to smack him with a cast-iron pan. A good two-handed grip and let loose.
But once the story started rolling, and especially in the end, when it became clear Abby had clear TSTL tendencies, I actually apologized to Torr (in my mind) for wanting to bash him with that pan. No wonder he was the way he was, asserting his will all over the place, telling her what to do and how to do it, determined to protect her no matter what...Because she didn’t know better. She was a flake, all over the place with her vitamins and her I-know-better, I’m-a-woman-and-won’t-be-dictated-to attitude. In the end, I actually felt sorry for the guy.

So, no, the rating has little to do with the hero, quite a lot to do with the heroine (she annoyed me more and more as the story progressed), but mostly the low rating is because the story itself is redundant. The blackmailing scheme could be solved with one simple phone call.
Idiotic premise, redundant story, stilted pacing, annoying heroine, jackass hero...Did I miss anything?

The Devil's Submission by Nicola Davidson

The Devil's Submission - Nicola Davidson

After the first book in the series, this one was quite a disappointment for me. I simply hate miscommunication stories, because they're a cheap way of creating conflict, and everything can be resolved by a mere conversation.

In this one, six months of estrangement, and two people feeling inferior and inadequate could be solved by the same two people actually talking to each other...And when they finally did, it was almost too late, and still not enough, since the heroine had to go to a third party to actually find out how to please her husband. An idiotic husband that feared revulsion and ostracism because of his sexual preferences and practices...Hello? Aren't you the owner of one third of the most scandalous and talked-about sex club in London? In the regency period? And you're afraid, people will shun you because you want your wife to hurt you during bed play?

And the entire story stood on this wobbly and weak premise. Is it any wonder I was disappointed?

Vows of Silence by Debra Webb

Vows Of Silence (Signature Select) - Debra Webb


Every single character acted like an idiot...If you don't want people to suspect, don't act like you have something to hide. Simple. If you want to know who of your friends (BTW, with such friends, who needs enemies?) killed the guy, ask, don't just assume, and do find out who did it, before you go stupid and dispose of the body. And if a sexy cop, who you know has been crushing on you since high-school, offers his help, take it.
But no, let's all act like idiots, let's suspect each other, which will only get us killed one by one.

I have no idea how I made it through this mess of a story. The only redeeming quality was the suspense, and even that one was ruined by the end of it with the killer not actually being the killer, and the real killer not actually meaning to kill.

It was all over the place. And I hated it.

Secret Star by Nora Roberts

Secret Star  - Nora Roberts

Grace Fontaine is dead, tumbled face-first on her coffee table, and Seth Buchanan is determined to find out who did it and why. He suspects the why has a lot to do with the three blue diamonds, the Stars of Mithra, someone is determined to acquire at all cost, it's the "someone" that's elusive...The Grace Fontaine suddenly appears in her house, alive and well, pointing a gun at him, and Seth knows, he just knows, he's in trouble...

I'm sorry to say, this was the weakest of the bunch. Not bad, far from it, in fact, just not as good as the first two stories in the trilogy. Mostly because of the two leads, neither of whom I particularly liked. She was a mystery, playing different parts, wearing different masks depending on the occasion, but I didn't like the mask she wore when she met Buchanan for the second time, and it festered, I think. On the other hand, he was too aloof, too "uptight", and too closed-off for me. There was just something off-putting about his character...And hers for that matter.
Thanks to all this, it was tough buying the romance, despite the fact it was better done that in the previous two books. Better in the sense that the two of them didn't just take it at face value, they tried to put the breaks on, think it through, instead of just accepting it and everything else be damned.
But this aspect of the romance, as much as I liked the pragmatism of it, the suspicion and the doubt, was also the worst of it, because it created unnecessary conflict, and made me dislike both of them even more. I'm fickle, what can I say.

Also, the mystery and suspense that we've been teased with since the start of this trilogy, was too easily resolved, and the slight paranormal angle, instead of smoothing things over, offering a "plausible" explanation, came across as an easy fix, as if wanting to sweep things under the rug and be done with it. Too quick and much too easy.

The rest was top-notch as always, but unfortunately the trilogy didn't end on a bang as it started. Pity.