Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.
Joaquin Ramirez, I-Team's resident photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner, arrives at a supposed-homicide-with-body-disappearance scene, only to be met with anger by a bystander. Turns out, the woman knows the victim and is the last one to have seen the man alive.
Mia Starr dislikes photojournalists. She's seen first hand, what an unscrupulous photo bug can do to get a story, but Joaquin seems to be different, and quickly turns out to be different, since he puts her first instead of the story.
Someone is killing former soldiers and trying to pin it to Mia, and Joaquin is there to help her out. And when the killer with the grudge turns on her, it's Joaquin to stand there, between her and a bullet.
A month after the hostage situation at a Christmas party, the I-Team is back in the thick of it. This time it's Joaquin's turn to shine, and to save the day.
I never really thought about Joaquin as a main protagonist. He had sidekick and friend written all over him in the other books. I'm glad, though, I got to see this other side of him. Looks like I underestimated him, and let's face it, side by side with Julian, Marc or Zach, he didn't stand a chance.
But in his story, the hero side of him came out, alongside the salsa-dancing, and yeah, I could understand Mia perfectly. ;) He was tender and gentle when he needed to be, determinedly protective, and definitely heroic there toward the end of the book. A truly wonderful hero.
His heroine, Mia, was an acquired taste, with her idiosyncrasies and all her contradictions and insecurities. It took a special kind of man to show her just who and what she truly was.
I didn't really buy their rushed romance, but I'm glad they found each other in the end.
The villain also had much to be desired, although the big reveal as to his identity came as a surprise (I certainly didn't see it coming); his motive left me scratching my head&mdas;why go after all those people, instead of just focusing on Mia?
But the suspense was gripping and served as a nice little catalyst for the two protagonists to meet and for the "romance" to bloom.
The characters were great as always (I loved all the "cameos", and it's always a pleasure seeing Julian and Marc in action, complete with marital spats and bickering), the pacing spot-on, the writing superb...This one is definitely one of my favorite series.
***ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley***
Rebecca Lindt, Long Acre survivor, and Wesley Garrett, former chef and recovering alcoholic after his nasty divorce, meet (again) in a stressful situation. She's about to get mugged and panicking, having flashbacks, as he runs to her rescue. The attraction is instantaneous, but there's just one little problem—she's the divorce attorney who helped his ex ruin him...Plus, there are both their issues, her demons, his addictive personality...So what should the two do? Give it a shot, of course.
Like its predecessor, this one was a straight-up romance. There were no dead bodies, no villains (well, maybe her dad for a second toward the end), and no mysteries or investigations. Just two regular people, albeit with loads and loads of problems, issues, and inner demons, experiencing regular human drama and emotions.
And I liked it. I liked that I didn't have to "think" much during the story. It was straightforward, poignant, realistic and normal.
The characters were wonderful, well-developed, and nicely layered, the plot itself had some pretty heavy pondering moments, the romance might've felt a bit rushed, but it somehow worked giving both characters, and the conflicts were (thankfully) pretty quickly and easily resolved.
Though I found the heroine somewhat annoying in her rather self-centered guilt and her nobody-loves-me-and-those-who-might-don't-really-know-me-so-I-better-push-them-away-just-to-be-safe mentality. It started to really get old as the story progressed, but lucky for her (and the reader) there was her hero, Wes, to set her straight and make her see reason.
The pacing wasn't perfect, yet the story flew nicely, the writing was great, and the humor provided that needed levity.
This was a story of regular people going through normal human stuff and emotions, a story of (self)forgiveness, (self)discovery and growth, showing us everything clicks into place when the time is right and (if) you let it.
The president of the United States faces impeachment whispers as he refuses to answer one important question; did he or did he not contact a terrorist threatening the US? But before he can answer that question in front of Congress, the leader of the free world goes missing.
DNF @ 34%
Needless to say, this book does not feature the current president.
Regardless, I couldn't finish it. I stopped just when the author(s) started on their I'm-the-president-from-Independence-Day fantasy (you know, kicking terrorist ass, saving the world, yadda-yadda-yadda).
Still, I could've borne even that if the book wasn't so goddamn slow. Nothing really happened until bullets started flying (just when I stopped reading), it was too slow, too wordy, did I mention it was slow?
And the fact the president bits were written in the first person POV (while the rest wasn't) provided just one more proof of the living out the aforementioned fantasy, while also making for a rather jarring reading experience.
Or maybe I simply wasn't in the mood for such a book.
The serial killer, known as the Tailor, has struck again. Three bodies in a span of just two weeks after three years of silence...
Ethan Manning knows the killer is escalating and he needs a task force. Fast. What he gets is one single forensic profiler that brings back memories both good and bad...
This series is now so far removed from the first few installments (which I loved), that I can barely believe it.
Bland characters with zero chemistry, a predictable (and unnecessary, in my opinion) conflict between the two leads, plodding pacing, and a very uninteresting villain.
A huge disappointment.
After taking a fatal bullet to the chest, Bowen Adrian Knight wakes up deep under the ocean, with a mechanical heart in his chest and a still ticking bomb in his brain. The chip he's had implanted to ward off Psy telepathic attacks is still malfunctioning and still threatening to blow up his brain when it finally gives.
But a BlackSea scientist has maybe found a solution. It still gives him only a five percent chance of survival, but even that is better that instant oblivion. Especially once Bowen lays eyes on the scientist's cousin and resident chef, Kaia Luna. She might hate his guts, but he's persistent, and he can be patient—he's not security chief for nothing...
This was the first Nalini Singh book I had to sleep on, before writing a review about. And I still don't really know what sort of rating it should get, so I'm going with the middle ground. There were so many things right about it (the first half) and so many things not exactly right (second half of it).
Let me start with the good—I loved Bo. I might've been ambivalent toward him when he first appeared, but NS certainly did him a solid with his story. He's no Hawke or Kaleb, but he's a worthy competitor with Max the only other human hero in this series.
He shone in his story, his past and his issues making him a well-rounded character, and his protective streak, his compassion and his emotions making him a worthy hero.
The heroine, Kaia, unfortunately, didn't really make an impact. I sort of liked her, but I never really warmed up to her, and the second half of the story, with her phobia and her idiotic reasoning for not telling Bo about it, and her even more idiotic reasoning of using said phobia to push him away (after she was the one who made things beyond complicated in the first place), ruined her character for me, and ruined every chance she had of getting a pass as a Bowen-worthy heroine.
I just wanted to smack her about the head...Several times.
And that final reversal of her issues felt more like a cop-out than anything else. A pretty little bow to tie it all nicely.
I liked the initial drama of the "impossible" romance, not in the star-crossed-lovers sense, but in the one-of-them-is-dying sense. I loved the intensity, the desperation behind Bowen's wooing of Kaia, despite his knowledge of just how little time he has.
Yet that intensity kept deteriorating the more the story progressed, until it vanished completely as the plot turned into something akin to a soap opera with obstacle upon obstacle thrown into the path of maybe Bowen having a chance after all; and that final race against the clock pushed it a little too far over the edge of melodramatic for my taste.
Unlike its predecessor, where we trembled after that breakup, wondering just how it might all work out in the end (even though we knew it would, this one failed to provide that anxiety...It was like the book was holding our hand telling us it would all be fine while promising heartbreak.
As for the suspense, I liked it. I wasn't crazy about it, but it provided the much needed balance to the supposed tearjerker of the romance. I liked the twists and turns, the guessing game, the red-herring and the surprising reveals (especially that last "villain" proved to be a doozy. Good job.
Yet the ending to it all (so far) came so abruptly, cutting the flow of the story completely off, instead of slowly cruising to a stop.
It felt like a few parts were missing, making the reading experience even more jarring than it already was.
Having read all the above it might look like I didn't really care about the story. I did. The first half was very good, it's the second half that's the problem for me.
But I liked (most of) the characters—especially the secondary cast (Kaia's turtle grandmother was a hoot), and the cameos (Mercy, Hawke, and Kaleb) made my heart sing.
And the ending made me look forward to the future.
On July 22, 2005 three teenagers enter a small-town mall and open fire. The first nine-one-one caller is a sixteen-year-old girl who luckily went to the bathroom as one of her best friends is killed in the theater, while the second gets critically injured.
The second nine-one-one caller is a college student on break from his summer job at the mall's Italian restaurant who hides in the kiosk with the body of the girl he invited on a date and a four-year-old boy separated from his mother.
The rampage lasts only eight minutes, but it will impact many lives in the years to come. The college student will become a cop, searching for answers and justice, while the girl will go on pretending like nothing happened, until their meeting, thirteen years after the massacre will force her to look and to embrace the past...And her future.
But there's someone else embracing the past, fanning the flames of rage, and demanding vengeance for the "unjust" death of one of the shooters. Someone who orchestrated the assault, and is now targeting all those that survived it.
This book was a study in calm before the storm and the storm that follows said calm. But instead of only one storm, the story was comprised of many, with calms between them serving as perfect augmenters of suspense and anticipation.
The book starts with a traumatic, aggressive event, a very contemporary topic of a mass shooting in a very public place with many casualties. Friends, families, loved ones are dead, those that survive have to live their lives with scars—some with physical, but all with deep emotional and psychological ones.
And this story shows us how different people cope with the same event and its aftermath. Some choose to embrace the event, letting it hone them to be better, to find answers, look for justice...Some stick their head in the sand, refusing to acknowledge it even happened, alienating those that love them—until they're eventually forced to really look at what happened and finally process it, and maybe find some sort of peace and absolution from guilt.
It wouldn't have worked the way it did without the characters, of course, and Nora Roberts is a true master of character portrayal and development. The cast was a motley crew of individuals and different personalities, but it all worked, flowing together seamlessly, pushing the story forward, keeping the reader engaged, and eagerly awaiting what would happen next.
The romance, though rather rushed (in hindsight) worked for that very reason—I got to know the two characters before they were together, I became invested in them, and I could see and understand what drew them to each other and why they were, in the end, perfect together.
I loved both Simone (the usual NR heroine, flawed, scarred and with deep issues) and Reed (the typical NR hero, affable when he needed to be, but with a core of steel, a protective streak a mile wide, and a great sense of humor), but I must say Simone's a little psychic grandmother, CiCi, ended up being my favorite character of the bunch.
And let's not forget the villain. Unlike most NR novels, where the baddie isn't revealed until the very end, we got to "live" the story through the villain's eyes as well in this book. And let me tell you, those scenes with the vengeful sociopath as "main character" made for a pretty chilling reading, yet gifting us with a hefty dose of suspense and thrills.
This book was a perfect mix of great characters (even the bad ones), wonderful relationships, hot romance, and edge-of-your-seat suspense.
SWAT Officer Max Lowry, the youngest "pup" in the Pack meets Lana Mason at a police award ceremony and falls hard, fast, and furious. Luckily the girl is also a werewolf, so his nose tells him, so there shouldn't be any problems in getting with the program. Unfortunately, Lana has no idea she's a werewolf, she's the daughter of the deputy chief of the DPD tactical division...And a group of hunters is gunning for her, having followed her from Austin to Dallas.
What is a "wolf pup" to do?
Well, this is awkward. After six strong books, this seventh in the series left me rather cold. The action was still quite strong, though the suspense was lacking, there was the requisite sarcasm and snark whenever members of the Pack were in the picture...But the spark was gone.
To start with, I didn't really care much about the two protagonists. They sounded so very young (in fact, they were barely in their twenties), it bothered me a little. Their romance was also nothing to write home about, with the two seemingly merely going through the motion, without much feeling or emotion in the background.
The suspense and action could've saved it, but even these two elements lacked intensity and intrigue. Be it the DV case or the main hunters-related action, it felt lackluster and once more the characters didn't seem very involved. I didn't really feel the urgency and the approaching danger; even the final showdown was quite a let-down ending rather quickly and abruptly, the mysterious phone calls between the baddies merely whetting my appetite without delivering much.
I guess I'll have to wait for the next books (although if the hunters story arc is going to drag for nine more books, it will take quite an effort to keep my attention—it will most assuredly take more effort that this particular story managed).
What did "catch my attention" and what I am looking forward to that this book "started" is Zane's story. Keeping my fingers crossed for the poor Brit.
Remy Boudreaux had loved and lost before, and decided never to do it again. Life is much easier spent in pursuit of easy hookups. Then he returns to his hometown of New Orleans for a week of training with the NOPD SWAT, and follows a tantalizing scent through half the city, only to end up in a crowded club, face to face with his highschool best friend (and crush).
Triana Bellamy had a major crush on her friend Remy back in the day, and she doesn't think twice at experiencing what she's been missing in the years they've been apart.
When things start moving too quickly, Remy pulls away, and Triana is devastated. But she soon has another problem to keep her mind occupied. Someone is demanding her mother hand over a wolf-pendant necklace, and the PI she's hired might've stumbled on information that might solve her father's murder...
This book was much more romance-focused than the previous ones, or maybe it just struck me that way, but I didn't mind, since I happened to like this specific romance. Especially since it was the hero's turn to be a stubborn ass, refusing to let himself love his heroine in fear of her getting hurt (and in the end she got hurt even when they weren't together).
I loved both Remy and Triana, him with his scarred heart and fears of being cursed, and her with her inquisitive mind and pride that prevented her from begging for scraps from a man who supposedly didn't care.
It was a little heartbreaking reading about their struggles (Remy really was an idiot), yet reading about their connection was simply adorable. I loved them to bits.
Then there was the suspense. It might not have been as prominent as in the previous books in this series, but it still packed a punch, especially once it became clear that all the little dangling threads were connected. The villain's motive for getting the (apparently insignificant) necklace was a little out there, but the story was set in New Orleans, where things like werewolves and other beings that go bump in the night (not to mention naked men calmly strolling down the street) barely raise an eyebrow.
And the action, mostly that last scene of wolves chasing the car during a tropical storm, was gritty, intense, and vividly depicted.
The story also had the requisite heaping of secondary characters who either provided comic relief and sarcasm (Remy's pack mates—even Cooper made an appearance) or important information on the werewolf lore and werewolf hunters (Triana's mother and the villains).
That last "prediction" why the Pack is suddenly gaining members (either in the form of soul-mates or additional betas and omegas) was rather chilling, but I'm looking forward to the direction this series is taking.
Alex Trevino has his hands full. First, he has to convince the sexy vet that doesn't give him the time of day to go out with him. Then, when he finally accomplishes that and figures out she's his One, she gets it into her head, she's something else than a vet, trying to figure out who's running a dogfighting ring, and almost gets herself killed, forcing Alex to go half-wolf on her to keep her safe, she freaks and breaks it off, only to come back asking him to help her track her missing sister.
All this, while trying to find out who's behind the latest drug craze sweeping the city. Alex is just one man...With a little extra wolf thrown into the mix.
Once again, it was the suspense that saved the day. Suspense and the SWAT team with their closeness and zingers.
The suspense was intriguing and gritty with three separate investigations, keeping everyone fully occupied, only to merge (a little of an easy solution, if you ask me) into one single case. But it kept everybody on their toes, it kept me guessing, and it kept me glued to the pages.
The action scenes were intense, and the full-on wolf chase sequence was just the perfect cherry on the cake.
The cast of characters (namely the SWAT squad) was once more at their peak, both as emotional support for the hero, much needed heroes of the city, and the in-house entertainment to provide some much needed levity to the subject matter of the suspense arc.
I couldn't say the same for the heroine. She was annoying to begin with (with her hang-ups and emotional baggage), but instead of growing on me as the story progressed, she became even worse, until I couldn't stand her. I don't care that she had a 180 in the end, she's the worst heroine in this series so far and I'm glad "her" story is over.
Yet another great suspense and action story with wonderful (secondary) characters, but the romance (thanks to the heroine) left me cold.
I'm looking forward to what comes next, especially with the dangerous possibility of werewolf hunters converging on Dallas...And I'm wondering what he ME might know.
Little does Landry Cooper know the afternoon he walks into a bank to cash a check to cover a bet, that the awful day he's had, is about to turn into one of the best days of his life. It doesn't matter that he has to deal with a bank robbery, he's just met the most beautiful woman in the world. A woman he soon realizes she's The One for him...And the woman who will hurt him more than being blown up into a pink mist once she discovers his secret.
I was looking forward to Cooper's story from the first book in this series. There was something about the incredibly observant werewolf who everybody went to for advice and who could keep secrets that could cost him his job. But because he's just a wonderful character, of course his story couldn't have been all roses and rainbows, but instead turned out to be the darkest, most emotional one of the bunch (so far).
First, it was the star-crossed romance between him and Everly, the artist with four overprotective brothers and a magic-werewolf-mirror possessing father. The crux of the problem was telegraphed from the beginning when Everly told him how her mother died, but the big reveal still packed a punch. Especially once Everly's fears and memories kicked in. But I really couldn't empathize with the girl, not once she started spewing the m-word about the guy who saved her neck just a few days ago.
I know it created conflict, but the break-up was a tad too melodramatic for me, especially given everything that was going on around the two of them.
Still, it got solved rather quickly and it didn't really need one of those life-or-death moments (although we got that one as well).
And then there was the suspense, the main driving force, beside the weepy romance. I was right about the bomber, although I still wish I was wrong.
A bomber with his expertly made bombs was terrorizing Dallas and everybody pitched in, including Cooper, a former EOD tech who wolf-y instincts quickly started tingling. I might've seen the baddie coming from a mile away, but that final twist with the betrayal threw me (as it did Cooper). The suspense arc, especially given the personal connections, was dark and emotional, and quite painful to read toward the end, as I empathize with Cooper and what he was going through—and what he did in the end to save all those lives.
And then there were the characters. Cooper himself with his snarkiness and nicknames (Brothers Stupid brought a smile to my face) was enough to keep things lively, but the presence of the rest of the bunch didn't hurt, especially when the poor heartbroken wolfy needed a shoulder to cry on (or help getting out of being arrested).
Great suspense, an emotional romance, drama, angst, and a wonderful cast of characters. This is turning to be one of my favorite series.
SWAT officer Eric Becker, the renowned lover of women in tight yoga pants, does the most logical thing to do when faced with the most beautiful werewolf, he's ever seen pointing a gun at him in the middle of a shootout—he almost swallows his tongue at her sweet scent and then hides her in a crate to keep her from getting arrested or killed. Now, it's her turn to make a move.
Jayna Wilson has no idea what move she's supposed to take after a gorgeous SWAT hunk helps her hide and escape instead of hauling her off to jail. She's been out of moves ever since the alpha of her little pack has gotten mixed up with Albanian mobsters, revealed the werewolf secret to them, and now offers Jayna and her pack members as muscle to the criminals...So maybe she'll let the SWAT hunk have the next move as well...
The suspense was great as always, although the criminal group (at least they weren't Russians) seemed a little in disarray from the beginning, making Eric's job a little easier. They just didn't seem like very savvy criminals, if you ask me.
But I liked the suspense, the "mystery" of how Eric might save his dream woman and her little pack without having to sacrifice his own pack, his job or his life. And the action, as always, was top-notch with bullets, and in this case, claws and canines, flying every each way.
The problem I had with this particular story was the fact there appeared to be something missing. And I didn't realize what it was, until the end (the final chapter), when it was there again.
What was missing, was the SWAT pack. I love those guys to bits. I love their friendships, their relationships, their unflinching loyalty, their willingness to take a bullet for the guy standing next to them. And I love how they love each other. Even when they're pissed at each other, even when the alpha is snarling mad, their emotional connection is palpable.
And I missed it in this story, since it was mostly Eric and the new little pack of betas among the larger "pack" of mobsters. Thank god for Cooper, Eric's bestie with his secrets-keeping Cupid-extraordinaire superpowers, for the much necessary infusion of Pack camaraderie and humorous zingers (those were missing alongside the guys), since I didn't particularly care for the new pack and its characters. They seemed more like extras to me, extras who propped up the heroine (who wasn't bad, but wasn't all that much either). Even Becker paled compared to the Becker that I've come to love.
Solid suspense, great action, but as far as characters go, this was a let-down. But we did get to learn about a new "species" of werewolf.
The DPD SWAT unit is about to get a new recruit. But this time it's a woman, to appease the city politicians. Luckily the commander of the squad had some say in the matter and he found the one to better mesh with the team, since she's a werewolf as well.
Khaki Blake might be a fairly new one (barely three months since her change), but she jumps at the opportunity to leave her job in Washington State behind, since her ex (also a cop) has been making her life a living hell. Then she comes to Dallas and it quickly becomes apparent, her squad leader, Xander Riggs might also make her life a living hell, since it's obvious the guy cannot stand her. A pity, since he's very easy on the eyes, and smells absolutely delicious.
It's not that Xander cannot stand Khaki, his behavior is due to the fact he wants nothing more than to jump her bones. She's The One, but she's also his subordinate, and she's just come off a bad office romance. It might kill him, but he's determined to stay away from her...Until chemistry cannot be denied any longer and the two break all the rules.
Yet another amazing addition to this series. The romance was better than in the first book, mostly because of the "conflict" of the two coworkers getting all hot and bothered about each other and trying to hide it from everyone, but also because the two protagonists worked better together, not to mention the fact they were both werewolves trying to fight the impossible-to-fight attraction between them.
The main suspense (about the bank robbers) played second fiddle to the real twist in the end (my hunch proved to be right), but it all served to propel the plot forward, also serving as catalyst for the romance between Khaki and Xander to come out into the open.
But what worked the most (as in its predecessor), was the team. The characters themselves, their relationships, interactions, and camaraderie are the pillars this series is really based on...And what I'm looking most forward to when I start reading.
There's something off with the Dallas PD SWAT team. And it's not just the fact it's comprised of 16 easy-on-the-eyes hunks. Mackenzie Stone, investigative journalist, smells something fishy. The team is just too perfect. Everybody sings their praises and cites them as an example. They're involved in the community...No one is that perfect, so there must be something off. And Mac is sure she knows what is is...Turns out she has no idea.
This was a complete impulse buy for me, from a completely new-to-me author. And it blew me away. The plot was pretty tight, the suspense was gripping, the action scenes intense, and the story featured a pretty awesome cast of characters.
I loved the Pack, the family the SWAT team made. Their friendship and camaraderie really came through the pages and their interactions were a real treat to read.
The heroine more or less (except for those few pages in the last third of the story where I wanted to smack her) left me cold. I liked her enough, and I liked her paired with Gage, but that was pretty much it. The Pack stole the show in this one, and I didn't even mind the lack of any realistic romance. The one we got fell along the lines of paranormal-type romance, where the two protagonists are pretty much fated for each other, which absolves the author from making any kind of effort where the romance is concerned. Which I didn't mind in this case. At all.
I loved the action scenes, the tactical "drills" and "real-life" action, both in police work and personal lives of the two protagonists (that final confrontation in the penultimate chapter). There was nothing overblown about them; the writing was concise and to the point, creating the mood and conveying the images with ease and seemingly without much effort. Loved it. Intense, gripping, somewhat chilling at times. Loved it.
And then there's the world-building. Just when I thought there couldn't be much more to be invented in the werewolf world, Ms Tyler managed to surprise me with her little twist on just how a werewolf comes to be (there is no biting involved, just a quirk in the DNA). Although all tropes could not be avoided—and we got the The One spiel. Oh, well.
I'm looking forward to learning more about the DNA quirk...And of course, I can't wait to read more about the guys in the Special Wolf Alpha Unit.
Adelaide Blake escapes from her involuntary residence at a private asylum for the insane and seeks refuge in the small Californian town of Burning Cove. Working as a tearoom waitress, she does her best in not getting noticed, but she still manages to get the attention of Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman recuperating his shattered nerves in Burning Cove.
Adelaide soon discovers Jake's nerves are as steely as hers, when he rushes to her rescue brandishing a gun, and when psychic to the stars Madam Zolanda plunges to her death, unwittingly fulfilling her own prediction of someone dying a bloody death, Jake's nerves of steel come in handy as it soon becomes apparent Zolanda and Adelaide's cases are connected.
Unlike its predecessor, the suspense in this story actually worked well. The entire plot was intriguing and rife with mystery and dangers, and what red herrings there might've been turned out to be genuine clues and connections.
I liked the mystery of it, I liked the guessing game I went through to discover who the villain is, what the possible connections were, who was pulling the strings...And I especially liked the final little twist to the well-developed suspense arc.
It's the rest of the story that lowered the rating. While the time period didn't bother me in this one, and the characters were rather well-drawn (the heroine wasn't off-putting in the least), I missed the romance element. It was there, in the story, but what we got left me cold.
I certainly wasn't convincing and came across as rushed and not as polished as the rest of the story was. Still, in the end, I sensed the seed of it, but that was all it was; the big revelation of feelings jumped the shark.
Still, the suspense saved the day.
Famous photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway suffers a breakdown, when she receives a folder full of photographs of her and one of her mother, the mother who disappeared twenty years ago, leaving her family behind. But in the photo, her mother is young, just as Jo Ellen remembers her. She's also naked...And dead.
When Jo Ellen comes out of the hospital, the photo of her mother is gone, like it was never there, and she takes refuge on the island of Lost Desire, in her home, with her estranged family, in order to get back on her feet, thinking she'd be safe.
But evil has followed Jo Ellen. Evil hiding behind a photo camera and lens, determined to outdo its mentor, and create a better portrait of an angel in death, and Jo Ellen would make an excellent subject.
This is what Nora Roberts does best. We have a very dysfunctional and estranged family separated by grief and self-isolation—a father who, after his wife's abandonment, abandoned his own children, in spirit if not in body, the oldest brother determined never to let a woman close in order to protect his heart, the youngest sister who hides behind a mask of a self-centered airhead, and the older sister who keeps everybody and everything at arms length, never needing anybody because they might abandon her like her mother did, who, following the lowest point in her life, comes home and brings the family back together.
Then there's the requisite romance, done in the usual NR laid-back, subtle style (but since there are three siblings, we get three separate romance sub-plots. They're completely different from each other, depending entirely on the characters that "live them" and their personalities, but they're also so well-done, they don't encroach on either each other, or the main plot.
There's of course the plethora of main and secondary characters, each shining through in their own way, each bringing something to the plot, and their relationships, interactions and evolving storylines are always a pleasure to read.
And then there's the suspense, so deeply enmeshed into the main arc of the story, its presence is always palpable. The reader can feel the evil, the danger lurking in the sidelines, creeping closer and closer. The added sprinkling of mystery as to whether the hero is really what he looks like or if he's indeed the villain, adds to the suspense and intensity of the read, keeping the tempo and expectations high as the reader turns the pages faster and faster.
When the truth finally comes (in only the last chapter!), the resolution is almost anticlimactic, after the heightened suspense and intensity of the path that led to it. The motive and reasoning certainly were, since it turned out the villain was just plain crazy.
A great mix of suspense, intrigue, romance, angst, family drama, and wonderful characters.
Lady Noelle Bromleigh knows the circumstances surrounding her birth, what she doesn't know is her sire's identity. So she asks her adoptive father, her uncle, Eric Bromleigh to investigate, just to know the whole truth. But when she's presented with the fruits of said investigation on her eighteenth birthday, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she travels to London to catch a glimpse of her sire, and on the way meets her destiny...
The better part of this story was pretty good. Though I sometimes wished someone would slap the heroine silly, she quickly "mended her ways" thanks to the hero's influence, and she ended the story a rather mature young woman. The hero was once more a typical AK creation; tall, dark, handsome, intense, confident and using the requisite nickname for the heroine.
While the romance left me rather cold (it happened rather swiftly and I didn't really believe it), the best part of this plot was the suspense—especially once murder came into play.
Unfortunately the real villain was rather blatantly revealed (to the reader, not the protagonists) somewhere in the middle, but I was still looking forward to how the case would be solved.
Sadly, the tempo dropped tremendously right at the climax of the story as scenes dragged on for too long and, instead of creating tension and anticipation, the whole thing bordered on boring as I waited for the axe to finally fall.
Instead, it merely brought down the rating.