Thanks to Berkley for inviting me to join the blog blitz for the first 5⭐️ book I read this year: Megan Crane's Special Ops Seduction. Read on for my review!
Q: what’s your fave song to dance to at a wedding?
Special Ops Seduction wowed me in a big way with some of my kryptonite: an ice cold hero who can barely engage with the heroine because of his *very* reluctant feelings for her; a nuanced, standout heroine who’s a physical powerhouse & the only female on her special ops team; fake dating (!) for the job; & a pivotal sex scene that’s an exquisite mix of steam & emotion.
I ate this one up with a spoon.
Bethan Wilcox is immensely capable. She’s worked very hard for her military & special ops accomplishments & while she loves what she does, she’s also drawn a thick line between how she comes across in public & her outrageously soft, cushy home.
If Bethan is secretly decadent, Jonas Crow is—to no one’s surprise—ascetic inside & out. He’s stoic to the extreme & afraid of having good feelings, especially when they’re sparked by Bethan.
Pretending to be a fake couple for an op really shakes them up in the best possible way.
Megan Crane really has her pulse on every emotion I wanted wrung from me with this one; when I say that this ending made me happy. Well. Jonas has denied himself for so long that when he finally reaches out I wanted to cheer. Or cry. Or both.
Sexy, thoughtful, & with leads I adored, this book is practically wrapped with a bow for all lovers of romantic suspense.
Chemical warfare plot line. Also, the hero almost dies before the story begins & he didn’t want to be saved. There are flashbacks.
5 ⭐️. Special Ops Seduction is available now. Thanks to Berkley Publishing & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC & to Berkley for inviting me to be part of the blog blitz. All opinions provided are my own.
Fashion this or that:
High heels or flats
Jeans or dress
Novelty tee or button down
Rebecca Zanetti’s Driven is a series stand-out with crackling chemistry & a mystery that kept me guessing.
Angus Force, disgraced former FBI agent & now head of a top secret ops group, can’t get over the idea that the serial killer who killed his sister is still alive. Even though all signs indicate that he died years ago.
Another fact about Angus: he doesn’t like psychiatry, & Dr. Nari Zhang, the psychiatrist paired with their misfit team, alternately turns him on & pushes his buttons.
Then bodies start turning up, their murders looking similar *and* different in some ways to those committed by the serial killer Angus chased & killed, & Angus and Nari have to decide if it’s worth losing their careers, their lives, to follow through with Angus’s idea that the dead serial killer is actually still alive, murdering new people.
I’ve been following the vaguely combative relationship between Angus & Nari for books now & I couldn’t wait to see how it played out in Driven.
This book an is sexy 🥵. Let me just get that out there. I had the sense while reading that there are also quite a number of those scenes & I’ll be honest, I didn’t hate it.
The mystery is intriguing & I did that cute thing while reading where I suspect multiple people of being vicious murderers . Driven is high-octane with lots of thrills & by the end of it, I wanted Angus & Nari to go on a vacation.
But I will admit to some unease regarding Angus’s drinking, which is also something that previous books have set up. It’s lessened considerably in Driven but there’s still the threat of him returning to that place.
Admittedly, I’m coming at this book with a background of family alcoholism but I wanted Angus to address it head-on in some meaningful way, instead of characters, including the heroine, speculating about his drinking & dancing around it.
But overall this is a great read with a strong heroine I really liked—one who refuses to just fall in line—quite a lot of steam, & endearing secondary characters.
4 ⭐️. Driven is available on 01/26/21. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
This series has been my intro to Christie Craig and after really liking the second book I couldn’t wait to read cold case detective Connor Pierce’s story in Don’t Look Back.
A built, attractive police officer with commitment & guilt issues, Connor is basically asking to fall in love 🤣. Only he wouldn’t see it that way.
He’s been avoiding it since his wife divorced him, and after he killed a teen involved in a drug-dealing related shootout.
But he can’t help his attraction to Brie Ryan, an FBI agent who’s gone undercover trying to find out more about her sister’s murder.
Violent events bring them together on an investigation.
The chemistry between Connor & Brie is fun to watch & I love how Craig plays with their romantic pacing with Connor’s actions (though I do think Brie acts a bit immaturely in response.)
Brie had me cheering with her unwillingness to settle for scraps, with how she stands up for herself & her needs & wants.
The mysteries are intriguing & it was a distracting read post-election which I appreciated, but I also have a couple of issues with the book. I don’t quite understand how Brie got her FBI job—how she became exactly qualified her for the position—& there’s a moment with some sexist jokes that annoyed me.
Overall I enjoyed this one & will definitely read more by Christie Craig, but the second book is definitely my fave of the series.
[CWs: this book has quite a lot of violence & violent images. References to rape. Reference to miscarriage.]
3.5 ⭐️. Don't Look Back is out on 12/15. Thanks to Forever Pub & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: what’s on your weekend TBR?
[Note: this romance has a deadly virus plot line.]
An energetic romantic thriller with lots of kissing & huge stakes, April Hunt’s Fatal Deception is the latest installment in her Steele Ops series & with the broodiest (to borrow from the book) hero yet.
Roman’s a former special ops who lost his leg in an incident in Africa that he hasn’t told his family about. He keeps to himself, he broods—as others regularly accuse—, & he pretty much falls into lust the first time Dr. Isabel Santiago refuses to be cowed by him.
Isabel, a virologist, wants a special love story. She also wants to find the virus that’s been stolen from her lab before it’s unleashed.
Then it *is* unleashed, in Alaska, & she & others, including her security detail which Roman is part of, have to do what they can to save people from a horrible virus that someone is deliberately infecting people with.
Fatal Deception has explosive attraction, a super smart heroine who doesn’t back down, a lot of feelingssss, & a strong sense of suspense.
The virus plot might not be for everyone, especially right now, but Hunt keeps its devastation fairly minimal, all things considered. I did question a couple of things about the plot—specifically in regards to Isabel’s security & how involved the government would have been in the case of a virus leak—but I am obviously not any kind of expert 🤣.
In terms of their relationship, Hunt convincingly portrays the things in their past that hold them back, but I would have loved a little more more on their interpersonal issues (how he gives orders, as Isabel notes, & how she doesn’t enjoy that.) That seems like a big part of their dynamic throughout the book—& something Isabel struggles with—but it’s not really addressed at the end.
With that being said, I do love how both leads have strong personalities & how they stand up for what they want with each other, how sexy the book is, & how quickly Roman is enamored—even if he won’t admit it.
This was a 4⭐️ read for me.
[another CW: there’s an off-putting seizure joke in here—someone compares their dancing ability to one. I will be offering feedback on this when I submit my review.]
4⭐️. Fatal Deception is out on 11/10. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Katie Reus’s romantic suspense & paranormal romance books are reliably sexy & entertaining with adventurous action plots, but unfortunately Deadly Past falls flat for me.
Autumn Perez was Ana Diaz before witnessing someone trying to dump a body. Now she’s living in Verona Bay & a member of WITSEC. After witnessing another crime, a bank robbery, she seeks comfort in the arms of her hot sheriff neighbor, Lincoln Jordan.
But their one night stand turns into a surprise pregnancy situation, made more complicated when someone seems to be threatening Autumn’s safety.
Lincoln’s an alpha who wants Autumn badly; he’s also content to give her space in the hopes that she’ll want something serious with him. I love how he respects her boundaries & how he even sets his own.
Deadly Past *is sexy & I enjoyed the round of secondary characters.
But I have a couple of substantial issues with the book, too. The romance between Lincoln & Autumn just doesn’t feel super believable to me. Instead it seems rushed. I wondered how much they really knew one another, beyond I think one serious convo about their pasts & the fact that they’re having a baby.
I can respect that relationships can & usually do move faster in romantic suspense but something about this one just doesn’t work well for me.
This book also has a lot of dramatic plot points & several of them aren’t related to the main story being told—and honestly, in my reading, distract from it.
Sadly I didn’t love this romance but I’m looking forward to reading a lot more by the author!
2.5⭐️. Deadly Past is out on October 20th. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I really enjoy Pamela Clare’s romantic suspense books, especially Hard Justice, which I loved. Give me (alpha) men and women saving the world any day, particularly when the books are so sweet & so steamy. But Hard Line, her latest release, falls flat for me.
The premise is that relatively new Cobra recruit Thor Isaksen is sent to Antarctica to retrieve parts of a satellite that was hacked & destroyed by an as-yet unknown entity.
The researcher asked to help him & his team is astrophysicist Dr. Samantha Park, who’s still reeling from the death of her best friend & fellow researcher.
But of course nothing is what it seems with her friend’s murder & Thor & his team have to solve the mysteries before lots of innocent people are hurt.
As always, it feels like Clare’s done the research & the plot moves quickly & with skill. The Antarctica setting added a lot to the mystery, providing many possible new challenges for the MCs to overcome. I always appreciate the steam Clare brings & enjoyed the dynamic between the sensitive alpha Thor & the brilliant but insecure Samantha.
But I have two big issues with this read. First, Samantha’s lack of confidence, which is pervasive & includes her appearance & even how she talks about her astronomy work with Thor. I didn’t see much evidence of growth in this until the end of the book & even then, as she notes in one instance, it seems largely more attributable to how Thor has made her feel instead of her own conclusions about herself.
& speaking about Thor, his efforts to show Samantha how sexy she was by using his arousal as “proof” kinda make me roll my eyes.
My other issue with this romance is how the lines are so blurred between Thor’s professional demands & his relationship with Samantha with very little introspection or deliberation about how he is blurring them. His actions & his teammate Jones’ actions make me doubt their qualifications as operatives—maybe because so much of those scenes feels surface-level to me.
I look forward to reading a future Pamela Clare book but this one just didn’t really work for me.
CW: pretty gruesome story about Thor’s wartime experience including murder. Other on-page murders.
Give me that HEA, please.
Join my mailing list.
Want to receive a weekly email with links to my latest blog posts? Sign up below!