A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Reckless Behavior (Bad Behavior #3) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This series is smokin’!  Action-packed, nail-biting, heartbreaking—this book has it all.  Though there’s not a lot of overt romance to this one, and no sex scenes, there is love—a deep and lasting love that’s developing between Andreas and Darren as well as the love of family.  In this one, Andreas’s children are kidnapped so the love of a father for his children is a primary focus of the book, but there’s also the familial love of a brother for another as Darren’s brother, Asher, falls deeper into his disease and the situation becomes critical.  As an aside, and without spoilers, we finally find out if Darren has the gene that has caused Asher’s mind to fail at such an early age. 

Andreas is still struggling with his healing ankle from the injury in the last book.  He’s screwed it up and needed a second surgery—but hang on folks—he’s about to make it worse when his kids are kidnapped virtually right from under his nose.  He and his work and life partner, Darren,  along with their highly personable and dynamic friend Paula, a detective we met in the last book, explore any and all possible leads to get the kids back.  Though their theories are sketchy at first, eventually, with the help of Andreas’s daughter Erin, who manages to get free of the kidnapers, the team is on the right track.  A tragic event in Darren’s life sidetracks him temporarily but he’s right back on the job as well.  He loves Andreas and his kids and will stop at nothing to help his lover get them back. 

This story is very fast-paced, filled with plot twists and turns, excitement, and hair-raising scenarios.  I loved every moment and literally couldn’t put it down.  I highly recommend this series to all those who enjoy law enforcement drama and romance, especially those, like me, who appreciate a writing team who can build excitement to fever pitch and yet give us a firm foundation to a wonderful pair of men whose love grows stronger with each story.  I can’t wait to get my hands on book four! 

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh.  Love the  gritty black and white nature of the cover.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 264 pages
Published January 1st 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published December 30th 2017)
Original TitleReckless Behavior
ISBN139781626496316
SeriesBad Behavior #3

A Lila Review: Forced Impressions by Piper Doone

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Rating: 2.75 out of 5 stars

Forced ImpressionsJonah Landers’s promotion to detective isn’t going so well. His first undercover operation is a disaster thanks to Rafael Santos, a Cuban-American detective so far undercover, no one on Rafael’s Miami-based squad even had a clue he’d already infiltrated the prostitution ring Jonah was targeting. Two years and an insane twist of fate later, Jonah finds himself transferred from Orlando and partnered up with Rafael in Miami—and their rocky beginning doesn’t get any better.

For the sake of their careers and because he realizes he’s falling for Rafael, Jonah makes every attempt to smooth things over and move on with his love life. He turns his attention to A.J. Choya, a Seminole Indian who runs the tech department. But there’s no spark between them, and Jonah has to admit his feelings for Rafael aren’t going away.

When a new case falls into Rafael’s and Jonah’s laps, they must go undercover again and become intimate in a way that forces them to confront their feelings for each other—no matter the consequences

The story starts directly into the action. Jonah is on his way to his first undercover assignment as a detective with the Orlando Police Department. We get the basics about the area, Jonah’s relationship with his partner, and his doubts about the operation. Everything goes almost to plan until Rafael makes it to the scene. From there on, everything goes down the hill– for them and the investigation.

The ruined operation brings Jonah’s career to a halt, and no matter what he does, he’s not going anywhere. After two years, he’s able to transfer to Miami with the hopes to start over. Jonah doesn’t have much of a private or professional life when he leaves, but he hopes to, at least, have a chance to forward his career.

On his first day in Miami, everything changes when he gets to partner with Rafael. Their relationship is typical of newbies with experienced partners, but Jonah took it further, personal. We get a series of cases and how they worked them and interacted with the rest of the squad.

The last case in the book is the one referred on the blurb. It doesn’t last long, but it changes their relationship. In the end, they get their HEA with a quick epilogue, filled with future events.

Forced Impressions didn’t work for me. The first undercover case, in Orlando, was interesting, and we had a chance to meet the MCs and see them at work. After Jonah moved to Miami, the plot slows down and there’s not much action, not even during the cases they worked.

I think the monotony of their day job and their relationship is what brought my rating down. Perhaps if the cases were related or less, it would had kept my interest. But, they were standard police procedure with little trouble to be solved.  By the time the main investigation happened, I was ready for the book to end. Not even Jonah’s relationship with A.J. was interesting enough.

The last part of the book moved faster, maybe too fast for Rafael’s and Jonah’s relationship to be meaningful. Their undercover job was smexy but didn’t compensate for everything the story lacked until that point. Their love affair was fast paced and their future together, on the epilogue, even faster.

And the cover? The overall idea of the cover by Aaron Anderson works, until you get into the details. The art deco font gives it the Miami feel and the model matched Rafael’s description. But, the skyline and tie effect makes it look more like New York City than Miami. Plus, the silhouette doesn’t represent Jonah.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: January 25, 2016, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1634767640 (ISBN13: 9781634767644)
Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: A Wedding to Die For (Brandt and Donnelly Caper #3) by Xavier Mayne

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A Wedding To Die ForJustin Capella, son and baker at his family’s up scale bakery, and Roman Montgomery, floral scion, haven’t seen each other since that fateful day in third grade when a single kiss shocked Justin and sent Roman to boarding school.  But fate, a gay celebrity wedding combined with their bigoted fathers conspire to bring them back together once more.

When a high-profile gay celebrity couple, a TV news anchor and a famous lawyer, decide that they want the two most popular and well established vendors, Montgomery Floral and Cakes by Capella, to provide their wedding cake and flowers , they are not prepared for the owners of those firms to refuse because they are a gay couple.   In the aftermath of the bad publicity and promise of multiple lawsuits , a resulting boycott threatens to shut down both companies.  With their fathers stepping aside, its up to their sons to save both family businesses. And while they are struggling to do so,  Justin and Roman rediscover love while working on the wedding.

Law Enforcement Officers Brandt and Donnelly are working with a statewide task force for the rights of LGBT citizens even as they search out their own wedding planner.  As guests at the celebrity wedding, they are present when things start to go wrong.  There’s something more sinister than bigotry afoot at the wedding.  When someone dies, its up to fellow cops and soon to be married partners,  to save the day, save the date and help another young couple find their own HEA.

A Wedding to Die For is not only my first Brandt and Donnelly story, but its also the first book I’ve read by Xavier Mayne.  I found it to be fun, mostly lighthearted, with some serious truths buried beneath the fondant and icing.  The author and story assumes you have  read the previous novels that introduces fellow state law officers and lovers, Ethan Brandt and Gabriel Donnelly, along with assorted friends that include the flaming, over-the-top Bryce and  his buddy/lover? Nestor.  A Wedding To Die For picks up with Ethan and Gabriel already engaged and looking to make arrangements for their own wedding.  Immediately their flamboyant, enthusiastic besties get involved and perhaps a third of the book involves the various sundry and quite awful wedding planners Brandt and Donnelly are sent to by their friends.  This section of the book is shear comedy and would work well on its own as such.  But when folded into more serious elements it acts as more of a distraction than a meaningful plot thread.

Another section, the best part of this story actually, is told from the perspectives of both Justin and Roman, two boyhood friends separated by trauma and their fathers.  I actually wished this had been a separate book.  Justin and Roman’s story has a poignancy and realism missing from the rest of this novel.  We meet them as they reunite over the disasters their fathers have made of their family businesses and reputations, and then slowly through conversations and recalled memories does their own pasts start to reveal itself.  The anguish and pain comes through beautifully as does the hope and possibility of healing their wounds.  I adored both characters of Justin and Roman, they feel believable and their actions as young men growing up in their family companies comes across as authentic.  I found myself actually flipping past sections just to get back to this pair and their problems.

The rest of the book is told by Brandt and Donnelly, who I just couldn’t take seriously as any type of  law enforcement officers.  Whether it was their behavior in front of the captain or out as representatives of the task force, their dialog, and actions tended to veer towards camp instead of that of believable cops.  I felt that was a shame as there is some very serious issues playing out here, and not just the companies that refuse to cater towards the LGBTQ public when doing business.  Plot threads also address what happens when married gay couples visit states that don’t recognize them as married, especially when tragedy strikes.  To have all these very serious issues surrounded by froth and lighthearted fun takes away the gravity and pain that occurs as part of the consequences of a patchwork quilt of LGBTQ equality.

A Wedding To Die For has multiple points of view, a myriad of voices, and almost too many storylines.  Truthfully, I really committed to one, that of Justin and Roman and found the rest to be just too silly, especially when stacked up against the other.  But Justin and Roman are so memorable and sympathetic that I wished for more of these two and their relationship down the line.   But not everyone will feel that way.  Others may feel the silliness and froth is just the thing to take the sting off the reality of some of the meanness and bigotry still so much a part of our lives and this story.  I will leave it up to you to decide.

If you like light and frothy fun, you will love this story.  If you want a heartfelt romance, then read it for Justin and Roman.  It’s a short, quick read with entertaining or moving elements for just about everyone.

Cover Artist L.C. Chase did a nice job here.  I think that’s Justin and Roman on the cover, and the wedding elements are a great addition.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press         All Romance (ARe)     Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published December 15th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
original titleA Wedding to Die For
ISBN139781632164704
edition languageEnglish
seriesBrandt and Donnelly Caper #3

BRANDT AND DONNELLY CAPERS

Case File One: Frat House Troopers
Case File Two: Wrestling Demons
Case File Three: A Wedding to Die For

Review: You Can’t Go Home Again by Michael Murphy

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

You Can't Go Home Again coverAt 32, Jack is a seasoned police officer.  He has done everything possible to prepare his rookie partner, Kevin “The Kid”,   for their undercover operation.  But during the drug bust, things go horribly wrong and Jack is left with his partner dying in his arms.  Off duty and beset by guilt, Jack and his Chief accept the responsiblity of relaying the news to Kevin’s wife, another police officer. At loose ends, Jack and Marie become friends and he agrees to go with her to Alabama to bury Kevin in his home town.

At the church, Jack is in for another shock when Devin, Kevin’s twin brother,appears at the funeral.  Devin is a photographer and gay.  He is also determined to help Marie when they all find out that Marie is pregnant.   A tentative romance continues when Devin makes the surprise decision to leave California and move  east to help Marie,.  Such impetuousness is rewarded with a slammed door and an offer of a guest room from Jack. Soon their romance is hotter than ever.

But each time, things start to settle down for Jack, Devin, and even Marie, obstacles rise up to shatter the calm and bring them all to the edge of despair once more.  Kevin’s mother blames Marie for Kevin being a police officer and his death.  And the aftermath of the drug deal is still playing out.

You can’t go home again but what happens when the new home you are trying to make is threatened at every turn?  Jack,and Devin are about to find out.

The opening chapters of You Can’t Go Home Again are so heartbreaking that they will stay with you for the entire  book.  It brings the short-lived character of The Kid alive, and he ends up hovering over the proceedings for the rest of the story.  You get a real feel for Jack and his partner as things go very wrong and the Kid makes one shattering bad decision that will cost him his life.  It’s shocking, painful, and the death scene is gut wrenching.  Michael Murphy really delivers in the scenes where the officers are helping a shattered Jack dress and leave for Kevin’s home to relay the news of Kevin’s death to his wife.  Here the pain and strength of the Thin Blue Line is poignantly portrayed and it gives a ring of authenticity to Jack as a law enforcement officer.

The power of those opening pages are so strong that sometimes the rest of the story fades under its impact.  But that element of soft discourse is needed after such an emotional start.  Marie’s character, especially, almost requires a quiet fortitude that comes through in the narrative.  Murphy shows the restrained and stress filled support both Jack and Marie bring to each other.  Jack in feeling that he hadn’t done enough to get to know his partner and Marie filling in the gaps for Jack from Kevin’s perspective and hers.  It’s a lovely relationship and a touching one.

The ugliness of the Alabama family and the strain of the funeral are realistic and shocking .  Here the antagonism of the mother and the reveal of the twin brother come together to show how shattering Kevin’s death is and how far its impact spreads.  It also helps to bring  Jack, Marie and Devin together as a unit as characters and in the eyes of the reader.  You can almost feel the scrabbled together family bonds forming.

Murphy’s story still have some twists and turns as it turns the halfway point,  One ties up neatly with the events that occur in the beginning and others from relationships still playing out  from peoples pasts.

There are a few things I wish had been added, last names for one.  I feel having a whole name  contributes to a complete character identity and that was lacking all over the place here.  Too, I wish the character of Devin had been a little more realized.  He came across as less a complete person than his brother who is alive for only a small amount of time on the pages.  Still, I loved the relationships that formed here.  Whether it is the romance between Jack and Devin, or the brothers/sisterly ones that formed between  Jack, Devin, and Marie, I enjoyed watched each and every one form and deepen over time.

I do recommend this story and think you will find You Can’t Go Home Again a rewarding way to spend the day reading.

 

Sales Link:              Dreampsinner Press           All Romance eBook (ARe)      Amazon You Can’t Go Home Again

 Cover art by L.C. Chase.  I like the cover but that model is either fine for The Kid or Devin but too young looking for Jack.

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published July 18th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 17th 2014)
ISBN139781627988995
edition languageEnglish
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