Friday, June 30, 2017

Can You Read a Series in a Month? June 2017 Wrap Up

See Also:  Wrap Up posts & link up @ Because Reading
See Also:  My Can You Read a Series in a Month? Summary Post

Once again, I had great fun reading a wonderful series.  Although I had already read the first book prior to the challenge, the remaining three books were still great new experiences for me!

As a refresher, I'm re-posting the series I chose along with my updated review links.  For the Goodreads series page screen shot, please scroll to end of the post.

I look forward to any other book by Courtney Milan.  And also, until the next time our lovely hosts have this challenge!

My Series Pick

Brothers Sinister by Courtney Milan

Completed Reviews: (updated on 6/28/2017)
1.  The Duchess War -- Read Pre-June 2017
2.  The Heiress Effect -- 06/04/2017
3.  The Countess Conspiracy -- 06/07/2017
4.  The Suffragette Scandal -- 06/20/2017
novella 0.5:  The Governess Affair -- Already Read
novella 1.5:  A Kiss for Midwinter -- Read Pre-June 2017
novella 4.5:  Talk Sweetly to Me -- 06/26/2017

*Click on series title for GR series page. // Click on book title for my review.

GR Series Page Screenshot

And as requested by our lovely hosts, here is a screenshot of the Goodreads series page, showing all the books I read for this series!

If you go to the actual series page at Goodreads, there are two other entries:  One is an anthology collection that includes the prequel novella, The Governess Affair.  The other is a complete boxed set for the whole series.

Booklikes-opoly | Roll #24! and Free Friday #3!

Booklikes, the book blogging social platform

The reading gods have been generous these past few rolls.  I've been finishing books left and right like "Whoa!"  Even the turns were I have a double roll and end up with two books.  Though to be fair, I suppose since I've been limiting myself to a lot of COYER Summer Reading List books, they are books I've been wanting to read, as well as books that are kind of short in page length... well some of them are.

For Roll #23, I landed on a BL Square, which then netted me the BL Task #1: "Let a BL friend choose your book!  Post a list of 4 books - first one to comment chooses your next read."

And so the following book was chosen by Tea, Rain, Book:

Secret Agent Secretary by Melissa Cutler is a 248 page book, adding $6.00 to my Bank Balance, increasing the total to $131!

So I think I liked this second ICE book more than the first.  The heroine was all sorts of geeky fun, what with her overactive imagination about what super secret agents do, admitting that maybe she's watched and/or read one too many spy novels.  Some of the items on her bucket list include:  1) Assisting in the capture of an international criminal mastermind, and 2) Getting herself a super spy fancy gadget.

But her obsessive fascination with all things secret agent doesn't negate the fact that she's pretty cool and quick on her feet in explosive situations.

Click the title above for my short review!

And now Roll #24:

I rolled an 8 (which seems to be my favorite number since I've rolled it so many dang times!), and landed on New Orleans Square 18.

I think we've been here before, Monkey.  I'm hazarding a guess that we're running out of tricks...

By the way, I've rolled the number '8' only 5 times, which is surprising since it feels like I've been rolling it on a regular basis.  Instead, it looks like the number I've rolled the most is '7' at 6 times.  I have rolled all the other numbers an almost equal number of time except for '2'.  It has been rolled zero times.

But anyway... moving along...

This is a first landing for me on either of the New Orleans squares... and to be honest, I would have done a lot better with the other New Orleans square, the one for an island or ocean.  I've got a longer list I can select from.  Lots of books that take place in England, or some other random island.

Gothic books, or even ghost stories, have never really been my cuppa, though I will admit that I've enjoyed my fair share of them recently.  I played with the idea of buying an extra roll, but then decided that I needed to break out of my shell and continue trying something Gothic.

I've recently read such gems as The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart and The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, both by authors I plan to continue reading at some point.

There are a few Simone St. James books that I'm still interested in, and just as well, I picked up some Victoria Holt from a book sale not long ago out of curiosity.  I might even be persuaded to read another Deanna Raybourn book, because I think there's a particular one I haven't read yet.

HOWEVER, in the end, I suddenly made a decision to read something else entirely.  It is neither a book I own, nor an author I ever thought to read previously, but the title caught my attention, and the summary sounds quite interesting.  And apparently there's archaeology involved.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley, is tagged Gothic at Goodreads, and the summary mentions ghostly sightings.  So I became curious and decided to just go with it.  The book is set at 430 pages, Kindle version, that I am checking out from the library e-book collection.  That will be a $10.00 increase to my Bank Balance upon completion.

I have never read Susanna Kearsley before, but as I've been picking up so many new authors already this year, why stop now?  I've read a lot of good things about many of her other books, so hopefully I'll like this one.

And while I'm at it, since it IS Friday, I will also be announcing my third Free Friday Read!

Originally I was going to continue with the ICE series, so I could finish it up, with the last book, Hot on the Hunt, since I read Secret Agent Secretary for the last BLopoly roll (see above).  But while I was surfing Goodreads, I came across a Pamela Clare blog update about her newest installment of Colorado High Country.  And because Pamela Clare has been an auto-buy author for me ever since I read her I-Team series, I made a last minute decision, right before posting this blog post.

Tempting Fate is 322 pages (Kindle version) and will net me +$6.00!  And also, I couldn't pass up the chance to read this now that it's out.  I'm not even sure I know how I missed this book's release, since I've been trying to follow Pamela and her news updates regularly.  But I guess this just goes to show how little I actually follow my Goodreads news feed.

Hot on the Hunt will just have to wait for another roll...

Current Bank:   $131

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Brief Ramblings: Secret Agent Secretary

Secret Agent Secretary

by Melissa Cutler
Book 2 of ICE: Black Ops Defenders

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

Tops on Avery Meadows's bucket list is assisting in the capture of an international criminal mastermind… from the safety of her desk as an ICE Agency secretary.  But when fate catapults her into the arms of sexy, brooding Ryan Reitano — an undercover ICE agent with dangerous secrets and a past he's desperate to hide — Avery's dream of saving the world takes on a whole new twist...

I think I liked this second ICE book more than the first.  The heroine, Avery Meadows, was all sorts of geeky fun, what with her overactive imagination about what super secret agents do, admitting that maybe she's watched and/or read one too many spy novels.  But that doesn't negate the fact that she's pretty cool and quick on her feet in explosive situations.

Much like the first book, however, there's a lot of forward movement, and a lot of excitement, so you don't really get much time to stop and dwell on any of the events.  So, to be honest, aside from waxing poetic about how much I loved Avery and her quirky, all-things-secret-agent-obsessed nerdy personality, there's not much else to say.

Main scenes that I found fun and that stood out the most were:

1)  Avery's construction of a paperclip chain in order to zip up her super expensive bright pink dress, and then being unable to unhook said paperclip chain from her dress zipper, so she just stuffs it down the back of her dress.  I also found the very first scene of her turning in circles trying zip up her dress from behind kind of amusing as well; this before she finally came up with the paperclip chain.

And all of this was done at the ICE office.

2)  Avery playing with Ryan's whip, playfully whapping him in the chest why they chat about being a secret agent; this taking place moments after they detain two thugs.  Then she claims the whip for her own.  The whip thing is actually a lot less kinky than it sounds.

3)  The two of them groping a Remington XM2010 sniper rifle.  Okay, this scene was super hot... even if I have no idea what kind of firearm that is.

Believe me, Avery does a lot of things that are both cringe-worthy, in a nerdy way, and also super awesome... in a nerdy way.  She was the life of this book.

Ryan was great as the standard broody alpha male.  He had his moments that endeared him to me, but, to be honest, he didn't stand out like super spy Avery Meadows did!


Roll #23:
BL Task #1 says:  "Let a BL friend choose your next book!"

Page Count:  248
Cash Award:  $6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $131

Quick Thoughts: Her Wild Hero | and companion stories

Her Wild Hero

by Paige Tyler
Book 3 of X-Ops

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

Name: Kendra Carlsen
Rank: Trainer, Dept. of Covert Ops
Objective: Get out of the office and into the field

Name: Declan MacBride
Rank: Munitions Expert, Dept. of Covert Ops
Status: Bear Shifter
Objective: Protect Kendra at all costs

The steamy Costa Rican jungle brings out the bear in Declan MacBride when he and new operative Kendra Carlsen are ambushed.  In the midst of relying on each other to survive, and fighting his explosive attraction to Kendra, this shifter is about to lose control...

Her Wild Hero is just as enjoyable and exciting as the previous two books in Tyler's X-Ops series.  I was sorely disappointed in my library for skipping Book #3 of this series after I finished reading the first two books--they just kept adding on other Paige Tyler books, and NOT this one, going straight to Book #4.

But enough of that rambling about my library--because I can never stay upset at them for long.  Aside from being an enjoyable, exciting survival suspense, the book continues the background conspiracy concerning experimental testing of shifters and creation of human-shifter hybrids by injecting animal DNA in a human vessel.  And apparently, the plot continues to thicken with each book.

I like that the book doesn't spend the entire story detailing the romance, since, obviously, our main characters have more important things to worry about--such as staying alive in hostile territory.

But little bits of jealousies and lust sneaks into a few scenes here and there... and then suddenly there's a huge disconnect when our main couple finally hop right into the romance and sexy times part of the story as if they aren't being chased by packs of bloodthirsty, violent hybrids, bent on either killing or capturing them.  Then we return to the regularly scheduled program, and our couple is back to running from the threat, fighting and killing their way out of the Costa Rican jungles.

I mean, I don't begrudge an author her right to insert sexy times into her books, but the time and place was just a little inappropriate (in a cave, of all places... however, Declan is part bear, so maybe it was fitting?).  Her previous two books at least brought the sexy times when no one was running from danger and it was just another day before the rest of the action got started again.

But aside from that little snafu, where the world kind of stops turning so our main couple could jump each other--meanwhile their rescue party is having a hell of a time trying to locate them and getting injuries and exhaustion while they're at it, which I found kind of amusing for some reason--the rest of the book was quite entertaining.


Roll #22:
This book is tagged 'fantasy' on GR; a book about shifters.

Page Count:  334
Cash Award:  $6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $125

Meanwhile, I also went ahead and read the two companion short stories the author had written for Declan and Kendra.

Declan and the Disney Elves is a short story that is set in a timeline pre-Her Wild Hero.

It was pretty cute, though I'm not sure what it has to do with Disney elves.  Because there are Disney elves, and then there are Santa's elves.  But whatevs.  This was a cute read and some of the humor was giggle-worthy.

Rating:  4.0 Stars

Click on the above banner to read the story.

An X-Ops Honeymoon is set post-Her Wild Hero, following Declan and Kendra (as the title states) during their honeymoon in New England.

It's a nice follow-up to the main story, with a kidnapping and more politics to deal with.  A great treat for fans, that's for sure, but doesn't seem to add onto what we know of the ongoing background conflict of X-Ops.  Still, worth a go when you're at a standstill on what to read.

There were just a lot of typos in the context, and a lot of schmaltz and repetition in the dialogue.  About what you'd expect of a free read, so I'm not complaining much.

Rating:  3.5 Stars

This short story is only available via Paige Tyler's newsletter subscription, and I was lucky enough to sign up at about the time she started mailing the first chapter.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Brief Thoughts: Pushing the Line

Pushing the Line

by Kimberly Kincaid
Book 4 of The Line series

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  3.5 Stars

Free-spirited artist Harper McGee is happy to go wherever the wind takes her… until her flight pattern sends her back to Brentsville, New York for her beloved grandmother's funeral.  Harper’s grief turns to shock, however, when she discovers her grandmother has named her sole proprietor of her candy shop, Luscious.  But she has no intention of being anchored to one place, and anyway, she doesn’t know the first thing about running a kitchen or a business.  Selling Luscious is the only viable option— until the shop catches fire due to old wiring.  Fixing the damage requires major work, and if Harper wants to put it on the market, she needs major help.

Thrill-seeking firefighter Aaron Fisher has never walked away from a challenge or a friend.  So when a fellow firefighter is hurt on a call and can’t complete a side job for his contracting company, Aaron’s quick to jump in.  He’s done plenty of fix ‘er ups for his buddy in the past, and despite his silver spoon upbringing and his no-holds-barred attitude, swinging a hammer suits Aaron just fine.  That is, until he discovers the client is the same impetuous woman he forcibly dragged from the flames of Brentsville’s local candy shop.

The more time Harper and Aaron spend at Luscious, the hotter their attraction burns, daring them both to shed their tough outer layers to reveal the tender desires beneath.  But when a buyer makes Harper the offer of a lifetime, she must choose between roots and wings.  Can two people who live in the moment learn to see past the moment, or will Aaron and Harper always live their lives pushing the line?

I hadn't reviewed any of the previous books in The Line series, as they were also short, novella-length stories with light and breezy, cute romance, with a touch of sexy... and it was enough to satisfy a couple hours of my day.  Not much to think about, but readily enjoyable.

The Line series was where I had been introduced to Kimberly Kincaid for the first time, finding that I immensely loved her writing style.  I remember calling it enjoyable and witty-good, or something to that effect when I reviewed a book from a different series of hers.

Simply put, Kimberly Kincaid is a fun author to read.

Pushing the Line is a great addition to the four book series (which was originally a trilogy, by the way, so don't know if more books are in the make).  It feels like a wrap up for the series, however, since all the couples from the previous three books were brought back in a very Couple Curtain-ish manner, despite the fact that their presence DOES kind of fit.

Like the previous books, Pushing the Line was fun and flirty, enjoyable and cutesy-sweet, with a nice dose of steamy hot.  If it's one thing I would have loved for this short book, it would be a more fleshed out, better developed story line.  There was so much potential to the events and the conflict in this book, but a lot of the action took place in time skips.

I would have loved to see Harper start to realize her love for making candies with her grandmother's recipes, and maybe a scene or two of her slowly softening to the idea of remaining in Brentsville.  I would have liked to see her get along with everyone in town and find that she loved being in Brentsville.  Instead, Harper and Aaron make their first batch of pecan clusters, and then suddenly we're a week later--feelings have grown deeper, and Harper has made batch after batch of her grandmother's candies for all her new friends.

And then the ending was rather abrupt, truth be told.

And that's really the only thing I would have wanted about Pushing the Line:  More.  Because Harper and Aaron are interesting characters, fun to be around.

And I like firefighters and would have loved to see more of that aspect of Aaron's life...


Roll #22:
Start Space says:  "Read any book!"

Page Count:  122
Cash Award:  $4.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $119

Brief Thoughts: Talk Sweetly to Me (novella)

Talk Sweetly to Me

by Courtney Milan
Brothers Sinister #4.5 (novella)

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way.  She's a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper's daughter who dreams of the stars.  Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal.  She'll take obscurity, thank you very much.

All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is.  He's an infamous advice columnist and a known rake.  When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he's also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome.  But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn't just a scandal waiting to happen.  He's waiting to happen to her... and if she's not careful, she'll give in to certain ruination.

This novella felt immensely too short and I wish we could have gotten more about Rose and Stephen.  Their story didn't feel as fleshed out as it could have been considering how wonderfully created Rose's character is.  I loved the astronomer geekiness in her, with her super excellent computing skills, and how she kind of just nerds out at the idea of being able to watch the Venus transit.

Anytime we get a super smart female character in any book, with little quirks like Rose has, I get all giddy and smiley.  We do not have nearly enough of these types of heroines in fiction--smart, decisive, ambitious... not doormats.  And yet at the same time, sweet and level-headed.

Stephen was a bit hard to like at the beginning, but then he starts flinging the jokes and I'm reminded of his brief appearances in the fourth Brothers Sinister book, and how much I enjoyed reading his 'Actual Man' column excerpts.  His penchant for being a jokester also melded quite well with his sudden turn to seriousness... sort of.  There was a slight disconnect, but it's barely noticeable.

It's just that, I'm not entirely sure what Stephen's mission had been when he wanted to get to know Rose.  When he claims that his intentions weren't seduction, I actually kind of believe him.  Because I'm not even sure he knew what he was trying to accomplish.

Anyway, this was a great addition to the Brothers Sinister series, though I do wish we could have seen more of the previous characters, rather than just having a mention of one.  There was some touching upon the race relations that I think was handled very well--the way Rose and her sister were treated by Dr. Chillingsworth was appallingly upsetting.  There were so many times that I just wanted to hit the guy for his "women like her" comments.  But that was (and sometimes still is) the reality of life.  And so it makes me happy to see Rose stand up for herself and her sister, eventually.

Overall, Talk Sweetly to Me was a very enjoyable novella that kind of just sucks you right in.  Before you know it, it's over and you feel that gaping hole that reminds you that the Brothers Sinister series is officially completed.

Booklikes-opoly | Roll #23!

Booklikes, the book blogging social platform

Roll #22 was a two-fold roll, netting one set of doubles.

  • Roll #22.1:  Rolled a double 4 = 8, and landed on Start Space.
    • Start Space says: "Read any book!"
    • Read Pushing the Line for 122 pages = $4.00, increasing bank to $119.
    • A review will be posted soon.  A very enjoyable, yet short and sweet romance with great characters.  I just wish the story had been a little bit longer.
  • Roll #22.2:  Rolled a 9, and landed on Fantasyland 9.
    • Read Her Wild Hero for 334 pages = $6.00, increasing bank to $125.
    • Book is tagged 'fantasy' at GR; book about shifters.
    • A review will be posted soon.  But much like the two books previous, this was super enjoyable and super steamy.  And there are a lot of explosions and gunfire and blood.

And now Roll #23:

I rolled a 4, which brings me to a BL Square (12).

It's another day, another roll, and everyone's excited!

Landing on the BL Square means that I roll again to figure out which task I need to do.  So with my nifty smart phone dice roller app, I roll:

There a bit of a glare, but the top of the screen clearly states that I rolled BL Task #1:

"Let a BL friend choose your book!  Post a list of 4 books - first one to comment chooses your next read."

So with COYER Summer Reading List in mind, specifically how this week is the "Read e-books only" readathon, I went through my Reading List and picked four e-books to choose from:

Secret Agent Secretary by Melissa Cutler is the second book in a trilogy I started this year.  A Harlequin Romantic Suspense involving ICE agents and some missions.  The book is 248 pages.

Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh is the first book of a Romantic Suspense crime thriller series.  There is murder, a snow storm, lost hikers, a photojournalist, and an ex-homicide detective involved.  This book is 315 pages.

Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler is the fourth book of a Paranormal Military Romantic Suspense.  We've got shifters, and government conspiracies, and romance.  Oh my!  This book is 322 pages.

Heat Wave is an anthology collection of three stories by Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly, and Heidi Betts.  Contemporary romances, and sun, and fun sounds like a blast!  This book is 320 pages.

Whichever book gets chosen, I will end up earning $6.00!  Which will bring my Bank Balance to $131!  I feel like I maybe should start doing stuff with this money.

Current Bank:   $125

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

End of Series Review: The House of Steele


The House of Steele

by Addison Fox
Book #3:  The Rome Affair | Goodreads | Rating: 2.5 Stars
Book #4:  The Manhattan Encounter | Goodreads | Rating: 3.0 Stars

See Also: June 2017 Packaged Thoughts // includes short reviews for:

  • Book #1: The Paris Assignment | Goodreads | Rating: 3.0 Stars
  • Book #2: The London Deception | Goodreads | Rating: 4.0 Stars
Overall Series Average Rating: 3.125 Stars  >>>  3.0 Stars

The House of Steele series is enjoyable.  I'd say that it's a great set of books to pass the time... though that might pretty much be it.  The writing style is smooth and progressive, the outlining of the stories are fast-paced, and characters are interesting up to a point.

And, in some strange fashion, the siblings and their significant others all seem to make better side characters than they did main characters.  Is that strange?  For instance, I find that I liked Campbell and his weird quirks a lot more in the last book, The Manhattan Encounter, as the computer geek younger brother, rather than when he was the main character of his own book, The Paris Assignment--wherein he was the broody computer geek with a hot bod.  Maybe seeing the characters from a different perspective...?

Anyway, as with the first two books, I decided to package away the last two books into a duo review... if only because I really don't have much to say other than some random rumblings.

But, once again, The House of Steele series is an enjoyable one.

Two security experts must work too closely for comfort in Addison Fox's The Rome Affair.

Jack Andrews has once again snatched a covetable job from the House of Steele.  But now that the assignment has gotten complicated, he must call upon the last person he wants to ask for help: Kensington Steele.  Jack never flinches at danger, but working side by side with his fascinating, sexy competitor might be more than he can handle.

When the assignment brings them to the Italian vineyard of a corrupt diplomat, Kensington vows to keep things professional, even if working as a team fans the flames of their mutual desire.  But once a murderer begins stalking them, they realize getting close may be the only way they'll survive….

Entertaining, but not really all that memorable, The Rome Affair actually had some potential to be loved by yours truly.  After all, our main couple finds themselves in an undercover assignment together, and at times need to pretend to be enamored with each other.  Of course, with the insta-lust, this isn't a problem for them--typical of any and all contemporary romances, doncha know.

Anyway, I've stated it before, there are a lot of things that rankle me in romances, and one of the top things is when our main male character declares, in all his arrogance, that he and his leading lady will end up having sex at some point, no matter how many times the main female character denies that this will happen, and gives him all sorts of back off signals.

Exhibit A:

"This is a ridiculous conversation.  Only I choose whom I share my bed with."  Her words were flat but the clear notes of irritation sparked underneath each syllable.

"Then you know damn well the next man you share it with is going to be me."

It dearly rankles me, because, despite Kensington's contrary tone at times, she puts it this way:

The statement that she'd share his bed as if it were a fait accompli.  Or worse, as if she had no choice in the matter.

Which is what's significant to me.  The men in these romances announce their intentions, and leave no room for discussion or argument.  Um... maybe actually make sure the woman is willing first?

I get that this is supposed to be some sort of weird, attractive, bad boy slash caveman thing that a lot of woman love--the thing about decisive and assertive men and all--but I, personally, would actually be quite put off by a man who thinks he's already got a sure thing by just saying so.  Which is why this is one of my top most disliked types of romances.  It may not be a physical forcing of sex onto another individual, but it certainly reeks of disrespecting the others' wishes.

Which is why, despite the book being fast-paced and enjoyable to an extent, The Rome Affair didn't do it for me.  And also, unfortunately, as I already stated, the book isn't really all that memorable, and maybe even a little over-dramatic with it's ending.


I read this book for Booklikes-opoly in Summer 2017.

Roll #15: (See Also: Memorial Day Weekend Extra Roll Activities)
Book title begins with a letter found in the word 'Frontier.'

Page Count:  284
Cash Award: +$3.00

Bank increased to $70.00 with this read.

Will the mighty Steele fall?

He'd faced down madmen with guns, hunted thieves and jumped off buildings for fun.  So why is Liam Steele at his wit's end when Dr. Isabella Magnini needs his protection?  The brilliant and beautiful scientist's work is revolutionary, and someone wants to keep her insights secret—no matter what it costs.

When the House of Steele comes together to protect Isabella, Liam realizes just how isolated he's truly become.  And as he and Isabella dodge bullets, fires and even an invasion, he knows he's in more danger than ever.  Because how will he ever let her go?

In all honesty, I'm going to have to admit that there really wasn't anything all that memorable about The Manhattan Encounter.  Enjoyable and exciting as it was, I'm finding it hard to recall anything I liked about this book, outside of the short, peaceful interlude of the entire House of Steele siblings and their significant others having a good ol' time just harping at each other during dinners and lunches.

But otherwise, the book itself was actually kind of lackluster, in spite of all the sci-fi-lite scientific work that Dr. Isabella Magnini presents to us, and in spite of all the deaths and explosions.  Yes.  There were deaths, explosions, bullets flying, and a fire... and still, not that exciting.  Maybe because the book was trying way too hard to give off a feeling of urgency or danger to our MC doctor.

The romance was serviceable, in terms of a romantic suspense love story.  Liam is a grade A jackass at the beginning, but he readjusts his attitude when he realizes that he's being unfair to Isabella.  And Isabella is pretty much that almost absentminded professor type of science person, but still encompasses the characteristic traits of a typical romance novel heroine.

At the very least, she's a facts-based person, and will admit to her own short-failings, but will also stand up against any undeserved criticism from the people around her.  I would have liked to explore more about her life and her back story, honestly, since it was peppered with so much tragedy.

The ending ties up the book nicely, and I DO like, as stated above, how this last book brings all the Steele siblings into the picture, with their significant others, to work a case that was obviously meant to be a BIG DRAMATIC final book in the House of Steele series.  Of course, while events felt big and dramatic, I'm not sure I picked up that vibe, really.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself.  I breezed through the book.  I've finished the series.

And I'm still going to continue reading books by Addison Fox.


I read this book for Booklikes-opoly in Summer 2017.

Roll #21:
This book is set in a city (two cities, even) with a subway, and has one scene of travel by air.

Page Count:  283
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Bank increased to $115 with this read.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Brief Thoughts: The Substitute Sister

The Substitute Sister

by Lisa Childs

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars

Ghostly Whispers

Rocking chairs moving to and fro in the night... and an inherited house straight out of the eeriest of ghost stories.  These were the things Sasha Michaelson found when she arrived on Sunset Island to collect the body of her identical twin... and take charge of her newly discovered niece.

But even more frightening to Sasha than her sister's shadowy presence in the old house, and the killer still running loose on the small island, was the fact that Sheriff Reed Blakeslee stopped her breath and made her heart pound fast.

But was the brooding lawman's determined search for answers caused by a love that hadn't stopped with death...or by a desire - for Sasha - that he couldn't deny?

The Substitute Sister had a pretty intriguing premise that had drawn me in.  And the book started out pretty good.  It had a creepy enough feel, and the additions of a hostile house staff as well as strange noises in the night was a nice touch.  The not quite there paranormal elements were also a lovely add-on, giving the book itself that Gothic feel of being set in a huge mansion on a scenic island.

But the moment that Sasha meets love interest Sheriff Reed Blakeslee, the entire story seemed to automatically slide into "Romance, First and Foremost" territory.  The insta-lust picked up, and despite there having been a murder on the island, and other matters that Sasha now had to attend to, the two of them kept coming back to "growing feelings" that went from insta-lust straight to insta-love.

I feel like I'm repeating myself lately, but I suppose my selection of reading material just hasn't been all that varied.  Although much like some other books I've quite recently read (To the Rescue, The Mysterious Twin), The Substitute Sister is bite-sized and didn't take long to finish.

Don't get me wrong:  The writing style is serviceable and the progression was smooth, actually outlined pretty well on the murder mystery side of things.  Even our main characters had a bit more personality to them than the other romances I mentioned.  And while the main culprit wasn't a surprise, I WILL admit that the book kept me guessing about the entire fiasco--even about whether or not Sasha's twin sister, Nadine, was really dead.

I would probably give this book props for atmosphere, that's for sure.

And as silly as it is to be complaining about how this Romance novel had too much focus on the romance, with an uneven development in our main couple's relationship...  Honestly, that was really the biggest quibble I had about it.  The murder investigation was a bit weakly constructed, but overall effective.

Despite my low rating and my few disappointments, I'm actually interested in continuing to keep Lisa Childs on my radar as an author to check out other books for.


Roll #20:
Water on book cover.

Page Count:  240
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $109.00

Very Brief Thoughts: The Mysterious Twin

The Mysterious Twin

by Leona Karr
Book 1 of Double Exposure
(HQN Intrigue miniseries)

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  2.5 Stars


Masquerading as a nanny for her glamorous twin sister went against Ashley Camdon's prim-and-proper nature.  The quiet academic lived life on the sidelines, but her sibling's "simple" request now put her life in danger and her heart on the line when she met her employer's darkly handsome retainer, Kyle Stone.

An undercover agent, Kyle's orders were to keep close tabs on the new nanny who was implicated in an illegal scam. Yet nothing about this quiet beauty fit her high-living profile. When passion flared between them, her honest kisses exposed their lies.  And made him see that the only life he now wanted…was with her!

The Mysterious Twin is, honestly, one of those books that you read, laugh at all the clichés, mutter about the frustratingly dated romance, and roll your eyes about the standard, stereotype, carbon-copy characters.  It's a book you read that DOES get interesting with progression, but remains a bit on the 'meh' side of actual enjoyment.

It's forgettable.

I suppose I'm also kind of surprised by how quickly I finished reading this book; although, the truth is, it was pretty bite-sized.  In a way, I think I kept reading because I just wanted to know how the book wrapped itself up with the twin-switch deception.  But then, when the resolution DID come around, it was fairly abrupt, to the point that it felt like the author realized she hit her allowed number of pages and needed to end things immediately.

There were a lot of things that I felt like the book could have addressed, like maybe the strained relationship between Ashley and Jill.

But this book is a romance, first and foremost, so we spend the most of the short book detailing how Ashley and Kyle manage to fall in love in spite of all the deception and secrets.  And, honestly, the romantic development was a little weak.

I DID appreciate the rapport that Ashley develops with the children she's pretending to be nanny to.  And I like lighthouses... although one was mentioned and detailed, not much happens around it, so that particular detail was moot.

Anyway, The Mysterious Twin was a nice rainy day read, that really just amounted to "something to do to pass the time."


Roll #20:
One of the characters in this book is a millionaire/billionaire.

Page Count:  256
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $103.00