Monthly Archives: August 2017

Review of Illegal Contact (The Barons #1), by Santino Hassell

I received a copy of Illegal Contact, by Santino Hassell, through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Gah, how to express my feelings about this book? If this was the first Hassell book I’d ever read I’d probably call it a 4 or 5 star book. Honestly, I think it’s the best thing he’s written since Sutphin Boulevard. But it’s the twelfth book by him I’ve read, many in the last year or two, and I’m afraid I’m burning out. Because as grumpy-cute as Gavin was and mouthy-cute as Noah was, they sound and act exactly like too many of Hassell’s other characters. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking football platers, school teachers, dock workers, band members, psychics or assassins a person just plain loses interest if they’re basically given the same character in different settings, and that’s how I’m feeling about Hassell’s books lately.

And I know a lot of authors write to a formula. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes it hard for a dedicated fan to maintain their excitement. Thus, here I am. Hassell is an auto-buy (or request) for me, but lately the books sit on my Kindle far longer than they should before I work up the gumption to read them. Because I know exactly what I’ll get, the good and the bad.

So, if you like Hassell’s past characters and you’re someone who doesn’t believe there can every really be too much of a good thing, buy this book. The writing is good, as always. The characters are cute. The sex is hot, a little kinky but it’s not a kinky book. It stands alone; all good things. Just be prepared to confuse Gavin with most of Hassell’s other alpha-grumps and Noah with other his mouthy betas.

Review of Choices (The Seven Keys Saga, #1) by M.A. Brotherton

I received an Audible code from the narrator, David Loving, for a copy of Choices, by M. A. Brotherton. Or at least I think I did. In reviewing the email, I see that this is definitely the link I was provided, but the listed title (in the email) was Melt Zone. So, there’s a distinct possibility I’ve just listened to the wrong book.

Description from Goodreads:
Three years have passed since the war between the Six Orders, the ancient societies governing magic and nineteen-year-old Terry Howard, Acolyte of the Midnight Order is just trying to live a life as close to normal as possible. With the support of the few people in the world he hasn’t alienated, that almost seems possible. 

But when his ex, Carrie, asks him to look into a magic related suicide and his mentor, Stanley, announces his retirement, Terry is forced deal with his emotional baggage before everything he’s managed to build gets torn away.

I have to be honest, this was not a big winner for me. Mostly because I so often didn’t know what was going on. There was a huge cast of characters who were never fully introduced, let alone fleshed out. Terry seemed to develop skills and knowledge as needed in a very hand wavey kind of way. And though there was plenty of action, there was 100% no emotion. This in a character who was supposed to be suffering PTSD and encountering frightening experiences. It all felt very flat.

What’s more, I couldn’t really see Terry as 19 and, while he’s supposed to be super trained or something, how his friends had their power/skill or how they all met was not addressed. This is marked book one, but maybe there is a prequel out there or something? For sure, something is missing in this book, something important.

Lastly, I was not impressed with Loving’s narration. It was too fast. This didn’t bother me at first or when I listened to the sample, but it sure did as the book went on (and it sounded funny if I listened at .75x) and I just don’t think he did a very good job at sounding natural.

I did very much appreciate the diverse cast and mechanically the writing was pretty good. Others may very well love this. I didn’t. I saw how it could have been pretty good, but don’t think it quite managed it.

Review of Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1), by Gail Carriger

I received an Audible code through AudioBookBoom for a copy of Poison or Protect, by Gail Carriger.

Description from Goodreads:
Can one gentle Highland soldier woo Victorian London’s most scandalous lady assassin, or will they both be destroyed in the attempt? 

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a stand-alone romance novella set in her popular steampunk universe full of manners, spies, and dainty sandwiches. 

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment. 

It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one. 

Buy Poison or Protect today to find out whether it’s heartbreak or haggis at this high tea. 

The dedication to this book is “For everyone one of my fans who reached out and said, “If Gail Carriger writes it, I will read it….”” Well, I’ve not reached out, but I find I have become one of those fans. Poison or Protect is a novella set in the same world as the Finishing SchoolParasol Protectorate, and Custard Protocol series. You see one or two familiar faces, but it stands separate from each; perhaps only tentatively alone, as you still need to know some of the world details—what a drone is, why vampires are so geographically limited, werewolf hierarchies—but it isn’t actually part of any of Carriger’s bigger series.

I adored both Preshea and Gavin. Both were characters I wanted to gather to me. Their dynamic is one that just pushes all my buttons. I won’t include a spoiler, but just say I found them very sexy. And the book is more sexually explicit that I’ve seen in the bigger series. Not overly so at all, but this is not a YA book.

The writing is tight and gloriously proper, as always, and Lavington did an amazing job narrating it. All in all, a winner for me.