Monthly Archives: August 2019

Review of The Woman Left Behind (GO-Team #2), by Linda Howard

I won a paperback copy of Linda Howard‘s The Woman Left Behind through Goodreads. However, it’s audiobooks I’ve been going through lately. So, I borrowed an audio version from Hoopla instead.

Description from Goodreads:

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun…or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina–who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice–making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.

Review:

This was a perfectly fine contemporary romance, I suppose. Certainly the writing is fine and the narrator (Saskia Maarleveld) did a good job. But what constitutes a satisfying story and happy ending apparently differs for the author and I. 

Literally half the book is Babe in training. So exactly half the book that I suspect there was a plot outline that demarcated two halves of the book. And I was bored with all of it. It felt very much like those YA, fantasy novels where you think you’re getting an exciting adventure but you get pages and pages of potions classes instead. 

But even once she finishes the endless training there is no real spark between the main characters and very little happens. The event of the blurb, which is made out to be the plot of the book, doesn’t happen until like 80% and it’s a nothing of an event (one night of running through the night to catch a flight, that she makes). It was a super let down. Certainly not the plot, just one thing that happens. 

But what really irritated me came as a result of that. After the whole book bing intensely focused on how determined Babe is to not be a quitter, and overcoming all her challenges, she quits. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that women have to be like men in a book. But what author would write her badass male character as willing to give up just because she had one bad mission? (Certainly none of the male Go-team menses are quitting.) It felt intensely like a girl not being able to hack it with the men. And I hate that. What’s more, the ‘romance’ was contingent on her quitting. So, you knew all along that she was going to eventually. Which made everything that came before irrelevant, even as you read it. 

None of this was helped by the fact the characters have sex for the first time after she quits. And it’s angry sex with no foreplay. So, it too was a let down. Certainly not worthy of being the only real one in the book. 

All in all, though this might be a fine book objectively, I’d give it a one star based on my own enjoyment. I disliked so very much about it. 

Review of Laurent and the Beast (Kings of Hell MC, #1), by K.A. Merikan

I borrowed an audio copy of Laurent and the Beast (by K.A. Merikan) through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

1805. Laurent: Indentured servant. Desperate to escape a life that is falling apart. 
2017. Beast: Kings of Hell Motorcycle Club vice president. His fists do the talking.

Beast has been disfigured in a fire, but he’s covered his skin with tattoos to make sure no one mistakes his scars for weakness. The accident not only hurt his body, but damaged his soul and self-esteem, so he’s wrapped himself in a tight cocoon of violence and mayhem where no one can reach him.

Until one night, when he finds a young man covered in blood in their clubhouse. 

Sweet, innocent, and as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, Laurent pulls on all of Beast’s heartstrings. Laurent is so lost in the world around him, and is such a tangled mystery, that Beast can’t help but let the man claw his way into the stone that is Beast’s heart.

In 1805, Laurent has no family, no means, and his eyesight is failing. To escape a life of poverty, he uses his beauty, but that only backfires and leads him to a catastrophe that changes his life forever. He takes one step into the abyss and is transported to the future, ready to fight for a life worth living. 

What he doesn’t expect in his way is a brutal, gruff wall of tattooed muscle with a tender side that only Laurent is allowed to touch. And yet, if Laurent ever wants to earn his freedom, he might have to tear out the heart of the very man who took care of him when it mattered most.

Review:

Honestly, not bad. I generally enjoyed this, but several things held me back from loving it. First, I struggled with how naive Laurent was. That he would be confused by the future makes sense. But he also seemed naive in his own time and there was at least one point in the story where his naiveté seemed so extreme as to feel artificial to force the plot along. 

What’s more I struggled with him only being 19, to Beast’s 32. I understand that in 1805 19 wouldn’t have been very young. But the way he was constantly called ‘the boy’ and treated as a child, even during sex scenes squinked me out. 

Second, the lack of communication between the men, leading to misunderstandings annoyed me. This isn’t a rare plot device, but here some of them were too ridiculous to swallow. What was causing the problem was so very obvious that I couldn’t believe Beast didn’t see it.

Lastly, I didn’t feel like anyone outside of Laurent and Beast were given any depth. Everyone accepted time travel and demons with barely a raised eyebrow, and Merikan wasn’t whole successful in making the bikers both dangerous outlaws AND not bad guys. 

Despite all of that, I did mostly enjoy it and will likely pick up the next in the series at some point.

Review of Wild Blood (Cyborg Shifters #1), by Naomi Lucas

I borrowed an audio copy of Naomi LucusWild Blood through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Dommik was a monster, a Monster Hunter, and an alpha. Part of an elite group that dealt with the horrors of the universe. At least that was what everyone at the spaceport was whispering as he walked by. A Cyborg, a hunter, a beast with eyes as dark as the pits of Hell and the stride of a predator. 

Katalina was a nobody who was intimate with death. It clung to her like a shroud, It followed her like the plague, and infected her like a parasite. When she overheard that the Monster Hunter needed an assistant, she took the job. And when the Cyborg’s eyes caught hers, she knew getting closer to death might just bring her back to life. 

The Cyborg didn’t scare her. 
So she followed him and left fate up to chance. 

Review:

This was……

This was interesting, as people in my family would politely say to avoid saying anything bad. I listened to the audio version, so I can’t say with certainly that the editing was clean. But I didn’t notice any errors in the mechanical writing, as it was read. But the story was…not for me. 

I appreciated that the cyborg was less human-like than a lot of sci-fi romance cyborgs. He was truly a melding of machine, altered DNA and man (even during sex). And I appreciated that Kat wasn’t a pushover and went after what she wanted. 

But there was very little smooth progression in the romance (there was none). Dommik did some things I would find unforgivable. Most of the sex was subtly written using the language of abuse. The closest thing to an antagonist in the book is the only other significant female in the story (and she’s the sexy femme fatale archetype too, super cliched). And there’s no real plot or world-building beyond giving the characters somewhere to boink, but not so little as to mark this as straight erotica. All in all, I just kind of found this a weak showing in general. Plus, I thought the narration really flat. And sex scenes read with little inflection are awkward beyond belief.