Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Last O’Keefe: A Cassandra’s Cop Collectanea ~ Crystal Brewton (Part 3) ~ Irish Twins & The Family Historian

You can find the author here.  The anthology isn’t out yet, but check back as I’ll be sure to let you know when it is.

The Last OKeeffee Collectanea

First up, we have the first novella in the Cassandra’s Cops series – Irish Twins.

John and Cass O'Keeffe are celebrating the one year anniversary of their meeting face to face. Of John's seven brothers, only one is able to join them. That's fine with John and Cass. They actually planned it that way. Matthew is John's favorite brother – his Irish Twin. They share everything. And on this day John and Cass plan to share with Matthew something just as precious as the bond between favorite brothers.

So, before we begin, what exactly are Irish Twins?  According to wiseGEEK.org they are exactly this: The term “Irish twins” is used to describe two children born to the same mother within 12 months of each other or born in the same calendar year.  This describes John and Matthew perfectly, considering they are nine months and ten days apart in age. 

I’ll be honest and say that this isn’t the most plot-heavy book Ms. Brewton has ever written, but that doesn’t make it a bad story, either.  Why?  Because we get to know John and Cass much better during this little tidbit of steaminess.  They draw Matthew into their little circle and we get to know him, too. 

In addition to the above, there’s something refreshing about an erotic story as emotionally charged as this one.  Three people who care deeply for one another sharing an illicit evening alone together.  How can anything get better than that?

The first time I read this novella, I thought it a bit odd that John would so willingly invite his brother into bed with himself and his wife.  But having read further into the series, I can see now that it was the most natural thing for him to do – and for Matthew to accept.  Seeing as Cassandra is a very go-with-the-flow kind of woman, it never seemed odd to me that she’d accept.  After all, two gorgeous redheads want you to join them? Yeah, you go for that. 

The Family Historian

I love these little interludes, for lack of a better term, that Ms. Brewton keeps giving us throughout this collection.  In each, you get to know Liam a little bit better on a personal level.  This one is interesting in that it’s Liam’s take on what’s occurred during the stories to date. 

Stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Brokeback Mountain ~ Annie Proulx

I couldn’t find a webpage for the author, but you can find the book at any major retailer or your local library (which is where I found my copy).

brokebackmountain

Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands, come together when they're working as sheepherder and camp tender one summer on a range above the tree line. At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer.

Both men work hard, marry, and have kids because that's what cowboys do. But over the course of many years and frequent separations this relationship becomes the most important thing in their lives, and they do anything they can to preserve it.

The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for Fiction for its publication of "Brokeback Mountain," and the story was included inPrize Stories 1998: The O. Henry Awards. In gorgeous and haunting prose, Proulx limns the difficult, dangerous affair between two cowboys that survives everything but the world's violent intolerance.

I want to preface this by saying I still haven’t seen this movie, as crazy as that might seem.  Honestly, I’m glad that I hadn’t caved because I think having seen the movie before reading this short novella would have really detracted from the impact it had on me. 

Over the course of fifty-five very short pages (the book itself is about half the size of your average paperback), you are introduced to Ennis and Jack and from that moment on you watch them become friends, then lovers, and then everything in the world to each other.  Ennis is the reluctant one, the one who tries hard to please his wife and make things work, no matter how much he’d rather have something he can’t name.  Jack, on the other hand, wants what he wants and nothing more.  He’s the free-spirit and unpredictable one.  He’s also the one that breaks your heart at the end.

The ending of this story caught me completely off guard.  I was traumatized and left feeling hollow and empty for hours after I finished it.  I suppose part of the fault is mine, I knew better to be reading unpredictable material at 6 AM, but I couldn’t stop reading.  The majority of the fault lies in the the concise, controlled prose of the author who, with few words and many emotions, weaves a spectacular story that works its way into you and refuses to let go.  Ever. 

Can I say how very thankful I am that my local library has several other books and collections by this author?  She is simply amazing.  Never have I read a love story so timeless and so all-encompassing that you can’t help but relate. 

~Your extremely emotional Crazy Lady

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my local library because I’ve long wanted to watch the movie but instead stumbled upon the book. 

Fangs of Anarchy Parts 1-3 ~ Dakota Cassidy

You can find the author here and the books here.

fangsofanarchy

Irish McConnell would give his immortality for a taste of Claire Montgomery. But the Fangs of Anarchy leader can’t risk his biker club, his vampire clan, or his tenuous truce with werewolf Gannon Dodd, Claire’s pack alpha—and her intended mate. Nope. Vamps and weres don’t mix, and Irish has managed to keep that in mind for five long, lust-filled years.

But now Claire’s gone and done something really, really (really!) bad, guaranteeing her doom if she’s ever found out. Truce be damned, Irish won’t leave her unprotected, despite the fact this is one murder-filled bundle of trouble he doesn’t need.

And unfortunately for Irish, the trouble’s just beginning…

Okay, so I thought I had already reviewed part 1, but I guess I was wrong.  So, I will lump the first three together, which might actually be easier in the end.

The one thing you need to know going into this is that this is a serial novella and that each part (so far) ends on a mild cliffhanger.  Consider yourself warned.

Claire Montgomery is probably the oddest characters I’ve met in awhile.  She’s not only a werewolf, but a librarian to boot.  Which, if you ask me, is pretty awesome.  I like that she’s mostly mild-mannered and non-aggressive unless she needs to be. And if she needs to be?  You had better watch out. 

Irish McConnell, on the other hand, is your rebel – smoking hot vampire biker bad boy.  At least, on the outside.  Little does the world know that he has a soft spot for a certain librarian.  By the third installment, you’ve gotten to know a little bit more about him, giving him more depth and making him just that much more interesting (and desirable). 

The best part about Irish and Claire’s relationship is all the friendly banter.  No matter what is going on or how dire things look, they each are locked and loaded with an arsenal of snarky comments.  Honestly, it reminds me an awful lot of the relationship I have with my husband.  Besides, it really brings a bit of levity into the intense moments. 

Through part three, Fangs of Anarchy has been a funny, sexy and engrossing series.  The cliffhanger at the end of part two made me thankful I had already purchased part three and had it loaded and ready to go!  I really cannot wait to see where Irish and Claire end up and seriously – why the heck did she do it?

Disclaimer: I purchased these e-books with my own hard earned cash because I lurve Dakota and want to support her any way I can. 

~TCL

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vile ~ Debra Webb (Faces of Evil #8)

You can find the author here and the book here or at any major retailer. (I probably should state that the links to Amazon are not affiliate links, but I do prefer Amazon to just about everything).

Vile Debra Webb Cover

Deputy Chief Jess Harris knows her time is running out. Somehow she must protect the people she loves and any more innocent victims from the serial killer obsessed with her.

Is sacrificing herself the only way to stop this evil?

The Faces of Evil series by Debra Webb is one of the most engrossing, addicting series of romantic thrillers I have ever read.  I received the first four novels at once, for review, and devoured them in something like three weeks.  I was hooked long before I received books five and six in the mail. 

2013-07-19 16.31.34

So, okay.  Yes, there’s that.  Every time I open my ‘book closet’ I’m greeted by this pile of brightly colored books.  It’s a happy experience.  (Well, until you see the state of my book closet, but we’re not going there today.)

As with every book in this series, Vile picks up immediately where Vicious left off.  Meaning, each and every novel so far has ended in an ‘holy guacamole you did not just stop right there’ sort of way.  Although cliffhangers like these can be extremely difficult to deal with, it makes picking up the next in line so much easier to do.  There’s no set up, no gentle easing into the story – nope – you’re grabbed by one arm and drug right back into the middle of the action.  Vile isn’t any exception. 

Vile is, to date, the most intense installment in this series.  Not only does Jess have her usual issues to deal with – internal strife at work, dead bodies, her family, etc. – but also an entirely new set of issues arise in the form of a pregnancy, someone trying to frame Dan, and oh, yeah: Eric Spears’ newfound following of nuts.  Vile finally starts to bring together some of the bits and pieces Ms. Webb planted in earlier novels, helping to draw the strings just a bit tighter. 

I’ve mentioned this in other reviews, but truly the thing that makes these books so readable is the big bad: Eric Spears.  Why?  I’m not entirely certain, but my theory is this: he seems so normal.  Not like the crazies you see on Criminal Minds or other shows like that, the kind that you can see coming a mile away.  No, The Player is handsome, he’s smart, he’s charming and he’s rich.  He’s that reclusive businessman that no one gives a second thought to because he’s ‘just a little eccentric’.  Oops – we mean he’s a serial killer, sorry. 

I know that in the end, Jess, Dan, and the Birmingham Police Department are going to bring him down, and I’ll be sad when it happens.  Partly because some tiny bit of me wants to see him thumb his nose at the world, but the biggest part of me screams, “There’ll be no more books once they do!”

On the flip side, book nine – Heinous – releases on my birthday. 

Side note: If you’re wondering where the reviews for the first seven books and the prequel are, I reviewed them for another online site so I can’t post them here.  The are here, however.  Feel free to check them out as well as all the other amazing reviews posted over that way.

Disclaimer: I bought and paid for this e-book with my own hard-earned money because I’m a tiny bit addicted to this series. And maybe Eric Spears, too. Just a little though.

The Last O’Keefe: A Cassandra’s Cop Collectanea ~ Crystal Brewton (Part 2) ~ To Protect, Serve and Love

You can find the author here.  The anthology isn’t out yet, but check back as I’ll be sure to let you know when it is.

The Last OKeeffee Collectanea
To Protect, Serve and Love ~ Cassandra’s Cop was the first of Crystal Brewton’s books I ever read.  I’m still not entirely sure how I even stumbled across her (although back in those days, it was more than likely The Romance Studio’s Book-a-Day Giveaway, which is how I ‘met’ and fell in love with many authors).  Addled mind or not, I’m thankful that I did. 

Chicago is a city where murder, rape, assault and other heinous crimes are an every day occurrence. It is a place where most people can hear a scream and ignore it completely. Apathy reigns and all hope seems lost. Despite the appearance of a city entering the bowels of Hell itself, some of Chicago's citizens still care. Some people will still call the police when they hear a woman scream!

Chicago police officer John O'Keeffe and his partner get called to investigate a woman screaming. The call turns out to be a 14-Nora, a false alarm, but the alleged victim was John's favorite erotic fiction author, whom he'd been corresponding with through email for a year but had never expected to meet in person. He is glad to see she is not being attacked, disappointed that she is with another man, and excited by her nudity during the short false alarm call.

When his shift ends, John meets the strange woman as she is coming from his District station. She invites him for coffee and before the day is out, they fall in love. This story is about their first year together after their unique introduction.

And so begins John and Cass’ story.  From the very beginning, To Protect, Serve, and Love was different from any other erotic romance I’d read (which, at that point, hadn’t been many, but it still holds true today).  From the way they meet to the experiences they endure, it was all so very new to me.  Added bonus: it takes place in Chicago, a city very near and dear to my heart.  Double bonus: John’s a redhead and so is my husband. 

John starts out as a bit of a stereotype – redheaded Irishman from a large family who becomes a cop.  That’s also about where the stereotype ends, as well.  John O’Keefe is a kind-hearted, loving man with a passion for justice and his woman.  That he can be both strong and caring is something that a lot of romance authors forget.  The hero doesn’t have to be a raging alpha male to be effective and protective.  He can have ‘feeeelings’ (to quote the King of Hell) and still be macho, manly, and desirable.  John is all of that and more.

Cassandra, on the other hand, wasn’t anything close to your usual heroine.  A self-employed erotic romance author, she took care of what needed to be done on her own – and did it with style.  However, even though she was as independent as it got, you didn’t have to wade through all of this ‘I don’t need no man’ baloney that too many heroines spew before fainting delicately into the hero’s embrace.  I know, that’s a bit harsh, but back in 2005-ish when I first started reading romance, that’s about all I seemed to find.  (Admittedly, I might have simply been picking the wrong books.)  Today, it’s different, but again, Cassandra Houston still holds up on her own as a unique heroine worthy of recognition.  A woman who can stand on her own but also knows when to lean on her man is a rare thing. 

To Protect, Serve, and Love sets the stage for the next three major Cassandra’s Cops novels, introducing you to John and Cass, as well as their friends, family, and the world they live in.  The story only gets better – and more passionate – from here on out. 

And, because I’m an ├╝ber dork (and just watched the Supernatural finale last night), I can’t resist.  This is for John:

feelings - crowley

Note: I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Last O’Keefe: A Cassandra’s Cop Collectanea ~ Crystal Brewton (Part 1)

You can find the author here.  The anthology isn’t out yet, but check back as I’ll be sure to let you know when it is.

The Last OKeeffee Collectanea
Longer ago than I’m willing to admit, I was introduced to this series by the author and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Centered around a young woman and her husband – a Chicago police officer – and his very Irish family – The Cassandra’s Cop series quickly became one of my favorites. 

So, why part one?  Well, because there are thirty-odd stories, novellas, transitions, and what have you in this fifteen hundred page collection.  That said, I’m not quite bright enough to pull off one review for all of that.  So, you’ll get the reviews in pieces as I read.  Even for the things that aren’t quite meant to be reviewed because, I figure that, if it’s included, there’s a reason for it. 

That said, on to the first two bits!

Prologue: I like prologues and epilogues, but I might be weird.  I like that little introduction before the real story beings plus that little tying up of loose ends at the end.  I love the way that we are introduced to the O’Keefe family here, by way of a brief talk with the eldest brother, Liam. 

Happy Birthday: Another short, introductory piece.  In this brief short piece, we get to know Liam a little more and help celebrate his 102nd birthday.  I’m intrigued, however, by Will Ryder and what role he’ll play by the end. 

Up next: To Protect and Serve ~ Cassandra’s Cop.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Boss ~ Abigail Barnette

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You can find Ms. Barnette here and The Boss here.  Her books can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

A young woman working at a New York City fashion magazine comes to work one day to find the man she had an amazing one night stand with years ago is now her boss.

And that’s not the only thing that goes to hell for Sophie that morning.  Discovering the woman she’d been working under for the last two years has been ousted and the magazine bought out, Sophie is racing to adjust and figure out just what the heck is going on.  Running into Neil only adds to the crazy. 

Sophie is a riot, to say the least.  No matter how bad things look, she can always manage to find a sarcastic remark or something to joke about to lighten the situation.  This isn’t to say that she doesn’t have her down moments, because she does.  Her bravado is just that – bravado.  There are still things in her life that she’s unsure about and it shows.  I love when a character is able to be vulnerable and strong, too. 

Neil is… well, he’s Neil.  He’s sexy and he’s powerful and he’s rich.  But he’s more than that, too.  He’s a father and a business owner and he’s Sophie’s new boss.  The more you get to know Neil, the more you like him.  Seeing him flounder with his daughter or laugh with his friend, Rudy, makes him more real and less perfect. 

Have I ever told you that I’m a sucker for secondary characters?  I have this awful habit of imprinting on the minor characters and falling in love with them more so than the main couple.  While I will say that I absolutely adore Sophie and Neil, I equally adore Rudy, Holli and Deja.  I fiercely hope that there will be more of all three in the next book because they really add a lot to the depth of the story and to Sophie and Neil.  They are more than background noise, they’re a part of the bigger picture.

The Boss does have a sexy twist.  Sophie and Neil agree to a Dom/sub relationship where Sophie is the submissive half.  This is both entertaining and highly seductive as Sophie knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to make her opinion known, but the idea of submitting thrills her.  It’s a learning process for both of them and in these moments we see more clearly who they are and who they might be.  Having burned out on BDSM novels a few years ago, The Boss has breathed new life into the genre for me.  Partly because it is so sensually written, but mostly due to the intensity of the personal relationship between Sophie and Neil.  There’s real respect and friendship even between them. 

Ms. Barnette has a wonderful, flowing style that makes reading her novels effortless. You’re picked up and carried off on the back of Sophie and launched right into her world.  I once had an English teacher tell me that first person point of view was used only by immature writers to tell immature stories.  I have to completely disagree with her because I honestly believe that the effectiveness of this novel lies in the fact that we see it all through Sophie’s point of view making every choice, decision, and action more important to the outcome. 

The Boss is an emotional rollercoaster laced with laughter and jam-packed full of steamy, exciting sex, both involving BDSM and not.  However, there is more to see than the sexual relationship between them.  There’s intrigue and fun and surprises, too.  The twist at the end will leave you stunned and begging for the next installment pronto!  But more than that, it will leave you thinking, wondering about Neil and Sophie and just what on earth they are going to get up to next. 

Disclaimer: I was provided with an advanced copy of The Boss by the author in exchange for a fair review.