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Catch a Ghost by S.E. Jakes

Catch a GhostCatch a Ghost by S.E. Jakes
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Novel:  65,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Everyone knows that Prophet—former Navy SEAL, former CIA spook, full-time pain in the ass—works alone. But his boss at Extreme Escapes, Ltd. has just assigned Proph a new partner and a case haunted by ghosts from Proph’s past. Suddenly, he has to confront both head-on.

Tom Boudreaux—failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full-time believer in bad luck—is wondering why the head of a private contracting firm has hunted him down to offer him a job. Still, he’s determined to succeed this time, despite being partnered with Prophet, EE’s most successful, lethal, and annoying operative, on a case that resurrects his own painful past.

Together, Prophet and Tom must find a way to take down killers in the dangerous world of underground cage matches while fighting their own dangerous attraction. When they find themselves caught in the crossfire, these two loners must trust each other and work together to escape their ghosts . . . or pay the price.

 Excerpt

This is an action book…or it is suppose to be.  I assumed that would be very true going into the story, but Prophet right off is in casts and is constantly hurt.  This was a bit irritating since you can tell he is the big action guy.  Also the basic characterizations of these two men are close to what they are in the Cut & Run series.  I didn’t like these two as much either.

Prophet is a big badass and Tom has a rep for getting his partners killed.  So why would a man that likes Prophet and wants him to run the company someday put these two together.  This is not explained in this book.  The writing was good.  I thought the author did a good job in trying to keep the two men’s past shady and mysterious.  I think maybe the execution of the plot was a bit of an issue.  Prophet is just not likable and Tom I just didn’t understand.  I didn’t get the relationship either.  I would think there would be SOMETHING, just a little something besides attraction for a relationship as intense as they seem to act like it is to develop.  I just didn’t see it.

I liked the book.  I know it seems like I didn’t.  I just didn’t connect to the characters and see the relationship.  The last part of the story actually gets pretty good.  I was just starting to get the characters a little more when BAM!  It all blows up and is over…WHAT!?!  The author picks a really difficult place for me to like to come back to the series.  I mean why would I want to if it looks like Prophet is going to hook up with another guy and one I’m not sure I like either?

I think this is a good book but could have been better.  The premise behind it is solid and interesting there just needed to be a little more between the characters to get me into and liking the story.  As it was I just couldn’t.  I will most likely read the next book because of the improvement at the end of this one with the hope that Prophet doesn’t go there!

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Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux

Shock & AweShock & Awe by Abigail Roux
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Short Story:  25,300 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.

Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.

Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

Excerpt

So this is a spin off to the “Cut & Run” series, this is featuring the men of Sidewinder, Ty’s military group.  The story picks up with Kelly’s release from the hospital after being shot in New Orleans and his and Nick’s arrival at Kelly’s cabin in Colorado.

My major gripe is this book is soooo short.  I wish I could have had a longer story.  I felt like I was just getting into these two and the story is over.  There is an additional short at the end but I couldn’t figure out why it was separate.  It is such a continuation of the story it didn’t seem like it needed to be separate.  The characters are interesting and much deeper than the length of the story would lead you to believe.  Nick is the more complex and interesting of the two and I would have loved to have get more insight into the man.  Kelly was too shallow in this story to get much of a read on him.  It will be interesting if we see more of these two in this series to see if more of Kelly comes out.

The writing is excellent.  What is glimpsed of the characters is just as good.  The sex is SIZZLING!!!!  If you are a fan of the “Cut & Run” series you will enjoy this book.  I think most fans will be disappointed at the length though.

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The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau

The Flesh Cartel #2 AuctionThe Flesh Cartel #2: Auction by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Short Story:  17,600 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Sublime service, made to order.

In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated rapes and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.

Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.

Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.

Excerpt

*sigh*  This is a hard book to rate.  This is part of series that is being published.  It is VERY graphic and harsh and not for the faint of heart.  Doug and Mat have been kidnapped and have no clue why and what is to become of them.  They have been brutalized, raped and dehumanized.  They are “holes” and are to act exactly as their kidnappers demand or the punishment is unbelievable.

As I’ve said this is a brutal story.  I’ve thought of stopping reading it because it is so harsh and seems that there is no hope for the brothers, especially for Mat who is the less wanted of the two.  I must admit right off the writing is gritty but good.  You really feel for the brothers.  The authors do a wonderful job of putting you right into the men’s head space and bring you suffering along.  The character grab you from the start and the more the story goes and you learn about these men the more you become attached to them.  It’s easy to feel for either of them though they each go through very different suffering.  The quality that the two author bring to the story is amazing.  If not for that I would never had finish the first book.

This is a book that is hard to read but sooooo good.  It is so hard to explain the disgust you can get with it and yet want to keep reading.  If this wasn’t just a single piece of a bigger story I would give it a bouquet but I just can’t go that far with this story and how short it was.

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Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

Second Hand SextonSecond Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Novel:  49,200 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel
Roses:  3
 

Paul Hannon moved to Tucker Springs for his girlfriend, but she’s left him with a house he can’t afford and a pantry full of useless gadgets. All Paul wants is to get back to normal, even if he’s not sure what that is anymore. When he wanders into Tucker Pawn for a gift to win her back, he meets El Rozal, pawn shop owner and all-around cynic.

El Rozal doesn’t do relationships, especially not with clueless straight boys still pining for their ex. El may make his living dealing in castoffs, but that doesn’t apply to men. Still, when Paul starts clearing out his old life, pawning kitchen equipment he never wanted in the first place, El is drawn to Paul in spite of himself.

Paul and El have nothing in common except a past full of disappointments. There’s no reason to believe the two of them could fit, but in El’s line of work, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When it comes to love, El and Paul may learn that secondhand doesn’t mean second best.

Excerpt

Poor clueless Paul.  He seems so sweet.  I had read about El before in “Dirty Laundry” and he appears to be the perfect foil for sweet Paul.  El is given much more depth in this book compared to that.  El is also clueless in that he doesn’t seem to believe that he needs someone.  Paul knows but can’t figure out how to get someone.  Perfect!

 

I’ve always enjoyed these two authors.  Individually they are good writers and together they mess well.  The story has a solid plot line and good build.  Now the overall crisis you could see coming a mile away but that didn’t ruin what was a very “pretty” love story.  The characters were well drawn.  I really loved the two of them and very easily connected to them.

 

There was one niggle for me though and it’s that there was no real “drama” to me.  It’s just a sweet story.  I expected a little more with these two authors and didn’t get it so it was a bit of a letdown.  If you’ve read these two women’s books before it has a little bit of a different feel to it.  If this was an unknown author to me it may not have been as big a letdown.  Still it was a…okay story, nothing huge and not terrible.  One of those stories that are just like a warm read for a rainy, cold day.

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Once a Brat by Kim Dare

Once a Brat by Kim DareOnce a Brat by Kim Dare
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Short Story:  25,400 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  1
 

Experienced dominant Marcus Tremayne has a stalker. On the plus side, the boy following him around his local leather club is gorgeous and a self-professed submissive. Unfortunately, he’s also inexperienced, bratty, and liable to drive Marcus insane within his incessant chatter and questions.

Bret Daniels fell head over heels with Marcus the moment he first saw him. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get Marcus’s attention and prove his worth as a submissive. He might not be a traditional sub, but he knows he has a lot to offer a dom who can handle his quirks.

When Marcus gives in and agrees to do a scene with Bret, sparks fly. One scene quickly becomes another, and another. But will it be a case of once a brat, always a brat? Bret intends to prove to Marcus that—expectations and experiences aside—he deserves his master’s collar.

Excerpt

If you have read any of Kim Dare’s work you know the usual writing style.  I’m a bit disappointed by this one.  There is usually a lack of depth to the stories that I put down to being a short story.  This one was really flat.  The characters were interesting but not particularly engaging.  Cute but not captivating.  I liked the characters but the plot didn’t go anywhere, or at least not anywhere unexpected.  I also didn’t agree with the love angle in the story.

This story just didn’t impress me.  It was entertaining but not particularly good:(

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