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Read any good books lately? I have! Grab a cup of coffee or a beverage of your choice and sit back, relax, and have a peek at the books I've loved, the books I didn't, and the reasons why. Enjoy, and happy reading!

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~Tracy

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Consumed by Rebecca Zanetti

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Dark Protectors, Book 4
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 336 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Kensington Publishing via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.



Kicking Myself for Starting Late


When she was a child he rescued her from a grim fate. Now she's all grown up and its his turn. Problem is, he's being damn stubborn about it.

Skilled hunter and feline shifter Katie Smith has always felt drawn to Jordan Pride, leader of the feline nation, but the man seems to think that just because he saved her from a vile foster father when she was five her feelings are no more than misplaced hero worship. Sure, that might have been true when she was a kid, but she's an elite warrior for her people, fighting on the front lines in a decade-long war against an enemy intent on infecting them all, and she more than knows her own mind. Convincing him of that, however, would be considerably easier if he stopped pushing her away at every turn.

For ten years, Katie has let him, living her life while ignoring the ache of missing him. Then a member of her guard hands her a file containing the latest intel on a newly infected shifter. It'll be her job to hunt him down before the virus turns him into a murderous monster. When she opens the file, though, the bottom drops out of her world, because the picture inside is of a face that's been dear to her heart since she was five years old. Jordan Pride.

Now she's supposed to kill the one man who saved her life and the only man she's ever loved. Yeah...not on her watch. Problem is, she's got very little time to figure out how to save a man who seems determined not to be saved.

~*~

I wish I'd found this series sooner, or realized before I started this book that it wasn't the first in the series. Zanetti created a solid plotline for the novel, and the main characters are definitely likable and easy to root for, but much of it is dependent on the surrounding world and previously established history, and it included a large number of secondary characters that were strangers to me. I spent most of the book feeling like I was outside looking in, struggling to catch onto what was going on and who it was happening to instead of feeling immersed in the story.

What made it even more annoying is that it's clearly a damn good series arc with interesting, fully developed characters, and the world they inhabit is rich and complex. I would have loved to have felt more connected to it all. There just wasn't enough detailed explanation of the world or the mythos to successfully allow for that for me, and the story sort of drops readers in and takes off at a gallop, so there just wasn't much time allotted to exposition.

Because of that, my focus narrowed down to the story of the main characters almost to the exclusion of everything else going on. Fortunately, though, I enjoyed the relationship conflict and personal issues between Katie and Jordan, and thoroughly enjoyed both of them as characters. Katie in particular was a strong female lead; headstrong and stubborn, fierce and independent. Though I liked Jordan, too, he had a bit of a martyr streak that got on my nerves at times, so I have to say that Katie was the driving force for the majority of my entertainment with the read.

I did enjoy their romance arc, and the chemistry between them sizzled on the pages. I was a little worried at the very beginning that I would share some of the concern Jordan had about the maturity of Katie's feelings for him and the reasons for them, but Katie disabused me of that idiocy fairly quickly and I enjoyed their struggles, trials, and tribulations as their tale tortures them on their route to their Happily Ever After.

One of the nicest compliments I can give the book is that it reminded me vaguely of Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series. Not in story so much as in structure. Both worlds are meaty, complex, complicated places with a lot going on in and around the central plotlines of the main characters, both support a wide diversity of fierce, frustrating, fantastic characters, and each book builds on what comes before. I strongly suspect, had I been with this series since the beginning like I've been with that one, I would be a huge fan of this one, too.

I don't know that I'll go back and try to read the first three books in the series - I have weird series timeline issues that usually prevent me from doing that. What's here, though, interested me enough to continue on with the series. I just hope this one book is enough to ward off the feeling of being on the outside looking in, because really, that never provides for a completely comfortable reading experience.

Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: N/A
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 288 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Harlequin via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.



Many Nice Elements

It's bad enough Captain Layne Sullivan didn't get the Chief of Police job she thought she deserved, now she's forced to work for the by-the-book Chief Ross Taylor, town new guy and general bane of her existence. When human remains are found in the woods near the site of a teen hangout, though, Layne's issues with Taylor start to lose their significance in the shadow of her growing concern. And panic.

Layne thinks she may know the identity of the person whose remains were found, but if she's right, the ramifications will rewrite everything she thought she knew about herself, her family, and her past. To find out the truth, she'll have to depend on Taylor to get to the bottom of a case that went cold long, long years ago. A case that forced her to grow up before her time. A case that scarred her soul.

~*~

Expectations are such a killer sometimes. But only sometimes. On one hand, I wasn't expecting a Harlequin Super Romance to have such a solid and meaty suspense thread, nor was I expecting the secondary character depth or complex familial relationships that Andrews created and spun so deftly and realistically. Those were all pleasant surprises. On the other hand, I was expecting a...well...super romance, and unfortunately the romance is the one and only major element that didn't work for me.

My issue with the romance started with Layne as the main character. She's strong, and certainly an independent, competent woman, and she's supposed to be a good enough cop to be at least considered for the Chief's job. Unfortunately, I felt some of her choices, thoughts, and actions were more than just a little flawed. Her personality often struck me as churlish, petulant, and bitchy, and at least some of her actions were flat-out against the very laws she's sworn to uphold.

Though significant issues, thankfully none were consistent drawbacks throughout the narrative, which would have made her character fairly unlikable. It was just enough to create dissonance in the romance for me, though, and make me wonder sometimes why Taylor was so taken with the woman. Because of that, and no matter how much I liked Taylor as a character, which was quite a lot actually, the romance just never got off the ground for me.

I loved the struggle between Taylor and his niece. I found her character particularly well written in that horrifying teen-angst-and-turbulent-emotion sort of way. She was a beast, and she was so horribly wounded, and Andrews did a great job with the highs and lows of that familial relationship. She captured perfectly that quagmire of volatile emotions that family can engender in each other. And in defense of Layne, Andrews also captured much of the long-term emotional devastation that can be caused by the wounds family inflict on each other.

If this book had been marketed as a romantic suspense, I probably would have been more forgiving of the issues I had with the evolving relationship between the main characters. Then again, maybe I wouldn't have been as pleasantly surprised by the suspense storyline in that case. Regardless, this one just wasn't quite as satisfying as a romance, and that did impact my overall impression of the read.

Ratings Guide

Here is a rundown of what the star ratings mean to me! It's not a perfect system, so you may see me add in a .5 star here and there if my impression of the book falls somewhere between these:

5 Stars - Loved it
4 Stars - Liked it
3 Stars - It's okay
2 Stars - Didn't like it
1 Star - Hated it

2014 Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Tracy has read 22 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Zero at the BoneHead Over HeelsLord of the WolfynIn Total SurrenderA Win-Win PropositionNorth of Need

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