Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer being Summer...


 

 
I’ve been a bit absent for a few days – not to worry, I’ve not disappeared.  I was given a project at work and it’s taking up some time.  As it’s an Excel spreadsheet I’m working on, it’s all good.
 
 
I hit a milestone birthday the other day.  I turned 60.  Now while there are some days I don’t feel the spry young thing I used to be, I most certainly don’t feel 60.  It’s funny, back when much younger 60 seemed so old.  And it isn’t really.  But it’s odd.  One of the duties I have at work is calling clients.  I usually do a quick look at their file first just to get a feel for them.  Whenever I see someone born in the 1940’s I worry about calling them as they may be having a nap or something else old people do.  Then I have to ‘get a grip’ and say to myself – “Self,  this is the generation of Woodstock, of Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger!!  And you yourself were born in the earlier part of the 50’s.  And you aren’t old.  So neither are these people you silly goose!”  I have to tell myself that quite a bit.

 

 
I ordered a book the other day – Letters to a Secret Lover by Toni Blake.  I read it not long after if first came out and loved it.  I’ve been having an urge to read it again but you need to see the state of my print book collection to realize it was not at all feasible to try and find it.  I did have a library downstairs and could have put my fingers on it in minutes.  But then my oldest moved back home and dismantled it and didn’t remantle it and then my basement flooded and, well, at the moment I have 40 boxes of book piled up in one of the bedrooms.

The price of the ebook was more than I was willing to pay so I just had to live with that jittery feeling.  You know the feeling – you are jonesing to read one particular book,  It’s using it’s siren’s voice, calling your name, not unlike what Odysseus went through.  But I wasn’t going to give in to The MAN and pay the silly price they were asking.  But a series of unfortunate and fortunate events happened.  The price came down a bit (the fortunate) and I hit a reading wall (the unfortunate) and I caved and got it.  This post is dedicated to the unfortunate or what I decided to call:  The Trustworthy Book.


 
Now those who don’t reread books will probably think this whole thing is silly.  Both my sisters fall into this category.  They don’t reread and don’t understand why I do.  But many readers ARE rereaders and this is for them.  We are all familiar with the “comfort” read.  This is the book that we will read again when we are feeling sad or down and we want something to help cheer us up.  Often when we are in a slump a “comfort” read will help pull us out.

 

A ‘trustworthy’ read is very similar but there are a few differences.  A ‘trustworthy’ read, at least in the way I’m thinking, could only have been read once before unlike a ‘comfort’ read that could be read many times.  But why you first read the ‘trustworthy’ read, is because you know going in you are going to love/like it because you’ve read it before.  I needed this kind of book as I wasn’t in a slump exactly, but I’d read a couple of books by an author I’d previously enjoyed and these books were awful in fact they left a terrible taste in my reading mouth and I needed to read something I trusted I would enjoy.  So it’s not so much a comfort book I needed.  I didn’t really need that.  And I didn’t want to read a new book by an author I trusted as this is what I did.  So I needed a book I knew in advance I could trust as I was a bit book shy



I’m headed out for a week at a cottage early, early Saturday morning.  In fact at the Very Painful hour of 6:30.  AM – yuck.  They don’t have WiFi and no McDonalds so I will be ‘off the grid’ so to speak for a week.  And as I’m not the least bit ready, this will probably be my last chance to blog until I’m back.  So not to worry – this time it’s only for a week.

 

‘til later


****ETA****

So - being the queen of procrastinators I didn't get this sent before I left on vacation.  I shall post again soon, but I had a most lovely time.  But the old gray mare - she ain't what she used to be and recuperation time takes longer and longer.

 
 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Recent Reads

Off Limits (Off, #2)Off Limits by Sawyer Bennett

Genre: Contemporary/Young Adult

Steam Level:  Just the right temperature

My thoughts:  I am so taken with this author and her books. One of the recent ones I read I only graded a 2 as I didn’t like the heroine one little bit, but over all I’m most impressed and quite happy to have found Sawyer Bennett.

I seem to be reading this series backwards so for anyone wondering if the series needs to be read in order, no it doesn’t.
This is the story of Nixon or Nix Caldwell and Emily Burnham. Emily is a trust fund child. She comes from wealth and privilege. Several years before the story starts, she realized that she had been a person she didn’t like and has made a concentrated effort to become a better person. I’ll be honest and say early into the story I wasn’t sure how it was going to go as she is given a choice, bow to pressure and go out with a former boyfriend who has become stalkerish or losing her trust fund and she went with the stalker ex route. I was a bit worried that would ruin her for me and I even put the book down for a couple of days thinking I would be disappointed. But since I have had good luck with this author, I went back to it and it’s a good thing I did. Emily is young, still in college and to buck a lifetime of behavior would be kind of difficult to do all at once and she has come a long way. And I did like her ever so much.

She and Nix meet when she almost runs him down and does some real damage to his motorcycle. They both orbit around some of the same people. Emily is the sister of Ryan Burnham, who’s story Off Sides, I haven’t read yet but is the first in the series and Nix is the brother of Linc Caldwell, the hero of Off the Record, which I have read and enjoyed. Ryan and Linc are both on the same NHL hockey team. Although they are kind of in the same circle up until the motorcycle accident they hadn’t met. Nix is, well, a jerk to Emily and she is less than impressed. She’s willing to pay him for the damage she did but it turns out that she doesn’t have enough of her monthly allotted amount so he comes up with the idea of having her work it off. He owns his own custom motorcycle/metal art business and he is terrible at the administrative end of it. He decides to take that in lieu of.

Nix is a real 'Oscar the Grouch' kind of hero and if done well, one of my favourite kind. And I think Ms. Bennett did him just about perfect. He’s a returning veteran and he is suffering from PTSD, a Traumatic Brain Injury, physical scars and a whole boatload of guilt. Because of all these factors, he figures there in no chance that he can have any kind of relationship, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do one nighters. And he is hot for Emily. Emily, for her part, is hot for Nix, but his running hot and cold and being a jerk and a nice guy have her very confused. But lust and growing love have her agreeing to his offer – strings free sex.

Of course this is a romance and it never really works that way in a romance. Nix begins trusting and opening up to Emily about his ghosts and rather than reject him, she gives him unconditional support.

And while Emily is a younger heroine than I’m used to in a contemporary romance, I ended up liking her a lot. The characters from the other books make appearances but I don’t think it’s need to read the first one in order to enjoy this one – since I didn’t and I did.

I really enjoyed this one along with most of the other books by this author I’ve read and I ended up getting the box set of all the books in this series

Grade: 4.5 out of 5


Off the Record (Off, #3)Off the Record by Sawyer Bennett

Genre: Contemporary/Young Adult

Steam Level:  As it's the same author, it's again the right temperature

My thoughts:

I'm not sure how I came across this one, it might have been a Kindle Daily Deal. But however I came across it, when I read the synopsis, I was sold. I love sports romance and hockey in particular. I do hold my breath sometimes though. Although there are many who know the game more, I do pride myself in knowing quite a bit about the sports I enjoy and sadly, I dock major points if the author doesn't know the sport they are writing about.

I could breath with this one though. The entire story takes place during the off season so it wasn't really an issue. Lincoln Caldwell is a young goalie for the New York Rangers. If I had any reservation and it kept this from being 5 stars is how young he is. But that's a rather small quibble.

Lincoln is young, he is hot and he lives in New York. He's a normal guy. But Ever Montgomery, who is writing an article on him for the paper she works for brings misinformation and her own screwed over issues into the article and writes a scathing piece, calling him a man whore when he really isn't. As payback Linc insists Ever spend the next six weeks with him in order to get to really know him.

I liked this book, I really did. I wasn't sure if I would as it's written in the first person and not only that but also in the present tense. This is not normally something I read. When I discover it's first person, unless it's a well known author, or a book with real good buzz, when I find it's in the first tense, I tend to move to another book but I am SO GLAD I kept going. The author alternates with one chapter from Ever's POV and the next chapter from Lincs so we get to see what they are both thinking.

And I liked both characters immensely, Linc just a tad more than Evers. She was just a tiny bit harder to warm up too and took a bit longer to get over her issues resulting from being abandoned by her father and cheated on by her fiancé. But considering these things, I could see why she was the way she was. And her grovel was very well written.

I very happily recommend this book and as it's part of a series, I fully plan on getting more books by Sawyer Bennett


And again I read these out of order.  I read 2 then 1 and it was fine.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Recent Read

On the Rocks (Last Call, #1)On the Rocks by Sawyer Bennett

Genre: Contemporary/Young Adult

Steam Level:  not to bad, not to bad at all

My Thoughts: If anyone is a regular follower of my reviews, they might think all the books I read are either 4's or 5's with a very rare 3. Alas, this is not the case. I'm only giving this one a 2. There is a BUT I will get to later though. This the story of Hunter Markham, a world class surfer and Gabby Ward, a young contractor who took over her fathers business when he died. Gabby has been lifelong best friends with his sister Casey and has been crushing on Hunter for years. She made a move on him a few years previously but he shut her down and at the start of the book she is still very angry and very cold to him.

But he has feelings for her now that she's all grown up and when she bids on a job to refurbish a local bar and wins it, they are forced to work together and the sparks fly.

The author writes in a very unusual style. She writes in the present tense and in the first person. Each chapter is in either Gabby's voice or in Hunters. Normally I would run far away from this, both because of the tense and the first person, but for the most part the author makes it work and this, oddly enough, isn't one of the reasons the book doesn't work for me at all. The biggest reason is I can't stand Gabby. Ugh, just ugh. She makes one stupid decision after the other based on her feelings. She's mad at hunter so she will toss away the chance to renovate, she decides not to tell her best friend she's banging her brother, knowing it will hurt Stacey when she finds out about Gabby and Hunter. She wants to keep their relationship a secret for no good reason I could figure. She's immature and just plain stupid and I did not like spending half the book in her head. And she calls her friends "bestie". For Pete's sake, that's what Amy Farrah Fowler calls Penny in The Big Bang Theory. In the show it's funny, in this book it's stupid and annoying.

I also thought the book had too many very descriptive sex scenes. Now despite what my sisters say, they do it to annoy me, not because it's true, I am NOT a prude and love a well written sex scene or three. But this book was on overkill. Enough already I thought a few times. We get it. Back to Abby, for a minute, she was, well, not to sound like a prude 'cause I'm not, but I'm going to sound like it, she has a potty mouth and a potty brain. She describes what she and Hunter do as the F bombing. I get that the guys in many of these books "think" that way, but when the heroine does, I find it rather offensive. So in no uncertain terms I did not like this book. I liked Hunter quite a bit but Abby ruined it.

But I mentioned there was a but and here it comes. I read another book by this author and really enjoyed it so I know she can write books I enjoy, she just didn't do it with this one. And Hunter has a twin brother who spent five years in jail and I wanted very much to read his story, so I did want to finish this one so I could read brother Brody's book. Which I am reading right now and liking.

So there you have it. A low grade for a book I did not like but I'm reading the next one and glad to be doing so.

Grade: 2 out of 5

'til later

Thursday, August 07, 2014

More Ponderings


 
 

Another short post.  Work is picking up again (thank goodness) but I still have time to ponder.  As mentioned before, I lost my blogging mojo and it recently started coming back and before I could manage to solve the forgotten password, I started getting a lot more active at Good Reads – kind of my pre-resume blogging fix.  I found this really neat feature.  If I gave book 4 or 5 stars, it gave me a list of friends to send a recommendation to.  Cool beans.  But with great power comes great responsibility.  I’m an author’s delight.  I enjoy a lot of what I read so I was getting this feature pop up quite a bit.  But I didn’t want to abuse it and send out a referral to everyone that pops up.  My son is a friend on Good Reads and while the thought of recommending some real hawt erotic novel is very tempting and every time I see his name I giggle, I don’t.  The most tempted I’ve been is with Transcendence but even then I resisted.  I don’t think he would appreciate the romance aspect as much as I did – heh, heh, heh.  A lot of the people that come up are technically friends but I haven’t had real interaction with them so I don’t want to send them to strangers.  So if anyone reading this has received a recommendation from Good Reads from me, I have sent it thoughtfully.

 

But even still I hesitate to do this.  I know, I know some of you long term readers are thinking. 

“Aren’t you the odd ball who emailed every romance reader you know and told them they HAD to read Broken Wing by Judith James?  And aren’t you the one who haunted blogs and at the least little opportunity told the blogger to read Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas?  And what about Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare??  That’s what we expect from you.!"

 
Yes, that was me and I did do that.  But even as I was doing it, I knew that not all readers would be struck as much as I am by some books.  While many may enjoy the books as much as I do, some may consider them a waste of time and of money and wonder to themselves ‘what’s the big deal?’  I don’t want to – and this is going to sound rather vain, but I don’t really mean it that way – lose my power of the recommendation by going full tilt and have more people than not think it a m’eh book.  Because then they would have wasted their money and I’d feel bad about it.  I know every book we pick up is a risk, even if it’s a well-loved author, but it’s kind of like a box of chocolates, we never know what we are going to get.
 

So this is really my rambling (cause that’s how I roll) way of wondering if you appreciate recommendations from fellow readers, pay no attention to rec’s or find them annoying.  I don’t seem to get that many – I send a lot more than I receive, but I do check them out to see how they appeal to me.  And sometimes I’ll get the book and sometimes not.

And if you do get a book based on someone else’s recommendation and it’s so bad you don’t know why they bothered, does it bother you?




Wednesday, August 06, 2014

And this is the book that did it for me Recent Read

TranscendenceTranscendence by Shay Savage

Genre: I'm not quite sure how to put it - but - prehistoric

Steam Level:  Oh very nice.


My Thoughts:  This is the book that really kicked me into my Book Restelessness.  It's going to be a while I think, before a book affects me this deeply.

It was a long weekend here in Canada so I had a chance to read a number of books. One of them was Transcendence. I found this one when I was ‘playing’ on Good Reads and noticed it was on the list of a Good Reads friend with a 5 star review. I checked a few other friends reviews and they had given it similar raves. The story sounded very different so I thought I would give it a try. I think I can honestly say this is the most unique romance I’ve ever read. The setting is in prehistoric times though we’ve no idea where. As if that isn’t different enough, the story is told entirely from the hero’s POV and he has no real ability to communicate. He doesn’t have the talking function in his brain; at best he can grunt in slightly different tones.

Edh as he thinks of himself, is all alone. He did have a tribe but they were all killed in a fire many years before the opening of the book. He is very lonely but doesn’t really have the comprehension to realize that is what he is. He is getting weaker and weaker due to lack of food and real motivation to find some. But the human spirit in him refuses to give up altogether and he sets a trap by digging a pit to trap an animal. But it’s not an animal he trap’s, it’s a young woman from modern times.

Honestly it’s tough to get across how distinctive this book is. While Edh doesn’t talk, he has inner thinking and he’s delighted to have found a mate that he can ‘put a baby in’. That’s the adorable way he thinks having sex, making love. The mate, on the other hand doesn’t see things quite the same way. We learn that her name is Elizabeth but Edh can’t say that so he refers to her as Beh – the closest he can say to Beth. He also learns the word No, as Beh says it to him quite often when he’s all set to ‘make a baby’. Considering he’s prehistoric male though, he’s quite philosophical about the whole thing and is willing to wait until Beh is ready to ‘make a baby’. Most of what he knows or comes to understand, he picked up from watching his family before they lost. Despite not being able to communicate with Beh in any kind of language; she talks – a lot – but all he hears is a buzzing, they do manage to communicate slowly through their unusual communication, over time they fall in love.

I don’t want to say too much, but I will say that at the end of this very beautiful, very unusual love story, I cried. And I’m talking sore throat from trying not to break out into sobbing, crying. That hardly EVER happens when I read a book, but despite their being no real spoken language between Edh and Beh, I connected with them that much.

This book gets my highest recommendation for both its uniqueness and the fact it made me cry. Cry people! I don't normally do that when reading a book.


Grade: 5 out of 5

It's Not You, It's Me.

Sometimes I'm just going to be short.  While most of the time I AM in the mood to ramble on, on the rare occasion, I'm not



I’m going through a Restless Book Reader phase right now.  I’m sure we’ve all had it at one time or another.  Although similar, it does differ from a full-blown case of a Book Reader Block.  I think what caused it is I had such a run of good book, topped by the best one that went as far as to make me CRY!! (review coming shortly)  I’ve tried a few since then but can’t really focus on actually getting into one knowing it will be difficult to top the run I just had.



A Block is not the same.  When one has come down with a case of the Block, one is not interested in reading any book, anything more thought provoking than a cereal box or an odd People magazine.

Right now I’m in the mood, but I’m in the mood to read something I’m going to LOOOOVVVEEE.  But until I get into it, I won’t really know.  ‘tis a dilemma.  I’ve started about 3 or 4, all different genres and it’s that old “it’s not you, it’s me” feeling. 
 
'til later
 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Recent Reads

Taking Him (Lies We Tell, #1)Taking Him by Jackie Ashenden

Genre: Contemporary

Steam Level: oh my stars, yes there is steam. Lots and lots


My Thoughts:  After reading a most excellent review at All About Romance for the second book in this series, Having Her I knew I must buy it. And since the first book, Taking Him was pretty much the same price and I could tell they were connected, I got this one too and figured I’d read them in order this time.

Note of interest. When I was in Grade 3 I developed a crush on the son of friends of my parents who was a few years older than myself. This crush lasted all the way through high school and even today, more years than I care to think about, hearing his name gives me a funny feeling. I didn’t know him that well, but spent a couple of summers camping with his family and mine and we went to the same schools. So when I read a story where the heroine has had a lifelong crush on the hero, dating back to childhood, I can buy into it so easily as I lived it. Mind you, mine is not a story where after years of unrequited love, he finally noticed me and we got married and lived happily ever after. I lost track of him after he left high school and my family moved to another city – but still.
If you haven’t gathered it by now, this is that kind of a story.

Ellie Fox has had a crush on her older brother’s best friend, Hunter Chase, for years, ever since he sometimes looked after her when she was young and her brother was dealing with a very unstable, mentally ill mother. But of course he never noticed her as anything other than his buddies sister who he knew had a crush on him. But Ellie is all grown up and about to leave the country for a squeal of a job designing video games for a company in Japan. She decides she has nothing left to lose, she’s leaving after all, and makes a play for him when he picks her up and rescues her when she gets very drunk at a Comi-Con convention. Hunter is horrified – it’s his best friend’s sister, but once the genie is out of the bottle he can’t help but think of her in “that way”. But she’s his best friends sister and if that isn’t enough, he had real sexual issues himself that plague him. He was sexually molested when he was younger by someone he trusted and he’s done a major job in his head trying to deal with things. Because he was not in control when he was young, he has major sexual control issues now and has rules that his partners must adhere to. When he folds under the onslaught of Ellie, she must also abide by his ‘rules’. And oddly enough, one of his rules is no sexual intercourse. Yes, our 33 year old alpha type hero is still technically a virgin. Oddly enough, this is the second virgin hero book I read in a weekend, though both for totally different reasons. Hunter is very skilled at what he does and definitely knows his way around a woman’s body.

Ellie is desperate and in love enough to accept Hunter’s very odd rules. She has no clue as to why he’s set them in place but she does clue in that he has issues and wants to help him. In the real world, things wouldn’t be solved by the love of a good woman, but I don’t read romance novels for real world solutions. I had no trouble buying into this “romance novel – love heals all’ premise. In the story Ellie eventually gets through to Hunter and gets to the root of his issues. She tries explaining that he wasn’t to blame, but a lifetime of issues take longer to overcome.

I loved this book. I loved Hunter; he most definitely is an alpha type hero and it makes for a very interesting dichotomy when the fact he’s a virgin is added. And I quite liked Ellie too. I read another review where the reviewer called her desperate. While I could understand why the reviewer felt that, I didn’t. I think she had a girls love for him but didn’t really know who he was apart from what he showed her when he took care of him, but as she got to know him outside and inside, that love evolves to a more mature love. And I found the ending a bit unusual – in a good way. I’m glad I found the review for the next book and as a result, found and read and loved this one. I know I’ll be reading it more than once.
I’m looking forward to the next book about her brother Vin and her best friend. I have a feeling it will take place around the same time as this one does.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5




Having Her (Lies We Tell, #2)Having Her by Jackie Ashenden

Genre: Contemporary

Steam Level: oh my stars, yes there is steam. Lots and lots


My Thoughts: Right off the bat I have to confess that this book made me uncomfortable to read. I’ve never read a BDSM/slave-master relationship book before and I can state categorically that it will never be my cup of tea. Not that I’m saying anything is wrong with it – hey we all have our fantasies and I can’t say that hasn’t been one of mine at one point or another in my lifetime, but I’m just uncomfortable reading with that being the sum total of the relationship. Which one would wonder why the high marks? I will explain *grin*

Vin Fox is a control freak. At least he comes across that way as in reality his life is completely out of control. His mother suffers from schizophrenia and when she is off, the voices tell her to kill her daughter, Vin’s sister Ellie and the heroine of the first book, Taking Him. His father left the family early, unable to handle Vin’s mother’s illness. Vin had to give up his dream of going to architectural school. Because he can’t control things, he overcompensates and anger seethes within him.

Kara Sinclair is Ellie’s best friend. While outwardly she is one strange young woman, she dresses oddly, constantly changes the colour of her hair, wears bright contact lenses, in fact she has a case of virginity she wants to rid herself of but whenever she gets close to it, she can’t – or rather can’t let whatever partner – go through with it. She also has issues though we don’t start seeing them until further on in the story.

So this is the set-up. Although they know each other through Ellie, Vin and Kara don’t have much interaction with each other until Vin picks Kara up after another failed attempt at getting rid of her pesky virginity. In a fit of pique, Kara asks Vin to do it. He refuses of course, but Kara seems to be set now on Vin being “The One” and sends him a series of emails and pictures, some at inopportune times. He finally loses his temper and takes her up on her offer, while she is wearing a Princess Lea costume she had donned for a Comi-con type convention.

Thus begins an erotic, somewhat unnerving role playing game of Vin being the Master and Kara being the Slave. There is no affection between the two; it’s strictly a sexual relationship at first though Vin is careful to be gentle and give Kara plenty of opportunity to call it off at any time. But in a twisted way, it suits both their needs; Vin’s need to control and Kara’s need to be absolved of any responsibility or intimacy and as we will find out later on, a kind of punishment. I’m not exactly sure what I was feeling reading this part of the book, but what I did find was that it was a compelling read and very difficult to put down. If the book had continued like this, I’m sure I still would have kept reading but not sure of my enjoyment level, but as Vin’s world spins more out of control, he slowly begins treating Kara differently, caringly, needing her outside the boundary of Master/Slave. Kara wants no part of this changing of the rules. That means facing her own tragic demons.

I am in awe of how this author tells a story. Kara’s life is so sad. She is so far from the person we think we know from the beginning of this book and the previous book when she was a secondary character. I ached for her. And it would be so easy to dislike Vin and his control issues, but I didn’t. I ached for him too. He never had a childhood and had to take on responsibilities far beyond what he should have had to. These two are perfectly suited, both filling a need the other one has. They are both so broken and it is through opening up, getting past the lines of their initial relationship, they begin to heal, as much as they are capable of. For both, the other is exactly what they need. It’s a complex connection they have and it’s dark, complicated story. And I loved it. Comfortable isn’t always best. This book proves it.


Grade: 5 out of 5

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Recent Reads

Embattled Hearts (Lost and Found, #1)Embattled Hearts by J.M. Madden

Genre: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense

Steam Level: Just about perfect

First in a Series (second book read)

My: Thoughts: I had no sooner finished reading Embattled Minds, the book I last reviewed, when I started reading this one. I was so taken with the first book by this author; by her writing, by her realness, by the characters, by the concept, that I had no choice but to read the first book in the series. This is the story of John Palmer and Shannon Murphy. John is one of founders of Lost ‘N’ Found Investigative Agency, a detective agency organized and run by Wounded Vets. John is quite the gruff unfriendly kind of guy. He was paralyzed from an injury – but – yes he can *wink* – and has become even more unsociable since being stuck in a wheel chair. His past is a sad and lonely one, so the reader can see why he is the way he is. Shannon has recently been hired by the agency as the office manager. From the beginning they notice each other but because each has quite a set of baggage, they don’t act on any attraction they may have. That is until John notices that Shannon seems ‘off’ and wants to know why. It turns out that something has gone terribly wrong. She had a very scary stalker years ago, but he is in prison now. Yet many of the same things are starting to happen that he did years ago; a Pepsi can left where she can’t help but see it and it has the stalkers finger prints, yet he is in jail. John takes no time in moving in with her to protect her and get the rest of agency on the case.

This one didn’t ‘get’ to me quite as much as Embattled Minds. While the previous is a 5, this one would be a 4 ½ if we could give ½ marks. I love a gruff teddy bear type of hero, but I didn’t find John teddy bearish. He is reluctant to believe that Shannon could really be interested in him at all. He was often rude and while I could understand why he is the way he is, he just doesn’t have that inner marshmallow that makes this kind of hero so attractive. I like Shannon, though she isn’t a real stand out kind of heroine. I did appreciate how calm and collected she remained despite the threat she is under. And I also liked how she wasn’t bothered at all by John’s infirmity. She wants him, she goes after him – that simple.

Like the first one I read, Embattled Hearts, this one is also novella size in length but again like the first one, I found the story and the characters to be very well developed.

I’ve already started reading the next one in the series, Embattled Home and expect that it won’t take me long to finish it either.
And I just want to make mention that there seems to be another Investigator/Private Detective type series entitled Lost and Found which seems to also be a group of Vets returned from war. I haven’t read this other series, but want to make everyone aware the author of the series I’m reading at the moment is J.M. Madden. Thumbs up J.M.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5





Embattled Minds (Lost and Found, #2)Embattled Minds by J.M. Madden

Genre: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense

Steam Level: Just about perfect

Second in a Series (first book read)


When I embraced the world of ereading, it changed my reading world in so many ways. Because of outrageous prices, I don’t read nearly as much main stream romance authors anymore. I flat out refuse to pay MORE for an ebook than a print book and since so many publishers charge more, it breaks my heart that I just don’t read as many beloved authors as I used to. But the plus of this is I’ve discovered how many really wonderful authors there are in the world of epublishing. J.M Madden is one such author. In a previous review, I noted that I can tell how good a book is by how much time I can waste between readings. I’m a pro at wasting time with playing games, beading, watching TV, crocheting; anything but reading. While I was reading Embattled Minds, there was very little time wasting. In fact I woke up around 2:00 am one morning and right away dove back into the story for about half an hour or so before heading back in the land of the Zzzzzs.

As you may have gathered, I quite enjoyed this short story. This was another excellent Kindle Daily Deal. The synopsis sounded intriguing, right up my alley, so I wanted to give it a try. I’m pleased to say that I happily recommend it and in fact I hadn't got far into it before I purchased the rest in the series. I love a wounded hero healed by love and Zeke Foster made a wonderful wounded hero. Badly injured with a traumatic brain injury and physically scarred in Afghanistan; a wall exploded and landed on him, he feels no one can care for him. He has a hard time speaking anymore with a debilitating stutter and he feels he looks like a monster. Ember is part owner/waitress/single mother who works at a nearby bar that the PI team have started to frequent. Zeke is surprised that his disabilities don’t seem to faze her at all. He didn't count on someone like Ember entering his life though. She sees past his scars to the wonderful man underneath. He struggles believing that she really does care about him. I just loved Zeke to pieces. And Ember was a pretty darned good heroine. She has some difficult personal issues to deal with and Zeke.

Zeke works for a private detective agency that employees wounded veterans and Embattled Mind is the second in the series. This book just hit all my buttons in a good way and I can hardly wait to read more. I love the whole concept of a ‘band of brother’ theme. They all suffer to one extent or another; whether it’s PTSD, amputation, TBI or paralysis. Whatever it is, they aren’t the same when they come back from combat as when they left and I love they are made to feel an important part of society. This isn’t a full length novel, rather it’s novella size but Ms. Madden did a very good job in this shorter format. I started with this book and it was fine. I didn’t miss not reading the first at the time. Though I since have, and the review for that one will be coming shortly. She states that part of the proceeds for the sale of this book with go to a Veterans organization. This was just more icing on an already most delicious reading cake and more proof I did good when I bought this book.

I was just about to hit save when I realized I said very little about Ember!! Big omission that would have been. I loved her character. She was totally oblivious to the scars Zeke had and had a world of patience with him when he was trying to talk. She too has issues She has to deal with her father who needs help and is a single mother trying to raise a son with no input from his father who disappeared from her life when she got pregnant. She is the real head of the bar she co-owns with her dad. As much as Zeke is a wonderful hero, Ember is a wonderful heroine and just perfect for his wounded soul.

Grade: 5 out of 5