Sunday, August 11, 2019


It was the cover of Allison Temple’s COLD PRESSED that caught my attention. Bearded, long-haired hipsters are my thing right now.

COLD PRESSED is book 2 in the new-to-me Seacroft Stories series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver, the former lawyer, and Nick, the former firefighter, have a lot going on individually: one has a new career, one has old family troubles, both are recovering from past failed relationships. Since neither is quite ready for a new love, they settle for a no-strings-attached arrangement. Naturally that’s not going to work.

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the maturity Oliver and Nick exhibited. They were adults acting like adults. When a misunderstanding threatens their budding relationship, I was worrying it would be one of those “if only they talked about it” situations, but they did talk about it and moved forward. Major props to the author for having the men behave like that. Their lives were complicated enough, they didn’t need artificial conflict.

Speaking of complications, if Oliver hadn’t been so hung up on his ex, he might have figured out the direction of his new business sooner (and seen Avery coming). I liked where he ended up instead, a much better fit for him.

Hayden needed a swift kick in the proverbial butt, but as mother of teenagers, I know that’s easier said than done.

Overall, the writing was easy and casual. The burn and pace comfortably slow, nothing here was rushed. Recommended read if you’re looking for realism and not every question being answered by the end.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


“Two men. One dangerous planet. To survive they need to trust each other.”

I was in after that logline and Hanna Dare’s BLACK SKY MORNING (Mind + Machine #3) did not disappoint. Hardcore science fiction fans may find this novel underwhelming—it is a romance first and foremost—but I enjoyed the lighter science fiction backdrop and Xin’s reactions to all things planetary, in particular. Good, steady pacing and solid character development drive the story toward a fitting happy ending.

Government agent Jonathan Gray has a lot on his mind, not least of all intrepid bounty hunter Xin.

I had a good time with Xin. Even out of his element, he was never out of character. Cocky and self-assured, but never annoying, he followed up and followed through on all his teasing. His “arrogance” was fully earned. He was capable and knew his limits.

Jonathan’s limits were less self-discovered, I think, and far more set for him by his role as government agent, a role he’s recently started to resent. He was burned out and disillusioned, in a funk and coasting toward the death of his career.

When the two get stranded and cut off from their support, they quickly learn that a “burden shared is a burden halved.” Faced with hard choices and Xin’s unflappable optimism, Jonathan rediscovers his purpose (and a new reason to live).

Although this is the third book in the Mind + Machine series, BLACK SKY MORNING can be thoroughly enjoyed as a stand-alone. I did not feel like I had read the preceding novels to understand what was going on.  

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Review: ILLUMINED SHADOWS (Treble and The Lost Boys #3)

ILLUMINED SHADOWS by G.R. Lyons was a tough read, because there was great writing and well-developed characters, but a troublesome need to suspend my disbelief. The writing is very good. Clearly this is an experienced writer who knows how to tell a story. Each character was well-defined and had a great arc. I loved Cam and the dogs and the friendship between the men.

But …

I did not enjoy the constant child-like portrayal of Colby, the secondary main character. He’s physically small, I get it, and liked to tuck his hands under his chin, I got that, too, but treating him like a child and not like the young man he is did him a major disservice. There was so much more room for growth, if only he’d been allowed to become an adult (man). I would have truly enjoyed the romance in this book if Colby had been allowed to mature, instead he was being kept in this child-like state by his portrayal as a boy.

For someone who wants to go into the business of adolescent counseling, Vic acted very out of character; I’m sure he’s aware of the ethics of counselling. This required major suspension of disbelief and could have easily been dealt with if Vic had had his idea of the halfway house/therapy business until after his success with Colby. I would love to see this changed a bit in a rewrite. It would ground this story in so much more realism and give it extra depth by NOT requiring suspension of disbelief from the reader.

Speaking of realism, the paranormal aspect was highly enjoyable and well done. The urban fantasy “alternate world” setting was almost non-existent. There were hints here and there and some magic thrown in. I have not read the previous books in this series and I wonder if I missed all the good world building and this one just relied too much on previous efforts.

Overall, I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I enjoyed the writing and growth in the characters, but did not enjoy the child-adult romance.