Tag Archives: russian mafia

You’ll Sweat in the Desert Heat Reading Molly Gets Her Man by Julie Rowe

27 Jan

Molly Gets Her Man by Julie Rowe (Entangled Ignite: January 27, 2014)

Entangled’s Ignite line for romantic suspense (or mysteries or thrillers) appears well named. Despite absolutely frigid temperatures outside, I found myself reaching for a cold beverage while vicariously sweating in the Las Vegas heat with the new novel from Julie Rowe, Molly Gets Her Man.

This came as a surprise to me since I had only heard Rowe’s name in association with a trilogy of interesting historical romances set in Europe during World War I (they are on my to-read shelf). A Canadian with a medical background, I gather that Rowe has had success with some medical romance stories and even her historicals utilize her knowledge base as the characters are often doctors and nurses, albeit with a different level of medicine available to them in their era.

After reading Molly Gets Her Man, I was impressed that someone without a suspense background could write such an excellent debut in this subgenre. Rowe managed to have a relentless plot pace which had me turning the pages to figure out how our hero and heroine were not only going to work through their emotional baggage to find love, but how they were just going to survive all the twists and turns of their predicament.

Molly McLaren cannot seem to catch a break. With some demons in her past in the form of an abusive father and an ex-boyfriend who wanted to follow in his footsteps, she’s shy of large men, especially angry ones. Her anxiety actually led to the loss of her last job as an interpreter for the court system when she was deliberately intimidated by a convict, an incident that frightened her so badly that she quit her job. Now she’s dressed in uber-tight capri pants, a glittering top and enough make-up to work a department store counter in order to be a hair dresser, albeit one that speaks seven languages fluently.

The seamy backdrop of Las Vegas is perfect for this tale of drugs and organized crime. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

The seamy backdrop of Las Vegas is perfect for this tale of drugs and organized crime. (Public domain image via Pixabay)

That unusual ability has just bitten her in the ass as she overheard a client arrange the assassination of a congressman three days from now. Although she reported it to the police, she’s got a bad feeling, enough that she called her former military brother in California to ask for help. He’s relayed that help will be appearing on her doorstep in the form of a truck driven by his friend and it’s none too soon as two Russian enforcers are searching for her in a deserted parking garage. She manages to get away, not before they get off a few shots at her, only to find herself trapped in the cab of a semi, with the biggest, angriest guy she’s ever seen. Cue anxiety.

Grey Wilson is trying to redeem his career from the major cock-up that was his last mission, one that involved discovering his former girlfriend was a drug addicted woman using him for information and resulted in his almost losing his leg after getting shot. He’s currently on the path of a Russian group smuggling drugs in and out of Vegas, using the cover of a truck driver to gather information. Helping a former military buddy’s bimbo sister is not what he signed up for, but it quickly becomes apparent that the nervous Molly is no intellectual lightweight and that she is in really deep trouble, trouble that intersects with his mission. As the two of them succumb to the attraction between them, can they each work through their past betrayals to find something real before they have to part from one another?

This was a great story about two people forced by circumstances to look beneath their surface and discover the error of their first impressions. Molly is obviously a brilliant linguist and Grey a gentle soul around Molly who would shoot his good leg before her hurt her (he’s a badass around a perp, however). The suspense plot was well done with a few really good red herrings and twists I enjoyed, and I’m hoping that Molly’s brother crops up in a future book. If I have any criticism, it’s that Rowe’s sex scenes are rather brief and seem to be more about releasing sexual tension rather than about revealing more character development or inspiring a closer connection between the hero and heroine.

I would definitely encourage Julie Rowe to continue to develop her astonishing versatility between subgenres and continue to write romantic suspense since her first offering was such a good one. I’m glad Molly got her man and hope that Julie Rowe continues to get her contracts so I can enjoy more books by her.

Happy reading!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of January 5, 2014

5 Jan

Upcoming Books and New Releases

The cover for Katharine Ashe‘s newest book, I Adored a Lord, book 2 of her The Prince Catchers series, has been revealed and WOW! With a release date of July 29th and a cover endorsement by Lisa Kleypas, this book is bound to get buried in pre-orders not just for the gorgeous design but also for the description. A young woman tired of society’s vicious young women bent on husband hunting gets caught up in murder and intrigue while snowed in at a country estate where a prince’s half-brother is bored to tears. Until he steals a kiss and finds a corpse, that is – then he quickly realizes that who is the murderer isn’t the only question he wants answered.

Paranormal romance goddess Kresley Cole has released the first in her three part rapid-fire serial, The Professional, with the second installment due to come out Monday, January 6th. This story of a young woman searching for years for her birth parents, finding instead a world of intrigue in the Russian mafia, including the sexy enforcer assigned to guard her. Mrrrooowwww. It’s been receiving rave reviews, but since I despise installment writing (I’m a fast reader and I want a resolution with the final page), I’ll be buying all three of them when the third and final portion is published on January 20th.

It’s just a couple of weeks until the first book in historical romance writer Tessa Dare’s new Castles Ever After series debuts, Romancing the Duke, on January 28th. Featuring the daughter of a romantic author of fairy tales who has finally given up on having her own come true, only to inherit a castle with a disfigured duke inhabiting it. There is even a giveaway on Goodreads for the book for anyone entering prior to January 26th, so your personal fairy tale could come through when you win a copy!

In this longer novella by Entangled Covet, Ashes by Sarah Gilman, an intrepid reporter looking for the legendary phoenix ends up with a great time and pregnant…by a firebird who looks like every other guy (if that guy was devastatingly hot). But he is royalty and expected to marry a full-blooded firebird female, yet his vow to not be an absentee father means he’s spending more time with the mother of his future child, and falling fast. But a powerful grandmother is not pleased with this turn of events and she’ll do anything to tear this burgeoning love apart. This recent release also has a corresponding $25 Amazon gift card giveaway for participants using the Rafflecopter interface to earn entries prior to the January 14th deadline.

Contests and Giveaways

The often funny and always informative Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog is having a terrific contest tied into Elizabeth Boyle’s new book, If Wishes Were Earls, from her Rhymes With Love series. Just leave a comment finishing the catchphrase “If Wishes Were Earls…” before Friday, January 10th and you’ll have a chance to win a 16 GB iPad 2 with wifi or a $50 giftcard to the book retailer of your choice.

Paranormal romance fans might want to check out the contest in honor of the debut of Beg Me to Slay, a new title by Lisa Kessler featuring a young woman victimized by a heinous crime who turns to martial arts and a private investigator turned demon slayer who finds himself bound to her by mission and by something much more. With an Amazon gift card and some specialized jewelry, this unique giveaway goes until January 13th.

To celebrate Rosalie Lario‘s next book in her Demons of Infernum series, Heart of the Incubus, Entangled is doing a prize pack giveaway with the previous book in that series, Heart of the Angel, for people who enter prior to the January 20th deadline. This latest work is about a gorgeous incubus biochemist who is baffled by the lovely scientist who works alongside him. He wants her in his bed but for the first time in his experience, the woman he wants plans on having nothing to do with him. Tired of womanizers, the heroine in question has no intention of succumbing to incubus charm no matter how lickable he might be, until a dangerous stalker makes her his prey and her gorgeous colleague appoints himself her protector.

Fun Stuff

Sherlock Holmes fans everywhere will be pleased to know that the vast majority of the work associated with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s favorite character has been declared in the public domain according to U.S. Copyright Law, meaning that writers can work with impunity with these previous established characters and plots. The suit was brought about by writer Leslie Klinger who was in the process of co-authoring a book, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes (not available yet for pre-order) along with mystery writer Laurie R. King (of the Mary Russell books fame featuring the strong intellectual wife of Sherlock Holmes) when he was approached by Conan Doyle’s estate for fees associated with using the characters. Considering that there would be no fees associated with a work in the public domain, Mr. Klinger decided to bring the suit to have the Sherlock Holmes works (at least the ones published prior to 1923) declared in the public domain so authors can tinker with impunity and he was successful. Interested in this topic, I did a little searching and discovered the story of Conan Doyle’s heirs which honestly sounds like a bad Danielle Steel novel, complete with sibling bickering, money squandering, so-called princesses, and pompous lawyers. Yikes!

Category romance author (and SEAL lover) Tawny Weber is celebrating football season by allowing readers of her blog to vote for their “Hunk of the Month,” so envision some tight pants and head over to cast your vote!!

Anyone who is a psyched as I am at the next season of Downton Abbey debuting tonight (*Edwardian victory dance*) may also be interested in this excellent interview from NPR with Lucy Lethbridge, the author of Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times. Take a look and you’ll find yourself appreciating Carson all the more.

Romancing the Stone movie fans (and I realize I’m dating myself here) will be thrilled and fascinated to read Robin Covington‘s post featuring the erudite Damon Suede, “CARE PACKAGE: watching Romancing the Stone with a mindful eye with Damon Suede,” on the Romance University blog. Covington, who almost named her Corgi puppy Joan Wilder, gives a great overview of the hidden strengths of the movie as well as some of the behind the scenes chauvinism of Hollywood’s approach to the movie.

Great Deals

Shannyn Schroeder‘s contemporary romance, More Than This (the first book in her O’Leary’s series), is currently discounted to only $1.99 on Amazon. With a lonely school teacher reclaiming her life after a messy divorce and a sexy bartender intent on giving her more than just a good time, you might have found exactly the bargain to help you heat up a cold January!

Kristen Ashley‘s acclaimed book, Law Man, is currently on sale for only $3.79 for the ebook, a bargain considering this story featuring a shy girl from the wrong side of the tracks and her neighbor police detective she thinks is way out of her league totals over 500 pages!

From category romance writer Janice Maynard comes the Harlequin Desire tale, The Maid’s Daughter, about a millionaire (natch) who discovers the daughter of a maid connected to his family involved in a car accident and decides to employ her in his latest business venture. Whether it’s to alleviate some of the family guilt or keep this beautiful woman close he’s not admitting, but proximity does has its advantages. One of the advantages to you is that this novel is currently free on Amazon, so go snatch it up while you can.

Perhaps also timed to celebrate Downton Abbey’s Season 4 premiere is the nonfiction book, To Marry an English Lord (which really does sounds like a fiction book, doesn’t it?) by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace. Two academic authors chronicle the American women who came to Britain during the Gilded Age to land a title while investing their ample dowries into the fading manor houses and lifestyles of England’s nobility (think Cora, Lady Grantham’s story and you get a sense of what this book covers). Rife with wonderful detail, this volume has received excellent reviews and it’s currently on sale for only $2.51 for the ebook version if you feel like knowing more about this time period.

Laura Kaye’s wonderful first book in her new series about a group of disgraced military men clustered around a Baltimore tattoo parlor, Hard As It Gets, is only $1.99 right now and it’s awesome, so don’t hesitate to go grab it at this price. When the daughter of the commander who sold out his men comes to him for help, this former special ops officer finds himself entangled in a woman who should be all wrong for him, but may be exactly what he needs.

That’s it for this week. Happy reading and Happy New Year!!

Shannon McKenna Has Nothing But the Best Moves in Her Latest Suspense Thriller, One Wrong Move

15 Oct

One Wrong Move (McClouds & Friends #9) by Shannon McKenna (Kensington, September 25, 2012)

There is always a little nervousness when you are given what sounds like a terrific galley to review, only to discover it’s part of a series. Immediately, you are bombarded by the abject fear that you will be subjected to hoards of previous characters and in-jokes that will allow for only a peripheral submersion in the plot. After being intrigued by NetGalley‘s description, I asked to take a look at suspense author Shannon McKenna‘s latest novel, One Wrong Move, knowing I had never tried anything by this author.

But I had heard good things about McKenna. Compared regularly by Goodreads reviewers to Lori Foster (who I enjoy), McKenna purportedly crafts books with cranky, over the top alpha males and feisty heroines trapped in seriously heinous situations which lead to rapid emotional progression and some fabulous erotic “we could die so let’s seize the moment” sex.

This  combination totally works for me. If I know ahead of time that the hero is going to be a major asshole, at least in the beginning, I can brace myself to discover, along with the heroine, what redeeming inner qualities he has. And wow, does McKenna know how to do this.

Our hero, Alex Aaro, had me blinking with some of the unbelievably rude and outrageous things he was comfortable saying to the heroine, Nina Christie. Nina has had a crappy 24 hours. Walking home from her social work at a women’s shelter, she is accosted by a screaming woman speaking a foreign language, who jabs her with a hypodermic needle. Realizing as she’s losing consciousness that this haggard woman is an old friend of Nina’s deceased mother who she hasn’t seen in years, she’s baffled as to what has happened.  Nina left her phone on in the middle of the 911 call for help so she has the entire rant from her attacker recorded and it’s in some kind of Russian. The hallucinations and people after her in the hospital only ramp up her fear, causing her to turn to her old friend, Lily Parr, especially since Lily now has a hunky fiancee (and father of her soon-to-born baby), Bruno, who is associated with a top of the line security company who can help.

Bruno realizes that one of his firm’s associates, Alex Aaro, is touching down in NYC on personal business and can be called in for the assist. Aaro has the added benefit of knowing a few languages, with Ukranian – the language of Nina’s attacker – as the first one he spoke as a child. But Aaro wants nothing to do with the situation. This friend of Lily’s can get an interpreter because he has bigger fish to fry. Alex Aaro is the assumed name he’s lived under for years to avoid his father, who is Vor, or deadly Russian mafia. Aaro wanted none of that legacy so he started over, now a respected cybersecurity expert who knows his way around a variety of weapons, to boot. He’s back in New York to visit his dying Aunt Tonya, the only person who ever cared about him, but he needs to get in and out as soon as possible.

Blood and Fire (McClouds & Friends #8 and Lily and Bruno’s story) by Shannon McKenna (Kensington, September 4, 2012)

Well, the road to good intentions, and all that. After telling Nina over the phone he won’t help her – and her reaming him out about it – she manages to escape a strange group of people in the hospital who seem to be getting inside her mind. She shuts them out and gets away, scuttling to try and find the driver who helped her the night before, but she’s realizing that she can hear people’s thoughts on the subway. Worried she’s having some bizarre side effects from whatever she was injected with, she discovers that her good samaritan has been tortured and murdered. This confirms that the weirdness is not just coming from her mystery drug and she scuttles home only to have her home broken into. Hiding in the hidden panel of her closet, Nina gets a frantic text to Lily with the situation and her friend calls in the calvalry, Aaro.

The moment when Aaro holds the naked Nina in his arms, he realizes that something in his life has altered in a big way, and it’s not the two guys he murdered downstairs. The two of them take off on the run, initially trying to figure out this strange drug cartel who manufactures some kind of psychic enhancement drug (which only seems to help people with a strong predisposition for the talent) with the layer added later of vengeful Russian mafia types from Aaro’s past. Oh, and they have to get the second part of the drug so Nina won’t die in a few days. No pressure. Yikes! Like one of these wouldn’t be enough.

Nina is naturally freaked but she’s trying to marshal all her strength and reserves to deal with the situation. She’s a survivor who had to deal with a physically and sexually abusive stepfather and the suicide of her mother, but she’s used her past to motivate her to help people in need so there’s an element of triumph in her personal life. A holdover though is that she’s always been able to make herself, well, easy to overlook, and her bulky drab wardrobe, glasses and tight hairstyles only add to her invisibility.

Aaro got a good look at what’s under all that shielding and it’s not drab. He’s not one for deception so while he’s berating Nina for not telling him the whole truth of their perilous situation he’s also telling her, in explicit detail, what he wants to do to her. It’s a bit much for Nina, especially because his blunt statements combined with her current mental state are about as welcome as the bullets fired at them, but the strange thing is, she’s incredibly attracted to this lean killer, in a way that she’s never experienced before. She realizes that she’s not the only badly damaged one in this unlikely partnership. Maybe its the drug that’s changing her, but she is beginning to see behind Aaro’s shields to the lonely and terrified person who exists within.

While I expected the alpha to end all alpha behavior (and I had no problem with it – Aaro is totally honest and with his own code of honor, so McKenna does a terrific job of giving you a glimmer of the man behind the jackass which makes you stick for the long haul), I was surprised by the paranormal element regarding the psychic-enhancement of the drugs. There was both a delightfully creepy villain thing happening with the cartel, but at the same time, many people, like Aaro and his family members, had a natural ability for some of the psychic talents. Very cool and an interesting layer to the story.

I was impressed with McKenna’s writing ability. The sex scenes were hot and terrific, deepening and ramping up the connection between the hero and heroine, to the point where it was entirely feasible that these two people would realize that they were in love after only a few days. I love it when authors can pull this off and McKenna is a master. Her characters were exceptionally three dimensional – villians, heroes, and supporting characters alike – and this plot, which could have been a nightmare with all these competing elements, was tightly drawn but left a few threads that will clearly be picked up in a future book.

And that future book better star Miles. Miles – you sexy nerd beast – I adored you! A vital supporting character and member of the firm, Miles factors heavily into the denouement of Aaro and Nina’s story and clearly has a near obsession with Nina’s childhood friend, the missing Lila, who was captured by the drug cartel and held to manipulate her now-dead mother. The other characters hint at the content of the previous books and I’m absolutely going to end up reading this series backwards. I love it that McKenna manages to have those previous characters woven throughout the story but never in a way that makes the reader feel like there’s something they are missing. That takes skill and enhances the potential for a reader (like me) falling into the series and buying the backlog of books.

One Wrong Move is a terrific romantic suspense novel that reminds me not only of Lori Foster but of a personal favorite, Lisa Marie Rice, in its alpha males, great supporting characters, excellent suspense plot and erotic sexual content. I’m elated to have found a new suspense author with all the right moves. Thanks, Shannon McKenna!

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