Friday, April 21, 2017

KJ Charles - A Seditious Affair

Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.
  A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.

Comment: At the end of last year, I've read and enjoyed the first book in the Society of Gentleman series by author KJ Charles. So far, all books I've read by this author have been exactly my cup of tea. As with everything in life, I've enjoyed some more than others but all have been good. Therefore, it no surprise I'd try to keep up with the series, whose first book I've liked and I was expecting good things, not only because it was by this author but also because I knew many others had positive opinions about this second book.

When this book begins, it is a little parallel in happenings to a certain moment from the first book, which can lead us to have an interesting perspective on things.
Silas Mason is a sedition revolutionary and he wants democracy for all men and women. He profoundly dislikes the high society whose members can have all while the poor are hungry and cold. Dominic Frey is a rich and important man who works at the Home Office so his job is to ensure justice is there for all and law must be followed. 
Although these two clash in every aspect of their social and public lives, on Wednesday's nights, for a while now, they have met and been together, not as political adversaries, but as lovers. And Silas is the one with the power over Dominic. With time, they have become sort of friends and when things seem to finally come out of their control, will they still feel like each one is the best thing that happened to them?

All things considered, this is quite the good book. As enjoyable as the others because the author has talent and can develop a plot with believable actions and interesting concepts. The cast of characters is also good, especially because we recognize characters we've come to like and even others that will play a part somehow so we end up being interested in them. As a whole, I think this story is a rich and well structured as all the others.

The author also likes to give each character a special peculiarity, which means every single character is unique, is special even in simplicity terms. Julius from the previous book was educated and harshly polite, Harry was young but dedicated, now we have Silas, who is a radical but idealistic and Dominic who is passionate but duty bound. Somehow, every aspect of each couple complements one another, even if we think they are all worthy on their own. Maybe this is why I always feel so sympathetic to every couple I've come to read about in this author's work.

My particular enjoyment of this book, however, wasn't as obvious as it happened in other books because Dominic and Silas' relationship wasn't as black and white as I imagined. I don't mind Dominic had specific tastes when it came to sexual relationships. I also don't mind Silas is there along with him and I honestly couldn't care if that was the kind of things they liked. But even recognizing people's right to their own choices, there was one thing that bothered me. There was talk of having someone else with them one day in the future and this really makes me enjoy the story less. I'm a firm believer in  monogamy so it bothers me a bit when even fiction characters talk about sexual plays withing the relationship, concerning third parties.

The plot is very centered on the revolutionary and political actions of a group of people, in which Silas is involved. There is a base of truth, explained by the author at the end of the story, which gives this an interesting vibe. I was interested in knowing all these things but that also mean that there was always a certain aura of danger and upcoming disaster that I confess I don't appreciate. Still, it offered a good development overall.

The HEA was sweet, easy when I thought it wouldn't happen like that, but it's quite the lesson, thinking the personal emotional sacrifices people did - and do - in order to live happy or freely or at least attempting to have that illusion. So, this is not my favorite book, unlike so many other readers out there, but enjoyable, yes.
Grade: 7/10

Thursday, April 20, 2017

JR Ward - The Chosen

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards, convicted of treason against the Blind King, is facing a brutal interrogation and torturous death at the hands of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Yet after a life marked by cruelty and evil deeds, he accepts his soldier’s fate, his sole regret the loss of a sacred female who was never his: the Chosen Layla.
Layla alone knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life. But revealing his sacrifice and his hidden heritage will expose them both and destroy everything Layla holds dear—even her role of mother to her precious young. Torn between love and loyalty, she must summon the courage to stand up against the only family she has for the only man she will ever love. Yet even if Xcor is somehow granted a reprieve, he and Layla would have to confront a graver challenge: bridging the chasm that divides their worlds without paving the way for a future of even greater war, desolation, and death.
As a dangerous old enemy returns to Caldwell, and the identity of a new deity is revealed, nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone.

Comment: This is the latest installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward. I've said countless time before I've been a fan of the series since I found the first book and despite some less than good books for me, I still cherish and enjoy this world.

This is Layla and Xcor's book. I mean, nowadays, the away the series is, one can almost say each story isn't only focused on one single couple, the multi sub plots which annoy so many people, seem to have come to stay. Still, the focus can be given to this couple and this is their HEA at last.
At the same time, change is happening with the Scribe Virgin, the race's deity, and the enemy has a new member who will try his best to end the king and the BDB.
Among so many problems, can at least true love prevail?

Attention: mild spoilers!

I truly hated the last sentence in the blurb mentioned above: "nothing is certain or safe in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not even true love . . . or destinies that have long seemed set in stone" because this is only the affirmation of what has annoyed and drove mad most faithful readers who know don't have many positive things to say about the series anymore.
One of the best things about romance, in all it's genres and sub genres, is the idea of HEA, of how that will somehow proof love conquers all. In this world, JR Ward has created, that was seen as more than a requirement by the rules the author herself has introduced since book #1. But the problem is that now the concept of HEA is constantly challenged in every book. What we painfully went through in previous books to see the emotionally journey each couple had to overcome to be happy forever, seems to be quite pointless, because all is put in question now.
This is what really lets people down. There are details we might not like, but this is like an attempt to al the patience and suffering we've been gone though.

The author has said or led to be understood that real life is made of challenges, changes and obstacles everyday people need to overcome. Life goes on after a HEA.
But this is a fantasy book set in a fantasy world. We still NEED the HEA to be set in stone. Now, personally I don't usually mind the way things happen and, as a whole, this book was still a positive one for me, but I do share the opinion things are being done in a way that is completely unnecessary and purposely negative. To fill up space? To increase the drama? To give different takes on the same idea? To add layers no one feels it's interesting?
I'm specifically speaking about the situation with Qhuinn and V and their respective (and separate) issues. Are they valid? Absolutely. Are they necessary for the plot? Definitely not. The problems they have here could still be presented to us without all the drama and silliness we need to endure now.

And how would that be? Simple: change the tone. Change the way we are given the information. An author has the power to influence our impressions using words. Having the two mentioned characters go through the same doubts and emotional issues but saying things differently or allowing them to express themselves differently wouldn't mean a lobotomy in any of their brains and we would see things differently. All is bleak and dire and bad. It doesn't have to be and still enough to occupy page space. Oh well...

I see things this way: this was bad, some previous decisions in terms of plotting haven't been the best but I always hope there will come something good out of it. Qhuinn's problem was solved somehow so we went through all that almost for nothing except drama. I assume V's issue will be the same. I get it, but I also understand readers and their lack of patience.

Personally, the positive things for m in this book were, as usual, the feel of this world, I just like the setting and the ideas within this world, I still love to see beloved characters, I liked Layla and Xcor and I did fantasize a lot about how they could be accepted as a couple and yay, for once, my fantasy ideas came true and their HEA was exactly as I hoped for!
Also very interesting was the Scribe Virgin situation. A new deity is revealed and I think it will be amazing!
There is a new clue about Trez's emotional situation. I think I understand why this is happening and unlike so many others, I don't mind if in the next books we will see it developing further along the apparent lines we were shown. Life is short, even for vampires, so... grab it while happiness is there!
I keep enjoying the multi POVs (I could do without the villain) because I LOVE this feeling they live together, they are all part of a family, of a community and just thinking that makes me smile and wish I was a character there (I bet I could be an upbeat one at least). I still focus on the positive, even if the negative makes people talk more.

This book isn't my favorite despite my preferences and the things I liked more. Too much unnecessary confusion and stuff that end up influencing out enjoyment. I hope the next is better. But this we always hope for. I see why people are giving up but the same way we don't all see things the same way, there will always be readers who still like this, so... up to now, I still see the good above the rest.
Grade: 7/10

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

LH Cosway & Penny Reid - The Hooker and the Hermit

Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity
blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.
Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…
When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

Comment: April is here and more books out of the TBR are being read. 
It's also time for another specific TBR challenge read and this month the theme is Contemporary. I picked this book out of many possibilities mainly because it would suit the theme. I was curious about it but now that I have read it, despite having interesting points, it wasn't as amazing I hoped for.

In this book we meet Annie Catrel, a introvert young woman who works at a marketing company and has a blogger where her secret identity works as an alter ego to all the vivacious attitude she doesn't have in real life.
Ronan Fitzpatrick is an Irish rugby player who is in the US to rest and to improve his public image after a break up. Ronan and Annie meet quite by chance but he is immediately smitten with her. Annie is definitely more cautious but being forced to work together will bring them even closer. But what was only a job will develop to something more unless Annie can't admit she wants to be with Ronan a lot more than she wants to keep her life tidy...

When this book begins, our main couple is brought together so Annie can work her magic on Ronan and make him a new, better liked person online. Usually I'm quite fond of relationships developing in a work environment, as long as they're realistic and don't make the characters act silly in a situation where people should behave a certain way. Thankfully, most of the plot is set outside the office, so we don't have that idea in out face all the time. But I still think it's completely inappropriate that they go from client/employee to people in who act in lust.
Ok, this is mostly on Ronan's side but... I understand the romance had to start somehow but the way things were happening just didn't convince me.

Another situation that got me thinking is Annie's condition. She is described as an introvert and we read several scenes where that becomes obvious. I liked this. I like shy heroines, so going to introvert ones can be interesting, even more so because the two can be confused often. But similarities apart, Annie isn't very sure of herself in social situations and rather prefers to be left alone. Yes, she had to come out of her shell in order to a romantic heroine, but she has some actions I can't see an introvert having. Or maybe, the way the situations were being described just didn't give the right impression.

The romance was along the lines of what we would expect. Ronan is clearly an alpha type and that's fine but he pushed Annie into saying and doing things I thought were too much. I just can't seem to appreciate how forceful he acts in some situations and how gentle he is in others. It felt weird and to be honest, their connection didn't seem as romantic as that. Yes, they were sexually attracted to each other and they might even be a good couple but I struggled to think that instead of all the details I'd change.
Plus their intimacy scenes just...well, I could easily skip them because I felt weren't interesting. Somehow their emotional journey didn't convince me so the sex felt secondary and could easily not have been included and I wouldn't mind. In fact, one or two scenes related to sex were actually bad in my opinion, not the descriptions themselves, but the state of mind in which Annie sometimes is before they happen. I can't say for certain felt she wasn't much into it at first or maybe Ronan is more kinky than he had to Why I don't know. My impression perhaps.

Odd questions: If Ronan is a rugby player and his career matters why don't we see him talking more about it?
Why it always look so easy and fast to simply run from one place to the airport and fly home? There is no airport control, no check in, no waiting time to go through?

This was my first story by both authors. I also didn't read anything by each one individually, so I'll try something else by both in the future. But I have to say I wasn't as impressed by this story as I wanted. Some readers have mentioned in some parts we can see two people wrote this. I confess I don't pay much attention to that sort of detail, but in some scenes it can be easy to see it if you look for it.
All in all, maybe not the best book by either to start with but it does offer some good scenes and presents social media as something all of us are aware of but how real is what everyone thinks or says online? Interesting detail but not totally when I think in general terms.
Grade: 5/10

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Deeanne Gist - Love on the Line

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.
Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

Comment: Deeanne Gist is a familiar author to me. I have enjoyed her books more or less although the last one I read by her, last year, wasn't my favorite at all. I had good expectations for this one, though, as I do about other books by her I'll want to try as well. This was a good story despite the less than interesting parts for me...

In this book we meet Georgie Gail, a telephone operator, before each telephone line was fixed to a different house. So everyone who wanted to call somebody else, had to call a central and then the call would be forwarded. Georgie is the first woman to have that job in the Texas city where the action takes place.
Luke Palmer is an undercover Texas Ranger looking for Frank Comer, a bandit who has gained people's applause because of his attitude when robbing trains but he is still a criminal and the bane of Luke's career. Knowing Comer's band will be around that city, makes Luke get there and try to find out ore about who might belong to the gang. But he was not counting on Georgie...

Like I said, this was a good story but I confess it did take some time to read it. I think I wasn't in the right state of mind and it just happened to be Easter season, always a busy time at work, which doesn't allow me as much free time to read as usual.

My biggest issue with this book was the relationship between the main characters. I know this is a Christian themed story but all intimacy references aside, the relationship still didn't look as interesting as it could simply because their connection doesn't feel natural. Plus, we don't see them interact as much as it would be necessary to make me believe in them. I can't say why this bothered me in this book when it didn't in some of her older titles which happen more or less the same, but maybe because of everyone around them was acting, I got this impression, who knows...

When I say "everyone around them", I mean the secondary characters. I just wasn't interested in most of them so the whole feel of community or family or even personal development didn't strike me as something to be focused on, so...I could be easily distracted, which added to not having as much free time, made this a slightly boring read.
Although overall, I still think this story is better when it comes to main characters' relationship, it still didn't win me over after all details were put into consideration.

The plot has its moments, I liked the elements about the German traditions, about birds (Georgie loves them and this is a key part of the story) and even the telephone operations, which tells me the author has had fun researching and including this in the story. But the characters themselves just... I can't explain it, but they were rather bland.
Then we have some revelations closer to the end of the book but I wasn't impressed by them.

I think we didn't learn enough about Georgie. It's hinted often about her having moved to this city, she's an independent woman and that's huge for the time, which I liked, but why she moved we don't know.
Luke is a character I feel we got to understand and know better but the epilogue shows a side of him that doesn't really match what he keeps defending through the book (like why he is dedicated and so on) and I can understand why, it suits the HEA perfectly just feels weird.

All in all, a good and entertaining novel, but when compering to some of her other books, not as impressive. I hope the other books by her I want to read are more in the lines of her best work. 
Grade: 6/10

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rachel Bach - Honor's Knight

After a mysterious attack left her short several memories and one partner, she's determined to keep her head down, do her job, and get on with her life. But even though Devi's not actually looking for it -- trouble keeps finding her. She sees things no one else can, the black stain on her hands is growing, and she is entangled with the cook she's supposed to hate.
But when a deadly crisis exposes far more of the truth than she bargained for, Devi discovers there's worse fates than being shot, and sometimes the only people you can trust are the ones who want you dead.

Comment: After reading and enjoying the first book in the Paradox series by author Rachel Bach at the end of last year, I knew I had to keep reading, not only because I really liked that first book but also because something happened at the end - not a traditional cliffhanger, but we could say so - and I needed to see what would happen after.

This second installment follows a confused but apparently back to work Devi after some problems which took place in the previous book. But Devi hears a conversation that makes suspicious and somehow she has to be told the truth about what happened to her and why her memory isn't as normal as she thought. 
Trying to escape a situation she considers too dire to even imagine, Devi learns more truths as time goes by. But when all seems lost, Devi realizes courage and reckless moves can sometimes walk side by side. Will Devi find a way to help those who need and save herself as well?

Reading this book was quite entertaining. It was also engaging because things were happening very quickly and it seemed the action was non stop. Even the quieter moments still advanced something in terms of Devi's choices. It can be slightly frustrating to only have Devi's POV on everything, but as a character she is fascinating and that makes reading very easy and fluid.

This book is a good second installment. We get to discover things about Devi and those around her and also about the whole mystery behind the plot. I think the author had the talent to think about a scenario and then putting it on the page. Somehow, it got easy to imagine how things were happening and often the best ideas don't always turn into scenes well played in our heads but the descriptions were enough detailed and presented to make things easy on the reader.

The plot is quite imaginative, yes. The whole sci-fi scenario could be just comic or silly descriptions but there is a whole structure well designed and where each detail has a purpose. It was very interesting to know some hidden truths about Devi's boss, about the big secret everyone is trying to keep, about the reasons why Devi seems to be different... 
Although the pace is quite good, nevertheless some parts weren't as fluid when it came to go from Devi's inner thoughts to the real life action and it kind of showed. But honestly, it wasn't such a big deal in the long haul.

One of my favorite things, despite not being the focus, is the romance we see slowly developing, even with some obstacles. It was nice, and it shows us a side of the characters which is not the main state of being. I liked to see their vulnerable side and how they used what they wee feeling not as an excuse but as a lesson to become better, even if it didn't look as if it would be worth it. I'm looking for to see this relationship be cemented in the final story and - hopefully, it will end well.

It's difficult to write much about the book, it has such complicated situations and details that I couldn't do justice to it, but I just feel very happy to have read this book and anyone who likes the genre would certainly feel the same. I can't wait to see what the author has prepared for the end and I anticipate revelations that can turn this into even more amazing status.
Grade: 8/10

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bey Deckard - The Complications of T

Stuart Leandro knows he’s washed up, both on the big screen, and in his marriage. Then, when things take an even bigger turn for the worse one night, he winds up blind drunk and lost in a foreign city.
Thankfully, someone’s there to rescue him before his face ends up plastered all over the tabloids.
Wary of the motives of the reclusive stranger who brings the fading star into the quiet shelter of a hip but isolated loft, Stuart nonetheless can't deny his curiosity… Or his attraction. Tim is unlike anyone the actor has ever met, but underneath the mystery and quiet attempts at invisibility, Stuart discovers someone whose life has been intertwined with his own for years.
Neither could have predicted that Tim's act of kindness would lead to one of the most intense encounters of their lives—but, are they willing to weather the media storm their extraordinary relationship will cause?

Comment: Just a quick comment on this small novella. I got interested in it a few months ago because of the trans gender character and the expected situations we would have.
I have to say I was expecting a bit more despite the limited page count. I can see why the subtle romance developments seem fascinating but to me the sex scenes were unnecessary. Yes, I can understand the erotica aspects and why they can be interesting to read about in this situation but for me, it would have been better if we could focus on the character's and not their sexual connection.

Even accepting sex would have had to be part of the trans character path, this small story was not the best way, I guess? I assume a lot of things would have been psychologically difficult or lengthy to process in the character's life. We have some inklings and the subject is addressed. But it's not the focus and I think I'd have liked to see a bit more of the emotional journey and that doesn't seem to be the biggest part of this small novella.

The relationship seems weirdly done and not very realistic. It's a choice but I just didn't empathize with neither despite really wanting to get to know Tim better.
The descriptions we are given of each character and their personal lives just didn't have enough room to fully develop and I miss not having more time to get to know them more so my impression is still pretty superficial, even considering the details that do tell us more about them. 
All in all, interesting elements but not enough time to make it better, for me.
Grade: 5/10

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mary Balogh - Slightly Sinful

Meet the Bedwyns--six brothers and sisters--men and women of passion and privilege, daring and sensuality ... Enter their dazzling world of high society and breathtaking seduction ... where each will seek love, fight temptation, and court scandal ... and where Alleyne Bedwyn, the passionate middle son, is cut off from his past--only to find his future with a sinfully beautiful woman he will risk everything to love.
Lord Alleyne Bedwyn is recovering at a brothel in Brussels from wounds sustained at Waterloo. He needs to go and find his own people, but the ladies who saved his life need his help in order to put on a masquerade for the recovery of a fortune in jewels so that they can go in pursuit of their stolen life savings. It is just the sort of mad and slightly sinful caper that Alleyne cannot possibly resist, especially when Rachel Yorke, one of the ladies, resembles a golden angel.

Comment: This is the fifth installment of the Bedwyn saga series, featuring the Bedwyn siblings. This is the story of the youngest brother, Alleyne, a man who was beginning his career as a diplomat but who got wounded in a battle near Brussels and, sadly, lost his memory. I was curious to see how this story would develop, considering Alleyne's problem and I have to say I was a little disappointed with this book.

Alleyne lost his memory after a fall from his horse and is rescued by Rachel York, a young woman who was looking for loot among the deceased soldiers. However, Rachel can't stomach it even though she and her friends would need the money they could gain from it. Rachel saves Alleyne instead of robbing him - something impossible because all his things were already gone - and together with her friends from a whore house, she helps to take care of his wounds and health. When he recovers, Alleyne doesn't know who is is but he feels indebted to the women who helped him. After some talking, somehow all of them get into their heads to get Rachel's inheritance from her uncle, thinking he never loved her so they would not mind deceiving him. Rachel needs to be married to get her inheritance before her 25th birthday, still three years away but everything changes when they get to her uncle's house and it appears he was never as distant as she imagined from her childhood...

This was obviously a good story, all the stories in this series have been so far, but it seems to me, this was the weaker of them all. I guess I'm not overly fond of the amnesic just doesn't seem very believable and the romance suffered a bit from that because part of the fun of a romance is precisely how both characters see each other, considering their past and experiences, something not easy to accomplish if one of them isn't aware of who he really is.

Alleyne has been quite the captivating character from the glimpses we've had of him in previous stories. I was interested in seeing how he would behave in his own book, because we've gotten the idea he wasn't exactly certain about his future and his place in the world. He clearly finds his call in this book and that is great but I can't help thinking all his impressions  - and mine as a reader - got muddled because of his amnesia. It was Alleyne but at the same time, it wasn't he. In the end, as everyone can guess, things work out. But the path wasn't as thrilling as I imagined.

I think the biggest problem for me, personally, was the lack of family scenes we've has in the other books. Everyone else's books had scenes with almost all members of the Bedwyn family and that is a huge component of the series for me in terms of character evolution and cozy atmosphere I feel were key elements of a good romance series. I felt the lack of this here.
Adding to this the fact the romance itself wasn't as thrilling...

The heroine, Rachel, wasn't a bad character. She has interesting elements but the way their story developed wasn't exciting to me. I wasn't eager to see them together as I did with the others. Maybe their personalities, instead of complementing each other, were a bit too much alike in a way that didn't add much vibrancy because neither was too different from the other. Then the amnesia. didn't help and I felt the couple who was falling in love wasn't really aware of one another.

The secondary cast of characters was amazing, that is obvious. But there were too many people to focus on and while most had no POV, it just seemed the focus wasn't entirely in the main couple. I usually don't mind many characters, the Bedwyn themselves are quite the bunch ad I love to see them interact but in this case, the characters we do have, although interesting and all that, just didn't add that much to the overall plot. Jut my impressions.
However, this doesn't mean the story wasn't a good one. But I think I'll probably remember others better. Now the book most readers certainly were anticipating is next. I'm very curious to read the older Bedwyn 's story and I hope it's good and has his family around.
Grade: 6/10

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jill Sorenson - Backwoods

When plans for a wilderness retreat with her teenage daughter Brooke go awry, Abby Hammond reluctantly pairs up with Brooke's stepbrother and his dad, Nathan Strom, for the weeklong trek. The only thing Abby has in common with the bad-boy former pro athlete is that their exes cheated with each other. That…and a visceral attraction that's growing more complicated with every step through the picturesque woods.
Nathan's wild-card reputation lost him his career and his family. After years of regret, he's ready to fight for what truly matters—and that includes Abby's hard-won trust. When Brooke goes missing, Nathan knows he's her best and only hope of rescue. But the deeper into the rugged mountains they go, the more dangerous the territory will prove—for their safety and for their hearts.

Comment: This is the fourth and final installment in the Aftershock series by author Jill Sorenson, featuring situations after a major earthquake in the first book. The following books are centered about characters related to that first story and, in this final book's case, a difficult situation where some characters mention the earthquake, which means this is probably the most "separate" story of them all.

We meet Abby Hammond in this book, she's going with her teenage daughter to a wilderness retreat but she's not really looking for it, not only because she isn't fond of wilderness but mainly because her ex and his new wife will be there as well. Things ended awkwardly between them after Abby caught her husband cheating but she will endure this for her daughter.
Surprisingly - or not - the couple doesn't show up, but Nathan Strom is there instead, trying to mend things with his son. This can be a tricky situation, Nathan and Abby meet and they know they have in common the fact their exes are now married. Although personal issues aside, the wilderness also provides a dire situation for the group, which also includes Leo, Nathan's son. Will the four of them survive the wilderness?

I was looking for to read this story by the premise: two strangers meet at a retreat and they know they were both cheated by their former spouses who are now married to each other. At the same time, one of them wanted to reassure a daughter, the other wanted to get closer again to his son. More than the suspense part which I knew would eventually happen, it was this weird family dynamic that interested me the most.
Many readers like this author's work because of how complex some family situations are and, indeed, I agree, this is the best part and I always roo for them to find a common ground in order to find peace somehow.

The plot is interesting to follow but I confess it wasn't as captivating as the one from book #1. The adventure felt like was there mostly to match the suspense label this book belongs to but I think simply the emotional baggage portrayed here would have been enough to complete the book on its own.

I liked how the teenagers, Brooke and Leo were great friends, a status that developed because of their parents' marriage but their relationship is a bit more complicated than that. they are attracted to one another but Leo especially knows Brooke is his best friend and is afraid of ruining that. His take in life isn't as confident as hers and he doesn't want to lose something special. I really liked how realistic their relationship felt like and even better was how nothing between them was perceived as a HEA...they are too young and not mature enough to settle now.

As for the main couple, Abby and Nathan, I thought their connection was believable, the doubts they had and the steps they took seemed to be realistic enough, even more when considering the problems they had because of the negative aspect of adventure they all went through. I still think they acted a bit too quickly, after all, they had just met, but maybe the family issues discussions could have added some layers to their relationships which probably gave me the impression something more was going on and that made them seem closer somehow.
Personally, I also didn't mind this book was more focused on the characters and romance, rather than the plot, which was what happened with the previous stories.

All things considered, this felt like a good story for me. I still think the emotional aspects were one the best things about it, but at the same time, it could have been pushed a bit more into perfection territory. For the page count used, it was pretty good, in fact. There is just something about it that makes me feel slightly apart from everything and I can't pinpoint what, but... something's missing, which would have made me like this more.
Still, a good read, enjoyable for the genre.
Grade: 7/10