Reading List as of December 30th

This month was a mixed bag, genre wise, but most of what I read I enjoyed (some more than others).

I lost my Katie McGarry virginity with Crash Into You, book three in her Pushing the Limits series. Isaiah was introduced in Dare You To, and a lot of readers were wondering if he’d get his happy ever after. He does, but from the amount of angst poured into Crash, he really has to work for it. Isaiah looks like a kid from the wrong side of town: tattoos, piercings, shaved head, muscles and stubbled jaw. He loves fast cars and his goal is to earn his ASE certification so when he finally gets his high school diploma, he can actually get a decent job at a mechanic’s shop. Rachel’s his opposite in every possible way. Tiny, blonde, delicate, and rich (like snooty-rich) to boot, she meets Isaiah at a street race. Everything spirals from there when Rachel finds herself in trouble and Isaiah takes on her problem as his own. This is an against the odds story, and for the most part, it works. Rachel’s been hiding her real, axle-grease and muscle car loving self from her family, which is part of how Isaiah manages to connect with her despite their differences.

I wanted to hog-tie Rachel’s family and whap them over the head, repeatedly, with a Whack-A-Mole mallet. They treat her horribly and have absolutely no respect for her wishes or her privacy, always claiming they want to protect her. There’s a crap ton of angst in this story, but it works. I loved Isaiah, how strong he was, how he’d let himself be vulnerable around Rachel, and I loved how Rachel was when she was with him – strong, witty, capable. I liked them together. I did not like how Isaiah came off as almost-perfect and a hell of a lot older and more sophisticated when we were seeing him through Rachel’s point of view. The difference between how Rachel saw him and how he saw himself was jarring at times. Still, a good, solid read, and despite being set in the same world as McGarry’s previous two books, you don’t need to have read either to understand what’s going on.

Lies You Wanted To Hear by James Whitfield Thompson made me uncomfortable in a way the movie Closer did. It takes all-too-real feelings and lays them out, no barriers, no softening, nothing. It’s in your face and it’s hard to digest because you’ve seen this before and you know how it’s going to end (which is very, very badly). Lucy meets Matt while she’s still trying to get over an ex. While Matt falls for her right away, Lucy’s less sure. He’s too perfect. Too bland. There’s not enough excitement. But his steadiness is comforting, and they end up marrying. You can see their relationship falling apart from the very beginning, and it only gets worse. It made me question whether any of Lucy’s actions or emotions were ever genuine – Thompson did an excellent job painting Lucy’s doubts about her feelings for Matt in the beginning and Matt’s growing concerns over Lucy throughout the book. At about the 40% mark in the Kindle edition, Thompson takes a turn for the obvious, and it bugged me so much I stopped reading for a while. It’s a fast-moving story that will make your stomach churn with unease, because you’re always wondering if it’s ever going to tip over into the seriously bad things territory.

I picked up Covert Interview by Missy Marciassa because the premise was intriguing – a college grad offered an analyst position with the CIA. Elle’s cover is as a Information Scientist (aka librarian) tasked with bringing the university libraries of Virginia into the 21st century. Right away, her first operation with the CIA has her questioning both her morals and her loyalty to her new employer, and she learns that maybe she’s not cut out for casual sex. While the writing was solid (though nothing exciting), I wanted more CIA intrigue, more danger, and less reminders that Elle was an adult now and being an adult was hard *cue whining*

If New Adult books are like crack, Kristen Ashley’s are like heroin. I finally broke down and read Mystery Man after Eloisa James said she went on a backlist buying binge after reading it (which is what I did with Delphine Dryden – I now own ALL of her books.) One night, Gwen Kidd’s out having cocktails at the bar her friend works out and she spots the hottest guy she’s ever seen. Fast forward a year and a half later, and that same man’s been sneaking into her house at night on a regular basis and waking her up with the best sex she’s ever had. She never learns his name, and it’s not until she finally meets him in the light of day (when he breaks into her house) that she does – and then she tells him it’s over. Hawk Delgado is an asshole. There’s just no other way to say it. He’s a total dick, doesn’t talk in complete sentences, overrides Gwen’s wishes and does what he thinks is best for her, and she lets him. Not always – that defiant streak that came out when he broke into her house comes up again and again. Oh, and this is the book where we meet Tack. Hiiiii, Tack! *drools*

Here’s the thing about Mystery Man: it’s not the most amazing, or amazingly written, book you’ll ever read. The prose is solid but not all that imaginative, Hawk, like I said, is a douchecanoe more often than not, and Gwen loses her ability to think straight when he goes all alpha-caveman on her. I’m finding the same thing with Law Man, Mitch Lawson’s story (which I picked up from the library because I liked Mitch in Mystery Man). But damn if the book isn’t addictive. Seriously. I stayed up until one in the morning finishing Mystery Man because I’d promise myself I’d stop at the end of the chapter and then I’d think, oh, just one more, and before I knew it I was almost done and I had to finish. If Ashley could bottle whatever it is that made those pages keep turning, I’d buy it. By the gallon. I’d pick up Tack’s story next (Motorcycle Man), but I learned the hard way – if you’ve got a review book to finish (as of this writing I’ve got two), DO NOT START a Kristen Ashley book. Right now I’d rather be finishing Law Man than writing this blog post. If I pick that back up, though, I’ll never finish this, never get my errands run, never get that submission out the door like I said I would today.

And we had a bit of excitement over at Vampire Book Club – VBC was named to the List of Lists and earned a mention in this New York Times article. Chelsea was ecstatic, and it’s pretty damn awesome for us reviewers, too. I’m proud of them and Chelsea for putting together a quality site that readers trust for their paranormal and urban fantasy reviews.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Law Man to get to know.

Copies of Crash Into You, Lies You Wanted to Hear, and Covert Interview provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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