What the hell did I read this month? Between revisions and the day job and conference crises, I can’t remember half the stuff I read. I’m fairly certain a great deal of it was smut of some kind.
I did read Shooter, by Dahlia West. Hayley steps off the bus in Rapid City, South Dakota with the intention of finding a job, a place to stay, and that’s it. She does not intend to make friends, and she certainly doesn’t intend to get involved with Chris “Shooter” Sullivan. But she does, and it’s very, very good – until it goes very, very wrong. This was part of my long weekend of sample reading, and I’m pleased to say it lived up to my expectations. There was a serious (and extended) WTF moment involving birth control (let’s just say Plan B should not be used in that way) and yeah, there were some grammar issues and other misspellings, but overall, it had that crack-like feeling of a Kristen Ashley book. The relationship between Hayley and Shooter starts out molasses slow, and it was a welcome change in a sea of insta-everything. I had a big, goofy smile on my face a lot of the time while I was reading this. I’ve heard not so good things about book two, Tex, and heard next to nothing about book three, Hawk, so I don’t know if this is a one and done for me or not.
There was also Wild Things by Chloe Neill. There’s a warrant out for Ethan’s arrest, so he and Merit hightail it out of Chicago to stay at the Breckenridge’s estate, just in time for the big Pack party. When a shifter goes missing, though, they find themselves knee-deep in a case of multiple disappearances. After nine books, Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series is solidly in the comfort reading category for me. The plot of Wild Things reminded me a little too much of the plodding nature of Drink Deep, but spending time with these characters is never a hardship. It took me a while to get around to reading book eight, Biting Bad, but when I did, I realized just how much I missed Merit and the gang, and once I finished Wild Things was already available. I got a double Merit fix to hold me over. Plus, prophecy! We finally find out just what that prophecy Gabe showed Merit actually means. And in true Merit style, she handles it with a healthy dose of snark.
I started Helena Hunting’s Clipped Wings, got halfway through, and put it away. It’s a NA of the angsty broken hero/heroine variety, and I think I’m over these. Tenley and Hayden are both hiding dark, horrible pasts, and neither believes they deserve happiness, but they’re drawn together and pursue a relationship anyway. The reason I’d requested this book to begin with was the body mod aspect – piercings and ink, lots of ink. And those parts, where they’re talking art, especially on skin, are interesting and I wished there was more of it. But Tenley was too timid for my taste, Hayden was pushy and overbearing at the worst possible times (and a dick about it, too, if someone called him out on it) and then…I read the blurb for book two. Wings does not have a HEA. That’s right. It’s a romance with no happy ever after. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m reading a romance novel, I expect it will end in an emotionally satisfactory way. If you’re going to make me invest my time in these characters, I want a payoff, and I don’t want to have to wait months to get it. Granted, book two will be released in May, but that was the kick I needed to stop forcing my way through the book.
Julie Cross’ Letters to Nowhere was just nominated for a RITA! I haven’t read this yet, but I did get a chance to read Third Degree and after the disappointment of Clipped Wings, Degree was a welcome, and totally awesome, change. Check out my review over on Goodreads.
I’d hoped for a triumphant return to one of my favorite genre (mystery/suspense) with Fog of Dead Souls by Jill Kelly. But…not quite. Ellie’s trying to put a brutally violent attack behind her. On her first night in Farmington, New Mexico, she meets a man named Al, who proposes within a half hour of meeting her. She agrees because for the first time in a while, she feels safe and protected. But her nightmares won’t leave her alone, and it’s not long before the past catches up with her.
The biggest problem with this story is the way it’s constructed. It flips back and forth between the present and Ellie’s past, causing the tension to slacken each time. So when other incidents similar to Ellie’s pop on the radar, I didn’t care. Nor did I care when she became involved with Doug, one of the detectives on the case. The whole thread with Al felt unnecessary. I think if you skip the parts in New Mexico, you’d have a much tighter, engaging story, and despite its faults, Ellie’s an interesting and sympathetic character. I liked her and I wanted her to find peace, to stop running. I just wanted to lay the story out, cut it up, and put it back together in a way that made more sense.
Oh well. Maybe next time.
Copies of Clipped Wings and Fog of Dead Souls provided by the publisher(s).