Reading Addictions

Oct 9, 2013 by

charactersviabookgeek

From bookgeekconfessions.tumblr.com

I’m a reader. I’m also a writer, but I started down that road because there were stories I wanted to tell that no one had written yet. Given me free time, a comfy chair and something that grips my attention, be the format paper or digital, and I’m happy as a clam. In fact, one of the reasons I’m so eager to get the boxes out of the living room is because we’re creating a reading nook as part of the setup. There’s a room divider that we have to do something with (it belongs to my father-in-law and we cannot get rid of it, nor do we want it where it previously sat) and my husband came up with the idea of using it in the living room to create this nook. It also serves the purpose of making a large space seem not so large while still allowing for plenty of traffic flow if we have a party.

I know I’m going to be spending a lot of time there; we may have seriously downsized our book collection in the move (something I do not want to go through again, thank you very much), but there is still enough reading material in the house to keep us for the next few years — and I’m determined to make a dent on my TBR pile because the ones I kept were the ones I really wanted to read.

At the same time, I’m reminded that there are moments I could cheerfully strangle my favorite authors because I’ve stayed up too late because I just couldn’t put the book down. This happened to me just a couple of weeks ago; I finally read the first book in the Honor Harrington series, On Basilisk Station and found myself still awake after 1 AM because I had to finish the final chapters while having my heart ripped apart because characters I’d grown quite fond of were dying in the final confrontation. And I had to go to work in the morning.

It was a marvelous book, but I also felt I needed to take a break because both friends and my husband warned me David Weber would do the same thing to me again. And, besides, I needed to catch up on that sleep. But I couldn’t stay away for long and Honor of the Queen is now on my Kindle App. I just need to make certain that I I get down to 20% of the book left, I need to not read it when I know I have to go to bed in an hour because I am, unfortunately, no longer twenty and can’t get by on minimal sleep. Still, there is the possibility that I’ll get sucked in and stay up late because I can’t put it down.

So, what about you? Where’s your favorite place to read and who’s kept you up at night lately?

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2013 TBR Challenge: Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson

Feb 20, 2013 by

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria ThompsomMurder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson
(Gaslight Mystery #1)
Berkley
Published May 1, 1999

(Yes, I realize I originally published this a week early. I blame the cold medicine I was taking.)

This month’s challenge was for a book recommended by a friend. I’ll confess that I did have this series recommended by a friend, though they were recommending the latest book in the series. I, however, usually prefer to start at the beginning, especially with mysteries where the relationship between two characters plays and integral part. My friend promised that I’d find the first book well worth my time. Given I finished 291 pages in two days, I would say I did.

A historical mystery, the story opens in New York at the turn of the 20th Century. Sarah Brandt, a doctor’s widow who married below the social station she was born into, works as a midwife and is called out in the middle of the night to deliver a baby in a boarding house. The call’s not unexpected, but while there, she sees a girl who looks very much like an old schoolfriend of hers. Her attention is quickly diverted back to the work at hand and she doesn’t give the girl more than a passing thought. It is only the next day when she returns for a follow-up visit that she learns the girl has been murdered — and she is indeed a member of her old schoolfriend’s family.

Investigating the crime with not too much enthusiasm is Frank Malloy. This is a NYPD that has filled with corruption, though the current commissioner, one Theodore Roosevelt, has sworn to root it out. Malloy is an honest man as policemen go, though his eye is more on securing a promotion for himself than getting involved in a case that not only doesn’t promise to contribute to that effort, but which could actively hurt him. Sarah, however, won’t let go of the matter and Malloy slowly finds himself drawn in.

I’ll confess to making a guess early on as to the motives behind the murder and finding myself right, but I was fascinated enough with the characters that this didn’t spoil my enjoyment. There’s quite a bit of historic detail in the book, but it’s laid in deftly enough that it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. It wraps itself around the characters, informs their choices and builds the world Sarah and Malloy inhabit quite nicely.

There are currently fourteen books in the Gaslight Mysteries series, with a 15th due in May. This isn’t a series I’m going to swallow whole (like I tend to mainline the J.D. Robb In Death books, usually reading three at a whack before tackling something else), but I definitely have the next in the series, Murder On St. Mark’s Place, queued up in my “to buy” list.

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Happy Publication Day

Jan 28, 2013 by

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Two hundred years ago today, Pride and Prejudice by “a Lady, the author of Sense and Sensibility” was published in London. Three volumes, its cost was 18 shillings.

No one had any idea then that this work would echo down two centuries and be hailed as a masterpiece of English literature. Her popularity ebbs and flows, but she has always had a devoted circle of followers, including Rudyard Kipling, who wrote:

Jane lies in Winchester, blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made.
And, while the stones of Winchester – or Milsom Street – remain,
Glory, Love, and Honour unto England’s Jane!

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Pet Peeves as a Reader

Jan 18, 2013 by

book stackOne of the joys of the rise of eBooks is being able to get hold of books I’ve read before but aren’t on my bookshelf for one reason or another. Most of the times these are wonderful trips back to familiar territory and rediscovering a story you’ve enjoyed before.

Then, there are others — and I’m enduring one of those right now. Oh, the story is still fine, even if it’s more episodice than I remember, but the format of the Kindle edition? Not happy. At this point, I can create a basic, working Table of Contents with my Scrivener software; why can’t folks who are (in theory) doing this professionally manage the same? Finding myself putting bookmarks in for chapter beginnings so I can find my way back again if necessary is not particularly appealing. To quote from A Chorus Line: “Dance – Ten. Looks – Three.”

If you’re publishing or re-publishing a book digitally, please check the copy before you release it into the wild. It just makes sense. Thank you.

# # #

On a more pleasant note, today is the birthday of A.A. Milne, born January 18, 1882. I still have the hardback of The World of Pooh and Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne my parents gave me for my sixth birthday, and it is one of my most treasured possessions. There are times when the world is too much and I am happy to retire to the peace of the Thousand Acres Wood and pass an hour or two with Pooh, Owl, Rabbit, Piglet, and, of course, Eeyore. Thank you, sir, for all those lovely words.

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2013 TBR Challenge: A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan

Jan 16, 2013 by

A Kiss for MidwinterA Kiss for Midwinter by Coutney Milan
(Brothers Sinister #1.5)
Amazon Digital
Published December 16, 2012

The challenge this month was for a short read. To be honest, I haven’t had this in my TBR pile long (I bought it the day after Christmas), but this novella highlights many things I enjoy about short form writing: it was fast-paced, it was focused on the main characters, and the length felt just about right. It proved a nice relief at a moment when my day job proved totally insane (don’t ask), and I walked away satisfied. Right there, any artistic merits aside, is a sign the story did exactly what it should: made the reader feel like they hadn’t wasted their time reading it.

Before I go any further, let me say that I have not read The Duchess War, the book this novella is connected to, so the story rose and fell entirely on its own merits without any pre-existing opinions about the characters. The plot in brief: We meet Jonas Grantham is a young man of twenty-one shadowing an older doctor prior to beginning his own medical studies. As the book opens, they are visiting a family whose young daughter is pregnant, and the doctor offers up a boatload of judgements and precious little medical advice: the young woman clearly suffers from a moral defect, and her parents should expect she will die an early, tragic death and the girl is already lost to them. Jonas thinks the doctor is wrong, but he stays silent because that’s what he’s been told to do.

Cut to five years later. Jonas is now a doctor and establishing himself in his practice in Leicester. He’s also decided to marry, so compiles a list of what he considers the ten prettiest women in town. After seeing Lydia Charingford, he considers adding an eleventh to the list. Then he learns that this lovely and poised young woman is the same girl he saw five years before.

This is a story of consequences. Lydia lives with the consequences of having been seduced when she was fifteen, something she and her family must forever keep a secret or there will be social ruin. Jonas lives with the consequences of his silence on the night he met Lydia, when he knows he should have said something as the old doctor he was shadowing dispensed moral judgements and a potentially dangerous prescription. These incidents have shaped who they are now and cause much of the conflict between them.

There are two time jumps in this novella; the first is a jump of five years between Lydia and Jonas’ first meeting and the second of sixteen months which covers the time period of The Duchess War — and those two time jumps are, I feel a big key as to why this story works. We see the trouble begin with Jonas and Lydia’s first meeting because his inaction that night shapes who he is as a doctor. When they meet again, Lydia mistakes his intentions and believe that because Jonas knows her history, his attentions have a less honorable bent. It is when she speaks frankly to him that she will not be ruined and if he tries anything, he’ll be sorry, that Jonas finds himself taken with her and his potential list of brides has shrunk to one.

The second time jump now happens and we’re sixteen months later, shortly before Christmas and the main body of the story. Lydia has been engaged and had it fall through rather disastrously, convincing her that she isn’t a particularly good judge of the male character as husband potential. Jonas’ father, who suffers from dementia, is starting to fail and his condition leads to the injury of a young boy Jonas had hired to help look after him. Neither is in a particularly good place emotionally, which is perhaps why things come to a head. Where he only sees tragedy, she helps him see hope and joy, while he helps her to face the fears and doubts that sprang from her seduction and subsequent pregnancy.

And here is where the short form shines. In a longer book, Jonas and Lydia would have been kept apart longer, which would have likely lead to frustration that Lydia needed to “just get over it” since her her fears were what was holding her back. And Jonas’ insistence on simply not going away when she tells him to would start to seem a bit stalkery if things were dragged out. There was a point where my Goodreads update read “The hero just behaved like a Class A jerk. That he might have done so deliberately to provoke a reaction from the heroine provides some saving grace, but I found myself questioning their relationship.” Jonas quickly redeemed himself, though, and with the focus on the two of them, I found the rest of the story a delight. My main quibble with short romances is that things often feel rushed and I’m left wanting. This, however, felt the right length and I think the structure, that we have the time jumps helped.

Novellas are seeing a resurgence these days, a way for authors to promote a series or lure new readers in with a story that wouldn’t work in the longer form, but that the author wants to tell. It’s a great way for readers to discover new authors or try something different if they’re not ready to dive into longer works. This is one I’d definitely recommend to someone who hasn’t reach Courtney Milan’s work before. It’s a quick, satisfying read and I definitely will be reading more from her.

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Why I’m Breaking Up with Agatha Christie

Jan 4, 2013 by

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in ITV's production of "Murder on the Orient Express"

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in ITV’s production of “Murder on the Orient Express”

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to break up with Agatha Christie.

This isn’t a decision I’ve made lightly. I love mystery novels and Agatha Christie is one of the greats in that genre. And yet…

I’ve read several of her books and each one has proved something of a struggle. There something’s about her style that I don’t connect with. It’s as if I’m watching everything from a distance, which makes it terribly easy to put down a book down and not pick back up again.

I began Murder on the Orient Express in June of 2013. As of today, I’ve only completed 26%. Time, I think, to call it a day and put it on my DNF shelf over at Goodreads. This isn’t a DNF because the book is badly written; this is a Did Not Finish because the book’s not right for me and there’s not much I can do about it. Ironically, I’ve read Dorothy L. Sayer’s books multiple times and always enjoyed them.

It’s all a matter of taste — but then, the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things, now wouldn’t it?

So, what books do you know you “should” read and just can’t bring yourself to pick up — and what classics did you find you enjoyed much more than you expected?

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The 2013 TBR Challenge

Dec 24, 2012 by

2013 TBR ChallengeWendy, the Super Librarian, is doing it again. “It” in this case is the 2013 TBR Challenge, an opportunity to go through the TBR pile you’ve got stacking up either in physical books or on your tablet/iDevice and actually read some of them. Considering I’ve got a house filled with books I haven’t read yet and I don’t want to admit to how many TBRs are happily sitting in my Amazon account, this is probably a good idea.

Dates and themes are listed below. Wendy always insists the themes are not set in stone, so what I come up with for the challenge each month may not match exactly. If you’re interested, hie thyself over to Wendy’s blog and check out the details. It’s going to be fun.

January 16 – We Love Short Shorts! (Short stories, Novellas, category romance)
February 20
– Recommended Read (something recommended by a fellow reader)
March 20 – Series Catch-Up (pick a book from a series you’re behind on)
April 17 – New-To-You Author
May 15 – More Than One (An author who has more than one book in your TBR pile).
June 19 – Lovely RITA (RWA RITA nominees OR winners).
July 17 – The Classics (Something classic within the romance genre – an author, a specific book, a trope/theme – I’m open to wide interpretations here!)
August 21 – Steamy reads (Erotic romance, erotica, something spicy!)
September 18 – Western (Contemporary or historical)
October 16 – Paranormal or romantic suspense
November 20 – All About The Hype (a book that created such chatter that it was inescapable).
December 18 – Holiday themes (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, it’s all good!)

Happy reading, everyone!

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I Appear to Have Lost My Kindle

Jan 21, 2011 by

I haven’t lost it lost it; the Kindle is still sitting on the dining table, ready for the day. No, what’s happened is my husband has taken it over.

I bought the Kindle last November, one of the lucky ones to get the previous generation model Amazon had on deep discount for Black Friday. My thought was to use it as my secondary device, something to keep by my bed while my iPad got carted around on a regular basis and then could get plugged in at night to recharge. I also figured that the husband could use it from time to time during the day and we bought him two books to read on it.

It’s now his Kindle. He is reading it constantly, loves being able to change font sizes and that his place is automatically saved. He wants more book and I’m back to using my iPad as my reader.

This is why digital books are making inroads; it’s eleven at night and we find a book, so can get it downloaded instantly (or the sample to see if it’s something we’re interested in). If you’re feeling tired, the font can be bigger so your eyes don’t have to work so hard. And my husband, who is absolutely not a gadget person, loves it. Technology is easy to sell to those who adore it; when you start selling to people who’s first instinct is not to reach for the gadget, that’s when you’ve definitely hit the broad market.

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2011 TBR Challenge: January — “Between the CEO’s Sheets” by Charlene Sands

Jan 19, 2011 by

2011 TBR Challenge: January — “Between the CEO’s Sheets” by Charlene Sands

Title: Between the CEO’s Sheets
Author: Charlene Sands
Publisher: Silhouette Romance
Publishing Date: June 2007, #1805 in the Silhouette Desire line
Back Cover Tag: Boardroom, Bedroom…or Both?

This one has been hanging around the TBR pile for a while, and it was honestly the first category I picked up after accepting the challenge. If truth be told, I picked up the cat to see what he’d flopped on, discovered he’d knocked some books down and there it was.

I used to read a tremendous number of categories, but that’s decreased in recent years and a big reason is the lower page count. In a short story/novella, you have to stay closely focused on your main characters due to the low word count; in a full length book, you have room to develop more complicated themes. The length of this book seems neither fish nor fowl, because there are some tantalizing hints at deeper issues and character backgrounds, yet there really isn’t room to explore it. The other problem seems a common one with categories: I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d come in on the middle chapter. This wasn’t a branded theme book, but the hero, Wade Beaumont has a brother, and there are various other characters who are mentioned or appear, that feel as if they have their own story. (This isn’t just in cateogries; there are some historicals that when I see the hero has five brothers, seven cousins, and three sisters, I know the author’s going for a series and back away quickly.)

The basics: Gina Grady finds herself in a bind, needs a job that will pay decently, so appeals to her childhood friend Sam Beaumont for a job with Triple B, the family business. Only, it’s not Sam but his younger brother Wade she has to deal with, whom she slept with nine years before, only to leave the next day when she learned another girl was claiming he was the father of her baby. Wade hires her because he wants to find out what happened nine years ago and he still wants her, even if he keeps telling himself it’s just lust. Stuff happens, there is another misunderstanding, the misunderstandings are resolved (including the ones from nine years ago), and we fade out.

If the above makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy the book or was bored, you’d be wrong. I did enjoy the book — or most of it, anyway. The pacing is excellent and the writing is crisp. Plus, much of the action takes place on Catalina, which means that while Gina and Wade aren’t exactly in a locked room, they’re within close confines because Avalon, the island’s only incorporated city, isn’t that big. (The entire island has a permanent population of under 5,000.) They can’t get away from one another easily. But it’s also a story that would have been better served by either a longer word count (expanding the back story, a filled out denouement of the whole thing with the girl who told Gina Wade was the father of her baby), or a shorter one (dropping a few elements, such as Wade seeing Gina with a competitor and misunderstanding the situation). I’m going to dig around the massive TBR bin where the categories live and see if I have anything else by Charlene Sands, but I’m not certain I’m ready to go diving back into categories big time at this point.

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Not Really a Book Review, but a Rant

Dec 16, 2010 by

Yesterday, I admitted one of the books I was reading turned out to be a great, big, Did Not Finish. In fact, if I hadn’t been reading this one on a rather expensive electronic device, it would have been pitched across the room and straight into the trash. While the style of writing might be entertaining (the author gives good snark), the characters were so thoroughly unpleasant that the snark quickly wore thin. About a quarter of the way through, I skipped to the end to see if the author really was going where I thought she was going. Turns out she wasn’t — but it turns out the heroine doesn’t end up with anyone.

Now, I don’t insist every book I read has a happy ending with our two leads pledging eternal love; there are stories where that is simply not organic to how the plot flows. Look at Casablanca. If Ilsa had ended up with Rick, it wouldn’t have worked. In Chick Lit, women often end up on their own because the story is about the journey, not the romance. But, if I buy a book that is labeled “Romance,” then I’m expecting certain things when I curl up with it. One of those things is the romantic journey and the promise of two people building a life together at the end. If I don’t get that when that’s what’s promised on the tin, I get a little annoyed.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned the name of either the author or the book. I’m not annoyed with them. If I’d known this wasn’t a romance, I wouldn’t have picked it up at this moment — and if I picked it up at another time, I might have felt more open to the story. But I’m in the mood for romance, especially as a counter to Wolf Hall, which is marvelous historical fiction, but I know what ultimately happens to our happens to our main character and it’s not pretty. No, I’m annoyed with the publisher and their marketing department and whoever decided it was a brilliant idea to put something that’s very definitely a non-romance in a romance line. I don’t care what else the book might be; the marketing said Romance, it was grouped with Romance, and that’s what I thought I was buying.

I’m speaking purely as a reader here. I know it’s likely to be difficult to go back to the book later when I’ve gotten so annoyed with it, and that also means I’m less likely to go spend my money on any of the author’s other books. This is one reason I’m loving buying stuff for my Kindle. Some things I thought I really might like to read? Turns out I’m feeling “meh” a few pages in to the sample, while books by authors I’ve never read before are causing me to finish the sample and click the “buy” button. Getting to read a chapter or two is encouraging to take some chances I might not have taken otherwise — but books like the one I just dropped are making me more wary of just clicking “buy” without reading the sample first.

Years ago at an RWA Conference, Anne Stuart joked, “Editors aren’t the enemy; Marketing is.” The audience laughed, but in this case it was true. The marketing told me I was buying a banana split; turns out they were selling me a meatball sundae. They didn’t either me or the author any favors.

Rant over. I need to pull something else onto the iPad because the Thalberg bio is a bit too dense to read casually during breaks at work. Maybe a short story anthology, one that is — hopefully — guaranteed to be fluffy.

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Quick Look: A Countess by Christmas

Dec 12, 2010 by

"Countess by Christmas" by Annie BurrowsI’ve been determined to write up at least quick reviews or comments on the books I’ve read. For one thing, it’s going to help me keep track of what I am reading, especially since I’m trying to do a book a week. For another, since I’m doing the TBR 2011 Challenge, it’s good practice is writing reviews that don’t take me two days to prep. And, yes, if I’m doing a book a week, that means I expect to have 52 books listed on my Books Read page by the end of 2011. Scary thought.xLet me say right off the bat that I’m a big sucker for Christmas books and films. I eagerly await the first winter-themed books appearing in the bookstores around October and I can buy them by the bushel-full. I don’t read with a critical here; I curl up on the couch and just indulge.

For that type of reading, A Countess by Christmas by Annie Burrows is an absolutely perfect type of book. It has a good pace, it’s charming, and everything is wrapped up in a neat bow at the end. The basics of the story are that Helen Forrest and her Aunt Bella have come to Alvaney Hall for Christmas because Bella needs to ask a favor of her relative, the Earl of Bridgemere. Bridgemere is reputedly a very brooding, unpleasant man since the death of his wife and only opens his home to his family for the Christmas season. At that time, they descend like the veritable plague of locust to beg favors and/or money. Bella has been estranged from the family since she adopted Helen years ago, and is only coming back now because the bank in which all her funds were place has failed. Things are bad enough that Helen has found a position as a governess which she is to take up after Christmas and Aunt Bella will be forced to live on the charity of her extended family (Bridgemere is some sort of cousin, close enough to claim kinship, but not so close that they know one enough well.)

Not surprisingly, when Helen and Bridgemere meet, sparks fly and we proceed from there. There are the nasty relatives one gets at any large family gathering, charming children, and chances for misunderstandings and our hero and heroine to show one another their first impressions were mistaken. All of it is sweet, light, and frothy, exactly what I want at this time of year. My only quibble is that a number of the roadblocks to romance in the book are based on misunderstandings and not saying what one means. In a longer book, or one that wasn’t so otherwise light, I might have well given up on these two. But froth shouldn’t have deep emotional conflict; look at one of my favorite films, Singin’ in the Rain. The Black Moment there last about a minute and mostly consists of Debbie Reynolds saying, “I never want to speak to you again,” followed by Gene Kelley singing to her and we fade out on a happy ending. I wasn’t looking for deep conflict here and the fact everything could easy be resolved once the characters actually said what they meant fit the tone quite nice. It’s a lovely little Christmas bon-bon that won’t add inches to your hips.

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2001 TBR Challenge

Dec 7, 2010 by

TBR Challenge 2011Wendy the SuperLibrarian is hosting the 2011 TBR Challenge. If you haven’t seen it before, the idea is that each month, on the 3rd Wednesday, you comment on a book from your TBR pile, something that has been languishing for a while. I’m including my burgeoning electronic TBR pile because I’ve managed to acquire over eighty books since I got my iPad in July.

Go. Sign up. It’s going to be fun.

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Quick Look: “Scandal” by Amanda Quick

Dec 6, 2010 by

Unless I intended to write an essay, there doesn’t seem to be tremendous point in doing a serious review of a book first published in 1991. Suffice to say I found it entertaining and Emily, our heroine neatly walked a tightrope between being interesting and just Too Stupid to Live. Once Quick revealed the reason for Emily’s retreat into the metaphysical and philosophical, her behavior made perfect sense. Unlike Money, Honey, where the tease about the back story went on just a little too long for my liking, my interest was held until the reveal.

Oh, there were things I think could have been improved, but seeing how relatively tame the bedroom scenes are compared to many books released now and remembering that this was hot and steamy almost twenty years ago, I think you also have to take into account how much the market had changed. Final verdict: enjoyable, but didn’t put me in the mood to go racing for the very old part of her backlist.

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Review: Money, Honey by Susan Sey

Dec 2, 2010 by

"Money, Honey" by Susan SeyI bought this book based on a review over Dear Author, right at the moment when I deciding that I wanted to try doing some reading on the Kindle App on my iPad. Didn’t actually get to it until recently, but I stopped counting my TBR pile some time ago.

The short version: enjoyed it and will definitely be buying “Money Shot” when it’s released next June.

The longer version: Very entertaining suspense. FBI Agent Liz Brynn reluctantly has to work with informant Patrick O’Connor on cracking a counterfeiting case that involves the restaurant and casino run by Patrick’s sister and brother-in-law. Complicating matters is not just Patrick’s old partner in crime who’s out for revenge, but Liz’s feelings for him.

The attraction is really what drives the story forward, but I didn’t mind at all because the characters were so engaging. Not just Liz and Patrick, but the supporting cast as well — yet at no time did I get the sense of “Look! I’m setting up characters who can spin off into their own book!” At the end of the book, there were folks I wanted to see in a sequel, but they were definitely here to serve the story. (The villain is not one of them; Villanueva is a genuinely nasty piece of work with no redeeming qualities to soften his edges.)

The pacing is swift, and the moment when Liz and Patrick — finally! — come together combustible. They fall into bed at the right place in the story, too, where the stakes are high and an emotional attachment only adds to the problems, not solve them. The aftermath is believable and fits with the characters. It also sets up very nicely for the book’s last scene in how they finally start moving past their personal baggage to move forward together. There were call backs there which had me smiling, something I’d done frequently while reading.

If I have one quibble, it’s about the back story for Liz. The revelation was teased too long for me and by the time it arrived, I was actually a bit annoyed. As such, I ended up with a bit of an eye roll at the secret in Liz’s past, which didn’t tie into the rest of the story as well as I would have like. Despite that quibble, I had a great time reading this.

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