Saturday, June 15, 2013

Book Review: Breaking Point (I-Team #5) by Pamela Clare

Breaking Point (I-Team, #5)Breaking Point by Pamela Clare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gee-zus! Just when I thought that there could be no hero to top the awesome Marc Hunter or Gabe Rossiter, I buy Breaking Point and am blown the freak away by Zach McBride. Holy heck that man is the alpha to top all alphas in the I-Team series thus far and has flown to the #1 spot of book boyfriends.

I know, it's a bit gushy, but this man was so strong, so protective of Natalie, and had such a big heart I was blown away by him. But it wasn't just the man's alpha tendencies and need to protect Natalie. It was how he believed in Natalie and knew she could handle the things he asked her to do. He was gentle with her but firm, helping her to find an inner strength inside her she barely knew existed and by cultivating that strength they were able to get out of the hell they'd both been in (and I'm talking literally, as in being kidnapped and tortured as well as emotionally with their past and PTSD issues), together.

On to some other things that blew me away about this book:
At one point I thought the author was going to kill one of the prior heroes. I couldn't breathe the whole time as I read as fast as I could to find out what happened. Talk about nearly having an anxiety attack.
I cried at the Marc and Julian scene. I love those two and their banter cracks me up and I love their relationship.
The portrayal of both main characters and their issues with PTSD was solid and wasn't glossed over. The readers were given glimpses of how both characters handled (and mishandled) their issue, and by coming together during Natalie's kidnapping, began to heal. I also was happy to see that the issues didn't just go away. Zach still had nightmares, they just weren't as bad.
The scene at the cemetery-balled like a baby. I also did this when Zach spoke to the picture of Beau when they were in the penthouse. (Before all hell broke loose)
The torture scenes (of Zach) scared the hell out of me. And the author didn't portray Zach as someone who could get out of every situation like MacGyver. He suffered, and that suffering was palpable in the descriptions and actions of the characters.
I love catching up with the I-Team gang. I'm sad that I've read all the novels that are out there and will now have to patiently wait for Striking Distance in November 2013. Did I say patiently? Yeah, I don't know about that...

I've read some of the reviews and was surprised at how, when this book came out, people were upset by what Natalie decided to do once all hell stopped breaking loose around her. Deciding to leave her job and stay at home I think was a good decision for her. I'm not saying that I think all women should stay home and wait on their husbands. And in no way did I read the author as promoting this. For this character, after the hell she'd been through in Hurricane Katrina and then everything that happened when she was kidnapped in Mexico, it makes total sense that she just wants to be there 100% for her man and eventually for her kids. I thought the explanation and her reasoning was more than sufficient and anyone who gets pissed about it or says that the character is somehow giving her hubby control, or it's anti-feminism, and the like, is just wrong. If a woman decides the best choice FOR HER is to stay home and focus on her family, then more power to her. And no one should look down on a woman that chooses this, but women especially shouldn't. The sisterhood needs to stick together after all. Sure, personally I can't say that what Natalie decided would be my cup of tea (though if I had Zach coming home to me every night, I might! LOL) BUT I would want the freedom to be able to make that choice (if I chose to) taken away. Ever. And I wouldn't want to be criticized for it either. Women need to support each other's life choices, even if we don't agree with them. We aren't all cookie cutter versions of each other after all; we have different wants, needs and dreams. So being offended because a woman (and in this case a fictional woman) made a choice to stay home, is baffling to me. Okay, getting off my soapbox now.

If you haven't picked up this series, I highly recommend doing so. It has action, sexy times, suspense, interesting story lines and compelling characters that make the time spent with these characters worthwhile.

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

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Friday, June 14, 2013

ARC Review: Fire Inside (Chaos #2) by Kristen Ashley

Fire Inside (Chaos, #2)Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure going into this book how KA was going to accomplish everything she had to make this book amazing. How was she going to answer the questions people had about Hop from Motorcycle Man? How would Lanie be made into a KA heroine that her readers could relate to? Could she pull it off and make her readers fall for this hero and heroine, as they had for so many of her fictional couples before them?

I don't know why I had these questions. I should have just trusted the woman. I mean seriously, someone smack me on the side of the head next time I even think of doubting KA's awesomeness and her ability to redeem characters.

First, let's start with Lanie. I did not like her in Motorcycle Man. I thought she was a materialistic, stuck up snob. And I didn't think she could ever do anything to deserve a Chaos hunk. But I was so wrong. After going into FI with trepidation about her character, I quickly saw the layers that went into Lanie and how she might SEEM materialistic and stuck up, but she was using that as a shield. She didn't have a great home life and did a lot of what she did to protect herself, to shield herself from getting hurt the way her father hurt her mother.

Now, let's talk about Hop. Hop in MM did something that many in the KA support addicts group deemed unforgivable. It seemed like, from the events in MM, that he cheated on his wife. During the wait for FI's release, I was one who tried to put my faith in KA and wait and see what the explanation was. After all, in MM we only get a glimpse of the events AND we only get in Tyra's POV. As a Writing instructor I know how important POV is. What one person sees or thinks can be no where near the truth of what is actually happening. Yes, he did have sex with BeeBee in MM. But so did Tack. So that in and of itself didn't make him a bad guy-just a guy with bad taste for the moment. And Tack tells Tyra in MM that she doesn't know the whole story, to leave it alone and that things are what they seem. This was confirmed in Own the Wind (Chaos #1) when Shy and Tabby talk about Hop. But again, in OtW, we don't get all the details and are still in the dark.

In FI, I am happy to say that what happened with Hop and his status during the MM motorcycle incident are realistically explained. KA did not change history or back story. I know some people think that, but she did not. I am adamant about this because the "history" we have in MM and OtW aren't the actual facts. They are perceptions built on assumptions and for Tyra, false assumptions. Tack tried to tell Tyra in MM to let it go.

Sadly she did not. She is what caused the drama (or some of it) for Lanie and Hop. This disappointed me about Tyra and I blame her hanging out with Elvira and Gwen for becoming more of a gossip. She rattles on about Hop to Lanie and Elvira and all hell breaks loose. Lanie runs, flips out on Hop and THEN we get the truth. We find out the most heartbreaking story, something that not only affected him but also his kids, and I was so mad at Tyra for her blabber mouth and Lanie for her idiocy that I wanted to reach into the book and smack them both. Hard. I know it had to happen-we needed the "big misunderstanding" for the truth to come out. But I do wish we saw Tack get pissed at Tyra for doing what she did and not being a good old lady-he told her she had to keep her mouth shut in MM and not to assume. She not only did neither of those things, but she blabbed club business to people she shouldn't have (namely, Elvira).  This was not good MC behavior.

But anyway, it served its purpose and we got the details about Tack and I can happily say he did not cheat. But what happened (i.e. what caused the incident itself and the subsequent mess that not only crushed Hop but could have devastating effects on his kids when they find out the truth; especially for his son) made me cry. And it made me hate his bitch of an ex-wife. Some may call it cliche-having the crazy or horrid ex-wife, but honestly, it's romance. There is always going to be some kind of trope like this used-a stalker, an ex, a crazy step-brother, etc, etc. There needs to be something in the characters' backgrounds that make them act the way they do, and in this case, it hurt to see how badly Hop was betrayed by his wife. And Lanie should have talked to him, not made an assumption and ran, believing Tyra's ridiculous and inaccurate gossip. The subsequent scenes were heart-wrenching and I was a bit worried that our MCs wouldn't get an HEA, or not one that they deserved. But again, my doubts were washed away with an amazing resolution and I loved the epilogue.

One thing I will say about this series is I love how the "action" is being built up. This book runs parallel to Own the Wind so we see the same (and additional) events regarding Benito, but from a different POV.  I'm assuming that things will ratchet up as the series progresses with it ultimately coming to a head in the final book of the series which will focus on Rush. I think there are two more between FI and Rush's book so things I am sure will continue to get interesting.

*I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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