2017 Book # 57 – Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

51hiXwy2TSLTitle: Duke with Benefits
Author: Manda Collins
Date finished: 7/10/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Studies in Scandal series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?
Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Daphne Forsyth, daughter of the Earl of Forsyth, and Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland. Daphne is one of the recent inheritors of the Duke’s aunt’s estate, left to a group of four woman scholars. Daphne’s scholarly focus is  mathematics, which is why Lady Celeste left Daphne with a specific task. Lady Celeste knew of a clue to a hidden treasure, a cipher dating back hundreds of years. Knowing of Daphne’s skills with ciphers, Lady Celeste left it to Daphne to unravel the clue and find the treasure. But not before trying to play matchmaker once again in asking her nephew (Maitland) to help Daphne find the clues to the hidden cipher. Lady Celeste had been similarly stealthy in Book 1 (Ready Set Rogue) in getting Ivy and Kerr together. But when someone else finds out about the cipher, someone who is willing to do anything to obtain it including murder, Daphne must solve the mystery before anyone else gets hurt. And along the way, Maitland discovers that beneath Daphne’s brusque exterior, there is a heart of gold.
Overall I liked this book. It was a quick and easy read, but was full of romance and danger and mathematical challenges. I love this series overall because the heroines are all so strong and intelligent. I loved that Maitland’s character understood Daphne’s need for independence and respected it, acting more as a support for her than a driver. Some heroes in historical romances can get a little heavy-handed, so it was refreshing to see this change of pace. And Daphne’s character as well was slightly unusual for a historical romance, I think she might be diagnosed with something similar to Asperger’s in today’s day and age based on her inability to look people in the eye, her dislike at being touched, and her difficulties with understanding social interactions. Altogether made for a pretty interesting read. I liked this book and I look forward to reading more in the series. I would recommend!

The bottom line: This was a really good book, I liked the story line and it was a quick and easy read. I like the series overall too, I would recommend!

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2017 Book #45 – The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler

51RzRwlEwRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Mediterranean Caper
Author: Clive Cussler
Date finished: 5/14/17
Genre: Fiction, military
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: July 16, 2013 (40th Anniversary reprint)
Pages in book: 220
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Dirk Pitt Adventure series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

On a quiet Greek island, a U.S. air force base has come under attack—by a World War I fighter plane . . . a famous yellow Albatros supposedly lost at sea in 1918.
Now it is up to Dirk Pitt, Al Giordino, and the rest of the NUMA team to root out the elusive truth behind the incident—and find out how it’s connected to mysterious acts of sabotage against a scientific expedition, an international smuggling ring, and a dark-haired beauty with some dangerous secrets.  The search for answers will lead Pitt from a lavish island villa, to a moving freighter eerily empty of crew, to a massive underwater cavern housing the heart of a criminal operation that is larger and more elaborate than he ever could have imagined . . . a lucrative operation that its mastermind would kill to protect.
With its fearless and dashing hero, high-stakes action, and non-stop excitement, The Mediterranean Caper is classic Dirk Pitt . . . and classic Cussler.

My rating:  1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (May). This was a military adventure type novel, supposedly in the same vein as an Indiana Jones type novel. Dirk Pitt is called out to a Greek island with his friend Giordino to help with a problem that’s come up. Along the way, through a series of events that could only be arranged by fate, Pitt gets involved in a larger issue: major drug deals and a dastardly villain who is the very definition of evil.
Overall this was not my favorite book. The hero was so cocky and arrogant, I hated it. And it didn’t make any sense how he kept figuring out the scheme/story behind every twist and turn, I couldn’t understand how Pitt seemed to be this all-knowing character. I mean yes he was smart but it was ridiculous how much he knew about each facet of other people’s plans just by guessing. And I think part of the reason I didn’t love this book was because it was written so long ago there were certain things that just were cringe-worthy. In the first 40 pages of the book, Pitt meets a beautiful but sad woman on the beach, backhands her, and then has sex with her all within like a page and it was just so ridiculously unrealistic. So overall not my favorite but I can where it would appeal to certain readers.

The bottom line: This book was not my favorite, it just didn’t capture my interest. The hero’s character didn’t appeal to me personally but I am sure this book would appeal to some.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #38 – I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett

51QomAefeLLTitle: I Dared the Duke
Author: Anna Bennett
Date finished: 4/25/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Pages in book: 365
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Wayward Wallflowers series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

DARE TO FALL IN LOVE
Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.
Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Elizabeth Lacey, the middle sister of the Wiltmore Wallflowers. Elizabeth has recently become a lady’s companion to the dowager duchess Blackshire in an effort to make herself feel useful. Having been a wallflower for three years and with one of her sisters recently married, Elizabeth has been looking for something to do with herself, and she has found the dowager duchess to be an engaging friend and conversationalist. When she meets the Duke though, she doesn’t find him as charming as the rumors claim him to be. Alex has recently found himself the target of a couple accidents that seem too odd to be coincidental. He has determined that his grandmother must retire to the country for her own safety until the whole situation gets sorted out. But he didn’t expect to find her being guarded by the fearsome Miss Lacey. Elizabeth is determined that Alex should not send his grandmother away, as it would surely break her heart, but in doing so Miss Lacey is walking right into the crossfires of whatever is threatening Alex.
Overall I really liked this book. Alex was just the right amount of surly and endearing. Beth was charming and kind-hearted. I especially liked how, when describing what Alex liked most about Beth, he admired her for her kindness towards his grandmother. There were numerous times in the book that Alex compliments Beth on things beside just her physical appearance and I really liked that, for a rogue, he wasn’t all that shallow. And I love Beth’s sisters, I especially can’t wait to hear brash Julie’s story. I liked this book a lot and I like the series overall too.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, the story line was interesting and the cast of characters was engaging. If you like historical romances especially, this is a good pick! It is a quick read with a romantic story, just what we all need.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #17 – The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

510KMAZR9FL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Surgeon
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Date finished: 3/15/17
Genre: Fiction, mystery, thriller
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 21, 2001
Pages in book: 356
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Rizzoli & Isles series
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

In her most masterful novel of medical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen creates a villain of unforgettable evil–and the one woman who can catch him before he kills again.
He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer’s methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him “The Surgeon.”
The cops’ only clue rests with another surgeon, the victim of a nearly identical crime. Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and killed her attacker before he could complete his assault. Now she hides her fears of intimacy behind a cool and elegant exterior and a well-earned reputation as a top trauma surgeon.
Cordell’s careful facade is about to crack as this new killer recreates, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s own ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. Her only comfort comes from Thomas Moore, the detective assigned to the case. But even Moore cannot protect Cordell from a brilliant hunter who somehow understands–and savors–the secret fears of every woman he kills.
Filled with the authentic detail that is the trademark of this doctor turned author . . . and peopled with rich and complex characters–from the ER to the squad room to the city morgue–here is a thriller of unprecedented depth and suspense. Exposing the shocking link between those who kill and cure, punish and protect, The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen’s most exciting accomplishment yet.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (March). This book tells the story of a homicide case under investigation in Boston, MA. Some crazy person is running around murdering women and cutting out their uteruses, and Detective Moore and Rizzoli is one of the people assigned to the case. Through their research, Moore and his team come to discover that this exact MO was also unique to a string of murders in Savannah, GA. And the only person to survive that murderer is now living in Boston. Rizzoli feels outnumbered as a woman on the force and feel like she has a lot to prove, so she’s determined to solve this case and put a win in her column, whatever it takes.
Overall I didn’t especially like this book. I thought Rizzoli was a total jerk and didn’t like her character at all. I felt like she was just whining the whole book and her surliness was way past tolerable. I’m all for the underdog but she put herself and her whole team in danger repeatedly. She kept complaining how she was better than everyone else but didn’t get the recognition because she was a woman but to be honest she didn’t seem all that better than everyone else to me. I didn’t understand how one character could be so insecure and so full of themselves at the same time. Also the conversations and other interactions between the characters seemed stilted and forced to me. The tension in this book, which I would have expected to be high due to the sick and twisted nature of the killer, just wasn’t there for me and I found it hard to work up any kind of emotion towards the plot. The mystery itself was good, if somewhat predictable. I enjoyed the plot twists though and found myself somewhat engaged in that piece of the story at least. If you like detective shows or novels then this book might work for you but it just feel flat for me.

The bottom line: I didn’t care for this book very much. The mystery plot line was alright but I hated Rizzoli as a character and the conversations and interaction between the characters was pretty stilted. I have heard this is a popular series but I personally didn’t enjoy this one.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #14 – The Hidden Man by David Ellis

41mczwmlkl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Hidden Man
Author: David Ellis
Date finished: 3/1/17
Genre: Fiction, crime/mystery
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: September 3, 2009
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Series, Jason Kolarich #1
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

Jason Kolarich is a midwestern Everyman with a lineman’s build and an easy smart-ass remark. He’s a young, intelligent maverick, but he’s also struggling with an overwhelming emotional burden—one that threatens to unravel his own life, and possibly the lives of those around him.
Twenty-seven years ago, two-year-old Audrey Cutler disappeared from her home in the middle of the night. She was never found. All the detectives had to go on were vague eyewitness accounts of a man running down the Cutlers’ street, apparently carrying someone. Without enough evidence to suggest otherwise, Griffin Perlini—a neighbor with prior offenses against minors—was arrested, but never convicted.
The case is long closed when Perlini is murdered nearly thirty years later. Now a man named Mr. Smith appears in Jason Kolarich’s office, saying only that he represents a third party who wants the man charged with murder off the hook and that Kolarich is perfect for the job. The new client: Audrey Cutler’s older brother, Sammy—Kolarich’s estranged childhood best friend—a man he hasn’t seen in nearly twenty years.
But when Kolarich starts receiving violent threats from Mr. Smith’s enigmatic employer, he figures out that the secrecy behind this nameless third party—and the key to winning Sammy’s case—is entangled with the mystery of Audrey’s disappearance. With his own life and Sammy’s in the balance, Kolarich has to put aside not only the mounting anxiety of the job but also a heart-wrenching personal tragedy in order to find out what really happened to Audrey all those years ago.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (February). This book tells the story of Jason Kolarich, a lawyer who is still reeling from a recent personal tragedy. In the previous few months, Jason had helped to win a high-profile case against the feds, making him somewhat of a local celebrity. But that’s not why a stranger named “Smith” shows up in his office one day demanding legal services. Turns out Jason’s best friend from childhood, Sammy Cutler, has been arrested for the murder of Griffin Perlini, the man suspected of abducting and killing Sammy’s baby sister, Audrey, 20 years ago. Jason doesn’t understand what Smith’s part in all this is but he owes a lot to Sammy, so he takes the case. But when Smith starts dictating how Jason needs to try the case, Jason wonders what the story is beneath the surface. And as Jason defies the rules and tries the case his own way, he learns there are consequences for disagreeing with the people he’s now working for. And when they start trying to use his brother as leverage, Jason decides its time to figure out what’s really going on, even if he has to do it on his own.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was pretty engaging and I loved how kick ass the plot twists were. I ended up enjoying this one more than I expected to, I would probably even read another from the series if I had time. The ending was a little too neat and tidy for me, everything just kind of worked out ok and the bad guys didn’t fight back much in the end. I would have liked it a lot better if Jason had gone through with his threat to cut off a couple of Smith’s fingers, he definitely deserved it. But other than that, I thought the plot was pretty good. It was engaging and was set at a good pace with lots of plot twists, some of which I didn’t see coming at all. This was a good read and I would recommend it, especially if you like a good mystery novel!

The bottom line: I liked this book ok. It isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own but it was interesting. I would recommend it if you’re into crime/mystery novels.

Link to author website

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2016 Book #105 – The Rebel of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

510nfh8ppl-_sx303_bo1204203200_Title: The Rebel of Clan Kincaid
Author: Lily Blackwood
Date finished: 11/8/16
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Highland Warrior series #2
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD
Since childhood, Magnus has been led to believe he is the Laird Alwyn’s bastard, and raised to hate the Clan Kincaid. But when he learns he is without a doubt the son of the murdered Laird Kincaid, his life as he has always known it is shattered. Now, hiding his knowledge and his fury, he returns to Burnbryde Castle, awaiting the chance to strike against the man whose treachery robbed him of his legacy. His first act of rebellion: to steal a kiss from the redheaded beauty who’s betrothed to the Alwyn’s eldest son and heir.
Since her arrival at Burnbryde, Tara Iverach has been confined to a tower to guard her virtue before she marries. But after a surprise embrace with a lean, bare-chested Highlander who claims to be the Alwyn’s oldest son, she can’t contain her excitement over her good fate. Unfortunately, he is the wrong eldest son, and she is set to marry his cruel and lecherous half brother, Hugh. Can Magnus conquer his rivals and claim his Kincaid destiny before the woman who’s captured his heart becomes his sworn enemy’s bride?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book picks up right where the first book in the series left off, right after Niall discovered that Elspeth’s friend Magnus is not really the Alwyn’s bastard but his lost brother, Faelan. After the “battle” that left both their parents dead, the three brothers were split up, with the hope that at least one could survive to carry on the Clan Kincaid. Magnus had no idea who he really was though and is now full of anger and hatred at the life that was taken from him. He continues on with his life as normal in the the Alwyn clan, looking for a way to extract his revenge. The Alwyn has aligned himself with the Earl of Buchan, a son of the king. Buchan’s ward, Tara Iverach, has been living in a priory for the last five years but now is betrothed to the Alwyn’s son, Hugh. Hugh is quite the despicable human being though and Tara is so desperate to escape her fate that she asks for Magnus’ help. But with a battle with Buchan and the Alwyn versus the Kincaid quickly approaching, can Magnus extract his revenge and also keep Tara safe?
Overall I really liked this book. I was so psyched at the end of the first book when we found out that Magnus is in fact Niall’s brother, it was a great plot twist. I’m dying to find out if the third brother is still alive and where he’s been all these years. And I’m glad some justice was finally served – the Alwyn and Buchan are total asshats and I loved the sense of justice that’s instilled at the end of the book. And I just loved Tara’s character, she was so strong and brave. There are a few deaths in the book and some of the mentality of the characters can be a bit brutal, but that is fairly expected of a book about the Highlands. There was one question that kind of bugged me after the book ended that I didn’t feel was really resolved: Why would Tara’s parents have left the Buchan named as ward for her and her sister when he was so obviously a selfish asshat? Other than that, this was a great book and a great continuation of the series/story line. I can’t wait for book #3 so I can find out about the youngest son. I would recommend this one as well as The Beast of Clan Kincaid.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, I was hooked after the first book in the series, I can’t wait to find out what happened to the third brother! Good story line for this one too, little dark since a bunch of people die but still really good.

Link to author website

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2015 Book #85 – Melting Steele by Kimberly Amato

51KO56Q-KBL

Title: Melting Steele
Author: Kimberly Amato
Date finished: 8/12/15
Genre: Fiction, mystery/suspense
Publisher: Little Crown Productions
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Pages in book: 175
Stand alone or series: #2 in Jasmine Steele series
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

We live in a digital age where everything you do, say and are, appears online. Nothing is ever really gone when you upload those photos, leave a bullying comment or surf mature websites. Detective Jasmine Steele is faced with a series of murders all tied to technology and the ever expanding Dark Web. Out of her element she needs to trust others in order to fully understand what she is faced with. In order to solve these cases, Steele has to put aside her obsession with those that killed her brother and tried to kill her. How can she do that when breadcrumbs all lead back to a powerful man who is connected to both prior cases? She has to find her focus before she loses herself to her own desire for revenge. Past obsessions can easily become crippling addictions.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it is #7 on list from my sign up post. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.This book continues the story of Detective Jasmine Steele, picking up about 14 months after where the last book left off. Jazz has been in physical therapy and recovery pretty much this whole time (she got pretty beat up in the end of the first book) and physically she’s finally starting to feel close to normal again. Unfortunately she can’t seem to let get of the case that got away from her. She almost died at the end of the first book, was so close in fact that she had a conversation with her grandmother who told her to just let this whole thing go. But she becomes a woman obsessed with getting justice for her brother and sister-in-law. She begins to “fall down the rabbit hole” as she calls it. And really she’s just making it more difficult for herself; she so much wanted to get Frankie back in the first book and now she’s risking her relationship with her (again) by pushing her away and keeping her out. It’s so frustrating to see how much Frankie just wants to help or at least find Jazz help, but Jazz doesn’t want to talk to anyone. And Jazz really needs to talk to someone; she’s having very intense, awful nightmares where she can feel everything including being physically assaulted. She really needs to talk to a therapist about what the dreams mean and how to move past them and how to deal with the fact that she killed someone.
Anyways so in this book Jazz and her partner (Will) will have to solve a triple homicide case. It ends up being a much bigger case than just that and ends up involving a lot of different technology, including a program called the Dark Web which allows users to access basically an online black market. Jazz is able to connect some of the goings-on to Irving Garrison, the ultimate villain from the first book who she’s been obsessed with the past 14 months. And while all this is happening, Jazz and Frankie are also trying to decide whether or not they should adopt another child plus Frankie’s trying to deal with Jazz pushing her away again.
Overall I liked this book, it was a little less gory than the first book, which I appreciated, but I also thought there was a little less suspense and action in the plotline than the first book. I felt more like this book was an important piece of the story but was acting as a middle part to the story where we are building up to a grand finale, which I’m assuming is coming in the third book. I did find some of the transitions into new days or new scenes to be a bit short or choppy and sometimes I had trouble following the flow of information. Also some pieces of Jazz’s inner monologue seem almost forced or awkward. Other than that this was a good continuation of the series I think and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens in the third book in the series.

The bottom line: I thought this was a good mystery novel, it felt more like a filler book to keep the series going but those are important too. Good mystery, looking forward to Book #3.

Link to author website

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