Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne

Title: Wake to Darkness
Author: Maggie Shayne

Series: #2 in the Brown/de Luca series
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Mira  (November 23, 2013)

Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Stranded with a murderer...

Rachel de Luca's uncanny sense of perception is the key to her success as a self-help celebrity. Even before she regained her sight, she had a gift for seeing people's most carefully hidden secrets. But the secret she shares with Detective Mason Brown is one she has promised to keep. As for Mason, he sees Rachel more clearly than she'd like to admit...

After a single night of adrenaline-fueled passion, they have agreed to keep their distance—until a string of murders brings them together again. Mason thinks that he can protect everyone he loves, including Rachel, by taking them to a winter hideaway, but danger follows them up the mountain.

As guests disappear from the snowbound resort, the race to find the murderer intensifies. Rachel knows she's a target. Will acknowledging her feelings for Mason destroy her...or save them both and stop a killer?

My Thoughts: Another great addition to the Brown/de Luca series.

The Good: Once again poor newly sighted Rachel is the target for a serial killer. Although this could have come across as repetitive as we just went through a fairly similar plot in the first book, Shayne did a good job of making this story feel different and fresh. The romance between Mason and Rachel progressed nicely and at the end of the story I was happy with their thoughts on themselves as a couple. Now I'm anxious to see what happens next with all the characters not only just Rachel and Mason but with Jeremy and Joshua too. Oh and how much do I adore Myrtle? By the way, for those not familiar with Maggie Shayne's Amazon Bio, her picture is Myrt. Sure that pup's name might be different in real life and she may not be blind like Myrtle but the pic is adorable all the same. Here's the link in case your wanting to check it out Myrt.

In addition to the character development the plot was interesting and full of suspense. I never realized I liked the whole "stranded with a serial killer during a storm of epic proportions" thing because I didn't care for it in other books but I did enjoy it here. It added an additional layer of suspense that the first book didn't have. Just another way Shayne made this book feel fresh and separate from the first book in the series.

The Bad: OK Rachel, WTH? How'd you go from a smart, give it to you straight, no nonsense, intelligent woman to one TSTL (too stupid to live)? She not only exhibited this once but twice! Two times she took Myrtle out for a potty break and two times she ended up near or in the dark woods surrounding the cabin with no "oops I ran into the killer" contingency plan. This was after she received an obvious threat that she was next on the killer's list. Rachel, you're killing me! Thank goodness Mason had her back and she didn't run into the killer during her obvious lapse in good judgment. If she had I totally would have lowered my rating because I cannot abide my heroines to be TSTL. True story. Oh and Amy was missing from this book. She was given a couple weeks off it seems and after her terrifying encounter in Dream of Danger (a kindle freebie only to be read after Sleep With the Lights On). I would have liked to see her and how she was fairing a month after her ordeal.

In a Nutshell: Overall, I totally enjoyed this book even more than the first. Despite Rachel's stupid moments, despite the lack of Amy, and despite a potentially similar plot issue this was a really good book. I'm very much looking forward to book 3 in this series!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dream of Danger by Maggie Shayne

Title: Dream of Danger
Author: Maggie Shayne
Series: #1.5 in the Brown/de Luca series
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Mira (September 1, 2013)
Source: Purchased/Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: She didn't want to need him.

Murder brought self-help guru Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown together. Their shared secrets drove them apart. But now they're together again in this riveting novella that begins where New York Times bestselling author Maggie Shayne's Sleep with the Lights On ended.

She may have been blind for twenty years, but Rachel's always had an uncanny gift for seeing through people—and she distrusts her assistant's new boyfriend at first sight. Amy isn't interested in Rachel's misgivings, though. She's too eager to celebrate Thanksgiving by introducing her family to the new man in her life.

Then Amy doesn't show up for the holiday….

Desperate to find her missing friend, Rachel has no choice but to turn to Mason. Their investigation into Amy's disappearance takes them ever deeper into danger—and reignites the attraction that they've both sworn to resist. Now it's a race against time as these reluctant partners fight to stave off passion and save a life.

My Thoughts: Marketed as a free novella, this is, at best, a short story with very little closure but still a nice glimpse into the progression of the Brown/de Luca romance.

The Good: The suspense was actually pretty good. I was honestly scared for Amy and was afraid she was certainly going to meet her end. Perhaps it was because I'm a fan of The Walking Dead where they tend to kill off their regular cast with, well, regularity but I was really thinking they'd find Amy all butchered by some whackadoo serial killing team. Shayne did a great job with the nail biting aspect of this story. Also, I liked seeing Mason and Rachel back and see their potential relationship grow closer to an actual relationship.

The Bad: The overall shortness of the story left some dangly bits that I felt should have had some closure. At 67 pages, this was almost half the length I'd expect from an actual novella. Maybe more words could have had this feeling more complete than it ultimately was. As a fan of the characters, I was already fully invested in them after reading Sleep With the Lights On but someone who hasn't read that book and only read this one may find the character development virtually non-existent and the plot wrapped up too quickly.

In a Nutshell: An OK addition to the Brown/de Luca series but only for those who have already read the first book. So, read the first book then pick this freebie up for an extra glimpse into Rachel and Mason's relationship.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sleep With the Lights On by Maggie Shayne

Title: Sleep With the Lights On
Author: Maggie Shayne

Series: #1 in the Brown/de Luca series
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Mira (October 1, 2013)

Source: NetGalley
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Through the Eyes of a Killer...
Rachel de Luca has found incredible success writing self-help books. But her own blindness and the fact that her troubled brother has gone missing have convinced her that positive thinking is nothing but bull.

Her cynicism wavers when a cornea transplant restores her sight. The new eyes seem to give her new life, until they prove too good to be true and she starts seeing terrifying visions of brutal murders - crimes she soon learns are all too real.

Detective Mason Brown's own brother recently died, leaving behind a horrific secret. In atonement, Mason donated his brother's organs, though he's kept the fact quiet. Now he wants to help Rachel find her brother, but when he discovers the shocking connection between her visions and his own brother, he suddenly has to do everything in his power to save her from a predator who is somehow still hunting from beyond the grave.

My Thoughts: Despite some rather unlikely elements within the book (unlikely even for a paranormal-ish book) this was a solid and entertaining thriller.

What I liked: The Characters. Sure that is pretty broad but I really did enjoy them all. I liked Rachel's snarkiness and the fact that she was a self help guru made it all even better. I appreciated Det. Brown's moral and ethical dilemma between his job and protecting his family. It made him real and very human. And let's not forget Myrtle. Rachel's rescue dog. Poor, blind, ugly Myrt. I loved her. She added a bit of lightheartedness to the book that really balanced it out.

I also enjoyed the creepy serial killer being tied to organ transplants. The way Shayne used this idea, which in itself is not a new concept, was a nice twist and added a touch of paranormal to the story. The added changing POVs was used well to keep the creepiness going. There is nothing like reading the inner thoughts of a murderer. Love it!

What I Didn't Like: The romance. It was very underdeveloped and as this was a romantic suspense novel I was expecting the romance to be in balance with the suspense. As a matter of fact the relationship between Rachel and Mason in it's entirety was a little off to me. I was able to just go with it because there are several more books in the series and a novella for their relationship to grow and I'm looking forward to their journey. However, Mason was pivotal in several parts of Rachel's new life. Her new sighted life and her new life without her brother, Tommy to be exact. The ease that Rachel accepted these things felt, well, off. I'm not sure I would have been able to start a relationship with a man who did the things Mason did. Mason is not a bad guy but you know the saying "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Quickly, just a couple more things that didn't work for me....The changing POVs. Granted, I used them as a plus which they were but in my eARC the changing POVs weren't clearly marked so it made me extremely confused when they abruptly changed. It took me a good paragraph to figure out whose thoughts I was reading throughout the book. Also the idea of the transplants, although good, seemed a little fictional. Well, duh, Christina. This is fiction after all! But seriously, a patient getting to see their donor's family was played out as being fairly easy in this book. Not so much in real life.

In a Nutshell: Even though there were some rather off putting things they really didn't diminish my enjoyment of this book. I've been in a horrible reading slump for 4 months and not only was I able to finish this book, I did it in a matter of a few days. Lately my reading has been so bad I've started dozens of book this year and have only finished 3. Yikes!