Review: Bound By Law (Men of Honor, Book 2) by S. E. Jakes

by Sharon S., guest reviewer

Do you like m/m? Have you ever thought, “Hey, I’ve never tried m/m, but Blaylock and Quihnn from the series Black Dagger Brotherhood is making me think, I might?” Then you need to RUN (don’t walk) to S. E. Jakes’ Men Of Honor series. I reviewed the first book in the series, Bound by Honor a few months ago, and fell in love with Jakes’ writing and her characters. We are talking tortured alpha males that are emotionally broken and have buried things so deep, they believe they can never love or be loved again; till they meet that one person who makes them face their fears of vulnerability.

I. Love. These. Books.

You can’t imagine my excitement when I received the ARC for her second book Bound by Law. The title alone sent shivers up my spine ;) because I know whose story this is based on the first book.

Law fell in love with Styx 15 years ago. He knew Styx had a past and was working for the C.I.A. He was even willing to put up with Styx’s mysteriously popping in and out of his life, but 10 years ago Styx walked out and never came back. Law dealt with this by having sex with anyone, but no one more than once. He couldn’t give his heart to anyone else, Styx still had it. Then one night he met Paulo. He is a young, beautiful, tattooed man that made Law feel like he might be able to finally move on.

Styx doesn’t remember anything before he turned 16. He found love and friendship with Law and Damon (his story is Bound by Honor). Then his job and past caught up with him and he had to leave everyone to keep them safe, but he never forgot or quit loving Law. His past still manages to threaten Law’s life and now he has come back to protect and reclaim him, but it isn’t so easy. Law is torn between both men and it becomes a swoon fest for me <G>.

I don’t like erotica and the idea of a threesome has never been appealing. I would have preferred for Law to make a choice between the men, but I find myself more than willing to make an exception for these books. The characters are just that good. Jakes can write angst like nobody’s business, and watching these alphas’ hearts bleed, makes me melt into a puddle.

This book introduces us to a new character, Tomcat. He is Styx’s partner at the C.I.A, and I have a feeling his story will be next.

Where the hell have you been? Was written all over his face, and the man refused to let LC in at first. But LC persisted and Paulo relented, and finally LC barreled in, grabbing and kissing the man until he stopped resisting and twined his hands in LC’s hair and moaned into his mouth.

(oh, yeah!)

He looked back at Paulo one last time, grimaced, like it was painful to leave, and Paulo wanted to believe it was.

“Go now, LC.”

“‘Law,” he said firmly. “I want you to call me Law.”

Paulo bit back a smart-ass remark and told him quietly, “Okay, Law, go.”

“I like the way you say it,” Law said, just as quietly, and then he left to go to Styx.

Rating: ★★★★½ Spanking Stars! (nope, not going to explain this one <G>)

Buy: Bound by Law, Bound by Law (UK)

Darth Vader?

by Mary Margret Daughtridge, guest blogger and author of SEALed Forever

I’m a true pantser. I don’t think of a plot and then design a character to fit it.  A character in a certain quandary just appears. The first thing I knew about Garth was that his men called him Darth Vader behind his back.  It bothered him. Darth Vader might be a great warrior, but he was not a good man.

Garth accepts the dark side of what SEALs are sometimes called upon to do. SEALs have a saying: never fight fair. He wonders if his men believe he has like, Darth Vader, gone over to the Dark Side. And when he thinks of some of the things he’s done, he wonders too.

Since I wrote my first romance, I’ve thought a lot about what makes a man an alpha male, and how being in the military changes a man. For SEALed Forever, I did a lot of thinking about what makes a military man a good man.

I didn’t grow up in a military family but I grew up in an era when the draft was in force, and a stint in the military was a fact of life.  All three of my brothers served. Two first cousins were career military.

None of these men are models for my heroes, per se, but they are all good men.  I often ask myself, “What would this one or that one think is important in my hero’s situation?”

Because I have known them all before, during, and after, I have a sense of what being a military man for a few years or a lifetime did for them.

Okay, this is obvious, but it needs to be said. Military men are fit, and no doubt about it, a look of health and vigor makes any man sexier. But military men didn’t get that way in an air conditioned gym. Their physical training happens in the rain, the mud, the heat, and takes them far past exhaustion. They are physically ready to meet danger.

Such fitness in itself imparts a new level of confidence.  And nothing is more sexy than that.  But there’s more to it. Having done things no one is his right mind expects to receive pleasure from, they have found a deeper motivation—one that depends on sheer strength of will.  And the fact that physical feats that would strain a man in average shape are to them just not that hard, gives them a subtly different but pervasive outlook on everything.

They don’t whine, they don’t complain, and they don’t expect accolades. One is often struck by their modest, no big deal response to praise and gratitude. To them, it really is no big deal, and they aren’t doing anything special.

Take everything about a military man, multiply it by a thousand, and you have a SEAL.

The SEALs have lots of sayings, but one of their favorites is, “You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it.” Another is “If it don’t suck, we don’t do it.”

In an early scene in SEALed Forever, Garth is confronted with a baby whose diaper is way past nasty. An unmarried man encountering a dirty diaper is a stock comedy scene with lots of wincing, cringing, his face twisted with repulsion.

Garth just deals with it.

I love that.

Another thing I love about military men is that they have been taught to work to a standard. “Anything goes” is not a military expression. Bouncing a quarter off a bunk, or measuring the distance between hangers, seems petty, and maybe it is, but the concept of not just doing something but doing it to a standard, even in personal areas of one’s life, is something successful people must learn.

Garth recognizes that his first diapering effort is less than stellar. He insists on doing it again, and this time, getting it right.

A quality present in any good man, but trained for in the military is protectiveness and caretaking. A leader looks after his men. As I read SEAL memoirs, particularly of officers, who are in the same place as their men, experiencing the same conditions, I often see “My men were cold” not I was cold. “My men needed hot food and a shower,” not I wanted hot food and a shower. Always being aware of the needs of those who depend on them promotes a largeness of vision and a degree of altruism.

Garth moves further down the slope to the Dark Side when he takes a temporary assignment to a black ops outfit. Garth has always looked after his men, but his protectiveness comes into full conflict with his mission directives when he finds the abandoned baby aboard a spy plane.

Now I want to talk about a SEAL attribute which most military men don’t share. SEALs are rule-breakers. To operate far outside the boundaries, they have to be able to decide for themselves when and how to pursue a mission and when to call it off without waiting for orders.

They are independent thinkers and you never know what they will do next. Also, they don’t respect authority. They respect competence. If they think an order is wrong, they will risk subordination. In the regular navy, SEALs are respected for the superior warriors they are, but most non-SEALs find them a pain in the ass.

I gotta admit always pushing the boundaries is what I like best about them. Maybe because I’m a rule breaker too. But even more, if the situation calls for it, my SEALs do and say the most outrageous things.

I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t want to give away too much. In Garth’s case, we have hidden baby, hidden cameras, the possibility of a ghost, and now he running a completely off the books operation.

SEALed FOREVER BY MARY MARGRET DAUGHTRIDGE

He’s got a living, breathing dilemma…

In the midst of running an undercover CIA mission, Navy SEAL Lt. Garth Vale finds an abandoned baby, and his superiors sure don’t want to know about it. The only person who can help him is the beautiful new doctor in town, but she’s got another surprise for him…

She’s got a solution…at a price…

Dr. Bronwyn Whitescarver has left the frantic pace of big city ER medicine for a small town medical practice. Her bags aren’t even unpacked yet when gorgeous, intense Garth Vale shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night with a sick baby…

But his story somehow doesn’t add up, and Bronwyn isn’t quite sure who she’s saving—the baby, or the man…

Buy: SEALed Forever

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Margret Daughtridge has been a grade school teacher, speech therapist, family educator, biofeedback therapist, and Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. She is a member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Romancing the Military Soul, and is a sought-after judge in writing contests. She resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information, please visit www.marymargretdaughtridge.com and www.sourcebookscasablanca.com.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of SEALed Forever. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment. 1 entry per relevant comment; multiple entries allowed. Last Day to Enter: June 3, 2011.

Review: The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson

by Marcia, guest reviewer

Eve Carpenter is not having a good day.  In fact her whole life is depressing.  After being cheated by her mother and her accountant, she now finds herself penniless and working as an office temp.  Today she is participating in a lame reality type TV program with other ‘has been’ celebrities by being strapped into a paraglider.  After a few exhilarating moments in flight, she falls through ‘a whole in the world’ into a parallel universe; a world where England is an undeveloped, poverty stricken, civil-war torn country, an failed state.  An England where most people have never heard of computers, much less know what they look like.

As Eve paraglides into this very confusing world she runs smack dab into London Bridge and is rescued by Major Will Harker and his ever-loyal second in command, Charlie.  Eve is immediately taken for a spy and is eventually taken to St. James Palace, which is no longer a palace, but a prison that is not really a prison.  Her efforts to explain where she comes from and how she came to be in this alternate England does nothing to eliminate suspicions of her as a spy; but when she mentions, telephones, TVs, and computers, the Military brass immediately recognize that she could be useful to them.  They have heard that the rebel Coalitionists (those that wish to be annexed by the French Empire) have a computer and the Military needs to capture it.  Eve must accompany Major Harker and his company into the war torn countryside to help find this devise, bring it back to London and show someone how to use it.

Eve and Major Harker argue the entire way about everything.  They argue about the need for military discipline vs. the necessity of thinking for one-self, the words to music, and the reasons why England is in such a mess while the rest of the world has prospered and modernized.  During these discussions, Eve realizes that the reason the England in her world is successful is because it has never occurred to its people that they could fail.  This realization, along with the unflinching loyalty and bravery she sees demonstrated by Company C, has an ameliorating effect on Eve, enabling her to find her way in both worlds.

The Untied Kingdom is not your average romance novel.  Romantic scenes do not appear until the second half of the book and there are many more scenes of graphic brutality and violence.  It is not a particularly comfortable read, but it is a well-crafted, tightly and cleverly constructed story.  Although it is not written in first person, Johnson only allows the reader to really see events through Eve’s perspective.  In the beginning of the book, Eve is angry, bitter and not a little whiney, as a result, her view of the world is confusing and chaotic.  As her perspective changes, so does her view of herself and the world that she inhabits makes much more sense.   In the end, Johnson does not take an easy way out of her characters’ dilemma, but still brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Untied Kingdom

Review: Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Call Me Mrs. Miracle is a light-hearted Christmas romance that features a young boy, his aunt, the son and heir to a department franchise, and an angel.

Emily Merkle is the angel in this story. A mix-up in human resources spells her name Mrs. Miracle on her name tag. At first glance, Jake Finley, thinks she’s too old to work the crazy atmosphere of the toy department during the holiday season, but she soon proves him wrong and becomes the top sales associate with her grandmotherly ways.

She also has a habit of knowing what people are thinking about or are worried over. Some of the things she says are uncanny too. But she seems a good sort and is a huge help in large ways and small ways. Some might even call her the best matchmaker in New York City. You should read all her snappy little advice that headlines each chapter. It’s too cute.

Our hero, Jake, is much like his father. The two find Christmas to be a hard time of year as memories of a tragedy that took place one Christmas Eve are never too far behind. They have a yearly tradition of getting out of the snowy white wonderland of New York and heading down to the Caribbean where sunshine and sandy beaches deduce the yuletide presence that’s felt everywhere. Things seem gloomier than ever to Jake when a toy he predicts to be the season’s hit doesn’t seem to leave the shelves. A run to the local Starbucks and suddenly a bleak Christmas begins to look a little shinier.

Holly Larson was never more embarrassed than when she found herself unable to pay for her latte, but when a handsome man picks up her tab she can’t help but smile. Four run-ins over the course of twenty-four hours can’t be a coincidence. Can Holly take a risk on romance this year while struggling to give her nephew, Gabe, a Christmas to remember?

Start your holiday reading off on the right foot and keep an eye out for later this month when Mrs. Miracle airs on the Hallmark Channel.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Call Me Mrs. Miracle

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Review: The Moon That Night by Helen Brenna

Q: When can a good guy commit a crime and still be a good guy?
A: When his family is threatened.

Which is just what happens to soldier James Riley while on a routine rotation out of Afghanistan.

David March, a man who blames Riley for his brother’s death, kidnapped Riley’s sister-in-law and his young daughter Ally and was using them as leverage to get Riley on board with his elaborate plans of art theft.

When stealing the first of ten Greek statues, Kate Dillon is kidnapped as well. It makes her spitting mad and clouds her judgment, but not the irrational emotions of her heart.

Riley’s fouled up rescue plan gets Kate, Riley, and Ally away from the compound and on the road to freedom. But with Jenny, his sister-in-law still trapped, the trio have no choice but to pursue the 5 statues on their list and steal them for March.

I worried throughout the book that Jenny was part of the bad guy team because it was so convenient for her to get recaptured. She also wasn’t putting up much fight when held captive before and wasn’t helpful in Kate’s own rescue attempt. She was just too calm for me, standing around agreeably and I don’t know. It was weird and like I said I worried about it a lot.

There’s a bit of a May/December theme to the romance. I couldn’t quite catch the actually age difference. I think it’s somewhere along ten years, maybe more since Riley is a widower and has Ally.

If you’re ready for a high stakes adventure that crisscrosses the globe, you should pick up Helen Brenna’s The Moon That Night.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Moon That Night (Harlequin Superromance)

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