With the ridiculously fast approaching holidays, I’m finding myself increasingly less interested in venturing out of the house – especially when even getting a litre (quart for you Yanks) of milk involves an obscene amount of time spent circling in parking lots, eyes peeled for an open or soon to be vacated spot. I did do my time in retail hell – a few hours at the mall that was planned out like a Navy Seal mission (get in, achieve the objective and get out with as little bloodshed as possible). The last couple of weeks, I’ve had to the chance to spend some time on the couch with a big mug of cocoa and I’ve been digging out more books for my e-reader and *gasp* a few honest-to-god paperbacks that grabbed my attention.
Beyond Innocence by Carsen Taite
The newest from Taite, Beyond Innocence is a legal procedural. I’ve read most of Taite’s stuff and I have to say that she shines in this milieu and I do hope she sticks to this type of novel – not that Do Not Disturb was horrible, it didn’t hold my attention as much as her legal novels. When Serena Washington’s estranged brother writes to her from death row, she is compelled to do whatever she can to help save his life and contacts the Justice Clinic as a last ditch effort to help. There she meets Cory, a Dallas ADA who has been suspended for prosecutorial misconduct and is serving out her community service working for the “other side”. As you would expect, sparks and legal writs fly. What I liked about this book were the shades of grey (no, not the smutty Shades of Grey) – both in the relationship as well as the cases. As Cory keeps saying, whether about her own scandal or the cases she’s involved with, it’s complicated and sometimes the wrong thing is done for the right reasons – or what seems to be right at the time. The romance builds slowly – well, slowly for a lesfic – with lots of smoldering looks and with just enough angst to keep the two women from jumping right into bed. If you like legal dramas – pick this one up. If you don’t – read it anyways. I enjoyed it. Recommended.
Talk of the Town by Saxon Bennett
Nobody does quirky like Saxon Bennett. Somehow she has terribly implausible characters doing ridiculous things and I still find myself drawn into their lives and cheering them on. We’re introduced to Mallory Simpson in her therapist office, where she spends the session in an upside down lotus position, wearing pajamas and a tie. Like I said, quirky. The book follows Mallory, her best friend and unrequited love Gigi, and the various other friends as the navigate falling in and out of love. Bennett writes great characters who are funny and engaging and you can’t help but like them. She balances humourous dialogue and situations with and some interesting insights about relationships quite well. This is one of Bennett’s earlier books that I picked up through a sale at Bella and I’m glad that I did. When reading this one, I could see some similarities with the more polished Family Affair (freaking hilarious – get it) – but that didn’t detract from the book. If you’re looking for a funny, fast paced story that is engaging and sweet – pick this one up. Recommended.
Month of Sundays by Yolanda Wallace
Based on the promo blurb, I’d been looking forward to this book for the past few months. The premise just screams romance. Throw in a chef as one of the main characters and I was completely smitten with the storyline. Rachel Bauer, a reserved accountant who is recovering from a nasty break up, is set up on a blind date with Griffin Sutton, a gorgeous celebrity chef who is more than a bit of a player. After Rachel rejects her initial overtures, Griffin convinces her to allow her to try and woo her with a series of culinary trips around the world over a month of Sundays. Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed with the book overall. I still like the premise, but the execution just didn’t work for me. I had a hard time getting my head around what attracted the characters to one another in the first place and I just didn’t “feel” the romance even though it develops over a long (in lesbian terms) period. Also, the author has a habit of using pop culture references then explaining them in detail – which is a pet peeve of mine. Not necessarily a bad book – but not one that I enjoyed.
The Dragon Tree Legacy by Ali Vali
Although Major Wiley Grimallion is retired, she still keeps her black ops/sniper skills sharp taking on select “jobs” that require a more direct brand of justice. Settling into New Orleans, she receives a message from a long lost love, Aubrey Tarver, and is drawn into a violent confrontation with some rather nasty drug dealers. While Wiley and Aubrey deal with their unexpected reunion and the repercussions of Wiley leaving many years ago, there are a number of dark plots weaving themselves into a tight net around them. Nunzio, from the Devil series, is back, trying to ingratiate himself back into the drug trade in New Orleans, specifically with a mysterious and violent drug lord who has some rather dastardly dealings with Aubrey’s current lover. A rogue CIA agent is trying to strong arm Wiley into exterminating another drug lord/CIA asset in Mexico, leveraging the local FBI (who were never very bright in the Devil books). About halfway through I thought that this is going to be a series, but she managed to wrap everything up by the end.
There’s a good bit of action and double-crosses in this one – with a darker tone as it deals with the drug underworld and throws in some black ops just to raise the danger stakes. At times I thought there was a bit too much going on with all the subplots and some timeline inconsistencies which distracted from the cohesiveness of the overall story. There’s also a whole lot of angst– Wiley and Aubrey never stopped loving one another but, the amount of shit that happened and is happening is going to be hard to overcome. Wiley is a bit less of a rascal than Cain Casey, and at times just a bit too noble for her own good, and Aubrey makes me want to give her a shake and ask “Really? You thought that was a good idea? Really?”
In summary, Dragon Tree Legacy is a good dark intrigue book, full of action and suspense. If you like the Devil series, this will probably be one that you enjoy, but I don’t think it quite hit the same mark as the first few in the Casey series.
And Playing the Role of Herself by K E Lane
This was originally a fanfic story and I loved it so much I bought the published version a couple of years ago at the GCLS. As an actress on an ensemble police drama, Caidence Harris is nursing a bit of a crush on Robyn Ward, the famous and successful lead on a “sister show”. Piqued by online fanfic about the shows, the producers decide to write in a lesbian kiss between Caid and Robyn’s characters and the smoldering unspoken attraction ratchets up. There’s a wonderful chemistry between Caid and Robyn and as their relationship develops you can’t help but develop a bit of girl crush on both of them. My one qualm is that Caid seems to get herself into an inordinate amount of trouble – especially whenever things heat up with Robyn. But what romance doesn’t have a few bumps in the road. Well-paced, well-written, humour, action, romance and a bit of angst – this book has it all. Definitely recommended.