Category Archives: Serial

AN UNEXPECTED AFFAIR

A romance novelist heads to a holiday cottage hoping to break through writer’s block and finds herself drawn to the retreat’s enigmatic owner.

An Unexpected Affair (Scottish Werebear, #1)

An Unexpected Affair

Clarice Adler is under a deadline to turn in her next novel and she’s no where near finished. So her attraction to Derek McMillan is unexpected and unwelcome, especially since she believes he’s married. For his part, Derek is not at all interested in starting anything up with Clarice. He’s a werebear, and everyone knows (according to him) that bears are loners. It doesn’t help that labors under serious baggage stemming from his parents’ fatal car accident. Derek is sure there’s more to the event than officials will admit. Resolving this plot line links all of the subsequent books, though the romances in each novella are self-contained.

The setting in this book is done so well that you can SEE the farm, cottages, and surrounding open spaces. There’s also a nice, slow build to the relationship. This easy pacing is refreshing and it’s also not easy to pull off in such a short book.

As soon as I finished this, I hurried to download the next two. The accident plot takes some interesting turns over the course of the series, but I think this first one is the best by far in terms of character development and emotion.

Review: FALLING IN (Vol. 4)

A short story focused on the development of secondary characters Saint and Jeanette in Riley’s Taking the Fall series.

Falling In: Vol 4

Falling In: Vol 4

Saint and Jeanette added a lot to the first three volumes of the Taking the Fall series, so I was glad to hear the author had penned an installment that delved into their relationship. We get a new perspective on both characters. Saint is still lovable, but his submissive behavior in this installment made me a little queasy at times. I know he was just giving Jeanette the control she craved after escaping her ex, but even there the logic was wobbly. We learn that most of the horrible things her ex did was to OTHER women before and after Jeanette. He was controlling, sure, but there was only one real episode of violence and it led to Jeanette running away.

Some of the problems with the plot may have to do with so much story being squished into so few pages. It felt rushed. It didn’t help that the epilogue (as unnecessary here as it was in the earlier parts) steals space from the main narrative.

This fourth volume didn’t deliver what I was hoping for based on the first three.

Review: TAKING THE FALL (vols. 1-3)

A woman on the run from her criminal father is tracked down by her former bodyguard, the man who stole and then broke her heart.

Taking the Fall: Vol 1 (Taking the Fall)

Taking the Fall: Vol 1

Vol. 1 of this serial starts with a bang. The heroine, who’s still a teen, visits prison to see the man she loves…who is four years into an eight-year sentence for a crime we don’t yet know the details of. Carter tells her to go away and never come back. She’s devastated and vows that she’s finished with him, her family, and the life she’s been living.

Fast-forward four years. Layla has a new life with only one friend, a sex-pot named Jeanette who is in many ways as secretive as Layla. She’s just started casually dating a nice but bland guy and is yearning for excitement. She gets this in spades when she discovers that Carter has found her and has had a friend watching her for some time.

This first installment is mostly about Carter and Layla finding each other again and working out some of the misunderstandings left over from when he killed someone to save her life. The plot isn’t perfectly logical. The time line is complicated and you have to wonder why Layla waited as long as she did to run away from her family–especially after her father arranged for her to nearly be beaten to death.

Nevertheless, Carter and Layla are both interesting characters. He’s a little too alpha for me. Protective and vengeful is okay, but he’s too controlling. Layla is put off by it at first. But in the end she accepts that he’s worried for her safety since there’s a good chance her father is close to finding her. Turns out Carter’s fear is justified.

Jeanette and Saint (Carter’s friend) add a humorous touch to story.

I dislike serials as rule. But this one is well-written and offers a nice mix of romance and suspense. There’s a cliffhanger, but it isn’t gratuitous or melodramatic. The author sets it up well, so that it seems like a natural place to break off.

Taking the Fall: Vol 2 (Taking the Fall)

Taking the Fall: Vol 2

Carter struggles to protect Layla as her psycho father closes in.

Carter has lots of damage control to do to salvage his relationship with Layla. At the same time it’s a game of cat and mouse as Carter, with the help of his friend Saint, tries to settle his score with Layla’s father and at the same time keep her safe. The stakes are higher now for the couple (can’t elaborate without spoiling). But their enemy has plans of his own and he needs Layla to realize them.

We meet Layla’s nightmare parents. I think Riley goes a little over the top here. What is it in romantic suspense these days that parents can’t just be bad, but instead must be truly twisted? It’s getting a little old for those of us who real lots of books in this genre. She should’ve dialed this down a bit. Maybe at least made the mother less vicious.

Despite the melodramatic characterizations, the writing is good and there’s plenty of suspense. The climax is a whopper. I had no idea how Layla and Jeanette were going to get out of it. But they do (or it seems that way at the point the story pauses) and through their own efforts, too. I liked that. It’s nice to see female characters who can at least try to save themselves.

I’m still eager to continue with the story.

Taking the Fall: Vol 3 (Taking the Fall)

Taking the Fall: Vol 3

Carter seeks to once and for all end the threat posed by Layla’s father, who destroyed his family and stole eight years of his life.

Things start off in a bad way. Layla and Jeanette are fighting for their lives. Things could go either way for them, and it isn’t clear that Carter and Saint will arrive in time.

Even when the immediate danger is past, Carter can’t let down his guard. He’s right to be worried. Betrayal strikes in an unexpected form…though I have to say that I had my doubts about this particular character from the start. Nothing definite, no huge hints, but just an inkling that there was more going on under this person’s interest in Layla’s well-being.

The main characters are still great. Carter is as intense as ever, but Layla is learning how to live with his overbearing nature. She has her ways of getting around his general inflexibility. I like Saint and Jeanette more and more with each volume and am glad to hear that there will be a fourth installment that focuses on them.

I do think the pacing is off as this volume heads toward its conclusion. The traitor is unveiled and overcome too easily. The tension picks up again during the final showdown with Layla’s father. But then there’s a completely overblown epilogue that travels decades into the future. Not only is it fairly banal after what we’ve endured with these characters, it kind of spoils the anticipation for the Saint/Jeanette story.

Overall, though, it’s a satisfying end to the serial. And readers can’t complain that anything was left unresolved or that they wish they new what happened in the future. All threads are tied.

Review: RESCUED BY THE ALPHA: Part 1

A woman is attacked in the middle of nowhere by her date and saved by a werewolf setting off a war between shifters and local fanatics.

Rescued by the Alpha: Part 1 (Silver Creek Pack)

Rescued by the Alpha: Part 1

I normally don’t like serials. I don’t like having to pay over and over to get to the end of a story. Also, the cliffhanger endings can feel manipulative rather than a natural stopping point in the action. RESCUED BY THE ALPHA: Part 1 is actually pretty good, and the ending is well thought out. Too bad there are other issues that undermined my enjoyment of the book.

Ryker the Werewolf Alpha is a mysterious character. His pack is full of interesting characters with lots of history and baggage. There’s good back story, especially about Ryker’s own tragic past.

The heroine isn’t quite as interesting. There’s nothing specifically wrong with her, even if she’s a little too quick to fall in lust with Ryker. She just doesn’t shine the way he does. This disparity is apparent in the love scenes, which are bland and disappointing. There’s just no spark when Ryker and Diana get together.

Brywood does a much better job with her action and suspense sequences. She creates tension right away with Zane’s attack on Diana and Ryker’s reluctant intervention. Zane is a chilling creation. After that initial encounter, we shrug him off as just another creep who has issues with women. It isn’t until he attacks the werewolves with such devastating results that we see what a dangerous foe he is.

In closing, I found part one of RESCUED BY THE ALPHA to be a mixed bag. There’s plenty of conflict and rising tension, but it just doesn’t make up for the flat interactions between the romantic leads. That’s why, though I gave this four stars, I’m in no hurry to read the next installment.