Review: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster + Giveaway

dash of peril by lori fosterFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, large print, audiobook
Genre: romantic suspense
Series: Love Undercover #4
Length: 480 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: March 25, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret “Margo” Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is 6’4″ of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own.

Beneath Margo’s tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he’ll have to prove he’s all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter.

My Review:

Lori Foster’s Love Undercover series comes to a smoking hot conclusion in Dash of Peril. If you enjoy your romantic suspense long on the romance and short on the suspense, this story is a winner.

And while it’s absolutely not necessary to have read the whole series to get totally into Dash of Peril, there is lots of input from characters previously introduced in the series that are much sweeter if you know all the players.

getting rowdy by lori fosterAlthough the romance starts almost as soon as the book does, this is not an insta-love story. Margo and Dash have been dancing around their attraction for each other since the second book in the series, Getting Rowdy (reviewed here). It’s just taken several months (and one more book) for things to reach a point where Margo is pretty much forced to acknowledge that whether or not she’s ever been taught that it is okay to need someone, she definitely needs Dash Riske, and for more than just his body in her bed.

This is where the suspense takes a second place to the romance. One of the parts of the overall story is that there used to be a LOT of corruption within the police department, a department where Margo Peterson is a detective and a lieutenant. Dash’ brother Logan is one of her trusted officers (his story was told in the excellent series starter, Run the Risk). Her other trusted officer, and Logan’s detective partner, is Reese Bareden, the human hero of Bare it All. (The canine hero is pretty awesome too!)

Bare It All by Lori FosterBut Margo’s father is the retired chief of police, and we discover that there is a cloud around his retirement. (Also that Margo’s family redefines dysfunctional).

There’s a case that fuels the suspense part of the story. Someone is kidnapping and drugging young women, and raping them while filming the entire disgusting episode for amateur porn. Two women are dead, and two other women will need years to get their lives back. Margo has been hunting for the perps.

Suddenly they are hunting her. There’s a contract on her life, and the way she discovers that there is a price on her head is when someone t-bones her car, on purpose in a smash and run. Only Dash’ presence on the scene saves her from being finished off right then.

Now that Margo is wounded (a concussion, her elbow is dislocated, and seriously ouch!) she needs help. And she needs an able-bodied person to stick around until she’s healed enough to get back to work and use her gun hand.

Dash has been trying to find a way into Margo’s life since she first let him be her unofficial partner in an undercover sting on this same set of villains.

Dash takes the opportunity to help Margo figure out that she can still be the alpha cop at work while letting herself be something else on her off-duty time. And that it’s important to have some off-duty time!

But while they are redefining their surprisingly hot and inventive relationship, someone much closer to home is bringing the bad guys to Margo’s door.

Escape Rating A-: I enjoyed Dash of Peril the most of the entire series, and I liked all of them! But this one I just couldn’t put down at all. As absolutely hot and sexy as Dash seemed to be, what really made the story for me was Margo. I could identify with the woman who had to be in such control at work, and with good reason, that she had a hard time letting go in any way when she wasn’t on the job. So she let her work consume her life and her identity.

Once she lets herself admit that she has feelings for Dash, he is able to get into her life, and help her to achieve, let’s call it a better work/life balance, where before she didn’t have any balance at all.

Run the Risk by Lori FosterThe way in which her family dynamics are totally screwed up gave me even more sympathy for her. Lots of people wouldn’t have done half as well. But those same family dynamics help obscure the identity of one of the villains, and in a way that keeps the readers guessing until the very end.

Dash of Peril also wraps up the long-simmering tension in the police department, and in a way that provides resolution for the characters and the reader.

As an added bonus, a couple of the great guys from Foster’s SBC series make a cameo appearance, as a way of kicking off (or punching out) the beginning of her next series, starting with Cannon, Rowdy’s friend and a very appealing side-character in this series. I can hardly wait!

~~~~~~GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Lori is giving away a print copy of Dash of Peril to one lucky commenter below (US/CAN only).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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Guest Post by Author Marcella Burnard + Giveaway

nightmare ink by marcella burnardMy special guest today is Marcella Burnard, the author of Nightmare Ink. I participated in a massive group review of Nightmare Ink over at The Book Pushers a couple of weeks ago. I loved the animal heroes in Nightmare Ink, especially the warrior-princess Ikylla, so I’m very glad to find out that she’s modeled after a real queen among cats!

Meet the Critters
by Marcella Burnard

Have you ever heard the advice to writers to never put anyone they know into a book? At least, not so they could be recognized? The point is to not get sued. I broke the rule. But at least if I’m sued, I’ll be able to pay my punishment out in kibble.

RileyIn NIGHTMARE INK, the heroine, Isa, has a dog and a cat. The dog, Augustus is a forty pound red heeler. He’s unique in that he’s a tripod – he’s lost one of his back legs. You never find out in the book that Gus was a rescue dog who’d had his leg badly broken and then amputated while he was still a puppy. But that is what happened. In real life. Gus exists. Except his name is Riley. He belongs to Emily Olesin and Alden Denny. Isn’t that a handsome smile? Never fear. Being a tripod hasn’t slowed Riley down much. He lived across the dock from me until he and his family moved to Norway. (Sniffle) You’ll find Riley, Emily, and Alden mentioned in the acknowledgements at the front of NIGHTMARE INK because I asked for permission to put Riley in the book before I actually did.

I tried to keep Gus’s personality a reasonably close match to Riley’s. They’re both super friendly, loving goof-balls with a willful streak. Gus is probably too sedate in the book. Red heelers want jobs. They’re too smart for anyone’s good and don’t take being left alone for long periods at all well. Enter Isa’s friend Nathalie who pet sits like I’d occasionally get to pet sit for Riley. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pet sit Riley for the same reasons Nathalie ends up having to pet sit Gus.

HatshepsutIsa’s feline companion has a real life analog, too. Her name is Hatshepsut. She owns me. She’s very clear which way that possession thing goes, rather like Isa’s cat, Ikylla. Granted, in the book Ikylla is a long haired rather than a short haired cat. But the attitude is 100% the same. One must greet the feline upon coming home. One must request permission before touching said feline. When protocol is followed, the reward is a purr bigger than the cat herself. Ignore the niceties and you end up with a cat wrinkling her nose in disgust, turning and stalking away, her tail twitching in irritation.

If you’ve read NIGHTMARE INK, or if you’re about to, there is a scene I can’t spoil – but Ikylla goes hunting. In case you’re wondering, yes, Hatshepsut is a fearsome hunter. In her own mind. Spiders are her preferred prey. When we lived in a house, she’d go to the garage to hunt and bring back HUGE European Brown House Spiders. Harmless. But did I mention BIG? These things are large enough that when my dear, sweet feline brought one inside and dropped it on my sleeping bag for me to play with, I woke up because I could hear it crawling up the nylon. Never got out of bed so fast in all my life.

Which critters of your acquaintance deserve to be immortalized in a story?

Marcella BurnardAbout the Author:
Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation.

Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011.

An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley was released in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013.

http://www.marcellaburnard.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marcella-Burnard/
https://twitter.com/marcellaburnard
http://www.amazon.com/Marcella-Burnard/e/B003E75420
http://word-whores.blogspot.com/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3409619.Marcella_Burnard
http://www.marcellaburnard.tumblr.com

~~~~~~TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

Nightmare Ink Button 300 x 225

Marcella is giving away 5 ecopies of Nightmare Ink to lucky commenters on her tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Guest Post by Author Jael Wye on Love and Mars + Giveaway

ice red by jael wyeI had an absolute blast reading Ice Red (see review), so I’m thrilled to have Jael Wye as my guest today. And she’ll be back again next week when I review Ladder to the Red Star. The first installment in her Mars science fiction romance did an excellent job of combining romance with great science fiction and tons of adventure. 

Love Saves Planet Mars!
by Jael Wye 

Science fiction romance is the greatest escapist fiction imaginable. It features adventure, amazing gadgetry, and settings that can blow your mind. But what makes scifi romance such a fantastic read is not necessarily of the scifi, but the romance.

Science fiction on its own can be rather grim, certainly in its modern incarnations. Back in ye olde space age of the 1950’s and 60’s, scifi generally portrayed a bright and shiny future we could all look forward to, a la Star Trek. But as the decades wore on, scifi visions got darker, like the gritty world of Alien. Now dystopias are much in vogue, depicting a future not many people would want to live in. So what might make a reader want to immerse herself in a scifi world anyway? The healing power of love, of course.

In a romance, the hero and heroine’s world is out of balance when the story begins, and only their union can set it right. This is true for all the subgenres of romance, though usually on a small, intimate scale. But in scifi romance the stakes are usually galatically high, and the love of the hero and heroine can literally save a planet.

In my book Ice Red, the hero Cesare and the heroine Bianca are all that stands between the people of Mars and the cruel schemes of Bianca’s powerful stepmother. When first Bianca and then Cesare are attacked and captured, it is their love that impels them to fight for each other, to conquer the villain who was disrupting their world and put their lives and Mars itself to rights again.

In science fiction romance love can save the universe, and that makes for not only exciting and satisfying adventure but also a profoundly optimistic vision of the future.

jael wyeJael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World.

To learn more about Jael, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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~~~~~~TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY~~~~~~

ladder to the red star by jael wyeJael will be awarding an eCopy of Ladder to the Red Star to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. So check out the rest of the tour at Goddess Fish Promotions!

 

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Review: Ice Red by Jael Wye

ice red by jael wyeFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Once Upon a Red World #1
Length: 230 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: September 30, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

Mirror, mirror, full of stars,
Who will claim the throne of Mars?

The princess: Engineer Bianca Ross, heir to a megacorporation and the Mars elevator, needs to acquire a mine on the surface to secure her place in the company. All that stands in her way is the mine’s charming owner, Cesare Chan.

The evil stepmother: Victoria Ross is plotting to gain control of Mars. She plans to assassinate Bianca and seduce Cesare to further her goals, and Bianca’s trip is the perfect opportunity.

The charming prince: Cesare shouldn’t get involved. Bianca’s visit could reveal the escaped slaves he’s hiding at his mine, but he can’t ignore a damsel in distress—especially one as beautiful as Bianca.

Alone, neither would stand a chance against Victoria. But together, they could rewrite a tale that’s meant to end with Bianca’s blood.

My Review:

Mars, Cinderella, and for one brief hilarious moment, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While this sounds like a fairy tale, it’s actually surprisingly entertaining science fiction romance. I say surprising because those original three things shouldn’t go together in the first place. But somehow they do.

There may be a tiny bit of Romeo and Juliet mixed in too. Bianca and Cesare certainly start out on opposite sides of the corporate fence: her company is staging a hostile takeover of his company. But it’s not really them; his father sold out to her stepmother. The question is why.

The Space Elevator is a tried and true SF device, perhaps even more venerable than the use of faster-than-light travel. In Ice Red, Bianca’s father invented the space elevator. He’s a self-absorbed genius who lets other people run his company while he continues to invent more cool stuff.

Unfortunately for both Max and Bianca, the “other people” who are running his company is Victoria and her goon squad. And back to the Cinderella trope, Victoria is the classic evil stepmother, complete with her own sick version of “mirror, mirror”.

Bianca has been trying to prove that she is a capable manager and administrator, worthy of being given real responsibility in the company that her parents created before her mother’s death. Unfortunately for her, she keeps trying to prove herself to one person who sees her as the ultimate rival, and another who stopped paying attention to anything years ago.

Cesare is just trying to keep the mining company that his father built. It’s not about the money, it’s about the people. Cesare has been investing corporate profits in rescuing all the Earth colonists who were lured to Mars with promises of good jobs, and found themselves on the cargo end of human trafficking operations. Trafficking where stepmother Victoria operated the shipping.

So Bianca wants real responsibility and Cesare wants to save his company, and all the people he’s rescued. Victoria wants to eliminate Bianca and takeover RedIce Mining. It’s really (and very disgustingly) clear why Victoria wants to eliminate Bianca, but her reasons for going after RedIce are hidden until the very end.

Just like the feelings that Bianca and Cesare develop for each other as they try to stay one step ahead of everyone who is out to get them.

Escape Rating B+: Ice Red is rock solid science fiction romance entertainment! It’s set in a not-too-distant future where Mars has been developed through the construction of a space elevator, but these are all familiar concepts. Mars, Earth and the space station that controls the elevator, Eris, are easily imagined places.

Considering the actions of Bianca’s stepmother, Victoria, I find the name of the space station to be particularly appropriate. Eris was the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord; all things that Victoria creates as a matter of business. And pleasure.

We get to know both Bianca and Cesare pretty well as the story progresses; it’s just long enough for good character development without letting up the break-neck pace. It was particularly easy for me to identify with Bianca’s desire to carve a place for herself in her father’s company, and her continued frustration with the way that Victoria and her father Max kept pushing her away. But she’s also been lonely and protected from the hard knocks of the world, and she needs to get out of the cocoon she’s been swaddled in.

Cesare has been hiding his heroism under the cover of being a wild cowboy. He needs to step into the light, and she needs someone to shake her up. They have terrific chemistry.

The villainy of Victoria was just a bit over the top. It reminded me of B Movie space operas, in a very fun way. She would have made a great cartoon baddie.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes next. Ladder to the Red Star, here I come!

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***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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Review: The Forever Watch by David Ramirez

forever watch by david ramirezFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s/Macmillan)
Date Released: April 22, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year journey to a new planet aboard one ship, The Noah, which is also carrying a dangerous serial killer…

As a City Planner on the Noah, Hana Dempsey is a gifted psychic, economist, hacker and bureaucrat and is considered “mission critical.” She is non-replaceable, important, essential, but after serving her mandatory Breeding Duty, the impregnation and birthing that all women are obligated to undergo, her life loses purpose as she privately mourns the child she will never be permitted to know.

When Policeman Leonard Barrens enlists her and her hacking skills in the unofficial investigation of his mentor’s violent death, Dempsey finds herself increasingly captivated by both the case and Barrens himself. According to Information Security, the missing man has simply “Retired,” nothing unusual. Together they follow the trail left by the mutilated remains. Their investigation takes them through lost dataspaces and deep into the uninhabited regions of the ship, where they discover that the answer may not be as simple as a serial killer after all.
What they do with that answer will determine the fate of all humanity in this thrilling page turner.

My Review:

If you threw Gorky Park, Blade Runner, one of Robin Cook’s medical thrillers and Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang into a blender, you might come up with something like The Forever Watch–but it probably wouldn’t be half as good.

Not even if you added in elements of The Matrix and Madeline Ashby’s Suited. It’s not just that all of those elements are in The Forever Watch, but that they are melded into a single story that left me gasping in marvel at the end.

I’m having a hard time letting this one go. I’m having an even harder time figuring out how to encapsulate the experience.

The story starts with familiar concepts. Hana Dempsey is a City Planning engineer on the generational ship Noah. Her job, her entire department’s job, is to make the city more energy efficient, while still being livable, so that the ship will have enough resources to reach Canaan. In other words, the promised land.

The mission is to save the human race. The ship is over two centuries out from a destroyed Earth, and has eight centuries yet to travel. That’s a long time for hundreds of thousands of human beings to be trapped inside a flying tin can — no matter how big or well designed the can might be.

Perpetuating the human species is not even left to chance. Every woman is assigned Breeding Duty, where she spends the entire pregnancy in a medically induced coma. She is supposed to remember nothing of the process. The child might not even be hers. She’ll certainly never see him or her.

Hana Dempsey comes back from her Breeding Duty with a sense that her life is as empty as she is. Duty is no longer enough.

Her friend, Leonard Barrens, tries to help her fill that void with helping him on a personal quest. Barrens is a cop, and he’s been quietly looking into a series of gruesome and inexplicable murders that no one seems to be investigating. Instead of being looked into, or even merely filed away, all trace of these murders is being systematically wiped from the system.

Barrens needs Hana’s skills to help him hack the vast computer system, the Nth Web, in order to find whatever traces are left. His mentor was one of the victims of what appears to be a serial killer named “Mincemeat” for the way he leaves his victims, and Barrens feels compelled to discover why the evidence keeps disappearing.

Hana gets involved because she needs something to absorb her. And because she has always cared for Barrens more than she is willing to admit. In the testing enforced caste system on the Noah, the differences between a cop and a manager in the City infrastructure are huge.

Hana and Barrens only know each other because Barrens rescued her after an assault. He makes her feel safe. She makes him feel cared for. But she’s used to Barrens being there in her darkest moments, and she’s in one now. His quest gives her something to do, something to be take her out of her empty self.

And finally a way for them to reach out from beyond their society and self-imposed barriers for each other.

Until the secrets that they uncover tear not just them, but their entire world, asunder.

Escape Rating A+: I loved this book so much that I immediately started inflicting it on other people–my husband read it in one sitting (it’s 500 pages!) and now a friend has started to devour it.

The Forever Watch exemplifies some of the best of science fiction, in that as soon as you read you start thinking about the society and what might have brought the race to this sorry pass, and it drives you crazy because the way things have worked out make you uncomfortable. Yet it’s impossible to stop reading, because that same discomfort makes you desperate to figure out why this is the way that society went.

It doesn’t seem logical, and yet it all hangs together perfectly. Even more amazing, every single bit of where it seems that things make no sense within that society, are all resolved at the end, and in a way that upholds the willing suspension of disbelief.

What lengths would we go to in order to save the human race? How far do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? What secrets are so horrible that suppressing them is better for society than full knowledge, and who has the right to decide? How much can be justified by the cold equations of survival?

You will end up with more questions than answers, but you will not be able to get this book out of your head.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.
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The Sunday Post AKA What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 4-20-14

Sunday Post

We spent the weekend at Norwescon. It was fun, but one thing I’ve noticed is that Dealer’s Rooms have gotten considerably smaller (and slightly less fascinating) since book buying over the Internet has become ubiquitous. There used to be practically acres of big book booths, and now they are few and relatively small.

nwc37-draft-banner-560x171I attended lots of great panels, and a couple that were absolutely fabulous; one on Medieval Women and the roles they really occupied in history, and the other about what a Heroine’s Journey would look like, as opposed to the classic Hero’s Journey we’re all familiar with. Awesome!

But now we’re back to regularly scheduled life as we know it, so here’s the Sunday Post.

Current Giveaways:

The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran (print or ebook, US/CAN)

Ophelia Prophecy Blog Tour ButtonWinner Announcements:

The winners of The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher are Brandi D., Brianne R. and Alisha S.
The winner of The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa is Pauline.
The winner of Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates is Kristia M.

under a silent moon by elizabeth haynesBlog Recap:

B Review: Trinity Stones by L.G. O’Connor
B+ Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer
A Review: Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes
A- Review: Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
B Review: Bite Me by PJ Schnyder
Stacking the Shelves (85)

nightmare ink by marcella burnardComing Next Week:

The Forever Watch by David Ramirez (review)
Ice Red by Jael Wye (blog tour review)
Guest Post by Marcella Burnard + Giveaway (for Nightmare Ink, previously reviewed at the Book Pushers)
Dash of Peril by Lori Foster (blog tour review)
Sing for the Dead by PJ Schnyder

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Stacking the Shelves (85)

Stacking the Shelves

It was so crazy, I didn’t see anything I wanted on either NetGalley or Edelweiss until Thursday–then boom!

Maybe this will leave a few spaces on my shelves for whatever I pick up at Norwescon this weekend?

For Review:
Assassin’s Way (Qolari Diplomatic Corps #1) by K.S. Augustin
Court of Conspiracy (Tudor Enigma #1) by April Taylor
Don’t Blackmail the Vampire (Sons of Kane #2) by Tiffany Allee
Dragons & Dirigibles (Gaslight Chronicles #7) by Cindy Spencer Pape
Supreme Justice by Max Allan Collins

Borrowed from the Library:
The Collector by Nora Roberts

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