Review: At the Clearest Sensation by M.L. Buchman

Review: At the Clearest Sensation by M.L. BuchmanAt the Clearest Sensation (ShadowForce: Psi #4) by M L Buchman
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure romance, paranormal, romantic suspense
Series: ShadowForce: Psi #4
Pages: 218
Published by Buchman Bookworks on September 28, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

Hollywood star Isobel Manella leads a charmed life in many ways: interesting roles, surrounded by friends and family, and the ability to sense precisely what those around her are feeling. Her empathic skills help her and her team shine.

Sailor and film handyman Devlin Jones enjoys the job niche he's created along Seattle's waterfront. His skills as a Jack of all trades keeps him fed, companionship can always be found, and his beloved Dragon sailboat lies moored just outside his back door.

However, when Devlin takes Isobel on an evening sail, he brings aboard far more trouble than he's ever faced before. As an assistant on her upcoming film, he thought he could just sail through the gig. Little did he know she'd completely change the uncharted course of his future.

My Review:

This was a terrific wrap up to a marvelous series. It was a great blend of action, adventure, romance and suspense and tied the entire ShadowForce: Psi series up with a neat little – if slightly bloodied – bow.

Not that I don’t expect to see some of these characters again, as side characters or walk-ons in one of this author’s future series, because I certainly do. He does that, after all, and it’s always lovely to see how people are doing.

But At the Clearest Sensation definitely wraps up the story of this very “special” group. A story that began last summer with At the Slightest Sound and continued through At the Quietest Word and At the Merest Glance to make a bootleg turn and threshold brake into its happy ending for everyone involved in the entire series.

As much as At the Clearest Sensation closes out the entire series, it is also, definitely, primarily about the romance between unofficial team leader Isobel Manella and her current movie’s location expert, Devlin Jones.

Because this series simply couldn’t close without Isobel finding her HEA.

That’s not where the story begins. Where it begins is with Isobel feeling, not like a third-wheel in her brother’s marriage with her best friend (At the Quietest Word, or a fifth-wheel to not just that marriage but her teammate Jesse’s marriage to one of brother Roberto’s fellow ex-Deltas (At the Slightest Sound), but a seventh-wheel to both of those relationships plus the newest HEA between her bestie’s stepbrother Anton and his expert-tracker fiance Kate (At the Merest Glance).

Everyone’s happy, and Isobel is happy for all of them. But as the empathic member of their Psi group, all that happy is more than a bit overwhelming to someone who isn’t sure she’ll ever have the time to find hers.

At least not until Devlin whisks her away for a quiet sail around Puget Sound in his Dragon sailboat. For one evening, Isobel is just “Belle”, and not either the movie star or the leader of the elite ShadowForce. An illusion that nearly shatters the next morning when she discovers that the charming stranger who took her sailing is actually part of the movie crew that she has to “boss” as executive producer and co-director.

But Devlin, the one person whose emotions Isobel can’t read, is able to read Isobel and her team like a book. His “school of hard knocks” education allows him to observe all the little “tells” that reveal that Isobel and her team are something just a bit outside the ordinary.

He’s also all too aware that even in the tightest group, everyone needs someone who is first and foremost in their corner. He’s all ready to be that for Isobel, even before a crazed killer sets his sights on the only light that shines in his own personal darkness.

Escape Rating A-: That grade is kind of for this book and kind of for the series as a whole, because the ShadowForce: Psi series reads like a single story broken into four reading-bite-sized parts. This is one where the emotional payoff for Isobel’s story isn’t complete unless you’ve read from the beginning.

But since the individual parts are short and sweet with just the right touch of danger and suspense, the series makes for a great little binge read.

This series is a mixture of action adventure and romantic suspense, and does an excellent job on both sides of that rather tricky equation. It’s also very much a romance of equals, something that is difficult to do well – but it is one of the hallmarks of this author’s writing. It’s a big part of what I read him FOR.

This entry in the series combines movie-making, stunt-driving, found family, adventure, suspense and Seattle into a satisfying romance that puts the heroine in just the right amount of danger AND lets her be part of her own rescue. Isobel is part of a team, and all of the team participates in that rescue, but she is never a damsel in distress.

As someone who lived in Seattle for a few years, the way that the characters toured so much of the city while scouting locations for the film shoot read like the place I knew – although I’m grateful I moved away just before the demolition of the old Alaskan Way Viaduct began. Which created a traffic nightmare while it was going on.

I loved watching Isobel and Devlin fall for each other, in spite of both of their best intentions not to get serious. Their romance, although it doesn’t take a lot of days, still managed to take up enough space in the story to allow both the reader and the characters to feel it happen.

At the same time, the resolution of the suspense part of the story felt a bit abrupt, but on the other hand I can’t see how it could have been any other way. And I’m very glad that Isobel wasn’t kidnapped or worse. She needed to rescue herself, not BE rescued, because that’s not who the character is.

And the heroine in jeopardy plot is seriously old and stale, while this book definitely is not. But now that the ShadowForce is all wrapped up, I can’t wait to see what adventures this author will take me on next!


Review: At the Slightest Sound by M.L. Buchman

Review: At the Slightest Sound by M.L. BuchmanAt the Slightest Sound (ShadowForce: Psi #1) by M L Buchman
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: action adventure romance, military romance, paranormal, romantic suspense
Series: ShadowForce: Psi #1
Pages: 204
Published by Buchman Bookworks on September 14, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes &

Delta Force recon specialist Hannah Tucker needs out of the Colombian jungle and she needs out now.

Night Stalker pilot Jesse Johnson aims to oblige...until his helicopter is shot down. He finds that more than a little inconvenient.

Stalked by guerrillas, crocodiles, and other jungle unfriendlies, they must learn to control skills they never knew they had — or even existed!

Together they discover an unpredictable psychic ability to project sound and distract their enemies. Though the crocodiles remain unimpressed.

Their introduction to a secret military force, whose unique psi talents lay hidden in the shadows, launches them into a whole new world they never imagined.

My Review:

I read the first three books in the ShadowForce: Psi series in one glorious weekend binge. I had such a good time that I want to push them at everyone, and the best place to start is with the first book, the setup for THIS series, At the Slightest Sound.

So here we are.

The story begins with Night Stalkers helicopter pilot Jesse Johnson crash landing in Colombia on his attempt to rescue Delta operator Hannah Tucker. They’re both more than a bit bruised and banged up, and now they’re both in the jungle in the midst of the guerrilla forces that she was sent to find and he was sent to rescue her from. They’re going to have to rescue each other if either of them is to have a chance of surviving.

But Jesse and Hannah have an ace up their sleeves that they don’t even know they have. Hannah isn’t just very, very lucky at escaping capture, she has an uncanny ability that makes her pursuers look the other way at the most inconvenient moment – at least for those pursuers.

Hannah can throw, not her voice, but sound. Sound that distracts her enemies just when she most needs them distracted. She’s unwilling to admit that she might be a freak – but she and Jesse need that freakish ability of hers to survive. And, they need Jesse’s equally freakish ability to magnify those sounds to get the rescue of Jesse’s rescue to notice two camouflaged people hiding in the middle of a dense jungle from flyover height.

They come out of that jungle, together, caught between an intensive pull to find a way to stay together – in spite of both being lone operators in parts of the service that will pull them apart – and a desperate push to find their way back to some kind of normal, either by denying their strange abilities – or embracing them.

And that’s where things get really interesting, as they receive rather cryptic instructions from Hannah’s equally cryptic boss – to meet up with a group of ex-military and civilian operatives who have powers just as far outside the so-called normal as theirs.

It’s going to be the start of a beautiful friendship. It’s already the start of a terrific romantic suspense series!

Escape Rating A-: This was definitely a case of the right book at the right time. The book I was in the middle of was good but not great, and the one I’d just finished, which was in a similar vein to the ShadowForce series, was at that same not-quite-sweet spot, good but not as great as I’d hoped. And I have a review of the 4th – and it looks like final – book in this series scheduled for the end of the month, so I needed to get caught up.

I was only planning to read this first book, but the series turned out to be a bit like those potato chips – as in you can’t read just one. So I kept right on going, although I’m still saving that final book until next week. I think. Maybe I can resist.

I wouldn’t be able to resist too long, because this series reads more like a single story spread out over four relatively short books than it does four separate stories loosely connected into a series.

Although it is loosely connected to several of the author’s previous series. Which you don’t HAVE to have read to get totally immersed in this one. But they’re fun, adrenaline-inducing reads and if you like ShadowForce you’ll love them too. (If you’re looking for a fantastic way to while away about a month of this pandemic, start with The Night is Mine and get lost in this author’s world for a terrific – and long – time.)

Meanwhile, there’s At the Slightest Sound, and the three threads that it does an excellent job of packing into its rather tight length.

There’s the obvious thread, the high-adrenaline, high-stakes mutual rescue of Hannah and Jesse. Hannah is a Delta operator, she can get herself out of anything, anywhere, anytime. And she usually does. But she’s also a solo operator, not used to either counting on or dealing with anyone else.

Jesse is a helicopter pilot. The best of the best at what he does, just as Hannah is among the elite at what she does. But the one thing Jesse doesn’t do is get himself lost on the ground in unfamiliar territory. Hannah is the one leading their mutual escape, and Jesse has zero problems letting her lead.

The equality of the romantic partners is also one of the hallmarks of this author’s writing – it’s one of the things I read him FOR because it’s still rare and always GREAT to see.

But there are two other pieces to this story. One is wrapped around Hannah’s special talent and her understandable unwillingness to accept that she might be even more “different” than she thought she was. She already knew she was different, just by being a female Delta operator, but this is a step beyond – in more ways than one.

There’s less on this front for Jesse to accept or deal with. His talent only exists in conjunction with hers. He can amplify her signal, but can’t make a single spooky sound on his own. And he’s just plain more laid-back than Hannah.

However, the thing that they both have to come to terms with is that they are falling for each other, that they trust each other implicitly, and that they have an intimate relationship that hasn’t even managed to find a bed to consummate itself in yet, in less than 48 hours. They’ve both held their hearts closed before now, and they’re both having a difficult time accepting that they’re all in on a relationship that’s barely begun.

And that it’s the right thing to do. And feel.

The story of Shadowforce: Psi continues in At the Quietest Word and At the Merest Glance, and the continuing books in the series are every bit as good as this first one. I’m chomping at the bit to read the 4th book in the series, At the Clearest Sensation. Once you get started, I’m certain that you will be too!

That 4th and it looks like final book in the series will be out at the end of the month, and I wanted to be caught up before I started it. I’m definitely glad I did, because this series is complete in the four books, and it kind of IS one story spread out over the four. So start with At the Slightest Sound and get ready for one hell of a wild ride.