Review: Entropy by Jess Anastasi + Giveaway

Review: Entropy by Jess Anastasi + GiveawayEntropy (Atrophy, #4) by Jess Anastasi
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: science fiction romance
Series: Atrophy #4
Pages: 387
Published by Entangled Publishing on August 6, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

Captain Qaelan Forster is used to trouble. He lives on the wrong side of the law and he’s on the most-wanted lists. He’s mixed up in his cousin's mess who has problems on a cosmic level—like shape-shifting aliens who want them dead. But Qaelan’s not prepared for the cheeky kind of trouble called Camille Blackstone, whose infamous father has any man interested in his daughter executed.

After Camille drags Qaelan into an impulsive act of rebellion, she finds herself trying to defend the sexy captain from her overprotective father's wrath, even if she has to handcuff herself to the captain to keep him alive. However, it soon becomes apparent there are much more dangerous things lurking in the dark corners of the universe than a vengeful pirate lord. And she's just landed in the middle of it.

My Review:

Initially Entropy has more of the feel of the Blood Hunter/Dark Desires series by Nina Croft (which are awesome BTW), or this author’s own Valiant Knox series than it does the earlier books in the Atrophy series. Then a significant part of the focus switches from Captain Qaelan Forster to his cousin Captain Rian Sherron, and we’re back at Firefly – or at least a version of Firefly where Captain Mal Reynolds and River Tam are combined into one crazy person with Mal’s dark moods and unsavory enemies along with River’s insane powers and even more insane nightmares.

And where it turns out that this universe’s version of Inara Serra has more than a bit of River Tam in her, too.

If you’re not still mourning Firefly, or if the resonances just don’t work for you, it doesn’t matter. The Atrophy series is not a clone of Firefly by any means. But if you still have a Serenity-shaped hole in your heart, it does come more than close enough to staunch that wound.

What we do have is a band of misfits and rebels out to save the galaxy from itself. Because this crew of rebels and misfits has found itself in the midst of a galaxy gone terribly, terribly wrong. We’ve been invaded, not by the usual bug-eyed monsters, but monsters nevertheless.

The Reidar are shapeshifting aliens from another galaxy who think that homo sapiens is so far from sapient that they’re using us as lab rats while impersonating key members of every planetary government in the system.

Only Rian Sherron and the crews of the Imojenna and the Ebony Winter know the threat. And Rian Sherron is out to eliminate that threat any way he can – even if that means allying with pirates and taking the Reidar out one at a time.

But Rian’s lost his ship, and his crew has been laying low in the Barbary Belt, a notorious pirate haven run by an even more notorious pirate. And that’s where the trouble begins. It’s not even Rian’s fault – at least not this time. At least it’s not all Rian’s fault.

His cousin Qaelan Forster makes the mistake of getting involved with the pirate’s daughter. Cami Blackstone. Her father has killed plenty of men for a whole lot less. Instead, he sends Qae on a wild goose chase that might get him killed – or might pay off what the pirate sees as Qae’s debt to him. Mostly the pirate sends him on a dangerous and possibly suicidal mission just to protect his own street cred. The man is, after all, a notorious pirate.

Cami has other plans. Her plans, her father’s plans, Qae’s plan to pay her daddy back, and Rian Sherron’s plans to get his ship back all collide in one big ball of wrong that might just have a chance or turning out right.

But has a much higher chance of getting them all killed. All in a day’s work for the crew of the Imojenna – even when the Imojenna herself is nowhere to be found.

Escape Rating B+: There’s a lot going on in this entry in the Atrophy series, and all of it turns out to be a rip-roaring good time. But be warned, while Atrophy is not so much like Firefly that you won’t get it if you don’t remember the show, it is very much like unto itself. This is a series where the action and the overall story build from one book to the next. So if this sounds like your kind of trip into the black, start with the first book in the series, Atrophy. (If you love SFR you’ll understand why this series has won multiple SFR Galaxy Awards.)

The relationship between Qae and Cami is a big part of this story, but not by any means all of it. They are an interesting couple. Qae is openly flirtations with anyone of any gender. Think of Captain Jack Harkess in Doctor Who and Torchwood, or the character of Reyes Vidal in the video game Mass Effect Andromeda. Qae has plenty of charisma, no humility whatsoever, and a trail of previous lovers from one end of the galaxy to the other. He doesn’t lead anyone on, but he also doesn’t leave anyone with even a chance at a piece of his heart.

Cami, on the other hand, is buttoned up tight, and with good reason. Her daddy, the pirate Rene Blackstone, has “disappeared” any guy she’s ever looked at twice. She doesn’t know whether those guys are dead or just far, far away – and she’s way too scared to find out. She’s caught in the middle, working for her father, living at home, treated like a teenager when she’s well into her 20s, and too scared to go out on her own. She’s both afraid of her father and afraid of the kind of people who will go after her in order to get at her father – and she’s right to be afraid.

Literally chaining herself to Qae is her chance, not only at rebellion, but at putting her demons to rest and making a life for herself out from underneath her father’s heavy thumb. That Qae, Rian and their crew are strong enough to stand up to her father is a big part of her reasoning.

In addition to the romance, there is also a big piece of this book that moves the overarching story forward. Rian goes after his missing ship after a year dirtside. His need to get his ship back lines up very well with the older Blackstone’s need to get back at his deadliest rival – AND – gives Cami a chance to take her life back from the bastard who stole her confidence and her innocence years ago. It’s going to take a big, bold plan with a lot of moving pieces to make good on all of the competing and conflicting agendas in play. There are so many ways it can go pear-shaped – and so many times it very nearly does.

This story feels like a turning point in Sherron’s one-man crusade against the Reidar. He finally finds a way to take the fight to them, and it’s clear that things are going to heat up – and get a whole lot bloodier, from here.

And I’m all in with his crew. I can’t wait to see what crazy twists and turns this series goes through next, as well as which crew member finds that one person in the galaxy who makes them whole – and fills an empty spot on the ship’s roster!.


Jess is giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky entrant on this tour!

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Review: Seducing the Tycoon by MK Meredith + Giveaway

Review: Seducing the Tycoon by MK Meredith + GiveawaySeducing the Tycoon by M.K. Meredith
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: contemporary romance
Pages: 220
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on September 19th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository

International tycoon Drago De Luca has the world at his feet and he knows it. But back home in Italy, his beloved grandmother's family inn is on the verge of closing down for good, thanks to hotshot American heiress, Chase Huntington, and her new hotel. Drago has to protect Nonna's inn, even if it means getting close enough to Chase to convince her she needs to leave. But the more time he spends with Chase, the more he's drawn to her passion, her love of his culture, and the way she looks in those Louis Vuitton heels.
Chase Huntington would give anything to enjoy her time with charming, sexy-as-hell Drago in the style capital of the world, but she has to make sure the new Huntington hotel opens successfully. How else can she prove she's not just fashionista with a fortune—she’s an heiress savvy enough to take over the family’s biggest hotel back in California? But somewhere between boutiques and business plans, she falls head over Louboutins for Drago. But when Drago's true motive for spending so much time with her comes to light, it could destroy everything Chase built and everything she thought she found in Italy.

My Review:

I’m not sure whether readers will fall in love with the hero, but they will certainly fall in love with the setting! Whatever one thinks of the romance, Seducing the Tycoon definitely seduces the reader into falling for the many, many charms of Ferrara Italy.

Just as the heroine does.

This is the kind of story that always drives me just a bit crazy. The hero is lying to the heroine from the first moment they meet. There’s no misunderstandammit here. The hero begins the story by lying every time he opens his mouth. As the story progresses, he finds himself moving from lying all the time to only lying some of the time to trying to redeem all of the lies he has told before they jump up and bite him in his perfect ass.

Of course he fails. But watching him walk the tightrope and wondering when he’s going to fall off makes for a surprisingly compelling read.

This one has an unusual set up for a “marrying the billionaire” type of romance. Usually in these stories, the hero is rich and the heroine definitely isn’t. But in this particularly twist, no one is crying in their beer. Chase Huntington is every bit as wealthy an heiress, possibly more, as Drago De Luca is a business tycoon. The difference is that she inherited hers, while he made his. But Chase isn’t resting on her well-upholstered laurels. Instead, she has come to Ferrara to open the newest jewel in her family’s crown of upscale, luxury, boutique hotels. She’s been promised that if the Ferrara opening is a success, she’ll be able to secure her dream job of running the company’s Malibu hotel.

Malibu is where Chase’s family and friends are, and she’s ready to give up living out of suitcases and find a place that she can finally call home.

Drago feels duty-bound to spoil her plans, and initially doesn’t care how many of her hopes and dreams he destroys along the way. He comes into the story certain that she is a pampered rich girl who won’t be hurt by his underhanded dealings. Drago’s grandmother owns a beautiful little local inn, and running Nonna’s Inn is Nonna’s livelihood and her life. Huntington Hotels has scheduled the opening of their Ferrara hotel on the same day as Nonna’s re-opening. Drago is certain, and probably correct, that the Huntington Hotel’s publicity barrage will swamp the news, and Nonna’s re-opening will be lost in all the Huntington hoopla.

So Drago sets out to postpone the Huntington Hotel’s opening at all costs. He is certain that he can swoop in and turn “his” town against the American interloper, while sabotaging her workers and her suppliers with threats of retaliation from his many Italian holdings. He manages to step in when Chase’s on-site manager and translator runs off, and gets himself even more involved with Chase’s efforts, and the sabotaging thereof.

What Drago doesn’t count on is Chase’s own charm. Not just her obvious beauty, but the way that she truly does care about her hotel, her staff and the town in which she plans to make her mark. His threats aren’t able to keep the townspeople from falling for the American woman who takes their needs to heart, and he is finally exposed for the scum that he is.

Only to discover that Chase’s warmth and charm have won over more than just the town. And that it is far, far too late to fix what he broke. Or is it?

Escape Rating B: Seducing the Tycoon is charmingly entertaining from beginning to end. It is wonderfully light and fluffy, with a tender heart in the center.

It’s also terrific that Chase falls in love with the town every bit as much as she falls in love with Drago. Especially since the town never betrays her, while Drago, well, that is the story, isn’t it?

Chase is an easy heroine to like. While she has all the trappings of the rich and beautiful, it’s obvious from the beginning that her heart is in the right place. Her motives for making the Huntington Ferrara hotel a success have nothing to do with “killing” the competition and everything to do with making the hotel “fit” into the town and become a part of it. And her goal is not cutthroat, her goal is to go home. Only to discover that home is not where she thought it was.

One thing that I wish had been explored in more detail is the way that Chase pursues the idea of home because she doesn’t feel that she has one. Her family and friends are in Malibu, and yet her pursuit of that job seems more like it’s where she thinks she ought to be than that she feels the need to be there. Which is why Ferrara is able to pull at her heart.

Drago is not a likable hero. It’s hard to like someone who is lying so much, including, naturally, to himself most of all. His scheme is underhanded from the very beginning, and his Nonna would not approve if she knew about it. In the end, Chase does the right things for the right reasons, and Drago comes off as a heel. Which he should.

We do see more of why on his side. His entire business is based on the ends justifying the means, and he applies those same principles to saving Nonna’s Inn and dealing with Chase. He ends up questioning everything, not just the way he treats Chase, but the way he approaches his business and his family.

With a story like this one, where the hero is very unheroic for most of the story, the satisfaction of the HEA, at least for this reader, revolves around whether the hero grovels enough to justify the heroine taking him back.

neville longbottom all grown upI found it extremely satisfying to watch him squirm. I’ll let you be the judge of whether he squirmed enough.

Reviewer’s note: Every time I looked at the cover of this book, I kept thinking that the cover model looked awfully familiar. I think it’s a very grown-up Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter movies. I’ll let you be the judge of that, too.

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