Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Pages: 79
Date: 28/01/2014
Grade: 4+
Details: Received from Riptide Publishing
            Through Love Romances and More
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Two seasoned operatives finally meet their match: each other. 

Cillian works for the mysterious Special Branch 20: an organization that runs black ops commissioned by the British government. His specialty is deep undercover assignments with virtually no support. He’s been alone for so long that he no longer knows anything else. 

Mal’s also used to being alone. Wanted in several states and even more countries, he’s not allowed in the vicinity of any of his former Navy SEAL teammates. And his current assignment is to track Cillian in order to discover the spook’s endgame. Except he’s no longer sure which one of them is getting played. 

Cillian isn’t about to let the mission that’s consumed him for the past several years crumble because an outsider is poking around where he doesn’t belong. But Mal forces his way through Cillian’s defences—and into his heart—exposing a devastating betrayal that could destroy them both.”


My thoughts:

The first word I see when I open this book is ‘Amsterdam’; a great start considering I lived there for over 30 years. I have to admit that even though the city isn’t described in any detail and I couldn’t tell you exactly where the story plays out, the fact that it’s set there did give this book an extra edge.

Not that this story wasn’t edgy enough without the added interest. In fact, I think the word edgy was invented to describe books like this. Mal and Cillian, two undercover agents, are both chasing the same man be it for different and personal reasons.
While Mal knows who Cillian is and more or less what he is up to, Cillian has no idea who or what Mal is. When contact between the two men is established it takes place almost exclusively through Instant Messaging. It is also highly sexual in nature, with both of them vying for domination over the other while secretly graving the potential of submission.

Mal may have some advantages over Cillian because he knows more about his opponent than Cillian knows about him, neither of them knows enough to prevent shocking revelations. Revelations that come after the men have found a need for each other they can neither explain nor deny, no matter how much they might want to. Revelations that will shock the reader and create an urgent need for the next book in what appears to be a trilogy.

This was a very well written story. The tension starts on the first page and doesn’t let up for a moment. In fact, that tension had only gotten stronger by the time I read the last word in this novella. And it is a tension that exists on all levels of this story. It is never completely clear who knows what. There is the mystery as to who is killing Cillian’s informers. And then there is the sexual tension between these two men; a tension so hot it steams of the page both during their online encounters and when they’re together.

These two men are very similar and more than a match for each other. They also seem to be made for each other, if only they weren’t on opposite sides of the same mission. I can’t wait to see how the rest of this story is going to unfold and can only hope it won’t be too long until ‘Dirty Lies’ comes out.

After I requested this book for review but before I read it I discovered this book ties into previous titles by this author – The Hell or High Water series – which I haven’t read. Don’t let that stop you from picking up this book right now. At no point while reading this novella did I feel as if I was missing vital information. In fact, if I hadn’t seen somebody else mention this fact in a review, I would never have guessed there were earlier, connected books.

I also didn’t realise this wasn’t a stand-alone title when I requested it. The way this story ends makes that fact perfectly clear though. The author leaves us with an unexpected and shocking cliff-hanger, but it wasn’t one that bothered me (and trust me I’m not a fan of cliff-hangers in general).
Although I’m more than ready to find out what happens next and can’t wait for the sequels, I have to say the story ended with perfect timing. My curiosity is well and truly awakened and my mind is running riot, trying to come up with all the possible future scenarios. Somehow I feel that whatever my mind may conjure up for me, S.E. Jakes will still manage to surprise me.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Pages: 338
Date: 27/01/2014
Grade: 4.5
Details: Book Club Read

The blurb:

“Forcibly removed from the ancient village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejas are moved into the Jenin refugee camp. There, exiled from his beloved olive groves, the family patriarch languishes of a broken heart, his eldest son fathers a family and falls victim to an Israeli bullet, and his grandchildren struggle against tragedy toward freedom, peace, and home. This is the Palestinian story, told as never before, through four generations of a single family.

The very precariousness of existence in the camps quickens life itself. Amal, the patriarch's bright granddaughter, feels this with certainty when she discovers the joys of young friendship and first love and especially when she loses her adored father, who read to her daily as a young girl in the quiet of the early dawn. Through Amal we get the stories of her twin brothers, one who is kidnapped by an Israeli soldier and raised Jewish; the other who sacrifices everything for the Palestinian cause. Amal's own dramatic story threads between the major Palestinian-Israeli clashes of three decades; it is one of love and loss, of childhood, marriage, and parenthood, and finally of the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.”


My thoughts:

Sweet Jaysus, what a book. A book that will stay with me indefinitely. A story that will haunt me whenever I turn on the news and hear about another ‘incident’ in Palestine. This is a book that puts names and faces, be it fictional ones, to the thousands of people who have been massacred because one people needed a place to flee to and decided to take a land that was already inhabited by others.

In a story stretching nearly 60 years we follow one family as their lives changes beyond anything most of us can imagine. We see them lose the land and home that has been theirs for generations as well as a baby boy; everything taken by the Jewish need for land of their own, a place they may be safe after the atrocities of World War II.

We see a  young girl, born in the Jenin refugee camp grow up in captivity, surrounded by random but targeted violence as well as love, loyalty and the continued power to dream. We witness what love and loss can do to the human heart and spirit.

“In the process of trying to steady my gait in a life that shook with uncertainty, I learned to make peace with the present by unknowingly breaking love lines to the past.”

This is a book that will break your heart time and again and yet it is also a book filled with beauty. While the story shows how oppression, senseless violence, injustice and the loss of loved ones can and will turn light hearts heavy and make merciless killers out of ordinary people it also shows that amidst all the darkness, good can and sometimes does survive.

“We’re all born with the greatest treasures we’ll ever have in life. One of those treasures is your mind, another is your heart. And the indispensable tools of those treasures are time and health. How you use the gifts of Allah to help yourself and humanity is ultimately how you honor him.”

This is a book that will make you think about and question humanity. It made me wonder how the human mind is capable of excusing that which it condemned not much earlier.

“Jews killed my mother’s family because Germans had killed Jolanta’s”

If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never understand why people feel the need to inflict the pain they have suffered themselves onto others. It is something that has happened all through history and happens still both in small, private ways and in massive, headline making events. It is so clearly portrayed in this book it breaks your heart. The violence, hatred, pain and despair make this a very hard book to read. And to think that more than 60 years after the conflict was created it is still no nearer a solution; it makes me want to cry for the world and those who inhabit it.

There were quite a few times when this book felt more like a memoir than a novel.
Sections of the story would be finished with what felt like a summary of facts about the conflict in general rather than the characters’ stories. Those parts of the book read like non-fiction and would take me out of the narrative.

The shifting perspective was another element that would disrupt my reading. And while this structure made sense in so far as the individual characters had no way of knowing what was happening in each other’s lives most of the time, I think I would have been happier if the whole story had been told by a third-person omniscient narrator. It seems to me that such an approach would have made the reading more fluent and the sharing of facts less surprising.

A part of me feels that I should give this book five stars, if only because of the subject it deals with. And yet I can’t. While I can’t deny that this story took a hold of me and made all too real an ongoing conflict that in many ways had been abstract for me up until now, I can’t get away from the ease with which I could put the book down on several occasions.
Having said that, I also feel this book should be read by as many people as possible. It is important that this perspective on the conflict in the Middle East is seen by the world.

The following is one of the many pieces Amal’s father read to her before he disappeared and also a thought I have loved since I first read it years ago. I have no other reason for sharing it here.

On Children
Khalil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
And he beds you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Pages: 53
Date: 25/01/2014
Grade: 3.5
Details: A 1 Night Stand Story
            Received from Decadent Publ. Co.
            Through Love Romances and More Reviews
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Trace has almost everything he wants—a great job and a well-ordered life, but he’s ready for more—the right guy to share it with. A chance meeting after a hockey game with the man of his dreams spurs him on to turn to the one source he knows will help him out—Madame Eve’s 1Night Stand service.

Jeremy can’t forget the difficult childhood and subsequent bad decisions he made while trying to forget it. He wants the gorgeous air traffic controller, but he’s afraid his past will get in the way like it always does. If all Madame Eve can give them is one night…he’ll take it.

With Eve’s help, can the men forge the relationship they both want, or will they crash and burn?”


My thoughts:

I’m developing a taste for these 1 Night Stand novellas. Of course this is only my second venture into Madame Eve’s world, but I have to admit that both of them have been exciting, hot and great fun. I love the idea of a dating service where you sign up for one night with your perfect date only to end up with the exact person you need and the opportunity to change the rest of your life. I mean, what’s not to love?

Having said that, this story didn’t satisfy me quite as much as I hoped it would. I knew it was a novella when I got it, so the length of the story is not an issue. And neither is the idea behind it. Who doesn’t want to read about two men who are, on the surface at least, worlds apart and completely different and yet perfect for each other?

The one thing that didn’t work for me while reading this book was the speed at which the story was told. I felt as if I were partaking in a race against the clock. Everything happened too fast, nothing was given enough time. From our introduction to the characters, to their background, their meeting, their night together and the aftermath, every scene seemed to be over almost before it had properly begun.

So I liked Trace and Jeremy but never felt that I got to see more of them than the surface. There wasn’t enough time for the reader to actually feel Jeremy’s pain, although they were told about it. The hassle between Trace and his ex-boyfriend also went by in a flash. 

On the other hand I don’t want to harp on about this for too long either because I did enjoy this story. I spent a very nice 45 minutes with two hot men who are clearly made for each other but just haven’t recognised it yet or lack the courage to give into it. And when these two men get close, things get hot and steamy very quickly.

Overall I would say this is a very nice read if you’re looking for a steamy, short and well written romance featuring two hot men. I would also say that the 1 Night Stand series is proving to be very exciting discovery and a series I will have to keep a closer eye on in the future.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Pages: 330
Date: 25/01/2014
Grade: 5
Details: no. 5 Cut & Run
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“Left alone in Baltimore after his unpredictable lover bails, Special Agent Zane Garrett takes his frustration out on everything in his path until he is ordered to Chicago to back up an undercover operative. When he gets there, though, he finds himself face to face with his wayward partner, Special Agent Ty Grady. They have to deal with the uncertainty lingering between them while they work to retrieve their intended mark, a retired hit man and CIA wet-works operative named Julian Cross.

Ty, once a marine and now an FBI hotshot, has a penchant for being unpredictable, a trait Zane can vouch for. Zane is a man who once lived for his job but has come to realize his heartbreaking past doesn’t have to overshadow his future. They're partners, friends, lovers, and the go-to team for unusual cases. With Cross and his innocuous boyfriend, Cameron Jacobs, in tow, Ty and Zane must navigate the obstacles of a cross-country trek, including TSA pat-downs, blizzards, their uncooperative prisoners, CIA kill teams, a desperate lack of sleep or caffeine, and each other. Ty and Zane are determined to get Julian Cross to DC in one piece, but it’s starting to look like it might be the last thing they do.”


My thoughts:

I think I may have said this before; I’ve fallen in love with this series and its two main characters. In fact, I think I could happily spend my days doing little else besides read about Ty and Zane. I mean what’s not to love. The reader is given heart-stopping thrillers, featuring two hot FBI agents with a wicked sense of humour and smart tongues who happen to be involved in one of the most fascinating love stories while trying to stay alive.

The ending of the last book, ‘Divide and Conquer’ was a bit of a cliff-hanger. Just when I thought Ty and Zane would find the time to enjoy each other for a while, Ty does a runner, leaving Zane confused, frustrated and alone.

When Zane is send on a mission he doesn’t know the man he’s to work with is his partner and lover. It is a welcome reunion but not one they can enjoy for long since the operation they’ve been sent on is filled with danger from the very first moment.

Enter Julian and Cameron from ‘Warrior’s Cross’. All Ty and Zane know is that they have to get Julian to Washington alive and as quick as possible. Julian is convinced that allowing himself to be taken there is the equivalent of signing his own death warrant and doesn’t come easily. The fact that the innocent in every possible way Cameron also comes along for the ride only complicates matters.

What starts off as a battle between Julian and the two agents soon turns into the four men fighting together against what appears to be a CIA operation to kill Julian. But people and things are not quite what they seem. Sometimes those who appear to be your enemies turn out to be friends and those who should be trustworthy let you down.

And that’s just the thriller part of the story.

When Ty and Zane reunite there is some soul searching to be done. And when these two characters delve into their hearts, it leads to beautiful scenes. Not in the least as a result of Ty’s refreshing and utterly charming honesty.
Asked why he left while Zane was sleeping, Ty answers:

“I was afraid... I was afraid if I woke you and looked into your eyes I wouldn’t be able to go. And I had to go Zane, I had to.”

As the story progresses, Zane and the reader find out more about Ty’s past, and with it comes an understanding of the man he is, and the reason’s he has for doing what he does, even when it means hurting the man he loves and himself. Which makes it all the more touching when he asks Zane:

“Next time...next time I need to go, will you go with me?”

Or when he says:

“I was always yours. (...) Because... you make me the kind of person I’ve always wished I was.” Ty

What I love about these books is the description of Ty and Zane’s deepening connection. I adore the way they develop together, get to know and understand each other better and grow ever more comfortable in their relationship. And the addition of Julian and Cameron’s perspective in this book means that the reader is giving new insights into Ty and Zane; as the heroes of Warrior’s Cross share their perceptions of the FBI agents, the reader is given the opportunity to expand the picture they have of our heroes.

In fact, the changing dynamic between the two couples was fascinating; from outright hostility through begrudging cooperation and admiration to something that could easily have turned into friendship if the circumstances had been different. The progression is natural, at times funny and ultimately beautiful.

But the best part about this book and the whole series is, was and always will be the relationship between Ty and Zane. I live for those moments when we’re given a glimpse of how they see each other.

“But then, Zane supposed that was part of Ty’s charm, the jumbled ball of yarn inside his brain that no one could unravel.”

Not to mention the moments that have you teetering between a smile and a few tears.

“I can’t remember a time that you weren’t the first thing I thought of, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I don’t care what stands in our way.” – Ty

The books in this series have it all; danger, adventure, two fascinating men who happen to love each other despite the apparent impossibility of their situation, laugh out loud moments, angst and very hot passion. I could continue reading these books forever.

This book, like all the prequels was filled with quotable sentences. I had to use all my restraint to limit myself to those I’ve used above. I will add one more because sometimes a sentence is beautiful and worth keeping just because it tells a simple truth:

“Life is hard and confusing, Zane. Love doesn’t have to be.”