Rachel's books

I'm a registered nurse.  Reading gives me that escape I need.  I read primarily romance in all genres.

 

 

Top Secret

Top Secret - Elle Kennedy, Sarina Bowen

3.5* rounded up
I was pleasantly surprised since this was new adult and I generally don't care for NA. I enjoyed this and will read these authors again.
Keaton is in a relationship with Annika. They've been together 5-6 years having been high school sweethearts (the book said 5 & 6 years at different places). Annika asks for a threesome which leaves Keaton to an ap (yes, there's an ap for that!) to search for someone. He matches with someone and unbeknownst to him it's someone he knows, but doesn't like.
Luke grew up poor and has a scholarship to college. It doesn't cover room and board so he works (as a stripper at a ladies bar and bar tends). His dad is not involved, his mom is a moocher, and his older brother is a felon. He rushed the frat to have someplace to live that he could afford. Keaton, on the other hand, is rich and doesn't know what it's like to not know where his next meal is coming from. I liked the dynamics between each and how wrong their first impressions were.
Keaton stands up to his family and goes for what he wants as does Luke. The only thing I didn't like was Keaton was in a relationship for the first 40% of the book and he was chatting up Luke while Annika knew nothing about it. This kept this book from being a 4*. It's one of those gray areas cheating or not cheating (IMO I thought kinda was- some won't see it that way, but I think it was because Annika didn't know about it and there were feelings involved. No physical act.).
This was a nice enemies to lovers story.
For Romance-opoly Lovers Lane Sun track.

Gravity

Gravity - Melissa West

Ari is a 17 years old who lives in the future in a hugely different world. Earth as we know it has been destroyed by nuclear war and individual countries are no more. It is divided up by continents and each region is lead by a president. These leadership positions are also hereditary. Enter an alien race (who needed water) who want to colonize earth. Except they can't live on earth. In exchange for terra forming the earth, each human being participates in "the Taking," a process from which an alien (I mean Ancient!) gets "antibodies." This starts at 10, no questions asked, and is mandatory. "The Taking" is secretive and each human gets an eyemask to wear; the mask also paralyzes the person. Nice right?
So Ari's dad is like a head of security and this appears to also be a hereditary position, 'cause Ari is moving up! She also is engaged to the president's son for political reasons. Welcome to the future!
So, during "the Taking" one night she loses her mask and peeks. Her assigned alien (I mean Ancient!) is Jackson, who goes to her school and she thought was human. He asks her to trust him- and she does.
This was weird and not in a good way. There's also insta-love, an attempted love triangle (but not really), found 1/2 siblings (not Ari), a Super Special heroine, and multiple questionable decisions. I was also surprised at the amount of death and violence in this one. Ends in a cliffhanger. However, I have no desire to read the next. I'm out!
Romance-opoly: Outer Space Moon track
 

The Captive

The Captive - Grace Burrowes

Christian was captured, held captive, and tortured for almost a year. He is freed at war's end. This book had heavier issues due to this. He had to deal with the trauma done him- both physical and emotional. Gillian was married to an abusive man for 8 years before died of a stroke. To get an idea of how sadistic this guy was is he tried to frame Gillian for his (natural) death.
Both Christian and Gillian connect and find comfort in each other while carrying for Christian's daughter Lucy. Something happened and now Lucy does not speak at all. While he was a prisoner, his wife (Helene- Gillian's cousin) and son (Evan) died.
The book did drag for a little while in the middle. Then the suspected attempts on Gillian's life happened and it picked up again. I think the villain responsible for that (and Christian's capture in the first place) is easily guessed at. And also Lucy's inability to speak.
Girard's (AKA Sebastian St Clair) story is the next book and I admit to being leary about that. Girard was a villain in this one (he was one of Christian's torturers), but was humanized at the end of the book.
For Romance-opoly Courtship Row Moon track
 

Love and Other Scandals

Love and Other Scandals - Caroline Linden

Joan is a wallflower and about to be a spinster. She's tall, curvy, and the latest fashions do nothing for her. She first meets Tristan as a child when he comes home with her brother. Never invited back, it's years before she meets him ago. Tristan has issues with his aunt and cousins (they don't like him).
I liked this was a little bit of a slow burn. It was a bit of enemies to friends to lovers type of book. It was nice that Joan's parents loved her, even if her mother had certain ideas. I did like Joan standing up for herself more, that was needed.
I liked Joan's friends- Abigail and Penelope (and Olivia).
For Romance-opoly Sun track Courtship Row

Fortune's Pawn

Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach

Devi is a mercenary whose life goal is to be a Devastator (an elite group that serves the king of Paradox). She signs up for a year of security work on The Glorious Foul because she'll get credit for 5 years and serve 1. However, all is now what it seems.
I liked the writing and I thought the world interesting. However, I would have liked more backstory on the different species and planets (why don't Paradoxians like the Terrans and vice versa for example). I liked Devi, but had trouble connecting with her. I found this was very easy to pick up and put back down. I wasn't really that invested in her story. Then that fucked up ending. I disliked that

mainly because Rupert took any choice any. 'Cause he knows best.

(show spoiler)


For Romance-opoly Outer Space Sun track.

Passing Strange

Passing Strange - Ellen Klages

This took me a little bit of time to figure out. This opens in modern day San Fran with Helen selling a painting by Haskel. This painting is Haskel's last known work before disappearing. This then returns to 1940s San Fran. Franny, Babs, Helen, Haskel (Loretta), and Helen are all a group of lesbian friends. Franny and Babs are a couple. This book is about Haskel and Emily's story. Things happen. Franny has some ability to do magic and so does Haskel. Haskel's ability is mentioned in the last part of the book. Overall, this was unexpected and the result was a surprise.
Even in modern times, the assumption is Haskel was a man. I would have liked more on the magical ability.
Romance-opoly WInter Square for Sun

Wild Embrace

Wild Embrace: A Psy-Changeling (A Psy/Changeling Novel) - Nalini Singh

4 novellas
Echo of Silence
This was a romance between a Psy (Stefan) and Human (Tazia). Briefly got a glimpse of the underwater station Alaris. I liked this one, but it was slower paced.

Dorian
Takes place through several years. Another good one.

Partners in Persuasion
My favorite in this collection. Felix is a submissive wolf was was burned before. Dezi is a dominant leopard. I liked their dance and build-up of trust.

Flirtation of Fate
A 2nd chance romance. Garnet and Kenji have been in love for years. Then on her 21st birthday, Kenji deliberately hurts her after he received some news. Fast forward 7 yrs and they team up to figure out murder of a follow packmate. Kenji's big secret-

most likely unable to father his own biological children.

(show spoiler)

Romance-opoly WInter Square for Moon

Crossing Hearts

Crossing Hearts (The Cross Creek Series) - Kimberly Kincaid

Emerson broke Hunter's heart when she moved from her small town to pursue her dreams (there was a lot of shit going on that she never spoke to Hunter about). 12 years later she is back. She gave up her job with a pro football team and moved back to her small town. Hunter still resides there, working on his family farm.
This was a frustrating read. I understood why she left and agree that teenage Hunter would have probably followed her and been unhappy. However, it would have been nice for fully realized adult Emerson to just stand up to her parents. I didn't understand why the MS dx was a big secret (going to the next town over for treatment even though it further just because daddy worked at the closest hospital- she would have had the right to medical privacy). Considering she's in the medical field (she was a physical therapist) she knows the value in a supportive network of friends/family. Once she (finally) told Hunter, he did all he could do to help her. Ultimately she finally did come clean and it was just fine. I wish she would have realized this made her a more empathetic and relate-able to her patients and a better PT (once she learned her limits)/caregiver.
And there was something going on between Owen and Eli (Hunter's brothers), but I don't think I care to read the next to find out what it is.

Burn for You

Burn for You - J.T. Geissinger

Pleasantly surprised.  Jackson started out as a huge asshole.  But, I ended up really liking him by the end of the book.  I really liked Bianca and she didn't take any shit from Jackson.  This was a nice enemies to friends to lovers romance.  I would have liked more at the end; an epilogue would have been nice (I thought it was a bit abrupt).  Of note- the cover is wrong and made me scratch my head after I got done with the book.  (Bianca's darker skin and Creole heritage was mentioned multiple times).

Married With Zombies

Married With Zombies - Jesse Petersen
Sarah and David are on the verge of divorce. Than an outbreak happens. They arrive to their therapy appointment and find their therapist eating the couple who had the appointment before theirs. Who then tries to eat them.
I needed this book (I was reading this while reading another book)! This was funny, but after awhile their bickering got on my nerves. I also really didn't understand why Sarah married David in the first place. By all accounts, she gave up things because he wanted to do things, but then didn't. And when she then wanted to do things, he didn't want her to, so she didn't. She was the breadwinner and he did ???? So, I had a hard time liking David.
Even so, it had a way of working out.
 
 

 

The War for America's Soul

The War for America's Soul - Sebastian Gorka

I got this from my Trump loving mother and she asked that I read it with an open mind. I tried my best. It may or may not be more of a rant.
Dennis Prager wrote the introduction and one of the things he said bothered me (and I also think he is wrong). And that is this: "By definition, one does not love what or whom one seeks to fundamentally transform." He uses the example of a spouse who wants to "fundamentally transform" the other as an example. I think using that as an example misses the point (and if a spouse wanted to completely change the other- that's a problem, but if they have a smoking/alcohol problem, that's another- it's not black or white). I think loving the Country and wanting it to change with the times and be better is not wrong and the opposite- it shows the love of Country.
On to the book. How do I rate this damn thing? It was easy to read. This book didn't teach me anything new, it didn't enlighten me in any way. I don't feel smarter or more educated. I did learn Gorka's favorite Star Wars movie. And Fox news is awesome. Trump is awesome. The Left is trying to "poison" us. There was no Russian "collusion." The Russia investigation was a sham to investigate the Trump campaign and get dirt. The news media is "biased" and "fake." Obama had the "...most scandal-ridden eight years of any modern presidential administration." Does he back this up? He tries to: he uses the government shutdown and subsequent National Park closures (see Obama is against the Vets!), the IRS investigations (they were job doing their jobs!), and Benghazi (again) as examples. I did agree with him regarding the Obama administration's crackdown on whistle-blowers. No one is perfect and again, I think it's appropriate to point that out. I did vote for Obama and overall I think he did a good job. Did I always agree with his policies? Was he perfect? Nope and Nope.
This is his opinion on on the Russia investigation and Mueller Report: "In the two years that followed, Mueller tried everything to get dirt on Trump, and in doing so destroyed several people's lives." I find that opinion concerning. Has he read it? If he did, I'm so confused at how one can arrive at that conclusion.
Steve Bannon is "misunderstood." The Liberals have a "culture war" against the middle class (I read it as the white middle class- full disclosure- I am white middle class). I laughed out loud at this one: "Who better to restore it (economic opportunity) than a patriotic, populist businessman who spoke the language of working people and understood their problems?" Wow. Someone who inherited his daddy's money, won't release his tax returns, and uses the Presidency for personal and family gain?
Gorka also seems to believe that socialism = communism. It certainly read that way several times in this book.
I did learn Gorka has a daughter who is a college grad (with honors- good for her!). But, he bitches during the ceremony about one of the speakers who spoke about sexism in this country. Doesn't she know how good she has it?! Why not focus on other countries where it's a REAL problem?! He describes her as "ignorant and close minded" and "brainwashed" because she didn't talk about any other country but the US.
I *still* think Trump is a racist, sexist fucking asshole.
I not saying the Left is perfect and haven't done things wrong or made missteps. An example: Anti-Fa scares and worries me. I understand their message- but they are going about it completely wrong. I am a Pacifist and violence/property damage isn't the answer.

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 223 pages.

The War for America's Soul - Sebastian Gorka

Got this from my Trump loving mother for Christmas and she asked that I read it (with an open mind). So I am. Or trying. Review to come whenever I get done.  I figured only fair since I got her a years subscription to Mother Jones.

A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas

A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas - Jackie Lau

This was just what I needed. Tasha and Greg started dating when they were 16 and dated for 3 years before breaking up. They were both in college- different schools and that needed to be the focus. They each both wanted to experience life. Fast forward 15 years and they are both single at 34.
I liked Greg from book 1 and wanted to read his story. This was short, but worked since you get enough information from their past relationship (Valentine's, candy bar, snow fort, necklace). The "Herbie and Ethel" moment was hilarious. Then there was the Wong family; Ah Ma and Mrs Wong (I don't think we ever learn what her name is) and their matchmaking.
I like the 'forced proximity" trope since it forces conversation (and the revelations it usually shows).
Pre-ordered Zack's story (Chinese New Year).

Joy to the Worlds

Joy to the Worlds - Gayle Clemans, Raven Oak, Maia Chance, Ernest G Clemans, Janine A. Southard

This anthology had a nice mix of genres.  I liked the introduction at the beginning of each and the end note by the author.  The best for me were- Escape From Yorktown and Ol' St Nick.

Christmas in a Cowboy's Arms

Christmas in a Cowboy's Arms - Amy Sandas, Linda Broday, Anna Schmidt, Margaret Brownley, Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner

Like all anthologies, some stories grab you and others really don't.  This has a few I had no interest in, others that were just okay, and one I really liked.  A Christmas Reunion (Amy Sandas) was definitely the best.  I liked this 2nd chance story about a couple that (unbeknownst to them) were lied to and spent about 7 years apart, angry and hurt.  They meet again purely by chance (and luck).  The truth came out and hopefully they have their HEA now. 

A Kilted Christmas Wish

A Kilted Christmas Wish - Eliza Knight

This fell flat for me.  I didn't believe Darla and Aaron's romance.  Aaron lost his fiance approx 4 months ago.  He moved to NY for change of scenery (and he conveniently had a nice job- his dad was retiring and he is taking over).  Here is why the romance just didn't work for me: 

Aaron's fiance was in a car accident and was in a coma/vegetative state for "weeks."  Aaron wanted her kept alive.  Megan's parents wanted life support withdrawn.  After a protracted fight, her parents won and life support was removed.  This story had him falling in love and proposing within 1 month after meeting Darla.  I felt this was too soon.  If it had been a year or so, no problem.  But 4 months?  Nah.

(show spoiler)

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Professional Reader2016 NetGalley Challenge Reviews Published 80% Romanceopoly 2019 Participant