Necessary Medicine by M.K. York – Bout of Books 19 Review

In the high-intensity world of hospital residency programs, there’s no room for romance. So it’s a good thing for first-year surgical resident Neil Carmona that his crush on the gorgeous cardiologist Eli Newcombe is sheer fantasy. Not only is the sexy doctor Neil’s superior, he’s also recently divorced.
As Neil’s skill as a surgeon grows, so does his friendship with Eli, and his silent, hopeless longing for more. It isn’t until Neil’s final year that Eli at last admits his own deepest desires. But Neil’s joy is short-lived: Eli has no intention of pursuing a relationship. Their positions in the hospital would make it unethical, even if he was emotionally ready for someone new.
Wounded and furious, Neil is determined to forget about Eli once and for all. But when a near-tragedy strikes, a new question arises: Is a life without love—without Neil—a greater risk than laying his heart on the line?

The intro to the description of Necessary Medicine said ‘slow-burn romance’ – which is both accurate and an understatement. I’m a really, really patient reader, but I realize that other readers might not be. For that reason, I (and other conscientious reviewers) have found it necessary to point out that the ‘romance’ aspect of Necessary Medicine is not the focus. The focus is on the the development of the characters’ relationships (not just between Eli and Neil) as well as a glimpse of what it takes to become a surgeon/doctor.

I kinda liked this story, which was the first book written by MK York. The author did a great job of giving readers a glimpse into what life is like as a medical student. I really enjoyed getting to know both Neil and Eli as well as all the other students, specialists and surgeons. It was a unique glimpse into a world that not a lot of others get to see or experience.

I also really liked watching the relationship between Eli and Neil grow. It wasn’t always easy. I spent a lot of time being just as aggravated with Eli as Neil was, but it wasn’t easy to stay mad at him. The ups and downs between these two were worth it though. Even though the real romance didn’t even happen until way past the half way point. Just be patient, enjoy the build up and let yourself get caught up in the story.

Hard Justice (Body Armor #2) by Lori Foster

Playing it safe has never felt so dangerous…
Justice Wallington knows how to harness his strength and intimidating size—skills he put to good use first in the MMA cage, and now as a bodyguard at the Body Armor agency. But no opponent has ever left him feeling as off balance as his new client, heiress Fallon Wade. Far from a spoiled princess, she’s sweet and intriguingly innocent. It’s a risk-free assignment, until he’s required to fake a relationship with her in order to blend in. 

Sheltered from the world after a family tragedy, Fallon longs to experience life—going to bars, dancing, talking to strangers. Not easy with a huge, lethal-looking bodyguard shadowing her every move. Justice seems like her polar opposite, but pretending to be a couple stirs undeniable heat. And when danger strikes again, it’s not just her safety in jeopardy, but a passion that’s real, raw and absolutely against the rules…

So, I’ve almost forgiven Lori Foster for ending her Ultimate series. You see, I loved those guys and gals and I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them yet. Turns out that Ms. Foster wasn’t quite done with them yet either because they made appearances a couple of times in Leese and Cat’s book (Under Pressure) and readers got to spend even more quality time with them in Hard Justice. That ended up being just an added bonus for Justice and Fallon though because as much as I loved Under Pressure, I think I may have liked Hard Justice even more.

The last thing he expected when he was assigned to protect Fallon was to fall for her. No, he really did expect a spoiled princess and Fallon was anything but. On the flip side, Fallon expected another cookie-cutter body guard who stuck out like a sore thumb. Neither one of them got what they expected. Fallon was down to earth and wanted to be ‘normal.’ Justice was a powerful presence that was hard to ignore. Watching them tip-toe around their mutual attraction was fun.

What was even more fun were the guys’ reactions to Fallon and Justice. He couldn’t hide his true feelings from those who knew him best and they couldn’t resist ragging him about it. They also couldn’t resist Fallon’s charm any more than Justice could. Loving Justice’s friends was a given because readers had already been introduced to most of them, but Justice’s grandmother was a hoot and his mother was amazing. His interaction with both of them just made me fall in love with him more (and it had the same affect on Fallon 😉 ) Fallon’s parents even won me over little by little.

Beyond the characters and the romance, the ‘who-dun-it’ mystery was pretty good too. It was one of those mysteries where you thought you had it figured out, but then there was a twist, and then another one and characters you thought you despised turned out to be not so bad and… you get the picture. Basically, Hard Justice was a great read (not a surprise) and it left me wanting more (also, not a surprise.) I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for the rest of the series because there is definitely more to come.

Single Malt (Agents Irish & Whiskey #1) by Layla Reyne

singlemaltThe heart’s a resilient beast
Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.
Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.
Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve got a few fellow readers/bloggers whose advice I take when they send me a book recommendation, no questions asked. That’s why that even though Layla Reyne was a new author, when I was told Single Malt was a book that I needed to read, I jumped on it. One book in and I can already tell that I’ll be pouncing on each book in the Agents Irish & Whiskey as soon as they’re available.

Aidan was broken, but he had a huge support system, which included his boss/sister-in-law. Jamie’s been attracted to Aiden for years, but out of respect for Jamie’s marriage he never acted on those feelings. Of course things get complicated when they become partners.

I loved the connection between Aidan and Jamie, but there were a lot of other things going on in Single Malt. There was danger, mystery, guilt and strong family/friend connections that introduce a lot of great characters that I can’t wait to get to know better. It basically looks like Agents Irish & Whiskey is going to have pretty much everything I love about romantic suspense.

Then there was the ending… let’s just say things are going to get really interesting and the second book in the series, Cask Strength can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Reckless (Shattered Sisters #1) by Maggie Shayne

recklessTrue Crime Writer Toni Rio follows a wise guy straight from his brief stint behind bars to his execution in a dirty alley. When his two killers see her witnessing their gruesome work, she runs, but she doesn’t get far.
FBI agent Nick Manelli has to keep his cover intact and keep the sexy witness alive, and there’s only one way he can think of to do both. He has to kidnap her.

Interesting fact… Reckless was the first book published by Maggie Shayne. Although I’ve read several early books by this author, I hadn’t come across the Shattered Sisters series. According to the author, the book’s been ‘totally revamped.’ Regardless, I’m glad I found out about this series. Maggie Shayne is a master of sweet romances as well as paranormal, but I discovered after I read her Brown & de Luca series that her romantic suspense/mystery series might be some of my favorite.

Toni was tough, cunning and smart. She was determined to not go down without a fight. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of Nick though. She knew that there was more to him than he was showing her. Nick knew that there was more to Toni too, he just didn’t know how much more. Their attraction wasn’t instant, but once they started peeling away the layers that they were hiding from each other, they couldn’t fight it.

There were more than a couple of twist, turns and close calls for more than a couple of characters.  Enough that there wasn’t much down time, which kept the pages turning. The next book in the series is Forgotten, followed by Broken and Hunted as well as a prequel, Hollow. If the rest of the series were as interesting to get to know as Toni, this is going to be an interesting series.

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Friendly Fire by Cari Z

friendlyfire_600x900Elliot McKenzie is the king of reinvention. Five years after losing his job and his lover and almost going to prison, his self-help program, Charmed Life, is more successful than he’d ever dreamed. He thinks he’s put his sordid past firmly behind him, until he starts receiving cryptic threats . . . and realizes it might not be as over as he’d hoped. 
Security expert Lennox West has been lost since a deadly skirmish in Afghanistan led to his forced retirement from the Army. His PTSD makes helping his ex raise their daughter a challenge. When his ex’s sister asks him to set her boss up with a security system, Lennox isn’t expecting anyone like Elliot McKenzie—a man who captures his attention and makes him feel relaxed for the first time since leaving the service.
But Elliott is dangerously stubborn. Even as the threats against him escalate, he refuses to involve the police, and Lennox fears that stubbornness could kill him. A battle of wills ensues that brings them closer to each other than either man expected. But if the threats turn real, they might not live long enough to get their future together.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ve read all the Panopolis books written so far. I really enjoyed Where There’s Smoke, Where There’s Fire and Where There’s a Will, which are set in a SciFi/Fantasy world. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from Cari Z in a contemporary setting, but she most definitely did not disappoint.

Lennox was a good guy. He was still friends with his ex-wife and had a good relationship with her family. His only real fault was not spending enough time with his daughter, but his PTSD had him terrified that he’d terrify her or worse, so it was hard to blame him. Because of his military background, he was also very good at his job, when the person he was trying to help cooperated. Which brings us to Elliot…

Elliot had a past he wasn’t proud of, but he was doing his best to make it right. Because of that, he tended to look past the worst in others. Plus, he needed people who looked to him for guidance in his self-help program to keep confidence in him. That’s a great attitude to have as long as someone wasn’t trying their best to harm him and anyone who got too close. It made Lennox’s job exceedingly difficult. Add to that the attraction that the men shared, you can imagine the frustration.

I really liked this story as a whole. There was plenty of action and suspense as well as some heated romance. The mystery wasn’t too complicated, but that didn’t bother me too much either. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going go back and check out some of Cari Z’s back list and wait patiently for what she has in store for readers next. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

 

Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4) by Lori Foster

FightingDirtyWith the life he’s led and the muscles he’s gained, Armie Jacobson isn’t afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter’s effect on him. It’s not just that she’s his best friend’s little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that’s all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life. 
Good girl meets bad boy. It’s a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they’re both about to learn what’s truly worth fighting for…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Armie and Merissa’s book was as long time coming. Lori Foster has been teasing readers with this couple from the beginning of the series. I suppose it’s only fitting that since a Colter started the Ultimate series, another Colter deserved to wrap it up… for that, Ms. Foster is almost forgiven… almost. 🙂

Armie had secrets… secrets that not only made him keep Merissa at arm’s length, but also held him back from making a name for himself in the MMA. Merissa didn’t care though. She knew that Armie was not only a good man, but he was hers. She just had to convince him.

There wasn’t a lot of down time in Fighting Dirty. Readers were clued into who was behind the danger facing this couple a lot sooner than Merissa and Armie… which made it kind of frustrating. Basically because I wanted them to know so… but then the story would have been a lot shorter and since readers had been denied quality Merissa/Armie time for so long, that would have been selfish… right?

Basically, Fighting Dirty was well worth the wait. I loved watching walls around Armie finally crumble. He didn’t give in easy, but he proved more than once that he was totally worthy of not only Merissa’s love, but the rest of their ‘family’ as well. Armie had worked hard to dig himself out from under his past and keep it hidden. In Fighting Dirty he found out that he was more than his past, he finally had a future.

The supporting characters were great as usual and there were even a few cameos from series past. I love how this world is tied so neatly together. Which gives me hope that even though this appears to be the end of the Ultimate series, the new series featuring Leese, Justice, Brand and Miles will be coming soon. Hopefully, we haven’t seen the last of the Ultimate crew. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

 

 

Sojourn (Bellator Saga #3) by Cecilia London

A pearl necklace on a black silk macroHaunted by her experience at The Fed, Caroline tries to create a new identity. A new present, a new future. She can’t escape the memories that dog her when she least expects it, leaving her mired in a depression that she finds difficult to escape. Caroline needs to regain her physical and mental strength if she intends on surviving the journey to find the elusive rebellion. But that’s easier said than done with the ghosts of the past constantly whispering in her ear.
The road is long and dangerous, and there are no guarantees. She and her companions have no idea what they will find when they arrive at their destination. And what they finally discover may change everything.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1When I first started the Bellator Saga journey with Dissident, I had no idea what I was in for. I was warned that it was Dystopian in nature and that the time frame switched from past to present, but beyond that, I had no idea what to expect. To be fair, I’m not sure that any further explanation would have prepared me for what this saga involves. So far these books have been like no other Dystopian I’ve ever read. In some ways it’s scarier than most. It’s a twist on how the ‘right’ kind of power in the wrong hands can change everything… and not for the better. It’s a totally different world that we currently live in, but it’s close enough that it’s honestly terrifying.

Dissident was an introduction to this morally warped world created by Cecilia London and Conscience revealed the horrific consequences of Caroline trying to buck the system, do the right thing and attempt to reveal what was really going on… Sojourn was a turning point. At the end of Conscience, Caroline is rescued, but her fate is still in question (yes, the author is a cliff hanger master). Sojourn begins with her life still in the balance and the introduction of the men who risked everything to get her away from the Fed, which is thankfully, behind her, but the memories aren’t going anywhere.

As much as memories of the past hurt Caroline, she can’t keep them from sneaking up on her. The memories that plague her in Sojourn delve even deeper into her past. Readers learn about her first husband, the birth of her children and her first memories of her staff and her relationship with her closest friends. As painful as those memories are, they are important to her character. Even though she doesn’t share them with her rescuers, they’re revelations that provide additional depth to who she was.

I love the dynamic between the characters in Sojourn. Each one of her rescuers is important to her in a totally different way. Even though she’s the victim, she’s also the mediator and she connects with each of them uniquely. Her strength and determination, even though she feels like she has nothing left, is a powerful draw and gains her respect. In essence, Caroline is turning into one of my favorite heroines.

As I’ve said before, I had no idea what to expect, but nothing prepared me for the final chapters in Sojourn. It wasn’t so much the expected cliff hanger ending, but the moments that led up to it… and I can’t… say… a … word. *sigh* I’m guessing that Cecilia London is wearing her #EvilAuthor crown with pride. Normally, I have no problem trusting an author to take me on a character’s journey and go along with the ‘ride’ quietly… but sometimes… Phoenix is next, and let’s just say… it can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyRating5

 

Capitol Danger Anthology

Add texIt_s Inauguration Night.As I mentioned in a previous review… I’ve read quite a few anthologies this year and while I love the experience, I was kind of getting bogged down. So… that’s why I only read the prologue (which is quite the set-up and clues readers in to exactly how fanatical this sect is…) and one full story. I promise to go back and read the rest of them because the premise is really great and the characters are intriguing, plus, I’m always looking for more books to add to my TBR pile (crazy, I know.)

Below are the descriptions of each story as provided by Goodreads listed in the order that they fall in the anthology, along with my full review of Danger’s Edge. Why did I pick this one out of all the others? Because I’m a fan of Nancy Northcott’s writing and her ‘never afraid to cross the line to get things done’ characters… both male and female.

UNMASKED: An Edgars Family Novella-by Suzanne Ferrell
Abigail Whitson and Luke Edgars are working an undercover operation during the inaugural ball in an attempt to discover who has stolen land to air missiles before they can be sold to a broker—their target for the night. When the playboy arms dealer arrives at the ball, his bodyguard turns out to be someone from Luke’s past.
That isn’t the only surprise of the night. When the ball is invaded by terrorists, Abby and Luke find themselves trying to extract the arms dealer from the fray to protect their mission, while they also risk their lives to protect innocents from the carnage.

DEATH UNDER GLASS, A Faithful Defenders Novella by Jeanne Adams
Edward Millner and his girlfriend Retta Geminous, are celebrating a glittering inaugural. When Red Mantle terrorists take the ballroom, both bullets and glass start flying. Edward and Retta help the agents still standing retake the ballroom, but casualties are high. Can Edward face his demons and use his former Special Forces medical skills to save the night? Can Retta and Edward overcome their troubled hearts in the face of certain death?

DANGER’S EDGE, An Arachnid Agency Novella by Nancy Northcott
When terrorists disrupt the inaugural ball, new Arachnid Agency operative Kelsey Mitchell tables her planned undercover operation and works to bring help into the hotel. Her only ally is Greg Reed, an FBI agent on medical leave after being shot during a robbery. Kelsey dreads making a novice mistake, and Greg is afraid he’s lost his edge.
Attraction flares between them though Kelsey knows the Feds disapprove of people who work for her freewheeling agency. Together, she and Greg must fight their demons and the terrorists to gather intel for the FBI and create a safe landing zone for a rescue force. Can they succeed against overwhelming odds, or will the battle cost one or both their lives—or their hearts?
Review: My go-to when it comes to romance is PNR. That doesn’t mean that I don’t read contemporary romance, I just have a preference. When it comes from an author I already love, there’s no question. Having said that, it’s no surprise that Danger’s Edge did not disappoint.
Kelsey was on assignment for a totally different undercover op and Greg was on medical leave from the FBI. Who better to take on a bunch of suicidal maniacs? Even though they didn’t start out exactly trusting each other, it didn’t take them long to get over that obstacle and as a bonus, discover an attraction that was totally unexpected and poorly timed.
I can’t wait to see how this all pans out. This novella is listed as part of a series so I’m really hoping that there’s more to come. 😉
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LETHAL TARGET: An Armed & Deadly Novella by J.D. Tyler
FBI Special Agent Dalton McCoy is playing a deadly game, working undercover for Methan, leader of the extremist terrorist group, the Red Mantle. He’ll stop at nothing to keep Methan and his men from achieving their goal of bringing down key members of the government. When Dalton’s plans come to an unexpected head at the glittering inaugural ball, he doesn’t count on tenacious reporter Jolie Montfort placing herself in Methan’s line of fire as well. Now the agent must take out the terrorist leader and get them both to safety before it’s too late…

Right by Your Side (Martin Ranch #1)

RightByYourSideBest Female Country Artist. Sold out world-wide tour. Record-setting album sales. It’s been a stellar year for Skye Taylor and it’s left her exhausted. All she wants to do is go home to Oklahoma, curl up in her little house, and veg out in pj’s with a pile of junk food. But when her tour bus crashes in the middle of West Texas, her priorities suddenly shift. Now she’s sitting bedside hoping her best friend and bodyguard, KC, survives.
For Scott Martin, he simply wants this horrible year to end. After the murder of his brother, his family is falling apart. With one crisis after another pulling him back to the family ranch, he’s put way too many late night miles on his truck between his family home and Lubbock, where he works as a paramedic. When he comes upon the wrecked tour bus, he has no idea this is one emergency which will change his life forever.
Skye and Scott quickly form a friendship which hints at possibilities of more. But as these two dodge paparazzi, over-zealous label executives, and stalker fans, they soon discover that everything is easier when you have someone you trust RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE. And that becomes even more important when they discover the bus wreck wasn’t an accident…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I know I’ve said this before, but it bares repeating. I was hooked on Christi Snow’s writing and characters from the prologue of her very first book, Operation: End Game. One of the main reasons I’m bringing this up is because the Martin Ranch series is an indirect spin-off of the When the Mission Ends series. The Martin brothers were introduced in the second book, Operation: Endeavor. Don’t let that bother you if you haven’t read any of the books in the When the Mission Ends series though. Although they’re connected, you can read one independent of the other.

Another reason to bring the connection up though is the fact that I forgot how much I missed this little world that Christi Snow created. I can see me becoming just as enamored with the Martin boys as I was with the Robertson siblings. Yeah, with little or no effort she has me totally hooked, once again. *sigh*

Okay, enough with the connections… this book was the perfect beginning to another amazing series. I love it when two ‘broken’ characters find each other and make no mistake, Skye and Scott were both broken… to a degree. Skye was torn between what she wanted and what was ‘expected.’ Scott was still recovering from the loss of his brother and the turmoil it has left his family. My heart broke for both of these characters.

Beyond that, this book had pretty much something for everyone. There was romantic tension, the inevitable heated romance, the family dynamic (obviously between Scott and his family, but it included Skye’s makeshift family as well) and the mystery of who was behind the conspiracy to hurt Skye. There were just as many sweet moments as there were witty, intense, smexy, heart breaking and dangerous moments. And as an added bonus, I honestly didn’t figure out who the true ‘bad guy’ was until they were revealed. I may have been a tad bit distracted by the romance and the heartbreak, but I still consider it impressive.

I love how things were resolved by the end, but I still wanted more. I can’t hold that against the author though, because that is a frequent ‘complaint’ that I voice. I can’t wait to see what happens next and I’ve already given the author my opinion on who needs to get an HEA sooner rather than later. Not that she’ll listen to me. Authors rarely do… it was worth a try though. 😉

DragonFlyGreen4-5

 

Lance (Male Model Chronicles #2) by Christi Snow

13175-lance900x600As the owner and CEO of Lancer Industries, Matthew Lancer spends his days in three piece suits and conducting meetings that affect the world financial markets. What the world doesn’t know is that Matthew Lancer has a deep, dark secret. He’s actually super-hot, super-sexy, and covered in tattoos. When he can, he spends his free time letting loose as bad-boy male model, Lance Jones. No one knows and it has to stay that way or Lance will lose the one thing that’s keeping his high pressure life sane.
Andi Kelly writes erotic romance. Day in and day out, she imagines a world filled with bondage, multiple partners, and just a few whips and chains. But that’s the fantasy life in her novels. In the real world, she’s an introvert who spends her days at home living out her fantasies through her laptop. Andi’s finally worked up the courage to ask Shauna Kruse if she can sit in on the photo shoot for Andi’s next novel…with her model-crush, Lance Jones.
But Lancer Industries has a mole and it’s put both Andi and Lance in danger. Lance’s two worlds collide and when corporate espionage meets erotic romance, there’s no telling what might happen.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Did you ever consider that those cover models that you admire (and sometimes drool over) have a life beyond those smexy poses? Christi Snow’s Male Model Chronicles series gives readers a behind the scenes look into what those lives may be like. Lance is the second book in this series and I think I liked it even more than Justin. You’re probably going to think I’m crazy when you find out why.

Lance used his modeling career as an escape from his stressful reality. He took his job and his responsibility very seriously, but he was so young when it was forced on him that he needed that escape to keep his sanity.

Andi was a true introvert, but you would never have guessed it by the genre she chose to write. The more I got to know her, the more I admired her. She was a lot braver than she gave herself credit for and she used her writing as a venue to help others in a very subtle way.

So, why did I like Lance more than Justin? I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but it was the element of danger that Christi Snow threw into the story. Although I enjoyed the sweet story line in the first book, I missed that dangerous edge that has been a part of most of this author’s stories. Sure, some readers (this one included) have given her a hard time about some parts of Texas being too dangerous to visit because of her When the Mission Ends series, but that harassment was done lovingly 😉 To be fair, I didn’t even notice that I missed that aspect until it was front and center in Lance and Andi’s story.

Beyond the dangerous edge, this story had a lot to love about it. I especially liked getting to know Shauna a little bit better and I’m kinda hoping that she gets her HEA before this series is over. In the mean time, Joshua is up next. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our next cover model.

DragonFlyRating4