Tag Archives: Grade C

TBR Challenge Review: Boys and Toys by Cara Lockwood

Boys and Toys by Cara Lockwood
Contemporary romance novella released by Cosmopolitan Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin on July 15, 2014
Boys and Toys

Every girl has a goody drawer.
Sex toy party hostess Liv Tanaka has a collection. Vibrating purple rabbits, cherry-flavored edible underwear, flavored oils… Hey, wearing a leather corset and stilettos (while selling dildos) pays the bills. Just don’t tell her very conservative parents. Because if they discovered Liv’s sex-toy-selling “Asian Elvira” alter ego, her parents would disown her.
So far, Liv’s doing a bang-up job of keeping her two worlds separate…until Porter Benjamin shows up at her party. Tall and too-tasty-to-resist Porter, who works for her father. Porter, who wants Liv to host a party just for him.

And oh, she’s tempted. But getting involved with Porter means mixing those two worlds that Liv desperately needs to keep separate. And now Liv’s Naughty Toybox is starting to look a lot like Pandora’s box….

I haven’t read one of the Harlequin/Cosmo Red Hot Reads in a while … and it was good to do so again. (Yes I know this was published in 2014, that’s okay.) The premise drew my attention – well the cover is eye catching, but the “good girl gone bad” and the hero working for her father … a total mess too irresistible for this reader.

Liv Tanaka is someone I think many people can relate to. She’s trapped by her parents idea of her – and her conservative upbringing. Conservative and religious. Liv sells sex toys. Obviously her parents don’t know what she does, but she manages to make it on her own and support herself. I respect that. I also liked how she established boundaries and stood up for herself (by the end). It was nice that Liv was adaptable and she gets everything she wants (albeit in a somewhat roundabout way).

Porter Benjamin. He just sounds like a lawyer, doesn’t he? I actually didn’t want to like him (what basically amounts to blackmail is definitely a black mark in my book) – but he’s so charming. Porter is clearly into Liv, and wants a relationship with her. He’s just a bit clunky in the manner he goes about getting it. The fact that he’s willing to put himself out there for Liv, and come to the rescue (regardless of how big or small the issue) really won me over. His easy going attitude and charm help too.

The little scenes between Liv and her parents provided both humor and frustration which was an impressive mix. I liked that their interaction really developed the story and showed different facets of everyone’s character. Especially when Porter is thrown into the mix, and it’s believable because as Mr. Tanaka’s employee, he knows the whole family.

I did wish for more development on how the actual relationship developed. You have the ~blackmail and the hookup, the sex and the barbecue, and then … bam – fully committed couple. I know there are constraints with the length, but there you have it. Then also some character/language issues. (Liv’s mom is Chinese and her dad is Japanese. … If it’s going to bother you, that statement alone explains it. If not … it won’t.) That plus … her mom’s word (it bugged me so much I don’t even want to type it) clearly annoyed me.

Boys with Toys is a cute and quick read, and I’d definitely look for more books by Ms. Lockwood.

Grade: C-

You can buy a copy here.

Guest Review: Coming Back by Lauren Dane

Ki’s Review of Coming Back by Lauren Dane
Contemporary erotic romance released by Hachette on December 8, 2015

Coming BackMick Roberts, the newest partner at Twisted Steel’s custom hotrod and motorcycle shop, looks like a man with everything. But secretly he still craves the connection he lost when his best friend Adam and the love of his life Jessilynn walked out. Then, he wasn’t ready for the pleasure they promised. Now, things have changed.

Rich, powerful, and insatiable, Adam Gulati is used to getting what he wants. And there’s nothing he wants more than Mick and Jessi. He hasn’t seen either in over a year, but the second he sets eyes on them again his memories-and his desires-can’t be denied.

After trying to live without them, Jessi Franklin realized no one else can satisfy her like Adam and Mick. The three of them need one another-in more ways than one. It’s time to stop pretending and submit to the hunger they all share. But once they go down this road, there’s no turning back. As deeply devoted as they are, no one knows what great bliss their forbidden fantasy will find-or the price they may pay . . .

This was my first book by Lauren Dane and I would never have picked this up myself but the blurb hooked me in a way I never would have thought. I still don’t know why it caught my interest because I don’t really like ménage à trois reads, but this just did. Maybe it was the characters or how I wanted to know what’ll happen next, or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading some good ménage à trois lately. Who knows.

The heroine, Jessi, I found really likable and had lots of sass. She has a huge heart that is full of love and understanding. She’s very independent and  has this “I don’t give an F attitude” especially when it comes down to both her men and towards those who hurt them. She speaks her mind and is a surprising little chit who says it as it is. Jessi is stubborn and very protective and doesn’t like to be bossed around, except in the bedroom by her Dom. She’s the keystone in the relationship which kept the trio together and brought them back together. She also never gave up on them even if they were the ones who left her. I’m still not sure how to place her because of her love for both men but I do feel like she loves Mick much more because of their long history and Adam is there because she needed the Dom for both her and Mick.

As for the first hero, Adam, I first thought he was the Beta in this trio because of his emotional awareness and how he wears his emotions on his sleeves, but as it turned out he’s the Dom in the bedroom and is very possessive. This means he’s also bossy and will do anything to get it his way, even irritating people to it. On the other side he’s very neat and clean and can be vulnerable when he thinks about he past wrongs to the people he loves. He definitely has the Alpha attitude if you look at it closely, he just hides it very well. He’s more on the needy side of the relationship and more open in sharing  his feelings with Jessi and Mick. His love is more on the sex side – the physical – and I see that he loves Mick more because they were best friends.

Mick on the other hand has tattoos and has this bad boy look which I initially thought made him the Alpha male with his strength and muscled bode, but he’s more on the Beta side. He’s a Sub and less controlling than Adam and very vulnerable. He had trouble accepting his bisexuality and dealing with his family on this taboo which lead him to leave in the first place but he has grown to realize that he couldn’t live without Jessi and Adam in his life. He’s the referee in the relationship but also the dependant. He’s known Jessi the longest, since childhood, and has a much deeper bond with her than Adam does so his love is more on the friends side of love, that turned into love-love, if you understand it. But with Jessi, I saw it as more of the true m/f love relationship.

What I liked was there was no overarching drama and huge misunderstanding. It was plain and simple and love all around. The main characters and secondary characters were great. Jessi’s parents were the most lovable parents around. Duke and Asa (from the previous books) were very intriguing and I’ll likely be reading their stories. I liked that we got POVs of all three characters within the chapters and got to understand each of their history and feelings towards each other. I also liked that we got to know how Jessi, Adam, and Mick changed from the past to the present and how they felt during those times they were separated. Their progress was a bit quick but I loved that they each had to reconnect with each other again, and what almost felt like a re-introduction.

What I had problems with was the pacing. How the book started, how fast they all seemed to accept what happened in the past, and just how quickly they just got back together. Like there was some tension and uncomfortable moments but I felt like there should have been some time to work things through and ease their way back together than just jumping right onto the wagon no matter how much they desired being together. Yes it’s going back to the there’s no drama bit, but I felt issues weren’t addressed, and it was just a bit unrealistic without more difficulties. It also felt like I was just thrown into the story right in the middle of things. It as as if I started off from a cliffhanger and I had to read the previous stories to get it.

It was also very difficult, for me personally, because with Coming Back at points I would just want Jessi and Mick together, or Jessi and Adam, or Mick and Adam! For this book I just wanted one story with two people! Three makes it hard! A third wheel! When there’s romances with two people and I’m got invested and then the third came in….the fire died for me. I had to change gears and prepare for the other character’s thoughts and introspection of the relationship. It just messes with my romance. Just something personal.

So, my overall impression is that I might have to read the previous stories to understand Mick in those books to really have a full on feel and comprehension of his story in this book. Although I wasn’t very connected to any of the characters I really did enjoy the story and definitely enjoyed the sex. It isn’t that I don’t like ménage à trois romances, I just haven’t read that many, and for Coming Back I think I would have liked to see a couple instead of the trio.

Grade: C+

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

Review: Winter Wonderland by Heidi Cullinan

Karen’s Review of Winter Wonderland by Heidi Cullinan
Contemporary m/m romance published by Samhain Publishing on November 10, 2015

Winter WonderlandPaul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex.

No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice.

Well, reading a Christmas book while on holiday in the South of France may not sound like a great idea, but weather aside, lying on a beach was at lest as good as reading this by a roaring fire – which would really be its natural habitat.

I’ve never read anything by Heidi Cullinan before, for some reason I felt that her books would be really angsty and tear your heart out-y, but this was not. This is total feel good seasonal fluff.

Kyle, well he camps his queer up for the audience, he’s been seen as a kid his whole life as well, and can’t seem to break through that barrier. Yet as a character he is quite well rounded, his love for his sister and family and how he cares for the people he looks after is just snarky enough to stop being nauseating. I found the campy toppy thing to be quite a superficial twist though, and would have liked to see him become a little less of a caricature.

Paul, again there is this very simple switch that goes on from manly bear to ‘likes to be bossed’ and for me, it just was too simple. I wanted to feel a little more depth.

Kyle’s family was the highlight for me, close knit and caring, but again lacking in nay real depth.

The plot is straightforward, this is part of a series (I haven’t read the others) and apart from cameos from the main characters of the previous books is pretty much about the relationship between Kyle and Paul. Overall there was nothing offensive about this, but there was nothing that grabbed me either, I read it 3 weeks* ago, and I’m struggling to remember it.

Grade: C+

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

*Editor’s note: this is my bad, Karen sent in the review on August 30th. Just a frame of reference.

Guest Review: Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

Ana’s Review of Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip
Historical fiction released by Kensington on November 25, 2014

Secret of a Thousand BeautiesSet against the vibrant and intrigue-laden backdrop of 1930s China, Mingmei Yip’s enthralling novel explores one woman’s defiant pursuit of independence.

Spring Swallow was promised in marriage while still in her mother’s belly. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow is ordered to become a ghost bride to appease his spirit. Under her in-laws’ protection, she will be little more than a servant, unable to know real love or bear children. Refusing to accept her fate as a “bad-luck woman,” Spring Swallow flees on her wedding day.

In the city of Soochow, Spring Swallow joins a community of renowned embroiderers. The women work for Aunty Peony, whose exquisite stitching once earned her the Emperor’s love. But when Aunty Peony agrees to replicate a famous painting–a lucrative assignment that will take a year to complete–betrayal and jealousy emerges within the group. Spring Swallow becomes entangled in each woman’s story of heartbreak, even while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary. On a journey that leads from the remote hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on the secret techniques learned from Aunty Peony and her own indomitable strength, determined to forge a life that is truly her own.

Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip is the story of Spring Swallow a young Chinese woman who comes of age in the tumultuous 1930’s in and around Peking. Chinese culture is in flux, Western missionaries are ever more present, revolutionaries are stirring in the mountains and universities but old cultural traditions and social norms are not yet forgotten. I requested this historical novel (it is not a historical romance) because I was intrigued by the setting, and time period. Last year when I struggled to find historical romances to enjoy, I found the most success the farther I moved from England and the Regency. Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace and Jenn Bennett’s Bitter Spirits were two of my favorite books last year.

Spring Swallow had the great misfortune of losing her parents while just a child. She is left to be indifferently raised by an aunt, who considers her a burden and a source of bad luck. Mean Aunt as Spring Swallow refers to her throughout the novel forces Spring Swallow to agree to marry a ghost at the age of 17. Her ghost groom was her mother’s best-friend’s stillborn son. The arrangement would essentially transfer Spring Swallow to her ghost husband’s family, where Spring Swallow would then owe them a lifetime of celibate servitude. Although she endures the ceremony, she refuses to accept a farcical pseudo-marriage as her lot in life, and flees her village. Hungry and homeless she is befriended by young secretive woman, named Purple who brings her into the home of her teacher Aunt Peony. Aunt Peony is a master embroider. Aunt Peony who runs an embroidery workshop from her solitary country home. Aunt Peony’s household is filled with other ill-fated young women. While Aunt Peony’s manner is harsh, and she is secretive about her history, she nevertheless teaches these young women skills and provides them a home where they can live without prostituting their bodies. For a short-time Spring Swallow find a home, among these women, before greed, secrets & men tear them apart.

The novel is best described as melodrama. The novel covers a roughly 3 years span in the life of these young women. We learn of their tarnished pasts, small diversions, faithless lovers, dashed dreams and tragic choices as they come and go from Spring Swallow’s life. We follow Spring Swallow from her days as a timid runaway bride to a ghost, to her romance with revolutionary and her eventual contentment in an unconventional marriage with a unlikely groom.

While the novel is a treasure trove of information about the everyday life of villagers and poor city dwellers in 1930’s China and provided a rich history lesson about the often forgotten artisans who created China’s gorgeous embroidery, the story relied to often on coincidence & chance. Too often Spring Swallow learns life changing news by running into just the right person or reading just the right newspaper. I grew dismayed that not one Chinese character in the novel treated Spring Swallow with disinterested kindness or compassion. Everyone including her beloved revolutionary husband Shang Feng, always wanted something from her or betrayed and abandoned her. The only beacons of generosity and love in the novel are a pair of Catholic missionaries, Father Edwin and Ryan McFarland, who take Spring Swallow in when she most needs them. Spring Swallow is heroic in that she survives a life that killed so many of her contemporaries, and that she is able to make opportunist choices of survival without harming others. In the end when her sacrifice, loyalty and tenacity are rewarded with safety, security and recognition, her story feels like a uncomfortable & self-congratulatory fable about compromise.

Grade: C-

I received a review copy of Yip’s Secret of a Thousand Beauties from Kensington Books via NetGalley.

You can buy a copy here.

Review: A Bride for the Season by Jennifer Delamere

Cheryl’s Review of A Bride for the Season by Jennifer Delamere
Historical Romance released by Forever on November 25, 2014

A Bride for the SeasonLucinda Cardington doesn’t care that she is close to being “on the shelf.” She has more serious pursuits in mind and is perfectly content to leave dreams of romance to silly young ladies like her sister. Yet when her sister places herself in a compromising situation with London’s most scandalous bachelor, the entire family’s reputation comes perilously close to ruin. Suddenly Lucinda is in the limelight . . . and in need of a husband.

James Simpson’s rakish ways have finally caught up with him. Snared in a scandal that for once is not his doing, he is forced to do the honorable thing and offer marriage to the lady. But her father won’t agree to a dowry unless James can also find a suitable husband for the lady’s elder sister-quiet, reserved Lucinda Cardington. As James gets to know the vibrant, charming, and passionate woman behind Lucinda’s shy exterior, he comes to the distressing realization that he doesn’t want her in anyone’s arms but his own . . .

The third book in The Love’s Grace Series, A Bride for the Season is a sweet romance with strong Christian themes. Delamere captured the Victorian setting beautifully. The story was well paced from the start and never lost momentum.

Lucinda considers herself a godly woman, one who hopes to live a solitary life in the future, enabling her to focus on her faith and her charitable work. However, she often participates in what would be considered scandalous behavior for the time period. She goes on unchaperoned outings with her sister’s husband to be, unconcerned about proprieties especially if he is indulging her love of photography. Lucinda even shares a kiss with her brother-in-law to be. In other stories, I would not find this bothersome, but with a heroine that is often described as godly and upstanding, I find it difficult to reconcile her behavior.

James will one day inherit a property from his great aunt which will require a substantial amount of money to maintain. It is for this reason his marriage to Emily, Lucinda’s younger sister, must be profitable. Wanting his eldest daughter married, Lucinda’s father makes Emily’s dowry contingent upon James finding a suitable husband for Lucinda. It is for this reason he searches out Lucinda and often tempts her with an opportunity to put her photography knowledge to use.

As these two characters become friends, their attraction for each other grows. There are several touching moments where James encourages Lucinda to stand up for herself. But in the end, there were just too many things that didn’t work for me, the ending especially.

Grade: C

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

TBR Challenge Review: Afterburn by Sylvia Day

Afterburn by Sylvia Day
Contemporary erotic romance novella released by Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin on August 15, 2013

The realization that Jax still affected me so strongly was a jagged pill to swallow. He’d only been part of my life for five short weeks two years ago. But now he was back. Walking into a deal I’d worked hard to close. And God, he was magnificent. His eyes were a brown so dark they were nearly black. Thickly lashed, they were relentless in their intensity. Had I really thought they were soft and warm? There was nothing soft about Jackson Rutledge. He was a hard and jaded man, cut from a ruthless cloth.

In that moment I understood how badly I wanted to unravel the mystery of Jax. Bad enough that I didn’t mind how much it was going to cost me…

I know – we’re all shocked I’m writing a review. If my life stops being a death factory, we can expect more. (And what a contradictory phrase right?) That’s actually kind of how I feel about Afterburn. Meaning, I don’t know what I feel about it precisely. I think I liked it overall, but I can’t say that with confidence, and I’ve been waffling about the grade since I read it.

Gianna Rossi is a kickass heroine. She’s twenty-five, which I appreciate. (I’m so not into NA.) But also, because it makes sense for someone who has been working to put herself through school. Beyond that, she knows what she wants, and goes for it. Even if she isn’t fearless internally, she puts that face forward, which is what I think all of us would like to do. I love that Ms. Day gave her a large, and very supportive family. She’s determined and I really liked her… until midway through then I didn’t really get her. You’ll see why.

Jackson Rutledge is a really interesting hero. In fact, I don’t know (yet) that he really is the hero. By which I mean, I question if he is “heroic” or “proper hero material.” He’s in love with Gia, but he broke up with her by dropping off the face of the earth without a word to her. Also, he’s a self acknowledged asshole. Which, kudos for being self aware. That isn’t something many romance heroes are, but I haven’t seen him as a good guy. He appears to be protecting Gianna by making decisions for her, so in a way he’s an alphahole hero. He’s twenty-nine, and of course in the vein of erotic romances these days, wildly successful. In this case, I find it more believable because it’s family money. And politics. That’s where nepotism breeds.

As you see, I’m conflicted about this book. I like the writing, and I got into it, even though it’s first person. I really think Sylvia Day does a great job with this tense, despite my generally avoiding it. (I really liked her historicals, which is why I read and read her contemporaries.) My issue here is, I had thought this was an awesome story, and basically the Crossfire books made good… but then something changed, and I felt that maybe Gia and Jax were really meant to be apart, despite having loved (or even loving) each other. There’s something not entirely healthy about the relationship that made me uncomfortable.

I think I’m not convinced as to why Gia wants to get back together with Jax. She’s decided he’s bad for her and she’s moving on, and she’ll have some revenge/goodbye sex… but then she decides she wants a relationship. I felt I missed a step there. For Jax, Gia is the one who got away, and his family machinations have put her in his path. I think the fact that both don’t think this relationship can last is what bothers me. I don’t see that as a romance.

I believe Aftershock will conclude this story arc (and I really hope so). I expect I’ll re-read Afterburn at that point. I re-read when Gia and Jax meet again and hook up in Afterburn for this review, but I think that’s enough for me until I know there will be closure.

While those are my issues, and they seem numerous, I will say I really enjoy Sylvia Day’s writing style, and her characters. They’re so dynamic, and the story is so engaging. I wish more authors wrote like this, and wrote characters like this. It’s the story – as in the content that rubs me the wrong way, specifically the romantic relationships. The interpersonal ones between characters is great. I love that the hero and heroine have friends and family. (Although her heroes are generally loners.) It’s the question of whether or not the hero and heroine are good together and should be together that make the questions start swirling in my head.

For this novella, if you like Sylvia Day, I recommend you read it. In fact, I expect many of you already have. However, if you like contemporary erotic romances generally… I’d probably suggest waiting if you can until the second (and final?) part is out. I do look forward to that eagerly.

Grade: C

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

Guest Review: Beyond Valor by Lindsay McKenna

James’s Review

Beyond Valor by Lindsay McKenna
Romantic Suspense released by Harlequin on January 22, 2013

Luke Collier knows his duty. A marine corps combat medic, his job is to save lives-not satisfy his own desires. Megan Trayhern is his corpsman, but the beautiful redhead can’t be anything more. Luke has already given his heart once, and he understands the toll the corps can take on a woman, on a romance…on a marriage.

Megan has her own mission. While she doles out medical care in the nearby village, she’s also gathering intel. It’s a dangerous assignment that the onetime military brat undertakes without fear. She needs to focus-and be careful-and the growing passion she feels for Luke can only put them both at risk. Honor binds them both, but the heart gives its own orders….

I was immediately interested in this story, a continuation of the Black Jaguar Squadron storyline. This book takes us to the mountains of Afghanistan, and we meet two Navy Corpsmen assigned to a combat command. They soon discover they are kindred spirits mutually haunting the other’s thoughts. The persistent danger only draws them closer together.

Megan Trayhern is a demure redhead who arrives at a Marine base near a small village. She is trained to speak the local language Pashto and gather information from the local women. A trained medic, she is eager to do her duty. She also has an unwavering desire to help people in need. After college she joined the military to fulfill her families’ tradition of service. Upon arriving at the base she is looked at as a liability by her commanding officer. Soon she changes his opinion by gaining the friendship of the village leaders’ wife, and gaining valuable knowledge of the Taliban fighters.

Luke Collier is a seasoned combat medic. He doesn’t think twice about going out on another patrol, or putting himself between a wounded Marine and enemy fire. He shares the same unwavering desire to help people with Megan. Until she had arrived he was the only medic in the area. He’s well-liked by anyone who meets him. Still he has a slightly heavy heart, since his career in the military destroyed his marriage. He prides himself as a ‘scrounger’, which means he get hard to find items better than anyone.

Lindsay McKenna doesn’t overload the front chapters with backstory. There are Black Jaguar Squadron characters in the periphery of the narrative, but this book easily stands alone. Megan and Luke rarely interact with the Marines at the base. The most significant secondary character is Mina the wife of the village leader. She is almost too courageous to be believed, even considering her rare formal education. She is unexpectedly open to Megan’s progressive suggestions.

Megan doesn’t have much time to get used to her surroundings. During the night the base comes under attack. She has to stand there in terror until Luke comes back to check on her. His calmness is soothing to her and deepens her growing attraction to him. When they aren’t in danger they mostly talk about their common views of duty and war. Their single-mindedness is only thing that takes me out of the story. Navy Corpsmen are the salt of the earth. I know this from my 5 years in the Marines. Many of them were my close friends. One thing they didn’t do was sit around all day lamenting their place in the world.

The action definitely wanes in the middle chapters as their relationship builds. Megan does have to watch as Luke goes out on patrol, but he isn’t gone long. After an attack in the village they travel with wounded children to a large Air Force Base. The carnage makes Megan retch in horror. She’s surprised to learn that Luke has the same problem. He asks her to spend the night off-base, but don’t get the opportunity until the end of the book. There are constantly hindered by the military’s rules against fraternization.

In my opinion this book suffers from the matter-of-fact dialogue from all the characters. I can forgive this of Mina, since English is not her first language. I can’t always forgive it from Megan and Luke. They come off a little wooden. This could’ve been offset by some raucous secondary Marine characters, and made the story more interesting. The lack of contrast is lessened when the action picks up. I don’t want to include spoilers, but I’ll say someone is put in a dangerous situation. The situation is then mitigated in a blazingly fast fashion that makes you forget it soon afterwards.

Our lovers finally find themselves away from prying eyes at an off-base apartment. Exhausted from their trials they put sleep ahead of lovemaking. I know it’s realistic, but it’s boring. They could’ve and should’ve tried harder. They’re romantic tension had been building for months at this point, and the first time they are truly alone they shower and pass out. Finally the next morning they (and the reader) wake up and embrace each other. The story ends with them heading back into the fold together.

Their concern for each other and everyone else does help the narrative along. I would have liked to see more in their hearts than just their aspirations. They look at each other in brief moments without allowing fantasy to enter their thoughts. This might go along with their practical nature, but I don’t think it was intended that way. Without the constant danger and taboo of their relationship, I wonder if they would be interested in each other at all. Megan and Luke could’ve run into each other on Main St. USA, and after looking each other over kept walking by.

Still they are in this situation. They go thru it together courageously devoid of malice. They come out of it with a few scratches and in love. They promise to marry after serving their country. It would be interesting to check in on them a few years down the road. I’d like to see if their love lasts after the bombs stop exploding around them.

Grade: C

You can read an excerpt here, or buy a copy here.