Book Review: Last Hope by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick

I didn’t review the middle two books in the Hitman series, partially because I wanted to take a little break and partially because I couldn’t find words that didn’t sound much like the first one. Also, I’d reviewed the 3rd one before on Goodreads. I will say that I absolutely loved these books, and this one was just as amazing, even though it pulls us out of the Russian mafia world and into a mission of Rafael Mendoza, a minor character from Last Breath. Considering the, uh, large and unique problem Rafael has, I didn’t feel I could let this one go without a write-up.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman blackmailed into being a mule to save her best friend finds herself at the hands and protection of a mercenary who needs the documents she’s been delivering. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Damsel in Distress
Ava is trying to save her best friend who is being held hostage by the guy she’s dating by delivering documents to various sources for reasons unknown to her. All she knows is that she doesn’t want to see her friend dead and will do anything to keep her safe. Rafael needs those documents to save his own friend, and so he and some fellow mercenaries are carefully watching Ava, trying to get at what she’s carrying. This spying leads to Rafael developing an attraction to Ava, one he knows will not be returned (because they always know, right?)

Jungle Fever
When things go haywire while Ava is being transferred and the plane goes down in the jungle, Ava and Rafe find themselves alone in the wild. You’d think that being unshowered and gross in the middle of nowhere would be a good lust deterrent, but it has the opposite effect. And while the beginning of the story was slow for me, this is where it picked up steam.


His Other Weapon
I feel like I shouldn’t laugh at Rafael’s conflict, because in the context of the story, it seems serious. His mother was insane and brainwashed him into some neuroses, and a freak incident with a girl in high school scared him into never having sex. Yes, Rafael is a virgin hero, having abstained from sexy times because of the massive size of his package. He’s afraid he’ll hurt or kill anyone he tries to have sex with, so it’s just easier to not even go there.

The Monster is Attacking Her City
Even with the serious themes of the book, it was hilarious. First of all, Rafe’s penis is pretty much a side character and is referred to as Godzilla through the whole book.


There’s some conflict between Rafe and Ava, but there’s more between Ava and Godzilla, considering she’s determined to….tame that beast? I don’t even know what a good metaphor for this would be. Basically, she’s determined to take his V card despite that the fact that he’s scared he’s going to hurt her. I mean, to be fair, once they actually described the thing, it wasn’t so surprising that one might be intimidated. But Ava is nothing if not determined.

Later things get really absurd when Ava has symbolic dreams about Godzilla…the actual monster, though representative of Rafe for sure.

Sexy, Scary, Silly
I thought this was such a fun and hilarious read. Sure, there was some danger and violence and sad times. There was also a lot of the lovey emotions I live for when I read a romance novel. But I totally dug that this book didn’t take itself too seriously. The characters were fun and snarky, and yet for as ridiculous as some of the plot was, it’s romance game was on point.

The Romance Factor
I don’t care if it’s repetitive and silly…I love a situation where the hero and heroine, despite the fact that everything they do with each other says differently, believe that the other doesn’t want to be with them or could ever love them. Rafe plays the “I’m not good enough for her” card, and Ava just thinks she could never be what Rafe would want in a woman. The way the novel is crafted makes this whole exchange swoony rather than annoying. 5/5

The Steam Factor
The frequency of sex in this book seemed to be slightly less than the others in the series, but come on. You can’t have a virgin hero with a small torpedo in his pants and not have some serious explosions. 6/5

Final Thoughts
Though I would have loved this book even if I’d read it, the audiobook experience for this whole series was amazing. Kasha Kensington and Iggy Toma narrate and holy cow…it was like butter on my ears. To be honest, I’m sad that I’m done with the series, because I love this world, these characters, those narrators…pretty much everything. I’ll have to check them out again because these are definitely high up on my favorite list.

Book Review: To Steal a Heart by K.C. Bateman

I’d originally gave this one a pass because my reading list was so long, but when NetGalley specifically recommended it to me, I went ahead and requested it. NetGalley seems to know me so well.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A spymaster buys a thief at an auction, but instead of wanting her viriginity, he wants him to help her break an important political figure out of prison. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

From Bad to Slightly Less Bad
Marianne is in a bad position, having to do everything her cousin wants her to do, as he’s the caretaker of her and her sister since they’re parents died. He’s also a horrible, disgusting person. But Marianne has no choice if she wants to keep her sister out of his hands. So when Nicolas Valette comes and buys both of them in an auction, you’d think Marianne would feel better about the whole thing, right?


Not so much. Because Nicolas, while not abusive, has his own agenda, and Marianne has to play her part in it if she wants to see her sister again. They hide the sister away and Nic takes her to a deserted country home where he trains her on everything she needs to make a prison escape.

Never Give Up
Marianne already has great thieving and balance skills, as well as knife throwing skills, things that got her a position as a performer in a local circus troupe. She’s a cool character with some unique qualities and a definite dose of bad assery. I loved that no matter how hard Nic pushed her while training her and no matter how much pain she was in, she never gave in, determined to come out on top.

All Work & No Play
Nic as a hero works on all sorts of levels. He’s definitely a take charge kind of guy, but in this case, his priority isn’t about protecting the heroine, it’s about a politically driven prison breakout, and he needs Marianne to help him. While this seems like a douche move, Nic is honest from the beginning that his priority is with his role as spy and in getting revenge for the murder of his brother. At the beginning of their story, he truly doesn’t have many feelings for Marianne, other than finding her competent and interesting. And he does push her. Hard. Though there are a few scenes where he seems to be deliberately hurting her and setting her up for failure, it’s not a hard leap to understand that he’s doing it to prepare her for a dangerous mission.


Let’s Talk Politics
I loved the action scenes in this one. Marianne is a knife thrower, and every time she throws one, I felt the intensity of it. There is also a lot of political intrigue in the book. I usually find politics boring, but I didn’t mind it so much in this one, as it was easy to  absorb them as part of the story and still focus on the romance.

The Romance Factor
Though the story unfolds over only a week, the romance doesn’t feel forced or too fast. It’s believable that two people thrown into a stressful and dangerous situation would have high emotions that would lead to strong feelings. Marianne gets a strong case of lust to start out with, but at some point, the romance becomes less about attraction and more about mutual respect and admiration, especially on Nic’s part when he realizes just how strong Marianne is. There’s part of the story where they “know” they can’t be together. Even though you expect that the romance will have the HEA, sometimes the emotions are such that you start to wonder. 4/5

The Steam Factor
While there’s a lot of buildup to Marianne and Nicolas getting together, there are surprisingly few sex scenes and the ones that happened were fairly tame. The hottest scene was when Nic was telling Marianne what he wanted to do to her once they weren’t imprisoned Somehow, the verbal hotness got through the context of nasty prison cell. 3/5

Final Thoughts
I couldn’t put this book down. It was well-written, kept me on the edge of my seat, and was sensual and sweet in a way that didn’t cross into outright erotica, and though I like erotica, I appreciated the lack of it in this book. After all, they’re on a dangerous mission. If they stopped every five minutes to get their groove on, I would have felt cheated. The book also hints at some of the future pairings we’ll get to see in this series, so yeah…I think I’m hooked and on board for the rest of this one.

The Scam (Fox & O’Hare #4) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

It’s always a good day when NetGalley asks me if I want to request the newest Fox and O’Hare book. Standard answer: hell yes, NetGalley…I would love to request that book!


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A con artist and an FBI agent team up to take down a casino owner in Vegas and a mob boss in Hawaii using the same scam. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
Though light on romance, these books are so much fun to read. The banter is quick and the story kept me hooked. I was asked a few times what I was laughing about, but I can never do these books justice when I try to explain just how awesome they are.

Kate is a totally kick ass heroine, and I appreciate that while she admits her attraction to Nick, she doesn’t spend the entire time waiting to jump him. In fact, throughout this series, she has several chances and declines most of them. This foreplay is so good and a little frustrating, but at the same time, it’s true to her character.


As always, the team they bring in for their hijinks is awesome, and I especially liked Kate’s dad in this one. He’s fearless and funny. And the action…it’s so good. It’s like watching a fun movie, but I get to pick the actors and see the scenes as fast or slow or as detailed as I want to, and since the authors are great at detail (and I have a vivid imagination), each book is a great experience.

There was also a subtle Millennium Trilogy reference that I was kind of excited to get. Because I’m a nerd.

The Romance Factor
In previous books, the romance was downplayed in favor of the action and the multi layered missions. Though romance still isn’t the strongest part of this series, we definitely get a little more insight into how Nick and Kate feel about each other. I think the fact that these tidbits are so few and far between make them that much more effective. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The sexual tension is high, but it’s rarely talked about. It’s more of a known concept. However, there was some kissing and groping and inferred sexy times, so we’re definitely getting warmer. 3/5


Final Thoughts
There are few things more frustrating than a cliffhanger, so while I loved the book, I spent a few minutes swearing about it when I finished. My emotions are being toyed with, and all I can do is play the waiting game until the next one comes out.

Book Review: The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I may have been a little bit hard on the first book in the series, but I loved this one. I’ve failed at keeping up with the Stephanie Plum books, but I’m thinking this might be my current Evanovich go-to, though it also reminds me that I really do want to go back and read all of the Plum series again (and catch up on the ones I haven’t read yet). So many series, not enough reading time!

The Chase (O'Hare and Fox, #2)The Chase by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first book in this series was okay, but it hadn’t been what I was expecting. Even so, I was excited to review this second book in the series through NetGalley. First books never quite hit the five star mark for me, but if I’m going to enjoy the series, I generally find a sweet spot in the second book. This one definitely gave me the sweet spot.

Kate O’Hare and Nick Fox are tasked with retrieving a piece of stolen art to return to its foreign owners. What could have been an easy job turns out to be a little more complicated due to the fact that the owner of the stolen art is a government big shot with his own ruthless security entourage and no conscience when it comes to taking what he wants. Kate and Nick bring together their group of talented misfits for another heist full of twists and turns in order to set things right.

As is the case with many second books, I felt there was a higher level of comfort and familiarity between the authors and the characters. The plot flowed easily, and the dialogue was amusing and quick. I liked Kate much more in this book than in the first one, but the characterization really shined when the rest of their group showed up to help with the heist.

I think part of my problem with the first one was that I was expecting a romance. Sure, there’s a little bit of sexual chemistry between Kate and Nick, but it’s taking a mini-van backseat to the action and the plot twists. I’m guessing the romance will be a slow burn over several novels, and I’m okay with that. Knowing what to expect lessens any disappointment over the lack of steam and kisses. The added humor throughout the book helped as well.

I hope Evanovich and Goldberg continue this series. It’s entertaining, and I want to see what happens next.

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