Friday, February 19, 2016

Short Takes for a Short Week

It's a short work week here in the U. S. (Monday was our combined Presidents' Day holiday), so here's one short post from me. I've been reading up a storm, and have a bunch of recommendations for new books from RNFF favorites, all later books in ongoing series:

Collateral damage. That's what well-heeled New York philanthropist Arden MacCarren is after her investment banker father and brother are arrested for masterminding a massive Ponzi scheme. Though she knew nothing about the fraud, Arden's left dealing with the fallout, despite being known as the weak one in the family. Looking for a safe space to hide from all the negative publicity, not to mention find a technique that will help her fight back against her increasingly debilitating panic attacks, Arden enrolls in a private drawing class. Having hot sex with the class's tattooed male model, a former marine, is just a way to help them both escape for a few moments from their own emotional wounds. Or is it? A story of two wounded warriors, both helping one another remember the fighter inside.

Best lines:
      "You saved me," he said. "They saved my life so many times, but you saved me, too."
     "I'm in good company, then," she said. When he looked back at her, one eyebrow raised, she added, "You taught me how."

Full-length books in Buchman's Night Stalkers series follow a predictable, yet still entertaining pattern: two heterosexual coworkers in the Army's SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment Airborne) helicopter aviation support group strike sparks of one another during an initial action-packed mission, grow closer, spend a leave together, then return for one major mission that allows them to overcome any last doubts either may have had about making a long-term commitment. Our protagonists here are of the opposites-attract variety: Captain Justin Roberts, a sweet-talking Texan who can pilot a helicopter as easily as he can gentle a horse, and fellow Captain Kara Moretti, a mouthy Italian from Brooklyn who pilots the hottest RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft) in this woman's army. Yet despite their differences, Kara and Justin keep finishing each other's sentences, insulting and wisecracking their way through stressful situations while silently in mutual awe of each others' skills. Lots of cool tech, high-stakes action scenes, homages to (rather than stereotypes of) ethnic roots, and of course, heartfelt respect for competent military women.

Best lines:
"Families normally didn't happen in the same unit of the military. Hell, sex wasn't supposed to happen in the military at all—as if that made one lick of sense. Come on, people, corral a clue. Why would a career guy want anything less than a soldier babe?"

This follow-up to Maher's Rolling in the Deep, in which two coworkers won millions in the lottery, features the brother and friend of the lucky winners. Mexican-Italian Tony Lopez was supposed to be the successful sibling of the family, taking care of his younger brother and mother after his father passed, earning a business degree and running a successful store in his Queens neighborhood, marrying his childhood friend and parenting two beautiful daughters. But one divorce, one failing business, and one brother striking it rich later, and Tony is a man on the verge. Especially when the best friend of his brother's new love walks in the room. Cuban-European Beth Cody, single, pregnant, and happy to be both chalks up her raging lust for Tony to pregnancy hormones. But after the one-week friends-with-benefits deal she negotiates with him heads into deeper territory than she bargained for, can Beth reconcile her need for independence with her growing feelings for Tony? And that's not just a sell-copy tagline question, but a real issue, both for Beth and for readers wondering just how to keep their own sense of self while committing to a romantic relationship with another.

Best lines:
     "No doubt you think you've got this all handled, Elisabeth."
     That stops me. She never calls me by my full name.
     "You think, Oh, hey, I don't need a man. And guess what? You're actually right about that."
     I raise an eyebrow. It's not exactly what I was expecting her to say. I always assumed she disapproved of my lifestyle, that she wished I would settle down already.
     "You're a confident, competent woman," she says. "Don't think I haven't seen that. and admired it. You take excellent care of yourself and you make your own path. I love that about you, Beth."
     "Thanks, Mom, but—"
     "And I'll say it again. You don't need a man."
     "That's what I—"
     "But you are allowed to want one," she interrupts. "That's not against the rules, you know."

With so many historical romance authors dipping a toe in contemporary waters of late, it's a delight to find an author experimenting in the other direction. In Tempted, contemporary author Molly O'Keefe gives us a Western romance set in post Civil-War period, with protagonists attempting to figure out how to make a life for themselves in the wake of wartime trauma and upheaval. After seeing her once-abused sister now happily married (in book #1 of O'Keefe's Into the Wild series), Annie Denoe chooses to take her future into her own hands, moving to Denver and taking a nursing job with Dr. Madison. Luckily for her (though not so happily for him), the handsome doctor is nursing an addiction that often leaves him unable to do his job, a gap which Anne's medical training at the side of her doctor father leaves her all too ready to fill. When Madison offers marriage to protect her reputation, Anne finds his kiss far more interesting than his proposal. It's her best friend, army veteran Steven Baywood, though, not Dr. Madison, with whom Anne wants to explore her newfound interest in the carnal side of life. But Steven's war experiences, especially his time in the notorious Andersonville prison, have left him unable to be touched—emotionally and physically.

Best lines:
     "Do you love him?" Steven asked in a whisper.
     "I don't think that's as necessary an ingredient as my mother would have me believe. Do all those men love the girls at Delilah's?" [the local whorehouse]
     "Why are you doing this?"
     "Why not? Why shouldn't I?"
     "Anne, this is . . . shocking."
     "Well, maybe I am shocking."
     I am. I am very shocking, and no one ever noticed because I was so busy being invisible. And I love you. I love you so much and it hurts to be caught like this. Stuck like this with you. If I don't change things, they will never change.
     I will be like this forever with you.
     "Marriage is a very permanent step to satisfy curiosity," he said.
     "Are you suggesting another arrangement?"
     "Do you understand what you are asking?"
     "Yes . . . . I am asking you, if my marrying Dr. Madison in order to satisfy my curiosity about sex bothers you so much—are you volunteering to be my lover?"

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting books, but I have to ask, because I don't understand - What's a Cuban-European? I know Cuban people and European people, but I've never met anybody defining himself or herself as 'Cuban-European'.