These are three of my latest reads, A Christmas to Remember and Hard As You Can were both courtesy of the NJ Romance Writer’s conference. Romance is not my go-to genre for reading but I do read it sometimes, usually romantic suspense.
A Christmas to Remember is a collection of short stories that are Christmas themed and are written by popular romance authors. These were fun and quick to read, something to put the reader in the Christmas spirit. I feel like Kristen Ashley’s story really doesn’t work as a stand alone, you need to have read some other books set in her universe to “get” the whole story. I have read one of her other books and so pretty quickly had a handle on the characters, the relationships and the world they inhabited. My favorite of the stories was Molly Cannon’s Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas. I liked the character development, evident even in a short story and the plot was interesting. A variety of styles of romance in one collection, a little something for everyone!
Hard as You Can is actually the 2nd in a series and I will admit that I did not read the first. The story is set in a dark universe of gangs and organized crime, strip clubs and sex slavery. The protagonist is trapped in a life due to circumstances beyond her control and the damaged ex-special forces hero swoops in to save the day, not initially but eventually. This had a fast paced plot, with building tension along with the budding romance. Sexual situations, torture and abuse are all warnings for this book. Good escapist read.
Brass in Pocket was the monthly read over at the English Kindle Mystery Club on Goodreads. I nominated it because the title and the concept, references to late 70’s music interested me, having lived through them. The protagonist, Inspector Drake, is an intriguing character with some time of OCD condition. His partner just seems to muddle along ignoring it for the most part. The book starts off with a bang, and a double homicide of two police officers on a lonely Welsh road. The pace rushes along from that point on slowing occasionally. I thought that it felt a little rushed rather than fast paced. I also found that the relationship between Inspector Drake and his family was uneven, there seemed to be tension and then there wasn’t with no real explanation. Perhaps this is because this is the first in a series and the family relationships will be expanded upon later.
My biggest issue with the book actually is the hook that got me to buy it, the songs. There are multiple references to the songs in relation to the murders but the lyrics or even lines from the song that the characters are reading are not in the book. I guess this was due to some copyright laws, but it was immensely distracting for me. Every time they mentioned a song I wanted to stop reading and google the lyrics, so it pulled me out of the story. Overall, I liked Inspector Drake and the mystery plot itself, but some of the other characters and family relationships were weak and the book seemed short and rushed. I am not sure if I will read another.