A New Worthy Romantic Suspense Book, A Super Adorable Christmas Romance & A Book That Was Forgettable

Going Dark by Monica McCarthy

four-stars

Going Dark (The Lost Platoon, #1)Though I haven’t read many romantic suspense novels, it’s one of my favorite sub-genres of romance. Going Dark sounded like the perfect book for me, and I couldn’t wait to get into it. Going Dark sets off with an explosive, albeit confusing prologue with a Navy SEAL’s mission in Russia going wrong. It’s a confusing prologue because you soon realize that the hero of the book isn’t who you think it is. So be warned, as the prologue and first chapter will most likely throw readers off. Despite the confusing start, the book is an addicting read with non-stop action and revelations. It’s exciting from start to finish, and will have readers salivating for more as you read through the chapters. At the center of Going Dark are two characters who are polar opposites of each other when it comes to political views, but who somehow fit together like a lock and a key. Annie, a newly minted PhD ecologist, is accompanying her boyfriend to Scotland to protest an oil-company. We soon find out that her boyfriend and his friends’ plans involve more than just peaceful protests, and take a dangerous turn. Thankfully for her, she’s thrown into the arms of Dan (Dean in reality), who is trying to fly under the radar after surviving the secret mission. Annie is very anti-military, pro-environment and is a vegetarian. Dean is a Southern military man with very staunch conservative beliefs. So you can imagine that these two don’t always mesh together. But they find a way to compromise, and becoming understanding of each others’ views throughout Going Dark. I found the inclusion of a couple with such differing views to be interesting, and also quite relevant given the current political climate. Their relationship definitely started with a lot of lust, but as the story progressed we get to see them connect emotionally as well. The chemistry between the two is smoking hot! Annie does come across as a little naive at times, but her passion for her work, and her resilience spoke to me. As for Dean himself, he’s just the kind of her I enjoy in romantic suspense novels, a little on the stoic side, but also sexy as hell. The secondary cast introduced in Going Dark were even more intriguing than the main characters, in my opinion, and I can’t wait to become acquainted with them as the series progresses. For now, I’m already a fan of the Lost Platoon series, and I’m excited to see what Monica McCarthy has up her sleeves for readers. Going Dark is a sexy, fun and fantastic start to what is sure to become an addicting series.

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

four-stars

Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, #4)Spence’s book! Guys, I was so excited to read Chasing Christmas Eve. I’ve been in love with this series from Jill Shalvis from the very start, and it only seems to be getting stronger by the book. Chasing Christmas Eve is the perfect heart-warming romance, and goes to prove that Jill Shalvis is a force to be reckoned with in the romance writing community. This is an author who knows how to write lovely characters who are just full of life. I was excited that this was Spence’s book because we get to be inside this genius workaholic’s brain, and he was just perfect. The man does not know how to balance his work life and his social life, and has been burned by love. I admired his intelligence, and especially loved what a gentleman he was. Even though he is a little stoic and on the quiet side, he’s a sweetheart who is ready to do almost anything for his friends and family. Colbie was the perfect match for him. She is escaping her family responsibilities (ones that she put on herself) in NY and has come to San Francisco to take a breather as well as to find inspiration for her book. She is a total darling herself, and I just wanted her to relax and find happiness for herself. Together, Spence and Colbie are too adorable for words. Their first meeting which involved a furry friend pushing Colbie into a fountain and Colbie’s reaction to it all set the tone for their relationship ย – funny, sweet and totally endearing. They are both wildly attracted to each other, and even though they know Colbie will be going back to NYC, they set off on a relationship that made my heart happy and had me melting into a puddle. All the banter, the swoons and the dates! *insert heart-eyes* I also love how significant of a role the secondary characters play in Jill Shalvis’ books. Here we especially get a lot of Elle, who is fiercely protective of Spence, and so doesn’t immediately take a liking to Colbie. They do eventually grow a friendship and Colbie is accepted into the main group of friends after some downs. We also get to see more bromance here which I can never be unhappy about. The San Francisco setting is as lovely as always in Chasing Christmas Eve. Honestly, this book is just perfect if you’re looking for something to lighten up your mood. I can’t recommend this series and this author enough if you love feel-good romances with charming characters, and breath-taking settings. Everyone deserves a good Jill Shalvis romance in their life!

Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

two-half-stars

Ready to Run (I Do, I Don't, #1)It’s no secret that I’m a huge Lauren Layne fangirl, but this year her books and I have not been getting along all that well. I held out hope that Ready to Run would change that for me, but unfortunately it didn’t. Ready to Run, while it possesses quintessential elements that make Layne’s novels very readable, is also bland in other ways. Perhaps the biggest issue for me here are the characters. Normally, this author writes compelling voices whose happily ever after you root for. Neither Jordan nor Luke were interesting characters. Instead, I found them to be incredibly irritating. I absolutely hated how pushy Jordan came across as. The way she kept forcing herself into Luke’s life in order to get him on her new Bachelor-esque show was disturbing and uncomfortable. Imagine if the genders were reversed here. You know you would 100% want the woman to get a restraining order … Other than that, I found Jordan to be self-absorbed, and a little too focused on her job. Luke isn’t a character who stands out any better, in my opinion. Layne is known for writing compelling and swoony heroes, but I found Luke to be the opposite of those. He is very grumpy, and closed-off, and I didn’t feel like enough time is spent in Ready to Run exploring his character, so he comes across as a boring jerk more than anything. The romance wasn’t any better. It’s a hate-to-love romance, what seems to be Lauren Layne’s obsession lately, but it’s not done all that well. There is no smooth transition from the hate to the love, and it’s lacking in the banter that make Lauren Layne’s romance so ship-worthy. In the end, I just don’t see this couple lasting beyond the ending, which isn’t a feeling you want to be left with when you finish a romance novel. All that being said, Ready to Run is still readable, and there were elements I liked such as the town setting. Overall though, Ready to Run is a miss, and I’m doubtful that I’ll be continuing on with this series. We’ll see!

I received all 3 books featured in this post as ARCs for review purposes. This does not affect my rating or review.

Have you read any of these? What are some of yourย recent favorite romance novels?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • That’s so disappointing Nick, I know how much you’ve enjoyed Lauren Layne’s books in the past. She seems like an authors who’s a fixture on most romance readers shelves. I’m not a fan of smothering characters whether they be male or female. It sounds as though you really enjoyed Going Dark, it sounds deliciously sexy. I’ll make note to pick up a copy for my dear mum, she loves men in uniform. Brilliant reviews Nick <3

    • I know. I keep reading them hoping they will get better like her old stuff was, but ugh.
      Your mum will love Going Dark! It’s deliciously sexy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I am so excited for Spence’s book! He was my favorite in the last book. Sorry about the Lauren Layne book. It sounded cute but your review has me thinking maybe no. I will definitely read her earlier stuff. Great reviews!

    • You will love Spence’s book! He’s a sweetheart! ๐Ÿ™‚
      Yeah going with LL’s earlier books is smart!

  • Chasing Christmas Eve is soooo good, isn’t it? I feel like this series just gets better and better. I loved Colbie and Spence so much, but I was actually so annoyed with Elle. I loved her in Accidentally on Purpose, so it was kind of weird to be so pissed at her. I understood her protectiveness towards Spence, but I didn’t feel like that gave her the right to be so awful to Colbie.

    • I agree! Yeah, she was a total fierce mama bear here. I got where she was coming from though.

  • I have Chasing Christmas and I was planning to read it for HoHoHo.. but I want it now ๐Ÿ™‚ Going Dark was a DNF for me, the heroine made me crazy.

    • HoHoHo is too far away!! So read it ASAP!
      Sorry you didn’t like Going Dark! ๐Ÿ™

  • I don’t know what it is about romantic suspense, but for some reason I’ve never really been all that into it as a sub-genre. But all the positive reviews you’ve been writing for RS books have me reconsidering! Going Dark sounds really intriguing, and I love a romance with strong secondary characters.

    Chasing Christmas Eve sounds adorable! I’ve been a teensy bit let down by Shalvis’ most recent releases (I thought I’d love Elle and Archer’s story but I only liked it), but this one seems much more up my alley. A genius-level hero is always great — especially when he’s a sweetheart, too.

    Geez, Ready to Run sounds disappointing…and also slightly problematic with the way Jordan tries to coerce Luke into joining her show. Seems like if I want to read more Lauren Layne books I should stick with her backlist!

    • I’ve only read a handful that I’ve liked. Elle Kenendy’s Killer Instincts series has ruined me for everything else. But this came close.

      Elle and Archer had a bit of a different story, but this one is great. It’s so cute, Danya. Definitely read it.

      YES! Read her Stiletto books!

  • Yay that Going dark is good cos it is up soon on my to read list ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Woo! I hope you like it!

  • You had me at romantic! I am super happy to see Shalvis has not let you down, and you have all the buzzwords I look for with respect to one of her books. This series is slowly winning over Lucky Harbor for me (and that was some place I wanted to live). AND I agree, everyone does deserve a Jill Shalvis romance in their life.

    • I definitely think this series is better than the Lucky Harbor books! Right? They are so cheerful and lovely!

  • I loved Lauren Layne’s Stiletto series and even Blurred Lines but I haven’t enjoyed any of her recent books that I’ve read, so I’ve been staying away. Sorry to hear that one didn’t work out for you. I have that Jill Shalvis book on my TBR because it sounds sooo good, and because I stock upon holiday romances to binge right before Christmas (like a crazy person). lol I hadn’t heard of the other one but I will definitely have to check it out. Great reviews, Nick!

    • Yes! Stiletto was amazing, and I did like Blurred Lines too. I think this year the only one I really liked was Walk of Shame.
      Haha! Reading these holiday books before Christmas sounds like a great idea.

  • Oh I am picking up that Monica McCarty book next so I’m thrilled you liked it. I have pretty much given up on Lauren Layne. I haven’t read one of hers I loved in over a year…

    • I’ll look for your review when you read it!!

  • Sorry to hear Lauren Layne’s latest didn’t work for you. The more you’re not enjoying the books the more I lose motivation to read her back catalogue and I know I’m missing out on good books as well. Hopefully, Lauren Layne’s writing will pick up soon (I feel like maybe less is more with her, everyone loves a prolific author but not if they aren’t putting out the good stuff). I really hate when characters are too pushy because it’s off putting and you don’t like them. There has to be a careful balance before they come across like a crazy person.

    I am glad to hear you enjoyed the latest Shalvis book, though. I love her romances and for some reason I’ve read nothing by her for a while. She does write good romance and whilst I’ve had a couple of ‘i like it but it’s not love’ with her books lately but she always leaves me smiling at the end. I’ll have to catch up on this series.

    Going Dark doesn’t sound like my usual read but I am intrigued. I might have to check it out. You’ve definitely gotten me interested anyway, I’ll check out a few reviews on goodreads and see if it’s cheap enough that I can justify a cheeky kindle purchase some time soon.

    • Yeah I don’t know what it is about her newer stuff but they just don’t hit the same note as her backlist. I still think you should read her older books you haven’t tried out yet. I agree. Jordan didn’t come across as that, but she was infuriating, and did not seem to understand the meaning of privacy.

      Ohhhhh! You’ve got to read the Heartbreaker Bay books! They are so wonderful and will make you so happy.

      Sounds like a plan! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Wow, Going Dark sounds fascinating ! I’m curious to see how the author writes an HEA for characters who seem to have so much conflict.