Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review: "Outside the Lines" by Lisa Desrochers

As the oldest son of a Chicago crime lord, Robert Delgado always knew how dangerous life could be. With his mother dead and his father in prison, he’s taking charge of his family’s safety—putting himself and his siblings in witness protection to hide out in a backwater Florida town. Fourth grade teacher Adri Wilson is worried about the new boy in her class. Sherm is quiet and evasive, especially when he’s around his even cagier older brother. Adri can’t help her attraction to Rob, or the urge to help them both in whatever way she can. But the Delgados have enemies on two sides of the mob—their father’s former crew and the rival family he helped take down. It’s only a matter of time before someone finds them. And if Rob isn’t careful, Adri could end up in the crossfire...

Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Well, now that I've had some time to mull over my thoughts about this book, I can say this: I didn't hate it, but I was hoping to love it more than I did, too. Which is too bad, because really, it has all the right ingredients for a unique and enjoyable New Adult read.  

As it says in the synopsis, Rob has moved with his family from Chicago to small town Florida under witness protection. I enjoyed this part of the plot, as it added a unique element of danger to Rob's situation. It also explained Rob's resistance to getting involved with Adri - he was very focused on finding out who was after him and his family, with the ultimate goal of making it back to the family business in Chicago.  Rob's intense focus on his goal was one of the main reasons I kept reading - I was really curious to see how the author would be able to give Rob and Adri their happily ever after, because I didn't see how a relationship between them would ever work.  Was Adri going to move to Chicago and become a mob boss' wife?  Or would Rob give up everything his family had built over the generations and be content to live a life of anonymity in Florida?  Neither scenario seemed plausible, and finding out how this would be resolved was my main impetus for reading to the end.

Unfortunately, my main complaint is a pretty big one - I didn't feel that the connection between the two main characters was real. Everything happened too quickly, and their chemistry was based on little more than looks. What drew Rob to Adri? She was pretty, innocent, and kind to his little brother. And I'm supposed to believe that Rob would risk exposure of his whole family just because Adri is nicer than the usual women he gets involved with? I wasn't buying it, sorry.  As for Adri, her whole naive, Mary Sue persona was a bit much for this reader.  I know she had reasons to explain her demeanor, but I've been there, read that, and I'm bored of it.

Although I wasn't completely satisfied by this book, I am looking forward to reading the next installments in the "On the Run" series.  I was super intrigued by some of the secondary characters in "Outside the Lines", especially Adri's friend Chuck - that guy better get some page time, he absolutely deserves it!  

My rating: 3 stars

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: "Accelerate" by Tracy Wolff

A sexy carjacker takes a would-be starlet for the ride of her life as a pulse-pounding new series from New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff begins. Once the brains behind a car-boosting ring, Nic Medina has spent the last three years playing it straight. Now drag racers flock to his L.A. auto shop, Hotwired, for a shot at going head-to-head with the man himself. But when a crooked cop gives Nic a treacherous ultimatum—steal ten high-end cars or watch his nephew disappear into the system—he makes the only choice he can, one that puts the life he’s worked so hard for at risk. No sooner does Nic agree than he spots some nasty competition—and a gorgeous bystander in harm’s way. A small-town girl with Hollywood dreams, Jordan Bass never expected to be swept up in a real-life drama. But that’s exactly what happens when she witnesses a violent crime. And when a smoldering stranger takes the wheel and practically kidnaps her in a desperate bid to keep her safe, she’s not sure whether to scream . . . or kiss him. Nic’s bad news—but the real bad guys aren’t above silencing a witness. On a collision course with danger, Jordan finds herself falling for the man whose street smarts are keeping her alive . . . and whose touch puts her in high gear.
Many thanks to Loveswept Publishing via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Whenever I pick up a book by Tracy Woff, I have certain expectations - a fast-paced plot, unique (and always hot!) characters, and some excellent steam. 

"Accelerate" more than met my expectations! I absolutely loved the characters - Nic Medina sounds amazing, and I was able to empathize with Jordan's backstory and current situation.  I even loved the small glimpses I got of the secondary characters, Nic's family and friends in particular - I can't wait to read more about them, especially Nic's sister.

The book starts off with Jordan attending a drag race with her friend, where she catches a glimpse of Nic and learns a bit about him and his crew, his garage and his backstory.  She's intrigued, and from there, the action is pretty much non-stop.  The only thing missing was a bit more explanation and detail.  I wanted to know how a guy like Nic, with no money or connections, builds up to having the best, most exclusive garage in San Diego in three years.  Why did Jordan choose San Diego to escape the past?  Did the college in San Diego have a special program that Jordan was accepted to?  Did she always want to live on the west coast?  We learn what happened to Jordan's family, but it earns barely a mention.  A little more detail on that circumstance, or even tying it into Nic's situation, would have better rounded out the story, in my opinion.

These missing details did not lessen my enjoyment of "Accelerate" on the whole.  I think anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with a heavy dose of action and steam will love this new series by Tracy Wolff.

My rating:  3.5 stars