Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Face in a Jar (The Defragmenting Daniel Trilogy #2) by Jason Werbeloff

Jason Werbeloff has delivered AGAIN in the exciting and tension-filled 2nd installment of The Defragmenting Daniel Trilogy called The Face in a Jar.

Daniel Mendez is steadily gather up his original organs (taken from him as payment for his childhood upkeep) from the wealthy, priveleged Bubble recipients. However, the private investigator, Kage Jackson, contracted by the Bubble PD to track down the "Organ Thief" is steadily figuring everything out and closing in. Daniel is helped and hindered in his quest to become whole by Margaret, the robot that wants to become human and needs just a few parts herself to achieve her goal - Project Alpha. Her assistance comes at a price: Daniel must collect her desired parts as well as his own. Kage, a trans male formerly known as Kassandra, helped by love-interest, Una, is also hampered in his successful completion of the case by the police themselves.

The Face in the Jar builds wonderfully upon the world created in The Organ Scrubber (Book 1) and solidifies the totally hedonistic realm that is life in the Bubble. It reinforces the achingly vast difference between Bubble residents and those existing in The Gutter (the broken-down, poverty-stricken area outside). The story has explicit gore and sex and so much imagination of what makes up this world. It is exciting, tense and a definite page turner!

The Organ Scrubber (The Defragmenting Daniel Trilogy #1) by Jason Werbeloff

Daniel lives a grim, futile existence of endless work as an organ scrubber – flushing and preparing human organs slated for reuse by the wealthy and privileged. Orphaned at birth, Daniel grew up in The Orphanage with others in the same circumstances, selling his own organs as required to pay the high debt that even his meager existence incurs, replacing them with inferior cybernetic parts.

On his 18th birthday, he is entitled to receive the identification of his parents. Father unknown, but Daniel receives his birth mother’s name and last known address and leaves the relative safety and security of The Orphanage to find her. Along the way he discovers the fate of his mother and encounters people living outside the control of the known government. More importantly, Daniel decides he wants his own organs back.

Defragmenting Daniel: The Organ Scrubber is the first in of a trilogy by the talented Jason Werbeloff, and it is one heck of a beginning. Daniel's world comes to life, grim and horrific. Characters of a wide variety populate it and the action is non-stop. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the story!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Montana Rescue by Kim Law

After completing the first title in this new Kim Law series, Montana Cherries, and enjoying it so very much, I had to read book 2. I was delighted by the characters and setting in Montana Rescue. A handsome bull rider, Nick, part of a large family returns home, temporarily, to manage the family orchard business while his father and new stepmother take a long-needed vacation. Before even taking up his duties, he reconnects with the girl of his teenage dreams, Harper Stone, now widowed, who has also returned home after years away, and is helping her younger sister out with her business of providing the bucking bull stock to the Montana Pro Rodeo circuit (where Nick competes.) What follows is the story of how their relationship evolves and how they come to terms with their pasts.

It is a sexy, contemporary romance with two strong characters that totally melt when dealing with each other. It is also a story of healing and forgiveness – forgiving oneself and moving on. The setting in Montana was of interest to me. I’ve never been there but it sounds lovely and wild. Also, I enjoyed seeing this side of the workings of rodeo – that was a little different angle than I’ve seen before. As I mentioned before, this is the second book in this series about the large Wilde family but it stands on its own – you wouldn’t have to read the first book, Montana Cherries (although I liked it, too) to enjoy this one.

Montana Cherries by Kim Law

Dani Wilde’s life has been on hold for the last 14 years while she has kept house and looked after her father and brothers on their family farm after the sudden death of her mother during Dani’s first semester of college. But with the college graduation of her youngest brother, Dani plans to move back to New York City (where she’d been when her mother died) and pick up where she left off.

The plan is to stay through the summer cherry harvest when all her brothers return home, say her goodbyes, and attempt to restart her interrupted life. And then, in walks her older brother’s best friend, Ben Denton, the love of her life, who took her virginity 10 years ago and left for a high-profile, celebrity lifestyle as a fashion and “fashionable” photographer. But Ben has not returned home alone. He’s got his newly-discovered daughter, Haley, with him and no clue about how to proceed as a single father to a four-year-old girl.

The feelings between Dani and Ben are still strong, and when Ben and Haley are welcomed into the Wilde family with open arms, complications begin to develop. As harvest time closes in and Dani prepares to depart for New York, the truth and dysfunctionality of the family begin to come to light.

The characters in the story are all suffering and trying to heal from the impact of horrible mothers: the Wilde siblings, their father, Ben, and Haley whose mother kept her existence a secret until she dumped the child on Ben’s doorstep and abruptly left. All are victims of women that never should have had children. Each is trying to cope in their different ways under their different circumstances. There are some very heartbreaking moments.

The romance between Ben and Dani (both as their younger selves and in the present situation) is compelling and keeps the pages turning. I continued to wonder what the final outcome was going to be.

There is tension between family members rooted in their past but there is forgiveness and reconciliation as well making for some additional drama and emotional storytelling.

Altogether, Montana Cherries is unique in its premise and satisfying in its resolution. It is a lovely start to what I hope is a series featuring each of the Wilde siblings.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Twisted minds, twisted ending!

After a spectacular set up of the series in the prequel, Hanover House, author Brenda Novak has offered up a very suspenseful series opening in Her Darkest Nightmare. The story begins with a retelling of the horrific abduction, torture and murders of 16-year-old Evelyn Talbot’s 3 best friends by her boyfriend, Jasper Moore, and her subsequent victimization and almost murder when she discovers him in the act. Jasper escapes capture and justice, perhaps aided by his parents, and remains free to this day, haunting the adult Evelyn’s life and mind, always looming in the shadows ready to pounce and finish what he’d started all those years ago.

Dr. Evelyn Talbot is now a successful psychiatric leading a research facility attached to a new prison located in Hilltop, Alaska, studying psychopathic serial killers. Overcoming the fears of the locals and the only law enforcement in the area, Alaska State Trooper Sergeant Amarok, about having such a facility on their outskirts is tough enough but suspicions escalate with the murders of two prison staff members.

With the characters socked in and hampered by winter storms, the remoteness of the setting lending to the feeling of aloneness, and the absolutely terrifying craziness of some of the inmates, the story is really suspenseful. Evelyn and Amarok are immediately attracted to each other but their relationship is complicated by her past and his opposition to having the prison on his doorstep. Then, too, just when I thought I had it all figured out – SURPRISE!

I was so wrong.

And because I never saw it coming, the story was that much more frightening.

I highly recommend Her Darkest Nightmare to those that like their sexy romance with a big dose of suspense.

Hanover House by Brenda Novak

When Evelyn Talbot was sixteen years old, she was abducted, then tortured and left for dead by her boyfriend, Jasper Moore, in their hidden, secret rendezvous spot in the woods. She had walked in on his murders of her 3 best friends and he had to stop her from alerting the police. She was at his mercy for 3 days in the little shed in the wood before he slit her throat and left her to die amongst the bodies of her friends. But Evelyn managed to escape and get to help and did not die. Jasper, with the suspected aid of his parents, immediately disappeared, never caught and brought to justice: his memory and unknown whereabouts always lingering in the shadows and the back of Evelyn’s mind. She goes on to university making it her goal in life to unravel the secrets of the psychopathic mind.

Now a successful psychiatrist, Evelyn has gotten the Bureau of Prisons to fund and build a special maximum security prison and research facility for the study of psychopaths outside the remote Alaskan town of Hilltop. The townspeople there are of mixed opinion about having the prison located there: while it will provide some much needed economic development and jobs, it brings with it some of the worst criminals in the country to their back door. Leading the local opposition to the project is handsome, single, local boy Alaskan State Trooper Benjamin Murphy or “Sergeant Amarok (Wolf)” as he was known by the community – also the only law officer in the region.

When construction on the prison is interrupted by vandalism, Evelyn must travel to Hilltop to oversee its repair, hire some construction site security, and meet with Sergeant Amarok in an attempt to garner some support for the project in town. In the meantime, Jasper reappears on the scene.

The characters that populate the story are a wonderful mix – good/evil, supportive/adversarial. Evelyn is still vulnerable as an adult due to Jasper’s horrendous attack. It continues to color her life and her healing is an ongoing process and a major part of the story. Amarok also has a past that affects him. He had discovered only a few years earlier that he had a twin brother. His mother had left him and his father alone in Alaska taking this brother with her to live in Seattle without further contact. So both the main characters have trust issues with the opposite sex. There are also Jasper and the inmates, all suitably crazy.

The plot is tense and suspenseful with immediate romantic tension between Evelyn and Amarok. The setting in Alaska introduces a layer of hardship and remoteness into things as well which added up to keeping me on edge throughout the reading.

Hanover House is the precursor to the actual series which kicks off with Her Darkest Nightmare in August 2016. With such a dramatic and suspenseful build up, I will definitely be in line to pick up that title.