After the Storm, Maya Banks

Reading After the Storm by Maya Banks for this review caused me no small amount of stress. LOL Not because of the content of the book, but because of my own Book OCD. You see, I HATE spoilers. Seriously. I don’t end read. I don’t want to know how the movie/book/tv show ends before it does. As an addendum, I NEVER read books out of order. I might once I’ve read all the books in a series, but for the first time? Nope. Never. Also, I never put books down in the middle to go read something else and then come back. I just don’t do it. I read fast enough it usually isn’t even an issue.

So…want to guess who STILL hasn’t read Forged in Steele (the KGI book before After the Storm) AND who had to stop reading Shelly Laurenston’s Big Bad Beast in order to read this book for my review?

All that aside, I enjoyed this book. It’s typical Maya Banks. Tough, strong guys willing to lay down their lives to protect those who need it. Tough, strong women who don’t need the men to rescue them, but appreciate the helping hand. I’ve been listening to the KGI series lately, and I find it interesting how listening to a book allows you to pick up on things you might not notice while reading. One of those things is how little dialogue Ms. Banks has in her books. There is a LOT of internal monologues and descriptions and such, but actual discussion between the characters doesn’t happen as much as you would expect.

One of the things that bothered me a little is at the end (no spoilers!) when Van and Eve are talking things out, she thinks about how wrong she was to not trust him (again with the internal monologue), and that took me out of the book for a minute. In terms of the timeline of the book, they’ve known each other for a few days. And a fair portion of that time, she’s spent unconscious and recovering from injuries. I don’t think it is at ALL unreasonable or unexpected that she would still have trust issues, especially when you consider what she’s on the run from. I get it’s a romance book, and as such there’s a certain amount of fantasy in play here, but I wish they had dealt with it more openly as a “Yeah, I didn’t trust you. Can you blame me?” and not “I’m so sorry! It’s my fault I didn’t trust you!” Paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

Also, the whole beginning of the story is very Rusty-centric, but then Rusty seems to just drop off the face of the earth. All that concern for Travis and then she…what? Where did she go? I know she trusted Van to take care of Eve and the kids, but I don’t see why Rusty wasn’t one of the ones checking in on all of them. You would think they would have wanted another friendly and familiar face around.

All in all, I thought this was a solid entry into the KGI series. It was more home-centric than some of her more recent ones have been, and it was nice to have everyone stay put for a change. LOL. And after Shades of Gray, it was nice to have the angst and emotional heartbreak dialed down a bit.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Swanny’s My Favorite Kelly
aka The Fish With Sticks

Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Cut & Run Series, Abigail Roux & Madeline Urban

This review was originally posted at Wicked Lil Pixie
on January 16, 2013

There is a sub genre, I guess you’d call it, called M/M. Which is a romance where both characters are men. My only previous exposure to this type of story is Suzanne Brockmann’s book “All Through the Night.” Of all her Troubleshooters books, this was my favorite because my love for Jules knows no bounds. Other than that, though, I’ve never really read M/M. I didn’t know much about it or the authors, so I never really tried it. One of my fellow bloggers (Lori) kept going on and on about this one series of books she was reading. The Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban. All right. I’ll give them a try. I picked up the first book on January 5. 7 days and 7 books* later, I’m wondering when the next book comes out! (April 8, 2013, according to Goodreads). I’ll have you know I was up until sunrise nearly every day this week reading these books.

The first four books were co-written by Abigail Roux & Madeleine Urban, and, honestly, they write together well enough that there is a seamless transition between the books written jointly and those solely written by Ms. Roux.

Ty and Zane are FBI agents assigned to work together to catch a serial killer in New York. When we first meet them Ty is irreverent, headstrong, and a rule breaker, while Zane is buttoned-up, Mr. By-the-Book, and will absolutely not do anything to get himself in trouble. Things change, though, as we learn more about these two. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Ty is still irreverent, headstrong, and a total rule breaker, but he’s also brave both with his body and his heart. He’s kind and loving and romantic. Zane is the one who surprised me. As we learn more about Zane we find he HATES being a buttoned-up Mr. By-the-Book, but he feels he has to be, as he’s on shaky ground with his career.

Watching these two fall for each other and fight it all the way was fascinating. Because both main characters are male, there’s a whole different dynamic at play with the two of them. They’re rougher and more physical than a Hero would ever be with a Heroine. But at the same time, there’s more fear there due to the inherent problems of being gay in today’s society. Do they come out to their friends? their coworkers? their families? What happens if they’re rejected by those around them? What if they each can’t deal with their relationship and one rejects the other?

My biggest complaint, and it was resolved eventually, is that there is more emotional game playing with these two than I would like. A lot of unwillingness to trust.  In a more traditional romance, “I love you’s” would have happened in book 1, and while I might have preferred it a LITTLE earlier than where it occurred in this series, I think Ms. Urban and Ms. Roux really were true to the characters by making them work things out. Slowly. In fact, one says “I love you” far earlier (as in an earlier book) than the other. No, I won’t tell you who. That’s half the fun!

Once they start working through their emotions and really commit to each other, however, their trust is absolute and they are strong and supportive of each other at every step. They’ve made a pact to be more honest with each other and really TALK about things, especially things from their pasts. I enjoyed that the conflicts they face rarely come from within the relationship, but are external forces (murderers, thieves, cats, puns).

I’m so happy I listened to Lori and Pam and read these books. They were absolutely right and the books were totally worth the lack of sleep. I’ll be on the lookout for more, both in the series and from the authors.

*There are actually only 6 books in the series right now, but on Pam’s recommendation I read Warrior’s Cross between books 4 & 5 as some of those characters play a large role in book 5. More on that book another day.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Bring on the Men Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

RATING: 4.5 Stars