Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Brava (August 1, 2009)
BLOOD WILL TELL
Nancy . . . Nell . . . Vivi . . . Three sisters who know there is no force on earth greater than love . . . unless it is the desire for vengeance. When their adored foster mother is murdered, the D’Onofrio women come together to hunt for her murderer—and track down a family legacy gone missing; rare, priceless art from the Renaissance, a treasure worth killing for. The law can only do so much and the three sisters are on their own—until three mysterious men get involved . . .
Startled to find a brawny stranger at her mother’s house, Nancy is even more surprised at the heat of passion that flares between them. Liam is intense and instantly protective. But is it wise to trust him with every secret? Her sister Nell has turned to Duncan, her new boss, for help. He’s an expert on the dark underworld of cyberspace, where other clues may lurk. And Duncan is so sexy its scary. All Nell ahs to do is say the hardest word of all: yes. But what about the youngest of the D’Onofrios, the wild and wilful Vivi? She’s on the verge of falling in love with Jack, who’s all about fierce vigilance . . .
The sisters embrace the ultimate in passion as danger stalks them all. Unknown and unseen, the killer is very, very near . . .
The moment I first heard Pearl talking about Shannon McKenna my heart started to beat a bit faster and the moment I read Behind Closed Doors I knew why. This author blew me away with great suspense, fabulous romance, hot passion and to-die-for men. So when I read about Tasting Fear I pre-ordered it on the spot and I found my copy in the mailbox coming back from vacation. I was in the mood for suspense and some raw men who knew how to give a woman a good time while defeating the enemy. What was I supposed to do, other then pick up the latest novel of Shannon McKenna to fulfil those needs? The blurb promised it all; three sister, three mysterious men, one murder and a lost treasure which was priceless art from the Renaissance. All ingredients for a romance suspense that could rock my world in to utter bliss.
I cracked the spine and started with the first novella of the first sister Nancy in; Outside The Limit. It started of good, the enemies cloaked in mystery, the suspense rising with the murder, the three sisters grieving, belated gifts showing up and a half written letter indicating that there was more to their foster mother's death. This was all in the early stages of the story but when Nancy meets Liam the threat and suspense gradually exits the stage and it's replaced by a blossoming mediocre yet steamy romance. I liked Nancy and I liked Liam but together they were so-so. Nancy has a career that is about to take off in the music business, she is driven and focused. Liam is a carpenter, he can be very easy going but also blunt, determined and single minded. There is both a humorous note as well as some hot bed-play but then there is also a lot of bickering which seems petulant at times and it almost made me feel like they were five years married instead of falling in lust, in love and overcoming obstacles together.
So with the suspense threat almost zilch I had all my time to focus on Nancy and Liam as a couple. Liam has some major issues rooted in the past which caused great irritation between them as a couple. Now I don't mind issues, heck, each couple has to overcome them to get to their ultimate happy spot. It just didn't flow well within the romance, it isn't well elaborated, it is their for convenience as to give a few reasons why they argued and had bumps in the road towards a happily ever after. And argue they did, along with feeling a fiery attraction to one another, something which McKenna knows how to deliver. In the end the sex was hot, the romance so-so and the plot started of good but collapsed swiftly and sputtered to life in the end with a half hearted plan of the enemies. Outside The Limit did not satisfy me, not in romance and not in the suspense department.
Quote Liam: "After all this?" Her voice was timid. "You still wan to...now?" "Fuck yes." His tone savage. "I've wanted it since I laid eyes on you. It's gotten worse ever since. And combat adrenaline gives a guy a hard-on like a railroad spike, even if there weren't a beautiful woman in my face, driving me fucking nuts. Which puts me in a bad place, Nancy. I know the timing sucks for you. The timing's been piss-poor since we met, but it never gets any better. It keeps getting worse."
As I turned the page I renewed my hope and focused on Nell's story: Ask For More.
Nell is a waitress , has a poetry class to teach and is working for her PhD. Brains and beauty all wrapped up in one package. At the diner where she works every time around lunch her anonymous hunk comes in. He orders the same every day and is completely wrapped up in his computer. From the first impression you might think he was a computer nerd but very soon Nell finds out that looks might be deceiving. When she answers an add asking for a person with knowledge of poetry she takes her shot, though she hasn't got one clue about computer games. At that moment I already knew where this story was headed. Of course the guy in the diner is the guy interviewing the applicants for the poetry job. He and his brother are developing a computer game and they need poetry to encrypt the clues.
From that meeting in the office I got passion in that same office, in the hallway of her apartment, the conference room and it was a crackling energy in the story. I never mind a scorching passion thread in the novel but again, when it came to the love struggles between them as a couple it didn't feel credible to me. Duncan's opinion is not filtered by common sense and it often gets him in to big woman trouble, add his past issues which felt very much like the ones from Liam and I felt irritation regarding his character. I passionately dislike the fact I feel irritation when I'm reading. It hinders me to completely involve myself in the story, the romance and feeling the characters.
What did get slightly better was the plot, it had two chases that generated some angst for me and fear for Nell. Though I do have to say that John, one of the bad guys, was just a narrow minded jerk fighting with the other part of his brain that was very sex obsessed with the three sisters. It didn't speak of a clever and skilled opponent that would sneak up on me with a devious plan and interesting twists and turns. That is another thing that bothered me. The enemies. John and his mysterious boss who janked his chain were hardly creating a chilling shiver running up and down my spine. They were disorganized with a few attempts to abduct the sisters or create havoc and I felt a smart sixteen year old male could have defeated them. John is getting some air time but the Boss is hardly in the picture so he remains this vague character whom isn't adding anything extra to the story.
I will say they the end was nice, where a high-stake chase gave the ending more impact and the romance a nice conclusion.
Quote Nell: "Oh, yeah? Do I intimidate you?" She put her hands on her hips."Some of me." He tossed of his robe, displaying his naked body and huge erection. "Other parts of me are fucking fearless."She stared at him. He was so perfect. Tall, broad, those lean, defined, capable-looking muscles, just re right amount of hair, beautiful thighs and flanks, long narrow feet. And his penis. Oh, boy.
(a barely) 3 stars
With very mixed feeling I turned the page for Ready Or Not as the overall the plot was not on a winning streak, it had many lows and too few highs.
Vivi D'Onofrio is proactive, self-sufficient and artistic. Duncan found her a hide out with an old military buddy of his and on her way to Jack Kendrick her car slides in the mud. She gets out, falls and as she tries to get back up a mountain-man hovers over her. They do not get off on the right foot but at that point the bickering between the couples was almost normal if it didn't irritated me so much. Jack immediately assumes that she is a, and I quote Jack from the novel; tattooed, itinerant teenager sexpot neo-hippy. Which sets of Vivian in to a fit of rage of course. Still, he lives in the woods, he has a barn where she can sculpt away and the best part, no one has a clue where she is save her sisters.
So she stays, he tries to be nice but Jack assumes too much based on the fact she traveled a lot. Each time Vivian needs to defend herself it shows a lack of trust and that trust isn't growing very much as their story continues. Of course the trust issues finds its origins in the past of Jack and I felt bad for him but his attitude didn't rise my temperature all that much. At one minute Jack doubts Vivian and the next he is all over her telling her how amazing she is, sexing her brains out. All the while I have this question mark in my mind trying to figure this guy out. I like the mountain man type, the caveman, blunt bordering crude, doing what he wants without apologies and has a libido to match. Still, Jack didn't win my sympathy as he remains distrustful, second guessing Vivi's decisions and I was running low on patience with him.
Jack and Vivi argued as much as they had wild abandoned sex. The romance was trying to move forward while I was waiting on the plot to move forward as well. With the exception of an encounter between John and a certain ex-boyfriend of Vivi I had to wait until the end for the bad guys to let it all lose. The treasure hunt? To my astonishment it was solved in like two pages!! Perhaps it all sums up to four/five pages in the complete novel but there are just two in the end. Jack and Vivi's romance had its very good moments opposed to very bad moments but the conclusion of the plot was a let down.
On the levels that matter to me as a reader I did not feel Vivi and Jack all that much in their story; Ready Or Not.
Quote Jack/Vivi: "I can't seem to stop making you angry,"he said. "I'm sorry." "You're making me crazy."She closed her eyes."You say, don't go, stay safe. The you insult me and try to drive me away. Then you flirt with me, mess with me, seduce me. What am I supposed to think?"
The ingredients of a treasure held such incredible potential but it was a thin thread within the whole. With the murder, the three romances and a plot that had good moments but in the long run was non impressive nor very suspenseful. All the ingredients didn't come together for me. Still, I genuinely liked the women, Nancy is driven and organized, Nell is smart and flamboyant and Vivi is creative and passionate. It's the guys that felt very cardboard copies of each other and their personalities became a chip on my shoulder. The blue print of these three men present some of McKenna's hallmark features of blunt somewhat crude men but they all three had almost the same family issues, commitment issues, are blatantly sexual - no complaint there - and in the end they flipped a 180 degrees in their views with one even willing to lie in order to get the girl. Though I know I sound like there is little positive about Tasting Fear their are also moments where the romance is hot, the attraction is blazing, the sister bond is warm and I felt their grief over the loss of their foster mother. There is humor to be found, also some nice secondary characters and if you will not irritate yourself with the men I think you'll have an easy to read and light-hearted romance suspense, fit for hot summer days.