BOOK REVIEW ‘The Littlest Assassin-Shifters ’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 18) By Sandrine Gasq-Dion

They should retitle this book  ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills & all their repetitiveness’.

I’ve been brought up with the saying;

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

So this is difficult. What you should do here with this book is treat it as a weird dream sequence & forget it ever happened.

Yes, it is my least favourite of the series. I’m trying to find something positive to say, but I’m struggling a bit. It’s also difficult to express my reasons without spoilers so I won’t try on this occasion.

The author takes two of the original and arguably best couples in the series & does the unthinkable (I’m not talking about how they’ve become mentally and emotionally female, I’ll talk about that later), they casually change them into Werewolves in the time it takes to boil an egg. Watching my mother put on makeup is more traumatic than how Riley & Mateo got treated here. And all because their newborn baby can see the future and knows that Riley will be killed. This should have been the actual full narrative! All the conflict is right there! Should they? Shouldn’t they? But it’s glossed over and forgotten. Another missed opportunity. Riley and Mateo play mummy and daddy, get turned and skip back in time for tea. I was dumbstruck!

The babies are born. They can shape change, understand language and human behaviour in about an hour. Ridiculous! At least try & keep to some confines of nature, psychics,  biology, evolution and psychology.  The idea of surrogate children is great but this was a comedy that just had me rolling my eyes checking the percentage of the book I had left to read. And I can’t even bring myself to talk about the two newborn babies that are mated. Why could you not just keep them as babies and tell a true parental story of gay men having children?

Ghosts of all the cast’s dead parents visit them, to inform them about how proud they are of their gay sons, their husbands and children. OMG, I’m shrinking into my chair & wishing I wasn’t a gay man. Was this just filler for the book? I don’t mind the magic element that’s been introduced in the series, but this was cringeworthy and served no purpose to the narrative. Which brings me to the next point.

There is no story.  That’s right no story. Surrogate babies are born, every cast member becomes a soppy wet girl with a vocabulary consisting of ‘cutie’ & ‘hoot.’ They have dinner around a table. Ghosts of parents visit to tell them how fantastic they all are. Then they all go clubbing. The end.

What this book is, is the episode in the middle of a season when the cast gets stuck in a room for the hour and talk rubbish because they are saving money for the end of season finale. We, as readers can deal with a certain amount of silliness, but this is stretching my patience.

Some serious editing and course correction for this series is needed. At the moment it has completely lost what it originally set out to be.

BOOK REVIEW ‘Summer of Awakenings ’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 15) By Sandrine Gasq-Dion

Here we go…..book 15. Once again we have a double romance which in this series has never gone down particularly well with me.  I find that I favour one couple’s story over the other or the two stories are too similar and simply repetitive.

This is the romance of Kory Maguire and Jacob Steele, Will Cooper and Seth Ralston & it all takes place at Camp Pride which is an outreach centre for abused & neglected young people. It’s like summer camp!

I enjoyed this story because I imagined the camp as a place here in the UK called Croyde Bay. Picturing Croyde Bay helped me get the feel of this story.

Seth and Will ended up becoming my favourite couple. In my head, Seth is Henry Cavill, so it was very easy to picture him from that point.

I don’t have much to say this time. It was a good addition to the series and tied up the story of Kory and Jacob which started a few books ago. Old characters appeared to help prepare the camp which is always great to see. Colin Greystone and Nikolai Markov’s ongoing strange relationship takes a step forward during a disaster in the final act of the book and is clearly setting up events in book 17.

I enjoyed this one as it had that great summer feel.

BOOK REVIEW ‘Betrayed’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 14) By Sandrine Gasq-Dion

17202234The story of Chance and Logan is not one of my favorites and the reasons seem to be similar to the last few books in the series. Too many characters that dilute the main story and reduce any emotional believably of the two protagonists.

It’s like having a beautiful woman but she’s wearing an overly busy dress with too much jewelry. You’re so busy looking at all the jewelry and ruffles and patterns, you don’t see the beautiful woman. This is how I describe this book. Great plot, actually one of the best! However, so much unnecessary side stories, back histories and characters that you zone out.

I understand it’s necessary to sow seeds for future book, but this is getting convoluted. I have been reading them one after another and I’m still confused about who is who and with whom. I believe on the first page; five characters are thrown at you. Should I know them? I recognise some of the names but this isn’t TV so I haven’t got a face to go with the names. I don’t remember them because they’ve been introduced to fast previously.

I’m not a fan of magic being brought into the current stories. The tone of the book was similar to watching a teen soap opera or an episode of Buffy.

The plot itself is actually one of the best. Chance’s journey of discovery, both of his powers and, after his boyfriend’s death. Chance learning he likes Logan but thinks Logan doesn’t like him and Logan thinking the same. Then, you get the spanner in the works, not only does Chance’s boyfriend turn up alive, but Logan already knows it and has kept it from Chance. This is really good! It’s such a strong plot with a lot of dramatic potential.

What really got me mad is when multiple characters stories came in and went into detail.  All of this could have been achieved without pages of exposition.  Less is more. Chance and Logan’s story gets pushed aside at times by other characters and their romantic stories being loaded onto you. It’s what’s known as Cognitive Overload and it feels messy with so many side stories.

My pet hate is when a character speaks in a scene and you never knew they were in that scene. I question my reading, but it’s happening multiple time now.

Chance isn’t a character I could identify with. I kept waiting for the tantrum and the overreaction. He was like one of those annoying teenagers in a horror movie who does the thing you wouldn’t do in real life and you scream at the TV.  If you’d swapped Chance with a 14 year old girl, the scenes would have been the same. I like real life responses and actions, even in a werewolf/magic story, more so in fact, it’s needed to ground the reader in some normality.

Nikoli Markov stands out once again, and although I’m way behind in the series and his story has been told (Book 17), I hope the story is kept between just him, Colin and his attempt to win him over.

BOOK REVIEW ‘Irish Wishes’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 12) By Sandrine Gasq-Dion

“Everything he’d ever fantasized about was finally coming true; he had a man who wanted him.”

12 - Irish Wishes - Cover

As usual, I won’t give a synopsis of the story as you can read that elsewhere. This is my opinion and review of the story.

In terms of the Assassin/Shifter series, this is a sound addition, and you get what you come to expect in this one. I like the contrast of Wayne being older and looking like Bradley Cooper and Connor being a delicate beautiful smooth young man.

We’ve known the two leads in the story for a good while; Wayne, head of the Werewolves (the most powerful) and the Irish angelic blonde, Connor. Previous books have revealed the obstacles preventing Wayne from taking Connor as his mate and this story addresses those issues. Connor is gay and in love with Wayne who’s  been straight all his life. Wayne can’t get used to wanting a man let alone Connor so, he pushes him away. It’s Wayne’s way of dealing with it. The hurt Connor feels at being rejected in this way is what you feel the most when reading this story. If it wasn’t for the powerful wolf mating bond, no man would have stuck around waiting for Wayne.

“Connor was looking down on him, lips parted open, breathing hard. He was so damn beautiful.”

The last half of the story is set in Ireland, which is a nice change and I enjoyed visualising the Irish pub and local cottages as well as hearing Connors accent.

My favourite parts were the scenes with Connor  up in the attic researching Wayne’s Werewolf family history. It’s just a nice setting. It would make a great TV set with Connor bathed in moonlight from the window surrounded by dusty old books.

Wayne and Connor’s first sex scene was probably one of my favourite so far. I can’t say why, it just worked for me and Connor can be one greedy little blonde (I didn’t see that coming).

Up till now, the series has been about assassins and werewolves. However, this story introduces new elements. Rogue werewolves, witches and realms. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. I can understand that after 11 books you need to step things up a bit, so I’ll wait and see how it all plays out. I didn’t expect witches, so it was a surprise. The author is setting up a big storyline for future books, but I won’t spoil it for you.

The biggest negative by far, was too many characters towards the end. It was uncomfortably confusing and I’ve read all 11 books in a short period of time and I was disorientated. It definitely affected the pleasure of reading. You just can’t visualise so many hot men (not in that way!!!) who they are, what they look like and what they are talking about. This was a huge problem for me. Then you had, what you thought are three characters talking in a setting, then another character e.g. Troy, would make a comment and I didn’t even know he was in that setting or even in that country! Not only did nearly every character appear here but new packs were shown too and this just made it worse.

“When something happens to you, it will kill him. I want him to see it; I want him to know it’s me hurting him.”

We get a villain with a motive which was planned out. Although they were more ‘talk’ than bite when it came down to things. After all the posturing and threats they were taken out a little too easy and I was waiting for the surprise of ‘that was too easy something else deadly must be about to happen’ but it didn’t, so a bit of an anticlimax.

The whole Wayne’s parent ‘Ghost’ thing….. It didn’t work for me and it was again confusing and not clear. It just got messy.

You get towards the end a small clip of the continued violent hatred between Andei Panchenko and Devin Lyons which will be dealt with in book 16. It’s the one storyline I am hugely looking forward to.

In conclusion, the love story is nothing new, but you get a feeling things are going to change. Wayne’s story reveals a lot about werewolves in this world and you are introduced to new elements in the form of rogues, witches and ghost like spirits. Past characters seem to be getting resolution in the form of children. I had hoped this could have been achieved the normal way, but alas no, it involves female werewolves. I would have kept it simple and straightforward with the couple e.g. Riley and Mateo, choosing a surrogate, as we gay guys would have to do.

Still addictive reads & I love them.

Spencer.

 

BOOK REVIEW ‘The Red Zone’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 11) By Sandrine Gasq-Dion

The Red ZoneAs an Assassin/shifter book goes, this story is more an assassin than the werewolf shifter story to me. It’s more realistic with just a hint of werewolf. It’s a detective story with detective Nicholas Stevens investigating a series of accidents involving gay football players. It’s during this investigation that he meets his soul mate Sebastian Price, who seems to be the target of the homophobic attacks.  Nicholas is a werewolf which means now that he’s found his mate, he will protect him above anything else.

It’s a great story and I really enjoyed it. I liked the whole police routine and Nicholas’s police partner Casey, was a great character to pair him up with. I love the banter between them and at times it did feel like I was watching a TV series.

We’ve met Sebastian before as Wyatt Quinton’s ex from ‘An ignited Passion’ book 9. He was a bit of a bad boy then, but has matured quite a bit and you’re given an explanation for this in the story. I always had an image of a young Chris Evan playing Sebastian, so it was so easy to see him throughout this story.

Sebastian hates the police and although this is used, it’s not used enough as a dramatic device. It’s mostly used in a humorous or throw away manner and the author missed out on something here. More sexual conflict could have been achieved through Sebastian’s hatred of the police.

Moments I enjoyed are when Sebastian tries to act all confident, not letting the obvious threats to his life bother him, but as soon as something scares him, he turns to the detective who wants to protect him so badly. It’s so reminiscent of what I see with younger guys and this played out well.

One simple scene just illustrated how you’ll do anything to protect the one you love.

“Sebastian!” Nick ran for the jeep. He pulled the door right off its hinges.

We don’t get to see the strength of the werewolf guys in this series much, but here, Nick is so panic stricken he rips the door off the car without considering who could be watching. I just love that passion.

It a simple story but full of ‘Who is behind all this?’ as well as Nick trying to win over the love of young Sebastian.

Once again it’s a shame that individuals like Sebastian seemed to lose their uniqueness as soon as they fell in love.  They quickly become clones of other characters from past stories.

The contentment characters find when they fall in love and wake up next to each other is never tiring to me, and I always feel warm and snugly.

With the morning rays, came a new kind of feeling for Nick. Peace. The soft sound of Sebastian’s breathing filled his ears and warm breath tickled his neck.

I really liked this story, I prefer ones like this. It was nice to see Sebastian develop an extra gift that will have repercussions for future stories, but I’ll let you discover what that is for yourself.

Spencer.

BOOK REVIEW ‘Reflash’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 10) By Sandrine Gasq-Dion

 

REflash“I want you in so many ways it scares me.”  

Reflash is the the 10th book in the Assassin/Shifter book series.

I’ll get straight into it by saying, it wasn’t my favourite of the series. For me, it suffered from the same problems as ‘Best Laid Plans‘ (book 5) which was having two sets of couples developing their relationships at the same time.

Cops Tucker Storm and Wesley Foster find out that their ‘mates’ are firefighters, Austin Jacobson and Kurt Maguire who happen to be straight hetrosexual men.

The whole double dating, falling in love just doesn’t work for me. As I argued in book 5 it simple dilutes both the story and the characters. Then there’s the issue of how easily two hetrosexual men fall in love and have sex with gay men Tucker and Wesley. Don’t get me started on how casually they want to be turned into Werewolves by their lovers and how easily this is achieved.

I constantly had to think which character was with who and what that character looked like and ‘is he the firefighter or the cop?  It’s not enjoyable to have a love/sex scene with one couple, only to have it repeated with the other couple.  It got frustrating and monotonous.

Themes such as, should I give up a human life to be with my mate? and an individual’s sexuality could have really been explored with some depth and emotion. This simply wasn’t done. The whole thing felt rushed.

“Austin looked up at the sky; he was dating a gay werewolf . The thought had him chuckling.” 

I know this series that I love is not to be taken too seriously (come on Werewolves!)  but even the reactions of characters and situations is totally off key. I’m sure after a bear attack and two giant wolves showing up outside your tent you wouldn’t casually shrug it off and go back to a lovely sleep in your ripped tent, yet this is what happened.

So, what did I like. I liked Kurt’s little brother Kory. He was a nice addition and I found myself looking forward to the scenes he was featured in. His interactions were cute and cheeky and with his own little storyline developing, I was intrigued. I also love how Werewolves get really angry and possessive quickly, there is something really hot about this.

“I love meat…” Oh shit, shit, shit! “I mean I like steak.”

The religious anti gay parents is something new in the series, and it definitely got you angry enough to support the main protagonists.

I just hope this is the last of ‘two mates dating two mates’ type stories because for me, it really is double trouble.

Spencer

 

 

BOOK REVIEW ‘An ignited Passion’ (ASSASSIN/SHIFTER BOOK 9) BY SANDRINE GASQ-DION

“That’s where you’d be wrong, Sebastian. Wyatt is mine and he’s always been mine.”

09 - An Ignited Passion -

What you’ll get here (as usual) are my thoughts on the story, without revealing too much. If you’re like me, I sometimes don’t want to know the main points of a story.

The two main characters have appeared in the series a few times, but that’s okay, as you get enough recaps to bring you up to speed. This is the story of Wyatt Quinton and Preston Dalton. It’s been a long wait, as Wyatt, was seven and Preston, thirteen when they first met. Preston, has waited eleven years to be with a ‘grown up’ Wyatt. We are talking wolf mate bonding here, a biological lock that’s initiated between two werewolf shifters.

Overall, it’s a sweet story of waiting for the one you love. Preston, as a white wolf shielded the young Wyatt from a vicious enemy, and this is when the bond began. Since then, Wyatt, has searched for the white wolf, but his family deny the wolf existed. Wyatt, is a cute rascal and Preston, is a solid blonde hunk with his head screwed on.

I like how this story is set at a fire department and we also get a hint of the police service and future stories.

I love the moment Wyatt sees Preston for the first time, jumping out of a fire engine, it’s straight out of a Diet Coke advert.

“Wyatt’s heart stopped in his chest… A look passed between them and Wyatt felt the hairs on his arms and back of his neck stand up.”

I don’t want to say too much as it’s simply a nice story, that fits well into this world. A lot of us having been waiting a while for this romance.

Did I cry (lol) well, yes, one little bit. Not going to spoil it. All I’ll say is; Wyatt, the beach, white wolf. I think that was the night I stayed up till 2am reading.

If I had to mention what I didn’t like, then it would be Preston finding out that Wyatt is already dating a guy called Sebastian. This should have caused a lot more conflict than it did. Preston has kept himself for Wyatt all these years, but this is underplayed. Clashes of emotions and vilotile situations could have be brought in. Preston should have been in a far worse state, coming so near to his love. However, he seems generally pretty cool about it beyond a couple of altercations.

I can’t understand why Wyatt runs away for weeks. It always seems to be the author 3rd act solution. Split up the two lovers. I can understand Wyatt being angry, but once he thought it through surely he saw how amazing the situation was, Preston waiting so long and protecting him. These are smart socially intellectual guys, but this 3rd act split is out of character and is getting repetitive.

Sebastian’s character is not sufficiently developed and this is a continuous problem I have with this series. An antagonist can make or break a story. I understand that this is a romance, but a well developed bad guy gets you to identify with the protagonists at a deeper level.  The lovers stolen times together mean even more, because the danger and conflict is genuine.  Passion is intensified and the reader should feel this. Sebastian, had potential in the beginning, but there was no real threat or discomfort when he was around and in the end he just became wet.

These are minor things and certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the book. A good edition to the series.