Sunday, August 03, 2014

Recent Reads

Embattled Hearts (Lost and Found, #1)Embattled Hearts by J.M. Madden

Genre: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense

Steam Level: Just about perfect

First in a Series (second book read)

My: Thoughts: I had no sooner finished reading Embattled Minds, the book I last reviewed, when I started reading this one. I was so taken with the first book by this author; by her writing, by her realness, by the characters, by the concept, that I had no choice but to read the first book in the series. This is the story of John Palmer and Shannon Murphy. John is one of founders of Lost ‘N’ Found Investigative Agency, a detective agency organized and run by Wounded Vets. John is quite the gruff unfriendly kind of guy. He was paralyzed from an injury – but – yes he can *wink* – and has become even more unsociable since being stuck in a wheel chair. His past is a sad and lonely one, so the reader can see why he is the way he is. Shannon has recently been hired by the agency as the office manager. From the beginning they notice each other but because each has quite a set of baggage, they don’t act on any attraction they may have. That is until John notices that Shannon seems ‘off’ and wants to know why. It turns out that something has gone terribly wrong. She had a very scary stalker years ago, but he is in prison now. Yet many of the same things are starting to happen that he did years ago; a Pepsi can left where she can’t help but see it and it has the stalkers finger prints, yet he is in jail. John takes no time in moving in with her to protect her and get the rest of agency on the case.

This one didn’t ‘get’ to me quite as much as Embattled Minds. While the previous is a 5, this one would be a 4 ½ if we could give ½ marks. I love a gruff teddy bear type of hero, but I didn’t find John teddy bearish. He is reluctant to believe that Shannon could really be interested in him at all. He was often rude and while I could understand why he is the way he is, he just doesn’t have that inner marshmallow that makes this kind of hero so attractive. I like Shannon, though she isn’t a real stand out kind of heroine. I did appreciate how calm and collected she remained despite the threat she is under. And I also liked how she wasn’t bothered at all by John’s infirmity. She wants him, she goes after him – that simple.

Like the first one I read, Embattled Hearts, this one is also novella size in length but again like the first one, I found the story and the characters to be very well developed.

I’ve already started reading the next one in the series, Embattled Home and expect that it won’t take me long to finish it either.
And I just want to make mention that there seems to be another Investigator/Private Detective type series entitled Lost and Found which seems to also be a group of Vets returned from war. I haven’t read this other series, but want to make everyone aware the author of the series I’m reading at the moment is J.M. Madden. Thumbs up J.M.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Embattled Minds (Lost and Found, #2)Embattled Minds by J.M. Madden

Genre: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense

Steam Level: Just about perfect

Second in a Series (first book read)

When I embraced the world of ereading, it changed my reading world in so many ways. Because of outrageous prices, I don’t read nearly as much main stream romance authors anymore. I flat out refuse to pay MORE for an ebook than a print book and since so many publishers charge more, it breaks my heart that I just don’t read as many beloved authors as I used to. But the plus of this is I’ve discovered how many really wonderful authors there are in the world of epublishing. J.M Madden is one such author. In a previous review, I noted that I can tell how good a book is by how much time I can waste between readings. I’m a pro at wasting time with playing games, beading, watching TV, crocheting; anything but reading. While I was reading Embattled Minds, there was very little time wasting. In fact I woke up around 2:00 am one morning and right away dove back into the story for about half an hour or so before heading back in the land of the Zzzzzs.

As you may have gathered, I quite enjoyed this short story. This was another excellent Kindle Daily Deal. The synopsis sounded intriguing, right up my alley, so I wanted to give it a try. I’m pleased to say that I happily recommend it and in fact I hadn't got far into it before I purchased the rest in the series. I love a wounded hero healed by love and Zeke Foster made a wonderful wounded hero. Badly injured with a traumatic brain injury and physically scarred in Afghanistan; a wall exploded and landed on him, he feels no one can care for him. He has a hard time speaking anymore with a debilitating stutter and he feels he looks like a monster. Ember is part owner/waitress/single mother who works at a nearby bar that the PI team have started to frequent. Zeke is surprised that his disabilities don’t seem to faze her at all. He didn't count on someone like Ember entering his life though. She sees past his scars to the wonderful man underneath. He struggles believing that she really does care about him. I just loved Zeke to pieces. And Ember was a pretty darned good heroine. She has some difficult personal issues to deal with and Zeke.

Zeke works for a private detective agency that employees wounded veterans and Embattled Mind is the second in the series. This book just hit all my buttons in a good way and I can hardly wait to read more. I love the whole concept of a ‘band of brother’ theme. They all suffer to one extent or another; whether it’s PTSD, amputation, TBI or paralysis. Whatever it is, they aren’t the same when they come back from combat as when they left and I love they are made to feel an important part of society. This isn’t a full length novel, rather it’s novella size but Ms. Madden did a very good job in this shorter format. I started with this book and it was fine. I didn’t miss not reading the first at the time. Though I since have, and the review for that one will be coming shortly. She states that part of the proceeds for the sale of this book with go to a Veterans organization. This was just more icing on an already most delicious reading cake and more proof I did good when I bought this book.

I was just about to hit save when I realized I said very little about Ember!! Big omission that would have been. I loved her character. She was totally oblivious to the scars Zeke had and had a world of patience with him when he was trying to talk. She too has issues She has to deal with her father who needs help and is a single mother trying to raise a son with no input from his father who disappeared from her life when she got pregnant. She is the real head of the bar she co-owns with her dad. As much as Zeke is a wonderful hero, Ember is a wonderful heroine and just perfect for his wounded soul.

Grade: 5 out of 5


Brandy said...

You make me wish I could read them, but my book buying budget is Bill right now. Will definitely put these on a "to-read" list.

Kristie (J) said...

Brandy, on of the pluses of refusing to give in to The MAN, and by that I mean the big publishers, is finding less expensive replacements and most of the replacement prices are not too shabby. But I get not having the money. *heavy sigh*