ARC Review: Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder

Format: E-bookbehindthescenes
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Rogan St. James
Heroine: Kennedy Smyth
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 31, 2011
Started On: October 24, 2011
Finished On: October 27, 2011

Behind the Scenes By Natalie J. Damschroder is the second novel by Natalie that I have tried out, which is set to release from Carina Press on the 31st of this month. Though I have managed to read just two of her novels, there is a theme that rings constant in both her books – you get heroines of the kick-ass variety that drive the story forward and heroes who are a bit laid back than the usual alpha heroes that we all clamor for.

Kennedy Smyth is the owner of  SmythShield, a small security company focused exclusively on projects with a humanitarian goal. It had been the death of her beloved brother working in one such project that had kickstarted Kennedy’s efforts and it had taken her 10 years to bring SmythShield to its current level and status. 

When Kennedy receives a request to monitor the security of the movie shoot of Coming of Day because of terrorist threats that a few selective members of the cast and the director of the film has been receiving, Kennedy’s first impulse is to say no and take on a project more related to what she usually handles. But in the end, Kennedy says yes and finds out that she had completely underestimated the level and focus of the threats that have been following in the wake of the shootings since the beginning.

When the handsome and sexy movie star Rogan St. James comes into the picture, Kennedy has no interest whatsoever in pursuing the curl of desire that leaps forth within her. A woman focused on her work and the pressure that it brings to her life is who Kennedy is and she has no intention of  changing that anytime soon.

Rogan is a laid back version of alpha heroes who doesn’t get as much time as I would have liked in the story. But the scenes that he does appear in, he does make them count and I think Rogan’s brand of laid back persuasiveness was exactly what Kennedy needed in order for her to see that sacrificing her whole life for the greater good of mankind isn’t all there is to living.

Kennedy who hates showing any sort of vulnerability knows that the first time in ten long years she is in danger of doing just that when bit by bit Rogan invades her thoughts, dreams, desires and then her life until the threats start focusing on the object of her affection. Though Kennedy tries her hardest to keep Rogan at bay, Rogan seems equally determined to do the opposite leaving her with no choice but to embrace his love in the end.

Behind the Scenes is very much an action driven suspense novel with bits of romance thrown in. Kennedy is a tough heroine, who makes it really hard for anyone to get close to her; her worst nightmare being that if she gets close to someone, he or she might be the target of enemies that she has accumulated over the past years. Her focus and intensity when it comes to the job at hand is awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Rogan though he doesn’t play an overly major role in the story, turned out to be an endearing and sexy hero whose intention of never getting involved with an actress or a woman whose too driven goes up in flames when his attraction towards Kennedy develops into something much more than he ever envisioned. It is how Rogan seems to know exactly when to advance and retreat with Kennedy that seals the deal with her. Rogan has reserves of patience and of course the wisdom to let Kennedy be true to herself even when circumstances look pretty harrowing.

I liked the overall premise and the setting of the story. A female heading an exclusive security firm is a novel concept and the constant danger and action that is seamlessly integrated into the story makes for a compelling read. Though I felt that the romance aspect of the novel didn’t get an equal amount of attention as the suspense part, Behind the Scenes still managed to keep me turning the pages. I felt that unveiling who the villain turned out to be took just a tad longer than necessary because by the time the story hits the last couple of chapters it is pretty obvious who the villain is.

Rated as good read, Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroder is recommended for those who love action driven suspense novels with kick-ass heroines leading the story.

Favorite Quotes

He propped his hands on his hips, shook his head slightly and turned his gaze from the front of the building to meet her eyes, dead on. “It sounds ridiculous, but I want you to have dinner with me. Since we have an early night.”
Those truths clamored louder. She shook her head.
“Why not?”
“I don’t have time, Rogan.” […]
“You don’t have time to eat?” he asked.
Kennedy blew out a breath. “I don’t have time for dating games.”
“Good, neither do I.”
“Then what’s this?”
He let go of her and lifted his shoulders, hands out. “Flirtation?”
Something intangible popped, and the tension faded. She smiled. “I expected you to say foreplay.”  

Rogan caught her hand just before she got out of his reach, and tugged her slowly back toward him. His eyes met hers, and she realized just how good an actor he’d been for the last few days. Where before she saw mild interest, now she saw intensity. Need.
He put his hand on the back of her head and dipped down for the kiss she’d daydreamed.

[Rogan] “I’ve been watching you, and you’re more confident and decisive than any woman I’ve ever known. There’s no pretense to you. No concern that what you’re doing is the wrong thing, or that you’re not doing it right.”
“And you don’t like those traits in a woman?”
“I do. I didn’t know that until I found them.”   

What he’d wanted before had crumbled away, leaving the truth of what Kennedy did to him. It was new, and there was a long way to go before it could be right, but that was the path he wanted to take. 

She stepped forward into the shadows with him and took his hand. “What do you want from us, Rogan?”
He shuddered with the force of his expelled breath and intertwined his fingers with hers. “I’m not sure.” He brought their hands to his lips and rested them there, not kissing or licking or being seductive, just touching. “I think I want it all. I’ve barely kissed you, but I already know it won’t be enough. Even sex won’t be enough. You’re deep in my system.”

Purchase Links: Barnes&Noble | Carina Press | BooksOnBoard


ARC Review: Fight or Flight by Natalie J. Damschroder

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Tyler Sloane
Heroine: Chelsea Conrad/Regan Miller
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 28, 2011
Started On: March 27, 2011
Finished On: March 27, 2011

Natalie J. Damschroder is a new author for me. Having never heard of her before didn’t stop me from requesting for an ARC of this title on Netgalley, which is to be released on the 28th of this month from Carina Press. The cover was what drew me to the story at first and then the blurb gave the impression that this could be my kind of story. And from the very first chapter itself, Fight or Flight reeled me in and kept me captivated, turning the pages to reach its conclusion, to see how Regan and Sloan fare in the end.

37 year old Regan Miller is a woman who has been on the run, who has continually looked over her shoulder for any danger that may come for the past 19 years. Regan had lost her parents in a home invasion when she had been 12 years old and had become a victim of the foster care system from which she had escaped with the help of an excellent social worker who opened up the opportunity for her to enroll in an elite boarding school in California where she meets Scott Harrison the father of her daughter Kelsey. The news of Regan’s pregnancy had brought immense joy to Scott which had been short lived as Scott ends up giving up his life to save that of his pregnant girlfriend and to warn her to run for her life.

Regan is a woman who would do anything to keep her daughter safe, even if it means working hard at creating a facade of normalcy in their lives. Kelsea had grown up thinking that her mother suffers from psychological problems at worst, living life constantly at the edge waiting for a danger that had never materialized.

But the minute Regan lets her guard down enough to invite even a semblance of normalcy into her life, the danger that she has been waiting for explodes into her life without a care for the wake of destruction and chaos it leaves behind. 18 years of training and words of advice Regan has given kicks in when Kelsey receives the call that brings life as she knows it tumbling down right in front of her.

And thus begins a race against unknown enemies who are willing to cross anything or anyone that stands between them and Kelsey. It is Regan’s sexy next door neighbor of 2 years Tyler Sloane that steps into help at the most unexpected hour, someone who seems to know more about them than he lets on, earning Regan’s continued distrust as danger continues to greet them at every turn. However, even a lifetime habit of being wary around people doesn’t stop Regan from responding to the heat that flares between her and Tyler every time, a fire that burns out of control long before Tyler gains Regan’s full trust.

With surprising twists towards the end, Fight or Flight is a novel that lives up to its very well deserved title. Regan’s race to keep her daughter safe at all costs is one that requires her to be vigilant at all times, ready to fight dirty or to flee and get the hell out when the moment calls for it. The adventure of the nail-biting variety is non-stop which is complemented by the very well done and explosive scenes of passion between Tyler and Regan whose feelings blossom amidst all the chaos that reigns.

I enjoyed my first novel by Natalie immensely which features a kick-ass heroine who would lay down her very life for the daughter she loves. Tyler is a bit of a mystery throughout the story until towards the end when everything about him comes to light. Even then, the story is not told from his point of view at any stage in the story, but his feelings are well portrayed by other means which makes his feelings towards Regan seem more real.

My only peeve with the story is the lack of a proper ending; for me the way the story concluded seemed a  bit rushed. I would have loved to see Regan’s life with Tyler afterwards, a completely different Regan from the woman she has been forced to be for the past 18 years of her life.

I finish off my review with a quote from the story, the scene where Tyler tries to confess his feelings towards a Regan who is not at all ready to hear what he has got to say – lending the moments that follow a more emotional wrangling quality which would have not been possible if otherwise.

It was low, almost pleading. The curtain moved slightly. Regan pulled away from the wall and slid it sideways enough to see his face, and the pain and hope there almost undid her.
“Tyler,” she whispered, and then there was no space to say more. He caught her against him, his towel falling to the floor, his mouth capturing hers in a desperate, plunging kiss. One hand braced on the back of her neck and the other just above her hips, he stepped over the edge of the tub and crowded her against the wall.
Regan fell. Not physically, because she held him as tightly as he held her, and neither one was letting go. But she fell just the same, into a swirling maelstrom of desire and fear and need.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Carina Press