Review: Sweet Revenge by Nina Bruhns

Format: E-booksweetrevenge
Read with: Kindle for iPhone
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: New Orleans, Book 2
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Auri “Creole” Levalois
Heroine: Grace Summerville
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1, 2002
Started On: April 2, 2011
Finished On: April 4, 2011

Nina Bruhns is an author who caught my eye when I first stumbled across her Passion for Danger series which I just devoured upon discovery. I found Nina Bruhns to write a well balanced romantic suspense whilst juggling a lot of characters, delivering edge of the seat suspense together with enough heat to make  her books the kind you can count on to keep you entertained throughout.

Sweet Revenge is the 2nd book in the New Orleans trilogy featuring the very hot Cajun hero, New Orleans Police Detective Auri “Creole” Levalois. Creole is a man who has survived the harshest and cruelest existence in life suffering at the hands of those who are bound to protect him. A victim of the mostly brutal foster care system, Creole’s only close friend is his foster brother Luke for whom Creole would lay down his very life for. Luke’s death at the hands of the notorious crime leader James Davies comes as a shock to Creole who vows revenge on the man who is responsible for his foster brother’s death. Creole’s only lead is to follow the trail of Gary Fox in the hopes that he would lead Creole right onto Davies’s doorstep.

Psychologist Grace Summerville travels to New Orleans to find out why her twin sister Muse Summerville has disappeared all of a sudden. Grace and Muse are as different from one another as night and day with Grace being the sensible and responsible one with Muse living up to her well earned reputation of being the wild one. Grace is pretending to be her sister Muse when her path crosses that of the sexy French Cajun detective who stirs up all her senses and makes her clamor for his attention each and every time they come across one another.

Creole is a man who is well versed in the art of female deception. That along with all the women in his life who has betrayed him till now makes Creole a man who is wary of feeling too much for anyone of the fairer sex. But even his well guarded heart is not immune from how all his senses go on red alert when he comes across the alluring Grace Summerville who he is keeping under surveillance thinking Grace to be Muse.

Grace who has sworn that she would never let herself fall for a wild and undependable man like her father finds herself nevertheless a helpless victim of desire when it comes to the wildly dangerous Creole who sets off all kinds of reactions of the right variety deep within her as they team up to find out what happened to Muse and to draw in Luke’s killer.

The mystery potion of the story is quite small with the main focus of the novel being on how the relationship devlops between Creole and Grace. Creole is a hero of the yummiest kind who whispers all the right erotic stuff in sexy Cajun which makes my knees go wobbly each and every time. He is a tortured hero who doesn’t come across as a brute, but rather is a man who has so many endearing qualities to him that I couldn’t help but fall hard and fast for him. Though his history is not overly much detailed, the reader is able to piece together a painful past which makes Creole a man who is doubly protective of his heart and trust.

Grace had grown up with a father who had upped and left when the going had gone tough. Past relationships had shown Grace that she doesn’t have the best taste in men, always ending up with someone who wants to live for the moment. So when Grace comes across Creole to whom her reaction is volatile at best, Grace does the next best thing and denies anything she feels for the man who kisses her senseless and makes her forget each and every sensible thought ever to cross her mind.

However, even when Grace witnesses firsthand the type of honorable man Creole is, even when he shows her over and over again how hard it is for him to trust people and nevertheless wins over his trust, even then Grace never fully understood Creole enough not to walk away from him towards the end. This fact rankled a bit for me with this story, made me feel at times that Grace didn’t deserve someone like Creole who has a broken soul which heals under the Grace’s tender ministrations. However, thankfully things did work out in the end, and I ended up with a huge grin on my face after reading the epilogue which shows my Creole all happy with the kind of love and family he has never had before.

If you are looking for a contemporary romance featuring a hot Cajun hero, a romance that features a bit of suspense to make things interesting, grab yourself a copy and read this one. Though I expected Creole to be a bit different from the hero he turned out to be, nevertheless he makes for a hero who induces all the right kinds of feelings making this a well rounded story in the end.

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Review: A Kiss to Kill by Nina Bruhns

Format: E-bookKiss to Kill
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Passion for Danger, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Hero: Captain Gregg van Halen
Heroine: Dr. Gina Cappozi
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 6, 2010
Started On: September 29, 2010
Finished On: September 30, 2010

I am finally done with the Passion for Danger series by Nina Bruhns and I have to say that that was one heady and wicked ride that she takes the reader on.  I fell in love with all her characters that she managed to create so vividly that I felt like I was part of them when the series ended. I really do not know for sure whether the series has ended though it definitely does feel like it when the 3rd book in the series concluded.

Though this is the story of the irresistibly sexy, dark and dangerous Gregg Van Halen and Dr. Gina Cappozi, this is also where my much coveted for story of how Christopher Alexander Zane (Alex) and his long time best friend and FBI Special Agent Rebel Haywood also find their happily ever after with one another though the road to happiness is not an easy one for either of the couples.

For those who have read books 1 and 2 in the series they would already know that Gregg and Dr. Gina had become lovers in book 1 when Gina’s best friend Rainie had been taken by the Zero Unit of CIA to which Gregg also belonged to. Gregg’s mission had been to stop Gina from asking unnecessary questions by using whatever means necessary. What he hadn’t counted on was the fact that Gina would reach out and call to something deep inside of him no other woman had ever been able to touch and that she would become the center around which his world revolved.Coming from a broken family, Gregg had been forced to watch his father beat his mother when he had been young. Intervention had landed him in hospital. When his mother had died when he had been 5 years old and his father had started the vicious cycle with other women, Gregg had finally left home when he had just been 10 years old and survived long enough to land in the army and later at the Zero Unit of CIA.

Gregg had just been following orders when he had brought Gina to the Zero Unit’s headquarters. Gregg’s orders had been to leave to Kurdistan on a 3 week mission immediately afterwards and he had only learnt of Gina’s capture by Al Sayika upon completion of his mission when the trail had gone long cold. Knowing that all the clues pointed towards  him as the traitor and the mole within CIA hadn’t deterred him from his self-appointed mission of rescuing his woman and keeping her safe.

Gina however is a woman who has other plans for her ex-lover. Betrayal from the man she had fallen so helplessly and completely in love with during such a short period of time had cut deep into her. Her plan is to exact revenge on Gregg, kill him with her own bare hands. To meet this end, Gina had agreed to act as bait to draw and lure Gregg in so that the STORM agents who were protecting her would finally be able to capture the traitor who had played such a vital role in making all their lives miserable. What Gina doesn’t fully comprehend is the fact that Gregg had been with her all the way, even when she had been recuperating from her injuries at Haven Oaks, a STORM-owned sanatorium in central New York. And when push comes to shove, it is Gregg who rescues her from imminent execution, a plan put into motion by a desperate man trying to tie up all the loose ends.

Meanwhile, Alex who had been left at the altar by his fiance Helena has also been recruited as a STORM agent and because of his lingering issues after his capture and torture at the Al Sayika’s hands for 16 months, Alex had been assigned to guard Gina’s home; a duty from which he is relieved in order to investigate some newly received intel which puts him directly at the path of Rebel, the one woman he has vowed he would stay away from because Alex is sure that he would never be able to give Rebel what she definitely deserves. But Alex can’t help himself when Rebel is nearly blown to pieces, another present from Al Sayika, and with no fiance to hold his loyalty, Alex lets his baser emotions take control with the woman he loves and wants to stay away from.

Rebel needless to say is ecstatic when Alex finally takes her in his arms and shows her in reality what she has been craving for ever since she had laid eyes on him. And when Alex drops the bombshell that nothing more could come out of their encounter Rebel is heartbroken to say the least and even a bit enraged to find why Alex had actually contrived to marry her friend Helena and presumes to know what Rebel actually wants in life.

As STORM and Gregg closes in on the traitor, the story of Gina’s ex-fiance Wade Montana and Metro Police Detective Sara McPhee also starts to unfold though its more of a side story. Before the traitor is caught, suspicions fall on both Gregg and Wade who both in their ways had contributed unknowingly towards the imminent capture of Gina by Al Sayika. The final showdown between the good and the bad guys definitely delivered what I wanted with a shocking revelation for a villain in the end.

As right from the very beginning, I totally heart Gregg and love the way he protects his woman though he believes he is not capable of giving or receiving love because of his dark past. The man he has shaped into makes for a deliciously edgy and dark hero enough to spice up the dreams of even a rusted old woman. Alex though at times I felt like hitting him on the head a time or  two beautifully made up for it in the end. Though Gregg and Gina is my favorite couple from the series (might have something to do with the fact that I am irresistibly drawn to Gregg) Alex and Rebel do come as my second favorite couple with Bobby Lee and Darcy from the previous story in the third.

This is a great series worth your time if you are a fan of romantic suspense who can handle equal amounts of terror and sensual delights all packed into one.

Favorite Quotes

In the mirrored film noir frames of the moving window, he (Gregg) searched her face for any sign of recognition. Or of alarm. And found none. Her eyes passed quickly over him.
But within himself, crouching right next to the anger that simmered and roiled in his chest, he felt a bone-deep physical recognition of her. And had a sudden, overwhelming need to put his hands on her. A need so potent and visceral it nearly sucked the breath from him.
He knew this woman, intimately. Knew her flesh and her fears. He had plunged deep inside her and felt her quake with the pleasure his presence there had brought her. And had felt her tremble with the fear of his absolute power over her.
He wanted to feel her quake and tremble again.
But she would never allow it. Never accept him again as she once had.
Because he had betrayed her.

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Review: If Looks Could Chill by Nina Bruhns

Format: E-bookiflookscouldchill
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Passion for Danger, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Marc Boudreaux Lafayette (Marc)
Heroines: Tara Reeves
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 1, 2009
Started On: September 21, 2010
Finished On: September 29, 2010

This book has taken me like forever to finish – not because the story was in anyway boring or didn’t measure up to its predecessor. I managed to get distracted by other books that I just HAD to read before I could come back and finish this great book which I left hanging for a while. Once again I just have to point out the fact that I am so VERY glad that I gave this series a chance based on the rave reviews this series has received. These books manage to keep the tempo up and running and I have never encountered a dull moment when I lost myself in the 2 stories of the series that I have managed to read so far.

Its hard to say that this is just the story of Marc Boudreaux Lafayette (Marc) and State Trooper First Class Tara Reeves (Tara)’s story alone – because this is just so much more than just your average romantic suspense story that is focused on one single hero and heroine. Rather equally interesting heroes and heroines come together to make these books one of the hottest and best romantic suspense books I have had the fortune to come across. I have to warn you though, before you proceed that there might be spoilers in my review for readers who have never read these books.

This story kicks off 5 years before the present day at the Dumani Embassy in Istanbul when two STORM (Strategic Technical Operations & Rescue Missions) agents Marc and Bobby Lee Quinn together with then CIA agent Darcy Zimmerman work together on a mission to access and photo digitize documents contained on the well guarded 3rd floor of the Embassy building – papers that contained the identities of the elusive two leaders Jalil Abu Bakr and Abbas Tawhid of the al Sayika terrorist organization. The papers also contained al-Sayika’s plans of a bio-weapon mix of deadly viruses to unleash to fulfill their purposes. This scene opens up the possibility of a very delicious liaison between Darcy and Bobby Lee, an attraction that flares between the two so scorching that  they don’t really have to play the part of being infatuated with one another to provide the diversion needed for Marc to do his thing. However, things go awfully wrong and Marc ends in jail, Darcy gets kicked out of CIA for unsavory conduct and gets hired by Bobby Lee as the newest recruit of STORM in the process as well.

Five years later, the setting is Lower St. Martin Parish, Louisiana where the al Sayika group has pretty much succeeded in creating the bio-weapon mix of the deadly viruses that could wipe out an entire continent. To meet this end, Dr. Gina Cappozia had been kidnapped at the end of book 1, a process that had been seemingly helped along by Captain Gregg van Halen of the Zero Unit of CIA. Kick Jackson (hero from Shoot to Thrill) and his best friend Alex Zane who had undergone 16 months of torture under the hands of al Sayika’s Jalil Abu Bakr, who had been killed by Kick at the end of Shoot to Thrill; had their own ideas about how a mole within the CIA was operating against them. Thus STORM was keeping  the whereabouts of Alex under wraps for the moment and in the process working to identify the mole and stop the terrorists from achieving what they hoped to gain on American soil.

Marc is less than happy when he encounters State Trooper First Class Tara Reeves who investigates the seemingly mysterious deaths of the swamp animals which Marc had been investigating. STORM’s orders that Tara be misled and neutralized using any means possible doesn’t sit well with Marc. Marc is not the type of man who can sit around twiddling his thumbs waiting for the action  to happen and the idea of babysitting the state trooper irked Marc more than he was willing to admit. But with his usual abundance of charm and wit he manages to convince an adamant Tara who wants to investigate what has caused the deaths that he is the best Cajun guide available to  take her along for the ride through the swamp, a ride made more precarious by the fact that Marc desperately wants to end his two year self imposed ban on sex with the delectable Tara who seems all wrong for him, an attraction that seems to be unequivocally returned by Tara herself. Their first encounter together is way off the charts hot, Marc’s Cajun charm lending that sizzling factor that zips through the reader with every scorching kiss and touch.

Equally interesting are the developments between Darcy and Bobby Lee, both of whom had been seeing each other on and off when time off from their busy schedules had allowed them to. Darcy and Bobby certainly doesn’t give the reader any reprieve to cool off after the encounters between Tara and Marc; in fact each encounter just keeps getting hotter and better. And of course, the story of Alex who is engaged to be married to Helena Middleton, whilst he yearns for FBI Special Agent Rebel Haywood, his friend and savior when he was been tortured horribly whom he calls his angel continues in this book as well and makes the reader yearn to just put them in a room for 48 hours and throw away the key until these two admit to the fact that they are definitely made for one another.

However things are far from what you expect when Dr. Gina’s ex-fiance Wade Montana comes into the scene and heads the investigation to find what has happened to her, an investigation that Rebel is part of and before long Rebel has done the hot and sweaty deed with Wade, though it is Alex that she yearns for day and night. The ending in this book for Alex and Rebel is not a happy one and I am definitely psyched to reach their happily ever after in the next book which brings back the brooding and mouth watering Gregg whose explosive encounters with Dr. Gina in book 1 knocked me off my feet.

All in all this book takes the reader on the wildest ride ever, never a moment to take a breather and get your heart rate back to its normal rhythm. Because if its not the ultimate bad guys with their hair raising evil plans to commit mass murder, the hot encounters between all equally strong and mouth watering men with women definitely made for them keeps the excitement levels always at a 10. Whilst Darcy and Bobby Lee together with Marc and Tara gets their happy endings in this story, I am definitely looking forward to how Alex and Rebel as well as Gregg and Gina would attain their ever afters with one another.

Definitely very highly recommended for fans of romantic suspense who loves a scorching hot read.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo


Review: Shoot to Thrill by Nina Bruhns

Format: E-bookshoot
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Passion for Danger, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Hero: Kyle Jackson (Kick)
Heroine: Lorraine Martin (Rainie)
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 4, 2009
Started On: September 19, 2010
Finished On: September 20, 2010

My first Nina Bruhns is one that I certainly would not forget anytime soon. I am so very glad that the hot cover art that caught my eye had me searching up on the book and in the end succumbed enough to keep my TBR pile as it is before sinking into this adrenaline packed story. This is the first book in the series Passion for Danger, and boy am I glad that the next two books in the series have already been published, cos I don’t think I would have found it in me to be patient for a period of time to find out what will happen to the rest of the interesting stories that had cropped out of this one.

Kyle Jackson (Kick) had formerly worked for the CIA NOC-Ops (Non Official Cover) Unit, which is a top secret and highly covert branch of the CIA. Kick had been 17 when he had joined the Marines, and even back then he had been damaged goods. Throughout the story, his childhood is hinted to have been a difficult one, though not much light is shed on his former life apart from the fact he had escaped from home when he had been only 14 years old. All the rage inside of him had driven him to be the most lethal kind of Marine and had led to the CIA recruiting him to their Zero Unit, which had sent him off to war torn countries like Afghanistan and Sudan on suicide missions. One gets the feeling from reading between the lines that Zero Unit is not something one escapes from, as Kick is relentlessly hunted down 16 months after he had nearly ended up been blown to pieces by a land mine in Afghanistan and watched his best friend Christopher Alexander Zane die.

The months of therapy that had followed had made Kick more determined that he would not return to his old life ever. Dodging the teams sent out to bring him back seems to be all Kick has been doing lately. And when the last attempt to take him back tells him that they mean business, Kick manages to escape knowing that with his current addiction to oxycontin, a severely addictive painkiller which his doctor had stopped prescribing but Kick had found a means to get  from a dealer. Knowing that the time has come to get detoxed from the drug, Kick walks in on a speed dating event held for the medical staff of Bellevue Hospital impersonating his friend Dr. Nathan Daneby who works for Doctors for Peace in godforsaken countries.

Lorraine Martin (Rainie) a nurse practitioner is dragged to the speed dating event by her best friend Dr. Gina Cappozia a medical doctor and a tenured professor who headed a genetics research project at Colombia University and did a stint of pediatrics at Bellevue every week against Rainie’s better judgment. Working in the ER and dealing day in and day out with blood, drugs, violence and senseless deaths left no time or inclination on Rainie’s part to be interested in dating. Having witnessed the brutal murder of her parents by a carjacker when she had been a mere twelve years old, Rainie battles with fear of random violence and hates chaos, disorder and situations that she is unable to control. Rainie has never used any means of transportation since her parents murder though she yearns to be able to be bold enough to experience the wild adventures that Dr. Nathan Daneby must face in his day-to-day life, someone Rainie has always admired throughout the years.

Gina and her tendency to date younger men who are willing to show her a good time with none of the macho Neanderthal stuff that she abhorred, had been practically salivating over the feast of young studs before her eyes with a bored and restless Rainie by her side. That is until Rainie eyes the dark and dangerous looking man who meets her eyes across the room, sending a frisson of awareness through her unlike anything she had ever experienced before starting to move through the roomful of people towards her.

Kick had gatecrashed the party wanting two things. A woman who was needy enough to let him use sex as a means to stay with her for a couple of days until he is able to deal with his addiction better, so that he wouldn’t be as weak as a newborn babe out of the woods when he had to face his old unit. But his plans go so delightfully wrong when Rainie arouses him beyond compare, and in a moment of sheer panic when his old life had flashed in front of his eyes, Kick accidentally blows the cover he had been using and kidnaps Rainie at gunpoint.

Rainie can’t believe that a moment ago she had been letting the man with the wicked looking gun trained at her kiss her senseless and feels immensely betrayed by her body when it still yearns for his touch. Before the night is through, Rainie gives in the urge to touch and to feel with the man who sets her senses on fire, before learning that Kick was an addict looking for help to deal with the withdrawal stage. And when Kick’s former unit comes in blazing with their guns and takes both Kick and Rainie, Rainie is given no choice but to tag along.

Kick is summoned by his previous commander Colonel Frank Blair, to kill Jalil Abu Bakr, the person who was the most notorious of the two leaders of al Sayika terrorist organization which was hellbent on bombing the US embassy in Khartoum, the British, the French and the UN diplomatic mission. Kick knows that he would not be able to turn his back on getting his revenge on the man who had killed his best friend and thus amidst the withdrawal symptoms that racks his body, agrees to the mission in Sudan. Meanwhile Rainie is coerced into monitoring a rapid detox procedure which was still in its experimental stages which takes nearly 72 hours to rid the body of the effects of a drug.

With the unit operating on a tight time schedule, Rainie who has never flown anywhere in her entire 30 years of life finds herself forced to accompany Kick to Egypt from where he would be transferred to Sudan, the place of his mission. And with the withdrawal symptoms still attacking Kick’s body, Rainie forcefully accompanies them on the FedEx plane that is to airlift them to Sudan from where she would say her goodbyes to the man who had lit up her world in fireworks.

But things go awfully wrong when Rainie and Kick barely escape with their lives intact when their plane is blown into pieces over the Sudanese desert. From there, its a game of cat and mouse to evade the terrorists who had been tipped off somehow, and it is Kick’s vow that he would protect Rainie from the horrors and dangers of being captured by a vile organization such as the al Sayika.

It is on this mission that the reader is introduced to STORM Corps (Strategic Technical Operations & Rescue Missions) and Marc Lafayette who belongs to this elite organization who barely escapes with severe injuries from the blast. The three of the survivors make their way to the medical camp set up by Doctors for Peace and seeing Dr. Nathan Daneby, Kick’s long term friend and the one who evidence points towards as been the traitor nearly makes Kick seethe with anger enough to kill his friend with his bare hands.

Somehow, with Marc injured, Rainie is the only one left to accompany him on his dangerous mission and against all the misgivings that Kick has, he lets the woman he loves tag along with him. It is at the camp that Kick finds out that his best friend had not been killed, but might as well have been when he comes face to face with the shrunken skeleton of the man Alex had been, with filth and pus oozing scabs and evidence of severe beatings covering his whole body with no memory of who he is with his eyesight nearly gone.

Alex’s story is an intriguing one, one which had me more intrigued than the actual story at times. Alex dreams of a red haired woman, who comes to him in his dreams, tempts him beyond anything he has known and keeps him sane throughout the 16 months of torture he endures. When the story finally ends, Alex finds out that he is engaged to be married to a woman who he does not recognize whilst the one who walks in with her supposedly fiance, his FBI friend according to her, is the woman who had been haunting his dreams all throughout! Man, Nina Bruhns certainly knows how to keep a reader guessing till the very end and keep them begging for more, much more!

Whilst all this is happening, back in the states, Gina is relentless in her attempts to find out what had happened to her best friend. Finally her attempts yield fruit when she comes face to face with the mouth wateringly handsome and larger than life and older than herself Captain Gregg van Halen. Gregg made me go weak at my knees a time or two, with his rough and tough loving that Gina craves and ultimately struggles to give into. In the end, Gregg betrays her and leaves her at the mercy of God knows what before the story ends. Talk about leaving us hanging! But the good thing is the 3rd book in the series is Gregg and Gina’s story, and boy I can’t wait to sink into that one! And that supposedly contains Alex and his mysterious lady Rebel’s story as well. *Drools!*

Fast paced, filled with enough heat to keep you warm through the coldest night, this is one book that fans of romantic suspense should NOT forgo! Kick and Rainie gets their happily ever after with both of them learning a thing or two about themselves and rising above all the hurdles to embrace the fierce love that they have for one another. Highly recommended; if you haven’t already read this series, keep your TBR pile as it is and start on this one ASAP! Yes, it is that good!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo