#Super-Thriller – So This Is Love (Callaways #2) by Barbara Freethy

The blurb reads,

Emma Callaway, a hot fire investigator clashes with Max Harrison, a cool homicide detective in SO THIS IS LOVE, the second book in the Callaway Series, by #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy

For Max Harrison, love seduces and then destroys. His brother went to prison for love. His father left his family for love. And Max is determined not to follow in their footsteps, until he meets Emma…

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Emma runs into burning buildings without an ounce of fear and embraces life as if every day is a new adventure. But while she’s fearless on the job, Emma is a coward when it comes to love. Betrayed by an ex-boyfriend, Emma has no intention of putting her heart on the line again, until she meets Max…

As the fires around the city rage, the heat between them ignites in a blaze of passion that’s far more dangerous. Will it destroy them or will they finally get everything they ever wanted…

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I’ve finished reading 5 books from the Callaways and I’m on ‘That Summer Night’ now. And this one remains my favorite from all the books.

Emma is my favorite Callaway. She is deeply intuitive, wise and warm. She is friendly and immediately makes you want to be friends with her. She is best friends with Sara and makes an appearance in Book 1 when she welcomes Sara back to San Francisco.

Emma is an arson investigator. She looks into fires which appear suspicious and investigate whether it has a criminal intent to it. Very interesting but highly dangerous work. Is this danger going to catch up with Emma sometime?

Max is someone who has secrets. His brother was convicted 7 years ago. Max has lived his life in the pale shadow of guilt and shame for not helping his brother. He evades love no matter what. He is convinced that love is not worth anything.

When these two meet, sparks fly immediately. Emma tries to ignore them and Max acts gruff whenever he meets Emma. But then their attraction is undeniable. Sparks fly everytime they meet. And no matter how much Emma and Max try to avoid it, they fall into a deep vortex of trying to get to know each other and falling in love.

In the meantime, there is a serial arsonist in San Francisco. He is targeting everything that the Callaways hold dear. Who is the arsonist? What problem does s/he have? Destroying places which Emma holds dear. Is this an arsonist or is he getting much more bolder with each step? Will he stoop to murder next?

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And I found that in terms of suspense, this book had it all. I was so involved with Emma and Max and their story. I was also trying to solve the arsonist’s identity in my mind.

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This was a great book to read. Emma and Max were both afraid of love and it sort of reminded me of myself when I was a little younger. I too was burnt and hesitated about letting myself go. But when I decided to take the plunge and say yes, it was the most beautiful experience ever. It IS the most beautiful experience EVEN NOW.

Likewise, I found myself falling for Max and Emma as a couple. It is so important in a romance to have a connection to both the people. It always matters to see the book from the POV of the man and the woman. To slowly discover their feelings and then to go with the flow when they metamorph from Me to We.

I appreciated the level of suspense and mystery in this book. I enjoyed the writing and also how engaged I was when I was reading the book. It mattered a lot to me that Emma felt like a shadow of myself and that was an added bonus.

My Rating: 5/5

5 star

This book really made me want to read about the Callaways. It made me want to discover and peel every layer of each Callaway and find what made their family the way they were. It sort of set me up to reading into them and was definitely miles better than Book 1.

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#Stellar Beginning – On A Night Like This (Callaways #1) by Barbara Freethy

The blurb reads,

From #1 NY times Bestselling Author, Barbara Freethy, comes a romantic new contemporary series about the Callaways, a big, blended Irish family born to serve and protect.

The second oldest of the Callaway clan, Aiden Callaway veered from the family tradition of urban firefighting and became a smokejumper, never questioning his choice until the job took the life of his friend, Kyle, and left Aiden with injuries and fractured memories. Everyone blames Aiden for what happened, but he doesn’t remember, nor is he sure he wants to remember.

The truth may clear Aiden of blame but destroy Kyle’s reputation and hurt the people he left behind. 
 
 Aiden seeks help from an unlikely partner… 
 
 Sara had always been untouchable, sweet, innocent, his sister’s best friend, and the girl next door. But one reckless night in their youth took their relationship to a new level.

Sara has never forgiven or forgotten the way Aiden brought it crashing down, but she’s no longer that girl with the crazy crush. She’s a woman in search of her own truth. The sparks between Aiden and Sara have been smoldering for a very long time. Sara is afraid to take another chance on a man who broke her heart, and Aiden knows better than anyone how dangerous an intense fire can be.

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All Callaway Book CoversAs teenagers they weren’t ready for each other. Are they now?

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Right, so I’ve always wanted to read these series romances which talk about one family member at a time. I’ve not had the gift card balance on Amazon or a credit card to make those sort of purchases. And in a way, I’ve felt these books were too expensive for a common reader like me who barely makes money working online.

So when my favorite blog tour company, Novel Publicity, came out with a tour where I could read all the 8 books from a series, I jumped. I quite literally jumped. And I signed up for it.

I didn’t know I would be in for a huge huge ride. I am reading Book 6 as I type this review out and I cannot wait to discover what these others have in store for me.

I’ve always loved Romance and Suspense and I’ve always believed that their combination is potent. There are those books which are predominantly suspense which have a smattering of romance or erotica in them but this series isn’t like that. I can tell you that after having read 5 books with a different mystery and a different suspense being built up concurrently with a romance.

There’s an almost surreal quality to Romance novels in today’s age and time. We work so hard in our daily life and by some stroke, we live extremely stressful lives. Romance as a genre has such an important role in making people wear slightly tinted glasses, even for those 150 odd pages so that they can live a life where there is a HEA (Happily Ever After) involved.

The book starts off with Sara. She’s lived a life as a by-product of her father’s harsh judgement and cynicism. She’s lived her whole life being saddened by this rejection and feeling that her father somehow abdicated his responsibilities but not having enough courage to speak up.

And that strikes so close to home in so many cases. Expectations of doing well are so rife these days that a slight error of judgement can make parents lose their cool. Parenting in these times is hard.

Aiden is the second Callaway who has a slight history with Sara. He rejected her advances as a teenager adding to Sara’s guilt and rejection, damaging her further psychologically.

Sara comes to San Francisco to mend fences with her father and gets caught up in a fire. Aiden is home to get over the guilt of not saving his best friend. He needs answers.

A fire in Aiden’s neighboring house brings these two together. They embark on a journey to find out what secrets Sara’s father had fostered all these years and to find out what really happened in that smokejumping accident which caused Aiden’s best friend, Kyle’s death.

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My thoughts about this novel were that it seemed too conventional, the set up. Two people who came together and then slowly fell in love.

But then I was wrong. I realised I didn’t get anything being cynical about romance. I read the book like how it was, without drawing parallels to my own life and it flew so much better.

I could imagine Sara’s plight because I know how it is to feel like you’ve let someone down and then have the burden of not living up to expectations. That’s why I connected to Sara.

I somehow didn’t manage to connect as much to Aiden. I wanted to know more about his inner demons and his fears but somehow he did not bare himself as much as I would have liked. He felt a little aloof and that is the only place where I felt the book lacked.

When I read through the book, it just seemed like a movie playing right in front of my eyes with drama, love, peace, emotions and fire!!

This book started this series off with a BANG and I couldn’t wait to read what happened next. For the next few days when I read novel after novel, I could feel my life literally coming to a standstill as I ploughed through suspense after suspense to strip one Callaway bare after the other.

My Rating: 4/5

This is the perfect set up for the other 8 books. You can trace the journey of the Callaways and you mostly end up guessing which Callaway is going to be featured next. That’s the best part, moving forward with the book, moving forward with the characters.

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#GuestPost by Alyson Miers- Author of Suicide is for Mortals

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What is so Special about Vampires?

It used to be that blood-sucking creatures of the night were vicious, predatory (albeit seductive) objects of fear, nothing more. In recent decades, they’ve become more complex. We used to be afraid of vampires, and werewolves, and now everyone wants to date them. Buffy the Vampire Slayer raised us to understand that vampires and demons could be friends to mortals, instead of foes, if they were so determined. While I have not read the Twilight series, I can understand Meyer’s interest in the pathos of vampires and werewolves. These are concepts of dangerous magical creatures who used to be human and now have little choice but to prey on humans.

Suicide is for Mortals by Alyson Miers

My new novel includes vampires but not werewolves. There are various reasons for the omission, which may include that vampires’ condition affects them the same way all month long, and that they pass for human as long as they’re not eating. An important difference between werewolves and vampires is that for the latter, attacking humans is not merely about aggression and compulsion, but about survival. Blood is their food, and what happens when a vampire starves? This is one of the questions that arise in Suicide is for Mortals.

What remains of the people they used to be, and how do they feel about killing and eating people? How were they turned? There is space in the concepts for people to ask to become predatory creatures, but most of the ones we read about were turned against their will. Do they have any agency in the transition from victim of magical assault to nocturnal predator? Do they have little choice in preying on mortal humans like they used to be, or no choice at all? If there is a choice in the matter, how do they figure that out, and how do they exercise what little control they have?

Has a vampire ever tried to kill himself, and if so, what was the result? Even if he does everything right after joining the undead, how happy can he ever be? How do the undead get along with each other? How does the pursuit of pleasure change for those who can’t go out in daylight? What does love mean to those who feed on the blood of people who could have been their neighbors, friends and family?

These are the questions we ask when we write stories about vampires who aren’t villains, or even those who are villains but still have their own stories to tell. These are the paths we want to walk when we read these stories.

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The struggle over these changes surely leads many of the predatory undead to brood and rage against the loss of their humanity, even as the transition makes them more powerful than they could ever have been as mortals. We love the idea of that brooding, tortured soul lurking in our graveyards and dark alleys, don’t we? We’d love to be there to comfort him, and for the most part we don’t want to join him. We’re confident that the gorgeous undead predator would never hurt us, tempting though it may be to sink his fangs into our necks.

My vamps looked over my list of talking points for their condition and told me to pull up a comfy chair and get out some paper and pen, because I had a lot to learn from them. My bewildered newborn Scanlon, his cynical pack leader Andra, and our hardened predator Patrick love to turn my ideas upside down and shake them to see what falls out of their pockets. Nevertheless, they appreciate my willingness to listen to them, and they will be glad to meet you. Patrick will never say so, but Scanlon will be pleased to make your acquaintance.

Of course, my vamps do not hold this novel’s attention undivided in coping with the trials of immortality. The world of After Rezarta also bears ghosts. In the hierarchy of the living and undead, mocking and taunting ghosts is the only thing that lets vampires forget about their condition. Our ghost, Miranda, has a complicated history with the magical community, which makes it all the sweeter for the vamps to find out she’s a “spook.”

I’m not pleased with the way they treat her, but she dealt with much worse in her lifetime. One might think the undead and the spectral would be prepared to band together, but they have in common that they used to be human, and we humans know how gifted we are at exacerbating our divisions and undermining our common interests. Innocent people may well die if those vamps cannot deign to listen to their hated ghost. I will simply have to trust my vamps to do the right thing.

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