Pursuit of Happiness by Carsen Taite

I am not going to lie, I was very hesitant to pick up a book based on politics. In today’s political climate it is hard enough to read the news every day without becoming more and more depressed. I read to escape, so whether its fact or fictional politics, is that an area I want to wade into? The author is was what sold me on this one. I like Taite’s style of writing. She is consistent in terms of quality and always writes strong female characters that are as intelligent as they are beautiful.

Senator Meredith Mitchel is part of a political dynasty. Her family knows the political arena well. Being president is a dream of Meredith’s but that’s years from now. When the story begins, Meredith is fully backing another female Democrat, a senior senator from Texas who has been positioning herself for the presidency for years. A wrench is suddenly thrown in Merideth’s plan to wait out this presidential cycle. A damning scandal hits and suddenly Meredith’s name has shot to the very top of the candidate wish list. The biggest question is does she go for it, and everyone is pushing for a yes, everyone but the women she has developed the biggest crush on.

Our other main is Stevie Palmer. Stevie is a public defender in DC who avoids politics at all cost. She will testify before Congress on criminal justice reform but anything more than that is too much. Her focus is on her work and ensuring justice for her clients. Through hard work and a ton of sacrifices, Stevie has found herself in a job she loves and friends she can count on. As attracted as she is to Senator Mitchel dating a presidential nominee is overwhelming and the spotlight is blinding.

First off, yes this book deals with politics, but I would not say it is not a political heavy book. I think more than anything it makes you wish this was real life and not what we are currently living through. I really liked both characters and I thought their romance was sweet but the story needed to focus on them as much as it did on Meredith’s campaign. I felt it tilted more towards a drama than a true romance. My biggest fault with this book is that the ending was way too fast and abrupt. It felt like the pacing was off when the book was screaming for more chapters. We hit the crescendo of the story and then bam the end. I needed more and I wanted more from this book. Still good, just could have been great.

3 stars out of 5 stars

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A More Perfect Union by Carsen Taite

A More Perfect Union by Carsen Taite is a military scandal with the potential to rock Washington to its core with a small side of romance. This web of deception is riveting to the end.

Lt. Colonel Zoey Granger has arrived at our nation’s capital to tell members of Congress the corruption she uncovered while stationed at Fort Bragg. A whistleblower who knows that her life is going to be turned upside down, but her sense of honor about doing what is right overrules anything else.

Rook Daniels is a fixer. She, like Olivia Pope, handles the scandals that D.C. breeds and changes their narrative to assist politic’s elite. This has made her one of the whos-who of Washington D.C.

A chance run-in at an airport bar, Rook helps Zoey get out of the eye of the media for a short time. These two immediately hit it off and have that moment where you wish you were anywhere else, not dealing with a work disaster. Never fear, they will meet again. Only this time the corruption is much direr and includes the Oval Office. The problem is they are working on the same case just one for the heads of military and Rook straight for the White House.

This is a fabulously written tightly woven political/military intrigue with a large helping of romance. I enjoyed every minute and was on the edge of my seat the whole time. This one is a great read! Carsen Taite never disappoints!

4.25 out of 5 stars

A More Perfect Union

The Chameleon’s Tale by Andrea Bramhall

This is an amazing book that captures your attention and doesn’t let go to the final chapter. A story if two strong women fighting for justice, rekindling an old friendship and finding true love all the while uncovering one of the biggest scandals in South African history.
Imogene Frost is a barrister in London. She grew up in South Africa, but after her mother was brutally murdered she was sent to boarding school by her wealthy land-owning father. Bitterness and contempt have filled her heart and she swore to never return to her birthplace, but the death of her father forces her hand.

Amahle, the daughter of Mr. Frost’s maid, was Imogene’s dearest childhood friend. These two were inseparable until Imogene was forced to move. Amahle has grown up to be a successful politician, fighting for the injustices of the South African people. Her causes include women’s right and public HIV treatment, she has made life’s mission to be a champion for those who have been horribly suppressed.

At times this story can be gut wrenching, chaotic and gritty. The stories of rape and torture are harrowing, my stomach turned on more than one occasion. What Bramhall does is throw you headfirst into the story. You feel the character’s pain as much as their triumphs. This captures your attention and blazes right through chapter after chapter. Fair warning you will not and cannot put this book down. Good news is there is a happy ending and hopefully many more adventures for Amahle and Imogene.

4 out of 5 stars

The Chameleon’s Tale
by Andrea Bramhall
Link: http://a.co/5peX7PY

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Swelter by D. Jackson Leigh

If you have a passion for ranch management, well then this is the book for you. I’m talking livestock production, breeding programs, animal health, management principles with a side of romance and a nefarious drug lord.

Griffin Reese is an up and coming defense lawyer from Dallas. Her business partner and lover, Christine, begins taking legal cases for drug kingpin and all hell breaks loose. On the run from the man who aims to kill her before she can testify in federal court, Griffin hides out on her grandfather’s cattle ranch in the panhandle of Texas.

Teal Giovanni was a US senator’s right-hand woman and her lover too. The problem is the senator happens to be married, while the senor’s husband is understanding of her extramarital affairs, her constituents are not. When the press catches wind of Washington’s juiciest headline, Teal is cast aside while her boss plays innocent. She tucks her tail between her legs and heads for her cousin’s ranch in New Mexico. Her car gives out, and she is stranded in Texas and guess who rescues her, you got it, Griffin.

Where books with similar premises thrive (ex. Carsen Taite’s latest, Without Justice), this one does not. Swelter is not a long book by any means but it feels like you just read forever. There are too many details about inconsequential subjects, which become distracting, and quite frankly boring as hell. Paragraphs about castrating cattle just don’t make my heart swoon, but hey maybe it’s just me. The setting should add to a story, not be the story.

2 out of 2 stars

Swelter
by D. Jackson Leigh
Link: http://a.co/3JIUqQW

Conservative Affairs by Riley Scott

Conservative Affairs by Riley Scott is a down and dirty look of politics in the South. A conservative female mayor in Oklahoma City better be red through and through, this is the reddest state in the union after all.

Jo Carson is the daughter of a preacher. Not just any preacher either. Jo’s dad is the pastor for a mega-church, one that has a large number of parishioners as well as clout in the political arena. Therefore Jo stays deep in the closet. She knows that even on toe out, means she will be disowned by her family. After college Jo takes a job as a speech writer for Mayor Madeline Stratton. She knows between her job and her family there is no room for any personal slip-ups.

Mayor Stratton is in a terrible marriage, one she should have never gotten into in the first place. Her political goals trumped her heart’s desires, and now she must live a life she doesn’t really enjoy. Her husband has come to despise her, and will only speak to her in public settings. She knows he sleeps with other women, she just hopes he’s being discreet. All hell breaks loose when her husband gets caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar by the local news station. This scandal forces Madeline and Jo into a close proximity and closets doors a burst wide open.

I like some aspects of this book, the writing is well done and I enjoyed reading about the crazy political arena and how issues are handled. What I did not enjoy was the POV’s. Every character gets one, and it got to be too much. I wanted more of a focus on Madeline and Jo, but I was constantly pulled back out of that focus by a sub-character and their inconsequential opinions and feelings. I also had a hard time with the timing. These characters fall into lust then love in basically the time span of a long weekend. Now, I see this time and time again in romance novels, and it works in some cases. What was difficult to me is both women were deep in the closest, one by career and marriage, the other by family. You’re not going to just go tell the world (by world, I mean Channel 11 news in OKC) for a 1.5 day love affair. That was a tad unrealistic to me.

Overall Riley Scott is a very good writer, who created an interesting story with likable characters. This was not my favorite book, but I would definitely pick up another book by this author.

3 out of 5 stars

Conservative Affairs
by Riley Scott
Link: http://amzn.com/B00M275KB8

Anyone But You by K.G. MacGregor

I picked up six books this weekend off of Bella Books Christmas sale. Anyone But You by K.G. MacGregor was one of them. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to get around to reading this one, it has good reviews, I’m so glad I finally did.

The book covers one of America’s biggest issues, the use of fossil fuels, and in this particular case, oil. K.G MacGregor in my opinion did a good job of telling both sides of the story. This is not a political propaganda book. MacGregor does a fantastic job of outlining the issues, and letting each side tell the story. Wait, I thought this is a romance? Well yes, it’s that too.

Cathryn Mack is the PR Director for Nations Oil. She is a 44 year old, smart, sexy, established woman who has to claw her way to the top. The oil business is a good ol’ boys club, and Cathryn has had to work hard to stay on top. She is one step away from executive level, and she has put in 22 years with Nations Oil to get to the point. Cathryn now finds herself headed Duluth, Minnesota to deal with an oil pipeline that has just busted and is spilling into a local lake.

Stacie Pilardi, the other protagonist in the story, heads up a an environmental activist group called CLEAN. Stacie has made her life’s work holding big businesses accountable for the messes they make in regards to the environment. Stacie grew up wealthy, and she has put her wealth to good use. She uses smart, ethical tactics to let the general public know of the problems that have been created when we don’t protect Mother Earth.

These two ladies should be adversaries, not lovers, right. Well a chance meeting on a dating site, leads them right to each other. Both ladies meet and have several hookups, before the truth of what they do for a living gets brought to the table. By this time they are already developing feelings for one another. You’ve been sleeping with your biggest rival, yikes!

What I liked about this book is each of two leading ladies didn’t buckle to the other one’s political beliefs, like grownups they were able see past this hurdle. They respectfully held their ground on agreeing to disagree. The romance is nice and sweet, and they each have mutual respect for one another in spades. I thought overall it as an interesting read, but if I had one gripe the chemistry between the two characters was a little weak to me. They do jump into bed early into the book, and it works for the story, but personally I like the buildup. Overall, a nice well written book.

3.75 stars out of 5

  • Publisher: Bella Books
  • www.bellabooks.com/
Anyone But You
by KG MacGregor
Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B00M27BONQ
Anyone But You - eBook

The Red Files by Lee Winter

Whoa, wow, awesome! These are some of the adjectives that may fly out of your mouth as you finish The Red Files by Lee Winter. What an amazing book. Ms. Winter did everything right with this one. The mystery is multi-layered, the characters are fascinating and tenacious. Oh yeah, the romance is pretty damn good too! To say I was blown away would be an understatement.

Lauren King is a journalist for the LA Centennial. She writes about the celebrities glittering the screens of Hollywood, and what parties the who’s-who are attending. She has zero desire to do this type of frivolous reporting. Lauren is an ambitious investigative reporter who is chomping at the bit to get the go ahead to report real news. Lauren is smart, thoughtful and fearless.

Catherine Ayers is a blue blooded, ex-Washington bureau chief. She has been abused by the good-ol boy club that runs politics. She was forced out of DC by a political maneuver that took her career and all her supposed friends. Ayers is now being forced to suffer out her the remainder of her contract by being the Centennial’s gossip page reporter. Catherine is vicious, cold and has a tongue that will slash her foes to threads. She is also extraordinarily intelligent, honest and at the perfect moments, she is tender.

Catherine and Lauren are like oil and water. These two get extreme pleasure out of making the other one squirm. It is delightful! They treat each other as arch rivals. Both of these women are being held back career wise, so they use the other as their scratching post. Claws out! Their banter is legendary, quick wit that is not only humorous, but also very smart. There were times the barbs they threw at each other caused me to wince, but every time they redeemed themselves.

The meat of the book is a much-layered mystery involving a start-up corporation and with a big brother complex. I won’t go to any details, I definitely do not want to ruin this for any would-be readers. The story is so good! This is fast paced novel, by a great storyteller. The book is the perfect length, I never felt like we were rushing to wrap it up and put a bow on it. This book is solid gold.

5 out of 5 stars

The Red Files
by Lee Winter
Link: http://amzn.com/B014LOTHYK