Apache Strike Force

Sweet fricking Raptor Jesus, if there was any public trace of March’s exploits, I could kiss my dreams of a white-picket fence and family Christmas good-bye.

Camilla Monk
Apache Strike Force

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
He’s death from the sky, ready to strike. He never compromises, never lets go, never settles for second best when it comes to his offspring. He’s the… Apache.

With his nose-mounted sensor, night vision system and 30 mm chain gun, Simon Halder isn’t your average helicopter dad, and when Island, the daughter he thought he had lost, reappears after eight months of captivity, someone’s gonna have to pay.

But since pretty much everyone involved has paid already, there’s only one target left in sight for this attack helicopter… Island’s new boyfriend: the man people just call March.

Point of view:
1st Person. Entirely from Island’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Yay! I finished my listen through of the series leading up to book #5 the audio of which was released on Camilla Monk’s website this week.

Like everything else in the series this isn’t a stand alone – but it’s a fun novella to bridge the gap between books 4 & 5 and an opportunity for Island and March to experience “normal life”.

Narration:
Amy McFadden – holy shit was she creepy for the first 30% of this. That’s a Any McFadden is fantastic as always.

About the author:
Camilla Monk is a virtually unknown author who somehow tricked a bunch of people into publishing books about ostriches and killer platypuses.

A French native who grew up in a Franco-American family, she taught English and French in Tokyo before returning to France to work in advertising. After ten years spent building rickety websites for financial companies, she now lives and writes in Montreal, where she keeps a close watch on the squirrels and complains on a daily basis about the egregious number of Tim Hortons.

Her writing credits include the English resumes and cover letters of a great many French friends, and some essays as well. She’s also the critically acclaimed author of a few passive-aggressive notes pasted in her building’s elevator.

You can connect with Camilla Monk here:

About the narrator:
From Amy’s website: Hi! This part is all about me. Just me. It feels weird to write a bunch of stuff about myself but I don’t like pictures of me so I’ll have to use words instead.

I live in Michigan with my fiancé, Joe Anderson. He makes me laugh so much I never have to do situps. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t do situps anyway, but hey, it’s still a nice bonus to our love.

I’m an actress now, and I used to be a 2nd grade teacher. I loved that part of my life, but after doing it for a bunch of years, I was ready to move on to the next version of me. They’re not really very different versions-teachers and actresses both reach out and engage people through stories. I’m NOT a morning person, but waking up to tell stories makes mornings better-than-tolerable.

I love books and the Muppets and smart people and kind people (not necessarily in that order) and sleeping and chocolate and coffee and writers and learning and Oreo cookies and a bunch of other stuff-but I’m starting to make myself gag on all this love.

I hate a bunch of stuff, too, but who cares about that junk? It’s probably the same stuff you hate, so I won’t bore you. Except I REALLY hate listening to people eat bananas.

You can connect with Amy McFadden here:

My Favorite Quotes

Sweet fricking Raptor Jesus, if there was any public trace of March’s exploits, I could kiss my dreams of a white-picket fence and family Christmas good-bye. – Apache Strike Force by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Night and day, the hyper-anxious banker and the glacial hit man. – Apache Strike Force by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

God, if he ever shaved that chest hair, I’d need victim counseling to recover. – Apache Strike Force by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Eulogy

All wars are different. Some are lost with words unsaid.

Rachel Van Dyken
Eulogy

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
All is lost, I shall not be found.

I don’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore.
My thoughts are filled with hatred and dripping with rage. I’ve lost my soul. She took it to the depths of Hell with her and haunts me with images of what could have been.

Sixty lives are mine to take.
Sixty lives stand in the way of my vengeance.
Sixty lives plus one more.

Mine.

When the last drop of their blood falls — mine will be spilled. Only one person stands in the way. She doesn’t realize I’ll kill her too. I don’t own a heart. And even if I did — I wouldn’t fall prey to its lies again.

I am Chase Abandonato. Heir to a legacy of betrayal. And I will kill them all. Even if it means pointing the gun at myself.

A life for a life.
A soul for a soul.
Now I lay me down to sleep… I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Blood in. No out.

Point of view:
1st Person. Alternating perspectives by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is my absolute favorite of the Eagle Elite books. Because it’s the culmination of so many events across the series, I disagree that it’s a “standalone”. Rachel Van Dyken does give a little bit of background info and you might be OK only reading this – but minimally, I’d read Entice, Empire, & Enrage. Van Dyken has a reading order on her website.

I appreciate this book the most because it completely leaves the NA element behind bringing all characters into full adulthood. Chase is so broken but determined in this one – a true “anti-hero” while Luciana brings a naivete that proves to be a balm to his battered soul. There’s no denying that while their road is fraught with danger, Chase & Luc are so perfect for each other.

This book is also provides a bit of a set up for Debase, the first book in a spin-off series, Elite Bratva Brotherhood.

Narration:
I am incredibly disappointed. One of my favorite things about the recordings for this series is that each character has his/her own narrator. Pretty much throughout the books. Until now. These narrators were in the last book (Enrage) but playing different characters. Which kills the cohesion achieved up to this point. Most of the chapters are told from Chase (David Brenin) or Luciana’s (Scarlett Chase) POV. But there are chapters by Nixon, Phoenix, Tex, Andrei & Trace. Nixon, Phoenix, & Andrei are still narrated by David Brenin but Tex is narrated by Rob Shapiro and Trace is narrated by Kit Swann.

I’m especially disappointed that Scarlet Chase was cast again. I love her as a narrator (Blacktop Cowboys series is phenomenal), but she definitely has a “mature” voice which doesn’t fit with the 19-24yo characters she keeps narrating.

At the beginning of each chapter is a little “blurb” that’s a quote from “Agent P”. I really wish they’d chosen a narrator just for these quotes. Even having read & listened to the book several times, it’s kind of confusing to know who is talking because it changes depending on who is narrating that particular chapter. (See above about narrator roulette).

Probably the most distracting thing about the recording is that Scarlet Chase pronounces Luciana as “loo-chee-ah-na” and her nickname “Luc” as “Luke”. The book specifically describes “Luc” to be pronounced “Luke”. While David Brenin pronounces Luciana as “loo-cee-ah-na” and the nickname as “loose”. Considering Luciana/Luc appears in the book over 150 times ~ this is a HUGE oversight and incredibly annoying.

To be clear, it’s not the narrator’s specific performances I have an issue with – it’s the overall production of the audiobook. Definitely buy the book, but I’d encourage you to pass on adding the audiobook to your library.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
This is mafia. There are murders, torture, and other violence. Mention of miscarriage.

About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA TODAY Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. 

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and, adorable son.

You can connect with Rachel Van Dyken here:

My Favorite Quotes

All wars are different. Some are lost with words unsaid. Eulogy by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

You can’t hate someone wearing a headband. You just can’t. Eulogy by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

Safe isn’t real. You know that, right? It’s just what we tell people so they feel better about their shitty lives and actions. Eulogy by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

Crystal Whisperer

I had touched Area 51! Not for long though, because there’s only so much clumsy teasing a man can take when he’s been single for four years.

Camilla Monk
Crystal Whisperer

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Perpetually foiled romance heroine Island Chaptal and reformed cleaning expert March – or is it Mr. November? – are enjoying a pleasant break in South Africa, after brushing with death in the inhospitable and platypus-infested mountains of Liechtenstein.

That is, until a commercial flight disintegrates over the Atlantic, killing hundreds, and Island’s supervillain dad makes the news as the mastermind behind the attack. Old Lion Dries is now on the run, and he calls upon his last ally – and favorite disciple – March.

From the streets of Venice to the turquoise waters of French Polynesia, March and Island embark on a deadly race against the clock to find out what secrets lie behind Dries’s downfall, and stop the mysterious Crystal Whisperer before it’s too late. This time, though, there might just be no winning against futuristic weapons, CIA agents, Roomba cats, (reluctantly) evil henchmen, and dads who won’t let you get your groove on, dammit!

Point of view:
1st Person. Entirely from Island’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Cliffhanger! This series, in some respect, is like one big long story. However, at the same time each book has it’s own adventures, mysteries, suspenseful arcs, and resolutions. Except… this one, not so much. Well, it does have tons of enjoyable action scenes and adventures – but there is nothing satisfying about the ending. At almost 12 hours, Camilla Monk is not chopping a single book into tiny bits NOR needlessly (or painfully) dragging out the plot. This is a complete adventure and a truly enjoyable listen. Explosions, car chases, espionage, and sharks (or maybe not…) all make for a wild ride with our adorable heroine, Island and her dashing beau, March.

We are left unsure of both Island and March’s well-being at the end and I’ll be diving right in to Butterfly in Amber.

Narration:
Amy McFadden provides a full cast of characters from a variety of countries with discernible and consistent voices. This one had a few spots (the elevator scene) where her emotions brought tears to my eyes. Additionally, McFadden also gives each “outtake” from faux romance novels that serve as the intro to every chapter their own unique delivery.

P.S. My favorite chapter intro in Crystal Whisperer:

“I thought like, you can’t, like, get pregnant if you do it in an elevator. Because it’s made of metal.” —Broke Teen Moms, Reality Broadcasting Channel, 17 Sept. 2013.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
There’s some shoot outs, gun shot wounds, peril, and other action/mystery topics. Nothing too gory.

About the author:
Camilla Monk is a virtually unknown author who somehow tricked a bunch of people into publishing books about ostriches and killer platypuses.

A French native who grew up in a Franco-American family, she taught English and French in Tokyo before returning to France to work in advertising. After ten years spent building rickety websites for financial companies, she now lives and writes in Montreal, where she keeps a close watch on the squirrels and complains on a daily basis about the egregious number of Tim Hortons.

Her writing credits include the English resumes and cover letters of a great many French friends, and some essays as well. She’s also the critically acclaimed author of a few passive-aggressive notes pasted in her building’s elevator.

You can connect with Camilla Monk here:

About the narrator:
From Amy’s website: Hi! This part is all about me. Just me. It feels weird to write a bunch of stuff about myself but I don’t like pictures of me so I’ll have to use words instead.

I live in Michigan with my fiancé, Joe Anderson. He makes me laugh so much I never have to do situps. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t do situps anyway, but hey, it’s still a nice bonus to our love.

I’m an actress now, and I used to be a 2nd grade teacher. I loved that part of my life, but after doing it for a bunch of years, I was ready to move on to the next version of me. They’re not really very different versions-teachers and actresses both reach out and engage people through stories. I’m NOT a morning person, but waking up to tell stories makes mornings better-than-tolerable.

I love books and the Muppets and smart people and kind people (not necessarily in that order) and sleeping and chocolate and coffee and writers and learning and Oreo cookies and a bunch of other stuff-but I’m starting to make myself gag on all this love.

I hate a bunch of stuff, too, but who cares about that junk? It’s probably the same stuff you hate, so I won’t bore you. Except I REALLY hate listening to people eat bananas.

You can connect with Amy McFadden here:

My Favorite Quotes

I had touched Area 51! Not for long though, because there’s only so much clumsy teasing a man can take when he’s been single for four years. -Crystal Whisperer by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

I’d die a virgin and become a martyr for all nerds in the world. -Crystal Whisperer by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Don’t worry, I piloted a cruise liner in Ship Simulator Extremes! -Crystal Whisperer by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

I used to sing the Queen of the Night’s second aria in my bathroom as a child, because that’s where artists of my caliber belong. -Crystal Whisperer by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Butterfly in Amber

Oh my God . . . We’re potentially stranded in space.

With a complete douchebag.

Camilla Monk
Butterfly in Amber

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Under a blanket of snow, surrounded by dark woods and a frozen sea, lies an ogre’s castle. There lives a little princess, trapped in the maze of her own mind.

On a battlefield where the past meets the present stands a fairy godmother and a pirate, an old ice cream man and a knight in shining clean armor…

The clock is ticking fast, and to pierce the ogre’s secrets and defeat him, Island Chaptal will have to fight to remember…and stay alive.

Can the Lions and the Roomba cats be stopped before it’s too late?

Point of view:
1st Person. Entirely from Island’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
I guess you might be able to listen to these books on their own, but I don’t think so – and I’m also thinking you’d be missing a lot of references that make the writing particularly good. So, if you’re just finding this, go back to Spotless.

I’m upping to 5 stars.* I think that after I read Butterfly in Amber two years ago I had it as 4 stars because this had such a different “tone” to it than the other books. I was probably pissed at Camilla Monk that it wasn’t as funny. The fact is – even 90% super serious and a lot darker than the others, it’s still a fantastic and engaging read/listen. There is a lot of mystery/action/suspense as well as PLOT TWIST! that I really didn’t see coming.

And I will listen again. And again. And that’s what makes books 5 stars for me.

Also, I *will* to find a way to work the phrase “follicular nirvana” into everyday conversation. You’ve been warned.

I’m off to listen to Apache Strike Force as I (not really patiently) wait for Island Chaptal and The Ancient Aliens’ Treasure. It’s live now in book/ebook – but like I said on Twitter, I feel like I’m “cheating” on Amy McFadden by reading instead of listening. She says we have an open relationship – but I’m gonna stay faithful. In this instance. 

*I don’t usually talk about stars because it’s so freaking mentally exhausting to try to pick the stars and then explain all the nuances of stars. Ugh. However, since I changed my Goodreads rating from 2018 I decided to make note of why.

Narration:
Amy McFadden – holy shit was she creepy for the first 30% of this. That’s a compliment, I swear. I seriously felt like I was confused and coming out of a coma. Again, I promise these are actually accolades of her talent… because sheesh was the first part of this book dark and scary and I was truly panicked with Island. McFadden’s voices continue to be consistent and unique even as the cast exponentially expands – this is absolutely binge-worthy.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
There’s some shoot outs, gun shot wounds, peril, and other action/mystery topics. Some pretty surprising deaths.

About the author:
Camilla Monk is a virtually unknown author who somehow tricked a bunch of people into publishing books about ostriches and killer platypuses.

A French native who grew up in a Franco-American family, she taught English and French in Tokyo before returning to France to work in advertising. After ten years spent building rickety websites for financial companies, she now lives and writes in Montreal, where she keeps a close watch on the squirrels and complains on a daily basis about the egregious number of Tim Hortons.

Her writing credits include the English resumes and cover letters of a great many French friends, and some essays as well. She’s also the critically acclaimed author of a few passive-aggressive notes pasted in her building’s elevator.

You can connect with Camilla Monk here:

About the narrator:
From Amy’s website: Hi! This part is all about me. Just me. It feels weird to write a bunch of stuff about myself but I don’t like pictures of me so I’ll have to use words instead.

I live in Michigan with my fiancé, Joe Anderson. He makes me laugh so much I never have to do situps. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t do situps anyway, but hey, it’s still a nice bonus to our love.

I’m an actress now, and I used to be a 2nd grade teacher. I loved that part of my life, but after doing it for a bunch of years, I was ready to move on to the next version of me. They’re not really very different versions-teachers and actresses both reach out and engage people through stories. I’m NOT a morning person, but waking up to tell stories makes mornings better-than-tolerable.

I love books and the Muppets and smart people and kind people (not necessarily in that order) and sleeping and chocolate and coffee and writers and learning and Oreo cookies and a bunch of other stuff-but I’m starting to make myself gag on all this love.

I hate a bunch of stuff, too, but who cares about that junk? It’s probably the same stuff you hate, so I won’t bore you. Except I REALLY hate listening to people eat bananas.

You can connect with Amy McFadden here:

My Favorite Quotes

Oh my God . . . We’re potentially stranded in space. With a complete douchebag. – Butterfly in Amber by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

My fingers splay across what can only be described as follicular nirvana. – Butterfly in Amber by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Too bad the evening’s only valuable piece of advice came from a dad with a rap sheet the size of Wikipedia. – Butterfly in Amber by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Beating Ruby

My life was being risked in a dick-measuring contest. Also, I was participating in a car race organized by M&M’s.

Camilla Monk
Beating Ruby

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Life hasn’t been quite the same for computer engineer Island Chaptal since March, an OCD-ridden professional killer, burst into her life to clean her bedroom and take her on a global chase for a legendary diamond. Sadly, the (hit) man doesn’t just break bones; he breaks hearts, too.

Since then, Island has found solace in Alex—the perfect boyfriend—and Ruby, a software project about to revolutionize online banking security…for the worse. When Island’s boss is found dead after allegedly using Ruby to steal a vast fortune, it’s up to her to clear his name and recover the money. Someone else wants answers, though, and this time, Island might be in over her head.

From New York to Zürich, it’s going to take the return of a cleaning expert, a mini-octopus, and Island’s wits to beat Ruby. All while deciding whether to trust a man who already jilted her, or one who may have his own deadly secrets…

Point of view:
1st Person. Entirely from Island’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Gah! I cannot get enough of Camilla Monk, Island Chaptal, and March (and Amy McFadden! – see narrator notes). I adore Monk’s writing style, Island’s observations, and March’s placidity. This is a great mixture of closed door romance, action, mystery, suspense, and humor.

There’s some plot twists, so I don’t want to spoil too much. This book definitely has a complete and enjoyable story with an HFN ending and obvious lead into more adventures.

Narration:
Amy McFadden provides a full cast of characters from a variety of countries with discernible and consistent voices. I cannot imagine anyone else as Island. Or March. Or even Phyllis. Additionally, McFadden also gives each “outtake” from faux romance novels that serve as the intro to every chapter their own unique delivery.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
There’s some shoot outs, gun shot wounds, peril, and other action/mystery topics. Nothing too gory.

My Favorite Quotes

We’re both tall—yes, five foot three is tall, shut up—and we both have a sculpted body, albeit mine is in the shape of a stick. -Beating Ruby by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

I would work up to fourteen hours a day if fed enough doughnuts. -Beating Ruby by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

I would work up to fourteen hours a day if fed enough doughnuts. -Beating Ruby by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

And by the way, the refractory period doesn’t work like that. -Beating Ruby by @Camilla_Monk narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Spotless

Just so you know, I practice Spanish watching Dora the Explorer and playing GTA, so I know how to say backpack, whore, and weed. I hope you’re impressed.

Camilla Monk
Spotless

Format:
ebook & audiobook.

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Island Chaptal—nerdy IT engineer by day, romance novel junkie by night—just walked into her messy New York apartment to find Mr. Right waiting for her. No, wait…Mr. Clean.

A gentleman professional killer with a bad case of OCD and zero tolerance for unsorted laundry, March wants the diamond her late mother stole for a sinister criminal organization. Island agrees to help him find it, facing the kind of adversaries who dismember first and ask questions later. Good thing she’s got March to show her the ropes. And the guns. And the knives.

The buttoned-up Island is soon having a blast racing from Paris to Tokyo following the clues in her mother’s will, and for the first time, she’s ready to get close to someone. For real. And it could be the tropiest, cheesiest romance ever between her and a brooding hero with impeccable manners and sexy chest hair, if only the bullets would stop raining, dammit.

Point of view:
1st Person. Entirely from Island’s perspective.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Camilla Monk has a totally unique and endearing sense of humor. I couldn’t help but embrace the ridiculousness that is Island Chaptal and her captor/protector March. Also, despite this being over-the-top it’s also strangely relatable. Entirely from Island’s POV – we join her on trying to survive her central but oblivious role in an ongoing mission to recover a diamond her deceased mother hid years ago. March plays the experienced yet OCD ridden assassin. (Think Monk, but with guns.)

Heads up: This is somewhat a cliffhanger in that there is a complete and enjoyable story here, but there are definitely more adventures to come and the book ends on a bit of a dun, dun, duuunnn…

Narration:
Update 4/12/2020: I read this via KU a few years ago and adored it so much that when it left KU, I purchased it. Then I found it on audio. Adding Amy McFadden’s narration to the mix makes it even better. She provides a full cast of characters from a variety of countries with discernible and consistent voices. Additionally, McFadden also gives each “outtake” from faux romance novels that serve as the intro to every chapter their own unique delivery.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
There’s some shoot outs, gun shot wounds, peril, and other action/mystery topics. Nothing too gory.

My Favorite Quotes

Just so you know, I practice Spanish watching Dora the Explorer and playing GTA, so I know how to say backpack, whore, and weed. I hope you’re impressed. -Spotless by @Camilla_Monk, narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

It’s okay . . . I’m getting special treatment. I don’t go in the trunk. -Spotless by @Camilla_Monk, narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

I felt myself melt a little at the thought that even with his badass bulletproof jackets, March still managed to dress with a flair that rivaled only my grandpa’s. -Spotless by @Camilla_Monk, narrated by @amymcnarrator #Comedy #RomanticSuspense #Mystery

Elect

I’d die, for you to live.

Rachel Van Dyken
Elect

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Would you die for the one you love?

Nixon Abandonato made his choice. And now he has to pay the price. Tracey is the love of his life, but being with him has made her a target of his family’s enemies. The only way to keep Trace alive is convince the world she means nothing to him.

Trace Rooks has fallen irrevocably in love with the son of her family’s sworn rival, and she knows in her bones nothing can tear them apart. Until Nix suddenly pushes her away and into the arms of his best friend… But Trace isn’t ready to give up on a future with Nix–and if he won’t fight for them, she will.

In the end, a sacrifice must be made. A life for a life. For what better way to cover a multitude of sins than with the blood of a sinner . . .

Point of view:
1st Person. Alternating perspectives by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is book 2 in the Eagle Elite series. Van Dyken has a reading order on her website.

This is sort of like “Empire Strikes Back” you NEED to read it to get the whole picture and to move the plot along and it provides the foundation for some very important future story-lines, but on its own ~ it isn’t a fabulous story. There’s annoying inconsistencies (um, we’re all supposed to be pretending that Trace is dead but you take her to school the next day???) There’s others but it would spoil things and take too long to set up.

I’ve read &/or listened to the whole series several times, but honestly after the first time I skip Elite and start with Enforce and then usually skip Elect and go on to Entice.

I think that Elite and Elect have a distinct YA/NA feel that drops off in the rest of the series. Perhaps that is why, after experiencing the rest of it, these two feel more disappointing.

Narration:
I do NOT recommend the audiobook for Elite or Elect. Elect is a single narrator despite the alternating POVs and, while I’ve enjoyed Douglas Berger in other productions, he doesn’t do a fabulous job distinguishing between Nixon & Chase other than sometimes Chase’s “voice” is a bit “softer”. Which is ridiculous because neither is a soft/gentle character. Luca sounds like the Count from Sesame Street, not an Italian mobster. Beyond that I loved the Audiobooks so much that I purchased them all.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
This is mafia. There are murders, torture, and other violence.

About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA TODAY Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. 

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and, adorable son.

You can connect with Rachel Van Dyken here:

My Favorite Quotes

I’d die, for you to live. – Elect by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

Right. I’m fine, you’re fine, everything’s fine. Oh, look, I think a rainbow’s sprouting out of your ass. – Elect by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

I hurt all the damn time because my stupid heart has decided for one reason or another that it can’t survive without being next to yours. – Elect by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

Enforce

I won’t let anything happen to you. I swear on my life, I’ll protect you until the day I die.

Rachel Van Dyken
Enforce

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
There are two sides to every story.

And ours?
It isn’t pretty.

Then again, what’s pretty about the mafia?
Trace Rooks, that’s what.
But she only wants one of us, and I’ll kill him before I let him have her. The only problem?

We’re cousins.
And she may just be our long lost enemy.

Whoever said college was hard, clearly didn’t attend Eagle Elite University.
Welcome to hell — also known as the Mafia.
Blood is thicker than life, and to keep yours?
Well, keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer…

Thought you knew Trace, Nix, and Chase’s story? Think again.

Point of view:
1st Person. Alternating perspectives by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
This is book 1.5 in the series, but not because it’s a novella. It’s actually the events in Elite (book 1) from Nixon, Chase, Tex, & Phoenix’s points of view. Van Dyken has a reading order on her website.

I honestly liked this book much more than I liked Elite. I’ve read (or listened) through the series multiple times now and except for a single read and a single listen ~ I always skip Elite and start with Enforce.

The first time, you kind of have to have Elite ~ but the writing, emotions, and connection just isn’t as solid as it is in Enforce. And I HIGHLY recommend the audiobook. 

Narration:
Jeremy York, James Babson, Andrew Eiden, & Jack DuPont are all excellent here. What I love about this casting is that York as Nixon, DuPont as Chase, Eiden as Tex, & Babson as Phoenix stays consistent through book 5. Not only are they fabulous narrators, but this creates a wonderful cohesion in the series that makes binging it truly enjoyable.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
This is mafia. There are murders, torture, and other violence.

About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA TODAY Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. 

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and, adorable son.

You can connect with Rachel Van Dyken here:

My Favorite Quotes

I won’t let anything happen to you. I swear on my life, I’ll protect you until the day I die. -Enforce by @RachVD narrated by @jbabzbabson @eiden_andrew Jeremy York & Jack DuPont #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

God, I’d go through hell if she’d just glare at me like that every second of every day. -Enforce by @RachVD narrated by @jbabzbabson @eiden_andrew Jeremy York & Jack DuPont #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

Elite

Cuts heal, bruises fade—but broken hearts? They carry scars for a lifetime.

Rachel Van Dyken
Elite

Format:
ebook & audiobook

Publisher’s Synopsis:
For Tracey Rooks, life with her grandparents on a Wyoming farm has always been simple. But after her grandmother’s death, Tracey is all her grandfather has. So when Eagle Elite University announces its annual scholarship lottery, Tracey jumps at the opportunity to secure their future and enters. She isn’t expecting much-but then she wins. And life as she knows it will never be same . . .

The students at Eagle Elite are unlike any she’s ever met . . . and they refuse to make things easy for her. There’s Nixon, gorgeous, irresistible, and leader of a group that everyone fears: The Elect. Their rules are simple. 1. Do not touch The Elect. 2. Do not look at The Elect. 3. Do not speak to The Elect. No matter how hard she tries to stay away, The Elect are always around her and it isn’t long until she finds out the reason why they keep their friends close and their enemies even closer. She just didn’t realize she was the enemy — until it was too late.

Point of view:
1st Person.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
Elite kicks off the Eagle Elite series. Van Dyken has a reading order on her website.

This was kind of back and forth for me and honestly, it wasn’t until I read more of the series that I “got it” better ~ yet at the same time was even more disappointed in it. Unlike every other book in the series this is only from Trace’s POV, which I see the reason why, but it still sort of sucked. There’s a lot of whiplash going on as well as “Why the hell are you putting up with his shit?”.

I own the whole series in ebook and with the exception of Elite & Elect all of the audiobooks (the audio of the first two is subpar and they’re much better read). I’ve read/listened to the whole series multiple times, but now I skip Elite in favor of starting with Enforce (it’s Elite but from the guys’ POV).

Read this ONCE, because you have to for the foundation ~ but then move on because the rest of the series is soooo much better. I think that Elite and Elect have a distinct YA/NA feel that drops off in the rest of the series. Perhaps that is why, after experiencing the rest of it, these two feel more disappointing.

Oh, and if you’re familiar you will definitely get a “Twilight” feel from this book that sort of continues into Elect. Praise Baby Jesus after that each book focuses on a new set of couples so the Trace/Nixon/Chase drama doesn’t drag out for too long.

Oh and #TeamChase

Narration:
Sarah Franco’s narration was OK. I’m not sure if her voice made Trace sound even worse/whinier or if that was the direction she was given. I’ve only listened once and wouldn’t listen again.

About the author:
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA TODAY Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. 

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and, adorable son.

You can connect with Rachel Van Dyken here:

My Favorite Quotes

Cuts heal, bruises fade—but broken hearts? They carry scars for a lifetime. – Elite by @RachVD #Mafia #Romance #EagleElite

Protecting Elliot

And just like that, the anxiety slid from my body like a hot, heavy blanket I’d been carrying around my entire life and had been waiting until this very moment to shed. 

Sloane Kennedy
Protecting Elliot

Format:
Kindle Unlimited.
Updated 4/29/20 – I won a giveaway of the audio.

Publisher’s Synopsis: (It’s a long one! Feel free to scroll down to my review)
Protecting him was just to supposed to be another job. Until it wasn’t.

Two years after surviving a brutal attack from members of his own unit, former Special Forces soldier Cruz de la Vega has found new purpose working for an underground vigilante group that offers justice when the law can’t. When he’s assigned to figure out who attacked a local gay rights activist, Cruz expects it to be just another job.

But when it comes to protecting Elliot Wittier, he soon learns that the last thing he wants is for the intriguing young man to be just another job.

At 25 years old, Elliot Wittier is well on his way to having the perfect life. As the head of a hugely successful investment firm and the founder of a prominent foundation, he should be on top of the world.

But looks can be deceiving and Elliot knows how to play the game. With the fear of failing the two most important people in his life always at the forefront of his mind, Elliot keeps an iron-grip on the control that has served him so well in the past. But when a violent attack leaves him vulnerable, Elliot’s carefully constructed world starts to fracture. As he struggles to keep the threat under wraps, he’s thrown off guard when a gorgeous stranger takes an interest in him at a Halloween themed benefit. Throwing caution to the wind, Elliot decides to allow himself the freedom that being with the enigmatic Cruz de la Vega brings for just one night.

But what happens when one night isn’t enough? Or when the past catches up with the present? Can what two men found in each other in just twenty-four hours really last a lifetime?

Point of view:
1st person. Alternating perspectives by chapter.

Rellim’s Thoughts:
While Protecting Elliot does mention characters from both the Barretti & Protectors series you don’t have to know those characters to enjoy this one. I would recommend reading/listening to Saving Ren. It would help with the backstory and I enjoyed that Protecting Elliot, as well as Obsessed, helped resolve a minor issue involving Declan from Saving Ren. I’ve read through the series several times, but finally wrote out a review when I listened to the recently released (February 2020) audio.

I struggle with novellas sometimes because they can seem somewhat incomplete. This is definitely insta-love and the ending is what amounts to an HFN over an HEA – but it’s still a satisfying read/listen. This book completely sets up the reader for Obsessed (released May 2020) and we get a little more of Elliot & Cruz’s HEA there.

Note: If you’re new to Sloane Kennedy, the Protectors series, or the fact that it intertwines with several other series – check out her handy chart and reading order here.

Narration:
Micheal Dean’s narration is fantastic. I appreciate his ability to give each character in what is almost entirely an all male cast their own unique voice and mannerisms.

Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
References to assault and death of a parent.

I borrowed the ebook through Kindle Unlimited and later purchased my own copy. However, for full disclosure: I won a free copy of the audiobook from the narrator and am voluntarily updating my honest review.

My Favorite Quotes

And just like that, the anxiety slid from my body like a hot, heavy blanket I’d been carrying around my entire life and had been waiting until this very moment to shed. – Protecting Elliot by @Sloane_Kennedy #Protectors #Audiobook #Novella narrated by Michael Dean