Burn It Up by Cara McKenna #Review

Burn It Up by Cara McKenna #ReviewBurn It Up by Cara McKenna

Series: #3 Desert Dogs
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Signet Eclipse on November 3, 3015
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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The third book in the Desert Dogs series tackles the story of Casey Grossier and Abilene Price. Casey is the Prodigal who came home to help, but reluctantly. Abilene has been lost for a long time, but has found a home in the dusty ‘end of the earth’ desert town of Fortuity.

Alright, so this is a story that I was ready for since Casey blew into town and had that tantalizing secret past and the strange dream connection to his mother. I wondered what would be the new direction of the series after the wrap up of the last book’s murder mystery. Now I know and it’s another doozy that waits to show up in full until near the end. Whew boy is it a rough one and leaves me gasping for the next book. The books in this series feature a different Desert Dog each time, but the series arc does build on the ones before so I would highly recommend getting them in order.

So this one starts out a few months after the last one with Abilene already had the baby and now is living out at the ranch with Miah’s family to give her some protection when her angry ex gets out of prison and follows through on his threat that he is coming to see his baby. The dust is settling on the Casino plot, but there is still the developers after the ranch and Abilene’s ex as potentially dangerous. The Desert Dogs have an uneasy peace particularly between Miah and Raina, but they come together to back Abilene. Abilene is on edge both because James will come after her because of his daughter, but also because he knows her secrets and they are not ones she wants her new friends to know. She has a new name, a new life, and a new chance, but it’s all built on lies. Then there is Casey. He thinks she’s wonderful and she couldn’t bear it to see him turn away in disgust if he knew the truth not that he’s not harboring his own secrets and has made it clear that he doesn’t do relationships.

Casey feels absolutely twitchy because he’s cutting free from the life he has been living for several years and putting down roots. Between worrying about having his mother’s mental illness, trying to do right by Abilene, and setting up the bar and restaurant as co-owner with Duncan, he is maxed on responsibility and duty which he has avoided for years. Vince is proud of him as is Abilene, but they don’t know just what he has done and the temptation to drop everything and go back to all that carefree living. He can’t be what Abilene needs for long-term, but he will stand between her and her ex to protect her and the baby girl he knows deep down are more his than that man’s.

This one was an interesting blend of table setter for what comes next in the suspense and the current romance. Like the others, it has an earthy, gritty quality to its characters, plot, and setting. These people are raw, rough, but essentially good. The author has a gift for place. I’ve been in this part of Nevada and she has nailed it. She also has a gift for taking flawed people and getting them on a good path without it becoming some sort of hearts and rainbows affair. It was also interesting to see how the author did a few misdirects to keep things interesting. It’s definitely a good series to not assume because people or situations are not always what you think. I enjoyed the startling reveals in that aspect. As to the romance, Casey and Abilene were not the stuff of romance particularly in their past lives, but maybe that’s why they work. They both appreciate the dream of starting over with a new slate.

I wasn’t really a fan of their romance because I wasn’t an Abilene fan. I felt she was a manipulator and talked the talk, but didn’t walk it. She’s busy insisting that she’s going honest, but she lied to herself, to Casey, and well, to everyone. She stirred up a lot of people and made a certain person out to be a bad guy to cover her own butt. No respect for that stuff, Abs! Her little couch seduction scene didn’t work for me either. Again, it smacked of manipulation and her getting high off controlling men instead of wanting to be with Casey and caring about him. Might not be perceived that way by others, but that’s how it went down for me. Then she pulled this high road crap on Casey when he came clean while she was still hiding her dirty past. I knew this was where she would grow and finally change, but I guess I wasn’t into her enough to care. I didn’t hate her or their road to romance, but was more indifference than anything.

I will say Casey and Abilene’s baby girl was some sweet loving that I did adore. Big rough men gentling around babies and caring for them will melt me every time.

The stuff stewing in the background out at the ranch between the worries over developers, the drug runners, and the shadowy visitor, and Miah’s slow recovery from losing Raina were actually my favorite part. I also loved seeing the Desert Dogs come together for each other. That big scene near the end left me gulping back tears for another loss. Man, this group can’t catch a break it seems. But it’s all leading to something big in Miah’s book. Can’t wait!

All in all, it’s still a captivating, rough and tumble passionate series. I’m not sure if its Contemporary Romance or Romantic Suspense, but I think those who like those genres when they get a little gritty and spicy might want to give these a go.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #366 RS

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • When I wrote romance, editors always said if you can put a baby in the book, readers will eat it up! Pregnant heroines, too. Yeah, I guess it’s more the way men act around babies than the babies themselves–it makes the reader fall in love with the hero!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    • Yep, that’s how it is in my case, Stephanie! 😉

  • Okay I’m just checking a little! I put this one down fairly close to the start but was thinking it was the funk I was feeling and not the book. Yay for it being good. I’m gonna pick it back up this week 😀 Thanks, Sophia!

    • We’ll see. I didn’t connect as well with this one b/c of the heroine. Truthfully, I only powered through things b/c I want Miah’s story. Hope it works when you take it back up again.

      • So far so good. Whew! I’m about 1/3rd of the way through. I’ll let ya know! I didn’t read your bits about the characters since I’m reading now. I’m glad that even with the troubles you had that it still turned out to be a 4 star read.

        • Oops, sorry, to tattle on even that much. Yes, it is a solid read. It’s her writing.

          • No worries! She really is a great writer. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I was real wary after the novella.

            • Yeah, that sort of thing does burn the fingers and makes a reader cautious. I still don’t get the logic behind that novellla coming when it did or really at all. But I think the series is back on track with this one.

  • I do not read a lot of rom sup, but they can be fun, even if this might be a mix

    • This one falls into that category, but yet in ways it’s not really rom susp. It’s more like contemporary romance with a dash of suspense. The earlier books had a stronger suspense element.

  • This does sound good, and I love love the mix of suspense and contemporary romance. I read the first book and thought it was likable, and have been meaning to get back to the series.

    • I love mixing suspense and romance, too. It was what I really liked about the earlier books. This one is lighter on the suspense and focuses more on the main characters’ secret pasts. But toward the end, the suspense kicks back into the equation.

  • i love characters with so much emotion and personality, makes them feel real

    • Yes, this author does no how to make her characters and their situations feel real. Love that, too!

  • Sounds like Casey has a lot going on, a lot of responsibility. Sounds like a good book but the cover cut his head off. grr. lol

    • Yeah, I like the heads included, too, Mary.

      Casey definitely has enough going on to make his head spin. It’s sort of humorous since he spent years avoiding responsibility.

  • 4 stars even if you weren’t a big fan of Abilene? You’re more objective than I am, if it were me, I would’ve slammed the chick! Can’t stand hypocrites 😀

    Love your review, Sophia!

    • You’re objective, too, Braine. I’ve read your reviews for a while. You’re pretty good at compartmentalizing stuff in the books and pulling out both the good and the bad for your readers. 😉
      But yeah, her getting all uppity when he shared his past and hers was no better bugged the snot out of me.

  • Loved your review! I’ve been searching for some good romantic suspense series, maybe this one could be it! 🙂

    • Oh yay, Nelle! Glad to point you toward a potential good one.

  • It sucks that you couldn’t get into the romance (but gosh, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS love it when an author puts two flawed characters together because it makes the romance THAT much more interesting! But of course, if you didn’t care for one of the characters, I can see how it wouldn’t be as enjoyable. How cool is it that you’ve been in that part of Nevada as the book takes place in?? I DREAM for that to happen to me one day! <3

    • It is fun to read about a setting where you’ve been.

      Yeah, its a drag when a character just isn’t my thing, but at least everything else really worked for me. The author writes her flawed characters and gritty stories so well.

  • Totally agree with you about a big rough man being gentle with a baby is sweet. Suck about Abilene though. It does sound like a good book though.

    • Oh yes, it was so adorable, Christy. Sigh…Abilene. Sitting there reading her thoughts as she seduced Casey and then later as she got all disgusted b/c he came clean while I knoew she had not. Ugh! The rest of the story was pretty good and made up for it.

  • Oh this sounds like a good series with the interesting mystery/ suspense and how the general story arc continues while featuring a different Desert Dog each book. And that’s great the author has a gift for describing the place well. I don’t read many books that take place in places where it’s been, but it’s awesome when you find a book like that and the author got the feel of the place right.

    I am not a fan of characters who lie especially after sayign they are goign to be honest, so I think i woudl have some issues with Abilene too, she sounds like a diffifult to like characters. It’s hard to enjoy the romance when one of the characters acts all manipulative like that, that gives a nasty feel to the romance instead of it being sweet. That’s a shame the romance left you feeling indifferent. I do like the sound of this book setting thigns up for something big in the next book. I hope the next book will be a good one. Great review Sophia!

    • It is good and a little different from the typical romantic suspense set up. I got the first book offered for review and when I saw that it was set in a Nevada desert town, I was excited since I have been through that area and stayed there several times. It is fun when that happens.

      You and me both, Lola! Lying to protect your life or someone you love might be okay, but lying just to manipulate or protect your reputation (which is also a lie) doesn’t work for me at all. Hard to see her as a romance heroine after that.