#BookReview: The Cerberus Protocol by Nick Thacker

Solid Adventure Story. This is yet another of the scifi-creature/ adventure stories that are so common, and yet Thacker blends several elements here that aren’t always as common to create a tale that seems like it would satisfy long time readers – while leaving new readers with only (seemingly) minimal effort to get caught up after the fact here. Indeed, it reads more like Book 2 of a series than Book 14, but I say this as someone who owns several prior books in this series… but has only read this one. For all I know, a few of the characters come from books further back in the series – and yet the main thrust of this particular narrative, of Harvey Bennett having to stop his evil scientist brother’s most recent plan, seems like a near-immediate follow-up to presumably book 13 from this series? (Of course, this also means that for those who can *never know any details of any prior books no matter what*… you’re going to want to read the series in order. From what I’ve seen here, you’re going to like doing that anyway.) Overall truly a solid work of its type, one that invites readers to both go back and catch up on what they’ve missed to this point (if anything) and to come back to see what happens next. Very much recommended.

This review of The Cerberus Protocol by Nick Thacker was originally written on March 3, 2023.

#BookReview: Country Crush by Christina Benjamin

Commingled Couples. Ah. The brother who fled town and never really looked back. The middle child in this band of brothers… and myself (the oldest) in my own. As with Book 2 (Saltwater Sweethearts), there was a fair amount here that hit a little close to home, and the mother yet again proves wise indeed. But arguably the strongest point about this book is just how effectively it weaves in and out of familiar scenes from one or the other (and often both) of the prior books in the series – yet never feels shoehorned in or contradictory to those scenes. Indeed, the mind effect is more akin to a How I Met Your Mother style “ok, now let me tell you what *this* character was doing at that moment” or even, perhaps, an Avengers: Endgame “time heist” sequence where the current characters revisit scenes in “prior” books (though in this case, set in the real world, in real time rather than in the characters’ past) yet blended perfectly in with the existing scenes. Thus showing Benjamin’s skill as a storyteller (and, perhaps, her editor’s skill in keeping things intact ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Very much recommended.

This review of Country Crush by Christina Benjamin was originally written on February 15, 2021.

#BookReview: Saltwater Sweethearts by Christina Benjamin

Seldom Saccharine Sweet. This is the book in this trilogy about (in part) three brothers from a small Southern town where this eldest of three brothers from a small (ish) Southern town *really* started identifying with these boys. Particularly since I left my own hometown 15 years ago this summer and only rarely go back, almost always to spend time with my family there. Which is what Cole is doing here – coming back to town for his sister’s wedding. And Cole’s mom? Much moreso than in Book 1 (Palmetto Passion), here she sounds so much like my own mother I could actually hear my mother’s voice when she was speaking. Granted, my family doesn’t have any *towns* named after us, but there is a (small) lake north of Atlanta that bears my mom’s family’s name (and the road the lake is on to boot :D)

All of which to say, this book *really* felt like home in ways that few books have ever quite evoked. And yes, I know, people from other areas of the country/ world won’t get quite the same effect (even though the location of this book is a few hundred miles away from my own home region, to be clear :D), but even then – it *does* provide a pretty solid view of what family life is like for at least some in the region. ๐Ÿ™‚

Benjamin always does solid work creating mostly quick-read romances (and this one clocks in at just 180 ish pages) with heart, and this one is no different. And at this point, I’m *really* looking forward to Book 3, since at this point we know so very little about that particular brother. Oh, and if you liked the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon… well, this reader found this book to have at least some strong similarities with that tale. Which is a very good thing for this reader, since he very much enjoys that movie. ๐Ÿ™‚ With this noted, this book is very much recommended.

This review of Saltwater Sweetheart by Christina Benjamin was originally written on February 6, 2021.