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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

New Spin-Off Series from Rebecca Zanetti: BLOOD BROTHERS

Author: Rebecca Zanetti 
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR) 
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4+; Humor—2   
Publisher and Titles:  Grand Central
          Deadly Silence (10/2016)
          Lethal Lies (4/2017)


Publisher's blurb for the series: From Grand Central comes a series about a band of brothers who carry unnatural powers genetically engineered into them by a black ops military unit. The first four books are mass market print (and ebook/audible)  and titled the SIN BROTHERS series, and the final three books are in trade paperback (and ebook/audible) and titled the BLOOD BROTHERS series. 

     On her blog, Zanetti states, "The BLOOD BROTHERS series can be read as a stand-alone series, yet these books do continue the Dean saga" (aka the SIN BROTHERS series). 

Here are the titles of the SIN BROTHERS novels with links to their pages:

     Forgotten Sins (2013)
     Sweet Revenge (2013)
     Blind Faith (2014)
     Total Surrender (2015)

     I must confess that I have not read the four SIN BROTHERS novels, so I am going to write this explanation of the BLOOD BROTHERS world for other readers who are entering this world for the first time.

     The lead characters are three ruggedly handsome men with high IQs and super powers in strength and hearing. They can also discern when a person is lying. Although they are not biological brothers, they have sworn brotherhood through a blood oath and have taken the last name of Jones.

Ryker: He is the lead character in book one, along with his soul mate, Zara. Ryker is a master of disguise as well as having the highest functioning hearing skills among the three brothers—he can even hear heartbeats within a building while standing outside, many yards away. He speeds around town on either his Harley Fat Boy or in his Hummer. On his right shoulder is a large tattoo of a phoenix rising, with the letters BB in the center (for Blood Brothers).
Heath: He has the softest heart of the three brothers. He handles the crime scenes, but sometimes gets too emotionally close to the cases. Heath has his law degree, so he's the one who keeps them out of jail (most of the time). His choice of transportation is a black 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda. At one point in book one, Ryker mentions to Zara that, "I'm pretty sure Heath and a cop named Bernadette got together" so Bernadette may or may not be his soul mate.
Denver: His first name comes from the city in which he was abandoned as an infant. Denver is a monosyllabic hotshot computer hacker, and he is in charge of all technical security issues. He was the last boy to cut his palm and pledge blood brotherhood, and he has never been very communicative. In book one, we learn that Denver recently left behind his probable soul mate (named Noni) when the trio had to leave Alaska in a hurry, so he's in a pretty bad mood throughout that book.
     The three were raised together under horrific conditions in an orphanage run by a sadistic headmaster who—with the help of his brother, the local sheriff—abused the boys horribly. Eventually, they were able to escape (and that part of their story is told late in the first novel). Now, they are all adults, and they run a private investigation firm called Blood Brothers (although in book one, their window sign says Lost Bastards Investigative Services: We find the lost). Their specialty is finding hard-to-find missing persons, and they frequently work with the FBI and local police departments. They are constantly looking over their shoulders because Sheriff Cobb is still on their trail.

                         NOVEL 1:  Deadly Silence                          
     Under siege. That’s how Ryker Jones feels. The Lost Bastards Investigative Agency he opened up with his blood brothers has lost a client in a brutal way. The past he can’t outrun is resurfacing, threatening to drag him down in the undertow. And the beautiful woman he’s been trying to keep at arm’s length is in danger...and he’ll destroy anything and anyone to keep her safe. 

     Paralegal Zara Remington is in over her head. She’s making risky moves at work by day and indulging in an affair with a darkly dangerous PI by night. There’s a lot Ryker isn’t telling her, and the more she uncovers, the less she wants to know. But when all hell breaks loose, Ryker may be the only one to save her. If his past doesn’t catch up to them first.


     The brothers have set up an office in Cisco, Wyoming, where they are working with the FBI on a serial killer case. This casein which someone is butchering attractive red-haired womenkind of gets lost in the other subplots of the novel and is never resolved.

     The real action begins when someone hacks into Denver's intricate, state-of-the-art computer system and steals some recent case files. Shortly thereafter, a tough, streetwise, twelve-year-old boy named Greg comes to the office, admits to the hack, and demands that they find his three brothers. When Ryker turns him down, Greg threatens to disclose 
their current location to the evil Sheriff Cobb. Eventually, the three Blood Brothers learn that Greg's childhood has some eerie similarities to their own and that he knows the woman who used to come to the orphanage and test their mental and physical abilities over a period of years. And thus we meet the villainous of the series: Sylvia Daniels (aka Dr. Isobel Madison), who told the brothers that she was leading a governmental sturdy about kids raised as orphans. In reality, she is doing some horrific test-tube DNA experiments that you will know all about if you have read the SIN BROTHERS books. (This aspect of the story reminded me of Lora Leigh's BREEDS series.)

     Meanwhile, the romance plot is shooting flames and embers all over the place as über-alpha Ryker and submissive Zara move from a friends-with-benefits relationship to a full-on, sex-filled, soul-mate romance accompanied, of course, by scene after scene of graphically portrayed, extremely athletic sex (including some very light bondage). (Even the villains have sex in this book, and theirs is even rougherstaples, anyone?) Of course, the romance overflows with angst from the lovers, mostly because they are both keeping dark secrets from one another. As soon as this element of the plot became evident, I started to lose interest because this is such an overused paranormal romance trope. 

     The lack of trust between the lovers is the source of endless angst-filled interior monologues that all sound exactly the same: "If I tell him/her the truth and let him/her see the real me, he/she will despise me, and never trust me again, and turn his/her back on me, and leave me for someone less complicated"...yadda, yadda, yadda. Ryker's secrets include his terrible childhood, his monstrous temper, and his on-the-run lifestyle. Zara's big secret is that she is helping her best friend, Julie, hide from her abusive husband, who happens to be a client at the law firm at which Zara works and is also the mayor of Cisco. Eventually, the Zara-Julie situation blows up in a really bad way, and Ryker and his brothers have to solve the case to keep Zara out of jail. (Incidentally, the set-up for this subplot is pretty lame, particularly the part about Julie's past and her weird involvement with the unlikely villain of this little story line.)

     The book ends during a huge snow/sleet storm (another tired trope), and it includes a violent mix of black ops helicopters, big guns, men in black, kidnappings, torture sessions, and general chaos. Others enter the plot at this point, but I won't tell you who because that would be a spoiler. The final pages make a connection between the SIN BROTHERS series and the BLOOD BROTHERS series, so I'm guessing that there will continue to be some crossover in future novels.

     This is not my favorite Zanetti novel, mostly because it relies on so many clichés, from the one-dimensional evil villains to the over-the-top dominant male lover (Ryker). In other words, there isn't much about this book that is fresh or inventive. Not to mention that there are too many story lines crammed into one book, with one of them being left to wither away with no resolution. Unless this subplot is resolved in the next book, that serial killer is still out there murdering redheads.

     Click HERE to read or listen to an excerpt from this book on the Deadly Silence page on Just click on the cover art on that page for print or the "Listen" icon for audio. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Deadly Silence is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own.

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