Sunday, March 24, 2013

Michele Albert -- Off Limits

Michele Albert -- Off Limits

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥   {4.00}
Action: ♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣.♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 4.5 / Romance: 4.0 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Suspense: 3.0  //  Laughter: 5 / Teary: 3

Setting:     New Orleans, Louisiana
Era:           Present Day [2003]
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Having read all the books included under The Avalon Investigations Series of Michele Albert's book list, would like to divide this selection into two different series; naming them: {1} The Pre-Avalon Series and {2} The Avalon Investigations Series.

Finally Detective Bobby Halloran's story!   Michele Albert introduced Bobby in the first book of The Pre-Avalon Series (Absolute Trouble (under pen name Michelle Jerott)).   Could not help but feel broken-hearted for Bobby because his ex-partner and ex-lover, Dulcie, chose Julien over him.   In the second book of the series (Getting Her Man), Diana is friends with Bobby and needs his connections to the New Orleans Police Department regarding her case.

In these first two books Albert stresses Bobby's golden good looks, his charming way with women, his joie de vivre, and his obvious love of dressing in loud, "notice me" clothing.   This cheerful, spunky hero has been replaced by a hung-over, "get off my case" grouch in the opening pages of this third book of the series, Off Limits.   It becomes apparent rather quickly that Bobby is suffering from job burnout.

Bobby's bad day gets worse for two reasons.   First, Captain Derrick Strong (is this a play on words -- a strong captain is needed to head up the First District Investigation Unit) reminds Bobby he is a cop, not a missionary.   Just another well-placed tidbit by Albert to let the readers know that Bobby wears his heart on his sleeve.   And, second, Captain Strong assigns Bobby to work with the new transfer, Detective Emma Frey, on a burglary case.   This wonderful quote says it all:

Earnest Emma had arrived in all her perfectionist glory to make him feel even more inadequate than he'd been feeling just five seconds ago."   (Bobby, page 2)

Albert can deliver so much information in such an entertaining, concise, well-written manner.   The way she develops her characters by making them so realistic with everyday, ordinary problems makes it easy to identify with them and become engrossed in the thread of the story.   It makes for a great read.

Emma is not a welcome addition to the New Orleans Investigation Unit.   She faces ridicule and is ostracized because she testified against several Hollywood officers.   The level of discomfort in New Orleans is still easier to deal with that the blatant hostility she received during the trials back in Los Angeles.   Not only must "follow the letter of the law" Emma strive to prove herself a worthy addition to the NOPD, she is paired with the "about to cross that invisible blue line" bad boy, Bobby Halloran.   It is easy to see the writing on this wall -- there is going to be some serious conflict between these two strong personalities.

Albert ties the books of this series together by re-introducing a character briefly glimpsed in Absolute Trouble, renowned party girl Chloe Mitsumi (the sister to book one's villain, Jacob Mitsumi).   Since Emma is out to prove her worth, she is not a happy camper that Bobby is so well acquainted with the mysteriously absent burglary victim, Chloe.

On the way to investigate the burglary at Chloe's apartment, Bobby takes a detour to the Iberville projects and viciously breaks the rules right in front of by-the-book Emma.   Interest and intrigue are intensified when Bobby throws drug dealing Raymond against the wall.   There have been several hints now that something has gone seriously wrong in Bobby's recent past, but all Emma sees is a policeman crossing the line.   After interviewing Chloe's landlord and boss, Bobby and Emma part company to pursue different avenues of the investigation.

Emma's doubts about Bobby take off like wildfire and become a three-alarm blaze when fellow officer Alycia Chatman reveals that a betting pool is going around the office about how long it will take Bobby to get in her pants.   Emma shores up her softening heart towards Bobby even as Alycia defends Bobby and speaks eloquently about the human-ness of cops.

"But we're only human.   We have bad days.   We get sick and still go to work.   Our boyfriends cheat on us, and we still stop a guy from smacking his girlfriend around.   Our kids drive us nuts, the dog next door keeps us up all night . . . and we still gotta deal with some pissant creep who just beat on a baby."   . . .   "Can you honestly tell me you've never said something you shouldn't have to an asshole you're arresting, or gotten a little too rough because, just for a second or two, you got so much disgust in you that you can't keep it back?"   (Alycia, page 45)

Emma, naturally, is no more immune to Bobby than any other red-blooded woman.   Loved the scene in the bar when Bobby first kissed Emma.   Emma and Bobby are trying to find Chloe and 'I will not get emotionally involved'-Emma can't keep her mind on the job as Bobby kisses her (to keep one of Jacob Mitsumi's henchmen from recognizing him).   Whew!   Such heat.   That is one thing that Albert excels at . . . putting the heat and magic in her love scenes.   The first time Bobby and Emma made love it was more about the release of tension than about emotional attachment (and in a very unique setting).

Since Off Limits is classified as a "Contemporary Romance" rather than a "Romantic Suspense," Bobby and Emma do not spend a lot of time in the police procedural kind of suspenseful pursuit trying to find the person who ransacked Chloe's apartment.   More questions arise when Jacob Mitsumi's henchman are starting to turn up dead.   Albert even does a great job with misdirection, but introducing the District Five detective who handled the Mitsumi case before it was given to Emma.   Gary Giacomo sends out really harsh messages to Emma during Carter and Alycia Chatman's annual backyard cut-throat game of basketball.

Off Limits concentrates on the thought processes and emotions Emma faces regarding Bobby as he falls into a downward spiral.   Emma's strong personality and sharp intuition paid off when it came to rescuing Bobby when he went into full-blown, "I'm going to do something stupid" anger when he learned about Juleen Moss being pulled off life support.   Because Bobby has a great big heart and tries to rescue the helpless, he became emotionally involved in Raymond and Juleen's domestic battering case.   Juleen's death is the straw that broke the camel's back.   Emma helps pull Bobby from the edge.

Albert added one other episode of interest to the book.   She handcuffed Chloe, the wild and free party girly-girl (and former lover to Bobby) to Emma, the straight-laced, rule-following, conservative-suit wearing girl (and current lover to Bobby).   There was some interesting interaction and bonding between two such highly dissimilar women.

Although the book is not full of lots of action and adventure scenes, Bobby and Emma did give readers an exciting, suspenseful, "who would have though you were the bad guy" ending.   And Bobby had his showdown with Raymond -- in an even more surprising manner.

In summary, Off Limits held all the requisite criteria for being a great read.   {1} Bobby Halloran, a gorgeous Cajun charmer, who was suffering from burnout and was about to cross the thin blue line.   {2} Emma Frey, a self-confident, straight-laced, rule-following fellow detective who was forced to work with Bobby.   {3} Rather than procedural action and adventure, some interesting day-to-day activities moved the story line along at a slow, but steady pace.   {4} A tad bit of suspense was thrown in to increase interest.   {5} The undeniable attraction between two such polar opposites added a rich romantic flavor to the book.   {6} It was easy to sympathize, cry, and laugh with Bobby and Emma.   {7} Wickedly spicy lovemaking added the necessary heat.   {8} And, finally, a couple of interesting secondary characters were thrown in for good measure.

Yes, there were a few times when it was easy to put this book down, but it is still an enjoyable read.   Since Albert's writing style holds a strong appeal for me, I am looking forward to reading the next installment of The Pre-Avalon Series.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday, March 23, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.)     [183]

Books In The Series: "The Pre-Avalon Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.09-1998Absolute TroubleJulien Langlois; stripperDulcinea "Dulcie" Quinn; former cop
02.10-2002Getting Her ManDr. Jack Austin; archaeology professorDiana Belmaine; Private Investigator
03.09-2003Off LimitsRobert "Bobby" Michael Halloran; detectiveEmma Frey; homicide detective
04.03-2005One Way OutDr. Alex Martinell; paleontologist; professorCassie Parker Ashton; treasure hunter

Books In The Series: "The Avalon Investigations Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.05-2006 Hide In Plain SightGriffith "Grif" Laughton; Avalon OperativeFiona Kennedy; bookstore owner
02.04-2007Tough EnoughWilliam "Will" Tiernay; Avalon OperativeMia Shaeffer Dolan; art restorer
03.03-2010Her Last ChanceVincent DeLuca; FBI Special AgentClaudia Cruz; Avalon Operative
04.hoping. . . Ben Sheridan; Avalon CEO. . .

Characters Found In "Off Limits"
Character Description Also In
Robert "Bobby" Michael Halloran[Hero] New Orleans Detective; lone gun style; ability to finesse the rules (11) choir boy pretty; wholly, potently male; blonde (15) wide, disarming grin, odd mix of sweet and bad boy sexy; broad shoulders; dressed to draw attention (16) expensive spice scented cologne (22) nice mouth with full lower lip (26) handsome, stylish façade; capacity for casual brutality (32) blue-eyed Southern boy (43) moved with unhurried grace; flirtatious Southern boy (63) from Mobile, Alabama; older sister, 2 younger brothers; close, big family spread out over states (76) exuded confidence and power with hint of danger (79) Robert (87) good looking; charming; powerful physical presence; wild reputation; hint of shady past (103) darker brows; strong jaw; vitally male (112) 37-y-o (116) sucker for 'damsels in distress' (213) cop for 17 years (259) big, rough hands dusted with golden hair (370)1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Emma Frey[Heroine] "Earnest Emma"; perfectionist (2) relocated from LA's Hollywood Division week ago; crisp, cool; relentlessly serious; brown suits; brown hair; un-obtrusive looks; 5'10"; athletic build; keen dark eyes; full mouth; smooth fair skin; not chatty (3) all business (6) Type-A workaholic personality; really pretty eyes (10) a "rule-book thumping do-gooder" (11) tried too hard; control issues (74) parents divorced; younger sister (75) Cal-tech (77) quiet; introspective; excelled at reading people; putting together puzzles (79) brisk, aggressive walk; carried herself like queen; unaware of men taking notice (85) creative thinker; tenacious; intensely competitive (155) Cal-tech All-Conference 1992 in basketball (191) long, slender fingers; deep brown eyes, full of warmth (370) 3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
. . . . . . . . .
Cassie Ashton[One Appearance] [Heroine of Book 4] guest at Diana's house when Bobby and Emma dropped by // petite brunette; radiated energy (294) commercial fossil collector from Wyoming (295)2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Jack Austin[One Appearance] [Hero of Book 2] Diana's fiancé (168) dark hair (294)2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Diana Belmaine[Minor Appearances] [Heroine of Book 2] Bobby's friend; antiquities expert; blond hair (167) expensive; classy; beautiful (168)2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Leena Bondurant[One Appearance] Wild Orchid store manager; sleek; 40s; Chloe's boss (33)3. Off Limits
Dr. S. Carrolton[One Appearance] Charity Hospital on call resident; young (50) brown hair (51)3. Off Limits
Alycia Chatman[Major Secondary Character] Bobby and Emma's co-worker; detective; befriended Emma // small slender black woman; broad shoulders; lot of hair in tiny braids; thickly lashed dark eyes; generous mouth; smiled a lot; married to patrol copy in Fifth District; 2 teens (42) 3. Off Limits
Carter Chatman[One Appearance] Alycia's husband (104) mid 40s; broad but fit; handsome in a comfortable way; deep gravelly voice (185) "Car"; sergeant (356)3. Off Limits
India Chatman[One Appearance] Alycia's daughter; baby-faced Halle Barry look; short feathery black hair; luminous caramel-colored skin; 15-y-o; mature; poised (183)3. Off Limits
Tanique Chatman[One Appearance] Alycia's 16-y-o daughter (188)3. Off Limits
Rosario "Rosie" Delgado[Brief Appearances] Bobby and Emma's co-worker; N.O. detective; maturity leave shortly (4) Rosie (17) Rosario (56)3. Off Limits
Lenny Delgado[One Appearance] Rosie's husband (358)3. Off Limits
Herb Demaris[One Appearance] Chloe Mitsumi's landlord; beefy; seedy-looking; middle-aged; barrel chest; bushy gray hair; old-time handlebar mustache (17)3. Off Limits
Dennis[Brief Appearance] called Emma; Emma's ex-boyfriend (180) "Denny" (204) Emma's boyfriend for 4 years (205)3. Off Limits
Doug Delisle[Brief Appearance] new officer; sent to Chloe's apartment (175)3. Off Limits
Baby Boy Duvall[No Appearance] Willie Farmer's boss (96)3. Off Limits
Willie Farmer[No Appearance] long time petty criminal found murdered; errand boy to Jacob Mitsumi (96) killed execution style (157) 3. Off Limits
D. Ferria[One Appearance] arrived when fight broke out in club between Bobby and Stuart Yamada // police officer; older guy; short gray hair (138)3. Off Limits
Gary Giacomo[Brief Appearances] District Five Detective; working Farmer case (96) tall; blond; quiet collegiate good looks (188) 3. Off Limits
Mr. Huntly[One Appearance] Mink Marina security guard (327)3. Off Limits
Julien[No Appearance] [Hero of Book 1] Dulcie's husband; had worked as male stripper; construction worker after Mitsumi (215)1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
Fiona Kennedy[One Appearance] [Heroine of Book 5] guest at Diana's house when Bobby and Emma dropped by // fair skinned, freckled redhead; gentle smile (294) owns antique bookstore in L.A. (295)2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Ouy
5. Hide In Plain Sight
Lindy[No Appearance] Emma's half sister (75)3. Off Limits
Luna[One Appearance] Diana's secretary; goth (166)2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
Mike[No Appearance] Luna's ex-boyfriend (173) 2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
Chloe Mitsumi[Major Secondary Character] renter who was robbed; fled scene of crime (5) party girl; brother serving life in Angola; hot mama Asian cupcake; 5'; 90 pounds of trouble (6) radiated blatant come-hitherness; small-boned; exotic; hip-length black hair; full mouth; dark, upturned eyes; had the who Oriental-mystique and Dragon-Lady-femme-fatale down pat (23) changed hair to Cleopatra-ish style; long in back, locks framing face had been bluntly cut to brush her shoulders, banks skimmed the top of her brows in a ruthlessly precise line; dark red lipstick; makeup accented slant of her eyes and high cheekbones (87) 1. Absolute Trouble
3. Off Limits
Jacob Mitsumi[One Appearance] Chloe's brother; serving life sentence; shot Bobby // "Red Dragon" black hair in short ponytail; taller than expected; slender build; powerful arms; extremely good-looking; cold mad-dog glitter in eyes (220) 1. Absolute Trouble
3. Off Limits
Clarice Moss[One Appearance] Juleen's mom; short; thin (232) 3. Off Limits
Juleene Moss[Secondary Character] Bobby felt responsible for her; unconscious in Charity Hospital; Raymond's assault victim (51)3. Off Limits
Brian Mottson[Brief Appearances] Bobby and Emmas' co-worker; detective; freckled; strawberry blond (58)3. Off Limits
Patti[Brief Appearances] called Emma; Dennis' sister; genuinely kind (180)3. Off Limits
Dulcie Quinn[No Appearance] [Heroine of Book 1] Bobby's partner; Mitsumi's men broke her back during raid; married to Julien; one son; pregnant (213)1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
Dr. Randhawa[One Appearance] trauma surgeon who operated on Bobby; East Indian; thick salt-and-pepper hair; mustache; kind, dark eyes (359)3. Off Limits
Raymond[Secondary Character] short thin black man (28) responsible for beating up Juleen3. Off Limits
Sophie[One Appearance] attended Chatman's party; tiny blond; detective; mouth like a marine (179)3. Off Limits
Captain Derrick Strong[Secondary Character] Bobby and Emma's boss; head of First District Investigation Unit (3) dark, thick brows (4) worked way up ranks in 25 years; ran efficient department; pragmatic; reasonably fair man; early 50s; trim; attractive; wife of 30 years (40) 3. Off Limits
Jim Tarkenson[No Appearance] homicide support office; heading 3 deaths investigation (209)3. Off Limits
Andrea Thurber[Brief Appearances] head nurse at Charity Hospital; tidy blond braid (51)3. Off Limits
Lew Watkins[No Appearance] Gary Giacomo questioned regarding Farmer; also killed execution style (157)3. Off Limits
Stuart Yamada[One Appearance] Bobby and Emma arrested when working undercover at bar; worked for Jacob Mitsumi // Mr. Slick (137) wiry; Asian; good looking; dressed slick (138) Red Dragon tattoo (139)3. Off Limits

Locations, Organizations Found In "Off Limits"
Location / Organization Description
Charity Hospitalwhere Bobby went to see Juleene Moss (52)
Iberville projectslocation where Bobby found Raymond (27)
New Orleans, LouisianaCity where story took place.
Mink MarinaJacob Mitsumi had a boat at Mink Marina (north side of Lake Pontchartrain) (303)
Wild Orchidfashionable boutique where Chloe worked (33)

"Off Limits" Quotations
66Why couldn't she ever come up with clever, ego-shriveling comebacks until hours after the fact?   (Emma)
74"I've never been comfortable in social situations with people I don't know.   It's exhausting, smiling and talking, trying to act casual."   (Emma)
79Emma had no idea how he did that, but if he could patent it, he'd make a fortune.   Nor would she mind if a little of his magic at putting people at ease rubbed off on her, even though she long since accepted that she was simply one of those quiet, introspective types . . .   (Emma)
188"I gave up worrying a long time ago about what other people think of me.   I suggest you do the same before it makes you crazy."   (Bobby)
268Such as wishing to be loved for who they were, wanting people to see their good qualities, even if they were always the quiet ones in the corner who weren't flashy or vibrant.   (Emma)
322At some point, everyone felt overlooked, misunderstood, or unable to measure up to expectations.   (Emma)
323"I don't get angry with people who don't understand me.   I tell myself that, deep down, they're really just like me: They get up every morning to go to work, still holding out for that one somebody who'll walk into their lives and see them the way nobody else can."   (Chloe)

"Michele Albert -- Off Limits" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
---- Michele Albert's WebsiteAuthor (Michele Albert is Michelle Jerott's pseudonym)
---- Michele Albert's FacebookAuthor (Michele Albert is Michelle Jerott's pseudonym)
---- Michele Albert's Wikipediamini biography
. . . . . .. . .. . .
B / warm08-30-2003All About Romance--Leigh Thomas / excellent
--01-26-2002All About RomanceMichelle Jerott Interview / very long / most interesting: publishers can make or break an author
4.43 average{14 reviews}Amazonas of: March 22, 2013
Number 21Out of 25Amazon (Best Romantic Comedies Listmania)--Tanya V. "Bookwyrm" (Pittsburgh, PA United States)
5.00 average{2 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: March 22, 2013
8 / 7 / 811-03-2003Contemporary Romance Writers--Nathalie / excellent / detailed
5.00{08-xx-2003}Curled Up With A Good Book--Vivian Outen / very good
----Fict FactList of Books In "The Avalon Investigations Series"
----Fantastic FictionList of Michelle Jerott's Books
----Fantastic FictionList of Michele Albert's Books
----Fiction DBList of Michelle Jerott's Books
----Fiction DBList of Michele Albert's Books
3.46 average{5 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 22, 2013
3.77 average{15 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 22, 2013
85--Mrs. Gigglesagree: faulting Avon for screwing up covers and pr
--xx-xx-2003My Shelf--Sheila Griffin / more plot detail than review
--06-19-2012Open Librarya small bibliography
3.70 average{55 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: March 22, 2013
4.0009-xx-2003RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviewsa Reader Review is included
--07-17-2003Sensual Romance Reviews{pr}
4.00 average{4 reviews}Shelfarias of: March 22, 2013
4.0009-29-2003The Romance Readerexcellent review, particularly about Avon and cover
4.0003-24-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Off Limits review link to table, just ask

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