Candy and I have a treat for you! We both read Alternate Connection by Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey and had a virtual conversation about it. We thought this would be a fun way to tell you all about it. If you want to read our formal reviews you can jump over and read them on Amazon here: Candy’s Review / Amy’s Review. This is a long conversation, but Alternate Connection was a long book.
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What was your overall reaction to the story once you finished?
Candy: I had a massive book hangover when I was done. To Russia With Love will always be my favorite because I got to watch that being role played back in the day. I think this is a very close second. Chris and Cecilia have written am amazing book! Action, suspense, romance. It’s all in there.
Amy: I was overwhelmed. Chris and Cecilia pack so much into their stories and there are so many plots and storylines converging. They were all excellent, though. My favorite story line was Nathan and Rachael’s though. I wanted more of that for sure. The authors know how to keep the reader on the edge and flipping pages for sure!
What was your favorite part of the book?
Amy: My favorite parts were with Nathan and Rachael in the cave. It was what I was looking forward to since I knew Alternate Connection was going to include their story. And probably Chapter 12 with Trevor and Cassandra not exactly agreeing on something. 😉
Candy: I think my favorite part was when Nate and Daniel met for the first time. That scene had me chuckling out loud. Here is straight laced Nate itching to get going to save his woman and in walks laid back Daniel. Definitely not what Nate was expecting. Heck it wasn’t what I was expecting either.
How do you feel about Nathan now?
Candy: Okay so Nate has never been my favorite character. He has been a jerk since the first time we met him in Countermeasure. I don’t think I will ever like him as a favorite character but I do understand him more than I did before reading this book.
Amy: I like Nate. A lot. I relate to him in some weird way. His mouth gets him in trouble (as does mine) but it’s because of all these emotions and feelings he has trapped inside. He can’t let his guard down but needs to in a bad way. He needs to find someone that can allow him to let him be who he really is without all the covers.
What do you think of Rachael?
Candy: Rachael, I think, is going to be great for Nate. He needs a strong woman to love. One that won’t take his crap and Rachel is that kind of woman. She is full of surprises (can’t say anything else without spoiling anything). I hope we get a Byte of Life about this couple soon. I think we are just starting to get to know Rachael.
Amy: Rachael is awesome! From what she grew up with her whole life to sustaining hope in her situation in the book to being strong for the man she loves. Most women would crumble in her shoes, but she is freaking awesome. I only wish we would have gotten to know her more in Alternate Connection. I hope we get to see a future short story about her because I feel like there is so much more to her.
What do you think of Phillip? Your opinion on their marriage?
Amy: Phillip Moore seemed to be quite a role model for Nathan and helped shape the man Nate is today to some extent. I am glad Phillip was there for Nate when he couldn’t turn to his family. As for their marriage. It sucked. Not in the typical way but the fact that Rachael wasn’t completely, head over heels in love with him made it a nice marriage. I think Chris and Cecilia did a fabulous job with the whole Phillip-Rachael-Nathan storyline.
Candy: I think Phillip was an extremely honorable man. Nate certainly looked up to him and so did Rachael. As for their marriage, Rachael needed Phillip to encourage her to develop into the woman we got to meet. Nate needs a strong woman. I don’t think without Phillip’s love and support, Rachael would be that woman.
What did you think of the plot?
Candy: The plot was freaking amazing!!!!! I am a current events junkie so the inclusion of Middle Eastern politics was great for me. I hated that it ended on such a cliffhanger though. If Chris and Cecilia are reading this, get to your writing caves! I need answers!!!
Amy: Different from Candy is that I am NOT a current events junkie. I have no idea what is going on in the world (I know, I know, I should). So, the plot with the Middle Eastern politics was a little lost on me. I have read other books to know enough that it is a big deal, but I can’t say the actual plot was a huge deal to me. I enjoyed it, though. I especially liked the action scenes with rescue missions. Those are my favorite. I am more of a character driven reader, so it was what happened to all of them that affected me the most.
What are your impressions about Nate and Trevor’s relationship throughout the book?
Candy: I am not sure Nate and Trev will ever be BFF’S or even have a bromance. I think this mission was good for both of them. They each got to see what the other does best. It forced them to interact with each other and play nice. Now that Nate has Rachael, hopefully he will understand the relationship between the Bauers a lot better.
Amy: I agree, Candy. I see that they will never be best friends, but I will say that I sided with Nate a lot in this book and was a little sick of Trevor making jokes about his Hulkness. It became jokes in fun rather than in hate, but still. I wanted to tell Trevor to let up. Of course, he couldn’t see the all the struggles that Nate has going on internally. He only sees/hears what Nate allows him to which is not always good. I was glad that their relationship took quite a turn in this book and they were forced to work with each other. I was a bit concerned about Nate and Cassie’s relationship though. I was surprised she was as upset with him as she was.
What did you think about the conversation between Trevor and Nate, then Trevor and Daniel about love?
Amy: That was great. It really gives you an inside look into their minds about how they view themselves, their life and women. It’s always nice to see them grow and change as characters, so to see Nate respond to Trevor about it later in the book was awesome. I look forward to Daniel’s story for sure.
Candy: I think that conversation was an ah-ha moment for Nate. It really put into perspective what Trevor and Cassie have. Obviously these guys aren’t monks and they have all been with women. I think they all wanted what Trevor described.
What do you think about the new friendship between Trevor and Daniel?
Amy: I think Daniel is a great complement to Trevor. Trevor usually steals the scene and arguments and I thought Daniel was strong enough to not be intimidated by Trevor (and his mouth). The mutual respect for each other’s skills was impressive. Men sometimes are intimidated by each other and it was nice to see Trevor and Daniel confident enough in their own abilities that they could appreciate each other’s.
Candy: I hope we get to see more of Trevor and Daniel together. They are so alike but yet so different. Each has chosen a different path to make a difference in this world. Their sense of humor had me cracking up. It was so hilarious when Trevor told the A.W.E guys that he consulted a magic 8 ball for information. Daniel totally got the joke even though he had to be commanding officer and not laugh. I have a feeling if you got a few beers in Trevor and Daniel they would hurt each other trying to be funnier.
What did you think of Trevor and Cassandra’s relationship and how it is different than what we have seen in previous books with them?
Candy: I think we got to see a more human side of the Bauers in this book. It was tough reading about it. But every relationship has its ups and downs. It made them more realistic to me.
Amy: I LOVED this part of the book. I have read all the Bits of Life and Bytes of Life in addition to the novels in the series and when you read all those you get the marital bliss and sexy times with Trevor and Cassandra. Those are fantastic but it was so nice to see the realness of marriage in Alternate Connection. To see them have an argument, say hurtful things they don’t really mean and how they overcome them was amazing. I cried during those times but was so incredibly elated at how real they were. Like your favorite characters have flaws just like you do and they are overcoming them. Or something like that.
Did you like seeing Stephan and Jessica in this one?
Candy: I did. I hope we get a Bit or Byte about them again since the baby is now here. The chapter with the birth was hilarious. I am sure Trevor will be telling that story for years to come.
Amy: I always like reading about these two characters but though their scenes were odd in this book. They sort of fit into the Trevor/Cassandra storyline to go into the next book, but I was surprised to see them in Alternate Connection since there was already so much going on. But I love that they had their baby!
What did you think of the villains’ points of view?
Candy: I enjoyed the villains’ point of view. I think that is what makes this book so unique in the romantic suspense genre. It was very obvious that Chris and Cecilia did their research. They presented a very balanced look on what is going on in the Middle East.
Amy: It was fine to me. I don’t particularly care what the villain is doing so it didn’t really affect me one way or the other. I read the chapters but they don’t stick with me as much. Perhaps I should put more though into them when reading them.
What did you think about the action scene? Which one was your favorite? What about the steamy scenes?
Candy: The action scenes were beyond amazing!!! They played out in my head like a summer block buster.Chris and Cecilia really outdid themselves this time. If I had to pick a scene I think it would be when they do the intel op. The scene where they are getting off the helicopter in formation. I got ridiculously patriotic reading that. I wanted to start chanting USA! USA! The love scenes were great as well. But I think I enjoyed the action scenes more so in this book.
Amy: I love the action scenes. Those are my favorite parts of the books. Chris and Cecilia do a great job with giving enough description that you can follow along but not too much that it seems too technical. My favorite action scenes were the actual rescue of the hostages. And when things took a turn and one of them had to stay back…and it turned into two of them staying back. No mission ever goes as planned so I love watching the characters think on their feet and figure out what they have to do next. So good. I of course love the steamy scenes. That is what makes my heart go aflutter. Especially the make-up sex and the brand new sex. Those are the best! They get my heart pumping and I don’t want to put the book down.
What did you think of the new clues to Trevor finding his parents? And his decision regarding that search? And what about the cliffhanger?
Candy: Again, Chris and Cecilia need to get writing. I was not expecting that plot twist about his parents. I hope Trevor gets some sort of closure.
Amy: I was royally pissed to read “To Be Continued” at the end. That clue that Trevor got was the one I have been waiting for since I started the series with Uncharted! I figured it had to be coming soon because Chris & Cecilia don’t leave loose ends. I just didn’t know when. I wasn’t expecting the help he was offered to look for his parents or their discussion about whether or not to continue the search. That was surprising.
If you could have dinner with just one AC character, who would it be and why?
Amy: Wow. That’s a tough question. While I would love to interrogate Nate about all things CIA, I know he wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me much. So I guess it would have to be Rachael so I could get to know her more or Jessica because she wouldn’t want to be too far away from her baby and I would get to hold him and cuddle him while she got to eat.
Candy: I agree with you about Rachael. I feel like we are just getting to know her. I would love to sit down and chat with her if Nate will let her out of his sights.
In this book we meet the A.W.E crew, a spinoff of the CM series. What was your initial impressions of the guys?
Amy: We didn’t get to meet them on too deep of a level, but enough that I look forward to learning about them in their own series. I adored Daniel. He was funny but also serious when it times to get down to business. I admired the way he took care of his men. It was great fun meeting them. I enjoyed Daniel’s sexy bad boy persona yet when it was time to get down to business he was all serious and cared for each and every member of his team.
Candy: I loved the A.W.E crew!!! I can’t wait to read about them. I really liked Daniel as well. He has a very similar humor to Trevor. I think that is why I enjoyed him. It was very obvious that he deeply cares for his men and shoulders a huge burden as being a leader. I am super excited to read about all the guys. It will sorta make up for the CM series eventually ending.
Chris and Cecilia go out on a limb in this book by tackling subjects not normally discussed in romance. What did you think of their inclusion of current events in this book?
Amy: For me, I have read some other books set overseas with terrorists so I wasn’t completely surprised by a story like this. It was not cookie cutter by any means, but the current events were a little lost on me. I think for those that are up on current events, they would be impressed.
Candy: Well I am a current events junkie. I have done reading on my own about what is going on in the Middle East. Chris and Cecilia hit it dead on. I was shocked to see them present both sides of the story.
In closing, would you recommend this book? And who would you recommend it to?
Candy: Yes. Everyone should read this. And anyone who likes romance will like this!
Amy: For sure! I think you have to like romance for sure, but anyone that likes action or adventure and willing to read about romance would like it.
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So? Does this make you want to read Alternate Connection? If you haven’t started the series, give it a try!