ARC Review & Giveaway: Quakes-R.L. Ugolini


Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

cooltext1889161239 copyOnly the desert would know…

Dr. Malcolm Reid goes out on his seismology expeditions alone, and he likes it that way. The fewer warm bodies heís responsible for bringing home alive, the better.

When the mentorship of a geology grad student is thrust upon him just as heís leaving for Mexicoís Baja peninsula, he resigns himself to eight weeks of keeping her safeófrom ATV-riding cattle rustlers, from a weather-worn mountain lion roaming the hills, and most of all from her accident-prone self.

Jenna Polaski has needed the canyon-sized chip on her shoulder to get ahead in the old boysí education hierarchy. Now, needing samples to finish her thesis, she has no choice but to serve as the professorís pack mule. And wonder if his limp is connected to rumors surrounding a long-ago incident that killed one of her predecessors.

Malcolm keeps a sharp eye out as they penetrate deep into the wilderness. But the one danger he forgets to watch for is the one that captures them both… an undeniable attraction that shatters all the rules.

cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour.

Quakes is realistic contemporary devoid of all the angst and drama of many NA romances.


  • Jenna’s back story is remarkable. Her strength and perseverance is coupled with her guarded nature and clumsiness. It’s very endearing. Jenna is a feminist, she believes is her abilities and wants equal treatment in her field. She speaks her mind and puts people in their place. At the same time, Jenna is vulnerable. Her heart has been fortified with the idea of casual relationships where she can’t get hurt and sticking to a game plan for a stable future. Getting into the heart of Jenna’s past reflects a lot on her character. There are so many parts that when revealed explain some of Jenna’s harder sides, the ones where she pushes people away and doesn’t take emotional baggage. You can easily imagine little Jenna and compare her to the confident, determined woman she is as a grad student. She didn’t let her past defeat her and it’s remarkable how far she’s come. 
  • Mal (Dr. Reid) is leery of other people. He doesn’t trust and prefers to be on his own. Consumed by guilt over a horrible accident and the scars of his past, it’s easier to live in solitude and more efficient to his research. When Jenna stumbles into his life, his world shifts and his focus becomes hazy. For the first time, Mal found a companion, a friend, to share his demons with and it’s a relief. Underneath his cocky, serious exterior is a compassionate, funny, adorable guy. He’s sexy in his take charge way and his intelligence is what’s the real charm. Mal’s looks are not the focus, his personality is and how he cares for Jenna. I appreciated that Mal was not described as an irresistible sex god, that the attraction built and was simulated through conversation.
  • The dangers of Mexico were more than just the harsh elements, the threats posed by humans were abundant. Between the arid, scorching climate, the poisonous creatures, and outlaws, there was a dark anticipation for accidents and threats. 
  • Jenna and Mal are charming together. They spar and disagree constantly but once they get past their initial misunderstandings, they truly care for each other. They’re playful, they tease and give in to soft touches despite the student/teacher taboo. 


  • Some of the terminology and references are a bit hard to follow if you know nothing about geology, seismology or fieldwork. Sections read like a textbook and are a distraction from the story but at the same time bring authenticity to the characters. Their knowledge, the precision in their fieldwork and systematic setup instills their place as a grad student and professor. 
  • Parts are slow and choppy. They drag on in segments of animosity, tension, and reminiscence without much happening apart from terminology. 
  • The portions with the ex-boyfriend and other grad students felt disjointed and random. The characters were easy to mix up and lacked definition. They were a little boring and distracted from the overall story arc. At times they were like filler to up the drama and really unnecessary. 

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Mal dropped both packs and walked close, leaning a hip against the vertical rock face.

Holding her in his gaze, he tugged at his leather gloves, finally pulling them free and tucking them in his waistband.

“Do you recognize the stratigraphy?”

Her face fell. “Don’t you ever quit? I don’t want another geology lesson, Mal.”

He knew what she wanted, but pretended not to have heard the frustration in her voice.

Mal traced a thin band of rust with his finger. “Notice the layering?”

“For God’s sake. Look around,” she said and waved her arms wide. “This place is amazing. Why does everything have to be about science?”

“That’s what we’re here for.”

“Why can’t we just relax and enjoy the rest of the day?”

“Just pal around? Be friends? Is that what you want, Jenna?” He took a half step closer, crowding her. “Or maybe you’d like me to whisper some more in your ear?”

He watched a slow crimson spread across her cheeks, and he regretted his words. So he hadn’t imagined her reaction back in the scrub. Exhaling, he focused his thoughts on his one comfort.Science.

“These are Cambrian units. This formation occurs in small pockets up and down Baja, but nothing quite like here.” He chanced a glance in her direction.

Her brown eyes had never seemed so large. Or so angry.

His chest tightened. “Do you recall the geologic timescale?”

With a shake of her head, she sighed. “The Cambrian is the oldest period of the Paleozoic era, and is generally agreed to have covered the time span between 570 and 500 million years before present.”

Her rote answer grated. “Jenna.” Caution sharpened his voice.

In the quiet, he could hear her breathe. Shallow, rapid. He watched her chest rise and fall. The generous curve…

No. He swallowed hard. Think science.

But he couldn’t resist tweaking his lesson plan just for her. “Imagine the swell of warm tides,” he said, “tumbling into shoals.”

A playful smile twitching her lips, she turned her gaze on him. “The swell of warm tides?”

He nodded. “Interwoven in the sandstone are some distinctive units like this one.” His forefinger picked at a thin maroon layer. Warmth flowed from the cliff wall into his palm.

“Beautiful. So smooth and alive.”

“Alive?” Jenna reached out to touch the peach-colored sandstone, her skin blending with the rock. “These units are older than the dinosaurs.”

Mal hid a grin. “You’re correct, of course. But before creatures populated the land, the lush, tropical seas frothed with life.” He pointed to a sequence in the stratigraphy. “Relentless currents of nutrient-rich water ebbed and flowed over soft, fertile beds.”

She leaned against the cliff. “The sea floor must have teemed with plants.” Fire lit her eyes and she continued, “To withstand the powerful force of the tides, they must have had to sink their roots deep, driving them hard until they hit impenetrable rock.”

His heart thudded. “Exactly, Jenna. Colonies of flora and fauna lived, reproduced and died, always straining toward the hot Cambrian sun. For the first time in Earth’s history, predators appeared. They knew what they wanted and they went after it.”

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R.L. Ugolini studied geology at the California Institute of Technology and has made maps for the US Geological Survey. She’s been in more earthquakes than she cares to remember, has hauled mountains of gear in Baja California and speaks very, very poor Spanish. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband.

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Pleasant reading,

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