Sunday, April 28, 2013

The ChaseThe Chase by DiAnn Mills

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

THE CHASE by DiAnn Mills, is top notch suspense with just a thread of romance.

Kariss Walker, a onetime TV news anchor turned best-selling woman’s author has decided to change genres.  Wanting to write themes with a bit more grit, Kariss pulls from an unsolved case she reported on as an anchor.  The death of an unnamed child has haunted her for five years.  Hoping to bring awareness to the case and find justice for the child, she finagles her way into getting some assistance from FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris.

Tigo is not the least bit thrilled to be saddled with Kariss, an author who wants to play detective.  But, when the case gets reopened, Tigo begrudgingly agrees to work with Kariss . . . as long as she stays out of his way and stays out of trouble.  Unfortunately, trouble seams to follow Kariss at every turn. 

When overlapping threads between the cold case and Tigo’s current case become evident, time is of the essence. Time and keeping a headstrong Kariss safe.

THE CHASE was the perfect blend of slow and methodical and fast-paced action.  Small sparks between Kariss and Tigo are enough to hint at a possible romance, but just enough to drive romance readers crazy.  The only flaw I found was that Kariss was portrayed as incredibly sharp, but at times she made some poor decisions.  Other than that, the intensity of the story keep me turning page after page.

Book provided for review purposes.

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Poison: A Novel (Bloodline Trilogy, #2)Poison: A Novel by Jordyn Redwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! After reading POISON, my first introduction to Author Jordyn Redwood, I’m going to have to break my New Year’s resolution. With my book collection nearing 900 (and I have only read about half) I made the resolution that I would not buy any books this year if I could help it. Since I get free books for reviews, and have so many yet unread books, I thought I could hold to it. But after reading POISON, I have to buy PROOF, the first book in the Bloodlines Trilogy. All that to say, I loved POISON!

Keelyn Blake survived the psychotic murder spree of her stepfather just five years ago. But a promising relationship with Lee Watson, the FBI hostage negotiator on her case, has her feeling hopeful about her future. That is until Lucent, the imaginary foe of her stepfather’s hallucinations, sits down next to her in a diner. How can that be? Lucent was only a figment of her father’s sickened mind. Or was he? Looking to Lee for strength and answers, Keelyn soon gets the feeling he is hiding something from her.

Since their relationship is somewhat unique, Lee Watson has kept his relationship with Keelyn Blake on the lowdown. But when it is obvious her life once again is in danger, he doesn’t care who knows they’re an item. His only concern, keep Keelyn safe. But secrets from his past could shed light on Keelyn’s current situation, but to share those secrets could bring him even more pain.

POISON was a great read! Twists, turns, intricate plots, intrigue, romance. A book jam packed with everything any romance/suspense reader could hope for. Though the plot is a bit mind-bending, it does not jump off into the paranormal (thankfully). I can’t wait for PERIL, the third in the series, and I will definitely be purchasing PROOF.

Book provided for review purposes.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

My Review - A Cowboy at Heart

A Cowboy at Heart My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A Cowboy at Heart by Lori Copeland

A COWBOY AT HEART was sweet and predictable but still enjoyable if you are looking for a light read.

Katie Miller, a widowed, Amish healer comes to Jesse Montgomery’s aid when he is shot in a battle over land.  While caring for him, her feelings turn from just caretaker to something stronger.  Knowing he is an Englisch Cowboy, she ignores her heart.  But her heart is not easily put off.

Jesse Montgomery is trying to put his rowdy life and bad choices behind him.  He comes to Jonas Switzer’s aid when a cattle baron tries to muscle him out of his land.  Getting shot was not what he had in mind.  But when the demure Katie Miller sees to his wounds and his recovery, he daydreams about what life would be like with a woman such as Katie by his side.  Knowing that will never happen because she is Amish–and he doesn’t deserve the likes of her–he instead turns his energies toward securing Jonas’ land.

As Katie and Jesse struggle with their feelings for each other, the Bishop–who happens to be Katie’s father-in-law–scolds both Katie and Jesse separately for the time they have spent together.  His harsh attitude towards them and the others in the community of Apple Grove spurs the community to find a new settlement.  Seeing this as the perfect opportunity, Jesse makes his feelings known to Katie.  For Katie, his declaration confuses her heart even further.

First, I have to say, that Amish books have to be my least favorite in the fiction arena.  So, when A COWBOY AT HEART showed up with the picture of an Amish woman on the cover I cringed.  But, knowing I had to be responsible, I still went ahead and read it.  I was pleasantly surprised that the book kept my interest for the duration.  I appreciated the dedication Katie had to her Amish family and the respect Jesse had for Katie.  Since most Amish books have to do with someone either hiding in the Amish community or someone deciding if they should leave or stay, the storyline was pretty predictable, but entertaining none the less.

Book provided for review purposes.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman

The Gilded Age is brought to life in the new Heart of San Francisco Series.  Fans of bestselling author, Julie Lessman, will join her on a journey to the West Coast for romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in Love at Any Cost.

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself cheated by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of "Passion with a Purpose" underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards. Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 Readers' Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Series of the Year in that same poll. She resides in Missouri with her family and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series whose first book, A Hope Undaunted, ranked #5 on Booklist's Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

Praise for Love at any Cost:

With an artist’s brushstroke, Julie Lessman creates another masterpiece filled with family and love and passion that compares to none in the Christian market today. Interwoven with themes of betrayal, trust, and God’s love, Love at Any Cost will not only soothe your soul, but it will make you laugh, stir your heart, and release a sigh of satisfaction when you turn the last page.  The next book in the series cannot come soon enough!—MaryLu Tyndall, bestselling author of Veil of Pearls

My Review - Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman

 4 out of 5 stars

LOVE AT ANY COST by Julie Lessman is the first in The Heart of San Francisco series.  Though I am not one that is in to period pieces, the setting and the spunkiness of Cassidy McClare easily won me over.
Though labeled an heiress, Cassidy McClare has no fortune to her name.  Heartbroken when she finds out her ex-fiancĂ© was only after her for her money, she vows to swear off men.  With her heart in pieces, she leaves her Texas home to spend her summer in San Francisco with her wealthy cousins.  As soon as she arrives in San Francisco, Jamie McKenna-a suave and handsome friend of her cousins-makes a play for her.  Since Jamie is practically family, he seems to be around at her every turn.  Cassidy tries to keep him at arm’s length at family gatherings, but soon she feels her heart swayed by the charming lawyer.  Now she must decide to trust her heart or her head.
Jamie McKenna has had a difficult life.  Raised in a brothel in the seedy Barbary Coast section of San Francisco, he vows to provide better for his mother and crippled sister.  He put himself through law school while working three jobs, and now works for the wealthy and affluent Logan McClare.  But that’s not enough.  Jamie’s goal is to marry a woman who is rich and socially connected so he can move his mother and sister to Nob Hill and pay for a surgery his sister desperately needs.  When oil heiress Cassidy McClare comes to stay with his closest friends, Jamie feels he’s found his mark.  Not only is Cassidy wealthy, but she’s gorgeous to boot.  The only problem . . . Cassidy labels him a “pretty boy” from the get go and refuses to give him the time of day, but that doesn’t stop Jamie.  All confidence and charisma, Jamie is sure he can wear her down but in the process he actually falls in love with Cassidy.  But when he finds out Cassidy’s father’s oil wells are all dried up, he must choose.  Follow his heart and marry the women he loves, or court the senator’s daughter that will be able to provide him with the funds to save his sister. 
LOVE AT ANY COST was a great read.  The no-nonsense character of Cassidy McClare was great, and the turmoil that Lessman created in the life of Jamie was heart-wrenching.  There were definitely some twists I didn’t expect which made the last chapters of the book fly by.  I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next installment in The Heart of San Franscisco series.
Book provided for review purposes.
Available April 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Monday, April 01, 2013

From Gary Smally and Dan Walsh

The Restoration Series Pairs Bestselling Relationship Expert Gary Smalley with Celebrated Novelist Dan Walsh  

Combining the literary talents of bestselling author Dan Walsh and the relationship expertise of bestselling author Gary Smalley, The Dance is the first novel in The Restoration Series. Readers will get caught up in these flawed but sincere members of the Anderson family as they rediscover genuine love and start a transformation that ultimately affects all of them. Based on the principles behind Smalley’s bestselling The DNA of Relationships, Walsh expertly weaves proven relationship advice to restore a marriage into this powerful novel.

In The Dance, readers will meet the Anderson family amidst crisis. Jim Anderson is a successful businessman, and his wife, Marilyn, is the perfect wife. Jim never expected to come home one day and find Marilyn gone. What will it take to restore their marriage before their problems shatter the entire family?

Smalley previously collaborated with New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury on the wildly successful Redemption Series introducing her readers to the beloved Baxter family. After seeing the impact those characters continue to have with readers, Smalley partnered with Walsh to create powerful storylines that transcend words on a page and begin to impact readers’ marriages and relationships.

“I’ve learned what a tremendous impact novels can have on the real relationships of readers,” says Smalley. “And when I read Dan Walsh’s work, I knew—this was a guy who can tap into the needs of the heart.  I’m thrilled we could work together to create the story of the Anderson family.”

Other novels in the series will following the Anderson family as Walsh and Smalley continue to draw from The DNA of Relationships as well as several other of Smalley’s bestselling books on marriage and family relationships.

Walsh’s writing is known for enthralling the reader and creating emotional connections with his characters. In a review of his last novel, The Reunion (September 2012), USA Today’s Happily Ever After said Walsh has a “… gift for pulling the heartstrings and encouraging a slow build of tears within his reader.” Similarly RT Book Reviews wrote, “Walsh is so gifted that the reader becomes a part of his stories.”

My Review - The Dance

 4 out of 5 stars

THE DANCE, by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley was a very thought provoking read.  And though I knew when I was asked to review it that it wasn’t really in my wheelhouse (romance/suspense), romance indeed filled the pages.  Not in the physical sense, but definitely in the psychological sense.

Marilyn Anderson has a very affluent lifestyle provided to her by her husband.  But after twenty-seven years of marriage, her beautiful home, stylish dinner parties, and upscale social status has left her feeling less than empty inside.  Her husband barely acknowledges her existence let alone her needs.  After numerous attempts trying to get her husband’s attention, she decides she can’t wait around for happiness to find her.  She must find it for herself.  She leaves everything she knows, moves into a small apartment with a friend, and for the first time since her children were born she gets a job.  Then, she does something she has always wanted to do-she takes dance lessons.  Not knowing if her marriage can be saved, she rediscovers who she is, and decides she likes what she has found.

Jim Anderson is shocked to come home from work and find his wife has left him.  Feeling totally blindsided, he feels she is overreacting and embarrassing him.  With his life caving in around him, he tries to juggle a failing business deal while he waits out his wife’s impulsive disappearing act.  When a newly acquired friend helps him see his own self-centeredness and narcissistic ways, he begins to see how unhappy his wife has been and is devastated when he comes to realize he is the one that has inflicted so much of her pain.  Realizing Marilyn is not coming home anytime soon, he stops blaming her for his troubles and decides he will do whatever it takes to win her back.  

THE DANCE really captivated me.  I found myself reading it like I would any page-turning suspense book.  I hurt for Marilyn and the emptiness she had experienced for most of her marriage, and I rooted for Jim as he slowly transformed from a married man into a caring husband.  I would’ve loved to see more interaction between Marilyn, Jim, and their kids.  But the reality is most kids who are married and college-age become more involved in their own lives and without knowing it, leave their parents in the fray.  It doesn’t mean they love them any less, but they no longer interact with their parents on a daily basis.  Growing up times becomes synonymous with growing away.

Thought provoking, introspective, and telling.  A great read for anyone struggling in a one-sided relationship.  Of course the challenge will always be to get the other party to acknowledge their short-comings and commit to change.

Book provided for review purposes.

Available April 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.