Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Review - Catching Heat by Janice Cantore

5 out of 5 stars

CATCHING HEAT, the third installment in the Cold Case Justice series, was jam packed with action and suspense. The romance was more so implied, but you felt the connection growing between the two main characters.

Detective Abby Hart has been on a mission her entire life; find those responsible for the death of her parents and put them in jail. Her father’s killer has been found, and Abby knows the identity of her mother’s killer, now, all she has to do is prove it. The obstacles are great, since the killer is a public figure who has been able to cover her tracks for over twenty-seven years. But, Abby is convinced the key to everything lies in the suspects background. Abby is determined to find the missing piece of the puzzle. So, when her current case takes her to the suspects old stomping grounds, Abby decides to put in a little extra time and work both cases at the same time. With PI, Luke Murphy, as her new partner, she’s not only juggling both cases, but her growing feelings for him. She knows her attraction to him goes beyond professional, but Abby isn’t sure he’s available.

Luke Murphy wants to help Abby solve her parents murder. His uncle was also a victim, and Luke wants to see justice prevail. His concern is that Abby’s determination is turning into an obsession; an obsession that might get her killed. Being partnered with Abby on a newly formed task force is right where Luke wants to be. He’s ready to make his feelings for Abby known, but keeping her safe is another thing. He and Abby butt heads when he cautions her about her growing obsession. Abby rebuffs him, knowing she is on to something and needs to follow the new leads—with or without him.

With an ever-growing plate of cases, suspects, and leads, Abby, Luke, and their other partner Woody, are being pulled in all directions. Abby is looking for the thread that will tie everything together in the death of her parents. She and Luke are looking for the killer in the cold case of a teenager’s death. And, Abby, Luke, and Woody are being asked to locate a man suspected in the chilling deaths of his family. When all three cases come to a head, secrets are exposed, motives are revealed, and truths are discovered. Unfortunately, Abby and Woody might become collateral damage when a killer gets the drop on them.

I thoroughly enjoyed, CATCHING HEAT. I have yet to be disappointed by any of Janice Cantore’s books, but this one was loaded with so many things going on at the same time, I couldn’t put it down. As a retired police officer, Cantore’s stories are infused with realism, adding to the intensity in which the story is delivered. CATCHING HEAT had so many plots, and sub-plots, the reader really needed to remain on their toes to keep up with the information. So people might find that a bit overwhelming; I found it incredibly satisfying. The only negative—and I hate to call it that—is I wish the romance would have been a little more developed. We know how Abby and Luke are feeling, I just wish there would’ve been more outward expressions of their feelings. The entire Cold Case Justice series is a must read for suspense buffs. But—read them in order. It will help you keep information straight and grow with the characters.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My Review - Coming Undone by Staci Stallings

5 out of 5 stars
COMING UNDONE by Staci Stallings, though it’s pacing was slow, it was by no means boring.

Ben Warren is the guy who doesn’t have to try too hard. Everything comes easy to him, and problems roll off his back. However, when faced with life-altering news, he realizes he isn’t invincible. In fact, he feels he’s out on a ledge trying to maintain his balance.

Kathryn Walker doesn’t get it. She’s attractive, intelligent, hard-working, and fun to be with. Then why is she still single? Not only is she single, but with no prospects on the horizon. Though others try to fix her up, nothing comes from their match-making. Even though she is looking for Mr. Right, she doesn’t realize he might have found her without her even knowing it.

Without giving much away, Ben and Kathryn stumble into a relationship. Ben is beside himself with grief and feeling insecure at every turn. Kathryn knows Ben is hurting, and offers compassion to help him navigate his future. The connection that grows between them is deep and authentic even though each of them is afraid to acknowledge what they each feel.

COMING UNDONE was slow and methodical. In this case, it was a good thing. There was a lot of emotion to absorb as the characters struggled with their feelings. The transformation in Ben was poetic. You felt him struggle with weakness, confusion, and doubt. Kathryn was genuine and honest. Her concern for Ben was so deep she chose to ignore her attraction to him because his soul was far more important. COMING UNDONE was not your usual romance novel. It was so much more.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

My Review - Critical Pursuit & Visible Threat by Janice Cantore

5 out of 5 stars
VISIBLE THREAT and CRITICAL PURSUIT are fast-paced novels that do a good job of balancing crime with camaraderie in the ranks of the Long Beach Police Department
VISIBLE THREAT-Officer Brinna Caruso is a K-9 handler known as the go-to cop when a child goes missing. Unfortunately, her gung-ho behavior has gotten her into hot water when she avoids direct orders because of the greater good. She doesn’t see herself as a rogue officer, she just has a hard time backing down when she knows a child is involved. Brinna’s behavior is a direct result of her own childhood. Abducted and molested at the age of six, Brinna champions children and does it with her canine companion, Hero. When she is knocked back to patrol duty due to disciplinary actions, Brinna is partnered with Jack O’Reilly, a former homicide detective who voluntarily stepped down from his duties due to the death of his wife. Not only is Brinna frustrated that she’s being disciplined due to actions that saved a little girl’s life, but she has strong concerns about Jack O’Reilly’s competency.

Jack O’Reilly continues to struggle with the death of his wife. He knows he has to get on with his life, but he’s not sure he can handle homicide. He asks to be put back on patrol duty, but isn’t thrilled his partner is Brinna Caruso. She has a reputation for not following the rules, and since he wants a smooth re-entry back into police work, he’s concerned she will only cause trouble.

While Brinna and Jack navigate their partnership, they slowly come to realize they both want the same thing. Justice. When a case presents itself with the same MO of the man who abducted Brinna, she and Jack must work together as a team, and finally put the man behind bars who stole Brinna’s childhood.

CRITICAL PURSUIT -Brinna is in pursuit of a man she knows has abducted a young girl. Even though she’s been ordered not to pursue because of dangerous conditions, she puts her job on the line to save the girl. Once again, Brinna is in the hot seat. But more devastating than that is the fact that her K-9 duties might be coming to an end. With the possibility of funding being pulled, Brinna must deal with the prospect of having to go back to patrol. Last time she was partnered with Jack O’Reilly they actually ended up forging a deep friendship, but Jack has gone back to homicide, leaving her to wonder who she’ll be partnered with.

Jack is getting back in the swing of things in homicide. Though when his mind wanders, it no longer goes to the death of his wife. His friendship with Brinna is constantly on his mind, and he thinks he’s ready to move on but wonders if she is. When he and his partner investigate a possible human trafficking ring, Brinna and her mother get involved. Jack is thrilled to be working with Brinna again, but when Brinna’s mom is kidnapped, things escalated to critical proportions.

Both VISIBLE THREAT and CRITICAL PURSUIT are intelligently written by a former police officer. Not only are the crimes relevant but the insight to the camaraderie between officers is portrayed well, making the books not only interesting from the suspenseful side, but also from the personal side. I loved watching the slow progression of the relationship between Brinna and Jack. Usually, I don’t like when the hero and heroine are kept at arm’s length, but knowing Jack was recovering from the loss of his wife, made the timeline believable. I’m definitely a fan of Ms. Cantore’s work, and hope there are more installments in the Brinna Caruso series.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Review - Burning Proof by Janice Cantore

5 out of 5 stars 

BURNING PROOF is book two in the Cold Case Justice series and another winner from Janice Cantore. 

Detective Abby Hart is devastated when her latest case ends tragically. Taking a leave of absence, she spends time with her fiancée, doing what he loves, hoping his passion will become hers. Instead, Abby finds herself struggling with the relationship. With extra time on her hands and needing a distraction, she gets involved with a case Luke Murphy is working on. Abby knows she shouldn’t spend more time with Luke but wants to do something useful, especially if she can help the girl involved. 

Private Investigator, Luke Murphy is haunted by Asa Foster’s dying words. Asa is Abby’s previous partner and whispers to Luke, “There is proof.” Knowing Asa is talking about the Triple Seven fire that took Abby’s parents and Luke’s uncle, he’s afraid to share the information with Abby because she’s already dealing with so much. He keeps the evidence from her and does some investigating of his own. In the meantime, he and his partner Woody, also a friend of Abby’s, works on a ten-year-old child abduction case. Feeling Abby will be better able to help the girl involved, Luke asks for her help, even as he tries to ignore his attraction to her. As the case winds down, new evidence in the Triple Seven fire is uncovered. 

BURNING PROOF picks up where DRAWING FIRE leaves off. Even though Abby tries to put the Triple Seven fire and the death of her parents behind her, she can’t. It will always be in the back of her mind until she finds out the truth. She questions her feelings for both her fiancée and for Luke, while Luke tries to move on. Ms. Cantore does a superb job of building the suspense in this series. Even though the reader knows more than the characters, we still don’t know the conclusion. Hopefully, CATCHING HEAT, the third book in the series, will hold all the answers.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Review - Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore

5 out of 5 stars

DRAWING FIRE by Janice Cantore is the first in the Cold Case Justice series, and most definitely earns its “suspense” genre tag. 

Homicide detective Abby Hart is good at what she does. She’s a determined, by-the-book detective. That’s why she can’t let go of the unsolved crime that took her parents life when she was just a child. The Triple Seven fire is always on her mind, and now she might get a chance to talk with a person who could shed light on that case. Unfortunately, she has to work with private investigator, Luke Murphy, as well. Luke’s reputation and notoriety bothers Abby, but when she finds out he has a vested interest in solving her parent’s case, she decides working with him is in her best interest. Abby realizes she and Luke actually work well together, and soon, Abby feels an attraction for Luke, an attraction she shouldn't have and tries to ignore.  

Luke Murphy is an eyewitness in Abby’s latest case, but he also has a link to her parent’s deaths. The Triple Seven fire took the life of his uncle, and Luke wants it solved just as much as Abby does. The more time Luke works with Abby, the more he feels a connection to her. But since Abby is engaged, he keeps his feelings to himself. Working hard to stay professional, Luke and Abby uncover new leads in the Triple Seven fire, leads that someone doesn’t want them to pursue.  

This is a great first installment. Cantore is methodical in her development of Abby and Luke, and the other players involved. I was completely drawn into the multiple stories being told. Not only is there a case to be solved, but we watch the progress of the Triple Seven case, and Abby and Luke’s relationship. My only negative . . . which is to Ms. Cantore’s credit, is DRAWING FIRE does not finish with loose ends tied up. The Triple Seven case goes unsolved at the end of the book, and the reader is left to wonder what will become of Luke and Abby’s attraction for each other. Ms. Cantore played her cards right. I can’t wait to delve into BURNING PROOF, book two in the series. Luckily, I already own it.