Monday, September 26, 2016

My Review - When Love Arrives

4.5 out of 5 stars

WHEN LOVE ARRIVES by Johnnie Alexander is a roller-coaster ride of emotion for both hero and heroine. Though at times I rolled my eyes, the characters quickly grew on me even with their flaws and deceptions.

Dani Prescott is out for revenge. She thought losing her mother is an airplane accident when she was young was the low point of her life. However, years later, when Brett Somers calls her mother—the pilot of the plane—a murderer, Dani is determined to get even. Even thought Brett Somers also lost his parents, he still lived a charmed life in the lap of luxury, unlike Dani who was dumped in foster home after foster home. Bent on humiliating him publicly, because of the horrible things he said about her mother, Dani decides to photograph his every move. She’s convinced, given enough time, she will catch Brett in a compromising situation. Then she will have the ammunition to ruin his good name just like he ruined her mother’s.
Brett Somer’s is cool, calculated, and cunning—in both work and at play. Even though he inherited his families fortune, he’s added to his wealth because of his drive to succeed. His good looks and wealth make him a magnet to opportunistic women, but he doesn’t let that bother him. They use him for his money and his status, he uses them to warm his bed. He figures it’s a fair exchange. However, there is a side of Brett no one knows about. He’s hiding a secret that is destroying him inside.
Much to Dani’s dismay, she unintentionally has a face-to-face with Brett, and before she knows it, she’s agreed to go on a date with him. Dani figures it is the perfect opportunity to get the inside track on the egotistical, self-centered Casanova, but when one date leads to another, her objective becomes skewed. Brett isn’t at all the man she thought him to be, and little by little she finds herself drawn to the Brett nobody knows. Both Dani and Brett fight their attraction, knowing the secrets they keep are obstacles too great for any relationship to overcome.
I mentioned rolling my eyes, because I could not believe that Dani would agree to go on a date with the person she was supposed to hate with a passion. So, when that date turned into a second date, I sighed in disbelief. Nevertheless, I quickly got caught up in Dani and Brett’s journey, and was rooting for their relationship to survive. It took me a while before I realized I had read book one in the series. Then, the little lightbulb went off. Even though WHEN LOVE ARRIVES is book two, it easily reads as a standalone novel. But, having the backstory on Shelby and A.J. made for added enjoyment.
Book provided for review purposes.
Available September 2016 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Review - Taken - A Kept Novella

5 out of 5 stars
TAKEN, though just a novella, is still packed full of action and romance.
Jordan Foster and Cameron Winters have one thing in common—Dillan Foster. Dillan is Jordan’s older brother and Cameron’s best friend. That is enough to discourage Cameron from acting on his feelings for Jordan, that and their ten-year age gap. Though he thinks she is amazing, there is plenty about him Jordan doesn’t know. No one knows. And Cameron isn’t sure it’s a good idea to involve Jordan in the messiness of his personal life.
Jordan knows Cam has reservations about dating her, but she doesn’t see the problem. He’s a great guy, with a good head on his shoulders, and she’s known him for years. Other than his reputation for dating the “new woman” at church, then ending the relationship after only a few weeks, Jordan is sure they are meant for each other.
Surprised that Jordan has already gotten the green light from her brother, Cam decides to take a chance. He slowly lets her in on the secret he has kept from everyone, and the serious repercussions if his secret was to get out. Not discouraged in the least, Jordan stands with Cam and promises to help in any way she can.  Thankful to finally have someone he can talk to, Cam’s love for Jordan grows. Then, his darkest fear becomes a reality, putting everyone he loves—including Jordan—in danger.
Like I said before, lots of action is packed in just 139 pages. Though the characters in TAKEN are crossovers from the novel KEPT, it reads quite well as a standalone. The pacing of course is ramped up in order for it to fit in a novella format, which was both good and bad. Good—because I loved getting right to the point. My biggest pet peeve is when romance novels keep the main love interest apart until the end of the book. However, the bad—was that Jordan and Cam’s journey went by so fast.  Nevertheless, the good far outweighed the bad.
If you haven’t already read KEPT by Sally Bradley, you must pick it up! It is an amazing story that transcends the framework of most Christian romance books while still highlighting the need for God in our lives. Then, once you are done with KEPT, read the fast-paced TAKEN and fall in love with Jordan and Cameron.
Bonus feature: An excerpt from Sally’s next book, HOMESTANDS is included in TAKEN. It will whet your appetite for the first installment in the Chicago Wind series.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

My Review - Cold Shot

5 out of 5 stars
COLD SHOT by Dani Pettrey has laid the foundation for a new and amazing series.
When Gettysburg park ranger, Griffin McCray, finds a body at the famous site, he calls in forensic anthropologist, Finley Scott. Knowing the remains are not from the Civil War, Finley, Griff, and his childhood friend, FBI agent Declan Grey, set out to identify the victim and her murderer.

McCray is a quiet—keep to himself—kind of guy, but he’s having a hard time ignoring the attraction he feels for Finley. When Finley brings in Parker Mitchell, a crime scene analyst, Griff is forced to face demons from his past. Unbeknownst to Finley; Griff, Declan, and Parker were all childhood friends. The three of them, along with Luke Gallagher were a band of brothers, inseparable, until a tragedy fractured their friendship.
Finley Scott is determined to find out how a woman’s body ended up in Gettysburg. She knows Griff, mainly because of her previous work at the Gettysburg site, but his stand-offish personality kept her at arms-length. Parker, a crime scene analyst is a colleague of hers, who also is a friend of Griff’s. But the relationship is heavily laden with underlying tension. With Declan also working the case, Finley is amazed to find out the three men grew up together, but now are obviously estranged. So, Finley has three mysteries to solve. Who is the woman, who killed her, and what tragedy befell the three men working with her and destroyed the friendship they once shared.
Immediately, I felt the connection between Griff and Finley, and also sensed the tension when Parker showed up at the scene. Just like Finley, the reader wants to know what came between these childhood friends—and believe me, the reader will not be disappointed. A lot of history bonds these men together. Failure, guilt, and the lack of forgiveness ruined their friendship. But, when given a chance to mend fences, they must decide if what they once shared is strong enough to overcome the hurt that destroyed them.
Though it sounds like the book is centered around the men, the relationship between Griff and Finley is also front and center. Knowing the danger Finley has exposed herself to, Griff assigns himself as her bodyguard. With his background, he has the skills to keep her safe, but the more time Griff spends with Finley, the more the attraction between them intensifies.
I enjoyed COLD SHOT and can’t wait for the rest of the series. With the mystery surrounding Luke and Jenna (I’m not going to spoil it and say who she is), there is definitely a lot more story for Pettrey to unpack. Out of the four friends, it was clear COLD SHOT was centered around Griff, but Declan and Parker were vital to the story. I hope the next installments are the same, with all three friends making large contributions to the story instead of relegating any one of them to the background with only a few mentions from time to time.
I waited anxiously for a new series from Pettrey because I absolutely loved her Alaskan Courage series. Maybe, because of that anticipation, I was only slightly disappointed that COLD SHOT wasn’t as amazing as I wanted it to be.  It was a good book, as you can see from my review and my rating, it just didn’t quite fulfill my anticipation. I think, because of the underlying tension, the men came off as a bit cold at times. But, I have great faith in Dani Pettrey, that with each installment, I will feel for these characters what I felt for the McKenna clan.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Review - Sins of the Past

5 out of 5 stars
What better way to be introduced to three great romance/suspense writers.  Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason are leaders in the field of Christian/romance/suspense.

First, Dee Henderson with MISSING-

Though I wouldn’t say this is Henderson’s best work; it was still enjoyable to read.

Wyoming police chief, John Graham, is called to Chicago because his elderly mother had disappeared from her retirement home. Teamed with Lt. Sharon Noble, they try to piece together his mother’s last steps before she disappeared. Though this doesn’t seem like the proper setting for a budding romance, both John and Sharon quickly develop feelings for each other. With the intention of keeping their relationship professional, they choose to set aside their personal feelings until the disappearance of John’s mom is solved.

The setting aside of their personal feelings is what makes this story less romance, and more police procedure. I get easily frustrated with romance novels that keep the love interests at arms-length for most of the story. However, because of their professions, I was willing to put those frustrations aside. Like I said, not Henderson’s best story, but with the constraints of a novella, I still feel she made it worth my wild.

Next, Dani Pettrey with SHADOWED-

As always, Dani immediately throws her main characters together in order to ignite a spark—a spark that simmers throughout the book.

Libby Jennings is an open-water swimmer and is in Alaska for a competition. While there, she decides to do some whale watching and ends up being the only passenger on the excursion led Ben McKenna. When Ben and Libby recover a body from the water, Libby immediately recognizes the deceased as Kat Stanic, one of her fellow competitors and former college roommate. However, Kat abruptly left Berkeley, and though she still competed against Libby, she fused to have any interaction with her. With Kat dead, Libby can’t help but wonder if Kat was involved in some sort of spy game or espionage. Needing answers for herself, Libby inserts herself into the investigation, alongside Ben. While they hunt down clues, their attraction grows.

Dani Pettrey’s characters are always so charismatic and full of adventure.  Her females are strong and self-reliant, and her males are the epitome of rough-around-the-edges hero material.  Ms. Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series is on my favorites list, and the great thing about SHADOWED, is it’s link to that same series.   I would’ve bought SINS OF THE PAST for this installment alone.

Finally, Lynette Eason with BLACKOUT-

Macy Adams is living with a nightmare she can’t remember. Someone is stalking her because of her involvement in a robbery gone bad when she was a teenager. The problem is, she can’t remember the events of that night. However, someone is convinced Macy knows more than what she’s telling, and that she stashed the cache from the robbery. Chad Latham, is not only Macy’s next-door neighbor, but he happens to be a cop. When it becomes clear someone is stalking Macy, Chad steps in, not just because he’s a detective, but because his attraction for Macy has gnawed at him for two years. He always felt she kept him at arms-length, now he knows why. His hope is to find the person who’s threatening her, and with any luck, tear down the walls she’s erected around herself.

This is another amazing story from Lynette Eason. Action grabs you from the first page and gives the reader little time to catch their breath. A stressed-out heroine, and a patient cop—a great combination. The situation Macy got herself into as a teen was a tad far-reaching, but hey, that’s why we call it fiction. It didn't detract from the overall story.

Thanks ladies for a great read. My only complaint . . . I would’ve rather the stories be full-length because the novellas read too fast.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Review - Deadly Encounter

5 out of 5 stars
DEADLY ENCOUNTER had so many twists, turns, and ambiguous connections between suspects and victims, you really have to stay focused as you read. But . . . it’s worth the effort.

Stacy Broussard has a heart of gold. The feelings she has for, Whitt—a neighborhood boy with delinquent parents, the people who reside alongside her in her declining borough, and the patients she treats at her veterinary clinic, make’s Stacy a strong candidate for citizen of the year.  That’s why she is devastated to find a dead body, an injured dog, and a shot down drone while on her mounted patrol of the local airport. Not thinking the day could get any worse, Stacy finds out it indeed can when FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc somehow turns the tables on her and interviews Stacy as a possible suspect instead of a victim.

When one bizarre incident after another points to Stacy Broussard as the common thread, Alex starts to believe someone is targeting her, but why is anyone’s guess. The more he investigates, the more Alex is attracted to Stacy, and her sidekick Whitt. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of time to figure out who is masterminding the incredulous occurrences. Lives are being claimed, and the next one might be Stacy or Whitt. In a race against time, with nothing but abstract clues, Alex’s stake becomes personal. Stacy is no longer just a victim, she’s the woman he’s fallen in love with.

Okay, the story is a bit far-fetched, but the banter and sparks between Stacy and Alex makes the story worth the reader’s times. Stacy truly is a woman who genuinely cares for others. The passion she has for her community is admirable, and the love she has for Whitt is beautiful. These attributes in Stacy makes Alex’s snarky ‘everyone is a suspect in my book’ treatment of her seem that much more abrasive. Figuring no one can be as altruistic as Stacy, Alex is determined to find the chink in her armor, but soon finds out, Stacy is the real deal.  That’s what makes their attraction for each other even more enjoyable.

Like I said, the story was a bit bizarre, but the characters were spot on.

Monday, September 05, 2016

My Review - Told You Twice

5 out of 5 stars

TOLD YOU TWICE takes its readers on a journey of self-discovery. Just like TOLD YOU SO, the first book in the series, you have to be patient and find the rhythm in which the story is written. Once you do, you’ll be pulled into the vortex of TOLD YOU TWICE as it unfolds with raw honesty and life-changing discoveries.

Alexis (Exi) Murphy is excited to start planning her Grace Evangeline themed wedding. Known for her disastrous relationships, Exi is thankful to have found Jeffrey, and has no doubt that they’re meant to be together. However, once Exi is introduced to actor, Bo Corrigan, she wonders if what she and Jeffery share is love or just the comfort of a stable relationship. Not feeling the least bit threatened, Jeffrey allows Exi to spend time with Bo, convinced nothing will come of it. But, the chemistry between Exi and Bo is off the charts, and Bo makes it very clear he intends on wooing her away from Jeffrey. However, what Exi doesn’t know is the volatile past Bo has lived, and how it continues to follow him with dangerous consequences. Drawn to Bo, not so much for who he is on the outside, but for the tortured person she sees in his eyes, Exi will do anything to save him from those who are after him, and the demons that will not let him rest.

Bo Corrigan is every woman’s dream; a real Casanova. From their first introduction, Bo is infatuated with Exi, and that fixation becomes an obsession; but not in a creepy way. Bo is convinced she is what he needs in his life; to straighten him out, to fill what is missing in his life. So, Bo pulls out all the stops to win her affection. The turning point comes when Bo realizes he loves Exi so much, he doesn’t want her poisoned or hurt by his toxic life. To protect those around him, Bo ends up on a self-destructive path that leaves him near death, before he experiences a life transformation.

TOLD YOU TWICE is not your run-of-the-mill love story. Even though it has all of the typical plot points: love-at-first-sight, being swept-off-your-feet, the dashing lead man falling for the simple neighborhood girl, the package in which Ms. Heitzmann presents it is anything but typical. TOLD YOU TWICE has scenes that nearly ignite with sexual tension, and others so deep and dark, I found myself cringing at the anguish the characters were suffering. TOLD YOU TWICE was gripping and difficult to put down.

The added bonus of TOLD YOU TWICE was getting to catch up with characters from TOLD YOU SO. Grace, Devin, and Eileen are prevalent through the story, adding to the drama and turmoil.

Book provided for review purposes.