Genre: Romantic Suspense

Guest Review: The Pretender by HelenKay Dimon

Posted March 21, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Pretender by HelenKay DimonReviewer: Jen
The Pretender (Games People Play #3) by HelenKay Dimon
Series: Games People Play #3
Also in this series: The Fixer, The Enforcer (Games People Play #2), The Negotiator (Games People Play #2.5)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“Sexy, emotional, funny . . . Dimon gives it all to her readers.” New York Times Bestselling Author Jill Shalvis

They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and Harrison Tate is proof. Once a professional burglar, he now makes a lawful living tracking down stolen art. No one needs to know about his secret sideline, “liberating” artifacts acquired through underhanded methods. At least until one of those jobs sees him walking in on a murder.

Gabrielle Wright has long been estranged from her wealthy family, but she didn’t kill her sister. Trouble is, the only person who can prove it is the sexy, elusive criminal who shouldn’t have been at the island estate on that terrible night. She’s not expecting honor among thieves—or for their mutual attraction to spark into an intense inferno of desire.

Under the guise of evaluating her family’s art, Harris comes back to the estate hoping to clear Gabby’s name. But returning to the scene of the crime has never been riskier, with their hearts and lives on the line.

The Games People Play series is all about a group of men with traumatic, messed up childhoods who create a found family and go on to become extremely successful (of course). Book 3 is about brother Harrison Tate. Harrison is what might be termed a cat burglar. Apparently in the past he was more indiscriminate in his thieving, but now he’s a “good” thief who only steals from people who deserve it…supposedly. When the book opens, he is in the middle of a job and happens upon a recent murder. He runs out, but not before the victim’s sister catches an unidentifiable glimpse of him. Fast forward to the present, when Harrison, with the help of Wren, has returned to the scene of the crime posing as an art appraiser. His main objective is to help the sister, Gabrielle Wright, who was never charged but has fallen under suspicion for having killed her sister. Harrison knows she didn’t do it, and he’s been wracked with guilt that he didn’t do more to help before. He’s back to protect Gabrielle and see justice done. Gabrielle is hiding some pretty big secrets herself, and Harrison is lying about who he is. When they start falling for each other, it adds a complication neither one particularly welcomes.

I liked Harrison, in a way. He is very sweet and gentle in a way I think some of the other brothers aren’t. I enjoyed the verbal dance he and Gabrielle do as they circle each other. They both know they are attracted but that it’s a bad idea to get involved. I really felt for Gabrielle, too. She has a lot of unfair shit happen to her, and it made me so sad to see. She gives so much to protect the people she loves, and she really deserved her happy ending.

It’s a bit hard to get around the fact that Harrison is a thief. “But he steals for good reasons” was kind of a cop out, in my mind. Hell, the whole catalyst for this book is that he was stealing from Gabrielle’s sister–there were “good” reasons involved but she certainly wasn’t a villain. I didn’t quite love that. An even bigger issue is the lying, my own personal hot button. I sound like a broken record about lying, I know, but Dimon keeps including these major lies in her books and it keeps yanking me out of the stories! (Clearly this series is based around characters lying and hiding secrets and I am a glutton for punishment for continuing to read them.) Unlike the lies in Book 2, which come out in the middle, Harrison doesn’t ever fess up to Gabrielle until the very end. I totally understand why he kept lying, but there is no way it was not going to go badly when the truth finally came out. Gabrielle never got a chance to know him or come to terms with what happened. There are all kinds of meager justifications for why he kept silent and how he was trying to protect Gabrielle behind the scenes, but I was just not liking it. Still, I felt awfully sorry for Harrison when he realizes he fucked it all up. I was actually tearing up at the end when he comes into a work meeting and realizes Gabrielle’s there…ack, he is so heartbroken it pained me! If he had confessed earlier on, I would have been a happier reader.

I think you could easily begin this series at this book, although Book 1 was my favorite and I’d absolutely suggest you start there. I know I enjoyed, but didn’t love, Book 3. If you have an easier time overlooking the hero lying than I do, this may appeal even more.

Games People Play Series

Grade: 3.5 out of 5


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Guest Review: The Negotiator by HelenKay Dimon

Posted March 19, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Negotiator by HelenKay DimonReviewer: Jen
The Negotiator (Games People Play #2.5) by HelenKay Dimon
Series: Games People Play #2.5
Also in this series: The Fixer, The Enforcer (Games People Play #2), The Pretender (Games People Play #3)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon Impulse
Publication Date: November 14th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 128
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lauren Gallagher’s life changed almost three years ago. After her husband disappeared at sea, she was left with a failing pleasure boat company and more than a few secrets. Now, after years spent rebuilding the business and paying off the pile of debts, she finally feels in control. But when she finds her husband, actually dead, on the floor, she becomes the leading suspect in his murder investigation.

Garrett McGrath wants Lauren in his bed, not his heart. He doesn’t do emotions, but every time he sees her, holding himself back gets harder and harder. When Lauren comes under suspicion for killing her previously presumed-dead husband, he knows he has to help her, any way he can.

But as the danger becomes more intense and Garret and Lauren grow closer than either planned, they’re in danger of losing everything…including their hearts.

Did you read any of the other books in the Games People Play series? If so, you encountered Garrett McGrath. He works for the hero from book 1, Wren. Garrett is…Wren’s assistant? Right hand man? I’ve never been entirely clear on his exact role, but he’s kind of the go-to guy who helps Wren with all manner of tasks. He’s also very funny, snarky, and kind, which is what made me fall in love with him in book 1. Unfortunately, his book 2.5 story wasn’t as good as he deserved.

When the story opens, Garrett has apparently been getting friendly (actually friends, no friends-with-benefits!) with Lauren, the best friend of the heroine from book 1. He really likes Lauren and wants something more than friendship, but that’s all she’s comfortable with so he takes it. When it turns out her supposedly dead husband shows up very much alive, but then is murdered in her house, Lauren turns to Garrett for help. He works for The Fixer, remember, so fixing is literally his business. He has to help Lauren figure out why her husband disappeared in the first place, why he returned, and who murdered him for real. And of course, he’s hoping along the way Lauren is willing to take a chance on a relationship with him.

I got frustrated with Lauren’s standoffishness at times, but I didn’t think it was unreasonable given what happened with her awful ex. It made sense that she would be cautious and not trust easily. I enjoyed that she wasn’t perfect but that her choices were a product of the messed up lessons she’d learned from her past. The problem was, I never felt like I understood why Garrett loved her. This story was just too short. We are told that Garrett and Lauren have been hanging out, but we missed all that. Instead, we see them at this crisis point and have to trust that they did indeed have a friendship going beforehand. I wanted to see a bit more of their relationship growing. It was difficult to step into a story that felt like it was ⅓ of the way through already.

I really wish Garrett had gotten a full-length story. He’s hilarious and sweet, and I wanted to see more. Still, the dialog and humor in this series are wonderful, and it’s sexy. I enjoyed getting to know Garrett and Lauren, and I was happy to read it.

Games People Play Series

Grade: 3 out of 5

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Guest Review: The Enforcer by HelenKay Dimon

Posted March 14, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 5 Comments

Guest Review: The Enforcer by HelenKay DimonReviewer: Jen
The Enforcer (Games People Play #2) by HelenKay Dimon
Series: Games People Play #2
Also in this series: The Fixer, The Negotiator (Games People Play #2.5), The Pretender (Games People Play #3)
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Security expert Matthias Clarke hunts down people who don’t want to be found. His latest prey: the sole survivor of a massacre that killed his brother years ago. Kayla Roy claimed she was a victim of the carnage. Then she disappeared. Matthias thinks Kayla may have actually been the killer—and he wants justice.

Kayla Roy never stays in one place too long and never lets a man get too close. But keeping Matthias at arm’s length may be impossible. Dark and enigmatic, Matthias draws Kayla in from the start. She knows nothing about his connection to her dark past, or his thirst for vengeance. She only knows their attraction feels overpowering—and very dangerous.

Matthias’s suspicions about the sensual Kayla clash with his instinct to protect her, especially when he realizes her life is in danger. But Kayla’s not looking for a savior—especially one who seems hell-bent on tempting her down a lethal path.

Matthias Clarke owns a security company, and he’s the adopted brother of the hero from Book 1 of the series, Wren. All the brothers had profoundly lousy childhoods, and Matthias’s past comes back to mess with his life in this story. His biological mom, who has shown no interest in him up to now, comes begging for help. She wants to catch the person who murdered a house full of college students, one of whom was the brother he never met. The only survivor of the massacre was Kayla Roy, and Matthias is suspicious that she may have been involved in the murders somehow. He tracks her down and uses false pretenses to get to know her. The more he learns about her, the more he doubts she could be involved, but if she’s not guilty why has she been running away for years, and why is she hiding so many secrets? For her part, Kayla feels drawn to Matthias, but she’s afraid and knows if she lets herself go, it could be her downfall.

This book is full of some pretty dark issues, not least of which is the massacre that began the whole thing. (Trigger warning, there is a pretty graphic description of Kayla finding the bodies at the start of the book.) The plot is fairly fast paced, which I enjoyed. There is a lot going on here, and while sometimes it felt like too much, I thought all the threads were satisfactorily resolved by the end. I also appreciated that while Matthias lies longer than I would have preferred about who he is and why he’s there, it comes out early enough that Kayla has time to adjust. I also liked that Garrett from Book 1 has a presence in this book, because his humor and banter add some light balance to the darkness of the subject matter.

In the end, I didn’t particularly like Matthias OR Kayla, though. They both do some pretty unsavory things, and they both are pretty prickly. In particular, there’s a big twist towards the end that was frankly pretty unbelievable and made me really dislike Kayla. It was just darker than I wanted, and for that reason I wasn’t as invested in the relationship as I should have been. 

I am absolutely down to keep reading this series despite my lukewarm response to this book, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the brothers are like.

Games People Play Series

Grade: 3 out of 5


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Sunday Spotlight: The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard

Posted March 4, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Linda Howard is a long-time favorite author. The blurb for this one has me really excited.

Sunday Spotlight: The Woman Left Behind by Linda HowardThe Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard
Published by William Morrow
Publication Date: March 6th 2018
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it. She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC. She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit. The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun...or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina—who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice—making it through the rigors of training. The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation. In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates. What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria. While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives. Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for. He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.

Order the Book:



She was the most stubborn little shit he’d ever seen, Levi thought dispassionately as he silently watched her almost fall out of his truck, then limp over to her car. He had to fight for the dispassion, which irritated him to hell and back. Everything about this situation irritated him to hell and back.

If it worked, Mac’s idea was a damn good one—if it worked. Taking raw amateurs and training them to the point where they wouldn’t be a liability was a tall order but not an impossible one. Taking a raw amateur woman who obviously didn’t want to be there and bringing her up to snuff verged on the damn near impossible, so of course Mac had given her to him.

He and the guys had talked it over last night, decided then that if they were going to be saddled with her, they needed to be the ones overseeing her training and the sooner the better, and he’d cleared it with Mac. Then they’d watched her for a while, before approaching, to get an idea of what they were dealing with. Some guy had shoved her, causing her to lose ground in the run, but she’d caught up with him and tripped him. “Good,” Boom had grunted. “Saves me from kicking his ass at the end of the day.”

Levi grunted in return. He wouldn’t have kicked the guy’s ass, but he was glad she’d taken up for herself. The team couldn’t function if they had to deal with a crybaby. But Boom was married and had a couple of kids, the youngest a three-year-old little girl. As the father of a daughter he’d since gone bat-shit crazy, swearing he was going to lock her in a convent when she was six, and he’d geld any dick swinger who got anywhere near her.

“We can’t protect her,” Levi said evenly. “She has to pull her own weight, or this won’t work.”

“I know, damn it, but—”

“No buts. No taking up for her. We have to see what she’s made of.”

And they had. What she was made of was bullheaded stubbornness, mixed with cussedness and a total inability to keep her mouth shut. She’d glared at them, cursed all their villages, called down the ten plagues of Egypt on them—and tried her damnedest to do everything they’d told her to do. She’d gone splat more times than he could count, eaten dirt, plowed headfirst into a mud puddle, blistered her hands and probably her feet, and not once had she asked for help.

Several times today he’d had to stop himself from catching her when he saw she was going to fall, even if “catching her” would have meant grabbing her by the ponytail. Instead he’d let her splat, hoping she’d say, “I quit,” but she never had. She’d muttered, she’d cussed both under and over her breath, she’d called them sadists and told them numerous times how much she hated them all, but each and every time she’d gotten to her feet and kept at it.

How in hell was she still moving? She wasn’t anywhere near being in shape. But she’d set her jaw in an obstinate look he and his guys had quickly become familiar with and kept on plugging. Jelly had made a comment about maybe trying his luck with her, and Levi had had to shut him down fast.

“You don’t fuck with teammates,” he’d said flatly. “That’s the best way I know of to mess up the team. She’s off-limits to all of us. If you’re thinking about her that way, shut it down now.”

Too damn bad he had to include himself in that order. But he, more than any of the others, had to stick to that rule. Doing anything else would tear the team apart and considering their lives all depended on teamwork, he’d do what he had to do.

All the single guys had looked disappointed, except for Voodoo, who hadn’t warmed to her at all, but he was such a surly bastard he didn’t like himself most of the time so he didn’t count.

Levi felt surly about the situation himself, above and beyond having an amateur inserted into their tight-knit group. All of the GO-Teams were tight-knit; they had to be, to get the job done and survive. It was too damn bad she appealed to him, not so much in how she looked—though she was pretty enough, not flashy except for maybe her eyes, which were really blue but with a yellow ring around the pupil. She had boobs and a butt, but not much of them. She had a lot of dark brown hair, shiny like a little kid’s until she got coated in dust. What appealed to him most was that attitude and mouthiness, when common sense should have told her to button her lip. She hadn’t, and he liked that.

Didn’t matter. She was off-limits. He’d cut her no more slack than he did the others, and if she couldn’t do the job . . . well, then, that changed the rules of the game.

He knew where she’d left her car because the bus always picked up the newbies at the same place. He gave a quick grin at how she’d fallen for that bullshit about putting a GPS on her car; sooner or later she’d find out he’d lied, and the team would get a kick out of listening to her bitch at him. He had a thick skin; he could take it. In fact, he looked forward to it.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

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Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Linda Howard


Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

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Guest Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

Posted February 23, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann KrentzReviewer: Jen
When All the Girls Have Gone (Cutler, Sutter and Salinas #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler Sutter and Salinas #1
Published by Berkley Books
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Jayne Ann Krentz, the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Sisters, delivers a thrilling novel of the deceptions we hide behind, the passions we surrender to, and the lengths we’ll go to for the truth...

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way...

After reading over a dozen books in a few days while home with the flu, I just couldn’t find any new books that grabbed me. When this one caught my interest I actually broke my usual rule and paid full price for it. Unfortunately, the book was a big disappointment.

Charlotte receives a mysterious package on her sister’s behalf. The package was sent by a woman in her sister’s investment club. When the friend who sent the package ends up dead, Charlotte starts poking around and comes into contact with Max, a private investigator hired by the dead woman’s cousin to investigate the death. Soon, it becomes clear Charlotte’s sister is missing, and other dangers seem to be centered around the women in the club. Is the danger due to the club’s investment activities, or is it something more personal?

Like I said, the synopsis sounded thrilling, but the reality of the book didn’t live up to the premise. First, there really was no mystery. It was clear early on who the villains, and even the attempted twist at the end was not at all surprising. The danger never felt that acute, and the investigation was kind of lackluster.

Charlotte and Max are both pretty forgettable characters. Charlotte works at a senior community, which provides plenty of opportunities for ridiculous elderly plot moppets. She’s pretty vanilla and honestly doesn’t have much that makes her stand out. Max burned out of law enforcement and now is trying to start his own PI business, so naturally the first case he takes is one he knows will make him little, if any, money. Sounds like a solid business plan, no? He’s also got a bunch of family drama, which gets resolved way too tidily in this book, and some mysteries from his past, which don’t get resolved and I presume will form the longer story arc of this new series. None of it grabbed me.

Most disappointing of all was the romance, though. There is no sexual tension, and the actual sex is definitely lukewarm. I did like that there’s no real conflict of interest or drama about being together. Max knows he’s interested and wants to get to know Charlotte. Too bad there’s no real chemistry either. 

All in all, this was a bland and forgettable story, and it reminds me why I don’t pay full price for most books.

Grade: 2 out of 5


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