Genre: Romantic Suspense

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Shattered by Joan Johnston

Posted October 22, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 15 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Shattered by Joan JohnstonReviewer: Casee
Shattered by Joan Johnston
Series: Bitter Creek #8
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: December 29, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 423
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one-star
Series Rating: one-star

Nine years ago Kate Grayhawk Pendelton walked into Wyatt Shaw's life--and out of it the next morning. Now Wyatt's back--and has the power to shatter Kate's future with the man she loves.

By reputation, Wyatt Shaw is a brutal killer who always gets what he wants. And he wants Kate and her twin eight-year-old sons.

Texas Ranger Jack McKinley is hot on Wyatt Shaw's trail. The presumed heir to the D'Amato crime syndicate is threatening to steal the woman he loves.

Holly McKinley is fighting to keep Jack from leaving her for another woman. Now the secret she's kept for over twenty years may save their son's life, and cost her the only man she's ever loved.

This review was originally published December 30, 2009

Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

!@#$$%^&!@#$%^&

I can’t tell you exactly what I was saying as I was reading this book. What I can say is that Joan Johnston really screwed her readers on this one. Shattered is the newest book in Johnston’s Bitter Creek series. I have doggedly stuck with it (waiting for Jack and Kate to FINALLY get together) only to end up feeling completely screwed over at the end. I felt like Johnston was giving the proverbial finger to her readers while writing this book.

The Bitter Creek series started way back in 2000. In 2005, The Next Mrs. Blackthorne was released. It was supposed to be the story of Clay Blackthorne and Libby Grayhawk (which it was to a certain extent). It was either in this book or the one before it (The Rivals) that Kate and Jack first meet. Kate is nineteen and instantly falls for Jack. Sparks fly, etc. Jack is older and more jaded. He rejects Kate, which sends her into the arms of another man. Nine years later, they meet again. Kate is widowed (or so she thinks) with twin boys. Jack is going through a divorce. It’s finally their time. At the end of A Stranger’s Game (2009), Kate and Jack are as good as together. Then Kate’s husband comes back from the dead. Obviously you think that is the obstacle that will come between Kate and Jack. Nope.

The bottom line is that Kate and Jack DON’T END UP TOGETHER. OMGWTFBBQ. It’s bull shit. The story would have been good if JACK AND KATE WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO END UP TOGETHER. There is no sense to be made from the fact that Kate and Jack END UP WITH OTHER PEOPLE. And who they end up with is so fucking cliched. Jack ends up with the wife he was going to divorce. Kate ends up with the man she had a one night stand with, resulting in the birth of her twins.

In the midst of all that, Kate’s husband decides that he wants revenge on his bitch of a wife and her lover. Then he decides to blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blabety blah.

The end.

1 out of 5.

The series:

Book CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook Cover

one-star


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Throwback Thursday Review: Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose

Posted September 17, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Closer Than You Think by Karen RoseReviewer: Casee
Closer Than You Think (Cincinnati Series, #1) by Karen Rose
Series: Cincinnati Series #1
Also in this series: Alone in the Dark (Cincinnati Series #2)
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 688
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Your Back and Did You Miss Me comes the newest novel by “the queen of romantic suspense” (Crime and Punishment).

Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Both boon and bane, her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day.

But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are.

Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.

This review was originally posted on April 14, 2015.

Closer Than You Think was the best book I’ve read in ages. It actually drove me to write a review. A lot of you don’t remember me, I’m sure, but I actually used to read and review books regularly here at Book Binge. O_o. Now, I hardly read and when I try to review, the cursor just sits there are stares at me. The it’s asks me “Well,are you just going to sit there?”. No, I’m not. I’m turning you off and going to take a nap.

As it happened, Closer Than You Think was a book that I could not put down. I finished it in two days and that’s only because of running my daughter around to soccer. Onto the review…Faith Corcoran has changed her name, took all her money out of the bank and leaves Florida for Cincinnati, where she just inherited a home from her grandmother. After being stalked by the man she put in prison for over a year.

The first night she arrives home, the key doesn’t work to the lock, so he heads back down the winding hill. Coming back the next day after getting the power turned on and the locks changed, Faith runs into what she thought was an animal, but soon realizes is a young, terrorized, horrified woman. Faith’s car goes over the embankment but she quickly climbs up the bank to make sure the woman is all right. Finally the cops get there.

When Deacon Novak arrives at the scene, he doesn’t know what to think. Faith brings out his primal instincts, but he knows she has to be on the suspect list until they can cross. Her off. After all, the victim seemed to come from her house as it was the only one between the accident site and her house. The only problem with the house is that someone has been using the basement as a torture chamber and no one has any idea.

They have multiple suspects; a stalker that may have followed her up from Florida. Two uncles that may have an ax to grind because she alone inherited the house. Or one of the uncles could be working with the stalker. Or it’s someone other than all three of them. All you do know is from the killer’s pov, he wants her dead. Badly.

Karen Rose writes some of the best sociopathic villains I’ve ever read. That’s part of the reason I can never put her books down. I’ve also been waiting to read Deacon Novak since he was first introduced in the books. Karen Rose does write some of the best suspense out there, but she also writes some of the best romantic suspense. Deacon and Faith were drawn to each other from the beginning. Deacon couldn’t help but want to protect Faith. As for Faith, as cheesy as it is, she feels an animal attraction to Deacon which is not like her at all. When you put all these elements together, there is nothing I didn’t like about the book. There is a lot of family stuff I left out, but suffice to say if you don’t read this book, you’re missing out.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.

Cincinnati

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Posted September 10, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Shadow Woman by Linda HowardReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Woman by Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
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three-stars

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From Linda Howard comes a thrilling and sensual new novel of romance, suspense, intrigue . . . and memories that can kill. SHADOW WOMAN  Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.   Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.   Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Linda Howard's Running Wild.
Praise for Shadow Woman  “Dazzling . . . From the opening line, [Shadow Woman] will grab readers and take them on an exhilarating and terrifying adventure!”—RT Book Reviews   “Fast-paced, intricately detailed romantic suspense . . . Readers won’t want to put it down until the extraordinary conclusion. . . . Highly recommended.”—Fresh Fiction   “An intriguing plot and captivating characters [with] lots of drama, tension, intrigue and suspense.”—The Star-Ledger

This review was originally posted on January 23, 2013.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book by Linda Howard.  I don’t even remember the last book that I read by Howard but whatever it was, I read it a while ago.  I was kind of wary going into this read because I read online that a chunk of readers were disappointed in this book and I also read that the hero and heroine don’t even come together (like talk to each other) until more than halfway through the book.  So yeah, I was scared to start this one.

Having read it from cover to cover now, I can say that the readers were right that the hero and heroine talk to each other (as love interests) for the first time at about the 70% mark on my Kindle copy.  But I wasn’t too mad about that, I was actually very interested in what was going on in the story that I didn’t mind too much.

This story takes place in DC and follows Lizette Henry as she tries to remember the life that brought her to where she is today.  She wakes up one morning and doesn’t recognize the face that is looking back at her in the mirror.  Things aren’t adding up to what she knows and she starts to remember how to do things that she can’t remember learning so a huge chunk of this book is trying to find out what happened to Lizette that brought her here and so on and so forth.

Lizette is known as Subject C to the people that are monitoring her.  Her entire life is bugged.  There isn’t a part of her life that isn’t carefully monitored and Lizette doesn’t have any idea why.  When flashbacks start coming in, Lizette starts relying on old habits that she doesn’t remember but knows how to do anyway.  When the bullets start flying, Liz is on her own until the guy that she’s been dreaming about, X shows up and at first she doesn’t trust him because he shows up with guns and he’s chasing her and blah blah blah but that changes after they finally talk.

I enjoyed this story but I will admit that it was really slow in the beginning.  It took me a while to really get into the story but by about the fifth or sixth chapter, things picked up and things got interesting.  I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the putting the puzzle pieces together.  This book was kind of like The Hangover, the Secret Service edition.  Lots of action, not a lot of romance but still an enjoyable read.  I would have liked to get to know Xavier a bit more but aside from that, this was a good read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

three-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Posted August 6, 2020 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Shadow Lover by Anne StuartReviewer: Jen
Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 1, 1999
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320
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three-half-stars

A woman holds vigil over her wealthy, dying step-mother. Tensions -- already high with greedy relatives appearing to claim their inheritances -- are further strained by the appearance of the dying woman's long-lost son, who ran away 18 years ago. His mother greets him with joy, the relatives with resentment, but the woman alone knows he is hiding something...that he is not who he says he is. As she uncovers secrets and deceptions of the past and present, she knows only one thing in her heart -- that the irresistible appeal and seductive power of this mysterious stranger may be more dangerous than she thinks!

This review was originally posted on January 30, 2014.

I’ll just get this out of the way now–this book is not going to work for everyone! It has some flaws, yet I found myself really enjoying it. It’s very gothic, which is something I love in romances. I get to enjoy the tension of “who is a good guy/gal here” while still knowing that the romance will be happy in the end. Honestly, when I started the book I was worried I had accidentally stumbled into a non-romance gothic. I genuinely wasn’t sure there was going to be a happy ending. Rest assured readers, there will be a happy resolution, even if the path to get there isn’t quite what you expected!

Carolyn has returned to the home of her wealthy foster mother Sally McDowell to care for her while she’s dying of lung cancer. The rest of the wealthy, disgusting family also takes up residence during the vigil. While Sally shows her a certain amount of affection, the rest of the family treats Carolyn as a poor relation, and even at the start of the book Carolyn fully intends to cut them all out of her life once Sally dies. The family is thrown into turmoil, however, when Alexander McDowell, Sally’s long lost son, shows up. The problem is, Carolyn knows it can’t be Alex because she alone saw Alex die over a decade ago. So who exactly is this man claiming to be Alex? Is he a con man trying to get money, or is there something more going on?

Carolyn and Alex have some interesting chemistry. Carolyn had been infatuated with the teenage Alex, even though he was an obnoxious, spoiled juvenile delinquent who acted horrible towards her. When he ran away at age 17 (and when she saw him get killed), she was devastated. Clearly there is a part of her that desperately wants to believe this man is the real Alex, and whoever he is she is still very attracted to him. Alex too is drawn to Carolyn against his better judgment. It created some of the great tension in the book, and it made their sexytimes a little more steamy than I expected. Alex, however, is kind of a dick, at least for much of the book. He’s smug, cocky, and selfish. These qualities definitely soften up later in the book, which made me question just how smug and cocky he really is, and what is all an act. Who is the real “Alex”? Part of what I enjoyed about this book was the complexities and mysteries of the characters! Some characters turn out to be much worse than they at first appeared, and others turn out better. I love this kind of psychological creepiness, rather than the supernatural creepiness gothic novels sometimes have.

But there are some things not to like here, too. As I said, Alex can be kind of off-putting and domineering, and Carolyn can be kind of a wet blanket. The book is a bit dated, which isn’t surprising given that this is a reissue. (The original was published in the late 90’s.) The book age wasn’t totally obvious, though–for the most part, nothing in the story jumps out as being out-of-touch, just not quite modern. There are some things that don’t make tons of sense, though. One of the biggest questions is why Carolyn would bend herself over backwards for this family in the first place. She is basically the daughter of a servant that Sally took in when she was 2 years old. Everyone in the book agrees that Carolyn was never treated like a real member of the family, always like a poor relation to be tolerated. Sally never adopts her and it’s very clear that she’s never really considered “family.” Carolyn had moved out and gotten her own life, but she quits her job, gives up her apartment, and moves back in to care for Sally even though she admits Sally’s love is cool and conditional. While the other relatives seem to be most concerned with Sally’s illness because of how it will affect their inheritance, Carolyn is only getting some sort of small stipend, not a huge chunk of money. The explanation given is that Carolyn never had a real family and therefore feels loyalty to the only one she has, even if it’s a lousy one, but that’s not a great reason in my mind, especially when the family is insanely rich and could afford the best care. There really was no logical reason for Carolyn to be there, but you have to just accept it and move on!

There were other problematic points too, though it’s difficult to go into detail without spoilers. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I don’t want to ruin them for anyone. I can say, though, that I still greatly enjoyed the book. The slightly unbelievable points didn’t overpower the mystery and the great atmosphere. If you enjoy gothic romances and are willing to overlook some mild unbelievability, I think this book would be a hit for you.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Say No More by Karen Rose

Posted August 2, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 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. 🙂

Say No More is the second book in KR’s Sacramento series. I really enjoyed the first book, so I’m looking forward to this one. Karen Rose is literally the master of romantic suspense. If you haven’t read her yet, I highly suggest that you do.

Sunday Spotlight: Say No More by Karen RoseSay No More by Karen Rose
Series: Sacramento #2
Also in this series: Say You're Sorry (Sacramento, #1)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Format: Hardcover
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 544
Length: 24 hours
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: five-stars

Mercy Callahan thought she'd escaped the cult decades ago, but its long fingers are reaching out for her again in this electrifying novel in the Sacramento series...
Seventeen years ago. That was the last time Mercy Callahan saw Ephraim Burton, the leader of the twisted Eden cult where she was raised. But even though she escaped the abuse and terror, they continue to haunt her.
When her brother Gideon discovers new evidence of the cult's—and their victims'—whereabouts, Mercy goes to Sacramento to reconnect with him. There, she meets Gideon's closest friend—homicide detective Rafe Sokolov. From Rafe, she receives an offer she never knew she needed: to track down Ephraim and make him pay for everything.
But Ephraim, who had thought Mercy long dead, discovers she is in fact alive and that she is digging around for the cult's secrets. And now he'll do anything to take her back to Eden—dead or alive.


 

Excerpt

Amos Terrill rubbed his thumb over the lines of the script he’d just carved into the lid of the hope chest. He was almost finished with it, this special project on which he’d been laboring for the past five months, mostly in secret. He’d made countless hope chests, coffee tables, kitchen cabinets, armoires, and jewelry boxes over the thirty years he’d lived in Eden. All of them had been gifts for the membership or items to be sold to bring money into the community coffers.

This was the first time he’d ever made something for himself. Something he didn’t intend to share with anyone.

No one except his Abigail. His heart.

A splinter caught at his thumb and he pulled it out, sucking at the small wound before returning to his task. He could sand the hope chest later. He didn’t have much more time to himself. Everyone knew he stopped working at suppertime, and then people would start dropping by.

Amos, can you fix this? Amos, a minute of your time? Amos, need a pair of strong hands to help with… It didn’t matter what. It was all the same after thirty years.

He picked up the detail blade, his favorite of all of his carving tools. He’d brought it with him to Eden, when he was young and full of hope, ready to change the world.

Now he knew the truth and every day had become a struggle, each harder than the day before.

He had to stay positive. Had to keep smiling. Had to stay patient. Had to nod and pleasantly reply that all was well when he was greeted in passing.

In other words, he had to lie.

He finished carving the last word and took a look at his work. It had become something of a trademark, a personal signature he’d added to all the larger pieces of cabinetry he created.

The words were carved in a scrolling, old‑fashioned script: Surely Goodness And Mercy Shall Follow Me All The Days Of My Life. Psalms 23:6. Anyone in the community would think it simply a beautiful Bible verse, one that matched the song that used to be in his heart.

But it wasn’t. It was a tribute. Penance, even. His way of trying to make it up to a beautiful little girl whom he’d failed. So utterly.

Mercy. He thought of her often, especially after the birth of his Abigail, whose name meant father’s joy. As with most things in his life, Abigail’s birth had been bittersweet, losing her mother just minutes after they’d held their baby for the first time.

He’d thought he’d lose them both. Like he’d lost his first family. Mercy. Gideon. Rhoda. Dammit, Rhoda, I’m so sorry. You tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen.

He hadn’t wanted to listen.

But now he knew the truth and he needed to get Abigail out. To safety. To freedom.

He wouldn’t fail her like he’d failed Mercy, Rhoda, and Gideon.

He picked up the hope chest and turned it over effortlessly, a lifetime of woodworking giving him more strength than most men. He began to carve his true signature into the base of the chest, no larger than a dime. A small olive tree with twelve branches. It was exacting, but, at the same time, something he could do with his eyes closed, he’d done it so many times.

“Papa!”

Amos startled, the knife in his hand skipping over the wood, and pain ripped into his finger. “Ugh!” he cried, unable to stifle the sound. “Papa?” Abigail bounded into his workshop, with the same energy with which she tackled everything else in her life. “Tackled” being the operative term. Abigail never walked when she could run, never sat when she could stand. Never whispered. Ever.
His lips curved up into a smile even as he grabbed a clean rag to press to his finger.

“Abi‑girl,” he said with genuine warmth. Abigail was the only one who could summon anything close to happiness for him. She was the only thing that was real and had been for the past six months. Ever since Amos had witnessed Brother Ephraim calmly breaking the necks of Sister Dorcas, her husband, and their sixteen‑year‑old son, three of the dearest people in the world. Amos’s throat burned every time he remembered Brother Ephraim so carelessly tossing their bodies into an unmarked grave.

After which Ephraim had returned to tell the membership that Dorcas and her family had chosen to return to the world after the untimely death of their dear Miriam.

Miriam, who’d walked around with shadows in her eyes. Who, the last time Amos had seen her, had been bruised and bloody and begging to die.

Sister Dorcas had begged Amos for his help. Please help us get her out of here. Please.

Amos had done his best, or he’d thought so at the time, working through the night to fashion a hope chest similar to the one he was now building for Abigail. It wasn’t ornate and hadn’t had a false bottom, but it had been large enough that Miriam had been able to hide inside. Her father and brother had hoisted the hope chest into the bed of Brother DJ’s truck when no one was around to see their muscles strain under the added weight. Miriam was supposed to have climbed from the back of the truck and run for freedom the moment that Brother DJ had slowed enough to make it possible.
But it had all been for naught. Miriam must have been attacked by an animal because her body had been returned to them, too damaged to be identified. And, as punishment for their part in her escape, Sister Dorcas, Brother Stephen, and their son, Ezra, had been murdered in cold blood.

I failed them, too.

But he would not fail again. He would not fail his Abigail.

Sacramento

Giveaway Alert

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

Sunday Spotlight: August 2020

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 Karen Rose

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published more than fifteen novels and two novellas. Her twenty-second novel, SAY YOU'RE SORRY, will be released in 2019.

Karen's books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London's Sunday Times, and Germany's der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa(#1) and Australia!
​​
Her novels, I'M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America's RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, two dogs, and a cat.


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