Genre: Romantic Suspense

Review and Giveaway: Hello Again by Brenda Novak

Posted November 13, 2017 by Casee in Giveaways, Reviews | 3 Comments

Review and Giveaway: Hello Again by Brenda NovakReviewer: Casee
Hello Again by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #2
Also in this series: Her Darkest Nightmare
Published by Headline
Publication Date: November 2nd 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
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four-stars

From NYT bestseller Brenda Novak comes the next installment of Dr. Evelyn Talbot and her murderous home for psychopaths in Hello Again.

SHE CAN MAKE SENSE OF A COMPLEX CRIMINAL MIND.Evelyn Talbot, a psychiatrist at a maximum-security prison in Alaska, studies some of the world's worst serial killers. But she’s about to meet her most elusive patient at Hanover House yet: Dr. Lyman Bishop, AKA the Zombie Maker given his fondness for performing ice-pick lobotomies on his victims. A brilliant cancer researcher, Bishop is either the most cunning psychopath Evelyn has ever encountered—or he is wrongly convicted.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CRIMINAL CAN SEE INTO HER OWN?When a new ice-pick fatality occurs, it seems Bishop really was wrongly convicted. Except...Evelyn has a personal connection to the victim and that suggests the killer may be someone from her own past: Jasper Moore, her high school boyfriend who tortured her and left her for dead when she was only sixteen. Jasper also murdered three of her friends—and was never caught. Is he trying to send a message with this copycat crime? The only thing Evelyn knows for sure is that if Jasper is on her trail, she might not be able to escape again . .

It took me a bit to get into the book, but not because it wasn’t good. Once I was into it, I was glad I was on a road trip and it wasn’t my turn to drive because I couldn’t stop reading. Novack really has a way of drawing you in and keeping you on the edge of your seat. The suspense is thrilling in this book, breathtaking even, when you consider the danger that Evelyn finds herself in when the book comes to an end. Evelyn studies psychopaths so she can put away the one that got away. Jasper. The one who tortured and almost killed Evelyn and murdered two of Evelyn’s friends when she was sixteen. Evelyn finds the minds of these criminals fascinating and just wants to find Jaspar so she can stop living in fear; so her parents can stop worrying about her.

It doesn’t help that she doesn’t feel like she can start a life with Amarok who she loves desperately but can’t let herself go completely with. When he leaves to go investigate what he thinks are murders committed by Jaspar, Evelyn gets a taste of what life might be like without him and it’s something that she isn’t happy with. As for Amarok, he’s all in with Evelyn and if it means hunting Jaspar down himself, he is willing to do that. He will even go to the parents who helped him escape.

Meanwhile back home, Evelyn is dealing with the killer dubbed the “Zombie Maker”. Dr. Lyman Bishop was the last person anyone ever expected to be the Zombie Maker but they found the panties of the victims in his house. Evelyn isn’t sure of his guilt. At first. Then she sees the killer behind that facade he presents to the world and she knows he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be. Too bad it comes to light that the police planted evidence in the case and Lyman Bishop is about to be released. Evelyn is in a race against the clock to get Bishop’s sister out of his care, something that he has sworn he will retaliate against her for if she’s successful at. Evelyn isn’t someone that will give up and leaving someone to be victimized is unheard of for her.

I really enjoyed this book. Even enjoyed it more than Her Darkest Nightmare. It was more than just a criminal getting even with Evelyn because she was his doctor. It was matching wits against wits. Evelyn doesn’t apologize to anyone for who she is. When Amarok’s old flame comes into town and they come face to face, Evelyn holds her ground and it is divine. I didn’t care for the woman and how she came onto Amarok at all. I actually lost a bit of respect for Amarok during the exchange. Evelyn is a kick ass heroine, a survivor. And she will have plenty to survive during the next book because Jaspar is back.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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four-stars


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Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda Novak

Posted November 8, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda NovakReviewer: Casee
The Perfect Murder (The Last Stand, #6) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Last Stand #6
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: September 29th 2009
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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four-stars

For more than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband—a cop—committed both murders, then faked his own death. Now Sebastian has followed the slimmest of leads to Sacramento…and that's where he finally gets the break he needs. Jane Burke, an investigator with The Last Stand, calls him in connection with a separate crime—a crime that could lead him straight to the man he's been looking for.

Once married to a serial killer, Jane has spent the past five years rebuilding her life. And with Sebastian she finally has a chance at happiness. But the man they're after is after them, too. For him this has become a personal battle, one he's determined to win. Whatever it takes…

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: It’s interesting to me that 8-10 years down the road we’re still reading the same authors. I love that we’ve been able to go the distance with them. 

This review was originally posted on November 5, 2009.

This is the first book in this series that I wasn’t really looking forward too. The reason is that I was never really interested in the character of Jane Burke. I understand that I’m supposed to be sympathetic to her since she was married to a serial killer, but that was never the case. I never really felt bad for her. I felt bad for the situation she was in. I felt bad that she lost someone she loved. I just never felt bad for her. She made her bed. So I wasn’t very happy when I saw that she was going to be the heroine.

Jane is trying to make a name for herself at The Last Stand. With the help of Skye and Sheridan, Jane wants to help victims like herself. That’s another thing. While I guess she was technically a victim, I never saw her as such. I guess I’m not very sympathetic. When Skye and Ava go to South America on a paying job and Sheridan is out on maternity leave, Jane is in charge of The Last Stand. Hoping to prove herself, Jane takes a job for two teenage girls that have gone missing.

Sebastian Costas has been following Malcolm Turner for over a year. Since Malcolm killed Sebastian’s ex-wife and son then faked his own death, Sebastian has been on his trail. With his funds running low and time running out, Sebastian follows him to Sacramento. He has never been able to convince anyone that Malcolm is alive, but he has never doubted that. When his investigation puts him in Jane’s path, the two end up working together since their cases seem to be related.

Jane is understandably wary of getting involved with any man, let alone a man that has as much baggage as she does. I just wasn’t really feeling the relationship between Jane and Sebastian. I wanted to. By the time they actually met, I was starting to like Jane as a character. I liked Sebastian as well, even though he was obsessed with revenge.

Brenda Novak writes chilling villains. She has definitely proved herself as far as that goes. She is right behind Karen Rose in that respect, something that is pretty hard to do. At the beginning of the book, Malcolm seems to be the person that you would not want to meet in a dark alley. As the book goes on, he loses his steam. He ends up being rather pathetic. That was disappointing b/c Brenda Novak always comes through when it comes to her villains.

This is my least favorite of the series. Even being my least favorite, it was still a good read.

3.75 out of 5.

This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

Other books in the series:

Trust Me Stop Me Watch Me The Perfect Liar The Perfect Murder

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Dying to Please by Linda Howard

Posted October 22, 2017 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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Dying to Please is a one of Linda Howard’s romantic suspense novels that the three of us here love. Cahill and Sarah were such great characters. They really came to life on page. Suspense, action, hot hot hot sex, strip-wrestling, humor and a kickass heroine make this a must read.

Sunday Spotlight: Dying to Please by Linda HowardDying To Please by Linda Howard
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: November 4th 2003
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
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four-half-stars

Alternate-cover edition can be found here

Loyal. Beautiful. Professional. Impeccably organized. Potentially lethal. Sarah Stevens is a woman with many distinct qualities. First and foremost a butler par excellence, skilled at running large households smoothly and efficiently, she is also a trained bodyguard and expert marksman—indispensable to her elderly employer, a courtly gentleman whom Sarah has come to respect and love as a father. Then one night she thwarts an attempted burglary, a courageous act that awards Sarah her requisite “fifteen minutes of fame” with the local press. But the exposure is enough to catch the attention of a tortured soul who, unbeknownst to Sarah, will stop at nothing to have her for himself...

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Favorite Passages

Holly: While I love Cahill, Sarah is the best part of this book for me. She’s a female butler and bodyguard. She’s self-aware, comfortable in her own skin, has a killer sense of humor and is, in general, a total badass. I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up.

“What about marriage, a family?”

“I hope to have those, too, just not yet. And if I never get married, I still enjoy my life and I’m pleased with my career choice. I’m happy with myself, which isn’t a bad thing.”

Sarah was the most self-possessed person he knew, Cahill thought. If she had lost control to that extent, she had been hysterical. She was frightened, and hurting, and he hadn’t so much as touched her hand when he’d gone to see her in the bungalow. No wonder she was hugging herself; someone needed to do it.

They have a great romance. When Cahill wasn’t acting like an idiot and screwing it up, anyway.

“That was good.” His tone was so low it almost rumbled.

“Yes, it was.” Her own tone was a tad . . . breathy. Where had that come from? She had never sounded breathy before in her life.

“Do you want to do it again?”

“We’d better not.”

“Okay,” he said, and kissed her again.

“What time did you get up?”

“Almost seven. I went for a run, ate the bagel, read the paper, twiddled my thumbs.”

“Poor baby.” She picked up her spoon and dug in. “What else did you do?”

“You still weren’t awake, so I had sex with your unconscious body—”

“Did not.”

“Did, too.”

“Okay, so you dozed off and were dreaming. What time did you wake up?”

“Nine-thirty.”

“So who says men have more guts than women?”

He grinned at the challenge in her voice. “No one. Men just tend to do stupid things out of pride. Now that I’ve admitted we’re all idiots, will you have dinner with me tonight?”

“What? Go out with an idiot?”

“Think of the entertainment value.”

“I’ll do my best to keep you entertained. How does that sound?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. What do you have in mind?”

“Well, for starters I thought I’d fuck your brains out. Then, as an encore, I thought I’d fuck your brains out.”

“Just what I like,” she said. “Variety.”

Even though Cahill makes does some boneheaded things, he’s still a great hero. He’s the perfect match for Sarah.

He was suspicious when something seemed perfect, but the way he and Sarah fit together was . . . perfect. Even when they argued, he knew he didn’t intimidate her—hell, he wasn’t certain she could be intimidated. And that was perfect. He didn’t have to handle her with kid gloves. The sex was hot and raunchy: perfect. They made each other laugh: perfect. Maybe it was because she was from a military family, but she seemed to get him in a way no other woman had: perfect. What wasn’t perfect was that she wasn’t with him.

He didn’t want to be “just” anything to her. He wanted to be her center.

via GIPHY

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About the Author

Linda Howard

GOODREADS

Linda Howard is an award-winning author whose novels include the recent New York Times bestsellers Shadow Woman, Up Close and Dangerous, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, as well as the Pocket Books releases Kill and Tell, Now You See Her, All the Queen’s Men, Mr. Perfect, and Open Season. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Say No More by Liliana Hart

Posted October 18, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Say No More by Liliana HartReviewer: Tracy
Say No More by Liliana Hart
Series: Gravediggers Series #3
Also in this series: Gone to Dust
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Sometimes the dead do rise...

Dante Malcolm is a man of refined tastes. He was once a part of Britain's Elite Intelligence Force, but there was a reason he'd never been able to capture Simon Locke, the notorious thief who always seemed to be one step ahead. That's because Dante and Simon were one and the same, until Dante's double life eventually caught up with him and now he belongs to the Gravediggers.

Liv Rothschild is a Detective Inspector with Interpol and is the one responsible for catching MI-6's most notorious agent in his final heist--except the heist killed him. But something has never felt right about his death, and it's haunted her for months. It was too easy, and Dante Malcolm was too smart to go down that way.

Dante might belong to the Gravediggers in body, but his heart and soul will always belong to the next job. The rest of the team doesn't know about his alter ego because he made sure the information went missing from his file. So when the job he's always waited for seems like a possibility, he sneaks out of the country like a thief in the night, only to run into the only woman who's ever been able to match him in wit--and passion--for the job. Except they're standing on opposite sides of the law--and only one of them can walk away with the prize.

Dante was born as Lord Dante Malcolm but when he was recruited into MI6 he was thrilled.  When he had the chance to become an international thief he took that position as well.  He did this with a clear conscience as he would only take things that had already been stolen from someone else.  He’d just take something else for himself while he was doing the job.  Strange, I know. He was then recruited into the Gravediggers and for all intents and purposes he was dead.

Dante hasn’t been thrilled in his time with the Gravediggers.  He is loyal to the other members and would die for them but their boss, Eve Winters, constantly has him doing side jobs that the other members don’t know about.  This story has him going after Russian nuclear missile launch codes in Dubai.  When he gets there he doesn’t expect to run into the woman he was in a relationship with at the time of his death.

Liv works for Interpol, or she did until recently.  She was working with Dante trying to catch the international thief, Simon Locke, and she had no idea that Dante was Simon.  When he died she was devastated by not only his death but the betrayal she felt at finding out that he’d lied to her about Simon Locke.  Liv is in Dubai looking for 10 girls who are in the middle of a sex trafficking ring.  She quit her job at Interpol when they wouldn’t give her authorization to go after the girls.  The last thing she expects is to see her dead ex-boyfriend breaking into the vault that she’s trying to break into.

To say that Liv is mad at Dante’s deception is a bit of an understatement.  To say that when Dante’s fellow Gravediggers are enraged and feeling betrayed when they find out the truth about Dante and his side work for Eve is putting it mildly.  Everyone was pissed at Dante but when the heads cooled they knew they had to work together to get not only the launch codes into the right hands, but also save the 10 little girls.

Another good book in the Gravediggers series.  I liked both Dante and Liv in this story even though Dante was a bit of an ass at times.  He was still charming and good-hearted and I couldn’t help but like him.

Liv had personal reasons for getting into the fight against sex-trafficking.  Her twin sister had been kidnapped when they were six and had never been found.  Liv had lived her life trying to find Elizabeth with no luck.  She wanted to save as many little girls as she possibly could.  She was a good person and frankly at times I thought she was a bit too good for Dante when he was acting the ass, but they ended up fitting nicely.  The romance in this book definitely took a back seat to the launch codes and sex trafficking issues but that was as it should be. This was who Liv and Dante were and how they lived their lives so it was nice to see the relationship grown within the job.

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Going Dark by Monica McCarty

Posted September 14, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Going Dark by Monica McCartyReviewer: Jen
Going Dark by Monica McCarty
Series: The Lost Platoon #1
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-stars

The members of a top secret SEAL Team can't keep their passion under wraps in this thrilling contemporary romantic suspense series from New York Times bestselling author Monica McCarty.

Like Rome's Lost Legion, a SEAL platoon goes on a mission and vanishes without a trace.

After walking into a trap on a covert op in Russia, the men from top secret SEAL Team Nine are presumed dead. Not knowing whom they can trust, and with war hanging in the balance, the survivors must go dark and scatter around the globe.

Marine ecologist Annie Henderson joins her new boyfriend on a trip to the Western Isles of Scotland to protest a hazardous offshore drilling venture. When she realizes that she may be swept up in something far more dangerous than she'd intended, there is only one man she can turn to. . . .

She and the mysterious but sexy dive boat captain haven't exactly gotten off to the best start, but something about his quiet confidence makes her think that he's the kind of man she can depend on. Because he's gruff and guarded, she can tell Dan Warren has secrets. But she could never imagine how high the stakes are for him to keep his cover, even as he risks everything to protect her. . . .

In Going Dark, marine ecologist Annie has come to Scotland to join a protest against a new offshore drilling location. Her boyfriend is the one who recruited her to come and stage a sit-in on the rig, but once they get to Scotland she feels uneasy about his behavior and about his friends. When she discovers what the group is really plotting, she has to put her trust in Dan, the mysterious captain of their chartered boat. Soon, the two are running for their lives from the people Annie has made angry, but the situation threatens to expose Dan’s own secrets, with deadly consequences.

This book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked the action, and I liked the the times when Dan and Annie were trying to plot out strategy. One thing this book does that I’ve not seen much before is attempt to address politics. Annie is an environmental protester and committed to things like civil disobedience. Dan is a conservative ex-SEAL who has little sympathy for protests or what he sees as liberal whining. There’s no overt discussion of politics per se, but the two do debate lots of current issues. It’s not like Dan and Annie spent the whole book arguing, but it was enough to be noticeable.

On the one hand, I kind of admired that McCarty even attempted to address political differences in a romance novel. Often, the people in romances have jobs that clearly relate to politics and current events, but that is almost never acknowledged. You don’t think SEALs would have strong opinions about current events given that they are involved in so many of them? To pretend otherwise seems silly. I guess I appreciated the effort! However, I also found the debates kind of annoying. While I think Annie was a bit more open to nuance in some things than Dan, overall I found both frustratingly stuck in their opinions. I ended up thinking less of both characters. I can see why authors just avoid these topics, because I was annoyed at both Dan and Annie so frequently, and politics was just one more difference I wasn’t convinced they could surmount.

Differences really were my main issue with the book, though. I was convinced that Dan and Annie were in lust, and I was convinced that they made a great pair when the chips were down. I was not, however, convinced that they would make a great pair when they were back to their real lives. As I already discussed, they had really different views politically, but more than that they wanted different things out of life. Even if Dan gets his tangled problems sorted out, is he really going to want to settle down? Would Annie be happy with a spouse who was frequently gone and, more importantly, not excited by any of the things she’s excited by? I just couldn’t see it working long term.

I didn’t have a bad time reading this book, but neither was I captivated.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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