Genre: Romantic Suspense

Guest Review: Be a Good Girl by Tess Diamond

Posted October 5, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Be a Good Girl by Tess DiamondReviewer: Jen
Be A Good Girl (FBI, #3) by Tess Diamond
Series: FBI #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
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Goodreads
two-half-stars

In Tess Diamond’s third romantic thriller, an FBI agent teams up with the one woman who can offer the salvation he needs as they search for a serial killer . . .

As the head of an elite FBI unit, Special Agent Paul Harrison seems to have everything figured out, but beneath the surface, an internal war is raging. When he returns to his rural hometown for the first time in a few years, he’s faced with the memories that led to his losing the love of his life.

Fifteen years ago, Abigail Winthrop’s best friend, and Paul’s girlfriend, was murdered by the infamous serial killer Doctor X. Now an investigative journalist, she’s determined to find the truth. But when Abigail discovers evidence that clears Doctor X, she realizes the real killer is still out there and is striking again when local young girls begin disappearing.

Turning to Paul for help, Abigail joins forces with him. As an undeniable attraction develops between them, they must heal deep wounds from their past—and find a relentless psychopath who could extinguish their hopes for a future together.

It’s always hard to write a review for a book that just didn’t grab your attention–this is one of those books!

This book doesn’t exactly break new ground, with the hero and heroine coming back together to investigate their teenage friend’s murder and some new similar murders. Abby is an investigative reporter and Paul is an FBI agent, which sounds like a recipe for a book I would like. And it’s true that there were a few thrills, especially in the flashback scenes and some of the intense scenes of present suspense. Abby is fairly smart and dogged in her investigation and her belief that something wasn’t quite right with the old investigation.

The rest of the book is pretty forgettable, however. Paul gets virtually no character development in this book, though apparently, he has appeared in earlier books in the series. Without reading those, though, I didn’t really understand much about him beyond that he’s suffering from PTSD. Most importantly, there isn’t much romance in the book. I just didn’t feel a connection between Abby and Paul. For instance, Paul thinks about his mental health issues but there are no conversations with Abby about it. They don’t talk about much beyond the case or their past history. They’ve each been living separate lives for a long time, but there’s no real catching up. Shared history and trauma is not enough to build a relationship, and I couldn’t buy it.

I was interested enough to keep reading and not put the book down, but not interested enough to muster up much enthusiasm for it when it was over. Perhaps earlier books in the series would be a better introduction, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading Be a Good Girl if you’re not already invested in this world.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

FBI

two-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Cry No More by Linda Howard

Posted October 4, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 8 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Cry No More by Linda HowardReviewer: Casee
Cry No More by Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: April 27, 2004
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 392
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Goodreads
five-stars

Fueled by an obsession to fill the void in other people’s lives, Milla Edge finds lost children—all the while trying to outrun the brutal emotions stemming from a tragedy in her past. Traveling to a small village in Mexico on a reliable tip, Milla begins to uncover the dire fate of countless children who have disappeared in the labyrinth of a sinister baby-smuggling ring. The key to nailing down the organization may rest with an elusive one-eyed man. As Milla’s search for him intensifies, the mission becomes more treacherous. For the ring is part of something far larger and more dangerous, reaching the highest echelons of power. Racing into peril, Milla suddenly finds herself the hunted—in the crosshairs of an invisible, lethal assassin who aims to silence her permanently.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on October 2, 2009.

When I first read this book, it was only a year or so after I first discovered Linda Howard. After the Night, Shades of Twilight, Son of the Morning; I loved them. I wanted Gray, Web, and Niall to be real b/c I wanted to marry them. Going from that to Cry No More is not an easy transition. In fact, it’s kind of like the lights going on after you spent two hours in complete darkness. Now it’s clear that Linda Howard evolved as a writer. At RWA a few years back, a friend and I were in LH’s line. My friend had brought her hardcover of Cry No More. LH laughed and said that she didn’t think anyone would be bringing that book to sign. I was silently thinking the same thing. Now I wish I had brought my copy.

This book is the journey of Milla Edge. When her infant son is ripped out of her arms in Mexico, Milla almost dies trying to get him back. Her quest for answers and her relentless search for her son destroyed her marriage. She became a different person after Justin was kidnapped. Going through something that no mother wants to imagine made Milla harder. If she never would have lost her son, the core of her personality would have been the same, but she wouldn’t have gotten the edginess she has now.

After ten years pass, Milla starts losing hope but still won’t give up. When she finally gets a lead, she ruthlessly follows it even knowing that it could lead to her death. Diaz is a name that is whispered throughout Mexico. He’s thought to be an assassin. Milla doesn’t care who he is if he can help her find Justin. And that’s exactly what he does.

This book was an emotional roller coaster. There is little to no humor. The whole thing is very raw. Linda Howard did such an amazing job of writing Milla that I felt that I was Milla. I felt her anguish. I felt her heartache and her regret. I also felt her hope and despair. The whole thing was just very powerful.

Milla’s only goal is to find Justin, however that is not all she finds. Together, she and Diaz uncover an adoption smuggling ring and an organ smuggling ring. The path they travel will lead them to Justin, but it will also lead them somewhere that they weren’t prepared to go.

There is romance between Milla and Diaz, but it took a backseat to telling Milla’s story. Even then, it was still powerful stuff. Pure LH.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

five-stars


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Guest Review: Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted October 4, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Hidden by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Jen
Hidden (Deep Ops, #1) by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Deep Ops #1
Also in this series: Hidden (Deep Ops, #1)
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

Hide. That’s all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she’s off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .

Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he’s been set up . . .

Fight. Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa’s fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

Pippa lives essentially in the middle of nowhere, secluded except for the sexy new guy who moved into the only nearby house. Malcolm is also running from his life as an undercover cop and the demons of his past. It turns out someone wants Malcolm for a new operation, though, and Pippa is his target. She might be involved with a terrorist plot, and while Malcolm just can’t believe she’s a terrorist, he knows she’s lying and hiding something. Malcolm has to learn to work with his new team and get the info they need about Pippa, although that gets increasingly difficult as he gets to know her. Neither Malcolm nor Pippa can trust the other, but if they don’t they may not be able to stop an attack.

I loved this book. Pippa and Malcolm were richly drawn and interesting characters, both with their own baggage and their own hopes. Both of them were so damaged by their past, though both have channeled that in different directions. Pippa was traumatized by her childhood, experiencing panic attacks and terrible nightmares and largely cloistering herself in her house out of fear. In many ways, though, she’s better off than Malcolm–she is in (online) therapy, has a fulfilling job that doesn’t require her to leave her house, and isn’t self-medicating with alcohol like Malcolm. Malcolm has been working undercover for years, and the stress of being so deep undercover for so long has taken its toll on him. He’s got some serious PTSD and some unhealthy coping mechanisms, and it was tough to read about at first. The way Pippa sees Malcolm’s pain and wants to offer comfort was just lovely, and Malcolm realizes he wants to do the same for her.

There was a bit of a different tone from many of Zanetti’s other books. Malcolm is still WAY alpha, but he demonstrates a deep awareness of how he might appear threatening to Pippa, and he goes out of his way to avoid that not for self-serving reasons but because he doesn’t want to contribute to her fear. There’s also a lot more consent talk than Zanetti’s books usually feature. Of course, he still is bossy and gets off on dominating her in bed, but I honestly appreciated that Malcolm isn’t as much of a cave man as Zanetti’s usual heroes. (The book was still way sexy too.) I hope she continues that trend.

By far my favorite part of the book is Malcolm’s new team of “Homeland Defense Department” agents. They are all misfits and outcasts, people with secrets in their past that got them sent to the middle of nowhere to handle the cases no one else thinks are important. They start to develop friendships in this book, and it’s clear they will become a tight knit and top notch team. Each and every one of them is fantastic, especially the dog Roscoe who provides a ton of comic relief. I CANNOT wait to read about all of them in future books.

This book did have a few inconsistencies, like how Pippa warmed to Malcolm and started falling for him so quickly. I also would have liked Pippa to find out the truth about Malcolm a little earlier. She does find out early enough to resolve some conflict and have a role in stopping the attack, but I would have preferred just a little more time for her to come to terms with Malcolm’s lies.

These are pretty minor quibbles, though. Mainly I just had a great time reading this book, and I am beyond excited to see it continue.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Deep Ops

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Tempted by Love by Jennifer Ryan

Posted October 3, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Tempted by Love by Jennifer RyanReviewer: Jen
Tempted by Love (Montana Heat, #3) by Jennifer Ryan
Series: Montana Heat #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
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Goodreads
three-stars

She was this Montana Man’s greatest temptation . . .

Alina Cooke—little sister of his two best friends—is the last woman DEA agent Jay Bennett should be waking up next to on the day of her brother’s wedding. But their powerful attraction ignited a powder keg of desire, and their once simple friendship has just become impossibly complicated.

Alina’s always been steady, focused, and lived on the safe side of life. Jay is totally devoted to his dangerous job. She knows a future with him will be filled with worry that one day he won’t come home. She’s done it with her brothers. She’s not sure she can face that uncertainty with the man she loves. Yet being in his arms is a bad idea they keep repeating, again and again.

When Alina is run off the road, Jay fears his job has made her a target. But the threat in Alina’s life is closer than they think. As the enemy gets more ruthless, Alina proves she’s no easy target and Jay will do anything to bring them down. Because surviving and being together is the only thing that matters.

Alina Cooke is the sister of the previous heroes of the series. She’s a pharmacist, not involved in the scary, larger-than-life world of her DEA agent brothers. When she and DEA agent Jay Bennett have a drunken hook up at a wedding, Alina is pretty sure Jay and his dangerous lifestyle is not what she needs. But soon there is danger surrounding Alina too, and she and Jay have to figure out why, as well as whether they both can handle all that comes with letting another person into your heart.

I have sort of mixed feelings about this series, and this book was no exception. On the one hand, there is a lot of action. With some small exceptions in this book, no one acts too stupid or reckless. The love between Alina and Jay was so, so sweet, and while I am sure it will come across as overly saccharine to some, I enjoyed the dynamic of their relationship for the most part. I also really liked seeing Jay doing his job and interacting with his colleagues. They have good camaraderie and it was fun to read. I thought the plot was interesting, and while there is no mystery the action keeps things exciting.

The relationship between Alina and Jay does move VERY fast, however. I perhaps could have gotten over that if they had been closer before, but the book makes it very clear that while they’ve known each other a while they’ve never really talked much or had much to do with each other. So for them to go from “getting to know you” to “this feels life-changing” in mere moments seemed excessive. Couple that with a lot of overwrought descriptions of how wonderful the other person makes them feel and how momentous their interactions were in every second together and it got a bit ridiculous. In addition, there wasn’t much keeping them apart other than their own hang-ups. They easily could have gotten together forever after only a fraction of the book, but of course, there was still 10 lbs of plot to resolve at that point. There was also no reason, other than to draw out the story, that Alina and Jay wouldn’t have figured out the villain’s plan earlier. There were many clues and suspicious happenings, and each time they are brushed away with barely a thought. Alina is brilliant and Jay is a hyper-suspicious DEA agent–there is no way all these mounting clues would have escaped at least their notice. It was contrived.

I liked these characters and I’m pretty interested in the larger story arcs that were continued in this book. Even if this series isn’t my favorite, I plan to read the next book.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Montana Heat

three-stars


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Blog Tour Review: Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose

Posted October 1, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Blog Tour Review: Monster in the Closet by Karen RoseReviewer: Casee
Monster in the Closet (Baltimore, #5) by Karen Rose
Narrator: Marguerite Gavin
Series: Baltimore #5
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 498
Length: 15 hours, 25 minutes
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Goodreads
four-stars

Monster in the Closet reunites readers with characters from Karen Rose's bestselling Baltimore series.

A mother is dead, and now her killer hunts the child that witnessed the brutal crime...

Private Investigator Clay Maynard locates missing children for clients, but has nearly given up hope of finding his own daughter, cruelly stolen from him by his ex-wife twenty-three years ago.

Equine therapist Taylor Dawson has chosen to intern at Daphne Montgomery-Carter's stables so that she can observe the program's security director - her father, Clay Maynard. Trying to reconcile the wonderful man she's getting to know with the monster her mother always described, Taylor never expects to become the target of a real monster, the man who murdered the mother of the little girls she works with at the stable. Neither does she expect to fall for Ford Elkhart, Daphne's handsome son, who is dealing with his own demons. As family and friends gather for a wedding, Taylor starts to imagine a permanent life in Baltimore.

But not if the real monster gets to her first...

In anticipation of the release of her new book, Death is Not Enough, I am here to remind you why we love Karen Rose! She is my all-time favorite romantic suspense author. There is no one better than she. I loved her from the moment I read Don’t Tell and she has gotten even better since then. In Monster in the Closet, Karen Rose is at the top of her game.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrator was amazing. The inflection in her voice was simply incredible. If I didn’t know that it was only one narrator, I would have thought it was multiple narrators. This one made it so easy to just listen. I’ve listened to a few that have really made my eyes roll. I’m looking forward to listening to this narrator again.

Let me preface this review by saying that we know who the killer is from the beginning. I prefer mysteries where the mystery isn’t a mystery because I am so incredibly awful at guessing who the bad guy is. I literally have to be hit upside the head with it.

The book begins with Jasmine Jarvis finding her mother’s dead body in their apartment. She soon realize that she has walked in on the killer and immediately hides. It was heartbreaking. She is hiding mere feet from her mother’s unrecognizable, beaten dead body while her killer rummages around in the hall closet. Jazzy sees his face and isn’t surprised in the least. She knows that she can never tell who killer her mother or he will come back for her and her sister. So she doesn’t say a word. To anyone.

Taylor Dawson is an equine therapist at a local stable. She is instantly drawn to Jazzy, a girl she can see so much of herself in. It’s clear that she’s terrified and Taylor knows how fear like that feels. She’s determined to help Jazzy in any way she can. When Jazzy speaks to Taylor, everyone is hopeful as they are the first words she has spoken since she was found by her mother’s body. The police have kept quiet about the fact that Jazzy was found at the scene, knowing they have a leak somewhere in their department.

Taylor has her own reason for being in Baltimore. She is there to see if her biological father, Clay Maynard, is the evil man her mother made her believe he was for her entire life. For as long as she can remember, Taylor has lived in fear that someday Clay would come and take her away, even possibly kill her if he ever found her. She’s lived off the grid, changed her name, had bodyguards, and literally had no life to speak of based on what she now knows are lies. It wasn’t until she was on her deathbed that her mother told her the truth. Even then, Taylor wasn’t sure she believed her mother. It wasn’t until she discovered a box with cards and letters from Clay to Taylor going back years that she decided it was time to seek Clay out.

Ford Elkhart is the son of the owner of the stable. He has his own demons, just as Taylor does. Taylor thinks she’s all stealthy, but Ford sees who she truly is the day that he meets her. Her eyes are unique, exactly as Clay’s are. Although he feels drawn to Taylor, Clay has been his friend for years and he would never keep the daughter he has been searching for for twenty three years from him. When Clay sees Taylor for the first time? OMFG. Talk about feels. It was just devastating. They just lost so much time. Clay lost raising his daughter all because his ex-wife was trying to save face with her parents. Taylor lost her dad because her mom was a selfish bitch. It was just so sad.

In the meantime, the killer has learned that Jazzy is talking to Taylor and has decided it is time to eliminate her. What he doesn’t know is how astonishingly hard it will be to get to her. Taylor is now surrounded by people that will protect her. Taylor herself is no shrinking violet. She was raised by a man that taught her to protect herself if she ever found herself face-to-face with her father, whom she thought was a monster. Taylor is pretty amazing. There is one scene in the book where Ford is intimidated by her, which is actually pretty amusing.

I really enjoy the many POV’s in KR’s books. Because her books are so long, it doesn’t detract from the main characters. I felt that the story was told and it was a good one. I love the sense of community there is in Baltimore. I love all the characters and how characters from other cities pop in and out. I just straight love Karen Rose.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Baltimore

four-stars


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