Series: Hearts of the South

Review: Gone From Me by Linda Winfree

Posted January 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Gone From Me by Linda WinfreeReviewer: Holly
Gone From Me (Hearts of the South, #10) by Linda Winfree
Series: Hearts of the South #10
Also in this series: Truth and Consequences, What Mattered Most, His Ordinary Life, Uncovered, Fall Into Me, Memories of Us, Hearts Awakened, Facing It, Hold On To Me

Publication Date: May 10th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 292
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

"Their life was a fairy tale until it all came tumbling down."
"Hearts of the South," Book 10
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Amy Bennett isn t sure when her own Prince Charming went AWOL from their marriage, but she s certain of one thing. She wants him back. She and Rob had it all: law-enforcement careers they loved and each other. Yet somehow he s wound up sleeping on the couch and emotionally beyond her reach.
Rob is trying to put the pieces back together, but battling his own demons while starting over in a small-town sheriff s department is pushing him and his marriage to the breaking point.
His very first missing person s case threatens to end anything but happily ever after for the families involved. Then a young man goes missing too, and the pressure has Rob reaching for the nearest lifeline. The one that s dangling by the barest of threads his wife.
And though Amy s grip is strong, her love may not be enough to keep Rob from slipping away.
"Warning: Contains a husband who s holding too much in, and a wife who ll do anything to get him to let go, even meet him halfway on their last piece of common ground in bed. Also: cop bonding between cops who talk like cops.""

I’ve been waiting years and years for Winfree to start writing again. I was concerned after so many years I wouldn’t enjoy her latest, but that wasn’t the case. I fell into the story right away. I felt like I was visiting old friends.

Amy and Rob got married right out of college. They were madly in love and things were going swimmingly, until they started trying for kids. After years of not being able to conceive the stress finally became too much to bear and they decided to adopt. Only they suffered a one-two blow when their application was denied after Rob was laid off from his job with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. While he was still reeling from that, his father, the person he was closest to in the world aside from Amy, suddenly died.

Months later they’ve moved to Chandler County, Georgia and he’s taken a position on the local police force. Despite their love for one another, their marriage is on the rocks. Rob pulled away from Amy after losing his father, and she didn’t know how to turn to him with her feelings about their lack of success in getting pregnant. When their long-time friend, and Rob’s co-worker, hits on Amy right in front of him, it’s the last straw. Finding their way back to each other isn’t going to be easy, but they know something has to give. Either they fight for their marriage or they give up on it and walk away.

There’s a suspense plot that runs throughout the book, but I felt the focus was on Amy and Rob’s failing marriage. Both have work to do on themselves and on their marriage, and I enjoyed watching them find their way.

I loved reconnecting with old characters and meeting new ones. This felt like coming home and visiting family I’d lost touch with. I’m so glad she’s continuing with this series.

4 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Hold On To Me by Linda Winfree

Posted March 15, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Hold On To Me by Linda WinfreeReviewer: Holly
Hold On To Me by Linda Winfree
Series: Hearts of the South #3
Also in this series: Truth and Consequences, What Mattered Most, His Ordinary Life, Uncovered, Fall Into Me, Memories of Us, Hearts Awakened, Facing It, Gone From Me (Hearts of the South, #10)

Publication Date: December 11th 2007
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Contemporary
Pages: 405
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

She keeps a secret buried in the past. He wants the truth—now. But an unknown killer could destroy their future.
Book Three in the Hearts of the South series.
For FBI profiler Caitlin Falconetti, immersing herself in her job is the only way to quell the memories of a vicious, near-fatal attack and all it cost her, including the only man she ever loved. Better to let him think she simply rejected him, rather than reveal a painful secret that she’s certain would have destroyed his feelings for her.
Investigator Lamar “Tick” Calvert is determined to clean out the corruption-riddled sheriff’s department in his hometown. While he understands Caitlin’s drive to excel at her job, it doesn’t mean he’s happy about the prospect of working with his former lover, the one woman he tried and failed to hold onto.
A rash of unsolved murders brings them together to find the murderer before another woman dies. Daily contact re-ignites the lingering attraction between them, but Caitlin won’t risk opening herself and revealing her secret. She plans to complete the killer’s profile, make an arrest and get out of town for good.
Tick plans to solve this case, too, but now that Caitlin’s back in his life, he also plans to finally dig up the truth about why she left him.
But there’s an added complication—the killer isn’t done, and Caitlin could be the next target.
Warning: Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, light bondage, graphic language, violence.

She keeps a secret buried in the past. He wants the truth—now. But an unknown killer could destroy their future.

This is the third book in Linda Winfree’s Hearts of the South series.

Caitlin and Tick were getting pretty hot and heavy when he was given and undercover assignment and disappeared. While he’s away Caitlin is attacked and almost dies. When he gets back he tries to rekindle things but she pushes him away for reasons of her own. Heartbroken, Tick returns home and begins the process of cleaning out the corrupt sheriff’s department. When Caitlin is called in as the profiler in a serial killer case, they’re forced to work together. Tick doesn’t want to let her go, but Caitlin is determined to keep him at arms-length. Too  bad for her he’s more stubborn than she could ever be.

This is an emotionally compelling tale. The heartbreak and loneliness both characters felt really came through. Caitlin’s reasons for pushing Tick away seem flimsy on the surface, but Winfree did such an excellent job showing her pain and anger it really worked. Caitlin was a great heroine. Strong and independent, yet fully relatable. For his part, Tick was a pretty solid character. He was steady and honest, and his determination to win Caitlin back was wonderful to witness.

The procedural stuff often frustrates me in romantic suspense, but Winfree does her beautifully. Though there were some minor points I could nitpick, the truth is I was wrapped up in the story and barely noticed until it was over.

This is Winfree’s fourth book. Her plots are tighter, her characters more balance and her overall story better than in the previous releases. I’ve noted before that she only seems to get better with each release, and I find that’s absolutely true here.

This is an emotionally wrought tale filled with love, redemption and a good amount of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Facing It by Linda Winfree

Posted January 29, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Facing It by Linda WinfreeReviewer: Holly
Facing It by Linda Winfree
Series: Hearts of the South #8
Also in this series: Truth and Consequences, What Mattered Most, His Ordinary Life, Uncovered, Fall Into Me, Memories of Us, Hearts Awakened, Hold On To Me, Gone From Me (Hearts of the South, #10)

Publication Date: April 7th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 330
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

There are worse things than facing your greatest fear.
A Hearts of the South story.
Mired in a brutal marriage for far too long, Ruthie Chason takes her courage and her children in hand to flee the trap that has become her life. Yet she’s no fool. She knows he’ll come after her once he discovers she possesses criminal evidence that will put him away for good—and seal her deadly fate if he ever catches up with her.
Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Parker offers emotional refuge, a safe place to begin to reclaim her life…if she can let herself trust the strong, quiet cop that far.
Chris surprises himself when he agrees to act as guardian for Ruthie and her children. He does it as a favor, then finds something about her calm strength soothes his battered soul. Now if only he can silence the demons from his past that make him cautious of falling too fast for any woman.
Their need explodes into a heart-stopping night of passion that exposes their deepest vulnerabilities. But just as they begin to explore how healing love can be, violence tracks them down. And backs them into a desperate corner…

I’m a huge fan of Linda Winfree’s Hearts of the South series. Although I’ve had issues with some of her books in the past, she continues on as one of my auto-buy authors. As a matter of fact, I’m currently on a campaign to get Rowena to read this series. Come on Ween, you know you want to…

While I liked aspects of this book, overall I’m afraid it didn’t work for me. I think in this case it really may be a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. The thing is, I was in a marriage similar to Ruthie’s. I got married young and allowed him to pretty much take over my life. It wasn’t a period of time in my life I’m proud of – to have lost so much of myself in another person is, well, embarrassing.

Having said that, it was hard for me to accept Ruthie’s actions and reactions throughout the book. She leaves her husband – who is completely and totally psycho – and runs to her brother Tick for help, taking her kids with her. Tick needs some time to figure out just how dirty her husband is and buys some time by sending her and her kids away with Chris, who’s just heading out of town on vacation.

So, the day after she runs away from her psycho abusive husband Ruthie finds herself living with another man. A man she’s attracted to and totally at ease with? Even worse, a man she allows her children to get close to and become comfortable with. I think this was the clincher for me. As a mother, I couldn’t imagine letting my children get attached to a man I barely know. Not while I’m on the run from my crazy ex and they’re dealing with the trauma of having their lives ripped out from under them. Especially since this man I barely know obviously has issues of his own – one of which makes him jump away from any female touch. Hello, red flag.

Try as I might, I just couldn’t set that aside. Jumping into a relationship with a man who has issues while you’re trying to get away from another man who has issues isn’t a good idea. Doing it when your kids are involved is just plain wrong.

Having said that, I did find it as well done as her other books in terms of the writing, plot and other characters. Chris was a complex man who’d suffered greatly in his past. I thought his issues were dealt with in a believable way. I really appreciate that Winfree tackled a rather tough issue with him. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that I wondered if I’d have as much respect for him after learning what his problems were. The answer? A resounding YES! I adored him.

It was good to see Tick back to acting like the man I knew and loved from his book. I don’t know why, but he really wasn’t himself the last couple of books. Lori (who turned me onto the series) and I have been bitching about very annoyed with his behavior lately. I, for one, am glad to see he’s back to being himself.

I’m kind of curious to see where Winfree takes the series yet. Despite my issues with this book I’ll be buying the next on on release day.

3.5 out of 5

*This review was originally published in 2009. For some reason it disappeared from our database when we switched to our new site.

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Hearts Awakened by Linda Winfree

Posted January 28, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Hearts Awakened by Linda WinfreeReviewer: Holly
Hearts Awakened by Linda Winfree
Series: Hearts of the South #6
Also in this series: Truth and Consequences, What Mattered Most, His Ordinary Life, Uncovered, Fall Into Me, Memories of Us, Facing It, Hold On To Me, Gone From Me (Hearts of the South, #10)

Publication Date: September 2nd 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

It’s not the past that wounds us…it’s the ghosts we hold on to.
Hearts of the South Book 6
A lifetime ago Mark Cook’s pregnant wife vanished, taking everything and leaving an empty, aching hole in his life. Since then, as penance for his failure as a husband and father, he’s refused to allow himself to live. Refused to lay his sleeping heart on the line for any woman.
Enter Tori Calvert, his best friend’s baby sister. Suddenly, against his will—and against his better judgment—that same damaged heart seems determined to reawaken. And Mark’s not sure he can withstand the pain.
When she was a teenager, a vicious attack ripped away Tori’s very essence as a woman. Finally she feels ready to focus her existence on something other than her job as a rape crisis counselor. And to step outside the shelter of her loving, protective family. She trusts Mark more than any man, yet fear holds her back.
Fear that even the healing light of love may not be enough to banish the shadows of the past.

Hearts Awakened is book 6 in Linda Winfree’s Hearts of the South series. I think you really need to read at least the first book in this series before reading this one to understand what’s going on.

I think I may have enjoyed this story more if I’d re-read the earlier books before reading this one. Although it was good, some of my enjoyment was overshadowed by plot holes and issues with the characterizations. I blogged about some of my issues with the story here.

Beyond those issues, however, I found this to be a well-written, emotionally intense story. Tori was a rape victim several books back, and she’s obviously still dealing with the trauma from that. Though she’s trying to move forward and live her life, she still has many issues and insecurities. I think Winfree did an excellent job of showcasing the problems rape victims face, not only immediately after, but as they try to move forward with their lives.

Mark suffered from a tragedy in his past as well. His pregnant wife disappeared years ago and he’s never been able to move on from it. Although he’s attracted to Tori, he knows he can’t give her what she needs. And yet he finds himself drawn to her. When they’re forced to go to a conference together things heat up between them fairly quickly. I’m glad Winfree slowed down after that, instead of rushing into something neither of them was ready for.

I liked Mark, but there were times I thought he needed to get over his martyr complex. He carried around a lot of guilt for something he had no control over, and while I understood, I thought it was played out a bit too much.

I loved him and Tori together, though. They really helped each other heal and it was great to see them lean on each other.

I was surprised at the way Tick (Tori’s extremely protective older brother) handled the situation between Mark and Tori. Maybe it’s just been too long since I read his book, but I didn’t remember him being that much of an asshole. I do like that Winfree continues to show us what’s going on with previous couples, though. Especially since she does it in such an unobtrusive way, meaning it doesn’t detract from the main story at all.

One thing Winfree does really well is emotion. She doesn’t shy away from it for either her men or her women. Seeing the friendship between Mark and Tick was refreshing, because it isn’t often we see true friendship between men.

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you pick up one of her novels. I suggest you start at the beginning, with What Mattered Most. Don’t let the number of books dissuade you. They really are fabulous.

I took some time before reviewing this and even re-read it. The small things about this novel bothered me quite a bit, but I think the way she dealt with the real-life issues Mark and Tori faced in a wonderfully believable way. So I’m going to give this a:

4 out of 5

*This review was originally published in 2009. For some reason it disappeared from our database when we switched to our new site.

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Memories of Us by Linda Winfree

Posted January 27, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Memories of Us by Linda WinfreeReviewer: Holly
Memories of Us by Linda Winfree
Series: Hearts of the South #5
Also in this series: Truth and Consequences, What Mattered Most, His Ordinary Life, Uncovered, Fall Into Me, Hearts Awakened, Facing It, Hold On To Me, Gone From Me (Hearts of the South, #10)

Publication Date: June 10th 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 248
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Beneath the lies is truth—and temptation that neither of them can resist.
Book Five of the Hearts of the South series.
Investigator Celia St. John is hopelessly attracted to the one man she shouldn’t want, district attorney Tom McMillian. Arrogant and completely alpha, McMillian is the type of man she likes—a tough son of a bitch. The problem? He’s her boss, and he’s still hung up on his ex-wife.
Since his marriage to a law enforcement agent failed after the death of his infant son, Tom has avoided emotional involvement with any woman. Despite his attraction to Celia, he refuses to get involved with another cop.
Their no-strings affair quickly becomes a tangled web of intrigue as they investigate an illegal baby adoption ring and more than one murder, one of which points to Tom as a suspect. The more they dig under the lies, the higher the risk, not only to their relationship, but their lives.

Memories of Us is book 5 in Linda Winfree’s Hearts of the South Series. I’ve read all the previous books and enjoyed them for the most part. I feel like I’ve been watching a new author blossom and grow as I follow along with these novels, and I have to say, she gets better with each subsequent release.

I think the thing I love best about this novel is how the main protagonists stick together and support each other, despite issues they both had from the past. I thought Celia was a very believable character. She was tough, but evenly balanced. She had vulnerabilities and fears, and with Tom’s help she was able to face them and then move on.

Tom was wonderful in that he wasn’t at all what I expected him to be from seeing him in the previous novels. I expected a somewhat staid, kind of straight-laced guy, but he was much more than that. I absolutely love that he was the one with the psychic gift. The way he dealt with it was awesome too. So much like a man.

I did have a few issues with his feelings towards his ex-wife and the way they were resolved. I would much rather have seen the author focus on his feelings for his dead son. I felt that had the potential to be much more deep and powerful. I didn’t believe for a second that after years of pining for his ex-wife and feeling guilty for his son’s death he was just magically healed.

Still, I adored Celia and Tom together. The had wonderful sexual chemistry, and I really felt their emotional bond. I love the way they supported each other and stood by each other. It was wonderfully done. I especially loved the way they just accepted each other as they were.

Though I had a few issues, I highly recommend this. It was an excellent read.

4.5 out of 5

*This review was originally published in 2008. For some reason it disappeared from our database when we switched to our new site.

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,