Tag: Romantic Suspense

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Midnight Rainbow by Linda Howard

Posted August 29, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 8 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Midnight Rainbow by Linda HowardReviewer: Rowena
Midnight Rainbow (Rescues #1) by Linda Howard
Series: Rescues #1
Also in this series: Heartbreaker
Publisher: Mira Books
Publication Date: February 1, 1986
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
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Grant Sullivan had been one of the government's most effective agents, and he's agreed to rescue Jane Hamilton Greer, a wealthy socialite possibly engaged in espionage. In the time they spent together, questions of guilt and innocence began to fade against the undeniable reality that two people from such different worlds should never have met.

This is the second book that I read for our Summer Reading Challenge and while there were things that I didn’t like in the book, overall I really enjoyed the story.

So retired government agent Grant Sullivan is approached by a really rich guy with a job offer that he can’t exactly refuse. Grant just wants to be left alone so that he can work on his farm and live out the rest of his life in peace but when Jane Hamilton Greer needs to be rescued in Costa Rica, Grant knows that he’s the best person for the job because nobody can move in the jungle the same way that he can. The money from this job will pay off his mortgage and he’ll be set for life so why not?

Jane doesn’t make rescuing her easy. When Grant gets to her, she messes up his plans by attacking him and then trying to run away from him. When their escape plans go wrong, they are in each other’s company for longer than they anticipated and their relationship changes fast. They’re running from the man who kidnapped Jane in the first, the man with all kinds of bad guy connections and their ride off the island doesn’t work out so they’re on their own. Grant is grumpy, Jane feels guilty and emotions run high.

As far as characters go, I really liked Jane. She was smart, she was strong and she wasn’t one of those annoying heroines that spend most of the time in the jungle complaining about how much walking they did. She tried to help Grant with whatever she could help him with and she didn’t try to make things more difficult for the two of them. I really liked the person that she was and at times, I didn’t think Grant deserved her.

There were times when I wanted to kick Grant in his junk because he was so mean but boy did I end up loving the heck out of him in the end. I loved when he went to his Mom in the end and told her that he was getting married. I thought that was adorable.

I will say that a couple of things kept throwing me out of the story. The lack of protection, the lack of communication about protection (they just kept having unprotected sex after unprotected sex without any kind of discussion on anything) and how dated the story was. Also, Jane fell in love way too fast with Grant but despite those minor issues, I still really enjoyed this one. Haha, go figure. I read this one pretty fast and was invested in what was happening so I know that I’ll probably read this one again.

Overall, the story itself was pretty basic. Hero rescues heroine because heroine was taken by the bad guys, the bad guys chase hero and heroine all over Costa Rica, they make it out alive and fall in love but I really did come to love both Grant and Jane. Jane was my kind of heroine and Grant was gruff and tough but he didn’t have any afro puffs. Still, he rocked on with his bad self. This is classic Linda Howard and if you’re a fan of her older romantic suspenses then you’ll enjoy this one. Thanks for the recommendation, Holly & Casee.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Rescues


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Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

Posted August 16, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Desperate Girls (Wolfe Security #1) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.

I have been anxiously awaiting this new romantic suspense series, which is a spin-off from Griffin’s always dependable Tracers books. Instead of focusing on the Delphi Center or the police, we get to dig into Liam Wolfe’s private security firm. Liam was the hero of book 9 in the Tracers series, and while we don’t get to see him much we do get some brief glimpses of him and his profiler brother Mark. You definitely don’t need to have read any of the Tracers books to jump into Desperate Girls, though.

The cover copy for this book is really not an accurate portrayal of the plot, so let me try and summarize things a bit more precisely. (And that title is similarly meaningless. I can only assume the publisher is trying to cash in on the popularity of the “Girl” thrillers, even though this is not that kind of book. It is firmly a romantic suspense.) Brynn Holloran is a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney. When it appears a case from her past has come back to haunt her and the others involved, her boss hires Wolfe Security to handle things. Erik Morgan is the lead for her security detail, and they quickly butt heads. Brynn doesn’t see the need for security and is simply focused on her big upcoming trial, but as the threats escalate she realizes the danger she’s in. Of course, she and Erik have an inconvenient attraction that complicates matters.

Probably my favorite part of the book is Brynn. She is a really, really good defense attorney, and it was fun to read about her legal strategizing. She is excellent at reading people, at seeing patterns and motives, and at telling a story for a jury. I particularly love the way she makes no apologies for her job or her tactics. She admits she’s not above using her looks to sway, impress, or intimidate. There’s a scene where she calls out Erik for his hypocrisy by pointing out his appearance is an important part of his job too, and I gave a silent fist pump at that. She is perhaps a bit ridiculous in her continued insistence that she doesn’t need so much security, but I could overlook that one blindspot.

I really enjoyed Brynn and Erik together, too. We never dig too deep into Erik’s story, which I would have liked, but we do get some time to see Brynn and Erik together. I appreciated that Erik likes her for her strength and her intelligence–he respects her job and how hard she works at it. They have some good physical and emotional chemistry, and I believed they would be a good long-term couple. This is a stereotypically fast-moving romantic suspense relationship, however, so YMMV depending on how you feel about that trope.

We meet some fantastic secondary characters in this book, too. I particularly enjoyed the police detective Lindsey, who seemed brilliant and not afraid to go her own way. I definitely want to hear more about the other Wolfe Security team members as well.

In my opinion, this is a solid start to this spin-off. This book was a bit more suspense and less police/forensic procedural than the Tracers series, but I appreciated the different vibe.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Surviving Girls by Katee Robert

Posted July 26, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 5 Comments

Guest Review: The Surviving Girls by Katee RobertReviewer: Jen
The Surviving Girls (Hidden Sins, #3) by Katee Robert
Series: Hidden Sins #3
Also in this series: The Devil's Daughter
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 282
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four-stars

A fierce survivor and a fearless FBI agent battle a copycat serial killer in a gripping thriller from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert.

Twelve years ago, Lei Zhang and her friend Emma Nilsson miraculously lived through the notorious Sorority Row Murders that left twenty-one of their sisters dead. Still wrestling with the trauma but finally out of the limelight, Lei and Emma are now devoted to helping other victims find closure. But most disturbing for Lei—beyond the gut-wrenching survivor guilt—is that the killer was her boyfriend. He’s behind bars, but she’ll never lower her guard again.

When a copycat killer targets Lei and Emma, FBI Agent Dante Young is put in charge of anticipating the sociopath’s every move. But what he doesn’t expect is his immediate and overpowering attraction to Lei. The closer they get to each other, the more desperate and terrifying the questions become: Who wants to finish what the killer started—and why?

Now Agent Young vows to protect Lei at all costs. If they have any chance of a future together, first they have to stay alive…

I can’t even tell you how long I had this book sitting on my phone unread. I probably started it 5 times, read a few pages, and put it down because I just didn’t have the stomach for it. It’s a dark book, and it was just too intense for me to handle at times. (Trigger warnings for graphic violence, gore, and some mentions of rape.) Once I was in the right mood, though, I finally dove in and enjoyed it.

This book focuses on two girls who survived a horrific massacre at their college sorority house. Lei Zhang and Emma Nilsson had their own reactions to the trauma they endured. While Emma has developed a pretty severe panic disorder and various other mental health challenges in response to her fear, Lei’s response to fear is to fight harder and push farther. That’s not to say Lei’s not deeply affected too, because she clearly is, but she just channels things differently. When a new killer surfaces who bears a resemblance to the man that terrorized them years ago, the FBI and Agent Dante Young get involved. Dante and Lei have a somewhat inconvenient attraction to each other, but they have to put it aside while they figure out who seems to be hunting the women again.

As you can imagine, this book is chock full of trauma. Lei and Emma are, of course, profoundly affected by what happened to them, and it is very painful to read about. They have all kinds of coping strategies, some healthy and some not-so-healthy, that have gotten them through.  It’s hard enough at the beginning when their fears seem understandable but perhaps hyperbolic, but it gets downright horrifying as the book progresses and you learn how much danger they’re actually in. For me, this book was creepy and shocking, and it was only when I was in the right mood for those things that I could enjoy it. The plot twists do get a little overblown toward the end, but by that point I was in deep enough to buy in!

Lei and Emma are not pushovers. Lei is the obvious fighter and battles her fear with a sheen of anger, but Emma has more strength to her than others give her credit for. In particular, I loved seeing the women support each other. They did perhaps use each other as a crutch too often, but who the hell could blame them? They never wavered in their love for each other and their desire to keep the other one safe. I really liked that aspect of the book.

I also really liked Dante and Lei together. Dante is calm, cool, and collected, which is a real balm for Lei. He doesn’t have a magic cure for her, though. There is an excellent scene near the beginning where Dante says something kind of paternalistic and Lei rightfully puts him into his place. I was 1000% there for it. Even better, Dante realizes that while he didn’t intend it that way, he was absolutely playing savior and not respecting the hard work Lei did, and still does, to handle her own trauma. That moment sold me on Dante and Lei together!

Unfortunately, while there is a lot of awesome chemistry, there is no sex in this book. I know, I know…that’s normally a problem for me too, but honestly I don’t see any way sex would have worked in this book. The original sorority massacre happened twelve years ago and Lei has had relationships with other men in the interim, so that’s not the issue. But there is just too much genuine danger in this book, and too much horror that keeps being dredged up. Sex would just have been out of place. Things never get farther than some very sexy making out, and for a change I was ok with that.

When did I learn this was in the same series as another Robert book I liked, The Devil’s Daughter? Literally right as I was typing this sentence and I looked up the book on Goodreads! My point is, while it’s a series clearly there is no harm in reading them out of order, because I haven’t read Book 2 and had no clue it even existed. I am really liking Robert’s voice in this series, and I will certainly be backtracking to read the book I missed.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Hidden Sins

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

Posted May 29, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda QuickReviewer: Jen
The Other Lady Vanishes (Burning Cove #2) by Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Burning Cove #2
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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four-stars

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California--where the most dazzling of illusions can't hide the darkest secrets...

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they'll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they'll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be--and uncover the specter of a killer who's been real all along...

The Other Lady Vanishes continues the Burning Cove series, which is set in a California resort town for the 1930s Hollywood crowd. This time our heroine is Adelaide Blake. Adelaide is a tearoom waitress (and sort of amateur herbalist) who escaped from a sanitarium after being wrongly locked away. She’s struggling to build some sort of life for herself in Burning Cove, even while she’s worried someone will come after her and try to drag her back. Jake Truett is a visitor to town, ostensibly to “rest his nerves” on the orders of his doctor. He becomes a regular tearoom visitor, and when the opportunity presents itself, he jumps at the chance to go on a date with Adelaide. Their date doesn’t quite go as planned, however, and they get sucked into a grisly murder. Clues keep adding up suggesting that Adelaide’s past is not as far behind her as she had hoped, and Jake’s true reasons for coming to town may be related as well. They have to work to investigate the increasing crimes and stay alive while doing so.

I really enjoyed the twisty, turny mystery of this book. There are a lot of players double crossing each other and trying to advance their own hidden agendas, and it’s fun to see Adelaide, Jake , and their friends untangle the threads. (We hear more about Luther Pell, the mysterious nightclub owner we met in Book 1. I am so intrigued!) This book has a bit of a gothic feel to it, despite being set in the 1930s, mostly because of the sanitarium. Rushbrook is a creepy building where horrible things take place, and it is absolutely terrifying to think of Adelaide being forcibly locked up there with no seeming way out. There’s also a drug involved that can trap people in their nightmares, and that adds a very macabre touch, too. It was a bit of a stretch like many mysteries since there were so many coincidences and tidy solutions, but I was hooked.

I liked Adelaide, even if it did take her a little while to come into her own. At the start, she is understandably doubting herself. She knows she wasn’t ill…and yet she spent months being told she was and being dosed with a hallucinogenic drug. Of course, that would plant a seed of doubt in someone’s mind. More than that, though, she is afraid that other people will think she’s mentally ill. I thought her caution and reticence to get involved with Jake at first made sense, and I really appreciated that she doesn’t drag out her standoffishness forever. Jake is an ok character, but we never really learn that much about him. He has a backstory with a dead wife and some far-fetched involvement with international intrigue, but we only get a vague sense of him as a person. I liked him with Adelaide, but theirs is not a particularly well-developed, character-driven romance. Their dialogue can also be a bit stilted at times.

I did want to mention a big old trigger warning for discussions of mental illness and, to a lesser extent, rape in this book. Mental illness in particular is a thread that comes up in several different ways throughout the book, and it’s not always handled with a modern sensibility by these 1930s characters. To my mind, nothing was egregiously offensive, but characters in the book do things like call the residents of the sanitarium “poor wretches” and “crazy,” and generally residents are used as part of the creepy scenery rather than human characters in their own right. Better was the discussion of Jake’s wife and her own mental health issues, which I thought was treated with more respect. In other words, it’s not all bad, but YMMV.

I liked the mystery of this book better than the mystery of Book 1, but I didn’t quite love the characters as much. Still, this is a good read if you enjoy a good old-fashioned mystery with a little romance mixed in.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Burning Cove

four-stars


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Review: Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh

Posted May 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Hour of Need by Melinda LeighReviewer: Holly
Hour of Need (Scarlet Falls, #1) by Melinda Leigh
Series: Scarlet Falls #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 338
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two-half-stars

While fighting in Afghanistan, Major Grant Barrett receives devastating news: his brother and sister-in-law have been murdered in Scarlet Falls, the sleepy suburb of Grant’s youth. Emotionally scarred from war, the career soldier returns home on emergency leave to temporarily care for his orphaned nephew and niece. But when someone tries to kidnap the kids and their teenage babysitter, Grant knows it’s not a random act…and neither were the murders.

Already devastated by her neighbors’ violent deaths, Ellie Ross is shattered by the attempted abduction of her teenage daughter so she desperately turns to Grant for help. As they navigate a deadly search for the truth, they struggle with growing feelings for each other and Grant’s impending return to deployment.

But time is running out. The killer is growing bolder by the hour, and Ellie and Grant must find him before the children become his next victims.

I really struggle with Romantic Suspense. The characters often do things that make no sense to me, or the mystery is so easy to figure out I end up being really bored. Though I do enjoy mysteries and suspense in audio. I haven’t read Melinda Leigh before, but she had good reviews so I figured I’d give her a try. The blurb does a good job of outlining the plot, so I don’t feel the need to recap.

I enjoyed the narrator, but I spent most of the book irritated at the way the characters acted. The heroine made silly choices that put herself and her family in danger. The hero supported her in those choices when it made no sense, and often rushed into danger himself without thought.

As a romance, this was cute. He had to come home on emergency leave to care for his niece and nephew when his brother and sister-in-law were murdered. Seeing this confirmed bachelor soldier deal with a colicky infant and heartbroken kindergartner was sweet and endearing. His budding relationship with the next door neighbor was sweet, too. I liked the two of them together and the way their families blended.

As a suspense novel it didn’t work for me, but as a romance it was sweet. There’s a good chance others will enjoy the suspense more.

2.75-3.0 out of 5

Scarlet Falls

two-half-stars


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