Tag: Romantic Suspense

Review: Count to Ten by Karen Rose

Posted September 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Count to Ten by Karen RoseReviewer: Rowena
Count to Ten by Karen Rose
Series: Romantic Suspense #6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: February 1, 2007
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 564
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In all his years in the Chicago Fire Department, Lieutenant Reed Solliday has never experienced anything like this recent outbreak of house fires - devastating, vicious and in one case, homicidal. He has another problem - his new partner, Detective Mia Mitchell. She's brash, bossy, and taking the case in a direction he never imagined. Mia's instincts tell her the arsonist is making this personal. And as the infernos become more deadly, one look at the victims' tortured faces convinces her and Reed that they must work closer to catch the killer. With each new blaze, the villain ups the ante, setting firetraps for the people Reed and Mia love. The truth is almost too hot to handle: This monster's desire for death and destruction is unquenchable ... and for Mia he's started the countdown to an early grave.

Count to Ten is the sixth book in Karen Rose’s Romantic Suspense series and the first book that I’ve ever read by Rose. I don’t know what I was expecting when I jumped into this book but whatever, I liked this one. This was a book club read and if you guys know anything about my book club, they like happy, happy, joy, joy stories and this weren’t one of them. I didn’t mind the gore and the darkness that surrounded the villain (that we actually see on the page) because I was super wrapped up in the investigation, the romance between the main couple and I was really rooting for the good guys to figure everything out.

This book read like an episode of Law & Order: SVU. The crime is committed, the fire department and the cops are called, the detectives scramble from lead to lead to find the bad guy and all of that is happening at the same time that some characters are dealing with personal issues and falling in love. I thought Karen Rose handled each aspect of the story really well. It was too heavy on one specific thing. The characters were fleshed out, the story was engaging and though it was a bit slow in the beginning when it picked up, it really picked up.

Reed Solliday was an interesting hero, one that I really enjoyed getting to know. He is still grieving his late wife, even though it’s been a few years and his daughter is really going through it. She’s fourteen and is feeling some type of way about constantly living in the shadow of her dead mother. It’s a big thing that is tackled in this book and I thought Rose did a great job of letting the reader feel what the characters were feeling. I loved that Reed wasn’t perfect, that you really go through every day with him and see him grow into his feelings for Mia while figuring out how to reach his daughter and trying to stop a serial killer from taking another life. I loved seeing him struggle with trying to understand his growing daughter, struggle with moving on from his wife, a woman he thought was the love of his life.

Mia Mitchell really grew on me. I didn’t read any of the other books in this series, so I didn’t go into this story knowing the background on what happened with Mia and her partner, Abe but that didn’t really matter because Rose did a good job of making the reader understand what was going on anyway. It took a little bit for me to warm up to Mia’s character but I ended up really loving her. I thought she had a great head on her shoulders, she was strong and brave and she didn’t need anyone to save her, no matter how many times Reed tried. She was also extremely caring of those in her small circle of trust and I really loved seeing her fix the broken parts of her life. She dealt with a lot of things on her own and it took her a while to really come around to the idea of leaning on anyone so when she finally does, I was here for it.

Overall, this story was action-packed and the romance was sweet so I had a good time reading it. I am definitely interested in reading more books in this series and more books from this author. This was a great introduction to Karen Rose’s work and I’m glad that I read it. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Romantic Suspense

four-stars


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Guest Review: Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan

Posted August 28, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Nothing to Fear by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #2
Also in this series: Every Last Breath
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The clock is ticking

Fearsome Gray Box operative Gideon Stone is devoted to his work and his team. He's never given reason to doubt his loyalty...until he's tasked with investigating Willow Harper, a beguiling cryptologist suspected of selling deadly bio-agents on the black market.

He knows she's innocent. He knows she's being framed. And he knows that without him, Willow will be dead before sunrise.

Thrust into the crossfire of an insidious international conspiracy, Gideon will do anything to keep Willow safe...even if that means waging war against his own. With time running out, an unlikely bond pushes limits―and forges loyalties. Every move they make counts. And the real traitor is always watching...

Hands down my favorite new series and author this year has been the Final Hour series by Juno Rushdan. I enjoyed Book 1 a lot, and that trend continued with Book 2 (with one caveat I’ll explain later).

Gideon Stone works with Maddox from Book 1 at the Gray Box, an off-the-books agency of the US Government. In Book 1 we learned that there is a traitor in the organization, and in Book 2 that traitor is ramping up their efforts. The pressure is on to find the traitor as soon as possible, so the inner circle starts investigating suspects. One potential suspect is Willow Harper, the team’s cryptologist. Gideon volunteers to investigate her, mostly because he’s always admired her from afar. He immediately realizes she couldn’t be the traitor, but when it’s clear she’s being set up to take the fall Gideon goes rogue to save her. He has to keep Willow alive and find the real traitor to clear her name.

This book is just as action packed as the first one, and I had a great time reading it. Unlike Maddox, the heroine from Book 1, Willow is not a shoot-em-up operative. Instead, she is a genius with technology. She does need Gideon for physical defense and some strategy–he’s the one who knows how this world works and has the skills to keep them alive. She isn’t weak or stupid, however. She contributes to the chase using her own skills, and she keeps up with Gideon.

The relationship between Gideon and Willow is lovely too. Both truly see and appreciate the other for their own strengths. Gideon sees Willow’s talent and spine of steel and values it, even though she isn’t able to kick ass in the same way he does. One of the problems Gideon had in past relationships was that he couldn’t be honest about his job or what it entails. Because Willow already knows the details, though, he is able to be free with her in a way he has never been before. Even better, Willow isn’t scared away by what he does, though it takes Gideon too long to realize that. He spends way too much time assuming he’s not good enough for her, and he does a lot of flip flopping as he gives in to his need to be with her but then pushes her away. He hurt her every time he did that, even though he thinks he’s helping her. I wanted more consistency from him and for him to acknowledge that Willow knows who he is but loves him anyway.

Now on to a spoiler that I feel is important to mention: Willow is autistic, a fact that is explicitly stated near the beginning of the book. While there is some discussion of her autism, particularly early in the book, it is not a defining characteristic of Willow’s, nor is it a major plot point. There are a few instances where it impacts the story, but for the most part Willow is able to keep up with the action as well as any other civilian suddenly dropped into an action movie would. There’s no fetishizing I could see, either. There is one deeply uncomfortable scene with an ignorant police officer near the beginning of the book. To me it read as a condemnation of the kind of idiotic views people hold about autism, but I don’t know how it would read as someone more familiar with ASD. In general, I am unqualified to pass judgment on how this book handles Willow’s autism, so I can’t say whether this portrayal is appropriate or not. If anyone with more experience in this area reads the book and has a different take, please do comment here!

Aside from the above concerns, I really liked this book. It’s got so much of my catnip–traitor in our midst, a couple on the run, secret government agency, and smart characters who bring out the best in each other. I am hooked on this series!

Grade: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


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Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle

Posted August 9, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: In Her Sights by Katie RuggleReviewer: Jen
In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Five bounty-hunting sistersDeep in the heart of the RockiesFighting to save each other...and the men who steal their hearts

Bounty hunter Molly Pax fought hard for everything she has, turning the bail recovery business she shares with her sisters into an unqualified success. So when their sticky-fingered mother jumps bail and puts the childhood home up as collateral, Molly's horrified. To make matters worse, every two-bit criminal in the Rockies now sees her family's misfortune as their next big break.

She needs help, stat.

Enter rival bounty hunter John Carmondy: six feet of pure trouble, with a cocky grin to match. John's the most cheerfully, annoyingly gorgeous frenemy Molly's ever had the pleasure of defeating...and he may be her only hope of making it out of this mess alive.

Like Stephanie Plum but want her to actually get with, and stick with, a guy? In Her Sights might appeal!

Molly Pax owns a bounty hunter business with her sisters. They have built a life in spite of their truly deadbeat mom who has done nothing but drag them down their entire lives. When their mom gets them into the kind of trouble that could easily ruin everything they’ve worked for, Molly has to turn to rival bounty hunter John Carmondy for help. She and John have to work together, even though they hate each other…don’t they?

I thought this book was a lot of fun. Ruggle does a great job with characters and dialogue that are funny but not ridiculous. The banter between Molly and John is excellent, but my favorite part is probably the relationships between the sisters. Molly is totally devoted to her family, and in fact she’s more of the mother than their actual mother. She will do anything to save her family, and you get the sense that her sisters feel the same. I always love reading about strong families, and this was definitely a good one. 

I really enjoyed the progression of John and Molly’s relationship too. John is a giant teddy bear, contrary to what Molly thinks of him at first. The story is written in third person but is limited to Molly’s perspective, so like Molly we don’t totally know what John is thinking. Unlike Molly, however, as the reader we can immediately see John has a crush on her and she’s the one misinterpreting his actions. On the one hand I wanted him to just tell her upfront how he was feeling, but on the other hand I could understand why you wouldn’t be rushing to confess your attraction to someone who treated you like the enemy. It’s clear Molly is feeling an attraction, too, and once she finally recognizes it they make an adorable couple. 

I always love a good bounty hunter story, and this one fits that trope perfectly. It’s fun to see Molly and her sisters doing their jobs. They’re all smart and tough and capable, and I had a great time getting to know them.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Posted August 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci BurtonReviewer: Holly
The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton
Series: The Killer #1
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 407
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

No one said coming home would be easy. But for Dante Renaldi, it's murder.

Before the Special Forces hero has even unpacked his bags from twelve years of active duty, he's embroiled in murder—corpses bearing the brutal trademark he's seen only once before—on the worst night of his life.

The last time Detective Anna Pallino saw Dante Renaldi, they were in love. Now, he's part of the connection to a string of fresh homicides and a horrible assault that Anna only survived thanks to him.

More than anything, Anna wants to trust Dante. But as the bodies and the coincidences stack up, Anna will have to decide, and fast: Is the man she owes her life to the very same one who wants her dead?

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

Narrator: She was not, in fact, coming out of her romantic suspense funk. It’s still going, some 8 years later…

This review was originally posted on Nov 15, 2011.

It looks like I might be coming out of my romantic suspense funk. I really enjoyed this. It’s a gripping tale filled with twists and turns. I suspected the killer early on but enjoyed watching the rest figure it out.

The main – and secondary – characters were well written. Anna was annoying at times, but then so was Dante. They have a lot of baggage between the two of them. It was hard watching them struggle to get over their past feelings and focus on the present. Especially Anna. She really clung to her hurt and anger over Dante leaving so abruptly.

Aside from that, I found both characters to be well balanced and likable. The trauma they suffered when Anna was attacked followed them through their lives. Burton did a bang up job of showing us how each of them was still dealing with what happened that night. I felt really connected to them, and understood where each of them was at.

The romance was very well done. Anna and Dante had a lot of chemistry, but physical attraction isn’t everything. Their emotional connection was strong despite the long separation. Between the two – the physical and emotional – I was fully invested in them finding their HEA.

I figured out pretty early on who the villain was, but I enjoyed watching the others clue in. I’m really looking forward to the next installment.

Burton balanced the suspense and romance perfectly. Fans of her more erotic romance titles might be disappointed – there isn’t a lot of sex here. Personally I think that worked in the context of the story and didn’t take away from the romance at all.

Overall a well written, chilling suspense flavored with the perfect amount of romance.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Posted July 24, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Tightrope by Amanda QuickReviewer: Jen
Tightrope by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #3
Also in this series: The Other Lady Vanishes (Burning Cove #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 309
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to find a machine that could change the world.

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

This book brings us back to Burning Cove, California, a vacation getaway for the rich and famous in 1930s Hollywood. Amalie Vaughn is a former trapeze artist who left her career under tragic and inauspicious circumstances. She has moved to Burning Cove to start a new life and open a bed and breakfast. When her first guest is unfortunately murdered, she gets tangled up in something nefarious. Matthias Jones is investigating in Burning Cove as well. At first he sticks close to Amalie because he is searching for information, but quickly he starts sticking close to her for more personal reasons. 

I recognize that this series is nothing ground breaking, but for me it is lots of fun. I really enjoy the world Quick has painted, and I enjoy revisiting Burning Cove in each book. This one in particular felt like a good old fashioned mystery. The murdered guest is a self proclaimed inventor of robots, and that added a fun flavor to the intrigue. Similarly, Amalie’s background as a trapeze artist is glamorous and unique, and I loved that she’s able to use some of her past skills to save herself in the end. 

Matthias and Amalie make a nice couple, although Mathias isn’t particularly interesting to me as a character. No one knows quite what he does, though the rumor is that he’s mixed up with criminals. It was all a little silly. I did like that he appreciates Amalie and her abilities, and like the other heroes in the series he respects and values the heroine’s independence. There’s also a whiff of the supernatural in his backstory, though it’s never really identified as such as nothing much comes of it. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a slight callback to Quick’s Arcane Society series or not, but I didn’t really think it added anything to the story.

This series has become a kind of comforting world for me to visit. It never knocks my socks off, but it’s romantic, unique, and interesting, and I like the characters Quick has created.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Burning Cove

three-half-stars


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