Tag: Romantic Suspense

Guest Review: Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout

Posted March 31, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Till Death by Jennifer ArmentroutTill Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by William Morrow
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
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four-stars


In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.
First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.
But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

In college, Sasha had been the only surviving victim of The Groom, a serial killer who preyed on young women in the town. The memories were too much for her, so she moved away and cut off ties with everyone except her mom and best friend. One of those she left behind was her boyfriend, Cole. She never saw him again after the night of her attack, but she never quite forgot him. She finally decides to move back home again to help her mom run the family B&B, and once Cole realizes she’s back in town he shows up, because it turns out Cole never forgot her either. Soon, frightening things start happening to Sasha, and more girls start disappearing. Sasha has to overcome her fear and help Cole (an FBI agent) figure out what is going on.

This is my first Jennifer Armentrout book, and I enjoyed it. I liked the way Sasha was portrayed. She was tortured by The Groom and is understandably traumatized. I thought her level of fear and her emotional challenges were perfectly appropriate, but she also is determined and has worked hard in therapy and on her own to cope with what happened to her. I appreciated that Cole is understanding and patient, too. He doesn’t push her into anything she doesn’t want. He just wants to be around her, if she’ll have him. He carries a lot of guilt over the past, as he was the last one to see Sasha before she was abducted. It’s clear that the guilt shaped his whole life, and it shows you he’s truly a good guy.

The story is told from Sasha’s point of view only, which is not my favorite. While I liked Cole, it was hard to connect to him when we didn’t get to hear his side. He obviously cares for Sasha a great deal, but I think some of the emotional punch gets lost because we don’t know how HE felt about the danger swirling around Sasha. The other weak point of the book is that the mystery is a little contrived. The killer is fairly easy to identify, and there were just a lot of coincidences and convenient plot points. It’s not a bad mystery, just not particularly unique.

I would have liked a little more focus on the romance, but I enjoyed this one more than I thought I might. 

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia Eden

Posted March 29, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
After the Dark (Killer Instinct, #1) by Cynthia Eden
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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four-stars

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden's gripping new series, a disgraced FBI profiler must save her reputation by stopping a sadistic killer she knows all too well. 

Former FBI agent Samantha Dark was one of the most respected profilers in the bureau, an expert on the twisted minds and dark hearts of the most depraved criminals. But when her own former lover turned out to be the serial killer she was hunting, Samantha's career was destroyed. Blamed for the FBI's failure on the complex case, Samantha fled Washington, DC, for the quiet anonymity of Alabama. 
Now an all-too-familiar killer is hunting once again. She can catch the sadistic assassin, but that means putting her trust in her former partner, Blake Gamble. Ex-military, Blake is tough, protective, precise. With her entire life on the brink, she knows he wants her back in the FBI…and possibly more. 
But someone else wants her, too. A threat is waiting in the dark, a killer who has set his sights on the ultimate trophy victim—Samantha.

Cynthia Eden has become a pretty reliable author for me. Her books never totally blow me away, but they’re always  very solid, enjoyable reads, and After the Dark was no exception.

Samantha Dark was a genius criminal profiler with the FBI, but she left the Bureau in disgrace after her former boyfriend turned out to be a serial killer. She hides away in a small town in Alabama until her old partner, Blake, comes calling looking for help with a case. Blake had the hots for Samantha from the start, but obviously being partners complicated that attraction, and he never acted on it. Now, he wants her back, both in the FBI and in his own life, but Samantha doesn’t trust herself and certainly doesn’t think she’s good enough for a decent man like Blake. However, she’s the only one who can stop the killer who’s become fixated on her.

I really liked the premise of this book. The idea that a profiler could miss that her own friend was a serial killer was very compelling. Plus, Cameron wasn’t just Samantha’s friend but her past lover and confidant with whom she had shared her deepest, darkest secrets. While it’s not really addressed in the book, it seemed to me that Cameron had probably been emotionally manipulating her for years. He convinced her that there was this darkness in her that only he understood, and even after she’s left the Bureau she still holds on to this idea that she’s got some kind of not-entirely-good core. Couple that with her disgraceful exit from the FBI and it made sense why she would be so reluctant to help Blake and to get personally involved with him. It was a unique twist on a serial killer story I haven’t seen before. I also liked that the case wasn’t quite as simple as it first appeared. There were some big twists and turns, and they made for a fast paced and exciting story.

Blake was kind of a mixed character for me. He was one of Eden’s trademark alphas, bossy and in charge. He is the one who comes to Samantha for help, but then he also tries to edge her out when things get dangerous. That was stupid and unnecessary, I thought. Still, his genuine care for Samantha is clear. He stands up to his boss when his boss doubts her, and he isn’t afraid to go after Samantha once he’s found her again. He insists he too has a “darkness” in him, but I didn’t really feel like that went anywhere. To be honest, this story is more about Samantha and her struggle to overcome her past and her self doubt, which was fine by me.

This was an engaging story with a fascinating heroine, and I’m glad I read it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars

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Review: Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy

Posted March 28, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Midnight Captive by Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Midnight Captive by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #6
Also in this series: Midnight Revenge, Midnight Rescue, Midnight Alias, Midnight Games, Midnight Pursuits, Midnight Action, Midnight Revenge, Midnight Target, Midnight Target
Published by Signet
Publication Date: June 2nd 2015
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

“For those who enjoy their romantic suspense on the dark and steamy side,”* here’s the blisteringly sexy new novel in the Killer Instincts series by the author of Midnight Action and Midnight Pursuits...
Former CIA agent Bailey Jones has spent months trying to forget her night of passion with mercenary Sean Reilly. An elite and methodical assassin, she has no room in her life for a reckless, rule-breaking Irishman, and she’s vowed to steer clear of the tempting bad boy who lured her into his bed under false pretenses.
When Sean is implicated in the robbery of a Dublin bank, Bailey knows something isn’t right. So what if she can’t trust him? There’s no way Sean would end up on the wrong side of the law. In fact, he’s stuck in the middle of a dark and dirty conspiracy that could put his twin brother’s life at risk with one wrong move. And Bailey’s life too when she agrees to help.
As the stakes are raised and Bailey finds herself torn between two brothers, the fine line between danger and desire is crossed…and it’ll take more than a killer instinct to survive.
*New York Times bestselling author Christina Reece

There is always a character in a series that pisses you right off. Bailey Jones was it for me. What a raging bitch. I have no idea what Sean saw in her. There were almost no redeeming qualities in her. She lied to herself, she lied to Sean, she lied to everyone. She constantly hurt Sean. It was unbearable.

Bailey was visiting her friend and fellow assassin, Paige, when she saw the news about a bank in Dublin being robbed. Even with a mask on his face, she immediately recognized Sean Reilly. She immediately springs into action and leaves London for Dublin, determined to help me. A year ago, she had an unforgettable night with Sean, but Sean thinks that Bailey thinks it was his twin brother, Oliver, she was with. She’s happy to let him think that because Sean is dangerous to her. She doesn’t question why she’s racing to his rescue. She tells herself it’s for Oliver. Because when Sean is in trouble, Oliver is not far behind.

While in the bank, Sean is wondering how he and Oliver let themselves get in this bloody mess. They got out of Dublin years ago and are in the information business now. Him and Ollie are happy with their lives and want nothing to do with their father’s legacy. Unfortunately his former boss, Rabbit, has other ideas. Which include kidnapping Ollie to make Sean get a thumb drive from the bank.

While he’s formulating a plan to get out, who drops in other than Bailey, the woman he’s been after for five long years. It doesn’t surprise him. She’s been in love with Oliver for five years. She would come running the moment that he’s in trouble. He still feels guilty for taking her from Oliver. Not guilty enough to regret the night that changed his life. Bailey on the other hand just wants to get Sean out of there and has no thought to where Ollie is. She just wants Sean safe.

They work together to get Oliver free and to take care of business for Rabbit. Back to their relationship; it’s fucked. Sean is fiercely, obsessively protective of Bailey. Her safety is his number one concern. He knows she can take care of herself, but he doesn’t want to put her in a position where she has to do that. That maddens her. It also reminds her of her former boss, who took over her life and job. So I did understand Bailey in that way, but Sean wasn’t trying to take over her life. She was still a bitch.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Review: Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy

Posted March 23, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Midnight Action by Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #5
Also in this series: Midnight Revenge, Midnight Rescue, Midnight Alias, Midnight Games, Midnight Pursuits, Midnight Revenge, Midnight Captive, Midnight Target, Midnight Target
Published by Signet
Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

She’s got a broken heart...and a fully loaded arsenal....
Ex–army ranger Jim Morgan leads a team of elite mercenaries, but eighteen years ago in Paris, he was part of a black ops unit whose mission was to hunt down a rogue operative. In order to trap the criminal, Jim seduced Noelle, the man’s daughter—a ruthless act that cost him the love of his life and turned her into a mortal enemy. Now he can’t trust her, but he still desires her. He also needs her help....
Older, wiser, and unwilling to play the fool again, Noelle runs a group of highly skilled assassins. And she’s just been offered the hit of the century: Eliminate Jim Morgan. History gives them no reason to trust each other, but with their lives in jeopardy at the hands of a common enemy, the lines between love and hate are soon blurred. Now Noelle and Jim must face the past if they want to have a future—let alone a future together.

This is probably my least favorite book of the series. Which is surprising considering I was so fascinated by these two at the beginning of the series. By book three, I didn’t want to read their book. By book four, I was actually considering skipping it. But secondary characters run strong in this series and I couldn’t skip it. Liam and Sully. ::sigh:: Love those two. Noelle and Morgan? Not so much. They were okay, but Noelle was not my cuppa. I ended up liking her, but not loving her.

Noelle is the Queen of Assassins. She’s hardcore. A total bitch. She has no feelings. In previous books she was fucking Derek Pratt, one of Morgan’s mercs. I have to use that term because there is no other word for it. She wasn’t doing it to make Morgan jealous because they don’t feel that base of feelings for each other. They feel hate, loathing, feelings like that. Their history is deep and long. When Noelle picks up a job to assassinate a target, she is surprised that the target is Jim himself. What surprises her even more is when she goes to warn him instead of kill him. She always has known that she would one day kill him, but obviously that day isn’t today. See, that’s weird. How can you setup a couple in a book like that? These two literally want to kill each other.

Morgan is surprised that Noelle came to warn him. He hates her with a passion that surpasses everything and anything he’s ever known. He also once loved her with the same passion. Until she was responsible for taking the woman out of his life that was pregnant with his child. She doesn’t know why he’s looked for Ariana for the last 17 years. She thinks he’s in love with the woman and he’s let her think that to hurt her. When he follows her back to Paris to find who is trying to kill him, their past comes full circle.

Morgan finds his child after all these years and finally explains to Noelle that he never loved Arianna. Noelle doesn’t give a crap. She will never forgive him for pretending to love her to get to her father and then ultimately getting him killed. Morgan realizes that he wants it all, his daughter and Noelle. Noelle is having none of that. She’s not the girl that Morgan once loved. She’s ruthless, an assassin, someone that has buried her feelings under layers of ice. Ice that can’t be broken by the man that is responsible for it.

These two just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know why. It’s not that I didn’t like their story, because I did. It resonated with me. I felt bad for Noelle. The sex was a good read. Their feelings for each other were open and raw. Morgan really loved Noelle. There was just something off about it. Liam and Sully were my favorite part of the book. This is where their problems started and they sure didn’t end here.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Live Wire by Caisey Quinn

Posted March 22, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Live Wire by Caisey QuinnReviewer: Jen
Live Wire (Nashville's Finest, #1) by Caisey Quinn
Series: Nashville's Finest #1
Published by InterMix
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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three-half-stars

Caisey Quinn—author of the Neon Dreams romances—delivers the debut novel in an explosive new romantic suspense series...

HE’S NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING…

Explosive ordinance disposal specialist Chase Fisk never breaks a sweat defusing even the most complicated of explosives. So when a homicidal maniac threatens to set off military-grade IEDs during Nashville’s largest music festival, Chase is the man to take him down. But with the reappearance of a woman he thought was long dead, everything he thought he knew is blown away.

EXCEPT LOSING HER AGAIN.

FBI operative Vivien Montgomery is an enigma to everyone around her. So when a deadly threat lands her in Nashville and paired up with the only man she’s ever loved, she isn’t looking forward to an emotional reunion. She’s only here to get the job done and get out. But when the madman behind the chaos targets her for death, the one man she left behind might be the only person she can count on to save her life...

When the book opens, Chase Fisk is simply going through the motions of his life in the Nashville PD, and that’s the way it’s been since the love of his life, Vivien, died four years ago. Only, it turns out she didn’t actually die. When FBI agent Vivien Montgomery comes to Nashville to help Chase’s department stop a terrorist attack, she obviously can’t avoid Chase finding out she’s very much alive. Despite the hurt feelings and secrets, Chase and Vivien have to work together to put the past behind them and prevent a major terrorist attack.

In case it’s not clear from that summary, Chase and Vivien have a wee bit of baggage. Chase was nearly broken after Vivien’s death, and he has been a haunted man living a shell of a life ever since. Worse, he was inadvertently injured in the staged blast that supposedly took Vivien’s life, and the injuries ended his military career and have left him with a condition that could end his work in explosive ordinance disposal. In short, her fake death severely MESSED HIM UP, physically and emotionally. He is understandably both confused and enraged when she simply shows up in Nashville unannounced. She does have valid reasons, or at least understandable reasons, for never telling Chase she was alive, and I could accept that part of the story. But to be honest, I really wasn’t thrilled with how Vivien handled the whole thing. I realize she didn’t get much advance notice that she was going to Nashville, but to simply show up without a single warning to Chase was frankly a pretty jerky move. Even if she had just arranged to meet with him privately to break the news, instead of doing it in front of all their coworkers, it would have made me a bit more sympathetic. She doesn’t seem to quite understand why he’s really angry, either, at least at first. (She does get it eventually, thank goodness.) I would have liked a little more grovel or at least sensitivity from her.

Despite how she handled her reunion with Chase, I did enjoy this story quite a bit. The terrorism plot is interesting and compelling, and the cast of secondary characters is great. I am especially excited about Luke and Annalise, who I presume will be the couple in the next book. Their chemistry was already electric and we’ve only just met them! I also really liked Chase and Vivien as a couple. For the most part, Chase respected Vivien’s skills and autonomy, even though he was completely (understandably) terrified of losing her again. He isn’t great at sharing his feelings, but he realizes that their relationship can never work without openness, and he makes a concerted effort to get over his manly emotional constipation. Once she finally got over her own hurt feelings, Vivien was a great partner for Chase, too. She was protective and concerned about his feelings, and she went all in. They had steamy chemistry, and I enjoyed reading about them.

The book did feel a bit uneven in parts. Some portions plodded a little, and there wasn’t as much of a sense of urgency as one might expect in the face of a major terrorist attack. The pace of the relationship was also kind of odd, as they moved from a seemingly insurmountable conflict to mostly smooth reuniting relatively quickly. They did it by talking openly and honestly, which was great. It was just a little hard to believe that there would be no real aftereffects of the last four years. Heck, they were both profoundly changed by the experience! While they did take time to get to know each other again, I just had some trouble accepting that they could rebuild trust that quickly. I wanted to see some of the bumps along the way.

Even with the problems, I definitely enjoyed this new story line and new-to-me voice.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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