Genre: Romantic Suspense

Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

Posted February 21, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Witness by Nora RobertsReviewer: Rowena
The Witness by Nora Roberts
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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four-half-stars

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today's most reliably entertaining thriller -- and will leave people hungering for more.

It has been a while since I’ve read anything by Nora Roberts and it was my turn to choose a book for book club last month so I chose this one. I’m happy to report that it was an enjoyable read and everyone at book club enjoyed this one as well. Thanks to my buddy Ames who recommended this one, it was a total hit. Both the book and the game we played at book club.

The Witness is about a young woman named Elizabeth Fitch who was the perfect daughter. She did what she was supposed to do, went where she was supposed to go, and ate whatever her mother’s nutritionist prepared for her every day. She grew up under her mother’s thumb and when she turns 16, she starts to realize that she doesn’t want the life that her mother has pushed her into. She grew up and she developed her own interests and those interests didn’t line up with the path her mother chose for her. So she does what every young girl does, she rebels against her parents. She didn’t know that her one act of rebellion would change the course of her life. It changed the course her mother set out for her, the course that she saw for herself and she led a life of hiding.

The first part of this story is young Elizabeth Fitch’s story. It takes place over the night that changed everything for her. It changed her as a person and led to her living a life on the run. She witnessed the murder of the first friend that she had ever had, and gone is young Elizabeth Fitch and in her place is Abigail Lowery. Abigail Lowery just moved to the Ozarks in Arkansas and she purchased the old house out of the way. She keeps to herself, she’s very private and she only comes into town for groceries. Nobody knows much about her and she prefers it that way so when the Police Chief takes an interest in her, things really start popping off because Brooks Gleason started out thinking that maybe this new woman that doesn’t anyone in her business is hiding something and before he knows what is what, Brooks Gleason’s got it bad for Abigail Lowery. Does he still think that she’s hiding something pretty big? Of course, but he also knows that whatever it is, he wants to be the person to help her shoulder the burden and it’s obvious that whatever it is, is a burden on Abigail’s shoulders. So, seeing Brooks bridge the gap between him and Abigail made for a really interesting romance.

I thought that this was a really good book. It wasn’t perfect but Nora Roberts moved the story in a way that kept me invested in what was going on. I was invested in Abigail, in Brooks, in the small town that they lived in and in finding out if the Russian mob from her past would ever catch up to her. I spent a great deal of the book with a bit of anxiety because I was waiting for the Russians to find her, to get her, and you know, kill her because that’s what the Russians do. So that part of the book was a bit weak in my opinion. There were all of these things that were hard to overcome by one person and it should have been hard (even for a brainiac like Abigail) but it really wasn’t. I will say that I wasn’t expecting this book to be as enjoyable (for me) as it was so that was a good thing and I’m glad that I read it because Nora Roberts sure knows how to weave a compelling story with characters that just leap off the pages. She did her thing with this one and even though there were some things that I wanted more from, overall, this was an enjoyable reading adventure that I would definitely recommend to fans of Nora Roberts and romantic suspense novels. The romance was sweet and I really liked that they were friends before their relationship blossomed into what it was in the end and I really liked seeing how they influenced each other. They were good together and they were stronger together and I really dug that. I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted February 13, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. RobbReviewer: Holly
Fantasy in Death by J. D. Robb
Series: In Death #30
Also in this series: Creation in Death, Strangers in Death, Suite 606, Salvation in Death, Kindred In Death, Naked in Death, Glory in Death, The Lost, Rapture in Death, Immortal in Death, New York to Dallas, Celebrity in Death, Brotherhood in Death
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: February 23rd 2010
Genres: Fiction, Suspense
Pages: 368
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Bart Minnock, founder of the computer-gaming giant U-Play, enters his private playroom, and eagerly can't wait to lose himself in an imaginary world—to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king—in his company’s latest top-secret project, Fantastical.
The next morning, he is found in the same locked room, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body. It is the most puzzling case Eve Dallas has ever faced, and it is not a game...

NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart Minnock was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky-but-brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a problem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks—as Eve's husband, Roarke, one of U-Play's competitors, knows well. But Minnock was not naive, and quite capable of fighting back in the real world as well as the virtual one.

Eve and her team are about to enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction-and the price of defeat is death...

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

This review was originally posted on February 22, 2010.

The last few In Death books have kind of been off for me. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy them, it’s just that I didn’t enjoy them as much as I expected to given the previous 5 billion books in the series. I went into this book with some trepidation because of that.

I really enjoyed Eve’s case. A young entrepreneur is found decapitated inside his locked holo room. Security indicates he was the only one inside the room, and in fact his whole apartment. Investigation shows the weapon to be a broadsword. Eve knows it takes two to murder..one to do the killing and one to die. Since he didn’t cut his own head off, there hasn’t be a missing factor.

Some cases are better developed than others, and some are just more interesting to me personally. I’m not sure if this falls into the former, but it definitely falls into the latter. I was truly interested in seeing Eve puzzle her way through the case. It wasn’t long before I figured out who the killer was – it generally doesn’t take me long – but that wasn’t the appeal of this case anyway. It wasn’t the who, but the why and, more intriguing, the how.

As for Eve and Roarke’s relationship, I wasn’t as impressed. After taking a minute to reflect on the overall relationship arc, I’ve decided that’s to be expected. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m happy about it, but I am going to work on being more forgiving. They had a couple arguments, but they seemed kind of contrived.

The focus in this book was more on the case than the personal relationships, but most of our favorites made appearances or were mentioned. There is quite a bit of humor in this book. Eve is still battling it out with the Candy Thief, which always cracks me up. But Roarke is what killed me in this scene:

She took a tool from her desk, then squatted in front of her recycler. After a few twists, she removed the facing and pulled an evidence bag from the back.

“Your guile and wit contest causes you to keep candy in the recycler, with the trash?”

“It’s sealed.” She broke the seal with a little pop and whoosh to prove it, then took out one of the three chocolate bars. She tossed it to him, then bagged the remaining two with a fresh seal before hiding them again. She glanced back to see him studying the candy.

“If you’re going to be so dainty give it back.”

“There was a time I rooted through alley garbage for food, without a thought. Things change.” He unwrapped the candy, took a bite. “But apparently not that much.”

Not only is this particular quote hilarious, but the scene it comes from shows some vulnerability in Roarke, and Eve’s way of taking care of him. Relationships and how they work is one of the underlying themes of the book. Eve puzzles over the various relationships in her life throughout.

Another example is Eve’s relationship with Peabody. Peabody and McNab have to go to a gaming conference and Peabody brings a gift back for Eve. It just illustrates how well they know each other (and offered the added bonus of amusing me):

“What is it?”

“It’s a toy gun. A derringer – like cardshaprs and saloon girls carry in western vids. It’s like a clutch piece.”

“Hmmm.”

“And check it.” Peabody cocked it, and a sultry female voice purred out of the barrel. Put those hands where I can see them, cowboy.

“It has all sorts of audio streams- male, female. I figured you’d want the female. Plus -”

She aimed it at Eve, pulled the trigger even as Eve said: “Hey!”

The little gun let out a brave little bang. Next one goes lower, and you won’t be poking a woman with that stick of yours for the rest of your miserable life.

“Isn’t it cute? You could play saloon girl and Roarke could be high-stakes gambler, then…and that’s entirely none of my nevermind.” Peabody offered a big smile.

“Yeah, it’s cute, no, it’s none of your nevermind.” Eve took the derringer, recocked it. You’d better hightail it before that tail’s sporting another hole.

“It could use better dialogue, but it’s apt enough. Hightail it.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Peabody? Thanks.”

Eve studied the gun, shook her head. Unable to resist, she shot her computer, her AutoChef, amused by the lame insults that followed.

That was another thing about partners, she decided. They knew what would make you laugh, often before you did.

And just because I love Peabody’s crush on Roarke (this comes from later in the book):

“Roarke might be late. He’s working on something for me.”

“Wouldn’t mind if he worked on something for me.”

“Excuse me?”

“Hmm? Oh, just talking to myself,” Peabody sang. “You know how it is.”

Eve strolled over, clipped the back of Peabody’s head with the flat of her hand.

“Ow.”

“Oh, sorry, just an involuntary reflex. You know how it is.”

There is an inconsistency I found. Eve is telling Roarke about the first time she took a life as a police officer, as it segued into how she murdered her father. She’s talking about how she felt when she killed him (her father) and she says:

She let out a breath. “I’m the one who aimed and fired. Fifteen years between. It took me that long to be sure, absolutely sure, I wouldn’t feel that excitement, or that guilt, or that hardening when I had to take another life.”

But until Eve met Roarke, she didn’t remember having killed her father. So this didn’t ring true for me. There was also some inconsistency in the language. Some of the things sounded more modern-day and weren’t in keeping with the time period and the way Robb has written prior books. For example:

[…] She pushed in, slamming her fist in his face. Blood erupted from his nose.
“That’s how we do it in New York!”

Although a good line, this isn’t how Eve normally talks. It kind of pulled me out of the story, because I can’t imagine her saying it.

Still, I enjoyed the book. As Casee noted awhile back it seems like some books focus on the personal relationships and some focus on the cases. This book falls into the latter category.

3.75 out of 5

See a full list of the series here.

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

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Too Hot To Hold by Stephanie Tyler

Posted February 6, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Too Hot To Hold by Stephanie TylerReviewer: Casee
Too Hot to Hold by Stephanie Tyler
Series: Hold Trilogy #2
Publisher: Dell
Publication Date: January 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

HE'S AN ELITE NAVY SEAL LIVING A RISKY DOUBLE LIFE.
SHE'S THE GORGEOUS REPORTER HOT ON HIS TRAIL.

Nick Devane's life is one big classified secret. Until Kaylee Smith busts his covert world wide open, threatening to blow his cover. Digging around where she doesn't belong could get them both killed...especially when the beautiful journalist uncovers top secret information that could set off a global disaster if it falls into the wrong hands. Nick can't let that happen, even if he has to battle deadly mercenaries and an irresistible attraction that is all consuming....

Kaylee didn't expect her search for her missing ex-husband to lead to this sexy and dangerous warrior. Now she's teamed up with Nick on a mission that takes them into deepest Africa--and into the middle of a massive government cover-up. With rogue agents hot on their trail, Kaylee's going to unearth all Nick's secrets. Before they both vanish without a trace. Before the passion burning between them sets off an explosion no one may survive...

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

This review was originally posted on February 1, 2010.

I really like Stephanie Tyler’s writing style. She writes characters that make you care for them. While I didn’t like how Hard to Hold (book one) of the series ended, I liked it enough that I picked this book up when it came out. That being said, this book was my least favorite of the three. When I read Hard to Hold, I liked it right up until the last page. This one, I just didn’t get. It wasn’t the journalist heroine either. I don’t like them in general, but that wasn’t my problem.

Nick has a secret that he’s been keeping since he left his wealthy family at the age of fourteen. Since then, he has carefully cultivated his life around his identity of Nick Devane. There are three people that know he is one of the elite Winfiends and they are the only three that will ever know. Because of that, Nick doesn’t think that he can have a relationship.

Kaylee Smith goes to Nick when his name turns up on a list that her ex-husband left her after he died. Kaylee’s journalist instincts are screaming at her that something isn’t right. Nick confirms that when he tells Kaylee of the few minutes that he knew Aaron and how he saved Nick’s life.

Nick is a one night stand type of guy, but after he meets Kaylee he can’t stay away from her. Something about her quiets the demons that he carries inside. He can almost be himself around her, something that is rare in his life. When Kaylee starts getting involved in things she shouldn’t, Nick is there to help her figure out what to do next.

The reason that I didn’t have a problem with Kaylee is that she wasn’t a reporter willing to get a story at any cost. She finds out what Nick’s secret is and she doesn’t even consider reporting what she knows.

4 out of 5

Hold Trilogy

four-stars


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Guest Review: Jed Had to Die by Tara Sivec

Posted February 6, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Jed Had to Die by Tara SivecReviewer: Tracy
Jed Had to Die by Tara Sivec
Narrator: Amy McFadden
Publisher: Novel Audio
Publication Date: October 27, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Length: 8 Hours and 11 Minutes
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four-stars

The happiest day of Payton Lambert's life was the day she graduated high school and watched Bald Knob, Kentucky get smaller and smaller in her rearview mirror. She wanted more for her life than a tiny town where everyone knows your business and you can’t find a decent cup of coffee for at least forty miles. Twelve years later, an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night has her packing up her life in Chicago and racing back home to the one person she ever regretted leaving behind.

Wait, one person?? Make that two. When the hell did Leo Hudson become sheriff of Bald Knob and get so hot? The scrawny Future Farmer of America who followed Payton around like a puppy and could recite cow insemination facts in his sleep is long gone. Leo is still hot on her heels, but now he's wearing a badge and dead set on solving a murder that may or may not involve Payton...along with half the town.

You steal a few wine coolers in high school and make one little comment about cutting off a man's balls when you come home, and suddenly, you're suspected of killing him.

In a town where the biggest crime happened the day Jethro Snell kicked a few of his cows (an honest mistake when you've had a few jars of homemade moonshine), people are pointing fingers, rumors are spreading like wildfire, and Payton swears she's only making out with the sweet-talking, studly sheriff to distract him from the secrets she's keeping.

When you've been tased, peed on by a yippy dog named Bo Jangles, and can't stop picturing what Sheriff Hudson looks like naked, it will be a tough job making everyone agree that...Jed had to die.

Payton Lambert got out of her hometown of Bald Knob, Kentucky the minute she could.  She went to Chicago, got a degree, and now owns her own coffee shop (called Liquid Crack)…which is getting franchised!  She has no plans to ever go back to Bald Knob, but all of her resolutions of the past 12 years go down the drain when she gets a call about her best friend, Emma Jo.

Emma Jo got married right out of high school and stayed married to the deceitful charmer for 12 years.  During that time she’d been abused constantly.  Of course, no one would have believed her if she’d told anyone, her husband is the town mayor and just an all-around good guy.  Blech. He finally beats her to the point that she reaches out to Payton for help and Payton is there as fast as she can be.

Payton is not liked in her hometown.  She was a troublemaker during her youth and a menace (according to the town folk) and not welcomed.  She forces Emma Jo to finally get a restraining order against her husband Jed and gets the locks on her house changed.

Leo Hudson is the hot town sheriff and has got his eye on Payton.  He had a crush on her in high school when he was just a skinny geek.  That crush never died and now he’s not going to let her get away without making his move.

When Jed turns up dead, Emma Jo and Payton believe that something they did caused Jed’s death and they’re petrified that Leo will find out.  That doesn’t stop Payton and Leo from starting something.  Payton’s not sure where the relationship is going, however.  If she doesn’t go to prison for Jed’s death, then she’ll be going back to Chicago to get away from the town that hates her.

This audiobook cracked me up.  When I first read the blurb I figured this story was based on the song by the Dixie Chicks Goodbye Earl.  It started off a little bit that way but only a bit.  I liked the turn it made and found it original and hilarious.

Payton was my favorite character in this book as her sarcasm brought joy to my heart.  Now, Payton and Emma Jo trying to come up with lies to try and hide what they thought they did got a bit old, but overall was pretty funny.

Amy McFadden was the narrator on this story, and I thought she did a fantastic job.  She was spot on with her accents and everyone had a different one so there was no question about which character was doing the talking.  I’m pretty sure she made the book that much better for me.

If you’re in the mood for a fun and funny audiobook, then this is definitely one you should pick up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: For You by Kristen Ashley

Posted January 21, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: For You by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
For You by Kristen Ashley
Series: The 'Burg #1
Also in this series: Hold On
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 14, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First & Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 535
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Librarian's note: Alternate cover edition of ASIN B004S81POK.

Lieutenant Alexander Colton and February Owens were high school sweethearts. Everyone in their small town knew from the moment they met they were meant for each other. But something happened and Feb broke Colt’s heart then she turned wild and tragedy struck. Colt meted out revenge against the man who brought Feb low but even though Colt risked it all for her, Feb turned her back on him and left town.

Fifteen years later, Feb comes back to help run the family bar. But there’s so much water under the bridge separating her and Colt everyone knows they’ll never get back together.

Until someone starts hacking up people in Feb’s life. Colt is still Colt and Feb is still Feb so the town watches as Colt goes all out to find the murderer while trying to keep Feb safe.

As the bodies pile up, The Feds move in and a twisting, turning story unravels exposing a very sick man who has claimed numerous victims along the way, Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the beautiful but lost history that weaves them together.

Wow. This book is long. It took me three weeks to read it because it just went on and on. When I was halfway through it, I couldn’t believe that I was only halfway. It just dragged on and on. I liked it, but it was way too long.

Alec Colton has loved February Owens for what seems like his entire life. That’s why he was devastated when she broke up with him, seemingly for no reason. Not only did she break up with him, she married someone else then disappeared. Twenty two years after she left him, Feb is back in the ‘Burg. Colton avoids her as best he can, but that proves to be impossible when someone starts murdering people close to Feb. No matter what happened between the two, Colton will always protect Feb. Whether she wants his protection or not.

Feb was devastated when she was forced to break up with Colton. What was even worse is he acted like he didn’t know why. That sends her running. Right into the arms of her soon-to-be ex-husband. Although they don’t stay married long, Feb knew it was a mistake. The only man she wants is Colton, even with how he betrayed her.

When the murderer escalates and seems to be fixed on Feb’s lovers, past and present, Colton moves Feb into his house where he can better protect her. Colton doesn’t know if having her move in is the best or worst idea that he’s ever had. What Colton does realize is that after rekindling their relationship, he’s not letting her go. The murderer has other plans. No one is going to be with Feb but him.

Like I said, this book was pretty long. I skimmed some, read some, but mostly read. I really love reunion stories and this was definitely that. I’m really looking forward to reading this series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The ‘Burg

three-half-stars


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