Publisher: Penguin

Sunday Spotlight: Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin

Posted September 26, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Last Seen Alone by Laura GriffinLast Seen Alone by Laura Griffin
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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When they face the most baffling missing person's case of their careers, a fiercely ambitious lawyer and a homicide detective have no one to turn to for help except each other, from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.
Up-and-coming attorney Leigh Larson fights for victims of sexual extortion, harassment, and online abuse. She is not afraid to go after the sleaziest targets to get payback for her clients. Leigh is laser-focused on her career--to the exclusion of everything else--until a seemingly routine case and a determined cop turn her world upside down.
Austin homicide detective Brandon Reynolds is no stranger to midnight callouts. But when he gets summoned to an abandoned car on a desolate road, he quickly realizes he's dealing with an unusual crime scene. A pool of blood in the nearby woods suggests a brutal homicide. But where is the victim? The vehicle is registered to twenty-six-year-old Vanessa Adams. Searching the car, all Brandon finds is a smear of blood and a business card for Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law.
Vanessa had hired Leigh just before her disappearance, but Leigh has no leads on who could have wanted her dead. Faced with bewildering evidence and shocking twists, Leigh and Brandon must work against the clock to chase down a ruthless criminal who is out for vengeance.

Excerpt

Brandon found his partner exactly where he’d expected. Antonio stood beside the food truck in front of the courthouse, pumping ketchup onto a pair of hotdogs.

He glanced up from his lunch as Brandon approached.

“How’d it go? She know her?”

“I don’t know,” Brandon said.

“Well, did you ask her?”

“Yeah. She said Vanessa Adams isn’t a client.”

Antonio frowned. “So, what’s the problem?”

“She lied.”

“How do you know?”

“I could tell.”

Brandon couldn’t say how, exactly. But he had a nose for BS. And Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law, had been lying through her pretty white teeth.

“But why would she lie about knowing Vanessa?” Antonio asked.

“No idea,” Brandon said.

With his hotdogs fully loaded, Antonio stepped away from the food truck. Day or night, rain or shine, his partner never missed a meal. Even after grabbing less than three hours of sleep, he’d shown up for work this morning with bag full of breakfast tacos. The kid worked out like a maniac and was constantly scarfing down food.

“These are good.” Antonio said around a mouthful. “You want one?”

“No.”

Brandon glanced back at the courthouse, where the security line still stretched all the way to the park.

“She’s hot, though.”

He turned around. “What’s that?”

“The attorney.” Antonio smiled. “Don’t tell me you didn’t notice.”

Brandon didn’t comment. He’d have to be dead not to notice. Leigh Larson was definitely hot. The skirt, the heels, the sleek dark hair pulled back in prim bun.

But the main thing he’d noticed was her eyes. They were forest green, and they’d gone from surprised to wary the moment she noticed him watching her. She’d taken one look at him and tried to hightail it out of there.

Not exactly the response he usually got from women. Criminals, yeah, but not women in general. She’d said she was late for court, and that explained the rush, maybe, but it didn’t explain the lie.

Leigh Larson had lied to him—he was sure of it. What he didn’t get was why.

“Well, we may have a better lead anyway.” Antonio crumpled his first wrapper into a ball and pitched it into a trash bin before chomping into the second hotdog. “The lab called while you were in there. They just got the Toyota in. Who’d you talk to over there?”

“Jane,” Brandon said.

“Oh, yeah? Well, she must like you because they bumped us to the front of the line. They’ve already started processing the vehicle and get this. The smear on the door? They did a quickie test and confirmed the blood is human.”

Brandon wasn’t surprised. After four years in homicide, he was good at reading stains. The real question was, did the blood belong to Vanessa Adams, who was still apparently missing after abandoning her car on that highway more than fourteen hours ago?

And then there was the pool of blood Antonio had discovered in the woods. It was no small amount, and one look at it had prompted Brandon to get on the phone with his lieutenant to request a team of CSIs out there, stat, to process the scene.

Brandon took out his phone now and pulled up the photo he’d taken last night. The blood pool—still coagulating—had been discovered beside a burned tree stump. The sight had put a lead weight in Brandon’s gut as he tried to imagine what happened. Someone had been injured or worse, and the logical candidate was Vanessa. Had she been shot? Stabbed? Bludgeoned?

Despite combing the area, they’d turned up no shell casings or drag marks—nothing beyond that one pool of blood by the stump in the woods.

At this point, they didn’t know if that blood matched the smear in the car, or if it was Vanessa Adams’s. To determine that, they needed DNA tests, which meant submitting samples to the notoriously backlogged DNA lab, and jumping to the front of that line would take a hell of a lot more than a friendly phone call to Jane, especially since their case wasn’t even officially a homicide.

Yet.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Laura Griffin

author photo

Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and novellas. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages. Laura is a two-time RITA® Award winner (for Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Her book Desperate Girls was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by Publishers Weekly. Laura lives in Austin, Texas, where she is working on her next novel.


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Sunday Spotlight: Say Goodbye by Karen Rose

Posted September 19, 2021 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Say Goodbye by Karen RoseSay Goodbye by Karen Rose
Series: Sacramento #3
Also in this series: Say You're Sorry (Sacramento, #1)
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 640
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: five-stars

Eden faces a final reckoning when the cult's past victims hunt them down in this explosive, high-stakes thriller in the Sacramento series from New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose.

For decades, Eden has remained hidden in the remote wilds of the Pacific Northwest, “Pastor” keeping his cult's followers in thrall for his personal profit and sexual pleasures. But the Founding Elders are splintering, and Pastor's surrogate son DJ is scheming to make it all his own.

When two of Eden's newest members send out a cry for help, it reaches FBI Special Agent Tom Hunter, whose friend and fellow FBI Special Agent Gideon Reynolds and his sister, Mercy, are themselves escapees of the Eden cult, targeted by the Founding Elders who want them silenced forever. The three have vowed to find the cult and bring it down, and now, they finally have a solid lead.

Neutralizing Eden’s threat will save captive members and ensure Tom’s new friends can live without fear. But when his best friend, ex-Army combat medic Liza Barkley, joins the case, it puts her life—and their blossoming love—in danger. With everything they hold dear in the balance, Tom and Liza, together with Gideon and Mercy, must end Eden once and for all.

Excerpt

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24, 8:45 A.M.

“Well?”

Special Agent Tom Hunter looked over his shoulder, unsurprised to see Special Agent in Charge Molina standing in the doorway of his office. He’d expected the visit from the SAC of the FBI’s Sacramento field office. Today was her first day back after the attack that had left her injured and several other agents dead. She looked paler than nor‑ mal and tired. But determined.

He automatically rose, because his mother had raised him right.

This put him more than a foot taller than his boss, which made her look up with an irritated glare. At six‑six, he towered over almost ev‑ eryone in the Bureau, which was a new experience. He’d been average height during his three years with the NBA. Shorter, in fact, than many of the men he’d met on the court. He hunched his shoulders a bit to offset the difference, but Molina’s glare did not soften.

As her chin lifted, her dark eyes bored into him. “What do you know?” she demanded.

Tom gave her a warm smile. “Good morning.” The woman wasn’t the coldhearted beast she wanted everyone to think she was. He’d watched her manage two crises in the past few months, and while she was quick‑witted, with razor‑sharp focus and an even sharper tongue, she did care. He suspected she might care too much and fought not to let it show.

He knew the type. He’d been raised by a wickedly smart group of women. His mother’s friends were cops, social workers, and attorneys. When pressure was high and risk to humans they cared for even higher, they’d pasted on the same face Molina wore right now.

He held out the chair next to his desk, motioning her to sit.

She shot him a dark scowl but took the seat, tugging at the jacket of her suit unnecessarily. No fabric worn by Tara Molina would have the nerve to wrinkle.

“I know a lot of things about a lot of things,” he said, retaking his seat as he answered her question. “But I’m assuming you’re specifically referring to Eden.”

The cult he’d been actively seeking since mid‑April. The cult that’d provided a hiding place for vicious killers for the past thirty years. Vicious killers who had abused two of the people who, in a short period of time, had become Tom’s friends. Both Gideon Reynolds and his sister Mercy Callahan had been children when they’d escaped Eden, but both were scarred for life, physically and emotionally.

Because the killers hadn’t simply hidden in Eden. They’d thrived there, starting a cult that condoned—no, encouraged—the rape of twelve‑year‑old girls by middle‑aged men, calling it “marriage.” They condoned the rape of thirteen‑year‑old boys, calling it an “apprenticeship.”

Gideon and Mercy had been only two of their victims.

“Yes. I’m talking about Eden.” Molina rolled her eyes. “And here everyone said you were some wunderkind,” she drawled, but her tone was light. Almost teasing.

“I don’t know about that,” Tom muttered, his cheeks heating. He was good at what he did—specifically hacking. He was very good at what he did, in fact.

The fact that he still hadn’t found the cult’s compound after months of searching left him thoroughly irked. But they had made progress.

“I got into their offshore bank account,” Tom stated. Which, under most circumstances, would have been cause for congratulations and maybe even a promotion. Or a prison sentence, if he hadn’t been work‑ ing for the good guys. Either way, it had been damn difficult to do.

“You did that three weeks ago,” Molina stated flatly, popping any hope he might have had for an attaboy. “My temporary replacement briefed me weekly. What have you learned about Eden recently?”

Tom could only imagine what Molina’s temporary replacement

had told her. He and Agent Raeburn had not gotten along well at all. “From their bank account, not much,” he admitted. “No money’s been moved either in or out, not since they pulled all of Ephraim’s money out of his personal account and back into the main Eden cof‑ fers, three days before he was killed.”

It was Molina’s turn to grimace. “I must say that I hate the sound of that man’s name. All of his names,” she added bitterly.

Ephraim Burton, a Founding Elder of the Eden cult, had been born Harry Franklin, under which name he’d earned a record as a bank robber and murderer, before going into hiding thirty years ago. Bur‑ ton had other aliases that had allowed him to mingle in the real world during the times he left Eden.

Which wouldn’t be happening ever again, because Burton was dead. Tom wished that he’d been the one to do the honors, but one of the other cult elders had killed Ephraim Burton, possibly to keep him from telling the FBI of Eden’s whereabouts. A lot of people had died in connection to Eden. The stakes were high. Its bank accounts held in excess of fifty million dollars.

It was more likely, though, that the other elder had killed Ephraim to keep him from spilling the biggest secret—that two of the cult’s runaways hadn’t died trying to escape but had been living free for more than ten years.

Gideon and his sister, Mercy, had been abused by Eden in their youth but were fighting back now, helping the FBI track down Eden and end it, once and for all. Tom respected the siblings more than he could say.

“I put an alert on the offshore accounts,” Tom said. “If they move any money, we’ll know.”

“But they haven’t yet.”

“Not yet. However, someone resembling DJ Belmont did withdraw some cash from a different bank account outside Mt. Shasta an hour after Ephraim Burton was shot.”

“Belmont?” Molina hissed, anger flashing in her eyes.

Belmont was second‑in‑command to Eden’s leader, a charismatic man known only as “Pastor” to his followers. Luckily the FBI had learned a bit more than that. Pastor’s name prior to his starting the Eden cult had been Herbert Hampton. Prior to that he’d been Benton Travis, serving a sentence in a federal penitentiary for forgery and bank fraud.

They knew the identities of the cult leaders. They just didn’t know where the cult was. It was a small community that moved around re‑ mote sections of Northern California, and they were clever at evading detection.

Belmont was more than Pastor’s second‑in‑command, though— assuming he was still alive. He was a dangerous, ruthless, alarmingly competent killer who’d taken out five federal agents, most of them SWAT. He’d also fired the bullet that had taken Molina out of commission for the past month, so her reaction to his name was understandable.

Tom pulled up a file on his computer, then turned the screen to show her the photos taken from surveillance cameras. “The resolution of the bank’s drive‑through camera is good, but he was wearing a bandana over his face, sunglasses, and a cap with a wide brim. Facial recognition couldn’t pick up anything useful. The body type and size fit Belmont’s description, though.”

“If he didn’t withdraw cash from Eden’s offshore account, which account was it?”

Tom gave her a sideways glance. “I thought you got weekly briefings from Agent Raeburn.”

Molina’s eyes narrowed. “I did. I want to hear your version.” Tom managed to hide his wince. “My version?”

“Yes,” Molina said coolly. “Agent Raeburn’s version was less than satisfactory.”

Well, damn. “I figured as much,” Tom muttered. “He’s . . . well, he’s not very flexible.”

Her brows lifted. “He is a damn good agent.” Careful, careful. “Never said he wasn’t.” “You thought it.”

Tom pursed his lips, unsure if Molina was amused or upset. It was often hard to tell. But of course he’d thought it. Raeburn was by‑the‑ book to a fault and left no wiggle room for the humanity of any situation. He wasn’t going to say that out loud, though. He was aware that Molina knew he bent the rules every now and then.

He had, in fact, bent the rules often since his first day on the job. Which seemed like it had been a year ago, even though it had only been five months. There was something about Gideon Reynolds and Mercy Callahan that made him want to help them, to ease their fears—even when he technically wasn’t supposed to. But the brother and sister had been through too much abuse.

Tom knew abuse. He still bore the scars from his own biological father’s cruelty. He knew heartache, far more recently. He knew that sometimes rules needed to be bent or even broken in order to do the right thing.

But he also knew that if he wanted to continue helping Gideon and Mercy, he’d need to toe Molina’s line. Or appear to, at least. Which meant not badmouthing her temporary replacement, who was still technically his direct supervisor.

He bent his mouth into a smile that was convincing because he’d practiced making it so—a side benefit of heartache. People didn’t ask you questions if you smiled and looked happy.

“The account Belmont withdrew money from at the ATM was an individual checking account in the name of John Smith,” he said, shifting them back on topic. “Assuming this is him in the photo, he withdrew the cash about ninety minutes after he fled the scene at Dunsmuir.”

DJ Belmont’s shooting spree in the forest two hundred miles to the north had left five bodies on the ground that day—the FBI SWAT members and a special agent named Schumacher. Molina had been lucky. Her injuries at Belmont’s hand had “only” hospitalized her for a week and required physical therapy for three more.

Unfortunately, Belmont had also taken out Ephraim Burton that day. They’d hoped that Burton might have led them to Eden, to the people who lived under Pastor’s authoritarian rule.

The adults who’d followed Pastor had perhaps been misled, but they’d made their choice. The children of Eden, however, had not chosen and many were being abused every single day.

But federal agents hadn’t been Belmont’s only victims that day. Tom pointed at the ATM photo. “Belmont was driving an old box truck that was later reported stolen by the surviving family of an itinerant farm picker. He was shot in the head twice with Agent Schumacher’s service weapon.”

“So he didn’t shoot Schumacher from afar, like he did us.” From a tree, far enough away that the SWAT team hadn’t been able to locate him before he’d shot them all. Far enough away to reveal Belmont’s impressive, albeit terrifying, sniper skills. “He took her weapon after he killed her.” Molina swallowed hard. “She was a good agent. A good person.”

“I know. He killed the picker, stole his truck, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.”

“Maybe Belmont’s dead,” Molina said hopefully. “Maybe.”

She studied him. “You don’t think so, though.”

“I don’t know,” Tom said truthfully. “We can’t assume it, though. He wanted to kill Mercy and Gideon that day. If he is alive, he has too much at stake not to try again.”

“You’re right that we can’t assume. Did the picker’s truck have GPS?” “It didn’t. It was twenty‑five years old.” Tom had to draw a breath, the memory of the man’s grieving family still clear enough to make his chest ache. He’d accompanied Agent Raeburn to inform the victim’s wife and five kids. It had been his first time delivering such news, and Raeburn hadn’t been overly sympathetic. Tom figured that was how the man coped, which might be better than the nightmares that still plagued his own sleep. “The family was poor. The truck was all they owned.”

Molina was quiet a beat longer than necessary. “Agent Raeburn said that the family received a gift from an anonymous benefactor a few days later, through their parish priest.”

Tom didn’t blink. That the money had come from his own bank account was a fact he was not prepared to admit. “I hadn’t heard that,” he said mildly. And he hadn’t actually heard it, so technically he wasn’t lying.

“Raeburn said the amount was enough for them to live on for several months, plus a bit more than their funeral expenses.”

He could feel his skin itching, like Molina could see his every secret. But still he didn’t blink. He knew he couldn’t replace every victim’s losses, but he could help that family. So he had. It hadn’t made a dent in his bank account, flush after his three years in the NBA. Being able to help people like that was one of the best things his time as a professional basketball player had done for him. He’d never planned to make the NBA a career, always knowing he’d join the Bureau, but he’d been young and better than decent on the court. It had seemed a shame to waste the talent he’d been given—or his earnings. He’d donated a fair bit and saved the rest.

He was grateful for those years, even if after his fiancée’s death he hadn’t had the heart for it anymore and had retired early. Now he kept his tone bland. “That was a nice thing for someone to do.”

Molina rolled her eyes, but her tone was almost sweet. “Don’t make it a habit, Tom.”

He blinked, unprepared for her use of his first name. “Make what a habit?”

She shook her head. “You know, when I was told I was getting a hacker rookie, straight out of the Academy, I was not happy. When I found out you were a former pro athlete, I was unhappier still. I didn’t have the time to train an agent wet behind the ears. Or one with an ego the size of Texas.”

Tom frowned. “I have an ego the size of Texas?”

“No. I assumed that you would, but I was pleasantly surprised on that score.” One side of her mouth lifted. “I’m glad you’re here. If only so I can toughen up that soft heart of yours so you make it to retirement. I’m not kidding, Agent Hunter.”

Tom bit back his own smile. “So noted, ma’am.”

Sacramento

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Karen Rose

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn't concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON'T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published more than fifteen novels and two novellas. Her twenty-second novel, SAY YOU'RE SORRY, will be released in 2019.

Karen's books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London's Sunday Times, and Germany's der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa(#1) and Australia!
​​
Her novels, I'M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America's RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, two dogs, and a cat.


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Joint Review: Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

Posted July 26, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Wild Sign by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars

Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear — before it's too late — in this thrilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Alpha and Omega series.

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It's as if the people picked up and left everything they owned behind. Fearing something supernatural might be going on, the FBI taps a source they've consulted in the past: the werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham. But Charles and Anna soon find a deserted town is the least of the mysteries they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous — and it has met werewolves before.

Anna and Charles have worked with the FBI in the past, and they have a tentative truce between them, but not the kind where they’re prepared for the FBI to show up on their doorstep. They’re requesting assistance to help locate a missing mountain community. Anna and Charles agree to investigate, and they set off into the Northern California mountains.

Holly: I love Charles and Anna. They’re so great together. I really liked seeing them at home in the beginning of this novel. We learn a lot more about Leah in this book, and I am here for it. What did you think?

Rowena: I really love Charles and Anna too. It’s amazing that after all of these books, their chemistry is still just as great as when we first met them. They’re an amazing team that I love to go on adventures with.

Holly: You’re right about their chemistry. I love how solid they are now, and yet how they are still figuring some things out. They’re a real true-to-life couple.

Rowena: So many couples that I’ve read and watched on TV become so boring after they finally get together but that’s not the case with Charles and Anna. I love how strong their bond is and how strong and confident Anna is these days. Briggs does a really good job of keeping her characters interesting but still true to the characters that we’ve come to love over the course of this series.

Holly: That’s the thing about Briggs, she makes these characters interesting even after all these books (same with Mercy and Adam). I am always left wanting more.

Rowena: I haven’t been the biggest fan of Leah’s ever since we met her but I agree, I’m here for getting more of Leah’s story. getting to know her in this book and seeing the pain of her past made my heart hurt so yeah, I want more.

Holly: I haven’t always liked Leah, but I’ve come around to her the last few years. Plus, I’m always here for a redemption arc.

Rowena: Leah’s redemption arc was a solid one. Once I finally dived into this book, I was all in and Leah was a big part of the reason why. I’m glad that we got her back story and everything about her relationship with Bran makes so much sense. I don’t think I would have survived a life like Leah’s so my admiration for her shot right through the roof while reading this.

Holly: I hope we get to see more of Leah in the future, and that maybe things change with her and Bran. I don’t know that she’ll ever be my favorite, but I’m definitely here to learn more about her.

Rowena: Overall, I enjoyed the story. The mystery of the town, wondering where everyone and everything went had me turning the pages real fast. I’m mighty curious about where our Alpha & Omega crew goes from here though. That was a big bomb that Samuel threw Charles and Anna but I loved how swift their decision-making was. There was no haggling, no hesitation, just straight up, yes. Whatever you need, I’m here for you because you’re family. This is definitely a good one. I’m giving this one 4.25 out of 5 stars. You?

Holly: I, too, enjoyed the mystery. I also liked how things between Charles and Anna played out. That bombshell at the end got me super excited! I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I’m giving this 4.25 out of 5 as well. Bring on the next book!

Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Alpha & Omega

four-stars


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Review: Last Guard by Nalini Singh

Posted July 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Last Guard by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Last Guard by Nalini Singh
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #5
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night, Alpha Night
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Length: 10 hours and 52 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to a world devastated by change in her award-winning Psy-Changeling Trinity series, where two people defined by their aloneness hold the fate of the Psy in their hands…
Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.
For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed "imperfect" by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel of the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an Anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.
To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful Anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet…or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both.

Canto Merchant & Payal Rao are both A-Psy. As anchors for the PsyNet, it isn’t just their job to keep the PsyNet from failing. It’s a compulsion for them. They can’t not do anything & everything to save the Psy race.

When Canto contacts Payal about being the voice for the anchors, he has no idea how intertwined their histories are. Since the time he was old enough, he has been searching for the girl that saved his life in the “rehabilitation” school they were both at. They didn’t know each other’s names. All they knew was the numbers that were assigned by the school. For Canto, 3K is a girl that was his salvation. Searching for her has become his obsession in life though he has never had so much as a lead on his 3K. His search for her has to be put on the back burner because the PsyNet is failing. Payal is a hub anchor, much like himself. The only difference as far as he can see is that Payal is Silent whereas Canto never was fully Silent. Then he sees her.

Payal walks a very fine line in her life. She’s the CEO of the Rao family holdings. She has a brother that would like nothing more than to murder her in her sleep, a sister she has to hide from her father & brother, and she’s a hub anchor. When Canto Merchant contacts her, Payal knows she can’t say no. If the anchors don’t get involved, the PsyNet will fall. Already the Ruling Coalition is discussing breaking the PsyNet into pieces. Both Payal & Canto know that doing that will not work. So she agrees to meet Canto. And gets the shock of her life.

Canto & Payal were thrown away when they were children because they hadn’t initialized as A’s. Payal couldn’t control her emotions. Canto couldn’t use his legs. It hurt to read how they were treated. Then it made me smile to read about how Canto looked after Payal & Payal protected Canto.

“Payal, you don’t have to hide me from them.” It came out hard, a near-snarl.
“Yes, I do. A solemn statement that cut him to the bone. “Because you’re my person. The only one I have. I need to protect you.”

This isn’t just about two children that formed a bond that nothing could destroy. It’s about children that were forgotten, children that weren’t protected, and children that died. All because they were A’s. It’s about the journey two A children took to find their way back to each other.

I could honestly go on and on about this book. I was barely able to put it down. I’m so excited to see where the series goes from here. I’m starting to think I’m getting a glimmer of what the end of the series will look like. Maybe.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Psy-Changeling

Psy-Changeling Trinity

four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Last Guard by Nalini Singh (+ Exclusive Excerpt)

Posted July 18, 2021 by Casee in Features | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I’m always THRILLED when Nalini Singh releases a book. It doesn’t matter what she publishes, I will read it. I’m really excited to learn more about the Merchants in Last Guard.

Sunday Spotlight: Last Guard by Nalini Singh (+ Exclusive Excerpt)Last Guard by Nalini Singh
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #5
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Ocean Light, Ocean Light , Wolf Rain , Wolf Rain, Alpha Night, Alpha Night, Last Guard
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Length: 13 hours
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to a world devastated by change in her award-winning Psy-Changeling Trinity series, where two people defined by their aloneness hold the fate of the Psy in their hands…
Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.
For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed "imperfect" by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel of the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an Anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.
To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful Anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet…or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both.

Excerpt

Beyond its limited but well-maintained grounds, Vara was surrounded by smaller buildings of a similar vintage, and looked out over a mishmash of more ancient structures and rickety new buildings that appeared held together by not much more than hope and the odd nail.

Gleaming Psy skyscrapers rose in the distance in stark contrast.

Yet even that clinical intrusion into the heart of this ancient city hadn’t been able to tame the controlled disorder of Delhi. Her city had its own soul and wasn’t about to bow to the whims of any civilization.

Every now and then, she still spotted monkeys scrambling up into the fruit trees on the grounds, and the pigeons had no respect for any of the bird deterrents trialed by the maintenance staff.
Through it all, Vara stood, solid and enduring.

Her father had once considered bulldozing her and rebuilding out of steel and glass, then decided the mahal was an important symbol of their long-term power. “The Raos were here long before others who might think to defeat our hold on this city,” he’d said as they stood at Vara’s highest viewpoint, the rooftop garden hidden from below by the decorative crenellations. “And we’ll be here long after they’re dead and buried.”

It was silent and cool in her third-floor office, but she knew that should she step out onto the stone balcony, she’d be hit with a tumult of horns and cries and scorching heat—the monsoon winds hadn’t yet arrived, bringing with them a humidity that was a wet pressure on the skin.

Payal would then wait for the rains to come, wash away the muggy air.

Her office was situated at the front of Vara, only meters from the street. She could see motorcycles zipping through traffic with apparent insouciance, while multiple auto rickshaws stood lined up in front of Vara hoping for a passenger.

A Psy in San Francisco or Monaco might turn up their nose at that mode of transport, but Psy in Delhi knew that the small and nimble vehicles were far more adept at navigating the city’s heavy traffic than bigger town cars. The more intrepid drivers even dared take on Old Delhi’s narrow lanes—but it was far smarter to travel via motorcycle in those mixed pedestrian/vehicle zones.
The traffic chaos was an accident of history. Delhi had grown too fast at a time when it had more pressing issues to address, and now there was simply no room to expand the roading or underground rail. The rickshaws were here to stay.

Even Payal was known to hail one on occasion despite the fact she was a teleport-capable telekinetic. It helped her keep a finger on the pulse of the city. She’d seen too many powerful Psy fall because they had no idea what was happening beyond their insulated bubble.

Nikita Duncan was the perfect example—the ex-Councilor held considerable financial and political sway, but she’d lost her once-tight grip on her home base. The DarkRiver leopard pack had grown exponentially in power right under her nose. San Francisco would never again be Nikita’s city.

Payal kept an eye on multiple small groups like DarkRiver that wielded more power than they should—she watched and she learned. Always.

After spending several minutes focused on the patterns of movement out on the street, she glanced down at the signature at the bottom of the unexpected e-mail: Canto Mercant, Mercant Corp.
Mercant.

Talk about a small group that held an excessive amount of power. Though the rumored scion of the family was now one of the most famous faces in the world, the Mercants didn’t generally seek fame or overt political power. Rather, they were the primary shadow players in the PsyNet, with a network of spies so skilled they were said to have something on everyone.

Payal knew the latter to be an overstatement for the simple reason that they had nothing on her. The fact she was an anchor wasn’t any kind of a smoking gun or threat. No doubt she was on a list of As somewhere in the Ruling Coalition’s archives. But she didn’t exactly advertise her status. Not when the most well-known telekinetic anchor of recent years had ended up a serial killer.

So how had Canto Mercant worked out her root designation?

Anchor minds weren’t visibly different on the PsyNet, couldn’t be pinpointed that way. And because A was an “inert” designation during early childhood, when Psy were sorted into various designations for the necessary specialized training, it would’ve appeared nowhere on her early records.

In point of fact, all her public-facing records listed her as a Tk.

Canto Mercant shouldn’t have the data on her true status. She certainly hadn’t known the Mercants had an anchor in their midst. Not only an anchor but a hub, born to merge into the fabric of the PsyNet. Chances were Canto Mercant was a cardinal.

Non-cardinal hub-anchors were rare inside an already rare designation.

Setting aside her organizer on her desk, she used her intercom to contact her assistant: Ruhi, bring me our files on the Mercants.

From LAST GUARD published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Nalini Singh.

Psy-Changeling Trinity

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: July 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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