Tag: Tracer’s Series

Guest Review: Touch of Red by Laura Griffin

Posted February 21, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 6 Comments

Guest Review: Touch of Red by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Touch of Red (Tracers, #12) by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers Series #12
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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When crime scene investigator Brooke Porter arrives at the home of a murdered woman, the only thing more shocking than the carnage is the evidence that someone escaped the scene. But where is this witness now? A thorough search of the area yields more questions than answers, and before Brooke even packs up her evidence kit, she’s made it her goal to find the witness and get them out of harm’s way.

Homicide detective Sean Byrne has seen his share of bloody crime scenes, but this one is particularly disturbing, especially because Brooke Porter is smack in the middle of it. Sean has had his eye on the sexy CSI for months, and he’s determined to help her with her current case—even if it means putting his attraction on hold so he and Brooke can track down a murderer. But as the investigation—and their relationship—heats up, Sean realizes that keeping his work and his personal life separate is more complicated than he ever imagined; especially when the killer sets his sights on Brooke.

I was excited about CSI Brooke Porter when she was introduced in the last Tracer’s book, and for the most part her story didn’t disappoint. Brooke works for the Delphi Center, and she’s working with detective Sean Byrne to solve a murder. She’s also coming out of a messy, toxic relationship, and that causes some problems for her and her relationship with Sean.

I thought the investigation plot of this book was very strong. I really could not have predicted where this one would end up based on the initial murder! This isn’t a serial killer story like so many of the Tracers books have been, and I admit it was a good change of pace to get something different. Plus the villain is responsible for some awful things, and it’s satisfying to see that person get their just desserts in the end. I also really liked Sean and Brooke, both as individuals and as a couple. I thought they were a great compliment, and I could absolutely see them working out in the long term.

I did have some issues that kept nagging at me after I finished reading, though. First, there’s a plot line with Brooke’s ex-boyfriend that I just didn’t like. He was emotionally abusive and is starting to stalk her in this book. I didn’t see a need for that and felt like it was just gratuitous. Plus, the issue wasn’t really handled seriously in my mind. The whole thing is basically resolved by Sean threatening the guy, which was lame and felt out of character for Sean AND for the ex. That plot point goes nowhere and feels like it’s only there to manufacture a way for Sean to protect Brooke until the major villain starts to focus on her.

The other thing that bothered me was more subtle, and it wasn’t something that even bothered me while I was reading. It was only after, as I started to think about the book, that it started to get under my skin. Brooke doesn’t want a relationship at the start of the book. She admits she’s rushed from bad relationship to bad relationship for years, and she feels like she needs time alone to figure out what she wants and who she is independent of a man. She tells Sean this repeatedly, and he tells her he totally respects that. But then all he does is push her to start something with him. Obviously, Brooke wanted him as well, and it’s clear the reader is supposed to recognize that Sean is a great match for Brooke (and he very much is). My problem isn’t even that Sean sticks around after she tells him she doesn’t want a relationship. My problem is that he says “Yes I totally get it” while secretly thinking “But I really want her so I’ll keep trying to convince her and then she’ll see the light.” I just don’t like it when books subvert the heroine like that. It reinforces the idea that if it’s “true love” it’s ok to push past a woman’s boundaries and ignore what she’s telling you. It didn’t feel necessary, and it didn’t reflect well on Sean in my mind.

Despite these issues, I truly did enjoy this book. It was well paced, a good mix of excitement and geeky investigation, and had a great central couple.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Tracers Series


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Guest Review: Shadow Fall by Laura Griffin

Posted October 15, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Shadow Fall by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Shadow FallSeries: Tracers #9
Also in this series: Deep Dark, Stone Cold Heart

Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars


Special Agent Tara Rushing arrives at a grisly murder scene and quickly discovers she’s got a serial killer on her hands. The killer is meticulous, making sure to wipe up even the smallest traces of evidence…but the Delphi Center experts are on the case.

The local sheriff has a suspect all picked out—ex-Marine and current security expert Liam Wolfe. Despite all her digging, Tara knows very little about Liam when she shows up at his sprawling Texas compound, which serves as headquarters for Wolfe Securities, and she’s surprised by her intense physical reaction to him.

As she and Liam grow closer, Tara finds herself depending on his skills and expertise to help her track a killer. But when another body turns up, Tara must decide if she can trust the man who’s quickly stealing her heart.

Jen’s review of Shadow Fall (Tracers #9) by Laura Griffin.

FBI Agent Tara Rushing is called in when a grisly murder is discovered, but her job isn’t easy. Local law enforcement are blocking her path, and potential suspect and world-renowned security expert Liam Wolfe is not making things any easier. When it becomes clear that this isn’t an isolated incident but a serial killer, the investigation gets more complicated, and more dangerous. Tara’s team, together with help from Liam and his employees, have to try to find the killer before they strike again.

I had some issues with the last Tracers book in the way the hero took away from the heroine’s agency and authority. Thankfully, this book didn’t suffer from the same problems! Tara is a tough, determined lady. She’s on the FBI’s SWAT team and can more than hold her own in any kind of fight. Even better, she’s smart and clever, both in her investigating and in her interpersonal skills. She gets tapped to head up the investigation team despite being less experienced than some others, and she absolutely makes the most of it. While Liam is incredibly clever in his own right and does get things past her sometimes, she can keep up with him, and I liked that. I also liked seeing her softer side. She truly cares about the victims and their families, and while she puts on a tough front to earn respect, she has a vulnerable side underneath. I enjoyed learning about her.

I didn’t make the connection until it was spelled out, but Liam is the brother of Mark Wolfe, the hero from book 5. I liked Mark, but I really liked Liam. My favorite thing? He thinks Tara’s sexy because she’s tough. When he finds out she’s in SWAT and that she’s very smart, he gets a major case of attraction, and he decides then and there he’s going to pursue her. Even greater, though, is that he wants to get to know her, not just get in her pants. Gotta love a hero who goes after what he wants! Like Derek in the last book, Liam is not particularly good at rule following, but unlike Derek, Liam respects Tara’s role in the investigation and, for the most part, doesn’t try to get in the way of what she has to do. At one point, Tara has to trample on their burgeoning trust a little (in a completely legal, justified way) during her investigation. I love that she does what she knows she needs to do, even though she’s aware Liam won’t be happy. I also love that while Liam’s upset, he doesn’t stay butthurt eternally like so many heroes would. He ends up accepting that Tara’s just doing her job. Don’t get me wrong; Liam is still a bossy alpha who does try to control things and doesn’t like authority, but he doesn’t steamroll and he doesn’t denigrate what Tara has to do. Instead, he does what he does to protect the people he cares about, including Tara.

The suspense plot is also well done. Griffin doesn’t shy away from violence against women, which isn’t my favorite, but her stories are exciting and gripping. We get to spend some time with the Delphi Center characters too, my favorite part of the whole series. I love hearing about the science behind the investigations. There are some good twists and turns in the story, and even though it’s not impossible to figure out, it still kept me tense and desperate to keep reading!

We get to see a lot of Tara’s emotional turmoil, but I wish Liam would have gotten to see more of it, too. Tara keeps a lot of her feelings bottled inside. She clearly has some pretty big trauma, but there’s not much open discussion of it. (Similarly, Liam doesn’t give Tara a lot of personal revelations, though that feels less noteworthy because the book more heavily focuses on Tara.) Of course, the timeline of the story is quick and they’re racing against time, so I suppose too many emotional discussions wouldn’t be logical, but I still wanted a little more of something. The short timeline also makes the ending a bit too quick for my liking. I felt like Tara and Liam were off to a spectacular HFN that would later turn into HEA, but only with some more getting-to-know you time.

This book is one of my favorites in the series, though, and well worth reading!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Pocket Books. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Beyond Limits by Laura Griffin

Posted February 9, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Genres: Romantic Suspense

1Jen’s review of Beyond Limits (Tracers #8) by Laura Griffin.

FBI agent Elizabeth LeBlanc is still caught in the aftermath of her last big case when she runs into the one man from her past who is sure to rock her equilibrium even more. Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn is back home from a harrowing rescue mission in which he found evidence of a secret terror cell on US soil. Elizabeth knows he’ll do anything to unravel the plot—including seducing her for information. And despite the risks involved, she’s tempted to let him. Together with the forensics experts at the Delphi Center, Derek and Elizabeth are closing in on the truth, but it may not be fast enough to avert a devastating attack…

I’ve been a dedicated reader of Griffin’s Tracers series for quite a while now. I love her strong, competent heroines and her exciting plots. While I did have a few issues with this book, it still satisfied my love for a good romantic thriller.

This book shifts away from the Delphi Center a bit, which is the privately funded high tech forensic investigation organization the series centers around. (We do get a quick glimpse of some of the Delphi staff, but they’re not really integral to the story.) Instead, we hear the story of FBI Agent Elizabeth LeBlanc and SEAL Derek Vaughn. Elizabeth and Derek first met in book 6 of the series when Derek spent a whole week trying to distract Elizabeth from investigating his SEAL buddy. They were mutually attracted, but Elizabeth was reluctant to start anything with a guy who’s never around, so they parted ways. Now, Elizabeth is on a task force investigating a possible terrorist cell in Houston, Texas, the same terrorists Derek had a run in with during an operation in Afghanistan. Derek sort of barges his way into the investigation, and both he and Elizabeth’s team quickly learn that the plot is bigger and more deadly than anyone anticipated. They are in a race against time to find and stop the terrorists before they can attack.

As usual, Griffin does a great job building a suspenseful story. Often Griffin’s characters are fighting serial killers or some kind of other criminal, but this book scales up the crime. This time, Elizabeth and Derek are trying to stop a large terrorist attack that could kill thousands. It’s definitely a different kind of story, but no less exciting. There is less focus on the science component than we’ve seen in the other books, and more focus on following trails, trying to anticipate terrorist plans/targets, and profiling. I did miss the science a little because I’m geeky, but I thought the investigation was logical and appropriately complex. The ending in particular was fast paced and action packed, and I didn’t want to take my eyeballs off the page! I also really enjoyed the romance portion of the story. I felt like Elizabeth and Derek were well matched, and they had some great sexual tension.

One of my favorite things about the Tracers series is that the heroines are so damn smart and good at their jobs. The heroes are good too, but they don’t always upstage the heroines like you often see in romantic suspense. Griffin has set the bar high in my mind, but I felt like this book veered more into the same-old territory of the hero being the actual HERO while the woman is just his support. Don’t get me wrong–Elizabeth is extremely competent and an excellent agent, but Derek often steamrolled over her and took charge of her job, which pissed me off. There is one part where he goes his own way in the investigation and does some things that could legitimately get Elizabeth fired, and she is (justifiably) angry with him. But instead of talking to him about it and him apologizing for his behavior, she sleeps with him and ignores what happened. I was so frustrated that Derek got off the hook and usurped her awesomeness! I guess I just felt like things didn’t need to be this way, and in fact it would have been more logical for Elizabeth to be the star and Derek to be her support. After all, he’s a SEAL, not an investigating agent. Fortunately, Derek does grow to respect and trust Elizabeth’s skills, too, but I don’t know why he had to be the star of the show.

I think even someone new to this series could absolutely understand and enjoy this book because there’s no continuing plot from book to book, and I encourage any romantic suspense/thriller fans to give the series a try. While I wanted to see a little more focus on the heroine, Beyond Limits is still a thrilling and compelling read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Reading Order:

This book is available from Pocket Books. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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