Knox

KnoxAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshall

Publisher: Stonewater Books

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Susan May Warren will not want to miss the beginning of the Montana Marshall series. This is by far the best I have read by her and am aching for the next installment!

After his father died, Knox Marshall knew he must settle down and run the family ranch. His dreams of becoming a professional bull rider put on hold so he can raise champion bulls for the National Professional Bull rider’s Expo. He has a good life on the ranch but starts to wonder if the best has already happened for him until he meets Kelsey Jones. Kelsey has a hard past, her parents were murdered, and she was beaten and left for dead when she was fourteen. Now she puts her past trials into her life as a country singer. No matter how far she goes though she can’t outrun her past to find the safe and secure future for which she longs. When she meets Knox Marshall, everything she has ever known is thrown out the window. With an exploding relationship and more danger around them than either could anticipate, this might be a recipe for disaster or the perfect romance in the making.

Susan May Warren is one of the very best romantic suspense writers on the market. Her Montana Rescue series is still one of my very favorite and as hard as it is for me to say this, I think Knox and the Montana Marshall series might just be even better. I absolutely loved the way she tied in characters from the Montana Rescue series flawlessly into this storyline. I can just see more of those characters popping up in future books in this new series. Tying the two series together in that way could be risky but now with Warren at the helm, she weaved storylines together that other writers wouldn’t dream of being able to make flow. It will be easy for readers to fall for Knox, as well as the other Marshall men, within the first few pages of reading. Knox is everything a cowboy heartthrob should be, and I loved reading about him. The chemistry between him and Kelsey was steaming off the page. Regardless of how much Kelsey wanted to steer clear of any romance, there was no getting past what her heart wanted. Her story line is one of my favorites. I was drawn in by her history and what she went through and how it affected her in the present that everything else flowed and kept me intrigued. I don’t want to spoil the story, but readers will be walking away from this wanting to throw the book at the wall (in a good way) and pacing the hall until they can get their hands on the next in the series. All I can say is if the rest in the series are half as good as the first, readers will have a new favorite author without a doubt. I recommend this book to fans of Susan May Warren and those that may not have read anything by her but love western romantic suspense.

I received a compliment copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Within These Lines

Within these linesAuthor: Stephanie Morrill

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A trying time mixed with a forbidden relationship makes for a great read!

In 1941, Evalina Cassano is an Italian American teenager living in San Francisco.  Her family owns a very successful restaurant and she has a bright future ahead of her after being accepted to attend Berkley.  But the heart wants what the heart wants and hers belongs to a young Japanese American boy named Taichi Hamasaki, the son of the produce farmers that help supply her parents’ restaurant.  The relationship is difficult enough as it is, but on December 7th, the Japanese strike Pearl Harbor and overnight America develops an anti-Japanese sentiment.  Tacichi’s family burn everything they own from Japan that night before the FBI interrogates them.  As the days continue, his family volunteers to go to an internment camp.  This will be a test on an already frowned upon relationship, but can their love remain within these lines?

This is a fantastic novel that explores the era of Japanese internment camps in the United States for young adults.  This was a dark time in our country’s history that is rarely brought to light because of the embarrassment of what was done.  This living situation were ridiculous and Morrill brought those to light in this book.  The hatred that was felt toward the Japanese during this time was misplaced at individuals who had nothing to do with the Japanese Empire.  I thought the author did a great job of showing this through a teenage relationship.  I especially liked how outspoken and hotheaded Evalina was (Italian for sure) and Taichi showed more characteristics of the Japanese culture with being more passive and trying to save Evalina the heartache of knowing just how miserable he really was.

Personally, I think that this book should be a welcome addition to middle grade reading classes.  It does a great job of showcasing the history and mixing it with characters that the age genre will enjoy!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions express within are my own.

Border Son

Border sonAuthor: Samuel Parker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The story of the Prodigal Son continues in a turn that will leave readers’ emotions spinning after the very last page. 

When Edward Kazmierski receives a phone call saying his son needs him in Mexico, he isn’t sure he wants to go. It has been years since he has even thought about Tyler. They haven’t had the best relationship and Tyler hasn’t been one to reach out to his father either. After the initial phone call, he receives another from a federal agent wanting information on Tyler and two men show up at his house wanting to know if he knows where his son is.  All this leads Ed to head south of the border where his son has started a chain reaction with one decision that causes a ripple effect of pain and destruction for everyone involved. Even though Ed is going to rescue his son, he is first going to have to prove to Tyler that he still loves him and wants to help him out of the mess he has found himself in and try and get them both out alive.

Samuel Parker has a unique way of taking a story we are all familiar with, such as the Prodigal Son, and reforming it as a suspenseful page turner. The story is one of redemption and self-sacrifice. Ed must be willing to sacrifice everything to try and save his son who needs the redemption himself to try and turn his life around. The dynamic between father and son played out well; even though Tyler knows he needs his father’s help he is hesitant to accept it after feeling abandoned for so many years. Now that they are stuck together and have to rely on each other to find a way out to safety they find that even though they haven’t been close in years, there is still a connection that can never be broken. With short chapters that go back and forth on viewpoints, the story reads quickly and clearly, more so than if it had been from one solitary point of view.  I am really enjoying books that go in this multiple point of view format because it gives so much more of the story and keeps the pages turning much quicker. There is a true feeling of fatherly love throughout the story with not only Ed trying to help his son but also Roberto feeling the need to help this young man who had once helped him. Each character brought their own sense of need to the story in how they interacted and helped the other for their own reasons. Fans of Parker’s other novels will be sure to enjoy Border Son. And if you haven’t read anything by Samuel parker I highly recommend picking up a copy today!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Hiding Place

Hiding placeAuthor: C.J. Tudor

Publisher: Crown

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Definitely interesting, but I wish it had been darker.

Joe didn’t want to return to his hometown, but after a brutal murder surfaces there, he feels he must because of his past.  He lies his way into a teaching job at the academy, which he also attended as a youngster.  Somethings have changed, but many things haven’t.  He knows he must confront his past and the awful things that he and his gang did.  Betrayal, murder, and suicide just scratch the surface.  But the worst day of Joe’s life wasn’t the day his eight-year-old sister went missing, it was the day she came back.

The best part of this book was the ending.  Not because it was finally over, but because it threw a great twist that I wasn’t prepared for as I thought I had it all figured out.  The first half of the book was largely character development and it developed several characters in a bad, bad way.  The second half of the book finally started to shed some light on the turning points of Joe’s past including what happened to his sister, Annie, what happened at the pit, and why Joe and his chums are no more.

I really enjoyed Tudor’s previous novel The Chalk Man because of how dark it was, and it really kept me intrigued in her specific style of writing.  Unfortunately, I compared this book to some other authors while reading it, so it took a bit of individuality away from it.  I wanted it to dive a lot darker, but it is what it is.  There is quite a bit of harsh language throughout, so I would not advise it for a younger audience.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions express within are my own.

Breach of Trust

Breach of trust

Author: Rachel Dylan

Series: Atlanta Justice #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Book three of the Atlanta Justice series brings the most powerful and emotional story to date.  Fans of the series will not want to miss this one!

 When Mia Shaw finds her friend and co-worker brutally murdered. everything she has known about the law goes out the window. She wants justice for her friend and vows to do anything in her power to put the murderer behind bars. Working as a lawyer, she knows how the system should work and hopes she can use that to her advantage to help the investigation. The man they arrest says he is innocent and hopes his friend, Noah Ramirez, a security tech expert can help prove it. Mia has to take over at work for the case her friend had been working on and soon learns there might be more to his death than everyone originally thought. Secrets come to light that have her wondering if she stumbled upon corporate espionage and much worse. She turns to Noah for help and even though they have a different opinion on the case. she is still able to trust his judgment and feels safer with him working beside her. Together they must solve the murder case and try to stay alive in the process.

 I have loved the Atlanta Justice series and am very happy to say that the finale does not disappoint. I think Mia might just be my favorite of the characters. Her emotion in this story made everything so much more real. Mia is the kind of character that feels deeply for those she cares about and brings that quality into everything she does using it to help her solve the most dangerous of cases. Noah was more of a grounded character that helped Mia navigate through the mess she finds herself in. The relationship between these characters was written well and I found myself rooting for them. I really love the way Dylan brings in her real-life law experience to make the story points realistic and play out as they should. Fans of romantic suspense will love this finale in the series. I especially loved the twist at the end. I can usually see those kinds of things coming but didn’t see this one and loved the way it worked out. I recommend this to fans of the series but also readers who haven’t had a chance to read any of Dylan’s work yet, this would be a great one to start with. Even though it is the third in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone without missing anything.

 I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Triumphant

The triumphantAuthor: Lesley Livingston

Series: The Valiant #3

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The last book in the Valiant series wraps things up better than readers could have hoped for bringing the series full circle. Fans of the series will not want to miss out on this thrilling finale.

Fallon and her band of gladiatrix sisters have won their battle and reclaimed the Ludus Achillea, but it came at a price. Cai, Fallon’s love has lost his Decurion rank and is now having to serve as one of Caesar’s Gladiators for helping in the uprising. Fallon is fighting for his freedom and learns that Caesar’s enemies are planning revenge. These enemies assassinate Caesar and leave Fallon and the others with no one to protect them and on a mission to save Cleopatra, who could very easily be their next target. They must work together to free Cai and get Cleopatra out of the city before the bloodshed spreads.

I have loved this series since the first book came out. The female gladiators are strong, resilient and determined in every challenge they face. This is the perfect series for young girls looking for strong female leads that face the odds and learn from their mistakes and adversaries to come out on top. Fallon has always felt behind her sister and trying to prove herself. In this final book in the series, readers see her come into her own and find a strength she didn’t know she had deep within herself. I love the way she is shown strong but also flawed and afraid at times. She relies on those around her to help her make the hard decisions and face the toughest of enemies. It took me a while to get through this because I had to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I needed soak in every word and detail to really get a connection with the characters and what is about to happen in the story. These stories really are the better stories that I take with me and remember long after I have turned the last page instead of looking back a year later and questioning if I actually read it or not. I would recommend that readers start with the first two in the series before reading this one, there is just too much back story that will keep this moving forward instead of seeming confusing. For readers that enjoy a great historical fiction with lots of action and strong female leads, I highly recommend The Triumphant, they won’t be disappointed.

Low Country Hero

Low Country HeroAuthor: Lee Tobin McClain

Series: Safe Haven #1

Publisher: HQN

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun romance with just the right amount of suspense to make for a great read.

Trying to protect her five-year-old twins, Anna George has left her abusive husband and fled to Safe Haven, South Carolina.  All she wants is a safe place to raise her girls and try and figure her life out. As she drives into the town, she finds what she thinks are some abandoned cabins and hopes to stay until she can get on her feet. She quickly discovers that the cabins are being refurbished by a contractor, Sean Dwyer, who catches her staying without permission. He is able to make arrangements with the owner for her to stay on the property and help him with the work. Sean remembers coming to Safe Haven when he was a young boy with his mother and two brothers to escape his abusive father. As soon as they arrived in town, his father found them and left with his mother, leaving the boys behind.  He wants to help Anna and her girls even though Anna is hesitant to ask for help. It doesn’t take long for Sean to fall hard for Anna and the girls, which scares him.  He has never wanted a family and now he seems to have found the one he can’t live without.

For me this wasn’t the typical romance I am used to and I loved it. The story was great, and I particularly enjoyed the way the characters came together at the right pace. They each had their struggles and used those struggles to relate to what the other might be going through. Anna was most concerned about her girls and how they would be affected with everything they were all going through. She isn’t looking for romance and after all she has been through it really is the last thing on her mind. Sean is a rough and tough kind of guy but shows a softer side when interacting with Anna and her girls. This is the first in the series and I for one can’t wait to see what happens next. There are a lot of secondary characters that need more fleshing out and can bring more life into a story already alive and kicking. Readers that enjoy a romance with characters with big hearts will love Low Country Hero.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.