Her Second Death

Author: Melinda Leigh (Check out the author interview!)

Series: Bree Taggert #0.5

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Release Date: December 7, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fast paced fun prequel to the Bree Taggert series that readers will fly through and enjoy learning more about a favorite character.

Bree Taggert goes to one of her first investigations as a Philly detective with her new partner, Dana Romano, a long-time veteran of the force who doesn’t mess around. A man has been shot in the head and when they go to notify his wife, they discover the couple’s five-year-old daughter was supposed to be with her father. Now they are on the hunt for a missing autistic girl. The case brings back memories from Bree’s own childhood that were traumatic and threaten to cause problems in her new job if she can’t get her own emotions under control.

This was a super easy and fast read. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery they were trying to solve. It is one that could have been fleshed out into a much longer story, but if that had happened, I don’t think it would have been nearly as good and would have lost readers attention part way through. Bree is one of those characters readers have followed and will want to know more of her origin and backstory, which we get in this short story. There is a great dynamic between Taggert and her partner that we get to see the beginning of and how it starts to flesh out. The chapters are just the right length with the right amount of information to give the reader the sense of what is going on without feeling lost. I love these little short stories that give readers a better look at the history of characters and give a better understanding on what they do and why they. I recommend this story to those that have read any of the Taggert Mysteries and want to know more about the characters, and if you haven’t read any yet this would be a perfect introduction to get you set up with a new series.

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

Want to read it? Click here for a giveaway!

After She Falls

Author: Carmen Schober

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One of the best books I have read this year! Not your ordinary Christian Fiction; so much good within these pages!

Adri Rivera had been on track to be one of the best in the world of mixed martial arts, but then she fell in love with a man that took all the fight from her. Adri gets pregnant and puts the world of fighting behind her until her husband’s abuse becomes more than she can handle. She goes back to her hometown to live with her uncle who raised her and taught her all about the world of martial arts. While she is back home, she runs into her old flame, Max Lyons. Max has opened his own gym in town and wants to help Adri, so he gives her a job as an instructor for the kid’s class. It doesn’t take long for Adri to get the itch to fight again and Max agrees to coach her. The more time they spend together, the more sparks start to fly causing them to confront their past to determine if they have a future together.

When I think of Christian Fiction, particularly Contemporary Christian Fiction, a fast action, MMA fighting book is not what normally comes to mind. This story is one of the best I have read all year long. I loved the interactions between characters from beginning to end, Adri is strong but has been beaten down for so long she has forgotten her strength, until she must protect her daughter who she cares more about than her own safety. The fight scenes were written so well, I actually felt like I was in the ring with Adri fighting and felt every blow she landed and received. Her relationship with both her husband and Max are complicated but that is also what makes them believable. This book had me gripped and on the edge of my seat until the very last page. I so admired Adri as a main character and the strength she had to find for herself. This is the type of book that I think many, even those that don’t normally read Christian fiction, will greatly enjoy. It is a true underdog story with romance and drama sprinkled in at just the right places. If you are a fan of MMA and fighting give this book a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

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

How to Murder a Marriage

Author: Gabrielle St. George

Series: The Ex-Whisperer Files #1

Publisher: Level Best Books

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A clever plot with fun characters and great dynamics between all that came on the page.

Gina Malone writes books and a blog giving relationship advice to others even as her own marriage is imploding. After she gives advice to one writer telling her to leave her abusive husband, the husband starts attacking Gina online. Her kids have left home and now that she and her husband have split, she dyes her hair, gets a nose ring and moves back to her hometown on the shores of Lake Huron. It isn’t long after she arrives that she feels she is being watched and strange things start occurring. Gina has a stalker, but is it her ex-husband holding a grudge, the husband of the woman who wrote to her or someone else entirely?

This book had great potential to be a clever and funny read all while being suspenseful at the same time. Unfortunately for me, it fell flat in a lot of places. It really wasn’t that funny; the suspense had its moments, but I also found myself just ready to finish the story. The blog exerts were interesting and could have used a few more to keep the story moving at a better pace. The relationship between Gina and Hugh was the best, I enjoyed their flirting and dynamic. Gina has a few scenes with her children at the beginning but nothing more making me think that could have been omitted and not hurt the story. This is the start of a series as the ending is left wide open for the next. I’m not sure that I will be diving into the next as this one was only mediocre. While this wasn’t the book for me, I do think readers that enjoy crime writing with a little edge to it will enjoy this one.

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

The Dangers of an Ordinary Night

Author: Lynne Reeves

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A deep, dark twisted tale that left me on the edge of my seat unsure of what was going to happen.

One night, after auditions for a school play, Tali Carrington and June Danforth head home, but they never make it there. The last anyone sees of them is surveillance footage of them walking away from the school. Two days later, Tali is found disoriented but alive and June is pronounced dead at the scene. Tali’s mother, Nell takes her daughter home and does all she can to protect her from all the harm the world tries to send her way, especially after Nell’s husband is accused of being involved in the girls’ disappearance. Cynthia Rawlins is a therapist that comes to help Tali deal with the trauma she has faced while Detective Fitz Jameson uncovers more crimes and deception involving many from the high school. As the web of deceit is uncovered, those involved must determine what length they will go to in order to save themselves leaving many lives hang in the balance.

This book was dark and twisted right up to the very end. The premise pulled me in and kept me engaged with Tali; however, not all the characters kept my interest though. While the story was good there was nothing there that stood out to me with a “wow” factor. The nice thing about this book was if all you read was the dialogue you would get the story just fine and be through it very quickly. The entire thing could have been condensed to a short story by leaving out all the unimportant fluff. Overall, this was an okay read but nothing that stood out as spectacular. If you want a quick and easy read that won’t take long and don’t mind a little harsh language, you will enjoy this one.

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

Heart of Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #6

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: November 23, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fabulous and fitting conclusion to a fantastic series that I can’t wait to read again and again!

After traveling back and forth through time on several occasions trying to change the past and keep the present and future from falling apart, Rembrandt Stone has a hard time recognizing himself. The world he has returned to is nothing like he expected and the watch he was gifted that has helped him travel back and forth through time is no longer working. Rembrandt must rely on a friend from the past to help save the future for all of them before it is too late.

First of all, I am so sad to see this series come to an end. I loved every single book and was worried that the authors would not be able to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. There was no need to worry, I am happy to say the conclusion is all that I could have hoped for and more! These books are short, tight, and full of just the right material with no extra “fluff”.  The stakes are at their highest for Rembrandt and those he cares about, which kept me glued to the pages. I fell in love with all the characters from the very beginning and each book brought more and more tension increasing my heart rate as it looked like Rem was going to lose it all. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up with this final book, a hefty task for even the best author, but the powerhouse team of David James Warren did it with ease. This is marketed as a Christian novel, but out of all the books this is the only one that really had much mention of God throughout. These are more of a clean read than anything else, no language or anything that would keep me from recommending it to anyone to read. I recommend this book and series to anyone that is looking for a fresh, fun, and full of the best entertainment there is. These books need to be read in order and over and over again.

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

Gated Prey

Author: Lee Goldberg

Series: Eve Ronin #3

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: October 26, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another great installment in the Eve Ronin series; fun, engaging and just the right length!

Eve Ronin is still having to prove herself as a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective. Even after solving several cases and working as hard as possible, many don’t believe she deserves her position. Her soon to retire partner, Duncan Pavone, is with her running a sting to try and catch a group of home invaders and thieves in Calabasas mansions. Their trap works a little too good, leaving the thieves dead and almost costs Eve and Duncan their lives. Even though the case seems closed, Eve has many unanswered questions and continues to dig deep into the case to figure out if anyone in the department could have been involved as payback for her takedown of corrupt deputies in the department. Eve refuses to back down puts her in more danger.

The Eve Ronin series is a fun favorite of mine. The characters are fun and realistic with their animosity towards Eve and how she got her position. It wouldn’t be real for me if they all took her in and it was sunshine and roses.  Goldberg did a great job of capturing Eve and her emotions through it all. Her relationship with Duncan is great and the playful banter that they have is fun to read. One of the things I love about these novels is they are just the right length, not too long, not too short. Eve is tough but she also shows emotions when she is by herself and doesn’t just try and play off the hurtful things the others in the department do to her like it is no big deal. Eve’s biggest flaw though is her inability to deal with her issues; she works too hard and tries to do almost everything herself because of her distrust of colleagues. Overall, this was a very enjoyable book, nothing stands out to make it great though. Eve needs to have some personal growth in the next book and I’m hoping that is the direction it will go. I recommend this book to those that like a good mystery that is quick and easy to read but doesn’t mind a little bit of harsh language.

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

The Good Kings

Author: Kara Cooney

Publisher: National Geographic

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dive into comparing Egypt’s history while paralleling today’s political landscape.

Many of us love the lure of Ancient Egypt, but why are we drawn to it?  Is it the artifacts? The civilization? Or is it the absolute power of the Pharoah’s that actually draws us in?  Join Kara Cooney, an Egyptologist herself, as she examines the rule of five Egyptian Pharaohs: Khufu, Senwosret III, Akhenaten, Ramses II, and Taharqa.  Cooney goes onto to explain why we are drawn not only to these Pharaohs, but also to those in today’s society who exemplify power.  She does this in such a way that she deconstructs their reign and brings them down to the human level whereas history often teaches us to refer to them almost as godly beings. 

Needless to say, this was not what I anticipated when I picked it up.  I thought it was going to be more based on describing their reigns rather than problems with a patriarchal society.  Even so, it was an interesting read to get a different take and make me look at things differently, both in the past as well as present day.

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

Mona Passage

Author: Thomas Bardenwerper

Publisher: Syracuse University Press

Release Date: December 15,2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The bond between neighbors can be as strong as family! Such a strong debut novel!

Galan Betances is a Cuban who emigrated to Florida when he was young.  The trip was terrible and although his whole family was supposed to make the journey, his mother grabbed his sister and jumped off the raft at the last minute, leaving Galan with his father who was determined to leave Cuba behind.  Several years later, Galan is now living in San Juan, Puerto Rico when he hears of his mother’s passing.  His sister, Gabriela, is still in Cuba and she is a simple person who cannot care for herself and family seem to want to put her in an institution rather than take care of her.  Plus, the Obama administration is changing the policy where Cubans will be viewed as any other immigrant.  His only hope may be to try to smuggle her into Puerto Rico through the Mona Passage, which is carefully guarded by the United States Coast Guard.

Pat McAllister is a coast guard lieutenant who has just taken a station in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  He patrols the open seas in a cutter built to outrun and overtake human traffickers.  His new neighbor, Galan, has been a tremendous help to get him situated around the town and takes care of him like an older brother.  Pat watched his own older brother suffer from his time in Iraq and wants to do his country proud, but when he learns of Galan’s problems, he knows he faces a crucial decision in his life.  Will he be loyal to his country?  Or his best friend?

What a storyline to begin closing out 2021.  Having spent a large amount of time in San Juan and Aguadilla personally, I jumped at the chance to read this story.  Needless to say, the author has either spent some time on the island himself or did some great research.  His knowledge of the way of life in San Juan was impeccable from who hangs out at which bar to what beer is served.  Not to mention the description of local cuisine made my mouth water. 

Onto the story itself.  It takes no time at all to become friends with both Pat and Galan.  So much so that you grieve with Galan and want to knock some sense into Pat from time to time.  The characters were well fleshed out and realistic.  The tension that built up during the end of the story kept the pages turning so that I couldn’t put it down.  Sure, there is some language here and there, but nothing that takes away from the story.  There were also some sex related scenes, but nothing overally graphic. 

Both main characters battle inner conflict throughout the book all the way until the ending.  Now, I’m really not a fan of the ending of this book. I get the purpose of it, but still.  It’s just not the way I wanted it to go, but sometimes an author has to do what an author has to do!

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

The Best Gift

Author: Walt Larimore, MD

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 16, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

More stories from Kissimmee make you fall more in love with this doctor and his family!

Walt Larimore brings more stories in his third installment of the tales from a small-town doctor learning life’s greatest lessons.  Readers who enjoyed getting to learn more about Walt and his family during his previous book The Best Medicine will yearn to learn more about them.  This book dives deeper into his time in private practice in Kissimmee and how he became a staple in the area.  From rodeos to storms to death of close friends, this book offers some guidance and insight for every reader.  Be sure to pull up a chair and a blanket because it’s going to be like you’re having a fireside chat with a long lost friend.

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

Crosshairs

Author: Patricia Bradley

Series: Natchez Trace Park Rangers #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Patricia Bradley’s newest installment in the Natchez Trace series is the best yet with more action, tension, and drama that keeps the pages flying!

When Ainsley Beaumont’s dream of a career in singing fell through, she joined the Investigative Services Branch and became a ranger. She is sent to her hometown of Natchez Mississippi to figure out who murdered a pregnant teenager. While she is investigating, Ainsley quickly becomes the killer’s next target and has to work with an old flame to solve the case. Lin Steele is a former FBI sniper that put his gun away after almost killing an innocent child. Linc can’t bring himself to pick up a gun again after what happened, but as the danger to Ainsley increases along with his feelings, he wonders if he will be able to help her without the use of his weapon.

Patricia Bradley has crafted an incredible series with characters that I instantly fell in love with and wanted to make sure they made it to a safe and happy ending. The plot was more intricate and detailed than past installments giving me a deeper desire to see these characters find happiness. As with most romantic suspense novels, our main characters have a history together and when they end up working together the old feelings get stirred up making things more complicated between them. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t; here I enjoyed the dynamic between Ainsley and Linc and how that shaped the rest of the story. The secondary characters brought out a lighter side to the story, especially Cora and the rest of Ainsley’s family, except her father, the tension between them was tighter and gave more depth to the story. This was the best of the series for me and even though it is the third in the series, each book can be read on its own without missing anything from the others to make the story whole. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy romantic suspense and want a good story that will keep them turning the pages lost in the action.

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