DominicAuthor: Mark Pryor

Series: Hollow Man #2

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Not every main character is honorable. Sometimes, they’re just a psychopath!

Originally from England, Dominic has made quite a life for himself in Austin, Texas. He is a prosecutor with the district attorney’s office for Travis County and primarily works with juvenile cases.  He also is a local musician that plays at a lot of different scenes.  But only two people know that he is also a psychopath.  And the saying goes that three people can keep a secret when two of them are dead.  The two people are his special lady and her teenage brother, who also happens to be a psychopath.

When a cop starts poking around asking about Dominic’s involvement in a past murder investigation that left his roommate in prison, Dominic is afraid that his teenage protégé is going to do something stupid like kill her. So, when she is found dead, his thoughts naturally drift toward what must have happened and how this could all lead back to him.  With only himself in mind (he is a psychopath after all), Dominic begins the process to transfer all involvement of any of the crimes to someone else.

This is a very different, but interesting concept. I haven’t read Hollow Man, but don’t feel like I missed much, maybe just a little backstory.  I’ll probably go ahead and read it so that I can fill in some of the blanks.  Having the main character as a psychopath with no regard for human life is a little different from my normal reading genre.  However, it is interesting that the reader can still form a bond with him as a main character.  Its also told in an exciting way that makes the reader want to find out what he is planning.  Usually this would be told from the police procedural point of view, but this turns the tables in an effort to thwart the police from discovering the truth.  That in itself makes me want to continue with this series.  It also helps that I frequent Austin and I love it when scenes and settings can easily come to life for me because I’ve been to the locations that the author is describing.

There is some strong language used throughout the book, so I recommend this title for mature readers.

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

Garden of Blue Roses

garden of blue rosesAuthor: Michael Barsa

Publisher: Underland Press

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Milo and Klara, son and daughter of the famous horror novelist John Crane, immediately become orphans after their parents’ car slides off a slippery winter road and crashes upside down in a ravine.  Although they are both adults, they decide to stay in their family home.  Klara, now the executor of the estate,  is licking her wounds after a divorce and unsuccessful stint teaching at a reform school.  Milo returns from college and settles into his own world of building model boats and other structures.  Both just slide from day to day in their own little worlds until Klara decides to hire a gardener referred to her by one of the prominent ladies of their small town.  Milo immediately suspects the gardener, Henri, of something… but he can’t put his finger on it.  As he finally does, he reveals many haunting family secrets.

Klara is rather eccentric.  Milo has something not right about him.  As the book moves on, it becomes abundantly clear just what their issues are: their parents.  Their mother is a raging alcoholic.  Many of their father’s plots mimic real life, and in many cases, the real life of Milo and Klara.  Milo realizes that Henri is living the life of one of his father’s most evil characters, Keith.  Klara of course dismisses it as part of Milo’s unusual personality, but maybe Milo really is on to something.

A slow burn.  The majority of the reviews I read about this book (after I read it, of course) described this story using that exact phrase.  It fits perfectly.  I was about halfway through the book and knew a lot at this point about Klara and Milo, but not much about what was happening.  Then, out of nowhere, things began to happen.  The majority of well-written story was a setup for what was about to happen next, and when it did, it shot off like a rocket.  The next thing I knew, all kinds of things were happening and even more excitement was building as I was swept into Milo’s and Klara’s past, which was much more of a horror story than anything their father could have written.

I am all about action and moving along in a story, but every now and again a book so well-written and so engaging comes along that you want to savor each and every word.  That was definitely the case for me with Garden of Blue Roses, and Michael Barsa earned his numerous five-star reviews with this one.  The plot is engaging and the writing almost exotic.  One can’t help but sit on the edge of one’s seat for not only the plotline but the language in this book.  The ending did not fail to impress me, and it definitely was not what I was expecting.  I heartily recommend this book!

True to gothic writing, the majority of the book doesn’t mention anything graphic, but rather relies on scenery to spook the reader.  However, there are several sections that do give a horrific picture of child abuse and more.  Faint-of-heart readers may not find this book to be as engaging or captivating as I did, but those who are into a good scare with a just a few grisly scenes will delight in it as much as I did.

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

Justice Betrayed

Justice BetrayedAuthor: Patricia Bradley

Series: Memphis Cold Case #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With Elvis impersonators, unsolved murders, and an unstable murderer, Justice Betrayed is bound to leave readers all shook up!

Detective Rachel Sloan thinks she is ready for whatever comes her way until an Elvis impersonator comes asking for her help. Vic Vegas knew her before her mother died and wants Rachel to help look into a cold case that might even be related to what happened to her mother.  When Vic’s house is broken into and trouble follows the case, Rachel starts to think there might be more to this case than she or anyone else originally thought.  As things heat up in the case, so does the tension between Rachel and her Lieutenant, Boone Callahan.  They had a small spark between them once but were not able to pursue the relationship being in the same unit at the department.  Trying to solve the case will take them working together and putting aside any differences they might have in order to stop a potential serial killer from claiming any more victims.

Patricia Bradley has found a knock-out formula for romantic suspense with the Memphis cold case series. The characters are real and easy to relate to and the story itself is one that readers will enjoy to the end.  I found Rachel a great lead, she was sure of herself but not cocky. She went after what she wanted even if others around her didn’t agree with her decisions and she followed her heart and stayed true to that.  I didn’t want to like Boone at first but it didn’t take long at all for him to grow on me and find myself not only routing for him but also the relationship between the him and Rachel.  It was a fun mystery with the cold cases and the relationship between that and the murder of Rachel’s mother.  I’m sure there is an entire circuit of people devoted to that and cases within as well so I enjoyed seeing how Bradley brought the story to life.  This is one of those books that fans of not only Patricia Bradley but fans of romantic suspense in general will enjoy and want to continue the series to see what happens with the characters and what other cold cases they can try and solve.

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

A Rebel Heart

A Rebel heartAuthor: Beth White

Series: Daughtry House #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

It is obvious through every page that Beth White has done her research and turned A Rebel Heart into a must read for lovers of historical fiction.

It’s been five years since the War Between the States ended and Selah Daughtry has worked day in and out to keep herself and her family safe, and fed. Their land is about to go under in debt and giving it up is the last thing she wants to do.  When it seems like all hope is lost Levi Riggins, a former union cavalryman comes and starts to investigate some inconsistences and possible sabotage to the Daughtry family land.  Selah doesn’t know if she can trust him when he tells her he can help save her land if she agrees to turn the family home into a hotel.  Trusting Levi is the only option she has, what she didn’t expect was her heart to fall for him during this difficult time when love is the last thing she is looking for.

A Rebel Heart is the perfect book for lovers of historical fiction. With the setting in Mississippi and the family struggling to keep their land and each other together, the tension mounts quickly as the fight to keep what is theirs together.  The connection between Levi and Selah is immediate and you know the tension between them is going to build to a romance they won’t be able to turn away from.  I enjoyed the way Levi worked to keep his mission a secret and still do the work he was there to do.  It was hard for him to keep his distance when he obviously wanted to be with Selah.  The book kept a good pace throughout and I enjoyed the way it played out at the end leaving room for more to come but wrapping things up nicely.

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

Lone Witness

Lone WitnessAuthor: Rachel Dylan

Series: Atlanta Justice #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An edge of your seat thriller in the world of white-collar crimes and gangs. Rachel Dylan has crafted a page-turner that must be read!

Sophie Dawson has recently been appointed to the White Collar division as a prosecutor and is intrigued at the idea of diving deeper into these crimes that affect so many. She is working on a case against a local bank employee who seemed to be cheating his clients out of money.  In the middle of preparing for this case, she becomes the lone witness to a double murder with a member of a local gang leaving her far from the white-collar crimes she was working on.  She needs security to stay safe, so her father hires former Atlanta police officer Cooper Knight, who is working in private security to be her protector.  Sophie refuses to back down, even after her life is in danger more than once.  Cooper works every angle he can think of to keep her safe while trying to avoid the growing feelings he can’t deny between the two of them.

Rachel Dylan’s background in law makes her work writing legal thrillers the perfect combination. At times, the legal jargon and courtroom scenes can slow the pace a bit but are necessary for the story and characters.  Sophie may not want to admit it, but she is scared for what might happen as she pursues justice and tries to prove that she will not be walked over.  There were several nice twists throughout, especially towards the end that caught me by surprise, not an easy thing to do either.  I usually see the twists coming but this one did surprise me.  The romance between Cooper and Sophie felt slightly forced at times but when put in a high stress situation it does make sense that feelings could escalate quickly.  It is easy to think of crimes and exclude white-collar crimes because the physical damage isn’t seen, but it still affects many people and doesn’t need to be discounted for lack of visible carnage.  Overall I really enjoyed Lone Witness and recommend it to fans of legal thrillers and romantic suspense.

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

A Bundle of Colorful Yarns

A bundle of colorful yarnsAuthor: Louis Winslow

Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing

Release Date: March 21, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Eclectic is about the only word that you can describe this collection of short stories!

This book has several short stories that are enjoyable, different, and sometimes outright weird. These range from a story about a group of people hiking to an area in Mexico, a story about a vampire and wolfman, an abduction story, as well as story about the lottery.  Some of the stories are pretty straightforward, just a glimpse into a day of the life of the main character.  Other stories are really odd and we will just leave it at that for each reader to interpret for themselves.

Overall it was a very enjoyable collection because the stories were so different. Some of the stories had overlapping characters, which developed some of the characters a little bit more.  The stories range from three or four pages up to twenty pages.  If you are a fan of reading short stories that are a mixture of characters and themes, this book is for you.

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

Cutting Edge

Cutting EdgeAuthor: Ward Larsen

Publisher: Forge Books

Release Date: January 23, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A new type of super soldier that is hard to wrap your mind around!

Trey DeBolt is a young rescue swimmer with the coast guard stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. While out on a rescue, severe weather causes his team’s helicopter to crash.  Everyone is killed, including Trey, or so it says on paper.  Sometime later, Trey wakes up in a cottage in Maine with a personal nurse.  She fills him in on some of the details of what has happened, but will provide very little information.  She oversees Trey’s physical recovery and explains about the brain surgery that was required to save his life.  One night while Trey is outside, a team of combat men show up and murder the nurse.  As they try to find him, Trey dives in the freezing north Atlantic water and manages to swim away before they can kill him too.  Now Trey has no money, no phone, no place to go, and no idea what is going on.  However, he is starting to discover that he has new abilities.  He can ask questions of his mind and discover details about people and places that he shouldn’t know.  It’s almost as if his mind has full access to the internet.  Is this why those men wanted to kill him?

Shannon Lund is a civilian officer with the coast guard investigative service (CGIS). While looking into the accidental climbing death of a coast guard member, things start to resurface for the case of Trey DeBolt.  A private Lear jet took DeBolt to a hospital instead of an air ambulance.  Further investigating tells her that it didn’t go to Anchorage as they were told, but changed the flight plan to Minneapolis and then dropped below 18,000 feet to go visual flight so they wouldn’t be tracked.  Then she receives a call from a detective in Maine that Trey’s fingerprints have been found out a doorknob to a cottage by the coast that was destroyed in an explosion.  Lund’s decision to further investigate could be the end of her career.

This was a new idea of a technological thriller. I enjoyed the way that Larsen played it out with Trey by slowly building up his abilities and scaring him half to death.  It made it feel much more realistic than just suddenly having the full abilities at once.  There was definitely some cat and mouse games going one with some of the characters, which made the story keep going strong in several places.  The main characters were well developed, but sill flawed enough to keep it real.  The plot was exciting and changed once or twice to keep me on my toes.  And the twist was a surprise, but shouldn’t have been unexpected.

If you are looking for a new type of thriller, give this book a try . Then grab the Assassin series!

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