Sandpiper Cove

Sandpiper coveAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Hope Harbor #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third book in the Hope Harbor series brings the romance to a whole new level. Romance lovers will not want to miss this one.

Lexi Graham is the Hope Harbor police chief and is being pulled in too many directions at once. She has her son to take care of along with the residents of Hope Harbor, who have been dealing with a string of theft and vandalism.  All of this is more than enough to keep her busy and leave zero time for anything else, romance included.  With being so busy, she is caught completely off guard when she finds herself attracted to one of the victims of vandalism, Adam Stone.  To make matters more complicated, Adam is an ex-con.  He came to town after getting out of prison trying to make a new start.  When Lexi catches one of the vandals, she talks to Adam about trying to be a mentor to the boy who is going through a tough time at home and could use his influence.  Adam isn’t sure he is the right person to help the boy, but feels God leading him to try.   Together Adam and Lexi work to make a difference in the lives of those they can reach and see if there is anything left to make work between the two of them.

This story is one of second chances. Lexi needs a second chance at love and Adam needs a second chance to prove he can be a good person.  He doesn’t come to town looking for love and doesn’t think he deserves it either.  I like the way he doesn’t want feel as if he isn’t good enough for Lexi, (even though deep down that is how he feels.)  He has several people in town looking out for him who tell him that he doesn’t have to be the same person that spent time in prison.  He did his time and now he needs to be willing to move on from that.  I love the message of knowing it is ok to make mistakes as long as we learn from them and move on to do the work God has planned for us to do.  Sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up over things that we need to let go of.  If God can forgive us, then we should be able to forgive ourselves and move on too.  Irene Hannon is one of the top Christian Romance writers and it is for good reason.  She can weave good story with a message and characters we want to see happy. Sandpiper Cove has all of that and more.  It is the third in the series, some of the characters are the same, Charley is back and you can’t help but love him, and some are new.  You don’t have to read all to enjoy each separately, which is nice.  I recommend this to readers that love a good, clean romance story that will put a smile on your face.

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

Pursued

PursuedAuthor: Lisa Harris

Series: Nikki Boyd Files #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A plane crash, a kidnapping and more than one missing person will make this the hardest case Nikki Boyd has had to tackle yet.

When Nikki Boys flies back into Nashville, she tries to control her nerves. Flying doesn’t bother her; she is excited to see her boyfriend who has been away for over a month.  As they prepare to land, the woman sitting next to her is nervous about the flight and landing, especially as they end up crash landing.  Chaos quickly envelopes the plane while Nikki looks for her seatmate, Erika Hamilton who is now missing and no one has heard of her or will admit she was ever on the plane.  Nikki soon finds out that the man sitting beside her was an air marshal and Erika was set to testify as a key witness in an upcoming trial.  Nikki saw the look of panic on Erika’s face and knows she is in danger.  Without even taking time to see her family, Nikki and her team work together to find Erika and figure out the deeper, darker secrets this case holds.

This is the third book in the Nikki Boyd series and to me it is the best yet. The stakes are higher and the action is tighter than in the previous.  I think one of the things that made this one better was the fact that it was heavier on the suspense than the romance.  That is something that has become unusual for romantic suspense novels lately.  I enjoy romantic suspense, but they are typically not my favorite because they tend to go with more romance which takes away from the suspense.  The relationship was put more on the backburner with this novel making Nikki focus more on the case at hand.  Lisa Harris is getting better with each book and this is probably the best one she has written.  Fans of her work and who enjoy a good suspense novel with a little romance sprinkled in will not want to miss this one.

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

Deep Extraction

Deep extractionAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Series: FBI Task Force #2

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another great book by DiAnn Mills will keep readers guessing and turning the pages well past their bedtime.

FBI agent Tori Templeton is going up against one of her hardest cases, proving that one of her best friends did not kill her own husband. When she gets the call that oil and gas tycoon Nathan Moore was found dead in his home, she goes to investigate.  He had been receiving death threats and recently had a bomb go off at one of his rigs.  It is soon discovered that he was in fact murdered.  His wife is at the top of the suspect list, along with several others.  Tori is assigned to a task force to find the killer along with recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers.  Together they dig into the past of people they both cared about in order to discover the truth; but the more they dig, the more secrets they uncover and the more danger they find themselves in.

I always like reading a DiAnn Mills novel. It is a good clean mystery that I know I am going to enjoy.  The story here was good with several twists that kept me guessing until the end.  I liked that both Tori and Cole had to face the challenge of being connected to the victim and still be objective enough to do their job.  Mills did a great job of weaving doubt and suspicion onto several different characters making me question if they could be the guilty party.  I liked the oil and gas setting in Texas, I grew up in an oil town so this was easy for me to relate to.  I did question a few of the actions of several characters. Some of them just didn’t seem to fit with what I thought they should actually do in those situations.  Not enough for me to make more out of it than this slight mention, probably something that just bugged me and others might not even notice.  This was definitely an enjoyable read and one I will be recommending to fans of romantic suspense by a great author.

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

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Long Time Gone

Long Time GoneAuthor: Mary Connealy

Series: The Cimarron Legacy #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A charming western romance with action and adventure at just the right spots.

After the patriarch of the Boden family is injured in what appears to be an accidental landslide and sent to Denver for treatment, the rest of the family is left to handle the ranch and quickly uncover it was no accident. Justin Boden is now in charge of the ranch and after seeing his father hurt and now his brother Cole, shot and in critical condition, he feels in over his head.  The doctor trying to save Cole has an assistant, Angie Dupree, that is a distraction to Justin.  Angie came to town to stay with her aunt after her life didn’t go as planned.  Justin and the rest of the family must work together, with the help of Angie, who he is quickly falling for, and a few others to figure out who is out to get their family.  Things are turning out to be much bigger than they first thought and danger is around every corner and deadlier than they could have imagined.

The best thing about a Mary Connealy book is that it is a quick read that is enjoyable. However, sometimes the books can be unmemorable, especially when you read a lot.  It has been a while since I read the first in the series and didn’t remember a whole lot of it before starting this one.  In a way that is good because I can say that if readers haven’t read the first book, they will still enjoy this one.  It does help for some background information with the parents and what the family is facing.  But it is not completely vital to have read the first before starting this one.  I read these and enjoy them while I am reading them and then move on to the next on my list, whereas with some I hate to put it down because it was so good.  I liked the storyline of Justin and Angie, I could see where they were heading and everything felt natural for the characters as they got to where they needed to be.  I’m hoping the third book will go into Cole and his relationship to come, ( I could be wrong but I’m guessing he will fall for Melanie.)  I recommend this book to readers than enjoy a good, clean, historical romance with cowboys, action and a little humor sprinkled in for good measure.

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

The Orphan’s Tale

Orphan's taleAuthor: Pam Jenoff

Publisher: Mira Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Readers meet the first protagonist, Noa, in late 1944 Germany at a train station.  She has been put out of her home by her father after he discovers she is pregnant to a German soldier who occupied their Dutch home.  After giving birth at a girls’ home and having her baby immediately taken away from her, she finds a job cleaning the train station and living in a small closet there.  During her routine shift, Noa finds a train car full of Jewish babies.  One in particular calls to her because he resembles her own child.  Without thinking, Noa grabs the baby and runs away from the station.  She struggles in the cold snow of winter with a baby in tow before passing out from cold, exhaustion, and fear.  When she wakes up, the baby is in a warm basket with plenty of blankets and she is in a soft warm bed being cared for by a circus ringmaster.  He tells Noa he will keep her and the baby that she spontaneously names Theo, but in return she must perform on the trapeze with their current star, Astrid.

Astrid is the second protagonist.  She comes from a prominent circus family herself, but because she is Jewish, she is now in hiding.  Her parents have been taken by the Germans, and she does not know the fate of her brothers.  So far she has survived through her marriage to a German officer, but he had to put her out and divorce her per Nazi decree.  Now she performs with the circus and is NOT happy about having to train a runaway girl she presumes is a single mother.  Little does she know she and Noa will develop a very close friendship that will be her saving grace.

As the women get to know each other and develop a relationship through their close quarters and intense practice schedule, they share their secrets.  Things get worse as they travel to Nazi-occupied France, and there they put their friendship to the test as protecting one another becomes a matter of life and death.

Wow!  I am still reeling from this haunting novel of friendship and survival.  There are so many compelling characters that bring the story to life that it is hard to choose a favorite.  Astrid appears cold and unfeeling at first, but then we get to understand the hardships she’s endured.  By the end of the story, readers feel a real connection to her and experience a genuine hope for her happiness.  Noa immediately endears herself as she tries to save an innocent Jewish baby from certain death.  The ringmaster is a kind and caring person who not only wants his performers to be successful, but also goes out of his way to hide Jewish people right out in the open.  Peter is a clown bent on expressing his political views through his act no matter the consequence.  Each person has a backstory and secret that somehow gets exposed, often to the detriment of that person.  The characters are so well-developed and compelling that it’s hard not to relate to them on a basic human level.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about how the ending is a bit predictable.  Once we find out what Astrid has in mind, it’s easy to see how it plays out.  This is entirely a perspective thing as to whether it’s good or bad; I like to predict what will happen and then take gratification when I am proven right.  Other people like to be surprised right up to the very end.  Without spilling any plot secrets, I will say that even though I guessed the outcome, I enjoyed the parts leading up to it and the finale.

Even after taking a day to digest this book, I still find myself mulling over different parts of the story.  They all went together so well and made for a satisfying, if not haunting, scenario.  The author makes a point to mention at the end of the book that there were, indeed, circuses in Europe who went to a great deal of trouble to hide Jews during WWII.  This story, while fiction, is inspired by those events, and, in my opinion, did those events justice.  I cannot remember a time when I was so moved by a book, and I believe other readers will be also.

The book does contain violence and sexual situations, as well as adult themes relating to war.  There are some themes that may not be appropriate for younger readers or for those sensitive to the Nazi occupation in Europe.  Otherwise, this is a beautifully written book that shows the ability of the human spirit to overcome tragedy and make peace with the past.  I highly recommend it to mature readers.

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

When Tides Turn

When Tides TurnAuthor: Sarah Sundin

Series: Waves of Freedom #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A historical romance that is as frustrating as real love, which makes it all the better!

Tess Beaumont has always been thought of as just a pretty face, and she is tired of it. The Navy has recently opened programs for women and Tess decides this is her chance to put her brain to use as much as her pretty face has been in the past. It is hard work and initially she still must overcome the perceptions she has lived with all her life, but eventually the hard work pays off and she sees herself making a difference.  Love is the farthest thing from her mind, until Lt. Dan Avery shows up.  She has known him for years, especially being close with his sisters.  But when he shows up in uniform, something deep inside her stirs with feelings she hasn’t had in years.  She is determined to stay the course with her work and not let love get in the way.  Dan feels the same way, he doesn’t want love to distract him from his duties, even though he can’t deny the attraction he feels for Tess.  As things heat up in the Navy, there are also conspiracies Tess begins to investigate within her own circle of friends that put her in danger.

When Tides Turn is a book that I initially wanted to give up on, but I’m glad I didn’t.  The ending was well worth the wait; although, the first half of the book wasn’t my favorite.  I did not like Tessa until the end.  I think my problem with Tessa had to do with her attitude towards herself.  She had a problem with being seen as a pretty face and the way it came across to me was more of her being conceited and full of herself.  Yes, she might be pretty, but the way she kept thinking it and trying to keep it from being used against her in any way just rubbed me the wrong way.  And then, when someone she cares for calls her beautiful, she blows up and loses it, not the best way to play that scene out for me.  Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, especially the scenes with Tess investigating her group for spies and the danger that brought about.  I am usually very much into military dramas but that part of the story didn’t get me as much for some reason.  I found myself glossing over the parts on the ships and submarines to get to the rest of the story, it wasn’t as compelling as the rest.  The relationship with her and Dan was a little rocky and back and forth, which is very much like real life, making it more believable.  I think readers that enjoy Christian, historical romances will enjoy this one.

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

Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters

best-laid-plansAuthor: Amy Rivers

Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When life throws a curveball, hit it back!

Gwen Marsh has finally achieved one of her dreams of becoming mayor of the town of Cambria, Colorado. Just a stepping stone on the way to the Governor’s mansion.  But when she finds out that she is pregnant, things begin to fall apart.  The city manager is making her job miserable with her boyfriend Jason who worked in the city finance department.  Then Jason took a new job that required a lot of travel and they have been fighting a lot lately.  Plus his new flawless looking coworker appears to have a thing for him.  What else could go wrong?  Oh, wait!  Her estranged mother has suddenly appeared in town two weeks before her cousin Val’s wedding.  If she can get through the next two weeks, hopefully motherhood will be a snap!

I enjoyed this book much more than the previous, Wallflower Blooming.  I think that Rivers writing has improved and the story line flowed a lot better.  Plus, the tension between Gwen and Jason was a lot more believable as were the city politics.  Gwen is an exceptional woman who can accomplish anything that she puts her mind to and I believe that motherhood will be no exception to her.  She experienced a lot at once, but don’t we all know that storms come when least expected.  The book was also left open for Val to possibly be pregnant as well.  I wonder if we will get to continue on with these interesting characters.

There is some implied sexual content and mild language in the book. I would recommend this to mature young adults and up.

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