The Painted Castle

Painted castleAuthor: Kristy Cambron

Series: Lost Castle #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cambron does an incredible job bringing this series to a close!

In present day Dublin, Kiera Foley has returned home from a venture in New York working on art history. Her career and relationship both fell apart at the hands of the family she hoped to join.  Now working at the family pub, she has a patron that continually comes in every night, orders a pint of Guinness that he never drinks, and offers her a job proposal.  Emory Scott, also disgraced from the art world, has found what appears to be a lost copy of a famous painting of Queen Victoria.  This could be a tremendous find, but he needs Kiera to help authenticate the painting.  As the pair begin to investigate the estate that the painting was discovered, they find information linking the painting to two other time periods.  The stories that surround this painting begin to bring life back into the manor that was once forgotten.

Once again Kristy Cambon does a great job of weaving three stories that center around a common object, which is painting in this book.  The present day time period centers on the youngest of the Foley siblings, who has been mentioned in previous books but not met until now.  Kiera is young and has been recently hurt both emotionally and professionally.  She returns home to heal and figure out a new direction for her life.  Similarly, Amelia Woods, who is set in 1945 during the end of the second great war, has also been hurt emotionally by the death of her husband.  But her hurt is much deeper than just his death.  One hundred years prior, Elisabeth has been lied to her entire life and once she finally learns the truth, it shocks her to the core.

I’ve so enjoyed this series and am sad to see it end. Each story has centered around a strong female lead that isn’t looking for romance, but always manages to find it at just the time it is needed.  I love the history that she weaves into each of the books.  Readers will be able to tell that her passion is writing during the World War II era as it shines through each of the books.  The previous books centered around a castle and this one centers around an English estate, but still has plenty of charm.  I recommend this book to readers who love different history periods as well as great time slip reads.

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

Dark Ambitions

dark ambitionsAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Code of Honor #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Irene Hannon gives another terrific installment in the Code of Honor series. This book will leave you with all the feels long after you turn the last page!

Rick Jordan has tried hard to leave his army days behind him and is now running a camp to help foster children. During the winter, he has the place to himself and that’s the way he likes it until one night when he finds a trail of blood and clues which lead him to suspect a blast from his army past has come back into his life. Rick hires a detective agency to help him track down his friend and figure out what has happened. Heather Shields has worked as a PI since leaving the police force and is one of the best in her field despite the hardships placed in front of her being a female in a male driven career. When she finds Rick’s friend dead, she wants to continue looking into what might have happened even when Rick asks her to leave the case alone feeling it is getting too dangerous. The questions start to add up along with their feelings for each other.

Anyone that has ever read anything by Irene Hannon exactly what they will be getting when they open one of her books: action, undeniable romance, suspense and a great story. Hannah and Rick made an absolutely wonderful pair and I loved watching their story develop and grow as the story progressed. The story paced easily with plenty of tension and lots of page turning suspense. Over the years, I have grown to love Irene Hannon books. It doesn’t matter if she is writing contemporary romance or romantic suspense, the story is going to be top notch and fully enjoyable. While the story had many changing points of view, which might confuse some readers, I found it an easy way to keep up with all the different aspects of the story. Dark Ambitions is a great romantic suspense with characters that have more than enough chemistry to keep the reader attracted to their romance and pull for them to succeed. Even though this is the third book in the series, it could be read as a standalone.  Some of the secondary characters are from previous books but don’t play a big enough role to keep new readers from enjoying the story. I recommend this book to fans of Hannon’s and new readers alike.

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

No Judgements

No JudgementsAuthor: Meg Cabot

Series: Little Bridge Island #1

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Animal lovers and romantics will truly enjoy this book!

Bree Beckham has run away to Little Bridge Island in Key West, Florida, after suffering some major setbacks in her life. The death of her father and inappropriate behavior by a close friend have led her to drop out of law school and move to her favorite vacation spot, despite her mother’s disapproval. As Bree makes a life for herself on the little island as a waitress, she finds herself loving her new life. She has sworn off men and is enjoying her new found freedom.

As Hurricane Marilyn looms in the distance, Bree finds herself on the receiving end of calls from her past, her mother and ex-boyfriend begging her to evacuate. Bree is determined to weather out the storm. She finds herself drawn to the playboy of the island, Drew Hartwell, as she relies on the kindness of his family for protection from the storm.

After the hurricane, Bree finds a new passion in helping the pets who had been left behind when their owner evacuated, no judgment. This draws Bree and Drew closer as he helps her.

Bree’s past threatens to catch up with her and ruin her new and perfect life when her mother and ex-boyfriend arrive in Little Bridge. Bree learns to stand up for herself with the new confidence she has found.

This was a fun, easy book. Bree was a relatable character with passion for her new life.   Her chemistry with Drew is electric. The plot kept me interested and wanting to come back to the book. I feel that this book could have pulled on the heartstrings of the reader more by putting more emotion into the climax, but overall a great read.

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

Diamond in the Rough

Diamond in the Rough

Author: Jen Turano

Series: American Heiresses #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Witty, hysterical, and all-around fun story!

 Poppy Garrison is a social misfit.  She doesn’t feel that she truly belongs in high society and wouldn’t be a part of the New York Four Hundred if she hadn’t had to agree to her grandmother’s terms to help save her family from financial ruin.  Every step she takes towards becoming high class seems to land herself in some sort of unexpected fiasco.  Through it all she keeps her wits about her if she can manage to make it through.

 After almost being plowed over by Poppy during the Gypsy Quadrille, Reginald Blackburn wonders if he will see her again.  To his surprise, he is requested to teach etiquette to Poppy by her grandmother, who admires his British manners.  If their first encounter is anything to judge by, he just bit off more than he can chew.

 I’ll admit that reading historical romance set in 1880s New York is not one of my usual go to genres.  However, this book was downright hilarious to read.  The situations that Poppy found herself in were so comical that I often laughed out loud.  The wit displayed by both Poppy and Reginald made the book flow so smoothly that I just had to keep moving forward to get a little bit more.  Not in a suspenseful way, but just in a way that you want to keep that feel good feeling as you read.  The character development was spot on throughout the entire book.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Jen Turano, but I can see why so many people see her as a go-to author.  It is also the second in a series, but easily reads as a stand-alone.  I recommend this to readers who love historical romances and to those who just want a good clean story.

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

Fatal Strike

Fatal StrikeAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With a combination of FBI Snipers, murder using rattlesnake venom, and a budding romance, DiAnn Mills has crafted a thriller fans will not want to miss.

Galveston is being hit by a new kind of killer using rattlesnake venom for murder. A local gang called the Veneno is the prime suspect and the FBI calls in agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert to tackle the case. They have a witness that saw a body being left on a church doorstep but soon disappears. Without their witness, they don’t have much of a case. No one around is willing to help without the fear of being the next victim and the more Leah and Jon dig, the darker the motives become.  The more secrets they uncover, the more they have to face fears they didn’t even know they had.

DiAnn Mills says to expect an adventure with her books and that is definitely what readers will get with this book. The premise is gripping: death by snake venom, no thanks! My mind was reeling with what could be coming as I turned the pages.  Leah and Jon had a great story, I really connected with them and the feelings they developed for each other over the course of the story. The ending kept me guessing, which I love in a suspense novel.  I don’t want to be able to figure everything out quickly, I like those little surprises and DiAnn Mills always exceeds my expectations.

I have always enjoyed DiAnn Mills books and know I am going to get a great story. Fatal Strike was a really good story, but certain aspects of this story fell short for me. Leah had the ability to be a great female lead but the way her backstory was written didn’t resonate with me. If you take that out of the story, readers will have a heart pounding thrill ride. While this is not my favorite novel Mills has written, it was still a very enjoyable read and one I recommend to readers that enjoy a good romantic suspense novel with a great romance and a story line that will keep you up thinking late into the night.

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

One Final Breath

One final breathAuthor: Lynn Blackburn

Series: Dive Team Investigations #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Lynn Blackburn finishes up the Dive Team Investigations series with the very best yet! Fans of the series will have no choice but to fall in love with Gabe and Anissa’s story.

Anissa Bell, captain of the dive team investigators, has had a problem with Gabe Chavez since before he was on her team. He worked undercover and would only dive once or twice a year, not enough in her opinion to stay up to speed with the rest of the team. Anissa was a missionary kid growing up until she went to college and her best friend was murdered and the three-year-old child she was watching disappeared. From that moment on, she spent her time trying to solve the case leading her to be with the dive team and around Gabe. When an investigation surfaces into the death of a young boy on the lake, they must figure out how to put their issues with each other aside and work to solve the case.

With each book in this series I have seen Blackburn come alive in her writing. One Final Breath brings the best of the series and gives readers even more to love. The suspense is top notch, the romance is right on point and the story flows without even trying. Each character brings just the right amount of believability to the story to make it an easy enjoyable read. I loved everything about this series and am sad to see it come to an end, but happy to say it is a satisfying end. Gabe and Anissa have been mentioned in the other books but this one is devoted to them and their story, and oh what a story it is! Both have a past that wasn’t the easiest, but they use that past to fuel them going forward making them a great team. Each of the main characters from the previous books have a role here and it lets us see how those relationships have progressed as well. The ending was my favorite in every way. The suspense was at its peak, and the romance was there without getting in the way of the tension driving the story forward. This is by far Blackburn’s best novel to date, fans of hers will love the conclusion to this series. Readers that enjoy Lynnette Eason, Dani Pettrey and other Christian Romantic Suspense authors will want to add Lynn Blackburn to their list of go to authors. Even though this is the third in the series, it could be read as a stand-alone without feeling lost. This is one of those books I wish I could rate more than five stars. I highly recommend this to fans of romantic suspense and all those that enjoy a good clean, quick read.

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

Ford

FordAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: The Montana Marshalls #3

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third book in the Montana Marshalls lets readers glimpse into the life of Navy Seal Ford Marshall. Readers will love this strong courageous man that will stop at nothing to protect the ones he loves.

Ford Marshall went into the Navy to become a Seal and prove he was just as tough or tougher than his brothers, but when his twin sister RJ is in trouble, he must use every ounce of strength he has to not fall apart. The family finds out RJ has been accused of an international incident, but Ford won’t let anything stop him from getting to her. Knowing this isn’t something he can do on his own, he calls on the one person he knows will have his back, Petty Officer Scarlett Hathaway. Scarlett can help him get into the country and he wouldn’t mind one more mission with her before she leaves to be a Rescue Swimmer. If he is being honest with himself, what he really wants is to convince her to give the two of them a chance. Scarlett has complications of her own since her mother died and she has a little brother to take care of. Being single in the navy isn’t the best life for that and she is left with a tough decision to make. Thrown into the search for Ford’s sister, Scarlett puts aside her troubles and together they both must decide how much they are willing to sacrifice for love.

Ford is the third book in the Montana Marshalls series following Knox and Tate. Each of the Marshall men have their own strengths and special talents making them swoon worthy with Ford potentially being the most of all as a navy seal. He is strong, independent, capable and will stop at nothing when someone he cares about is in danger. The relationship between Ford and RJ was an interesting dynamic. Being twins, they have a special bond the other siblings don’t share, but that bond was damaged when they were young, and it still hasn’t been repaired. As a twin, I know how hard a strained relationship can be and the way Ford knew that his sister was in trouble and needed him is true of a twin relationship and the bond that can’t be broken. For me, this is not the best of the series but still a very enjoyable read. Fans of Warren’s books will surely enjoy the story. It read a little slower than the first two, maybe because of the setting and so much of it being in Russia just didn’t pull me in as much as her writing usually does. Even so, I was still able to get through the book quickly and can’t wait for the next in the series.

One thing about a Susan May Warren book is you know you are getting a good story that is filled with inspiration, romance, action, suspense and a good time. I recommend this to fans of her work and even those that are new to her writing will find the series enjoyable.

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

A Glitter of Gold

Glitter of Gold

Author: Liz Johnson

Series: Georgia Coast Romance #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fun, witty, charming, and pirates make for the best kind of summer story.

 Anne Norris is trying to escape her past life back in California.  A series of wrong choices landed her in places that she would rather never have visited.  As soon as she could, she packed up and moved across country to Savannah, Georgia where no one has a clue who she is.  She even started up a business as a pirate tour guide, but she isn’t making much and barely scrapes by from month to month.  After a hurricane passes over, she spends a morning at the beach and stumbles upon what appears to be a solid gold sword hilt.  If this is real, it could change her life, but also bring in unwanted publicity.  When she visits the local maritime museum, the curator is ecstatic and wants to find the remainder of the treasure but won’t be able to do it without Anne’s help.  Can she trust him?  Or is she better off alone?

 This was a fun quick read that was just perfect to start closing out the summer reading list.  Stories set in Savannah are always fun to take a stroll down the setting.  And when a pirate’s story comes to surface, that makes it even better.  I quickly fell into Anne’s backstory to understand why she was so skittish and lacked self-esteem, which became evident pretty quickly.  Carter was self-assured, but to focused on living up to his family name to actually enjoy life for what it was.  With a colorful group of supporting character, both Anne and Carter were able to grow both individually and together.  The romance never felt forced and was pretty predictable, but fun all the same.  I recommend this book to those who love a good summer read!

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

The Lost Vintage

Lost Vintage.jpgAuthor: Ann Mah

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fantastic story that is not easily put down until it is finished!

Kate has set her life to achieve one goal: become a master of wine.  Given three opportunities to pass the exam, she has already failed twice.  Now she is more focused than ever, but seems to be continually outfoxed by French wine, which happens to be her native homeland even though she hasn’t been there in years.  As the head sommelier at a local San Francisco restaurant, there isn’t as much time as she would hope to dedicate to studying.  But when the restaurant unexpectedly closes its doors, Kate suddenly has time on her hands.  At her mentor’s urging, she reaches out to her cousin in France to see if it would be ok to come for a visit.  As it is time for the grape harvest, he happily agrees and looks forward to seeing her soon.

Being back in France brings back difficult memories.  She and her cousin’s wife were college friends that visited France during a semester abroad.  One thing led to another and her friend stayed behind while she returned home.  Now she is helping clean out the family cellars under the house.  While much of it is junk that has been stored throughout the years, she stumbles upon some photographs in a trunk of a young woman she has never heard about but bears a striking resemblance to herself.  As she begins to pry into the family history, her uncle shuts down the investigation at every turn.  One day, she discovers a hidden cellar behind a false wall that contains numerous bottles of rare wine.  But will this discovery open a door that can never be closed?

This book taught me more about rare wine that I had thought possible.  I had no idea all the different requirements for storing, handling, and more that must be taken into account.  However, this wasn’t the most interesting part of the story.  That was the time slip portion set back in occupied France during World War II.  I love these stories and all that it brings out historically.  There is always more to learn and Mah did a great job on researching this topic.

The character development was spot on as well.  Kate was instantly likable and felt like a close friend, even though she tends to shut people out.  I enjoyed getting to know her better and was really pulling for her relationship to blossom.  All the supporting characters fleshed out great as well.  Nothing felt forced and even though there were some antagonists, it played out like a great story.

There is some very mild language throughout the book, but nothing that would take away from the story.  I recommend this book to people who love time-slip novels concerning World War II and those that just enjoy a great story.

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

Vow of Justice

Vow of JusticeAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Blue Justice #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Rating: 5 Star

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

By far the best book I have read by Lynette Eason and easily one of the best I have read all year!

Linc St. John has had some tough cases being a special agent with the FBI, but nothing prepared him for the heartache off finding out Allison, the woman he loves, is dead. Torn between revenge and justice, Linc works every angle he can to track down the killers. In his search, he finds something he never expected to find, Allison is alive. Linc is greatly confused as to how she is alive and what it all means. With no time to find answers to his questions, he and Allison must work together to stop a killer from her past.

Vow of Justice is the fourth book in the Blue Justice series and easily the best. The St. John family is a great group of characters that have been developed beautifully throughout the series. Readers have been waiting a long time to read Linc’s story and it is well worth the wait. Lynette Eason has crafted her best story yet. The emotional connection I felt with the characters is what kept me plowing through the story at warp speed. I know this is Linc’s story but I have to say I fell in love with Allison, the empathy she showed for the others around her and the way her empathy was used as a weapon against her was brilliantly done. I absolutely loved that aspect of the story. The character development and story arc is one of the very best I have read all year. Readers will without a doubt love the action, suspense, romance and overall story of Vow of Justice.

I have so much more I want to say but can’t without giving more of the story away and it is too good to spoil anything. Even though this is the fourth in the series it can be read as a stand alone, reading the whole series gives the reader backstory that makes each installment more enjoyable but it isn’t necessary for new readers to still get a great read. Fans of Lynette Eason’s will love this latest release and readers looking for a new author to add to their shelves will not want to miss this one, I highly recommend Vow of Justice.

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