Charm

Author: Tracy Wolff

Series: Crave #5

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The fifth book in the Crave series is another great read that fans of the series will not want to miss!

What happened during the missing four months while Grace was stone? After coming to Katmere Academy, Grace finds that nothing in her world is as it seems. Now, she is surrounded by Vampires and any and all dangerous creatures she always thought were myth, the most dangerous of all is Hudson Vega. Somehow Grace ends up trapping Hudson and herself in her mind while she is stone. They are trapped together for months, but time doesn’t run the same while trapped in stone. The longer they are together, the more frustrated they become with each other while also growing closer. How are they going to get out and back to their family members and will they be able to do it before it’s too late.

For anyone that has read the Crave series, it is easy to fall in love with these characters and the story created. Tracy Wolff has crafted a world that fans of Harry Potter and the Twilight universe will love, and this latest installment will give readers an inside look at what happened when Grace and Hudson were trapped inside her mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but enjoyed the time spent reading it. While I did enjoy it, I wouldn’t say it was my favorite in the series; to be honest, it could have cut out two hundred pages and been just fine. Those two hundred pages caused it to drag some in the middle and had me skimming the pages at times.

The story of what happened with Grace and Hudson while she was stone is something that readers of the series have been wanting to know for a while now. The dynamic between these two is sensational, so much tension driving the story forward that it is hard to not fall in love with what you are reading. I did miss the other characters from the previous novels that added to the dynamic. Even though this series is marketed to teens and young adults, I would not recommend this to younger readers because of the sexual aspects and language. For older more mature readers this will be great addition to a fantastic series.

Everything is Just Beginning

Author: Erin Bartels

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 17, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bartels delivers yet another unparalleled story about friendship, conflict, and healing.

On New Years Eve of 1989, the world is changing and possibilities seem endless.  But for Michael Sullivan, its just another reminder of how his life is turning out.  After being kicked out of his band and apartment, he ends up sharing a room in his uncle’s trailer across the road from a sprawling mansion of a talented music artist and producer.  His uncle shares his name and goes by Mike, so when Michael stumbles on an invitation to a New  Year’s Eve party at the mansion and his uncle on an extended road trip in Vegas, Michael decides to test fate and go see how the other half lives.  While at the party, he meets Natalie, daughter to the music legends who live in the mansion.  Through this chance encounter, he learns more about music, more about this family, and more about himself than he could ever bargain for.

I love that Erin Bartels usually releases her novels around the start of the year because she sets the bar for what I expect of the year!   Each book is so different from the rest that you can’t help but be pulled into each new story.  Michael and Natalie’s story is just so good that you’ll want to read it again and again.  Set in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan in 1990 brings back so many memories of life and music during that time, I just loved it.

As with most of her novels, the emotion is raw and laid out bare for all readers to see.  It deals with some heavy things that people deal with today, not just 30 years ago.  It is so easy to connect with her characters and have them draw you into their story so that you feel more like a participant than an outsider.  This will easily be one of my favorite books of 2023!

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

The Lost Melody

Author: Joanna Davidson Politano

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Surprisingly entertaining with a dark premise that kept me glued to the pages.

Vivienne Mourdant’s father has just passed away and to her surprise he leaves her in the care of an adult ward she never knew about. Vivienne is a concert pianist and her life changes with this new revelation. The Hurstwell Asylum is where she is headed to see about the woman to whom she is now in charge.  The picture she sees is very familiar to her from dreams she had as a young child. Not sure what is real and what is actually a dream from her younger years, she starts to think maybe she is the one in need of the asylum.

Of all the historical romance novels I’ve read lately, this one is one of the best with the added mystery and suspense. For some this might be a hard topic dealing with history and asylums and the hardships that were imposed during that time. The way that Politano brought about this hard topic and used faith at such hard points was perfectly written. Vivienne is not only dealing with the death of her father but also the news of what she is now in charge of and how she is going to be able to deal with that. Not only would that be tough now but being set in the time it is for a woman to deal with all of that is even more difficult. Politano wrote all of this in such a way that the reader will not want to take a moment’s break to put the book down until finished.

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

The Rose and the Thistle

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A historical romance that will hit all the right buttons for fans of the genre.

In 1715, an English heiress with a powerful family runs off to the Scottish Lowlands to avoid the enemy. While there, she finds herself thrown into temptation and pulled by her heartstrings in unimaginable ways. When difficult circumstances throw Lady Blythe into hardships unexpectedly, things get interesting very quickly.

Historical romance is a genre that can hit the heartstrings of readers and this one did a good job of living up to my expectations. These books take a little longer for me to read because I enjoy researching the time periods to see how much research the author did as well. As usual, Frantz does an amazing job of portraying the period accurately as I’ve come to expect in all of her books!  The romance arc was nice and well written where I was able to see the characters act in a way that was believable and kept the story moving along. I would recommend this to readers that enjoy historical romance; however, if it’s not what you enjoy this won’t be the book for you.

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

Critical Threat

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Extreme Measures #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The third installment in the Extreme Measures series is another romantic suspense that will give readers exactly what they have come to expect from this genre.

Grace Billingsley works as a psychiatrist and behavioral analyst to help track down serial killers. When a new killer shows up with the same MO as a serial killer that’s been behind bars for years, prison psychiatrist Sam Monroe is pulled in to help with the case. Sam is the son of famed serial killer Peter Ramanos and is the one that turned his father into the authorities when he found evidence of him being a killer. Sam and Grace end up working together and quickly make a connection. Sam doesn’t want to get involved with anyone because of his father and tries to keep his feelings for Grace from growing. The more they investigate the case, the harder it is to stay away from each other and the more danger they find themselves in.

Lynette Eason has continued to craft a great series in book three as Critical Threat. I have been a fan of her writing for a long time and know I’m going to get a great story. For me though I was slightly disappointed with this one; right when it seemed the action was getting good and tension was going to be at its highest things just fizzled out. I had so much hope for how it was going to go, and it just didn’t reach it for me. I had a harder time connecting with the characters as quickly as I normally do with her books, but I just felt a little let down with this one. That’s not going to turn me off her books though; I will still quickly grab up the next one that comes out looking for edge of my seat suspense and hope that this one was just a fluke that it didn’t hit the mark with me. I recommend to readers looking for a light romantic suspense that will be a quick read not requiring much thinking.

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

Her Heart’s Desire

Author: Shelley Shepard Gray

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 3, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a fun story to kick off the New Year!

Mary Margaret Miller has always had trouble connecting with people, especially in her small Amish community.  So, she decides that she needs to get away and selects a bed in breakfast in Pinecraft, Florida, which will be much more pleasant than her snowy Ohio home.  On the bus ride, she meets two other girls that she begins to connect with.  When bad weather delays the trip in Georgia, they share a motel room, and their friendship deepens as they even stay at the same bed and breakfast in Pinecraft.  While there, they encounter two Amish men and a romance ensues, but appearances do always hold the truth as Mary Margaret will soon discover.

Amish fiction is not my usual go to genre, but this one was a good read.  With chance encounters and romance, it took the edge off some cold weather while I read (especially being set in Florida).  While an enjoyable read, it also featured some valuable lessons concerning forgiveness, especially when it is difficult to do so after you’ve been hurt. 

I recommend this book to people who like Amish fiction, contemporary romance, and an overall good story.

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

2022 Top Romantic Suspense

Our next genre has no shortage of picks to choose from, but only a few can make the cut. Any of these your favorites?

Top Picks: Stone & Willow by Ronie Kendig

I love the way Ronie Kendig writes, but some of the military thrillers I have read are very detailed and deep. This one was a little more laid back but also filled with tension at all the right places to keep the story moving. I read this one very quickly and enjoyed all aspects of it. This was one of those rare books I was able to see play out as a movie in my mind while I was reading it.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Runner Up: Life Flight by Lynette Eason

With each new book, Lynette Eason has shown that she is a powerhouse when it comes to romantic suspense and is leaving others far behind. I keep saying each new book is her best, but it is true, and Life Flight is leaps and bounds ahead of her others. Some books have the ability to make a movie play out in my mind while I read, but those are few and far between. Life Flight was a great movie in my mind that I hated to see it end.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Honorable Mention: Malicious Intent Lynn H. Blackburn

The tension was high from the very beginning and kept the pace throughout which made for a great and fun read. It will be hard for the next book to top this one, but I am not going to say impossible, I have learned not to underestimate Blackburn and her ability to surprise me with a story.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Honorable Mention: The Epic Story of RJ and York by Susan May Warren

If you have been a fan of Susan May Warren’s Montana Marshall series, you are familiar with RJ and York and their relationship. This series is going to make readers very happy seeing this fun couple go through all kinds of obstacles just to be together. These books have non-stop action with tension in all the right places and the right amount of humor between the characters to keep the story moving along. Fans of the Marshalls will not want to miss out on this one.

Read the full review here.

Order your copy today!

Pretty Little Pieces

Author: Carmen Schober

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 6, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Carmon Schober follows up her debut novel with another great contemporary read that fans of HGTV will fall in love with!

Georgina Havoc and her boyfriend Lance Broussard are the newest up and comers following in the footsteps of Chip and Joanna Gaines. But when their fairytale romance falls apart, Georgina comes up with the idea of reinventing herself and creating her own show by renovating a cottage in a tiny town on the outskirts of Tennessee. Having been billed as a package deal, Georgina now must prove that she has enough to offer the network without their star, Lance. The town and trying to get her show in order are stressful enough, but when her sister comes to town, things get even tougher. To top it off, she finds herself around Cassidy Stokes, an ex-sniper that quickly develops feelings for Georgina. While trying to pick up the pieces of her life, she must decide if she is going to stick with what she knows or trying something new.

Carmen Schober blew me away last year with her debut novel, After She Falls. I was excited to read her next book, Pretty Little Pieces. The hard thing is when an author writes such an amazing book it becomes difficult to follow it up with something as wonderful. Pretty Little Pieces was a good read but falls in a completely different genre than what I was expecting. The story of Georgina and all that she went through while Lance decided he needed time is well played out, it is written where it is very easy to dislike Lance and cheer for Georgina to come out on top. Schober has a way of writing characters with such depth that readers will be pulled in deep and not be able to look away until the story is over. Georgina and Cassidy had a great connection and I loved the way they are written. Georgina has gone through a lot in a very short amount of time and as a reader I felt for her deeply and that is the mark of a great author. I recommend this book to readers that love contemporary romance novels.

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

Inventions of the Heart

Author: Mary Connealy

Series: The Lumber Baron’s Daughters #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another fun cowboy romance from Mary Connealy! Fans of hers will not want to miss this one!

Michelle Stiles is still trying to stay ahead of her stepfather who wants nothing but the worst for her. She has taken refuge at Two Harts Ranch and finds herself alone with Zane Hart. Zane found a gold mine on his land but doesn’t want others to come try and take off with the gold. Just as luck would have it, Michelle is good with business aspects of mining and Zane wants her help but also wants to keep her safe. Trying to stay safe turns out to be harder than expected when Michelle is attacked and they realize things are only going to get worse from here.

If you have ever picked up a book by Mary Connealy you know what you are going to get: a fun romantic cowboy tale that will be enjoyable and entertaining. Any of the western romance I have read seem to read the same but Mary Connealy has a way of making these characters come to life and pull readers across the pages and into the wild west. Both of the main characters in this story are beautifully written and there is just enough adventure and wit to make the perfect mix. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy historical romance and characters they can see come to life on the page.

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

The Hidden Palace

Author: Dinah Jefferies

Series: Daughters of War #2

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: November 22, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next installment of the Daughters of War series brings new romances and twists that will keep readers intrigued to the end!

After discovering that her true father was German, Florence Baudin manages to escape newly liberated France in 1944 before she can be accused as a collaborator.  Travelling with Jack, an allied war specialist who Florence and her sisters help remain hidden from the Germans, she reaches his small village of Devon in England.  She soon travels to visit her mother, where she learns that she has an unusual request.  Her mother had a younger sister that ran away from Paris when she was young to the island of Malta.  Her mother’s health is failing, and she wants to make amends with her sister before it is too late.  Florence and Jack set off to Malta for a project of Jack’s and to see if they can find her aunt before its too late for her mother.

Twenty years earlier, Rosalie Delacroix left Paris to escape her father’s gambling addiction and parents’ overbearingness on her life.  After many days of travel, she arrives in Malta with experience as a cabaret dancer to earn her living.  While there, she stumbles upon a human trafficking ring that she attempts to break up.  She also meets the love of her life, who also ends up being a Baron.  Years later, the Germans and Italians bomb Malta relentlessly to break up the Allies stronghold in the Mediterranean. Rosalie lives in danger constantly and worries she may never see her family again!

Such an interesting read regarding the island of Malta during the World War II campaigns, but not focused too much on that.  It really depicts life more between 1925 and the start of the second world war.  Most of the books is split between Rosalie and Florence’s viewpoint until they finally collide at the end.  If you were a fan of Florence in the first book, then you’ll love this one as it is really focused on her story leaving France.

I really enjoyed the first book with viewpoints of the three sisters as well as their efforts to aid against the occupied powers to turn the war.  My favorite character was probably Elise, but she is not very present in this book, mostly in letters and then at the end.  However, it was interesting to continue to she how their stories play out with their mother and now her sister Rosalie and all that she did while in Malta. 

There is some occasional foul language throughout, but not much for the size of the book.  There is also a couple of sex scenes, but nothing graphic.

I recommend this book to lovers of the first but also to those who like learning about something new during World War II.

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