Labyrinth of Lies

Author: Irene Hannon

Series: Triple Threat #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fabulous romantic suspense by Irene Hannon, her best yet!!!

After the disappearance of a young girl attending an exclusive boarding school and some shady drug dealings in the area, Detective Cate Reilly is asked to go undercover. As she gets to the school and does some digging, she discovers that not everything is as it seems from the outside at the prestigious Ivy Hill Academy. What she never dreamed of is that the one man she fell in love with and broke her heart years ago is also undercover at the school. Zeke Sloan is working for the DEA to uncover the source of a drug ring close to the school. The second he sees Cate his heart stops, he never forgot the woman who stole his heart, and this is the last place he expected to run into her. Together, they work to solve their two cases that become more intertwined as the investigation heats up.

I have read a lot of Irene Hannon books over the years, but I have to say this is going to take the top spot out of all her books for me. The premise hooked me right away. I loved the idea of a female detective that is always mistaken for someone much younger than they are and able to use that to their advantage to go undercover like this. Right away, I was able to connect with Cate and everything she was trying to do. I believed in her mission and her ability to pull it off, I was invested! Zeke took me a little longer to connect with, not much though, his feelings for Cate jumped off the page at me and made me want to see them together. It was difficult to identify the villain and I was pleasantly surprised with how it all played out in the end.

With romantic suspense I usually have a pretty good idea how it is all going to play out, which can cause me to lose my interest partway through, but with this book, I was invested and had trouble putting it down. By far this is my favorite Irene Hannon book and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! I recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense, even though it is the second in a series you don’t have to read the first to enjoy this one.

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

Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Tari Faris

Series: Restoring Heritage #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you loved the first two books in this series, you’re in for a treat with the third!

After spending a few years in Costa Rica helping her brother’s mission organization, Leah Williams returns to her hometown of Heritage, Michigan, keen on revitalizing her grandfather’s business: The Want It Find It store, abbreviated WIFI for short.  Sure, the acronym is a bit misleading, but she can’t help but want to try to make it as grand as it was for her as a kid.  When she goes to the bank to get a loan, she expects to meet with Dale Kensington, who is well known throughout town and a hard nose for business.  Instead, she finds that she is working with his nephew Jon, who made her life in high school insanely difficult.  She tries to find anyway that she can avoid him, but utterly realizes that she will have to put their differences in the past and work alongside him as a business partner.  Can this relationship get any worse?

So, if you’ve read the first two books, then you know how the formula is going to for in this series:  two relationships spring up between people that you would least expect that have to reconcile their differences to make it work.  Two of the people are from Heritage and the other relationship has one from Heritage and one outside.  Ultimately something happens from the past that jeopardizes one of the relationships, but then the “wronged” person learns something they did for them that makes them realize they love them and BAM, you have a future marriage.  All that said, the story lines of the characters are all different and each resonates differently with readers.  I love the return of Madison Westmore from the first book, who was such a disliked character.  Her maturity and backstory will soften readers’ hearts towards her and make all enjoy the story!

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

Trace of Doubt

Author: DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With a fantastic protagonist and plot DiAnn Mills sucked me in to this story and held me tight!

It’s been fifteen years since Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and spent that time in prison. After being released on parole, she moves to the small town of Valleysburg, Texas to start over, but starting over won’t be as easy as she had hoped. When she was first convicted, FBI agent Denton McClure was a rookie working on her case. Shelby might have been convicted of murder, but she was also suspected of embezzling half a million from her brother-in-law’s non-profit organization. Now, Denton moves to Valleysburg to try and gain her trust and find out what happened to the money from all those years ago. The more time he spends with Shelby, the less he thinks she was responsible for taking the money and now she is receiving threats if she doesn’t disappear or commit suicide. In a case where nothing is as it seems, Shelby is now in a fight for her life and Denton isn’t sure who the villain is anymore.

This book had an absolutely fantastic start with a wonderful protagonist and plot that intrigued me and had me cheering for Shelby. She quickly became one of my favorite characters for the year and I love the plot.  At least, I love it all until about 80% of the way through the book.  Up to that point the story had me, I believed it all and couldn’t wait to see what would happen. Then I felt like we went from fiction to more far-fetched fiction and while still enjoyable, it just lost its believable quality. I love DiAnn Mills writing, her last book was her best by far, and I was hoping this one was going to surpass until things took a bit of a left turn. I realize that it’s all fiction, but her stories have always had such a believable quality to them that I feel like I’m one of the minor characters throughout the book. I’ve talked about this book with several of my reader friends who have also read it and while they noticed the same thing, they didn’t feel that it took as much away from the store.  I do think romantic suspense lovers will still enjoy the story and I’ll be curious to get their thoughts on the ending.

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

Under the Bayou Moon

Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An easy, enjoyable historical romance.

Intent on escaping her family’s expectations, Ellie Fields decides to branch out in faith and take a teaching position in the small town of Bernadette, Louisiana, far from her family’s home in Alabama.  But soon after arriving, she begins to question her decision.  There are only two teachers in the whole school and her furnished home turns out to be a cabin without any electricity, but at least it has indoor plumbing.  Deciding to make the best of it, Ellie starts teaching several Cajun children whose previous teachers have punished them for speaking French as English is the language that they should be speaking.  She quickly falls in love with the children and may become attached to a local fisherman before she has the chance to depart.

Overall, this is a good historical romance story set in the Louisiana bayou.  Part of the backstory deals with a hurricane, which is sobering considering the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.  The story is heavy on the emotional end for Ellie’s character because she is coming into her own without her family and making a new family in a new place.  She finds herself in some precarious situations, but overall, there is not a lot of tension to push the story forward at a rapid pace.  This particular story is one to slow down and enjoy.  I recommend this to readers who enjoy a slower pace with a love story that plays out without drama.

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

Beyond the Tides

Author: Liz Johnson

Series: Prince Edward Island Shores #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Johnson returns to PEI in her new series and fans will not be disappointed!

Meg Whitaker’s mother’s health has been deteriorating for several years and when her father decides he needs to stay home to be with her, she is shocked to learn he is going to sell his lobster fishing business.  Meg never had an interest in the business and loves her profession as a teacher, but when she learns he is going to sell it to the one person who single handedly crushed her dreams of attending an Ivy league university, she decides to convince her dad to sell to her to keep it in the family.

Oliver isn’t proud of his past and he is now trying to make an honest living so that he, his mom, and his younger brother can keep their home.  After working for the Whitaker’s lobster fishing business for years, he can’t believe that Mr. Whitaker has selected him as the individual to buy his business.  After scraping and saving to make the down payment, the one thing he didn’t expect was Meg to try to buy it first. 

Meg’s dad arranges a solution that neither finds appealing yet must do if they want the business.  During lobster season, the two must work together to operate the business and then he will make his decision on who will buy it.  Although cut from different cloths, they begin to find similarities and that they need to rely on each other for more than just the business.

Leave it to Liz Johnson to find two polar opposite personalities that can’t stand one another and put them in a situation that makes them confront their past to discover the truth.  There is a lot to unpack in this first series installment and I can’t wait to see how the others play out.  I’m guessing that it will be a trilogy that show cases Oliver and his two brothers set in the beautiful coast of Prince Edward Island.  Johnson does such a great job of descriptive scenery that readers will feel they are walking through town or tasting the sea air while about the Pinch

Readers will fall in love with Meg and Oliver’s story and enjoy watching the romance slowly develop as well as both characters arc to their intended storyline.  Both characters are stubborn, but as iron sharpens iron, they bring out the best in each other. 

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

Provenance

Author: Carla Laureano

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Such a fun redemption story set in the high altitude of Colorado.

Kendall Green is an interior designer with a specialty in historic preservation who is in high demand for her work.  However, most people don’t know her past; she was abandoned in Denver as a little girl and shuffled through the foster care system.  Once she aged out of the system, she chose a path and never looked back.  Returning from a business trip in Europe, she opens a letter addressed from the town of Jasper Lake, Colorado.  Her grandmother passed away and she has been named the sole heir of her property.  Surprised that she had a family member who knew who she was, yet overjoyed this could be just what she needs to finally purchase her Southern California property and take her business to the next level.

Upon arrival in Jasper Lake, Kendall meets young mayor Gabe Brandt.  She discovers that the town is close to ruin due to previous flooding disasters and a developer wants to build a new resort but needs her property for the lake front access.  Gabe wants to try to save the town without the resort and has tried multiple ways, but nothing has worked.  He hopes that he can sway Kendall to keep the property so that the resort plans cannot move forward.  However, she has no interest in doing that until she sees the five historic houses on the lot.  Will Gabe be able to convince Kendall to help save the town?  Can Kendall stomach the demolition of such unique houses even if it saves her business?

There is nothing quite like a fun, contemporary romance with lots of friction between the two main characters and even more tension surrounding them.  Throw in a redemption story aspect and you’ve got yourself a signature Carla Laureano novel.  I loved going back to Colorado in this series with a nod to the Solid Grounds Coffee Company (be sure to give a shout out when you spot it).  I was kind of hoping for Brunch at Bittersweet Café one day, but maybe it will show up in the future.

Kendall was a difficult character to get to know.  She shuts everyone out (even the reader at times) with her feelings because she has been hurt so badly in the past.  She has no memory of what happened and has felt abandoned all her life.  Interestingly enough, she finds it easier to confide in Gabe about her past and tells him more than anyone else she has met.  I loved seeing her transformation throughout the story and discovering the power of being an adopted child of God. 

Gabe is a fixer and wants to have a hand in solving every problem he encounters.  He has difficulty sitting back and letting other people figure things out, even God.  So, to see him become humble in this book was really intriguing.  I loved the supporting characters and hope that there might be a couple future installments with their stories (fingers crossed!) 

The romance wasn’t forced in the story, and frankly I got a little worried if it was even going to play out, but I think readers will be quite satisfied with the conclusion! I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Hostile Intent

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Danger Never Sleeps #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic installment in the Danger Never Sleeps series! Lynette Eason has done it again with Hostile Intent; her writing puts her on a whole new level with this series. No better time for readers to discover one of the very best in romantic suspense!

After entering the Navy shortly after high school, Ava Jackson has spent several years honing her skills, but finds herself having to take an early discharge when her mother falls ill and needs her. Her father is gone after disappearing while deployed. Ava spends as much time as she can at the care facility with her mother, refusing to let her die alone. One night after a visit, Ava is attacked in the parking lot. Her friend and FBI agent, Caden Denning, shows up just in time to fight of her attacker and save Ava. After a little research, they discover that Ava is tied up without her knowledge in the murders of three families. This killer has a plan with Ava is at the center of it and nothing is as it seems.

Just when you think Lynette Eason can’t get any better, she comes along with a new book that blows the others away. Hostile Intent is her newest and best yet. I loved Ava and her relationship with Caden, they made the perfect couple for a great romantic suspense read. I was recently asked what point in a book gets me; the answer was the moment my heart rate goes up a few notches. That happened at several moments throughout this book. I will say I figured out one of the twists before it was revealed, but not in a way that made the book any less enjoyable, it played out in a really great way. The last third of the book was on fire, I couldn’t put it down until I knew what was going to happen to the characters I was so invested in.

Honestly, I have nothing negative to say about this book. I was taken in by the characters and the trouble they faced and felt a deep connection to them as they battled the odds to come out in the end having survived all they faced. What makes a great romantic suspense for me is the connection, if I can connect with the characters, I care more about the story than the other way around. This series found a way to connect me with each of the individual characters in the troubles they faced and want to find out more about them and what they were going through. I recommend this book to fans of Eason and lovers of romantic suspense. Even though this is the fourth in a series It could be read and enjoyed as a standalone. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Chase

Author: Lisa Harris

Series: US Marshals #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the US Marshals book picks up right where the first left off with all the action, drama, suspense and romance a book lover could ask for!

After being shot three months ago, US Marshal Madison James still doesn’t remember who shot her; the one thing she does know is it is time for her to get back to work. Her partner, Jonas Quinn doesn’t want to push Madison on her first day back but when they’re assigned serve a federal warrant to a man connected to several bank robberies. Together they end up at a bank robbery in progress where nothing is going as planned. The bank robbers are all about the thrill and not just the money. When they back the robbers into a corner, all their plans start to spin out making them even more dangerous and making it the most perilous case they have worked together.

 The US Marshals books are by far my favorite by Lisa Harris. I loved the first in the series and the second was just as good. The Chase follows the same main characters, Madison and Jonas, whereas a lot of romantic suspense books will change main characters with each new book in a series this one gives us more of the same, a fact I greatly enjoyed. We really get to see some great character development and depth for Madison and Jonas. There is a lot going on with Madison and the mystery of who killed her husband and why are they still taunting her that helps drive the story and made me have a deeper connection with her as a character. I really enjoy these books because they are fast paced, engaging, great tension and Harris has got me invested in the characters. By keeping the same main characters instead of having new ones with each new book, I am much more involved and determined to see how they pull through the troubles they encounter. There is so much more to develop with them and much more story to tell, I really hope this series goes on for several more books. I recommend this book to those that love a great romantic suspense, but I do recommend reading The Escape first and then diving into The Chase.

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

Breach of Honor

Author: Janice Cantore

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic police procedural that had me hooked from page one with fantastic character connections and an adrenaline laced story!

Oregon Police officer Leah Radcliff spends every day trying to help others when she is the one that really needs help from Brad, her abusive husband. Even though she has helped countless victims of abuse, she has a hard time believing she is a victim. Brad is a fellow officer and a decorated hero; his family is a staple in town and wields a lot of influence causing Leah to keep her abuse to herself. One night though things go too far and ends up with deadly consequences. Leah has all public opinion against her and is convicted of murdering her husband. Officer Clint Tanner is one of the only ones who believes she acted in self-defense. He works with Leah’s attorney to bring to light the darker side of Brad and others in the department to save Leah.

It has been a long time since I have had a new Janice Cantore novel and I had forgotten how much I enjoy her writing. These books are so well crafted with authentic storylines and characters that are so easy to follow and connect with. Cantore’s time as an officer brings her writing to a higher level than most other authors I have read. I connected with Leah right away, something about the way she was written resonated with me, she had so many struggles, yet she refused to give up. She is a strong female protagonist with a great story. Many of the secondary characters were great too; Nora had a real impact on moving the story along, and Vicki, only in there for a little bit still brought great tension at just the right moments.

The romance aspect of the book played out perfectly for me. Sometimes in a romantic suspense novel, the romance can overshadow the suspense and take me out of the story; here though, there was so much tension I couldn’t do anything else but keep turning the pages to see what was going to happen. A lot happens throughout this book but all of it provides substance to the story and left me wanting more. I don’t know if there will be more coming from these characters, but if there is, you can bet I will be checking it out. I recommend this book to lovers of police procedurals and romantic suspense; 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.

Along a Storied Trail

Author: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Gabhart crafts a beautifully written tale set in the Appalachian Mountains with characters that tug at the heartstrings.

Tansy Calhoun feels like love will never find her after being left by the man she thought she was going to marry. She spends her time as a librarian, taking books up the rough trails on horseback to others in the area that otherwise wouldn’t have anything to read. The Great Depression is in full swing and her family works together to survive the hard times. Tansy has given up hope of finding love until a young writer comes to town and she believes she might have found her perfect man. Perdita Sweet is a lot like Tansy, love has not been a friend to her, and she eventually stopped trying. Now, she sees a love blooming for Tansy but fears no one will listen to her advice.

Set in the time of the Great Depression when many were struggling financially and had so many problems, Gabhart weaves a beautiful tale of love, longing to belong and so much more. For fans of historical romance this book will hit all the right buttons. A fun read about horseback librarians, something I had never heard of but makes total sense, a way to get literature to those who would otherwise have none. The main focus of this story is love but in so many ways, love of family, finding love for yourself, loving where you are at and what you can do for those around you, love, love, love. While historical romance is not my normal read, I enjoyed the themes and characters. Tansy is a great protagonist as the horseback librarian, ones I think others will relate to and enjoy reading. Fans of Gabhart and historical romance will not want to miss this one. 

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