Justice Delivered

Justice deliveredAuthor: Patricia Bradley

Series: Memphis Cold Case #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Patricia Bradley delivers one of her absolute best! Fans will not want to miss out on this installment of the Memphis Cold Case series. 

After years of being a victim of sex trafficking, Carly Smith has made her way out and is trying got find a new life for herself. Trusting others come isn’t something that she is ready to do just yet, and no matter how hard she tries to leave her past behind her it continues to haunt her. She knows she should have gone to the police when she first got away, but she fears if she goes to the police they won’t believe her or worse, might just send her back to the people who held her captive. When she finally feels comfortable to reach out to her family and reconnects with her sister, she thinks all is well until her sister ends up dead and her niece is kidnapped. Carly must face her fears and come forward with what she knows to save her family. When all else fails. she takes matters into her own hands and goes after the kidnappers herself.

There was something about this story that really drew me in more than any others in the series so far. The topic can be sensitive but unfortunately it is currently something we must deal with.  Patricia Bradley did an outstanding job of tackling a hard subject in an engaging and entertaining way for readers. Carly is strong through all she must endure and is able to use that to help others, especially her family when the time comes. Her fear of going to others for help is understandable after all she has been through and had others turn on her when she thought she could really trust them. I really enjoyed the way the relationship between her and Maggie played out. Almost all the secondary characters brought the story onto a whole new level, the story brought in aspects from the whole series and it was great to see the way the different characters interacted together.  For fans of the series, I highly recommend diving deep into Justice Delivered and savoring the story. If you haven’t ever read anything by Patricia Bradley, I strongly recommend reading this one, even if you haven’t read the others in the series it will be ok to start here. Each book can essentially be read as a stand-alone if it needs to be or enjoyed as a whole series.

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

Far Side of the Sea

Far side of the seaAuthor: Kate Breslin

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A tale of war, pride, romance, and deceit told by the pen of a master.

Lt. Colin Mabry has had a tough go of his service in World War I.  After losing his hand in combat, he took some time away at a family farm before returning to duty.  Now stationed only a stone’s throw across the water to Paris, he is constantly reminded of the horrors of war when he hears the bombs.  As a code breaker, he deciphers messages all day long.  One day he comes across a message that is addressed to him.  A letter asking him to remember his promise and to meet at a café in Paris followed by the salutations of JR.  This could only be Jewel Reyer, the woman who saved his life and he promised to return for and gets permission to undertake this personal mission to Paris.

However, Colin is surprised to meet another young woman that is not Jewel, but rather her self-proclaimed sister Johanna.  She found Jewel’s diary and believes that she is being held against her will by a German officer.  After convincing Colin to help, they set out to find Jewel and bring her to safety.  As their trust within one another grows, so do their feelings toward each other.  But as they will discover, not everything is as it seems.  The danger they are heading into is not only treacherous but filled with espionage.  Can they really trust each other’s intentions and find Jewel safely?

Kate Breslin has a way of weaving readers into her stories so that they are not just observing the story but living it out.  I felt that I was right there with the characters for the entire journey.  I could feel what was unfolding and at times felt just a surprised at what the main characters uncovered.  Colin was flawed not just physically, but also with his pride.  This kept a tension between he and Johanna through much of the story.  Johanna was a broken person based on her past and always longed for a father figure.  She looked for the best in people and it wasn’t hard for her to find it in Colin.  This made the romance much more believable as it played out naturally instead of forced.

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

Courting Mr. Emerson

Courting

Author: Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Courting Mr. Emerson is a sweet romance that follows the usual love story formula, but instead of young characters, the protagonists are mature and ready for the second stage of life.  Stodgy Mr. Emerson is an English teacher at the local high school.  He follows routine and doesn’t have a car because he can walk to wherever he needs to go.  He uses a typewriter and listens to vinyl records.  Never married, he is content in his solitude in his small bungalow and avoids having to talk to the neighbors.  He is not mean; he just likes his own company and prefers order.  Realizing he has had enough, he accepts an early buyout and plans on retiring at the quickly-approaching end of the school year.

Willow, on the other hand, is a free spirit artist who owns an art gallery in town.  She meets Mr. Emerson when she requests a college letter of referral for her grandson, whom she has raised since infancy.  She is outgoing, lively, and a bit of a hippie.  She is also widowed and lonely.  Neither she nor Mr. Emerson see themselves as friends, let alone anything more, because they are so different, but of course life has an interesting way of working out sometimes.

In addition to stirring up a romance between the unlikely pair, both people deal with some issues severely affecting their lives.  Willow’s grandson is graduating high school, and his absent band groupie mother, Josie, comes to see him at Willow’s invitation.  Willow hopes to reconcile with Josie while establishing a relationship between Josie and the son she doesn’t know.  Considering that Collin doesn’t want a relationship with Josie, Willow knows she is facing an uphill battle.  George Emerson doesn’t even know he is facing any issues.  He is happy to live a retiree’s quiet life, until he realizes he isn’t.  He was raised by his grandparents after his parents died, and after his brother died in Vietnam, he is truly alone.  He loses his college sweetheart to a car accident and never finds anyone to love again.  He is an atheist because he believes that no god would give one person so much pain.  Willow, a true believer and spiritual person, helps George to see that maybe there is more to life than routine and solitude.

While I liked the general format of the story, I did have a problem with some of the characters.  Willow does seem to be a bit overwhelming, and I found it hard to like her.  Even though Mr. Emerson is surrounded by hundreds of teens every school day, he seems to be way out of touch with what is happening around him.  It is one thing not to participate in current activities, but to be unaware of them given his situation, seems to be unrealistic.  How everything falls into place for both of them by the end also seems to be a bit unrealistic, but given that is the nature of romance stories, it may be a bit more acceptable.

I did enjoy the book with some misgivings, and I believe that romance readers will enjoy the book as well.  It is tame as far as romances go, and there is nothing objectionable as far as theme or language is concerned.  Willow is a spiritual character, and as such does tend to push religion a bit.  All things concerned, Melody Carlson and romance fans will enjoy this book if taken at face value.

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

Knox

KnoxAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshall

Publisher: Stonewater Books

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Susan May Warren will not want to miss the beginning of the Montana Marshall series. This is by far the best I have read by her and am aching for the next installment!

After his father died, Knox Marshall knew he must settle down and run the family ranch. His dreams of becoming a professional bull rider put on hold so he can raise champion bulls for the National Professional Bull rider’s Expo. He has a good life on the ranch but starts to wonder if the best has already happened for him until he meets Kelsey Jones. Kelsey has a hard past, her parents were murdered, and she was beaten and left for dead when she was fourteen. Now she puts her past trials into her life as a country singer. No matter how far she goes though she can’t outrun her past to find the safe and secure future for which she longs. When she meets Knox Marshall, everything she has ever known is thrown out the window. With an exploding relationship and more danger around them than either could anticipate, this might be a recipe for disaster or the perfect romance in the making.

Susan May Warren is one of the very best romantic suspense writers on the market. Her Montana Rescue series is still one of my very favorite and as hard as it is for me to say this, I think Knox and the Montana Marshall series might just be even better. I absolutely loved the way she tied in characters from the Montana Rescue series flawlessly into this storyline. I can just see more of those characters popping up in future books in this new series. Tying the two series together in that way could be risky but now with Warren at the helm, she weaved storylines together that other writers wouldn’t dream of being able to make flow. It will be easy for readers to fall for Knox, as well as the other Marshall men, within the first few pages of reading. Knox is everything a cowboy heartthrob should be, and I loved reading about him. The chemistry between him and Kelsey was steaming off the page. Regardless of how much Kelsey wanted to steer clear of any romance, there was no getting past what her heart wanted. Her story line is one of my favorites. I was drawn in by her history and what she went through and how it affected her in the present that everything else flowed and kept me intrigued. I don’t want to spoil the story, but readers will be walking away from this wanting to throw the book at the wall (in a good way) and pacing the hall until they can get their hands on the next in the series. All I can say is if the rest in the series are half as good as the first, readers will have a new favorite author without a doubt. I recommend this book to fans of Susan May Warren and those that may not have read anything by her but love western romantic suspense.

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

Breach of Trust

Breach of trust

Author: Rachel Dylan

Series: Atlanta Justice #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Book three of the Atlanta Justice series brings the most powerful and emotional story to date.  Fans of the series will not want to miss this one!

 When Mia Shaw finds her friend and co-worker brutally murdered. everything she has known about the law goes out the window. She wants justice for her friend and vows to do anything in her power to put the murderer behind bars. Working as a lawyer, she knows how the system should work and hopes she can use that to her advantage to help the investigation. The man they arrest says he is innocent and hopes his friend, Noah Ramirez, a security tech expert can help prove it. Mia has to take over at work for the case her friend had been working on and soon learns there might be more to his death than everyone originally thought. Secrets come to light that have her wondering if she stumbled upon corporate espionage and much worse. She turns to Noah for help and even though they have a different opinion on the case. she is still able to trust his judgment and feels safer with him working beside her. Together they must solve the murder case and try to stay alive in the process.

 I have loved the Atlanta Justice series and am very happy to say that the finale does not disappoint. I think Mia might just be my favorite of the characters. Her emotion in this story made everything so much more real. Mia is the kind of character that feels deeply for those she cares about and brings that quality into everything she does using it to help her solve the most dangerous of cases. Noah was more of a grounded character that helped Mia navigate through the mess she finds herself in. The relationship between these characters was written well and I found myself rooting for them. I really love the way Dylan brings in her real-life law experience to make the story points realistic and play out as they should. Fans of romantic suspense will love this finale in the series. I especially loved the twist at the end. I can usually see those kinds of things coming but didn’t see this one and loved the way it worked out. I recommend this to fans of the series but also readers who haven’t had a chance to read any of Dylan’s work yet, this would be a great one to start with. Even though it is the third in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone without missing anything.

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

Low Country Hero

Low Country HeroAuthor: Lee Tobin McClain

Series: Safe Haven #1

Publisher: HQN

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun romance with just the right amount of suspense to make for a great read.

Trying to protect her five-year-old twins, Anna George has left her abusive husband and fled to Safe Haven, South Carolina.  All she wants is a safe place to raise her girls and try and figure her life out. As she drives into the town, she finds what she thinks are some abandoned cabins and hopes to stay until she can get on her feet. She quickly discovers that the cabins are being refurbished by a contractor, Sean Dwyer, who catches her staying without permission. He is able to make arrangements with the owner for her to stay on the property and help him with the work. Sean remembers coming to Safe Haven when he was a young boy with his mother and two brothers to escape his abusive father. As soon as they arrived in town, his father found them and left with his mother, leaving the boys behind.  He wants to help Anna and her girls even though Anna is hesitant to ask for help. It doesn’t take long for Sean to fall hard for Anna and the girls, which scares him.  He has never wanted a family and now he seems to have found the one he can’t live without.

For me this wasn’t the typical romance I am used to and I loved it. The story was great, and I particularly enjoyed the way the characters came together at the right pace. They each had their struggles and used those struggles to relate to what the other might be going through. Anna was most concerned about her girls and how they would be affected with everything they were all going through. She isn’t looking for romance and after all she has been through it really is the last thing on her mind. Sean is a rough and tough kind of guy but shows a softer side when interacting with Anna and her girls. This is the first in the series and I for one can’t wait to see what happens next. There are a lot of secondary characters that need more fleshing out and can bring more life into a story already alive and kicking. Readers that enjoy a romance with characters with big hearts will love Low Country Hero.

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

Castle on the Rise

Castle on the Rise

Author: Kristy Cambron

Series: The Lost Castle #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Three more stories centered around a new set of castle ruins.  This series is fantastic!

 As Ellie and Quinn’s wedding approaches, Ellie’s friend Laine Forrester travels to France with her daughter Cassie to attend.  Shortly after the wedding, Ellie drops a bombshell concerning her health to Laine and explains that she and Quinn will be traveling to Ireland to visit his estranged family over a personal mater.  She asks if Laine and Cassie will come along because of her experience with antiques.  But Laine has been holding secrets of a failed marriage from Ellie as well.  Quinn’s brother Cormac has become a welcome distraction in Ellie’s life and Cassie has become quite taken with him as well.  Once in Ireland, Laine begins to learn the history behind the family’s pub that has been in business since the late 18th century and all the events that the pub has survived in the past.  When Laine discovers that the family has been left a castle estate, she begins to help catalogue the items left there, including several pianos.  But no one could believe the role this castle has played in the revolution and rebellion throughout Ireland’s history.

 There have been a lot of reviews about the controversy of this book.  First of all, this is a work of fiction.  The author did a great job portraying the time period that each of the stories are set.  The language and phrases used by the characters fit both with the location that the book is set in as well as the time period.  There was some negativity mentioned about alcohol, which is part of the culture of Ireland and the fact the part of the book is set at a pub yields that this is going to be part of the story.  I challenge readers to not get taken in by minutia, but just to enjoy the stories that have been presented to them.

 As far as the stories go, I enjoyed this book more than the first.  Laine’s story is that of a broken woman who has been dealt blow after blow in life.  She needs a strong companion, who has historically been Ellie, but with Ellie’s condition she won’t be able to fully rely on her.  Enter Cormac who is something of a dark horse that finds a way to Laine’s heart.  The companion stories of the 1916 Easter weekend uprising and the 18th century revolution also completed the story of the present in multiple ways.  If I dive to far into these I’m afraid that I’ll start to reveal spoilers, so I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book to find out more!

 The first book centers around Quinn with the second on his brother Cormac, even though neither is the primary character.  Given that this is a trilogy, will the next book be told with their sister Kiera?  I would love to see this story told with a member of their family as the primary character, but I’ll guess I’ll have to wait until next year.

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