Until I Met You

Author: Tari Faris

Series: Restoring Heritage #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As the town square is restored, more relationships are restored between members of the town.

Libby Kingsley decides to take the job of the town librarian in Heritage, Michigan, the town her brother Luke has settled in.  Luke had been kidnapped from their family for many years and was just reunited with them.  Libby has also had her share of tragedy after the bookstore that she worked at in England was robbed by her boyfriend and she was held at knifepoint for cash and a first edition of Moby Dick.  Three years later, she decides to not let her fear control her life anymore and branch out.  When she realizes that the library is in the basement of the town hall, she tried to find a suitable replacement, which becomes the abandoned schoolhouse.  All she must do is convince the town council and a hot, but grumpy landscape contractor to agree to her plan.

Austin Williams wants to get his family business back on track.  But to do so, he must complete the revitalization project in Heritage, which is also the town that his brother serves as a pastor at a church.  To say that the two don’t get along is an understatement, so Austin wants to get this project over with as fast as possible.  When the new librarian throws a wrench in his plans, Austin gets more frustrated by the day.  But when he finds that she is not just book smart but can plan out ways to make his project stay within budget, he finds that he may need to reevaluate his life and his standards.

I enjoyed this book so much more than the first in the series!  Maybe the first book was just setting things up, but this story pulled me in so much more.  I loved Libby’s story, which may have been because she is such a book lover.  She had to overcome agoraphobia and a traumatic event with her boyfriend at the time.  Olivia was such a positive influence throughout the book and quite the opposite of Libby.  I thought casting them as roommates really brought out the best in both of them.  Austin and Nate’s relationship centered around stories that each had of the other.  Nate lived with a dark past that tormented him even though he knew he’d been forgiven by God.  He just couldn’t forgive himself.  Austin didn’t want to forgive Nate for the past and used it as a crutch to forge ahead.  All flawed characters in need of grace who pulled together when it was needed. 

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

Under Scottish Stars

Can two people who need new beginnings find one together?

Author: Carla Laureano

Series: The MacDonald Family #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Serena Stewart is working to get her life back on track.  Her husband passed a few years ago, leaving her with two young children.  After the oldest child, Em, gets in a fight at her academy, she is given the choice to be withdrawn or expelled.  With little options, Serena decides to buy back her shares of the family hotel in Skye and return for at least the summer to figure things out.  While there, she begins to butt heads with the hotel manager Malcom Blake.  While the don’t get off on the right foot, they begin to learn to trust each other in more than just a working relationship.  While both she and Malcom have given up on their personal dreams to support their family, maybe together they can find a way to find a new dream.

Laureano always manages to write characters that I can relate with.  I wish that I had read the first books in this series to get the full back stories on all the supporting characters as well as any side stories that may have impacted both Serena and Malcom, but I quickly fell into step with both of them.  Both characters had to overcome hardships from loss and even when they thought they found a way forward to happiness; another challenge arose that really tested their will.  I loved the scenery descriptions that really brought the visual of the Scotland area, especially when dealing with the night sky.  Her books always make me want to travel to the location so that I can see it for myself and this was no different. 

I recommend this for those that love the series as well as contemporary romance.  If you are unsure because you haven’t read the others, this can easily be a standalone.

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

Minutes to Die

Author: Susan Sleeman

Series: Homeland Heroes #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: August 4, 2020

Rating: 4.5 Stars

The second installment in the Homeland Heroes series gives readers another fast pace tale with relationships between characters both tense and emotional until the very end.

FBI Agent Kiley Dawson loses her Confidential Informant to a murder right as she is about to give her information on a terrorist attack being planned on U.S. soil.  The attack is supposedly going to be the deadliest attack since 9/11 and Kiley knows she has her work cut out for her. She teams with ICE Agent Evan Bowers in charge of figuring out how to take down the terrorist cell. Evan and Kiley have a difficult past, she blames him for the death of her former partner and doesn’t know how she can work with a man she doesn’t trust. Somehow, they have to work around their differences to protect the lives of millions and stop a terrorist from attacking America once more.

Minutes to Die is another action-packed romantic suspense thriller from Susan Sleeman. Sleeman does a fantastic job of crafting characters that readers will want to see succeed even as they are placed in the most precarious of situations. With so many aspects of the investigation, it could be easy to get lost in the technical jargon and lose sight of what the story is trying to tell us; luckily, the story is written in such a way that readers will follow along and feel as if they are part of the investigation with Kiley and Evan and the rest of the team. For me, I enjoyed fast pace of the story, but there was more romance than I would have liked.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romantic suspense but not when the romance comes on too strong, which is my only complaint. I would have preferred the romance down a notch. That can also be a double edge sword, when the romance is a bigger part of the story, it can lead to more tension between the characters. By the end of the story I was so invested in the relationships that when one character found themselves in harm’s way and the other was scared for their life, I found myself holding my breath as the pages turned to see if they would make it out okay. Both books in this series have been enjoyable and easy to read, which leads me to believe the third will be a welcome addition to the series. I recommend this to readers that enjoy romantic suspense with heart pounding action and great heart-warming story throughout.

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

Acceptable Risk

Acceptable RiskAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Danger Never Sleeps #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another fantastic installment in the Danger Never Sleeps series! Lynette Eason has delivered her best book yet! She continues to get better at giving readers the story they want and so much more. Acceptable Risk is at the top of my list for best of the year so far.

Sarah Denning joined the army to become a military journalist and uncover the truth where others run from it. While in the Middle East, she is attacked and taken prisoner. A group of special soldiers is sent in to rescue her, including former Army Ranger Gavin Black, who was asked by Sarah’s father, a General in the army, to rescue her. Once Sarah is back home in the States recovering from being taken hostage, she finds out her father helped have her discharged on a false psychiatric evaluation. She will stop at nothing to prove to him and anyone else that she is still fit for duty and ready to return to her unit. Before she can do that, she learns of her brother’s suicide and can’t believe he would do such a thing. Now, Sarah must use all her journalistic abilities to find out the truth of what happened to her brother. In order to do that she is going to need help, so she asks Gavin to assist in her investigation to determine the truth and uncover the biggest story of her career.

Lynette Eason seriously gets better with each new book. Every time I pick up one of her novels, I know I am going to be in for a thrill ride. I had such an easy time connecting with the characters in this story, the way she started with Sarah in danger but doing all she could to protect others captured my attention and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. My biggest complaint is I didn’t have enough time to just sit and read this cover-to-cover.  I absolutely loved the way I was able to immediately connect with Sarah from page one. I felt for her and wanted to see her come through the whole ordeal alive and safe. The relationship she had with each male in her life was so different and portrayed so well. Her father’s treatment of her only spurs her on to prove she is capable of so much more than he realizes. Their relationship hit home for me and was so raw and believable. The way Eason wrote Sarah at the first half of the book was perfect for me. She is recovering from tragedy and having to rely on others around her but refuses to play the victim and puts every ounce of her soul into doing what she can to help those around her.

I feel like each time Lynette Eason releases a new book it is my new favorite, I didn’t know if she would be able to top Vow of Justice but Acceptable Risk might just beat it, if not I’ll have to call it a tie. I recommend this book to anyone that loves a fantastic romantic suspense, with characters they can cheer on and a story that will pull them in and keep them on the edge of their seat. It is the second in the series but could be read as a standalone if so desired.

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

Don’t Keep Silent

Dont keep silentAuthor: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Uncommon Justice #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 30, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Get ready for a chill to race down your spine as the suspense unfolds!  This is the best installment in the Uncommon Justice series!

Rae Burke has spent her life investigating stories trying to follow in her father’s footsteps as an investigative reporter. When she hears her sister-in-law is missing, she does whatever she can to track her down and get to the bottom of her story. In order to find her sister-in-law, she must ask for help from the one man who took a bullet for her. Liam McKade left the DEA after his cover was blown when he saved Rae when her story got her in with the wrong people. Liam has gone to his family ranch in Wyoming to figure out what his next step is going to be. Rae finds Liam and fills him in on what she needs. He reluctantly agrees to help her in this search for her sister-in-law. The more time they spend together, the more danger they find themselves in, and the harder it is for them to keep their feelings for each other hidden.

After being introduced to Liam McKade earlier in the series, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about him and see his story unfold.  My desire was answered! Don’t Keep Silent gives readers a deep dive into his past and his heart for helping others. Even though he took a bullet for Rae and thinks he never wants to see her again, the moment he lays eyes on her he knows he will do whatever he can to help her. She infuriates him with every step of the investigation as she puts her life at risk time and time again in her search for the truth. The back and forth dialogue between the two of them makes the story flow so well. Rae hires him to protect her but makes that job almost impossible with each step they take as she puts herself in danger to try and find her sister-in-law and figure out how everything ties in together. For me, there could have been a little more suspense built up at a few key points; right when the tension was at its highest things seemed to fizzle out. The romance was very subtle throughout until the end where it went to warp speed. That’s the problem with some romantic suspense novels, a slow build and then the end goes light sped where it’s not believable. At least Rae and Liam had past history and it wasn’t just straight to love and marriage after they first met. While the ending was a little rushed, the whole story was enjoyable and a fun easy read. My only problem was I didn’t have enough time to sit and read it all at once. Fans of Gooddard’s novels and those that enjoy romantic suspense 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.

The Crushing Depths

Crushing depthsAuthor: Dani Pettrey

Series: Costal Guardians #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 30, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second book in the Coastal Guardians series will have readers so deeply invested in the characters it will be difficult to come up for air!

After a death on an oil rig off the coast of North Carolina, the Coast Guard is called in to investigate. Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are sent out to determine if it was foul play or just an accident. There are rumors the oil rig is haunted and a group of environmental activists are trying to do whatever they can to shut the rig down. When their helicopter crashes on the way to the rig and they run into trouble with every turn they take, the evidence points to foul play in the death of the oil rig worker. They have to tread lightly to determine who the killer is without putting themselves in the crosshairs. Before they can finish their investigation, a tropical storm heads their way trapping them on the oil rig with a killer.

After reading the Alaskan Courage series, I didn’t know if Dani Pettrey would be able to top it. However, the first book in this series started out great and now the second continues to make this series one of the best. I loved the dynamic between Rissi and Mason; the history they shared was very powerful and one of the aspects that kept me glued to their story as it unfolded. A few moments throughout the book left me underwhelmed, I could tell what was about to happen and it just didn’t feel right with the story. But most of the novel had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see how things would turn out. While this book focuses on Rissi and Mason, readers get a little more insight into characters from the first in the series and see a set up for the next. I’m guessing the Book three will center around Brooke and Noah, or at least that’s what I’m hoping! I would recommend readers read the first book in the series before starting this one, but if picked up it could be read as a stand-alone novel. Readers that enjoy romantic suspense novels will not want to miss this one.

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

The Heart of Hero

Heart of a heroAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Global Search and Rescue #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 2, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Susan May Warren delivers in a big way with the second in her Global Search and Rescue series. The Heart of a Hero is a fast, intense, adventurous read with all the feels.

After a crazy adventure on the snow-capped mountains of Alaska, Jake Silver is having trouble moving on from the feelings he has for Dr. Aria Sinclair. He and his team helped rescue her and her friends after their expedition went horrible wrong. Jake is trying to move on from Aria and his time as a Navy SEAL to start working as part of a rescue team. Aria heads down to Key West to speak at a medical conference when a hurricane hits, stranding her in Florida trying to help others. When Jake hears of the hurricane and Aria being in danger, he can’t help himself. He jumps on a plane and heads to once again rescue the woman he can’t get out of his head.

Susan May Warren has done it again! Just when I think she is at her peak for creating the most entertaining and adventurous story, she outdoes herself. The Heart of a Hero, the second edition to the Global Search and Rescue series, picks up where the first left off. This time readers get to dive deep into the lives of Jake and Aria. In the beginning, I was thinking this one wasn’t going to be as action packed as the first installment as it took a little longer for the action to start but once it did there was no stopping it. Even though it took a little bit to get going, the end had me glued to my seat, it was so well written with tension at all the right places.

Aria is a strong capable woman but does have a lot of issues to work through. She is a perfect character for readers to be able to relate to. Her drive to help others, even at the expense of her own happiness, is obvious. You can easily see that in her heart she wants to be with Jake but doesn’t feel she is worthy of anything good.

With most romantic suspense writers, there is a formula used and if you read a lot of romantic suspense it doesn’t take long to figure out that formula. Once you have figured that out the books become less enjoyable. Susan May Warren is one of the best Romantic Suspense authors I have read because just when I think she is starting to follow that formula she surprises me with the next story. She puts her characters in hard spots and makes them work to get out of them. It isn’t easy and usually very messy, but in the end, she uses their mess to portray a beautiful message to readers. If you have never read Susan May Warren and you love romantic suspense adventures, you are missing out. I would recommend reading the first in this series before diving into this one to get the back story of the characters and fully enjoy the story.

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

Driftwood Dreams

driftwood dreamsAuthor: T.I. Lowe

Series: Carolina Coast #2

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: June 1, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second edition to the Carolina Coast series takes us right back to Sunset Cove and sets the romance up right from the start! Characters that are old friends are brought together again to see what might have been.

After her mother’s death, Josie Slater let her dreams slip away and set her sights in helping her dad run the Driftwood Diner. She has kept close with her two best friends, Opal and Sophia, and watched in envy as they followed their dreams. Josie always dreamed of being an artist but let that goal, along with all her others, go when her mother died. When a blast from her past comes back to town, she starts to wonder if any of her long-lost dreams might still be possible.

August Bradford comes back to Sunset Cove settle down and see if there is any hope of salvaging the one relationship that he regrets letting go. His time with Josie is one he can’t easily forget and now that he is back in town, he needs her help setting up a children’s art camp. It won’t be easy, but he hopes he can show her there is so much more to her life and her dreams are still within reach.

With summer fast approaching, Driftwood Dreams is the perfect story for a relaxing read for romance fans that will kick off right mood for the season! Josie is so stuck in her ways and the thought of not being there to help her father with the diner after the death of her mother isn’t even something she can consider. Her sense of duty to family is worth more to her than following her own dreams. A noble gesture to be sure but the lesson readers learn is that we can’t sacrifice our own happiness to keep others happy in the way we think will make them happy.

August knows that he is right for Josie. Trying to get her to see that and be okay with following her dreams is a task more complicated than he anticipated. Their back and forth dialogue brought so much tension to the story; knowing they were meant to be but having so much internal conflict keeping them apart kept me turning the pages quickly.

The setting of this book is one that will take readers away for a few precious hours and let them escape to a beautiful beach with great characters and a fun, enjoyable setting. Each book in this series brings about characters we can easily fall in love with, scenery you can’t help but want to run away to, and a story that readers can’t help but go back to again and again for the perfect escape. This was a quick fun read that many readers will devour over a weekend. I recommend reading the first in the series before this one to familiarize yourself with the characters that play a role in this one. Readers that enjoy a great romantic read will want to snatch this one up for their enjoyment.

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

Dead End

Dead endAuthor: Nancy Mehl

Series: Kaely Quinn Profiler #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 31, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Kaely Quinn is back in her most heart pounding case yet as Nancy Mehl delivers the third installment in the series!

Kaely Quinn thought she had left her past behind her. After changing her name to get away from her father, a famous serial killer, she joined the FBI to stop predators like him. But when a body is discovered in a field near the town she grew up in and then more bodies are unearthed dating back to the time he killed with his same MO, she is brought in to see if she can get information from her father on who he is working with. Kaely doesn’t know if she is ready to face her father and she hasn’t spoken to him since he was arrested and put in jail. The more Kaely pursues this new killer, the more she feels she is losing her own identity. With each new clue that turns up, Kaely feels more involved in the case and more afraid for her own life. Will she be able to solve the case before anyone else dies? Or is she the killer’s next victim?

If you have read any of this series, you know you are in for a real treat. There is action, suspense, drama, and a sprinkling of romance at just the right moments. I love the relationship Kaely has with Noah and the way her relationship with her father is portrayed. Both those relationships are so very different but so vital in shaping how she approaches life and what she is dealt. I have been waiting since the first book in the series to meet, Ed Oliphant, the notorious Raggedy Man serial killer. Nancy Mehl sure did deliver with these interactions. Even though they were few and we didn’t get to see much of Ed, it was just the right amount along with his interactions with Kaely made for such good story telling.

Throughout this book I felt I was really able to connect with Kaely as a character and understand her more. There was such a good character arc for everyone in this story; the way it played out in the final few chapters were executed so well. Readers will feel it is a very satisfying conclusion to the series, even if we might want more of the story was tied up nicely. It’s one of those fine lines an author must walk of continuing on with the characters or leaving the reader wanting just a little bit more. There easily could have been more but at what cost? Would we have loved the story or tired of the characters? Ending here is the perfect place to leave readers enjoying these characters and the adventures they went on. Even though this can be read as a standalone, I would recommend reading the series from start to finish to get a feel for the story and characters. Readers that enjoy a good mystery with characters full of flaws and looking for what matters most in life 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.

Fire Storm

Fire stormAuthor: Nancy Mehl

Series: Kaely Quinn Profiler #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second book in the Kaely Quinn Profiler series is one of the best I have read in a very long time! By far the best by Nancy Mehl!

Kaely Quinn has put her heart and soul into her work as an FBI profiler and left little time for anything else, including family. When her brother calls to tell her their mother has been diagnosed with cancer and he needs help taking care of her, she agrees to put aside their differences and try to come salvage the relationship with her mother. As she heads to Dark Water, Nebraska, Kaely thinks about the emotional distance between her and the rest of her family. She tried to put as much space as she could between everyone related to her after her dad was arrested as a serial killer and sent to prison. Since then, she has tried to show she is nothing like him, even changing her name to distance herself. Dark Water has been dealing with a string of fires that the fire chief claims is a misuse of space heaters during the cold winter, but Kaely feels otherwise as she studies the pattern of infernos. After her arrival and another fire, she is determined they have a serial arsonist in their town but unraveling who is behind it all might just prove to be too hot to handle for Kaely Quinn.

It has been some time since I have read the first book in this series, but I remember loving Kaely and wanted to see what she was up to in Fire Storm. This book is by far the best I have read by Nancy Mehl. The characters have more heart and are easy to relate to, which pulled me in and wouldn’t let go, even after the last page is turned. I loved the way she played the dynamic between Kaely and her family. Each member of the family has their own demons they are struggling with and they inevitably take it out on each other. The tension when Kaely is in the room with her mother or brother is so tight, I felt a little uncomfortable at times, which was fantastic. The writing really brought these feelings out in me and I applaud Mehl on her use of family dysfunction to move the story along.

There were lots of points throughout the story that readers will think they know who is behind the fires but then on the next page they will question their theories, which makes this read so much fun. Kaely’s dynamic with her partner Noah is another aspect of the story I think readers will really enjoy. The slow build and tension between the two of them played out beautifully. As good as Fire Storm is, I am anxious to see how the third book in the series, Dead End, holds up. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good romantic suspense book with enough suspense to keep them on the edge of their seat and up reading far past their bedtime