The Scythian Trials

the scythian trialsAuthor: Elizabeth Isaacs

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A little bit of The Hunger Games mixed with The Valiant makes for a great read for a mature audience.

The Scythians are descendants of the Amazons and highly valued warriors. Nya Thalestris is one of the best in her generation and she has earned a spot in the Trials, a mating ritual responsible for the evolution of her species. Nya has a hard time letting anyone, especially men, get close to her or touch her, it sets her off violently. What she doesn’t remember is years ago she was abducted by their enemy, the Drahzda and tortured. Jax Nickius has been working with her for years to help her get past her abuse and he discovers hidden triggers in her mind. Jax has grown close to her and pursues her as a mate during the trials. When Nya’s memories start coming back, she realizes she has enemies within her own walls and her life is in more danger than she would have thought possible.

I was about to give up on this book but stuck with it and I am glad I did. The ending ramped up the tension and really made me care more about the characters. Nya is a real fighter and the kind of tough female lead character that is becoming more and more popular. However, I had mixed feelings about Jax. His devotion and feelings for Nya were clear and I didn’t have trouble relating to him on that level, but there was just something else about him that didn’t have me jumping to the edge of my seat when he was being written about. The secondary characters, especially the other warriors helped bring the story to life.  When Nya’s memories started returning and flashbacks showed what she had been through, I wanted more back-story and more scenes with Nya and Penn. While this is targeted to a Young adult audience, I have trouble recommending it to a young audience because of the language and sexual scenes throughout. With that being said, I do recommend this to readers that enjoy dystopian novels with plenty of action, tension, and romance throughout.

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

Delayed Justice

Delayed JusticeAuthor: Cara Putman

Series: Delayed Justice #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An absolutely fantastic book with a very timely message about speaking out on abuse even if it takes time and strength to say the right words.

Jaime Nichols has spent her whole life trying to get the strength to move on from the abuse she faced as a child. Now she is a lawyer fighting in the courtroom to give a voice to victims like her. After decades of counseling, she has gained the voice she needs to go against her uncle, the man who molested her when she was just a small child. He is up for promotion to become a one star general and with his power he is determined not to let Jaime ruin him.  While Jaime fights her own case, she is also helping a young girl who was abused and needs help healing. Chandler Bolton brings his therapy dog to help the young girl and is instantly drawn to Jaime. He sees her strength but also her pain and wants to help her heal. As Chandler and Jaime work together to help those hurt and without a voice, they are drawn to each other and find strength they didn’t know they had at just the right moments.

This is a book that can tackle a tough topic, but does it in a way readers will really be able to connect with and feel for the characters. Cara Putman has a way with legal thrillers, she brings out the drama in all scenes, inside the courtroom and out.  I love the fact that the court scenes aren’t boring and slow paced; there is still tension and heart pounding moments. It was obvious there was going to be chemistry between Jaime and Chandler, their connection was apparent from the first moment they saw each other. Both Jaime and Chandler have demons they are fighting but together they are able to work through these difficult times and find a strength they didn’t know existed. Faith is a big element throughout and I loved the way Putman incorporated The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, such a timeless novel that played well with the struggles being faced here.  None of the moments of faith were too forward or in your face to push readers away that might not want to read that. It is enough to make readers think and maybe instill a few seeds to keep the reader thinking and possibly nudge them towards faith of their own.  It’s simple enough to show readers there is more out there if they will trust and look to God without trying to shove religion down anyone’s throat.  I recommend this book to fans of Putnam and also anyone that enjoys a good romantic suspense.  While this is a third in a series it can be read as a standalone without losing anything.

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

A Sparkle of Silver

Sparkle of SilverAuthor: Liz Johnson

Series: Georgia Coast Romance #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Camilla “Millie” Sullivan is having a hard go of it.  Living in the small beach town of St. Simons Island, Georgia, and working as a waitress at the Hermit Crab Café, Millie also looks out for her elderly grandmother, who has dementia.  As Grandma Joy gets worse, she is being evicted from her care facility because her dementia is too severe for her current home, yet she is being denied funding for anything more suitable.  Her life savings have been squandered as the result of her being a victim of a scam, and Millie has no idea what to do.  She takes a second job at Chateau Devereaux, a local historical home, and remembers that Grandma Joy mentioned a relative who stayed there one summer.  The relative supposedly left a diary there with clues to a buried treasure.  Not expecting much, Millie decides to search the library for the missing tome, and amazingly, finds it.  Before she can leave with the book, however, she is accosted by Ben, a security guard.  Not wanting to lose both their jobs, she makes him an offer he can’t refuse: help her find the buried treasure, and she will split the spoils with him.  Needing the money himself, Ben reluctantly agrees.  Ben is working three jobs in an effort to pay back money that his mother has swindled out of people.  While they don’t hit it off at first, Ben and Millie grow to trust each other and to find that they are actually quite attracted to one another.  But will they find any treasure and be able to claim it as their own in time to keep Grandma Joy from being homeless?

This is a quick, easy read with plenty to enjoy.  On one hand, the reader gets to know Millie very quickly and understands the immense love she holds for her dear Grandma Joy.  Ben comes off as gruff and unfeeling until we see him with his students and later as he explains why he works so hard.  Together, their chemistry makes us want to read more.  On the other side, the story unfolds through diary entries that Millie’s relatives wrote while enjoying St. Simons Island over the summer as a guest of a friend.  Ruth is a country girl from a farm, and a whole new world of mystery, romance, and danger greet her at the wealthy friends’ home.  Together, Ben and Millie get to know one another, and Millie’s heritage, while looking for what could be the answer to their problems.  The characters are likeable and easy to get to know, and the situation, while definitely unrealistic, is a fun break from real life.  I had no problem engaging in the book and quickly wanting more.  It was a quick read that left me satisfied when I was done.  I would definitely recommend this book as a fun, uncomplicated read to anyone who enjoys romance and mysteries, especially when we get an interesting glimpse into the past.

While the language is not offensive to the readers and the main characters don’t do anything more involved than kiss passionately, there is a murder and thwarted sexual assault.  Not many details are given, but if anyone is easily upset by these topics, I do recommend caution.  Otherwise, the story is short and sweet and full of historical references.  It is a chaste romance and interesting treasure hunt.  Any reader who enjoys this kind of story should find A Sparkle of Silver as charming as I did.

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

One Day in December

One Day in DecemberAuthor: Josie Silver

Publisher: Broadway Books

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

What happens when you see the one, but can’t meet them?

All it took was a moment in her mundane little life. Laurie was sitting on a bus on her way to her flat from work during Christmas when she saw him sitting at the bus stop.  They’re eyes met and they both knew in an instant that it was a connection meant to be.  They would spend eternity together just like you read in the books and see in the movies.  As he made his move to get on the bus and come to her, the doors locked and the bus drove away.  No names.  No number.  No way to see each other again.  Her flat mate, Sarah, tries to cheer her up and begins to fix her up with other dates, but she has elevated the nameless man to a place where no other man can touch him.  Then one day Sarah wants her to meet her new boyfriend, Jack.  As luck would have it, it’s him, the man from the bus stop.  Sarah is like a sister to her and Laurie knows she would never jeopardize their relationship, not even for Jack.  What ensues is a story about changes in life, romance, and circumstances that affect all because of one day in December.

I honestly did not expect this book to be as good as it was. I thought it was going to be a girl finds love with best friend’s guy and in the end it all works out.  However, this was more of a raw look at life and what circumstances can do and how it touches several lives, not just two or three.  There were so many different tangent lines that it was fun to watch them all connect in the future.  Through it all were Laurie and Jack, even when they were with different people. Silver did a great job of keeping those two characters at the center and really letting the reader see who they were and fleshing them out.  This isn’t your average holiday romance.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there might be a movie about this in the future that will be an exciting movie.

There is quite a bit of harsh language throughout the book as well as some sexual content that will be better suited for mature audiences. If you like holiday romances, this is for you.

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

Hidden Peril

Hidden PerilAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Code of Honor #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another edge of your seat read from Irene Hannon! Hidden Peril keeps true to Hannon’s great writing and will keep the reader turning the page.

It’s been twenty years since Kristin Dane took a vow with her friends to do what she could to make the world a better place and she is now making that happen with her fair trade shop. She has products from around the world and is able to bring attention to these areas and their needs by the products she sales. When people connected to her shop start dying, Kristin gets involved in the case.  She begins working with Detective Luke Carter. He has just started working with the St. Louis PD and is pulled deep into the case hoping to find answers. Kristin and Luke work with the FBI in a case that spans the globe and is more complicated than any of them first believed.  Together they work to stop this killer before more people die.

Hidden Peril is the second book in the Code of Honor series and I loved the way this story played out.  The way the story spanned the globe and brought about history and awareness to events not commonly talked about made it all the more interesting.  Irene Hannon is one of the best at romantic suspense.  At times her stories can be a little heavy on romance but this one played out with extra suspense, which I really enjoyed.  Some authors have a way with making certain characters especially evil and Irene Hannon is one of those authors, I felt the evil and let it roll with the story in the direction it was meant to go.  Nothing seemed forced and the characters meshed well together. Kristin is the type of character that is easily relatable and you want to pull for and see her succeed.  Luke and Kristin had an easy attraction to each other and the tension and danger they faced brought them closer together in a very natural way.  I am not sure if there will be another in this series, but if there is, I will be first in line to read it. I recommend this book to fans of Hannon’s work and those that love reading romantic suspense.

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

River to Redemption

River to RedemptionAuthor: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story not only redemption but also of the courage and spirit it takes to do what you know is right even when you are alone in your thinking.

Adria Starr is on her own after her family dies in the cholera epidemic of 1833. She is found by a slave named Louis who is more faithful than anyone else in his position would ever be.  He has had plenty of opportunities to leave and find his freedom while his masters fled the epidemic and left him in charge of things.  Instead of running, Louis decided to stay around and help tend to the sick and bury the dead.  Twelve years go by and he is about to be sold and all his loyalty seems to matter to no one, except Adria who has never forgotten what he did for her and so many others.  Adria has always abhorred slavery and wants to try and buy Louis his freedom.  Being in Kentucky, she doesn’t have many that think like her but doesn’t let that stop her from following her heart and doing what she knows is right, no matter the cost.

Reading about this topic can be difficult, especially knowing that it is based on a true story. The story itself had several characters that stood out for me.  First was Adria showing what she stood for and refused to back down.  Then Louis, he is just a character that you can’t help but like.  And of course Matilda, even though she wasn’t in the story as much as some of the other characters she still made a big impact.  With these characters being able to touch the heart and the story being based on true events, readers will have a hard time not connecting and being fully immersed in every page.  I loved the way Gabhart made these connections and let the story flow.  This was different from her past novels I have read, but still a very enjoyable read.  I recommend this to fans of Gabhart and readers that enjoy historical fiction with a little romance.

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

Catching Christmas

Catching ChristmasAuthor: Terri Blackstock

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun romance ride and just perfect for those getting ready for the Hallmark Christmas movie season.

Sydney Batson is trying her hardest to be a good granddaughter and take care of her ailing grandmother while also trying not to lose her job at her law firm. In desperate need of help to get her grandmother to the doctor at the same time she is due in court Sydney, calls for a cab to take her to the clinic. She knows she should be the one to go but if she loses her job she won’t be able to take care of either of them. Cab driver Finn Parrish is trying to make up for lost money after being robbed and when a call comes to pick up a woman and take her to a doctor’s appointment he reluctantly goes. Miss Callie is a hard reminder of his mother who he feels he let down in her last days and now every time he gets a call he can’t refuse to help. Even when Miss Callie doesn’t remember to pay him, Finn is there for her as she goes around running Christmas errands and looking for a date for her granddaughter. Finn is trying to do all he can to help Miss Callie fulfill her Christmas wish of doing something nice for the only family she has left. When he meets Sydney, he realizes he might just be getting a Christmas gift he never expected.

For me, when I read Terri Blackstock I know I am going to get a good romantic suspense. With her first Christmas novel, Blackstock takes readers on an adventure with these three characters that is sure to put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.  I loved the way this story played out. Finn had just the right amount of grumpiness in him to make him reluctant to want to help but enough goodness in him to overpower and be there when he was needed. Sydney isn’t so driven by her career that she doesn’t care about her family, she just is in a position that makes it hard to be in two places at once. The characters meshed so well with each other in not only dialogue but also narrative sections, which can become a part that drags in the story if not done correctly.  Each paragraph brought out more interesting aspects of the characters and more enjoyment in the story.  It was fun to see Blackstock stretch her writing while keeping the story flowing without the suspense aspect. There was still plenty of tension to drive the story along, it was just presented in a different way. I recommend this to readers that love a great Hallmark Christmas movie and want to read a story that will play out like the movie while reading. And of course, all fans of Blackstock’s work will enjoy this as well.

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