The Way of the Brave

Way of the braveAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Global Search & Rescue #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wow! Wow! Wow! Susan May Warren has started her new series off with a bang. The Way of the Brave will take readers on a chilling ride with so much action, adventure and just the right amount of romance sprinkled in they will be aching for more.

Orion Starr is trying to put his past as a pararescue jumper and the last rescue that went wrong behind him. He is finally recovered from his injuries and living alone in Alaska. He still has nightmares about his time in Afghanistan and when his buddy Hamilton Jones ask him to join his rescue team, he wants to tell him no, but deep down he still wants to help others. When a group of climbers gets lost on Denali, Orion can’t not help, especially when he finds out that someone from his past that he thought he would never see again is with the group.

Jenny Calhoun is a former CIA profiler and psychiatrist who has been climbing mountains every year trying to get away from the guilt she feels for a top-secret mission going horribly wrong. With two of her friends on this climb, she hopes they can prove they are stronger than they think and become closer to one another. The last thing she expects to see when she gets to Denali is the man she was falling in love with when her world fell apart. When the climb goes horribly wrong and they are trapped on the side of the mountain, Jenny prays that Orion will keep his promise from Afghanistan and find her no matter what.

I have been a fan of Susan May Warren for a long time. This book is very different from any previous books of hers I have read, but in a very good way. The action and suspense here aren’t focused on a villain chasing someone, instead readers see the characters trying to survive the dangerous mountain and elements they are in. In this story, the main characters are Orion and Jenny with many supporting characters on each side that will shine in the upcoming sequels. Orion and Jenny both have a difficult past and are using their time climbing to work through their issues. I am not a climber and much of the book is about the actual climbing experience. Some of the terms and technical aspects were unfamiliar to me but written in a way that made it easy for me to follow along with the story even though I haven’t been on a climb or had these experiences myself. The research that went into this made the story flow brilliantly and kept me engaged with what the characters were going through. It is hard to write a suspenseful story with no real bad guy to move the action along, but Warren has done just that with The Way of the Brave. That said, there is a minor villain involved and I am curious to see how that will be played out in the next installment of the series. This is a wonderful start to a new series and I for one can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead for us. If you are a fan of Romantic Suspense you will not want to miss this one. And if you have never read anything by Susan May Warren this is the perfect one to start with.

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

An Uncommon Woman

an uncommon womanAuthor: Laura Franz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Franz shows why she is one of the elite authors of historical fiction during the prerevolutionary war time period!

Tessa Swan grew up the only daughter of a Scotsman in western Virginia during the 18th century. To say that she is an uncommon woman is an understatement. Living in the wild frontier borderland and having to fight off the local native American tribes has made her a bit rough around the edges and she’s not sorry for it, especially after her Pa was felled by a tomahawk. She’s seen friends be taken by the tribes and had to wonder what happened to them. When she meets the new Fort Commander, Clay Tygart, she can’t deny that there is something unspoken that passes between them. But as Clay tries to focus on his leadership duties, will she manage to distract him long enough for more than a passing glance?

Clay Tygart grew up wild after he was taken as a child by the Lenape tribe. After he was rescued, he made it his mission to keep other people safe from the same occurrence. He fought in the French and Indian War and become a hero, which resulted in a frontier fort bearing his surname. Once he arrives at Fort Tygart, he meets the Swan clan. The lone daughter named Tessa quickly garners his attention, but he knows that he must focus on being the commander now and not on a romance, which he has always easily avoided. When Tessa gets taken by the same Lenape tribe that kidnapped him as a child, he realizes that his heart has been taken captive as well. Clay knows he must get her back.

Laura Franz does a terrific job taking readers directly to the time period she is writing about. This has always impressed me about her books and An Uncommon Woman is no exception. I felt as though I was transported to the western frontier of Virginia in the opening scene while journeying down the river and spying the two native American tribes on the bank. The language she uses easily sets the scene and the use of dialect made me feel I was hearing the characters talk. She reminds me of reading James Fennimore Cooper but does it in the present. If you enjoy historical romance stories set in this time period, this is a must read to add to your shelf.

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

End Game

End gameAuthor: Rachel Dylan

Series: Capital Intrigue #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With danger around every corner, every clue brings more trouble! End Game is a non-stop suspense ride that readers will have trouble putting down to do anything else!

FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan finds herself partnered with NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini when several members of elite military members are murdered on the streets of Washington DC. Even though their evidence leads them to a Navy SEAL sniper, Bailey has doubts he is the one behind the murders. Each new clue that brings them closer to the truth also brings them closer to danger. Bailey has several attempts made on her life as she gets closer to uncovering the truth and Marco realizes his feelings for her go far beyond that of a fellow agent. Whoever is behind this is willing to kill anyone that gets in their way and Bailey and Marco must do whatever they can to stop them before anyone else gets hurt.

End Game is the first in the new Capital Intrigue series by Rachel Dylan and she has started this new series off with a bang. I loved the main characters. Actually, I loved all of the characters. Bailey and Marco have a great chemistry from the start. They are from different agencies and are a little hesitant of each other at the beginning but quickly learn that in order to solve the case they are going to have to trust each other. The way that Bailey became a target as Marco’s feelings intensified made my connection with both characters that much more involved and kept me with a vested interest in what was going to happen next. The only downfall for me was the fact that the romance aspect outweighed the suspense at times. Being in an intense situation can make feelings run high but some of the dialogue seemed a little out of place at times. Fans of romantic suspense will surely want to add this to their list. If you have never read anything by Rachel Dylan this is the perfect time to get started with this intriguing new series.

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

Collateral Damage

collateral damageAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Danger Never Sleeps #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Lynette Eason keeps getting better with each new novel and fans of her work will absolutely love the start to this new series.

Brooke Adams thought she left the danger behind after being honorably discharged from the army as a military psychiatrist. She still has nightmares about the explosion that nearly killed her while trying to move on with her life at home. When a stranger from her past shows up in her life, things get complicated and she finds her life in danger once again. Sergeant First Class Asher James may be out of the army, but he is far from danger. When he closes his eyes, the terror he faced comes back full force. After a bad family encounter, he decides it is time to see someone for help. When he sees a picture of Brooke in the paper from their time together overseas and learns she is now counseling close by, he makes an appointment hoping she will be able to understand and help him. He arrives at her office hoping to see her and finds a dead body instead. Brooke walks in moments later and is as shocked to see him as she is the dead body on her floor. It doesn’t take long for either of them to realize Brooke was the real target and now they are both in danger. Asher promises to protect her and get to the bottom of who is after her and what they want.

With each new book, Lynette Eason is developing stories that are fresh, feel real and will leave readers wanting more. I am falling more and more in love with her writing as she releases each new book. Brooke and Asher were a great lead couple in this series; I loved the way their relationship started and the fact that none of the romance in this novel felt forced. Sometimes in a romantic suspense novel, the romance can feel forced and take away from the storyline for me. Here readers get to see it all flow as it naturally should. I have to say there were a few moments I was caught by surprise with a few of the characters and their actions, a job well done. Even though part of the story takes part overseas with the fighting it was never difficult to follow who was where and keep up with the different story lines. This book has a good number of characters and I can’t wait to see how they continue to develop with the next in the series. My only complaint would be the ending fizzled just a little bit when I was hoping the tension would be ticked up an extra notch or two. Still, it was an overall wonderful read and I highly recommend it to fans of Romantic Suspense and especially fans of Lynette Eason’s writing.

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

Top Romantic Suspense for 2019

Another popular category centers on blending a budding romance between two characters while keeping a reader engaged with suspenseful action.  It was a crazy good year for romantic/suspense books, but only the best made the top of our list, even if it did exceed five!

Vow of Justice

 

1. Vow of Justice by Lynette Eason

One of the supporting characters helped nabbed the top spot.  The way her empathy was displayed and even used against her made this story what it is!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Smoke Screen

 

2. Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock brings a different type of suspense with Smoke Screen. This is a mystery with a romantic suspense angle, but the suspense here comes more from the drama within the families.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

seconds to live

 

3. Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman

The action and suspense gripped us so tightly we couldn’t put the book down.  Add that the US Marshals are showcased in this book and it easily made the top of the list.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Killing tide

 

4. The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

In this fast paced and energetic thriller, Dani Pettrey delivers her best book yet!  Readers will not want to miss this one!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

One final breath

 

5. One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn

With each book in this series readers have seen Blackburn come alive in her writing. One Final Breath brings the best of the series and gives readers even more to love. The suspense is top notch, the romance is right on point and the story flows without even trying.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Knox

 

6. Knox by Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is one of the very best romantic suspense writers on the market. Blending characters in this new series with a past series makes it a sure thing!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold aim

 

7. Cold Aim by Janice Cantore

The third installment in the Line of Duty series gives readers the best yet with more drama, action, adventure and romance than anything Cantore has written to date!

Read the full review here.

Seconds to Live

seconds to liveAuthor: Susan Sleeman

Series: Homeland Heroes #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An exciting, top notch read that kept me up late turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Romantic suspense fans will not want to miss this one.

After the US Marshals’ Witness Protection database is compromised and personal information of the witnesses is set to be auctioned off, FBI Agent Sean Nichols and his RED team are called in to investigate and find the hacker. One of the witnesses is already a target and barely makes it out alive before the RED team gets involved. Sean believes a hacker named Phantom is involved, but this is no ordinary hacker as he has outwitted many before and to crack this case Sean is going to need the help of the attacked witness.

Taylor Mills, the US Marshal in charge of protecting this witness, and Sean have a history. They have never met in person but have been talking online and gotten to know each other very well. Sean and Taylor must work with each other to stop Phantom before he takes out their witness and many others.

Sean and Taylor are both strong characters that are devoted to their jobs, which leaves little room for anything else. Even though they have gotten to know each other chatting online, working together is an entirely different ball game. I read through this incredibly fast and enjoyed it so much, especially the ending. The action and suspense gripped me so tightly I couldn’t put the book down. I loved all the bad and good guys throughout this book, each one had all the right qualities to make them believable and help carry the story along. The end does have a great twist to keep readers guessing and involved with the characters. Having a character in the US Marshals office was a nice change of pace, it’s not as common as seeing an FBI Agent or someone in another branch of law enforcement. Sean and Taylor are both experts in their fields and want to do their very best for the people they are trying to protect and help making them characters that are easy to root for and want to succeed. It may be one of the last books I’ve read this year, but it is going to make its way to my best of the year list. This is the first in a new series and I for one can’t wait to see what comes next. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a great romantic suspense books with wonderful twists and intriguing characters.

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

Off-Script and Over Caffeinated

OffscriptAuthors: Kaley Rhea, Rhonda Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: December 11, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When Rhonda and Kaley Rhea join forces, readers are guaranteed to have an excited read full of laughs, adventure and enough romance to put an extra smile on your face!

Harlow Cruise secretly despises the fact that she loves the cute little Heartcasts movies on TV. Her life is full of drama and the last thing she needs is to add more to it with drama from television. She spends her days directing the small community theatre for the church and helping her best friend Teagan work on screen plays for the theatre. When Teagan finds out Heartcast channel has opened submissions for new movies, she feels this is her chance to get her movie on the network. Harlow sets herself up to work through Teagan’s newest script and ends up being partnered with Jack Bentley, the newest member of the theatre team. Jack has never seen a Heartcast movie and isn’t sure how he got roped into helping with the production. When he meets Harlow, he wonders if all their talk of romance and made for TV movie plots can actually happen in real life.

When Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea team up to write, the outcome is truly wonderful. Reading this right before Christmas is perfect to get you in the holiday spirit with fun filled dialogue, festive storylines and genuine characters connections. There aren’t that many books that are just fun to read; many are thrilling and keep you on the edge of your seat, but it is hard to find a book that is just fun. I love picking up a book by the Rhea’s, because I know I am going to get a fun read. Harlow and Jack had a great relationship and even the unlikeable characters brought the perfect amount of rust and hardness to the story. The theater is a fun setting for the characters to work in along with a dragon, a very pregnant screen writer and a crusty old church member that is against most of what they are trying to accomplish in their fun little community plays. There is something for every reader here, a little romance, a lot of laughs and a sprinkling of suspense at the will they or won’t they moments. I recommend this book to readers looking for a fun read this holiday season. Once you pick up a Rhea book you won’t be able to put it down.

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

Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen.pngAuthor: Terri Blackstock

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Terri Blackstock has done it again with another thrilling story that pulls at the heart-strings in the most suspenseful ways! Smoke Screen had all the right moments that kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime!

After his father is convicted of murdering the preacher, and father, of the girl he has been dating in his hometown, Nate Beckett leaves the lies and rumors behind. It’s been fourteen years and his father has been released from prison. After an injury, Nate takes a break from his work as a smoke jumper, which brings him back home. Coming back home means he will have to face the girl he left behind, Brenna. When his father was accused of the murder, their relationship changed. Brenna is having a hard time dealing with the news that her father’s killer is free and her ex-husband is suing her for custody of her kids, which threatens to send her over the edge. Turning to alcohol to get through the hard times she runs into Nate at her lowest. The spark between the two is still there. With wildfires breaking out across the state and close to home, things have become much more complicated. Nate and Brenna work together to find out the truth from the past and keep her family from falling apart.

Terri Blackstock brings a different type of suspense with Smoke Screen. This is a mystery with a romantic suspense angle, but the suspense here comes more from the drama within the families. Nate with his father coming home and his feelings for Brenna with her problems with her ex coupled with the possibility of losing her kids brought up the suspense. As the story progressed and we see Brenna struggling and dealing with hardships, my heart was in my throat with anticipation. This was such a different form of suspense than most, which made it more special to read. So many characters in this book where unlikable, but they were supposed to be that way and Blackstock wrote them so perfectly. Even so, many of the same characters were very relatable which is hard to do. Making one or two characters is relatable is one thing but being able to fill the pages of a book with so many of them is difficult. Each twist and turn was perfectly placed and the story flowed so well I couldn’t put it down. This is one of my favorites by Blackstock, and I seem to say that after each one which I don’t see that changing anytime soon with the way she always seems to surprise me. I recommend this book to fans of a great mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in at all the right times.

Ruby Jane

Ruby JaneAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshalls #5

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: November 26, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The fifth and final installment in the Montana Marshall series will leave readers satisfied yet yearning for more from the Marshall family.

Ruby Jane has always tried to prove herself being the only girl in the Marshall clan. After running for her life in Russia. she falls in love with a former CIA operative only to lose him after coming home when he disappears and is presumed dead. Mack Jones doesn’t remember his past and winds up in a small town ready to move on with his life. He is working as a bartender when the bar catches fire and he makes the news. Ruby Jane sees him on the news and goes to find him. When she shows up and he doesn’t recognize her. she wants to leave him to this new life he seems happy in; but when he sees her, memories start to resurface. With the return of those memories is also the danger that has followed them from Russia. The whole Marshall family will have to work together to keep them all safe and intact.

I went into this book thinking it wasn’t going to be my favorite of the series but excited to see how it would tie up all the loose ends. The final payoff at the end of Ruby Jane was far better than I could have expected. I absolutely loved the way this book ended and kept me glued to the edge of my seat. Ruby Jane and York had perfect chemistry, even when he couldn’t remember her or anything about their relationship. Each member of the Marshall family brings so much to each book and Susan May Warren is one of the very best at tying together all these amazing characters. Family is at the center of these novels and Ruby Jane is no different with the entire family in the mix to help each other and get to the bottom of the mysteries that has lasted through all five books in the series. Not only is family at the center, but faith plays a big role as well. York is the character that shows the most growth in this book, his passion for wanting to become a better person will leave the reader inspired. I have loved this entire series and hate to see it come to an end. A few little loose ends were left open leaving me to wonder if there might be more to come.

I recommend this book to fans of Susan May Warren and the Montana Marshall series. This is not one that can be read as a stand-alone as so much from the rest of the series is tied up in this final installment. Even though I thought this wasn’t going to be my favorite of the series I am pleased to say it finished up the series wonderfully and I feel readers will be pleased at with the conclusion.

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

Deadly Deceit

Deadly deceitAuthor: Natalie Waters

Series: Harbored Secrets #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second book in the Harbored Secrets book is even more heart pounding and thrill seeking than the first! With heartthrob Ryan at the helm, this is sure to be a fan favorite!

Vivian DeMarco has no desire to stay in Walton, Georgia after finishing her job. Being a journalist, she goes where the story is and right now the story is in Walton. When her boss calls her about a lead, she shows up at his house to find him dead from an apparent allergic reaction. Vivian knows she must search for the truth. Vivian’s search leads her to assist Deputy Ryan Frost. Together they work to find answers and stay safe as Vivian finds herself in danger and Ryan finds himself falling for her. The person behind all their troubles is called The Watcher and is about to force Vivian to confront her past. She will discover how far she is willing to go for a headline.

Natalie Waters Harbored Secrets is a fantastic series full of fun characters and storylines that will keep you hooked until the very end. Deadly Deceit starts off with a heart-pounding storyline full of emotion that sucked me in and kept me glued to the pages. I loved the way Vivian was having a hard time being in Walton but still connected with her boss and was emotionally invested in finding out the truth of what happened. She wasn’t in it just for the story, she wanted to find the story and protect the people in town she had come to care about. The emotional investment she had in helping to solve the murder is what pulled me into the story. If I can feel that emotion with the characters, I am going to be much more invested in the story. The action and suspense were top notch for me followed by the romance. Vivian and Ryan had a rocky road and I loved how it wasn’t an easy coming together for them. The obstacles put in their way were real and difficult to overcome. It was much more believable than a lot of the romance stories today. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good romantic suspense read with a solid emotional attachment to the characters.

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