A Touch of Gold

A touch of goldAuthor: Annie Sullivan

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: August 14, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Filled with fun, adventure and a tale that kept me deeply intrigued by the richness of the story!

We all know the story of King Midas and his golden touch, but there is more to the story than many have heard. After his golden touch almost killed his daughter, Kora, King Midas had the golden touch taken back from him.  Princess Kora still shows the effects of her father’s curse, her skin has a golden shine and she is rumored to have secret powers of her own.  Afraid to be out in public, she stays hidden away in the castle and keeps her skin covered from everyone.  One day, a young duke arrives and helps Kora see that there might be some in the world who won’t run in fear from her. Things turn frantic when a thief steals her father’s gold and Kora is the only person able to track him.  She can sense the gold and sails off on an adventure unlike any she has ever had to keep the kingdom from falling apart and her father from fading away.

This is the first book I have read by Annie Sullivan as well as the first about King Midas. I was very intrigued by the premise of this story and it did not disappoint.  Each chapter brought new characters and adventures that propelled the story ever forward.  Kora was stronger than she realized, it just took being in a different location with different people for her to test her limits and see what she was capable of.  I loved the way the characters naturally flowed together, regardless of if they were for or against Kora and her mission. Even the secondary characters made an impact and I felt connected to each and every one of them.  There is a good bit of romance throughout but that just adds to the tension when things are not going the way the characters would like.  This story is one I can truly say is driven forward with tension, what each character desires most is put in danger, and what that may be is different for each character making the story tight and true to its purpose.  Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I recommend it to readers who enjoy adventure, suspense, a little romance, and a fun look at a fantastical tale.

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

Called to Protect

Called to protectAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Blue Justice #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

By far the best book by Lynette Eason I have read and maybe even the best book I have read all year. The tension was so crisp keeping me on the edge of my seat until the very end!

Chloe St. John is one of the top officers in the K-9 unit with her partner Hank. After a rough break up, Chloe has decided Hank is the only man she wants in her life.  She and Hank have been working on a human trafficking case that has ties to her missing cousin.  US. Marshall Blake MacCallum has been on protective detail of a judge in town after the judge receives death threats for his tougher stance on human trafficking.  When Blake’s daughter goes missing, he receives a message telling him that if he wants to see his daughter alive he has to kill the judge.  A task force is assembled to take down the people behind everything and Chloe and Blake work together to find his daughter and hopefully find answers to what happened to Chloe’s cousin.

This has got to be one of the very best romantic suspense novels I have ever read. Most of the books I read lead up to that point of biting my fingernails to see what is going to happen and then it stops the tension before it actually gets to that point, something that is truly frustrating.  I usually feel that the author could have carried the action and tension a little further, even without getting gory or to a point that would turn readers away.  Eason found a way in Called to Protect to make every page a nail-biting experience.  I felt a connection with Chloe from the very beginning.  Her passion for her job and her passion for helping those around her pulled me in and had me rooting for her to succeed.  I had a few questions about Blake and if I should really connect with him at first but it didn’t take long to find that connection and root for him as well.  The plot line of this story is a very sensitive subject as it deals with human trafficking.  As much as we would like to say it doesn’t exist, it does and we have to do what we can to keep it from expanding.  Without giving anything away, I loved how it played out.  It wasn’t a quick unrealistic ending, each character brought exactly what they were supposed to at just the right moment to let the scene come together perfectly.  The ending is left open for the next in the series and I feel certain it will deal with Penny, Chloe’s cousin and after the little we read of her here I can’t wait to see what more is in store for these characters.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a fast paced suspense read that is going to leave you thirsting for more.

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

The House at Saltwater Point

House at Saltwater PointAuthor: Colleen Coble

Series: Lavender Tides #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The follow up to The View from Rainshadow Bay is even more entertaining and suspenseful making it a must read and might just be Coble’s very best yet.

After learning how to fix up houses from her dad, Ellie Balckmore has turned into a house flipper in Washington state. When her sister Mackenzie disappears, Ellie knows there is more to the story and can’t believe her sister is dead.  She follows the only clues left: a massive amount of blood left on her sister’s boat, indicating she went into the water and probably won’t find her body.  Mackenzie has been tense with her ex-husband who is also Ellie’s partner in flipping houses.  Even though Ellie doesn’t believe Mackenzie is dead, Coast Guard Intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw is sent to investigate Mackenzie’s involvement in a cocaine theft.  The one thing that unites Grayson and Ellie is the search for the truth, a fact that might bring them together or keep them far apart from each other as their feelings intensify.

After reading The View from Rainshadow Bay, I kind of felt I knew what to expect with The House at Saltwater Point, a lot of romance and a little suspense.  As I read, I found myself sucked into this story much more than the previous in the series.  The chemistry between Ellie and Grayson was straightforward from the beginning and brought to a whole new level with the tension they both had to deal with while trying to figure out what happened to Mackenzie.  Not only did you have the suspense of what happened with Mackenzie and the romance firing up between Grayson and Ellie but we also find out a little about Grayson’s missing sister.  I feel that that will be explored more during the next book because so many questions were left unanswered.  Usually with unanswered questions in a book, I feel a sense of betrayal with the author, always wanting to know more of what is to come, but this was left with just the right set up for the next book.  I loved that this was such a clean read with no language, no violence, but still plenty of suspense to keep the story moving forward.  I can’t wait to see what will happen in the third book to bring everything full circle with what we have been building up to through these first two in the series.  I recommend this book to fans of Coble and those that love a good romantic suspense read.

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

The Love Letter

The Love LetterAuthor: Rachel Hauck

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Two timelines combined with two love stories and the way Hauck brings them together is better than the best Love Letter ever written.

Chloe Daschle has become known as the queen of the death scene and is in dire need of a change. She doesn’t want to be cast in a movie to just be killed off at the end.  She wants to prove she can be deeper than what is shown on screen.  Romance has never been successful for her, either on screen or in real life.  When Chloe is given the script for the best love story she has ever read, she knows she is perfect for the role of Esther Kingsley.  The story is one of romance, war, and finding out if true love can really exist.  Jesse Gates, the screenwriter, has written this based off of a one-page letter found from his ancestors.  He has had rocky relationships in the past and doesn’t feel he deserves happiness.  Jesse wants to be deeply involved in the film and ends up as one of the extras. During a scene with Chloe, the chemistry is undeniable and they both start to play out their own love story.

I have to admit I had just a little bit of trouble getting into this book, a fact that surprised me since I have loved Rachel Hauck’s previous books. Luckily, I didn’t give up on the story and loved how it played out in the end.  The love stories, both in the past and present played out in such a way that worked beautifully for the characters and settings they were in.  There were some really special moments between some of the characters, in particular between Chloe and her dad and even Jesse and Chloe’s Dad.  A few moments felt a little slow, especially towards the beginning, but once the story was part way in it really picked up the pace and captured my attention until the very end. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the ending is well worth sticking with the story.  Rachel Hauck is quickly becoming one of the best romance writers out there and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I recommend this to readers that love historical romance and a love story that spans time.

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

Dead Drift

Dead DriftAuthor: Dani Pettrey

Series: Chesapeake Valor #4

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The final book in the Chesapeake Valor series gives fans what they have longed for with the story of Luke and Kate! The best in the series by far!

It’s been seven years since Luke Gallagher disappeared leaving all the people he cared about to wonder if they would ever see him again. He has been determined to stop a deadly terrorist before returning to the life he left behind. There is no way he can feel comfortable leaving the agency until the threat is neutralized.  When the threat returns close to home, Luke knows he can’t do it alone anymore and turns to his friends to help stop what could be the deadliest terrorist attack in history.  Kate Maxwell has been perfectly happy running her own private investigator firm, even if she has used it to help keep track of the one man she loved and lost, Luke.  With Luke back in her life and working with her to track down a terrorist, they have more opportunities than she would have thought possible to be close again.  It’s hard for her to forget the pain he caused her but they have bigger problems, like staying alive with the terrorist targeting them next.

I love when a series I’ve fallen in love with wraps up and leaves a smile on my face with the conclusion. I’m sure I’m like most fans of Dani Pettrey who have anxiously been awaiting the story of Luke and Katie.  Each book in the series has had its own high points and this one brought everything full circle with all the characters we love.  One of the best aspects of Dead Drift is finally finding out who killed Griffin’s sister! I loved the way that plotline played out, although I will say I wish the suspense would have gone just a little longer and not wrapped up so quickly.  That’s just me though, I feel like our characters can always be in just a little more danger for just a little longer before things play out.  It is hard to have so many characters and story lines and still be able to wrap things up without leaving loose ends, something Pettrey has become a pro at with her series.  The Cheasapeake Valor series might have become one of my very favorites, not only for the characters but also for the way they connect with each other and bring the reader right into the story.  I hate that this is the last book in the series but can’t wait to see what comes next for Pettrey.  I recommend this book to fans of Romantic suspense and of authors like Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason and Susan May Warren.

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

Minding the Light

Minding the lightAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Nantucket Legacy

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Following the descendants of the Starbucks, Macys, and Coffin families as the first settlers of Nantucket, Minding the Light picks up a few generations after its predecessor, Phoebe’s Light.  In this story, Daphne Coffin picks up the pieces of her sister Jane’s family after Jane’s unfortunate death.  Leaving behind two children and a sea captain husband who has just returned after a six-year whaling voyage, Jane is estranged from her widowed mother who wants nothing to do with Jane.  Jane eloped with her sea captain Reynolds “Ren” Macy years ago, and socialite Lillian is more worried than her reputation than her grandchildren.  Daphne is expected to become betrothed to Ren’s cousin Tristram, one of the island’s most eligible bachelors, but something doesn’t feel right to Daphne.  As the story progresses, readers see just what Daphne battles as she does her best to care for Jane’s family.

As with Phoebe’s Light, Minding the Light alternates between Daphne’s story and excerpts from her Great Mary’s journal, which was passed down to Jane before her father’s passing.  Daphne finds it and starts reading it as she sits at Jane’s sick bed.  Not only is she comforted by the clear connection to her past relatives, she is also shocked by some family secrets.  She too takes a dip in the buried family treasure and adds her story to the legend.  By the end of the book, Daphne makes some hard decisions and learns some painful truths about family and just how far people will go to have things their way.

Minding the Light is a quick and easy read, but is far from lighthearted.  The Puritan ways of life are explored as the next generations settle Nantucket.  Slavery is abolished on the island but is still an issue there.  Secrets haunt families in ways that only buried secrets can.  It’s intriguing and sad at the same time, as the characters quickly grab readers’ attention and draw them into their dramas.  Nothing is over the top, yet it’s, in a way, nice to know that people back then had similar issues that we have today.

There is nothing in this book that should be offensive to readers, although some of the subject matter is for mature readers.  I highly recommend this book, though, as I thoroughly enjoyed the history lesson wrapped up in a soap opera of sorts.  Readers who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy keeping up with the Macys, Starbucks, and Coffins.

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

The Hope of Azure Springs

azure springsAuthor: Rachel Fordham

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

When an injured, dirty, malnourished young woman arrives in Azure Springs, Iowa, in 1881, nobody knows who she is or how she got there.  They just know that they have to take care of her and then figure out how to help her.  The Howell family, owner of the local mercantile, volunteers to take her in and nurse her back to health.  After suffering the loss of their sons to the fever, they have their own hurts to heal.  Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is tasked with finding out who this young woman is and why she has mysteriously appeared in his town.  As he gets to know the young woman, known as Em, he learns that her past is connected to some serious trouble.  Em learns to trust again as she slowly lets the Howell family, and Caleb, into her heart.  Out comes her horrible story of being shipped on an orphan train from New York to Iowa and of losing her sister along the way.  Feeling unwanted and unworthy are the lesser pains of her previous life as she lived with an unsavory man in his barn.  Despite being a plain girl with unremarkable features, Em is able to capture the heart of the town and of the town’s most eligible bachelor.

Written from a perspective of several people, The Hope of Azure Springs explores the past and how its fingers grab onto the present.  Em is trying to deal with the horrible feelings of loss, guilt, and rejection from childhood as she loses both parents and then later her sister.  She experiences additional hurt when all the other children on the orphan train are chosen and she is not; eventually, she is chosen last minute and is immediately sorry as the man who takes her in neglects her and leaves her to fend for herself.  Caleb, one of several boys, feels rejection and inadequacy.  It seems as though his parents don’t see him after his older brothers are killed in the war, and he is always living in their shadow.  Not being expressive people to begin with, he doesn’t know how they feel about him and tries to earn their love and appreciation.  Abigail Howell, the matriarch of the Howell family, has her own loss to deal with as she tries to move on after her sons die from the fever.  She dotes on her older daughter Eliza to the point of creating a spoiled brat who has no empathy towards others.  Thankfully, she realizes it before it is too late for Eliza and her younger girls.  Throughout the story, all of the characters face their troubled pasts and look forward to the future with optimism and hope.

There is some violence in the book that is mild by today’s standards.  Overall, however, The Hope of Azure Springs does not have much objectionable in it.  Adults and mature teens should be fine reading it.

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