Lethal Intent

Author: Cara Putman

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 12, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A medical/legal thriller that gets darker with every twist and turn!

Caroline Bragg is excited to start her new job as legal counsel for Praecursoria, a research lab working on cutting edge therapy for cancer treatment. Along with the new job, her relationship with Brandon Lancaster has never been better. Just when she thinks things can’t get any better, her world comes crashing around her as the job she thought was so perfect starts to show all is not as it seems and with each new stress at the job her relationship with Brandon becomes more and more strained. Brandon has been running a foster home and one of the kids in his care, Bethany, is very sick and a candidate for the new research. When the treatment doesn’t show the same results for Bethany as others and things don’t add up as they should, Caroline starts to wonder if things in the company are not as good as she and others were led to believe. The more she digs, the more she discovers the danger she and others are now in and wonders how much she might lose to expose the truth.

I have always loved Cara Putman’s writing style. She is a lawyer and her legal thrillers have always been top notch with so much passion, emotion and realistic content the story flies by. Lethal Intent is more of a medical thriller than legal thriller to me; the story revolves more around the sick kids and research than anything legal and I think that slowed it down for me. I didn’t feel any real tension in the story until almost halfway through. At that point though the story did fly by and was much more enjoyable, just not the usual fast paced thriller I am used to from her. The characters each had moments to shine, I enjoyed Caroline’s tenacity and commitment to follow through in finding the truth. Brandon was determined to do anything he could to help those he cared about. This is the kind of story that takes patience and the pay out at the end is good if you stick with it and don’t give up after the slow start. I recommend this to readers that enjoy medical/legal thrillers with a little romance thrown in the mix.

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

Tidewater Bride

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Frantz always does her research and it shines through in Tidewater Bride.

Selah Hopewell thoroughly enjoys matching other people up, especially the tobacco brides that arrive into the new colonies.  Unfortunately, there are more men than there are available women, which she has no intent to marry as she is taking care of her family’s shop.  When she meets Xander Renick, who is married to his business, can she find him a mate?  Or will she find what has been missing in her life?

Laura Frantz never ceases to amaze me in the amount of research that she puts in for each of her novels.  Tidewater Bride is no exception.  From the true era language to the description of scenery and activity, it all rang true.  I love how she makes me do my own research to determine the accuracy of hers, which has always showed to be true.  I also love that the book doesn’t center on romance but has action to move the story along.  Readers of early frontier colonial era stories will love this one as well!

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

Active Defense

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Danger Never Sleeps #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third installment in Lynette Eason’s newest series is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Eason just gets better and better with each book!

Heather Fontaine thought she left life and death situations behind when she left Afghanistan, but after she is home she gets the feeling someone is following her and has broken into her house. She finds a threat to her friends and is afraid they will be in danger if she stays in town. Not wanting to be the reason something bad happens to anyone she cares about, Heather takes off with only a text to let them know she is okay but needs to be gone for a while. None of that sits well with her friends and they set out to find her. It doesn’t take long for them to locate her hiding out in a small town and Travis Walker sits back and watches her to make sure she is okay and safe. Travis owns his own security firm and knows how to stay in the shadows and keep a close eye on Heather without being spotted. When the danger follows Heather to the small town, Travis must work with her to figure out who wants her dead and why before they both end up casualties.

Lynette Eason really is getting better with each book and there is no exception with Active Defense. I read this in one day, I read a lot, but it is rare for me to finish a book in one day. The book started with a bang and didn’t let up until the very end. Eason has a way of crafting characters that suck you into their lives and stories and make you feel deeply for them, a brilliant way to write that many authors aren’t nearly as good at. I have found when I read if I can’t connect with a character or feel for them in any way, either nervous when they are in danger or excited when a relationship goes good, I have a hard time staying with the book. In each book that Eason writes, I have found one or more characters that pull me in and don’t let go until the very end. The story was incredibly fast paced, easy to follow and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. A perfect book to start the new year with in a wonderfully engaging series.  I recommend this to fans of romantic suspense. Even if you haven’t read any in the series it would be okay to start with this one as the back story of the other characters does help but it is not crucial to following the story to have read the previous in the series.

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

2020 Top Romantic Suspense

Quite possibly the hardest category to narrow down because there are so many talented authors! Several of our favorite authors made it on the list this year and we hope you see one or two you enjoy as well!

Airborne by Diann Mills

Airborne is by far the best book Mills has written and one of the very best we read all year. The suspense was top notch and the plot concerning a virus outbreak was rather timely. This was an easy choice for our top pick!

Read the full review.

Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason

Eason continues to get better at giving readers the story they want! This is likely the best book she has written and we seem to think that every time she releases another book. The connection we felt with the characters made this one of our top books for the year!

Read the full review.

The Escape by Lisa Harris

Action packed with tension at all the right moments that kept us on the edge of our seat until the very last page. There was just the right amount of romance at the right times to keep the story moving and not slow down the pace with the suspense and action. With relatable characters and a story line that keeps readers on the edge of their seat, The Escape was an easy choice!

Read the full review.

The Way of the Brave & The Heart of a Hero by Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren really is in a league of her own when it comes to romantic suspense! The Global Search and Rescue series proves that with a shadow of a doubt. Both of these books are packed with action and adventure with the right amount of romance sprinkled in for good measure. Readers will be aching for more!

Read the full review for The Way of the Brave.

Read the full review for The Heart of a Hero.

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey

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! It also sets up a new storyline for book three that we can’t wait to read!

Read the full review.

Backlash

Author: Rachel Dylan

Series: Capital Intrigue #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second installment in the Capital Intrigue series gives readers all the thrills, chills, and heart stopping moments I’ve come to expect from Rachel Dylan.

Layla Karam joined the CIA as an analyst, she never wanted anything more, especially after she was thrust into a dangerous operation with the DEA against a major drug cartel that puts a target on her back. When one of her team members ends up murdered, she and the rest of the team scramble to stay safe. Along with staying alive there is now an internal investigation against her causing Layla to turn to the one person she never wanted to see again for help, her ex-boyfriend Hunter McCoy. Hunter is a private investigator and uses his skills to try and find out who is trying to sabotage Layla’s career. Together they discover a mole inside the DEA that has given information to the cartel on the team. Layla must do the hardest thing imaginable, put her trust in the man she used to love to keep her alive and keep her heart safe from him.

This is the second book in the Capital Intrigue series and is just as enjoyable as the first. With all the characters in high risk positions, the story starts with a bang and doesn’t stop until the very end. I liked Layla, she wasn’t looking for danger and high stakes missions, she preferred to stay back and do the job she was brought on for, an analyst. However, others higher up had different plans for her though. She could have played the pity card, but she never did, she got mad and fought back. The relationship aspect of the novel was well played, there were several different directions it could have gone but I was pleased with the way Dylan wrote it. Even though this book is mainly about Layla and Hunter I couldn’t help but be pulled in by the scenes with Izzy, (I’m hoping the next book in the series focuses more on her.) There was just something about her story line that pulled me in faster than the others. There are a lot of tense scenes and violence, but it is never written in a way that would turn squeamish readers away. With that being said, the whole story was an enjoyable read, I read it in just over a day. It had been a good while since I read the first one and it didn’t keep me from enjoying any of the story which leads me to say that even though this is the second in the series it could be read as a standalone without any problem. Fans of the romantic suspense will not want to miss this one.

Closer Than She Knows

Author: Kelly Irvin

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 9, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A great, clean, action-packed mystery with just the right amount of romance at all the right moments!

Instead of going into the family business of law enforcement, Teagan O’Rourke decides to go her own route and become a court reporter. Listening to hours of real-life murders and dealing with crime scene photos, her life is covered in death and destruction, but she has never been the victim of a crime. Until now. As she is riding in the car with a young police officer, the car window explodes and the officer is killed from a sniper rifle shot. The man responsible starts leaving Teagan notes signed by different murderers from some of her favorite mystery novels. Teagan’s family is in law enforcement and come to her aid along with one of her oldest friends, Max Kennedy. Max wants to be more than friends with Teagan but is afraid his past will keep them apart. Teagan is determined to keep those she loves from being hurt, but with each passing moment, the killer comes closer to her and those she is striving to protect proving he is closer than she imagined and doesn’t plan to stop until he finishes what he started.

Closer Than She Knows was a fun, exciting read that was full of mystery and suspense with just the right amount of romance. I flew through the pages of this one and enjoyed the story. While it was predictable at times, it wasn’t one that I knew everything that was about to happen; I just happened to figure out the bad guy quite a bit earlier before it was revealed. The relationship between Teagan and Max was paced perfectly, while they had known each other a long time, nothing was rushed; but when she was in danger, the feelings they had for each other couldn’t stay dormant any longer. It works perfectly in true fashion that when we are in high stress situations our true emotions tend to surface even if we want to keep them at bay. I enjoyed the rest of the family dynamics, the way Teagan related with her stepsiblings and her father was all very realistically written. The ending was not a big surprise for me, but some might not catch on to the clues early on that I saw. I would recommend this book to those that enjoy a good, clean suspense with romance that brings the suspense up a notch.

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

Two Reasons to Run

Author: Colleen Coble

Series: Pelican Harbor #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With terrorism, a family’s safety at stake, and more suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat, Two Reasons to Run is a must read!

Police Chief Jane Hardy is still learning to live with the fact that she has found her son. Her father kept so many secrets from her and now her son’s father Reid is in her life whether she wants him to be or not. When she is approached by a local woman saying her son is missing, she starts looking into the disappearance and possible murder on the oil platform Zeus. Soon, she is in the middle of a terrorist plot to bring down the oil platform with the life of her son is now in jeopardy. Reid has been investigating the oil platform as well for a documentary and they together work to expose who is trying to bring the platform down and keep their son safe. Tensions fly as they get closer to catching a killer but also further from the safety for their family that they are trying so hard to bring back together.

Two Reasons to Run is the second installment in the Pelican Harbor series; normally books like these, romantic suspense series, don’t always have to be read in order. They might have some of the same characters but each one has a new set of protagonist male and female that we get to see work through their problems to try and be together. With this one though, I had read the previous book, but it had been a while and I felt like I needed to go back and reread it to fully get the story in front of me. The further I got in the story, the better I remembered what had been happening and was able to follow along. That said, this is not one for a new reader to pick up without knowing the back story of the characters. One of the best aspects of this story was the family relationship Jane had and the way it tugged at the emotions. When her son is threatened, especially since she had just gotten him back in her life, it took the stakes to a whole new level. This was a great sequel with so much more at stake for the characters that readers will have no problem making a personal connection and letting the story pull at their hearts as they turn the pages. I was able to read this one very quickly and really felt pulled into the story once it got going. The end was very satisfying but also left open enough for another in the series to follow. I recommend to readers that have read the first in the series and are ready for far more action, suspense and romance. 

Still the One

Authors: Susan May Warren & Rachel D. Russell

Publisher: Sunrise Publishing

Release Date: January 12, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Readers of Susan May Warren’s Deep Haven Series will not want to miss this new edition set in Deep Haven written with Rachel Russell that will give you all the feels! 

When Cole Barrett returns to Deep Haven to deal with selling his grandfather’s house after he is sent to a nursing home with dementia, he only wants to get the house sold and leave. His memories of his grandfather and time in Deep Haven are not the best. The only good memory of his time there was a friend, Megan Carter. When he had to leave quickly as a teenager, he never even got to say goodbye to her and in the years that passed as he entered the army and served, he never forgot the kindness she showed him.

Megan is barely keeping her head above water. She and her nine-year-old son, Josh, live in the apartment above Cole’s grandfather’s garage and she works as a wedding planner to support her son by herself. His father has never been in the picture and since the rest of her family moved away, it has just been the two of them. When Cole shows back up in town trying to sell the house, she is furious that he left without saying goodbye, never kept in touch and is now trying to ruin her life by making her find another place to live. It doesn’t take long for sparks to fly between the two of them, something neither are ready for. Will they be able to work out their differences and find some common ground or end up at each other’s throats?

Let me start off by making a confession. Before reading Still the One, I had not read any of the Deep Haven novels. I have read many other novels by Susan May Warren and was well assured that I would enjoy this one. I was curious how a new author would compare to Warren’s style. Having said that, I am pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed this story, Rachel Russell did a fantastic job of bringing these characters to light, making me have an immediate connection to them and letting the story progress at a perfect pace. With contemporary romance, if you read much in this genre, you know what you are going to get when you start the story, how it plays out depends on the skill of the author. I have come to expect a lot from the writing of Susan May Warren and loved the idea of her guiding a new author down this path. Even though I had yet to read any other novels in the Deep Haven series, I had no trouble following this one and enjoying the story. Cole and Megan had such a wonderful story and the way they had to intertwine their relationship with her son Josh being in the picture made me connect and root for them so much more. They are flawed, real, and emotional characters that made it more enjoyable for me, things didn’t work out picture perfect and nothing was rushed. This is one I highly recommend to readers that have loved the Deep Haven series and those new to it but are fans of Warren and Contemporary Romance writing.

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

The Escape

Author: Lisa Harris

Series: US Marshals #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 3, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

By far one of the best romantic suspense books I have read this year! Action packed with tension at all the right moments that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.

A prisoner transfer seems like a routine assignment for US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn, until the plane crashes and they are lost in the wilderness somewhere between the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. One prisoner is dead and the other escapes in the chaos of the crash. This is the first assignment Madison and Jonas have had together; they met once before at a training but this is their first time working together and it is going to take all of their combined skills to stay alive and accomplish their mission. Their escaped prisoner is smart, cunning, dangerous and determined to not get caught. They follow his trail across the country in a game of cat and mouse as they learn more about each other and fear the danger of losing one another.

I have read a lot of Lisa Harris books and enjoyed some and felt let down by others. This story though gripped me from the very beginning and didn’t let go. The action was right there and pulled me into the story and stayed straight until the very end. There was just the right amount of romance at the right times to keep the story moving and not slow down the pace with the suspense and action. A lot of romantic suspense books lean more to the romance side than suspense and for me that just slows the story down. I enjoy a very slow build on the romance, much more realistic for me. Madison and Jonas had the past meeting to start their relationship but nothing is rushed. They stay focused on the task at hand of finding the escaped prisoner and not making lovey eyes at each other. One of the most recent books I read started that way and it threw me out of the story quickly and kept me from really enjoying what turned out to be a decent book, could have been great if it didn’t start that way.

The plot of this book is great and fast moving. By starting it with the plane crash our main characters are in peril and danger right away and my heart was pumping just as fast as I could turn the page. Madison is a tough female protagonist that also has a lot of pain from her past keeping her from moving on in relationships, it makes her real and relatable. She has a great relationship with her sister which is also used to show the danger she faces in her job, and those she cares about end up in danger as well. Of all the Lisa Harris books I have read I would easily say this is my favorite and one I recommend to readers that like a high thrill ride with characters they can relate to and a story that will keep them on the edge of their seat late into the night.

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

Point of Danger

Author: Irene Hannon

Series: Triple Threat #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fantastic start to a new series by one of the best in romantic suspense. The beginning wasn’t a hit for me, but the rest of the story panned out beautifully making up for the rough start.

Eve Reilly isn’t worried when a few negative comments or message come her way. After hosting a controversial radio talk show for a while, she is used to getting the occasional hate mail. When a suspicious looking package ends up on her doorstep and she hears ticking, she knows things have gone too far. It’s time now for the police to be involved. Detective Brent Lange is called to the scene and can’t find any evidence linking someone to the incidents involving Eve. The threats don’t stop with the ticking package on her doorstep, things escalate quickly, and Brent must use all of his skills to find who is targeting Eve and how to stop them before anyone gets hurt. He quickly starts to feel something more for Eve, but his heart has been torn out before and he doesn’t want to go through anything like that again. Can he protect Eve while also protecting his heart?

Let me start by saying Irene Hannon is a fantastic Romantic Suspense writer. I love almost all of what she writes. While I’m not saying I didn’t love this story, I just have a few issues with how it started. Only seven pages in we have our main male protagonist, Brent, going to the scene of the ticking package left on Eve’s doorstep. The first thing he notices when he arrives is her every toned muscle, notable legs, gold-flecked irises, lush lashes and full lips. While all of this is beautiful description, I have a problem with it being the first thing he notices when called to a possible bomb threat. His mind as a detective should be focused on the scene around him, anyone that looks out of place, if the bomb squad has arrived and any number of things other than what was described here. This one page of description totally took me out of the story for about the next hundred pages. The ending played out great and I did greatly enjoy the story overall. I have read many romantic suspense stories over the years and come to realize how it works, not a problem with that, but don’t want to see this kind of description and romantic emotions from a character on page seven. Irene Hannon has been around long enough and written enough best sellers to get away with something like this, but I have come to expect better of her as a writer and hope to not see this again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be picking up the next she writes without a doubt and continue recommending her to readers without thinking twice. I do recommend this to readers that are into romantic suspense and want a good heart-pounding story to keep them up long past bedtime. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.