A Secret to Die For

A secret to die forAuthor: Lisa Harris

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun romantic suspense read with just the right amount of tension to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Grace Callahan is trying to get her life back on track. After suffering the loss of her daughter and going through a divorce, she has moved back to Dallas and is helping others as a psychologist.  As the anniversary of her daughter’s death approaches, she readies herself for an emotional roller coaster.  Little does she know it is about to get a lot worse.  She is drawn into a major terrorist scheme involving murder, cyber hacking and the reintroduction of an old friend.  Detective Nate Quinn is dealing with his own demons when he lands the case of a murder that leads him to Grace Callahan, someone he hasn’t seen or thought of in years.  Finding out how deeply she is involved in the case, even without her realizing it, and trying to keep them both alive is a bit much for his first case back after being involved in a bombing that killed eighteen, including his partner.  Together, Grace and Nate will have to work together to stop the cyber-attack and keep the country safe.

Lisa Harris’s newest installment is definitely one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats and questioning everything they think they know of the characters until the very end. I love when I read a romantic suspense book that is not filled with sappy romance scenes.  To me, the romance is built by the tension and the way the characters come together by tackling the tough moments and coming out the other side stronger.  Grace was a great character.  She was strong and determined and even though she wanted to give up at times after the struggles she faced, she didn’t.  I also loved that in certain scenes it might have been convenient for a big strong male character to come in and save the day didn’t happen.  Grace was able to pull up her boot straps and do just fine on her own.  The ending felt a little rushed and I was hoping for a little more but still not much to complain about.  I hope that we can see more from these character in the future.  I recommend this to readers that love Lisa Harris and romantic suspense reads.  If you haven’t read anything by Lisa Harris before this would be the perfect book to get you started with her writing.

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

Formula of Deception

Formula of DeceptionAuthor: Carrie Stuart Parks

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A troubled past, a prideful family, a government conspiracy, and a serial killer all collide for an incredible mystery!

Murphy Anderson’s sister’s body was never found, but she knows that she died at the hands of a serial killer. A killer that she helped put in prison, but not without having a scar left on her face from his knife.  But she’s changed her name and escaped to Kodiak, Alaska to try to piece together where her sister’s body might be and hide from the killer should he ever escape.  When the police learn that she has worked as a forensic artist (little white lie), they ask her to help draw up a sketch that a dying man remembers from ten years ago concerning five bodies he found on a remote Aleutian island.  She reluctantly agrees to help diagram the island scene for the police and discovers an Quonset hut from World War II with a body still inside.  As she finds herself pulled deeper into this cold case, people around her begin to die.  What is someone trying to protect?  And how many will they kill to keep it secret?

Any book set in Alaska automatically intrigues me. Maybe it is just someplace that I want to visit.  Maybe it is because my grandfather was stationed in the Aleutians in World War II doing work that still hasn’t been declassified.  Either way, I was ready to read this book.  I’ve read several of the Gwen Marcey series and figured this would be a standalone book, which it is to a point.  However, having read the other series, there is a tie in that only followers of Parks will see for what it is.

Murphy, very much like the character Gwen Marcey, has a troubled past that seems to follow her wherever she goes. She is also an artist like Gwen and would not have been in this situation to help solve the mystery were it not for Gwen.  If I haven’t got you interested in the other series, then what more do you need?  Right off the bat, I took to Murphy; however, I felt that something was amiss that is quickly discovered early on in the book as well as something that is discovered late in the book.  The supporting characters quickly rotate through the book and I never really got to know any of them well enough before they were either dead or somehow removed from the storyline.  Even so, the story flowed well and I enjoyed the overall mystery of what happened during World War II that continued to set events in motion seventy years later.

The only drawback I had was that the ending gave me some whiplash with twist after twist. I would have like to have seen it tied up a little more firm.  But it is a great book that has clean content that several readers will enjoy.

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

Every Wicked Man

Every Wicked ManAuthor: Steven James

Series: The Bowers Files: The New York Years #3

Publisher: Berkley Publishers

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

For the first time, I found myself crying at the end of a Steven James book! Every Wicked Man is the final book in the Bowers files and I am sad to see this series end.  Steven James has created one of the best series out there and fans will love the way things come to an end.

Patrick Bowers is called in on a case when a senator’s son commits suicide and the video is shown live online. It turns out this is not the first video shown online like this. As Patrick looks deeper into things, he discovers a mystery that ties into a centuries old code that might be the key to solving his case.  Not only is Patrick having to deal with one of his most difficult cases ever, he is also having family issues.  His new wife is off on a spiritual retreat and he feels she is keeping something from him.  Tessa, his new stepdaughter, is as obstante as ever and he is doing his best to find a balance of being an FBI agent and a family man.

When it comes to finding a good book that is hard to put down and keeps the pages turning faster than you would have thought possible, there is on one better than Steven James. I have loved the Bowers Files since the very beginning and am sad to see it come to an end. I understand that all good things must come to an end and this is a very fitting end.  We get to see the origin of how Patrick really becomes a father and what happens to his wife that shapes him into the agent he becomes in the later Bowers Files.  Almost all of our favorite characters are back, Tessa, Christy, Calvin, and Ralph.  These origin stories have been very enjoyable as a way to better understand the team we have grown to love.  Steven James has a way of drawing readers in and making them connect with the story and characters like no other author I have ever read.  It is such a rare occurrence to find a book series that spans eleven books and is still as good if not better than when it began.  Some may look at the book being over five hundred pages and feel a little turned off but it reads faster than most half its size and with his writing style James moves the story along smoothly.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a great suspense read by one of the very best authors ever.

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

Thirst of Steel

Thirst of SteelAuthor: Ronie Kendig

Series: The Tox Files #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As the final book in the Tox Files concludes, readers will have their emotions taken on a roller coaster ride. Ronie Kendig brings one of the best novels of the year and all others I’ve read will have a hard time toping it. 

The Arrow and Flame Order has plagued Cole Russell and his group for years. Just when they think it’s over, things heat up again when Tox has to leave Haven Cortes, the woman he loves, to go deep undercover and complete a final mission to find the sword of Goliath and keep it from the order.  The AFO wants the sword more than anything and use Tzivia and Ram’s father to get them to find the sword for them.  Tzivia wants to see her father alive again, even after he walked out on them years ago, and Ram is afraid his secret will be exposed and his life in more danger if he doesn’t do this.  With the team being split apart and loyalties in question, Tox, Ram and the others have to work harder than ever before to protect those around them and do what is right.

Ronie Kendig has done it again with another spectacular novel about Tox and his team. After three books, it is hard to not love these characters and feel deeply impacted by what happens to them. Thirst of Steel is one of the best books as far as getting the reader deeply invested in every single character, no matter how much page time they receive.  I enjoyed seeing Ram and Tzivia at the fore front of this novel and watching them flesh out a little more than in the previous novels in the series.  There is no stop to the action, adventure and suspense in this novel and I am very sad to see this series come to an end.

I have really enjoyed the teams adventures and the way they have tied their missions in with history and ancient artifacts. It kind of makes it feel like national treasure at times, which makes the story even more fun and exciting.  When reading a Ronie Kendig book you can be sure of a few things, you are going to have characters you can’t help but fall in love with and root for them to succeed.  Secondly, you are going to have a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.  I love that I know that going into these books, it makes everything better and Kendig never disappoints.  A lot of books written today have a lot of unnecessary filler material that could be skipped and still enjoy the story, these are not like that.  I read every page and get something from every line and feel so much more connected to the story and characters by the end.  That shows how good the writing is and how much effort was put into it and I for one appreciate that as a reader.  This is a book I recommend to all Kendig fans as well as those looking for a great suspense thriller.  I do recommend reading the first in the series before starting this one to have a better understanding of the story.

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

After Nightfall

after nightfallAuthor: A. J. Banner

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fascinating who-dun-it that feels like playing a game of Clue.

Marissa Parlette has finally found joy in her love life. She has loved working as a speech language therapists with children and met her fiancée at the school his daughter attends, who also happens to be one of Marissa’s pupils.  She has also invited her childhood friend Lauren back into her life after several years apart when she discovered Lauren’s betrayal.  On the eve of Marissa’s engagement, Lauren is flirting openly with her fiancée and she confronts Lauren about it.  Lauren suddenly leaves and tells Marissa that she has something to tell her about her fiancée.  Unfortunately she never gets the chance when Marissa discovers Lauren’s lifeless body on the beach after falling over a hundred foot cliff, which doesn’t make sense given Lauren’s fear of heights.  Each of the guests at the party appear to have a motive for Lauren’s death with the secrets that are hidden behind the layers.  Will the true reason and murderer ever be brought to light?

 What a fun mystery read! This book was almost like stepping into a game of Clue.  It opens directly to the setting of the engagement party where the reader gets to meet all of the characters involved.  Personalities are put on display for the reader to see and get an understanding of the dynamic between the characters.  Then the transition to finding the body and the investigation begins.  Each character has something to hide and Marissa is in the middle of it all.  I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Marissa to try to understand who was behind it all.  And it wasn’t some simple open and shut case, it was more secretive than that.  Needless to say, as the secrets came to light, several were appalling, but still not conducive to finding the murderer.  Being the detective on this case was definitely fun.

There was some strong language throughout the book and a little bit of sex, but nothing graphic for readers. Even so, I still recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good mystery.

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

The Edge of Over There

Edge of over thereAuthor: Shawn Smucker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

I love it when the middle of a story gets filled in!

The Tree of Life changed everything. It changed the way Abra saw the world.  It changed her relationship with her family.  It even changed her relationship with Samuel.  On the day Tennin fell and Abra became the next guardian of the tree of life, she started to notice changes around her.  It started in the hospital where she and Sam were recovering.  That is where she met the next demon taking over the search for the tree.  She was even more ruthless than Jinn and more ambitious.  She not only wanted here, she wanted over there too.  Even with all Abra had learned, nothing could have prepared her for what was going to happen in New Orleans.  No one saw it coming or could have guessed what was going to happen.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even more than The Day the Angels Fell.  This one fills in part of the gaps between when Samuel and Abra destroyed the tree and Abra’s funeral, at least one event in particular.  The previous book left that section pretty wide open and I’m glad this was the transition to the next phase.  I enjoy the way that Smucker is weaving these worlds together to intertwine with popular stories that have been heard concerning different events.  I also enjoyed the story of Leo and Ruby and how it tangled into Abra’s story, even though parts of it left me aching.  I hope to see more of Ruby in the next book and maybe she can find her way into Samuel’s life.  Either way, I’m sure it will be another fantastic read!

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.