Cross Her Heart

Cross her heartAuthor: Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cross your heart and hope to die can be a very serious pact to some. Cross Her Heart shows just how dangerous breaking that kind of promise can be.

Lisa’s life was going great, things with her job have never been better, and although her relationship with her daughter Ava is not at its best, she wouldn’t trade it for the world. A new client at work has started showing interest in her and she wonders if maybe it is time to explore that part of her world she has shut off for so long. Secrets she has kept locked deep inside have kept her from venturing out and letting others in too close. Even her best friend Marilyn doesn’t know all her secrets. Things all come unhinged when Ava rescues a boy from drowning at the lake and they all get their picture in the news bringing her past to light. With her world crumbling and not knowing who she can trust, Lisa has to figure out who is behind the horrible events in her life and how she can stop them before Lisa and Ava pay the ultimate price.

This is the first Sarah Pinborough book I have read and I have to say I was most impressed with her character development and the way she kept the secrets hidden for so long into the story. I put the pieces of the puzzle together just before all was revealed, but that isn’t because it was easy to figure things out. I am just a huge fan of thrillers and pride myself on figuring things out and not getting surprised. I loved seeing things unfold and the back and forth dialogue to reveal the story little by little. A lot of time, the dialogue between the past and present can be confusing and pull readers from the story. It takes a very skilled writer to be able to pull that off and I am happy to say Pinborough is one of the best I have read at this. Lisa was a very complicated character, and with a past as complicated as hers, she is one that readers will enjoy getting to know. Ava is a typical teenager and was written as such. One of the nicest things about this novel was the fact that even the secondary characters were relevant at every moment they were written. The language and themes throughout make this for a mature audience only and did turn me off at times. Overall I recommend this for a mature audience that loves a psychological thriller.

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

For more information of this title, please check Harper Collins.

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!

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 Suspense/Thriller for 2019

Quite possibly our favorite category and genre.  Who doesn’t love a good thrill ride?  This year’s top selections will keep you in suspense for the entire book!

 

the line between

 

1. The Line Between and A Single Light by Tosca Lee

Both of these books should be at the top of every thriller readers list!  Tosca Lee has become such a master connecting readers to her characters so that the suspense becomes personal.  Both books were published in 2019 and to get the full effect, readers will need to devour both!

Read the review of The Line Between here.

Read the review of A Single Light here.

 

 

single light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

persian

 

2. The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg

Rosenberg continues to dazzle us with his current event political thrillers that seem like they could come true tomorrow. The second book in this series continues the tension between the United States and Russia, but left us wondering how the third is going to wrap it up.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Storm rising

 

3. Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

Readers will stay engaged with this new series and fans of Kendig will be love that characters from the Tox files cross over.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

The String

 

4. The String by Caleb Breakey

It has been a long time since we’ve read a debut novel that reminded us of the writing of seasoned writers that is a thrilling, elaborate, intricately woven story and deeply twisted all at the same time.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Never look back

 

5. Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

With the back and forth writing style between the present and past, the story is told in a way that gives readers a full understanding of what is happening and how things played out.

Read the full review here.

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.

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.

Sins of the Father

Sins of the FatherAuthor: Vincent B. Davis II

Series: Consentino Crime Saga #1

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Davis creates a new world that readers are sure to enjoy!

Alonzo Consentino leads a very influential Borgata in Sicily that has been in his family for generations. People look to him for protection and fortunately things have been relatively calm. That all changes one night when a young man shows up at his house with a mutilated hand who claims that a neighboring Borgata killed his parents in cold blood because they felt insulted. Alonzo knows that he must retaliate but hates to shed more blood. Violence continues to grow and the killings become more personal until Alonzo decides he has no choice but to immigrate to America with his family. Once in America, Alonzo realizes that he doesn’t have the status he enjoyed in Sicily. With little money to get buy, he accepts a loan to start a barbershop. With hopes to raise his kids with integrity, the past begins to catch up to them in their new home. Can he keep his family safe? Or are his children doomed to repeat the sins of their father?

Davis does an incredible job of building story worlds. First creating the worlds of Rome and the surrounding countryside in his Sertoris novels and now bringing prohibition New York to life. I was easily transported to this setting and felt like I was a part of the story throughout the entire book. I enjoyed being a part of the story and getting to see the characters flesh out. Watching Sonny grow up and understand how he become the man that parts of the book alluded to were very interesting. I haven’t read much in the way of mafia novels, but I enjoyed this one so much that I think it would make a great movie.

One drawback that I have is that I was not able to relate to Sonny Consentino the way that I was able to relate to Quintus Sertoris from Davis’s previous books. I’m not sure why and it didn’t take away from the story, but the connection just wasn’t there for me. The story was still amazing, and I recommend it to readers who love historical fiction and mafia novels. There is some occasional foul language throughout the book, some implied sex scenes, and mentions of a statutory rape. I recommend this book for mature readers.

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

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.