The String

The StringAuthor: Caleb Breakey

Series: Deadly Games #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

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

A ruthless psychopath decides to play a game by choosing participants and threatening those closest to them if they don’t play. The Conductor has been adding knots to his string to play out his own little plot. Both students and staff from the university are involved and university cop Markus Haas is at the center. His girlfriend and her daughters are taken and used as leverage as the Conductor gives him assignments, each harder and potentially deadlier as the game progresses.

Steven James, Ted Dekker, and James Rubart, these are the names I go to when I know I am going to get top-notch edge of my seat thriller. Now I must add another name to the list: Caleb Breakey. The String is the best debut novel I have read in a very long time. The story starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. With so many characters tied up in the string, the motives and real bad guys can get a little confusing at times but the story itself pulls you in at such a pace there is no time to think until the last page. Markus is a strong protagonist against an equally strong antagonist with a story that readers can’t help but fall in love with. It really is hard to believe this is the first novel by Breakey.  The way he interwove the story with so many different characters was extremely well done and not something many others could have done to this level. The story is wrapped up to an extent but left open beautifully for the next in the series. I foresee potential for several in this series but only if Breakey is able to continue the story in a believable way and build these characters to make readers have an even stronger attachment to them. In a way it reminds me of Steven James’s Patrick Bowers series showing a very deep, tightly woven plot with characters that can take you on a thrill ride and save the day all while making readers fall in love with them. I love the fact that this is an edge of your seat thriller but also clean, no language and no excessive blood or violence. There is still plenty of thrill to keep readers turning the pages but in a way that shouldn’t turn away readers that don’t want any foul language or crazy. bloody scenes. I recommend this book to readers that are fans of Dekker, James and Rubart and might be looking for a new author to throw in the mix and keep them reading long into the night.

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

Cold Aim

Cold aim

Author: Janice Cantore

Series: Line of Duty #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 9, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

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!

 After a wildfire ravages part of Rogue Hollow, Police Chief Tess O’ Rourke tries to get her town back on its feet when the FBI shows up asking Tess to harbor a witness in a human trafficking case. Tess’s gut tells her that this isn’t the best idea, the town is still reeling from the last traumatic event and to put them in harm’s way again goes against her better judgment.  When Pastor Oliver Macpherson, the man she has been seeing, continues to be an example of showing compassion to those in need, Tess decides to help the young girl. This isn’t the first time Rogue Hollow has been home to sheltering a victim of human trafficking; unknown to anyone in town a woman has been keeping her own secrets for years and may prove vital in helping Tess with this request from the FBI. Tess must decide who she can trust and what the right thing to do is in order to keep everyone safe.

 Janice Cantore uses her years of experience with law enforcement to craft a wonderfully written tale that readers can both relate to and enjoy each character and the situations they tackle. Each book that Cantore writes gets better: better characterization, better story lines and better romance and action. I have enjoyed the story arc of Tess and the people of Rogue Hollow. Tess has evolved into a chief the town can trust after proving herself time and time again. She may have come into town as an outsider but now feels this is truly home and the people around her are family. Her relationship with Oliver has played out in a manner that feels real and timed at a good pace, it’s not rushed and doesn’t drag. Over the course of these novels Cantore has been able to develop these characters, even the minor roles into ones that readers are invested in and want to see pull through in the tough times. My one criticism for this book would be the villain, Ice. At times he was referred to as Ice and other times as Royal. Ice was the nickname he got, and I didn’t have a problem with that, I had a problem with the lack of consistency throughout, the name was switched sometimes within the same paragraph and that was confusing. Once the nickname was given I wish it would’ve stayed consistent. Other than that, the read was very enjoyable, and I can’t wait for Cantore’s next great adventure. I recommend this to fans of Cantore’s books as well as anyone that hasn’t read any of her books.  Even though this is the third in the series it could easily be read as a standalone.

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

Tate

Tate.jpgAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshalls #2

Publisher: Stonewater Books

Release Date: July 9, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second book in the Montana Marshall series gives readers a look into the family troublemaker.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed by this cowboy.

Tate Marshall has always been considered the family troublemaker, not a trait he likes but one he can’t seem to get past. If he sees something wrong, he can’t stop himself from trying to make things right, no matter what it costs him. When he gets assigned to be the Bodyguard of Glo Jackson, daughter of a U. S. Senator and presidential candidate, he can’t help falling hard for her, which puts them both in danger. Glo is a member of the Yankee Belles, a country western band and a target for terrorist trying to keep her mother from running for president. The band takes a break as Glo helps her mother on the campaign trail. Tate continues to protect Glo until her mother fires him for breaking his promise to not pursue Glo romantically. Tate refuses to stay at arm’s length and will stop at nothing to keep the woman he is falling in love with safe.

Susan May Warren is by far one of the top Christian Romantic Suspense writers out there today. Her second installment in the Montana Marshall series keeps the tension and romance going full force. I absolutely loved the Montana Rescue series and was hoping this series would continue my love for Montana romance by Susan May Warren. Luckily, she nailed it with Knox and now Tate follows suit keeping my love for Montana Marshalls alive and kicking. Tate is such a strong character, even if he feels weak at times.  The little vulnerabilities shown throughout make him relatable and one that readers will want to cheer for. Glo has her own issues to work through and she doesn’t feel she deserves the love Tate is willing to offer. The backstory with her family brings everything to light and shows us why readers should cheer for her and Tate. The book also gives us a glimpse into other members of the Marshall family and helps set up what will come in future books. If you have read anything by Susan May Warren before, you will be familiar with her writing style will know what is coming but still enjoy every page. I have always loved reading her books; I know what I am going to get, a great love story with plenty of suspense to keep the story moving along. I recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense novels that are clean, fast-paced, and full of characters you will fall in love with.

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

Living Lies

Living lies

Author: Natalie Walters

Series: Harbored Secrets #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great debut series for the romantic suspense market!

 When Lane Kent returns to her home town of Walton, Georgia after the death of her husband, she needs to find hope to want to stay alive. Her five-year-old son is with her and she wants to live for him but the depression she has had for years is getting dangerously close to overtaking her. Her father is running for congress and under the watchful eyes of everyone in town. Lane feels the pressure of those watchful eyes causing her world to close in on her. Things get even harder when Lane stumbles upon a dead body in the woods. She is working with the newest deputy in town, Charlie Lynch, to figure out the truth behind the murder and if her own life is worth living after all she has seen and been through.

 For her debut novel, Natalie Walters has crafted a story that will keep readers glued to the edge of their seats waiting until the final page to see how things will turn out. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, with it being the first by Walters, but I am pleased to say that I will be greatly looking forward to whatever comes next. The characters, especially Lane, were so well written that I had no trouble rooting for her to succeed and find a way out of the darkness within. The tension in each scene is brought to the surface by the way readers will fall in love with the characters. The way that Charlie develops the bond with Lane’s son and becomes involved in his life and not just Lane shows he is the perfect fit for their little broken family. One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me was the dynamic between Lane and the rest of her family. The problems she has been dealing with for years come full circle showing a great character arc. The flow of the story was well done, and I felt it was just the right length with little fluff to take away from the story. Romantic suspense in the Christian market has a lot of really great authors and can be hard to compete with but Walters had found her own unique voice and style of writing here that will please readers.  I will gladly pick up the next in the series as soon as I can and can’t wait to see what happens next with these characters. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good romantic suspense novel and are fans of Lynnette Eason, Diann Mills, and even Irene Hannon are going to want to pick this one up.

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

 

The Eighth Sister

the eighth sister

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #1

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Robert Dugoni’s newest series starts off with a stellar story that will hook readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Another well-crafted story by one of the very best.

 Charles Jenkins thought he had left his spy days behind him decades ago. He has a wife, son, and a new baby on the while with his security business is falling apart.  Just when things are at their worst, his past comes back into the present when his former bureau chief shows up with an assignment for him that could save him financially. He must travel to Moscow to find a secret Russian agent supposed to have been killing members of a US spy cell known as the seven sisters. With no other alternative, Charles agrees to the mission and heads to Russia where he finds what he least expects, the eighth sister. His mission doesn’t go off without complications and he finds himself trying to escape with no help from his country and risks his life to get back to his family he left behind.

 In typical Robert Dugoni fashion. readers are given a thriller that is unlike anything written by most authors out there. When Dugoni writes a thriller, readers are going to be pulled in and given a story they will be thinking about for days after they turn the last page. I loved the way he tied in David Sloane even though this was not a David Sloane novel. Charles Jenkins looks to be a stellar lead character for this new series and is able to bring in secondary characters that I can’t wait to see how they are further developed in future novels. The first half plays out as more of a spy thriller and the second half goes more into a legal thriller. Each are great in their own way and are still able to drive the story forward with tension between the characters and what is going to happen. This is very different from the Tracy Crosswhite series, which is my absolute favorite series. I was a little skeptical going into this that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but I am happy to say this was another great read by Dugoni.  I really enjoyed the start to this new series and can’t wait to see what will come next. I recommend this to readers that enjoy Dugoni’s writing style and a great spy/legal thriller. If you have never read anything by Dugoni, the start of this series would be a great place to begin your journey.

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

Justice Delivered

Justice deliveredAuthor: Patricia Bradley

Series: Memphis Cold Case #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Patricia Bradley delivers one of her absolute best! Fans will not want to miss out on this installment of the Memphis Cold Case series. 

After years of being a victim of sex trafficking, Carly Smith has made her way out and is trying got find a new life for herself. Trusting others come isn’t something that she is ready to do just yet, and no matter how hard she tries to leave her past behind her it continues to haunt her. She knows she should have gone to the police when she first got away, but she fears if she goes to the police they won’t believe her or worse, might just send her back to the people who held her captive. When she finally feels comfortable to reach out to her family and reconnects with her sister, she thinks all is well until her sister ends up dead and her niece is kidnapped. Carly must face her fears and come forward with what she knows to save her family. When all else fails. she takes matters into her own hands and goes after the kidnappers herself.

There was something about this story that really drew me in more than any others in the series so far. The topic can be sensitive but unfortunately it is currently something we must deal with.  Patricia Bradley did an outstanding job of tackling a hard subject in an engaging and entertaining way for readers. Carly is strong through all she must endure and is able to use that to help others, especially her family when the time comes. Her fear of going to others for help is understandable after all she has been through and had others turn on her when she thought she could really trust them. I really enjoyed the way the relationship between her and Maggie played out. Almost all the secondary characters brought the story onto a whole new level, the story brought in aspects from the whole series and it was great to see the way the different characters interacted together.  For fans of the series, I highly recommend diving deep into Justice Delivered and savoring the story. If you haven’t ever read anything by Patricia Bradley, I strongly recommend reading this one, even if you haven’t read the others in the series it will be ok to start here. Each book can essentially be read as a stand-alone if it needs to be or enjoyed as a whole series.

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

The Persian Gamble

persianAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: Marcus Ryker #2

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Yet another superb current events thriller from Rosenberg!

The unthinkable has happened.  The Russian president and head of the FSB have just been assassinated!  And it was done by the mole that the Americans have been working to get out of Russia.  Now it a desperate escape attempt, Marcus Ryker, Oleg Kraskin, and Jenny Morris make it out of Moscow alive, but not for long.  The plane is soon shot down by Russian MiGs, but the three manage to jump to safety, but still land on Russian soil.  Jenny has been shot and needs medical attention.  The United States believes that Marcus and Oleg should be labeled as traitors and Ryker should be tried for treason while Oleg should be handed back over to the Russians.  But Marcus has a trick card up his sleeve that he must play to get presidential pardons and it concerns the transfer of Russian nuclear warheads from North Korea to Iran.  If what Oleg has said is true, Iran seems to be on a time crunch to launch several nuclear missiles at Israel and the United States.  It’s a gamble to be sure, but Marcus and Oleg haven’t lied yet.

Rosenberg continues yet another incredible series.  Picking up at the exact spot where the previous book left off, readers focus on Marcus continuing troubles.  Now a fugitive from his own country, he must figure out a way to get the group back to safety.  Marcus traits as a true leader really emerge in this installment as does his compassion for others.  He does what he must when it is kill or be killed, but that is never his motive.  Several supporting characters return for this book including Vinetti and Pete Huang.  Unfortunately, not everyone will remain alive be the end of this book.  Packed with action and a very believable story line that could easily be in tomorrow’s papers, The Persian Gamble  is as epic as it gets.

I always recommend his books for readers who love current events and a fantastic story!  Pick up a copy of this book as soon as you can!

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

Beautiful Bad

beautiful bad

Author: Annie Ward

Publisher: Park Row Publishing

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A compelling read that will keep readers guessing until the very last page and maybe even past that.  Just as the title states, this is beautifully written and full of fascinating characters from the beginning until the very end.

 Maddie is working oversees as a travel writer and spends her down time visiting her best friend, Jo. While hanging out with Jo, Maddie meets Ian who she is instantly attracted to but unsure if it is wise to pursue a romantic relationship in the war-torn middle-east. Nearly two decades later, they are married and living a somewhat perfect life in Middle America. After a recent camping trip that leaves Maddie with a bad injury and scared for her life and that of her young son, she attends a writing therapy session and tries to determine how to proceed. With a back and forth from Balkans to England and back to the U.S along with past to present timeline, everything comes together on the day of the killing with a shocking crime to solve and a sordid past uncovered.

 If you are the type of reader that enjoys a fast-paced thrill ride with tight scenes and characters that are full of surprises at every corner, this is one you won’t want to miss. From the first page with the back and forth in timelines and across the country, we see the characters grow and change. I have to say this is one of the best written novels with character growth that kept me guessing that I have read in a very long time. The first half of the book spends time setting up the relationship between the characters to bring everything full circle by the end. Throughout the pages, readers are left questioning why we love the way we do and what we are willing to do for those we love. There are two sides to every story and two sides to every person. We all have our best sides and our worst, which side we let take over says a lot about us. The back and forth between character and timelines might be a little confusing for some, but if you can keep up it will be worth it in the end. These characters, especially Maddie are so complex and full of surprises readers won’t have a choice but to be pulled into the story and feel a deep connection with what they are reading. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a psychological thriller with twists and turns at every corner.

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

Knox

KnoxAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshall

Publisher: Stonewater Books

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Susan May Warren will not want to miss the beginning of the Montana Marshall series. This is by far the best I have read by her and am aching for the next installment!

After his father died, Knox Marshall knew he must settle down and run the family ranch. His dreams of becoming a professional bull rider put on hold so he can raise champion bulls for the National Professional Bull rider’s Expo. He has a good life on the ranch but starts to wonder if the best has already happened for him until he meets Kelsey Jones. Kelsey has a hard past, her parents were murdered, and she was beaten and left for dead when she was fourteen. Now she puts her past trials into her life as a country singer. No matter how far she goes though she can’t outrun her past to find the safe and secure future for which she longs. When she meets Knox Marshall, everything she has ever known is thrown out the window. With an exploding relationship and more danger around them than either could anticipate, this might be a recipe for disaster or the perfect romance in the making.

Susan May Warren is one of the very best romantic suspense writers on the market. Her Montana Rescue series is still one of my very favorite and as hard as it is for me to say this, I think Knox and the Montana Marshall series might just be even better. I absolutely loved the way she tied in characters from the Montana Rescue series flawlessly into this storyline. I can just see more of those characters popping up in future books in this new series. Tying the two series together in that way could be risky but now with Warren at the helm, she weaved storylines together that other writers wouldn’t dream of being able to make flow. It will be easy for readers to fall for Knox, as well as the other Marshall men, within the first few pages of reading. Knox is everything a cowboy heartthrob should be, and I loved reading about him. The chemistry between him and Kelsey was steaming off the page. Regardless of how much Kelsey wanted to steer clear of any romance, there was no getting past what her heart wanted. Her story line is one of my favorites. I was drawn in by her history and what she went through and how it affected her in the present that everything else flowed and kept me intrigued. I don’t want to spoil the story, but readers will be walking away from this wanting to throw the book at the wall (in a good way) and pacing the hall until they can get their hands on the next in the series. All I can say is if the rest in the series are half as good as the first, readers will have a new favorite author without a doubt. I recommend this book to fans of Susan May Warren and those that may not have read anything by her but love western romantic suspense.

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

Border Son

Border sonAuthor: Samuel Parker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The story of the Prodigal Son continues in a turn that will leave readers’ emotions spinning after the very last page. 

When Edward Kazmierski receives a phone call saying his son needs him in Mexico, he isn’t sure he wants to go. It has been years since he has even thought about Tyler. They haven’t had the best relationship and Tyler hasn’t been one to reach out to his father either. After the initial phone call, he receives another from a federal agent wanting information on Tyler and two men show up at his house wanting to know if he knows where his son is.  All this leads Ed to head south of the border where his son has started a chain reaction with one decision that causes a ripple effect of pain and destruction for everyone involved. Even though Ed is going to rescue his son, he is first going to have to prove to Tyler that he still loves him and wants to help him out of the mess he has found himself in and try and get them both out alive.

Samuel Parker has a unique way of taking a story we are all familiar with, such as the Prodigal Son, and reforming it as a suspenseful page turner. The story is one of redemption and self-sacrifice. Ed must be willing to sacrifice everything to try and save his son who needs the redemption himself to try and turn his life around. The dynamic between father and son played out well; even though Tyler knows he needs his father’s help he is hesitant to accept it after feeling abandoned for so many years. Now that they are stuck together and have to rely on each other to find a way out to safety they find that even though they haven’t been close in years, there is still a connection that can never be broken. With short chapters that go back and forth on viewpoints, the story reads quickly and clearly, more so than if it had been from one solitary point of view.  I am really enjoying books that go in this multiple point of view format because it gives so much more of the story and keeps the pages turning much quicker. There is a true feeling of fatherly love throughout the story with not only Ed trying to help his son but also Roberto feeling the need to help this young man who had once helped him. Each character brought their own sense of need to the story in how they interacted and helped the other for their own reasons. Fans of Parker’s other novels will be sure to enjoy Border Son. And if you haven’t read anything by Samuel parker I highly recommend picking up a copy today!

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