Power Play

Author: Rachel Dylan

Series: Capital Intrigue #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third installment in the Capital Intrigue book is the best in the series with more action, danger, and romance at all the right swoon-worthy moments.

While at a diplomatic dinner, State Department attorney Vivian Steele watches as two ambassadors collapse, and it is soon speculated that poison is involved. She is quickly recruited into a joint FBI task force to investigate what really happened. Together with Diplomatic Security Service agent Jacob Cruz, they must figure out who is behind the attack, if anyone else is being targeted, and who can be trusted. Viv works with her sources and Jacob uses his skills as a former Navy SEAL to find the truth and stay alive as the danger comes closer and their working relationship becomes complicated by their growing feelings for one another.

I’m going to start with the only bad thing I have to say about this book, it is the last in the series and I don’t want this series to end! Each book has brought more drama, suspense, romance, tension, and characters that I have fallen in love with. This one really had a way of making me extra invested in the characters and what was going to happen. So much tension builds with each chapter that it kept me glued to my seat turning the pages as fast as possible. I love it when a novel gets me so engrossed, I forget about everything else going on around me. One thing I loved was the fact that Viv was a twin and Dylan really showed that relationship and how important it is. Each of the main characters from the previous books show up as secondary characters, so readers get a chance to see how their stories are continuing to progress which is nice. I recommend this book and series to anyone who likes romantic suspense with a great storyline that is fast paced and a good clean read.

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

Sticks and Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #3

Publisher: Tristone Media

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third installment of The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone is just as good, if not better, than the first two. The worst thing about this series is finishing one book and having to wait for the next! Such a fantastic fun series that I can’t get enough of! Don’t miss this epic adventure!

If there is one thing Rembrant Stone has learned, it’s this: messing with time is not easy and has a ripple effect no one could see coming. This is the third time he has used the watch given to him by his mentor to go back in time and try and change the past to correct the future, his future. Now, his closest friendship is no more, Andrew Burke is not the man he once knew, and he goes back to try and save him without messing anything else up. As he arrives in the past, he is not only trying to save his best friend, he is also trying to stop a serial killer and save two children that have gone missing in the middle of a Minneapolis blizzard. With lives at stake and a future he can live with and be happy in, Stone races time to do the impossible once more.

With the third installment of the Rembrandt Stone series at my fingertips I have found myself more and more enthralled with these characters and their stories. A perfect length, I finished in a day and found myself craving more, just as I have with the finish of each in the series. The combination of Susan May Warren, James Rubart and David Warren is, without a doubt, one of the best groupings I have ever read. They have a way of crafting a story that is unputdownable, engaging, intense, exciting, and so much more. All the characters have me invested in their lives and if they are going to end up with their happily ever after. Everything I have ever read by Warren and Rubart has left me so satisfied and in that happy book hangover. Such great writing brought together to make a fantastic story and series.

Each book has a cliffhanger ending that leaves you thirsting for more and Sticks and Stones is no different. I loved the softer side of Rembrandt in this one along with the deeper look into some of the secondary characters. I have no clue what is going to happen with the rest of the series, but I know for certain I will be along for the ride.  I recommend this book to readers that enjoy time travel and suspense thrillers and don’t mind staying up way too late to read.

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

The Perfect Couple

Author: Jackie Kabler

Publisher: One More Chapter

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A domestic thriller with so many twists and thrills it will be hard to turn the lights out and go to sleep at night.

It’s been a year since Gemma met and married the love of her life, Danny and she feels like they have the perfect life. One night as she returns from a business trip and expects to find her husband waiting for her, she comes home to an empty house. Gemma goes to the police and discovers there is a serial killer on the lose and Danny might be the latest victim. All the victims look like Danny and even though Gemma and Danny moved to their new house weeks ago, no one remembers seeing him, only her. It doesn’t take long for the police to look at Gemma as the prime suspect in the disappearance of her husband, which also connects her to the other murders. With each new clue, the police and Gemma race to figure out the truth before anyone else dies.

An excellent premise with lots of twists and turns that just fell a little shorter than I would have liked. For me, it was a bit long winded and could have been cut down by at least a third if so many of the details were not repeated multiple times. Being set in the UK it can be hard to follow at times, which can slow the story down. I thought I had it figured out at several moments and then would be a little surprised by a twist, but that would be too little too late to keep me enthralled in the story. The start was interesting with just enough twists throughout to keep me turning the pages, but the excitement died shortly into the book. Several of the secondary characters could have been cut completely and not hurt the story at all. The main point of view is Gemma but readers do go back and forth with some of the detectives that gave a little bit better view of the story. I think this book will really appeal to fans of suspense that are set in the UK with lots of detail throughout.

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

Aftermath

Author: Terri Blackstock

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 11, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A story of betrayal, heartache, loss and how to deal with tragedy in the hardest of times.

Taylor Reid and her friends go to enjoy a night out at a concert when an explosion separates them and only Taylor makes it out alive. Dustin Webb is arrested in association of the bombing and swears he is being framed. He calls the one person he thinks can help with his biggest problem, his next-door neighbor from when he was growing up, Jamie who is now an attorney. Jamie puts her career on the line by agreeing to help Dustin, whom she knows could never have had anything to do with what they are accusing him of. Together they must figure out who framed him for the bombing and why before anything else happens to hurt themselves or others.

It has been a long wait for a new Terri Blackstock book, and I have to say she did not disappoint with Aftermath.  The writing was very well done and kept the suspense throughout all while writing a clean and engaging story. Terri Blackstock has been one of my favorite authors for a very long time, writing fun, exciting, novels all while keeping an element of faith. As the story progresses, readers see flashbacks of Dustin and Jamie’s time growing up together and makes it hard to keep from rooting for them to succeed, not only in proving his innocence but also in finding a relationship together. There is a lot of exploration in this novel, between why the characters act the way they do and how each choice affects the others involved. A few lose strings that didn’t get tied up but not enough to keep the story from being a really enjoyable read. I recommend this to readers that have enjoyed Blackstock’s writing before and are aching for a great new romantic suspense read.

Play Dead

Author: Ted Dekker

Publisher: Scripturo Publishing

Release Date: April 23, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Play Dead is classic Ted Dekker! Fans of his work will love his newest thriller and get lost in the pages as so often happens with a Dekker novel.

Play Dead takes place in the near future where technology and virtual reality have taken over the world, making it difficult to tell what is real and what is virtual. Angie Channing is an author known for her work dealing with Virtual Reality programs and the dangers they can pose to everyone. What no one knows, is Angie is a closet “Dead Head,” and has been deep diving into the world of Virtual Reality for a very long time. After two Austin teens are brutally murdered, Angie gets a letter from one of them two days later saying they have information that is very sensitive and she knows she has to get involved in the case. Her husband is a lawyer and together they set out to prove the innocence of Jamie, the young man arrested for the murders. So much more is at stake than just the murders and Angie will have to dive deeper into the world of VR than ever before to get to the bottom of he real problem and help save them all.

When Ted Dekker is involved, you fall into one of two categories: you love his writing or you don’t. There really is no in between. I have been a Dekker fan for over a decade. His writing is really like no one else. There should be a genre just for him, it’s not suspense, it’s not romance or thriller, its Dekker! It has been a long time since we have had a true Dekker suspense novel and this one is classic Dekker. What that means is you are getting a top-notch thriller with a deep message about Virtual Reality, what awaits us in this life and the afterlife, and maybe even a little more. It is not a story you can skip through and casually read, this is a book that needs to be read slowly and absorbed deeply. A lot of what happens within Play Dead reminds me of the Circle series. To me, most of Ted Dekker books are the same in certain ways, which is a good thing and a bad thing. It makes some of the writing predictable, same story, different characters, but readers also get a new way of looking at things. I always love a new Dekker novel because it is a perfect escape from reality, just like what he is talking about in the pages of Play Dead with the virtual reality and how it affects people in so many ways. We use these escapes in books and VR to give us pleasure and satisfaction we otherwise are missing. So, if you are looking for a great story with a deep meaning you can ponder on long after the story is finished then Dive Deep with Play Dead and enjoy the thrill!

Never Miss

Author: Melissa Koslin

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An absolutely fantastic debut by Melissa Koslin! So much suspense, action and truly believable moments. Can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Kadance Tolle spent years as a sniper for the CIA and is the best. Her entire family has the special skill when it comes to being a crack shot, but none as good as Kadance. She has left the family business of being an assassin and the rest of the family is not happy about it. While on the run, she saves the life of Lyndon Vaile and ends up in the middle of a deadly plan to release a manmade virus as a weapon. Lyndon has been researching the virus for years and is one of the only people that could possibly stop the attack. Kadance and Lyndon must work together to stop the mastermind behind the attack and save as many people as possible. After years on the run, Kadance hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time and is surprised by how quickly she believes Lyndon and risks everything to help him.

The debut novel by Melissa Koslin is one of the best that I have read in a very long time. After reading the book, I looked up a little more about Koslin and found out she is a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which became apparent as she used this knowledge within the pages of her writing to make it all the more real. Sometimes fight scenes are poorly written and not believable. This novel had some of the best authentic fight scenes I have read. I have been in martial arts for four years and as I read these scenes I actually pictured myself in the fight throwing the moves and in the action. That is what I loved best about this novel, the believable scenes and action that moved the story forward. Each scene was well written with I really loved the characters.

Kadance was so well written and relatable, with all she went through she was so strong and when she felt weak and let the emotion take over, I was fully able to picture myself in her shoes. I am an emotional person, but I also try to be strong; seeing Kadance channel her strength but also willing to admit she was feeling something for Lyndon and not block out that emotion helped me to connect to her. One of the best additions to the story was probably Mac. There were a few inconsistencies throughout the story, but they were minor and only noticeable if you are paying close attention to those details.

Overall, for a debut novel I was blown away by Koslin’s way to write scenes and characters that flowed well and sucked readers into the story. I recommend this story to readers that enjoy a fast-paced thriller with action, suspense and a deadly virus on the loose.

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

The Paris Betrayal

Author: James R. Hannibal

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fast action, spy thriller that had me hooked and my heart racing until the final chapter!

Ben Calix has his world turned upside down after his latest mission with the Company goes wrong. For many years, Ben has been lived and breathed the world of being a spy, and now, everything he has ever known is falling apart around him and his life is in more danger than ever before. The French SWAT is coming for him and Ben is now branded a traitor by his Company and on the run with a woman he barely knows, help from a sniper who tried to kill him, a medic who has saved him over and over, and others he only hopes he can trust. His mission now is to stop a bioweapon from being unleashed and prove he is no traitor.

The first James Hannibal books I read were good but still left me scratching my head with questions about the story. The Paris Betrayal is fast paced action with a much more satisfying feeling. The first ten chapters or so left me a little confused and wondering what was happening, but after that, the story kept a nice pace and was easy to follow. By the final few chapters, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen.

Ben had complicated relationships and that only made him more relatable to me. I enjoyed watching his journey unfold and the way he went about solving each new problem set before him. His interactions with others, whether they were on his side or against him, played out nicely, especially when you thought he was at the end of his rope. The end of the story unfolded more is to come and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us with The Company and Ben Calix. Hopefully, Clara, Tess and more will be back to help him with is next mission. I recommend this book to anyone that loves a good spy thriller that is clean with lots of action, a little bit of romance, and a whole lot more to enjoy.

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

In Her Tracks

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #8

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: April 20, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Robert Dugoni is at his finest when writing a Tracy Crosswhite novel! The newest addition in this fantastic series comes close to the first installment in terms of being my favorite! Fans of the series, and thrillers in general, will not want to miss this one!

Tracy Crosswhite is returning to work after an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove and now finds her spot with the A team gone as she is reassigned to the cold case unit. With her young daughter at home, Tracy considers the new assignment a good fit with less hectic hours and a chance to solve some of the cases others have forgotten about. Her first case is an abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, going through a bitter divorce, are the prime suspects. The case is five years old and Tracy is ready to give it fresh eyes and see if she can find the clues that have evaded everyone else. Along with her cold case, Tracy ends up helping her old partner, Kinsington Rowe, with the investigation into a missing young woman. The search leads them to others missing and Tracy has flashbacks to the case that made her chose the path she has been on for over twenty years: her sister’s disappearance and murder. Tracy must follow her instincts to try and solve the case and not lose herself in the process.

Tracy Crosswhite is one of my very favorite series and favorite characters. I absolutely love the way Dugoni has crafted the character of Tracy and every one of the supporting characters. In Her Tracks is a fantastic new addition to the series as I found myself drawn to the cases Tracy was investigating. With her now being a mother, she has a new and different connection to the cases she works.  Of course, there is still the wonderful dynamic between her and Kinsington and the tension between her and their boss, Johnny Nolasco, which drives the story even deeper into the readers hearts. Dugoni is one of the very best when it comes to writing suspense; he has found a way to craft a story that pulls readers in and makes it hard to do anything but finish the story. That’s what always happens with a Robert Dugoni book, you pick it up and you are transported to the world of his imagination and it is a fabulous get away of fictional delight.

I recommend this book to anyone that loves suspense, action, drama, and so much more. If you haven’t read any of the previous Crosswhite books, you can still enjoy this one but not as much as if you start with the beginning of the series and see it all the way through.

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

Present Danger

Author: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Rocky Mountain Courage #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic start to a thrilling new series! Goddard gives readers a thrill ride with a perfect setting and engaging characters that make a wonderful story.

After being with the FBI for years, Jack Tanner has come back home to Montana to his aunt and work as a detective for the local police. When he is called to out on a search and rescue mission in the national forest, he ends up finding a dead body. In order to find the killer, he must work alongside US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors. He and Terra have a history and it isn’t a good one. He left her to join the FBI and seeing her again brings up all the feelings he thought he had left behind. It doesn’t take long for Terra to tie the murder victim with dangerous traffickers involved in archaeological artifacts. Each new clue they turn up brings the danger closer to home and Terra and Jack have little time to find the killer before someone else gets hurt or worse.

Elizabeth Goddard has started this new series with a bang! The action started at the beginning and had me hooked. Terra and Jack have a complicated past which makes their working together that much more difficult and makes the story that much more entertaining. Giving them history shows the tension between them as they work the case more believable. The setting in the rugged mountains kept me engaged in the story. I loved the way Terra worked hard to prove herself with her past and living up to her mother’s reputation, even with all the odds stacked against her. Both Terra and Jack have pasts they are either trying to live up to or get away from and show they are better than that. With each of them holding on to the past, it is hard of them to see what is right in front of them in the present.

As with most romantic suspense novels, the romance side is difficult if rushed and I don’t want to give away anything but the relationship felt a little forced at the end to me, that would be my only negative comment on the whole book. So many great characters in this book and such a great story that I can’t wait to see what comes next. I recommend this story to those that love a good romantic suspense read and will enjoy the start of a new series. 

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

The Beirut Protocol

Author: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: Marcus Ryker #4

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: March 9, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Good overall story, but a little different than what I expected.

Marcus Ryker has had his fair share of action and adventure coupled with loss and heartache.  He’s been a marine, secret service agent, CIA liaison, and diplomatic security special agent who has traveled to Russia, Korea, Israel, and all parts of the middle east.  He’s frustrated attacks on the president and Israeli prime minister, participated in an assassination of a global world lead, and thwarted terroristic agendas.  So, when he and his partner Kailea are out making rounds to prepare for the Secretary of State’s arrival and are ambushed the last thing you expect to happen is that he is captured by Hezbollah agents.   If they figure out who they’ve captured, there is no way they will be ransomed or returned.  They will be taken to Beirut and sold to the highest bidder of Ryker’s enemies!  Can he pull off yet another escape and save his team?  Or is this the end of Marcus Ryker?

This series has been loaded with action since the first book and this one kicks it off in the same style.  Until they are captured?  What????  How did this happen?  Marcus always gets out with a narrow miss, but not this time.  What ensues is torture, deprivation, and a less than expected storyline dealing with Hezbollah, Iran, and the Kairos terrorist organization.  It’s really not what I expected to for this series or these characters.  Plus, none of the characters really progress in development in this book.  Everybody pretty much stays the same with a fast pace and short chapters to keep the story line moving.  Overall, it just didn’t have the same feel to it that the previous books did and the faith element that readers have seen with Marcus becomes stagnant as well.  Had this been the first book, I would have had a different opinion and could have seen the characters grow from there, but this one just fell a little flat.  I’m not sure if this is the last book in the series, but I hope that there is one more mission to really hit the nail on the head.

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