Trace of Doubt

Author: DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With a fantastic protagonist and plot DiAnn Mills sucked me in to this story and held me tight!

It’s been fifteen years since Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and spent that time in prison. After being released on parole, she moves to the small town of Valleysburg, Texas to start over, but starting over won’t be as easy as she had hoped. When she was first convicted, FBI agent Denton McClure was a rookie working on her case. Shelby might have been convicted of murder, but she was also suspected of embezzling half a million from her brother-in-law’s non-profit organization. Now, Denton moves to Valleysburg to try and gain her trust and find out what happened to the money from all those years ago. The more time he spends with Shelby, the less he thinks she was responsible for taking the money and now she is receiving threats if she doesn’t disappear or commit suicide. In a case where nothing is as it seems, Shelby is now in a fight for her life and Denton isn’t sure who the villain is anymore.

This book had an absolutely fantastic start with a wonderful protagonist and plot that intrigued me and had me cheering for Shelby. She quickly became one of my favorite characters for the year and I love the plot.  At least, I love it all until about 80% of the way through the book.  Up to that point the story had me, I believed it all and couldn’t wait to see what would happen. Then I felt like we went from fiction to more far-fetched fiction and while still enjoyable, it just lost its believable quality. I love DiAnn Mills writing, her last book was her best by far, and I was hoping this one was going to surpass until things took a bit of a left turn. I realize that it’s all fiction, but her stories have always had such a believable quality to them that I feel like I’m one of the minor characters throughout the book. I’ve talked about this book with several of my reader friends who have also read it and while they noticed the same thing, they didn’t feel that it took as much away from the store.  I do think romantic suspense lovers will still enjoy the story and I’ll be curious to get their thoughts on the ending.

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

Hostile Intent

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Danger Never Sleeps #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic installment in the Danger Never Sleeps series! Lynette Eason has done it again with Hostile Intent; her writing puts her on a whole new level with this series. No better time for readers to discover one of the very best in romantic suspense!

After entering the Navy shortly after high school, Ava Jackson has spent several years honing her skills, but finds herself having to take an early discharge when her mother falls ill and needs her. Her father is gone after disappearing while deployed. Ava spends as much time as she can at the care facility with her mother, refusing to let her die alone. One night after a visit, Ava is attacked in the parking lot. Her friend and FBI agent, Caden Denning, shows up just in time to fight of her attacker and save Ava. After a little research, they discover that Ava is tied up without her knowledge in the murders of three families. This killer has a plan with Ava is at the center of it and nothing is as it seems.

Just when you think Lynette Eason can’t get any better, she comes along with a new book that blows the others away. Hostile Intent is her newest and best yet. I loved Ava and her relationship with Caden, they made the perfect couple for a great romantic suspense read. I was recently asked what point in a book gets me; the answer was the moment my heart rate goes up a few notches. That happened at several moments throughout this book. I will say I figured out one of the twists before it was revealed, but not in a way that made the book any less enjoyable, it played out in a really great way. The last third of the book was on fire, I couldn’t put it down until I knew what was going to happen to the characters I was so invested in.

Honestly, I have nothing negative to say about this book. I was taken in by the characters and the trouble they faced and felt a deep connection to them as they battled the odds to come out in the end having survived all they faced. What makes a great romantic suspense for me is the connection, if I can connect with the characters, I care more about the story than the other way around. This series found a way to connect me with each of the individual characters in the troubles they faced and want to find out more about them and what they were going through. I recommend this book to fans of Eason and lovers of romantic suspense. Even though this is the fourth in a series It could be read and enjoyed as a standalone. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Weight of Memory

Author: Shawn Smucker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Smucker’s best story yet!

Paul Elias has just received a terminal diagnosis of cancer and has been given months to live.  He can accept that it is his time to die, but he can’t accept that he doesn’t have alternate arrangements for someone to take care of his granddaughter, Pearl.  Pearl’s dad, Paul’s son John, is not in the picture and frankly, Paul is not sure where to even start.  When he picks up Pearl from school, she seems to have already devised a plan and tells him that they will be taking a trip back to Paul’s hometown of Nysa, where he hasn’t been or spoken about since the drowning death of his wife 40 years ago.

Once in Nysa, Paul gets reacquainted with an old friend and finds that the town is nothing like he remembered.  The longer they stay in Nysa, the more Pearl starts to act like her grandmother, causing Paul to question her sanity as well as everything he knows.  Perhaps this wasn’t the best place to come.

Having read all of Shawn Smucker’s books, I can easily say that this is the best one!  The story is very introspective and will have readers questioning things throughout the entire story.  Told from Paul’s point of view, readers pick up when Paul is in his upper 50s and are introduced to Paul’s world as it is today.  At the beginning, parts of the story seem disorganized and the flow doesn’t necessarily follow any particular format but hang on because everything will be revealed through memories. 

As readers push forward, they will notice many parallels between the past and present, most notably between Pearl and her grandmother, Mary.  There is quite a bit of supernatural elements throughout that aren’t necessarily explained, but it makes the story more suspenseful and will keep readers turning the pages.  I found it difficult to put down the book after each chapter because I wanted to find out what happens next.  The ending is quite subjective and likely some readers won’t enjoy it, but there is ray of sunlight that shines some hope.

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

The Chase

Author: Lisa Harris

Series: US Marshals #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the US Marshals book picks up right where the first left off with all the action, drama, suspense and romance a book lover could ask for!

After being shot three months ago, US Marshal Madison James still doesn’t remember who shot her; the one thing she does know is it is time for her to get back to work. Her partner, Jonas Quinn doesn’t want to push Madison on her first day back but when they’re assigned serve a federal warrant to a man connected to several bank robberies. Together they end up at a bank robbery in progress where nothing is going as planned. The bank robbers are all about the thrill and not just the money. When they back the robbers into a corner, all their plans start to spin out making them even more dangerous and making it the most perilous case they have worked together.

 The US Marshals books are by far my favorite by Lisa Harris. I loved the first in the series and the second was just as good. The Chase follows the same main characters, Madison and Jonas, whereas a lot of romantic suspense books will change main characters with each new book in a series this one gives us more of the same, a fact I greatly enjoyed. We really get to see some great character development and depth for Madison and Jonas. There is a lot going on with Madison and the mystery of who killed her husband and why are they still taunting her that helps drive the story and made me have a deeper connection with her as a character. I really enjoy these books because they are fast paced, engaging, great tension and Harris has got me invested in the characters. By keeping the same main characters instead of having new ones with each new book, I am much more involved and determined to see how they pull through the troubles they encounter. There is so much more to develop with them and much more story to tell, I really hope this series goes on for several more books. I recommend this book to those that love a great romantic suspense, but I do recommend reading The Escape first and then diving into The Chase.

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

Breach of Honor

Author: Janice Cantore

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic police procedural that had me hooked from page one with fantastic character connections and an adrenaline laced story!

Oregon Police officer Leah Radcliff spends every day trying to help others when she is the one that really needs help from Brad, her abusive husband. Even though she has helped countless victims of abuse, she has a hard time believing she is a victim. Brad is a fellow officer and a decorated hero; his family is a staple in town and wields a lot of influence causing Leah to keep her abuse to herself. One night though things go too far and ends up with deadly consequences. Leah has all public opinion against her and is convicted of murdering her husband. Officer Clint Tanner is one of the only ones who believes she acted in self-defense. He works with Leah’s attorney to bring to light the darker side of Brad and others in the department to save Leah.

It has been a long time since I have had a new Janice Cantore novel and I had forgotten how much I enjoy her writing. These books are so well crafted with authentic storylines and characters that are so easy to follow and connect with. Cantore’s time as an officer brings her writing to a higher level than most other authors I have read. I connected with Leah right away, something about the way she was written resonated with me, she had so many struggles, yet she refused to give up. She is a strong female protagonist with a great story. Many of the secondary characters were great too; Nora had a real impact on moving the story along, and Vicki, only in there for a little bit still brought great tension at just the right moments.

The romance aspect of the book played out perfectly for me. Sometimes in a romantic suspense novel, the romance can overshadow the suspense and take me out of the story; here though, there was so much tension I couldn’t do anything else but keep turning the pages to see what was going to happen. A lot happens throughout this book but all of it provides substance to the story and left me wanting more. I don’t know if there will be more coming from these characters, but if there is, you can bet I will be checking it out. I recommend this book to lovers of police procedurals and romantic suspense; you won’t be disappointed.

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

The North Face of the Heart

Author: Dolores Redondo

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Publishing

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An intense and well-fashioned thriller with lots of twists and turns until the very end.

Amaaia Salazar has been working as a detective in northern Spain using her unique skill set to solve crimes. Now, she finds herself with a group of trainees at the FBI Academy in Virginia. Amaia is assigned to work with FBI agent Aloisius Dupree, who is very familiar with her skills and way of understanding evil using her intuition. They are searching for a serial killer known as “the Composer,” and Dupree is looking to solve another case that has evaded him for years. The Composer sends them on a search from New Jersey to Oklahoma to Texas over years that coincides with natural disasters. The latest natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, sends them to New Orleans where the destruction is worse than ever and the body count climbs higher and higher. As Amaia works to figure out little clues to bring the Composer to justice, ghosts from her childhood reemerge making the case hit closer to home and causing her to question everything she’s ever known.

The North Face of the Heart is a great suspense thriller with a lot of depth to it. The story is not one you can rush through, lots of depth to the characters and mysteries they are trying to solve. All of that made for a great story; for me though, the hardest part to get past was the head hopping. It’s common to have different characters points of views throughout a book but it is supposed to be one point of view at time. Here there were several instances readers would be in one character’s head and what they were feeling and thinking and the very next paragraph would be a different character’s point of view. At first it was very confusing and hard to tell who’s head I was in and then it would switch. For me this is a problem because it took me out of the story, I would be reading along and then have to stop to figure this out, I couldn’t just keep reading, I had to go back and reread to figure out what was happening. If there was a break in paragraphs to show it was changing, that would have helped but that wasn’t the case. Overall, it was a great story if the writing had been cleaner. Now, this book was written and then translated so some of it could have been lost in translation. I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good mystery that is detailed and full of twists that will keep them guessing.

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

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.