Deadly Deceit

Deadly deceitAuthor: Natalie Waters

Series: Harbored Secrets #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second book in the Harbored Secrets book is even more heart pounding and thrill seeking than the first! With heartthrob Ryan at the helm, this is sure to be a fan favorite!

Vivian DeMarco has no desire to stay in Walton, Georgia after finishing her job. Being a journalist, she goes where the story is and right now the story is in Walton. When her boss calls her about a lead, she shows up at his house to find him dead from an apparent allergic reaction. Vivian knows she must search for the truth. Vivian’s search leads her to assist Deputy Ryan Frost. Together they work to find answers and stay safe as Vivian finds herself in danger and Ryan finds himself falling for her. The person behind all their troubles is called The Watcher and is about to force Vivian to confront her past. She will discover how far she is willing to go for a headline.

Natalie Waters Harbored Secrets is a fantastic series full of fun characters and storylines that will keep you hooked until the very end. Deadly Deceit starts off with a heart-pounding storyline full of emotion that sucked me in and kept me glued to the pages. I loved the way Vivian was having a hard time being in Walton but still connected with her boss and was emotionally invested in finding out the truth of what happened. She wasn’t in it just for the story, she wanted to find the story and protect the people in town she had come to care about. The emotional investment she had in helping to solve the murder is what pulled me into the story. If I can feel that emotion with the characters, I am going to be much more invested in the story. The action and suspense were top notch for me followed by the romance. Vivian and Ryan had a rocky road and I loved how it wasn’t an easy coming together for them. The obstacles put in their way were real and difficult to overcome. It was much more believable than a lot of the romance stories today. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good romantic suspense read with a solid emotional attachment to the characters.

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

Protecting Tanner Hollow

Protecting Tanner HollowAuthor: Lynette Eason

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderful collection of novellas that can be read separately but are all intertwined to make a fantastic read. Lynette Eason at her best!

Lethal Homecoming starts the collection with Nolan Tanner and Kallie Ainsworth. Nolan could never understand why Kallie left town when they were younger and in love. She gave him no explanation and he has yet to get over her. When she comes back to town and someone follows her trying to kill her, Nolan has to do all he can to keep her safe and in town this time.

Lethal Conspiracy continues with Lillian Maloney witnessing a murder and running for her life, which brings her to the town of Tanner Hollow and a chance encounter with a man she never would have expected.

Next up is Lethal Secrets. Eli Murphy helps Honor McBride with what he thought was just a tire change but turns out to be much more in keeping her and her children safe from someone bent on seeing her dead.

Lethal Agenda finishes up the collection with a returning favorite for Eason fans as Detective Derek St. John comes to Tanner Hollow. Derek wants a change of pace after a break up and comes to Tanner Hollow only to meet a woman he knew from his past and was never able to get over.

If you want a fun romantic suspense read, Lynette Eason is a sure bet to pick up and enjoy. Each of these stories could have been expanded into a full-length novel, but as they are, they read quick, concise and full of the best suspense and romance out there. I’m sure fans of Eason’s previous novels will be most thrilled with the return of Derek St. John as the St. John family were by far some of her best stories and this was a great addition. With each story being less than a hundred pages in length, it was perfect for a fun afternoon of entertainment. I enjoyed the first and last stories the most; something about the romances between the characters there hit me the hardest and kept me rooting for them to succeed. Tanner Hollow is a small town that has a lot going for it and many dark secrets that if exposed prove to be deadly. All wrapped up together, Protecting Tanner Hollow is a delightful read that I recommend to fans of Lynnette Eason’s and those that may not have read anything by her but are looking for a new author they can add to their romantic suspense favorites.

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

Zapata

zapataAuthor: Harper McDavid

Series: Border Series #1

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Release Date: August 21, 2019

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Exciting, suspenseful, and a proponent of STEM in the female lead role.

Avery McAndrews has never been the stereotypical female. She chose engineering as her career field and then took a job in the oilfield.  While out on assignment in the Texas border town of Zapata, she begins to expect trouble will find her on her ride out to the production station.  As she surveys the tanks and piping, she finds a crude installation of a “security valve” that is not in the plans and schematics.  As she is preparing to ask questions of the team, two local cartels show up and start saber rattling.  As things start to heat up, Avery hopes that she can get out of Texas with her life.

Alejandro DeLeon hates that he is saddled with babysitting his cartel boss’s son Javier. Javier is a hothead who makes stupid decisions and Alejandro is always left cleaning up the mess.  When Javier concocts a scheme to kidnap a female engineer and force her to draw up construction documents for a drug transport tunnel under the Rio Grande, Alejandro knows that he must finally take action before the cartel’s operations are compromised.

As a fellow Texan, I always enjoy reading about books set in Texas. And for a change, the main character was an engineer, which is the occupation that my spouse has chosen too.  I asked him a few questions here and there about both the engineering terminology as well as about the locations depicted in South Texas as he travels there for work frequently.  I always enjoy when a book makes us have discussions about the contents!

The romance between Avery and Alejandro never seemed forced, but did develop very quickly as that can happen in intense situations. I feel that readers will find this an enjoyable read.  I also like that a book is really promoting the science and engineering field for women and hope that it will spark interest for those reading it.

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

Always Look Twice

Always look twiceAuthor: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Uncommon Justice #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Elizabeth Goddard has done it again! So many spectacular lines and scenes throughout this book make it a can’t miss for romantic suspense readers.

After being a crime scene photographer, the pictures she has taken along with the trauma of her past force Harper Reynolds to take a year off to focus on some of the more beautiful things she can photograph. Traveling the country with her sister and taking pictures of national parks has been the serenity she needed to sooth her soul. Their last stop before heading home is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Harper is taking pictures of a bear when she captures a murder. Fearing for her life, she takes off running and loses her camera with pictures of the murder in the process.

Heath Mckade is taking tourists from his ranch around the mountains when he hears shots break out and finds Harper. He is also a reserve deputy for the county and is surprised to find his childhood friend back in the area and in danger. When the sheriff goes to investigate, they can’t find any evidence of a crime and they start to wonder if Harper imagined the entire thing. Together, Heath and Harper must work to prove she saw what she said she did and also to find a murderer before anyone else gets hurt.

Elizabeth Goddard has crafted another great tale of romance, suspense and intrigue. I loved the way she crafted the characters of Harper and Heath and their interactions. Heath I really loved; Harper was great except for the way she let the past drag her down so much. It took away from her as a character and her potential strength. I absolutely loved the line , “She focused her camera on the killer, taking a kill shot of her own.” It was brilliantly done and made the book. Harper was a strong character and other than focusing on the hardships of her past she did grow throughout the story and ended up a character I was rooting for. We can all get stuck focusing on the past and if we do that it can cause us to miss the most wonderful things God has in store for us in the present and future. The suspense was great and the romance hit at just the right moments to make a great story. I would recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense and fans of Goddard. Even if you haven’t read the first in the series this would be a great one to pick up and enjoy.

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

Wyatt

wyattAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshalls #4

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: October 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The fourth book in the Montana Marshalls series brings the action to a whole new level with threats crossing borders and relationships at an all-time high making this a must read by Susan May Warren

Wyatt Marshall has always felt like the outcast of the Marshall family. He never wanted to work on the family ranch or be a Ranger or SEAL like his brothers. Instead, hockey was his passion and he followed it all the way to the NHL. He is the most famous of his family and should be on top of the world but his life is missing something. He lost the only woman he has ever truly loved. Coco Stanley came to live with his family when she was fourteen and the two had a short relationship before she left to return to her home country of Russia. When Wyatt finds out Coco has been shot in Russia he lets nothing stop him from finding her and proving to her that he has never stopped loving her. Coco has never forgotten the time she spent at the Marshall ranch and the connection she had with everyone there, especially Wyatt. Is she ready to let herself love again after all this time?

Wyatt is a wonderful continuation of the Montana Marshall series. I love the way Susan May Warren has crafted this family comprised of strong, tough, and uniquely skilled individuals that all have their own talents and bring those talents together to help each other and the ones they love. Book three in the series wasn’t my favorite, so going into this installment I was a little hesitant I would enjoy it as much. I didn’t have to worry long, the pace was spectacular, the romance only fueled the tension, and suspense was spot on. Wyatt pulled at my heartstrings the way he wanted to be liked and respected but had a hard time believing he was worthy enough, something we all struggle with at one time or another. With the action taking place in Russia as well as back in the U.S., there was a lot to follow at times but Warren does a great job taking the reader along for the ride in whichever country readers find themselves. I loved the theme of redemption throughout and the calling for us to come to our Father and he will welcome us with open arms no matter how far we have strayed. Fans of Warren’s and this series will love the tie in of all the other characters and the way we get to see Wyatt’s story unfold. There is also a nice set up for the final book with a focus on Ruby Jane, which I for one can’t wait to see a female Marshall take the lead and teach the boys a thing or two. I recommend this to readers that love a great romantic suspense novel, even if you haven’t read any of Susan May Warren’s books before give this one a go and enjoy. I would recommend reading the other in the series first for readers to get a good feel for the backstory of the characters.

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

Dark Ambitions

dark ambitionsAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Code of Honor #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Irene Hannon gives another terrific installment in the Code of Honor series. This book will leave you with all the feels long after you turn the last page!

Rick Jordan has tried hard to leave his army days behind him and is now running a camp to help foster children. During the winter, he has the place to himself and that’s the way he likes it until one night when he finds a trail of blood and clues which lead him to suspect a blast from his army past has come back into his life. Rick hires a detective agency to help him track down his friend and figure out what has happened. Heather Shields has worked as a PI since leaving the police force and is one of the best in her field despite the hardships placed in front of her being a female in a male driven career. When she finds Rick’s friend dead, she wants to continue looking into what might have happened even when Rick asks her to leave the case alone feeling it is getting too dangerous. The questions start to add up along with their feelings for each other.

Anyone that has ever read anything by Irene Hannon exactly what they will be getting when they open one of her books: action, undeniable romance, suspense and a great story. Hannah and Rick made an absolutely wonderful pair and I loved watching their story develop and grow as the story progressed. The story paced easily with plenty of tension and lots of page turning suspense. Over the years, I have grown to love Irene Hannon books. It doesn’t matter if she is writing contemporary romance or romantic suspense, the story is going to be top notch and fully enjoyable. While the story had many changing points of view, which might confuse some readers, I found it an easy way to keep up with all the different aspects of the story. Dark Ambitions is a great romantic suspense with characters that have more than enough chemistry to keep the reader attracted to their romance and pull for them to succeed. Even though this is the third book in the series, it could be read as a standalone.  Some of the secondary characters are from previous books but don’t play a big enough role to keep new readers from enjoying the story. I recommend this book to fans of Hannon’s and new readers alike.

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

The Gryphon Heist

Gryphon HeistAuthor: James R. Hannibal

Series: Talia Inger #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Readers are set up for a thrill ride full of suspense, danger, mystery and so many twists and turns they won’t be able to stop until the very last page!

After passing her final tests to become a CIA agent, Talia Inger gets assigned to a case she is less than thrilled about at first. She is assigned to work in the “Other” department. Her first assignment is working with Adam Tyler, a Moldovian executive, to retrieve his technology for their own defense. What seems like a simple task at first turns into the more than she could have bargained for when finds out who else is after the technology and what it is going to take to retrieve it. As the get closer to completing their mission, things get more complicated and Talia starts to wonder who she can trust and if she has been given all the information she needs to complete the mission and return home in one piece.

The Gryphon Heist is a novel full of so many things. That can be both good and bad. It is obvious that Hannibal did his research and knows his stuff, the plot would have been incredibly weak had he not, and this plot was anything but weak. The problem is there was so much going on it was a little difficult to keep up at times. Not only is the plot and storyline very intricate, there are also a lot of characters to keep up with. In my opinion, a few of the characters could have been cut without impacting the story. There were other chapters that just felt awkward and better left on the cutting room floor.  Those were the only items that took the book down a notch for me. When the tension picked up, it did so at warp speed. The last few chapters made the book, I’m talking unstoppable action that left me thirsting for me. The little tidbits about who might be the bad guy on the inside was played out so well I found myself smiling with the turn off each page. I’m so happy that this is the first in a series and we will get to see these characters further developed. I see so much potential for this series and the characters and will be chomping at the bit to get my hands on the next installment. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy the television show Alias and the Mission Impossible movie series type thrillers and a great read.

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

Fatal Strike

Fatal StrikeAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With a combination of FBI Snipers, murder using rattlesnake venom, and a budding romance, DiAnn Mills has crafted a thriller fans will not want to miss.

Galveston is being hit by a new kind of killer using rattlesnake venom for murder. A local gang called the Veneno is the prime suspect and the FBI calls in agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert to tackle the case. They have a witness that saw a body being left on a church doorstep but soon disappears. Without their witness, they don’t have much of a case. No one around is willing to help without the fear of being the next victim and the more Leah and Jon dig, the darker the motives become.  The more secrets they uncover, the more they have to face fears they didn’t even know they had.

DiAnn Mills says to expect an adventure with her books and that is definitely what readers will get with this book. The premise is gripping: death by snake venom, no thanks! My mind was reeling with what could be coming as I turned the pages.  Leah and Jon had a great story, I really connected with them and the feelings they developed for each other over the course of the story. The ending kept me guessing, which I love in a suspense novel.  I don’t want to be able to figure everything out quickly, I like those little surprises and DiAnn Mills always exceeds my expectations.

I have always enjoyed DiAnn Mills books and know I am going to get a great story. Fatal Strike was a really good story, but certain aspects of this story fell short for me. Leah had the ability to be a great female lead but the way her backstory was written didn’t resonate with me. If you take that out of the story, readers will have a heart pounding thrill ride. While this is not my favorite novel Mills has written, it was still a very enjoyable read and one I recommend to readers that enjoy a good romantic suspense novel with a great romance and a story line that will keep you up thinking late into the night.

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

A Single Light

single lightAuthor: Tosca Lee

Series: The Line Between #2

Publisher: Howard Books

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Tosca Lee’s writing will have to clear their calendar of everything to devour A Single Light!  This is Thriller writing at its best!

It has been six months since Wynter Roth and Chase went underground to stay safe from the disease ravaging the country. Along with the sixty others underground, they wait for the day the door will be opened by Noah and the rest that are supposed to be waiting above ground to meet them. When messages from above stop coming months before they are supposed to be released, the fate of the world starts to seem grimmer than any of them could have imagined. As release day draws near, Wynter is eager to leave in order to find medicine for her very sick friend, Julie. As the doors open, Chase and Wynter find themselves in a world far worse off than they could have imagined. The vaccine they expected to be manufactured and passed around the country is nowhere in sight and those that survived are turning on each other in order to survive the war zones the cities have become. With each passing hour, Wynter finds herself losing hope that she can help her friend or if any of them can survive in this new world.

For me, topping The Line Between was going to be something almost impossible to do. Tosca knocked that first book out of the park. The characters and storyline grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, making me ache for more of this incredible story. By the time I got my hands on A Single Light, I had to pace myself, so I didn’t devour it too quickly. The story picks up where the first left off, Wynter and Chase in the silo waiting with the others for the day they can emerge into society. Instead of chapters, Lee uses days and hours as chapter headings and to show the passage of time. Instead of letting the time in the silo pass slowly and lose readers in the process, she skips over large portions of this time and gets to the really great twists and turns. There is so much embodied in the pages of this novel: fear, hope, love, deep longing to belong and help those we care about. Each emotion Wynter feels jumps off the page at me and griped me tightly. The connection between Wynter and Chase and how they came to be together is so well written and took me by surprise at times. If you are reading this and looking for a chance to put it down you will be disappointed, this is the kind of book that can be devoured in one sitting. I am wishing for time to go back and read it again and again. Tosca Lee has become one of the very best thriller writers in my opinion and readers can look forward to a fantastic story every time they pick up one of her books. At one point I thought I knew what was going to happen with the ending, but Lee took it in a slightly different direction, which was perfect for this story. I am trying to come up with something negative to say and am at a loss. I recommend this book to fans of Lee’s writing and those looking for an amazing story to pull them in and never let go. However, I would recommend reading The Line Between first.

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

The Last Widow

Last widow

Author: Karin Slaughter

Series: Will Trent #9

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A kidnapping, an explosion, and the threat of a biological weapon bring together a story that is intricately laid out and hard to put down.

 When a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is kidnapped in broad daylight from the parking lot of a shopping center, authorities search high and low for any clue as to who took her and why. Days and weeks go by with no sign of her and no ransom demand until bombs start going off in Atlanta’s busiest neighborhood as a statement and a distraction. As first responders rush to the scene, Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and his partner Sara Linton reach a car crash at the outskirts of the bomb radius. Not knowing they have just stumbled upon the bombers, Sara tries to help and ends up being kidnapped as well. Will works from the outside to get his partner back while Sara works from the inside to figure out who this group is and what they are really after before it is too late.

 First of all, I went into reading this book not realizing it was the ninth in the series. Not totally sure if that helped or hurt my take on the story. Maybe having a little backstory on Will and Sara might have helped my enjoyment, although I did get a lot out of the chemistry between the two characters. They had a great dynamic and I had no idea this was not their first book, but it does make sense the way they were written so well together. There was A LOT going on in this book and if readers aren’t careful, they will miss key elements to the story. That being said, I felt a good hundred pages could have been cut and the story wouldn’t have lacked anything. With so much going on, it was hard to follow at times, but I will say Slaughter did a great job with tension at critical moments. The last 50-75 pages really brought the emotion out and made me care about the characters when it counted. I have seen lots of mixed reviews on this title and agree with both sides There are lots of good points in the book, but it was a little slow at times. One of the best parts for me was the different points of view, this gave me as the reader more of the story to see and understand. There is a lot of harsh language throughout, and while it does fit with the characters and how they would respond to a situation, readers need to be aware before reading. I would recommend this to an audience who love thrillers, especially ones that deal with medical issues, bombings and radical groups.

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