Top Suspense/Thriller for 2019

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

 

the line between

 

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

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

Read the review of The Line Between here.

Read the review of A Single Light here.

 

 

single light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

persian

 

2. The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg

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

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Storm rising

 

3. Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

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

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

The String

 

4. The String by Caleb Breakey

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

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Never look back

 

5. Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

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

Read the full review here.

Top Romantic Suspense for 2019

Another popular category centers on blending a budding romance between two characters while keeping a reader engaged with suspenseful action.  It was a crazy good year for romantic/suspense books, but only the best made the top of our list, even if it did exceed five!

Vow of Justice

 

1. Vow of Justice by Lynette Eason

One of the supporting characters helped nabbed the top spot.  The way her empathy was displayed and even used against her made this story what it is!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Smoke Screen

 

2. Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

Terri Blackstock brings a different type of suspense with Smoke Screen. This is a mystery with a romantic suspense angle, but the suspense here comes more from the drama within the families.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

seconds to live

 

3. Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman

The action and suspense gripped us so tightly we couldn’t put the book down.  Add that the US Marshals are showcased in this book and it easily made the top of the list.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Killing tide

 

4. The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

In this fast paced and energetic thriller, Dani Pettrey delivers her best book yet!  Readers will not want to miss this one!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

One final breath

 

5. One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn

With each book in this series readers have seen Blackburn come alive in her writing. One Final Breath brings the best of the series and gives readers even more to love. The suspense is top notch, the romance is right on point and the story flows without even trying.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

Knox

 

6. Knox by Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is one of the very best romantic suspense writers on the market. Blending characters in this new series with a past series makes it a sure thing!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Cold aim

 

7. Cold Aim by Janice Cantore

The third installment in the Line of Duty series gives readers the best yet with more drama, action, adventure and romance than anything Cantore has written to date!

Read the full review here.

Seconds to Live

seconds to liveAuthor: Susan Sleeman

Series: Homeland Heroes #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An exciting, top notch read that kept me up late turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Romantic suspense fans will not want to miss this one.

After the US Marshals’ Witness Protection database is compromised and personal information of the witnesses is set to be auctioned off, FBI Agent Sean Nichols and his RED team are called in to investigate and find the hacker. One of the witnesses is already a target and barely makes it out alive before the RED team gets involved. Sean believes a hacker named Phantom is involved, but this is no ordinary hacker as he has outwitted many before and to crack this case Sean is going to need the help of the attacked witness.

Taylor Mills, the US Marshal in charge of protecting this witness, and Sean have a history. They have never met in person but have been talking online and gotten to know each other very well. Sean and Taylor must work with each other to stop Phantom before he takes out their witness and many others.

Sean and Taylor are both strong characters that are devoted to their jobs, which leaves little room for anything else. Even though they have gotten to know each other chatting online, working together is an entirely different ball game. I read through this incredibly fast and enjoyed it so much, especially the ending. The action and suspense gripped me so tightly I couldn’t put the book down. I loved all the bad and good guys throughout this book, each one had all the right qualities to make them believable and help carry the story along. The end does have a great twist to keep readers guessing and involved with the characters. Having a character in the US Marshals office was a nice change of pace, it’s not as common as seeing an FBI Agent or someone in another branch of law enforcement. Sean and Taylor are both experts in their fields and want to do their very best for the people they are trying to protect and help making them characters that are easy to root for and want to succeed. It may be one of the last books I’ve read this year, but it is going to make its way to my best of the year list. This is the first in a new series and I for one can’t wait to see what comes next. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a great romantic suspense books with wonderful twists and intriguing characters.

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

Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen.pngAuthor: Terri Blackstock

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Terri Blackstock has done it again with another thrilling story that pulls at the heart-strings in the most suspenseful ways! Smoke Screen had all the right moments that kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime!

After his father is convicted of murdering the preacher, and father, of the girl he has been dating in his hometown, Nate Beckett leaves the lies and rumors behind. It’s been fourteen years and his father has been released from prison. After an injury, Nate takes a break from his work as a smoke jumper, which brings him back home. Coming back home means he will have to face the girl he left behind, Brenna. When his father was accused of the murder, their relationship changed. Brenna is having a hard time dealing with the news that her father’s killer is free and her ex-husband is suing her for custody of her kids, which threatens to send her over the edge. Turning to alcohol to get through the hard times she runs into Nate at her lowest. The spark between the two is still there. With wildfires breaking out across the state and close to home, things have become much more complicated. Nate and Brenna work together to find out the truth from the past and keep her family from falling apart.

Terri Blackstock brings a different type of suspense with Smoke Screen. This is a mystery with a romantic suspense angle, but the suspense here comes more from the drama within the families. Nate with his father coming home and his feelings for Brenna with her problems with her ex coupled with the possibility of losing her kids brought up the suspense. As the story progressed and we see Brenna struggling and dealing with hardships, my heart was in my throat with anticipation. This was such a different form of suspense than most, which made it more special to read. So many characters in this book where unlikable, but they were supposed to be that way and Blackstock wrote them so perfectly. Even so, many of the same characters were very relatable which is hard to do. Making one or two characters is relatable is one thing but being able to fill the pages of a book with so many of them is difficult. Each twist and turn was perfectly placed and the story flowed so well I couldn’t put it down. This is one of my favorites by Blackstock, and I seem to say that after each one which I don’t see that changing anytime soon with the way she always seems to surprise me. I recommend this book to fans of a great mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in at all the right times.

Sins of the Father

Sins of the FatherAuthor: Vincent B. Davis II

Series: Consentino Crime Saga #1

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: October 22, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

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

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

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

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

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

Ruby Jane

Ruby JaneAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshalls #5

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: November 26, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The fifth and final installment in the Montana Marshall series will leave readers satisfied yet yearning for more from the Marshall family.

Ruby Jane has always tried to prove herself being the only girl in the Marshall clan. After running for her life in Russia. she falls in love with a former CIA operative only to lose him after coming home when he disappears and is presumed dead. Mack Jones doesn’t remember his past and winds up in a small town ready to move on with his life. He is working as a bartender when the bar catches fire and he makes the news. Ruby Jane sees him on the news and goes to find him. When she shows up and he doesn’t recognize her. she wants to leave him to this new life he seems happy in; but when he sees her, memories start to resurface. With the return of those memories is also the danger that has followed them from Russia. The whole Marshall family will have to work together to keep them all safe and intact.

I went into this book thinking it wasn’t going to be my favorite of the series but excited to see how it would tie up all the loose ends. The final payoff at the end of Ruby Jane was far better than I could have expected. I absolutely loved the way this book ended and kept me glued to the edge of my seat. Ruby Jane and York had perfect chemistry, even when he couldn’t remember her or anything about their relationship. Each member of the Marshall family brings so much to each book and Susan May Warren is one of the very best at tying together all these amazing characters. Family is at the center of these novels and Ruby Jane is no different with the entire family in the mix to help each other and get to the bottom of the mysteries that has lasted through all five books in the series. Not only is family at the center, but faith plays a big role as well. York is the character that shows the most growth in this book, his passion for wanting to become a better person will leave the reader inspired. I have loved this entire series and hate to see it come to an end. A few little loose ends were left open leaving me to wonder if there might be more to come.

I recommend this book to fans of Susan May Warren and the Montana Marshall series. This is not one that can be read as a stand-alone as so much from the rest of the series is tied up in this final installment. Even though I thought this wasn’t going to be my favorite of the series I am pleased to say it finished up the series wonderfully and I feel readers will be pleased at with the conclusion.

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

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.