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Monday, December 29, 2014

THE BABY RESCUE by Margaret Daley


Wanda Barefoot reviews.
"Evil is in our world. It's how we deal with it that's important. Do we let it overtake our lives or do we do our small part to stop it? We all have choices." -Colton Phillips from The Baby Rescue by Margaret Daley.

U.S. Deputy Marshal Colton Phillips is a determined man. Determined to catch every criminal he comes up against. Nothing changes when he is assigned to a case involving a child-smuggling ring. Someone is selling babies and it's up to a team of experts to find the ones responsible and stop them and Colton makes it his top priority. He's focused. He knows what is expected of him. He has a one-track mind--until F.B.I. Agent Lisette Sutton is assigned to be his partner. Colton's one-track mind starts to wander to a place he's not sure he wants it to go and that could be dangerous.

F.B.I. Agent Lisette Sutton is on constant guard. Not just from the danger of each new case but from her colleagues as well. She is a woman in what's typically considered a man's world. Since her mother, who was also an F.B.I. agent, left her job under questionable circumstances, Lisette has had to prove her ability to do her job more than ever before. Catching the leader of a child-smuggling ring will earn her the respect and prestige she has worked so hard for. The one thing that can get in the way is her partner, Colton Phillips. Can she separate her work from her growing feelings for this dedicated and driven man?

I have to admit, characters in uniforms draw my interest very easily. Firemen. Paramedics. U.S. Marshals. They are tough. Determined. Protective. Dedicated. You really can't go wrong reading about them. The same is true in The Baby Rescue. But the added bonus is you not only have one hunk to go ga-ga over, you have several. But it's not all about the guys. Lisette is one tough cookie and a tip-top F.B.I. agent. She struggles throughout the the story with forgiving her mother which, in turn, causes her to struggle with her faith. But Colton's gentle prodding and words of faith help Lisette realize that forgiveness is the key to happiness which I feel is a beautiful part of this story. 

Colton is thorough, determined and protective. He is a man of strong faith. A by-product of the foster care system, he changes agencies every two years. He has never stayed in once place for very long and really doesn't foresee that ever changing. But all it takes is the love of one woman to completely turn his world upside down. Colton is a loner and easy to talk to. Lisette hates loose ends. When they come together as a team it's explosive, both professionally and personally. Watching their relationship unfold is truly a joy that adds quite a bit of enjoyment to the story.

Action? This book has loads of action. Colton and Lisette are part of a team of officers assigned to protect a witness through the WitSec Program and danger is constantly looming over them. From car chases to flying bullets-- the reader really gets drawn into the story at a fast pace. But my biggest love of this book was "Baby C", the infant Colton and Lisette both swore to protect. Without even a real name she managed to worm her way into my heart just like she did the officers on the case. This being said, the child-smuggling ring is an exciting and powerful plot that will keep you thoroughly entertained until the very last page. This is my first book in this series but it won't be my last by any means. Margaret Daley is a true master in suspense writing and anyone that loves books centered around high profile cases will love it. Definitely worth the read!

Check out her latest release from Love Inspired Suspense, A Yuletide Rescue

About Wanda.

I am a self-proclaimed reviewer who turned my love of reading into a way to help authors get more recognition for the amazing stories they write for bibliophiles like me. I love God and family and I have a special love for all animals, both big and small. If I'm not reading you can most likely find me on my computer tinkering with graphics and my own personal web design. You can read more of my reviews on my blog at www.abookloversretreat.com , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abookloversretreat or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/flghtlss1.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

BURIED by Elizabeth Goddard

Marji Laine reviews.
I've had the greatest pleasure indulging in Elizabeth Goddard's newest book from Love Inspired Suspense, Buried.

Secrets and suspicions color Leah Marks's life. She trusts no one, especially men. But with her survival at stake, she's forced to break her cardinal rule and actually rely on another person. Big mistake. One that can get others hurt and make her far more vulnerable than she's ever allowed before.

Cade Warren is an avalanche expert and mountain rescuer by occupation and passion. But he doesn't get involved with the people he helps. And having been burned by an old girlfriend, he particularly keeps women at a distance. Until a pair of blue-green eyes full of terror look up at him through a tunnel of snow. Helping this girl could cost him more than his pride or his heart. It could very well cost him his life.

Elizabeth Goddard weaves a non-stop story with Buried in the fictional town of Mountain Cove, Alaska. The plot gripped me from the first page. I was living this nightmare with the main character and experiencing a little panic as the character dealt with her sudden peril. Terrifying!

Half-way through the book, I had my family chuckling over the gasps I kept emitting. One action after another not only kept the pace high (and kept me flipping pages as fast as I could) but twisted the characters into a knot that offered no chance of escape - the mark of excellence in any suspense!

And this suspense is indeed excellent, but the story doesn't stop there. The two main characters had instant chemistry and a palpable romance blooming. Yummy! I would so love to see this story hit the big screen!

I also have to applaud the consistent faith in both characters. The threads of a spiritual walk had deep foundations in both of them. As exemplified in what became a theme of the story: Proverbs 3:27 "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act."

This book releases January 1st and should be at the top of your list for 2015!

Your turn: This book is full of cold weather, being set in Alaska. What's your favorite snowy activity?

Senior Reviewer Marji Laine is a homeschooling mom of two teenagers and two graduates. She loves winter, though often only gets a taste of it in North Texas. Her favorite snowy activity is sledding - well, watching - and taking pictures. Especially when her dog is pulling her kids down the hill. A budding author, she has collaborated in a novella, Love Boat Bachelor, which releases in February. You can find her at her Faith Driven Fiction website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her Amazon author page.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

DESPERATE MEASURES by Christy Barritt

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews.
Desperate Measures, the first book I’ve read by prolific author Christy Barritt, opens in classic Love Inspired Suspense fashion. Scrambling to her vehicle in a darkened grocery store parking lot, heroine-on-the-run Samantha Rogers has one eye fixed on her car and the other peeled over her shoulder. A woman with a dodgy past—a past that is quickly catching up to her and an innocent young son—Sam is more than a little afraid of things that go bump in the night.

Sam’s worst fears are realized as a massive, menacing figure emerges from the darkness. When the man hobbles her with a violent blow to the jaw, she quickly recognizes two things. One: She’ll be dead in moments if she fails to escape. And two: Connor, the son she’s uprooted from the only life he ever knew, will have lost everything. For Sam, failure simply isn’t an option. Connor’s safety is always paramount in her thoughts. Leveraging a brief window of escape, Samantha breaks free of her attacker and dashes into the nearby restaurant/makeshift boarding house where she’s been “holed up” for several months.

Ex-Coast Guard officer John Wagner spots a bleeding, disheveled Samantha as she clambers in through the back door. The sight of Sam in distress sets John’s blood boiling. The story’s handsome, but troubled, hero—who harbors a fairly daunting secret of his own—can’t help wondering who attacked the stunning blonde living in the apartment above his friends’ business. When Sam informs the restaurant owners that she’s been in an accident and needs to move on, John’s innate protectiveness kicks in. He offers to help, but the skittish beauty quickly declines. Her mind is made up. Fortunately for Sam, John’s not big on taking “no” for an answer. As she exits the restaurant, he offers her a job—a proposition she turns down initially but later reconsiders. It isn’t long before Sam shows up on Smuggler’s Cove, a tiny island off the coast of Virginia, to accept John’s offer of work.

From there, things really get interesting.

Just what kinds of secrets are this baggage-heavy couple-in-the-making hiding from one another? And what unknown dangers lurk in the shadows on Smuggler’s Cove?

I’ll never tell. (Smile.) You’ll have to read this captivating yarn for yourself to find out.

Word to the wise, though: No one does novella-length suspense like the authors at Love Inspired, and the clever Christy Barritt is certainly no exception. Her main characters’ goals are clear, their motivations solid and believable, and their personal journeys—though rough and circuitous—ultimately meaningful and satisfying. Small-town criminal intrigue is never in short supply on balmy Smuggler’s Cove, and the author peppers the island with just enough potential “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to keep the reader guessing at who’s worthy of trust and who isn’t.

Oh, yeah. Make no mistake: A sweet, disarming romance gradually unfurls over the course of this story. But, it’s as complicated as any budding relationship would be between two people who’ve come out on the other side of past hurts. Especially since multiple obstacles, internal and external, threaten to keep Desperate Measures’ appealing lead couple apart.

Fans of inspirational romantic suspense will find Desperate Measures a quick, satisfying read. Author Christy Barritt delivers the kind of intimate glimpses into the lives of a protective hero and spirited heroine that fans of the genre have come to appreciate. The author ensures you know exactly what the characters are thinking. The reader, moreover, not only senses the characters’ emotional fragility, she experiences it. I would only add that Ms. Barritt does an admirable job of lacing an authentic faith element into the story and forges a lovely “father”-son relationship between John and Connor that would melt even the hardest heart.

Read. This. Book.


A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes healthcare proposals during the day while lurching haltingly toward becoming an inspirational romantic suspense author at night. She's also the crazed wife of a bi-vocational pastor and mom to two bright, talented kids. They don't call her BizzySyb for nothing! You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, subscribe to her online paper, The InspyReader Gazette, follow her on FacebookPinterest and Twitter, friend her on GoodReads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Monday, December 8, 2014

HAWK by Ronie Kendig

Brittany McEuen reviews.
Staff Sergeant and Raptor team member Brian “Hawk” Bledsoe is an ace at communications, but struggles to control his volatile temper. When his anger flares during an attempt to protect an Afghan woman named Fekiria, he finds himself facing a possible dishonorable discharge.

Fekiria is a woman of many secrets. She is a pilot in the Afghan Air Force and if her family finds out, she is as good as dead. She is definitely feeling the stress of keeping her secret life under wraps.

Hawk and Raptor work tirelessly to track down the terrorists who have infiltrated the American military’s communications system. Meanwhile, Fekiria unwittingly ends up in the middle of the terrorists’ plans. When Hawk and Fekiria find themselves running for their lives and are forced to escape into the mountains of Afghanistan, Hawk will do anything to keep Fekiria and the other women and children traveling with him alive.

Hawk is book two in The Quiet Professionals series. Raptor 6 is book one. This series is truly ongoing from book to book. Each story builds on the one before it as more of the terrorist plot is revealed and Raptor team comes closer to discovering who is out to get them.

Once again, just as in Raptor 6, we see the story through the eyes of both the hero and heroine, but we also get glimpses into the minds of the terrorists. This builds some great tension in the book. Seeing the villains lay out their plans and the Americans unwittingly play into their hands is hard to read about!

One of the things that I really enjoyed in Hawk is the fact that Brian and Fekiria are not Christians. Both do have questions about God, though. Brian was raised with Christian grandparents and he strives to please his grandfather, a man who does his best to guide Brian to God. But Brian has had things happen in his life that make trusting in God difficult. It has just been easier to trust in his own strength. Fekiria was raised in the Muslim faith. She has two Christian influences in her life, but has been antagonistic toward their attempts to teach her about Isa “Jesus”. Honestly, Fekiria was not a character that I liked in Raptor 6. However, I did like her in Hawk. There were many times I didn’t understand her thought processes. But as the book progressed, I really enjoyed watching her growth.

The action in Ronie Kendig’s books is always intense and Hawk is no exception! Expect the unexpected and be prepared for a heart-racing struggle to survive. The attraction between Hawk and Fekiria started off subtle. Neither are looking for a soul mate. But when the romance woven between Hawk and Fekiria took hold, it truly took my breath away. I definitely recommend this action-packed book! And special thanks to the author and publisher for providing this book in return for an honest review.


(Don't forget that book 1 in the Quiet Professionals series, Raptor 6, is currently in a giveaway! Leave a message on the free book announcement article to be included in this opportunity.)

About Brittany:
I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer. I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drawing for a Free Book!

What a way to start out the Christmas gift-giving season!

In anticipation of next week's review of Ronie Kendig's newest release (the second in her Quiet Professionals series) we're giving away a copy of Raptor 6, the first in this series.

To be entered in the drawing, simply leave your email address as a comment on this article. While you're at it, what is your favorite Christian fiction book this year?

Drawing will be held of all email addresses received in the comment section for this post on December 12. Winner will be contacted via email for shipping information.

Monday, November 24, 2014

HIDDEN IN THE STARS by Robin Caroll

Iola Goulton reviews. 
In Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll, aspiring Olympic gymnast Sophia Montgomery wakes in hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to find a strange woman hovering over her. She’s been through a vicious in-home attack, and emergency surgery, and throat injuries mean she can’t talk. But Detective Julian Frazier needs to interview her, as she’s the only witness to a murder …

The writing in the opening passage of Hidden in the Stars is intriguing, as Sophia’s thoughts move between the attack and being in the hospital as (I assume) she drifts in and out of consciousness. It’s confusing at first, but perfectly conveys her confusion—confusion which is soon followed by frustration when she realises she can’t talk. Fortunately, Detective Frazier has a solution: a female colleague, Charlie Wallace, who lipreads, and can therefore translate for Sophia.

As Julian learns more about the attack, and Sophia remembers more, they begin to find some clues that will identify Sophia’s attackers—but they also find more mysteries, specifically some discrepancies in the stories Sophia’s mother told her, and the truth behind the central square of the beautiful quilt made from all her mother’s old ballet costumes. Sophia finds herself drawn to the handsome detective. Is this something that will last, or is it simply a product of two people drawn together by circumstance?

Hidden in the Stars is part of Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series, each a standalone novel from a different author. Each book in the series features (surprise!) a quilt and a romance. Some are contemporary, others historical. Some are straight romance, while others (like Hidden in the Stars) have a suspense or mystery subplot. Some are excellent, while others are, um, less excellent (not naming names). Hidden in the Stars has solid writing, strong characters, and an unusual plot, which makes it one of the best I’ve read in the series.

My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more of Julian’s spiritual journey, as this all seemed to resolve itself rather too neatly at the end of the book given the lack of the development throughout the story. It also seemed odd that Sophia had never met her grandmother, given they both lived in the same small town, but that was a minor point in what was otherwise a well-plotted and well-executed romantic suspense novel.

Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Robin Caroll at her website. 


About Iola Goulton:
I am a married mother-of-two, living in the sunny Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. I play the tenor horn in the local Brass Band, do scrapbooking and cardmaking as hobbies.

I blog at www.christianreads.blogspot.com and http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.co.nz/, and I work as a self-employed fiction editor (www.christianediting.co.nz) and HR consultant (www.bayreward.co.nz). You can also find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ChristianReads) Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

Monday, November 17, 2014

CRITICAL CONDITION by Richard Mabry


Sandra Ardoin reviews.
Critical Condition was my first introduction to a novel by Richard Mabry. It won’t be my last. A big reason was because the author held back just enough detail about the plot to keep me guessing.

Dr. Shannon Frasier wants to get her life back on track. A tragedy ten years earlier has her fearful of committing to her boyfriend, Dr. Mark Gilbert, and terrified of guns. The drive-by shooting of a man on her front lawn begins a series of events that send her life spiraling out of her control and toward her own death.

Shannon feels compelled to play “mother” to her younger and troublesome sister, Megan, who is a recovering drug addict. Right after the shooting, Megan leaves the latest in a string of boyfriends to live with Shannon until she finds another job and apartment. But when that boyfriend ends up dead and the two sisters’ fingerprints are found on the weapon, they become the prime suspects.

The story starts with a prologue that gives us insight into a key event in Shannon’s life ten years earlier, then opens at just the right spot in the present. The important parts of the prologue probably could have been incorporated into the first scene to bolster Shannon’s emotional issues, but either way, it’s great action.

The writing surprised me in two ways. First, novels written by men generally sound like they've been written by men. Maybe the main point-of-view character being a woman threw me off, but I could see any one of a number of women authors’ names on the cover. Second, to me, it was a bit more character driven than most novels in the romantic suspense category. I think it was because the writer upped the ante for Shannon with a slew of personal issues, rather than focusing strictly on the danger. And there was a nice twist at the end.

One of the things I liked about this book was the way Dr. Mabry provided his readers with medical situations and terms that a lay person could follow. It didn't read like an article out of The New England Journal of Medicine. He never talks down to his readers, yet the medical aspect brought depth to the plot and characters.

Several points-of-view are employed, rather than the usual hero/heroine. It keeps the reader guessing about Shannon’s personal choice. I did have a problem with one instance in the book that related to Mark Gilbert. I won’t go into it for obvious reasons, but it bothered me because there seemed no point to it. For me, it raised a question that never got resolved, since no further mention was made.


In summary, from a suspense standpoint, I’ve read novels that were more of a nail-biter, but Critical Condition is an enjoyable read.

***
Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction who writes inspirational historical romance. Her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, is available for pre-order on Amazon. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Monday, November 10, 2014

FATAL EXCHANGE by Lisa Harris


Sybil Bates McCormack reviews
Lisa Harris's Fatal Exchange, an engrossing inspirational romantic suspense novel set in modern day Atlanta, opens with undercover police officer Mason Taylor in the throes of guilt and revealing an innate flaw. He has just prioritized a life-or-death situation connected with work over a similarly urgent crisis developing in Denver connected with family. The conflicted cop then proceeds to absolve himself of any wrongdoing by observing that seventeen is too young to die.

Gifted Hispanic high school student Rafael Cerda—whose younger brother has been kidnapped at knife point by a powerful drug cartel—has solicited Mason’s help. The kidnappers have demanded a sizeable ransom for the brother’s release, and Rafael (for whom Mason has been a “Big Brother” mentor) has nowhere else to turn.

When Mason’s early investigation into the crime prompts a visit to the swanky private high school that the witness attends on scholarship, he encounters a former crush. Emily Hunt, Rafael’s history teacher, is also the daughter of Mason’s former boss and the sister of his deceased partner—a partner that some are convinced he betrayed. Despite the obstacles that stand between them, Mason is drawn to Emily—to her beauty, to her intellect and to the compassion and concern she demonstrates when he shares Rafael’s plight.

Emily Hunt is striving to rebuild her life—a life marred in recent months by both a broken engagement and her brother’s untimely death. When Mason Taylor appears unexpectedly at Dogwood Academy to share the disturbing news about Rafael’s family, Emily’s struck by the sincerity in his countenance and his words. She’s impressed that he has become a man of faith. She recalls how deeply her brother trusted Mason—how capably and skillfully he’s always performed in his position. In short, Emily finds it difficult to reconcile what she knows of the officer with her sister’s claims that he is somehow culpable in their brother’s death. But is she right? Can Mason Taylor truly be trusted? Is he all that he seems?

Fatal Exchange, the second in author Lisa Harris’s Southern Crimes Series (see Dangerous Passage – Book 1 and Hidden Agenda – Book 3 pending release in January 2015) is nothing short of riveting. Ms. Harris introduces one of the most unexpected plot twists I’ve ever encountered at a very early point in the book and then builds upon—and expands upon it—so skillfully that I found myself stopping periodically to grin and gasp in awe at her ability to craft a story. I will refrain from discussing more on any specific elements of plot for fear that I’ll give away something that would spoil the book for other readers.

It may sound cliché, but the author literally hooks the reader into Mason and Emily’s story from the very first paragraph and never releases her again until the very end. The “reveals” at each major plot point in the book are logical yet unpredictable. Ms. Harris laces backstory and the intermittent red herring into the narrative in an artful, sparing manner. She shares everything the reader needs to know to “connect the dots,” but makes it a thrilling challenge—all the while creating a daring, breathless gallop toward the book’s sensational conclusion.

Lisa Harris draws layered, multi-dimensional portraits of the major characters in Fatal Exchange by way of balanced dialogue, nuanced narratives, and brief, compulsory allusions to setting. She demonstrates true mastery of characterization and dialogue when she sketches secondary, tertiary, and even fleeting characters in the novel. All prove easy to “hear” and visualize—despite the relentless pace of the book.

Final Words: Novelists are often thrilled to hear that they’ve kept a reader up all night. But, in this instance, the words “she kept me up and guessing all night” are more apt. I give Fatal Exchange my very highest recommendation!


A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes healthcare proposals during the day while lurching haltingly toward becoming an inspirational romantic suspense author at night. She's also the crazed wife of a bi-vocational pastor and mom to two bright, talented kids. They don't call her BizzySyb for nothing! You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, subscribe to her online paper, The InspyReader Gazette, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, friend her on GoodReads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Monday, November 3, 2014

HAZARDOUS HOMECOMING by Dana Mentink

Marji Laine review:
Dana Mentink weaves a gripping mystery, a riveting romance, and a hovering cloud of suspense in her new Love Inspired novel, Hazardous Homecoming.

Twenty years have passed since Ruby Hudson's best friend, Alice, disappeared in the bird sanctuary that surrounded the Hudson home. A newly-found piece of evidence rips open the emotional scab, bubbling up guilt, suspicions, pain, and regret. The reopened case seems to also have set someone against Ruby. Someone with something to hide and no compunction with taking drastic measures to keep those secrets under wraps.

Twenty years ago, Cooper Stokes's family was practically destroyed when his older brother, Peter, was blamed for kidnapping little Alice. Peter sank into an alcoholic muddle to escape the way the entire town turned on him, but nothing offered proof that he had anything to do with the tragedy.

Returning to the area is hard enough for Cooper, even with his brother's latest assurance of his sobriety, especially with Ruby still around. He'd always been interested, but her father warned her away from anyone in the Stokes family. The re-stirring of the story ignites again his anger at the injustice of it all. Yet doubt over his brother's story rises to the surface as well.

Can anything be more tragic than the loss of a child? Naturally, this story evokes intense emotion. If for no other reason, that part of the story demands constant page-turning. But add to the a cast of doubt-provoking characters with bitter resentment floating just under the surface.

Dana Mentink is truly a master at her craft. Her plots are some of the most engaging that I've ever read. Never have I been able to pre-solve one of her mysteries. And this one is no exception.

As delightful as her plots are, her characters might even be better. Cooper Stokes makes an exceptional hero. He has the strength and speed of an athlete, but the sharp intellect to be intentional in his actions instead of reacting blindly. While he defends his brother, he's also judgmental of him and struggles with anger. Yet, he has a playful, engaging personality.

Likewise, Ruby Hudson has a deep character. Independent in her words, she's submissive and respectful of her father, never resenting, (or maybe not realizing) her dad's overprotective manner. Her passion for nature, birds in particular, brings a special element to this story, and gives her purpose beyond the plot. She also struggles with guilt in the way Peter Stokes was treated, but more feels devastated over reliving the pain of losing her childhood friend.

I loved this book. Couldn't put it down, much like the first of Dana's books that I read. Jungle Fire was a Carol award winner, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that Hazardous Homecoming follows suit.

Marji Laine, Senior Reviewer, is an avid NASCAR, college football, and volleyball fan, and autumn is her favorite season. She has collaborated on a number of published romance novellas that are listed on Goodreads and her Amazon author page. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reviews, interviews, and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Google+.

Monday, October 27, 2014

HIDDEN by Vannetta Chapman

Brittany McEuen reviews

Dana Jacobs is a strong and capable supervisor at the Department of Homeland Security in Taos, New Mexico. She has not had an easy life and is reluctant to let anyone get too close.

Benjamin Marshall has finished his stint in the military as an explosives expert and is now assigned to Dana’s team. When threats start rolling in, and it is clear that a man full of anger is orchestrating attacks, Ben knows that he has been brought to Taos to protect Dana.

I really enjoyed reading Hidden. I loved the setting of Taos, NM, as well as the interesting characters in this book. The book takes off immediately with a heart-stopping prologue that gives the reader a peek back into the past. It is a glimpse at the moment Dana Jacob’s life changed forever. This event shaped her view of God, the world, and of relationships. What a complex character Dana is. She tries very hard to be strong, but lacks the one thing in life that could give her true strength.

Ben Marshall carries that true peace and strength in him because of his reliance on God. He is a wonderful hero. He is strong, yet gentle, and has such an innate ability to understand what Dana needs. Sometimes this causes some friction between them, adding to the tension in the book.

The story line is gripping and the action scenes are intense. The suspense builds throughout the story and the villain in the book is definitely scary and always seems one step ahead of the Homeland Defense team.

Hidden is a great addition to the world of romantic suspense! I am looking forward to reading more in the Jacobs Family Series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, Vannetta Chapman, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About Brittany:
I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer.  I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ANYTHING FOR A MYSTERY by Cynthia Hickey



Wanda Barefoot reviews:

(A Nosey Neighbor Mystery, Book 1)
What's a romance writer to do when she stumbles on a murder? Change her genre, of course! Tweet This!

Stormi Nelson is a reclusive New York Times best-selling author. Her home office is her best friend and where she writes her famous novels but, in an effort to get out and mingle with "real" people more, she volunteers to be the head of the neighborhood watch. On one of her nightly patrols, she falls head over heels (literally) for her dead neighbor and finds herself hiding in the doghouse with an Irish Wolfhound named Sadie. As far as Stormi is concerned, everyone in the neighborhood is a suspect (until proven otherwise) including the sexy Detective Matthew Steele. Matthew, however, can't decide whether to kiss Stormi or throttle her.

How do you curb an author's wild imagination, especially when murder is involved? Click to Tweet! You. Can't.

Stormi Nelson's character is a delight in this book. She has a quirky way about her that I found so endearing. Her strong desire to gather research for her next novel and her reclusive nature clashed to a degree but her need get her creative juices flowing outweighed her need for privacy. Oak Meadow Estates is filled with all kinds of quirky characters from Bill Olson and his wife Norma (who thinks every woman is trying to steal her husband) to Victoria Lanham (who looks like a model for a Barbie Doll) to Cecelia and Herman Edgars (who look like they came straight out of a mob movie). Add to the mix Stormi's family moving in and she's ready to pull her hair out faster than gravity pulls us down to earth!

I thoroughly enjoyed going on Stormi's adventure as a self-made sleuth. Anything for a Mystery has a "cozy" feel with a lot of humor woven in and some romance with a gorgeous detective. All of these
come together to make a storyline that reeled me in like a fish and hooked me enough to buy the next book in the series. I can't wait to read more! Cynthia Hickey is a new author for me but, after reading this book, I can't imagine why. This is the perfect book to read by a warm fire on a cold night or any time you want an adventure. A very enjoyable read!

About Wanda Barefoot:

I am a self-proclaimed reviewer who turned my love of reading into a way to help authors get more recognition for the amazing stories they write for bibliophiles like me. I love God and family and I have a special love for all animals, both big and small. If I'm not reading you can most likely find me on my computer tinkering with graphics and my own personal web design. You can read more of my reviews on my blog at www.abookloversretreat.com , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abookloversretreat or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/flghtlss1.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

DECEIVED by Irene Hannon

Marji Laine Reviews Irene Hannon pens a heart-wrenching story of tragedy, hope, and peril.

A grieving mother. A mysterious child. And a dedicated PI who's determined to solve the puzzle.

For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she's convinced it's her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating "accident" begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon's many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plotline that accelerates to an explosive finish.

This was a different type of suspense. It didn't have a "ticking clock" feel until the last couple of chapters, but the sense of foreboding prevailed.

Another rare situation was the fact that the antagonist was known virtually throughout the entire book. Trouble was, I really felt for the antag. I liked his character and felt sorry for him, which proved to be a study in psychology. A real piece of work.

But I liked all of the characters. Kate a nurturing counselor, is haunted with the possibility of her son being alive, even though all hope for that prospect has evaporated years before. Connor, a swashbuckler in the past who has recently become more of a warrior, has ghosts of his own making that whisper into his ear of his faults and failures.

How these two broken people can find healing and a future has as much to do with this story as the twisted crime. More than once, I got the feeling that there was no way this story could have a happy ending. Hannon does a masterful job of resolving the plot and tying up the dangling details.

Deceived is the final book of the Private Justice Series. I haven't read the others, but I can deduce that they all share the same supporting cast. Love those characters, too. Very distinct in personalities and back stories!

All in all, Deceived was a great read.

Senior Reviewer: Marji Laine

Marji Laine is thrilled to be nearing the end of her daughters' volleyball season so she can indulge in working on a brand new story! A collaborative novella, The Love Boat Bachelor, set for release by Write Integrity Press in February. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reviews, interviews, and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at FacebookTwitterPinterestGoodreads, or Google+.

Monday, October 6, 2014

TIDE WILL TELL by Lesley Ann McDaniel

Marji Laine review.
I had no idea Tide Will Tell was book 2 of the three-book Islands of Intrigue - San Juans series until I finished the novel with a blissful sigh. It stands alone as a full story, both the suspense and the romance, which are equally riveting!

Kate Jennings has plans for a new life. One free of poverty, fear, and secrets. Well, maybe not free of secrets. But with money to secure her, who can possibly learn her trivial details or the more despicable events of her life?

Except that her new fiance, at least twenty years her senior, has disastrous secrets of his own, and rumors of truly hideous actions. Can Kate really consider a hermit-like life of luxury with only his company? She believes that's the life she wants, but the new security man, the paparazzi, and a few unexpected complications spoil her fantasy of happily-ever-after.

This story, while a strong romance, flourishes with constant tension. What seem to be imagined ravings of a fearful woman, become real threats. Sinister and terrorizing. Without giving too much away, a perplexing mystery with shades of Daphne du Maurier's, Rebecca, this story held me til the final page!

I love Kate. She's a survivor. A WAIF with a spine of iron. She thinks she needs rescuing. Relies on her new fiance for safety. Desperately needs people around her. But she grows through this story, revealing her true, whimsical personality and strength she never knew she had.


This plot is full of enticing conflict, not only because of the secrets, but also from the diverse values the different players entertain. In an ultra-luxurious atmosphere, of course material wealth is important to some. Kate's values include wealth, but only as a means to security. Others held honesty, family, truth, or ambition in high regard. All of these clashed through the story.

I loved this story. Makes me curious about the first book in this series, Unrelenting Tide, by Lynnette Bonner. There is also a promised third book, Deceptive Tide by Janalyn Voight to come in Summer, 2015!


Senior Reviewer: Marji Laine

Marji Laine is a collaborator in three novellas with short stories published in both books and magazines. A homeschooling mom or four, two of which are graduates, she is married to a wonderful business analyst who keeps her grounded in reality. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reader and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or Google+.

Monday, September 29, 2014

BLIND TRUST by Sandra Orchard

 Sybil Bates McCormack reviews:
Sandra Orchard’s Blind Trust tracks the fledgling romance between herbal medicine researcher Kate Adams and handsome, former FBI agent Tom Parker. For some strange reason, Kate just can’t seem to keep herself out of harm’s way or off of newly-minted Detective Parker’s diverting suspect list. Lucky girl.

As the novel opens, Kate’s been accused of passing counterfeit bills at the local supermarket. And you guessed it: “Hunkster” Tom’s dispatched to investigate. Will the perceptive detective believe Kate innocent of knowingly passing $30.00 counterfeit Canadian when she claims to have purchased the groceries at the request of an elderly neighbor?

You bet.

But the rollercoaster literary ride Orchard’s designed to barrel toward a “twisty,” “turny,” terrific climax has only just begun. Along the way, you’ll meet a quirky cast of characters that includes a slickster-type mayor, an elderly German herbalist, a down-on-his-luck divorcé and a smattering of ominous mystery men.

Who should Kate trust? It’s anybody’s guess.

Okay. So, I cheated.

I broke the cardinal rule against jumping into a three-book series in the middle—a mistake I won’t make again—especially not with gifted author Sandra Orchard at the helm.

Don’t get me wrong. Ms. Orchard did an incredible job of weaving just enough backstory into “Blind Trust” to acquaint obstinate readers like yours truly—who failed to read the first book first—with what had transpired previously.

I only meant to imply that I can’t wait to read everything in Ms. Orchard’s growing backlist of inspy tomes.

The second novel in the author’s inspirational romantic suspense series entitled “Port Aster Secrets,” “Blind Trust” not only captured my attention but held me in breathless anticipation until the bittersweet—trust me when I say that’s the right word—end.

There’s plenty of payoff to be had as “Blind Trust” reaches its inevitable—and yet way unexpected—end.


But take my advice. Read DeadlyDevotion, the first in Orchard’s sensational Port Aster series, first. I definitely plan to do so before the year is out!

Sybil Bates McCormack, a licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, practiced personal injury and then employment law until May 2014. Now the stay-at-home mom of a rambunctious school-aged son and a multi-talented teenaged daughter, she writes healthcare proposals for a living during the day, lurches haltingly toward fulfilling her dream of writing Christian romantic suspense novels at night, and shares in the inevitable joys and upheavals of launching a start-up church ministry alongside her bi-vocational pastor husband. As if that weren’t enough, she stretches herself way too thin on social media. Don’t believe it? You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, friend her on GoodReads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and circle her on Google+. Believe it now?

Monday, September 22, 2014

MURDER AT THE MIKADO by Julianna Deering

Brittany McEuen reviews:
Drew Farthering and his fiancée, Madeline Parker, are approaching the final weeks before their upcoming wedding. The last thing either Drew or Madeline expects is a surprise visit from Drew’s old flame, Fleur.

A former actress, Fleur is prone to dramatic outbursts. However, Fleur is the number one suspect in a murder investigation involving a member of her old theater troupe and desperately needs Drew’s help.

When Drew reveals the detaiIs of his former relationship with Fleur, will the romance between he and Madeline be strong enough to survive?

Having read the first two books in the Drew Farthering Mystery series, I was thrilled to return to early 1930’s England and catch up with the lives of these interesting characters. Once again, I enjoyed the sophisticated and witty banter that occurs between Drew, Madeline, and Nick Dennison, Drew’s longtime friend.

In Murder at the Mikado, both Drew and Madeline have to face some facts about themselves, their relationship with each other, and past events that have shaped the way they both view relationships. Using Madeline’s insecurities about herself, the author did an excellent job of highlighting the importance of trusting in God and taking one step at a time, letting Him lead the way.

As with the other books in the series, more than one poor soul will fall victim to murder before Drew and his friends are able to track down the culprit.

Although not exactly what I would term a cozy mystery, this series of books has a feel all its own. Murder at the Mikado is not a fast-paced suspense. It is a look back at a more genteel time, through the eyes of members of high society, and I truly enjoyed the trip!

I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer.  I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Monday, September 15, 2014

DANGER AT THE BORDER by Terri Reed

Iola Goulton reviews.

Marine biologist Dr Tessa Cleary has been called to the North Cascades National Forest in Washington state to investigate reports of dying fish in Glen Lake. The lake borders Canada, so she is partnered with Agent Jeff Steele, from the US Customs and Border Protection service, for whom she feels an immediate attraction. But they find more than they are bargaining for ... will they live to tell the tale?

Danger at the Border is from Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line, which means it’s shorter than most novels and has a definite Christian element (you’d think all fiction from Christian publishers would have a definite Christian element, but they don’t). This is my main problem with LIS books: they are short, which makes them a quick and fast-paced read. Yes, others might see that as an advantage, but I find if I’m enjoying a book I don’t want it to end, so good LIS books end all too soon—and this was definitely a good one.

I’m always a fan of intelligent heroines. Not perfect women, but women with brains who aren’t afraid to use them. Tessa Cleary certainly fits the bill here. She’s bright, doesn’t frighten easily, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. And, of course, the heroine then needs a hero who deserves her, and Jeff Steele fits the bill. Handsome and muscular (of course), but also hard-working, intelligent and brave, and with a strong sense of right and wrong (and the inner strength that comes from his Christian faith).

The plot was fast-paced and tight, with plenty of twists and peril, and everything works out in the end (it’s a Love Inspired Suspense. It has to work out in the end). I don’t want to tell you too much more, because that would spoil it, but I’m always pleased to read a book where things don’t always go as I think, yet it still makes sense. All in all, Danger at the Border is an enjoyable read, with a perfect mix of romance and suspense.

Thanks to Harlequin/Love Inspired Suspense and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Terri Reed at her website.

Reviewer Biography: Iola Goulton

I am a married mother-of-two, living in the sunny Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. I play the tenor horn in the local Brass Band, do scrapbooking and cardmaking as hobbies.

I blog at www.christianreads.blogspot.com and http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.co.nz/, and I work as a self-employed fiction editor (www.christianediting.co.nz) and HR consultant (www.bayreward.co.nz). You can also find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ChristianReads) Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

Monday, September 8, 2014

A CRY FROM THE DUST by Carrie Stuart Parks

Marji Laine reviews.
I just spent an enjoyable three days stealing every excess moment to absorb Carrie Stuart Parks's debut novel. This story would make an EXCELLENT movie!

Gwen Marcey has had it all:, success, failure, disease, dismal humiliation, and now murder and destruction following her. Her best friend, Beth, always says, "Everything happens for a reason," but how can there be any benefit in Gwen's sanity being questioned, her co-worker murdered, her work decimated? Not to mention the other dysfunctional elements of her life like her family and need for secure, paid employment.

Gwen's job as a forensic artist places her at the site of an 140-year-old tragic massacre hugging the edges of Mormon history. Something she's doing—something she's recreating—is stirring up a hatred strong enough to kill. The ritualistic murders of a young college student and an aging security guard baffle her. Then terror sets in when she realizes she's been targeted. Is she going to be the next victim, or is something more sinister in the works?

I loved this book. It just soared to the top of my all-time-best list! I'd like to say my favorite element is the main character. Usually, that's true, and Gwen was no exception. She's rather a hybrid of a FREE-SPIRIT, do-your-own thing type of gal and a focused, answer-loving LIBRARIAN. A pretty, quirky lady, near or at middle age with a fetish for caffeine, a huge dog, and a quick wit. She was hysterical even in the midst of the most intense moments. At one point she thinks, "They shouldn't mess with a divorced, menopausal, bald woman in a bad mood." Ha. Had me in full-belly laugh more than once! She's smart, skilled, and has a masterful memory. A Holmes with a heart, so to speak.

And I also enjoyed the flavor of the dual perspectives. The main character sections were in first person, but other points of view were in third person. I've heard of books utilizing this new technique, but this is my first experience with it. I really liked it. The character shifts never threw me and I was able to identify Gwen's sections every time. The e-book version did have a few spacing issues between scenes. Not a big deal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the details evidenced by the scenes which some of the minor characters shared.

But my favorite element was the plot in this novel. Non-stop suspense, increasing tension, mammoth stakes, disastrous repercussions. Just as I felt the relief of a completed issue, I'd near the end of the scene and get a new revelation. A shocker that would make me lower the book for a second and give a "Wow." This happened over and over throughout the story. In addition, for the first time in a long time, I was completely surprised by the ultimate revelation. Here, I thought I had the resolution well in hand. I had expectations of who and what and a twist. Only to find I was completely wrong. I mean totally!

But I delighted in the error! The story was that much sweeter since I hadn't anticipated the ending! If you're a fan of suspense, don't miss this book!

And did I mention that Frank Peretti, one of the pioneers of Christian suspense, worked with Carrie Stuart Parks as she developed A Cry from the Dust? What's more, I had a great chat with her when she first sold this book to Thomas Nelson. Here's the link for that interview.

I'm looking forward to the next Gwen Marcey suspense!

Senior Reviewer: Marji Laine

Marji Laine is a collaborator in three novellas with short stories published in both books and magazines. A homeschooling mom or four, two of which are graduates, she is married to a wonderful business analyst who keeps her grounded in reality. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reader and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or Google+.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

NO ONE TO TRUST by Lynette Eason

Marji Laine reviews.
Lynette Eason crafts an amazing suspense as her first book in the Hidden Identity series. Non-stop action peppered with a tender romance, betrayal, and forgiveness. Oh, and did I mention action?

Kyle Abernathy has a secret. Well, a lot of secrets. And enemies. But he's successfully avoided them for over a year. Entrenched in a modest home with a wife and a good cover, why should he expect anyone to come after him now?

Summer Abernathy wakes to a gun in her face, a threat on her life and that of her husband, and the revelation that her entire marriage and current life are made up of nothing but lies. Her search for her missing husband only begins this fast-paced journey into organized crime and the presence of men who will stop at nothing to get away with their wicked actions.

What an well-crafted story. I'm truly in awe of Lynette Eason's talent! This plot never let me go.

The heroine, Summer, as an attorney focused on helping battered women and their children, is a NURTURER. She has the type of personality who will insists on helping and has trouble being out of the loop. Her husband is a WARRIOR, loyal and used to being in motion for a good cause. Yet he has been forced into a benign life. Well, until page 1!

While the two mains dealt with active character arcs, Eason didn't leave out a grand supporting cast, some of them with personal growth as well. I have to say my favorite character was the antagonist. So evil, and yet had such a tenderness toward his pets. The man truly doted on them, and he needed them to keep him calm. Really, it was creepy, but made the character so layered.

The plot blended perfectly. Not only with the hero and heroine, but the six or so other contributing characters that made the story work. Complicated, yet not contrived. With the perfect balance of reason and logic to make the novel flow with authenticity.

The best news is Book #2 of the Hidden Identity series comes out in a few weeks. And YES you'll hear about the story right here! I'm hoping this second book, Nowhere to Turn, delves into the lives of some of the supporting characters. Particularly, a few of the men would make excellent heroes in the next story!

But, we'll have to wait and find out!


Reviewer: Marji Laine

Marji Laine is a collaborator in three novellas with short stories published in both books and magazines. A homeschooling mom or four, two of which are graduates, she is married to a wonderful business analyst who keeps her grounded in reality. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reader and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or Google+.

DEADLY DEVOTIONS by Sandra Orchard

Marji Laine revews:
Having trust issues can be a good thing when they protect from pain and hazard. But Kate Adams has a different problem. She trusts far too easily. Especially when her mentor/best friend is dead from an "accidental" dose of poisonous tea. Daisy would never have made that mistake. An expert at botany and as strong in her faith as she was in her skill with the chemical properties of plants, she'd never have killed herself either.

But when Kate expounds on that point, to Detective Tom Parker, the majority of the officers in the station, and a good piece of the population of the small town, she scares someone. Or someones. A person or persons who doesn't want her rant to uncover things that Daisy's death seals.

And though Tom knows the dangers, he feels pulled to help this woman. Even though assisting her against his chief's wishes might very well cost him his job. But that isn't his worst risk. His trust issues stem from old disasters. He dare not put his faith in the woman. Not if he wants to survive.

Sandra Orchard casts a delicious mystery in a picturesque town just north of the Canadian border. Port Aster is the quaint tourist village expected from travel magazines. But like the dilapidated buildings covered by the street-front facades, there's a lot more going on there than visitors can see. Things aren't always what they seem to be. A theme that echoes throughout this story.

Full of twisted sub-plots and unexpected laughs, the story baffles, as a good mystery should. Tom and Kate waffle between possible scenarios and suspects, carrying the reader along. With a number of reasonable killers, good motives, and plenty of secrets that draw attention, the constant mind-changing actually makes perfect sense.

The story sets followups, too. Little details are left unresolved, ready to explode into new plots. And then there's the budding romance. Bud is as far as the romance goes, even though the feelings seem intense. Left me quite giddy! I'm looking forward to seeing it build!

The good news is, Book 2 in the Port Aster Series came out in June of 2014. Yea! Book 3 follows soon!

Reviewer: Marji Laine

Marji Laine is a collaborator in three novellas with short stories published in both books and magazines. A homeschooling mom or four, two of which are graduates, she is married to a wonderful business analyst who keeps her grounded in reality. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reader and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or Google+.