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Monday, December 28, 2015

A RESPECTABLE ACTRESS by Dorothy Love

Brittany McEuen reviews A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

Back Cover Synopsis:

When the illustrious India Hartley is accused of murder, she has to uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, the famous and beautiful actress, is now alone in the world after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.

A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.

Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia low country and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.

My Review:

I really enjoyed the pacing of A Respectable Actress. It flowed very smoothly as I read it. I also enjoyed the mysterious, deep-south feeling of this book. The author did a very good job at describing the scenery and making me feel that I was really back in early 1870’s Georgia. This time period and the setting of post war St. Simons Island, with its wide variety of residents, added a mysterious quality to the story that enhanced the feeling of restlessness that flowed throughout the book.

The main characters, India and Philip, were very likeable. It was hard to watch as India was accused of murder. And I was amazed at the speed with which the trial progressed. This story, with its secretive twists and turns, kept my attention from start to finish. I thought that the author did a very good job of dropping surprises here and there for the reader and creating a plot that was not easily solved because of the many players involved.

Add in a bit of a sweet romance that began to brew in the midst of uncertainty and desperation, and I
found A Respectable Actress to be a very enjoyable and mysterious read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Reviewer Brittany McEuen:

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, December 21, 2015

MISTLETOE JUSTICE by Carol J. Post

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews Mistletoe Justice by Carol J. Post

From The “Back Cover”:

Someone has framed Darci Tucker for embezzlement—and she's pretty sure it's her boss. The real criminal will do anything to make sure she doesn't talk, from breaking into her home to hacking her computer. Her only hope for regaining control, and protecting her young son from danger, is Conner Stevenson. Desperate for answers about his sister's sudden disappearance, Conner is determined to uncover why the bookkeeper was named a target. Now Darci and her son have become pawns in a deadly game, and as Conner races to protect them, he finds he wants more than justice. He may want a family for Christmas after all...if they live that long.

My Take:

Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong, creepy boss.

Author Carol J. Post’s cozy holiday yarn, Mistletoe Justice, opens with a single Florida mom making a common, though costly, mistake. Who hasn’t left her cell phone behind at work and been forced to retrieve it for fear she’ll miss an important call or text? That’s all accounting manager Darci Tucker was after when she caught snippets of an incriminating conversation between her supervisor and an unknown male accomplice.

Dumb luck on her part, but clearly none of her business. Not with a special-needs son to support, a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle to manage, and no prospects to fill the role of Prince Charming on the horizon. So, Darci makes a beeline for her car the minute the coast is clear and vows to put the incident behind her—especially after the boss intimates to his friend that he has “ways of guaranteeing [Darci’s] silence” if she discovers their secret.

Heavy equipment mechanic Conner Stephenson’s made real progress over the past week. He’s finally secured a job at P.T. Aggregates, the concrete operation from which his sister mysteriously disappeared months before. Firmly convinced that someone at the company knows what became of Claire, Conner’s keen to uncover the truth. The angry, hurting seven-year-old son she left behind deserves answers—and justice.

Conner’s just pulling onto the P.T. Aggregates property to complete an after-hours project when he passes two vehicles exiting the area—one of which belongs to his sister’s former boss. Moments later, he startles attractive bookkeeper Darci Tucker as she’s scampering to her car behind the onsite office. The very woman who replaced Claire in her position two weeks after she disappeared. Conner can’t help wondering what Darci knows, what she and the boss have been up to, or why she looks so frightened. But Darci isn’t talking, and his investigation into his sister’s disappearance has only just begun.

Mistletoe Justice is the third story in Carol J. Post’s Cedar Key series for Love Inspired Suspense, and it’s clear from the book’s inception that she’s a gifted storyteller. The author handily establishes the look and feel of the main characters’ surroundings through subtle allusions to color, texture and sound. She weaves just enough of Darci and Conner’s compelling backstory into the early pages of the novel to whet the reader’s appetite for more of what lies ahead. And she gives both protagonists plausible motivations for erecting the emotional boundaries they create for themselves—and undertaking the desperate measures to which they resort—as the bad guys inevitably close in.

The author delivers a gratifying holiday feast in Mistletoe Justice, a story steeped in equal helpings of romance and suspense. Ms. Post keeps the reader guessing throughout the book about the trustworthiness of those who make up the main characters’ small circle of acquaintance. She also manages to throw several unexpected curve balls in the characters’ paths on the road to resolution. But, Ms. Post never permits the reader to forget that Mistletoe Justice is, at its core, about Darci and Conner’s heartwarming journey toward love, family, security and spiritual peace.

Skillful author. Rewarding read. Not to be missed.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you as always. Happy Holidays until next time …

A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes responses to state and Federal contract solicitations during the day while lurching haltingly toward a career as 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, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, friend her on GoodReads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

FALLING LIKE SNOWFLAKES by Denise Hunter

Iola Goulton reviews Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter.

Here is the Short Version from Amazon:

Eden Martelli is too busy fleeing the clutches of danger to realize she’s running straight into the arms of a new love.

Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.

Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone.

When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.

Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.

Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

My Review

I’ve read several of Denise Hunter’s previous romance novels, and enjoyed them because they always go a little deeper than the typical Christian romance novel. They might pretend to be regular boy-meets-girl romances, but they soon twist into something out of the ordinary. Falling Like Snowflakes was different again, and in a good way—because it had an added suspense plot, and it should be no secret that I love a good romantic suspense novel.

I will admit that it took me a while to get in to Falling Like Snowflakes. While it was immediately obvious Eden was running from something, I didn’t know what, and that made her come across as a little lacking in intelligence. I soon realised that wasn’t the case—it was more that she was young and life had taught her (the hard way) that not everyone could be trusted, which makes it hard for her to trust Beau and his family.

The story built up gradually, with the romance and the suspense plots building at a similar pace, and learning more about Eden’s past as she grew to know Beau better. I especially liked the way the romance was shown through subtle looks and thoughts rather than being told (as was the case in the last romantic suspense novel I read).

Overall, I very much enjoyed Falling Like Snowflakes, and I’ll certainly be reading the next book in the series. Recommended for all romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Reviewer, Iola Goulton: 

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Sunday, December 6, 2015

FEAR IS LOUDER THAN WORDS by Linda Glaz

Marji Laine reviews.
I was so delighted to get a free copy of this new release, Fear is Louder than Words, by Linda Glaz in exchange for an honest review! The intensity of this plot had me picking the book up at every opportunity.

The Short Version:
Rochelle Cassidy has the perfect life as a radio talk show host in the Detroit market, but her celebrity status doesn't stop an angry listener from wanting her ... dead. Ed McGrath's ideal life as a pro-hockey player doesn't include a damsel in distress until the night he discovers Rochelle being attacked in a deserted parking structure.

Circumstances throw them together in more ways than one when Rochelle's producer plays matchmaker. A sick boy, a corrupt politician, and questionable medical practices put more than merely Rochelle in danger, and still, her attacker shadows her every step.

Will Ed be able to break through her trust issues in order to protect her, or will she continue to see him as Detroit's bad boy athlete? Her life AND his depend on it.

My Take:
From the first sentences, in the form of a Christmas poem, my blood pressure went up and it stayed there through the rest of the story. Linda Glaz wove a masterful plot of intricacies, red herrings, and unexpected detours. Her characters have strong personalities and realistic dialogue unique to each of them.

Fear is Louder than Words utilizes two unique literary devices. The first I'd never seen before in a suspense. Usually this type of intensity has a plot spanning a week or two. This story progressed through several months, but the suspense remained in high gear. The length of time was perfect, drawing out the details and personality of possible antagonists as well as allowing the romance to develop realistically. 

The second device was not as rare. Often current contemporary stories use two or three points of view: the heroine, the hero, and sometimes, even the antagonist. This story had a number of main characters, five if I remember correctly, and the different perspectives revealed nuances to the story line that developed both plot and characters. 

I liked both devices! The relationship that grew between hockey hero and motor mouth was exquisite! The tension elevated perfectly in pretty direct correlation to the intrigue. I also enjoyed getting to know so many characters. The different sub-plots uncovered all sorts of antagonistic possibilities. 

Made for a great story! Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys equal parts of romance and suspense.

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, and coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

Monday, November 30, 2015

HIGH-CALIBER HOLIDAY by Susan Sleeman

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews Susan Sleeman's newest Love Inspired Suspense, High-Caliber Holiday.
From the back cover:

CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Held hostage on a train, ex-lawyer Morgan Thorsby finds her powers of persuasion failing her for the first time. Former marine sniper Brady Owens is her only hope—but his split-second hesitation on the trigger leaves her wounded. Yet when an obsessed stalker threatens Morgan, Brady steps up. Protecting someone so tough and beautiful is hardly a chore, but Brady pulls back every time they get close. Morgan isn't ready for the connection forming between them, either, but she knows she needs his help. Can Brady capture the culprit in time for Christmas?

First Responders: Brave men and women alert and ready for danger and love.

My Take:

I always seem to find myself sharing some deep, dark confession with the readers of Suspense Sister Reviews, and today is no exception. Okay. Here goes...

I’d never read a book by prolific inspirational fiction author Susan Sleeman until I dove headlong into her sensational Love Inspired Suspense novel, High-Caliber Holiday, this week. I know. I know. That’s crazy. And I must admit, inspy fans, that I had no idea what I was missing. Ms. Sleeman makes writing in what can be a particularly difficult genre—trust me, I’ve tried—look so easy. She lays the foundation of an absorbing tale with a masterful, gut punch of an opening line and builds brick by memorable brick from there.

So much about the book just works. The finely-drawn relationship between the rich-girl-turned-do-gooder ex-lawyer heroine and the strong, conflicted former Marine with a heart of gold. The plot that alternately zips and glides in lockstep harmony with the unpredictability of the cold, early winter Pacific Northwest backdrop. And, perhaps most impressively, the quiet subtlety with which the author takes the characters through their paces—from fear to fulfillment, from uncertainty to security, and from cautious introversion to joyous transparency.

Author Susan Sleeman furnishes all that’s necessary for a “High-Caliber Holiday,” indeed, in the third installment of the “First Responders” series. Guess I’d better take a quick “look see” at the stories that preceded this one. I certainly hope you’ll join me.

Any ardent fans of the author among you? Has anyone read this terrific book recently or placed it on your TBR list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you as always. Blessings until next time …

A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes responses to state and Federal contract solicitations during the day while lurching haltingly toward a career as 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, 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 23, 2015

THE INN AT OCEAN'S EDGE by Colleen Coble

Sandra Ardoin reviews The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble

The Short Version:

Claire Dellamare arrives at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine, expecting to put the final touches to a business deal. What she doesn’t expect is to be hit with images and odd memories she’s never experienced before. Nor does she expect to be dropped into the middle of murder—both past and present.

Luke Rocco, a member of the Coast Guard, returns home to discover his sister has received a job offer that will take her across the country and leave him to care for their fractious father. And he can’t afford to fall for the rich and beautiful Claire. They come from two different worlds.

When Claire witnesses a murder, Luke comes to her aid, taking sides against his law enforcement friends. The more they dig into what happened, the greater the danger to Claire, and the bigger the likelihood that her past is linked to the disappearance of Luke’s mother twenty-five years earlier.

Sandra's Take:

I’ve read a number of Colleen Coble’s romantic suspense novels. In my opinion, this is the best in quite a while. It kept me guessing, thinking I had the answer, but never really sure until I reached the climax. The spiritual thread was fairly thin, but that’s pretty typical for romantic suspense. I did have an issue with a certain aspect the climax. I won’t give details for fear I’ll spoil something, but it did stretch my ability to believe a little too tightly. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the prologue through the epilogue. I so hope Ms. Coble will give Kate her “happy ever after” in the future.

If you’re a Colleen Coble fan, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in The Inn at Ocean’s Edge!

About the Reviewer:

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Become a part of her newsletter community and receive a free short story.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Giveaway: DEADLY ECHOES by Nancy Mehl

In celebration of the latest book in Nancy Mehl's Finding Sanctuary series, we're giving away book 2, Deadly Echoes, to one lucky reader! Check out the review of this outstanding book!

Here's the short version from the back cover:
Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school. 
Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.
As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide—even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family. 
And if you think that sounds exciting, don't miss out on Nancy's newest book, Rising Darkness! Find it available now at Amazon!

To enter to win this great book, comment with one thing your planning to do for Thanksgiving next week. And don't forget to leave your email address so we can contact the winner. We will draw one name on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Monday, November 9, 2015

RISING DARKNESS by Nancy Mehl

Iola Goulton reviews Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl.


Short version (Amazon):

Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. Certain she's left her past far behind her, she's now focused on her job at a newspaper and is shocked when she stumbles upon the name of someone she knew in her old life. But when she learns the man--a prisoner--claims a suspect from a decades-old unsolved crime is hiding out in the small town of Sanctuary, Missouri, she can't resist following the lead in hopes of furthering her career.

Almost immediately upon her arrival, Sophie's confronted with a face from her past and fears her intention of using a false identity to investigate is doomed. But with the help of Sanctuary's charismatic young pastor, Sophie knows she's getting close. Will she be able to conceal the truth of her own past long enough to find the suspect before someone puts a stop--fatal or otherwise--to her investigation?

My Review:

The fact I guest review on a blog called ‘Suspense Sisters Reviews’ is probably a clue that I like suspense novels. I especially like romantic suspense, and Nancy Mehl’s latest is the best romantic suspense I’ve read in a while. Yes, it’s the third in the series, but while I’ve read and the earlier two books (Gathering Shadows and Deadly Echoes), I’ve read dozens, perhaps hundreds, of novels in between, and I can’t remember all the details. No matter. Rising Darkness works equally well as a standalone novel.

There was a slightly awkward start as I realised Sophie aka Emily is lying to the good people of Sanctuary, especially the lovely woman she boards with—I don’t thing lying is consistent with Christian characters, even if Sophie/Emily and God aren’t currently on speaking terms. But this was soon sorted out to my satisfaction (I won’t say how—that would be a spoiler, after all).

I really liked the character of Jonathon Wiese, the guy the teenage Sophie fell in love with back in Kingdom, who is now the pastor of the ‘other’ (i.e. non-Mennonite) church in Sanctuary. I know there’s no such thing as a perfect pastor or perfect man, but this is fiction. He can be perfect, and he’s certainly the perfect hero as he supports Sophie/Emily in her research, and in showing her that the faults of her strict Mennonite upbringing were faults of man, not God.

The writing was excellent, and I especially liked the thoughtful and honest way the characters address issues of faith, acknowledging the evil that is in the world without diminishing it, and without diminishing God. I’ve seen a lot of CBA books recently with spiritual themes which are best described as wishy-washy, and it was good to read a Christian novel with a strong Christian message, but one which never feels preachy or unnatural, or gets in the way of the plot.

Excellent. I recommend Rising Darkness to all suspense fans (you’re reading the Suspense Sisters blog. You must be a suspense fan!)

Thanks to Baker Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Reviewer, Iola Goulton: 

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, November 2, 2015

DANGEROUS TIDINGS by Dana Mentink


Marji Laine reviews Dangerous Tidings by Dana Mentink.

Short Version: (a la back cover)

SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH

Coast Guard rescue swimmer Brent Mitchell wants only one gift for Christmas: to find his sister. When he discovers that her disappearance is tangled with the death of private eye Bruce Gallagher, he joins forces with Bruce's daughter Donna to investigate. Grieving Donna is as tough as the determined military man…and both will stop at nothing to find the truth. But the duo soon discovers that a murdered father and a missing sister merely top a looming pyramid of secrets on Coronado Island. Deadly secrets. These unlikely partners have vowed to stick together until their most important case is closed—but they may pay with their lives.

My Take:

I’m so glad I was given a free copy of Dangerous Tidings from Dana Mentink in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed hours of edge-of-my-seat time! From the beginning tension with creaking floorboards and eerie shadows, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.

And horror of horrors when the hands shot out and grabbed Donna Gallagher. I struggled with a fear of that type of thing all through childhood, leaping onto my bed because I was afraid someone would reach out from under it.

But the author doesn’t stop with forcing me to face my childhood nightmares. The suspense mounts as questions breed more questions, and the sources of the answers further more threats. This story had my thoughts wound up so tight, I might as well have been playing a game of Twister.

I loved the ending! I won’t give it away, but it was exactly perfect. And I loved the fact that the hero was a Coastie! There aren’t so very many novels with heroes from that branch of our military, but what an amazing job they do!

But I’ll tell you my favorite thing in this story. The family! I’m delighted that the “Pacific Coast Private Eyes” series is sub-named “Sisters Fighting Crime.” I’m looking forward to reading stories from all of the delightful characters!

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, and coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

Monday, October 26, 2015

VIPER'S NEST by Shirley Raye Redmond



Brittany McEuen reviews Viper's Nest by Shirley Raye Redmond.

Short Version: 

An outing that begins as research about asylums and Dorothea Dix, quickly turns sinister. Wren Bergschneider is the research assistant to Professor Allan Partner. They are working to uncover the mysteries hidden in an old asylum that is slated for demolition. The same asylum where Allan’s mother died years earlier.

It quickly becomes clear that someone does not want the pair to be digging into old secrets. Will Wren and Allan find the answers they need? What exactly went on behind the closed doors of this institution?

My review:

Viper’s Nest was a spooky and exciting story that I devoured in one day! When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about it and wondering what would happen next. The story had so much to offer. What peaked my interest right from the beginning were some very interesting history facts that were tied into the story about mental institutions and the sad events that sometimes took place in them. It made me want to read up on the history of these asylums.

The book also had a light romance that developed naturally through it. For a good portion of the book, Wren and Allan were not on the same page spiritually. I like how the author addressed this. She was able to point out how God had been working in Allan’s life, even through terrible events, when he had been unable to see it.

The mystery and suspense in this story was great! The portions of the book when Allan and Wren were inside the asylum were extremely suspenseful. The ending, when everything is finally revealed, felt slightly rushed to me. However, this did not squelch my enjoyment of the story, at all. I have read other books by this author, and have enjoyed them all. Viper’s Nest was my favorite so far.

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

About Reviewer, Brittany McEuen:

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 19, 2015

THE LOST HEIRESS by Roseanna M. White

Iola Goulton reviews The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

The Short Version:

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she's British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook's friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother's death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook's life is threatened do they draw close--but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of
the very rare treasure in her possession--and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

My Review:

Brook has grown up in the palace of Monaco under the protection of the royal family although she isn’t related. In fact, she doesn’t know if she has any relations until Lord Justin Harlow, her friend since childhood, returns to Monaco and tells her he has managed to locate her father … and she’s not plain Lizette Brook, but Elizabeth Brook Eden, daughter of an Earl, and a Baroness in her own right.

Justin takes Brook back to Whitby, in Yorkshire, to meet her family, but not everything goes smoothly. The staff don’t like her, her mother’s diary goes missing, and someone attacks her in the barn. He claims she has something he wants, but Brook has never heard of it (not surprising if he speaks with a broad Yorkshire accent—I still remember my first visit to Whitby. I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying for the first day or so).

The Lost Heiress was historical romantic suspense at its finest, with plenty of romance and plenty of suspense. Brook was an adventurous young woman for her time, the product of someone raised by an actress (at a time when actresses weren’t respected at all), and raised in and around Monaco’s royal family. She has long been encouraged in her adventures by Justin, who is an excellent hero with a deep Christian faith. That was one of the things I liked best about The Lost Heiress: the main characters were all strong Christians (however unlikely that might seem!), a pleasant change from some of the “Christian” fiction I’ve come across recently.

The novel is set in 1910, the height of Edwardian England, an age of elegance many of us will recognise from the early series of Downton Abbey (and it has a similar upstairs/downstairs feel, with Irish maid Deidre O’Malley as one of the main characters). The historical research was excellent—I hadn’t realised the Grimaldi family had such a history of, ahem, dysfunction. However, the research never overwhelmed the plot.

One thing which bugged me was the use of “Duke” as a nickname. It’s a title, like President, and being used as a nickname is about as realistic as referring to the US President as “Pres.” Actually, most of the nicknames bugged me, especially “Duke” calling his future father-in-law, “Whit.” He’s Lord Whitby, or simply Whitby to those equal in rank. The ranks and addresses were correct—thankfully. That's something a lot of American authors get wrong, despite the information being easy to find online.

The writing was excellent, and I particularly liked the secondary characters … well, except for the evildoer, who we’re not supposed to like! I’ll look forward to seeing more of these characters in future novels in The Ladies of the Manor series, especially Mellissa, Brice, and Ella.

Recommended for fans of Carrie Turansky and Downton Abbey. Thanks to Bethany House and Litfuse for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Reviewer, Iola Goulton: 

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Giveaway: EHVAH AFTER by Rose Dee

Author Rose Dee has graciously agreed to give away a copy of her newest book, Ehvah After to one lucky Suspense Sister review visitor.

Here's what Iola Goulton, our New Zealand reviewer, said about this book:

"There’s plenty of mystery and suspense along with some romance and all set against the beautiful backdrop of Queensland and more than a dash of humour from the locals (human and non-human)."

Ehvah After recounts troubles of a former teen star who finds herself running from a murderer. See the entire review HERE!

Want a copy of your own direct from the author? Simply leave a comment below and share your favorite teen star (current or former)! Don't forget to leave your email address for contact purposes.

A winning name will be drawn on October 20. If you have a US address, you can choose between a paperback or e-book. An international winner will be sent an e-book. 

Again, make sure you include your email address!

Monday, October 5, 2015

SUBMERGED by Elizabeth Goddard

Marji Laine reviews:

Submerged, by Elizabeth Goddard follows in the excellence shown in the first three stories of the Mountain Cove series, published by Love Inspired Suspense.

Back Cover Premise:

IN TOO DEEP

With Christmas just around the corner, Cobie MacBride wants closure in the case of her missing father. But when a visit to the last place he was seen leads to an attack by a masked assailant, Cobie knows she's in over her head. Running for her life, she never expected to find safety with Adam Warren—the man she blames for her brother's death. Seeking answers leads them to a treasure ship, buried secrets…and deadly danger. Christmas could find them starting a new future—if they can avoid getting trapped in the perils of the past.

MOUNTAIN COVE: In the Alaskan wilderness, love and danger collide

My Take:

To say I enjoyed Submerged is the epitome of understatment. This story took me by surprise over and over again. I love the way Elizabeth Goddard paces her books. She has a rhythm as natural as breathing.

Cobie and Adam show intense sparks, suppressed at their first "on camera" meet up. Their troubled past association is revealed slowly, and it seems to effectively doom any future they might have together. And yet, Adam can't leave her to defend herself alone against someone who has murderous intention. With each attack on Cobie's life worsening, the futility of any blossoming romance is the least of their worries.

The lingering pain would destroy a relationship before it began, anyway.

Oh, and believe me, the relationship between these two is every bit as intriguing as the twisted mystery and suspense that surrounds their new interaction! Well worth the sleepless night I took to finish it!

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense. 

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, and coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op. 

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A BROTHER'S BOND by Lee Tobin McClain

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews the newest release by Lee Tobin McClain, A Brother's Bond.

The Short Version:

Stranded with the suspect…

After rescuing a beautiful stranger from a seemingly random rock slide, a snowstorm leaves disabled veteran Adam Calloway no choice but to put her up at his remote mountain getaway. But when he realizes who Karen Smith is and why she’s here, all he knows for sure is that he has to get rid of her… and fast. Because Karen wants to find out what really happened to her younger brother, killed in these mountains nine years ago. And if she solves the cold case, she’ll destroy Adam’s fragile sister whom he’s vowed to protect with his life.

As Adam and Karen wait out the storm together, they care for Adam’s sister and her child and face mysterious threats from the outside world. Why does Karen keep getting warning texts on her phone? Who would toss a brick through Adam’s picture window? And what kind of maniac would try to set fire to a house with four people inside, one of them a vulnerable child?

Working together to keep everyone safe, Adam and Karen come to admire each other’s strengths, and the two loners begin to fall in love. But Karen is getting closer to the truth that could put Adam’s sister behind bars and leave her son without a mother. The threats keep escalating. And Adam starts to wonder if he can fulfill the vow to serve and protect that he made as a teenager at the Covenant School . . . and whether he really understands anything at all about what happened all those years ago…

My Take:

First, a confession: I rarely read self-published fiction of any genre. That’s true despite the fact that I’ve downloaded dozens of non-traditionally published novels to my Kindle that have simply gone unread. I occasionally make exceptions to that “rule”—for lack of a better word—to read books by friends who’ve waded into untested waters. I also enjoy exploring self-published works by well-known “hybrid” (i.e., traditionally-published and self-published) authors who’ve decided to take a foray into new territory.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s just silly. Biased. More than a little narrow-minded.

Well, beginning now, I’m committed to being more open on that score. I largely owe that decision to Lee Tobin McClain, the author of “A Brother’s Bond.” 

Why the change? The long and short of it is that Ms. McClain knows what she’s doing. She places Karen Smith, the heroine of this intriguing, novella-length work in immediate, gut-wrenching danger. And, Adam Calloway, the handsome, complex hero of the book wastes no time in coming to the feisty lady’s rescue. Ms. McClain doesn’t disappoint in the romance or suspense departments either: Low-level sparks fly between the couple in short order—just as they should. 

But talk about insane complications…

If Shakespeare was correct when stating that “[t]he course of true love never did run smooth,” then Karen and Adam were made for each other. Both main characters start off the work hiding crucial secrets (though I must say that Adam’s—in particular—proves a whopper). By the time Ms. McClain begins to reveal the aggressive external forces with which the couple must contend, the author has also laid a solid foundation of conflict surrounding the nature of the couple’s internal wounds and insecurities.

I particularly enjoyed the second half of “A Brother’s Bond.” In my opinion, the pace of the novella picked up rapidly about 60% of the way through. I probably read that section in a third of the time it took to read the earlier sections of the book. I attribute that to the fact that I tend to savor the discovery of new characters, their environments, and the backstory that makes them who they are. Once I know who to root for, I race toward the “bad guy” reveal. Ms. McClain is to be commended on that score as well. She kept the bad guy’s motive “close to the cuff” throughout the tale—a tactic that made it difficult to guess his/her identity.

“A Brother’s Bond” makes for an entertaining, rewarding read. That said, I’ll offer a quick word of caution to potential readers… If—like me—you mainly peruse and prefer inspirational fiction published by conservative (i.e., CBA-sanctioned) houses, you may be surprised by the author’s handling of certain content. I encourage you to read other reviews about this book and others in the “Sacred Bond Guardian” series if you require more information.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear from you. Blessings until next time …
About the Reviewer:

A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes state and Federal contract 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, 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, September 21, 2015

THE CURIOSITY KEEPER by Sarah E. Ladd

Brittany McEuen reviews The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd.

The Short Version from Goodreads.com

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

My review:

I enjoy taking a break from my busy life and diving into a time period very unlike my own. This is one of the things about regency era fiction that I find so enjoyable. The story and situations are a bit slower paced, and the behavior expectations for both men and especially toward women are very high. Throw in some mystery or suspense and I’m a happy reader.

That is the case in The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd. I really enjoyed this trip back in time. The book is filled with interesting characters, from the main characters Jonathan Gilchrist and Camille Iverness, to the many side characters that who made me cringe, doubt, or a combination of both.

The romance is subtle as is the suspense. The danger to Camille Iverness is clear and shows up early in the story. It is interesting that a couple of the key players behind the mystery of the missing gem become known to the reader immediately, yet the author kept me guessing about a few of the others. I did have a pretty good idea as to who was behind it all, but watching Jonathan and Camille discover all of the players and the reasons behind the mystery of the missing ruby was highly entertaining.

If you are a fan of regency, I’d recommend The Curiosity Keeper. And if you are a fan of suspense, the curious happenings in this story will enhance your enjoyment of this tale from a time gone by.

About reviewer, Brittany McEuen:

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 14, 2015

EHVAH AFTER by Rose Dee


Here's the Amazon Description:

Ehvah Rowe’s life is in freefall. Her teen queen status is long forgotten, and with a childhood of tragic loss, no family save a diabolical aunt, and no career prospects, her L.A. celebrity world holds no future. It will take a murder, an escape to the Australian tropics, and the friendship of an Aussie bodyguard, for her to discover healing, faith, and a way forward.

David Blake knows how to be a soldier. His army training equipped him to fight and protect. But when it comes to helping a fear-filled celebrity navigate the same post-traumatic stress symptoms he has suffered, David discovers the challenge in forsaking his own strength for God’s plan.

Rose Dee weaves a story of mystery, drama and romance, in her trademark tropical North Queensland Australian style.

My Review:

I will admit to being a biased reviewer in this instance: Rose and I have developed a personal and professional friendship since I read and reviewed (positively!) her first novel, Back to Resolution. I’m now her freelance editor, and worked with her on Ehvah After (so all mistakes are mine. Well, editing mistakes. Character mistakes … that’s called a plot).

And Ehvah After is full of characters who’ve made bad decisions or who are being affected by the bad decisions of others. Ehvah is a burned-out teen queen whose life takes a turn for the worse when she witnesses a murder and is shipped off to northern Queensland for her own safety. Here she meets David, a Christian, who both reintroduces her to the faith of her childhood and protects her from the people who believe she holds the key to … something.

There’s plenty of mystery and suspense along with some romance and all set against the beautiful backdrop of Queensland and more than a dash of humour from the locals (human and non-human). It’s an excellent read for those looking for romantic suspense in an exotic location. Well, I’m from New Zealand, so I consider it almost local, but I know it’s foreign and exotic to most of you!

About the Reviewer, Iola Goulton: 

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, September 7, 2015

VENDETTA by Lisa Harris


Marji Laine reviews Vendetta by Lisa Harris.


The Short Version:

No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Person Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels that this case is getting personal, and that she is not the hunter at all--but actually the one being hunted.

My Take:


The intensity of this story begins when I dangled along with Nikki at the end of a repelling rope against the solid face of a cliff. I love it when authors force me to face my own fears. And that level of suspense doesn't let down through this entire book.

Nikki is following a terrifying person. A kidnapper. A killer. And so twisted that everything is a game. And the Missing Person Task Force is the invited opponent, it would seem. Every unexpected turn has been so carefully laid out by the antagonist, my fear levels rose with every chapter. 

Lisa Harris has certainly become a new favorite! This book had everything I love: high risks, hints of romance, and personal stakes. A perfect combination!

I'm delighted that Revell sent me a copy for my honest review.

About the Senior Reviewer:


Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, and coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or at her Faith Driven Fiction blog where she's focusing on a devotional challenge for the month of September.

Monday, August 31, 2015

MISSTEP by Deborah Dee Harper


Marji Laine reviews Misstep by Deborah Dee Harper.

Short Version:

Winnie and Sadie are still fighting, and I'm still living in the strangest town on earth.

It’s December in Road’s End, Virginia, a tiny town long forgotten by anyone but its residents, where Colonel Hugh Foster and his wife, Melanie, have chosen to live—for better or worse. The jury’s still out on that one!

Road’s End is comprised entirely of senior citizens whose kids have grown and left for greener pastures. Hugh, Melanie, and Bristol (one of the few sane people in town) are faced with a crumbling church in desperate need of repair and renovation, a dwindling congregation of opinionated, ornery senior citizens, and a camel—yes, a camel. And if that's not enough, the trio and the rest of the Road's End residents, are soon mired in danger and intrigue when a group of gun-toting drug dealers arrive in town, bent on killing the church handyman, and conspiring to ruin the doggonedest record-breaking blizzard the town has ever seen.

Poor drug dealers.

My Take:

This story was filled to the brim with secrets hidden among eccentric characters and laugh-out-loud goofs. Though not a typical mystery or suspense, it contains elements of both woven in and around the tiny population of septuagenarians at the Christ is Lord Church in Road's End.

The book had some intensity with hysterical antics reminiscent of the Home Alone movies. And the final revelations took me completely off-guard. But it is the town and the town folk that are the real story in this book. The author paints an extraordinary picture of the environment with such detail that it feels familiar and homey. And she gave the characters the same attention, each as the center of their own little worlds, but bonding together in unexpected ways.

I found myself thinking about them and the little town of Road's End days after I finished reading the book. The mark of a truly exceptional story!

About the Senior Reviewer:
 
Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves the elements she loves the most: mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense. 

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, and coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large homeschool co-op. 

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or at her Faith Driven Fiction blog where she's focusing on a devotional challenge for the month of September.

Monday, August 24, 2015

SMOKE SCREEN by Jodie Bailey

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews. 
Author Jodie Bailey’s Smokescreen opens with military intelligence officer Ethan Kincaid rushing to IT expert Ashley Colson’s assistance at the Syracuse airport in upstate New York. Ashley has become an unwitting target of a person or entity with a secret to protect, and Ethan is one of the few individuals in a position to save her. The reader quickly discovers that Ethan and Ashley share a complicated history and that the fallout from their thorny past promises to unfold and resolve over the course of the novel. 

Frantic to reach the airport prior to Ashley’s arrival, Ethan ruminates regretfully upon the life-altering mistakes in judgment that drove a ruinous wedge between them. Though he struggles to forgive himself for his errors, Ethan’s certain that Ashley never will. He’s also concerned that she’ll reject his assistance on principle—that Ashley remains so traumatized by the consequences of their last encounter that she’ll never trust him to protect her again.

Ashley Olson departs a disagreeable flight to find that a close male friend and work partner has been desperately attempting to reach her by text and voicemail. Ashley retrieves the messages and learns that her life is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, she soon discovers it’s too late to do anything about it. An unknown assailant accosts her in the terminal at gunpoint and forces her outside. Ashley is actively pondering a viable means of escape when the unthinkable happens. 

Someone kidnaps her from the kidnapper. 

Ethan? 

Ashley’s former partner isn’t exactly one of her favorite people—with good reason, the reader soon discovers. The pair once worked side-by-side as military officers, and Ashley learned to trust Ethan completely—with her life, at first, and eventually with her heart. He let her down on both scores in one major circumstance, and she’s determined to protect herself from further disappointment. There’s only one problem: Ashley now suffers from a debilitating anxiety disorder. It will take every ounce of physical, mental and spiritual strength she can muster to meet the external challenges (i.e., bad guy maneuvers) and internal challenges (i.e., trusting vs. distrusting Ethan again) that lie ahead.

“Smokescreen” author Jodie Bailey does a splendid job of throwing Ethan and Ashley into the fire. She wastes no time at sending them on the run and forces them to work together to decode a set of top secret files—tasks which may or may not lead to the rescue of Ashley’s friend and her own ultimate liberation. The couple endures an escalating series of tests and trials that force them to re-evaluate their past decisions and their future life goals. 

Throughout the book, Ms. Bailey demonstrates a keen ability to convey her main characters’ mental baggage and emotional turmoil. Neither Ethan nor Ashley is immune to fits of grief, regret or anger, and the reader experiences every nuance of those emotions through their thoughts, their physical sensations and their responses to external stimuli. A consummate characterization expert, Ms. Bailey is equally adept at weaving a plot that sizzles, that surprises and that gains increasing momentum toward a gratifying, explosive climax.    

A fan of inspirational romantic suspense? Then you definitely won’t want to miss author Jodie Bailey’s high-octane, heart-pounding “Smokescreen.” Whether you’ve already ready the book or are planning to read it soon, I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear from you. Blessings until next time …

About the Reviwer:
A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes state and Federal contract 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, 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, August 17, 2015

TWISTED INNOCENCE by Terri Blackstock


Here's the Short Version: 

Holly Cramer’s past choices have finally caught up to her, but she never expected them to endanger her baby.

Holly is the wild child among the four Cramer siblings. She’s the pusher-of-the-envelope, the youngest, and the one with the least experience with growing up in a whole and loving family. Too young to remember much about the days her father lived with them, all she really knows is that he—a former pastor—deserted them after having an affair.

Now an unwed mother, Holly is finally turning her life around. She’s becoming the responsible adult her brother and sisters had hoped she’d become. Then, in walks Creed Kershaw. More accurately, he’s sitting in the back seat of her cab with her own gun trained on her.

Creed is in deep trouble. A man with his own shady past, he’s now being sought for the murder of a drug dealer involved with the infamous Leonard Miller—the man whose crimes have plagued the Cramers and Michael Hogan. He claims he’s been set up, but how can Holly trust him when she knows nothing more of him than the one night they spent together, the little consequence of which is now about a month old?

In the meantime, Cathy works feverishly to free Michael. No more on that or I’d have to put in a spoiler alert.

My Take:

Twisted Innocence is the third and final book in Terri Blackstock’s Moonlighters series. Each novel centers on one particular sister, but we read points-of-view scenes from the other two and Michael. There’s a continuing story line throughout that’s wrapped up in an intense and satisfactory climax.

While reading, I sympathized with Holly over her struggle to prove herself—not only to her family, but to herself. I felt Creed’s guilt and fear, and cheered for Cathy in her goal. I enjoyed the whole series, though, as a whole, it’s really Cathy and Michael’s story.

That said, as I read through the first eighty pages, I was eager to get to the meat of this particular tale. Frankly, I felt the book started a little too soon. Creed doesn’t show up until page 83. Once he does, the plot takes off and the reader is swept up in his plight. I also had a little difficulty with the romantic element. I don’t want to give too much away, but I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Holly and Creed as I would have liked. Though it’s commendable, he seemed more interested in the baby than her. Terri Blackstock’s books are made up of as much, or more, suspense than romance, which is fine. This one, however, had so much going on that the romance seemed to get lost.

Even so, don’t let my comments discourage you. The Moonlighters series is well worth the read. But to get the flow of the plot, I’d advise starting with the first book, Truth Stained Lies and follow it up with Distortion, then Twisted Innocence.

About Reviewer Sandra Ardoin:

Passionate about horses and a fan of old westerns, it’s only natural that Sandra Ardoin sets her stories in the days of the horse and buggy. Her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, is no exception. Look for her novel, A Reluctant Melody, in early 2016. Sandy is the married mother of a young adult.
Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

The Yuletide Angel, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, August 10, 2015

GRIME WAVE by Marji Laine


Iola Goulton reviews GRIME WAVE by Marji Laine.

Short Version

Finding the body of a dead man would freak out anyone. Even someone with Dani Foster’s gruesome job. She can’t help but join the search for this murderer. Maybe because she found the body, or because her friend is a suspect. Maybe the deep-seated drive to work on the case is to stay close to Crime Scene Specialist Jay Hunter. She excuses her actions as the normal ones of a detective’s daughter.

Though no one’s supposed to know about that.

Jay Hunter can’t escape the sharp eyes and keen mind that Dani has, or her beauty and fun-loving spirit. Her help might be exactly what he needs to secure the promotion he’s been hoping for. Though he can’t stand the thought of her being in danger. Not after the last time.

This is the second episode of the Grime Fighters series. Dani's troubles aren’t over, and the relationship between her and Jay is only beginning.

My Review

Crime scene cleaner Dani Foster is about to go on her first date with handsome policeman Jay Hunter when she finds herself at the other end of a crime scene—finding the murder victim. And the night goes from bad to worse when Dani is hauled down to the police station as a potential suspect. But her past is threatening to come and find her …

Grime Wave is the second in Marji Lane’s Grime Fighter series. The first book, Grime Beat, introduced us to Dani, Jay, and their respective friends, workplaces, and co-workers. Grime Wave gives us a stand-alone mystery for the pair to solve, and progresses Dani and Jay’s relationship. So while this story stands alone, it would be better to read Grime Beat first.

I enjoyed this even better than Grime Beat, because the first book had a big job in introducing the characters and solving the crime. Grime Wave was a smoother read is because those initial introductions have been made, which means the author—and therefore the reader—is able to focus more on the crime and the developing relationship. We get to know a little more about Dani’s mysterious past, and so does Jay … which only leads to more questions which will hopefully be answered soon in the next book!

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About the reviewer, Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, August 3, 2015

MURDER AT THE COURTHOUSE by A.H. Gabhart

Marji Laine reviews.
Award winning novelist Ann H. Gabhart offers the first of her Hidden Springs Mystery series, Murder at the Courthouse, under the pen name of A.H. Gabhart.

Here's the short version:
After a few years as a police officer in Chicago, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried--after all the man was a stranger--until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street.

As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep readers guessing.

My Take:
This book appealed initially because of the small town setting, but a tightly woven mystery full of twists captured me. I found myself reading at every opportunity. 

The story was unique, however, in that it was rather like a series I had read that was labeled with the genre chic lit. The genre, as I understand it, refers to an abundance of internal thoughts of the main character. Especially during the first half of the story, Michael is full of thoughts and feelings that he restrains himself from acting on. 

The uniqueness is that Michael is a guy, so "chic-lit" doesn't exactly work. However, I did enjoy getting deeply into his psyche during much of the story. 

I also enjoyed the plot development. I admit, I pegged the person of interest right away and connected the dots of the motive, etc. as the story progressed, but I thoroughly enjoyed reaching the end to prove that I was right. I love a good mystery!

About the Senior Reviewer:
Suspense Sister Marji Laine writes about hope and redemption. Her characters, tangled in desperate situations, rely on authentic faith in God to carry them through treachery, betrayal, and impossible circumstances. Her latest book, Grime Wave, is the second book of her Grime Fighter Series about a crime scene cleaner in witness protection.

A Homeschooling mom of four, she has two still left in the nest. She directs a children’s choir at her church, coordinates the high school classes and the website at a large co-op, and is the historian for the DFW Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers.