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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.