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Monday, May 30, 2016

Sandra Ardoin reviews: MERMAID MOON by Colleen Coble



Sandra Ardoin reviews Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble.


The Short Version:

Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable… “Find…mother.”
Kevin and Mallory made mistakes in their early lives. Each has paid the price…still pays it. For Kevin, it involves his family dynamics. For Mallory, it’s a number of things, not the least of which is guilt over her mother’s death. 
Today, Kevin is a divorced, custodial father of a blind little girl. Mallory is a widowed jewelry designer with an obnoxious teen daughter. After a failed, young-love relationship, the last thing either of them wants is to be thrown together while investigating the mysterious death of Mallory’s father. 
It’s the beginning of a suspenseful tale of greed, murder, dysfunctional families, and buried secrets that lead Mallory and those around her into an intricate plot that spans decades. It’s also a high-octane romantic reunion.
My Take:

First, let’s get the two minor issues I considered bothersome out of the way:

One - I questioned the reason for the couple of scenes from the point of view of Claire from The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Book One in the Sunset Cove series. They threw me out of Mallory’s story and didn’t seem to add much that couldn’t have been revealed through the main characters. Yes, I got the first one (no spoiler), but it yanked me right out of the present story.

Two - I’ll be honest, I sometimes have minor technical issues with the editing in Ms. Coble’s books—mainly repetitious words that annoy me. (I know. I’m probably the only one.)

However, I rarely take issue with Ms. Coble’s romantic suspense plots. They’re page turners that leave the reader guessing, and this one is no exception. Right off the bat, she gets the suspense juices flowing through a fear for Mallory’s daughter’s safety at school.

Her breath caught in her throat when she saw her fourteen-year-old daughter talking to someone in a gray van. Wasn’t that the same gray van she’d seen parked outside the house last week? That definitely had not been her imagination. […] The van’s tires squealed as it peeled away from the curb. Mallory tried to see the driver as it sped past, but the windows were tinted and she couldn’t see more than a shape inside.

What mother wouldn’t worry over that?

The suspense rises with each new twist in the plot, and so does the romance. I won’t say the antagonist mastermind was a total surprise, but while that’s important in a mystery, it isn’t always the mark of an enjoyable romantic suspense. The key is how many fingernails you bite while reading. By the time you get through the climax of Mermaid Moon, you’ll need a manicure.

In summary, don’t forget to pack both novels in the Sunset Cove series for reading at the beach this summer!

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 FacebookTwitterGoogle+Goodreads, and Pinterest. Become a part of her newsletter community and receive a free short story.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews: MEDICAL JUDGMENT by Richard Mabry

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews Dr. Richard Mabry's latest, Medical Judgment.

The Publisher’s Summary:

Someone is after Dr. Sarah Gordon. They’ve stalked her and set a fire at her home. Trying to recover from the traumatic deaths of her husband and infant daughter is tough enough, but she has no idea what will come next. Her late husband’s best friend and a recovering alcoholic detective are trying to solve the mystery before it’s too late, but both appear to be vying for her affection as well. Sarah finds herself in constant fear as the process plays out.

As the threats on her life continue to escalate, so do the questions: Who is doing this? Why are they after her? And with her only help being unreliable suitors in competition with each other, whom can she really trust?

My Take:

Richard L. Mabry, M.D., author of Abingdon Press’s highly-acclaimed “Prescription for Trouble” inspirational medical thriller series, knows what his readers want and takes great pains—if you’ll forgive the not-so-subtle pun—to deliver every time. Medical Judgment, his latest novel, proves no exception to the rule. The book opens with emergency room physician Sarah Gordon awakening to the frightening smell of smoke in her home. Having contacted the authorities, the recent widow and bereft mother of a deceased child discovers she’s the victim of arson. Though relieved to learn there’s little damage to her home, Sarah’s ill-prepared for the debilitating injury she’ll subsequently endure to her fragile emotional and spiritual well-being.

The arsonist—and would-be killer, after all—is only getting started.

Dr. Mabry introduces a colorful array of finely-drawn characters early in the book—several of whom are fighting deeply-rooted psychological and spiritual battles that the author explores in flourishes of detail. There’s Bill Larson, the recovering alcoholic police detective who is estranged from his wife and separated by considerable distance from his young son. There’s attorney Kyle Andrews, best friend to Sarah’s deceased husband, whose former fiancĂ©e died in a tragic accident and who may have designs—whether good or evil—upon Sarah herself. And there are others—the attentive pastor, the helpful contracting crew, the concerned best friend—all of whom have secrets and challenges of their own.

As Medical Judgment unfolds, the author makes the daring decision to write the narrative from multiple characters’ points of view. He does so masterfully, however, and the tactic proves revelatory. The reader learns that several individuals may be motivated to do Sarah harm.

Dr. Mabry’s story shines in several particulars. He manages to keep the reader guessing at the attacker’s identity and dastardly motivations right until the very end. He explores key characters’ deep-seated flaws and frailties in a Christ-like, non-judgmental manner. And, the author never dumbs down the medicine—though he offers helpful, descriptive prose in Medical Judgment that makes the terminology palatable for the average layperson. Perhaps most importantly, Dr. Mabry laces the entire novel with a message of hope that few explore with such skill and sincerity.

I’d love to read your thoughts about the book in the comments section below. Until next time …

About the Reviewer:

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 FacebookPinterest, and Twitter, friend her on Goodreads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Giveaway: DIGITALIS by Ronie Kendig

Here's the short version of Digitalis, Book 2 of the Discarded Heroes series:

Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

Marji Laine has one print copy of this book to give away to one lucky reader.

Leave your email address in the comments below along with your name if you'd like to enter to win to this book!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Marji Laine reviews: SILENCE IN THE DARK by Patricia Bradley

Marji Laine reviews Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley.

Here's the Short Version:

Two years ago, Bailey Adams broke off her engagement to Danny Maxwell and fled Logan Point for the mission field in Chihuahua, Mexico. Now she's about to return home to the States, but there's just one problem. After Bailey meets with the uncle of one of the mission children in the city, she barely escapes a sudden danger. Now she's on the run--she just doesn't know from whom. To make matters worse, people who help her along the way find themselves in danger too--including Danny. Who is after her? Will they ever let up? And in the midst of the chaos, can Bailey keep herself from falling in love with her rescuer all over again? (Amazon)

My Take:

The beginning of this story is like a nightmare to me: being in a foreign country without knowing who to trust. And the author's writing is so vivid, I was living the terror right along with the heroine. 

Bailey Adams is a complex character, complete with a ghosts from the past that continue to revisit her. With them comes her lie that she can never trust any man. In fact, she's a mass of fear and given to flight as her first reaction with any threat.

Except the threats with which she deals throughout this story aren't emotional issues: relationships, arguments, stress, and the like. No. Her life is threatened and done in such a way, with the death of others, that she's convinced that her own is eminent. And not only is she in danger, but the man she loves, though she can't bear to admit it even to herself, and a child who has been placed in her care are also targets because of their very proximity to her.

This story held me in it's grip through 3 sleepless nights! The moment I thought I knew who was who and what was what, things changed and my expectations had to continue to adjust. The author has a gift for timing, allowing the hints to come out just before the full revelation, to keep the mystery challenging.

I also loved the strong spiritual thread that weaves through this story. The Scripture reference used made an interesting choice in showing the power of God, but echoed the serious nature of this story. The verses worked perfectly with the plot, too! (Have to read it!)

All in all, this was a great book! Intricate characters, twisted mystery, intense suspense, and a juicy romance make Silence in the Dark a delightful experience!

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, as well as 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.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Marji Laine reviews: MURDER COMES BY MAIL by A.H. Gabhart

Marji Laine reviews a great new story by A.H. Gabhart.

The Short Version:

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn't particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses--a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn't last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs' concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves--because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

Readers will love racing along with Deputy Sheriff Keane as the clock ticks in this page-turning mystery. (Amazon Data)

My Take: 

What fun to revisit Hidden Springs, Kentucky, again! I so enjoyed getting to know Deputy Keane and Alex Sheridan in Murder at the Courthouse. Deputy Keane reveals even more about himself and the people of his little town through this story. 

Murder Comes by Mail eases into its mystery in the same relaxed pace that the little town of Hidden Springs must have in its daily routine. What would anyone do if they encountered someone attempting suicide? It's our nature to want to help, right? How could Deputy Keane know that his heroic act might be one he regrets most?

The author did a great job of hinting at coming issues, amping up the tension, before revealing the next twist. Ms. Gabhart is masterful in weaving together eccentricities of unique characters and intricacies of a complex mystery. Well, done! 

This story stands alone, but it makes better sense with the knowledge provided from Murder at the Courthouse, especially when it comes to the implication of romance. Highly recommended for mystery lovers! 

I so appreciate Revell for this free Advanced Reader Copy in return for an 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, as well as 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.