Monday, June 27, 2016

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews: DECEPTION by Elizabeth Goddard

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews Deception by Elizabeth Goddard..

The Publisher’s Summary: 

Jewel Caraway thought she'd left her mistakes in the past—but then her past arrives at her door. Though she's thrilled to reunite with her estranged sister, something about her sister's new husband makes Jewel uneasy. Does he know her secret? Is he the one behind the growing list of attacks against her? And if he is involved…does that mean her sister is, too? With nowhere else to turn, Jewel must rely on police chief Colin Winters—the first man to make the widow question her resolve to never love again. But will he stay by her side when her guarded secrets are revealed?

My Take: 

Elizabeth Goddard, author of Deception, has been writing inspirational romantic suspense novels for the Love Inspired Suspense line and another well-known Christian publisher for some time. So, it comes as no surprise that Deception opens with an action-packed test of heroine Jewel Caraway’s strength and resilience. A forty-something widow and owner of a quaint Bed & Breakfast in remote Mountain Cove, Alaska, Jewel loves the great outdoors. She’s on a hike near treacherous Dead Man Falls, in fact, when she becomes separated from her party—younger sister, Meral, and new brother-in-law Buck Cambridge. The two have surprised Jewel recently by honeymooning in Mountain Cove after a twenty-year estrangement between Jewel and her family. Jewel quickly becomes anxious about her sister and brother-in-law’s fate when they fail to meet her at the top of the falls as planned. Too bad for our heroine the day’s complications have only begun. Moments after she shouts her sister’s name, a not-so-gentle push from behind sends Jewel careening into the falls and battling for her life.

Enter forty-something police chief Colin Winters, former best friend of Jewel’s deceased husband and possessor of a serious crush on the beautiful widow. Learning of Jewel’s “accident” from the fire chief, Colin rushes to Dead Man Falls to join the search and rescue party. Though he and the search team locate Jewel in short order—and she has miraculously survived an inconceivable brush with death with serious but treatable injuries—Colin is disturbed to hear Jewel’s claim that she was pushed into the water. To the police chief’s knowledge, the woman has no known enemies and nothing of any significant value beyond the B&B. What would be the motive for killing her? He doesn’t remain incredulous for long. As the attacks mount—and the casualties increase—Colin becomes convinced that Jewel is hiding something. If he doesn’t find out what—and soon—it may cost Jewel her life and Colin his last real chance at love.

Whew! Lucky for her readers Mrs. Goddard knows her stuff. Topping such an exhilarating opening would prove daunting for a less experienced writer, but the author of Deception is only getting started. The sixth book in the writer’s Mountain Cove series, Deception is chock full of beloved secondary characters who’ve appeared front and center in the earlier books. But, make no mistake. This is Jewel and Colin’s story. The author delves deftly and deeply into their needs, desires and frailties—painting flawed but sympathetic, three-dimensional characters in the process. The reader can’t help but root for them to find their way out of the quagmire created by Jewel’s attacker and into one another’s arms.

Mrs. Goddard uses the perilous, untamed beauty of Alaska, moreover, to excellent effect throughout the work. The exotic setting evokes a tantalizing mix of awe and terror in the reader—rendering it the perfect backdrop for a story that can only be described as an ice-packed thrill ride to love, revelation and fulfillment. And, let’s not forget the villain, or villains, as the case may be. Trust me—you won’t be disappointed. Jewel’s nemesis lacks neither proper motivation nor the requisite bent for evil these books require. Get ready for a few surprises!

Please share your thoughts about the book and/or the series 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, June 20, 2016

Brittany McEuen reviews: SISTER DEAR by Laura McNeill

Brittany McEuen reviews Sister Dear by Laura McNeill.

Short Version from Goodreads:

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.


Sister Dear was a real page turner for me! I was actually surprised that I liked it so much even though there is not really a romantic thread running through the story. I definitely gravitate toward novels that have at least a bit of romance tied in with the suspense. Sister Dear is really not that type of book!

I thought that this novel was set up very well. I loved the way the reader was able to view the story and flashbacks that occurred through the viewpoints of several characters. This allowed me to either relate to what the person was enduring, as was the case with Allie and Caroline, or alternatively get an inside look at the motives to keep the past hidden, as was the case with Sheriff Gaines and Emma.

Although some readers may figure out more quickly than I did who the real villain was, I fluctuated back and forth on my conclusion about exactly what happened until late into the book. The flashbacks provided great clues and I felt such anger toward those who allowed Allie to serve time for a crime she didn’t commit.

Although Sister Dear was published by a Christian publisher, I did not truly feel that there was a Christian thread running through this story. It was relatively clean and a good moral lesson about forgiveness and honesty ran through the book, however, there were some rather heated, intimate flashbacks that could be considered “edgy” to some readers. I personally felt that those scenes were useful to the direction of the story and painted a full picture of one of the characters, but it is worth mentioning for some readers to take into consideration.

I really enjoyed Sister Dear and the method by which the author unfolded this story. It captured my attention from start to finish and I truly felt anger and frustration for Allie and a desperation for the truth to be brought to light.

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, June 13, 2016

Marji Laine reviews: Protectived Duty by Jessica R. Patch

Marji Laine reviews Protective Duty released from Love Inspired Suspense by Jessica R. Patch.

Short Version from Amazon:


Minutes into FBI profiler Bryn Eastman's first case since a near-fatal shooting, a brazen serial killer sets his sights on her next. Now her life—and career—is in the hands of her new partner, Detective Eric Hale, the man she once loved and lost. Racked with nightmares of the shooting and regrets for the tragedy that tore her and Eric apart, Bryn doesn't want Eric to discover the secrets she carries—but she needs him. Seeing Bryn brings back memories Eric can't control. Memories of a once-in-a-lifetime love. But the tough detective knows their only path to a second chance goes straight through a relentless killer…one who won't quit until he counts Bryn as his fifth victim.
My Take:

What a premise, and this story follows through with riveting suspense. I could barely catch my breath through much of the plot!

The romance between Bryn and Eric rivaled the intensity of the mystery. Their chemistry kept me turning the pages. Bravo to the author for providing a perfect reason to keep these two apart.

And she did a fine job of providing excuses for Bryn to be alone enough to get into all sorts of danger. That aspect kept me on edge. FBI agent Bryn Eastman was brilliant according to those around her, but still took reckless chances for little cause.

I guess I can attribute her actions to her own training and confidence as well as the natural denial that something tragic could happen to her. Add to that courage, simply from being in the position she's in, that I don't possess. Still some of her choices, like details she refused to reveal and times that she decided to work alone, made me cringe.

But then, that cringe factor is also one the things I love the most about Romantic Suspense! And this story is an outstanding example.

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 or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Iola Goulton reviews: SINS OF THE PAST by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason

Iola Goulton reviews Sins of the Past, a collection of three novellas by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason.

In Dee Henderson's "Missing," a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident, and a race against the clock begins.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with "Shadowed," introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector.

Lynette Eason's "Blackout" delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found—but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her?

My Review:

Sins of the Past is a good name for this collection, as each story is a current event influenced by something in the past (well, Shadowed is a 1979 event influenced by something pre-1979).

Missing was a solid suspense story with a touch of budding romance (as is appropriate for a story which is condensed into a short period of time). It was a solid novella which focused more on the plot than the characters—I would have liked to have gotten to know John and Sharon better, but I suspect we might be seeing more of them in future Dee Henderson novels. I hope so.

Shadowed is set in 1979 when Ben McKenna meets Libby Jennings in Yancey, Alaska, where she is preparing for an open water swimming race. It’s a generational prequel to Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series, and despite the overdose of 1970’s name-dropping (and possible anachronisms), it’s an excellent story, with a fast-paced plot, fascinating characters and plenty of romantic tension between Libby and Ben as they try to stay one step ahead of the evildoers.

Blackout has paramedic Macey, working with policeman neighbour Chad, attempting to remember what happened to her six years ago . . . before someone else dies. As with Shadowed, the writing is excellent, the plot fast-paced and relatively complex for a novella, and the characters are likeable people brought together by a stressful situation, and finding they have something more than neighbourly friendship. Awww! (This one has the best Awww! Factor, and was definitely my favourite of the three stories).

Dani Pettrey has previously thanked Dee Henderson for helping her learn the craft of writing, and comparing Missing with Shadowed suggests the apprentice is now the master—the writing in Shadowed was much more contemporary in style (despite the historical setting), and gave better insight into the characters. The characterisation in Missing felt almost shallow in comparison to both Shadowed and Blackout, but the collection is still great—each subsequent story is even better than the one preceding it.

Recommended for romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About 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).