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Monday, May 29, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews WEAVER'S NEEDLE by Robyn Carroll


Amazon Description


Two recovery specialists.
One murder.
A hunt for the Dutchman's Lost Gold Mine becomes a race of survival.


Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident—to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job—maybe even the best.

A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn’t the gold, but something more valuable. . .true love and understanding?

My Review


Weaver’s Needle was an excellent thriller, with lots of questions, lots of plot turns, an evildoer I didn’t see coming (although I might have if the novel hadn’t been so fast paced), and a real twist ending.

Despite my bias for romantic suspense over straight suspense, I actually preferred the suspense elements of Weaver’s Needle to the romance. Who was behind the murder? Who is threatening Landry and Nickolai as they work together to find the lost map and perhaps solve the murder … and the mystery of the lost mine? What is the significance of the strange scenes about the Native American rituals?

There was also a compelling subplot about Nickolai and his relationship with his teenage sister, a schizophrenic in full-time care. Nickolai blames himself for not recognising the signs difference between normal teenage acting out and serious mental illness—a mistake which had tragic repercussions. It’s tough to incorporate mental illness into a novel, and I thought it was done well.

Next to all that, it might be inevitable that the romance element wasn’t going to be as strong. I could see the building attraction between Landry and Nickolai, but there was always the issue that Landry was a strong, praying Christian, and Nickolai an unbeliever. I thought this was glossed over, which affected my enjoyment of the romance.

But don’t let that deter you from reading Weaver’s Needle if you like thrill-of-the-chase mysteries with depth.

Thanks to the publisher 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 Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

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 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, May 15, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews A LADY IN DISGUISE by Sandra Byrd

Iola Goulton reviews A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd


Amazon Description

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

My Review


I wasn’t sure what to expect from A Lady in Disguise—the title didn’t seem to match the description (and the description ranges between somewhat misleading and coming uncomfortably close to revealing major plot points, in my view).

No matter. The review is of the novel, not the Amazon description.

And the novel was excellent. The balance was more on suspense than romance, partly because Gillian was never sure who she could trust—with good reason, because there were a lot of untoward events occurring and a few too many ‘coincidences’. The plot was complex, with many unpredictable yet satisfying twists.

The real strength of this novel was the research, which struck the perfect balance between comprehensive and unobtrusive. The setting was perfect in terms of details about the social customs and social issues of the time. Some of the descriptions brought back fond memories of my own time in London—it’s a city steeped in history, and it’s easy to imaging Gillian walking through Victoria Station or along Drury Lane.

Every detail was spot on, and a testament to the level of care taken in the planning, writing, revising and editing of the novel, and the importance of good first readers: Byrd thanks two English readers who “edit the work to ensure the characters sound English and not American, Victorian and not twenty-first century”. The effort is noted and appreciated, and made the novel a pleasure to read. I wish more American authors would take this level of care when writing historical fiction set outside the USA. (Or am I the only one who gets distracted by details which are inconsistent with the supposed setting?)

I also found the writing strong—I like the intimacy of first person point of view, although I know many readers don’t. The entire novel is from Gillian’s point of view, and she is a strong and intelligent character. I enjoyed the supporting characters as well, especially the irrepressible Ruby, who I feared for as much as Gillian did.

Overall, an excellent novel, and recommended for those who enjoy historical suspense.

Thanks to Howard Books 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 Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

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 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, May 1, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews PURSUED by Lisa Harris

Iola Goulton reviews Pursued by Lisa Harris

Amazon Description

Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine--up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing--and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can't-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave readers stunned.


My Review

Pursued starts with a bang, literally, as Nikki Boyd’s plane crashes. No one notices the woman she was sitting beside disappear in the confusion following the crash, and when Nikki questions investigators, they seem to think she is traumatised and hallucinating, because the flight manifest says the seat next to her was empty.

That’s soon cleared up, and now Nikki has two days to find the missing Erika Hamilton. The race is on, and the pace never lets up. There are constant twists and turns as Nikki and her partner follow a trail of clues to find Nikki … and realise she’s not the only person they need to find. It’s a great plot, and a great read.

Pursued is the third book in The Nikki Boyd Files, and I hope it’s not the last! The series has an overall storyline of Nikki joining the police force to find her younger sister, who went missing ten years ago. There is also the romantic element, with her developing relationship with Tyler, the husband of Nikki’s dead best friend. I’d like to see these storylines resolved before I say goodbye to Nikki.

Pursued is a standalone novel and you don’t have to have read the earlier books in the series to understand it. But if you’re a suspense fan, you’ll want to read them all and it would be best to read them in order: Vendetta, then Missing, then Pursued. Recommended for all Christian suspense fans.

Thanks to Revell 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 Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

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 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).