Review: Disappeared

Review: DisappearedDisappeared (Kate Burkholder Short Mystery) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #12.5
on April 27, 2021
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: More vignette than story, this is a short mystery that showcases what Kate doing in her more “normal” cases. Enjoyable but not substantive.

THE STORY: Kate Burkholder received a call from an Amish family. A toddler is missing in a storm. Kate and her deputies worry that the child may have been swept away in the stormwaters, but there are secrets in the family that might explain what happened.

OPINION: This very short story was interesting although it was not particularly complex or even consisting of much mystery. I do always enjoy seeing these characters and the insights into the complexities of the Amish and English interactions. This was a nice taste of the series with a preview of the next full novel. There have been better short stories, but this one isn’t bad, just short and simple.

WORTH MENTIONING: Kate’s significant other, John, plays only a cameo in this story. I tend to enjoy the short stories where the two work together much better.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DISAPPEARED is book 12.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. It is not necessary to read other books in the series, but I think it is much more enjoyable if readers are familiar with the characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Shipped

Review: ShippedShipped by Angie Hockman
Published by Gallery Books on January 19, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Goodreads
one-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book couldn’t keep my attention. There were some funny moments, especially the text and email wars between Henley and Graeme, but the characters were flat to me once they met in person. Wanted to like it based on the story synopsis, but I didn’t find it compelling.

THE STORY: Henley Evans has a thorn in her side. It’s Graeme Crawford-Collins, the social media manager for the cruise line she does marketing for. The two of them haven’t met but spend a lot of effort having witty fights via text and email. The two end up competing for a promotion. They each have to prepare a proposal based upon a trip to the Galápagos that they have to take together. Once on the trip, Henley and Graeme find out that there is something between them that is hotter than their previous arguments.

OPINION: This was a book where I loved the blurb more than the execution of the story. Graeme ended up being too bland as a character that I really didn’t care about him or the romance with Henley. At about the fifty percent part of the book, I just started marching to the end. I was disappointed. The story wasn’t terrible and someone else who really loves soft nice guys might love this story. Wasn’t for me though.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is pitched as a romantic comedy and while there are some funny parts, it didn’t seem funny enough for its comedy designation.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHIPPED is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 1.5 stars.

 

one-half-stars

Review: Wicked as Lies

Review: Wicked as LiesWicked as Lies (Zyron & Tessa, #1; Wicked & Devoted, #3) by Shayla Black
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on February 9, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION:  Despite the book ending on a cliffhanger, I enjoyed this book tremendously. From the beginning, I quickly loved the relationship between Tessa and Zy. A combination of angst and slow burn and mystery and suspense, this book sets up for (hopefully) a great ending in the next book of this duet.

THE STORY: Chase Garrett aka Zyron is attracted to Tessa Lawrence from the first time he sees a photograph of her. Unfortunately, they work for the same company and there is a non-fraternization clause in their contracts that forbids any relationship between them. When she is threatened by her ex, the fiercely protective Zy is going to care for her when he is assigned as her temporary bodyguard. Things are hot between these two even as they both fight what seems inevitable.

OPINION: This book captured my attention from the first page. The structure does well to soften my resistance to the cliffhanger in the story. The complete and utter commitment that Zy has towards Tessa from the beginning made the semi-contrived plot device keeping them apart tolerable. Zy and Tessa are a great couple. The heat between them kept me on edge as I saw them move towards one another. The suspense story searching for the mole kept the plot moving even as Zy and Tessa are in the slow burn, relationship-building stage of the story. I look forward to the conclusion of the story in the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is PART 1 of the complete story. Readers who don’t like multi-part books that require the reading of the second part should wait for the second book to arrive. The book makes it clear on its cover and in its title/description that this is the first part of this couple’s story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AS LIES is the third book in the Wicked & Devoted series. It is not necessary to read the first two books in the series in order to read this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a pre-release ARC to assist in preparing this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. I purchased a copy of this book after its release.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Out of the Storm

Review: Out of the StormOut of the Storm (Buckhorn, Montana, #1) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Buckhorn Montana #1
Published by HQN Books on December 29, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 245
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: Romantic suspense with many twists, but not enough character for me.

THE STORY: Kate Jackson is newly engaged but is still having a hard time giving up on her feelings for her husband who has been dead for twenty years. Kate travels on an engagement trip with her new fiance and sees a man who she is convinced is her dead husband — although he says he is not and now calls himself Jon Harper. Jon knows he is not Kate’s husband Danny, yet he has a connection with her that keeps drawing him back to her.

OPINION: This book just wasn’t for me. It was well-written, but I didn’t feel any connection with the heroine. I really didn’t care about her journey. There were plenty of twists here but they felt very artificial rather than developing out of the story. The story is romantic suspense and the focus is on the plot rather than the relationship between the characters. That is something that bothered me in the book because I never felt connected to the romance. I think another person might feel different about the book. It wasn’t terrible, just not my thing.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book introduces a lot of characters that will probably be picked up in future novels, but it was information overload and bogged down the beginning.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OUT OF THE STORM is the first book in the Buckhorn, Montana series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

 

two-stars

Review: All the Colors of Night

Review: All the Colors of NightAll the Colors of Night (Fogg Lake #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Fogg Lake #2
Published by Berkley on January 5, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable contemporary suspense with a lot of paranormal talent dropped in. Krentz is always at her best when she incorporates paranormal into her works. I’m glad she is back to this mode.

THE STORY: Sierra Raines, an antique expert, has had some employment problems after a false accusation. She uses her psychic talent in her professional and has taken on being a go-between in the dealing of paranormal objects. North Chastain is referred to Sierra as he needs help to track down an object to help save his father. North works for the secretive Foundation, using his psychic abilities. The two end up in Fogg Lake as the area is connected with the Chastain family’s past.

OPINION: My favorite part of this book was the paranormal mystery. I liked the characters, but the focus of the story is clearly on the “suspense” aspect. I wanted more time and concentration on the characters, but it is clear that Krentz has decided to move away from her earlier “romance” focused books. That is a shame because those books are amazing both as romance and as suspense. In this book, the characters always seem shallower and as a result, I’m less interested in their story. Their love seems based primarily on being involved in this case.

Now that I’ve gotten that complaint, I did enjoy this book quite a bit. Krentz always has a good combination of suspense and humor. The story remains quickly moving and on the lighter side of suspense books. I really liked that Krentz has brought her paranormal storylines back into her contemporaries.

So while I liked this book, it lacks the depth and memorable characters that I loved in Krentz’s book from the 1990s and early 2000s.

WORTH MENTIONING: The end of this book sets up the next book in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ALL THE COLORS ON NIGHT is the second book in the Fogg Lake series. While the romance here is self-contained, there are characters and a mystery that continues from the first book, so it is better to read that one first. The book also has references to Krentz’s Arcane series. It is not necessary to read those book, but plenty of Easter Eggs for fans.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: More Than Protect You

Review: More Than Protect YouMore Than Protect You (More Than Words, #6.5) by Shayla Black
Series: More Than Words #6.5
Published by Dark Nights on October 6, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 152
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: For such a short story, this packs a lot of character and relationship building in. I enjoyed this very much as Tanner and Mandy have an instant attraction, but takes time for them to get to know one another. Much of the story is told in a quick fashion, but I liked these two together.

THE STORY: Readers of the series know about Barclay Reed, the father of several main characters in the series. Barclay Reed managed to father various illegitimate children by taking advantage of women in his employ. Amanda Lund is the daughter of one of Barclay’s friend and is also the father of her one-year-old son. Even though Barclay is dead, his legacy lives on as someone is threatening Mandy. Enter Tanner Kirk, who agrees to be her bodyguard.

OPINION: I enjoyed this story, perhaps because it feels like a landing spot for the series meaning that we get to see all the couples and get updates. I enjoyed the relationship between Tanner and Mandy. The whole situation between them is not really complicated even though Amanda has a difficult past. Everything seems clear and straightforward so I am happy to just get to concentrate on all the character relationships.

I just really liked Tanner and Amanda who both are people who have made mistakes and are interested in moving forward together. I liked their conversations which seemed mature and designed to really understand one another.  I thought their romance was nicely paced, giving them time to get to know one another. Then the story gets hot!

The story is an easy read and because the length is short, it was a particularly enjoyable short read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella-length story with a nice bunch of updates about the couples so far in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MORE THAN PROTECT YOU is book 6.5 in the More Than Words series. The romance here is self-contained and this can certainly be read as a standalone. However, characters from the series make appearances, and reading in order gives a fuller understanding of the whole storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: When a Rogue Meets his Match

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: When a Rogue Meets his MatchWhen a Rogue Meets His Match (Greycourt, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #2
Published by Forever on December 1, 2020
Genres: Historical
Pages: 496
Goodreads
five-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Absolutely amazing book because of the deep affection between Gideon and Messalina. Loved how he is completely devoted to her. Romantic and dark, this is my favorite Hoyt book since Duke of Sin.

THE STORY: Gideon Hawthorne has watched Messalina Greycourt since he was a young man in her uncle’s employ. Now her uncle, the Duke, has a special task he wants Gideon to complete and is willing to induce Gideon to agree by giving him Messalina in marriage. Messalina agrees to the marriage but has her own plans — to leave Gideon as quickly as possible with at least part of her dowry in her own hands so that she can create her own life.

OPINION:  I really loved this book. I enjoyed the first book in the series, but this one was superior in my estimation. There is incredible chemistry between Gideon and Messalina from the beginning. Funny and gritty, I loved that these characters have to examine their expections of one another as they find common ground.

Gideon is a man who has lived in a morally ambiguous world. He has done bad things and owns them.  Gideon has been obsessed with Messalina for years — but from a distance because he knows that she is not for him. He is her despised uncle’s “fixer,” meaning that his low-class background (coming from St. Giles) allows him to do things that the Duke needs done but cannot sully his hands with. Unsurprisingly, Gideon has agreed to do things that are illegal…but never murder, which is what the Duke wants from him now. One thing that was powerful for me is that Gideon has finally managed to build up his own life enough that he can leave the Duke’s employ, but agrees to put himself, perhaps permanently, at the Duke’s mercy because the Duke offers Messalina to him.

In the beginning, Gideon sees Messalina more as a symbol than as a person. This book is really about Gideon discovering Messalina as a person — and Messalina doing the same as to Gideon.

The focus here is primarily on the romance, so the book spends a lot of time with their issues rather than on external plot issues. I prefer books this way as I am interested in the characters more than some other storyline.

Messalina finds her dreams shattered when she decides to agree to the marriage to save her sister. I loved that she was blocked, but she continued to plan and find a way to make a dream for herself — even if it wasn’t the original one. She definitely is not a woman who is going to submit to her fate. I liked that about her, but I especially enjoyed that she was thoughtful and willing to have her mind changed. As she discovers truths about Gideon, she is willing to reconsider her opinion of him.

This is a wonderful book which I greatly enjoyed!

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Hoyt can be assured that a dog appears in the book and has an important role.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN A ROGUE MEETS HIS MATCH is the second book in the Greycourt series. Although there is a continuing storyline in the series, the romance here is a standalone and indeed this book can easily be read without the first in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: Ten Thing I Hate About the Duke

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: Ten Thing I Hate About the DukeTen Things I Hate About the Duke (Difficult Dukes, #2) by Loretta Chase
Series: Difficult Dukes #2
Published by Avon on December 1, 2020
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Simply lovely romantic book. The hero and heroine move towards one another in this book without losing themselves. Wonderful read.

THE STORY: Cassandra Pomfret has known the Duke of Ashmont since she was a child. He was once her hero, and she had dreams of them together. But Ashmont disappointed her for years. He barely paid any attention to her and instead has spent his life being idle and wild. Cassandra has built a life for herself doing things of purpose. This life, however, is threatened by her father who refuses to allow Cassandra’s younger sister to have her season until Cassandra marries. Even that prospect, however, is put at risk by Ashmont’s presence, which seems to bring potential scandal in its wake.

OPINION: I really loved this story because Ashmont had to fight so hard for Cassandra. In the process, he grows and changes and finds a higher purpose in his life. There are external factors which push and pull these two characters together and apart, but this book is primarily the interactions between Ashmont and Cassandra. Her deep disappointment in him and his continued attempts to move towards her. I love a redemption story and Chase does an amazing job of making Ashmont’s journey a personal one.

Cassandra is a strong woman who is unwilling to place herself into the hands of Ashmont because she knows that heartache will be the only result — even if he is a duke. Her determination to tell him his failings and then his determination to make changes in his life animate this story.

The story is more romance than sex, and I loved that. I ended the book feeling that these characters had made extraordinary moves towards one another in a warm way.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book has a loose connection with the storyline of Shakespeare’s The Taming of Shrew.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT THE DUKE is the second book in the Difficult Dukes series. The romance here is self-contained, and it is not necessary to have read the first book. Because this book overlaps with and continues from the events in the first book, however, reading the books in order gives more insight into the characters and their motivations.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Archangel’s Sun

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: Archangel’s SunArchangel's Sun (Guild Hunter, #13) by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #13
Published by Berkley on November 24, 2020
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This was definitely not a pairing that I expected, but it worked so well. Titus is sweeter than I expected with him playing the long-suffering brother of four sisters. Sharine is a woman who is finding herself with a vengeance, reconciling her past, and showing the strength that she lacked in the past. Loved these two and enjoyed being reoriented to the aftermath of the archangelic war.

THE STORY: In the aftermath of the archangelic war from the last book, the new version of the reborn continues to threaten the continent of Africa. Titus is a powerful archangel, but he cannot stop the scourge alone. Instead of the warrior help he thinks he needs, he is sent the Hummingbird, an unworldly angel known as a great artist. Sharine has only begun to find herself after emerging from her broken mental state. The two must join forces to prevent the reborn from overtaking the world.

OPINION: This book is a lovely mature story with characters who have led full lives. That gives this book depth and interest. This book had the feeling of a woman’s journey. It is Sharine who is the focus here. She is finding herself after being the beloved Hummingbird who is vague and not of the world because her mind was broken. Here, she is rediscovering herself, dealing with the heartaches of her past, and building a new life and purpose for herself.

Titus is an archangel who has enjoyed life and then is quickly devastated by an angel he did not expect. Titus is amazingly loyal and strong, but there is an incredible sweetness to his relationship with Sharine. These two have strength and I enjoyed their interaction.

The aftermath of the war is not a pleasant place, but this book has more hope and comfort than I expected. Indeed, while there are still bad secrets, this book feels much lighter after all the death and destruction in the prior two books.

I also enjoyed that his book marks a change in the series as we get a whole new cast of characters whose stories can be told in future books. That bodes well for the series continuing.

WORTH MENTIONING: Raphael and the Seven are not main characters here, they only make small appearances.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ARCHANGEL’S SUN is the thirteenth book in the Guild Hunter series. The romance here is self-contained, however, the world and the characters assume familiarity with the other books in the series. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley which was used to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-half-stars

Review: The Pact

Review: The PactThe Pact (Kate Burkholder #11.5) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #11.5
Published by Minotaur Books on April 28, 2020
Genres: Mystery
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I always enjoy these short interludes in the Kate Burkholder series. The story doesn’t have the depth or carefully plotted mystery involved in the main books, but the story doesn’t claim to be anything more than a taste of the series.

THE STORY: Two boys, one English and one Amish, disappear and Police Chief Kate Burkholder has to find them. For a short story, it manages to pack in a lot about the cross-cultural biases between the two groups and two boys who just want to be friends. There is some danger and mystery involved, but it is minor.

OPINION: The highlight of this story is the relationship between the two missing boys and their deep friendship in defiance of their parents’ wishes. The story has some adventures for the boys, but the story is really focused on the heartwarming nature of the boys’ friendship and bond rather than death and mystery as is true in the main books. I liked seeing the recurring characters solve something that is more “normal.” I also liked that we got to see Kate and John together working on a case. I miss the books where their interaction was a big part of the story. This shorter story gives a chance to see them in action again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short story.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE PACT is book 11.5 in the Kate Burkholder series. These short mystery stories are between the novels and are focused on a quick read.

STAR RATING: I give this 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars