Review: Wait for Dark

Review: Wait for DarkWait for Dark (Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #17) by Kay Hooper
Series: Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #17
Published by Berkley on March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a weird and creepy story (a good thing in this series!) but what I love best is getting more character development from Hollis and more about her relationship with Reese.

THE STORY:  Hollis Templeton has progressed from being a victim to now becoming a team leader for the SCU.  She and her partner Reese DeMarco come to Clarity, North Carolina in order to investigate a series of deaths that appear to be accidents and yet seem like something much more sinister when the sheriff discovers that each victim received a text message stating “Wait for Dark” before their deaths.  Not only is the team investigating strange crimes but Hollis’s paranormal senses are continuing to evolve as she has to confront her own past as a victim.

OPINION:  I really liked this one because while the focus was appropriately on the suspense story and the investigation, there was quite a bit about Hollis’s own struggles.  I have loved reading about Hollis’s development throughout the series and this book takes her development to another level.  Just a warning though — things are not completely resolved and I expect we will get more Hollis books in the future.

What I like best about this book is that there is a real question about what is going on for a good portion of the book.  That builds drama and interest.  This is not a mystery book. You are not going to be able to gather suspects and evidence and find out what is happening.  This story is just creepy and strange and filled with scary images and possibilities.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I was glad to see Bishop and Miranda.  I keep wishing for another book with the two as the focus.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WAIT FOR DARK is the seventeenth book in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series.  This book really needs to be read in context of other books in the series to truly appreciate it.  It is not necessary to read all the books in the series first, but I recommend reading TOUCHING EVIL, SENSE OF EVIL, BLOOD DREAMS, BLOOD SINS, BLOOD TIES, HAVEN, HOSTAGE, and HAUNTED first.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Stormchaser

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

Review: StormchaserStormchaser (Cutter Cay #4) by Cherry Adair
Series: Cutter Cay #4
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A story with lots of lies and deceit on the heroine’s part, the connection between the characters really works.  My complaint about the book is that her lies are forgiven way too soon.

THE STORY: Jonah Cutter is the illegitimate brother of the Cutter clan. He has a lot to prove to himself and to make himself feel that he belongs in the family. He believes he has found Atlantis and brings the skeptic Dr. Calista West aboard to prove it. Calista has agreed to come onto the project for only one reason — she is working with the Cutter’s enemy and intends to thwart Jonah’s project.  But that was before she met Jonah and begins to have her loyalties challenged.

OPINION:  This book was a fun read as it twisted in ways that I did not expect when it began.

Calista is a woman who intends to help her only family with his revenge against his enemies, the Cutters. She will help him sweep in and steal Jonah’s find.  She is a widow, but pretends to be married in order to keep herself safe from any advances by Jonah. But she doesn’t expect to find a man who she can admire and a project that might actually be the find of the century.  Nor does she expect to begin to fall in love with the one man she should keep away from.

Jonah can’t keep his eyes off Calista, but he has no intent of making any moves on a married woman.  His own family history protects him from the moral hazard — or so he believes.  Even as he knows that Calista is off-limits, he cannot stop thinking about her.

I enjoyed this book which has a twisty and unexpected plot. What Jonah has discovered and the crew’s attempts to uncover its secrets keeps moving the story forward.  I liked the chemistry between these characters and I especially liked Jonah who was a nicer guy than I expected in the beginning.

And that leads to my complaint about the book.  Calista lies to Jonah throughout the book but when her lies are uncovered, there are no real consequences for her. She is forgiven after only a short time and after no groveling on her part. Although a huge part of the plot of the book, there is no confrontation with the enemy and no serious consequences for Calista.  I just think there needed to be more considering the magnitude of the deception.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book really made me want to read the next book in the series which will be about the Cutter family’s enemy.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  STORMCHASER is the fourth book in the Cutter Cay series.  It not not necessary to read the other books first, however, because I haven’t and I didn’t feel that I missed anything.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

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

three-stars

Review: When All The Girls Have Gone

Review: When All The Girls Have GoneWhen All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz
Published by Berkley on November 29th 2016
Genres: Commentary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a nice romantic suspense but not spectacular.  I liked the characters and there was good action but I probably wouldn’t pick it up again.

THE STORY:  Charlotte Sawyer is a social director for a retirement community.  Charlotte is careful, caution and risk adverse. She was just ditched by her “perfect” fiance. She receives a key and a note from a friend of her stepsister and finds out that her stepsister’s friend just died under somewhat strange circumstances.  Her own stepsister is unreachable at a “tech-less” retreat and when Charlotte comes to see what the note and key are for, she meets Max Cutler.  Max is a private investigator and former-profiler who has come to Seattle after his divorce to build a new life. Max is looking into the death. He and Charlotte partner up to investigate what is going on. The two find themselves in danger.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this book while reading it, but I didn’t feel that it had the power and memorability of many of Krentz’s books.  The romance was good and the suspense aspect was interesting with lots of twists, but I didn’t walk away thinking I would want to read this book again.

I liked the characters of Max and Charlotte.  They are grounded people who are both rebuilding their lives.  I thought that they had a good rapport.  I did feel the relationship between them grew naturally out of their interactions. I also enjoyed that they are both flawed and there isn’t any big drama between them.

The suspense story was twisty and although much of the story was revealed during the book, there were still surprises.  Things were not what they seemed to be. As I mentioned, I enjoyed this book but it wasn’t a story that I loved so much I would return to it again.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I think this book appears to be the beginning of a series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WHERE ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Puppets

Review: PuppetsPuppets by Jenna Ryan
Published by Harlequin Books on December 1st 1992
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 250
Goodreads
three-stars

“Today I’m a teller of tales. Tomorrow, who knows? I live in the vaults beneath the Puppet Theater, but no one know exactly where. Sometimes I go up and wander through the streets of Paris, but not so much now as when I was young.

“Now I will tell you a story, and maybe when I’m finished, I’ll be wiser than I am at this moment.”

FINAL DECISION:  Seemed like a great idea, but most of the story was the mystery with little in the way of romance.  The couple seemed already set immediately and there was no real story between them. An okay read, but not one I would pick up again.

THE STORY:  Raul Sennett lives in an underground lair beneath the Paris Puppet Theater. He spends his time watching the new human puppet Katarina Lacroix. He wants her and lures her beneath the theater.  But Raul has secrets which keep him confined in his lair. Katarina has her own secrets and tragedies which sent her fleeing to Paris. Now the two navigate the secrets and shadows surrounding them.

OPINION:  I was disappointed in this book because I expected something more than I got. The entire book is mystery with little romance involved.  I’d term it a suspense book with a small smattering of relationship.  The description seemed like it would be moody romance based on the Phantom of the Opera theme, but instead, the story was all mystery.

I just didn’t care enough about the solution of the story.  The book was well written and had some creepy vibes to it as it tilted between mystery, suspense and paranormal.  I just wish there was more romance involved.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a strange paranormal vibe to it.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: The Lady and the Lion

Review: The Lady and the LionThe Lady and the Lion (Once Upon a Time) by Kay Hooper
Series: Once Upon a Time #6
on December 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 192
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I loved this book because of the moody atmosphere, the great use of the fairy tale concept and the connection between the characters.  Yes, there is insta-love, but in the fairy tale concept, it works.

THE STORY:  Erin Prentice is taking a vacation from the controlling nature of her father when she meets a voice across a hotel balcony.  Keith Donovan intends to take revenge on the men who killed his family.  He is playing a dangerous game and doesn’t have time for romance.  Despite this, however, Keith is pulled by Erin’s voice and her reminding him who he actually is.

OPINION:  I loved this book. The story is loosely inspired by the tale of a man who lives as a lion by day and a man by night. The idea of duality, of hidden identities is what this book is based on.

Keith Donovan is a man who seeks revenge.  Pretending to be a cartel member by night, he is attracted to the moments in the dawn when he talks to the hidden woman in the next hotel balcony because it grounds him and makes him remember who he actually is.  He risks getting lost in the role that he is playing.

Erin Prentice is a woman who is trying to find out her own identity after living so much for her father’s life. She accepts the extreme limits that Keith places on their relationship because she falls for him and wants what she can get.  She isn’t weak and she knows that there are limits to what she can accept, but she wants what she can get right now.

I loved the way this story developed as one about revenge and the power of love. About choice and pain and what makes life worth living.  Yes, there is instant love here and the story isn’t really realistic, but the characters are intriguing and I love how the story focuses on their relationship rather than getting lost in the crime story.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book was originally published as a Loveswept series romance in 1990.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE LADY AND THE LION is book six in the Once Upon a Time series (although it was published fifth). These books can be read as standalones as they only are connected by the fairytale concept and the matchmaker who makes brief appearances in each of the book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Her Darkest Nightmare

Review: Her Darkest NightmareHer Darkest Nightmare (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #1) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on August 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I loved this book primarily because of Evelyn and her hottie state trooper Amarok, but I also enjoyed the mystery which was twisty and creepy and kept me guessing.

THE STORY:  Dr. Evelyn Talbot was only a teenager when her world was torn apart by her psychopath boyfriend killed her best friends then imprisoned and tortured Evelyn for three days before leaving her for dead.  Twenty years later, Evelyn studies psychopaths. She is in charge of a maximum security facility which is studying serial killers. Located in a small town in Alaska, Evelyn is not the most popular person for bringing these killers to town.  It has placed her on opposite sides of State Trooper Sergeant Amarok who also tempts Evelyn as no man ever has.  Now a mutilated body of a woman seems to confirm Amarok’s deepest fears about the facility while Evelyn fears that the monster who almost killed her before may have returned.

OPINION: I am a longtime mystery and suspense reader but I prefer my books with a strong dose of romance.  I enjoyed this book because I like Evelyn with all her hangups due to her encounter as a teenager with her psychopath boyfriend.  Evelyn is damaged and while she is accomplished professionally, she is stunted in her relationships.

I love the sweetness of her reaction to Amarok and, for me, their relationship centers and makes the rest of the book worth reading.  While I enjoy a good, creepy suspense, I like to have sweeter and lighter moments as well as a reason to care about the characters.  I like these two and look forward to reading more about them.

I always find it difficult to review suspense and mystery books because I don’t want to give too much away.  That being said, I think this one kept me guessing until the end.  I thought I had it figured out and then the story would twist and go in a new direction.  Plus, there is some really creepy and messed up stuff going on.  I always admire a story that I don’t solve immediately.  There are plenty of suspects here and I didn’t guess the right one, but was satisfied that the ultimate solution was supported in the story.

The mystery/suspense story intertwines so well with Evelyn’s own personal journey that I was fully engaged during the entire book.  This book can satisfy both romantic suspense readers and those who just like a good mystery.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There are still threads of the overarching story for the series that are left at the end of this book, but the main mystery of the book is completely resolved.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE is the first book in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles series.  There is a prequel but this book can be read without having read that.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Into Dust

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

Review: Into DustInto Dust (The Montana Hamiltons, #5) by B.J. Daniels
Published by HQN Books on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Action packed and very intriguing romantic suspense. There is more suspense than romance, but I enjoyed this one enough to want to read more of the series.  A warning that the story is not self-contained.

THE STORY:  When Cassidy Hamilton, youngest daughter of potential US President, is almost kidnapped off the street, she is saved by cowboy Jack Durand. The two end up on the run trying to find out who wants Cassidy.  The truth strikes close to home for both Cassidy and Jack as it appears that family might be at the heart of the danger that both are in.  The conspiracy that the two tumbled into is decades old and people will kill to bring the conspiracy to fruition.

OPINION:  I really liked that the book began with immediate action.  The book was very focused on the suspense portion of the story.  There is a romance, but I wouldn’t read the book for the romance alone because the focus of the story is the mystery suspense.

The book is filled with overlapping stories and points of view which makes the book a big puzzle.  I thought the book was filled with tension and drama and I worked to figure out who was being deceptive and who was honest.

The suspense story is definitely the highlight.  There is a lot going on here and I think it might have been even better if I had read the other books in the series.

The romance between Jack and Cassidy was pretty predictable at first but wrapped in a very tension filled and dramatic storyline.  I was completely surprised by how their romance ended up.  The story is not complete here and the twist at the end might end up disappointing those looking for a pure romance.  I ended up being completely enthralled by the story and definitely will be reading the next book to find out what happens.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is the first book by B.J. Daniels that I have ever read, I thought it was good and I now want to read the Montana Hamiltons series from the beginning.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  INTO DUST is the fifth book in the Montana Hamiltons series. I have not read any of the other books in the series, but I was able to figure out most of what was going on. I suspect that the book would be even better if I had read the other books in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Troublemaker

Review: TroublemakerTroublemaker by Linda Howard
Published by William Morrow on May 10th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Different than I expected from the description, this book is about two guarded people who are forced together and unexpectedly find peace and love.  Less suspense and more traditional romance, this is a solid book that lacks the power of Howard’s best but is a good read.

THE STORY:  Morgan Yancy, a team leader for a paramilitary group, is ambushed and almost killed.  To protect him, Morgan is sent to a small West Virginian town and told to lay low.  Morgan ends up the housemate of Isabeau “Bo” Maran, the part time administrative police chief.  Bo isn’t happy to house Morgan, but she can’t turn the recovering man away.  Bo knows that Morgan is trouble just when her life seems to be going right.

OPINION:  This was an enjoyable, although not outstanding, read.  I expected the book to be more suspense than it was.  It ended up being bookended by the suspense story but the middle is really a standard romance.  I really liked the quiet between these characters.  Morgan and Bo are both loners and not used to opening up to others.  The quiet time they spend together, the peaceful, alone time they spend was what made their relationship work.

The gentle way in which the two open up and end up finding understanding and companionship withe one another was the best part of the book.  The romance takes a slow journey which was good and worth reading.

I thought the suspense part of the story was fairly predictable with no real surprises as to the villain of the tale.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is primarily romance with a smattering of suspense thrown in.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TROUBLEMAKER is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Hanover House

Review: Hanover HouseHanover House (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #0.5) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #0.5
Published by Brenda Novak on September 1st 2015
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 200
four-half-stars

Great Start to Romantic Suspense Series

“She wasn’t often attracted to someone like she was attracted to him — and had been from the first moment she’d set eyes on him. Especially someone who didn’t particularly like her in return.”

FINAL DECISION: While nothing is ultimately resolved in this book — it is a prequel, it does its job of making me want to read more about Evelyn, her project and her relationship with Amarok. Suspenseful but also a good romance, I hope the series lives up to the prequel.

THE STORY: Evelyn Talbot is a psychiatrist who studies serial killers and criminal minds. Kidnapped and tortured as a teen by her boyfriend, Evelyn is compelled to try and understand why people do such things. As part of her work, she is coordinating the building of a mental health center/prison in Hilltop, Alaska in order to house and study notorious killers. Many of the residents around the new facility are not pleased to have it in their vicinity. One of those is Alaskan State Trooper Benjamin “Amarok” Murphy. He is unhappy about the center, but attracted like crazy to Evelyn. At the same time, Evelyn’s own past is preventing her from having any relationship including one with the younger and handsome trooper. Also, the man who killed her friends and tried to kill her is still on the loose and may still be trying to kill her twenty years later.

OPINION: This is my first book by Brenda Novak, but it won’t be my last. This book has me intrigued by Evelyn’s story. In some ways, she has recovered from the crimes committed against her when she was sixteen and in other ways she is still that terrified teenager. Her budding relationship with Amarok has the possibility of allowing her to move beyond her past — and, of course, it is precisely at that moment that the past threatens to suck her back in.

This book is creepy and suspenseful and sometimes scary which is exactly what I like in my suspense books. What pleased me the most was how much time was devoted to the relationship between Evelyn and Amarok. Admittedly, I am a romance reader first so I prefer my suspense with a hefty dose of romantic relationship. This book satisfied that requirement for me.

Evelyn and Amarok are just so cute together. She is incredibly vulnerable and he is a protector by nature. Evelyn has lots of hangups and this man who is seven years younger than her attracts her but for her a relationship seems impossible for so many reasons. Amarok’s practical and down to earth demeanor is a perfect contrast to Evelyn’s understandably neurotic behavior.

Along with the intriguing cast of evil characters (the inmates who will inhabit Hanover House), I hope that future books will have a heavy dose of Evelyn and Amarok’s developing relationship.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is the beginning of a series dealing with serial killers. The prequel introduces the overarching plotline and the romantic relationship between Evelyn and Amarok.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HANOVER HOUSE is the prequel to the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles previously known as the Hanover House Chronicles series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

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four-half-stars

Review: Mr. Perfect

Review: Mr. PerfectMr. Perfect by Linda Howard
Published by Pocket Books on July 1st 2003
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 405
Goodreads
four-stars

More Suspense Than Romance

MR. PERFECT is the story of Jaine Bright who with the friends create an amusing list of the qualities that make up Mr. Perfect. The list becomes a sensation. Someone them begins threatening the women over the list. At the same time, Jaine meets her new neighbor, Sam Donovan. She and Sam strike sparks of of one another.

I liked this book. It is more suspense than romance. The mystery takes precedence. I enjoyed that story even though I figured or the villain before it was disclosed. Sam and Jaine are sweet together. I liked that Jaine is fierce and strong and that while Sam is an alpha hero he still respects Jaine’s courage and strength.

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four-stars