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: Close Up

Review: Close UpClose Up (Burning Cove #4) by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove #4
Published by Berkley on May 5, 2020
Genres: Historical, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 304
Goodreads
five-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: This is one of the best of the series. I loved the paranormal elements that have crept back into the Krentz/Quick books. Vivian and Nick are a good couple and their relationship works well here combined with the mystery.

THE STORY: Vivian Brazier gave up a cushy life with a wealthy family when she refused to marry her parent’s handpicked man and instead left to make her way as an art photographer. To pay her bills, however, Vivian moonlights as a crime scene photographer selling photos to newspapers. When she becomes a target for a killer, Nick Sundridge is sent to warn and protect her.

OPINION: This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I have really enjoyed the setting both in time and place for this series. The 1930’s California setting feels fresh and intriguing. Vivian, like many women of the era, is inventing herself and new roles for women. She has rejected the role that her family has chosen for her and instead struck off on her own. In her job and in her relationship with Nick, she is inventing herself.

Nick is a man struggling with his psychic talent which he often sees as a curse. He has a bad history with women in danger. His special talents make him just the guy to protect Vivian, but she is also a reminder of his previous failures.

These two are great together. I loved their work in investigating the threat against Vivian which also leads to the reason why she is being targeted which is another mystery they must solve together.

The two also have chemistry that sparkles on the page.  This is my favorite of the series so far because these two just feel well rounded, fun, sexy and full of conflicts and I just wanted to find out the resolution of their story.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am happy that Krentz is again including psychic paranormal elements in her books. Most of my favorite books of hers have at least some paranormal elements. There are also small references to the Arcane Society for those who read that series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CLOSE UP is the fourth book in the Burning Cove series. However, the romance here is self-contained and it can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

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

 

five-stars

Review: The Vanishing

Review: The VanishingThe Vanishing (Fogg Lake #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Fogg Lake #1
Published by Berkley on January 7, 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 294
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Most of my favorite Krentz books have paranormal elements. This book is a return for Krentz to romantic suspense with paranormal elements and this book has an energy that reminds me of some of my favorite books.

THE STORY: Due to an incident years ago, some Fogg Lake residents have paranormal abilities. Catalina Lark, who uses her abilities in her job as a private investigator, is trying to discover what has happened to her best friend who has disappeared. Catalina ends up joining forces with scientist Slate Trevelyan. Catalina and Slate discover that her friend’s disappearance is connected with a murder she and Catalina believe they saw as teens — the murder that no one else believes occurs.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this one. Catalina and Slate were a good match and I really liked that the romance was serious in this one rather than only a small portion of the story. The book does have an overarching mystery and there is still more to be discovered in future books which is the structure of Krentz’s recent series.

I liked the interaction between Catalina and Slate. They definitely had a northwest character vibe to them which was cute. I really liked these two. Krenty definitely knows how to write idiosyncratic characters and I liked the quirks of these two. There was plenty of danger and suspense to keep the plot moving.

This was an easy read and while the immediate mystery was resolved, there is more left open to set up the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lark and Trevelyan are familiar names to readers of Krentz. While it is completely unnecessary to read other books of closely or distantly related people, it is clear that all these books take place in the same universe.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE VANISHING is the first book in the Fogg Lake series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Blind Spot

Review: Blind SpotBlind Spot (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #4) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #4
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on August 27, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book is really a coda wrap up of the series after the resolution of the Jasper story line. I liked this one but it was my least favorite of the series because I missed the Evelyn and Amarok relationship here.

THE STORY: Evelyn and Amarok finally look to have their happy ending. Preparing for the birth of their child and their upcoming marriage, the two believe that with the incarceration of Jasper, the serial killer who has stalked Evelyn for years, they can relax. Just at that moment, Evelyn is kidnapped.

OPINION: This book is organized as having three points of view as others in the series: Evelyn, Amarok, and Jasper. The characters are placed in a new situation so their viewpoints are fresh here. I didn’t like this book as much as others in the series because I missed Evelyn being an active driver of the story rather than being the victim. It’s an interesting perspective solving the issues from the “victim” but I didn’t think Evelyn was as compelling here. Also, I missed Evelyn and Amarok together which was my favorite part of the series. Too much time apart that could have used a few extra scenes at the end of the book to resolve. I did like that this book wrapped up a bunch of loose ends from the series. I also thought this book was scary, but not too graphic. I am sorry to see the series end.

WORTH MENTIONING: Amarok was my favorite part of this book. I thought we got more insight into him here than in any of the other books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BLIND SPOT is the fourth and final book in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles. This book can be read as a standalone as the story is self-contained but the story is a continuation of plots from the prior books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Lethal Nights

Review: Lethal NightsLethal Nights (Brute Force, #3) by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on November 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series, this one is sexy and action filled. I loved the interaction between Emma and her “Dragon” in this one. Dark and sexy man totally undone by his woman.

THE STORY: Emma Jane Preston is in the midst of a divorce when she meets Ilya Dragonovich who is setting up the security for the safe house. A year later, someone breaks into her home and almost kills her. There was an intense attraction between Emma and Ilya a year ago, but she wasn’t going to get involved with him while she was still married. Now divorced, the two end up spending pressure time together as Ilya tries to figure out who wants to kill the sweet Emma.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book because of the relationship between Emma and her Dragon. There is something really sexy between them made better by Emma’s total acceptance of Ilya despite his past which he believes makes him inappropriate for Emma. There is a bit of suggestions which makes it feel almost like a shifter paranormal but gives it a taming the beast feel that I especially enjoyed.

The action story was interesting and had some dramatic moments which pushed the story along, but for me the relationship between Emma and Ilya was the focus and I enjoyed the fact that they were the center rather than the plot.

Definitely my favorite of the series primarily because of the mashup of various genres which made this feel fresh and interesting between the characters.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book has some slight paranormal elements.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LETHAL NIGHTS is the third book in the Brute Force series. While there are side appearances from characters from the other books, this book can be read as a standalone without a problem.

STAR RATING:I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC 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-stars

Review: Her Deadly Secrets

Review: Her Deadly SecretsHer Deadly Secrets (Wolfe Security, #2) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #2
Published by Gallery Books on July 2, 2019
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 355
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Intriguing suspense story combined with some romance. I really enjoyed the crisp writing and the story kept me turning pages. I prefer more romance, but I came away interested in this new to me author.

THE STORY: Investigator Kira Vance winds up having her mentor killed in front of her while working on a case for the criminal defendant’s lawyer. With a killer somehow involved in the case, Kira is assigned security — which she doesn’t want. Her assigned security, Jeremy Owen from Wolfe Security. As more dangers and deaths surround the case, Kira needs to find the killer and avoid dying herself.

OPINION: This was a good read, but not the type of book that I would add my my re-read pile. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good. I did enjoy it. I had no idea what would be the resolution until the end.

The romance is a slow burn, but finally heats up at the end. I really liked Kira who was independent and is not a woman looking to be rescued.

The writing of this book was crisp and clean and kept the story moving.

The negative for me is that this is definitely a plot focused book and there is a lot I never find out about these characters. For me, that means that I felt less long term connection to the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’d like to see several other characters introduced here get their own stories.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HER DEADLY SECRETS is the second book in the Wolfe Security series. This book can be read as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book and didn’t feel like I had missed anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Angels Fall

Review: Angels FallAngels Fall by Nora Roberts
Published by Putnam on July 11, 2006
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 391
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I haven’t read this book in decades so I had forgotten just about everything about this book. I quickly became absorbed by this story of a woman who recovers from a horrific event, witnesses a murder and begins to doubt her sanity which is definitely a romantic suspense with the emphasis on romance.

THE STORY: Chance lands Reece Gilmore in Angel’s Fist, Wyoming when her car breaks down. She’s been wandering the country after a horrific event that sent her fleeing from Boston as she works to rebuild herself and her life. When she witnesses a murder, Reece struggles to get others to believe her when there is no evidence that it ever happened. The only man that Reese is sure is not the murderer is local writer Brody. The two get to know one another as Reece tries to find the truth about the murder.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. It is a nice combination between the romance and the suspense portion for me because the story is heavy on the romance.

Reece is a woman who is struggling to rebuild her life. The book really depicts her struggles and I especially like that through this crisis she still manages to build something for herself. Brody is a gruff hero, but I always like how he supports Reece despite all evidence to the contrary. Their relationship worked even apart from the suspense story.

There is little more I can say about the plot because it works better the less a reader knows. The solution isn’t particularly novel, but I did think that the book did a good job leaving many possibilities open until the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a made for TV movie based on this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ANGELS FALL is a standalone book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: At the Pleasure of the President

Review: At the Pleasure of the PresidentAt the Pleasure of the President (The Perfect Gentlemen #5) by Lexi Blake, Shayla Black
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen #5
Published by Black Oak Books on April 9, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 450
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Entirely satisfying conclusion of this series with plenty of appearances by everyone important in the series. Wraps up everything nicely including all the romances you expect and need.

THE STORY: This book picks up immediately after the conclusion of SMOKE AND SIN. The dangers are surrounding the Perfect Gentlemen and their women as the conspiracy around the President Zach Hayes becomes more open. Zach is also torn as the woman he has wanted for years, his Press Secretary Elizabeth Matthews. Liz has been operating as Zach’s de facto First Lady after the murder of his wife on the eve of the election. Just when it seemed like Zach and Liz might give in to the passion between them, Zach has taken steps to protect Liz from those who threaten him. And now it seems like Liz might be involved in the conspiracy against Zach and the United States. Yet Zach can’t stop wanting Liz.

OPINION: This review is difficult to write. Not because this is not a wonderful book — it is — but because almost everything about it could be a spoiler. The fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series finally exposes everything that has been going on. Therefore, almost everything about it gives away plot lines.

The best thing about this book is that it answers all the questions. After it was done, I felt that I finally understood the entirely of the events of the series. The only negative of the book is that the construction of it means that you have to have read the prior books in the series to enjoy this one. AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is packed full and it could be overwhelming for someone who isn’t familiar with the characters, events and plots of what has been happening in the series. The positive is that it richly rewards those who have read the series with a satisfying conclusion.

There is a lot in this book and yes — what you want and expect will be included (even if I don’t want to give anything away here).

Zach and Liz have been circling around one another throughout the series. Zach was born and bred to be president and thus has by circumstances lived a more restrained life than his “brothers in arms”. What I really enjoyed in this book is that Zach begins to break through his lifetime of restraint and really reach out for what he wants in this book. Liz breaks through all his discipline and he can’t be the intellectual and objective person that has been working to fulfill his ambitions. She kinda breaks him in important ways. I loved that Liz, who has been on the side for much of the series, refuses to be sidelined any longer. She insists on being in the forefront along with the other women of the series.

The plot of this book is big and crazy and so much fun. I especially loved that we get to see all the Perfect Gentlemen and their ladies together. This series really has energy when the characters interact. The relationships — both romantic and essentially a family built of friendship are essential here and really make this series worth reading.

This felt like this book was written for the fans because just about everyone and everything I could have wanted was included. I loved this book and really didn’t want it or the series to end, but now I am satisfied that everything ended on a high note.

WORTH MENTIONING: Epilogue my friends!

CONNECTED BOOKS: AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is the fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series. This series must be read in order and it is necessary to read the prior books in the series to enjoy this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: Pray for Silence

Review: Pray for SilencePray for Silence (Kate Burkholder, #2) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #2
Published by Minotaur Books on June 22, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads
five-stars

Everything You Could Want in a Crime Thriller/Mystery

“Some cases are more complicated than others.”

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying mystery combined with continued revelations and painful parallels to Kate’s past and those of her lover John. PRAY FOR SILENCE is a worthy sequel to the first book in this series.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder straddles two worlds. Having grown up Amish, she understands and respects the people, but she also rejected the life and now lives apart from them. Ten months after the horrific events in SWORN TO SILENCE, things have returned to normal except that Kate has an on again off again lover in John Tomasetti and Kate’s own demons seem closer to the surface. Painters Mill is struck by another horrific event as a whole Amish family is brutally murdered. The Platt family had moved to Painters Mill only a year ago and now an entire family is wiped out. Although the family seemed normal, Kate knows that every family can harbor dark secrets.

OPINION: This is one scary book. There are many twists and turns which make is a great mystery. What makes is a great thriller is how haunted Kate is by her own past and how that intertwines and makes more immediate the murders here. Not only is there a difficult murder mystery to solve but readers also get more revelations about Kate’s own past, her shaky mental stability and the way that the past seems to bleed into Kate’s work. More about John’s own problems are revealed as he has weaned himself from his addiction to prescription drugs but instead suffers debilitating anxiety attacks. I loved how these two closed people warily circle one another wanting and fearing a connection between them. The emphasis in this book is always on the crime but it is always shown through the first person narrative of Kate. The personal connection is what makes these crimes especially relevant and keeps them from being intellectual exercises.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some graphic depictions of violence involving murder and rape.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRAY FOR SILENCE is the second book in the Kate Burkholder series. It can be read independent of the first book in the series, but there are ongoing stories that make this book richer and for that the books should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars