Review: Hello Again

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: Hello AgainHello Again (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #2) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #2
Published by Headline on November 2nd 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is the best of the series so far. Mixing the romance, Evelyn’s personal demons, creepy serial killer mysteries, danger and some serious suspense, this book is satisfying in so many ways, but definitely left me desperately wanting the next book.

THE STORY:  Dr. Evelyn Talbot is continuing her work with serial killers at Hanover House in Alaska determined to uncover a way to identify the people who become serial killer. Her newest inmate is known as the Zombie Maker who defies many of the standard expectations of serial killers — but he also reminds her of her ex-boyfriend Jasper who killed her friends and almost herself and has been on the loose for two decades. When another friend of Evelyn is killed with the Zombie Maker’s signature the question arises: was the wrong man convicted of the Zombie Maker’s crimes or is Jasper hunting Evelyn again.

OPINION: I’ve been a fan of this series since I read the prequel a couple of years ago. The story was just creepy enough and had enough romance to keep me interested, but this book explodes the story. Everything feels bigger and more urgent here. The series has really hit its stride now that the setup portion has been completed. This book is the best so far.

This book takes place about a year after the events in the previous book. Evelyn is still running Hanover House and more serial killers are coming all the time. Not to give anything away, but this book deals with the question of the Zombie Maker serial killer and whether he is guilty or not and the similar murders which might indicate either that the man incarcerated at Hanover House might be innocent or that Evelyn’s personal demon is making a move on her again.

This story seamlessly blends and uses to good suspense purposes the questions of the newest killings and three possible suspects. Some is revealed here but other parts of left to the ongoing and overarching storylines. Frankly, I was frightened and creeped out by much of the last third of the book — which was exactly what I was expecting.

This book is really a suspense book with some romance — and I really liked the balance here. This is Evelyn’s personal story and the book never forgets it in service to some suspense storyline. Everything is personal and is all seen from the lens of Evelyn’s life. I like the suspense in this book but I probably wouldn’t have continued to read without the romance between Evelyn and her Alaskan trooper boyfriend Amarok. The two have been seeing one another for a year, but Evelyn still has trust issues and doubts and there are new challenges and hurdles for the two. Despite their serious difficulties, these two are so wonderful together that it manages to balance out all the darkness of the plotline. If I didn’t have the hope of their relationship really working out to a HEA in the end, I think the darkness of the story would have overwhelmed me.

This series has definitely found its footing here and I look forward to the next installment because things are getting really interesting and scary.

WORTH MENTIONING: Oh when will the next book be out!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HELLO AGAIN is the second novel in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles. This book has an independent story, but there are overarching storylines in the series. I think this book is better read after the prequel and first book in the series because the relationships between the characters is more clearly defined.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

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

five-stars

Review: Dark Horse

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: Dark HorseDark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping, #1) by B.J. Daniels
Series: , , The McGraw Kidnapping #1
Published by Harlequin Intrigue on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Much more mystery/romantic suspense than romance, I enjoyed this book for what it is — an introduction to the mystery of the disappearance of the McGraw twins.  The romance was a nice addition, but certainly did not carry the story.

THE STORY: True crime writer Nikki St. James to write about (and intending to solve) the kidnapping of the McGraw twins.  It has been twenty-five years since they disappeared and although some believe that the twins are dead and that the mother and her lover committed the crime, Nikki wants to prove there is another explanation.  Nikki has gotten the father to agree to talk, but his eldest son, Cull McGraw, doesn’t trust Nikki and wants to protect his family.  Sparks fly and old secrets present new dangers.

OPINION:  This book is really a mystery book with a side of romance.  I thought the mystery is well set out and very intriguing.  In fact, the mystery is my favorite of the B.J. Daniels books I have read so far.  I thought the entire set up was creepy and definitely a well constructed and interesting conflict.  I felt like I was in the middle of an Agatha Christie book with all the suspicious characters and secrets.

The book really is focused on Nikki as the “detective” of the story.  She has her own secrets which have sent her into the investigation of the twins’ disappearance.  Cull is the dutiful eldest son who falls for Nikki.  There really isn’t much else about their characters, but there was enough to keep me in the game as I was far more intrigued by the mystery than the romance.

This is a short category romance so things happen quickly and I was impressed that the mystery itself was so well set out.

I look forward to the next book in the series with another romance (but knowing Daniels’ style, there will be more about the mystery than the romance and that’s okay).

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book does NOT resolve the mystery of the kidnapping of the twins in its entirety.  There are some answers, but clearly there is much more to learn.  That is the overarching story so you will have to read the rest of the series for that to be resolved.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DARK HORSE is the first book in the Whitehouse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping series.  I haven’t read the other Whitehouse, Montana books so I don’t know how closely related the series are.  I didn’t feel that I missed anything, however, in starting with this book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

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

four-stars

Review: Outlaw’s Honor

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: Outlaw’s HonorOutlaw's Honor (Cahill Ranch #2) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #2
Published by Harlequin Books on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  The series improves as the characters fall into their places. I enjoyed this book as part of the series and I especially loved Darby who is sweet and honorable.  The story slowly unwinds the motives of the characters and I enjoyed the journey.

THE STORY:  Darby Cahill has a quiet life running the bar he and his twin sister own in a small town in Montana. While attending a fair, he sees a woman who shakes his foundations.  Ironically, that same woman tries to pickpocket him later. He is even more shocked when that woman, Mariah Ayres arrives at his bar asking for a job. He hires her while the two dance around what actually happened and what Mariah’s motives are.  Darby becomes more concerned when he discovers that Darby is running and is in danger.

OPINION:  This is a slowly developing romance that is combined with a suspense story.  The story unfolds as the characters motives become known.  The way that Daniels structures this series there is development on various storylines (upcoming romances and overarching mysteries).  A lot happens in this book on various levels.

I enjoyed the mystery in this one and the continuing storyline of the series.  My favorite part of this story is Darby who is simply adorable as a hero.  He is a good man who falls for Mariah instantly — love at first sight — and despite all the circumstances, Darby cannot help but do everything he can for Mariah.

Mariah’s story is complex and only revealed later in the book.  I won’t disclose her story here because part of the development of the story is the questioning of her motives. The romance here is sweet and most of the drama of the series is from the mystery and the external danger.

This book advances the overarching story in the series and I can’t wait to find out more.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The story about Darby’s brother is the one I have been waiting for. More happens here for those who have been following the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  OUTLAW’S HONOR is the second book in the Cahill Ranch series. While the story here is independent as to the romance, there is an overarching storyline mystery that continues from the first book.  It’s better to read this series as a whole because there are unanswered questions after this book as well.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 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.

four-stars

Review: Just One Touch

Review: Just One TouchJust One Touch (Slow Burn, #5) by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #5
Published by Avon on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-half-stars

“But the simple truth was that he needed her every bit as much as she needed him, and he couldn’t come up with a reason that made any sense to him.”

FINAL DECISION:  A good romantic suspense with a paranormal bent.  The weakest part of the story is the instant love between the main characters.  That being said, the two are a good match and the story is well paced and filled with twists.

THE STORY: Isaac Washington comes out to his car after getting coffee and bagels to find someone attempting to steal his vehicle.  Instead of the thief he expected, Isaac finds Jenna — a young abused woman who is fleeing for her life.  When Isaac is shot by her pursuers, he finds out why.  Jenna saves Isaac’s life when she heals his mortal wound.  Once he meets her, Isaac, who works for Devereaux Security is determined to use his skills to protect this vulnerable woman.

OPINION:  This was a good suspense story with a paranormal twist as is true of the other book in the Slow Burn series.

The main weakness of the story from my view is the instant love aspect.  Before the two even know anything about one another, there is something between them.  (That works in many books where there is a paranormal or supernatural aspect, but here there is no “mate” or explanation for the instant connection).  But this book is anxious to get into the suspense story and deep into the potential of the relationship.  I can put aside my initial disbelief in the instant love if the rest of the story is good…and this one worked for me.

Isaac is a strong alpha protector and is determined to protect Jenna and make those who have harmed her pay.  While he is possessive, he is also completely devoted to Jenna from almost the moment that they meet.  He throws over everything in his life to help her.  While the devotion appears unrealistic at times, it also jacks up the tension and suspense in the story because the immediate devotion he has for Jenna makes the story move.

Jenna begins the story abused and weak.  But she does not stop there.  Much of the story is about Jenna discovering herself and obtaining autonomy over herself.  There are quite a few twists and turns in the story and I don’t want to give any of the plot away because the suspense is an essential part of the story.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Readers should be willing to accept Banks version of the Alpha male who is possessive with a lot of talk about the heroine belonging to him.  Some might find it a little too aggressive and controlling.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  JUST ONE TOUCH is the fifth book in the Slow Burn series.  While there are overlapping characters, this story is independent of others in the series and can be read alone.  There are plenty of appearances by the characters from the other books and readers of those books will be happy for the updates.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

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

three-half-stars

Review: Hurricane

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: HurricaneHurricane (Cutter Cay #5) by Cherry Adair
Series: Cutter Cay #5
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on April 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A story that perfectly balanced angst, drama, adventure and good old fashioned sexiness.  Two people who haven’t recovered from the failure of their marriage discover that what they really need is one another.

THE STORY:  Rydell Case’s life fell apart just over a year ago when he lost a big salvage to his business enemies the Cutters, his wife left him and things just kept falling apart as his ship was hijacked.  Now, Rydell is determined to salvage silver from another wreck but he needs the boat his wife got in the divorce to do it.  And he intends to get the boat no matter what he needs to do.  Addison D’Marco can’t believe the nerve of Ry to come and take over her ship when he hasn’t spoken to her in over a year.  She is determined to move on perhaps with the man who has asked her to marry him – but how can she do that when Ry is here and sexier than ever.

OPINION:  This book was an exciting ride from the start with a great deal of heart and angst. I really loved it!  Ry and Addy are so perfect for one another from the start that readers are taken on a journey to discovery what destroyed their marriage.  The story is so sad and emotional that it gives this story depth and drama.

Ry is a man who has almost hit bottom. His entire world is falling apart around him and he is determined to stop the slide and recover.  His taking of Addy’s ship allows him to both search for his underwater treasure and also have the possibility of confronting Addison.  Ry was the villain in the prior book but this book gives his side of the story which is more sympathetic than I expected.  In fact, I found his story so persuasive, that I thought that Addy had the wrong side in this one.

Addy begins the book believing that she was the injured party. My one complaint about this book is that she doesn’t really ever acknowledge her part in the disintegration of her marriage.  Honestly, I thought that she was wrong at least as much as Ry was.  While she is angry at him, she really needed to accept that she was the accessory to everything that happened.

At the same time, this book doesn’t wallow in its emotional drama.  There is good dose of actual adventure drama to keep the story hopping.  Just when it seems that the story between Ry and Addison might be resolved, the plot picks up and there is much going on.  Murders, hijackings, danger, shoot outs.  There is plenty here for anyone who wants either emotional drama and depth or action and adventure.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Content warning SPOILER!!

This book deals with SIDS and the death of a child.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HURRICANE is the fifth book in the Cutter Cay series.  While there are overlapping characters, this book can be read as a complete standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 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.

four-half-stars

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: 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