Review: Nightwork

Review: NightworkNightwork by Nora Roberts
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 24, 2022
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 437
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Roberts has written several thief stories over the years and while this one is not my favorite of the bunch, it is still amazing. I especially liked that it focused on the hero and his story. It is a long-haul epic story, but the romance here ended up being really good.

THE STORY: Harry Booth became a thief as a child to help his mother who suffered from cancer. He honed his craft for years. As an adult, he adopted a number of identities as he continued to steal but also get a college education (in an unorthodox manner). He meets a professor’s daughter, Miranda Emerson to who he has an immediate attraction, but he also knows that she is special. Just when things seem to be changing, a man from his past wants to use him as his own tool. The danger causes Harry to purposely abandon Miranda and start a new chapter in his life. Time passes and Harry must confront his past and the man who endangers his future. [Anything more will give away the twists in the story!]

OPINION: I slowly fell in love with this one. Roberts has written many thieves as heroes, but this one so sincerely wants something small and normal that I just adored him. I especially liked that Miranda is such a great fit for him and the book eliminated much of the interpersonal angst that I had expected. Instead, this is a deep dive into the hero’s life from being a young boy to his 30s. Like many of Roberts’ stand-alone books, the romance is a significant part, but not on the page for quite a while. Everything about this book worked for me. I loved the story of how Harry begins and takes control of his life. The romance was sweet and yet not too perfect. These two have a lot to work through, but there is always the sense that the connection between them was important and lasting. I also really loved the turn that Harry’s life takes in the book. It was unexpected but made him more complex as a character.

This book has a bunch of twists and turns, and even reading reviews can give away secrets revealed. This book was definitely worth my time and immediately went into my save and re-read in the future pile.

WORTH MENTIONING: Many of the characters have flexible moral compasses…though for me, it was all in the service of an overarching good.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NIGHTWORK is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

 

four-half-stars

Review: The Look-Alike

Review: The Look-AlikeThe Look-Alike by Erica Spindler
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 28, 2020
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 311
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very creepy, twisty book. This was enjoyable although I found the ending not as dramatic as I would have expected. The journey in this one was better than the destination…but it was a good journey.

THE STORY: Sienna Scott discovers a murdered girl one night at college and knows that it could have been her. Even worse, maybe it was supposed to be her. Ten years later, the murder is still unsolved. Sienna returns home to a mother with psychological problems and a fear that she might be subject to the same paranoid persecution delusions as her mother.  Is Sienna delusional or is someone trying to kill her?

OPINION: This one is certainly better if a reader doesn’t know what will happen. As soon as I had it figured out, I didn’t find the book as compelling. I really did enjoy the twisting and suspense of the story until close to the ending. This was an enjoyable read and even if the ending wasn’t as good as I had expected, I thought the journey was definitely worth the time I took to read it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is a thriller but there are romantic elements.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE LOOK-ALIKE is a a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Connections in Death

Review: Connections in DeathConnections in Death (In Death, #48) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #48
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 5, 2019
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A solid entry in the series. I especially enjoyed the interaction between Eve and Roarke in this one as the two have become comfortable with one another in their marriage.

THE STORY: Eve and Roarke are working on their new school and youth center intended for children like they were growing up. When the brother of the new head psychologist is found dead, it at first seems that his troubles with addiction have resulted in his death, but Eve soon recognizes it as a disguised murder.

OPINION: I’m a big fan of this series. Most of the books are really good and a few are middling. This one is a solid entry. It has some of the aspects that I enjoy most about this series: a personal connection for Eve, a lot of interaction between Eve and Roarke, and appearances by Eve’s friends and coworkers.

I also admit that I am always more interested in these relationships than the mystery. There isn’t a tremendous amount of mystery here as the crime is quickly solved, but Eve has to put the evidence together to get the criminals. That worked well here. This book was more like a crime procedural than a mystery.

What I enjoyed the most was the continued maturing of Eve and Roarke’s relationship. Readers who have followed the entire breadth of the series will see a deepening and the two dealing with one another in a positive manner. I love watching these characters move beyond their painful pasts.

There is also a nice smattering of the other people in Eve’s life. She has a whole menagerie of people in her life now and we get a glimpse of many of them. I enjoy seeing Eve connect with others. Her growth has been amazing from the woman who was so alone in the first book in this series to someone who knows how to ask for and receive help from others.

This is a good entry in the series. Not one of the most compelling, but quite enjoyable.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although there have been 48 books in this series, just about 3 years have passed in the series itself so a lot has happened in those years.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CONNECTIONS IN DEATH is the forty-eighth book in the In Death series. This one can be read pretty much as a standalone although I think a casual reader misses a lot of character development.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: A Wallflower Christmas

Review: A Wallflower ChristmasA Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, #4.5) by Lisa Kleypas
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 14, 2008
Genres: Historical
Pages: 225
Goodreads
four-stars

Festive Followup to the Wallflowers Series

This novella is a followup to Kleypas’ successful Wildflowers series. It tells the story of Rafe Bowman, oldest brother of the wallflower Lillian and Daisy. Rafe has come to England because his father has found him an aristocratic woman to marry. Of course, Rafe is immediately attracted to his potential bride’s companion, Hannah.

The story takes place at Christmas and Kleypas has incorporated some historical information about celebration Christmas in the mid 1800s.

I enjoyed best getting an update on the Wallflowers. The main story was sweet, but certainly not as good as the main books in the series. The original wallflowers and their men just seem to be bigger than this story and I was almost more interested in the peek into their lives than anything else. I would recommend the novella, however, to fans of the series because the update was worth the price of the book.

four-stars

Review: Leverage in Death

Review: Leverage in DeathLeverage in Death (In Death, #47) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #47
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 4, 2018
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 385
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Eve is surrounded by her supporting cast and this one really worked for me. Books where Eve and Roarke get to work together are always better in my opinion. This one is really about Eve and those around her with an intriguing mystery.

THE STORY: A man walks into a conference room wearing a suicide vest and kills his colleagues. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to the scene and soon discovers that there is more than a disgruntled employee involved. Someone held his wife and child hostage to compel is actions. To discover who and what was the motive, Eve gets some help from her husband Roarke.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. Honestly, the “mystery” wasn’t as intense as others in the series, but this book really sold the relationships in the series well. There is good stuff with Eve and Roarke, Eve and Peabody, Eve and Nadine. The book also closes off some of the lingering storylines in the series.

I did like the mystery even though it felt less important to this book than in others. The crimes were pretty dramatic and the motives and methods intriguing and murky. That I really enjoyed.

But my favorite part of this book is that we get to see Eve and Roarke working together. I read these books because I love seeing these two together and I liked this book so much more because the two of them spent most of the story interacting with one another.

WORTH MENTIONING: Sometimes I am shocked into thinking of how little time has passed in the In Death world. The Oscars where the Icove movie is nominated is just happening.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LEVERAGE IN DEATH is the forty-seventh book in the In Death series. The mystery here is self-contained but a reader is tossed immediately into the characters with no re-introduction for new readers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Kiss Me at Christmas

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: Kiss Me at ChristmasKiss Me at Christmas (Playful Brides, #10) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #10
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 30, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: The romance was the highlight here. There is a danger/threat story that was just okay for me, but the characters and their relationship was sweet and intelligent and quite enjoyable. I especially like these cross-class stories and this one had good intelligent characters.

THE STORY: Lady Regina is facing a marriage to a man who she doesn’t love. She decides that she wants something for herself since it appears that the love of her life isn’t going to arrive. She decides to settle for making the decision of who to give her virginity to. And Regina has decided on Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf with whom she has a flirtation while he was investigating a murder. When someone seems to be threatening Regina, Daffin is hired to help protect her allowing the two to get closer.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book primarily because of the interactions between Regina and Daffin.

Regina is a woman challenged by the times she lives in. She would rather be a spinster, but her family wants her to be settled and married to an aristocrat. She is about to give in to her uncle’s choice but wants to experience her own rebellion first. Regina is intelligent and thoughtful and willing to take responsibility for herself. Her acceding to her family’s wishes comes from a place of love and caring and responsibility rather than weakness. I liked that she is lively and clever.

Daffin is a good man with a past that makes him feel unworthy of Regina even as the two get closer. He is accomplished in his profession and has good friends, but Daffin only can see the past. And part of his past is his dislike for Christmas. As he spends time with Regina, however, Daffin begins to recognize that Regina is not anything like the stereotype his has about aristocratic women. And that makes things even more complicated for him.

I really liked that Daffin and Regina’s relationship is built upon talking and friendship. Their connection was obvious from the beginning of the story. The only things really keeping them apart are Daffin’s doubts and the difference in their social status.

What didn’t work as well for me was the danger aspect of the story. The villain didn’t feel as necessary as the pages it took up. Fortunately, Regina and Daffin were wonderful and I ended up only being vaguely interested in the other parts of the story. Thankfully this is a romance and I much prefer that the romance be great!

WORTH MENTIONING: We get a small glimpse into the final book in the series towards the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS: KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS is the tenth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can be read as a standalone although there are characters from prior books in the series. The romance here is self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to help 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-stars

Review: Shelter in Place

Review: Shelter in PlaceShelter in Place by Nora Roberts
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 29, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 439
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A difficult and timely subject. A mass shooting alters the lives of everyone connected to the events. Simone and Reed alter and rebuild their lives and eventually find one another. A nice romance combined with the suspense of someone who wants to continue the body count.

THE STORY: On a summer’s evening, three young men execute a horrible crime in a mall and theater in Maine. Simone Knox, a teenager, ends up hiding in the bathroom at the theater calling 911. Reed Quartermaine, a college student, is in the mall when the shooting takes place. That event changes both of their lives. Their struggles eventually bring them in orbit of one another while someone else is eliminating survivors.

OPINION: I generally prefer my books heavy on the romance with some suspense thrown in. This book is much more a suspense and story of rebirth after a tragedy, but the story works so well in bringing Reed and Simone together that I really enjoyed this one.

I enjoyed seeing these characters build their lives and find one another. The story between them was sweet and sexy (even if they don’t meet until well into the story), and I was intrigued for every page and turn of their story.

The characters were well drawn. The varying reactions to the tragedy not only for Reed and Simone but also for their friends, family and even strangers kept the story grounded and compelling.

The suspense story worked well for me but I really appreciated that while it was important, it did not overshadow for me the relationships of the characters. The book ends up being about hope, about overcoming tragedy. The violence ends up being a part of the story, but not the most important part.

It’s been a long time since one of Roberts’ standalone books has interested me so much. This one will be on my keeper shelf.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although the book deals with a violent subject, I thought the depiction of violence was not gratuitous or overly graphic.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHELTER IN PLACE is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Collision Point

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: Collision PointCollision Point (Brute Force, #1) by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on February 27th 2018
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: The suspense and mystery really worked for most of the story, but the solution was a bit of a disappointment. I also wanted the connection between Amara and Riordan to be stronger but since they had a past, their relationship did not feel as immediate.

THE STORY: Amara Resnova has been having dreams and nightmares. Six months ago she was kidnapped by enemies of her father but she cannot remember anything that happened in the last year. But she dreams about Riordan Malone and knows that he was her bodyguard and her lover. Now fearing that someone is trying to kill her again, Amara turns to Riordan for help.

OPINION: This was a decent book that had the possibility to be much more. I really enjoyed the suspense in the story as Amara doesn’t remember what has happened and she has much of the solution in her mind.

For about eighty-five percent of the story, I really was engaged in the suspense of the story, but the resolution disappointed me because there was no way to guess what had happened. While the resolution made sense and was in keeping with the rest of the story, I had thought there would be something more interesting or dramatic to explain Amara’s abduction.

While I am perfectly willing to accept a less exciting personal story with a great suspense story, my disappointment with the suspense story also reflected a romance that was okay but not fantastic. The story had plenty of sex scenes, but lacked some of the excitement between Amara and Riordan. While I thought that everything was worked up well for most of the book, the ending was merely okay.

I would read the next book in the series because this book was okay even if it wasn’t superlative.

WORTH MENTIONING: Nathan Malone from WILD CARD makes a significant appearance here.

CONNECTED BOOKS: COLLISION POINT is the first book in the Brute Force series. This series is a spin-off from Leigh’s Elite Ops series and there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order 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.

 

three-stars

Review: Dark in Death

Review: Dark in DeathDark in Death (In Death, #46) by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #46
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 30th 2018
Genres: Futuristic, Mystery
Pages: 384
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is on the lower end of the series’ books for me. The book felt more self-indulgent (since it too is about a series of mystery books) and the pace was really slow. A decent entry, but not among the best.

THE STORY: A woman is murdered during a showing of Psycho in a way that recalls the murder in a detective series. When it turns out that it is not the first murder replicated from the series, Eve must figure out who is obsessed with the thriller series and who is the next target.

OPINION: I wanted to like this book, but it took forever for me to get into the story even though the concept sounded great in the blurb. I still think the more recent books suffer because of the movement away from the personal journey of Eve to more a standard mystery format.

I just started re-reading the series and having just read the first couple books in the series, it is quite obvious that this book lacks something compelling pushing it forward. For that reason, I was able to continually walk away from this book and it took me several days to read when I usually finish the book in a day.

I’m not sure what exactly struck me wrong about this book. I think there really didn’t feel like an urgency to the story even though there were the possibilities for continuing murders. Also because the mystery series is made up, there is no way to feel connected with the possible murders coming up. There is also a distance between Eve and the killer which means that the crime is a bit more intellectual.

I did really like several elements of the story. Eve and Rourke are alone as Summerset takes his vacation and the two have a different vibe when it is just the two of them living in that big house. Their relationship has grown and deepened and I appreciate that the author allows her characters to grow and change as their relationship deepens.

I also thought that the last few chapters really were a good resolution to the story and I’m glad that I persevered through the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are also some wonderful moments with Eve and the secondary characters especially Feeney. I keep hoping that we will get some stories with the secondary characters which might increase the personal interest in the stories.

CONNECTED BOOKS: DARK IN DEATH is the forty-sixth book in the In Death series. As the series has continued, there has been movement away from the overarching storylines so this book can pretty much be read as a standalone although it doesn’t really introduce the characters if you haven’t read about them before.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

Review: A Devil in Scotland

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: A Devil in ScotlandA Devil in Scotland (No Ordinary Hero, #3) by Suzanne Enoch
Series: No Ordinary Hero #3
Published by St. Martin's Press on January 30th 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Solid romance with an good danger/suspense/mystery story. I felt the romance was missing some real resolution of the past, but I enjoyed the book.

THE STORY: Callum MacCreath left Scotland ten years ago when his childhood friend agreed to marry his older brother. Now his brother has died (and Callum believes that foul play is involved) and Callum has returned as heir. Callum will do anything to punish those involved in his brother’s death — even if, and especially, if it is Rebecca.

OPINION: This is a cross between a second chance at love story and a former friends to lovers story. Callum and Rebecca had a closer and adventurous childhood together. When Rebecca grew up and chose a settled and responsible husband (who happened to be Callum’s older brother), Callum realized that his expectations regarding Rebecca would not be realized. Callum was disreputable — he spent his time drinking and wenching and his feeble attempts to pull Rebecca away from his brother resulted in Callum being banished from his family.

Callum was devastated by Rebecca’s acidic words which said that he was not a worthy man in any respect. For ten years, he used her words to fuel his transformation into a successful businessman in America. But losing her haunted him despite his attempts to hate her.

After discovering that his brother has died, Callum returns to Scotland in order prove that he was murdered. His plans change when he encounters Rebecca again and meets his niece for the first time.

The plot of this book is centered on the death of Callum’s brother. Callum believes he knows who is responsible and is determined to get revenge.

My favorite part of this book is how Callum and Rebecca deal with one another. Their relationship is wonderful because Callum cares about what Rebecca thinks and wants. He is willing to listen to her and change his opinion based on her opinions. Callum is also a darling sweetheart about Rebecca’s daughter. The child is not merely a plot device, but a character that shows what a good man Callum is.

What I wasn’t convinced by was the resolution of the past. I just didn’t buy that these two characters could resolve the scene and events of two years ago in such a simple manner. Their relationship progressed too fast and the two didn’t really deal with Rebecca’s choice to marry Callum’s brother. Yes, there were some minor discussions, but they almost made it more difficult for me to believe because Rebecca confessed that she had romantic feelings for Callum before and after marrying her husband. While she might have been right that Callum was immature, he was also right and Rebecca never really acknowledges that. Instead, there is the constant refrain that sometime they will have to deal with the past — but they never really do.

But that is a minor criticism. The relationship now between Callum and Rebecca works and I liked seeing them deal with the current drama.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book resolves the villain’s story from the first two books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DEVIL IN SCOTLAND is the third book in the No Ordinary Hero series. This book operates as a standalone although characters from the prior books make small but significant appearances.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare 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