Category Archives: Romantic Suspence

Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin

DANGEROUS BEAUTY

by

MELISSA KOSLIN

Fiction / Christian / Romance / Suspense

Publisher: Revell

Pages: 352 pages

Publication Date: September 6, 2022


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What is the price of freedom?

Liliana Vela hates the term victim. She’s not a victim, she’s a fighter. Stubborn and strong with a quiet elegance, she’s determined to take back her life after escaping the clutches of human traffickers. But she can’t stay safely in America–unless the man who aided in her rescue is serious about his unconventional proposal to marry her.

Meric Toledan was just stopping at a service station for a bottle of water. Instead, he becomes the key to Liliana’s rescue. If he can keep his secrets hidden, his wealth and position afford him many resources to help her. But the mysterious buyer who funded her capture will not sit idly by while his prize is stolen from him.

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PRAISE FOR DANGEROUS BEAUTY:

“Do not start this book until you have the time to read it in one gulp. This is a really fresh twist on a marriage of convenience with the potential for pages of suspense. The hero and heroine are each hugely compelling, and I just wanted to protect them both. It’s also a sweet story of the healing power of hope. Highly recommend this novel for those who adore romantic suspense with a fresh twist.” —Cara Putman, award-winning author of Flight Risk and Lethal Intent

“Koslin brings the underworld of human trafficking to life in a gripping yet redemptive plot.” –Booklist


Some of Author Melissa Koslin’s

favorite quotes from

DANGEROUS BEAUTY

He needed to keep her safe from the world. And from himself.

* * * * * * *

Meric was standing in front of the open refrigerator guzzling a bottle of water. His hair was disheveled and…there was a rip in the shoulder of his jacket.

“Meric, are you all right?”

He barely glanced in her direction, closed the refrigerator, and headed for the hall. “Fine.”

She considered following him, but when he didn’t look back, didn’t even pause before closing his bedroom door, she turned and went back to her room.

* * * * * * *

“So, it might not really be over. I’m not really free.”

* * * * * * *

Fear wrapped around her like vines. Not fear for herself. Fear for Meric. Could she be putting him in danger?

* * * * * * *

…there were certain things he had to keep from her.

* * * * * * *

He’d just about convinced himself the attack on her had been simply a random act of violence.

…But he still wasn’t sleeping well.

* * * * * * *

“We’re talking about Meric Toledan. You better have your ducks not just in a row but stacked and mortared like a brick wall.”

* * * * * * *

She lay there the rest of the night, trying not to shatter.


Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. The author of Never Miss, Melissa lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband, Corey.

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Each receives copies of Dangerous Beauty and Never Miss + $25 gift card to Bookshop.org

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Filed under Book Reviews, Christian fiction, Contemporary fiction, Fiction, Romance, Romantic Suspence, Suspense

Dead in the Alley by Sharon D. Michalove

Dead in the AlleyDead in the Alley by Sharon D. Michalove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful setting and characters with a keep-you-guessing mystery!

Back in her hometown of Sherburne, Michigan, after an 18-year absence, Bay Bishop is the head chef and co-owner with her husband, Derrick Anderson, of the Sherburne Bistro, a successful and much-needed upscale restaurant in the popular tourist destination. She was in the kitchen the day Derrick stepped out the backdoor for a smoke break and was struck down and killed by an unknown assailant on a motorcycle. Bay is devastated by the loss of her partner of 10 years, and when his death is deemed a homicide, she is naturally the chief suspect!

To make matters worse, one of the detectives on the case is her old high school boyfriend, Greg Musgrave, the boy who broke her heart and drove her to leave Sherburne in the first place. The investigation quickly discovers Derrick was keeping a lot of secrets from his wife, including not paying the mortgages on the restaurant or home, insurance, or the bills, and Bay has been left destitute, with the bank taking everything.

She must turn to her family, with which she has a complicated and uncomfortable relationship. And in a place she should have found refuge, she encounters even more secrets, and her parents are absolutely not forthcoming with the answers she desperately needs. Instead, she finds herself drawn back to Greg and discovers her feelings for him are as strong as ever.

Dead in the Alley was an entertaining mystery with a lovely second-chance romance with a plucky, deserving heroine in Bay Bishop. The setting is small-town Michigan, and the story has a culinary-themed foundation. The story is told from two points of view, that of Bay and Greg. However, the greater focus is on Bay, as she takes a lead role in solving the mystery and clearing her name. Deaths occur out of sight, and details are general, placing Dead in the Alley in the cozy mystery category. I loved the characters, the setting, and the whole vibe of the story, and with both main characters still having several irons in the fire, I hope the author is using the book as a jumping-off point for a new series.

Besides the highly likable main characters, there are quite a few secondary characters that really shone. In particular, I liked the two “wingmen” of the story: Terrie Sullivan and Danny Tellman. Their appearances in the story and subplot were usually fun, sometimes snarky, but always delightful. Dog lovers will enjoy Greg’s Portuguese Water Dog, Ace.

The mystery behind Bay’s husband’s murder had several good suspects. The author had me suspecting some characters that were eventually shown to have no part in the events at all: subtle and tricky.

With an attractive and tantalizing Fall setting in beautiful and comfortable small-town Michigan, likable and genuine characters, and a solid, kept-me-wondering mystery, I recommend DEAD IN THE ALLEY to cozy mystery readers especially those who enjoy a culinary-themed story.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Tours.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Deadly Keepsakes: A Tori Winters Mystery by Anita Dickason


DEADLY KEEPSAKES

A Tori Winters Mystery

by

ANITA DICKASON


Mystery / Women Sleuths

Publisher: Mystic Circle Books

Pages: 360 pages

Publication Date: July 1, 2022


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When Tori Winters becomes the star witness in a murder trial, someone tries to kill her. Terrified, she’s not giving the killer a second chance. With all her worldly possessions packed in her car, Tori is on the run. A mysterious phone call about an inheritance leads her to Granbury. After all, who would look for her in a small, quaint Texas town?

Instead, Tori’s life is about to spin into an existence where nothing is as it seems. The historic house she inherits is steeped in secrets from the past. Secrets that may prove deadly. A stranger in a strange town, who can she trust? There is the disinherited step-grandson and the lawyer and his son. What are they hiding?

Tori’s inheritance may not be a blessing when a killer strikes again. It could be her death warrant.


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5 Stars!!!

Deadly Keepsakes is a modern recreation of the Gothic romantic suspense novel in the vein of such great authors as Phyllis A. Whitney or Daphne du Maurier. Rather than the setting of the big house on the dark, remote, craggy-cliffed island, author Anita Dickason has reimagined the genre by placing the story smack in the middle of hot and sunny, small-town Texas.

Dickason amps up the suspense from the very start with Tori fleeing her home in Springfield, only months after her mother’s death, to escape the intimidation and revenge of the Russell family. But thankfully, Tori is a bright, capable, and determined heroine (unlike some of the fragile, helpless females of old), and she takes matters into her own hands to keep herself safe.

When she reaches her new town in Texas, she is immediately surrounded by the influential, successful people at the core of Granbury society: men who seem to feel they know more about what’s in her best interests than she does. I was so glad to see her set them straight quick, fast, and in a hurry. Two handsome men are also personally interested in the new heiress, and both are deliciously suspicious. But our girl keeps a wary eye on them both, though. Even as she feels attracted to one, she doesn’t let this blind her to his possible participation in the strange goings on. She keeps them both at arm’s length as she figures things out.

Deviating from the Gothic romantic suspense formula, though, is the presence of Mia O’Brien and her posse of friends/employees. I enjoyed this group of young women so much with their camaraderie, witty banter, and we-got-your-back attitude. I loved how Mia knew everyone in town and all their business and background. She always “knew a guy” who could do whatever needed doing. She and the other women were a fun and entertaining support network and just what Tori needed.

I especially enjoyed the secrets the house held and Grandmother Elly’s backstory with her family history of gambling, gunrunning, and liquor. Readers should be sure to read the author’s notes at the end of the book giving the story behind the fiction and its roots in the life and times of a real, local gangster from the area. I also felt the sadness of the tragic reasons Tori and her grandmother never met. In the end, Elly had everything but what she wanted most: her family.

With its fresh setting, strong heroine, excellent support characters, and solid, relentlessly evolving mystery, I recommend DEADLY KEEPSAKES to mystery readers, especially those who enjoy their stories with a lot of suspense and a touch of romantic suspense as well.

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Award-winning author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, SWAT tactical officer, and the team’s first female sniper.

Anita’s extensive law enforcement experience and knowledge provide the inspiration for her plots, and characters. She writes about what she knows, cops and crime.

Her works have received multiple awards from Book Viral Millennium Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, Literary Titan Book Awards, Independent Author Network Book Awards, and Speak Up Talk Radio Firebird Award.

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Rosaline’s Curse by Katharine Campbell

The intriguing yet endearing ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tale of a cursed 13th-century princess who awakens in 2017.

It was a fantastic discovery: the perfectly preserved body of a Kaltish princess was found in the crumbling ruin of a high tower. Mark Reid, an anthropology student on the site, was excited to be among the first group of scientists called to investigate the find. He was quite surprised to see that she looked almost as if she’d fallen asleep and was yet to awaken, and he couldn’t resist the urge to reach out and lightly touch her cheek. Imagine his shock when she opened her eyes and sat up, suddenly very much alive!

Cursed by an immortal being she’d angered during her own time. Princess Rosaline had been ‘asleep’ for almost 800 years. But rather than shock and fear at awakening in 2017, Rosaline was ecstatic! Before her ‘big sleep,’ she’d been facing an arranged marriage she desperately wanted to avoid, and now she was free! But before she could even leave the tower grounds, her hated fiancé arrived, also still very much alive and still determined to change her mind and go through with the wedding!

Together Mark and Rosaline must try to undo what she did in the past that originally put her in this mess, all while being chased by two immortals: one with romantic intentions, the other intent on murder!

Rosaline’s Curse was fun and fast, and full of action. Rosaline is brave and fearless in pursuing her goal of breaking the curse. Mark is smart and nerdy, pretty much a regular guy, yet sweetly vulnerable. Their nemeses, the immortal twins, Julyan and Acacia, are entertaining yet deadly. The premise hooked me, and the fast pace of the plot kept me glued to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rosaline’s determined progress in understanding her new surroundings. I liked that the author made her a quick study in learning the new language because her dialogue, especially later on with Mark, had some very amusing lines. In addition, I liked that the university set her up with Agnes and a place to stay after her release from the hospital rather than under lock and key somewhere to be studied.

The story moves from the UK to Austria and beyond. The background changes to some interesting locations: university grounds, mountains, a monastery, a channel crossing, and crypts and tunnels belowground. The author’s descriptions were vivid and gave me a good clear picture of these places and the shivers a couple of times, too.

With its great premise, relatable and likable characters, international settings, and fun dialogue, I recommend ROSALINE’S CURSE to readers who would enjoy a modern take on what came after Sleeping Beauty awoke.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.

For more information or to purchase:

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Romantic Suspence

Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean


General Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery / Romantic Suspense

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: June 14, 2022

Number of Pages: 352 pages


Beyond the Moonlit SeaBeyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fantastic story spanning thirty years of secrets. love, and loss.

1990: Olivia Hamilton’s husband, Dean, a private pilot, disappeared one night, plane and all, on his way back to Miami as he flew through the notorious Bermuda Triangle. No trace was ever found, no explanation ever forthcoming, and he was finally deemed lost at sea and a death certificate issued. But the uncertainty, the not knowing, continued to haunt Olivia for the rest of her days.

1986: Up-and-coming particle physicist Melanie Brown was successfully navigating her Ph.D. program at Columbia and working on a groundbreaking dissertation on the mysterious Bermuda Triangle when her mother was tragically killed during a tornado back home in Oklahoma. Guilt, self-doubt, memories of a poor childhood, and the impact of her past, along with liberal amounts of alcohol, lands Melanie in dangerous territory, mentally and emotionally, and her committee chair recommends she get some professional help. But a forbidden relationship with her therapist sends her spirally out of control.

2017: An inevitable discovery and technological advancements link these two women together and focus attention once again on Dean’s long-ago disappearance.

What an incredibly compelling story! I was immediately invested in the lives of these three people, Olivia, Dean, and Melanie. They were bound together by the past and secrets built upon secrets, with the Bermuda Triangle’s tantalizing reputation looming over it all. I was completely absorbed in getting to the bottom of the unexplained mystery of Dean’s disappearance.

Olivia begins the story upbeat and optimistic and remains until the end, even when her world is falling apart. When she becomes absorbed in her own search for answers, she maintains enough clear-headedness to know when to move on and live life again. I loved how she realized she’d treated her former boyfriend poorly and took great pains to avoid doing it again, consciously opening up to him about her thoughts and fears regarding Dean. I loved her honorableness, and I loved their relationship.

As for Dean and Melanie, both were deeply damaged from their childhoods. He was doing pretty well but couldn’t let go of the past, continuing to hide his background from everyone. But the effect of this was so subtly revealed that even with his voice delivering part of the story’s narrative, I was surprised by his decisions.

Melanie’s gradual collapse was much more apparent. We have her voice as well as Dean’s, providing a running commentary of her mental state. She seems like such a nice, intelligent, and engaging young woman until the therapy and her past take their toll.

I enjoyed how the author used the two timelines to set up the starting points for the book and advanced the story over a 30-plus-year timeframe. I appreciated the story’s development of Olivia’s two marriages and the feeling of her life moving forward normally and successfully after losing Dean. The Olivia that opens the book is essentially the same Olivia at the end but with the wisdom of a life well-lived. I couldn’t have asked for a better resolution to this book either.

I wholeheartedly recommend BEYOND THE MOONLIT SEA to readers who have read and enjoyed this author’s previous work and those who like general fiction with dual timelines and a setting from the 1980s to the late 2010s.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.

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Giveaway, Blog Tour, & Top 9 List: Fatal Code (The SNAP Agency Series, Book 2) by Natalie Walters

FATAL CODE

The SNAP Agency Series, Book 2

by

NATALIE WALTERS

Fiction / Christian / Suspense / Romance

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: May 1, 2022

Number of Pages: 320 pages 

Scroll down for Giveaway!

In 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession–and a target on her back.

SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she’s his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

Natalie Walters sucks you into the global race for space domination in this perfectly paced second installment of her SNAP Agency romantic suspense series.

PRAISE:

Fatal Code is reminiscent of cold war spy thrillers and riveted me to the page as I rooted for Kekoa and Elinor to expose secrets, survive danger, and fall in love.” — Elizabeth Goddard, bestselling author of the Rocky Mountain Courage series

“Warning: once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!” — Andrew Huff, author of the Shepherd Suspense series

“Enough suspense to make you need warm milk and a cozy blanket to calm you down.” — Jaime Jo Wright, author of The Souls of Lost Lake and the Christy award-winning novel The House on Foster Hill

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Natalie Walters is the author of Lights Out, as well as the Harbored Secrets series. A military wife, she currently resides in Texas with her soldier husband and is the proud mom of three. She loves traveling, spending time with her family, and connecting with readers.

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Natalie Walter’s Top Nine Favorite Things to Try in O’ahu

It was a lot of fun to include a Hawaiian character because it allowed me to include some of my favorite characteristics that I love about my husband and the culture of Hawai’i. I’m sharing Kekoa’s top nine favorite things to do or try in O’ahu.

1. Aoki Shave Ice: Located (not just in my book) on the North Shore it really is “da best shave ice” on the island!

2. Yummy’s Korean BBQ: Kalbi, meat jun, or chicken, it’s all ono. Tip: order the half and it’ll still feed two people.

3. Zippy’s: A local franchise, you’ll get the freshest malasadas here without the wait.

4. The drive windward on H3: Majestic scenery right out of Jurassic Park

5. Kualoa Ranch: Pricey but a fun and beautiful tourist destination.

6. North Shore: Free, yummy food trucks, epic waves. Tip: Obey all lifeguard rules and signs.

7. Polynesian Cultural Center: Traditional and cultural education about the Pacific Islands.

8. USS Arizona Memorial: Free, get your tickets early, fantastic museum.

9. Waimanalo/Lanikai beaches: Everything you imagine in a Hawaiian beach setting.

————————————–

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Giveaway, Blog Tour, & Review: The Catch (US Marshals, #3) by Lisa Harris

THE CATCH

U.S. Marshals Series #3
by
LISA HARRIS
Fiction / Christian / Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: April 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
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Everything hidden is eventually found
After a harrowing attempt on a judge’s life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge’s wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is not who they think she is.
Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the people who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.
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Lisa Harris is a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than forty books, including The Escape, The Chase, The Traitor’s Pawn, Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, as well as The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, Harris and her family have spent over 17 years living as missionaries in southern Africa and currently are living there.
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review-2-2

The Catch is the exciting and oh-so-satisfying conclusion to author Lisa Harris’s US Marshals series.

This third book of the US Marshals trilogy kept me glued to its pages as federal marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn search for a missing baby and sitter. The story reveals the truth about the murder of Madison’s husband five years earlier, the series’ major plotline. But will the resolution release the main character from her single-minded mission and allow her to find peace and a new life with Jonas?

I particularly liked Harris’s choice to feature the US Marshal Service in this series. Growing up, a friend of my parents was a marshal, and I always enjoyed his stories and company. And, other than movies like The Fugitive, this law enforcement branch seems infrequently used in the mystery genre, except for minor, minor roles. Of course, that thought sent me down a rabbit hole of research looking for main role books!

Another aspect I enjoyed was that the action traversed the Pacific Northwest. Readers are treated to the area’s broad variety of settings, including the vibrant city of Seattle, forestland, mountains, wilderness, the coast, its water and beaches. The changing venues energized an already exciting story that, once it started, never let up. There was so much unseen danger constantly looming over the characters, not only the two marshals but the missing woman and baby Easton.

The story also incorporated what looked like a simple mistake of communication between two federal agencies. This lapse led to unexpected collateral consequences that truthfully had me wondering how law enforcement can possibly coordinate all the things they do in reality. In this instance in the book, it seemed like their hands would have been tied no matter what.

But The Catch is not just a mystery. The book beautifully weaves together a puzzling mystery, heart-thumping suspense as well as a second chance romance. The emerging feelings between Madison and Jonas and their circumstances were heart-aching and, at all times, clean and honest. The series targets the Christian fiction market, and this author’s ability to deftly reveal her characters’ faith-filled lives and thoughts felt natural and genuine. The story warrants a broader audience, and readers who think they are not Christian fiction readers should definitely try this one.

I recommend THE CATCH to fans of the first two books in the trilogy and readers who enjoy exciting, suspense-filled mysteries with a clean and poignant underlying romance.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Christian fiction, Mystery, Romantic Suspence

Lone Star Book Blog Tour: Trust Me by Kelly Irvin

TRUST ME

by

KELLY IRVIN

Genre: Romantic Suspense / Christian Fiction

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Date of Publication: February 8, 2022

Number of Pages: 384 pages 

Scroll down for Giveaway!

When her best friend is murdered the same way her brother was, who can she possibly trust?

 A decade ago, Delaney Broward discovered her brother’s murdered body at the San Antonio art co-op he founded with friends. Her artist boyfriend, Hunter Nash, went to prison for the murder, despite his not-guilty plea. 

This morning, Hunter walks out of prison a free man, having served his sentence.

This afternoon, Delaney finds her best friend dead, murdered in the same fashion as her brother.

Stay out of it or you’re next, the killer warns.

Hunter never stopped loving Delaney, though he can’t blame her for not forgiving her. He knows he’ll get his life back one day at a time, one step at a time. But he’s blindsided to realize he’s a murder suspect. Again.

When Hunter shows up on her doorstep, asking her to help him find the real killer, Delaney’s head says to run away, yet her heart tells her there’s more to his story than what came out in the trial. An uneasy truce leads to their probe into a dark past that shatters Delaney’s image of her brother. She can’t stop and neither can Hunter—which lands them both in the crosshairs of a murderer growing more desperate by the day (hour?).

In this gripping romantic suspense, Kelly Irvin plumbs the complexity of broken trust in the people we love—and in God—and whether either can be mended.

PRAISE FOR TRUST ME:

“Irvin follows the characters through twists and turns, writing through the lens of faith and broken faith, while illuminating a bridge across shattered relationships to second chances. This one’s an emotional roller-coaster.” — Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency in Publishers Weekly Review

Trust Me is an apt title for Irvin’s new suspense novel. Kelly Irvin is a master at spinning a complex story web with surprising twists and relatable characters. Highly recommended!” —Colleen Coble, USA TODAY bestselling author of A Stranger’s Game and the Pelican Harbor series

“I found I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in Kelly Irvin’s latest novel, Trust Me. I promised myself just one more page and I’d stop reading for the night…just one more…just one more. At times I could barely breathe. What a fabulous story! I loved it!” –Carrie Stuart Parks, award-winning author of the Gwen Marcey series

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Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of almost 30 books and novellas, in romantic suspense and Amish romance genres. The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.

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Trust Me.
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Kicker One: Going the Distance (The Frankie Scarmazino Trilogy, #1) by Cy Young

An injured NFL kicker heads to the Ozarks to check out a teammate’s brother’s death; he discovers someone has taken justice into their own hands to fight domestic abuse.

The year is 1997, and when the NFL New York Giants kicker, Frankie “Scar” Scarmazino, is injured in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he must take time off to heal and recuperate. In his heart, Scar believes he’s lost his nerve to return to the game, but as he’s still in his early 30s knows he’s got to come up with a backup plan.

He confides to a good friend and teammate that he wants to be a private detective, and the friend tells him of the perfect place to start. The teammate’s brother had been murdered back home in his hometown, and the killer was never caught. So Frankie loads up his old Ford Pinto, Gilda, and heads to Jasper, Arkansas, to see if he can catch a murderer.

When Frankie rolls into Jasper, he inadvertently becomes embroiled in the shady goings-on of the small town. He witnesses a man, baseball bat in hand, chasing after a battered and bleeding woman, and jumps to intervene.  The sheriff, a personal friend of the abuser, turns a blind eye to the crime, and Frankie finds himself the target of the abusive husband and his gang of similarly-minded wife-beating buddies.

But Frankie is on a mission and will not be run out of town. In the process of his investigation, he discovers that his teammate’s brother isn’t the only recent and unsolved murder. Someone is taking justice into their own hands when the sheriff fails to act and is murdering the men who are abusing their wives and girlfriends.

However, the sheriff is taking an interest in the murders of his buddies and has a local attorney working to help the victimized women in his sights. One meeting with Mira Strickland has Frankie’s senses reeling and his fervent hopes that the sheriff is wrong.

Kicker One: Going the Distance is a fast-paced, easy-to-read, and exciting story featuring a likable hero, dastardly villains, and some very smart and sexy women.  Frankie Scarmazino is an interesting guy, a professional football player with some hidden characteristics. When he takes off for the Ozarks, he does so in his old 1971 Pinto and not some flashy, celebrity-worthy luxury vehicle. Beside him on the passenger seat is his most recent knitting project: a sweater he’s creating for his ex-wife as a gift.

In the story, Frankie’s nemeses include town bully Buddy Haymes, his backwoods buddies, and their close friend, Sheriff Bill Burrows. Happily, there’s not much to like about these guys, so it was easy to cheer for Frankie to beat them every step of the way literally.

The women of Jasper have their own hometown hero in attorney Mira Strickland. After having grown up in Jasper, she left town to pursue her law degree and, until recently, successfully practiced on the East Coast before returning home after having her own husband troubles. Frankie’s immediate attraction to her was fun and created tension and a significant conflict later when her actions and motives begin to look suspicious to him.

I recommend KICKER ONE: GOING THE DISTANCE to mystery readers looking for something light and easy-to-read for a fun and engaging diversion. The football theme was fresh, the setting in the Ozark region of Arkansas different, and despite the underlying crimes, fun to read.

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Filed under Action/Adventure, Book Reviews, Historical mystery, Romantic Suspence

Special Agent Maximilian (Undercover FBI, #3) by Mimi Barbour

Max

Navy Seal Lieutenant Commander Nik Baudin is in New Orleans for a little medical R&R when he comes face-to-face with the twin brother he never knew he had and the mother he’d been told had died when he was just a toddler. His new-found brother, Max, is equally surprised as his mother, believing her youngest son had been killed by her abusive ex-husband, had kept that heartache to herself for all these years.

Before the two brothers can really get to know each other, Max, who is an FBI Special Agent, goes to meet with his confidential informer and gets the goods on a sex trafficking ring when he is attacked by the gang and left for dead on a rural back-country road. Before completely losing consciousness, he is able to phone Nik who finds him and takes him to a safe hiding place to heal and recuperate. Because the timing on this case is critical, Nik takes Max’s place to try and get back the vital incriminating evidence that was stolen. But there is a big complication in the way of Nik being able to successfully pull off his masquerade: Max has a partner, and she’s a by-the-book, no-nonsense woman that is not going to be easy to fool.

This is the 3rd in Mimi Barbour’s Undercover FBI series and the second that I’ve read.  Once again, the author has developed a compelling story with mystery and romance to boot. Main characters, Nik Baudin and Special Agent Maya Barnes are both functioning adults, one carrying the burden of an unhappy and abusive childhood, the other saddled with memories of an unstable mother and early life, each suffering from the deep-seated, hidden damage. In addition to the two flawed leads, there are a variety of other interesting characters supporting the story: the twins’ mother, the surprising and entertaining Julian Freed, and a whole host of dastardly bad guys to overcome. As with the previous book in the series that I read, the city setting proves to bring another enjoyable aspect to the story. The plot is fast-paced with little downtime for the two main characters to talk themselves out of their attraction for one another. (No dithering about or on-again/off-again relationship.)

I recommend this book to readers that like romantic suspense or those that like mysteries with a sexy romantic storyline.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Romantic suspense