Tag Archives: suspense

Review: A NUN WALKS INTO A BAR

An orphan raised in a convent falls for a sexy bar owner and is drawn into a web of romance and danger.

A Nun Walks Into A Bar

A Nun Walks Into A Bar

I’m a fan of Tracey Jane Jackson’s Cauld Ane paranormal romance series and was excited by the premise of this book. A NUN WALKS INTO A BAR is funny and yet touches on some difficult subjects. It isn’t the ideal time for either Sadie or Ryder to focus on a romantic relationship. After an incredibly sheltered childhood, Sadie is trying to navigate the world outside her aunt’s insulated religious community. Ryder, the offspring of a biker of the mean-and-nasty variety, is desperate to locate his missing kid sister, who has been swept up into a human trafficking ring thousands of miles from their Portland, Oregon home.

Despite their opposing backgrounds and somewhat conflicting values, Sadie and Ryder share an undeniable and largely believable attraction. They manage to challenge each other and to protect one another from the forces of chaos swirling around them. There’s plenty of character growth on both sides and yet a consistency at the core of each.

The supporting cast is just as strong–par for the course in Jackson’s work. Plenty of tantalizing backstory. Troubled pasts. Secrets. This all bodes well for future “Nun Fiction” novels.

Jackson always does a good job with her villains. This time around the bad guy is SO bad, it boggles the mind. At the same time, he’s not overdone. As horrible as he is, it’s a believable horrible, which makes it especially creepy. You hope people this dark don’t exist, even though you know they do. There’s a scene in Sadie’s apartment that absolutely chilled my blood.

All in all, I loved spending time with Sadie, Ryder and their “gang.” I’m hoping it won’t be too long before there’s a sequel.

Meet Author Georgia Rose

Georgia Rose 2

Author Georgia Rose

My genre is: romantic suspense – I write mysterious and romantic adventure stories with plenty of action and strong characters.

I started writing because: I had a story that had finally come to me in a complete form and this time I was determined to get it down before it disappeared from my head, as my ability to be able to hold onto such thoughts in the past has been pretty ephemeral.

The best thing about being a writer is: when I get the chance to spend some time in the fictional world I am creating and write a bit more of the story I am trying to tell.

My current favorite read:
I have been fortunate since starting to write to have found some terrific writers in the online world I often inhabit, and I’ve enjoyed many wonderful books, but there is one that leaps to mind that I have not been able to forget since reading it. Once Upon A Time In The City of Criminals by Mark Barry. I recommend it everywhere I go.

GET GEORGIA ROSE’S Before the Dawn WHILE IT’S ON SALE!

Before the Dawn

‘…he moved closer and slowly ran the point of his blade along my jaw line as he spoke softly, intimately, to me.

“So, you are Trent’s woman. Now that is very…appealing.” I glared back at him silently.’

There are testing times ahead for Grayson and Trent as trouble threatens Melton Manor. When an attack is made against those on the estate, Grayson gets caught in the middle finding herself and those around her in terrible danger. Terrified when she thinks tragedy has struck again she fights to protect those she now views as family and, suffering bloodshed and pain, confronts  her fears – both those brought by the enemy and by the one she loves.

Buy links – where it is currently on offer at 99c/99p!

Universal link for Before the Dawn at Amazon:- getbook.at/BeforeTheDawn

Review: THICKER THAN WATER

A young woman’s hard-won future with her new husband is threatened by an enemy from her past.
Thicker than Water (Book 3 of The Grayson Trilogy)
Thicker than Water

All of the characters we’ve come to love from The Grayson Trilogy are back as author Georgia Rose sets them off on new paths and also resolves longstanding mysteries. Rose gives us a meaty plot set firmly in Emma’s point of view, which allows us to experience events as if we’re there living through them. Departing from past installments, though, THICKER THAN WATER features a secondary POV, one which pops up at the most unexpected times and offers a tantalizing hint of rough waters ahead for our friends at the manor. I love how ambiguous this personality is at first. There’s a darkness surrounding him, sure, but his intentions are not quite clear. When he does step into the light, not only does the game between Emma and her enemies turn on its head, but a slew of questions dangling from the previous novels are suddenly answered. Yet even these filled-in blanks don’t lead to closure for Emma. Instead they free a deluge of pent-up emotions that are almost as big an obstacle to her happiness as the gang of Russian criminals out to kill her.

The other side of the close focus on Emma’s POV is that we can get caught up in her day-to-day activities to the point that the pacing of the narrative slows. I think it took a little too long for the suspense/danger element of this episode to come into play, but in return we do get plenty of deep character development. Plot vs. character is always a difficult battle. Throughout The Grayson Trilogy Georgia Rose shows a knack for this balancing act.

THICKER THAN WATER delivers the romance, suspense and, especially, the final satisfaction readers of this series pine for.

Review: ROAD TO PASSION

* I received a copy of this book for review

An aspiring writer with little experience of the world finds herself involved with a lawyer who also happens to be part of a somewhat shadowy motorcycle club.

Road to Passion (Dogs of Fire #4)

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Darien is adorable. She’s funny and annoying. Her talkativeness can grate a little, but she’d be the first to tell you that she knows this and can’t help it. Mack isn’t my favorite Dog of Fire…That’s still Ace from book 3…but he’s appealing. His dialog and insights about women, and Darien specifically, can be a little too on the nose. I never quite forgot that this is a man being written by a woman.

I prefer a longer build up in my romances. A little more push and pull at the start. But there’s plenty of chemistry between Mack and Darien. And let’s not forget Barney. This a-dog-able canine get lots of screen time, including some really dramatic scenes. We also get to catch up with some of our favorite characters from both the Dogs of Fire and the Guardian series, including tantalizing hints about who the next DoF book might center on. I’m betting on Kim and Knight.

At first ROAD TO PASSION seemed to have little conflict to hang the plot on. Mack’s a player. Darien’s an innocent. A divide but not a huge one. Especially considering the problems faced by some of the other couples in this series. But Davenport pulls a big one over on us. The danger sneaks up so slowly, it catches you when you least expect it. The climax is a heart stopper. I didn’t think Davenport could top what she gave us in ROAD TO ABSOLUTION, but this is even bigger.

Overall this is a solid entry into the series, a romantic book with lots of surprise twists.

Review: WITCH BAY

A troubled young woman returns to the seaside village of her childhood determined to discover the truth behind her aunt’s shocking death.

Witch Bay

Amazon US
Amazon UK

WITCH BAY captured my imagination on so many levels. The setting is beautifully rendered–a small village on the rocky coast of Wales. The atmosphere is heavy with dread from page one. It brought to mind the work of Daphne du Maurier. Especially her wonderful JAMAICA INN.
The characters are varied and quirky. You don’t know who to trust. I didn’t even fully trust Bethan. She’s an odd sort of heroine. Vulnerable but prickly. Earnest but perhaps not completely reliable. A woman of good intentions but questionable judgement. Gwyn, the local police officer, is just as layered. At first glance he seems the quintessential small village Bobby, but his easy-going demeanor masks a keen mind and powerful instincts. The sparks between Gwyn and Bethan take a little time to ignite, mostly because neither one seems to know what to make of the other.

The sense of time in the first few chapters is a little disorienting. At points Bethan’s childhood reflections get mixed up with her feelings about the present. It took me a little while to figure out how long her aunt’s been dead and when the last time Bethan saw her. Also, the book takes place in the mid 1980s, though you don’t learn this until chapter four. At first the author’s decision to set the book when she did seemed odd, but it makes sense once we discover details of the crime at the center of the mystery. I can’t go into specifics without spoiling the story, except to say that the plot likely would not have worked after the formation of the EU.

The mystery itself isn’t particularly complex. There are plenty of clues as to who is behind it, though one of the baddies did come as a major surprise. The fun is trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together. The item discovered under the floorboards, the local construction project that seems to have gone on forever, the seemingly random individuals who’ve gone missing over the past few years. The plotting is excellent, especially at the climax. I had no idea how Bethan was going to get out of the fix the villains had put her in.

I do wish that Crompton had been a bit more generous with her denouement. Another three to five pages would have been enough. Allow us the pleasure of seeing what became of some of the other characters involved that exciting final battle.

Overall, I had a good time with WITCH BAY. Crompton does a wonderful job mixing romance, suspense, and a good dose of humor. It’s a fascinating little world she’s created, and I enjoyed spending time there. I can definitely see myself giving this book a second read.

Review: JUMP THE LINE by Mary McFarland

A young criminal justice student working her way through school as an exotic dancer finds romance and danger when she becomes embroiled in the search for a serial killer.

Jump The Line (Toein' The Line Book 1)

Buy Jump the Line on Amazon

Alaina Colby has worked hard to distance herself from her family and their criminal activity. It’s been a struggle to put herself through college, especially when she’s also responsible for her younger brother whose drug addiction has already landed him in a heap of legal trouble. Now she’s nearing graduation and an end to her days wasting her dancing talent swinging topless around a stripper pole.

Only the universe has decided that it’s not playing nice.

Fellow strippers keep turning up dead behind the club where Alaina works. Not just dead. Chewed to pieces. Law enforcement is sniffing around. What’s worse, Alaina’s brother, who once dated the latest victim, has gone AWOL. Clearly, she needs to find out what she can about the killings…if only to protect what’s left of her family.

Jump the Line grabbed me from page one. Alaina is an intriguing character. She’s had a rotten life and has thrown up some thick walls. Yet her soft heart and…well…innocence shine through her gritty exterior. Her big dream is to make “Jump the Line” audition video for the Rockettes, though she knows a physical handicap has put professional dancing out of her reach. It’s such a childlike ambition, like the short girl entering the modeling competition or the kid with two left feet trying out for cheerleading. It makes her lovable and vulnerable. The sort of person who ignores her own well-honed instincts when the odd behavior of a friend sets off warning bells.

Detective Aidan Hawks certainly appreciates Alaina’s finer points. Another engaging character, Aidan talks like the worst sort of man-whore, yet he generally behaves like the gentleman his mom and two fathers (long story) would wish him to be. Aidan is determined to catch the killer. At first it’s a professional thing. Then he becomes convinced it’s a race to save Alaina. He has plenty of obstacles. This murderer is clever and closer to the action than anyone realizes. Aidan also has trouble within his own ranks. His chief can’t stand him. And his attractive new partner is after his collar–and his body.

There’s considerable violence in this book. The killer’s victims go through hell. So do Aidan and Alaina. By the climactic final showdown, both of them are at their physical and emotional breaking points. But there’s also forgiveness and the chance to heal old wounds. Light to balance dark. Sanity to balance madness.

McFarland uses an alternating first-person point of view that could have resulted in a disjointed narrative. However, though the POV shifts, it is always tightly controlled. We get a peek at how Alaina, Aidan, and the killer’s minds work without becoming muddled or learning so much about what’s going on that the story is spoiled. In fact, “delayed discovery” is used to keep the characters on the go and us readers frantically turning the pages. We may know more than any single character, but it’s exquisite torture as we wait for one of the gang to discover an important point or for a meeting/confrontation that we know is coming.

Jump the Line is chilling and fun and left me checking and rechecking that my door was locked.

Review: TAKING THE FALL (vols. 1-3)

A woman on the run from her criminal father is tracked down by her former bodyguard, the man who stole and then broke her heart.

Taking the Fall: Vol 1 (Taking the Fall)

Taking the Fall: Vol 1

Vol. 1 of this serial starts with a bang. The heroine, who’s still a teen, visits prison to see the man she loves…who is four years into an eight-year sentence for a crime we don’t yet know the details of. Carter tells her to go away and never come back. She’s devastated and vows that she’s finished with him, her family, and the life she’s been living.

Fast-forward four years. Layla has a new life with only one friend, a sex-pot named Jeanette who is in many ways as secretive as Layla. She’s just started casually dating a nice but bland guy and is yearning for excitement. She gets this in spades when she discovers that Carter has found her and has had a friend watching her for some time.

This first installment is mostly about Carter and Layla finding each other again and working out some of the misunderstandings left over from when he killed someone to save her life. The plot isn’t perfectly logical. The time line is complicated and you have to wonder why Layla waited as long as she did to run away from her family–especially after her father arranged for her to nearly be beaten to death.

Nevertheless, Carter and Layla are both interesting characters. He’s a little too alpha for me. Protective and vengeful is okay, but he’s too controlling. Layla is put off by it at first. But in the end she accepts that he’s worried for her safety since there’s a good chance her father is close to finding her. Turns out Carter’s fear is justified.

Jeanette and Saint (Carter’s friend) add a humorous touch to story.

I dislike serials as rule. But this one is well-written and offers a nice mix of romance and suspense. There’s a cliffhanger, but it isn’t gratuitous or melodramatic. The author sets it up well, so that it seems like a natural place to break off.

Taking the Fall: Vol 2 (Taking the Fall)

Taking the Fall: Vol 2

Carter struggles to protect Layla as her psycho father closes in.

Carter has lots of damage control to do to salvage his relationship with Layla. At the same time it’s a game of cat and mouse as Carter, with the help of his friend Saint, tries to settle his score with Layla’s father and at the same time keep her safe. The stakes are higher now for the couple (can’t elaborate without spoiling). But their enemy has plans of his own and he needs Layla to realize them.

We meet Layla’s nightmare parents. I think Riley goes a little over the top here. What is it in romantic suspense these days that parents can’t just be bad, but instead must be truly twisted? It’s getting a little old for those of us who real lots of books in this genre. She should’ve dialed this down a bit. Maybe at least made the mother less vicious.

Despite the melodramatic characterizations, the writing is good and there’s plenty of suspense. The climax is a whopper. I had no idea how Layla and Jeanette were going to get out of it. But they do (or it seems that way at the point the story pauses) and through their own efforts, too. I liked that. It’s nice to see female characters who can at least try to save themselves.

I’m still eager to continue with the story.

Taking the Fall: Vol 3 (Taking the Fall)

Taking the Fall: Vol 3

Carter seeks to once and for all end the threat posed by Layla’s father, who destroyed his family and stole eight years of his life.

Things start off in a bad way. Layla and Jeanette are fighting for their lives. Things could go either way for them, and it isn’t clear that Carter and Saint will arrive in time.

Even when the immediate danger is past, Carter can’t let down his guard. He’s right to be worried. Betrayal strikes in an unexpected form…though I have to say that I had my doubts about this particular character from the start. Nothing definite, no huge hints, but just an inkling that there was more going on under this person’s interest in Layla’s well-being.

The main characters are still great. Carter is as intense as ever, but Layla is learning how to live with his overbearing nature. She has her ways of getting around his general inflexibility. I like Saint and Jeanette more and more with each volume and am glad to hear that there will be a fourth installment that focuses on them.

I do think the pacing is off as this volume heads toward its conclusion. The traitor is unveiled and overcome too easily. The tension picks up again during the final showdown with Layla’s father. But then there’s a completely overblown epilogue that travels decades into the future. Not only is it fairly banal after what we’ve endured with these characters, it kind of spoils the anticipation for the Saint/Jeanette story.

Overall, though, it’s a satisfying end to the serial. And readers can’t complain that anything was left unresolved or that they wish they new what happened in the future. All threads are tied.

Review: MARRIED TO THE BAD BOY

A guy deeply involved with a Montreal organized crime family has trouble on his hands when he meets a young woman on the run from a member of a related outfit in New York.

Married to the Bad Boy (Cravotta Crime Family, #1)

Married to the Bad Boy

I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. As the story opens, it’s hard to find someone to root for. Tony is superficial and violent. Women aren’t even real people to him. I don’t even think they rate as playthings. Sex is an itch Tony scratches as he lives his miserable life employed by the same criminals his father died working for.

Elena is more sympathetic. Her father was a crime boss until he turned coat and squealed to the Feds. This got him killed and stripped Princess Elena of all status within the organization and all rights to its protection. No one will help her escape her violent (and likely psychotic) fiance. Desperate, She digs up a hefty pile of her dead father’s hidden loot and runs. Now here’s where she really made me angry: instead of vanishing to Montana or New Mexico or Alaska where she might buy herself a new identity and build a decent life, she runs to Montreal to find someone who will kill her ex. Elena’s stupidity and poor decision-making skills dog her…and Tony…through the whole book.

So why give this book five stars? Vanessa Waltz knows how to build suspense. In Tony, she gives us a bad boy who will NOT give up. He’s in a no-win situation. Elena wriggled her way under his skin, he’s not giving her up. But her ex is a “made” man–there’s no way to touch him and live. Tony and Elena can trust no one–not even each other for most of the book. There’s too much at stake. Compassion and friendship can get you killed.

There’s a lot of sex and violence in this novel. Tony does some awful things and is himself nearly tortured to death. What finally helps him and Elena is what initially caused so much trouble–her ex is nuts. Even the people in his own outfit want to be rid of him. They, like everyone, are restrained by the “rules” that protect all “made” members. So, while they don’t actively stop the guy, they are less than scrupulous about stopping Tony. He still has a hard road, and the action twists and turns as it races to an explosive climax.

MARRIED TO THE BAD BOY is a dark, scary book with characters that grab on and don’t let go. It definitely merits five stars.

Review: WILLING CAPTIVE

A young heiress’s kidnapping by masked intruders isn’t what it seems.

Willing Captive

Willing Captive

When Delilah “Lily” Flynn is seized in her bedroom, dragged from her home, and bundled into a van, she’s pretty sure someone is out to collect a big ransom from her wealthy father. Turns out this isn’t the case. Lily’s father hired Nox Taylor’s company to take Lily and her twin and protect them from an unknown person who has been threatening to kill them.

Lily, kept isolated with Nox and his team for several months, takes a long time to come to grips with her confinement. It doesn’t help that she’s not allowed to speak to her parents or to her sister, who is being held at a separate location. Even when she comes to accept the situation, Lily’s worry over her family makes her take some risks that undermine the trust she’s slowly built with her protectors.

Things get especially complicated when she develops feelings for Nox and, seasoned professional or not, he returns them. Problem is he knows in the end he’ll have to leave her behind. It’s the nature of his business. No family. No ties. Not even a real identity.

Lily is a great heroine, a perfect mix of sass and vulnerability. She’s a fighter. Problem is that she doesn’t realize how much danger she’s in. That coupled with her anxiety for her family leads to conflict after conflict between her and Nox.

If you are looking for the perfect Alpha hero, Nox Taylor is it. He’s determined to do the job he’s being paid to do. If he has to become Lily’s worst nightmare in order to keep her under control–and alive–he will. His own growing feelings for her are locked away. And when they can no longer stay hidden, he gives in with full acceptance that the consequences will be painful.

There’s a lot of action in this book. Lily is determined not to be a victim. She trains hard alongside Nox’s team. Even so, no one is prepared when the real villain is unmasked or for his final, devastating move, which changes Nox and Lily’s lives forever.

I did find the epilogue a little tame and ordinary compared to the rest of the book. I would have been happy had the author left things with the main ending. That was closure enough for me.

Still, I loved WILLING CAPTIVE. If I could give it more than five stars, I would. It’s in my Keeper category–a book I’ll re-read for sure.

Review: Meet Me in the Dark by J.A. Huss

An assassin haunted by a job that went wrong seeks resolution eight years later.

Meet Me in the Dark

Meet Me in the Dark

This book is very different from what I normally like to read. I don’t usually enjoy dark suspense. But Merc and Sydney’s story captured my imagination and took me on a ride that I won’t soon forget.

The plot is intricate, but I’ll outline the basics: Merc was hired to breach a militia stronghold and rescue his boss’s sixteen-year-old daughter. For rather complicated reasons, he ends up saving someone else and leaving Sydney behind with the maniac who’s holding her. This decision comes back to haunt Merc when he wants to get out of the killing business. The maniac is a lingering threat and Merc is determined to find him. Sydney is Merc’s only lead, but the information is locked away in her rather damaged mind. Merc kidnaps her and will do anything…ANYTHING…to get her to remember. Only things aren’t as clear cut as he expects, and the line between predator and prey blur big time.

I’d read several reviews of MEET ME IN THE DARK before clicking the “buy” button. Words like insanity, rape, violence, hatred, vengeance came up again and again. All of those descriptors are appropriate for various aspects of the book. And, yet, it’s still an incredibly romantic story. For all of Merc’s “I’ll kill her…She’s dead…” declarations, I never once believed him. His actions, even at his worst, are the opposite of someone who’s planning murder. The physical violence (and there’s plenty of it) is mostly reactionary–Sydney gives as good as she gets. Emotional violence is another story. Merc excels at playing head games. But Sydney’s been the victim of such games for years, so even when Merc thinks he’s breaking her, he’s not.

Both Merc and Sydney are a great blend of hard and soft qualities. Even as their feelings for one another develop, they cannot afford to let it soften them. There’s too much at stake for either to drop their guard. At the same time, by the end of the book both of them are utterly transformed.

Merc starts out insisting that he doesn’t regret the choice he made, even though the consequences for Sydney were tragic. He insists and insists and insists. Most of book is about his realization that he does indeed regret it, especially when he learns that the person he did save that night likely didn’t need saving. Sydney’s the one who needed him. And he failed her.

Sydney starts the book as a walking dead woman. On the surface she’s a running a business, preparing for her wedding. None of it is real. Nothing she knows or remembers can be trusted. It’s Merc who drags her true self out of the dark little corner it’s retreated to.

Sydney’s sense of self comes into play when readers tackle the question of whether Merc is guilty of raping her or not. This is a big controversy among readers. From my reading, he specifically asks her what is okay and what isn’t. The problem arises when she declines to either accept or refuse, but tells him to “get on with it.” Is this tacit consent? Maybe. Maybe not. The important point here is that Sydney’s sense of self has dissolved to such a degree that she is completely dissociated from her body. Her inner world and her physical one don’t touch. Her journey is all about healing that schism. By the end of the book it matters who touches her where.

MEET ME IN THE DARK is hard going emotionally, but completely worth the tears and anxiety. The story stays with you long after you’ve finished it.