Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman – Likable relatable characters, suspense, intrigue

Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman is the third book in the Love and Honor series.  It’s the second book I’ve read by this author.  I wanted to read it because the author makes the characters come to life.

Honor’s Refuge continues the story of Phil Osbourne, who was introduced in the first book of the series Honor Bound.  In that book, Phil had lost his leg due to an injury he sustained on a mission with the special forces team.  Phil’s been home for two years and developed a friendship Melissa Braxton who runs a shelter for women who suffer from physical abuse.  Truth be told, Phil and Melissa have fallen in love.  But Phil doesn’t feel like a man who is whole, or that he can’t be the man Melissa deserves. 

Phil and some of his former teammates researched and found Melissa’s long-lost sister Lola.  They were separated when they were very young following their mother’s death.  Phil would do anything, including putting himself at risk, to reunite this family. 

I appreciate how Hallee Bridgeman develops the characters in her book.  The main characters are very likeable, as well as Phil and Melissa’s friends, family, and co-workers.  There is a depth to the characters that makes them seem real.  Honor’s Refuge is suspenseful.  Mysteries are unveiled as the characters work through their weaknesses, understand their feelings and try to strengthen their faith. 

Faith is part of the character’s lives.  I appreciated that Phil and Melissa prayed and talked about the Lord.  I would like to have seen the Gospel more accurately presented.  Melissa’s sister Lola is comforted by the community that has taken her in, she is curious about their faith.  It was explained to her that “It’s less about religion and more about community.”  Repentance of sin and belief in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin was not explained. 

Phil was one of my favorite characters.  He used his experience and training to help protect Melissa, Lola, and her children.  His personal mission was to protect them threats from very evil people entrenched in drug trafficking. 

I had some problems with the ending of the book.  Phil’s background and training was special forces, and since he was dealing with men who were downright evil.  I’m not sure it was realistic that he would respond to the bad guys by subduing them and using zip ties and sheets to restrain them.  I didn’t understand why Phil struggled with remorse over the violence he employed to protect innocent women and children from a drug lord and his minions who intended to harm them.

I liked Honor’s Refuge because of the characters.  It’s an interesting story with suspense, intrigue, bravery, good vs. evil, and developing relationships.  I did struggle some with the ending.  Even so, I recommend Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman.  I would give this book a 3.5-star rating. 

I thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon- Likable Characters, Interesting Storyline

Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon is the third book in the Triple Threat series.  If you like mysteries and intrigue, give this book a read.

Grace Riley is a forensic pathologist in rural Missouri.  Not the kind of place where you anticipate stumbling across a lot of murders.  Though the evidence seems to indicate Mavis died of natural causes, something about this case doesn’t sit right with Grace.  It’s Friday night, Grace is alone and conducting an autopsy in the mortuary when she hears a noise.  She investigates, but it isn’t until she goes outside that she finds the source of the noise and dials 911.  The new local sheriff, Nate Cox, is on duty and responds to the call.  These two working together will not be deterred until they get to the bottom of it.

I really enjoyed Body of Evidence, and from page one, I was hooked.  The main characters, Grace and Nate, were likeable and had interesting careers.  I liked learning about the job of a forensic pathologist, and very different in a rural setting as opposed to a big city.  I enjoyed their friendship and developing romance.  I also liked Grace’s relationship with her sisters. Eve and Cate.  They were caring and supportive.  The townspeople were intriguing, and I found myself examining them through the lens of a perspective suspect.

I appreciated that this a clean novel.  Faith is talked about a little bit in the novel.  I would have liked to have had that element further developed with the main characters.  I did figure out who the bad guy was and wanted to learn about their motives and why they did their dastardly deeds.  Very much liked Grace and Nate, there were upright in character, determined to find the truth and fight for justice. 

If you like suspense and intrigue, if you like books that involve law enforcement and medical mysteries, I recommend Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey – Suspense, Mystery, Relationships and Faith

As someone who enjoys suspense novels, I was excited read Dani Pettrey’s newest book, The Deadly Shallows, the third book in the Coastal Guardians series

Brooke Kessler, is attending a Flight Medic A-School graduation to support her friend Molly.  Like a story ripped out of today’s headline news, in the middle of the ceremony there’s unimaginable horror when someone begins shooting into the crowd.  Brooke, Noah Rowley, and their fellow Coast Guard team members will begin the long process of investigating who is responsible for this tragedy and bring them to justice. 

One of my favorite parts of The Deadly Shallows was the relationships between co-workers who had become trusted friends.  Many of the characters returned from the first two novels in this series.  The author captures the sense of friendships and commitment to one another.  I appreciated that faith was part of the character’s lives, most notably through prayer.  I liked that novel was clean, no profanity or immorality by the main characters.

There were a lot of twists and turns in this story, a couple of romances between characters and two mysteries going on.  I like how Noah worked through the painful memories he had as a child that continued to impact his life.  The story did drag a little bit.  There was one romantic scene that could have been dialed down some.  

Overall, I really liked The Deadly Shallows.  I like mystery and suspense.  But what I appreciated most was the relationships, with likable characters and their faith being part of the story.

If you like mystery and suspense, or stories based around the military, relationships and faith, you may want to read The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for an opportunity the read a complimentary copy of The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Fatal Code by Natalie Walters – Suspense, Mystery and Intrigue

Since I love reading mystery and suspense novels, I was excited at the opportunity to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters.  This is the second book in the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) series.  This author is new to me, and I haven’t read the first book in the series, Lights Out.

The book opens with Elinor Mitchell attending the funeral service for her beloved grandfather Arthur Conway.  He was a brilliant man, a theoretical physicist, and had worked at the Los Alamos National Lab.  More important than his career was the impact that he made on his granddaughter’s life.  He took Elinor in and raised her while her parents were involved with conservationist causes all around the world.  Elinor is also a scientist and is working on an important project at Lepley Dynamics.

Kekoa Young works for the SNAP Agency and is investigating a possible information leak at Lepley Dynamics.  Concerns have been raised that information has been shared with competitors or foreign governments.  Kekoa is a cyber security expert and was also assigned to keep an eye on his neighbor Elinor Mitchell.  That task that is outside his comfort zone.  Kekoa’s team at SNAP will also be part of the investigation.  Garcia, Lyla, Jack, and Brynn will be investigating other Lepley employees. 

I enjoyed the story more as it focused on Elinor and Kekoa and their growing relationship.  Elinor was closed off and not open to friendship.  Later on, as she opened up, I grew to like the character.  Kekoa was my favorite character.  He was kind, caring, fun, thoughtful, smart, and a diligent worker.  Both Elinor and Kekoa are struggling with their own hurts.  Will they work through those hurts or choose to remain insulated?

I enjoyed the intrigue and mystery and trying to figure out who the bad guys were and why they were involved in trying to steal sensitive information.  Faith was a part of the storyline and it was impactful to Elinor and Kekoa’s lives.  I would like to have seen the Christian faith and Gospel also included.

Toward the end of the book, one of the bad guys threatens a character by describing the torture she will endure.  That seemed over the top especially coming from a Christian book publisher.  It would have been beneficial to have a key or list of characters at the beginning of the book with a brief description.  There are a lot of characters in the book and it’s hard to keep track of them. 

I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in Fatal Code.  While some of the scientific information was over my head, I found cyber security and code-breaking interesting.  I enjoyed the developing relationship with Elinor and Kekoa and the ties that Kekoa has with his family back in Hawaii.  If you like mystery, suspense, and intrigue you may to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for an opportunity to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Malicious Intent by Lynn H Blackburn – Mystery, Suspense and Likable Characters

I like reading mysteries and suspense stories and have enjoyed Lynn H. Blackburn’s novels.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book, Malicious Intent, the second book in the Defend and Protect series.

Malicious Intent focuses on Gil Dixon and Dr. Ivy Collins, characters introduced in the first book of the series, Unknown Threat.  Gil and Ivy go way back, but they had a falling out and haven’t seen each other since then.  Secret Service Agents Gil and Zane are following up on counterfeit bills deposited by Hedera, Inc., Ivy’s business.  When they arrive at her home and knock on the door, they find something is amiss as the door opens by itself.  It had been 15 years since Gil had last seen Ivy, and now she was standing before him.  But something is terribly wrong with Ivy.  She looks beat up and is holding a gun.

Other characters from the first book, Luke, Zac, Tessa, Faith, and Sabrina, are also included in this story.  One of the things I liked about this book was the friendships and commitment these people had for one another.  The storyline and investigation were interesting as they tried to determine who was trying to harm Ivy and why.

The romance part of the story was a little rushed, especially considering how Gil and Ivy’s relationship had ended 15 years earlier.  But Gil was ready to put the past behind him.  I did like Ivy and her drive and passion to help people.  I found annoying Gil’s repeated use of a nickname he had for Ivy, who is now a grown woman, not a young girl.  There’s a little bit of faith worked into the story.  I would have liked to have seen more of that.  The characters were likable, but I wish they had been developed more fully.  I appreciate that the novel was clean, without profanity or sexual immorality. 

Overall, I liked Malicious Intent because of the mystery and suspense.  My favorite part was the friendships and commitment between all the characters.  I recommend this book, especially if you like suspense and law enforcement. 

Thank you to Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read complimentary copy Malicious Intent by Lynn H. Blackburn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard – Too Many Twists and Turns, Not Believable

Deadly Target is Elizabeth Goddard’s second book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series.  I looked forward to reading it because I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth’s novels in the past. 

Erin Larson is a criminal psychologist and crime podcaster.  Erin and her friend are kayaking on Puget Sound when out-of-nowhere, a large yacht is speeding towards them and tries to mow them down.  They narrowly escape by abandoning their kayaks.  After being rescued Erin, receives a phone call from her former boyfriend, Detective Nathan Campbell, in Montana.  She is filled with dread as he tells her that her mom tried to commit suicide and is in the hospital.  This is just the beginning of the action in chapter one.  The rest of the book is filled with twists and turns, attempts to kill either Erin or Nathan and their family members and others caught in the crossfire.  It stretched from Washington to Montana and Boston.

Deadly Target is action-packed and filled with many twists and turns.  Nearly everyone was suspect and couldn’t be trusted.  It took me a while to get into the story because the tension continued to build and build and build with multiple incidents.  I didn’t connect with the character Erin because I found her off-putting.  I liked Nathan but didn’t understand what he saw in Erin. 

As much as I wanted to like Deadly Target, I didn’t enjoy it.  The story had too many twists and turns and too many characters.  It was hard to follow, and stretched the imagination.  The plotline with its endless action just wasn’t believable, especially towards the end.  Added to those negatives, the main character wasn’t very likable.  That’s why I don’t recommend Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard.

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon – Filled with Suspense and Mystery

Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon is the second book in the Triple Threat series.  In this newest book, readers are introduced to Cate Reilly, sister to Eve Reilly featured in the first book of the series Point of Danger

Cate is a detective in St. Louis County, and she’s the right person for an undercover assignment.  Teenagers Stephanie Laurent and Alex Johnson have been missing for two months.  New evidence indicates they are not runaways but victims of foul play.  Cate agrees to go undercover at Ivy Hill Academy to try and find out what happened to the missing teens.  It’s been eight years since she’d last seen Zeke Sloan, the man she loved who walked out on her for his career as a DEA agent.  As it turns out, Zeke is also working undercover at the school as a Spanish teacher.  Cate’s undercover assignment just got a lot more complicated. 

Irene did a great job in building the suspense and mystery.  It was at times unnerving, especially for the characters whose lives were being impacted by the subterfuge around them.  I really liked the characters, especially Kayla, Edwardo Garcia, and his wife Margarita.  As the story unfolds, readers learn how characters got caught up in the evils of drug trafficking.  Because some of the characters go by anonymous names, like Razor and Wolf, you don’t know who the bad guys are.  It was interesting reading about how people justify getting involved in evil.  I liked the friendship that developed between Cate and Kayla.  I didn’t know how Edwardo would be able to get out of the impossible situation he was in.  I also liked how Cate and Zeke worked through their relationship.

I wish the character’s Christian faith had been developed in this storyline.  I think the book would have been richer with that element.  I wasn’t too keen on the feminist aspect of Cate and her sisters and the focus on the physical attraction between Cate and Zeke in a Christian fiction book.

If you like mystery and suspense, give Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon a read.  I liked this second book better than the first one in the series because of some of the characters. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason – Filled with Suspense, But Too Much Violence

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason is the fourth book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  

Cold, calculating with a hardened heart set on vengeance, Nicolai will stop at nothing to make these people pay for what was done to his family.  FBI Agent Caden Denning is working on this case and is trying to find out why three families have been killed and how they are connected.  When evidence turns up at the crime scene, a photograph of his friend Ava Jackson, as a small child with her father, Caden is concerned that Ava may be the next target.  He will stop at nothing to bring a killer to justice and protect his friend.

I’ve read the other books in the Danger Never Sleeps series and liked them.  I especially liked the friendships between the main characters who are highlighted in each of the books.  While I like some of the characters in this book, the violence was over the top.  In the first chapter, readers are introduced to the villain who goes on to murder two families, and we learn about two other families whose murders are connected to this case.  Later, Ava is attacked and is on a hit list.  The villain not only wants to murder Ava but torture her and make her suffer.  I like mystery and suspense novels, but I was surprised that this was in a book from a Christian writer and publisher.  I would expect to see this in a book from a secular publisher.

This book has lots of twists and turns, some not so believable, like what happened to Ava’s dad.  The story kind of drags a bit when the story should be advancing.  I liked the Caden Denning character, but the budding romance between Caden and Ava was a bit of a stretch. 

Hostile Intent is the novel I liked least in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  I liked that the characters and friendships from the earlier books carried over to this one.  For me, the issues were the over-the-top violence, convoluted storyline, and the romance wasn’t believable.

Would I recommend Hostile Intent?  Perhaps for someone who is a fan of Lynette Eason’s writing.  But for others, I would pass on this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Power Play by Rachel Dylan – Filled with Suspense and Intrigue, But Story Dragged

Power Play by Rachel Dylan is the third and final book in her Capital Intrigue series.  I enjoyed the first two books and was excited to read her newest novel.

Vivian Steel is an attorney with the State Department and attending a diplomatic dinner in Washington DC.  As dinner starts, chaos ensues when the Egyptian ambassador drops dead.  Jacob Cruz, with diplomatic security, instructs guests to return to their seats as they handle the situation.  A couple of hours later, Vivian heads over to see the US ambassador Penelope King only to see her collapse to the ground.  Two diplomats on the same night, one dead and the other near death.  What is going on, and who is behind this?

That’s how Power Play starts, and the suspense and intrigue continue to build throughout the novel.  This story is a more behind-the-scenes investigation with less action than the other books in the series.  Vivian is paired with Jacob Cruz as one part of the investigation team to determine what happened to the Egyptian ambassador.  Was it murder, or was it natural causes, and does it related to what happened to the US ambassador?  When Vivian is attacked on the streets of DC, it adds another layer to the investigation.  Was this random or part of a coordinated attack?

I appreciated that Vivian’s friends, Layla and Bailey, featured in earlier books make an appearance in this story.  That’s one of the elements that I appreciated, their ongoing friendships and support of one another.  I liked the relationships between the FBI investigative team with Delaney and Weston.  The character’s Christian faith was a small part of the book.  I would have like to have seen it more developed.

The story was very convoluted and had too many twists and turns, and the story started dragging.  After Vivian is attacked, especially in light of what happened to the ambassadors, one would think that security would be on high alert and take no risks.  I found Vivian’s actions not logical or believable.  The romance between Jacob and Vivian, in the middle of an intense investigation, seemed contrived.  I think the priority would be the protection of Vivian and the ongoing investigation.  Let the relationship develop afterward.

I like Rachel Dylan’s writing and look forward to reading more of her books.  The story in Power Play was good, but not the strongest of the Capital Intrigue series.  If you like Rachel’s writing and have read the first two books in this series, you may want to read Power Play.

I would like to thank Bethany House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Power Play by Rachel Dylan.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard – Lots of Intrigue, But Too Many Characters and Details Took Away from the Storyline

Since I had enjoyed Elizabeth Goddard’s earlier mysteries, I was excited to read her newest book, Present Danger the first book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series

Present Danger is filled with suspense, mystery, and intrigue from the get-go.  Private pilot Chance Carter is taking off with a package containing something illegal and headed to a small airstrip in Montana.  He should have listened to that nagging uneasy feeling.  But when his airplane is about to crash, he’s just trying to survive.  The next two chapters seem disjointed from the first chapter.  We are introduced to Sheriff’s Detective Jack Tanner and US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors.  They will be joining forces to investigate the questionable death of a local citizen, Jim Raymond, found in the forest.  Jack and Terra’s relationship goes way back, but they haven’t seen each other in years.  Their relationship didn’t end on a good note however they will strive to put their personal feelings aside and solve this case.

Parts of the book I found interesting, like learning about different aspects of law enforcement in remote forested areas and the illegal sale of Native American artifacts.  However, I thought the book had issues that took away from the storyline and characters.

Present Danger very convoluted and packed with details that did not contribute to the story.  There were too many characters, it was hard to keep track of all of them.  While Jack and Terra had a history, there didn’t seem to be much romance between them.  I kind of liked Jack, but his insecurities that he had carried with him all these years (not based on his own failings or history) got kind of old.  It seemed like an unnecessary element and focus of the story.  I can’t recall if Jack ever told Terra why years before he left town without saying goodbye.  He didn’t come clean and explain what he had overheard her grandfather say.  It bothers me when things in the storyline don’t make sense, like when a character does something illogical that puts themself in danger.  Also, there came a point when Terra should have been removed from the case but she wasn’t.  One of the biggest surprises at the end came out of nowhere and didn’t seem believable.

Elizabeth Goddard describes scenery really well so that the reader can imagine what the place looks like or the characters are experiencing.  She’s done her research and knows jobs and locations well.  But I don’t recommend this book because of the negatives in the story: too many characters; too many unnecessary details that distract instead of moving the story forward; and not making the characters compelling enough to care about them.

While this book has been published by a Christian publisher there wasn’t much concerning the Christian faith in the book. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn – Interesting plot and characters, but had a convoluted ending

When I saw that Lynn H. Blackburn had a new book out, Unknown Threat (Defend and Protect, Book 1), I wanted to read it because I had enjoyed her earlier novel Beneath the Surface

Unknown Threat’s plotline sounded intriguing.  US Secret Service Special Agents Luke Powell and Zack Thacker went out for an early morning run and when they return to their vehicles suddenly, they are under fire.  As they are lying on the ground looking at their vehicles, they realize that their cars are wired with bombs.  Will they survive until help comes?  Who in the world is trying to kill them and for what reason?  FBI Special Agent Faith Malone has been assigned to investigate these attacks and try and protect the remaining US Secret Service team in Raleigh.

This fast-paced story drew me in from the beginning.  Interesting to think about how people who risk their lives to protect others might respond when they are targeted?  I liked the character Luke Powell and the US Secret Service team, their friendships, and their commitment to one another. 

I didn’t quite connect with Faith Malone, she seemed more like a caricature of a tough single woman who sacrificed her personal life for career advancement.  The repeated Cherry Coke references kind of got old.  It was understandable why Faith might be attracted to Luke who was a decent nice guy, but I didn’t understand what he saw in her. 

Faith’s sister Hope was a very likable and refreshing character.  I would like to see her in future books of the Defend and Protect series.  It was hard to understand how the character Special Agent Janice Estes kept her job.  Was she incompetent or just plain corrupt?  She wasn’t very believable. 

While I liked many of the characters, I struggled a bit with the plotline.  It was very convoluted and I don’t see how a reader would have been able to figure out the mystery.  The story ended rather abruptly and if it hadn’t been for the last chapter summarizing whodunnit and why I don’t think I would have put the pieces together.  Not sure that the motives of the bad guys were believable.   

There wasn’t much about the Christian faith included in the storyline.  But I did appreciate that there was no profanity or sexual immorality.   

The good: likable characters and an interesting scenario.  Not so good: the convoluted plot and ending and one of the main characters wasn’t very likable. 

Would I recommend Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn?  If you like Lynn’s books give this book a read.  This is the first book in the Defend and Protect series and some of the characters will be carried over to future books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Aftermath by Terri Blackstock – Fast-paced Suspenseful Story

Terri Blackstock’s books are filled with intrigue and suspense and that’s why was excited to read her newest book Aftermath.  This book will hold your attention from the get-go.

Taylor Reed and her friends Desiree and Mara are at a political rally, the draw isn’t Presidential candidate Ed Loran, but instead their favorite band Blue Fire is playing.  What happens next is the things nightmares are made of.  An explosion, smoke, people screaming.  The only thing Taylor can think of is getting out alive.  Later that night, Dustin Webb is driving home and suddenly the police are pulling him over.  Certain that he wasn’t speeding nor was there any cause to be pulled over, he consents to the police searching his car.  What they find will land him in jail and Dustin will be the suspect in the bombing that left dozens of people dead.  His one phone call will be to his friend Attorney Jamie Powell, whom he hasn’t seen in fifteen years.  If anyone will believe him, it will be Jamie.

Aftermath seems like it could have been ripped from today’s headline news.  It’s fast-paced and filled with twists and turns.  What I liked best were the characters Dustin and Jamie, their personalities and friendship that spanned many years.  Taylor was an interesting character, I found myself asking how I would handle the trauma that she endured.  I also found her irrationality and thought processes very disturbing.  Dustin’s friend and business partner Travis and his wife Crystal are going through their own battle as Crystal is fighting for her life.  Dustin understands why Travis can’t be there to help right now, but Dustin’s fighting for his own life, and the world’s about to turn against him unless he can prove his innocence.

I liked the storyline and it grabbed my attention from the beginning.  I liked the main characters Dustin and Jamie, but I was frustrated when Dustin seemed to be making illogical decisions and didn’t believe the evidence that showed who the bad guy was.  I figured out who the bad guy was and his motivation, but had to see how the story all fit together.  In many respects, Taylor seemed like a loose cannon and the most illogical.  I liked the fast clip of the story, it fit the narrative but the end of the book seemed to drag a bit and the story came to an abrupt ending.

The Christian faith wasn’t a big part of the story, I think that the characters’ development would have been richer if their faith had been included.  I appreciated that the story did not have sexual immorality and or profanity.  Aftermath was an interesting story with likable characters, but it could have been richer.  I would like to see the main characters in other books.

If you like mystery, intrigue, and suspense I recommend that you read Terri Blackstock’s newest book AftermathThis book is being released on May 11, 2021.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Aftermath by Terri Blackstock.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book but was not obligated to give a favorable review.

Obsession by Patricia Bradley – Mixed Feelings

Obsession by Patricia Bradley is the second book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.  I’ve read a couple of books by Patricia and looked forward to this book because of the interesting setting.  

Emma Winters works as a Natchez Trace park ranger and historian.  She is overseeing a project to document and preserve the graves of the slaves who had been buried on this historical site.  As Emma is getting ready to head home, her day’s about to get a whole lot longer when someone takes a couple of shots at her.  Called in to help investigate is her former fiancé Sam Ryker who also works as a park ranger.  While things didn’t end well between them, Sam wants to find the person who is targeting Emma and get out before any feelings between them are revived.

I struggled a bit with the novel.  I wasn’t too keen on the main character, Emma, she wasn’t a very likable character.  She was the independent woman who was also the helpless stubborn female who didn’t want help.  Parts of the story seemed rather contrived to keep Emma and Sam in regular contact.  There wasn’t a lot about faith in this book.  I think the story would have been richer if that aspect of the characters’ lives had been developed.  There were three people in the book that struggled with unforgiveness, Emma, Sam, and Sam’s sister Jenny.  I would like to have seen at least one of them have a biblical perspective and understanding of forgiveness.  Sam did work his way through the unforgiveness he had been harboring.

Something I can’t stand in books is when a character does something really stupid and illogical which puts them at risk and in harm’s way, which Emma did towards the end of the book.  When that happens, I stop caring about the character because I feel manipulated and it’s not logical. 

The character Sam was likable, but I didn’t understand why he continued to be drawn to Emma.  Emma’s continued to blame Sam, and herself, for her brother’s disappearance ten years earlier.  That got old really quick!  She blamed others instead of recognizing her brother’s own personal responsibility for his life choices and the risks he took. 

I liked the character Sheriff Nate Rawling and hope to see him in future books in this series.  He seemed to respect and trust the team that he was working with and was there to work alongside them.  The Natchez Trace park setting was interesting. 

There were a few elements and characters I liked in Obsession, but they were overshadowed by a character and parts of the storyline I didn’t care for. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Obsession by Patricia Bradley.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill – Filled with Mystery, Intrigue, Suspense – You Won’t Want to Put It Down

It was the storyline, filled with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, that drew me into reading Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

On the heels of a highly publicized successful case, Detective Amara Alvarez has been transferred to the homicide division and she’s been assigned her first case.  A young teen, Zachary Coleman, has died at a local waterpark.  The cause of death is not clear and the tox screen won’t be back for weeks.  While there are no clear indications of murder, there’s some suspicious details that Amara wants to investigate.  She’s not one to wait patiently on the sidelines but will take a closer look and delve into the evidence until she has an answer, one way or the other.

The storyline was intriguing, and the evidence was peeled back one layer at a time.  The suspects, Zach’s friends Matias, Haley, and Liam were interesting and obviously trying to cover something up.  But was it related to Zach’s death or was there something illegal that the teens were caught up in?  I enjoyed reading how Amara would reexamine the facts and suspects over and over again until a crack appeared.

My favorite part of the book was the characters, Amara, her coworker Detective Jeremiah Peckham (otherwise known as Starsky).  The relationship between Amara and Starsky was special, they obviously cared about each other and respected one another.  But was there something more going on between them?  I enjoyed Amara’s large and close family especially her mom Maria and Maria’s boyfriend Wylie.  Amara’s family were the kind of people you would want to get to know.  Once you’ve met them, you’ll be welcomed back.  Though work was a big part of Amara’s life, her family was more important and she made time to be with them. 

I very much enjoyed reading Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill.  It held my attention from the first page to the last.  The plot was interesting and the characters were likable, relatable people that I cared about.  Even the “bad guys” were interesting.  They weren’t vilified to the point that you hated them, but you got to know what made them tick and what made them go down the wrong path.  I didn’t want the story to end.  I hope that these characters come back in future novels. 

You know a book is really good when you are thinking about the story or characters when you aren’t reading the book.  Though faith was not a big part of the storyline, I appreciated that this was a clean book, with no foul language or sexual immorality.  Tom Threadgill knows how to tell a good story, he’s a good writer.  Tom skillfully develops the characters and moves the plotline along as he unveils the mystery and builds suspense.  I look forward to reading more of Tom Threadgill’s books.

I highly recommend Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill.  I would like to thank Revell, a division of Baker’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of the book.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Backlash by Rachel Dylan – Likeable Characters, Interesting Storyline, Filled with Intrigue

I’ve read several books by Rachel Dylan and really enjoyed them.  That is why I was excited to read her latest book, Backlash, the second book in the Capital Intrigue series.

Layla Karam is a CIA Analyst, which fits her perfectly, but because of her skills, she has been pushed to work as a field agent.  Her assignment was part of a DEA operation in Honduras.  The team is back in the US, but they are not safe because someone is targeting the team.  Following a break-in, bombing, and murder, Layla is just trying to stay alive and figure out who is targeting her and the team?  Is it someone from the drug cartel?  Is there a mole within the CIA or DEA?  Why in the world is Layla at the center of an IG investigation?  To get through this mess, she’s going to have to seek help from the one person she’d like to steer clear of, her ex-boyfriend Hunter McCoy. 

I really like Rachel Dylan’s writing style.  From the get-go, she draws the reader into the story.  The characters are likable, and the storyline is interesting.  Several mysteries are going on in Backlash.  Who is behind the murder and attempts to kill the DEA Honduras operations team?  How did straight and narrow, law-abiding Layla end up the subject of an IG investigation?  The characters from the first novel End Game have returned in Backlash, including NCIS Agent Izzy Cole.  Layla is not the only one facing an investigation.  Her friend Izzy is a prime suspect in the murder of her former police sergeant that had sexually assaulted her.  Layla and Izzy will rely on the support and help of good friends who care.

I appreciated the friendships, people who were committed to each other.  There were some surprises in this book, like who the “bad guy” was.  I was guessing but got it wrong.  Faith was a small part of the book, mostly seen with Layla’s character.  I appreciated that this was a clean novel.  There were times towards the end that the story seemed to drag a bit, but I still liked this book.

I would recommend Backlash, especially for those who like suspense, mysteries, intrigue, or stories involving law enforcement.  I look forward to reading more of Rachel Dylan’s books and the next book in the Capital Intrigue series.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for an opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Backlash by Rachel Dylan.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Escape by Lisa Harris – Interesting Story and Likeable Characters

I love reading books filled with mystery, suspense, and intrigue and that’s why I was excited to read The Escape by Lisa Harris, an author whose work is new to me.  This is the first book in the US Marshalls series. 

Could it really be five years since Madison James’ husband Luke had been murdered?  Her life had been changed forever, but she had thrown herself into her career as a US Marshall.  Though it was an important anniversary, she had a job to do, transporting two prisoners from Seattle to Denver.  She would be joined by US Marshall Jonas Quinn, with whom she had trained a few years ago.  Jonas had just moved back to Seattle, though he was planning for a couple days off, duty called.  Any hope for a smooth prisoner transport was quickly abandoned as their private plane crash-landed in the forests over Idaho.  Just because their plane crashed didn’t mean their job was over. 

I really enjoyed reading The Escape.  From the get-go, I found this book very engaging.  The characters were likable, and the storyline was interesting.  I liked the rapport between Madison and Jonas and that they had mutual respect for one another.  There was a little bit of romantic attraction and it was expressed appropriately for a Christian book.  I liked how the characters were revealed over time as they got to know one another.  I’ve never read anything about the US Marshalls and learned a little bit about this law enforcement agency.  The author was good at describing the scenic settings. 

I very much liked this book, yet there were times that the story seemed to drag.  The number of times the escaped prisoner got away and posed a threat to the general public seemed a bit much.  I wondered in real life that if a US Marshall had been foiled by the bad guy too many times, would they be fired? 

Something else that didn’t seem realistic was the plane crash where both Madison and Jonas sustained injuries.  But those injuries didn’t seem to stop them in their quest to get the prisoner.  The story wasn’t wrapped up entirely at the end, but it appears that there will be a book two where their story will carry on. 

I love finding a new author whose work I like and look forward to reading more books by Lisa Harris.  What I liked best about her writing is how she develops relationships. 

If you like suspense, mystery, intrigue, romance, or books on law enforcement, I recommend The Escape by Lisa Harris

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Escape by Lisa Harris.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon – Mixed Emotions

Irene Hannon is one of my favorite writers and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book Point of Danger

Conservative radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to getting hate mail, but one evening she encounters something a whole lot scarier, a bomb package on her doorstep.  Eve calls 911 and while she waits for the police to arrive, she tries to make sure that her elderly neighbor Oliva gets to safety as well as her neighbor’s dog that she’s pet sitting.  Rookie detective Brent Lange will be the officer investigating the case and trying to find out who hates Eve enough to want her dead. 

This book has an interesting premise and some likable characters, but it also has some issues that take away or detract from the storyline.

What worked in this novel?  I liked detective Brent Lange and I cared about the character.  He seemed like a stand-up guy, loyal and dependable, who cared about people.  I liked Eve’s sisters Grace and Cate, they seemed to genuinely care about their sister and were there for her during this crisis.  I kind of, sort of liked Eve.  I appreciated that Eve saw qualities in Brent that were admirable and that she tried to communicate with him in an effective way to draw him out.  I rather liked the story told from different characters’ points of view, but with so many characters it got a bit much. 

What didn’t work?  There were a lot of characters in this book and too many potential suspects.  There was Eve’s boss Doug and Carolyn a competitor who wanted Eve’s job.  There was Eve’s assistant Meg Jackson and her husband Steve.  Eve’s former boyfriend was a suspect.  There’s a suspect that is not identified until later in the book and then there’s the brain behind the operation that is way out of left field.  That one kind of stretched the imagination and that aspect of the storyline could have been better developed.

While the word Christian wasn’t specifically used to describe Eve, there were references to Eve going to church and praying.  But there was not a lot in Eve’s behavior or words that would lead me to believe that she was a Christian.  Some of the early scenes between Eve and Brent focused on their physical attraction, which seems particularly odd considering that she just had a bomb scare.  I don’t think that Eve’s character was well developed, in part because the focus was on her words and actions.  The character was a local conservative talk show host, not national, and that’s why it seemed odd that this local gal would be the target of a hate group. The relationship between Meg and her husband Steve went into some details that I found not appropriate in a book by a Christian author and publisher, as was the relationship between Doug and Carolyn. 

There were some aspects of the Christian faith developed in Brent, but not so much with the other characters or storyline.  That’s something I would have like to have seen focused on with the characters.  One thing stood out towards the end of the novel, Eve’s sister Cate said, “Right or wrong, I’m not wasting any prayers for recovery on his behalf.”  Really?  This is not a Christian book, but it’s written by an author who is a Christian and published by Revell which publishes books by Christian authors.  Should books published under a Christian banner be held to a different or higher standard?  I think they should. 

I like politics so that aspect of the book was interesting to me.  But I thought adding the Antifa aspect in this story was probably not the best.  The group was cleaned up compared to what people have seen on the news for the last few months.  I found it was naive at best when they were described as using intimidation, carrying signs that said, “Down with Government Oppression”, and using smoke cartridges to emit smoke without causing harm. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Point of Danger by Irene Hannon.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason – Mixed Review – Action Packed, Intrigue, Suspense but had a Character Issue

Acceptable Risk, the second book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  Author Lynette Eason is relatively new to me, but after reading Collateral Damage, I was excited to read her latest book.

Journalist Sarah Denning is stationed in Afghanistan, where she was kidnapped along with children from the school where she had been teaching.  Desperate, Sarah attempted to send an SOS message for help.  That help comes through former Army Ranger Gavin Black who has been hired by Sarah’s father, Lieutenant General Lewis Denning.  If she had known who had sent the help, she might have tried something different.  When Sarah is back stateside and recovering, Gavin remains by her side to protect her from unknown threats that keep on coming.

Acceptable Risk is a fast-paced book, packed with action from the get-go.  My favorite character was Gavin Black, a kind, decent, caring, brave man who will do whatever it takes to protect Sarah.  I liked Sarah’s brother Caden, who was introduced to readers in the first book.

What I struggled with the character of Sarah Denning.  That character had a lot of anger and bitterness toward her father, which got old real quick.  It seemed like every decision she made was to spite and hurt her father for perceived wrongs.  So much so that she was willing to dismiss anyone who believed differently.  Ninety percent of the book Sarah was bullheaded, arrogant, a know it all and ready to put herself and anyone else at risk for what she deemed an acceptable risk.  There was nothing about this character that reflected her being a Christian.  This character’s personality flaws outweighed her good qualities like being diligent and persevering to uncover the truth.  One other thing I didn’t care for was that Sarah was always feeling like the victim.  But she never seemed to connect that some of what happened to her was because of choices she had made that put herself (and others) in danger.

Factoring out my dislike of Sarah, I did like this book because of the other characters and thought the storyline was interesting.  The ending was a bit over the top and not very realistic or logical.

If you are a Lynette Eason fan or like action-packed suspense with a little romance, you may want to read Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman – Suspense and Intrigue that Grabs Your Attention

Minutes to Die was the first book I’ve read by author Susan Sleeman.  It’s the second book in the Homeland Heroes series.  The storyline is what drew me in.

FBI Agent Kiley Dawson was meeting with a confidential informant on a foggy night in Washington, D.C.  Her trusted source had information about a terrorist attack planned for the anniversary of 9/11.  As Kiley was arranging for witness protection a gunshot pierced the night and Firuzeh was dead.  Now what?  Soon Kiley and her team were headed to Tacoma, Washington, and looking into a different case.  A container was found at a shipyard that had been used to transport terrorists into the Country.  Kylie is reunited with ICE Agent Even Bowers as they join forces to stop a terrorist attack.  But the only thing they know for sure is the date of the attack, September 11th, and the clock is ticking.

Minutes to Die got my attention from the get-go and didn’t let up until the end.  It’s fast-paced as the characters worked to try and put together the pieces of the puzzle.  What kind of terror attack is planned?  Where will it occur?  Who are the bad guys planning to bring terror and destruction to untold millions and where are they now?  Is this case somehow tied to the murder of Firuzeh?

I liked the main characters, Kiley and Evan, and also the team members.  Each one has their area of expertise and they worked well together to try and stop the terrorist attack.  The team has been together for a while and they know, respect, and trust each other and have each other’s back.  They are an asset to Kiley as she takes the lead for the first time in an investigation.  The odd man out is Evan.  Kiley and Evan have a history and she’s not sure she can get past it.

The details of the investigation were fascinating and it was interesting to learn about different technologies available to help process evidence.

I struggled a bit with Kiley as she seemed to hang on to resentment toward Evan and her mother.  Towards the end of the book she does work through the issues she’s been holding on to.

I would have liked to have seen the Christian faith developed greater with Kiley and Evan, something more than just brief arrow prayers in times of danger.  There seemed to be an overemphasis on their physical attraction.  It seemed a bit much especially in light of the impending terrorist attack.

Despite the things I struggled with, I did like Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman.  It was very suspenseful, interesting, and it held my attention to the end.  I came away from this wanting to read more of the author’s books.

If you like suspense and intrigue give Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman a try.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard – Beautiful Setting, Filled with Intrigue and Suspense

Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard is the third book in her Uncommon Justice series.  I had read the second book, Always Look Twice, and was excited to read her new book.

When Rae Burke’s brother Alan asks her to search for his missing wife Zoey she agrees and uses her tenacious and keen investigative skills to try and find her sister-in-law and friend.  As she heads up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming she hopes to enlist help from former DEA agent Liam McKade, but since they part ways last time she’s not confident that he will be willing to join forces and help find Zoey.

Don’t Keep Silent grabbed my attention from the get-go.  It was filled with lots of suspense and twists and turns.  There were some likable characters, but my favorite was Liam.  He seemed like a faithful friend, brave and willing to put himself on the line to protect Rae, try and find Zoey and expose the bad guys and bring them to justice.

Author, Elizabeth Goddard did a good job of describing the scenic area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming during the wintertime.  Made me want to go there on vacation.  The reader is left guessing as to whether some of the characters are good guys or bad guys, and there were some surprises.  The faith aspect of the novel was minimal and confined to mostly one-sentence prayers for protection or help.  I wish the characters’ faith had been more developed, especially with Liam.  I think the book would have been richer if the author had done that.

What I struggled with is the main character, Rae.  Something that really bugs me is when characters do things that don’t make a lot of sense or aren’t logical.  Rae seemed to do that repeatedly, she was emotionally driven and had a high estimation of her own abilities.  Why Liam stuck by her I don’t know.  Rae seemed to have no issue with putting her life on the line, not only hers but Liam’s too.  Not just once but on multiple occasions.  That got old and I found Rae less likable.

I won’t give away the ending, but the ending and reason why Zoey was kidnapped kind of stretched the imagination.  Towards the end, the story kind of dragged and was very convoluted.

There were things I liked about the book, the character Liam, the setting, and the suspense and intrigue, but there were some things I wasn’t too keen on.  I would recommend Don’t Keep Silent if you are a fan of Elizabeth Goddard or you like suspense, mystery, and intrigue.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the book but was under no obligation to give a favorable review.