Book Review: Reservations by Gwen Florio

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I love the descriptive writing, plotting and characters of the Lola Wicks mystery series, but this fourth book emotionally wrecked me and yet I had to keep turning the pages and reading late into the night to the end. RESERVATIONS (Lola Wick, #4) by Gwen Florio deserves 5 BIG stars!

Lola hasn’t been the same since her last adventure. Charlie decides it is time to take a honeymoon and visit his brother, wife and niece on the Navaho reservation in Arizona. Charlie has a strained relationship with Edgar, but when they arrive there is an underlying tension in the entire family.

There is an eco-terrorist setting off bombs to try to get rid of the main employer, the coal mine on the reservation. The water and air on the mesa has become so polluted, people can no longer live there. Edgar is an executive for the mining company and his wife Naomi is an attorney for the Navaho and hates the mine, but wanted Edgar to work there so that they have inside information on the company. Naomi and Edgar are both Ivy League educated, but returned to help the People and they use this as a way to demean Charlie and Lola.

Lola begins to return to her hard-driving reporter mode as there is another bombing and death. The tension builds and as Charlie seems to side more with his brother and family than Lola, she does everything she can to figure out what is really happening on the reservation, even as the danger escalates for herself and family.

I was so wrapped up in this plot. It is intricate, fast paced and I did not figure out the whole picture on my own. The descriptions in the writing of the Arizona land, with its natural and deadly beauty take you there and make you feel every bit of the heat.

Lola is taken through extreme physical conditions in this story as well as emotional. If you are like me and have a personal stake in your favorite characters, get the tissues ready! This book is a great read on a mystery/thriller level and an emotional roller-coaster for one of my favorite characters. Excellent!

Thank you very much to Midnight Ink and Net Galley for allowing me to read a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure!

Book Review: Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

I started this suspense series, Midnight Exposure (Midnight, #1) by Melinda Leigh, because I really enjoy her Scarlet Falls series. (Check them out!)

Jayne Sullivan makes her money as a photographer and occasionally for the big money as a tabloid photographer. She is sent to Maine in December to find and photograph the reclusive sculptor R.S. Morgan. She hates being deceitful, but she needs the money to help her brothers with the family bar in Philly and medical bills for her youngest brother. She is glad to be away from Philly at the moment also, to get away from a stalker who attacked her and has gone to prison, but he is out and had promised to come for her again.

At the address her editor gave her she meets Reed Kimball. Reed had moved to Maine with his son after the death of his wife. He was a homicide detective in his old life, but now acts as a handyman around town and has a secret in his barn turned work shed out behind his home. He hides his true identity from all, but the police chief in town. Jayne does not know the connection between Reed and R.S. Morgan and before she can find out she is abducted. She escapes on her own in a blizzard. Reed finds her and takes her to his home.

Both Reed and Jayne are hiding secrets and motives, but they can’t help but continually be attracted to each other. As the sexual tension increases, so does the threat to Jayne from an unknown source which could prove to be deadly.

This was a fast paced and exciting read in the first chapter and then again after a few. I just felt it bogged down for a while after the first chapter. I also had a problem with how long it took Reed to tell Jayne about his past. He was reclusive over something that he was proved innocent of doing and after a new scandal comes along, I think the media would have left him and his son alone. He did not even stay in the same town, he moved far away.

The Celtic druid facts were interesting and so was the reason for the killings. I do not understand why the other family member was involved though. I do not understand how he could believe a madman. It was a stretch for me. That said, I still like Ms. Leigh’s writing style and will continue on with this series. Not a bad book, but just not my favorite by this author.

Book Review: Brothers In Blue : Marc by Jeanne St. James

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Another HOT book about a Bryson brother from Manning Grove!

BROTHERS IN BLUE: MARC (Brothers in Blue #2) by Jeanne St. James has the second Bryson brother having to train the new police recruit who just happens to be female. For an alpha male like Marc, who also happens to still believe there should not be any female officers, being made her FTO (field training officer) by his brother the chief seems like a sick joke.

Leah Grant is determined to be a police officer just like her deceased father. She has fought all the stereotypes and risen to the top of her training class to have no one, but Max offer her a job. Manning Grove is very small town to her old home of Philly, but she is determined to make it, even with the chauvinist beliefs of her FTO.

As Marc and Leah train and ride together, their chemistry starts to override their common sense. They try to keep their work life separate from their increasing attraction, but Marc wants her in his bed as much as Leah wants to prove she is as capable as any male officer. The taboo of trainer and trainee does not stop these two, but they do keep it out of work hours.

These two have explosive chemistry in bed and are so perfect for each other. There are explicit sex scenes that are well written and have a surprising appearance of nipple rings and other sex toys. I also loved that Leah stayed at Marc’s parents’ house when she moved to town so that we continue to be involved with the whole family from Max’s story in Book #1. This romance can be read as a standalone because of its own HEA, but the family ties and small town life carry over.

I love that Ms. St. James has made each of these books in this series unique so far. I appreciate that they are not both the same premise with new names inserted. I am looking forward to what happens with the last Bryson boy, if he ever comes home!

Written for and posted first on the Romance Reviews.com.

Feature Blog: Lola Wicks Mysteries, #1-#3 by Gwen Florio

  

RATINGS: 4 out of 5 Stars for All Books

I am featuring this series because I am currently reading Reservations, Book #4 in this series from Net Galley. This is a very solid series that has a strong female protagonist, Lola Wicks, who was a foreign correspondent and now writes for her small town paper. The plots are all interesting, entertaining and well written. The secondary characters are developed and realistic. Ms. Florio’s very special talent is in her description of the scenery in Montana and Dakota and the type of people that populate it. Below are my reviews for these three books and I will be adding the fourth soon. This is a series that is worth getting hooked on!

BOOK #1 – MONTANA

Lola Wicks has been pulled from her foreign correspondent post in Afghanistan because her paper has downsized. She is told to use her vacation time and decide if she wants to continue stateside with the paper on a suburban beat. Extremely upset, she decides to visit her best friend, Mary Ellen, who quit her job as a fellow reporter to relocate to Montana.

Lola discovers her friend shot dead on the hill by her cabin. When Lola is told to stay in town, upsetting her plans to return to Kabul, she decides the inexperienced sheriff is not moving fast enough and sets her reporter skills to the case. What she finds is that the techniques she has been using overseas do not translate to small town Montana or the Blackfeet reservation. She has to ingratiate herself to the locals, Blackfeet and sheriff for information to follow the trail to who killed Mary Alice and why. Racial discrimination between the towns people and the Blackfeet, drug smuggling and politics are all twisted into this mystery.

Lola is a developed, three dimensional character. She is tenacious, intelligent and everything a reporter should be and she also steals a trinket from everyone she deals with. She did come back from overseas with what appears to be PTSD and this makes her interactions with people more difficult and abrupt. I really like this protagonist. As she solves this case, she becomes more attached to the people and animals around her. My only problem was the ending of the case seemed to come very abruptly and Lola’s personal life also shifted quickly, But I will definitely be back for more.

BOOK #2- DAKOTA

This book starts three months after the death of her friend in Book #1 and it can be read as a standalone.

Lola is living in Magpie, Montana with Sheriff Charlie Larendeau on his small ranch. She is a reporter for the small town’s paper and living with the sheriff leaves her with two problems: 1. she is supposed to report on the Blackfeet, but Charlie is half Blackfeet and 2. it keeps her off the crime beat since he is the sheriff, but you know that won’t stop her.

Several Blackfeet girls have gone missing over the past year, but they were just written off as runaways until one of the girls is found dead in a snowbank. Lola is hearing rumors that the girls are all known drug users and were working as prostitutes in the oil boom shanty town outside of Burnt Creek. Lola sets off with her dog, Bub, to the North Dakota oil patch. Fracking, big oil money, prostitution and drugs all come together in this boom town with its influx of male population and law enforcement that looks the other way. Lola just wants to uncover the truth, but she ends up in a fight for her own life.

A gritty mystery with people who just want to take advantage of a money boom, but the consequences are harsh, if not deadly. Lola’s story just keeps getting more intriguing. Ms. Florio brings the oil patch and the people it attracts to life. She also once again realistically depicts the Blackfeet and their problems. I can’t wait to get the next Lola book!

BOOK #3 – DISGRACED

Lola is forced to take a furlough from the paper and so she leaves for a vacation with her young daughter, Maggie and dog, Bub on their way to Yellowstone.

Her friend asks her to stop and check on her cousin, Pal, who is a returned vet from Afghanistan who lives on the way in Wyoming. What Lola finds when she arrives at Pal’s are small town friends who served together, but when they returned, one was dead and disgraced, one gets a hero’s welcome, one commits suicide, two nearly beat a man to death and Pal, the only female of the group is traumatized. Lola smells a story and the vacation is postponed while she gets to know the vets. Secrets, truths and lies all need to be sorted and the truth can get Pal, Lola and her daughter all killed.

I liked this Lola book the best so far. It can be read as a standalone in regards to the main plot, but Lola’s personal life does carry over. It focuses on the returned troops and the many problems they face at home. There are violent scenes in this book. The author depicts prejudice, rape and a conspiracy of lies.

This is a series that makes you think was well as entertains and this is another great addition.

Check out this series and author!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Twisted Irish by Sara Brookes

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I am completely surprised by how much I loved this hero and heroine. I was not sure what to expect with a biker club BDSM contemporary romance, but Ms. Brookes has written a romance that delivers!

TWISTED IRISH (Sinner & Saints Book 4) by Sara Brookes opens at the Riding Irish Biker Club’s Valentine’s Day cookout on Oahu. Olivia Woo is invited by her boss from the tech company she works for, who also happens to be the president of the club. She is always chasing excitement, danger and chaos in her computer simulations and real life. Secretly she runs simulations of BDSM sex. She is not sure if it is right or wrong, but she wants to find someone to help her explore her fantasies. Looking for a place to evade all the men she is being introduced to at the cookout, she finds the club’s secret basement dungeon.

Jon Swagger has worked hard to keep his darker side in check since leaving the Marines. He has been afraid that no one will ever understand his killer past and has only had casual sexual encounters, but the rest of the club is finding love and he finds that he wants that for himself. He is a DOM and designed the dungeon and a very special chair that plays an intriguing part in this story. When he sees the blue haired vixen, he is immediately drawn to her. When he catches her in his dungeon, he wants to give Olivia the sexual experience of her life. What neither of them expects is that they are exactly what each of them needs.

This is a short book that is full of empathy, exploration and love between the H/h. It does make references to previous situations from previous books in the series, but not enough to confuse or detract from this story. The sex scenes are well written and extremely explicit, sexy and hot. This story is well worth the read for a fast romance and romantic introduction to BDSM.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Smugglers & Scones by Morgan C. Talbot

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SMUGGLERS & SCONES (Moorehaven Mysteries, #1) by Morgan C. Talbot is a wonderful new cozy mystery that introduces us to a special B&B in Seacrest on the Oregon coast and a cast of intelligent and quirky characters.

World famous mystery writer, A. Raymond Moore left his huge home, Moorehaven, on the Oregon coast in trust to his friend Hilt, the town’s former chief of police with the stipulation that it become a B&B for mystery writers only. Now that Hilt is older, he has hired his niece, Pippa Winterbourne to run the B&B. Pippa has modernized the advertising and recipes in her six years at Moorehaven and now has a large group of famous, new and want-to-be mystery authors rotating through Moorhaven’s doors.

When a small tourist fishing boat crashes in the middle of the night, Pippa rushes to help and saves the handsome Lakyn “Lake” Ivens. They both find out the next day that there was also a dead man on the boat. Lake has no memories of the accident or what happened to the dead owner of the boat. Pippa, with the help of Lake, the visiting authors and a cast of fun characters from Seacrest become tangled in a deadly plot that incorporates the town’s Prohibition history with the present.

Pippa is a strong and intelligent lead character. She loves Moorehaven, her job, the writers who stay at the B&B and all the characters that populate Seacrest. Her Uncle Hilt keeps the old mansion in working order, while also taking care of his old friend’s journals, papers and books for future writers and scholars to study. At a few places in the book, it does slow down a bit, but I feel this is because there is so much to set up and characters to introduce for the series. Overall though, the world-building was entertaining and interesting.

Characters make a cozy for me and this book is full of many that I can’t wait to revisit. Pippa is a great choice as a lead. The “Glaze and Gossip” group she is invited to join had me laughing out loud. Tyleen with her binoculars and Wallis the gloomy florist all add to the town’s cast of unique characters. This is a wonderful story and I love that there will always be mystery writers and their books involved in each story.

I am anxiously waiting for the next book in this series!