Book Review: Smokescreen by Khaled Talib

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SMOKESCREEN by Khaled Talib is a fast-paced political espionage thriller set on the beautiful island of Singapore that has you second guessing every characters’ motives and actions as you race to the climax and conclusion. Smokescreen is also an apt title for this debut novel.

Jethro Westrope, also known as Jet West, is a feature writer for Singapore’s leading lifestyle magazine, Society. He leads a very public and pampered life which makes him an easy scapegoat in a high stakes political assassination plot. The Israelis and Palestinians are brokering for a permanent peace in Singapore and Jet is to be used as a pawn and framed as the assassin of the Israeli Prime Minister. The plot has major worldwide political ramifications that not only effect the two major players, but also the U.S. and Singapore.

Jet is pulled into the twisted plot when he is framed for the murder of a beautiful woman who tried to warn him of what was planned. As he tries to clear his name and find out who is responsible, Jet seeks the help of Nicole Wong, a senior prosecutor on the island and also a friend of the murdered girl. Neither knows who they can believe or completely trust as they weave through a twisted web of spies, double agents, and patriots to get to the truth and clear Jet’s name.

This thriller was tightly plotted with action, several dead bodies, revelations of deceit and twists that I can’t reveal due to spoilers throughout. You have to keep close tabs on all the players and their motives. The politics are thought provoking and the author handles the information sparingly with no preaching or information dump. Jet is an interesting and sympathetic lead character. The other characters are all well fleshed out and intriguing as you try to figure out if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

This is a debut thriller that delivers and will have you coming back for more from this author!

Book Review: Prossers Bay Boxed Set (Books 1-4) by Cheryl Phipps

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I really enjoy getting to know characters and towns over a book series.  PROSSERS BAY BOXED SET (Books 1-4) by Cheryl Phipps consists of one short story and three contemporary romances set in the small town of Prossers Bay, New Zealand. The romances revolve around a group of three girlfriends with the short story being an introduction to the series’ main characters. These romances are all entertaining in their own right and are fast and easy reads.

Book 1 is the short story ‘Doc’s Town’ and is an introduction to Doc Morris, the town doctor. All the characters watch out for Doc now that he is a widower and his only son is away working on his own career. The main female characters of the three romances in books 2-4 are introduced as well as someone who wants more than friendship with Doc and that is basically all this short story involves.

Book 2 ‘Finding Liam’ is Abby and Max’s story. Abby owns her own cleaning service. Megan and Stephanie work for her and are also her best friends who have helped her through her several miscarriages and depression. As Abby and Max try to find their way back to a physical and loving relationship that has dissolved during Abby’s depression, Abby finds a child left alone in one of the beach homes she is cleaning. Liam’s story will break your heart and have you reading until the end to make sure this little boy finds his happily ever after as well as Abby and Max. (I have to say this was my favorite of the three full length romances.)

Book 3 ‘Seducing Megan’ takes us into struggling, single mom, Megan’s life with twin girls, Mia and Cody. John Lambert owns and runs the upscale resort just outside of town and he wants Megan to work for him. He makes Megan an offer that she just cannot refuse monetarily, but what he does not know is that Megan has been burned before by a rich man and no matter how attracted she may be to John, she refuses to make the same mistake again. Megan is sassy and talented, but John knows she is a mom first and he has never considered being a dad.

Book 4 ‘Saving Stephanie’ has Doc’s son, Jamie, and Stephanie’s old boyfriend returning to Prossers Bay to care for his dad after a minor heart attack. The flame is still there, but so are the problems that separated them. Both have dreams they want to fulfill and unless a compromise can be found they will both be going their separate ways once again.

The three contemporary romances are all entertaining and all are different types of stories that are not repetitive. They can easily be read as standalone books, but when read in order or in this box set, they build on each other and make you feel as if you are a part of the Prossers Bay community. This is a good box set for an enjoyable and easy summer read.

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

Book Review: Strike Zone by Beth Rhodes

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Once again, Beth Rhodes and her Hawk Elite Security series had me reading well into the wee hours to finish her latest fast-paced romantic suspense addition! STRIKE ZONE (Hawk Elite Security #3) hit all the right buttons for me; a great hero and heroine, action, adventure, a plot with surprises and a romance that was intense with not one sex scene.

Emily Rogers is one of the best sharpshooters in the agency and is on an assignment in Brussels. Because she is so busy up until her best friend’s wedding, her best friend and fiancé come to Brussels to visit and finalize wedding plans. Tragedy strikes in the form of a terrorist bombing at their hotel and Emily vows revenge.

One year later, Emily is on the verge of getting her revenge. Ahmed Hassan is in Qatar and she has received the ‘kill order’. Just as Emily takes the shot, a child jumps into Hassan’s arms and is killed rather than her target. This emotionally destroys Emily and she walks away from her job and profession.

Two years pass and John Vega has been sent by Hawkins to find and recruit Emily as a sharpshooter for Hawk Security. John knows Emily’s history because he was there in Qatar after the failed mission and he saw her devastation in her eyes from across a room before she left to go back to the states. He has never forgotten her and he is determined to get her to join the Hawk Security family and get to know her and work with her personally.

The chemistry between these two is so hot! John comes from a large Catholic family and does not believe in sleeping with someone before a serious commitment. Emily respects his beliefs, but is not ready to let down her walls and allow someone in. The back and forth dance of emotions is realistic and intense. Real romance with no sex scenes as they work out their differences. The plot has everything. Fast-paced action from the beginning that never lets up. Adventures in the U.S. and Middle East. Traitors, revenge and a plot twist that makes this more than a formula revenge story.

This is a great addition to the series and I will be looking for many more to come!

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

Book Review: Jack & Gill by Cheryl Phipps

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

JACK & GILL (Sycamore Springs #1) by Cheryl Phipps

Jack and Gill live side by side at the bottom of the hill. Best friends forever, but one has always wanted more. A contemporary story that is well written in the first person with alternating points of view between Jack and Gill. Ms. Phipps gives a you a fun, fast and easy to read HEA.

Gill has always lived in her parent’s home next door to Jack. They went to school together, although Jack was a grade ahead and since the first grade Gill has secretly loved Jack. She is a successful business owner of her own landscaping firm now, but during high school and college she never felt she fit in. At 28, she doesn’t see Jack ever loving her as more than a friend, so she starts seriously dating Adam.

Jack looks out for Gill, like a little sister. Life and relationships are easy for him as the star high school quarterback and later a career as a successful developer in Sycamore Springs. He moved back home after a short, bad marriage and now lives for his little girl, Katie. Together Jack and Gill provide Katie with a loving home environment and Jack doesn’t want that to change, but Gill has announced her engagement to Adam and Jack needs to decide what he really feels about his best friend.

I finished this story in one sitting. I felt Gill’s frustration and pain at hiding her feelings for so long. There were times I wanted to slap Jack upside his clueless head. The characters felt very real to me and the story flowed from their points of view. Just one warning, if you are a traditional romance reader and don’t want your H/h having sex with someone else in the story, this is not the book for you.

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

Book Review: To Catch A Spirit by Carrie Pulkinen

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

TO CATCH A SPIRIT by Carrie Pulkinen is a paranormal contemporary romance that pairs two unique characters in an emotionally charged romance and ghost story.

Allison Gray is a psychic who works to help heal people, cleanse antiques of trapped spiritual essence and is afraid of ghosts after a failed ghost-busting assignment. While attending a party with her best friend, Tina, Allison is immediately struck with emotions of loneliness and despair emanating from their host. She wants nothing to do with the new playboy billionaire in town. Instead, she goes to console a crying woman sitting on the stairs only to have her disappear right before her eyes.

Logan Mitchell is the playboy billionaire throwing the charity party. Logan has moved to Detroit to start out on his own and away from his controlling father. Underneath the shell, Logan is hiding being an empath who has no control over his gift, which has led to attacks of OCD symptoms and other problems. When he sees Allison, he knows she is different and he can’t stay away even with a frightening recurring dream, which is the reason he doesn’t do more than one night stands. Before he gets the chance to introduce himself, she runs out the door.

I loved Allison and Logan. Their relationship was immediate, but it was believable because of their gifts. The author wrote about OCD, fears and suicide with great empathy. The H/h were sympathetic and not just caricatures. The sex scenes were hot and steamy, but never overdone. Both of their best friends were also realistic and fully fleshed out. There were a few times that the story slowed down and was a little repetitive, but overall it was well written. The plotline is predictable, but with the handling of the H/h’s gifts, it is still very entertaining and well worth reading.

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