Book Review: Serenity Avenged by Craig A. Hart

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SERENITY AVENGED (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 3) by Craig A. Hart places Shelby’s pregnant daughter in danger due to his ex-wife’s debt to a sadistic crime boss named Darkmore. Ex-boxer and retired fixer Shelby Alexander has once again found himself to be anything but retired and at peace.

When Leslie, Shelby’s daughter, goes into early labor he heads out of Serenity and drives down state. When he arrives, Leslie is stable, but his ex-wife has led serious trouble to her door. Due to a hidden gambling problem, Helen borrows money from a loan-shark. When she can’t pay, the threats begin and Darkmore sends his nephew after her and uses Shelby’s abducted daughter as collateral.

Shelby teams up again with his best-friend, Mack, a retired detective to save Leslie using Helen and Jimmy, Darkmore’s nephew as bait. With lots of fire power and Jimmy’s inside help Shelby is determined to save Leslie and her unborn child.

I love reading these fast paced thriller stories featuring Shelby, who is not your usual hero. His character is so interesting and well defined. The plot is action packed and suspenseful with a truly terrifying and evil antagonist featured in this book. The dialogue is entertainingly sarcastic at times which smooths some of Shelby’s rough edges. This book can be read as a standalone, but the characters grow and interact more in each book, so I recommend reading them in order.

I will be anxiously waiting to read more of Shelby’s adventures in the future.

Book Review: Her Last Goodbye by Melinda Leigh

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

HER LAST GOODBYE (Morgan Dane #2) by Melinda Leigh has me very excited for this series! I loved this book even more than the first in this new series and I gave Book #1 a five star review. I love when I think I have figured out the ending and the author still has another twist in store for me that surprises me once again.

Morgan Dane and Lance Kruger are on the case of a young mother of two who has disappeared. Morgan feels Chelsea Clark would never have left her small children even though the sheriff believes she just walked away or the husband is responsible and the prime suspect. For Lance, this case brings up all of his memories of the disappearance of his own father many years ago.

As Morgan works the case, she becomes the focus of the violent predator and her children and grandfather are put at risk. Morgan and Lance will do anything, even bend the law, to protect those they love and catch the predator.

This is a fast paced and easy to read book that kept me turning the pages. The plot twists and turns so that even when I believed I had the case solved there was still more to come. Morgan and Lance are so realistically written that I feel I could walk right into their office. The secondary characters; grandpa, Morgan’s girls and extended family, Sharp and Lance’s mother are all great additions that add the true to life feel and dialogue to these books. I was also very happy that Morgan and Lance finally got their “Let’s Get It On” scene. Oh, yeah!

Another series to add to my must read list!

Thanks very much to Montlake Romance and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Deadly Secrets by Gordon Bickerstaff

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

If you are going to start a new thriller series or you want to try a new author of thrillers, you have got to read DEADLY SECRETS (Gavin Shawlens Thriller #1) by Gordon Bickerstaff. This thriller has an eerily plausible story line, intricate plot, twists and surprises that gave me chills just thinking about how this could really happen.

Gavin Shawlens is a brilliant scientist who studies protease enzymes. He is also part of a secret British organization, The Lambeth Group that monitors universities and research scientists’ discoveries that could possibly do more harm than good.

Gavin has been offered an opportunity to test a new additive that could revolutionize the entire food industry. At first he does not believe the hype, but when he discovers the wife of one of the company owner’s is an old flame that he never got over, he agrees to their proposal. With incredible global financial implications, the stakes are high and Gavin becomes entangled in a power struggle between a global corporation, the Russians and corrupt officials at all levels of government.

I have so many feelings to share about this book. The main character of this series, Gavin Shawlens is very human. He is no James Bond. He runs away from danger to save himself to the detriment of anyone with him, usually but not always. He is brilliant, but socially awkward. I cheered for him, I yelled at him and I was embarrassed for him. The other characters are just as well written. Some are so evil, to be almost unbelievable, until you consider what money and power are doing in the real world today.

The science based plot seems quite believable. The description of the deaths by enzyme were equal parts disgusting and chilling (and might be too graphic for some). When you think you are at the end, this author twists you around and the peril continues. I love when that happens.

This is a great start to a new thriller series with a unique author’s voice and hero!

Book Review: Cold Blood by Robert Brynzda

RATING 5 out of 5 Stars:

COLD BLOOD (Detective Erika Foster, #5) by Robert Brynzda had me turning the pages as fast as I could read them. This installment not only gave me my usual intense detective story, but more character development involving Erika, her personal life decisions and the contrasting study of the downward spiral of personal life decisions of an average young woman. This book alternates between the present investigation and the past evolution of the evil responsible for all of this violence.

Erika and her team begin working a gruesome case of dismembered bodies being found washed up on shore in suitcases in the present. Erika works the case with Moss at her side, while still dealing with guilt over Peterson, who is still on medical leave. The whole force must also, at the same time, deal with a major betrayal by one of their own which can have major ramifications far into the future.

As you follow the case in the present, you alternately follow Nina in the recent past. Every decision in her life moves her along a path of no return. Our lives change with every decision or fork in the road, every person we meet or fall in love with and this author has written a character that you cannot stop wishing for her to get a break or have someone intervene even with all the death and violence she participates in.

Mr. Brynzda has added more character development, moral and ethical decisions and depth to each main character in book #5 besides an interesting and fast moving investigation. This book is fast paced and engaging, but it is also more graphic in its violence than previous books in the series. He will definitely have me coming back for more.

Another great addition to this series!

Thanks very much to Bookouture and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Covert Affair by Susan Mann

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

The second book in the Librarian and the Spy Escapade, A COVERT AFFAIR by Susan Mann is just as much fun as the first! Quinn and James are wonderful together once again on their new adventure through India.

I really feel these books fill an interesting niche. They are action spy thrillers with romance, adventure and interesting, intelligent plots, but they are not as violent or strictly action driven as most in this genre. I like to call these books “cozy spy thrillers” and just what I am looking for to curl up with for an afternoon adventure.

Quinn Ellington has moved to D.C. and is now a reference librarian at the CIA. She will be training at The Farm to become an agent like her boyfriend, James Bond Anderson. Their relationship is progressing and it is because they are close and Quinn has a passionate love of books and knowledge that they are both sent on a mission as husband and wife to the Punjab district in India. To save a kidnapped ambassador’s life, they have to find and return a stolen Sikh library of historic and religious books.

Ms. Mann had me completely engrossed in the descriptions of India and especially the Punjab district. Her information on the Sikh culture and history displayed extensive research and it was well paced throughout the story without feeling like an info dump. The Indian characters were believable and empathetic.

Quinn is an empowered female heroine, who uses her intelligence as well as her physical prowess. James is her perfect hunky, spy hero who is also learning to not be overly protective and let Quinn investigate avenues on her own. Their banter is fun and entertaining. The sexual relationship is hot, but not overly explicit. This book can be read as a standalone, but Quinn and James’s relationship changes and grows in each book.

This is a series to follow!

Thanks very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Paul Cleave is now on my MUST READ list and I feel he should be on every fan of thrillers book shelves, too!

I read “Trust No One” and loved it, so I was very happy to get this ARC of his new book. Now I can add A KILLER HARVEST to this year’s list of my favorite books. I am in love with this author’s writing, plotting and pacing. When you think you are at the climax or you have everything figured out Mr. Cleave continually throws another plot twist, big or small, into the mix which makes you even more anxious and desperate to continue reading.

Joshua Logan believes he is cursed. He was born blind and lost his biological parents at a young age. He was taken in by his uncle and aunt, who he now calls mom and dad, but he can never take his happiness for granted.

While investigating a suspect believed to be a serial killer, Joshua’s detective father is killed. His partner kills the killer, but the curse has struck again. Joshua’s dad left a specific request in his will. If he was ever killed, his eyes would go to Joshua for a transplant and a chance at sight. As the donated eyes are transported to Joshua’s operating room, there is a mishap and Joshua receives one of his father’s eyes and one of the serial killer’s eyes which were also taken for donation.

After the surgery, Joshua begins to have strange and disturbing dreams. Sometimes he feels like he is seeing his father’s death from his father’s perspective and sometimes from the killer’s. He is also able to identify people that he has never seen before. As Joshua tries to deal with all the changes in his life, the serial killer’s accomplice is out to avenge his friend’s death. Joshua and all those close to him are in danger.

You may believe that you know how this will end from the brief summary above and past thriller plots, but in the hands of this author, you are so wrong! I could not stop thinking about this book when I had to put it down and could not wait to get back to it. Mr. Cleave knows how to masterfully take the reader on a journey that makes the unbelievable possible. I definitely need to start working my way through this author’s past catalogue. I highly recommend this book to all and especially those who love older Dean Koontz and Stephen King works that take a normal situation and twist it.

Thank you so much to Atria Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure!