Book Review: Strike Back by Beth Rhodes

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I absolutely love reading a new to me author and the first book in her romantic suspense series blows me away! Beth Rhodes writes like a much more seasoned author with a perfect balance of romance and suspense. STRIKE BACK (A Hawk Elite Security Novel-Book One) features a couple who have been married for 20 years, which makes the romance unique. The suspense is fast paced and well plotted throughout.

Nathan Hawkins is a former Marine and co-owner with his wife, Stacy Hawkins, of Hawk Elite Security. When the story starts Nathan and Stacy are trying to vacation and reconnect in their favorite resort in Belize. Both are dealing privately with things they should be sharing. Hawk is going blind from an old brain injury and thinks Stacy would be better off without him and Stacy has been working hard to get back in-shape after raising their kids and wants to return to some field work.

As their personal lives are in turmoil, and Hawk has to leave for a short side trip, Stacy is befriended by Michael Richards. He is charming and attentive to the lonely Stacy, but he is not who or what he seems. A haunting case from Hawk’s past is coming back for revenge. Hawk is dealing with his loss of sight, Stacy is trying to prove her competence and they both need to have each other’s backs for what lies ahead.

These characters are so realistic. Hawk has always been a leader and protector and the sight issue makes him go through all possible emotions. Stacy loves being a mom and wife, but she wants to be out from behind a desk and in the field with Hawk. All the highs and lows are covered and these two work on their relationship. They both realize they are better together than apart. All the secondary characters in Hawk Security are just as interesting and hopefully will find their own matches in books to come.

Strike Back gives you a great realistic mature romance, exotic locales and a revenge suspense plot that keeps you turning the pages. I am really looking forward to reading more in this series!

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

Book Review: The Heirloom by Edita A. Petrick

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I flew through this book! THE HEIRLOOM by Edita A. Petrick was a fast paced mash-up of CIA/FBI spy novel, supernatural novel with a witch’s heirloom locket that protects the rightful heir, corporate corruption by a cadre of CEO’s, and a psychologically damaged hitman who always succeeds. Scientific and supernatural coexist side by side throughout this fast paced thriller with romantic elements and irreverent humor.

CIA Agent Ted Bester “Beast” is called in to work with his counterpart in the FBI to solve a series of brutal killings that are all tied to a scientific conference on cold fusion that could radically change America’s energy dependence. The FBI has a source for him. Amelia is in an FBI safe-house because she was killed by the same hitman he is trying to find. (Yes, you read correctly – killed!)

Amelia now goes by ‘Randi” and is a doctor who was set to testify against corrupt pharmaceutical companies. Her heirloom amulet is passed down to first born daughters in her family from an ancestor witch from Salem who cursed all who harmed the owner. She survived her execution and is now able to sometimes slip into the hitman’s mind because he stole the amulet as a trophy.

The two work together with all the secondary characters you would expect in a usual spy thriller to find and eliminate the hitman and retrieve the cold fusion documents before they can be turned over to a foreign government.

Ms. Petrick has written a fast paced thrill ride that brings together many different genres into one. Even with all the characters and subplots, the writing is crisp and never confusing. This is a creative story with unexpected twists, especially in regards to the hitman.  The characters are well developed and believable. I cannot recommend this book enough and I can’t wait to read more from this author. If you want something different and well written, this is it!

Book Review: Kill Without Shame by Alexandra Ivy

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I got book two of the ARES Security series, KILL WITHOUT SHAME by Alexandra Ivy! Love these alpha friends who survived and escaped a Taliban prison and reading the romantic suspense each is featured in. Yes, there are a lot of these types of books out there right now, but Ms. Ivy gives you a fast paced read, entertaining mystery and a heroine who can stand up to and hold her own against her hero as they work out their relationship. Oh yeah, and hot sex!

Lucas St. Clair was born into a prestigious Shreveport family and was expected to excel and follow his father into a successful political career. His family had everything planned, but that future did not include Lucas’ girlfriend, the family’s gardener’s daughter, Mia. Rather than have his family mold Mia into their version of acceptable, he drove away and left her behind.

Mia Ramon has never forgiven Lucas for leaving without a word and breaking her heart, but in the intervening 15 years she has built her father’s lawn care business into a thriving high-end landscaping business. Lucas has kept track of her, but doesn’t believe he deserves a second chance with her until a detective interviews him in Houston about their mutual high school friend found dead outside the ARES office building clutching Mia’s picture. Lucas returns home to protect Mia at any cost and hopefully get her back into his life.

The men of ARES Security are all hot and sexy in their own way. Lucas being a born diplomat, but also well aware of his place in society and he will use it to his advantage. He can seem overbearing or arrogant at times, but Mia stands right up to him and goes toe-to-toe for what she wants. This is the difference between their relationship now and Mia trying to change for his parents approval before. I really enjoyed Ms. Ivy bringing Matt and Teagan in to help with this case. I can’t wait for their stories and Hauk’s mystery stalker continues from the first book.

Thanks very much to Kensington Books, Zebra and Net Galley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. Love this series!

Book Review: A Matter of Trust by Jill Blake

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I was a little nervous going into this story because it is the third in The Silicon Beach Trilogy, but the blurb said it could be read as a standalone and it was correct.  WOW! A MATTER OF TRUST was a very well written contemporary romance from a new to me author Jill Blake. I will definitely be going back to get books one and two!

Klara Lazarev has a full plate and no time for romance. She is working on her senior thesis testing innovative educational software that she designed for preschoolers at a prestigious day care. She runs into Vlad accidentally as he is a business associate of her brother-in-law. She has always thought him gorgeous, but after his drunken behavior at a wedding two years previous and now not even remembering who she is, that is enough to make her want to avoid him.

Vlad Snezhinsky is a Russian born and Western educated venture capitalist. He excels at both his job and being a single dad to his daughter, Lora. He is still entangled in a messy divorce with a woman who lied about Lora’s parentage to escape Russia. The last thing he is looking for is a relationship, especially with a younger woman related to his business associate.

The budding romance between Vlad and Klara is suddenly put in jeopardy by the murder of Vlad’s soon to be ex-wife and her boyfriend. Vlad is afraid for his family and is also worried about the fallout for Klara, but Klara believes in him and his innocence. The romance moves forwards and grows as the two let the authorities work the case. No amateur sleuths here.

This romance flows and grows over time with the story. Vlad and Klara were perfect for each other and Lora. The sex scenes were hot! There are a lot of little background elements going on throughout this story and the author was adept at bring them all together for a very satisfactory conclusion. I am looking forward to reading more from Ms. Blake.

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

Book Review: When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

When I want to curl up on the couch with a comfy blanket and tea to read without interruption, there are a few authors that I know I can sit down with their books and always be satisfied. Jayne Ann Krentz is one of those authors. WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE is one of those books.

Charlotte Sawyer is the average, steady, and some say naïve, director of activities at a senior retirement home. Her step-sister, Jocelyn is beautiful, adventurous and reckless. When Charlotte hears that Jocelyn’s best friend from her investment club has been found dead, she tries to contact Jocelyn at the retreat she is on. Jocelyn has disappeared and Charlotte is desperate to find her.

Max Cutler is starting his own P.I. firm after complete burnout from his criminal profiling job and his divorce that followed. He knows the job of finding out what really happened to Jocelyn’s friend won’t pay, but he is convinced to look into it. Charlotte is trying to find out what happened also and to find her sister so the two join forces.

There are two plotlines intertwined in this story. The investment club’s members are being targeted and disappearing and you have Jocelyn’s 16 year old rape case that was purposely derailed. Power, privilege, an escalating serial rapist and a friend that may not really be a friend all are fighting to silence Charlotte and Max.

Charlotte and Max were perfect together. Charlotte is very much the steady, optimistic character that isn’t boring, even though she believes she is, but you would want to have in your corner. Max is down and considers himself boring, but Charlotte sees him as steadfast and talented in his profession. The banter between these two had me smiling several times and the sex was well written. I liked that these characters weren’t looking for a relationship, but they fit.

I enjoyed this story and these characters as much as I knew I would. Sometimes in my romantic suspense reads, I don’t want super testosterone alpha males and either their matches in female form or the little woman that they rescue. Sometimes in my romantic suspense, I want normal, everyday characters that come together to become something more and when that happens it is great. Max has two ‘brothers’, so I expect this to be a trilogy.

Thanks very much to Berkley Publishing Group and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC in exchange for an honest review.