Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

A present day family tragedy, a twenty-year-old unsolved death and an environment that can go up in flames with one spark all ramp up the tension, anger, suspicion, danger and suspense in Jane Harper’s debut novel THE DRY.

Twenty years ago Aaron Falk and his father were run out of their home and off their farm in Kiewarra, a small farming community in Australia. Ellie Deacon was found drowned and even though it was ruled a suicide, Aaron was rumored to be involved in her death. His best friend Luke Hadler gave him an alibi, but his name was found on a note in the dead girl’s room. Aaron never wants to return to the community.

A call from Luke’s father brings Aaron, who is now a Federal Police investigator in Melbourne, back to Kiewarra for the funeral of Luke, his wife and small son. Everyone believes the pressures of the drought made Luke snap and kill his family before killing himself, but Luke’s parents just can’t believe it and ask Aaron to look into it for them. The local policeman, Sergeant Raco is new to the area and he is having some doubts with the ruling of murder-suicide himself. Aaron and Raco start to look more closely at the case and start to uncover buried secrets and lies.

Many in the community still believe Aaron lied about is alibi and the same forces that chased him before are back to pressure him into leaving again. He is harassed constantly again, which leaves him looking at the same foes as before and it could be clouding his judgement and perspective on the current case. Are the two, past and present cases connected or is it just coincidence? Aaron and Raco work together to find the truth before the town ignites.

This book was so well written, I find it extremely hard to believe it is a debut book. Ms. Harper gives the reader not one, but two intriguing mysteries that intertwine throughout the book with well-placed flashbacks that never interrupt the story’s narrative. All of the characters are complex and fully fleshed. The pressures of a farming community on the edge due to an extended drought makes the environment as important as any character. This book is a must read for lovers of mystery/suspense books!

Book Review: Girl In Disguise by Greer Macallister

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

GIRL IN DISGUISE by Greer Macallister is a historical fiction book based on the life of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent. I always love to read about the “first” females in any role and this being the first detective agency in the U.S. made it sound even more interesting. Kate’s story is perfectly suited to be told in as a historical fiction due to the fact that a lot of the actual paperwork from her time in the Pinkerton agency went up in flames the Chicago Fire of 1871.

Kate was the daughter of traveling actors, who were also con-artists. She was forced into a loveless marriage that ended with her becoming a young widow and unable to have children. She is out of money with no job prospects and answers the ad for Pinkerton agents. There is always a sadness and aloneness about her, but her life has given her the basic skills to become a great detective. Pinkerton takes her on and not only does she become one of Pinkerton’s top agents, she also heads up the Female Detective division for him.

The author has written the adventures of a complicated woman, her relationship with Pinkerton himself and her interactions with the other agents in his employ. I felt the characters were all true to their time period and the situations could have happened just as written. This is a story that was very well told.

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

Book Review: Stark Resolution by C.D. Bradley

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

STARK RESOLUTION by C.D. Bradley gave me the resolution I was looking for from this trilogy, but the path taken was not in any way what I was expecting. It is an emotional powerhouse written in a way that lets you have a window into the depths of a wounded warrior’s mind.

This book starts with both, Kira and Stark, waking up in Walter Reed Medical Facility. Both are facing difficult recoveries in differing ways. (Sorry, can’t give you more without spoiling a major plot twist and major scenes.)

When they come together again, the pieces of the overall suspense portion of this trilogy become transparent. Kira, Stark and all of their friends we have been introduced to along the way in books 1 and 2 work to stop what could be a potentially devastating biological weapon.

This trilogy is not at all what I was expecting and yet it turned into one of my all-time favorites with strong characters that I will always remember. I thought the cliffhangers at the end of books 1 and 2 were the most devastating emotional twists this author could throw at me until I got into the meat of this third book in the trilogy. C.D. Bradley takes some specific problems that our veterans’ face and writes from the heart of the veteran’s viewpoint with powerful emotional realism.

When I started this trilogy, I thought I was just getting a well written erotic military series that I would read and enjoy the sex scenes and try to figure out the suspense subplot on the side. This trilogy is so much MORE!

I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. C.D. Bradley’s writing is captivating, intense and emotional from page one.

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

Book Review: Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

SILVER THAW (Mystic Creek, #1) by bestselling author Catherine Anderson is the start of a new traditional contemporary romance series set in Mystic Creek, Oregon. This is an extremely well written story that has a hero that we all dream of meeting and a heroine with a small daughter who both need him desperately.

Jeb Sterling is a self-employed precision woodworker who finds messages scattered across his land on pink strips of paper. He becomes intrigued by the writer’s hopes and wishes for herself and her six year old daughter. When a severe ice storm hits, Jeb goes to check on his mysterious new neighbors and ends up rescuing Amanda Banning and her daughter. He finds himself drawn to this pair that are on the run and hiding from a physically abusive spouse and father.

Amanda and her daughter’s previous physical and psychological abuse is handled very convincingly by this author. Jeb is a strong hero to take on this pair and to deal with all the fallout to come. There are mild religious references, but only before meal prayers and the idea of praying for help. All Ms. Anderson’s books have very mild sexual scenes and focus more on the growing of the love between the H/h. The growth of the relationship in this book is the main focus. It is well plotted and realistic to the situation.

This romance is character driven and tells the tale of overcoming past adversity and starting over with the love and help of a strong hero and a caring community.

I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Book Review: Stark Shadows by C.D. Bradley

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

O-M-G!!!

STARK SHADOWS by C.D. Bradley is the second book in the Stark Trilogy and a great addition well worth the wait, but this book’s ending was even harder to take than the last one! Everyone who is familiar with my reviews, knows I hate cliffhangers, but there have been a few trilogies that I am willing to forgo that dislike because either the story and/or characters are so amazing as to be worth the wait. This is one of those trilogies!

The start of book two has Kira being attacked in her home with flashbacks to her previous college attack. It is a well written and intense scene that still has you wondering if it is real or an alcohol induced dream. When she wakes up in the hospital, Holt is once again trying to help her, or is he? Kira has Paige stay with her until she is to be deployed in two weeks and Paige is kidnapped.

Owen Stark is back from deployment and looking to make things right with Kira, who he realizes is the only woman for him, but with Paige’s kidnapping and Kira’s attack nothing is going as planned again. Nothing between Kira and Owen is settled as Kira wants to focus on her military career and Owen vows to get Paige back and find out who is attacking Kira and why.

Although Kira and Owen are apart more than they are together in this book, the split into two separate paths never lets up in an intense, emotional, intriguing read. I got to read more about Owen’s true character, his willingness to do anything for those he loves and that no matter how dark things become there is a line of integrity he is not willing to cross. I was interested in all of Kira’s storyline revolving around her deployment to Peru and the history and study of the Zika virus.

And then BANG!

Book boyfriend that makes the pages sizzle! Strong, realistic characterization. Smart, intelligent plot. I love these books and am lucky that I have the third one available to read now, because if I had to wait I would go crazy.

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

Book Review: You’ve Got Aliens by Fiona Roarke

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I loved this story and characters! They are both entertaining, fun and quirky. YOU’VE GOT ALIENS (Alienn, Arkansas Book 1) by Fiona Roarke is a laugh out loud short romance read that I highly recommend. I just finished the first book in this new humorous alien vs. human romance series and I want the next one NOW!

Juliana Masters needs money and accepts a writing assignment from her old college professor. She is to go to nearby Alienn, Arkansas for travel publication, Finders, and find out if the alien sightings at the Big Bang Truck Stop are real.

The Fearless Leader of the Big Bang Truck Stop is Diesel Grey. The oldest of seven children, inherited the leadership of the Truck Stop last year from his father and takes his job very seriously. The Big Bang Truck Stop is located in a small town with fun alien ads everywhere on the surface, but a galactic refueling station and rest stop underneath. When Juliana shows up for an interview, he can’t believe how attracted he is to this human, but he has to be careful or all of their covers will be blown and humans will know that aliens have always been here among them.

Besides the cute premise for this story, you just have to love all the clever names, Big Bang Truck Stop, Alienn, Arkansas, Diesel, Axel, Cam, Wheeler, Gage, Jack and Valene. The romance was fun as both Diesel tried to hide his true heritage and Juliana wanted the truth for her article so that she could use the funds to discover her past. The romance was very sweet and the sex was behind closed doors.

The secondary characters were all as entertaining as the H/h. An elderly aunt who wants to raise funds for her retirement home with a wet t-shirt contest. A brother who is head of security and keeps mind zapping Juliana into forgetting what she has learned.

This is a fun story that you just have to read. You will be wanting the next in the series as much as I do. Please write quickly Ms. Roarke!

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