Book Review: The Librarian and the Spy by Susan Mann

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have just read an absolutely charming and entertaining start to a new series called The Librarian and the Spy (Librarian and the Spy Escapade #1) by Susan Mann. Not only did I love all of the characters, I learned many things I never knew about reference librarians and their jobs. This book had me laughing out loud and turning the pages as fast as possible as the mystery and suspense took off.

Quinn Ellington is a reference librarian who loves her job solving questions for her library patrons, but she also longs to travel and experience adventures like her favorite spy thriller heroes introduced to her by her grandfather. She hates all the stereotypes of librarians because she grew up as a military brat with a Marine father who taught her to shot and three older brothers that she has always completed with.

On an ordinary day at work, insurance agent James Lockwood comes up to the desk and asks Quinn for her help researching some pieces from a private collection. Quinn can’t believe her luck because not only is James gorgeous, but he has a British accent to die for. As Quinn becomes more involved in helping James, she realizes that all this research is not simply for insurance purposes and James has not been completely truthful with her. He is not British and he is not an insurance agent.

As Quinn and James work together to solve an important puzzle to stop an international arms dealer from acquiring nuclear material, Quinn’s intelligence and abilities become a major asset. She is very capable of thinking on her feet and James becomes even more impressed.

Their cover and flirting as a married couple leads to real feelings that they try to control until the end of their mission. This story has a lot of witty banter, flirting and a steady buildup of their chemistry to a relationship. No sex until the end and it is behind closed doors when it does happen. Even when the plot has been resolved, there is a great twist at the end of the book.

I really enjoyed this book and I was very happy to see that it is a proposed series and not a standalone. I was impressed by the fact that this is Ms. Mann’s first book. A fast paced plot, interesting facts, and entertaining characters make this worth the read. I am looking forward to James and Quinn’s next outing!

Thanks very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I am looking forward to many more books in this series.

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

RATING:  5 out of 5 Stars

What a great addition and emotionally charged finale to the Bryson brother trilogy of books!

BROTHERS IN BLUE: MATT (Brothers In Blue #3) by Jeanne St. James has the youngest Bryson finally returning home after several deployments overseas to a job and extended family that he is finding very difficult to deal with due to PTSD.

Matt Bryson believes his mind is broken. He is not ready to accept help except what is forced on him by his brother to keep his job as a police office in their small town. He has buried his emotions and is barely making it day to day.

Dr. Carly Stephens is Amanda’s obstetrician at the local hospital. She is tall, calm and extremely professional working hard to help her elderly parents and save money to adopt a baby of her own one day that she cannot have herself. When Matt ends up being the brother to rush Amanda to the hospital to deliver, he is attracted to Carly’s calm and leadership. Carly is attracted to the hot police office.

They start out as landlord and tenant, but soon agree to a sexual, no commitment relationship. They are just too different and want different things out of life. Matt with his OCD and PTSD believes he will never be able to love and he never wants children. Carly is too busy earning and saving money for her future home and adoption and just wants the hot sex. But can they truly keep to this arrangement? Hot, steamy sex is great, but soon emotions become entangled and they will have to find a way to compromise or break.

Matt had me all tied up in knots emotionally. There are many forms and degrees of PTSD and I feel Ms. St. James handled Matt’s character responses in a realistic way. I especially agree with the way that Matt had to handle a lot of his decisions on his own and in his own time. Carly was an equally strong character because even though she is a doctor, she knows she can’t heal Matt, she can only love and help him. The plot was a delicate back and forth written with empathy and compassion.

It was great reading about all the characters from the previous two books, also. I am going to miss these brothers, the loves they found and the entire extended family. This is an excellent contemporary romance series with plenty of hot and steamy sex scenes. They can all be read as standalones, but is much more fun to read them all in order and get three HEAs.

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

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: Cowboy Pride by Anne McAllister

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

COWBOY PRIDE (Code of the West #5) by Anne McAllister is a second chance romance that is part of a contemporary cowboy romance series that can be easily read as a standalone. The strong, silent and brooding ranch foreman gets a second chance with his high school sweetheart and daughter of the ranch owner turned famous and talented artist after eleven years.

Widowed and pregnant, Brenna Jamison returns home to run her father’s Montana ranch while he is in a nursing home recovering from a stroke. When asked if she could tutor a talented artistic child, Tuck, she agrees, but doesn’t know what she will do if she runs into his uncle and guardian. He walked away from her once before and broke her heart.

Jed McCall cannot believe that Brenna is back home. He states he doesn’t want anything to do with her, but when Tuck tells him of the troubles she is having on the ranch he goes over to check it out. He gets rid of her unreliable hired cowboys and rounds up her old friends to help her get the round-up done for the year.

Without knowing of their pasts, Tuck decides that Jed needs to marry Brenna so the child welfare people don’t take him away from his uncle and Brenna needs a husband to help run the ranch and take care of the place while she is pregnant and give her the help she needs to bring her father home. They reluctantly agree to the idea for these reasons only, but they each have personal unstated hopes, too.

Brenna is a wonderful heroine. Talented, loving, caring and determined to find out why Jed walked away from her. She makes her life choices based on love and you are seriously involved with her finding love again. Jed is a good, caring protective, hardworking man, but he is not an outgoing or happy man. This hero had me sighing over how he took care of others and wanted to love, but he also made me want to shake him over how often he hurt others by not explaining why he walks away.

This is a quick read with minimal sex only in the final chapters of the book. I enjoyed the HEA for all the characters, but I was not satisfied with how long it took the author to get to Jed’s true motivation for what he did. The story otherwise was satisfying read.

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