Book Review: Searching for Gatsby (A Ronnie Lake Mystery #3) by Niki Danforth

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

It has been a while since I have read a first person classically written private detective novel and this was a great one to remind me of my love of this genre!

SEARCHING FOR GATSBY: A Ronnie Lake Murder Mystery by Niki Danforth is the third book in this series. It can be read as a standalone, but I will definitely be going back for more character backstory and new mysteries in the first two books.

This is a new to me P.I. that I should have already been following. I love that Veronica “Ronnie” Lake is a mature character who is starting a second career as a P.I., has grown children, a second degree black belt in Aikido, a bright red mustang convertible and a retired German shepherd war dog. She is still learning the trade of being a P.I. under Will Benson, a former cop turned private eye.

At a dinner party held by Ronnie’s friends Win and Marilyn Watson, she meets an intriguing newcomer to the community, Jamie Gordan. The flirtation is interrupted by a loud gunshot and the body of a thief falling from the roof outside of Win’s library of rare books. The thief has a valuable diamond necklace in his pocket, when he could have much more easily and for more of a reward stolen Win’s rare edition of “The Great Gatsby”.

This starts a mystery that has many well place red herrings and twists between the main plot and two secondary plots. Ronnie has many mysteries pulling her in different directions. She would like to know who killed the thief, but the police, especially Detective Sofia Rossi, are anything but accommodating. She needs to find who took Win’s copy of Gatsby. She is suspicious of Katya Alessandro who owns Alessandro Rare Books in regards to her connection to Win and Jamie. Also, all of the players are connected by four WWII soldiers who happen to have left a treasure map for their descendants to solve.

The cast of characters could walk off the page, they are so realistically portrayed. I love the fact that Ronnie has a dog and when you learn of his backstory it will break your heart. Then throw in a fun and feisty terrier named Peachie and I just could not put this mystery down.

I will definitely be going back to read the first two books in this series. I love Ronnie!

Book Review: Say You’re Sorry by Melinda Leigh

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I am so excited that Melinda Leigh is writing a spin-off of her wonderful Scarlet Falls trilogy. SAY YOU”RE SORRY (Morgan Dane #1) takes me back to one of my favorite fictional cities.

Morgan Dane returns home to Scarlet Falls with her three young daughters after the death of her military husband in the Middle East. Living with her grandfather and a teenager rescued in a previous Scarlet Falls book, two years has passed and Morgan decides to return to work as an ADA. She wants to start moving forward at least professionally with her life.

Lance Kruger was an SFPD officer, but is currently training to be a private investigator while recovering from a gunshot wound. His mentor, Lincoln Sharp started his own P.I. agency after retiring from the SFPD. Lincoln is more than just the ex-detective who worked Lance’s missing father’s case, he has been a father figure and an enormous help with Lance’s mother.

When Morgan’s sometimes babysitter, Tessa is found raped and violently murdered, the blame falls on her boyfriend, Nick. Nick is Morgan’s young neighbor who plays chess with her grandfather and reads to her girls. Even though the evidence is strong, Morgan just cannot believe Nick is guilty. Morgan turns down her ADA job and decides to not only defend Nick against false charges, but to find the real killer with the help of Lance and Lincoln.

This book takes off and keeps a fast pace throughout. With multiple suspects there are many unexpected twists and turns in the plot. As you turn the pages to find justice for Tessa, many other small town secrets become unearthed. You also follow the story through both Morgan’s and Lance’s points-of-views, with some internal insights from the killer and Nick’s time in lock-up. I loved the multiple views because they pull you into the head and intense emotions of each character in every situation.

I was happy to learn from the author that there are at least four more proposed books for this series and Morgan will continue being the main character. This book has the beginnings of a new romance for Morgan with Lance and I am looking forward to its progression. I love a series that not only gives me great thrills and/or mysteries, but I get to follow a couple that I want to succeed in love.

I am looking forward to the next book and a return to all of these great characters!

Thank you very much to Montlake Romance, Melinda Leigh and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Breaking The Honor Code by Stanalei Fletcher

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

BREAKING THE HONOR CODE (Northstar Security #4) by Stanalei Fletcher is another entertaining addition to her romantic suspense series. This series gives you stories that are well written and always deliver an action packed page turner.

Allison Richards has been dubbed “the cyborg queen” of the Northstar computer labs. All work and no personal interactions. When she leaves to takes a vacation and go home to Idaho to babysit her nephew, the hacker that has been plaguing Northstar strikes again.

Sloan Cartland is Northstar’s profiler. Viewed as a rich playboy, he doesn’t try to fight that misconception. When the hacker strikes Northstar again and more damage is done to the company’s reputation and cases, his boss sends Sloan to retrieve Allison and bring her back.

Trapped by a blizzard, Allison and Sloan begin to see each other beyond their work personas and sparks begin to fly. But when communications are restored, Sloan is ordered to get Allison to L.A. The evidence is pointing to Allison as the hacker. Sloan now questions all of his feelings for Allison and their attraction, while Allison has to use all of her skills to save herself, her nephew and her reputation.

I really enjoy this series and all of the characters. The books are easy to read with fast paced action and romance. This book has the beginnings of a romance which was sweetly written without any sex scenes. The themes of trust and honor are woven throughout all the characters and storyline. An enjoyable read that can standalone, but the whole series is well worth the read!

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

Book Review: The Thing Speaks For Itself by A.S.A. Durphy

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF by A.S.A. Durphy is a unique thriller, gritty detective mystery and a psychological journey all rolled into one page-turning unstoppable read. Serious, violent and comedic all intertwined with characters that stick with you.

Gracie Stratis has moved on from the mayor’s office to training for the Diplomatic Security Service to fulfill her need to travel the world. When her current diplomatic security detail gets attacked, Gracie is seriously wounded and almost dies. She returns to her home in Oakland for months of rehab and recovery. Gracie believes in just pushing through and while this may help with her physical recovery, it leads to some interesting moments in her mental recovery.

Gracie’s family consists of her younger brother and three of his friends. They all grew up together and are all happy that even under the terrible circumstances that Gracie is home. When one of their group goes missing, Gracie is determined to find him.

As Gracie digs deeper into the disappearance, she discovers deception from those she trusted. She is pitted against a corrupt corporation, bribery of government officials and a security team willing to do anything for money. All she has is her skills, with a recovering and still untrustworthy mind and body, a private detective hired by the missing friend’s parents and her ragtag group of a family.

I love a strong female lead. Gracie just doesn’t investigate, she throws in a figurative grenade to see what happens and moves forward from there, no matter the devastation to herself. All of the characters are fully fleshed out and make the story come alive. This story is written in a fast paced format that has each family member narrating at different times throughout the story. This style is a little different, but the story and action pull you in and make the narration changes interesting rather than annoying. I am definitely looking forward to reading more about Gracie and her future adventures.

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.