Book Review: For Love & Bourbon by Katie Jennings

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

FOR LOVE & BOURBON by Katie Jennings is an overall enjoyable romantic suspense read.

Lucky Fox Whiskey was started when Grandpa Joe came from Ireland after a family feud to strike out on his own with his own ideas on how Irish whiskey and bourbon should be made. The family legacy has passed from Joe to his son, Ty Brannon and his twins Ava and Adam Brannon.

Ava Brannon is proud of her grandfather’s accomplishments and works to uphold all the family traditions in the distillery. World renowned, Ava has learned the fine art of mixing, aging and tasting at her grandfather’s side. Lucky Fox supports the entire small community built around it on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but being a small community Ava has not had an interest in any personal attachment.

On her last tour of the day, a handsome stranger stands out from the rest and Ava is caught off guard by her interest. Special Agent Cooper Lawson is with the FBI and about to turn Ava and her family’s world upside down.

As you read this book, you are completely taken by the author’s description of the making and tasting of bourbons and whiskeys. It is so intense, you can practically taste it on your tongue. The twists and turns of the suspense in this story keep you turning the pages and involved in the investigation. The family secrets and ties to their Irish born kin was a big surprise twist.

The main romance in this story between Ava and Cooper was well paced, but just a little off. I was reading it and hoping that everything came out right for them, but I was not completely sold on the two of them ending up with a HEA. The secondary romance between Ava’s brother Adam and his crush didn’t work for me at all. These characters all have interesting backstories though and are interesting in the story.

This standalone romantic suspense is well worth the read.

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

Book Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea


RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have seriously been blown away by this book. I enjoyed Summit Lake by this author, but this story was even better.

THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea had me tangled up in plot twists and turns that left me completely surprised at the climax of the plot. I knew the answer, no I didn’t. I knew the answer, no I didn’t. I could NOT put this book down!

The majority of the story is told in the present with Livia Cutty, a fellow in forensic pathology wondering if her missing sister will ever appear on her autopsy table and Megan McDonald, the girl who got away, when both Megan and Nicole Cutty disappeared one summer night. Both are searching for the truth of the girls’ disappearance for differing reasons. Their search is intertwined with flashbacks to the months and days before the abduction and the story of Megan and Nicole’s summer after their senior year in high school.

These characters where all realistic and unforgettable. Livia is an intelligent and driven character. Her career is as important to her as her drive to find out what happened to her sister. She does not throw it away, but uses it in her search. I loved her use of kickboxing for stress relief. Megan was not the same girl she was before her abduction and she still doesn’t remember everything from the two weeks she was gone. Mr. Donlea did a great job of showing her before and after and the psychological changes. Nicole was a teen in rebellion and it took so little to tip her over into even darker things. Someone who she thought understood her, changed her whole world in one night.

This was a well written suspense with a plot that keeps you on your toes. This book will definitely be a recommendation read to all my suspense loving friends.

Thanks so much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for and honest review. I loved it!

Book Review: Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

(I reviewed this book last year. I am adding this previously posted review since I am currently reading Mr. Donlea’s second mystery novel The Girl Who Was Taken. I wanted both reviews on my website.)

SUMMIT LAKE by Charlie Donlea is a debut mystery that keeps you turning the pages.

The setting is a small town in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The story is told by two narrators; Kelsey Castle, a true crime journalist, in the present investigating the savage murder and rape of Becca Eckersley and with Becca, a first year law student, telling her own story before her death threaded in between. Both women have secrets that become revealed in bits and pieces throughout the story in tantalizing increments and there are plenty of twists and turns that surprise.

I found all of the characters to be interesting and well fleshed out. The pace of the story is fast and has several twists and surprises. I did have a small problem with the lack of law enforcement involvement and the way Kelsey obtained some of her information just would not realistically happen. The reveal of the killer was truly unexpected and made for a big surprise. Well worth the read and I will be looking for more from this author.

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: The Girl At the Bar by Nicholas Nash

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I absolutely love when I try a new author with no expectations and am completely absorbed into the story. THE GIRL AT THE BAR by Nicolas Nash is one of those mystery/thrillers that are rich in backgrounds, technical information and clues without bogging down the pace and keeps you guessing until the end.

Dr. Rebecca Chase is a brilliant cancer researcher in New York City for a medical conference. The night before she is to present, she meets Ragnar Johnson at her hotel bar. She leaves to go to his place for a one night stand. When Ragnar wakes up the next morning, she is gone, not just from his apartment, but she has completely disappeared.

No one knows why she would disappear. Her research has placed her in the middle of a high-stakes battle between two mega pharma companies. Her personal life is a mess, but she is not the type of person to just walk away from her life’s work and career. After her disappearance, others associated with her start to be killed and there are so many different motives and agendas, you don’t know who to trust.

Ragnar is a brilliant out of work trader with social and psychiatric problems. Even though he knows he looks to be the prime suspect in Rebecca’s disappearance, he can’t stay uninvolved. He and his tech expert/hacker friend, Eddie chase clues. As he works the case, he is being followed by Raoul Perez who heads up security for Atticus Biopharma and was a NYC detective previously. You also have a competent team of detectives, Timothy and Roberta, who we follow as they work the case.

During the story, you are introduced to an entity that just calls itself “the void”. It is never completely satisfied or filled for long. You realize this is the mind of the kidnapper/killer and the way it describes itself is extremely chilling.

There are so many characters that have a variety of motives that I was continually changing my mind on who was the guilty party and why. Even with all the moving parts, I was never confused on who was who. All of the characters were so interesting and realistic that I just had to keep turning the pages. I love this type of mystery as it takes you step by step and lets you think and discover along with the detectives and Ragnar. Please note: There is a moment of graphic violence in the climax of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel and will be looking for more from this author.

Thanks very much to Fireflies Publishing LLC and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure.

 

Book Review: Trust No One by Paul Cleave

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

TRUST NO ONE by Paul Cleave is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that has the reader and the crime writer narrator continually trying to decide what is reality and what is fiction.

Jerry Grey is a fictional crime writer who uses the pseudonym of Henry Cutter for his novels and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 49. He begins to keep a “Madness Journal” to follow his progression into Alzheimer’s, but he still is not sure if he can trust what seems real or what are remembered parts of his works of fiction caused by his disease. He confesses to crimes he has written about in his published novels to the police. At first, no one believes his confessions that they perceive to be caused by the dementia progressing in his mind, but dead bodies are turning up and the evidence is mounting against him.

Paul Cleave has written a thriller that makes you question everything you read and question all the characters’ motives. You cannot make any conclusions due to the unreliability of the protagonist as storyteller and yet the plot progresses forward at a faster and faster pace. Every scene and character are important. If you love this book as much as I did, wait until you read the ending. I believe it is perfect for the story, but your emotions are going to be all over the place and it can be debated endlessly. Fantastic book!