Book Review: Serenity Avenged by Craig A. Hart

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SERENITY AVENGED (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 3) by Craig A. Hart places Shelby’s pregnant daughter in danger due to his ex-wife’s debt to a sadistic crime boss named Darkmore. Ex-boxer and retired fixer Shelby Alexander has once again found himself to be anything but retired and at peace.

When Leslie, Shelby’s daughter, goes into early labor he heads out of Serenity and drives down state. When he arrives, Leslie is stable, but his ex-wife has led serious trouble to her door. Due to a hidden gambling problem, Helen borrows money from a loan-shark. When she can’t pay, the threats begin and Darkmore sends his nephew after her and uses Shelby’s abducted daughter as collateral.

Shelby teams up again with his best-friend, Mack, a retired detective to save Leslie using Helen and Jimmy, Darkmore’s nephew as bait. With lots of fire power and Jimmy’s inside help Shelby is determined to save Leslie and her unborn child.

I love reading these fast paced thriller stories featuring Shelby, who is not your usual hero. His character is so interesting and well defined. The plot is action packed and suspenseful with a truly terrifying and evil antagonist featured in this book. The dialogue is entertainingly sarcastic at times which smooths some of Shelby’s rough edges. This book can be read as a standalone, but the characters grow and interact more in each book, so I recommend reading them in order.

I will be anxiously waiting to read more of Shelby’s adventures in the future.

Book Review: Her Last Goodbye by Melinda Leigh

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

HER LAST GOODBYE (Morgan Dane #2) by Melinda Leigh has me very excited for this series! I loved this book even more than the first in this new series and I gave Book #1 a five star review. I love when I think I have figured out the ending and the author still has another twist in store for me that surprises me once again.

Morgan Dane and Lance Kruger are on the case of a young mother of two who has disappeared. Morgan feels Chelsea Clark would never have left her small children even though the sheriff believes she just walked away or the husband is responsible and the prime suspect. For Lance, this case brings up all of his memories of the disappearance of his own father many years ago.

As Morgan works the case, she becomes the focus of the violent predator and her children and grandfather are put at risk. Morgan and Lance will do anything, even bend the law, to protect those they love and catch the predator.

This is a fast paced and easy to read book that kept me turning the pages. The plot twists and turns so that even when I believed I had the case solved there was still more to come. Morgan and Lance are so realistically written that I feel I could walk right into their office. The secondary characters; grandpa, Morgan’s girls and extended family, Sharp and Lance’s mother are all great additions that add the true to life feel and dialogue to these books. I was also very happy that Morgan and Lance finally got their “Let’s Get It On” scene. Oh, yeah!

Another series to add to my must read list!

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

Book Review: Deadly Secrets by Gordon Bickerstaff

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

If you are going to start a new thriller series or you want to try a new author of thrillers, you have got to read DEADLY SECRETS (Gavin Shawlens Thriller #1) by Gordon Bickerstaff. This thriller has an eerily plausible story line, intricate plot, twists and surprises that gave me chills just thinking about how this could really happen.

Gavin Shawlens is a brilliant scientist who studies protease enzymes. He is also part of a secret British organization, The Lambeth Group that monitors universities and research scientists’ discoveries that could possibly do more harm than good.

Gavin has been offered an opportunity to test a new additive that could revolutionize the entire food industry. At first he does not believe the hype, but when he discovers the wife of one of the company owner’s is an old flame that he never got over, he agrees to their proposal. With incredible global financial implications, the stakes are high and Gavin becomes entangled in a power struggle between a global corporation, the Russians and corrupt officials at all levels of government.

I have so many feelings to share about this book. The main character of this series, Gavin Shawlens is very human. He is no James Bond. He runs away from danger to save himself to the detriment of anyone with him, usually but not always. He is brilliant, but socially awkward. I cheered for him, I yelled at him and I was embarrassed for him. The other characters are just as well written. Some are so evil, to be almost unbelievable, until you consider what money and power are doing in the real world today.

The science based plot seems quite believable. The description of the deaths by enzyme were equal parts disgusting and chilling (and might be too graphic for some). When you think you are at the end, this author twists you around and the peril continues. I love when that happens.

This is a great start to a new thriller series with a unique author’s voice and hero!

Book Review: Cold Blood by Robert Brynzda

RATING 5 out of 5 Stars:

COLD BLOOD (Detective Erika Foster, #5) by Robert Brynzda had me turning the pages as fast as I could read them. This installment not only gave me my usual intense detective story, but more character development involving Erika, her personal life decisions and the contrasting study of the downward spiral of personal life decisions of an average young woman. This book alternates between the present investigation and the past evolution of the evil responsible for all of this violence.

Erika and her team begin working a gruesome case of dismembered bodies being found washed up on shore in suitcases in the present. Erika works the case with Moss at her side, while still dealing with guilt over Peterson, who is still on medical leave. The whole force must also, at the same time, deal with a major betrayal by one of their own which can have major ramifications far into the future.

As you follow the case in the present, you alternately follow Nina in the recent past. Every decision in her life moves her along a path of no return. Our lives change with every decision or fork in the road, every person we meet or fall in love with and this author has written a character that you cannot stop wishing for her to get a break or have someone intervene even with all the death and violence she participates in.

Mr. Brynzda has added more character development, moral and ethical decisions and depth to each main character in book #5 besides an interesting and fast moving investigation. This book is fast paced and engaging, but it is also more graphic in its violence than previous books in the series. He will definitely have me coming back for more.

Another great addition to this series!

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

Book Review: The Saboteur by Andrew Gross

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

THE SABOTEUR by Andrew Gross is an intense historical fiction based on the true life stories of the Norwegian Freedom Fighters assigned the seemingly impossible task of destroying the Nazis’ supply of heavy water before it could be used to produce an atomic bomb.

Kurt Nordstrum was an engineering student in Oslo in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. His whole life changes as he fights with his friends in the Norwegian resistance. The friendships, bravery and strength of these men and women is highlighted in this story.

Dieter Lund is a Captain in the Quisling, which is an arm of the Gestapo made up of Norwegian collaborators. Kurt and Dieter attended school together in their small hometown. With the murder of another Quisling onboard a ferry, the long resentment and envy that Dieter feels towards Kurt manifests itself and the chase is on. Good versus evil, protagonist versus antagonist.

In 1943, Kurt and his highly trained fellow Norwegian teammates are parachuted back into Norway from England for the specific purpose of destroying a heavily fortified hydro plant’s capability of producing heavy water and destroying any already produced. They must also stop any from leaving Norway and making it to Germany.

Between the seemingly impossible missions that this team takes on and the continual chase of the Quisling it was hard to put this book down.  The tragedies and triumphs of ordinary people during a horrific world war are highlighted in this book. As the author notes in the end, this story is based on real people, which makes it all the more amazing.

*(I want to make one personal comment on this book and other reviews I have read. I agree with everyone that this author’s previous book “The One Man” was an exceptional historical thriller. I feel that any comparisons to this book though short changes this book. This book is based on true people and is a historical fiction novel. Yes, it has thrills and suspense throughout, but there is a difference between the two types of books. I did not compare the two when I rated my review.)

Thank you very much to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC.

Book Review: Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

PERILOUS TRUST (Off the Grid: FBI Trilogy #1) by Barbara Freethy is an exciting start to a new romantic suspense series. This is a fast paced story loaded with action, suspense and romance. Each book features one of five friends who formed a secret group while in Quantico with the promise to always help the others.

Sophie Parker is an archeology instructor at NYU, who receives the devastating news that her father was killed in a car crash. Her father was the head of the Organized Crime Unit in the NY FBI field office. When she gets a chance to check her phone, she listens to her father’s last frantic and cryptic messages with instructions she must follow and to not trust anyone including his fellow FBI agents.

FBI agent Damon Wolfe cannot believe what he is hearing. His mentor and reason for being in the NY FBI office is dead and his daughter is missing. Four years ago, Damon and Sophie came together for one night of solace and life-affirming passion over the death of a mutual friend. They never contacted each other again, but now Damon knows he has to find Sophie and help her.

Sophie does not know if she can trust Damon, but as the bullets start flying, they flee together to follow Sophie’s father’s clues and hopefully solve his murder and eliminate the threat to Sophie’s life.

The plot is an intricate puzzle and has a lot of players that need to be kept straight. Besides Damon and Sophie, you are introduced to Bree and Wyatt, who are members of the five from Quantico. Sophie’s father had a lifetime group of friends from Yale that may be involved in his death and his job as head of the Organized Crime Unit also brought in several players. Keeping everyone straight was my only problem while reading this book. Other than that, it was a surprise for me when all the pieces where discovered.

Damon and Sophie’s chemistry was intense and pretty much instantaneous from their one-night-stand four years ago. While on the run, they get to know more about each other’s pasts and families. It brings them closer and their relationship builds from there. The sex is hot, but not explicit and well balanced with the feelings of loss and fear during other parts of the story.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series and getting to know more about the other friends from Quantico.