Category Archives: Mystery

Board Stiff by Annelise Ryan

Board Stiff


ORDER A COPY: Board Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries)

Publisher: Kensington Books
Publishing Date: March 4, 2013
Paperback: 368 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Sorenson, Wisconsin’s deputy coroner Mattie Winston is back on the job. . .in a nursing home examining the body of Bernie Chase–the now former president of the Twilight Home’s board of directors–who is covered in a powder used to turn liquids to solids. The home’s residents are certain Bernie was offing the patients who cost him too much. . .and the patient that found him can’t remember a thing.


Mattie Winston has returned to her job as the Deputy coroner. Mattie had quit to fan the flames of a relationship with her investigative partner, Det. Steve Hurley a few months ago, but after they finally got to create a bonfire, the flames were doused when Hurley’s ex-wife—wife—soon-to-be ex-wife…whatever, showed up with a fifteen-year-old kid which she claimed was Hurley’s. Thankfully, Mattie’s replacement at the coroner’s office turned out to be allergic to formaldehyde allowing Mattie to return to work while Hurley figures out how to handle his new fatherhood.

But returning to the job means, Mattie is available to be dragged by Irene Keller over to the Twilight Retirement Home to check out the suddenly dead body of the owner, Bernard Chase. Nothing about the body screams accidental death and Mattie has a whole building full of suspects. Rumor has it that Bernie was killing off the bedridden clients once their care started becoming too costly so none of the residents are too sad to see Bernie kick off.

As if the list of those wanting to see Bernie go bye-bye isn’t long enough, there is a soon to be ex-wife and a secret mistress, as well as an unknown silent partner to find and add to the list of suspects.

Meanwhile, Mattie is getting dragged into her sister’s marital problems when her inappropriate and annoying brother-in-law is tossed out of the house after he made bad investments and lost all the family’s money without mentioning it to Mattie’s sister. So he pleads with Mattie to help get his family back, all without making one boob reference. He must be desperate.

Hurley and Mattie might have cooled things off for now “officially” due to Mattie returning as Hurley’s partner, but it seems no one informed their hormones and they find themselves squeezing in quickies whenever an opportunity or two or three presents itself.

Mattie needs to catch the killer while not getting caught with her pants down by her boss and friend, Izzy, or she’ll risk losing her job permanently this time.

THOUGHTS (w/ spoilers of previous books):
I like the humor mixed with the mystery which is presented in these Mattie Winston stories. You can’t help by like Mattie who is your average, everyday woman. She needs to get to the gym and lose weight but her addiction to all things calorically challenged gets in her way. Although she is not perfect, Hurley still very much in love/lust with Mattie.

The first few books teased about the sexual tension between Mattie and Hurley and an almost adolescent Mattie is constantly give us the “does he or doesn’t he like me.” At the end of book 4, Mattie gives up her job and finally jumps in bed with the very happy Hurley. Except, once the deed was done, there is a knock on the door and Steve’s wife (who he thought was his ex-wife but she never filed the papers) shows up with a daughter who she claimed was Steve’s and told him they had no place to live and could they stay with him for now. At that point I despaired that the next book would be all back and forth with Hurley and what to do about the wife, and Mattie and what to do about her job, anything to keep the two apart, and ending with Hurley ready to commit just as Mattie gets her job back. I was pleasantly surprised that Annelise Ryan didn’t torment us with such a bad plotline.

In Board Stiff, Mattie has just returned to her job while Steve sorts out his life. This is her first case back and she hasn’t seen Steve for a few months. She keeps indicating to Hurley that they need to keep their relationship professionally — although she keeps doing this while putting her clothes back on. So between quickies which are keeping us all entertained, we get an interesting investigation into the murder at the retirement home.

The Mattie Winston Mysteries are fun, lighthearted and not overly complicated murder plots, but they will keep you guessing and investigating. There are more changes in the future for Mattie and Hurley at the end of this story, and it will be interesting to see where they go in the next story.

Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

I venture over toward the group and ask Hurley if I can speak to him a moment. This earns me several looks of contempt, and one of the women goes so far as to voice her objection.

“Hey, wait your turn, missy!” she says. The woman is well built and attractive for her age with carefully coiffed, snow-white hair, hooker-red fingernails, and a carefully made up face. She is dressed in tight black slacks, a low-cut red blouse, and shiny red pumps, which strike me as inappropriate for a women her age until I see that she is sitting in a motorized wheelchair. Hell, the woman could wear six-inch stilettos if she wanted to because she doesn’t have to walk anywhere in them.

“I’ll give him back to you,” I say. “We work together and I just need to speak to him for a minute.”

Clearly she is not satisfied with my answer because she motors toward me, grabs my arm, and pulls me aside. “You need to make it quick, darling, because I’m working my best magic on this guy and right now he’s the only man in this facility who looks like he’s capable of sustaining a stiffy for any length of time. Hell, half these guys can’t even get a stiff, much less maintain one. I once tried to talk Bernie Chase into salting the food with Viagra, arguing that it would help with is safety record because it would keep some of these old fools from rolling out of bed. But he wouldn’t go for it and now I’m stuck with a bunch of limp noodles. Don’t let this wheelchair fool you. I’m not dead in that part of my body yet, and while I’m not saying it’s been a longtime since I last had sex, I do vaguely recall seeing a T-Rex thunder by during my post-coital haze, so I’m in need here, understand?”

“And you think you can score with the detective?” I say, barely suppressing a smile.

She then does something so shocking it makes me back up a step. First, she turns her wheelchair away from the others so that only I can see her face. She contorts her lips and pops both an upper and lower denture loose, letting them stick part way out of her mouth for a second before she sucks them back in. Then she leans in closer to me and wiggles her carefully drawn eyebrows. “Play a skin flute once without the teeth and you got ‘em for life,” she whispers.

It takes a lot to shock me. If you work as a nurse in an ER for any length of time you see and hear things that would mortify most people. Despite that, Snow White’s comment makes me gasp and clamp a hand over my mouth.

Hurley hears it and looks over at us. “Did Gwen just confess?” he asks with half a grin.

“Not to murder,” I say.

Gwen gives me a smug smile and motors back over to Hurley. “I’ll share everything I know with you,” she says, stroking his arm. “You come back and find me when you’re done talking to the big-boned blonde.”

I see Hurley’s mouth twitch and know he’s trying to suppress a smile.

Horns of the Devil by Marc Rainer


ORDER A COPY: Horns of the Devil: A Jeff Trask Legal Thriller

Publisher: Createspace
Publishing Date: December 6, 2012
Paperback: 250 Page

Rating: 5 stars


The beheaded body of an ambassador’s son is dumped on the curb in front of his father’s embassy just blocks from the White House. Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask and an FBI task force are called upon to solve the murder. Their search for the killers leads to the MS-13, a hyper-violent gang from El Salvador, but Trask and his team soon learn that someone else is also tracking their suspects, and with deadly efficiency. When Trask himself becomes a target, he realizes that he is caught in a cross-fire between two of the most ruthless organizations in the western hemisphere. Author Marc Rainer brings more than three decades of investigative and prosecutorial experience to this follow-up to his hit novel “Capital Kill.” “Horns of the Devil” provides a view into one of the most deadly organized crime threats facing the United States today, and takes the reader on a gripping ride through murder investigations complicated by Washington politics and international intrigue.


In the thrilling follow up to Capital Kill, former USDA now Officer Timothy Wisniewski is called to investigate a call about a man injured. He certain was. In fact, he has been decapitated. The body is that of the teenaged son of Juan Carlos Lopez-Portillo, the Ambassador from El Salvador. His body was dumped in front of the embassy to leave a message, but the question is what message and from whom?

Soon Det. Dixon Carter Dix, FBI Agent Barry Dorez and USDA Jeff Trask are all heading the new task force to find out who is behind the death of an Ambassador’s son.

All evidence starts pointing toward two very aggressive, rival drug gangs originating from California made up of El Salvadorians, the MS-13 and the M-18, who have each staked out territory in and around D.C. As the body count climbs for both of the gangs, some of the kills start to look too professional for gang hits and the Task Force needs to worry if they are in the middle of an open gang war or there is someone else trying to escalate the gang violence between the two factions, and the need to put a stop to it before the violence spills out into the streets of D.C.

THOUGHTS:

Another great thriller by Marc Rainer. I enjoy this group of characters and the way they work together in their respective departments to solve the case.

We are along for the ride with both the investigators and the killers but just like our investigators until there are enough pieces to put together, we can’t figure out the whys and wherefores of what is happening.

With an author who doesn’t hesitate to harm a character, either major or minor, it keeps you on your toes wondering if the killers might just win this time.

Mixed all together it was an intriguing story with great characters, in real danger and like any good thriller, it kept you guessing until the very end.

If you love a good thriller, I recommend you giving this new author a chance.

Received a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

Lynn Trask drove south on Maryland highway 5 toward Waldorf. She hadn’t really said anything to Jeff before leaving. She had left a short message on his office voicemail, knowing that he’d probably never check it. He’d stay in the task force bullpen or in the conference room until it dawned on him that it was past time to leave. The voicemail would cover her if he bothered to ask. He’d check her cubicle an see that her purse was gone, and then he’d figure it out.

He IS a freakin’ genius, after all. That’s why he’s right 99 percent of the time, and why he was asking questions about Armando’s killer again in front of te squad, even after I’d figured it out. GOD, he pissed me off sometimes always analyzing, re-analyzing. Sometimes I think I married one of those Vulcans from Star Trek. Logic, logic, and more logic, with a memory like a damned computer. When he’s focused on something like this, I can’t break into his hard drive, even when I’m helping input data. I’m right about Armando’s murder, damn it. It all makes too much sense to be wrong. “Can’t afford to assume.” DAMMIT. He might as well have been cross-examining me on the witness stand. It’s not an assumption; it’s a solid inference based on proof.

She stopped at a shopping center when she reached the Saint Charles subdivision. Boo and Nikki were almost out of dog food. She picked up a forty-pound bag of the expensive stuff, and continued the debate with herself as she pushed the cart back to her car.

Calm down. You know he didn’t mean anything personal by asking everyone else about it. He probably agrees with you and doesn’t want it to look like he’s playing favorites. No, he’s really weighing other possibilities and letting the chips fall where they may, even with his own wife. It’s still not personal, though; he’s just doing his job, and the one he’s so good at. That concentration will stay focused until he solves this, then he’ll be human again. GOD, he pissed me off sometimes. He’ll miss dinner fore sure. He can find his own tonight.

She turned into the cul-de-sac marked Amwich Court and pulled into the driveway of the house at he end. Throwing the sack of dog food over her shoulder, she opened the door to the split-foyer entrance and headed downstairs. She filled the bowls and walked to the sliding glass doors, which opened onto the patio in back. She pulled one side open and paused at the screen door, seeing the two happy faces and wagging tails on the other side. She couldn’t help but smile and felt her mood improving.

“Hi, girls. Mama’s home. Ready for dinner?”

The low growl from Boo caught her by surprise.

“What’s the matter, Boo?”

She knew as she asked that she should turn to look behind her, but that realization came too late. A large gloved hand covered her face, and she had time for only one thought before she blacked out.

Chloroform!

Lucky Stiff by Annelise Ryan

Lucky Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries #4)


ORDER A COPY: Lucky Stiff (Mattie Winston Mysteries)

Publisher: Kensington Books
Publishing Date: March 4, 2013
Paperback: 384 pages

Rating:  4 stars


It’s Christmas Day in the sleepy town of Sorenson, Wisconsin, but instead of unwrapping presents, deputy coroner Mattie Winston is at the burnt remains of a house, where a charred body has been found. The victim is none other than Jack Allen—a paraplegic who recently won a huge casino jackpot. Upon closer inspection, Mattie and detective Steve Hurley are convinced Jack was murdered to steal his winnings, giving the phrase Black Jack a whole new meaning.

But as Mattie investigates, even her cutting-edge forensic skills keep coming up short in a case with as many suspects as twists. After her odds-on-favorite turns up dead, Mattie and Hurley must race to find a killer before another victim cashes in his chips


Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston has been re-assigned as the liaison between the ME’s office and the police. This new promotion has been a joy and a torture. She gets to work all her cases directly with Det. Steve Hurley, the one man who has gotten her hormones working overtime since her divorce. Although they are now constantly together, their respective jobs require a certain personal distance. This means simply that Mattie can’t have the one man she wants the most.

Their current case involves a paraplegic named Jack Allen whose body is found in the charred remains of his house. It’s beginning to look like a case of arson. It appears that Jack has just won a huge jackpot at the local casino and he hasn’t kept that fact a secret. So that makes just about everyone in town a suspect. When an autopsy proves that Jack didn’t die from the fire, Hurley and Mattie need to sort through the facts to narrow down their killer.

While the investigation is keeping them on their toes, so is the building attraction between them. To Mattie there is no longer a question of whether or not Hurley wants more from her, but can she give up a job she loves and which challenges her so she can be with this man that sets her body aflame.

THOUGHTS:

I like the characters in this series. I like that Mattie Winston is an average, everyday woman. She’s got body issues and too much love for ice cream and pizza. She hates to exercise and she stress eats. A former RN, she now works for her friend Izzy who is the local coroner, and her medical background is a perfect compliment to Hurley’s police work.

After her husband, the local surgeon is caught cheating in the hospital where they both worked, Mattie has found herself attracted to Hurley. They have reached the point where it is no longer a of question of whether those feelings are reciprocated, but now that they have admitted their mutual desires, they are forbidden from pursuing the relationship so there isn’t any shadow of a doubt of coercion between the departments.

Now my only complaint in this series is that this is book four of the series and it is a first person narrative. We watched while Mattie drooled over Hurley with only his casual flirting with her in return so there is a lot of that “does he like me like I like him” angst.   We saw a building up of the attraction toward the end of book 3 when they suddenly become direct co-workers and can’t be together personally. Now in book 4 we finally know for certain that Hurley returns Mattie’s affections but because of the rules they can’t decide what’s more important, being together or working together. From where we left off, I can guess how book 5 will leave us hanging still further and (again just me guessing) how book 6 might also continue to drag out how Hurley and Mattie can’t be together. I’m all for building the sexual tension but come on now you can still have a good story with them together as a couple.  It is one thing to drag it out for as long as possible in a YA book, but we’re all adults.  Let’s work this out.

Mattie is the character whose bread will never fall butter side up, (but she’ll eat it anyway) in a very “I Love Lucy” way.  She’s the character who will be locked out of her house in her underwear, or do something embarrassing when she thinks she’s alone, only to find there was a camera or a two-way mirror with people watching her.  It makes for a lot of entertaining situations.

This is not a heart pounding thriller, but the puzzle solving is very entertaining. If you like shows like CSI, you will enjoy the storytelling and the characters are very likeable and the situations Mattie keeps getting into will leave you laughing.

I enjoy the series, and wish it would come out more than once a year.

Received ARC from Kensington Books. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

“You seemed to be enjoying yourself,” Whitehorse says as I’m stuffing my money in my purse. “How about a one-hundred-dollar voucher so you can come back and play on us?”

Feeling like I’ve hit the proverbial jackpot, I’m about to agree when Hurley speaks up.

“Thanks for the offer, but we can’t accept any gratuities. It might be construed as a conflict of interest.”

I realize Hurley is right and pout. Whitehorse shrugs and looks at me; his dark eyes are smoking. “Perhaps you’d like to come back sometime on your own dime, then. I’d love to show you around the place. Maybe even take you out to dinner?”

I’m flattered; but before I can answer, Hurley once again pipes up.

“I’m not sure that would be wise, at least until our investigation is over.”

“Then we’ll make dinner a part of the investigation,” Whitehorse counters, undeterred. “I’ll provide you with some insight into the overall operations of the casino, and do the same with any employees of interest. I’ll even arrange some interviews for you. That way you can consider it an official part of the investigation.” He looks at me and winks. “At least for now.”

I like Joe Whitehorse. He’s handsome, witty, affable, and the smoke signals in his eyes are hinting at a possible end to my sexual drought. “Thanks,” I say, smiling at him. “That would be nice.”

Hurley shifts uncomfortably, communicating his irritation. Then he says, “Fine. Where and when should we get together?”

Joe and I both turn to stare at him.

“Well, we’re a team,” Hurley says, pointing from me to himself. “And we’ve been issued an edict to oversee one another’s investigative efforts. So if you two are going to have dinner and discuss our investigation, I need to be there.”

“I see,” Joe says.

Hurley has clearly thrown down a gauntlet and I wait, curious to see if Joe will take the challenge. It’s my own personal game of cowboys and Indians—and I’m kind of liking it.

“Okay, then,” Joe says. “Why don’t you two plan on returning here tomorrow evening and I’ll bring the employee list and some files with me and go over them with you. We can meet at the restaurant next door. Does seven sound okay?”

“Seven will be fine,” Hurley says. His eyes are the color of cold steel and he’s wearing a smug smile, which irritates me.

We part company from Joe; on the way out to Hurley’s car, I fume. As soon as we’re settled inside, I let him have it.

“You don’t think you’re fooling anyone with that whole team speech, do you?”

“What do you mean?” he says, sounding all innocent. “It’s true.”

“I think you know damn well that Joe’s original purpose for the meal wasn’t to discuss the investigation.”

“That’s what he said,” Hurley says, shrugging.

“Because you cornered him into it.”

“If that wasn’t his intent, then what was?”

“He was asking me out on a date.”

“He was? I’m sorry. I didn’t pick up on that.”

“The hell you didn’t.”

Die For Me by Cynthia Eden

Die for Me: A Novel of the Valentine Killer


ORDER A COPY: Die for Me: A Novel of the Valentine Killer

Publisher: Montlake
Publishing Date: February 12, 2013
Paperback: 358 pages

Rating: 5 pages


She thought her fiancé was the perfect man—until he turned out to be the perfect killer…

Katherine Cole is running for her life, desperate to escape the Valentine Killer—so-called because he stabs his victims through the heart and leaves them holding a telltale single red rose. Still he tracks her to New Orleans and begins carving a bloody path to her door. But this time, Katherine refuses to run any farther. This time, she’ll do anything to stop the madman she once loved, even trust the sexy cop promising to keep her safe…

Detective Dane Black never lets his emotions interfere with his job, even as the Valentine Killer surfaces in New Orleans to stalk his prey. But when Dane agrees to protect the killer’s ex-fiancée, Katherine Cole, he can’t ignore the passion kindling between them. After a single unforgettable night binds them body and soul, Dane knows he won’t rest until Katherine is safe in his arms—and the Valentine Killer is dead.

Katelynn thought she had the perfect life, a great job and a wonderful fiancé who loved her dearly. Then her life in Boston ended after her perfect man turned out to be a serial killer. She is still tormented by the knowledge that she never knew there was a monster that lived inside the man she loved. After walking in on the man now called The Valentine Killer, she was brought in and questioned by the Boston Police and she told them everything she knew, or thought she knew, about the man she called Michael. But they were never able to find him.

Three years later, she is living in New Orleans, with a new look and a new name. She now answers to the name of Katherine Cole. She thinks she is finally regaining control of her life when her nightmare starts again. A woman has been murdered, and she is found clutching one red rose.

Although it jeopardizes her new life, Katherine goes to the New Orleans Police Dept. to help them catch Valentine. When she approaches Det. Dane Black, he is concerned that Katherine is involved with the murders. How else could she know so much about the murder scenes? As he finds out more about Katherine and her life in Boston, he is convinced that Valentine is focusing on women who look like Katherine and this time, she might just become one of his victims if Dane isn’t quick enough.

Katherine will do whatever is necessary to help keep more women from becoming victims of this killer. While Katherine has never forgotten Valentine, Valentine has never forgotten the only woman he ever loved, and he is watching and waiting for an opportunity to be with his Kat again.

THOUGHTS:

This was a nail biting thriller. It is not often that I get to read a thriller that just keeps me guessing. I think I had everyone guilty at one point or other during the story.

There was also an interesting thought throughout this story in that our killer was in love with and absolutely obsessed with our heroine, and Det. Black falls for Katherine and becomes obsessed with her. So what is the difference between the killer and the cop if they are both so obsessed with Katherine. A very interesting point.

On the romance scale, I’d only give it a 3 1/2 . I really wasn’t feeling it. Dane’s obsessive interest seemed to come too quickly and although they have sex, it is more of a quick, lust filled coming together with little foreplay. I usually enjoy the dance that Cynthia’s hero and heroine do before they come together, especially that first time, so I would say the focus on this story is more the thriller than the romance.

This story takes off from page 1 and never slows down. I would definitely recommend picking up a copy.


Favorite Scene:

It wouldn’t have been fair to lead the guy on, not when she couldn’t make herself feel anything for him.

But then, she hadn’t felt very much in the past few years. Half the time, it seemed as if she were wrapped in some kind of fog, moving slowly through life.

You felt something when you were with the detective. The whisper slid through her mind. Katherine swallowed and turned toward the stairs. Right then, she didn’t want to think too much about the dark and dangerous detective. Instead, she wanted—

She came to an abrupt stop.

There were roses on the stairs.

The breath froze in Katherine’s chest.

Once upon a time, roses had been her favorite flowers. Then she’d learned just what Michael had been doing with the roses. Buying a dozen roses…then leaving one with his victim and bring the remaining eleven to her.

He brought them to me after each kill.

Her cheeks were wet now. Her hands were shaking.

And there were fucking roses on her stairs. In my house. “No,” Katherine whispered. This could not be happening.

But there was something beside the roses. A small box. It almost looked like a candy box from one of those fancy chocolate shops that she’d seen in the French Quarter a few times. Slender, long…

She was walking toward the box. She should be getting the hell out of there, but it was as if she were being pulled forward, forced toward that box.

I’ll look inside. It will just be chocolate. Trent could have left the candy and the flowers when I wasn’t looking. He dropped them off when he was here earlier and I was getting my purse.

It didn’t have to be from Valentine.

But he always sent me flowers after each death. She just hadn’t realized that fact until after it was too late. He’d sent her eleven roses, and his victim—each time his victim had the twelfth rose.

Her breath sawed out of her lungs as her gaze locked on those roses. Helplessly she began to count them.

One, two, three…

The scent of the roses was sickly sweet.

Four, five, six…

There were thorns on the roses. Thorns that would draw blood.

Seven, eight, nine…

Her heart beat so hard that it hurt her chest.

Ten. Eleven. Dear God, only eleven.

The twelfth rose was missing.

She picked up the box. Nearly dropped it because she was so scared and nervous. Then her shaking fingers lifted the lid off the box. Rose petals fell onto the steps. Then she screamed, a long, desperate sound, but one that also burned with rage because the sick bastard was back. He was playing games with her—with his victims—all over again.

There was no chocolate in the box.

She dropped it. Jumped back.

Katherine whirled and ran for the door. Get away, get away, get away.

Because the nightmare of her past had found her once more.

Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan

Wild Encounter


ORDER A COPY: Wild Encounter

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publishing Date: September 9, 2012
eBook: 190 pages

Rating: 5 stars


A wildlife release mission in Africa turns deadly when the convoy is hijacked by smugglers, and veterinarian Clare Delaney is taken hostage. Terrified for her life and her animals, the intrepid Clare establishes a rapport with the man she believes is the criminals’ leader, and reluctantly finds herself under his protection…and falling hard for the enigmatic man.

Alpha-to-the-max Simon deVries sees right through his sexy captive’s attempt to seduce her way to freedom. So when their simmering attraction flares into true passion, it takes them both by surprise. Now he’s torn between completing his secret mission and letting her escape without telling her his true identity. He knows if he lets her go, he will be risking his career, his life…and his heart.


Wildlife Veterinarian Clare Delaney thought her job was almost over. All they had to do was transport the pack of wild dogs to their new location. She decided to travel with them in the transport truck to make sure they didn’t wake up from the sedation too early. Once they were dropped off and acclimated to their new surroundings, she could return home to Boston. What she hadn’t expected was to have the transport intercepted and hijacked with her aboard.

She might not know why the hijackers took her dogs, but she does understand animal behavior and she knows that the man in front of her is the Alpha of this group and that he doesn’t seem to want to hurt her…his cohorts are another story. Maybe she can befriend the Alpha and get him to help her escape, even if she has to seduce him into it. It seems wrong for her to really want to seduce a man who in reality kidnapped her, but the air sizzles whenever they are together.

Clare escapes her captors by her cunning and sheer determination, and six months later she returns to Africa to locate her wild dog pack and finally bring them to their new location. Her courage falters as everything about this trip reminds her of her hellish week of captivity, especially when the Alpha shows up at her camp and introduces himself as Simon deVries, and she learns that he is not the man that she thought he was.

Although she is excited to see him again, Clare is now plagued by the thought that Simon is now just using her, a living eyewitness to the smugglers’ actions, to ferret out the others, and that he didn’t feel the spark between them. Clare feels like she’s being watched, but will Simon protect her again or leave her helpless, live bait for his trap?

THOUGHTS:

This was an intense story. This was the type of story that affected my sleep because I just couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to happen next, and I hopped out of bed the next morning to pick it up again. It was absolutely gripping.

It is always a question when you find a new author, and a new publishing house, of just how far and how dark the story will go. A story of a pretty young woman kept hostage by a group of lowlife criminals could get really violent. I will say that our heroine Clare takes more than one beating at the hands of her captors, but the author keeps the story out of the darker ranges.

Clare is a very strong heroine and doesn’t just sit around wringing her hands waiting for someone to come save her, much to the frustration of Simon, who is trying to keep her safe, since the others in the group would just as soon kill her since they think she’s a threat to them. She keeps a level head and doesn’t just jump to conclusions without thinking things through.

I downloaded a review copy of this book, which is like a library download and it will disappear after a few weeks. I will be buying my own copy of this story. It is definitely a story which stays with you and one I will enjoy re-reading.

Received ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

“Either go or speak,” she whispered. “But I can’t sit here with you in silence.” Not without going insane. Or doing something completely inappropriate.

The silence grew heavy. As though he were taking a moment to celebrate her admission. “What about the dogs?”

“Just…whisper. That will do.” It would have to.

The dim light thickened. And lengthened. The air grew stuffy.

“This reminds me of my childhood,” he muttered. “My younger brother and I used to pretend we were part of Scott’s expedition across the Antarctic.”

She peered at him incredulously.

“Adam and I built an igloo in the back yard one winter, and we’d huddle in it and imagine trekking by foot across the ice. It was freezing.”

Her lips parted. He had a brother?

It was a small thing, not the world’s most fascinating detail, but everything she knew about him was so removed from personal, separated by six degrees of deception, it felt like a gift. But the way she automatically clung to the detail was enough to make her fight it.

“Cowboys and Indians too pedestrian for the deVries boys?” she whispered to the shape beside her. And suddenly she was imagining him as a bright, grey-eyed little boy with a talent for finding trouble. Her heart molded itself around the visual.

He leaned closer so he could lower his voice. His heat amplified. “We were pretty serious kids. And we were way into adventure.”

“But…you risk your life every day. Why?”

“Because I believe in what I’m doing.” He must have sensed her frown. “Do you find that hard to understand? You’ve done the same thing for WildLyfe. For those dogs. You’d gladly risk your life for them. I’ve never forgotten that desolate, accusing sound you made when you thought we’d killed your dogs. He grew quiet and her heart thumped harder.

“That was a bad day,” she admitted.

“Weren’t they all bad days?” he asked quietly.

No. Not all of them.

When she didn’t answer, he glanced at her. That’s when she noticed it was getting lighter outside. Sunrise came fast in Zambia. And early. One minute it was black as midnight, the next it was a paling blue.

“I knew the dogs and I were suffering together.” She took a deep breath. “And then they were gone. I was completely alone. Even you were gone.”

He frowned. “I wasn’t.”

“You were to me. Because I though you’d done it, and you—and the dogs—were all I had.”

Intimate Enemies by Joan Swan

Intimate Enemies (Covert Affairs #1)


ORDER A COPY: Intimate Enemies (Covert Affairs Series)

Publisher: self-published
Publishing Date: July 18, 2012
eBook: 313 pages

Rating: 5 stars and 1 Xanax (Why? You’ll see)


She is on a quest for answers; answers that could just get her killed.

Six months after the mysterious yacht explosion that killed Cassie Christo’s mother and stepbrother, authorities still have no answers to the cause. Searching for closure, Cassie returns to her childhood home on the Pacific Coast of Baja, Mexico, where she launches her own investigation into the accident. She never expected to find an adversary in the man who had once touched her heart with kindness in her darkest moment.

Rio’s been fantasizing about reconnecting with Cassie for months. But not here and sure as hell not now. As an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he’s working the biggest sting operation in all of northern Mexico, and he definitely doesn’t have time for the wild attraction he feels for Cassie.

Not only is his cover on the line, so is his heart. Because as the end of a yearlong operation draws closer, Rio knows if he tells Cassie the truth about who and what he is, it won’t only jeopardize his mission, it may result in him losing her forever. And if he doesn’t, his lies and deception could get them both killed.


Rio Santana has been undercover for over a year now. Rising to the top of Saul Flores’s smuggling ring and becoming Saul’s right-hand man. Everything is finally coming together and they’ll be taking Saul down as soon as he makes this last big deal. Maybe then Rio will go back to San Diego to see Cassie Christo again. Holding her during her mother and stepbrother’s funerals, grieving their loss with her, he felt a connection with her that he’s never felt before. One he wants to explore further.

That is until she walks into her mother’s house in Baja, Mexico, looking beautiful, sexy and truly pissed off. She’s demanding answers into her family’s deaths. As she goes head to head with her stepfather, she’s starting to make Saul nervous and that makes Saul dangerous. Try as he might, Rio can’t get Cassie to understand the danger she is in, not just from Saul and his “business” partners, but from the warring Muerta and Diablo gangs both determined to take over the area, and both gangs would love to kidnap the beautiful, wealthy Cassie. But Cassie can’t see past her anger and her need to remove Saul from her family home, to see the dangers surrounding her.

As the danger increases, Rio keeps closer to Cassie, but that is doing nothing to save them both from the desires growing between them, and Rio knows that to give in to those desires, with all the lies between them, would ruin any future they might have.

Like the gangs in her story, Joan Swan is trying to take over as the new boss of the romance genre, and she’s doing a hell of a job of it.

In giving us a heroine with ten times as much bravery as she has common sense, I don’t know who was more stressed out, me or Rio; in giving us a hero who we know is good, who Cassie knows in her heart is a good man, but for her safety as well as his own, he has to keep up the pretense of being dangerous and dirty; and in taking us down to Baja, Mexico which is presented as a hotbed of gang wars, a corrupt police force, and Saul Flores, the small time gangster trying to take over as the biggest smuggler around, Joan keeps the danger level and tensions high. And speaking of tension, there is such incredible sexual tension between Rio and Cassie, which culminates into the some of most incredible love scenes I have read. Yowza!

This was an exciting, dangerous, sexy story which just didn’t stop from beginning to end. This is definitely a must read for everyone’s list.

Now, I think it’s time to go take a Xanax and lie down. Maybe go read a nice quiet vampire book…

Won a copy from Joan Swan’s giveaway. Yay!


To enter our giveaway just leave your name and e-mail and verify that you are healthy enough to take on Joan’s intensely thrilling story!


Favorite Scene:

“Thanks for the heads-up. Wouldn’t want to look any more stupid than I actually am.”

“Don’t even. If you don’t think I can recognize a smart man when I see one, regardless of who he works for or in what capacity, you’re not a very good judge of character.”

Pleasure burned across his chest, and, crap, it felt so damn good. He was starting to think being with her all day wasn’t such a great idea after all.

“Quite the backhanded compliment,” he said.

“Aren’t you cynical this morning?” She pulled at the donut, revealing the raspberry filling, and hummed. “I knew I’d need this extra sweetness in my day as soon as I saw you. This is my favorite.”

“You said the other one was your favorite.”

“No. I said that was one of my favorites. This is my absolute favorite.”

She closed her eyes and licked the jelly off the donut. The sight of her pink tongue against the red sweetness, the slow sweep, the pleasure on her face, drove a violent spear of lust straight through Rio’s body, where it lodged dead center between his legs. He gripped the bar hard. Then she closed her lips around the sugary dough, and, God help him, she sucked at what remained.

By the time she slid the rest of the bite into her mouth, Rio had stopped breathing. His other hand curled into a fist, his nails clawing his palm.

“Since I don’t indulge often,” she said, licking her fingertips, “I can’t keep myself from devouring the first. Once the edge is off my craving, I’m able to take my time and savor. So I save the best for last.”

At some point, he’d refilled his lungs, though they weren’t functioning right. His mind envisioned scenarios of taking her hard and fast up against a wall, mouths fused, hands stroking, hips thrusting. Then laying her down on a bed to undress her, kiss every inch of her body, and love her slowly, thoroughly, making sure he lived up to every one of her back-arching, toe-curling, sheet-fisting fantasies.

“Want some?” Her sweet voice drifted through the sound of blood pounding in his ears.

He focused from his sexual haze in time to watch her scoop a finger full of raspberry filling from the donut in more of a show than an offer.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” Shit, he hadn’t meant to say that aloud. Nor had he meant to grab her wrist, but it was wrapped in his fingers.

Everything beyond that was deliberate. The way he pulled her hand to his lips. The way he took her finger into his mouth. The way he sucked the sweet-tart filling off her finger.

The way he grabbed her neck and pulled her mouth to his, sharing the electric tang of raspberry with her, tongue to tongue.

She moaned into his mouth. The flirtatious torture ended, and something entirely different began. Her lips softened, and her body relaxed. Rio knew he should resist, should pull back, but a deep part of him also needed it. Needed her.

Don’t Say A Word by Beverly Barton

Don't Say A Word


ORDER A COPY: Don’t Say a Word

Publisher: Zebra Romantic Suspense
Publishing Date: July 31, 2012
Paperback: 392 pages

Rating: 4 1/2 stars


One by one, they will die. He has waited patiently, planning their final moments. Their tortured screams, their pleas for mercy—all will be in vain.

Homicide detective Julia Cass has witnessed plenty of crime scenes. But the murder of a Chattanooga judge is shocking in its brutality. Teamed with FBI agent Will Brannock, Julia delves into an investigation that soon unearths more bodies—all mutilated in the same way, all left with a gruesome souvenir of a killer’s ruthless rage.

The only way to stop the slaughter is to predict the next victim. But when you’re dealing with vengeance at its most ruthless, one wrong move can make you a target…and the next word you utter could be your last.


When Homicide Detective Julia Cass transferred to the Chattanooga Police Department to be near her big brother, FBI agent J.D. Cass, she didn’t realize that she would be grabbing her first case on the way home from the airport and that she would be teamed up with her brother’s partner, Will Brannock. The guy looked more like a GQ model than an FBI agent, but once they get to the scene of the grizzly homicide, Will is all business.

The killer is definitely trying to send a message cutting out the tongues of his victims. He is exacting vengeance with these murders and Julia and Will need to figure out what the victims have in common if they will have any chance in catching the killer.

Another incredible murder mystery which will keep you on your toes. I don’t want to go into too much since the best part of murder mystery is to solve the crime along with the characters, so I don’t want to give anything away. From what I have read recently, I am definitely going to have to throw more thrillers into my TBR pile. :)

This is a well written, engrossing story with just a touch of attraction/romance between the main characters to keep things interesting. I usually have a problem when there are too many POVs in the story telling it usually drags the action down, but in this case it was mostly our two main characters and the killer, with only brief change overs to some of the other characters. Nothing that killed the momentum of the story.

Beverly Barton must have been watching a Matthew McConaughey movie when she wrote this story since the character of PI Max Hazard could only be cast by Mr. McConaghey, “Well, well, lawsy me, if it isn’t the prettiest little detective this side of San Diego…” “He grinned down at her, looking handsome as ever, all tall and broad-shouldered in his loose blue- and yellow-flowered Hawaiian shirt, flip-flops, and long khaki shorts. Charming and devil-may-care, Max had sun-bleached blond hair long enough to tuck behind his ears…”

I will say I only have it a 4 ½ stars since Beverly Barton’s writing is very descriptive, which although it is usually good story writing, but for a thriller I felt taking too much time, for example, to describe the decorating of the room where the murder took place, wasn’t really necessary and took your attention away from the important things, like the dead person in the room and the fact gathering. That added to the fact that it was 392 pages. Again, not that the story was not enjoyable and engrossing, but for a thriller, a description of “the furnishing screamed money” would have sufficed rather than the detailing of the damask used on the bedspread.

Well worth the read and Beverly Barton has a huge collection of other thrillers that you can grab.

Received ARC from Kensington Books. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

As she gathered up her clothes, she saw a UPS package sitting in the back window of her car. She hadn’t noticed it before, but she knew for a fact that it hadn’t been there when she’d left the boathouse earlier that day on her way to Audrey’s town house on Second Street.

Immediately alert, she unsnapped her holster and pulled out her weapon, her gaze quickly searching the yard and surrounding woods. She stared out over the swift current but detected no boats anywhere on the river. Who had put the package inside the Charger? And when? Where? Instinctively knowing it had something to do with the Tongue Slasher, she sheathed her gun, grabbed a pair of latex gloves, and snapped them on. Keeping a wary eye on the thick undergrowth alongside the riverbank, where Jasper was now sniffing out a squirrel, she opened the door and got her first good look at the package.

When she saw what was written on the front of the tan mailing envelope, she tensed and again searched her surrounding, PROVERBS 10:31 in black marker. The Tongue Slasher was sending them another message, one he wanted to make sure they received in person. He had been inside her car. The idea made her stomach turn over.

Taking care, she picked up the package and examined the wrapping. It was a used UPS box, left unsealed. When she opened the end, she saw the DVD inside. Oh God, she hoped the killer hadn’t filmed the murders for them to watch. The sinking sensation in her stomach, however, and her sixth sense, told her that was exactly what they were going to find recorded on that DVD.

Pulling out her cell phone, she punched in Will’s number. He picked up on the second ring. “Yeah, Cass? What’s up?”

“Where are you?”

“At home.”

“How quick can you get to my place?”

“What’s wrong? You okay?”

“Yes, but guess what the killer left in my car?”

“Oh my God, what? Not part of a tongue?”

“A DVD with Proverbs 10:31 written on the front of the mailing envelope.”

“You sure he’s not still around there? He could be watching you.”

“I’ve been looking, believe me. I don’t think anybody’s out here creeping around. Jasper would’ve let me know a long time ago. He doesn’t like strangers.”

“I’ll be there in ten minutes, fifteen tops.”

Julia carried the DVD inside, very carefully handling the evidence. Forensics would have to dust it for prints, but her hunch told her they weren’t going to find anything usable in court. If the perp had managed to clean up the gory crime scenes without leaving a trace of himself, he sure as hell wasn’t going to be careless enough to leave fingerprints on a package that he delivered in person to the police.

Nowhere to Run by Nancy Bush

Nowhere to Run


We are giving away a copy of Nowhere to Run, courtesy of Kensington Books. Giveway ends Friday, August 10th. 18 years and older. Open to U.S. and Canada residents. 


ORDER A COPY: Nowhere to Run

Publisher: Zebra
Publishing Date: July 31, 2012
Paperback: 376 pages

Rating: 5 stars


Some Secrets Will Follow You To Your Grave…
When Liv Dugan ducks out of work for lunch, it’s just an ordinary day. When she returns, she stumbles onto a massacre. All her colleagues at Zuma Software have been shot. Only luck has left Liv unscathed, and that might be running out.

Liv suspects the shootings are tied to her past–and to the package she recently received from her long-dead adoptive mother. Sensing she’s being followed, Liv jumps into a stranger’s car and orders him to drive. Her “hostage” complies, listening carefully as her story unwinds. Skeptical at first, he ultimately begins to believe all Liv’s fears are justified.

Together, Liv and her unlikely confidant try to uncover the truth about her adoptive family, her birth parents, and her troubled childhood. Because somewhere in Liv’s past is a secret worth killing for, and a nightmare she can never outrun.


In a word…thrilling. I am not going to write too much on this book since this was actually a great murder mystery and I don’t want to leak ANYTHING.

It has been some time since I have actually had real hard-to-put-down thriller. Most times I will guess within the first 100 pages where the plot is going, but this one really kept me wanting to read more. There was just enough romance to sweeten the story and bond our main characters.  (So the men can read it too)

The worst part of this book was the fact that I zipped through the first 200 pages, but when the clock struck midnight and I still have 178 pages left, I had to give it up for the night. Like I am going to sleep with a good book running through my head. Ugh!!

If you like an engrossing murder mystery, I HIGHLY recommend picking up Nowhere to Run. I put in a request for an ARC of the 2nd book Nowhere to Hide which comes out August 31st, as soon as I finished this one. Really looking forward to it.

Received ARC from Kensington Books. Thank you.


To be entered in our giveaway, just tell us your favorite mystery author.


Favorite Scene:

Tried hard to find a good scene which didn’t give anything away…

“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” she muttered, more to herself than him.

“You can still get out of this,” he said after a moment. “No harm, no foul. And, if you’re as innocent as you claim–” he started to suggest.

If?” she cut in.

“–then you should contact the police right now. Let them take care of this. They’re good at it.”

She shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t even make you believe me!”

“I believe you. I do”

“Oh, bullshit.”

“I believe you think someone’s after you, and that’s why we’re here now,” he corrected himself. “You might even be right. The police could help you. Or, if you’d let me, I could help you.”

“You could help me,” she said without inflection. “And why would you do that?”

“Because I think you need help.”

“You’re not a very good liar, Auggie.”

“I’m a very good liar,” he disagreed with an edge, as if it were a matter of pride. “But I’m not lying to you.”

“What kind of name is Auggie anyway? A nickname? Is it short for something?”

His lips compressed. “Are you going to untie me? Take me to the bathroom?”

She pulled the .38 from her backpack, looked at it a moment, then walked his way. He leaned back at the sight of the gun, but she merely lay back on the counter before untying his chair from the oven handle. When she released his feet, she quickly stepped back, snatching up the gun again and leveling it at him. His hands were still tied behind his back and he gave her a look that said she was half-crazy if she thought he was a threat. She felt dark amusement at that but held it inside. After a moment, she undid the twine wrapped around his hands, then, sweeping up the gun again once he was completely free, he eyed her thoughtfully. “You’re not going to shoot me.”

“I don’t want to,” she said.

“You won’t.”

He sounded so positive it rankled her.

Invitation to Scandal by Bronwen Evans

Invitation to Scandal


ORDER A COPY: Invitation to Scandal

Publisher: Brava
Publishing Date: May 1, 2012
Paperback: 310 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Plagued by scandalous rumors, Rheda Kerrich will stop at nothing to restore her reputation and make an honest living for herself—and she’s determined to do it without a husband. But times are hard, and smuggling is a risky though profitable trade. So when a dashing agent for the English government catches her in the act, she desperately resists his charms and conceals her illicit profession. Until she realizes he may be the key to her ultimate freedom—and unbridled passion…

Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, has never had trouble beguiling the ladies of Kent. When his search for “Dark Shadow,” a cunningly elusive smuggler, leads him to alluring and headstrong Rhe, her objections to his amorous advances merely incite a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. Soon, they’ll find the very secrets driving them apart could ensnare them in a love they can’t escape.


Miss Rheda Kerrich is secretly known by the local villagers of Deal as the smuggler, Dark Shadow. Rhe gives the smuggled goods to the local widows to sell to support themselves since many of the men have died at sea. With her own smuggling profits, she has paid off all of her father’s massive debts and is managing to run of the estate. Now that her brother’s is old enough to step up as the head of the household, Rhe is hoping to end her life as a smuggler and concentrate on her horse breeding which will allow her to remain an independent woman.

After years of watching her mother’s unrequited love for her unfaithful father, a man who tossed away his fortune on mistresses and leaving nothing for his family, Rhe has vowed never to enter into matrimony, and the whispered scandal that surrounds her, keeps her away from those prospects anyway.

Rufus Knight, the Viscount Strathmore, is investigating the smuggler known as Dark Shadow. He believes Dark Shadow is a traitor who is smuggling more than just goods to France. If he can bring Dark Shadow to justice, he may be able to clear his father’s name. The Strathmore name has been stained since his own father was wrongly accused of treason, and it has been Rufus’s sole mission to clear the family honor.

When Rufus arrives in Deal and finds Rhe trapped by a barrel of smuggled brandy, he decides to seduce her for information to find the notorious smuggler.

The story itself was very exciting with several antagonists that we knew and several that we did not. There is even an intriguing set up for the next novel.

I liked the character of Rheda. She was smart, headstrong and determined to fulfill her dreams, no matter what she had to do. She even refused to use her neighbor and friend for his title and fortune after her father’s death when he proposed to her, refusing to taint his good name with her scandal. She opted for smuggling rather than the loveless marriage.

My hesitation on this story was the character of Rufus. Rufus is determined to clear his family name. He has a well-bred daughter of a friend picked out to be his future wife; a woman who is mousy and quiet and who could not possibly cause any further blemishes on his family honor. YET – Rufus is a well known womanizer, so much that even Rheda who never spends time in society and lives in the country knows exactly who he is and his well-earned notorious reputation. Soooo, I guess it is okay to be man-whore in regency England and still clear your family name, as long as you have a proper wife picked out?? Not only has Rufus been traumatized by his father’s scandal, but he also fell in love with a woman who turned out to be working for the wrong side, and who stabbed him and left him for dead.

When he first sees Rheda she is in an old dress so he assumes she is a local girl and since she looks in her early 20s, he assumes she must be willing to join him for a little “fun,” and he takes a lot of liberties with her, putting his hand up her dress to massage the feeling back into her legs, “oh and as long as I’m here” keeps reaching up; and even going as far as pulling the front of her dress down and playing with her breasts. Seems that that is okay to do when you’re a Lord, even though the local girl keeps saying “stop it!” When he finds out who Rheda really is, he quickly believes all the whispers around her, basically because he wants to get her in bed and he certainly doesn’t want to marry a woman surrounded by scandal. So to get what he wants, it is better for him to believe she a wanton woman so his behavior towards her is okay.

Whenever they take a step forward in the story, Rufus then takes two steps back constantly reminding himself of the last woman he trusted and no matter how much he appreciates Rheda’s spirit or her determination, he is still just looking to get under her skirt and he looks down on her and jumps quickly to the wrong conclusion.

I had high hopes for this story when I started, but the downfall in this story is the character of Rufus. He isn’t my idea of a hero. I would like a chance to read Invitation to Ruin and the next story due out in this series since the other characters were great and the mysteries of who was the real danger to Rheda and the Town was intriguing. Rufus’s attitude rubbed me the wrong way.

Received ARC from Kensington Books.


Favorite Scene:

“How is it that I find you in the middle of a field with a barrel, obviously full of something, brandy perhaps, and pinned against this oak tree?”

She struggled to form a reply that wouldn’t sink her deeper into trouble. “Just unlucky, I guess.” This time she could not hide her grimace.

“Don’t be flippant. I can see you are in considerable pain. I’m here to help you.”

Her mouth dried. Lord Strathmore’s considered gaze roamed her person before he lowered his eyes to study the heavy cask, obviously trying to work out how to move it without causing her additional harm.

He was very close. He smelled of sweat, leather, and dust, decidedly masculine. He glanced at her and caught her stare. Gloved fingertips gently brushed her hair off her cheek. She turned her head away, but not before a pleasant shiver swept down her back. He did own the most arresting eyes. They declared his interest was decidedly back on her. He was pressing his advantage. She held her breath and prayed his fingers would not roam elsewhere.

She blushed at the effect his proximity was having on her. She had thought him a big man when he sat upon his stallion, but standing next to her, she realized he was enormous, well over six feet and all muscle. He stood taller than Daniel, and her brother was considered a tall man.

He crouched down and gripped the barrel with two large hands. “I look forward to a reward for my services.”

“A ‘thank-you’ will suffice.”

His lips curved into a wicked grin. “Surely, rescuing a damsel in distress is worth more than mere words?”

She tried to calm her racing heart lest he see how his threat unsettled her. She needed to shift his thoughts in a different direction. “I do not have any coin on me.”

He looked up at her. “You have very succulent lips. A kiss from them would be worth any amount of coin.”

She pressed back against the tree. His eyes betrayed him. He was trying to distract her. He was purposely taking her mind off the pain to come.

“That is not funny.” She scowled at him.

His laugh was rich and deep. And infectious.

“You think I am jesting,” he replied.

Tool Belt Defender by Carla Cassidy

Tool Belt Defender


ORDER A COPY: Tool Belt Defender (Harlequin Romantic Suspense)

Publisher: Harlequin
Publishing Date: January 1, 2012
Paperback: 224 pages

Rating: 3.5 stars


“It’s party time.”
That’s the “invitation” shoved under her door. It’s got Brittany Grayson fearing for her life…and her sanity. She’s sure the monster who once held her captive for months is dead, so why his chilling words in the note? His menacing face in the window? And why won’t anyone–even her lawmen brothers–believe that somehow he’s after her again?
Brittany just wants a normal, independent life in Black Rock. Romance is out of the question…although she’s okay as friends-with-benefits with Alex Crawford, her hunky, marriage-phobic contractor. Alex, a single dad, has his own good reasons not to fall for Brittany. But none of them matter when the race is on to find the killer who’s kidnapped her


Brittany Grayson survived being kidnapped by a serial killer. The Professional kept her locked in a cage for almost three months, each day promising her the “party” they would have when he finished collecting the rest of his victims. Now she is free, and home and safe, or is she? When she sees someone looking in her window one night, she isn’t sure if it is a figment of her stressed mind or a killer. She knows that The Professional was killed when she was rescued. So how could he be sending her notes and leaving her little gifts, unless there is a copycat killer on the loose who wants to complete The Professional’s failed party.

Alex Crawford is new to Black Rock. He left his law firm in Chicago to spend more time with his six year old daughter, Emily, and help heal after his wife’s death. When he meets his neighbor Brittany for the first time, there was an immediate attraction. Alex isn’t sure if he wants to be involved with anyone right now, but he falls into an easy connection between himself, Brittany and his daughter.

As Alex and Brittany try to navigate the new relationship that neither are sure they want right now, the danger from the copycat killer grows.

This is a sweet romance, and the little daughter Emily is an adorable character. If you are looking for a suspenseful thriller, you should look elsewhere. The killer was very obvious. The romance between Alex and Brittany was enjoyable so I would recommend this if you are looking with a nice, contemporary romantic story.

Received ARC from Netgalley.com, courtesy of Harlequin Books.


Favorite Scene:

He’d told her he was just interested in having a friend, some companionship to fill the lonely hours of the day, but after spending the evening with her, he recognized that he wanted more from her.

She was so different from the wife he’d lost, so filled with life and with that core of inner strength that radiated from her eyes. She drew him, stirring a simmering passion that he hadn’t expected.

“I was serious about that web page,” he said when they reached her porch. “I’d like to hire you to get one up and running for me.” They stopped at her door.

In the faint spill of light from a nearby streetlamp, her eyes glowed as she gazed up at him. “Are you sure you aren’t just trying to be nice?”

He grinned at her. “I’m a lawyer. When it comes to business I’m not nice—I’m a shark.”

She laughed, that low throaty sound that swirled warmth inside his belly. “Okay, then, why don’t I work something up tomorrow while you’re working on the deck and before you knock off for the day, we can talk about it?” She turned and unlocked her front door.

“Sounds like a plan.” He agreed.

“Thank you, Alex, for a terrific night.”

“No, thank you.”

For a long moment they remained standing far too close together, their gazes locked. He realized he intended to kiss her and saw the dawning realization take hold of her, as well.

He took a step toward her and she didn’t retreat. Instead she raised her chin, her lips parted slightly as if to welcome him.

He took the subtle invitation, gathering her into his arms as his mouth met hers. He’d intended only a sweet, soft good-night kiss, but her lips held a heat that transformed his intent, his initial desire.

Pulling her closer, he deepened the kiss, tentatively touching his tongue to hers. Her arms wrapped around his neck as she returned the kiss, leaning into him in surrender.

He wasn’t sure who broke the kiss, he or she, but they broke apart and she gave a shaky laugh. “I’m not used to my friends kissing me like that.”

“Sorry,” he replied. “I don’t usually kiss my friends that way.”

“Don’t apologize. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.”

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