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Friday, May 29, 2015

The Green-Eyed Monster (Part I)



By Kelly Bridgewater

Today, I want to talk about the green-eyed monster that slips out in every person’s life at some time. Lately, I have been dealing with him a lot. Mostly because of the success of some other writers, friends, and cousins. This is going to be tough to read. It is what has been on my heart for a while now. Please, don’t comment with hateful words. This is just my personal feelings. Think of it as a journal entry.

First, let me give you a little background on how the green-eyed monster crept into my life. I have a friend, who I won’t mention their names. They grew up in a wealthy neighborhood. You know the ones with huge houses, nice manicured lawns, and new cars in the driveway. Every Christmas, this friend received all the best toys on the market and wore name brand clothes. They attended an expensive private Christian school and went to church all their lives. On the way to college, they attended an expensive one and succeeded at their degree. They met the “perfect” guy, fell in love, and had the expensive glamorous wedding at the resort. They married, bought a home, and have the perfect life with the painless pregnancy.  Never a blimp in the road. Everything goes as plan. No struggles. Never having to work for anything.

But my story is a little different. I grew up with parents that moved every two years because we rented and my father kept using credit cards to buy what he wanted instead of paying the electric bill or the water bill. You do not know how embarrassing it is to run next door and ask to fill up five gallon camping containers for water because your father forgot to pay the water bill. My parents argued all the time. My mother promising to leave my father as soon as my little sister graduated from high school, which happened. I graduated from high school with dreams of going away for college, meeting the great Christian guy, and living the great life in a log cabin in the woods. But plans changed that. All through high school, I attended church and really stuck to God’s Word. I read it. I devoured the Word of God. I loved worship music. I couldn’t get enough. I stayed away from drugs, alcohol, and sex, even though my friends were doing all of them. I did not get invited to these parties because I was religious. They did not want to hang out with me at times, even ditched me at school dances because they wanted to go drink and get drunk. Not my thing. Oh, as a side note, they are now avid Christians with the perfect Christian wives and are the ones quoting Scriptures on Facebook. Funny, how that worked out.

When I applied for FAFSA (government aid) to attend college my senior year, they said I was getting no government help. I had to take out loans. The college I want to attend was $25,000 a year. I cried. My father made too much money but had no money to help me. I was devastated, so I went to IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis) to start my schooling. While there, I met some Christian college kids, and I started hanging out with them. I met my future husband. One night, we slipped up and had sex. A couple of months, I found out we were expecting my son, Elijah. We planned a wedding. Not expensive at all. My in-laws paid for everything because my parents didn’t have any money or refused to give it up. I’m shy when I meet people for the first time, so I didn’t speak up and mention that the whole wedding was not my taste. I allowed Michael to make all the choices. It was not my ideal wedding.

This is only the first part of the story. Return next Friday, May 15 and I will continue my narrative. Do not forget to return on Friday, May 22, where I tell you how I defeat or hold him at bay until he peeks his head up again.  

How does my story ring true with you? Are you ever visited by the green-eyed monster?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Richard Marby: Fatal Trauma



By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

When Dr. Mark Baker and Nurse Kelly Atkinson are held at the mercy of a dangerous gunman, the lives of every emergency room patient are at stake. At the end of the evening three men are dead. One of them is a police officer who couldn't be saved despite Mark's best efforts. The other two are members of the feared Zeta drug cartel.
Though the standoff is over, the killing is not, because when the drug cartel loses its members, revenge is not far behind. Facing an adversary whose desires is dark and efforts are ruthless, Mark finds himself under suspicion as a killer, yet still a potential victim. When he turns to his high school sweetheart, attorney Gwen Woodruff, for help, Kelly helplessly looks on, as she hides her own feelings for the good doctor.
At the height of the conflict, three questions remain: Who is the shooter? Who will the next victim be? And can Mark prove his innocence before the gun turns on him?

My Review:

Being a huge fan of suspense, I jumped on the chance to read Richard Marby’s Fatal Trauma. This was my first chance of reading his book. I was hoping it was the type of book along the same vein of Candace Calvert and Jordyn Redwood.

I recently read my first book by Candace Calvert, and I truly loved her book, so I am thinking that Fatal Trauma would be kind of the same type of suspense book without relying so much on the romance side like Calvert does. The conflict starts in the first chapter with a gunman in a hospital, threatening to shoot everyone who doesn’t help his brother. From that moment on the suspense kept occurring to the Mark, the hero, and Kelly, the heroine. While in most suspense books, I stayed up all night, trying to find out who was after them, but in Marby’s book, I actually got bored. Most of the suspenseful moments happened in a car. Bullets through the window, car chase, car wrapped around a tree, nothing really different occurred. I never really worried for Mark or Kelly’s safety. I was not on the edge of my seat.

As for Mark, he does change spiritually through the book, but his change did not follow the normal path of someone looking for God. He questioned and asked pastors and other believers why they believed, but it seemed simple and happened too quickly for my taste. Similarly, Kelly was undeveloped, and I really did not feel sad when bad things happened to her. I think the characters were cardboard characters moving through the hospital and the gunshots.

Even thought the characters and the plot did not ring true to a suspense book for me, the writing was great. Marby did a good job at allowing me to get inside Mark and Kelly’s head and see their struggles, fears, and thoughts. His control a showing the inner workings of a hospital is evident in her word on the page. I felt like I was roaming the halls of a local hospital, watching the action occur.

Overall, Richard Marby’s Fatal Trauma was not what I was expecting when I picked it up. The characters are plain, and the suspense is too common for the genre, begging for me to put the book down. I couldn’t wait to finish the book. It dragged on for a long time.

I received a complimentary copy of Richard Marby’s Fatal Trauma by Abington Press and the opinions stated are all my own.

Richard L. Mabry
From Richard Marby's Amazon Author's Page
How to connect with Richard Marby:


Where to purchase his books:

What draws you into medical romantic suspense? Who are some of your favorite medical suspense authors?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sandra Orchard: Desperate Measures

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy: 

Kate won't be safe until all of Port Aster's secrets are revealed

Researcher Kate Adams has finally pinpointed the supposed "miracle plant" that tore apart her family years ago. She's certain that discovering its secrets is her only hope of solving the mystery surrounding her father's disappearance. She's willing to risk anything to find the truth, including her relationship with Detective Tom Parker. But with so many people in pursuit of the plant, going it alone might be a fatal mistake.

My Thoughts:

I had never read anything by Sandra Orchard, but I love mysteries, so I jumped at the chance to read Desperate Measures when the opportunity came. Inside the dark and menacing covers lies a mystery filled with a mysterious heroine that set places in Port Aster.

Desperate Measures does exactly what a third book in a series should do: it dives deeper into the overarching mystery and ties up loose ends that were presented in the first two books. I haven’t read the first two books, so I can’t comment on what happened in the first two books, but Orchard does allude to the climactic moments in the first two books, grabbing my curiosity even further. The mystery starts in the first chapter, grabbing my attention instantly. Orchard satisfies my love with enough action to hold my attention throughout the whole book. The conflict rang true, but I had a problem with the villain just appearing out of nowhere.

Detective Tom Parker and Kate Adams, herbal research scientist, relationship is explored deeper as the story progresses. I felt more connected with Tom because we understood his struggles and emotions for Kate as the story moved along, but Kate tried to keep a secret from Tom, so Orchard wrote her, in my opinion, as standoffish to the audience. Kate was scared, nervous, and always looking over her shoulder. While Tom, as a detective, had a lot of cases on his plate, so he was juggling those while trying to fight his overpowering emotions for Kate. The romantic tension was one-sided. With the happily-ever-after resolution, I felt it was too fast for my taste.

Orchard’s research into plant research appeared to be right on. It sounded natural for Kate and her friend, Patti, to discuss the care and product of the amendoso plant. All the technical terminology did not detract from the story; it flowed naturally, allowing me to lose myself in the action.

Orchard created a beautiful, yet mysterious setting in Port Aster. Orchard explained the setting when it was needed to fill the audience in on what was happening, but there were times the scene left things to my imagination.

Since this is a mystery, there is harrowing actions affecting Kate and those close to her, but there was nothing violent or graphically described. This book will appeal to fans of a good mystery with non-stop action and a little bit of romance like Christy Barritt, Lorena McCourtney, Margaret Daley. As for the spiritual content, Orchard really did not include much. I remember only one scene that mentioned God, and it wasn’t long at all. Nothing too preachy.

In short, fans of mysteries will be swept up in the non-stop action in Sandra Orchard’s ending to her Port Aster trilogy. Desperate Measures has a hero who really shines in chivalry, exciting tension, and a familiar setting for those who have read the first two books in the series. Desperate Measures made me want to read the first two books in the series to catch up on what occurred to Tom and Kate before this volume.

I received a complimentary copy of Desperate Measures from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.  

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lorna Seilstad: As Love Blooms

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturalist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park--and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

My Review:

I have read Lorna Seilstad’s historical romance before in her Lake Manawa summer series, and I truly enjoyed the stories. I couldn’t wait to be introduced to more of Seilstad’s writing. True to a historical romance, Seilstad’s story invites the readers to jump back in time and fill the pages with electric romance, bringing the past to life.

I haven’t read the first two books in the Gregory Sisters, but I will enjoy reading more about Hannah and Charlotte. Seilstad’s created the world of 1913 quite flawlessly. Her research into the suffragette movement and how the women were treated and viewed came alive on the pages. The surrounding community of Tessa’s world in the parks also jumped off the page for my imagination.

I enjoyed the character of Tessa. She was a strong, independent woman who knew what she wanted. Yes, she had a variety of interests, but she was passionate about everything that sparked her interest. Even though most women during the 1913’s hated to get dirty, Tessa truly enjoyed crafting parks filled with her imagination and didn’t even mind wearing a disguise in order to make that garden become a reality.

There was no questionable content, and the ending was a happily-ever-after, which would satisfy any fan of romance novels. The spiritual element was not over preachy. It was mentioned, but it felt like the characters true nature, not something force at the reader.

In short, Lorna Seilstad’s As Love Blooms is a wonderful historical romance filled with an interesting time in history and a loveable heroine who stood on her own two feet during an era when it was hard. I truly enjoyed this story and can’t wait to dive into Seilstad’s first two books in the Gregory Sisters’ series.

I received a complimentary copy of Lorna Seilstad’s As Love Blooms from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

Lorna Seilstad
Lorna Seilstad's Amazon Author's Profile Picture
Lorna Seilstad’s Writing Bio:     

Lorna Seilstad has called Iowa home her whole life. She received her B.S. in education from Lubbock Christian University. After her first child was born, she stopped teaching and became a professional wiper. "I wiped noses, tears, skinned knees, baby's bottoms, and countertops every day. But at naptime, I wrote." Today, she writes historical fiction with a generous dash of humor.

Where to connect with Lorna Seilstad:

Where to purchase As Love Blooms:
Your Local Favorite Bookstore


If you could travel to any historical time period, when and where would you travel to? Why?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Janice Cantore: Drawing Fire

By Kelly Bridgewater


From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

One case from her past defines homicide detective Abby Hart.

With a possible serial killer stalking elderly women in Long Beach, California, Abby’s best lead is Luke Murphy, an irritating private investigator who saw a suspect flee the scene of the latest homicide. When Abby discovers that the most recent victim is related to the governor, she’s anxious to talk to him about a cold case that’s personal to her—one Luke is interested in as well.

As she learns more about the restaurant fire that took her parents’ lives years ago, Abby discovers why Luke is so invested in finding the ones responsible. The more they uncover, though, the more questions they have. Can Abby find peace without having all the answers?

My Thoughts:

I have become a fan of Janice Cantore’s police procedural romantic suspense when I read Accused, the first book in her Pacific Coast Justice Series. I love how Janice Cantore uses her knowledge from working on the police force to create a realistic look into all the drama and struggles that occur for the men and women who serve our local communities. Drawing Fire gives readers a ride along for the hunt to bring justice to a cold case.

True to a romantic suspense, the story needs to start with an inciting incident and try to solve that mystery, which propels the story forward. The conflict starts in the first chapter, allowing Abby Hart and Luke Murphy’s world to collide as Abby is called to a home of a dead elder lady. The officers call this a case of the serial killer they nickname granny murder. Most romantic suspense stories wrap themselves in trying to solve the initial problem, but Cantore solves this murder pretty quickly and does not return, leaving the one suspect to take the fall for the murder without question.

The incident that drives Abby and Luke is the cold case of the Triple Seven murders. Abby is blinded by drive to seek justice and revenge for her parents’ death. Similarly, Luke is determined to hunt for a young runaway named Nadine who ran away from home because she is pregnant. As much as the inciting incident being solved so quickly bothered me, Cantore allows Nadine to get beaten up, but there is no mention of what happens to her pregnancy. Along the same lines, the first sixty percent of the story is back-story and catching the reader up on all the research that Luke and Abby have personally done on the Triple Seven Murders. It was slow going. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, but it didn’t. Once Luke went on a run and got shot at, the story started to take off and moved like a suspense book, but it was about sixty-five percent in.

Cantore created Luke and Abby to be practically equal foils. While Luke is a private investigator, Abby Hart is a homicide investigator. Both of them have lost significant people in their early life. Both of them have had mentors who helped them settle in their final career choices. Cantore does a good job at showing the readers how Abby and Luke think, but I feel disconnected between how Abby and Luke actually feel. Cantore tells us how they feel, not show the readers. One of the favorite aspects of the book was the laid back romance. Abby is engaged to someone else, but she wonders about Luke. Luke can’t stop thinking about Abby. It was nice to see the guy falling for Abby, which breaks tradition because most books have the girl falling in love first. Even with the difficulties of the plot, I still like the characters of Abby and Luke.

Writing is what can make or break a story.  As for the dialogue, Cantore does allow words to flow naturally and reflect the attitude of Abby and Luke. The story world of Long Beach, California, is not described that well. It appears to be an afterthought for Cantore, not an important element to tie the reader to the story. Lastly, I never doubted Cantore’s expertise into the police world. Abby and the other officers treaded through this world naturally. I enjoyed this peek into the world of police work.

Drawing Fire has no questionable content that conservative readers of any age would question. The last thirty percent of the book would bring a great story to the romantic suspense genre. I just wished Cantore would weave in all the back-story while working hard to solve the cold case of her parents’ death while having complications to the serial killer and finding Nadine. Abby and Luke were never in any harm until the last third of the book. It was an original idea with using Abby as the victim and the investigator on the sly, but the story is not predictable. I had no idea who the actual bad guy was until Cantore revealed it at the last minute. If you can sludge through the first part of the book, the last part is more of Cantore’s style, which is evident in her other books. I truly enjoyed her first five books, but this one is not her usual writing style.

Overall, Janice Cantore’s Drawing Fire uses her vast knowledge in police work to bring three mysteries to the table with wounded characters on the path for justice but tells the story of leaving justice and revenge to God.

I received a complimentary copy of Drawing Fire from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lynne Hinton: The Case of the Sin City Sister



By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy: 

When Eve's biological sister goes missing, the nun heads to Las Vegas to track her down before it's too late.
Years ago, Eve heard God's call to become a nun, but her recent stint moonlighting at her father's detective agency invigorates her so much that she's wrestling with her vocation. She's working with him on a case involving a miner in New Mexico when alarming news develops: her sister Dorisanne is missing. The authorities won’t act without evidence of a crime, but Eve knows something suspicious—and possibly deadly—is afoot. Challenged to put her newfound gifts as a PI to the test, Sister Eve heads west to Las Vegas to uncover clues about her sister’s whereabouts.
What nefarious scheme has Dorisanne become involved in? Is her life in danger? And what is Dorisanne’s estranged husband hiding? Sister Eve will discover there's always more going on in Sin City than meets the eye.

My Review:  

Mysteries are my genre of choice. Lynne Hinton’s first book in this series is called Sister Eye, Private Eye. I have not read that book yet. I was curious at a nun who would be solving mysteries. It is definitely an unique idea and totally unpredictable.

The story starts off right away different than most mysteries because there is a narrative framework of a mystery that takes place back in the late nineteenth century. At first, I had no idea what the past mystery had to do with the missing sister, but as the story moved along it made sense. The puzzle of her missing sister and all the troubles she had found herself in unraveled as Daniel and Eve followed the puzzles and wandered the troubles of Las Vegas. It followed the normal conventions of a mystery.

As for the hero, Daniel, he was two-dimensional and a static character. He really did not change at all. The only thing he did was help Eve solve the mystery and be her partner. There was no love interest between the two, which I originally thought there would be. The heroine, Eve, is a nun who has the most important decision to make because she loves being a detective for her father’s agency, but she also feels the call from God to be a nun. She has some internal thoughts and moments of doubt, but she really does not make the decision either by the end of the book. She was kind of a boring character, even though she was smart enough to solve the case.  

Overall, Lynne Hinton’s The Case of the Sin City Sister, was an unusual mystery with an unique idea, but the characters of Daniel and Eve really had no personality and had no transformation throughout the whole story. The mystery held my attention because I wanted to know where was her sister, but it dragged a little in the middle.
I would recommend the book to other mystery lovers but as a word of caution, the story does move slowly through the middle.

I received a complimentary copy of Lynne Hinton’s The Case of the Sin City Sister from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley and all the opinions stated above are all my own.

Where to connect with Lynne Hinton:
Personal Author Website:  www.lynnehinton.com

Where to purchase books by Lynne Hinton:
Amazon
Christianbook.com
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever books are sold

How many of Lynne Hinton books have you read? Are you interested in a mystery that is worked on or solved by a nun?