Friday, June 30, 2017

Lis Wiehl: The Separatists

By Kelly Bridgewater

After getting the green light from her network to launch an investigative news show, Erica flies to Bismarck, North Dakota, to investigate Take Back Our Homeland, the largest secessionist group. What she finds is profoundly disturbing – a growing threat to the future of our union.

Back home, her husband Greg is drinking more and talking less—and taking an unusual interest in the glamorous author Leslie Burke Wilson. Erica’s teenage daughter has also begun acting out in troubling ways.

Then she discovers a potential informant murdered in her Bismarck hotel. Take Back Our Homeland might be even more dangerous than she had thought—and she’s unwittingly become one of the key players in the story. Her fear and anxiety escalate – for her marriage, her daughter, and her own life.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I enjoy a good suspense. Something that takes me away to another place. Something that captures my attention and puts me through a ride with plenty of dips and hang time. Unfortunately for me, Lis Wiehl latest series A Newsmakers Novel does not do that for me.

While the writing is top notch and the characters are relatable. I had a hard time swallowing the story as a suspense novel. When reading suspense novels, and I do read a lot of them, I like to be taken through the process as they stumble across dead bodies and see the interviews with the though process of the main characters. But in The Separatists or any of the previous two books, Wiehl does not really do this. Yes, there is some dead bodies. There is a kidnapping with some interviews. But as the title suggests, the plot focuses more on the political nature of the plot. This story actually bored me.

While Erica struggles with her new husband, daughter, and job, I understand and empathize with her. Wiehl did a fabulous job at giving Erica faults and dilemma to make her more realistic for the readers. I loved watching Erica try to deal with her ex-husband, new husband, and her daughter while wanting to push forward and succeed in her chosen field. To prove to herself and others that she isn't the trailer trash that she was while she was growing up. I enjoy a story where the characters have dug themselves out of the pit and made something of themselves. But Erica does not really change in the story, she just goes with the flow and reacts to her situations around her.

There really is no spiritual element. While the story is original and timely, it was predictable. I figured out who the person was behind the political side of the story.

A word of caution: For the third time, Wiehl has presented a homosexual character who acts on his emotions in the pages of the story. This lowers my rating on any book. This shouldn't be allowed by this publisher.

Overall, this story doesn't feel or read like a normal suspense novel even though I enjoyed the character of Erica, I had a hard time enjoying this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of The Separatists by Lis Wiehl from Thomas Nelson publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Colleen Coble: Beneath Copper Falls

By Kelly Bridgewater

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancĂ© to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

From Amazon

My Thoughts: 

Colleen Coble is an avid writer of suspense and historical novels. Both genres are some of my favorite genres to read, so I'm drawn to Coble's writing in that way. I haven't read all her Rock Harbor series, but the number of them that I have read, I have enjoyed. With her newest installment of Beneath Copper Falls, I didn't feel disappointed.

As a romantic suspense novel, it fits nicely into the genre. From the first chapter, I'm running alongside Dana as she wants to escape Garret and his abusive attitude. While the concept of an abused woman running away from her dilemmas has been done a number of times, I did enjoy that Coble didn't glorify it or hide the truth. She showed the horrors and allowed me to feel bad for Dana as she ran for her life. The suspense was well-written, and I had a hard time putting it down.

The romance between Boone and Dana felt a little different. Both characters have to learn to look  below the surface and learn to accept one another with their faults and learn to love each other. While the romance wasn't the focal point of the story, it did leave a nice sigh after watching the serial killer interact with the storyline.

For fans of the Rock Harbor series, they will be excited to see well-loved characters and see what they are up to. I enjoyed this story and am glad that I read it. Fans of Lynette Eason and Irene Hannon who haven't sampled Coble's writing might want to check this series out.

I received a complimentary copy of Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble from Thomas Nelson publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 26, 2017

Christine Johnson: Freedom's Price

By Kelly Bridgewater

Welcome, everyone!

Here is my review:

When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her parents and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother's family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships, but whose real goal in life is to bring to justice the man who stole his father's ship and caused his untimely death.

When Catherine finally arrives at her family's plantation, she finds it in disarray and her family absent landowners. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom or beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish the dreams that have been holding them captive in order to step forward in faith--even if it costs them everything?

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed the first two novels in the Keys of Promise series by Christine Johnson, so of course, I wanted to read her latest installment, Freedom's Price. I was glad to get a review copy. With a historical romance, I knew there would be a story that had conventions that we don't necessarily use anymore, characters that had different expectations than us, and a romance that might be a little less open than currently. With Johnson's stories, that is definitely what I receive.
Her writing is clear and concise. I had no problem visualizing the setting in Key West, among the boat, and in Louisiana. Johnson does a good job at anchoring me in her settings. Allowing me to explore the unfamiliar setting with the characters. Her use of descriptive language is vibrant and welcomes me to a new world.

The characters are the most important element in the story because without them there would be no story. The heroine, Catherine, is a strong woman who is determined to save her family's history. She is also proud to create her own path in life whether any man tries to tell her otherwise. On the other hand, Tom, the hero, is a brave man who refuses to leave Catherine in the hands of a mad man. He is trusty-worthy, cunning, and hopeless for Catherine. In this novel, neither Catherine or Tom really change. Who I meet in the beginning of the novel is the same characters I meet at the end. No transformation.

The romance is really quick for me. When I meet Tom, Johnson has him think about how no woman is good enough for his standards, but then as soon as Catherine glances at him from a ship window, he loses all his reality and falls in love with her. He has an overwhelming desire to protect her at all cost. Where did that come from? Their romance blooms really fast from then on, and I had a hard time believing it.

The plot is different and unique, which is nice, but it moves really fast. Having read the first two editions in this series, I think this one flew by. One minute the story started than the book ended. It appeared to be a little short for me. It was a good story, and I enjoyed spending the two hours it took me to read it, but I wished it was longer.

Overall, a well-written story with a unique plot, untransformative characters, and a hasty romance, Freedom's Price was my least favorite book of the series.

I received a complimentary copy of Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson from Revell Publishing, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 23, 2017

Christy Barritt: Random Acts of Fraud

By Kelly Bridgewater

Vintage-loving Holly Anna Paladin finds online dating uncouth and unbecoming. But, in an attempt to overcome her romantic slump, her BFF convinces Holy to give it a shot. When Holly is stood up on her first date, she's halfway relieved . . . until she discovers the reason isn't because her cyber matchup has cold feet. Instead she stumbles upon him in a classic Mustang, deader than good old-fashioned manners.

Holly's had enough with investigating crime and leaves her ex-boyfriend, Detective Chase Dexter, to solve this mystery. But Holly is somehow connected to this murder, and someone is determined to keep her in the thick of things. She hopes it's not Drew Williams, the handsome funeral director who's trying to sweep her off her feet.

Before more people are hurt, Holly is determined to unmask the pretender in her life. But can she keep her feelings for Chase locked away? Or will Holly end up losing her heart to him all over again? She must solve the case before someone pulls the plug on her profile . . . and deletes her permanently.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I have read almost everything by Christy Barritt. The other day I found out I hadn't read one of her books. Luckily, it was on sale for my Kinde, so I downloaded it and hopefully, will get to it soon. As for now, I continue to pick up all of Barritt's books, preparing for an adventure. Barritt doesn't disappoint. She knows what she wants her audience to experience and she delivers. I look forward to all her stories.

With Barritt's latest addition to her Holly Anna Paladin mysteries series, Random Acts of Fraud, it was nice to catch up with Holly and follow the hunt for a mystery at the same time. Barritt does a good job at creating relatable characters that keep turning out more and more mysteries. Gabby St. Clair is still my favorite heroine by Barritt. I like their her characters aren't perfect or too rich or snotty. They are average characters that makes them empathetic to the reader. I enjoy seeing Holly struggle and change as her life moves along.

As for the plot in Random Acts of Fraud, it is a typical cozy mystery story. Holly finds herself in trouble in the first chapter, and I follow her throughout the rest of the story as she tries to solve the mystery. Barritt even likes to throw in a little bit of romance to see how much the reader notices. Not that you could miss it, but it is nice to see Holly fall in and out of love as she struggles with the complications of today's romance field.

Overall, Random Acts of Fraud is another keeper for my shelf. Holly is a wonderful, brave character who struggles with her personal life while trying to solve the mystery she finds herself in. I highly recommend Random Acts of Fraud, and I can't wait to see what Barritt creates next.

I received a complimentary copy of Random Acts of Fraud from Christy Barritt, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Melody Carlson: Under a Summer Sky

By Kelly Bridgewater

High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house is luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn't long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who's determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of Nicole's close childhood friends--who also happen to be brothers--vying for her attention.

With a backdrop of a beautiful historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance . . . anything can happen!

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites readers to spend the summer surrounded by beauty and tantalizing possibilities for the future.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson is a quick read with an interesting plot. From the first chapter, I was drawn into the story of Nicole as she finished up the school year as an art teacher and moved into the position of an art gallery manager. I enjoyed spending time with Nicole and watched as she took over the art gallery and tried to be a mother figure to Bernie, Alex's daughter. Alex and Ryan are the sons of the owner of the art gallery. While I haven't seen the plot done in another book, it did bring images of Jennifer Aniston working in the art gallery in The Break-up. The romance is downplayed a lot. Nicole does have two brothers trying to grab her attention, but I don't remember Nicole ever falling in love with one over the other and listening to her internal dialogue about her emotions. This wasn't a typical romance novel is that respect. I really enjoyed that to be honest. Sometimes in contemporary romances, the feelings can be up-played so the reader really understands the feelings of the characters. If you aren't a fan of deeply spiritual romance novels, but love to be swept away in a romance, than this might be the book for you. Carlson really doesn't lay on the spiritual elements. This would be a good book for fans of secular romance books. Overall, this was a quick read that I didn't mind spending a couple of hours with.

I received a complimentary copy of Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson from Revell Publishing, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When you read a romance novel, what is an element that has to be there (besides the obvious)?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Jennifer Delamere: The Captain's Daughter

By Kelly Bridgewater

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater which is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

An injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he's glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can't wait to leave behind.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere captured my imagination with its cover design and the fact that it occurs in London. London. The city of my dreams. But unfortunately, I really didn't like this novel. The first chapter has three sisters standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I believe this was Delamere's way of clearing her throat and giving us backstory to the three sisters without officially telling us what we needed to know in an information dump. From there, I follow Rosalyn as she almost gets sold into prostitution before earning a job at the local theater. As a character, I found her quite shallow, and I didn't empathize with her at all. As for Nate, he had some redeeming qualities, but I still didn't find him to be the hero I wanted him to be. I wanted so much more depth to each character.

As for the pace of the novel, it moved really slow. There were moments I put the novel down and went to another book, read it completely, and came back to this one. Really didn't capture my attention. I dragged myself to finish the novel. This predictable and unoriginal story just couldn't get me excited about the plot. As a final note, The Captain's Daughter appeared to be an interesting story, but it has been written before with lackluster characters and a pace that didn't move fast enough for me. I would have a hard time recommending this story. But . . .  this is my humble opinion, so others can completely disagree with mine.

I received a complimentary copy of The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere from Bethany House Publishing, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

What do you do when you come across a novel that doesn't do it for you? Do you put it down and give it another try? Or do you pick up something else? Some many books; so little time.