Sunday, August 28, 2016

Catching Heat by Janice Cantore

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Catching Heat
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781414396705
Trade Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: Sept. 1, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart's parents, she's desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind--the governor's wife--behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where Alyssa Rollins grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire.


My Review:
Catching Heat is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third book in a series, and it continues the story of the previous books. I'd recommend reading these books in order (starting with "Drawing Fire"). There was a lot of suspense in this novel due to physical danger threatening from several directions. It's more a suspense novel than detective work.

Luke's behavior baffled me in this book. Luke and Abby were attracted to each other due to their mutual loss and interest in finding justice regarding the Triple Seven fire despite everyone telling them to let it go. Abby uncovered a lead that wasn't clear-cut but shouldn't be dangerous to follow up on if she's wrong. In the past, Luke would have supported Abby, but now he's the one telling her to let go. Why? Because a victim in one of their cases is completely obsessed to the exclusion of all else. Abby asked other people to partner her because Luke wasn't supporting her, and Luke concluded this means she's obsessed and tells her so. I can accept him worrying about it, but so quickly changing sides to become one of her nay-sayers? So the characters didn't quite grab me in this book, but the suspense was plenty exciting.

The main characters found comfort in the thought that even if we don't have all the answers about what happened in the past, God knows. There was no sex. The author used "he cursed" to indicate bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting series.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams

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Murder in the Secret Garden
by Ellery Adams


ISBN-13: 9780425265611
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: August 2, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
There is a hidden garden filled with beautiful but deadly plants such as mandrake and nightshade. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls and accessible only through a single locked door, the garden is of special interest to Jane’s current group of guests, The Medieval Herbalists. But when one of them turns up dead, Jane must discover whether a member of the group has come to Storyton Hall to celebrate their passion for plant lore or to implement a particularly cruel means for murder.


My Review:
Murder in the Secret Garden is a cozy mystery and the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

There is a "secret" garden in the sense that a group of gardeners and herbalists visit a hermit who has a walled garden, but it's only briefly mentioned in the story. Herbal knowledge didn't play much of a role in solving the murder, either. But the mystery was interesting enough that I kept reading, and the main characters were nice, interesting people.

The main characters belong to a secret-society security detail for the resort/hidden library, so they used their skills to investigate. Due to this sense of having equal right (and need) to investigate, the heroine took a piece of evidence from a scene so she could have first look at it. She otherwise had a good relationship with the official investigators.

It's a clue-based mystery, and they looked for solid evidence like the police did. I realized whodunit before the heroine, but there were a number of possible suspects until the last few clues were found. There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this cozy mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Cat, The Collector and the Killer by Leann Sweeney

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The Cat, The Collector and the Killer
by Leann Sweeney


ISBN-13: 9780451477408
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: NAL
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Jillian Hart and police chief Tom Stewart are enjoying peaceful, newly wedded bliss in Mercy, South Carolina, until a woman is found wandering the streets one night. She's in her night clothes, disoriented, and carrying a kitten in a tote bag. A search of the woman’s house reveals many more cats, a maze of cardboard boxes—and a dead man.

Although the evidence suggests the frail woman is the killer, Jillian doesn’t believe she’s capable of such a crime. The dead man had many enemies in town, which means finding the real murderer may prove to be its own cat and mouse game...


My Review:
The Cat, The Collector and the Killer is a cozy mystery. This is the eighth in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous books.

It was a clue-based puzzle mystery. It was somewhat complex, which delayed my figuring out "whodunit" a little and meant that additional pieces fell into place until the very end. However, it didn't really make uncovering who was involved more difficult. I realized whodunit about two-thirds of the way in. The heroine was right in the middle of things (by request of her husband) and had access to the most clues...yet she still didn't figure it out until whodunit attacks her. Sigh. At least she didn't need rescuing.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. If you like mysteries involving lots of playing with and caring for cats, then you'd probably enjoy this one.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller

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The Artisan's Wife
by Judith Miller


ISBN-13: 9780764212574
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Ainslee McKay's world is shaken when she discovers her twin sister has not only eloped with a man she barely knows but now Ainslee must take over and run the tile works in Weston, West Virginia, by herself. She had only agreed to help her sister because it was her sister's dream. She urges her brother to sell the business quickly so she won't be exiled in Weston forever.

When Levi Judson arrives and asks for a job at McKay Tile Works, she's impressed by his skill and passion for the business. He hopes Ainslee will agree to produce his unique mosaic tile patterns. Ainslee must decide if she wants to keep the business and expand using Levi's designs. But can their growing feelings for each other survive when Ainslee learns that Levi's brother is a patient at the local asylum?


My Review:
The Artisan's Wife is a historical novel set in 1876 in West Virginia. This book is the third in a series. You can understand what's going on without reading the previous books, but I'd recommend reading these books in order. Part of this book was more of a resolution to events in the first book than about Levi and Ainslee, and it "spoils" critical events from that first book in the process.

The historical focus of this book was on the asylum and its patients. Levi has a brother living there, and he provides art classes for his brother and other male patients. He encouraged Ainslee to overcome her fear of the patients and to help the female patients create a library at the asylum. Time was also spent at the tile works, but generally Ainslee handled to office work and Levi and his brother did the artistic tile work.

I found the main characters interesting, and Ainslee learned from her mistakes and became more mature as time went on. While Levi and Ainslee worked well together and were a good team, their romance mostly happened in the stretches of time that the author skipped over. Perhaps due to skipping forward through time, this felt more like a "life happened" story since it felt like any struggles were quickly overcome.

The Christian element was references to praying and underlying themes like forgiveness and trusting God's care and provision. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of historical novels.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Secrets and Lies by Shirlee McCoy

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Secrets and Lies
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9780373447589
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Attacked in her classroom, widowed teacher Ariel Martin's only thought is for her unborn child. When her student's brother, rookie K-9 officer Tristan McKeller, saves her life, she's grateful. She knows Tristan won't rest until she's safe, but the only person who would want to hurt her is dead. With her and her child's life on the line, she'll have to trust Tristan with her secrets if she wants to finally get the fresh start she's been desperately seeking.


My Review:
Secrets and Lies is a romantic suspense novel. It's the fifth in a series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to be able to follow this one.

Tristan is having trouble parenting his young sister and admires how well Ariel handles her. Ariel's dealing with the fall-out of having married a man who was secretly both crazy and criminal, discovering she was pregnant just as the divorce went through, and his death in a fiery car accident. She's drawn to Tristan because she wants to feel safe and not alone....which is understandable, especially as someone's trying to kill her.

I could see where the plot was headed long before the main characters, so there were no surprise twists. The suspense mainly came from the attempts to kill Ariel. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Scream in Soho by John G Brandon

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A Scream in Soho
by John G Brandon


ISBN-13: 9781464206498
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When a piercing scream rends the air and a bloodied knife (but no body) is found, Detective Inspector McCarthy is soon on the scene. He must move through the dark, seedy Soho underworld peopled by Italian gangsters, cross-dressing German spies, and glamorous Austrian aristocrats as he attempts to unravel the connection between the murder and the theft of secret anti-aircraft defense plans. This evocative and suspenseful London novel from the golden age of British detective fiction is now republished for the first time since the 1950s.


My Review:
A Scream in Soho is a suspense/thriller that was originally published in 1940 and is set in London. It takes place during the early days of WWII, so blackouts make investigating the nighttime murders a challenge. Detective Inspector McCarthy grew up in Soho, so he has contacts among the criminals and an understanding of the area. He keeps his sense of humor and unconventional ways as he solves the murders and a theft of secret defense plans, then tracks down the missing plans.

The characters had distinct, interesting personalities. The author included the bad guy's viewpoint as well as the detective's, yet the detective was clever enough to piece everything together without the added information that the reader has. While there were clues, the story was more about how the detective tracked down the answers along with an action-packed arrest sequence.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Some of the characters spoke in dialect, but I had no trouble understanding what they said. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Love's Betrayal by DiAnn Mills

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Love's Betrayal
by DiAnn Mills
&
Faithful Traitor
by Jill Stengl


ISBN-13: 9781634097796
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: August 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Love's Betrayal: Boston, 1776. Delight Butler is a passionate defender of the American patriots. When redcoats bring an injured Henry O’Neil to the Butler home for care and lodging, Delight despises the man. Though she comes to admire the man, Delight struggles to trust that he could desert the British army and risk his life for the patriot cause.

Faithful Traitor: New York, 1775. Georgette's parents have arranged for her to marry an aloof man with a reputation for dallying with married women. Yet she desires a husband that will be true only to her. Then she's tempted by a dashing, cloaked man who rescues her from danger and says he adores her. Still, she agrees to marry her parent's choice--who is admittedly handsome and rich--and prays that she can love him, and he love her. But her few, brief meetings with the dashing patriot spy may cause her troubles she didn't foresee.


My Review:
Love's Betrayal is a Christian historical romance set in 1776-1777 in Boston and Chesterfield. I got hung up on the scenario of British troops taking a wounded comrade specifically to a known patriot household, threatening to harm them if they don't nurse him, then abandoning him there. Why didn't they just take him to a British infirmary, or at least one of the known British supporters in the town?

Anyway, Delight and the soldier quarrel until Delight feels bad that her Christian witness is so poor. He falls in love with her beauty and spirit and no longer wants to fight. Delight's father says he thinks the British soldier would be a good husband for her even though he's the enemy. And suddenly she's attracted to the hero, though I don't quite understand why.

I was disappointed that the (potentially) most interesting scenes were skipped and summarized later. The story just dragged for me. There was a strong Christian element: the family prayed and tried to put the Christian virtues into practice. There was no sex or bad language.

Faithful Traitor is a Christian historical romance set in 1775 in New York. It has hints of Jane Austen (misjudgements, romantic imaginings, and match-making mothers) and vaguely follows the plot of the Scarlet Pimpernel (but set during the American Revolution). I'd call this "high romance" as there was much blushing and trembling at a man's touch. That's not my favorite genre, so I was surprised by just how fun this story was. Lots of action and dialogue, and the hero and heroine were better people for having met each other.

Georgette genuinely desired to be a woman of virtue when dealing with temptation. The hero struggled with his need for God's forgiveness, and the heroine struggled with trusting God with an uncertain future. There were no sex scenes. Bad language was indicated with "he cussed" rather than the actual words. Overall, I'd highly recommend this delightful tale.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.