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Monday, December 28, 2015

A RESPECTABLE ACTRESS by Dorothy Love

Brittany McEuen reviews A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

Back Cover Synopsis:

When the illustrious India Hartley is accused of murder, she has to uncover the deceptions of others to save herself.

India Hartley, the famous and beautiful actress, is now alone in the world after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.

A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.

Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia low country and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.

My Review:

I really enjoyed the pacing of A Respectable Actress. It flowed very smoothly as I read it. I also enjoyed the mysterious, deep-south feeling of this book. The author did a very good job at describing the scenery and making me feel that I was really back in early 1870’s Georgia. This time period and the setting of post war St. Simons Island, with its wide variety of residents, added a mysterious quality to the story that enhanced the feeling of restlessness that flowed throughout the book.

The main characters, India and Philip, were very likeable. It was hard to watch as India was accused of murder. And I was amazed at the speed with which the trial progressed. This story, with its secretive twists and turns, kept my attention from start to finish. I thought that the author did a very good job of dropping surprises here and there for the reader and creating a plot that was not easily solved because of the many players involved.

Add in a bit of a sweet romance that began to brew in the midst of uncertainty and desperation, and I
found A Respectable Actress to be a very enjoyable and mysterious read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Reviewer Brittany McEuen:

I am a busy homeschooling mom to four children, ranging from kindergarten to high school. I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart and am an avid reader and book reviewer. I feature book reviews, giveaways, and occasional author interviews on my blog, Britt Reads Fiction. You can also connect with me on Pinterest and Goodreads.

Monday, December 21, 2015

MISTLETOE JUSTICE by Carol J. Post

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews Mistletoe Justice by Carol J. Post

From The “Back Cover”:

Someone has framed Darci Tucker for embezzlement—and she's pretty sure it's her boss. The real criminal will do anything to make sure she doesn't talk, from breaking into her home to hacking her computer. Her only hope for regaining control, and protecting her young son from danger, is Conner Stevenson. Desperate for answers about his sister's sudden disappearance, Conner is determined to uncover why the bookkeeper was named a target. Now Darci and her son have become pawns in a deadly game, and as Conner races to protect them, he finds he wants more than justice. He may want a family for Christmas after all...if they live that long.

My Take:

Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong, creepy boss.

Author Carol J. Post’s cozy holiday yarn, Mistletoe Justice, opens with a single Florida mom making a common, though costly, mistake. Who hasn’t left her cell phone behind at work and been forced to retrieve it for fear she’ll miss an important call or text? That’s all accounting manager Darci Tucker was after when she caught snippets of an incriminating conversation between her supervisor and an unknown male accomplice.

Dumb luck on her part, but clearly none of her business. Not with a special-needs son to support, a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle to manage, and no prospects to fill the role of Prince Charming on the horizon. So, Darci makes a beeline for her car the minute the coast is clear and vows to put the incident behind her—especially after the boss intimates to his friend that he has “ways of guaranteeing [Darci’s] silence” if she discovers their secret.

Heavy equipment mechanic Conner Stephenson’s made real progress over the past week. He’s finally secured a job at P.T. Aggregates, the concrete operation from which his sister mysteriously disappeared months before. Firmly convinced that someone at the company knows what became of Claire, Conner’s keen to uncover the truth. The angry, hurting seven-year-old son she left behind deserves answers—and justice.

Conner’s just pulling onto the P.T. Aggregates property to complete an after-hours project when he passes two vehicles exiting the area—one of which belongs to his sister’s former boss. Moments later, he startles attractive bookkeeper Darci Tucker as she’s scampering to her car behind the onsite office. The very woman who replaced Claire in her position two weeks after she disappeared. Conner can’t help wondering what Darci knows, what she and the boss have been up to, or why she looks so frightened. But Darci isn’t talking, and his investigation into his sister’s disappearance has only just begun.

Mistletoe Justice is the third story in Carol J. Post’s Cedar Key series for Love Inspired Suspense, and it’s clear from the book’s inception that she’s a gifted storyteller. The author handily establishes the look and feel of the main characters’ surroundings through subtle allusions to color, texture and sound. She weaves just enough of Darci and Conner’s compelling backstory into the early pages of the novel to whet the reader’s appetite for more of what lies ahead. And she gives both protagonists plausible motivations for erecting the emotional boundaries they create for themselves—and undertaking the desperate measures to which they resort—as the bad guys inevitably close in.

The author delivers a gratifying holiday feast in Mistletoe Justice, a story steeped in equal helpings of romance and suspense. Ms. Post keeps the reader guessing throughout the book about the trustworthiness of those who make up the main characters’ small circle of acquaintance. She also manages to throw several unexpected curve balls in the characters’ paths on the road to resolution. But, Ms. Post never permits the reader to forget that Mistletoe Justice is, at its core, about Darci and Conner’s heartwarming journey toward love, family, security and spiritual peace.

Skillful author. Rewarding read. Not to be missed.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you as always. Happy Holidays until next time …

A licensed Georgia attorney since 1998, Sybil Bates McCormack now writes responses to state and Federal contract solicitations during the day while lurching haltingly toward a career as an inspirational romantic suspense author at night. She's also the crazed wife of a bi-vocational pastor and mom to two bright, talented kids. They don't call her BizzySyb for nothing! You can visit Sybil at her blog, Christian Romance/Pulsating Suspense, follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, friend her on GoodReads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

FALLING LIKE SNOWFLAKES by Denise Hunter

Iola Goulton reviews Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter.

Here is the Short Version from Amazon:

Eden Martelli is too busy fleeing the clutches of danger to realize she’s running straight into the arms of a new love.

Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.

Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone.

When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.

Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.

Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

My Review

I’ve read several of Denise Hunter’s previous romance novels, and enjoyed them because they always go a little deeper than the typical Christian romance novel. They might pretend to be regular boy-meets-girl romances, but they soon twist into something out of the ordinary. Falling Like Snowflakes was different again, and in a good way—because it had an added suspense plot, and it should be no secret that I love a good romantic suspense novel.

I will admit that it took me a while to get in to Falling Like Snowflakes. While it was immediately obvious Eden was running from something, I didn’t know what, and that made her come across as a little lacking in intelligence. I soon realised that wasn’t the case—it was more that she was young and life had taught her (the hard way) that not everyone could be trusted, which makes it hard for her to trust Beau and his family.

The story built up gradually, with the romance and the suspense plots building at a similar pace, and learning more about Eden’s past as she grew to know Beau better. I especially liked the way the romance was shown through subtle looks and thoughts rather than being told (as was the case in the last romantic suspense novel I read).

Overall, I very much enjoyed Falling Like Snowflakes, and I’ll certainly be reading the next book in the series. Recommended for all romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About the Reviewer, Iola Goulton: 

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterest or Tsu .

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Sunday, December 6, 2015

FEAR IS LOUDER THAN WORDS by Linda Glaz

Marji Laine reviews.
I was so delighted to get a free copy of this new release, Fear is Louder than Words, by Linda Glaz in exchange for an honest review! The intensity of this plot had me picking the book up at every opportunity.

The Short Version:
Rochelle Cassidy has the perfect life as a radio talk show host in the Detroit market, but her celebrity status doesn't stop an angry listener from wanting her ... dead. Ed McGrath's ideal life as a pro-hockey player doesn't include a damsel in distress until the night he discovers Rochelle being attacked in a deserted parking structure.

Circumstances throw them together in more ways than one when Rochelle's producer plays matchmaker. A sick boy, a corrupt politician, and questionable medical practices put more than merely Rochelle in danger, and still, her attacker shadows her every step.

Will Ed be able to break through her trust issues in order to protect her, or will she continue to see him as Detroit's bad boy athlete? Her life AND his depend on it.

My Take:
From the first sentences, in the form of a Christmas poem, my blood pressure went up and it stayed there through the rest of the story. Linda Glaz wove a masterful plot of intricacies, red herrings, and unexpected detours. Her characters have strong personalities and realistic dialogue unique to each of them.

Fear is Louder than Words utilizes two unique literary devices. The first I'd never seen before in a suspense. Usually this type of intensity has a plot spanning a week or two. This story progressed through several months, but the suspense remained in high gear. The length of time was perfect, drawing out the details and personality of possible antagonists as well as allowing the romance to develop realistically. 

The second device was not as rare. Often current contemporary stories use two or three points of view: the heroine, the hero, and sometimes, even the antagonist. This story had a number of main characters, five if I remember correctly, and the different perspectives revealed nuances to the story line that developed both plot and characters. 

I liked both devices! The relationship that grew between hockey hero and motor mouth was exquisite! The tension elevated perfectly in pretty direct correlation to the intrigue. I also enjoyed getting to know so many characters. The different sub-plots uncovered all sorts of antagonistic possibilities. 

Made for a great story! Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys equal parts of romance and suspense.

About the Senior Reviewer:

Suspense Sister, Marji Laine, loves books and writing. Her own Grime Fighter novella series, about a crime scene cleaner, involves mystery, romance, and a touch of suspense.

Living in a Dallas suburb with her hubby of almost 30 years and her twins - the youngest of four - she spends her days homeschooling and transporting her teenagers to various functions, especially volleyball games. She also directs the children's music, helps with the youth choir, and sings in the adult choir at her church, and coordinates the high school credit classes along with the website of a large home school co-op.

Join her at MarjiLaine.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or visit her Amazon author page.