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Monday, January 25, 2016

CALICO SPY by Margaret Brownley

Marji Laine reviews Calico Spy, and intriguing historical mystery and suspense
by Margaret Brownley.

Short Version:

The adventure of a detectives life didn't erase Katie Madison's past, but life as one of the few female Pinkerton Detectives certainly commanded her attention enough to keep her past failures from haunting her. However, success wouldn't be so easy with this new case that took her to Calico, Kansas and plopped her, undercover, as a Harvey House girl.

Sheriff Branch Whitman had enough trouble solving the murders of two young waitresses. The last thing he needed to deal with was some know-it-all Pink hired by Frank Harvey to ostensibly protect his business reputation. At least, the new waitress at the House was charming, though he didn't need another distraction either.

What he needed were answers. And he needed them before the killer claimed another victim.

My Take:

I was thoroughly out-foxed by Ms. Brownley! She laid out perfect clues for anyone to see and I completely missed them. This plot drew in several threads on its winding way to completion. Each cause solid and reasonable. Each response logical. Yet, I failed to consider the subtleties and missed some of the most important clues. Ha! Well done!

I loved the way she crafted complete scenarios for each of her characters. Not only did she distinguish between the innocent and the guilty, but she attached hidden connections to the characters so that by the end of the story, instead of a group of shallow restaurant workers, the Harvey House of Calico was filled with deep individuals whose heartbreaks and hopes were carried by one another in order to make the entire group stronger.

The romance of this story was palpable. Katie's resistance due to past heartbreak and Branch's avoidance from grieving his late wife made their desperate desire to submit to the feelings they had for each other a constant inner battle. One moment, the kindness between them melted fears and tore through restraints. The next moment, misunderstanding or false assumptions dashed all hope for a happily ever after.

The suspense of the romance was almost as exciting as the life-threatening suspense of the killer on the loose.

I highly recommend Calico Spy, the third of the Undercover Ladies series. I sure hope there is a fourth! And if you're interested in books one or two, Here is the review for Petticoat Detective and Undercover Bride.

Want a chance to win a copy of Calico Spy for yourself? Head over to Faith Driven Fiction where Margaret Brownley has a great interview, and leave your comments there!

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, as well as 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.

Monday, January 18, 2016

LETHAL ACTION by Rachel Dylan

Brittany McEuen reviews Lethal Action by Rachel Dylan.

The Short Version: (Amazon) 

Attorney Hope Finch is a rising star at the prestigious New York law firm of Rice & Taylor and is used to high-stakes litigation. But when she’s sent to what she thought was a small, sleepy town in Georgia, she is unprepared for the dangerous turn of events that threatens her life and career.

FBI Special Agent Gabe Marino knows that something sinister is happening in his hometown of Maxwell, Georgia. But even he doesn’t know how big the threat is until he’s assigned to protect a visiting big city lawyer. As Gabe investigates the illegal activity linked to Hope’s client, he tries to caution her, but she ignores his warnings—until it’s her life that’s in jeopardy.

When Hope becomes the target in a deadly corporate cover-up that is directly tied to the biggest trial the town of Maxwell has ever seen, she and Gabe have to find a way to work together. Hope and Gabe race against the clock to uncover the true threat, but can Gabe keep Hope safe in the face of danger or will time run out on them both?

My Take:

Lethal Action was an intense and exciting novel! I liked both main characters right from the start, so it was easy to get caught up in their story. Danger lurks around every corner for Hope, making it very hard for Gabe to keep her safe and helping to create a fast paced story.

Both Hope and Gabe have been very career driven individuals and have had some personal hurts to overcome in the past. It was fun to watch as romance blossomed even in the tense situations that they were in. I thought that the relationship angle and the doubts and potential problems they voiced were very realistic.

The author did a good job of creating dangerous situations for Hope to end up in and quite an interesting reason that she was being targeted that is only fully revealed at the end of the book. Lethal Action also had a gentle thread of faith flowing through the story as Hope began to reacquaint herself with God. I enjoyed this thrilling story.

I received a complimentary copy of Lethal Action from the author 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, January 11, 2016

DEADLY NOEL by Margaret Daley



Marji Laine reviews an exciting suspense, Deadly Noel, by best-selling author Margaret Daley, and interviews the author here.

Short Version (from Amazon):

Kira Davis put the wrong man in prison. Now she has to catch the real killer before he kills her. Another romantic suspense story from Margaret Daley, USA Today Bestselling Author.

Assistant DA, Kira Davis, convicted the wrong man—Gabriel Michaels, a single dad with a young daughter. When new evidence was brought forth, his conviction was overturned, and Gabriel returned home to his ranch to put his life back together. Although Gabriel is free, the murderer of his wife is still out there and resumes killing women. In a desperate alliance, Kira and Gabriel join forces to find the true identity of the person terrorizing their town. Will they be able to forgive the past and find the killer before it’s too late?

My Review:

Immediately I was attached to Kira, experiencing the depth of her regret over the mistake of prosecuting Gabriel, and her guilt over the second and third murders. And my heart went out to the fallen hero, still suspected of monstrous activity, who only wanted to raise his daughter in peace.

What a premise! But the story went so far beyond my expectation. It’s no wonder Ms. Daley is a USA Today Best-selling Author.

Kira is a strong minded woman. Partly from her feelings of responsibility and partly from her need to solve her best friend’s murder, she places herself in the line of fire. But she’s smart about it! I can’t tell you how relieving it is to find a heroine who will accept help and protection!

Gabriel, on the other hand, would probably have let this mystery pass if an incident hadn’t drawn him back into suspicion and pulled him in due to simple proximity. But his changing attitude throughout the book and his faith-focus endeared him.

The plot had great twists. I figured out the culprit about half-way, but a few of the unexpecteds threw me. I love surprises. Even when they have to do with elements of crazy people and killers. LOL!

This book certainly gets my endorsement! And if the other books in Margaret Daley’s series are like it, I’ll be delving into the “Strong Women Extraordinary Situations” series. (Next book comes out soon and involves a thread from this one! Can’t wait!)

I so appreciate the author sharing a copy of her book with me for an honest review!

By the way, Margaret is highlighted on my blog, "Faith Driven Fiction," today and she’s giving away an e-copy of Deadly Noel there! Visit her interview at my blog on MarjiLaine.com or this direct link.

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. Book 3 of that series, Grime Spree, releases in the next few weeks.

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.

Monday, January 4, 2016

WHEN FALL FADES by Amy Leigh Simpson

Iola Goulton reviews When Fall Fades by Amy Leigh Simpson

Amazon Description:

Sadie Carson is an expert on unfinished business. Five years after the derailment of her dreams she's just barely existing, using her job as a hospice nurse to give others the one thing she can't seem to find-closure. So when her elderly neighbour Charlie, a brilliant conspiracy nut known for harassing the FBI, is murdered, Sadie suspects Charlie might've been onto something and intends to make sure someone solves the mystery of her friend's death, even if it's her.

The feisty little blonde may have found the victim's body, but FBI Special Agent Archer Hayes has no intention of letting some nosy civilian interfere with his investigation. The guilt he feels is bad enough. The last thing Archer needs is another distraction to haunt him. Especially one as beautiful and beguiling as the girl next door. But throw in a mountain of hoarded evidence and suspiciously coded journals and the case takes a puzzling turn toward a decades old conspiracy cover-up from World War II-one only the victim's closest confidant can help untangle.

Sadie and Archer reluctantly join forces to decode the riddle of secrets Charlie carried to his grave. Or did he? Someone is after a dangerous truth. But to uncover it or bury it is a question that leads the unlikely pair on a quest for redemption that lands Sadie in the crosshairs of a desperate killer. And when the dangers of the past and present collide Archer must fight to save the life of the woman he's falling for . . . only to discover he might be the one in need of saving.

My Review:

When Fall Fades is an excellent debut novel. The writing is outstanding, and I found myself underlining a lot of lines because they were funny (Special Agent Smolder), clever, original, or all three. The plot was excellent, both the main romance and murder/suspense plots, and the more subtle hints about the character’s personal histories . . . and how these might play in to future novels in the series.

But the real strength was the characters. Archer Hayes is the perfect hero: handsome, intelligent, hard-working, dedicated. And hopelessly attracted to Sadie Carson, who is intelligent and caring and sassy, and more than prepared to stand up to the sometimes arrogant FBI agent. I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay between the two, and totally bought into their mutual attraction even before they were prepared to admit it to each other.

While When Fall Fades is published by a general market publisher, it has strong Christian themes, including one character reconsidering their relationship with God. Aspects of When Fall Fades are more edgy than general Christian fiction—there’s more kissing, for example, and it’s more hot-and-heavy than the kissing I see in most Christian fiction, but it never crosses the line into inappropriate (in my view), and definitely counts as clean fiction.

Recommended. I’ll definitely be watching for the sequel!

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).