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Monday, March 28, 2016

SUDDEN RECALL by Lisa Phillips

Sybil Bates McCormack reviews Sudden Recall by Lisa Phillips.

Here's the Short Version (from Amazon): 

DEADLY MEMORIES 

United States Marshal Jackson Parker never forgot Sienna Cartwright—but she's forgotten him. Just like she's forgotten everything she knew before she emerged from a coma a year ago. She has no memories of her career as a spy or any idea of what the CIA wants from her. And she certainly doesn't know why she's being hunted by men with military-grade weapons. As Sienna struggles to remember who she is and who she can trust, Jackson is determined to reconnect with the woman who broke his heart while protecting the woman she's capable of becoming.

My Take:
Author Lisa Phillips’ Sudden Recall starts off innocently enough—with burly U.S. Marshal Jackson Parker happening upon a woman stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. In short order, though, Parker learns that the woman—CIA Agent Sienna Cartwright—seems unusually skittish about the sound of a vehicle headed their way. The reader also discovers that the Marshal/ex-Navy Seal and the woman were once “a thing.” Sort of. 

It’s kind of complicated. One minute they were thrown together on a mission overseas, and the next they were making plans to meet stateside in Atlanta to see where the relationship would take them. Only... Sienna never showed, and the Marshal’s been pretty heart-broken ever since.

As if the situation weren’t awkward enough, Sienna has a problem. She has no idea who the handsome Marshal is, why he knows her name, or why she’s so afraid of the vehicle headed their way. That is, until the van careens toward them and a bunch of heavily-armed mercenary types jump out. Before she knows it, Sienna’s running through the trees hand-in-hand with the Marshal desperate to stay alive.

The author does an incredible job of keeping the reader engaged throughout the book. Even the main characters’ “down time” in Sudden Recall is charged with edgy tension and spy-based intrigue. That said, Ms. Phillips keeps the gradual re-kindling of the romance between the lead characters, as well as the spiritual arcs they travel as they slowly learn to trust again, front and center throughout this take-no-prisoners novel. 

The amnesia storyline is wrought with exceptional skill: Nothing says novice writer like an amnesia storyline fraught with ambitious—though unrealistic—memory triggers. Lisa Phillips avoids such pitfalls with noteworthy aplomb.

I give this fast-paced read high marks all around.

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

About the Reviewer:

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 FacebookPinterest, and Twitter, friend her on Goodreads, connect with her on LinkedIn, and add her to your circles on Google+.


Monday, March 21, 2016

GRIME SPREE by Marji Laine

Brittany McEuen reviews Grime Spree by Marji Laine.

Here's the Short Version:

Shadows from her past have haunted Dani’s dreams for months. Now, however, the ghosts are real and bringing a trail of death and destruction.

What begins as a romantic evening, the first in far too long, collapses into yet another crime scene. However, this one has someone involved who is familiar to Dani. Too familiar. And worse, he recognizes her.

Jay’s new promotion has increased his working hours considerably, as well as interrupted and cancelled more than one date with Dani. His attempt to make it up to her at one of the nicest restaurants in the area backfires when the place is robbed.

But the biggest problem is that Dani seems to be in on the crime.

My Review:

Grime Spree is a great addition to the Grime Fighters series! I am really enjoying the way the author is slowly peeling away the veneer that the main character, Dani, has put in place as a necessity because of her involvement  in the witness protection program. I could feel Dani’s fear and uncertainty about the steps she needed to take when her identity became compromised! Weighing what to keep hidden and what to reveal to try to save someone she has come to care deeply for made for an extremely emotional journey.

And Jay…watching the painful and difficult decisions and situations he had to go through just raised his estimation in my eyes! I already liked him from the earlier two books, but this one sealed the deal. This story put him through the paces emotionally and physically and he definitely came out an even stronger man by the end.

I had such a great time reading Grime Spree and am really enjoying the continuing growth of Dani and Jay’s relationship, as well as watching them navigate the dangerous and exciting situations that
they find themselves in. I am on tenterhooks waiting for the next story to release!

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, March 14, 2016

A FOOL AND HIS MONET by Sandra Orchard



Marji Laine reviews.
What a delightful afternoon I had delving into Sandra Orchard's newest, A Fool and His Monet! Special thanks to the author and publisher for supplying a free copy for this review!

Short Version from Amazon: 

Sketchy politics and a palette of lies can't stop Serena Jones from exposing the mastermind behind the daring theft of a priceless work of art

Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art--one that's surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about who murdered her grandfather. She's joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother's pleas to do something safer--like get married--Serena's determined to catch thieves and black market traders.

When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Serena leaps into action--and a whole heap of trouble.

My Take:

Like I said - sheer delight! From the sweet, old neighbor who suggests a new vocabulary word every day, to the persnickety cat who makes a game out of letting mice go, to a dear, meddling aunt who complicates both romance and mystery for her niece. And the story has a great mystery, a hint of romantic possibilities, and some intense suspense as well. 

Special Agent Serena Jones certainly has her hands full. She has a palette-full of suspects who might have absconded with missing paintings, threats from her latest successful mission, and a variety of friends and family members offering advice about her love-life as well as the crimes.

Seriously, this book has a plethora of characters. Sandra Orchard did a mammoth job of peopling her novel with unique folks. But I never got lost. On the contrary, they bring in a richness to the plot with their eccentricities, backgrounds, and their unique interactions with Serena. I think the fact that the book is in a first person point of view also helps identify each cast member. Being only in Serena's head, I had no trouble keeping the characters straight. 

While the diverse cast was definitely my favorite element of A Fool and His Monet, the twisted plot sucked me in as well. I enjoyed walking through the elements of the case, even through police procedure - well, FBI - details, with Serena because I was looking at the steps through her eyes. With her insight and attitude. Ms. Orchard uses first person perspective to its utmost!

With moments of riveting action and a mystery that swept me right up, I highly recommend A Fool and His Monet! This is Christian fiction at its finest!

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, March 7, 2016

STEP BY STEP by Candace Calvert

Iola Goulton reviews Step by Step by Candace Calvert


Here's the short version from Amazon:

Three years after a tragic accident left her a widow, ER nurse Taylor Cabot is determined to move on, checking off one item after another on her survival list. Her relationship with a handsome plastic surgeon even gives her hope for the last point―“fall in love again.” At least until crisis chaplain Seth Donovan steps back into her life, reawakening unanswered questions about her husband’s death.

While in San Diego to train community volunteers, Seth hopes to learn why Taylor is backing away from the crisis team and from their friendship. But nothing prepares him for the feelings that arise when he sees Taylor again . . . and sees her moving on with another man.

When a community crisis hits home and puts lives at risk, emotions run high and buried truths are unearthed. Will hope make the survival list?

My Review:

I started out really enjoying Step by Step, but then had that awkward moment around a third of the way through when I remembered I’d offered to review it for Suspense Sisters . . . but there wasn’t a lot of suspense. Oops.

I needn’t have worried. While Step by Step wasn’t a heart-stopping thriller like those by Brandilyn Collins or Terri Blackstock, or a puzzling mystery like Julianna Deering, it certainly ended up with more than enough suspense, from several angles.

There was the medical suspense of the setting in an ER room. There was the romantic suspense, of whether Taylor was ever going to realise Dr Perfect wasn’t (and therefore see that Seth was). And there was the underlying suspense: who is Sloane? Why does she have a problem with both Taylor and Seth? Who is chasing her? And how does this connect to Taylor? Or Seth?

So, yes, great plot. And great characters. Especially the animals. And excellent writing, with enough humour to break up the tension when needed—I especially liked lines like “Cross my heart, hope to pass a cholesterol test.” Recommended for medical suspense fans (or anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of blood and medical trauma in their fiction).

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and 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).