2020 Book #70 – Mirror Image by Sandra Brown

Title: Mirror Image
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 10/5/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 7, 2020 (re-published; originally published in 1989)
Pages in book: 442
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The crash of a Dallas-bound jet isn’t just a tragedy for TV reporter Avery Daniels; it’s an act of fate that hands her a golden opportunity to further her career. But it also makes her the crucial player in a drama of violent passions and deadly desires.

After plastic surgery transforms her face, Avery is mistaken for the glamorous, selfish wife of Tate Rutledge, the famous senatorial candidate and member of a powerful Texas dynasty.

As she lays helpless in the hospital, Avery makes a shattering discovery: someone close to Tate planned to assassinate him. Now, to save him, she must live another woman’s life — and risk her own.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I have been a big fan of Sandra Brown for awhile now. As many know, I loved her book Deadline (great plot twists!) and have enjoyed others too. I was excited to read one of her older backlog novels that was being republished. This one was a little outlandish. Plane crash, mistaken identity, reconstructive facial surgery to the wrong person’s face, political assassination, family secrets, etc. There’s just so much going on in this book it’s crazy. And there were some problematic things because it was an older novel, but honestly not as many problematic things as I expected there to be. Romance novels from older time periods sometimes can have some cringe-worthy items but this seemed to hold up pretty well considering it’s been 30 years since it was written. The ending also happened kind of fast for me, for how long it took us to get through the majority of the plot it felt a little disappointing to have it wrap up so quickly. I still enjoyed the novel but it wasn’t my favorite of this author’s (which will likely always be Deadline).

Author’s Website

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2020 Book #62 – Nowhere to Hide by Leslie A. Kelly

Title: Nowhere to Hide
Author: Leslie A. Kelly
Date finished: 9/7/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 382
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Hollywood Heat series
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A cold case is suddenly too hot to handle in the second installment of the Winchester Brothers romantic suspense series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Leslie A. Kelly.

Police officer Rowan Winchester wants nothing to do with his celebrity family’s legacy. Working with the LAPD is his way of atoning for the Winchesters’ dark and secretive past. And, right now, the last thing Rowan needs is true-crime novelist Evie Fleming nosing around the most notorious deaths in Los Angeles — including the ones that haunt his own family. To make things worse, he’s torn between wanting the wickedly smart writer out of his city . . . and just plain wanting her.
While researching her latest book, Evie suspects that a dangerous new killer is prowling the City of Angels. Now she just has to convince the devastatingly handsome cop that she’s right. Soon Evie and Rowan are working together to try to find the killer, even as their attraction ignites. But when the killer hones in on Evie, she and Rowan realize they’ll have to solve this case fast if they want to stay alive.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by this author before but the synopsis sounded really interesting. I ended up really liking it! The plot line of this book was very good – there were some great plot twists included that caught me by surprise! The characters didn’t quite come to life for me but I still really enjoyed the story. The pacing seemed good to me and I like the back-story plot about a previous murder. I’d be interested to find out the resolution with that (and I’m guessing hear Raine’s story) if it was available. Overall it was a good book and I think it’s worth a read.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #61 – Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown

Title: Thick as Thieves
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 9/4/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In this tantalizing thriller from a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a woman uncovers lifelong secrets as she searches for the truth behind her father’s involvement in a heist gone wrong.

Twenty years ago in the dead of night, four seemingly random individuals pulled the ultimate heist and almost walked away with half a million dollars. But by daybreak, their plan had been shot to hell. One of them was in the hospital. One was in jail. One was dead. And one got away with it.

Arden Maxwell, the daughter of the man who disappeared all those years ago — presumably with the money, after murdering his accomplice — has never reconciled with her father’s abandonment of her and her sister. After countless personal setbacks she decides to return to her family home near mysterious Caddo Lake, and finally get answers to the many questions that torment her. Little does she know, two of her father’s co-conspirators — a war hero and a corrupt district attorney — are watching her every move.

Ledge Burnet, a rebellious teen at the time of the heist, evaded his jail sentence by enlisting in the army. Now he’s back in town to care for his ailing father — and to keep his eye on the county’s corrupt district attorney, whom he suspects was the real murderer. Although the two are bound to silence because of the crime they committed together, each has spent years waiting and hoping that the other will make a fatal misstep. But the arrival of their elusive accomplice’s daughter, Arden, who may know more about the missing money than she’s telling, sets them both on red alert. She ignites Ledge’s determination to expose the D.A.’s treachery . . . and sparks a desire he wishes to deny.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read many Sandra Brown books in the past and have really enjoyed them (especially Deadline, which is my #1 recommendation to romantic suspense readers).  I’ve read many of her recent publications since Deadline and haven’t like any of them quite as much as my all time fave – but I have to say this one came close! The plot of this book was super – it was so well developed and consistently leads the reader in the wrong direction. I just loved the plot and thought it was so good. I can’t say I gasped out loud at the plot twist (like I did with Deadline) but I came damn close. I just felt so bad for Arden at the end, I can’t imagine how she would be unaffected by all of this. Ledge’s character was great too. He toed the line perfectly between edgy and honorable, romantic and surly. I loved his charge ahead attitude and how he was determined to face his problems head on while also protecting the people he loved. I especially loved how the author interspersed the flashbacks to fit in line with what the reader is learning about the story in the present time – it really was just so well done! I would definitely recommend this one, I thought it was great!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #53 – Incognito Ex by Geri Krotow

Title: Incognito Ex
Author: Geri Krotow
Date finished: 7/24/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: August 1, 2020
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Silver Valley P.D. series #8
Where I got the book from: NetGalley/Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When she is targeted by a vicious mobster

A past love is her only hope

When a Russian gangster targets Coral Staufer, she is desperate for help. Coral stumbles across an undercover agent none other than the man she loved and lost, Trevor Stone. Trevor will risk anything to stop her from becoming a mob casualty…even risk his career to protect Coral. But when their past love reignites, their entire mission—and very lives—are at stake.

My rating:  1.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also be sure to check out my blog tour post on the book!

I thought this book sounded interesting from the plot synopsis so I thought I would try it. And it was a fine book but it really just didn’t end up being for me. I struggle a lot with second chance romances, especially ones where the couple has already been married and divorced. I just find it so sad that they’ve missed out on so much time because they’re so pig-headed and stubborn that they can’t just communicate with each other. Some of the other things I struggled with this book on were also related to that – their chemistry and the build up to their first intimate moment just felt forced to me but I think it was because I was already so against their story line. This book had a wide cast of characters too and I always struggle with jumping into a series, especially in this case with the 8th book. This book really just wasn’t for me personally but it wasn’t a bad book. I really love Harlequin overall and that the different Series categories always deliver exactly what you’re looking for in an easy to read package.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #21 – Outfox by Sandra Brown

Title: Outfox
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 5/15/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 448
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

From the #1 NYT bestselling author: After a thirty-year search for a serial killer, FBI agent Drex Easton becomes a suspect’s next-door neighbor — but can he navigate a shocking series of twists and turns to track down the truth?
 
FBI agent Drex Easton is relentlessly driven by a single goal: to outmaneuver the conman once known as Weston Graham. Over the past thirty years, Weston has assumed many names and countless disguises, enabling him to lure eight wealthy women out of their fortunes before they disappeared without a trace, their families left without answers and the authorities without clues. The only common trait among the victims: a new man in their life who also vanished, leaving behind no evidence of his existence . . . except for one signature custom.
 
Drex is convinced that these women have been murdered, and that the man he knows as Weston Graham is the sociopath responsible. But each time Drex gets close to catching him, Weston trades one persona for another and disappears again. Now, for the first time in their long game of cat and mouse, Drex has a suspect in sight.
 
Attractive and charming, Jasper Ford is recently married to a successful businesswoman many years his junior, Talia Shafer. Drex insinuates himself into their lives, posing as a new neighbor and setting up surveillance on their house. The closer he gets to the couple, the more convinced he becomes that Jasper is the clever, merciless predator he’s sought–and that his own attraction to Talia threatens to compromise his purpose and integrity.
 

This is Drex’s one chance to outfox his cunning nemesis before he murders again and eludes justice forever. But first he must determine if the desirable Talia is a heartless accomplice . . . or the next victim.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read this book as part of Bout of Books 28.

I have always really loved Sandra Brown’s books, though some I’ve liked more than others. This was a fairly solid suspense but I thought there would be more to the plot twists. I didn’t especially love the big plot twist at the end, I thought it was a little bit of a let down. I still overall liked the story though and, for most of the book, I didn’t want to put it down. There were a couple of parts where the pacing grew a bit slow but overall it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book. I read this book with a couple work girlfriends and we read and discussed the book. Overall I liked the book but I can’t say it was my favorite, definitely not my favorite of Brown’s (which is of course Deadline in case you didn’t already know). I think it’s still worth the read but if you’re going to only read one of Brown’s books in life, read Deadline.

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

 

2020 Book #9 – Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb

51SmVhNgeJLTitle: Witness Protection Widow
Author: Debra Webb
Date finished: 2/1/20
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Winchester, Tennessee Thriller book #5
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Can the witness protection program keep her identity secret?

After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband’s powerful crime family. Now it’s up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’m reading this book in connection with Harlequin’s February blog tour series to highlight releases of their category romances. I used to read these category series romances a lot and I was glad to be able to read some more recent releases. Category romances are a great place to find a quick read and are true to the category they’re published in. Looking for some thrills? Read an Intrigue! And for an Intrigue this one was really good! Ali and Jax were both interesting and endearing characters. I especially liked Ali’s dog Bob, he was great! The ending was a little anti-climactic only because I kept thinking that something more awful was going to happen. Other than that it was a pretty good book – I was interested in the story line throughout and I wanted to find out what was going to happen.

Link to author’s website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #90 & #93 – Don’t Close Your Eyes and Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig

Title: Don’t Close Your Eyes & Don’t Breathe a Word
Author: Christie Craig
Date finished: 11/19/19 & 12/1/19
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: August 28, 2018 & November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 480 & 424
Stand alone or series: #1 and #2 in the Texas Justice series
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Don’t Close Your Eyes: 
Annie Lakes has had the same recurring nightmare for years. Her heart pounding in her chest. A panicked voice, begging her to run faster. Her own bloodcurdling scream. But now Annie is starting to realize it’s more than just a bad dream. She’s starting to remember things about the night her cousin Jenny disappeared all those years ago. Things that make her believe her family was involvedand what they’re hiding is much worse than she ever imagined. But she can’t unravel this alone. She needs someone she can trust, someone like sexy Detective Mark Sutton ….
Mark has seen enoughtoo muchto assume that Annie’s story is a dead end. It turns out that her family is hiding some killer secrets. A long time ago, Annie was just an innocent little girl who saw something she shouldn’t. Now she’s a target, and Mark’s running out of time to protect the woman he’s starting to fall for. But how does Mark face off against a murderer who just may be someone Annie loves?
Don’t Breathe A Word: 
Police detective Juan Acosta doesn’t only carry scars on the outside. He’s filled with guilt and anger ever since his undercover job led to the murder of those he loved the most. Now he’s living for one thing: revenge. That is, until Juan meets his beautiful new neighbor.
Vicki Holloway prides herself on being capable and independent, but her life is turned upside down when her sister Sara is killed by an abusive ex. Fearing for the safety of her niece, Vicki and the little girl go into hiding…resurfacing in Texas with new identities.
Juan finds his once-frozen heart thawing around Vicki, but he knows she’s hiding something. Juan needs answers, but Vicki isn’t talking. She has to keep her secrets if she wants to keep Bell safe, which means resisting her growing feelings for the sexy, scarred man next door. But when Juan’s quest for justice brings danger to her door, divulging the truth might be the only thing that keeps her alive.

 

My rating:  1.75 & 3.0  stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested these because the plots sounded really interesting and I liked the availability of getting them both together. I definitely liked the second novel better. So going in order, the first book I didn’t love. For a book written in 2018 it seemed like it was written in 1990 – it felt a little outdated. The heroine has sex with the hero on the first date and then follows up with that by calling herself a slut multiple times, which I was just not ok with. She also makes some pretty  And the hero was a pretty intense alcoholic and just could not get his stuff together. Plus the mystery I found to be kind of flat, they were making a big deal out of it but then it turned out to not be that much of a thing. Although I was interested in reading until the end to find out what happened, I found the book to be dry and there were some really problematic pieces to it. Overall I did not really enjoy this one too much.

The second book I liked a lot better. The romance development between the characters felt a little rushed / underdeveloped but I liked the mystery plot line a lot better. I still felt like it was a little outdated for how recently it was published but there wasn’t as much sex-shaming as there was in the first book. The villain in this book was intensely villainous – he was a bad freaking dude and was definitely scary. The hero and heroine both had areas that I thought they could have been developed further. The climactic scene also went by really quickly – I thought it could have been drawn out a bit more. Overall though I liked this one better than the first in the series and I wanted to keep reading it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #22 – Ricochet by Sandra Brown

51iJvQPeJzL._SX272_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Ricochet
Author: Sandra Brown
Date finished: 4/29/19
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: 2007 (originally published August 15, 2006)
Pages in book: 515
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased!

Blurb from the cover:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Seeing Red presents a spine-tingling story of murder and betrayal in high society Savannah, where a homicide detective finds his career—and life—on the line.

When Savannah detective Duncan Hatcher is summoned to an unusual crime scene, he knows discretion is key. Influential Judge Cato Laird’s beloved trophy wife, Elise, has fatally shot a burglar. She claims self-defense, but Duncan suspects she’s lying, and puts his career in jeopardy by investigating further. Then, in secret, Elise makes an incredible allegation, which he dismisses as the lie of a cunning woman trying to exploit his intense attraction to her. But when Elise goes missing, Duncan finds that trusting the wrong person could mean the difference between life and death for both of them.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I have read a lot of books by this author in the past and I just love her books. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately, between work and trying to catch up with having a semblance of a personal life, there hasn’t been much time left for reading. I decided to pick this one up to get re-started since Sandra Brown is one of my all-time faves.

I liked this book ok. There were some good plot twists, and there was a good amount of suspense to the plot. It was just so sad – I felt so bad for all the characters involved. And there was some darkness too, Duncan went to a pretty dark place in trying to catch Savich at the end and I thought he ended up a little too far outside the lines for me. This wasn’t my favorite of Sandra Brown’s novels but I enjoyed it and I think it’ll help me get back into the swing of reading again! I’d recommend giving it a try if you enjoy romantic suspense or a cop mystery.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2019 Book #11 & #12 – Romantic Re-reads!

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As part of my Bookish Bingo reading challenge for February – I decided to go back and re-read a couple of my all time favorites. 

51MIUFVflXL._SX294_BO1,204,203,200_My Nerdy Valentine by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Finished 2/12/19, 3.0 stars out of 5 stars, Romance Novel Bingo “Geeky Lead” box

This book was published back in 2007 and I’ve had it in my library since about then. VLT has been one of my favorite authors since I discovered her back when I was in high school. She wrote a number of books in her “Nerd Series” and while this one wasn’t one of my favorites, it was a good re-read for Valentine’s Day. I struggled a lot in high school with being a “nerd” and this book was one of the first to really help me understand that there is someone out there for everyone, whether you’re cool or a nerd. This is definitely a steamy series, though this read in particular is probably one of the more “tame” of the set. With an underlying mystery, it was a great read to get into the Valentine’s spirit. My main issue with the book is that I honestly just can’t stand Gloria (Amanda’s boss), she is WAY too aggressive for me. Overall though this is a cute read, I’d recommend it – though there are others in the series that I’d recommend first I think!

51pbplI+NrL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Now You See Her by Linda Howard

Finished 2/16/19, 4.75 stars out of 5 stars, Romance Novel Bingo “Your Fave Romance Author” box

Linda Howard is one of, if not my top, favorite author. I can re-read her books time and again and continually get the same thrill from reading them. This book has always been one of my all-time favorites of hers, and I’m super glad I got a chance to re-read it for Valentine’s Day this year. This was one of the first books I read by LH and probably one of my first forays into romantic suspense. And even though this book was written 20 years ago, it is still as great today as it was then. Some books that I read from the 90’s or before can be outdated, with heavy handed alpha characters and wilting heroines. This book definitely has an alpha hero – Richard is just about as alpha as they get – but he also respects and listens to his heroine. I think I probably read this book in high school too, and it created a love of alpha heroes for me, but more than that it instilled the idea in me that alphas don’t necessarily have to overpower their heroines but instead can work as a team. This is a great read and I’d highly recommend it!

2018 Book #95 – Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Secret Sisters
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Date finished: 12/17/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Purchased!

Blurb from the cover:

Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters—until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

They knew his name, the man who tried to brutally attack twelve-year-old Madeline in her grandmother’s hotel. They thought they knew his fate. He wouldn’t be bothering them anymore…ever. Still their lives would never be the same. 

Madeline has returned to Washington after her grandmother’s mysterious death. And at the old, abandoned hotel—a place she never wanted to see again—a dying man’s last words convey a warning: the secrets she and Daphne believed buried forever have been discovered.

Now, after almost two decades, Madeline and Daphne will be reunited in friendship and in fear. Unable to trust the local police, Madeline summons Jack Rayner, the hotel chain’s new security expert. Despite the secrets and mysteries that surround him, Jack is the only one she trusts…and wants. 

Jack is no good at relationships but he does possess a specific skill set that includes a profoundly intimate understanding of warped and dangerous minds. With the assistance of Jack’s brother, Abe, a high-tech magician, the four of them will form an uneasy alliance against a killer who will stop at nothing to hide the truth….

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

I have read a lot of books by this author in the past and I just love her books. I purchased this book from a discount book store in Williamsburg, VA while I was on vacation a couple months ago. I have been having trouble keeping up with my review schedule (I’m chafing against how constrained I’ve been in my reading schedule the past few years) so I decided to pick this up and read it! 

I haven’t been super thrilled with some of this author’s other recent releases. It started to feel like there was a “plot formula” that was being followed. And while this book’s plot does still feel a bit similar to those I’ve read in the past, I still really enjoyed it. There were definitely some things that felt different about this one, I felt really interested in how things were going to turn out. And although I had somewhat of an idea, the plot twists kept me guessing right up until the end. There was a great build up in tension within the plot line but I still thought there was a lack of chemistry between the main characters. It felt almost like the emotions at play were a tad forced, it didn’t feel like there was a depth of real emotions there. This could have just been me personally not being able to connect much with the characters, but I find that this is a common issue for me with this author’s more recent work. It didn’t take much away from my enjoyment of the story though since I enjoyed the plot line so much. I’d still recommend reading it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page