Author: Barbara Freethy

Desperate Play by Barbara Freethy

Desperate Play by Barbara FreethyDesperate Play by Barbara Freethy
Series: Off The Grid: FBI Trilogy, #3
Published by Fog City Publishing, LLC - Hyde Street Press on 13th June 2018
Pages: 359
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Special Agent Wyatt Tanner has always worked undercover. He thrives in the dark of the night. He survives by turning himself into someone else. But living so long in the shadows can make a man forget who he really is. When people start dying, when he finds blood on his own hands, he questions the choices he has made, the people he is with.

Can he find his way back to the light? Can he trust the beautiful woman who needs his help? Or does she also have a secret life?

He'll have to make one desperate play to find out…

Barbara Freethy is not an author I usually turn to for my usual Romantic Suspense fix, but the blurb of this book sounded interesting enough. At least, well enough because it rubs all my kinks about undercover and double identities the right way.

Freethy has up a great opening that catches Wyatt Tanner smack dab in the middle of an undercover op, or at least in the middle of a nefarious start of one, where he infiltrates a possible case of industrial espionage at Nova Star for the FBI. That much sets the tone for ‘Desperate Play’, where he gets tangled more and more in the affairs of Astrophysicist and employee of Nova Star Avery Caldwell who’s found herself an unwitting player in a murder investigation.

Freethy’s red herrings—in the form of random suggestions, insinuations and some supposed clues—that throw suspicion on every character do keep the good ol’ whodunnit mystery rolling and kept me guessing because the big picture couldn’t be put together. The only downside is that it didn’t make the secondary characters likeable at all, while putting only the protagonists above questioning.

Still, ‘Desperate Play’ ended up an unexpectedly slow read for me somehow, with a writing style—sentences, dialogue, etc—that felt a little…amateurish(?) at times…this is however, a personal preference about style coming into play here.

From a steady trot in the first quarter, I also thought that the pacing faltered towards the middle as I went through pages of Avery being a naive pushover where her dead, flaky friend was concerned (the questions she asks as well seem to show that), with Wyatt’s rather adept juggling of his undercover identity becoming the only thing that kept me going.

The rather unsettled ending is certainly a set-up for Freethy next few books in this series, but I did finish the book feeling a bit more short-changed than usual.


Perilous Trust by Barbara Freethy

Perilous Trust by Barbara FreethyPerilous Trust (Off The Grid: FBI Trilogy #1) by Barbara Freethy
Series: Off the Grid #1
Published by Fog City Publishing, LLC - Hyde Street Press on August 1st 2017
Pages: 335
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It was one dark night that brought Damon Wolfe and Sophie Parker together. They were two tortured souls, looking for escape, and they weren't supposed to see each other ever again…

Four years later, Sophie's FBI father, who is also Damon's mentor, is killed in a suspicious car crash after leaving Sophie a cryptic message to trust no one from the agency. When Damon shows up looking for her, she isn't sure if he's friend or enemy, but she knows he could easily rip apart what is left of her heart.

The last thing Damon wants is to get involved with Sophie again. It was hard enough to walk away the first time. But she's in trouble, her father's reputation is under attack, and the lives of his fellow agents are at stake if there's a traitor in their midst.

When someone starts shooting at them, they have no choice but to go on the run and off the grid. Everyone in their world becomes a suspect. They want to uncover the truth, but will it turn out to be the last thing they expect? Proving her father's innocence might just cost them their hearts…and their lives…

I get excited each time I see a new RS series and ‘Perilous Trust’ for a moment there, did get me going with a great opening, a death amidst suspicious circumstances and several parties implicated when that actually happens. Throw in an awkward ‘second-chance’ so to speak and ‘Perilous Trust’ does seem like a good mix to get into when the daughter of a dead FBI agent has her life upended and another upcoming agent who pops back into it just as things start to get messy.

But I thought that was also where storytelling faltered as well. Apart from some dialogues where characters’ speech patterns don’t seem to mirror how people actually talk, Sophie and Damon find themselves cleaning up a mess that’s caused by a peripheral (and dead) character that actually drew in quite a large cast of secondary characters and villains.

There’s also some back history of their friends and their hookup 4 years ago that felt randomly inserted into the mix, which as a result, made me feel more and more like a shipwreck survivor bobbing alone at sea than an invested party in the story clutching at anything and everything to see how it plays out. In other words, the action had ‘spiralled’ outwards so far from where we first started that it was not just difficult to get the connections down, but that I found myself becoming indifferent to them.

That for me, did take the shine off Sophie/Damon’s developing relationship and consequently, I couldn’t exactly buy into them as a couple, let alone believe that what they felt for each other could really go beyond the constructed closeness that sudden danger can bring.

This isn’t to say they aren’t likeable characters on their own though, because they are—for most part. There aren’t TSTL moments, nor random outbursts of hysterics or out-of-character childish behaviour that can tank a story for me, but I didn’t find myself on the edge of my seat or entirely anxious for Sophie/Damon to get their HEA. Perhaps it would have been easier to relate to their relationship had Barbara Freethy spent more time exploring the consequences of what they did 4 years ago but the balance of romance and suspense as always, is a difficult one to master—and please every reader as well.

‘Perilous Trust’ isn’t a bad start though and as said earlier, every new take in RS is something that gets me moist with excitement. I just wished I’d stayed moist the whole time.


Summer Rain by Barbara Freethy

Summer Rain by Barbara FreethySummer Rain by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #3
Published by Hyde Street Press on August 23rd 2016
Pages: 375
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Danielle Monroe is determined to use her new job in DC as a stepping-stone to a high-powered political career. But the secrets surrounding her father's death continue to overshadow her goals. Her family thinks she holds the final piece of the puzzle, but she doesn't even know what the puzzle is until an attractive and possibly dangerous stranger shows up in her life.
Patrick Kane is searching for answers about his own dark tragedy, not realizing that the beautiful Danielle may not just hold the key to his mystery but also his heart. They have to stay alive long enough to find out.

That high-level conspiracy, the mystery of 2 plane crashes and the seemingly unrelated incidents in the first 2 books all culminate in ‘Summer Rain’ in a thrilling conclusion here. There are parts of the story which seemed a little too coincidental and somewhat outlandish but by and large, I thought ‘Summer Rain’ was the best of the lot in this series.

Dani and Patrick did make a good team and their relationship progressed in a way that was believable and not at all angsty. In fact, I liked their camaraderie, the easy conversations between them and unlike books in this genre where a couple is torn apart by the TSTL actions of one party or some shortcoming that a reader can sniff a mile away, Dani/Patrick thankfully exhibited none of this. There’s a mystery to solve, a growing body count and a huge game at the top that no one can quite hope to play and win…but Dani and Patrick did all that as part of their getting to know each other stage, along with a slight hint of the paranormal.

Barbara Freethy’s writing style is very direct and unembellished, which also makes for very easy reading. The action and plot hold steady throughout, even if both do skirt near the ridiculous at times, but it’s not any more than what I’ve come to expect in this high-octane genre where some measure of disbelief has to be suspended after all. I’ll admit readily that Freethy’s style takes a while getting used to – I kind of hail Cindy Gerard’s style, among several others as the one of the best in the genre – but that’s merely my personal bias splitting all those hairs here.

Already there is a small setup for the next series of hers and after this book high, I’m actually looking forward to it.


Tender is the Night by Barbara Freethy

Tender is the Night by Barbara FreethyTender is the Night by Barbara Freethy
Series: Callaways #10
Published by Hyde Street Press on April 8th 2016
Pages: 325
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FBI agent Kate Callaway is on her way to San Francisco for a family wedding when her boss asks her to make a side trip to deliver an important message to a rogue ex-agent.
Devin Scott wanted FBI resources to find a serial killer who is believed to be dead. Instead, he gets a newly minted agent who is a beautiful, idealistic and irritating distraction. He wants her to walk away, and she knows she should go but she can't.
Suddenly, Kate is caught up in a cold-case mystery and the arms of a dangerously sexy man, whose obsession with truth and justice could put not only his life on the line but also hers.

The problem was, I found it way too easy to put down this book, despite the rather interesting storyline about arson and the trail of destruction – both physical and emotional – that it leaves.

Spending a bit of time wondering why made me realise that it was the execution of the plot, or rather, the writing that just didn’t get me moist with excitement at all: even-paced dialogue that sometimes went on and on, neither a deep POV nor omniscient narration, straight and somewhat predictable characters (the cynical hero vs. the optimistic and rather naive heroine) that left me slumped and bored. As a result, I wasn’t invested in the characters at all, found the larger family boisterous but annoying and simply wished the story moved at a more breathless pace towards an ending I expected.


Lightning Lingers by Barbara Freethy

Lightning Lingers by Barbara FreethyLightning Lingers by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes #2
Published by Hyde Street Press on February 15th 2016
Pages: 319
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From #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy comes the second book in a new romantic suspense trilogy: Lightning Strikes. In these connected novels, lightning leads to love, danger, and the unraveling of long-buried secrets that will change not only the past but also the future
Katherine Barrett, a dedicated young doctor, receives a terrified phone call from her younger brother, TJ. He is running away to Mexico to save himself and their family from an unnamed killer. He warns her not to come after him and not to go to the police, as there is no one she can trust. But Katherine realizes there might be someone she can trust
She turns to her former high school sweetheart Jake Monroe the man whose heart she broke a decade earlier. Katherine asks Jake to fly her into a remote and dangerous part of Mexico where no one else dares to go.
Jake had always thought that one day Katherine would realize she needed him, but he didn't expect it to go down this way. Still, he can't resist the beautiful brunette he has never been able to forget.
They set off on an adventure that will take them into the past, unravel a decade of secrets, and lead them into the heart of a lightning storm that will change the way they look at their families, the world, and each other.

Liked the blurb, but the story-telling less so, especially since I’d expected a greater intensity of angst, a harder, edgier time of action and breathlessness which didn’t quite materialise.

Jake and Katherine’s past could have made for an explosive reunion, but unfortunately, I simply ended up with more incredulity than when I started the book. Katherine’s cold ambitions gave me the shivers and her sudden turnaround (and seeming mental transplant) in the jungle after the plane crash, the lightning witchery and the paranormal elements made me more of a cynic than a believer.


Beautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy

Beautiful Storm by Barbara FreethyBeautiful Storm by Barbara Freethy
Series: Lightning Strikes, #1
Published by Hyde Street Press on October 1st 2015
Pages: 321
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When her father's plane mysteriously disappeared in the middle of an electrical storm, Alicia Monroe became obsessed with lightning. Now a news photographer in Miami, Alicia covers local stories by day and chases storms at night. In a flash of lightning, she sees what appears to be a murder, but when she gets to the scene, there is no body, only a military tag belonging to Liliana Valdez, a woman who has been missing for two months.

While the police use the tag to jump-start their stalled investigation, Alicia sets off on her own to find the missing woman. Her search takes her into the heart of Miami's Cuban-American community, where she meets the attractive but brooding Michael Cordero, who has his own demons to vanquish.

Soon Alicia and Michael are not just trying to save Liliana's life but also their own, as someone will do anything to protect a dark secret…

Storm Chaser Alicia Monroe’s latest lightning photoshoot leads her to a pair of military dog tags and sucks her into a cold case of a missing JAG attorney – Liliana Valdez. Going on her own investigative trail leads her to Valdez’s childhood friend, Michael Cordero, who is determined to find justice for Liliana.

‘Beautiful Storm’ was a mediocre read for me personally. There wasn’t anything wrong with both the H/hr whose chemistry seemed a little lukewarm at best (barring the cheesy ending of declarations), but the case felt far too removed from Alicia and Michael and bored me boneless the moment the details of the case started emerging.