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Critical Instinct by Janie Crouch

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Magic/Paranormal/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense/ Speculative Fiction 14th May 2017
Critical Instinct by Janie CrouchCritical Instinct by Janie Crouch
Series: Instinct #2
Published by Calamity Jane Publishing on April 10th 2017
Pages: 212
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four-stars

Every single person Paige has drawn has ended up dead. And now she’s drawn herself.
Paige Jeffries is the darling of the art world. Her works are original, compelling. But after a brutal attack two years ago —a savage beating from an unknown assailant—Paige has become all but a recluse. She knows her mind is broken. In her sleep she’s drawing scenes of violence. Murders. Going to the cops isn’t an option because they already think she’s crazy. And they may be right.
Seasoned homicide detective Brett Wagner is asked to look into a cold case nobody wants: the assault and battery of a local artist who claims to have drawn a picture of her own attack before it even happened. He remembers shy Paige from high school, and is driven to find her attacker, to believe her when nobody else does, to protect the innocent beauty.
Because when he witnesses firsthand what Paige is drawing in her sleep, Brett realizes they are scenes from actual cases. Cases that had no connection until now. Portland has a secret serial killer, and Paige is somehow linked to his mind.
And he’s coming for her.

‘Primal Instinct’ was my first-ever read by Janie Crouch and I’d always hoped that she would continue that very unusual series which, for a time, plunged me into paranormal crime-solving-type thrillers.

‘Critical Instinct’ is pretty much quite the answer to my pagan prayers and sacrificial offering, with a rather creepy introduction of a victim – a famous artist – who has actually drawn the picture of her own assault weeks before it really happened. It’s a combination as well of art, auras and people with special abilities (without going too much into quirky voodoo that gives me the creeps) and whether these have their place at all in law enforcement, which is based on the opposing part of the spectrum dealing with rational and logical problem-solving. But I liked the esoteric part simply because it was an original perspective on paranormal suspense for me, as much as I liked the chemistry between Brett and Paige.

Paige’s and Brett’s romance did come a little quickly for me nonetheless – I think I could have liked more UST as well as a bit more explosive steam when it finally breaks – but the focus is as always, and typical of this genre, the crime and the race to nail down the perpetrator before the heroine gets taken down. The psychic link between Paige and the perp also wasn’t exactly explained fully enough for me to believe, as was the strange reason for the latter’s choice of victims, but it’s definitely a breath of fresh air from the type of romantic thrillers that I’ve come across in a long, long time.

I’m simply glad I didn’t put off this book the moment I discovered Crouch was continuing this series. There’s just so much here to plumb and I’m hoping Crouch takes it all the way.

four-stars

Armored Attraction by Janie Crouch

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 20th May 2016
Armored Attraction by Janie CrouchArmored Attraction by Janie Crouch
Series: Omega Sector: Critical Response #3
Published by Harlequin on June 1st 2016
Pages: 224
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two-stars

One secret can change everything 
It's been eight years since Liam Goetz has seen his ex-fiancé. Vanessa Epperson had everything: beauty, brains…and a family fortune. He chose her, while she chose a life of luxury and never imagined their paths would cross again. An unexpected phone call from Vanessa—desperate for his help in a human trafficking case—ressurects old longings. As they work together to save hostages and catch a predator, Liam begins to learn some shocking truths—about himself and the woman he thought he once knew so well…

Stumbling onto a body on a beach leads Vanessa Epperson into a human trafficking ring and the shady dealings in her hometown that involves the local law enforcement. The only person she can turn to is an ex-fiancé, who thought the worst of her when she apparently chose money and breeding over him.

While I liked the suspense and the storyline well enough, this book caught me out in a classic case of liking the heroine but hating the ‘hero’, as well as the pace at which they fell back into a relationship too easily and without much friction at all. I barely found Liam’s actions and behaviour acceptable, especially because Vanessa had paid the heavier price for the misunderstanding that had torn them apart for years. In the meantime the ‘hero’ went off womanising for the next 8 years, yet claimed that he was still coming back to the woman he apparently never stopped loving, except for the fact that it was her reaching out to him that gave him that kick in the arse – the flimsiest excuse I’ve ever seen and I was astounded at Vanessa for giving into him so easily.

Granted, it is my own intolerance for manwhores that finds this behaviour irksome, particularly when the heroine had clearly changed for the better and the male protagonist for the worse. In fact, it was difficult to stomach their HEA when I felt that Vanessa deserved way better than Liam after all that she’d endured while he lifted skirts everywhere else.

two-stars

Countermeasures by Janie Crouch

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 4th February 2015
Countermeasures by Janie CrouchCountermeasures (Omega Sector #2) by Janie Crouch
Published by Harlequin on January 20th 2015
Pages: 224
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four-stars


THE CLOCK WAS TICKING, THE ENEMY WAS WATCHING…

At first it looked like a glorified babysitting job: safeguard a scientist while she created a countermeasure to neutralize a dangerous weapon that had fallen into the wrong hands. But when Dr. Megan Fuller's life was threatened, undercover agent Sawyer Branson knew the enemy was closing in. Sticking by Megan 24/7 wasn't something he took lightly, even if Megan didn't seem to appreciate his constant presence. For a man used to getting any woman he wanted, Megan was a challenge he was coming to enjoy. Because beneath her boxy lab coat and pinned-back hair lay a brilliant and beautiful warrior. And before long, Sawyer's determination to save the world was matched only by the sudden need to make Megan his.

Sawyer Branson accidentally tripped and punched his boss, or at least, that’s how the official line goes. The punishment befits the crime and he’s sent to babysit a computer scientist who’s suddenly at risk because of her ability to develop a countermeasure for a piece of equipment that can potentially ruin the entirety of law enforcement. It’s all a hack job that’s way below of his abilities…until he meets Dr. Zane Megan Fuller, whom he mistakes as a receptionist. The stakes have never been higher when Megan suddenly finds herself the target of several attacks and amidst the escalating violence she and Sawyer get a lot closer than they had ever anticipated.

I definitely liked the second parter in what should be called the Branson series a lot better and Megan is a great heroine (an alluring mix of geek, uncertainty and bravery) as well as a good complement to the charming playboy whose charms just can’t quite function normally with her. My only complaint is the abrupt end and the sudden jump from attraction to love that leaves me rather unconvinced about them not quite having yet worked out their issues about trust.

four-stars
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