Tag: Mystery/Crime

Into the Whirlwind by Kat Martin

Into the Whirlwind by Kat MartinInto the Whirlwind (BOSS, Inc. #2) by Kat Martin
Series: ,
Published by Zebra on May 31st 2016
Pages: 400
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two-stars

"I love her books!" --Linda Lael Miller
"Martin is superb." --RT Book Reviews
A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a private investigator, no one can handle the heat like the men of BOSS, Inc.
Megan O'Brien is at her wit's end. Her three-year-old son has been kidnapped. No police, says the ransom demand. Fearing for her son's life, Meg has no choice but to turn to her former bodyguard, Dirk Reynolds.
Dirk's never forgiven Meg for the way she left him after their brief affair. But with bounty hunter Luke Brodie on his side, Dirk knows he's got to help Meg rescue her son.
The few clues they’ve gathered send them spiraling into a murky world of big banking and international crime. Meg may be way out of her depths, but she’s seeing a side of Dirk she never suspected—one no woman could possibly resist.

Desperation isn’t a good colour on anyone, least of all, a former model.

Megan O’Brien’s only hope – or so she makes it out to be – when her precious son is kidnapped is Dirk Reynolds, the man she’d heartlessly cut loose because he hadn’t conformed to her ideals of family and the approval of her parents. What follows is rather predictable – Dirk isn’t able to resist her pleas at all despite wanting to keep his distance – and the trail that opens up after her son is rescued is a far more interesting one that I can say of Meg and Dirk’s complicated relationship.

It bothered me a lot that, in this second-chance story, that Meg’s affections seemed conditional: save her son, get approval from her parents finally meant being good enough after proving oneself, which Dirk essentially did in an uphill climb to call himself trustworthy in her eyes. It only took a kidnapping it seemed, before Meg saw him for his qualities and decided that things should change between them. Ultimately, it was difficult to support this pairing when Meg seemed to reinforce that shallowness (except for when it comes to her son), even showing several TSTL moments throughout the book. The requisite HEA naturally demands that Meg accepts Dirk for himself before this pairing rides into their sunset, yet it was difficult by then, to change my impression of her and of the suitability of the couple.

That said, I’d definitely want to know the stories of the rest of Boss, Inc. – and Luke’s setup and his extensive involvement in this book – is a perfect hook for the next in the series.

two-stars

Delta: Rescue by Cristin Harber

Delta: Rescue by Cristin HarberDelta: Rescue: A MacKenzie Family Novella by Cristin Harber
Series: Delta #2.5
on February 15th 2016
Pages: 122
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two-stars

From Liliana Hart's New York Times bestselling MacKenzie family comes a new story by New York Times bestselling author Cristin Harber... When Luke Brenner takes an off-the-books job on the MacKenzie-Delta joint task force, he has one goal: shut down sex traffickers on his personal hunt for retribution. This operation brings him closer than he's ever been to avenge his first love, who was taken, sold, and likely dead. Madeleine Mercier is the daughter of an infamous cartel conglomerate. Their family bleeds money, they sell pleasure, they sell people. She knows no other life, sees no escape, except for one. Maddy is the only person who can take down Papa, when every branch of law enforcement in every country, is on her father's payroll. It's evil. To want to ruin, to murder, her family. But that's what she is. Ruined for a life outside of destroying her father. She can't feel arousal. Has never been kissed. Never felt anything other than disgust for the world that she perpetuates. Until she clashes with a possible mercenary who gives her hope. The hunter versus the virgin. The predator and his prey. When forced together, can enemies resist the urge to run away or destroy one another?

In the mad, mad world of Cristin Harber’s Titan and Delta, very few things make sense in the logical realm, or at least that’s the lesson I’ve come to learn the further and deeper I get into the Titan books. A mercenary meets and falls in lust/love with the virgin daughter of a far-reaching human trafficker, and somehow thinks there is a common ground between his very unnatural addiction to pain and her own special brand of fighting back against her father.

I’ve come to associate these peculiar oddities and plot weirdness only with Ms. Harber: there’re always switchbacks, unpredictable moves and odd behaviour patterns of the characters that I can’t ever put my finger on – and perhaps this is a turn-on for some. Yet the brevity of the book sadly, hugely contributes to the unbelievability of the tale; as much as Ms. Harber’s trademark, distinctive writing helps pad the surreal feel of the story, I was left sceptically scratching my head about Luke and Maddy’s tenuous connection and a plot so fantastically crazy it can only belong in a James Bond spoof.

two-stars

True Peril by Veronica Forand

True Peril by Veronica ForandTrue Peril by Veronica Forand
Series: True Lies #3
Published by Entangled: Select Suspense on March 7th 2016
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two-stars

She's this assassin's toughest assignment ever...
Socialite Trista Patterson has turned her back on her life of privilege and dedicated herself to helping others. Her mission to protect the world’s children often takes her into the bleak and violent underbelly of third world countries. When a kidnapping attempt goes wrong, Trista quickly finds herself running for her life...and married to a man she just met...as she’s placed at the top of the Cartel’s most wanted list.
Some days no good deed goes unpunished.
Dane O’Brien has spent his life in the shadows. Once a lethal assassin he grew tired of losing his soul with every hit, trading his gun and missions for a conference table and office politics as an undercover operative for the CIA. But when visiting his humanitarian sister turns deadly, Dane finds himself swearing to protect her beautiful and passionate friend Trista no matter the cost...even if it means stepping back into the world he swore never to return to. Although falling for the tough-hearted Trista is easy, keeping her alive is hard.

A kidnapping attempt goes terribly wrong and leads Trista Patterson down a road she’d never imagine. In a matter of days, she finds her old identity buried and a new one that proclaims her married to a man whose past is kept from her and a new career path that she’s blackmailed into by Simon Dunn.

‘True Peril’ is a plunge back into the shadowy world of arms-dealing, covert operations, double-crossings and deep cover identities that Veronica Forand portrays with intricate detail, but it also reminds me of the slightly off characterisations that once again, make me hesitate about liking both Trista/Dane as a pairing. There are narrative twists and turns that made me incredulous than thrilled and like Trista/Eve, I felt rail-roaded into reading about decisions that were difficult to accept.

Dane and Eve on their own are formidable characters; the latter more than the former at least, because her fortitude in the face of uncertainty and mitigating circumstances was more than admirable. But together, their relationship is frustrating for reasons that I find difficult to articulate other than the premise of it being a fictional one based on necessity. Their connection was merely lukewarm and never quite fulfilled its potential, with Dane doing little to deepen a bond that he proclaims to want after knowing her for a short period of time. They spend much of the book flitting in and out of each other’s lives, behaving like Simon’s pawns (once again, I’m reminded why I couldn’t like Simon at all as a leading main character), with very little opportunity for trust to build all around. Dane spends all his time trying to deny Eve’s capabilities while Eve’s conciliatory attitude to Dane and Simon after their awful treatment of her baffled me. Consequently, their mutual declarations of love in enemy crossfire felt forced and abrupt, particularly after Eve had sort of been betrayed by Dane and Simon.

My enjoyment of this story has been greatly curtailed by the fact that the romance inserted into the story—and its dysfunctional characters—felt too stunted to buy into; perhaps ‘True Peril’ would have functioned better as a suspense novel without any romantic entanglement at all.

two-stars

Vulnerable by Mary Burton

Vulnerable by Mary BurtonVulnerable (Morgans of Nashville, #4) by Mary Burton
Series: Morgans of Nashville #4
Published by Pinnacle on March 29th 2016
Pages: 384
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two-stars

The Smallest Mistake
Three went in; one came out. For five years, no trace has been found of two high-school friends who went hiking in the woods near Nashville. The third teen, Amber Ryder, was discovered at the bottom of a ravine with a broken arm, head trauma--and zero memory of the horror that put her there.
Will Put You
What started as a cold case has become a fresh hell for forensic technician Georgia Morgan. Another woman's body is found in the woods, and it leads to the missing teens' remains. But while Georgia works with Amber to try and reawaken her memories, her gut tells her the worst is yet to come.
At A Killer's Mercy
Homicide Detective Jake Bishop can't be sure whether Amber is an expert manipulator or the killer's next target. Either way, he's determined to protect Georgia. Because the deeper she digs into the past, the deadlier the secrets that emerge, and a nightmare years in the making is about to come to a bloody, terrifying end…

A puzzling cold case is reopened when a woman’s body is found in the woods along with the remains of two teenagers who disappeared five years ago, forcing forensic technician Georgia Morgan to work with homicide detective Jake Bishop.

For everything plot related, Mary Burton runs a tight ship and plays the details of the case with ease. But while ‘Vulnerable’ is an excellent example of a police procedural, I would be cautious in labelling this book as romantic suspense when it’s more a crime novel with some (not entirely believable) romantic elements.

I wasn’t entirely convinced that Jake and Georgia was a credible pairing; there is a goodly amount of UST and banter, but given Jake’s unapologetic man-whore reputation and Georgia’s caution when it comes to men like him, their sudden fall into bed together (and apparently straight into a committed relationship from there) towards the 75% mark of the book seems like an obligatory scene rather than an inspired one. Much less the declaration of love by the end of the book which I absolutely couldn’t buy, especially when the leading couple in question spent as much time together as the other criminal suspect-couples did.

My personal dissatisfaction simply stems from what might be called mislabelling of this particular genre; the lack of development and depth for Jake and Georgia tanked my rating of the book only because I was on the lookout for a more solid gasp of a pairing that didn’t quite materialise convincingly. This story would however, be right on point for those who prefer a ‘purer form’ of the crime novel – where pairings and relationships take a backseat to plot-development.

two-stars

By Her Side by Lizzy Chandler

By Her Side by Lizzy ChandlerBy Her Side by Lizzy Chandler
Published by Harlequin Enterpises AU on December 1st 2015
Pages: 210
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four-stars

She would trust him with her life. But can either of them trust their hearts? Rory Sutton Whitfield isn’t a princess, even though her wealthy family insists on treating her like one. Fresh from her travels and finally achieving the independence she craves, the last thing she wants is to become swept up in family problems. But her half-brother has disappeared and her grandfather insists on hiring a bodyguard for her. Rory won’t be controlled by anyone, especially not a taciturn detective like Vince Maroney, a man of few words who nonetheless arouses disturbing emotions. Vince Maroney has learned his lesson about playing the hero; he stepped up once and it cost him everything. But when he saves the granddaughter of one of Sydney’s wealthiest men, he finds himself embroiled in events beyond his control. Rory is beautiful, smart, independent. But her family is all secrets and lies, money papered over injustices. Rory makes him feel things he thought long dead, but the pains of the past create distance, and she comes from a completely different world. How can one of Sydney’s pampered princesses ever find common ground with her reluctant bodyguard?

Vince Maroney’s path is set on a collision course with a wealthy woman when he saves Rory Whitfield and her grandfather from a near-accident. What appears to be an isolated incident however, is soon revealed to be a tangled web of apparent coincidences when Rory’s half-brother vanishes and a series of clues turn up that might account for his disappearance. Hired soon after as Rory’s bodyguard, Vince realises that his past is as entwined with Rory’s special set of circumstances, unleashing the demons that he hadn’t really managed to lock away.

A deftly written, well-plotted suspense story that was surprisingly engaging once I got through a quarter of it, ‘By Her Side’ threw out a good mystery and a sufficient number of red-herrings to keep me occupied enough to try putting the pieces together on my own. The story is brought to life in stunning Sydney and its surrounds and Lizzy Chandler paints a vivid yet thorny picture of the urban environment to the criminal activity that had seeped into the ranks of law enforcement. Yet her believably decent characters smooth the way out – without extremes of emotions that resemble a soap opera -, hurtling their way to a tense conclusion and an altogether satisfying ending.

four-stars

Dead by Midnight: An I-Team Christmas by Pamela Clare

Dead by Midnight: An I-Team Christmas by Pamela ClareDead by Midnight by Pamela Clare
Series: I-Team #7.5
Published by Pamela Clare on November 16th 2015
Pages: 238
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four-stars

Marc and Sophie Hunter, Gabe and Kat Rossiter, Holly Andris and the rest of the I-Team gang find themselves in the same historic Denver hotel celebrating the approach of Christmas at different holiday parties. What starts out as a fun winter evening with friends soon becomes a brutal fight to survive when the hotel is taken over by a group of ruthless narco-terrorists who will stop at nothing to get what they want. On the outside, Julian Darcangelo, Zach McBride, Nick Andris, and others join together with the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team in a desperate bid to free their friends, knowing that if they fail, the people they love will be... Dead by Midnight. Featuring cameo appearances by the men of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, a series by New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross.

Very well-written with a great little insertion of Kaylea Cross’s FBI HRT guys, although right now it hits all too close to home in the wake of the tragic Paris attacks at the end of 2015. Reading Pamela Clare’s blow-by-blow account of the shootout and hostage-taking is almost akin to walking the doomed footsteps of the anonymous thousands who took themselves out in the mild autumn Parisian evening and came back forever changed. But insoasfar as fiction mirrors reality, Ms. Clare gives her readers at least, a reprieve from the brutal violence, and ends her I-team series on a high.

four-stars

In the Waning Light by Loreth Anne White

In the Waning Light by Loreth Anne WhiteIn the Waning Light by Loreth Anne White
Published by Amazon Publishing on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 420
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four-stars

Two decades after her sister's brutal attack and murder, Meg Brogan has finally found happiness...or so it appears. A bestselling true-crime writer, Meg has money, fame, and a wealthy fiancé. But when a television-show host presses her to tackle the one story everyone claims she cannot write--the story of her own family's destruction--her perfect life shatters.
Determined to finally face her past, Meg returns to her hometown of Shelter Bay. Shrouded in cold, brooding fog, the close-knit coastal town harbors dark secrets and suspicious residents. One of the few people to welcome Meg back is Blake Sutton, her high-school sweetheart and the marina's new owner. Desperate for clues, Meg digs through her family's files. As Pacific storms brew outside, her passion for Blake reignites.
But someone doesn't want Meg digging up the past. And that person will go to deadly lengths to prevent the writer from revealing a terrible truth.

The idyllic small town carries dark secrets that Meg Brogan is about to unleash and no one but her old friend and flame Blake Sutton is supportive of her decision to do that. As Meg and Blake struggle with their attraction and commitment to each other, the can of worms she has forced open has also set in motion a juggernaut of events that eventually puts their lives at stake.

Loreth Anne White’s standalone novels have been impressive so far and this is no different, even if it’s truly hard to like the recounting of brutality and the fight to stop evil in its wake. The complicated past is reconstructed through dialogues, book excerpts and memories – and all are unreliable with the secrets that every character wants to protect. Darkly atmospheric and extremely unsettling, we’re taken through these floating pieces of the puzzle just as we’re always forced to consider whether really knowing a person is in fact, an utter impossibility.

four-stars