Friday, February 24, 2017

Lynette Eason's "Moving Target" - like The Most Dangerous Game

Moving Target #3   -     By: Lynette Eason
In the third of the Elite Guardian novels, bodyguard Maddy McKaye and Detective Quinn Holcombe are abducted shortly before Quinn's birthday party and wake up on an island, where their host takes pleasure in hunting the most dangerous game--humans. Can they outwit the killer and catch him before he catches up with them?

While it cannot be said I remember every book I've ever read, there is one chilling short story from high school that I'll never forget: "The Most Dangerous Game," by Richard Connell. Moving Target takes the basic concept of that story and brings it into the modern era, but in a twisted game rigged against the prey.

I kind of wish the time on the island had lasted longer--survivalist stories are always so thrilling. However, the suspense holds throughout the story; that's one thing that I can always depend on in an Eason book--non-stop action and suspense. I do wish Maddy had been a bit wiser in some of her choices a couple times in the book; given her background in law enforcement, I would have expected a more sensible course of action, especially when her gut is warning her that something is off. In her place, I'd have been paranoid and suspicious of everyone with ties to the case.

Both Maddy and Quinn are dealing with baggage (similar enough that I wanted to bash their heads together a couple times--clear case of the pot and kettle), but it's nice to see them make progress throughout the book and develop a greater understanding of God. They aren't my favorite couple of the series, but when the chips are down, they work well together.

Thank you Revell and NetGalley for providing a free e-book. No review, positive or otherwise, was required, and all opinions are my own.

Elite Guardians
1. Always Watching
2. Without Warning
3. Moving Target
4. Chasing Secrets

Monday, February 20, 2017

"A Note Yet Unsung" by Tamera Alexander

A Note Yet Unsung (Belmont Mansion, #3)Rebekah Carrington returns to Nashville after a decade in Vienna needing employment, and auditions for a position in the upcoming Nashville Philharmonic. Rejected by Maestro Tate Whitcomb purely on the grounds of her gender, she follows another lead to Belmont Mansion, where the formidable Adelicia Acklen hires her to work with her children. However, even though he denied her a position in the orchestra, Tate needs an assistant who can help him complete his symphony, and Rebekah has all the qualifications. But will she be willing to help him after he ruined her dreams?

If the author doesn't know much about music, you wouldn't know it to read this book. It's a tribute to both the masters--such as Beethoven and Mozart--and to early American music, particularly hymns and spirituals. Tate reminds me of famous American composers Aaron Copeland and the Gershwin brothers, who mixed elements of both kinds of music in their masterpieces.

I enjoyed meeting Tate's family; they add an unexpected dimension to Tate's character. However, I do wish Rebekah's family situation had been expanded more, since it's purely the reason she has to seek employment and lodging outside her home (bringing about the entire story).

The book stands perfectly on its own, though there are cameos of characters from former books. Over all, though, it's a rich story in the author's classic fashion. It's also a tie for first place in the historical romance category of the 2017 Christy Awards!

Belmont Mansion
1. A Lasting Impression
2. A Beauty So Rare
3. A Note Yet Unsung

Belle Meade Plantation (contains some cross-over characters/connections to Belmont)
1. To Whisper Her Name
2. To Win Her Favor 
2.5 "To Mend a Dream" (part of the novella collection Among the Fair Magnolias)
3. To Wager Her Heart

Catrnton Mansion
0.5: "Christmas at Carnton" (novella)

Friday, February 17, 2017

"The Illusionist's Apprentice" by Kristy Cambron---history, suspense, and illusion

The Illusionist's Apprentice
It isn't magic, it's misdirection. People don't rise from the grave twenty years later, and they don't fall dead seconds afterward. But that's how it appears. FBI Agent Elliot Matthews knows it isn't magic, but he needs an illusionist to help him solve the case, and Houdini's former apprentice, Wren Lockheart, is the best--not only does she know Houdini's secrets, but she helped the famous illusionist debunk spiritualists like the fraud who claims to have brought this corpse back to life. But teaming up with the FBI brings more trouble than Wren bargained for, and her carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her . . .

Layers of illusion dominate the story. Only after you peel back what Wren presents to the world and what she believes herself to be will you see the truth of what she actually is--a beautiful soul, wounded, but still strong. Everything else is the distraction to hide the truth of her vulnerability. Then, of course, there are the illusions that others present to the world, and you never know what secrets they're hiding . . .

I loved the combination of Vaudeville and old-fashioned crime drama. I wasn't expecting the heavy element of suspense, but it fit perfectly into the theme of illusion. Though the storylines are completely different, it reminded me of the film The Prestige--the deceptions, the darkness, the impossible made possible--or rather, the appearance of the impossible becoming possible. The focus isn't so much on what's on stage, but the truth behind what the illusionists present to the world. I should mention, though, in the end, this story is a lot more uplifting than The Prestige.

I loved the transformation of Wren through the story--or is it just the revelation of what she truly is behind her eccentric facade? In any case, it's a fascinating tale. I highly recommend it!

I received a free e-book via the publisher through NetGalley. No review, positive or otherwise, was required; all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dani Pettrey's "Still Life" - delightfully creepy suspense

Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2)Crime scene photographer Avery Tate attends the opening of a photography exhibit a friend modeled for, but the only image of her friend is one of her posing as if dead--and really looking dead, unlike the other models. The photographer claims he didn't take the photograph, and when her friend can't be found, Avery turns to the person she trusts most for help--her former boss, Parker Mitchell. As they look for her friend, what they uncover is something far darker than they could have imagined.

I've really been enjoying this series, and I highly recommend reading Cold Shot first. The group dynamics, part of what makes the series so great, are richer for reading the whole series. Plus, the books are building on each other; not only are we getting to know the characters better, but they are slowly progressing on the case of a friend who vanished seven years before.

In the meantime, there's an intense case in this book, centered around Avery and an old friend of hers. It is marvelously creepy for a Christian suspense (though still tasteful, especially in comparison to most crime shows). The art depicted is certainly not something that I would want to create or buy! I enjoy a good suspense, and this is one. And the title is very fitting.

Based on what I've read so far, the books in this series are more dependent on each other than you often find in a romantic suspense series, so I have a feeling I will enjoy rereading it even more when the series is complete. But don't let it stop you from reading this book now! I can't wait to see what the crew investigates next!

Thank you Bethany House for providing a free book. No review--positive or otherwise--was required, and all opinions are my own.

Chesapeake Valor
1. Cold Shot
2. Still Life
3. Blind Spot
4. Dead Drift 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Susan May Warren's "Rescue Me"-- thrilling outdoor survival

Rescue Me (Montana Rescue, #2)Deputy Sam Brooks has determined that practical, organized Sierra Rose is the girl for him, and definitely not her impulsive, hippie sister Willow. But when Sierra cries off a planned day hike in the mountains, abandoning him with Willow and the church youth group, none of them expect that that day will stretch into more when bad weather strands them in the wilderness. With a crew of frightened teenagers and more bad weather on the way, Sam and Willow have to work together if they're all going to come out alive. And maybe Sam will learn surrendering control is not the end of the world . . .

I enjoyed the intense outdoor survival theme, from being trapped on a mountain in bad weather to wrestling bears. Based on what friends of mine who used to frequent Glacier National Park have said, the grizzly encounters in this story sound pretty authentic. Apparently terror can really aid in the climbing of trees, to the point one doesn't notice how much skin one is shedding in one's haste. It was a thrilling survival story!

I really liked Willow. She wants to be really loved, to have someone rescue her after a life of neglect. But the thing is, though she desires to be rescued, she's not a damsel in distress. She is smart and capable, and she has more faith than just about anyone else in the book. It's wonderful to have a smart, capable heroine who can still appreciate being rescued; too many heroines fall on the polar ends of the spectrum, where either they want absolutely no help or they're completely helpless, while in reality most of us are somewhere in the middle, like Willow.

The one thing I was a little disappointed about was there wasn't as much about Sierra and Ian--only what others (namely Sam and Willow, who, admittedly, both have a close relationship with Sierra) could observe. Instead, there was a different secondary couple. Granted, it turns out that Jess and Pete are plenty compelling themselves, so I didn't regret spending time with them; but now I have two secondary couples I want to read more about, and I fear that neither will be the focus in the next book. But maybe I'll be wrong.

This is more than just adventure and romance--there are some good things that Willow and Sam are learning, and it tugs at the heartstrings to watch them grow.

I received a free e-book from Revell via NetGalley. No review, positive or otherwise, was required, and all opinions are my own.

Montana Rescue
1. Wild Montana Skies
2. Rescue Me
3. A Matter of Trust
4. Troubled Waters
5. Storm Front
6. Wait For Me (November 2018)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Patricia Bradley's "Justice Delayed"

Justice Delayed (Memphis Cold Case #1)Nearly twenty years after Andi Hollister's sister was murdered, a woman comes forward, claiming the man condemned to be executed in a week's time is innocent. However, before she can provide proof, her body is found in an apparent suicide. Unsure now if the real murderer is behind bars, Andi, an investigative reporter, decides to get to the bottom of it, and Detective Will Kincaid, cousin to the condemned man, has a personal stake in seeing justice served to the real murderer. But can they find definitive proof in time?

I enjoyed the fairly unique suspense plot, with the race to save a condemned man. The suspense is much stronger than the mystery, which offers plenty clues if you keep track. And it was fun to imagine flight attendants clad in 90's fashions smuggling diamonds over international borders.

Andi is a fairly typical suspense heroine--the tough non-law-enforcement girl who jumps into danger at the drop of a hat and insists she never needs help. Which she does, in so many areas of her life. But I really liked her best friend Treece, who has a good head on her shoulders, and Maggie, who I would enjoy getting to know better in future books. I do like the struggle Andi goes through as she has to decide if the man she's hated for years for killing her sister is really guilty, or if she's wasted these years hating an innocent man.

I got a little confused several times with getting names mixed up--like roommates Lacey and Laura, and all the J and D names--Jimmy, Jared, JD, David, Delaney, and Donovan. Once I started noticing all the J's, they stuck out all the more, thus one will also find Jillian, James, Jace, Josie, [A] Jerome, and [Larry] Johnson, as well as a Gerald (same sound as a J, anyway), but they're less prominent. It did make the mysterious JD harder to peg, but I'm not convinced having quite SO many similar names was the best choice, even for red herrings.

Not everything was completely wrapped up, particularly regarding Andi's health. This is only the first of the series, so I'm assuming some of those things will be touched on in later books, although the author has tended to switch up main characters, so I guess we'll see. There's a lot of potentially future main characters introduced, so it will be interesting to see who next gets their story told.

Memphis Cold Cases
1. Justice Delayed

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Christian Fiction for February 2017!

Lots of mystery and suspense this February! Who needs romance when there's danger afoot? Or, I guess, there's always romantic suspense. See the majority of the books below:

A Viscount's Proposal (The Regency Spies of London #2) A Note Yet Unsung (Belmont Mansion, #3) Murder on the Moor (Drew Farthering Mystery #5)

The Viscount's Proposal by Melanie Dickerson (Waterfall) - Regency Spies of London, book 2

When a sabotage leads to a chance meeting resulting in scandal, can two contrary individuals work together to save her reputation, his career, and their very lives?

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House) - Belmont Mansion, book 3

After the maestro rejects a female violinist on the grounds that "women are too fragile for the rigors of an orchestra," he finds himself seeking her out to help him finish a symphony for his dying father.*

*Note: the one exception to the mystery/suspense theme.

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering (Bethany House) - Drew Farthering Mysteries, book 5

Drew Farthering is invited to a friend's Yorkshire estate, where mysterious happenings have been occurring on the moors. Oh, and a murder. Of course.

Justice Delayed (Memphis Cold Case #1) Moving Target (Elite Guardians #3) Still Life (Chesapeake Valor #2)

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley (Revell); Memphis Cold Case, book 1

When a letter surfaces indicating a man on death row is innocent of murder, can a Memphis detective and the murder victim's sister find the real killer before before the convicted man's execution date--only one week away--arrives?

Moving Target by Lynette Eason (Revell); Elite Guardians, book 3

Bodyguard details and investigations are always a dangerous business, but not even bodyguard Maddy McKay and Detective Quinn Holcombe could expect to be captured and released as the Most Dangerous Game.

Rescue Me (Montana Rescue, #2)Still Life by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House); Chespeake Valor, book 2

When a photographer's model friend goes missing and a disturbing photo turns up in her place, she calls on her old employer for help. But will they find her friend in time?

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren (Revell); Montana Rescue, book 2

Stranded in Glacier National Park with winter weather coming in, it's up to a deputy sheriff and hippie youth group leader to save a crew of teenagers.