Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Drowned Girls Review

Title:  The Drowned Girls
Series:  Angie Pallorino #1
Author:  Loreth Anne White
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Genre:  Suspense Thriller
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Thrilling Hearts

He surfaced two years ago. Then he disappeared ...
But Detective Angie Pallorino never forgot the violent rapist who left a distinctive calling card—crosses etched into the flesh of his victim’s foreheads.

When a comatose Jane Doe is found in a local cemetery, sexually assaulted, mutilated, and nearly drowned, Angie is struck by the eerie similarities to her earlier unsolved rapes. Could he be back?

Then the body of a drowned young woman floats up in the Gorge, also bearing the marks of the serial rapist, and the hunt for a predator becomes a hunt for a killer. Assigned to the joint investigative task force, Angie is more than ready to prove that she has what it takes to break into the all-male homicide division. But her private life collides with her professional ambitions when she’s introduced to her temporary partner, James Maddocks—a man she’d met the night before in an intense, anonymous encounter.

Together, Angie and Maddocks agree to put that night behind them. But as their search for the killer intensifies so does their mutual desire. And Angie’s forays into the mind of a monster shake lose some unsettling secrets about her own past . . . 

How can she fight for the truth when it turns out her whole life is a lie?

It always excites me to find a new-to-me author who can deliver the goods - one whose writing grabs me by the throat and/or heart and squeezes, holding me captive from cover to cover.  From the moment I started reading The Drowned Girls all the way through to the last word on the last page, I was a goner.  I fell straight down the rabbit hole into White's dark world and couldn't stop reading.  Needless to say, I'll be reading more in the Angie Pallorino series and am shouting from the rooftops:  Fans of suspense/thrillers - Read This Book!

From the blurb, it might be easy to dismiss this as just another detective (woman) with something to prove vs. a sadistic serial killer story, but that would be a serious injustice.  The Drowned Girls is a multi-layered, well-written masterpiece in the genre.  White has an eerie ability to place readers in the scene - so much so that I found my heart racing or breaking right along with the characters.  The plot lines are expertly interwoven giving readers a story within a story as Angie struggles to remember illusive details from her past that haunt her, placing her life and the life of others in jeopardy as the hunt for a serial killer escalates.  The pace of this story is almost frantic as the stakes are raised when it takes an unforeseen turn.  The hero/heroine of this story are both toting baggage that's weighing them down, Angie more so than Maddock, and their first "meeting" is unconventional to say the least.  The dynamics between them are as explosive as matches & gasoline even though they fight it and each other.  White has created a diverse cast of characters - some of which are seriously flawed and disturbingly real.  All are well-fleshed out, delivering a performance that would receive a standing ovation on the stage.  When you add it all up, The Drowned Girls is a stunning, intense, on-the-edge of your seat thriller.  A Page Burner!  A Must Read!  I can't sing its praises loudly enough.

My Rating:  5 Thrilling Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dearest Ivie Review

Title:  Dearest Ivie
Series: BDB #15.5
Author:  J.R. Ward
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Release Date:  March 13, 2018
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4.5 Oh-the-Feelings! Hearts

In an exclusive ebook novella set in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward tells the story of a fiery couple . . . doomed by an undeniable passion.

The last place Ivie expects to be approached by a devastatingly handsome male is in a crowded, smoky cigar bar rarely frequented by vampires—yet here he stands. Silas is flirtatious, gallant, and, above all, mysterious. Ivie is anything but. A nurse at the healer’s clinic and the daughter of a biker, Ivie is accustomed to speaking her mind. So she does. Since aristocrats rarely pick up females of her class, Ivie asks Silas just what kind of game he thinks he’s playing.

Despite her guarded exterior, Ivie surrenders to the fierce desire she feels for Silas. And yet, just as their courtship is heating up, he reveals that it cannot last, for he is bound to return to the Old Country. Their bond only deepens as they make the most of their precious time together. But when she learns the truth, Ivie must find a saving grace—before all is lost. . . .

Dearest Ivie aims straight for the heart, scoring a direct hit!  Emotionally charged from cover to cover, it packs a whole lot of story into a short amount of pages.  Tissues are definitely needed for this brief trek into the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.  While the main characters are not well-known to BDB fans, Ivie (a nurse at Havers' clinic) and Silas (an aristocrat with a deadly secret) quickly step into starring roles as two vampires from two different worlds who are highly attracted to one another.  And the journey begins! 

As a huge fan of the series, I sat glued to the pages and read Dearest Ivie in one sitting.  The story quickly grabbed my attention, snared my heart, and evoked a range of uncontrollable feelings - eventually bringing me to tears.  I love Ivie's wit, snarky humor, and honesty as well as her unfiltered tongue.  She brings a spark of color into this sometimes gray world.  And Silas - what can I say about a dream-come-true hero like Silas . . . that he's a swoon-worthy romantic?  Oh, he is that!  He's chilvarous, noble, honorable, but also mysterious.  Ward does a fantastic job of drawing readers right into the heart & soul of these two characters.  And, she surrounds them with a diverse support cast featuring a few regulars from the BDB world as well as some new, intriguing characters that I hope to see more of.  Add an emotion laden, heart-touching (if slightfully predictable) plotline, and this is another winner in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4.5 Oh-the-Feelings! Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Friday, March 9, 2018

Did you Miss Me Review

Title:  Did You Miss Me?
Author:  Karen Rose
Series:  Romantic Suspense#14, Baltimore#3
Publisher:  Headline Book Publ.
Release Date:  Dec., 2012
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Complex Hearts

Best be nimble, best be quick, I'm right here and you're my pick...

The last thing Ford Elkhart remembers is walking his girlfriend back to her university dormitory. Now he's lying tied and gagged on a cold, dark floor, with only one chance to escape before he ends up like the bones surrounding him...

Assistant State's Attorney Daphne Montgomery is devastated by her son's disappearance, and is immediately convinced that his kidnapping is connected to the white supremacist she's just had jailed for murder.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter isn't so sure - especially when he learns that Ford's girlfriend is also missing. Is Ford's abduction payback for Daphne's courtroom victory? Or is he a pawn in an even more dangerous game?

Moments after a controversial verdict is delivered by jurors, District Attorney Daphne Montgomery's world implodes.  She's attacked in the courtroom, nearly killed while giving a press conference, and then receives the devastating news that her son, Ford, is missing along with his girlfriend.  Threats made imply the family of the now convicted murderer is involved, but could there be a deeper, darker connection?  Have shades of the past returned to haunt Daphne once again?  FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter has made it his job to find out.  

Readers can count on Rose to deliver a chilling, complex, twisted story every single time as she always challenges us to step up to the plate and figure it out.  I think Did You Miss Me? may be her most convoluted plotline as of yet and that's saying a lot!   With a multitude of  characters with opportunity and motive, I found myself hard pressed to figure out the mystery of "who" even though a name and the "why" is revealed through the killer's thoughts and actions early on.  The inter-connections, both known and unknown to readers, throughout the story made my head spin in an effort to keep them all straight.  It's a good idea to slow down and take this one in slowly as every single detail will prove to be important.  While Joseph and Daphne are the stars of this book, other characters step up to lend their support and expertise - setting the stage for some highly anticipated future couples.  Mystery, action, intense suspense, heart-pounding & heart-touching moments - Did You Miss Me? delivers in a big way.  An absolutely chilling, page-burning Must Read in this awesome series!

My Rating:  5 Complex Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG: Celebrating the Small Stuff!

Like most people, I celebrate big events in my life and the lives of family and friends - birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, but the small achievements (like personal writing goals) tend to pass right by unacknowledged and uncelebrated.  While I agree every individual goal is important no matter how small, I've never thought of them as anything worthy of celebration . . .  until receiving March's IWSG question:  How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?  Huh.  Never given it much thought before, but I will now.

Like most writers, I have several writing goals - things like consistent daily writing time or really nailing that hard-to-grasp character or completing another chapter.  And, like any writer, I enjoy a deep sense of satisfaction upon accomplishing any one of them.  But I can't recall ever really stopping to celebrate those achievements as they occur. Who has the time?

I think part of the issue for me is the absence of anyone in my immediate family or circle of friends who honestly understands what my writing means to me. They're here for me for life's big events, but haven't a clue what drives me to continue pursuing writing. Oh, I get the normal questions: How's the writing going? Is your book finished? Are you published yet? So, yeah . . . Love them to death, but not celebrating writing goals with them. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't be toasting my own success, right?  Hey!  The small stuff is important too.  Why not celebrate?  A glass of wine, a stolen evening curled up on the couch with a good book, a mini-shopping spree . . . or maybe just a fist pump and hell yeah!  Go Me!  Something I'll definitely be thinking about in the future as I continue this madness called writing!  Cheers!

Do you take time to
celebrate the small stuff in a special way?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers who share ideas and encourage each other. It's a great place to express doubts and concerns as well as offer and receive tribulations and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. I know you'll find it to be a great writer's resource that's well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with some of the other IWSG writers/bloggers at IWSG Members.

Many thanks to March's IWSG Co-Hosts!  Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, & Gwen Gardner!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Blood Fury Review

Title:  Blood Fury
Series:  Black Dagger Legacy
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Author:  J.R. Ward
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Rating: 5 Soulful Hearts On Fire

A vampire aristocrat, Peyton is well aware of his duty to his bloodline: mate with an appropriate female of his class and carry on his family’s traditions. And he thought he’d found his perfect match—until she fell in love with someone else. Yet when his split-second decision in a battle with the enemy endangers the life of another trainee, Peyton has to face the idea that his future, and his heart, actually lie with another.

Novo, as a female in the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program, feels like she has to prove herself to everybody—and she has no interest in being distracted by falling in love. But when Peyton proves to be so much more than a rich playboy, she is forced to confront the tragedy that has broken her soul and closed her off from love.

As the two grapple with Novo’s past and Peyton’s present, another couple must contend with an erotic connection that is unparalleled—and potentially scandalous.

Saxton, who has had his heart broken, discovers in himself a deep-seated attraction to Ruhn, a new member of the household. But will the other male explore the connection? Or will he close his mind and his heart to what could be true love . . . and cost Saxton everything?

Another fang*tastic read in the Black Dagger Legacy series as well as the Black Dagger Brotherhood world overall!  Loved every single minute of it!  A soulful, yearning, tormented vibe permeates Blood Fury as characters grieve unrequited love, even as they shore up their walls and vow to never trust their heart to anyone again . . . their bodies, yes . . . their hearts & souls, no.  As always, Ward flawlessly manipulates characters and their destinies while weaving multiple plotlines as masterfully as an orchestra conductor.  The life she breathes into these characters and settings is truly amazing - so emotional, so heartfelt, so real that I lived every single moment with them.

I'm not going to rehash the storylines here.  If you've read the series, you know the players, their circumstances, and what's at stake.  If you haven't read them, I highly recommend you start at the beginning and buckle up for the ride.  It's bumpy, addictive, and highly explosive, but worth every single minute.  I love the intermingling of characters between the BDB and BDL series.  It's a great opportunity for a sneak peek into the daily lives of favorite BDB characters as they guide and teach the trainees in the BDL books.  The best of both worlds! 

Blood Fury is an emotional, fast-paced story that is guaranteed to break your heart and then put it all back together better than new.  Two different couples find their destiny in this one, but the road to happy-ever-after is never smooth.  Fans have long-awaited Saxton's happy-ever-after, and Ward does not disappoint.  I'd be remiss if I didn't say it involves some of the hottest scenes in the BDB world.  Holy Moly!  Intense!  Again, I'm not discussing specifics so readers can take that ride first-hand.  Like Saxton, Peyton's journey involves unrequited love and a surprising discovery.  I must confess that I wasn't a huge fan of Peyton after the first two Legacy books as he came off as arrogant and superficial, but with the unmasking of hearts and souls that occurs in Blood Fury, my opinion has drastically changed.  I'm now a believer.  And be forewarned - Peyton also plays a starring role in some scorching hot scenes!  

For this reader, the magic that is Black Dagger Brotherhood/Legacy continues!  May it never end!  Blood Fury is another Page-Burning, Must Read in this world!

My Rating:  5 Soulful Hearts On Fire . . . And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart . . . xxx