Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble - #review

Hardcover: 352 Pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 22, 2019)

From USA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble comes the third book in her beloved Lavender Tides series.

Her mother lied about her identity and her husband wasn’t who she thought he was—can Bailey even trust herself anymore?

Running for her life in the wake of her mother’s murder, Bailey Fleming escapes to the only place she can think of—a remote, dilapidated cabin in Lavender Tides. Intending to finally get to the truth behind the lies of her past, Bailey only finds more questions when bodies are discovered near her cabin hideout along with traces of a dangerous human trafficking ring. In an unlikely partnership with FBI agent Lance Phoenix, Bailey races to understand the mystery surrounding her life and circumstances before the murderer tracks her down.

Meanwhile, Lance is determined to rescue his sister, Ava, who was abducted after running away from home as a teenager. An unexpected lead brings him to the remote cabin, and he wonders if Bailey—with her suspicious past and strange connections to his sister’s case—is really who she claims to be and if she can somehow lead him to Ava.

Filled with Colleen Coble’s custom blend of suspense and romance, Secrets at Cedar Cabin takes us back to the evocative landscape of Washington’s coast where nothing is quite as it seems.



Oh my goodness, I feel for Bailey, lied to by the two most important people in her life, her husband and her mother.  Then, a nice remote cabin can be a nice place to relax, but it's also scary as all get out at night.  Remote though it may be, it doesn't really serve Bailey's need to hide, because there are things out in the woods in the middle of the night, including the FBI.

One of the things I like best about the author's writing is her ability to keep the romance clean and the suspense set on high.  It's a tough balance to strike, but Ms. Coble gets it just right.

Lance, the 'FBI guy', have to learn to trust each other, at a time when neither are predisposed to trusting anyone but themselves.  Bailey's troubles we already knew (mother and husband lied, mother killed, B on the run from the killer), but Lance adds his own layer to that as well.  The reason that he's out there in the wilderness is because his sister ran away some years ago and was forced into a human trafficking system.

Another thing the author 'gets right' (IMO) is in wrapping up the story.  When the tale ends too abruptly, I get almost a little let-down.  Trust me, no worries about that here.  To use a foodie metaphor,  the meal of "Secrets" was full and satisfying, but there's still a 'lee-tle' room for dessert.

Be sure to catch the two prior installments to this Lavender Tides series, The View from Rainshadow Bay, and  The House at Saltwater Point.  There's also a novella in the series, Leaving Lavender Ties.


Best-selling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher(s) via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Mercy by John W. Mefford - #review #giveaway


The torment builds and builds and builds…. 

He can't deny it. 

But in what form will the pressure erupt? 

Cooper Chain isn't just down on his luck -- he's almost down for the count. The mob wants a piece of him, and he sees no way out.

It's a special week for Willow Ball, a woman who's survived her own tribulations to reach this milestone in her life.

Through fate -- or a temporary misalignment of the stars -- Willow and Cooper cross paths for the first time since college. Will an unexpected spark re-ignite the flame?

A shattering discovery changes everything for Willow and Cooper. The murder is unlike any other. But what will the cops do about it?

Attacks ensure, chaos ruptures a family . . . Through it all, how can Willow and Cooper find the killer?

But it's not over. As the bodies pile up, a pattern develops and it rocks Willow and Cooper to the core.

And then someone emerges after a three-decade disappearance. Could he be connected to this string of murders?

The past might provide the breadcrumbs to end this nightmare. But Willow and Cooper may not live long enough to see it through.

Will mercy save a life or end many?

Get MERCY now! 

If you're a fan of Michael Connelly's Ballard and Bosch, David Baldacci's King and Maxwell, Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles, and the TV show "Castle," then you'll be sucked into this first, page-turning Ball & Chain thriller.
Available to buy from....    Paperback



     I usually read mystery novels.  I don't think I could pick a better book than Mercy  by John W. Mefford by to foray once more into the thriller genre.  This is definitely a walk on the wild side of life!

What first drew me in, before I knew anything about the book, were the surnames of the main characters:  Ball, and Chain.  I love punny titles and appreciate writers who play wildly with words while writing.  I then jumped into the deep end of the story, which opens up with a serial killer on the prowl.  Shorly afterwards we are introduced to the main characters.  

Cooper Chain is a writer whose life has gone severely downhill since his college days.  He's currently on the run from some loan shark muscle.  Coop also works for minimum wage in a local bookstore / bar joint.  He's got one week to magically come up with $50,000.

Willow Ball has had her own difficulties since she and Cooper were an item in college.  But things seem to be getting better for her.  She's engaged to Harvey and her wedding is fast approaching.  Harvey gave her a Mercedes as a present.

Mercy is told from several points of view: Cooper's, Willow's and one criminally insane serial killer who could give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money.  Our heroes kind of 'run into' the killer while checking on Willow's cousin, who is also one of her bridesmaids.  Unfortunately for the cousin, she won't be able to complete her wedding duties.  Coop and Will don't find that out for a short while, because they are busy fighting for their lives, literally, with a killer who does not like being interrupted.

The jumps in points of view seem almost a little disjointed at first, until I recognized the pattern from the movie Pulp Fiction.  The switching back and forth, I think, adds to the uncertainty that fuels a great thriller.

This was my first experience with a book by Mefford.  It will not be the last.  I just hope my bookshelves will hold up under the weight of all the new TBR-list books!


Readers are saying… 
"MERCY is full of suspense and sass. An exciting, mind-blowing adventure." 

 "Willow Ball and Cooper Chain are flawed and funny, yet so very real in how they deal with the heart-pounding curve balls." 

 "You'll be enthralled by the gripping story, and you'll laugh out loud from the snarky interactions between Willow and Cooper. I hope this is the first of many killer Ball & Chain adventures." 

 "The most original new thriller series out there!"

About the Author
Amazon #1 Bestselling Author, #2 bestselling author on Barnes and Noble, and a Readers' Favorite Gold Medal winner.

John W. Mefford has been writing his debut novel since he first entered the work force almost thirty years ago, although he never put words on paper until 2009. Once he started writing, however, he couldn't stop. Many readers ask John from where he gets his ideas. Well, he's a veteran of the corporate rat-race, a former journalist, and he's always been an astute observer of human and social behavior. On top of that, he's really good at embellishing.

A member of International Thriller Writers, John writes novels full of electrifying suspense -- the same types of books he has loved to read since before he could shave.

When he’s not writing, he chases his youth on bike or a basketball court, all while making mental
notes of people and societies across the land.

Find the author on the following sites...
 Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads   Bookbub   Amazon Author Page

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Friday, January 25, 2019

How the Light Gets in by Jolina Petersheim - #review

Hardcover: 400 Pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 5, 2019)

“Compellingly woven by Jolina Petersheim’s capable pen, How the Light Gets In follows a trail of grief toward healing, leading to an impossible choice–what is best when every path will hurt someone?” –Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

Friday, January 11, 2019

Tajael by Alisa Woods - #review

Tajael (Fallen Angels #1)Tajael by Alisa Woods
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Charlotte is a physicist working on a theory that objects can be moved from one dimension to another. Most people she knew did not believe such a thing could exist. But her boss did, and he and the money to fund the research, and he had faith in Charlotte.

Charlotte's fellow scientist was less than thrilled by her presence, perhaps because a) she was a woman, b) she was a woman who wouldn't give him the time of day ... or night, and c) the boss like her ideas better than his.

But, surprise the other dimension(s) is/are real. And not everyone on the other side is thrilled with humans (specifically Charlotte) being able to travel between dimensions, something which had hitherto been reserved for immortals and other supernatural beings. Like the Fae, who were allied with dark angels, vampires and werewolves. On the other side, where Angels and Dragons.

Small wonder, then, that a Guardian Angel (Tajael) was sent to protect Charlotte. She was like this light that was shining like crazy with goodness, and naturally dark creatures are going to think, "Hmmm...THAT can't be good!" (No pun intended, but it is kind of funny.) There is a scene in the Winter Court of the Fae containing incestuous sex, and sexual assault Those situations are not triggers for me, but I still thought, "Ewwww!"

Other than that, I enjoyed the first 75% of the book immensely. Kudos to Ms. Woods for having a MC as a brilliant female physicist. (Won't it be nice, though, when it's so commonplace that we don't get all excited about it anymore?)

But, Tajael (angeling - half angel, half human), has a problem. He, like all angels, is attracted to Charlotte's light and goodness. And, having spent some time in the dark realms, he struggled increasingly with the sin of Lust.

Just after the third successful trial of Charlotte's machine - nick-named SEXi-MRI by her boss, the dark forces popped up in great numbers. Luckily, there was a fairly equal contingent of angels and angelings trying to protect Charlotte and her experiment. But the day was not a complete success. Charlotte was kidnapped by the Fae and the machine was destroyed.

Having realized that Tajael's boss wanted them to mate (to produce more warriors for the light), once Tajael and his 'team' rescued Charlotte and they were back in this world, said couple threw caution to the wind. Once they started having sex, I didn't think they were ever going to stop. Apparently, angels are rather quick to recover. I just prefer my romances with a little more sugar and a little less spice.

Other than that, like I said, I enjoyed the story, and would recommend the book, with the reservations for possible triggers and graphic sexual content.

View all my reviews

 (Disclaimer:  I 'purchased' this copy for free at Amazon, having received an email from deal-notification service such as BookbubBookRioteBookSodaFreebooksyRobin's Reads, etc.  I was under no obligation to review.)


This book helps me fulfill the following 2019 reading challenges and read-a-thons:

#WintersRespite Read-a-thon
#BeatTheBacklist2019 RC
You Read How Many? RC
GoodReads RC
Bout of Books Read-a-thon  
PopSugar RC

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Stilettos & Scoundrels by Laina Turner - #review

Stilettos & Scoundrels (A Presley Thurman Mystery, #1)Stilettos & Scoundrels by Laina Turner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Never start reading a novel when you are feeling contrary. I did so with Stilettos & Scoundrels by Laina Turner, and for that reason, had trouble getting involved in the story. For instance, I thought Presley should have had a tape recorder running in her pocket when she went in to talk to her boss, who basically told her to 'put out or get out'

Luckily a good night's rest brightened my mood considerably and I have literally just 'turned the last page' in my Kindle reading app, and the more the story progressed, the more I was drawn in.

I can appreciate the ambivalence Presley had about going back to her home town. On the one hand, It was a great place to go to recharge her batteries after she was fired, and she needed to find another job. On the other hand, seeing all those people whom she had known before she left for college was probably somewhat strained. Especially the townsfolk of the 'old boyfriend' variety.

Most cozy mysteries start with a main character who is not a professional investigator. Presley was head of HR at a big corporation in Chicago before she was fired. She talked her way in to an interview with a US Senator, which led to Presley being one of the last people to see him alive. So, the Feds wanted to talk to her, the local LEO's wanted to talk to her, and Cooper, the Senator's private security wanted to talk to her.

Well, Cooper happened to be an old boyfriend. They hadn't seen each other in years, but it was obvious there was still a lot of sizzle. The author held back just enough to have just about anyone become a suspect at one time, but in the end, all the various storylines were drawn together and things made sense.

The revelatory scene made me think of a story where a hostage was describing the moment the soldiers burst into the building to take down the bad guys. She said, "He said, "Get down!" in a voice that said he meant business (so everyone did), and they were subsequently rescued.

I did really enjoy the way Presley and Cooper's increasing interest in each other was written. They didn't just see each other for the first time in years and then fall into bed. They teased each other here and there and they fought 'the inevitable'. It was like they were mad at themselves that something was still there. The progression of their relationship was as fun to 'watch' as it was to read.

View all my reviews

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book at no charge for signing up for the author's newsletter.  My review was voluntary.)


This book helps me fulfill the following 2019 reading challenges and read-a-thons:

#WintersRespite Read-a-thon
#BeatTheBacklist2019 RC
You Read How Many? RC
GoodReads RC
Pop Sugar RC
A to Z RC
Bout of Books RAT
Literary Escapes RC (Illinois)
Alphabet Soup Author (T)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Haze by Rebecca Crunden - #review

HazeHaze by Rebecca Crunden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this case, the 'haze' referred to in the title could refer to either the physical haze of drugs or the emotional haze we sometimes have to endure when a loved one dies. Eliza knew that all too well, because she had to deal with both.

Early on in Haze, Erick (Eliza's fiance), Sam (her sister) and Maya (Sam's fiancee), are on a hike in the woods. The sisters begin to squabble and Erick feels he needs to step in between the two, which he does. There has been some shoving involved back and forth. The Erick gives Sam a little shove, but she flies backward, hits her head and dies on the spot. No one who counts holds Eric responsible. Either they do not know the full story, or they believe there was no way the shove Erick gave Sam should have caused her to 'fly' as far as she did.

Erick leaves town without saying goodbye, unable to deal with the guilt. Eliza's father crawls into a bottle and doesn't come out for years, and her mother has trouble coping after Sam's death. I read somewhere once that 'children are not supposed to die before their parents', so I have a special sympathy for Sam and Eliza's family.

Tension ratchets up again when Erick returns to town for a family funeral, to support his mother.

Eliza has been taking drugs for a while. She's not living at her parents' house because it's hard for her to see them in the conditions they are in. She gets drugs from a former rival of Erick's and occasionally has sex with him, it sounds like 'because it's something to do'. Most of her emotions, it seems, died along with her sister.

The story was woven well, and I was engaged. (I read the story in one day). I just wanted to step into the story and hug most of the principals, excluding the two drug dealers, who, irrespective of their professions, were scum.

I admit I had some trouble adjusting when the supernatural element moved from the background to center stage. There were a couple of phone calls received by Sam, and then Eliza, from a girl who had committed suicide some years before; these should have clued me in. Indeed, I probably would have had something snippy to say if nothing came of this plot seed.

I'm not sure why this transition to the supernatural part of the story feels a little contrived to me. It seemed like walking from a darkened movie theatre with an incredible amount of noise, to a bright sunny day and relative calm. It took some time to adjust.

But adjust I did, and I have to put that down to the author's abilities. Normally, when I have an experience like that with a book, once I'm gone, it's hard to get back. But I noticed (while reading) that shortly after, I was 'back' into the story.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, with some details.
Will I read more by this author? Absolutely.

View all my reviews

 (Disclaimer:  I received a free copy from the author and publishers via Read it and Reap program on Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.)


This book helps me fulfill the following 2019 reading challenges and read-a-thons:

#WintersRespite Read-a-thon
#BeatTheBacklist2019 RC
You Read How Many? RC
GoodReads RC
Pop Sugar RC
A to Z RC

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ruthless by Susan Kiernan-Lewis - #review

Ruthless (Book 6 ) the Mia Kazmaroff MysteriesRuthless (Book 6 ) the Mia Kazmaroff Mysteries by Susan Kieran lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not the first book I've read by Susan Kiernan-Lewis. That spot goes to Murder in the Latin Quarter part of the "Maggie Newberry" mysteries. I've also 'met' Mia Kazmaroff before. Ms. Kiernan-Lewis writes multiple series of mysteries, so I know I won't be out of books I know I'll enjoy for...oh, the foreseeable future.