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Archive for the ‘Romantic Suspense’ Category

strikingdistanceLaura Nilsson is slowly rebuilding her life after being rescued from eighteen months of captivity in the Middle East. No longer interested in being in front of the camera, Laura works as a newspaper investigative journalist in Denver. Life is not perfect, but Laura is slowly putting the pieces back together, regaining her professional confidence and trying to regain her confidence as a woman. Javier Corbray hasn’t forgotten his brief and intense weekend getting to know Laura in Dubai before her kidnapping. In fact, she is never far from his thoughts, but he keeps his distance out of respect for her trauma.

While visiting friends in Denver, Javier is surprised, but thrilled, to see Laura at a friend’s barbeque. Laura is happy to see Javier but is less certain about picking up where they left off before her kidnapping. Laura longs to be the confidant woman Javier once knew, but she has secrets that she can’t share for her and her daughter’s safety. Javier won’t be deterred; he values Laura as a friend and a woman, and when she is targeted by a bomb he makes a point to be there to protect her.

Striking Distance is a great combination of character, romance, and suspense. Laura and Javier are both adults dealing with life’s harsh realities. They respect each other as people and take the time to get to know each other. They don’t deny their sexual attraction but neither do they overlook Laura’s trauma. Instead, the focus is on romance and creating a relationship based on trust and respect. Javier is a Navy SEAL, so you’ll have to suspend a little bit of disbelief over the action sequences. Just know the action never overshadows the story nor is it way over the top. The suspense is a great counterbalance to Javier’s and Laura’s budding relationship.

Striking Distance is a part of a series and previous characters appear, but it can be read independently and is one of the best in the series. Pamela Clare is a great writer and creates characters and romance that only make the genre better.

Check the WRL catalog for Striking Distance

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dangerousI’m ending the week with a contemporary romantic suspense by bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell.  Lowell delivers a fast-paced plot with lots to enjoy in addition to the inevitable attraction between the main characters.

In Dangerous Refuge, she puts tough homicide cop Tanner Davis with ranch  conservancy advocate Shaye Townsend. Tanner has returned to his uncle’s ranch near the Sierra Nevada Mountains after the older man’s untimely death. There’s nothing to indicate foul play, but Tanner isn’t convinced the sheriff of the small town asked the right questions before writing this one off as “natural causes.”

Shaye plays a part in Tanner’s unofficial investigation because she’s the one who found his uncle’s body. She had befriended the curmudgeon and worked out a deal with him to deed the land to the conservancy when he died. Tanner finds out that his uncle changed his mind at the last minute, but hadn’t had time to sign the paperwork before his death. Could that have been motive for murder?

Lots of pieces don’t add up, and Shaye offers Tanner her help in finding answers.  But asking questions eventually puts Shaye in danger, and Tanner is her best hope for survival.

Shaye is spunky and able to hold her own with the investigation and the fight for her life. Tanner is cynical, but not without a sense of humor. I can believe they find each other appealing. That added romance makes the investigation and the unraveling of clues more satisfying.

Check the WRL catalog for Dangerous Refuge

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deadsleep This is Heather Graham’s latest romantic suspense. It’s slightly creepy, but not keep-the-lights-on scary. Just my kind of book!

New Orleans is the setting–graveyards, abandoned plantations, and a voodoo priestesses add to the ambiance.

Danni Cafferty’s dad has recently passed away, and Danni thinks she’s following his final instructions correctly by keeping the family’s antique and curio store open for business.

When a distraught woman comes into the store rambling about an evil statue that Danni must take away, Danni’s journey into discovering her family’s true calling begins.

Michael Quinn, a private investigator, has been tracking the statue. He thinks a string of murders and thefts is directly related to whomever last possessed it. And he hopes to find it before more blood is shed.

Michael had worked with Danni’s father on a number of supernatural cases in the past, but he has his doubts about working with Danni. Especially since it seems that Angus had not explained the full nature of his business. The two seem to have no choice but to work together when more murders are committed in the wake of the statue’s possession…

I like that Danni and Quinn don’t particularly like one another when they first meet.  They have to learn to trust one another.  Danni surprises both Quinn and herself when she realizes that she is able to contribute to the investigation–even without understanding what Angus’ cryptic message to “use the light” really means.

I figured out some of the key elements of the story faster than the characters did.  So I’d say the plot was comfortably predictable.  Stay away if you’re looking for twisty, unexpected surprises. But for a solid entertainment ride, check out this first book in the “Cafferty and Quinn” series.  I’m looking forward to seeing what these two paranormal sleuths come up against next.

Check the WRL catalog for Let the Dead Sleep

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HarvestThe psychologically disturbing horrors of the evil-doers in this medical thriller made my spine tingle. Even though I found it hard to believe some of the sticky situations these characters found themselves in, I found myself believing that such corruption, immorality, and greed might indeed be possible in the medical community and I now possess a new suspicion of doctors and hospital systems.

Gerritsen’s adrenaline-charged thrillers followed her earlier career in romantic suspense, but her focus on the medical settings in these crime thrillers is what got my attention. That, and the constantly moving plot of this intricately layered story about a very promising medical resident-cum-amateur detective, Dr. Abby DiMatteo, who finds herself uncovering clues to the disturbing possibility that extremely wealthy heart transplant recipients may be jumping to the head of the non-discriminating transplant list while other patients with a legitimate place lose their lives. Even more disturbing is the possible source of the “donated” organs. From the very first chapter, fascinating characters are introduced in separate plotlines such that the reader suspects but doesn’t know for sure how each of the characters will be connected later on. This was a great stand-alone read with a very satisfying ending. It’s not the entry into a series and it’s one of her early thrillers, but I didn’t find anything about it out of place in time. A romantic plot is threaded into the story as well.

The knowledge that the author was a real-life doctor before she turned to full-time writing gives me confidence in her ability to accurately portray medical students, residents, and practicing physicians. Lovers of suspense and mystery will love Harvest, and the themes are so disturbingly chilling that even horror fans might enjoy Tess Gerritsen, who also incorporates the supernatural into some of her novels.

Look for Harvest in the WRL catalog.

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FBI agent Emma Sharpe has a strong background in fine art recovery.  Her family is renown for investigating and recovering stolen pieces of art.  But she ends up involved in a murder and missing art investigation because she had also once been close to taking vows to become a nun.

One of her mentors at the Sisters of the Joyful Heart convent asked Emma for a favor.  Could she look at a piece of art and give her opinion?  Without any further information, Emma returns to Maine to meet with Sister Joan.  But instead of a simple art evaluation,  she finds that Sister Joan is dead and a painting assumed to be from a local artist has disappeared.

To complicate matters, a local priest has asked his friend, Colin Donovan, to keep an eye on Emma.  Father Finian is new to the parish.  His motives for asking Colin for help are not entirely clear, but Colin agrees.  He’s in the middle of some needed rest & recuperation time (trying to keep the Russian mafia off his tail), but willing to take a side trip to help the attractive FBI agent with her case, whether she wants his help or not.

Colin also works for the FBI, but not at a desk job as his family assumes.  He goes deep undercover and investigates the worst of the FBI’s most wanted.  He wonders if the murder could be related to his latest case.

Emma thinks it is mostly annoying to have this other agent follow her footsteps.   She can’t even continue her investigation in Ireland without Colin and Father Finian showing up.  Is anyone who they seem to be on the surface?

Carla Neggers writes well-paced, plot-based stories.  There are plenty of details building characters and their backgrounds.   And there’s a little romance, always a plus for me.  It may not be convenient and it certainly doesn’t get in the way of the job, but Colin and Emma are definitely attracted to one another.

The story comes to a satisfying conclusion to both the romance and the mystery of the missing painting.

Check the WRL catalog for Saint’s Gate

If you enjoy Saint’s Gate, check out Heron’s Cove, which continues Emma and Colin’s crime-solving partnership.

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In Cover Me, Catherine Mann writes about the pararescuemen of the United States Air Force and offers a fascinating look into this distinct band of brothers. The motto of pararescuemen is “That Others May Live,” and their training in emergency medical, combat, and survival skills allows them to uphold this motto. Their extensive training prepares them to go anywhere in the world to rescue those in need no matter the environment.

Wade Rocha is training off the Aleutian Islands and heading back to base when his unit receives the call about stranded climbers. With no hesitation, Wade parachutes into a blizzard to rescue the trapped climber. He has no clue that Sunny Foster is quite capable of taking care of herself in this blizzard. Sunny is not just any hiker; she runs a wilderness outfit and is herself well-trained in the art of survival both in the wilderness and living in a small off-the-grid community. Sunny is returning home after escorting members of her community back to “civilization” when she’s stranded by weather. Trapped together first by weather and then by the discovery of dead bodies, Wade and Sunny work together to figure out who’s killing former members of Sunny’s community.

The strength of this novel is not in the mystery but the characters. Mann draws a vivid portrait of Wade, a dedicated pararescueman, and Sunny, a well-rounded woman and business owner who happens to have a very isolated life. The chemistry between the two is compelling, and there’s also a wonderful secondary romance that will keep you turning the pages.

Today’s military romances typically do not feature the work of men and women in the armed services outside of war. Given the world we live in, that is not unexpected. We are curious about how our heroes are before, during, and after experiencing war. As romance readers, we have the belief that love can heal all kinds of wounds and that life can and does go on. But it is refreshing to occasionally read stories about the armed forces that highlight the work being done outside of war.

Check the WRL catalog for Cover Me.

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We close this week’s posts with a blog from Christine in Circulation.

Abigail Lowery, formerly Elizabeth Fitch, is a successful computer programmer and business woman running a private security firm from her home in the Ozarks.  With her faithful dog by her side and a secluded home tucked securely into the hills of the Arkansas Ozarks, Abigail has finally settled down and started her new life hiding out but no longer running from the Russian mafia.  But Brooks Gleason, local police chief, won’t let Abigail settle for too much longer.  As Abigail tries to create a quiet life and stay under the radar she only accomplishes the exact opposite.  After a year of politely rebuffing the locals’ conversations, keeping to herself, and shopping online rather than in town, Abigail’s actions only fuel the interest of the police chief and her small-town neighbors.  Following his gut, Brooks sets out to discover Abigail’s secrets.

The other night I caught a brief snippet of a show on HGTV that was talking about set design on the drama “The Good Wife.”  One of the designers made a comment about how the set design was based on the sensibilities of movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s where sets were opulent and grand in order to heighten the senses of the viewer.  Everyday life for most people is not filled with plush offices with designer furniture, boldly-colored accent walls, and elegantly sophisticated bric-a-brac.  So when you tune in to “The Good Wife” you are instantly drawn in by the world that the writers, set designers, and actors have created and are willing to come back for more.

So how does this tie-in with “The Witness?” When the designer made this comment, I couldn’t help but think about this book.  From the moment I picked it up to read I found myself unable to put it down.  The world and the characters Roberts created are grand and amplified.  The heroine is brilliant surviving on wits and instinct for years as she builds a life on the run.  The hero is charming and intelligent with a keen intuition. Abigail and Brooks are reminiscent of other memorable duos, i.e. Nick and Nora, Bones and Booth, but with their own style. The backdrop of the Ozarks and the sense of community and family bring the story full circle.  The fact that Roberts’ focuses on the couple and not the threat of Abigail’s past only enhances the suspense.

Roberts’ 200th title incorporates all her hallmarks of writing but it all comes together so seamlessly that reading this book was effortless fun and rates this book in the top three of Roberts’ oeuvre for me.  If you’re looking for the familiar with a little bit of over the top for your spring and summer reading, this is the book for you.

Check the WRL catalog for The Witness

Or listen to The Witness on audio CD

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