Up Close (by Henriette Gyland)

Romantic Suspense 

After the death of her grandmother, Lia returns to her childhood home to settle the estate. But as she is putting her grandmother’s affairs in order she starts to suspect that her death may not have been an accident.

Aidan is a former Navy clearance diver, retired after an accident which left him scarred. As a child he had a secret crush on Lia but now his life is about making the Ministry of Defence pay for his brother’s death and there is little room for romance.

As Lia investigates her grandmother’s death, she discovers an evil that stretches all the way back to her childhood and an entire town that is guarding secrets and telling lies. And with a faceless killer stalking her, she doesn’t know who she can trust, even Aidan might be involved.

 

ingrid_bergmanUp Close is reminiscent of the great Alfred Hitchcock films of the 1930s and ’40s. I found myself being reminded of Rebecca and Gaslight and even The Birds.  Authors often try to imbue their books with that feel but not too many succeed. Henriette Gyland succeeds –– well and truly so.

It is dark, brooding and edge of your seat all at once. Quite an amazing accomplishment.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmYellow, Orange, Red – What it means:   http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

 

Into the Shadows (by Carolyn Crane)

Romantic Suspense

Thorne is the second in command of a brutal gang that deals in human misery, everything from human trafficking to drugs. When a number of their warehouses are raided, suspicion falls on him and he finds himself needing to hunt down the raiders or end up in a shallow grave.

Two years earlier, Nadia was in love with Thorne. Then after her gangster father was killed he kicked her to the curb and moved on to another gang, the Hangmen. All that is left of him is her 2 year old son and she will do anything to protect him. Then she learns that her mother who she thought was dead is alive and slave working in one of the Hangmen gang’s sweatshop. Together with a group of mercenaries who will take loot as pay and the bodyguard her father assigned to her they begin raiding the sweatshops searching for her mother.

When Thorne shows up at her home searching for a CD containing inside information on the gang’s activities she knows the noose is tightening. She steps up her plans to find her mother but also needs to make sure Thorne never finds out about his child. What she doesn’t know is that Thorne is deep undercover and working for the Associates. Alone and vulnerable she was the last person he trusted, but she betrayed him. Now he needs to learn to trust her again if they are to have any chance of finding her mother and surviving coming out alive.

 
I guess it says something that Into the Shadows took so many words to summarise. Carolyn Crane is like that. Her books aren’t easily defined. There is a wonderful oddness that comes through, even in her romantic suspense. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to turn the page and encounter a giant continent destroying death ray…come to think of it I might have seen something like that in book 2.

She always surprises me and that’s why Carolyn Crane has fast become one of my favorite authors. Into the Shadows is very good romantic suspense with quite a healthy dose of steamy sexy for those who enjoy that.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmMany thanks to CrushStar Multimedia and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Yellow / Orange / Red –– What it means. http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Against the Dark (by Carolyn Crane)

Romantic Suspense

When her Aunt Aggie is kidnapped and held for ransom, Angel Ramirez, a master safe-cracker is forced out of retirement to do one last heist.  The job; to steal a fortunes worth of diamonds from Walter Borgola, a sadistic and perverted mobster.

After Angel does the impossible –– cracks the un-crackable safe, Cole tracks her down and makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Either she returns to Borgola’s mansion, posing as his girlfriend and breaks into a second safe, or he will hand her over to Borgola.

Angel and Cole embark on a mission in which the cost of failure is hundreds of innocent lives, and being caught will result in their death at the hands of a sadist.

Against the Dark is amazing. I read the second book in the series a couple of weeks ago, and was so impressed that the minute I finished, I paid my money and bought this one. I’ve heard a few people say they thought book two was a much better book, but honestly I can’t see it. With books as good as these, it’s hard to draw a distinction, it would be like saying an Aston Martin is better than a Maserati.  Against the Dark had the same disturbing under-current you see in many of Karen Rose’s books, and I think fans of Karen Rose will love this series. But I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone, with the one caveat that there are some steamy sex scenes. Honestly, if you don’t want to see me go all fanboy on you, you probably shouldn’t ask me for a book recommendation any time soon.

Impatiently waiting for book three.

Off the Edge (by Carolyn Crane)

Romantic Suspense

Even knowing he would hunt her down, Laney gave the FBI the information they needed to throw Rolly, her violent and abusive husband into prison. She has run to the very end of the earth –– to Bangkok to hide from him. But when she spots his enforcer walking into the restaurant where she is having lunch, she knows it’s time to run.

Macmillan is a hunter, but his weapon of choice isn’t a gun, it’s language and words.  Using their very own words he hunts down international criminals and then when he’s completed his mission he disappears into the night.  He’s in Bangkok to identify and catch the Jazzman, an arms dealer who is selling a weapon that could bring governments to their knees.

When he sees Laney singing at the hotel where the auction is set to take place, he immediately knows she is on the run, and he feels an instant attraction to her. Then he discovers she may hold the key to finally identifying the Jazzman.

 

Romantic Suspense is a genre dominated by archetypes and tropes. There aren’t too many books that surprise me.  Well, Carolyn Crane has once again managed to find something I have never seen before, a quirky…perhaps even oddball idea,  and fashion it into a believable and entertaining story.  I could go on for pages about the many ways I loved this book, but maybe I’ll just encourage you all to buy this book and find out for yourself…and while you’re at it, read her Disillusionists series.

Many thanks to CrushStar Multimedia and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

The Last Clinic (by Gary Gusick)

Suspense

When a much loved preacher and anti-abortion campaigner is gunned down outside a women’s health clinic, the police immediately look at the doctor as the most likely suspect. Dr Stephen Nicoletti, is an Ob/Gyn and one of the few doctors in Mississippi who will perform abortions.

It’s left to Philadelphia PD transplant, Detective Darla Cavannah to sift through the evidence and find the killer. But with an incompetent partner who is determined to push his own anti-abortion agenda gunning for the doctor, she has to spend just as much time fixing up his messes as investigating the crime…all the while a killer is on the loose and he’s got a plan.

The Last Clinic surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It reminded me a little of another book set in Mississippi, A Time to Kill by John Grisham, but I think this book is better. I don’t read too many male authors, and this book has quite obviously been written by a man, but he’s managed to write a female main character who is both interesting and has depth.

It’s a solid debut novel and a good start to series that has a lot of potential.

Many thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Home to Whiskey Creek (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance (with a dash of Suspense)

After one traumatic night, a night when she was gang-raped by a group of young men from the school’s baseball team, Adelaide left Whiskey Creek and the grandmother she loved. Now 15 years later her grandmother is too old to care for herself so she must return to the town where the men who raped her still live as respected members of the community.

When Noah finds Adelaide at the bottom of a mineshaft his protective instincts take over. But he can’t understand why Adelaide is so hesitant in sharing the details of her assault. As their relationship develops, the men who attacked her are watching nervously.

Home to Whiskey Creek is contemporary romance with a little suspense thrown in for good measure. There were a couple of missteps…I think Baxter’s story which has been bubbling away in the background for the last couple of books didn’t really add anything to the story. The conclusion felt a little rushed and I can’t help but think those pages devoted to Noah and Baxter would have been better spent fleshing out the ending.

But overall I liked this book a lot and those small criticisms don’t make me like this book any less. It’s probably my favorite in the series so far.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Shadow Woman (by Linda Howard)

Lizette lives a quiet life. She has a mundane job and drives a boring car. Even the food she eats is boring. Then one morning she looks in the mirror and doesn’t recognize herself. She discovers she has lost two years of her life and every time she tries to pull at the threads of her memory she is wracked with an intense headache and nausea.

Xavier has been watching and protecting Lizzie for the past five years. The secrets buried deep within her could destroy some very dangerous people and they will kill to keep those secrets buried. He’s the only person standing between them and her but as her memory begins to return even he might not be able to save her.

Shadow Woman is great Romantic Suspense. I’ve often said that I don’t think Linda Howard writes villains very well. They are so hyper-evil that they could almost come straight from the pages of a comic book. Not so with this book. It’s a well written page turner which will sit very comfortably on the bookshelf beside anything written by Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum or Ken Follett.

Many thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Running Wild (by Linda Howard & Linda Jones)

https://i2.wp.com/d.gr-assets.com/books/1351606543l/16118704.jpgOn the run from a psychopathic stalker, Carlin never stays in one place for long. She avoids drawing attention to herself and always keeps her “run kit” at hand just in case she needs to make a quick escape. When she arrives in Battle Ridge, Wyoming, she takes a job as a housekeeper for a rancher. She is immediately attracted to Zeke but life on the run leaves little room for romance and she does everything in her power to keep him at a distance. But it’s hard to keep him at a distance when they’re living under the same roof.

Running Wild is not overly complicated. The authors deliver exactly what their readers want, good romantic fiction with a healthy dose of humor and suspense.

 

Many thanks to Random House & Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Stolen (by Shiloh Walker)

https://i2.wp.com/photo.goodreads.com/books/1331854182l/13531840.jpg Tearing her mouth away, Shay ducked to the side. “We … we can’t do this.” She pressed a hand to her buzzing lips. “I’m just getting to the point where I’m used to going through the days without you calling. I’m just getting to where I can pass a few nights without dreaming of you.”

As a child, Shay suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of her step-father. Everything about her adult life has been about hiding from the trauma of her past. She lives in a remote town in Alaska. and has isolated herself from her family and friends.

Elliot broke off their relationship because Shay couldn’t open up to him, but he can’t let go of what they had together. When a stalker, someone who knows Shay’s most closely guarded secrets starts stealing her life and attacking her friends, Elliot is determined to be there for her…determined that he won’t abandon her a second time.

But in order to find her stalker, Shay will need to remember the horrifying events of her childhood (events so horrifying that even this reader winced). With Elliot’s support she figuratively returns to her past, as she literally travels to her childhood home town. There she comes face to face with the person who has stolen who she is.

Stolen is an intense and gripping story, packed with truck-loads or romance and suspense. It never strays too far from the tried and true formula you’ll find in many books of this type. It does everything it’s supposed to do and also manages to throw in a surprise or two.

It’s very good adult romantic suspense.

Many thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

A Thin, Dark Line (by Emma Elliot)

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“I need to know what happened fifteen years ago, Cormac. I need to understand. Because I think what’s going on now is connected to what took place then. T-to you.”
His expression was bleak. “Let it go. The past is over and done with.”
“Apparently not. It looms over us. Over the whole damn town.”
“Leave it alone, Eloise.”
I bristled. “I can’t. I won’t.”

Cormac O’Malley has returned to his home town of Dogwood, Ohio after serving 15 years in prison for murder. The town is boiling with  anger that a murderer is amongst them and when local librarian, Eloise Carmichael gives him a job as a handyman, the town turns against her as well.

It soon becomes apparent that there are dangerous men in the town who are plotting against Cormac, men who have secrets they will kill to protect. Eloise risks everything in her search for the truth about a crime committed fifteen years earlier.

A Thin, Dark Line is a very well written romantic suspense. In some ways it reminds me a little of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Alfred Hitchcock rarely showed violence in his movies. He hinted at it and left the rest to the imagination of his audience. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut. It’s really that good.

“Now, tell me why you’ve decided you’re boring.”
I Worried a cuticle ad said, “Jane, when I burn a piece of toast, do you know what I do?”
“Um…Throw it away?”
“No! I scrape off the burnt parts and carry on.”

Many Thanks to Netgalley and The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House for providing me with this ARC.