Category Archives: Romantic Suspense

Review: No Easy Target by Iris Johansen

Title: No Easy Target by Iris Johansen
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Length: 349 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen returns with another thriller, No Easy Target

Margaret Douglas has worked hard to put her painful past behind her. Raised off the grid in an abusive home, her only escape was the nearby forest where she sought refuge whenever she could. There, in the peaceful woods, she discovered a strange gift: the ability to understand animals and to communicate with them. And so those creatures became her only friends, her only joy during a desolate childhood. Now Margaret wants nothing more than to live a quiet life, close to the animals and under the radar. But her abilities have not gone unnoticed and there are those who would use them for their own purposes. Determined not to be a pawn in anyone’s game, every time someone gets too close, Margaret uproots her life and outruns them.

When John Lassiter breaks into Margaret’s apartment, she vanishes again, but Lassiter has good reason to be persistent. As a CIA operative, he owes his life to his men, one of whom is being held captive by an unrelenting enemy—an enemy who has set his sights on Margaret. Which means that Lassiter must control her to use her as bait.

With danger in hot pursuit, Margaret finds herself matching wits with a man who refuses to stop or be stopped. Turning from the hunted to the hunter, Margaret must use everything she has ever learned to not only survive, but to defeat a great evil. And to prove once and for all that she’s no easy target.


No Easy Target by Iris Johansen is a suspense-laden mystery  with a romantic element.

Margaret Douglas has left her troubles behind her, but one phone call changes everything for her. Discovering that a total stranger, John Lassister, has pulled out all the stops in order to locate her, she is afraid that Stan Nicos, a notorious, sadistic criminal, has found her. However, John and his friend and associate Neal Cambry are one step ahead of her and before Margaret can go on the run again, he kidnaps her.  Will Margaret convince John to set her free? Or will he follow through with his plan and put in her in extreme danger in the process?

Margaret has a unique ability to communicate with animals which also makes it easy to read strong emotions in humans as well.  Now volunteering at a local zoo, she is content with her life when John finds her.  Margaret wants absolutely nothing to do with John and his plan which will put her smack dab in the Nicos’ crosshairs.  However, in John’s mind, his needs supersede Margaret’s objections and he will go to any lengths to follow through with his plan.

While Margaret is a likable and sympathetic character, the same cannot be said for John. His information about Margaret and her ties to Nicos is superficial and he has a lot of assumptions but very few facts. While he has a good reason for going up against Nicos, his plan to use Margaret to accomplish his goal is unconscionable.

Margaret’s quick about face is unrealistic given her history with Nicos and her subsequent romantic relationship with John falls flat. Despite the suspense element, the novel is extremely slow paced and gets bogged down in endless dialogue.  The conversations and inner thoughts of the characters are initially interesting but they quickly become repetitive.   The overall plot feels just feels tired and overdone.

No Easy Target has an interesting premise and Margaret is a gutsy heroine. Readers will be left wondering whether or not this is the first installment in a new series from Iris Johansen.

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Filed under Contemporary, Iris Johansen, Mystery, No Easy Target, Rated C, Review, Romantic Suspense, St Martin's Press

Review: 72 Hours by Bella Jewel

Title: 72 Hours by Bella Jewel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A red-hot, pulse-pounding thrill ride by USA Today bestselling author Bella Jewel!

It’s all part of his sick game. A game he’s been planning for an entire decade. Now everything is perfect: One woman and one man have been selected. They used to be a couple—and they can no longer stand one another. They are the perfect victims. He doesn’t intend for the game to be easy. He wants to push them to the brink of insanity, to make his hunt real. . .

Lara and Noah have been captured and dumped into a massive wooded area. There’s only one rule in this fatal game: They will have 72 hours to find a way out before a sadistic serial killer begins his hunt . . .But what he never could have expected was the explosive passion that ignites between the two ex-lovers—one that makes them strong. Fierce. And determined to do whatever it takes to escape—and to survive.

72 Hours by Bella Jewel is a sexy, page-turning thrill ride!


72 Hours by Bella Jewel is a fast-paced, suspense-laden novel that pits two estranged lovers against a sadistic psychopath.

Lara and Noah’s break up was acrimonious and despite Noah’s best efforts to discuss what led to their split, Lara adamantly refuses to talk to him. So when they are kidnapped and left in the Florida swamp and told they have 72 hours to find their way out or they will die, will they be able to work together to save themselves? Or will Lara’s lack of confidence and dislike of Noah hinder their efforts?

At one time, Lara was self-confident and fearless, but after a life defining loss, she is filled with self-loathing and her self-esteem is at an all time low. At the first sign of trouble with Noah, she bailed without giving him a chance to tell his side of the story and she has gone out of her way to avoid him in the months since. When she begins running into Noah in the days leading up to their kidnapping, she is surprised to realize she still cares for him, but will she give in his pleas to talk to him?

Noah is somewhat aggressive and heavy-handed in his attempts to reconnect with Lara. He still loves her and he would like nothing more than to explain the situation that led to Lara breaking up with him.  After the kidnapping, Noah is harsh with Lara as he tries to get her focus on trying to find a way out of their predicament. Once he has convinced her to work with him, his attitude softens and he has a much easier time getting her to co-operate with him.  If they are able to figure out a way to save themselves, is there any chance Noah will be able to salvage their relationship?

While the premise of 72 Hours is unique and interesting, poor character development and very irritating personality traits make it impossible to like or really connect with either Lara or Noah. Even in a life or death situation, Lara is incredibly whiny and virtually impossible to motivate to DO anything to save herself.  Yes, she went through something awful at one time, but to have absolutely no self-preservation instincts after the kidnapping is just too hard to believe. Noah deserves a medal for finding the patience to put up with her and it is extremely difficult to understand why he still wants to be with her considering her ridiculous behavior.

Which brings us to the romance element of the storyline. Life or death situation. 72 hours to save themselves. And yet, Noah and Lara find the time to hook up  couple of times.  They also manage to have a heart to heart talk about what caused their break up. Suspension of disbelief is often a necessity when reading fiction, but the plot of 72 Hours is a little too far-fetched to believe.

Most of the novel is written from Lara’s perspective, but there are also short passages from the killer’s point of view. While it is obvious this person is quite troubled, these peeks into his mind are so ridiculous they really add nothing to the storyline.

72 Hours by Bella Jewel has plenty of action and the final resolution of Noah and Lara’s horrific ordeal is quite satisfying.  A little predictable but overall, an entertaining read that will appeal to fans of romantic suspense.


Filed under 72 Hours, Bella Jewel, Contemporary, Rated C, Review, Romantic Suspense, St Martin's Paperbacks

Review: The Buried by Shelley Coriell

The BuriedTitle: The Buried by Shelley Coriell
The Apostles Series Book Two
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


“It’s cold. And dark. I can’t breathe.”

Successful, ambitious state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche is at the top of her game. Then she gets a chilling call from a young woman claiming to be buried alive. Desperate to find the victim before it’s too late, Grace will do whatever it takes . . . even if it means excavating the darkest secrets of her own past and turning to the one man she thought she would never see again.

FBI agent Theodore “Hatch” Hatcher is a man without roots-and that’s the way he likes it. But when a grisly crime shatters Cyprus Bend, Florida, Hatch is dragged back to the small town-and the one woman-he hoped was in his rearview for good. Forced to confront the wreckage of their love affair, Hatch and Grace may just find that sometimes the deepest wounds leave the most beautiful scars-and that history repeating itself may just be what they need to stop a killer . . . and save their own hearts.

The Review:

The Buried is a chilling and suspense-laden addition to Shelley Coriell’s outstanding The Apostles series. It is a riveting, complex mystery that is impossible to put down and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of mystery/suspense novels. Although it is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone but you won’t want to miss a single installment in this superb series.

The Buried opens with state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche receiving a distressing cry for help from Lia Grant, a young woman who claims she has been buried alive. At loose ends after her recent court case has wrapped up, Grace tenaciously begins an investigation into Lia’s case and in the process, she runs smack dab into “Hatch” Hatcher, a man from her very distant past.  Working together to catch a wily and vicious killer, Grace and Hatch discover the flames from their long ago relationship are still burning hot, but with so many of their past issues continuing to plague them, do they have a future? But most importantly, will Grace and Hatch catch the murderer before he claims another victim?

Grace is a strong, independent woman who lets nothing stand in her way and her determination to uncover the truth propels this case into local law enforcement hands. She has an overdeveloped since of responsibility and she gives the investigation 110% even if this means she has to work with Hatch, the one man she has been unable to forget. Grace has a bit of a rough edge to her but as the story progresses, her softer side comes out, which makes her that much more likable.

Hatch is a very charming, flirtatious man and while he comes across most of the time as fun-loving and easygoing, there is also a serious, focused aspect to his personality as well. Most of his issues stem from his dysfunctional childhood and although he is now in his 30s, most of his decisions, actions and reactions are a direct result of his past. But everything Hatch has always believed about himself, his desires and his plans are eventually challenged by Grace and another very unexpected person. Although the unfolding investigation is the most compelling aspect of the storyline, the evolution of Hatch’s character runs an extremely close second.

The mystery element of the plot is top-notch and virtually impossible to figure out. The killer’s identity remains closely under wraps for much of the story and it is only in retrospect that the significance of seemingly innocuous events and clues becomes clear.   Equally intriguing is another murder investigation that takes place in another jurisdiction but it takes almost the entire novel before the two storylines converge together. All in all, it is a very perplexing and multifaceted mystery that concludes with very stunning and dramatic revelations.

Hatch and Grace’s romance is very understated but it adds a great deal to character development and the overall storyline. Their relationship never overshadows the investigation but it provides a nice break from the somewhat darker aspects of the ongoing hunt for the murderer. For much of the novel, Hatch and Grace tiptoe around the reasons their relationship ended years earlier but they do finally discuss what went wrong with an amazing degree of honesty.

The Buried is a fascinating and captivating mystery that old and new fans of The Apostles series do not want to miss. With plenty of suspense and unexpected plot twists, Shelley Coriell brings the novel to a jaw dropping and action filled conclusion that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installment in this well written and incredibly spellbinding series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Forever, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Romantic Suspense, Shelley Coriell, The Apostles Series, The Buried

Review: The Broken by Shelley Coriell

brokenTitle: The Broken by Shelley Coriell
The Apostles Series Book One
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim-and only survivor-of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

The Review:

The first installment of Shelley Coriell’s The Apostles series, The Broken is an intricately plotted and suspenseful mystery. Full of intriguing twists and turns, this compelling novel moves at a furious pace from beginning to end.

Broadcast journalist Katrina Erickson barely escaped with her life after a brutal attack by a knife-wielding attacker. Three years later and now living under the alias Kate Johnson, she is a live-in companion to a feisty disabled vet when she learns that her attacker has begun killing again. Knowing Katrina is the key to unmasking the Broadcast Butcher, FBI Agent Hayden Reed single-mindedly tracks her down and they, along with the other members of the elite FBI team known as The Apostles, work round the clock to catch the Butcher before he strikes again.

Kate escaped her dysfunctional and abusive childhood and through hard work and dedication, she forged a successful career as a broadcast journalist. In the aftermath of the vicious assault, she lost faith in the justice system and she now leads a lonely and fearful life. Kate is not weak or timid and despite her trepidation at emerging from hiding, she is quite determined to aid Hayden in his investigation. As the story progresses, Kate slowly regains her confidence and never lets her worries stand in the way of following where the evidence leads.

Hayden is absolutely brilliant and super dedicated to his career. Despite the atrocities he investigates, he remains hopeful he will catch the criminals he is seeking. Hayden has an uncanny ability to get into the minds of the suspects and he relentlessly pursues any and all leads. Coming off his own personal tragedy, Hayden immerses himself in the search for the Butcher and despite his concerns for Kate’s safety, he concedes she has valuable insight into the investigation.

Kate has surprising information about the killer’s possible identity and their investigation is off to a exciting start. The evidence takes them in several, sometimes unforeseen, directions. Ever conscious of the risks, Kate and Hayden follow the clues but dead ends and shocking discoveries leave them frustrated by their lack of progress.

Their close quarters forge an unexpected intimacy between Kate and Hayden and they are surprised by their growing attraction for one another. Although their focus remains primarily on the search for the Butcher, Kate and Hayden begin to reveal bits and pieces of their pasts and gradually, their relationship takes a personal turn. They do eventually act on their passion, but their love scenes fade to black.

The Broken is an extremely well-written and tightly plotted mystery. The murders take place off screen but there is no denying the brutality of the crimes. A series of red herrings and misdirects seamlessly and carefully conceals the killer’s identity and motives for the killings until the novel’s dramatic conclusion.

Shelley Coriell’s The Apostles is off to a strong beginning and I cannot wait to read the next novel in the series, The Buried!

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Filed under Contemporary, Forever, Grand Central Publishing, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Romantic Suspense, Shelley Coriell, The Apostles Series, The Broken

Review: The Drake House by Kelly Moran

Title: The Drake House by Kelly Moran
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Length: 350 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Author


In her dreams, a ghost demands to be heard…

Once plagued by mysterious nightmares, Trisha Eaton always chalked them up to childish nuisances–until they return with a vengeance. Something about the Drake house next door haunts her, and now her night terrors and sleepwalking seem to be luring her to something dark. After a series of strange events, Trisha turns to Nick Mackey.

As the new deputy in town, Nick wants to forget his traumatic past. His undeniable attraction for Trisha has him wondering if a shot at a normal life is possible. But Trisha has somehow struck a nerve in their small, superstitious town, and a long-buried secret threatens to surface again. A secret that someone will kill to keep veiled.

Answers only lead to more questions in a case where nothing makes sense, but one chilling fact remains…some nightmares are all too real.

The Review:

The Drake House by Kelly Moran is the perfect combination of romance, mystery and paranormal elements. Long time secrets, nightmares and a ghostly presence are just a few of the intriguing aspects of this compelling and well-written story.

The return of Trisha Eaton’s childhood nightmares and sleepwalking coincides with threatening notes and phone calls. She turns to local police to investigate and new Deputy Nick Mackey is assigned to the case. All clues point to the property that borders Trisha’s orchard, but Drake House has remained uninhabited since Alexandra Drake’s mysterious death twenty years ago. As Trisha and Nick soon discover, someone is willing to go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the truth about long held secrets from being revealed.

Trisha is a feisty, independent woman who is not easily intimated. She is very protective of her friends and family and she will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. With no one willing to talk about a puzzling event from her past, Trisha is willing to risk just about anything to uncover the truth.

Haunted by a justified shooting and the devastating aftermath, Nick is enjoying his new career as a small town deputy. Surprised by his attraction to Trisha, he tries to keep their relationship on professional level as he investigates the inexplicable occurrences at her orchard. Working closely together, the two give in to their passion but his unresolved past continually comes between them.

Nick and Trisha’s relationship is rocky right from the beginning. They quickly indulge in a casual fling, but it is short-lived. The investigation continues to put them in close proximity, but neither is ready for a serious commitment. Nick and Trisha work well together, but their personal relationship runs hot and cold for much of the novel.

The mystery aspect of the storyline has its roots in long ago events, but Nick and Trisha are stone-walled by her parents and her close friends. Nick and Trisha, along with her best friend Brad, quietly look into Alexandra Drake’s past and what they uncover is puzzling. Equally troubling are the present day murders of two of Trisha’s friends and the unexplained disappearance of a longtime family friend.

The Drake House is a suspense-laden mystery with a just the right amount of romance and the tiniest bit of a supernatural component. The characters are wonderfully developed with realistic flaws and imperfections. Kelly Moran does an excellent job obscuring the perpetrator’s identity until the novel’s exciting conclusion.


Filed under Contemporary, Kelly Moran, Paranormal, Rated B, Review, Romantic Suspense, The Drake House, The Wild Rose Press

Review: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster

dashTitle: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
Love Undercover Series Book Four
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN
Genre: Contemporary, Romantic, Suspense
Length: 480 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A no-nonsense female cop reluctantly teams up with the one man who makes her lose control in a deliciously sensual new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster.

To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret “Margo” Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is six feet four inches of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own….

Beneath Margo’s tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he’ll have to prove he’s all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter….

The Review:

The fourth installment in the Love Undercover series, Dash of Peril by Lori Foster is a super sexy romance. This fast paced story is also action filled as lead protagonists Margo Peterson and Dash Riske investigate a porn ring. When Margo is injured following an attempt on her life, Dash eagerly volunteers to stay with her until she fully recovers from her injuries.

Following in her family’s law enforcement footsteps, Margo has quickly risen through the ranks to become the youngest lieutenant on the force. She is strong, independent and fearless when it comes to her job. No nonsense and fully in charge while on duty, off duty is a whole other story. When it comes to her love life, Margo yearns to cede control but trying to keep her tough as nails reputation intact leaves her few options to fully explore her yearnings.

Dash is laid back and easygoing most of the time but under the right set of circumstances, he is more than willing to give his dominant side free reign. He is also ultra protective of the people he cares about and he will go to any lengths to keep them safe. Dash has never had any interest in law enforcement but when Margo’s life is in danger, he does not hesitate to put the skills that he learned from his cop brother Logan to good use. And when Dash picks up on Margo’s carefully hidden submissive desires, he is more than happy to give her exactly what has been craving.

Dash and Margo are great characters and they perfectly complement one another. Dash’s feelings for Margo run deeper than desire but Margo has kept him at arms’ length for quite some time. Dash brings out a softer, more feminine side of Margo and he helps her accept all the different facets of her personality. The sexual attraction between them is quite strong and their sex scenes are a little playful and a whole lot sexy with a bit of a D/s element. However, the sexual aspect sometimes overpowers the rest of the storyline.

The other story arc dealing with the investigation into the porn ring is interesting, although somewhat predictable. The bad guys are detestable, but they feel one dimensional. There is some intrigue as to who might be after Margo and again, it was easy enough to figure out the who and the why.

The secondary characters are from past novels in the series and they play an integral role to the unfolding story. Logan and Reese work for Margo, they have the utmost respect for her and they always have her back. Rowdy is also on deck to lend a hand and give Margot some much needed love life advice. In addition, Cannon Colter has information that cracks the case wide open and the changes in his life set the stage for a forthcoming spin off series.

Dash of Peril is an outstanding conclusion to the Love Undercover series. It is another passion filled romance and fast paced mystery that is sure to delight old and new fans. All of the loose ends are nicely wrapped up and Lori Foster’s epilogue is an absolutely perfect ending to the novel!

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Filed under Contemporary, Dash of Peril, Harlequin, HQN Books, Lori Foster, Love Undercover Series, Rated C+, Review, Romantic Suspense