Monday, November 30, 2020

Monday Book Review: Cold Wicked Lies (Cold Justice: Crossfire, Book 3), by Toni Anderson


About the Book:

In an effort to halt an armed standoff, FBI negotiator Charlotte Blood tries to unravel the mystery of a young woman’s death on a remote mountainside. Pity she has to fight her stubborn, sexy, Hostage Rescue Team counterpart every step of the way.

As a highly skilled operative, HRT leader Payne Novak doesn’t have time to play detective or make nice with killers who flout the law. His focus is getting inside the compound and ending the siege as quickly as possible.

Forced to work together, the battle-hardened HRT team leader and the quietly determined negotiator figure out they might have more in common than they anticipated. As the clock ticks, Charlotte discovers there are some dangers she can’t talk her way out of, and the race to unearth long-buried lies becomes a matter of survival for everyone on the mountain.



I think I've mentioned before - and recently - that enemies to lovers is not my favorite romance trope. It usually feels forced. But I'm signed up to write one that's due out next year, so I thought I should explore how other authors handle the relationship in real and believable ways. Claire Marti did an excellent job with her recent Christmas story. And this weekend I read Toni Anderson's take on the trope in one of her recent Cold Justice: Crossfire series stories. 

If you haven't read anything by Toni Anderson, what are you waiting for? She is an absolute genius of romantic suspense and FBI thrillers. I've read her entire Cold Justice series, and now the first three books of the Crossfire spinoff series. Gritty, detailed, believable suspense that will have you turning pages faster than you ever thought possible. Anderson drags you along on her wild roller coaster ride, kicking and screaming and eating up every word on the page.

FBI hostage negotiator Charlotte Blood has appeared in several other books, and I was glad to see she finally got her own story. The book takes on he said/she said dueling POVs, with several chapters sprinkled throughout in other character POVs to forward the plot. The instant antagonism between Charlotte and Payne Novak is palpable and feels justified, although their situation commander's solution seems contrived. Making the two pair so tightly wouldn't seem to be the most efficient way for anyone to get their jobs done. It does, however, give the pair insight into each other's motivations and drivers, and help them each see past the external face the other presents to the world.

With a ripped from the headlines plot, this fast-paced story kept me engrossed and engaged, with writing that crackled off the page and characters you wanted to root for. Totally recommend and give 5 shiny stars. Despite the fact that I've read all her books - and recommend all of them - I think this would easily work as a standalone read. Or, be like me and start at the beginning. The first book of the Cold Justice series is perma-free for Kindle, to suck you in. Believe me, you won't regret it.


Or, Grab the first book of the original series A COLD DARK PLACE on AMAZON


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and readers... and my readers who are also my friends!

 ~ Stay safe ~ stay healthy ~ be happy ~

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monday Book Review: Dead Wood, Grosse Pointe Pulp Book 1 by Dan Ames



About the Book;

An Ex-Cop Who Lost Everything. A Killer Who Will Stop At Nothing.
By the author of the Jack Reacher Cases, set in the Reacher universe by permission of Lee Child.

In the exclusive enclave of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a woman who builds custom guitars is murdered. A disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator is hired by the dead woman's father and immediately becomes the target of a violent ex-convict. An enigmatic music star performs damage control on her links to the dead woman. And a professional killer who idolizes Keith Richards is brought into town by a mysterious employer.

Dead Wood is what great mysteries are all about: love, hate, faith and vengeance, all wrapped up in an explosive story that simply refuses to let up.

 My Take:

 I admit to buying this book through BookBub without reading the full blurb. the teaser sounded good so boom, into my reading queue. But it's not my typical read, and it's not really the sort of cover I gravitate toward, so it sat unread for a while in my online library. I pulled it up to try, thinking I'd at least clear it off my device. Nope. Read it like it was water to a person in the desert, and went on to read the next two books in the series.

Snarky, self-deprecating, and fast with the quippy one-liners, John Rockne is the disgruntled ex-cop turned PI. More like Stephanie Plum or Kinsie Millhone than Sam Spade, Rockne grabs the reader from the first few pages and drags them along on his wild ride. Told in first person POV, the book starts with young rookie-cop Rockne, cocky and self-assured, making that mistake that cost him his badge, his fiance, and the life he'd planned out. 

The next time we see the now ex-cop, it's years later. He's a different man except for the snark. His sister is the chief of police and he hasn't left the same Grosse Pointe enclave where he lived before and during his screw-up. he runs a successful PI business, is married to a strong woman with a temper and opinions, and has two little girls whom he dotes on. Not the glamorous life he'd envisioned as a younger man, but comfortable. Happy.

The case that comes his way seems straight-forward at first but brings him back to the beginning, to the night his life made the left turn off the fast lane. I found it interesting to read the introspection from a male character - and a male author's - point of view. What gets focused on. What doesn't. Rockne has the same healthy amount of self doubt as Sue Grafton infuses her character with, and the same thoughtless hubris that Evonavich's Stephanie Plum often displays. His character is fascinating reading to me because it wasn't as predictable as I first expected, and I couldn't unravel the mystery any faster than Rockne could as he plods through the confusion of facts and profusion of dead ends.

Entertaining, engrossing, gripping and gritty, the Grosse Pointe Pulp series is totally worth the time spent reading. 5 bright stars for this new-to-me author. Looking forward to reading more from him!

Grab a copy on AMAZON and try it for yourself...

...or if it sounds good to you, save money and grab the first 3 books in the set on AMAZON

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

New YA Book Release and Review: Damned When I Didn't, by Cherie Colyer


About the book:

Death isn't the end for eighteen-year-old Avery Williams, and her final resting place isn't beyond the Golden Gates. No, the Queen of the Damned has plans for her and, unbeknownst to Avery, fought hard to gain possession of her soul. 

As Hell's newest succubus, Avery is expected to siphon life from the living. It only takes a long, meaningful kiss, but for a virgin like Avery, kissing guys she barely knows isn't something she's comfortable doing. Avery focuses on the upside of her fate—she'll be returning home, or so she thinks. When the Queen of the Damned cuts her off from her old life, Avery is determined to find a way back to her family and friends, even if it means facing Hell's fury if she's caught.


Paranormal romance takes many forms - weres, vampires, ghosts, witches, demons - and succubi are usually one of the racier sub-genres since a succubus is really all about sex. Imagine my surprise in finding a new Young Adult story about a teenage succubus who is still - get this - a virgin. 

How does something like that even happen?

Turns out that the job of a succubus is actually to feed on men's souls, shading them grey with a bit of sin. Acting as part of the recruiting squad for Team Hell. Except 18-year-old Avery, Hell's newest recruiter, isn't as loose with her kisses as she needs to be to get the job done. Before she died, she'd never gone further than stolen kisses - unfortunately they were with a friend's boyfriend, which caused the grey stains on her soul. 

Luckily, Avery is sent to live with Cole, who is supposed to show her the ropes of her new immortal existence. The handsome hunk has been an incubus for over hundred years, having sold his soul at nineteen to save his older brother. Together with his rag tag band of human and no-so-human friends, he tries to help Avery come to grips with and adjust to her new "life" as an immortal demon. I can't go into too many actual details as the fun of this story is the twists and turns of the journey.

I've read several of Cherie Colyer's previous young adult books, including the Embrace series.Colyer does a great job with first person POV and snappy teenage dialogue. Colyer keeps the action moving right along, complete with bad decisions and close calls between Avery and the Queen of the Damned. i found the characters likeable, and kept rooting for some kind of happily ever after, even though all the best characters were already, um, damned. Buckle in for an interesting ride, for a book that seems to be the first in a new series.

5 stars, in hopes that there are more Avery books to come!

Grab a copy on AMAZON

Monday, November 16, 2020

Monday Book Review: Wrapped Up in You by Claire Marti


About the Book:

When cocky financial genius Rafael Cruz is forced to partner with his snarky office rival Phoebe Hollingsworth to land a prestigious new client, nothing goes as planned.

At work, they ignore each other, but at the Jingle Ball, their unexpected chemistry changes the game.

Will their secret holiday hook-up ruin the deal or is it the start of a deeper connection?



Claire Marti writes with humor and heart, with believable characters and fun twists to her plot lines. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this full-length story, part of her Pacific Vista Ranch series that I've read and reviewed. With every story, I find myself drawn further into the California coastal worlds she creates, wishing I could live there.

The first three books of the series focus on the three sisters whose family owns the Pacific Vista Ranch. This story features the brother of one of the previous heroes, who we met in Marti's wonderful second chance romance The Very Thought of You. At the time, I'd hoped for hunky older brother Rafe Cruz to get a book of his own - and here it is. (insert happy dance!)

Rafe and Phoebe are coworkers at the same financial firm, both Harvard-educated and at the top of their game. Each thinks they’ll be the one to take over the firm when the CEO retires. And they hate each other. I have to admit, enemies to lovers has never been one of my favorite romance tropes because the antagonism often feels forced or ginned up, but I totally found myself believing these characters and situations and loved every minute of it.

When Rafe and Phoebe are sent to represent the company together to woo new clients at the annual Jingle Ball fundraiser, their boss makes a clear statement. Get along or else. The pair are both professionals and grit their teeth, agreeing to work together for one night. Over wine before and during the event, they actually get to know each other and misconceptions each held are torn down. Sparks fly as things between them heat.... and keep heating. I don't want to give any of the good parts away, but rest assured Marti adds plenty of steam and spice to heat up this holiday tale.

Thoroughly enjoyed this read, and totally recommend. It works as a standalone read, but my enjoyment was totally enhanced by the fact that I'd previously met the secondary characters in the first three stories. Love this whole series and totally recommend! 5 well-Deserved Stars!

 Grab a copy on AMAZON


Monday, November 9, 2020

Monday Book Review: Whispers in Washington (Ticket to True Love) by Jennifer Wilck


About the Book:

Naomi's life has been destroyed…

When Naomi Adelman’s crooked politician husband was arrested, her life, and that of her daughters, was destroyed. Divorced and rebuilding her life, Naomi is wiser, stronger, and determined not to let anyone hurt her or her family again. Her new life doesn’t include falling for her charming and good-looking neighbor.

Max bet everything and lost...

Max Bruder bet his entire career on the Adelman story and lost everything. So, he figures that karma has smiled down on him when Naomi moves in next door. This is his chance to revitalize his career. Except the closer he gets to her, the deeper he falls for her. And soon, the line between interview subject and lover blurs.

If they fall for each other, they may jeopardize their chance at a future.

When Max’s true motive is revealed, will Naomi be able to forgive him? And will Max be able to stop the whispers to protect her before it’s too late?



I love second chance romances, and this one has surprising depth and nuance. If you ignore the cheesy series premise about drinking the special spring water that will make you find true love, the rest is really well-plotted and thought out. Although, in all honesty, I kinda like the myth of the spring water, and the faith the main character's mother places in its power. But I also like to think that love doesn't need magic water to grow.


Naomi's rocky and ultimately failed marriage is behind her, but she can't escape the whispers of gossip that follow her, especially not in a town like Washington D.C. that thrives on innuendo and secrets. What did she know and when did she know it are questions that dog her even now, long after her divorce from the cheating, lying politician she married. Determined not to let him overshadow the rest of her life, she moves back to D.C. and starts a new life that feels more like who she wants to be rather than who her ex-husband wanted her to be.

Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to Naomi, her new next door neighbor is one of the reporters who dogged her story back in the day, and recognizes her right off the bat. Max lost his prime newspaper position because he failed to get Naomi's story the first time around, and he's determined to grab an inside scoop now that the opportunity is in front of him. Except... The more he gets to know his beautiful, quirky, reticent neighbor, the more he would rather protect her from journalistic sharks than exploit her for his own benefit.

The back and forth between the main characters is wonderful to watch, as Naomi learns to trust again and Max's preconceptions are shattered. There's very little heat in this story, but a whole lot of heart. the author also does an excellent job of weaving the feel of multi-cultural D.C. as well as Jewish holiday traditions and complicated family relationships into the narrative giving a fullness to the story.  If you're looking for a feel-good second chance romance, try Whispers in Washington. It's the first book I've tried in this multi-author Ticket to Love series, and I think I may be hooked.

Grab your copy on AMAZON

Wednesday, November 4, 2020



The morning after the U.S. election and the results are still in flux. Despite the un-democratic directives from a president trying to disenfranchise voters. False statements. Lies. And the realization that many Americans believe everything Fox news tells them.


I don't know what to say or what to think. except that I know I need a hug.

hang in there, Lady Liberty. there are still lots of us who believe in truth and justice.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Monday Book Review: Home In Your Arms, by Charlotte O'Shay


About the Book:

After her sweetheart Joe dies in a road accident, twenty-four hours after he returns from Army service, grieving Karla Payne slams the door on love. Five years later, Karla's tavern business is booming, and she owns her home, but she knows forever love has no part in her future.

Headed to interview for his first civilian job, retired career Army 1st Sgt. Zane Blackthorne can't resist visiting his late buddy's beloved Vermont hometown. He also can't resist looking up Joe's sweetheart, Karla, who is an alluring mix of brains, beauty, and bravery.
Loyalty to his brother-in-arms demands Zane fight his attraction to Karla. Besides, even if Karla wants him, she'll never love him.

Can Zane say goodbye to the woman he has no right to call his own?
Even if his only true home is in her arms?



I love second chance romance! And I love Vermont settings, so the Deerbourne Inn series has a lot going for it, especially this newest installment in the series. Published by the Wild Rose Press, each Deerbourne Inn book is written by a different author and different romance genres, but I love a story of second chances.

Charlotte O'Shay writes believeable, down-to-earth characters with such heart and emotion, you can't help but root for their Happily Ever Afters right from the start. Home in Your Arms, however, gets off to a rockier than usual start.

Karla and Zane met only once before, at her fiance's funeral. Joe made it through an overseas deployment, only to be killed in an early morning car accident when he returned to his small Vermont hometown. Five years later, his Army buddy Zane comes to pay his respects to the town and the sweetheart he feels like he knows from so many stories and conversations. If he's honest with himself, he probably fell in love with her from the stories alone, but the reality of seeing the strong, beautiful, take-charge woman in person blows Zane away.

Karla has only ever dated or loved one man. When Joe dies, she decides fate meant her to be alone for the rest of her life, and throws her energy into work. The feelings Zane stirs in her surprise her on so many levels, but she studiously avoids labeling them since she doesn't want to betray Joe's memory. When he finally pushes to define their relationship, she completely panics. 

Can she let herself love again? That's the million dollar question at the center of any good second chance story, and at the heart of the book. And the way Ms. O'Shay handles all the nuances of Karla's emotional upheaval is brilliant.

If you enjoy small town, second chance romance you've got to grab this one. It will tug your heart strings and make you smile. 5 well-deserved stars.

Available on AMAZON