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Resurrection River: Men of Mercy – Lindsay Cross – Romantic Suspense

Resurrection River (Men of Mercy #2)“How many women get to watch their husband murdered on live television?”

Amy did. She watched as the bloodsucking monsters, better known as “The National News,” splashed the video of her husband, on his knees at the feet of Afghan terrorists, a black bag over his head, take a bullet to the back of his head. Thanks, Army, for not even letting her know her husband was captured.

No body to bury. Nothing but pain, and emptiness, and horrific loneliness, as everyone around her makes sympathetic noises. But nobody is going to pay her bills. So, to keep her farm, and to raise the child her husband never even knew he had, she goes back to crop dusting. An ancient plane, an illegal immigrant farmhand and his son, and her daughter are the only things Amy has left. Well, and the completely vicious, psychotic mother-in-law from hell who is determined to make sure that Amy and her daughter suffer because her ‘oh-so-special’ son never came back from the war. Oh, and a whole flock of circling scavengers, better known as “the press,” camping on her lawn, determined to feed off her pain and grief.

Determined to give her child a good life, eight months later she is doing her best, keeping her ancient plane in the air on a wish and a prayer, bubble gum and baling wire. Her life is OK. But all that changes in a single day when the past rears up to punch her in the face. One of her husband’s old Army buddies is back in town. And that isn’t all – oh, no. For there is a Mexican Cartel boss sniffing around Amy, her farmhand, and his son. Suddenly, Amy and her tiny family are surrounded by danger. She needs help, but does she dare trust Ranger James and his team to protect them? Or is there no safe place to hide from the monsters in the dark?

On the surface Resurrection River is a romantic suspense novel on a level with all the other “Big strong military dude comes along to save the little woman and they all live happily ever after” novels on the market today. Let’s face it – soldiers are sexy, right? But there is a lot more here as well. Lindsay Cross’s work (this is the second in the “Men of Mercy” series) touches on troubles we are all much too familiar with. Drug cartels, warlords, women and children being sold into sex slavery, terrorism and the horrors of PTSD. It is a mad, bad, ugly world out there, and Cross weaves all these themes through her book.

We all need a light read sometimes, and ‘sexy soldier’ is a common trope, yes. But this is more than that, and I am glad it is. We get the ‘fun’ stuff. But along with it, you get a big dose of the serious as well, and that was a treat.

What killed it for me, and dropped it two whole stars, is how BADLY this book needs an Editor! The authors gives kudos to her ‘”Beta Readers” but they did a Horrible job. The book is filled with so many problems, at times I found it hard to translate what the writer was trying to say, and the whole mess was truly disappointing from that angle.

Review: Proving Ground by Stanalei Fletcher #RomanticSuspense

Proving GroundCaitlin Malone is one tough cookie. Oh, she doesn’t realize it yet. Not when her first assignment as a Northstar Security agent winds up getting her partner shot. Just a simply tracking job, but Caitlin’s inability to follow orders, and her impulsiveness, nearly gets Sloan dead. Disgraced, she is sent back to Oregon by her boss to talk to her father, a former Northstar partner, and to get her head on straight. But arriving at her father’s house in Oregon she finds he isn’t there. When her old flame and long-time friend, John MacAlistair, walks in the door she meets him with a shotgun, while he greets her with the news that her father is in the hospital. The bullet in his back that was too dangerous to remove when he was shot has moved.

Shocked, Caitlin is forced to accept that she may lose her father. Their strained relationship over the years after she lost her mother at seven years old, and her father lost his wife, was exacerbated by her father’s inability to understand his young daughter resulting in him dropping her in a small town in Oregon and extending his business trips over longer and longer periods until she saw him only rarely. It finally reached the breaking point when they fought, two years ago, over her taking a job at Northstar and moving to DC. Harsh words flowed, and Caitlin walked out the door. Of course, it was all made worse when John’s grandmother, who had been like a mother to Caitlin, dies and John took her to bed for her first time the night of the funeral – and then walked out the door and didn’t return.

Betrayals. First from an icy and distant father who taught her to be a hardass then pitched a fit when she followed in his footsteps, cutting her out of his life. And then her best friend John takes her and then leaves her. What else was she to do?

When a bike rally leads to Caitlin’s attempted murder and a massive forest fire set as a distraction so terrorists could rob a biotech lab for deadly pathogens, Caitlin has to drag her badly injured body across the mountains to reach safety. When John, a forest ranger, hears from his uncle that Caitlin is missing in the fire he has himself dropped into the fire zone to find her. What follows shows that, while Caitlin may not always be centered and focused, she is, as previously stated, one tough cookie.

Terrorists, a fire that has blown up out of control, and a mad rush across rugged territory makes this a fast moving, exciting tale. The characters are well written and believable. Besides the high-tension suspense we also watch as Caitlin learns to tear down the walls around herself and push back at a father who she wants desperately to love, but simply doesn’t know how. I can’t say that I completely agreed with the author’s take on the relationship and how the blame for the relationship issues between her and her father and her and John were handled, but I am sure there are those out there who don’t have such a brittle relationship with the concepts of love and family who will find it quite rewarding. Caitlin is immature in certain ways, but that immaturity is understandable and made me like her more.

I received “Proving Ground” from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Review: The SEAL’s Angel by Petie McCarty #MysterySuspense #StrongHeroine

“I’ll tell you what I’m fighting for. Not for England, nor her allies, nor any patriotic cause. It’s all come down to the hope of being with you.” ― Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon

“War always reaches the depths of horror because of idiots who perpetuate terror from generation to generation under the pretext of vengeance.” ― Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier

“The footprints of an Angel in your life are Love.” ― Genevieve Gerard

Cory Rigatero is one strong young woman. A young woman who has suffered loss and betrayal, pain and suffering, and still keeps right on getting up in the morning, fighting to keep her family’s legacy, Bel Tesoro, “Beautiful Treasure” the family resort on the edge of Cory has lost everything. Her parents. Her brother, a SEAL, listed MIA two years ago. Now, it is her and Vern, her manager and general handyman at Bel Tesoro, a pile of bills, and a desperate need to keep Bel Tesoro alive.

Her brother Brian’s last words before he left her all alone six years ago were, “I prayed for a guardian angel for you last night to dog your steps while I’m gone…”

She is going to need that angel – because bad things are happening at Bel Tesoro. Things that may land Bel Tesoro in the hands of Percy “Senior” Standish, local rich bully, who is determined to buy Bel Tesoro out from under Cory and raze it to the ground in order to build honeymoon cottages as part of his own huge, overblown, high class resort on the other side of the lake. And if bad – read, ‘expensive’ – things continue to happen, she may have no other choice.

Of course, the bad things didn’t start happening until “Mac” shows up, all bearded, long haired Harley riding drifter. Vern trusts him, so Cory lets him stay to work. But when two of her resort clients nearly drown due to sabotaged kayaks, and Cory herself nearly dies when the dock collapses, trapping her under the pilings, Mac becomes suspect number one for the sabotage.

There are layers of story here. The sabotage at the resort. A mysterious package from her brother, who has been listed as dead for the last two years. And a break in by two foreign speaking men, “Where’s Formula?” Cory is terrified now not only of losing Bel Tesoro – but of losing her life.

I loved this book. Really loved it. The story line is well-developed, and the characters are believable. There is mystery, suspense, thrills. Cory is a strong woman character without being over-the-top, and highly likable. The pace is fast, and Cory barely has the chance to catch her breath as things spin out of control around her. And the very ending? Well, it was, in a word, a great ending. You will have to read it to find out what happens, but it left me with a huge smile on my face. Again, I loved this book and highly recommend it to mystery and suspense lovers with a quirky sense of humor.

As an aside – a major character in the book? Lucky Luciano. If you aren’t familiar with America Mobster History, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and Meyer Lansky were three of the most famous American mobsters in history. History comes into play here in Lucky’s story and how it crosses and melds with Cory’s great-grandfather, Brocconi “Brock” Rigatero’s history as he built Bel Tesoro. Lucky’s history crosses my own, as my own grandfather was Lewis Archer Cooper, Chief of Police in Hot Springs, Arkansas during the period. Family stories say that Arch, besides being COP, also owned bars and, uh, hum, “bath houses,” with Lucky. Seeing as how Lucky was arrested in Hot Springs by a federal agent who was investigating “Other Matters” in Hot Springs at the time, I got a huge kick out of reading about Lucky’s part in this story! Oh, and as for one of my pet peeves? GREAT COVER!! It caught my eye right away and led me to read the blurb, which made me want to read the book. Awesome!

I received this book from Reading Alley in exchange for a realistic review. This is the third Mystery Angel Romance. Each stand-alone love story has an angel hidden in the plot, and the angel’s identity is not revealed until the finale unless the reader figures it out first.

About the Author

Petie McCartyPetie McCarty spent a large part of her career working as a biologist at Walt Disney World — “The Most Magical Place on Earth” — where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night. She eventually said good-bye to her “day” job in order to write her stories full-time. Petie is a member of Romance Writers of America, and she shares homes in Tennessee and Florida with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer Spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday Conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.

Review: Targeted by Katie Reus

“And I’ve fallen.

So hard.

I’ve hit the ground. Gone right through it. Never in my life have I felt this. Nothing like this. I’ve felt shame and cowardice, weakness and strength. I’ve known terror and indifference, self-hate and general disgust. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen.

And yet I’ve known nothing like this terrible, horrible, paralyzing feeling. I feel crippled. Desperate and out of control. And it keeps getting worse. Every day I feel sick. Empty and somehow aching.

Love is a heartless bastard.”  – ― Tahereh Mafi, Destroy Me

Targeted: Deadly Ops, Book 1 | Katie ReusA bad start to a book can stop my read in its tracks, and this one started out, well, bad. Not because the writing is bad, it isn’t, but because I thought it was going to be just another series of bedroom calisthenics with no real story to back it up. Thankfully, the premise sounded promising, so I gave it a couple of chapters to see if it would be worth reading.

I am glad I did. Targeted surprised me – in a good way. The story, once you get past the immediate problem, is tightly written, well-paced, and surprisingly free of excessive nookie at the cost of story. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a ‘romantic suspense’ – but it does mean that it is much more suspense than romance, which is just what I like.

The premise is interesting – not ‘Oh, I have never seen that before’ interesting, but though I have seen it done before, I have never seen it done this well before. Sophie Moreno had a hard life growing up. A very hard life, until she met Sam. Placed in the same foster home, Sophie and Sam form an unbreakable bond. But when placed separately for their last months in the system, and Sophie is brutally raped by her new foster father while her new foster mother stands by, Sophie is broken, unable to bear the agony and shame she feels. And the pain of Sam not being there to protect her from the monster. Contrary to what the sickos into BDSM think – Rape Is NOT Sexy. And Sophie is certain that no one will ever love her again. Not like Sam did, before she was brutalized. Turning her back on him, she sends him away, determined to protect herself from his disgust at what has happened to her.

Now, thirteen years later, Sam is no longer Sam but Jack Stone, an undercover agent for an undercover agency hidden within the NSA. Back from a grueling undercover operation in the bowels of a human trafficking ring, Jack just wants to rest, relax, and decompress. But his boss, Wesley Burkhart, Deputy Director of the NSA, has something different in mind. Something that will bring Jack right back to Sophie. For Sophie has seen something she shouldn’t – and a vicious cartel boss will do whatever it takes to track Sophie down and kill her. Now Jack is determined to protect her, while keeping his identity a secret. But their old bond is still there, and keeping his secret may destroy them both.

This book, the first in the Deadly Ops series by Katie Reus, shows promise. The action is well written, the characters intriguing, and the storyline kept me riveted. There were some continuity issues that had me scratching my head, but not enough to make me turn off my listen. I am hoping that the same issues don’t show up in the next book, Bound to Danger. These are the only two on Audible, but there are more in the series at Deadly Ops.

Sophie Eastlake does a beautiful job of narration. She has quite a catalog with Audible, including the Elder Races, Nikki Glass, and the Chicagoland Vampires series. I would have enjoyed listening to the book just for her narration.

If you are looking for a romantic suspense where the suspense is the star, you might give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed. Not a five star read, due to a couple of odd content issues, but a good listen nonetheless.

Review: The Enigma Strain by Nick Thacker

The Enigma Strain (Harvey Bennett #1)“We know we cannot underestimate the importance of emergency planning in our region, nor can we assume we’ll have ample warning time. If an earthquake or terrorist attack hits, we won’t necessarily have advance alerts or opportunities to double- and triple-check our plans”. – Ellen Tauscher

“The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.” – Tony Blair

“This country values freedom, but you and I both know that ‘freedom’ is a joke. We’re somewhere between a third-world country with a corrupt government and an overbearing corporation on the scale of how free we really are. Americans now hold on to every scrap of ‘freedom’ they can find, including their own individuality –“ Nick Thacker, The Enigma Strain

Harvey “Ben” Bennett, Yellowstone Ranger, has had a crummy day. First, the worst kind of campers created a huge mess at their campsite – then are all bent out of shape when Mo the Grizzly shows up. Good ol’ Mo, he knows where the easy goodies are. Stupid, messy, complaining psudo-campers, ruining the sanctity of the ecosystem. Bah. Now, Ben has to haul Mo up to the northern end of the park, far away from the campsite areas, and ignorant tourists. This is Mo’s third strike – if he wanders back to populated areas, he winds up on death row. All because tourists can’t keep from treating the park like Disneyland, complete with throwing their trash on the ground.

But when Ben and Carlos Rivera haul Mo north, they run into more than they expected. A monstrous explosion, complete with mushroom cloud, causes an earthquake that drops Carlos into a chasm in the Earth. Now, a red dust cloud hangs over Yellowstone – a cloud of death. As people begin to die, Ben finds himself partnered with Julie Richardson, a specialist with the Biological Threat Research Division of the Centers for Disease Control as they chase the origin of what appears to be a synthetic, airborne virus. A virus that, if released across the US, could cause near total destruction. But that isn’t the only terrorist action that is planned. For the explosion in Yellowstone may only be the first – and if the caldera under Yellowstone blows, the United States will turn into a wasteland.

There is action aplenty in The Enigma Strain. Ben and Julie are realistic characters, well developed and designed, and the people they run up against, from self-centered management personnel to soulless terrorists and guns for hire are also well rendered, though tend towards ‘over-the-top’. As with my review of Thacker’s The Depths, I find myself disappointed with the obvious continuity issues. Editorial issues are not as bad as in The Depths, but I find continuity issues to be tremendously aggravating – especially when it changes the character of the actors, their mental, intellectual and psychological actions and capabilities. Hard right turns in intellectual levels are infuriating.

The ideas are on the edge, but frighteningly believable in these days of worldwide terrorism. It was a fun read overall, and worth the time spent. The infusion of historical events gave the book the extra ‘kick’ it needed to encourage the excitement level.

I receive this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Review: White Plague by James Abel -Stunning!

White Plague by James AbelAnd I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. – Revelations 6:8 – King James Bible

Paneloux is a man of learning, a scholar. He hasn’t come in contact with death; that’s why he can speak with such assurance of the truth-with a capital T. But every country priest who visits his parishioners and has heard a man gasping for breath on his deathbed thinks as I do. He’d try to relieve human suffering before trying to point out its goodness. -Albert Camus – The Plague Part 2

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour. – Benjamin Disraeli
What is the point to winning a war – if all your subjects are rotting in their graves? For me, no ideological or political conviction would justify the sacrifice of a human life. For me, the value of life is absolute, with no concessions. It’s not negotiable. Edgar Ramirez

It begins, as do many things, death amongst them, with silence. The pleas for help stopped coming just after five in the morning, Washington time. The Pentagon staffers cleared for handling sensitive messages sat in horror for a moment and then tried other ways to reach the victims. Nothing worked, so they called the director, who phoned me.

And what follows horrified me, chilled me to the bone, and kept me reading four hours past when I should, by all reasonable measure, put it down and gone to bed. And horrifying the story is, for a lot of different reasons, but mainly? For the absolute, gut wrenching reality of it all. And just how true it is – how likely that something like this will happen.

Lt. Colonel Joe Rush gets the call at 1am, Anchorage time, as he pounds the streets, running from sleep, running from memories. Memories of decisions which saved lives, while taking others. Which left him with the weight of the world on his shoulders, the blackness of grief in his heart. Two weeks. Just two weeks until he retires. And now, this. A new submarine prototype has surfaced in the Arctic – and it is burning. One-hundred-fifty seven souls, trapped on the ice. And no one is near enough to reach them except the single ice breaker the US government has funded to handle the vast spaces of the Arctic waters. Colonel Rush, MD and virology specialist, must get to them as quickly as possible if they are to save the people and salvage the submarine before Chinese or Russian icebreakers claim it for their own.

Monster storms, crushing ice, bone breaking cold – all are threats which Rush, the few Marines who accompany him, and the few Coast Guard sailors handling the Icebreaker Wilmington must meet and overcome to reach their burned and stranded submariners. The sick submariners. For a sickness is burning through the crew, a sickness that no one can identify.

It becomes a race, a race to save the people, to save the submarine, and to avert a single incident that could be the linchpin starting World War III. For as global warming breaks up the ice, opening trade routes and access to unknown stores of oil, gems, metals and trade routes, the political machinations have begun. Great beasts of war are gathering, stomping their hooves, waving their swords, and foaming at the mouths for the blood of those they would call ‘enemy’.

What is the sickness? Where did it come from? And more importantly, can it be cured before the political machine does the unthinkable in a move to ascertain it’s own power? And who aboard the Wilmington is a traitor? And how high do the traitor’s contacts go – and to whom does he report?

No one becomes depraved all at once. – JUVENAL, Satires

All these questions and more make this a hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat military suspense/thriller beyond compare. With it’s roots dug deeply into current political and military policy, White Plague is, beyond a doubt, the BEST military suspense thriller I have read this year.

Highly recommended.

I received the book from Penguin’s First To Read program in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own and are not affected by this fact. For more information on First To Read, click.

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