Tag: romantic suspense

June 16, 2017

Review | Sparking the Fire by Kate Meador

Review | Sparking the Fire by Kate MeadorSparking the Fire by Kate Meader
Series: Hot in Chicago #3
Publisher: Pocket Books, September 2016
Format: Paperback
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Actor Molly Cade, America’s fallen sweetheart, finally has her shot at a Hollywood comeback with a dramatic new role as a tough-as-nails firefighter that promises to propel her back to the big time and restore her self-respect. Wyatt Fox, resident daredevil at Engine Co. 6, needs a low-key job to keep him busy while he recovers from his latest rescue stunt. Consulting on a local movie shoot should add just enough spark to his day. Especially when in struts Molly Cade: the woman who worked his heart over good, and then left him in the Windy City dust.

Their story is straight out of a script: irrepressible, spunky heroine meets taciturn, smoldering hero. But these two refuse to be typecast, and when the embers of an old love are stoked, someone is bound to get burned…

Sparking the Fire is the kind of book I pack for a beach weekend, long lazy afternoons in the park, or when I need a brain break. It’s got romance, wit, a coming-of-age story, and female empowerment. Plus a hot firefighter. What’s not to love?

America’s sweetheart Molly Cade is trying to pull her life back together after her very personal photos were leaked on the internet and this acting role looks like just the place to relaunch her career, and her life. But when Wyatt Fox, the man she had an intense, short-lived affair strides onto the set, her dreams for an easy comeback professionally shatter…that is, if she can keep her personal life out of the equation.

Molly could have been easily overwhelmed by Wyatt’s dominant, he-man (I say that in the best way possible) personality. He’s quiet, intense, guarded, and a little sarcastic. He’s used to getting his way and not arguing about it. Lucky for him (and the Sparking the Fire plot), Molly isn’t used to yielding just because someone else said so. This fire creates the chemistry that makes Meador’s third book in the series so much fun to read.

I loved all the side plots weaved into the story. Wyatt’s niece plays a significant role in his life: aside from helping to soften the he-man (again, best intentions) characteristic, she provides the foil to Molly’s own major life decisions. It’s a coming-of-age/rebuilding life story that brings the novel together.

Frankly, it’s weird to write this with my love of hot romance scenes, but the ones in Sparking the Fire were a little too much for me. Or unexpected? Maybe there were more unexpected. I didn’t expect the frequency of the hot-and-heavy scenes. Sometimes, it felt like they were supporting the plot, not all of the other fantastic elements Meador built into the story.

Either way, Sparking the Fire was a fun, quick read that I’d definitely grab again…that is, after I finish the rest of the Hot in Chicago series.


3 Stars

Posted June 16, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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March 27, 2017

Review | Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Review | Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda NovakHer Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak
Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks, August 2016
Pages: 407
Format: Paperback
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Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…

Despite her career working in the insane asylum, Evelyn Talbot thinks her darkest nightmare is behind her. She survived brutal torture and imprisonment at the hands of her high school boyfriend (after he killed her best friends in cold blood) and rebuilt her life to study those who can’t resist the call of the kill. But when asylum staff and townspeople from the small Alaskan town start to go missing, Evelyn fears the worst: her past is back to haunt her.

Here’s the thing about Her Darkest Nightmare: it has all the elements to be an insanely (no pun intended) creepy, heartstoppingly thrilling, breathtakingly romantic story. But it isn’t. Why? Evelyn.

Evelyn had so many issues. Granted, yes, she had a terrible event in her teenage years that would haunt anyone for the rest of their God-given days. Yes, she pulled herself together pretty well. But it’s the massive amounts of neurosis coupled with an unsympathetic, flat character that takes all the wind out of the story’s sails.

She can’t date Amarok, the cute Alaska State Trooper, because he’s younger than she is. I don’t know quite where that one came from – it’s never really explained except she’s afraid of being judged. She can’t be alone. Okay, this one makes sense, especially in the Alaskan wilderness. But then why on earth do you build a cottage on the edge of town with an unreliable snow car (a BMW, for heaven’s sake) and then whine when you can’t get home? She can’t connect well with others in the town/the asylum. Again, okay – she’s had some traumatic experiences. But she whimpers (there’s really no other word for it) whenever someone looks at her funny. When she does grow a backbone and stand up for herself, it’s so out of character that the whole story seemed off.

The reason the character development was so sorely lacking lay at the door of one key element: the dialogue. It was forced, awkward, and kept pulling me out of the story. I was keenly aware I was reading words on a page, not enveloped in a world of snow, sexy troopers, and murderous psychopaths.

Amaork had the most promise but he too suffered from Her Darkest Nightmare‘s stilted dialogue. I wanted MORE, more PASSION, more FIRE, more THRILL. And ended up turning this book back into the library early.

Novak’s latest just didn’t measure up for me. Maybe I’ll stick to her contemporary romances.

2 Stars

Posted March 27, 2017 by Ellen in reviews / 0 Comments
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January 24, 2014

Review: Witness in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Witness in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: July 2004 {originally published 2000}
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Series: In Death {Book 10}
Source & Format: Library; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When a celebrity is killed right before her eyes, New York detective Eve Dallas takes a new place in crime – as both officer and witness to murder…

Opening night at New York’s New Globe Theater turns from stage scene to crime scene when the leading man is stabbed to death center stage. Now Eve Dallas has a high-profile, celebrity homicide on her hands. Not only is she lead detective, she’s also a witness – and when the press discovers that her husband owns the theater, there’s more media spotlight than either can handle. The only way out is to move fast. Question everyone and everything…and in the meantime, try to tell the difference between the truth – and really good acting.

Death in the theater. Is there anything more dramatic?


Each installment of In Death brings in such an amazing cast of characters that I’m constantly astounded. In Witness in Death, Robb’s heroine Lieutenant Eve Dallas is among the primary witnesses to a murder, live on the stage of Roarke’s newest acquisition, a theater. The interactions with these characters reminded me of that old TV show, Columbo. Eve meets the entire cast – victim, innocents, not-so-innocents, and murderer alike – in the beginning of the novel, giving Robb plenty of time to create vast backgrounds for each of the new characters. I personally enjoyed Carly, the young wanna-be diva of the group, the most. She had such a range of emotions and personas that I wasn’t ever quite sure if she was acting or being herself.

The familiar cast – Eve, Roarke, Peabody – are slowly progressing as characters. Since I jump around in the series, I had forgotten that Peabody was still green at police work at the beginning of the series. Watching her grow steadily into the character she becomes was fascinating. 

Eve and Roake’s relationship doesn’t go through any major changes in this novel, which is fine by me. I enjoy having characters that are in a healthy, dependable and loving relationship that experiences the everyday bumps and bruises. Too many books have shattered and broken characters in relationships that hurt them even more. Eve and Roarke aren’t entirely healed from their own pasts, but they depend on each other’s support to make it through.


The plot, always a highlight of Robb’s work, was fascinating. Robb’s homage to Agatha Christie‘s Witness to the Prosecution lives up to Dame Christie’s standards. The cast of actors that make up Eve’s witness/suspects list have such in-depth backgrounds and hatred of the man murdered before their eyes during a performance that it’s impossible to know which way to point the finger.

In comparison to the other novels in the series, Witness in Death plays on gut feelings and suspects’ motives more than police procedures and sticking to the book. Although I enjoy reading about how the police methods are used to catch a criminal, watching Eve’s intuition and observation of the suspects kept the tension high. 


Right off the bat, the tension was through the roof. I had to know who did it, why, which of the characters that hated the victim (there were many) actually committed the crime. Eve’s perspective on this particular case kept the tension going since I could see her enter world had focused on it. Her need to find the killer became mine


Loved. Loved, loved, loved. Definitely a reread for me when I get the time. The characters were so engrossing, the plot so twisted (especially at the end) that it was impossible to put down. 

Posted January 24, 2014 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 26, 2013

Review: Purity in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Purity in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: January 2005
Publisher: Piatkus Books

Series: In Death {Book 15}
Source & Format: Library; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Louie Cogburn had spent three days holed up in his apartment, staring at his computer screen. His pounding headache was unbearable – it felt like spikes drilling into his brain. And it was getting worse. Finally, when someone knocked at his door, Louie picked up a baseball bat, opened up the door, and started swinging….

The first cop on the scence fired his stunner twice. Louie died instantly. Detective Eve Dallas has taken over the investigation, but there’s nothing to explain the man’s sudden rage or death. The only clue is a bizarre message left on his computer screen: ABSOLUTE PURITY ACHEIVED
And when a second man dies under near-identical circumstances, Eve starts racking her brain for answers and the courage to face the impossible…that this might be a computer virus able to spread from machine to man.

Reading one of the In Death installments is kind of like a guilty pleasure for me. I love returning to Eve’s world and seeing what grisly murder she’s got to contend with this time. The series keeps pulling me back because even though Robb follows a pretty standard plot line – for the most part – I really enjoy how she constantly develops the characters and the series’s main storylines. Purity in Death was no exception!


 Instead of the traditional villain/serial killer that Eve typically faces, she must contend with strange and sudden deaths due to a computer virus. This is no virus that we’ve ever seen before in Eve’s world, and to suddenly face such a strange and unknown enemy puts Eve on a roller coaster. The message of ABSOLUTE PURITY ACHIEVED is Eve’s biggest, and for the moment, only, clue to the villains she must track down. I loved the unusual villains and their method to the madness. Those seeking Purity represented the other side of the extreme, almost what happens when so much passion for good goes wrong. 

Eve and Roarke face an interesting stumbling block in their relationship: suddenly Eve, who stands for all dead, must find the killers of people who took advantage of others in the most horrible way possible. Roarke, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that these deaths left society bereft. It’s different from their typical tangles; instead, it focuses on their core philosophy, something they typically agree on, an interesting twist to the novel’s characters. 


I feel that, more than ever, this plot strikes at the heart of a societal issue in today’s world. How do we deal with people who are blatantly bucking the judicial system and walking away scot-free? How far is too far? Robb represents the judicial system trying to make a difference but also those individuals who want to take matters into their own hands. Although Purity in Death is heavy on police procedures more than a urgent manhunt,I feel that the question she presents to society is the more intriguing one.


The writing is smooth as ever; slipping into Eve’s world is like turning on the TV to watch a movie. I’m always instantly engrossed by the sights and sounds of the future New York. 


I loved Purity in Death, but for a different reason than the other books in this series. Purity made me think instead of being simply an escape. Eve is always such a walking contradiction that it is impossible to not adore her (although I feel she would hate the word ‘adore’).

Posted December 26, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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December 7, 2013

Review: Imitation in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Imitation in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: 2003
Publisher: Piatkus, London

Series: In Death {Book 17}
Source & Format: Library; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Summer, 2059. A man wearing a cape and a top hat approaches a prostitute on a dark, New York City street. Minutes later, the woman is dead. Left at the scene is a letter addressed to Lieutenant Eve Dallas, inviting her to play his game and unveil his identity. He signs it, “Jack.” Now Dallas is in pursuit of a murderer who knows as much about the history of serial killers as she does. He has studied the most notorious and the most vicious slayings in modern times. But he also wants to make his own mark. He has chosen his victim: Eve Dallas. And all Eve knows is that he plans to mimic the most infamous murderers of all, starting with Jack the Ripper… 

If I could stay home from work today and veg out, this is the book I would be rereading from this past week. I’ve always loved Robb’s In Death series, but Imitation in Death took it to a whole new level.

Although this book still fits within the cookie cutter plot of the rest of the series, I loved what Robb did with the plot. Eve’s killers are normally serial killers, but to have an adversary that was so intentionally following the footsteps of those before him threw Eve for a loop. It was a new challenge for her, one that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

Imitation in Death focused more on the police procedures and the suspect list than some of the other installments, which I actually quite enjoyed. I loved being along for the ride while Eve whittled down her exclusive list of candidates, and discovered quite a few little dirty secrets her suspects were holding dear along the way. There’s also something to be said about not knowing whatsoever who the killer is until the very last page, but knowing it could be one of those on her list that she was keeping tabs on. 

Outside of the murder plot, Imitation in Death definitely delivered when it came to the recurring cast of characters. Peabody’s stressful struggle to study for her detective’s exam took me right back to finals (thank goodness those are over…) and watching Roarke attempt to light a barbecue made me laugh aloud. 

Final Thoughts: All in all, an excellent read. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and I will be picking it up again! 

Posted December 7, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 17, 2013

Review: Reunion in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Reunion in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: March 2002
Publisher: Berkley Books
Series: In Death {Book 14} 
Source & Format: Bought; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A birthday bash sets the scene for a frightening reunion with a killer from Eve Dallas s past…

At exactly 7:30 p.m., Walter Pettibone arrived home to over a hundred friends and family shouting, surprise! It was his birthday. Although he had known about the planned event for weeks, the real surprise was yet to come. At 8:45 p.m., a woman with emerald eyes and red hair handed him a glass of champagne. One sip of birthday bubbly, and he was dead.

The woman’s name is Julie Dockport. No one at the party knew who she was. But Detective Eve Dallas remembers her all too well. Eve was personally responsible for her incarceration nearly ten years ago. And now, let out on good behaviour, she still has nothing but bad intentions. It appears she wants to meet Dallas again – in a reunion neither will forget…

Beware of spoilers…

This installment of the In Death series includes two of my favorite things when it comes to series: major development of the main characters and a new character who completely bucks the plot. 

Development of the main cast of characters is a strong draw for me because if I’m going to read the entire series, I’ve got to care about these people. In Reunion in Death, Eve is finally getting adjusted to the idea of marriage, despite her first wedding anniversary quickly approaching. She and Roarke have a good life together, but I don’t think Eve has yet quite learned how to trust another completely. Every day, in little ways, she has to learn to give a little. This installment includes a trip to Dallas, Texas, a place Eve would rather leave in the haunting memories of her mind. This trip, a hunt for a clue to her killer, brings out the worst of Eve’s childhood memories, and she is forced to deal with them. In dealing with them, she has to let Roarke in, just a little more. It’s extraordinary to watch their growth, both together and separately, throughout the series. It is one of the biggest reasons I keep returning to this series.

I loved the black widow-esqe killer in this installment. It was a little twist on the typical black widow we’re all familiar with – instead of Julianna killing only her husbands/exes, she widens her hunt to include men, especially those who have married deep into the younger generation. This vindictiveness spoke of a character made of pure evil. When the narration switches into Julianna’s head and we see glimpses of how her mind works, it is impossible to ignore the pure evil. This clever killer is one of Eve’s smartest quarries. Their battle of the wills is something that is yet unmatched in the series (out of what I have read), and kept me turning the pages. There was something just so mysterious about a woman who had evil on the mind and nothing to lose. 

Final Thoughts: Get it. Read it. It was that good. 

Posted November 17, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 16, 2013

Review: Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Title: Stranded
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publication Date: September 2013
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Series: Alaskan Courage {Book 3}
Source & Format: Netgalley; ebook
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn’t lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances. 

Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

There are some books that make me feel like my life is pretty cool, and maybe I can be like that amazing character one day. Then there’s books like Stranded by Dani Pettrey that make me want to drop everything, buy a ticket to Alaska and go on an adventure!

While I’ll admit that probably isn’t the best idea in the grand scheme of things, it was hard to not rush off after finishing this novel and find some adventure of my own. Romantic suspense has been my flavor of the week (okay, more like month), and Pettrey’s third installment of the Alaskan Courage series does not disappoint. I hadn’t read the first two novels when I requested this book from NetGalley, but after a little research, I was caught up on the story. One of the most important elements of a good romantic suspense is the pacing. It all depends on how much the author tells me, when they tell me, and whether or not what they tell me actually matters to story. Pettrey has this down pat. Right from the first page, there was something grabbing my attention, forcing me to keep turning, keep reading. I LOVE THAT!

The setting of the cruise ship in Alaska added a lot to the story. A lot of the crew members on the ship are nomads of sorts, people without roots or ship loyalty. This specific attitude of the crew didn’t help Darcy’s search for Abby. Most of the crew just assumed she jumped ship, creating a tight spot for Darcy – either she reveal her relationship with the missing woman, or craftily create a persona that would let her search without raising too many questions. The wild setting of Alaska only heightened the tensions. Alaska is still a world very much belonging to the powerful Mother Nature. The Alaskan scenery is the perfect setting for this high tension story.

I have to admit, I really liked Darcy. It was impossible to brush off her worry about her friend, and the fact she threw herself into many dangerous situations just to find Abby struck a chord in me. She is a strong character, and perfect to employ as one of the third person limited narrators. Although I enjoyed Gage’s character, I didn’t feel like there were a lot of surprises coming from him. He was a steady guy, doing a steady job. He is, however, the perfect foil for Darcy.

Final Thoughts: The story itself was intriguing. I believed in Darcy, in her fear. I believed in each characters’ emotions, motives, and thoughts like I was inside of their minds instead of reading words on a screen. It was fascinating story, and I look forward to going back to Pettrey’s earlier works to discover all of the adventures of the McKenna family. 

Posted November 16, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 9, 2013

Review: Seduction in Death by J.D. Robb

Title: Seduction in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Publication Date: September 2001
Publisher: Berkeley Books
Series: In Death {Book 13}
Source & Format: Library; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dante had been courting his victim in cyberspace for weeks before meeting her in person. A few sips of wine and a few hours later, she was dead. The murder weapon: a rare, usually undetectable date-rape drug with a street value of a quarter million dollars. Detective Eve Dallas is playing and replaying the clues in her mind. The candlelight, the music, the rose petals strewn across the beda seduction meant for his benefit, not hers. He hadn’t intended to kill her. But now that he had, he is left with only two choices: to either hole up in fear and guilt. Or start hunting again…

Seduction in Death fits into the usual In Death cookie-cutter plot mold, but I found myself admiring the creativity within this installment. The plot itself is somewhat unusual – although it is as gritty as one could want, I was surprised by the violence of these sexual crimes and the apparent disregard the killers had for the lives they were taking. It’s this exact nonchalance, if you will, that really grabbed my attention. The killers themselves are two young (and emotionally immature) men competing in a game of conquest…for points. 

These sexual crimes really hit a sore spot for Eve and bring up a lot of memories that she would rather avoid (and who can blame her?!). Although reading her memories and thoughts weren’t exactly fun, it was the gritty, deep, inside-the-character moment that is hard to pass up. Even though she struggled to get through these inner battles, she kept strong, and grew a little as a character. These are the type of moments that make or break a book. For me, personally, I love them. It lets me connect to her, a side that the already defensive woman hides within the deepest realms of herself. Even though these actions hurt her desperately, she battles through them, and I can’t help but love her for that. 

Peabody and McNab’s romance was a fun side plot in this story of dark crimes. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been jumping around in the series, reading random installments as I come across them (I’m not patient enough to read them in order). So I know how Peabody and McNab end up, but I had no idea how they started. These two stubborn cops have one of the cutest romances I’ve read recently. They add a lovely element of comedy to this dark story, especially the scene with McNab and Charles Monroe, a recurring character in the series. Without these little interludes, the book would be too dark. 

On the same line of recurring characters, I noticed something in this installment that had been bothering me for a while. Eve has a strange relationship with her commanding officer, Whitney, in that he kind of lets her do whatever the hell she wants, as long as she’s right in the end. In this installment, Eve gets into a bit of a match against another officer, and both are dragged in front of Whitney. Eve dresses down the other man, displaying a little bit of contempt and disrespect to both the officer and Whitney. And Whitney lets it go. Is this realistic? Or is it just me? It struck me as a little strange; wouldn’t stories go out detailing how Eve has the commander in her pocket? I don’t know. Maybe I’m thinking too hard. 

The criminals themselves were fascinating from a psychological standpoint. I was fascinated by their mindset. How does Robb think of these things, honestly? Although one undoubtedly considers himself the alpha of the two, they both have this strange sense of entitlement and lack of empathy for the crimes they’re committing. Although this isn’t unusual for a criminal in an In Death novel, it made for an interesting read. I loved reading the conversations between the men and deciphering their little attitudes about life, people, and for each other. Maybe it’s me, but I detected a strange sort of intimacy between them that added the extra bit of intrigue. It felt like I never quite knew everything about them and I constantly wanted to find out more. 

Final Thoughts: This installment of the In Death series is definitely a reread in my book. It was fast-paced, intriguing, and psychologically thrilling. Although Eve is a fascinating character, it’s the plot that seals the deal for me in this case. 

Posted November 9, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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November 8, 2013

Review: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Title: Whiskey Beach
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: April 2013
Publisher: Putnam Books 
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore – and its secrets.

To summer tourists, it’s the crown jewel of the town’s stunning scenery. To the residents of Whiskey Beach, it’s landmark and legend. To Eli Landon, it’s home…

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He need sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.

While Eli’s beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has card for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say over-bearing, brand of nurturing – including Eli.

He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim – and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House’s many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach…

Passion and obsession, humor and heart flow together in a novel about two people opening themselves up to the truth – and to each other.

There’s really something to be said about the way that Roberts creates her settings. They’re magnificent. Consistently. There are only a few books of hers that haven’t made me fall in love with the settings, but Whiskey Beach wasn’t one of those. Immediately, I felt in my comfort zone with the setting: a gorgeous old mansion sitting on the Atlantic beach, and a quaint and somewhat kooky small town. Whiskey Beach felt like a true place, and one that I wanted to book a trip to immediately. Roberts makes the setting reflect the story, an element I’ve always enjoyed. When Eli first appears in front of the family house in the middle of a dark, stormy, Atlantic night, it appears looming and distant, overwhelming and intimidating him all at once. These outward physical settings only enhance Eli’s feelings, and make Roberts’s introduction of him to the reader all the more powerful. The settings kept changing with each character/plot twist: slowly, as Eli became more himself, the house became more comfortable. Abra’s cottage fit her personality perfectly, as did the family home shared by her best friend next door. It’s these little quirks that make reading a Nora Roberts book enjoyable. 

The pacing of this story didn’t settle well with me. The introductory scenes to Eli’s dark mood had a flashback, but I didn’t pick up on that until he was returned to the present. It left me feeling a little confused, a feeling I didn’t quite shake until well into the book. The mystery of his wife’s murder didn’t really catch me in its grasp until about halfway through the book. I can’t exactly put my finger on why – maybe I was still confused from the original flashback. But, for some reason, I just didn’t care about Lindsey’s murder or Eli’s trouble with the police. The murder itself didn’t really catch my notice because it seemed more like a side plot than a strong element in a romantic suspense.

I loved the combination of Eli’s and Abra’s personalities – she needed a little strong and steady while he needed a joy. I’ve read a few reviews that characterize Abra’s character as flightly and a little childish, but I admire her. This a woman who is doing exactly what she loves, where she wants, and when she wants. How many of us can say we’ve met those standards? Although Eli was a little cliche at times, it was enjoyable to watch him change from the hard, sad man in the beginning to the person he was at the end.

Final Thoughts: I would have liked a stronger mystery, more suspense, in this novel. Although I did enjoy Whiskey Beach, it didn’t quite live up to what I was expecting. The setting was engaging, the characters a little familiar, but not boring, but the lack of a strong mystery plot didn’t live up to my expectations. 

Posted November 8, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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October 28, 2013

Review: Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

Title: Blood Brothers
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: November 2007
Publisher: Jove Books
Series: Sign of Seven {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; Paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Every seven years, there comes a week in July when the locals do unspeakable things–and then don’t seem to remember them. The collective madness has mad itself know beyond the town borders and has given Hawkins Hollow the reputation of a village possessed. This modern-day legend draws reporter and author Quinn Black to Hawkins Hollow with the hope of making the eerie happening the subject of her new book. It is only February, but Caleb Hawkins, descendent of the town founders, has already seen and felt the stirrings of evil. Though he can never forget the beginning of the terror in the woods twenty-one years ago, the signs have never been this strong before. Cal will need the help of his best friends, Fox and Gage, but surprisingly he must rely on Quinn as well. She, too, can see the evil that the locals cannot, somehow connecting her to the town–and to Cal. As winter turns to spring, Cal and Quinn will shed their inhibitions, surrendering to a growing desire. The will form the cornerstone of a group of men and women bound by fate, passion, and the fight against what is to come from out of the darkness…

Roberts has this exceptional ability to build small town settings that I can’t get enough of. Truly, I love reading some of her series simply for the settings, and this novel definitely falls into that category. I loved the strong characteristics of Hawkins Hollow – it reminded a little of the Disney Halloweentown movie – a place where Halloween never quite goes out of style. Blood Brothers fit my mood perfectly this last week as the fall leaves began to change and scatter.

The entire book has this haunting atmosphere that fits the paranormal plot perfectly. Even though the main six characters in this series are the only ones who have seen the demon haunting the town, it feels like the rest of the characters in the town have an idea about what occurs every seven years, even though they can’t remember the details. This mysterious atmosphere is enhanced by the scenes in the library where Quinn is talking to the one woman who seems to be aware of the paranormal undertones in the town as much as she is. These were my favorite scenes because it allowed the novel to honor history in a way I feel isn’t done as much anymore, but I could go on for a while about that!

Although the characters themselves (the main six, I mean) are interesting, there isn’t a whole lot drawing me in about them. I enjoyed Quinn’s character, mostly because of her occasionally random asides about how much she would enjoy that cookie, then orders a bowl of oatmeal. She was the wild card out of the group, shaking up not only the town, but slow and stable Cal as well. Actually, out of all of them, I think is my favorite, because she had some vibrancy, some life. The rest of them seemed to fall a little flat on the page for me.

The paranormal element of the plot was fascinating! I actually had to sleep with the lights on one night because one scene in the book terrified me (but I am, as my boyfriend reminds me, a wimp). The paranormal was a little freaky for me because of the forms the demon would decide to take, most frequently appearing as a young boy. Typically, the demon’s power was the strongest during that certain week of every seventh year, but this time, his powers are strong early on. This tension created an amazing atmosphere that made the book hard to put down. However, I was really disappointed in the last major fight scene in the novel. It was flat, lackluster, and didn’t meet the expectations I had stemming from the rest of the book. It felt more like Roberts had chopped up a long book into smaller ones to form a series, and the conclusion of the first was lackluster and disappointing.

Final Thoughts: A fun read, especially during the fall/Halloween time. I wish that there had been a stronger conclusion to this novel then what actually happened, but I loved the setting and the vibrancy of the main heroine, Quinn. 

Posted October 28, 2013 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 0 Comments
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