Review: Kansas City Countdown by Julie Miller

kansas city countdownTitle: Kansas City Countdown

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Attorney Kenna Parker

The hero: Detective Keir Watson

The blurb: They may have battled in the courtroom, but KCPD detective Keir Watson isn’t going to let their turbulent past stop him from protecting attorney Kenna Parker. She was attacked, escaping with her life but with no memory of who wanted to end it. And the only person she dares trust is Keir.

With the clock ticking, every second grows more precious, each action more important…their feelings more intense. If Keir is going to discover Kenna’s would-be killer, he has to keep his mind on the case. But his attraction to Kenna is making this self-declared bachelor reconsider just what his idea of forever could mean.

Standalone or series: Book two in The Precinct: Bachelors in Blue series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Keir Watson was destined to be in law enforcement. His father, grandfather, oldest brother and sister are all cops and his other brother performs autopsies for the KCPD. When the book opens, he’s drowning his sorrows after having his case torn apart by a criminal attorney known as The Terminator. Kenna Parker is as cold as she is disliked and he’s annoyed at having lost the case.

When he decides to leave the bar where he’s been having a drink with his partner, he discovers a woman coming out of an alley nearby. She’s been viciously attacked and is covered in blood, and when he sees her in the light he realises it’s Kenna. She has amnesia, from being beaten around the head, and her face is covered in slash marks from a knife. He might be annoyed with her over their courtroom battle, but he’s not going to stand by and not help her.

He gets her to hospital and she’s terrified. She can’t remember who she is, where she’s been, or what’s happened to her. The only person she trusts is Keir. While at the hospital, bits and pieces about her life start to come back to her. The arrival of a partner at the law firm where she works leaves Kenna feeling uneasy, because he’s totally sleazy. Keir senses it and vows to stay with her until they can find out who attacked her and why.

Taking Kenna back to her home does little to allay her fears. The house she inherited off her parents is sterile and cold, and shows no signs of warmth. Kenna realises that the woman she was before the attack is not the woman she is now; the old Kenna was ruthless and liked to be in control of everything, and the new Kenna doesn’t like the old persona. She then finds evidence that she was being stalked before the attack and the stalker was sending her letters that formed a countdown.

Keir finds evidence that Kenna was attacked at her property and knows Kenna is being followed by a man in a hood, so he refuses to let her out of his sight. Drawn together by a man determined to kill Kenna, they have to race against the clock to find out who he is and why he wants Kenna dead before he succeeds in his plan. Kenna finds herself leaning on Keir and Keir realises he really liked the new Kenna, and inevitably they turn to each other.

The identity of the stalker is eventually revealed before he can hurt Kenna again and Kenna realises that maybe it’s time to use her skills to help different clientele. She and Keir decide their relationship is one worth pursuing. Another excellent read from Julie 🙂

Review: Major Attraction by Julie Miller

major attractionTitle: Major Attraction

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Blaze

Year of publication: 2004

The heroine: Relationship therapist/writer Josephine Cynthia Gardner

The hero: Marine Ethan McCormick

The blurb: Popular Dr. Cyn’s latest sexual advice columns are sending military men in D.C. running for cover–except Major Ethan McCormick. Cyn–real name Josephine Cynthia Gardner–is out to prove that guys in uniform don’t make good relationship material or lovers.

Ethan is unfazed by the attack on his profession. Sure, he’s a stickler for the rules, and you could bounce a dime off his neatly made bed. But he’s more than ready to muss those same bedclothes with the right woman….

Dr. Cyn’s on a mission to scout out a hot military man, seduce him and report back to headquarters. But after one sizzling night with Ethan, she’s willing to confess to a major attraction. One that’s far too real and all-invasive. But what will happen when Ethan discovers she’s an “under-the-covers” operative?

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: Another awesome book by Julie Miller! I don’t think she can write a bad one. This book was fun. Josephine Gardner, known as JC to everyone, writes a sex column called Dr Cyn. Her editor challenges her to write about relationships with military men, something JC is reluctant to touch because her father, in the Navy, cheated on her mother for years while he was on leave. She has no interest in military men at all and believes they’re not capable of long term relationships, so she takes the bet to prove her editor wrong.

Ethan McCormick is in line for a promotion, but feels he won’t get it unless he has a partner, something his boss is big on. He needs to find a fake fiancée, and quickly, or the promotion’s down the drain. After rescuing JC from being harassed by two drunk marines at a bar, he persuades her to pose as his fiancée for two weeks. JC accepts, because it means she can write her series about military men with first hand experience.

Except somewhere along the way, their relationship becomes more than just show and tell. They can’t fight their attraction, and when JC is threatened by someone who has taken exception to her comments about military men in her columns, Ethan will do whatever he has to to keep her safe. She tries to tell him she’s Dr Cyn, but he brushes it off, not realising what she’s saying. When he finally finds out, he’s understandably angry, believing he was being used all along (he admits he was using her, too, but at least he was up front about it). He’s mad for a week, until JC goes to his commanding officer to confess all, and he realises he’s in love with her. Luckily for him, she feels the same, and it turns out she was wrong about military men after all 🙂

Pulling the Trigger by Julie Miller

pulling the trigger

Title: Pulling the Trigger

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2009

The heroine: FBI agent Joanna Rhodes

The hero: Former Army Ranger/tracker Ethan Bia

The blurb: It had been more than ten years since tracker Ethan Bia had seen the woman who’d loved him and left him with no explanation. FBI agent Joanna Rhodes was as beautiful and secretive as ever, but insisted on keeping their past–and their passion–where it belonged.

Ethan knew tracking an elusive killer through the mountains was their assignment, but his need for answers was as tempting as his urge to touch Joanna. Unfortunately, resisting both was crucial to surviving this mission. A mission that would determine how long Joanna stuck around once it was over….

Standalone or series: Book six of the Kenner County Crime Unit series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I didn’t realise I had this book, so when I saw Julie Miller’s name I couldn’t resist. I liked this book, but I have to admit it wasn’t one of my favourites by her.

Joanna Rhodes is a Native American woman who left the reservation she grew up on after her alcoholic parents were killed in a car crash and she was raped by a family friend, who was never brought to justice because his uncle was the sheriff at the time.

She was in love with Ethan Bia, but his guilt at not being able to protect Joanna and her desperation to get away from the life she lived drove her off the reservation and eventually to DC, where she became an FBI agent. When she is asked to go back and interview a suspect helping a crime family based in Vegas and Joanna realises it’s her rapist, she agrees in the hope of getting closure from confronting him.

She isn’t prepared to encounter Ethan again, and the love that burned between them never really went away. It doesn’t take long before she’s in his arms again, even though her independence is something she clings desperately to. When the suspect she’s chasing flees after being tipped off by an insider in the sheriff’s department, Ethan and Joanna give chase. They eventually get their man – and each other.

You never do find out who the mole is, nor what happened to the FBI agent who disappeared halfway through the book, but I imagine that’s resolved in a later book.

I adored Ethan. He was patient, gentle, and strong when he needed to be. He didn’t rush Joanna, let her take the lead. I found Joanna harder to read, for reasons I can’t figure out. I’m not sure what it was about her, but something just didn’t work for me. Having said that, it was still a good book that I whipped through.

 

Review: Takedown by Julie Miller

takedownTitle: Takedown

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2010

The heroine: Physical therapist Jillian Masterson

The hero: SWAT team leader Michael Cutler

The blurb: SWAT Captain Michael Cutler’s pulse was racing. He should have been thinking about the intense hostage crisis he’d just diffused. But he couldn’t keep his mind off her–Jillian Masterson, the leggy brunette who had come to him for protection from an obsessive stalker. He certainly hadn’t been looking for love, especially with someone fifteen years his junior.

But their chemistry was undeniable. As the stalker’s threats intensified, Michael knew he’d go to any lengths to bring him down. Even if that entailed giving Jillian some very personal security….

Standalone or series: Part of The Precinct series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I needed a palate cleanser after the last two books I read, so I picked up one of the Julie Miller books I had on hand because I knew I’d enjoy it – and of course, I did.

Jillian Masterson has a chequered past. After losing her parents in a plane crash at sixteen, she turned to drugs and men who were not good for her to cope. However, she decided to get clean after nearly being raped, and she’s been sober for eleven years when the book starts. She’s a physical therapist and one of her patients is teenager Mike Cutler, Jr, who lost the use of his legs after being in a car accident that killed his friend.

Mike’s father, Michael, is a SWAT captain. He lost his wife to cancer two years previously, and he’s been busy trying to grieve and deal with the guilt of not being able to save her. At forty-four, he doesn’t think twenty-eight year old Jillian would look twice at him (I’m being picky, but it’s mentioned several times that he’s fifteen years older than her throughout the book, but he’s actually sixteen). However, Jillian is very much attracted to him but doesn’t think he’d give her a second glance because of their age difference.

Jillian is being stalked by someone who knows her very well and looks to be following her. When Michael finds out, she reluctantly accepts his help in finding out who this creep is. What was done nicely was the romance. Yes, they have a big age gap and yes, it gave them both pause, but I like that Ms Miller didn’t drag it out and have them flip flop back and forth. Michael had not been in relationship since his wife died and Jillian was too busy with her sobriety and getting her degree to think about a relationship she was not emotionally ready for, so it was nice to see them both be willing to give it a chance. Jillian is surrounded by law enforcement – her brother is a former cop turned DA investigator, his wife is the police commissioner (and she’s also ten years old than him, so I must dig out their book which I think I have and read it), her sister is a medical examiner and her husband is also a cop. They all work together to try and figure out who is stalking Jillian.

I pretty much guessed who the stalker was from the beginning, because it’s always someone you least suspect, although I did vacillate between two people as the author threw in a second possible suspect. I’m so glad Michael and Jillian worked through their issues to get their happily ever after. If you haven’t read any books by Julie Miller, you should.

Oh, and the cover? I find it odd that the hero is blonde, because Michael has coal black hair (with a bit of silver), and that’s mentioned several times.

 

 

 

Intimate Knowledge by Julie Miller

intimate knowledgeTitle: Intimate Knowledge

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Blaze

Year of publication: 2002

The heroine: FBI agent Grace Lockhart

The hero: FBI agent Logan Pierce

The blurb: Grace Lockhart: Behind-the-scenes FBI agent. Shy, naive…and a sex kitten waiting to happen.

Logan Pierce: FBI field agent and the best of the best. Confident, cocky…and incapable of saying no to a beautiful woman.

The case: Agent Grace Lockhart has spent months developing a computer program that will put the city’s biggest crime lord behind bars. And now that it’s ready, all the FBI needs is somebody to smuggle it in to Harrison Mitchell’s estate. Only, because Mitchell is notorious for surrounding himself with a harem of beauties, that somebody has to be a woman….

Grace Lockhart wants to be that woman, but she’s anything but a femme fatale. But not for long. Because she’s heard that her new partner, sexy superagent Logan Pierce, is an expert at “hands-on” training….

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: When I found this Blaze book by Julie Miller, I moved it to the top of my to-read pile… and it didn’t disappoint. Logan Pierce is one of the best FBI field agents out there, so he’s pissed when his boss assigns him a new partner: Grace Lockhart, a computer expert, who’s never been in the field before. Logan is reluctant to partner up with her because the last time he had a field rookie with him, that agent was shot and killed.

Grace needs Logan’s help. She’s written a computer program that will infiltrate the records of Harris Mitchell (not Harrison, as listed in the blurb), wanted by the FBI for a slew of bad things. However, Harris is a known playboy who only surrounds himself with females, so Grace has to go undercover to install her program. Problem is, Grace doesn’t have a lot of experience with men, and she needs Logan – well known for loving the ladies – to help her become a femme fatale that Mitchell will hire.

Logan reluctantly agrees, not wanting to see Grace get hurt. He comes to realise that underneath the drab, baggy clothing, glasses, severe bun and endless note taking, Grace Lockhart has awesome curves and an even better personality. When he moves his lessons into the bedroom, she’s more than willing to learn, and the sex between them is hot. By the end of the assignment, Logan realises he can’t Grace go. Ever.

There’s an amusing sub-plot involving Grace’s mother, the delightfully named Mimsey, who is a b-grade actress in bad sci-fi movies. I’d also like to think that Grace is related to Hope and Harry Lockhart, from Julie’s Intrigue series 🙂

Military Grade Mistletoe by Julie Miller

military grade mistletoeTitle: Military Grade Mistletoe

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: English teacher Daisy Gunderson

The hero: Marine Harry Lockhart

The blurb: Not even Master Sergeant Harry Lockhart’s military expertise could stop the bomb that killed his team and left him injured. Only the kind letters from Daisy Gunderson —a pen pal he’d never met— helped him survive.

But Daisy in the flesh is the surly Marine’s polar opposite. She’s outgoing, talkative and putting his military training on high alert. A stalker named Secret Santa is targeting the kindhearted teacher…and the pranks are growing deadly. In Daisy, Harry’s finally found the safe haven he needs. And he’ll be damned if anyone is going to take her from him.

Standalone or series: It’s listed as a standalone on Julie’s website, but it’s part of The Precinct series.

The review: I always know I’m going to enjoy a Julie Miller book, and unsurprisingly I loved this one. I didn’t catch on until I started reading that our hero, Harry, is the younger brother of Hope Lockhart from Task Force Bride, so it’s best to have read Hope’s book first, but not essential.

I adored Harry and Daisy. Poor Harry is suffering from PTSD after losing his team and his beloved dog in battle. Harry is left scarred from the incident, and is given mandatory time off to recover from the mental and emotional scars he’s still sporting.

Daisy, who knows Hope, started writing to Harry, and in his mind he had a picture of her as a calm, serene lady whom he secretly called his angel. When he meets her in person, though, she’s nothing like that: she’s a talkative whirlwind with purple streaks in her hair. She loves to hug people, and he finds the wall he’s built around himself – and his heart – starting to thaw.

I loved that Daisy took charge in their relationship – she kissed him first, she took the lead the first time they had sex – which Harry needed, because he found himself unable to believe she’d want to be with him because of his appearance and his PTSD that affected his daily life. Daisy is sweet and a little bit sassy, and completely unaware of how attractive she is to men; not only does she have a crazy stalker, who turns out to be completely insane, but one of her students also fancies himself in love with her.

Harry works on getting through his PTSD because he wants to be the man he thinks Daisy deserves. She already loves him for who he is, but gives him the space to do the healing he so desperately needs. I do love that Harry was the one to express his love first. I also loved seeing Hope and Pike pop up every now and then; this book takes place a few years after their one, and they have a toddler son and another baby on the way.

If you haven’t read Julie Miller’s books, you’re missing a treat.

Task Force Bride by Julie Miller

task force brideTitle: Task Force Bride

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2013

The heroine: Wedding planner and shop owner Hope Lockhart

The hero: Cop Edison Pike Taylor

The blurb: Something about Hope Lockhart fascinated Officer Pike Taylor. The cop and his canine companion had been patrolling the neighbourhood around Hope’s bridal shop for months, trying to capture the criminal who targeted her. Was it the way she hid her voluptuous beauty beneath a plain Jane exterior?

Hope bore the scars of a troubling past. And despite a profession steeped in romance, she’d never known the love of a man. But when Pike is assigned to protect her by posing as her live-in fiance, his tenderness may give Hope the courage to open her heart for the very first time.

Standalone or series: Part of The Precinct: Task Force series, but can be read as a standalone. However, you should read this miniseries in order, because there are spoilers.

The review: Julie Miller is one of my favourite M&B authors. I know that when I pick up one of her books, I’m going to enjoy it… and this book was no exception. Hope Lockhart owns a bridal boutique and works as a wedding planner, which is an ironic choice of career for her because she doesn’t plan on ever getting married. She doesn’t plan on getting close to a man, ever. Her douchebag father, Hank, raised her in such a horrific environment after the death of her mother at age two that Hope trusts nobody. Her scars are not only physical, but also emotional.

Pike Taylor has known Hope for a year from patrolling the area where she lives and works. There is a serial rapist loose, dubbed the Rose Red Rapist. When Hope happens to see him one day, she’s thrust into the investigation and used as bait to draw this asshat out. He’s raped and murdered too many women already, and although she’s terrified of being around Pike and his K9 partner, Hans, she refuses to allow any more women to get hurt.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Hope, having gone through what she did. Hank the douchebag turns up suddenly, demanding she pay him to do odd jobs around the shop, and when she refuses… he agrees to distract the police for the rapist so that he can snatch Hope. Yep, Hank’s going for father of the year. Ugh.

While it’s easy to pity Hope, you can’t help but applaud her tenacity and strength to overcome the terror she feels and help the police. Pike helps her slowly come out of her shell – Hope has never been in a relationship before and has never had sex because of her enormous trust issues, which you can’t blame her for once you find out about her childhood – and agrees to pose as her fiancé to keep her safe. Turns out that’s a role he wants for real, and luckily Hope falls in love with him, too.

The identity of the rapist was spoilt for me because as I started reading, I realised I’ve already read the book that comes directly after this one, Yuletide Protector, which had already identified the rapist. It didn’t detract from the book at all, though. Go, read this miniseries. Read any Julie Miller book. You won’t be sorry.