Review: Do-Or-Die Bridesmaid by Julie Miller

do or die bridesmaidTitle: Do-Or-Die Bridesmaid

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2019

The heroine: Laura Karr

The hero: Detective Conor Wildman

The blurb: Always the bridesmaid, never a killer’s target…until now.Back in his hometown for a wedding, Detective Conor Wildman reunites with his ex-girlfriend’s sister, Laura Karr, once the tomboy next door. Now Laura is a beautiful woman…and someone wants her dead. Conor is the man to protect her and catch the killer, but will one heated kiss jeopardize their precious friendship? Or will it prove that he can trust her with his wounded heart?

Standalone or series: Standalone, but set in the same universe as several other books about the Kansas City Police Department.

The review: This book has been in my TBR pile since it came out and I’m so glad I finally got a chance to read it, because it was fabulous.

Detective Conor Wildman proposed to his girlfriend, Lisa, but she turned him down and ended up with his best friend. When they invite him back to Arlington for their wedding and beg him to come, he decides to go to appease them and prove he’s gotten over being dumped by Lisa. At the wedding he sees Lisa’s youngest sister, Laura, whom he affectionately calls Squirt… but Laura is no longer a child. She’s grown up, with beauty and curves and a smile that makes his heart beat faster.

When Laura gets a call from her friend and neighbour, she fears the worst – and when she goes to Chloe’s apartment with Conor and they find her dead, Laura is determined to find out who killed Chloe and why. Conor won’t let Laura do it alone, and they soon find themselves drawn into a mystery that could get them both killed. Along the way, Conor realises that maybe he was with the wrong sister after all… maybe he was just waiting for Laura to grow up. Laura’s quicker on the draw – she’s loved Conor for years, but Conor doesn’t believe himself worthy of a forever love. Can Laura convince him to change his mind, or will time run out for both of them before they can explore the bond between them?

With a hero you can’t help but adore, a wonderful heroine who is smart and determined to get her man and get justice for her friend, and a race against time to bring the perpetrators to justice before they pay for it with their lives, this book is everything you want in a romantic suspense story.

Review: Rules in Rescue by Nichole Severn

rules in rescueTitle: Rules in Rescue

Author: Nichole Severn

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Military police officer Glennon Chase

The hero: Ex-Army Ranger/Blackhawk Security weapons expert Anthony Harris

The blurb: Blackhawk Security weapons expert Anthony Harris has trained for any contingency… except the return of his ex-fiancée. Glennon Chase walked out on the former ranger five years ago. And now the CID special agent needs Anthony’s help with a deadly investigation into her partner’s disappearance. Dodging bullets he can handle, but pairing up with his ex is flat-out dangerous. Especially when Anthony discovers that the secret Glennon is keeping could get them both killed.

Standalone or series: This is book two in the Blackhawk Security series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I loved the first book in the Blackhawk Security series and it was one of my top twenty-five reads last year. I knew the moment I finished book two that I already have a book for this year’s list! This book ticked every single one of my boxes: a hero I can fall in love with; a heroine who can stand her own; enough action to keep you guessing at every turn; and two people who find their way (back) to each other.

Anthony Harris was once engaged to Glennon Chase, but she walked out on him five years previously while he was away on a mission. He’s devoted himself to his job, but the failure of his relationship has always stayed with him. When Glennon calls him in the dead of night and says she needs his help, he should just hang up on her… but he doesn’t. Glennon is in the military police and her partner has gone missing, and she’s sure it’s to do with the case they were working on.

When a sniper tries to take Glennon out right in front of Anthony, he knows he can’t turn away from her. And so begins a thrilling game of cat and mouse, as they dig deeper to find out what her partner, Bennett Spencer, found out that put him in danger. Their investigation sees them with each other 24/7, and all the feelings they have buried deep down come crashing back up to the surface… but will they live long enough to take a chance on each other again? What they uncover in their investigation puts them both – and Glennon’s young son – in mortal danger. Can Anthony keep the woman he still loves safe? Does Glennon still love him enough to take another chance on him? Make sure you don’t miss this book because you’ll want to find out! This book is a five star read and one of the best Intrigues I’ve ever read, full stop.

Review: The Negotiation by Tyler Anne Snell

the negotationTitle: The Negotiation

Author: Tyler Anne Snell

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: School teacher Rachel Roberts

The hero: Police Captain Dane Jones

The blurb: She’s fighting for her life. He’ll risk everything to keep her safe.

When Rachel Roberts is nearly abducted, she makes a panicked call to the one man she can trust. Lawman Dane Jones will do anything to protect his best friend’s widow. Plagued by the guilt he bears over the man’s tragic death and his undeclared love for Rachel, Dane must confront his past in order to stop a madman. Their lives—and their futures—depend on it.

Standalone or series: This is the sixth and final book in the Protectors of Riker County series, but it can be read as a standalone.

The review: Seven years ago, a truck full of prisoners being transported were taken hostage, along with two prison guards. One of those guards was David Roberts, beloved husband of Rachel and best friend of Dane. Dane tried desperately to implement a plan to get David out safely, but the hostage situation came to a tragic end.

Rachel Roberts not only lost her husband that day, but also a good friend in Dane. She never blamed Dane or his colleagues at the Sheriff’s office for what happened, but Dane was so wracked by guilt at losing his best friend that he withdrew from Rachel’s life. Seven years on, they’re virtual strangers, something that saddens them both.

Rachel is suddenly thrown back into Dane’s life when she and one of her students, Lonnie, are almost kidnapped at the school while Lonnie is serving detention. Rachel calls the only man she trusts to help her – Dane – and he comes to her rescue without hesitation or question. Rachel’s smart decision to make the kidnappers think she and Lonnie have escaped outside the building they were chased into while they actually hide means that they’re safe when Dane arrives at the school, but it’s only the start. Someone wants Lonnie and Rachel, and Dane has to find out why before they’re taken.

When Dane is directly threatened by the group who killed the hostages seven years previously he, Rachel and Lonnie are all taken to safe houses. While Dane and Rachel are holed up together, Rachel finally asks the question she’s wanted the answer to for so long: why did Dane leave her? And she finally gets her answer… yes, he felt guilt. But he’s also hiding a secret, and once he finally tells Rachel the whole truth, she knows it’s not just friendship she feels for him.

The kidnappers make several attempts and finally succeed in snatching Rachel, but Dane is not going to lose the woman he loves again, so he’s prepared to do anything to get her back. Eventually, Dane and Rachel come face to face with the criminal who stole the man they loved from them and they learn why Lonnie and Rachel were targeted. Once the battle is over, they’re ready to face a life together.

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to hug a hero as much and so often as I did Dane, although I also wanted to tell him he was an idiot for keeping his secret for so long! Rachel was a great heroine, using her brain and showing tremendous courage to keep Dane and Lonnie safe. Although her life was marred by sadness, she was willing to give love another chance, and it was wonderful to see it pay off. Another great read from this author 😀

 

 

 

Review: In The Lawman’s Protection by Janie Crouch

in the lawmans protectionTitle: In The Lawman’s Protection

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Artist Natalie Anderson Freihof

The hero: Omega Sector agent Ren McClement

The blurb: An agent will do anything to take down a terrorist. Even if that means using a woman as his weapon.

To locate a terrorist, Ren McClement must find the criminal’s “dead” wife Natalie. His plan: use the innocent beauty as bait. But when his duplicity leads them into grave danger, Ren reveals his secret to Natalie…and his passion for her. Will furious Natalie be able to forgive his lie? And will they get to the mastermind before he unleashes mass destruction?

Standalone or series: This is the sixth and final book in the Omega Sector: Under Siege series, and the sixteenth and final book in the whole Omega Sector series. They can all be read as standalones.

The review: In the Lawman’s Protection is the sixteenth and final book in the richly written and enticing Omega Sector saga, and while I’m excited to read Janie’s forthcoming books, I’m sad this series is over.

Damien Freihof, the sociopath who has been hellbent on taking down the Omega team for what he perceived to be their part in the death of his wife, Natalie, is continuing on with his mission to destroy the team and their loved ones. After finding out by accident that Natalie Anderson Freihof is still alive, Ren McClement, the man responsible for the Omega Sector’s formation, is determined to finally stop this criminal once and for all. He’s firmly convinced that Natalie is aiding and abetting her ex, so when they track her down in California, Ren handles it personally. He’s going to do whatever it takes to get Natalie to help them stop Freihof and finally capture him.

After following her for days, the Omega team makes their move and sends Natalie running right into their arms. After befriending her on a train, Ren and the team go to extreme lengths to arrange it so that he and Natalie are ‘trapped’ in a cabin in the woods. Ren is prepared to do whatever he has to do to convince Natalie to give up Freihof’s location, but after arriving at the cabin and spending time with her, Ren realises something he’d never really considered – Natalie is a victim of Freihof’s, too, and she’s been on the run for six long years.

Ren is drawn to Natalie in ways he never imagined he would be – his world is dark and full of evil, and Natalie represents the good and the light. He doesn’t want to involve her in his shadowy world, but she lived there for years during her marriage to Freihof, a controlling and sadistic man who abused her physically, mentally and emotionally. Natalie is a survivor, and her spirit shines… and Ren finds himself unable to resist her.

He’s on a deadline to bring Natalie in and gain her co-operation, but a run in with a mountain lion throws everything off and he’s not able to tell Natalie who he really is before time is up. Once she finds out, she’s understandably withdrawn, but determined to stop her ex at all costs – even if it means risking her own life.

Freihof’s final act of terror towards Natalie is both horrific and a testament to the strength of a woman who refuses to give in to evil. It will make your heart skip a terrified beat or two, but the bad guy FINALLY gets what he deserves and true love conquers all, which is exactly how I love my romance books to end. A triumphant conclusion to what has been a stunning series.

 

 

 

Review: The Deputy’s Baby by Tyler Anne Snell

the deputy's babTitle: The Deputy’s Baby

Author: Tyler Anne Snell

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2018. The author kindly provided me with a copy to read and review

The heroine: Police dispatcher Cassie Gates

The hero: Deputy Henry Ward

The blurb: As the newest deputy in town, Henry Ward is hoping to escape painful memories. Then a rain of bullets brings his history rising up again, throwing Cassie Gates directly into his path. He hasn’t forgotten their night together, seven months ago. And now that he’s seen her–pregnant with his child–Henry knows he’s fighting more than his past. He’s fighting for his future.

Standalone or series: Book five of the Protectors of Riker County series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: There have been some incredibly good books coming out in the Intrigue line as of late, and this is one of them. In the prologue, Henry Ward is at a bar the night before a job interview when he helps Cassie Gates out of an awkward situation. Their attraction is instant and white-hot, and they end up spending the night together, not something either of them would usually do.

Seven months later, Henry has taken up a new job as a deputy. Life has been hard as of late; he lost his partner and the man he considered his best friend and brother in an undercover operation a year ago. He’s moved interstate to start anew, and the beautiful blonde he spent the best night of his life with is never far from his thoughts. She gave him her number, but due to circumstances he never got around to calling her, even thought he desperately wanted to.

He’s settling in to the new job when he meets the police dispatcher who’s been on leave… and it’s none other than the woman who has been haunting him for the last seven months. As if being face to face with Cassie again isn’t surprising enough, it’s not long before he realises she’s pregnant. With his son.

Before Henry and Cassie can even begin to bridge the gap the last seven months has put between them, the entire police department is put under siege. Someone has a vendetta not only against Henry, but the entire department. Every time Henry and Cassie try to take a moment to talk, something else happens! The action doesn’t let up in this book for a moment, and it will keep you awake long into the night because you’ll have to keep turning the pages.

What made this book such a delicious read was the rich layers the author created. I wanted to know about the magical night Henry and Cassie spent together when their son was conceived. I wanted to know how the major twist played out and why the villain was doing it. I wanted to know more about Henry, such a charming and likeable hero. I wanted to know more about Cassie, a gutsy heroine who didn’t back down from a fight and was prepared to give as good as she got to protect her loved ones, especially her child and his father. I wanted to know more about the supporting characters, especially the sheriff and his chief deputy (Billy, whose book is Small-Town Face-Off and Suzy, whose book is Loving Baby – both of which I have, but haven’t read yet). In between the non-stop action was a beautifully nuanced romance, so nicely done and so wonderfully textured. You could feel the magnetic pull between Henry and Cassie as though you were actually watching it play out in front of your eyes, and that’s something that doesn’t often happen.

This is definitely one of the best romance books I have read, period. Don’t miss it. And let’s take a moment to stare at that gorgeous cover, shall we? One of the best Intrigues, hands down 😀

Review: Rules in Blackmail by Nichole Severn

rules in blackmail coverTitle: Rules in Blackmail

Author: Nichole Severn

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Captain Jane Reise, JAG Corps prosecutor

The hero: Security firm owner/former SEAL Sullivan Bishop

The blurb: Blackhawk Security Elite Protection Services – their business is your safety. But not hers. Former SEAL Sullivan Bishop refuses to work for Jane Reise. The JAG Corps prosecutor is hard core – and he never stopped blaming her for his brother’s death. But Blackhawk is Jane’s only hope in fending off a frightening stalker, and she’ll blackmail Sullivan to get it. Forced into her service, he soon realises he was wrong about Jane. As bullets fly, Sullivan knows he’ll risk his life – and heart – to save her.

Standalone or series: Book one of the Blackhawk Security series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I really enjoyed this book. Sullivan Bishop hates Jane Reise; he holds her responsible for the suicide of his brother because Jane prosecuted him years ago. When she shows up at his supposedly impenetrable office one night, asking for his help to find the man who’s been stalking her, Sullivan refuses. In desperation, Jane blackmails him because she knows a secret about Sullivan that could put him in prison and lose him his business.

Faced with no choice, Sullivan calls his team in. They soon find that Jane is being targeted by a particularly vicious individual who wants Jane dead and won’t stop until she isn’t breathing anymore. Jane realises she’s made a mistake by dragging Sullivan and his team into it and tries to cut him loose, but by then he’s too involved and determined to keep his word – he promised he’d protect her, and he will.

The action doesn’t stop in this book! Sullivan’s determination to keep Jane alive is only matched by the stalker’s determination to kill her, and what begins is a deadly battle with each side determined to emerge victor. After four long, action and tension filled days, Sullivan and Jane give in to the attraction that has burned between them since she showed up at his office. Normally, I would be a little hesitant to buy the short time frame, but given everything Sullivan and Jane went through it worked fine. And just when you think you’ve worked it all out, you know who’s behind the bounty on Jane, you’ll find out you were wrong.

I liked both Jane and Sullivan; they were both strong willed and kick ass characters. The only thing that bugged me was something Jane did to Sullivan towards the end of the book. I can sort of buy why she did it, and what her rationale was behind it, but I think I’d have a much harder time forgiving her for it than Sullivan did because it was a really horrible thing to do. She clearly didn’t think of the consequences of her actions, and it could have been a whole lot worse than it ended up.

I also want to know, Nichole… how *did* Jane get into Sullivan’s office?

Review: Armed Response by Janie Crouch

armed responseTitle: Armed Response

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: SWAT team member Lillian Muir

The hero: Special Forces soldier/SWAT team member Jace Eakin

The blurb: Is the woman he once loved the traitor they’re searching for?

Former Special Forces soldier Jace Eakin must find the mole inside Omega who’s leaking intel to a terrorist mastermind. Despite their complicated history and the fact that she is keeping a secret, he can’t believe it’s SWAT team leader Lillian Muir. As they give in to long-denied passion, Jace vows to protect Lillian with his life. But he’s been wrong about her before…

Standalone or series: This is the penultimate in the Omega Sector: Under Siege series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: This book is everything you want in a romantic suspense book. It has amazing characters you’ll fall in love with, a mystery that you want to solve, twists that will leave your jaw on the ground and a romance you want to succeed more than anything.

We’ve met Lillian in previous Under Siege books and she’s one of my favourite heroines. Petite but can kick any man’s ass, she’s a valued member of the team. Her gender is not seen as a weakness, but a strength. But she has secrets from her past that nobody knows about, not even her boss, Steve Drackett. Secrets that have been slowly consuming her emotionally for years.

Steve and Ren McClement call on Ren’s former colleague, Jace Eakin, to step in and help them out by becoming a temporary SWAT team member to help out with numbers. He also has a more covert job to do: try and find the mole who has been helping Damien Freihof take the Omega team out one by one. Jace and Lillian have a history – they’re former lovers. Jace knows some of Lillian’s secrets, but the most shocking one has been hidden from him for years.

Their relationship ended with misconceptions on both their parts, and now the years have passed and they’re adults they agree they can work together with no issues. That proves harder than they think, however, when the spark that once burned between them ignites once more.

It becomes clear that Freihof and his insider cohort are planning to blame Lillian for their actions, which places her in danger when they attempt to take her life. But it’s not only Lillian they’re targeting – a big conference being attended by hundreds of law enforcement officials is happening, and all clues point to this being the endgame.

Lillian, Jace and the team have a tough assignment ahead: work out the identity of the mole and stop him and Freihof from killing hundreds of innocent people, and stay alive long enough to do it. Amidst all the madness, Lillian and Jace find out what they didn’t know about each other and have to decide if they want to resurrect their relationship or leave it in the past.

I loved Lillian. Her resilience and determination not to be defined by the terrible thing that happened to her made her a wonderfully complex character. I also loved Jace. He was the perfect yin to Lillian’s yang. This book was a great read – I’d give it six stars for ticking all the boxes if I could!

Upcoming release – Rules in Blackmail by Nichole Severn

Another book coming out on July 1st that I’m excited about is Nichole Severn‘s Rules in Blackmail! Make sure you pre-order your copy now 😀

Blackhawk Security Elite Protection Services—

Their business is your safety

But not hers. Former SEAL Sullivan Bishop refuses to work for Jane Reise. The JAG Corps prosecutor is hard core—and he never stopped blaming her for his brother’s death. But Blackhawk is Jane’s only hope in fending off a frightening stalker, and she’ll blackmail Sullivan to get it. Forced into her service, he soon realizes he was wrong about Jane. As bullets fly, Sullivan knows he’ll risk his life—and heart—to save her.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2zyCJer
Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2pDxx9l
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2zyV1Mr
Harlequin: https://bit.ly/2zyp3Qn
iBooks: https://apple.co/2pDLnID
Indiebound: https://bit.ly/2DW9hCo

rules in blackmail

Review: Major Crimes by Janie Crouch

major crimesTitle: Major Crimes

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of Publication: Released today! The author kindly gave me an ARC to read for review.

The heroine: Hacker/computer genius Hayley Green

The hero: Omega Protection and Recovery Division agent Cain Bennett

The blurb: Hayley Green never wanted to see Omega special agent Cain Bennett again. Ever. He seduced her, then sent her to prison for hacking, and Hayley’s only just started piecing her life back together. Except now Cain needs Hayley’s help to catch a murderer. Their past is colliding with their still-smoldering attraction…and the only thing more dangerous than the killer is the secrets Hayley’s been keeping.

Standalone or series: Book four in the Omega Sector: Under Siege series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: This is the latest in the fabulous Omega Sector series (which will soon end, wah!). Cain Bennett works for Omega in the Protection and Recovery Division. He’s asked by Steve Drackett, head of the Critical Response Division, to help find the mole who’s been aiding sociopath Damien Freihof in his quest to take down the entire division because he wrongly blames them for the death of his wife.

Cain needs someone who can hack the Omega system and flush out the mole. Fortunately for him, he knows an excellent hacker – Hayley Green, the woman he once loved. Unfortunately, Hayley’s been in prison for the last four years and he was the one who arrested her, so she’s not likely to feel inclined to have anything to do with Cain. Four years previously, Cain asked for Hayley’s help as a computer expert; law enforcement was trying to find a group of hackers who were selling fake college entrance test scores to rich kids. What Cain didn’t know until it was too late was that Hayley was one of the hackers. Her reason for doing it was heartbreaking, but she still broke the law and she’s never shied away from admitting that. What hurts her most is that she believes Cain slept with her in order to get close so he could arrest her.

Cain also didn’t know that Hayley was pregnant when she was arrested. At most, Cain thought she’d get a slap on the wrist and some community service, since she pled guilty and was a first time offender. However, the judge decided to make an example of her and sentenced her to ten years, with a minimum of four. So Hayley gave birth inside prison and made her cousin, Ariel, baby Mason’s legal guardian.

When Cain comes back to Georgia four months after Hayley’s release, he finds her working herself to death at a local diner, owned by some douchebag they both went to school with. Cain can’t understand why Hayley needs the money so badly, but she has a good reason why – just before Hayley was arrested, she discovered someone was using the hacking as a cover for darker activities. Hayley managed to set a trap online to catch them just before she was jailed, and she knows that once she looks into they’ll know she’s onto them.

Hayley has a lot of secrets and Cain’s determined to find out what they are. When Hayley is caught in a fire at the diner, it’s only Cain’s quick thinking that saves her. Determined to find out what’s going on, he follows Hayley when she goes to meet Ariel and Mason for ice cream, and he sees a birthmark on Mason that is identical to one of his own… first mystery solved. Mason is his son.

Cain doesn’t have time to get to know their child, because someone has taken a hit out on Hayley’s life. Other hackers have died in mysterious circumstances, too many for it to be a co-incidence. He gets Hayley, Ariel and Mason to safety, and then he and Hayley work together to find out who’s after her and who the mole is. Along the way, they realise they still love each other.

If you want a book with romance, a happy ending, and a mystery that will keep you on the edge until the very end, then this is the book to pick up 😀

Review: Mountain Shelter by Cassie Miles

mountain shelterTitle: Mountain Shelter

Author: Cassie Miles

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Neurosurgeon Jayne Shackleford

The hero: Bodyguard/Games Designer/Rancher Dylan Timmons

The blurb: A mountain hideaway is all that stands between a bodyguard and the killer after his beautiful client…

As a highly skilled cyber security expert and bodyguard, there are few dangers Dylan Timmons can’t handle. But his next assignment brings unexpected risks. Hired to protect brilliant—but socially reclusive—neurosurgeon Jayne Shackleford, Dylan seeks answers in what he suspects was a foiled kidnapping attempt. As the daughter of an oil tycoon, Jayne is the perfect target for ransom, so retreating to the mountains is the first step in keeping her safe. The second step is remaining vigilant in their secluded surroundings—and resisting the beautiful brunette with a target on her back.

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: This book should have been called ‘Contraditions’, because it was full of them. Take our intrepid heroine, Jayne. She’s a twenty-eight year old prodigy who is one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons, trialling surgery to help restore the memory of stroke patients. Outside the operating theatre, however, she’s a klutz who can’t walk without tripping over her own feet (really? A woman who can perform such delicate, intricate surgery would really be a klutz?). She’s not very experienced with relationships and sex, but underneath her scrubs she wears wild lingerie in animal prints.

And then we have our dashing hero, Dylan. Is there anything this man can’t do? He’s another genius who co-owns a security firm and acts as bodyguard, but is also a tech expert, computer game designer and self-professed nerd who also happens to own a ranch for rescued animals and act as a part-time cowboy. And, as Jayne muses in one scene, could also be a porn star.

So the plot is thus: an assassin for a cartel is trying to kidnap Jayne. Everybody thinks it’s to get back at her wealthy father, but this assassin is apparently not very good at his job because he has several opportunities to kill her but doesn’t. It was obvious to me from very early on in the book why he wanted Jayne, but nobody – not the FBI, not the police, not our genius hero and heroine – seems to figure it out until the very end.

My biggest problem with this book were the two leads – I didn’t really like either of them. I thought Jayne was just a bitch for most of the book, and I found it difficult to swallow Dylan falling in love with her. With Dylan, he seemed to be half a dozen different men rolled into one. Yes, I get being multitalented, but it was like reading different heroes in the same body, and they just didn’t mesh. Neither did Jayne and Dylan. I didn’t really understand their attraction to each other, nor feel I could get into their romance. A pass from me, alas.

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: Cease Fire by Janie Crouch

cease fire Title: Cease Fire

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2018 – this book is being released on May 22. The author very kindly gave me an ARC to read and review.

The heroine: Ex stripper/hairdresser Keira Spencer

The hero: SWAT team member Roman Weber

The blurb: One perfect weekend changed his life. And now he’d die to protect his unborn child…

Two months ago, Roman Weber and Keira Spencer spent a breathless weekend together. But her sordid past and his privileged upbringing conspired against any happily-ever-after. When Keira is targeted by a killer, Omega Sector assigns Roman to safeguard her—and possibly win her back. Then Keira reveals she’s pregnant, and Roman knows the killer must be stopped…if they ever hope to become a family.

Standalone or series: Book three in the Omega Sector: Under Siege series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Keira Spencer is a remarkable heroine. Orphaned at seventeen, she has no family and no money because her well-intentioned parents tied up her inheritance until she turned twenty-five. Alone in the world, she falls for a man from a wealthy family with political connections, Jonathan Cunningham. When she marries him at nineteen, she finds out the hard way he’s not the man she thought he was – he’s a violent, abusive sociopath. Keira lands in hospital more than once, and instead of supporting and helping her, her in-laws do nothing. Worse still, her father-in-law threatens her, telling her nobody will believe her if she tells them what happened because his money can buy silence.

Eventually, Keira finds the strength to leave Jonathan and flees the state with absolutely nothing. She finds work in a strip club, where she meets Andrea Gordon (you can read her story in Man Of Action, where we first meet Keira). When she turns twenty-five she receives her inheritance, and it’s enough for her to buy a building. She puts in a hairdressing salon down the bottom and converts the units upstairs, because not only does she run a salon, but also a shelter where battered women can flee their abusers and have somewhere safe to go. Keira takes them in and teaches them a trade, so they can support themselves.

Keira is a fighter. She’s a survivor. She doesn’t let what happened to her define her, but instead uses her experiences to help other women. She won’t, however, ever consider marriage again.

It’s at Andrea and Brandon’s wedding that she sees Roman Weber. She knows him through the bride and groom, but they get talking at the reception and she’s attracted to him, so she throws caution to the wind and agrees to leave and go up to his hotel suite. They stay there for a few days before eventually heading back to reality.

Reality intrudes with a bang when Keira finds out eight weeks later that she’s pregnant, despite them using protection. She’s never really considered having a child before, but finds she really wants to keep the baby. She tells Roman about the baby and he warms to the idea instantly, of not only being a father but making a go of his relationship with Keira because he’s drawn to her. He finds out about the shelter and admires her quiet strength and determination to do good out of bad.

However, a few things start to get in their way: his snooty mother, for one, who is none too impressed to find out her beloved son, for whom she has great political aspirations, has knocked up an ex-stripper. She believes Keira is only after the Weber money and is determined to get rid of her, no matter how much it costs. She goes out of her way to blindside Keira at every turn and even offers her money to terminate her relationship with Roman – and the pregnancy. Keira, who won’t kowtow to anyone ever again, refuses.

But their biggest problem is the person who’s trying to kill Keira. Damien Freihof is back in the picture; if you’ve read previous books, you’ll know he’s the psychopath who is determined to make every single SWAT team member pay because he lost a loved one in a hostage situation gone wrong. He’s cunning and manipulative, and won’t stop until he succeeds in killing them all. He does take the life of an Omega Sector member in this book and badly injures another, and I can’t wait for them to finally catch up to this monster and take him down. He’s only managed to avoid them so far because there’s a mole inside Omega Sector feeding him information (and I think I might finally have figured out who it is – I love a good mystery!).

Old demons come back to haunt Keira and it’s only with Roman by her side that she manages to survive. I’m not going to spoil you as to who’s after her or how Freihof plays into it, but all will be revealed and Roman and Keira get their happy ending. Yay! Another great instalment in the Omega Sector series.

Review: Suspicious Activities by Tyler Anne Snell

suspicious activitiesTitle: Suspicious Activities

Author: Tyler Anne Snell

Mills & Boon imprint: 2016

Year of publication: Intrigue

The heroine: Security firm owner Nikki Waters

The hero: Security expert/bodyguard Jackson Fields

The blurb: As the newest member of Orion Security, Jackson Fields had a lot to prove. But he never expected his first assignment would force him to break every rule in the employee handbook. Nikki Waters has always put her clients’ protection first…until a nightmare from her past resurfaces. Now Jackson must protect his boss to keep her life’s work from crumbling. She’d headhunted Jackson for his raw talent, and is counting on his determination to make sure she lives another day. He has every intention of keeping her safe—especially when his protective detail turns from professional to personal in the blink of an eye.

Standalone or series: The fourth in the Orion Security series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: I enjoyed this book. Of the two Orion Security books I’ve read, I think I liked this one more because I adored Jackson. He was a really interesting character. He’s been shunned by the world at large because his father was a cop killer and very few people are willing to give him a chance. He’s used to being abused by cops over what his father did.

Nikki is willing to give him a chance when Jonathan, one of the three men loyal to Nikki, recommends him for a job at Orion Security. Jackson has to hit the ground running when Nikki’s life is threatened by her former boss, Andrew. Nikki, Oliver Quinn (book one), Mark Tranton (book two) and Jonathan Carmichael (book three) all worked for another security firm that only took on rich clients. One day, a scientist named Morgan Avery came in and begged for a bodyguard because she felt her life was in danger; she had won a prestigious job in London and a lot of other scientists were angry. Nikki, Jonathan, Oliver and Mark all wanted to help (Nikki was Andrew’s secretary) but Andrew refused because Morgan had no money. When Morgan was murdered, Nikki let slip to a reporter what Andrew had said and when it came out in the media, Andrew was fired and his reputation was in tatters. Nikki left the company and decided to form her own security firm, which wouldn’t discriminate against any client because of their financial situation, and Jonathan, Oliver and Mark followed her.

It’s been five years, but Andrew has not forgotten about Nikki and blames her for ‘stealing’ the three security experts from him, as well as the loss of his job and reputation. So he’s going to make her pay with her life. He hires a group of men to murder her, and when everyone realises what is happening Jackson is tasked with protecting Nikki until they can catch Andrew.

What follows is a whirlwind of cat and mouse as Nikki and Jackson do their best to avoid the hitmen and stay alive. They’re attracted to each other, but given they are boss and employee neither of them wants to take it further. When Nikki punches a cop who is abusing Jackson for his father’s actions, he can’t help but kiss her. In between all the craziness, they manage to find time to make out a couple of times, although, like the previous book in the series I read, the hero and heroine do nothing more than kiss. I really loved Jackson; he had a quiet strength to him that was incredibly appealing. Worth a read.

 

 

 

Review: Primal Instinct by Janie Crouch

primal instinctTitle: Primal Instinct

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Rancher/FBI profiler Adrienne Jeffries

The hero: FBI Special Agent Conner Perigo

The blurb: On the crowded streets of San Francisco, a serial killer watches and waits. Known only as “Simon Says,” he lures his next victim while the FBI grasps for answers. Desperate, they turn to Adrienne Jeffries. Adrienne has an uncanny talent for getting inside the city’s most dangerous minds. But first she’ll have to get past FBI agent Conner Perigo. Skeptical of Adrienne’s abilities, Conner begrudgingly enlists her help…unprepared for the powerful attraction that could jeopardize their focus. With little time, and everything to lose, they must work to find Simon’s next victim—before he does.

Standalone or series: Book one of the Instinct series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: FBI Special Agent Conner Perigo has heard of The Bloodhound, a woman who used to work for the FBI years ago as a civilian profiler. Her reputation precedes her; she helped solve an untold number of cases in a two year period. However, eight years ago, she suddenly stopped working with the FBI and has become somewhat of a legend whispered about at the water cooler.

San Francisco has a serial killer named Simon Says in its midst, and the FBI are desperate to find him. He’s been taunting them by sending boxes with locks of hair, and the women the hair belong to turns up dead shortly after. The body count now stands at five, and Conner and his partner, Seth Harrington, are willing to do anything to find him.

Adrienne Jeffries now owns a horse ranch a couple of hours outside San Fran, and her manager, Rick, has a warrant out for his arrest for failing to meet the conditions of his parole for minor crimes. So when Conner’s boss tells him and Seth to go to Adrienne and bring her in to help them with the Simon Says case or else they’ll arrest Rick, Conner is torn – he doesn’t like the idea of blackmailing this woman, but he has to follow orders.

He expects to find a middle-aged woman when he turns up at Adrienne’s ranch, but what he gets is something quite different: Adrienne is a softly spoken, petite twenty eight year old. He learns that she was only a teenager when she worked for the FBI and she has a gift – she’s able to sense malevolence and evil in people. She can hear their thoughts in her head. She has a constant buzz whenever she’s around people, which is why she chooses to live on a quiet ranch out of the city, and using her gift takes a very big toll on her in every way. The evil voices scream inside her head. She gets nosebleeds and migraines. She’s barely able to stand in their presence. But the FBI did not look after her in any way, just demanded she kept helping them solve cases, and eventually it became so hard for her that she had to walk away.

Which is why she is reluctant to go back to the FBI, but she does to help Rick. Something about her just gets under Conner’s skin and he’s rude the first time they meet, causing Adrienne to amusingly refer to him as Special Agent Jackass. But as he starts to become aware of her gift and how it works, he’s in awe of what an amazing woman she is, to live with what she does and not go totally insane. Adrienne realises that when Conner is around her, she can’t hear anything in her head – he seems to take away her ability to sense anything, leaving her in blissful silence.

When Simon kills another woman, Adrienne knows she can’t walk away, no matter the personal toll it takes on her. There is one scene where Adrienne is in a coffee shop one morning and can hear a man intent on murdering two of the people in the coffee shop with Adrienne that is just incredible. The closer he gets, the more Adrienne can hear him in her head and his rage is so overpowering that she’s close to collapse, but she manages to call for help in time and saves the couple, who turn out to be the man’s estranged wife and her new boyfriend.

I did guess the identity of Simon Says, but there was a twist I didn’t see coming that explained why Adrienne didn’t identify him straight away at first; it was very cleverly done. Even though they’ve known each other for a short time, Conner and Adrienne realise they’ve fallen for each other, so once Simon is caught, they plan a life together.

This is the first in the Instinct trilogy – Adrienne is a triplet, and her sisters Paige and Chloe also have a gift. The next two books are their stories. Be prepared to be sucked into this book – I read it one night for hours until my phone fell out of my hand because I was so tired!

Review: Full Force Fatherhood by Tyler Anne Snell

full force fatherhoodTitle: Full Force Fatherhood

Author: Tyler Anne Snell

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Kelli Crane

The hero: Bodyguard Mark Tranton

The blurb: Mark Tranton thought his bodyguard career ended the day he watched a client die. Now Kelli Crane—the widow—needs Mark to keep her and her little girl safe. Mark swears he’s not the man for the job, but when the vulnerable beauty is attacked, there’s no way he can deny the woman he failed two years before.

Being around Kelli again stirs something in Mark he could never admit. And spending time with her daughter makes him long to be more than just their personal protectors. But digging into the past riles someone who won’t rest until Kelli pays the ultimate price. Mark refuses to allow that to happen. Even if he has to sacrifice their newly discovered happiness to keep her out of the line of fire.

Standalone or series: Book two of the Orion Security series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Mark Tranton is hired as a bodyguard to look after investigative journalist Victor Crane and his wife, Kelli. Victor is about to publish a story highlighting a charity and he’s been getting threats, so he whisks Kelli away and, at her insistence, takes a bodyguard with them. One night, there’s a fire, and Victor becomes trapped in the cabin. Mark insists he can get them both out, but Victor knows he can’t and so he insists Mark takes Kelli because she’s pregnant. Once Mark learns this, he doesn’t argue, getting Kelli to safety. He tries to go back for Victor, but is too late.

Two years later, Mark has quit the security firm because of his guilt over not being able to save Victor. Kelli has a daughter, Grace, and is preparing to move from the house she shared with Victor when she finds a notebook hidden in his study. Upon examining it, she realises that some of the names Victor had listed for the article on the charity do not match those in the published one, and so she goes to the editor that printed the story after Victor’s death, Dennis. He tells her it’s a mistake and to leave it alone, but the more Kelli looks into it the more she starts to think that Victor’s death wasn’t an accident.

She seeks out Mark, whom she hasn’t seen since the night of the fire, and tells him her suspicions. He says at first he can’t help her, but his guilt gets the better of him and so he agrees to help Kelli look into it. The more they examine the evidence, the more it becomes clear that something is not right with the charity.

It turns out that they are right and one of the charity employees has been doing some very shady stuff. Kelli and her best friend are kidnapped, but Mark manages to save them with the help of Dennis, whom Kelli thought was in on the plot (he wasn’t; he was trying to save Kelli and Grace from being hurt).

If you’re reading this for the action, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re reading for the romance, know that it’s incredibly chaste – the hero and heroine exchange nothing more than a few kisses. But if you keep reading the series, you’ll find out a few books later they’re married and expecting a baby. I found the title for this book to be a bit of a misnomer because there wasn’t really a great emphasis on Mark and Grace, and any role he might play in her life. But what I did love was that Victor’s death wasn’t glossed over; at the end, Kelli says goodbye to him in the house before she leaves. She still loves and misses him, but has realised there’s room in her heart to love someone else. I thought this was really nicely done 🙂

Review: Guarding Grace by Rebecca York

guarding graceTitle: Guarding Grace

Author: Rebecca York

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2010

The heroine: Researcher Grace Cunningham

The hero: PI Brady Lockwood

The blurb: Brady Lockwood had no choice but to rescue the woman who’d witnessed his brother’s murder. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Grace Cunningham had become a target, and only he could keep her alive. But Brady was convinced she knew more than she was telling….

More than what she’d seen, Grace was haunted by what she kept secret. Things she couldn’t tell anyone, especially Brady. Things that went beyond his brother’s murder. Her brooding bodyguard had given her not only protection but passion and pleasure. And now Grace feared losing Brady to the killers at their heels — and to a secret that could tear him away….

Standalone or series: Book thirty three (!) in the 43 Light Street series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: As a writer, there are only so many plots you can come up with. That’s fact. As a reader, I don’t mind reading a plot I’ve read over and over, as long as the characters are relatable and the story is interesting. This book, sadly, had neither. The plot was just downright silly.

Brady’s older half-brother, John Ridgway, has been cheating on his wife for years. He’s hired Grace to help him put together his autobiography (he’s a power player in Washington DC) and he uses his meetings with her as a cover, so he can have sex with his mistress afterwards. Grace is still in the office when she hears John going at it with his latest paramour, and then she hears him die.

The official line is that he had a heart attack, and his girlfriend is taken away for questioning by some shady individuals. His security team are covering his death up as nobody is sure whether his death was natural or forced. Brady thinks that Grace is his brother’s mistress, and he wants answers so he follows her, but when some goons try to kidnap her he steps in and gets to her first. They promptly go on the run where someone tries to kill them countless times. Brady can tell Grace knows more than she’s telling, and although he knows he should probably cut his losses and let her loose, he vows to protect her at all costs.

I don’t think I’m ruining the book for anyone by letting you on the big secret: half the characters are clones, Grace included. The woman John Ridgway was having an affair with was actually a female clone of himself. Turns out rich people paid some scientist to clone them in the event they ever needed an organ transplant (???), so their clones would be sacrificed to save them. Turns out the clones found out who they were and why they exist, and unsurprisingly aren’t happy to hear it, so they rise up against the rich people and decide to strike back. Oh boy. You really had to concentrate on following the very convoluted plot in order to make sense of anything, and by the end I just didn’t care about any of the players. I just felt sorry for Brady being dragged into the whole mess, and I did feel a little sorry for Grace, who felt less than human being a clone. Pass on this one, kids.

Review: Man of Action by Janie Crouch

man of actionTitle: Man of Action

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Omega Sector behavioural analyst Andrea Gordon

The hero: Omega Sector profiler Brandon Han

The blurb: At nineteen, Andrea Gordon’s life was forever changed. After proving herself instrumental in a bank hostage crisis, she became one of Omega Sector’s top agents. Four years later, her skill at reading people is unrivalled—until she meets fellow profiler Brandon Han.

Paired together to track a serial killer who has been targeting at-risk women, the two become entangled beyond the case. Their mutual attraction deepens as they get closer to the truth. But when Andrea’s own sordid past surfaces, they will both be forced to question everything about the assignment…and each other.

Standalone or series: Book four in the Omega Sector: Critical Response series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: You know what I love about reading a book by Janie Crouch? I know I’m going to enjoy it before I’ve even read a word. This book was no exception. I’ve seen Brandon pop up in other books before and was curious enough to want to read his book.

Andrea Gordon is an amazing heroine. Brought up by an abusive, alcoholic aunt and uncle, she finally leaves at seventeen and gets a job in a strip club. She hates every minute of it, but does what she has to do to survive. When she goes into a bank one day and gets an uneasy feeling about three men who’ve entered, she leaves immediately – and becomes the last person to leave before they take the bank hostage.

When she overhears the authorities talking about storming the building, she realises they don’t know about the third man. She approaches Steve Drackett, the Omega Sector director, and Grace Parker, the psychologist, to tell them about him, and something about her intrigues Steve enough that he and Grace seek her out after the crisis is over. Andrea is naturally gifted at being able to read people’s emotions and body language, better than some people who have been trained for years. When Steve sees where she is working, he offers her an out – do some testing and he’ll hire her at Omega Sector.

Four years later, Andrea has turned her life around. Her previous life is behind her, but she’s afraid of getting too close to her colleagues at Omega Sector in case they find out she’s a dyslexic high school dropout who used to strip. Brandon is aware of her reputation around the office as an ice queen, but he’s attracted to her for reasons he can’t work out. Having worked solo for the previous year since the death of his partner, he’s not happy when Steve partners him up with Andrea on a serial killer case. It makes sense – Andrea is excellent at reading people and one victim is from her hometown, so she knows the area well.

Home is the last place Andrea wants to go, especially with the man she’s been attracted to for years, but she has a job to do and she doesn’t want to let down Steve, the only man who’s ever given her a chance. While they’re there, they can no longer fight their desire and Andrea’s sordid past comes out. Brandon disappointingly doesn’t take it well at first, and I could have smacked him for it, but eventually he realises how amazing Andrea is to have overcome her past to be who she is now. They do eventually catch the killer, whose identity I did not guess, but not before Andrea is taken hostage. Brandon saves her, is injured, and they get their happily ever after. Read this book because Andrea is awesome, and I love reading about awesome heroines 🙂 Oh, it is must be said – that guy on the cover is hot!

Review: Explosive Engagement by Lisa Childs

explosive engagementTitle: Explosive Engagement

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Jewellery designer Stacy Kozminski

The hero: Former detective/bodyguard Logan Payne

The blurb: Nothing has fazed Logan Payne in his entire career as a bodyguard. That is, until he’s tasked with protecting his biggest enemy. Stacy Kozminski isn’t too thrilled about having to work with Logan either, but when attempts are made on her life, she knows he is her only hope if she wants to survive.

Soon, a target is placed on both their backs, and they have no choice but to fake an engagement to protect one another. Logan won’t let Stacy out of his sight. But is it because he doesn’t want to fail his mission… or because he’s come to care for her?

Standalone or series: Book two of the Shotgun Weddings series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I love the Payne family. I’ve already read Cooper and Parker’s books, and when I found Logan’s I knew I had to buy it. Logan is the eldest Payne (his twin is Parker) and CEO of the Payne Protection Agency. He was seventeen when his father, a cop, was gunned down during a robbery by Patek Kozminski. Every time Kozminski came up for parole, Logan would speak at the hearing to ensure his father’s killer never got out.

When Kozminski is murdered in prison, he leaves behind his three children: Garek, Milek and Stacy. Stacy and Logan’s paths have crossed many times before, and they hate each other. Or do they? Logan has never blamed Stacy for what her father did, but he’s always resented her loyalty to her father and her blind faith in his innocence. Stacy begged Logan once not to attend a parole hearing for her father, but he refused, determined to keep the man in prison.

When Patek dies, someone comes after Stacy and Logan. The who and why isn’t known at first, but between bullets and bombs, Penny Payne, matriarch and matchmaker extraordinaire, declares that they only way for them to stay safe is to marry. Getting married is Penny’s solution to pretty much everything, as you’ll see when you read the other books. Logan is sure that Stacy’s brothers are behind the attempts on his life, and Stacy herself has doubts because they have killed for her before (yes, you do find out who and why, and no, I won’t spoil it), so she follows Penny’s logic and announces her engagement to Logan, thinking her brothers will back off if they believe Stacy’s in love with him. Penny Payne has always looked out for the Kozminski children, who were teenagers when their father was incarcerated, so they respect her.

Penny has it in her head that Logan and Stacy really are in love, united by their shared grief over their fathers, and when Logan starts to believe Stacy when she says her father never killed his, he investigates and finds out she was right. I won’t tell you who the real killer is, but it’s the same person responsible for everything. They’re caught in the end, and Logan and Stacy decide to make their engagement real. Another enjoyable instalment in the Payne family series.

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: Baby Bootcamp by Mallory Kane

baby bootcampTitle: Baby Bootcamp

Author: Mallory Kane

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2011

The heroine: Café owner Faith Scott

The hero: Security specialist/war veteran Matteo Soarez

The blurb: War veteran Matteo Soarez’s assignment was simple – just watch and listen. Sitting in a Texas café waiting for information is a piece of cake. Especially when Faith Scott – the young café owner and mother-to-be – could light up a room with her smile.

But Matt’s job involves saving the Governor’s life, and protecting vulnerable single mothers isn’t his priority. Yet when Faith’s café becomes the centre of danger, Matt knows he cannot let Faith and her baby become collateral damage. Even if it means compromising the mission….

Standalone or series: The second in the Daddy Corps series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Oh boy. I don’t think I’ve ever met a hero who blushes as much as Matteo Soarez! This character was so easily embarrassed. If he blushed once, he blushed twenty times in this book. You could almost have had a drinking game based on the number of times Matt blushed.

It’s only as I sit down to write this review that I realise how this romance read to me – like two teenagers falling in love for the first time. Matt felt like two separate characters – the hardened war veteran who could defend himself easily and take orders from superiors, and the bashful man who wanted to romance Faith. Their relationship seemed to oscillate a lot; one minute, Faith wanted Matt to stay near her and protect her, the next she was shooing him out the door.

Faith is eight months pregnant when the book starts (thirty two weeks, which is technically correct since a pregnancy is ten months, not nine) and running a very busy café with long hours six days a week. I have to wonder if she could physically have kept up the hours she was doing at her advanced stage, but Faith seemed to manage it okay. The baby’s father is a Loser with a capital L and only used her for money.

Matt is undercover as a construction worker, trying to find out who is making threats against the Governor. The intrigue part of this book wasn’t very intriguing, I’m sorry to say. I really wanted to feel more of Matt and Faith’s romance. Don’t tell me he’s falling in love with her – show me. Apart from a few kisses, there really wasn’t much to it. Faith goes into labour at thirty five weeks, so they’ve really only known each other for four weeks when the books ends and Matt proposes. I was like, how did we get to marriage so quickly? Faith never really showed Matt any inclination she was interested in a serious relationship; there was a lot of assumption on his part. I think if there’d been more time, I could have bought the romance more, but it all happened so fast. It’s not as though I’m against love at first sight, but the whole thing felt rushed to me.

Did I like it? Sure. Did I love it? No. Would I read it again? Probably not.

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.

 

 

 

Detective Daddy by Mallory Kane

detective daddyTitle: Detective Daddy

Author: Mallory Kane

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2011

The heroine: Criminologist/DNA profiler Rachel Stevens

The hero: Homicide detective Ash Kendall

The blurb: He learned he was going to be a daddy the same day his parents’ murderer was set free. But Detective Ash Kendall was determined to keep it together. After all, the woman at the centre of everything, Rachel Stevens, had a lot of explaining to do.

The lovely DNA profiler had no idea her evidence would reopen Ash’s old wounds. Despite all they’d been through, she hadn’t stopped loving the man who just found out he was going to be a daddy. And with someone desperate to keep the secrets of the Christmas Eve Murders hidden, Ash was the only man who could protect Rachel and her baby…

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: I stayed up until 1am reading this book, so it’s safe to say I really enjoyed it *g* Twenty years previously, Ash and his three siblings were left orphans when their parents were brutally slaughtered on Christmas Eve. The detective in charge of the case, now Deputy Chief Charles Hammond, caught the killer and put him behind bars where he belongs.

However, now that DNA testing is much further advanced than it was, the case is reopened. Rachel Stevens, one of the senior criminologists and Ash’s former lover, is asked to blind test the evidence (all information identifying the case is redacted) and it proves the man convicted, Rick Campbell, is not the killer.

Ash finds out Rachel is pregnant with his child when she collapses and he takes her to hospital. She’s reluctant to tell him about the baby, because he dumped her two months previously – as he has with every woman he’s previously dated. His nickname around the precinct is Ashanova, and although she was warned by other women who came before her, Rachel thought she was different. They dated for four months and he took her to New Orleans for a romantic weekend away, but it turns out that Ash realised he felt differently about Rachel and it freaked him out, so he phased her out as he does all of the women he dates. However, what neither of them knew is that Ash got Rachel pregnant that weekend.

The release of Rick Campbell from prison after twenty years throws the Kendall family into a spin, because it means that not only did the wrong man go to prison, but the real killer is still out there. Ash and his siblings were raised by their father’s brother, Craig, and his wife, Angie, after their parents’ death. Ash became a homicide detective because he wanted to make sure other families who suffered the same fate got the same closure the Kendalls thought they’d had.

When Ash finds Rachel on the floor of her kitchen with a head wound and her placed tossed, he insists she stays with him until whomever is targeting her is caught. Rachel finds it hard to be so close to Ash, because she’s in love with him and has been for months, and she’s unable to resist when he initiates sex on the couch. Ash finds himself surprised by how much he loves the changes to Rachel’s body and how attracted to her he still is; his sister’s comment about him being in love with Rachel won’t leave his head. He’s grown tired of the Casanova role at thirty three and wants to be part of his baby’s life.

When Rick Campbell turns up dead and Ash & Rachel find flaws in the investigation into his parents’ murders, Ash and Rachel need to find out what’s going on. I won’t reveal the identity of Rick Campbell’s killer, but Rachel is held hostage by this person and Ash takes a bullet to save her. Ash eventually admits he loves her and asks her to marry him, and they get their happily ever after.

The cover: love the door with Ash’s name on it, and the pouty look on Rachel’s face makes me laugh every time I look at it 🙂

The only thing that bummed me out is that the identity of the real killer was never revealed…

Pregnesia by Carla Cassidy

pregnesiaTitle: Pregnesia

Author: Carla Cassidy

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2009

The heroine: School teacher Jane Doe/Julie Montgomery

The hero: Former Navy SEAL/co-owner of repossession company Recovery Inc.

The blurb: Former navy SEAL Lucas Washington was an expert at tackling impossible missions. But when a striking – —and very pregnant— – woman turned up in a car he was repossessing, suddenly he was in over his head. Shaken and bruised, she couldn’t remember what had happened to her or why she was terrified of going to the police. Lucas made it clear he could be trusted, and vowed to protect her until she was safe. Hours turned to days as they searched for clues to her hidden past. Then a family came to claim her, and a happy ending seemed imminent. But had he just delivered his Jane Doe to safety – …or into the hands of a killer?

Standalone or series: This is the last in The Recovery Men trilogy, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Let’s take a few moments just to revel in the gloriousness that is the title of this book, shall we? Pregnesia. Pregnesia. If I spent a thousand days thinking about it, I don’t think I’d ever come up with this gem 🙂

I really enjoyed this book. Lucas and his sister, Loretta, grew up in a violent family. Lucas was beaten every single day until he fled home at eighteen. Because of this, he won’t even entertain the idea of being a husband and father. He just doesn’t have it in him to love someone else that way.

However, when he does a 2am repossession as a favour, he finds a tiny, blonde, eight months pregnant woman in the backseat, bloodied and battered. She’s clearly terrified and doesn’t know who she is or what her name is, let alone what happened to her. Lucas can’t turn his back on her, and the idea of going to the police terrifies her for reasons she can’t name, so he takes her to Loretta’s unit; she’s a nurse and lives down the hall from him.

Lucas calls on his Recovery Inc partners, Micah and Troy (whose stories are presumably books one and two in the series), to help him try and figure out what has happened to Jane and who she’s running from. She has flashes of memory and just knows things about herself, but has a feeling of dread that she’s running from someone trying to hurt her.

After more than a week, her brother-in-law turns up to claim her. Lucas is suspicious, but this guy has paperwork to prove they’re related and Julie, as it’s revealed her name is, reluctantly agrees to go along. By the time she goes with Robert, she knows she’s in love with Lucas (she knows her husband is dead) and knows he feels the same way about her, but he refuses to acknowledge it because he’s so haunted by his childhood. Julie doesn’t want to be a burden, so she goes.

After following a hunch, Lucas is worried he’s delivered Julie straight back to the people she was running from, so he enlists a friend from the police to help him see her. Julie is able to give him a signal and he, Micah and Troy bust into the church compound where Julie is being held to rescue her. Once she’s safe, though, Lucas is still stubbornly refusing to acknowledge he loves her – until she goes into labour. Lucas promised she wouldn’t have to give birth alone, so he goes to the hospital, quits being an idiot and admits he loves her, and holds her hand as she gives birth to their son. Awwwwwww.

Man Undercover by Alana Matthews

man undercoverTitle: Man Undercover

Author: Alana Matthews

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2010

The heroine: News segment producer Tara Richmond

The hero: FBI Special Agent Matt Hathaway

The blurb: A cabin in the Colorado mountains promised Tara Richards a break from reporting…until Matt Hathaway sent her life into a tailspin. Deep undercover, Matt had less than a day to stop a bombing, and Tara was his last lifeline. Entrenched in the biggest story of her career, Tara could control her own destiny, but not the man by her side. After all, he promised the most thrilling night of her entire life!

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: Tara Richmond turns up at her sister’s cabin, hoping for a relaxing night. Instead, she finds herself with unwanted company – escaped prisoners from a nearby jail. One of them, however, doesn’t seem quite like the others… and when he reveals himself to be an FBI agent undercover, she realises why.

Tara and Matt have one hell of a night. Matt is busted by the gang he’s been undercover with for almost a year and manages to get himself and Tara away from them, but they are in the middle of the forest with nothing for miles around and Matt is injured, so they take shelter in a run down cabin. When the elderly owner of the cabin rocks up, she helps them to safety. Matt realises he has been betrayed by a colleague at the FBI, and they spend a long night trying to figure out who and why, and stop the bombing the gang has set up for 9am the next morning.

They make it back to Tara’s condo, where they end up having sex twice. Matt is amazed at how strong his feelings for Tara are; seven years ago, he lost his wife and young daughter in a robbery gone wrong, and he never thought he’d fall in love again. But he does, and Tara is wary because her father was also a cop who had his own baggage – leaving his wife and teenage daughters for the partner he was secretly having an affair with – and she doesn’t want to be with someone who’s involved in law enforcement. But much like Matt, she finds herself in love. It doesn’t take them long – less than twenty four hours – but given the night they’ve had, and the steamy shower sex, I didn’t mind it. There was also a nice twist with the identity of a character.

Let’s talk about that cover, shall we? My sister and I had the following amusing conversation by text message.

Me: Check out this guy on one of my romance book covers. Is he not the dopiest looking dude around?
Her: Lol that’s some world class derp right there
Me: *laughs*
Her: I’d definitely wait for him to come save me *makes face*
Me: *laughs some more*
Her: I hope you’re going to put these messages on your blog when you review this book

Yep, I am 🙂

 

The Baby’s Guardian by Delores Fossen

the baby's guardianTitle: The Baby’s Guardian

Author: Delores Fossen

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2010

The heroine: Sabrina Carr, head of an organisation that reunites adoptive and foster children with their biological families

The hero: Police captain Shaw Tolbert

The blurb: As if being eight months pregnant wasn’t stressful enough! In the past twenty-four hours Sabrina Carr had been shot at, kidnapped and held hostage.

That’s when hot Texas cop Shaw Tolbert came to her rescue. As the surrogate mother to his child, Sabrina couldn’t help her attraction to Shaw… or the kiss that told her she meant more to him than she ever realized. How could she keep her cool when things were so hot?

Standalone or series: Book one in the Texas Maternity: Labor and Delivery series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: This is one of the strangest romances I’ve ever read. Eleven months before this book opens, Shaw Tolbert’s wife, Fay, commits suicide. She had battled depression and came off her medication because she was trying to harvest eggs to have a baby with Shaw. Her best friend, Sabrina, had agreed to be their surrogate. However, Fay discovered her eggs weren’t viable, so Sabrina also agreed to be an egg donor. Having been off her medication for too long and depressed at failing to give her husband a child, she overdosed.

Three months after her death, Sabrina somehow talked Shaw into going ahead with the pregnancy, and she was inseminated. In the book, Shaw talks about how important this child is to him, but not once in the whole eight months Sabrina has been pregnant has he shown the slightest bit of interest in her – or his child. He doesn’t call her once. Doesn’t attend any of her appointments. He keeps tabs on her from a distance and that’s it. Why? Because he blames Sabrina for Fay’s death. Thinks she should have known Fay’s depression was that bad. I was like, whaaaat? Sabrina knows Shaw hates her and blames her, because Fay left a goodbye message on Sabrina’s answering machine. Sabrina called Shaw and he made it home in time to hold his wife in his arms as she died, but couldn’t save her.

Sabrina is eight months pregnant and lured to hospital under false pretences, where she is taken hostage along with the rest of the maternity ward. She’s eventually taken by the gunmen as they escape, and Shaw finds and rescues her. So they spend most of the book dodging whomever is trying to kill them and figuring out the who and the why, and while they’re doing all that they suddenly realise they’re attracted to each other. I found this odd, especially on Shaw’s part, because they’d had almost nothing to do with each other for more than a year. But Shaw can’t seem to keep his mind off Sabrina and her belly (and amusingly tells her at one stage that yes, he wants to have sex with her, which sounded so stilted) and Sabrina’s a bundle of hormones, so she’s down for some action.

They end up having sex on a couch and realise that it’s lurve. They find the who and the why, and end up marrying two weeks later. Within an hour of saying their vows, Sabrina gives birth to their son, which means she was already in labour at the wedding or had the fastest first-time labour on the planet. Hmmmm. I don’t think I’d read this one again. I had too many questions and not enough answers.

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.

Special Forces Savior by Janie Crouch

special forces saviorTitle: Special Forces Savior

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Forensic scientist Molly Humphries

The hero: Omega Sector agent Derek Waterman

The blurb: Omega Sector: Critical Response agent Derek Waterman is hunting some very bad men. After weeks of chasing cold leads, he has found the evidence that could expose the architects of a lethal terrorist bombing. But before Derek can start busting bad guys, he needs help from Dr Molly Humphries, Omega’s lead forensic scientist.

Molly works to retrieve the data — and overcome her debilitating crush on the super agent. And Derek carefully suppresses his mutual smoldering attraction, sure that his dark past will drive Molly away. But when Molly’s kidnapped, Derek will stop at nothing to save her. Even if a lethal enemy will do everything to keep him from doing so.

Standalone or series: This is part of the Omega Sector: Critical Response series, which precedes the Omega Sector: Under Siege series. It can be read as a standalone, but you will see crossovers of the same characters.

The review: I think Janie Crouch is fast becoming one of my favourite M&B authors! I got this e-book free for signing up for her mailing list and completely devoured it.

Dr Molly Humphries is intelligent, diligent and well-liked and respected by all who know her – but she’s also called Mousy Molly, because she dresses sensibly. She doesn’t wear make up. Nobody really seems to have any idea of Molly the woman vs Molly the scientist. What is well known, however, is her crush on Derek Waterman.

Here’s what nobody else knows: Derek feels the same way about Molly, but refuses to tell anyone because his job takes him to dark places. He fights evil, and he’s unwilling to drag sweet, kind Molly into his dark world. She is his light and he won’t taint that. So while he knows exactly how she feels about him, he won’t act on it, even though Molly sees the way he looks at her sometimes. Oh, and another thing nobody else knows about? They slept together three years previously, when Derek turned up on her doorstep drunk one night.

Molly gets involved in processing evidence from a major case Derek and his team are working on, narrowly avoids being blown to smithereens, and is then kidnapped by some very bad people. Derek lets nothing stop him in rescuing her, but it’s not over when they get home – Molly is being framed for the bombing at her lab, and someone high up in the government is involved. The conspiracy is cracked and the players are caught, but not before Molly is hurt by the man who kidnapped her – and you can just feel Derek’s anguish as he listens to her finger being broken over the phone.

Derek and Molly’s relationship was just wonderful to read, and in the end they refuse to hide how they feel from everyone else. Another excellent book worth reading.

Daddy Defender by Janie Crouch

daddy defenderTitle: Daddy Defender

Author: Janie Crouch

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Social media specialist/press secretary Summer Worrall

The hero: Omega Sector SWAT team sharpshooter Ashton Fitzgerald

The blurb: What a serious case of mistaken identity. Ashton Fitzgerald is no unassuming handyman, but a highly trained sharpshooter intent on protecting Summer Worrall and her baby daughter. The Omega SWAT member has a debt to pay and he isn’t about to let Summer out of his sight.

For someone else has set their sights on the lovely widow. Her unexpected relationship with Ashton has put Summer and her child straight into a madman’s line of fire. Suddenly a mission to make amends becomes Ashton’s quest to defend this little family with his life.

Standalone or series: Part of the Omega Sector: Under Siege series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: I loved this book. Loved loved loved it. Two years previously, when Summer was six months pregnant with daughter Chloe, her husband Tyler was killed in a hostage situation gone wrong. The Omega Sector SWAT team on site that fateful day included Ashton Fitzgerald, affectionately known as Fitzy to his teammates. He had a chance to take out the bad guy that day, but stuck to his orders and waited for the negotiator to talk the bad guy down. Alas, bad guy had a grenade and killed several people, including Tyler Worrall.

Ashton feels incredibly guilty about not saving him that day. When Ashton is asked by a colleague to organise a handyman to fix something in Summer’s condo (which belongs to said colleague, Joe) he decides to take care of it himself. Summer then believes him to be the maintenance man for the property, and the more time that passes, the harder it becomes for Ashton to tell Summer who he really is. And what makes it worse is that he’s attracted to her, and Chloe adores him, calling him Ah-ta.

Summer starts to find reasons to call Ashton to her place and, thinking he’s shy, makes the first move, kissing him (which I loved!). She invites him into her bedroom, and while he wants nothing more than to go, he refuses until he tells her the truth about who he really is. All the while, his teammates have been teasing him about being in the friend zone, which makes for amusing scenes. I also got vibes between two of his teammates, Roman and Lillian – I wonder if they get a book of their own?

Summer does eventually find out who Ashton really is when she stumbles upon him and his team at a potential hostage situation. In the meantime, someone is targeting Ashton and his team, someone out for revenge with a partner or two. Summer is just collateral damage. Ashton will do whatever he can to protect Summer and Chloe, to whom he’s rapidly become attached to.

Summer finds out the entire truth, about Ashton being there the day her husband died and how he could have made the shot. I thought it was very nicely handled; Ashton’s biggest fear is that Summer would blame him for Tyler’s death – and she didn’t. Their relationship was handled nicely and I adored them both. My only complaint, if I could call it that, is that there was no actual sex scene between Ashton and Summer – the author chose to leave it to the reader’s imagination. Wah! You should definitely read this book.

And seriously, how freaking adorable is that cover?

Reluctant Hero by Debra Webb & Regan Black

reluctant hero

Title: Reluctant Hero

Authors: Debra Webb and Regan Black

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Producer Rebecca Wallace

The hero: Former Army soldier/security expert Parker Lawton

The blurb: For security expert Parker Lawton, the anonymous threat is explosive. Return the gold stolen during his intelligence unit’s last mission – or they’ll each be hunted down. And when one of his men is killed just before meeting investigative reporter Rebecca Wallace, he must take her under his protection. But her persistence in getting the real story is even more dangerous – and irresistible.

For a dashing war hero, Parker is the most guilty-acting innocent man Becca has ever seen. But as her instincts and Parker’s skills home in on the truth, trusting the desire simmering between them could be their only chance – or the last move they’ll ever make.

Standalone or series: Part of the Gray Box series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: I hate to say this, but… I really didn’t enjoy this book. So, someone is threatening the six men of an elite unit who supposedly stole gold in Iraq (they didn’t). Parker is one of the six men, and a list of their names is sent to Becca’s station. His man killed on his way to talk to someone wasn’t going to see Becca, because she’s not a reporter but a producer of a successful news show known for getting their facts straight before showing any reports. With one of his team dead and the next on the list seriously injured, it’s understandable that Parker is grieving and desperate to find out who is threatening them before someone else is hurt.

Parker rescues Becca from being kidnapped from some gala they’re both at, but what happens next is what ruined the book for me… he holds her against her will. He takes her to his place and locks her in a safe room he has because he wants her source. She doesn’t know who’s holding her (although she suspects it’s Parker from the get go). She has no idea of how long she’s there because there’s no window or clock, and he’s confiscated her laptop and phone. She doesn’t know if she’s going to be attacked or killed, and at one stage suspects the latter. She’s terrified. He knows all this because he’s watching her. He breaks into her apartment and packs a case for her, so she knows he’s been in her place. He’s answering her work emails, pretending to be her, so nobody will suspect something is wrong (he’s using a family emergency as a cover story).

He continues to tell himself that he can’t keep her hostage, and yet he does. He knows she can help him, but convinces himself she’s safer locked in a small room with no clue as to what’s going on. While it’s true that she is safe there, she doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know what her captor wants or what he’s going to do, although she has her suspicions. Yet pretty much as soon as he lets her out of the room, she stays glued to his side. In fact, while she’s in the room, he ties her hands together and holds them, and she feels… desire. Uh, what? Even if she felt the slightest bit of attraction to him (they’d met several times previously), surely being held hostage by this guy, regardless of his motives, would have been enough to dampen her ardour. Apparently not.

So they’re now both trying to outrun an assassin and work out who’s trying to frame the soldiers. They get there in the end, but she ends up spending a week in hospital. He whisks her away after she’s released and proposes. So they’ve known each other less than a week and spent one night together, but he’s proposing.

I also noticed an error: Parker’s friend Sam interrupts them trying to get it on the first time and tells them to come upstairs, and they immediately go down to the lab… where everyone’s waiting for them. Not upstairs, as they were instructed!

I love the cover, but it doesn’t depict the characters of the book. Parker is described as having short hair and Becca is a redhead. Nope, not a winner for me, sadly.

Bring Me To Life by Kira Sinclair

bring me to lifeTitle: Bring Me To Life

Author: Kira Sinclair

Mills & Boon imprint: Blaze

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Florist Tatum Huntley

The hero: Army special ops soldier Evan Huntley

The blurb: Three years is a long time. Long enough for Tatum Huntley to leave heartbreak behind for the idyllic town of Sweetheart, South Carolina. Long enough to start over. Yet not long enough to forget the devastation left behind when he died. Her husband. The man whose touch haunts her… And the man who just walked back into her life.

All Evan Huntley wants is to get the woman he loves back in his arms… and his bed. While her love for him never died, Tatum can’t – and won’t – forgive Evan for letting her believe he was dead. For leaving her alone. But can she resist giving in to the exquisite passion that still burns between them?

Standalone or series: This is book 4 of the Sweetheart, South Carolina series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: I really enjoyed this book. I felt so badly for both Tatum and Evan. The army believed for several months that Evan really was dead, and when he finally got word he was alive he had already infiltrated a cartel in Colombia, so he chose not to let his wife know he was still alive in case he really was killed. Tatum has worked hard to rebuild her life; both she and Evan came from crappy childhoods and Tatum had already lost both of her parents, so Evan was the only person she had.

Tatum’s friends, whose stories are in previous books, are wonderful supporting characters. You can feel the desperation both husband and wife feel, the pull to be together again, but Tatum has a tough time trying to overcome the grief and loss she felt when she thought Evan was dead. Evan is charming and patient, and he gradually wears Tatum’s defences down to win his wife back.

One thing I did notice is that Evan and Tatum used each other’s names far too frequently when speaking to each other, but that is something which is quite common in books. However, it doesn’t detract from the book and this is one of the better Blaze books I’ve read. Worth a read.

 

Bridegroom Bodyguard by Lisa Childs

bridegroom bodyguardTitle: Bridegroom Bodyguard

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Law clerk/Nanny Sharon Wells

The hero: Former undercover cop & bodyguard Parker Payne

The blurb: Someone is trying to kill bodyguard Parker Payne. But what’s more shocking is the woman who shows up claiming he’s the father of her child. The baby boy is Parker’s spitting image, but how could he have forgotten a passionate encounter with this woman with caramel eyes?

Sharon Wells has raised Parker’s son since his birth. Now with a homicidal maniac coming after her and her son, it’s Parker’s unexpected proposal that may be the real danger. Sharon knows Parker just wants to protect them. But with passion flaring and a murderer intent on completing his personal mission, any distraction could mean the difference between life and death.

Standalone or series: This is part of the Shotgun Weddings series, and is also set in the same universe as the Bachelor Bodyguard series. You don’t have to have read the books before, but it helps.

The review: I’m a fan of Lisa Childs and the Payne universe she’s created. The Paynes are an awesome family and great fun to read about. We have Mama Penny Payne, who organises weddings and is determined to marry all of her children off as quickly as possible. Penny’s resolution to the situations her children get into is to marry. Then we have twins Logan and Parker, both former cops who run the Payne Protection Agency; Cooper, who works with them; and Nikki, the youngest, who is constantly trying to prove to her older brothers that she can be as good a bodyguard as them.

In this book, they also find out they have another half-brother in Special Agent Nicholas Rus; if I remember correctly, he’s eventually embraced by the Paynes and changes his surname to theirs (they all share the same father, a cop who was killed in the line of duty. He worked undercover and had a job protecting Nicholas’s mother, whom he unknowingly got pregnant. Penny knew about the affair but not the child).

Parker has just avoided being blown up by an unknown assassin when Sharon Wells turns up at his hospital bed with his nine-month-old son, Ethan. The blurb is a bit misleading because Sharon never actually says she is Ethan’s mother; it turns out the judge she was working for is the mother, but wasn’t particularly interested in raising her child, so she had Sharon raise him as his nanny. When the judge disappears, Sharon goes to Parker as instructed. They soon learn that the judge is dead, murdered, and that she has left Sharon guardianship of Ethan in her will.

Sharon is horrified at the thought of having to hand Ethan over to his father, and they soon learn they both have hits out on them for an obscene amount of money, so in order for them to ensure Ethan is not placed into care and that if something happen to one of them the other will retain guardianship, Penny suggests they legally marry right now. Since Parker finds himself attracted to Sharon and wants to protect both her and his child, he agrees. They’re married within 24 hours of meeting but aren’t out of danger yet.

It turns out that the judge is the reason they have hits on them, and they eventually work out the who and the why. They also realise they’re in love with each other and decide to stay married and raise Ethan together as their child.

I always enjoy reading books about the Paynes and this was no exception, but I did have a tough time swallowing how quickly Parker and Sharon fell for each other. I loved the character of Sharon and I could understand, given her history, why she felt safe around Parker and his family. But they really didn’t know anything about each other, and went through situations that would make even the toughest of people crazy. I also found the sex scene really sudden – it seemed to come out of nowhere.

The one thing that did drive me crazy was the constant reference of Parker being a ‘playboy’. Yep, I got it the first ten times. He even referred to himself as that when talking to his mother towards the end! I could have lived without that, but overall I enjoyed the book and must make a note to get a copy of Logan’s book (which comes before this one).