Review: Survival Instinct by Janie Crouch

survival instinctTitle: Survival Instinct

Author: Janie Crouch

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: TV show creator and writer Chloe Jeffries

The hero: Ex Special Forces soldier/bodyguard Shane Westman

The blurb: The voices in her head have decided to kill her.

Most people joke about hearing voices in their heads. For Chloe Jeffries, they’re real. And as the creative force behind one of the most popular shows on television, she has used the constant flood of voices in her mind to her advantage: fuel for entertainment.

But now one of the voices has decided it wants Chloe all for itself.

Ex-Special Forces soldier Shane Westman just wants to make it back to his ranch in Wyoming to begin to heal from the horrors of war. The last thing he needs, even as a favor for a good friend, is to take on bodyguard duty of a flighty television writer. But once he does, he realizes there are threats at play he doesn’t understand. And the woman who has somehow begun to thaw his frozen heart is in desperate danger from a menace they can’t see, but is always close.

Someone determined to be the last voice Chloe ever hears.

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

The review: This is the final in the trilogy about the Jeffries triplets, all of whom have a gift. Chloe is the creator of one of the biggest TV shows out, Day’s End, a paranormal show filmed in Black Mountain, North Carolina. As an aside, I was excited when I saw where it was set because I’ve been to Black Mountain several times on holiday and I love it there!

So Chloe, like her sisters Adrienne and Paige, has a gift. She can hear other people talking in her head. She has one voice in particular that bothers her; a man she refers to as Conversation Hearts because all he talks about is a woman he’s obsessed with. When he’s loud enough, Chloe screams in pain, blacks out and gets nosebleeds. She also has something else to worry about – someone is stalking the cast and crew of Day’s End and making threats.

Shane Westman is in Black Mountain after the recent death of his beloved grandmother, who raised him. He’s cleaning out the house he’s inherited when he’s asked to take a side job on the set of Day’s End for the private security firm he’s about to head to Wyoming to join. He’s reluctant at first, but eventually agrees to co-ordinate and head the security team until the stalker is caught.

Chloe very reluctantly allows security on set at the studio’s insistence. At first, Chloe tries to fire Shane. She doesn’t want him there because he rubs her the wrong way. She surrounds herself with the other writers on set – Nadine, her best friend since childhood; Travis, who’s been on the show for years and has recently started dating Nadine; and Justin, a temperamental, unreliable person who’s also a fabulous writer. She doesn’t want anyone else around her constantly, but Shane takes his job seriously and finds himself attracted to Chloe.

The attraction is mutual, even though Chloe doesn’t want it to be. It’s only because she’s fighting with Shane in the early hours of one morning that she avoids being killed when an explosion takes place on set, and combined with a few other near misses with the crew, Chloe realises they have to find this stalker, no matter what it takes.

The lead actress on the show is Alexandra Adams, and she’s all over Shane like a rash, which annoys Chloe to no end. When the threats become specific and Alexandra is targeted, Chloe has no choice but to give in to Alexandra’s demand that Shane personally guard her body.

Chloe doesn’t want to fall in love with Shane because she knows he’s heading to Wyoming once the stalker is caught. Shane doesn’t want to fall in love with Chloe because he doesn’t think she wants him to stay. Chloe realises that the voices become quiet when Shane is near her and she takes solace in that. She doesn’t want him to go.

All is revealed in the end. I was correct about the identity of the stalker, although I was surprised by the twist revealed when he was discovered. I was also correct about the identity of Conversation Hearts and the woman he was obsessed with (I so rarely get these things right when reading!), but there were quite a few possible suspects that it was hard to know for sure if you were on the right track. Another great book from Janie! This series is definitely worth reading.

Review: Critical Instinct by Janie Crouch

critical instinctTitle: Critical Instinct

Author: Janie Crouch

Year of publication: 2017

The heroine: Artist Paige Jeffries

The hero: Detective Brett Wagner

The blurb: Paige Jeffries is the darling of the art world. Her works are original, compelling. But after a brutal attack two years ago —a savage beating from an unknown assailant—Paige has become all but a recluse. She knows her mind is broken. In her sleep she’s drawing scenes of violence. Murders. Going to the cops isn’t an option because they already think she’s crazy. And they may be right.

Seasoned homicide detective Brett Wagner is asked to look into a cold case nobody wants: the assault and battery of a local artist who claims to have drawn a picture of her own attack before it even happened. He remembers shy Paige from high school, and is driven to find her attacker, to believe her when nobody else does, to protect the innocent beauty.

Because when he witnesses firsthand what Paige is drawing in her sleep, Brett realizes they are scenes from actual cases. Cases that had no connection until now. Portland has a secret serial killer, and Paige is somehow linked to his mind.

Standalone or series: Book two in the Instinct series, but can be read as standalone

The review: This book is about one of Adrienne’s sisters, Paige. Like her sisters, Paige has a gift – she can see auras. Every person has colours that surround them and Paige can see evil people because their auras are black.

Two years prior to the book opening, Paige was attacked by a man who nearly bashed her to death. He left her in a burning warehouse but somehow she managed to escape. In the two years after, she’s become a recluse, rarely able to leave her fortified house and be around people. Professionally, she is a talented artist whose paintings sell for a great deal of money, which means she can afford the round-the-clock security guards she has at her home.

The man who attacked her has never been caught. After her attack, Paige discovered she had another ability – she can draw in her sleep. Her pictures are so good they look like photos. Over the span of two years, she has drawn hundreds of pictures of women in her sleep – some of them are alive, some are dead. She doesn’t know who they are or why she’s drawing them, but it takes its toll on her. Like her sisters, she gets nose bleeds and becomes so weak she collapses.

Homicide detective Brett Wagner has moved back to Portland after spending fifteen years in Florida after the deaths of his parents and two sisters in a car crash when he was a senior in high school. Brett is asked by his father’s best friend, who happens to be the chief of police, to look into Paige’s cold case and see if he can spot anything others couldn’t. He knows Paige is hiding something after their first meeting, but he finds himself drawn to her.

Paige feels the same about Brett. They knew each other vaguely in high school – she knew his sisters – and his aura is peaceful: all blues and teals and purples. Slowly, she lets him in and trusts him, even when she knows how crazy her story sounds. In the early hours of one morning, Paige sleepwalks into the room where she draws and Brett follows her, where he watches her sketch a picture of a woman who soon turns up dead.

Brett and his partner, Alex, soon follow a lead that a number of dead women may be part of a pattern that links them to the same killer, the man who attacked Paige. Brett starts to believe that Paige should have died that night and that the killer will come back for her to finish what he started.

Paige eventually shows Brett the hundreds of pictures she’s drawn while asleep and with Alex, they realise they’re all of the same women who were killed by the man who attacked Paige. Eventually, Brett and Alex track down who he is, but not before he manages to kidnap Paige from right under their noses. Paige, who had already drawn a picture of herself dead, is determined not to let that picture come true and so she fights. The heroine wins and gets her hero. Yay! Another book worth reading 🙂

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!