Category Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants–except a happy ending. Or at least that’s what it feels like with his fortune recently liquidated, his niece, Esme, still missing, and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. In fact, he doubts she would date him even if they were stranded on a deserted island.

Despite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing niece goes unsolved. The only problem is, Sierra has solved it, but a promise to Esme to keep her whereabouts secret has made it impossible to be around Ian.

When the PEAK chopper is damaged and Sierra lacks the funds to repair it, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the three-day excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples the yacht and sends the passengers overboard. Shaken up and soaked to the bone, Ian finally has a chance to test his theory when he and Sierra do indeed find themselves washed up on a strange, empty shore.

It will take guts and gumption for the PEAK team to rescue the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and Sierra’s relationship.

(Back cover summary from Revell.)

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Oooh, I’ve been waiting for Sierra and Ian’s story for so long, and at last, it arrived! Ian and Sierra’s relationship has been—ahem, stormy—for this whole series. A series of roller-coaster-like ups and downs, and I was so ready for everything to be resolved. Susan May Warren doesn’t resolve things easily, though. This story is fraught with danger from the elements and danger in trusting in self to fix problems. The romance was better than even the snippets Susan had given in the previous books. I liked the different survival aspect that was brought in by the ocean, and finally getting some answers about Esme! I always appreciate the spiritual aspect of the books too. Ian is self-reliant, and it takes stripping everything—and I mean everything—away to see his need for God. Sierra’s a fixer and she feels as if she must earn her place in the lives of those around her. Both of these characters felt so real and unique, I frankly didn’t want their story to end—though I did want that happy ending, and boy, it’s a good one!

This story kept me up late. Like, glance-at-the-clock-oooh-that’s-not-going-to-be-good-for-tomorrow late. This book will not disappoint fans of Susie’s novels, and any newcomers will be in for an enjoyable ride.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

(Biography from Revell.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Blind Spot

Blind Spot

By Dani Pettrey

The Story

The Wrath is Coming. But They Don’t Know Where–Or When.

“The wrath is coming” were the final words that FBI agent Declan Grey heard the suicide bomber say. Now Declan is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after or when the threat will be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation’s best clue leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw for assistance. She’s sought justice for refugees and the displaced around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. As they work together to uncover the mounting threat, the tension between them also includes a spark she can’t deny–and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything more can develop, they find themselves in a race against time to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers)

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Any-current-crime-thriller-on-TV, you’ve got nothing on the Chesapeake Valor series! I have been closely following Dani Pettrey’s releases for a while now, because they are not something you would want to miss!

Dani combines suspense, espionage, terrorists, and near-death experiences in a way that reminds of the latest crime thriller on T.V., minus the immorality, language, and gore. I love how she keeps me reading, keeps me guessing as she weaves the plot. The side plot that continues throughout the book, bringing in different points of view from previous characters is also a part that I really enjoy. Dani is able to do this without detracting from the main plot.

I also love the romance element. Because this is a series, the groundwork for Declan and Tanner has already been laid, but comes to a head in Blind Spot, and it’s not something you want to miss!

What I admire most, is the outspoken faith element. These characters rely on each other, as friends, but rely on God more. It’s refreshing and energizing when compared to the many crime shows and novels available these days with nothing more to offer than entertainment.

I am eagerly anticipating the next release in this series, and I have a feeling it’s only getting better from here!

About the Author

Dani’s adventure-focused Alaskan Courage series climbed the CBA bestseller lists, with Submerged staying in the top twenty for five consecutive months. The five-book series also won multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others. She turns her attention to crime and law enforcement in her home state of Maryland in her new Chesapeake Valor series, starting with Cold Shot, which Library Journal called, “a harrowing and thrilling ride.” For more information about her novels, visit danipettrey.com.

(Biography from Bethany House Publishers)

I was provided a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Two of Us

The Two of Us

By Victoria Bylin

The Story

After two broken engagements, Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she’s focusing on God and her goal to join an international aid organization as a nurse practitioner. But when her 18-year-old sister, Lucy, calls with an invitation to her Vegas wedding, it throws a wrench into Mia’s plans.

Jake Tanner has recovered from the injuries he sustained as a police officer–on the outside. Inside, he’s yet to heal from losing his partner in the tragedy, but finds some solace in keeping an eye on her young adult son, Sam, who’s asked him to be best man at his wedding.

Mia expects a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn’t expecting Jake, who views the marriage a little differently. As Jake’s and Mia’s lives slowly become more intertwined, could his courage and her caring heart be enough to bring them a lifetime of healing?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers)

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Like Ms. Bylin’s other books, The Two of Us is a sweet, satisfying read. Mia is torn between what she believes serving God looks like and what her heart starts to feel. However, as she gets to know Jake and the other people in the community, she begins to learn what trusting God is all about.

That’s really what this whole book is about. It’s written from Mia, Jake, and Lucy’s point of view, and all three of them have to learn in different ways how to trust God above all else. Which is so relatable to everyone, isn’t it? Giving up our control and surrendering to God’s plan, whatever it might be, isn’t easy. But it’s right and He works it out in the end.

This book is so much more than what the back cover might lead you to believe. It takes you on a journey of faith, trust, and changing plans. I could relate on many different levels with Mia as she struggles with her decisions. It’s definitely a contemporary romance, but the faith element is what really drew me in.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Victoria Bylin writes contemporary and historical romances known for their realistic, relatable characters. Her work has finaled in contests such as the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her website at www.victoriabylin.com to find out more.

(Biography from Bethany House Publishers)

Still Life

Book Review: Still Life

Author: Dani Pettrey

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of Still Life:

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

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            Dani Pettrey is brilliant at what she does. I loved her previous series set in Alaska, and I’m finding that I like these just as much. Still Life is the second book in the series, and I would definitely recommend reading them in order, it helps to set up some of the relationships and dynamics that happen in this book.

Still Life is…chilling. Reading it at night is not recommended. I rushed through this book in the same break-neck pace that Dani sets, with each ending to the chapter begging me to continue reading. I love how each character has their specialty that they bring to the team, but they don’t have those because they’re just unnaturally good at them, they all have motivation and reasons. The setting is different than her other series, but where the wilds of Alaska and its animals were an issue, abandoned buildings and unstable people are just as dangerous in the Chesapeake Valor series. The mystery, suspense, and adventure are great in this series, but the romance keeps perfect pace with it.

Over all, I really enjoyed Still Life, and would definitely recommend it!

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her web site at www.DaniPettrey.com!

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Rescue Me

rescue-me-book-cover-final-smlBook Review: Rescue Me

Author: Susan May Warren

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website of Rescue Me:

When Deputy Sam Brooks commits to something, nothing can sway him–not just on the job but in his private life. He’s the one who stuck around to take care of his mother after his father’s accidental death. And he’s the one–perhaps the only one–who believes Sierra Rose is the perfect girl for him. Safe, practical, and organized, she’s nothing like her hippie, impulsive, bleeding-heart sister, Willow.

Willow, however, has been in love with Sam Brooks for as long as she can remember. But she wants her sister to have a happy ending. Besides, Willow has other things to focus on–namely, nabbing the job of her dreams. Best thing for her to do is to purge Sam from her heart.

Neither can predict the events that will bring them together in a fight for their lives in the forbidding wilderness of Glacier National Park. Stranded, injured, and with the winter weather closing in, Sam and Willow will have to work together to save a crew of terrified teenagers. As they fight to survive, they might just discover a new hope for love.

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            If I thought the first book of the Montana Rescue series was good, then this one is great. It’s hard to believe that Rescue Me only spans a week or two, but so much is packed into that time frame that it feels way longer.

Rescue Me is full of action and adventure. If it’s not a bear mauling—which, hello people? Stop going into the woods! Bears! *Ahem* Anyways. If it’s not a bear mauling, it’s a youth group that’s in serious trouble. I could NOT stop reading because each page brought a new challenge to the PEAK team and to Willow and Sam.

Per usual, Susan creates a great plot, with fantastic characters. Willow and Sam are not perfect by any means, which made me identify so well with them. Their struggles looked a lot like some that I’ve gone through, some questions that I’m asking myself right now. And how they learned about redemption and knowing more about God really taught me a lesson too. This novel dug down deep in my heart and planted truths there that I so appreciate. It’s rare, even in Christian fiction, that I read a book that actually changes me, but this one did.

The romance between the characters was spot-on, typical Susan May Warren writing. And the secondary characters, Jess and Pete, I loved, but I am still frustrated by them! C’mon guys, get your act together!

All in all, I really loved this book. With Susan’s writing, it goes beyond entertainment, down to the heart of a person, and that’s why I love her novels, and I love Rescue Me.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wild Montana Skies

wmskies-coverBook Review: Wild Montana Skies

Author: Susan May Warren

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website for Wild Montana Skies:

The last thing Search and Rescue helicopter pilot Kacey Fairing needs upon returning home to Mercy Falls, Montana, is to run into her mistakes. After a devastating crash during her recent military tour in Afghanistan, she is emotionally broken but ready to start putting her life back together. She just wants to reconnect with her teenage daughter and spend the summer working as the new lead pilot of PEAK Rescue in Glacier National Park.

But her mistakes aren’t so easily forgotten. Because Ben King is also back in town.

Country music star Ben King abandoned his past when he moved to Nashville thirteen years ago to start his career. He hoped to heal his broken heart, caused by losing the woman he loved. But when his father is injured, Ben is called home to help manage PEAK Rescue during his recovery. He doesn’t realize his father has ulterior motives until his old flame, Kacey, walks into his house and back into his heart.

Now, with Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben will have to work together to save lives. But when secrets are uncovered and old hurts rise to the surface, will they walk away again? Or can they find a different ending to their country love song?

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            I have been an avid fan of Susan May Warren for several years now, and it doesn’t look like that’ll change any time soon! I am so excited about her Montana Rescue series, and after reading the first book in the series, I have some reasons to tell you why you should be excited too!

  1. The spiritual themes.

In this book, Ben and Kacey have a lot to learn about forgiveness and trust and letting God take control of their lives. Susan writes in such a way that it was a lesson that touched my heart as well. She writes about God’s love and His desire to have us trust Him in a way that fills up the heart and points it towards Him.

  1. The unique characters.

I’m not sure how she does it, but in each book her characters are so different and varied that it never feels like you’ve read about them before. Ben King is a country music star. Kacey is a soldier who flies choppers. She is able to learn what that consists of for both characters and make it come alive on the page. As was touched on earlier, she also develops the characters in such a way that it’s hard to believe sometimes that they’re not real people. The romance is always well-crafted and tasteful, and the plot continues to thicken throughout the book.

  1. The small-town setting.

This seems to be her special niche, her forte. And she carries that through into these Montana Rescue books. All the characters live in the same town, they’re involved in each other’s lives. She writes about it in such a way that when you step into one of her novels, it feels like you’re coming home. This series, set in Montana, on the edge of Glacier National Park, promises to be full of suspense, danger, beauty, and fun.

So there you go. Three very good reasons why you too should read (and hopefully love!) Susan’s books, but specifically her latest, Wild Montana Skies.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tangled Webs

28637715Book Review: Tangled Webs

Author: Irene Hannon

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website for Tangled Webs:

Finn has packed away his combat instincts–but he may need them again when danger begins to stalk his quiet hideaway . . .

After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn’t on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana’s foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action–ready or not.

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            I’ve read a couple other books by Irene Hannon, which I’ve enjoyed, but this one just wasn’t for me. Neither of the characters really resonated with me, and the plot seemed to lag. Part of the problem was that the book is somewhat suspenseful, but the antagonist’s viewpoint is included in the book, so I knew whodunit and why. So, for me, it just didn’t work. However, I know plenty of other people have enjoyed this series, so that’s just one opinion among many.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and Sea Rose Lane, as well as the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, two Carol Awards, two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers’ Choice Award, three HOLT Medallions, two Booksellers’ Best Awards, and a National Readers’ Choice Award. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.