Category Archives: Contemporary Fiction

The Cost of Betrayal

The Cost of Betrayal

By Dee Henderson; Dani Pettrey; & Lynette Eason

The Story

FAITH WILL BE TESTED. TRUST SHATTERED.

THREE BESTSELLING ROMANTIC SUSPENSE WRITERS REUNITE

FOR NOVELLAS OF DEADLY BETRAYAL.

Dee Henderson – “Betrayed”

After serving six years of a twenty-year sentence for a murder she didn’t commit, Janelle Roberts is finally freed. But the truth is still waiting to be discovered, and a murderer is still at large. Janelle needs to be somewhere safe with someone she can trust. She may not survive another act of treachery.

Dani Pettrey – “Deadly Isle”

Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer before they become the next victims?

Lynette Eason – “Code of Ethics”

When Detective Isaac Martinez lands in the ER with a gunshot wound, he pulls through thanks to trauma surgeon Ruthie St. John. But as the witness to a crime and possible corruption, Martinez is at risk from someone intent on silencing him–and those around him–forever. When he barely survives another attack while recovering, both he and Ruthie must flee, trying to outrun deadly killers while locating the evidence they need to end the danger.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I’m afraid I just couldn’t get into the first novella. I think not having read the books connected to it was a disadvantage. I didn’t know the characters, and never really became invested in them. I think it was definitely a unique idea, and a good premise, but for me, there was just too much information about the whole process of investigating, pardons, and recovering after being falsely accused.

Dani Pettrey’s novella was thrilling. So much so that I couldn’t read it at night. Too creepy. I loved the idea of being cut off from help, and couldn’t help shuddering as the tale progressed. Callen is sweet and protective, and the perfect match for Tenni. And the twist at the end—so good! Despite stealing some of my sleep, I really liked Deadly Isle.

I’m not very familiar with Lynette Eason’s novels, but I’m about to change that! I really enjoyed that Ruthie’s job was a bit different than many of the suspense novel heroines out there. Her family was a super fun addition to the story, which definitely made me want to find out more about those characters.

Though I knew the theme of betrayal was going to weave throughout all of these novellas, it didn’t make it easy to guess who-dun-it! If you’re looking to lose some sleep, discover maybe a new-to-you suspense author, or be transported on a heart-stopping adventure, The Cost of Betrayal would be a great start.

About the Author

Dee Henderson is the author of numerous novels, including Taken, Undetected, Unspoken, Full Disclosure, and the acclaimed O’Malley and Uncommon Heroes series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at www.deehenderson.com.

Praised by New York Times best-selling author Dee Henderson as “a name to look for in romantic suspense,” Dani Pettrey has sold more than 400,000 copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Her novels stand out for their “wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters” (Publishers Weekly), “gripping storyline[s],” (RT Book Reviews), and “sizzling undercurrent of romance” (USA Today).

Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart.  She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband. Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons also reside in Maryland. For more information about her novels, visit danipettrey.com.

 

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Oath of Honor and Called to Protect, as well as the Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master’s degree in education from Converse College. Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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Falling for You

Falling For You

By Becky Wade

The Story

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

(Back cover summary from Amazon)

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Becky Wade’s storytelling just keeps getting stronger.

In Falling For You, Willow is a character I could identify with. She’s cautious and a rule-follower. She strives for perfection, but knows she’s fallen woefully short. Corbin is everything Willow is not. He’s wild and bold. A man who knows what he wants and is used to getting it. Their story is equal parts sweet and grounded as it plays out.

The theme of forgiveness, trust, and grace is so beautifully woven throughout this story. Willow is so used to striving for perfection, that accepting Jesus’ forgiveness for her mistakes as a Christian is difficult. I could identify with her struggle, and I loved how Becky resolved this. Then Corbin’s struggle of not really knowing if God was present in his life, and seeing how He was there, in all the moments, quietly working, was a great reminder that God does work. He may work slowly (from our point of view) or silently, but He is always, always at work in our lives.

I loved the mystery aspect of this story. Charlotte was a great character, and I definitely want to see more of her in the future.

This story ended with a hint at what was coming next—Britt’s story, which I am beyond excited for! What I love about Becky Wade’s books is that she’s able to bring it all. A great plot, unique characters, sweet romance, and a grounding in spiritual truths.

About the Author

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Christy Award, a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at www.beckywade.com .

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Love Letter

The Love Letter

By Rachel Hauck

The Story

Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.

When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.

(Back cover summary from Netgalley)

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The Love Letter is a split-time novel that follows the lives of strong, unique, and flawed characters.

I loved Hamilton and Esther’s story. It was intriguing reading how a young couple might handle the American Revolution and the trials it brought during their time. As they strive to hold onto each other and their love, they learn about themselves and the God who holds it all together. It was intriguing to watch how Rachel Hauck resolved their story.

I enjoyed Chloe and Jesse’s story, but I couldn’t get on board with it as much as the historical one. Chloe seemed rather overdramatic. However, I liked watching these two characters grow more. Their growth was more measured and I felt like I connected with that more than Hamilton and Esther.

I enjoyed this novel, but it didn’t grip me as many have this year.

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club. She is also the recipient of RT’s Career Achievement Award. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan. Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or www.facebook.com/rachelhauck.

(Biography from Amazon)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Just Let Go

Just Let Go

By Courtney Walsh

The Story

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out—and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town—and Quinn’s life—possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale Publishers)

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Just Let Go is another literary masterpiece from Courtney Walsh. The cover reflects the detail and beauty of this novel.

Quinn is someone who is very much in control. Grady likes to skirt on the edges of control, teetering on the brink. They’re polar opposite in many ways, so when they’re forced together, sparks naturally fly. I loved both of these characters. I identified with Quinn a lot, as someone who likes order, who has a plan, and ideas for how to get that done. As she changed, grew, and learned, I felt as if I was part of that journey and process. At the beginning, Grady’s flaws are as real and front and center as many of ours, but I thought Courtney Walsh did a great job of balancing his character out. He’s not a perfect hero, and that’s what makes him so great for this story.

Just Let Go explores past mistakes and wrongs done to us and looks at whether those are worth hanging on to. It takes a look at the grace of God and delves into messy family relationships.

Per usual, I loved Courtney’s latest, and can’t recommend it enough.

About the Author

Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. Just Let Go will be her eighth inspirational romance novel. Her debut, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. A creative at heart, Courtney has also written two craft books and several full-length musicals. She lives in Illinois with her husband and three children. Visit her online at www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

(Biography from Tyndale)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Theory of Happily Ever After

The Theory of Happily Ever After

By Kristin Billerbeck

The Story

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious–serious science, that is. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies, like why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

Filled with unforgettable characters, snappy dialogue, and touching romance, The Theory of Happily Ever After shows that the search for happiness may be futile–because sometimes happiness is already out there searching for you.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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I have to start off with the cover of this book. It is so cute and different! I liked the colors and felt that it really pinpointed the feel of this book overall.

The Theory of Happily Ever After is definitely a unique book. I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that had a scientist who specialized in the field of happiness science. I loved the idea of this book and was often grinning at the antics of the characters. However, as much as I wanted to love The Theory of Happily Ever After, it just wasn’t for me.

Maggie’s friends annoyed me more often than not. That may have been part of the intent, but I really started to not like them the further I got into the story. Maggie is a great character, but her internal thoughts took up a lot of the story at times, and I felt like it slowed the story down too much.

I did enjoy the dialogue between Maggie and Sam. I also loved the growth in Maggie’s character as she understood more about herself and her relationship with God. I also loved the realism in these characters. Their insecurities and the tangles of life are very down to earth, and I appreciated that.

However, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t quite get into the flow of this book.

About the Author

Kristin Billerbeck is the bestselling, award-winning author of several novels, including What a Girl Wants, Perfectly Dateless, and Perfectly Invisible. A Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year, Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in Northern California.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Storm Front

Storm Front

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Life and love hang in the balance during a deadly summer of storms.

A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community, and among the missing are not only a group of students but also PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved–and lost–walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn’t expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked–no, ran–from over a year ago. She had her reasons–good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn’t the kind of man to give up–not on the missing students or on her.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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At long last! The next installment of the Montana Rescue series. I’ve loved this series so far. It’s full of unforgettable characters, fast-paced-can’t-put-down plots, and romance that strikes just the right balance for me. What I love more than anything about this series is the faith journey Warren takes her characters on. It’s unforgettable, because it’s so similar to what we go through in real life.

I wasn’t sure how this book would be, because up until now, Ty has seemed like a background character. He’s sweet, yeah, and he’s helped Jess and has a tragic story behind why he’s not flying any more, but that was about it. Warren brings him to life in Storm Front.

Ty is sweet, kind, caring, and he never gives up. His goal is to rescue. As the story progresses, Ty must come to the realization that God loves and gives grace, not on the basis of all that we can bring to the table, but just as we are, in our most desperate and unlovely state.

Brette’s struggles are so raw and relatable. The storms she’s suffered makes her believe that only more struggles are on the horizon. Hope is too hard, too vulnerable for her to grab hold of. I loved how Warren worked through this in the story. Not giving easy answers, but really digging in and showing how we can trust God, even at the worst.

I also loved the continuation of Kacey and Ben’s story.

This Montana Rescue series installment is a little different, since it’s set in the Midwest, my stomping grounds. Tornadoes were a part of every summer growing up, so I felt as if I was home.

Storm Front is another don’t-miss from Susan May Warren.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota. Find her online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at Susan May Warren Fiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren .

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Things I Never Told You

Things I Never Told You

By Beth K. Vogt

The Story

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, forcing the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. Now a lone twin, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with the announcement of her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside Johanna, her opinionated older sister, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them…until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans for the future.

As old wounds reopen and the family faces the possibility of yet another tragedy, the Thatchers must decided if they will pull together or be driven apart for good.

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I’ve heard so much about Beth Vogt, but have never read any of her books until now. Which is interesting, because I’m generally not a Women’s Fiction reader. I usually tend toward contemporary or historical romance, which is what Beth has written in the past. But something about this story just grabbed me, and I knew I needed to give it a try.

Beth captures so beautifully the aches and pains, joys and triumphs of siblings, and specifically sisters. Things I Never Told You is written from both Payton and Jillian’s perspectives, which I really enjoyed.

I saw myself in each of these sisters, sometimes with a cringe as I realized the rough edges I still have to work on. I rarely ever get close to crying when I read, but I was tearing up with this book. The characters in this story are so compelling, that a plot was hardly needed in my opinion. I just wanted to know what would happen to them, because I saw myself in them.

I know that this book is the first in a series, but I do wish Beth had tied up a few more plot points. Especially the faith element. I would have liked to have seen more of that being resolved, but at the same time, leaving that part hanging may have been a good choice. Life is a process, as is faith, and I believe that Beth saw that as necessary for the character.

This book sucked me in and stayed in my thoughts. It was really my first foray into Women’s Fiction, and I loved it. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next in this series.

About the Author

Beth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A women’s fiction novelist, Beth’s first novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018.

Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

(Biography from Tyndale Publishers)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.