Sunday, May 29, 2016

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

I’ve long been a Becky Wade fan—from her first CBA title. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he's indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?

But Dru's a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She's also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray's stalker. And she's just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts—and their lives—to one another?

And now, my review:

The premise of this story threw me—a female working as a bodyguard for a pro football player. Now, granted we each have our own skills, and the author made the case for a female soldier early on, but I had a hard time engaging my suspension of disbelief. That said, once I got past that, I was able to get into the story. Later in the story the heroine earned my respect as a body guard. I liked that the author showed us her competence, more than simply telling us her qualification. 

The hero was not likable in the opening chapters. He was believable, but not likable. I felt we didn’t get enough of his history in order to sympathize with him early in the story. I also found us focusing too much on the couple’s physical attraction/chemistry in the opening chapters. This was hollow because there wasn’t any warmth between them yet. 

Still, the author’s storytelling kept me hooked and as the story warmed up, so did the reading experience. I did, however, have recurring trouble with the heroine’s name: Dru. I kept hearing the word as Drew in my head—not an instinctively female protag’s name. 

I enjoyed the author’s sense of humor. 

One of the themes is trust. Another was belonging. Each character’s future depended on the other character having success in one of these areas so s/he could have success in hers/his. I liked this element as a conflict. 

The tie-in to the movie The Bodyguard with a twist was enjoyable. Once I believed in her, I liked the idea of the heroine saving the hero. He didn’t lack strength in this story’s scenario, only skills to protect himself like a bodyguard would. So, we had a strong hero and a strong heroine. 

Another theme was an attempt to escape the past. Both of the main characters had reason to desire an escape. First they’ll have to face their pasts, then they’ll have to let go—another theme.


I really enjoy the behind-the-scenes cover shoots for Bethany/Revel/Baker book covers. Check out the video here. If I'm not mistaken, the author (Becky Wade) is providing the makeup for the model in the opening footage. These two models are husband and wife, which makes it more fun!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

I became a fan of Dee’s many years ago. Her romantic suspense novels hooked both me and my husband into devouring her books, one after another. I was glad to read this title for review.

Let’s begin with the summary:

She's turning up the heat on Carin County's cold cases . . .

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane grew up in Carin County and is now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have. . . .

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force focused on unsolved crimes across the state. She will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she studies old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths surprising connections. One way or another, she knows Gabriel Thane and his family will be key to the answers she seeks.

And now, my review:

Dee has such a strong sense of story. I liked the hint of romance at the beginning—with a pining MC. That hooked me right away.  

This author tells the story through dialogue, which would work for writing a movie script. However, at times the dialogue (like the sentence phrasing) was stilted. There is very little introspection in any of the many POVs, and therefore the characters didn’t feel very deep or individual. Sometimes the POV missteps and awkward sentence phrasing jarred me out of the story. And, for the most part, all of the characters (minus one or two) have the same voice. 

One of my favorite authors and writing friends gets a character named after her within. Loved seeing that! (*waving at Susie) We do get to see the characters’ competence throughout.  Dee is fantastic at including police procedurals. Watching this investigation unfold, I was fascinated. I don’t watch crime shows on TV, so I’m not exposed to these techniques very often. Loved that aspect. 

Sometimes, I found that the pacing dragged with redundancies and long stretches of dialogue. And I would have loved to see a strong romantic thread throughout. Still, I enjoyed this novel and kept coming back so I could finish it. 

I liked the aspect of survival. The spiritual threads, though subtle, were welcome and refreshing. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin

Great cover, huh? 

Let’s begin with the summary:

Single mom Julia Dare has a lot on her plate. A brand new Christian, she's busy trying to run her own business, spend time with her widowed mother, and raise her young son, Max, despite his father's less-than-ideal influence on him. When a big account from her event-planning business sends her to the Caliente Springs resort, she's shocked to come face-to-face with Zeke Monroe, the resort's general manager and her college sweetheart.

With his faith in tatters, Zeke Monroe is determined to keep the historic Caliente Springs resort running despite financial difficulties. But when Julia walks back into his life, he can't ignore the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client's dream wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. When Zeke and Julia are pushed to their limits both personally and professionally, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?

And now, my review:

I enjoy reading the work of insightful authors, especially when they include psychological elements. This story is a reunion romance, which I also enjoy. And we get to watch a parallel romance develop because we have more than the usual two POVCs. (Point of view characters.)

One thing I found missing as the renewing romance developed was a “why not” for the hero, which drained a bit of tension from the story.

Our hero is caught up in legalism and shame. He’s not “good enough” for God to accept him. He can’t pray hard enough or perform well enough to feel like a good witness for God. Many readers will relate with this.

The heroine is caught without the skills to overcome the effects of her abusive and manipulative ex. Readers will root for her, and many will relate with her.

I found some pacing issues where I scanned portions of the novel, as well as several POV missteps. Those elements jar me out of the story. But otherwise, I was engaged and read to the end. There is a lot to love about this novel.