Review: FACING FIRE by HelenKay Dimon

Title: Facing Fire (Bad Boys Undercover, #3)

Author: HelenKay Dimon

Category: Romantic Suspense

Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble

Reviewed by Amy

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Facing Fire by HelenKay Dimon is a fast paced, action packed romantic suspense. It follows Josiah from the Alliance and Sutton, a PI who stumbles across the Alliance while going after the same target as the group – Benton. He is an evil son of a gun and one that I despised more than most villains in the books I read.  Josiah and Sutton’s romance is back and forth but so dynamic due to the undeniable chemistry. It was quite a rush of a book. I was a bit tired after reading it.

If you have read any of Dimon’s other books in the series, you know the Alliance is a tight knit group backing one another up. In Facing Fire we see that so clearly with Sutton being tossed into the mix. I love watching a group of people stand together and fight evil. That’s what this team does. They sacrifice so much to protect so many.

Josiah is an interesting character. He has so much angst in him that it came off the pages while I was reading and was almost a bit too much at times, but then I can’t imagine going through what he has. Sutton is the perfect partner for him. She pushes him when he needs it, let’s him be when he needs some alone time and wants him for exactly who he is. She isn’t asking him to change. He need that strong companion. Dimon did a very nice job with their romance as well.

There are a lot of surprises in Facing Fire for the characters which adds to the excitement of the book. While we get Benton’s point of view, we don’t get the whole picture so we are just as surprised as the characters. Normally I am not a fan of the antagonist’s point of view, but Dimon does just enough in Facing Fire to show Benton’s crazy. Dimon does a fabulous job with the ending to the story as well. I was quite pleased!

If you like romantic suspense, give Facing Fire a read. While it is part of a series, each book is connected by characters while they each have their own plot. It’s a great story!

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Review: SUMMER BREEZE by Catherine Anderson

Title: Summer Breeze

Author: Catherine Anderson 

Category: Historical Romance

Source: Borrowed from library 

Review by Candy

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Rachel Hollister is in a prison of her own making. Ever since her family was slaughtered on a picnic, she has refused to leave her house. When her ranch foreman, Darby, is shot, he makes her nearest neighbor, Joseph Paxton keep an eye on her. Joseph is just doing the right thing by protecting Rachel but he can’t deny that he finds her beautiful. As these two slowly get to know each other, they both begin to fall for one another. Will Joseph be able to protect Rachel from am unknown enemy? Is this confirmed bachelor ready to settle down?

Having a degree in history makes me very picky about the historical fiction I do read, especially when it comes to historical romances. All too often they seem to be full if purple prose and weak female characters. Fortunately, Anderson defied my expectations on both accounts and I found myself staying up past my bedtime to finish this book.

At first glance, Rachel seems like a weak character imprisoned by her own fears. As the book progresses and Rachel slowly comes out of her shell, Anderson shows us just how strong she is. Rachel has to overcome her agoraphobia and other mental issues with no help from any professionals.
I loved the story of Joseph and his unsuccessful fight to remain a bachelor. Joseph doesn’t want to be tied down to just one woman. As he gets to know Rachel, though, thoughts of marriage and even children creep into his mind. It took Joseph a while but he finally realized that Rachel was his soulmate.

One of the best parts of the book was the suspense that was thrown in. Joseph and his brother, who is also the town marshall begin to investigate the shooting of Darby, which leads them back to the murder of Rachel’s family. I was actually surprised who committed the crime as I was convinced another character had done it.

Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson is the third book in the Keegan-Paxton Series but it can be read as a standalone. Anderson has penned a well written historical romance about overcoming your fears and living life. If you enjoy western/historical romances with some suspense thrown in, this book would be a good read for you.

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Review: THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give 

Author: Angie Thomas 

Category: Fiction

Source: Borrowed from library 

Review by Candy

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One fateful night Starr Carter decides to attend a party in her black neighborhood. It’s something she knows her parents would never allow and something she has never done before. When gun shots ring out at the party, Starr flees with her childhood friend, Khalil. Blocks from the party, Khalil and Starr are pulled over by a white police officer. The traffic stop ends with Khalil dead and Starr as the only witness who can say for sure what happened. Starr knows she need a to step forward but she also knows what she has to say has the potential to destroy her neighborhood. Will Starr testify about what happened? Can her community survive this racially charged incident?

I rarely read YA books because as an adult in forties, the subject matters are rarely things I can relate to. I do make exceptions every once in a while and this book is one of those times. After seeing the buzz on Litsy about this book, I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did because this is easily one of the best books I have read all year.

Thomas has given us a brutally honest look at race relations in our country. Her story telling looks at both sides of the story from both races. Through Starr we see her black community struggling with the aftermath of the shooting (one haunting image that has stayed with me: the description of tanks rolling through down her street as police try to stop the violence that has broken out) and the white view on the events via her friends as her affluent private school. Thomas’s unflinching presentation of the events during the traffic stop had me wiping away tears. Her descriptions of the protests that erupted had my heart racing as violence breaks out.

Thomas could not have created a better main character than Starr Carter. Starr straddles the two communities in her life and fluidly moves between both. As the story progresses, she realizes that that she has compromised who she is in order to fit in and be accepted at her private majority white school. Gradually, Starr finds her courage and her voice to stand up for her friend Khalil.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a fictional but all too real account of events that have happened in the U.S. Thomas doesn’t shrink from her subject matter and has written a heartbreaking novel of what it means to be a young black person growing up in America today. I encourage everyone, regardless of your political affiliation and what you think has happened in our country, to put aside those notions and read this book with an open mind.

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Review: THE KNITTING CIRCLE by Ann Hood

Title: The Knitting Circle 

Author: Ann Hood

Category: Women’s Fiction

Source: Borrowed from library 

Review by Candy

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Mary Baxter is devastated when her only child dies suddenly. At a loss for what to do with all the time that had been devoted to her daughter, Mary is encouraged to learn how to knit. Mary scoffs at the idea at first but when she finally joins a knitting circle, she slowly begins to heal. As the members of the group each teach Mary a new skill and tell their stories, Mary realizes she is not alone in her grief. But will she heal in time to save her marriage which is on the verge of collapse?

For those of you that have read my reviews in the past, you already know that the other hobby I am passionate about is knitting. I am a self taught knitter having learned how to cast on and do the knit stitch from my sister one vacation and learning the rest from YouTube videos. About four years ago, I wandered into my local yarn store and discovered that there was a Wednesday night knitting group, which worked perfectly with my work schedule. Since joining that group I have made some wonderful new friends and pushed myself to make more than just blankets and dish cloths, which is why this book resonated with me so well.

One of the aspects that Hood portrays so well in this book is the friendships that Mary makes in her knitting group. As you sit and knit, you start to talk and eventually share parts of yourself. The knitting group becomes your weekly therapy, that block of time that is just for you.
Hood does and excellent job of weaving in all of the stories of the knitters into one coherent tale. As each new background is revealed, I found myself becoming just as emotionally invested in the secondary characters as well as Mary.

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood is a standalone read. Hood has done a fantastic job of not only capturing knitting as a hobby but showing off the friendships within the group as well. If you enjoy women’s fiction, this book would be a good read for you.

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Review: KING OF CLUBS by Sandra Owens

Title: King of Clubs (Aces & Eights, #2)

Author: Sandra Owens

Category: Contemporary Romance

Source: NetGalley

Review by Candy

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Undercover FBI Agent Court Gentry has what he thinks is a perfectly good life. He enjoys his job and gets to work with his brothers on a daily basis. The only thing really lacking in his life is a woman he can love. Six years ago, Court met what he thought was the perfect woman on spring break. Lauren Montgomery was everything he could want and even though they had only spent a week together, Court knew he was in love. Without any explanation, Lauren broke off things when she returned home. Now Lauren is back in his life since her best friend is his sister in law. Lauren thought she was doing what was best for Court by protecting him from her violent ex-husband. Court doesn’t see it that way and is determined to protect Lauren from the scum bag this time around. Will Lauren allow the Gentry brothers to keep her safe? Will Court and Lauren get a second chance at love?

The Gentry brothers should be classified as lethal weapons. I thought Alex was potent book boyfriend material but Court might just be a slight bit more potent. Owens has created a powerful hero in Court, with his love for Lauren and his strong moral code.

Lauren’s story was hard to read especially when Owens wrote about her marriage. Lauren was so innocent when she met Stephen, her ex, and he treated her so cruelly. What she suffered through that ended when Stephen landed in jail broke my heart. I loved how Lauren put her life back together after that encounter and has become a successful and strong woman.

The chemistry between Lauren and Court is intense. In the previous book, Lauren and Court spent their time snapping at each other. In this book, once they admit they still have feelings for each other, all bets are off. Court certainly knows how to make Lauren happy both inside and outside the bedroom.

King of Clubs by Sandra Owens is the second book in the Aces and Eights series but it can be read as a standalone. Just like the first book, Owens has created another hot alpha male hero who will stop at nothing to protect his love interest. If you like contemporary romance or romantic suspense, this book and series would be a good read for you.

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Review: ALL THERE IS by Violet Duke

Title: All There Is (Juniper Hills, #1)

Author: Violet Duke

Category: Contemporary Romance

Source: NetGalley 

Review by Candy

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After surviving a fire that destroyed her family and left her young step-brother dead, Emma Stevens moves with her sister to Juniper Hills for a fresh start. In this small town, known for producing luxury and unique yarns, Emma doesn’t have to worry about her past. When her bakery floods after a broken pipe, a strange contractor shows up to place a bid on doing the repairs. To Emma’s horror, the contractor is none other than Jake Rowan, who started the fire that cost Emma her family. Jake served his time for a crime he didn’t commit by trying to protect his brother, who was thought to have a better future than Jake did. Jake had no idea that Emma even lived in Juniper Hills and is ready to leave town as soon as he realizes who she is. Emna convinces Jake to stay to not only fix her bakery but to remodel the library that her sister works at. As Emma and Jake become reacquainted with each other, the attraction they felt as teenagers reemerges. Can these two move on from their pasts and find happiness in each other?

Jake’s story was very hard to read. It angered me that his father thought so little of Jake that it was okay if Jake went to juvenile hall for a crime he didn’t commit. To top it off, Jake suffered even further by his own mother refusing to even visit him while he served out his sentence.

Emma’s story is filled with survivor’s guilt. When the fire broke out her and Jake went back in the burning house to rescue her sister and step-brother. Unfortunately her step-brother dies in the fire and Emma is riddled with guilt that she didn’t do enough to save him. It takes talking with Jake about that night to understand that there wasn’t anything she could do.

All There Is by Violet Duke is the first book in the Juniper Hills series. Duke has written a powerful story about forgiveness and moving on when tragedy strikes. If you enjoy contemporary romance, this would be a good read for you.

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Review: VANISHING ACT by A.M. Madden

Title: Vanishing Act

Author: A.M Madden

Category: Contemporary Romance

Source: NetGalley 

Review by Candy

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Hollywood superstar, Landon Price has had enough of being a celebrity. The latest movie he just finished filming was full of nothing but drama and he is still mourning the death of his brother. Deciding he needs a break from it all, Landon disappears to a remote Hawaiian town to recharge his batteries. What Landon didn’t count on was meeting Zara Jobart, a local resident, whom Landon finds himself immediately attracted to. Zara has no clue who Landon is and he is just fine with that. What will happen when Zara discovers the truth? Will Landon return to Hollywood or give it all up for Zara?

I loved the banter between Zara and Landon. Both of these characters have as good as they got. There were several times in the book that I found myself laughing out loud at their conversations. The star of this book though is Zara’s dog, Marshmallow, or Spike as Landon renames him. Spike runs away one day and finds Landon, which is how he meets Zara. Anytime Spike is in a scene, he completely steals it with his cute antics.

I also enjoyed how much detail Madden put into the secondary characters and the town of Lanai. The characters were so vivid and made for an interesting backdrop to the main story of Zara and Landon. It is too bad the town of Lanai doesn’t actually exist because I would definitely add this to my bucket list of places to visit if it did.

Vanishing Act by A.M. Madden is a standalone romance. Madden put her own spin on the rich/famous hero meets small town girl and creates a fabulous world that you wish was real. If you enjoy contemporary romance, this book would be a good read for you.

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