Review: The Moscow Deception by Karen Robards

ublished June 12th 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton        ASIN B0723HDKHJ

Series: The Guardian #2                                              Rating:  5*

Bianca St. Ives makes her living as a high-end thief and a genius of disguise, conning criminals out of the money they stole – and all for the greater good. A femme fatale Robin Hood, she’s been taught everything she knows from her father. Since their last heist gone bad, Bianca has taken over running the family business, it’s not just Richard St. Ives on most-wanted lists, but Bianca, too.

After faking his own death, the word is out that Bianca’s father is, in fact, alive, and having just pulled off a major heist in Austria, he has a dangerous task for Bianca that will see her traveling to Russia to steal ancient jewels and artifacts. But now all eyes are on Bianca, and escaping international pursuit will be harder than ever. And especially her drop dead gorgeous pursuer.

I have to say – I am so LOVING this series!   There is nothing better than a kick-ass bad-ass heroine and Bianca St. Ives fills the role to perfection!  Kudo’s to Karen Robards for her art of making one truly feel the emotions of the characters she creates.  Along with Bianca, her enigmatic pursuer is surely a darn hottie and perfect for her but for some reason he can’t seem to hold on to her!   Add to that her extremely capable staff and ‘DOC’ her IT genius and it’s hard to stop her no matter how insane her escapades end up as the entire world – wants to kill her!  Ah, but that is the mystery isn’t it ?

Marilyn Rondeau

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REVIEW: The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

Kindle Edition, 368 pages                               Published June 13th 2017 by MIRA

Series:   The Guardian #1                                 Rating:  5*

Thief. Manipulator. Con artist. Call it what you will—Bianca St. Ives is the best in the business. Additionally, I shall also add that the author and creator of ULTIMATUM is a master story teller and gave me hours of entertainment in the listening of this audiobook.   And more importantly, I discovered it is Book ONE of the GUARDIAN Series and I fully intend to read the next two installments in the very near future.  

Growing up, Bianca St. Ives knew she was different from all her friends. Instead of playing hopscotch or combing her dolls’ hair, she was sent to study martial arts with sensei masters and dismantle explosives with special-ops retirees. Her father, a man with many identities,  prepped her well to carry on the family business. Now a striking beauty with fierce skills, the prodigy has surpassed the master.

Working with her father, she makes a living swindling con men out of money they stole. She also does things on her own terms. But her latest gig went FUBAR—if you count two hundred million dollars and top secret government documents going missing and seeing her father blown up during the mission. The problem now is, the US government doesn’t believe he’s really dead. They’ll stop at nothing to capture Richard St. Ives, a high-value target and someone who has been on most-wanted lists all over the world for over two decades.  The people don’t really know that much about using Bianca as bait but know she could lead them to Richard St. Ives.   With only a fellow criminal for backup and her life on the line, it’s up to Bianca to uncover the terrifying truth of who Richard St. Ives is and discover truths of her own life to set it right, before it’s too late. 

This was an absolute rush of entertainment pleasure with an amazing pace and suspense that kept me listening avidly way past my bedtime.   Great imagery and descriptive language of visualizing all the many tools of the trade and setting the scenes of each exploit.   Can’t wait to follow up on this series!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Dark Storm by Karen Harper

Paperback, 384 pages                Published May 28th 2019 by Mira Books

ISBN13: 9780778369455           Series:  South Shores #6

RATING: 4*

This was a first time author for me and DARK STORM is part of a series which I hadn’t been following.  So with that in mind, I can tell you that this book can be read as a stand alone but with understanding that as you read there are references to past events that clue you in to that fact.

Evidently, forensic psychologist Claire Markwood has experienced her share of adventures, but she was not prepared for her sister, Darcy, going missing. Claire rushed to the butterfly sanctuary where Darcy had been working, prepared to do what she does best–work the clues. But her sister, along with her car and some of the sanctuary’s rarest species of butterflies, has seemingly vanished without a trace. 

Working the clues Claire and her criminal lawyer husband Nick uncover leads and secrets that turn out to be a bit unsettling to say the least.  Some of which were real twists of their family history.  Along with the search for her sister Darcy, Claire was also worried that the trauma her daughter had experienced a year before was beginning to create another emotional set-back to her fragile daughter’s psyche. 

What you will find in this stellar read is a roller coaster of emotions as the clues lead Claire to one of the most  surprising and edge of the cliff endings.  

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

AreYouSleeping

Hardcover, 336 pages                        Published August 1st 2017 by Gallery Books

ISBN13: 9781501157660                      Rating: 4-1/2*

Josie Buhrman has for the last ten years hidden and trying to escape the dysfunctional and tragic family she grew up in.  After her father’s death and her mother’s abandonment to run away and join a cult leaving her and her twin sister Lanie to live with an Aunt, life had never been the same.   Lanie, her other half did a one-eighty and spiraled out of control getting int all sorts of trouble, but what truly blew the closeness the twins once had was a betrayal Josie simply could not forgive.

Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York with the love of her life, best friend and live in partner Caleb.  It’s taken a long time for Josie to develop the kind of close attachment she has with Caleb, but when a phone call from her cousin comes thru begging Josie to come home for her long lost mother’s funeral, her first though was that her carefully constructed life of lies was finally going to have to be explained.

An investigative reporter Poppy Parnell was running a ‘True Crime’ episode of the murder and supposedly false imprisonment of the person who was charged with her fathers murder.  The podcast had become a hit and in an effort to keep Caleb from learn the truth she again lied and left for the mid-west in order to attend the funeral of the mother who abandoned her and her sister.

***  This was a really great read with characters i found to be pretty much fleshed out and eventually discovering all the secrets both twins had buried deep from the tragic night of their father’s murder.  I’m sure a psychiatrist would delight in reading this tome for great examples of how one buries trauma from their mind.

The story was fast paced and very interesting with a plethora of high emotions, blame, betrayals and mental instability.   Bottom line is that this was a very enjoyable read .

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

WatchMeDisappear

Hardcover, 368 pages                             Publication: July 11th 2017 by Spiegel & Grau

ISBN13: 9780812989465                          Rating 5*

Billie Flanagan was a beautiful woman, a free- spirit, charismatic with a picture perfect life. She had a brilliant beautiful daughter Olive and Jonathan, a husband who loved her!  Now it has been a year since Billie went on a solo hike in the Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail.  After weeks of searching the only things found are one of her hiking boots and a smashed cell phone.   No body!  And with no body, no closure, no burial, a husband and father desolate now turned to drink; and her determined that her mother is alive and sending her messages from the unknown to come and find her.

Olive’s dreams / hallucinations or whatever they are have convinced her that her mom is alive and she must try to interpret the messages she receives as clues to help her on her search for her mother. Except some of the clues lead to secrets that Billie had kept – shaking the very foundation of the pedestal which Olive and Billie’s husband had kept Billie on!

*** I have to say that this was a very interesting premise on a disappearance plot.   Naturally you have lots of red herrings that pop up all over the place but with Billie though one never gets to actually meet her as the story starts with her disappearance and small background glimpses of a person who appeared to have it all!   Billie did inspire loyalty though with the friends she did have.  Though I question the relationship of friend with regard to Billie whose so called friends kept a few facts from Jonathan that might have helped him determine the person Billie was.

The suspense was palpable and kept the action going. Whether you warmed up to Jonathan or not, who partially neglected his daughter as he drowned his grief with work and drink one can empathize with him – to a certain extent.   However, Olive was another matter. As a young teenager Olive needed her mom so much that the visions she was having (believe or not) were traumatic and to not be believed was even worse.    What was real, what was not.   What did the visions mean and where did they lead.  Had Olive followed them correctly and what would she find behind the door of the beach cottage all the clues lead her to?

Bottom line:  You will just have to read this very good thriller to find out!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

 

Review: Bring Her Home by David Bell

BringHerHome

Kindle Edition, 432 pages                                  Expected publication: July 11th 2017 by Berkley

ASIN:    B01MAY1TSV                                      Rating:  5*

Still reeling a year and a half after the death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.

Devastated, Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body.  The only sound she makes is one word – No.  In fact, the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he lets his mind imagine what happened and who could have done this horrific damage to another human being. He’s also beginning to wonder, if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter.

When Bill discovered new information about Summer’s life Bill is shocked to discover things about both his wife and daughter that begin to tear him apart….

***  Wow, wow, and wow!  BRING HER HOME is definitely one of the harder books I’ve read to put down without wanting to finish in one sitting.  The suspense was tremendous wondering if the injured girl would recover, never mind the fact that Bill had to attend Summer’s best friend Haley’s funeral which was an emotional moment where I needed a tissue.

Going through the psychological roller coaster along with Bill kept the emotions high and exciting. In fact, just when you thought – ah so that’s the answer – another issue would pop up sending you off to try and discover and digest the new information.  While reading you might think you know the answers but believe me, the TWIST is waiting for you when you least expect it.

Bottom Line:   Awesome read keeping the suspense high as well as the readers emotion.   VERY highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Carnal Innocence

Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte Length: 17 hrs and 55 mins

Unabridged Audiobook Release Date:04-06-12

Publisher: Recorded Books Rating: 5*

In CARNAL INNOCENCE author Nora Roberts has created a mesmerizing tale of madness, murder, and love in a small southern town of the bayou.  Put into play is Caroline Waverly, a beautiful world renowned concert violinist who is still fragile from both a public breakup and private breakdown after witnessing her lover with another.  Caroline, has left the concert circuit escaping to her late grandmother’s home in Innocence, Mississippi.   However instead of the peace and tranquility she expected, she found a town reeling from two vicious and heinous murders. And, if that weren’t enough Caroline discovers a third victim on her property.

Enter Caroline’s devastatingly handsome bad-boy neighbor – Tucker Longstreet.  Big, beautiful with a devilish grin and the sexiest southern drawl ever.  But for some reason, Tucker makes Caroline feel safe even though his reputation for breaking hearts has put him at the top of the suspect list, seeing as how he was connected to each of the murdered women.

***  Lordy, lordy, but I have listened to Tom Stechschulte before and I have to say that NO ONE does sexy Southern drawls like Mr. Stechschulte!  He is a master of making a written hero pop to life as one very SEXY heart throb – just by hearing that rich southern interpretation.   Wow!  And let me also say that the sensuality both actual and implied was steaming all the way through to the very end!

Now mix that with exquisite storytelling by Nora Roberts and you have a perfect combination that will force you to keep listening way into the middle of the night and then turning it back on as soon as you wake up!  Be it children, heroes or heroines, pets, even nasty villains  – Ms. Roberts writes the books that grab you and simply won’t let you go.    Loved every minute of this audiobook, the outstanding performance of Mr. Stechschulte and the entire cast of characters who made this ‘very hard to put down’  and immensely satisfying book!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Gunmetal Gray by Mark Greaney

gunmetal-gray

ASIN:   B01FEY5ETS

Series:  The Gray Man #6 Rating:  5*

After five years on his own running away from the CIA which had at one time had a Terminate order on him, Court Gentry is back on the inside of the CIA. Regrets – he’s got a few –   especially after his first mission brings out a pair of Chinese assassins who try to take him down in Hong Kong. Normally the Chinese prefer to stay eyes-only on foreign agents. So why are they on such high alert?

Right from the get-go, Court has the feeling that he doesn’t have the ‘whole story’ regarding the mission he’s been sent on.   When he discovers that his old friend and former handler, Donald Fitzroy is being held hostage by the Chinese, Court is forced to make a deal where by he can try to save Fitzroy’s life and still complete discover the whereabouts of his CIA target, a highly capable Chinese hacker called  Fan Jing.  The problem the CIA wants Fan working for him and the Chinese want Fan DEAD!However, there are more complications than one can shake a stick at because everyone one wants a piece of Fan including the Russians, the Vietnamese, the Thai drug cartel, and even Taiwan.

***  Mark Greaney has been a favorite author of mine since I first discovered him with his debut novel of the Gray Man and each successive book in this series has just gotten better and better.  With so many people all looking to find and capture Court’s quarry the action never stops or lets up.  It’s one dangerous adventure after another.  However, this is the first time I have actually seen Court become somewhat involved with another agent and it makes for questions as to maybe – Court has found a partner?

Enough said!  All I can say is Mark Greaney continues to deliver and I am just waiting for someone in Hollywood to pick up this book series and realize what a fabulous TV or Movie series this could be made into!  Move over Jason Bourne – there is definitely a new kid on the block!!!   VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose

everydarkcorner

Series: Cincinnati Series #3         ISBN -13: 9780755390052         624 pages

Expected publication: February 7th 2017        by Headline            RATING:   5*

Welcome back to the latest book (#3) in Karen Rose’s fabulous Cincinnati series.   Having started with the very first book in this series, I must admit that I am totally emotionally invested in seeing this entire series through to the end.   The act of human trafficking and sex slaves is abhorrent, but when it involves young children the act becomes even more despicable.  This set of stories follows the brave men and women who are determined to stop and shut down the monsters who perpetuate these foul acts against humanity.

FBI Special Agent Griffin “Decker” Davenport finally wakes from a medically induced coma.  His brain is a bit fuzzy but slowly he remembers the desperation he needs to remember moron order to find the missing children he knows are in danger. Just at the end of his last undercover investigation, Decker had thought it was all over.   Just before the case would have been closed, Decker discovered not everyone had been rescued, but he was severely shot and was unable to tell anyone that the case couldn’t be closed. .

Special Agent Kate Coppola had recently been assigned to Cincinnati and had a hand in saving Decker’s life and took it upon herself to sit by his hospital bed while listening to the tapes that Decker had recorded while undercover.   She has been trying to piece together the crime he was investigating and growing closer to the agent she was finding more and more attractive as time went by.   Thankfully it was Kate who realized that there were missing pieces and and Decker’s life was in danger and when someone tried to poison him in the hospital Kate was able to save him before it was too late.

Not only were Kate and Decker the main characters in book #3 but anyone following the series would be happy to see and enjoy the interaction of secondary characters that were introduced in the first two books of the series.   Actually I do believe EVERY DARK CORNER could stand alone but if you want my advice I would highly suggest reading them in order so that the reader enjoys seeing how the previous characters are making out as time marched on.

Bottom line:   EVERY DARK CORNER is a remarkable book that is packed with non-stop suspense and action.  Ms. Rose’s villain is a master of disguise and a genius at staying one step ahead of the authorities.  The chase is on with very little to go on and the suspense is amazing because of the cleverness of said villain.   Highly recommended!

Marilyn Rondeau