*Quarter to Midnight by Karen Rose


*Quarter to Midnight by Karen Rose
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Good cops. Bad cops. Only one will win.

After completing her tours with the Marines in Iraq, Molly Sutton knew she could take down any bad guy she met. But when a family tragedy exposes the dark side of her local police, she joined up with her former CO Burke Broussard, who left New Orleans PD to set up a private investigative service for people who couldn’t find justice elsewhere.

Gabe Hebert saw the toll that working for the NOPD took on his dad and decided instead to make a name for himself as one of the best young chefs in the French Quarter. But when his father’s death is ruled a suicide after a deliberately botched investigation by his former captain, Gabe knows his dad stumbled onto a truth that someone wants silenced.

Gabe goes to his father’s best friend, Burke, for help. Burke assigns the toughest member of his team, Molly, to the case. Molly can’t believe she’s being asked to work with the smoking hot chef whose chocolate cake is not the only thing that makes her mouth water. Sparks fly as they follow the leads Gabe’s dad left them, unraveling a web of crimes, corruption, and murder that runs all the way to the top.

New Orleans is a hotbed of intrigue in this suspenseful and delightful story. There are dirty cops, many unanswered questions and so many people dying that it’s hard to know who to trust. The two main characters, Gabe and Molly, are realistic and literally jump off the page in this wonderfully written story.

Gabe finds it impossible to believe his father has committed suicide and Gabe and Molly are brought together when he hires Molly to investigate his father’s death. Sparks immediately fly between these two from the moment they meet. Neither Gabe nor Molly has been lucky in love, until they meet. Unfortunately, they are so busy trying to solve this case they have little time for romance or getting to know each other. Gabe and Molly are running for their lives while they try to solve a crime and find the mastermind behind all the killings happening every time they turn around.

I loved everything about this story. It has suspense and romance, which is my favorite trope and Karen Rose did a wonderful job of keeping me on the edge of my seat. This story was intriguing and had me quickly turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

*Grace Under Fire by Julie Garwood


*Grace Under Fire by Julie Garwood
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Grace Isabel MacKenna has a hundred things to do today. Killing someone isn’t one of them. It is supposed to be a quick visit to Boston for the Buchanan anniversary party, then on to Scotland to collect an inheritance. She checks into her hotel and then decides to go for a brisk walk. But after getting lost, she ends up with a wounded man stumbling into her arms—and his shooter coming after them both. When she fires back in self-defense, she doesn’t expect him to drop dead. After Isabel endures an interrogation by police, she is free to go, thanks to the Buchanans dispatching former Navy SEAL and now lawyer Michael Buchanan to assist her.

Isabel knows she should be grateful for Michael’s help, but since she’s harbored an extreme dislike for him for years, gratitude is difficult to muster. Michael has appointed himself her de facto guardian, and she’s stuck with him despite their constant bickering and sizzling attraction. Even when Isabel goes to Scotland to claim her inheritance, Michael follows her—but he isn’t the only thing she can’t shake. Mysterious threats against Isabel surface, and before they can deal with their growing feelings for each other, Michael and Isabel must first survive.

Grace Under Fire is an intriguing story filled with romance and suspense. Even though the two main characters, Michael and Isabel, are very different from each other, they find it impossible to ignore the chemistry flowing between.

This is another engaging story centering on the Buchanan family. I love reading about this big, boisterous family, because they add so much entertainment and I especially enjoy all of the banter between all of them.

Michael, a former Navy Seal, is now an attorney. He is a high achiever, who is meticulous, organized, goal oriented and always knows exactly what he wants, and he goes after it with a single-minded focus. Even though Michael is so rigid, I still found him endearing.

I enjoyed how Michael and Isabel played off of each other. They are so different from one another that they have a hard time understanding how the other one thinks. Michael intimidates Isabel because he has achieved so much in his life, whereas Isobel has taken a more relaxed approach to her life.

Isabel and Michael are meant for each other, but it takes them a while to figure it out. It is fun watching them try to fight their attraction to each other, while everyone around them is placing bets on how long it will take them to get together.

Even though Isabel has her head in the clouds, she is immediately liked by everyone. She is sweet and innocent, and she takes an interest in everyone she meets. Isabel doesn’t give a thought to her safety and takes some unnecessary risks, which drives Michael crazy, because he is protective by nature. When someone is after Isabel, Michael takes protecting her very seriously. In fact, his whole family gets involved in trying to keep Isabel safe. I enjoyed this engaging story. It has entertaining characters, suspense and also some light and funny moments.

*Remember Love by Mary Balogh


* Remember Love by Mary Balogh
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

The handsome and charismatic Earl of Stratton, Caleb Ware, has been exposed to the ton for his clandestine affairs—by his own son.

As a child, Devlin Ware thought his family stood for all that was right and good in the world. They were kind, gracious, and shared the beauty of Ravenwood, their grand country estate, by hosting lavish parties for the entire countryside. But at twenty-two, he discovered his whole world was an elaborate illusion, and when Devlin publicly called his family to account for it, he was exiled as a traitor.

So be it. He enlisted in the fight against Napoleon and didn’t look back for six years. But now his father is dead, the Ware family is broken, and as the heir he is being called home. It’s only when Gwyneth Rhys—the woman he loved and then lost after his family banished him—holds out her hand to help him that he is able make the difficult journey and try to piece together his fractured family.

It is Gwyneth’s loyalty, patience, and love that he needs. But is Devlin’s war-hardened heart even capable of offering her love in return?

Being honest changes the course of many people’s lives in Mary Balogh’s newest book, Remember Love. I loved everything about this heartbreakingly beautiful story. It immediately drew me in and all the characters are realistic and easy to connect with, including the two main characters, Dev and Gwyneth. Mary Barlogh is a wonderful storyteller and she writes an emotional story set in the 1800’s. I felt as though I was right there with the characters, and I never wanted this story to end.

Dev is the perfect hero, and he goes through many changes in this story as he grows into a man. He is devastated when he discovers the people he loves aren’t perfect. Dev is serious, honorable and he can be inflexible. He is honest and expects honesty from everyone else. Unfortunately, he discovers the world isn’t always good or bad or black and white. Things aren’t always as they seem and people don’t always want to acknowledge the truth.

Dev and Gweneth have been neighbors for years and just when they finally admit their feelings for each other, they are torn apart. Both Dev and Gwyneth are so easy to like. They are perfect for each other and all their interactions are filled with yearning. Their story is emotional, heartbreaking and wonderful and it also has light and funny moments.

There are many entertaining characters in this story, including the townspeople and Dev’s family. Dev comes from a large family and each one of them has a unique personality. I’m hoping MB’s future stories will be about them. This is a passionate story filled with intrigue and complex and entertaining characters. I really enjoyed reading this one.

*Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin


*Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin
The Texas Murder Files Book 3
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

After a scandal derails her television reporting career, Macey Burns comes looking for a change of pace in Lost Beach, Texas. She’s ready to focus on her first passion—documentary filmmaking—and has a new job working for the island’s tourism board, shooting footage of the idyllic beachside community. Her plans for a relaxing rebound are dashed when she realizes the cottage she’s renting belonged to the woman whose body was just found in the sand dunes.

Detective Owen Breda is under intense pressure to solve this murder. Violent crimes are rising in his small town, and he can’t stand to see anyone else hurt…especially not the beautiful documentarian who keeps showing up at the precinct.

With the clock ticking, cameras rolling, and body count climbing, Macey and Owen must use all their resources to find the killer without getting caught in the crosshairs.

Lost Beach, a sleepy little beach town in Texas becomes the scene of a grizzly murder. I was excited to read Laura Griffin’s newest book, Midnight Dunes because she knows how to write a suspenseful story, with just the right amount of romance. Laura Griffin is one of my favorite authors and she never disappoints me when I read her books.

The two main characters in this story, Owen and Macy, are brought together when Macy is hired to film a tourism film for Lost Beach. Owen works as a detective in the small town and is working on the case of the murdered woman. From the moment they meet, Owen and Macy have sizzling chemistry however, their careers leave them little time for romance.

I liked everything about this intense story. It drew me in and never let me go. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I had no idea who the killer was until the very end. The characters are believable and likeable. There is tension whenever they are together and I enjoyed all of their interactions. The dialogue is realistic, the pacing is perfect and the plot is intriguing and has many twists and turns. This story held me spellbound and I was quickly turning the pages to find out what would happen next. I could feel the tension as Owen and his team race to discover who killed the murdered woman. This story is a exhilarating and hard to put down.

*Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin


*Last Seen Alone by Laura Griffin
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Up-and-coming attorney Leigh Larson fights for victims of sexual extortion, harassment, and online abuse. She is not afraid to go after the sleaziest targets to get payback for her clients. Leigh is laser-focused on her career—to the exclusion of everything else—until a seemingly routine case and a determined cop turn her world upside down.

Austin homicide detective Brandon Reynolds is no stranger to midnight callouts. But when he gets summoned to an abandoned car on a desolate road, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with an unusual crime scene. A pool of blood in the nearby woods suggests a brutal homicide. But where is the victim? The vehicle is registered to twenty-six-year-old Vanessa Adams. Searching the car, all Brandon finds is a smear of blood and a business card for Leigh Larson, attorney-at-law.

Vanessa had hired Leigh just before her disappearance, but Leigh has no leads on who could have wanted her dead. Faced with bewildering evidence and shocking twists, Leigh and Brandon must work against the clock to chase down a ruthless criminal who is out for vengeance.

Last Seen Alone is an intriguing and fast paced story that I found impossible to put down. This gritty story held me spellbound as I was trying to figure out what direction the story would take and it kept me guessing until the very end.

Brandon, a detective, is investigating a case of a missing woman when he meets Leigh, an attorney. At first, Brandon and Leigh try to fight the sizzling chemistry flowing between them. They are working on an important case and don’t have time for relationships. Plus, they don’t trust each other and are hesitant to share information about the case with each other. However, as time goes on and they are constantly thrown together, they find it impossible to resist each other.

I was biting my nails while reading this riveting story trying to figure out who was guilty, right along with Brandon and Leigh. Time is of the essence, but everything is getting in the way of understanding what is really going on.

This compelling story has just the right mixture of suspense and romance. It is an interesting and realistic story with characters that are layered and easy to connect with. It took me on an unexpected journey and I loved every minute of it. I love trying to figure out where the story is going, but this plot was so intricately woven I never knew what to expect. Unexpected, wonderful and well worth reading.

The Runaway Heiress by Meg Tilly


The Runaway Heiress by Meg Tilly
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

A brave woman on the run from her vindictive husband faces a dangerous path in the thrilling new romantic suspense novel from Oscar-nominated actress Meg Tilly.

Sarah Rainsford has been on the run for more than three years. She’s changed identities yet again in hopes of throwing her violent estranged husband, a police lieutenant, off her trail. Since she’s still legally married to him, and he is willing to bend any laws to get his hands on her inheritance, he’ll stop at nothing to locate her.

With a new name and fake ID papers, she lands a job as a personal assistant to none other than Hollywood’s golden boy director Mick Talford. He’s a difficult client but she senses hidden depths to him. Once Mick and Sarah combine forces in a desperate attempt to keep Sarah out of harm’s way, they build a strong bond . . . but with danger trailing them, is it enough to keep them both alive?

I stayed up late reading The Runaway Heiress because I needed to know what would happen next in this suspenseful, love story about Sarah and Mick. Sarah is on the run from her abusive husband, who also happens to be a cop. Sarah is sweet and nice and doesn’t deserve the life she is now forced to live.

Mick is a successful Hollywood director but his childhood has left him vulnerable and distrustful. He wants more in his life, but he isn’t sure what is missing. He unknowingly becomes Sarah’s savior when he hires her as his assistant. Part of Mick doesn’t want Sarah around, but the other part of him is intrigued by her. Nothing about Sarah seems to add up and Mick wants to figure her out.

I loved Mick and Sarah and I thought they were great together. From the moment they meet, there is a tug of war going on between them. Sarah doesn’t put up with Mick’s outbursts and continually puts him in his place and Mick isn’t used to that. Everyone always says and does exactly what Mick tells them to do, but Sarah isn’t intimidated by Mick’s condescending attitude or his success. Mick isn’t sure what it is, but there is something about Sarah that captivates him, from the moment he meets her.

This story was such a nice surprise. I love suspense with romance and this has both, along with great writing. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what Sarah’s ex would do next and to find out if he would catch her. I was also wondering what would happen between Sarah and Mick. I could feel all the chemistry flowing between Mick and Sarah and I loved all their bantering.

This is an intriguing story with captivating storytelling. I had a soft spot for Sarah, she deserves something good in her life and some happiness. Mick is a good guy underneath his gruff exterior. He senses Sarah is in some kind of trouble and he wants to help her.

I liked the intricate plot weaving and the two main characters and I was really getting into the story, until about the last quarter of the book. Then, the story veered off in an unexpected direction. So, although I was a little disappointed towards the end of the story, I still enjoyed reading it and I would definitely recommend it. I haven’t read any of Meg Tilly’s other books and I now want to read them all. If you like to read romantic suspense and stories about Hollywood, you will like this one.

Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley

PROPER
Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin)
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (276 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

To Kiss A Thief…

Scottish barrister Sinclair McBride can face the most sinister criminals in London – but the widower’s two unruly children are a different matter. Little Caitlin and Andrew go through a governess a week, sending the ladies fleeing in tears.

Roberta “Bertie” Frasier enters Sinclair’s life by stealing his watch – and then stealing a kiss. Intrigued by the handsome highlander, Bertie winds up saving his children from a dangerous situation and returns them to their father. Impressed with how they listen to her, Sinclair asks the lively beauty to be their governess, never guessing that the unconventional lady will teach him a lesson or two in love

Reading this novel was like coming home and finding old and new friends waiting for me with amazing tales to tell.
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Sinclair and Bertie were a wonderful couple. I got a kick out of Bertie making the first move, and the second and I adored Sinclair’s response. I liked the hero’s children and their personalities. I laughed at some of Andrew’s exploits and I had great empathy for Caitriona’s shyness and pain. There is a wonderful family dynamic that is explored and expanded upon that made reading Rules for a Proper Governess a rich and rewarding experience.

Bertie was a treat. I think her charm came from her being willing to go for what she wanted, say what needed to be said and how she just loved everyone around her. She gave everyone a chance and each and every person was a gateway to a new adventure for her. It was delightful watching her grow to love Sinclair and his children.

Sinclair was a tough nut to crack. He was suffering the loss of his first wife and he was acting like an automaton. He loved his kids – he just didn’t LIVE anymore – until Bertie stole his watch and set in motion an amazing series of events that led the hero to rediscover passion, laughter and the determination to fight for the woman he eventually came to love. His journey is one of the reasons this book was such a page-turner.

There’s nefarious side of the tale that dogs the hero’s footsteps. He keeps getting letters that are very disturbing and so far, there’s no clue as to whom it could be. During the telling of the tale, I had an Aha! moment that ended up being right. I enjoy figuring out a mystery, but meanwhile, as Sinclair slowly gets closer and closer to confronting the villains, the suspense and not knowing was delightful as it kept me on the edge of my seat. The scuffle and chase was exciting, well written and quite dramatic. In fact all of the action scenes were well written and effective.

Beware of the seduction. Ms. Ashley has written a very detailed, romantic and extremely sensual love scene when Sinclair introduces Bertie to the passion she has hidden inside. It’s so well done and beautiful that I was moved. Of course Bertie, irreverent as she is, laughs, is delighted and simply embraces the joy and heightened passions as she falls in love for the first time. Bertie’s character makes me smile.

There are quite a few characters that pop in from books past but for me, any time Ian Mackenzie is on scene, I melt. I adore his cryptic comments because anyone who’s read The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie will understand why his saying anything is momentous and special. Ms. Ashley has kept his character true whenever he pops in during any of the novels in this series. His story will always have a special place in my heart so his briefly being in Rules for a Proper Governess was a major treat. True, this book can standalone just fine, but that feeling of family and continuity comes from having read the previous books.

Rules for a Proper Governess is another gem and a must read from the talented Ms. Ashley. I loved it, I enjoyed myself and I heartily recommend it to any romance reader who loves a story about a man who finds love after believing he’d never love again. It’s got it all: adventure, drama, suspense, love, laughter and characters that touch the heart. It’s a keeper.