Tag Archives: Romantic Suspense

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

9 May

thegirlwhoknewtoomuch

I received an ARC for this novel sometime in late 2016, and it was one of only two new books I read in the months following my mother’s death.

Although I have not yet written any reviews for them, I own and love all of Ms Quick’s early historical novels (Surrender, Mystique, Ravished, etc). In later years, I had given up on her books, after growing a bit fatigued by some writing tics, and frankly tired of the Arcane Society novels.¹

However, the cover caught my eye, and the blurb makes it clear this novel is not part of a series. Best of all, it’s set in California in the 1930s!

Warning: there are a couple of murders, though not much gore; there’s adult language, and sex on the page. If any of these bother you, avoid this one.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

I liked many things about this novel, starting with how well the setting is rendered. I felt immersed in the period without awkward lectures or info-dumping. Both of the main characters are complex and three dimensional, and their world is populated by three dimensional, complex people.

The suspense thread is a lot more layered than the blurb would make one think, and the story is told from several characters’ point of view, which allows the reader to believe she knows more than our hero and heroine.
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Mr Perfect, by Linda Howard

16 Jan

mrperfectlindahowardAs I have been struggling to read new stuff, even by authors I love (Hold Me, by Courtney Milan, and Eidolon, by Grace Draven, languish still in the digital TBR, to name but two), I’ve indulged in some re-reading of old favorites, in the hope this will kick-start my reading mojo.

I have said often that I am a fan of Ms Howard‘s work,¹ so going back to a novel that I remembered loving to pieces was an easy decision to make. Snappy dialogue, female friendships, off-the-charts sexual tension, funny-as-hell heroine, what’s not to love?

Well…

A lot, actually.

This is one of those times when I realize how truly privileged I am wen it comes to what I can shrug off: there is some seriously problematic stuff in this book. It was written close to twenty years ago (published in hardcover in 2000), and it really shows its age in its representation of gender dysphoria. If you identify as transgender/gender fluid/gender questioning, you don’t want to read this novel. I will spoil the hell out of this below, but even that may be triggering, so: take care of yourselves, please.

Other reader warnings: there’s violence on the page, explicit sexual content, and adult language. There are also references to mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of a child.

Mr. Perfect, by Linda Howard

Okay, without further ado, because this is going to be rather long, even for me, here’s the blurb from my hardcover copy:
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The Book Club Murders, by Leslie Nagel

7 Jan

bookclubmurdersI confess that, despite knowing better, I was attracted to both the cover and the blurb for this cozy mystery, and was happy to get an ARC some time ago. However, what with one thing and another, it took me a while to get to it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a really hard time reading anything new to me, for going on two years now. (Pity me.) Therefore, any novel I manage to read all the way through these days feels remarkable in some way, on that basis alone.

As usual, reader beware: there’s a romance alongside the mystery, but there’s no sex on page, and very little ‘objectionable’ language.

The Book Club Murders, by Leslie Nagel

I didn’t know before I started reading the story, but this is Ms Nagel debut release. It is also the first in a series set in Oakwood, OH.

I confess that, after reading a few chapters, I did suspect that this was either a debut, or perhaps a second book, because some of the elements of the story seem to fit rather awkwardly next to each other–such as the romance between our intrepid leading lady, one Charlotte “Charley” Carpenter, and the cop in charge of solving the improbable murders that, apparently out of the blue, are happening in the very quiet community of Oakwood.

Here’s the blurb:

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Up Close and Dangerous, by Linda Howard

12 Aug

Up Close and DangerousAs I’m still struggling with the reading slump from hell, I’ve turned to old favorite authors for comfort reads. Not only do I re-discover plot points or scenes I had long forgotten, but I’m also finding that many of these books stand up very well to the passage of time. Win-win.

As I’ve said a couple of times before, many of Linda Howard’s books are among my all time favorites (though that is one crowded set of bookcases, lemme tell you). While this one has many of the elements that make her novels so appealing to me, it’s not as successful in a couple of respects.

Up Close and Dangerous, by Linda Howard

This novel had a mixed reception when it was released, back in 2007. Personally, I liked it well enough when I read it for the first time, soon thereafter. Re-reading it now, particularly during a slump, has allowed me to better see the basis for the original criticism.

Here’s the blurb, from the cover jacket of my hardback copy:
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Cry No More, by Linda Howard

10 Jun

Cry No More hardcoverI have been trying to review this book for a while, but it has been slow going. Mostly, because I don’t like reviewing from memory, and re-reading a book that hits you so hard, there are times you can’t breathe, is…well, it’s fucking hard.

At the same time, I know that there are few followers/readers of the blog who are fairly new to romance, and nothing would please me more than to introduce them to amazing books.

Cry No More is just that: amazing. It works on so many levels that calling it simply a romantic suspense sells it short.

However, it does need a couple of content notes: it begins with a brutal child abduction; the child in question is an infant, less than two months old, and its mother is almost killed trying to fight off the abductor. There is graphic language, graphic sex, and graphic violence. Reader, be warned.

Oh, and the review? Long as hell.

Cry No More, by Linda Howard

I think this was a watershed book for many Linda Howard readers. It’s not that she hadn’t written dark, bloody books before (Dream Man, Mr Perfect, to name but two), it’s that she amped up the intensity of the feelings, both for characters and readers, over and over and over again, throughout the course of the book.

And then?

She finished it with an even bigger bang.

Karen Scott wrote, almost ten years ago, how she cried her way through the book, “a beautifully poignant book, which is emotionally compelling, yet at the same time, manages to retain a fast and furious pace of mystery, danger and excitement.”

Anna Campbell, in her review for RomanceNovelTV a couple of years later, wrote: This is one of the most deeply emotional romance novels I’ve ever read. (Holy shit, is it ever!)

Here is the blurb from my hardcover copy:¹
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After the Night, by Linda Howard

27 May

After the NightAs some of you know, I took a very quick trip home last week. While the occasion was my mother’s 80th birthday, the lion’s share of preparation and actual effort was for my sister.

In order to maximize the benefits of these efforts, we keep a spreadsheet as a Google document. That way, should she manage to find a title on the “books to get” list she can mark it off, and I won’t be carting duplicates to her. In the same manner, I will mark off those books she requests as I get them.

Unfortunately, she hasn’t done the best job at this so far. Not only did I take her one duplicate on this trip–despite begging her since February to double check the list–but I found seven other duplicated books, from previous shipments, that she had sneaked to my mother’s house.

After some swearing (out of range of the parental unit), I grabbed them and tossed them in my bag. Good thing I did, because while my flight down there was on a new plane, the trip back was on a relic that didn’t have outlets to charge my phone. All those books? Yeah, out of reach.

But there it was, a dog eared print copy of one of my favorite Linda Howard books, coming to my rescue.

Now you get my thoughts.

Please note: there’s an attempted suicide, subtle sexual coercion, and some generalized Southern asshattery in the novel

After the Night, by Linda Howard

There are a couple of things you may want to take into account as you read this review.

The first is that I am a fan of Ms Howard. I have read everything she wrote up to 2008, and I still own all of those books, save five: All That Glitters, An Independent Wife, To Die For, Drop Dead Gorgeous and Raintree: Inferno. The first two are her debut and sophomore efforts, both released in 1982. The next two are the Blair Mallory novels, which a) are narrated in first person, and b) I hated, with the passion of a thousand suns. The last one I just couldn’t get into.

I also own, but haven’t finished reading, Burn, which she released in 2009. I may also have Ice, and perhaps even Veil of Night, but there was something about Burn that put me off trying any of Ms Howard’s newer work.¹

The second is that this novel was, if not my very first, one of the first Linda Howard books I ever read, back in 1997. As such, it holds a special place in my heart. I can see some of its problems, but I know I’m blind to others. This is very much a book of its time; it was published in 1995, likely written the year before that. Not only are faxes essential for business, there are no cell phones. Hell, not even car phones are mentioned! You may correctly assume that some of the gender and social issues in the book follow pattern.

I cannot even begin to fathom how a reader would react to this book today.

Here’s the blurb, from the print copy in question:
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Committed, by Sidney Bristol

16 Feb

RomanceI bought this book when it was posted as a sale over at the SmartBitches the other day. There was no actual recommendation, only a mention that while the plot was somewhat thin, it’s an interracial erotic romantic suspense.

The cover hits all my good buttons for erotic romance, so I read the sample over at amazon and one-clicked it.

I don’t recommend anyone else do the same, though YMMV, as always.

Be aware that there is plenty of graphic sex, a lot of talk about power exchange and kink, and general cursing. There is also graphic violence, some of it against the heroine. If any of these offend or otherwise upset you, you may want to click away now.

Committed, by Sidney Bristol¹

This is the first in a series, and I could guess at least one of the next couples after reading about twenty percent of the story. This isn’t always a bad thing, though, and there were other things going on that I liked, so I kept going.

There were some good things going on, though I confess that I had expected to have my socks blown off, because of what happens during the main characters very first conversation. But hey, one never knows, all the good stuff could happen after the abrupt interruption mentioned in the blurb, so I kept reading.

And then a character is introduced and I got very angry.

After I calmed down I read on, and then on top of getting angry again, I started to feel sort of cheated, and after that it got kinda messy. Let me ‘splain.

First, the blurb, from amazon:
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