Reading Fanatic Reviews

All Romantic Mystery & Suspense Reviews



An Imperfect Engagement by Alyssa Drake

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An Imperfect Engagement*

Wild Ride… with a Cliffhanger

This is the first book that I have read in this series, and that is unfortunate because this book is certainly not a standalone. The author does try to explain some things at the beginning, but the plot gets thick really fast, so there isn’t much time for backstory. So I did find it a little confusing. I might have to go back to that first book, though, because this one is quite a ride, and I am curious to see how it all got to this place. I thought, though, that the characters really didn’t seem particularly historical; instead, they seem to have modern sensibilities and just happened to live in what we would call historical times. The book has some issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage–including some unusual ones–so that was distracting at times. But the author does know how to write a good suspenseful and romantic tale that just kept me forging ahead despite the confusion about the greater story and minor annoyance at the grammar. She’s able to set time and place well; I could imagine myself in that dingy apartment at the beginning. This book does end on a cliffhanger, so if you don’t like those kinds of stories, you might want to pass this one by; I understand the first book of the series ended similarly.

The Duke of Ravens by Jennifer Monroe

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The Duke of Ravens*

Too Melodramatic

What a peculiar historical romance. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I was put off right away by a word choice mistake in the first sentence. The book also suffered from several information dumps, which I always find annoying as I think background information is better when it is scattered throughout a novel as needed or shown in some way. I also thought that the author made the heroine’s life with her awful husband far too melodramatic to be believable. The author didn’t always use the proper forms of address for nobility. There is a suspense plot in this, and I thought that was better done than the romantic aspect of the book. The suspense plot does have some red herrings. Some characters’ behavior didn’t make sense until the end, which made for a confusing read at times. The cover doesn’t go with the book at all, as the hero would not have dressed like that for the bulk of the book.

The Eyewitness by Nancy C. Weeks

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The Eyewitness*

Romance Fell Flat, But Suspense Plot Was Good

This contemporary romantic suspense starts with an unfortunate bang as the heroine’s father is murdered just after they had a big argument. The book details the investigation into this as well as the budding romance between the heroine and the hero, who happened to be her dead father’s partner.

This book was mostly well written, but I didn’t quite buy the romance aspect. This is an enemies-to-lovers spot, and I think that is hard to pull off in general but especially when there’s so much else going on in the story (like there is in this one). We need to see a pivotal shift for both characters that’s believable and contextually correct. Yes, I got that the two had a bad history, which sets up the enemies part, and they continue to butt heads even while they have an undeniable attraction to each other. Neither part rings true for me. Another thing that didn’t quite sit right for me was the idea of a hot-headed person being a forensic scientist; the two ideas just don’t blend well together in my mind. I know one of the themes that runs throughout is that she is working on that aspect of herself, but it seemed like an oil-and-water combination that would be unlikely to happen in real life. I also didn’t feel like the initial hospital scene was accurate in several ways; I won’t detail all the reasons, but I am an RN, and I wondered if the author had done much research into what goes on in a hospital and what it’s really like (including security).

The familial relationships in this story are complex in a way that feels accurate to real life. I enjoyed the dialogue in that it seemed natural, but I didn’t think that the key characters had enough differentiation in their voices. The suspense aspect was better done than the romance aspect. There were plenty of twists, turns, and surprises. While the book didn’t technically end on a cliffhanger, there are some unresolved issues. All in all, despite the glowing reviews for this book, it doesn’t inspire me to read the next book in the series to see how those loose ends to tie up.

Adella’s Enemy by Jacqui Nelson

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Adella's Enemy*

Heartfelt Western Romance with Delightful Hero and Heroine

Oh, my gosh! What a wonderful enemies-to-lovers Western historical romance! Adella, the heroine, is southern through and through and still fighting the Civil War in her own way. She is determined to take revenge on the man whom she sees as responsible for her twin brother’s death when he died of starvation at a Union prisoner-of-war camp. In the beginning scene, she takes on a job to thwart the building of a railroad line, which will hurt that man in the pocketbook. When she arrives where the railroad is being laid, she meets Cormac McGrady, who is in charge of the men building this railway spur.

I absolutely adored Cormac’s fierce protectiveness, loyalty, and inherent goodness. Right from the start, he would insert himself—literally physically—between Adella and harm’s way. She didn’t want to like him because she perceived him as the enemy since they had polar opposite goals. But she couldn’t help but like and respect what she saw. The chemistry between the two of them was off the charts, and the author did an excellent job showing the powerful emotions that built between them. While his attraction was nearly instant, the rest of the romance did feel like it had a natural build as they got to know each other better. I totally fell in love with McGrady’s Men as well. Though they could have been rough men like the other railroaders, they were as decent and protective as their boss—and quite often injected a delightful dose of humor into what could sometimes be a serious story.

If you like a heartfelt Western romance with wonderful three-dimensional characters and a hint of intrigue and some danger, scroll up and get a copy of this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Avoiding Matthew by Caroline Bell Foster

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Avoiding Matthew*

Story Overwhelmed by Technical Errors

I typically enjoy romantic suspense or suspenseful romance, whichever way the plot tends to skew. I was looking forward to this one, as the blurb suggested it had a globe-hopping thriller element as well. Unfortunately, the book had so many technical errors that I found myself overly distracted and could not enjoy the story.

What kind of technical errors? The author doesn’t seem to have a clear grasp of grammar, punctuation, and usage to such an extent that barely a paragraph goes by without some sort of error. Clearly, this was not professionally copyedited or proofread. Commas were sometimes missing altogether or used when they should not have been. Sometimes I had to reread a line because the lack of punctuation (or wrong punctuation) made it confusing. At least one sentence ended with a comma instead of a period. There was a lot of headhopping in this book; the narrator did not always stay consistent for a particular scene or segment of a chapter. The author quite often confused person and tense in the areas where she had a character think or muse about a specific idea. In one instance in two paragraphs right next to each other, she had a character “muse” in the second person and then “think” in the first person! Same character, same train of thought.

The two characters have a sexual history, and the book does get sexual very fast. Their lust for each other frequently overwhelms the rest of the story. The author does use some profanity and crude words, which I’m not a fan of. At times, it felt like the characters were just toying with each other, and that started to grate on my nerves.

Bridge to Eternity Romola Farr

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Bridge to Eternity*

Not Just Any Property… or Place

Audrey decides to buy an old boarding school in the north of England; she’s from the south. The place has been empty for a long time, and she was able to get it at a reasonable price. The realtor wasn’t pleased to get this assignment, as she felt that it would never sell. But it did; Tina feels guilty that she didn’t disclose the place is supposedly haunted. Even as Tina tried to prepare the property for sale, it gave her a creepy feeling. When’s Audrey moves in, we meet a quirky cast of characters from the neighboring area. Audrey finds an old diary that details events of a particular time at the school. Audrey even meets a widower who is of interest to her, but what secrets is he hiding?

I felt this book meandered a bit. The writing could have been tightened. Quite often, I just didn’t feel like much was going on, or I wasn’t sure where a scene was supposed to take me. The book also jumps around a bit in time, which seemed a little confusing on occasion. There is an essential mystery here, but I felt like its resolution was abrupt. The main text takes up about 82% of the book. The rest is the first act of a play that Audrey and Tina supposedly act in.

The Viscount’s Mystery by Joyce Alec

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The Viscount's Mystery*

Mysterious Viscount and Sibling Pact

Even though this book is called The Viscount’s Mystery, we don’t meet the viscount until after 12% of the book. Instead, we meet Charlotte and her brother. She considers herself a bluestocking who would be content to remain a spinster, but her brother wishes her to marry, and in fact, insists she does so before he weds. She is tired of her brother’s interference, so they make a pact. At the next ball, she will accept dances and discussions with a variety gentleman, and if she is good to her word, he will refrain—going forward—from mentioning her unmarried state and desires for her life. If he fails in this regard, she has the right to pick the girl he will court. She very firmly believes that she will win this. She’s out walking with a friend before this ball when they happen upon a man who is being roundly beaten by two other men. At some peril to herself, Charlotte stops the assault and brings the man back to her brother’s place for treatment. The man is mysterious, not wanting to go with her, not wanting help, and not wanting to reveal his name. He does stay there for some days under her care.

What will happen with the brother and sister’s pact? Who is this mysterious injured man? What role will he play in Charlotte’s life?

I enjoyed watching the brother’s and sister’s interactions in this story. Charlotte is very determined, much to her brother’s chagrin. Charlotte and Michael, the unknown injured man, have a feisty push-me, pull-you interaction. For her, there is definitely something intriguing about the man about whom she knows so little. Perhaps his anonymity makes her more candid than she would be in another situation.

This is the third book that I’ve read by this author. While I wasn’t so wild about one of them, I enjoyed the first one that I read and this one. In particular in this book, I enjoyed Charlotte’s character. One thing does seem strange to me. All of this author’s books that I’ve seen clearly stated on the cover that they are Regency, but inside at the start of each book, she just puts 19th century England. The Regency is a very short, very specific time in English history, from 1811 to 1820. If you’re going to be as specific as Regency on the cover, why would you be no more accurate than a hundred years’ span on the inside? I just don’t get it.

That said, I enjoyed Charlotte’s story and her pact with her brother as well as her trying to figure out the viscount’s mysteriousness and his mystery.

Cooking with Kandy by Pegg Jaeger

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, Scribd, W. H. Smith, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)

Cooking with Kandy*

Cooking Show Celeb in Danger

Kandy is a popular food show host and cookbook author to whom strange things have been happening lately.  Family and co-workers think she needs a bodyguard to protect her against somebody who clearly is wishing to harm her. Kandy doesn’t want her life restricted. She eventually does agree to a bodyguard, and Josh–a private investigator who does a little protection sometimes–becomes a fixture in her life. As they spend time together and get to know each other, an attraction develops between them (though he was attracted to her from the beginning).

Will they be able to figure out who is threatening Kandy’s life? Will Kandy and Josh give into their feelings for each other?

The book pulls you in right away as you see Josh on Kandy’s set while he’s waiting to talk with someone about the job. The author does a good job of describing the food show set and Kandy’s presentation. I wondered how much food TV she watched! I’ve never been on one of those sets but what she describes seems very realistic. Kandy seemed like a real person, with vulnerabilities, despite her fame. The author has created a fascinating set of secondary characters who are a delight to watch in themselves, especially Kandy’s mother and sisters. Josh and Kandy had good chemistry.

If you enjoy bodyguard romance or romantic suspense, you might like this delicious (recipes included!) book.

Fianna’s Awakening by Ron C. Nieto

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)

Fianna's Reawakening*

Is the Spear of Lugh Real in Modern Times?

Aisling is a modern-day fiann warrior. She protects a territory in Dublin, Ireland. An item has turned up that is to be auctioned off that may be the mythical Spear of Lugh. If it is, she needs to get her hands on it before anybody else does. Ronan is a professor of ancient history and is an expert in Celtic studies at Trinity College, and Aisling wants him to consult with her on this to determine the spear’s authenticity. Ronan, the professor, has his own desire and need for the spear if it is authentic.

Is the item the mythical Spear of Lugh? If it is, who will succeed in obtaining it, Aisling or Ronan? Why does Ronan need this spear?

What an incredibly action-packed, fun read! The book starts with a bang, where Aisling finds herself stalked and attacked on a dark Dublin street. The girl has got some mad fighting skills! It’s not easy to write a realistic and imaginable action scene, but this author pulled it off. While the book did slow down after the initial scene, at times it revved up again. Aisling is a fascinating protagonist. Even though she has strength, speed, and skill, she is not well regarded within her warrior group buy some. But still, she persists. She can be fearsome when she wants to be. I love the interaction between her and Ronan, first when they are trying to feel each other out and then as they work together.

I loved how this story was grounded deeply in the mythology of Ireland, bringing it into the present day. I also appreciated that this book was well edited. I’ve read some books lately that have had more than the usual amount of problems with grammar, punctuation, and usage. What a delight to read a book that correctly used commas and had no significant grammatical errors. It allowed me to simply enjoy the story.

If you like the fast-paced contemporary urban fantasy that’s based in mythology and heroic tales, you might enjoy this book.

The Minotaur’s Kiss by Erin St. Charles

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Available at Amazon, Kobo, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson

The Minotaur's Kiss*

Gods, Shifters, Latents, Magical Creatures … Oh, My!

In this complex world, alien gods use human concubines to procreate as the god’s genetic lines have been tainted by inbreeding. This has also given rise to a vigorous sex trade. The world is also inhabited by shifters, who may not understand their lineage until puberty. Because of the danger inherent in the sex trade, an army of social workers seeks to protect the industry’s workers. Diana is one of them. At an office event, she hooks up with a minotaur shifter she doesn’t know for a one-night stand. Unfortunately for her, he soon turns out to be her evaluating supervisor during a case that could make her career, smoothing the handover of a concubine. During what should be a routine inspection at one of the brothels, they find a sex worker whose missing. Soon, both she and Mac, the minotaur, are drawn into dangerous unforeseen circumstances, and Diana finds herself relying on him for protection.

Max is having a hard time dealing with Diana. He is usually a one-night-stand kind of guy, but their interactions have him rethinking his stance and even pondering a longer-term relationship. Thrown together on the job, he has a hard time keeping it professional. He’s never had such a sustained attraction to a female, and he’s not quite sure what to do about it.

By the way, this is a very steamy read. Within the first few chapters, we’re giving details about their one-night stand. The author has done a very good job at setting up the complexities of this world of gods, shifters, latents, other magical characters, and humans. She did a good job of creating tension-filled action scenes. Diana is a black woman, and I found it interesting that the author had her question racism as it applied to minotaurs, which was a sneaky way to get readers to think about the harshness of racism in our own world.

If you enjoy steamy stories about gods and shifters in a fast-paced read, this book might be for you.


The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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