Book Review: ATONEMENT by B.J. Daniels

atonement
Series: Beartooth, Montana, #4
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Released: February 25, 2014
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Just how far are people willing to go to keep their secrets?

Protecting the citizens of Beartooth, Montana, is never an easy job. One year later, Sheriff Dillon Lawson still feels guilty that he couldn’t save his twin brother, Ethan. But the biggest test of his bravery comes when Tessa Winters arrives, claiming to be pregnant…with Ethan’s baby. At first, Dillon can’t decide if this beautiful woman is a con artist or a victim. If Ethan didn’t die in that car crash, then where is he—and why is he hiding?

Now, Dillon is prepared to do anything to uncover the truth…anything except admit his growing feelings for Tessa. But with violence threatening, Tessa and Dillon must trust in each other to save not only themselves…but also Tessa’s unborn child.

———

I was in the mood for a cowboy romance, and the blurb for ATONEMENT grabbed my attention. This is the first B.J. Daniels book I’ve read, so I’m jumping into this series late, and I did feel like I was missing parts of the back story.

The book starts out strong when the angry and pregnant heroine, Tessa, comes to Montana searching for her baby’s father, Ethan. Instead, she finds his twin brother, Dillon (who she didn’t know about), and Dillon claims that his brother died over a year ago, which Tessa knows couldn’t be possible. Dillon assumes Ethan has gotten himself in big trouble again, and that’s why he’s playing dead, so Dillon and Tessa set out to uncover the mystery and find Ethan.

The book switches back and forth between the Tessa/Dillon/Ethan story line and a murder mystery involving the town’s sheriff, Frank, and his girlfriend, Nettie. I’m assuming that Frank & Nettie’s story is being carried over from a previous book. While I was intrigued by their mystery, I thought it detracted from Tessa & Dillon’s story. It wasn’t easy keeping everyone and everything straight, and I felt disconnected.

I liked Dillon and Tessa as a couple, and I was rooting for them. With her being pregnant with another man’s baby, theirs was a unique and sweet romance that took time to grow. I did wonder, though, how a smart and strong woman like Tessa could have fallen for a screw up like Ethan. I guess love makes us do crazy things.

I think those who have read the previous books in this series will probably like ATONEMENT more than I did, though I enjoyed seeing how both mysteries played out in the end.

Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: DARK WATERS by Toni Anderson

DarkWaters
Series: Vancouver Island – Carver Brothers
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Source: Review copy through the Amazon Vine Program

Danger once again laps at the shores of Barkley Sound, the Graveyard of the Pacific…

Since her rocky childhood and its abrupt, brutal ending, schoolteacher Anna Silver hasn’t given her trust easily. But when her estranged father gets in over his head—again—and winds up dead, his last message to Anna is as clear as it is insistent: she’s in danger and Brent Carver, the man with whom he shared a prison cell for five years, is the only person she should turn to for help. With nowhere else to go and with her father’s killer on her trail, Anna flees to what she hopes is safety.

​Tucked into the west coast of Vancouver Island, Brent Carver’s isolated home hasn’t seen many visitors. And his friend’s daughter is the last person he ever expected to grace his doorstep. She’s in trouble, and he can’t deny her protection…just as he can’t deny his attraction to the independent beauty. As their passion sparks into flame, the perfect storm brews off the coast of his island home, bringing with it a sadistic killer hunting Anna and the secrets she’s come close to uncovering.

———

DARK WATERS is the second romantic suspense novel I’ve read by Toni Anderson, and like the first, I really enjoyed it. Ms. Anderson has a knack for blending sizzling romance, angsty, well-drawn characters, and nail-biting suspense into a riveting read.

This story begins with Anna Silver receiving a frantic voice mail message from her father just before he dies. He’s an ex-con who’s found trouble again, and now Anna’s life is threatened. Her father tells her to find safety with Brent Carver, a man he shared a prison cell with for many years.

Since being released from prison four years earlier, Brent has shut himself off from the world. He makes a living as a reclusive yet very successful artist, and he doesn’t venture far from his secluded home on Vancouver Island. Brent’s none too thrilled about a strange woman invading his private space, but when he finds out Anna is his best friend’s daughter and hears her tragic story, he can’t turn her away.

Anna and Brent – wow, these two were lugging some heavy emotional baggage. I’m not sure which one had been wronged the most, but my heart went out to both of them. Understandably, they had major trust issues, yet somehow they made their relationship work. On top of that, Anna had a truly evil baddie on her tail wanting something of her deceased father’s. The villain was horrid! Not happy to just get the information from Anna, but he had to be a sadistic you-know-what too, playing on her fears. He made me cringe.

DARK WATERS was a fast paced, entertaining romantic suspense novel that was heavier on the darker “thriller” elements, which I liked. My only quibble was that I found it hard to believe Brent went to prison for 20 years for his crime, considering he was 16 at the time and there were extenuating circumstances. Still, it was an enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of the genre.

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Feature: DECLAN’S CROSS by Carla Neggers

Welcome, and Happy Tuesday! Today I’m featuring Carla Neggers’ latest release in the Sharpe & Donovan series, DECLAN’S CROSS. Marine biologist Julianne Maroney retreats to Declan’s Cross on the Irish coast to help heal her broken heart, but she doesn’t expect to encounter FBI agents Sharpe and Donovan, especially since a Donovan caused her broken heart. Here’s the blurb:

declanscross
DECLAN’S CROSS
Series: Sharpe & Donovan
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Released: August 27, 2013

For marine biologist Julianne Maroney, two weeks in tiny Declan’s Cross on the south Irish coast is a chance to heal her broken heart. She doesn’t expect to attract the attention of FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan— especially since a Donovan is the reason for her broken heart. Emma and Colin are in Ireland for their own personal retreat. Colin knows he’s a reminder of everything Julianne wants to escape but something about her trip raises his suspicion. Emma, an art crimes expert, is also on edge. Of all the Irish villages Julianne could choose… Why Declan’s Cross?

Ten years ago, a thief slipped into a mansion in Declan’s Cross. Emma’s grandfather, a renowned art detective, investigated, but the art stolen that night has never been recovered and the elusive their never caught.

From the moment Julianne sets foot on Irish soil, everything goes wrong. The well-connected American driver who invited her to Ireland has disappeared. And now Emma and Colin are in Declan’s Cross.

As a dark conspiracy unfolds amid the breathtaking scenery of Declan’s Cross, the race is on to stop a ruthless killer…and the stakes have never been more personal for Emma and Colin.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

About the Author:

Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, with translations in 24 languages. Born and raised on the western edge of the beautiful Quabbin Reservoir in rural Massachusetts, Carla grew up with tales of her father’s life as a Dutch sailor and her mother’s childhood in northwest Florida.

At a young age, Carla began penning her own stories on a branch high up in her favorite sugar maple. Now she enjoys spending time at the family homestead (now a tree farm) with her six brothers and sisters and their families. When she’s not writing, Carla loves to travel, hike, kayak, garden, and, of course, dive into a good book. She lives with her family in Vermont, near Quechee Gorge.

www.CarlaNeggers.com

Book Review: WHERE ANGELS REST by Kate Brady

whereangelsrest
Series: Mann Family, #1
Publisher: Forever
Released: November 20, 2012
Source: Review copy from the publisher

For the past decade, psychologist Erin Sims has been helping victims of violent crimes move on with life…but the one person she can’t save is the one who matters most. In only seven days, her brother will be executed for a murder he didn’t commit. Convinced she knows the identity of the real killer, Erin is determined to find the man and bring him to justice.

Sheriff Nick Mann moved to rural Ohio hoping to forget the tragedies of his past. When Erin shows up in town, bringing scandal and unwanted media attention with her, Nick knows she’s trouble. No one believes sleepy Hopewell could harbor a serial killer…until residents begin to disappear. Now as Nick untangles the dark secrets plaguing his town, he can’t help falling for the beautiful woman with the warm heart and iron will. And, as the days tick by, the truth becomes clear: Erin is hunting a vicious murderer-one whose only escape is to silence her forever.

———

Erin Sims will do anything to save her brother from death row, and for over a decade she’s worked tirelessly to prove he was falsely convicted of murder. With her brother’s execution just one week away, Erin travels to a rural Ohio town, where she believes the real killer is hiding.

Sheriff Nick Mann is not thrilled when Erin steamrolls into town making shocking accusations about one of Hopewell’s prominent citizens. Nick left Los Angeles for the backwoods of Ohio hoping to escape the violent crime and scandal that turned his life upside down. Even though he doesn’t want to believe a serial killer is hiding in plain sight, he can’t deny that Erin’s claims sound reasonable, especially when dead bodies start turning up in Hopewell.

WHERE ANGELS REST had a fast-paced, well-constructed plot with plenty of logical red herrings to keep readers guessing at the killer’s identity and motivation. This book is labeled as romantic suspense, and in my opinion it was more focused on building up the suspense rather than the romance (which suited me fine). Still, I thought Nick and Erin has great chemistry which added some nice heat to the story.

WHERE ANGELS REST is a chilling, unputdownable thriller! I’m not sure I blinked at all during the last 16 chapters of this book. I’ve enjoyed both books I’ve read by Kate Brady, and, of course, I’m looking forward to the next!

Rating: 4½ Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.