The Body Reader by Anne Frasier
Anne Frasier writes a compelling and thought-provoking psychological thriller that examines the stability of a police detective who was kidnapped and tortured for three years. Frasier does a fantastic job of giving our heroine a voice; allowing us to see how her captivity changed her on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Frasier balances it with the thoughts and impressions of those around her who knew her before the kidnapping. A sly and insidious mystery builds alongside the heroine’s attempts to heal with Frasier slowly introducing clues that tie it all back to the heroine. Though I figured out who the main villain was, the additional characters who aided and abetted were a shock. The Body Reader is sure to thrill those fans who enjoy a psychological thriller that looks deep into the abyss. Frasier flips between the first and third person which some may find jarring. I truly hope Frasier looks to make this a series. The heroine has so much potential and her emotional grid is simply fascinating to watch.
Smoke and Mirrors by Jess Haines
Series: Blackhollow Academy. #1
Fans of Jess Haines are sure to enjoy her newest UF series which exists in the same world as her popular H&W Investigations series. Smoke and Mirrors takes us back to Seattle and introduces us to Kimberly, an older than average high school illusionist who needs a familiar to graduate. With a little help from a professor, she is dragged into new and well-hidden world filled with shapeshifters and mages on her quest to convince the greatest predator of all to be her familiar-a dragon. The action, intrigue, and humor meshes well with the slow building romance. I did have some issues with the heroine in that she is written as almost too perfect an underdog. Poor, hungry, struggling, beautiful, nice, shy, bullied, misunderstood, etc… Readers might question the thin line between YA and HA that Haines balances the heroine on. She is 20 but in high school and her narrative sounds young at times. New and some old faces are seen in this ambitious cast of characters that help to round out the story. Haines uses their stories to push forward the arc and drop clues towards new adventures. I look forward to book two in this series.
Idol by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP, #1
When I heard Kristen Callihan was writing a new series I jumped on it like an addict in need of a fix. Idol is a delightful concoction of laugh out loud scenes, steamy chemistry, dirty sexy fun, and some bittersweet growth. It’s a book of choices and learning that sometimes you have to let go of your safety net in order to truly live. Set up in the Outer Banks of NC, we meet a rock star who is standing at a crossroad in his life and the grumpy recluse who charms his pants off. Literally. Okay, he may have helped take them off. *wink* Killian and Liberty are a fantastic couple whose chemistry and witty banter helps to spark an unlikely friendship that graduates into a lush romance. An all star cast helps to facilitate this relationship as it struggles to maintain itself against fans, friends, and their individual issues. Mild angst and some miscommunication (can we all say Darling Nikki?) leads readers on a wild ride and confirmed that Killian and Libs are one of 2016’s IT couples. Idol is a hit and a small excerpt from book two has me impatiently waiting to see what Callihan has up her sleeve for her next couple.
Locked Box by Eve Dangerfield
I thoroughly enjoyed Dangerfield’s Degree of Control and when she told me Locked Box was even hotter, I was all BRING. IT. ON. Locked Box is just as sexy, humorous, sweet, and erotic but with a more serious tone. It addresses marriage, infidelity, age, and class barriers. When an older extreme alpha cop and young IT person are accidentally locked in the evidence room, it opens the door for the hero and heroine to toss aside their insecurities and misconceptions to act on the passion and desire they feel. Emotionally and physically hot, this couple’s chemistry is an inferno that burns in all the right places. Told from the heroine’s POV, we learn that she has crushed hard on the hero for a long time but she knows he’s married and keeps her feelings to herself. Hero is in the midst of a divorce (he just has to deliver the papers) so this is actually not a prelude to cheating, don’t worry. The back story between this couple adds some convoluted layers to the relationship and the main conflict, elevating it from a simple romance with erotic scenes to a strong sensual romance with some mild angst and drama. Dangerfield is definitely on my authors to watch for list.
Fierce Wanderer by Liza Street – I knew this was less than 100 pages going in, so I was prepared for a fast pace and fast romance. Hera has evidence her chief of police ex is involved in drugs, and he is out to get her. On the run, her car breaks down and a sexy stranger picks her up after she is wounded when her ex (or his goons) puts a bullet in her arm. This sexy stranger is Blake, a lion-shifter, something Hera finds out a little later. I couldn’t tell if Hera knew shifters exist, but didn’t know Blake was one, or if it was all brand new to her. Her reaction was one of laughing and telling jokes. That confused me. We are told it is against Pride law to tell strangers their shifter secret, but that is pretty much all we learn of the shifter cultures. There is also the fated-mate that pops up. The suspense of Hera’s ex finding her has no excitement. It needed a lot more pages. Grade: C
That Despicable Rogue by Virginia Heath – Lady Hannah hates Ross Jameson for stealing her family home. He actually won it in a game of cards, where her brother then shot himself and Ross took over the home. He never moved in though – so with a skeleton staff, he house has fallen into disrepair. But now word on the street is that he is moving in, and Hannah wants a chance to ruin his name. She poses as a housekeeper, gets hired, and starts her mission. Ross isn’t titled, but he is very wealthy, and finding secrets on him is harder than she thought. He is also sexy and charming. A cute, light romance that is an easy read. A little slow at times and kind of predictable but quick and light. Grade: C+