Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Caribbean Rescue by Cami Checketts

There's a new destination billionaire book coming out next week from one of my favorite clean suspense authors--Cami Checketts. It will be available August 2nd. Here's the run down...

Just in time for the Summer Olympics, bestselling sweet romance author, Cami Checketts, brings you a new Destination Billionaire Romance.
Superstar runner Zack Tyndale was the easy favorite to win gold in the Olympic Games, but a stupid decision shatters his dreams the night before the big race. Unable to face his shame, he escapes to the Caribbean and a life of blissful solitude ... until Madeline Panetto crash lands on his pristine private beach, trying to outrun a gang of pirates with nothing but a fancy evening gown and a flash drive hidden in her bra. Zack finds himself sucked into Maddy's world of mutiny and murder.
Madeline might find refuge from the pirates, but Zach is battling pirates of his own. When sparks fly between them, they're forced to look to their hearts for the answers and that could be more frightening than facing a mutinous crew.
Can these two find refuge from the pirates and with each other?

Find Caribbean Rescue - Amazon * Goodreads
*Enter below to win a $50 gift card and a copy of The Independent One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance

Excerpt of Caribbean Rescue:

A few steps from the French doors he heard the high whine of a motor. Zack whipped around and searched the ocean beyond. There were no lights, but the motor sound was unmistakable. What kind of an idiot would be out on the water with no lights on and in what sounded like a small boat?

Zack raced past his pool and gardens, and took the steps to the beach two at a time. He could just make out a small boat, hurtling through the water. He didn’t even have time to be angry someone was invading his sanctuary as he saw the angle they were coming at. “No, not that way!” he yelled, though they couldn’t possibly hear him.

Zack sprinted through the sand and onto his dock. He kept one eye on the boat as he ran the length of the dock, waving his arms and yelling, “Turn! Turn!” Large boulders and a former shipwreck resided just under the water, exactly where that boat was heading. Any other angle into the harbor was deep and safe to take even in his yacht, but this idiot was coming straight for the shallow waters of the dock instead. Why weren’t they slowing even though they were within a hundred feet of the dock?

“Stop!” he screamed. “Turn!”

The sickening crunch was louder than the howling wind and rain. The rear of the boat flung into the air, and the lone passenger flew forward then disappeared into the water. Zack dove off the dock, surfacing quickly, and using strong strokes to cross the distance. Water from the uneven waves splashed into his face, making it hard to see. The person bobbed up out of the water and started swimming his direction. That was a relief. From the hair streaming around her, he assumed it was a woman.

They came within a few feet of each other and Zack slowed and treaded water. “Are you okay?”

“I-I think so.”

“Can you make it to the dock?” His lights reflecting from the beach showed a mop of dark hair and a beautiful face.

In answer, she started slowly swimming that direction, but she hadn’t gone four strokes before she swayed and rolled over onto her back. That’s when Zack noticed the cut on her head. The water turned the blood a watery pink. She’d definitely hit her head on one of the rocks or maybe the old shipwreck. 

“You’re not okay.” 

“I can make it.” She started to kick. A wave rolled over her face and she jerked up, coughing and spluttering, but bravely kept trying to stay afloat, beating at the water with her arms and legs.

She was tough and not a complainer. Nice.

“I’ve got you.” Zack looped his arm under her armpit and over her chest and tugged her back to the dock. She had a small build, but her clothes must’ve been waterlogged because she seemed to weigh a ton. Zack was in shape, but he tired quickly. Finally, they made it to the dock and the woman clung to the edge. Zack grabbed hold and heaved himself out of the water then helped lift her up. She collapsed onto her back and released a loud breath. “Oh, thank you, I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with Saint Peter.”

“Saint Peter?” She’d hit her head hard or she was crazy. He looked over her fancy, waterlogged dress and the diamonds sparkling at her throat. She’d been out in the ocean like that, without a lifejacket?
Crazy it might be, or with quite a good story to tell.

“You know—the angel at the pearly gates.”

 Zack let out a surprised laugh. “Glad you put that off for a little while.”

“Me too.” She sat up and touched the small gash in her head. Blood trickled between her fingertips.

“Ouch.”

“I bet.” Zack pushed his way to his feet and offered her a hand. The wind whipped his wet t-shirt around him. He was glad he shaved his head and didn’t have hair whipping in his face like she did.

“Let’s get you up to the house and cleaned up.”

She placed her hand in his, but wavered as he helped her up. Zack wrapped his other arm around her waist and lifted her onto her feet. She swayed. 

“Can you walk?”

Her eyes filled with stubborn pride. “Of course I can walk.”

She pulled away from him, took one step, teetered off the dock, and splashed back into the water. 

“Oh, boy.” Zack shook his head. He hadn’t smelled alcohol on her breath, but that had to be the explanation. Fancy dress, alone on a boat in the ocean at night. He’d have to help her tonight then load her onto his yacht tomorrow and get her to Belize. If she had any money it was probably sunk with her little boat. He’d get her to where she needed to go and be done with this mess. Oddly enough, he didn’t mind the excitement. It was a good contrast to his normally sedate lifestyle.

She came up to the surface sputtering and flailing. Zack knelt down, put his hands under her armpits, and hefted her back onto the dock. He stood slowly, supporting both of them then swung her off her feet and into his arms. Despite himself, he noticed how nicely she fit against him. It had been a long while since he’d been around an attractive, unrelated woman. “Shall we try this again?”

“Good plan.” Her voice rumbled against his chest and he kind of liked it. “I must’ve thumped my head harder than I thought.”

“Or something,” he muttered.

Her head whipped up. Brown eyes full of fire. “I’m not drunk, if that’s what you’re thinking, I’m…”

She quickly looked down again, not meeting his gaze.

“You’re…” he encouraged. He’d like to hear her story and he did believe her that she wasn’t drunk. Her speech was too lucid and her breath smelled too clean. 

“I can’t. I don’t know who to trust.” She grabbed onto his arm. “Oh, holy monkey balls!”

Zack jerked in surprise and almost dropped her as she squirmed in his arms. “What are you doing now? You want to fall in the water again?” They’d reached the end of the dock, but she could still fall in the shallow water. 

“I’ve got to find something. Please. Can you help me look in the water? Back where my boat is?” Her eyes were wide and frantic. 

“Right now?” Zack gestured to the waves building as the storm increased in intensity. “No! You’re hurt. It’s dark. And there’s a storm.” His four-year-old niece had more common sense than this woman, and Chalise hadn’t spoken a word in two years. 

The woman deflated and burrowed herself into his arms. Zack liked this quite a bit better than her struggling. He tightened his hold on her. Hmm, her shape was really… shapely. 

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tenderness and Terror Boxed Set by Cami Checketts

From Goodreads:
Tenderness and Terror Boxed Set by #1 Bestselling Inspirational Romance Author, Cami Checketts

Protect This
With five female college students on the missing persons' list, and the perpetrator still at large, Natasha is nervous about dating anyone. But, it's hard to say no to Tony, the hot graduate assistant she's been drooling over all semester. Too bad she's not sure who to trust and all the men around her feel more like suspects than heroes. When Natasha gets into trouble and the man that should have been the safest...turns out to be her worst nightmare, Natasha has no choice but to fight for her life and the man she almost gave up.

Blog This
Will protecting children throughout the world cost Natasha her own family? Devastated by the loss of her brother, Natasha Senecot works to expose the dangers of Matthew Chrysler’s violent video games, succeeding in bankrupting and humiliating him.

Chrysler retaliates and sends a hit man after her. Natasha is forced to fake her own death to protect her children, but after witnessing another tragedy, Natasha won’t hide any longer.

In a race against time, can Natasha expose Matthew Chrysler before his assassin murders her family and shatters her world?
Redeem This
Some men are beyond redemption. Alex is one of them.

After Alex Chakhota was blackmailed and manipulated into becoming a hit man to protect his sister, serving time as the FBI's assassin doesn't do much to ease his conscience. His next assignment brings him face to face with Brittany, a beautiful woman that believes he's more than the killer he's been made into. The road to redemption is long for someone with a blackened soul, and with lives hanging in the balance, Alex has a short deadline.

Detective Scott Bentley's days of law enforcement are behind him. When he's asked to host agents at his secluded ranch for an FBI sting operation, Scott cannot refuse. Ivy McMahon shows up with the team, and Scott gets more than he signed up for. Not only can she hack into the any computer system, she's found a way into Scott's heart. The trouble is that she's in protective custody and when the job ends, she'll disappear. Is redemption possible for those whose lives are scarred by the past? Is redemption possible for those who lives are scarred by the past? With danger crowding close, not even love may have a chance to redeem before it's too late.

My Take:
For this review, I'm going to start with the middle full length novel in the set and then talk about the novellas on the front and end. Sorry, it's going to be a bit disjointed since I don't want too many spoilers for you, but one of them I can't help but let slip. Sorry!

Okay, I have to come clean. I read BLOG THIS when it originally came out a long time ago. It was the first book by Checketts that I didn't absolutely love. It was well written and satisfying in many ways, but I couldn't get past the fact I didn't agree with who Natasha ended up with in the end. Hold on to your seats, I'll try to do this without too many spoilers and still make a modicum of sense.

The suspense side of Blog This is amazing! Super job by Checketts. Loved that! We've got fiery red-head Natasha who isn't going to back down from a fight for anything, even after getting shot. The romance part is what fell flat for me the first time I read it. She's got three men falling for her--her cheating ex, a hot cop, and the assassin. By the end of the story I really liked two of these guys. And I have to stop there.

Fast forward to last week when I picked up the boxed set. This set contains a very short prequel (Protect This) where we get to see how Natasha and her ex-husband Tony meet. I have to say that although it was super short--almost too short--I liked Tony much better and it helped me accept the ending in Blog This much better.

Redeem This is the story I really needed. Like I said, I really felt for Scott (the cop) and Alex (the assassin). The sequel finally tells the next part of their story. It's also shorter, almost too short, but was very fulfilling for me. I love the idea of the bad guys having redeeming qualities, and I wanted to see Scott find happiness as well. Plus, Scott's a cowboy. I love cowboys. ;)

The only reason I say the stories were too short is because I love Checketts' easy writing style. She's great with the sexual tension while keeping it clean, and you can't beat her suspense!

I give the collection a 4.5 simply because I wanted the novellas stretched out into novels. :)

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Priceless by Tamara Hart Heiner

From Goodreads:
It’s been two years since Jaci and her friends were kidnapped by The Hand and ultimately escaped. Jaci has done her best to re-assimilate into high school society, to put that terrifying experience behind her. As a runner on the cross-country team and the almost-girlfriend of a popular football star, it seems as if her future is finally falling into place.

When a series of weird, innocuous notes begin to show up at her house and in her locker, Jaci assumes her brother is playing jokes on her. But as the notes grow more sinister, she begins to question their origin.

By the time she suspects that her previous kidnappers are involved, too much is at stake to tackle this problem on her own.

Somehow Jaci must avoid capture without involving her family or endangering her friends.

My Take:
First off, this is the third book in a series, however, I have not read the first two. You don't have to have read them to enjoy this book, but after reading it you might want to go back and catch the first two--Perilous and Altercation.

Okay, let's talk about Jaci. I love how real she is. Sure, it's been two years since the events of the first two books--a months long ordeal where she was kidnapped, escaped, lived on the run, caught, and almost sold into the sex slave trade. One friend died, another moved away, and all she has left is Amanda. Jaci is withdrawn from society even though she's on the track team. It's too hard for her to trust anyone, even the police, thanks to her experience. At the beginning of the story she is trying to change. She wants to live again. Unfortunately for her, that decision comes at the same time as the arrival of mysterious and ominous notes, and text messages.

The one thing that bothered me was the fact she never tells Amanda. Granted, Amanda did not make confiding in her easy. Okay, I sort of understand at first, but as soon as Jaci thinks the notes might have some connection to the earlier kidnapping, she should have talked to Amanda. Both were at risk, but it's like she never considered Amanda might be in trouble.

Other than that, I loved how the author kept me wondering who was behind the stalking. I made several guesses, but I didn't see it coming together the way it did.

The romance angle is definitely complicated. And I really liked that. Jaci has finally relented and allowed herself to hang out with Joey, the star football player at school. He seems like such a nice guy! He's always trying to help his miscreant brother out of trouble, he's attentive and doesn't try anything. A perfect gentleman.

She's also hit on by Amanda's jerk of a boyfriend Gavin. Good thing she's taken self-defense classes for the last year! However, this puts an added strain between her and Amanda (Jaci doesn't tell her it happened) and contributes to the number of secrets piling up between them, making it so much harder to come clean.

Joel is sweet, but Jaci keep thinking about someone else. Two years earlier she met a boy named Ricky. He was her first kiss. However he moved away. He wrote her several times, but she never replied. After a year he stopped writing, but never forgot her. Now he's back, and staying at her house for a week with his family. Just the sight of him brings back so many memories!

I think Heiner kept a great balance between the characters age and the maturity they both gained from their experience. It was totally believable.

And you have no idea how hard it was to write this review without giving away spoilers!

I give Priceless a 4.5, rounded up to 5 because now I think I'll read the first two books in the series. 

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure