Tag Archives: Trust

Review & Giveaway: Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

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Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER! 

review
I was excited to get a copy of DiAnn Mills’ latest book because she never fails to capture my undivided attention. I get a little breathless when gripped with suspense or excitement, and this book is filled with so many moments that make your heart skip a beat. Mills is especially skilled when it comes to writing dialogue. Each characters’ speech sounds natural and flows just as well as the non-dialogue text. When Mills switches the point of view, there is no confusion because the character’s voice shines through very clearly and the writing style is concise.
I can say with all honesty that Mills’ books are all very unique. Although I’ve read several FBI-mystery-romance books by her, they are all very different from each other, as well as books by other authors in the same genre. You would think that there are only so many meet-cute scenarios that can happen between an FBI agent and a paramour, but Mills will raise you another. In fact, she will keep them coming since this is the first book of a new series.
I’m Filipino, so I’m excited to see a Filipino protagonist whose ethnicity is not central to the plot. Sure, Mills throws in an Adobo reference – you should try this dish if you haven’t yet (it’s not the same as the Hispanic Adobo dish) – but April could be any ethnicity really. But since she’s not just any ethnicity, I’m going to nitpick a little. April is uncomfortable during long prayers, but most Filipinos are (or were at one time in their life) Catholic, so super long prayers – Hail Mary, anyone? – should be no biggie. April’s parents would prefer that she was a university professor rather than an FBI agent. Are you kidding? Filipinos love to brag and most of them love guns as well. And they live in Texas? Game over. They have guns of all shapes and sizes. And they would bring all those guns to the range to show their friends while they proudly talked about their FBI agent daughter.
But overall, I’m really amazed at how Mills’ characters spring to life in every book, this one especially. I think she is very successful with her portrayal of April’s struggle to do the right thing because I was constantly second guessing myself on what was the “right” or best thing to do in that situation too. I feel lucky to not have to make decisions that place my family on one side of the scale and the community on the other. I suppose most normal Joes like myself don’t have to.
I look forward to reading the next book. While you wait for the next installment, I suggest you pick up one of her FBI Task Force novels.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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Review & Giveaway: Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

MISTLETOE MIRACLES
Ransom Canyon
by
JODI THOMAS
Sub-genre: Holiday Romance / Western
Publisher: HQN
Date of Publication: September 25, 2018
Number of Pages: 354
Scroll down for an exclusive giveaway from Jodi Thomas! 
A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas. Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another. Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit. 
”Deeply poignant moments and artfully
rendered characters create a rich story that
transports readers to an idyllic place.”
Publishers Weekly
 
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review
I didn’t read the summary or the book jacket before diving into this lovely Christmas romance, so I didn’t know that I would get three love stories for the price of one. It was sort of a Love Actually feel, three stories running parallel to each other, dipping and twisting together every once in a while. Thomas did a fantastic job of making me care about each and every character (except for the bad guy) and every storyline.
This is the first romance novel that I have read where the leading ladies don’t appear until chapter 7. (Actually, one appears in chapter 3 but she is unconscious, so it doesn’t count.) I found that a bit unorthodox, but I liked the tone it set. You really get to know the men in this book, and I loved the three Holloway brothers’ banter so much! It makes me wonder if Thomas based them off of close friends or family because their hilarity is so vivid. Actually, all of her characters are so full of life and color. Not a single detail or conversation felt cliche or disingenuous.
 The reluctant and slow (although, is less than a month really slow?) love that develops between the three couples feels believable. Never was there a moment that I scoffed, ‘she wouldn’t do that’ or’ he wouldn’t say that.’ I was lapping up every detail and so sad whenever I had to take a break from reading to do something else.
My only critique is that there are some typo and type setting issues, at least with the e-book. I hope that those little blunders were caught before this lovely book went off to the printing press. Overall, I really really enjoyed this modern day western romance. I highly recommend it to sad hearts that need a smile, but also to anyone who just loves to feel the glow of new love in their soul.
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable. 
 
With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.
 
Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
 
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.
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Review & Giveaway: Beyond Control by Kat Martin

 
BEYOND CONTROL
The Texas Trilogy, Book 3
by
Kat Martin
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Date of Publication: May 29, 2018
Number of Pages: 368
  
Scroll down for the giveaway!

Present Danger
When Victoria Bradford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she’s on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter and nowhere to go.

Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere. That’s what its new owner, Josh Cain, wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.

One look tells Josh the pretty redhead with the adorable little girl will give him trouble of the most personal kind. But he’s seen trouble before, and he doesn’t scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend back in Phoenix is abducted and brutalized. Not even when it looks like their current problems are only the tip of the iceberg.

But if he gets too close to fierce, determined Tory, Josh knows his nights are going to be anything but quiet. And that’s one possibility no amount of training can prepare him for…

PRAISE FOR BEYOND CONTROL:

“As the excitement in Iron Springs continues, two strangers with tragic pasts form an unbreakable bond. Beyond Control is the last installment in the Texas Trilogy. It’s delightfully fast-paced, riveting, and amazingly compelling. Martin has outdone herself with unpredictable twists and suspense that will leave readers panting for more. Definitely a must-read for readers who enjoy mystery, thrills, and romance to spice up their life.” – RT Reviews Top Pick

“Bestseller Martin brings her Texas Trilogy … to a hair-raising finish with the gripping tale of a single mother on the run and the Marine veteran who offers her a second chance at happily-ever-after. Martin has a consummate skill for developing the most loveable and the most despicable characters; readers will cheer when sadistic Damon meets his well-deserved end. Martin’s finely described Texas is a delight.” – Publishers Weekly

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review
I promise that I am not exaggerating when I say that I could not put this book down. From the onset, my heart went out to this young widow with a small child who thought that she found her second true love. I know what it feels like to be swept up in an all-consuming love affair, and I also know what it feels like when things start going terribly wrong. Unfortunately for Tory, her new fiancee is a closet psychopath who takes pleasure in abusing her. My heart sank to hear how he would stalk her and managed to find her no matter where she ran. So when her resources were all but depleted and she found safety on Iron River Ranch, I couldn’t help but sigh in relief.
As I waited for the crazy ex to find her, I luxuriated in the sensual descriptions of Josh Cain and fanned myself after every heated encounter between him and Tory. Just when I thought that Martin couldn’t possibly come up with another way to describe how rugged and manly Josh looked in a T-shirt and jeans, she proved me wrong. She was also able to emulate the inner workings of the male mind when she would describe how tempting Tory looked in her bedazzled jeans and figure-hugging tops. I swear, there is only one or two not good looking people in this book. But looks aside, you become invested in the characters.
I like the pace of the story and the subplot that comes in, which makes you question just how diabolical a person can really be. Martin does a great job of throwing a wrench into the works just when you think you have things all figured out. The love scenes were blush-worthy yet tasteful. (Although I wonder if Martin has children since I don’t know many 4-year-olds that never wake up in the middle of the night looking for mom.) I almost wanted to say that the choice to include love scenes of another couple was maybe a little gratuitous, but I think that Martin wanted to shed some additional light on the struggles of a particular population in our country. I would say more but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of another great coupling.
Some might think it’s a bit on the nose, but I love the story arc of Tory’s relationship with Josh’s dangerous horse, Satan’s Star. I like how Martin uses the horse’s issues to parallel those of the humans around him. I just like animals in general, so I always got a cozy feeling when the horses were in the scene.
I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy romance and/or suspense novels. It definitely makes me want to read the other two books in the trilogy.

 

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
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Review & Giveaway: A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

 
A BORROWED DREAM
The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2
by
Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 352

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Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

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PRAISE FOR A BORROWED DREAM:

“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” — Booklist

“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” — RT Book Reviews

PRAISE FOR A STOLEN HEART, BOOK ONE IN THE CIMARRON CREEK TRILOGY: 
“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”Publishers Weekly

“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”RT Book Reviews

“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”Booklist 
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review
Catherine Whitfield endeared herself to me in the same way that Lydia Crawford (now Whitfield) did in book one of the series, A Stolen Heart. And that’s because Cabot creates such wholesome and believable leading ladies. Although Catherine is the jilted, secondary character in the first book, in A Borrowed Dream she steps up as a commanding school teacher who does everything in her power to protect her students and to help even strangers who are in need.
After falling in love with Travis Whitfield in book one, you might think that you don’t have room in your heart for another man in Cimarron. But Austin Goddard is a gentle, capable man of many talents. The loving way in which he attends to his motherless daughter, Hannah, is enough to make most women swoon, but a man with a secret is all the more alluring. Despite the lack of calluses on his hands, Austin proves to be a more than capable rancher and the mothers of Cimarron are lining up their single daughters trying to tie the man down. If word ever got out what his real profession was, I imagine they would have resorted to even kidnapping to nab the widower.
Austin’s expertise makes it plausible that a dangerous man will do anything to track him down. Every few chapters, Cabot takes us to a dark place where sinister men are becoming more and more irritated when they can’t find Austin and Hannah. While you hope that they won’t succeed, you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Like every good romance novel, the heroine never sets her cap for the dashing newcomer that all the other women in town have their eye on. Their love blooms slowly over tiny acts of kindness that grow into a deeper understanding of one another, overcoming circumstances that test a person’s trustworthiness, and the moment when you realize that your life cannot continue happily without the other person by your side.
Austin’s daughter, Hannah, might have been seen as a pawn or an obstacle by other women, but Catherine only saw a child that needed help. And when another child, Seth, so obviously needs her aid as well, it was heartwarming to watch Catherine and Austin spring into action as a team. Before long, their budding relationship becomes evident and adds an extra layer of complication as the danger continues to loom.
The arrival of yet another stranger to Cimarron sets us up for the final installment of the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. This subplot keeps the book from being too neat and tidy, but doesn’t distract from the main story. Also, it answers some questions left hanging in the previous book. As things wrap up nicely for our heroine in the end, we know that we will see more of her in the next book. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series. I know I will love the next lead heroine as much as Catherine and Lydia. Not to mention, my shelf will look wonderful with such pretty book covers being displayed.



Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. 

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2ND: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
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Review & Giveaway: Aransas Morning by Jeff Hampton

ARANSAS MORNING
by
JEFF HAMPTON
  Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life
Date of Publication: September 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 304

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When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.


PRAISE FOR ARANSAS MORNING:
“Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”

“In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”

“I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”

“Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”
“Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”


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300b2-review
For me, characters carry a book. If I don’t care about the characters or find them impossible to believe, I can’t read more than a few chapters. Hampton’s characters pulled me in; hook, line, and sinker. And there was even a beautiful pace in which each new character came along and the narrative followed them a bit.
Sam Barnes is a beatdown man who just bums around the beach. He works the odd job so he can eat canned soup in his tin can of a trailer home. Locals know who he is, but nobody really knows him. In retrospect, Sam asking a man who is staring out at the water what he sees is a bit out of character. But it’s this interaction that changes everyone’s lives.
When Hampton follows a character, he seems to write in their voice yet maintains that third person perspective. The tone shifts are truly remarkable. When we’re with Sam, sentences are short and details are sparse. Shelly’s first chapter is descriptive and the language flows. Dave’s chapter talks about the present but constantly circles back to Debby, his wife who passed away a year prior. When Sam collides with Dave, which rolls them toward Shelly, everything is set into motion. As the book progresses, it feels like a single voice has taken over the narrative; either Hampton’s alone, or all of the characters as a collective.
I found it sad that Sam was sort of a wake up call for Shelly and Dave. Neither of them wanted to end up like him, destitute and miserable, so they made big decisions to leave their old lives behind to find new ones. But happily, they wanted to share their new lives with this man who was so much more than he seemed. “He dreamed of being a king but he’d always just been a jester.” (p. 4) was a line that grabbed me.
It was amazing to watch such strong characters with fierce opinions and habits to come together and achieve a common goal. Who could foresee that this strength and ferocity would transform into loyalty, trust, friendship, and love? And I think one of the big lessons of the book is that you have to forgive yourself once you’ve already been forgiven by others. Other gems I have taken away are the importance of living your best life, handling business matters with integrity and respect, and marching to the beat of your own drum.
My only critique is that I wish Hampton didn’t spell out situations so explicitly at times. He literally tells us about a jealousy that’s not romance based- it’s pretty obvious. When there is some friction between two of the main characters, he tells us why they’re acting cold to each other when we could already glean that from the previous scene.
I highly recommend this book to people who love a good redemption or personal transformation story. I am glad to hear that there will be an Aransas Evening coming soon. I look forward to reading it.

During a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.
He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.
Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where his interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.
Aransas Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa Jack, When the Light Returned to Main Street, Jonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.
Watch for Aransas Evening, a sequel to Aransas Morning, in 2018. 
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